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!: Alex 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.
    • Sports Jeopardy! writer & consultant Howie Schwab (who is occasionally seen on camera) is well known as ESPN's longtime statistician until 2013, and the co-host of the mid-2000s ESPN2 game show Stump The Schwab.
    • 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.
    • 1968 5 day champion and Tournament of Champions winner Hutton "Red" Gibson became known after his Jeopardy! run as an author, conspiracy theorist, and critic of the modern Roman Catholic Church (and also as the father of Mel Gibson). After moving to Australia, he was also a champion on multiple game shows there, winning $100,000 and a luxury car on one.
    • 1969 5 day champion and Tournament of Champions winner Jay Wolpert followed his success as a game show contestant by becoming a successful game show producer & creator, notably producing The Price Is Right in the 1970s and its short lived 1994-95 syndicated version, the 1998-99 version of Match Game, as well as creating shows like Whew!, Hit Man, and Shopping Spree. He also wrote the script for the 2002 film adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo.
    • A number of Art Fleming-era contestants have returned to compete on the Alex Trebek version of Jeopardy!, mostly in this version's earlier seasons. Notably, 1965 TOC winner Babs Mcclelland was a semifinalist in the 1991 Seniors Tournament, 1966 winner Burns Cameron (the biggest cash winner of the Fleming era) was invited to 1990's Super Jeopardy! tournament, and 1969 TOC finalist Elliot Shteir was a finalist in the penultimate Seniors Tournament in 1995. Fleming-era contestants continue to sporadically appear even today, like October 2015 contestant Zelda Pulliam.
    • A decade before beginning his run as the host of NPR's panel game show Wait Wait Dont Tell Me, playwright, columnist, and actor Peter Sagal finished in second place in a Jeopardy! game on April 1988.
    • 1988 Teen Tournament and 1998 Teen Reunion Tournament finalist David Javerbaum later found major success as a comedy writer and producer, winning 13 Emmy Awards, 11 of them for his work on The Daily Show from 1999-2010. He currently produces The Late Late Show, runs the popular Tweet of God page on Twitter, and has co-composed the score for Broadway plays, Tony Award opening ceremonies, and TV specials.
    • 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.
    • 2006 United States Poker Champion Alex Jacob followed his success as a poker player by becoming a 6 day Jeopardy! champion in April 2015, and won the $250,000 top prize in the Tournament of Champions that November (though it pales in comparison to his $2.6 million in career poker winnings.)
    • Numerous Jeopardy! contestants have competed on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, 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. A handful of other top Millionaire winners have previously been Jeopardy! champions too, like Kevin Olmstead & Ed Toutant. Jeopardy! 5+ day champions like Ken Jennings, Leszek Pawlowicz, Eddie Timanus, David Sampugnaro, and Ed Schiffer have also won $50,000 or more on WWTBAM, while 2006 TOC finalist Bill Macdonald is the only person to win at least $125,000 on both shows. As well, 1988 4 day champion (and TOC alternate) Michael Shutterly was the first person to ever see the $1,000,000 question on Millionare in 1999 (he walked with $500,000), and 2003 College Championship semifinalist Ken Basin was 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.
    • Past Jeopardy! contestants are welcome to try out for and compete on the Crackle spinoff Sports Jeopardy!, and a handful of familiar faces from past Tournaments of Champions have done just that, like Dan McShane (who won his game and almost made the 2015 championship finals), Cora Peck, Claudia Perry, and Kate Waits.
  • 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 
    • When reran on GSN, certain Trebek-era seasons were rarely seen there, especially from seasons prior to 1996. Just 5 episodes have been officially released on DVD via 2006's Jeopardy - An Inside Look at America's Favorite Quiz Show, those being the series premiere from 1984 and 4 Ken Jennings games (his 75th and final regular game from November 2004 and the Ultimate Tournament of Champions final games from 2005)
      • At it's logical extreme, infamous 1986 five day champion Barbara Lowe's games were never re-aired after their original run in any form. Given her reputation, it's unlikely the episodes will be seen until a tape turns up in someone's collection, despite her first win coming over 4 day champion & TOC semifinalist Lionel Goldbart.
  • Life Imitates Art: After winning 2002's Million Dollar Masters tournament, Brad Rutter took a page from Alex Trebek's playbook and became a game show host of his own, on the regional Pennsylvania quiz bowl series Inquizitive with Brad Rutter, and was introduced as a TV quiz show host during 2005's Ultimate Tournament of Champions. He has also been informally suggested by some fans as a candidate to replace Alex on Jeopardy! when the time comes.
    • A handful of Celebrity Jeopardy! and Power Players Week contestants have also followed their Jeopardy! appearances by becoming game show hosts, like Regis Philbin & Meredith Vieira (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?), Wayne Brady (Let's Make A Deal), and Anderson Cooper (The CNN Quiz Show), who has been a rumoured Trebek replacement in his own right.
  • 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.
    • A contestant by the name of Patrick Quinn won Season 28's Teacher's Tournament. 24 years prior, a man named Kerry Ketcham infamously appeared on Super Password as a fugitive under a fake alias. His assumed name? Patrick Quinn.
  • 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.
  • The Pete Best:
    • Art Fleming, Don Pardo, and John Harlan are comparatively lesser-known for their tenures than Alex Trebek and Johnny Gilbert, except maybe among "Weird Al" Yankovic fans.
    • When it debuted in 2001, the Clue Crew consisted of Jimmy McGuire, Sarah Whitcomb (Foss), Cheryl Farrell, and Sofia Lidskog. Lidskog quit in 2004 and was replaced by both Kelly Miyahara and Jon Cannon. Farrell and Cannon left in 2008 and 2009, leaving the most familiar lineup of Jimmy, Sarah, and Kelly.
  • 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 Lets 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 memorable instance from March 5th, 2004 has Alex misteading the word "sewers" in the clue "The handy-dandy device seen here helps sewers do this", pronouncing it "soo-ers" (as in the context of "sanitary sewer", not "people who sew".) Alex laughed upon realizing his mistake, which he asked to be left in (which it was.)
    • November 19, 1986: In Double Jeopardy! of a Tournament of Champions semifinal game, 4 day champion Lionel Goldbart was credited with $400 for a $200 clue, which was never explicitly corrected. In any event, he lost everything on a late Daily Double after he forgot to phrase the correct answer in the form of a question. It is possible that producers felt it was their mistake and let him keep the extra $200, or that a correction wouldn't have mattered given that he lost everything on the Daily Double.
    • October 16, 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 5, 2000: In the introduction, Johnny Gilbert mistakenly announced Alex as "Glen Trebek". While this may seem like a totally arbitrary name-switch, Glen was the name of both one of that day's returning champion (Glen Savory) 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?
    • As every Tournament of Champions qualifying period is different, there are many TOC fields where a high earning 3 or 4 day champion (and potential strong contender) will miss the cut, where they would have been slam dunks to make the event in other years. Notably, Jason Parker won $59,800 as a 4 day champion in 2000, but did so in a qualifying period with 16 5 day champions, shutting him out of the 2001 TOC. Another high earning absentee: Matt Handel, who won $63,801 in 1994, higher than eight of that year's TOC's 12 regular play qualifiers, but did so as a 3 day champion in a year with no room for a 3 day champ.
    • 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?
    • In Jeopardy! tournaments, there is always an alternate contestant for each round in the event of an emergency that prevents a regular contestant from competing (in the quarterfinals, it's an invited alternate that missed the TOC field, while in later rounds, it's the contestant with the highest score from the prior round that didn't advance.) Such a replacement has never been needed, but what if it was? For example, 2014 20 day champion Julia Collins was battling the flu during that year's Tournament of Champions, but played on and made the finals. Had she have dropped out prior to any of the three rounds, her replacement would have been either Mike Lewis, Rani Peffer, or Terry O'Shea.
    • 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?
    • With more 5 day champions than available slots in the qualifying period for the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the last two (Mark Dawson & Alan Bailey) were held over for the 2003 event, but also served as alternates for the 2001 TOC due to uncertainty over travel restrictions for competitors in the wake of the September 11th attacks. If needed to fill in, how would either have done in the 2001 field? Mark won the 2003 TOC, but would he have been similarly successful against the likes of Brad Rutter and Pam Mueller in 2001? Also, had he not have been in the 2003 field, would runner-up Brian Weikle (the then-one day winnings record holder) have won the tournament instead?
    • 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), Million Dollar Masters semifinalist Leslie Shannon (née Miller), 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.
      • Also from 2006, 5 day champion (and TOC semifinalist) Bob Mesko's last 2 wins came after he was invited back to the show three months after his original loss due to a poorly worded Daily Double. Had he lost without issue, or had producers chose not to bring back, his 3 day score would not have been enough to qualify for the 2006 TOC, and 2005 3 day champion Bud Humphrey would have qualified in his place.
    • 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?
    • Due to the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in November 2014 and its potential impact on their annual online testing, Jeopardy! did not hold the College Championship in the 2014-15 season. This opened up an extra slot for the 2015 TOC that was filled by 3 day champion Michael Bilow, who became the first 3 day champ to qualify for a TOC since 2007. Would a hypothetical College Champion in season 31 have made a run in that event in Michael's place?
    • Since the 5 day winning limit was abolished, there have been two cases of defending champions at the end of a Tournament of Champions qualifiying period that would have qualified for that TOC, rather than the one afterwards, had they lost the last game beforehand (Ken Jennings in 2004 & Joshua Brakhage in 2013.) Had either done so, Tom Baker and Dan Mcshane would have been eliminated from the 2004 & 2013 fields respectively, and 4 day champion Mike Lewis (who won $102,800 as a 4 day champion in a tough qualifying period) would have made the 2014 TOC in Joshua's place.
      • Conversely, had Paul Glaser won his sixth game just prior to the beginning of the 2007 TOC, he'd have been held over to the 2009 field. If this has occurred, 3 day champion Julie Dunlevy would have qualified for the 2007 TOC in his place, and 4 day champion Deborah Fitzgerald would have missed the 2009 TOC.
  • 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 and credits, after he tore an Achilles tendon during the summer while chasing a would-be burglar out of a hotel room. Similar accommodations happened again for the games following December 21st, 2015, due to Alex undergoing knee replacement surgery.
    • On several occasions between 2004 and 2010, Alex sported a cast on his right wrist, rumored to be a result of 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.) Similar circumstances affected December 2015 2 day champion Claudia Corriere, and though her absence the following week was due to a gig for her church band, taping cancellations relating to Alex Trebek's knee surgery led to the scheduling conflict when taping resumed.
    • Sarah Whitcomb Foss of the Clue Crew had her own real-life pregnancy worked into a pregnancy-themed video category on September 18, 2013.