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Figure It Out
Figure It Out logo.
Format Children's game show
Created by Kevin Kay
Magda Liolis
Presented by Summer Sanders
Narrated by Jeffrey Dumas (called "J" in-show)
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 407+
Location(s) Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida
Running time 22 minutes
Original channel Nickelodeon
Original run July 7, 1997 – December 12, 1999
A contestant on Figure It Out.

Figure It Out is an American television children's game show hosted by Summer Sanders that aired on Nickelodeon for four seasons from July 7, 1997 to December 12, 1999.

Kids with special skills or unique achievements competed as contestants on the show while a panel of four Nick celebrities tried to guess the predetermined phrase that described the contestant's talent. The series is considered a loose adaptation of What's My Line?, I've Got a Secret, and To Tell the Truth (three established panel shows, all created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman).

Shortly after the series aired its last first-run episode, Figure It Out began airing repeats on Nick GAS until the network ceased at the end of 2007. The series was recorded at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.



Each episode had two sets of three one-minute rounds, in which the panel took turns asking yes-or-no questions to try and guess the contestant's talent. Each time a panelist mentioned a word that was part of the phrase that described the secret talent, the word was turned over on Billy the Answer Head, a game board that displayed a puzzle (the solution being the contestant's secret).

Billy showed which words of the phrase were guessed, along with blanks denoting unguessed words. The contestant won a prize after each round that his or her talent remained unguessed. If Round 3 ended with at least one word left unrevealed, each panelist took one final guess as to what the contestant's talent was (any correct words given during the final guess were revealed, as during the game). The game ended when a panelist guessed the secret talent or if no panelist guessed the secret talent correctly after the "last guess" stage.

During each Round, the panelists received one clue as a hint to one of the words of the secret phrase. The clue usually took the form of physical objects – such as dates to indicate a clue about calendars – sounds (rarely used), or pantomime (the "Charade Brigade", usually two or three cast members that act out a word from the phrase during Round 3).

At the end of the game, after the secret talent was revealed, the contestant demonstrated or displayed their skill and talked about it with the host and panel.


Secret Slime Action

Prior to Round 2 in each game, a randomly-selected member of the studio audience played for a prize (a merchandise prize, such as a Nintendo 64 or a mountain bike, in Season 1; a Figure It Out-branded article of clothing from Seasons 2-4) if at least one panelist performed the Action (and is subsequently "slimed") by the end of Round 3.

The action designated as the Secret Slime Action was typically simple and almost guaranteed; touching a clue, looking to the left (which was reflexive, as clues were commonly wheeled out on a small track from a tunnel to the panel's left), using the phrase "Are you..." or "Is it...", looking to the audience behind the panel (who was sometimes used for clues), saying "I don't know", and even having a certain name were all used as Actions.

Some Actions were logically unenforceable, such as "thinking about coconuts" or "thinking about mushroom soup"; throughout the run, and especially in the last two seasons, a successful Action was mostly a foregone conclusion – the variables were only when it would be triggered, and by who (not necessarily a panelist).

When the Secret Slime Action was triggered, all play stopped (including the clock) while the panelist was slimed and the Action revealed, after which gameplay resumed. Sanders knew of the Action, and would sometimes trick panelists into performing it by making them say or touch something (in one episode, the Action was "touching your head"; Sanders touched her head and said "Have you done something with your hair?", which caused the panel to touch their heads in reaction).


Either three or all four panelists were taken from Nickelodeon shows airing at the time. Regulars included All That cast members Amanda Bynes, Lori Beth Denberg (who left in Season 3), and Danny Tamberelli (who also starred in the Nick show The Adventures of Pete and Pete).

The first seat on the panel was usually reserved for an older-aged panelist, either an older actor from Nick (usually Kevin Kopelow of All That) or a non-Nickelodeon celebrity (such as Taran Noah Smith of Home Improvement). At one point, CatDog and Angelica Pickles (Nicktoons) were panelists.

Other guest panelists included Coolio (semi-regular on the 1998 Match Game), Mike O'Malley (host of Nick's Get the Picture and GUTS from 1991-1995), Colin Mochrie (regular on Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Paul Wight (WWE's "The Big Show"), and Rondell Sheridan (regular on the 1998 Match Game).

List of Panelists

Amanda Bynes (from "All That" and "The Amanda Show") (appeared in 52 episodes)

Danny Tamberelli (from "All That" and "The Adventures of Pete & Pete") (appeared in 94 episodes)

Lori Beth Denberg (from "All That") (appeared in 113 episodes, also appeared in the first 1/2 of an episode as a host)

Kevin Kopelow (from "All That") (appeared in 57 episodes)

Christy Knowings (from "All That") (appeared in 23 episodes)

Leon Frierson (from "All That") (appeared in 3 episodes)

Josh Server (from "All That") (appeared in 13 episodes)

Kenan Thompson (from "All That" and "Kenan and Kel") (appeared in 16 episodes)

Kel Mitchell (from "All That" and "Kenan and Kel") (appeared in 9 episodes)

Alisa Reyes (from "All That") (appeared in 2 episodes)

Mark Saul (from "All That") (appeared in 14 episodes)

Irene Ng (from "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo") (appeared in 13 episodes)

Adam Busch (from "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo") (appeared in 6 episodes)

Preslaysa Edwards (from "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo") (appeared in 8 episodes)

Steve Purnick (from "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo") (appeared in 5 episodes)

Ellen David (from "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo") (appeared in 3 episodes)

Eleanor Noble (from "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo") (appeared in 4 episodes)

Vanessa Baden (from "Kenan and Kel") (appeared in 1 episode)

Phil Moore (from "Nick Arcade" and "You're On!") (appeared in 21 episodes)

Michelle Trachtenberg (from "Harriet the Spy") (appeared in 12 episodes)

Erin J. Dean (from "The Journey of Allen Strange") (appeared in 21 episodes)

Shane Sweet (from "The Journey of Allen Strange") (appeared in 13 episodes)

Arjay Smith (from "The Journey of Allen Strange") (appeared in 9 episodes)

Steve Burns (from "Blue's Clues") (appeared in 5 episodes)

Rondell Sheridan (from "Cousin Skeeter") (appeared in 7 episodes)

Meagan Good (from "Cousin Skeeter") (appeared in 4 episodes)

Robert Ri'chard (from "Cousin Skeeter") (appeared in 4 episodes)

Travis White (from "You're On!") (appeared in 5 episodes)

Mike O'Malley (from "Get the Picture" and "Nickelodeon GUTS") (appeared in 10 episodes)

Moira Quirk (from "Nickelodeon GUTS") (appeared in 7 episodes)

Jenna Leigh Green (from "Sabrina the Teenage Witch") (appeared in 4 episodes)

Marc Weiner (from "Weinerville") (appeared in 10 episodes)

Taran Noah Smith (from "Home Improvement") (appeared in 7 episodes)

Kareem Blackwell (from "Are You Afraid of the Dark?") (appeared in 10 episodes)

Dave Aizer (from "Nick Gas") (appeared in 3 episodes)

Boris Cabrera (from "Animorphs") (appeared in 3 episodes)

Lindsay Felton (from "Catlin's Way") (appeared in 2 episodes)

Schuyler Fisk (from "Snow Day") (appeared in 1 episode)

Hardy Rawls (from "The Adventures of Pete & Pete") (appeared in 1 episode)

Judy Grafe (from "The Adventures of Pete & Pete") (appeared in 1 episode)

Mike Maronna (from "The Adventures of Pete & Pete") (appeared in 1 episode)

Tara Lipinski (Olympic Figure Skater and from "Nick Gas") (appeared in 9 episodes)

Cousin Skeeter (from "Cousin Skeeter") (appeared in 2 episodes)

CatDog (from "CatDog") (appeared in 2 episodes)

Summer Sanders (appeared in the first 1/2 of an episode as a panelist)

Jack Hanna (appeared in 3 episodes)

Aaron Carter (appeared in 1 episode)

Curtis Warren, Jr. (appeared in 1 episode)

Dennis (appeared in 1 episode)

Carrot Top (appeared in 1 episode)

Chris Jericho (appeared in 1 episode)

Coolio (appeared in 1 episode)

Cedric Ceballos (appeared in 1 episode)

Shannon Miller (appeared in 1 episode)

Bob Sanders (Summer's dad) (appeared in 1 episode)

Richard Simmons (appeared in 1 episode)

Paul "The Giant" Wight (appeared in 2 episodes)

Penny Hardaway (appeared in 1 episode)

Colin Mochrie (appeared in 1 episode)

Joe Namath (appeared in 1 episode)

Jesse Camp (appeared in 2 episodes)

Mya (appeared in 1 episode)

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (appeared in 2 episodes)

Neil Smith (appeared in 2 episodes)

Doug E. Doug (appeared in 2 episodes)

Kordell Stewart (appeared in 1 episode)

Colin Mochrie (appeared in 1 episode)

Julius "Dr. J" Erving (appeared in 1 episode)

Carla Overback (appeared in 1 episode)

Tiffany Roberts (appeared in 1 episode)

Evander Holyfield (appeared in 2 episodes)

Relative Panelists (from Figure It Out: Family Style)

Aunt Kris (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Aunt Lynn (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Aunt Eline (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Uncle Skip (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Uncle Paul (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Cousin Patty (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Cousin Megan (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Cousin Mary (appeared in 1/2 episode)

Cousin John (appeared in 1/2 episode)


"J"'s Mom (in some episodes on "Figure It Out: Family Style")

"J"'s dog (in some episodes on "Figure It Out: Wild Style")

Bailey the Clue Orangatang (in "Figure It Out: Wild Style")

Brooks the Clue Chimpanzee (in "Figure It Out: Wild Style")

The Judges (only in Season 1 a few times)

Format changes

For Season 3 (Fall 1998), the series became Figure It Out: Family Style, featuring two contestants who were related, typically parent-child or siblings. Sometimes the panel would be surprised upon seeing the aforementioned contestant's relative jump into the game during the 2nd half. Sometimes the Charade Brigade can have family members of the panelists and the host. The Wrigley family from "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" appears in one episode. From his very own show, Cousin Skeeter appears in a couple episodes. Figure It Out: Family Style also featured the debut of "Little Billy", a miniature version of Billy on wheels with hair that would sometimes be brought out if the panel figured out the contestants' secret; each panelist had one chance to guess the (impossible) question on Little Billy, therefore giving the contestants another chance to win a prize (usually Figure It Out apparel).

For Season 4 (Fall 1999) – the final season – the show was retitled Figure It Out: Wild Style and focused solely on talents involving animals; in addition, Billy the Answer Head was reshaped into various animals, including Billy the "Aaaan"swer Goat and Billy the Enormous Answer Elephant. From their own show, CatDog appears in a couple episodes.

Cardinal Games released a board game based on the series in 1998.


Slime Spewer

The Slime Spewer was the machine that hovered a distance above the panel, which sounded an alarm klaxon and slimed any panelists who performed the Secret Slime Action (which was usually intentional in Tamberelli's case). In one episode, it was used as the panelists' clue.

End-of-show games

"Name that Thingy": Similar to Liar's Club, Sanders would call down one member of the audience and give the panel an object. Each panelist would give a name and description of the object, but only one of them was telling the truth. The audience member (usually a child) had to choose which was telling the truth, usually getting a prize regardless of the outcome; on most of these occasions, the prize was an official Figure It Out t-shirt.

"Drench Bench", The panelist who figured it out gets to sit in the bench. The contestant gets to use a bow and plunger. Whenever the player hits the target the panelist gets slimed.

"Name that Critter", identical to "Name that Thingy" but uses animals.

Other end-of-show games included "The Last Laugh", "Lightning Letters", "Winner's Wheel", "Little Billy", and "The Secret Panel Match-Up". Typically, one of these games would be played as a time-filler, or when the Secret Slime Action was not activated during the course of the show.


In the first season, the round 1 prize was usually a piece of the set from a current or previous Nickelodeon show.

External links


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