The best lawyers in TV history have made amateur litigators out of us all. (Admit it, you’ve raised an objection or two in Jack McCoy (Law and Order) fashion.) The greatest lawyers on TV have also skewed our sense of justice. (Didn’t we all want Saul Goodman (Breaking Bad) to escape to his waiting Cinnabon?) Finally, these famous TV lawyers have given us all the false hope that there’s a league of imminently competent, attractive and successful attorneys who spend half of their professional lives on pro bono cases.
In the hierarchy of great TV lawyers, there are those who always – or nearly always – get their man. These lawyers likely inspired other fictional barristers to take their LSATs. Perry Mason and Lawrence Preston (The Defenders) instilled a sense of admiration in our justice system. The bad guys always lose, the good guys always go free, and all it takes is one shrewd attorney on the case. Then, TV went Technicolor.
In the current TV landscape, good lawyers lose as often as they win, or use whatever leverage they have – jury tampering, judge blackmailing, witness murdering – to secure the verdict that most benefits their clients. These antics are amid the intrigues of soap-opera-esque sexcapades in and out of chambers. If not in the courtroom, perhaps these characters may have undertaken one of these alternative careers for lawyers.
Though the best sitcom TV lawyers rarely enjoy the same high-stakes games as the best drama TV lawyers, they still bring their work home with them, often in the form of mounting a case against an ill-equipped spouse, who suddenly finds him/herself on trial for eating the last slice of cheesecake. Upvote the top famous fictional lawyers below and keep them in mind next time you need to lawyer up.