Basically No One’s Noticed This ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Change One Year Later

Did you notice this missing wedge? Last year, Wheel of Fortune decided to do away with a certain game feature. We’ll let you decide if the change was for the better or the worse.

‘Wheel Of Fortune’ Says Goodbye To ‘Free Play’

Around this time last year, Wheel of Fortune decided to do away with the “Free Play” tile, but few fans have seemed to notice or mind the change. “Free Play” was first introduced in 2009, replacing “Free Spin” at the time. When a contestant spun the wheel and landed on the “Free Play” wedge, they were able to call out any letter, including vowels, and receive $500 for every time that letter appeared on the board. They were also allowed to attempt to solve the puzzle.

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If the contestant’s letter didn’t appear or if their answer was incorrect, they could spin again. As far as the game’s rules go, the wedge was a bit convoluted. Some fans protested its introduction in 2009, and many celebrated its eradication. However, the tile stayed in place for nearly twelve years. By the time showrunners decided to do away with the wedge in 2021, fans had grown used to the “Free Play” option.

In a clip uploaded to the show’s Instagram account last year, host Pat Sajak pointed out the change. “The free play, the dreaded free play is gone… There are a lot of technical reasons why it’s gone. The main one is, I never understood it. So, we just got it out,” Sajak joked. “But now, there’s an $850 space in its place. So, more money is always a better thing!”

Simpler Is Usually Better

Fans’ reactions to the announcement were a mixed bag. Some lamented the change while others breathed a sigh of relief: “Finally,” fans who always despised the wedge seemed to say. In the world of game shows, you can’t go wrong with keeping things simple. Wheel of Fortune has entertained audiences for decades with its straightforward gameplay: Try to solve the puzzle, and earn prizes doing it!

So, what do you think about the change? Whether you were a fan of “Free Play” or not, the $850 tile has been a nice consolation prize, although it was already briefly replaced with an XL wedge for the show’s XL Week event. On a show like Wheel of Fortune, the best part is seeing people win big. As Sajak pointed out: “More money is always a better thing!”

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