Some of the most popular or memorable characters on tv have been attorneys. Most shows, whether they focus on the law or not, have at least one character who is a lawyer. These characters range from strong-willed and smart criminal defense attorneys who fight for the rights of their clients, to dopey barely-passed-the-bar lawyers whose approach to the law is downright comical. Whether they are motivating you to fight for the underdog or giving you much-needed comic relief, attorneys play a huge role on TV today.
What makes a TV attorney great? Is it their commitment the law? Their desire to go above and beyond for justice? They way they can so easily manipulate those around them? The way they can deliver a monologue that moves you to be a better person? Or, is it just as fun to watch an attorney struggle to be adequate? We’ve taken all of these factors into consideration and narrowed down (in no particular order) the 10 best fictional attorneys on TV.
Alan Shore (Boston Legal)
Alan Shore is a smart, sharp, and witty attorney who knows how to work a case. He uses his extraordinary knowledge to connect the issues he handles to seemingly irrelevant social issues. At the end, he offers the jury a moving closing argument, tying his case to that issue, and has them like putty in his hand. His unorthodox techniques and passion for the law make him an unstoppable force.
Mike Ross (Suits)
Mike Ross may or may not be an attorney. Regardless of his current standing with the New York Bar Association, Mike Ross is one fantastic attorney. Using his photographic memory, Mike is able to draw from pools of knowledge that would be unattainable for anyone else. He works as a corporate attorney, but his drive to help those in need often finds himself at odds with the cases he handles.
Jackie Chiles (Seinfeld)
It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous! Jackie Chiles, a recurring character on Seinfeld, is the stereotypical personal injury lawyer. He’s full of energy and his courtroom antics are always good for a laugh. Sadly, Chiles’ effectiveness as counsel is often undermined by Kramer’s behavior.
Ted Buckland (Scrubs)
Sacred Heart hospital wouldn’t be the same without Ted Buckland, the resident punching bag. Ted is a sad and down-on-his-luck attorney who is always the butt of a joke. Ted is terrible at his job and, in truth, has no business being an attorney. However, watching him grapple with the law and try to give advice is great for a laugh.
Denny Crane (Boston Legal)
Denny Crane. Denny Crane is a man who does not let a touch of dementia, or the “Mad Cow,” get in the way of his success in the courtroom. Denny is responsible for perhaps some of the most outrageous courtroom stunts in TV history, yet he always walks away a winner.
Sandy Cohen (The OC)
The life of a public defender is not glamorous. That is, unless, you’re married to the daughter of a millionaire. Sandy Cohen, not shackled by the financial restraints of the PD position, was free to pursue justice for his clients. His desire to good caused him to get a little bit too personally involved in his cases. However, his heart and passion made him a force to be reckoned with and made him one of Orange County’s most lovable characters.
Saul Goodman (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul)
If you’re going to break the law on a regular basis it helps to have an attorney who is equally as dubious as you. Enter Saul Goodman. He is not afraid to do the dirty work to help criminal enterprises function. He cuts corners and often resorts to unsavory tactics to get the job done.
Maggie Lizer (Arrested Development)
Is she blind, or is Michael crazy? Maggie Lizer gave new meaning to the phrase “justice is blind” on Arrested Development. Lizer fakes blindness in order to garner sympathy with the judge and jury, often to the Bluth’s detriment.
Jack McCoy (Law & Order)
For more than 16 years, Jack McCoy graced TV screens across the nation on Law & Order. McCoy was dedicated to pursuing justice, but would often deviate from acceptable practices to get the job done. His unconventional tactics and passion for the job would often land him in hot water in the courtroom, but made him one of the most respected television attorneys of all time.
Elsbeth Tascioni (The Good Wife)
Quirky is an understatement when describing Elsbeth Tascioni. She seemed to battle with some attention and concentration issues, but her absent mindedness never got in the way of her success. Her quirks allowed her to be an excellent advocate for her clients and keep her opponents off-balance at the same time.