Mark L. Walberg
Todd Newton 4/1/2003 (April Fools episode)
Burton Richardson
Game Show Network: 6/3/2002 - 6/13/2003
Gunnar Wetterberg Productions
Columbia/TriStar Television International (1st Season)
Sony Pictures Television (2nd Season)

Russian Roulette was a game show with four players on a giant 6-panel roulette board, similar to a chamber of a revolver where wrong answers could eliminate a player by causing them to drop out of the game - literally.


Main GameEdit

Four players compete each show; all competing to survive and play for up to $100,000.

The four players are each given $150 at the beginning of the show. One contestant, randomly selected to start the game, is read a multiple choice question (three choices in the first round, four thereafter, all increasing in difficulty as the round progresses) by the host, and must challenge another contestant to answer correctly. The challenged contestant has 10 seconds to answer. If the challenged player gives a correct answer, they receive money and control of the next question. After every question, another "drop zone" is added, increasing the odds that the player will be eliminated after an incorrect answer; from the fifth question onward, there are always 5 drop zones. In the event of a wrong answer, that player gives up all accumulated money to the challenger and is forced to play Russian Roulette by pulling a handle in front of them.

Playing Russian RouletteEdit

The trapdoor of the player who answered incorrectly is unlocked. After the host gives the player a chance to say some last words, they pull a handle in front of their trapdoor. This triggers the active drop zone lights (in red) to begin spinning around the field, much like a roulette wheel or (more appropriate to the metaphor) the cylinder of a revolver. The number of red lights indicates the number of active drop zones. In season one, it was a random spin. In season two, the player controlled the length of the spin by how long he or she pulled the handle.

If the drop zone light stops on the trapdoor on which the affected player is standing, that trapdoor opens and drops the player three feet (six feet in season one) into a room below the stage, with thick padding to avoid injury of contestants. This ends the round; if the player survives, the round continues. Contestants are instructed, before the show's taping starts, to crouch down and roll when landing so their heads do not remain above the hole. Only one injury has been reported, a sprained ankle; nevertheless contestants are required to sign lengthy waivers and release forms. Once a player drops out of the game, the round is over and the next round begins after a commercial break.

When time runs out in the first two rounds (indicated by a chime, usually after the fifth question), the winnings of all remaining contestants are compared. The person with the highest score is escorted to the center of the stage, and is safe from the drop. He/she pulls a handle in the center, for a random-elimination spin where a single red light revolves around the cylinder until it stops on one of the remaining contestants & a successful drop always happens here. This ends the round, with the winnings of the eliminated player (if any) being equally distributed among the remaining players (including the top winner) for the next round.

In the case of a tie for first place in a round-ending Russian Roulette, Mark himself pulls the lever, and all players are in danger of dropping.

First & Second roundsEdit

In the first round, the contestants received $150 for each correct answer and $200 in the second round.

Third roundEdit

In the third round, since only two players remain, contestants have the choice to answer the question themselves or pass it to their opponent. Correct answers in this round were worth $300 in season one, but reduced to $250 in season two. As always a wrong answer forces the player to play Russian Roulette; a right answer gives him/her money and control of the next question.

Whoever has the lower amount at the end of the round when time is up is the one to drop. The last person remaining at the end of this round assimilates the other player's score (if any) into his/her winnings and advances to the endgame. In the case of the tie at the end of the third round, the tiebreaker rules from the first two rounds are used.

End GameEdit

First seasonEdit

The contestant is moved to the top-left zone and has 60 seconds to answer five "brain-teaser" questions referred to by the host as "5 Killer Questions." These usually consist of jumbles, math problems and general-knowledge questions. The clock (also represented by the light border around the stage) begins ticking while Mark asks the first question. After every ten seconds, one drop zone opens on the playfield. If time runs out or the contestant gives an incorrect answer, he/she drops, but receives $500 for every correct answer. Contestants must begin their answers with "My answer is..." so that thinking aloud is not mistaken for an answer. If the player gets all five questions correct, Mark will announce, "Stop the clock!" The contestant then receives $10,000.

Second seasonEdit

The end game is similar to the first version, except the contestant must answer ten multiple-choice questions (each with three choices) in 60 seconds in order to win $10,000. The clock only starts after the first question has been read. If the player fails, an additional $300 is given for every correct answer given. The phrase "My answer is" before the answer is no longer required. As before, should all 10 questions be answered correctly, Mark will announce, "Stop the clock!"

$100,000 Russian RouletteEdit

After winning the $10,000 prize, the contestant then has the option of forfeiting the $10,000 for one final Russian Roulette, with the number of drop zones unopened being safe. Should the contestant risk his/her winnings and land on a safe zone (which will remain shut), the prize increases to $100,000. The money won through the first three rounds, however, is the winner's to keep and therefore not touched for the bonus round.

If the risk is refused, Mark will instruct the player to pull the lever to see what would have happened had the contestant taken the risk. However, the contestant gets to step off the trapdoor.

Two contestants would have won the grand prize in the first season even though the spin was random. In season two, it was rigged to make the trapdoor open.

$100,000 WinnersEdit

Three people have won the grand prize on Russian Roulette. All of them have been allowed to step off the trapdoor following the win.

  • Al Winchell: 3 drop zones, $102,150 total winnings (season 1)
  • Todd Truly: 4 drop zones, $102,200 total winnings (season 1)
  • Maria Lay: 5 drop zones, $102,000 total winnings (season 2)

Theoretically, the most money a contestant can win is over $104,500 in Season 1 or $104,200 in Season 2. (This means every question was answered correctly and the end game was won.)


Set PicsEdit


Trade AdsEdit

Interactive GameEdit

GSN once had an Interactive online game based on the show where you can play along with the show at anytime. Prior to this, a mobile game where you can play on the go was released by Goldpocket iTV.


GSN brought back repeats of Russian Roulette on March 31, 2008. The show aired Saturdays at 4:00 p.m PST.

International VersionsEdit

The following are a list of countries that did their versions of Russian Roulette:

Hong Kong
Republic of China
United Kingdom


72px-TV-PG icon svg


Craig Stuart Garfinkle


Gunnar Wetterberg


  • There have been several times during the series where the host jumped down one of the open holes at the end of the episode, including the Playboy Playmate episode and the aforementioned April Fools' Day episode with Todd Newton guest-hosting.
  • The game is available as a BigJon's PC version.
  • Notable contestants are Perez Hilton (as Mario Lavandeira), Lost's Jorge Garcia, Unscrewed's Laura Swisher, Revision3's Alex Albrecht and Larry Toffler from Finders Keepers.

Additional PageEdit

Russian Roulette/Catchphrases

Similar ShowEdit

Who's Still Standing? - aired on NBC from 2011 until 2012.

External linksEdit

YouTube LinksEdit