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YMMV / Night Court

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  • Broken Base: The infamous "Wile E. Coyote" cameo from the season 7 episode "Still Another Day in the Life". Either it's a hilarious throwaway gag that comes part and parcel with a zany show like this or a nonsensical non-joke that feels like something Family Guy would do out of desperation and doesn't add anything to the episode.
  • Crazy Awesome: Harry.
    Harry: [having trapped a rival prankster judge in a giant balloon] Cleaver, you may be younger. You may be faster. You may even be smarter. But you will NEVER, EVER, be crazier... [pulls out a giant pin] than me.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Epileptic Trees: One popular theory among fans of Night Court and Cheers is that Harry Stone is an alias for con-man Harry the Hat and the reason for the latter character disappearing from Boston for the better part of a decade was that he was busy running a long-con playing judge in New York City. The Cheers writers actually alluded to this when the Harry the Hat character appeared on that show after Night Court began. Someone asked where he'd been, and he replied, "I got a night job.". Of course there's also a theory running in the opposite direction that Harry the Hat is an alias for Judge Harry Stone who is attempting to pull the world's greatest prank by posing as a two-bit con man.
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  • Fanon Discontinuity: For most, the show stopped at season 8 since that pretty much wrapped up the series. 9 is just a curious afterthought (especially considering NBC didn't even want the show).
  • Fridge Logic: Dan once claimed to have the highest conviction rate and lowest rate of overturn on appeals of any prosecutor in NYC. This is likely true due to the docket he works, which sees a large number of defendants charged with minor crimes who plead out for fines and time served. He's not losing cases because relatively few are disputing the charges against them.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • One episode had an actor who played a Lone Ranger-esque character who was upset about a new, grittier movie that went completely against what his show/movies were about. He threatened to kill himself with a suspended air conditioner. In the end, it all worked out because the movie bombed with audiences, so the old guy wins a moral victory. While, as mentioned on the main page, this was based on something that actually happened in 1980, when the owner of The Lone Ranger copyright forced the original Lone Ranger actor from the TV series to stop touring with his costume because the owner wanted to do a Darker and Edgier film reboot, on 2013, another Darker and Edgier film adaptation of The Lone Ranger was made by Disney, and was also poorly received. This would seem Hilarious in Hindsight except that Disney's Lone Ranger is on track to becoming one of the biggest Box Office Bombs of all time.
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    • In the Season 8 episode "Death Takes a Halloween", Harry jails a defendant who claims to be the Angel of Death. As a result, no one is able to die. The episode has a scene where Harry, while speaking on the telephone, makes some offhand or throwaway joke about people jumping off the World Trade Center and miraculously surviving.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Really anytime Selma is shown smoking, given that Selma Diamond passed away from lung cancer, and was a chronic chain smoker in real life. Even worse, when Selma's smoking habit was the basis of a joke!
    Selma: Why do you think I keep coming to work? For my health? [lights up cigarette]
    • Bull's drunken rant while mourning for Selmanote  quickly became this when Florence Halop also died from lung cancer after the end of season 3.
    • In "Passion Plundered" (7.11) there is a subplot revolving around a guest star who is a lesbian. At one point she tells Christine that she is "...very open about being gay." In 2017, Marsha Warfield would come out publicly as a gay woman. Though she admitted that she was in a glass closet, and anyone who knew her for "five minutes" knew she was gay, she had avoided coming out publicly at the request of her mother. She would later write and speak extensively about the pain she felt in her mother asking her to deny her true self.
  • He Really Can Act: Anyone who was a fan could tell you the show had an uncanny ability to provide equal parts humor and pathos almost constantly.
    • Harry Anderson was primarily known as a con-man, magician, and comedian before playing Harry Stone and showing that he could play for genuine pathos and move audiences.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • At the end of "Hurricane" part 2, at one point Harry says "live long and prosper" and even gives the Vulcan hand symbol when he does. Brent Spiner happens to be guest-starring in the episode, a year before Star Trek: The Next Generation would premiere on television.
    • Mac creates a student film which quickly evolves into a bizarre and surreal movie that his friends hate and cannot sit through, however, it later becomes a cult phenomenon, with late night showings and fans dressed as the characters spouting catchphrases. Sound familiar?
    • It's quite fun to see Richard Moll playing a high-voiced simpleton at the start of his career, when he's now best known for deep and raspy-voiced cartoon villains.
  • Moment of Awesome: Dan gets one in "Harry and Leon" (Season 3, Episode 14).
    • To explain, the episode starts as a sort of Big-Lipped Alligator Moment with an employee from a "novelty entertainment" company named Paul Hodo (played by Lorry Goldman), who's the first case on the docket, being charged with "assault with a deadly weapon" (throwing a pie that was frozen in a man's face, causing facial injury and a pending divorce). After the case ends as usual (Harry: "$200 fine and time served"), then-bailiff Florence telling the man that his price of USD$100 for pieing somebody in the face is too steep. Dan then insults Flo, and Flo is suddenly OK with the price, asking if the man took Visa credit cards.
    • Near the end of the episode, after Harry's Heartwarming Moment with Leon the shoeshine boy (offering to be his foster father for the time being), a field representative from the novelty gag company pies Dan in the face (with a chocolate-flavored pie, Dan's favorite flavor that Flo asked about earlier). Flo confesses about paying a pie thrower from the same firm from earlier in the episode. Harry then tells Flo to stop covering for him; he's the one that paid the pie thrower. Christine Sullivan then confesses that she paid for the pie gag and so does Mac. Dan then confirms that it was all four of them. How?
      Dan: [from serious to a tad maniacal] I made a deal with the guy out in the hall. I said if he took the money just for one hit and gave me the rest, I wouldn't sue him!
    • So, $100 per Pie in the Face request. Four (Flo, Harry, Mac, and Christine) paid, so that's $400. $100 going to Paul Hodo leaves $300 left for Dan, so Dan hustled some money out of people whom he knew hated his guts. Dan then said he was going to buy him a nice suede jacket from Brooks Brothers and would come back to court tomorrow to rub it in the others' faces. Before he announces his shopping trip, he says the following:
      Dan: You hate me. You all hate me. Everybody hates me! For the first time in my life, I'm taking advantage of being me.
  • Nightmare Fuel: This Vanity Plate played after the closing credits after the second season, and was only used for Night Court. Some people remember this show more for the horrifying laughter in the closing logo than for the show itself. Show writer Tom Reeder revealed in the comments on Ken Levine's blog post reporting Reinhold Weege's death that the laugh belonged to Weege's father, Chuck. note  He and his wife, Georgia, came to see every episode taped during Weege's tenure on the show, thus his laugh is also heard in the laugh track recorded for every episode until Weege left.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Don Cheadle, Teri Hatcher, Dennis Haysbert, Brent Spiner, and Nana Visitor appeared on the show early in their careers.
    • Markie Post was originally a model on Card Sharks, and had played Terri on The Fall Guy.
    • James Burrows directed the pilot episode. Burrows is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Cheers.
    • Linwood Boomer wrote seven episodes. Boomer is best known as creator and executive producer of FOX's Malcolm in the Middle and for playing Adam Kendall on Little House on the Prairie.
    • Michael J. Fox played a teenage runaway in the second episode. Ironically, Michael Gross, whom played Fox's on-screen dad in Family Ties, made an appearance in season 4, playing a public defender who is sexually harassing Christine.
    • Three Saturday Night Live cast members appeared on this show: Denny Dillon (from the 1980-1981 season) was Rhoda on the episode "Educating Rhoda", Gilbert Gottfried (also from the 1980-81 season) was on the season nine two-part premiere, "A Guy Named Phantom", and Gary Kroeger (who was on the show from 1982 to 1985note ) was on the season five episode "Top Judge".
      • Conversely, two cast members from Saturday Night Live's early 1980s rival show, Fridays, was on this show: Michael Richards was on the season two episode "Take My Wife, Please" as a man who thought he was invisible, while Mark Blankfield played a wannabe street magician who vanished in a cloud of smoke in front of Judge Stone.
    • Officer Tackleberry was Mac's Vietnam war buddy.
    • Eldin was a pimp in the Season 5 episode "Let It Snow".
    • Ellen Foley, who played public defender Billie Young in season 2, sang back-up vocals for Meat Loaf. Her best known vocals are on "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" ("I wanna know right now / Will you love me forever?")
    • Bull is Two-Face.
    • Bull's foster son Andy aka Stella from the season 2 episode "Bull Gets a Kid" is played by a young Pamela Adlon (under her maiden name Pamela Segall) best known for voicing boys, like Milo Oblong, Otto Osworth, and, most famously, Bobby Hill.
    • Markie Post later voiced June Darby.
    • As noted on this page, horror fans (particularly those who have seen the original 1970s version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) will surely recognize John Larroquette's baritone.
    • Season 4's "Author, Author" features a rare on-camera appearance by voice actor Joe Alaskey playing a man who was arrested for accosting a woman who has split-personality disorder... and happens to be played by a surprisingly formal-looking Fran Drescher.
    • Wendell, the Gentle Giant mental ward escapee from "Nuts About Harry" would go on to play someone not nearly as genial.
  • The Scrappy: Leon - the boy Harry tried to adopt - was not the most beloved character.
  • Seasonal Rot: Season 7 was the first season made with no input from series creator Reinhold Weege, and it went over the top with the surrealism (including the controversial Wile E. Coyote gag) as well as a not-very-well-received story arc where Christine gets married and pregnant.
    • Averted with season 8, where a new team of showrunners brought some realism back to the show and the ratings improved, but played very straight with season nine, which NBC wanted and the actors only agreed to do it because it paid well. Season 9 being the show's low point was parodied on the 30 Rock episode, "The One With the Cast of Night Court" where Harry Anderson and Markie Post blame Jenna being cast as a werewolf judge as the reason why season nine was a failure and the network refused to give the show a tenth season.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The show could be quite heavy-handed in its dealings with social issues, especially when it came to accepting what conservatives consider as "alternate lifestyles." Considering it was produced in a time when America was panicking over the loss of "traditional" values, the show was necessary in depicting that those who were "different" should be treated with compassion and that change could be dealt with humor and grace rather than anger and fear.
  • Squick: The episode with the cockroach infestation. At one point the characters discover they've wandered into a carpet of dead roaches.
    Christine: Oh, please God, let that be a pebble in my shoe.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The opening sounds like a softer, jazzier version of the Password Plus theme.
    • It also sounds a little similar to the Barney Miller theme, not surprising because both themes were composed by Jack Elliott and both shows were comedies about the criminal justice system.
  • Values Dissonance: Dan's lecherous behavior pushed the limits of acceptability even for the time - even allowing for the exaggerated nature of the show's universe. The only remotely saving grace is that Dan usually ended up punished, hurt, or humiliated for his actions. In modern times, Dan's libido might have been tolerated (though likely he would've been hit with multiple sexual harassment complaints, along with suspensions and mandatory counselling), but his habit of getting grabby would've gotten him fired with speed (if not arrested).
    • A season 4 episode had Dan saving Christine's life and, in return, demanding that Christine sleep with him. Even though Christine only pretended to accept because she knew Dan would never actually go through with it, no show after The '80s would have a man do that and still be considered just a Jerkass rather than a criminal.
      • Dan also groped Christine and stole her underwear while she was choking. Even if he saved her life, he still committed sexual assault and would be considered a monster in any modern TV show.
        Christine: Dan! You saved my life!!
        Harry: (exasperated): Miss Sullivan, he felt you up!


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