|Art Fleming (1964–1979)|
Alex Trebek (1984–Present)
Pat Sajak (4/1/1997, sub)
|Don Pardo (1964–1975)|
Charlie O'Donnell (1977)
John Harlan (1978–1979)
Jay Stewart (1983)
Johnny Gilbert (1984–Present)
NBC Daytime: 3/30/1964 – 1/3/1975
|Merv Griffin Productions (1964–1983)|
Merv Griffin Enterprises (1984–1994)
Columbia TriStar Television/Sony Pictures Television (2002–Present)
|Metromedia Producers Corporation (1974–1975)|
King World (1983–2007)
CBS Television Distribution (2007–Present)
Jeopardy! is a long-running game show with a backward format where you have to provide the question to an answer. Currently in the syndicated version, the show is sometimes dubbed as America's Favorite Quiz Show.
Three contestants compete in each show, all attempting to win money by correctly phrasing answers in a form of a question, but realizing the "Jeopardy!" is that they lose money if they are wrong.
The First Two Rounds
In the first two rounds, the three contestants face a game board of six categories each with five clues behind money amounts (30 in all). Each round lasts for 6½ minutes.
On a player's turn, he/she selects a category and an amount, then a clue is read. The first player to ring-in with a correct question wins the value of the answer, but if he/she rings in and is wrong, the value of the answer is deducted from that player's score and the other player(s) have a chance at it. From 1964 to 1985, contestants could ring-in at any time while the host was reading a clue; starting in the second season of the current version, contestants were/are forced to wait out until after the clue was/is read. The player who get the question right or was the last to choose if nobody got the question right gets to choose another clue. The round continues until time runs out or if all the clues are played.
By the end of the original run, a cash jackpot ($500 + $500 per show) would be awarded to the first player of the day to correctly answer every clue in a single category. Doing so on the nighttime edition originall won that player a Chevrolet Vega, later a London vacation package.
In the 1978 revival, the two contestants with the highest scores moved on to Double Jeopardy, while the third place contestant was eliminated from the game but kept the cash he/she won.
Also, in the pilot for the 1978 version, the game started with each contestant having 30 seconds to answer as many clues as they could; the rest of the round played as normal.
Money amounts are minimal in the Jeopardy round, while the money amounts are doubled in the Double Jeopardy round. In the 1990 Super Jeopardy! tournament, contestants played for points instead of dollars, though there is a payoff of $250,000 for the winner of the tournament. This was the only version where the second round clue values were not double that of the first.
Here are the amounts for each round and on each version:
|1978-1979 & 1983 Pilot||$25-$125||$2,250|
|1990 Super Jeopardy!||200-1,000||18,000|
At some point in the round(s), the contestant in control will uncover a very special clue hidden somewhere on the Jeopardy! board called the "Daily Double" (Commonly in a high value clue; but one occurrence happens on the second lowest value clue.) On a Daily Double, the contestant who picks it can wager any or all of his/her current score (wagering all is classified as a "True Daily Double"), but must wager at least $5 (which was half of the lowest clue value in the original Fleming version, which was $10). If the contestant has a low score, has a zero score or has a negative score, he/she can risk up to the maximum clue value (which usually happens) on that clue. In either case, only the contestant who picked it can give the response. A correct response adds the wager, but an incorrect response or an improperly-phrased response (even if correct and regardless of the round) or no response at all deducts the wager. (It is not told how many seconds is the limit, but it seems to be 15 seconds.) Either way, the contestant then chooses another clue afterward to continue the game. There is only one Daily Double in the Jeopardy! round, and two Daily Doubles in the Double Jeopardy! round.
Special Daily Doubles
Sometimes a Daily Double clue appears differently. A Daily Double has a sound clue after the main clue; this is called an Audio Daily Double. Another Daily Double shows the contestant a picture or a video clip mostly featuring a member of the Clue Crew after the main clue; this is called a Video Daily Double (in the Art Fleming era it was called a Film Daily Double). One last type, called the Celebrity Daily Double, features a celebrity guest giving a clue about himself/herself.
Starting in 2001, a group of correspondents called the Clue Crew came to effect. On certain clues, one member of the Clue Crew is at a certain location and gives a clue under the selected category.
When the group was first formed, they consisted of Cheryl Farrell, Sofia Lidskog, Jimmy McGuire, and Sarah Whitcomb (Foss). Sofia left in 2004, and in 2005, the group added two new members: Jon Cannon and Kelly Miyahara. Both Jon and Cheryl left in 2007, leaving only Jimmy, Kelly, and Sarah.
One of the Clue Crew members Kelly Miyahara is currently working double duty not only as a Clue Crew member, but also as the announcer of the new Sports Jeopardy!.
In the Jeopardy! round, if contestants forget their phrasing, they will be reminded but not penalized if the response itself is correct. However, in both the Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! rounds, the rule is more strict, and there are no reminders; an improperly phrased response is automatically ruled incorrect, even if the response itself is correct. In both the Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy! rounds, contestants who forget their phrasing may still correct themselves before time runs out. For Daily Doubles (regardless of the round), improper phrasing will result in an incorrect response, even in the Jeopardy! round; as before, players who correct themselves before time runs out will be ruled correct. There is one exception to this rule: If the answer is a question in and of itself, giving the answer as is is acceptable. For the Final Jeopardy! round, contestants write "Who is" or "What is" during the third commercial break; this rule has been in effect since at least one instance a contestant wrote down the correct response but didn't phrase it properly. Other phrasings such as "Is it" or "Might it be" are acceptable, so long as the rule is adhered to.
Spelling and Pronunciation
A general rule is that misspellings are acceptable, so long as the pronunciations are not altered. This has happened on shows such as on June 25, 1999, October 14, 2005, July 31, 2013, and October 14, 2013. Titles, however, must be spelled to the letter; instances of these mistakes include January 21, 2011 and November 7, 2012.
On all runs of the Fleming version and the first season of the Trebek version, contestants could ring in anytime a clue was exposed. However, from the second season on, contestants can ring in only after a clue has been read, as ringing in too soon locks out a player for a ¼-½ second. This rule was designed to allow the home audience to play along.
To accommodate this, there are lights that surround the perimeter of the game board that illuminate when a clue has been read, which allows a contestant to ring in. Once a player rings in, he/she has 5 seconds to respond; each player's podium has 9 lights that indicate how much time remains for a response, and for each second that goes by, two lights dim.
At the end of the Double Jeopardy! round, the three contestants (minus the ones who ended the previous round with zero or a negative score) play the final round, Final Jeopardy! The round starts with one last category for that round revealed, and then during the final commercial break, the contestants write down how much they wish to wager based on that category and the scores to that point, from nothing to the total money they accumulated in the first two rounds. When the break is over, the Final Jeopardy! clue under that category is revealed, and then the contestants have 30 seconds to write down the correct response, remembering to phrase it in the form of a question. During that time, the iconic "Think!" music plays in the background; since 1990 the lights dim during that time. When the time is up and the music ends, the questions are checked one-by-one and a correct response adds the wager but an incorrect response or an improperly-phrased response (even if correct) deducts the wager. The contestant with the least amount of money reveals his/her response first.
If all three contestants finish Double Jeopardy! with zero or negative, no Final Jeopardy! round is played that day, and three new players appear on the next show. So far this has occurred at least once during the Art Fleming era, but not the Alex Trebek era; however, there have been several instances during the Alex Trebek era where all available players finished Final Jeopardy! with zero, which still meant that three new players appeared on the next show. Those events happened on September 11, 1984, April 5, 1985, July 9, 1991, March 2, 1998, June 12, 1998, February 7, 2013, and January 18, 2016.
In the event that a contestant is blind (like Eddie Timanus), the pen is replaced with a Braille keyboard to type his/her response and wager. In the event that the pen and/or electronic pad malfunctions, contestants are provided with an index card and a marker to manually write their responses and wagers.
Winning the Game/Returning Champions
The player with the most money wins the game. Originally, if the game ended in a tie, the players who were tied won the game; these days, the tournament tie-breaker (see below) is used. The winning player returns to play the next day.
During the Art Fleming era, all contestants kept their money, win or lose; when Alex Trebek took over in 1984, only the winning contestant kept the cash while the other players won prizes according to what position they finished. However, starting with the May 16, 2002 episode, 2nd place receives $2,000, and 3rd place wins $1,000. If losing contestants are tied, the highest scorer from the Double Jeopardy! round is declared 2nd place, and if there is a tie at the end of Double Jeopardy! as well, the highest scorer from the Jeopardy! round is declared 2nd place.
On the syndicated nighttime version from the mid-1970s, the winner received a bonus prize. In 1974, the winner chose one of 30 numbers, 28 of which each held a cash amount or a bonus prize. The other two numbers each hid half of the $25,000 grand prize, both of which had to be selected. In 1975, the winner received a Chevrolet Vega (the subcompact model) for a score of less than $1,000, a full-size Chevrolet Caprice Classic sedan for winning $1,000 or more, $10,000 for winning at least $1,500 (later $2,000), or $25,000 for winning at least $2,000 (later $2,500).
Originally, champions stayed on the show until they won five games. After a contestant won five games, three new contestants appeared on the next show. From 1997 to 2003, five-time champions also won a new car. At the beginning of Season 20, the five-time limit was removed, allowing contestants to remain on the show until they lose.
If all three contestants finished with $0 or less, they all lost the game and three new contestants played the next day. In the Celebrity Jeopardy! shows, the highest score from the Double Jeopardy! round is declared the winner. In the current version, the first time it happened was on the show's second episode. More recently, the third time it has occurred was on February 7, 2013 during the 2013 Teen Tournament; in regular games the most recent occurrence of it was on January 18, 2016.
Previously, in case of a tie with more than $0, in addition to returning on the next show, the contestants who were tied got to keep the cash. On November 24, 2014, the tournament tiebreaker began to be used for regular game ties.
On March 16, 2007, history was made when all three contestants were tied at $16,000; it was the first time in any version that a three-way tie had occurred.
On tournament games, if two or three contestants tie with a positive score at the end of the game, a one-clue tiebreaker is played. One final category is revealed, followed by one final clue. The first player to ring in with a correct response wins the game. Contestants are not penalized for incorrect responses, and as a result, cannot win by default. The tournament tiebreaker rule was first noted on Press Your Luck, but no tournaments were played. Those events happened on May 4, 1992; May 16, 1996; May 19, 1997; September 20, 2002; November 13, 2007; May 4, 2012; and the last tournament tiebreaker occurred on August 1, 2014. If a finalist finishes Double Jeopardy! with a $0 or negative score on either day, that contestant is eliminated from Final Jeopardy! as usual, but their score for that day is recorded as $0. Instances of these include February 19, 2004 (2004 Teen Tournament finals game 1), February 21, 2014 (2014 College Championship finals game 2), and May 15, 2014 (Battle of the Decades finals game 1).
Super Jeopardy! Bonus Round
In the 1978 revival, the contestant with the most money after Double Jeopardy won the game right away, and went on to play Super Jeopardy!
Super Jeopardy! was entirely different from the regular rounds, for the winning contestant now faced a board of 25 hidden clues (instead of 30) behind numbers 1-5 in place of money amounts, so there were five categories instead of six in this round. In this round, the winning contestant chose a number and a clue behind it was revealed. A correct response won $100, but an incorrect response or a pass blocked that square and gave the contestant a strike; three strikes, and that player was out and the game was over.
Now in addition to the $100 per correct question, giving a correct response also lit up lights around the square with the selected clue. The object of the game was to light up five squares in a row (just like in bingo), either across, up and down or diagonally. Getting five a row won $5,000 plus $2,500 for every return trip, win or lose, so winning the endgame five times was worth $50,000.
In the pilot for the 1978 version, the contestant had 90 seconds to complete the round.
This inspired the Gold Rush (later Gold Run) bonus round for Blockbusters, except wrong answers just blocked and didn't give out strikes.
- Merv created the show with the help of his then-wife Juliann Griffin. He was in desperate need to create a quiz show but not one network would buy it due to the Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950s. So his wife said, "Why can't you go reversal and do a show where you can give the answers and the contestants give the questions?" Merv said, "I can't. That's why & how everybody went to jail." Juliann: "That's not what I meant, I meant like this: '5,280.'" Merv: "How many feet in a mile?" Juliann: "'79 Wistful Vista." Merv: "Was that Fibber & Mollie McGee's address?" That's when the light bulb came on. So Merv pitched the idea to NBC, and they agreed to air the show.
- The original name for Jeopardy!, due to how the format worked, was called "What's the Question?" It was an unexcitable title, and NBC executives confirmed it by saying, "Merv, there are no jeopardies in the game. It needs more jeopardies." Merv didn't completely listen; he kept hearing the word Jeopardy. "Jeopardy? WOW! What a word." So he told the network executives, "I heard what you're saying and we've decided to change the name; from this day on, the name of the show will be called 'Jeopardy!'" And the rest is history.
- Alex Trebek produced Jeopardy! for its first three seasons.
- This is the 2nd game show where Johnny Gilbert and Alex Trebek made their appearances.
- Ken Jennings is the highest winner on the show with $2,522,700 won.
- The Muppets (from Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, or Fraggle Rock) have never appeared on the show as contestants, but the Sesame Muppets appeared on the 4/4/06 episode to promote their Season 36 "Healthy Habits for Life" initiative as honorary Clue Crew members. The first-round category was "Sesame Street Eats". When players chose to answer clues in that category, they were shown a short clip of Trebek on the Sesame set, talking with the Muppets about healthy food. Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita and Oscar appeared, as did a dozen Muppet Eggs.
- In the first two seasons, the show aired for 195 half-hour episodes. Beginning with the 3rd season, the show aired for 230 half-hour episodes.
- Whenever the show airs 230 half-hour episodes, encore presentations of current tournaments replay for the summer season.
- The College Championship quarterfinal games use Wednesday's Opening Spiel starting in 2000.
Jeopardy!/Quotes & Catchphrases
Jeopardy!/Tournaments & Events
Jeopardy!/List of Personnel
Jeopardy!/J! In Popular Culture
Jeopardy!/Tournament of Champions Competitors
Additional Note: Kelly Miyahara is also the announcer for Sports Jeopardy! for Crackle since 2014.
To see pictures of the many styles of logos over the years click here.
To see pictures of the many intro logos over the years click here.
To see pictures of the many styles of the Daily Double over the years click here.
To see pictures of the dollar values from over the years, click here.
To see pictures of the many looks of the game board over the years, click here.
To see videos of Jeopardy! from over the years, click here.
In the late 80's/early 90's, the show launched a 1-900 number where you could play at home for $5 a minute. The commercial featured Alex Trebek promoting the game. (See below the page for these hilarious outtakes from the commercials.)
The countries that did their versions of Jeopardy! include:
- Arab World
- Belgium (Dutch language only)
- Canada (French language only) (The American edition is airing on NTV, YesTV & CHCH)
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Super Jeopardy! – a 13-episode run that aired as a weekly elimination tournament in the summer of 1990 on ABC pairing with another Merv Griffin game show, Monopoly. The tournament featured 36 former champions, one of them a champion from the Art Fleming era. The big differences on this version were that the contestants played for points instead of dollars, as well as the quarterfinal episodes having four podiums instead of three. The winner of the tournament won $250,000. Second place got $50,000 and third place got $25,000. Semifinalists eliminated received $10,000 and quarterfinalists eliminated received $5,000.
- Jep! – Kids' version aired on Game Show Network from 1998 to 2000
- Rock & Roll Jeopardy! – Music version aired on VH1 from 1998 to 2001
- Sports Jeopardy! – Sports version airing online on Crackle since September 24, 2014
Since Jeopardy! debuted in 1964, the series has had different theme songs. The most well-known tune is "Think!" which serves as the countdown music during the Final Jeopardy! round. Since the syndicated version premiered in 1984, a rendition of "Think!" has served as the show's main theme. During the first 13 seasons of the syndicated version, the original 1964 recording of "Think!" was retained for the Final Jeopardy! round, but since 1997, there have been different arrangements and re-orchestrations of both the main theme and "Think!" music.
Main (1964-1975) – "Take Ten" by Juliann Griffin
Think Cue (1964-1975, 1978, 1983 (Pilot), 1984 (Pilot), 1984-1997) – "Think!" by Merv Griffin
Main (1978 Open, 1983 (Pilot)) – "January, February, March" by Merv Griffin
Close (1978) – "Frisco Disco" by Merv Griffin (Later used on Wheel of Fortune as a prize cue.)
Commercial (1983 (Pilot)) – "Nightwalk" (Later used on Wheel of Fortune as the second shopping music.)
Main (1984 (Pilot)) – by Merv Griffin
1984-1992 – by Merv Griffin
1992-1997 – by Merv Griffin (1984 theme with bongo track added)
1997-2001 – by Steve Kaplan
2001-2008 – by Steve Kaplan (1997 theme sped up and re-arranged)
2008-present – by Chris Bell Music & Sound Design, Inc.
On 1984-1989 episodes, the theme song used synthesizers and saxophones. Click here to listen.
On 1989-1991 episodes, the theme song had the 1st 19 seconds removed.
On 1991-1992 episodes, the theme song's pitch and speed went down by 5. Click here to listen.
On 1992-1996 episodes, the theme song is rerecorded to include a bongo track. Click here to listen.
On 1996-1997 episodes, the theme song had the first 5 seconds removed, and it begins to fade in. Click here to listen.
On 1997-2000 episodes, the theme song's speed went down by 5, and was completely re-orchestrated, now using piano, trumpets, saxophones, and electric guitars. Click here to listen.
On 2000-2001 episodes, the theme song had the first 6 seconds removed and a wind blowing sound is heard.
On 2001-2005 episodes, the theme song's speed went up by 5, the instruments get re-orchestrated, and it now has a middle section where parts of the main melodies are played with variation before the main melodies return. There were two versions of the theme. One had an introduction similar to the 1997 theme and was used for most road shows from 2001 to 2006, starting with the Celebrity games and International Tournament taped in Las Vegas and aired February 2001. The other version, with a shortened introduction, was used for regular shows starting with the episode aired April 23, 2001. Click here to listen. Both versions used saxophones and electric guitars in the middle section and near the end. A vamp of the theme omitting the saxophones and guitars altogether was played during the end credits from 2001 to 2005.
On 2005-2008 episodes, the regular non-vamp theme played during the end credits.
On 2008-present episodes, the theme song played differently and wasn't like the other theme songs from 1984 to 2008, but it sounded similar to the theme song used 1984-1997. For the first few weeks of the 25th Season, electric guitars were only used near the end. About a month into Season 25, electric guitars were used throughout the entire theme. Click here to listen.
From 1964 to 1975 and reused 1984-1997, the original Final Jeopardy! "Think!" music consisted of a celesta lead in the first verse and a flute lead in the second verse, with timpani hitting the final two notes. Click here to listen.
September 1-12, 1997, the "Think!" cue had only a piano lead. Click here to listen.
From September 15, 1997 to July 25, 2008, the think music was changed to have a piano lead in the first verse and a trumpet lead in the second verse. That replaced the other one, but alternated with it. Click here to listen.
From September 8 to October 10, 2008, the Final Jeopardy! "Think!" music now had a French horn lead with the piano and flute doubling in octaves, accompanied by loud tick-tock percussion; fans called this version the "leaky faucet". Now, both the timpani and pizzicato strings play the last two notes. Click here to listen.
Since October 13, 2008, the think music was remixed to have a more prominent piano lead and de-emphasizing the "leaky faucet" percussion. This alternated with the other one and then replaced it. Click here to listen.
In addition, the music from Rock & Roll Jeopardy! has been used going into and coming out of commercial breaks during the College Championship, Kids Week episodes, and Teen Tournaments since Season 20. In 2006, it was used during Celebrity episodes. Starting in 2007 and lasting into today, it was used during the introductions. The 2000-A College Championship and the 2010-B College Championship used it during the Final Jeopardy! round. When the music from that game show was first used, for in and out the commercial breaks, the commercial cues would be heard. Starting from the 2005 College Championship, when coming out of a break, the ending part of one of the commercial cues would be heard. The prize cue can also be heard when out the commercial break for the Double Jeopardy! round.
NBC Studios, New York City, NY (1964–1975)
NBC Studio 3, Burbank, CA (1978–1979)
Metromedia Square, Hollywood, CA (1984–1985)
Hollywood Center Studios, Hollywood, CA (1985–1994)
Sony Studios, Culver City, CA (1994–Present)
Jeopardy! Online (Archived)
Official Sony Pictures Interactive page
Official CBS Television Distribution page
Official Website for Sports Jeopardy!
Info for Sports Jeopardy!
Rules for Sports Jeopardy!
Audition information & sample clues for Sports Jeopardy!
Official website from the president of Spiderdance who's responsible for Jeopardy! Online
Official Facebook page
Official Twitter account
Info on Past Games
Jeopardy: The Database of Champions
Josh Rebich's Jeopardy! Rule Sheets
JEOPARDY!|Matthew Carey Design
Sports Jeopardy!|Matthew Carey Design
Online Portfolio of Colin Kirkpatrick - Projects Jeopardy! 2009 set
Proposed 2011 Jeopardy! graphics package
Jeopardy! IBM Watson Challenge, Stage Design by Jason Minyard at Coroflot.com
Jeopardy! Virtual Set Tour
Jeopardy! New Permanent Set for 25th Anniversary (2013)
#168 - Jeopardy! Porno Parody @ Game Show Garbage
GSNN Extra's Tournament coverage
GSNN Extra's coverage of the 2003 Tournament of Champions
GSNN Extra's coverage of the 2003 College Championship
GSNN Extra's coverage of the 2004 Teen Tournament
GSNN Extra's coverage of the 2004 Tournament of Champions
GSNN Extra's coverage of the 2004 College Championship
GSNN Extra's coverage of the 2005 Teen Tournament
GSNN Extra's coverage of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions