The ‘Moops’ Argument From ‘Seinfeld’ Was Based on a Real Board Game Screwup

But ‘Trivial Pursuit’ wasn’t to blame
The ‘Moops’ Argument From ‘Seinfeld’ Was Based on a Real Board Game Screwup

One of Seinfeld’s very best episodes found the gang ditching New York City and venturing upstate for a weekend at Susan’s father’s cabin. Along the way, they stop over at a nondescript small town to visit a “Bubble Boy” on his birthday — although he turns out to be a vulgar young man (voiced by adult comedian Jon Hayman) who lives behind a plastic divider due to an unspecified medical condition.

The Bubble Boy has to be rushed to the hospital after getting into a physical fight with George over a game of Trivial Pursuit. In response to the history question “Who invaded Spain in the 8th century?,” the Bubble Boy confidently answered “The Moors.” But George claimed that he was wrong, citing the answer on the card, which clearly read “The Moops.”

Despite the fact that this was obviously a misprint, George was still defending his “Moops” position years later during the events of the controversial series finale.

Larry David came up with the central plot point after reading an article about a real-life Bubble Boy, but the board game argument originated with comedian and Seinfeld writer Bill Masters. According to Larry Charles, Masters was pitching an entirely different idea, but paused to mention a board game error he once encountered. “He said, ‘And we were playing Trivial Pursuit, and the card was misprinted and it said Moops,’” Charles recalled. “We went, ‘Woah, woah, stop right there. That’s a great story.’”

“That really struck me as being very funny, and great fodder for an argument with the Bubble Boy,” David has noted.

But as Masters told the Seinfeld-themed podcast This Podcast Is Making Me Thirsty, the game in question wasn’t actually Trivial Pursuit, but rather, the 1970s home-game version of Jeopardy! And the dispute was between a husband and wife, not a bald man and a Bubble Boy. “When I was in college, we used to smoke pot and play Jeopardy,” Masters explained. “I was with a married couple, who ended up getting divorced. She said ‘Moors’ and (the answer in the booklet) was ‘Moops.’ That was actually the misprint.”

One Seinfeld fan on Reddit stumbled upon this very edition of the game, and, sure enough, the correct response to the $100 clue in the “Columbus” category is “Who are the Moops?”


Weirdly, later editions of Trivial Pursuit copped to the error that they didn’t actually make, in an entertainment question concerning the “infamous Trivial Pursuit misspelling” that became a “punch line in the ‘Bubble Boy’ episode of Seinfeld.”

The “Moops” typo has subsequently taken on a life of its own, even inspiring a minor league baseball team, the Charleston RiverDogs, to play a game as the “Charleston Moops,” complete with Trivial Pursuit-themed jerseys. 

Incidentally, the Moops jerseys worn by the players were auctioned off, with “the proceeds going to the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital in Charleston.”

So the Seinfeld episode that poked fun at a chronically ill child inadvertently ended up helping some sick kids in the end. 

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