Bob Odenkirk threatens to break bad as Jimmy McGill begins his transformation into beloved scumbag Saul Goodman in
, which is back for its third season. The rise of Saul is a momentous occasion for Better Call Saul fans, inspiring this week’s gallery of 24 favorite TV lawyers! Breaking Bad
Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer who moonlights as a street vigilante against the back drop of a New York ruined by Avengers
shenanigans . Best quality: he works pro bono.
Better Call Saul
Back by popular demand, Bob Odenkirk stars as small-time pubic defender Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) in this spinoff to Breaking
Bad. Odenkirk has remarked Saul resonated with audiences based on how this character works by a clear internal code
(regardless of dubious morality).
Ally McBeal spawned one of the first viral videos (the dancing baby, which the character would hallucinate as her
biological clock winded down) and made Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” cool before Guardians of the Galaxy.
The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story
2016 was rife with O.J. murder case reduxes, including this inaugural season of ACS featuring Sarah Paulson as lead prosecutor Marcia Clark. Paulson took home the Emmy for the role, with the real life Clark calling it ‘a beautiful, nuanced, subtle performance.’
Law & Order
The elder statesman of modern legal shows, there’s been no shortage of memorable lawyers across the franchise’s five
series and 1,000+ episodes. But the top prize goes to Sam Waterston who played the diligent and driven Jack McCoy for
In his most enduring role, Andy Griffith played Ben Matlock for nine seasons with wit and humor, playing up the character’s penchant for hot dogs and extreme thrift (despite charging $100,000 per case).
Defense attorney Perry Mason was so good at his job, he frequently exposed killers without ever going to trial. Raymond Burr played the character for nine seasons starting in 1957, and successfully revived the character for 26 more TV movies starting in the mid 1980s.
Glenn Close won two Primetime Lead Actress Emmys for her performance as litigator Patty Hewes who takes on a law school graduate (Rose Byrne) as her protege, forming what is (to say the least) a contentious working relationship.
The Good Wife
In another highly lauded female lawyer role, Julianna Margulies has won Emmys, Golden Globes, and SAG trophies for her performance as Alicia Florrick, a wife who has to return to lawyerin’ for a living after her husband is incarcerated for a political and sexual scandal.
The Good Fight
In this Good Wife spinoff, Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart is tossed out of her firm after a money scam takes down Diane’s goddaughter (Rose Leslie). Lockhart and her granddaughter join forces with Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) where they overcome racial battles in Chicago, not to mention repairing the the family Lockhart name.
In addition to Scott Baio’s incompetent Bob Loblaw, Arrested Development liked to trot out deviant family lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn (played by Henry Winkler) for laughs. Like any good lawyer (who paid an impersonator to take his Bar exam), Zuckerkorn knows to turn to AskJeeves when hounded by pesky legal questions.
The late, great Phil Hartman had two classic lawyer roles under his belt: first, the unfrozen caveman lawyer from Saturday Night Live, and then from The Simpsons, Lionel Hutz (aka Miguel Sanchez, aka Dr. Nguyen Van Phuoc). Hutz wasn’t the greatest at his day job, but if you needed a paranoid knife-wielding babysitter for your kids, he was your man.
John Larroquette as horndog scumbag prosecutor Dan Fielding stole the show, giving Larroquette more screen time as the show went on.
Like The Grinder, two guys are working for a law firm but only one of them is an accredited lawyer. Once again
reinforcing the point that success is frequently a matter of confidence and nice suits.
The Cosby Show
Clair Huxtable, played by Phylicia Rashad, was the true disciplanarian of the house as her husband (Bill Cosby) dispensed yarns and folksy advice. Clair was also an ambitious lawyer, representing the rapidly changing gender and household roles from the 1980s and onward.
Producer Steven Bochco was one of the kings of ’80s and ’90s television, with no small part of that distinction owed to L.A. Law. Corbin Bersen as Arnie Becker led the ensemble cast that made up the fictional law firm, which directly tackled the social mores and real events of the decades.
L.A. Law writer David E. Kelley graduated from the show and founded The Practice, which took a darker and more studious look at the legal process. Dylan McDermott starred as idealistic attorney Bobby Donnell, a laudable trait that added gravitas to the show as Bobby realized it took accepting dubious clients to keep his firm afloat.
A light, fourth wall-breaking spinoff to The Practice, starring James Spader, Candice Bergen, and William Shatner (whose character would pull out occasional quips regarding Star Trek).
Like Drop Dead Diva, JAG had a big hook: a legal procedural set in and around the U.S. Navy. David James Elliott plays the main judge advocate, who pits his military code of ethics against cases inspired by real-life events.
Another show by David E. Kelley. Kathy Bates stars as the titular Harry, who simultaneously schools and learns from the young whippersnappers that make up her firm (which she runs from a shoe store).
Jackie Chiles (played by Phil Morris) shows up in the later seasons of Seinfeld as a clear parody of attorney Johnnie Cochran (of O.J. Simpson murder case fame). Chiles’ wildly osciliating emotions and enunciated verbosity made him a standout character in a series full of memorable random characters.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Some of the best side characters in It’s Always Sunny are the “normal” people who unfortunately somehow get roped into The Gang’s decadent, scheming universe. The Lawyer (as he’s known) is one such example.
Futurama had a classic episode parodying Ally McBeal (“Single Female Lawyer…havin’ lots of sex…”) but the best lawyer on the show is the Hyper-Chicken, an easily startled and confused countrified bird from some hick asteroid.
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
This Adult Swim show repurposed Birdman as a lawyer, along with countless other classic Hanna-Barbera characters, ushering in a new age of post-modern and remixed comedy.