This board game features Clue characters and gameplay that is iconic. Most of us can recall making an accusation like, “Colonel Mustard did it in the Conservatory with a revolver!
It seems everyone remembers their favorite board games when they were kids. Classics like Monopoly, Scrabble, The Game of Life, Candyland, and others stand out for being popular with generation after generation.
Let’s take a deeper dive into a game that is still a top ten bestseller today: Clue.
The game of Clue is the famous murder mystery game that has been played by families since its introduction in 1949. There isn’t a player that doesn’t enjoy the thrill of figuring out who is the perpetrator of a mysterious murder.
Clue captured the attention of game players everywhere on both sides of the Atlantic. The game had suspense, intrigue, and encouraged players to logically solve a crime. It has all of the elements of a great game and with colorful characters (literally), the game is a bonafide hit.
Nothing caught players’ imaginations like the character names. The names were designed to mimic the colors of the gameplay tokens used in the game. The original colors were white, blue, yellow, green, red, and purple. Below, you will find the original six characters and many more that have graced the game over the years.
The Clue game characters are a colorful bunch. And, while they are all characters, they are also all suspects in the game.
Here’s the overview of the CLUE characters (most of which are also on the suspects’ list):
1.) Mrs. White,
2.) Mrs. Peacock,
3.) Professor Plum,
4.) Colonel Mustard,
5.) Miss Scarlett
6.) Reverend Green
7.) Mr. Boddy
Here are some more details on each, plus some other characters:
Mrs. White and Dr. Orchid
Originally named Nurse White, her character was changed from a nurse to a cook. She toiled away in the kitchen of the mansion. One of the rooms where the murder could have taken place. She was shown as middle-aged in this version of the character. But in the 1980s her character was changed to a young maid.
In 2016, the creators of Clue opted to update the role of Mrs. White, a domestic worker and cook. In her place: Dr. Orchid, a biologist with a Ph.D. The backstory: she is the adopted daughter of Samuel Black, the mansion’s owner.
She is a very dignified, elegant character who commands the room with her presence. In the original version, she even wore a tiara to further enforce her royal-like appearance.
He is often portrayed as a youngish or middle-aged intellectual who uses his wits and knowledge to solve crimes. Usually shown wearing a bow tie and glasses, in the 1990s his occupation was changed to Archeologist.
His original name was Colonel Yellow, it was changed to make a military figure not look like a coward. He is portrayed as the “great white hunter,” very dangerous and cunning relying on his military training. In later versions of the game, he is depicted in a more cartoonish vein as a bit of a bumbler.
A more recent backstory casts Miss Scarlet as the daughter of Mrs. Peacock. Originally, she was an attractive blond Caucasian but was re-designed as an Asian Femme Fatal in the 1970s. Wearing a black dress and smoking a cigarette with a cigarette holder, she was a little too stereotypical. She was finally recast as a brunette in the U.S. version and a famous actress in the UK version.
The last of the original six characters in the English version of the game. The good Reverend was the vicar of a village near Tudor Close. A plump middle-aged man of the cloth who wore the white color of a vicar. In the United States, his name was changed to Mr. Green. Parker Brothers didn’t think it would be appropriated to have a reverend involved as a possible murderer.
This was the name of the hapless victim in every murder mystery in the English version of Clue. This game took place in a mansion named Tudor Close which was owned by Doctor Black.
This was the name of the hapless victim in every murder mystery in the United States version. Mr. Boddy was a play on words since it was his body that was always found murdered. He is also the owner of Boddy Mansion (also referred to as Tudor Mansion) where the American version of the game takes place.
The names listed above are the original Clue game characters.
Mrs. Silver, Mr. Brown, Miss Grey, and Mr. Gold
All proposed as original characters but rejected from the original version of the game.
The character of Mrs. White, now elevated to the housekeeper, has been replaced by a new character, Doctor Orchid. She is a female scientist who becomes the first female Clue Character with an outside occupation. (Mrs. White worked for Doctor Black within Tudor Mansion). Doctor Orchid is the adopted daughter of Doctor Black and heir to the Black fortune.
History of the Clue Board Game – Origin
The 1930s and 1940s were known as the golden age for British crime novels. Often, over 10% of all new books published during this period were murder mysteries. The immense popularity of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and other books by Agatha Christie fueled the public’s appetite.
Clue Game Inventor
A gentleman named Anthony E. Pratt took notice of this and decided to create a board game. Pratt, a musician by trade, lived in Birmingham, England.
Of course, the game would be a murder mystery game. This was the end of World War II and Britain had been devastated by the German bombing. But before the war, Pratt and his friends would play a murder mystery game at cocktail parties. Pratt enlisted the help of his wife Elva and they dove into a game they would name simply: Murder!
The decision was made to place the game in a mansion and create characters for the guest list. There would most certainly be a murder to solve and it would occur in one of the rooms. By 1944, the Pratts had a working prototype and applied for a patent. The patent was granted in 1947.
A good friend of theirs named Geoffrey Bull had created a pirate-themed game called Buccaneer and had licensed it to Waddingtons. Waddingtons had introduced England to Monopoly. Bull arranged a meeting between the Pratts and Waddingtons. Managing Director of Waddingtons, Mr. Norman Watson, liked the game and agreed to publish it.
Watson wanted to make a few changes though. First, the name Murder, Watson thought this name was too off-putting and suggested the name Cluedo. It was a combination of the words Clue and “ludo” Latin for “I play.” The original mansion had a gun room and that was axed. In addition, secret passageways were added to allow quicker travel between rooms in the mansion.
Material shortages and difficulties from the war delayed the sales of the first edition of Cluedo in England until 1949. By this time, the game (now called Clue, with the tag line “The Great New Detective Game”) had already made its debut earlier in 1949 in North America courtesy of Parker Brothers.
However, it wasn’t an easy sell. George Parker, one of the founders, had a hard and fast rule not to publish any games about murder. But the game was so engaging that Parker Brothers’ president Robert Barton convinced Parker to produce the game. The rest is history, Clue has been on the Parker Brothers bestseller list since 1949.
The objective of the Game of Clue
The objective of the Clue Boardgame is deceptively simple. Players knew that Doctor Black or Mr. Boddy was the murder victim in each edition of the game. But they needed to solve where the murder was committed (which room), who was the murderer, and what was the weapon.
Weapons in Clue Game
In Clue, the original weapons include:
1.) A knife,
6.) and lead pipe.
These game pieces in clue evolved as the lead pipe, revolver, and wrench were later substituted for a dumbbell, a trophy, and poison.
In Cluedo, the original weapons were a dagger, revolver, rope, spanner, candlestick, and lead pipe.
Rooms in Clue Game
The rooms in the traditional CLUE game are:
1.) Ball Room,
2.) Billiard Room,
4.) Dining Room,
8.) Library, and
Each of the four corner rooms has a secret passageway. These passageways connect the Kitchen to the Study, and the Lounge to the Conservatory diagonally.
Rooms in Cluedo
1.) Ball Room,
2.) Billiard Room,
8.) Library, and
The center room, where the solution is stored during gameplay, is not active during the game.
Players first choose from one of the new six characters Doctor Orchid, Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Mrs. Peacock, and Mr. Green. Then they select the corresponding colored gameplay piece (red, blue, purple, yellow, green, and white). Then, they place it on the start square they are nearest to.
How to Play Clue
Each player takes a turn placing only one of the murder weapons in each room. The envelope labeled “Case File Confidential” is placed on the X in the center of the game board.
Three card decks Weapons, Rooms, and Suspects are shuffled and placed face down on the table. One card from each deck is placed in the envelope. The remaining cards are shuffled together and distributed to all of the players.
The players are given a sheet from the detective’s notepad and a pencil. This will allow players to keep track of clues and suspects. Miss Scarlet always starts the game by rolling the die and moving that number on the game board. You want to travel from room to room to gather information.
The flow of the game
Play continues clockwise with players rolling the die and moving from room to room. If you happen to be in a room with a secret passage, instead of rolling the die, you just have to notify everyone that you are going to use the passage.
When you are in a room, you can make a suggestion or accusation involving suspects, rooms, and weapons. You can only suggest the room you are currently in.
Once a suggestion has been made, other players will try to prove your suggestion false. The player to your left is the first to try and disprove the suggestion. If that player has any one of the three suggested cards, they can lay it down face up and the turn ends.
Play continues with players making suggestions and crossing off items on their detective’s notepad. A player tries to determine the room, weapon, and suspect. The player can then make an accusation. If correct, the player with the correct accusation wins the game. If he/she is incorrect they are out of the game except for trying to disprove suggestions.
The first player to make the correct accusation wins the game of Clue!
Legacy of the game of Clue
Clue is far more than a classic board game. It is a worldwide brand that has spawned a Movie, T.V. Show, and Musical.
In 1985, A dark comedy Clue movie was produced that followed the same formula as the board game with the plot of murder and clues throughout the film pointing to the culprit. One interesting feature of the film is there were three different endings and the audience choose which one to use.
The stage version, Clue: The Musical opened in 1995 in Baltimore. Again, following the game’s play, Mr. Boddy was murdered every night, but audience members were integral to the plot.
The audience picked out three over-sized Clue cards that determined, suspect, murder weapon, and location. Relationships between the characters were explored, songs were sung, and eventually, the real murderer was exposed.
Game Show in England
The Cluedo Game Show was a hit in England starting in 1990. Two teams of celebrities would watch as actors portrayed the classic Cluedo characters and related clues to the celebs in character. The celebrities would then try to solve the murder mystery and be the winner of the game. The show lasted for four seasons.
An electronic Clue FX Board Game featured sound effects and characters talking. It added more suspects, more and different mysteries, and promised more fun. It was not a huge hit.
Clue Video Game
A Microsoft Windows video game version was released in 1998 titled Clue: Murder at Boddy Mansion or Cluedo: Murder at Blackwell Grange. Gameplay was very similar to the board game although players could electronically keep track of clues on suspects, weapons, and locations.
Over 17 Special Editions of Clue have been introduced over the years. These editions include; Game of Thrones, The Office, Harry Potter, Disneyworld The Haunted Mansion, Legend of Zelda, Scooby-Doo, and more. Clue Junior for children was a version that appealed to the younger set and Clue Master Detective by Winning Moves promises more of everything.
A Classic Boardgame
Over the years the publishers of Clue (and Cluedo), Hasbro Games/Parker Brothers, and Waddingtons have tried to improve upon the original game. Waddingtons tried Super Cluedo without much success because it changed the way the game was played, and purists didn’t enjoy that.
As noted earlier, when Parker Brothers introduced Clue in 1949, they created the tag line “The Great New Detective Game.” In 1950, after just one year of sales, Parker Brothers made the decision to pay Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate. This rather large sum of money was paid to use the phrase “The Great New Sherlock Holmes Game.” Needless to say, this tag line didn’t last long.
Clue Game Extensions
But Hasbro Games/Parker Brothers wasn’t finished with toying around with Clue (pun intended). In 2008, they introduced Clue: Discover the Secrets Game. This was an attempt to update the game and change the characters, the surroundings, and the weapons all at the same time.
Clue: Discover the Secrets
Clue: Discover the Secrets got rid of Mr. Boddy’s staid mansion and replaced it with a hip pad in the Hollywood Hills. This set included a Spa, Swimming Pool, Movie Theater, Observatory, and more. The murder scene was a glitzy party attended by the paparazzi.
Guests included Victor Plum, a millionaire from the video game industry. Jack Mustard, a retired professional football player. Jacob Green, a Hollywood agent. Kasandra Scarlet, off course, a rising starlet. Diane White, a former child star trying to make a comeback. And Eleanor Peacock, a “Miss Manners” type of character.
Grizzly crimes were perpetrated by a serial killer (more than one murder could happen per game). Murders were committed with a baseball bat, ax, trophy, knife, pistol, poison, rope, candlestick, or dumbbell.
The game received an extremely cool reception by Clue and Cluedo aficionados worldwide. It was simply too slick, too Hollywood, and too contrived. Sometimes when you have a good thing like Clue and Cluedo, you just don’t mess with it.
The murder mystery game CLUE can be played online at kb games. This version was released in 1992.
Clue: The Office Edition Board
In this game version, Dunder Mifflin’s Michael Scott calls for a mandatory team-building exercise, where six employees must work independently to figure out who killed Toby Flenderson, with what office weapon and where.
I don’t know about you, but doesn’t Toby strike you as the perfect victim. And, is it possible to accuse Michael Scott on every turn?
By Tim Moodie
Tim Moodie is a Freelance Writer, Product Designer, and Inventor who has been in the toy and game licensing business for over 30 years. He has worked on the Wayne’s World Game for Mattel, The Hallmark Cards Game for Hasbro, The Chicken Soup for the Soul Games, The Mental Floss Game, the Top Ten Game, and more. In reference to this article, he has worked with Waddington Games, Hasbro Games, and Parker Brothers. He is still designing and developing today, has one game on the market now, and hopes to have more games on the market soon.
You’re on Clue Characters, Rooms, Rules page.
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