Twenty One 2000
NBC Primetime, January 9, 2000 - May 28, 2000
Run time
60 Minutes
Maury Povich

Twenty One (2000) was a game show.

Game FormatEdit

Two contestants (one a champion, the other the challenger), were both placed in isolation booths, so they cannot hear or see the other's score or progress. Plus, they couldn't see the audience due to the arrangement of the lighting in the studio.

The object of the game was to score 21 points as fast as you can, or come closer to 21 points than the opponent.

The game was played for up to five rounds. In each round, a category was given, each category has eleven questions of increasing difficulty, they ranged in value from 1 to 11 (one point being the easiest, eleven being the hardest). So any contestant can reach 21 in as few as two rounds. Each contestant in turn (starting with the challenger) with the other's booth turned off, decided how many points to play for, and then a question worth that value was asked by the host. A correct answer added the chosen point value to the player's score. After the first two rounds, both players' booths were turned on though they still don't know each other's score and they were now given the option to stop the game, but they must stop only if they think they're leading. That's important, because when the game is stopped voluntarily, the player with the most points at that point wins; if they didn't decide to stop the game, the game continues. On games when they didn't stop voluntarily, the first player to reach 21 points won the game. Should the challenger reach 21 first, the champion who has a score of 10 points or more was given one last chance to catch up and take the game to a 21-21 tie; the challenger's booth was left on during that time to make sure he/she can hear everything going on.

Changes from the OriginalEdit

The game was basically the same as the original but with these exceptions:

  • All questions are multiple choice with the 1-6 point questions having three choices, the 7-10 point questions having four choices (with the 10 point question having as the fourth choice "none of the above"), and the extremely hard 11 point question having five choices (plus, it requires two correct answers).
  • Contestants no longer lost points for incorrect answers; instead, they get a strike. Like in baseball, the Price is Right pricing game 3 Strikes, A Millon, Cash Cab, Family Feud, the Mall Masters bonus round, the 1978-1979 Super Jeopardy! round, and the Winning Lines Wonderwall Round, three strikes and that player is out. If both players strike out, they both lost, and two new players were introduced. At one time, host Povich made a mistake by telling the champion that his opponent already struck out when he shouldn't have. So to ensure that there would be a winner, the champion went for and answered correctly a one-point question. Maury made an announcement about the mistake after the commercial break and before playing the Perfect 21 bonus game (which will be explained later).
  • On any question (only once per game), if the active player is stumped he/she can call for a "second chance". The second chance was where a relative or a friend of the active player came in to help out by giving his/her own answer. On a second chance if the active player missed, he/she received two strikes instead of one while a correct answer still earned the question's point value.
  • If the game ended in a 21-21 tie, instead of starting a brand new game, a tie-breaker question was asked to both players whose booths were both turned on just like in the stopping the game portion (which didn't exist in the first show). Host Povich read the question and the first player to buzz-in with a correct answer won the game.


Contestants no longer won money according to the difference between the winning and losing scores, instead they won money according to what game they were playing.

In the early weeks of the show, the payoff structure went like this:

Game Value
1 $100,000
2 $200,000
3 $300,000
4 $400,000

The payoffs were repeated after every four wins.

After a few early episodes, the prize ladder changed to the following:

Game Value
1 $25,000
2 $50,000
3 $100,000
4 $250,000
5 $500,000
6 $750,000
7 $1,000,000

These amounts accumulated, so winning seven games would be worth at least $2,675,000. As before, any contestant who defeated a seventh opponent started again from the beginning of the chain (i.e. the 8th game would be played for $25,000; etc.).

When the rules changed, the returning champion had won one game and $100,000 in his appearance on the final show under the old prize structure. Instead of being "grandfathered" under the old prize structure, he played and won his second game for $250,000 (the next amount after $100,000), and played but lost his third game for $500,000.

Losing challengers went home with $1,000.

Cash HandoutsEdit

Upon the champion's defeat, the money he/she won was handed to him/her in cold hard cash. One of the models walked in with a silver-plated platter with cash totaling the champion's winnings. The money was placed into a bag with the show's logo & NBC peacock on it (unless the amount was so large that it would not fit into the bag).

Perfect 21Edit

The winner of each game went on to play a new bonus game called Perfect 21. Host Povich asked up to six true/false questions of increasing difficulty under a specific category. Each question increased the value of points, starting with 1, then 2, 3, 4, 5, and finally 6. Each point was worth $10,000 so the maximum total was $210,000. If the champion missed any question along the way, the bonus round money was lost, which is why he/she was always given the option to stop the game and keep whatever they won and add it to the current winnings. No player ever gotten the full $210,000 by getting all six right although one player named Tim Helms came very close; in fact he answered five of the six questions right, but he refused to go for the hat trick and chose to keep the $150,000 he did score; after the break, Maury asked the final question to Tim just for fun.

Contestant selectionEdit

During the first six episodes, the audience chose the winner's next opponent. The audience would be presented with two potential challengers to face the current champion, and the audience would vote for an opponent using keypads. The person who received the higher vote played against the champion; the other person would be one of the two potential challengers to be voted on for the next game. In the first episode, there were three potential opponents to face the champion. After the sixth episode, the process was changed to a random selection. At the beginning of the show, six potential challengers would be introduced, and would be selected randomly from that group for each new game. People who had not been selected by the end of the show were not guaranteed to return on the following show, although some people did appear on the show multiple times before being selected to play.


David Legler was the show's biggest winner having won $1,765,000 in six games.
This version has been reran on PAX (later I now Ion Television) and GSN in the past respectively.

International VersionsEdit


I61 C


Episode StatusEdit


See AlsoEdit

Twenty-One (1982 pilot)


Official Website (via Internet Archive)
Rules for Twenty-One
Rules for Twenty-One @
A tribute to Twenty-One
Rules for Twenty-One 2000
All about Twenty-One
Twenty-One 2000 Episode Guide