Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / Maury

Go To

https://mediaproxy.tvtropes.org/width/350/https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/maury_5010.jpg

"Maury, I am [insert huge number here] percent sure that he is the father of my baby!"
Almost every mother seeking paternity on the show from a deadbeat dad

Maury, formerly titled The Maury Povich Show, is a syndicated daytime talk show where host Maury Povich talked with guests about various problems and issues in their lives, including teenage pregnancy, medical conditions, phobias, paternity tests, domestic violence, and more.

The show first aired in 1991 and was produced by Paramount Domestic Television in national syndication. In 1998, the show began exploring "trash" topics like cheating spouses and DNA tests. Not coincidentally, around this time, he had defected from Paramount to what is currently NBCUniversal Television, who also produced and distributed fellow trash TV survivor Jerry Springer.

The most common element used in the show is DNA tests, sometimes taken to the extreme if a single man was accused of making multiple kids from different women, or when a single woman brought multiple men on the show (sometimes over the span of several episodes) to find her baby's father. The men always said, "That baby don't look nothing like me!"

Many episodes also feature rowdy, out of control teen girls who disrespected and abuse their mothers and/or siblings (they always said "You don't know me!" when confronted about said wild behavior); lie detector tests; men who treated their women like slaves; and crazy footage caught on tape (cheaters caught in the act, insane accidents, etc.). While not shown very often, there have been many episodes of mothers with extremely obese toddlers and young kids (usually ranging from ages 3-7) and their mothers who always were either clueless as to why their child kept getting fatter; who knew they're giving their kids too much junk, but didn't know what to do; or ones that firmly believed making their child dangerously fat made their kid special and beautiful. There have also been episodes about guests trying to overcome their phobias, missing children, and "Maury's Talented Kids", where really cute kids sing, dance, etc., sometimes for cash prizes or family vacations.

Around certain holidays, such as Valentine's Day or Christmas, the show celebrated said holidays by having either a group of people dressed as women (but some were men or vice versa, so the guests have to figure out who was who) or had Jack Hanna bring in a bunch of exotic animals to entertain the children in the audience.

In September 2022, the show aired its final episode after 31 years, with Povich retiring following its conclusion.

You can also play the drinking game (at your own risk).


You ARE the father, and a user of these tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Maury sometimes couldn't help but laugh at some of the banter between his guests.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Pretty much the sole motivation for the show to have episodes where a boyfriend/husband was mentally and physically abusing their girlfriend/wife. The show tried to avert this by showing wild and out of control teenage girls abusing their parents and/or siblings, but it then became just the inverted version of this, where the show made it look like only teenage girls were capable of abusing their families, and not teenage boys.
  • Argument of Contradictions: A staple of the show.
  • Artistic License Biology: A lot of the guests on the DNA test episodes had a tenuous grasp on how conception and genetics work. Specific examples, many of which also overlap with Artistic License Statistics, include:
    • The man who said "That [girl] can't be my baby because I only make boys".
    • The man who claimed that he wasn't the father because the baby had six fingers.
    • Another who insisted that a baby wasn't his because the baby didn't have six fingers.note 
    • One who somehow thought that when a woman who thought she couldn't have children had a baby anyway, this meant it couldn't be his because she was supposed to be infertile, but yet another man could get her pregnant.
    • "That baby can't be mine because they have blue eyes!"note 
    • "That isn't my baby because they look [insert different race here]."note 
    • A rare case of mother stupidity on this show which doesn't involve her promiscuity, or at least not directly. The potential father denied being the father because the baby was clearly racially mixed, and both the mother and he were white. The mother's response? "Skin color's got nothin' to do with nothin'". Needless to say, he was not the father. For some reason, the mother actually got furious and went after the guy, and when asked why, she said something along the lines of "Because he's a (bleep bleep bleep)!", making her look even worse.note 
    • A white couple had a baby who was obviously half-black, but the husband was unaware of his wife's affair and was totally convinced the baby was his.
    • A black woman brought in a baby that was clearly 100% black, and claimed that a white man was the father. Obviously, he wasn't.
    • A pair of episodes featured a white woman who brought in a baby that was clearly 100% white, and each time she claimed that a black man was the father. Neither man was.
    • A white woman had a clearly Asian-looking baby while the assumed father was a Hispanic man. Needless to say, the audience could easily tell he's not the father, and it was proven true.
    • Sometimes, there's a mother who just had the baby about two weeks prior to the show, and the father is right away saying that it doesn't look like him.note 
    • The father's right-handed. The mother's right-handed. The child's left-handed. Ergo, the kid's not his because two right-handed people can't have a left-handed child!note 
    • One guest stated that he couldn't be the father because he only had one testicle. He ended up being the father.
    • Many, many men claim they couldn't be the father because, "we only had sex one time!". One time is all it takes.
    • One potential father in 2016 actually averted this. He used an actual genetic tool, a Punnett square, which shows the potential offspring of two parents using dominant and recessive genes, as his argument that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby was not his, but rather than cite the square as definitive proof, he also acknowledged that the chance of him being the father was still there. He was the father in the end, and he took it well.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • It's difficult to feel sorry for the women who went out of their way to taunt potential fathers only to be proven wrong afterward.
    • It's impossible to feel sorry for men who pleaded and cried when they got caught cheating.
  • Audience Surrogate: Maury himself for the TV audience, especially in the rare times where he called out the studio audience.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Frequently seen with couples where one thought the other was cheating on them (usually while the girlfriend or wife was pregnant), but the lie detector showed the accused was faithful. This also applies to the family members of the accuser from time to time. Cue the hugs and tears.
  • The Baby Trap: It's pretty obvious that some of the mothers attempted to do this in order to get child support out of the supposed fathers.
  • Beneath the Mask: Some of the men, and their family members or current girlfriends/wives if they were with them, who were initially happy that they weren't the father of a child, reveal that it was just an act and they were actually furious/emotional about the results.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not claim that the lie detector was either rigged or malfunctioning, or Ralph Barbieri would call you out for it. Likewise, never question Ralph's integrity in general. For example, one guest insinuated that his girlfriend slept with Ralph so she could pass the lie detector test. Ralph looked like he was ready to kill the guest.
    • Bickering guests got to Maury quickly.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In this case, it's better to lie than be truthful. Some guests would not submit to lie detector tests, or always lie on them, and then still try to lie after being caught lying.
  • Bittersweet Ending: One man came on the show because he wanted to prove that he was the father of a woman who was in her late teens/early 20s. He very much wanted to be her father (it was the mother who was denying it), and even went so far as to tell her that even if he isn't the father, she can come to him for anything. He also noted that as happy as he would be to find out he's the father, he would also be very sad, because he'd missed out on her whole life because the mother claimed someone else was the father. He turned out to be the father.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Especially when an obvious cheater was called out by a lie detector test, and they kept insisting they're innocent.
    • During one DNA test episode, a white couple came on the show for two DNA tests for their fraternal twins. Despite the fact that it was obvious to everybody, including the fiancé, that the fiancée cheated on the former and that he wasn't the father, she claimed that she never cheated and the twins' dark complexion was due to it being hereditary on her side of the family. The DNA tests revealed that he wasn't the father. Even after the truth came out, she still claimed that she hadn't cheated.
    • One guest was given a chance to be honest before Maury read the results of her lie detector test. She decided to lie about everything and was promptly called out for it. Afterwards, she was forced to tell her boyfriend the whole truth about her misdeeds.
    • One guy who was accused of cheating was shown falling for the sexy decoy, making out with her on camera. It's heavily implied that he even sent her nude photos. When confronted with this, the guy claimed that it wasn't him in the photos.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: The out-of-control preteens, who could be just as bad, oftentimes even worse than their teenage counterparts, as well as some older guests who may be physically small, but had mouths and/or egos more fitting of a person who is 8 feet tall. One particularly egregious example was a guest on an out of control episode who was nine-years-old.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: The show had a whole genre of episodes dedicated to extreme versions of these, teenage children who were shamelessly disrespectful towards their parents and engaged in reckless sex and violence, use drugs and alcohol, sometimes even prostituting, prostituting other girls, affiliating themselves with gangs, or selling drugs.
  • Censored for Comedy: The show is randomly sprinkled with bleeps, even during (seemingly) silent moments. It becomes especially jarring when Maury tries to say something and one of the guests, or the audience, curses, which the show bleeps out. This creates a weird second of silence which throws everything off.
  • Chocolate Baby:
    • Every once in a while, a white woman would bring a clearly mixed-race baby on the show claiming that it's their white boyfriend/husband's baby, when obviously it's not, although in one episode the white husband did believe it was his.
    • There have also been subversions. For example, a white woman and her black boyfriend had a white-looking, blue-eyed baby. He claimed that the baby was "too white" to be biracial. It turned out that the baby was indeed his. They had a toddler together as well and that child was similarly looking, though slightly darker.
  • Cringe Comedy:
    • One can't help but laugh at the fact that some of the women who came on the show say they're absolutely positive a man was the father of their baby seconds before a DNA test proved them wrong. One specific example of this was a woman who said she was a million percent sure that a man was the father of her baby, although she claimed she was pregnant for 10 and a half months. After the DNA test proved that the man in question was not the father, the woman broke down in tears and ran backstage, screaming "I knew it!" over and over again.
    • One particularly cringeworthy example involved a white woman that had a mixed-race baby. She pointed to two possible men, both black, and when neither of them turned out to be the father, she woefully cried "They're the only two black men I've slept with!", much to the amusement of the audience. Afterwards, Maury then explained to the viewers that they later tested yet another potential father, and he wasn't the father either. Oh, and neither was the next man after that.
    • Examples of negative paternity results when a woman claimed that the man was the only person she ever had sex with almost always ended up being this. If they ended up coming back and get additional negative paternity tests, this made things even more awkward.
  • Daddy DNA Test: Another staple of the show (and by proxy, so is Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe).
  • Defying the Censors: There were (probably) occasional unintentional censoring fails here and there, most commonly very brief obscene gestures that somehow snuck past the censors. However, in previews for episodes, the previews will often cut off just right after the obscene content pops up on the screen so that the viewer only sees it for a split second, whether it's swearing or showing the middle finger. Usually, the obscene content will not be censored in the previews (although profane language will be slightly obscured, mouths will still be moving and you can make out what they're saying). The same thing is also prone to happening in the credits, especially older episodes.
  • Disappeared Dad: On the out of control teen girl episodes, it was almost always only the mother present. Rarely would a father ever appear and whether or not there was a father was never mentioned, implying that many of these teen girls had single mothers. This was usually the case for teen girls who showed up for DNA tests as well. Furthermore, when a father did appear, it's treated as a huge deal.
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet:
    • Some men and women would celebrate when they pass the first question(s) of the lie detector test, only to fail the rest of the test. The accuser, and occasionally Maury, would tell the accused this while the results were being read.
    • Some women did this when they thought a guy was the father of their child shortly before Maury revealed that the guy wasn't. One notable example of this is Telia. She was bragging that her search for her daughter's father was over and that this would be the last time we would see her on the show. Telia was incredibly confident that the guy was the father. This was despite him being the eleventh man that she tested. The guy, predictably, was not the father. While Telia was wrong about the results, she was right about one thing; she never came back on the show again.
    • One guy was brought on the show, who'd had seven paternity tests in the past, all proving he was the father. Maury even joked that the guy probably knew more about paternity tests than he did. He was on the show because a former lover, as well as his current lover, and the mother of several of his kids, were both convinced that the former lover's daughter was his eighth child. Maury pulled out the results, and got as far as "You are" before the woman looked smugly at him and said she knew it. Maury, unperturbed, continued his sentence by saying "NOT the father!"
    • One guy was brought on the show by his wife, who admitted to him that she had slept with his cousin and that their daughter might not his. 48 hours later, the guy and his cousin were given a DNA test. Once it was revealed that the cousin wasn't the father, the wife and husband celebrated along with the cousin until it was revealed that the husband was not the father either.
  • Double Standard:
    • Female guests were usually treated more sympathetically than male guests.
    • The show would occasionally leave out some details about a guest during an update episode in order to make them look better. One notable example is Ricktoria. During her first two appearance on the show, she found out that her boyfriend Clinton was not only cheating on her with her mom, but was trying to get the latter pregnant. On her third appearance, Ricktoria revealed that she cheated on Clinton with his best friend Juan. She then revealed to both of them that she lied about being pregnant. Ricktoria's third appearance was usually not mentioned in updates about her.
    • The out of control teen episodes almost always focused on the girls.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Happens during the rare event where both a man and a woman were hoping that the man was the father and the DNA test proved that he wasn't.
    • A huge percentage of the guests on the show, especially the wild teens and preteens, ended up being arrested numerous times and having multiple children after their appearances on the show. Some particularly egregious examples of this include the wild teen girl who was arrested for murdering someone, one teen girl who ended up being murdered herself, and the couple who was charged with sexually assaulting the sibling of the child they brought on the show.
    • Even if the guy was the father of a baby, he still had to deal with an abrasive, emotional wreck for up to 18 more years, and the woman eas going to have to deal with a man who likely wanted nothing to do with her or her child. Worst of all, the child had to deal with two people who, more likely than not, wouldn't give them a very good life because of this.
  • Dramatic Pause: Maury occasionally did this while he was reading the results of a DNA or lie detector test.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: During the phobia episodes, the other guests would call out the audience members for laughing at people for having very real, flight-or-fight reactions to being confronted with their fears.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: One segment involved a teenage couple that was set to get married in two weeks, but the bride-to-be suspected that her fiance had fathered a baby with another girl. The suspected mistress then advised the bride-to-be to just call off the wedding right then because, "You're bringing him on the ''Maury'' show two weeks before the wedding!"
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Despite the fact that some men initially celebrated onstage when they found that they weren't the father of a child, they would help Maury comfort and encourage a sobbing mother backstage, no matter how abrasive she was beforehand.
    • It seems as if, no matter how many times a person cheated, their guilt and infidelity was tossed out of the window as long as their infidelities didn't result in any questionable paternity, such as a woman getting pregnant by another man, or a man getting another woman pregnant while in a relationship. A woman would hug and kiss their man after a DNA test proved he wasn't the father of another woman's baby even though he lied to her about it, and men would hug and kiss women if they were the father of their baby even if the women did, in fact, cheat on them many times. A particularly egregious example of this was the case of a woman who was being accused by her husband of cheating with another man and the husband believed that the woman's child may belong to that man. A lie detector test proved the woman had sexual contact with that man many times.note  However, a DNA test proved he was the father of the woman's baby. The woman then made the man kiss her feet, which he did.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Some of the guests who have appeared on the show have names that makes you wonder what were their parents thinking.
  • Epic Fail: One paternity test episode had a woman insisting that a man was the father of her two-year-old son. Why? Because he did the same odd dance that he did. Needless to say, he wasn't the father.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The wild teen girls will often admit to being less-than-perfectly behaved, but they also would deny doing things like having sex in their parents' homes or prostituting themselves, saying that they have more respect for themselves/their parents than that. Whether they were actually telling the truth is a totally different subject.
  • Exact Words:
    • It's not out of the ordinary for accused guests to try to trick their loved ones by using confusing terminology, such as a guest who claimed they were a virgin saying they weren't having sex, or someone saying they weren't cheating on their spouse, which suggests they may have done it many times, but for some reason, may not be currently seeing anyone their loved one doesn't know about.
    • Usually, guests who cheated on their boyfriends and husbands around the time they got pregnant said that the child in question may not be their boyfriend/husband's child. One woman who cheated on her boyfriend, however, went an extra mile by explicitly telling everybody that "her five-year-old son [was] not his". When asked to explain how she was so sure, she said it was because she cheated on him with about six other guys. The child in question was not her boyfriend's.
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn: Often happened when a denying man was proven not to be the father of a child or when someone was exonerated of cheating on their significant other. The audience, who most likely booed the person beforehand, often clapped and cheered for the accused while heckling and booing their accusers, especially in the case of paternity results.
  • Fidelity Test: The "sexy decoys," wherein a beautiful woman flirted with a man backstage. 99 times out of 100, the man took the bait, then got called out on it when he insisted he would never cheat. Though the man often got just as mad about being set up.
  • First Girl Wins: Averted often, in cases where women were fighting with men over paternity explicitly due to a presence of a new girlfriend/wife, even moreso if the man in question was not the father or if the man was the father but still refused to be in the woman's/child's life due to his new significant other's influence. This is played straight in cases where the man ended up leaving his new girlfriend for his old one after favorable paternity/other results and they ended up being a family.
  • Flipping the Bird: Used to be aimed constantly at the studio audience when they reacted negatively towards out of control teens and other guests.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • During DNA tests, if multiple men were involved, the first guy that Maury mentioned when he read the results would never be the father. For instance, suppose Bob and John were unsure if they were the father of a child; the second you hear Maury say, "When it comes to [child's name], Bob...", you can immediately conclude, regardless of what John's result is, that Bob is not the father.
    • If Maury opened up the lie detector results asking if the cheater had sexual intercourse outside of the relationship, they bombed the test. It will just get worse from there. Alternatively, if it's the last question, they're going to ace the test.
    • If both a DNA test and lie detector test were involved, the order which the tests were read generally determined the outcome. If Maury read the DNA test first, the outcome would be positive, and they're going to pass the following lie detector test. If Maury read the lie detector test first, the outcome would be negative (with the subject failing, confessing, or having something negative revealed about them), with the following DNA test having a 50/50 chance of ending badly.
  • Genre Blindness: You'd think the guests who were brought out to be ambushed with big secrets would guess ahead of time what was about to happen. This is particularly egregious on cheating episodes, when they put a suspected cheater in the green room with a sexy decoy to see if he made a move. Naturally, the guy always took the bait; if he'd ever seen the show, he'd know there was a camera taping his every move.
  • Ghetto Name: All over the place. This includes names that are very embarrassing, hard to pronounce, or are spelled weirdly.
  • Happy Dance: Some people got very excited when they learned that they were / were not the father.
  • Heroic BSoD: They may not always be heroic BSODs, but examples include:
    1. A mother found out the man she thought was her baby daddy wasn't the father after all. This is usually accompanied by her running backstage in hysterics.
    2. A mother with two potential baby daddies found out the man she wanted to be the father wasn't (and vice versa).
    3. A man found out he was indeed a father when he clearly didn't want to be.
    4. An accuser, when a lie detector test determined that their partner was unfaithful.
    5. A mother with two or more potential baby daddies found out that none of the guys were the father.
    6. A father found out his beloved child was not biologically his due to the mother's affair.
    7. The lie detector exonerated the accused but also found the accuser guilty of what they were trying to pin on the other.
  • Honorable Marriage Proposal: A frequent topic during DNA tests. Often, the man would say that if he was the father, he'd take on fatherly responsibilities.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: There are cases where a man believed he was not the father of his mate's baby because someone else said it wasn't. This usually came from people who didn't like the man's girlfriend/wife for various reasons, such as the man's sibling, mother, or best friend. This is subverted when the accuser(s) were proven right and the man made the right choice all along.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Some guests who accused others of infidelity were usually guilty of this themselves. Depending on the situation, either the accused tended to pass the lie detector test while the accuser didn't or they both would fail it.
    • The wild teen girls were notorious for calling the women who brought them on the show terrible names, like whore, slut, and bitch, while bragging about how men they have slept with. Occasionally, they would also brag about how much money and gifts they received for doing this.
    • One man who was accused of fathering three babies with three different women, with the youngest and oldest being only two months apart, denied this because "all three of the women are nothing but hoes". He was the father of two of them.
    • People often talked about how they love their significant others, despite the fact that they cheated on or abuse them. One particularly egregious example was a woman who said she "can't live without (her boyfriend)", despite her cheating on him with six different men, all within the period of her conceiving her son. The child in question was not his.
    • One woman who claimed that either another woman's boyfriend or his cousin was the father of her baby refused to take a lie detector test in regards to sleeping with the other woman's boyfriend (the woman's boyfriend denied he slept with her, but the woman on for the paternity test said they did have sex and he may be her baby's father) saying that "he knows they had sex", and criticized the woman's boyfriend, saying if he didn't have anything to hide, he'd take the test, despite her refusal to take the test herself. To make things even more suspicious, after a DNA test proved that the other woman's boyfriend's cousin was not the father, the accusing woman seemed very shocked and upset, despite the lady's boyfriend not yet being ruled out. The second DNA test proved that the other woman's boyfriend wasn't the father either.
  • Hypno Fool: Some episodes are stage shows.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: South Park called out Maury for the possibly exploitative nature of this in the episode "Freak Strike".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Occasionally, guests who acted unpleasant would make a valid point about the current situation that they're in.
  • Large Ham: A lot, if not a majority, of the guests on the show reacted in ways that were clearly tailored to garner attention and sympathy. Predictably, this resulted in some over the top behavior. This often backfired, as someone who went into hysterics after hearing unfavorable paternity or lie detector results, would usually do nothing more than attract more scorn from the home and studio audiences.
  • Last of His Kind: With the cancellation of Jerry Springer in 2018, Maury was the last surviving trashy talk show of the kind which once dominated daytime TV in The '90s.
  • Lie Detector: Which were always deemed accurate, no matter how implausible the accusations actually were. Apparently, it was so good that the show could determine how many times a guest had cheated.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The original version of the series, The Maury Povich Show which aired from 1991 to 1998, is this compared to the one that proceeded it.
    • The Christmas specials where Maury would allow children into his show where people would bring in live animals. Those specials had a more friendly and fun tone compared to the normal episodes.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Many of the guests, especially the out of control teen girls, wrre walking stereotypes of lower-class people. Several of these girls admitted to having assaulted people, stolen money or items, or multiple sexual partners. To make things worse, some of them were actually proud of their trashy behavior. One girl, Rayletha, admitted to being drunk while she was on the air.
  • Malaproper: Happened all of the time on this show, almost always originating from the guests. Notable examples include the man who denied he was the father of a baby because he had a "receiving hairline" note  and the baby didn't, and a woman who claimed she was stuck in the hospital with "walking limonia" note  while her boyfriend/husband was out cheating on her. Another woman said she believed her five children belonged to the same man because they looked like "quadriplets". note 
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Almost all of the DNA tests involved cheating in some way.
  • Manipulative Editing:
    • Nearly every preview of the next segment before the commercial break are played in a way that makes some situations look a lot worse than it is, due to edited audio and/or splicing clips together.
    • Sexy decoys were probably used by the show way more often than what was shown on television due to the fact that the show likely only showed clips where the accused cheater was caught doing something questionable with the decoy, and most times, the guests were smart enough not to take the bait.
    • Due to time constraints, especially and primarily in older episodes, a lot of content was omitted from the final tape that aired on television. A prime candidate for this would be favorable lie detector results when the guest failed all of the other questions, which makes some lie detector tests seem very incomplete due to allegations emphasized on earlier on the show never being explicitly confirmed or denied to the home audience or not. Newer episodes seem to improve greatly on this and they seem to show the entire lie detector results, even if a guest only failed one question.
    • Some guests' prior appearances may not be mentioned in detail or even at all in updates about them. This was probably due to the fact that it may not be auspicious to the guests of the show to show the audience what happened during those appearances. For example, Simone, a woman who tested many men for her son, was incorrectly stated to have appeared on the show 10 times during one appearance, when it was really 13 times; the other times were related to her difficulties with her boyfriend, whom she cheated on 200 times. In Simone's earlier appearances, where these shows were referenced in detail, Simone was often ridiculed by the audience. A guest named Sholonda was stated to have only brought two children on the show (a daughter and a son), when in reality, she also brought a second daughter to the show. During that appearance, Sholonda and her husband were apparently quite hostile towards each other and that appearance was never mentioned again a while after it aired.
  • Momma's Boy: Some of the male guests were this or were perceived to be this. As a result, they were usually ridiculed by the studio audience.
  • Mood Whiplash: Usually when a DNA test or the lie detector was involved. The most notable examples includes:
    • The studio audience got on a man when he said that he isn't the father of a child, only for them to cheer for said man the exact moment it was revealed that he was right.
    • A man that initially interacted negatively towards the studio audience when he said that he wasn't father of a child would occasionally go into the audience to celebrate with them when it's revealed that he was right. This also occasionally happens when it's revealed that a guy wasn't a cheater. Furthermore, some men would immediately go back to interacting negatively towards the audience afterwards.
    • A woman who was very confident that a man was s the father of her child prior to results being read immediately ran backstage in tears when she found out that he isn't.
    • The studio audience would always get on a man if he was accused of cheating. If he passed the lie detector test, the audience would cheer for them.
    • In one episode, a woman came on with her husband. She had an affair but she now regretted it and wanted to be sure her husband was the father of their fraternal twins. The couple had a brief moment of relief to learn that he was the father of one twin only to be shocked by the reveal that he wasn't the father of the other.
  • My Beloved Smother: There were several that who appeared on the show. Most were the mothers of the featured guests.
  • Never Trust a Title:
    • The episode "I'm Praying My Brother Is Not My Baby's Father" gained a significant amount of infamy for the Incest Subtext involved in it. The title is in reference to a case where a woman had to get both lie detector and DNA tests after she was accused of cheating on her boyfriend with his brother, and she did not know who the father of her child was; it's supposed to be in the boyfriend's voice. In a truly shocking twist, she admitted to cheating before the results were even read. Neither the boyfriend's brother, nor the boyfriend himself, were the father. In a small bit of consolation, however, she did pass the lie detector about cheating with his brother.
    • This was subverted once in the episode "Is My Brother My Baby's Father?", where a woman, Lakinia, who was on the show before with her boyfriend Quentin to reveal she cheated on him and that her son might not be his (he wasn't the father) and who was raised in several group homes ended up cheating on her boyfriend Quentin with a guy she just met named Curtis, who also grew up in foster homes. Later, at a family reunion, it was discovered that Lakinia and Curtis shared the same birth mother, who was never in either of their lives. Curtis even wanted to be the father of Lakinia's son. To make things even more sordid is that Quentin and Curtis share the same father, which makes Lakinia and her fiancé Quentin basically stepsiblings. And the DNA tests proved that neither of them was the father.
    • Shows with recurring paternity guests have extravagant and scandalous titles like "34 Men...Is One of Them the Father?" but these titles usually refer to the amount of men that every guest in that episode tested, not just one particular guest.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Several guests made multiple appearances on the show; however, it was not out of the ordinary for one or more of the guest's prior appearances to not be mentioned in updates about them (i.e. a guest appears 5 times, but only appearances 1, 3, and 4 are mentioned in episode 5).
    • During a different kind of noodle incident, a segment of an out-of-control teen episode ended with the audience suddenly screaming before the show abruptly cut out. Afterwards, the girl from the segment, who appeared on the show a few months prior, was escorted off of the stage by security guards while other teen girls on the stage were cheering for her and is not seen again until a bit later in the episode. It isn't clear what happened that resulted in the girl being detained by security, but the girl said she wanted to get help so "things like this never happen again". There was an update on the girl, and the appearance where she was escorted off of the stage is never mentioned even once during the update.
  • Not Me This Time: One episode had a man who'd previously had seven paternity tests, all proving he was the father. But when a former lover was convinced he was the father of her daughter, the paternity test proved he wasn't.
  • Oh, Crap!: The guests with phobias ran off the stage in hysterics whenever Maury forced them to confront their fears.
  • Once per Episode:
    • During DNA test episodes, expect the following to always happen at least once:
      • The mother was [insert huge number here] percent sure that the man in question was the father of their baby.
      • The accused deadbeat came up with an excuse on why he couldn't be the father.
      • The potential father claimed that the child didn't look anything like him, the mother countered that the child lookedexactly like him.
    • If the man was the father:
      • The new father became upset because he had to deal with a woman he couldn't stand.
      • The mother acted very smug and got all in the father's face on how she was right all along, and how he'd have to take care of her baby. If someone close to the mother happened to be there, they would (usually) get all in the father's face as well.
      • The mother did an over the top Happy Dance. If some close to the mother was there, they would (usually) join in.
      • The new father eventually accepted responsibility of the baby and tried to make amends with the mother. This is subverted if the father still tried to reject the baby.
    • If the man was not the father:
      • The mother run backstage in tears with Maury going after her to comfort her. Bonus points if the man went after her to gloat.
      • The man did an over the top Happy Dance.
      • The mother was glad that the former lover wasn't the father because she hated his guts.
      • The mother vowed to keep searching for her baby's father.
    • Every lie detector test involved questions about cheating.
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: One of the most notable and well known examples.
  • Pushover Parents: The parents of the violent teenage girls wrre usually this.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The stories of the man and woman always contradicted each other, although in a lot of cases it's obvious that one of the parties was lying to make themselves look better. Frequently, men claimed the woman was promiscuous even if she wasn't, or use some outright bizarre "science" to try and prove why they couldn't be the father of her baby. In the inverse, women who truly slept around Hand Wave or ignored their promiscuity, or seemed to believe that insisting the man was the father enough times would make it true. In any case, it's playing "he said, she said" with their stories quite a bit on a segment that involved a DNA test until the results came out to prove things one way or the other.
  • Really Gets Around: Half the guests, but special attention goes to the mothers searching for their baby daddy and brought upwards of a dozen men on the show. She would have to had slept with all of these guys within the span of a month.
  • The Reveal: Another staple of the show. Examples include:
    • Whether or not a male guest was the father of a child. How the man reacted to the revelation depends on the situation.
    • If a guest was a cheater or not.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: One episode has a woman accusing her husband of cheating on her with other women, which he denied. It turns out to be true; he did not sleep with other women. He slept with other men.
  • Rule of Three: Whenever a cheating man or woman confessed their secrets to their significant other, the secrets always amount two or three, but no more.
  • Sassy Black Woman: The vast majority of black female guests on the show fall under this, especially the ones who were out of control teens.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: This was applied in full force in the out of control teen girls and abusive boyfriend/husband episodes. The offenders in question were sent to a place to show what would happen if they didn't change. Bonus points if the people sent there break down in tears and promised they would change for the better. This is subverted when a follow up episode shows that the offenders learned absolutely nothing, especially if they were recorded to show remorse in their first appearance.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Maury employed a "sexy decoy", an attractive woman claiming to be another guest, to hit on men suspected of cheating in the green room. It's shocking how much this always worked.
    • Some women on the show actually went so far as to name their son after a potential father. Flip a coin, and there's a good chance that child was not actually the potential father's son.
    • Maury occasionally did this to himself concerning DNA tests. If a lie detector test was involved and the results were read beforehand, he'd always state that it was irrelevant. Sometimes though, the results of a DNA test showed that the lie detector was indeed relevant.
  • Serial Escalation: Occasionally, a woman would make repeat appearances, dragging several men along each time for a DNA test. Double digits wasn't uncommon.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • In 2004, a woman was on the show because her wild 16-year-old daughter was extremely desperate to have a baby and admitted that she had sex thousands of times to get pregnant and she was desperate to get her to stop before she succeeds in getting pregnant. Her older daughter ended up changing her life, but she had another daughter who was 14 and was also very desperate to have a baby. The younger daughter was given a pregnancy test and she was proven to be pregnant, effectively rendering her mother's efforts to stop her daughter from becoming a teen mom useless. This is also applies to any wannabe-teen-mom who ended up getting pregnant anyway after going through emotional jail or mother-for-a-day programs, sometimes more than once.
    • Complicated paternity stories that involved numerous elements such as whether or not someone cheated, or whether or not the people involved still had feelings for each other, another woman who was saying that someone's husband or boyfriend was the father of their child, a man claiming he was the father of a committed woman's child, or a new significant other who could't stand the accuser or the accused in some cases become essentially meaningless after the DNA test results were read. A general rule of thumb when it comes to Maury is that no matter what happened, no matter how lengthy, complex, emotional, or tumultuous the build up was, nothing matters as long as the paternity results were favorable for the party in question, which means someone could cheat all they wanted as long as they didn't get anyone pregnant/they didn't get pregnant by anybody else. In some cases, a person was hit with a ton of bricks when they heard that their boyfriend did indeed get someone else pregnant or their girlfriend did cheat and they did get pregnant by somebody else, only to act as if absolutely nothing happened and more often than not, still slammed the person who their significant other cheated with even though they were proven right, though they may have been wrongful for sleeping with someone who they knew was in a relationship.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Another frequent show topic is women who were nerds growing up but have evolved into beautiful young women, often with the help of breast implants and other cosmetic surgery. If their stage antics are to be believed, we have every reason to think they worked as strippers. Men were sometimes featured on this type of show, and as expected, they're always muscle-bound beefcakes.
  • Signing-Off Catchphrase: "Until next time, America!"
  • Slut-Shaming: The studio audience would do to female guests during the following:
    • When a woman found out that the guy she thought was the father of her child wasn't.note 
    • When a woman was revealed to be a cheater.
    • When one female guest was revealed to have slept with another guest's man.
    • When a female guest showed no remorse when their promiscuity hurt their current or ex-boyfriend/husband.
    • If they were out of control teens.
  • Stripperiffic: Many of the out of control teens wore very revealing clothing.
  • Suicide Dare: Women who were looking for their babies' daddies sometimes said this when the possible daddy was particularly belligerent about paternity. This is subverted in that the daddies (probably) weren't suicidal.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Some of the mothers who came on the show for a DNA test were teens. Infamously, the youngest mother to ever appear on the show for a DNA test wasn't even a teenager yet. She was twelve, and the 13-year-old boy she tested was not the father.
  • The Tell:
    • On a cheating episode, if a guy said, "After today, she has got to change [and stop accusing me]", there's at least an 80% chance he's cheating.
    • The higher percent "sure" a woman was that a man is the father of her baby, the lower percent chance he actually was the father.
    • If the guy being accused kissed his girlfriend/wife when he walked onstage, he's usually telling the truth.
    • Guests who smile before or after a result was read, almost always gave themselves away that they were lying about something.
    • If a home DNA test was mentioned, and subsequently disregarded for the Maury DNA test, the home DNA test was almost always proven right.
    • If a woman brought two men on for respective DNA tests, and one of them happened to be the guy she cheated on her significant other with, or even slept with when they were on a break, there's a good chance that neither of them was the father, which comes with the double gut punch that the woman's cheating was even more widespread than the boyfriend thought.
    • If a man brought a woman on because he doubted paternity due to cheating, it would usually require both a DNA and lie detector test. If Maury read the results of the DNA test first, not only would the man always be the father, but his girlfriend/wife would pass the lie detector test as well. Conversely, if a woman took a lie detector test in conjunction with a DNA test to prove her innocence and Maury read the lie detector test first, the woman would always fail or admit to questions on the lie detector test.
    • If Maury said that he going to give a guest a chance to tell the truth before he read the results of a lie detector test, the guest would almost always confess. Despite this, some guests still attempted to downplay some of their misdeeds.
    • As aforementioned, if multiple men were involved for a DNA test, the guy that who was mentioned first would not be the father of a child.
    • If a guest refused to answer certain questions during a lie detector test, they would almost always give away that whatever was being asked was true.
  • Too Much Information:
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Usually, the parents of the out of control teen girls claimed that their daughters were once sweet, loving, and innocent and they didn't know why they'd chosen to act out.
    • In a specific, non-out of control teen related example, we have Moyisha, who was a recurring paternity guest. During her first couple of appearances, she didn't act especially off putting, despite the numerous men she tested. However, her behavior took a turn for the worse during her fourth appearance. First, she insulted and cursed out the potential father's sister and mother for simply stating that they didn't believe that the baby was related to them. Then, she tried to physically attack the sister and mom when they came out onstage for virtually no reason and cursed the mom again after she said that the baby was not her son's. Moyisha also madr it a point to harass the mother and sister for child support before the results were read. After Moyisha received a short "The Reason You Suck" Speech from the sister, the results were read and the guy was not the father.
    • Emma. Let's start with her first appearance where she wanted to prove that a man named Michael fathered her son, Elijah. The twist: Emma actually lured Michael away from her own cousin, Kenyetta, who wanted to prove that he fathered her daughter too. With all that in mind, Michael was not the father of either child. After that, Emma brought on three more potential men; all three were not Elijah's dad. This did not stop Emma from browbeating those three after the results and demanding that they take care of her kid regardless. Addarius got the worst of her abuse, by far. That said, seeing how hurt she was after the fourth negative test pushed her into jerkass woobie territory.
    • Simone was always infamous for her crude and pushy behavior towards the men (a total of eleven) she tested for the paternity of her son. However, during her last paternity appearance, she is worse than ever, she proudly admits to harassing the eleventh potential father, flat out telling him that her son is his, despite there already being ten other possibilities, and to top it all off, she hushes him when he tries to speak, saying that "speaking to a real man (Maury)". The man was not the father.
    • Ayriel. She was fine on her first appearance, despite having cheated on her husband Matt after he had saved her life as a child, she was remorseful and wanted to build a life with him. On her second appearance, she had left Matt for another man and was openly bashing him despite acknowledging that she cheated again. Admittingly, Matt wasn't exactly cordial either, but who can blame him?
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The studio audience had an extremely strong mob mentality, to the point that it's so black and white that it's simply a case of "first person gets cheered, second person gets screamed/heckled at. If first person were found to be a cheat, then heckle/scream at the first person and cheer on the second person..." and so on, and so forth.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Almost all the clips shown on what happens next before the commercial break always spoil (mostly with the lie detector/DNA test episodes) due to showing the guests' reaction to the results without actually showing the viewer the results.
    • Some episodes subvert this by showing an unrelated clip of the audience acting like the test said someone was not the father, when it was actually the opposite.
    • Yet another episode resorted to a Quote Mine. A cheating mother, an affair kept secret for 22 years, with a daughter whose father might not actually be her father. The trailer that came before the DNA test showed the man saying, "I never want to see you again". However, the DNA test revealed that the man was the father, and when he talked to the mother he said, "I was thinking 'I never want to see you again', but I decided to be there for our daughter, even if she isn't mine." A classic bait and switch.
  • Tranquil Fury: When bickering guests pissed Maury off, especially during DNA test episodes, he showed this in spades. The best indicator that he's angry is when he did not even bother to calm the guests down; he went straight to the producer for the envelope.
  • Transparent Closet: There have been a few times when guys claimed that they were 100% straight even after having affairs with men or Drag Queens.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Another recurring subject on the show, with out of control teens and preteens. These kids claimed to drink, smoke, do drugs and even engage in prostitution.
  • Tsundere: Almost every single guest on the show, male or female, with the exception being the majority of the mothers of the wild teen girls and almost all of the significant others of the abusive men. Expect guests to be screaming their heads off at each other and making up tearfully a minute later after hearing favorable paternity/lie detector results.
  • The Unfair Sex:
    • Cheating men were always treated as evil, while cheating women were treated as wounded gazelles.
    • A woman could bring on upwards of a dozen men for DNA tests. The men, who had every right to be doubtful they're the father at this point, were always booed off the stage when they said this.note 
    • Men who (allegedly) got multiple women pregnant were rightfully called out for being irresponsible. Women, however, who had sex with multiple men around the time of their pregnancy were rarely called out for their irresponsibility and were treated more sympathetically. This is especially egregious if a woman brought several men on the show to determine the paternity of one child or had multiple children by multiple men.
    • This applied to teenagers; every time the show focused on out of control teenagers, it always showed that girls were the problem.
    • A 20-year-old woman was accusing a 14-year-old boy of being her baby daddy. Thankfully, he wasn't, but the fact that she wasn't in prison makes no sense. Imagine what would have happened if the genders were reversed. The same scenario (unfortunately) took place with a 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old boy, and the age issue was glossed over in this case as well. Though, the man could've been with the girl when he was 17 in this case.
    • From time to time, men would use a home DNA test to determine if a child was his. If it came up negative, the women would always claim that the test was wrong or corrupted. Every time the home DNA test said the man wasn't the father, the Maury DNA test has said the same thing. Maury, however, still treated the home DNA tests as insufficient evidence that the man was not the child's father. Ironically, Maury occasionally promoted home DNA tests from DNA Diagnostics Center before a commercial break.
    • In one notable subversion of this, a woman had two men who were possibly the father of her child. This seemed like a regular paternity segment until it was revealed that both men didn't know each other and each thought he was the father, presumably in an effort to bilk them both for money. She was rightfully called out for her behavior and booed.
    • Men accusing women of cheating were generally booed and looked at as being monsters as well, sometimes even after the results show they were right. On the inverse, the audience was always on the side of a woman accusing a man of cheating.
    • If a man fails5 even one question of a lie detector test, he was a monster that was booed off the stage and the woman crucified him for lying and then left him. It didn't matter what the question was that he failed, or if he also passed much more important ones (such as not having sex with other women), the outcome was almost always the same. Women, however, seemed to be able to get away with failing their lie detector tests entirely if it turned out that the man accusing her was the father of her baby. As a result, her misdeeds were usually get glossed over.
    • Men that use women for any reason were usually called out for being selfish. Women that use men, however, were rarely called out for this unless they were very unpleasant. For example, in one segment, a female guest came on the show because she was unsure if her current boyfriend or her ex-boyfriend was the father of her child. Making matters worse, both men wanted to be the father, they didn't like each other, and all three lived in the same house. While she claimed that sleeping with her ex was a huge mistake, it was obvious that she was using both men. The DNA test revealed that her current boyfriend was the father. Her ex was completely devastated by the results.
    • One guest actually called out the audience on this after being accused of being his ex-girlfriend's baby's father. He had stormed off backstage after being heckled when trying to give an explanation for his denial.note  He was proven right and yet he still had to be convinced to return back onstage. He only came out to receive an apology from his ex for embarrassing him on national television and wrongly accusing him.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: The "Man or Woman?" episodes were specifically set up to cause as many of these as possible. As a general rule of thumb, if you're trying to figure this out, the more tall, broad-shouldered, masculine, or homely a person looks, the greater the likelihood she's actually a real woman, and the most attractive and feminine-looking person there was always a man in drag.
  • Weight Woe:
    • In the plastic surgery episodes, many girls got liposuction due to being insecure about their weight and the bullying they received from it.
    • The audience was quite ruthless towards overweight people, women especially, and would and would often laugh and make "eww" noises towards overweight people backstage.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In one episode, an out of control teen named Rayletha planned on having a baby. She listed all the ridiculous names she's considering for her baby, one of which was Courvoisier.note  When Maury asked her if she knew what that's the name of, she responded "A LIQUOR! WHAT I DRANK!"
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The episodes dealing with phobias.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Sometimes, an accuser simply refused to believe that someone was telling the truth, even when they completely pass a lie detector test.

Until next time, America.

Alternative Title(s): The Maury Povich Show

Top