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7 Wildest Reactions to Controversial "Jeopardy!" Clues

“I hate this final.”

Fairly or not, Jeopardy! has a reputation for being one of our last televised bastions of intellectualism and decorum. Everyone is so smart and serious when something goes a bit off-kilter, like when someone gives a truly bizarre or off-color answer, it tends to stick in the mind. And on the rare occasion when the show's question-writers out-and-out seem to get something wrong, offering up an ambiguous clue or a questionably correct "correct" answer, it can cause a mild furor among fans. Here are seven reactions to the controversial Jeopardy! clues. 

A June Episode Controversy


A June episode set off what's perhaps the latest furor about a controversial clue. For Final Jeopardy!, the category was "World of Water." The clue: "The Bass Strait divides Tasmania & mainland Australia & hydrographers have disputed which of these two larger bodies it's part of." Two contestants gave the "correct" answer: "What are the Indian & Pacific Oceans?" A number of viewers disagreed. "I'm going to open by saying that I hate this Final," a recapper wrote on "Even depending on whether or not you're in Australia, there may be many possible answers to this one." Several commenters on Reddit thought the clue was too easy.

Writers Accused of "Making Things Up"


Remarkably, that same episode sparked another controversy with the Daily Double clue: "In 2022, getting a chance to see Taylor Swift in concert was the definition of this challenging phrase." The contestants were stumped, and host Mayim Bialik gave the "correct" answer: "What is a tough ticket?" Social media did not approve; several commenters claimed that was not and has never been a well-known phrase. "I've just made something up in my head and now you have to guess what I'm thinking' is a terrible format for a Jeopardy clue,'" one viewer scoffed.

Fans Stir Up Biblical Controversy

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In November 2022, a Final Jeopardy! clue during the show's "Tournament of Champions" left fans "confused and more than a little miffed," CNN reported. Under the category of the New Testament, the clue was: "Paul's letter to them is the New Testament epistle with the most Old Testament quotations." Amy Schneider answered, "Who are the Hebrews," which was deemed correct by host Ken Jennings. The problem here: The true answer is controversial even among Biblical scholars. Another contestant guessed "Romans," which some viewers felt was the correct answer. "The challenge: Hebrews has the most OT quotes of any NT letter; it was historically attributed to Paul; but today most argue he didn't write it based mainly on internal evidence," a theology professor tweeted. "(Romans is right if Paul didn't write Hebrews)," he added.

"Distasteful" Way to Get to Alligators


Also, in November 2022, Celebrity Jeopardy! got into hot water for including a clue about the 2021 death of Instagrammer Gabby Petito, whose boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, confessed to her murder before committing suicide. The clue: "In 2021 fugitive Brian Laundrie ended his days in FLA's Myakkahatchee Creek area, home to these long & toothy critters," the clue read.  (The answer was "What are alligators?") Some viewers thought the clue was out of line."Y'all couldn't have gotten to alligator AAAAAANY other way???" one fan tweeted. An attorney for the Laundrie family even demanded an apology from the show, calling the question "distasteful."

A Mythological Reversal


On one episode last May, an ambiguous question forced a rare mid-game correction. The category was "Mythology." The clue: "This God of love hid psyche & visited in secret until she found out who he was." Contestant Paul Guelpa guessed "Eros," which host Mayim Bialik pronounced wrong. Next, Amanda Hendrickson guessed "Cupid," which was deemed correct. But after the show returned from commercial break, Bialik told Guelpa, "The judges have reviewed your response of Eros and decided it's also correct," saying they were "going to add $800 to your score." Viewers tore into the show for the vaguely worded clue. "I feel like anytime an answer is a Greek or Roman mythological figure, they need to either carefully word it so that it only refers to one or the other, or know beforehand whether two names work as answers. It seems like a foreseeable issue," was the top-upvoted comment on the Jeopardy! Subreddit. "Not anticipating that Eros would work as an answer seems like a lack of foresight."

A Heated Question of Pronunciation


On June 1, contestant Jared Watson gave a controversial "correct" answer in the "Sweet Spots" category. The clue: "Founded in Paris, Laduree offers these filled cookies in a rainbow of colors and flavors, including orange blossom," she said. "What are macaroons," Watson guessed. Host Mayim Bialik judged this correct, adding the answer could also be pronounced macaron, with a French accent. Some viewers couldn't digest that call, with several pointing out on social media that although macaroons and macarons are both French, they're different types of cookies. Others were irked by the irony that the show's defending champion lost his crown on that episode for referring to a Shakespearean character as "Benedict," not "Benedick." "If macaroon = macaron, then Benedict can = Benedick. #notthesamething #jeopardy 😒," one fan tweeted.

Contestants Missing "Easy" Answers


But the show's producers and writers aren't the only subjects of fans' ire. In recent weeks, the contestants themselves have come in for criticism—for the sin of missing too many "easy" answers. During the week of July 15, viewers took to Twitter and Reddit to express their frustration with the three contestants missing questions during every single round of the game. "Whoa! What was up with the folks on #Jeopardy tonight?" one viewer tweeted. "For people of that caliber, those were some pretty basic questions that no one was getting." Said another: "Holy s–t! I keep saying the Final #Jeopardy clues keep getting easier, but today's takes the cake. So easy. However, two of the three contestants either misread or misunderstood the clue and didn't get the answer right. Everyone involved at @Jeopardy should be ashamed." One viewer claimed they could sense host Ken Jennings' frustration at all the whiffs.

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