Host/Executive Producer
Dick Clark
The Judge/Writer/Producer
Gary Johnson
Don Morrow
Bob Hilton (sub)
Pilot: 9/15/1989
Syndication (Daily): 8/31/1990 – 8/2/1991
Ron Greenberg Productions/
Dick Clark Productions
Buena Vista Television

Today is (insert date). This is (insert champion's name), he/she is (insert number) step(s) away from an Ultimate Challenge worth (insert jackpot amount)/he/she returns with (insert grand total). (insert challengers) (Champion), is the champion, (Challengers), you are... "The Challengers"! And now, here's your master of the challenge, DICK CLARK!

The Challengers is the one year old game show and revival of The Who, What, or Where Game, where three contestants (one being a returning champion, and the two others being challengers) answered general knowledge & current events questions to win cash.


Challengers SprintEdit

To start, all three contestants were given a starting bankroll of $200 (originally they started with nothing). Then host Clark asked a series of rapid-fire toss-up questions. The first player to buzz-in with a correct answer won $100, but an incorrect answer lost $100. Originally on a miss, the opponents got a chance to answer; later on a miss, the question ended (ala Sale of the Century). The round lasted for 60 seconds (one minute (1:00)) and when time was up, the player with the most money earned control of the board.

Main Rounds 1 & 2Edit

In each round, six categories were displayed on the video wall. The player in control selected a category and three sub-categories were shown with money amounts attached to each. The contestants then selected in secret what question they wanted to answer. After the selections, the questions were asked in order from lowest value to highest value, and to the player(s) who chose them. If all three contestants selected a different category, then everybody would receive their own question; if two selected the same sub-category, a toss-up question was asked to both of them, leaving the third contestant with a solo question; but if all three players selected the same sub-category, then the values of all the questions were doubled and all three players got the question they chose for a chance to "run the board".

A correct answer to any question added the value of the question, but an incorrect answer deducted the value; on a two-person toss-up while a correct answer worked the same, on a miss, the opposing player could decide to either answer the question at the risk of losing the money or pass it up without penalty; on a three-player toss-up, on a miss, the opposing player(s) would have a chance to answer, with the pass option in effect for the last player left, but a correct answer from any player not only won the money but could decide to either take one of the remaining questions or pass and go to another category; when going for the other questions, an incorrect answer lost money and stopped that player's progress, while a correct answer added more money (and the decision to go for the last question or stop).

Dollar values were doubled in the second round, and any player who finished Round 2 with zero or a negative score, was eliminated from the game (a la Jeopardy! and its spin-offs).

Play continued until all the categories were taken or when time was up.

Money AmountsEdit

When the show began, all dollar values were generous, but they were diminished for the rest of the run.

First HalfEdit

Round 1 – The questions were worth $150, $200 & $250, with the double values in case of three of a kind being $300, $400 & $500 (meaning that running the board was worth $1,200).
Round 2 – The questions were worth $300, $400 & $500, with the double values in case of three of a kind being $600, $800 & $1,000 (meaning that running the board was worth $2,400).

Second HalfEdit

Round 1 – The questions were worth $100, $150 & $200, with the double values in case of three of a kind being $200, $300 & $400 (meaning that running the board was worth $900).
Round 2 – The questions were worth $200, $300 & $400, with the double values in case of three of a kind being $400, $600 & $800 (meaning that running the board was worth $1,800).

The Final ChallengeEdit

The final round of the game was appropriately called "The Final Challenge". In this round, one last category was revealed followed by three sub-categories with odds posted below (Even, Double and Triple). The bigger the odds, the harder the question. When host Clark said "And the challenge is yours", all three contestants or whoever was left had 15 seconds to choose a subcategory and make one final wager which could be any or all of their current scores. Unlike the main rounds, only one player could answer each question; if two or all three players chose the same subcategory, the highest wager would get the question. Contestants in play were asked the questions they chose in order of difficulty and a correct answer added the wager (times the odds), but an incorrect answer deducted the wager.

In the event that only one contestant made it to "The Final Challenge", the round played just like the situation when all three selected the same question; for that one remaining player had a chance to run the board. He/she chose a sub-subject followed by a verbal wager and then the question was asked. A correct answer added the wager (times the odds) and the right to choose another question, or stop right there, but an incorrect answer deducted the wager and automatically stopped progress.

All contestants who didn't finish in the red get to keep all the cash they won, but the player with the most money became the champion and returned to play the next show against two new challengers. Champions stayed on the show until they were defeated.

The Ultimate ChallengeEdit

The Ultimate Challenge was a special bonus round played by the championship player in which he/she had to answer one or more questions to win even more money.

1st VersionEdit

When the show started, in order for champions to play the Ultimate Challenge, they had to win three games in a row. During that time, the Ultimate Challenge was always played at the top of the show. To start, the champion was given a choice of two categories. When the champion made his/her choice, three subcategories under that category were revealed and host Clark read each question under each subcategory (one for each subcategory) in order of their difficulty. If the champion could answer all three questions correctly, he/she won a cash jackpot which started at $50,000 (later $25,000) plus $1,000 every day until won (originally it was $5,000 for every unsuccessful attempt).

Champion Larry Kaplan was the first to win the Ultimate Challenge which was worth $60,000. Kaplan was also the first contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to miss the $500,000 question (#14).

2nd VersionEdit

Starting with the 11/13/90 show, the Ultimate Challenge followed the tradition of the other self-contained game shows with a bonus round, for it was played at the end of the show. This time only one category was shown and one question was asked. All trips to the Ultimate Challenge were worth $10,000.

During that time, the Challengers Sprint round was deleted from the show in favor of an opening toss-up question. The Ultimate Challenge was eliminated when the Challengers Sprint was reinstated.

Cash AwardsEdit

All contestants who went home with money would get to decide to either put their money on their account courtesy of CitiBank Visa or (in later months) MasterCard or keep all the money in cash. The latter option was usually always taken.

"All of today's players will receive their winnings in a CitiBank Visa account.  They get all the distinct benefits and exclusive service that only CitiBank provides." - Don Morrow (Premiere episode)

"Prizes awarded by CitiBank MasterCard and Visa card, America's most widely-used credit cards." - Don Morrow (Later months)

April Fool's Day Show (4/1/91)Edit


On April Fool's Day in the first round after the Challengers Sprint, a nasty joke was played on Dick and the contestants. The video wall displayed six unusual category names:

  • Pre-Columbian Architecture
  • The Politics of Burundi
  • Quantum Physics
  • 14th Century Philosophers
  • Anaerobic Zoology (Dick couldn't pronounce it, let alone say it)
  • Existential Poets

Mike Dwight, the leader at the end of the Challengers Sprint and one of the two challengers of that day picked "Pre-Columbian Architecture", and Dick wondered what's going on and what were the real categories; that's when a birthday party-like "APRIL FOOL!" sign popped up on the wall, giving everyone a big laugh.

Dick later asked Judge Gary Johnson, "Is this your idea?" Gary replied, "I thought it was appropriate for the day even though I was curious to hear what they had to say about Burundi." Dick answered back, "Go to your room!" That's when the real first round began.

Additional TriviaEdit

Gary Johnson, the show's judge/writer/producer, is now one of the judges/writers/producers on Jeopardy! Prior to this, he was the producer for Scrabble.

Though the Challengers Sprint Round used the one question per player format in later shows, a la Sale of the Century, the buzz-in sound always came from Sale, albeit much higher-pitched and abridged (sounding more similar to Boardwalk & Baseball's Super Bowl of Sports Trivia’s ring-in sound).


  • New York–WNBC (despite a flyer saying WCBS would carry it, which never did; WNBC aired the entire run)
  • Los Angeles–KCAL
  • Philadelphia–WCAU
  • San Francisco–KRON
  • Boston–WBZ
  • Phoenix--KPNX
  • Minneapolis–KARE
  • Miami–WCIX
  • Sacramento–KXTV
  • Seattle–KOMO
  • St. Louis–KTVI
  • Pittsburgh-WPXI
  • Indianapolis--WTTV
  • Baltimore–WBAL
  • Kansas City–KCTV
  • Milwaukee–WTMJ
  • Buffalo–WGRZ
  • Norfolk-WVEC
  • Dayton–WKEF
  • Rochester, NY–WROC
  • Des Moines–KCCI
  • Springfield, IL–WICS
  • Cedar Rapids–KGAN
  • Youngstown-WFMJ


Development PresentationEdit

Trade AdsEdit



Ron Greenberg - based off his previous show, The Who, What, or Where Game.

(Current Events) Question ReferencesEdit

"All News and Current Events questions are verified by Newsweek Magazine."  - Don Morrow


Rules for The Challengers
The Challengers Rules Page @ The Game Show Lair
The Challengers Rules Page @
The Challengers Rules Page @
Michael Tiller's Challengers Rules Page