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The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated February 11, 2020 7.5k votes 1.3k voters 55.1k views 44 items

The best serial legal dramas of all time include some truly outstanding law-related TV shows. Many of the law dramas listed here have been, or were, on the air for many years, thrilling viewers with complicated and compelling legal cases and outcomes. This list includes a lot of fantastic legal dramas, but it is far from complete, so feel free to add your personal favorites. Also, be sure to vote for those legal dramas you believe are worthy of the "best all time" description, and vote down any law TV shows you just can't stand.

What makes for a great serial legal drama? The show needs to have interesting, popular characters, a solid script and excellent, fresh storylines. There's no doubt that TV viewers love their television lawyers -- Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), Patty Hewes (Glenn Close on 'Damages'), Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott on 'The Practice') and Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) are just a few notable examples.

Legal TV dramas tend to be very popular and long-running series. They may also cross over to include a certain amount of procedural crime drama as well. The best example of this is definitely the tremendously popular and successful 'Law & Order' franchise (think 'Law & Order: SVU' and 'Law & Order: Trial By Jury'). These shows combine both sides of the coin -- the cops who catch the criminals, and the lawyers who either defend, or prosecute them (insert dramatic "dum dum!" sound here).

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1
Suits is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Meghan Markle

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy-drama, Legal drama

Suits (USA, 2011) is an American legal drama created by Aaron Korsh. On the run from a drug deal gone bad, brilliant college dropout Mike Ross, finds himself working with Harvey Specter, one of ...more

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2
Boston Legal is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen

Premiered: 2004

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Drama, Comedy-drama, Comedy, Legal drama, + more

Boston Legal is an American legal dramedy created by David E. Kelley and produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for ABC. The series aired from October 3, 2004, to December 8, ...more

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The Best Seasons of Boston Legal #191 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #159 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

3
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

Premiered: 1990

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama, Legal drama, Legal

Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series, created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law & Order franchise. It originally aired on NBC and, in ...more

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All The Detectives From 'Law & Order,' Ranked #144 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

4
Law & Order: Special... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

Premiered: 1999

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama, Live action, Legal drama, + more

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC, 1999) is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City. In the style of the original Law & Order, ...more

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5
The Good Wife is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles

Premiered: 2009

Genres (Tv): Drama, Legal drama

The Good Wife (CBS, 2009) is an American television legal and political drama created by Robert King and Michelle King. Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state's attorney. ...more

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The Best Seasons of The Good Wife #143 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #184 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

6
The Practice is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Dylan McDermott, Kelli Williams, Lara Flynn Boyle

Premiered: 1997

Genres (Tv): Drama, Legal drama, Legal

The Practice is an American legal drama and comedy-drama created by David E. Kelley centering on the partners and associates at a Boston law firm. Running for eight seasons on ABC from 1997 to ...more

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#318 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #242 of 293 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #285 of 422 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

7
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper

Premiered: 1957

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Legal drama, Legal

Perry Mason is an American legal drama series originally broadcast on CBS television from September 21, 1957, to May 22, 1966. The title character, portrayed by Raymond Burr, is a fictional Los ...more

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8
JAG is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
David James Elliott, Catherine Bell, Patrick Labyorteaux

Premiered: 1995

Genres (Tv): Drama, Military, Mystery, Thriller, Adventure film, + more

JAG is an American legal drama television show with a distinct U.S. Navy theme, created by Donald P. Bellisario, and produced by Belisarius Productions in association with Paramount Network ...more

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9
L.A. Law is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins

Premiered: 1986

Genres (Tv): Drama, Legal drama, Legal

L.A. Law is an American television legal drama series that ran for eight seasons on NBC from September 15, 1986 to May 19, 1994. Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, it contained ...more

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10
Matlock is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Andy Griffith, Linda Purl, Kene Holiday

Premiered: 1986

Genres (Tv): Police procedural, Drama, Comedy-drama, Legal drama, Legal

Matlock is an American television legal drama, starring Andy Griffith in the title role of attorney Ben Matlock. The show, produced by The Fred Silverman Company, Dean Hargrove Productions, ...more

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#183 of 422 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch #131 of 293 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

11
Ally McBeal is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Calista Flockhart, Greg Germann, Jane Krakowski

Premiered: 1997

Genres (Tv): Romance TV, Drama, Comedy-drama, Comedy, Legal drama, + more

Ally McBeal is an American legal comedy-drama television series, originally aired on Fox from September 8, 1997 to May 20, 2002. Created by David E. Kelley, the series stars Calista Flockhart in ...more

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#283 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #40 of 94 The Best Dramedy TV Series #66 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

12
Damages is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan

Premiered: 2007

Genres (Tv): Legal drama, Crime, Psychological thriller, Mystery, Serial drama

Damages (FX, 2007) is an American legal thriller television series created by Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler, and Todd A. Kessler. A law school graduate (Rose Byrne) becomes the ...more

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13
Judging Amy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Amy Brenneman, Tyne Daly, Karle Warren

Premiered: 1999

Genres (Tv): Drama, Legal

Judging Amy is an American television drama that was telecast from September 19, 1999, through May 3, 2005, on CBS-TV. This TV series starred Amy Brenneman and Tyne Daly. Its main character is a ...more

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14
Revenge is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
d.raphael2011 added Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, Gabriel Mann

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Soap opera, Psychological thriller, Mystery, Serial drama

Revenge (ABC, 2011) is an American drama television series created by Mike Kelley, inspired by the Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo. An emotionally troubled young woman (Emily ...more

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15
The Good Fight is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Stephanie Kuchinski added The Good Fight Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie

Premiered: 2017

Genres (Tv): Legal drama, Political Drama

The Good Fight (CBS All Access, 2017) is a legal and political drama television series, a spin-off of the 2009 series The Good Wife. A year after the finale of The Good Wife, an enormous ...more

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#117 of 295 The Best Female-Led TV Shows #10 of 100 The Best Legal Drama TV Shows Ever #39 of 110 The Best Legal TV Shows

16
The Guardian is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Simon Baker, Alan Rosenberg, Raphael Sbarge

Premiered: 2001

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Drama, Legal

The Guardian is an American drama series which aired on CBS from September 25, 2001 to May 4, 2004. In the United States, as of 2012, it is being broadcast in re-runs on the Sleuth Channel and ...more
17
Law & Order: Trial b... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Bebe Neuwirth, Amy Carlson, Kirk Acevedo

Premiered: 2005

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Live action, Legal drama, Legal

Law & Order: Trial by Jury is an American television drama about criminal trials set in New York City. It was the third spin-off from the long-running Law & Order. The show's almost ...more

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18
Bull is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Stephanie Kuchinski added Bull Michael Weatherly, Freddy Rodriguez, Geneva Carr

Genres (Tv): Drama, Legal

Bull (CBS, 2016) is an American drama television series created by Phil McGraw and Paul Attanasio, based on the early days of talk show host Dr. Phil. Psychologist and trial science expert Dr. ...more
19
Homicide: Life on the St... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Rumblefish61 added Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto

Premiered: 1993

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama

This series is an American police procedural television series chronicling the work of a fictional version of the Baltimore Police Department's Homicide Unit. It ran for seven seasons on NBC ...more

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20
Franklin & Bash is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Breckin Meyer, Reed Diamond

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy-drama, Comedy

Franklin & Bash is an American comedy-drama television series created by Kevin Falls and Bill Chais. The series stars Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as unconventional lawyers and ...more

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21
All Rise is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Simone Missick, Wilson Bethel, Jessica Camacho

Premiered: 2019

Genres (Tv): Legal drama, Drama

All Rise (CBS, 2019) is an American drama television series. Newly appointed Judge Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick), a highly regarded and impressive deputy district attorney who doesn’t intend ...more

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22
Harry's Law is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Kathy Bates, Nate Corddry, Christopher McDonald

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy-drama, Legal drama

Harry's Law is an American legal comedy-drama television series created by David E. Kelley, which ran from January 17, 2011, to May 27, 2012. On May 12, 2011, NBC renewed the show for a second ...more

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23
Picket Fences is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
ScottChupack added Kathy Baker, Tom Skerritt, Lauren Holly

Premiered: 1992

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy-drama, Comedy

Picket Fences is an American television drama about the residents of the town of Rome, Wisconsin, created and produced by David E. Kelley. The show initially ran from September 18, 1992, to June ...more
24
Law & Order: LA is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Corey Stoll, Rachel Ticotin, Alfred Molina

Premiered: 2010

Genres (Tv): Police procedural, Drama, Live action, Legal drama

Law & Order: LA, originally titled Law & Order: Los Angeles, is an American police procedural and legal drama television series set in Los Angeles, where it was produced. Created and ...more

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#17 of 80 The Worst TV Spin-Offs #38 of 100 The Best Legal Drama TV Shows Ever #53 of 110 The Best Legal TV Shows

25
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn

Premiered: 2015

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Comedy

Better Call Saul (AMC, 2015) is an American television drama series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, and a spinoff prequel of Breaking Bad. The trials and tribulations of lawyer, Jimmy ...more

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