Great Moments in Fictional Sitcom Games

NEW GIRL: The gang plays drinking games when Jess (Zooey Deschanel, L) invites Russell (guest star Dermot Mulroney, C) to spend the weekend at the loft
Photo: Greg Gayne/FOX

Last night’s New Girl partook in a long-standing sitcom tradition: the made-up game. These are some of the most iconic and funny fictional games — from comedies only, otherwise we fall down a Star Trek hole of despair. From least to most wonderful:

Rock Paper Scissor Lizard Spock, from Big Bang Theory
Rules: It follows the same format as traditional RPS: scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitate lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, rock crushes scissors.
Playability: Extremely playable for layfolk, but almost too ordinary for this whimsical list.

Double Cranko, from M*A*S*H
Rules: A combination of checkers, chess, poker, blackjack, and, more important, whatever Hawkeye decides to add to it. “Bishops are worth three jacks, checkers are wild, and you have to be 21 or over to open,” he tells Radar.
Playability: Medium. It’s a tegwar game, where there’s no internal consistency in the first place — but making up rules on the fly is harder than it looks.

Bamboozle!, from Friends
Rules: “You spin the Wheel of Mayhem to go up the Ladder of Chance, you go past the Mud Hut through the Rainbow Ring to get to the Golden Monkey, you pull his tail and boom, you’re in Paradise Pond.” But … it’s not that simple.
Playability: Very low. Especially compared to Ross’s trivia challenge in which his pals had to recall obscure facts about one another. That is playable, Miss Chanandaler Bong.

Marsh-Gammon, from How I Met Your Mother
Rules: The game is a pretty shoddy ruse for Marshall to get to know Victoria better, but the rules involve personal trivia, drinking, and an all-important buzzer. It uses a Candy Land board, poker chips, cards, and sorting hat. And more.
Playability: A perfect re-creation? Low. But a sort of “roll the dice and tell a story, then everybody drinks” kind of version? That’s just a good Saturday night.

Chardee MacDennis, from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Rules: The game consists of three levels: mind, body, and spirit. Level one includes trivia and drawing, level two includes excruciating physical challenges (darts in the hand), and level three is about emotional abuse. Each round requires a different kind of alcohol, too. (Full rules here.)
Playability: Disgustingly, dangerously high. This is one of the few bonkers sitcom games that gets fully explained during the episode, and while no one should be forced to crawl into a dog crate and eat cake ingredients, there are plenty of ways to still incorporate the spirit of Chardee MacDennis into a more humane game.

New Girl’s True American is a glorious drinking game — you can read the elaborate, absurd rules here — but the best sitcom games are revealing. They show off weird sides of characters, or reveal secret traits or trivia, and as fun as True American looks, it’s based more on enthusiasm than social intimacy. That said, JFK! JFK! Please drink from the king of the castle.

Great Moments in Fictional Sitcom Games