Skip to main content

Every post-Trebek 'Jeopardy!' guest host, ranked

The empty stage of the "Jeopardy!" game show.
(Image credit: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Nobody can replace Alex Trebek. The legend hosted Jeopardy! from 1984 until his death in 2020, and it simply can't be done. It won't be done. And, frankly, nobody's trying.

But the show must go on. And in January 2021, just a couple months after Trebek died from pancreatic cancer, the first round of guest hosts began. This isn't just ratings. It's also about honor Trebek — and it's about raising money for charity. Jeopardy! is matching the cumulative total of the contestants and donating to the charity of the host's choice. As of April 16, more than $735,000 had been donated from the weeks of Katie Couric, Dr. Oz, and Aaron Rodgers. (Ken Jennings and Mike Richards, who opened the guest hosting, are Jeopardy! employees.)

We've now had six guests hosts. And because this is the internet, we have to rank them. We'll add to this list as new hosts take the reins. 

The syndicated Jeopardy! is on different times and channels, depending on where you live. You can find your local channel and time here.

And here's who's left to come in the guest host round, which will continue through mid-August.

  • Bill Whitaker: May 3-14
  • Mayim Bialik, May 31-June 11
  • Savannah Guthrie, June 14-June 25
  • Sanjay Gupta: June 28-July 9
  • George Stephanopoulos: July 12-16
  • Robin Roberts: July 19-July 23
  • LeVar Burton: July 26-July 30
  • David Faber: Aug. 2-6
  • Joe Buck: Aug. 9-13

And with that, the best post-Trebek Jeopardy! guest hosts, ranked:

1. Anderson Cooper, journalist

Those of us of a certain age and nighttime persuasion may remember back when Anderson Cooper was helming the overnight desk for ABC News, sometime around 2 or 3 a.m., depending on your time zone. Today, he's best known for being a badass journalist. A father. (And a Vanderbilt, too, lest we forget.) 

And as you'll see in our other entries, time spent talking on TV will prove to be extremely beneficial in the battle for Jeopardy! guest host supremacy, as Cooper easily has been the best out of the first half-dozen guests. He's got just the right amount of swagger. He's got just the right amount of humility. And he's got the perfectly grayed hair.

He's also been giving folks the facts for decades. That's why he's a natural here. Cooper's run took him through April 30 and raised more than $138,000 for Justice Defenders, which helps provide legal defense to those who need it most in African nations.

2. Bill Whitaker, journalist

We're into our second week with Bill Whitaker of the helm of his run on Jeopardy, and he's definitely gotten a bit better — more than enough to maintain the No. 2 spot in our list of the best post-Trebek guest hosts. The longtime 60 Minutes corespondent has been a huge Jeopardy! fan, and it shows. Maybe not always in the best way possible — he's a tad stiff and definitely was still getting her bearings in his first outing, but you can see it's there. Not just passion for being on TV, but passion for the game itself.

Whitaker's delivery is still a little more straight-laced than Cooper's, and that's not all that surprising. They're both TV journalists, but on very different shows. So that's not a knock, per se — but it does affect the delivery. 

Whitaker's good. Really good. Cooper's just a little better.

3. Dr. Mehmet Oz, TV doctor

You've got to admit it. Even critics of "Dr. Oz" — whose appearances on television all too often struggled with the science and medicine parts of being a doctor — thought he did a pretty darn good job as Jeopardy! host. And why not? He's a really good TV host. And since all the questions and answers were there and laid out by someone else, there probably wasn't too much room for him to get out over his skis.

You'd expect someone with 10 Daytime Emmy Award to be able to hold his own on a TV show, and Oz did so with his two-week run.

That doesn't change the fact that dude is problematic AF.

4. Mike Richards, executive producer for 'Jeopardy!' and Wheel of Fortune

Mike Richards was the second guest host, and has been a longtime producer of TV game shows, also serving on The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal. He's earned 17 Emmy nominations and won three for his work. He's also hosted five series — a pair of reality shows (including Beauty and the Geek), a news program and two game shows, including the Game Show Network's Pyramid.

And it showed. Richards was a welcome change from the opening of the Year of Guest Hosts, Ken Jennings. He brought some personality and dynamics that otherwise had been missing from the opening seven weeks.

5. Katie Couric, journalist and author

Katie Couric has seen it all. She's been there. Done that. Interviewed everyone. And a Jeopardy! spot just sort of made sense. "Of course she'll be great! She's Katie Couric!"

And she was just ... OK. Nothing particularly wrong with her performance, but it felt like just that — a performance. She was reading what she was there to read, and speeding her way through it. 

That's a bit of a knock, sure. But you also have to believe that the opportunity to host meant something a little more to Couric, who lost husband Jay Monahan to cancer in 1998, when he was just 42.

6. Aaron Rodgers, future NFL Hall of Famer

Aaron Rodgers was one of the guest hosts everyone was eager to see — in no small part because he was extremely eager to have the gig. And not just because he's a big Jeopardy! nerd, but because of all the money his appearance was going to raise for charity. And Rodgers was extremely generous in giving thanks to everyone who helped make it happen. In the end, more than $236,000 was raised. 

"As a lifelong fan of Jeopardy! it is an incredible honor to guest host," Rodgers in his first episode. "Now, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of amazing things, but winning Celebrity Jeopardy! and getting to share the stage with the legend Alex Trebek is something I will never forget."

Unfortunately, earnestness and eagerness only gets you so far. Once the novelty of Rodgers wore off, and you take a real look at his performance on the show, it was more flat than a pass at Lambeau Field in minus-20-degree weather and 50-mph winds. It just didn't gel. He didn't leave it all out of the field. Pick your sports cliche.

And the Packers still shouldn't have kicked that field goal.

See more

7. Ken Jennings, former Jeopardy! champion

Ken Jennings is famous for having the longest winning streak in the show's history, with 74 straight wins for $2.52 million, and infamous for having an occasionally problematic Twitter feed

He was an obvious choice for the first guest host after Trebek's death, and has worked for Jeopardy! as a segment producer since 2020. 

But his on-screen presence was pretty milquetoast. Though, to be fair, Jennings was in an impossible position, and it undoubtedly was an emotional one for him personally, never mind professionally. (And certainly never mind that hosting Jeopardy! is no small feat.)

Jennings had really big shoes to fill, but things are completely different when you're the one giving the answers.