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They're always swearin', cursin', kickin' butt, and pointin' blame

On the air? They don't care, they've got no shame

There was one guy who I'm sure felt a little strange

When he found out that his wife had a sex change

They have a tendency to scream and yell constantly

They have a history of ripping off their shirts
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Jerry Springer"

Jerry Springer, a former mayor of Cincinnati [1], hosts this show that has to pull itself up in content quality to qualify as "Trash TV". TV Guide named it as the worst show ever -- which it proudly declares at the start of every episode. One of the most infamous Guilty Pleasures on TV.

In the show's first few years, before it became wildly popular, it took a more serious approach, with episodes that dealt with serious issues and politics (for example, in one episode, Jerry spent a night with a homeless teenager living on the streets). However, before long, they came to the realization that the formula of "poking guests with sticks until they started fighting" earned much better ratings. It, along with Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones, paved the way for shock talk shows. It's still the king of shock talk, having outlasted most of its competition. And definitely talk's answer to the Dead Baby Comedy.

Your standard episode will feature a woman telling her husband's mistress to stay the *beep* away from her man, then dumping him at the end of the episode. Then there's usually some sort of crossdresser. And a person with some weird out there sexual fetish. Maybe a young girl who sleeps with older men. Every now and then you also get Klansmen and neo-Nazis for good measure.

The show is notable for its security, as fights are started about five times an episode. Similarly, Jerry Springer let his security chief, Steve Wilkos, fill in for him often; this led to Wilkos getting his own talk show.

It goes without saying that the show couldn't be quite that bad without some help. While (presumably) most of the guests are real, the production crew has admitted to giving them advice on how to make a better show out of their issues. In addition, Springer and Wilkos themselves often dispense advice, on-stage or off-stage.

Recently, a show named The Springer Hustle began airing based around the backstage activity on Springer.

The 1998 movie Ringmaster starred Springer playing, essentially (but not in name), himself.

In 2003, Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas launched the long-running London musical Jerry Springer: The Opera. The plot has Springer shot by a guest, whereupon the Devil forces him to host his show in Hell and thereby try to reconcile the devil's realm with Heaven. The musical's religious satire, combined with heavy use of profanity, led to protests by Christian groups and even an attempt to prosecute the producers under Britain's blasphemy law, which didn't succeed with the law in question being somewhat vestigial.


Tropes:

  • All Crimes Are Equal: Steve Wilkos never lets the accused sit down unless they have a medical condition. The nature of what the guest is accused of doing doesn't matter [2] He does it to keep them uncomfortable because the accused doesn't allow others to feel comfortable. If they happen to be exonerated by the lie detector test, they will be allowed to sit. If the test determines that they lied, they will suffer the additional humiliation of being told to "Get the hell off my stage!"
  • Author Filibuster: Jerry's final thoughts are always about the main subject of the episode and articulate, no matter how bizarre, crazy, and trashy today's episode got.
  • Bald of Awesome: Steve Wilkos. Everyone loves his baldness (except the assholes getting restrained by him).
  • Banned in China: It lasted one episode in Malaysia before being unceremoniously pulled.
  • Berserk Button: Neo-Nazis for Jerry Springer -- not surprising, since he's Jewish and lost nearly his entire family in the Holocaust. He also once threw off a guest, and left the show during the remainder of the air time, for claiming he could make anyone a porn star -- including children.
    • For Steve Wilkos, it's bad parents, and criminals. He won't even allow them to sit down, and will remove their chairs after they admit as much. You gonna feel sorry for the chairs after a while.
      • Steve has also been known to throw chairs at the really disgusting ones. In one episode, he threw a chair at a wall hard enough to lodge it into the set, and said he wanted to do the very same to the guest.
  • Blatant Lies: Weirdly enough, subverted. While Maury and The Steve Wilkos Show are about finding the truth (and occasionally pulling it out like teeth), the guests on Springer revel in revealing their ugly truths. Many of the guests do come on as the result of Blatant Lies, though, such as a cheating spouse or really being of the opposite sex.
    • Also subverted with the fact that, as opposed to Maury and The Steve Wilkos Show, he doesn't use polygraph tests (a notoriously unreliable method).
  • Blue Screen of Death: Because of the greater seriousness of the topics on The Steve Wilkos Show, it's more likely to happen there. Often, parents who had no idea their child was being abused or wives who weren't aware their husbands were cheating on them suffer from this.
  • Break the Haughty: Jerry tends to just stand back and watch for the shits and giggles. Steve Wilkos, on the other hand, has no problem putting people into their place to the point where they're in tears. See Hannibal Lecture below.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Averted in a bait and switch to draw in viewers. Whenever the show's topic is "I want to marry/am sleeping with my brother/sister", they always turn out to be stepsiblings, so it really doesn't matter either way in the eyes of the law.
    • There was one case of Parental Incest where they were blood related; the mother had put the daughter up for adoption as a baby and they had reunited when she was in her early/mid thirties, and the daughter came on to her mom and the mom went along with it.
  • The Cast Showoff: When a guest says that they're a dancer, stripper, rapper or other performer, the audience immediately chants "LET'S SEE!" Sometimes (usually the strippers and dancers), they're quite good. Sometimes (especially the rappers) they're horrible. If a rapper messes up, sometimes an audience member will challenge them during the questions segment at the end.
  • Catch Phrase: More of a "Catch Chant" at this point, but "JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!". And the newer "WE LOVE LESBIANS! WE LOVE LESBIANS! WE LOVE LESBIANS!" and "LET'S SEE! LET'S SEE! LET'S SEE!" whenever someone mentions they're a stripper.
    • On The Steve Wilkos Show, "STEEEEEEEEEEEEVE!" is the equivalent, to the point that some of the asshole guests mock it.
      • Also, Steve's aforementioned "Get the hell off my stage!"
    • Jerry's audience does it to have fun or mock the guests. Steve's audience does the "Steeeeeeeve!" chant to indicate that they agree with his point or that of someone making their case against whichever scumbag is on stage.
      • Of course, before the show, the audience is coached to say that.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Steve Wilkos.

 Steve Wilkos: "...you think that I'm gonna say [lighter, mock sympathetic voice] Oh Jessica, everything is gonna be all right. I gonna make all your problems go away. [normal voice] Well guess what. I'm not your fairy godmother, I'm Steve, Steve Wilkos".

    • Jerry, too.

 White trash? On our show?

    • The audience members can get some good ones in too. Most of the Q&A near the end of the show makes fun of the attendees.
  • Dirty Coward: Pretty much all of the scumbags on The Steve Wikos Show.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him: Just about every fifth episode. Most featured men who, up until that point, thought they were dating a woman will unleash their fury upon the newly-discovered man.
    • Hilariously inverted on at least one occasion where a woman found out her boyfriend was actually another woman.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: There was an episode entitled "I Married A Horse," which was about precisely what it sounds like. Jerry was visibly horrified the entire time.
    • Don't forget the above mentioned episode about how a guest was able to make anyone into a porn star, even children, disgusting Jerry enough to actually hurl him off the stage and then leave production for a while.
    • When Casey Anthony was acquitted, he reportedly went on to say that he would not invite her on his show.
  • Follow the Leader: Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Maury Povich, and many other tabloid talk show hosts. One could also argue that Springer's trashier bent was due to the success of Geraldo.
    • Steve Wilkos got his own Spin-Off, which has the added bonus of Steve really tearing into guests he doesn't like.
  • Genre Blindness: You're invited to appear on The Jerry Springer Show and you're surprised your loved one has a secret? REALLY?
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: One of the show's operating principles.
    • We love lesbians!
  • Hannibal Lecture: Steve is extremly good at these. He sure knows how to break assholes into crying messes. Guess twelve years as a police officer and being a former Marine gives you knowledge on how these people think and how you can take advantage of it.
  • Long Runners: Airing non-stop new episodes since 1991.
  • News Broadcast: After leaving politics, Jerry became a highly respected newsanchor for Cincinnati's NBC affiliate, with a segment devoted to his personal commentary, which were always intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate. His "final thoughts" on the talk show started out as a spiritual successor to these commentary segments, before the show changed tone and emulated Geraldo Rivera rather than Phil Donohue. Sadly, his name is so synonymous with trash TV now that it's been impossible for him to return to serious journalism or politics and be taken seriously by the general public. There's an episode of the This American Life radio series that examines this in detail.
    • He did host a serious, syndicated political talk show from 2005-2006.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Some of the guests can qualify, such as the transsexual who cut off her own legs for fun.
  • Only Sane Man: Jerry himself.
  • Point and Laugh Show: The Trope Codifier.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Steve ain't afraid to pull these ones on the wifebeaters, the child abusers or any general scumbags when he's in charge.
    • The "Final Thoughts" recently consist of Jerry tearing his guests a new one... except that they don't get it because he speaks at above a fifth grade vocabulary level.
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • Running Gag: "I'm not a slut!" "Sorry, you can't be on our show."
    • The police siren that goes off every time someone mentions they've been in jail.
    • Jerry reluctantly picking up a wig or piece of weave when it's been ripped up in a fight.
    • The sound effect of a boxing bell being rung whenever a fight breaks out, or is played to start a fight, which usually works.
  • Talk Show: It used to be a prim and proper one...
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Neo-Nazis are a popular subject matter, and a favorite for the audience and Jerry to pile on.
  • Too Hot for TV" Quite a few of the specials.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted. The audience does not hesitate to shout "Whore! Whore! Whore!" when a female guest is unfaithful.

Notes

  1. Best known for trying to pay a prostitute... with a city government check. It's important to note he became mayor after the scandal and was pretty popular while in office -- in fact, his honesty about the scandal (rather than trying to cover it up) is part of what got him elected mayor in the first place.
  2. unless they are accused of cheating.
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