Cliff Hangers has a cardboard mountain climber who climbs up a mountain based on how far the contestant misses the price of a prize, and missing it by too much could lead the mountain climber to his doom.
- The centerpiece of Cliff Hangers is a game board with a stylized mountain slope (angled at about 45°) that has a scale which runs from 0 at its base to 25 at the peak, which ends at a cliff. At the start of the game, there is a mountain climber on the 0 mark at the base of the mountain.
- The contestant is shown a two-digit prize and asked to bid on it. If he/she bid the actual price, the mountain climber stays where he is. Otherwise, the climber moves up the mountain, advancing along the scale the number of dollars away the contestant's bid is from the actual price. To give an element of suspense to the game, the actual price is not revealed until after the climber has moved, so that the contestant and audience will not know how far he will travel. If the climber remains on the mountain, the contestant wins that small prize.
- The process is repeated for two more two-digit prizes, generally of increasing value. The climber continues from the point at which he stopped for the previous prize. If the climber goes over the cliff at any point, the game ends; however, the contestant keeps any small prizes won up to that point. If the contestant's bids are a total of $25 or less away from the actual prices of the 2-digit prizes at the end of the game, the contestant wins all three small prizes and a grand prize.
- Though not a car game by nature, it's one of the few "non-car" games played at minimum once a season for a car (the others are Range Game, Race Game, Push Over, Safe Crackers, Squeeze Play, and Double Prices).
- The game first premiered on April 12, 1976 (#1891D). Originally, four small prizes were offered; it was reduced to three on June 10, 1976 (#1974D). On its first playing, it was lost on the fourth and final prize.
- A yodeling song, which has become a cornerstone of the game, is played as the mountain climber moves up the mountain. The audience would oftenly clap along. The music currently used is part of a song called "On the Franches Mountains," which was originally drawn from a record album titled Swiss Mountain Music. The show has occasionally used the full song as prize music when trips to Switzerland and Holland are offered. Originally, the yodeling music used was a portion of "The Silly Song" from Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Until December 23, 1986 (#6312D), the game used a crashing sound that was also used in Hurdles for when the climber fell. On the January 21, 1993 (#8664D) episode, as the mountain climber fell, the One Away horn was accidentally played at first instead of the crashing sound, but then seconds later, the crashing sound was played; Bob remarked, "That was quite a drop; I was going on before he hit bottom! He's in bad shape; oh, no, don't--we don't want to see him." There have been other instances where the game has had some minor humorous malfunctions (the mountain climber stopping at the wrong place, moving backwards, stopping and starting again). Bob usually claimed that the mountain climber had been drinking, when these occured. For instance, on September 3, 1981 (#4164D), the mountain climber fell off the cliff yet Carol Spriggs still won the game as she missed the price of the final prize by $1 after the mountain climber was on step 24, in which Roger Dobkowitz backstage came on camera to explain what went wrong; and on the third $1,000,000 Spectacular on February 19, 2003 (#009SP, aired out of order on February 12), the motor failed for the first time, and the only time to date; and so Dave Price backstage turned the crank to operate it manually.
- On May 10, 2001, a weatherman of FOX-5 in Phoenix, AZ, named Mike Woods played Cliff Hangers for a $3,548 living room group. Unfortunately, he lost the game, on the third prize, leading Bob to quip "Into every weatherman's life, some rain must fall.". Mike made a comeback though, going on to win the Showcase Showdown and his Showcase.
- On the June 17, 2013 (#6401K) Wedding Shower episode, a trip to Aruba for 22 people worth $47,017 was offered and won.
- On the September 24, 2013 (#6422K, aired out of order on October 16, originally rescheduled to air on October 15), and October 28, 2016 episodes, as part of "Big Money Week", Cliff Hangers was played under special rules that let the contestant play for up to $250,000. Rather than playing for one large prize, as usual, the contestant would get $10,000 for each space on the board left at the end of the game, which meant that if the contestant had gotten all three prizes exactly right, they would have won $250,000; this would explain why the climber began on Step 1 instead of Step 0. In the playing on the show, contestant Kyle Corral missed the three prizes by a total of $22, meaning he walked away with $30,000.
- On October 24, 2013 (#6464K, aired out of order on October 10), a contestant named Eriq Draper won a $20,000 bonus for being the first person on stage to win their pricing game during PCH week. It was played in the first slot.
- On the 43rd Season Premiere (September 22, 2014, #6811K), a mountain climber replica was offered to contestant Curtis Braswell.
- On February 13, 2015 (#7005K), the bachelor and bachelorette parties to Mexico worth $39,000 were offered but were lost.
- Cliff Hangers was played perfectly three times. (February 20, 1996, #9862D, Mar. 27, 2001, #1752K, & Jun. 4, 2002, #2202K)
- Cliff Hangers was played 6 times on the Primetime version of the show. On top of that, they were all won.
- On the August 11, 2015 (#7202K, aired out of order on August 10) Summer Beach Party special, where it was decorated for the Balance Game, a large version of the mountain climber dressed up in summer gear and on a surfboard was featured.
- On the March 25, 2016 (#7465K) College Rivals episode, Megan MacKelvie of Arizona State won an $18,245 Kia Soul, while Scott Buscemi of University of Arizona was denied.
- On the April Fool's Day 2016 (#7475K) show, as a joke, it was called the "Yodely Guy" game and its said mountain climber was facing backward.
- On April 12, 2016 (#7492K) the show celebrated the game's 40th anniversary with a 40th Anniversary Cliffhangers Special show. On that day, it was not played 6 times, just like the Plinko special, but it was played on the third slot.
- On May 9, 2016, the game was featured on Let's Make a Deal as part of a mashup between both shows. The contestant who played won golf clubs. (The May 9, 2016, #7531K, Price episode featured Car Pong from LMAD.)
- On June 22, 2016 (#7593K), Salvatore Salamone was off by only $3, all on the second prize. He got help from his wife, Karen, in the audience.
- On October 28, 2016 (#7665K), during Big Money Week when the top prize was $250,000, history was made, when contestant Christen Freeman managed to win $210,000, by winning on the 4th step. As a result, she became the biggest daytime winner on The Price Is Right, since Sheree Heil won $170,345 on December 31, 2013 (aired out of order on December 30). Unlike 2013's Big Money Week, the step numbers were replaced with dollar amounts descending from $250,000 to $10,000. Whatever step the climber was on at the end of the game was what the contestant won (as mentioned).
- On January 4, 2017 (#7753K) during Publishers Clearing House week, contestant Yaakov Kessler won a $20,000 bonus for being the first contestant to win a pricing game. It was played in the first slot.
- On the Summer Beach Party special aired June 20, 2017 (#7992K), Cliff Hangers was renamed Cliff Surfers.
- On February 21, 2018 (#8223K, aired out of order on February 19), during Big Money Week when the top prize this time was $20,000, when contestant Sean O'Leary managed to win by winning on the 13th step. The dollar amounts were replaced with normal step numbers.
Bidding Way Too MuchEdit
- There have been occasions where the contestant has given an obviously off bid on the first price, and Bob humorously dealt with it. On September 14, 1992, (#8491D, the 21st season premiere), a contestant named Clint bid $350 on a $25 Gitano watch. Bob, knowing what was about to happen, had Clint sit on the set with him, as they waited for the mountain climber to climb and fall. On June 12, 1996 (#0033K), another contestant named Eric bid $850 on a $23 deluxe guitar (he was originally going to bid $2,000 and later to $450). Bob, on that occasion started to ask for the price before the mountain climber started climbing, and then told the mountain climber to hurry up and fall, so they could move on.
Belting Out the TuneEdit
- On the February 24, 2000 (#1374K) episode, a contestant named Walter Hershey yodeled the song. After missing the first prize, the regular music played for a few seconds, at which point Walter started yodeling. He went on to yodel after missing the last two prizes, and stopped when he noticed the climber wasn't stopping. As soon as the climber fell off, he mimicked the climber and fell to the floor to laughter and applause.
- On the September 22, 2006 episode (#3685K, the final day of the Season 35 premiere week), a contestant named Mary Leticia also yodeled the song. Instead of their own regular Yodeling background music, she went on to yodel after missing all three prizes, and stopped at the top.
- The popularity of the game has led to a life-size cut-out of the mountain climber used in some Showcases and One Bids in Season 37. The yodeling music was also used during contestant Dee Ronn Booker's Showcase Showdown spin on the April 1, 2009 (#4693K) episode.
- During #UDecide Week, Rachel was given the opportunity to yodel the song as according to the results. As a result, the regular mountain climber was replaced with a cut-out version of Rachel (which she refers to as her "long lost sister").
- The 3 items that are being used get arranged from the least expensive all the way to the most expensive.
- The most number of times this game was played in any season was 41.
Special Mountain Climber LooksEdit
- In the Halloween 2009 (October 30, 2009, #4885K) show, Drew Carey dressed up as the mountain climber.
- On June 7, 2013 (#6385K), the mountain climber got dressed in a mortarboard and gown for the Graduation Special.
- On June 17, 2013 (#6401K), the mountain climber was dressed as a groom for a wedding shower show.
- On October 31, 2013 (#6474K), the mountain climber was dressed as the grim reaper in honor of Halloween.
- On March 3, 2014 (#6641K), the mountain climber was dressed up in a onesie for a baby shower show.
- On March 17, 2014 (#6661K), the mountain climber was dressed in green for St. Patrick's Day.
- On May 22, 2013 (#6363K, aired out of order on May 24) & June 6, 2014 (#6775K, aired out of order on May 16, originally rescheduled to air on June 13), the mountain climber got a firefighter suit, to salute firefighters.
- On February 13, 2015 (#7005K), the mountain climber was dressed in a tuxedo for Valentine's Day.
- On February 18, 2015 (#7013K), the mountain climber was Rachel Reynolds, who at first was covered up by a rock. Rachel herself provided the yodeling.
- On the 2015 4th of July Special on July 6, 2015 (#7201K, aired out of order on July 3), the mountain climber was dressed up as George Washington on a boat.
- As mentioned above, the April Fool's Day 2016 (#7492K) episode had the mountain climber facing backwards.
- On the April 12, 2016 (#7492K) the pricing game's 40th Anniversary Special, the mountain climber held a yellow balloon that had the number 40 on it.
- On The Amazing Race primetime special aired on May 25, 2016 (#036SP), the mountain climber wore a backpack.
- On November 23, 2016 (#7703K), the mountain climber wore a chef's uniform. This led to a bit of embarassment -- his hat was too tall, and thus it hung up at the top of mountain (contestant Madelyn Brady had guessed $99 for a $26 prize), and Drew Carey had to push him over the edge.
- On June 20, 2017 (#7992K), during the Summer Beach Party episode, the game was called "Cliff Surfers" and the mountain climber was modified to riding a surfboard and losing his shoes, lederhosen, hat and pickaxe. And surf music was played, instead of the traditional "On the Franches Mountains" music.
The Climber's NameEdit
Officially, the mountain climber has no name, although several hosts have used their own names for him:
- Bob Barker/Tom Kennedy – Never have referred to the climber by a name, only the mountain climber. No host of any of the UK or Italian versions referred to the mountain climber by a name, either.
- Doug Davidson – On The New Price Is Right he called the climber "Hans Gudegast", which is the birth name of his Young and Restless co-star Eric Braeden. When Cliff Hangers was lost on this version, Doug would often joke that "Hans was being rushed to Genoa City Memorial (Hospital)."
- Drew Carey – Has noted that the climber does not have an official name. He has referred to him by "Hans" (as did Davidson), "Yodel Man", and most frequently "Yodely Guy".
- Dennis James – When the game was first played in mid-1976, Dennis once referred to the climber as "Fritz", not knowing of model Janice Pennington's first husband Fritz Stammberger, who had disappeared in what was presumed at the time to be a mountain-climbing accident shortly before the debut. After the climber fell off the cliff, Dennis said, "There goes Fritz!" This upset Janice so much that she remained backstage crying for the rest of the episode. Because of this incident, it was speculated that it led to Dennis ultimately being dismissed from his hosting duties (with Barker taking over until it's cancellation in 1980) and also as to why Janice was never present onstage with the game, modeling the 3 small prizes, with the exception of one time in November 1993.
- Larry Emdur (Australian version): Called the mountain climber "Cliff". "Cliff" is accompanied by a St. Bernard named "Spot". When the game was lost, only Cliff fell, leaving Spot on the mountain. The camera also shakes to indicate a "crash" effect when Cliff falls.
- Marco Antonio Regil (Mexico): Called the climber "Pancho".
- Carlo Boszhard (The Netherlands): Called the climber "Malcolm".
- Harry Wijnvoord (Germany): Called the climber "Hoeffel".
- Wayne Brady: Called the mountain climber "Sven" on the May 9, 2016, mash-up episode, when Cliff Hangers was played on Let's Make a Deal. Surprisingly, on the October 12, 2016 episode, when the mountain climber came back for a brief appearance on the show, during "1 for 30 Week", the name "Sven" was never mentioned. And Wayne was told what the mountain climber was originally called, currently.
- The Price Is Right Live! – The name "Johann" was occasionally used.
- Cliffhangers usually has the same format worldwide, but on Germany's Der Preis ist heiß, the prizes each had a range attached to them, and the contestant had to bid within that range for it to count. Also, on Mexico's Atinale al Precio, the game was played using grocery items.
- In Finland, the climber goes leftward rather than rightward, but otherwise, the game is the same.
- On all UK versions, also in the Doug Davidson version in the US, the prizes are announced one-at-a-time (similar to the car plugs in Triple Play); therefore, if the mountain climber falls before whatever prizes are left, no plug is read for those.
- Most, if not all, versions of Cliff Hangers outside of the US, have the mountain climber screaming when he is falling.
- Other versions of the game are referred to as follows:
- United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Finland - "Cliffhanger" (no S)
- Australia - same as the US
- Mexico - "La Montana Sinestra" (The Sinister Mountain)
- Germany - "Absturz" (Crash)
- France and Quebec - "Le Tyrolien" (The Tyrolean [?])
- Italy - "La Scogliera" (The Cliff)
- Portugal - "Precipicio" (Price Peak)
- Indonesia - "Zarasambhalke" (Tread Carefully)
- Thailand - "ยิ่งสูงยิ่งเสียว (Ying Soong Ying Seaw)" (The Higher it is, the more Thrilling it is)