Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show first appeared on NBC, where it was hosted by Art Fleming from March 30, 1964 to January 3, 1975 and again from October 2, 1978 to March 2, 1979. Beginning Sony Pictures Television on September 10, 1984 and continuing into the present, the show is in syndicated format and was hosted by Alex Trebek from 1984 until his death in 2020. Versions of the show have been made in many foreign countries throughout the world. The current hosts of the show are Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik.
|Created by||Merv Griffin|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||39|
|No. of episodes||over 8,000|
|Production location(s)||Alex Trebek Stage (formerly Stage 10)|
Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City
|Running time||22-26 minutes|
|Distributor||King World Productions (1984-2007)|
CBS Media Ventures (2007-present)
|Original network||NBC (1964-1979)|
Syndication (1974-1975, 1984-present)
|Original release||March 30, 1964 –|
Since the syndicated version premiered, the show has won the most Emmy Awards of any game show on daytime television. In 2001 & 2012, TV Guide named it the second-best game show of all time. The 38th season of the syndicated version premiered on September 13, 2021.
Unlike regular trivia games, the questions are given as clues, and players come up with questions as an answer. For example, a clue would be "one of our Founding Fathers, he was our first president", and the correct response would be "who is George Washington?". The game of Jeopardy! consists of three rounds: the Jeopardy! round, the Double Jeopardy! round, and the Final Jeopardy! round. In the Jeopardy! round, there are six categories with five clues in each, each worth between $200 to $1000. One of the clues is a Daily Double, in which a contestant may wager up to $1000 or the amount of his or her cash winnings, depending on which is more. The Double Jeopardy! round is like the Jeopardy! round, but the clues are worth double the amount. In this round there are two Daily Doubles instead of one. The Final Jeopardy! round is made up of just one category and one clue. Only players with more than $0 after the Double Jeopardy! round may play the Final Jeopardy! round. During the commercial break, players write their wagers based on their knowledge of the given category. After the commercial break, the host reads the clue. The players have 30 seconds to write their answers, again in the form of a question. During this time the lights dim, and the "Think!" theme plays in the background. The player with the most money at the end of the game keeps his or her winnings and comes back to the next show. Second-place players get a $2000 cash prize, and third place players get a $1000 cash prize.
Brad Rutter is the biggest money winner on the show, having won $4,688,436 in five regular episodes and several tournaments. Ken Jennings won 74 games, which is the longest winning streak. James Holzhauer holds the top sixteen spots for the highest winnings in a single game in regular play.
Since the show started in 1964, there were various songs and arrangements that were used as the show's main theme. Most of these were composed by Merv Griffin. The best known theme song is "Think!". It has served as the countdown music for the Final Jeopardy! round since 1964.a[›]
Between 1964 and 1975, a jazz tune called "Take Ten", composed by Julian Griffin, served as the main theme. When the series was revived in 1978, "January, February, March" served as the opening theme, and "Frisco Disco" served as the closing theme, both of which were composed by Merv Griffin himself. "January, February, March" was also used in the first pilot of the syndicated version.b[›]
Beginning with the Alex Trebek hosted syndicated version in September 1984, a rendition of "Think!" served as the show's main theme. The original version of the main theme consisted of saxophones and synthesizers along with the original recording of "Think!" retained for the final segment. A swooshing sound effect was added during the show's introduction.
In 1992, the main theme was remixed to include congas. It was used for tournaments in Season 8, and then it was put permanently into use in Season 9. In 1997, both the main theme and "Think!" music were rearranged by Steve Kaplan.c[›] They both involved a more piano-driven, orchestral, jazzy sound. In 2001, the 1997 theme was rearranged, and its tempo increased.d[›] In 2008, Chris Bell Music & Sound Design overhauled the Jeopardy! music package for the show’s 25th anniversary. And in 2021, Bleeding Fingers Music rearranged the 2008 theme.
Like the theme music, the Jeopardy! set changed over the years. The original game board was exposed behind a curtain. The clues were printed on clue cards, which were shown as a player asked for a certain clue and its value. In 1978, the cards were dropped in favor of flipping panels which had the dollar value on one side and the clue on the other. Also, the curtain was changed to double-slide panels. When the show came back in 1984, the game board was changed again. This time it was made up of 30 television screens for each clue in the categories. In 1991, the original screens were changed to larger screens. In 2006, the screens were changed to a projection video wall. Then in 2009, the video wall was changed to 36 HD flat-panel screens.
Other changes to the set have been made since the start of the syndicated version. Starting in 1985 and continuing until 1997, the sets were designed to have a blue background for the Jeopardy! round and a red background for the Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! rounds; however, starting in 2005 and continuing into the present, the background color changes to red when the lights dim during Final Jeopardy! In November 1996, two months after the start of Season 13, a new set designed by Naomi Slodki was brought in. In November 2002, another new set designed by Slodki was brought in. This set was slightly changed in 2006 when Jeopardy! started airing in high-definition.
A new set came out with the Tournament of Champions and Celebrity Jeopardy! taped in 2009 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. It became the main set at the start of Season 26 in 2009. Another new set was brought in at the start of Season 30 in 2013. It was slightly modified in 2020 to accommodate health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ^ a: "Think!" was not used at all during the 1978-79 The All New Jeopardy!, as there was no Final Jeopardy! round
- ^ b: "Frisco Disco" was later used as a prize cue on Wheel of Fortune from 1983 to 1989.
- ^ c: The "Think!" package from the 1997 rearrangement initially had only a piano lead. Two weeks into Season 14, the "Think!" was remixed to include a piano lead in the first verse and a trumpet lead in the second verse.
- ^ d: There were two versions of the 2001 main theme. When it debuted in February 5, 2001 on the Celebrity Jeopardy! and International Tournament episodes taped in Las Vegas, the introduction was very similar to the 1997 arrangement, but longer. A remix of the theme, with a shortened introduction, debuted on April 23, 2001 when the theme itself was put permanently into use. Both arrangements used saxophone and electric guitar solos near the end. A version of the theme without the saxophones and guitars was heard during the credits from 2001 to 2005.
- "Jeopardy!—Did You Know." Archived from the original on October 6, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2008.
Since its 1984 syndication debut, Jeopardy! has been honored with 30 Daytime Emmy Awards, more than any other syndicated game show. Thirteen Emmys have been awarded for Outstanding Game Show/Audience Participation. Alex Trebek won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host and was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
- See the Jeopardy! DVD Home Game System instruction booklet for the complete rules.
- Hibberd, James (August 10, 2006). "'Jeopardy!,' 'Wheel' Get HD Makeover". TV Week. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
- Richmond, page 150.
- "This is Jeopardy!—Show Guide—Virtual Set Tour". Archived from the original on January 8, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2013.