Identity (game show)

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Created by Tim Puntillo
Developed by Reveille Productions
Presented by Penn Jillette
Narrated by Joe Cipriano
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 12
Executive producer(s) Ben Silverman
H.T. Owens
Andrew Golder
Tim Puntillo
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) A Golder Productions
Valencia Productions Incorporated
Reveille Productions
NBC Universal Television Studio
Original network NBC
Original release December 18, 2006 (2006-12-18) – April 27, 2007 (2007-04-27)

Identity is a reality/game show, hosted by Penn Jillette and produced by Reveille where contestants could win prize money of up to US$500,000 by matching 12 strangers one-by-one to phrases about their identities.


A contestant is introduced to twelve strangers. After seeing the strangers, the contestant is presented with a list of 12 identities (facts including occupations, hobbies, ages, etc.), each of which applies to at least one of the 12 strangers. While an identity may match multiple strangers, there is only one way to assign the identities uniquely to each stranger. Based primarily on visual observation, the contestant chooses an identity and tries to match it to the correct stranger. In order to make a decision final, the contestant must "seal the identity" by pressing their palm down on a provided podium after saying which stranger matches that identity. Jillette, sometimes after finding out the stranger's first name, then asks the stranger "Is that your identity?" The stranger confirms or denies his or her identity. Confirmation is often made in a manner pertinent to the identity, either through a statement (e.g., a baseball umpire saying "Safe!"), or by demonstration (e.g., jumping rope). Jillette would often tease the stranger for going to commercial by saying either, "Isn't it a good time to take a break?" or "It's time to take a break." On one episode, Jillette would be too shy to say "Is that your identity?" and would cut to commercial.

Identity was placed on hiatus as of May 1, 2007. NBC said it would bring the program back later in the year, but never did.

For each correct match made, the contestant's potential winnings increased:

Correct matches Amount won
1 $1,000
2 $5,000
3 $10,000
4 $15,000
5 $25,000
6 $50,000
7 $75,000
8 $100,000
9 $150,000
10 $250,000
11 $500,000

After a contestant makes two correct matches, or makes a mistake, he or she is informed of the three "helps" available to him or her (although they are, in fact, available at any point in the game). One of those helps is simply a rule of the game:

  • Mistaken Identity: A player receives one "free pass" if s/he incorrectly seals an identity at any point prior to the final decision between the two remaining strangers, i.e., before s/he has won $250,000. If a player wins $250,000 and reaches the final decision without using the Mistaken Identity "help," it is simply revoked.
    • Once a contestant either incorrectly seals an identity or reaches the final decision, the contestant may "take the money and run" at any point before sealing another identity. If a contestant makes a second mistake or error when making the final decision (actually a pair of decisions, with each implying the other via process of elimination), the game is over and the contestant leaves with nothing.

The other two helps can be invoked by the contestant to aid in making a decision:

  • Tri-dentity: The contestant chooses an identity and the number of strangers to choose from is narrowed down to three: the correct stranger and two incorrect strangers. The player must choose the correct stranger out of the three that matches the identity. Once the player has chosen to use their Tri-dentity, he or she must solve that identity (or stop and take his or her winnings, if Mistaken Identity was already used); they cannot choose a different identity. The Tri-dentity help is revoked, if not used, once only four strangers remain.
  • Ask The Experts: The contestant chooses an identity and a panel of three experts gives their individual informed opinions on which stranger matches it. In the first week of shows, the panel included a body language expert (Mark Edgar Stephens), a psychologist (Dr. Deborah Anderson), and an FBI behavioural expert (Christopher Whitcomb), although private investigator Bill Stanton has substituted for Whitcomb in some episodes. The experts have no inside information about the strangers. They rely solely on professional training and personal experience to make educated guesses. The contestant is not bound to solve that identity once the Experts have given their opinions—nor is the contestant required to abide by those decisions—and may solve another identity or choose to go . The experts do not have to reach a consensus. Each member of the panel may provide a different guess for a particular identity. This help is available at any point in the game.

In addition to the three explained helps, there are several other points of assistance offered to the contestant:

  • During Identity's premiere week, Jillette would ask the contestant which stranger he or she wants to know more about. He will then ask that stranger their first name, and several pieces of information which are not directly related to any of the identities, such as whether they have any pets. When Identity debuted as a weekly series, this was formalized: at the beginning of the game, the contestant may ask for the first names, and a biographical fact, about three of the twelve strangers. After the third correct match, the contestant can ask about two of the remaining nine strangers, and after the sixth match, may ask about one of the remaining six.
  • After the fourth correct match, Jillette introduces the contestant's friends and/or family members (in much the same way as Howie Mandel does on Deal or No Deal). The friends and family typically have a suggestion prepared as to the identity of one of the strangers after they are introduced. However, the friends or family members may sometimes lead a person to match an identity to the wrong stranger or take the money when they would have won the grand prize.
  • The audience is not obligated to remain silent until an identity is sealed. The audience often voices their opinion on a selection. Occasionally when a contestant fails to recognize a celebrity of some sort and tries to select him or her for the wrong identity, the audience can dissuade the contestant with their reaction.
  • Jillette himself, particularly on early identities, has shown apparent intention on warning, or hinting at the contestants when they are making a blatantly erroneous selection, though he also sometimes is prevented from doing so by a contestant's quick sealing of an identity.

Identities and strangers[edit]

The 12 strangers stand on individually numbered podiums and are referred to mainly by number, though their first names are often revealed in the progress of the show.

Usually at least one identity is made blatantly obvious from physical appearance alone (blatant examples include a "Sumo wrestler" in fighting garb, and a "George W. Bush impersonator"). Celebrity strangers may be easily recognizable by the contestant or the contestant's friends (once they are allowed to help). There were no intentionally misleading costumes (e.g., a physicist dressed as a sumo wrestler when both "physicist" and "sumo wrestler" were possible identities), although strangers often break stereotypes (e.g., a female prison guard, a goateed, long-haired nuclear physicist wearing a leather jacket, or a preschool teacher dressed in a bikini). There was even a missionary wearing a bikini in one episode.

Strangers have confirmed their identities in a variety of ways; musicians, for example, have been handed instruments and asked to play if they can (similarly, opera singer Jennifer Wallace revealed her identity by holding a very high note). Some "skill" identities have been confirmed by demonstration; for example, a (male) go-go dancer danced on stage. Sometimes strangers perform from their podiums, while others are brought to the front of the main stage. Other strangers confirm their identities with a remark which pertains to their identity. An NFL player hesitated and then signaled "It's good" with his hands signaling a field goal, while a mall Santa laughed "ho ho ho". Most follow their comment up with "Yes, I am [the identity]" (though the audience reaction often masks this), and some strangers say only that.

In cases where the stranger is prepared to demonstrate his or her identity, but the contestant selects the wrong stranger for that identity, the mistaken stranger will be asked to try to demonstrate that identity, only to refuse at the last moment and confirm he is not that identity. Strangers that were prepared to demonstrate their identity but were not given the opportunity (the player loses or quits the game) may be asked to demonstrate this when the full answers are revealed to the player.

Show summaries[edit]

  • On the first night (December 18, 2006), there were two contestants, private investigator Herb Irvine from Boston, Massachusetts, and Andrea Brown from Atlanta, Georgia. Irvine won US$75,000 after guessing seven of the twelve strangers correctly and choosing to quit the game; Brown won US$50,000 after guessing six strangers correctly and choosing to go home.
  • On the second night (December 19, 2006), Robert Talon of Chula Vista, California, became the first winner of the show's top prize of US$500,000 by guessing all 12 identities correctly. Talon, a loan officer, correctly identified, among others, a National Football League player (Ray Crockett), a reality television starlet (Brittny Gastineau), an immigrant from Russia, a blackjack dealer (named Pamela), and a belly dancer (named Ava), which was his final correct answer. The remaining unguessed identity was that of violinist. When the week ended, Talon was the only winner of the top prize.
  • In contrast, fire fighter Matthew Gatewood, the first contestant of the third night (December 20, 2006), left without winning money after failing twice. He thought that No. 9 was a circus performer (she was actually a professional wrestler) and that No. 5 was a power lifter (he was really a U.S. Army Ranger) He was convinced that Erin Murphy (Tabitha from Bewitched) was an Army Ranger. He was followed by Nickie Malouf of Burbank, California, who won US$50,000 after guessing six identities correctly.
  • The fourth night (December 21, 2006) of the run brought a US$250,000 win for Nicci Guzik of Streamwood, Illinois. She stopped just short of the grand prize because she had an uneasy feeling about her guess at the final identity. She thought that No. 11 was a crime scene investigator, but she was actually a kidney donor; No. 9 was the CSI. This final scenario is a prime example of how better strategic thinking might have helped a contestant: No. 9 was wearing a knee-length dress, whereas No. 11 was wearing a shirt and separate skirt. Had she thought about dramatic ways for the strangers to reveal their identities, Guzik might have realized that a person wearing separates, but not a person in a dress, could lift her shirt to reveal the scar from her donation surgery, such that producers might have planned such a "reveal" and advised the kidney donor to wear separates; therefore, all else being equal, the person wearing separates would be more likely to be the kidney donor.
  • The fifth night (December 22, 2006) involved two games. In the first game, math educator Seth Cutler from Massapequa, New York, chose to walk away the prize money at US$50,000 after guessing six identities. He used his Mistaken Identity early in the game thinking that Caitlyn Jenner (then Bruce)[a] was a ventriloquist. The second game ended with Tami Jones of West Hills, California, losing the game and receiving no prize money.
  • When the series returned on March 16, 2007, Christina Howard of Sacramento, California, won the top prize of US$500,000 by correctly identifying stranger No. 11 as a prison guard (the remaining stranger, #6, was an astronomer). She became the second player to win the top prize, and managed to do so without using her Mistaken Identity help during the game.
    • This episode was noteworthy for an incident that happened during the final identity. The female prison guard was obvious due to her stance and demeanor, and Christina was all set to seal the identity...which would have ended the game too soon. Penn Jillette managed to pad out the show by cutting to commercial, and then stalling her with questions about whether she was ready throughout an entire segment until cutting to commercial again... after which the identity was finally revealed.
    • This episode also introduced a revamped set, featuring larger, blue platforms for the strangers, as well as three TV screens near the contestant, which displayed each of the contestant's helps.
  • On April 13, 2007, Christian Saulnier of Norwood, Massachusetts, won the top prize of US$500,000 by correctly identifying stranger No. 3 as a chimney sweep (the remaining stranger, #6, Apollo Robbins, was a pickpocket). He became the 3rd player to win the top prize. He used his Mistaken Identity help thinking that No. 6 was an air guitar champion when No. 1 is an air guitar champion.


The twelve people on the show whose identities are being guessed are known as strangers. The following are some famous strangers that have appeared: [2]

Interactive game[edit]

During the first season, in addition to the regular game, like two other NBC game shows, Deal or No Deal and 1 vs. 100, there was an at-home game open to residents of the continental United States called "The Identity Challenge", where an at-home player chosen at random won $10,000 (US$) by choosing which of five strangers represents a product, or a profession related to the advertised product.[4]

On the first two nights, three of the five were revealed to be incorrect throughout the game, and the answer was revealed before the final commercial break. On the next three, there was no such narrowing; all five strangers remained throughout the show.

To encourage viewers to watch television commercials during the show, the correct answer to the "Identity Challenge" question was revealed during a related commercial within the first 20 minutes of the show.[4]

When the series returned on March 16, 2007, the show did not have an interactive feature.


Episode # Air Date Rating Share 18–49 Total Viewers
1 December 18, 2006 7.6 12 4.5 12.1
2 December 19, 2006 5.4 9 3.0 8.4
3 December 20, 2006 5.5 9 3.0 8.5
4 December 21, 2006 6.1 11 3.1 9.2
5 December 22, 2006 5.0 9 2.4 7.4
6 March 16, 2007 5.8 10 2.9 8.7
7 March 23, 2007 3.7 8 1.8 5.5
8 March 30, 2007 4.8 8 1.6 6.4
9 April 6, 2007 4.1 8 1.7 5.8
10 April 13, 2007 4.4 8 1.9 6.3
11 April 20, 2007 3.3 6 1.4 4.7
12 April 27, 2007 3.5 7 1.5 5.0

International versions[edit]

Country Name Host Channel Year aired Prize
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Identity TBA TBA TBA 1,000,000KM
 Brazil Identidade Secreta Lígia Mendes SBT TBA R$500,000
 Chile Identity Vivi Kreutzberger Mega March 22, 2010 Cl$50.000.000
 China 猜的就是你 Zhang Shaogang Guangxi TV January 2, 2013 Gift pack of family's dream
 Denmark Identity-hvem er hvem? Thomas Mygind Kanal 5 February 14, 2008 500,000kr
 Finland Tuntemattomat Jaakko Saariluoma MTV3 2008 €30,000
 France Identity Jean-Luc Reichmann TF1 February 14, 2009 €150,000
 Georgia ინტუიცია Nika Kavtaradze Imedi TV May 13, 2010 20,000
 Greece Tαυτότητα Miltos Makrides Star Channel 2007 €150,000
 Hong Kong 亮相 Eric Kot TVB May 5, 2008 HK$200,000
 Italy Soliti ignoti – Identità nascoste Fabrizio Frizzi Rai Uno June 2007 €250,000
 Israel אינטואיציה
Shlomo Baraba Channel 10 June 13, 2007 500,000
 Mexico Identidad Andrés Bustamante Azteca 13 July 18, 2007 MX$250,000
 Norway Intuisjon TBA TV Norge TBA 1,000,000 Kr
 Russia Интуиция
Viktor Loginov TNT September 7, 2007 1,000,000 руб.
500,000 руб.
 South Korea 공통점을 찾아라 Suh Kyung-Suk SBS March 2008 50,000,000
 Spain Identity Antonio Garrido TVE1 July 16, 2007 €100,000
 Thailand ใครคือใคร Identity Thailand Kathsepsawad Palakawong na Ayuthaya Workpoint Creative TV February 7, 2013 ฿100,000
 Turkey Kimsin Sen? Mustafa Sandal Star TV February 14, 2010 150.000 TL
 Ukraine Інтуїція (1-4 season)
Суперінтуїція (5 season)
Andriy Domanskyi (1-2 season)
Alexander Pedan (3-4 season)
Serhiy Prytula (5 season)
Novyi Kanal 2010–2011
 United Kingdom Identity Donny Osmond BBC Two 2007 £10,000
  •  Australia – While Australia never made a local version of the program, Channel Ten played out all twelve episodes of the American series.


  1. ^ a b Jenner changed her name due to gender transition in 2015.[1]


  1. ^ Buzz Bissinger (June 1, 2015). "Introducing Caitlyn Jenner". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ Identity at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Pound, Mike (February 2, 2012). "George Bush look-alike finds new career at restaurant". The Joplin Globe. Retrieved February 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "IDENTITY "Play-at-Home Game" Official Rules". NBC. Retrieved December 21, 2006. 

External links[edit]