Password Game Show – Rules And History

After first airing in 1961, Password rose to prominence in the US and became a widely-loved word game. With its lighthearted style, celebrity appearances and regular competitors, Password places two teams against each other in the ultimate word-association challenge to win cash prizes.

Rules of Password

The main objective of Password is for players to guess a secret password by providing clues to their partner in the game. However when providing clues, players are only allowed to use one-word and are prohibited from doing either of the following:

  • Using hyphenated words.
  • Using proper nouns.
  • Using derivatives of the password itself.
  • Using excessive body language to convey the answer.

In the game’s standard format, each episode of Password is played by two teams that each consist of a civilian contestant and a celebrity. The constant appearance of celebrities in Password helped it to gain widespread popularity with viewers.  

At the start of each question, the host will provide a member of one of the team’s with a card that contains the password, who can then choose whether to play or pass the card to the opposing team (in certain game variations). The audience and viewer are also notified as to what the password is. 

After reading the password, the team member must speak a word that will help their teammate guess the password in one attempt. If the guess is correct, the team will score points but if the guess is incorrect, the turn will pass over to the opposition who will have an opportunity to guess the word. 

Each round will end when a password has been guessed correctly. Alternatively a round can end when a predetermined number of clues have been given out without a correct guess. 

In terms of scoring, different versions of the game have scored correct answers in various ways. As a general rule, players will score higher for correctly guessing the word using fewer clues, with each additional clue decreasing the amount of points possible for a password.

Each game continues through several rounds of passwords and guesses before the team with the highest points score is declared the winner of the two teams. Following this, the winning team will move on to play a bonus round or receive other rewards, depending upon the specific version of the show. 

Broadcasting history of Password

  • As of 2024, the most recent edition of Password on NBC has run for 2 seasons, hosted by Keke Palmer.  
  • However, six main editions of Password have existed since the game’s initial release.
  • Across all of its main editions, a total of 4,586 episodes have been aired. 
  • On average, this amounts to 71.66 episodes per year.
  • Password’s original edition that aired from 1961-1967 produced 61.73% of all episodes.
YearsNameTotal episodesBroadcasterMain host
1961 – 1967Password2,831CBS (1961-1967)
ABC (1971-1975)
Allen Ludden
1979 – 1982Password Plus557NBCTom Kennedy
1984 – 1989Super Password1,149NBCBert Convy
2008 – 2009Million Dollar Password12CBSRegis Philbin
2015 – 2016Password16Buzzr (YouTube)Steve Zaragoza
2022 – 2024Password21NBCKeke Palmer

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Password FAQ

Who is the Password game show host?

  • As of 2024, the current host of the Password game show is American actress and singer Lauren Keyana “Keke” Palmer.
  • In 2023, she received the inaugural Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Game Show for her work on Password, beating Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings of Jeopardy!, Steve Harvey of Family Feud and Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune.
  • Jimmy Fallon is the executive producer of the current iteration of the Password game show and features as its permanent celebrity guest.

Where to watch the Password television show?

  • As of 2024, Password can be viewed on NBC at 10:00 PM Eastern Time and 9:00 PM Central Time. 
  • However, viewers who are unable to catch the show live can stream episodes through the Peacock online streaming platform. 
  • To watch on-demand episodes of Password through Peacock, users must purchase either a subscription with ads or an ad-free subscription. 

Who created Password?

  • The first ever edition of Password began in 1961 and was created by television producer Bob Stewart, who also created Pyramid and Chain Reaction
  • Password was the first game show to pair civilian contestants with celebrities.
  • It became the top-rated daytime TV program and even helped make the concept of bonus rounds popular (often at the end of each episode), allowing players to gain additional prizes and money.   
  • Bob Steward also created other popular game shows including Pyramid, The Price is Right and Jackpot!