After announcing he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek was adamant that he would continue hosting the quiz show as long as he possibly could even as he continued chemotherapy.
However, the moment the 79-year-old longtime host has to step away may come sooner rather than later. In a recent interview, Trebek said he would continue hosting “as long as (his) skills do not diminish, but he noted that “they have started to diminish.”
That begs the question, can this long-running game show continue without Trebek?
Managing Editor Leeanna Ellis and reporter Daniel Buhrman debate.
Ellis: There is no show without Trebek
In March, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announced he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The news was devastating for Trebek and viewers, who have watched the once mustachioed host for years.
Trebek has been the host of “Jeopardy!” for 36 years. That's nearly my entire life. (I turned 38 on Thursday). So the thought of someone else hosting the long-running quiz show seems inconceivable.
My family and I have been watching “Jeopardy!” for as long as I can remember. It has long been one of my brother's favorite game shows. My husband and I challenge each other to see who can get the most questions right when we watch together.
While you're focused on the contestants and answers, it's Trebek who makes the show. After 36 seasons and nearly 8,000 episodes, no one can deliver the answers like he can. His interactions with contestants also adds to the charm.
Trebek wasn't the first host of “Jeopardy!” Art Fleming hosted the first three versions, from 1964 to 1975 and again from 1978 to 1979.
In 2014, well-known sportscaster Dan Patrick began hosting “Sports Jeopardy!” This seemed like a viable spinoff, but it lasted just over two years.
The reason Fleming's and Patrick's versions of the show didn't work, in my opinion, is because neither are Trebek.
No one wants to see Trebek have to step away from “Jeopardy!” I, like many others around the country, am hoping and praying his treatments are successful and he beats this deadly disease.
But if that day comes that he must step away, I hope Sony Pictures Television, which produces the show, will cease production and let this much-beloved game show be Trebek's legacy.
Buhrman: Who is the next Jeopardy host?
The best in your battle Alex Trebek — you've made it to remission before and can do it again.
Though his health is most important, it would certainly be an end of era for “Jeopardy!” if Alex Trebek leaves the show. The show has had only two hosts in its 55 years of existence, and Trebek's been there for more than 35.
It certainly wouldn't be the same without Trebek's self-confirmed "disappointed dad" tones he takes when contestants miss a question, the tone which a certain “Saturday Night Live” skit strikes back at. But the show would live on.
A new host would be different, but different isn't always bad, especially in game shows where the game is, quite literally, the show. The host and contestants are frosting on top of the game cake. If it wasn't a good game to begin with, it wouldn't matter who was hosting it.
The first game show I thought of when I asked myself if “Jeopardy!” would live on was “Family Feud.” That show, which has also been around decades, has seen numerous hosts over its run. My mom fell in love with the Feud when Richard Dawson hosted and continues to love it today with the gregarious Steve Harvey always getting flabbergasted by the seemingly "adult" answers. As for myself, I started watching when the host was John O'Hurley and don't mind the episodes hosted by a tool man's co-actor in Richard Karn.
After the Feud, I remembered “The Price is Right.” The show shares many hosting similarities with “Jeopardy!,” what with Bob Barker there for decades reminding people about proper pet health. He was suave with his white hair and showed a certain amount of empathy for people who didn't quite crack the luck of the show's various games.
After Barker left “The Price is Right” in 2007, he was replaced with Drew Carey. The show still carries high numbers of viewers. E! News reported in 2017 that the show's dual broadcasts carried 4.8 and 5.5 million viewers a day. The show has also received eight Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show with three of those awards coming after Carey took over.
The thrill of hearing your name to "Come on down!" still reigns supreme for “The Price is Right” fans just as the thrill of besting your peers in the ultimate trivia format will for years to come.