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Series / Judge Judy

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

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

As an experienced family and criminal court judge, the titular Judge Judy conducts her courtroom with a sharp wit and a sharper tongue, evaluating legal disagreements between some of the worst human garbage imaginable who couldn't land a spot on Jerry Springer. The standard episode sees Sheindlin hearing the testimony of both parties, peppered with her own biting comments as needed, determining which has the better case and why, and then issuing a ruling. After the case, the litigants have a chance to speak to the camera and comment on how justice was or was not served.

Note that Sheindlin — though she was a real judge for many years — is not officially acting as a judge. The show is filmed on a set, not in a courtroom; the guy in front of her is a former New York City Court Bailiff, not a police officer; and the "public gallery" is filled by paid extras. She is officially an arbiter, a third party whose decision both parties in the dispute agree to accept. Also, the settlement is paid by the show itself, though Sheindlin has the power to determine how much of the remainder (if any) goes to the litigants themselves. While this may sound like cheap justice, several litigants have found that a fifteen-minute appearance on Judge Judy is enough to ruin their reputations forever.


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

In 2014, Sheindlin created another court show called Hot Bench, which is similar to her own show but uses a three-judge panel hand-picked by Sheindlin herself, similar to and inspired by the court system in Ireland. Sheindlin is not one of the judges, although she has appeared on a few episodes as a guest judge (as has her husband). Interestingly, Hot Bench was the original working title of Sheindlin's own show, as she initially didn't like the title Judge Judy.


Judge Judy contains examples of the following:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Occasionally, someone will get a genuine laugh out of Judge Judy:
    • One little girl told Judge Judy that she wasn't beautiful because she was "old."
    • In another case, the plaintiff's dog, who was allegedly attacked by the defendant's dog and was brought into court by its owners, started barking while the defendant was giving testimony, and the plaintiff's witness, who was holding the dog in his lap, quipped, "That doesn't mean we lost the case, did it?" This elicited a laugh from everyone, including Judge Judy. The plaintiffs did win.
    • On occasion, litigants have accidentally referred to Judge Judy as "Sir" and quickly corrected themselves. She once laughed it off and admitted it comes with her personality.
  • Appeal to Flattery: Some litigants try this with Judge Judy. It never works:
    Plaintiff: By the way, Your Honor, you look beautiful today.
    Judge Judy: Don't go there, Mr. Missry, because that'll be the fastest way for you out the door, sir.
  • The Artifact: In the intros since 2004, you can see that Judge Judy is in a different courtroom set, a remnant of a proposed renovation to the set that she rejected for being "too dark". In addition, before 2015 the “clips” showed Judy holding a gavel, something she typically never does.
  • As the Good Book Says...: In one case, a defendant began quoting Scripture to justify herself. Judge Judy cut her off right away:
    Judge Judy: I don't care what the Word of God says. This is a court. Don't preach to me.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • A few people have come on the show with unclean hands.note  Judge Judy won't let them get away with it.
    • In her summaries, Judge Judy makes it a point to chew out anyone for dumb behavior, no matter the side, if she feels like they deserve it. Interrupting one of these speeches will only increase the vitriol.
  • Audience Participation: Judge Judy usually doesn't allow it, and will often shush or threaten to throw out audience members for laughing too loud (and on occasion has actually done the latter). In one case, following an outburst of laughter after she'd said something that wasn't intended to be a joke, she actually threatened to put the entire audience out of the courtroom. On very rare occasions, however, she has solicited "shows of hands" from the audience to make a point: for example, while berating a defendant for not bringing her driver's license to court, Judge Judy asked for a show of hands from the audience as to how many people had their driver's licenses with them.
  • Berserk Button: Judge Judy has several. Most of these can be avoided with simple politeness and common courtesy:
    • Don't answer her questions with "Um" or some variant instead of "Yes" or "No."
    • Don't use filler words such as "basically" or "like".
    • Don't use egregiously incorrect grammar or syntax. For example, saying "tooken" instead of "taken." If you do, she'll make you look like a fool and will also often moan and offer a comment about how America is going down the toilet because people no longer know how to write or speak properly.
    • Don't interrupt her, unless you want to hear one of her favorite catchphrases.
    • Don't interrupt your adversary's testimony, even if said testimony is a lie. If you interrupt too often, your case will likely be immediately dismissed, especially if Judge Judy has already told you to be quiet.
    • Don't try Obfuscating Stupidity; she can see right through it:
    Judge Judy: Don't give me the dumb routine. If you're dumb, I'll know you're dumb. If you give me a dumb routine, I know it's a dumb routine. I know the difference, sir.
    • Don't wear extremely casual or revealing clothing to court. It may affect your credibility. In one early case, Judge Judy responded to a plaintiff who refused to remove her hat in court by dismissing the plaintiff's case, without prejudice, without even hearing it.
    • Don't look away from her when testifying. If you do, she will quickly remind you to look at her.
    • Don't pour a glass of water while she is talking to you. Judge Judy wants your undivided attention when she addresses you.
    • Don't call her "Judy" to her face. Calling her "Judge Judy" is fine, but not just "Judy". If you do, she will interrupt and remind you that you're not friends, and this isn't a talk show; therefore you cannot be on a first name basis.
    • Don't sue someone and then not bring the relevant documents. If you do that, expect a tongue-lashing about your idiocy.
    • Don't sue your landlord if you continued to stay without paying monthly rent. Any chance of winning the case once that is known is slim to none because Judge Judy hates squatters.
    • Don't come into court with unclean hands: for example, suing someone for the return of property or money you stole from someone else, or driving an uninsured car. Usually such cases are swiftly dismissed, because courts don't help people who break the law.
    • Don't come to court late. Judge Judy may spend as much time chewing you out for it as on the case at hand.
    • Don't come to court drunk or high. Drunk or stoned litigants annoy Judge Judy because, in addition to the litigant's lack of respect for the court, she can't ask questions if she believes the litigant is an "altered" state of mind. On occasion, she has actually halted a case and asked a litigant who was acting loopy to submit to a drug test. If the litigant refuses, she'll dismiss the case.
    • Don't play with your papers. Occasionally, Judge Judy has had Byrd confiscate the documents of a litigant who could not keep from shuffling them around.
    • Don't contradict your written complaint or response in your in-court testimony. Since both are provided under oath, one has to be a lie.note 
    • Do not attempt to show Judge Judy a signed affidavit. She won't even look at it.
    • Don't try to introduce hearsay as evidence.
    • Don't bring a witness to court unless they're directly involved with your case. Otherwise, Judge Judy will quickly identify your witness as somebody "just here to annoy [her]," and unfailingly treats this classification as the first order of business. She may even remove your witness from the courtroom before the case even starts.
    • Don't argue with Judge Judy when she's explaining the law to you. If you do, she'll become very angry.
    • Don't ask Judge Judy questions. She'll remind you that you aren't in the position to do so.
    • Don't cuss in the courtroom. If you do, your case will swiftly be dismissed.
  • Blatant Lies: Lots of people try to pull this, but as a "truth machine," Judge Judy will have none of it.
  • Brainless Beauty: Litigants like the "rocket science" girl, who say a lot of stupid things but certainly look nice while saying them.
  • Break the Haughty: A common occurrence. A certain case against a 13 year old school bully in particular showed that she has no tolerance for children with attitude.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Judge Judy herself. She's a native of Brooklyn, accent and all, and is definitely not someone to trifle with.
  • Brutal Honesty: Judge Judy doesn't mince her words about anything.
  • Bully Hunter: Judge Judy has no patience at all for kids who bully other kids, especially if the victims of the bullying are younger and/or weaker. She'll quickly point out that she isn't someone who can be bullied into submission, and will sometimes reduce the bully to tears.
  • But We Used a Condom: Said to a woman who claimed she got pregnant despite using contraception: "Well, I suggest you sue the birth control company, because it failed."
  • Canada, Eh?: First-run Judge Judy episodes are seen in Canada on the YesTV network and some other local stations (as well as on U.S. stations available to Canadian viewers), and Her Honor has entertained cases from Canadian litigants on occasion.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • In one case involving a 20 year old who got caught the first time he used a fake ID, Judge Judy lampshades this by calling him "the unluckiest person on Earth."
    • On more than one occasion, she has actually sent - or at least announced that she would send - a copy of the case in question to law enforcement in the litigants' jurisdiction if she's convinced that a litigant got away with some wrongdoing. This has included, on varying occasions, submitting cases to Child Protective Services involving neglectful parents and requesting confiscation of one defendant's driver's license for using a cousin's identity fraudulently during a traffic stop.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • Judge Judy:
      • "Just a second!"
      • "I'M SPEAKING!"
      • "Are you trying to talk over me? You're not gonna talk over me. You know why? They can turn off your mike and leave mine on."
      • "Don't speak to me until I speak to you!"
      • "This is my playpen!"
      • "You're an idiot!"
      • "Answer my question!"
      • "'Um' is not an answer!"
      • "Not a 'well'!"note 
      • "Baloney!"
      • "On your BEST day you're not as smart as I am on my WORST day."
      • "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."
      • "You're a MORON!"
      • "Put on your listening ears!" This is often used in conjunction with "God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason!"
      • "Stop playing with your papers!"
      • "This is not a give-and-take. You speak, I rule, and then you shut up."
      • "The questions are going to get harder."note 
      • "Don't try to figure out where I'm going. Just answer my questions truthfully." - often used in conjunction with, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to have a good memory."
      • "I'm not a therapist. I don't like people well enough to be a therapist."note 
      • "Beauty fades, dumb is forever."
      • "You got into a kerfuffle."note 
      • "If this were Pinocchio, your nose would be growing."
      • "They don't keep me here because I'm gorgeous. They keep me here because I'm smart."
      • "You know when teenagers are lying? When their mouths are moving."
      • "What?! Where did you think you were going?! A tea party?!" or " a dance?!" or " a tea dance?!" etc.note 
      • "I know EXACTLY who you are!"
      • "I'm like a truth machine. Someone starts to lie and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up."
      • "I've been in this business for ___ years."
      • "There's something wrong with you."
      • "You're a hustler!"
      • "If you interrupt again, your case is dismissed, and I'm throwing you out. Do you understand?"
      • "I don't care about how you feel. Your feelings are irrelevant to me. If you want to talk about your feelings, go on Dr. Phil."
      • "You're as thick as this table!"
      • "There's only one attitude here, and that's the one that CBS pays for: mine."
      • "You wanna get to the facts, you go to a therapist. You wanna get to the law, you come to court."
      • "RIDICULOUS!"
      • "Look at this face. Is that what you want this face to believe?" note 
      • "The ball's in your court." note 
      • "I am an ecumenical abuser." note 
      • "You say no, I say yes; I win, I'm the judge."
      • "I'm old; I can only do one thing at a time. Otherwise I get confused and then I can't trick you."
      • "(You look like a fool, etc.) in front of ten million people."
      • "Don't (or "You can't") tell me what [they] said."note 
      • "Don't (or "You can't") tell me what [they] knew."note 
      • "I don't care what you think. What you think is irrelevant to me."note 
      • "Have you ever been psychiatrically hospitalized? Are you on any psychotropic drugs?" note 
      • "So what?"/"Who cares?"
      • "If you want to make a fool of yourself, I'm more than happy to let you."note 
      • "Believe me, you don't want to fall into my mouth." note 
      • "That's not happening."note 
      • "Don't go off into tributaries. Just stay right there in that river." note 
      • "You picked [them]!" note 
      • "You ate the steak!"note 
      • "You can't do that!"note 
      • "I can't help you."note 
      • "Put your hand down!"
      • "Don't ask me; I wasn't there."note 
      • "Get to the point. I have other cases to do today."note 
      • "You have thirty seconds to tell me (about something)."note 
      • The occasional use of Yiddish terms, such as "bubbe meise."note 
      • While not a catchphrase per se as it isn't verbal, barely an episode goes by without Judge Judy rapping on her desk to get the attention of a litigant who is talking out of turn, interrupting her, or otherwise not listening.
      • "Listen to me very carefully!"
      • "That's all."
      • "Step out!"
      • "We're done!"
    • Byrd:
      • "Order! All rise! Your Honor, this is case number X in the matter of [Plaintiff] versus [Defendant]. Parties have been sworn in, Judge. [to the audience] You may be seated."note 
      • "Parties are excused, you may step out."note 
  • Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Judge Judy has committed this fallacy several times. A notable example involved one case where she accused a woman of lying when the woman claimed that she walked over a large distance to and from work every day. When Judge Judy didn't believe her, her opponent spoke up in her defense, confirming that yes, she in fact did walk that distance every day. Judge Judy admitted her mistake and apologized.
  • Cool Old Lady: Usually subverted with Judge Judy, as she often makes jokes about her failure to stay up to date with popular culture. This makes it all the funnier when she gets a pop culture reference right, because it will usually be used in a tongue-in-cheek way and/or with a side question to Byrd: "Did I get that right?"
  • Courtroom Antics: Judge Judy will often disrupt the proceedings to offer her opinions about her clients or society in general. She's not above asking litigants non-rhetorical questions and then shouting them down when they try to answer.
  • Creepy Monotone: With emphasis on creepy. One case where the plaintiff's husband sat quietly with a blank, expressionless stare, until he interrupted the defendant in the middle in the episode with "You lied about it" with a tone so creepy that everything felt silent as he said it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Judge Judy and participants have their moments:
    • Judge Judy during a case involving a harmed dog:
      Judge Judy: Are you nervous? Do I make you nervous?
      Plaintiff: A little bit.
      Judge Judy: Perfect.
    • A case involving a destroyed couch:
      Judge Judy: Is this your first time in Los Angeles?
      Defendant: You bet.
      Judge Judy: Are you having a good time?
      Defendant: Not right now.
    • Judge Judy is, however, usually quick to cut down litigants who try this with her. A typical reaction to deadpan snarker litigants is something along the lines of "Listen. This is not an audition, and I already have the job."
      Judge Judy: [to one particularly snarky litigant] The name of the program is Judge Judy. One day, if you are deemed amusing enough, you may be given your own program.
  • Dirty Coward: Several times, especially when the person who represents the plaintiff or defendant is not the sole person responsible for the incident. For example, in the case of Kelli Filkins, the defendant known as the "eBay scammer," the fraudulent listing was the work of Filkins and her husband, but Filkins came alone. Judy castigated the absent husband for throwing his wife to the lions.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Some of the cases that come to Judge Judy's court are a result of this. One example includes a woman who thought her boyfriend was cheating on her, so her response was to pour bleach all over his clothes.
    • Judge Judy will very quickly lower the boom on litigants who use calls to Child Protective Services, DCFS, DFS etc. to accomplish this:
    Judge Judy: Calling Child Protective Services is like calling 911. You call 911 when you feel as if there is some emergency, when you feel as if somebody is being threatened, when you feel as if somebody is being placed at risk. Now I'm not saying that those things weren't the case with these allegations that were made, by whomever they were made, but it should be made a FELONY in every jurisdiction, a very serious crime, for people to use calls to Child Protective Services in order to either incite, or resolve, or for retaliation, or for retribution, about some other issue, because they have limited enough resources at Child Protective Services to investigate REAL allegations of neglect and abuse. And when people use that Child Protective hotline for other reasons, it INFURIATES me, and if it was MY world, THEY'D BE IN JAIL, if that's what they're using the hotline for!
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • Judge Judy has little patience with litigants who respond to her tongue-lashings with laughter. In one memorable case, she ruled against a defendant for filing false abuse charges against her ex as a ploy to get sole custody of the couple's child. The defendant had been unable to stop herself from giggling throughout the whole cross-examination and continued to laugh after Judge Judy announced her ruling, leading to her to pause as she was returning to chambers and give the defendant an extra tongue-lashing. After it was over, the defendant wasn't laughing anymore:
      Judge Judy: I don't know why you find it funny. I don't find it funny, actually, I find it very sad. Because if what you're telling me is that since this all happened, he's been on a supervised visitation schedule, you, madam, are outrageous!
    • Judge Judy will sometimes admonish audience members for laughing too loud. On at least one occasion she had Byrd eject people in the audience for just this reason.
  • Dumb Blonde:
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first season had a variety of differences compared to what we’re used to, including a slightly different set. Notably, Michael Stull was the announcer for the first season before Jerry Bishop took over.
  • The Easy Way or the Hard Way: Played straight on occasion with Judge Judy, usually with a litigant who's blatantly lying or not giving her a straight answer to a question. "The easy way" will be telling her the truth. "The hard way" will involve her making the litigant look like a fool, and finding out the truth anyway.
  • Embarrassing Ringtone: A plaintiff's witness's phone went off in the middle of Judge Judy's ruling. The ringtone was a crowing rooster. She mocked him for it while she was chewing him out for not turning it off:
    Judge Judy: And how do you think everyone in the audience turned theirs off? By telepathy?
  • Emphasize EVERYTHING: The Opening Narration is clear about many things. Such as, "You are about to enter the courtroom of Judge Judith Sheindlin! (The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final! (This is her courtroom!) This is Judge Judy!"
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": A defendant once asserted that he didn't even know the first name of a bouncer he had hired to come to two of his parties. Judge Judy didn't buy that:
    Judge Judy: I don't believe it. I don't believe that you hire a bouncer to come to two of your parties and you don't even know his first name. What do you call him, "hey"?
    Defendant: We just call him Bouncer.
  • Evil Laugh: Judge Judy isn't evil but she will laugh cartoonishly evilly when a litigant says something stupid or lies poorly.
  • Exact Words: The technique used by some litigants to get around responsibility for this or that action. For example, one defendant accused of jumping on the plaintiff's car and denting the trunk denied responsibility since she'd offered him a ride and told him to "hop on the car."
  • Fun with Acronyms: In some older cases, when a litigant (usually a child) tried to blame someone else for some wrongdoing:
    Judge Judy: When I was in family court, we used to call that the SODDI principle. S.O.D.D.I. - "Some Other Dude Did It."
  • Genre Blind:
    • There are many plaintiffs and defendants who lack basic courtroom etiquette, like providing evidence, waiting for their turn to speak, speaking formally instead of in slang, dressing appropriately, and so on.
    • Occasionally lampshaded, such as a plaintiff trying to interrupt Judge Judy, while he was winning the case:
      Plaintiff: Your Honor, there was...
      Judge Judy; Just a second, listen to me. Does it sound like you're losing? I know you want to have your fifteen minutes, but I've already done the fifteen minutes with him!
  • Get Out!: Occasionally used by Judge Judy, usually with litigants (and witnesses) who don't follow her instructions to not talk while she or the other litigant is speaking. As in this instance, it will often result in the offending litigant's case being instantly dismissed.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Judge Judy's first objective, before entertaining, is to find the truth. It doesn't mean that she won't have biting comments for everyone involved, especially if the person who is owed money isn't free of culpability extraneous to the particular case she is overseeing.
  • HA HA HA— No: Judge Judy will occasionally pretend to laugh only to then lay down the law.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Judge Judy has one when litigants either act stupid, try to act "cool," or are lying on the stand and think they can get away with it:
    Judge Judy: Your hot temper started this whole mess! My hot temper's gonna finish it!
  • Hairstyle Inertia: With a few minor tweaks, Judge Judy's hairstyle remained more or less the same from the series premiere in 1996 until March 2019, when the 76-year-old judge unveiled a new, more youthful look, with her former bouffant gone and a short ponytail at the base of her neck. The new look has been compared to that of associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Hanging Judge: Averted. Judge Judy does try to follow the letter of the law, admitting that her hands are tied on a few cases. And while she's rather mean to everyone, she at least tries to be fair in her rulings. That said, don't expect to get away with things in the long run; someone might win the case, but their reputation will be destroyed in the process once word gets out about them.
  • Hypocrite: When Joseph Wapner criticized Sheindlin's behavior, she responded with:
    I refuse to engage in similar mud slinging. I don't know where or by whom Judge Wapner was raised. But my parents taught me when you don't have something nice to say about someone, say nothing. Clearly, Judge Wapner was absent on the day that lesson was taught.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison:
    • This Epic Fail at least amused Judge Judy and everyone else. The gist of it is that the plaintiff sued the defendants for stealing her wallet and listed some of its contents. One of the defendants then denied that one of the items was in the wallet, thus accidentally admitting that they stole the plaintiff's wallet and went through it, since that's the only way the defendant could have known what was in it.
    • In a case that aired on December 4, 2018, a woman who was being sued by her former friend for vandalizing his car. The plaintiff's evidence included a series of Post-It notes on which the defendant had allegedly scrawled an incoherent confession. The defendant denied writing the notes, but when Judge Judy asked the defendant to explain what "shermed" meant, this exchange occurred, which helped win the case for the plaintiff:
    Defendant: I was... I was drunk.
    Judge Judy: You were drunk?
    Defendant: That's what that means. That's what it supposed to mean.
    Judge Judy: Okay, good. Glad. Raise your hand if you did the vandalizing. [laughs]
  • Implausible Deniability: Defendants who try to do this will inevitably cause Judge Judy to use one of her catchphrases:
    Judge Judy: You know what my father used to say to me? He used to say to me, "Don't pee on my leg and tell it's raining."
  • Informed Judaism: Judge Judy often peppers her cross-examinations with Yiddish terms and phrases.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: The narration notwithstanding. Since 2004, her show's theme music has been a jazzed-up adaptation of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
  • Insult to Rocks: Used to describe a particularly annoying defendant:
    Judge Judy: [The defendant]'s got the moral character of an amoeba. Well amoebas may be alright, I don't know about amoebas. I'm apologizing to the amoebas, I don't wanna hear from any amoeba lovers, don't write me letters don't send me emails.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: In one case, Judge Judy had to go back for a moment to take medication for sore throat. The plaintiff then bragged to the defendant how he should have done his research on the show, how he's going to get a good deal from the $4,000 lawsuit on a $2,000 car, and generally being an idiot. Then Judge Judy returned, saying there's a television in her room where she could watch "Waddell Being an Idiot".
    Judge Judy: Mr. Fields... You're an idiot.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Judge Judy sometimes shows a softer side. Her tone of voice is much kinder when a litigant is mature and respectful. This is especially the case if innocent children are victimized. Additionally, when she's not in the courtroom, Judge Judy's a sweet grandmother.
  • Jerkass: Judge Judy herself, who always speaks her mind, regardless of the litigants' feelings. Then again, the truth hurts.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • The whole point of the show, with Judge Judy herself as the "jerkass". She's harsh, argumentative, and rude. She frequently insults the intelligence of plaintiffs and defendants alike. She is in a position of authority and has no problem with reminding people of this. But, given the types of people she has to deal with on her show, she's actually justified in her behavior because, unlike your average everyday rational person who can be reasoned with by logic and civility, many of the people who appear on her show are so perpetually clueless that nothing but jerkass behavior will wake them up to reality.
    • This on occasion applies with the litigants themselves, when Judge Judy admonishes a litigant for doing the wrong thing, but admits she can understand why they did it. For example, in a 2002 case, a woman was being sued for pouring a soft drink over the plaintiff's head in a movie theater. She said she'd done it because the plaintiff and his guest, having already arrived late, talked during the whole movie, and then insulted her when she asked them to be quiet. Judge Judy made it clear that while the defendant had no right to act as she did, she admonished the plaintiff for his rude behavior and ultimately awarded him only a fraction of the several thousand dollars he was suing for, further advising him to seek psychiatric help.
  • The Judge: One guess. Legally speaking, Judge Judy isn't acting as a judge; she's a third-party mediator that both the plaintiff and the defendant agree will make a decision about the case on their behalf. It's why she can get away with a lot of Courtroom Antics that would never fly in an actual courtroom.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Judge Judy is vocal on stating that the show is all about being a living example of her belief that those who do wrong should suffer consequences. This case is a complicated example. While those who do wrong don't suffer monetary consequences,note  they suffer big in terms of dignity; millions of television viewers worldwide will get to see how inhuman they really are. Being plastered all over the media and having the nation know who you are can make your life hell if you're good, like Oliver Sipple who saved Gerald Ford's life and got ruined by the publicity. If you're bad, like that one defendant who committed identity theft on her own sister and insisted she did nothing wrong, everyone you know and care about could turn on you after learning what you did. Another case would be Kelli Filkins, the defendant known as the "eBay scammer." Appearing on the show was the worst thing she ever did; the negative publicity resulting from her amoral behavior ruined her. Try having a positive personal life after that.
    • Plaintiffs get chastised for their bad behavior as often as defendants do, and sometimes end up losing their cases because of it, as in the case of the teenage girl who sued her ex-boyfriend for wrecking her car while acting as a designated driver so she could drink underage.note  or the woman who sued her lover's husband for damaging her car, but ended up losing the case because of alienation of affection when she admitted she'd continued seeing her lover even after she found out he was married.
    • There have been cases in which Judge Judy has had to rule in favor of a litigant whose behavior she found morally reprehensible because she had no choice. When this happens, she's quick to let the winning party know that she doesn't believe he or she deserves the judgment and is only ruling as she is because her hands are tied. On occasion, though, the monetary awards she has given to such litigants have been humorously miniscule - one young woman who had been driving recklessly through a residential neighborhood and who had been suing a neighbor for pummeling her car to get her to stop was awarded a verdict of one dollar. Even then, they still have to deal with the negative publicity mentioned above.
  • Klatchian Coffee: Judge Judy once halted a case because the plaintiff's behavior was so bizarre that she questioned whether the plaintiff was drunk or on drugs and asked her to submit to a drug test before she would continue with the case. The drug test came back clean, but the plaintiff admitted to having had five shots of espresso before coming to court. Judge Judy advised her to curb her coffee consumption.
  • Kubrick Stare: Judge Judy directs these and Death Glares at litigants who are demonstrating unusual dishonesty, stupidity, or are otherwise trying her patience.
  • Laxative Prank: One defendant pulls a variation of this, giving a cookie laced with marijuana instead of a laxative to the plaintiff. Judge Judy is not amused, pointing out that this is assault, not a prank.
  • Living Lie Detector: Judge Judy herself is, in her own words, a "Truth Machine". Very rarely does she acknowledge the possibility that she might be wrong:
  • Love Makes You Crazy:
    Judge Judy: People do stupid things when they're in love. That's why I've been in business so long.
  • Mama Bear: Having worked in family court for decades prior to starting the show, it's no surprise that Judge Judy is a fierce advocate for young people. Here's one example.
  • The Napoleon: Judge Judy stands at a mere 5'1 and is very outspoken with no patience for fools. She's also quick to point this out when it comes to litigants:
    Judge Judy: [after throwing a smart-alecky, argumentative defendant out of court] See what happens when you're short? You tend to become aggressive. And nasty. Aggressive and nasty.
  • Never Lend to a Friend:
    • A lot of the cases involve the plaintiff suing a former friend for an unpaid loan. The defendant's usual defense will be "it was a gift, not a loan," such as in this case. Judge Judy almost always rules in favor of the plaintiff, as well as giving them the advice: "Never lend money to anybody. As soon as you lend money, you become the bad guy."
    • This works in reverse when a plaintiff, who gave the defendant gifts as part of a relationship, sues for recompense after the relationship ends, claiming it was actually a loan. These cases almost invariably fail, since proving a loan requires certain paperwork which the plaintiff doesn't have:
    "You know when a gift becomes a loan? When the relationship is over."
  • Never Mess with Granny: Judge Judy is one of the most intimidating people on television. She's tough as nails and doesn't take crap from anyone.
  • Never My Fault: Almost everybody that appears denies fault. Even when Judge Judy rips them to shreds either by exposing their lies or by throwing the law in their face, quite a bit of them will continue to deny that they did anything wrong.
  • New Media Are Evil: Invoked in one episode in which Judge Judy offered this interpretation of the social networking website MySpace:
    Judge Judy: MySpace is one of those Internet sites where people who have nothing better to do with their time go and chat about a whole bunch of nonsense. ... You know, I've always said we could eliminate probably about a third of the problems in this country if people actually had to shovel coal in a furnace for heat, instead of wasting their time doing things other than the useful things for which computers were designed.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Judge Judy has never once been swayed by litigants who are in short skirts or low-cut tops. In past years, if the outfit was particularly ridiculous, she would send them out to either change or find something to cover up with. She rarely if ever does this anymore, though she's certainly not above making snarky comments about a person's attire.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Whenever Judge Judy drops her combative tone and speaks softly, it's either because she's really and truly pissed off or she genuinely feels for whomever she's addressing. The latter is especially evident when she's addressing children and (some) teenagers, because she dealt with a lot worse when she was a judge in Manhattan Family Court and is genuinely a Mama Bear for young people who have been genuinely handed a bad lot in life.
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: Lots of stupid people appear on this show and try to fool Judge Judy. In the end, they looking like a fool on national TV.
  • Police Brutality: Averted. A handful of cases have involved traffic cops suing for defamation and associated damages when the motorists they stopped form speeding accused them of brutality and unprofessional conduct. One defendant, a young woman, complained to the police department after she was unable to talk her way out of her speeding ticket; another, who was of Iranian descent, accused the cop of racial profiling. Both plaintiffs had recorded the traffic stops in question, and the recordings proved that they had been courteous and professional at all times; thus, they won, and the defendants, one of whom had even filed a $5,000 counterclaim for emotional distress, received severe admonishments from the judge.
  • Quit Your Whining: Judge Judy is unmoved by litigants who try to evoke her sympathy by going into tearful hysterics or by pouring out their life stories if a case isn't going their way:
    Judge Judy: [to a plaintiff in hysterical tears about the destruction of her grandmother's china] I want you to stop getting hysterical over NOTHING! ... It was a misunderstanding!
    Plaintiff: No!
    Judge Judy: You say no, I say yes; I win, I'm the judge. Goodbye.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: What Judge Judy's one of the best at, whether they actually suck or not, but most of them definitely do.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She may be harsh, but Judge Judy is an arbitrator and she doesn't take anyone's side. She's only to help who's in the right or wrong, meaning regardless on who's the plaintiff or the defendant. It's her job to be impartial, and while she does make a final decision, she has to hear both sides of the case before doing so.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Judge Judy and Byrd. She gets furious at the drop of a hat, while he hasn't once expressed anything other than absolute stoicism with a few exceptions.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Judge Judy makes a comment about "rocket science", which the defendant interprets as a request for information, as quoted under Dumb Blonde.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: The infamous "rocket science" girl is from Alamo, California, a very affluent San Francisco suburb, and definitely comes across as this. She doesn't seem to comprehend that a good person would replace a friend's property she damaged accidentally or not respond to a rhetorical question.
  • Rousseau Was Right: There are quite a few cases wherein the people more or less are at an agreement that something needs to be done, they're just trying to figure out who owes how much and what they should do, and are going to Judy Judy to have her act as an arbitrator.
  • Secret Test of Character: Jon Schirripa attempts to use this as an explanation for why he offered to sell two "adopted" dogs back to their original owners, once he began claiming that they abused the dogs. The Insane Troll Logic is swiftly disregarded.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Judge Judy once referenced a Johnny Carson skit from The Tonight Show while admonishing a teenage defendant for his bad behavior and letting him know he'd be in for misfortunes including, but not limited to, having several children with several different women and being jailed for non-payment of child support, unless he straightened his life out:
    Judge Judy: All these things, Mr. Beresford, are in your future. Carnac sees it!
    • In another case, she referenced Kathy Bates' character's car-ramming scene from Fried Green Tomatoes.
    • In the aforementioned "hop on the car" case, Judge Judy also threw the idiot defendant's witness out of court for being a smart-aleck:
    Judge Judy: Mr. Warhol would be very, very unhappy with you, sir. You just lost your 15 minutes of fame.
  • Shown Their Work: Judge Judy is a legitimate legal authority. Even if the litigants are clearly getting on her last nerve, she will try to explain which legal areas are in play and why the plaintiff/defendant does or does not have a case.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: As a former smoker herself, Judge Judy knows how unhealthy it is and occasionally calls out parents for smoking around their children or in such a way that their kids could be exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: A lot of defendants try to pull this, but Judy undoubtedly sees through it.
  • Tagline:
    • "Real cases. Real people. Judge Judy."
    • "The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final." This was used in the introduction of the show until the 2015-16 season.
    • "Want justice? [or "Are you in a family dispute?", "Have you been cheated?", etc.] Go to Like us on Facebook. And follow us on Twitter."note 
  • Teens Are Monsters: Judge Judy is a staunch believer in this because the teens that typically appear on the show provide evidence for it:
    "I've raised several teenagers, so I know that the first thing that teenagers do when they open their mouths is lie."
  • There Is No Higher Court: Which is actually, unlike most iterations of this, Truth in Television — arbitration awards are, except on narrow grounds, unappealable. On rare occasions, Judge Judy will dismiss a case without prejudice, particularly if she determines the case before her to be premature. Usually, however, when a case is dismissed, it is with prejudice and without appeal, even if the litigant has forgotten to bring the necessary evidence.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Litigants who act too familiar with Judge Judy will often get a dressing down. Often Played for Laughs, as in a case aired May 20, 2019:
    Defendant: Which do you prefer, "Ma'am" or "Your Honor"?
    Judge Judy: I prefer "Your Majesty." You can call me "Your Honor."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many of the litigants, which the judge frequently points out:
    Judge Judy: I'm not going to waste one further moment on this case. Between these two [indicating defendant and witness], I don't think I could put together a three-digit IQ.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • In her guest appearances on her series' spinoff show, Hot Bench, Judge Judy was considerably less snarky and vitrolic than on her own show. She even herself admitted, when deliberating with her colleagues, that she surprised herself at how much of a "softie" she'd become with regard to the case in question.
    • She's much more likely to speak gently to children. But, as noted above, not to teenagers.
    • She's also much more likely to be kind and respectful on the rare occasions she takes testimony from witnesses over the telephone.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Illustrated by Judge Judy's "Blueberry Rule":
    Judge Judy: Common sense dictates that if you buy a quart of blueberries and all the blueberries are nice, plump, juicy blueberries and one of them is moldy, and you say, "You know what? The fair thing to do is to not take out this moldy blueberry and make it feel bad. I'm gonna leave this moldy blueberry in the box and hope that all the healthy blueberries will make it well." ... And it's been my experience that the moldy blueberry doesn't get well from the well blueberries. What happens is, all the blueberries get moldy. So that when you have a very small number of children who are disrespectful, who are impeding the teacher from teaching the other kids who want to say, "Can you be quiet? I want to learn! I don't want to grow up to be a dummy! I want to be able to say a whole sentence without using the word 'like'!" They can't do that, because we leave in the moldy blueberries instead of taking them out.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted. Judge Judy is impartial when it comes to genders. As she often says herself, "I am an ecumenical abuser." This particularly shines through in cases involving two feuding parents in which the mother has taken some action to prevent the father from seeing the child. Judge Judy is always quick to let the mother know that, under the laws of every state in the Union, mothers have no more inherent rights to their children than fathers do: the child has two parents, who are regarded under the law as equals.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Some of the plaintiffs and/or defendants fit this description. One example: a teenager's mother whose daughter got a urinary tract infection and a plaintiff, a guest in their home, ended up taking her daughter to the hospital to have the infection treated. Then when the plaintiff was stuck with the medical bill, the teenager's mother refused to help pay the bill, showing a lack of gratitude to the plaintiff who got her daughter out of a jam when the teenager's mother didn't do it herself.
    • An example that occurs often is one where the plaintiff lets a defendant who is either a friend, lover, or family member stay with them because they fell on hard times, or lent them money or materiel items for the same reason, only for the defendant to take advantage of the plaintiff's generosity, having no intention of paying them back or making good on a deal resulting in them falling into some kind of serious debt. Depending on the strength of the case, the plaintiff will either win, or get a lecture from Judge Judy about the risk of trusting people before dismissing the case.
  • Unwanted Assistance: When a litigant who seems to be winning the case interrupts unnecessarily:
    "Do I LOOK like I need your help?" or "Does it LOOK like you're losing?"
  • What Does She See in Him?: Often invoked by Judge Judy in cases where two women are squaring off in a dispute over a man, especially if said man happens to be in court as a witness for one of the parties. It often involves Judy putting on her reading glasses and taking a good hard look at the man, muttering, "I must be missing something."
    You two are fighting over him? HE'S NOT A PRIZE!
  • Yiddish as a Second Language:
    Judge Judy: [to plaintiff] You tell me one bubbe meise, I find everything else that you say to me suspect! [turns to Byrd] That's a "grandma story."
    Byrd: I know.
    Judge Judy: A "grandma story"! It refers to the stories grandmothers tell, when they tend to exaggerate! It means it's an untruth!
  • You Are the New Trend: Not the first court show, but its success opened the floodgates for dozens of new court shows over the past two decades, including a revival of the original courtroom reality show, The People's Court. This includes several others produced by Big Ticket Television, including Judge Joe Brown, the second season of Swift Justice, and Hot Bench, which was created by Judge Judy herself.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Judge Judy invokes this on occasion when warning litigants to tell her the truth, or else:
    Judge Judy: [to a young football player being sued by his prom date for standing her up] If you lie to me, I'll wipe up the floor with you worse than anyone else who's ever tackled you.
  • You're Insane!: Often invoked by Judge Judy when a litigant says something particularly ridiculous:
    Judge Judy: [to a defendant being sued by her cousin for incurring traffic fines while using the plaintiff's identity] Now, you have thirty seconds to tell me why you don't owe those fines!
    Defendant: Because I thought she [the plaintiff] was doing community service.
    Judge Judy: Are you out of your mind? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND?! She's NOT doing community service for you! Why should she do community service for you? What are YOU doing?
  • Your Mom: Inverted by one lovable piece of work who claimed to have ten children by "about four" women and "your daughter." Judge Judy wasn't amused:
    Judge Judy: How many?
    Defendant: About four.
    Judge Judy: About four? What do you mean, about four? What does that mean, about four?
    Defendant: Um... about four of them, including... um... your daughter.
    Judge Judy: What are you talking about?
    Defendant: It was just a joke, ma'am. (pause)
    Judge Judy: Let me explain something to you, Fresh Mouth. I'm the only one who makes jokes. And I'm not being... I'm not making a joke...
    Defendant: This might be your show, but this is my episode!
    Judge Judy: (amidst gasps in the audience) No, no, no. No, no, no. You don't have sh... listen to me! You don't have... you don't have an episode! What you have to do is just answer questions. That is why you came here. To answer questions, so that I could gather information. Do you understand?
    Defendant: Kind of. Yeah.
    Judge Judy: Good, well perhaps if you'd stayed in school a little longer instead... and stayed out of the bedroom, you'd understand better.


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