Arts and Entertainment

Remembering Alex Trebek and the Future of Jeopardy

America’s favorite game show…what is Jeopardy!? America’s favorite game show host…who is Alex Trebek? The original Jeopardy premiered in 1964; however, the game show, as we all know it, with Alex Trebek as its host has been around since 1984. Contestants participate in three rounds of trivia with themes ranging from entertainment and media to history and science. Round one, also known as the Jeopardy round, consists of five clues per each of the six categories. This is followed by Double Jeopardy, where the questions are more difficult and the winnings are more significant. Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy without retaining any money are disqualified from participating in the final round. This round is one question only and contestants take their chance by putting all their money on the line for the grand prize. The winner of Final Jeopardy returns to the show the following day until they lose.

The show has aired every weeknight for the past 36 years and is consistently one of the highest-rated shows in syndication across the country. Throughout his career, Trebek has hosted more than 8,000 episodes. Jeopardy won’t be the same without its longtime host, Alex Trebek, who passed away on November 8, 2020, from stage four Pancreatic Cancer. He was very open about his experiences with this terrible disease and became an advocate for honesty and speaking the truth. In the final months of his life, he made clear that while he may no longer be around, Jeopardy must live on to comfort the nation. 

The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on many regular television programs, including Jeopardy that was required to stop production until it became safe again to film. While on hiatus during the summer, Trebek made it his mission to get it back up and running, and Zoom auditions, set redesigns, and Covid-19 precautions, were instated. Trebek was determined that the game show he began hosting 36 years ago in 1984, would go on and continue to bring joy to trivia buffs and game show fans despite their sadness from his recent passing. Junior, Emily Thau, says that “Jeopardy is a time when my family sits down and watches together. A year ago, I was able to see the set of Jeopardy and it was very interesting to see what went on behind the scenes.” Trebek’s legacy, one that is intertwined with the beloved show he hosted, is that of dedication, inspiration, and motivation. In my own home, come 7:00 PM, ABC must be switched on. While I am not as poised to respond quickly to the trivia questions, I always try my best and occasionally find myself correct. It was comforting that each time I turned on the show, not only would the theme song provide me with great comfort, but Alex Trebek did as well. Thau “will remember Alex Trebek by continuing to watch Jeopardy. He was always able to make the players feel comfortable and special. He was also very personable with the contestants and tried to make a connection with them.” Many contestants and members of the production team have described him as a father-figure and will remember him with great admiration.

Alex Trebek embodies the essence that is Jeopardy, one that is irreplaceable. Even though nobody will be Alex Trebek himself, he had always hoped that Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulas, CNN’s Laura Coates, Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, Los Angeles Kings announcer Alex Faust, and most of all, the winner of Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time (GOAT) Ken Jennings, would take his place. He has truly stepped up to the plate as interim host. Personally, I would love to see the other two GOAT contestants, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter, host a few episodes. Ultimately though, I believe that Ken Jennings embodies similar characteristics and values of Alex Trebek, and therefore would be the best to uphold his legacy. Due to his 74 game winning streak, Jennings knows all of the ins and outs of the game. He witnessed the greatness of Alex Trebek and was on the receiving end of his kindness and compassion. Even though Trebek was never a contestant on the show, in the Jeopardy hall of fame, he is the true GOAT.