Jeopardy!

Jeopardy!
The text "Jeopardy!" in a stylized font
GenreGame show
Created byMerv Griffin
Directed by
  • Bob Hultgren
  • Eleanor Tarshis
  • Jeff Goldstein
  • Dick Schneider
  • Kevin McCarthy
  • Clay Jacobsen
  • Lucinda Owens Margolis
  • Russell Norman
Presented by
  • Art Fleming
  • Alex Trebek
  • Mike Richards
  • Mayim Bialik
  • Ken Jennings
Narrated by
  • Don Pardo
  • John Harlan
  • Johnny Gilbert
Theme music composer
  • Julann Griffin
  • Merv Griffin
  • Steve Kaplan
  • Chris Bell Music & Sound Design
  • Bleeding Fingers Music
Ending theme“Think!”
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons40
No. of episodes9,000
Production
Executive producers
  • Robert Rubin
  • Merv Griffin
  • Harry Friedman
  • Mike Richards
  • Michael Davies
Producersee below
Production locationsAlex Trebek Stage (formerly Stage 10) Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City
Running time22–26 minutes
Production companies
  • January Enterprises (1964–1975)
  • Califon Enterprises (1978–1979)
  • Jeopardy Productions, Inc. (1984–present)
  • Merv Griffin Productions (1964–1975, 1978–1979)
  • Merv Griffin Enterprises (1984–1994)
  • Columbia TriStar (Domestic) Television (1994–2002)
  • Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
Original release
NetworkNBC
ReleaseMarch 30, 1964 – January 3, 1975
NetworkWeekly syndication
Release1974 – 1975
NetworkNBC
ReleaseOctober 2, 1978 – March 2, 1979
NetworkDaily syndication
ReleaseSeptember 10, 1984 – present
Related
  • Jep!
  • Rock & Roll Jeopardy!
  • Sports Jeopardy!
  • Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time
  • Jeopardy! National College Championship
  • Celebrity Jeopardy!
  • Jeopardy! Masters
Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show is a quiz competition that reverses the traditional question-and-answer format of many quiz shows. Rather than being given questions, contestants are instead given general knowledge clues in the form of answers and they must identify the person, place, thing, or idea that the clue describes, phrasing each response in the form of a question. The original daytime version debuted on NBC on March 30, 1964, and aired until January 3, 1975. A nighttime syndicated edition aired weekly from September 1974 to September 1975, and a revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, ran on NBC from October 1978 to March 1979 on weekdays. The syndicated show familiar to modern viewers and aired daily (currently by Sony Pictures Television) premiered on September 10, 1984. Art Fleming served as host for all versions of the show between 1964 and 1979. Don Pardo served as announcer until 1975, and John Harlan announced for the 1978–1979 season. The daily syndicated version premiered in 1984 with Alex Trebek as host and Johnny Gilbert as announcer. Trebek hosted until his death, with his last episode airing January 8, 2021, after over 36 years in the role. Following his death, a variety of guest hosts completed the season[1] beginning with consulting producer and former contestant Ken Jennings, each hosting for a few weeks before passing the role onto someone else. Then-executive producer Mike Richards initially assumed the position of permanent host in September 2021, but relinquished the role within a week. Mayim Bialik and Jennings served as permanent rotating hosts of the syndicated series until December 2023, when Jennings became the sole syndicated host. While Bialik was originally arranged to host additional primetime specials on ABC, and spin-offs, the announcement of Jeopardy! Masters in 2023 meant these duties were shared as well. Following Bialik’s withdrawal in part of supporting writers and actors due to the 2023 Hollywood labor disputes, Jennings assumed hosting duties for all forms of media. Currently in its 40th season, Jeopardy! is one of the longest-running game shows of all time. The show has consistently enjoyed a wide viewership and received many accolades from professional television critics. With over 8,000 episodes aired, the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has won a record 39 Daytime Emmy Awards as well as a Peabody Award. In 2013, the program was ranked No. 45 on TV Guides list of the 60 greatest shows in American television history. Jeopardy! has also gained a worldwide following with regional adaptations in many other countries.

Gameplay

Each game of Jeopardy! features three contestants competing in three rounds: Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy!, and Final Jeopardy! In each round, contestants are presented trivia clues phrased as answers, to which they must respond in the form of a question that correctly identifies whatever the clue is describing. For example, if a contestant were to select “Presidents for $200”, the resulting clue could be “This ‘Father of Our Country’ didn’t really chop down a cherry tree”, to which the correct response is “Who is/was George Washington?”
A depiction of the Jeopardy! game board
The layout of the Jeopardy! game board since November 26, 2001, showing the dollar values used in the first round (in the second round, the values are doubled). Categories at the top of the board vary between each round and episode.
The Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy! rounds each feature large electronic game boards consisting of six categories with five clues each. The clues are valued by dollar amounts from lowest to highest, ostensibly by difficulty. The values of the clues increased over time, with those in the Double Jeopardy! round always being double the range of the Jeopardy! round. On the original Jeopardy! series, clue values in the first round ranged from $10 to $50 in the Jeopardy! round and $20 to $100 in Double Jeopardy! On The All-New Jeopardy!, they ranged from $25 to $125 and $50 to $250. The 1984 series’ first round originally ranged from $100 to $500 in Jeopardy! and $200 to $1,000 in Double Jeopardy! These ranges were increased to $200–$1,000 and $400–$2,000, respectively, on November 26, 2001. Gameplay begins when the returning champion (or in Tournament of Champions play, the highest seeded player, or in all tournaments’ second or first leg of final round play, or in the second leg of a two-legged tie, the player in the lead after the first leg, the player with the highest score in the previous round) selects a clue by indicating its category and dollar value on the game board. The two (or if there is no returning champion, three) challengers, or in non-Tournament of Champions play, first round tournament contestants, participate in a random draw prior to taping to determine contestant order, and if there is no returning champion or in first round play of regular tournaments, the contestant who drew the first lectern starts first. The underlying clue is revealed and read aloud by the host, after which any contestant may ring in using a lock-out device. The first contestant to ring in successfully is prompted to respond to the clue by stating a question containing the correct answer to the clue. Any grammatically coherent question with the correct answer within it counts as a correct response. If the contestant responds correctly, its dollar value is added to the contestant’s score, and they may select a new clue from the board. An incorrect response or a failure to respond within five seconds deducts the clue’s value from the contestant’s score and allows the other contestants the opportunity to ring in and respond. If the response is not technically incorrect but otherwise judged too vague to be correct, the contestant is given additional time to provide a more specific response. Whenever none of the contestants ring in and respond correctly, the host gives the correct response, and the player who selected the previous clue chooses the next clue. Gameplay continues until the board is cleared or the round’s time length expires, which is typically indicated by a beeping sound. The contestant who has the lowest score selects the first clue to start the Double Jeopardy! round. If there is a tie for the contestant with the lowest score, the contestant with the last correct question among the tied players will select first in the round, a rule change since season 38 (2021) and made public on an August 2022 show podcast. A “Daily Double” clue is hidden behind one clue in the Jeopardy! round, and two in Double Jeopardy! The name and inspiration were taken from a horse-racing term. Daily Double clues with a sound component are known as “Audio Daily Doubles”, and clues with a video component are known as “Video Daily Doubles”. Before the clue is revealed, the contestant who has selected the Daily Double must declare a wager, from a minimum of $5 to a maximum of their entire score (known as a “true Daily Double”) or the highest clue value available in the round, whichever is greater. Only the contestant who chooses the Daily Double is allowed to answer the clue and they must provide a response. A correct response adds the value of the wager to the contestant’s score while an incorrect response (or failure to provide any response at all) deducts the same value. Whether or not the contestant responds correctly, they choose the next clue. During the Jeopardy! round, contestants are not penalized for forgetting to phrase their response in the form of a question, although the host will remind them to watch their phrasing in future responses if they do. In the Double Jeopardy! round and in the Daily Double in the Jeopardy! round, the phrasing rule is followed more strictly, with a response only able to be ruled as correct if it is phrased properly in question form. A contestant who initially does not phrase a response in the form of a question must re-phrase it before the host rules against them. Contestants are encouraged to select the clues in order from lowest to highest value, as the clues are sometimes written in each category to flow from one to the next, as is the case with game shows that ask questions in a linear string. Deviating from this is known as the “Forrest Bounce”, a strategy in which contestants randomly pick clues to confuse opponents that was first used in 1985 by Chuck Forrest, who won over $70,000 in his initial run as champion. Trebek expressed that this strategy not only annoyed him but the staffers as well since it also disrupts the rhythm that develops when revealing the clues and increases the potential for error. Another strategy used by some contestants is to play all of the higher-valued clues first and build up a substantial lead, starting at the bottom of the board. James Holzhauer, whose April–June 2019 winning streak included the ten highest single-day game totals, regularly used this strategy, in conjunction with the Forrest Bounce and aggressive Daily Double wagering. From the premiere of the original Jeopardy! until the end of the 1984–85 syndicated season, contestants were allowed to ring in as soon as the clue was revealed. Since September 1985, contestants have been required to wait until the clue is read before ringing in. To accommodate the rule change, lights were added to the game board (unseen by home viewers) to signify when it is permissible for contestants to signal. Attempting to signal before the light goes on locks the contestant out for half of a second. The change was made to allow the home audience to play along more easily and to keep an extremely fast contestant from potentially dominating the game. In pre-1985 episodes, a sound accompanied a contestant ringing in. According to Trebek, the sound was eliminated because it was “distracting to the viewers” and presented a problem when contestants rang in while Trebek was still reading the clue. Contestants who are visually impaired or blind have been given a card with the category names printed in Braille before each round begins. To ensure fairness in competition and accuracy in scores, the judges double-check their own rulings throughout the production of each episode. If it is determined at any point that a previous response was wrongly ruled correct or incorrect during the taping of an episode, the scores are adjusted at the first available opportunity, typically either at the start of the next round/segment or immediately after a Daily Double is found, with the host providing any necessary explanation regarding the changes. If an error that may have affected the result is not discovered until after taping of an episode is completed, the affected contestant(s) are invited back to compete on a future show, complying with federal quiz show regulations. However, this is rare, as most errors are found in the course of an episode’s taping itself. Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative score are automatically eliminated from the game at that point and awarded a consolation prize. On at least one episode hosted by Art Fleming, all three contestants finished Double Jeopardy! with $0 or less, and as a result, no Final Jeopardy! round was played. This rule is still in place for the syndicated version, although staff has suggested that it is not set in stone and they may decide to display the clue for home viewers’ play if such a situation were ever to occur.

Final Jeopardy!

The Final Jeopardy! round features a single clue. At the end of the Double Jeopardy! round, the host announces the Final Jeopardy! category and a commercial break follows. Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with less than $1 do not participate in this round. During the break, partitions are placed between the contestant lecterns, and each contestant makes a final wager; they may wager any amount of their earnings, but may not wager certain numbers with connotations that are deemed inappropriate. Contestants write their wagers using a light pen on an electronic display on their lectern, and are limited to five minutes (although the limit may be adjusted if production issues delay the resumption of taping). During this time, contestants also phrase the question, which is pre-written during the wager. After the break, the Final Jeopardy! clue is revealed and read by the host. The contestants have 30 seconds to write their responses on the electronic display, while the show’s “Think!” music plays. If either the display or the pen malfunctions, contestants can manually write their responses and wagers using an index card and marker, although the index card has the required phrasing pre-printed on each side (“Who/What”). Visually impaired or blind contestants typically type their responses and wagers with a computer keyboard. Contestants’ responses are revealed in order of their pre-Final Jeopardy! scores from lowest to highest. Once a correct response is revealed the host confirms it. Otherwise, the host reveals the correct response if all contestants responded incorrectly. A correct response adds the amount of the contestant’s wager to their score. A miss, failure to respond, insufficiently specific response, misspelling that affects the pronunciation of the answer, or failure to phrase the response as a question (even if correct) deducts it. The contestant with the highest score at the end of the round is that day’s winner. If there is a tie for second place, consolation prizes are awarded based on the scores going into the Final Jeopardy! round. If all three contestants finish with $0, if the game does not require a winner, no one returns as champion for the next show, and based on scores going into the Final Jeopardy! round, the two contestants who were first and second receive the second-place prize, and the contestant in third receives the third-place prize. If the game requires a winner (as in tournament play), the tiebreaker will be used. Various researchers have studied Final Jeopardy! wagering strategies. If the leader’s score is more than twice the second place contestant’s score (a situation known as a “runaway game”), the leader can guarantee victory by making a sufficiently small wager. Otherwise, according to Jeopardy! College Champion Keith Williams, the leader usually wagers an amount that would be a dollar greater than twice the second place contestant’s score, guaranteeing a win with a correct response. Writing about Jeopardy! wagering in the 1990s, mathematicians George Gilbert and Rhonda Hatcher said that “most players wager aggressively.”

Winnings

The top scorer in each game is paid their winnings in cash and returns to play in the next match. Non-winners receive consolation prizes instead of their winnings in the game. Since May 16, 2002, consolation prizes have been awarded in cash — $2,000 for the second-place contestant(s) and $1,000 for the third-place contestant. Since travel and lodging are generally not provided for contestants, cash consolation prizes offset these costs. Production covers the cost of travel for returning champions and players invited back because of errors who must make multiple trips to Los Angeles. Production also covers the cost of travel if a tournament travels (does not stay in Los Angeles) on the second week. Starting in Season 40, according to the official podcast in August 2023, as a result of inflation, consolation prizes were raised $1,000 each to $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third. During Art Fleming’s hosting run, all three contestants received their winnings in cash where applicable. This was changed at the start of Trebek’s hosting run to avoid the problem of contestants who stopped participating in the game, or avoided wagering in Final Jeopardy!, rather than risk losing the money they had already won. This also allowed the increase to clue values since only one contestant’s score is paid instead of three. From 1984 to 2002, non-winning contestants on the Trebek version received vacation packages and merchandise, which were donated by manufacturers as promotional consideration. Since 2004, a presenting sponsor has provided cash prizes to the losing contestants.

Returning champions

The winner of each episode returns to compete against two new contestants on the next episode. Originally, a contestant who won five consecutive days retired undefeated and was guaranteed a spot in the Tournament of Champions. The five-day limit was eliminated September 8, 2003. In rare instances, contestants tie for first place. The rules related to ties have changed over time. Since November 24, 2014, ties for first place following Final Jeopardy! are broken with a tie-breaker clue, resulting in only one champion being named, keeping their winnings, and returning to compete in the next show. The tied contestants are given the single clue, and the first contestant to buzz-in must give the correct question. A contestant cannot win by default if the opponent gives an incorrect question or forgets to phrase the response as a question (even if correct). The contestant must give a correct question to win the game. If neither player gives the correct question, another clue is given. Previously, if two or all three contestants tied for first place, they were declared “co-champions”, and each retained his or her winnings and (unless one was a five-time champion who retired prior to 2003) returned on the following episode. A tie occurred on the January 29, 2014, episode when Arthur Chu, leading at the end of Double Jeopardy!, wagered to tie challenger Carolyn Collins rather than winning. Chu followed Jeopardy! College Champion Keith Williams’s advice to wager for the tie to increase the leader’s chances of winning. A three-way (non-zero) tie for first place has only occurred once on the syndicated version hosted by Trebek, on March 16, 2007, when Scott Weiss, Jamey Kirby, and Anders Martinson all ended the game with $16,000. Until March 1, 2018, no regular game had ended in a tie-breaker. If no contestant finishes Final Jeopardy! with a positive total, and the game does not have a provision that the game must have a winner, as in the case of tournaments, there is no winner and three new contestants compete on the next episode. This has happened on several episodes, including the second episode hosted by Trebek. A winner unable to return as champion because of a change in personal circumstances – for example, illness or a job offer – may be allowed to appear as a co-champion (now a rare occurrence since the co-champion rule was disestablished in early Season 31) in a later episode. From midway into Season 38 until the end of Season 39, Johnny Gilbert announces the names of the next two contestants on the following episode at the end of each episode.

Variations for tournament play

Throughout each season, Jeopardy! features various special tournaments for particular groups, including among others college students, teenagers, and teachers. Each year at the Tournament of Champions, the players who had won the most games and money in the previous season come back to compete against each other for a large cash prize. Tournaments generally feature 15 contestants and run for 10 consecutive episodes. They generally take place across three rounds: the quarterfinal round (five games), the semifinal round (three games), and the final round (two games). The first five episodes, the quarterfinals, feature three new contestants each day. Other than in the Tournament of Champions, the quarterfinals are unseeded and contestants participate in a random draw to determine playing order and lectern positions over the course of the five games. The Tournament of Champions is seeded based on total winnings in regular games to determine playing order and lectern positions, with the top five players occupying the champion’s lectern for the quarterfinal games. Since the removal of the five-game limit in regular gameplay, in the unlikely case of a tie in total winnings between two Tournament of Champions players, the player who won the most games receives the higher seed. If still tied, seeding is determined by comparing the tied players’ aggregate Double Jeopardy! and (if still tied) Jeopardy! round scores. The winners of the five quarterfinal games and the four highest-scoring non-winners (“wild cards”) advance to the semifinals, which run for three days. The semifinals are seeded with the quarterfinal winners being seeded 1–5 based on their quarterfinal scores, and the wild cards being seeded 6–9. The winners of the quarterfinal games with the three highest scores occupy the champion’s lectern for the semifinals. The winners of the three semifinal games advance to play in a two-game final match, in which the scores from both games are combined to determine the overall standings. This format has been used since the first Tournament of Champions in 1985 and was devised by Trebek himself. To prevent later contestants from playing to beat the earlier wild card scores instead of playing to win, contestants are “completely isolated from the studio until it is their time to compete”. If none of the contestants in a standard 15-player tournament format quarterfinal end with a positive score, no contestant automatically qualifies from that game, and an additional wild card contestant advances instead. This occurred in the quarterfinals of the 1991 Seniors Tournament and the semifinals of the 2013 Teen Tournament, where the rule was in effect during the semifinals, but after that tournament the rule has changed for semifinals and finals. As the players are not isolated during the semifinals the way they are during the quarterfinals, show officials discovered a flaw after the 2013 Teen Tournament, because the triple zero loss happened in the second semifinal that allowed the third semifinal of the 2013 Teen Tournament to be played differently from the first (which was played before the triple zero loss). Starting with the 2013 Tournament of Champions, semifinal games, like the two-game finals, must have a winner. Players who participate in Final Jeopardy! will participate in the standard tie-breaker, regardless of the score being zero or a positive score. Similarly, if all three players have a zero score at the end of a two-game match, a normal tournament finals format will proceed to a tie-breaker. In a tournament format where a player must win multiple games to win the tournament, such as the 2020 Greatest of All Time or 2022 Tournament of Champions, or in the quarterfinals of tournaments without wild cards where a player must win the game to advance (21 or 27 players), the tie-breaker will be used regardless of the score being zero or positive for players to win the game and either advance to the next round or receive the point towards winning the tournament. That was confirmed during the Season 40 Champions Wildcard Tournament, when during a post-match interview posted on the show’s Web site, host Ken Jennings noted if there was a triple-zero score loss in a tournament match that requires a winner, the tiebreaker will be used.[46] In the standard tournament finals format, contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with a $0 or negative score on either day do not play Final Jeopardy! that day. Their score for that leg is recorded as $0.

Conception and development

The text "Jeopardy!" in a stylized font with staggered letters
Logo for the original “Jeopardy!” (1964–1975)
In a 1963 Associated Press profile released shortly before the original Jeopardy! series premiered, Merv Griffin offered the following account of how he created the quiz show:
My wife Julann just came up with the idea one day when we were in a plane bringing us back to New York City from Duluth. I was mulling over game show ideas, when she noted that there had not been a successful ‘question and answer’ game on the air since the quiz show scandals. Why not do a switch, and give the answers to the contestant and let them come up with the question? She fired a couple of answers to me: “5,280”—and the question of course was ‘How many feet in a mile?’. Another was ’79 Wistful Vista’; that was Fibber and Mollie McGee’s address. I loved the idea, went straight to NBC with the idea, and they bought it without even looking at a pilot show.
Griffin’s first conception of the game used a board comprising ten categories with ten clues each, but after finding that this board could not easily be shown on camera, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories. He originally intended requiring grammatically correct phrasing (e.g., only accepting “Who is…” for a person), but after finding that grammatical correction slowed the game down, he decided to accept any correct response that was in question form. Griffin discarded his initial title of What’s the Question? when skeptical network executive Ed Vane rejected his original concept of the game, claiming, “It doesn’t have enough jeopardies.” The format of giving contestants the answers and requiring the questions had previously been used by the Gil Fates-hosted program CBS Television Quiz, which aired from July 1941 until May 1942.

Personnel

Hosts

Art Fleming was the original host of the show throughout both NBC runs and its brief weekly syndicated run, between 1964 and 1979. Alex Trebek served as host of the daily syndicated version from its premiere in 1984 until his death in 2020, except when he switched places with Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak as an April Fool’s joke on April 1, 1997. On a Fox News program in July 2018, Trebek said the odds of his retirement in 2020 were 50/50 “and a little less”. He added that he might continue if he’s “not making too many mistakes” but would make an “intelligent decision” as to when he should give up the emcee role. In November 2018, Trebek renewed his contract as host through 2022, stating in January 2019 that the work schedule consisting of 46 taping sessions each year was still manageable for a man of his age. On March 6, 2019, Trebek announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer (a disease from which Fleming also died on April 25, 1995). In a prepared video statement announcing his diagnosis, Trebek noted that his prognosis was poor but that he would aggressively fight the cancer in hopes of beating the odds and would continue hosting Jeopardy! for as long as he was able, joking that his contract obligated him to do so for three more years regardless of health. Trebek was still serving as host, having taped his last episode on October 29, 2020, for an intended Christmas Day broadcast, when contingency plans were made for him to miss the next taping, scheduled for November 9–10, 2020. In an October 13, 2022, interview for New York magazine’s Vulture section, Ken Jennings noted supervising producers Lisa Broffman and Rocky Schmidt had named him interim host for that taping and remembered his last conversation with Trebek days before rehearsal was to commence.
I was scheduled to come into the studio to rehearse for some games; even if Alex bounced back as he had before, he wanted somebody to fill in for him for a little while. A producer set up a call, and his voice was notably weaker than we’d ever heard it on the air, which really struck me at first. It was a tough moment. But once you got over the timbre of the voice, he was still very much Alex — going down conversational side paths about old movies he liked. At one point, he started talking about tennis players he compared to various Jeopardy! champions. But the thing that stuck with me is he thanked me for coming in to fill in for him. That just broke me. I said, “Alex, are you kidding? We should be thanking you. I’d take a bullet for you, Alex. I’m happy to help.”
— Ken Jennings, on the phone call by producers between him and Alex Trebek on November 6, 2020.
  In an August 2, 2023, podcast by Sony Pictures Television and Sony Music, This is Jeopardy!: The Story of America’s Favorite Quiz Show, supervising producer Lisa Broffman noted the rehearsal for Jennings was scheduled November 8, 2020, but cancelled when Rocky Schmidt gave staff the news Alex Trebek had died that day.
We had planned on having Ken (Jennings) come in to rehearse on November 8th, 2020. So we had a crew in, and that morning, (supervising producer) Rocky Schmidt called me and said, “He’s gone.” So we canceled the rehearsal day.
— Lisa Broffman, supervising producer
  At the time of Trebek’s death, producers publicly declined to discuss any plans to introduce his successor while stating that they had enough new episodes with Trebek as host to run through Christmas Day, even though the show’s official podcast in 2023 admitted Ken Jennings was officially scheduled as interim host, with his first taping cancelled on the news of Trebek’s death. On November 9, 2020, the first episode to air after Trebek’s death, executive producer Mike Richards paid tribute to Trebek, after a few seconds of silence where the lights on the Jeopardy! set (which had been set up for Jennings to host before Trebek’s death) slowly dimmed. That episode, as well as subsequent episodes that aired after Trebek’s death, also included a dedication screen at the end of the credits through the remainder of the season. To compensate for concerns over pre-emptions caused by holiday week specials and sports, Sony announced on November 23, 2020, that the air dates of Trebek’s final week were postponed, with episodes scheduled for the week of December 21–25 being postponed to January 4–8, 2021. Reruns of episodes in which Trebek recorded clues on location aired from December 21, 2020, to January 1, 2021, before his final episodes aired January 4–8, 2021. Jennings took over hosting when production resumed on November 30, 2020, three weeks after he had been scheduled to host. The six weeks of episodes began airing January 11, 2021. Sony announced the hosts would come from “within the Jeopardy! family”. Between January and February 2021, additional guest hosts were announced, including executive producer Mike Richards; television news personalities Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Savannah Guthrie, Sanjay Gupta, and Anderson Cooper; athlete Aaron Rodgers; talk show host Mehmet Oz; and actress Mayim Bialik. An April 2021 announcement listed the final group of guest hosts, including: television news personalities George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts; Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton; Squawk on the Street co-host David Faber; and Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck. In addition, Buzzy Cohen, the 2017 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions winner, hosted the 2021 Tournament of Champions. On August 11, 2021, it was announced that Richards would succeed Trebek as host of the daily show and Bialik would host Jeopardy! primetime specials and spin-offs. On August 20, 2021, following a report from The Ringer exposing controversial remarks made on his podcast in the past, resurfaced controversies from Richards’s time on The Price Is Right, and accusations of self-dealing regarding his executive producer position, Richards stepped down as host after taping the first week of episodes while remaining executive producer, before being dismissed from the latter role on August 31. Richards’s five episodes as host aired in September 2021. Bialik and Jennings then alternated hosting the show for the rest of season 38, through the end of July 2022. Bialik also hosted the season’s various tournaments and primetime specials. In July 2022, it was announced that Bialik and Jennings would continue splitting hosting duties for the 39th season of the syndicated version. Jennings would also host the Tournament of Champions and the new Second Chance Tournament, while Bialik would also again host primetime specials and spinoffs, including a new celebrity edition of Jeopardy!, which premiered in September 2022. However, in January 2023, ABC announced Jennings would host a Jeopardy! Masters spinoff, indicating a change of arrangement. In May 2023, Bialik opted not to host the final episodes of the season in support of writers during the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike, with Jennings stepping in to host the remaining episodes. Bialik formally went on strike with her union, SAG-AFTRA, shortly thereafter, precluding her from hosting the program during the course of the strike. It was later announced that Jennings would host the second season of the new celebrity edition. In December 2023, after the strike was resolved, Sony announced that Jennings would remain the sole host of the syndicated series permanently, noting that it was still open to having Bialik host the prime time specials.

Announcers

Don Pardo held the role of announcer on the NBC version and weekly syndicated version, while John Harlan replaced him for The All-New Jeopardy! In the daily syndicated version’s first pilot, from 1983, Jay Stewart served as the announcer, but Johnny Gilbert took over the role at Trebek’s recommendation when that version was picked up as a series.

Clue Crew

The Jeopardy! Clue Crew, introduced on September 24, 2001, was a team of roving correspondents who appeared in videos, recorded around the world, to narrate some clues. Explaining why the Clue Crew was added, executive producer Harry Friedman said, “TV is a visual medium, and the more visual we can make our clues, the more we think it will enhance the experience for the viewer.” Following the initial announcement of auditions for the team, over 5,000 people applied for Clue Crew posts. The original Clue Crew members were Cheryl Farrell, Jimmy McGuire, Sofia Lidskog, and Sarah Whitcomb Foss. Jon Cannon and Kelly Miyahara joined the Clue Crew in 2005. Farrell recorded clues until October 2008, and Cannon until July 2009. Miyahara, who also served as announcer for the Sports Jeopardy! spin-off series, left in 2019. The Clue Crew was eliminated beginning with the 39th season in September 2022; Foss became a producer for the show and McGuire a stage manager. Foss also serves as in-studio announcer when Johnny Gilbert is unable to attend a taping. In such cases, her voice is replaced with Gilbert’s in post-production. The Clue Crew traveled to over 300 cities worldwide, spanning all 50 of the United States and 46 other countries. Occasionally, they visited schools to showcase the educational game Classroom Jeopardy!

Production staff

A head shot of Merv Griffin
Merv Griffin created the show and was executive producer from 1984 to 2000.
A waist-up shot of Harry Friedman holding an award
Harry Friedman was executive producer from 1999 to 2020.
Robert Rubin served as the producer of the original Jeopardy! series for most of its run and later became its executive producer. Following Rubin’s promotion, the line producer was Lynette Williams. Griffin was the daily syndicated version’s executive producer until his retirement in 2000. Trebek served as producer as well as host until 1987, when he began hosting NBC’s Classic Concentration for the next four years. At that time, he handed producer duties to George Vosburgh, who had formerly produced The All-New Jeopardy! In 1997, Harry Friedman, Lisa Finneran, and Rocky Schmidt succeeded Vosburgh as producers of the show. Beginning in 1999, Friedman became executive producer, and Gary Johnson became the third producer. In 2006, Deb Dittmann and Brett Schneider became producers, while Finneran, Schmidt, and Johnson became supervising producers. The original Jeopardy! series was directed at different times by Bob Hultgren, Eleanor Tarshis, and Jeff Goldstein. Dick Schneider, who directed episodes of The All-New Jeopardy!, returned as director from 1984 to 1992. From 1992 to 2018, Kevin McCarthy served as director, who had previously served as associate director under Schneider. McCarthy announced his retirement after 26 years on June 26, 2018, and was succeeded as director by Clay Jacobsen. As of 2012, Jeopardy! employs nine writers and five researchers to create and assemble the categories and clues. Billy Wisse is the editorial producer and Michele Loud is the editorial supervisor. Previous writing and editorial supervisors have included Jules Minton, Terrence McDonnell, Harry Eisenberg, and Gary Johnson. Trebek himself also contributed to writing clues and categories. Naomi Slodki is the production designer for the program. Previous art directors have included Henry Lickel, Dennis Roof, Bob Rang, and Ed Flesh (who also designed sets for other game shows such as The $25,000 PyramidName That Tune, and Wheel of Fortune). On August 1, 2019, Sony Pictures Television announced that Friedman would retire as executive producer of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune at the end of the 2019–20 season. On August 29, 2019, it was announced that Mike Richards replaced Friedman in 2020. On August 31, 2021, after Richards had resigned as permanent host earlier in the month, he was fired from his executive producer position at both Jeopardy! and Wheel, with Sony executives citing continued internal turmoil that Richards’s resignation as host had failed to quell as they had hoped. Michael Davies from Embassy Row, which also produces Sony game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, was selected as interim executive producer through the 2021–22 season. On April 14, 2022, Davies accepted the role on a permanent basis.

Production

The daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! is produced by Sony Pictures Television (previously known as Columbia TriStar Television, the successor company to original producer Merv Griffin Enterprises). The copyright holder is Jeopardy Productions, which, like SPT, operates as a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. The rights to distribute the program worldwide are owned by CBS Media Ventures, which absorbed original distributor King World Productions in 2007. The original Jeopardy! series was taped in Studio 6A at NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, and The All-New Jeopardy! was taped in Studio 3 at NBC’s Burbank Studios at 3000 West Alameda Avenue in Burbank, California. The Trebek version was initially taped at Metromedia Stage 7, KTTV, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, but moved its production facilities to Hollywood Center Studios’ Stage 1 in 1985. In 1994 the Jeopardy! production facilities moved to Sony Pictures Studios’ Stage 10 on Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California, where production has remained since. Stage 10 was dedicated in Trebek’s honor when episodes for the 38th season began taping in August 2021, with the stage being renamed to “The Alex Trebek Stage”, with help from the Trebek family (Alex’s wife, Jean, son, Matthew, and daughters, Emily and Nicky). Five episodes are taped each day, with two days of taping every other week. However, taping slowed after Alex Trebek’s health issues in 2019 until his last taping day on October 29, 2020. Some weeks had three episodes taped within a single day, while some had two episodes taped within a single day.

Set

Various screen shots of the Jeopardy! set
Various sets used by the syndicated version over the years. From top to bottom: 1984–85, 1985–91, 1991–96, 1996–2002, 2002–06, and 2009–13.
Various technological and aesthetic changes have been made to the Jeopardy! set over the years. The original game board was exposed from behind a curtain and featured clues printed on cardboard pull cards which were revealed as contestants selected them. The All-New Jeopardy!‘s game board was exposed from behind double-slide panels and featured pull cards with the dollar amount in front and the clue behind it. When the Trebek version premiered in 1984, the game board used individual television monitors for each clue within categories. The original monitors were replaced with larger and sleeker ones in 1991. In 2006, these monitors were discarded in favor of a nearly seamless projection video wall, which was replaced in 2009 with 36 high-definition flat-panel monitors manufactured by Sony Electronics. From 1985 to 1997, the sets were designed to have a background color of blue for the Jeopardy! round and red for the Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! rounds. In 1991 a brand new set was introduced that resembled a grid. On the episode aired November 11, 1996, Jeopardy! introduced the first of several sets designed by Naomi Slodki, who intended the set to resemble “the foyer of a very contemporary library, with wood and sandblasted glass and blue granite”. In 2002, another new set was introduced, which was given slight modifications when Jeopardy! and sister show Wheel of Fortune transitioned to high-definition broadcasting in 2006. During this time, virtual tours of the set began to be featured on the official web site. The various HD improvements for Jeopardy! and Wheel represented a combined investment of approximately $4 million, 5,000 hours of labor, and 6 miles (9.7 km) of cable. Both programs had been shot using HD cameras for several years before beginning to broadcast in HD. On standard-definition television broadcasts, episodes continue displaying with an aspect ratio of 4:3. In 2009, Jeopardy! updated its set once again. The new set debuted with special episodes taped at the 42nd annual International CES technology trade show, hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester (Las Vegas Valley), Nevada, and became the primary set for Jeopardy! when the 2009–2010 season began. In 2013, Jeopardy! introduced another new set. This set underwent several modifications in 2020, with a wider studio without any studio audience (the last episodes of the 2019–2020 season were also taped without an audience), and new lecterns for contestants and the host. The lecterns are spaced considerably apart to comply with California state regulations imposed when filming resumed after the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2020 season early. Although the modified COVID-era set from the previous two seasons was kept, the live studio audience fully returned for season 39, which began airing on September 12, 2022.

Theme music

Since the debut of Jeopardy! in 1964, several songs and arrangements have been used as the theme music, most of which were composed by Griffin. The main theme for the original Jeopardy! series was “Take Ten”, composed by Griffin’s wife Julann. The All-New Jeopardy! opened with “January, February, March” and closed with “Frisco Disco”, both of which were composed by Griffin himself. The best-known theme song on Jeopardy! is “Think!”, originally composed by Griffin under the title “A Time for Tony”, as a lullaby for his son. “Think!” has always been used for the 30-second period in Final Jeopardy! when the contestants write down their responses, and since the syndicated version debuted in 1984, a rendition of that tune has been used as the main theme song. “Think!” has become so popular that it has been used in many different contexts, from sporting events to weddings; “its 30-second countdown has become synonymous with any deadline pressure”. Griffin estimated that the use of “Think!” had earned him royalties of over $70 million throughout his lifetime. “Think!” led Griffin to win the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) President’s Award in 2003, and during GSN’s 2009 Game Show Awards special, it was named “Best Game Show Theme Song”. In 1997, the main theme (later rearranged in 2001) and Final Jeopardy! “Think!” cue were rearranged by Steve Kaplan, who served as music director until his December 2003 death. Then in 2008, the Jeopardy! music package was rearranged again, this time by Chris Bell Music & Sound Design. A fully-synthesized version of the main theme, which is based on the 2008 arrangement, was composed by Bleeding Fingers Music and has been used since 2021.  

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