As the leading pioneer of the trash TV tabloid genre, The Jerry Springer Show and its world-famous host have truly pushed the limits of what is acceptable to places many never thought they could go—and there’s hardly a single taboo that they didn’t break along the way. From the endless protests against the show to the endlessly shocking stories that it presented, here are 42 must-read facts about this infamous show and its one of a kind host.
Jerry Springer Show Facts
1. A Previous Life
The show’s host and namesake, Jerry Springer, didn't always spend his days watching people fight over their crazy problems. Springer actually had a long political career prior to the show’s debut, even serving as the mayor of Cincinnati in the late 1970s. Come to think of it, maybe his old job wasn’t always so different from his new one. I mean, at least if political debates back then were anything like they are nowadays!
2. Take Two
Although Springer did at one point have a more serious evening show in addition to his infamous daytime one, the constant barrage of protests and complaints against his hiring eventually became too much for his evening station to handle. His more serious show was promptly canceled as a result. So let me get this straight—people were angry because his daytime show was unserious, so they decided to get his serious show canceled?
3. A Change of Direction
As hard as this may be to believe based on what the show has become, the original intention behind The Jerry Springer Show was for it to be a serious political-themed talk show. This seems like it may have been a fairly reasonable idea, given the host’s political background. Oh, and considering that most political debates often devolve into chaos anyway.
4. With a Little Help From a Friend
In 1994, the show hired a young police officer to provide some extra security while they were filming a KKK-themed episode. Assuming that it would be a pretty fun and well-paying one-time gig, the young man accepted. He ended up liking the experience so much that he quit his day job as a cop to become a full-time security guard on the show.
The young man’s name was Steve Wilkos. As you may already know, he became so popular on the show that he got his own segment, and eventually his own spinoff series, The Steve Wilkos Show.
5. Learning From the Best
Although Springer is undoubtedly the king of the “trash TV” genre, he wasn’t actually its originator despite popular misconception. Older hosts such as Phil Donahue and Morton Downey Jr. originally brought the unique style of entertainment to the airwaves in the decades leading up to Springer’s perfection of the genre.
Despite having one of the most popular and longest-running TV shows of the past few decades, Springer and his show do not hold a single Emmy nomination.
7. Movin’ On Up
In 1982, Springer decided to try and take his political career to the next level by running for Governor of Ohio. Unfortunately, his campaign was plagued by a major scandal in which he was accused of having gone to a sex worker during his younger days. To his credit, Jerry owned up to the accusation, apologized for the mistake, and argued that acknowledging the truth about this embarrassing matter was a sign of his honesty and maturity—demonstrating that he was fit for office after all.
As bold as his attempt at altering the message on this matter was, it still wasn’t enough to sway the voters of Ohio—he lost the race.
8. Think Fast!
Have you ever wondered what possesses people to go on national television and share the most embarrassing aspects of their lives? Turns out it’s not necessarily because they just like attention. Apparently, the Springer show’s “policy” (or better yet, trick) for many years has been to immediately offer potential guests a sweet deal.
Anyone who calls with an interesting story gets a free flight and hotel for that very night, usually filming the episode the next morning. This leaves those involved virtually no time to properly think the decision through before it’s too late. Regardless of whether you think this is morally right or not, it definitely explains more than a few things about this show…
9. The Language Barrier
The Jerry Springer Show definitely likes to push the limits, but it still has its limits! For many years, Springer used the derogatory slur “tranny” on his show. However, once Springer heard complaints from the LGBTQ+ community about the offensive term, he immediately agreed to stop using it. He said that it was never his intention or goal to offend anybody.
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10. One Foot In, One Foot Out
Of all the people who don’t like the Jerry Springer Show, you may be surprised to learn that one of them is actually Jerry Springer himself! Believe it or not, Springer has actually confessed that he never even watches the show himself. Springer says that he is fully aware of how stupid and ridiculous the subject matter is, and that he considers it nothing more than a job.
11. Across the Pond
Despite his lack of accent and his unique role in American culture, Springer was actually born in the United Kingdom. Specifically, Springer entered the world in 1944—in a WWII-era subway station turned bomb shelter. It wasn’t until his fifth birthday that the future talk show host arrived in the country that would become his home.
12. A Record for the Ages
The show really went “all the way” with its craziness when it hosted a woman by the name of Jasmin St. Clair. This unique guest appeared on the show to challenge the “world’s sex record.” Jasmin’s goal was to let everyone know that she had slept with a total of 300 men in the span of just 10 hours—49 more than Jerry’s earlier guest, Annabel Chong.
13. Big Brother Is Watching You
Everyone generates a little controversy now and then, but to be so controversial that even the Federal Government gets mad at you—that takes some serious talent! Well, getting the government mad is exactly what Jerry Springer did in 1998. The so-called “perversity” of his show was enough to provoke a visit to the National Association of Broadcasters convention.
Two United States Senators, Joe Lieberman and William Bennett, complained about the show’s content. They said it would have adverse effects on society, and specifically children. Yikes!
14. New Neighbor
Many people were shocked in 2009 when the Jerry Springer Show moved to Connecticut after almost two decades in Chicago. But perhaps none were more surprised than the local residents of Stamford, the town where the show would now be filmed. Many of these residents were so upset that they staged large protests against the decision.
15. Money Talks
In case you thought that Springer may have relocated his show away from the big city for a nice change of scenery and pace, think again. The big move was due to the large tax breaks offered by the state of Connecticut. Our host saw a solid opportunity to increase his show’s profit margins and took full advantage of it—even when that meant completely uprooting the entire infrastructure of his operation.
Maybe he should really be hosting a financial advice show...
16. A Star Is Born
Not everyone who appears on the Springer show regrets it. Sometimes, the fact that Springer sought to highlight people on the margins of society provided attention for people who don't usually get opportunities for public air time. For example, comedian Jade Esteban Estrada used the show to enter the mainstream spotlight. He first appeared on Springer as a dancer, marking the beginning of a successful show business career—as well as a big step towards public acceptance for his community.
17. Game Plan
Have you ever wondered why Jerry's guests always manage to get into such dramatic fights? Well, you may or may not be surprised to learn that it's more than mere coincidence. It seems that right from the show’s inception, Springer made a conscious decision to “ensure” that there was always some kind of explosive battle in every episode, to avoid the show becoming just another talk show.
18. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Despite what you may have always been told about good behavior paying off, that may not always be true. In Springer’s case, showcasing other people’s bad behavior was enough to get him rewarded with another more serious TV show. For about a year, Springer picked up a second job as a news commentator on Chicago’s WMAQ. For people who disliked Springer's original show, this was not a popular decision. Getty Images
19. Making the Cut
As a result of his role as host of the show, political commentator Bernard Goldberg ranked Springer #32 on his list of the top “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” in the popular 2005 book of the same name. Congrats, I guess!
20. Them’s Fightin’ Words!
As wild as the show may seem today, the current edition is actually tamed down compared to before. The show used to contain much more physical violence in addition to the healthy dose of verbal and emotional confrontation that it still maintains. However, in 1998, under immense pressure from religious groups, the show’s producers agreed to reign in the show’s physical violence.
21. Can’t Get Enough of This Show
At one point in the late 1990s, the show was such a hot commodity that it cost local networks a pretty penny to carry. In fact, one Fox affiliate station actually had to replay the show multiple times per day just to cover its costs! The good news is that some of the stories on this show never get old, no matter how many times you hear about them.
22. First Place
The Jerry Springer Show has the unique distinction of being named the “Worst TV Show of All Time” by Time Magazine. If that’s not a major accomplishment, I don’t know what is!
23. Boy Oh Boy-cott!
As I’m sure you must have realized by now, not everybody likes The Jerry Springer Show. In fact, some people really dislike it. Some even really dislike it to the point where they don’t want anyone else to enjoy it either. You can definitely count the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association among that list. They led a major boycott campaign against the show in 2001, and successfully convinced several advertisers to cease all business with it.
24. Job Openings
It wasn’t just some members of the public who were outraged by the controversies showcased on The Jerry Springer Show. At times it was even Springer’s own coworkers! In fact, two of his coworkers in the news department at WMAQ, Carol Marin and Ron Magers, actually quit their long-standing anchor jobs purely in protest of the fact that their station had hired poor ol’ Jerry!
25. Fake It Til You Make It
If you ever thought that the show’s unique platform for crazy spectacles might be viewed by some as an opportunity to lie for the sake of getting attention, you would be right! In at least one case, a group of three individuals who appeared on the show in a 2003 episode admitted that they completely fabricated their story about a contentious love triangle just to get on TV.
26. We’re Number One!
When one attempts to guess what the most popular talk show of the 1990s might have been, most of us wouldn’t even hesitate to go with the era-defining The Oprah Winfrey Show as our answer. We'd be wrong. The first lady of talk television was actually surpassed in the ratings by none other than the ever-surprising Jerry Springer.
I guess wild antics are more interesting than intelligent conversation after all!
27. Back in My Day
In the early 2000s, the UK banned the Jerry Springer Show from being shown during the daytime on any school holiday. The ban came after an excessive number of parents complained that they did not want their children exposed to the show's subject matter.
28. Making Insults Epic Again
Springer made headlines in late 2016 when he decided to comment on the presidential election and compare the behavior of then-candidate Donald Trump to the guests on his show. After receiving some blowback, Springer changed his position to be that Trump doesn’t actually belong on his show after all. He says it's because the people on the show aren’t liars, unlike the president. Ouch!
29. French Kissing
The show once featured a man named Los, who tried to defend an affair by claiming that his mistress unfairly tricked him into bed by offering him free French fries. According to Los, his mistress knew full well that he couldn't resist the salty snack. If that’s not a salty way to treat your significant other, I don’t know what is.
30. Don’t Be a Chicken
In another classic episode of the show, a woman gave her boyfriend an ultimatum. He had to choose between her and his best friend. Oh, and probably worth mentioning is that his best friend was a chicken. Yes, an actual live chicken. And he was fully serious. Doesn’t it make you wonder where on Earth he finds these people??
31. Fact Meets Fiction
Springer’s show was so popular in the 1990s that he had the opportunity to take his role to the big screen. Springer got to portray a trash TV-style talk show host named ‘Jerry’ in the 1998 film Ringmaster, a character that seemed strangely familiar…
32. Split Decision
Never far from conflict and controversy, the decision to name Springer as the host of the 2013 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards ceremony was, as one might have expected, met with mixed feelings by those involved. The vote by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to select him as the host was won only by a very narrow margin. One of the board members actually resigned over the decision.
33. End of the Line
Many people may not realize this, but the production of the show was quietly canceled in 2018. Although everyone involved chose not to publicly announce the development or make a big issue out of it in the media, the show confirmed that no new episodes will be made. Only reruns and previously unaired stories will be shown from now on. We miss you already, Jerry!
34. Holy Moly!
In 2003, The Jerry Springer Show was turned into a musical and, surprise surprise, it offended people! Despite being popular enough to spawn multiple successful tours in both the UK and US, the 8,000 curse words uttered—as well as the crude depictions of Jesus, Satan, and God—made for more than enough provocation to warrant a protest campaign. 45,000 angry viewers protested against the BBC, who agreed to air a televised version of the play.
35. O Come All Ye Faithful
Despite the fact that a great deal of the opposition to his show over the years comes from religiously-motivated groups, you may be surprised to find out that Springer himself is actually a deeply religious man. The controversial host has openly stated that he believes in God and prays on a regular basis.
36. Take Good Care of My Baby
Although Springer’s on-screen life consists mostly of being entertained by the shenanigans of others, his off-screen life isn't all fun and games. One of the biggest struggles in our host’s personal life is the severe physical disabilities faced by his daughter Katie. For her entire life, Katie Springer has been both deaf and blind.
Despite this challenge, Springer and has wife devote themselves in every way possible to taking care of their daughter and allowing her to live life to the fullest, never to be held back by her disabilities.
37. I Spy
The colossal flop Ringmaster was not Jerry Springer’s only foray into the film industry. In 1999, Jerry played a fictionalized version of himself in a fictionalized version of his show in the classic comedy, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Naturally, the fictionalized version of the Springer show was pretty close to the real thing. The movie showed two characters getting into a big fight on the not-Springer (but totally Springer) show.
38. Just Horsin’ Around
There’s no gentle way to put this, so I’ll just spit it out bluntly. A man who married his horse once came on the show to share the juicy details of how much he enjoyed his relationship. Yeah, we warned you that this one wouldn’t be too pretty. But hey, there wouldn’t be a Springer show if stuff like this didn’t happen!
40. And the Award Goes To...
For his role in the lackluster 1998 film Ringmaster, Springer became the proud winner of a “Razzie” award for the worst new movie star of the year. I’m sure he had so many people to not thank for making that moment possible!
41. Bloody Murder
As light as the subject matter on the Springer show usually is, there was one time when it turned serious really fast. Just a few hours after the airing of a 2000 episode of the show featuring a love triangle involving an obsessed ex, the other two members of the triangle mercilessly beat the aforementioned ex to death in her own home.
Her ex-husband turned killer is currently serving a life sentence in prison for the brutal crime.
42. Over the Line
When the Springer show produced its controversial horse-marriage episode, some stations found it so disturbing that they refused to air it—opting instead to run a compilation episode featuring previous clips from the show.