Figure It Out

This article is about the game show. For other uses, see Figure It Out (disambiguation).
Figure It Out
Created by Kevin Kay
Magda Liolis
Presented by Summer Sanders (1997–1999)
Jeff Sutphen (2012–13)
Narrated by Jeffery "J" Dumas (1997–1999)
J's Mom (some Family Style episodes)
Elle Young (2012–13)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 218
Location(s) Nickelodeon Studios, Universal Studios
Orlando, Florida (1997–1999)
Paramount Studios
Los Angeles, California (2012–13)
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s) Nickelodeon Productions
Distributor Viacom International
Original network Nickelodeon
Picture format 480i (SDTV) (Seasons 1–4)
1080i (HDTV) (Seasons 5–6)
Original release Original series
July 7, 1997 (1997-07-07) – December 12, 1999 (1999-12-12), reruns aired until January 12, 2000 (2000-01-12)
Revived series
June 11, 2012 – July 16, 2013

Figure It Out is an American children's panel game show that airs on Nickelodeon. The original series, hosted by Summer Sanders, ran for four seasons from July 7, 1997 to December 12, 1999. After the last episode aired, the show went into reruns until January 12, 2000. The show, then hosted by Jeff Sutphen, was revived in 2012,[1] and aired from June 11, 2012 to July 16, 2013. The series was originally recorded at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The revival episodes were filmed on stage 19 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.[2]

Children with special skills or unique achievements compete as contestants on the show while a panel of four Nickelodeon celebrities try to guess the predetermined phrase that describes the contestant's talent. The series is a loose adaptation of What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret, both established panel shows 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 (2009 on Dish Network). Several episodes of the Sanders-hosted series have also aired as part of The '90s Are All That, a 1990s-oriented rerun block that airs on TeenNick, in 2012.

In 2013, Sutphen confirmed via Twitter that no new episodes of the revival of Figure It Out will be produced.[3]


Each episode has two sets of three timed rounds (originally all 60 seconds in length; currently, rounds two and three are played for 45 seconds), in which the panel takes 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 a game board displaying the puzzle. This game board was referred to as Billy the Answer Head during the original series run and is known simply as the "It" Board in the show's current adaptation.

This game board shows which words of the phrase are guessed, along with blanks denoting words that the panel didn't solve. Prepositions and articles, such as "of" and "an," are provided automatically. During the very early episodes of the show, synonyms of words that were on the board were accepted by the judges (e.g.: A panelist revealing the word "song" by saying the word "carol" and another episode featured a panelist revealing the word "tossing" by saying the word "throw"). This was later changed to a panelist having to say the exact word in a contestant's talent in order for that word to be revealed on the board.

The contestant wins a prize after each round that their talent remains unguessed. The prize for winning the third round is a trip. In Season 1, prizes consisted mainly of leftover props from then-defunct Nickelodeon shows such as Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple and Global Guts. Merchandise prizes (such as a Nintendo 64) and gift cards for stores including Kids Foot Locker, Toys 'R' Us, and Loew's began to appear as prizes during later seasons. If Round 3 ends with at least one word left unrevealed, each panelist takes one final guess as to what the contestant's talent is (any correct words given during the final guess are revealed, as during the game). The game ends 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 usually takes the form of physical objects such as dates to indicate a clue about calendars sounds (rarely used), the clue-cano (seasons 4-6), featured messy clues erupting out of the clue boxes all over the panel, making them just as messy as a sliming, especially in the Sutphen era which made the panel cautious when opening the clue boxes) or pantomime (the "Charade Brigade" (Season 1-4), "Clue Force 3" (Seasons 5-6), usually two or three cast members that act out a word from the phrase during Round 3) with "Clue Force 3" pictionary was sometimes used instead of pantomime.

At the end of the game, after the secret talent is revealed, the contestant demonstrates or displays their skill and discusses it with the host and panel.

Secret Slime Action

In each game, from the start of round 2, a randomly selected member of the studio audience plays for a prize (a merchandise prize, such as a Nintendo 64 or a mountain bike in season 1 or a Figure It Out-branded article of clothing in seasons 2-6). If at least one or more panelists perform the action, those panelists will be slimed by the end of round 3 especially when one of the panelist tries to break the rules and get a second chance (during season 1, the secret slime action could be triggered anytime after the end of round 1, including between rounds and when the contestant is performing their secret).

The action designated as the Secret Slime Action is 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," which panelist Danny Tamberelli was notable for saying at the top of his lungs on this show, having a certain name and even being a panelist were all used as actions. For example, Steve Burns (from Blue's Clues) was slimed because the Secret Slime Action was "having a blue dog," Alex Heartman (from Power Rangers Samurai) was slimed because the Secret Slime Action was "wearing a red unitard to work" and Jade Ramsey (from House of Anubis) was slimed because the Secret Slime Action was "having an identical twin sister." Despite this, and contrary to popular belief, the Secret Slime Action was not always performed in the original series. In the new version, Secret Slime Actions are almost impossible to miss and so far, there has not been a single show in which it was not performed during both halves of gameplay. In episode 14 of season six, however, there was finally an instance where it was not performed. The Secret Slime Action in that episode was "saying 'wait'" for the first segment.

Some Actions are logically not able to be forced, such as "thinking about coconuts" or "thinking about mushroom soup." Especially in the latter seasons, a successful Action has mostly been a foregone conclusion the variables have only been when it will be triggered, and by whom (not necessarily a panelist).

When the Secret Slime Action is triggered, all play stops (including the clock) while the panelist is slimed and the action revealed, after which gameplay resumes. The host knows of the action and sometimes tricks the 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).

Word of Honor

In the 2012 revival, prior to each game, one word of either the first or second contestant's secrets may be designated as the "Word of Honor." Should the panel guess this word, the contestant is slimed.[4] As the contestant is slimed, gameplay and the clock are paused. If the Word of Honor was unguessed, it would be out of play for the rest of the show (e.g. if it was unguessed in game 1, it would not carry over to game 2). The Word of Honor is also shown on a green background instead of the white background. Also, if a player got slimed by the Word of Honor, Elle would tell the player that they got slimed when she recaps the prizes that player won. One notable occurrence of the Word of Honor in season 5 featured the contestant running off the set when the word was guessed, resulting in Jeff having to chase him off set to bring him back and held him down to ensure he got slimed.


Either three or all four panelists are taken from Nickelodeon shows airing at the time. Regulars during the original run included All That cast members Amanda Bynes, Lori Beth Denberg (who left after Season 4), Kevin Kopelow and Danny Tamberelli (who also starred in the Nickelodeon program The Adventures of Pete & Pete). Kevin and Danny were both notorious for frequently asking silly questions and making goofy guesses, although they both could play more seriously and made correct guesses at times. Lori Beth was almost always the most serious panelist on the team, with the most well-thought out questions and guesses, and she frequently was the one to correctly guess the contestant's talent during the final guess portion of the game.

The first seat on the panel was usually reserved for an adult panelist, either an adult actor from a Nickelodeon program (usually Kevin Kopelow of All That) or a non-Nickelodeon celebrity (such as Taran Noah Smith of Home Improvement). In several episodes, Cat and Dog from CatDog, rendered in CGI, and Cousin Skeeter, a puppet character, were panelists, but never at the same time. In Seasons 5 and 6, the first seat was not reserved for an adult, but Matt Bennett from Victorious and Ciara Bravo regularly appeared in the first position.

List of panelists


The first seat on the panel was usually reserved for an adult panelist, either an adult actor from a Nickelodeon program (usually Kevin Kopelow of All That) or a non-Nickelodeon celebrity (such as Taran Noah Smith of Home Improvement). In several episodes, Cat and Dog from CatDog, rendered in CGI, and Cousin Skeeter, a puppet character, were panelists, but never at the same time. In Seasons 5 and 6, the first seat was not reserved for an adult, but Matt Bennett from Victorious and Ciara Bravo regularly appeared in the first position. Other guest panelists included Coolio, Mike O'Malley (host of Nick's Get the Picture and GUTS from 1991–95), Colin Mochrie (regular on Whose Line Is It Anyway?), and professional wrestlers Chris Jericho, The Giant and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.


Format changes

1997-1999 logo.

Famous contestants

On April 7, 1998, future country music singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes was a contestant on Figure It Out when he was six years old. His talent was playing the accordion and singing.[5]

Sam Roberts, host of After Opie and Anthony Live on Sirius/XM appeared on an episode in Season 2. His talent was flipping quarters off of his ankle.

Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays was a prize winner in Episode 13 of Season 1.[6]

See also


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