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Wheel of Fortune Season 21 title card

Go back to Season 20, or forward to Season 22?

A timeline for Season 21 of Wheel of Fortune, which aired in first-run from September 8, 2003 through June 4, 2004.

Season ChangesEdit

  • For the first time since Season 5, the season does not begin on Labor Day.
  • At this point, Wheel and Jeopardy! begin to be shot using high-definition cameras, commencing a transition to HD which is completed in 2006.
  • This season's opening sequence features the logo forming (first the Wheel representing the O in "of", then the rest of it), on a white background with aquamarine and light blue streaks. It is slightly changed after only the second week of the season. The template used has an orange $500 in place of Lose A Turn and a green $700 in place of the lone Bankrupt. The Wheel's spaces are seen landing on the Wheel-shaped O of the two-row logo.
    335px-WoFpuzzleboard
  • The gold borders around the puzzle board are replaced with the current LED borders; the outer and inner frames of the new board are cyan and blue, respectively, unless otherwise specified. Additionally, the steps in front of the board, which had previously been white, now have black carpet on them.
  • The video wall behind the contestants now has moving pictures instead of a singular pattern.
  • Once again, the Wheel is altered:
    Season 21 Jackpot Wedge
    • The gold borders around the Wheel are replaced with the current metal borders.
    • The Wheel's base, previously blue and gold, is rebuilt to have its current LED and Plexiglas appearance.
    • The Jackpot wedge design that had been in use since Season 16 is retired in favor of a new design which remains until October 24, 2005. The wedge itself remains red, but it now shows a new Jackpot logo featuring a star in a golden triangle, with the golden text "JACKPOT" on the triangle; the "JACKPOT" name itself has its font changed from Impact to Tahoma.
  • The Toss-Up wipe is changed to a ring saying "Toss-Up" on the top and bottom, and for the first time, the amount is written on a blue bar in the middle. The font is changed from Helvetica Condensed to Tahoma, and the color from bluish-purple with white text to teal with cyan text for both instances of "Toss-Up" and white for the amount.
  • The category strips still use white text in Alternate Gothic, as they did in Season 20, but their coloration is changed from green-bordered blue to dark blue-violet, and the animation positioning them onto the screen is changed to a series of multicolored lines joining, after which the letters of the category name turn into place. Also, the left and right sides of the maingame strips now fade. However, the Bonus Round strips still continue to have distinct ends, and they reveal by "unfolding" onto the screen with the letters of the category name spinning into place.
    • Even though the maingame category strips are changed in Season 22, the Season 21 Bonus Round strip design remains in place until October 24, 2005; thus, it becomes the first Bonus Round strip design since Season 18 not to be changed at the start of a new season.
  • As of this season, the apostrophes are removed from the "decade" categories (e.g. "The 80s").
  • On some episodes through at least December, spins are once again displayed on the center stage video wall.
  • The Jackpot logo graphic at the beginning of the round is changed to match the new design of the wedge itself, as is the post-plug graphic showing the wedge positioning itself onto the Wheel. The Jackpot display is also updated to match the new design, and the rectangle showing the amount changes color from gold-bordered red with gold text to gold with red text. It should be noted, however, that the shot of the Wheel when the Jackpot wedge positions itself is not updated to reflect the Wheel's new border and base; instead, it remains the same as it was at the beginning of Season 18 (it was not updated when the wedge fonts were altered around January 2003).
  • The Mystery Round intro is changed: the "spinning Wheel" animation at the beginning is removed so the Wheel is already stopped, the spiel changes from "If you land on a Mystery Wedge, what would you do? One of the wedges - you're Bankrupt." to simply "In tonight's Mystery Round, a player could go Bankrupt...". The question mark wipe that reveals the prize copy is changed from a silver question mark in Arial to a bright blue one in Clarendon, while the prize is revealed by the yellow-orange question mark from the Mystery Wedge itself, which spins towards and through the camera.
  • The number graphics for the envelope amounts in the Bonus Round have their font changed from Helvetica Condensed to Clarendon, and the numbers now zoom out and spread into place. The light backgrounds that briefly surround the text when the amount graphics appear on-screen continue to be green for the $100,000 and blue for other amounts, but the text itself, which had previously been white with gold borders, has its color changed to orange-tinted gold for the $100,000 and silver for other amounts. Additionally, the background for the $100,000 has a few splashes of blue added to it, and after the background disappears several stars fly around the text, while the background for other amounts is changed to a deeper shade of blue.
    Season 21 Bonus Wheel
  • The Bonus Wheel is re-colored: the letters change from red to blue, the orange space after "$100,000" becomes green, the green space after "CASH" becomes purple, and the purple space after "BONUS" becomes pink.
  • The Bonus Wheel animations displayed before and after the second-to-last commercial break are changed as well. The blue background from Season 20 is removed, and the wheel itself gains an orange tint to its gold coloration, with yellow lettering and a cyan center. Also, the colored wedges are in different colors from the design of the Bonus Wheel itself: the space after "$100,000" continues to be orange, the space after "CASH" continues to be green (but, in these graphics, is more specifically chartreuse), the space after "BONUS" is teal, and the space after "WIN" is pink. Additionally, the envelopes that fly out of the Wheel in the post-commercial Bonus Wheel animation, which had previously been blue-bordered gray, now use different colors for all of them: vermilion for $25,000 and $50,000, chartreuse for $30,000, teal for $35,000 and $45,000, and pink for $40,000.
  • In the Bonus Round, the letters in RSTLNE now turn into place, and the contestant's letter choices no longer fade in as they had in Season 20. This remains through Season 23.
  • This is the only season in which the $100,000 prize is not won.
  • On some episodes this season, Charlie O'Donnell misreads "omega-3s" as "omega three ess" instead of "omega threes" on some of the Eggland's Best plugs before the Jackpot round; this inconsistently carries over into at least the next season.
  • Like the two from Season 19, weeks composed of sixth shows now have their own names.
  • Oddly, no Family Weeks are done this season.

September 2003Edit

  • September 8 is Big Money Week. During this week:
    • The Prize wedge says "Big Money" on it. Also, the wipe for the Prize footage is a safe opening and closing.
    • The Gift Tag is $1,000 cash in the form of then newly-redesigned $20 bills, which Pat Sajak promotes before the first Toss-Up on the 8th. The Gift Tag is also shaped like these bills, resulting in a smaller-than-usual tag which does not completely obscure the 7 or overlap the adjacent wedges.
    • The second Bankrupt in Round 3 is accidentally placed on the yellow $300; neither it nor the purple $600 next to $3,500 is hit.
  • On September 8:
    • There is a $14,900 Jackpot win.
    • The 2000 closing theme plays during the credits.
  • On September 10:
    • On the Menu debuts.
    • Pat and Vanna White go into the audience area during the closing chat, so that Vanna can sign a girl's cast. Pat then outdoes her by signing an audience member's leg.
    • Again, the 2000 closing theme plays during the credits.
  • On September 11, the Prize Puzzle is reintroduced. Unlike the previous short-lived incarnation in 1997, the current version now uses puzzles related to the prize, rather than directly describing it. The first Prize Puzzle is GENTLE TRADE WINDS AND WARM BLUE WATERS, which awards a trip to the Caribbean.
    • Unlike Prize Puzzles of the previous incarnation which had no audio or visual indication whatsoever, the current-era Prize Puzzles are indicated by a higher-pitched version of the puzzle chimes following the usual chime, the text "PRIZE PUZZLE" appearing on the Used Letter Board alongside the category, and a special bug in the lower left-hand corner.
    • The original Prize Puzzle bug reads "PRIZE PUZZLE" in left-justified white Alternate Gothic text, with five colored sparks above it (which from left to right are colored yellow, green, cyan, white, and red). For Season 21, when the prize is revealed, the graphic transitioning to and from footage of the prize is three Wheel wedges (orange, yellow, and green) with four dollar signs apiece on them flying across the screen, flanked by confetti.
    • For the first two seasons of its existence, the Prize Puzzle occurs weekly.
  • On September 12, after Round 3's Headline puzzle QUEEN ELIZABETH CELEBRATES MILESTONE, Pat asks whether the puzzle refers to Queen Elizabeth's 40th, 50th, or 60th anniversary of coronation, and the contestant provides the right answer of 50th. This is the fourth and final known instance of a "bonus" question being multiple-choice.
  • During the week of September 15, the inner frame of the board is yellow.
  • On September 16, a contestant spins $3,500 at least five times in Round 2, resulting in an unclaimed Jackpot of over $18,000.
  • On September 19:
    • The $1,000 Toss-Up TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT is incorrectly categorized as Rhyme Time.
    • The Prize is a shopping spree at Mall of America with accommodations at Le Meridien Minneapolis.
    • The Mystery Round prize is a $10,000 Bloomingdale's gift card.
    • Although a repeated T is called in Round 3, it is not acknowledged as such.
  • The week of September 22 is Resort Week. During this week, Pat and Vanna enter onstage from separate entrances; Pat's is on the right of the video wall while Vanna's is on the left.
  • On September 22, Pat jokes before the $3,000 Toss-Up that "there are shows on Game Show Network that don't give that away in a month!"
  • On September 24, a contestant guesses I'M BUSH on the bonus puzzle I'M BUSY, resulting in wild laughter from the audience.
  • On September 25, the audience reacts in similar fashion at a contestant's attempts to solve the bonus puzzle QUICK AS A WINK after the buzzer.
  • The week of September 29 is Wheels Week. During this week, the second Bankrupt is accidentally placed on the yellow $300, and apparently, neither it nor the purple $600 next to $3,500 is hit for the entire week.
  • On September 29, contestant Norman leaves with only $5,400.

October 2003Edit

  • On October 3, Pat and Vanna's post-game chat is about the changes to the puzzle board.
  • During the week of October 6, the Mystery prize is a $10,000 Diners Club gift card.
  • During the week of October 20 (Living in Style):
    • Pat and Vanna enter from a fake staircase at stage left.
    • The inner frame of the puzzle board is yellow-orange.
  • On October 20:
    • The reveal of the Round 1 puzzle is shot differently than usual. Instead of a closeup of the board, the camera pans over from the contestant area before zooming in on the board; also, the chimes do not sound until about two seconds after the blanks appear, and the category strip flies on-screen before the camera has stopped moving.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 2.
    • There is a $14,850 Jackpot win.
    • Round 4 and the Bonus Round are Event.
  • On October 21, a contestant is given the bonus puzzle HICCUPS with only the P and S showing, and Pat jokes that he will retire if she solves it. She does; he doesn't.
  • During the week of October 27:
    • A jack-o'-lantern is projected onto the center of the Wheel.
    • Again, the inner frame of the puzzle board is yellow-orange.
  • On October 27:
    • Although a repeated R is called in Round 1, it is not acknowledged as such.
    • Contestant Kristi loses $20,215 (including a New Orleans trip) to Bankrupt in Round 3; despite this, she wins the game due to a $6,000 Final Spin.
    • Vanna's son and daughter, Niko and Giovanna, appear in their Halloween costumes at the end of the show. They are respectively disguised as a "cool kid" and an injured cat.
  • On October 31:
    • For the first known time, a "decades" category is used in a Toss-Up: the $2,000 Toss-Up BELL-BOTTOM JEANS (The 70s).
    • For no particular reason, all five maingame puzzles are unusually short (19 letters or fewer).
    • The winning contestant has only $6,950 before the Bonus Round. Oddly, this is due to the shorter puzzles and multiple landings on the $300 wedges; neither Bankrupt nor Lose A Turn is hit in the first four rounds, and the only Bankrupt of the entire game comes right before the Final Spin.
    • As mentioned during the closing chat, a monitor on the board breaks down for the first time.

November 2003Edit

  • The weeks of November 3-17 are taped at Radio City Music Hall. On all of these episodes:
    • The set is decorated with miniatures of three NYC landmarks (the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and the Music Hall) with Broadway posters above the puzzle board, a video wall decorated with replicas of high-rise building façades, and a black floor featuring white outlined "NEW YORK" text in the Broadway font.
    • The Jackpot display is inexplicably in the lower left-hand corner instead of the upper left-hand corner.
  • During the week of November 3, the Mystery Round prize is a $10,000 Diners Club card.
  • On November 4, contestant Lori sweeps the game and wins a Ford Expedition in the Bonus Round.
  • On November 7:
    • The original Round 1 is thrown out because contestant Anthony is inadvertently allowed to buy a vowel despite having only $50 and the $10,000 Wedge.
    • Anthony solves the Speed-Up puzzle DOUBLE-DECKER BUS with only the B's and S showing.
    • Pat pretends to wrestle Anthony after he wins the Bonus Round.
  • November 10 is the ceremonial 4,000th episode, although it is actually #3,946. This, like the ceremonial #3,000, is composed entirely of clips with commentary by Pat and Vanna.
    • The title card is a CGI two-row logo in red (with a plain-looking "O" in "of"), which spins into place along with a shiny, silver-blue "4000" text element in Impact, against a transparent monochrome Wheel on a sparkly rainbow background. The picture then zooms through the first zero to show footage of Radio City Music Hall ― first the exterior of the hall, then the audience members making their way into the stage room as Charlie gives his intro, "And now from Radio City Music Hall, celebrating 4,000 shows together, here are the stars of Wheel of Fortune: Pat Sajak and Vanna White!" When Pat and Vanna walk out, they do so from different sides of the set, Pat from the right and Vanna from the left.
    • The logo seen in the intro is also shown on the center-stage video wall.
      1978Fakeout
    • After Pat and Vanna give their opening monologue, a screen with a purple border featuring a white "4000" text element on one side flips towards the camera, showing the intro from one of the earlier episodes of Season 21. With a "whooshing" sound effect the video slows to a stop, and then "rewinds" through various clips, which, oddly, seem to not show up in chronological order from latest to earliest. The rewind ends with the January 18, 1978 opening that began the ceremonial #3,000, which is inexplicably identified as 1983. This then cuts to an opening from between September 1986 and November 1987 (likely that of episode #S-1000), with a timpani roll dubbed in.
    • The first montage features many clips from the show's first decade in syndication, set to "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive. It starts with video of Pat's entrance from a shopping-era episode; then proceeds to one of Vanna's outfits from that era; a late-1980s shot of the puzzle board reading BE A WHEEL WATCHER, center-aligned, most likely from a promo; a shot of the ceramic Dalmatian from the shopping era; Pat and Vanna's kiss from his last daytime episode; Pat and Vanna pieing each other on a 1991 episode; Pat and Vanna sitting in a hot tub together; Pat's interaction with a Bonus Round winner; a close-up of the 1986-96 Round 4 Wheel layout; Pat and Vanna holding humorous poses; Pat removing a wig from a Vanna mannequin; Pat and Vanna playing rock-paper-scissors; and a "Charlie, put down that _____!" Jackpot intro.
    • The second montage is set to "We Got the Beat" by The Go-Go's. Its clips are a Final Spin from around 1995; Kristen in September 13, 2002 celebrating while Pat holds the $10,000 Wedge; an answer of WINNER TAKES ALL being revealed on the trilon board; a red station wagon on a turntable; numerous contestants celebrating moments of success, including an African-American male contestant celebrating a $25,000 win circa 1998-1999; Pat and Vanna exposing the skin on part of their abdomens; and finally a shot of Pat taking off his jacket on a late-1990s episode.
    • The third montage, set to "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys, includes footage of the Wheel painted atop the Seattle Space Needle in 1995, followed by several intros on road shows: a Seattle week (November 2002), San Diego (April-May 2003), Nashville (February 2003), Chicago (1991), Las Vegas (2000), Hawaii (February 2001, including Pat's "twin"), and College Week from New Orleans (February 2000). At the end, a New Orleans trolley is shown decorated with a row of six 1997-99 traditional logos on a black background, followed by Pat saying "I'm just in the mood. I dunno, call me wacky." to a circa-1997-1998 contestant.
    • The fourth montage, set to "Round Round" by Sugababes, showcases some of Pat's quirky behaviors, including wearing a frog hat on March 17, 1987 (daytime), carrying out a giant fake hot dog with Vanna on a Wheel Goes to the Movies week in May 2000, dancing with another circa-1997 contestant, and eating a banana while telling a joke to a stuffed gorilla on-set on September 24, 1996.
    • The fifth montage, set to "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, includes a Final Spin from around 2003, followed by more humorous behaviors from Pat: fainting next to his-and-hers cars in Season 5 or 6, sticking a coffee cup into Vanna's dress in September 30, 1992, cutting her hair on December 2, 1995, and hugging her on a Euro Tour week in 2002. It ends with Leigh from November 1986 solving AN AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY for $44,300.
    • The bumper features the "Wheel of Fortune 4000" logo, set over a shot of the audience in which the video screens display the standard Season 21 title card. The logo zooms through the first zero to show Vanna in front of the Music Hall in the daytime.
    • The first montage in the second segment consists of humorously incorrect attempts at solving: a Speed-Up of STYROFOAM CUP mis-solved as STYROFOAM HAT circa 1988, followed by three from April 2002 (a Toss-Up of LAST-MINUTE DETAILS as LAST-MINUTE COCKTAILS, a Speed-Up of MUSIC & PIZZA BOX as MUSIC & PIZZA BOY, and a Speed-Up of PLASTIC STRAWS as PLASTIC STRAPS and PLASTIC STRIPS), the bonus puzzle AT MY WIT'S END as AT MY CAT'S END from May 5, 1986 (albeit with the 1975-89 buzzer dubbed in), and the Toss-Up AN ONLY CHILD as AN UGLY CHILD from April 11, 2002 (with the clip edited so that the rest of the puzzle fills in while contestant Linda is still talking), a Toss-Up of SLEEPING BEAUTY as SLEEPING DOPEY in Season 20 (edited so that the answer reveals right after Alberto guesses), and a Toss-Up of FINGERS & TOES as MINERS & HOES on February 4, 2002. All of these have audience laughter dubbed in.
    • In the next montage, Vanna says that "Through the years, the puzzles have always reflected what's hip, hot, and happening", while footage is shown of various puzzles related to pop culture: SARAH JESSICA PARKER from February 2001, BRITNEY & ASPARAGUS SPEARS from November 2001, three puzzles from Season 20 (TENNIS PRO ANDRE AGASSI, TRADING SPACES from March 26, and AMERICAN IDOL from the College Week of November 12, 2002, the last of which is oddly missing its category strip), FINDING NEMO from September 22, and OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB from Season 21. After that, Vanna says that "Right or wrong, our puzzle solves are always entertaining", after which Angela from around 1998 is shown solving TEENY-WEENY, followed by Demitra on May 7, 2002 who solves a Toss-Up of PETER PIPER and then recites the poem.
    • The next montage includes contestants who solve their puzzles very loudly, including a shot of Pat putting in earplugs on a Christmas 1999 episode, and Steve from November 5, 1999 solving the Speed-Up THE STRING SECTION and subsequently complimenting Pat, followed by random shots of other screaming contestants (three of which feature Pat screaming with the player as well).
    • After that, footage is shown of some bonus puzzles that were solved with little to no help from the extra letters: JUNK FOOD with just the N and K in Season 19 (with the reveal of the K sped up); HICCUPS from October 21, YUGOSLAVIA with the S, L, and A's from Season 20; WAKE UP with the E and P from November 12, 2002;and GOPHER with the E and R from February 5, 2001. It ends with the November 11, 1999 A GROUP OF PILL-PUSHERS incident which, like the last time the clip was shown in January 2002, edits out the audience's reaction and Pat's comment of "Good night, everyone!"; oddly, the latter is dubbed in at the very end of the clip.
    • Pat and Vanna introduce the third segment's first montage from behind the red scoreboard. The first montage consists of screaming contestants from various episodes, set to "Shout" by the Isley Brothers (including a brief shot of the answer SHOUT IT OUT from September 21, 2001). This transitions to various Bonus Round wins, including contestant Tom from May 7, 2001 who breakdances and then hugs Vanna; the $100,000 wins from April 24 and May 21, 2003 are both shown as well, with the former also including the contestant solving the puzzle in question.
    • The next segment includes a combination of Bonus Round winners' families running onstage (including a clip from around 1999 where Pat tells Vanna, "16 years on the show, and you've never jumped on me like that.") and celebrating contestants on family team weeks, set to "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge. It ends with Sarah from May talking about her mother's 1977 appearance.
    • Afterward, Vanna says over footage of a contestant spin that "every year, over 1 million people inquire about being on Wheel of Fortune," which is followed by a Halloween week closing segment where Pat asks a skeleton prop on the set how long "he" has been waiting to be a contestant on Wheel. Also included in the third segment is a montage of entertaining contestants, who include Leslie from March singing "I love playing Wheel of Fortune!" opera-style; Mark complaining about being on the show in an impersonation of Christopher Walken; contestant Kevin from Season 16 singing "Changing Keys" in chicken clucks; another episode from that season in which blue contestant Mike impersonates Forrest Gump, yellow contestant Nancy impersonates the Road Runner, and Mike later does "Forrest Gump as the Road Runner"; the stripper/refinisher Harry from around 2002-03; the clown/mortician Frank from 1998; deaf contestant George from November 24, 1997; contestant Suzette from yet another 1998 episode humming "Changing Keys" through her nose to Pat and Vanna's amusement; and auctioneer Ray from around Season 17.
    • After this is shown sped-up footage of May 6, 1998 contestant Richard chasing Pat across the stage after winning the Bonus Round and footage of another contestant picking Pat up, both set to a piece of circus-esque music. This is followed by a montage of entertaining Bonus Round winners from various eras (including Scott from May 5, 1999 kissing Pat's shoes, and the winner Anthony from November 7), followed by a number of entertaining main game contestants, including Johnathan from May 12, 1999 kissing a cardboard cut-out of Pat, and another slapping his butt after a win; this montage is set to "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" by Smash Mouth.
    • The fourth segment begins with Pat briefly mentioning the daytime version, and Vanna discussing her audition while footage of both it and her first official episode are shown. Afterward, "She's a Lady" by Tom Jones plays over a montage of her outfits, which includes (among others) several outfit clips that were previously shown in the ceremonial 3,000th episode, a circa-2000 clip where Vanna wears a Dior dress and Pat spins her around while calling her "a revolving Dior", and footage of Vanna in a promo shoot. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred then plays over a humorous montage of Pat's wardrobe (including him revealing a hanger from inside his jacket during the shopping era, dropping his pants at the end of a November 1987 show, and wearing a mullet during a New York City road show). This montage ends with the cold open from January 13, 1997 in which Vanna announces that she is pregnant; footage of Vanna showing off Niko; and her pregnancy with, and on-air introduction of, Giovanna.
    • The next segment consists of even more funny moments of Pat's, set to "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf. Among the clips are Pat's reaction to the broken Toss-Up buzzer in May, a series of four "Charlie, put down that ______!" Jackpot intros, and standing to make cattle horns on a floor-mounted "U" in "HOUSTON" come up out of his head during a road show in that city.
    • Afterward, a blooper reel is shown for a Season 21 promo made for KDRV in Medford, Oregon, in which Vanna repeatedly stumbles over the phrase "What's with all the exclamation points?"
    • The next montage consists of Pat and Vanna sampling local cuisine during road shows, set to "Eat It" by "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is followed by another road show montage set to "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson. This montage features more road show intros, including those from the Nashville show and a Dallas show; outtakes of Vanna trying to catch a fish at the Seattle Pike Place Market in 2002; Vanna in racing gear at the Texas Motor Speedway shouting "Gentlemen, start your engines!" while waving a green flag as Pat drives an early Wheelmobile down the racetrack; footage of a Wheel-branded slot machine in a Las Vegas casino followed by Vanna playing poker at said casino; and finally, three clips from Hawaii episodes aired in February 2001: an intro where a naked Pat rafts; a closing segment where after winning the Bonus Round, brothers Arnold and Edward and Vanna dance with the hula girls; and Edward reacting to Pat's comment of "What was that noise you made earlier?", with Pat himself responding with a comment of "Good night, everybody!"
    • The next montage consists of various Pat and Vanna clips set to "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher, including another shot of Vanna pieing Pat, Pat throwing fake snow at Vanna, Pat nearly crashing a golf cart into the puzzle board on January 14, 2002, Vanna waving a checkered flag in front of Pat on one episode and drawing a mustache on his face on another, the two of them sticking their tongues out after eating blue candies, Pat inhaling helium from a balloon during a New Year's week and subsequently singing Mighty Mouse's theme song, both of them cleaning up after a $100,000 Bonus Round win during a Wheel Goes to the Movies week, and finally slow-motion clips of them huddling next to (and even kissing) one another.
    • In the final segment, Pat and Vanna are onstage (the puzzle board reading AMERICA'S GAME) with most of the show's staff, including executive producer Harry Friedman, producers Karen Griffith and Steve Schwartz, and Charlie. Director Mark Corwin is shown in the booth. Various credits are timed to show those staff members, while a Home Puzzle Contest outtake from October 31, 1983 (daytime) appears at Merv's credit.
    • Strangely, reruns during the week of July 12, 2004 consist of November 10 followed by November 3-6. This is the only known instance until Season 28 of Summer reruns airing out of order.
  • November 11-14 is Best Friends Week. During these four episodes, the Mystery Round prize is a $10,000 Macy's gift card.
  • On a Best Friends episode (possibly the 11th), a Toss-Up is thrown out because the lockouts are not activated on the buzzers, allowing one team to accidentally ring in twice. The discarded puzzle, PURRING KITTENS, later appears in the Speed-Up on April 28, 2004.
  • On November 14:
    • For the first known time, a team exceeds $100,000 without hitting that amount: just under $20,000 cash, plus an $80,000+ pair of Lexuses, totaling $102,701.
    • The bonus puzzle is the grammatically-incorrect PIECE OF MIND, a conflation of "peace of mind" and "a piece of your mind".
  • November 17 is NBA Week.
  • On November 21, three females play.
  • Starting November 24, there is now a split-screen during the Pat and Vanna chat; the right side displays the show's disclaimers and the company that provided Vanna's wardrobe. The first one is a multi-colored swirl with white fireworks; road shows use ones with themed graphics.
  • On November 26, there is a $100,000 loss.

December 2003Edit

  • Around this point, one of the cars available in the Mystery Round is a Chevy Aveo. While all other Mystery Round cars are described over footage of them being driven, the Aveo is described over a stock image of it on a white background.
  • Starting December 8, Charlie now announces two sponsors after the first commercial break with "Tonight's show brought to you by..." Reruns of episodes before this point are edited to include the sponsors.
  • December 8-19 is the Blue Cash Sweepstakes. This is a special "blue"-themed sweepstakes sponsored by American Express Blue Card. Home viewers may submit each episode's bonus puzzle on the show's website to enter a drawing which offers "blue"-themed prizes, such as tickets to Blue Man Group or a blue car. A promotional clip for this sweepstakes shows a Bonus Round win from earlier in the season, edited so that the board says BLUE CASH in the wrong font.
  • On December 10, two contestants in a row give wrong answers to the Where Are We? puzzle BROTHERLY LOVE CREAM CHEESE THE LIBERTY BELL.
  • December 15 is Blue Cash Week. During this week:
    • All cars in the Bonus Round are blue.
    • Both the neon parts of the set and the category strips are darker blue than usual.
    • The Mystery Round prize is $10,000 towards purchases from Sony Style.
  • On December 15, the Round 1 puzzle WHO SHOT J.R.? is a now-rare maingame puzzle that is shorter than 10 letters. It is also a rare maingame puzzle with only one vowel.
  • On December 16, music director Steve Kaplan dies in a plane crash. He remains in the full credit roll until the last of his compositions are retired from the show in 2007.
  • On December 17:
    • All three contestants hit Bankrupt consecutively in Round 3 (the second by way of a Mystery Wedge).
    • The Final Spin is shot differently than usual: it uses a bird's-eye view of the contestant area, which then zooms in on the red arrow as the Wheel comes to a stop.
  • During the week of December 22, snowflakes are projected into the center of the Wheel.
  • On December 22:
    • Contestant Khalilah mentions that her mother competed on the show 17 years prior.
    • The Mystery prize is a $9,726 Kia Rio, the only known car under $10,000 to be offered by the show.
    • The buzzer does not sound on the first wrong letter (T) of Round 4.
    • Six rounds are played.
  • On December 23, there is a $100,000 loss.
  • On December 24, for the first of only three known times, a Prize Puzzle offers something other than a trip: in this case, the Round 2 puzzle GIZMOS AND GADGETS offers a home entertainment package.
  • On December 26, Wayne Brady makes a cameo after the Round 2 puzzle EMMY AWARD-WINNING TALK SHOW HOST.
  • During the week of December 29, the Jackpot display is again in the lower left-hand corner for no particular reason.
  • On December 29:
    • The Mystery Round copy is shortened to "And in tonight's Mystery Round, one of our players could win this [name of prize] — [amount]!", removing both Pat's opening for the round and the mention of contestants potentially going Bankrupt. The blue question mark wipe that previously opened the copy itself now reveals the prize as the wedges are animating on-screen.
    • The Bonus Round graphics now disappear with a different effect: instead of simply dissolving from the left, they dissolve all at once.
    • Both Wheel and Jeopardy! show a black-and-white picture of Steve Kaplan after the credits.

January 2004Edit

  • On January 2:
    • Round 3 is the second known instance since the early 1990s of Family spelling out AND (FRANCIS FORD AND SOFIA COPPOLA).
    • Contestant Jamie incorrectly solves the fully-revealed Round 3 puzzle by mispronouncing "Coppola"; the next contestant, Alicia, solves without any money.
    • Alicia accidentally calls C twice in the Bonus Round.
    • "Happy Wheels" continues to play under the first fee plug.
  • January 5 is NFL Week. During this week:
    • The NFL players now compete in teams with the contestants, as opposed to the contestants playing on their behalf. The NFL players are distinguished from their teammates with football-shaped nametags.
    • The set features football-themed decorations in places, and the floor features the Players Inc. logo.
    • The top winner receives a prize package consisting of a trip to Houston for an NFL Players Party and Super Bowl XXXVIII, autographed merchandise from Players Inc., a flat-screen TV with DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket, and a Reebok home gym.
  • On January 5:
    • Three females play.
    • The Prize is a $3,500 Visa gift card.
    • Dan Hampton and his teammate Kara give the right answer to the $1,000 Toss-Up, but are not awarded the money because they took too long to respond after ringing in; this allows Dan Fouts and his teammate Donna to ring in with the answer right away as soon as they are called on.
  • On January 6:
    • Three females play.
    • The $1,000 Toss-Up is a redundant answer of STAR CONSTELLATION.
    • The Round 1 puzzle, TIME AND NEWSWEEK, is an extremely rare occurrence of Titles. Pat's comments suggest that it is not the first.
  • On January 7, Moe Williams and his teammate Angela give the right answer to the $1,000 Toss-Up but they do not ring in fast enough, as Trent Green and his teammate Darnell ring in just before Moe and Angela do.
  • On January 8, the Round 1 puzzle PETER FALK AS COLUMBO is inexplicably categorized as Classic TV instead of Star & Role.
  • On January 9:
    • There is a $7,100 Jackpot win.
    • Neither Bankrupt nor Lose A Turn is hit.
  • On January 12, the Final Spin is shot the same way that it was on December 17. It is not known how many other episodes used this shot, if any; it is known that at least December 22, January 2-9, and January 13 use the normal shot.
  • On January 13:
    • Bankrupt is hit five times in Round 2.
    • The Mystery prize is $10,000 towards purchases from Amazon.com.
  • On January 14:
    • Pat forgets to mention that Round 1 is a Prize Puzzle. The Prize Puzzle chimes sound again after the first spin, and Pat acknowledges them.
    • The first half of the Final Spin is shot normally, but the shot of the Wheel coming to a stop is the same bird's-eye view used on the 12th.
  • During the week of January 19 (Cruise Week):
    • Vanna promotes the show's theme aboard a cruise ship before the opening.
    • Viewers may submit each episode's bonus puzzle to the show's website for a chance to win a cruise provided by Princess Cruises.
  • Likely on January 19, the Final Spin shot reverts to normal.
  • On January 20:
    • The Mystery Prize is a $10,000 Macy's gift certificate.
    • The Gift Tag is crooked throughout the entire game.
    • There are two duplicate categories: Rounds 1 and 4 are Phrase, the $1,000 Toss-Up is Things, and the Bonus Round is Thing.
  • On January 21:
    • The $1,000 Toss-Up, L'EGGO MY EGGO, is the first of four known instances of Slogan being used as a Toss-Up, and the third known instance of said category not using its bonus question due to the product being part of the answer.
    • Round 2 is Title/Author, even though an Author/Title puzzle was used in Round 2 on January 1.
  • January 23 is the real 4,000th episode.
  • The week of January 26, likely due to being taped before the December 29 episode, uses the Mystery Round copy from the beginning of Season 21.
  • On January 28:
    • The $2,000 Toss-Up PURPLE LILACS (itself a redundant answer) is inexplicably categorized as Things instead of Living Things.
    • Contestant Kathy makes an extremely close incorrect guess in the Bonus Round. The puzzle is BACK TO BASICS, but she adds "the" between the second and third words.

February 2004Edit

  • February 2 is Aloha Week, a Hawaii-themed week taped in Culver City. It is also the Aloha Sweepstakes, in which home viewers may submit each episode's bonus puzzle to the show's website for a chance to win a vacation to Hawaii.
  • On February 3, six rounds are played.
  • On February 5:
    • The $1,000 Toss-Up BABY'S HIGHCHAIR is misspelled (should be "high chair").
    • One of the older cues (likely the one introduced in late September 2000) accidentally plays after the $3,000 Toss-Up is solved.
  • On February 6:
    • Six rounds are played.
    • The bonus puzzle A NEW JOB is inexplicably categorized as Phrase instead of Thing.
  • The weeks of February 9-23 are taped at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. The "PHOENIX" and "ARIZONA" signs from the February 1997 shows are re-used.
  • February 9 is Sweethearts Week.
  • Unusually for a road show, February 9 appears not to have been the first taped episode from that week, as Pat makes no mention of it being their first week in Phoenix.
  • On February 9, there is a $100,000 loss.
  • On February 10:
    • Round 4 is the first of only seven known instances of Occupations (MANICURIST & PEDICURIST).
    • In the final segment, Pat and Vanna show a Family Circus comic mentioning Vanna, in reference to the Round 1 puzzle THE FAMILY CIRCUS CARTOON.
  • On February 13:
    • For the first known time, all three teams ring in but do not solve a Toss-Up (specifically, the $1,000 Toss-Up, CORNER BARBERSHOP).
    • A couple technically sweeps the game (disregarding the unsolved $1,000 Toss-Up) and wins $25,000 in the Bonus Round. Interestingly, a sweep during Sweethearts Week happened exactly one year prior.
    • The same team fills in the bonus puzzle A CLEAN SHAVE completely.
  • On February 18, one of the contestants is picked out of the audience. She makes it to the Bonus Round, where she tries to call four of the six letters that are already given (T, N, S, R), even with an R already in the answer.
  • On February 20:
    • After the Round 2 Slogan puzzle OUTWIT OUTPLAY OUTLAST, an audience member shouts out the right answer of Survivor before the contestant gets a chance to identify the slogan.
    • Pat stands over the Bonus Wheel and makes bizarre, pseudo-Native American chants before the contestant spins it.
  • During the week of February 16, all five winners are female.
  • February 23 is Teen Best Friends Week.
  • On February 25, there is a Jackpot win.
  • On February 26, one team tries to call two letters during their Speed-Up turn for three turns in a row.

March 2004Edit

  • March 1 is Aruba Week, with a sweepstakes sponsored by the Aruba Tourism Authority. During this week, home viewers may submit each episode's bonus puzzle to the show's website for a chance to win a vacation to Aruba.
  • On March 4, after the Song Lyrics puzzle WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?, Pat asks for the characters that the song is referring to (The Three Little Pigs).
  • During the week of March 1, at least three contestants get no help from their letters in the Bonus Round.
  • On March 9, after the Round 4 puzzle SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS (Fictional Character) is solved, Pat says, "What do you mean, 'Fictional Character'?" and quotes the entire SpongeBob SquarePants theme song.
  • On March 12, On the Menu appears in the Bonus Round for the first time.
  • On March 15:
    • Several clear arches are added to the back of the set. The arch behind Pat has a smaller video screen which displays an identifying animation, which resembles the Season 17 main title animation in that it features the wordmark in gold with a normal-looking "O" in "of", atop a graphic of a spinning Wheel. However, unlike the Season 17 logo, this animation presents the Wheel accurately.
    • Wheel Watchers Club members now have a chance to win the prize offered in a Prize Puzzle with an assigned SPIN ID number. After Charlie finishes the prize plug, he reads a randomly-drawn SPIN ID. Home viewers who see their SPIN ID on the show may go to the show's website to confirm their ID and claim the prize. New SPIN IDs are edited into reruns.
      • The original SPIN ID reveal plug features a background with a transparent, bare Wheel template and several stars in random places, which comes in one of four different color schemes: yellow, green, blue, or purple. After the Prize Puzzle prize is revealed, Charlie congratulates the contestant and says, "If you're a Wheel Watchers Club member and your personal SPIN ID is [SPIN ID number], you're a winner. You have 24 hours from now to log on to wheeloffortune.com and claim your [prize description]!" The plug reveals as follows: a "spark" turns the screen white; this then fades into a couple of colored bare Wheel templates which reveal the wipe itself. The Wheel drawing in the background is already in place, and the words in the club's name zoom onto place, along with a "mini-board" displaying the SPIN ID, designed like a miniature puzzle board with a cyan inner frame and a purple outer one. "SPIN I.D." is displayed in Impact, with a green "blank screen" representing the space. At the bottom of the screen is the Prize Puzzle bug and an eligibility disclaimer. The SPIN ID itself is revealed with the words "SPIN ID" backing up away, and the spaces spinning like slots reels and stopping, one at a time, to reveal the ID in Rockwell Condensed, the font of the trilon-based board, but in the regular unbolded version.
    • Following Round 3's Clue puzzle A ROMAN GOD OR THE PLANET NEAREST THE SUN, contestant Kimberly gives an incorrect guess of Pluto. With the bonus out of play, Pat lets her guess again: she proceeds to say the Moon, Mars, and Saturn before finally getting the right response of Mercury.
    • The bonus puzzle A GROUP HUG is categorized as Event. The next two times this answer appears (February 27, 2006 and January 12, 2010), it is categorized as Thing and doesn't have the A.
    • During the post-game chat, Pat reminds Vanna that during a chat in November, she wished that Thanksgiving could be at another time, such as March. He then reminds her it is now March, and surprises her with a turkey dinner.
  • On March 17, contestant Yolanda sweeps the game and wins a Chrysler PT Cruiser in the Bonus Round. At $19,715, this is the least-expensive bonus prize known to be offered since the introduction of the Bonus Wheel.
  • On March 18, the second-place contestant has $26,900.
  • On March 19, after the Headline puzzle FORMER E.T. CHILD ACTRESS GETS WALK OF FAME STAR, Pat asks who the puzzle is referring to (Drew Barrymore).
  • On March 25, there is a $100,000 loss.
  • During the week of March 29, Pat and Vanna read letters from past winners in the final segment, which is dubbed "Wheel Changes Lives".
  • On March 29:
    • Round 3 has a very rare instance of a contestant losing their turn with only vowels remaining: with only the A's missing in the Next Line Please puzzle I DO NOT LIKE THEM SAM-I-AM, a contestant buys U.
    • After the next contestant solves (presumably for the house minimum), Pat tells her that the line is followed by "I do not like green eggs and ham" when she does not guess the next line. The fact that these lines are far more commonly used and quoted in the reverse order ("green eggs and ham/Sam-I-Am") may have misled the contestant, as the book itself only uses the "Sam-I-Am/green eggs and ham" order once.
  • On March 31, a contestant mispronounces the second word of THICK PLUSH BEACH TOWELS as "plus". Against precedent, she is asked to say the answer again, and pronounces it correctly the second time. Pat then explains that she was allowed a second chance because the puzzle is a tongue twister.

April 2004Edit

  • On April 1, a contestant incorrectly solves the fully-revealed Round 3 Clue puzzle OVERHAND SQUARE & SHEEPSHANK ARE TYPES (knots) by mispronouncing "sheepshank" as "sheep's hank".
  • On April 2, contestant Heather makes a second appearance because of an error on her first episode. She finishes this episode in third place with $2,050.
  • All five Bonus Rounds are lost on the week of March 29, part of an eight-day losing streak.
  • Between January 17 and April 5, Fictional Place appears four times, when it normally appears no more than once or twice in an entire season.
  • On April 8, the $1,000 Toss-Up is a non-sequitur answer of SPARROWS & PARAKEETS.
  • April 12 is Wheel Around the World Week.
  • On April 12, the theme to the Australian version is used as a cue for the Prize, a trip to Australia.
  • On April 13, there is a $13,600 Jackpot win.
  • All five Bonus Rounds are lost on the week of April 12, three of which have the players getting no help from their letters. The losing streak extends to the 20th.
  • During the week of April 19, the Mystery Round prize is $10,000 toward purchases from Sony Style.
  • On April 19, I'D LIKE TO BUY A VOWEL is the Round 1 puzzle.
  • On April 21, one of the Mystery wedge is accidentally placed on the orange $300, resulting in two consecutive $500 spaces. This also results in contestant Erin landing on it and subsequently lifting it. Although it hides a Bankrupt, this ultimately does not affect the game's outcome.
  • On April 22, in an unusual move, Vanna walks over to help console the contestant after he loses the Bonus Round.
  • On April 26, a contestant (who does not solve the bonus puzzle) misses the $100,000 by one envelope.
  • On April 28, Round 2 is the last appearance of Fill In the Number. It is also the other of only two known Fill In the Number puzzles to have two different numbers in it (# SCORE AND # YEARS AGO).
  • The month of April has three five-letter bonus puzzles: MYTHS on the 9th (itself the only known instance of a bonus puzzle without A, E, I, O, or U), VOGUE on the 12th, and FIBER on the 20th.

May 2004Edit

  • The weeks of May 3-17 are taped at Moscone Center in San Francisco. These episodes are the source of a frequently re-aired outtakes reel, where Vanna repeatedly flubs the line "highlight your nightlife" while shooting a bumper.
  • May 3 is the first Mom & Me Week, with mother/son and mother/daughter teams.
  • On May 3:
    • The $1,000 Toss-Up, CHOOSY MOMS CHOOSE JIF, is the second of four known instances of Slogan being used as a Toss-Up, and the fourth known instance of said category not using its bonus question due to the product being part of the answer.
    • Willie Mays makes a guest appearance after the Round 2 puzzle BASEBALL HALL OF FAME.
  • On May 4, Classic TV makes its first of only two known appearances in the Bonus Round.
  • On May 10:
    • The lights briefly go out during a round. Gameplay is simply picked up from where it left off, and the show is edited.
    • The Bonus Wheel spin is reshot because it did not go all the way around the first time, with the original spin edited out.
  • On May 13:
    • The Round 2 puzzle SEARCH ENGINES GOOGLE AND YAHOO! is the first known use of an exclamation point.
    • Round 3 is the last known appearance of Clue.
  • May 17 is College Week. During this week:
    • University of California's marching band plays music bumpers.
    • All of the Wheel Prizes are trips sponsored by Contiki Holidays.
    • The Mystery Round prize is $10,000 towards purchases from Sony Style.
  • On May 17:
    • There is an $11,550 Jackpot win. In a rather rare occurrence, it comes with only vowels remaining.
    • Round 3 is only the second known instance of a Prize Puzzle offering something other than a trip: specifically, the puzzle AN EVENING YOU'LL NEVER FORGET offers $3,500 towards purchases from TicketsNow.com.
  • On May 18, a contestant solves the bonus puzzle MY GIFT TO YOU at the last second with only the T's and O's revealed.
  • On May 20, there is a $7,200 Jackpot win.
  • On May 21, a contestant wins by $50.
  • The weeks of May 24 and 31 have themed backdrops for the split-screen during Pat and Vanna's talk, despite these weeks being taped in Culver City.
  • On May 25, a contestant makes an extremely close incorrect guess on the bonus puzzle KODIAK BEAR by mispronouncing the first word as "Kodak".
  • On May 28, a contestant sweeps the game but loses $25,000 in the Bonus Round.

June 2004Edit

  • On June 2:
    • Seven rounds are played.
    • The scoreboards glitch out at the end of the Speed-Up.
  • On June 3:
    • There is a $9,300 Jackpot win.
    • The Bonus Round contestant says the words "boiling" and "point" at various times among his guesses, but bizarrely never says the right answer of BOILING POINT.

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