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Somebody does something stupid or amazing; another character (or several), who witnessed the event, holds up a sign with the score. Frequently, the sign comes from nowhere
; a table might be provided as well. The score can be anything, but it's usually high— a common gag is for one of the judges to award a 6, only to realize they had it upside down and switch to a 9. A lot of times, the score goes Up to Eleven
—literally. And then sometimes the score doesn't even make any sense, such as in the picture provided here.
In works with international judge panels, there will often be a judge who's stereotypically hard to impress—back in the day, it was the Soviet judge, and in food competitions it's usually the French
judge. Reality TV
shows favour the Mean Brit
(e.g. Simon Cowell
This comes from the world of sports, like figure skating and gymnastics, where athletes' scores are announced by having the judges hold up signs with numbers on them. Or at least, that's the trope— nowadays, they just punch numbers into a computer.
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Anime & Manga
- A moment with the "punch in numbers" modern version in Iron Wok Jan; at the end of the second major tournament arc, the last judge is unable to enter a score due to an ostrich attack sending everyone running. One of the chefs punches in the numbers he thinks Jan deserves, and they call it a day.
- In Bamboo Blade, Sayako tells a sob story about why eventual Sixth Ranger Azuma Satori had to give up kendo and can't join the team. Saya's teammates, unimpressed with her tale, all rate her story a 3 out of 10.
- Chapter 47 of Urusei Yatsura has Cherry making an Incredibly Lame Pun (rendered in Viz's Woolseyfied translation as "We would know your powers, oh demon! How about demon-strating a few of them?") to which Sakura, Lum, and Shinobu responded by holding up signs reading "2", "3", and "2" (respectively).
- Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Abridged: After ordering four iced teas, and drinking them in unison, Jotaro and the gang are scored. Everyone gives them perfect scores, except for Germany (a 7.4).
Joeseph: Oh, f*** you, Germany!
- In Retro Chill, Rupert, Earl, and Bob give Retro a 10, 9.5, and 9 for his attempt to get the aliens to shut up.
"Hey, I beat my old record."
Films — Animation
- The "Silly Job Interview" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, at around 3:28. Originally written for the one-off How to Irritate People with Tim Brooke Taylor in the Graham Chapman role.
- In "Famous Deaths," Genghis Khan gets a 28.1 score (9.3, 9.7, and 9.1).
- Spoken rather than held up, but on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Danny Messer's failed attempt at a Quip to Black gets graded poorly by Detective Flack.
- Top Gear used this in the Motoring Ashes challenge. Richard Hammond managed to mix up the cards trying to give a score of 1.1 and instead gave them an 11.
- Occurs at the end of each ball in Cirqus Voltaire is "Fun With Bonus", when three judges hold up scorecards that affect the player's bonus score.
- During his WCW days, pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page would have his valet Kimberly hold up scorecards whenever he executed a particularly effective move. Naturally, winning the match earned him a "10."
- During the NBA dunk contest, it's gotten so ridiculous that, although there are official judges whose scores are the only ones who count, most of the fans in the stands will have score signs as well to show their approval.
- Used on Futurama during the Miss Universe pageant. One of the judges is Zapp Brannigan, who holds up his room number instead.
- Teen Girl Squad did this once, for a contest of, apparently, diving into a lion's mouth. One of the girls got a two (and was thus "TWO'd"), and another got a score of "Three noses?".
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Lawn Gnome Beach Party of Terror!" (pictured above), where Phineas enters a surfing contest and gets a score so high it causes one judge to reconsider Einstein's theory of relativity!
- In one episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, several of the kids were holding a gymnastic competition on the playground, and a few of the kids played the judges complete with the score cards (notably, Kevin). On Ed's turn, he epic fails his run, causing him to crash into things, fly several dozens of feet in the air and land face flat on the ground. Kevin's rating: d0rk.
- In one episode of Pepper Ann, the title character tries Playing Sick in front of her mother at breakfast so she can get the day off school. As she coughs and moans pathetically, her younger sister holds up scorecards judging her performance.
- In the Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot episode "Stand Up and Cheer," the judges at a talent show use cards with either a heart or a storm cloud on them.
- There's an episode of The Fairly Oddparents in which Timmy dives into a pool and gets marks, including a low mark from a kid dressed up like a stereotypical Russian. Timmy then uses one of the cards to cover his modesty when his swimming trunks fall off.
- In another episode, Timmy and Crocker are trying to replace the money that Crocker spent after Cosmo gave him a stolen pot of leprechaun gold. Timmy enters a figure skating competition and two of the judges give him a 10, but Crocker gives him an F due to force of habit.
- Sadlygrove does this at one point in episode 4 of Wakfu. He's judging Evangelyne, so unsurprisingly he gives her a 10.
- In The New Batman Adventures episode "Beware the Creeper", when The Joker throws talk host Jack Ryder into a vat of chemicals (leading to the creation of The Creeper), he gets score signs from Harley Quinn and his henchmen.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On," Discord magically creates an ice-skating rink and then has clones of himself judging his skating. Naturally, they all give him a 10.
- The episode "Leap of Faith" has three ponies judging a swim meet. Lyra fills the role of "extremely tough judge"; even when she tries to give a 10, she holds the card upside-down.
- In an old Cartoon Network bumper, I.M. Weasel jumps off a diving board into a pool and the judges give him all tens. I.R. Baboon falls off and lands flat on his face on the ground and he gets all zeroes. The judges then flip their cards to form the Cartoon Network checkerboard logo.
- Occurs in one of the non-canon super-deformed shorts for Avatar: The Last Airbender. After Aang makes a giant arrow in the sky, Momo gives Aang a six, which turned out to be upside-down, so he flips it around. Appa does the same, except he gave Aang an 8.
Serious Examples (examples with actual judges)
Films — Live-Action
- The Brady Bunch Movie did this with the judges from the talent competition. They were the only ones who liked their act — everybody else at the show hated them.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire featured Barty Crouch (with Percy Weasley filling in for him in the second task and Cornelius Fudge in the third), Ludo Bagman, and the three magical school headmasters as judges for the Triwizard Tournament. Igor Karkaroff was the hard-to-please judge, blatantly favoring his student with high scores.
- This is the basis of one of the puzzles in Escape from Monkey Island. Three judges score you in a diving competition against a resident champion. Winning is achieved by finding out how to impress each of the judges and also sabotaging the competition.
- The pizza competitions in Pizza Tycoon are judged like this.
- Slam Poetry works in this way. The judges are selected from the audience and given dry-erase boards.