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A device employed by writers to demonstrate that a character is particularly intelligent or knowledgeable. A character (often the TV Genius) will be shown watching a game show on television and instantly blurting out the correct answer to every question. May be played for laughs if the questions are obscure and esoteric to the point of absurdity.

In America, the game show is most likely to be Jeopardy!, as it has garnered a reputation for being the most difficult of the popular game shows, not to mention because of its distinctive, relatively fast-paced game structure. In the United Kingdom, the notoriously difficult, long-running University Challenge fills this role.

Of course, it should go without saying that trivial knowledge has little relation to intellect, but this is just a quick and easy way for writers to establish a character as smart.

A common subversion is for the character to have watched the episode before and memorized all the answers.

Examples of Jeopardy Intelligence Test include:


  • The Taco Bell dog successfully pulls this off in one of the campaign's earliest commercials.
  • A Coca-Cola ad played in movie theaters features a large, stereotypical trailer-trash woman watching Jeopardy! and getting all the right answers. At the end of the commercial, she rewinds the tape and starts watching it again.
  • Armed Forces Network had an ad of two guys watching Jeopardy! at night with one of them getting all the answers correct. The other guy wasn't amused. This ad meant to tell there's an alternate station for people living in the Atlantic zones who can watch during the day. Atlantic channel has the exact same programs as the Pacific. These two live in the Pacific region watching Jeopardy! on Atlantic network at night(one had already watched it on Pacific).

Comic Books

  • The Ultimate X-Men version of Doug Ramsay got into a private school for mutants due to his smarts, exemplified by his record-breaking streak on Jeopardy!.



  • This is done with the hero of Stephen King's "The Moving Finger". In the original story, he was actually watching Jeopardy!, but in the Monsters adaptation, it was a generic quiz show.
  • An ex-con in Jodi Picoult's Salem Falls does this every night. He started doing it to protect himself from Prison Rape by making a bet with the other convicts that he could always beat the scores of the televised contestants.

Live Action TV

  • In Seinfeld, George becomes a genius by abstaining from sex. Jerry asks whether it's a rerun, but it's not.
  • Phoebe does this in one episode of Charmed.
  • Parodied in one Friends episode: Joey is watching Wheel of Fortune. He laughs at a player, who can't solve a puzzle with the clue "_OUNT RUSH_ORE". He yells to Chandler, "It's easy! Count Rushmore!"
  • This is one of Cliff Clavin's defining character traits. Comes full circle when he actually was on Jeopardy!, but he loses in the final round.
  • In one episode of the fourth series of The IT Crowd, Moss participates in the show Countdown and keeps winning, despite crazy odds, by using amazingly obscure words like "tnetennba".
  • On one episode of Alright Already, Carol watches an earlier airing of Jeopardy! so that when she watches the same episode later in the day she can impress her boyfriend by knowing all the answers.

Newspaper Comics

  • In one Shoe comic strip, one character is watching Jeopardy! and getting all the answers right, but at the end another character leans over and says, "What is 'rerun'?"

Western Animation

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