THEN AND NOW: How your favorite game shows have changed since they first aired

wheel of fortune hosts
Pat Sajak began hosting "Wheel of Fortune" in 1981, and Vanna White joined in 1982.Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images
  • Before Alex Trebek began hosting "Jeopardy!" in 1984, Art Fleming was at the helm.

  • Pat Sajak retired from "Wheel of Fortune" in June after more than 40 years as the host.

  • The question-and-answer format of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" has changed over the years.

Classic game shows like "Wheel of Fortune," "The Price Is Right," and "Jeopardy!" have remained fixtures of American households for decades.

While the set design, game format, and hosts have changed through the years, the suspense and excitement of watching contestants win big keeps people watching.

Here's how four classic game shows have evolved over time.

Art Fleming hosted "Jeopardy!" from 1964 to 1974, and then hosted a revamped version from 1978 to 1979.

Art Fleming, the first host of "Jeopardy!"
Art Fleming.NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

"Jeopardy!" creator Merv Griffin first spotted Fleming in an airline commercial and thought he'd be perfect for the hosting gig, The New York Times reported.

Alex Trebek began hosting the show in 1984, when it became syndicated daily.

alex trebek
Alex Trebek.Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Trebek won seven Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host.

After Trebek's death in 2020, "Jeopardy!" featured a series of guest hosts until Ken Jennings took over as the show's permanent replacement.

Ken Jennings as host of "Jeopardy!"
Ken Jennings.Eric McCandless/Disney

Trebek died of pancreatic cancer in November 2020. While the show searched for a new permanent host, celebrities such as Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper, LeVar Burton, and Aaron Rodgers took turns guest-hosting "Jeopardy!"

"Jeopardy!" executive producer Mike Richards was named the new host of "Jeopardy!" in August 2021 but resigned shortly afterward when a series of controversies surfaced about his past conduct.

The hosting gig was then shared by Ken Jennings, who holds the show's record for the most consecutive games won and highest winnings during regular-season play, and "Big Bang Theory" actress Mayim Bialik until May 2023, when Jennings became the sole permanent host.

"Let's be totally clear: no one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek. But we can honor him by playing the game he loved," Jennings said during his first episode as guest host.

When Fleming hosted the show, the category amounts ranged from $10 to $50.

"Jeopardy!" creator Merv Griffin and Art Fleming.
"Jeopardy!" creator Merv Griffin and Art Fleming.NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

The amounts were then raised to range from $25 to $125.

When Trebek took over hosting in 1984, the amounts ranged from $100 to $500.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dana Perino speak during a rehearsal before a taping of Jeopardy! Power Players Week at DAR Constitution Hall on April 21, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Jeopardy! Power Players Week in 2012.Kris Connor/Getty

They were eventually raised to the current $200 to $1,000 range (and $400 to $2,000 in the Double Jeopardy round) in 2001.

"Wheel of Fortune" began airing in 1975.

Pat Sajak with "Wheel of Fortune" contestants.
Pat Sajak with "Wheel of Fortune" contestants.Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank

"Wheel of Fortune" was also created by Griffin, who imagined it as a cross between hangman and roulette.

It's now the longest-running syndicated game show on American television.

"Wheel of Fortune" in 2007.
"Wheel of Fortune" in 2007.Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

The show aired its 8,000th episode in May 2024. The cost to buy a vowel has remained $250 throughout the show with no adjustments for inflation, E! News reported.

Pat Sajak began hosting "Wheel of Fortune" in 1981, and Vanna White joined in 1982.

Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
Pat Sajak and Vanna White.Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

As host of the show, Sajak interacts with contestants and shares whether they've guessed puzzles correctly, while White operates the board and reveals letters.

Sajak, who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career as a game show host for the same show, announced his retirement after 41 seasons.

Pat Sajak and Vanna White receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019.
Pat Sajak and Vanna White received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019.Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage/Getty Images

Ryan Seacrest will take over as the host of "Wheel of Fortune" in the fall.

Sajak shared an emotional goodbye message on his final episode as host in June, describing "Wheel of Fortune" as a place "where kids learned their letters, where people from other countries honed their English skills, where families came together along with friends and neighbors and entire generations."

"What an honor to have played even a small part in all that," he said. "Thank you for allowing me into your lives."

Bill Cullen was the first host of "The Price Is Right," holding the role from 1956 to 1965.

Bill Cullen hosts "The Price Is Right" in 1960.
Bill Cullen hosts "The Price Is Right" in 1960.Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The show was created by producer Bob Stewart, who got the idea from watching people guess how much furniture in a display window cost, The Independent reported.

Bob Barker hosted a revamped version of the show beginning in 1972.

Bob Barker with a contestant in 1978.
Bob Barker with a contestant in 1978.CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

The format of the show changed from the previous iteration of the show — instead of contestants winning the items they correctly guessed the prices of, winners received the opportunity to play another pricing game.

After 35 years, Drew Carey took over the show from Barker and continues to host today.

Drew Carey hosts "The Price Is Right" in 2019.
Drew Carey hosts "The Price Is Right" in 2019.Greg Gayne/CBS via Getty Images

The show's 9,000th episode aired in 2019, according to IMDB.

Producer Michael Davies brought the British game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" to the US in 1999, with Regis Philbin as host.

"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" in 1999.
"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."Maria Melin/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

The American version of the show began as a two-week special on ABC, but it was such a hit that it began airing regularly in prime time, CNN reported. "Is that your final answer?" became part of the American lexicon.

Meredith Vieira took over as host in 2002 and held the position until 2013.

Meredith Vieira hosts "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."
Meredith Vieira hosts "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."Heidi Gutman/Disney-Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

During her tenure, the show's format underwent several changes, including imposing time limits on answering questions and mixing the questions' levels of difficulty out of a set order. Vieira and the contestants also began standing for the duration of the show and looking at a larger screen instead of sitting in front of individual computers.

From 2013 to 2019, the show cycled through several hosts, including Cedric the Entertainer, Terry Crews, and Chris Harrison.

Terry Crews hosts "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."
Terry Crews hosts "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."ABC

The show was canceled in 2019, CNN reported, but it didn't stay canceled for long.

Jimmy Kimmel now hosts a new version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" with celebrity guests who compete for charity.

who wants to be a millionaire
Anderson Cooper on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."Eric McCandless via Getty Images

The new version of the show, which began airing in April 2020, had no studio audience due to the coronavirus pandemic. The studio audience returned in 2022.

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