Jeopardy! Intelligence Test
Quiz Announcer: Okay, the colors of the Italian flag are Red, White, and what? Bart: Blue! Homer: Yellow! Bart: Orange, Red, Patty: Green! Homer: Black, White, Green! Contestant: Green! Homer: I was right!
A device employed by writers to demonstrate that a character is particularly intelligent or knowledgeable. A character (often the TV Genius
) will be shown watching a game show on television and instantly blurting out the correct answer to every question. May be played for laughs if the questions are obscure and esoteric to the point of absurdity
. In some cases, this leads to the character being urged by his friends to apply as a contestant on that show.
In America, the game show is most likely to be Jeopardy
, as it has garnered a reputation for being the most difficult of the popular game shows, not to mention because of its distinctive, relatively fast-paced game structure. In the United Kingdom, the notoriously difficult, long-running University Challenge
fills this role.
Of course, it should go without saying that trivial knowledge has little relation to intellect, but this is just a quick and easy way for writers to establish a character as smart.
A common subversion is for the character to have watched the episode before and memorized all the answers.
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- The Ultimate X-Men version of Doug Ramsay got into a private school for mutants due to his smarts, exemplified by his record-breaking streak on Jeopardy!.
- This is done with the hero of Stephen King's "The Moving Finger". In the original story, he was actually watching Jeopardy!, but in the Monsters adaptation, it was a generic quiz show.
- An ex-con in Jodi Picoult's Salem Falls does this every night. He started doing it to protect himself from Prison Rape by making a bet with the other convicts that he could always beat the scores of the televised contestants.
- His passion for the show is key to getting the student he supposedly seduced to confess that she made the whole thing up..
Live Action TV
- In Seinfeld, George becomes a genius by abstaining from sex. Jerry asks whether it's a rerun, but it's not.
- Phoebe does this in one episode of Charmed.
- Parodied in one Friends episode: Joey is watching Wheel of Fortune. He laughs at a player, who can't solve a puzzle with the clue "_OUNT RUSH_ORE". He yells to Chandler, "It's easy! Count Rushmore!"
- This is one of Cliff Clavin's defining character traits. Comes full circle when he actually was on Jeopardy!, but he loses in the final round.
- In one episode of the fourth series of The IT Crowd, Moss participates in the show Countdown and keeps winning, despite crazy odds, by using amazingly obscure words like "tnetennba".
- On one episode of Alright Already, Carol watches an earlier airing of Jeopardy! so that when she watches the same episode later in the day she can impress her boyfriend by knowing all the answers.
- One I Love Lucy episode got kicked off after Ricky proudly announces all the right answers while listening to "Mr. And Mrs. Quiz" on the radio. Lucy then finagles them an invitation to the show, whereupon Ricky admits he was merely at the studio earlier while it was being taped. Naturally, he gets in a oneliner in the process:
Ricky: All I know is Columbus discovered Ohio in 1776!
- On Cougar Town, Grayson and Ellie are left wondering why Laurie beats them handily at bar trivia. Apparently it's because she watches so much Jeopardy. And she cheats.
- Dorothy in The Golden Girls got into one of these and nailed every question. Unfortunately, the boost to her ego turned her into an Insufferable Genius, and she wasn't called back for the actual show since she wouldn't be any fun for the viewers to watch.
- One episode of Big Bang Theory revealed that Mrs. Wolowitz can correctly guess the answers to all Wheel of Fortune puzzles if told the topic and starting letters. As Howard put it:
Howard: Yeah, it's like her superpower; other than setting off car alarms.
- In one Shoe comic strip, one character is watching Jeopardy! and getting all the answers right, but at the end another character leans over and says, "What is 'rerun'?"
- FoxTrot's Jason was seen doing this at least once. Frustrated by all the contestants failing to answer a question and Alex Trebek's condescending response, he points a dart gun at the TV, asking "Who was Alex Trebek?"
- An editorial cartoon from 1987 had then-president Ronald Reagan on Wheel of Fortune. The puzzle board was all exposed save for one letter: "GET TO THE _OTTOM OF THE IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR." Reagan: "Uh...is there a 'Q'?"
- In The Fairly Oddparents, Cosmo and Wanda conjure up a set reminiscent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to prove that Timmy "knows everything".
- Parodied in The Simpsons. When the host asks which German leader gave his name to the capital of North Dakota, Homer yells "Hitler!"
- A Pinky and the Brain short on Animaniacs had Brain go on the quiz show "Gyp-Parody" in order to raise enough money for a device to Take Over the World. He gets every single question right, but bombs the final question and loses everything. Of course, the answer to the final question was Ralph Kramden, which Brain would have known if he had listened to Pinky earlier in the episode.
- The Arthur episode "Arthur and the Big Riddle" started off with Arthur correctly answering the riddles on the game show Riddle Quest, including answering the final riddle before the reigning champion. At Buster's urging, he decides to go on the show himself.
- Him makes The Powerpuff Girls take their SAT tests as part of the series of riddles he forces them to solve in "Him Diddle Riddle." Bubbles, whose SAT card was penciled in with a pattern of a flower, scored the highest.
- Jeff is introduced in Clarence by this.
- The Watson computer made by IBM went on Jeopardy! to prove its intelligence.
- It won, beating Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, two of the most successful Jeopardy! contestants.