watchworthy presents

The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated February 11, 2020 7.4k votes 1.2k voters 54.1k 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).

Time to vote, or even to rerank this list your way. Enjoy!
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
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

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 134

Network: USA Network

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

More Suits 

#34 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #56 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate All the Top Suits Characters, Ranked by Fans

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

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 101

Network: ABC, American Broadcasting Company

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

More Boston Legal 

#243 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #236 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate The Best Seasons of Boston Legal

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

Number of Seasons: 20

Number of Episodes: 456

Network: NBC

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

More Law & Order 

#194 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch All The Detectives From 'Law & Order,' Rankedlisted 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

Number of Seasons: 21

Number of Episodes: 474

Network: NBC

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

More Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 

#60 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch The Best Law & Order SVU Guest Starslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

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

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 44

Network: CBS

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

More The Good Wife 

#142 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #83 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time The Best Seasons of The Good Wife

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

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 168

Network: American Broadcasting Company

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

More The Practice 

#323 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #284 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

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 271

Network: CBS

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

More Perry Mason 

#85 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time The Best Perry Mason Actorslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

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

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 227

Network: CBS, NBC

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

More JAG 

#417 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #250 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Yearslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

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

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 172

Network: NBC

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

More L.A. Law 

#114 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #225 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

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

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 195

Network: American Broadcasting Company, NBC

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

More Matlock 

#183 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #170 of 686 The Greatest Shows of the 1990s, Rankedlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

11
Damages is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan

Premiered: 2007

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 26

Network: FX, Audience Network

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Psychological thriller, Mystery, Legal drama, + more

Damages is an American legal thriller television series created by the writing and production trio of Daniel Zelman and brothers Glenn and Todd A. Kessler. It premiered on July 24, 2007 on FX ...more

More Damages 

#238 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #125 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

12
Ally McBeal is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Calista Flockhart, Greg Germann, Jane Krakowski

Premiered: 1997

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 112

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

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

More Ally McBeal 

#261 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #355 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #202 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

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

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 138

Network: CBS

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

More Judging Amy 

#241 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #177 of 686 The Greatest Shows of the 1990s, Ranked

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

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 44

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Drama, Psychological thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Revenge (ABC, 2011) is an American drama television series created by Mike Kelley. An emotionally troubled young woman sets out to exact revenge against the people who wronged her father.

More Revenge 

#233 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #73 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

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

Number of Seasons: 3

Network: CBS All Access

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

More The Good Fight 

#15 of 100 The Best Legal Drama TV Shows Ever #35 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

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 67

Network: CBS

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

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 13

Network: truTV, NBC

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
18
Homicide: Life on the St... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Rumblefish61 added Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto

Premiered: 1993

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 122

Network: NBC

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

More Homicide: Life on the Street 

#480 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #324 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #343 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

19
Bull is listed (or ranked) 19 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
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

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 23

Network: TNT

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
21
Harry's Law is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Kathy Bates, Nate Corddry, Christopher McDonald

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 11

Network: NBC

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

More Harry's Law 

#284 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #71 of 92 The Best Dramedy TV Series #692 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

22
Picket Fences is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
ScottChupack added Kathy Baker, Tom Skerritt, Lauren Holly

Premiered: 1992

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 88

Network: CBS

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

More Picket Fences 

#163 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #114 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

23
Law & Order: LA is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Corey Stoll, Rachel Ticotin, Alfred Molina

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 22

Network: NBC

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
24
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn

Premiered: 2015

Number of Seasons: 4

Network: AMC

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

More Better Call Saul 

#26 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #41 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years All of the Breaking Bad Easter Eggs in Better Call Saul

25
Law & Order UK is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Law & Order UK