How Many Lifelines Are in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Updated on March 28, 2018
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy explores many topics as he juggles his passion for writing with his career as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'s logo
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'s logo

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

One of the most popular game shows of all time, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? lured audiences with its big bucks and focus on suspense rather than speed. Regis Philbin famously hosted the American version, but Millionaire actually crafted a variety of productions internationally, each with its own hosts and tweaks.

Central to all editions is the concept of lifelines: once-per-game abilities to help the contestant power through difficult questions. Usually, more than one can be used on the same question if desired, and contestants may still walk away with the money they've currently amassed even after applying a lifeline. You may be surprised just how many lifelines the show has employed—here's a complete list of Millionaire's several safety nets!

The Big Three

The most well-know lifelines to American viewers are Ask the Audience, Phone a Friend, and 50-50, but we'll soon dsicover many more exist.

Ask the Audience Technical Failure

1. Ask the Audience

Summary: Sometimes called Poll the Audience, this effect allows every audience member to input their guess. Then, a percentage displaying how many members voted for each answer choice is provided to the contestant. Large percentages typically indicate a correct response, but there have been times where the majority of the audience have missed a question.

Usefulness: Ask the Audience works better earlier in the game with easier questions, as once the difficulty scales too high, they're less likely to provide high statistics for the correct answer.

Ask the Audience
Ask the Audience

2. Ask One of the Audience

Summary: The German version of Millionaire uses an altered lifeline. The audience is asked who thinks they know the answer, and confident members stand up. The contestant selects one (based only on appearance) and is allowed to discuss the question at length with them. If the answer they provide is correct, the audience member wins a small cash prize, guarding against malicious purposefully-wrong answers.

Usefulness: Quite helpful with an honest audience because they're narrowed down to only those with faith in their choice, and the contestant is allowed to converse with them as they like about the response.

Plus One: Eventually, this lifeline was moved to the American Milllionaire and slightly altered to Plus One, where the contestant brings a companion they can consult rather than picking from the audience.

Phone a Friend Like a Champ

3. Phone a Friend

Summary: Familiar to many American fans, Phone a Friend allows a contestant to make a 30-second phone call to one of a few preselected buddies who can hopefully provide insight about the current question. This lifeline was eventually removed because people started using their friends to consult search engines rather than answer with what they already knew.

Usefulness: Largely depends on who you know, but this wasn't the best lifeline. Contestants spent a good portion of their half-minute just reading the trivia and answers, leaving little time for discussion or debate.

50-50 | Source

4. 50-50

Summary: This lifeline simply removes two incorrect answers at random. This leaves players with much better odds if they have no idea but still want to hazard a guess.

Usefulness: Very helpful. If a contestant debates between two answers, with luck 50-50 will remove one of them, leaving what should be the correct choice.

Double Dip
Double Dip | Source

5. Double Dip

Summary: Similar to 50-50, Double Dip was introduced in Super Millionaire and allows hot-seat occupants to choose two answers; if either is right, they have correctly answered the question. However, once someone accesses Double Dip, they cannot walk away or harness other lifelines; they have to play out the question immediately.

Usefulness: Incredibly beneficial when used carefully. If a players ponders between two answers, Double Dip doesn't have the risk 50-50 carries of not eliminating one of them.

Three Wise Men

6. Three Wise Men

Summary: Another Super Millionaire concoction, Ask the Expert contacts three knowledgeable individuals (chosen by the show) via video and audio feed. They have 30 seconds to hear the question, choices, and provide their input. Often, the show chooses a former Millionaire contestant as one of the panelists and always picks at least one woman.

Usefulness: Helpful, but still limited. It functions similarly to Phone a Friend, but now players receive three allies instead of one. However, the contestant doesn't know them personally, making it tricky to gauge their strengths and when to use them.

Ask the Expert: The show eventually replaced Three Wise Men with this ability, which allows players to consult only one show-selected scholar. However, the time limit is removed, allowing for more debate. Initially the lifeline was only gained after advancing past the fifth question, but was later moved to be available at any point.

7. Jump the Question

Summary: An interesting power, Jump the Question completely bypasses any question other than the final one with no strings attached... except that no money is earned for that round. For many seasons, players could use this twice per game, a first for any lifeline.

Usefulness: Very helpful in terms of advancing. Jump the Question works best on tricky early to mid-game questions (so players don't hop over big monetary values).

Switch the Question

8. Switch the Question

Summary: Sometimes called Cut the Question, this lifeline appeared for several seasons of the American Millionaire. It's only earned upon answering the first ten questions correctly, and allows contestants to swap their question with another of the same value. However; any lifelines used on the first question don't transfer over; if a player uses 50-50, then switches, the new question will have all four answers presented.

Usefulness: A great boon, Switch the Question should be saved for situations where the player hasn't the foggiest what the correct choice is. However, it should be brandished prior to other lifelines considering any used before it are essentially wasted.

Which is your favorite lifeline?

See results

Your Vote

Though the original British Millionaire (1998-2014) had since ended, the program remains one of the most popular game shows of all time, and we'll hopefully see more Millionaire spin-offs in the future. Providing an alternative to millionaire-hood other than marrying rich, this show has long captivated fans with its tense atmosphere and lifelines to bypass tricky questions. Be sure to vote for favorite, and I'll see you at our next countdown!

Although... one last lifeline remains—sort of. Both Disney Land and Disney World used to host Who Wants to Be a Millionaire—Play It! attractions that replaced Phone a Friend with Phone a Complete Stranger. This involved calling a cast member throughout the park, who would ask a random park-goer the question. Overall, it was a fun novelty that occasionally provided a correct response.

© 2017 Jeremy Gill


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)