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A timeline for Season 18 of Wheel of Fortune, which aired in first-run from September 4, 2000 through June 1, 2001.

Season ChangesEdit

  • The opening starts with a shot of the applauding audience, then shows flashback clips within the outline of the Wheel, which then rotates to show a golden vertical version of the two-row logo on its side. After the chant, the Wheel graphic flips up and zooms into the center. The template used is the same one from the previous season.
  • The Preview Puzzle and Puzzler rounds are eliminated.
  • Toss-Ups are introduced, thus eliminating the "Just before the show we drew numbers to see who would start the game" spiel. For this season only, both are valued at $1,000: one at the start of the show determines who starts Round 1 (with the next two contestants clockwise respectively starting Rounds 2 and 3), and one before Round 4 determines who starts that round. They reveal with a golden traditional Wheel logo coin (with light yellow "Toss-Up" text in Arial written on it) that "flips" from the bottom of the screen to the top. Also for this season only, they are not split-screened. As a result, each podium is now fitted with color-coded hand-held buzzers similar to those on Jeopardy!; the right-letter ding sounds upon ringing in.
  • Both the totals of Bonus Round prizes and end-game totals are now golden numbers in Futura Extra Bold on a green rectangle. On some episodes this season, the end-game totals are in Brush Script.
  • The Wheel's lights flash as Pat and Vanna are introduced. This lasts until the end of Season 20.
  • The Wheel is altered once more:
    • $1,000 is retired. $2,500 becomes the top dollar for Round 1, $3,500 for Rounds 2 and 3, and $5,000 thereafter. Also, Pat no longer mentions any of the top dollar values.
    • The Jackpot wedge and second Bankrupt move to Round 2, and the $10,000 Wedge back to Round 3. Unlike Seasons 12-13, the $10,000 Wedge is removed after Round 3, even if unclaimed.
  • As of this season, most episodes tend to have two female contestants and one male. This pattern is often broken for road shows and Armed Forces Weeks.
  • Merv Griffin retires, leaving Harry Friedman as sole executive producer.
  • Likely as a result of the above, "Changing Keys" is replaced by a new theme called "Happy Wheels", composed by Steve Kaplan.
  • The category strips are changed again, giving a three-dimensional appearance to the oval outline. The "rolling Wheel" effect is replaced with a slightly smaller rolling Wheel of Fortune logo, which rolls from right to left as the category "pops" out of it, on blue in a font similar to Arial. The unique category wipes for Show Biz, Headline, Around the House, and Classic TV are retired. The maingame category strips change at the start of each season through Season 24, and the Bonus Round category strip also changes at the start of each season through Season 21.
  • The beeping timer in the Bonus Round has music added to it.
  • The animated bumper following Round 3 is dropped.
  • Between now and Season 20, many puzzles in grammatical singular begin including a redundant "A" or "AN" at the beginning, particularly in the Bonus Round and Toss-Ups.
  • For this season only, the contestant's Bonus Round letter choices fade in.
  • The sponsor list, eligibility disclaimer, credits, and copyright notice are switched to Albertus MT, which remains through Season 23.

September 2000Edit

  • During the week of September 4 (Fast Cars):
    • The Bonus Round prizes comprise four cars and the $25,000.
    • A new cue is used for both solving main-game puzzles and giving right answers on "bonus" categories. Toss-Ups use a different cue heard only during this week.
  • On September 4:
    • In a very unorthodox move, Pat gives Karen help after Round 2's Clue puzzle IT'S THE FAMOUS CARTOON CALL OF THE ROAD RUNNER. After she says "I don't know", Pat elaborates by saying "What does the Road Runner say?" and she provides the correct answer of "Beep-Beep" (or Meep-Meep). This does not affect the outcome.
    • Rounds 1 and 2 are played entirely by the contestant who began them.
    • The Round 3 Prize is a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle.
  • On September 5:
    • There is a $10,900 Jackpot win.
    • The second place contestant has $22,550.
  • The week of September 11, Endless Summer, has a blue floor.
  • On September 11:
    • The 1997 main-game "puzzle solve" cue returns. The cue heard in the main game during the previous week is now used when Toss-Ups and the Bonus Round are solved.
    • The second-place contestant has $17,050.
  • On September 18, the shots of the Rounds 2 and 3 puzzles are different than usual when solved.
  • On September 19, the category strip does not appear on the second shot of the board in Round 1.
  • On September 20, during the closing segment, Pat and Vanna discuss the Toss-Ups from the contestant area.
  • On September 22:
    • Vanna wears a sleeveless shirt and pants.
    • Actor Leonard Stone (best known as Sam Beauregarde, Violet's father, in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) is a contestant.
    • The Round 1 puzzle BEAT THE HEAT has only three unique consonants.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 5.
    • Six rounds are played.
  • On September 25:
    • The Round 4 puzzle TEX-MEX has only three unique consonants.
    • Pat's son and daughter, Patrick and Maggie, do the closing segment. Both of them say that they were told "Don't be funnier than Daddy is.", and Maggie says that Vanna taught her how to say good-bye.
    • The version of "Happy Wheels" used at the end of the Bonus Round plays during the closing credits.
  • On an episode sometime during the week of September 25 (likely the 28th, as clips of this episode were used during a WPLG news report on the 29th), Round 2 is the second known instance of Slogan not using its bonus question due to the product name being part of the answer (YOU'RE IN GOOD HANDS WITH ALLSTATE).

October 2000Edit

  • On a Ships Ahoy Week episode on the week of October 2 (Nick/Michelle/Beverly):
    • Contestant Beverly says the answer to the first Toss-Up but forgets to ring in, allowing Nick to ring in with the right answer.
    • The Round 2 Prize is a $2,500 gift certificate for
    • Contestant Michelle spins only once in the entire game, landing on Bankrupt in Round 2.
    • Before the final segment, Vanna models the consolation prize (a Bushnell telescope) while holding Giovanna.
  • By the above episode:
    • The closed captioning plug is moved to the end of Round 3.
    • Fourth rounds that begin as a Speed-Up now have the puzzle revealed as normal, with the Final Spin bells immediately following the puzzle reveal chimes; previously in such cases, Pat would begin with the Final Spin, and the puzzle and category would be revealed afterward, with neither the bells nor chimes sounding. This would likely indicate that by this point, all episodes now end in a Speed-Up, with only one known exception.
    • The $25,000 envelope no longer has the show's logo on its inside.
  • On October 11, after PASSWORD (Classic TV) is a puzzle, a clip of Pat on Super Password is shown.
  • On October 13, two contestants incorrectly solve the Round 3 puzzle STRAIT OF MAGELLAN by adding "the" to the beginning.
  • During the week of October 30, due to the Halloween decorations, Pat and Vanna enter through a gate from stage left.

November 2000Edit

  • On November 2, celebrities play the game for charity while in Halloween costumes, with a minimum guarantee of $10,000, as part of an "unmask the stars" contest held on the show's website. It is also the last all-celebrity game.
    • The celebrities are Richard Simmons, Tara Lipinski, and Alex Trebek. They are respectively disguised as William Shakespeare, a genie, and a gnome named Osment, and referred to as such by Pat.
    • During the interviews, Alex presents Pat with a pair of boots, both left.
    • Both Alex and Richard throw Round 1's puzzle A HAUNTING MELODY by deliberately calling incorrect letters with only the E, O, and Y missing, then joking about their calls.
    • After Round 3, a gag tombstone reading "Shopping for prizes" is seen, next to a ceramic Dalmatian sporting its $154 price tag.
    • The second Toss-Up is not played.
    • Possibly due to taping order and/or the omission of the second Toss-Up, the Speed-Up at the start of Round 4 is revealed as it was before this season.
    • Richard calls A on two consecutive turns in the Speed-Up.
    • The bonus puzzle is IN DISGUISE, which Tara solves for $25,000.
    • In the final segment, Charlie reveals each celebrity's identity. All three appear with Pat and Vanna, as does Alex's son, Matt (also in a gnome costume).
  • The week of November 6 is taped at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
  • On November 6:
    • Background music is added to the Speed-Up round.
    • The $10,000 Wedge is mistakenly placed on the Wheel for Round 2, where it is won. Pat comments on the error at the start of Round 3, and the wedge is used in that round as well.
  • On November 7, a contestant accidentally asks to buy a W, then a zero, before correcting himself and saying O. After a stopdown, he is credited with the O, then told to spin again and credited with the W.
  • On November 10, there is a Jackpot win.
  • The week of November 13 is the Hershey's Pot of Gold Sweepstakes. The grand prize is five years of vacations for a family of four in Hawaii, plus a Lexus and $25,000 cash (plugged with a $25,000 envelope, with the Hershey's Pot of Gold logo on the top half). Ten first-prize winners get to sit in the audience during the Hawaii episodes in February. Other prizes include $500 Sony Card shopping sprees and Hershey's chocolate gift packages. Home viewers may submit an entry form from the November 12 newspaper and include at least three of the bonus puzzles from that week.
  • On November 15, the second-place contestant has $27,300.
  • On November 27:
    • The Round 2 puzzle MICHAEL DOUGLAS AND CATHERINE ZETA-JONES is categorized as Show Biz instead of Proper Names; interestingly, the puzzle airs only nine days after their marriage.
    • Contestant Mica wins Round 3 with only the $10,000 Prize and the Prize, an $8,995 motorcycle. He finishes in second place with the $19,995 total including the first Toss-Up.
    • All of the cardboard is removed from the Wheel by Round 4, as Felicia picks up the Gift Tag and the other Prize.
    • Contestant Felicia asks to solve just as the Speed-Up bells sound, and is allowed to do so. After she solves, Pat initially says that they are going to play another round before consulting the staff, who tell him to wrap up the game and recap the scores instead, most likely because not enough time remained for even a shorter fifth round. As a result, this is the last known game not to end in a Speed-Up.

December 2000Edit

  • For a few weeks around this point, the background of the set changes before the Bonus Round.
  • During the week of December 25, one of the bonus prizes is a "mystery prize" which is mentioned as being worth over $42,000.
  • On December 25, during the credits, each staff member appears on-screen at their credit. At the end, Charlie appears on-camera to wish viewers a happy holiday.

January 2001Edit

  • On an episode sometime this year, the bonus puzzle PIKACHU is both a tie for the longest known bonus puzzle without RSTLNE, and the last known instance of such a puzzle.
  • January 1 is Las Vegas Week, taped in Culver City.
  • On January 2, there is a Jackpot win.
  • On January 3, contestant Betsy says the answer to the second Toss-Up but forgets to ring in, allowing Phillip to ring in with the right answer.
  • On a Mexico Week episode from the week of January 15 (Steve/Frantz/Melissa):
    • Round 5 (which begins as a Speed-Up) is the first known appearance of The 60's since Retro Week in 1999.
    • The contestant displays do not turn off until after the first turn of Round 5.
    • 10 wrong letters are called during the Speed-Up, including 8 in a row.
    • The second place contestant has $20,250.
  • January 22 is NFL Players Week, taped at DAR Constitution Hall. This is the first time since the Olympics episodes in 1996 that a road show runs for more than two weeks, and it is the first time since then that episodes from the same venue do not air contiguously.
  • January 29 is San Francisco Week, taped in Culver City.
  • On January 29:
    • Vanna wears a sleeveless shirt and pants.
    • Although a repeated N is called in Round 3, it is not acknowledged as such.
    • Richard tries to call two letters in a row in the Speed-Up.

February 2001Edit

  • February 5 is College Week, taped at DAR Constitution Hall.
  • On February 5, contestant James solves the bonus puzzle GOPHER despite getting no help from his extra letters, after which Pat pretends to frisk him.
  • On February 6, for what is likely the first time, a Toss-Up is not solved. The correct answer is SHE ACED IT, and two contestants ring in with wrong answers. Interestingly, both guesses come with only the C missing.
  • On February 9:
    • The second Bankrupt and Jackpot wedge are accidentally placed one wedge clockwise from their normal locations, putting them on the green $500 (where Jackpot should be) and orange $800, respectively. This error does not affect the outcome, although it results in a $12,650 Jackpot win.
    • The Round 3 puzzle WHY DON'T YOU SLEEP ON IT? is the first known use of a question mark outside Fill In the Blank.
    • The second Toss-Up, THE DELAWARE BAY, is the only known Toss-Up to use more than two lines of the puzzle board. It is not known why this was done, as the answer could easily have fit on two.
    • Contestant David sets a main-game winnings record of $65,250.
    • Pat accidentally starts prompting Vanna to reveal David's Bonus Round letters before he has picked a vowel.
    • David solves the bonus puzzle I'M SO HAPPY with only the I, M, and S revealed.
  • The weeks of February 12 and 19 are taped outdoors, in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Hawaii. February 12 is Family Week, and the week of February 19 has all Hawaiian contestants.
  • On February 26:
    • A cycle of three lost turns is edited out of Round 1 despite not being "null"; the first lost turn is an incorrect vowel from contestant Sarah, as evidenced by her score being off by $250 for the rest of the round. Pat references the cycle by telling contestant Rishi "That's more like it." after his first aired spin lands on $300.
    • Contestant Kathryn finishes in third place with $650, the last known three-digit score not counting those who receive the $500 house minimum in Seasons 20-22.

March 2001Edit

  • On March 4, Microsoft announces that it is pulling the WebTV interactive elements from Wheel and Jeopardy! due to a financial dispute with Sony.
  • On March 5, a transparent Wheel of Fortune bug is added in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, written in the same font as the two-row logo. It is seen during the intro, and whenever the contestant area or puzzle board is on-screen. For road shows, "of Fortune" is replaced with "in [name of city]".
  • March 12 is Fast Cars Week, also the theme of the season premiere week. This is the first known "regular" theme, other than Big Money and America's Game, to occur more than once in one season, the second not happening until Season 32.
  • On March 14, Living Thing debuts.
  • On March 21:
    • The Round 2 Prize is a Panasonic television and ShowStopper, the former of which displays the opening to a Hawaii episode from February 1999 when Charlie describes it. Its wedge features a drawing of the TV with the traditional logo on it plus the ShowStopper, and "Entertainment" above it in black letters.
    • Both Rounds 1 and 2 are completely filled in before being solved.
    • The 1997 puzzle-solve cue is accidentally used on both Toss-Ups.
  • On March 22:
    • The 1997 puzzle-solve cue is accidentally used on the first Toss-Up, with the usual cue returning for the second.
    • Contestant Blythe's last spin in Round 1 lands on the orange $800, but only $550 is added to her score; however, this does not affect the outcome. The credits mention that a portion of the show had to be re-produced, so is possible that she actually landed on the adjacent $550 and the spin was reshot after the round, as Pat never announces the dollar amount during that turn. Oddly, her arrow is sitting on the green $500 after she solves, suggesting that more than one reshoot may have been done.
  • On March 30, nobody solves the second Toss-Up.

April 2001Edit

  • On April 2:
    • Vanna wears a sleeveless shirt and pants.
    • There is a $9,200 Jackpot win. Unusually, it is the only money won by the contestant in that round, and comes with only vowels remaining.
    • WHEEL OF FORTUNE is the second Toss-Up. After it is solved, Pat jokes that "we have officially run out of puzzles, apparently."
    • The first Toss-Up and Round 4 are Thing, while Round 1 and the Bonus Round are Phrase.
  • On April 6, Living Thing makes its first known appearance in the Bonus Round.
  • April 9 is the second and final Retro Week. Besides the presence of Toss-Ups, differences from the one in 1999 include:
    • There is no chant during the opening, as was the case prior to the first nighttime tapings in July 1983.
    • The opening uses the then-current theme.
    • The 1980s clip on at least the 13th is from between February and September 1984, and "Changing Keys" is poorly dubbed over: several seconds are audible after Pat's introduction, while the first note of the bridge is audible when Vanna is introduced (replaced by a slightly different version of the first Retro Week's opening cue).
    • The contestant video wall shows a set of unique backdrops, using the bases of the 1992-96 ones with the traditional logo on top. From Round 1 through the end of the game, the logos are replaced by illustrations of the 1992-96 design.
    • On at least April 13, Pat introduces the three "shopping" prizes.
    • On at least April 13, the classic clips shown before Round 3 use a cue that somewhat resembles the 1984-89 version of "Changing Keys".
  • On April 13:
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Greg hits the purple $600 next to $3,500 twice in a row in Round 3, but on both spins, the same shot of that wedge from another episode's Round 1 is dubbed in, as evidenced by $2,500 being visible.
    • Although a repeated S is called in Round 3, it is not acknowledged as such.
    • The last segment includes a montage of Vanna's outfits.
  • April 16 is the second Big Money Week of the season.
  • April 23 is San Diego Week, taped in Culver City.
  • On April 27, the Speed-Up puzzle FOUNTAIN AND BULL PEN is the first known instance of Same Name using AND since the end of Season 6.
  • April 30 is Soap Stars Week.

May-June 2001Edit

  • The weeks of May 7 and 14 are taped at the Dallas Convention Center. During these weeks, the 1997 Bonus Round cue is used whenever someone solves the puzzle, and the 2000 cue is used when Pat opens the bonus envelope.
  • May 14 is Best Friends Week. During this week:
    • The post-Round 3 bumper includes a spinning version of the traditional logo; underneath, a star leaves a sparkling wipe to reveal the words "Dallas Week", then rotates to form an outline of Texas. On at least the 18th, this logo is done next to a shot of a cowboy riding a horse.
    • One Bonus Round prize is 1,000,000 Advantage Miles from American Airlines.
  • On May 18:
    • After Round 1, Pat slumps over the railing upon realizing that his pants zipper is open.
    • The Round 2 puzzle A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED is categorized as Phrase instead of Rhyme Time, possibly because Round 4 is also Rhyme Time.
    • In Round 3, contestants Amelia and Kirk accidentally ask to buy a T; they lose their turn and $250 is still deducted from their score.
    • Pat mentions before the second Toss-Up that it is the 3,500th episode.
  • On May 29, one round has a Star & Role puzzle of ROBERT BLAKE AS BARETTA. Between the episode's taping and airing, Blake is accused of shooting his wife; after the round is solved, a clip is dubbed in of Pat explaining the situation.
  • On May 31, after contestant Lou wins Round 1, Pat notices that he and Lou are wearing the same outfit, a moment which has been seen in several retrospectives.
  • On June 1:
    • Vanna wears a sleeveless top and pants.
    • Contestant Brian tries to spin the Wheel in Round 3 after Jackie lands on the orange $900.
    • Brian gives the right answer to the second Toss-Up but is not awarded the money because he paused, allowing Abel to ring in with the right answer without pausing.
    • The bonus puzzle is a redundant answer of BABY CRIB.

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