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The game show world was shook on Sunday, Nov. 8, when Jeopardy! announced that its longtime host Alex Trebek died of pancreatic cancer earlier that day. "Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends," the Tweet from the official Jeopardy! account read. "Thank you, Alex." Though many are still trying to stomach the loss of a pop culture icon, some are wondering who will replace Trebek on Jeopardy!.
As of now, no decision has been made on Trebek's permanent replacement. But on Monday, Nov. 23, the network announced its plan to continue with filming for the forseeable future — something Trebek wanted.
“Alex believed in the importance of Jeopardy! and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him,” Jeopardy! Executive Producer Mike Richards said in a press statement. “We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues. By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers.”
As soon as the announcement was made, fans started sharing their suggestions over Twitter. Many want to see Will Ferrel, who famously portrayed Trebek on Saturday Night Live, step in for an episode or two.
"Will Ferrell please for a day or two," one user begged, while another wrote "Any chance @OfficialWilllF will guest host (as @nbcsnl #AlexTrebek character of course!)? #Jeopardy."
Will Ferrell please for a day or two
— Mandy St. Amand (@mandystlpd) November 23, 2020
— Ronda Dorsey (@openarian) November 24, 2020
A few people suggested Watson, IBM's question-answering system that famously competed on the show.
Add Watsons name to the guest list! Pretty please🥺🍒 https://t.co/Gu58Ua0Oa0
— Ouiser 🌱 (@carpe_bohemian) November 23, 2020
Another popular suggestion was actor and former Reading Rainbow host, LeVar Burton. As one fane noted, Burton has, "been educating many of us one way or another for nearly our whole lives" and would make the perfect replacement for Trebek. Another user echoed these thoughts, writing that "Jeopardy! and Alex Trebek made having knowledge cool. Levar Burton turned the quest for knowledge into an adventure. It would be a perfect fit."
Looking forward to seeing @levarburton as one of those hosts. He’s been educating many of us one way or another for nearly our whole lives. What better way to continue?!
— Cyndi (@TheyMightWin9) November 23, 2020
@levarburton would be a great choice as a host for Jeopardy. Jeopardy and Alex Trebek made having knowledge cool. Levar Burton turned the quest for knowledge into an adventure. It would be a perfect fit. pic.twitter.com/q9iuxQsYTj
— Neko Madison (@NekoMadison) November 24, 2020
Although the network may consider these suggestions, they've already selected the first guest host has already been chosen: Ken Jennings, a former contestant who holds the all-time records for most consecutive games won (74) and highest winnings in regular-season play ($2,520,700). He also took home the title of Jeopardy!’s “Greatest of All Time” in a battle earlier this year against James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. Jennings shared the news on Twitter, writing "There will only ever be one Alex Trebek, but I'm honored to be helping Jeopardy! out with this in January."
There will only ever be one Alex Trebek, but I'm honored to be helping Jeopardy! out with this in January. https://t.co/2m2b5IQnkw
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) November 23, 2020
The network also announced a change to the air date of Trebek's final episode. According to initial reports from Variety, Trebek's last episode was set to air Dec. 25. But after some consideration and planning, the network announced via Twitter on Monday, Nov. 23, that it would "air 10 of his [Trebeck's] best episodes the weeks of 12/21 and 12/28, and air his final week of episodes starting 1/4."
Trebek had been open about his health battle from the beginning, first sharing the new via a YouTube video in early 2019. At the time, the host said the prognosis for his illness was "not very encouraging,” but promised he would keep fighting. In addition to keeping fans informed about his health, he also let them know what his diagnosis meant for the future of Jeopardy!. During a January 2020 appearance on Good Morning America, Trebek revealed he had rehearsed his final sign off for when he is no longer able to carry on with the show.
“I will say my goodbyes, and I will tell people, 'Don't ask me who's going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I'm sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me... then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye,'" he said.
But Trebek, along with family, friends, and fans, hoped he wouldn't have to utter those words any time soon. In fact, during another Good Morning America interview in July 2020, Trebek said he was showing progress and felt positive about the outcome.
"My doctor has told me that he is counting on me celebrating two years of survivorship past the diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and that two years happens in February," Trebek said in the interview to promote his memoir, The Answer Is. . . :Reflections on My Life. “So I expect to be around — because he said I will be around — and I expect to be hosting the show if I am around.”
As of now, it is unclear who will replace Trebek and when that replacement will start. But it is clear that they will have big shoes to fill.
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