|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||over 8,000|
|Running time||22–26 minutes|
|Original release||March 30, 1964 –|
Jeopardy! is an American television
Both NBC versions and the weekly syndicated version were hosted by
With over 8,000 episodes aired, the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has won a record 33
Three contestants each take their place behind a lectern, with the returning champion occupying the leftmost lectern (from the viewer's perspective). The contestants compete in a quiz game comprising three rounds: Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy!, and Final Jeopardy! The material for the clues covers a wide variety of topics, including history and current events, the sciences, the arts, popular culture, literature, and languages. Category titles often feature puns, wordplay, or shared themes, and the host will regularly remind contestants of topics or place emphasis on category themes before the start of the round.
All clues in the show are presented as "answers", and responses must be phrased in the form of a question. For example, if a contestant were to select "Presidents for $200", the resulting clue could be "This 'Father of Our Country' didn't really chop down a cherry tree", to which the correct response would be "Who is/was
The Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy! rounds each feature six categories, each of which contains five clues, which are ostensibly valued by difficulty. The dollar values of the clues increased over time. On the original Jeopardy! series, clue values in the first round ranged from $10 to $50. On The All-New Jeopardy!, they ranged from $25 to $125. In the two pilots that led to the current series, the first kept the $25 to $125 values for the Jeopardy! round, while the second doubled these to $50–$250. The current series' first round originally ranged from $100 to $500 (doubled again from the second pilot), and was doubled to $200 to $1,000 on November 26, 2001.
The Jeopardy! round begins when the returning champion selects any position on the game board. The underlying clue is revealed and read aloud by the host, after which any contestant may ring-in using a
Contestants are encouraged to select the clues in order from lowest to highest value, as the show's writers write the clues in each category to flow from one to the next, as is the case with game shows that ask questions in a linear string. Contestants are not required to do so unless the category requires clues to be taken in order; the "Forrest Bounce", a strategy in which contestants randomly pick clues to confuse opponents, has been used successfully by
From the premiere of the original Jeopardy! until the end of the first season of the current syndicated series, contestants were allowed to ring in as soon as the clue was revealed. Since September 1985, contestants are required to wait until the clue is read before ringing in. To accommodate the rule change, lights were added to the game board (unseen by home viewers) to signify when it is permissible for contestants to signal; attempting to signal before the light goes on locks the contestant out for half of a second. The change was made to allow the home audience to play along with the show more easily and to keep an extremely fast contestant from potentially dominating the game. In pre-1985 episodes, a buzzer would sound when a contestant signaled; according to Trebek, the buzzer was eliminated because it was "distracting to the viewers" and sometimes presented a problem when contestants rang in while Trebek was still reading the clue. Contestants who are visually impaired or blind are given a card with the category names printed in
A "Daily Double" is hidden behind one clue in the Jeopardy! round, and two in Double Jeopardy! The name and inspiration were taken from a
During the Jeopardy! round, except in response to the Daily Double clue, contestants are not penalized for forgetting to phrase their response in the form of a question, although the host will remind contestants to watch their phrasing in future responses. In the Double Jeopardy! round and in the Daily Double in the Jeopardy! round, the phrasing rule is followed more strictly, with a response not phrased in the form of a question counting as wrong if it is not re-phrased before the host or judges make a ruling.
If it is determined that a previous response was wrongly ruled to be correct or incorrect during the taping of an episode, the scores are adjusted at the first available opportunity (typically after the Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy! rounds, the first break, or a Daily Double break). If it occurs after taping of an episode is completed, the affected contestant(s) are invited back to compete on a future show, complying with federal quiz show regulations.
Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative score are automatically eliminated from the game at that point and awarded the third-place prize. On at least one episode hosted by Art Fleming, all three contestants finished Double Jeopardy! with $0 or less, and as a result, no Final Jeopardy! round was played. This rule is still in place for the Trebek version, although staff has suggested that it is not set in stone and that executive producer
The Final Jeopardy! round features a single clue. At the end of the Double Jeopardy! round, the host announces the Final Jeopardy! category and a commercial break follows. During the break, partitions are placed between the contestant lecterns, and each contestant makes a final wager; they may wager any amount of their earnings, but may not wager certain numbers with connotations that are deemed inappropriate (
In the rare occurrences where there is only one contestant remaining, that contestant automatically wins unless (s)he wagers his or her entire score (which has never been attempted in such a situation) and loses. Otherwise, contestants' responses are revealed in order of their pre-Final Jeopardy! scores from lowest to highest. Players who are tied after Double Jeopardy! have their responses revealed from right to left from the viewer's perspective. As soon as the first correct response is revealed the host confirms it to be so, usually including some brief context, otherwise, the host only reveals the correct response with context after all responses are revealed to be incorrect. A correct response adds the amount of the contestant's wager to his/her score, while a miss, failure to respond, insufficiently specific response or failure to phrase the response as a question (even if correct) deducts it. Misspelling is not penalized so long as the spelling does not affect the pronunciation of the word.
The contestant with the highest score at the end of the round is that day's winner. If there is a tie for second place, consolation prizes are awarded based on the scores going into the Final Jeopardy! round. If all three contestants finish with $0, no one returns as champion for the next show, and based on scores going into the Final Jeopardy! round, the two contestants who were first and second will receive the second-place prize, and the contestant in third will receive the third-place prize.
The strategy for wagering in Final Jeopardy! has been studied. If the leader's score is more than twice the second place contestant's score, the leader can guarantee victory by making a sufficiently small wager.:269 Otherwise, according to Jeopardy! College Champion Keith Williams, the leader will usually wager such that he or she will have a dollar more than twice the second place contestant's score, guaranteeing a win with a correct response. Writing about Jeopardy! wagering in the 1990s, Gilbert and Hatcher said that "most players wager aggressively".:269
The top scorer in each game is paid their winnings in cash and returns to play in the next match. In the case of a tie, all tying top scorers were paid their winnings. Non-winners receive consolation prizes instead of their winnings in the game. Since May 16, 2002, consolation prizes have been $2,000 for the second-place contestant(s) and $1,000 for the third-place contestant. Since the show does not generally provide travel or lodging for contestants, cash consolation prizes offset these costs. The show pays for travel for returning champions and players invited back because of errors who must make multiple trips to Los Angeles. If a tournament travels (does not stay in Los Angeles) on the second week, the show pays for travel.
During Art Fleming's hosting run, all three contestants received their winnings in cash (contestants who finished with a negative score were not required to pay) and parting gifts, usually an encyclopedia set. This was changed at the start of Trebek's hosting run to avoid the problem of contestants who would stop participating in the game, or avoid wagering in Final Jeopardy!, rather than risk losing the money they had already won; this also allowed the show to increase the clue values since only one contestant's score would have to be paid instead of three. From 1984 to 2002, non-winning contestants on the Trebek version received vacation packages and merchandise, which were donated by manufacturers as promotional consideration. Since 2004, a presenting sponsor has provided cash prizes to the losing contestants (As of 2019,
The winner of each episode returns to compete against two new contestants on the next episode. Originally, a contestant who won five consecutive days retired undefeated and was guaranteed a spot in the Tournament of Champions; the five-day limit was eliminated at the beginning of season 20 on September 8, 2003.
Since November 2014, ties for first place following Final Jeopardy! are broken with a tie-breaker clue, resulting in only a single champion being named, keeping their winnings, and returning to compete in the next show. The tied contestants are given the single clue, and the first contestant to buzz-in must give the correct question. A contestant cannot win by default if the opponent gives an incorrect question; that contestant must give a correct question to win the game. If neither player gives the correct question, another clue is given. Previously, if two or all three contestants tied for first place, they were declared "co-champions", and each retained his or her winnings and (unless one was a five-time champion who retired prior to 2003) returned on the following episode. A tie occurred on the January 29, 2014, episode when
If no contestant finishes Final Jeopardy! with a positive total, there is no winner. This has happened on several episodes, most recently on January 18, 2016. Three new contestants appear on the next episode. A triple zero has also occurred twice in tournament play (1991 Seniors and 2013 Teen), and also once in a Celebrity Week episode in 1998. All consolation prize money (regular play, with two $2,000 prizes and one $1,000 prize, and celebrity play, prize money for charities) are based on standard rules (score after Double Jeopardy!). In tournament play, an additional high scoring non-winner will advance to the next round (but all three players with a zero score in that game are eligible for that position should the score for that non-winner be zero; all tie-breaker rules apply).
Typically, the two challengers participate in a backstage draw to determine lectern positions. In all situations with three new contestants (most notably, unseeded tournaments in the first round), the draw will also determine who will take the champion's position and select first to start the game. (The player scoring the highest in the preceding round will be given the chance to select first in the semi-final and finals.)
Tournaments generally run for 10 consecutive episodes and feature 15 contestants. The first five episodes, the quarter-finals, feature three new contestants each day. Other than in the Tournament of Champions, the quarter-finals are unseeded and contestants participate in a random draw to determine playing order and lectern positions over the course of the five games. The Tournament of Champions is seeded based on total winnings in regular games to determine playing order and lectern positions, with the top five players occupying the champion's lectern for the quarter-final games.
The winners of the five quarter-final games and the four highest-scoring non-winners ("wild cards"), advance to the semi-finals, which run for three days. The semi-finals are seeded with the quarter-final winners being seeded 1–5 based on their quarter-final scores and the wild cards being seeded 6–9. The winners of the quarter-final games with the three highest scores occupy the champion's lectern for the semi-finals. The winners of the three semi-final games advance to play in a two-game final match, in which the scores from both games are combined to determine the overall standings. This format has been used since the first Tournament of Champions in 1985 and was devised by Trebek himself.
To prevent later contestants from playing to beat the earlier wild card scores instead of playing to win, contestants are "completely isolated from the studio until it is their time to compete".
If there is a tie for the final wild-card position, the non-winner that advances will be based on the same regulations as two contestants who tie for second; the tie-breaker is the contestant's score after the Double Jeopardy! round, and if further tied, the score after the Jeopardy! round determines the contestant who advances as the wild card.
If two or more contestants tie for the highest score (greater than zero) at the end of the match (first round, semi-final game, or end of a two-game final), the standard tiebreaker is used. However, if two or more contestants tie for the highest score at the end of the first game of a two-game final, no tiebreaker is played.
If none of the contestants in a quarter-final or semi-final game end with a positive score, no contestant automatically qualifies from that game, and an additional wild card contestant advances instead. This occurred in the quarter-finals of the 1991 Seniors Tournament and the semi-finals of the 2013 Teen Tournament.
In the finals, contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with a $0 or negative score on either day do not play Final Jeopardy! that day. Their score for that leg is recorded as $0.