- The contestant is shown two small prizes, one at a time, each with a three-digit number displayed. The contestant must decide whether the first two digits or the last two digits (eg: $46 or $68 if 468 was displayed) are the correct price. A correct choice wins the prize and a choice of one of five keys. If the contestant fails to win any keys, which is getting neither of the two correct, the game immediately ends. The first time this happened was on June 9, 1992 (#8472D). Most recently, it happened on February 24, 2020. Each of the five keys has a different effect on three locks which represent a car and two other prizes in the game. There is one key for each of the three locks, one "dud" or "blank" key that opens nothing and one "master key" that opens all three locks.
- The contestant inserts their chosen key into each of the locks, one at a time, to see which lock it opens, if any. The contestant wins the prizes represented by any locks that are opened.
- The only way to win all three prizes in Master Key is to choose the master key. If a contestant has the master key, it will be obvious after it opens more than one lock. If a key opens the first lock, the contestant will usually be told to skip right to the third lock for the car to add to the excitement if the lock opens. The game can end on a somewhat anticlimatic note if the first key opens only the car; if this happens, the host finishes the game by checking to see what the second key might open, but this usually happens in the background as the contestant celebrates.
- The game debuted on March 25, 1983 (#4855D) and got its first win with only one key, the master key.
- The red backing behind the Master Key sign, with the top resembling a city skyline, was removed on September 29, 2009 (#4842K) to keep it from running into the new Door #5 structure.
- The Master Key sign was also absent on December 21, 1984 (#5535D) due to an abundance of Christmas decorations on the turntable.
- In a mid-80s playing, a key got stuck in the lock. Bob Barker attempted to resolve this with a karate kick, but he wound up breaking the key in half.
- The lock mechanism for one prize malfunctioned on February 15, 2002 (#2075K). This time, Bob slammed the key against the lock, causing its "P" emblem to fall off.
- The presentation of the prizes was also changed. Prior to May 7, 2013 (#6342K), all three prizes were revealed behind Door #2, with the two smaller prizes on each side of the car. A platform was later added for the car. On October 15, 2013 (#6452K, aired out of order on October 22), the current prize reveal debuted, with the first two prizes in front of Door #2 and the car revealed behind Door #2 afterward.
- For a brief period in Drew's era, Drew would ask the contestant to choose a key by number. Later, he went back to the old way by letting the contestant take a key.
- On November 9, 2015 (#7281K), in a rare move, Master Key was played for a cash prize of $2,500 as the second prize.
- On May 12, 2016, Master Key was featured on Let's Make a Deal as part of a mash-up between both shows (The May 12, 2016, #7534K, episode of Price featured Accelerator from LMAD.).
- On February 19, 2018 (#8221K, aired out of order on February 22), during Big Money Week, Master Key was played for $50,000, with the first lock for $5,000, the second lock for $15,000 and the third lock for $30,000. Only the $5,000 was won.
Behind the scenes and TriviaEdit
- The "unlocking" mechanism for the prizes is controlled by the position of magnets in the keys. The three single-prize keys have one magnet each, all in different spots; the master key has magnets in all three spots; and the "dud" key has no magnets.
- As in Rat Race, Any Number, and Switcheroo, the contestant only needs to win the car (not necessarily all three prizes) for the game to be officially counted as won. A win of only one or two of the smaller prizes is considered a "partial win" as far as affecting perfect or winless shows.
- If the contestant has won two keys, the process is repeated with the second key, unless the first was the master key and all three locks are already open. Of course, winning two keys guarantees winning at least one prize.
- The most number of times this game was played in any season was 17.
- Among all the games where it is not necessary to know the price of any of the main prizes, Master Key and Rat Race are the only two games that do not reveal the ARP of their prize package.
- Then executive producer Frank Wayne created Master Key.
- In the Barker era, when Master Key is the first pricing game of the day, the keys were setup during the pricing portion of the show. This does not require an audience entrance as Bob still used his regular entrance.
- On the UK Leslie Crowther version, Master Key was played basically the same, but used a smaller setup and true keys and locks. Initially two sets of five hooks were used, with the one on the left carrying the keys; later on, it only used the set of hooks carrying the keys. On the Bruce Forsyth version, a free key was offered.
- On the Vietnamese version, the game was titled "Chìa Khóa Vàng" (The Golden Key). The game was similar to the US version, expect grocery items were used.
Premiere Playing (March 25, 1983, #4855D)Edit
Master Key Without the Sign (December 21, 1984, #5535D)Edit
From Rod Roddy's First Episode as Announcer (February 17, 1986 #6001D)Edit
Master Key for a Dodge Shadow 3-Door (October 30, 1987, #6625D)Edit
Master Key for a Toyota Tercel (June 28, 1988, #6932D)Edit
First Master Key Wipeout (June 9, 1992, #8472D)Edit
Master Key for a Plymouth Sundance Duster (November 15, 1993, #8971D)Edit
Master Key for a Dodge Shadow 5-Door Liftback (January 5, 1994, #9023D)Edit
Master Key for a Dodge Colt (February 3, 1994, #9064D)Edit
Only Master Key Car Win in Season 29 (October 17, 2000, #1542K)Edit
Christopher's Super Heartbreaking Loss (February 2, 2001, #1685K)Edit
Master Key for a Saturn SC2 (May 23, 2001, #1823K)Edit
A Blooper in Master Key (February 15, 2002, #2075K)Edit
From October 31, 2005 (#3391K)Edit
Last Master Key Wipeout With Bob Barker (February 7, 2006, #3522K)Edit
Final Playing With Bob Barker (May 1, 2007, #3972K)Edit
Master Key for a Pontiac G6 (March 11, 2009, #4663K)Edit
Master Key for a Hyundai Accent GS 3-Door Hatchback (May 28, 2010, #5185K)Edit
Master Key for a Chevrolet Aveo5 in the Carey Era (September 27, 2010, #5241K)Edit
Master Key for a Honda CR-V EX-L (March 10, 2011, #5474K)Edit
Only Master Key Car Win in Season 40 (January 25, 2012, #5813K)Edit
Master Key for a 1955 Ford F-100 (March 29, 2012, #5904K)Edit
Only Master Key Car Win in Season 41 (May 7, 2013, #6342K)Edit
Kelly's Master Key Perfection (June 5, 2014, #6774K, aired out of order on June 12)Edit
Master Key for a $24,630 Nissan Frontier SV King Cab (March 24, 2015, #7062K)Edit
Master Key with $2,500 Cash as a Second Prize (November 9, 2015, #7281K)Edit
Master Key for a Fiat 500 Sport (January 19, 2016, #7372K, aired out of order on January 26)Edit
Master Key for a $21,400 Chevrolet Cruze LT (September 28, 2016, #7623K)Edit
Master Key for $50,000 (February 19, 2018, #8221K, aired out of order on February 22)Edit
Grace's Perfect Playing with Cash Equivalent Win (October 11, 2018, #8444K, aired our of order on October 8)Edit
First Playing of 2019 (March 4, 2019, #8651K, aired out of order on February 25)Edit
Brian's Epic Master Key Win (April 22, 2019, #8721K, aired out of order on April 15)Edit
A Master Key Win With Melissa's Winnings Added to the Showcase Jackpot (October 18, 2019, #8855K, aired out of order on October 16)Edit
Jasper's Bad Luck Loss (December 11, 2019, #8933K)Edit
Gabrielle's Master Key Wipeout (January 14, 2020, #8982K)Edit
Kevin's Master Key Wipeout (February 24, 2020, #9041K)Edit
Premiere Playing (March 25, 1983, #4855D)
A Playing from 1987
A Wipeout from 1992 (June 9, 1992, #8472D)
A Playing from 2001
A Funny Playing from 2002 (February 15, 2002, #2065K)
A Win from 2005 (October 31, 2005, #3391K)
A Playing from 2009
A Playing from 2010
Only Win from 2013 (May 7, 2013, #6342K)
A Car Win from 2014 (January 2, 2014, #6554K, aired out of order on July 2, originally rescheduled to air on June 26, then to June 30)
A Wipeout from Season 42 (March 5, 2014, #6643K)
A Win from 2014 (June 5, 2014, #6774K, aired out of order on June 12)
Another Win from 2014 (#6875K, November 7, 2014)
A Wipeout from 2015 (January 8, 2015, #6954K)
A Win from 2015 (November 9, 2015, #7281K)
A Dismissal Playing from 2019 (April 4, 2019, #8694K, aired out of order on March 28)
An Early Exit from 2020 (January 14, 2020, #8982K)