A timeline for Season 8 of Wheel of Fortune, which aired in first-run from September 3, 1990 through June 14, 1991. Please note that this page is rather incomplete, as Game Show Network has never aired any episodes from this season and very few episodes circulate among collectors.
- The chevron contestant backdrops are replaced by the diamond backdrops first used on the Radio City Music Hall shows in November 1988. (The daytime show continues to use the chevrons through at least August 9, 1991, if not the end of its run.)
- The floor is changed to black, and (likely as a result) the projected Wheel of Fortune logo is retired. (Daytime, due to not using the black floor, retains the projected logo through at least August 9, 1991.)
- The scoreboards are widened to seven digits, and the dollar sign now "adjusts" to scores instead of remaining at the far left. A similar six-digit style was used on the New York City and Disney World shows.
- The contestant displays are now connected to each other, with no spaces between them.
- The lights surrounding the Wheel become much brighter, and the bottom layer now flashes clockwise as the Wheel is spinning (much like the other layers); previously, they flashed counterclockwise.
- The Wheel is noticeably tighter and louder than in previous seasons.
- Title/Author likely debuts this season.
- Following the last puzzle of the game, the cumulative total of an outgoing or returning champion is shown flashing in a similar manner to the post-Bonus Round totals.
- The contestant's Bonus Round letters are now red unless the category chyrons are also red, in which case the letters are blue.
- This is the first season after Season 6 not to have a road show and the only one until Season 33.
- September 3 is Teen Week, a tradition which leads off the next several seasons.
- Actress Alicia Witt, whose only role at this point is a character in Dune, competes on one of the Teen Week episodes. She later appears on a celebrity episode in November 1997.
- According to several recollections, a contestant during Teen Week incorrectly solves the fully-revealed puzzle DOUBLE INDEMNITY by mispronouncing "indemnity".
- On September 10, during the post-game chat, Pat and Vanna mention the black floor. A shot of this occurs twice, and the $25,000 sign can be seen in both shots, although its lights are not flashing until the credits.
- As of September 10, the Merv Griffin Enterprises and King World graphics still look and act the same as they did on January 30.
- On September 11:
- Rounds 1, 4, and the Bonus Round are Thing.
- Rounds 2 and 3 are played entirely by the contestants who began them.
- On the third spin of Round 3, contestant Gemini's flipper manages to completely bypass the middle portion of the blue $450 right as the Wheel stops.
- The Round 4 prize is a diamond and pearl pin valued at $11,500, which is won.
- As the post-game chat and credits take place near the car that Don wins in the Bonus Round, the turntable is not active.
- As of September 11:
- The Round 2 and 4 Prizes are still removed from the Wheel if they are not claimed in their respective rounds.
- The Bonus Round envelope holder still looks the same as it did on September 4, 1989.
- The contestant who lands on either a Prize wedge or the Free Spin is still allowed to pick up the item before calling a letter.
- On September 14, contestant Mindy Mitola retires with a new winnings record of $146,014.
- Clue debuts sometime this month. Until shortly into Season 10, a light saxophone sting plays if a contestant correctly identifies what the Clue describes.
- Sometime after the introduction of Clue, according to one recollection, a Round 1 Clue puzzle of OZ DOG is the shortest known maingame puzzle at this point.
- Likely sometime this month, and definitely by December 24, the rules are changed so that a contestant who lands on a Prize wedge or the Free Spin now has to call a letter correctly before picking it up. Additionally, money is no longer awarded for the correct letter.
- November 5-9 is a sweepstakes sponsored by Norwegian Cruise Lines. Viewers may submit five puzzles from this week (presumably extra puzzles shown within the game), and 200 winners receive a chance to leave on a seven-day Wheel of Fortune cruise (December 15-22) on which all passengers can audition for the week of February 4, 1991.
- Sometime this month, contestant David wins $71,534. He later appears on "Some of The Greats!" in February 1995.
- On one of his episodes, David solves the bonus puzzle LUGGAGE despite getting no help from his extra letters.
- December 24 is Family Week.
- Reruns air during the week of December 31.
- On an episode sometime this year, Pat and Vanna pie each other at the end of a show. This moment has been seen repeatedly in clip shows.
- Vanna is absent for the weeks of January 7 and 14 due to her honeymoon. Tricia Gist, then the girlfriend of Merv Griffin's son Tony, fills in for her. During these episodes:
- Charlie introduces only Pat, who then introduces Tricia, who enters to the bridge of "Changing Keys".
- New Leaf provides Tricia's wardrobe.
- On one of Tricia's episodes (Ken/Shelly/Patti, definitely a Wednesday or Thursday):
- In Round 1, Free Spin covers the dollar sign instead of the 3 on the blue $300. This is corrected by Round 2.
- The Round 2 Prize is accidentally placed on the pink $250, one wedge counterclockwise from its typical spot on $150. It is won.
- By the above episode:
- A thick golden ring is added behind the letters on the Bonus Round envelope holder.
- The copyright date is now shown during the credits, as opposed to being on the Enterprises logo. If there is no credit roll, it is shown as a chyron; but if there is a credit roll, it scrolls up.
- The Enterprises logo returns to its original black background with "Merv Griffin Enterprises" animated, and is now revealed by a "page turn" effect; the byline, "A unit of Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc.", is orange. The Griffin also winks at the camera, as was the case from November 1983 to February 1984. (The daytime show retains the "page turn" effect with the previous graphic through at least August 9.)
- The King World logo is changed to its more familiar full-screen "spotlights" animation, which begins at the point where the bars cross and the triangle forms the star.
- On an episode believed to be from January 25 (Bruce/Doug/Kim, known to have been rerun on July 19):
- For the first known time since May 1990, Rounds 3 and 4 (complete with its Prize) are in the same segment.
- Round 4 and the Bonus Round are Thing, while Round 5 is Things.
- Bruce appears to say the answer to the Speed-Up puzzle INNERMOST THOUGHTS on the buzzer. After conferring with the judge, Pat moves on to Doug who calls a letter and solves. Pat then notes that Bruce's response will be checked during the commercial break; his answer is determined to have come after the buzzer, but it would not have mattered as Doug would have proceeded to the Bonus Round regardless.
- By about January 25, the practice of removing Prize wedges after their respective rounds is abandoned. As a result:
- The Round 2 Prize is placed on the purple $150 for Round 3, then the red $300 for Rounds 4+.
- The Round 4 Prize moves to the orange $200.
- On January 29 (Bill/Esther/Joe):
- Round 3 is Things, while Rounds 4, 5, and the Bonus Round are Thing.
- In Round 1, Bill attempts to buy a vowel with only $200 in his bank.
- In Round 3, all three contestants consecutively hit Bankrupt. Overall, a total of four Bankrupts are hit during the round, with $10,950 cumulatively lost to them.
- During the Speed-Up, Esther bends down to spin the Wheel during her second turn but Pat stops her.
- On January 30 (Juzar/Joe/Tom):
- Three males play.
- No vowels are bought in Rounds 1 or 5.
- When throwing to commercial following Round 2, Pat throws the Round 2 Prize wedge (which was won) onto the center of the Wheel.
- After Juzar hits Bankrupt in Round 4, Pat leans over to remove the Prize wedge from his arrow himself, as opposed to asking him to hand it to him as usual.
- On January 31 (Debb/Joe/Corliss):
- Rounds 1 and 4 are played entirely by the contestant who began them.
- The Round 4 Prize is a $10,995 piano. It is not hit.
- Round 5 begins as a Speed-Up.
- On February 1 (Debb/Conny/John), there are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 2 and 4, Thing in Round 5 and the Bonus Round.
- February 4 is a week consisting of players who auditioned on the Wheel of Fortune cruise in December.
- During the week of March 11, Tricia fills in for Vanna again, due to Vanna having a cold at the time of taping.
- On April 1, at the end of the show, Vanna appears to be pregnant. She then takes the cushion out of her dress and notes that it is an April Fool's joke.
- Reruns air during the week of April 8.
- On April 16:
- The original Round 1 puzzle is thrown out and replaced, as mentioned by Charlie at the end of the show. The original puzzle's blanks can be seen in the opening pan.
- Before the fee plugs, there is a contestant plug (phone number and address) for those wanting to audition for the Season 9 Teen Weeks.
- By April 16, Prize wedges are now removed from the Wheel before the last round if it begins as a Speed-Up.
- As of April 16 (or the below episode, whichever is later), the Bonus Round chevron backdrops look the same as they did on September 4, 1989.
- On a Wednesday or Thursday after the above changes, but before May 6 (Carla/Bob/Winston):
- The Round 4 Prize is an $11,792 trip to Ireland.
- Six rounds are played, with two sets of duplicate categories: Phrase in Rounds 2, 4, 6, and the Bonus Round; Things in Round 3; and Thing in Round 5.
- The Round 2 Prize is inadvertently placed over the pink $250 instead of the usual blue $150 to its right.
- May 6 is Teen Week.
- May 13 is College Week. Unlike Season 6, this format uses one player for each school represented.
- On May 14:
- Only one turntable (which has a Jeep) moves during the opening and credits. The stationary turntable has a Saab.
- With only vowels left, contestant Andrea incorrectly solves the Round 2 puzzle HAVE IT ON GOOD AUTHORITY by saying "in". Play passes to Vince, who only has $200 and begins the same incorrect answer, only to be buzzed out. Becky then solves correctly for $200.
- Vince begins to solve the Round 3 puzzle BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY, but stops before the last word, after which the camera cuts to a close-up of him saying "difficulty". This and Pat's comments afterward clearly indicate that there was an error of some sort.
- By May 14, the Bonus Round chevron backdrops add lights which flash during the opening, bonus prize descriptions, and credits.
- Around this point, the show holds a home viewer contest in which winners receive a trip to Disneyland.
- On June 11, contestant Patti retires with $77,137.