What is next for ‘Jeopardy!’ after the death of Alex Trebek?

The death of Alex Trebek from pancreatic cancer Sunday leaves many questions about the future of Jeopardy!, the game show he hosted for 36 years.

News broke over the weekend that the beloved Canadian-born star died, less than two years after his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, at age 80. Having long ago already won over his viewership, admiration for him only grew as he candidly shared his cancer journey.

Earlier this year, Trebek said, “I don’t foresee” retiring from the show — and he never did. His final day in the Culver City, Calif., studio was Oct. 29 — just 10 days before he died. The show said in a statement that his final episode airs on Dec. 25.

As for a possible replacement, “The show is not announcing plans for a new host at this time,” the statement said.

One person being speculated on as possible Trebek’s successor is Ken Jennings, who holds the record for 74 straight wins on the show.

Jennings posted a sweet tribute to Trebek, saying he’s “grateful for every minute I got to spend with him.” He also called him a “deeply decent man.”

In July, Trebek joked about his possible successor, saying it should be Betty White, who turns 99 in January. He was signed to host the show through the 2021-2022 season.

On Monday, Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards appeared on the Today show and spoke about Trebek’s last day on the set.

“I knew he was in an enormous amount of pain, and as he was leaving, I saw him at the door and I said, ‘You know, that was maybe the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,’” he recalled. “He kind of had his head down and he looked up and said, ‘Well, thank you.’ And that, you knew, when he accepted that, that he was really fighting and it was just so important for him to do this show and to support everything that it means to America.”

Richards revealed that Trebek spent his weekend surrounded by family and friends. He had been married to wife Jean since 1990 and they had two adult children, Emily, who is a real estate developer in L.A., and Matthew, the owner of Harlem, N.Y. restaurants Oso and Lucille’s.

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Alex Trebek through the years

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TO TELL THE TRUTH

Pictured: Host Alex Trebek

(Photo by Joey Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

HIGH ROLLERS

Pictured: Host Alex Trebek

(Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

CLASSIC CONCENTRATION — Season 2

Pictured: Co-host Marjorie Goodson, host Alex Trebek

(Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

HIGH ROLLERS

Pictured: Host Alex Trebek, dice girl Ruta Lee

(Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

CLASSIC CONCENTRATION — Season 2

Pictured: Co-host Marjorie Goodson, host Alex Trebek

(Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

CHEERS — ‘What is… Cliff Clavin?’ Episode 14

Pictured: John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin, Alex Trebek as Himself

(Kim Gottlieb-Walker/NBCU Photo Bank)

HIGH ROLLERS

Pictured: Host Alex Trebek

(Photo by Ron Tom/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 01: Zsa Zsa Gabor and Alex Trebek (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Game Show Host Alex Trebek and actress Beverly Sassoon attending ‘Scott Newman Benefit Dinner’ on November 8, 1985 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Alex Trebek, circa 1984. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)

CLASSIC CONCENTRATION — Season 2 — Pictured: Host Alex Trebek (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Alex Trebek attends Third Annual Franciscan Games on September 30, 1989 at Forest Hills Stadium in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

CHEERS — ‘What is… Cliff Clavin?’ Episode 14

 Air Date 01/18/1990

Pictured: Alex Trebek as Himself, John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin

(Kim Gottlieb-Walker/NBCU Photo Bank)

Canadian American television star Alex Trebek has been the host of the syndicated game show Jeopardy! since 1984.

(Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Host of ‘Jeopardy!’ Alex Trebek attends a press conference to discuss the upcoming Man V. Machine ‘Jeopardy!’ competition at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center on January 13, 2011 in Yorktown Heights, New York.

(Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images)

Alex Trebek hosts the 2012 National Geographic Bee Championship Round at the National Geographic Society on May 24, 2012 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

“BIG FAN” 

 Three football buffs step up to challenge Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, and special guest Alex Trebek stops by to give host Andy Richter a few pointers.

(Nicole Wilder/ABC via Getty Images) 

Alex Trebek speaks during a rehearsal before a taping of Jeopardy! Power Players Week at DAR Constitution Hall on April 21, 2012 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Alex Trebek attends the ”SNL 40th Anniversary Special’ at Rockfeller Plaza in New York City. 

(Photo by Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images)

TV game show host Alex Trebek is interviewed at the ‘Jeopardy!’ Hall of Fame Sony Pictures Studios tour ribbon cutting ceremony at Sony Pictures Studios on September 20, 2011 in Culver City, California.

(Photo by Beck Starr/WireImage)

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 20: ‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek attends the 2016 USO Gala on October 20, 2016 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

TO TELL THE TRUTH – Ashley Graham, Jenna Elfman, Donald Faison and Alex Trebek make up the celebrity panel on ‘To Tell the Truth,’ Episode 310, airing SUNDAY, JULY 1 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Lisa Rose/ABC via Getty Images)
ALEX TREBEK

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: TV personality Alex Trebek attends the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation at the Official Residence of Canada on June 30, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 09: ‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek speaks as he is inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame during the NAB Achievement in Broadcasting Dinner at the Encore Las Vegas on April 9, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NAB Show, the trade show of the National Association of Broadcasters and the world’s largest electronic media show, runs through April 12 and features more than 1,700 exhibitors and 102,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 19: Alex Trebek attends ‘Who is Alex Trebek? Celebrating 35 seasons of Jeopardy!’ at 92nd Street Y on February 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 19: “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek presents the Hart Memorial Trophy during the 2019 NHL Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – MAY 05: Alex Trebek, winner of the Outstanding Game Show Host award, poses at the 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards – Press Room at Pasadena Civic Center on May 05, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – MAY 05: Alex Trebek accepts the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host onstageduring the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Center on May 05, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

GOOD MORNING AMERICA – Alex Trebek discusses his cancer diagnosis with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Wednesday, May 1, airing on the Walt Disney Television Network.
(Photo by Paula Lobo/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
ALEX TREBEK

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 13: Special Guest Alex Trebek attends the screening of ‘Wuthering Heights’ at the 2019 TCM 10th Annual Classic Film Festival on April 13, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for TCM)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 19: Alex Trebek attends ‘Who is Alex Trebek? Celebrating 35 seasons of Jeopardy!’ at 92nd Street Y on February 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)




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“He had a swing in his backyard that he loved. He actually rebuilt it earlier this year. He was very handy. I don’t know if a lot of people know that,” Richards said on Today. “And even in his book,” The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life, which came out in July, “he described that he wanted his final day to be sitting on his swing next to his wife, Jean, and kind of watching the horizon. And he got to do that.”

Richards added, “He was coherent. He wasn’t in pain, and the fact that he had a nice final day, I think makes all of us in the Jeopardy! family feel much better.”

Trebek’s death was announced by Jeopardy on Sunday.

Sony Pictures Television also paid tribute.

In the statement from the show, Richards called Trebek’s death “an enormous loss for the Jeopardy! staff, crew and all of Alex’s millions of fans. He 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. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen. His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever.”

Trebek’s edition of the show debuted on Sept. 10, 1984. The original incarnation aired from 1964 to 1975. There were also weekly nighttime syndicated edition (1974 – 1975) and a revival, The All-New Jeopardy! (1978 – 1979). The three earlier versions were all hosted by Art Fleming, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1995.

Tributes to Trebek have flowed in from Hollywood, including his peers at Wheel of Fortune.

In a statement, Pat Sajak called Trebek’s death “a tremendous loss for his family, his friends, his co-workers and the millions of viewers who followed his long and illustrious career. It was an honor for me to be a part of his professional family for nearly 40 years. His strength and courage and grace during his recent health struggles inspired countless others. Alex was truly one of a kind.”

Vanna White said in her own statement, “I will cherish the many memories I have shared with Alex Trebek that date back well before either of our careers took off. I will always be in awe of the way he faced the battle he fought so valiantly and I’m devastated to lose my longtime friend. My heart is with his family, friends, co-workers and fans. There will never be another Alex Trebek and he will truly be missed.”

Many other stars have shared stories about and tributes to the TV icon:

 

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