toughed it out

Figure It Out

Figure It Out is a television game show hosted by Summer Sanders that originally aired on Nickelodeon. Kids with special skills or unique achievements compete as contestants on the show while a panel of four Nickelodeon celebrities compete against the clock as they try to guess the predetermined phrase that describes the contestant's talent. It is considered a loose adaptation of What's My Line?, I've Got a Secret, and To Tell the Truth.

Figure It Out was originally broadcast on Nickelodeon until the turn of the century, where it was moved to Nick GAS. The show was recorded at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.


The game is composed of two sets of three one-minute rounds per episode in which the panelists take turns asking yes-or-no questions to try to guess the contestant's talent. Each time a panelist mentions a word that is part of the phrase that describes the secret talent, the word is turned over on Billy the Answer Head (left), a game board that displays a puzzle. The solution to this puzzle is always the contestant's secret. Billy shows which words of the phrase have and have not been guessed. The contestant wins a prize after each round that his or her talent remains unguessed. After the third round, each panelist is given one final guess as to what the contestant's talent is. The game ends either when a panelist guesses the secret talent or if no panelist guesses the secret talent correctly after the "last guess" stage.

During each round, the panelists receive one clue as a hint to one of the words of the secret phrase. The clue can take the form of physical objects, such as dates (the fruit) to indicate a clue about calendars, sounds (rarely used), or pantomime (the "Charade Brigade", usually two or three cast members, only appearing in round 3, who act out a word from the phrase).

Another aspect of the game show is the "Secret Slime Action." Before the second round of each game, a randomly selected member of the studio audience is revealed; that member stands to win a piece of merchandise, typically a Figure It Out-branded article of clothing (in the first season, it was a merchandise prize, such as a Nintendo 64 or a mountain bike), if at least one celebrity panelist performs the Action (and is subsequently "slimed") by the third round. The Secret Slime Action is typically a simple and almost guaranteed action; actions such as touching a clue, looking to the left (which was reflexive, as clues were commonly wheeled out on a small track from the contestants' left), using the phrase "are you..." or "is it..." and having a certain name were all used as actions. Some actions were even intrinsically unenforceable, such as "thinking about coconuts" or "thinking about mushroom soup"; especially in later episodes, a successful Secret Slime Action was mostly a foregone conclusion, and the variables were only when it would be triggered, and by whom. (Contrary to popular belief, the Secret Slime Action was sometimes NOT actually performed by a panelist.) When the Secret Slime Action is triggered, all play stops while the panelist is slimed and the Action revealed, and is resumed afterwards (the clock is restarted if a round had been interrupted). At times, Summer Sanders would trick panelists into performing the "Secret Slime Action" by making them say something or touch something, that was the trigger action. For example, in one episode the action was touching your head, and she told one of the contestants, "Have you done something with your hair?" and touched her head, making him touch his head as a reaction.

At the conclusion of the game, after the secret talent has been revealed, the contestant demonstrates or displays his or her skill and talks about it with the host and the panelists.


Either three or all four panelists were taken from Nickelodeon shows at the time. Regulars on the panel included Amanda Bynes, Lori Beth Denberg (she left the show in season 3) and Danny Tamberelli of The Adventures of Pete and Pete. The first seat on the panel was usually an older panelist, either an older actor from Nickelodeon (usually Kevin from All That) or a non-Nickelodeon celebrity.


Due to the popularity of the show, two spin-offs occurred. Figure It Out: Family Style (season 3; Autumn, 1998) featured 2 contestants who were related, typically parent-child or sibling-sibling; sometimes the panel would be surprised by seeing the aforementioned contestant's relative jump into the game. Figure It Out: Family Style also featured "Little Billy," a miniature version of Billy on wheels with hair. If the panelists figured out the contestants' secret, they would bring out Little Billy. The panelists had to guess the one (impossible) question on Little Billy, therefore giving the contestant another chance to win a prize (usually Figure It Out apparel). Figure It Out: Wild Style (season 4; Autumn, 1999) featured solely talents involving animals; during these episodes, Billy the Answer Head was reshaped as an animal, including Billy the 'Aaaan'swer Goat, or Billy the Enormous Answer Elephant.

Cardinal Games also adapted a Figure It Out board game version in 1998.

After Games

Slime Spewer

The Slime Spewer slimes the panelist(s) who perform the famous Secret Slime Action. The sound when activated sounds like an alarm klaxon and can be heard on the Figure It Out site on the site under Nick Gas.

Name That Thingy

Summer Sanders would call down one member of the audience and give the Panelists an object. Each of the Panelists would give a name and description of the object, but only one of them were telling the truth, and the audience member (usually a child) would have to figure out who's telling the truth. The audience member will usually get a prize (even if they don't find out who's telling the truth). Many times the prize is an official 'Figure It Out' t-shirt.

Other after games include Name That Critter, The Last Laugh, Lightning Letters, Winner's Wheel, Drench Bench, Little Billy, and The Secret Panel Match Up.

External links

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