Series / Judge Judy

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"I'd like ten million people to hear that you've done something stupid. That's my joy in life."
Real cases. Real people. Judge Judy.

The mediator persona is real, and her name is Judith Sheindlin.

As an experienced family and criminal court judge, the titular Judge Judy conducts her courtroom with a sharp wit and a sharper tongue, evaluating legal disagreements between some of the worst human garbage imaginable who couldn't land a spot on Jerry Springer. The standard episode sees Judy hearing the testimony of both parties (peppered 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 — though she was a real judge for many years — is not officially acting a judge. 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 officially an arbiter (a third party whose decision both parties in the dispute agree to accept). Also, the settlement is paid by the show itself, though Judy has the power to determine how much of the remainder (if any) goes to the litigants themselves. While this may sound like cheap justice, several litigants have found that a fifteen-minute appearance on Judge Judy is enough to ruin their reputations forever.

Spawned a whole bunch of judge shows; however, it was not the originator of the judge show — that honor belongs to The People's Court, which premiered fifteen years before the show in 1981 (and starred Sheindlin's husband Jerry from 1999-2001).

In 2014, Sheindlin created another court show called Hot Bench, which is similar to her own show but uses a three-judge panel, similar to and inspired by the court system in Ireland. Sheindlin is not one of the judges, although she has appeared on a few episodes as a guest judge (as has her husband). Interestingly, Hot Bench was the original working title of Sheindlin's own show, as she initially didn't like the title Judge Judy. The three judges on Hot Bench are retired justices Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero and lawyer Tanya Acker; Sonia Montejano is the bailiff and previously served in that same capacity on Judge Joe Brown.

Contains examples of the following:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Occasionally, someone gets a genuine laugh out of the judge. Including one little girl who told Judge Judy she wasn't beautiful because she was "old."
    • Her Honor also once started to laugh when the plaintiff's dog (who was allegedly attacked by the defendant's dog and was brought into court by its owners) started barking while the defendant was giving testimony, and the plaintiff's witness, who was holding the dog in his lap, quipped, "That doesn't mean we lost the case, did it?" This elicited a laugh from everyone, including Judge Judy. The plaintiffs did win the case.
    • In at least one episode, a litigant accidentally referred to Judge Judy as "Sir" and quickly corrected himself. She laughed it off and admitted it comes with her personality.
  • Appeal to Flattery: Some litigants try this with Judge Judy. It never works.
    Plaintiff: By the way, Your Honor, you look beautiful today.
    Judge Judy: Don't go there, Mr. Missry, because that'll be the fastest way for you out the door, sir.
  • As the Good Book Says...: In one early case, a defendant began quoting Scripture to justify her case. Her Honor swiftly cut her off.
    Judge Judy: I don't care what the Word of God says. This is a court. Don't preach to me.
  • Asshole Victim: It's a court show. It's inevitable.
  • Berserk Button: Judge Judy has several. Most of these can be avoided with simple politeness and common courtesy:
    • Don't answer her questions with "Um" or some variant instead of "Yes" or "No."
      • Similarly, using a "filler word" such as "basically" will earn the litigant a scolding, as will excessive use of the word "like" as a filler.
      • Incorrect grammar or syntax - whether spoken or written (i.e. in evidence) - is another trigger. While she'll usually let instances of a litigant saying "I seen" instead of "I saw" go without comment, more egregious grammatical mistakes - such as saying "tooken" instead of "taken" - will invariably result in the judge making the speaker/writer look like a fool. In addition, she'll often moan and offer a comment about how America is going down the toilet because people no longer know how to write or speak properly.
    • Don't interrupt her, unless you want to hear one of her favorite catchphrases (see below).
    • Likewise, keep your mouth shut while the other side is testifying. A number of litigants have had their cases dismissed because they couldn't keep from interrupting their adversary's testimony with, for example, "That's a lie!" Similarly, talking to your adversary during the proceedings also makes the dismissal of your case very probable, as Monika Lahai, the infamous "bleach lady" (see Disproportionate Retribution), learned the hard way.
      • In another case, the plaintiff didn't even wait for the case to start - or for Judge Judy to emerge from chambers - before he began trash-talking the defendant openly in court. When Judge Judy sat down at her bench, the first words out of her mouth to the plaintiff, before even beginning with the case, were, "You're an idiot."
    • Don't try obfuscating stupidity; she will swiftly cut you down with some variant of these two lines: "Either you're playing dumb or it's not an act" or "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."
    Judge Judy: Don't give me the dumb routine. If you're dumb, I'll know you're dumb. If you give me a dumb routine, I know it's a dumb routine. I know the difference, sir.
    • Don't wear extremely revealing, or extremely casual, clothing to court. As she sometimes puts it, (paraphrased) "Dress like it's a funeral, because it is. Yours."
    Judge Judy: [to a teenage defendant wearing a midriff-baring top] Someone who doesn't know that their shirt is supposed to meet their pants when they come to court is not going to tell me the truth!
    • Don't look away from her when testifying. If you do, she will swiftly remind you, "Try looking at me," or "Keep your eyes on my eyes."
    • Don't pour a glass of water (from the pitchers on both litigants' podiums) while she is talking to you or without asking permission first. If you're thirsty, she will tell you when you can have a glass of water.
    • Don't call her "Judy" to her face. If you do, she will swiftly interrupt and remind you that you're not friends, and this isn't a talk show; therefore you cannot be on a first-name basis.
    • Don't sue someone, and then not bring the relevant documents, such as suing your landlord and then not bringing the lease; if you do that, expect a tongue-lashing about your idiocy. i.e. "Where'd you think you were coming today, to the beach?"
    • Don't sue your landlord and then it gets revealed that you continued to stay in the place without paying monthly rent out of protest. Any chance of winning the case once that is known is slim to none, because Judge Judy hates squatters. Expect also to be the recipient of one of her trademark catch phrases: "You ate the steak."
    • Don't come into court with unclean hands (for example, suing someone for the return of property or money you stole from someone else, as one young couple attempted to do). In most cases, your case will be swiftly dismissed, because courts don't help people who break the law.
    • Don't come to court late. In a case aired May 7, 2018, Judy spent as much time chewing out the defendant for coming to court late (a producer actually had to pick up the defendant and bring him to court) as she did on the issue at hand.
    • Don't come to court drunk or high. In a case aired circa 2012, the defendant came to court drunk, and the judge had to wait for him to sober up before she could hear the case. She was not happy, and did not hesitate to let him know.
      • Drunk or stoned litigants annoy Judge Judy because (besides the obvious) she can't ask a litigant questions if she believes he or she is in an "altered" state of mind. On occasion she has actually halted a case and asked a litigant who was acting loopy to submit to a drug test. If the litigant refuses, she won't continue with the case and will dismiss it without prejudice.
    • Do not play with your papers. On at least one occasion, Judge Judy has had Byrd confiscate the documents of a litigant who could not keep from shuffling them around.
    • Don't contradict your written complaint or response in your in-court testimony. Since both are provided under oath, one has to be a lie.note 
    • Do not attempt to show her a signed affidavit.
    • Similarly, don't try to introduce hearsay as evidence ("You can't tell me what he/she told you. That's hearsay.") or begin a sentence with "He/she knew that..." ("Don't tell me what he/she knew. That calls for the operation of his/her mind.")
      • In the 06/30/2017 case, the judge actually responded to a plaintiff who kept ignoring her requests not to introduce hearsay as evidence by cutting her off and dismissing her case right then and there.
    • Don't bring a witness to court unless they're directly involved with your case. Otherwise, Judge Judy will quickly identify your witness as somebody "just here to annoy me," and unfailingly treats this classification as the first order of business.
  • Blatant Lies: Lots of people try to pull this, but as a "truth machine," Judy has none of it.
  • Brainless Beauty: Litigants like the "rocket science" girl, who say a lot of stupid things but certainly look nice while saying them.
  • 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.
  • But We Used a Condom: Said to a woman who claimed she got pregnant despite using contraception: "Well, I suggest you sue the birth control company, because it failed."
  • 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."
    • On more than one occasion, the judge has actually sent - or at least announced that she would send - a copy of the case in question to law enforcement in the litigants' jurisdiction if she's convinced that a litigant got away with some wrongdoing. This has included, on varying occasions, submitting cases to Child Protective Services involving neglectful parents and requesting that one defendant who had been stopped for speeding (once while drunk) - and then subsequently used her cousin's name, forcing her cousin to take the punishment for her - have her driver's license confiscated by the LAPD.
  • 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."
    • "Don't speak to me until I speak to you!"
    • "This is my playpen!"
    • "You're an idiot!"
    • "Answer my question!"
    • "'Um' is not an answer!"
      • Or, if the litigant's answer begins with "Judge Judy..." or "Your Honor...": "That was a question. Answer the question. Don't say 'Judge Judy'. I know who I am."
    • "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!"
    • "Stop playing with your papers!"
    • "The questions are going to get harder." note 
    • "Don't try to figure out where I'm going. Just answer my questions truthfully." - often used in conjunction with, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to have a good memory."
    • "I'm not a therapist. I don't like people well enough to be a therapist." note 
    • "Beauty fades, dumb is forever."
    • "You got into a kerfuffle."
    • "If this were Pinocchio, your nose would be growing."
    • "They don't keep me up here because I look good."
    • "You know when teenagers are lying? When their mouths are moving."
    • "That's all.", "Step out!", or more recently, "We're done!" note 
    • "Order! All rise! Your Honor, this is case number XXX in the matter of XXX vs. XXX. Parties have been sworn in, Judge. [to audience] You may be seated." note 
    • "Parties are excused, you may step out." note 
    • "What?! Where did you think you were going?! A tea party?!" or "...to a dance?!" or "...to a tea dance?!" etc.note 
    • "I know EXACTLY who you are!"
    • "I'm like a truth machine. Someone starts to lie and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up."
    • "I've been in this business for 40 years."
    • "There's something wrong with you."
    • "You're a hustler!"
    • "If you interrupt again, your case is dismissed, and I'm throwing you out. Do you understand?"
    • "I don't care about how you feel. Your feelings are irrelevant to me. If you want to talk about your feelings, go on Dr. Phil."
    • "You're as thick as this table!"
    • "RIDICULOUS!"
    • "You say no, I say yes; I win, I'm the judge."
    • "I'm old; I can only do one thing at a time. Otherwise I get confused and then I can't trick you."
    • "(You look like a fool, etc.) in front of ten million people."
    • "Don't (or "You can't") tell me what he/she/they said."note 
    • "Don't (or "You can't") tell me what he/she/they knew."note 
    • "I don't care what you think."note 
    • "Have you ever been psychiatrically hospitalized? Are you on any psychotropic drugs?" note 
    • "So what?"/"Who cares?"
    • "If you want to make a fool of yourself, I'm more than happy to let you." note 
    • "Believe me, you are not that eager for me to embarrass you." note 
    • "That's not happening." note 
    • "Don't go off into tributaries. Just stay right there in that river." note 
    • "You ate the steak!"note 
    • "You can't do that!"note 
    • "I can't help you."note 
    • "Put your hand down!"
    • "Get to the point. I have other cases to do today."note 
    • Also, the occasional use of Yiddish terms, such as "bubbe meise."note 
    • While not a catch phrase per se as it isn't verbal, barely an episode goes by without Judge Judy rapping on her desk to get the attention of a litigant who is talking out of turn, interrupting her, or otherwise not listening.
  • Cool Old Lady: Usually subverted with Judge Judy, as she often makes jokes about her failure to stay up to date with popular culture (e.g. in a 2013 case, she had to ask what a tablet - as in iPad - was and remarked afterward she thought the litigant was referring to a pill). This makes it all the funnier when she gets a pop culture reference right, because it will usually be used in a tongue-in-cheek way and/or with a side question to Byrd: "Did I get that right?"
  • Courtroom Antics: The Judge herself will often disrupt the proceedings to offer her opinions about her clients or society in general. She's not above asking litigants non-rhetorical questions and then shouting them down when they try to answer.
  • Creepy Monotone: With emphasis on creepy. One case where the plaintiff's husband sat quietly with a blank, expressionless stare, until he interrupted the defendant in the middle in the episode with "You lied about it" with a tone so creepy that everything felt silent as he said it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Her Honor and participants have their moments.
    • Her Honor during a case involving a harmed dog.
      Judge Judy: Are you nervous? Do I make you nervous?
      Plaintiff: A little bit.
      Judge Judy: Perfect.
    • A case involving a destroyed couch.
      Judge Judy: Is this your first time in Los Angeles?
      Defendant: You bet.
      Judge Judy: Are you having a good time?
      Defendant: Not right now.
    • However, the judge is usually quick to cut down litigants who try this with her. A typical Judge Judy reaction to Deadpan Snarker litigants is something along the lines of: "Listen here, fresh mouth, I'm the only one here who makes jokes," or, "Listen. This is not an audition, and I already have the job."
      Judge Judy: [to one particularly snarky litigant] The name of the program is Judge Judy. One day, if you are deemed amusing enough, you may be given your own program.
  • Dirty Coward: Several times, especially when the person who represents the plaintiff or defendant is not the sole person responsible for the incident. For example, in the case of Kelli Filkins, the defendant known as the "eBay scammer," the fraudulent listing was the work of Filkins and her husband but Filkins came alone. Judy castigated the absent husband for throwing his wife to the lions.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Some of the cases that come to Judge Judy's court are a result of this. One example includes a woman who thought her husband was cheating on her, so her response was to pour bleach all over his jeans (as opposed to, for example, confronting him about it).
    • Judge Judy will very quickly lower the boom on litigants who use calls to Child Protective Services, DCFS, DFS etc. to accomplish this.
    Judge Judy: Calling Child Protective Services is like calling 911. You call 911 when you feel as if there is some emergency, when you feel as if somebody is being threatened, when you feel as if somebody is being placed at risk. Now I'm not saying that those things weren't the case with these allegations that were made, by whomever they were made, but it should be made a FELONY in every jurisdiction, a very serious crime, for people to use calls to Child Protective Services in order to either incite, or resolve, or for retaliation, or for retribution, about some other issue, because they have limited enough resources at Child Protective Services to investigate REAL allegations of neglect and abuse. And when people use that Child Protective hotline for other reasons, it INFURIATES me, and if it was MY world, THEY'D BE IN JAIL, if that's what they're using the hotline for!
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The judge has little patience with litigants who respond to her tongue-lashings with laughter. "What are you laughing at, you idiot?!"
    • In one memorable case, Her Honor ruled against a defendant for filing false abuse charges against her ex as a ploy to get sole custody of the couple's child. The defendant had been unable to stop herself from giggling throughout the whole cross-examination and continued to laugh after Judge Judy announced her ruling, leading the judge to pause as she was returning to chambers and give the defendant an extra tongue-lashing. After it was over, the defendant wasn't laughing anymore.
      Judy: I don't know why you find it funny. I don't find it funny, actually, I find it very sad. Because if what you're telling me is that since this all happened, he's been on a supervised visitation schedule, you, madam, are outrageous!
    • Her Honor will also sometimes admonish audience members for laughing too loud. On at least one occasion she has Byrd eject people in the audience for just this reason.
  • Dumb Blonde:
  • The Easy Way or the Hard Way: Played straight on occasion with Judge Judy, usually with a litigant who's blatantly lying or not giving her a straight answer to a question. "The hard way" will involve the judge's making the litigant look like a fool.
  • Embarrassing Ringtone: A plantiff's witness's phone went off in the middle of Judge Judy's ruling. The ringtone was a crowing rooster. Her Honor mocked him for it while she was chewing him out for not turning it off.
    Judge Judy: And how do you think everyone in the audience turned theirs off? By telepathy?
  • Emphasize EVERYTHING: The Opening Narration is clear about many things. Such as, "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!"
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • A defendant once asserted that he didn't even know the first name of a bouncer he had hired to come to two of his parties.
      Judge Judy: I don't believe it. What do you call him, 'hey'?
      Defendant: We just call him Bouncer.
  • Evil Laugh: Judge Judy isn't evil but she tend to laugh cartoonishly evil when litigants says something stupid or lies poorly.
  • Exact Words: The technique used by some litigants to get around responsibility for this or that action. For example, one defendant 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."
  • Genre Blind:
    • There are many plaintiffs and defendants who lack basic courtroom etiquette, like providing evidence, waiting for their turn to speak, speaking formally instead of in slang, dressing appropriately, and so on.
    • Occasionally lampshaded.
      Plaintiff: Your Honor, there was...
      Judge Judy: Just a second, listen to me. Does it sound like you're losing? I know you want to have your fifteen minutes, but I've already done the fifteen minutes with him!
  • Get Out: Occasionally used by Judge Judy, usually with litigants who don't follow her instructions to not talk while she or the other litigant is speaking. As in this instance, it will often result in the offending litigant's case being instantly dismissed.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Judge Judy's first objective, before entertaining, is to find the truth. It doesn't mean that she won't have biting comments for everyone involved, especially if the person who is owed money isn't free of culpability extraneous to the particular case she is overseeing.
  • HA HA HA – No: Occasionally her honor will pretend to laugh only to then lay down the law.
  • 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.
    Judge Judy: Your hot temper started this whole mess! My hot temper's gonna finish it!
  • Hypocrite: When Joseph Wapner criticized 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.
  • Implausible Deniability: Most of the defendants pull this and they are inevitably answered by one of Her Honor's catchphrases.
    Judge Judy: You know what my father used to say to me? He used to say to me, "Don't pee on my leg and tell it's raining."
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: This idiot's epic fail at least amused her Honor and everyone else. The gist of it is that the plaintiff sued the defendants for stealing her purse and listed some of its contents. One of the defendants then denied that one of the items was in there, and in the process, admitted that they stole the plaintiff's purse and went through it.
  • Informed Judaism: Her Honor, who is Jewish, often peppers her cross-examinations with Yiddish terms and phrases.
  • Insult to Rocks: Used to describe a particularly annoying defendant.
    Judge Judy: [The defendant]'s got the moral character of an amoeba. Well amoebas may be alright, I don't know about amoebas. I'm apologizing to the amoebas, I don't wanna hear from any amoeba lovers, don't write me letters don't send me emails.
  • Jerkass: Her Honor herself, who always speaks her mind, regardless of the litigants' feelings. Then again, the truth hurts.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The whole point of the show, with Judge Judy herself as the "jerkass". She's harsh, argumentative, and rude. She frequently insults the intelligence of plaintiffs and defendants alike. She is in a position of authority and has no problem with reminding people of this. But, given the types of people she has to deal with on her show (people who can't follow simple instructions like bringing necessary legal documents after being told to bring them in advance, defendants who tell obvious lies and somehow expect an educated judge not to see through them, plaintiffs who sue people when the defendants have better reason to sue them, etc.), she's actually justified in her behavior because, unlike your average everyday rational person who can be reasoned with by logic and civility, the people who appear on her show are so perpetually clueless that nothing but jerkass behavior will wake them up to reality.
    • This trope also on occasion applies with the litigants themselves, when Judge Judy admonishes a litigant for doing the wrong thing but admits she can understand why they did it. One example is, from circa 2002, the case of a woman who was being sued for pouring a soft drink over the plaintiff's head in a movie theater. She said she'd done it because the plaintiff and his guest refused to stop talking during the movie (after arriving late to boot) and insulted her the first time she asked them to be quiet. Judge Judy made it clear that the defendant had no right to act as she did, but also admonished the plaintiff - who insisted he was an innocent victim and had done nothing wrong - for his rude behavior and ended up awarding him only a fraction of the several thousand dollars he was suing for, further advising him to seek psychiatric help.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Judge Judy sometimes shows a softer side. Her tone of voice is much kinder when a litigant is mature and respectful, and is especially so in cases where innocent children are victimized (although not to those who victimized said children).
  • Karma Houdini: 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. This case is a complicated example. While those who do wrong don't suffer monetary consequences note  they suffer big in terms of dignity; millions of television viewers worldwide will get to see how inhuman they really are. Being plastered all over the media and having the nation know who you are can make your life hell if you're good, like Oliver Sipple who saved Gerald Ford's life and got ruined by the publicity. If you're bad, like that one defendant who committed identity theft on her own sister and insisted she did nothing wrong, everyone you know and care about could turn on you after learning what you did. Another case would be Kelli Filkins, the defendant known as the "eBay scammer." Appearing on Judge Judy was the worst thing she ever did; the negative publicity resulting from her amoral behavior ruined her. Try having a positive personal life after that.
    • Plaintiffs get chastised for their bad behavior as often as defendants do, and sometimes end up losing their cases because of it, as in the case of the teenage girl who sued her ex-boyfriend for wrecking her car while acting as a designated driver so she could drink underage (the plaintiff broke the law by drinking underage; therefore, she had unclean hands, and her claim was dismissed), or the woman who sued her lover's husband for damaging her car but ended up losing the case because of alienation of affection when she admitted she'd continued seeing her lover even after she found out he was married.
      • There have been cases in which Judge Judy has had to rule in favor of a litigant whose behavior she found morally reprehensible because she had no choice. When this happens, she's quick to let the winning party know that she doesn't believe he or she deserves the judgment and is only ruling as she is because her hands are tied. On occasion, though, the monetary awards she has given to such litigants have been humorously miniscule - one young woman who had been driving recklessly through a residential neighborhood and who had been suing a neighbor for pummeling her car to get her to stop was awarded a verdict of... one dollar.
  • Klatchian Coffee: Judge Judy once halted a case because the plaintiff's behavior was so bizarre that the judge questioned whether the plaintiff was drunk or on drugs and asked her to submit to a drug test before she would continue with the case. The drug test came back clean, but the plaintiff admitted to having had five shots of espresso before coming to court. Judge Judy advised her to curb her coffee consumption.
  • Kubrick Stare: Judge Judy directs these and Death Glares at litigants who are demonstrating unusual dishonesty, stupidity, or are otherwise trying her patience.
  • Laxative Prank: One defendant pulls a variation of this, giving a cookie laced with marijuana instead of a laxative to the plaintiff. Judge Judy is not amused, pointing out that this is assault, not a prank.
  • Living Lie Detector: Judge Judy herself is, in her own words, a "Truth Machine". 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 spoke up in her defense when the judge didn't believe her, confirming that yes, she in fact did walk that distance every day, Judge Judy admitted her mistake and apologized. This rarely ever happens. Generally speaking, Judge 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.
  • Love Makes You Crazy:
    Judge Judy: People do stupid things when they're in love. That's why I've been in business so long.
  • Mama Bear: Having worked in family court for decades prior to starting the show, it's no surprise that Judge Judy is a fierce advocate for young people. Here's one example.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: When she's not in the courtroom, Judge Judy's a sweet grandmother.
  • Never Lend to a Friend:
    • A lot of the cases involve the plaintiff suing a former friend for an unpaid loan. The defendant's usual defense will be "it was a gift, not a loan," such as in this case. Judge Judy almost always rules in favor of the plaintiff, as well as giving them the advice: "Never lend money to anybody. As soon as you lend money, you become the bad guy."
    • This also works in reverse when a plaintiff who gave the defendant gifts as part of a relationship sues for recompense after the relationship ends, claiming it was actually a loan. These cases almost invariably fail, since proving a loan requires certain paperwork which the plaintiff doesn't have.
      • "You know when a gift becomes a loan? When the relationship is over."
  • Never Mess with Granny: Judge Judy is one of the most intimidating people on television (that isn't sports related). She's tough as nails and doesn't take crap from anyone, no matter what person she has to deal with.
  • Never My Fault: Almost everybody that appears denies fault. Even when Judge Judy rips them to shreds either by exposing their lies or by throwing the law in their face, quite a bit of them will continue to deny that they did anything wrong.
  • New Media Are Evil: Invoked in one episode in which Judge Judy offered this interpretation of the social networking website MySpace:
    Judge Judy: MySpace is one of those Internet sites where people who have nothing better to do with their time go and chat about a whole bunch of nonsense. ... You know, I've always said we could eliminate probably about a third of the problems in this country if people actually had to shovel coal in a furnace for heat, instead of wasting their time doing things other than the useful things for which computers were designed.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Judge Judy has never once been swayed by litigants who are in short skirts or low-cut tops. In past years, if the outfit was particularly ridiculous, she would send them out to either change or find something to cover up with. She rarely if ever does this anymore, though she's certainly not above making snarky comments about a person's attire. For example, in one case, she obviously disapproved of the attire of a very scantily-clad young woman, but she just asked sarcastically, first-off, "Would you like a shawl?", and then let the matter go after no response was forthcoming, and continued with the hearing.
    • In another case, the defendant's sister came to court wearing a suit/skirt combo in which the skirt was so short that her jacket came down lower than the skirt. When Judy questioned her about it, the defendant's sister replied that she'd assumed the outfit was appropriate since she'd bought it at a business apparel store (which prompted the comment from Byrd, "Must be a different kind of business"). Judy asked the witness if she'd wear such an outfit to church, and when the defendant admitted she wouldn't, Judy commented, "I just wanted to see where your head was at," and continued with the case.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Whenever the Judge drops her combative tone and speaks softly, it's either because she's really and truly pissed off or she genuinely feels for whomever she's addressing. The latter is especially evident when she's addressing children and (some) teenagers, because she dealt with a lot worse when she was a judge in Manhattan Family Court and is genuinely a Mama Bear for young people who have been genuinely handed a bad lot in life.
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: Lots of stupid people appear on this show and try to fool Judge Judy. In the end, they "(look like a fool, etc.) in front of ten million people."
  • Quit Your Whining: Judge Judy is unmoved by litigants who try to evoke her sympathy by going into tearful hysterics or by pouring out their life stories if a case isn't going their way. To the latter, she'll remind them that she's not a therapist and if they want someone to listen to their tales of woe, they can go on Dr. Phil. To the former, she'll tell them not to get hysterical, and if they still won't calm down, she'll swiftly dismiss their cases and throw them out.
    Judge Judy: [to a plaintiff in hysterical tears about the destruction of her grandmother's china] I want you to stop getting hysterical over NOTHING! ... It was a misunderstanding!
    Plaintiff: No!
    Judge Judy: You say no, I say yes; I win, I'm the judge. Goodbye.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She may be harsh, but Judy’s job is a judge and she doesn’t take anyone’s side. She’s only to help who’s in the right or wrong, meaning regardless on who’s the plaintiff or the defendant. It’s her job to be impartial, and while she does make a final decision, she has to hear both sides of the case before doing so. (Unless she only hears one side before ruling against them. To be fair, this is only when she's determined that a litigant's conduct was so egregiously wrong that there is little or no need to hear the other side - for example, a plaintiff who comes to court with unclean hands.)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: What Judge 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. Judge 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.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: The infamous "rocket science" girl is from Alamo, California, a very affluent San Francisco suburb, and definitely comes across this way. She doesn't seem to comprehend that a good person would replace a friend's property she damaged accidentally or not respond to a rhetorical question.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Judy makes a comment about "rocket science", which the defendant interprets as a request for information, as quoted under Dumb Blonde.
  • Rousseau Was Right: There are quite a few cases wherein the people more or less are at an agreement that something needs to be done, they're just trying to figure out who owes how much and what they should do, and are going to Judy to have her act as an arbiter (and getting a check in the process).
    • One case featured a dog mauling that resulted in the death of a chihuahua. Both the plaintiff and the defendant admitted fault on their parts (not watching their dogs, not doing enough to prevent digging, not intervening in time), and the plaintiff was trying to keep the defendant from losing his dogs too. Judy found them both liable for 50/50 of the vet bills, which they both nodded at and agreed to.
    • A customer accidentally broke a glass bird bath, and paid for it. However, the owner wanted her to pay more (the sticker price) rather than the cost of the supplies (which they both agreed to). The mother went on the show to prove a point about honesty to her kids.
  • Shout-Out: Judge Judy once referenced a Johnny Carson skit from The Tonight Show while admonishing a teenage defendant for his bad behavior and letting him know he'd be in for misfortunes including, but not limited to, having several children with several different women and being jailed for non-payment of child support, unless he straightened his life out.
    Judge Judy: All these things, Mr. Beresford, are in your future. Carnac sees it!
  • 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.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: As a former smoker herself, Judge Judy knows how unhealthy it is and occasionally calls out parents for smoking around their children or in such a way that their kids could be exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: A lot of defendants try to pull this, but Judy undoubtedly sees through it.
  • Tagline:
    • "Real cases. Real people. Judge Judy."
    • "The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final." (used in the introduction of the show until the 2015-16 season)
    • "Want justice? [or "Are you in a family dispute?", "Have you been cheated?", etc.] Go to JudgeJudy.com. Like us on Facebook. And follow us on Twitter." note 
  • Teens Are Monsters:
    • Judge Judy is a staunch believer in this because the teens that typically appear on the show provide evidence for it.
      "I've raised several teenagers, so I know that the first thing that teenagers do when they open their mouths is lie."
    • That and she was a supervising judge in New York City's juvenile division during the late 80s and early 90s, when crack cocaine was an epidemic and the murder rate was the highest in the city's history. She saw the monsters up close and personal every day for years.
    • Averted when she discovers that some 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 by their influence.
  • There Is No Higher Court: Which is actually, unlike most iterations of this trope, Truth in Television — arbitration awards are, except on narrow grounds, unappealable.
    • On rare occasions, Judge Judy will dismiss a case without prejudice, particularly if she determines the case before her to be premature (for example, if it involves the outcome of an unresolved matter being heard in another court). Usually, however, when a case is dismissed, it is with prejudice and without appeal, even if the litigant has forgotten to bring the necessary evidence.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In her guest appearances on her series' spinoff show, Hot Bench, Judge Judy was considerably less snarky and vitrolic than on her own show. She even herself admitted, when deliberating with her colleagues, that she surprised herself at how much of a "softie" she'd become with regard to the case in question.
    • She's also much more likely to speak gently to children. And then turn around and tear anyone who wronged them a new one - including, at times, their parents, particularly if the child is very young. If a litigant's child is brought to court as a witness, she'll also usually have Byrd escort the child out of the courtroom right at the beginning, so that the child won't have to witness whatever tongue-lashings will be visited upon the adults in the case. On the other hand, teenagers are generally no safer from her wrath than full-grown adults - see Break the Haughty.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Invoked by Judge Judy with her "Blueberry Rule," which she explained in one episode in this way:
    Judge Judy: In my American education system, children who are disrupting the ability of the rest of the class to learn should be plucked out of the class and put in a school for disruptive children. That's what I think, in my world. It's my Blueberry Rule. ... I think common sense dictates that if you buy a quart of blueberries and all the blueberries are nice, plump, juicy blueberries and one of them is moldy, and you say, "You know what? The fair thing to do is to not take out this moldy blueberry and make it feel bad. I'm gonna leave this moldy blueberry in the box and hope that all the healthy blueberries will make it well." Now, I'm no spring chicken, and I've bought lots of blueberries in my time, including blueberries with a moldy blueberry. And it's been my experience that the moldy blueberry doesn't get well from the well blueberries. What happens is, all the blueberries get moldy. So that when you have a very small number of children who are disrespectful, who are impeding the teacher from teaching the other kids who want to say, "Can you be quiet? I want to learn! I don't want to grow up to be a dummy! I want to be able to say a whole sentence without using the word 'like'!" They can't do that, because we leave in the moldy blueberries instead of taking them out.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted. Judge Judy is impartial when it comes to genders. As she often says herself, "I am an ecumenical abuser."
    • This particularly shines through in cases involving two feuding parents in which the mother has taken some action to prevent the father from seeing the child. Her Honor is always quick to let the mother know, "Just because you're the mother and he's the father does not make you any more a parent than he is. This child has two parents, and the Supreme Court of every state in this country says that mothers have no greater right to custody than fathers."
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Some of the plaintiffs and/or defendants fit this description. One example: a teenager's mother whose daughter got a urinary tract infection and a plaintiff, a guest in their home, ended up taking her daughter to the hospital to have the infection treated. Then when the plaintiff was stuck with the medical bill, the teenager's mother refused to help pay the bill, showing a lack of gratitude to the plaintiff who got her daughter out of a jam when the teenager's mother didn't do it herself.
  • Unwanted Assistance: 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?"
  • What Does She See in Him?: Often invoked by Judge Judy in cases where two women are squaring off in a dispute over a man, especially if said man happens to be in court as a witness for one of the parties. It often involves Judy putting on her reading glasses and taking a good hard look at the man, muttering, "I must be missing something."
  • Yiddish as a Second Language:
    Judge Judy: [to plaintiff] You tell me one bubbe meise, I find everything else that you say to me suspect! [turns to Byrd] That's a "grandma story."
    Byrd: I know.
    Judge Judy: A "grandma story"! It refers to the stories grandmothers tell, when they tend to exaggerate! It means it's an untruth!
  • You Are the New Trend: Not the first court show, but its success opened the floodgates for dozens of new court shows over the past two decades, including a revival of the original courtroom reality show, The People's Court. This includes several others produced by Big Ticket Television, including Judge Joe Brown, Swift Justice (the second season featuring Judge Jackie Glass), and the current Hot Bench (created by Judge Judy herself).
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Her Honor invokes this on occasion when warning litigants to tell her the truth, or else.
    Judge Judy: [to a young football player being sued by his prom date for standing her up] If you lie to me, I'll wipe up the floor with you worse than anyone else who's ever tackled you.
  • Your Mom: Inverted by one lovable piece of work who claimed to have ten children by "about four" women and "your daughter." Judge Judy wasn't amused.
  • You're Insane!: Often invoked by Judge Judy when a litigant says something particularly ridiculous.
    Judge Judy: [to a defendant being sued by her cousin for incurring traffic fines while using the plaintiff's identity] Now, you have thirty seconds to tell me why you don't owe those fines!
    Defendant: Because I thought she [the plaintiff] was doing community service.
    Judge Judy: Are you out of your mind? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND?! She's NOT doing community service for you! Why should she do community service for you? What are YOU doing?

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/JudgeJudy