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Real cases. Real people. Judge Judy.

Thus begins the most popular judge show in recent history. Judge Judy can be summed up in one sentence: "What if the Mediator persona was a real person?"

Judge Judy focuses on the courtroom of Judge Judith Sheindlin, an experienced family-court judge who brings her extreme pithiness to everyday cases involving some of the worst human garbage this side of Jerry Springer. One can only watch and wonder, "where did they find these people?" The standard episode sees Judy evaluating the testimony of both litigants, interspersed with her own biting comments as needed, determining which has the better case and why, and then issuing a ruling. After the case, the litigants have a chance to speak to the camera and comment on how justice was, or was not, served.

Note that Ms. Sheindlin is not actually acting as a judge and the show is filmed on a set, not in a courtroom. The guy in front of her is a former New York City Court Bailiff, not a police officer, and the "public gallery" is filled by paid extras. She is actually acting as an arbiter (a third party whose decision both parties in the dispute agree to abide by). Both "litigants" will be paid; Judy is determining the balance of the two.

Spawned a whole bunch of judge shows; however, it was not the originator of the judge show, as Raymond Babbit would tell you.


Contains examples of the following:

  • Berserk Button: Don't answer her questions with "Mmmhmmm" or some variant instead of "Yes" or "No." Also, interrupting her is one, as shown by her Catch Phrases below. And Obfuscating Stupidity is another, as exemplified by these two lines:
    • "Either you're playing dumb or it's not an act."
    • "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."
  • Blatant Lies: Lots of people try to pull this, but as a "truth machine," Judy is having none of it.
  • Break the Haughty: A common occurrence. A certain case against a 13-year-old school bully in particular (said bully was reduced to tears) showed that she has no tolerance for children with attitude.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': In one case involving a 20 year old who got caught the first time he used a fake ID, Judge Judy lampshades this by calling him "the unluckiest person on Earth."
  • Cast the Expert
  • Catch Phrase: Quite a few:
    • "Just a second!"
    • "I'M SPEAKING!"
      • "Are you trying to talk over me? You're not gonna talk over me. You know why? They can turn off your mike and leave mine on."
    • "This is my playpen!"
    • "You're an idiot!"
    • "Answer my question!"
    • "Um is not an answer!"
    • "Baloney!"
    • "OUTRAGEOUS! YOU ARE AN OUTRAGEOUS PERSON!"
    • "On your BEST day you're not as smart as I am on my WORST day."
    • "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."
    • "You're a MORON!"
    • "Put on your listening ears!" Often used in conjunction with "God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason!"
    • "Beauty fades, dumb is forever."
    • "They don't keep me up here because I look good."
    • "You know when teenagers lying? When their mouths are moving."
    • "That's all." (after delivering her judgment)
    • "Parties are excused, you may step out." (said by Byrd after Judge Judy rules)
    • "What?! Where did you think you were going?! A tea party?!" or "...to the beach?!" or "...a tea dance?!" etc. (If one of the litigants does not bring certain necessary documents)
    • "I know EXACTLY who you are!"
    • "I've been in this business for 40 years."
    • "There's something wrong with you."
    • when a litigant who seems to be winning the case interrupts unnecessarily: "Do I LOOK like I need your help?" or "Does it LOOK like you're losing?"
    • "If you interrupt again, your case is dismissed, and I'm throwing you out. Do you understand?"
  • Courtroom Antics: The Judge herself will often disrupt the proceedings to offer candid and irrelevant opinions about her clients or society in general. She's not above asking clients non-rhetorical questions and then shouting them down when they try to answer.
  • Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Judy has committed this fallacy several times.
  • Dumb Blonde: This exchange -

 Judge Judy: It's not rocket science. Tell me what rocket science is.

Ashley Hunter: Rocket science is where the scientists find out things about space. [uncomfortable beat] I think.

  • Exact Words: The technique used by some litigants to get around responsibility for this or that action.
    • One lovable idiot accused of jumping on the plaintiff's car and denting the trunk denied responsibility since she'd offered him a ride and told him to "hop on the car."
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Litigants who act stupid, litigants who act 'cool,' litigants who are lying on the stand and think they can get away with it...
  • Hanging Judge
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: 1970s Game Show fans may recognize announcer Jerry Bishop from The Cross Wits and the Disney Channel in the 80's.
  • Hypocrite: When Joseph Wapner criticised Sheindlin's behavior she responded with:

 I refuse to engage in similar mud slinging. I don't know where or by whom Judge Wapner was raised. But my parents taught me when you don't have something nice to say about someone, say nothing. Clearly, Judge Wapner was absent on the day that lesson was taught.

    • Also, Judy is vocal on stating that the show is all about being a living example of her belief that those who do wrong should suffer consequences. But those in the wrong suffer no consequences on this show. In fact, they gain from their bad behaviour. All participants get an all expenses paid trip to New York. All participants get a minimum attendance fee of $1,000. And any monetary judgements made against a participant are paid by the show. The only cost they receive is their dignity; millions of television viewers worldwide will get to see how inhuman they really are.
  • Implausible Deniability: Most of the defendants pull this.
  • Jerkass: Her Honor herself, who always speaks her mind, regardless of people's feelings. But then again, truth hurts.
  • Kubrick Stare/Death Glare: Judy, mainly directed at litigants who are demonstrating unusual dishonesty, stupidity, or are otherwise trying her patience.
  • Living Lie Detector: Judge Judy herself (or in her own words, "Truth Machine").
    • She thinks she is, at least. Very rarely does she acknowledge the possibility that she MIGHT be wrong.
      • One case where she was proven wrong was where she accused a woman of lying when the woman claimed that she walked over a large distance to and from work every day. When her opponent actually spoke up in her defense when the judge didn't believe her, confirming that yes, she in fact did walk that distance every day, Judy admitted her mistake and apologized.
        The above is a very rare occasion though. Generally speaking, Judy will get more and more irritated if she asks questions she thinks will embarrass defendants and make them look like feckless bums and then gets answers that don't suit her and prove otherwise. She's then most likely to simply change the subject.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: When she's not in the courtroom she's a sweet grandmother.
  • Opening Narration / Emphasize Everything: "You are about to enter the courtroom of Judge Judith Sheindlin! The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final! (This is her courtroom!) This is Judge Judy!"
  • Point and Laugh Show
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: What Judy's one of the best at, whether they actually suck or not. But most of them definitely do.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Her Honor and the bailiff. Judy gets furious at the drop of a hat; Byrd has not once expressed anything other than absolute stoicism (with a few exceptions). It's like the two leads from Samurai Champloo were transplanted into the body of a judge and bailiff.
  • Shown Their Work: Judge Judy is a legitimate legal authority. Even if the litigants are clearly getting on her last nerve, she will try to explain which legal areas are in play and why the plaintiff/defendant does or does not have a case.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: A lot of defendants try to pull this, but Judy undoubtedly sees through it.
  • Tagline: "Real cases. Real people. Judge Judy."
    • Also: "The cases are real. The people are real. The rulings are final."
  • Teens Are Monsters: Judge Judy is a staunch believer in this trope. (To be fair, the teens that typically appear on the show don't do much to prove her wrong.)

 I've raised several teenagers, so I know that the first thing that teenagers do when they open their mouths is lie.

    • Averted when she discovers that teens are genuine victims. In one case she tells the teenage son of a defendant in a claim he had nothing to do with in a heartfelt voice to get away from his father and sister any way he can, believing he was too good a person to be corrupted with their influence.
  • Too Dumb to Live: It's a point-and-laugh show, so there are a lot of these, but extra points go to litigants who attempt to interrupt or speak up while Judy is tearing into their opponents.
  • Your Mom: Inverted by one lovable piece of work who claimed to have ten children by "about four" women and "your daughter." Judy wasn't amused.
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