Series / Judge Judy

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.
  • 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 litigant 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.
    • 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."
    • 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."
    • 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 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.
    • 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.
  • 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!"
    • "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!"
    • "Beauty fades, dumb is forever."
    • "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 
    • "Parties are excused, you may step out."note 
    • "What?! Where did you think you were going?! A tea party?!" or " a dance?!" or " 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."
    • "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!"
    • "(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 
    • "So what?"/"Who cares?"
    • "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 
    • "Put your hand down!"
    • Also, the occasional use of Yiddish terms, such as "bubbe meise."note 
  • 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 drug). 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?"
    • A noteworthy example which became a popular Internet meme afterward is Judge Judy making the "L" hand gesture (for "loser").
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. In a case from circa 2002, the plaintiff sued a fellow moviegoer for pouring a soft drink over his head. The defendant admitted she'd done it but said she'd done it out of frustration because the plaintiff and his guest arrived late, then proceeded to talk throughout the picture and insulted her when she asked them to be quiet. In this case, it was the plaintiff who came off looking like the bigger Jerkass, since, although he corroborated the defendant's story, he steadfastly claimed he was an innocent victim and denied any culpability in the incident. The plaintiff won the case but was awarded only a fraction of the several thousands of dollars he had been suing for, as although Judge Judy did not condone the defendant's actions, she shared the defendant's disgust at the plaintiff's rude behavior in the theater and further told the plaintiff 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.
  • 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 had unclean hands by breaking the drinking law; therefore, her case 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • 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?