Alex Trebek’s final goodbye is here.
The last new “Jeopardy!” episodes featuring the game show’s longtime host will air from Jan. 4 to 8. At the start of Monday’s episode, fans will see Trebek — who died Nov. 8 at age 80 following a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer — as he “delivers a powerful message about the season of giving,” according to a statement from Sony Pictures Television.
The beloved host — who on Oct. 29 made his final visit to Sony’s Studio 10 in Culver City, California — will also be remembered in Trebek’s final show on Friday, which will include a “special tribute” to his life and work, as well as the “skill, style and sophistication” he presented to viewers over 37 seasons, added the production company.
On Thanksgiving, the show’s Twitter account posthumously shared a video of Trebek offering a holiday welcome. “You know, in spite of what America and the rest of the world is experiencing right now, there are many reasons to be thankful,” he said, acknowledging the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “There are more and more people extending helpful hands to do a kindness to their neighbors, and that’s a good thing.”
The show’s Emmy-winning executive producer, Mike Richards — a game show veteran who joined the show earlier this year, replacing retiring longtime showrunner Harry Friedman — recently remembered Trebek’s dedication to his craft, even as he faced the possibility of death.
“I talked to him seven days before what would end up being his final taping session, and I said, ‘Alex, you’re barely up and around. We have a long way to go before you’re gonna be back in the studio taping,”’ Richards told Entertainment Weekly. “He got very firm, which I loved, and he goes, ‘I’ll be there. Don’t you cancel anything.’ And sure as heck, he was. He was a warrior.”
Richards said that the remaining five episodes were shot in just two days, despite Trebek’s ailing health. “You’ll watch them and you’ll go, ‘This guy’s as healthy as could be. This is not a sick person at all,’” he said, relating an anecdote about shooting his last show.
“On the second day of taping, what would end up being his final taping and the final time he was in the studio, I went to the door where [he exited] and said, ‘Hey, that was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.’ And he did not like to be complimented,” Richards told EW. “That was kind of staring down the mouth of a great white when you’d do that, because he really didn’t like that. But I had to say it, because it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen. And he was exhausted, obviously, and he looks up and he goes, ‘Thank you.’ He knew what he had done and appreciated the fact that we all knew what he had done.”
Richards added that the last two taping days were “very special, and I’ll never forget them.”
Production on new episodes of “Jeopardy!” started on Nov. 30 and will begin airing Monday, Jan. 11, with the show’s “Greatest of All Time” winner, 46-year-old Ken Jennings, among the short-term fill-ins. No permanent replacement host has been named, though many names have been floated as possibilities, including Jennings, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos, “Golden Girl” Betty White, hockey announcer Alex Faust and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
“Jeopardy!” airs at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday on WABC-TV 7 in New York. Check local listings for other times and networks.