Why Do So Many Game Shows Have Blue Backgrounds?

Don’t Forget the Lyrics
Fox
‘Don’t Forget the Lyrics!’

Fox recently dropped a teaser for Don’t Forget the Lyrics!, the third iteration of the same game show to hit American television in the last 15 years. And like the first Fox version, the subsequent syndicated version, and so many other game shows, this Niecy Nash-fronted edition of Don’t Forget has a set illuminated in blue hues.

So, why do game shows stick to the ceruleans, cyans, and cobalts? Perhaps it’s because blue is “calming and neutral enough to not overpower other imagery” and “complementary to human skin tones,” NewscastStudio observes.

Whatever the reason, game shows have been singing the blues for more than two decades now. “The color of mental effort is electric blue — at least if we’re to believe the designers of television quiz shows,” The Independent columnist Thomas Sutcliffe wrote back in 2000. “Turn on Fifteen to One, The Weakest Link, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and you’ll see virtually the same color scheme and lighting setup — a raking, icy blue light that glares at the contestants and ricochets off the chrome and metal fittings.”

At least these sets have gotten less severe as of late — Sutcliffe also said game shows at the time had an ambiance that was “two parts gulag perimeter fence to one part police interrogation room.” But the blues have remained. See photographic proof with these images from recent game shows.

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Don’t Forget the Lyrics!, Premieres, Monday, May 23, 8/7c, Fox

The $100,000 Pyramid
Heidi Gutman/ABC

The $100,000 Pyramid

The Chase
Raymond Liu/ABC

The Chase

Cherries Wild
Fox/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Cherries Wild

The Cube
John Nowak/TBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

The Cube

I Can See Your Voice
Michael Becker/Fox/Courtesy: Everett Collection

I Can See Your Voice

Jeopardy!
Eric McCandless via Getty Images

Jeopardy!

Master Minds
Game Show Network/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Master Minds

Mental Samurai
Fox/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Mental Samurai

That’s My Jam
Eric McCandless via Getty Images

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To Tell the Truth
Christopher Willard/ABC

To Tell the Truth

The Wall
Justin Lubin/NBC

The Wall

Weakest Link

Weakest Link

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
John Flexor via Getty Images

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?