Jeopardy! is the most popular game show in the world because it has a satisfying formula: each week, you can expect to see new contestants compete alongside the occasional returning Final Jeopardy! winners.
Now, though, the show has upended this formula in a way that has upset longtime fans even more than the introduction of Mayim Bialik to the host rotation.
According to TV Insider, many fans are complaining the show is stuck in “tournament hell” because of the extended tournament season that won’t wrap up until April 2024, and this is keeping viewers from getting a fresh crop of contestants each week.
Too Many Jeopardy! Tournaments
How did Jeopardy! end up in tournament hell?
It all started on October 2 when the show began a Champions Wildcard tournament allowing winners from Seasons 37 and 38 to compete for a coveted spot in the Tournament of Champions.
To whet fans’ appetites for the Wildcard event, the show aired a Second Chance tournament the week before allowing losers from Season 37 to get a (you guessed it) second chance to participate in Champions Wildcard.
Supposed To Build Fan Excitement
On paper, all of these events were meant to provide a sense of exciting momentum for loyal Jeopardy! viewers.
They’d get to see losers hoping for redemption as well as champs defending their titles, and all of this would culminate in a high-stakes Tournament of Champions.
The problem is that it doesn’t stop there: after that comes the Jeopardy! Invitational Tournament in which even more returning players compete for a spot in the Jeopardy! Masters tournament.
No New Contestants Until April?
The result of holding one major Jeopardy! tournament after another is that we won’t be getting episodes with new contestants until April 2024.
However, producers of the longtime game show found themselves between a rock and a hard place due to the previous WGA strike.
The strike went on long enough that it forced producers to recycle some of their older clues and to bring back former champions, but even that proved more difficult than one might think.
Some of the previous Jeopardy! champions who were contacted refused to return to the show out of solidarity with striking writers.
Speaking of solidarity, controversial cohost Mayim Bialik stepped down from her position in May, leaving fan-favorite Ken Jennings as the show’s sole host (at least, until she chooses to return now that the writers’ strike and actors’ strike are over).
Once Jeopardy! had its host and returning champions sorted out, though, producers were left with a more pressing problem: they had no way of knowing how long the strike was going to last.
That’s ultimately how the show ended up in tournament hell: Jeopardy! producers planned many months of tournaments, and they had no way of knowing the WGA strike would end on September 27.
The show aired its last non-tournament, new contestant episode on July 28, and it looks like we won’t get another one until April of next year.
Now, these endless tournaments have longtime fans asking a Jeopardy!-style question that might also be their final answer: “when will I get sick of these boring tournaments and finally change the channel?”