Created By: IuraCivium on July 2, 2017 Last Edited By: IuraCivium on July 8, 2017
Troped

Judicial Wig

White, curly wig identifying someone as a judge.

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If there's a guy in the courtroom with a huge, powdered-white wig, chances are he's the judge. Thanks to eighteenth-century fashion sentiments in England, the judicial wig has become a symbol of the power behind the bench. This convention extends to media depictions of the judiciary as well - even if there's no other information like dialogue or setting to indicate it, you can figure out the job of the guy with the long white wig.

This may seem like People Sit on Chairs to some Tropers, particularly those who inhabit Britain or countries in The Commonwealth; notably, America is neither, and this is more often than not an Averted Trope there. The Wig of Justice owes its existence to fashion trends in Europe in the eighteenth century—long, powdered wigs were in vogue. For those places where court dress has retained these elements of style, force of habit and tradition kept them in place even after people in general stopped wearing them. In particularly modern settings, this may serve as an indicator that the presiding judge is too much of a Cloud Cuckoolander or, ironically enough, a Rules Lawyer to render a decision effectively.

That Other Wiki has more information. Compare Scales of Justice, another common symbol of law, and Black Cap Of Death, with which the wig may be complemented.


All rise! The honorable works that provide examples of this trope include:

    open/close all folders 

    Film - Animation 
  • The segment of Heavy Metal that focuses on the trial of Captain Lincoln Sternn is presided over by a corpulent judge wearing the classic woolen wig, even though the courtroom is aboard a huge space station, with a Cast of Snowflakes gallery of bizarre aliens. He presumably bugs out when star witness Hanover Fiste goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Clopin wears one briefly in the "Court of Miracles" number in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • The judge who sentences Jack (or actually, Gibbs being mistaken for Jack) at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides wears a wig sporting big, white, curly hair. The wig serves as a disguise too, since the "judge" actually is Jack himself.

    Literature 
  • In And Then There Were None, when Judge Wargrave is (apparently) shot and killed, he's been dressed up in a mockery of a judge's outfit, with a wig made from grey wool.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of British television's The Prisoner has the current Number Two don a woolen wig to preside at the bizarre trial of Number Six. The charges are bogus, but it's all done to compel Six to reveal why he resigned from the Intelligence Service. Or kill him, either will do for Two's purposes.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Squire of Gothos", Trelane puts Kirk on trial for defying him and wears a judicial wig along with his judges' robes.
  • As Monty Python's Flying Circus is a British TV show, all sketches taking place in a courtroom have the judge wearing a wig.
  • In the episode "The Music Box" of Little House on the Prairie Laura, has a nightmare about a wigged judge after she steals Nellie's music box.

    Music 
  • On the stage and film versions of The Wall, Pink's trial is presided over by Judge Arse. He is Exactly What It Says on the Tin - a giant talking human backside wearing a judge's wig. On the film version, the Judge first appears as a worm, which then turns into a wig.

    Theatre 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television—many judges used to wear these, and believe it or not, many still do. In some places, wigs were (or are) not reserved for only judges but also for legal counsel as well - though those wigs aren't as long.

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • July 2, 2017
    NightShade96
    You need to add [[/folder]] tags.

    • In And Then There Were None, when Judge Wargrave is (apparently) shot and killed, he's been dressed up in a mockery of a judge's outfit, with a wig made from grey wool.
  • July 2, 2017
    IuraCivium
    Thank you! I knew I was forgetting something there.
  • July 2, 2017
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Replaced some garbage text characters (resulting from a non-standard text character) with a standard text character.
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
  • July 3, 2017
    Koveras
    • In Batman The Animated Series, a villain-of-the-week dubbing himself The Judge (actually, Two Face's third personality) wears just such a wig when going after Gotham rogues with an intent to bring them to his particular brand of vigilante "justice".
  • July 3, 2017
    foxley
    This sounds like People Sit On Chairs. Judges wear wigs (certainly in most Commonwealth countries).
  • July 3, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    ^ Perhaps this is aimed at instances outside the Crown Territories. Further, it might be worn by a villain conducting a mock trial by kangaroo court. One other inference is that the justice presiding is so rapt in the letter of the law that he cannot make a common sense ruling.

    Film Animated
    • The segment of Heavy Metal that focuses on the trial of Captain Lincoln Sternn is presided over by a corpulent judge wearing the classic woolen wig, even though the courtroom is aboard a huge space station, with a Cast Of Snowflakes gallery of bizarre aliens. He presumably bugs out when star witness Hanover Fiste goes on a Roaring Rampage Of Revenge.
  • July 3, 2017
    IuraCivium
    oneuglybunny gets it—A) I'm from Eagle Land, where this is much, much less common, and B) this trope highlights the use of the wig as a visual shorthand telling people "this guy is the judge" (or "this guy is pretending to be the judge").

    (Side note: Apparently the markup hates em dashes.)
  • July 3, 2017
    NightShade96
    There's a similar TLP named Scales of Justice. Might want to mention that.
  • July 3, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Live Action TV
    • One episode of British television's The Prisoner has the current Number Two don a woolen wig to preside at the bizarre trial of Number Six. The charges are bogus, but it's all done to compel Six to reveal why he resigned from the Intelligence Service. Or kill him, either will do for Two's purposes.
  • July 5, 2017
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
  • July 4, 2017
    Arivne
  • July 4, 2017
    IuraCivium
    Thanks, guys!

    Is "Judicial Wig" or "Wig of Justice" a better title? I'm open to changing it to the former if it has greater support.

    OK, updated description and examples. If Scales of Justice gets launched I'll change the Pot Hole accordingly.
  • July 4, 2017
    LB7979
    Fim

    • Pirates Of The Caribbean On Stranger Tides: The judge who at the beginning of the movie sentences "Jack" (or actually, Gibbs being mistaken for Jack) wears a wig sporting big, white, curly hair. The wig serves as a disguise too, since the "judge" actually is Jack himself.
  • July 4, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^^ Judicial Wig sounds good. Also, Scales Of Justice was launched.
  • July 5, 2017
    IuraCivium
    Thanks! Updated.
  • July 5, 2017
    alnair20aug93
    Complemented with a Black Cap Of Death.
  • July 7, 2017
    TonyG
    • The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr Toad: Toad is on trial, and both the judge and the prosecutor wear wigs. Toad himself puts one on while representing himself.
    • On the stage and film versions of The Wall, Pink's trial is presided over by Judge Arse. He is Exactly What It Says On The Tin - a giant talking human backside wearing a judge's wig. On the film version, the Judge first appears as a worm, which then turns into a wig.
    • On the Looney Tunes short "Bugs Bonnets", Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd keep changing roles depending on the hats that end up landing on their heads. At one point, Bugs as a gangster tries to bribe Elmer as a cop. Elmer tries to give the bribe back, but at that point a judge wig lands on Bugs, who then sentences him for corruption.
  • July 7, 2017
    DrNoPuma
  • July 7, 2017
    LadyEvil
  • July 8, 2017
    IuraCivium
    Added a page image. Any more examples before launch?
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