Television game shows descended from similar programs on radio. The very first television game show, Spelling Bee, was broadcast in 1938. Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on commercially licensed television; its first episode aired in 1941 as an experimental broadcast. Over the course of the 1950s, as television began to pervade the popular culture, game shows quickly became a fixture. Daytime game shows would be played for lower stakes to target stay-at-home housewives. Higher-stakes programs would air in primetime. During the late 1950s, high-stakes games such as Twenty One and The $64,000 Question began a rapid rise in popularity. However, the rise of quiz shows proved to be short-lived. In 1959, many of the higher stakes game shows were discovered to be rigged and ratings declines led to most of the primetime games being canceled.
Game shows remained a fixture of US daytime television through the 1960s after the quiz show scandals. Lower-stakes games made a slight comeback in daytime in the early 1960s; examples include Jeopardy! which began in 1964 and the original version of The Match Game first aired in 1962. Let's Make a Deal began in 1963 and the 1960s also marked the debut of Hollywood Squares, Password, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game.
Though CBS gave up on daytime game shows in 1968, the other networks did not follow suit. Color television was introduced to the game show genre in the late 1960s on all three networks. The 1970s saw a renaissance of the game show as new games and massive upgrades to existing games made debuts on the major networks. The New Price Is Right, an update of the 1950s-era game show The Price Is Right, debuted in 1972 and marked CBS's return to the game show format in its effort to draw wealthier, suburban viewers. The Match Game became "Big Money" Match Game 73, which proved popular enough to prompt a spin-off, Family Feud, on ABC in 1976. The $10,000 Pyramid and its numerous higher-stakes derivatives also debuted in 1973, while the 1970s also saw the return of formerly disgraced producer and host Jack Barry, who debuted The Joker's Wild and a clean version of the previously rigged Tic-Tac-Dough in the 1970s. Wheel of Fortune debuted on NBC in 1975. The Prime Time Access Rule, which took effect in 1971, barred networks from broadcasting in the 7-8 p.m. time slot immediately preceding prime time, opening up time slots for syndicated programming. Most of the syndicated programs were "nighttime" adaptations of network daytime game shows. These game shows originally aired once a week, but by the late 1970s and early 1980s most of the games had transitioned to five days a week.