The Best (& Worst) 'Jeopardy!' Celebrity Guest Host Show Moments

Several stars, including Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, Robin Roberts and LeVar Burton were asked to fill in as Jeopardy! guest hosts in 2021. With the newly announced host stepping down, could one of these celebs be stepping in?

01 of 11

Mayim Bialik: An Ode to Academia

Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik. Mayim Bialik/Instagram

Actress Mayim Bialik, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA, said it was an "immense honor" to host from May 31 to June 11. "Especially for someone who's dedicated so much of my life to academia to knowing things and to being able to communicate things," she added.

"Being a woman of science, as I am, is something that I'm obviously very passionate about presenting myself as," she explained. "I really didn't grow up with a lot of female role models and I think especially for young people — not just young girls, but for young girls and boys — to see that women can be scientists and can do these types of intellectual things, that feels very important to me."

In August, Bialik was announced as a host of Jeopardy! spin-off series, with the show's producer Mike Richards stepping into Alex Trebek's shoes. However, on Aug. 20, after past offensive comments he'd made about women and other marginalized groups came to light, Richards stepped down, leaving the podium again open.

02 of 11

Katie Couric: First Female Guest Host

Katie Couric
Katie Couric. Jeopardy/Instagram

Following the death of beloved host Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings stepped in as the first guest host for six weeks, followed by Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards. The show then announced that several celebrities would join to guest host, starting with veteran journalist Katie Couric.

Couric took on her duties from March 8 to 19, making her the first female guest to ever host the show.

"I love that I'm the first woman!" Couric told PEOPLE in March. "They framed a little thing for me after I was on. It says, 'What iconic journalist and Stand Up to Cancer founder is the first female guest host of Jeopardy!?' And then it says, 'Who is Katie Couric?' "

During her time as host, the contestants' cumulative winnings went to Stand Up to Cancer, an organization Couric co-founded in 2008 that "funds and develops the newest and most promising cancer treatments to help patients today," according to its website. Couric's first husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998.

03 of 11

Dr. Mehmet Oz: Spurring #BoycottJeopardy

Dr. Oz hosts Jeopardy

Dr. Mehmet Oz hosted from March 22 to April 2, but fans and former contestants were not happy about it. After the casting was announced, a group of former contestants published a letter on Medium to say that Oz's casting stood "in opposition to everything Jeopardy! stands for" and would celebrate "talking head[s] at the expense of academic rigor and consensus." (A rep for Oz did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.)

The letter called into question several of Oz's past medical opinions, which he has shared on his own program, The Dr. Oz Show. The backlash, however, was not enough to keep him from his duties.

Oz began his gig with a tribute to Trebek, while fans took to social media to say they were going to #BoycottJeopardy. (The show did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.)

"Our family are loyal jeopardy fans HOWEVER, we will #BoycottJeopardy while Dr. Oz is the guest host," a fan wrote.

Another quipped, "what is a horrible mistake."

04 of 11

Aaron Rodgers: Seeing a Ratings Spike

Aaron Rodgers hosting Jeopardy
Jeopardy Productions Inc.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called his time on the show an "honor of a lifetime." He was on from April 5 to 16, and fiancée Shailene Woodley rooted for her soon-to-be husband while watching from home.

Rodgers also brought in a 14 percent ratings boost, and had the best ratings performance in a month, following Dr. Oz and Katie Couric's episodes.

05 of 11

Anderson Cooper: Man with the Cutest Fan

anderson cooper
Wyatt Cooper. anderson cooper/instagram

CNN anchor and two-time Celebrity Jeopardy! champion Anderson Cooper had a special little fan watch him for a segment during his hosting duties from April 19 to 30. Anderson posted a photo on Instagram of his son Wyatt, 1, sitting on a bed, looking at his dad on the TV screen intently.

"Wyatt has never watched tv before, and he wont again for a long time, but apparently he caught a bit of me on @Jeopardy!" Cooper captioned the photo.

"It was a dream come true to be guest hosting, and to pay tribute to #AlexTrebek and raise money for @hashaiti."

During his time, Cooper raised $118,000 for Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, an organization that helps residents of Haiti's Artibonite Valley get the medical care they need.

06 of 11

Bill Whitaker: A 'Pinch Myself' Moment

Bill Whitaker Jeopardy
Jeopardy Instagram

60 Minutes' Bill Whitaker described his experience as "quite surreal," during an interview with The Washington Post. He also said that there were a "couple of times I had to pinch myself to say, 'Oh my gosh! Look where I am. This is crazy'. It looks just like it looks on television," before revealing a few behind-the-scenes tidbits.

"I work in television news, which is a totally different animal," he told the outlet. "I'm used to talking to one camera."

"Here, you had, I think, four cameras — one swoops in from the side, you talk to that one at the end of one commercial, and then swoops to another one you have to talk to after a commercial, and then the contestants are over on the other side," he added. "The thing that I was most surprised about was just how fast-paced it is."

07 of 11

Savannah Guthrie: 'Relieved Anchors, for 1,000'

Savannah Guthrie

In order to prepare for her guest spot, the Today anchor revealed on her show that she "watched a lot of Jeopardy!" and "made little notes and practiced my pronunciation" to make sure she nailed her duties before her episodes start to air on June 14 through the 25th.

Guthrie's whirlwind experience included taping 10 episodes with 10 outfit changes in just two days.

"I'll take 'Relieved Anchors,' for 1,000," she joked to Today after taping her first episode. "The first game is done, only nine more to go. They haven't kicked me out yet."

08 of 11

George Stephanopoulos: 'Harder Than It Looks'

George Stephanopoulos

The seasoned journalist has seen it all, but George Stephanopoulos admitted that hosting the quiz show was a whole new ball game.

"It was so intense, it was so much fun. The crew of Jeopardy! are true professionals, they are amazing at what they do," the Good Morning America anchor said on his show of his hosting duties from July 12 through the 16th.

"This is a lot harder than it looks, I'm just telling you!" Stephanopoulos laughed in a shot from behind the scenes of the game show. "God bless Alex Trebrek and everybody who has been a guest host."

In a word of advice to future Jeopardy! guest hosts, he added: "Don't fumble when reading the clues. Stay focused. Keep things moving," Stephanopoulos said GMA. "And remember what Alex always said – it's about the game."

09 of 11

Robin Roberts: Making History

Robin Roberts

Stepping up to the lectern from July 19th through the 23rd, Robin Roberts made history as the first Black woman ever to host Jeopardy!

"Alex made it look a lot easier – it is not easy!" the Good Morning America anchor joked in a behind the scenes clip from her guest host spot.

Opening up about what she hoped to bring to the program, Roberts teared up as she reflected on the legacy of Alex Trebek in an official Jeopardy! interview.

"Just want to bring a little bit of Alex. Can't be him, no one can be him, but just want to bring a little of the spirit that he brought each and every time he was here in the studio," the former Celebrity Jeopardy! contestant said of the late host's warmth.

10 of 11

LeVar Burton: Hopeful About Hosting

This image provided by Jeopardy Productions, Inc. shows "Jeopardy!" guest host LeVar Burton on the set of the game show
LeVar Burton. Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions

LeVar Burton enjoyed every moment of hosting from July 26 through the 30th, and told The New York Times in June his fingers were crossed he'd be offered the full-time gig.

"It will hurt. I'm not going to lie," Burton said at the time of how he'll feel should it not go his way. "But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It's all going to be OK. Because it always is."

With that being said, the former Rainbow Room host cited his passion for the program as the fuel for his fire.

"I feel like this is what I'm supposed to do," he said of hosting. "I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant."

11 of 11

Joe Buck

Joe Buck , James Holzhauer
Jeopardy/Instagram; Eric McCandless via Getty Images

The Fox Sports sportscaster stepped up to the podium from Aug. 9 through the 13th, but one prominent viewer seized the moment to throw some shade.

"Jeopardy says whoever hosts full time will have to quit their other job, so I'm crossing my fingers it's Joe Buck," James Holzhauer tweeted on Buck's first day hosting. Fans many recall Holzhauer currently stands as the game show's second highest all-time winner, having pocketed $2,462,216 in prize money.

The drama continued a week later, with Buck taking a moment to fire back at the Jeopardy! champ during an Aug. 19 appearance on the SI Media Podcast.

"I wouldn't know James Holzhauer if he was sitting here in my room. I don't know much about him. I know about his success on the show, but I don't know what kind of a guy he is," the broadcaster said. "I couldn't care less. I'm at the point now where I am so overreacting to Twitter."

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