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"Jeopardy!" Producers Admit They've Abandoned Rule Change Fans Called "Obnoxious"

The category name rule change has sparked heated debates on social media.

Jeopardy!'s executive producer Michael Davies will be the first to admit that the game show isn't afraid to rock the boat. Since its 1964 incarnation, producers such as Davies and Sarah Whitcomb Foss have implemented new rules, abolished retirement clauses, and showcased updated logos and title sequences. But an online tirade from Jeopardy! super fans concerning a category name rule change has pressured the show's producers to revisit the regulation altogether.

RELATED: "Jeopardy!" Slammed for "Shameful" Answer Ruling: "One of the Worst Mistakes I've Seen."

In 2023, Jeopardy! established a new rule in which players were required to repeat the entire category name when selecting their clue tile. Previously, contestants were allowed to abbreviate category names. This helped with the show's cadence, especially when lengthier category names, such as "The Lyrical Stylings of Johnny Gilbert" or "During Lou Gehrig's Consecutive Game Streak," were in play.

During an Inside Jeopardy! podcast appearance, Whitcomb Foss explained that tweaking the category name rule was decided after producers "heard viewers are having trouble with where people are going on the game board and couldn't really follow it."

At the time, Whitcomb Foss said the modification wasn't "set in stone." And that is proving to be the case on the currently airing Jeopardy! Invitational Tournament, in which contestants have forgone reciting categories by their full name, as reported by TV Insider. Now, fans are wondering whether the misstep was an act of leniency, or conversely, a sudden change of heart—and if so, why?

On a recent Inside Jeopardy! episode, Davies confirmed that this wasn't an error, but rather a subtle attempt to reverse the controversial rule change, which he acknowledged hasn't been well received.

"I don't think we've made a perfect change," he said on the podcast. "We had briefed the contestants to give full names of categories…and then people have commented on that."

Backlash from fans began pouring in right away and has even sparked heated debates on Reddit. "It's absolutely obnoxious and overkill, especially since they seem to be adding a bunch more categories with long or tongue-twister names," one person wrote in a thread. Another said in agreement, "Reading the entire category title is ponderous, time-consuming, and interrupts the flow of the game."

"I hate it. Apparently it's meant to be for the benefit of the TV audience to help them keep up, given that more contestants tend to bounce around now instead of going straight down each category. But the result is that it awkwardly slows down gameplay, especially since a lot of contestants stumble over their words as they remember they're supposed to say the whole category. It's jarring and distracting," a fan commented.


To fans' excitement, Jeopardy! has seemingly redacted the rule change going forward. "We've obviously gone back. If it's a 12-word category, we're not asking you to repeat all 12 words," Davies confirmed, adding, "It was getting a little informal."

Per TV Insider, one social media user said of the reversal, "I'm glad that these contestants are shortening the titles more. When a category title is long, it's obnoxious to have to hear the entire title stated."

As for whether Jeopardy! will introduce a different variant of the category name rule change, Davies said, "[It's] something we're continuing to look at."

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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