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Jeopardy! Intelligence Test

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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!
The Simpsons, "Simpson and Delilah"

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 Taco Bell dog successfully pulls this off in one of the campaign's earliest commercials.
  • A Coca-Cola ad played in movie theaters features a large, stereotypical trailer-trash woman watching Jeopardy! and getting all the right answers. At the end of the commercial, she rewinds the tape and starts watching it again.
  • Armed Forces Network had an ad of two guys watching Jeopardy! at night with one of them getting all the answers correct. The other guy wasn't amused. This ad meant to tell there's an alternate station for people living in the Atlantic zones who can watch during the day. Atlantic channel has the exact same programs as the Pacific. These two live in the Pacific region watching ''Jeopardy!'' on Atlantic network at night(one had already watched it on Pacific).
  • GSN (formerly Game Show Network) had a series of commercials where people all around the world watch a game show giving the correct answer to a question and ending with a contestant on the show giving a wrong answer, followed by the tagline, "You know you know."

    Comic Books 
  • 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!.
  • Mister Terrific in the Strange Adventures (2020) miniseries demonstrates his incredible intelligence with a variant of this: his hovering robot drones ask him questions about a wide variety of topics at random intervals, in order to keep his mind sharp.
    Drone: What was the gross national savings of Turkmenistan in 2015?
    Mr. Terrific: (lying in bed) 18.9% of GDP.
    Drone: Correct.
  • In a story from the Lupo Alberto comics, The Ditz of the gang becomes a genius after being hit by lightning trying to fix a TV antenna. One of the first things he says after waking up is the final answer to the quiz show they were watching earlier (The show has a policy of starting very easynote , and concluding with a fiendishly difficult questionnote  to avoid giving out the cash prize).

    Comic Strips 
  • 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: " there a 'Q'?"

    Films — Live-Action 

  • 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.
  • 1-800-Where-R-U: In the fifth book, main protagonist Jess Mastriani and her best friend Ruth, along with their respective brothers Mike and Skip, are sharing an apartment in New York City, and tend to watch Jeopardy! every evening, with Mike and Skip yelling the answers at the television. Mike, who's been previously established as a genius, gets most of them right, while Skip gets most of them wrong.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Seinfeld, George becomes a genius by abstaining from sex, and is shown watching Jeopardy! and answering every question correctly while solving a Rubik's Cube at the same time. Jerry asks if it's a rerun, but it's not.
  • Phoebe does this in one episode of Charmed after she casts a "smart spell" on herself, stunning Piper since Phoebe isn't typically book smart. Though, interestingly enough, the game show in question isn't Jeopardy!. It's Win Ben Stein's Money, which had a Bonus Round that allowed for more rapid-fire questions, allowing Phoebe to squeeze in more answers more quickly.
  • 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!"
  • Cheers: one of Cliff Clavin's defining character traits. Comes full circle when he actually is 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 The 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.
  • After being humiliated playing the home version of Jeopardy! in an earlier Designing Women episode, in "La Place sans Suci" Suzanne and Charlene challenge Julia and Mary Jo to a game of Trivial Pursuit. They soundly defeat them but unbeknownst to Charlene, Suzanne had memorized all the answers earlier.
  • An episode of Mama's Family sees Iola auditioning for Jeopardy! with Mama along for moral support. Iola bombs but Mama happens to randomly know several answers so she get invited to compete.
  • In Gotham episode Harvey Dent, Edward Nygma is playing along with a radio trivia show while testing explosives, answering all three questions correctly.


    Western Animation 
  • 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 (which was hosted by the real Alex Trebek), 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.
  • Hugh gets a moment like this in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. In "Win, Lose, and Kaboom," Jimmy and friends get put on a game show where the alien host Meldar threatens to blow up the Earth if the kids lose. After surviving all the challenges, Jimmy is facing a trivia challenge alone until his dad pops in through a wormhole (the parents were using Jimmy's wormhole generator to try and rescue the kids, but he fell through.), and Jimmy lets Hugh answer the question since he's been binging space TV for the entire two days of the contest, and because Jimmy felt bad for shunning Hugh when he tried bonding with him earlier. Not only does Hugh know exactly how to answer the question, he explains why it doesn't actually have an answer, and wins the show, saving the Earth all by himself.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • Jeopardy! itself offers an interesting take on the idea. The questions have to be carefully balanced so that they're hard for the contestants, but recognizable for the fans at home. The show has survived so long because it knows that viewers are neither morons nor geniuses. Nobody is going to get all the answers, but everybody should get at least one.
  • Many people have tried out on Jeopardy! thanks to this trope. In his New York City Transit Police Department (now the NYPD Transit Bureau) office, Frank Spangenberg and his colleagues would watch the show and put money into a pot, and whoever got the most correct responses won the pot. Frank was winning so often that his colleagues recommended he play for real. Frank became a 5-time undefeated champion, earning $102,597 with a record-setting 1-day total of $30,600 during his 5th game, making him the biggest regular games winner of the pre-doubled era (1984-2001).
  • Homemade versions of the game are often used in schools to teach a particular subject usually to prepare students for tests. Jeopardy! even offers officially licensed versions for classroom use.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Quiz Show Intelligence Test


Groundhog Day

Due to being stuck in the Groundhog Day Loop, Phil Connors has completely memorized the questions and answers from that days' edition of Jeopardy!

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

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Main / JeopardyIntelligenceTest

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