‘Jeopardy!’ Fans Claim ‘Rules Aren’t Being Enforced’ on the Show

by Caitlin Berard

Becoming a contestant on Jeopardy! is a challenge in itself. After taking a test, passing an audition, and playing a test round, you might get on the show. And, should you find yourself standing behind a contestant’s podium, it doesn’t get any easier from there.

As a contestant, there are many rules that must be followed. Perhaps the most crucial of all, however, is that each question must be answered in the form of a question. This response format has been a hallmark of the game show since its inception!

With that in mind, many fans are claiming the series has become a little lax with its rule book in recent episodes. Sometimes the rules are followed to the letter, sometimes contestants squeak by with an answer that can only be considered correct in the loosest terms. It seems to depend on the day.

A recent episode, in particular, had a moment that fans simply couldn’t stomach, many taking to social media to criticize the show for breaking its own rules.

A Breakdown of the Rule-Breaking Moment on ‘Jeopardy!’

It all started with the Double Jeopardy clue. “Baby, I’ve asked you not to ruin plot points for me (unless you give me this seven-letter alert),” host Mayim Bialik read.

One-game champion Brian Ahern buzzed in first, responding, “Spoiler,” which Mayim declared correct, despite the contestant not beginning his answer with “What is…”

Judges did not intervene in the acceptance of the technically incorrect response, and fans were furious. “In the Double Jeopardy! round regarding the “spoiler” response, Brian did not phrase his response in the form of a question. Did you guys miss that?” one fan wrote. “You are exactly right! It’s beginning to be error after error after error!” added another.

Well, fans aren’t incorrect in their assessment. According to Jeopardy!‘s own website, “If a contestant forgets their phrasing in the Double Jeopardy! round, during Final Jeopardy! or for any Daily Double clue, they will be ruled incorrect.”

Not to mention, it isn’t like this is a typical occurrence on the show or that the rules could be changing. On the contrary, contestants are disqualified all the time because of this mistake.

But the laws of Jeopardy! don’t seem to matter one-hundred percent of the time. Despite the many instances of Mayim Bialik insisting that “What is” is an absolute necessity, especially in Double Jeopardy, Brian’s response was accepted.

Other questionable responses have been accepted in recent episodes as well. For example, in an episode last week, a contestant simply responded, “Who is Bush?”

Now, she did answer in the form of a question. However, the full answer was “Who is George H. W. Bush?”. On its own, “Bush” could mean either George H. W. Bush or his son, George W. Bush, making the contestant’s response fall short of what fans would consider correct.