‘Jeopardy’ vs. ‘Wheel of Fortune’: Which Has Been on the Air Longer?

Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune have defined the American game show for decades. Airing one right after the next, they comprise the one-two punch viewers welcome with open arms (and open hearts). Alex Trebek — from his cleverness to his endearing conversational disposition — is one of the most famed game show hosts of all time. Though most known for Jeopardy, he has also worked on a handful of other game shows, including but not limited to The Wizard of Odds, Concentration, High Rollers, Double Dare, and more.

Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune
Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune | M. Phillips/WireImage

Pat Sajak is right up there with Trebek — when it comes to worldwide recognition — hosting Wheel of Fortune alongside Vanna White. While one show is about trivia, and the other is more of an elaborate take on Hangman, which show has been on the air longer? Though both shows continue to stand the test of time, which one paved the way? 

‘Jeopardy’ first aired in 1964 

The first episode of Jeopardy aired on March 30 in 1964; it was the original daytime version of the show, yet still the first episode. This version ran until January 3, 1975. From 1974 to 1975, a nighttime syndicated version of the show also aired. 

The All-New Jeopardy later ran on NBC from October of 1978 to March of 1979. In short, Jeopardy has seen a lot of iterations and minor transformations throughout the years. Trebek joined Jeopardy in 1984 and has served as the Dad of game shows ever since. 

Though Alex Trebek is intimately connected to the hosting position, he is not the only one tied to Jeopardy. The show was once hosted by Art Fleming, who ran the show before Trebek came in to take his place. Fleming was an American actor who appeared in Airplane II: The Sequel, The Californians, A Hatful of Rain, and more. John Harlan also served as his announcer for the 1978-1979 season. Harlan is also known for his work on the hit game show Password, as well as Name That Tune and American Gladiators. 

Today, and for the last several years, Alex Trebek serves as host and Johnny Gilbert is the announcer. Gilbert has also been attached to Pyramid, Fast Draw, and Beat the Odds. 

The first episode of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ aired in 1975 

Wheel of Fortune premiered on January 6 in 1975; thus, Jeopardy has been around much longer, with slightly over a decade on its greatest competition. Yet, surprisingly enough, the show came from the same mind behind Jeopardy — Merv Griffin. In short, Griffin is a game show genius. 

Though Pat Sajak is known for hosting the show today, Chuck Woolery hosted the pilot — an episode that turned out to be quite different from the actual show. Woolery has also been attached to The Dating Game, Love Connection, and Lingo. Woolery hosted for a bit, yet Sajak — the then weatherman — took over in 1982, and the rest is, as they say, history.