What's in a game, or more importantly, what are TV writers trying to say when they come up with episodes about TV characters playing games? Are they hinting at themes, foreshadowing plot twists, or just having fun with tropes they normally can't touch with a ten-foot pole?
Games can also be a useful way to introduce characters, get them to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets, and have them interact with other characters that barely exchanged two words of dialogue with one another beforehand.
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The type of game doesn't matter just as the format of the show doesn't matter.
TV episodes devoted to characters playing games can happen on any show. It's something to be thankful for because watching beloved characters do whatever it takes to beat a game has produced some very fine half hours and hours of television.
"Promises You Can't Keep" Season 1 Episode 12 - Dynasty
"Promises You Can't Keep" is a great reminder for why you don't bet against the house, especially when the Carringtons are the house.
"Moving Up" Season 6 Episode 21 - Parks and Recreation
Ben Wyatt invented Cones of Dunshire. Beating Gryzzl at his own game should be a breeze. Still, with free wi-fi for Pawnee on the line, the stakes have never been higher.
"Welcome to Game Night" Season 1 Episode 5 - The Neighborhood
Inviting the Johnsons over for game night leads to an argument between Calvin and Malcolm.
"Twenty-Sided Die" Season 3 Episode 9 - iZombie
The only thing better than Liv acting as the DM in the hopes it will help her solve a murder is watching Clive turn from D & D skeptic to D & D enthusiast. If he keeps taking down the lich and other foes in suitably epic fashion, then he is absolutely right to suggest D & D should become a regular activity on iZombie.
"Hartsfield Landing" Season 3 Episode 14 - The West Wing
Chess isn't just about outwitting your opponent. It's a way to connect with people on a deeply intimate level, as watching President Bartlet play against both Sam and Toby more than proves.
"Games People Play" Season 14 Episode 14 - Grey's Anatomy
If no one follows the rules, does the game matter? Can a round of charades and Pictionary help the surgeons of Grey Sloan answer that question?