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Heartwarming / Jeopardy!

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General Examples:

  • In an interview with QTV, Alex Trebek recalled an instance where a contestant on Jeopardy! held a meeting with her friends and family to see her on the show, but the episode was replaced by a local program. Alex commented that it didn't matter to the contestant that she miserably wound up in third place, but she wanted to see that event that was significant to her. When the contestant complained, Alex apologized (despite having no control over the happening) and sent her a video tape of the episode so that she and her friends could watch it instead of the contestant losing that spotlight as the next episodes went on.
    • This is now SOP for Jeopardy!; if a contestant's local market has preempted the episode, a copy of the episode can be requested for free. (If the contestant wants a copy of an episode that did air, it's over $100.)
  • Pre-2003: Any time a retiring 5-time champion wagers enough to tie with an opponent, making them the new champion.
  • The fact that many champions and players have become friends over the years. One particularly heartwarming case, the 1997 College Tournament winner Craig Barker recounts that two of his opponents started dating each other after the tournament, marrying years later.

Specific Examples:

  • January 3, 1975: The final episode of the original run as hosted by Art Fleming ended with Art thanking the viewers, hoping to see them again, before walking off a dimming set with Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" playing over the end credits.
  • November 19, 1986: In the last semifinal game in the 1986 Tournament of Champions, Lionel Goldbart found the last Daily Double in Double Jeopardy, and decided to place a true Daily Double, getting it right... but forgetting to phrase it as a question, and thus, not qualifying for Final Jeopardy. In FJ, Paul Rouffa adds "Way to go Lionel" to his winning response.
  • January 1990: Frank Spangenberg surpassed the winnings cap of $75,000 and donated $27,597 to Gift of Love Hospice, a facility operated by the Missionaries of Charity. The money was used to bring the place up to fire code.
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  • December 3, 1993: Spangenberg won the 10th Anniversary Tournament by being the only one who identified playwright Wendy Wasserstein in the Final Jeopardy clue (especially noteworthy since the first game in the finals ended badly for him, having only $600 after a difficult Final Jeopardy). Shortly afterwards, Wasserstein's friends informed her about this, and she invited Frank to dinner.
  • November 30, 2004: Ken Jennings hugging Nancy Zerg, the contestant who defeated him on his 75th appearance.
  • About a month after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, New Orleans native Deborah Slattery happened to be a contestant. Each of her three games was prefaced by an announcement from Alex that Deborah and her family were safe.
  • 2013 Teen Tournament winner Leonard Cooper using his winnings to pay for his brother's college tuition.
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  • March 27, 2013: Challenger Tom Carroll appears on the show, having tried out for 37 years before being selected. And he wins $32,000.
  • December 5, 2013: Before the Double Jeopardy! round, Alex points out a man who proposed to his fiancée in the audience. She said yes.
  • Arthur Chu (2014). While many fans have expressed ire about his gameplay, Chu has done a couple of genuinely heartwarming things, which would arguably make him an Anti-Hero.
    • January 29, 2014: Arthur used his knowledge of wagering and intentionally bet for a first place tie of $26,800 to let his closest competitor walk away for the same amount (and to return the next day).
    • Arthur has openly stated that he plays to win, but also wants to win the money for his wife and for his sister.
  • Colby Burnett (2013) used his winnings to buy his mother (who had worked multiple jobs so that he could attend a good high school, and who had bought the encyclopedia set that started his love of learning) a house in the suburbs, so that she could move out of the dangerous neighborhood that Colby had grown up in.
    Colby: She deserved that much.
  • April 14, 2016: Alex opens the show by wishing his mother a happy 95th birthday, and is clearly on the verge of tears doing so.
  • December 2016: Contestant Cindy Stowell, who died of colon cancer before her seven-episode run aired, donating her winnings of $105,803 to cancer research. The producers, who knew she didn't have long to live, arranged for her to have the first available airdate after her audition, and sent her recordings of her games so she could see them.
  • After Alan Thicke passed away in December 2016, Alex Trebek paid tribute to him, crediting him for helping find success in American television by hosting The Wizard of Odds, for which Thicke wrote the theme, and eventually led to this show.
  • November 2017: During the Tournament of Champions, Alex and all the contestants wore blue ribbons in tribute to Cindy Stowell, who would have participated in the tournament if she were still alive. The show also donated $10,000 (the amount given to contestants eliminated in the semifinals) to the Cancer Research Institute in her name.
  • November 17, 2017: After making himself infamous for his irreverent and cocky boasts at Alex in his Final Jeopardy responses whenever he had a runaway lead in his original run, Buzzy once again faces this situation in the finals in the Tournament of Champions, and for what might be his last response on the show altogether, responds, "LOVE YOU". He WON.
  • March 2019: Jeopardy! fans the world over send encouragement to Alex Trebek after he announces his diagnosis with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Trebek responds with a personal video stating that he is thankful for all of the love and support he has received, and points out that even Watson sent him well wishes. He concludes the video with "I'm a lucky guy."
    • After taping for Season 35 wrapped in April 2019, Trebek posted another video, stating that he was still in good health, and that he should still be around to host Season 36.
  • June 3, 2019: James Holzhauer leaving his podium to give Emma Boettcher a high five after she snaps his 32-game winning streak.


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