Entertainment

The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
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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!
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
Suits is a USA Network legal drama created by Aaron Korsh that stars Patrick J. Adams as Michael "Mike" Ross and Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter. The first episode debuted on June 23, ...more
2
The Good Wife is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles
The Good Wife is an American television legal and political drama that premiered on CBS on September 22, 2009. The series was created by Robert King and Michelle King. It stars Julianna ...more
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
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
4
Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City, where it is also primarily produced. In the style of the ...more
5
The Practice is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Dylan McDermott, Kelli Williams, Lara Flynn Boyle
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
6
Boston Legal is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen
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
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
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
8
L.A. Law is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins
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
9
JAG is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
David James Elliott, Catherine Bell, Patrick Labyorteaux
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
10
Ally McBeal is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Calista Flockhart, Greg Germann, Jane Krakowski
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
11
Matlock is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Andy Griffith, Linda Purl, Kene Holiday
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
12
Damages is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan
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
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
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
14
Franklin & Bash is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Breckin Meyer, Reed Diamond
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
15
The Good Fight is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Stephanie Kuchinski added Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie
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
16
Homicide: Life on the Street is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Rumblefish61 added Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto
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
17
Harry's Law is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Kathy Bates, Nate Corddry, Christopher McDonald
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
18
Bull is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Stephanie Kuchinski added Michael Weatherly, Freddy Rodriguez, Geneva Carr
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
Law & Order: Trial by Jury is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Bebe Neuwirth, Amy Carlson, Kirk Acevedo
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
20
The Guardian is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Simon Baker, Alan Rosenberg, Raphael Sbarge
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
21
Law & Order: LA is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Corey Stoll, Rachel Ticotin, Alfred Molina
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
22
Revenge is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
d.raphael2011 added Madeleine Stowe, Emily VanCamp, Gabriel Mann
Revenge is an American primetime television series that airs on ABC, starring Madeleine Stowe and Emily VanCamp, which debuted on September 21, 2011. During its first season it aired on ...more
23
The Defenders is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall
The Defenders is an American courtroom drama series that ran on CBS from 1961–1965. It starred E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-and-son defense attorneys who specialized in legally ...more
24
Picket Fences is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
ScottChupack added Kathy Baker, Tom Skerritt, Lauren Holly
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
25
Law & Order UK is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Legal Dramas of All Time
Law & Order UK