14 Game Shows From The '80s And '90s That Need To Come Back
By Mat Elfring on
Game shows aren't what they used to be. Aside from series like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, or The Price is Right, most new game shows are nothing more than straightforward trivia shows with no real fun kicker or edge to them. That wasn't the case in the '80s and '90s, when some of TV's most entertaining game shows were on the air. It was a time when contestants had to run up a mountain in order to get a piece of a radical glowing rock or had to shop in a fake mall until they risked dropping in exhaustion. While there is a big nostalgia factor for a lot of these shows, so many of them were so unique, it's worth taking another look at.
Recently, Nickelodeon announced that its classic game show Double Dare will be returning to television this summers. Sadly, it's without the original host Marc Summers, but that got us thinking. If Double Dare can return, then there's a whole world of game shows from the '80s and '90s that would be a lot of fun today.
We looked into the past to find some of the best game shows that aired between the '80s and '90s that could easily get a revamp for television today. The vast majority of these shows were a lot like Double Dare, in the fact they are trivia shows with a bizarre twist. Here are 14 of them we'd love to see return to television.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
The action-adventure game show was most noted for its giant, talking head mascot, Olmec. The show had a real Indiana Jones vibe to it as teams of two battled each other in challenges for the right to explore the Temple and win fabulous prizes, like a telescope, a boombox, or a trip to Space Camp. The most infamous room in the Temple was the Shrine of the Silver Monkey, where the players had to put together a monkey statue that only fit into a podium one, specific way. Most contestants failed this challenge.
Surprisingly, Nick Arcade only had one season of new episodes, but Nickelodeon ran reruns for five years afterwards. The trivia show revolved around the world of video games, where contestants would have to answer questions about video games. Additionally, contestants would play console games like Sonic the Hedgehog and try to beat each other's high scores. The finale of each episode was contestants jumping into The Video Zone, which put the players into a weird, green-screened video game.
Wild And Crazy Kids
Aside from having the most '90s intro possible, Wild And Crazy Kids featured over-the-top games, many times based on sports. One of the more memorable ones was donkey basketball, which--you guessed it--featured kids riding on donkeys and playing basketball. There were also sloppy versions of familiar games, like Red Light, Green Light, but if you got caught moving during "red light," you were hit in the face with a pie.
This late '80s game show was all about destroying rooms in a fake house. Two teams ran amok in a fabricated house where they had to search for specific items given to them by the host of the show. Finders Keepers concludes with the winning team having to search six rooms of the house for hidden items. It's 30 minutes of people trashing rooms. As a kid, it was incredibly satisfying.
Sure, Ninja Warrior and the numerous knockoffs of it exist now, but back in the early '90s, things were Xtreme! Guts pitted kids against each other in extreme versions of familiar sports. However, the highlight of the show was the finale where contestants had to climb up a giant mountain called The Aggro Crag. If they were successful, they won a radical piece of the mountain's glowing rock.
Get The Picture
Although the show had over 100 episodes and ran for two seasons, Nickelodeon's Get The Picture didn't even make it a full year, starting and ending its run in 1991. On this series, contestants would answer trivia questions and if they answered correctly, would uncover a piece of a mystery picture behind a giant video screen, and they'd have to guess what it is. The finale was the winners of the previous rounds playing a giant game of memory where they had to correctly guess where random pictures were on the giant board.
What Would You Do?
We're not talking about the primetime, hidden camera series hosted by the delightful John Quiñones. This was an afternoon Nickelodeon series hosted by Marc Summers, which ran from 1991-93. Summers took people from the audience and tried to get them to do crazy things for cash prizes. Also, there was the pie pod, a chair contestants sat in that would automatically launch pies into their face.
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Do it, Rockapella! The game show based on a computer game took itself incredibly seriously, and that's partly what made it so great. The PBS series ran for five seasons, almost hitting the 300 episode mark. Each week, three junior detectives would help the host and chief track down a thief who stole something important (like a gigantic stadium). Once that sinister baddie was captured, the winner of the trivia rounds would have to trot around the world on a map of the Earth to try and find Carmen Sandiego, by adding markers to the countries announced by the host.
Fun House was Fox's attempt at replicating the greatness of Double Dare, but with a twist that made the finale of each episode a ton of fun. During the show, which ran from '88 to '91, contestants would battle each other in physical challenges. The winner of the opening rounds ended up going into Fun House, which was a wacky obstacle course where contestants had to find hidden flags.
Shop 'til You Drop
Networks: Lifetime, The Family Network, PAX
Although this show was aimed at adults, many kids during the early '90s watched the first few seasons of the series. Across its run on multiple networks, Shop 'til You Drop aired from '91-'05 and filmed close to 1,000 episodes. The show started with consumer knowledge and pop culture trivia, and the team of two that got the most points during that round got to (say it with me) Shop 'til You Drop! They ran around a fake mall, exchanging boxes to try and obtain the most expensive gifts possible.
Dates: 1965-67, 90-95, 2000-03
Networks: ABC, Lifetime, PAX
While this piece revolves around '80s and '90s game shows, here's one that we didn't realize was originally from the '60s. Supermarket Sweep first aired between '65-'67 on ABC, but the show gained its popularity during the '90s, when Lifetime picked up and revamped the show. Believe it or not, this series ran for 1,111 episodes. The trivia portion of the show revolved around consumer knowledge and finding things in the grocery store set within a certain time limit. The winners of the previous rounds would get to run amok in the grocery store trying to rack up a huge bill.
When Remote Control aired on MTV back in the late '80s, it was weird to have a show on the network not showing full music videos or about music in general. This trivia show was bizarre and quite funny for its time, as it had Denis Leary, Colin Quinn, and Adam Sandler as writers. The questions for the contestants revolved around television knowledge. The winner of the opening rounds would be strapped to a bed where they'd have to identify numerous music videos on a wall of TVs.
Even during the arcade boom of the '80s, there were very few game shows revolving around video gaming. Starcade was the best and brightest of them, airing over 130 episodes. On the show, contestants would answer video game-related trivia questions and would battle each other on arcade games for top scores. It was a lot like Nick Arcade, without the cheesy green screen finale. The winner of those opening rounds would go on to the Bonus Round where they played one of the arcade games on set and had to beat an average score set by 20 people.
Figure It Out
Dates: 1997-99, 2012-13
The only game show on this list that doesn't involve challengers answering random trivia was Nickelodeon's Figure It Out. For each segment, a contestant would come out with a secret about themselves, which was usually a bizarre talent. A panel of Nickelodeon celebrities would come out and ask the contestant yes or no answers to try and "figure it out" their secret. If they could not find out the secret, the contestant won fabulous prizes. Additionally, there were "Secret Slime Actions," and if anyone on the panel performed said action, the panel member would get slimed and someone in the audience would win fabulous prizes.The show got a short-lived revival in 2012.