Longtime Jeopardy! fans did not skip out on Alex Trebek's last episodes. The beloved game show was the top-rated syndicated series during the week of Monday, Jan. 4 to Sunday, Jan. 10. Trebek died on Nov. 8 at 80, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. The show has since returned with a series of guest hosts, beginning with former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings.
Jeopardy! scored a 6.6 rating during Trebek's final week, beating Wheel of Fortune's 6.0 rating, reports The Wrap. The show was up 29% over the previous week and marked a season-high. Wheel also hit its own season-high and was up 18% over the previous week. Wheel's extra bump in interest was likely due to Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, which debuted on ABC Jan. 7 in primetime.
Trebek's final episode aired on Friday, Jan. 8. It drew 14 million viewers, making it the most-watched episode in over 400 days. Back in June 2019, fans could not look away when James Holzhauer attempted to challenge Jennings' records. Holzhauer won over $2.4 million in 32 Jeopardy! games. Jennings won $2.5 million over 74 games in 2004. Jennings also beat Holzhauer in last year's primetime Greatest of All Time tournament.
Speaking of Jennings, his first episode as host aired on Monday, Jan. 11. He is reportedly not in the running to replace Trebek permanently, a source told E! News on Jan. 9. The situation is "fluid," but sources told the outlet a permanent host will likely not be named before the spring. Jennings became a controversial figure after some of his past tweets resurfaced, including an offensive message about the disabled that he later deleted. The Jeopardy! producers did not comment, but Jennings did issue an apology on Twitter. "Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended," Jennings wrote. "It wasn't my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn't matter: I screwed up, and I'm truly sorry."
Jeopardy! producers announced the first group of celebrity hosts who will take Jennings' place after his time is up. The list includes journalist Katie Couric, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 60 Minutes journalist Bill Whitaker and actress Mayim Bialik. After her gig was announced, Bialik called it a "dream come true" and noted she has watched the show her entire life. "I’ve been such a fan of [Jeopardy!] and Alex Trebek since I can remember," she wrote on Instagram. "It will be an honor to guest host this iconic show and celebrate his great legacy."