|Anne Robinson (NBC)|
George Gray (Syndication)
|John Cramer (NBC)|
Lisa Friedman (Syndication)
|The Gurin Company|
On The Weakest Link, eight contestants (six in the syndicated version) competed to win a top amount by playing a quiz/elimination contest. At the end of each round, each player is voted off as The Weakest Link.
In each round, the team’s goal was to reach the target of the maximum value within the time limit. They did that by correctly answering a series of questions posed by the host. The players on the team played one at a time from left to right. In the first round, the player in the first position or an impaired player such as wheelchair bound (as opposed to the player whose name is first alphabetically in the original British version) went first; then after that, the "Strongest Link" (the player who answered the most right) from the previous round went first in the next round. Not only that, the time was reduced in each new round. Also in each round, there was a money chain; on the chain were ascending money amounts leading up to the target amount. So the fastest way to get to the target was to create a chain of a certain number of correct answers. As soon as a player missed a question, the chain was broken, and all the money from the chain was lost. However, at the beginning of each new turn, a player in control could bank the value of the previous question by saying the word "bank" before his/her question was asked; when that happened, that money was put into the bank, but the chain had to be reset.
The bank's target value was the maximum amount of money that a team could accumulate in any one round, and if a team reached the target and banked it while already having money in the bank (a rare occurrence), the bank would be augmented to the target value instead of having the target value added to the bank. The number of money amounts/consecutive correct answers needed was determined by how many players were originally on the team. As with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Greed, and the Winning Lines Wonderwall round, the amounts were not cumulative.
|Season 1||Season 2|
In the primetime version, teams tried to build up a total of up to $1,000,000, while in the syndicated version, they tried to build up a total of up to $75,000 in season one, and up to $100,000 in season two.
On NBC, the first round lasted for 2½ minutes (2:30), and decreased by 10 seconds for each new round.
In syndication, the first round lasted for 1¾ minutes (1:45), and decreased by 15 seconds for each new round.
Voting Off the Weakest LinkEdit
Any money that had been banked by the team when the time was up was carried over into the next round, giving the team a chance to add more to the bank. However, one player would not advance to the next round, for at the end of each round, all the players on the team would write down their votes on their telestrators as to who they thought was the "Weakest Link". While they were writing, the announcer told the home viewers who was statistically the "Strongest Link/Strongest Player", and who was the "Weakest Link/Worst Player". Then the votes were revealed, and the player with the most votes was eliminated from the game. In case of a tie, the "Strongest Link" cast the deciding vote. In between the reveal & the elimination, the host would talk to some of the players & ask why he/she voted off a particular player. After the elimination, the eliminated player would do a post-show commentary of what happened.
NOTE: Should the "Strongest Link" from the last round be voted off, then the second strongest link started the next round.
In the NBC version as well as the first season of the syndicated version, when there were two players left, the final regular question round was the double round; for any money banked by the two players was then doubled and added to the bank. So the target for this round on NBC was $250,000, while the target for syndicated season one was $25,000. When the target was doubled to $25,000 in syndicated season two, the double round was removed, and after the vote off the remaining two players went straight into the final round.
In the final round, the two remaining players played a showdown for all the money in the bank. To start, the "Strongest Link" from the last round (or, in the second syndicated season, the second-strongest if that player had been voted off) decided if he/she should go first or let his/her opponent go first. Then the players took turns answering their own questions. Each player received up to five questions (three in syndication), and the player with the most correct answers won the game. If there was a tie after everybody was asked all of their questions, the game shifted into a sudden death playoff. Questions continued in pairs (they still alternated turns answering questions), and the one player who could manage to answer his/her question correctly when his/her opponent could not answer his/hers, won the game.
The winner of the game got to keep all the money in the bank, while the loser & 4 or 6 others eliminated from the game would leave with nothing.
Ironically, the highest amount won on the prime time version was $189,500 on the Tournament of Losers special (this is also the highest amount of money ever won on The Weakest Link worldwide). The lowest won was $22,500, on the Fear Factor Champions special. The lowest amount won on the daytime version was $1,000, while the highest was $53,000.
The highest amount won on a Celebrity Edition of the show was when LeVar Burton won a "Star Trek Stars" edition with a pot of $167,500.
The following list of countries that did their versions of The Weakest Link includes:
- Belgium (Dutch language only)
- Brazil (as a pilot in 2001 but was later rejected by BBC)
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Kingdom (country that originated the program)
- Anne Robinson not only hosted the American version, but she also hosted the original British version.
- George Gray hosted the syndicated show in the beginning of 2002 and ended in 2003.
- This was the only version out of all international versions where the contestants actually applauded and cheered whenever the target was hit and the host told them not to in some way. This was also the only show where applause occurred only at the end of each show. In addition, this is one of two shows to have music playing throughout; Greed is the other.
- The Hong Kong version's host originally was to act like Robinson, but Hong Kong culture usually does not tolerate this. Bowing to public pressure, Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), which broadcast the show from 2001 to 2002, made her act nice for the rest of the run. The host for the Hong Kong version in particular was Carol Cheng.
Dirty Rotten Cheater - Uses the same format except this time, one player has all the answers given to him/her. The pilot, entitled Cheaters, used the Weakest Link set.
Based on the show of the same name in the United Kingdom by Fintan Coyle and Cathy Dunning
Official website of the NBC interactive version of Weakest Link (Robinson era) courtesy of Spiderdance
Official website from the president of Spiderdance who's responsible for the interactive version of The Weakest Link
Weakest Link (day & night)
Official website from the Anne Robinson era of The Weakest Link courtesy of the Internet Archive
Official website from the George Gray era of Weakest Link courtesy of the Internet Archive
Chris Lambert's NBC Weakest Link Page
Chris Lambert's Syndicated Weakest Link Page
David's NBC Weakest Link Page
David's Syndicated Weakest Link Page
Rules for the Weakest Link
Weakest Link Fan Site
The Weakest Link @ Tim's TV Showcase
The Only Perfect Chain of the NBC version
A Perfect Chain from the 4th Round of a 2nd season episode of the syndicated version with just one second left!
A Perfect Chain from the Double Round of a 1st season episode of the syndicated version; includes a George Gray impression of Anne Robinson!
A Perfect Chain from the 2nd season of the syndicated version