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A timeline for Season 5 of Wheel of Fortune, which aired in first-run from September 14, 1987 through June 24, 1988.

September 1987Edit

  • On an episode sometime this month (Sandy/Mark/Jim):
    • The Prize wedge is in a font different from the usual, similar in style to the Mad magazine logo.
    • The $200 by $550 is increased to $900.
    • Sandy sweeps the game and wins a Mazda in the Bonus Round.
    • By this episode, the pink wedges have become noticably brighter.
  • According to one recollection, an episode sometime before the retirement of shopping has a puzzle of ONCE YOU BUY A PRIZE IT'S YOURS TO KEEP.

October 1987Edit


The $2,500 wedge (October 1987).


The $3,500 wedge (October 1987).


Big money, indeed.

  • October 5 (#S-796) begins the Big Month of Cash, a special format which eliminates the shopping rounds and has the contestants play for cash. Changes introduced on this episode include:
    • Games are now played to a minimum of four rounds. The templates for Rounds 2 and 3 are moved to Rounds 3 and 4 respectively, while the Round 1 template is now used for the first two rounds. As a result, Free Spin now remains for Round 2.
    • Top dollar values of $2,500 and $3,500 are introduced. These are both sparkly like the $5,000 wedge, and are respectively colored teal and magenta. The $2,500 wedge replaces $1,000 for Round 2, and the $3,500 wedge replaces the red $300 for Round 3.
    • The Round 2 prize is on the blue $150 two spaces to the left of Lose A Turn.
    • A second Prize wedge is added in Round 4. It is placed over the purple $150 if Rounds 3 and 4 are in the same segment and on the red $300 if Round 4 is in its own segment.
    • Commercial breaks no longer occur mid-round. The breaks are now between Rounds 2 and 3, between Rounds 3 and 4, between the last round and the Bonus Round, and between the Bonus Round and Pat and Vanna's post-game chat. If time permits, some games advance Round 4 and its prize to the second segment, with the third segment introducing $5,000 in Round 5. This practice is abandoned in the early 1990s, most likely during Season 9.
    • Five (sometimes six) prizes are available in the Bonus Round: $25,000 cash, a car, and three or four other prizes which are changed out every week. A neon blue-and-green $25,000 sign represents the cash prize; if it is chosen, the sign lowers at the start of the round and Jack says, "Solve the puzzle and you win good ol' American cash that adds up to $25,000."
    • "I'm a Wheel Watcher", also used in commercials around this point, now plays when Vanna walks out. This song, performed by Kool & the Gang, is a rewrite of "I'm a Girl Watcher" by The O'Kaysions.
    • The entire puzzle board is now shown during Speed-Up rounds. Previously, the shot of the board would be cropped as tightly as possible.
    • The stage now has several rugs and turntables showing various (mostly nonexistent) Wheel layouts, used mostly to display prizes like cars and boats; this includes a smaller rug which Pat, Vanna, and the day's winner stand on at center stage during the credits. The turntables are active during the opening, car descriptions, and closing (unless the champion wins a car and the post-game chat and credits take place there).
    • A dramatic orchestral cue called "I Remember the Child" accompanies Pat's rundown of the Bonus Round prizes.
    • As it no longer applies, "gift certificates do not include sales tax" is removed from Jack's closing disclaimer.
    • "The following companies have furnished prizes and/or paid a fee for promoting their products." is the new sponsor list preface.
  • Years after the retirement of shopping, Vanna retains a ceramic Dalmatian and occasionally brings it out for special appearances; by 2009, it is named "Sheldon".
  • Other notable events on October 5 (John/Nancy/Peter):
    • Jack's intro is "The studio is buzzing today in anticipation of magnificent prizes and lots of money in this Month of Cash on Wheel of Fortune! And here's our host, who's also buzzing to tell us more about it: Pat Sajak!" During the intro, the puzzle board reads WHEEL OF FORTUNE on three lines, center-aligned (which had previously been, and continues to be, a hallmark of the show's merchandise). Perhaps due to a technical error, Jack's intro echoes slightly. Also, neither the money graphic nor animated logo are used.
    • In Round 2, contestant Peter lands on $800, but looks at the wrong arrow and tries to turn in his Free Spin after thinking that he has landed on Bankrupt. On the next spin, he lands on $400, then tries to buy a vowel first.
    • In Round 3, Peter tries to buy another vowel after having bought every vowel that is in the puzzle, but Pat stops him.
    • John accidentally asks to buy an owl in Round 4, to which Pat responds "We do not sell any birds on this show anymore."
    • The first four puzzles all have apostrophes in them, much to Pat's amusement.
    • Rounds 1, 2, and 5 are Phrase.
  • By October 5, the category chyron now appears in the Speed-Up, a practice that appears to have been dropped in 1981.
    • Sometime after the above change, and most likely still within Season 5, contestant Bill guesses STYROFOAM HAT for the Speed-Up puzzle STYROFOAM CUP, a moment which has been seen in several retrospectives.
    • For possibly the last time on the nighttime show, the chroma-key Wheel shot is used during Pat and Vanna's sign-off.
  • Most likely on October 6, the opening is mostly reverted to the original, albeit ending with "Plus thousands of dollars in cash! Over (amount) just waiting to be won, as we continue this special Big Month of Cash on Wheel of Fortune!", and Pat still walks out to center stage to explain the change. Rhonda/Patt/Jay and Mary Beth/Donna/Robin are known to use this.
  • On Rhonda/Patt/Jay, known to not be from the week of October 5:
    • The "only vowels remain" beeps still sound eight times.
    • The Round 2 prize is placed on the $150 between $250 and $400.
    • "I Remember the Child" is still used.
    • Jay sweeps the game and wins a Jaguar in the Bonus Round; said Bonus Round, PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE, is the second known instance (and first nighttime one) of Quotation being used there.
    • Pat and Vanna do not sign off; rather, the final segment begins with the fee plugs.
  • By the above episode, the Enterprises logo is altered: the background becomes yellow, and "A unit of The Coca-Cola Company" is changed to "A unit of Coca-Cola TELEVISION". This credit is also used on Mary Beth/Donna/Robin.

November 1987Edit

  • On November 2, the changes from Big Month of Cash are made permanent, and it is now referred to as "Big Bonanza of Cash". Pat no longer walks out to center stage, and Jack's intro changes slightly to end with "as we continue by popular demand our Big Bonanza of Cash on Wheel of Fortune!" At least three episodes are known to use this opening: Geri/Chip/Betsy, Norm/Marci/Dean, and Deb/Art/Amy.
    • The daytime show retains the shopping rounds through Rolf Benirschke's last episode (June 30, 1989), while Pat continues to tell nighttime players "We're playing for cash." until about March 1997.
  • Most likely on November 2, the "only vowels remain" beeps are shortened from eight to four. They are known to be used on Norm/Marci/Dean and Deb/Art/Amy (the latter taped in October).
  • "I Remember the Child" is likely dropped on November 2. It is not used on any of the aforementioned episodes.
  • On Geri/Chip/Betsy and Norm/Marci/Dean, the Wheel layouts still look the same as they did on October 5. By Deb/Art/Amy, three changes are made:
    • The tan $600 in Round 1 increases to $900.
    • The pink $500 and purple $250 near the light-blue $400 in Round 3 swap positions.
    • The $1,000 in Round 3 uses a narrower font (most noticeably the 1 and first 0).
  • From this point until the one-template layout is introduced in the third week of Season 14, $600 is absent from Rounds 1-2.
  • On Geri/Chip/Betsy:
    • During the intro, Jack introduces Pat as "And here's your host: the delightful Pat Sajak!"
    • Round 5 begins as a Speed-Up. Because of it being in the same segment as Round 4, the puzzle is introduced normally before Pat does the Final Spin.
    • After the Speed-Up puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • When the winner's final total is shown after the Bonus Round, it does not use a comma, even though the values of the Wheel prizes do.
  • On Norm/Marci/Dean:
    • The Round 4 Prize is a mink coat worth $12,000+. It is claimed, but not won.
    • Dean sweeps the game and wins a Mercedes-Benz 190E in the Bonus Round, a total of $74,834.
    • Dean solves the bonus puzzle JANE EYRE (Title) just after the buzzer begins to sound. Despite his answer clearly being a loss, Pat asks for a ruling, and an offstage voice (possibly Nancy Jones) can be heard saying "yes" before he is declared a winner.
  • On Deb/Art/Amy:
    • The values of the Prizes and the winner's final total do not use commas.
    • Rounds 2-4 and the Bonus Round are Thing.
    • Unusually, very short puzzles are used in Round 2 (DETECTIVE AGENCY) and Round 3 (THUMB-SUCKING).
    • Round 5 begins as a Speed-Up. Due to it being played in the same segment as Round 4, it is introduced normally, with the Final Spin chimes playing immediately after the puzzle reveal chimes.
    • Deb wins despite losing $12,050 ($2,550 cash and a $9,500 fur coat) to Bankrupt in Round 4.
    • After the Speed-Up puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • In the final segment, Pat and Vanna promote the Doral Inn in New York City, at which they stayed (apparently during a contestant search).
    • "HOTEL ACCOMODATIONS AND INTERVIEW FACILITIES WHILE IN NEW YORK PROVIDED BY DORAL INN" appears between the eligibility disclaimer and Vanna's wardrobe credit, on five lines over a shot of Pat, Vanna and Deb at center stage. "ACCOMMODATIONS" is misspelled.
  • By Deb/Art/Amy, full credit rolls now have headers in blue and names in yellow.
  • Later this month, Jack's opening spiel is slightly changed to end with " we present our Big Bonanza of Cash on Wheel of Fortune!"
  • On an episode from November or December (Norm/Diane/Linda), Diane chooses to play for a $39,792 RV and wins it. This may well be first time a contestant forgoes both the cash and car in the Bonus Round during the Big Month/Bonanza of Cash.
  • On another episode from the above period (Sheila/Greg/Dick, known to have been rerun February 18, 1989):
    • Pat jokes at the top of the show that he forgot to put on a belt because he was talking to Bob Murphy, then-president of Merv Griffin Enterprises.
    • Strangely, the Round 2 Prize value chyron does not use a comma.
    • The Round 2 Prize is erroneously placed on the other blue $150 (between $250 and $400).
    • During the post-game chat, Pat deliberately lets his pants fall down (in reference to the above joke), causing Jack to laugh as he begins the fee plugs.

December 1987Edit

  • On an episode taped sometime this month (Rick/Julie/Gretchen):
    • The Wheel's automation can be heard during the opening.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 2 and 4, Thing in Round 3 and the Bonus Round.
    • All of the puzzles are very short, with Round 2 being the longest at only 20 letters.
    • After Round 1, as Pat is throwing to Jack for the Round 2 Prize plug, the blue contestant backdrop shows a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • After Julie hits Bankrupt in Round 2, Pat walks over to remove the Prize wedge from her arrow himself, as opposed to asking her to pass it to him as usual.
    • The game ends in a tie, which is broken by a second Speed-Up played by the tied contestants in the segment normally occupied by the Bonus Round. As a result, the Bonus Round and sign-off are both in the last segment, the only known instance of this happening after the retirement of shopping.
    • The bonus puzzle SKI SEASON is inexplicably categorized as Thing instead of Event.
    • As Pat, Vanna, and the day's winner sign off after the Bonus Round, the Wheel can be seen starting its automation.
    • Following Jack's "prices of the prizes" closing disclaimer, he states that "This program was edited for broadcast."
  • As of December 17 (or the above episode, whichever is later), the money graphic is still in the center of the screen.
  • On December 17 (Eileen/Peggy/Paul):
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Rounds 1, 2, and 4 are Phrase.
  • Reruns air during the week of December 28.

January 1988Edit

  • Suzie/Jay/Lorie airs sometime between January 4 and February 5.
  • On an episode from between January 4 and about February 12 (Marj/Paula/Denia, taped in January), Denia sweeps the game and wins $25,000 in the Bonus Round.
  • By the above episode, the money graphic begins to be shown at or near the bottom of the screen.
  • By the above episode, the Prize wedge lettering becomes shorter (more "squished") than usual.
  • From about January 31-April 30, Acme Supermarkets promotes a special Acme Wheel of Fortune game in which shoppers can receive game cards that award over $4,000,000 in cash and prizes including food, gift certificates, and $5,000 in cash (promoted with footage of the Wheel stopping on said space). The ads use a rendition of "Changing Keys" played on trumpets, somewhat resembling the 1994 rearrangement of the theme.

February 1988Edit

  • On February 8, the Enterprises logo replaces "A unit of Coca-Cola TELEVISION" with "A unit of Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc."
  • On February 12 (Hank/Nancy/Becky):
    • Rounds 2 and 4 are Title.
    • Becky solves the Speed-Up puzzle ARE YOU THINKING WHAT I'M THINKING with only the T's and N's showing.
  • As of February 12, the "Big Bonanza" title and opening are still in use.
  • On an episode sometime this month (Michael/Tracy/Vicky):
    • The Round 2 puzzle IN THIS BUSINESS IT'S DOG-EAT-DOG has an apostrophe and two hyphens, tying the record for the most known punctuation used in the trilon era (barring Fill In the Blank puzzles) until September 1994.
    • Six rounds are played, with $5,000 introduced in Round 5.
    • Michael sweeps the game and wins a Maserati in the Bonus Round.

      Awkward, much?

  • Sometime between February 12 and the end of April, Free Spin reverts to only being present in Round 1, with a yellow $200 replacing it for Round 2. This $200 wedge is "off-model", using a thinner variant of the font used for $2,500. This also results in a very awkward layout, with two adjacent $200s and a third only two wedges away.

March 1988Edit

  • By March 23 (Barbara/Laura/Marc), "as we present our Big Bonanza of Cash" is removed from the intro.
  • As of March 23, the money graphic is still shown at the bottom of the screen.

April 1988Edit

  • Reruns air during the week of April 4.
  • On an episode between March 24 and mid-April (Gerri/Maria/Kevin), known to have been rerun on June 28:
    • The "off-model" $200 is accidentally present on the Wheel from the chant through Pat's opening spin.
      Thin Font $3,500 1988
    • $3,500 uses the same font as the "off-model" $200.
    • Kevin sweeps the game but loses a Corvette in the Bonus Round.
    • At the end of the show, Vanna gets into a pool on-set and soaks her dress. She stands up, only to realize that her dress has become transparent.
  • By the above episode, the money graphic returns to the center of the screen.
  • On April 28 (Jan/Peter/Phil):
    • Pat mentions that some "guests from Denmark" are in the audience.
    • Jan's and Phil's hometowns are never mentioned.
    • Six rounds are played, with Rounds 3 and 4 in the same segment.
    • For the first of only two known times, there are three sets of repeated categories: Rounds 1 and 6 are Phrase, Rounds 4 and 5 are Thing(s), and Round 3 and the Bonus Round are Person.
    • The Round 4 Prize is a $10,292 travel trailer. It is not picked up.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 4.
    • Vanna begins to turn the hyphen in Round 6 before it is lit up, but she catches herself.
    • The shot of the Speed-Up puzzle is cropped as tightly as possible, a practice that was abandoned at the beginning of this season.
      $300 yellow
    • In the final segment, Pat has two of the stagehands raise and lower the $25,000 sign.
  • By the above episode, the "off-model" $200 increases to an also off-model $300.
  • As of the above episode:
    • $3,500 is still using the same font as the "off-model" $200/$300.
    • The shorter Prize wedge lettering is still present. The lettering returns to normal by the start of Season 6.

May-June 1988Edit

  • On an episode likely from the week of May 2 (Linda/Dorothea/Michael):
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1, 2, and 4, People in Round 3 and Person in Round 5.
    • All of the puzzles are unusually short, with Round 2 (WHAT ARE YOUR SYMPTOMS) and Round 4 (TALKING A MILE A MINUTE) being the longest at only 19 letters each.
    • When Pat gives the rules spiel for the Round 4 Prize, he says "there it is on the bank, you land on it, you know, you know the process here".
    • Pat's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn.
  • May 6 is Jack's last full episode. Charlie fills in for at least the weeks of May 9-16, and most likely through the end of the season.
  • Sometime this month, a College Week is held. During the intro, all representatives are shown in front of the puzzle board, which reads COLLEGE WEEK, and holding signs for their respective colleges. The week is known to have had Charlie filling in as announcer.
  • On an episode from the above week (David/Eugene/Ken), which was rerun on July 29:
    • Vanna wears a sweater and pants.
    • Three males play.
    • When Eugene calls an incorrect T in Round 1, the buzzer does not sound until after the next contestant (Ken) starts to spin.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Before Round 3, each contestant gives a presentation on their respective university, accompanied by pictures of the campus.
    • The values of the Prizes do not use commas.
    • Perhaps in relation to the presentations, the puzzles are all somewhat shorter than usual.
  • On another episode from around this point (Donna/Jack/Marci):
    • The values of the Prizes do not use commas.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Things in Rounds 1 and 2, Phrase in Rounds 3 and 5.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 5.
    • Round 5 begins as a Speed-Up.
    • Jack wins by only $100.
  • As of Donna/Jack/Marci or the aforementioned College Week (whichever is later), the thin-font $3,500 is still in use.


  • The Summer reruns begin with Jack reading newly-recorded fee plugs, but he quickly becomes too ill to do even those. As a result, Pat and Vanna do the new fee plugs for the rest of the Summer (at least one of which promotes the Mattel game).
  • On the July 20 rerun airing of Suzie/Jay/Lorie, the replacement fee plugs are done by a noticeably ill-sounding Jack.
  • On July 21, Jack dies.
  • On July 27, that day's rerun on WEWS in Cleveland is interrupted around the 20-minute mark by a Jimmy Carter campaign ad from 1976, which runs for about 15 seconds before switching back to Wheel.
  • Beginning on August 31, owners of the Mattel game can play along with the in-show puzzles.

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