Legendary show host dies, Jeopardy! showrunners attempt to continue


Photo by Maya Seiler

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek speaks at the end of his final show, which premiered on Jan. 8.

During March 2019, Jeopardy! game show host Alex Trebeck publicly announced he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, and on Nov. 9, 2020, he died at age 80. 

Before his time hosting the show, Trebeck was a journalist working in Canada, where he grew up, until he switched up his career by working as a game show host. According to Brian Lowry and Dakin Andone for CNN, Trebek hosted a show called “Reach for the Top” and later, one called “Jackpot” in the 1960s. The game show host did not land “Jeopardy!” until 1984.

Jeopardy! is a staple show in households all across America and even around the world. This trivia game show is renowned for how answers are given first and then the three contestants have to buzz in to “ask” the answer. Traditionally with a live audience, the stakes can get high as contestants must complete the first two rounds by winning above zero dollars, in order to move onto “Final Jeopardy.” In “Final Jeopardy,” they are given one clue and they must wager to end up with the most money. 

Junior Jayne Samborn watches the show when she can, and she avidly enjoys the show’s thrill in testing her knowledge.“You learn a lot from all the different categories and it’s just nice to have a lot of information from a lot of different topics,” Samborn said.

Naturally, the show ends up being quite suspenseful and nerve-wracking for players, but throughout each episode, Trebeck never failed to crack jokes, reveal answers with charisma and encourage participants. Even when he battled cancer and amidst the pandemic, Trebek soldiered on until the very end so he could continue the show with a smile. Special seasons, including the College Championship, Teens, Teachers and Seniors tournaments were also featured during his time as a host, and sometimes he would travel the globe to capture answers for certain categories. In total, Trebeck hosted over 8,200 episodes over 37 seasons. 

…he’s left a very inspiring legacy because he’s been doing this show for over 30 years…”

— Desiree Ofori

Junior Desiree Ofori has viewed the show while Trebek hosted. To her, “he’s left a very inspiring legacy because he’s been doing this show for over 30 years and it’s something not just identified as a show but as something comforting,” Ofori said. 

Choosing who will fill in for the loss the show has experienced will not be a quick or easy decision for showrunners. Since Trebek’s last show premiered on Jan. 8, the game’s “Greatest of All Time” contestant, who won 74 consecutive games in 2004, Ken Jennings, has been set to temporarily host week-day games. The show’s Executive Producer, Mike Richards, will intermittently host for two weeks while guest appearances jump in. Within these upcoming weeks, these guest host appearances will include journalist and author Katie Couric, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker and actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik.