This is an episode that's structured around a court case, in a series not normally focused on litigation. In other words, it's an Out-of-Genre Experience
where the genre being shifted into is "Law Procedural
Because lawyers get to have all the fun in court, you can expect a major character to be incongruously forced into playing one. They'll almost always succeed in arguing their case despite not actually having a law degree, or indeed starting the episode with any clue about what they're doing
You should also expect an egregiously
large number of Courtroom Antics
, for reasons reminiscent of the Second Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics
: since the writers don't normally have the opportunity to write such things, they'll feel obligated to cram in all their favorite ones.
Compare Jury Duty
and Rogue Juror
. See also Prison Episode
, which this sometimes doubles as. (Or is sometimes followed by.)
open/close all folders
- The classic Legion of Super-Heroes story "The Legionnaire Who Killed" (originally printed in Adventure Comics #342), in which Star Boy kills an outlaw in self defense, violating the Legion's code against killing.
- The 1990 DC Star Trek series had "The Trial of James T. Kirk," written by Peter David. It had a lot of Call Back to the original series with tragic, amusing and noble followups to Kirk's "violations" of the Prime Directive.
- Two issues of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog focused on trails stemming from major developments. The first was Sonic's trial after the "Mecha Madness" incident and the second was Geoffrey St. John's after Naugus' ascension as king.
Film - Shorts
- The Three Stooges episode Disorder in the Court has the stooges as witnesses to a murder trial, where they attempt to prove the innocence of Ms. Gail Tempest through Courtroom Antics.
- Idiots Deluxe was another courtroom episode, where Larry and Curly accuse Moe of attempted murder, and Moe tells the judge about a hunting trip that went horribly wrong, leading to his attempt on their lives.
- Most of the Sagas of Icelanders contain at least one, with plenty of fancy speeches and occasional bouts of Off on a Technicality.
- A few of these in the Deryni works:
- In the short story "Trial", Morgan visits a court conducted by Ralf Tolliver, Bishop of Corwyn. Morgan helps discover the real culprits in a rape and murder case.
- Morgan is tried for treason and heresy early in Deryni Rising, and Kelson gets to engage in Courtroom Antics to get him off the hook.
- After a drumhead court-martial, Kelson has Ithel of Meara and Brice Baron Trurill hanged.
- On his entrance into Laas, Kelson collaborates with Archbishop Cardiel and Bishop Duncan ÂcLain in a very quick trial of Loris and Gorony. Cardiel surrenders them to secular judgement, and Kelson has them hanged right there in the hall.
- An ecclesiastical hearing is held to decide whether Duncan and Maryse Macardry were legitimately married (which would mean their son Dhugal is Duncan's legitimate heir for the Duchy of Cassan). Bishop Denis Arilan gets to show off his scholarship with an unanswerable argument likening the Presence light and the Host to the Jews' Ark of the covenant: in other words, God Himself witnessed their vows.
- The ConSentiency series largely focuses on the exploits of a Secret Agent/Bureaucrat Jorj X. McKie. However:
- A good portion of the novel The Dosadi Experiment focuses on the courtroom drama of the Gowachin, which is much more interesting than its human equivalent.
- The short story "The Tactful Saboteur" also features a Courtroom chapter. However, except for a few additions, the courtroom is rather orthodox.
- The first few chapters of the Sector General book The Genocidal Healer are framed by a misconduct trial for the book's protagonist, though they mainly consist of a recounting of the events that led to the trial in the first place.
- In Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series, focusing on his cases as a Homicide Detective in the field and never at trial, The Concrete Blonde is this. It tells the story of when Harry is sued over the Dollmaker case, in which he shot a serial killer who he believed was reaching for a weapon. As the case begins another body turns up.
Live Action TV
- The Archers did several for the trial of Tom Archer, including an episode focusing entirely on the jury's deliberations, which was heavily publicised on its gimmick value as the only episode in the show's history not to feature any of the regular characters.
- Several BioWare games (Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect 2, Neverwinter Nights, and Neverwinter Nights 2) have sidequests where you either act as an attorney for a quest-giver, or are accused of something and have to defend yourself. Usually they involve all of collecting evidence, interviewing people, and making the right statements at court.
- Chrono Trigger pulls an early one on the party-after returning from the past and heading to the castle, the Evil Chancellor immediately calls Chrono a terrorist and puts you on trial. Unlike the Bioware examples, success here is dependent on actions you took in the fair (return the kitty to her owner, don't eat the old guy's lunch, and let the Princess take all the time she wants at the candy booth). You're still slated for execution regardless of actions, but at least you get some items if you're found not guilty.
- Several Futurama episodes, as well as a significant part of the last movie.
Bender: Court's kind of fun when it's not my ass on the line.
- Several episodes of The Simpsons too; among them are "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", and "The D'Oh-cial Network."
- Justice League has one episode where Green Lantern stands trial for blowing up a planet. Flash is his lawyer. Hilarity Ensues.
Flash: If the ring wasn't lit, you must acquit!
- Spongebob Squarepants: "Plankton vs. Krabs."
- The Animaniacs episode "La La Law."
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: "Keeper of the Reaper." Fred Fredburger, yes!
- The Venture Bros. episode "Trial of the Monarch" has the Monarch as the defendant, acting as his own lawyer. He doesn't care for having the jury described as his "peers."
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series: "Twelve Angry Pups"
- Beavis and Butt-Head: "The Trial"
- Garfield and Friends episodes: "Binky Goes Bad", "Trial & Error"
- Duck Dodgers episode "The Trial of Duck Dodgers"
- Capitol Critters had one episode where two characters were taken to the cockroaches' courtroom. One of the defendants complained about being treated like a human being.
- A good deal of Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa episode "Bulls of a Feather" was about Sheriff Terribull being taken to courtroom to be tried for the crimes of his criminal alter ego The Masked Bull.
- Quick Draw McGraw once had to protect a key witness (Baba Looey) for a trial.
- Recess: "The Trial" is the best example, but other episodes include "The Story of Whomps" and "The Biggest Trouble Ever".
- Episode 4 of Clerks: The Animated Series revolved around Jay pursuing a Frivolous Lawsuit against Dante for slipping on a puddle of spilled soda.
- The Smurfs episode "The Smurfy Verdict".
- Batman: The Animated Series has the fittingly-named "Trial", where the inmates of Arkham Asylum capture both Batman and new district attorney Janet van Dorn and put the former on trial (with The Joker as judge), with the latter acting as defense. Ms. van Dorn was an outspoken critic of the Dark Knight, being prevented from putting inmates in prison for life due to their being apprehended by a vigilante, and had made claims that Batman was directly responsible for creating all the supervillain scum of Gotham - now, in the Kangaroo Court set up at Arkham, she is tasked with defending Batman from those very claims. She succeeds in proving that each and every villain would've become who they were even without Batman's existence, both changing her tune on the Caped Crusader's role in society and actually convincing the inmates to find him Not Guilty. Unfortunately, being that they are such crooks, they don't want to pass up the opportunity to off them anyway - but since Ms. van Dorn did her job, it becomes time for Batman to do his...
- Happens in the episode "The Trial" when the babies do this to find out who broke Tommy's favorite clown lamp with Tommy being the judge and Angelica being the persecutor. They soon realize it was Angelica who broke the lamp and she even admits it and gloats loud enough that the adults hear her.
- In another episode "Pickles vs. Pickles", Angelica sues her parents for divorce after they force her to eat broccoli. The whole court is on Angelica's side and the judge even allows her to bring up her toys as witnesses. Luckily for Drew, it turns out it was All Just a Dream.
- The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: One of the plots of "Uncle Grubby" was Tweeg being taken to M.A.V.O. court to answer for his failures.
- The Dan Vs. episode "Dan vs Jury Duty". Antics include Chris being mistaken for an expert witness, Dan being disappointed that courtroom cases aren't as exciting as they are on TV, and Dan trying to prove the defendant's innocence after siding with him. It turns out that Dan is the one who committed the crime the defendant was accused of, although Dan didn't realize that.