Follow TV Tropes


Judgment of Solomon

Go To
You're either the ruler of the land, or someone else whose job is to arbitrate between people. Either way, you have a problem. There is an object whose true ownership is under dispute. Alice says it is hers, and Bob says it is his. This is usually a live thing, such as a pet or a baby. How do you figure out the true owner? Threaten to resolve the dispute by dividing the object (traditionally with a sword) and giving one half to each claimant.

The reactions of each party will reveal the truth: Alice will be distraught (usually begging the judge to simply give the object to Bob), and Bob will be unmoved. This marks her out as the rightful owner, since only the real owner would concede something precious to her rival rather than see it destroyed.

In straight examples, only one party will object, because there is no middle ground between the rightful mother and a sociopath who would rather have half a dead baby than let someone else raise a live one; alternatively, the failure to object may simply be a case of calling the judge's bluff, but the fact that one party was willing to even take this risk while the other was not is generally sufficient proof in itself. In a common subversion, both claimants object, leaving the would-be Solomon stumped.

A common variation in logic puzzles is to have both parties already agreeing to split something that is inherently difficult to split fairly, but not being able to agree on the exact method. The most common solution is to have one party decide how to divide the lot and the other party choose which half to take — this gives the splitter every incentive to divide it as fairly as they can manage.

Often subverted nowadays. Compare Disney Dog Fight and Spot the Imposter. Super-Trope of Solomon Divorce, where divorcing parents split their children up so there's at least one for each. See also No MacGuffin, No Winner and Tear-Apart Tug-of-War.


    open/close all folders 

Straight examples

    Trope Namer 
  • The Judgment of Solomon is a story from The Bible. The story recounts that two mothers living in the same house, each the mother of an infant son, came to King Solomon. One of the babies had died, and each claimed the live baby as her own. Calling for a sword, Solomon declared his judgment: the live and dead babies would be cut in two, each woman to receive two halves. One mother begged Solomon, "Give the baby to her, just don't kill him!" The king declared her the true mother (in either the literal or metaphorical sense), as a (good) mother would even give up her baby if that was necessary to save its life. This judgment became known throughout all of Israel and was considered an example of profound wisdom.
    • This might have been a Xanatos Gambit on Solomon's part. If one woman accepts the ruling and the other begs for the child's life, Solomon gives it to the second woman. If both beg for the child to be spared, then Solomon has got them to agree on something and realise that the baby's life is more important than their squabble, and can help them work out an actual solution (with the implied threat of going back to his original "solution" if they can't work out their differences). If both agree to Solomon's suggestion, then clearly neither is suitable to raise a child so Solomon takes the child away and lets someone else adopt him, perhaps a couple who can't have children of their own.
    • Also, the original tale can actually be seen as a parable, as Solomon was at war with one of his brothers at the time; the baby was Israel, the sword was war, Solomon was the false mother and his brother was represented by the real mother. The message was "If you don't want me to split the kingdom, give it up." It worked.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in a Sunday edition of Doonesbury: Duke, the Governor of American Samoa with his addled mind misses the point of the original, but things still work out in the same way, with one woman (the fake mother) uttering a "meh" response, while the other woman's emotional outrage reveals the child's true mother:
    Duke: I believe there is a biblical precedent... and a solution... I've got it! Cut the kid in half!
    Mother #1: Hmm... That sounds fair.
    Mother #2: Are you crazy?!?

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Done in Lawrence of Arabia though the possession in dispute was Tribal Honor rather then a material one. An Arab warrior from one tribe murders one from another. For the murderer not to be executed would shame the wronged tribe; for the wronged tribe to execute the murderer would simply escalate the Cycle of Revenge. To fend off the dispute, Lawrence, to his distaste, personally carries out the execution because he has no local connections and therefore no one can take offense.

  • Among the legendary stories of the wise Japanese judge Ooka Tadasuke is one where he must figure out the true mother of a baby. He asks each woman to grab an arm of the baby and tells them he is sure the real mother would find the strength to win a tug of war. Actually, much like Solomon, he figured the real mother would refuse to harm the child. Both women are too smart to fall for it, so he tries a variation: putting on a big show of looking into the future, he announces that the child will one day be handicapped and his aged mother will have to work to support him. This time the trick works — the false claimant objects that children are supposed to serve their parents, but the real mother doesn't care what she'll have to sacrifice for her son.
  • A similar story exists concerning Bao Zheng, an ancient Chinese government official held in high esteem for his Incorruptible Pure Pureness due to his unflinching uprightness and honesty. In ''Justice Bao Investigates The Chalk Circle," a girl is sold into prostitution by her penniless family and comes to the attention of a rich but childless tax collector. He takes her as a second wife and she bears him a son, which makes the tax collector's first wife jealous. She poisons the husband, blames the new mother for the murder, and claims that the child is hers so that she will inherit the dead man's fortune, having had the innocent woman beaten until she falsely confessed. Justice Bao suspects wrongdoing, so he draws a chalk circle and places the infant child in the middle, telling each woman to take one of the baby's arms and pull until they have the baby—naturally, the child's true mother cannot bear to hurt her son in such a way and the Wicked Stepmother's lie is exposed.
  • In the German folkballad "Lilofee" also known as "Es freit ein wilder Wassermann", the eponymous protagonist escapes from her captor, the "savage water sprite", but is later found and confronted by him. He tells her to come back, because their children miss her. While in some versions this is enough to convince her to go with him, in others she suggests a Solomon Divorce. But because they have an uneven number of children, 7 to be exact, he wants to enact this on one of the children. Lilofee can't allow that to happen and follows him back to captivity. Whether he was serious about his suggestion or just trying to manipulate her is not made clear.

  • Used in Leo Frankowski's Conrad Stargard series. The titular engineer becomes a feudal lord, and is asked to arbitrate a dispute. A man and his neighbor each owned a pig, and one day, they only found one pig. They both claim it is theirs. Conrad agrees with both of them, and tells them the court cost from each of them is half a pig. They divide the pig between them, and later give Conrad the other pig when it is found.
  • Played straight in Book V of The Faerie Queene, when Arthegall, Knight of Justice, arbitrates a dispute between a squire and a knight over a woman (who is apparently incapable of telling them herself). It turns out the knight kidnapped the woman (and killed his own girlfriend when she objected to his running off with her) and is subsequently sentenced to carry her severed head around for a year as punishment.
  • In Queen Zixi of Ix, two women come to King Bud, both claiming to own a single cow. At the suggestion of his sister, Bud lets each of them try milking the cow, and the one who successfully milks the cow is declared the owner. Subverted, however, when it is then revealed that it was the other woman's cow all along, who was simply bad at understanding cows.
  • In N or M?, one of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence novels, a strange foreign woman has kidnapped an Englishwoman's daughter, and is pursued to the edge of a cliff. The foreigner is holding the kid tightly, but the Englishwoman takes the shot, killing her. Later it's discovered the Englishwoman was a traitor spying for the Nazis, and the other woman was the girl's real mother. Tuppence realizes this as no mother would willingly endanger her own child like that. Tuppence explicitly refers to Solomon in this one. Tommy & Tuppence later adopt the child (their two natural children are grown up, but haven't yet given them grandchildren.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novel Home from the Sea the Skelkie (a kind of were-seal) chief is giving the heroine several tests —-first he asks her riddles, then he asks her questions about her judgment, including a hypothetical mirroring King Solomon and the Two Mothers. Her first instinct was to use the same story, but she reflects that to even CONSIDER harming a child would be horrifying to the Skelkies; she comes up with another solution after getting the chief to posit that it wasn't a baby, but a child old enough to speak.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Not strictly a cut-in-half situation, but done to some extent in an episode of Season Three of Angel, when vampire hunter Holtz takes Angel's child hostage and threatens to kill him unless Angel agrees to let him take the baby away. Angel, the boy's true father, agrees, preferring to have him raised by someone else than to have him die. This distinction becomes important later in the season, when the boy comes to see Holtz, the man who was willing to kill him rather than see him raised by someone else, as his father.
  • Camelot: Morgan decides a dispute between two parents over custody of their son in a fashion much like this. She offers to take the boy as a servant, which his father willingly haggles with her for over his mother's protest, and Morgan, seeing this, gives him to her.
  • Played for laughs in Chespirito when recounting Solomon's story itself. He spelled out his plan to the Queen of Sheba before setting it in motion, when he proposed the deal to the women, his own slave came out of nowhere begging to spare the child, so Solomon declared him the mother.
  • Doctor Who: Done in "Daleks in Manhattan" over a stolen loaf of bread... by a guy named Solomon.
  • An episode of ER had a doctor resolving a dispute between two cheese-rollers by presenting the prize, a wheel of cheese, to the competitor who would rather forfeit his chance at victory than let the cheese be damaged. As he prepares to present the cheese wheel to the winner, he sees that one of his colleagues has already cut a slice from the cheese and made himself a sandwich.
  • Discussed in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In a case concerning the custody of a child, Stabler mentions King Solomon, and the DA counters that she can't split the child. Stabler points out Solomon didn't have to, either. A child kidnapping victim was found to be the biological daughter of the woman who orchestrated the kidnapping, who initially believed that the child was actually her deceased daughter; she was actually that child's genetic sibling, implanted into another mother as part of a fraud scheme being run by the IVF clinic both women used. The child was raised by her surrogate mother, who gave birth to her. Once it's revealed that the child is genetically hers, the mother uses this as a kidnapping defense and indicates her intention to sue for custody if she's acquitted. When the child takes the stand, Casey purposely upsets her so much that the mother agrees to plead guilty and stop pursuing custody.note 
  • Played with in M*A*S*H when the camp looks after a Doorstop Baby. At one point Colonel Potter tells Hawkeye, BJ and Winchester, "I'm going to make a Solomon-like pronouncement. I'm going to cut Winchester in half, ignore you two and look after the baby myself."
  • A variation appears in an episode of The Mentalist. A wealthy investment banker has been murdered over $10 million in diamonds, and suspicion comes down to either the victim's wife or his mistress as to which one was involved. After his daughter is seemingly kidnapped, however, Patrick sets up a scenario where each woman is faced with a choice where they have to either stay with the daughter to protect her or acquire the diamonds. The mistress goes to the daughter, the wife to the diamonds.
  • Salute Your Shorts: ZZ and Dina each claim ownership of a frog, Wartbreath. Budnick, acting as counselor, follows the Ooka Tadasuke example and gives the frog to ZZ when she lets Dina take Wartbreath because he could see "ZZ couldn't bear to harm the little croaker." However, he confesses the handbook he took the idea from "would have given the frog to Dina. This was my answer."
  • Used in an episode of Seinfeld, when Kramer is decided to be the true owner of a bicycle (as he didn't want to see it ruined) when Newman uses this logic to decide whether the true owner is Kramer or Elaine (who was fed up with the entire argument and willing to take half of the bike; she did recognize the trope, but only after she'd irrevocably stuck her foot in it).

    Puppet Shows 
  • In one episode of Under the Umbrella Tree, Gloria, Iggy and Jacob have trouble sharing their new rocking horse, so Holly proposes sawing the horse into three pieces and giving one to each of them. This stops their bickering and makes them realize they would rather share the horse than give it up.
  • Done in an episode of Dinosaurs, in which the baby is cut in half and then put back together in a weird cross between this trope and Vegas-style stage magic.
  • Shows up in LazyTown, of all places. The episode "Who's Who?" features Robbie Rotten making a perfect robotic clone of Stephanie from a toy lookalike, and the citizens of the town can't tell which is the real one. A dance-off is suggested, with Robbie, Mayor Meanswell, and Bessie Busybody as judges. The clone goes first and ends her routine with a stylish jump move; Stephanie then takes her turn with a similar routine, but doesn't do a jump. The judges think that the true Stephanie must be the first one, because her dancing was better, but Trixie realizes that only the real Stephanie would have enough self-confidence and faith in her friends' ability to know the truth to deliberately leave out a move she could easily do. This convinces Ms. Busybody and the Mayor, but not Robbie—thankfully, though, the clone turns back into its original toy form at that moment, so the question is settled. Stephanie still thanks Trixie for speaking up and figuring out her plan.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A handful of Magic: The Gathering cards play like the puzzle variation, where one player splits a group of cards into piles that the other must choose to use/keep or discard. Fact or Fiction is one such card.

  • Bertolt Brecht also does this with a child at the end of his play The Caucasian Chalk Circle. In his version, it's known who the biological mother is, but the boy had been raised for most of his life by a woman who was not his biological mother, so the question is whether he should be returned to his biological family or remain with his adoptive mother. The adoptive mother is the one who ends up being willing to give up the child rather than see him harmed, and the judge consequently rules in her favor.note 
  • The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) gives this familiar Biblical scenario an anachronistic satirical twist:
    Matt (carrying a baby doll): King Solomon, King Solomon, I have a question about yesterday! Are you suggesting that since we can't agree on whose baby it is, we should split it in half and let the mothers decide?
    Solomon: No, I've reconsidered. I personally find splitting babies in half morally repugnant; on the other hand, I'm not sure the government should interfere with a woman's right to choose.

    Video Games 
  • In Crusader Kings III, when playing with the Royal Court expansion every so often you're forced to reenact the story when playing as a King or Emperor. Typically you can either pick one of the two mothers at random, or Take a Third Option and raise the child as your own (upsetting your family and vassals as they'll have the same inheritance rights as your actual children). However, with a high Learning skill your character actually remembers the original story and resolves it the same way Solomon did. Alternatively, if your character has the Callous trait, you can actually split the baby in half and be Hated by All.
  • The lore for the Just After The End mod for Crusader Kings II had a case where Dalton Aureus, king of Gran Francisco, was asked to resolve a dispute over church property between competing Christian sects. After hearing the cases from both sides, Dalton stood and asked the two sides if they were willing to share the property. When both refused, Dalton declared that since neither side could agree, he would have the church demolished and the sects could build two new churches on the property. With that, one of the sects quietly relented, as they could not bear the cost if the church was demolished, while the other persisted. Dalton instantly awarded the property to the relenting sect, as the other could afford to build another church.
  • One of the quests in Dungeon Siege III has you settle a land dispute between a Goblin baron and a human landowner. You can tell them to just split the land and deal with it and they'll agree, though neither are terribly happy about it (and the Goblin notes that this is a coward's choice).
  • One event in Golden Treasure: The Great Green has a flock of woodpeckers and a group of squirrels invoke the Spiritkeeper's aid, with each requesting that the other be driven from the tree the two have made their home. The Spiritkeeper, being a dragon, can threaten to burn the tree down instead, whereupon both sides will quickly realize that they can get along after all.
  • In Israel's Golden Years (1986), an educational Apple ][ and Commodore 64 game in The Baker Street Kids series based on The Bible, the titular kids enact the judgment of King Solomon in the "Solomon's Wisdom" segment, with some doll (as the baby) held up with a pretend knife to it for some reason.
  • In Zap Dramatic's Sir Basil Pike Public School, if you pick the boy's path, the player character feuds with Dave over a bike: you believe he took it from you while you were inside a store, but he says it's his own bike and you stole it. Taking the problem to Mr. Hartrup results in him offering to do this to the bike. It doesn't exactly work out, though, because if you tell Ted not to cut the bike up, then Dave will also tell him not to cut it up, which does not solve the dispute at all, and he's forced to take the bike away until you and Dave can come to an agreement. If you do tell him to cut it up, then he will give it to Dave. For those who are curious, if you do this path correctly, you later learn the bike is Dave's, the confusion arose because you both happened to get the same model bike and both were placed next to each other outside the store.
  • Yes, Your Grace: A pair of female petitioners will show up fighting over a baby. One dialog option lets the player solve the issue exactly as Solomon did.


    Western Animation 
  • One episode of American Dragon: Jake Long shows Jake attempting to negotiate between two tribes of fairies over custody of a magic apple (the tree that the apple grew on is in one tribe's territory, but the apple itself hangs over the other tribe's territory). When he suggests splitting it, both sides protest because doing so would destroy its magical properties. Jake's grandpa then steps in and quells the discussion by eating the apple.
  • One episode of Ben 10 (2016) has Ben fighting with Villain of the Week Billy Billions over a rare Sumo Slammers card, with the latter going ballistic and attempting to steal the RV in retaliation over Ben getting the card first. When Grandpa returns, he is furious over Ben playing hooky when he should have been watching over the RV in his absence. He tears the card in half, giving one half to Ben and Billy.
  • The Trope Namer is shown in the fourth episode of Il était une fois... l'homme, with Maestro as King Solomon.
  • Susie Carmichael from Rugrats used this method in a Rugrats comic story where Tommy was arguing with Angelica over custody of his star ball.
  • In The Simpsons this trope inspired Reverend Lovejoy to come up with a solution when he and his wife were fighting with Homer and Marge over a mattress that somehow seems to invigorate the sex life of any couple that sleeps in it. Marge's only complaint was that Lovejoy cut the mattress diagonally, making it look like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Subversions, etc.

  • In a Mountain Dew ad that showcases Davey and Goliath, the titular kid and Tommy fight over who gets the Mountain Dew. When Davey's father, John, sees the fight and learns what happened, he asks Davey to hand over the Mountain Dew; John then drinks it all and then says, "Let that be a lesson to you." The boys feel ashamed, with Davey saying, "We got hosed."

    Anime and Manga 
  • Subverted in the All There in the Manual portions of Martian Successor Nadesico. In a competition to see who would get custody of Ruri, Prospector asks Yurika and Minato to each grab an arm and pull. When Minato lets go first (after Ruri cries in pain), Prospector awards custody to Yurika, because she would never let Ruri go.
  • An odd variation in the final episode of Steel Angel Kurumi Encore. A contest is held between the Steel Angels as to who will have Nakahito as their master and it's down to Kurumi and a mysterious masked Angel. At the end of the race, the two snag Nakahito and begin a tug of war as they race towards a finish line. Nakahito cries out in pain and Kurumi, frightened for her master's safety, lets go. Because of this, Kurumi is declared the winner. Then, we find out that the mysterious Angel wasn't an Angel at all but one of the two spies working for the government who had a somewhat unhealthy fixation on him, so she would have lost any way!
  • Mousse directly references the Judgment of Ooka in Ranma ˝, upon seeing Akane and Shampoo try to drag Ranma in different directions. After the usual setup, though, his version rapidly goes off the rails, saying the mother's love was strong in both of them... so the child was ripped apart and nobody lived happily ever after. Note that he considers this a good ending, because it means death (or at least lots of humiliating pain) for his hated rival Ranma.
  • The Japanese equivalent to Solomon's judgement is referenced in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, when Fujiwara and Kaguya begin arguing over who is a better teacher to Shirogane and begin pulling on his arms. The narrator relates the tale of the magistrate Echizen Ooka, who ordered the two women to essentially play tug-of-war with the child, decreeing that whoever pulled the child away from the other could keep them. In the story, the true mother is revealed to be the one who chooses to let go when the child starts crying out in pain. The subversion comes about when neither Fujiwara and Kaguya is willing to let go, and poor Shirogane simply gets violently yanked back and forth for fifteen minutes until the girls run out of stamina.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in a story from the Batman: No Man's Land bat-crossover with an actual baby that two women lay claim to, but neither of whom is the child's real mother, who entrusted the child to the first woman when she (the mother) was near death and when she set the baby down to get something, the second woman found the baby and assumed the first woman had abandoned it. The "real" and "false" mother both react with horror at Batman's suggestion. Batman's second proposal is that if they care about the child they can learn to look after it together, since in No Man's Land, everyone needs to stick together to survive. This gets through to them and they learn to become friends.
  • Subverted in a later She-Hulk comic - Shulkie, at the time, was being some form of cosmic judge, and was brought a case in which the two (alien) parents were contesting custody of the child. She thinks to herself "oh, it's the Judgment Of Solomon", and orders that the child be cut in half, expecting the trope to play out as it did originally. The alien father takes her literally, and cuts the child in two. She's horrified, until someone points out her brilliance, since the species concerned can regenerate from this, and the parents end up with a child each.
  • Subverted horrifyingly by the Emperor in Fables. Two brothers disagree on how to administrate the land they inherited, and can't divide on their own. Instead of granting the division, the Emperor says that, because strong families are the foundation of the Empire, he will remove the material things that separate the brothers—by commanding that the land and property be forfeited to the Empire and the servants and tenants of the land killed.

    Comic Strips 
  • Subverted in FoxTrot. Jason and Paige are arguing over an object, until their mother has finally had enough, and suggests they remember what Solomon said. "Something about cutting children in half." The two immediately try to foist the object on each other.
  • Subverted in La Biblia Contada a los Pasotas, a Spanish comic-book adaptation of The Bible. King Solomon uses this trick but only to walk near both candidates and watch them closely. He identifies the biological mother because she has the same eye color as the baby.

  • Almost An Angel: Terry Dean, who correctly believes himself to be an angel but is still having trouble understanding the whole religion thing after a life as a professional thief, suggests resolving two boys' dispute over a ping-pong paddle this way. The boys look at him quizzically, and then rush off to play Space Invaders.

  • There is a joke about two women bringing a young man to King Solomon and arguing over whose daughter he promised to marry. Solomon orders to bring his sword with the usual line... and then gives the man to the one who told him to go ahead with the cutting - obviously, she's the true mother-in-law.

  • Played With in Lottie and Lisa. Lotte had a dream where the two sisters' father threatened to saw them in half, while mother begged him to allow her to keep both of them. In the end, they settled for metaphorical Solomon Divorce (which is what had really happened).
  • Subverted in the Myth Adventures novel Hit And Myth, where Skeeve (disguised as King Roderick) makes the ruling during a dispute over a cat.
    This was supposed to inspire them to settle their difference with a quick compromise. Instead, they thanked me for my wisdom, shook hands, and left smiling, presumably to carve up the cat.
  • Happens in a theater performance in one of the Judge Dee novels: Two brothers are complaining that their brother's half of the inheritance is too large. The judge looks at both lists of bequests, and dramatically... hands each brother the other list.
  • In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry Finn tries to explain the story of King Solomon to Jim. Jim fails to get the point of the story, and comments that Solomon doesn't seem very wise, since half a child isn't very useful (he compares it to cutting a dollar in half, with the point that it's worthless). Huck keeps repeating that Jim doesn't get it (though the fact that he doesn't explain the point himself may indicate that he didn't get it himself).
  • In Pyramids, Pteppic, elevated to Pharoah of Djelibeybi, is confronted with the need to make a Solomonic judgement over ownership of a bull which has fattened on two farmers' pastures. Thinking that his decision will be remembered for ages, he makes his judgement known, which confuses the claimants. The High Priest Dios gets in first and makes the ruling clearer. Apparently the Pharoah is merely the figurehead who legitimizes decisions made by others, i.e. by Dios. Dios's decision is that the bull should go to the more pious man, and he should immediately sacrifice it to the gods.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in The Cosby Show. Rudy and Olivia are arguing over who gets to play with a toy. Vanessa suggests cutting it in half, so Rudy and Olivia then argue over who gets which half!
  • Double-subverted in What It's Like Being Alone, when Sammy tries to settle an argument between Brian's robot parents. First, they argue over who gets which half. And then it turns out that Sammy wasn't trying for this trope anyway, and just wanted to see Brian get cut in half.
  • The Israeli skit show Makom liDeaga re-enacts the judgement given, but the women say nothing... and the baby is cut. After a short pause of horror, one woman starts calling Solomon a murderer, slowly saying it louder and louder until she screams at him repeatedly in hysteria and has to be taken out. Solomon says in embarrassment, "Well, I guess the one screaming was the mother... Wasn't she?"
  • Happens in an episode of The Drew Carey Show where Drew is studying the Bible. Two of his coworkers get into an argument over who owns a cat and Drew proposes to cut the cat in half, even taking out a pocket knife in the process. Both women are immediately horrified at his suggestion and leave.
  • In one episode of Sesame Street, two kids argue over who gets to keep a drawing they made together. Oscar suggests tearing it in half so they each get a piece, but they kids don't like that idea since they love the drawing, so they decide to just make another drawing so they both have one.
  • One Chespirito skit parodies the Trope Namer's tale. When Solomon suggests that the baby would be cut in half, it is one of Solomon's subjects who gets horrified, leading Solomon to decide he's the baby's mother.
  • On Welcome Freshmen, vice-principal Mr. Lippman sees two girls fighting over a textbook and has a fantasy of the three of them acting out the story from the Bible. After this, he takes the textbook and a handsaw and offers to cut it in half. The girls don't care that much about the book and leave as Lippman continues obliviously sawing away. Then his secretary catches him and scolds him for vandalizing school property, telling him the book will be coming out of his salary.
  • Jokingly referenced by Potter in an episode of M*A*S*H when the doctors are squabbling over who gets to give a baby a checkup. He declares that he's going to make a "Solomon-like" decision — "cut Winchester in half, ignore [Hawkeye and BJ], and do it myself."

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Both women object to cutting up the baby, leaving Solomon to scramble for a different solution. He asks them each what the baby's name is, but doesn't know which name is correct. Then he tries asking what color the baby's eyes are, which both answer correctly. He works it out in the end—one of the women forgets what she said the baby's name was, exposing herself as the liar.

    Standup Comedy 
  • The Trope Namer is heavily lampshaded by comedian John Mulaney in his special The Top Part:
    "...What kind of awful bitch has just stolen a baby —she stole a baby— and the first time she's asked about it, she's like 'Look, I'll take what I can get!'?"

    Video Games 
  • Spoofed in Jade Empire: the Black Whirlwind regales how he intervened in a romantic dispute over a woman by doing this. He didn't threaten to cut the girl in half, he just came out and did it. He's just that kinda guy.

    Web Original 
  • In The History Of Grob part 4, it's mentioned that King Magnificent the First would always settle disputes by cutting a baby in half, whether or not it was relevant to the dispute. He just really, really enjoyed murdering babies.
  • A Tumblr post attempts to settle the ongoing internet debate as to whether .gif is pronounced with a hard or soft 'g.' One user finds evidence that an Old English word of the same spelling is instead pronounced 'yiff.'
    Tumblr user yourownpetard: This is the language equivalent of King Solomon suggesting cutting the baby in half.

  • Irritability subverts this by having both characters agree to have the cat cut in half.
  • In Latchkey Kingdom, a king subjected to this dilemma passes the buck on a "usurper" and goes into exile rather than bother with figuring out a solution. The usurper decides to marry the mothers together... even though each already has a husband.
    • Nick Daniel also played with this trope in a side story to his earlier comic 70-Seas, the "God Dog" Sparky is asked to make one of these judgements when he's in an especially hellish mood and tells them to twist the baby's head off and throw it in a river. When they object he barks them off. Later, after getting laid he tells them to share the baby, which they think is pretty stupid.
  • C-Section Comics demonstrates that some baby judgments don't require the wisdom of Solomon to settle.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Word of God tells a variation on the story about the Demiurge Solomon David, who is possibly an alternate universe version of the actual Solomon. When informed of the dispute between the two women, he delegated the case to a high ranking clerk, who quickly investigated the lives of both of them to determine the true mother (as well as how the baby was conceived by an illicit relationship with an imperial officer). The lying woman is executed, the real mother is sentenced to six months of hard labour, the father is dishonourably discharged, and the baby is made a ward of the state.
  • Dumbing of Age: Both Joyce and Walky want to write a daily comic strip, but there's only one spot. Daisy suggests they split the days. Walky agrees, but Joyce demands all or nothing. Daisy gives it to her, as she clearly cares more. "I just Solomoned your asses." Walky points out that her suggestion was a perfectly valid compromise, and shouldn't have been a test.
    Walky: Solomon was about a baby! I was just trying to be nice!

    Western Animation 
  • Memorably subverted in The Simpsons episode "Simpsons Bible Stories":
    Solomon/Homer: The pie shall be cut in two, then each man shall receive... death. I'll eat the pie.
    • Another subversion later when Ned Flanders adapts the same story into a movie (financed by Mr. Burns) in "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass". In this version, Solomon (portrayed by Judge Roy Snyder) actually goes through with cutting the baby in half, panics, and kills himself by cutting himself in half.
  • A Rugrats episode with a subversion: Angelica's jurisdiction over Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil is usurped by a rival baby at the park, leading to a lengthy power struggle until he eventually suggests that they "split" the four of them. Angelica considers this and asks, "Who gets the heads?" The rival explains that he meant they would each take two of them, prompting a fit of outraged pride from Angelica, who says they're all hers and she's not settling for half.
  • Subverted on Recess with a doll. In a prelude to a very terrible rule, Gus, sitting in for King Bob, gives the doll to the wrong girl, since the real owner insisted she'd rather see the doll with the other girl than have it cut in two. His advisers point this out, but cheer him up with the very shallow assurance that he made the second-best possible decision.
  • Parodied in an episode of Histeria! King Solomon gets presented with the two women alleged to be the mother, and he suggests (like in the original) cutting the baby in half. Both women react with disgust, declare they're not the mother, and leave, forcing Solomon to take ownership of the baby. To make it worse, neither of the two women claimed to be the mother in the first place; Solomon's guards just picked up two random women off the street.
  • Also done in an episode of Captain N: The Game Master where Princess Lana had to make a judgement over ownership of a cow. The challenger claimed that he should have ownership of the cow over its original owner since the animal grazed on his land. When she proposed to dividing the cow, neither claimant wanted to give up their half. The matter was settled peacefully in the end, (and without Lana's mediation,) however, when the two disputants agreed to divide the cow's dairy products.
  • On the Israeli satire show M.K. 22, when the resident undercover terrorist steals a time machine in an attempt to prevent the Jewish settlement of Palestine, only to create the circumstances that led to them doing that. One of his attempts involves trying to assassinate King Solomon, who is dozing off in front of the two women, by throwing an axe at him and accidentally slicing the baby in half instead. The women are entirely unfazed and praise Solomon's wisdom instead.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "A Flurry of Emotions", Flurry Heart is left to play with the Cakes' babies while Twilight Sparkle buys some treats from Pinkie Pie. Pound and Pumpkin start fighting over a toy balloon, and Flurry Heart gets the bright idea to break it in half so they can share. This just ends up in Pound and Pumpkin getting mad at her and chasing her around Sugar Cube Corner.
  • All Hail King Julien has Julien fond of referencing this, but he does it in reference to a pineapple (and thus, giving each person half is actually an ideal solution) and a ball (destroying it and making both of the children cry as a result).
  • In the first episode of season 6 of The Adventures of Puss in Boots, "Save the Town", the new ruler of the thieves Esme, passes this judgement over two thieves arguing over a doll. One of them asks if he can have the legs, and they both seem quite happy with this.


Video Example(s):


Homer's Dream

Parodied. Homer becomes King Solomon in a dream, and plays the mediator between Carl & Lenny over a pie.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / JudgmentOfSolomon

Media sources: