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Joker Jury

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Scarface: Our prosecutor is ready, likewise our fair and impartial jury—
Mad Hatter: Hang him!
Harley Quinn: Shoot 'im!
Killer Croc: Hit him with a rock!

What happens if a hero is captured by his foes? Sure, they could just kill him out of hand, or toss him into a Death Trap, but if the villain has a sense of the theatrical, a quirky sense of humor, or is just flat-out crazy, he might decide to put his nemesis on trial. If so, the hero will find himself facing a Joker Jury, often overseen by a Hanging Judge.

The Joker Jury is a mockery of a trial held by a hero's foes, where his enemies make up the judge, the jury, the prosecution, and even the defense. The charges are usually ridiculous, such as interfering with the villain's crimes, and the verdict is a Foregone Conclusion. Sometimes, the hero is actually able to defend himself and even win the trial. In that case, the villain usually just tries to kill him anyway.

Sometimes appears as a part of a Dream or Nightmare Sequence, in which case it probably represents the character's guilt over something they have done.

The trope title comes from a story in Batman #163 where Batman and Robin are captured by the Joker and put on trial with the Joker as judge and members of his gang, all dressed in Joker costumes and make-up, as the prosecutor and jury.

See also Jury of the Damned. When the heroes are put on trial by someone besides the villains, it's often a Trial of the Mystical Jury or a Kangaroo Court. Often involves a Villain Team-Up.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, Enies Lobby technically serves as a courthouse, even though criminals are only brought through there on their way to the underwater prison Impel Down, or to Marine Headquarters, and has an almost absurd pretense of justice. Criminals are judged by the Just Eleven Jurymen, who are pirates who have been sentenced to death and pronounce any criminal guilty to take as many down with them as they can. Judge Baskerville, actually three people who sit together to form a three-headed man, has a strange way of passing sentences: the left head favors punishing criminals, the right side favors leniency, and the center offers the more extreme "compromise" of execution note . As such, no criminal has ever been acquitted. Strangely enough, Nico Robin and Franky don't get this treatment when they are taken through Enies Lobby; justified because Spandam used CP9's authority to override that.
  • Record of Ragnarok: When the Serpent frames Eve for eating the Forbidden Fruit, she quickly loses the trial because the prosecution, judge, and jury are all made of gods who are biased against humans, and she had no defense attorney.
  • In the dub version of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Virtual World arc, Johnson, whose Deckmaster and appearance is that of Judge Man, claims he is putting Joey on trial for gambling.

    Comic Books 
  • This happens to Batman a lot:
    • The above-mentioned Batman story.
    • Also occurs in Dark Victory.
    • Two-Face does it during the "No Man's Land" story arc. In a mild subversion, the "defendant", Commissioner Gordon, got off by naming Harvey Dent as his defense attorney and turning it more into a battle between the two sides of his personality. Harvey won.
    • Two-Face puts a judge on trial in the Robin: Year One mini-series.
    • Two-Face also did this in Knightfall, having captured an exhausted Batman and put him on trial. Robin (Tim Drake) saved Batman, but Batman didn't take too kindly to it (Bruce later apologized and admitted Tim was in the right.)
    • In an odd inversion, in a storyline that ran in Batman #291-294, Batman was missing and presumed dead, and villains placed themselves on trial before a court of their fellow villains, attempting to prove themselves guilty of Batman's murder.
    • The pre-made adventure for a Batman RPG from the early 90s had Joker attempting to frame the player characters for murder, then putting them on trial before a "jury of [their] peers" — twelve mannequins dressed in Batman's cape and cowl.
    • Hilariously, Joker himself got on the receiving end of this trope in Batman: Arkham Unhinged, where he was put on trial by other villains and accused of his rampage in Arkham Asylum causing Arkham City to be created in the first place.
  • In Captain America, Cap's girlfriend Diamondback was subjected to one of these by her former teammates in the villainous Serpent Society.
  • Judas Traveller puts Spider-Man on trial in The Clone Saga, charging him with being responsible for supervillains and ruining lives by simply by existing. Judas is the judge, Carnage is the prosecutor, Ravencroft inmates like Shriek and the Chameleon make up the jury, and Kaine is Spider-Man's attorney. Spider-Man is of course found guilty and sentenced to death, but after Kaine almost dies to save him Traveller spares them both, deciding that if Peter can inspire such a noble act in "scum" like Kaine, then he deserves to live.
  • In an early issue of Daredevil, the Owl kidnapped the judge who had sentenced him to prison and staged a mock trial using members of his gang as the jury. He also kidnapped Matt Murdock to serve as the defence attorney.
  • In Green Arrow, the Citizen kidnaps offenders and subjects them to a kangaroo court, allowing followers on the Internet to decide whether his victims live or die.
  • In The Incredible Hercules comic by Marvel, Zeus is put on trial by Pluto using a jury of assorted deceased villains.
  • Jonah Hex is subjected to one in Weird Western Tales #30. Quentin Turnbull captures him and puts him on 'trial' for "treason and other high crimes against the Confederate States of America". The 'jury' consists of "your former comrades in arms, some of them survivors of the very massacre you perpetrated".
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Dredd was once put on trial by the survivors of East Meg One in the New Kremlin. A part inversion, Sov Judge Orlok, who brought Dredd in, both resisted having the trial and ended up giving the most influential defense testimony, making a conviction impossible AND prevented an assassination attempt on Dredd.
    • In Origins, Dredd is captured and put on trial by the deposed U.S. President "Bad Bob" Booth as payback for Justice Department dismantling his corrupt courts and thwarting his suicidal plans for world conquest. He even has the audacity to claim that he'll give Dredd a fair trial—with himself as both judge and prosecution and his minions as the jury.
    • In the Milestone Celebration 2000th prog, Judge Dredd is visited by Johnny Alpha who informs him that someone in the future has put a bounty on his head. It turns out to be a group of Judge Cal clones, who proceed to try Dredd for his "crimes" against the tyrannical Chief Judge Cal.
  • The Injustice Society of the World subjects the Justice Society of America to one of these in All-Star Comics #37.
  • Lucky Luke:
    • The Gang of Joss Jamon has Luke put on trial. Judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney are members of the titular gang; the jury is made up of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane (who's shown as simply a villain rather than the Boisterous Bruiser she becomes later on in the series; in the 1991 Animated Adaptation, she's replaced by Ma Dalton) and the Dalton brothers.
    • It's used in a few other albums too, usually with the Dalton brothers as judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney. In one case, Luke is able to talk Averell into successfully defending him.
    • Also seen in The Judge, said judge being the historical Roy Bean: he charges Lucky Luke with theft in order to confiscate the cattle herd Luke was in charge of, assigns a deaf-mute as the defense attorney, and packs the jury with cronies.
  • The standard M.O. of the mercenary/vigilante group the Jury in the Marvel Universe.
  • In Ric Hochet, corrupted judge Vautrin set up a mock trial for captured civil servants and sentenced them to death. All magistrate's staff were criminals who had a bone to pick with the defendants.
  • Superman:
    • In an All Just a Dream example in Action Comics #286, while in the grip of a Red Kryptonite nightmare, Superman dreams that Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and other villains put him on 'trial' for his alleged 'crimes' against them, and sentence him to battle Supergirl to the death in a gigantic arena or else stand by helplessly while they blow up the Earth.
    • Mordru subjects the Legion of Super-Heroes to one of these in Adventure Comics #370.
    • Luthor himself gets a variant in President Luthor Secret Files and Origins, when he dreams he's having a presidential debate against Two-Face, with the Joker as moderator and the rest of Arkham making up the audience.
  • Subverted in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, when Megatron is put on trial by the Autobots and argues that as the judge is his arch-nemesis Optimus Prime, this trope applies. The subversion is that A) Optimus has done everything in his power to make the trial fair, even appointing Ultra Magnus as defense attorney, who is utterly honest and knows the law better than anybody, B) Megatron had every intention of pleading guilty and facing execution, but a Take That! speech from Starscream convinced him that he needed to make amends rather than give up, and C) Optimus ends up agreeing with Megatron and assigning him a redemption quest instead (conditionally, of course).
  • X-Men:
    • In issue #37, Factor 3 tried the titular mutants for treason for preventing their fellow mutants from committing crimes.
    • In The Trial of Gambit, Magneto to Gambit.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: The villain in "The Hanging Judge" does this as he feels he was unfairly dealt with by Britain's justice system. However, rather than directly taken revenge on the former Home Secretary, he plans to imprison and execute the Secretary's daughter, as he feels this will be crueler.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman: The Killing Joke has a scene where Commissioner Gordon is brought into a room designed to look like a courtroom. The jury box is filled with kangaroo statues while the Joker acts as prosecutor.
  • The Transformers: The Movie: The Quintessons set up a Joker Jury for everyone. Those found innocent are fed to the Sharkticons. What a guilty verdict entails is open to speculation, but is probably one of those "you don't wanna know" things.
    • One "official" book stated that the Quintessons did the judge thing for fun, and dumped the accused in the pit no matter the verdict.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • ABCs of Death 2: A courtroom consisting of (ex-)zombies tries humans who 'killed' them during a zombie plague in "O is for Ochlocracy (mob rule)".
  • Curse of the Crimson Altar: In one of his dreams, Robert finds himself put on trial by Lavinia's cult. The jury consists of Malevolent Masked Men in creepy animal masks.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Dr. Crane (aka Scarecrow) is the judge of a rigged court run by escaped criminals under Bane's supervision. There are only two possible sentences - exile (forced to walk on a frozen river until the ice gives way, at which point you fall in and drown) or death (by exile). It has similarities to the Kangaroo Court system in A Tale of Two Cities and the Reign of Terror.
    • The working theory is that if not for the death of Heath Ledger, the Joker would almost certainly have been the judge in this scene.
  • Peter Lorre's character in the movie M is captured by criminals and put on trial because his crimes are bringing the police down on the heads of every other criminal in the city. Ironically, this court is actually fairer than the one he could expect in the real legal system.
  • The personified drugs do this and try Ben for not possessing drugs in Straight Up.

  • The eponymous hero of the Lone Wolf series gets one such mock-trial in Book 7, Castle Death. The sentence? "The Maze!"

  • A classic (though loose) example can be found in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland where the main character participates in a trial with all the previous characters she met serving as witnesses. It's a loose example because it's the Knave of Hearts, not Alice, on trial, and neither the jury nor the witnesses have it in for the defendant. Unfortunately, the ultimate judge in all this is the Queen of Hearts, who does - and her favorite punishment is Off with His Head!.
  • In the novel Captain America: Liberty's Torch, Cap is captured by a powerful American militia. He is to be put on trial and for his defense, they captured a lawyer based on the popular creator Mark Gruenwald. Both Cap and the lawyer know the whole thing is a sham, but are forced to go through with it anyway.
  • The Trope Codifier is The Devil and Daniel Webster, in which the jury is filled with the souls of evil people, while the judge is a Hanging Judge from the Salem witch trials. However, thanks to the Devil being a Noble Demon, he has to abide by the law.
  • Older Than Steam: Happens in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, when Christian and Faithful are arrested in Vanity Fair. When the judge's name is "Lord Hategood," you know you're in trouble. The chief witnesses are named Envy, Superstition, and Pickthank, and the gentlemen of the jury are named "Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable." It's just not going to end well.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events had one in The Penultimate Peril; somewhat subverted as while accidental, the Baudelaires really did murder someone. None of the proceedings made any sense, but things are never fair in this series.
  • In one ending of Shop Till You Drop... Dead!, you are put on trial by Murderous Mannequins and you're found not guilty, so they turn you and Julie into mannequins.
  • This shows up in the xenofiction novel Watership Down, in one of the legends told of their racial hero, El-ahrairah. Prince Rainbow has determined to put a stop to El-ahrairah's tricks once and for all by planting an informant rabbit named Hufsa among them. El-ahrairah soon spots The Mole and decides to bait Rainbow by committing a blatant crime, with Hufsa along for the ride. When Rainbow arrives, El-ahrairah demands a trial by jury — and gets a jury of dogs, foxes, and other rabbit predators. But because El-ahrairah arranged for Hufsa to see several bizarre and improbable things along the way, the predators are disgusted and bored with his insane rambling and refuse to convict El-ahrairah based on his testimony.
    • In this case the Joker Jury is a Batman Gambit; El-ahrairah only agreed to a jury of predators because he knew they'd despise all rabbits and be impatient to be off hunting. Thus the jury doesn't bother getting to the bottom of Hufsa's story and regards him with even more contempt than El-ahrairah, who at least appears rational.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell organizes the trial of Thomas More and just happens to place on the jury several men who absolutely detest the former Lord Chancellor. Cromwell's fellow judges protest that maybe they should try to find some impartial men, but Cromwell waves them off by saying he's not going to go scouring the countryside for people who've never heard of More. (Despite the admittedly sham nature of the trial, it does happen in a more sympathetic context as More is portrayed as The Fundamentalist and said jury members have lost friends, family, or property to anti-Protestant persecution. Also, Henry will probably kill them if they don't get a guilty verdict.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The fourth season of 24 had the US Secretary of Defense captured and put on trial by terrorists. The eighth sees other terrorists put the President of Qurac on trial as well. Both times, the trial is a formality and the terrorists plan on executing their victim anyway (it's actually closer to a sentencing); the Secretary of Defense was actually going to be decapitated live on the internet before Jack Bauer saved him, while the President was merely going to be shot. And is, long before Jack gets there- the mock trial was pre-taped all along.
  • In the ninth series of Are You Being Served?, Mr. Humphries is investigated for alleged offenses. The hearing rapidly takes on the air of a jury trial, with a hostile judge who openly says that any defense would be a "feeble tissue of lies". In the end, he is found guilty, then proved innocent thirty seconds later.
  • Inverted in the 1960s series Batman (1966). In one episode the Joker is put on trial for his various crimes, and after the presentation of the obviously insurmountable evidence, the jury unanimously declares him Not Guilty. The judge calls them out on this, and it turns out the jury is made up entirely of ex-cons and criminals who are pulling for the Joker anyway.
  • Happens to Adama in Battlestar Galactica, causing him to remark, "Oh, this is THAT kind of trial." His judges are the men currently launching a coup and his defense attorney was brought there at gunpoint—he urges Adama to play along to buy time but Adama refuses to participate.
  • In an episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, Blackadder is put on trial for shooting General Melchett's beloved carrier pigeon, Speckled Jim, just after this had been made a court-martialable offence. Guess who was the judge? General Melchett.
  • The Charmed ones stood accused of interference in mortal matters by the Whitelighters. Standing in for the prosecution was Barbus, the (get this) Demon of Fear and longtime enemy of the Halliwells. Numerous others foes were present as witnesses.
  • Father Knows Best: In the episode "The Good Neighbor", Margaret inherits a house and intends to widen the driveway, which will require her to remove roses planted on her property by next door neighbor Mr. Boomhauer. He sues her, which upsets her greatly. The night before the trial she has a nightmare in which she is put on trial for failing to get along with her fellow man. The judge and jury are all Boomhauers (some dressed as women), who find her guilty and sentence her to exile from earth in a jail cell on a cloud.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Rangeland", the team is called to Wyoming after two Bureau of Land Management agents go missing after trying to execute a cattle seizure warrant against a rancher who hasn't paid the land fees. The rancher, Will, killed the agents claiming that he thought were going for their guns. His brother Cole is involved in an anti-government rancher association and previously ran for Sheriff. The brothers kidnap the Bureau's chief and the Sheriff and put them in a mock trial before his association's ranchers.
  • Used in an episode of Hawaii Five-0 when Steve McGarrett is put on "trial" by prisoners in the state pen, many of whom he put there.
  • The Magician: In "The Illusion of the Lethal Playthings", a Wicked Toymaker kidnaps the industrialist he blames for stealing his toy ideas and puts him on trial before a jury of marionettes before sentencing him to death.
  • One episode of Malcolm in the Middle had meat-loving Reese try to date a vegetarian girl, and later has a nightmare where he put on trial for "murder" by a court full of animals. Their "graphic evidence" is just pictures of Reese eating breakfast.
  • In an episode of Married... with Children, Al's shoe store is taken over by a group of overweight women who put him on 'trial' for all of the fat jokes he has made about them over the years.
  • Matlock was called upon to act as defense counsel for a prison guard being tried for murder by rioting prisoners.
  • The IMF fake one of these as part of The Con in the Mission: Impossible episode "The Flight".
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike is put on trial for all the times he's blown up planets by some otherworldly judge, with Pearl as the prosecutor, and Professor Bobo as Mike's defense attorney (though that's Mike's fault as he had several competent legendary defense attorneys to choose from and sarcastically chose Bobo when he saw Bobo's name on the list). He may not have gotten Clarence Darrow, but at least he got an attorney with the same mannerisms.
  • Odd Squad: Downplayed in "Disorder in the Court"; Olive's trial is comprised mostly of Odd Squad agents, not villains, and the only villain present (that plays a major role) is Odd Todd, who serves as the defendant and represents himself in the trial. However, baby Odd Squad agents (none of whom can speak coherently) play the role of the jury.
  • In the season three finale of Person of Interest, Peter Collier holds one for everyone he can find who is connected to The Machine. He served as prosecutor. One of his own men was the judge. The person dragooned into being the defense attorney does not get to examine any of the evidence beforehand, and in fact has no lines all episode. Collier gets the legal definition of treason wrong (It's knowingly aiding the enemies of your country, not using methods of questionable legality to fight them). At one point he murders a defendant in cold blood on the witness stand for refusing to self-incriminate himself as is his constitutional right. And the jury deliberation period consisted of Collier saying "Everyone who finds them guilty on all counts, please raise your hand" - to a group of 'jurors' who were surrounded by several heavily armed bailiffs in the employ of the homicidal prosecutor. At least Control manages to give Collier a "Reason You Suck" Speech about the whole thing before they were unanimously found guilty.
  • In the Stargate Atlantis episode "Inquisition", the Coalition of Planets put the team on trial with two out of three of the judges having ulterior motives. They got off by bribing one of the biased judges.
  • This happened earlier in an episode of Stargate SG-1 note . Teal'c is put on trial for a murder he committed while First Prime of Apophis. The judge, jury, and executioner was the son of the guy who Teal'c killed. O'Neill points out how unfair this is, only to be shot down since it's part of their legal system. Daniel even comments that this was a common law practice for many years, to O'Neill's irritation.
  • Q puts Humanity on Trial (with Picard as the defense attorney) in the pilot and series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • Q also warns Picard not to try any "lawyer tricks" to get out of it, claiming that this is a "court of facts". Of course, this is also a court where drugged-up guards maintain order by Firing in the Air a Lot, and a guard who is overpowered by an accused is immediately shot by another guard.
  • This was lampooned twice on a soap, Sunset Beach. Annie dreamt she was on an episode of Jerry Springer alongside her enemies, each of whom are portrayed as sleazily as possible (devil horns, red mink coats, pencil mustaches, etc.), but are adored by the audience. In another, Annie was a contestant on Wheel of Misfortune, with the three podiums belonging to suspects in her rival Francesca's murder. Francesca, the resident Vanna White, presents her "prize" which consists of a lethal injection.
  • Tales from the Crypt: "The Third Pig", a bloody retelling of The Three Little Pigs had the third pig tried for the murder of his brothers. The judge and jury are all wolves, who deliberate by going into the room and immediately coming back out.
  • Walt Disney Presents: In The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, the Scarecrow and his gang of smugglers hold a mock trial for one of their number who had betrayed them to the army.
  • The Wild Wild West:
    • In "The Night of the Puppeteer", Skull puts Jim on trial for killing a puppet. Skull is the judge, his marionettes are the jury and Jim is tried, convicted and sentenced without being present. Jim stalls for time by trying to argue his case.
    • In "The Night of the Underground Terror", Hazard intends to put Mosely on "trial" at the ruins of Susquehanna, with himself as the Hanging Judge and his men as the Joker Jury. Jim, who insists on serving as Mosely's defense, disrupts the procedure by charging Hazard's gang with perjury, since he's figured out that they're actually Mosely's erstwhile torturers.
    • In "The Night of Miguelito's Revenge", West and a bevy of Dr. Loveless's other enemies are tried by one (consisting of clown dolls that bleat like sheep on command).
  • In the first part of The X-Files' finale, Mulder is captured by US Marines and put before a show tribunal. After he is convicted and sentenced to death, the others easily break him out.

  • "Fuck the Police" by N.W.A has a cop being tried by MC Ren, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E for being "a redneck, white trash, chicken-shit motherfucker".
  • The Pink Floyd album The Wall contains an unusual variant of this. During "The Trial", Pink is tried by his own neuroses and inner demons, including monstrous incarnations of all the people who made life difficult for him. Even more strangely, though it looks as if the whole trial is stacked against him, it's actually the best thing that happens to him, as it made him realize he needed to destroy the wall. A useful Kangaroo Court, as it were.

  • The Red Panda Adventures episode "Trial by Terror" had the Red Panda undergoing a commitment hearing by the inmates of the asylum many of his foes had been sent to.

  • In Man of La Mancha, Cervantes is put on trial by his fellow prisoners. This leads to the Show Within a Show that is his defence.
  • In the musical adaptation of Mary Poppins, Act One ends with a new number called "Temper Temper", in which Jane and Michael's toys come to life, grow to be bigger than the children, and promptly hold the children trial for having lost their tempers and broken the toys — singing all the time.
  • In Trial by Jury, the jury is immediately hostile to the defendant, before he even says a word in his defence, because they've already fallen in love with the plaintiff.
    Video Games 
  • DC Universe Online: The South Gotham Courthouse alert. Brainiac has turned the populace into mind-controlled cyborgs, and the Brainiac forces attempted to put the players on trial for "crimes against Brainiac". The player must first stack the court with human jurors before Brainiac jurors can be installed to defeat the Brainiac Bailiff; then kill - sorry, knock out - Brainiac Witnesses and destroy evidence to defeat the Brainiac Attorneys; and finally, defeat The Supreme Justice to force him to declare a mistrial.

    Web Comics 
  • In Nodwick, Yeager is put on trial by the "Council of Three-And-A-Half" which is later revealed to consist entirely of people he bullied as a child.
  • Van Von Hunter begins with Van on trial for the crime of "re-murder", i.e. the "murder" of an undead vampire. The event took place in a land seemingly populated entirely by the undead, so the judge, jury, and lawyers are all undead.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: King Goobot tells Jimmy about how they have to "do this sham trial by the book".
    King Goobot: Has the jury reached a verdict?
    Jimmy's enemies: GUILTY!
    Jimmy: What a shock.
  • One of the "Slappy Squirrel" segments in Animaniacs has Slappy put on trial where the judge is a wolf, the jury are all wolves, and the prosecuting attorney is the grandson of the plaintiff, Slappy's longtime nemesis Walter Wolf. Slappy wins because she has a "dynamite case" — literally. That is to say, she put cases of dynamite underneath the jurors' seats, so even though she more or less confessed to the crime she was accused of plus blowing Walter up afterwards, the jury found her Not Guilty.
  • Happens in Aqua Teen Hunger Force when Shake is called into Tree Court for dumping a huge vat of grease in the woods, then burning down a tree. Even his defense attorney is a shrub, who immediately squeals "GUILTY! MY CLIENT IS GUILTY!". Shake definitely doesn't help himself by ripping off the shrub's branches and covering himself in bark while holding the branches, to try to disguise himself as a tree MID-TRIAL!
    • He got off better than his accomplice Carl, who ended up supplying the parchment for the court's records.
    • Of course, in a subversion of the usual "innocent victim/hero" part of this trope, the defendants both totally did what they were accused of.
      Frylock: Y'all are just lucky trees are stupid. You're both guilty as hell, you know that, right?
  • One episode of Arthur was about Buster Baxter stealing an action figure from a toy store, causing him to think that he is a criminal. About halfway through the episode, Buster has a nightmare where he is arrested by the police and is taken to court where the judge is none other than Mr. Ratburn and the jury his other classmates (including his best friend Arthur Read).
  • Can't forget Aang's trial by the citizens of Chin in Avatar: The Last Airbender
    "You say what happened, and then I say what happened, and then I decide who's right. That's why we call it justice. Because it's 'just us'!"
  • True to its roots, in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Trial", Batman is captured and placed on trial by the inmates of Arkham Asylum — and just to stack the deck further, his defending attorney was an outspoken critic of the vigilante who earlier blamed him for ostensibly provoking the mentally unstable into becoming criminals. Explaining the trial bit, Two-Face says, "Personally, I suggested a quick slug between the eyes... but I lost the coin toss."
    Scarface: And now, all rise for the most honorable, most benevolent, most merciful Judge Joker!
    Joker: GUILTY!
    • This trope is subverted when the attorney becomes a female Perry Mason / Matlock and proves Batman innocent by pointing out that the supervillains themselves are responsible for what's happened to them. Double Subverted when the villains end up finding Batman innocent and that they were all terrible people who screwed up their own lives but decide that because they're such terrible people, they'll kill him and his attorney anyway. Now that Batman's attorney has done her job, it's time for Batman to do his...
  • Near the end of Beast Wars, Megatron finally gets tired of his backstabbing underlings and decides to get rid of them. Quickstrike is put on trial with Megatron serving as judge (complete with powdered wig), Inferno as a stenographer, Waspinator as the defense, and the remaining Predacons as jury. He only survives because of a sudden attack on the base.
  • Biker Mice from Mars: In "Here Come the Judge", Ronaldo Rump makes himself the judge of the trial with the Catatonians serving as prosecutor and the jury.
  • In the final episode of BoJack Horseman, a Freeze-Frame Bonus of the jurors at BoJack's trial reveals them to be pretty much all people whom the character has had conflicts with or otherwise pissed off in prior episodes. Played with, however, since despite this undeniable skewing of the scales it's also pretty unarguable that the character has had some kind of reckoning coming for a long time, as even they concede.
  • Captain N: The Game Master: In "Metroid Sweet Metroid", Mother Brain holds a trial for the N Team, fully intending to find them guilty of stopping her from taking over Videoland.
  • An episode of Duckman has him find himself in a town where everyone is related to Duckman's arch-nemesis, King Chicken, and they put him on trial for giving the wrong answer to the "chicken-egg" question.
    • Although the actual jury was made up of a random collection of inbred idiots who accidentally sat in the jury box instead of the audience.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "The Life and Crimes of Scrooge McDuck", Louie and Scrooge are summoned to a magical karmic court by their enemies (Doofus, Magica, Glomgold, and Ma Beagle) who want to try Scrooge for making them the villains that they became.
  • Timmy in The Fairly OddParents! has a trial with all his unwished wishes in "Escape From Unwish Island".
    Judge Imaginary Gary: How does the (guilty) defendant plead (guilty)?
  • Family Guy: Played with in one clip during the southern prison episode.
    Peter: Well, at least we're being judged by a group of our peers.
    Joe: I don't think they (The Simpsons) see it that way.
  • The Garfield and Friends episode "Wanted: Wade!", where Wade the Duck actually starts thinking that he was a criminal after removing a tag on Orson Pig's chair. He then starts to have a nightmare where he is actually put on trial where Orson is the judge presiding over said trial and sentencing him to 9999 years in prison after declaring him guilty.
  • Taken a step further on Jimmy Two-Shoes. Not only is Cerbee tried with a Joker Jury, somehow every member is Lucius.
  • Kaeloo inverts the heroic and villainous roles by having Mr. Cat, the villain, be put on trial with the judge (who is none other than Stumpy), the defense attorney (Kaeloo) and the victim (Quack Quack) all wanting him to get punished. Kaeloo wins the case by manipulating Mr. Cat into confessing that he was guilty.
    • In Episode 118, the heroic and villainous roles are inverted again. Alpha Bitch Pretty is put on trial. Kaeloo, who hates Pretty, is the judge. Stumpy, Quack Quack, and Mr. Cat, who hate Pretty even more than Kaeloo, are the jury. The lawyer provided to Pretty is a sheep. Not a Funny Animal, a regular sheep. Obviously, Pretty gets punished.
  • One old Looney Tunes short called "The Trial of Mr. Wolf" featured Little Red Riding Hood being put on trial for crimes against the Big Bad Wolf. The judge, prosecutor, and entire jury are all wolves. It actually ends up a subversion, as his story is so unbelievable that even the all-wolf jury finds the Big Bad Wolf's story a blatant lie. (And he doesn't help his case when he says, says, "And if I'm lying, I hope to get run over by a streetcar!" and a streetcar smashes through the courtroom and runs him over. He then says, "Okay, maybe I did exaggerate a little...")
    • The conclusion of Daffy Doodles has billboard vandal Daffy Duck on trial for drawing mustaches on all the billboards. He throws himself at the mercy of the court. The jury—all of 12 identical Jerry Colonnas, find Daffy not guilty.
  • One episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh involved Winnie the Pooh having a nightmare where he is put on trial by a jury of balloons after mistakenly losing Christopher Robin's balloon.
  • Peter Pan & the Pirates: In the episode "Peter on Trial", Peter Pan is put on trial by Captain Hook, with his pirates as the jury and Wendy as a defense lawyer. Surprisingly, she wins the case (albeit with a defense that amounts to Insane Troll Logic). Unsurprisingly, Hook tries to execute Peter anyway.
  • There's an old and rather scary Disney short, "Pluto's Judgement Day", in which Mickey's dog is lured to some sort of "dog Hell" and judged for the crime of tormenting cats. Everyone in the courtroom besides Pluto is a cat — the judge, the bailiff, the prosecution, and the jury — which obviously leads to him being declared ♫"G-U-I! L-T-Y! Guilty Guilty Guilty!"♫. Luckily for Pluto, it was All Just a Dream.
    • The jury "deliberation" consists of the cats in the jury marching out single file through a revolving door... and right back in again; the last ones in line haven't gotten to the door yet when the first ones start coming back in.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode "Jailbusters" has the ghostbusters kidnapped into the Ghost World and facing a trial for their "crimes" against the ghost kind.
  • Rocko's Modern Life had a story where a fly fakes physical injuries to file a lawsuit against Rocko. The entire jury is made up of insects.
  • The Simpsons:
    • This showed up in a Halloween special in the case of The Devil v. Homer, wherein The Devil (Flanders) contests that Homer sold his soul for a donut, which Homer finished. Due to the sheer incompetence of his attorney Lionel Hutz, Devil Flanders gets to fill the jury with some of Hell's most notorious residents, including John Wilkes Booth, Richard Nixonnote , and the starting lineup of the notorious 1976 Philadelphia Flyers hockey team. Nixon protests about being on the jury (since at the time the episode aired, he wasn't dead yet), but acquiesces when he is reminded by the Devil "I did a favour for you."
    • In the episode where Bart kills a bird with Nelson's BB gun, he imagines being put on trial by a tribunal of birds that sentence him to be pecked to death. The birds originally just called him there to put down newspaper, but then Bart just had to open his big mouth...
    • Another dream sequence had Homer being put on trial by living donuts. He takes a bite out of his lawyer and is sentenced to be eaten by a giant donut.
  • Episode "Harmony Steals the Show" of The Smurfs: After dealing with a ghost for the greatest opera in exchange for his soul, Harmony is placed on trial by Death and the jury is made of ghosts.
  • The Green Goblin in Spider-Man: The Animated Series gives this to the board members who he blames for the 'death' of Norman Osborn, where he is Judge. He even has a Justice Statue with his face.
  • Happens in two Superfriends episodes:
    • 1973/74 episode "The Menace Of The White Dwarf". The Raven puts Superman through a trial with himself as judge and prosecutor and a jury consisting of his android doubles. Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog act as Superman's defense attorneys.
    • An All New Superfriends Hour episode has DC phantom villain Gentleman Jim Craddock, known as Gentleman Ghost, subject Superman and Wonder Woman to a trial for subduing him earlier, with him as the judge and prosecutor and the jury made up of the world leaders that he kidnapped and turned into ghosts up to that point. Needless to say, the Amazing Amazon and the Man of Steel are found guilty and sentenced to haunt an old swamp mansion as ghosts for all eternity.
    • The Challenge episode "The Trial of the Superfriends". You'd think that after being stripped of their power sources, captured by the Legion of Doom, and put on display in Legion Headquarters, the "justice" of an obviously mock trial would be the least of the Justice Leaguers' concerns but it's the only thing they protest. The Four Leaguers', Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, are sentenced to battle Brainiac's androids of them who have their power items, the Utility Belts, Magic Lasso, and Power Ring.
    Luthor: Grodd, swear them in.
    Gorilla Grodd: Do you swear to tell untruths, untruths, and nothing but untruths, so help you Grodd?
  • One episode of Teacher's Pet had Leonard Helperman imagine himself being put on trial in front of a judge and jury who all for some reason resemble Ian Waszlewzki, the class slob.
  • Subverted in the Teen Titans Go! episode "A Farce". While the prosecutor is Brother Blood and the judge is the Brain, the jury are unbiased normal citizens and the Titans are actually found guilty of what they're on trial for.
  • In an episode of Yin Yang Yo!, Carl The Evil Cockroach Wizard stages injury received from Yin and Yang while the two were in the midst of training which leads to a kangaroo court case. Naturally, the jury, witnesses, and judge are all their past villains.

    Real Life 
  • A book of legal anecdotes is titled Dracula was a Lawyer, because of Vlad the Impaler's practice of serving as prosecution and defense for his enemies.
  • The gangster Charlie Richardson used to hold "trials" of any henchmen who had disappointed him and would wear full judicial robes for the occasion.
  • Ayn Rand is also reported to have held "trials" for people in her inner circle who she thought had slighted her.
  • The Riom Trial. Vichy Regime reactionaries wanted scapegoats for France's defeat by Nazi Germany and found it convenient to indict some ministers and government officials who were from the left or the center-right wings of the old Third Republic (some, like Leon Blum, were incidentally Jews). To speed up the process, Marshal Philippe Petain decided that the defendants would be sentenced to life imprisonment in a fortress before the trial even began, while the judges said that this is not a show trial. Subverted, because despite being carefully chosen by the Vichy authorities the judges involved were too high in the hierarchy to fear for their careers, so the trial was relatively fair. It actually had an abrupt end, as the deliberations proved that those responsible for the 1940 defeat were... the future Vichy leaders.
  • Nikolai Struisky, Russian landowner and self-published poet, used to torture his serfs before doing mock trials to them.
  • American lawman Judge Roy Bean, whose judicial process raised eyebrows even in the Frontier West of the 1800s, frequently acted as judge, prosecutor, and jury. His catchphrase was:
    I sentence you to be hung by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead!
  • The libel trial against The New York Times for the publication of "Heed Their Rising Voices", a paid article by civil rights activists wanting to help King, was heavily rigged against the defendants. The claimants, Birmingham officials who claimed to have been slandered by the article, basing themselves on minor errors, although no one was named, just wanted to make the Northern press (and the four major civil rights activists) shut up about Jim Crow. The judge, Walter Burgwyn Jones, was a segregationist who, when the trial started, praised the "white man's justice" and decried the "racial agitators;" he infamously ruled the New York Times had enough activity in Alabama the Birmingham courts had jurisdiction, thereby overruling his own procedure book. Meanwhile, the all-White jury was hostile to the journal, forcing its lawyers to use such arguments as Sullivan (one of the plaintiffs) would have benefited from being viewed as harsh against the Blacks. Of course, in such a hostile environment, the New York Times, along with the four Black ministers who were sued, had to pay $500,000. Eventually the Supreme Court overruled these rulings.
    • Before the New York Times Co. case, over $300,000,000 of lawsuits against various news organizations (In 2013 dollars, that's the equivalent of $2.3 Billion) were pending in courts across the South from local officials.
  • This was common practice in the Deep South in the days before the Civil Rights movement (and, in some cases, even after). Juries were drawn from the voting rolls, and various measures were taken to keep black people from voting, so juries were all-white. Even those who weren't biased against black people often had little choice in the matter, as being seen as friendly to blacks would make one a social pariah. The end result: Blacks were often as good as guilty the moment they were arrested, while whites could escape punishment for assaulting and murdering blacks, even in the face of clear evidence.


Video Example(s):


Batman on Trial

Batman's Rogues plan a perfectly fair and impartial trial for the Caped Crusader.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / JokerJury

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