Alex Trebek's final episode as the host of Jeopardy! will air on Christmas Day, according to the show's team.
Because shows are taped months in advance, Alex's final episode was filmed on October 29, just about 10 days before his death on November 8.
It's unclear if the host asked producers to film a goodbye message yet, but he did give a special speech during his last week of taping for viewers.
As the host of Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek routinely filmed three to five episodes each day, weeks and months in advance of their actual airing date. Because of this, Trebek filmed many episodes before he died on November 8 at 80 years old, more than a year after first revealing his stage-4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Via the Jeopardy! website, Sony Pictures Television shares that the game host was last in the studio on October 29, just 10 days before he died. That means that Jeopardy! will continue to air new episodes featuring Alex throughout the holidays, with his final episode as host airing on Christmas Day.
Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex. pic.twitter.com/Yk2a90CHIM
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 8, 2020
After 37 years of hosting — Alex first stepped onto the Jeopardy! set in 1984 in his early 40s — one of America's most iconic television hosts had actually imagined what his perfect sign-off on Jeopardy! would be. Earlier this year, while he was gearing up to release his memoir The Answer Is: Reflections on My Life, he told reporters at the Television Critics Association that he would only need 30 seconds at the end of the show to wish viewers well. He expanded upon that idea in an interview with ABC News in 2019.
"I've kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, 'Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That's all I want," he told ABC News' Michael Strahan. "And 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.'”
It's unclear if Trebek ever got the chance to film his goodbye clip, and there may be a chance that Jeopardy! airs such a clip during the last episode scheduled to air next month. But some of the producers on the show have already signaled that what ended up being Alex's last week hosting Jeopardy! felt much different from other episodes we've seen this year.
"He was the most professional person I worked with in any capacity. Here he was battling cancer, chemo, exhaustion, but you couldn’t tell when the cameras rolled," Mike Richards, an executive producer on Jeopardy!, told CNN. "The fact that he recorded what would be his final episode two weeks ago gives you an idea of how much he cared about the show."
Alex's impact is immeasurable. Thank you for sharing, Burt! pic.twitter.com/XgGGwJ8GlH
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 6, 2020
The producers on set "didn't know" that Alex's final week of filming Jeopardy! would truly be his last, but Richards says it was evident that the host's health was taking a toll on him. "He was in pain and we knew it," Richards said, adding that Alex could only get through three episodes a day instead of the typical schedule, which included five tapings. "I had chills the entire tape day… He gives a speech talking about togetherness, how important family is, and it will resonate even more now. It was so beautiful, we were all in tears."
Ahead of tonight's show, longtime Jeopardy! fans will be watching to see how Alex is honored this week and throughout the last airings of his hosting duties. “[Alex] was a legend of the industry that we were all lucky to watch night after night for 37 years. Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host Jeopardy! was an incredible honor," Richards said in a statement. "His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever."
Sony has yet to announce when filming will resume, per a Variety report, or who will do their best to fill the role as host in the future.
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