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Wheel of Fortune Season 16 title card

Go back to Season 15, or forward to Season 17?

A timeline for Season 16 of Wheel of Fortune, which aired in first-run from September 7, 1998 through June 4, 1999.

Season ChangesEdit

  • The opening graphics change again, placing the show's logo over the door frame during the chant. A red version of the two-row logo is seen on a marquee above the door frame; the doors themselves have the Columbia TriStar logo on the left and "STAGE 11" on the right, with a small "ON AIR" sign in front of them. The logo above the marquee is a flashing lights variation of the logo introduced last season, with each word lighting up during the chant. After the chant, the doors open to reveal the studio. Towards the fade from the Sony Pictures Studios exterior to the interior, a photo of Pat and Vanna can be barely seen on the left towards the pan to Stage 11.
  • The Friday Finals format is eliminated, with a single exception for this season (see below). As was the case before September 1989, contestants once again stay for only one episode. In the 2000s, Pat revealed on the Sony Rewards website that this was done because the most skilled contestants are not always the top winners.
  • The Wheel is once again altered:
    • Surprise is retired. As a result, a second Prize is now added in Round 3, taking Surprise's former place on the yellow $400 near Lose A Turn.
    • Jackpot moves to the green $500.
    • The three pink $250 wedges are increased: the ones between $400 and $900, as well as between $400 and Lose A Turn, become pink $300s. The one between the top dollar value and $600 is changed to a yellow $300, while the purple $500 is decreased to $250. The yellow $1,000, present underneath the top dollar values, is replaced by a blank white or gray wedge.
  • The $25,000 cash prize is no longer taken out of the W-H-E-E-L envelopes if it is won.
  • Pat's wardrobe sponsor is changed to Façonnable.
  • Likely at this point, cars are no longer offered as Wheel Prizes until the introduction of the Mystery Round in Season 20.
  • In earlier episodes of this season, the URL (from the weekend repeats of Season 15) still appears between the credits and copyright date, and the closing theme still plays over the 1989 King World logo. Later in the season, the show's website is promoted at the end of each program with upbeat instrumental pop music (complete with a remix of the opening chant) with category chimes at the end of the music; earlier episodes with this promo play the music into the King World logo with the category chimes heard then. From early-mid 1999, the music ends as soon as the promo does and the King World logo's music returns until the logo as a whole is replaced by a new one that replaces the bars with a ribbon to form the "star", beneath a sunny sky background complete with thunderclap.
  • On an episode sometime between now and the end of Season 17, the puzzle HAIR ? PAINT ? HIGH ? (Roller) is the last known Fill In the Blank puzzle with the question marks at the end instead of the beginning.

September 1998Edit

  • The weeks of September 7 and 14 are taped at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is the last time until 2009 that the season begins with a road show. During these two weeks:
    • The audience does the opening chant.
    • All of the prizes are American-made.
    • The episodes use the same round structure as the Season 15 premiere week.
    • Due to the smaller size of the Benedum Center, any prizes won in the Bonus Round are shown on the video screen instead of onstage.
    • The Bonus Round window is shaped like a keystone.
    • A special opening theme debuts for road shows, which is still used into the mid-2000s.
  • During the week of September 7 (Family Week), Charlie's intro is "From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, America's game salutes the American working family!", followed by pictures of working men and women in gear-shaped "windows".
  • On September 7:
    • Although a repeated S is called in Round 1, it is not acknowledged as such.
    • A family pair solves the bonus puzzle FLIGHT CREW despite getting no help from their extra letters.
    • In the final segment, Pat and Vanna chat with Linda Chavez-Thompson, then the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO.
  • On September 14:
    • Fred Rogers makes a cameo after he is the answer to Round 2's Who Said It? puzzle IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD.
    • Contestant Ray's letters fill in the bonus puzzle FORK entirely.
    • The bonus prize is an unusual bundle consisting of a Dodge Durango, barbecue grill, and food basket.
  • On September 17, the Round 2 prize includes a shopping spree at a Pittsburgh mall, most likely Ross Park Mall.
  • On September 21:
    • A video wall is added behind the contestants.
    • The Puzzler round is made official. Oddly, most Puzzler puzzles tend to display only on one line.

October 1998Edit

  • On October 2, contestant Shirley sweeps the game and wins $25,000 in the Bonus Round.
  • On October 5, the Round 2 puzzle MEL GIBSON & DANNY GLOVER (Show Biz) is followed by a trivia question asking for the number of Lethal Weapon films Gibson and Glover starred in together. The contestant provides the correct answer of four.
  • On October 6, WHEEL OF FORTUNE GOES NIGHTTIME is the Round 1 puzzle (The 80's).
  • On October 8, there are two sets of repeated categories: Place in the Puzzler (Round 2) and Round 4, and Thing in Round 5 and the Bonus Round.
  • The week of October 12 is one of the only weeks in the show's history where no cars are offered in the Bonus Round. The prizes this week comprise $25,000 and four different shopping sprees: in Rome, Paris, Houston, and Beverly Hills. The Rome trip is chosen on Monday-Wednesday, and the Paris one on Thursday and Friday; all five Bonus Rounds are lost.
  • On October 12, the Puzzler is in Round 3 for the only known time.
  • As of October 12, the Puzzler is still indicated by a series of bells.
  • On October 13, six rounds are played.
  • On October 14, there are two sets of repeated categories: Thing in the Puzzler (Round 1) and Round 4, Places in Round 3, and Place in the Bonus Round.
  • On October 15, the Round 3 puzzle SCIENTISTS PIERRE & MARIE CURIE is the only known instance of Husband & Wife using a descriptive word.
  • On October 22, there is a Jackpot win.
  • On October 23, there are two sets of repeated categories: Place in the Puzzler (Round 2) and Round 3, Phrase in Round 4 and the Bonus Round.
  • On October 27, there is a $12,200 Jackpot win.
  • On October 30:
    • In an extremely unusual move, the Puzzler (in Round 1) is a Fictional Place (SLEEPY HOLLOW).
    • Round 4 is a Before & After of FAT FREE SPIN.
    • Contestant Jim sweeps the game (except for the Puzzler), but loses a gold and silver package in the Bonus Round.

November 1998Edit

  • On November 2:
    • Vera Morris, voted Miss North Carolina in the 1998 Miss USA pageant, is a contestant.
    • The Puzzler (Round 2), Round 4, and the Bonus Round are Thing.
  • November 9 is Soap Stars Week, with soap star/contestant teams. During this week:
    • The round structure of the season premiere week is used.
    • At the top of the show, the contestants introduce both themselves and their teammates.
    • The soap stars' nametags are the usual shape with a sparkling star behind it.
  • By November 9, the bells are removed from the Puzzler round.
  • On November 9:
    • The Round 1 puzzle FASHION SHOW is followed by a Puzzler of DRESSED TO KILL, making it one of the few Puzzlers longer than the answer before it.
    • Tyler Christopher and his contestant sweep the game and win a BMW Z23 Roadster in the Bonus Round.
  • On November 10:
    • The winning team (Allison Sweeney and her contestant) has only $2,450 before the Bonus Round.
    • The bonus puzzle is HAIRCUT. Less than a month prior, on October 12, the bonus puzzle was a very similar HAIRDO.
  • On November 11:
    • The Round 3 prize is not introduced due to Rounds 1 and 2 taking too long.
    • The winning team (Vanessa Marcil and John) has only $2,500 before the Bonus Round.
  • On November 12:
    • Rhyme Time debuts in Round 1; the puzzle FINE WINE has only three unique consonants.
    • The Puzzler THE KENNEDYS (after Round 2) is categorized as Proper Name, suggesting that the show has not yet begun using Family for the names of individual families.
    • Joshua Morrow and his contestant Lynn sweep the game (except for the Puzzler) and win $25,000 in the Bonus Round.
  • On November 13, the Round 1 puzzle DYNASTY is followed by a Puzzler of JOHN FORSYTHE. This is one of only four known instances of the Puzzler being longer than the puzzle before it.
  • The weeks of November 16 and 23 are taped at the Las Vegas Hilton.
  • On November 17, the Puzzler (Round 1) is Things, while Round 3 and the Bonus Round are Thing.
  • November 20 is the ceremonial 3,000th episode, although it is actually #2,980. It is a clip show with commentary from Pat and Vanna.
    • The show begins with the intro from the January 18, 1978 episode; this cuts to the 1998 intro after nine seconds, followed by a montage of the various openings in chronological order (minus the 1994 and 1996 ones), over an audio montage of contestants, Pat, and the game's 1989-current sound effects. The end of the 1992-94 "dancing wedges" intro ends the montage, dissolving to a "3000th Show from Las Vegas" logo before wiping to Charlie onstage in a tuxedo. Charlie's introduction, over a timpani roll, is "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the 3,000th time, it's my pleasure to introduce the stars of our show: Pat Sajak and Vanna White!"
    • Pat and Vanna sit in director's chairs at center stage, with a ceramic Dalmatian by Vanna's chair.
    • A unique music bumper is used at the end of each segment except the last.
    • In the first segment:
      • The first montage is of various contestant reactions set to big-band music, including two circa 1985 (Joan and Larry), one from the third sunburst era (Kelley), and one from Season 7 (Linda). The last one shown is the contestant Richard from May 6 in Houston who chased Pat.
      • This segues into various other moments spliced within Brian's rap from December 5, 1994. These include Gale from late 1984 (James/Gale/Sharon) solving CLEVELAND OHIO with just the N revealed for $5,000, followed by various occupation statements (including Craig from the third sunburst era mentioning that he works "for a major government", Charles from 1983-84 being "a lady's gentleman", and the clown/mortician Frank from 1998).
      • Following the rap, more winners' reactions are shown from previous Bonus Rounds, ending with the aforementioned contestant Richard carrying Pat back to the Wheel.
      • Merv Griffin recounts the show's creation, followed by two clips from the first 1974 pilot hosted by Edd Byrnes (Rounds 2 and 1, respectively), which is claimed to be the pilot despite Shopper's Bazaar in 1973 and the second Byrnes pilot. While original hostess Susan Stafford appears in the footage, she is not acknowledged.
      • The 1974 clips are followed by a clip of a circa-1985 shopping segment, including the purchase of a ceramic Dalmatian.
      • The retirement of the trilon-based puzzle board is discussed, including a clip of Vanna revealing FOR SALE on February 21, 1997; time-lapse footage of the old "home base" board being wheeled off and the monitor board being set up; Vanna revealing the S in the new board's first puzzle (VALENCIA SPAIN); and shots of various pop culture-related puzzles.
      • The next segment discusses the show's popularity. A clip is shown of Pat and Vanna doing a whistle-stop tour of the East Coast (February 1987); various magazine covers and comic strips that have referenced the show; Ronald Reagan name-dropping Vanna in a speech; and a clip of the Friends episode "The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy" (September 19, 1996), in which Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) watches an early Season 14 episode with the puzzle MOUNT RUSHMORE (itself done specifically for that episode).
      • Various international adaptations are briefly shown, although strangely not the British or Australian ones despite both still being on the air at this point.
    • In the second segment:
      • Merv appears again, recounting Vanna's selection. This is followed by two clips of her first audition episode in November 1982 (interestingly, her entrance is done to Alan Thicke's "Temptation Eyes"-based cue), her first entrance as permanent hostess, and her first turned letter.
      • Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" plays over a montage of Vanna's outfits.
      • Vanna then shows a montage of her pregnancy announcements and on-air introductions of her children.
    • In the third segment:
      • The road-show opening music plays over a montage of road show openings, concluding with three outtakes from the opening of a San Diego episode in May 1997.
      • "Simply Irresistible" plays again over a humorous montage of Pat's "wardrobe", but it stops about 10 seconds in.
      • The clips switch to Mary Wells' "My Guy" over a montage of Pat's quirky behavior, including people picking him up (one from the first half of Season 1); singing the 1957 Zorro theme after the December 15, 1994 Bonus Round; a shot of his frog hat on March 17, 1987 (daytime); eating a cake after the aforementioned circa-1985 shopping clip; a remark after a puzzle of HOME IS WHERE YOU HANG YOUR HAT during the third sunburst era; stripping (sped up) after Darlene retires with $119,351 on November 1, 1996; various "Charlie, put down that _____!" Jackpot intros; glancing at a "Practically Perfect People" version of himself while introducing a Round 2 Prize (circa 1985, with the Winter decorations on the walls); and (from a different episode between mid-December 1984 and June 1986) dropping said item on the Wheel as he signs off.
    • In the fourth segment, Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston's "It Takes Two" plays over a montage of Pat and Vanna's interactions, including their kiss from his last daytime show (January 9, 1989); inhaling helium from on-set balloons (likely from a New Year's week in 1997 or '98); pieing each other; Pat cutting her hair on December 1, 1995; and their trading places for the November 21, 1996 Bonus Round. "It Takes Two" is also used as the bumper.
    • In the final segment, Pat and Vanna do not do their traditional sign-offs. Instead, they simply thank the viewers for watching the past 3,000 episodes, and then kiss one another, mouth to mouth, as they say good-bye.
    • The credits are done under the "3000th Show from Las Vegas" logo.
  • November 23 is Family Week, with the round structure of the season premiere weeks. This is the last week to use that round structure; all games after this point introduce $5,000 in Round 4 and do not end before then, even if the time spent on the first three rounds would warrant otherwise.

December 1998Edit

  • On December 3:
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Contestant Jerry solves the Round 2 Fill In the Number puzzle #### A SPACE ODYSSEY as "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY". He is credited with a correct answer, and given the $2,000 bonus for the correct number.
    • All three contestants hit Bankrupt consecutively in Round 4.
  • On December 11, the Round 2 Prize includes a television, which displays the opening of the ceremonial 3,000th episode when Charlie describes it.
  • December 18 is the real 3,000th episode.
  • December 21 is the first Christmas week to be called Christmas Week instead of Happy Holidays.
  • On December 25:
    WOF Holiday Wedge

    ...Merry Christmas?

    • The Round 3 Prize is a trip to Walt Disney World plus a $2,500 gift certificate redeemable at The Florida Mall or any other mall owned by Simon Property Group. Strangely, the footage shown of Florida Mall is at least four years out of date.
    • The above Prize's wedge has a small gift box in the center, suggesting that it is the Surprise wedge used the week of December 22, 1997. Pat opens the box to find a CD jewel case with his picture on it, and gives this to Claudia who wins it (also that day's winner) before the Bonus Round.
    • There is a $9,850 Jackpot win.
  • December 28 is Wheel into 1999 Week. This is the last time the New Year's week is called "Wheel into [year]", and the last New Year's-themed week until Season 28.

January 1999Edit

  • Sometime this year, the bonus puzzle WORKPLACE (categorized as Place) is the third known instance of the category also being part of the answer.
  • January 4 is Fabulous Florida Week, taped in Culver City.
  • During the week of January 18 (West Coast Adventures), four of the five bonus prizes (minus the $25,000) are a car or boat combined with a trip.
  • On January 18:
    • No vowels are bought in Round 2.
    • The Round 3 puzzle BLACK BACKPACK is an extremely rare instance of both a main-game puzzle with only one vowel and a puzzle with none of the five most common consonants in it.
    • The first spin of Round 3 ($3,500) is not added to the Jackpot until after the letter from the second spin is revealed.
    • With only the P missing from the aforementioned puzzle, both the red and yellow contestants give wrong answers back-to-back.
    • The scoreboards are still lit up during the first spin of Round 4.
    • Rounds 1 and 4 are played entirely by the contestants who began them, although Free Spin is used in Round 1.
    • The Round 5 puzzle NO U-TURN has only three unique consonants.
    • $250 is not deducted when contestant John buys an O in Round 5, although this does not affect the outcome as he does not solve the puzzle.
    • Rounds 3 and 5 have instances of five consecutive lost turns, each including a "null" cycle. Oddly, the former cycle is left intact, while the latter is edited out (as indicated by the wide shot of Patrick's spin slowing down on the red $600 only for the close-up to show him landing on the purple one). In addition to these, another "null" cycle may have been edited out of Round 3, as R, S, and T are never called on-air.
  • January 25 is NFL Players Week, and the last use of the Friday Finals format.

February 1999Edit

  • Throughout the week of February 8, during the Pat & Vanna talk, Vanna brings in her tomato sauce and mentions different things about it each day.
  • The weeks of February 15 and 22 are taped outdoors, in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel in Honolulu; February 22 is Best Friends Week. During these weeks, Pat wears Hawaiian-themed short-sleeved shirts.

March 1999Edit

  • On March 8, after SHE SELLS SEA SHELLS BY THE SEASHORE is a puzzle, Pat and Vanna talk during the week have to do with tongue twisters
  • On March 22 (Mark/Chesterlean/Lisa):
    • The Puzzler (Round 1), Round 4, and the Bonus Round are Thing.
    • After introducing Round 1, Pat begins to say that it is a Puzzler round before saying "I don't think it is", but an offstage voice corrects him.
  • The week of March 29 is called April in Paris, even though three of the five episodes air in March.
  • On a Spring Break Week episode between now and April, contestant Steve wins with $5,000, earned entirely from a single letter called in a Speed-Up.

April 1999Edit

  • April 14 is the debut of On the Map.

May-June 1999Edit

  • May 3-24 is the Come Play in LA Sweepstakes. Home viewers may submit each day's bonus puzzle. The grand prize is a trip for two to Los Angeles, which includes a tour of the Wheel set and a chance to audition.
  • The weeks of May 3 and 10 are taped at the Apollo of Temple (now Liacouras Center) in Philadelphia. During these weeks:
    • Full shots of the board have "Philadelphia" written atop the Liberty Bell at the top of the screen.
    • A graphic of the Liberty Bell ringing forms the contestant window in the Bonus Round.
  • On May 3:
    • The Round 4 puzzle WINE AND DINE has only three unique consonants.
    • A contestant wins a "Sports Fantasy" package consisting of 12 tickets to a Flyers/76ers game, a backstage dinner, cigars from Holt's Cigar, a luxury suite at the First Union Center, autographed merchandise from both teams, and a locker room tour.
  • On May 4:
    • The opening chant is done by a crowd at Three Rivers Stadium, led by Vanna in a baseball uniform.
    • The Round 1 puzzle TAILOR has only three unique consonants. It is followed by a Puzzler of LET IT OUT, one of the only known instances of a Puzzler longer than the answer before it.
    • For no particular reason, Round 2's answer of JOHN TRAVOLTA AS VINNIE BARBARINO is categorized as Classic TV instead of Star & Role. It is also followed by a trivia question asking for the nickname of the group Travolta was a part of in Welcome Back, Kotter, and John provides the correct answer of Sweathogs.
  • On May 5:
    • The opening segment features Vanna riding a carriage in front of Independence Hall. She then looks at the camera and says, "That's Independence Hall, and this is Wheel of Fortune from Philadelphia."
    • Contestant Jean's nametag falls off during her first spin in Round 2, but contestant Patti catches it and puts it back on for her.
    • There is a $6,850 Jackpot win.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Round 1 and the Bonus Round, Things in the Puzzler (Round 1) and Round 3.
    • Round 1 is HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, even though Mother's Day did not occur until the 9th.
    • The winning contestant (Scott) kisses Pat's shoes after winning the Bonus Round, which is seen in retrospectives.
  • On May 6:
    • The camera is positioned too high during the reveal of the Round 1 puzzle; it is fixed after the first spin.
    • A "null" cycle is edited out of Round 1, as evidenced by the wide shot showing Frank's arrow heading for the green $300 but the close-up showing him landing on the purple $250, as well as Pat saying "There is no M, either!" despite no prior wrong letters being aired.
    • The Round 5 puzzle PEA PODS has only three unique consonants.
  • By May 7, the category wipe for Show Biz changes to a star.
  • On May 7:
    • No vowels are bought in Round 3.
    • There is a $6,300 Jackpot win.
    • The audience boos the bonus puzzle THAT'S IFFY after Scott fails to solve it.
    • Pat and Vanna each eat a Philly cheesesteak at the end of the show, in reference to the Round 1 puzzle EATING A PHILLY CHEESESTEAK.
  • During the week of May 10 (College Week):
    • The audience does the "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" chant.
    • Unlike other College Weeks on the road, the contestants introduce themselves from their podiums, instead of walking from center stage.
    • Temple University's band plays music bumpers.
    • The Bonus Round prizes comprise four cars and $25,000 cash.
  • On May 10, the Round 2 Prize is an opportunity to throw out the opening pitch at a Phillies/Cubs game on September 29, along with season tickets to Phillies games and autographed merchandise. It is promoted via footage of Vanna at a Phillies game.
  • On May 11:
    • Round 1 is the first known instance of Proper Names.
    • The shot of the Round 1 puzzle being revealed is accidentally re-used for the puzzle reveal in Round 2.
    • The Round 2 prize is a $2,500 shopping spree at King of Prussia Mall.
    • Boyz II Men makes a cameo after Round 2.
    • Contestant Christopher sweeps the game (except for the Puzzler) and wins $25,000 in the Bonus Round. After winning, he picks Pat up and pretends to wrestle him.
  • On May 12:
    • The buzzer sounds on a repeated A in Round 3, even though there is an A in the puzzle; normally, the buzzer only sounds on repeats if they were not in the puzzle to begin with.
    • The Round 4 puzzle BEN AFFLECK is inexplicably categorized as Show Biz instead of Proper Name.
    • Pat gives winning contestant Jonathan a cardboard stand-up of himself after the Speed-Up.
  • On May 13:
    • The Round 2 Prize is a $2,500 Foot Locker shopping spree.
    • There is a $9,650 Jackpot win that comes with only vowels remaining.
  • On May 20:
    • VANNA WHITE WEDDING DRESS is a Before & After puzzle.
    • On the Map is used in the Bonus Round for the first time.
  • On May 21:
    • The show opens with Kermit and Gonzo promoting Muppets from Space in front of the puzzle board, which reads MUPPETS FROM SPACE.
    • The Puzzler (Round 1) and Bonus Round are Thing, while Round 4 is Things.
    • The Round 5 puzzle PAYDAY has only three unique consonants, none of the five most common ones, and only one vowel.
    • Round 5 begins with a "null" cycle that is edited out, as seen by the wide shot of Mike's first spin passing Lose A Turn only for the close-up to show him landing on it.
    • After the same round goes to Speed-Up, the shot of the board is zoomed in tightly (as was done before Season 5), instead of the whole board being seen.
    • Contestant Shari accidentally calls T and E in the Bonus Round.
    • In honor of his last episode, director Dick Carson appears on-camera after the Bonus Round to chat with Pat and Vanna. During this, black-and-white photos are shown of various people that Carson has worked with, including Merv Griffin and Don Rickles, followed by clips from nighttime shopping-era episodes and 1990s episode bumpers. Strangely, Carson and Pat claim that he became Wheel director in 1982, although he actually began in 1978.
    • At the end of the credits, "Directed by Dick Carson" is shown over footage of him walking off in silence.

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