‘Jeopardy!’: One Category Appears More Frequently Than Any Other

by Kayla Zadel
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If you’re a frequent “Jeopardy!” watcher, then you might be able to guess what category appears more often on the game show. However, if you dabble in the quiz show from time to time, you might’ve not realized categories often repeat.

Nonetheless, there is one “Jeopardy!” category that is a repeat offender. That category is “Before & After,” according to “Jeopardy!” facts on IMDB.

What is the “Before & After” category? It can be tricky to describe, but the correct answer will be a combination of two separate things that combine to form the correct answer. If you’re still not sure what we mean, check out this video montage of “Jeopardy!” contestants trying their hand at the category. Sometimes the answers even garner a chuckle, because it can seem odd or confusing.

How ‘Jeopardy!’ Categories and Clues Come About

Do you ever wonder where these intricate and complex questions come from that often stump even the smartest of people? Well, join the club.

According to the “Jeopardy!” website, the game show has a staff of full-time writers that are saddled with the job of coming up with categories, as well as questions. These individual’s daily assignment consists of creating two to three categories, each complete with five approved clues.

Jeopardy! head writer Billy Wisse and writer Michele Loud give some insight as to how the process works. First up, it begins with generating ideas.

“For me, there are two basic ways,” Billy Wisse says. “You either come up with a cute title, like UNIVERSAL PICTURES, and try to find something to fit that category; or you say, ‘I haven’t written ART in a while, I’ll see if I can think of a new angle,” Billy says. ”For me, it either comes from the title or the subject.”

Then once the staff has come up with their clues, they hand them over to Wisse for approval. Sometimes questions need to be re-written or are tossed out if they don’t align with the game show’s values. Next up, is one of the most crucial parts of creating these clues.

Wisse will organize the clues from easiest to hardest, or lowest dollar value to highest on the game board. After that, the categories are passed on to the researchers.

“A member of that team first double-sources each fact with reputable sources – usually an encyclopedia, dictionary or other appropriate resource material. If the clue passes that test, the researcher then tries to come up with any possible alternative responses to the clue; if unable to come up with one, the researcher can consider this clue “pinned.” If clues do not pass these double-sourcing or pinning tests, the writers will rework them as necessary until they get approval from the research team,” the website states.

Wisse continually checks to make sure the game board is “balanced,” or has enough variety of topics. Fun fact, “Each season, the writers produce a total of 230 games; that comes out to 14,030 clues per season.” Now that’s what we call a thinking person’s game.

Outsider.com