963 voters

The Best Courtroom Shows

Updated March 25, 2021 3.8k votes 963 voters 35k views54 items

It makes sense that television loves the courtroom. It's a natural setting for drama, with real-life stakes and gripping interactions. But which of these shows is the very best is a matter of opinion. Some good courtroom reality shows focus on specific areas of the law, while other popular court TV shows address a variety of subjects. Many of the most entertaining courtroom shows have been airing for decades – perhaps paving the way for the future reality entertainment boom.

What series will you find on this list of the best courtroom shows? When it comes to entertaining courtroom drama, it doesn't get much better than The People's Court. First premiering in 1981 with original judge Joseph Wapner, this hit series handles small claims cases between neighbors, family members, and strangers. Divorce Court is another good courtroom series that airs on television. Presided over by Judy Sheindlin, Judge Judy boasts the longest lasting individual production life of any court show. Other good programs featured on this roundup of the top courtroom shows include Judge Mathis, Kids Court, and Moral Court.

Which court show deserves the top spot on this list? That's up to you to decide. Give your favorites a thumbs up to move them towards number one, and add any notable series that are missing.

  • 1
    Davy Jones, Ed Koch

    PremieredSeptember 8, 1997

    The People's Court is an American arbitration-based reality court show currently presided over by retired Florida State Circuit Court Judge Marilyn Milian. Milian, the show's longest-reigning...  more
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  • 2
    Judy Sheindlin, Petri Hawkins-Byrd

    PremieredSeptember 16, 1996

    Judge Judy is an American arbitration-based reality court show presided over by retired Manhattan Family Court Judge Judith Sheindlin. The show features Sheindlin adjudicating real-life small claim...  more
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  • 3
    Greg Mathis


    Judge Mathis is a long-running syndicated arbitration-based reality court show presided over by retired Superior Court Judge of Michigan's 36th District Court, Greg Mathis. The syndicated series...  more
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  • 4
    Faith Jenkins


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  • 5
    Sonia Montejano, Tanya Acker


    Hot Bench is a nontraditional panel-based court show that made its debut in first-run syndication on September 15, 2014. The series is produced by Judge Judy's Judge Judy Sheindlin, who also created...  more
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  • 6
    Malak Dbg addedLauren Lake
    Lauren Lake's Paternity Court is a syndicated nontraditional court show/tabloid talk show hybrid, bringing family lawyer and legal analyst Lauren Lake as she hears and rules on paternity cases and...  more
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  • 7
    Voltaire Perkins

    PremieredJanuary 1, 1957

    Divorce Court is an American nontraditional court show that revolves around settling the disputes of couples going through divorces. The current edition of Divorce Court premiered in September 1999,...  more
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  • 8
    Glenda Hatchett


    Judge Hatchett is an American arbitration-based reality court show, produced and distributed by Sony Pictures Television. The series premiered on September 4, 2000 and ran for nine seasons until its...  more
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  • 9
    Joe Brown, Holly Evans


    Judge Joe Brown (Syndication, 1998) is an American arbitration-based reality court show....  more
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  • 10
    Alex Ferrer


    Judge Alex is an American arbitration-based reality court show, presided over by retired police officer, lawyer, and Florida Judge Alex Ferrer. The series premiered on September 12, 2005, 4 months...  more
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  • 11
    Kevin A. Ross


    America's Court with Judge Ross is a nationally syndicated, nontraditional/dramatized court show that premiered in several major U.S. media markets on September 20, 2010. The Emmy-nominated program...  more
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  • 12
    MattJackson addedHarry Anderson, John Larroquette

    PremieredJanuary 4, 1984

    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 court, presided over by the young,...  more

    #276 of 632 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch#26 of 302 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History#10 of 54 The Best NBC Comedies Of All Time

  • 13
    Karen Mills-Francis


    Judge Karen is an American arbitration-based reality court show that aired in first-run syndication and debuted on September 8, 2008 in 48 of the top 50 U.S. markets. As with other court shows, such...  more
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  • 14
    MattJackson addedVincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe

    PremieredSeptember 30, 2001

    This show is an American police procedural television drama series set in New York City, where it was also primarily produced. Created and produced by Dick Wolf and René Balcer, the series premiered...  more

    #31 of 54 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasons#129 of 418 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time#11 of 55 The Best USA Network Original Series

  • 15

    PremieredMay 15, 2020

    Gary Busey: Pet Judge (Amazon Video, 2020) is a comedy television series hosted by Gary Busey and featuring Mike E. Winfield and Ian Abramson. The show finds Busey settling disputes between aggrieved...  more
  • 16
    David Ensor, Robert Rietty


    The Verdict is Yours (CBS, 1957) is an American courtroom drama created by Peter Wildeblood. The show featured unscripted performances from real lawyers and judges while the defendants and witnesses...  more
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  • 17


    Judge Maria Lopez is an American arbitration-based reality court show, presided over by Maria Lopez. On the show, guests themselves presented and argued small claims civil actions before the "judge"....  more
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  • 18
    Jeanine Pirro


    Judge Jeanine Pirro is an American arbitration-based reality court show, presided over by retired Westchester County, New York, District Attorney Jeanine Pirro. The series debuted on The CW on...  more
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  • 19
    Paul Provenza


    Kids Court is a children's television/nontraditional court show aired by Nickelodeon. First airing on September 10, 1988 and ending in 1989, it was hosted by actor Paul Provenza. It was created and...  more
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  • 20
    MattJackson addedBrian Dennehy


    Arrest & Trial is an American, syndicated nontraditional court show which follows individual criminal cases via a combination of reenactments and real trial footage. Episodes run for 30 minutes, and...  more
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    #40 of 46 The Best Dick Wolf Shows and TV Series#11 of 124 The Best Docudrama TV Shows

  • 21
    Cuba Gooding, Sarah Paulson

    PremieredFebruary 2, 2016

    American Crime Story (FX, 2016) is an American anthology television series by Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, and Tom Rob Smith. Each season is presented as a self-contained miniseries, following...  more

    #77 of 174 The Best Shows Currently On The Air#203 of 321 The Best TV Shows Of The Past 20 Years#12 of 73 The Best FX Original Shows

  • 22
    MattJackson addedKathy Bates, Nate Corddry

    PremieredJanuary 17, 2011

    Harry's Law is an American legal comedy-drama television series created by David E. Kelley, which ran from January 17, 2011, to May 27, 2012. On May 12, 2011, NBC renewed the show for a second...  more
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    #96 of 134 The Best Dramedy TV Series#20 of 40 The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time#257 of 1,315 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

  • 23
    MattJackson addedMichael Weatherly, Freddy Rodríguez

    PremieredSeptember 20, 2016

    Bull (CBS, 2016) is an American drama television series created by Phil McGraw and Paul Attanasio, based on the early days of talk show host Dr. Phil. Psychologist and trial science expert Dr. Jason...  more
  • 24
    Curtis Court is an American arbitration-based reality court show, hosted by James Curtis. It aired for one season, the 2000-01 television season. The show was produced and distributed by King World....  more
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  • 25
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