Night Court

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Night Court was a situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 1984 until May 1992.

It followed the goings-on of a night-shift Manhattan arraignment court, which was populated by a madcap band of lawyers, judges, and bailiffs, including (by the end of the series):

  • Laid-back judge, Mel Tormé fanatic, and amateur magician Harold T. Stone Jr. (Harry Anderson).
  • The womanizing, selfish, pigheaded, but always witty and acid-tongued district attorney, Reinhold "Dan" Fielding (John Larroquette).
  • Public Defender Christine Sullivan (Markie Post), who despite being a beautiful and independent woman is an utterly naive, morally-upright prude.
  • The huge, certifiably brilliant but ditzy bailiff Nostradamus "Bull" Shannon (Richard Moll).
  • Mac Robinson (Charles Robinson), court clerk and Vietnam veteran, the accomplice to most of Judge Stone's pranks, his verbal foil and his closest friend.
  • Roz Russell (Marsha Warfield), a deadpan-snarking tough-as-nails bailiff whose strength is the fodder for many jokes.

The show is usually considered a satire and subversion of the Law Procedural genre, featuring bizarre, wacky crimes, such as groups of rival ventriloquists and their dummies assaulting each other (although the show was also praised for its refusal to deal with violent and "glamorous" crime and called "The most realistic law show on the air" by Time Magazine, no less). Logic and realism were frequently abandoned for the sake of a joke: cartoon animal Wile E. Coyote once appeared in a brief gag as a defendant.

The show featured regular guest appearances by John Astin, of The Addams Family fame, as Buddy Ryan, Judge Stone's certifiably insane birth father. Harry Stone's idol Mel Tormé made frequent guest spots, as did Brent Spiner (later famous for his role as Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Bob Wheeler, patriarch of a family of Yugoslavians who pretended to be a hick family from West Virginia and, at one point, even ran a concession stand in the courthouse.

Tropes used in Night Court include:
  • An Aesop: Early episodes emphasized a particular moral dilemma that the case du jour revolved around; as time wore on the show became more focused on the ensemble cast's character quirks. Although this still crept up in several later episodes.
  • Ascended Extra: Phil the Bum is perhaps the best example of this. Originally introduced in Season Two as one of the many background characters in the gallery of the courtroom, he became Bumbling Sidekick to Dan in Season Three and continued to make semi-regular appearances up through the middle of Season 8, where his accidental death facilitated Dan's Heel Face Turn.
    • Art The Repairman also qualifies, having first appeared in Season One, continuing to appear up through the Grand Finale. In the time between, he had an entire episode devoted to his efforts to woo Christine, gave away the bride at Bull's wedding and eventually began dating Bull's mother.
  • Ashes to Crashes: A man named Herb dies, and his two daughters get into a fight over his ashes, ending up in Harry's court. They eventually resolve their differences and agree to stand by whatever arrangement Harry decides upon. Herb's cremains are left at court, in Harry's office, leading to the following dialog:

Art The Repair Man: Oh that, yeah I'm sorry, Your Honor, I had to use that herb tea to test the coffee maker.
Harry: Art, this wasn't herb tea! This was Herb!

  • As Himself: Mel Tormé, a couple of times.
  • Asian Baby Mama: Double Subversion with Quon Le, who didn't become pregnant until after she and Mac were already married. And Mac, in defiance of the standard Asian Baby Mama trope is a Black American soldier who served in Vietnam.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Dan does this after everyone thinks he died when his Army plane crashed in the Arctic.
  • At the Opera Tonight: "A Night Court at the Opera".
  • Back to School: Harry is forced to retake a high-school history class in "A Family Affair".
  • Badass Normal: Harry, not so much in terms of physical strength, but his ability to get in people's heads and resolve tense, violent situations peacefully.
  • Best Woman: Roz was this to Bull at his wedding.
  • Beta Couple: Mac and Quon Le.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Bull and Mac are both genuinely scary when they get upset.
  • The Big Guy: Bull in practice, but really the entire male cast qualifies, all of whom were over six feet.
    • Night Court at one time held the Guinness World Record for tallest sitcom cast.
  • Born in An Elevator: Christine's son in the seventh season finale.
    • Harry was born in a mental institution. Explains a lot, doesn't it?
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Phil to Dan.
  • Butt Monkey: Despite frequently deserving the bad things that happened to him, Dan Fielding suffered several indignities that not even he deserved. Chief among these were him losing all his savings after his accountant dropped dead at an IRS Audit after Dan was hit with a Gypsy Curse.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Dan Fielding.
  • Catch Phrase: Several.
    • Bull has one - "Ooo-kay."
    • Harry's standard issue sentence ("$50 and Time Served").
    • Dan's "Ciao, baby!" in later seasons.
    • And, of course, Buddy's standard conclusion to most of his stories regarding his hospital stay or past strange behavior, "But I'm feeling muuuuch better now."
  • Chick Magnet: Dan fancied himself something of one. Ironically, Harry and Bull were much better at attracting women with far less effort, if not particularly successful at maintaining lasting relationships.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Dan Fielding, despite his protests to the contrary. Protesting the "chivalrous" part, that is.
  • Christmas Episode: There was one almost every year.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Happened repeatedly in the show's first two seasons: Sheila (the very first public defender in the pilot), Lana (the first clerk in the pilot and most of Season One), Charlie (clerk for a few episodes at the end of Season One) Liz (the public defender in Season One) and Billie (the public defender for most of Season Two) all disappeared without any explanation and were all replaced without comment in the very next episode.
    • Although this is a milder form than the Trope Namer, as personnel could be plausible transferred to different courts or shifts without warning or later comment.
    • Happened with an actual brother in the pilot, where Harry made reference to a baby brother who was never seen or referenced again in the entire run of the show.
    • But what's probably the most jarring example are a couple of occasionally seen recurring characters, the hapless hicks, Bob and June Wheeler. In their final episodes, they were actually being set up to have a semi-regular presence on the show, when they bought the courthouse cafeteria. But then the actor who played Bob, Brent Spiner, got cast as Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and so both Wheelers vanished without another mention. What makes their disappearance feel all the more abrupt is that their last episode was actually a Season Finale with a Cliff Hanger ending where the Wheelers weren't among the ones imperiled. Come the next Season Premiere, and the cliffhanger is resolved, but with no sight or mention of the Wheelers.
      • This is also true to a lesser extent, of the Wheelers' little girl, Caroline. She's with them in their first 2 episodes, but not any of their remaining episodes.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Mac and Quon Le started out as this. Subverted later on as it blossomed into actual love.
  • Cliff Hanger: Multiple episodes, including a good portion of the Season Finales.
  • Clip Show: Ad nauseum.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Bull, for most of the show's run.
    • Later, Lisette the stenographer.
    • Everybody in the show thinks Harry is one of these.
    • Buddy was DEFINITELY one of these. But he's feeling MUUUUUUUUUUCH better now.
  • Code Silver: More than once.
  • Crapsack World: The world in which Harry Stone was never born in "Hey Harry, F'Crying Out Loud – It is a Wonderful Life... Sorta". Apparently, Harry's friendship was the only thing keeping Dan Fielding from becoming a Card-Carrying Villain and taking over New York City from behind the scenes.
  • Crossover: Night Court was introduced to a new generation from the crossover/Shout-Out in 30 Rock.
    • There's also the theory that con-man Harry The Hat from Cheers moved on from Boston and is currently masquerading as a judge in New York City.
    • Judge Wilbur from My Two Dads showed up from time to time.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everybody. More than once it's been suggested that their occasionally mouthy behavior is what keeps them on the night shift.
  • Deep South: Dan was originally from there and his parents were (in Dan's mind, anyway) one step removed from Ma And Pa Kettle.
    • The Wheeler family was originally portrayed as being from West Virginia, until outcry over stereotyping revealed them to truly be from Yugoslavia.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: In "Jail Bait", Christine winds up having a one-night-stand with a young street artist she defended. The next day, she is smiling a little more than usual, leading Dan to announce loudly "You bopped the kid!"
  • Disappeared Dad: Harry found out this was the case when Buddy Ryan confessed to being his real father.
    • In fairness to Buddy, he was totally prepared to do the honorable thing when he found out the woman he fell in love with in the asylum had his baby. But she had gotten out first, married another man without knowing she was pregnant with Buddy's child and it was agreed by all three of them that it would be best to wait until Harry Jr. was older before they told him the truth. But then Buddy and Harry's mother both relapsed and were recommitted, leaving Harry Stone Sr. to raise his son alone, dying before he could tell Harry the truth of his birth or why his mom had disappeared.
  • Downer Ending: "Leon, We Hardly Knew Ye".
  • Eighties Hair: Christine until the seventh season.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Two examples.
    • Daniel "Dan" R. Fielding, who had his name legally changed from Reinhold Fielding Elmore
    • "Bull" Shannon's real first name was Nostradamus.
      • This is doubly embarrassing for Bull, as his mother named him that because "she was always crazy about that hunchback!" He is quick to stop any attempts to correct her.
      • His mother also gave him his nickname; not because of his size but because of her reaction to the news she was pregnant: "Bull!"
  • Eskimo Land: Dan finds himself there after his Army plane crashes in the Arctic.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In "Guess Who's Listening to Dinner", Dan finds out that the woman he is dating is the daughter of a notorious mob boss. Before he can end the relationship, he is invited to dinner at her house, being told that "Dad" is anxious to talk with Dan about his future with her. Everyone expects this to be an attempt by the Mafia to bring Dan "into the family", so they'll have an "in" with the NYC District Attorney's office. The truth is that dad knows about Dan's reputation ("To put it mildly, you have the morals of a rutting pig.") and he's so desperate to avoid a society scandal he's willing to pay Dan to discreetly break up with his daughter.
  • Evil Twin: Con-man Will Sanders, to bum Phil Sanders.
  • Expy: Barney Miller. (Not coincidentally, series creator and executive producer Reinhold Weege was a former Barney Miller writer, producer, and story editor. In addition, series producer Jeff Melman also worked on Barney Miller as a stage manager.)
  • Five-Man Band: Especially during the last five seasons.
  • Flame War: Actually Lampshaded when Judge Stone had to deal with an argument between fans of the old series and The Next Generation - literally. The TNG fans teleported away, which impressed everyone, while a fan said, "Oh, but can they do this?" (Vulcan Salute).
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: "Mac's Millions". Mac's grandfather dies and leaves all his money to Mac, who naturally quits his job at the courthouse. Then he loses most of his new-found wealth when he's sued over damages caused by a restaurant he bought in a previous episode.
  • Fully-Absorbed Finale: The 30 Rock episode "The One with the Cast of Night Court".
  • Funny Foreigner: Two main recurring ones.
    • Russian-immigrant Yakov Korolenko.
    • Also, The Wheeler family. They were Yugoslavian.
  • Fur and Loathing: During his Heel Face Turn in Season Eight, Dan becomes something of a hyper-environmentalist. He then turns down a hot date with an old girlfriend because she's wearing a mink coat.
  • Gag Boobs: Dan is given a literal pair -- of the inflatable sort -- during the prank war between Judge Stone and Judge Cleaver.
  • Genius Bruiser: Bull Shannon, in the earlier seasons, when his character was meant to look like dumb muscle but was actually quite well-read and insightful.
    • To a lesser degree, Mac Robinson. Although it wasn't played up as much, Mac was in phenomenally good shape for a man his age and could hold his own in a fight. He was also an understated genius, being reluctant to start using a computer as part of his job but eventually being capable enough with them to write his own programs at a time when that required some know-how.
  • Genius Ditz: Bull Shannon, in the later seasons, after his Flanderization into a technically brilliant but often oblivious Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Gentle Giant: Bull Shannon, who worked with Big Brothers and attempted to write a children's book despite being incredibly intimidating.
    • To a lesser degree, Mac Robinson.
  • Gypsy Curse: The entire court was hit with one in Season Two. Bull fell into a deep trance and Dan lost all his savings after his accountant, who was in the middle of an IRS Audit at the time, dropped dead.
  • Halloween Episode: As with Christmas, there was one almost every year.
    • The elaborate, funny, and clever costumes were a kind of Running Gag.
  • Handsome Lech: Dan Fielding.
  • Happily Married: Mac and Quon Le.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Harry, several times. But the worst was when his girlfriend Margaret had to go into witness protection.
  • Heel Face Turn: During Season 8, Dan made an honest attempt at becoming a better person after being placed in charge of a charitable organization. It was a slow transformation but by the end of the season he was as nauseatingly cheerful and pure as he used to be sarcastic and sleazy.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Christine Sullivan.
    • Billie Young before her too.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: A lot of these came through Harry's courtroom. Many of them came back so often the staff seemed to regard them as friends.
  • Hostage Situation: Many episodes centered around this.
  • Hot Mom: Christine, in later seasons.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Mac and Quon Le.
    • Bull and several of his love interests qualify too.
    • Pretty much any girl the male characters hooked up with qualified as the entire male cast was uncommonly tall (at one point even holding the world record for "tallest regular cast").
  • Hurricane of Puns: Frequent.
    • Surprisingly, Dan was more often to blame for this than Harry.
  • I Drank What: Art the repair man accidentally used a man's ashes to test a newly repaired coffee maker.
  • If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: Used in "Dan the Walking Time Bomb" to convince Dan's psychotic ex-classmate not to kill him.
  • I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!: In "Another Day in the Life", Christine flashes a millionaire to distract him so Harry can win an arm wrestling contest and save an orphanage.
  • Improbably High IQ: Bull Shannon, who outscored everybody else in the cast at 181. Then he realized he was holding the paper upside down.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Frequent, often lampshaded with Christine's constant failure to get a laugh.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • I Owe You My Life: Dan saves Christine from choking and exacts a night of passion in a hotel as a way of repayment. A Moment Killer came (much to Christine's relief) in the form of a jumper on a ledge outside their window.
    • Mac's old Vietnam war buddy who saved his life shows up in court and wants him to lose a file so that he won't go back to prison for breaking parole. He later releases Mac from the debt, not wanting to taint the most noble thing he ever did.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Harry gets into a pranking duel with a new judge, with his judge's robe on the line, and is thoroughly beaten when the other judge rigs his bench to collapse at the end of the day. He forfeits his robe, and leaves in a sulk; then reveals to Christine that he had to lose, to lure the little twerp right into his trap. Cue a remote control, and a scream in the next room.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: The episode "Hey Harry, F'Crying Out Loud – It is a Wonderful Life... Sorta", in which a guardian angel shows Harry what the world would have been like without him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dan was usually rude, condescending, arrogant, and self-centered, but he was capable of truly astounding levels of sincerity and sensitivity. He also risked his life, multiple times, to save both his friends and total strangers.
    • It was also made clear that he might be a jerk and a pervert, but he was honest and didn't play games with the law. At least three separate storylines centered upon someone attempting to bribe Dan and being reported to the authorities, every single time. He even refused a better-paying job with a big private law firm after he found out that his boss, an attractive woman, was more interested in his bedroom skills than his courtroom skills.
    • In that same episode, Dan proudly declared that he has the highest conviction rate, coupled with the fewest overturns on appeal, of any other prosecutor in the city.
  • The Judge: Averted with Judge Harry Stone, who is anything BUT a typical judge.
  • Just the Introduction to The Opposites: Everything, and everyone, is different in the Day Court. The cases are standard fare with no nuts. The crummy cafeteria is turned into a posh restaurant where reservations are required. Perhaps most worrying... Roz is a cheerful, friendly person.
  • Keet: Harry and Bull.
  • Lamaze Class: Two instances.
    • The Season 3 finale "Hurricane" focused upon the cast having to deliver several babies after a Lamaze class becomes trapped in the courthouse during the titular hurricane.
    • Season 7 episode "My Three Dads" centers upon Dan, Bull and Harry all trying to help Christine at hers.
  • Large Ham: Basically just give John Larroquette a bowl of scenery and stand back.
  • Laugh Track: It had one but rarely needed it.
    • Actually a Studio Audience, where the same person (sometimes identified as creator Reinhold Weege's father) is often heard laughing uproariously.
  • Locked in a Freezer: There was never a literal freezer, but various episodes did center upon the cast being trapped due to various hazards, including...
    • ...a fire, which forced the cast to take refuge in the courthouse morgue.
    • ...a hurricane.
    • ...the release of a deadly virus.
    • ...stuck elevators. At least twice.
    • ...snowed in. Twice. Once with no food and once with no working heat.
    • Harry also once locked himself in a safe.
    • Christine and Tony got trapped in a boiler room, though that could be considered Sauna of Death.
  • Magical Realism: Multiple examples.
    • Toon Physics kick in frequently, particularly when Roz is inflicting pain on Dan or Bull.
    • Wile E. Coyote himself - in toon form - was brought in for his repeated harassment of The Roadrunner.
    • Bull experiences an Alien Abduction in the final episode.
    • Even in the early, more serious seasons, Santa Claus was depicted as a real person.
    • In Season 2, a fortune teller with real magic powers cursed Dan and Bull and conjured up Mel Torme's home phone number for Harry.
    • A trio of costumed Star Trek convention-goers claim that Harry has no authority over them, as they were Federation members... just before beaming out of the courtroom.
    • Two psychic defendants get in a telekinetic fistfight.
      • Later, one of them telekinetically bangs Harry's gavel as he's accusing them all of being frauds.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Quon Le and Mac faced difficulties winning the approval of both Mac's rich grandfather and Quon Le's father.
  • Missing Mom: Harry. He thought he had been abandoned by his mother for years until Buddy Ryan came to him and revealed that Harry's mother had been in and out of mental institutions for years and that she had avoided contact after being released for fear that public knowledge that his mother was a mental patient might hurt Harry's career.
  • Mood Whiplash: All. The. Damn. Time!
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Dan Fielding. Lech, pervert, he-slut--but also a man who cares about his friends and the law.
    • And also surprisingly health conscious. He always carries latex gloves and condoms in his briefcase, and once has a key prosecution witness who wanted to be all over him but was rebuked thusly:

Dan: Don't touch me without a note from your doctor!

  • My Own Private I Do: Two examples.
    • Christine and Tony were married in an improvised ceremony in an Italian restaurant the night before Tony was due to go overseas for a DEA operation.
    • Bull - sick of how all of his friends and family were at each others' throats regarding plans for his wedding - improvised a more quiet, personal ceremony on the roof of the courthouse.
  • New Year Has Come: "New Year's Leave".
  • Noir Episode: "Hey Harry, F'Crying Out Loud – It is a Wonderful Life... Sorta", where most of the episode is shot in the style of a 1940s Warner Brothers gangster flick.
  • Noodle Incident: Buddy's life is a string of these.
    • Bull has also had his share of these.
    • Dan's sex life qualifies too.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Harry's favorite M.O.; Dan has used it a time or two as well.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: In one episode, an important Japanese man dies in the court and his body ends up lost and riding around on an electric wheelchair around the courthouse.
  • Oh Crap: Dan, after being informed the dwarf he insulted is his new boss.
  • One Born Every Minute
  • Only Sane Man: Mac. Even his spotlight episodes tended to be far less weird than the others.
  • Orphaned Punchline: A Running Gag had characters saying "so the nun says, $20, same as in town!"
    • This is actually the punchline to a Real Life dirty joke, which the writers couldn't tell in full on the show.
  • Overly Long Airplane Banner Gag: "Constitution" actually does it without an airplane. Bull puts up a "Welcome Home Roz" banner that runs the entire length to the courtroom: eighteen floors.
  • Pie in the Face: The entire cast pays to have this done to Dan.
  • Post Script Season: Season 8 is over. Dan quits his job and loses the Phil Foundation fortune. More importantly, Harry and Christine have professed their love to one another. OK, that's the end. What's that? We've been renewed? Oh, crap!
  • The Prankster: Harry took professional pride in it.
  • Race Against the Clock: On four separate occasions, Harry and his staff must get through an absurdly huge caseload by midnight.
  • Real After All: Santa Claus in the first season Christmas Episode "Santa Goes Downtown".
    • Oddly averted in later seasons, when Bull has to be reassured by Roz that Santa is real, after Dan says that the last words he spoke to his younger sister two decades earlier were "There is no Santa".
    • Then there was Bull's reaction after Harry used anatomically correct paper dolls, scissors and a stapler to explain how Dan's best friend as a boy had become a woman.

Harry: Kinda reminds you of how you felt when you found out about The Easter Bunny, huh?
Bull: What about the Easter Bunny?

  • Reassigned to Antarctica: This almost literally happened to Dan, who was in the US Army Reserves. He was Reassigned To The Arctic Circle to help give physicals to polar bears, after he was caught faking an injury in order to avoid being called into active duty. Ironically, Dan only did that because he thought he was being sent into combat; his actual orders involved doing reconnaissance work with his Hot Amazon commanding officer in a Banana Republic, posing as a couple at some exotic resort.
    • Also happened, less literally, in Season Nine, when Dan was briefly reassigned to working in the Dog Court.
  • Red Herring: Harry thinks the fact that he and Buddy both had an allergic reaction to some au gratin potatoes is proof that Buddy's his biological father (as he had suspected for a while). Turned out that Buddy was allergic to the potato, Harry to the cheese. Later, Buddy does fess up to being Harry's dad.
  • Reluctant Retiree: Florence, in the episode "Flo's Retirement".
  • Retcon: The Wheelers really were intended to be from West Virgina, but after a number of people from that state complained, it was later revealed that they had actually come from Yugoslavia (where presumably the show had fewer viewers).
  • Revolving Door Casting: A whole bunch.
    • Four actresses played the public defender: Gail Strickland (pilot only), Paula Kelly (the rest of Season 1), Ellen Foley (Season 2) and Markie Post (Seasons 3-9).
    • Three female bailiffs: Selma Diamond, Florence Halop (see Actor Existence Failure above) and Marsha Warfield for the last six seasons.
    • Karen Austin, who played the court clerk and was the original romantic foil for Judge Stone, departed after only ten episodes. The show eventually settled on Charles Robinson in Season 2.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor In Sense: Several of Dan's would-be girlfriends.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Several examples.
    • The Season 5 Episode "Who Was That Mashed Man?" was based on the now infamous court battle between The Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore and the owner of The Lone Ranger copyright over Moore's right to make public appearances dressed as The Lone Ranger, with an Expy called The Red Ranger in the same situation.
    • The Season 8 Episode "It's Just a Joke" featured a character who was based on comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay and a plot that was based upon his court battles regarding his right to Free Speech.
    • One later-season episode echoed the rivalry between real-life 80s porn starlets Ginger Lynn and Amber Lynn with a battling pair of porn stars, Amber Waves and Ginger Lee, dragged into the court for public brawling. In what might have been a case of writer bias, Harry discovered that Ginger was an intelligent and witty woman (with whom he had a case of mutual attraction), while Amber was a shrill bimbo.
  • Running Gag: Any time that Mel Torme guest-starred he and Judge Stone would spend the entire episode managing to (unintentionally) avoid each other.
  • Saving the Orphanage: The plot of Season 5's "Another Day in the Life".
  • Scary Black Man: Gender-flipped: Roz is a scary black woman whom even the gargantuan Bull fears.
    • Mac's not above intentionally invoking this when he has to.
    • Aversion: Bull is a Scary White Man.
  • Season Finale: Night Court had some of the greatest Cliff Hanger ones.
    • Season 4 ended with Harry being fired, Christine being appointed a judge in his stead and Harry planning the biggest practical joke of all time in retaliation.
    • Season 5 ended with Dan - who was in the US Army Reserves - being called up and presumed dead after his plane crashed into the Arctic Ocean.
    • Season 8 ended with Harry and Christine having apparently confessed their love for one another and Dan having mysteriously disappeared.
      • Apparently, this WAS planned to have been the Series Finale, with Christine and Harry getting married and Dan joining the priesthood. A last-minute renewal forced them to make some sudden changes to restore the Status Quo at the start of Season 9, with Christine and Harry quickly agreeing they were better off as friends and Dan quickly being cleared of the criminal charges that drove him insane at the end of Season 8.
    • Season 9 ended with Christine being elected to high office, Dan resigning his post to follow after her having realized HIS true love for her and Bull being abducted by aliens.
      • This was NOT planned to have been the Series Finale, for obvious reasons. Most accounts say that the decision was handed down the same Friday the final episode was filmed and that the cast was informed their belongings would be thrown out if their dressing rooms were not cleaned Monday morning.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Dan Fielding.
  • Shirtless Scene: Mac had one.
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: For a little while, there's a shoeshine stand that's an important place in the courthouse, with the shiner as a recurring character.
  • Snowed In: Twice.
  • Something's Different About You Now: Happens to Dan in "The Best Of Friends". He takes it very, very badly.
  • Special Guest:
    • Harry's idol, Mel Tormé, made periodic cameo appearances.
    • Also, John Astin as Buddy.
    • Don't forget Wile E. Coyote!
    • Yakov Smirnoff made frequent guest appearances.
    • Michael J. Fox in the first season's Christmas episode.
  • 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.

  • Status Quo Is God: The show did follow the standard Sitcom mold of having everything go back to normal, if not by the end of the episode, than almost always before the end of the season.
    • Most of the cast's romantic relationships were short-lived and didn't last long. Even Christine's marriage ended part-way through the following season and Harry's longest-lasting relationship was only half a season.
      • The most notable exception was Mac and Quon Le, whose marriage lasted the entire run of the show.
    • Numerous episodes depicted cast members quitting or being forced from their position in the Night Court only to wind up back in their old job by the episode's end.
    • Despite Mac being set up to inherit his family's money very early on, when it finally happens, Mac ends up being sued for an incident involving the restaurant he bought causing a fire, leaving him broke. Ironically, he's quite happy with this chain of events, as he ended up only being broke; he was deeply in debt before becoming rich.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bailiff Selma Hacker was replaced by Florence Kleiner in Season 3.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Andy, the boy Bull was assigned as part of a Big Brothers program, turned out to be a girl named Stella. Stella disguised herself as a boy purely to be able to experience what it was like to have a father, since all of the men in the Big Brothers program wanted to be paired with boys instead of girls.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Harry uses this on a delusional, gun-toting woman (played by Marion Ross) who was holding the courtroom hostage.
  • Ted Baxter: Dan Fielding
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: In Season 3's "Wheels of Justice" 2-parter, Harry briefly quits his job after being unable to stop a family from being evicted from their apartment, and said family's son chastising him, and the law in general, for failing them.
  • Trickster Archetype: Harry.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Averted, Quon Le is more cute than beautiful and Mac is far from bad-looking himself.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: The cast's reaction to Season 8's Do-Gooder Dan.
  • What a Piece of Junk!: Christine's Buick Roadmaster.
  • The Wonka: Harry.
  • You Look Familiar: Literally dozens of examples.
    • The king of this (on Night Court, at least) has to be actor Jack Riley, who played five roles over the course of the series, including a murderous clown and the doctor in charge of Dan's surgery.
    • Running a close second is Timothy Stack, who played three separate, prominent characters over the course of the series.
      • In "The Modest Proposal", he played Bill - Christine's humorless fiancee. He winds up dumping her at the altar as he suddenly "gets" every single punchline to every joke he was ever told.
      • In the two-parter "Snoop and Nuts", he plays Tim Bond - an incompetent federal agent working with Harry to bring down a crime boss.
      • In the two-parter "Wedding Bell Blues", he plays Mr. Marley - a pencil-pusher who takes over running maintenance for the court house after the staff go on strike.
    • Stuart Pankin has also played three separate characters in the series.
    • Lana Clarkson, of Barbarian Queen fame, also played two roles on the show.
      • In "Hello, Goodbye", she played a bailiff trainee.
      • In "My Three Dads", she played Dan's stewardess date in a dream sequence.
    • In a lesser example, before their recurring roles on the show as Phil & Buddy, Will Utay & John Astin each appeared as unrelated characters in season two episodes; Utay played a defendant who beat up a mime and stole his change "for kicks" in "Pick a Number" and Astin played a Cloudcuckoolander hospital patient (albeit similar to his later role) named Kenny in "Inside Harry Stone".