‘Judge Judy’ Prepares to Hang Up Her Gavel After 25 Years

Judge Judy Sheindlin
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Judith Sheindlin — aka Judge Judy, the sharp-tongued wit we know, love, and fear — didn’t invent the unscripted court show genre. She revolutionized it. Before her series debuted in 1996 (above), one of the only other shows of its kind, The People’s Court, let the squabbling plaintiffs and defendants take the spotlight, while Joseph Wapner presided with a staid style.

Not Sheindlin. “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining,” the L.A. Times quoted the then–New York City family court judge telling a drug dealer. That 1993 profile helped her land a show; even with lower-stakes cases, stupidity was not tolerated. As she barked at one sucker, “I eat morons like you for breakfast.” With a strong BS detector, plus common sense and a vast knowledge of the law, Sheindlin made efficient, entertaining rulings.

Copycats sprouted, but none captured the nation’s attention like Judge Judy, which often rivaled The Oprah Winfrey Show in the ratings.

Now, after 25 years, Sheindlin hears her two final cases (one involves a woman allegedly attacked by a neighbor’s dog) before launching an IMDb TV series. We’d request a few farewell barbs but fear a Judy-ism we’ve heard before: “Does it look like I need any help?!” No, Your Honor. It doesn’t.

Judge Judy, Series Finale Syndicated, Friday, July 23, Check local listings