Jeopardy! Fans Are Calling Out One Of The Worst Clues In The Show’s History

A bizarrely worded Final Jeopardy! clue has fans concerned about what's going on behind the scenes at the game show.

By Michileen Martin | Updated


We rarely think of the folks behind the scenes who are crafting the clues for the iconic game show Jeopardy!, and maybe it’s about time that changed. Last week for Final Jeopardy!, host Ken Jennings read what is perhaps the single most poorly worded clue in the history of the game. The answer to the clue was “Halley’s Comet,” but as many fans took the time to point out, figuring that out from the wording of the clue was next to impossible.

The clue, from the Arts & Science category, was “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.” Clearly, when it came to proofreading the clue, someone fell asleep at the wheel at Jeopardy! Only one of the three contestants was able to get the answer and considering the wording, it’s something of a minor miracle any of them managed it at all.

Jeopardy! fans can — like a lot of committed fandoms — be a prickly lot, as evidenced by what seemed like months of unending attacks on co-host Mayim Bialik on everything from her wardrobe to her script. But it’s difficult to blame them for getting irked at this Halley Comet’s clue. You can see some of the more choice responses on Twitter to the word-salad Final Jeopardy! clue.

That last barb points to something we’re seeing more and more from fans: the notion that Jeopardy! is on the decline in quality. Though really the only thing we know for sure about what’s gotten worse about the show is the drama surrounding it, and a lot of that has to do with the prominence of social media. No, Jeopardy! didn’t do itself any favors by recruiting a controversial celebrity like Mayim Bialik, but in the past few years most if not all of the controversy surrounding the show seemed to begin on Twitter or similar sites.

CinemaBlend reported on one such controversy last month, when shots were fired between two former Jeopardy! champs — Yogesh Raut and James Holzhauer. Raut was criticized for not congratulating the contestant who knocked him out of the champ’s chair, Katie Palumbo, and the champ responded with a string of Facebook posts criticizing Jeopardy! and questioning its relevance. In response, Holzhauer tweeted that “anyone” criticizing the show “or its producers should get a lifetime ban” from Jeopardy!

Add to that, the last couple of years have seen Jeopardy! come under fire for a number of controversial clues — and in most cases, ones whose controversy didn’t revolve around grammar or poor phrasing. In one recently infamous example, the show was heavily criticized for a clue about the late Brian Laundrie.

Jeopardy! is currently in the middle of its 39th season. Tonight, Monday, February 20, the show’s High School Reunion tournament airs. Check your local listings for times and channels.