Night Court was one of the zanier sitcoms of the ’80s. It often eschewed realism and morals for the sake of a good joke. This irreverence helped it stand out from the pack and the show proved popular enough to last eight seasons and garner a whopping ten Emmy nominations.
Aside from the main cast who made the scripts shine on the screen, episodes were usually populated by a variety of guest stars. Some of these were already celebrities, while others were on before they reached the heights of their stardom. As a celebration of these smaller roles, the following list will present ten stars you forgot were on Night Court.
10 Mel Torme
The first episode mentions Judge Harry T. Stone’s affinity for the popular singer and songwriter most well known for “Christmas Song.” Upon hearing about this, Mel Torme contacted the show’s producers and asked about doing a guest spot.
The showrunners were thrilled with the request and eventually got him as a guest for two episodes. As an expert performer of song, his skills expertly translated to a thirty-minute sitcom. He was more than capable of keeping up with the regular cast.
9 John Astin
John Astin is most recognizable as Gomez Addams on the Addams Family sitcom from the ’60s. However, he also had a recurring role on this law themed comedy program. The character, Buddy Ryan, introduces himself as Harry Stone’s stepfather.
It eventually comes to light that he is indeed the judge’s biological father. He had been institutionalized in the past and met Harry’s mother during his time there. By the end of his eleven episode tenure, he had married another woman and started another happy life. The performance proves John Astin’s comedic talents weren’t simply restricted to the Gomez Addams character.
8 Michael Richards
Before appearing on the legendary sitcom Seinfeld, Michael Richards had a small part on Night Court. In the episode “Take My Wife, Please,” Richards plays a man who believes himself to be invisible and tries to burgle an apartment.
Of course, he is not invisible, and the gag is a commentary on how easy it is to feel as such in a bustling metropolis. Richards previously had a featured spot on the sketch comedy show Fridays, so this was far from his first jaunt on television.
7 James Cromwell
James Cromwell has accumulated a healthy handful of notable roles over the years. Trekkies recognize him from Star Trek: First Contact and kids remember him from Babe. Night Court fans might remember his small part in the second season episode “Nuts About Harry.”
In it, he plays a mental patient who recently fled from a hospital. In the same scene is Kevin Peter Hall in a rare appearance sans makeup or costumes. Most have scene the actor before, but usually under a Predator costume fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger or Danny Glover.
6 Lou Ferrigno
As the Hulk, Lou Ferrigno delighted audiences for years rampaging around as the green monster. He also was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s competitor in the legendary body building documentary, Pumping Iron. The Night Court episode “Battling Bailiff” reveals a softer side to the muscular man as he plays a wrestler recently assaulted in the ring by an old lady. Despite only getting punched in the face, he treats the injury as severe physical trauma.
The episode endearingly pokes fun at the sport, mostly joking about how they are all actors. In real life, however, wrestling is a physically demanding activity.
5 Fran Drescher
In the episode “Arthur, Arthur,” a woman diagnosed with Schizophrenia seduces Dan Fielding. The drastic and abrupt changes in attitude drive Dan mad. The woman in question is played by Fran Drescher, who would go on to achieve universal acclaim and fame later on with The Nanny.
While the actress is recognizable, she doesn’t speak with the trademark voice she would use on the later sitcom. Some may take issue with the storyline trivializing mental illness, but it was a different time and the comedy is less about making fun of the illness and more about the situation as a whole.
4 Wile E. Coyote
This one isn’t a celebrity in the traditional sense, but the character is iconic and his cameo in the series is notable. The show was known for going out there for a gag, but bringing in a cartoon for a bit reached whole new levels of zany.
The joke is just one of many during an episode where they attempt to clear out as many cases as possible quickly. In any other show this would be seen as jumping the shark, but in this program, it was a fast, brilliant bit of jest.
3 Brent Spiner
Bob and June Wheeler are a tragically unlucky family who go to New York City after their trailer in West Virginia is destroyed by a tornado. Their anachronistic style and odd misfortune are a source of great comedy on their appearances. Bob Wheeler may not be immediately recognizable, but imagining his face covered in makeup may help trigger some memories.
That’s right, Brent Spiner, better known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, played the the patriarch of the comically sad family
2 Pam Grier
Other than playing Foxy Brown and starring in Jackie Brown, Pam Grier also guest-starred on a two-part episode titled “Hurricane.”
Several pregnant women are forced to give birth in the courtroom after a hurricane traps them inside the building. Every sitcom eventually has a childbirth episode if they last long enough, and who better to usher in this television right of passage than Grier? She was on several other shows during the decade as well, most notably Miami Vice.
1 Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox appeared on the series’ second episode, “Santa Goes Downtown,” as a teenage runaway. A man believing himself to be Santa Clause also factors into the story, hence the episode’s name.
Family Ties was already a popular show at the time, but Back to the Future was still a year away, meaning the guest spot sits on his rise to fame just before he really hit the big time. Even watching early Family Ties episodes shows that the actor was destined for greatness.
Next: 10 Facts You Never Knew About The Cast Of Night Court