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"It's just occurred to me that Samantha hasn't given us the score. Since 1981."
Humphrey Lyttelton, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (1997)

The Panel Show format has been around for a long time - it's cheap to make and easy to film. But when it's aimed towards being funny or entertaining, the points cease to matter. What may have started as a quite serious point system falls to the wayside, or maybe They Just Didn't Care about points in the first place but liked the format. Add to this gracious editing which removes answers to questions or entire questions, and the viewer will have a hard time figuring out how that team is winning when they haven't answered a single question yet.

Sure, the person/team may still "win", but they don't get anything for it, and we have no idea how they did it.

Regardless, points seem to matter less the longer a series goes on.

When the points don't matter due to the last challenge determining everything, it's a Golden Snitch.

Akin to Scoring Points in video games.



  • In the opening episode of Baccano, Gustav and Carol are discussing the immortals. Gustav awards Carol arbitrary points for her observations. These points have no meaning in the rest of the story, nor do they come up again when the two make a later appearance.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Calvinball, the points determine who's winning, but they're completely incomprehensible. Unless you're playing, of course.

 Hobbes: Okay, so now the score is oogy to boogy.

Calvin: I already had oogy!


Live Action TV

  • "Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway, the show where everything is made up and the points don't matter! That's right, the points are like the plot of a porn movie, they don't matter!" The phrase was used in the U.S. version by Drew Carey, to highlight American audiences being unused to Panel Games. The same principle applied to the Clive Anderson-hosted British seasons, but at least it could be demonstrated that Clive was, in fact, awarding points (and deducting them for references to baldness). Drew Carey himself didn't seem to keep track of the points he was awarding; eventually, he just defaulted to saying "a thousand points to everyone" after every game, and later they only seemed to come up when Drew was using that tag-line.
    • The score recap the only time Drew did one: Wayne: Who knows, Brad: Who Cares, Colin: I forgot, Ryan: -73
    • Averted on one occasion where the points actually did matter.
    • In one episode, Drew gave away $100 bills instead of points.
    • In yet another episode, Colin got the 1 millionth point ever awarded on the show, and they celebrated with balloons falling down from the ceiling as they cut to commercial.
    • After a Foreign Film Dub set in a beer garden, Drew gave out 100 beers instead of points.
    • In yet another episode, Drew simply brought in a tape recorder of himself saying "One thousand points!" Wayne stole it during a commercial break and overwrote the tape with himself chanting "My ass... my ass... my ass..."
    • "You don't get points for this round instead you get the new mega-points. They are 25% bigger and worth 50% less".
    • "One billion points to Colin. You hear that, Regis Philbin? One billion points."
  • Have I Got News for You: This is a particularly bad (read frequent) offender: because of the amount of editing involved, the teams will end up with points without you seeing them answer the questions. Nobody cares about winning, but occasionally Paul will mention winning 26 of the series against Ian's 3. He has mentioned on commentaries being more competitive than Ian, even jumping in with an answer Ian was about to give (during Ian's team's turn) and getting the points, but the lack of clarity on the points hardly matters so long as its entertaining.

 Angus Deayton: Good evening and welcome to the programme attacked this week by one viewer who wrote to complain about the random way the points are allocated, on the grounds that "the level of money wagered on the outcome of this show increases week on week". So our apologies to Mr. Joseph Wall of Newark, and one point to Ian.

    • A particularly clear example of this came when Anne Robinson hosted and gave one of them points whenever the other mentioned her husband. Hell, for all we know they deliberately cause Ian to lose.
    • When (famously rotund) MP Roy Hattersley had pulled out for the third time, at very short notice (and was due a Take That - he made a joke about when he finally did turn up) his place with Paul was filled in by a tub of lard:

 Ian: It is getting rather sad that I can't win against Paul when he's accompanied by a tub of lard and the questions are in a foreign language. (trails off laughing)

Angus: We did everything we could, Ian.

    • Its radio counterpart, The News Quiz, works similarly. Former host Simon Hoggart used to regularly offer "two points to somebody" or "two points to Jeremy for getting the right answer, and a bonus point to Alan for telling us what it was", and often ended with "And thanks to my unique scoring system, the winner is..." Before him was Barry Took, who gave points to Richard Ingrams if it looked like he might have once known the answer, or at least once known an answer. Current chair Sandi Toksvig deducts points for height jokes (although she herself will make them about Andy Hamilton).
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks: Captains have gotten moody about the random giving out of points in the past, moaning about giving over songs; perhaps the best examples are when the host deliberately prevents teams from winning. Donnie Tourette (a "punk") was mocked for caring about points, while Phill Jupitus once tried to end a game with zero.
    • Mark Lamarr would give extra points to guests he liked, such as Jimmy Cliff. He also gave a bonus point to Billie Piper for insulting Westlife.
  • QI: rewards contestants with points based on how interesting they are (and deducts points for obvious wrong answers). Occasionally, the host will say they get points for it; but by the end, there are often looks of shock from the contestants over the score. Creator John Lloyd said that he himself doesn't understand the scoring system - they apparently just hire someone to sit in a room and record scores, and no-one knows quite what logic he uses, if any. One rule that is clear though, is that 10 points are deducted for an answer that "everyone knows" but is wrong, such as Sweden having the world's highest suicide rate [1]
    • Lloyd and co-creator John Mitchinson have also noted that for all the inexplicable scoring, people are very pleased to win, unlike on shows like Have I Got News for You where no-one except the regulars really cares apart from the very occasional guest (such as Bill Deeds, who according to Ian was furious with himself for not winning).
    • Apparently every point can be explained if the panellists wish (and they have the right of appeal if they believe their score is wrong). They never ask, but it is correct.
    • It is telling that the audience has won the show more than once. (They've also come in last at least once. They only win, however, if they actually score points during the show.)
    • The purpose of the score is for Alan Davies to get something in the realms of minus a hundred.
      • He's actually won more times than any other panellist. But that's more to do with him being in every episode than with him being any good at the game; he only is a winner (or tied for the lead at the end) in about one out of eight episodes.
        • On three occasions (once each in series A, H, and I) his buzzer sound was the klaxon which goes off when a panellist is being penalised, so he lost ten points without even opening his mouth.
    • Like HIGNFY above, at least some of the apparent randomness of the points is due to editing down two hours of material into a half-hour broadcast - if someone gets forfeits or right answers during this time, their points gained in the half hour can vary wildly from those shown at the end (most recently a panellist ended up with a score of -15 despite seemingly getting no forfeits at all), but of course, they can't change the points for the edit. It becomes clearer in the extended editions, but one presumes that even more is lost from the original recorded length.
    • Gets heavily lampshaded in series I episode "International" when they discuss points with Stephen basically pointing out nobody really knows how the system works other than the guys they pay to do it. Note that this is the very start of the show and when asked to recap the scores (before any questions), Bill Bailey (who first pointed this out) is winning by a whole 3 points...cue more mocking.
    • A few episodes later, in a show about "Inequality and Injustice" they gave the scores before the quiz had started, and (similarly unfairly) refused to read out the actual scores at the end.
  • Mock the Week: Can be quite confusing with the mix of what the host finds funny and correctly answering the questions. According to Andy Parsons, they record both sides winning and then arbitrarily decide which one to use in the edit.
    • Lampshaded by host Dara O'Briain in one episode while introducing one round with "The winner is the performer I judge to have produced the best material, no, of course it isn't, it's random, stop e-mailing in."
    • In addition, Dara never explains how many points are awarded, instead just says 'the points' or 'the winners of this round are...'
  • Some Swedish examples are Snacka om nyheter (Talk about news) and SÃ¥ ska det lÃ¥ta (That's the sound of it).
  • Shooting Stars had trick questions with only Vic and Bob knowing which way they were going to spin it. Oddly enough, they did refer to the points many times throughout the show, but mainly for the little segment of Matt Lucas, who worked the drums. In the end, the "winning" team would elect a member to take part in a challenge, sometimes winning as much as 10 pounds.
  • Averted by A Question of Sport - while it is a celebrity panel show and is both funny and entertaining, the panelists are all sportsmen and women and therefore ridiculously competitive...
  • On one occasion Spicks and Specks (Aussie music quiz/panel show) ended up with the audience with a considerable number of points for answering correctly.
    • This has happened at least once in QI, but mostly because the contestants tend to end up with negative points so a single point to the audience can "win" the game...
      • QI has even had a couple of moments when the audience have lost points.
  • Aussie show Rock Wiz shows the current score at the end of each round, but points are awarded quite arbitarily, and this is often lampshaded by Julia Zemiro when one of the players complains about not getting points/the other team getting more points.
  • Technically, the points do mean something on Around the Horn...but they're completely prone to being randomly manipulated by the host in order to modify the outcome.
  • That's Numberwang!
  • Lampshaded in Charlie Brooker's You Have Been Watching after Frank Skinner had won the episode by a large margin he title dropped this trope, leading Frank to get quite upset.
  • The Australian quiz show Talkin Bout Your Generation takes this approach, to an extent (mainly to make fun of Generation Y.) The host, Shaun Micallef, often gives a bizarre number of points that are in no way relevant to the number of questions answered correctly in a round. One time a contestant actually traded places with Micallef and reassigned points between teams. The points are doubly irrelevant - the last round awards the number of points needed for any of the teams to win.
    • In addition, on one notable occasion the teams began trading points in an effort to close up the gaps. Other such antics with the points include Generation Y insisting on getting 5/8s of a point for one question. They got it.
  • Norway's own news-mocker Nytt på nytt (News in a new way, but can be read as Again and again) has some fun with this. Points are awarded (in a way), with even a counter visible...for those in the studio. The shots used in the aired version NEVER show the points, discreetly pushing them off-screen, so the viewer is left guessing to what the score is until it's (apparently) summed up and a winner (and the loser) is awarded with something funny and news-related.
  • The only really memorable thing about Adam & Joe's game show parody "Quizzlestick" is its incomprehensibly complicated scoring system.
    • Isn't that the entire point of said parody?
  • Good News Week. Just Good News Week. The amount of points scored seems a little erratic, on the occasion a question gets an answer that is. This is attributed to the Rule of Funny however. It does keep clear track of points, but is extremely casual about how they are awarded. Host Paul McDermott can be talked into awarding points for answering questions which weren't asked, for incorrect answers which are vehemently defended, and generally whenever it's entertaining. On one particularly bizarre occasion McDermott won.
    • He also once handed out points to both teams after one contestant chased a member of the opposing team into and through the audience.
  • The apparently Canadian comedy show Kenny vs. Spenny constantly features competitions between the two fellows, but the whole idea of the show is how Kenny always rigs the competitions some way. In the odd episode Spenny wins, it's usually because the joke's still on him, e.g. he races Canada's tallest stairs up by himself while Kenny takes the elevator.
  • Dave Chappelle held a quiz segment called "I Know Black People", selecting non-actors and genuinely testing them on whether they did 'know black people'. The points didn't matter for most questions, as some question gave points for any answer, and some where:

  Chappelle: "'I don't know' is an acceptable answer! Even black people don't know that shit."

  • Would I Lie to You generally averts this as the points are awarded on a very simple and straightforward basis, although not all of the questions make it through to the edit so sometimes it seems like a team is on top yet loses because the points the opposing team scored were cut. Both team captains (particularly Lee Mack) are quite competitive about the scores and who has won which series (in a series 5 episode, David Mitchell defied the trope by saying he did feel a genuine sense of competition about the game).
    • As of series 6 the producers are working out the final score from the edit and dubbing it on in post-production so the points reflect the half-hour highlights and not the full recording. Whether this has made the pointless more or less meaningful is debatable.


  • From Steve Goodman's/Arlo Guthrie's "The City of New Orleans":

 Dealing cards with the old men in the club car

Penny a point, ain’t no one keeping score


New Media


  • Mocked by I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, where the scorekeeper, the lovely and possibly sex-mad Samantha, is introduced at the beginning of each episode with more fanfare than the contestants -- and then the score is never mentioned again. This is perhaps not a surprise, given that Samantha doesn't exist. Shame.
    • Lampshaded in one of the episode in 1997, where Humph, the chairman, closes one round with "It's just occurred to me that Samantha hasn't given us the score... since 1981."
    • And yet, Humph frequently reminds the teams and the audience that "Points Mean Prizes!" Though we never hear anything more about the prizes either...
    • Humph was actually using one of Bruce Forsyth's catch-phrases. He called out, "And what do points mean?", to which the audience shouted back "PRIZES!". Humph was then usually heard muttering something like "Pathetic". ("Now go and invade Czechoslovakia.")
    • In earlier episodes, Humph would award points, but they never made sense and were never added up to a total. ("Right, well, it's level-pegging. We move on to...") Sometimes, he'd hand out points for grovelling, sometimes for not grovelling, points would routinely be reversed if someone on the leading team made an exceptionally lame joke...strangely enough, he stopped giving out points around the same time Samantha was introduced into the show.
  • You might expect Wait Wait Don't Tell Me to be like this, but it actually keeps a fairly rigid scoring system. Subverted in that the prize is essentially bragging rights for the panelist. What does matter is how callers do--they get announcer Carl Kassel to record a message on their answering machine.

Video Games

  • In Portal 2 coop, the Science Collaboration (and Opportunity Advisement) Points Mean Nothing.
  • Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People features Strong Bad awarding you points for how well you make a Teen Girl Squad comic. Really, they're just Strong Bad making stuff up, and sometimes go into the negatives.
  • While hardly classifiably as a game, Plumbers Don't Wear Ties has the narrator giving you a score after certain scenes. To rub salt in the wounds, the highest you can possibly get is in the negative six figures.

Web Original

  1. actually, it's one of the former Soviet states