They may not have boasted the glitz, glamour or stubble of Miami Vice’s Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas — another crime-related NBC show that also premiered in 1984 — but the the cast of Night Court never failed to summon a ton of laughs throughout its nine seasons. The popular sitcom focused on the wild and wacky petty crimes that took place once the sun went down in the Big Apple, as well as the antics and relationships of the quirky judicial and legal workers who gave the criminals a run for their (stolen) money.
The secret to the series’ success? “I think we’re a good ensemble,” star Harry Anderson (Judge Harry T. Stone) told Larry King in 1989 of the stellar cast of Night Court, whose chemistry helped earn three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series during the show’s run. “We’ve been very lucky,” Anderson noted, “And we work. We work hard.”
The sitcom, which premiered in 1984, was a big hit with fans up until the fun wrapped up in 1992. It was a great run for the cast of Night Court, which changed at times due to deaths or cast members who left for various reasons.
One actor who stuck around for the show’s entire run is John Larroquette, who played smarmy, wisecracking Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding. Now Fielding — and Larroquette! — is back and better than ever in Night Court’s current reboot, which finds The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) donning the judge’s robe as Abby Stone, daughter of the late Harry Stone. The series has been picked up by NBC for a second season and, according to Larroquette, the judicial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“Harry’s Judge Stone, regardless of pulling hamsters out of his pocket or making red noses appear on all of us in the courtroom, always took the job seriously,” Larroquette told AARP of the original series. “Even though there were a lot of high jinks, you always got to the heart of the case, and cared about the people involved. And even though Abby’s not the most by-the-book judge, she takes the job seriously too.”
The success of both series, Larroquette continues, lies in the fact that the best brand of comedy captures extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances. And on Night Court, “they’re all eccentric; all slightly not there in one way or another,” he explains. “They’re larger than life. But it’s a very normal environment — a courtroom. It’s not a circus.”
The cast of Night Court was as entertaining as a big top circus, however, and fans were drawn to the quirky and lovable characters, as well as to the actors who played them. Read on to find out some fun facts about the series regulars, as well as to see what some are up to today!
Harry Anderson as Harry T. Stone
As the honorable, albeit unorthodox, Judge Harry T. Stone, Harry Anderson was the anchor to the series’ unique brand of comedy. The talented comedic magician had gotten his feet week on network TV doing a stint as con man Harry “The Hat” Gittes on Cheers, which helped him land the lead role on his own series, which earned him three Emmy nominations for playing Judge Stone.
“Somebody saw me on Cheers and thought that I was an actor playing a part as opposed to a guy just doing what he knew. And they gave me Night Court,” Anderson quipped to NPR’s Fresh Air in 1989. “And by the time they realized I wasn’t an actor, I had already signed a five-year contract. Joke’s on them.”
After Night Court wrapped, he went on to play famed newspaper columnist Dave Barry on CBS’s Dave’s World, and he also had a role in Stephen King’s 1990 miniseries It. Though he left Hollywood to live in both New Orleans and North Carolina, he’d still pop up occasionally in bit parts, like he did in 2008 on 30 Rock, where he appeared with Markie Post and Charlie Robinson in an episode titled “The One With the Cast of Night Court.”
When Anderson passed away in 2018 at the age of 65, Larroquette remembered his old pal and co-star fondly. “He was wicked smart. He was wicked funny. He had a big laugh. He had a big heart,” the actor posted to social media.
John Larroquette as Dan Fielding
His role as the womanizing Dan Fielding in the original series earned him four Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, but John Larroquette notes he’s toned down his character’s Don Juan ways for the current reboot. “To have a character as libidinous as he was back then just wouldn’t work. Society has changed, what we think is funny has changed,” the actor, who turns 76 this month, explained to AARP.
Having made a name for himself in the NBC drama Baa Baa Black Sheep in the ’70s and on the big screen in 1981’s Stripes (starring Bill Murray), Larroquette enjoyed plenty of success after Night Court called it quits in 1992. He headlined his own sitcom, The John Larroquette Show, for three years, and had recurring roles on a couple of David E. Kelley dramas, The Practice and Boston Legal.
He also had a far-out turn as a Klingon in 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Now that he’s back in the Night Court courtroom, he’s grateful for the long, successful career he’s enjoyed. As he told Parade, “I’m sort of playing with house money from now on, regardless of what happens.”
Fun Fact: Despite being known as a consummate comedy actor, Larroquette actually made his film debut narrating the opening to 1974’s gruesome horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Markie Post as Christine Sullivan
This popular star worked double duty in the law during the ’80s, appearing as a bail bondswoman on ABC’s The Fall Guy from 1982 to 1985, as well as Night Court’s public defender Christine Sullivan from 1984 to 1991. After the latter series ended, Markie Post scored more success on the small screen on CBS’s Hearts Afire (1992-1995) and NBC’s Chicago P.D.
(Click through to our sister site to catch up with the Chicago P.D. cast — and get the latest update on season 11!)
She also played Dr. Elliot Reed’s mom on NBC’s Scrubs, and Cameron Diaz’s mother in 1998’s ribald big-screen hit There’s Something About Mary. “The fact that [the cast] like each other so much and we all do practical jokes on each other all the time anyway [means that] by the time we get to Friday night and we’re taping…anything goes,” she told Entertainment Tonight of the magic of the cast of Night Court. “And I think that shows on the show. I think you can tell we’re having a lot of fun.”
Sadly, Post lost her battle with cancer in 2021 at the age of 70.
Fun Fact: Post held several gigs on game shows before she started landing roles as an actor, having worked behind the scenes on Split Second and Double Dare, and also appearing as a dealer on Card Sharks.
Richard Moll as Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon
Instantly recognizable as bald bailiff Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon, the 6’8” Richard Moll brought an equally sizable charm (and his adorable “Oooo-kay” catchphrase) to the comedic role, which was a nice departure from the imposing figures he’d sometimes be typecast in due to his hulking figure. In 1979, for example, he played a gangster on Happy Days, and in 1996, he’d play another mob figure briefly on Married….With Children.
After Night Court ended, he played the mysterious drifter from 1999 to 2002 on Nickelodeon’s 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd, and he voiced baddie Two-Face in Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He also played a spooky ghost on the big screen in 2001’s Scary Movie 2.
Still, Bull will be the character most fans remember him by, especially with his trademark look, which came courtesy of another role he had right before his Night Court audition. “When I went in they said, ‘Oh, that’s great. We love the look. Will you shave your head for the role?’” he told People. “I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’ll shave my legs for this role.’”
The actor sadly died on Oct. 26, 2023 at the age of 80.
Fun Fact: Despite his intimidating size and appearance, the gentle giant was a devoted nature enthusiast and bird-watcher.
Marsha Warfield as Rosalind “Roz” Russell
This talented comedian — who served as a writer on 1977’s Richard Pryor Show — joined Night Court in 1986 as its sassy bailiff Rosalind “Roz” Russell. Marsha Warfield went on to host her own daytime talk show, The Marsha Warfield Show, from 1990-1991 before returning to sitcoms to star as Dr. Maxine Douglas for a couple seasons on NBC’s Empty Nest.
The star also racked up some big-screen credits throughout her career, most notably in 1983’s D.C. Cab and 1985’s Mask. Warfield, now 69, came out in 2017, and she made a high-profile — and hilarious — appearance on the Netflix Is a Joke Festival’s Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration in 2022.
She also returned as Roz to the Night Court reboot earlier this year. “They still maintain the Night Court quirkiness as well as the Night Court heart,” the actor told NBC Insider of having the chance to revisit both the sitcom and her beloved character. “It’s nice to come back, you know? It’s like going back to your high school reunion and seeing everybody, being able to recognize them, at 40, 50 years later.”
Fun Fact: Despite her coming out, the comedian has fessed up to having a huge crush on music legend Smokey Robinson. “I’ve loved Smokey from the time I was a little girl.… Smokey was my Prince Charming,” she revealed on Sherri Shepherd’s daytime talker, Sherri.
Charles Robinson as Mac Robinson
As Vietnam vet Mac Robinson, accomplished theater actor Charles Robinson starred as Night Court’s dependable clerk from Season 2 to its end, winning an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series along the way.
Prior to his stint on the sitcom, Robinson appeared opposite Dabney Coleman on Buffalo Bill, and after his Night Court days he went on to play Abe Johnson in CBS’s Love & War (starring Jay Thomas and Joanna Gleason) as well as Bud Harper on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement from 1995 to 1999.
He also joined Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen on their Ink sitcom from 1996 to 1997. On the big screen, Robinson appeared in 2002’s Antwone Fisher, from director and star Denzel Washington. The actor also had a two-episode run in 2018 on NBC’s mega hit This Is Us, playing an old Vietnam buddy of Jack’s. “Most of the people really liked Mac, because Mac really kept a lid on the pot, so to speak,” the actor said at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences event “Funnybone of the ’80s” in 2009. “I can do films, theater, television forever, and it’s always Night Court [that I’m remembered for].” Robinson sadly died in 2021 at the age of 75.
Fun Fact: In his teen years, Robinson enjoyed musical success with a group called Archie Bell and the Drells in the ’60s. He was also in another group later on, called Southern Clouds of Joy.
Read on for more classic 80s sitcoms!