Night Court

This article is about the television series. For the film, see Night Court (film).
Night Court
Created by Reinhold Weege
Starring Harry Anderson
John Larroquette
Richard Moll
Selma Diamond
Florence Halop
Charles Robinson
Markie Post
Marsha Warfield
Ellen Foley
Opening theme Jack Elliott
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 193 (list of episodes)
Running time 24 minutes (Seasons 1-8)
23 minutes (Season 9)
Production company(s) Starry Night Productions (1984–1989)
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network NBC
Original release January 4, 1984 – May 31, 1992

Night Court is an American television situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 4, 1984, to May 31, 1992. The setting was the night shift of a Manhattan municipal court, Criminal Court Part 2, presided over by a young, unorthodox judge, Harold T. "Harry" Stone (played by Harry Anderson). The series was created by comedy writer Reinhold Weege, who had previously worked on Barney Miller in the 1970s and early 1980s.


Night Court, according to the first season DVD, was created without comedian/magician Harry Anderson in mind; but Anderson auditioned with the claim that he was Harry Stone. Anderson had developed a following with his performances on Saturday Night Live and made several successful appearances as con man "Harry the Hat" on another NBC sitcom, Cheers. (For the first several years of its run, Night Court aired on NBC Thursday nights after Cheers, which had moved to the time slot before Night Court to accommodate the new series, which started as a mid-season replacement in January 1984.) In later seasons, while Anderson remained the key figure, John Larroquette became a popular personality winning a number of awards and many fans for his performance as the lecherous Dan Fielding.

The comedy style of Night Court changed as the series progressed. During its initial seasons, the show was often compared to Barney Miller. In addition to being created by a writer of that show, Night Court (like Barney Miller) was set in a tired, rundown part of New York City, featured a quirky and dry comedy style, and dealt with a staff who tried to cope with a parade of eccentric, often neurotic criminals and complainants. Furthering this comparison, these characters were routinely played by character actors who had made frequent guest appearances on Barney Miller, including Stanley Brock, Philip Sterling, Peggy Pope, and Alex Henteloff. But, while the characters appearing in the courtroom (and the nature of their transgressions) were often whimsical, bizarre or humorously inept, the show initially took place in the "real world". In an early review of the show, Time magazine called Night Court, with its emphasis on non-glamorous, non-violent petty crime, the most realistic law show on the air.

Gradually, however, Night Court abandoned its initial "real world" setting, and changed to what could best be described as broad, almost slapstick comedy. Logic and realism were frequently sidelined for more surreal humor, such as having the cartoon character, Wile E. Coyote, as a defendant and convicting him for harassment of The Road Runner with an admonition to find a meal by some other means. In the opening episode of Season 4, a ventriloquist dummy talks on his own without the ventriloquist to Dan, who panics and shouts while backing away slowly down the hall.

The show featured several defendants who appeared before the court again and again—notably the Wheelers, June and Bob (Brent Spiner), who initially pretended to be stereotypical hicks from West Virginia; but they were later revealed as Yugoslavians and at one point even ran a concession stand in the courthouse. When asked by Harry why they claimed West Virginia at first, Bob replies, "I dunno. It was just the first exotic place that popped into my head." The Wheelers were notoriously unlucky and were usually brought in on hilariously pathetic circumstances. Other Star Trek-actors-to-be that had guest spots on Night Court included Robin Curtis from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (which incidentally, John Larroquette also co-starred in as a Klingon), Nana Visitor of Deep Space 9 and Paddi Edwards as Hank Shannon of Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Dauphin.


Primary cast

The following cast members appeared in the opening credits:

Supporting players

Cast changes

The first few seasons of Night Court had an unusually large number of cast changes for such a long-running series. The only actors to appear consistently throughout the show's run were Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, and Richard Moll.

Theme music

Every episode of Night Court opens and closes with a jazz-influenced, bass-heavy theme tune composed by Jack Elliott, featuring Ernie Watts on saxophone while featuring video footage of prominent New York City landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York County Courthouse.

Night Court's theme was used in the season 5 Family Guy episode "Bill & Peter's Bogus Journey", featuring former US president Bill Clinton playing saxophone, backed up by Secret Service musicians.

Night Court's theme was sampled for the remix to Cam'Ron's 1998 single "Horse & Carriage". It was produced by Darrell "Digga" Branch and Featured Big Pun, Charli Baltimore, Wyclef Jean and Silkk the Shocker.


Broadcast history

Season Time
1 Wednesday at 9:30-10:00 pm (January 4 - March 28, 1984)
Thursday at 9:30-10:00 pm (May 31, 1984)
2 Thursday at 9:30-10:00 pm
4 Thursday at 9:30-10:00 pm (October 2, 1986 - February 26, 1987)
Wednesday at 9:00-9:30 pm (March 18 - May 6, 1987)
5 Thursday at 9:30-10:00 pm
6 Wednesday at 9:00-9:30 pm
8 Friday at 9:00-9:30 pm (September 28, 1990 - January 4, 1991)
Wednesday at 9:00-9:30 pm (January 23 - May 8, 1991)
9 Wednesday at 9:00-9:30 pm (September 18, 1991 - May 13, 1992)
Sunday at 9:30-10:00 pm (May 31, 1992)

Nielsen ratings

The show was a Top 30 hit from Season 2 through Season 7.

Awards and honors

Night Court received a number of awards and nominations. Both Selma Diamond (in 1985) and John Larroquette (in 1988) earned Golden Globe nominations, but lost to Faye Dunaway and Rutger Hauer respectively. Paula Kelly was nominated for an Emmy after the first season. Larroquette won four consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series from 1985 to 1988, before he withdrew his name from the ballot in 1989. Selma Diamond was nominated in 1985, and Anderson received three nominations in 1985, 1986 and 1987. The series received three nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1985, 1987, and 1988. The series also received many awards and nominations in the areas of lighting, editing, sound mixing, and technical direction. The show was nominated for thirty-one Emmys, winning seven.


United States

After its primary run in broadcast syndication, the series aired on cable's A&E Network for many years. It was briefly seen later on TV Land in 2007–08, then began airing on Encore Classic on December 2, 2013.

Beginning at the end of 2015, the show airs nationally on the Laff digital subchannel.


Airs weekdays on Comedy Gold.


Network Ten first broadcast the series in the 1980s and 1990s. 7TWO began showing reruns in June 2011.

DVD releases

Season releases Warner Home Video released the first three seasons on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 4–9 are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, part of the Warner Archive Collection.[1]

DVD Name Ep. # Release Date
The Complete First Season[2] 13 February 8, 2005
The Complete Second Season[3] 22 February 3, 2009
The Complete Third Season[4] 22 February 23, 2010
The Complete Fourth Season[5] 22 March 1, 2011 (
September 1, 2011 (
The Complete Fifth Season[6] 22 October 25, 2011
The Complete Sixth Season[7] 22 June 26, 2012
The Complete Seventh Season[8] 22 November 6, 2012
The Complete Eighth Season[9] 24 January 29, 2013
The Complete Ninth Season[10] 22 June 11, 2013

Special releases

DVD Name Release Date Ep. #
Television Favorites February 28, 2006 6

The Television Favorites compilation DVD included the pilot episode, "All You Need Is Love"; both parts of the fourth season finale, "Her Honor"; the fifth season episodes "Death of a Bailiff" and "Who Was That Mashed Man?"; and the sixth season episode "Fire", which marked the beginning of Harry's relationship with Christine.

Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Charles Robinson appeared in the 30 Rock episode, "The One with the Cast of Night Court". John Larroquette is also mentioned: Harry says he had just spoken to John, which annoys Markie (who hasn't had recent contact with her absent former co-star) and begins an argument between them that lasts for most of the story.


External links

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