HomeEntertainment‘Jeopardy!’: An Exec Once Asked to Make the Game Show Easier

‘Jeopardy!’: An Exec Once Asked to Make the Game Show Easier

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

There’s nothing that can match the feeling of when you’re watching “Jeopardy!” and you answer a clue correctly. It’s exhilarating because, for many of us (Ken Jennings excluded,) the questions aren’t that easy. If they were, the show probably wouldn’t be as exciting. 

For decades, “Jeopardy! had been the family-favorite game show many of us look forward to each evening. The variety of questions, the contestants, and of course, the late Alex Trebek all kept us watching for years. 

Before he passed away, Trebek spoke candidly about his experience watching the classic quiz show’s evolution. In Trebek’s memoir, The Answer Is…, he revealed a surprising fact about the show’s questions after spending 36 years hosting “Jeopardy!” 

When Trebek booked the job that would define his career in 1984, the show initially struggled to attract viewers. According to Trebek, one “Jeopardy!” executive argued that the show couldn’t gain an audience because the questions were too difficult. 

As a result, Trebek and the executives worked out a plan to “soften up” the show even though they had two months’ worth of episodes already taped. In his memoir, Trebek writes that the next time he saw the executive, Trebek said, “Did you notice that the material got a lot easier?’ ‘Yeah!'” he said. “Thank you so much for doing that. It’s playing a lot better now.'”

Super Fans Can Explore Decades of ‘Jeopardy!’ Clues in Database

Even though for many of us, the half-hour of “Jeopardy!” is a brainbuster, for trivia fanatics, it might be a walk in the park. 

For “Jeopardy!” super fans or trivia-holics, a website known as “J Archive” offers fans a database that includes every clue and answer given on the show. Fans can browse 384,440 questions (as of January 10, 2020) from the 36 seasons. The clues date back to 1984 when Trebek landed his hosting gig on “Jeopardy!” 

The 39-year-old patent attorney Robert Schmidt created the website 15 years ago and keeps it updated with a small group of fellow “Jeopardy!” fans. 

Mark Barrett spent hundreds of hours re-watching “Jeopardy!” episodes and estimates that he still has around 150 taped episodes to add to the archive, but there could be as many as 1400 clues still needed for the database. 

“The dream is that more games turn up through streaming services, or contestants with their own copies who upload them to YouTube and such,” he said in an interview. The archive is also a helpful study guide for those looking to land behind the podium. For others, it’s interesting to explore decades of “Jeopardy!” questions.