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Courtroom Episode

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OBJECTION! I intend to prove his innocence beyond a shadow of a Dot!

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 a boatload 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.)

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Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Kingdom of Clouds have three lengthy scenes in the Sky People's courtroom, with the denizens of the skies deciding on whether they should unleash another Great Flood on humanity, or not. Most of the film revolves around Doraemon and friends trying to convince the Sky People not to carry out the project in order to save the world below, but what's not helping is that various endangered animals collected by the Sky People (after being fitted with Translator Microbes) supports the operation, after losing their homes to human activities like poaching and deforestation.
  • In the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Togusa is accused of Police Brutality after repeatedly shooting a heavily cybernetic gunman.
  • Done in an episode of Panty And Stocking With Garter Belt, and just as insane as the rest of the series. The Anarchy Sisters are defended by a monkey lawyer.
  • Parodied in Ranma , with the case of the...missing takoyaki. Serious Business. Turns out everyone had one.
  • One episode of Space☆Dandy involves Dandy being put on trial for murder. Dandy manages to sleep through his own murder trial, not waking until the trial has ended.
  • One episode of Magi: Labyrinth of Magic sees Sinbad accused of sexually assaulting Ren Kougyoku while drunk, forcing the cast to hold an impromptu trial. In reality, it's a frame-up; Ka Kobun put them in bed together in the hopes of forcing Sinbad to marry Kougyoku.
  • Episode 8 of Little Witch Academia (2017) had the heroines in a courtroom in one of Sucy's dreams.
  • On two occasions in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Kaguya has had mental battles in her subconscious that are visualized as court cases, with her Superego as the prosecutor, her Id as the defense, and her Ego as the judge. Chapter 53 has her agonizing over whether to give Shirogane a birthday cake, and chapter 141 has her trying to figure out what her relationship with him is after giving him a french kiss during the culture festival.
  • The Whole Episode Flashback The Merchant of London in Moriarty the Patriot is set almost entirely in a courtroom or revolving around the events and contract that led to William and Louis suing a member of the aristocracy as young children (with a nice Framing Device).

    Asian Animation 
  • The Simple Samosa episode "Samosa Mama" is about Samosa being accused by none other than his rival Cham Cham of kidnapping Garlic, Mushroom, and Green Pepper and testifying in court for it. His friends help him to prove he's innocent of the kidnapping.

     Comic Books 
  • 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 Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) focused on trials 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.
  • The Spider-Man storyline, "The Trial of Peter Parker", which was part of The Clone Saga, dealt with trying to obtain Peter's innocence due to the fact that he was being blamed for murders perpetrated by Kaine due to the wonders of cloning.
  • In the 1980's The Flash had an extended storyline where Flash (Barry Allen) is put on trial for manslaughter after killing arch enemy Reverse Flash while stopping him from killing Barry Allen's fiance Fiona Webb just as he'd previously killed Barry's wife Iris years earlier. He actually hurt his own case, when his lawyer tried to reveal is Secret Identity to prove justifiable homicide. However, he'd had his face altered with Magic Plastic Surgery so Barry Allen wouldn't be sent to prison, just the Flash.
  • The Superman storyline The Trial of Superman had the Man of Steel captured by an intergalactic tribunal who seek to punish Superman for his ancestor Kem-El's role in the eradication of the Kryptonian race via the Eradicator device. Superman is ultimately found innocent and the one who sent the tribunal after Superman, the Cyborg Superman, is instead found guilty of his role in the destruction of Coast City.
  • In the Paperinik New Adventures issue "Fragments of Autumn" Lyla Lay, an android employed by the Time Police, is put on trial for shooting a colleague, and her close friend Paperinik is brought in as a witness. Normally, Lyla would just be immediately terminated, being a droid, but the UN had just given droids equal rights - and responsibilities. Gottfresh, the man who organized the trial, is strongly against droids, and hopes to use Lyla to prove they're untrustworthy. PK eventually finds evidence that Gottfresh had orchestrated the shooting in the first place, though that is far from the only mystery he stumbles into during the trial.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has "A Day at The Office", which has Calvin defend a man after his father gets knocked out by a skunk.
  • Don't Keep Your Distance has a scene where protagonist Paint and her friend (and Dr. Eggman's robot) Star are on trial for threatening her village's safety after she brings it home. It almost ends in her banishment and its execution until they are defended by the testimonies of their other friends.
  • In Chapter 10 of My Choices: Twisted Tales Through Time, Blue Star has to convince Equestria's Royal Court that her reforms are, despite Lady Blueblood's claims, actually beneficial to Equestria.
  • Turnabout Storm is essentially a huge one for the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic side of the cast, as it would be expected from the other side being from Ace Attorney.
  • After the events of Lost in the Woods, the Star Trek sections of its sequel No Good Deed focus on Picard on trial for violating the Prime Directive and committing genocide against the Reavers.
  • Time Fixers: Nicktoons of the Future has the episode "The Great Zappy Case" where Tammy and Tommy are put on trial in Fairy World and Darry acts as their lawyer to Clear Their Name.
  • Interlude 16 of My Family and Other Equestrians has Trixie being put on trial for, among other things, her usage of the Alicorn Amulet. She gets acquitted of everything but that, getting a two-year sentence.
  • Chapter 16 of Herding Cats revolves around Nepeta being tried for the attempted murder of Eridan. It's a Decoy Trial designed to get the two hooked up.
  • Chapter 57 of Moon Daughter: The judge and prosecutor are on the jury, and the prosecutor goes to jail after the defendant is found innocent.
  • Luigi has to go through this in Can a Boo Be Friends with a Human? upon the charge of destroying the Star Temple and killing a Power Star in the process, turning it into a Dark Star.
  • The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Other Smurfette" turned into one in the latter half of the story, where Hogatha as the female Smurf named Wonderette accuses Empath of raping her to have him framed and vilified among the Smurfs, with the only evidence being the dress Wonderette wore that she swore Empath had torn. However, in a Deus ex Machina moment where a mysterious Attorney Smurf appears and makes Hogatha confess who she really was in the disguise and that she was the one who raped Empath, Papa Smurf declared the court case a mistrial and that Empath was innocent of all charges against him.
  • Chapters 5 and 6 of Jackie Chan Adventures: Olympian Journey have Prometheus, Captain Black, and Jade versus Eris and Origami in a Humanity on Trial situation overseen by several minor deities tied to Athena's essence, to determine whether Hestia should aide the heroes or Eris in the quest for the godly essences. The case is officially unresolved due to the Pocket Dimension it takes place in dissolving before a verdict can be reached, but Hestia still offers her help to the heroes anyway.
  • Chapter 14 of For the Glory of Irk features Lor being put on trial for treason by the other Syndicate crew members after the real traitor frames him. Dib and the others crash it in order to use Q's psychic powers to expose the actual spy.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Chapter 25 of the sequel Picking Up the Pieces revolves around the trial/hearing of Captain-General Gentle Step after Internal Affairs' Commissioner has brought charges against her. It quickly descends into Courtroom Antics when the claimant starts demanding they ignore evidence and just charge her.
  • The Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Fifth Path features two Ace Attorney inspired side stories:
    • "Turnabout Desserts" centers around an unfortunate Ingrid being forced into the role of a Defense Attorney in order to get Sylvain acquitted of... stealing and eating Lysithea's cake.
    • "Turnabout Monster" once again puts Ingrid in the role of a Defense Attorney, this time to prove that Hapi did not summon a monster to destroy a stable.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: Chapter 11 sees Aldrich Coathanger suing Zim and his minions for stealing his Hard Light tech. Zim counters by brainwashing the City's District Attorney into representing him, who proceeds to flip the trial by using it to expose Aldrich's own criminal activities, causing the whole case to fall apart.

    Films Live Action 
  • In The People vs. Dr. Kildare, the eighth film in the Dr. Kildare series, Dr. Kildare is the defendant in a malpractice suit.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 McLain 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 Concrete Blonde from Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series 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.
  • Most of the Icelandic Sagas contain at least one, with plenty of fancy speeches and occasional bouts of Off on a Technicality.
  • The Accusers, the 15th installment in the Marcus Didius Falco series, focuses on the Roman legal system, with Falco even trying his hand at prosecution himself.
  • 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.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The X-Wing Series has The Krytos Trap, in which the person suspected of killing a main character to cover his tracks is put on trial. The trial quickly ends when the person he is suspected of killing shows up. In his defense.
  • War Crimes features the bad guy from ''Mists of Pandaria'' being put on trial. Poisoning and escape attempts included.
  • Similarly to the Icelandic sagas, The Long Ships contains a major arc detailing the events of the Thing at Kraka-stone.
  • The Overstory has two of them. The first is when Patricia Westerford, a scientist who studies the ecology of trees and forests, is asked to testify before a court about the effects of deforestation. The second comes near the end of the book when another of the main characters, Adam Appich, is tried for his Eco-Terrorist actions decades ago.
  • Isaac Asimov
    • Foundation Series' Foundation (1951):
      • "The Merchant Princes": Secretary Jorane Sutt puts Master Trader Hober Mallow on trial for murder because he knowingly allowed a priest of the Foundation to be taken by a mob who were clearly ready to kill the priest. After three off-screen days of the trial, taking place in a large forum called the council chambers, Mallow agreed to making it public, so not only is it crowded with everyone who could fit, the trial is also being broadcast to every planet under Foundation control. Today is Mallow's first opportunity to refute/rebut the prosecution's case, which he does by revealing the so-called priest was actually a Korellian agent pretending to be a Foundation priest, to justify the destruction of Mallow, his ship, and his crew. The crowd grows wild, and Mallow takes advantage of popular opinion to get himself elected Mayor of Terminus, making him the highest-ranked political figure in the Foundation.
      • "The Psychohistorians": Chapter 6: For three days, the prosecution, represented by the Commission's Advocate, harshly questioned Dr Seldon. It's implied that other evidence was given (explicit that Gaal Dornick provides almost zero information as a witness), and for all three days the courtroom is restricted to a select group who would all be hostile to the famed psychohistorian. When Dr Seldon, through charisma alone, intimidates the Advocate into briefly believing psychohistory's prediction of ruin, a recess is called.
      • "The Psychohistorians": Chapter 7: After yesterday's disruption of the courtroom, Dr Seldon and Gaal are in a room alone with the five judges from the trial. They insist that there is no trial, and offer cigarettes to demonstrate a friendly atmosphere. Make no mistake, though, Chief Commissioner Linge Chen is the one who dictates policy through a Puppet Emperor. Chen and Seldon come to a mutual understanding; Hari Seldon accepts exile for himself and his project, and they don't execute anyone.
    • "Galley Slave": Professor Ninheimer, of Northeastern University, is attempting to sue US Robotics (represented by Dr Calvin, Director Lanning, and CEO Robertson). The judge for the case, Justice Shane, has allowed for a closed-door trial, without a jury. United States Robots and Mechanical Men is being sued for causing damage to Ninheimer's reputation.

  • Battle Beast's "King for a Day" is a four-minute protest song about political corruption, with the video showing the band members deposing the king and putting him on trial.
  • The video for Billy Joel's "Keeping The Faith" has him on trial in Music Court.
  • "The Trial" from Pink Floyd's classic, The Wall.
  • Dee D. Jackson's disco Concept Album Cosmic Curves follows an unnamed Earthling travelling the galaxy in search of emotional connection. Eventually she is put on trial for treason for spreading her dangerous notion of "love", and the Title Track is a mini courtroom drama in which characters from previous songs testify against her. She is ultimately found guilty and cast into a black hole for her crimes.
  • N.W.As "Fuck Tha Police" portrays itself as the NWA trying the police department, with Dr. Dre as the judge, and Ice Cube, Eazy E, and M.C. REN as witnesses.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Reckless Driving" Miss Brooks defend herself in court for "speeding, going through a red light, reckless driving, driving on the sidewalk and hitting a fruit stand." The episode was remade as "Trial by Jury" on television.
  • 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.
  • The "Get Off With Life The Burkiss Way" episode of The Burkiss Way, in which the show is prosecuted on three charges of "being funny", thus contravening the BBC charter. The judge? Mr Justice Biggles, whose first action is to bomb the jury because he thought they might have been Hitler.
  • "The Trial" by Pigmeat Markham deals with a litigant on trial for nudity, parading the streets with no pants on. When the gent testifies, he's asked if he'd been married and if he had any children. He had been married three years and had nine children, so the judge dismisses his case. When the prosecutor protests the dismissal, the judge explains that "this man hasn't had time to put his pants on!"


    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Crossovers involving Ace Attorney tend to be this for the other franchises involved:
  • Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has a scene taking place in an informal outdoor court where Shinjiro is representing the Harlemites who oppose Steam Frontier's attempted gentrification of their neighborhood, with the company being represented by none other than his own teammate, famed lawyer Sagitta/Cheiron.
  • Super Mario Bros.:

    Visual Novels 
  • Daughter for Dessert contains a climactic trial where the protagonist is charged with breaking and entering.

    Web Animation 
  • The Pimp Lando series mostly focuses on parodies and zany comedy. The last episode, "The Pimp, the Whole Pimp, and Nothing but the Pimp," has less zaniness and more courtroom antics.
  • Battle for BFDI's 22nd episode's challenge is to find out who stole Donut's diary. The challenge is set in a courtroom, with Four as the judge.

    Web Comics 
  • Ennui GO!:
    • Izzy ends up on trial for corrupting Ft. Vilese's youth with her H-Game near the end of the second volume. She manages to win by pointing out that the only reason that kids were exposed to her game (a kid-friendly Animated Adaptation) wasn't even her idea, and even then it's the parents' responsibility to control what their kids see, not hers.
    • The "Two Worlds" arc turns into one of these; Max has to defend a Juggalo in Clown Court after she's accused of throwing a pie with a rock inside of it at one of the other clowns. It quickly becomes a clown pun-themed parody of the Ace Attorney series, during which the actual culprit is revealed to be "prosechuckler" Boingo Peabody thanks to a I Never Said It Was Poison moment.
  • Inverted Fate: In Part 36, Frisk has to go on a televised trial to prove that they aren't as dangerous as some of the previous fallen humans, with Papyrus as their defense lawyer, Undyne as the prosecutor, and Mettaton as the judge. The whole chapter is done in the style of the Ace Attorney games. The fact that recent media at the time of release had included this kind of episode is lampshaded by one of the tracks being called "Another Gratuitous Courtroom Drama".
  • Our Little Adventure has a storyline revolving around one for Thomas Stratus. Thomas Stratus gets brought into court for the mass murder he was framed for. There don't seem to be any real courtroom officials here, just powerful mages pretending to be them.

    Web Original 
  • The Annoying Orange: "Food Court". Liam the Leprechaun decides Orange is more annoying that the law will allow, so he sends him to the Food Court. Of course, Liam is the Judge.
  • The Sonic Amigos has Retard Court starring Homer Simpson, a sub-series dedicated to these.
  • In The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles, a game of Canadian football escalates into complete absurdity. Chapter 4 sees the ball wind up in the possession of the city of Ottawa, and then the Canadian Parliament. The Argonauts and the REDBLACKS both appear before Parliament to argue why they should get possession of the ball.
  • Sanders Sides: The bulk of the episode "Selfishness v. Selflessness" takes place in a courtroom scenario created by Deceit, putting Thomas on trial for wanting to lie to his friends for his own personal gain. The whole scenario examines the ethics of putting your wants before someone else's, lying to further your own goals, and lying to someone to protect their feelings. Deceit acts as prosecution, Patton acts as defense, Roman is the judge, and Virgil is the sole juror. This being Deceit, the entire thing is a total Kangaroo Court, though he does bring up some valid points.
  • The Shipwrecked Comedy/Tin Can Bros crossover event ended with the two sides in an arbitration. Even though it wasn't an actual trial, everyone except the arbitrator treated it as a dramatic Courtroom Episode, invoking every Unconventional Courtroom Tactic they could think of.
  • The Scott The Woz episode "The Trial" has Scott representing his friends who were murdered in the Halloween Episode "The Great Mysteries of Gaming" a year prior (except for Wendy's Employee, who instead took up Jury Duty even though he was also murdered) in an attempt to sue the murderer. Courtroom Antics ensue.
  • SMPEarth has the Saint-Malo Trials, which take place as a result of Technoblade exploiting the faction plugin in order to Take Over the World by claiming the whole map. Wilbur Soot acts as the judge, and several players volunteer for Jury Duty.
  • In SMPLive, Connor sues Schlatt after he scams him out of his diamonds, in a court case known as People of SMPLive vs. Schlattcoin. He wins, though the judge (Ted Nivison) decides that Schlatt can overturn this in a show of physical strength. Schlatt promptly kills Connor.
  • Oxventure has the episode "Court in the Act", in which Corazón and Dob are hurled into a Kangaroo Court after being framed as high-ranking Mafiosos. Their public defender is an admittedly gifted ten-year-old. The eventual trial includes Dob mooning the courtroom to show off his new unicorn tramp stamp, the judge being murdered by the Mob when he suggests acquitting, and an escape predicated on replacing the ropes for the hanging with udon noodles.
    Prudence: We put the whole damn system on trial. That's plan 1. Whole damn system on trial. Plan 2, we sabotage the gallows and escape in the explosive chaos.


Video Example(s):


Brittas in Court

Brittas is on trial for a series of violent incidents and murders.

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