Names and characters reflect who was on the show when I began working on this in earnest. This project is not endorsed by Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

My late grandfather instilled curiosity in me. He was a highly intelligent man and a retired stevedore, and Jeopardy! was his daily fixture. I was obsessed with the giant signage on stage, watching from his ‘96 Hitachi big screen. But I rediscovered the show in 2015 and decided to get creative. Following the popularity of my Press Your Luck project, I spent the past eight years off and on—from 2015 to 2023–producing my spin on the popular Ed Flesh “grid set” and the original 1984 theme song.

“Jeopardy!” Theme Song Cover & Set Design (2023)


Created by the late Ed Flesh of Press Your Luck and Wheel of Fortune fame, the grid set is probably the most popular Jeopardy! design to date. I opted to modernize it, taking cues from the show’s entire 60 year history. I found schematics of the Alex Trebek Stage online, stage 10 at Sony Pictures Studios, using my own estimates to see how much space I had—about 67 feet of depth, 65 feet of width and 28 feet of height. I’m not a fan of the current oversized game board, but I kept its specs of 36 42” Sony monitors, later changing it to an LED wall near the end of completion.

A stock photo of an LED panel was used for game board and header, arranged as needed in After Effects and placed in Color channels in Cinema 4D.

Season 37 was airing when I truly began working on this, and I noted the use of tracers and scrolling elements in the intro. I used this concept as the header of the set, swapping solid turquoise signage for an LED wall of champions, categories and nebulae colored to reflect the rounds of the game. I still wanted elements from other sets, though, with much, much credit going to Naomi Slodki. She gave us the iconic “sushi bar” set of the late 1990s, featuring a golden arc in the center of the stage. I replicated this with a gobo of the “?” insignia commonly seen in promotional materials. Going further back in time, I added the transitional yellow-blue/light blue, red/orange palettes from 1984 and 1985.

The original 1980s pilot had a computer theme.

By this point, Alex Trebek had passed away, and COVID hit. For the first time in more than a decade, the show went back to individual lecterns for the contestants (until 2006, the lecterns had the illusion of being separate). Though socially distanced, it was a design feature I missed. So I threw out my original idea and started over, creating lecterns that called back to their early “computer” motif.

Part of good design is symmetry, as well as form following function; that is, you establish a function, then build around that. My two key elements were in place, so now I have a gaping hole to fill countering the game board. As Alex Trebek battled pancreatic cancer, one contestant gave him a touching tribute as his Final Jeopardy! question. I used a space identical to that of the board to place a tribute wall of edge-lit acrylic, arranged in a way that pays homage to the Art Fleming set of the 1960s.

But I still didn’t have a lectern for the host… I sketched a few ideas based off of several lecterns from both the Fleming and Trebek eras, finally settling on one that matches my overall design.

Jeopardy! intros gave great inspiration during this project, and they’ve been of a space theme for the past several seasons. I incorporated this into the background, replacing the unseemly Mylar backdrop with something opaque enough to catch LED wash lighting from below, but sheer enough to show a starfield. Basically I took the current setup of the show and did more with it. I went back to having the backdrop change colors for each round, replicating a starburst from the Jeopardy! logo and extending outward. The stage is crowned by thin LED tracers seen on Wheel of Fortune, acting as comets barreling through space.

People don’t realize that most broadcast sets nowadays are flat—white walls, black monitors, things like that. The magic and depth come from the lighting, so naturally I put a lot of thought to it. Rather than keyframing in Cinema 4D, my light patterns were created in After Effects due to their complexity, set into Luminance and Transparency channels in the final build.

Test patterns were used to map the lighting designs to their respective set pieces.

The every last element, besides stock lighting and cameramen I created for past projects, was the audience. It’s simply a set of black risers like the actual studio, ditching wood facades for metallic. This was when I introduced the colorful lighting that loomed over the stands in early seasons.

Passes of the set and lights were composited in After Effects with lens flares, et voila.

A final composite showing the audience monitors on either side of the studio, as well as the panel of judges and announcer Johnny Gilbert.

“Think!” — THE MUSIC

The Jeopardy! theme song is called “Think!”. Merv Griffin based it on “A Time for Tony,” a lullaby he composed for his son which was later used as prize music on Wheel of Fortune. The Chris Bell theme from 2008 is what roped me back into the show after many years, so I toyed around with my own mixes in 2015 after revisiting past versions online. I gave up on the project for some time, but by 2017 I had gotten new VSTs, rebooting the entire project in 2021. Merv Griffin’s 1984 and 1992 themes match my musical ear, but I also liked the instrumentation and energy of the Steve Kaplan themes from 1997 and 2001, as well as the mood of 2008. With a little elbow grease, I got the sound I needed. A great day at work inspired a nice promo medley with dueling guitars.

“Jeopardy!” Theme Cover Mixes

“Jeopardy!” Theme Cover Drafts