'Jeopardy!': How the writers' strike will affect the game show's new season

Showrunner Michael Davies revealed this week how it plans to make new episodes without writers.

<em>Jeopardy! </em>is gearing up for Season 40. (Getty Images)
Jeopardy! is gearing up for Season 40. (Getty Images)
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Jeopardy! plans to keep going strong, even as the writers who provide the answers on the TV staple are on strike. But there will be some changes to the show, which is on hiatus, when it returns in the fall.

What's going to change

Showrunner Michael Davies explained Monday on the Inside Jeopardy! podcast just how it will keep rolling out new episodes without its scribes: They'll use "a combination of material that our WGA writers wrote before the strike, which is still in the database, and material that has been re-deployed from multiple, multiple seasons of the show." So new episodes will be made up of some new material and recycled answers, which Jeopardy! normally wouldn't do.

In another deviation from previous seasons, Davies announced that the show would rely on former players rather than new contestants.

"I also believe, principally, that it would not be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance on the Alex Trebek Stage, doing it with non-original material. Or as we’ll talk about a combination of non-original material and material that was written pre-strike," he said at the top of the podcast episode. "So, we’re gonna open the season with a second chance tournament for players from Season 37 who lost their initial game. And winners from that will advance to a Season 37 and Season 38 champions wildcard."

Whoever those contestants are will receive $1,000 more each in prize money than previously awarded: $2,000 for third place and $3,000 for second place. Davies said the show understands that, post-COVID, the cost of traveling to it has increased, so they wanted to acknowledge that.

Speaking of contestants, the smarties who have managed to pass the Jeopardy! test normally enter a pool — where they can be called up to film any time — for 18 months. The pool is now being extended to 24 months.

What's staying the same

Ken Jennings will remain a big presence on the Jeopardy! set when it resumes filming later this month following the summer break.

Host Ken Jennings poses with contestant Amy Schneider on the
Host Ken Jennings poses with contestant Amy Schneider on the Jeopardy! Masters tournament that aired in May. (Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images)

As viewers will recall, the record-holder for the contestant who's won the most consecutive games (74 games in 2004) and one of the show's two regular hosts since Alex Trebek's death in 2020, stepped in to do the job solo after the writers' strike began in May. And he was criticized for doing so. Mayim Bialik, who was also tasked with hosting, opted to sit out the last week of filming for the season to stand in solidarity with the writers. The Call Me Kat star is a member of the actor's guild, which joined writers in the strike last month.

Jeopardy! star James Holzhauer, who holds the record for the most single-game winnings, slammed not Jennings but the show for carrying on amid the industry turmoil. Holzhauer wasn't the only one who had an issue with the show operating without its writers, as evidenced by posts from former champions on websites like Facebook and Reddit.

Because of those contestants who have said they wouldn't come back during a strike and the fact that there are no new clues, there won't be a Tournament of Champions or even the games leading up to that in which the participants are chosen. Look for the post-season to take place once the writers return.

Another thing to look forward to after the strike is for Jeopardy! to host an invitational tournament between its most successful players to determine who will compete in a new edition of Jeopardy! Masters. That and the milestone Season 40, which is currently scheduled to premiere Sept. 11, but....

As for Celebrity Jeopardy!, the upcoming season was completely written before the strike, so it will feature all original content when it premieres in September.