I can't remember any version of Jeopardy! that didn't feature Alex Trebek. I know that by 1987-ish and the time I was in 6th grade, we all had our Alex Trebek impersonations, or at least knew how to imitate his cadence when delivering an answer/ clue.
While I was a Wheel Watcher and had an odd affinity for "Sale of the Century", Jeopardy! was clearly the thinking-person's gameshow - because it was one of the last surviving quiz shows on TV. And, it was hosted by the thinking-person's gameshow host. Trebek ran a tight ship - foolishness was not creeping into the world of Jeopardy!. Demographic-pleasing plebes were not going to find their way onto the contestant's stand - he needed people who could answer a medley of trivia questions, and not lose their cool.
Trebek grounded the show with a cool, dry, breeziness that was polite, maybe a tad formal, and was unimpressed with credentials even when touting those of his guests. He was far more impressed if you made a run on the board. And, his giddiness (which amounted to a small smile at the best of times) shown through during returning champions weeks where he could count on a battle royale instead of watching middle school librarians fall by the wayside early in the game.
Most game show hosts you kind of just shrug at - goofy entertainers with a gift for hucksterism. But Trebek outsurvived almost all of them (Sajak is still doing his thing, along with Vanna). And he did it with a certain poise and sincerity about the show that gave gravitas to 30 minutes daily of people being asked random-ass questions for money. That could have been dumb, y'all.
Jeopardy! existed before Trebek, and it will exist after Trebek. But it will not be the same without him. Nor will the television landscape as I've known it my entire life. And, yes, I will be quietly very judgey of whomever tries to fill Trebek's podium.
Here's to a well deserved rest and may he never have to hear a response in the form of a question ever again.