Who Wrote the “Think!” Theme from ‘Jeopardy’?

It’s down to the wire. There are 15 seconds left to answer that question about colonial America and it’s on the tip of the tongue. What is… What is… If only there was a mute on that seemingly cheerful, but deceptively nerve-racking dun-nun-nun sound. In that moment, one might wonder who wrote this music for Jeopardy.

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Who Wrote It?

The majority of Jeopardy‘s music was written by the show’s creator, television game show mogul Merv Griffin.

The popular question-and-answer program has seen an evolution of theme music, but really only one sound has stuck since the show first debuted in 1964.

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Simply called “Think!,” the most iconic sound of Jeopardy can be heard in that 30-second period of Final Jeopardy! when the contestants must jot down their answers and make their wagers on the last make-or-break question.

“Think!” began as a lullaby that Griffin had created for his son. It was originally called “A Time for Tony” and is rumored to have taken Griffin less than a minute to write. Now, the once-sweet serenade has become synonymous with intense high-pressure situations.

Over the decades, “Think!” has seen several re-arrangements on the game show, and has since been integrated into the opening theme.

Listen to a sample of the tune’s evolution below.

“Think!” Today

Today, Jeopardy and “Think!” are still going strong. The “Think!” tune has even infiltrated everyday non-game show life, popping up everywhere from sporting events to movies to anywhere there’s a fast-approaching deadline.

Since its creation, Griffin has certainly racked up the royalties from the “Think!” sound alone. “That little 30 seconds has made me a fortune, millions,” he told The New York Times in a 2005 interview. “Probably close to $70-80 million.” That number was likely greater when he passed in 2007 at the age of 82.

While the ditty has no words, it says a lot. But listen to Police frontman Sting’s rendition of “Think!” in which he adds lyrics such as here I am on Jeopardy!

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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