Break the Bank

This is one of several game shows that, in my opinion, should be ported to TNT Basic or some other language supported by Mac OS X.

Broadcast History

Full shot of game board A typical board setup The woman broke the bank for $12,000 Close-up of money bag


Two contestants, a man and a woman, compete in this game with nine celebrity panelists. The stars are seated along the top and left edges of a 20-box game board. Hidden on the game board are three $100 boxes, three $200 boxes, three $300 boxes, a wild card, five money bags and five blanks. The $100 boxes abut side to side, as do the $200 and $300 boxes. When a male contestant wins a box, the box is marked with a mustache. When a female contestant wins a box, the box is marked with lips.

To win the game, a player must claim all three boxes of the same money value or three of the five money bags; doing the latter breaks the bank. If a contestant picks a box with a money bag, he or she does not have to answer a question, but will forfeit control by accepting the money bag. If a contestant picks a blank, his or her turn ends. At the start of the show's run, for every game in which the bank was not broken, the amount was increased by $500. Minimum amount is $5,000. Later in the run, the increment was changed to $250.

The player in control selects a numbered box on the board, and the two panelists attached to that box are highlighted. The host reads a question, and each panelist gives an answer, but only one answer is correct. The show had this disclaimer:

For the purpose of making certain that contestants hear one true and one false answer to each question, celebrities have been furnished with the required answers. Comedic material has been made available to some of the celebrities.

The 1976-77 syndicated Break the Bank had these differences from the ABC version:

If any player does not have an opportunity to choose any boxes in a game, then that player will automatically return to the next game and take the first turn.

In order to make sure that all celebrities were getting called on, early in the show’s run, the producers switched some of the celebrities’ seats after each show. It seems that boxes in the middle of the board were the ones most often selected, thus leaving out some of the celebrities.

On the final show, when time ran out in the middle of the game, contestants alternated picking boxes, without answering questions, until there was a winner.

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