Jeopardy Fans Call Out One Of The Game Show's Most Confusingly Worded Clues, And I'm On Their Side

Jeopardy! fans have been known to take the quiz show pretty seriously. It’s a good thing, too, because there’s no way the nearly 60-year-old game would still be as respected as it is today without meeting a certain high standard. Its viewers are more than happy to hold the powers that be accountable, as they've called out the show in the past for using outdated language and even had host Ken Jennings playing defense over a couple of possible gaffes. The latest issue irking the collective Jeopardy! fandom concerns the wording of a recent Final Jeopardy! clue, and I’ve got to admit, they’ve got a point.

On the February 14 episode of Jeopardy!, the final category was Arts & Science, and Ken Jennings read the following clue to the three contestants:  

A craft that visited it was named for Giotto, based on the story that 680 years earlier, the painter depicted it as the Star of Bethlehem.

I’m sorry, what? The correct response was “Halley’s Comet,” which only one of the three players was able to come up with. Judging from the comments on Jeopardy!’s tweet about it, it looks like I wasn’t the only one who had to re-read the clue a few times. One commenter tweeted

Had to pause and read this 5 times and still didn’t know what it was asking. Could have added 1986 to it maybe

I’m not sure more words in the clue would have helped. Others in the comments called it a “word salad” and said the clue was misleading, as there was never intention to land on Halley’s Comet. Another called it a “nightmare of confusion.” Plenty of Jeopardy! fans got snarky, and YOU KNOW they remembered to respond in the form of a question: 

  • What is a horribly worded clue? – @JackieFox1976
  • What is "the steady decline of Jeopardy as an intellectual and dignified game?" – @YMidtownL
  • "What is a clause?" Jeopardy staff writers – @hdhdnxh627w7w
  • What is proofreading? – @linguistatIarge
  • What is I've read this clue four times and still have no idea how to answer? – @DaphneHarridge

One Twitter user certainly helped to relieve my headache by providing an alternate wording of the clue, in a way that — if this was the intent of the writers — definitely would have been more understandable. The fan wrote:  

What a mess! I watched the final twice and still can barely make sense of this. Did you mean: ‘A craft that flew by it was named for Giotto, who depicted it as the Star of Bethlehem 680 years earlier’?

Jeopardy! presumably isn’t wrong very often, but the game show has come into question a few times recently. Senior researcher Michael Harris was forced to explain the show’s reasoning behind one Final Jeopardy! clue in the most recent Tournament of Champions, after theologians said they got it wrong. The family of Brian Laundrie also spoke out after a “distasteful” clue referenced the man who reportedly died by suicide after apparently killing his fiancée Gabby Petito.

Jeopardy!’s relevance has been called into question recently as well, from one of its repeat champions, and it seems like one way to ensure it maintains the respect the fans demand is to avoid grammatical anomalies like that Arts & Science clue! Check your local listings to see when Jeopardy! plays in your area, and also take a look at our 2023 TV schedule to stay updated on all the upcoming premieres. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.