Judge Wapner (Johnsonverse)

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Judge Wapner logo.png
Genre: Arbitration-based reality court show
Running Time: 22 minutes
Country: United States
Created by: Timothy Hill
Doug Llewelyn
Production companies: Timothy Hill Productions
Doug Llewelyn Productions
Distributed by: Johnson Televison
Starring: Joseph Wapner
Rusty Burrell (1993-2002)
Erik Estrada (2002-2017)
Doug Llewelyn
Narrated by: Jack Harrell (1993-1999)
Phil Hartman (1999-2017)
Seasons: 24
Episodes: 3,120
Release Date: September 13, 1993 - October 20, 2017

Judge Wapner is an American reality court show presided by Joseph Wapner. Like his previous show, The People's Court, this show saw Wapner hear real-life small-claims cases in a simulated courtroom set, with each case bookended by introductions and interviews by court reporter Doug Llewelyn.

When The People's Court was airing its final episodes in 1993, film director Timothy Hill got together with Wapner to create a spiritual successor series, bringing him, bailiff Rusty Burrell, Llewelyn, and announcer Jack Harrell into the fold, alongside much of the same staff.

First airing in 1993, the series was critically acclaimed, winning several awards. After Wapner's death on February 26, 2017, production on Judge Wapner ceased, and his remaining cases continued to air posthumously until October 20 of that year.


In 1993, the producers for The People's Court, Ralph Edwards and Stu Billett, chose not to renew Wapner's contract after a twelve-season run due to the series gaining its lowest-ever ratings, something that Wapner himself had not heard about until his brother-in-law told him he read it in the San Francisco Chronicle. The series was canceled after ratings had dropped to an all-time low. Hearing about this, film director Timothy Hill collaborated with the series' court reporter, Doug Llewelyn, to create a replacement for the 1993-94 television season, bringing in much of the same staff.


Litigant compensation


Opening sequence

The opening sequence, which remained unchanged since its 1993 debut aside from the clips of various cases that changed each season, depicted Wapner walking to the Superior Court of California of the County of Los Angeles, in which he had served from 1961 to 1979, and after a series of clips featuring Wapner and/or various litigants, the show's logo forms next to Wapner folding his arms in his courtroom. Jack Harrell narrated a disclaimer, which was re-recorded with later announcer Phil Hartman after his death:

"The honorable Joseph A. Wapner is a real judge. Having served in Los Angeles Superior Court for years, he still listens to real litigants who have real cases pending in civil court. All parties have agreed to have those disputes settled right here, in our courtroom, before Judge Wapner."

Broadcast history


After Wapner's death on February 26, 2017, production came to an end. The first episode to air since Wapner's death began with Hill on the set explaining that the remaining episodes Wapner had shot would air as normal.