Flooring the Competition — Inside FOX's Newest Trivia Showdown 'The Floor'

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jan. 3 2024, Published 8:35 a.m. ET

Rob Lowe on 'The Floor'
Source: FOX

The Gist:

  • 81 contestants on a 9x9 floor play The Floor, each representing a trivia category. Randomized duels involve challenging neighbors in their expertise.

  • Duels have 45 seconds for visual hint questions. Winners inherit the opponent's category. The game spans a season, offering a $250,000 grand prize for conquering the entire floor.

  • Mini-winners in each episode earn $20,000 by conquering the most squares by the end of the night.

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In a world where we need as many distractions as possible, FOX has delivered the most high-stakes trivia game on television. Hosted by Brat Pack 80s sweetheart Rob Lowe, The Floor features 81 contestants as they try to take over a 9x9 floor of trivia categories. But because it’s a brand-new show, there's some confusion about how it works.

There are several rules and guidelines to make The Floor work, both short-term and long-term. Unlike many game shows, The Floor makes use of its entire season with one winner of the $250,000 grand prize at the end of the season. So how does The Floor work?

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'The Floor' contestants
Source: FOX

FOX's ‘The Floor’ works by using trivia duels to eliminate contestants.

The Floor begins with 81 contestants, who each stand on their own square on the 9x9 floor. Each contestant has their own area of expertise that their square represents, with some such as “Cereal,” “Veggies,” “Kids’ Books,” and many more. To kick off an episode, a randomizer decides which contestant will start the trivia duels.

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Whoever the randomizer picks needs to pick one of their neighbors to take on in the neighbor’s area of expertise. So, for example, if someone whose category is “Bugs” is selected by the randomizer, they’ll need to pick one of their neighbors to take on in a duel. If the neighbor’s category is “Cars,” then they’ll compete on “Cars.” Whoever wins takes over the unused area of expertise and their opponent’s square.

'The Floor' contestants interacting with each other
Source: FOX
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At the end of each duel, the winner can choose whether they want to take on another neighbor in their area of expertise or if they want to go back to the floor. While the grand prize at the end of the season for whoever conquers the entire floor is $250,000, every episode ends with a mini-winner. Whoever conquers the most squares by the end of each episode wins $20,000, so there's an incentive to be at least a bit aggressive.

The duels are timed and require contestants to win trivia under pressure.

When two contestants duel, there's a bit of unfairness because they will never be asked the same question. Each contestant is given 45 seconds to answer as many questions as they can. Whoever runs their clock first loses the duel. The questions are usually visual hints and the faster the contestant can guess the right answer, the higher their clock stays.

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Two contestants on 'The Floor' competing in a duel
Source: FOX

Once a contestant gets the right answer, the opponent’s clock starts. Their clock continues until they get the right answer, so if they don’t know an answer, the contestant should “pass.” However, a “pass” removes three seconds from the clock, so several passes will set them back. This isn’t a completely fair duel, because it’s possible that when someone doesn’t know the answer, their opponent doesn’t know it either. But only the person whose turn it is would be penalized.

Even still, it comes down to whoever knows the most, and whoever wins will inherit the other person’s category. By the end of the season, many contestants will have inherited categories they have no expertise in and they will battle one another to take over the entire floor. Whoever conquers the entire floor at the end of the season wins $250,000, which is far from chump change.

New episodes of The Floor air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on FOX, and stream the following day on Hulu.

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