Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
YMMV: Jeopardy!

  • Adaptation Displacement: The current version has far outlasted the Art Fleming era, but the show clearly hasn't forgotten its roots; clues about the Art Fleming era appear now and then, and some contestants have appeared on both versions.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Unlike most other game shows of American origin, Jeopardy! has mostly failed to catch on in other countries, with few foreign adaptations lasting more than a couple years. A notable exception is Своя игра, the Russian adaptation, which has run since 1994.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Ken Jennings (2003-04). Some see him as The Ace or a Badass Normal, who knows a lot about many things (even drinks, despite being a teetotaler). Others see him as a Boring Invincible Hero, who proved what a bad idea it was to have unlimited wins.
    • Colby Burnett, winner of the 2013 Tournament of Champions. On one hand, he was quite good at the game and quite Genre Savvy with his wagering in early games. On the other hand, he got increasingly cocky with each win. By the finals of the ToC, he was about on par with Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery on Saturday Night Live's Celebrity Jeopardy! skits.
    • Arthur Chu (2014). His nontraditional, game logic driven method of playing and winning Jeopardy! by choosing questions out of order to fish out Daily Doubles is either a refreshing change of pace in a stale formula, or ruins everything that made Jeopardy! great. About 95% of the people commenting about Arthur Chu on Facebook express outrage and hatred of him. On the other hand, a good chunk of the fanbase on Reddit loves his strategy. And for those who don't mind his strategy (it's also used by savvy players who are facing equally capable foes and especially by some during the Tournament of Champions note ), Chu also grated due to his lack of contestant courtesy, often speaking over Trebek. Defenders of him often justify this as a way of speeding up gameplay, as many viewers dislike it when clues are left unrevealed on the board due to time running out.
      • Chu's strategy isn't anything new. The strategy is referred to as the "Forrest Bounce", named after one of the show's early dominant players, Chuck Forrest. However, even Alex himself has said that he doesn't think highly of the "Forrest Bounce".
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: After an inflatable shark was used in a video clue, said shark made an out-of-nowhere appearance going into commercial.
  • Creator's Pet: Since his winning streak in 2004, Ken Jennings became one. In the 2005 "Ultimate Tournament of Champions", he had a bye into the final round, whereas most players had to win their way into subsequent rounds.
  • Critical Research Failure: June 11, 2012. Final Jeopardy! asked "Acts 1:13 says this event occurred in 'an upper room'." They were looking for The Last Supper, and initially ruled the champion's response of Pentecost wrong, but Alex later acknowledged the latter as right in a dubbed-in clip and mentioned that, starting with the next game, his score would be adjusted accordingly. The truth is, there is no right answer Acts 1:13 makes no mention of any "act" besides the disciples meeting there, and Pentecost doesn't show up until Acts 2. Furthermore, the exact location of the Last Supper is unknown; it is believed to have happened in an upper room simply because that was tradition. Fortunately, this did not affect the outcome, since only two players were present at Final Jeopardy! and the contestant who answered "Pentecost" had a "lock" game.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The current Theme Tune, which debuted on the first show of Trebek's 25th season in September 2008.
    • The think music is iconic in itself, but the current version with a small orchestra taking over the second half of the song from the pianos is awesome, particularly when it cues up and the made-for-HD backdrop turns from blue to red.
  • Ear Worm: The "Think!" theme.
  • Franchise Original Sin: The show has frequently used categories with Punny Names, but starting in the 1997-98 season, almost every category has some sort of pun, almost to the level of Win Ben Steins Money.
  • Game Breaker: Until 2003, Jeopardy! champions could win up to five games before being retired. Starting in the 2003-04 season, the producers instituted a "sky's the limit" rule, where champions could go on and on winning until being defeated. Towards the season's end, Ken Jennings came along and went on a 74-game winning streak that lasted into the next season. And it's debatable whether Jennings' last game was a genuine loss, or him throwing in the towel, thinking "I've got enough, I can go home now." Considering how many shows are filmed in a day, it's completely understandable if it's the latter.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The first episode of Trebek's Jeopardy! in 1984 had these two back-to-back questions "Two Saturday Night alumni who tried Trading Places", the answer being "Who are Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy?", and "He may Never Say Never Again when asked to be Bond", with the answer obviously being "Who is Sean Connery?". That's right Sean Connery and SNL have been part of Trebek's Jeopardy! since the beginning.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • On July 31, 2013, an eighth grader on Kids' Week was penalized for misspelling Emancipation Proclamation for his Final Jeopardy! response. In the days that followed, angry posts flooded the show's Facebook page, claiming that since children were playing the game, the judges should have been more lenient. Journalists and news websites also chimed in on the issue with the contestant claiming he was robbed because of his spelling error. What makes this even worse is that he would've gotten only second place regardless and worse yet, the controversy over the misspelling is completely overshadowing the fact that first place absolutely owned the game to the tune of $66,600.
    • On October 14, 2013, the defending champion was penalized for misspelling Kazakhstan for his Final Jeopardy! response (he misspelled it as Kazkhistan). There were many angry posts that flooded the Facebook page, from people who thought that the judges should have been more lenient, given that Alex said, "we don't normally penalize for a misspelled word" but that in Final Jeopardy! the misspelling changed the phonetic pronunciation.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The "answering with a question" format had so wormed its way into the brain of American audiences, as far back as the Fleming era, that practically any other game show that asks trivia will see multiple contestants answer with a question; that show's host may then remind them "this isn't Jeopardy!" with varying degrees of humor or irritation (most notably Win Ben Steins Money, where offending contestants were forced to wear a dunce cap). This happens even in high school academic quiz bowls, especially since, like Jeopardy!, contestants have to buzz in.
    • Just about any news article about Jeopardy! is bound to include "What is _____?" and/or "I'll take ______ for $[X]00." They also appears frequently in situations that have nothing to do with Jeopardy, especially the latter.
    • In the Cheers episode "What Is... Cliff Clavin?", Cliff appears on the show and, despite getting a runaway lead, wagers everything and gets Final Jeopardy! wrong. This episode has been referenced regularly on Jeopardy! at least two contestants have copied his Final Jeopardy! response of "Who are three people that have never been in my kitchen?", and Trebek sometimes warns contestants with runaway leads not to "pull a Cliff Clavin" (i.e., wager everything—or even enough to let a player who's behind to catch up—and then get it wrong).
    • There have been countless references to Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy!" sketches, which almost always featured Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond) as a contestant. Both the show itself and many of its contestants have made constant references to these sketches the writers through category names ("Months That Begin with 'Feb'"), and the contestants through Sean Connery impersonations.
    • "Who is Kebert Xela?" was used by a contestant in Final Jeopardy!
    • The Jeopardy! fanbase has made a meme out of Liederkranz cheese, the answer to a notoriously difficult Final Jeopardy! question on the July 23, 2009 show; often considered the most obscure clue the show has ever had. Its notoriety was probably exacerbated by the fact that the champion a.) had an absolutely monstrous lead going into Final Jeopardy! (the scores were $22,800/$200/$200), and b.) is a prominent member of the fanbase.
    • "Stay clam" [sic] is both this and helpful advice for Jeopardy! contestants. The meme originated from a misspelled forum post from 2002 Back to School Week player Gracie Studdard, who was giving advice on how to handle one's self on a game show. Since its introduction, watchers and players alike will say if they clam on giving the question to an answer if they are uncertain.
    • "Who is Dankey Kang?", as seen on Pop-Culture Isolation, originated from a humorous hoax concerning a photoshopped contestant allegedly giving that answer to something hinting toward Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The board fill sound at the beginning of the round (retired in July 2008 and, after a season wherein the board did not make a noise, replaced with a relaxing six-tone chime that Trebek has said that he likes). Also, the Daily Double trill and the simple one-note chime when the Final Jeopardy! category is revealed.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The format of contestants being supplied the answers and having to come up with the questions was the basis for the first regularly scheduled quiz show CBS Television Quiz.
    • J! Archive was not the first fansite to archive the clues. Before them, a prior Jeopardy! archive existed on an AOL site. Known as the Jeoparchive, this site archived clues for Jeopardy! in the early 2000s. It was taken down in 2004 when its lone archivist grew disillusioned with the show once Ken Jennings started winning game after game.
  • The Scrappy:
    • The "Clue Crew", first introduced in 2001.
    • Any clue or whole categories read by a celebrity. Almost all of them tend to involve very long clues read very slowly which gets worse when a Daily Double is hidden there. Many contestants have caught onto these which is why they almost always get picked last. Since the board usually does not get cleared whenever these categories or clues are done, they make one wish the show's staff would tell them to speed it up. That way the producers could compensate for any time that could have been used for the remaining clues that got eaten up by the celebrity reader talking so slowly.
    • "Kids Week" games, which not only makes the Teen Tournament feel particularly redundant, but features questions that are so incredibly easy/soft-ball, even for that demographic.
  • Scrub: Many fans complain that Arthur Chu's strategy of fishing for Daily Doubles to deny them from his opponents is cheating, when in fact, though widely not utilized, there's no rule against it and show staff make it clear to contestants that such a strategy is perfectly legal. Hell, Chu isn't even the first contestant to do so. It's been done by several players in the Tournament of Champions and even Watson did this during the IBM challenge. The main reason why it isn't common is because it's high risk to choose the lower row questions early and because most players would much rather use the Daily Double than waste it.
  • Seasonal Rot / They Changed It, Now It Sucks: As with nearly any Long Runner Game Show, fan opinion is sharply divided:
    • The 1997-98 season not only abandoned the legendary "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music used since 1964 and the synthesizer theme used since 1991, but saw the first use of clues read by celebrities, as well as even more punny categories and travel shows than ever before.
    • The 2001-02 season introduced the "Clue Crew", which many find to be a unnecessary addition to the show, and also the doubling of clue values, which some believe is unfair in regards to ranking all of the show's top money winners, plus Alex Trebek shaves his iconic mustache off.
    • The 2003-04 season removed the 5-game limit for winners, which led to Ken Jennings' 74-game winning streak lasting into the next season.
    • Later seasons have also seen more celebrity games, with a celebrity tournament that went on throughout the 2009-10 season. While the celebrity games in the 2000s were scenery-chewing, laid-back nightmares that led to less than half the board even being played, the 2009-10 season's celeb tournament at least had a decent roster of celebs who treated their games with respect.
    • Some also complain that the show has gotten easier over time, thus overlapping with It's Easy, so It Sucks. To be fair, this one is very much a Justified Trope; anyone who's watched the show for a long period of time is pretty much guaranteed to find it gradually easier to play along, because they'll constantly be learning from it.
    • Another major complaint is that the writing has gotten too convoluted and "cutesy", with clues often trying way too hard to "tease out" the right answer by way of wordplay. Other clues seem to be written too vaguely, leading viewers to question whether or not another answer might be acceptable. The decline in clue quality is often thought to have started when longtime clue writer Steven Dorfman died in 2004.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The 1984 version was a major leap from Art Fleming's three versions, which used a much simpler set and pull-cards for the clues instead of the large, electronic set and wall of monitors.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The show's "think" music ends with a coda that matches perfectly with the end of the children's song "I'm a Little Teapot" leading many people to sing "tip me over / and pour me out" at the end.
  • Tear Jerker: One year after winning the first ever Tournament of Champions, Jerry Frankel, a musician from Buffalo, New York, died of AIDS.
  • That One Level: Opera, ballet, or spelling categories, which are almost always saved for last.
    • "Before, During, And After" in the To C.
    • Jep! as a whole may qualify despite the subject matter, contestant ages, and format changes, its policy on phrasing responses was the strictest of all seven versions!
  • What an Idiot: See this page.
  • Who Made This Tournament Bracket?: The Battle of the Decades Semifinals pit three Quarterfinal winners against each other in one match instead of two Quarterfinal winners and one wildcard.

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy