Returning To The Show

A project that I’m working on here at The Jeopardy! Fan is to keep track of everyone who had lost a game on the show, but was then invited back (usually due to being disadvantaged by a faulty clue, but there have been other reasons as well).

As it stands now, this is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I’m working on it! If you have an example that is missing, please send an email with details (you can find contact details at this link) and I’ll add it to the list!

The returnees are in reverse chronological order, ordered by original appearance (most recent at the top of the page).

Vincent Valenzuela

(original 2018-07-13; return 2018-09-25)
Vincent Valenzuela was leading going into Final Jeopardy! on July 13, 2018, but there was a technical issue with Final Jeopardy (in that the in-studio screen read “his” and not “this”, prompting Vincent to give an incorrect response.) Vincent was invited back early in Season 35, but finished in 2nd place.

Ryan Fenster

(original 2018-01-29–2018-02-02; return 2018-07-17–2018-07-20)
When going for his fifth win on February 2, 2018, Ryan Fenster was originally ruled incorrect on this ROAMIN’ CATHOLICS $1200 clue: St. Thomas Aquinas died traveling to Lyon, France while attempting to heal this rift between the Latin & Greek churches (saying “What is the Great Schism?”; the show wanted “What is Schism?) As the incorrect ruling ended up costing him the game, Ryan was invited back on the July 17, 2018 episode, where he won three more games.

Rebecca Zoshak

(original 2018-01-11; return 2018-03-21–2018-03-22)
Rebecca was in second place on 2018-01-11 and saw the following Final Jeopardy! clue, in THE MOVIES: “It’s the first Oscar nominee for Best Picture to be produced by an Internet streaming service”. The intended response was “Manchester by the Sea”, and she failed to respond correctly.

After the episode, Alex recorded a statement saying “A word about today’s Final Jeopardy, ladies and gentlemen. We could have been a little more precise with our wording. We should have indicated that Manchester by the Sea was distributed by a streaming service, not produced by one. The contestant who was affected by this has been invited back and will appear with us again later this year.”

Ashley Wilson

(original 2015-12-29; return 2015-12-31–2016-01-04)
Ashley was in second place on 2015-12-29 and saw the following Final Jeopardy! clue, in FAMOUS LAST NAMES: “The first woman space shuttle pilot shares this surname with a man on the 1st manned lunar landing 26 years earlier” Ashley failed to respond correct, betting all of her money and finishing the episode in third place.

However, at the end of the episode, Alex recorded a statement saying, “Our bad, folks. Today’s Final Jeopardy should have referred to the entire Apollo 11 mission rather than to just the lunar landing part of it. We feel that Ashley might have been disadvantaged and so we have invited her to return to play again later this week.” She returned to win on 2015-12-31.

Scott Wells

(original 2009-11-16; return 2010-09-13)
Scott’s original appearance in 2009 was marred by a Final Jeopardy (CLASSIC SONGS FROM MOVIES: 6-word title of the song that says, “For the house fell on her head & the coroner pronounced her dead”) where it was contended that the lyrics in the clue weren’t actually mentioned in the movie. The show agreed, and brought Scott back for another opportunity. Unfortunately for Scott, the other challenger in his second appearance: Roger Craig. Scott finished in a distant third place in his return on 2010-09-13.

Kori Tyler

(original 2009-01-08–2009-01-09; return 2010-02-26)
In her second appearance, Kori responded to her Final Jeopardy (ALPHABETS: In the phonetic alphabet used by the U.S. military, it’s the only letter that has the same name as a warrior people) with the letter Z instead of Zulu. Eventually, the show agreed that the two responses were equivalent and she was brought back. She finished second to Ben Auer in her return.

Tom Morris

(original 2008-04-29–2008-05-01; return 2008-05-02 & 2008-05-19)
As the returning champion, Tom lost to Paul Thomas in game #5454, aired 2008-05-01, but because Alex Trebek gave Paul a little extra time to write down his winning Final Jeopardy! response on the backup paper card after Paul had trouble using the electronic tablet, it was determined that Tom may have been disadvantaged and should return. In #5455, aired 2008-05-02, Tom was again at the champion’s podium and Paul took the middle podium. In that game, Tom defeated Paul and went on to play again, eventually winning 4 games and reaching the quarterfinals of the Tournament of Champions.
(source: J! Archive)

Arianna Kelly

(original 2008-01-30; return 2008-07-08)
Stefan Goodreau writes:
“Arianna Kelly played and lost two games in season 24; in the first one there were some rulings against her that people on the Sony board took issue with. The one that I believe was confirmed to have something to do with her return was a clue that asked for the main constituent of so-called tin cans, which allowed them to be separated via magnet from other recyclables. She responded with iron and was told to be more specific, then said iron ore and was ruled wrong. Returning champ Melissa Prusi rebounded with steel and was ruled correct. This was an $800 clue, Arianna entered FJ in third place, $2,200 behind Melissa, and FJ was a triple get in which the challenger in first place did not bet to cover Melissa, and Melissa won. (She was brought back in the midst of Aaron Schroeder’s run, put up a good fight, but lost.)

Karla Sortland

(original 2006-05-24; return 2007-06-11)
Stefan Goodreau writes:
Matt Sojot [see below] and Karla Sortland lost from second and first place respectively on this clue, in the category PORT CITIES: “It was Russia’s third-largest city until it became the capital of an independent republic in 1918″ Only returning champion Tricia Barreiro got Riga, and Karla and Matt guessed Odessa and Kiev. According to his player page at J! Archive, Matt objected to the ruling, saying the clue was ambiguous enough to make Kiev a potentially correct response, and they opted to bring both players back as a result.” Karla finished second in her return, to Susan Mitchell.

Matt Sojot

(original 2006-05-24; return 2007-04-13)
Matt Sojot and Karla Sortland [see above] lost on the Final Jeopardy! clue described above. Matt finished in third place in his return.
Source: Stefan Goodreau (as above)

Holly Owens

(original 2006-04-17; return 2007-07-03–2007-07-05)
Stefan Goodreau writes:
“Holly Owens and Brian Lamb [see below] were contestants in the game when Bob Mesko was brought back [see below], and they lost on a triple stumper FJ about actors that had been nominated for Oscars in each the last five consecutive decades. The clue was looking for Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine, who were each nominated in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s. But Holly and Brian both said Paul Newman, who got nominated during each of the five ten-year periods from 1956 to 2006.” In her return, Holly defeated Cathy Lanctot en route to winning two games.

Brian Lamb

(original 2006-04-17; return 2007-06-26)
Stefan Goodreau writes:
“Holly Owens [see above] and Brian Lamb were contestants in the game when Bob Mesko was brought back [see below]. In his return, Brian lost to eventual 5-time champion Cathy Lanctot.

Bob Mesko

(original 2006-01-23–2006-01-26; return 2006-04-17–2006-04-19)
A poorly-worded Daily Double that cost Bob his fourth game (“Fitting name of a unit between group & division, like the 509th Bomb one or 349th Air Mobility one”) resulted in his return to the show a few months after his first appearance. He went on to win two more games in Season 22, reaching the semifinals of the year’s Tournament of Champions.
(source: J! Archive)

Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua

(original 2005-01-12; return 2005-11-02)
Stefan Goodreau writes:
Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua was in a distant but not hopeless second place when she encountered this FJ in DATES IN AMERICAN HISTORY: “On this date Philadelphia partied with fireworks & music from a Hessian band captured 6 months earlier” Everyone missed, and the player in first place held on to his lead. But Leslie’s FJ thought process, as she explained in her blog first went to the first Independence Day celebration, but then the clue’s “six months earlier” gave her pause, since the capture of the Hessian band would have been on Christmas day 1776. So she added six months to that to get her response of June 25, 1777, only to find out that July 4, 1777 was indeed what they were going for.” On her return, Leslie finished in second place to Maria Wenglinsky.

Doug Meyer

(original 2004-03-11; return 2005-06-09)
In Doug’s initial appearance on the show, the penultimate clue of Double Jeopardy! was intended to pertain to The Barber of Seville; Doug’s response of “What is The Marriage of Figaro” was also deemed to fit the clue (as it named three characters from both play with no further information). As the final clue of the round was a Daily Double, and it would have gone to Doug had he been ruled correct, it was determined that Doug was sufficiently disadvantaged so as to warrant a return. Doug finished in second place in his return the following season.

Frank Amanat

(original 2003-11-03; return 2004-01-15–2004-01-20)
Stefan Goodreau writes:
[In Frank Amanat’s original game], he led entering FJ. The category: CANDY. The clue: “This person after whom a candy bar may have been named was part of a family on an 1892 Election Day souvenir medal” He responded “Who is Cleveland?” and was ruled incorrect, after third place was ruled correct on ‘Who was Baby Ruth?'” Frank returned a couple of months later and won three games.

Richard Finch

(original 2002-02-26; return 2003-07-14)
Richard Finch and Anthony Trifilio [see below] lost on the following Final Jeopardy! clue: “Peter Roget’s new device for performing mechanically the involution & evolution of numbers”, in the category 19th CENTURY INVENTIONS. Because it was determined that some slide rules dated to the 18th century, it was determined that both Richard and Anthony were disadvantaged and should return. Richard finished in 3rd place in his return to the show.

Anthony Trifilio

(original 2002-02-25–2002-02-26; return 2003-03-04–2003-03-05
Anthony Trifilio and Richard Finch [see above] lost on the Final Jeopardy! clue described above. In his second appearance, Anthony won a second game before being defeated by 4-day champion Max Levaren.

Darren Millam

(original 2000-04-20–2000-04-21; return 2001-02-27)
In his second game in 2000, challenger Kate Lowe was given credit in-game after the judges overturned a ruling on Kate’s pronunciation of Robert Zemeckis; before Final Jeopardy! Alex Trebek said “We went over Kate’s response in super slow-motion and found that it wasn’t a “T” that she said, but just a pause, so she’s credited with $2,000.” This caused Kate to dethrone Darren as champion; this judgment call was further reviewed afterwards, resulting in Darren’s return to the show the following season, where he finished in second place to 4-day champion Sid Moore, Jr.

Milo Dochow

(Original 1999-02-22 [Teen Tournament]; return 2000-02-09 [College Championship]
In Season 15’s Teen Tournament, Milo successfully protested; it is believed that a delayed judges’ overturning an incorrect response on a Daily Double would have resulted in him having more money after Final Jeopardy! and advancing to the next round. He was returned in the following season’s College Championship, where he finished in third place in his quarterfinal.

Claudia Perry

(original 1996-09-11; return 1997-01-01–1997-01-07)
Per her J! Archive profile, Claudia Perry suffered from “technical issues” in her initial appearance in early September 1996; to be fair, the show invited her back, where she won 4 games, reached the semifinals of her Tournament of Champions, and was invited to both the Million Dollar Masters and Battle of the Decades.

Alexandra Grochol

(original 1995-11-27; return 1996-05-28–1996-05-29)
In her original appearance, it was deemed that there was a discrepancy in the Final Jeopardy! clue on November 27, 1995; Alexandra was deemed to have been sufficiently disadvantaged by it to earn a return appearance on the show later in Season 12, where she won 1 game.

Tom Nichols

(original 1994-01-31–1994-02-04; return 1994-10-10)
Tom Nichols was a four-time champion who lost his fifth game in early 1994. As he says in his Ultimate Tournament of Champions bio, he was determined to have been right on a question where he had been ruled wrong. He won in his return, becoming a five-time champion in his sixth game, just in time for the Tournament of Champions (which he would have qualified for anyway).

Kim Smith

(original 1993-94; return 1994-09-06)
According to Robair’s daily Usenet update from that era on, Kim Smith was returned to the show “due to (a) ruling”; upon her return, she faced then-3-day champion Steve Chernicoff.

India Cooper

(original 1991-05-01; return 1991-12-16–1991-12-20)
In her original appearance, India was leading going into Final Jeopardy (SHAKESPEARE: Character who says, “The evil that men do lives after them”). India lost after second place’s response of “Who is Mark Anthony?” was accepted, but she was brought back in December of 1991 to win 5 games. Her most recent appearance was in the Battle of the Decades.
(source: JBoard)

Kathy Fuller

(original 1989-04-17; return 1990-04-05)
In her initial appearance, Kathy faced the following Final Jeopardy! clue: “Images replaced on the front of the penny & the nickel by the presidents on them today”. While she was ruled incorrect in the game, she successfully protested that her response of “Miss Liberty” was acceptable as a representation of the images on both the 1913–1938 nickel and the 1859-1909 penny; thus, her response was acceptable and she should have won her game. She was brought back in 1990 when she lost to Joel Goldberg (see below).

Tom Smolich

(original 1989-04-11; return 1989-09-21–1989-09-26)
Per Tom’s J! Archive profile, “Tom was invited back to appear on the show after his first loss when viewers wrote in to point out that one of his opponents had been credited for a response that wasn’t quite correct.” Upon his return, he tied departing 5-time champion Larry McKnight and won two further games.
(source: J! Archive)

Joel Goldberg

(original unknown; return 1990-04-02–1990-04-06)
Per Joel’s J! Archive profile, Joel was “first on the show 1988 when he was ruled incorrect on a Final Jeopardy! response, and after further review, his response was correct and it did have an effect on the outcome of the game.” Joel later returned to win four games and $33,001.
(source: J! Archive)

Sharon Miyasato

(original 1986-10-03; return 1987-01-12—1987-01-14)
In her initial appearance on the show, Sharon lost to 4-time champion Carl Brady in Carl’s 2nd game. However, Alex said on her return that he “made a mistake that may well have cost her an opportunity to dethrone our champion”. (It is believed that the mistake was likely overturning a response of “kilowatt” instead of “kilowatt-hour” after “hour” was already in the clue.) On her return, Sharon won two games.

Rosalie Hill

original 1986-01-17–1986-01-20; return 1986-10-10)
Rosalie Hill was a 1-day champion in mid-January 1986; in her second game she lost a close game; the show ruled that Rosalie may have been disadvantaged by a faulty timing device in her loss and invited her back in October; in her return, she lost to Tournament of Champions and Super Jeopardy! finalist Dave Traini.
(source: JBoard)

Dorian Ellis

(original 1985-04-23; return 1985-05-07-1985-05-08)
In her initial appearance on the show, Dorian faced the following Final Jeopardy! clue: “The first university in the Western Hemisphere was founded in 1553 in this Latin American capital”. The show determined that Dorian’s response of “What is Lima, Peru?”, referring to the National University of San Marcos, was ultimately more correct than the show’s intended response of “What is Mexico City?” (referring to the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico), and Dorian was brought back two weeks later, where she won one game.

Richard Landon

(original 1984-11-21–1984-11-27; return 1984-12-04)
In his 5th game in 1984, Richard should have been given credit for “Roundheads” on the following clue: In 1642, they closed English theaters for 18 years; he was brought back a week later for a second attempt to win a fifth game, but lost to Daniel Elias.
(source: J! Archive)

Paul Croshier

(original 1984-10-12; return 1985-01-30–1985-02-05)
In his original appearance, Staff Sgt. Paul Croshier selected the clue that contained a Daily Double late in Double Jeopardy; however, the show elected to end the round before revealing that Daily Double. The show eventually realized that this was unfair and brought Paul back. Paul went on to win five games in early 1985.
(source: JBoard)

Page history

2015-12-31 Original page, with information on Ashley Wilson, Scott Wells, Tom Morris, Bob Mesko, India Cooper
2016-01-13 Updated information from Stefan Goodreau on Scott Wells, added Kori Tyler, Arianna Kelly, Karla Sortland, Matt Sojot, Holly Owens, Brian Lamb, Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua, Frank Amanat. More to come!
2018-07-16 Added Season 34’s Rebecca Zoshak, Ryan Fenster, and Vincent Valenzuela. Added information about Tom Nichols from Stefan Goodreau.
2022-10-30 Added further information about India Cooper as well as Paul Croshier. More to come!
2022-11-05 Added further information about Richard Landon.
2022-11-10 Page redesign; added further information about Milo Dochow, Claudia Perry, Tom Smolich, Joel Goldberg, and Kathy Fuller.
2022-11-11 Added information about Kim Smith.
2022-11-24 Added information about Rosalie Hill.
2022-12-15 Added information about Dorian Ellis; updated dates for Paul Croshier, Richard Landon, and Tom Smolich.
2023-03-22 Added information about Alexandra Grochol, Darren Millam, Doug Meyer, Anthony Trifilio, Richard Finch, and Sharon Miyasato.