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"There are 13,000 taxicabs on the streets of New York. But only one of them pays you."
—Benjamin Bailey, Cash Cab
Game Show debuting on December 5, 2005 in which ordinary New Yorkers get in what appears to be an ordinary taxicab. They are questioned on the way to their destination by driver/host Ben Bailey, and for each question they answer correctly, they get money. If they miss three questions, the cab pulls over and tosses the passenger out on the street.
Contestants get two "shout-out" options: a Street Shout-Out and a Mobile Shout-Out. The first allows the contestant to call someone from a nearby sidewalk for help and the latter allows the contestant to phone a friend for help. Stopping at a red light results in a "Red Light Challenge": Complete a list answering a question and the contestant(s) gain a bonus $250 ($500 on a Double Ride) — but no strike is given for failing one of these. If they successfully get to their destination without getting three strikes, they then have an All or Nothing moment: They can either take the money, or go for a double-or-nothing Video Bonus challenge.
The original UK version (which didn't have the double-or-nothing challenge) visited various cities, but was dropped by ITV 1 two episodes into Season 2. In the United States, the show expanded into Chicago starting on Valentine's Day 2011. There is also a Canadian version hosted by Adam Growe; it spent its first few seasons in Toronto, and now takes place in Vancouver.
But it should but noted that the contestants aren't just people getting in off the street — they're "cast" like any other game show, albeit in a different way than the usual. The show's producers talk to them in a pub or somesuch, claiming to be from another reality show; when the contestant(s) get into the cab, supposedly to go to said show, they realize they're actually playing Cash Cab.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- All or Nothing: Miss three questions during the ride, and you lose it all plus you're booted out of the cab. Also, the Double-Or-Nothing Question.
- However, would getting about 60% of your taxi ride for free be a sufficient Consolation Prize?
- Bonus Round: Red Light Challenge, and the Video Bonus question.
- Driven By The Host: Quite literally.
- Game Show Host: Ben Bailey, who had to go to taxicab-driving school before he could host — since, you know, he does drive a legitimate taxicab. Beth Melewski hosts/drives the Chicago version, while Adam Growe hosts/drives the Canada version.
- Lifelines: Called "Shout-Outs". The passengers can call someone on their mobile phone or ask pedestrians for the answer once during the game. It starts to get grating to the viewers and host when the shout outs are continually referred to by name as a Lifeline. In recent seasons of the Canadian version, contestants can also switch out a question later in the game..
- Aside Glance: He does this several times during the show. Here's one example:
- Brief Accent Imitation: Bailey will sometimes greet contestants with a stereotypical New Yawk, East Indian, or Arab accent.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: While no actual celebrities have been in the Cash Cab (unless you count the celebrity episodes of the show where they are playing for charity and clearly know ahead of time that they're going to be participating in something), There are a few odd Reality TV contestants playing. Jim Morrison, the runner from the first season of The Mole won $1600 on the show, and Ken Stafford, a contestant on the fifth season of Survivor, won $800.
- Large Ham: Ben will often make silly faces when a contestant is using their mobile Shout-Out and informing their friend that, yes, they're on Cash Cab. Also, "We're at a red light, and that triggers a Red Light CHAL-L-L-L-ENGE!"
- Random Passerby Advice: Can be invoked once by the passenger.
- Rare Vehicles: Toyota Sienna minivans aren't rare as such, even as NYC taxis, but the Ford Crown Victoria sedan is still by far the most common cab.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: The passengers have varying amounts of familiarity with Cash Cab, but at least one player has recognized the eponymous cab before he even got in.
"...It's the PARTY VAN!"
- Clear on the other end of the spectrum, one contestant was so oblivious to what was going on that Ben had to fire off the game-starting party lights three times just to get their attention!
- Reverse Psychology: Quite often, Ben gives an "oooh", "oww", or any negative reactions when the given answer was correct.
- 30 Rock: In the second episode of 30 Rock's fifth season, Tracy Jordan gets into the Cash Cab on the way to the hospital where his wife is in labor.
- Title Drop: Several times.
- Who Wants to Be Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: In a taxi.
"And the Cash Cab rolls on."