If you regularly tune into Jeopardy!, then you might have noticed some of the latest Final Jeopardy clues have been so obscure that not a single contestant could guess them right. Some fans believe that the show is purposefully making that final clue harder to guess. Let’s take a closer look at these dreaded triple stumpers.
If you’re a fan of Jeopardy!, then you know that the Final Jeopardy round is often the most difficult. That’s why contestants are given 30 seconds to write out their answers and wager their bets. If every contestant guesses correctly, that’s usually a sign that the clue was a bit too easy. However, what does it mean when no contestant gets it right? Does that mean the clue was too obscure? That’s the question plenty of fans are asking after the last month of broadcasts.
Final Jeopardy Is Striking Out Contestants
On October 4, Super Champion Cris Pannullo took victory for the third time in a row. However, despite possessing a staggering 94% correct response rating, he wasn’t able to guess the Final Jeopardy clue. The October 4 prompt read: “Like the T-U-V in Tuvalu, this landlocked country has 3 consecutive letters in its English name in alphabetic sequence.”
Now, to guess this clue correctly, you’d have to sort through a list of landlocked Asian countries, checking if they have the sequential letters that the clue hinted at. While Jeopardy! undoubtedly attracts some sharp minds, it would be quite the feat to accomplish that in 30 seconds. Unsurprisingly, not a single contestant guessed the correct answer—Afghanistan—leading many fans to claim it was just too obscure.
They Only Got More Difficult
In Pannullo’s eleventh game, it happened again. On Friday, October 14, the Final Jeopardy clue read, “Featuring a statue of a man escaping his grave, his tomb in Amiens contrasts with the title of his 1864 adventure novel.” Once again, the contestants failed to guess French author Jules Verne.
Just two broadcasts later, this time during the Second Chance Tournament, the contestants failed to correctly guess what cloned plants grow outside the math faculty building at Cambridge University and in the President’s Garden at M.I.T. That plant, by the way, is an apple tree as a nod to Sir Isaac Newton.
That Friday, competitors failed to correctly answer, “This character from an 1859 novel symbolizes the Fates, who in mythology spin the web of life, measure it and cut it off.” One contestant didn’t even have a guess, and it turned out to be a somewhat obscure Charles Dickens character—Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities.
Exactly one week later, the contestants were stumped by a brutal clue about a famous artist. “Sabena Airlines commissioned a painting by this artist, ‘L’Oiseau de Ciel,’ a bird whose body is filled with clouds in a blue sky.” Given most people’s lack of familiarity with random airlines’ painting collections, no one correctly guessed Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte.
Finally, on Tuesday, the Tournament of Champions competitors didn’t have a clue who published “Battle of Lovell’s Pond” in the Portland Gazette in 1820 when they were only 13 years old. It was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
What’s Going On With Final Jeopardy?
So, what do all of these triple-stumpers mean? Some fans have noticed that most of them happen on Fridays, so clue-writers could be saving their hardest questions for the end of the week. Of course, you could easily dismiss some of these as tournament questions, meaning they’re expected to be of a higher caliber. However, that still doesn’t apply to all of them.
What do you think? Are the Final Jeopardy clues getting too esoteric? Or were you able to guess them correctly? Either way, with the Tournament of Champions heating up, don’t expect these hardballs to stop flying!