Final Jeopardy may be just one of the countless questions that are posed — time permitting — to contestants during each episode of the popular quiz show, but it is generally the most high-stakes category of the night. For that reason, coming up with each final question is a process unto itself, according to head Jeopardy! writer Billy Wisse.
During an interview with Vulture, Wisse described the Jeopardy! writers room's approach to developing regular questions — which are approved by host Alex Trebek — Daily Doubles and the trivia competition's game-changing conclusions.
We have a separate meeting to go over Final Jeopardy questions. Every few weeks, everyone will bring in their ‘finals’ and we’ll read and critique them. The first thing is to make sure at least one of the other writers can answer it. If that doesn’t happen, then it’s too hard. Like our regular clues, we talk about how it could be worded better or whether we’ve done that fact before. Those go to our executive producer in a separate process before it goes into a game, to make sure he’s okay with them. When we roundtable, that’s when we choose the Daily Doubles and put the Finals on the game. For a Double Double, there’s always an ideal clue on the board we’d like to see. The idea of a Double Double, as with the final question, is something that requires a two-step process. Not just like, 'Do I know that piece of information or not?' But rather, 'Do I maybe know a piece of information that will connect me to the response for that clue?' If you looked at it as a discrete piece of information, you might never know it, but there’s a hint in there that connects it to another better-known fact.
What is, "that's a lot of work," Alex.