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"Thank you for watching. If you enjoyed it, please join us again; or, if you prefer something a little easier to work out, try the Arab-Israeli conflict."
- Identify the connection among four items, revealed one by one. Points are awarded based on how many items are revealed before an answer is given.
- Identify the fourth item in a series of items revealed in a similar manner to the above.
- Connection Wall: Sort the grid of 16 items into four categories.
- Missing Vowels: Reinsert the vowels into a word, phrase or name from which the vowels have been removed and spaces have been arbitrarily inserted.
The quiz is unapologetically difficult and tests both knowledge and lateral thinking.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Game Show Host: Victoria Coren.
- Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: Questions can rarely be described as easy, but some stand out as being unanswerable by anyone except a human manifestation of Google.
- Author Appeal: Victoria is a professional Poker player. Several questions and clues on the show have been related to poker. Music theory also seems to come up in a rather disproportionate number of questions, although there's not quite such an obvious reason for it.
- Crossover: A January 2011 special pitted the reigning Only Connect champions with the current University Challenge champions. The Only Connect champions won.
- Deadpan Snarker: Victoria Coren.
Victoria Coren: "Hello, and welcome to Only Connect -- the show described by the Daily Mirror as "weird". It is a bit strange -- There are two teams; I ask them questions, and if they get the answers right they get points, and at the end of the quiz, whichever team has the most points, they're the winners. It's a revolutionary idea, but someone had to try it."
- Did Not Do the Research: At one point, a team guessed that the link between Lord Peter Wimsey, The Penguin, Sir Patrick Moore and Wilkins Micawber was that they all carry umbrellas. Victoria Coren scoffed at this, saying "you think the Penguin carries an umbrella?" when any Batman fan can tell you that yes, he does carry multiple umbrellas, which he uses as weapons. It's one of his gimmicks.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Mark Labbett, member of Series 2 champions the Rugby Boys, is one of the three Chasers in ITV's quiz show The Chase. Many other contestants have appeared on several other quiz shows in the past as well.
- Lady Drunk: Among other things. Victoria Coren likes to play up the idea of herself as a drunk in comments during her introductions and asides.
Victoria Coren: "Join us again for the quiz with more twists and turns than the route from the bar to the studio. I swear they keep on adding more corners".
- Occasionally she'll add casual drug use to that. While talking about uses for Amyl Nitrate, she murmured "That's not what I use it for..."
- Nintendo Hard: Only Connect prides itself on being the toughest quiz on television.
- Red Herring: The Connection Wall will almost invariably have a couple of items that could belong to multiple themes but will only be accepted as one.
- Small Reference Pools: Inverted. There have been questions involving knowledge of everything from the Kubler-Ross model of grief and the odes of John Keats to the creator of Beavis and Butthead, the Twilight novels, and types of Pokémon.
- This kind of behaviour is actively encouraged on the website's "Create Your Own Connecting Wall" feature.
- Take That, Critics!: In the first three series the teams chose from sets of clues identified by Greek letters. At the start of the fourth series Coren said that viewers had complained that the use of Greek letters was snobbish, pretentious and silly. She announced that the Greek letters had therefore been abolished...and invited the first team to choose an Egyptian hieroglyph.
- Wiki Walk - Word of God, courtesy of the question editor, is that this is a useful tool for question writing Only Connect questions. Complete with a link to the relevant Xkcd strip. That Other Wiki, however, is not accepted as a credible source for OC question writers.