Bumper Stumpers

Bumper Stumpers

Bumper Stumpers title card
Genre Game show
Created by Wink Martindale
Developed by Mark Maxwell-Smith
Directed by William G. Elliott
Presented by Al Dubois
Narrated by Ken Ryan
Composer(s) Ed Lojeski
Country of origin Canada
No. of seasons 3
Executive producer(s) Dan Enright
Wink Martindale
Producer(s) Doug Gahm
Location(s) Global Television Studios
Toronto, Ontario
Running time 2224 minutes
Production company(s) Global Television Network
Barry & Enright Productions
Wink Martindale Enterprises
USA Network
Distributor Sony Pictures Television
Original network Global Television Network
USA Network
Original release June 29, 1987 (1987-06-29) – December 28, 1990 (1990-12-28)

Bumper Stumpers is a Canadian game show in which two teams of two players attempted to decipher vanity license plates in an attempt to win money. The show was a joint production of Canada's Global Television Network and the United States' USA Network, the two networks that aired the series in first run, in association with Barry & Enright Productions and Wink Martindale Enterprises. This was one of three original series that USA and Global co-produced in the 1980s, with a 1985 revival of Jackpot[1] and 1986's The New Chain Reaction preceding it.

Bumper Stumpers premiered on June 29, 1987 and aired concurrently on Global and USA until December 28, 1990. It was created by Wink Martindale, the second creation of his to make air (Headline Chasers, which Martindale launched in syndication in 1985 in the United States with himself as host, was the first) and developed by Mark Maxwell-Smith. Al Dubois, who at the time was a weather forecaster for Global, hosted the show with Ken Ryan serving as the announcer. The show was taped in Toronto.

Reruns of the series were seen on Global in Canada from 1990 to 1995 and on Game Show Network in America in 1994-95 and 2000. Bumper Stumpers has aired on the Canadian network GameTV since October 1, 2012.

Main game

Bumper Stumpers featured two teams, one usually a returning champion pair. The teams' goal was to correctly solve the Super Stumper, a puzzle designed to resemble a vanity license plate that consisted of seven spaces. At the beginning of each game, host Dubois would tell the teams whom or what the plate belonged to, and the first space was revealed.

In order to begin filling in the spaces in the Super Stumper, the teams played a series of jump-in questions. Bumper Stumpers used a game board consisting of seven monitors, and each jump-in question used the top row of two monitors. The teams would be shown two plates, one of which belonged to someone or something, and had to guess which of the two was the correct plate. For instance, a plate belonging to swashbucklers would read "PYR88" with the solution being "pirates" while one belonging to Bill Cosby would read "IIPI" with the solution being the title of his television series I Spy; consecutive letters or numbers in a plate were usually treated as plurals, so the two numbers at the end of the first plate would read as "eights" and not "eighty-eight" while the first two letters in the second would not be pronounced "eye-eye". In another example, a plate belonging to a saboteur would read "VTHKOLM" but be pronounced "fifth column", with the V serving its purpose as the Roman numeral five, while a plate with "H2O" in it would belong to something having to do with water due to it being the chemical symbol.

Contestants could not buzz in until the jump-in was read or (later) a green indicator light was lit atop the game board. Once a contestant buzzed in, he/she had to choose a plate and if correct, his/her teammate was given ten seconds to decipher it. If the other member of the team could not decipher the plate, the opposing team received ten seconds to guess themselves. If the first teammate buzzed in and picked the wrong plate, the opponents received first guess. Originally, the player who buzzed in and correctly identified the plate to solve could decide to either let his/her partner play or challenge their opponents to solve the plate. That rule was dropped after far more contestants opted to play rather than pass.

The winners of the jump-in chose one of the remaining blank spaces to fill in on the Super Stumper, then were given five seconds to try to come up with the solution. Coming up with the solution won the game. If a team could not solve the Super Stumper after all seven spaces were revealed, the opposing team had one final chance to solve it. The first team to correctly solve two Super Stumpers became champion and won $1,000 with a chance to win more in the bonus round.

Originally, solving a Super Stumper won the team that did so $500 and the right to play the bonus round. If a Super Stumper went unsolved, a new one was played for $500 more and play continued until one of the teams solved one. The rules were later changed to have the bonus round played after a team won two games, and if the teams could not solve a Super Stumper a new one was played. The teams chose spaces one at a time, starting with the team that won the previous jump-in, and did so until one solved the Super Stumper.

Bonus round

This show had three bonus rounds throughout the run.

Bonus round #1

The first bonus round featured two separate rounds. The first half saw the players trying to identify up to seven plates within thirty seconds. Getting seven won $2,000 and ended the round immediately. As long as the team identified at least one plate, they moved on to the second half of the round dubbed the Final Stumper.

The Final Stumper was played with all seven of the game board's monitors, with the letters S-T-U-M-P-E-R displayed in them. The object was to bank a set amount of money without finding a stop sign, at which point the round ended. The Final Stumper was played two different ways.

Format #1

Hidden behind the seven monitors were various dollar amounts and stop signs. For each plate the team solved, a money amount was added to the board. The first amount added was $500, and depending on how many plates were solved up to five additional amounts would be added. $100 was added to the board first, $200 second, $300 third, $400 fourth, and an additional $500 space was added last.

The team could keep choosing as long as they kept revealing dollar amounts and could stop at any point. Revealing a stop sign ended the round and froze the team's winnings. If they managed to find at least $500, the money was doubled. A team could win a maximum of $1,800 in this portion of the round ($100, $300, $500 = $900, multiplied by two).

Format #2

In the second format, each solve placed a different set of spaces on the board. The first placed on the board was marked "WIN", and the next five were the money amounts mentioned above. Accumulating $1,000 or more or finding the "WIN" space augmented the team's total to $2,000. This time, finding a stop sign bankrupted the team and ended the round.

Bonus round #2

In the second bonus round, the team was given thirty seconds and up to five plates to solve. Solving four of the five was worth $200.

For the second half of the round, the team was given up to three additional plates to solve and could stop at any time with the money earned. If the team decided to play on, they were given seven seconds to study the plate. Coming up with a right answer doubled the money each time, with a team winning $1,600 if they solved all three. Failing to come up with a correct answer ended the round and cost the team their bank, and the round also ended if the team failed to get four plates in the first half of the round.

Bonus round #3

The third Bumper Stumpers bonus round consisted of a series of five plates connected to a subject, with each plate serving as a clue to the subject's identity.

This time, only one player from the winning team played the first half of the round. That player was given thirty seconds to decipher the plates, with $100 given for each. Unlike the previous bonus round formats, Dubois did not give out clues to the plates. After the time was up, the player was given a choice: either stop with whatever money he/she had accumulated, or risk it to see if the other player, isolated backstage, could come up with the owner of the plates. If the team took the risk and the second player was able to identify the subject, the team's winnings would be tripled. Thus, the maximum amount a team could win was $1,500.

Winning teams could stay on the show until defeated or winning five matches.

Tournament of Champions

During the show's final two weeks in December 1990, a "Tournament of Champions" was held, with 16 undefeated teams returning to compete. The winning team received an additional $10,000, while $5,000 was awarded to the runners-up.


  1. closing credits of a 1985 episode, airdate undetermined

External links

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