Trivial Pursuit
Trivial Pursuit is a board game
Board game
A board game is a game which involves counters or pieces being moved on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules. Games may be based on pure strategy, chance or a mixture of the two, and usually have a goal which a player aims to achieve...

 in which progress is determined by a player's ability to answer general knowledge
The trivia are the three lower Artes Liberales, i.e. grammar, rhetoric and logic. These were the topics of basic education, foundational to the quadrivia of higher education, and hence the material of basic education, of interest only to undergraduates...

 and popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 questions. The game was created in 1979 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, by Canadian Chris Haney
Chris Haney (Trivial Pursuit)
Chris Haney was a Canadian journalist and co-creator of the Trivial Pursuit board game with Scott Abbott.-Early Life:...

, a photo editor for Montreal's The Gazette
The Gazette (Montreal)
The Gazette, often called the Montreal Gazette to avoid ambiguity, is the only English-language daily newspaper published in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with three other daily English newspapers all having shut down at different times during the second half of the 20th century.-History:In 1778,...

and Scott Abbott
Scott Abbott
Charles Scott Abbott is the co-inventor of Trivial Pursuit along with Chris Haney.Known as "Scott," he was the owner of the Brampton Battalion hockey team, of the Ontario Hockey League...

, a sports editor for The Canadian Press. After finding pieces of their Scrabble
Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a game board marked with a 15-by-15 grid. The words are formed across and down in crossword fashion and must appear in a standard dictionary. Official reference works provide a list...

game missing, they decided to create their own game. With the help of John Haney and Ed Werner, they completed development of the game, which was released in 1982.

In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, the game's popularity peaked in 1984, a year in which over 20 million games were sold. The rights to the game were initially licensed to Selchow and Righter
Selchow and Righter
Selchow and Righter was a 19th century Bay Shore, New York game manufacturer best known for the games Parcheesi and Scrabble.It dates back to 1867when it was founded as E.G. Selchow & Co...

 in 1982, then to Parker Brothers
Parker Brothers
Parker Brothers is a toy and game manufacturer and brand. Since 1883, the company has published more than 1,800 games; among their best known products are Monopoly, Cluedo , Sorry, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Ouija, Aggravation, and Probe...

 (now part of Hasbro
Hasbro is a multinational toy and boardgame company from the United States of America. It is one of the largest toy makers in the world. The corporate headquarters is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States...

) in 1988, after initially being turned down by the Virgin Group
Virgin Group
Virgin Group Limited is a British branded venture capital conglomerate organisation founded by business tycoon Richard Branson. The core business areas are travel, entertainment and lifestyle. Virgin Group's date of incorporation is listed as 1989 by Companies House, who class it as a holding...

; in 2008, Hasbro bought out the rights in full, for US$80 million. , nearly 88 million games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages. Northern Plastics of Elroy, Wisconsin
Elroy, Wisconsin
Elroy is a city in Juneau County, Wisconsin, United States, along the Baraboo River and at the east end of the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail. The population was 1,578 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Elroy is located at ....

 produced 30,000,000 games between 1983 and 1985. An online version of Trivial Pursuit was launched in September, 2003.

Dozens of question sets have been released for the game. The question cards are organized into themes; for instance, in the standard Genus question set, questions in green deal with science and nature. Some question sets have been designed for younger players, and others for a specific time period or as promotion
Promotion (marketing)
Promotion is one of the four elements of marketing mix . It is the communication link between sellers and buyers for the purpose of influencing, informing, or persuading a potential buyer's purchasing decision....

al tie-ins (such as Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

, Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

, and The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...



The object of the game is to move around the board by correctly answering trivia questions. Questions are split into six categories, with each one having its own color to identify itself; in the classic version of Trivial Pursuit, the Genus edition, these are Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 (blue), Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

 (pink), History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 (yellow), Arts & Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 (brown), Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 & Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 (green), and Sports & Leisure (orange). The game includes: a board, playing pieces, question cards, a box, small plastic wedges to fit into the playing pieces, and a die.

Playing pieces used in Trivial Pursuit are round and divided into six sections. A small, plastic wedge can be placed into each of these sections to signify when a question from a certain category has been correctly answered.

During the game, players move their playing pieces around a track which is shaped like a wheel with six spokes. This track is divided into spaces of different colors, and the center of the board is a hexagonal shape. At the end of each spoke is a "category headquarters" space. When a player's counter lands on a square, the player answers a question according to the color of the square, which corresponds to one of the six categories. If the player answers the question correctly, their turn continues; if the player's piece was on one of the category headquarters spaces, they collect a wedge of the same color, which fits into their playing piece. Some spaces say "roll again," giving an extra roll of the die to the player. Any number of playing pieces may occupy the same space at the same time.

Once a player has collected one wedge of each color (to fill up their playing piece), they make their way toward the hexagonal hub and answer a question in a category selected by the other players. If this question is answered correctly, that player wins the game. Otherwise, the player must leave the center of the board and try again on their next turn.


Over the years, numerous editions of Trivial Pursuit have been produced, usually specializing in various fields. The original version is known as the Genus edition (or Genus I). Several other general knowledge editions (such as Genus II) have followed.

Fred Worth lawsuit

In October 1984, Fred L. Worth, author of The Trivia Encyclopedia
The Trivia Encyclopedia
The Trivia Encyclopedia was first released in the early 1970s. Written by Fred L. Worth, it was the author's own personal collection of trivia...

, Super Trivia, and Super Trivia II, filed a $300 million lawsuit against the distributors of Trivial Pursuit. He claimed that more than a quarter of the questions in the game's Genus Edition had been taken from his books, even to the point of reproducing typographical errors and deliberately placed misinformation
Fictitious entry
Fictitious entries, also known as fake entries, Mountweazels, ghost word and nihil articles, are deliberately incorrect entries or articles in reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and directories. Entries in reference works normally originate from a reliable external source,...

. One of the questions in Trivial Pursuit was "What was Columbo's first name?" with the answer "Philip". That information had been fabricated to catch
Fictitious entry
Fictitious entries, also known as fake entries, Mountweazels, ghost word and nihil articles, are deliberately incorrect entries or articles in reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and directories. Entries in reference works normally originate from a reliable external source,...

 anyone who might try to violate his copyright
Copyright infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...


The inventors of Trivial Pursuit acknowledged that Worth's books were among their sources, but argued that this was not improper and that facts are not protected by copyright. The district court judge agreed, ruling in favor of the Trivial Pursuit inventors. The decision was appealed, and in September 1987 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a U.S. federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Alaska* District of Arizona...

 upheld the ruling. Worth asked the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 to review the case, but the Court declined, denying certiorari
Certiorari is a type of writ seeking judicial review, recognized in U.S., Roman, English, Philippine, and other law. Certiorari is the present passive infinitive of the Latin certiorare...

 in March 1988.

David Wall lawsuit

In 1994, David Wall of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Regional Municipality often shortened to simply CBRM, is a regional municipality in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton County.According to the 2006 Census of Canada, the population within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is 102,250...

, launched a lawsuit against the game's creators. He claimed that in the fall of 1979, he and a friend were hitchhiking near Sydney, Nova Scotia
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Sydney is a Canadian urban community in the province of Nova Scotia. It is situated on the east coast of Cape Breton Island and is administratively part of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality....

, when they were picked up by Chris Haney. Wall claimed that he told Haney about his idea for the game in detail, including the shape of the markers.

Wall's mother testified she found drawings of his that looked like plans for a Trivial Pursuit-like game, but the drawings had since been destroyed. Wall's friend, who was allegedly hitchhiking with him that day, never testified. Haney said he never met Wall.

Over the years, there was much legal wrangling, notably around whether the suit should be decided by a judge or jury. On June 25, 2007, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court
Nova Scotia Supreme Court
The Nova Scotia Supreme Court is a superior court in the province of Nova Scotia.The Court comprises the Chief Justice , the Associate Chief justice, twenty-one judges and six supernumerary Justices, who sit in 18 different locations around the province.-Jurisdiction:As with all superior courts...

 ruled against Wall.

Dumbing down accusations

In the United Kingdom, Trivial Pursuit players have complained that recent versions of the game are dumbed down
Dumbing down
Dumbing down is a pejorative term for a perceived trend to lower the intellectual content of literature, education, news, and other aspects of culture...

 in comparison to previous editions, with easier questions and more focus on celebrities and show business.


A version of Trivial Pursuit, hosted by Wink Martindale
Wink Martindale
Winston Conrad Martindale , known professionally as Wink Martindale, is an American disc jockey and television game show host.-Radio:...

, aired on The Family Channel
ABC Family
ABC Family, stylized as abc family, is an American television network, owned by ABC Family Worldwide Inc., a subsidiary of the Disney-ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 from 1993 to 1995. A syndicated version entitled Trivial Pursuit: America Plays
Trivial Pursuit: America Plays
Trivial Pursuit: America Plays was a syndicated game show loosely based on the board game of the same name. It premiered on September 22, 2008 and aired first-run episodes through May 22, 2009 . The host was Christopher Knight Trivial Pursuit: America Plays was a syndicated game show loosely based...

aired from 2008 to 2009 and was hosted by Christopher Knight. In September 2004, Roger Lodge
Roger Lodge
Roger Lodge is an American game show host, sports radio host, and actor.-Life and career:Lodge was born as Rogelio Chavez in Fontana, California and raised in Cerritos, California. Lodge currently serves as Executive Producer and host of HDNET's "CELEBRIDATE", scheduled to debut in October of 2011...

 hosted a sports trivia game show on ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 titled ESPN Trivial Pursuit, which aired five episodes.

BBC Television
BBC Television
BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The corporation, which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927, has produced television programmes from its own studios since 1932, although the start of its regular service of television...

 produced a Trivial Pursuit game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

 based on the game in the UK hosted by Rory McGrath
Rory McGrath
Patrick Rory McGrath is an English comedian and writer. He is best known for roles in Who Dares Wins, Chelmsford 123, Three Men in a Boat and its successors. He was also a regular panellist on They Think It's All Over....

. Another British version (with rules/format similar to the Wink Martindale version) was hosted on The Family Channel (now Challenge) by Tony Slattery
Tony Slattery
Anthony Declan James "Tony" Slattery is an English actor and comedian who has appeared on British television regularly since the mid 1980s, most notably as a regular on the Channel 4 improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway? As a film actor, both comedic and serious, his credits include The...

. Birgit Lechtermann hosted a version for VOX in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 from 1993 to 1994.

In 1988, a made-for-television movie entitled Breaking all the Rules: The Creation of Trivial Pursuit aired. Treated largely as a comedy, the movie featured the music of Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett
James William "Jimmy" Buffett is a singer-songwriter, author, entrepreneur, and film producer. He is best known for his music, which often portrays an "island escapism" lifestyle. Together with his Coral Reefer Band, Buffett's musical hits include "Margaritaville" , and "Come Monday"...

 and portrayed the creators of the game as three beer-loving Canadians.

In Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, a version of the show called Trivial Pursuit: Spain Plays premiered in September 2008 on Antena 3
Antena 3 (Spain)
Antena 3 is a Spanish terrestrial television channel owned by Antena 3 de Televisión. Some of the more popular programmes broadcast by Antena 3 include Aquí no hay quien viva, El Barco, Los Protegidos, Los Simpson and El Internado....


Video games

In 1984, Bally Sente released a Trivial Pursuit arcade game. Like the board game, several variants were also released.

In other media

Trivial Pursuit has been referenced in many films and television episodes. In an episode of Seinfeld
Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, lasting nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself...

titled The Bubble Boy, George Constanza gets into a physical altercation over the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question.

In "Petarded
"Petarded" is the sixth episode of Fox's fourth season of Family Guy, which originally broadcast in the United States on June 19, 2005. It was written by Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild and directed by Seth Kearsley. The episode sees Peter taking the MacArthur Fellows Program to see if he is a...

," an episode of Family Guy
Family Guy
Family Guy is an American animated television series created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a dysfunctional family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their anthropomorphic pet dog Brian...

, the Griffin family chooses Trivial Pursuit as one of their games for a family game night. Because of Peter's
Peter Griffin
Peter Griffin is a fictional character and the protagonist of the animated comedy series Family Guy and the patriarch of the Griffin family. He is voiced by cartoonist Seth MacFarlane and first appeared on television, along with the rest of the family in the 15-minute short on December 20, 1998....

 stupidity, Lois
Lois Griffin
Lois Griffin is a character from the animated television series Family Guy. She is voiced by writer Alex Borstein and first appeared on television, along with the rest of the family in the 15-minute short on December 20, 1998. Lois was created and designed by series creator Seth MacFarlane...

 secretly draws his trivia questions from the Preschool version of the game instead of the normal version. As a result, Peter wins the game and believes he is a genius.

In an episode of Corner Gas
Corner Gas
Corner Gas is a Canadian television sitcom created by Brent Butt. The series ran for six seasons from 2004 to 2009. Re-runs still air on CTV and The Comedy Network in Canada; it formerly aired on WGN America in the United States....

, Brent and Hank try to convince Lacey they have never heard of Trivial Pursuit. She believes them and even gets the game from her home and brings it to the Ruby to show Brent and Hank before they tell her it was just a prank.

External links

  • CBC Archives CBC Television on the invention of Trivial Pursuit (1979)
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