|Created by||Merv Griffin|
|Directed by||Bob Hultgren (1964–71)
Eleanor Tarshis (1971–72)
Jeff Goldstein (1972–75, 1978)
Dick Schneider (1978–79, 1984–92)
Kevin McCarthy (1992–present)
|Presented by||Art Fleming (1964–75, 1978–79)
Alex Trebek (1984–present)
|Narrated by||Don Pardo (1964–75)
John Harlan (1978–79)
Johnny Gilbert (1984–present)
|Theme music composer||Julann Griffin (1964–75)
Merv Griffin (1978–79, 1984–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||NBC (1964–75): 2,753
Syndicated (1974–75): 39
NBC (1978–79): 108
Syndicated (1984–present): 6,500 (as of March 15, 2013)
|Executive producer(s)||Robert Rubin (1973–75)
Merv Griffin (1984–2000)
Harry Friedman (1999–present)
|Producer(s)||Robert Rubin (1964–73)
Lynette Williams (1973–75)
George Vosburgh (1978–79, 1987–97)
Alex Trebek (1984–87)
Harry Friedman (1997–99)
Lisa Finneran (1997–2006)
Rocky Schmidt (1997–2006)
Gary Johnson (2000–06)
Deb Dittman (2006–present)
Brett Schneider (2006–present)
New York, New York (1964–75)
Burbank, California (1978–79)
Hollywood, California (1984–85)
Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California (1985–94)
Sony Pictures Studios
Culver City, California (1994–present)
|Running time||22–26 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Merv Griffin Productions (1964–75, 1978–79)
Merv Griffin Enterprises (1984–94)
Columbia TriStar Television (1994–2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
Califon Enterprises, Inc. (1978–79)
Jeopardy Productions, Inc. (1984–present)
King World Productions (1984–2007)
CBS Television Distribution (2007–present)
|Original channel||NBC (1964–75, 1978–79)
Syndicated (1974–75, 1984–present)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV) (1984–2006)
720p & 1080i (HDTV) (2006–present)
|Audio format||Mono (1964–79)
|Original run||NBC Daytime:
March 30, 1964–January 3, 1975
September 9, 1974 –September 5, 1975
October 2, 1978 –March 2, 1979
September 10, 1984 – present
Jeopardy! is an American television quiz show created by Merv Griffin. The quiz material covers a wide variety of topics (including traditional academic information, popular culture, lifestyle, and wordplay); contestants are presented with clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in question form. The original daytime version aired on NBC from March 30, 1964 to January 3, 1975, then spawned a weekly nighttime syndicated edition that aired from September 9, 1974 to September 5, 1975, and was later revived as The All-New Jeopardy!, which ran from October 2, 1978 until March 2, 1979. The program's most successful incarnation is the daily syndicated version, which premiered on September 10, 1984.
Both NBC versions and the weekly syndicated version were hosted by Art Fleming. Don Pardo served as announcer until 1975, and John Harlan announced for the 1978–79 show. Since its inception, the daily syndicated version has featured Alex Trebek as host and Johnny Gilbert as announcer. Trebek is expected to retire from the program in 2016, at which point his tenure as host will have lasted for 32 years.
Since its debut, the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has gone on to win a record 30 Daytime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, and GSN ranked it #2 on its "50 Greatest Game Shows" list, while TV Guide ranked it #1 in a 2013 list of the 60 greatest game shows ever. In addition, the program has gained a worldwide following with a multitude of international adaptations. Jeopardy!'s 29th season premiered on September 17, 2012.
The three contestants compete in three rounds: the Jeopardy! round, the Double Jeopardy! round, and the Final Jeopardy! round. During non-tournament games, the returning champion occupies the leftmost lectern from the viewer's perspective.
The Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy! rounds each feature six categories which each contain a column of five trivia clues (phrased in answer form), each one incrementally valued more than the previous, ostensibly by difficulty. The subjects cover a wide variety of topics (including history and current events, the sciences, the arts, popular culture, literature and languages), and there are also pun-laden titles (many of which refer to the standard subjects), wordplay categories, and even entire sets of categories with a common theme.
The value of each clue within categories has increased over time; in the Super Jeopardy! specials (explained below), values were in points rather than in dollars.
The contestant at the leftmost lectern from the viewer's perspective selects the first clue from any position on the game board, and the selected clue is revealed. The host then reads the clue, after which any of the three contestants may ring-in using a hand-held signaling device. The first contestant to ring-in successfully, following the host's reading of the clue, must then respond in the form of a question. A correct response adds the dollar value of the clue to the contestant's score, and gives them the opportunity to select the next clue from the board. An incorrect response or a failure to respond within a five-second time limit (shown by the red lights on the contestant's lectern) deducts the dollar value of the clue from the contestant's score and gives any remaining opponent(s) the opportunity to ring-in and respond. If none of the contestants give a correct response, the host reads the correct response and the contestant who selected the previous clue chooses the next clue.
The Double Jeopardy! round, as its name implies, features clue values that are exactly double those of the Jeopardy! round clue values (except during Super Jeopardy!, in which the clue values ranged from 500-2500 points in 500-point increments). The contestant with the lowest amount of money at the end of the Jeopardy! Round makes the first selection in Double Jeopardy! If there is a tie for second place or a three-way tie for first place, the contestant with the tied score standing at the left-most lectern selects first. Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative score are automatically eliminated from the game before Final Jeopardy!, and receive the third place prize, which has been $1,000 since May 16, 2002. On at least one Fleming-hosted episode, all three contestants finished Double Jeopardy! with $0 or less, and as a result, no Final Jeopardy! round was played that day; so far, there has not been an episode of the Trebek version where all three contestants finished Double Jeopardy! with $0 or less.
One clue hidden on the Jeopardy! round game board, and two on the Double Jeopardy! board, are designated "Daily Doubles". Only the contestant who selects a Daily Double may respond to its clue. The contestant must first decide how much to wager, from a minimum of $5 up to a maximum of all of their money, or the highest dollar amount in the round, whichever is higher. The contestant maintains control of the board and the right to select the subsequent clue, regardless of whether or not their response to the Daily Double is correct. Daily Doubles accompanied by audio or video footage are designated with appropriate tags which are displayed before the wager is made.
Once the Double Jeopardy! round is concluded, the Final Jeopardy! category is announced by the host, and a commercial break follows. During the break, barriers are placed to separate each of the contestant lecterns from one another, and each contestant is asked to make one final wager (between $0 and their total score), writing it down. After the final commercial break, the Final Jeopardy! clue is revealed and read by the host. The contestants are given a time limit of thirty seconds to write their responses, again phrased in the form of a question. During the time in which the contestants write their responses, the iconic "Think!" music plays in the background. Those contestants who provide the correct response are awarded the values of their respective wagers, while those who fail to provide the correct response or to phrase their response in the form of a question (even if the response itself is correct) have that amount subtracted from their total scores.
During tournaments, if two or all three contestants are tied for first place with a positive score at the conclusion of the Final Jeopardy! round, a one-clue tiebreaker round is played. The tied contestants are presented with a category and the clue is then revealed. The first contestant to ring in and provide the correct response becomes the champion and moves on to the next round of play. Contestants are not eliminated from play for providing an incorrect response and are not allowed to win by default. If a tournament game ends in a three-way tie for zero, all three contestants are eliminated, and the highest scoring of the remaining players advances to the next round as an additional wild card entrant.
Contestants must wait until the host finishes reading the clue before ringing-in; doing so before this point locks the contestant out for one fourth of a second. Lights mounted around the game board illuminate to indicate when contestants may ring-in, and the contestant has five seconds to offer a response. There are nine lights on each contestant's lectern that are meant to signify this; two lights dim for each second that passes, and if the last light dims, the contestant is ruled to have run out of time and is thus counted out.
Prior to 1985, contestants were able to ring-in at any time after the clue had been revealed, and a buzzer would sound whenever someone rang-in. According to Trebek, the buzzer sound was "distracting to the viewers" and sometimes presented problems, because contestants would inadvertently ring-in too soon, or ring-in so quickly that by the time he finished reading the clue, the contestant's five-second limit had expired. He also said that, by not allowing anyone to ring-in until the clue was finished, home viewers could play along more easily, and faster contestants would be less likely to dominate the game.
Phrasing and judging
All responses must be phrased in the form of a question. For example, a contestant might select "Presidents for $200", and the resulting clue might be "The Father of Our Country; he didn't really chop down a cherry tree", to which the contestant would respond "Who is George Washington?" Griffin had originally intended for the phrasing to be grammatically correct (e.g., not accepting any phrasing other than "Who is..." for a person), but after finding that grammatical correction slowed the game down, he decided that the show should instead accept any correct response that was in question form.
During the Jeopardy! round, contestants are not penalized for forgetting to phrase a response in the form of a question, although the host will remind contestants to watch their phrasing on future clues. During the Double Jeopardy! round, or on Daily Doubles (regardless of the round), adherence to the phrasing rule is followed more strictly, but contestants are still permitted to correct themselves before their time runs out. If it is determined that a response previously given by a contestant was wrongly ruled correct or incorrect, the scores are adjusted at the first available opportunity. If, after a game is over, a ruling change is made that would have significantly altered the outcome of the game, the affected contestant(s) are invited back to compete on a future show.
The top scorer on each episode retains their winnings and returns as the champion in the next match, and the non-winners receive consolation prizes, which since May 16, 2002 have been $2,000 for the second-place contestant and $1,000 for the third-place contestant. Since the show does not provide airfare or lodging for most contestants (with the exception of returning champions who have to make multiple flights to the Los Angeles area), these cash consolation prizes alleviate the financial burden of appearing on the show. Prior to 2002, the second-place contestant typically received a vacation package or merchandise and the third-place contestant received lesser-value merchandise. On the Fleming versions, all contestants kept their winnings, and contestants who finished with scores below $0 received consolation prizes.
When the Trebek version began, the show's producers decided to award full winnings only to the champion as a means of making the game more competitive, so that the final outcome is not always evident until the end of the game. On the Fleming versions, some contestants would occasionally decide that they only wanted to win a certain amount of money and then stop ringing-in when they reached that amount, instead of attempting to become a returning champion, while others would refuse to write down a question for Final Jeopardy! if another contestant had a significant lead.
If no contestant finishes Final Jeopardy! with a positive total, nobody wins and three new contestants appear on the following show. In such cases, the three new contestants participate in a backstage draw to determine their positions at the contestant lecterns. There have been three cases of triple-zero or both surviving contestants scoring zero when one did not make Final Jeopardy! in regular play; this first happened on the second episode of the Trebek version, on September 11, 1984, and most recently in a regular game on June 12, 1998. In addition, there have been two cases of a triple-zero score during tournaments, once during the first round of the 1991 Seniors Tournament, and again during the semi-final match of the 2013 Teen Tournament.
In regular play, if two or three contestants tie for first place, they are declared co-champions; each retains their winnings and returns on the following episode. Four contestants have each finished two games as co-champions: Dane Garrett on episodes aired in September 1985, Sara Cox on episodes aired in December 1990, Dan Girard on episodes aired in July 1998, and Kristin Morgan on episodes aired in January 2013. A three-way tie for first place has only occurred once on the Trebek version—on March 16, 2007, when Scott Weiss, Jamey Kirby, and Anders Martinson all ended the game with the same shared total of $16,000.
Special considerations are also given for contestants who are unable to return as champion due to circumstances beyond their control, such as illness, military commitments, or unusual delays. This occurred for the first time in Season 25, when three new contestants appeared on the January 19, 2009 episode, owing to Priscilla Ball, who won on the previous episode (aired January 16), unable to make the taping of the January 19 episode because of illness. At the top of the episode, Trebek explained that in such a case, the contestant would return at a later date as a co-champion. Ball returned on the episode that aired April 9, 2009.
Before 2003, a contestant who won five consecutive days retired undefeated, with a guaranteed spot in the Tournament of Champions; three new contestants would appear on the following show. Champions' total cash winnings were also limited to $75,000 from 1984–90, $100,000 from 1990–97, and $200,000 from 1997–2003. The limits on champions' appearances and winnings were eliminated at the beginning of Season 20 on September 8, 2003, and since then, champions have been allowed to remain on the program indefinitely until defeated, and win as much money as possible.
Jeopardy!'s record for the all-time longest winnings streak is held by Ken Jennings, who, taking advantage of the newly implemented rule changes explained above, competed on the show from June 2 through November 30, 2004, winning 74 matches before being defeated by Nancy Zerg in his 75th appearance. He amassed $2,520,700 over his 74 wins as well as a $2,000 second-place prize in his 75th appearance, thus earning the record as the highest money-winner ever on American game shows, and his winning streak increased the show's ratings and popularity to the point where it became TV's highest-rated syndicated program. Jennings later went on to compete in the show's Ultimate Tournament of Champions and win the $500,000 second-place prize, and even later, to win half of a $300,000 prize in The IBM Challenge which aired in February 2011, increasing his Jeopardy! earnings total to $3,172,700.
The biggest all-time money winner on Jeopardy! is Brad Rutter, who has won a cumulative total of $3,455,102 on the show. He became an undefeated champion in 2000 and subsequently won an unprecedented three Jeopardy! tournaments: the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the Million Dollar Masters Tournament, and the Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Following his third tournament win, in which he defeated Jennings and Jerome Vered in the finals, Rutter broke Jennings' all-time game show winnings record. Jennings subsequently regained his record by appearing on various other game shows, culminating in an appearance on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? on October 10, 2008, but Rutter still retains the record for Jeopardy! winnings.
The all-time record for single-day winnings on Jeopardy! is held by Roger Craig. On the episode that aired September 14, 2010, he amassed a score of $47,000 after the game's first two rounds, then wagered and won $30,000 in the Final Jeopardy! round, and in doing so, he broke the previous single-day record of $75,000 which had been held by Jennings.
The highest one-day score in a Celebrity Jeopardy! tournament was achieved by comedian Andy Richter during a first round game of the 2009–10 season's "Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational", in which he finished with $68,000 for his selected charity, the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The only contestant on a pre-2002 episode of the Trebek version to win a game with the lowest amount possible ($1) was U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Darryl Scott, on the episode that aired January 19, 1993.
Hosts and announcers
Art Fleming hosted both NBC versions and the 1974–75 syndicated version. He was joined by Don Pardo as his announcer into 1975. When NBC's revival The All-New Jeopardy! launched in 1978, John Harlan took over Pardo's announcing duties.
Since 1984, Alex Trebek and Johnny Gilbert have served as host and announcer, respectively, for the daily syndicated version of the program. Trebek is expected to retire in 2016, after a 32-year tenure with the program. Various personalities have been considered to replace him for the 2016–17 season; these include Matt Lauer, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, and Dan Patrick.
The Jeopardy! Clue Crew, introduced on September 24, 2001, is a team of roving correspondents who tape videos from around the world to display alongside clues given during the show. Over 5,000 people applied for Clue Crew posts within weeks of the announcement of auditions for that team.
Executive producer Harry Friedman further explained the reasoning behind the Clue Crew's formation as follows:
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.
The original Clue Crew members were Cheryl Farrell, Jimmy McGuire, Sofia Lidskog, and Sarah Whitcomb (later Sarah Whitcomb Foss). Lidskog departed the Clue Crew in 2004 to become an anchor on the high school news program Channel One News, and a search was held to replace her in early 2005. The winners of that search were Jon Cannon and Kelly Miyahara, both of whom formally joined the crew starting in Season 22, which premiered on September 12, 2005. Farrell left the show in Season 24, and Cannon in Season 25.
As of 2011, the Clue Crew has traveled to over 200 cities worldwide, through 45 of the 50 U.S. states, and to 33 countries. In addition to showcasing clues accompanied by video for Jeopardy! itself, the team's members also travel to meet fans of the show, as well as future contestants. Occasionally, they also visit schools to showcase the educational game Classroom Jeopardy!.
Producers and directors
Robert Rubin was the producer of the original Jeopardy! series for its first nine years, before being promoted to executive producer in 1973. Show creator Merv Griffin later served as the executive producer of the Trebek version from its 1984 debut until his retirement in 2000. Since 1999, the title of executive producer has been held by Harry Friedman, who had shared the title with Griffin for his first year, and had earlier served as a producer for two years.
After Rubin's promotion to executive producer, the original Jeopardy! series was produced, for its final two years, by Lynette Williams. The All-New Jeopardy! was produced by George Vosburgh, and the first three seasons of the daily syndicated version were produced by Trebek himself, before he handed producer duties back to Vosburgh while simultaneously becoming the host of Classic Concentration on NBC during the next four years. In 1997, Vosburgh was succeeded as producer by Friedman, Lisa Finneran (later Lisa Broffman), and Rocky Schmidt; after Friedman became sole executive producer, Gary Johnson became the new third producer for the show. Finneran, Schmidt, and Johnson were promoted to senior producers in 2003 and then to supervising producers in 2006; Johnson left the show in 2009. After 2006, the show's (non-supervising) producers were Deb Dittman and Brett Schneider. The show's coordinating producer is Bob Sofia, who earlier served as technical supervisor from 2001–06.
The original Jeopardy! series was directed by Bob Hultgren into 1971, by Eleanor Tarshis in the 1971–72 season, and by Jeff Goldstein for its final three seasons. Dick Schneider, who had earlier directed episodes of The All-New Jeopardy!, also directed episodes of the Trebek version's first eight seasons; since 1992, these duties have been handled by Kevin McCarthy, who had previously served as that version's associate director when it was directed by Schneider. After McCarthy became director, the show's later associate directors included Rick Edwards, Joel Charap, L. David Irete, John Pritchett, Clay Jacobsen, and Ray Bonassi.
Writing and editorial staff
As of 2012, the Trebek-hosted syndicated version of Jeopardy! employs nine writers and five researchers to create and assemble its categories and clues. The writers include Billy Wisse (who also holds the title of editorial producer and was the former editorial supervisor), Michele Loud (the current editorial supervisor), Steve D. Tamerius, Debbie Griffin, Jim Rhine, Mark Gaberman, John Duarte, Robert McClenaghan, and Friedman. The research team consists of Matt Caruso, Michael Harris, Eric Johnson, Matthew Sherman, and senior researcher Suzanne Stone.
Former writers and researchers throughout the daily syndicated Jeopardy!'s history include Steven Dorfman, Kathy Easterling, Frederik Pohl IV, Gary Johnson, Andrew Shepard Price, Sarah Beach, Jeff Pierson, Lorraine P. Axeman, Ryan Haas, Chip Dornell, Carol Campbell, Ruth Deutsch, Kim Gruenenfelder, Carlo Panno, Harry Eisenberg, Barbara Heller, Gary Lee, and Jules Minton. The original Jeopardy! series' writers included Elizabeth Camp, Leslie Cooper, Mark Eisman, Karin Lipson, Ross Parker, and James Thesing, while The All-New Jeopardy!'s research team consisted of Larry Strawther, Tracy Baer, Jerrilyn Klein, Roberta Simons, and Marv Sussman.
Other key personnel
As of 2012, Jeopardy!'s technical director is Robert Ennis Jr.; previous technical directors included Rick Edwards (1985–92), John Pritchett (1997–2005), and Clay Jacobsen (2005–06). Since 1996, the Trebek version's production has been designed by Naomi Slodki; before that, the show's art direction was handled by Ed Flesh, who also designed the sets of other game shows, including Jeopardy!'s sister show Wheel of Fortune. As of 2012, the show's cinematography is handled by camera operators Marc Hunter, Ray Reynolds, Jeff Schuster, and Michael Tribble, with former camera operators including Diane Farrell, Robert Fonarow, Forrest Fraser IV, Randy Gomez, Raimo Kaartinen, and Al Miller.
Since 2002, the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has been produced by Sony Pictures Television (previously known as Columbia TriStar Television, the successor company to original producer Merv Griffin Enterprises). The copyright holder of that version's episodes is Jeopardy Productions, Inc., which, like SPT, also operates as a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. The rights to distribute the program on television in the United States are owned by CBS Television Distribution, into which original distributor King World Productions was folded 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-TV, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, but moved its production facilities to Hollywood Center Studios' Stage 9 in 1985. After the final shows of Season 10 were recorded on February 15, 1994, the Jeopardy! production facilities were moved to Sony Pictures Studios' Stage 10 on Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California, where the show's episodes have been taped ever since.
In a 1964 Associated Press profile released right before the original Jeopardy! series premiered, Griffin offered the following account of the quiz show's origins:
My wife Julann just came up with the idea one day when we were in a plane bringing us back to New York 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 be shown on camera easily, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories. Taking inspiration from horse racing, he also decided to add three "Daily Doubles", clues in which a contestant could wager any amount of his or her money. Griffin originally titled the show What's the Question?, but ended up discarding that initial title when skeptical network executive Ed Vane rejected his original concept of the game, claiming, "It doesn't have enough jeopardies."
Jeopardy! was not the first game show to give contestants the answers and require the questions. That format had previously been used by the Gil Fates-hosted program CBS Television Quiz, which aired from July 1941 until May 1942.
Prospective contestants of the original Jeopardy! series called the show's office in New York to arrange an appointment and to preliminarily determine eligibility. They were briefed and auditioned together in groups of ten to thirty individuals, participating in both a written test and mock games. Following the audition, those who were successful were invited to appear on the program within approximately six weeks.
The Trebek version's prospective contestants are given a written exam which comprises fifty questions in total; the number of questions in each topic covered has been modified throughout the years. Those who pass the exam by providing at least thirty-five correct responses advance in the audition process and compete in mock games. Originally held only in southern California, the show's contestant searches have been conducted regionally (sponsored by local affiliates that air the program) since 1985. Invitations to audition were originally awarded by postcard drawings and other types of contests, but more recently, prospective contestants have been able to obtain the location of regional contestant searches or register to participate in an online test via the official website.
Since Season 15, the show has used a 32-foot (9.8 m) Winnebago recreational vehicle, called the "Jeopardy! Brain Bus", to conduct regional contestant searches throughout the United States and Canada. Attendees not wishing to compete for a chance to appear on the show can also play a shortened game of Jeopardy! for prizes such as t-shirts, hats, water bottles, and other products with the Jeopardy! logo.
Since the debut of Jeopardy! in 1964, several different songs and arrangements have served as the theme music for the show, the majority of which were composed by Griffin. The original Jeopardy! series opened and closed with "Take Ten", composed by Griffin's wife Julann, while The All-New Jeopardy! opened with "January, February, March" and closed with "Frisco Disco", both of which were composed by Griffin himself and arranged by bandleader Mort Lindsey.
The most well-known theme song used by Jeopardy! is "Think!", originally composed by Griffin under the title "A Time for Tony", as a lullaby for his son. That composition has become a staple song of popular culture and is frequently used in such contexts as sporting events and television shows to underscore that a decision or answer must be arrived at quickly. "Think!" has always been used for the 30-second period in the Final Jeopardy! Round in which the contestants write down their answers, and since the syndicated version debuted in 1984, a rendition of that tune has also been used as the main theme song. 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". The main theme and Final Jeopardy! recordings of "Think!" were later rearranged by Steve Kaplan, who also served as the show's music director until his 2003 death, and more recently, the Jeopardy! music package has been given a complete overhaul by Chris Bell Music and Sound Design.
Like the theme music, the Jeopardy! set has also changed over the years. The original game board was exposed from behind a curtain and featured the clues printed on pull cards which were revealed as contestants selected values in each category. The cards were discarded for the 1978 version, replaced by flipping panels that had the dollar amount on one side and the clue on the other; the curtain was also replaced with double slide panels. When the Trebek version premiered in 1984, the game board was replaced with individual monitors for each clue in a category. As technology has improved since then, the monitors have been upgraded accordingly. The original monitors were replaced in 1991 with larger and sleeker ones, and in 2006, these monitors were discarded in favor of a nearly seamless projection video wall, which was later replaced by thirty-six 42-inch high-definition flat-panel monitors.
Other aesthetic changes have been made to the set since the current syndicated version's premiere in 1984. Starting in 1985 and continuing until 1997, the sets were designed to have a background color of blue for Jeopardy! Rounds and red for Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! Rounds. At the beginning of Season 8 in 1991, a brand new set was introduced that resembled a grid. On the episode aired November 11, 1996, two months after the start of Season 13, Jeopardy! introduced the first of several sets designed by Slodki, who intended the set to resemble "the foyer of a very contemporary library". Shortly after the start of Season 19 in 2002, the show switched to yet another new set, which was later given slight modifications when Jeopardy! and Wheel transitioned to high-definition broadcasting in 2006. During this time, several virtual tours were featured on the official Jeopardy! web site.
The various high-definition improvements for Jeopardy! and Wheel represented a combined investment of about $4 million, 5,000 hours of labor, and 6 miles (10 km) of cable. Both shows had been shot using HD cameras for several years before beginning to broadcast in HD. On standard-definition television broadcasts, the shows continue to be displayed with an aspect ratio of 4:3.
A new set debuted with the Celebrity Jeopardy! and Tournament of Champions episodes taped in 2009 at the 42nd annual International CES technology trade show, hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester (Las Vegas Valley), Nevada. This set became the primary set for Jeopardy! when Season 26 premiered on September 14, 2009.
Jeopardy! has enjoyed a long life in various incarnations over the course of nearly a half-century. The original version debuted on NBC on March 30, 1964, and was part of the network's daytime lineup until January 3, 1975. A weekly nighttime syndicated edition of the show aired from September 9, 1974 to September 5, 1975. A revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, ran as a daytime series from October 2, 1978 until March 2, 1979. The daily syndicated version debuted on September 10, 1984.
In addition to its main broadcast history, Jeopardy! has also enjoyed two spin-offs. Rock & Roll Jeopardy!, which debuted on VH1 in 1998 and ran until 2001, centered around post-1950s popular music trivia and was hosted by Jeff Probst. Jep!, aired on GSN during the 1998–99 season, was a special children's version hosted by Bob Bergen, and featured various rule changes.
Regular tournaments and events
Starting in 1985, a "Tournament of Champions" has been held annually (except in Seasons 17, 20, 23, and 27), featuring the top fifteen champions and other biggest winners who have appeared on the show since the last tournament. A top prize of $250,000 (formerly $100,000, from 1985 to 2002) is awarded to the winner. The tournament runs for ten consecutive episodes in a format devised by Trebek himself, which consists of five quarter-final games, three semifinals, and a final consisting of two games with the scores totaled.
Other major special events conducted by Jeopardy! on a regular basis include the "Teen Tournament" (introduced in 1987), which features competition among fifteen high school students with the winner receiving $75,000; the "College Championship" (first aired in 1989), in which fifteen full-time undergraduate students from colleges and universities in the United States compete against one another for a grand prize of $100,000; "Celebrity Jeopardy!" (introduced in 1992), wherein celebrities and other notable individuals compete for charitable organizations of their choice; "Kids Week" (first aired in 1999), a special competition for school-age children aged 10 through 12; and the "Teachers Tournament" (introduced in May 2011 to commemorate the Trebek version's 6,000th episode), which features fifteen educators competing against one another for a grand prize of $100,000. The Teen Tournament, College Championship, and Teachers Tournament all follow the same basic format as the Tournament of Champions, and College Championship and Teachers Tournament winners are invited to participate in the Tournament of Champions (an honor which was also given to Teen Tournament contestants prior to 2001). In addition, ten "Seniors Tournaments", in which contestants over the age of 50 competed for a top prize of $25,000 (or the contestant's two-game total, whichever was greater), were held during the last two weeks of each season from 1987 through 1995.
Three "International Tournaments", held in 1996, 1997, and 2001, featured one-week competitions among champions from each of the international versions of Jeopardy!. Each of the countries that aired their own version of the show in those years could nominate a contestant. The format was identical to the semifinals and finals of the Tournament of Champions. In the first two tournaments, the winner received $25,000, and for the third, the top prize was doubled to $50,000. The 1997 tournament is significant for being the first week of Jeopardy! episodes to be taped in a foreign country, because it was taped in Stockholm, on the set of the Swedish version of Jeopardy!
There have been a number of special tournaments featuring the greatest contestants during the history of Jeopardy! The first of these "all-time best" tournaments, Super Jeopardy!, aired in the summer of 1990 on ABC. It featured 37 top contestants who had competed on the program from 1984–90, plus one notable champion from the original 1964–75 version, all competing for a top prize of $250,000. In 1993, a "Tenth Anniversary Tournament" was conducted over five episodes and aired following the conclusion of that year's regular Tournament of Champions. In May 2002, to commemorate the Trebek version's 4,000th episode, the show invited fifteen champions to play for a $1 million bonus, in the "Million Dollar Masters" tournament, which took place at Radio City Music Hall. The "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" aired in 2005 and pitted 145 former Jeopardy! champions against each other, with two winners moving on to face Jennings in a three-game final for a $2 million top prize, the largest in the show's history. Overall, the tournament spanned 76 shows, starting on February 9 and ending on May 25.
The "Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational" was a special edition of Celebrity Jeopardy! played during the 2009–10 season. It featured twenty-seven celebrity contestants from past Celebrity Jeopardy! episodes competing for a grand prize of $1,000,000 for charity. The grand prizewinner was Michael McKean, who was playing for the International Myeloma Foundation.
The "IBM Challenge" aired February 14–16, 2011 and featured IBM's Watson computer facing off against Jennings and Rutter in a two-game match played over three shows. This was the first man-vs.-machine competition in Jeopardy!'s history. Watson locked up the first game and the match to win the grand prize of $1 million, which IBM divided between two charities (World Vision International and World Community Grid). Jennings, who won $300,000 for second place, and Rutter, who won the $200,000 third-place prize, both pledged to donate half of their total winnings to their respective charities. The competition brought the show its highest ratings since the Ultimate Tournament of Champions.
Since the early days of Jeopardy!, adaptations of the show have been produced in many foreign countries worldwide: the Arab world, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the American syndicated version of Jeopardy! is distributed and broadcast internationally, with such rights being held by CTD's overseas distribution division, CBS Studios International.
The American Jeopardy! was broadcast by CBC Television throughout Canada (except in Windsor, Ontario, where broadcast rights are held by WDIV-TV in Detroit, Michigan), until the Fall 2012 television season when CBC dropped Jeopardy! and Wheel in favor of Canadian-produced progamming. Since 2012, the Canadian broadcast rights to Jeopardy! and Wheel have been owned by CHCH-DT. Prior to 2008, the show aired across Canada on most CTV stations, with the exception of Vancouver's CTV station CIVT-TV.
Art Fleming era
Only a small number of the 2,753 episodes from the original NBC daytime version survive, mostly as black-and-white kinescopes of the original color videotapes. Various episodes from 1967, 1971, 1973, and 1974 are listed among the holdings of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, while the 1964 "test episode", Episode #2,000 (from February 21, 1972), and a June 1975 episode of the weekly syndicated edition exist at the Paley Center for Media. Incomplete paper records of the NBC-era games exist on microfilm at the Library of Congress. After the original series ended, several NBC stations continued airing repeats for a few months in 1975, including Los Angeles-based KNBC, according to TV Guide listings from that time.
GSN holds The All-New Jeopardy!'s premiere and finale in broadcast quality, and aired the latter on December 31, 1999 as part of its "Y2Play" marathon. The UCLA Archive holds a copy of a pilot taped for CBS in 1977, featuring a "sub-Round 1" in which each contestant "played solo" for 30 seconds (an incorrect response did not deduct from his or her score). The premiere also exists among the Paley Center's holdings, and several other episodes exist among private collectors in varying degrees of quality.
Alex Trebek era
All Trebek-hosted episodes of Jeopardy! are completely intact, including both of the daily syndicated version's pilot episodes (the first of which featured Jay Stewart as its announcer instead of Gilbert). GSN, which, like Jeopardy!, is an affiliate of SPT, has rerun ten seasons since the channel's launch in 1994. Copies of 43 Trebek-hosted syndicated Jeopardy! episodes aired between 1989 and 2004, as well as a commercial that advertised the show in the 1990s, have been collected by the UCLA Archive, while various other episodes, including the premiere, are included in the Paley Center's collection.
There is a 67-game disparity between the show numbers assigned to first-run Jeopardy! episodes and the actual number of Trebek-era games played. To assist subscribing affiliate stations in airing episodes in the correct order, a show number is read by Gilbert just prior to the taping of each game. This number is audible on the episodes as received by the affiliates and visible on the slate attached to them. The slate is trimmed from the show prior to broadcast. Each new episode receives an integer show number 1 greater than the previous episode; however, the 65 reruns in Season 1 (1984–1985) were given new show numbers despite not being new games; a retrospective clip show aired May 15, 2002 was credited as #4088; and a single game of The IBM Challenge against IBM's Watson computer was broadcast over two shows (#6086, #6087).
Jeopardy! has won a record 30 Daytime Emmy Awards since 1984. The show holds the record for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show, with thirteen awards won in that category. Another five awards have been won by Trebek for Outstanding Game Show Host. Twelve other Emmy Awards have been won by the show's directors and writers in separate categories until 2006, when the Emmy Awards for Outstanding Direction for a Game/Audience Participation Show (for the directors) and Outstanding Special Class Writing (which the writers competed for and won perennially) were merged into the Outstanding Game/Audience Participation show category. On June 17, 2011, Trebek was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony, along with Wheel host Pat Sajak. The following year, the show was honored with a Peabody Award for its role in encouraging, celebrating, and rewarding knowledge.
In its April 17-23, 1993 issue, TV Guide named Jeopardy! the best game show of the 1970s as part of a celebration of its 40th anniversary. Then, in January 2001, the magazine ranked it #2 among its 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time—second only to The Price Is Right. It would later rank it #1 in its 2013 list of the 60 Greatest Game Shows ever (with Price is Right slipping to #5). Additionally, in the summer of 2006, it was ranked #2 on GSN's list of the 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time, second only to Match Game.
A hall of fame honoring Jeopardy! was added to the Sony Pictures Studios' studio tour on September 20, 2011. This hall of fame features all of the Emmy statuettes awarded to the show, as well as retired set pieces, classic merchandise, video clips, photographs, and other memorabilia related to the show's history.
Portrayals in other media
Jeopardy! has been portrayed or parodied in numerous television shows, films, and works of literature over the years. Most of these portrayals and parodies feature one or more characters participating as contestants, or viewing and interacting with the game show from their own homes.
While several television series (namely The Golden Girls, Mama's Family, The Nanny, and Family Guy) have featured episodes wherein characters either audition for or appear on the show, the most infamous appearance of Jeopardy! in an external television series is in "What Is... Cliff Clavin?", a Season 8 episode of Cheers in which the titular mailman, portrayed by John Ratzenberger, appears on the show and racks up an impressive $22,000 going into the Final Jeopardy! Round, well ahead of his competitors, then risks all of his winnings on the Final Jeopardy! clue itself, responding incorrectly and leaving with no money. Trebek also appears as himself on "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace", a Season 9 episode of The Simpsons in which Marge Simpson appears on a fictional version of the show, only to perform very poorly and end up with -$5,200.
From 1996–2002 and again in 2005 and 2009, Saturday Night Live featured a recurring sketch called Celebrity Jeopardy!, in which Trebek, portrayed by Will Ferrell, had to deal with the constant taunts of antagonists such as Sean Connery (played by Darrell Hammond) and Burt Reynolds (Norm Macdonald). Jeopardy! is also featured in a subplot of the 1992 film White Men Can't Jump, with the character of Gloria Clemente, portrayed by Rosie Perez, making attempts to pass the show's auditions.
The David Foster Wallace short story "Little Expressionless Animals", first published in The Paris Review and later reprinted in Wallace's collection Girl with Curious Hair, centers around Jeopardy! contestant Julie Smith, who competes and wins on every game for three years (a total of 700 episodes), using her winnings from the show to pay for the care of her autistic brother. The Ellen's Energy Adventure attraction at Epcot's Universe of Energy pavilion features a dream sequence in which Ellen DeGeneres plays a Jeopardy! game in which all the categories are about energy. The music video "I Lost on Jeopardy", a parody of Greg Kihn's 1983 hit song "Jeopardy", was recorded by "Weird Al" Yankovic a few months before Trebek's version debuted, and featured cameos from Fleming and Pardo, among others.
Over the years, the Jeopardy! brand has expanded beyond television and been licensed into products of various formats.
Milton Bradley issued thirteen board games based on the original Fleming version annually, from 1964 through 1976, and the Trebek version has also seen various board game adaptations of its own, marketed at different times by Pressman Toy Corporation, Tyco Toys, and Parker Brothers. In addition, Jeopardy! has been adapted into a number of video games released on various consoles and handhelds spanning multiple hardware generations, starting with a Nintendo Entertainment System game that was released in 1987. Adaptations of the show have also been created for personal computers, Facebook, Twitter, Android, and the Roku Channel Store.
A DVD titled Jeopardy!: An Inside Look at America's Favorite Quiz Show was released on November 8, 2005 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and features five of the most memorable episodes of the Trebek version (the very first Trebek episode in 1984 and four featuring Ken Jennings), as well as three featurettes discussing the show's history and question selection process. The Jeopardy! brand has also been licensed into a collectible watch, a series of daily desktop calendars, and various slot machine games for casinos and the Internet.
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- Richmond, p. 41.
- Trebek and Barsocchini, pp. 59–60.
- Trebek and Barsocchini, p. 4.
- Trebek and Barsocchini, p. 64.
- Jennings, p. 122.
- Trebek and Barsocchini, p. 57.
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- Merv Griffin Enterprises (January 19, 1993). "Show No. 1932 (Nancy Melucci vs. Darryl Scott vs. Kate Marciniak)". Jeopardy!. Syndicated.
- Harris, p. 13.
- Terrace, Vincent (1985). The Encyclopedia of Television: Series, Pilots, and Specials 1974-1984. VNR AG. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-91-843261-2.
- Harris, p. 14.
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- "Meet the "Jeopardy!" Clue Crew". Jeopardy!. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
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- Richmond, page 239.
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- Fleming, Art (1979), Art Fleming's TV Game Show Fact Book, Salt Lake City, Utah: Osmond Publishing Company, pp. 14–15, ISBN 0-89888-005-X
- Eisenberg, pp. 32-35.
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- Trebek and Barsocchini, p. 10
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- Harris, p. 15. "Like any burgeoning empire, Jeopardy! has also swept across distant lands, with local versions in Canada, England, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Israel, and Australia. This led eventually to the International Tournament of 1997, which was won by Michael Daunt, a mild-mannered accountant from Canada with a kindly demeanor and a killer instinct that emerges about every twelve seconds."
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- See Richmond, page 188; Eisenberg, first edition, pages 30 and 106.
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- Trebek, Alex; Peter Barsocchini; introduction by Merv Griffin (1990). The Jeopardy! Book: The Answers, the Questions, the Facts, and the Stories of the Greatest Game Show in History. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-06-096511-2.
- Eisenberg, Harry (1993). Inside "Jeopardy!": What Really Goes on at TV's Top Quiz Show (first ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: Northwest Publishing. ISBN 978-1-56-901177-5.
- Richmond, Ray (2004). This is Jeopardy!: Celebrating America's Favorite Quiz Show. Barnes & Noble Books. ISBN 978-0-76-075374-3.
- Harris, Bob (2006). Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!. Random House Digital. ISBN 978-0-30-73395-60.
- Jennings, Ken (2006). Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs. Random House Digital. ISBN 978-1-40-00644-58.
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- Dupée, Michael (1998). How to Get on Jeopardy!—and Win!: Valuable Information from a Champion. Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-80-651991-3.
- Young, Shaun P. (2012). Jeopardy! and Philosophy: What is Knowledge in the Form of a Question?. Open Court Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-81-26979-95.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jeopardy!|
- Official website
- Jeopardy! (original series) at the Internet Movie Database
- Jeopardy! (current series) at the Internet Movie Database
- The All-New Jeopardy! at the Internet Movie Database
- Super Jeopardy! at the Internet Movie Database
- Jeopardy! at TV.com
The $25,000 Pyramid
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
1990 – 1995
The Price Is Right
The Price Is Right
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
Win Ben Stein's Money
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
2002 – 2003
The Price Is Right
The Price Is Right
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
2005 – 2006
The Price Is Right
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
2011 – 2012
Tied with Wheel of Fortune in 2011