The fourth season of AMC's 'Better Call Saul' is less than a week away, and with the 'Breaking Bad' spinoff having proven itself consistently as one of the best shows on television, one can expect this upcoming season to uphold creator Vince Gilligan's lofty standards. Gilligan had initially conceptualized the idea for the series in 2012 and was met with hopeful optimism from fans who had grown to love Saul Goodman over the course of his four-season run in 'Breaking Bad.'
Having made his debut in season 2, Saul became of the most prominent and beloved characters in the drama, with his shifty, extravagant, and opportunistic persona endearing him to audiences across the globe. But it's easy to forget amongst his flamboyance and sleazy mannerisms is a highly-competent extra-legal operator who will sniff out every possible legal loophole to ensure his client walks away with the best possible deal. Like it or not, Saul is one of the best criminal lawyers around.
But he's not alone. Over the years, there have been some excellent lawyers on television who seemed to wield an almost magical ability to bend the law to their will, and in the process, spook, mystify, bewilder, and perplex peers and opponents alike. But then, there are also those who provide you with the much-needed comic relief and remain just as important as some of their more serious counterparts.
We've picked out who we think are 10 of the best in no particular order.
10. Ally McBeal (Ally McBeal)
Where to watch: Hulu
When it first began airing in 1997, 'Ally McBeal' was quite revolutionary for how it intertwined legal proceedings as a plot device to reinforce the romantic and personal drama in the lives of its characters. It starred Calista Flockhart as the titular Allison Marie 'Ally' McBeal, who joins law firm 'Cage and Fish' after she quits her previous job because of sexual harassment.
What made Ally one of the more memorable lawyers on television was how she was perpetually in love with and always on the lookout for her 'soulmate.' The fact that the situation was made all the more awkward by the presence of the one ex she had never gotten over at her new workplace, with his marriage with another co-worker setting up a hilarious love triangle. Her little behavioral ticks — be it the songs and hallucinations of the dancing baby in her head or how she unfailingly trips over every time she finds someone attractive — made for a great five seasons before Fox took it off the air in 2002.
9. Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
'The Good Wife' aired for seven seasons between 2009 and 2016, earning critical acclaim for its insight on social media, politics, and law and praise as 'network television's last great drama.' A large portion of what made the show so popular was Julianna Marguiles' role as the eponymous Alicia Florrick, the wife of a Cook County State Attorney who returns to her career in law after the events of a public sex and political corruption scandal involving her husband.
Florrick graduated law school at the top of her class at Georgetown University and went on to carve a respected career for herself before giving up the profession to take care of her two children. Besides the focus on her romantic relationships and the will-they-wont-they dynamic she shared with Josh Charles' Will Gardner, it was her personal growth in the drama that made her one of the more intriguing characters on television. Her transformation from the so-called 'Good Wife' and 'the victim' to 'the victimizer,' as well as a newfound confidence and obsession with power through the series makes as compelling a viewing as any.
8. Jack McCoy (Law & Order)
Where to watch: DirecTV
At the time of its cancelation in 2010, NBC's police procedural and crime drama 'Law & Order' had already run for 20 seasons and taken the honor of the longest-running crime drama on American primetime television, as well as the longest-running live-action scripted American prime-time series with ongoing characters. Amongst these ongoing characters was Sam Waterson's Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, who was a regular fixture on the show for 15 seasons (season 5 - season 20) and developed a reputation as one of TVs most-rounded lawyers.
McCoy appeared in 368 of the series' episodes, with Waterson's portrayal of the character becoming so popular, it resulted in him being declared a 'Living Landmark' by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. An unconventional and ruthless litigator, McCoy comes to be referred to as 'Hang 'em High McCoy' for his penchant to often bend and break trial rules to get convictions in his favor. His overzealousness and relentless hunt for justice, no matter how mundane the case, as well as his intimidation tactics against even the innocent, made him one of those who you just loved to hate but couldn't just ignore.
7. Marshall Eriksen (How I Met Your Mother)
Where to watch: Freeform/FXNow/Hulu
During its nine-season run between 2005 and 2014, CBS' 'How I Met Your Mother' gained a cult following for its ensemble of loving characters. But while Neil Patrick Harris' Barney Stinson got all the plaudits, Jason Segel's Marshall Eriksen was the quiet killer; it's little surprise then that Segel was the highest paid actor on the show. The best friend of Josh Radnor's Ted Mosby, we don't see too much of Marshall's lawyer side. But what little we do see is thoroughly enjoyable.
Marshall gives up his dream of becoming an environmental lawyer for the Natural Resource Defense Council because it doesn't pay the bills. However, realizing that he doesn't want to sell his soul to the large corporates that are decimating America's natural landscapes, he begins his journey towards achieving his goal, treating fans to some brilliantly awkward and hilarious confrontations along the way.
6. Jessica Pearson (Suits)
Where to watch: Netflix
If you've come across advertisements for 'Suits,' it's more than likely that you've been acquainted with Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams). Specter comes across in the series as the extremely charming, persuasive and charismatic lawyer who can make judges dance to his tune, but it's his mentor Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) who is arguably the more talented and skilled lawyer.
Boasting a career punctuated with remarkable achievements, Pearson is fiercely ambitious and career-driven; she made her way to the top of the chain at Pearson Hardman having initially been hired to fulfill the firm's diversity quota. Her captivating backstory, hardcore business demeanor, no-holds-barred approach to law, and knowledge of the ins and outs of the legal system saw her become one of the show's most prominent supporting characters and work her way into fans' hearts.
5. Jackie Chiles (Seinfeld)
Where to watch: Hulu
Considered one of the greatest and most influential shows ever made, 'Seinfeld' has carved a place in the annals of television history for its distinct blend of lovable characters and often preposterous premises. While the likes of George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) instantly became pop culture icons, one of the more timeless characters from the show is Jackie Chiles (Phil Morris). Having only first appeared in the sitcom in season 7 as Kramer's eccentric lawyer, Chiles went on to play a reasonably significant role in the highly-watched series finale.
A parody of O J Simpson's famed criminal lawyer Johnnie Cochran — both were bespectacled, mustachioed, well-dressed, African American lawyers with the same initials and penchants for grandiose vocabulary — Chiles was endlessly delightful because of his fast-talking style and how he described everything with a series of adjectives. His unmistakable catchphrase, "It’s lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous!", and his unique enunciation and delivery easily put him in the firm running as one of the most lovable lawyers on television.
4. Bob Loblaw (Arrested Development)
Where to watch: Netflix
To the delight of fans, 'Arrested Development' returned for its fourth season on streaming platform Netflix in 2013 after a seven-year hiatus. The critically-acclaimed cult hit was canceled by Fox after an initial three-season run between 2003-2006 because of low ratings but was recommissioned, giving audiences the chance to embrace some of their favorite characters once again. Amongst those returning were, of course, Scott Baio's Bob Loblaw, everyone's favorite lawyer.
There's a host of reasons why Bob came to be one of the show's most popular characters, the primary of which is arguably the constant wordplay around his name — Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb," reads one headline in a newspaper in season 3. Meant to sound like 'blah-blah-blah,' Loblaw is a no-nonsense attorney who is somehow equally hysterical at the same time who will give all the legal advice you through his blog: Bob Loblaw Law Blog.
3. Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder)
Where to watch: ABC/DirecTV/Netflix
For her portrayal of Annalise Keating in 'How to Get Away with Murder,' Viola Davis earned several awards and nominations and also became the first-ever black woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. A prominent criminal defense attorney and law professor, Keating caught the imaginations of the American audience because of the drama's unique plot: with five of her students, she somehow becomes entwined in a murder plot.
"I don't know what terrible things you've done in your life up to this point, but clearly your karma is out of balance to get assigned to my class. I am professor Annalise Keating and this is Criminal Law 100 or as I prefer to call it 'How to Get Away With Murder," Keating says to her class. And with that bombshell of an introduction, she had already won over millions. Keating's self-sufficient and self-confident outlook, as well as her complex multi-faceted personality and plethora of personal problems, make her quite the engrossing lawyer.
2. Alan Shore (Boston Legal)
Where to watch: DirecTV
'Boston Legal' fused comedy and legal drama like no other and they had Alan Shore (James Spader) and Denny Crane (William Shatner) to thank for that. Both brilliantly fascinating lawyers with their own unique quirks and traits, we decided to go with Shore for our list because he features more prominently in the lawyer role than his counterpart.
Alan, like many others we have previously mentioned, is brilliant at his job, extremely intelligent and very well informed. Boasting a strong moral core and unwavering in his defense of the underdog, his advocacy for various left-wing causes make him instantly relatable. Alan's proclivities to go on long and winding tangents while representing cases in court also ensure 'Boston Legal' rarely ever had a lackluster episode
1. Lionel Hutz (The Simpsons)
Where to watch: (Fox)
Since it first began airing in 1989, 'The Simpsons' has aired a total of 639 episodes and become the longest-running American sitcom in the country's history. Each of the show's characters has gone on to achieve some semblance of popularity in the years since, with the Phil Hartman-voiced Lionel Hutz possibly the most infamous of the lot. This is partly in thanks to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Hartman's death — he was gunned down by his wife in a 1998 murder-suicide — but also because of Hutz's chucklesome characterization as an 'ambulance chaser.'
From his legal practice, located in a shopping mall and named "I Can't Believe It's a Law Firm!" with "expert shoe repair" services on the side, to his desperate attempts at attracting and enticing clients by offering them free gifts, everything about Hutz screams 'LOSER!' Broke, grossly incompetent and unethical — quite the blockbuster combination — Hutz is also an alcoholic, typifying quite possibly everything a lawyer should not be. After Hartman's murder, Hutz was retired, with the shady lawyer last appearing in a season nine episode titled 'Reality Bites.'