Here's Why Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Contestants Can't Ask The Audience For An Answer

ABC's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has been a TV game-show staple ever since its debut with Regis Philbin as host nearly 20 years ago (via IMDb). Those familiar with the long-running quiz competition will likely be familiar with the show's lifelines, which are on-hand to assist contestants whenever they run into a particularly difficult question.

As of late, the Millionaire lifelines include Phone a Friend, 50:50, and Ask the Host — the latter of which replaced the classic Ask the Audience lifeline, which, as Deadline reports, was retired in 2020 in light of COVID-19 filming restrictions. 

According to one former contestant, the "useless" Ask the Audience lifeline is perhaps better left in the past anyway, adding that much of the Who want to Be a Millionaire filming process is in fact "scripted." Speaking on Reddit, they revealed: "The reason the audience is so completely useless (And why you see so many press wrong on obvious answers) is because 20-30 percent of the audience is friends and family to the other 7 contestants who are waiting for their turn." They continued: "If one contestant goes far and takes a lot of time, no one else gets a chance, so the audience tells the wrong answer on purpose."

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire returned for a celebrity reboot

In 2020, the hit game show returned to our screens for the first time in over a decade with Jimmy Kimmel at the helm. As Variety reports, the revamped celebrity edition of Who wants to Be a Millionaire began airing its first season in April 2020, with the likes of Will Arnett, Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper, and Andy Cohen playing to raise money for charity.

Speaking at the time of the show's revival, executive producer, Michael Davies, described Millionaire as "one of the most perfect games ever invented," adding that he wanted the rebooted series to stay true to the original format. "I didn't want to change the format. I didn't want to stray from the classic 15 questions." Davies continued: "I always think games need to be adjusted and modified, but you don't throw out the whole thing."

Per Deadline, ABC's Who wants to Be a Millionaire starring Kimmel was renewed for a second season in May 2020. As reported by TV Guide, season 2 began airing five months later in October with celebrity contestants including Tiffany Haddish, Julie Bowen, Joel McHale, as well as frontline worker heroes, all playing for the $1,000,000 prize.