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Jeopardy! wordmark.jpg
Genre Game show
Created by Merv Griffin
Directed by Bob Hultgren (1960s)
Eleanor Tarshis (early 1970s)
Jeff Goldstein (mid-1970s)
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
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes NBC (1964–75): 2,753[1]
Syndication (1974–75): 39
NBC (1978–79): 108
Syndicated (1984–present): 6,835 (as of May 9, 2014)[2]
Executive producer(s) Robert Rubin (1970s)
Merv Griffin (1984–2000)
Harry Friedman (1999–present)
Producer(s) see below
Location(s) NBC Studios (New York City) (1964–75)
The Burbank Studios (1978–79)
Metromedia Square (1984–85)
Hollywood Center Studios (1985–94)
Sony Pictures Studios (1994–present)
Running time approx. 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)
Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
Distributor Metromedia (1974–75)
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 Stereo
Original airing NBC Daytime:
March 30, 1964 (1964-03-30)[3]–January 3, 1975 (1975-01-03)
Weekly syndication:
September 1974 (1974-09)–September 1975 (1975-09)
NBC Daytime:
October 2, 1978 (1978-10-02)–March 2, 1979 (1979-03-02)
Daily syndication:
September 10, 1984 (1984-09-10)–present
External links

Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show features a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge 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 to 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.

With over 6,000 episodes aired as of May 2011,[4] the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has won a record 31 Daytime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. Game Show Network (GSN) ranked the show number 2 on its 2006 list of the 50 greatest game shows, and TV Guide ranked it number 1 in its 2013 list of the 60 greatest game shows ever. The program has gained a worldwide following with regional adaptations in many foreign countries. The 31st season of the daily syndicated Jeopardy! premiered on September 15, 2014.


Three contestants take their place behind three lecterns, each equipped with a lock-out device and a screen with a light pen. During non-tournament games, the returning champion occupies the leftmost lectern from the viewer's perspective. The contestants compete in a quiz game comprising three rounds: Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy!, and Final Jeopardy![5] The material for the questions covers a wide variety of topics (including history and current events, the sciences, the arts, popular culture, literature, and languages),[6] and there are pun-laden titles (many of which refer to the standard subjects), wordplay categories, and even entire sets of categories with a common theme.

First two rounds[edit]

The basic layout of the Jeopardy! game board, using the dollar values from the first round

The Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy! rounds each feature six categories which each contain a column of five clues (phrased in answer form), each clue incrementally valued more than the previous, ostensibly by difficulty.[5] The value of each clue within categories has changed over time: on the original Jeopardy! series, the Jeopardy! round clue values ranged from $10 to $50 in increments of $10;[7] on The All-New Jeopardy!, they ranged from $25 to $125 in $25 increments; on the daily syndicated version, the Jeopardy! round clue values originally ranged from $100 to $500 in increments of $100,[5] but were doubled in value on November 26, 2001;[8] and on the Super Jeopardy! specials, where clue values were in points rather than in dollars, the Jeopardy! round clue values ranged from 200 to 1,000 points in 200-point increments.

The returning champion selects the first clue in the Jeopardy! round from any position on the game board. The selected clue is revealed and read by the host, after which any of the three contestants may ring in using a hand-held signalling device. The first contestant to ring in successfully after the host has read the clue must then provide a response phrased in the form of a question;[5] for example, if a contestant were to select "Presidents for $200", the resulting clue could be "The Father of Our Country, he didn't really chop down a cherry tree", to which the contestant's response should be "Who is George Washington?" 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 time limit of five seconds, deducts the dollar value of the clue from the contestant's score and gives the other opponent(s) the opportunity to ring in and respond.[5] 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.[9]

Contestants must wait until the host finishes reading the clue before signalling; doing so before this point locks the contestant out for one-fourth of a second.[10] Originally, contestants were allowed to ring in at any time after the clue had been revealed, but that rule was changed when the Trebek version's second season premiered in 1985, both to allow home viewers to play along more easily and to decrease the likelihood of faster contestants dominating the game. To accommodate the rule change, lights were added to the game board to signify when it was permissible to signal.[11] Pre-1985 Jeopardy! episodes featured a buzzer that would sound whenever someone signalled; according to Trebek, the buzzer was silenced because it was "distracting to the viewers" and sometimes presented a problem when contestants rang in before he could finish reading the clue.[11]

The Double Jeopardy! round, as its name implies, features clue values that are exactly double the Jeopardy! round values[5] (except during Super Jeopardy!, in which the clue values ranged from 500–2500 points in 500-point increments). The contestant with the least money at the end of the Jeopardy! round makes the first selection in Double Jeopardy![9] 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 leftmost lectern selects first. With the exception of the final two games of a tournament, contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative score are automatically eliminated from the game before Final Jeopardy! and awarded the third place prize. During Celebrity Jeopardy! games, a contestant who finishes Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative score is given $1,000 to wager in Final Jeopardy! On at least one episode hosted by Fleming, all three contestants finished Double Jeopardy! with $0 or less, and, as a result, no Final Jeopardy! was played that day.[12]

One clue hidden on the Jeopardy! round game board, and two on the Double Jeopardy! board, are "Daily Doubles",[5] taking their name and inspiration from a horse racing term.[13] Only the contestant who selects a Daily Double may respond. The contestant must first decide how much to wager, from a minimum of $5 to a maximum of all of their money (known as a "true Daily Double") or the highest dollar clue in the round, whichever is greater.[9] The contestant maintains control of the board and the right to select the subsequent clue, regardless of whether or not their response is correct.[9] Daily Doubles accompanied by audio or video elements are appropriately tagged.

During the Jeopardy! round, except in response to the Daily Double clue, 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, and on the Daily Double clue in the Jeopardy! 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.[14]

Final Jeopardy![edit]

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 on the electronic display using the light pen.[15] 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, while the iconic "Think!" music plays in the background. Contestants who provide the correct response are awarded the values of their respective wagers. The contestant with the least amount of money goes first. Contestants 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 scores.[9]

If two or all three contestants are tied for first place with a positive score at the conclusion of Final Jeopardy! during a semi-final game of a tournament (or, for tournament finals, after the aggregate scores have been combined from the first and second games), a one-clue tiebreaker 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 advances 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 non-final tournament game ends in which no contestant finishes with a positive score, all three contestants are eliminated and another wild card contestant is added.[16] If a tournament finalist finishes Double Jeopardy! with a zero or negative score on either day, that contestant is eliminated from Final Jeopardy! for that day only and their score for that day is recorded as zero.


The top scorer on each episode retains his or her winnings and returns as the champion in the next match,[5] and non-winners receive consolation prizes. 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),[17] cash consolation prizes alleviate the financial burden of appearing on the show.

Since May 16, 2002, the show's consolation prizes have been $2,000 for the second-place contestant(s) and $1,000 for the third-place contestant.[18] On pre-2002 episodes of the Trebek version, consolation prizes for the non-winners typically included vacation packages and merchandise; the merchandise prizes were donated by manufacturers as promotional consideration, so as to keep production costs low.[19] On the Fleming versions, all three contestants kept their winnings, and contestants who finished the game with $0 or a negative score received consolation prizes. When the Trebek version began, the show's producers decided to award full winnings only to the champion in order to make the game more competitive; some Fleming-era contestants would occasionally decide that they only wanted to win a certain amount of money and then stop participating in the game when they reached that amount, or not respond to Final Jeopardy! if another contestant had a significant lead.[20]

Returning champions[edit]

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 episodes featuring regular-play games without any contestants finishing Final Jeopardy! with a positive total, such as the second episode of the Trebek version, aired September 11, 1984,[21] the episode aired March 2, 1998,[22] and the episode aired June 12, 1998.[23] In addition, all three players scored zero during a tournament match twice in tournaments— the 1991 Seniors Tournament first round and the 2013 Teen Tournament semifinals. In those cases, the next highest scoring non-winner after the respective round ends advances (fifth highest scoring non-winner after the first round, highest scoring non-winner in the semifinals).[16]

In regular play, if two or three contestants tie for first place, they are declared co-champions; each retains his or her winnings and returns on the following episode. Contestants who have finished two games as co-champions have included Dane Garrett in Season 2, Sara Cox in Season 7, Dan Girard in Season 14,[24] and Kristin Morgan in Season 29.[25] 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 ended the game with $16,000.[26]

Special considerations are 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 Priscilla Ball, who won on January 16, 2009, was unable to make the taping of the next episode because of illness; three new contestants appeared on the next episode which aired on January 19, 2009, with Trebek explaining at the top of the episode that in such a case, the contestant would return at a later date as a co-champion.[27] Ball returned on the episode that aired April 9, 2009.[28]

Before 2003, a contestant who won five consecutive days retired undefeated and was guaranteed a spot in the Tournament of Champions; three new contestants would appear on the following show. The total cash winnings of the daily syndicated version's champions were originally limited to $75,000, but this limit was increased to $200,000 at the start of the 14th syndicated season in 1997.[29] The limits on champions' appearances and winnings were eliminated at the beginning of Season 20 on September 8, 2003.[30]

Earnings records[edit]

Jeopardy!'s record for the longest winning 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 and a $2,000 second-place prize in his 75th appearance. He earned 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.[31] Jennings later won the $500,000 second-place prize in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, half of a $300,000 prize in the IBM Challenge, and the $100,000 second-place prize in the Battle of the Decades.

The biggest all-time money winner on Jeopardy! is Brad Rutter, who has won a cumulative total of $4,355,102 on the show.[32] He became an undefeated champion in 2000 and later won an unprecedented four Jeopardy! tournaments: the 2001 Tournament of Champions,[33] the Million Dollar Masters Tournament, the Ultimate Tournament of Champions,[34] and the Battle of the Decades. Following his third tournament win, in which he defeated Jennings and Jerome Vered in the finals, Rutter broke Jennings's all-time game show winnings record. Jennings later regained the record by appearing on various other game shows, culminating in an appearance on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? on October 10, 2008. Rutter regained the title in 2014 after winning $1,000,000 in the Battle of the Decades, defeating Jennings and Roger Craig in the finals.

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 an additional $30,000 in the Final Jeopardy! round, finishing with $77,000, breaking the previous single-day record of $75,000 which had been held by Jennings.[35]

The record-holder among female contestants on Jeopardy!—in both number of games and total winnings—is Julia Collins, who amassed $429,100 over 21 games between April 21 and June 2, 2014. She won $428,100 in her 20 games as champion, plus $1,000 for finishing third in her twenty-first game.[36] Collins also achieved the second-longest winning streak on the show, behind Ken Jennings. The streak, which was interrupted in May by the Battle of the Decades, was broken by Brian Loughnane.[37][38]

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.[39] Only three contestants on pre-2002 episodes of the Trebek version won a game with the lowest amount possible ($1). The first was U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Darryl Scott, on the episode that aired January 19, 1993;[40] the second was Benjamin Salisbury, on a Celebrity Jeopardy! episode that aired April 30, 1997;[41] and the third was Brandi Chastain, also on a Celebrity Jeopardy! episode from the Las Vegas Hilton that aired on February 9, 2001.[42]


Hosts and announcers[edit]

Art Fleming hosted the NBC and syndicated versions from 1964 to 1975.
Alex Trebek has hosted the daily syndicated version since 1984.

Both NBC versions and the 1974–75 syndicated version were hosted by Art Fleming. Don Pardo served as announcer for the first two versions of the show,[7] but when NBC's revival The All-New Jeopardy! launched in 1978, Pardo's announcing duties were taken over by John Harlan.[43]

When the daily syndicated version premiered in 1984, Alex Trebek was selected to be the show's host, a role he has held ever since,[44] except on the episode aired April 1, 1997, when Pat Sajak filled in for him as part of an April Fool's joke.[45] Various personalities have been considered to replace him for the 2016–17 season, such as Matt Lauer,[46] Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, and Dan Patrick.[47] The daily syndicated version's first pilot, from 1983, featured Jay Stewart as its announcer,[48] but Johnny Gilbert took over the role when that version was picked up as a series.[44]

Clue Crew[edit]

Kelly Miyahara of the Clue Crew at the International CES in Winchester, Nevada

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.[49] Over 5,000 people applied for Clue Crew posts within weeks of the announcement of auditions for that team.[50]

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.[50]

The original Clue Crew members were Cheryl Farrell, Jimmy McGuire, Sofia Lidskog, and Sarah Whitcomb.[49] 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.[51] The winners of that search were Jon Cannon and Kelly Miyahara, who formally joined the crew starting in Season 22, which premiered on September 12, 2005.[52] Farrell continued to appear on the program through 2007. Cannon left in 2008.[48]

The Clue Crew has traveled to 280 cities worldwide, spanning all 50 of the United States and 44 foreign countries. In addition to showcasing Jeopardy! clues accompanied by video, the team's members travel to meet fans of the show and future contestants. Occasionally, they visit schools to showcase the educational game Classroom Jeopardy![53]

Production staff[edit]

Robert Rubin served as the producer of the original Jeopardy! series for most of its run, then later became its executive producer.[54] Show creator Merv Griffin was the Trebek version's executive producer until his retirement in 2000.[55] Since 1999, the title of executive producer has been held by Harry Friedman,[56] who had shared the title with Griffin for his first year, and had earlier served as a producer for two years.[54]

After Rubin became executive producer, the line producer of the original Jeopardy! series was Lynette Williams.[54] The All-New Jeopardy! was produced by George Vosburgh, and Trebek produced the daily syndicated version himself until 1987, when he handed producer duties back to Vosburgh upon becoming the host of NBC's Classic Concentration for the next four years.[55] In the 1997–98 season, Vosburgh was succeeded as producer by Friedman, Lisa Finneran, and Rocky Schmidt; after Friedman became sole executive producer, Gary Johnson became the new third producer for the show. In the 2006–07 season, Deb Dittman and Brett Schneider became the producers, and Finneran, Schmidt, and Johnson were promoted to supervising producers.[54]

The original Jeopardy! series was directed at different times by Bob Hultgren, Eleanor Tarshis, and Jeff Goldstein.[54] Dick Schneider, who had earlier directed episodes of The All-New Jeopardy!, returned as director for the Trebek version's first eight seasons. Since 1992, the show has been directed by Kevin McCarthy, who had previously served as associate director under Schneider.[55]

The Trebek-hosted syndicated version of Jeopardy! employs nine writers and five researchers to create and assemble the categories and clues.[57] Billy Wisse and Michele Loud, both longtime staff members, are the editorial producer and editorial supervisor, respectively.[58] Previous writing and editorial supervisors have included Jules Minton, Terrence McDonnell, and Gary Johnson.[54]


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).[59] The copyright holder of that version's episodes is Jeopardy Productions, Inc., which, like SPT, also operates as a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment.[60] 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.[59]

The original Jeopardy! series was taped in Studio 6A at NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City,[61] and The All-New Jeopardy! was taped in Studio 3 at NBC's Burbank Studios at 3000 West Alameda Avenue in Burbank, California.[3] The Trebek version was initially taped at Metromedia Stage 7, KTTV-TV, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood,[3] 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,[3] where the show's episodes have been taped ever since. The show's production designer is Naomi Slodki.[58] Previous art directors have included Henry Lickel, Dennis Roof,[62] Bob Rang,[54] and Ed Flesh (the last of whom designed sets for other game shows such as The $25,000 Pyramid, Name That Tune, and Wheel of Fortune).[63]


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.[64]

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.[65] 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.[66] He originally intended the show to require grammatically correct phrasing (e.g., only accepting "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.[67] Griffin discarded his initial title for the show, What's the Question?, when skeptical network executive Ed Vane rejected his original concept of the game, claiming, "It doesn't have enough jeopardies".[66][68]

Audition process[edit]

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. Successful auditioners were invited to appear on the program within approximately six weeks.[69]

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. Participants 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,[70] but more recently, prospective contestants have been able to obtain the location of regional contestant searches or register to participate in an online test on the official website. Since Season 15 (1998–99), the show has used a Winnebago recreational vehicle called the "Jeopardy! Brain Bus" measuring 32 feet (9.8 m), to conduct regional contestant searches throughout the United States and Canada.[71] Attendees not wishing to compete for a chance to appear on the show can play a shortened game of Jeopardy! to win merchandise related to the show.

Theme music[edit]

Since the debut of Jeopardy! in 1964, several different songs and arrangements have served as the theme music for the show, most of which were composed by Griffin. The main theme for the original Jeopardy! series was "Take Ten",[72] composed by Griffin's wife Julann.[73] The All-New Jeopardy! opened with "January, February, March" and closed with "Frisco Disco", both of which were composed by Griffin himself.[74]

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.[75] "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.[76] "Think!" has become so popular that it has been used in many different contexts, from sporting events to weddings.[77] Griffin estimated that the use of "Think!" had earned him royalties of over $70 million throughout his lifetime.[78] "Think!" led Griffin to win the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) President's Award in 2003,[79] and during GSN's 2009 Game Show Awards special, it was named "Best Game Show Theme Song".[80] The main theme and Final Jeopardy! recordings of "Think!" were later rearranged by Steve Kaplan, who served as the show's music director until his 2003 death,[81] and when the show began its 25th season in 2008, the Jeopardy! music package was given a complete overhaul by Chris Bell Music and Sound Design.[82]


Various sets used by the syndicated version over the years. From top to bottom: 1984–85, 1985–91, 1991–96, 1996–2002, 2002–09, 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 values in each category.[7] The All-New Jeopardy!'s game board was exposed from behind double-slide panels and featured flipping panels with the dollar amount on one side and the clue on the other. 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,[83] and in 2006, these monitors were discarded in favor of a nearly seamless projection video wall,[84] which was replaced in 2009 with 36 high-definition flat-panel monitors manufactured by Sony Electronics.[85]

From 1985–97, 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. At the beginning of Season 8 in 1991, a brand new set was introduced that resembled a grid.[83] 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, with wood and sandblasted glass and blue granite".[86] Shortly after the start of Season 19 in 2002, the show switched to yet another new set,[87] which was given slight modifications when Jeopardy! and Wheel transitioned to high-definition broadcasting in 2006.[84] During this time, the show began to feature virtual tours of the set on its official web site.[88]

The various high-definition 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.[84] 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.

In 2009, Jeopardy! once again switched to a new set. It 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 show began taping its 26th season, which premiered on September 14, 2009.[85] It was significantly remodeled when Season 30 premiered in September 2013.[89]


The original Jeopardy! series premiered on NBC on March 30, 1964,[3] and garnered the second-highest ratings among daytime game shows by the end of the 1960s, second only to The Hollywood Squares.[90] The show was successful until 1974, when Lin Bolen, then NBC's Vice President of Daytime Programming, moved the show out of the noontime slot where it had been located for the majority of its run, as part of her effort to boost ratings among the 18–34 female demographic.[91] After 2,753 episodes, the original Jeopardy! series was ended on January 3, 1975; to compensate Griffin for its cancellation, NBC purchased Wheel of Fortune, another show that he had created, and premiered it the following Monday.[1] A syndicated edition distributed by Metromedia, featuring many contestants who were previous champions on the original series, aired its episodes in the primetime during the 1974–75 season.[92] Even later, the NBC daytime series was revived as The All-New Jeopardy!, which premiered on October 2, 1978[93] and aired 108 episodes, ending on March 2, 1979;[94] this revival featured significant rule changes, such as progressive elimination of contestants over the course of the main game, and a bonus round instead of Final Jeopardy![5]

The daily syndicated version debuted on September 10, 1984,[95] and was launched in response to the success of the syndicated version of Wheel[96] and the installation of electronic trivia games in pubs and bars.[97] This version of the program has met with greater success than the previous incarnations; it has outlived 300 other game shows and become the second most popular game show in syndication, averaging 25 million viewers per week.[32] The show's most recent renewal, from October 2012, takes it through the 2015–16 season.[98]

Three spin-off programs of Jeopardy! have been created. Rock & Roll Jeopardy!, which debuted on VH1 in 1998[99] and ran until 2001, centered around post-1950s popular music trivia and was hosted by Jeff Probst.[5] Jep!, which aired on GSN during the 1998–99 season, was a special children's version hosted by Bob Bergen that featured various rule changes.[100] Sports Jeopardy!, an exclusively online version hosted by Dan Patrick, premieres September 24, 2014 on the Crackle digital service.[101]

Countries with versions of Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! has spawned versions in many foreign countries throughout the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Israel, and Australia.[102] International distribution of the American syndicated version of Jeopardy! is handled by CBS Studios International, which, like CTD, is a unit of CBS Corporation.[103]

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),[104] until the Fall 2012 television season when CBC dropped Jeopardy! and Wheel in favor of Canadian-produced programming.[105][106] Since 2012, the Canadian broadcast rights to Jeopardy! and Wheel have been owned by CHCH-DT. Before 2008, the show aired across Canada on most CTV stations, with the exception of Vancouver's CTV station CIVT-TV.

Special editions[edit]

Starting in 1985, the show has held an annual Tournament of Champions featuring the top fifteen champions who have appeared on the show since the last tournament. Originally valued at $100,000,[102] the top prize awarded to the winner was increased to $250,000 in 2003.[107] 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.[108]

Other major special events conducted by Jeopardy! on a regular basis include the Teen Tournament, which features competition among fifteen teenagers with the winner receiving $75,000;[103] the College Championship, 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;[103] Celebrity Jeopardy!, in which celebrities and other notable individuals compete for charitable organizations of their choice;[109] Kids Week, a special competition for school-age children aged 10 through 12;[110] and the Teachers Tournament, which features fifteen educators competing for a grand prize of $100,000.[4] The Teen Tournament, College Championship, and Teachers Tournament all follow the same basic format as the Tournament of Champions; the College Championship and Teachers Tournament winners are invited to participate in the Tournament of Champions.

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.[86][102] 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![86]

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, featured 37 top contestants from the previous seasons of the Trebek version and one notable champion from the original Jeopardy! series competing for a top prize of $250,000.[92] In 1993, a Tenth Anniversary Tournament was conducted over five episodes and aired following the conclusion of that year's regular Tournament of Champions.[111] 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.[112] 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 the largest prize in the show's history, a top prize of $2,000,000;[92] overall, the tournament spanned 76 shows, starting on February 9 and ending on May 25.[113] In 2014, Jeopardy! commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Trebek version with a Battle of the Decades tournament, in which 15 champions apiece from the first, second, and third decades of Jeopardy! '​s daily syndicated history competed for a grand prize of $1,000,000.[114]

In November 1998, Jeopardy! traveled to Boston to reassemble 12 past Teen Tournament contestants for a special Teen Reunion Tournament.[71] Then in 2008, the show began its 25th season by reuniting 15 players from the first two Kids Weeks to compete in a special reunion tournament of their own.[115] During the next season (2009–10), a special edition of Celebrity Jeopardy!, called the Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational, was played in which twenty-seven contestants from past celebrity episodes competed for a grand prize of $1,000,000 for charity; the grand prize was won by Michael McKean.[116]

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.[117] This was the first man-vs.-machine competition in Jeopardy!'s history.[118] 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).[119] 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.[120] The competition brought the show its highest ratings since the Ultimate Tournament of Champions.[121]

Episode status[edit]

Only a small number of episodes from the original NBC daytime version survive, mostly as black-and-white kinescopes of the original color videotapes.[122] Various episodes from 1967, 1971, 1973, and 1974 are listed among the holdings of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.[123] The 1964 "test episode", Episode No. 2,000 (from February 21, 1972), and a June 1975 episode of the weekly syndicated edition exist at the Paley Center for Media.[124] Incomplete paper records of the NBC-era games exist on microfilm at the Library of Congress. 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.[94] The UCLA Archive holds a copy of a pilot taped for CBS in 1977,[123] and the premiere exists among the Paley Center's holdings.[124]

All Trebek-hosted episodes of Jeopardy! are completely intact, including both of the daily syndicated version's pilot episodes. 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 have been collected by the UCLA Archive,[123] and the premiere and various other episodes are included in the Paley Center's collection.[124]

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 before the taping of each game. This number is audible on the episodes when they are received by the affiliates and is visible on the slate attached to them, which 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 (1984–85) were given new show numbers despite not being new games,[125] and a single game of the "IBM Challenge" was broadcast over two shows[126] (No. 6086, No. 6087).


Jeopardy! has won a record 31 Daytime Emmy Awards since 1984.[57] The show holds the record for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show, with thirteen awards won in that category.[57] Another five awards have been won by Trebek for Outstanding Game Show Host.[57] Twelve other awards were won by the show's directors and writers in the respective categories of Outstanding Direction for a Game/Audience Participation Show and Outstanding Special Class Writing before these categories were removed in 2006. On June 17, 2011, Trebek shared the Lifetime Achievement Award with Sajak at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony.[127] The following year, the show was honored with a Peabody Award for its role in encouraging, celebrating, and rewarding knowledge.[128]

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.[129] Then, in January 2001, the magazine ranked the show number 2 on its "50 Greatest Game Shows" list—second only to The Price Is Right.[130] It would later rank Jeopardy! number 1 in its 2013 list of the 60 Greatest Game Shows (with Price slipping to number 5).[131] In the summer of 2006, the show was ranked number 2 on GSN's list of the 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time, second only to Match Game.[132]

A hall of fame honoring Jeopardy! was added to the Sony Pictures Studios tour on September 20, 2011. It showcases the show's Emmy Awards and also features retired set pieces, classic merchandise, video clips, photographs, and other memorabilia related to Jeopardy! history.[133]

Other media[edit]

Portrayals and parodies[edit]

Jeopardy! has seen a number of portrayals and parodies in television, film, and literature over the years, mostly with one or more characters participating as contestants, or viewing and interacting with the game show from their own homes.


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 seen various board game adaptations of its own, marketed at different times by Pressman Toy Corporation, Tyco Toys, and Parker Brothers.[146] 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.[147] Adaptations of the show have also been created for personal computers, Facebook,[148] Twitter, Android, and the Roku Channel Store.[149]

A DVD titled Jeopardy!: An Inside Look at America's Favorite Quiz Show, released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on November 8, 2005, features five memorable episodes of the Trebek version (the 1984 premiere, Jennings' final game, and the three finals matches of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions)[150] and three featurettes discussing the show's history and question selection process.[151] Other products featuring the Jeopardy! brand include a collectible watch, a series of daily desktop calendars, and various slot machine games for casinos and the Internet.


Jeopardy! '​s official website, active as early as 1998,[152] receives over 400,000 monthly visitors.[153] The website features videos, photographs, and textual information related to the contestants for each new week, as well as minisites promoting remote tapings and special tournaments. As the show changes its main title card and corresponding graphics with every passing season, the Jeopardy! website is re-skinned to reflect each introduction of a new main title design, and the general content of the site (such as online tests and promotions, programming announcements, "spotlight" segments, photo galleries, and downloadable content) is regularly updated to align with producers' priorities for the show.[154] In its 2012 "Readers Choice Awards", Carrie Grosvenor of praised the official Jeopardy! website for featuring "everything [visitors] need to know about the show, as well as some fun interactive elements", and for featuring "one of the funniest error pages [she had] ever seen".[155]

In November 2009, Jeopardy! launched a viewer loyalty program called the "Jeopardy! Premier Club", which allowed home viewers to identify Final Jeopardy! categories from episodes for a chance to earn points, and play a weekly Jeopardy! game featuring categories and clues from the previous week's episodes. Every three months, players were selected randomly to advance to one of three quarterly online tournaments; after these tournaments were played, the three highest scoring players would play one final online tournament for the chance to win $5,000 and a trip to Los Angeles to attend a taping of Jeopardy![156] The Premier Club was discontinued by July 2011.[157]

There is an unofficial Jeopardy! fansite known as the "J! Archive" (, which transcribes games from throughout Jeopardy! '​s daily syndicated history. In the archive, episodes are covered by Jeopardy!-style game boards with panels which, when hovered over with a mouse, reveal the correct response to their corresponding clues and the contestant who gave the correct response. The site makes use of a "wagering calculator" that helps potential contestants determine what amount is safest to bet during Final Jeopardy!, and an alternative scoring method called "Coryat scoring" that disregards wagering during Daily Doubles or Final Jeopardy! and gauges one's general strength at the game. The site's main founding archivist is Robert Knecht Schmidt, a student from Cleveland, Ohio,[158] who himself appeared as a contestant on Jeopardy! episodes aired in March 2010.[159] Before J! Archive, there was an earlier Jeopardy! fansite known as the "Jeoparchive", created by Season 19 contestant Ronnie O'Rourke, who managed and updated the site until Jennings' run made her disillusioned with the show.[158]


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