Trivia: Jeopardy!

  • Actor Allusion:
    • One celebrity episode of Rock & Roll Jeopardy! consisted entirely of Survivor alumni, and was hosted by Jeff Probst as usual. It also contained an obligatory question about the band that recorded "Eye of the Tiger", which no one answered correctly.
    • "Game Show that has been hosted by Hugh Downs, Jack Narz ... And Alex Trebek". One contestant guessed Jeopardy!.note 
  • Blooper: With their crack research team, Jeopardy! rarely has wrong information in a clue, but it has happened very sporadically.
    • For instance, one clue on April 9, 2004 said that Johnny Gilbert announced on the Bob Barker version of The Price Is Right, which he did not.note 
    • One in early 2012 was actually acknowledged by Alex in a post-production segment during a commercial break: the clue was supposed to say C Major instead of C Minor. Alex also noted that it ended up not mattering since nobody rang in anyway.
    • Heck, one time Alex got the name of one of his former shows wrong, calling it The Wizard of Oz rather than The Wizard of Odds.
    • The scoreboards are also prone to this.
      • On at least the second Trebek episode, during Final Jeopardy!, a contestant's wager was accidentally deducted from another player, although this was quickly fixed.
      • On another occasion, a contestant rang in with an incorrect response, but the value of the clue was briefly added to their score instead of subtracted from it.
  • Executive Meddling: Former associate producer Harry Eisenberg released a book in 1993 which, among other things, claimed that producers would tamper with the questions to help more female players win. Trebek denied the allegations.
    • According to the Sony e-mail hacks, Sony tried to do this during Kids Week when a Stage Mom wrote to them, angry over an incident when her daughter learned she wouldn't participate in that episode's Final Jeopardy and she ran off in a huff, demanding some sort of reparations over it and that her daughter was not a Sore Loser. Sony was actually willing to retape the entire segment to appease them, but Alex Trebek pretty much told Sony that if this was what things were coming to, then it was time for him to leave.
  • Fan Nickname: The 1991-96 set is called the "grid set" by fans, while the 1996-2002 set is called the "sushi bar".
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Trebek was fairly well-known as the host of High Rollers, Battlestars, and The Wizard of Odds (among others) before taking the helm on Jeopardy!.
    • Rock & Roll Jeopardy! was hosted by a pre-Survivor Jeff Probst, but the two shows did run concurrently for a time, with Survivor castaways even competing on celebrity episodes.
    • Senator John McCain was a contestant in August 1965. The NBC microfilm archive on his games (as well as many other Fleming episodes) managed to remain intact; info here.
    • Actor Dileep Rao, best known as the Bollywood Nerd in blockbusters Avatar and Inception, was a contestant in 2002; he won over $34,000 in his sole victory.
    • Noted game show buff Matt Ottinger appeared on June 21, 2004 during the 14th game of Ken Jennings' streak. Matt actually held an big early lead during the Jeopardy! round after correctly gambling $4,600 on the Daily Double, but lost the game after missing Final Jeopardy!
    • The late Randy Amasia, a frequent 1980s game show contestant and alt.tv.game-shows contributor (a.k.a. "The Overlord of ATGS") won $6,900 as a one day champion on Jeopardy! in April 1986, though many genre fans still know him best from his championship run on the short lived Whew! in 1979.
    • Robert Knecht Schmidt founded the fansite J-archive.com, which archives clues from as many games as the archivists can find. Well after the site's foundation, he was a contestant on the show in March 2010, where he won $12,799 in his only win, which came over Cyd Musni, the man who had dethroned eventual TOC winner Vijay Balse the previous week.
    • Josh Fruhlinger (a.k.a. The Comics Curmudgeon) competed on Jeopardy! on July 22nd, 2008, losing to eventual 5 day champion Mark Wales.
    • Peter Dyakowski, offensive lineman for the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger Cats, finished in third place on June 3rd, 2014, in the first game after Julia Collins' 20 day reign as champion ended.
    • Numerous Jeopardy! contestants have competed on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire??, both before and after the fact, most notably 1996 5 day champion Bernie Cullen, who was one of the last $1,000,000 winners on the original ABC version in 2001. Ed Toutant, a one day champion in 1989, also won $1,860,000 in his 2001 Millionaire appearance. Jeopardy! 5+ day champions like Ken Jennings, Eddie Timanus, David Sampugnaro, and Ed Schiffer have also won $50,000 or more on WWTBAM, while 2003 College Championship semifinalist Ken Basin is notable as the first person to ever go for (and miss) the million dollar question, doing so during the show's return to ABC primetime in 2009
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • The original Fleming era is believed to have been destroyed by NBC, although about 20+ episodes are known to exist and four (plus the first five minutes of another) circulate. note 
      • In January 2010, five consecutive episodes from August 1968 and a Tournament of Champions show from late 1969 surfaced on audio tape featuring Burt Sherman's run to become the 48th undefeated champion. The person who presented the tapes, Steve Sherman (Burt's son), also had a pair of four-minute "home movies" consisting entirely of footage from these games; a slideshow of Game 5, plus nine clips from it matching up the audio and video, can be viewed here.
    • The 1974-75 syndicated run and 1978-79 revival are intact; no episodes circulate of the former, while seven episodes circulate of the latter. note 
    • Certain Trebek seasons have rarely been seen on GSN.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Alex Trebek sometimes comes off (particularly in earlier episodes) as snooty and overly-serious on the show, but he has said in interviews that this is only because he wants to get through the material as quickly as possible. In real life (and on most of the other game shows he's hosted), Trebek is a very witty, often self-deprecating person.
  • Meme Acknowledgment: The show occasionally peppers jokes and memes in categories and clues.
    • In the January 31, 2014 episode, for example, the final two categories of the Jeopardy! round are "I Have the Wine" and "By Johnny Cash", in reference to an infamous Wheel of Fortune incident where a contestant thought that was the answer to the puzzle (it was actually "I Walk the Line").
  • Name's the Same: One Celebrity Edition with sports anchors featured this clue: "From 1952 to 1955 this Phillie led the National League in wins, complete games & innings pitched". Both Bob Costas and Keith Olbermann deferred to the third contestant: Then-ESPN anchor and future Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, who guessed correctly that the answer was Phillie great...Robin Roberts.
  • No Budget: Averted with the exception of a major rule change implying this in Season 31. After four shows where co-champions were crowned, the show axed the co-champion rule. Instead of the tied players returning the following day with the same amount of winnings, all ties are now decided with a tie-breaker. The winner keeps their bank and plays on while the loser goes home with $2,000. Many fans have noticed this as a cheap way to save money considering the co-champion rule worked well for the first 30 years of the show's run.
  • Screwed by the Network: Oy.
    • Lin Bolen, who was then NBC's vice president for daytime programming, wanted to oust all of the network's games hosted by middle-aged men on technologically-obsolete sets, as part of an aggressive attempt to bolster ratings among women aged 18-34, so she moved Jeopardy! on January 7, 1974 from its long-held (and ratings-proven) Noon slot to 10:30 AM — directly against The $10,000 Pyramid on CBS; Fleming pummeled Clark's new game into a very unexpected submission at the end of March and ran equal with Pyramid's replacement at that slot, Gambit. Needless to say, this was not what Bolen wanted, and so she moved it on July 1 to 1:30 PM Eastern/12 Noon Pacific — against Let's Make a Deal and As the World Turns in the east (against local programming on CBS affiliates and Password on ABC in the west), which pummeled it into submission. In exchange for the final year of the show's contract, Merv Griffin debuted Wheel of Fortune the Monday after Jeopardy! ended.
    • The 1978-79 version began its life on October 2 at 10:30 AM against the first half of The Price Is Right. On January 8, the show moved to its old Noon slot — now against The Young and the Restless and The $20,000 Pyramid. Jeopardy! was canned two months later.
  • Scully Box: Shorter contestants are placed on boxes so that they can see over the podium. One contestant on October 23, 2014 actually played from a chair on top of a box, because her leg was in a cast.
    • The 1993 College Tournament winner Phoebe Juel recounts how the coordinators had to search the studio for more boxes because the ones which were on hand were too short for her.
  • Throw It In: More than once, Alex has misread a clue and insisted that his slip-up be left in. One example is when he misread "sewers" (i.e., people who sew) as "sewers" (i.e., sanitary sewer).
    • November 19, 1986: In Double Jeopardy!, a contestant is credited with a wrong amount for a clue and this lasts until he finds a Daily Double near the end of the round. He wagers everything but forgets to phrase his response in the form of a question, bringing him down to zero. He doesn't ring in on the final two clues and is disqualified from Final Jeopardy!, making the crew's mistake inadmissible.
    • 1997: After Johnny finished reading the copy for an official Jeopardy! score keeper, Alex accidentally called him "Johnner", causing Johnny to laugh. Alex then lampshaded his slip-up by intentionally misreading the Final Jeopardy! category of Famous Pairs as "Famous Pores".
    • July 2000: Johnny Gilbert mistakenly said "Glenn Trebek". While this may seem a totally arbitrary name-switch, Glenn was the name of both one of that day's contestants and one of the contestant coordinators, who at the time hosted the "practice" games that contestants-to-be played.
  • Un-Cancelled:
    • By NBC nearly four years after it was Screwed by the Network. The Re Tool only lasted five months.
    • Jeopardy! was uncancelled again in 1984 and has been running in syndication ever since.
  • What Could Have Been: The contestant coordinator hosts "rehearsal games", recorded under actual taping conditions and designed to let the contestants "warm up" on clues taken from past episodes. For the first Trebek season (1984-85), the role was filled by former Starcade host Mark Richards and the clues were primarily from the 1983 pilot; coincidentally, Richards got the job for Starcade after Trebek turned it down following a trio of pilots...which means that in another universe Richards is a legend, Trebek is a semi-remembered host whose career began fizzling out after High Rollers, and Geoff Edwards never played a single video game.
    • Only one Tournament of Champions winner has been absent from every later "best-of" tournament on Jeopardy!: 1985 winner Jerry Frankel, though this is sadly due to his death from AIDS the following year. Similarly, Richard Kaplan, who won $73,202 in his 5 day reign in 1992, also died of AIDS not long after his TOC run, making him the highest earning absentee from 2005's Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Would either have held their own against Jeopardy! greats of later seasons?
    • This comes up often for the Jeopardy!'s all-time best of tournaments, where dream matchups might not get made due to how matchups are scheduled, contestant eliminations, or returning contestant availability. For example, imagine if Frank Spangenberg had made the Ultimate Tournament of Champions final with Ken & Brad in 2005 instead of Jerome Vered? Or, would Frank have won 1993's Tenth Anniversary Tournament had the random contestant drawings for each season swung a different way?
    • Most living upper-level contestants from Jeopardy!'s first 5 seasons were invited to their special Super Jeopardy! tournament on ABC in 1990, but notable absences included 1986 TOC finalist Marvin Shinkman, eventual 1990 TOC finalists Steve Berman & Larry Mcknight, and notable regular play contestants like Paul Boymel, Richard Cordray, Roy Holliday, and John Ryan. Given the unique rules and formatting of this event, would any of them had taken advantage to make a long run?
    • 2002's Million Dollar Masters tournament featured 15 4+ day champions or tournament winners from the show's first 17 seasons, and while all were at least Tournament of Champions semifinalists, memorable and fan favourite contestants gained precedence over show results. Notably, 1998 TOC winner Dan Melia wasn't in the field, despite defeating two of the Million Dollar Masters competitors (Bob Harris & Claudia Perry) in his TOC run. How would the tournament had played out had Jeopardy! invited contestants based on their winnings?
    • With a huge field of 145 contestants, it's impressive that only four living Jeopardy! champions declined invites to 2005's Ultimate Tournament of Champions, those being 1990 TOC finalist Larry Mcknight (due to illness), future Battle of the Decades competitor Leslie Miller (née Shannon), and Teen Tournament winners Michael Block & Amanda Goad. Would any of them had found success had they competed? Also, no living Seniors Tournament winners competed either, though it's unclear if any were invited.
      • To be invited to the UTOC, competitors must have won a Jeopardy! tournament or 5 games, with regular-play contestants invited in order by earnings in their original championship reigns. As a result, 5 day champions that earned less than the eventual cutoff of $48,401 ($96,802 inflated) were not invited to compete unless they won a TOC, nor were 4 day champions. How would the tournament had went if contestants were invited based on prior tournament success?
    • Ken Jennings never competed in the regular Tournament of Champions, as he was still champion when the 2004 tournament was held, and he gave up his spot in the 2006 tournament in favour of the automatic finals bye for 2005's Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Had he competed in either, he could have been matched up with notable champions like Tom Kavanaugh, David Madden, Chris Miller, Tom Walsh, and and the eventual winners, Russ Schumacher in 2004 & Michael Falk in 2006. Would Ken have won either event? It's impossible to say, but Ken went head to head with both winners in 2014's Battle of the Decades tournament, where he dominated Falk (and 2004 semifinalist Vinita Kailasanath) in the opening round, and Schumacher was effectively a non-factor against Ken and Chuck Forrest in the semifinals.
    • 2014's Battle of the Decades tournament featured fan favourite voting for one contestant from each decade out of 15 candidates. Among the losing candidates: Tournament of Champions finalists Eugene Finerman, Michael Daunt, and Brian Weikle, as well as Catherine Ramen (who competed on Jeopardy! as Fred Ramen before coming out as transgender.) How would the tournament have played out if they had won the fan vote? Also, notable past Jeopardy! champions like Bob Blake, John Cuthbertson, Jason Keller, David Madden, Chris Miller, Eric Newhouse, Bruce Seymour, and David Siegel weren't in the field in any form, but would any of them made a deep run?
  • Written-In Infirmity:
    • A variant. Season 28 began with Alex Trebek staying at his podium for the whole game, as opposed to walking to the contestant podiums during the interviews, after he tore an Achilles tendon during the summer while chasing a would-be burglar out of a hotel room.
    • On several occasions between 2004 and 2010, he sported a cast on his right wrist due to carpal tunnel syndrome.
    • Season 25 had an unusual variant: contestant Priscilla Ball (who became champion on January 16, 2009) was unable to make the next taping day due to illness. As a result, she was brought back as co-champion on an episode that aired on April 9th, and she won that game as well before losing her third game (ironically, also on a separate taping day.)
    • Sarah Whitcomb Foss of the Clue Crew had her own real-life pregnancy worked into a pregnancy-themed video category on September 18, 2013.