For other uses, see Cluedo (disambiguation).
Designer(s) Anthony E. Pratt[1]
Publisher(s) Waddingtons
Parker Brothers
Winning Moves
Players 2 to 6
3 to 6
(editions vary)
Age range 8 and up
Setup time 5 minutes
Playing time 15 to 60 minutes
Random chance Low (dice rolling)
Skill(s) required Deduction

Cluedo (/ˈkld/)—known as Clue in North America—is a murder mystery game for three to six players, devised by Anthony E. Pratt from Birmingham, England. The game was first manufactured by Waddingtons in the UK in 1949. Since then, it has been relaunched and updated several times, and it is currently owned and published by the American game and toy company Hasbro. The object of the game is to determine who murdered the game's victim ("Dr. Black" in the UK version and "Mr. Boddy" in North American versions), where the crime took place, and which weapon was used. Each player assumes the role of one of the six suspects, and attempts to deduce the correct answer by strategically moving around a game board representing the rooms of a mansion and collecting clues about the circumstances of the murder from the other players.

Numerous games, books, and a film, Clue, have been released as part of the Cluedo franchise. Several spinoffs have been released featuring various extra characters, weapons and rooms, or different game play. The original game is marketed as the "Classic Detective Game", while the various spinoffs are all distinguished by different slogans.

In 2008, Cluedo: Discover the Secrets was created (with changes to board, gameplay and characters) as a modern spinoff, but was criticized in the media and by fans of the original game. Cluedo: The Classic Mystery Game was then introduced in 2012, returning to Pratt's classic formula but also adding several variations.


In 1944, Anthony E. Pratt, an English musician, applied for a patent of his invention of a murder/mystery-themed game, originally named "Murder!".[2] Shortly thereafter, Pratt and his wife, Elva Pratt (1913-1990), who had helped in designing the game, presented it to Waddingtons' executive, Norman Watson, who immediately purchased it and provided its trademark name of "Cluedo" (a play on "clue" and "Ludo"; ludo is Latin for I play). Though the patent was granted in 1947, due to post-war shortages in the UK the game was not officially launched by Waddingtons until 1949.[2] It was simultaneously licensed to Parker Brothers in the US for publication, where it was renamed "Clue" along with other minor changes.[3]

There were several differences between the original game concept and that initially published in 1949, In particular, Pratt's original design calls for ten characters, one of whom was to be designated the victim by random drawing prior to the start of the game. These ten included the eliminated Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, Miss Grey, and Mrs. Silver. The characters of Nurse White and Colonel Yellow were renamed Mrs. White and Colonel Mustard for the actual release. The game allowed for play of up to eight remaining characters, providing for nine suspects in total. Originally there were eleven rooms, including the eliminated "gun room" and cellar. In addition there were nine weapons including the unused bomb, syringe, shillelagh (walking stick/cudgel), fireplace poker, axe, and poison. Some of these unused weapons and characters appeared later in spin-off versions of the game.[4]

Some gameplay aspects were different as well. Notably, the remaining playing cards were distributed into the rooms to be retrieved, rather than dealt directly to the players. Players also had to land on another player in order to make suggestions about that player's character through the use of special counter-tokens, and once exhausted, a player could no longer make suggestions. There were other minor differences, all of which were later updated by the game's initial release and remain essentially unchanged in the standard Classic Detective Game editions of the game.[1][5][6][7][8]


The game consists of a board which shows the rooms, corridors and secret passages of an English country house called Tudor Mansion (named Tudor Close, Tudor Hall, Boddy Manor or Boddy Mansion in some editions) in Hampshire, England in the year 1926. The game box also includes several coloured playing pieces to represent characters, miniature murder weapon props, one or two six-sided dice, three sets of cards (describing the aforementioned rooms, characters or weapons), Solution Cards envelope to contain one card from each set of cards, and a Detective's Notes pad on which are printed lists of rooms, weapons and characters, so players can keep detailed notes during the game.


Main article: Cluedo characters
The figurines and traditional set of North American & UK suspect tokens

Depending on edition, the playing pieces are typically made of coloured plastic, shaped like chess pawns, or character figurines. Occasionally they are made from wood or pewter. The standard edition of Cluedo comes with six basic tokens representing these original characters:


The weapon tokens are typically made out of unfinished pewter, with the exception of the rope, which may be made of plastic, metal, or string depending on edition. Special editions have included gold plated, brass finished and sterling silver versions, which have appeared in a variety of designs.


There are nine rooms in the mansion where the murder can take place, laid out in circular fashion on the game board, separated by pathways overlaid by playing spaces. Each of the four corner rooms contains a secret passage that leads to the room on the opposite diagonal corner of the map. The centre room (often referred to as the Cellar, or Stairs) is inaccessible to the players, but contains the solution envelope, and is not otherwise used during game play. Coloured "start" spaces encircle the outer perimeter which correspond to each player's suspect token. Each character starts at the corresponding coloured space.

Kitchen Conservatory
Dining Room "Cellar"
Billiard Room
Lounge Study

† ‡ denote secret passages to opposite corner


At the beginning of play, three cards—one suspect, one room, and one weapon—are chosen at random and put into a special envelope, so that no one can see them. These cards represent the facts of the case. The remainder of the cards are distributed among the players.

Players are instructed to assume the token/suspect nearest them. In older versions, play begins with Miss Scarlett and proceeds clockwise. In modern versions, all players roll the die/dice and the highest total starts the game, with play proceeding clockwise. Players roll the die/dice and move along the board's corridor spaces, or into the rooms accordingly.

The object is to deduce the details of the murder; that is, the cards in the envelope. There are six characters, six murder weapons and nine rooms, leaving the players with 324 possibilities. As soon as a player enters a room, he/she may make a suggestion as to the details, naming a suspect, room, and weapon. For example: "I suggest it was Professor Plum, in the Dining Room, with the candlestick." The player's suggestion must include the room he/she is currently in; suggestions may not be made in the corridors. The tokens for the suggested suspect and weapon are immediately moved into that room, if they are not both already present. A player's suggestion may name him/herself as the murderer and may include cards in his/her own hand.

Once a player makes a suggestion, the others are invited to disprove it. If the player to his/her left holds any of the three named cards, that player must privately show one (and only one) of them to him/her. If not, the process continues clockwise around the table until either one player disproves the suggestion, or no one can do so. A player's turn ends once his/her suggestion is disproved.

A player who believes he/she has determined the correct elements may make an accusation on his/her turn. The accusation can include any room, not necessarily the one occupied by the player (if any), and may be made immediately following a suggestion that is not disproved.[10] The accusing player privately checks the three cards in the envelope. If they match the accusation, the player shows them to everyone and wins; if not, he/she returns them to the envelope and may not move or make suggestions/accusations for the remainder of the game. However, other players can move his/her token into rooms when making suggestions, and he/she must continue to privately show cards in order to disprove suggestions. A player who makes a false accusation while blocking the door to a room must move into that room afterwards so that others can enter and leave.


Though gameplay is relatively straightforward as described above, various strategies allow players to maximize their opportunities to make suggestions and therefore gain the advantage of accumulating information faster. As alluded to above, blocking the entrance to a room is one way to prevent an opponent from entering a desired room and making a suggestion.[11][12]

Choice of playing piece

The first opportunity is in choosing the initial playing piece. Mrs. Peacock has an immediate advantage of being one space closer to the first room than any of the other players. Professor Plum can move to the study, and then take the secret passage to the Kitchen, the hardest room to get to.[13] Traditionally, Miss Scarlett had the advantage of moving first. This has been eliminated with the implementation of the high roll rule.

Navigating the board

The next opportunity is choice of initial rooms to enter. Again Mrs. Peacock has an advantage in that she is closest to the Conservatory, a corner room with a secret passage, enabling a player on their turn to move immediately to another room and make a suggestion without rolling the dice. Miss Scarlett has a similar advantage with the Lounge. Making as many suggestions as possible gives a player an advantage to gain information. Therefore, moving into a new room as frequently as possible is one way to meet this goal. Players should make good use of the secret passages. Following the shortest path between rooms then is a good choice, even if a player already holds the card representing that room in their hand. As mentioned earlier, blocking passage of another player prevents them from attaining rooms from which to make suggestions. Various single space tracks on the board can therefore become traps, which are best avoided by a player when planning a path from room to room.[14]

Making suggestions

Each player begins the game with three to six cards in her or his hand. Keeping track of which cards are shown to each player is important in deducing the solution. Detective Notes are supplied with the game to help make this task easier. The pads can keep not only a history of which cards are in a player's hand, but also which cards have been shown by another player. It can also be useful in deducing which cards the other players have shown one another. A player makes a suggestion to learn which cards may be eliminated from suspicion. However, in some cases it may be advantageous for a player to include one of their own cards in a suggestion. This technique can be used for both forcing a player to reveal a different card as well as misleading other players into believing a specific card is suspect. Therefore, moving into a room already held in the player's hand may work to their advantage. Suggestions may also be used to thwart a player's opponent. Since every suggestion results in a suspect token being re-located to the suggested room, a suggestion may be used to prevent another player from achieving their intended destination, preventing them from suggesting a particular room, especially if that player appears to be getting close to a solution.[13]


One reason the game is enjoyed by many ages and skill levels is that the complexity of note-taking can increase as a player becomes more skillful. Amateurs may simply mark off the cards they have been shown; more advanced players will keep track of who has and who does not have a particular card, possibly with the aid of an additional grid. Expert players may keep track of each suggestion made, knowing that the player who answers it must have at least one of the cards named; which one can be deduced by later events. One can also keep track of which cards a given player has seen, in order to minimize information revealed to that player and/or to read into that player's suggestions.


Parker Brothers and Waddingtons each produced their own unique editions between 1949 and 1992. Hasbro purchased both companies in the early 1990s and continued to produce unique editions for each market until 2002/2003 when the current edition of Clue/Cluedo was first released. At this time, Hasbro produced a unified product across markets. The game was then localized with regional differences in spelling and naming conventions.

During Cluedo's long history, eight unique Clue editions were published in North America (1949, '56/60, '60/63, '72, '86, '92, '96, and 2002), including miniaturized "travel" editions. However, only three distinct editions of Cluedo were released in the UK – the longest of which lasted 47 years from its introduction in 1949 until its first successor in 1996. The eighth North America and fourth UK editions constitute the current shared game design. International versions occasionally developed their own unique designs for specific editions. However, most drew on the designs and art from either the US or UK editions, and in some cases mixing elements from both, while localizing others – specifically suspect portraits.[4][15]

In July 2008, Hasbro released a revamped look for Clue in a Reinvention called Clue: Discover the Secrets. This new version of the game offered major changes to the game play and to the characters and their back stories. In July 2016 Hasbro replaced Mrs White with a new character Dr. Orchid in a recent update of the game. Dr. Orchid is represented by an orchid pink piece.

While the suspects' appearance and interior design of Dr. Black's/Mr. Boddy's mansion changed with each edition, the weapons underwent relatively minor changes, with the only major redesign occurring in the fourth 1972 US edition, which was adopted by the second 1996 UK edition and remains the standard configuration across all Classic Detective Game versions since. The artwork for the previous US editions tended to reflect the current popular style at the time they were released. The earlier UK editions were more artistically stylized themes. From 1972 on, the US editions presented lush box cover art depicting the six suspects in various candid poses within a room of the mansion. The UK would finally adopt this style only in its third release in 2000, prior to which Cluedo boxes depicted basic representations of the contents. Such lavish box art illustrations have become a hallmark of the game, since copied for the numerous licensed variants which pay homage to Clue.[4][15]


Cluedo was originally marketed as "The Great New Detective Game" upon its launch in 1949 in North America, and quickly made a deal to license "The Great New Sherlock Holmes Game" from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate. Advertising at the time suggested players would take on the guise of "Sherlock Holmes following the path of the criminal", however no depictions of Holmes appears in the advertising or on the box.[16] By 1950 the game was simply marketed as "The Great Detective Game" until the 1960s, at which time it became: "Parker Brothers Detective Game".

Cluedo 1956 UK Edition depicting a Sherlock Holmes type character.

But the association with Sherlock Holmes was far from over. With the launch of the US 1972 edition, a television commercial showed Holmes and Watson engaged in a particularly competitive game. Adjusting with the times, in 1979 US TV commercials a detective resembling a bumbling Inspector Clouseau from the popular Pink Panther film franchise, looks for clues.[17] In 1986, the marketing slogan added "Classic Detective Game" which persists through the last 2002/2003 edition.

In the UK, Cluedo did not start using "The Great Detective Game" marketing slogan until the mid-1950s, which it continued using until the 2000 edition when it adopted the "Classic Detective Game" slogan.[4][15] However, in the mid-1950s Waddingtons also adopted a Sherlock Holmes-type detective to adorn their box covers for a brief time, though unlike the US editions, there was no acknowledgement that the character was actually the famous detective. In the 1980s, as in the US, Sherlock Holmes also appeared in TV advertising of the time, along with other classic detectives such as Sam Spade.[18]

Notable editions


Waddingtons, Parker Brothers and Hasbro have created many spin-off versions of the game. Spin-off games consist of alternative rule variations of the original Classic Detective Game, which are not to be confused with themed "variants" which use the same rules and game configuration. In 1985, the brand expanded to include a feature film, miniseries, a musical, and numerous books.


In addition to revising the rules of gameplay, many of the games also introduced new characters, rooms and locations, weapons and/or alternative objectives.

Computer and video games

Various versions of the game were developed for Commodore 64, MSX, Atari ST, PC, Game Boy Advance, ZX Spectrum, Nintendo DS, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, CD-i, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and Apple iPhone / iPod Touch.

Clue: Murder at Boddy Mansion was released in 1998 for Microsoft Windows.

In 1999, Clue Chronicles: Fatal Illusion was released, which was not based directly upon the board game, but instead uses the familiar characters in a new mystery.

An arcade version of the game was released on an itbox terminal which involves answering questions with a chance to win money. It is available in many pubs throughout the UK.

In 1994–1996, there were six mysteries: "The Hooded Madonna," "Happy Ever After", "Deadly Patent", "Blackmail", "The Road to Damascus", and "Not in my Backyard", with actors.

Clue Classic was released on June 3, 2008 developed by Games Cafe for Hasbro. It is a single player interactive game based on the latest 2002/2003 Classic Detective Game artwork featuring the original six characters, weapons and nine original rooms.[54]

In May 2009 Electronic Arts released a version of Clue for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch on the Apple iTunes Music Store, entitled . This version is an entirely new game, based on the most recent spin-off game of Clue: Discover the Secrets. Additionally, EA's games site Pogo has a hidden-object game called "Cluedo: Secrets and Spies" (or "Clue" depending on market), where each game is a 60-minute "episode" (the object being to complete the game overall within this time limit). "Episodes" are usually grouped into "series" of two or more.

On the iWin website, there is a Hidden Object Game called "Clue: Accusations & Alibis."


Main article: Clue (film)

A comedic film Clue, based on the American version of the game, was released in 1985. In this version, the person murdered was Mr. Boddy. The film, which featured different endings released to different theatres, failed at the box office, but has subsequently attracted a cult following. All three endings released to theatres are available on the VHS and DVD versions of the film, to watch one after the other (VHS), or to select playing one or all three endings (DVD/Blu-ray).

In 2008, Universal Pictures reported that Hasbro, the makers of Cluedo, had licensed several of its board games to the film company for feature film adaptations; among these was Clue.[55] Gore Verbinski was announced as director.[56] The film was initially dropped.[57] In August 2016, The Tracking Board reports that Hasbro has landed at 20th Century Fox with Josh Feldman producing for Hasbro Studios and Ryan Jones serving as the executive producer while Daria Cercek is overseeing for Fox. The film will be a “worldwide mystery” with action-adventure elements, potentially setting up a possible franchise that could play well internationally.[58]


Game shows

There have been several television game shows based upon this game. To date, there have been four seasons of the British version of Cluedo (and a Christmas version that in fact shows some similarity to the North American movie), and there have been other versions in Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Portugal and Scandinavia. The format for each puts two teams (each usually containing one celebrity and one person with law enforcement/research experience) against six in-character actors as the famed colour-coded suspects. There is a new murder victim every episode, who usually has it coming to them for one reason or another. Each episode uses different weapons. In the Christmas episode in the UK the six original weapons were used.

TV series

Main article: Clue (miniseries)

On August 6, 2010, The Hub announced that an original five-part miniseries based on Clue was in pre-production. The miniseries premiered on November 14, 2011 and featured a youthful, ensemble cast loosely based on the characters of the board game, working together to unravel a mystery.[59][60][61] The short mini-series draws similarities to the original board game and mostly to the 2012 spin-off Clue: The Classic Mystery Game which both featured the characters belonging or having ties to secret societies/houses and fitting closely with the character descriptions.


The Clue title and theme were used in the 1986 US documentary Clue: Movies, Murders, and Mystery which took a look at mystery-related pieces of media including Murder on the Orient Express; Murder, She Wrote; Sherlock Holmes and other television series and movies, as well as a look at the board game itself. The one-hour special was hosted by Martin Mull, who had starred in the feature film adaptation the previous year; clips from the movie are seen intertwined with the footage.


Main article: Clue (musical)

A comedic musical of Clue, based on the American version of the game, ran Off Broadway in 1997, closing in 1999. At the start of each performance, three audience members each select one card from over-sized versions of the traditional game decks and place them in an envelope. The chosen cards determine the ending of the show, with 216 possible conclusions.


Penned by Robert Duncan with the cooperation of Waddingtons, the first official theatrical adaptation of Cluedo was presented by the amateur theatre group: The Thame Players in Oxfordshire in July 1985. The play was subsequently picked up by Hiss & Boo productions and began a successful tour of the UK. A second tour was undertaken in 1990. Like the musical, the play involved the audience's random selection of three solution cards which were revealed towards the end of the play, whereupon the actors would then conclude the play by performing one of the 216 endings possible. Presently the play is not available for performance due to a restriction by Hasbro, since Hasbro has been planning to make a new movie.[62] It is unclear whether the restriction applies to the musical as well.


Main article: Clue (book series)

A series of 18 humorous children's books/teen books were published in the United States by Scholastic Press between 1992 and 1997 based on the Clue concept and created by A.E. Parker. The books featured the US Clue characters in short, comedic vignettes and asked the reader to follow along and solve a crime at the end of each. The answers are printed Upside down with an explanation on the following page following each chapter to see if the reader was able to guess correctly or not. The crime would usually be the murder of another guest besides Mr. Boddy, a robbery of some sort, or a simple contest, in which case they must figure out who won. The tenth and final vignette would always be the murder of Mr. Boddy. Somehow, Mr. Boddy would always manage to cheat death, such as fainting before the shot was fired or being shot with trick bullets. However, at the end of the 18th book, Mrs. Peacock kills Mr. Boddy out of starvation and Mr. Boddy stays dead. The books feature mysterious-sounding titles such as "Midnight phone calls" "Footprints in the fog" or "The secret, secret passage".

These books are now out of print but can still be bought from various online retailers in both new and used conditions.

In 2003, Canadian mystery writer Vicki Cameron wrote a new set of mini-mysteries, called the Clue Mysteries books. The series is geared toward a more adult audience while still retaining some comic absurdity as did the 1990s series. Only two were published. Both books feature more complex storylines and vocabulary, as well as fifteen mysteries apiece. The first book contains the more modern looking clue game cover by Drew Struzan.[63]

Another book called "CLUE Code-Breaking Puzzles" was released in December 2008 written by Helene Hovanec. The book contains 60 mysteries.[64]

A similar series of books featuring the Clue Jr. characters was also published. The first book, unlike the others, features thirteen mysteries, not ten, and is titled simply enough Who Killed Mr Boddy?. The name of the book is usually the name of the tenth mystery in which Boddy is killed.

The books notably depart from the film. Mr Boddy is a trillionaire, and the guests are his friends. But since Boddy has his will made out to his friends, they each try to kill him at one point with the intent on cashing in on his will. The guests are all given some sort of defining characteristic for comic effect, as well as to help the reader discern the culprit. Colonel Mustard constantly challenges other guests to duels, Professor Plum often forgets things, even what he is doing or his own name, and Mr. Green is notoriously greedy. Mrs. Peacock is highly proper and will not stand for any lack of manners, the maid Mrs. White hates her employer and all the guests, and Miss Scarlet is beautiful and seductive. The traits all help the reader identify the guests. For example, if a mystery thief suddenly forgets what he is doing, and another guest scolds him for his bad manners, the reader can safely assume the two guests are Plum and Peacock. Mr. Boddy himself is ludicrously naive, to the point where he accepts any attempt to kill him as an accident or a misunderstanding (such as a dropped wrench flying all the way across the Mansion and hitting him in the head), and invites the guests back to the mansion. This explains why he never seeks any legal action against his "friends," and invited them back despite repeated attempts to kill him. However, after a few books, he wises up enough to be suspicious of them, but continues to invite them over against better judgement.

The Clue Jr. series originally had all six characters, but suddenly, some of the characters were taken out, leaving only four. The mysteries usually only included cases similar to the theft of a toy, but sometimes the cases were more serious. They are usually solved when the culprit traps himself in his own lies.

Jigsaw puzzles

A series of jigsaw puzzles (500 piece Clue/750 piece Cluedo/200 Jr. ed.), based on the game was introduced in 1991. The jigsaw puzzles presented detailed stories with a biography for each of the standard suspects. The object was to assemble the jigsaw puzzles and then deduce the solutions presented in the mystery stories from the clues provided within the completed pictures.


The following games are licensed thematic variations of the game, which follow the basic rules and configuration of the original Classic Detective Game or its spinoffs.

Cluedo: Discover the Secrets

On August 8, 2008, Hasbro redesigned and updated the board, characters, weapons, and rooms. Changes to the rules of game play were made, some to accommodate the new features.

The suspects have new given names and backgrounds, as well as differing abilities that may be used during the game. The revolver is now a pistol, the lead pipe and spanner/wrench have been removed, and a baseball bat, axe, dumbell, trophy, and poison have been added. The nine rooms have changed to (in clockwise order): Hall, Guest House, Dining Room, Kitchen, Patio, Spa, Theatre, Living Room, and Observatory.[103]

There is also a second deck of cards—the Intrigue cards. In this deck, there are two types of cards, Keepers and Clocks. Keepers are special abilities; for example, "You can see the card". There are eight clocks—the first seven drawn do nothing—whoever draws the eighth is killed by the murderer and out of the game.[104]

The player must move to the indoor swimming pool in the centre of the board to make an accusation. This adds some challenge versus the ability to make accusations from anywhere in the original game.

The most significant change to game play is that once the suspect cards have been taken, the remaining cards are dealt so that all players have an even number of cards (rather than dealt out so that "one player may have a slight advantage"). This means that depending on the number of players a number of cards are left over. These cards are placed face down in the middle and are not seen unless a player takes a turn in the pool room to look at them.

The changes to the game have been criticized in the media for unnecessarily altering classic cultural icons. The game has also been criticized by lovers of the original game.[8][105][106]

As of December 2012, Hasbro no longer sells the game via its website.[107]

Worldwide differences

Besides some rule differences listed above, some versions label differently the names of characters, weapons, rooms and in some instances the actual game itself.

In Canada and the U.S., the game is known as Clue. It was retitled because the traditional British board game Ludo, on which the name is based, was less well known there than its American variant Parcheesi.[108]

The North American versions of Clue also replace the character "Reverend Green" from the original Cluedo with "Mr. Green." This is the only region to continue to make such a change. Minor changes include "Miss Scarlett" with her name being spelt with one 't', the spanner being called a wrench, and the dagger renamed a knife. And until 2003, the lead piping was known as the lead pipe only in the North American edition.

In some international versions of the game (mostly the Spanish-language ones) the colours of some pieces are different, so as to correspond with the changes to each suspect's unique foreign name variations. In some cases, rooms and weapons are changed in addition to other regional variances.[109]

In South America it is licensed and sold under several different names. In particular, it is notably marketed as "Detective" in Brazil.

In Norway it was first released as Scotland Yard by Damm. It was later re-released as Cluedo, but the rules are the same.


The Clue and Cluedo brands are well-merchandised through umbrellas, books, toys, clothing and other miscellaneous items.

See also


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