30 Real Trivial Pursuit Questions You Need to Be a Genius to Answer Correctly
You'll have to be more than a trivia master to ace these questions.
Long before bars started offering the now-ubiquitous trivia nights—and, more recently, online trivia leagues gained in popularity—if you wanted to know how your knowledge of random facts stacked up against others, you did one thing: You cracked open a box of Trivial Pursuit, one of the greatest board games ever invented. Invented in 1981, it’s been one of the most successful games of all time, spawning countless editions and niche spin-offs (see: Stars Wars Trivial Pursuit, Book Lovers Trivial Pursuit, World of Harry Potter Ultimate Edition Trivial Pursuit, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum).
Because we’re lovers of great trivia—whether you’re talking fun facts, random facts, animal facts, and facts so mind-blowing they’ll literally make you say, “OMG!”—we picked up the 1991 to 2016 edition of the legendary game and read every card to see which questions left us well and truly stumped. Here they are, with equal representation from each of the six categories: geography, entertainment, history, art and literature, science and nature, and sports and leisure. So read on to see if you’re smarter than we are!
Question: Which Renaissance artist liked to pump iron by lifting weights, and was strong enough to bend an iron horseshoe with his bare hands?
Who knew that one of the most famous artists of all time possessed so much brute strength?
Answer: Leonardo da Vinci
Fun fact: According to Italian Biographer Giorgio Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci was not only incredibly strong but he was also very, very good-looking.
Question: In Egyptian hieroglyphs, the symbol of a decorated eye most commonly represents the Eye of which god?
If you’ve ever taken a trip to Egypt, you’ll notice that these hieroglyphs are present on a many ancient structures.
Question: Alfred Nobel, father of the Nobel Peace Prize, made his fortune with the invention of which powerful tool?
Hint: his invention, posed in this Trivial Pursuit question, was explosive in the field.
Aside from being a famous engineer and inventor, Alfred Nobel also “experimented with different techniques for blasting rocks,” according to the folks at nobelprize.org.
Question: Which lake in Central Asia, once the fourth-largest in the world, has shrunk by 90 percent because of drought and diversion of the rivers that once fed it?
The lake has now turned into a graveyard for the various ships that once navigated its waters.
Answer: Aral Sea
Once one of the largest lakes in the world, the Aral Sea has been slowly drained of its water since the 1960s when the rivers that fed it were diverted for a Soviet project.
Question: Which forward-thinking Russian ruler taxed any citizen with a beard, because being clean-shaven was all the rage in Europe in 1698?
If you had a beard in the 15th century, you paid for that beauty statement.
Answer: Peter the Great
But, according to Smithsonian magazine, Peter the Great wasn’t the only ruler to establish a beard tax, as England’s Henry VII did the same.
Question: Which African American slave is recognized for playing a pivotal role in the construction of the nation’s Capitol?
This slave one of the nation’s foremost master craftsmans.
Answer: Philip Reid
Philip Reid was a master craftsman and the foreman in the casting of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol building.
Question: Which North African stew is also the name of the dish it is cooked in?
Name this Moroccan dish.
Also known as tajine, this dish is a slow-cooked stew with meat, vegetables, and fruit.
Question: Who was Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1992 presidential election?
His name is quite cinematic.
Answer: Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale
Stockdale and Perot received one of the best showings by an Independent ticket in American history, receiving 19 percent of the vote.
Question: Which form of entertainment was deemed free speech after the 2011 Supreme Court case Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association?
Hint: it requires two thumbs.
Answer: Video games
In this case, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that banned the sale of violent video games to kids without parental supervision, claiming that video games are a form of free speech and cannot be restricted.
Question: Which football coach of the Fighting Irish was Joe Montana’s roommate at Notre Dame?
These two shared a love of football from an early point in their lives.
Answer: Charlie Weis
Weis’ last coaching stint was at the University of Kansas, where he was eventually fired in 2014 for a lack of progress on the field.
Question: Edison’s Electric Pen became the inspiration for which modern-day tool?
Thomas Edison accidentally aided in the invention of a counterculture movement.
Answer: Electric tattoo gun
Samuel O’Reilly, in 1891, upon discovering that Edison’s electric pen could be modified to introduce ink to the skin, patented a tube and needle to provide an ink reservoir.
Question: Who was the first major author to read his own work in public for profit?
Now, nearly every successful author has read their work out loud for a profit.
Answer: Charles Dickens
The first author’s tour was his 1842 Reading Tour.
Question: Which online retail giant’s first URL was Relentless.com?
This proves to be one of the tougher Trivial Pursuit questions on the list. Here’s a hint: One could say that their dominance in the field is relentless.
When you type in the web address, it still redirects to Amazon’s site.
Question: What “leggy” cluster of space dust in the Taurus constellation is the remains of a star that exploded in 1054?
Named after its apparent resemblance to this animal.
Answer: Crab nebula
This nebula is approximately 6,300 light years from Earth.
Question: Dedicated to having modernized, nerdy fun in the Middle Ages, the SCA acronym stands for the “Society for Creative” what?
You might have seen a recreation of a battle like this one, pictured above.
This living history group aims to study and recreate Medieval European cultures before the 17th century.
Question: Which plant does Gilroy, California, celebrate every summer during a three-day festival?
Since 1979, this festival has displayed some of the best garlic-enriched food in the country.
Question: Which depraved prisoner of the Bastille wrote the book The 120 Days of Sodom during just 37 days of his incarceration?
Perhaps one of the most prolific literary feats ever.
Answer: Marquis de Sade
Napolean Bonaparte ordered the imprisonment of Marquis de Sade for his works, Justine and Juliette, in 1801.
Question: Which international pop sensation was the drummer for the band Breakfast Club before she broke out as a solo star?
She was crazy about drumming before she achieved international stardom.
Dan Gilroy was Madonna’s boyfriend for a while, and let her sing lead vocals in his band for a short time while they were dating.
Question: Before Hollywood, which New Jersey town was a center for the motion picture industry?
The mecca of the entertainment industry used to reside much further east.
Answer: Fort Lee
Fort Lee, New Jersey, right outside New York City, was the birthplace of American filmmaking.
Question: Which British pottery maker was Charles Darwin’s uncle, who helped his nephew get a job as a naturalist on the ship, the Beagle?
Unless you’re into pottery, you probably weren’t even aware of this man’s existence.
Answer: Josiah Wedgwood II
His uncle was also a member of Parliament.
Question: How many secretaries did Don Draper of Mad Men employ in his seven seasons on the air—three, six, or nine?
Either way, that’s some high turnover.
Throughout six-and-a-half seasons, the ad exec went through nearly two digits’ worth of secretaries.
Question: Who omitted the letter “X” from his 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, claiming that no English words began with it?
He must have forgotten about Xylophones and the other 43 Words That Start with “X.”
Answer: Samuel Johnson
He was also an accomplished essayist and novelist in the Victorian era.
Question: Which American singer-songwriter co-wrote Grammy-winning song “Dance With My Father” with Luther Vandross?
He is one of the most prolific songwriters of our generation.
Answer: Richard Marx
Richard Marx has produced hits like “Endless Summer Nights,” “Now and Forever,” and “This I Promise You.”
Question: Which South American desert is one of the driest places on Earth, never having recorded a single drop of rain?
Sure, the Sahara is dry, but it doesn’t come close to the harsh conditions of this desert.
This plateau in South America is the driest desert in the entire world.
Question: Which EPCOT ride featured a 3D sci-fi musical that stars Michael Jackson as the lead?
Unless you’ve been to EPCOT, you’ve probably never even heard of this Michael Jackson–themed ride.
Answer: Captain EO
Captain EO was actually a science-fiction film written by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and was shown at Disney theme parks between 1986 and 1996.
Question: What creator of a classic sci-fi television series was a World War II pilot who won the Distinguished Service Cross?
He created the original Star Trek series.
Answer: Gene Roddenberry
He became the first TV writer to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Question: Which med student’s travels, before he became a Marxist icon, are celebrated in the 2004 Oscar-winning film The Motorcycle Diaries?
Hint: his beret is also infamous.
Answer: Che Guevara
His portrait has become a symbol of rebellion in popular culture.
Question: Which 30-mile-long aqueduct spans a river canyon on a three-story bridge over the river Gard near Nimes, France?
It remains one of the most scenic aqueducts in the world.
Answer: Pont du Gard
This Roman aqueduct was built to bring water to the town of Nimes, and is the highest of all elevated aqueducts in the world.
Question: Name two of the three horse races that make up the Triple Crown.
Hint: one of them is the most popular American pastime.
Answer: Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes
The Triple Crown is awarded to a three-year-old thoroughbred who wins all three races.
Question: What is the longest continuously held sporting event in the United States?
And no, it’s not baseball.
Answer: Kentucky Derby
For every year since 1875, the Kentucky Derby has maintained its position as America’s oldest past-time.
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