Off the Air is a segment that is shown at the end of round 2. After round two, the TV went "Off the Air" (accompanied by a siren effect and the studio lights flashing on and off), and the contestant in last place at that moment was also thrown "Off the Air" and eliminated from the game. Eliminated contestants were removed immediately, chair and all (hence the seat belts).
Beginning in the Spring Break episodes before the second season, the audience would also sing a "goodbye song", typically "Na Na Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," "Hit the Road Jack," or "Get Off My Show" (to the tune of "Get Off My Cloud"), while said player was being ejected. After a contestant was ejected, he/she would be tormented by stagehands playing various annoyances behind him/her while an unrealistic screaming sound effect played.
The ejections were accomplished in a variety of ways.
The setup in the first season was very basic. All three contestants were seated in front of breakaway sections in the wall behind them. Upon elimination, the losing contestant was simply pulled in their chair through that section of the wall, which would fall backwards allowing the chair to continue sliding behind the stage. Upon being pulled through, a black curtain was dropped concealing the contestant. Most of the time this was accompanied by the camera shaking violently and a "static" effect to simulate the TV (and the contestant, as mentioned by Ober) going "Off the Air." On occasion, the chair would return through the wall with the contestant replaced by a skeleton or something else indicating that he or she had been "killed."
The second season was the first to feature three different kinds of eliminations; also, the camera effects were removed. The contestant on the audience's left was pulled backstage through a hidden trap door in the wall, which then closed behind him/her. The contestant in the center sat in front of a large doorway covered with blue paper; upon elimination; he/she was pulled backwards, tearing through it, and a black curtain was lowered over the opening. When the contestant on the right was eliminated, the floor and wall sections around him/her pivoted backwards by 90 degrees, so that the underside of the floor became the wall from the audience's perspective as the contestant was flipped out of view.
The third and fourth seasons presented some minor modifications. The flipping chair was now to the audience's left, while the center chair was pulled through a breakaway wall and curtain similar to those used in the first season. The contestant on the right was eliminated by being pulled backwards, with the wall section behind him/her rotating 180 degrees horizontally to expose a section of exterior house siding, implying that the contestant had been ejected from the house altogether.
For the fifth season, the curtain behind the breakaway wall was replaced by a black wall with a pattern of jail cell bars, and the wall behind the contestant on the right rotated vertically instead of horizontally.
In Spring Break episodes, players were seated on the edge of a swimming pool. The losers would be thrown into the pool by stagehands. Male contestants were pushed into the pool, while female constants were generally picked up and tossed in.
This concept was dropped in later Spring Break episodes and replaced with the contestant in folding lawn chairs which were placed on platforms on the edge of the pool. All 3 contestants were eliminated in the same manner if they went "Off the Air." The platform would sink forward slightly folding up the lawn chair a little bit (and making it more difficult for players to run away if they chickened out as they were not strapped in for safety purposes). The hostess would then walk over to a lever in front of the contestant, wave bye-bye to them and pull the lever which released the platform, sending the seated contestant tumbling backwards into the pool.
In one episode in season 1 and a 1988 Christmas episode in season 3, the contestants performed so badly in Round 1 that Ober decided to have them all yanked "Off the Air" at the end of it. The scores were reset to zero, and three new contestants took their places to complete the game.
In the NES version, if a player has the lowest points in round 2, they get struck by lightning. Also, in the DOS and C64 versions, the contestant blows up during round 2.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- In test run episodes, if a contestant selected it, he/she was immediately eliminated from further play. When the show went into production in December of 1987, the rule was dropped in favor of the rules explained.
- Sometimes, this occasion happens only once:
- Briefly in "Rogé/Suzanne/Tom", the back stagers put the skeleton's body with a Cesar mask which was similar to the one they did in season 1. (At the beginning of the Think Real Fast round, you can see the trap door being opened and the chair moving.)
- In "Adam/Billie/David", Weird Al can be seen in the backstage torturing the eliminated contestants.
- In "Randall/Melissa/Ronny", in the second elimination after the think real fast round, the trick wall behind Ronny failed to rotate and the chair became stuck between the trick wall and the wall next to him, which prompted Ober to say to Ronny: "Nice going Ronny! You broke the basement!", Instead of resetting all three chairs for the Bonus Round, they just left the chair where it was.
- In "Rick/Denna/Jon", Jon kicked the signal light above his chair while being ejected after the Lightning Round, which the light swung back and forth, prompting Ober to say "Look at that! It's like a bad Polynesian restaurant."
- In rare case of a tie for second place at the time the TV went Off the Air, no player was eliminated and all three contestants advanced to the next round. However, after the Lightning Round, both losing contestants would be eliminated simultaneously, which was often referred to as a "double yank".
- The lift or flip chair had a weight limit of 200 pounds.