“So long,” Alex Trebek.
“Jeopardy!” fans said goodbye to the late, beloved host Friday after his final episode aired, using his longtime sign-off line — and a flurry of crying emojis. The episode, the last one he filmed before he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8 at age 80, was recorded on Oct. 29, 2020 — just 10 days before he passed — and went off without a hitch.
At the end of the episode, Trebek said, “See you again next week,” which brought tears to fans’ eyes.
“Hearing Alex Trebeck [sic] say, ‘We’ll see you next week’ for the last time really hits different,” said one.
“OMG I’M SOBBING,” wrote another.
“In moments of darkness, Alex Trebek has always been a source of light. Even after he tragically dies, he manages to still provide that light two months later,” a viewer wrote.
“We all told ourselves we’d be ready, that the last few weeks have prepared us for tonight,” wrote one fan. “I think it’s safe to say we’ve been lying to ourselves, that the tears are going to flow. But that’s ultimately a testament to the sheer goodness of Alex Trebek.”
“Every week night since I can remember he’s been on my tv right at 7 PM,” added another. “Can’t believe it’ll be the last new episode I’ll watch with him as the host.”
The program ended with a tribute video for the man who has been its host since 1984, set to Peter Allen’s “Once Before I Go,” but “Jeopardy!” released it early on Twitter and YouTube for fans to savor the moment.
Famous contestants also paid their respects to Trebek ahead of his final episode.
“I’m still not ready to say goodbye to Alex Trebek, but I will try,” James Holzhauer, the third-highest-earning contestant, wrote on Twitter. “So long, old friend. The ‘Jeopardy!’ music will always bring a tear to my eye.”
“Alex was always a familiar TV face, but it was so gratifying during the last years of his life to see him universally recognized as the national treasure,” added champ Ken Jennings.
In a lengthy op-ed on CNN.com, contestant Albert Thakur — who told Trebek he “learned English because of” him in a viral show moment full of tears — called the host a “miracle.”
Trebek never filmed a goodbye message to fans as he promised, according to The Wrap, since his “passing was so sudden that he never had a chance to say what he had prepared.”
He once said he would need just 30 seconds.
“I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, ‘Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me … then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success,’ ” he said in January 2020. “And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.”
Instead, Monday night’s opening message served as his final goodbye.
“You’ll recall that about a month ago, I asked all of you to take a moment to give thanks for all of the blessings that you enjoy in your lives,” the host — who is survived by his wife, Jean Currivan Trebek, and two children — said. “Now, today, a different kind of message. This is the season of giving. I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones.”
He continued: “But today, I’d like you to go one step further. I’d like you to open up your hands and open up your hearts to those who are still suffering because of COVID-19. People who are suffering through no fault of their own. We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society, and if we all pitch in — just a little bit — we’re gonna get there.”
Mike Richards, the game show’s executive producer, told NBC’s “Today” show the crew erupted in applause.
Distributor CBS Television and producer Sony Television have not announced a permanent replacement — although there have been rumors. However, there will be interim hosts on a rotating basis, including the likes of Jennings and even Katie Couric.
Jennings will host Monday night’s episode — the first without Trebek.