Why Alex Trebek’s Final Jeopardy Episodes Were Delayed, According To Show’s Executive Producer

Alex Trebek hosting Jeopardy!

It’s been nearly two months since Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek passed away following an over-18-month battle with pancreatic cancer, but he hasn’t been gone from our lives entirely. Trebek’s final Jeopardy! episodes have continued to air in the weeks following his death, and the last of the bunch will be shown from Monday, January 4 to Friday, January 8. However, originally the plan was for these final five episodes to air on Christmas week.

So why was it decided to save Alex Trebek’s last Jeopardy! outings for the new year? Executive producer Mike Richards attributed the shift to realizing that there was just too much going on as the Christmas season came to close for Trebek’s last Jeopardy! outing to get the attention it deserved. As Richards explained to EW:

We looked at where that final week was going to air, and the week of Christmas is crazy. People are all over the place. They’ve got a lot of family obligations, and a lot of distractions. And the NBA is back, so that could lead to preemptions. So it really came down to, we wanted our fans and the fans of Alex to be able to really not feel stressed to see his final episodes, and really savor those last five. As we have. I screen each episode, and it took me a long time to do those five, because I really wanted to enjoy every nuance. I've studied his performance at a very intense level, and I wanted to really get everything I could out of watching him do it one last time. And I feel that his fans would want to be able to have the same opportunity.

Obviously folks will still be able to enjoy Alex Trebek in Jeopardy! reruns airing on conventional television and streaming for a long time. Nevertheless, it makes sense why Mike Richards and the Jeopardy! team decided to hold back on releasing this last batch of original footage featuring the game show host in all his glory. With so many people occupied by the Christmas festivities, not to mention basketball potentially complicating things, these final Trebek-hosted Jeopardy! episodes wouldn’t have been enjoyed as much as they could be on a less hectic week.

So instead, the Jeopardy! episodes airing during 2020’s final two weeks were reruns that featured location shoots where Alex Trebek delivered clues. Mike Richards noted how the show’s staff believed these were his “favorite trips” for the show, and that you can tell in the clips “how excited he is.” As for what the future holds in store for Jeopardy!, a series of guest hosts will help keep the show going in the near future, starting on January 11 with former superstar contestant Ken Jennings. There’s no word yet on who will take over as Jeopardy’s permanent host, although the internet was rooting for LeVar Burton to get the job shortly after Trebek’s passing.

Once again, Alex Trebek’s final Jeopardy! episodes will air next week, and it’s also worth mentioning that the upcoming Ryan Reynolds comedy Free Guy will feature a posthumous cameo from the game show host. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more Jeopardy!-related news, and scan through our Winter and Spring 2021 premiere schedule to learn what other series are returning to the small screen soon.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.