After congratulating the new “Jeopardy!” winner and wishing the contestants a merry Christmas, Alex Trebek turned and faced his TV audience: “And thank you ladies and gentlemen for spending the time with us. We’ll see you again next week.”

But that moment Friday night would end up being Trebek’s final signoff.

On Nov. 8, about 10 days after filming that episode in late October, the beloved face of “Jeopardy!” died at the age of 80.

“We didn’t know it was going to be his final episodes, and neither did he,” Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer, recently told “Today.” Richards added that Trebek, who continued to host “Jeopardy!” as he underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer, was “an absolute warrior” and described the host’s final moments on the show as “herculean.”

For Jim Gilligan — who has been trying to get on the show for well over 30 years — participating in and winning Trebek’s final “Jeopardy!” game was “the thrill of a lifetime.”

“That’s television history,” he told the Deseret News last week. “It makes it worth it to have waited this long to get on the show.”

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Trebek was about a week and a half out of intestinal surgery when he taped Gilligan’s episode. The contestant, who will appear alongside guest host Ken Jennings Monday night, called Trebek a “consummate professional.”

“Even though his health was not great and we all knew that, he didn’t use it as an excuse. He was there 100%. We got Alex,” Gilligan said. “If I could be as enthusiastic and as vivacious and as classy as he is when I turn 80, I’ll be happy.

“I want to believe that if he felt he couldn’t give it his all, he probably would’ve walked away gracefully, with class,” Gilligan continued. “But he was able to do it right up until he left us.”

After Friday night’s episode, “Jeopardy!” aired a special tribute to Trebek, showing clips of the longtime host dancing, bantering with contestants and wearing a wide range of costumes — everything from a Statue of Liberty outfit to Gene Simmons’ Kiss getup.

The tribute, which has been viewed more than 2 million times on Twitter, ends with Trebek raising his right fist in the air as he walks off the set of “Jeopardy!”

“Dedicated to Alex Trebek: Forever in our hearts, always our inspiration.”

“Jeopardy!” is not naming an official host at this time. Starting Monday night, Jennings fills in temporarily as the first in a series of guest hosts.