These past months have reignited my love for legal drama tv shows as my true crime podcasts just aren’t cutting it anymore and I decided to put together my personal list that I think are worthy enough for some couch time. Whatever type of legal drama you’re looking for, I’ve included a little something for everyone, so grab some popcorn, kick your feet up, and let’s see which legal drama tv shows have me ready to become a couch detective!
What are the best legal drama TV shows of all time? Here’s our picks:
This series is at the top of my list for good reason! Between the length of the series, number of spin offs, and the iconic “DUN DUN”, it should come as no surprise to end up on any legal drama tv show list. Created by Dick Wolf (also creator of Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, Chicago Justice, FBI, and Cold Justice), it’s a show based on actual crimes within recent headlines that breaks down into two perspectives of the justice system; the first half hour focuses on the actual crime, their investigation, and apprehension of the suspect(s), then shifts into the prosecution aspect for the remaining time.
While the original series aired from 1990-2010, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit began in 1999 and is the most popular of the Law and Order franchise boasting 22 seasons, 434 episodes, and continues to maintain steam in 2020.
If you haven’t watched this yet, you need to. Suits is a rollercoaster ride sure to please with great balance in humor and drama as well as characters you’ll either hate to love or love to hate. The series has an outstanding 9 seasons, but was cancelled in 2019.
Suits is a clever series featuring Mike Ross who is a college dropout. To help pay for personal issues at home, he makes the bold move of taking the Law School Admission Test for others. It’s through this very illegal self-employment plan and escaping a sting where he stumbles upon a job interview being held by “the best closer in town”, Harvey Specter. Thanks to his knowledge of the law and an eidetic memory (not to be confused with photographic memory), he’s taken under the wing of Harvey as his associate where they try cases together while trying to hide the truth about Mike’s lack of credentials.
Medium isn’t exactly like the others, but it hits all the right spots for me when it comes to marrying traditional legal drama tv shows with my love for the paranormal. If you enjoyed the magical trio in Charmed, then Medium is right up your alley and should give it a try.
Based on a real life woman by the name of Allison DuBois, a medium who claimed to have helped U.S. law officials in solving crimes through psychic abilities, this show revolves around the life of a woman and her immediate family. The show’s Allison DuBois has been hired on by the Phoenix, Arizona district attorney as a consultant, but not many know about the special abilities she uses to help solve cases.
Technically a legal thriller, How to Get Away With Murder began it’s 6 season run on September 25, 2014. The first season claimed victories at both the 46th NAACP Image Awards and 26th GLAAD Media Awards, and was also nominated for Favorite New TV Drama at the 41st People’s Choice Awards and TV Drama of the Year at the GALECA awards.
Annalise Keating is a domineering powerhouse in the courtroom as a defense attorney. She’s a mysterious woman with charisma and a load of brilliance to go with it. Each year she selects five students to work at her law firm, but this year’s promising candidates and the enigmatic Annalise Keating aren’t aware that a missing person’s case is about to unfold into something far worse – and they will be dragged into the eye of the storm causing their lives to change forever. Twists, turns, and secrets alike, How to Get Away With Murder is a riveting rabbit hole you need to explore.
Any fan of the popular tv show Breaking Bad will immediately know who, and what, this show is about. Better Call Saul is both a prequel and spin off of the previously mentioned Breaking Bad focusing primarily on the main characters of a scummy criminal defense lawyer who goes by the name Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk) and retired police officer Mike Ehrmantraut. While initially their stories run parallel with one another, only coming together every so often, eventually their story arcs fully converge. Better Call Saul is filled with gritty drama and just enough dollops of comedy that keeps viewers guessing.
With it’s first airdate of February 8, 2015, Better Call Saul has a total of 5 seasons under its belt and the promise of a 6th, which will be it’s final. This show has a cult following which may be attributed to it’s heavy association with Breaking Bad. So far they have racked up 39 Emmy Award nominations throughout their past 5 seasons and each season has been nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series award.
A captivating series that only lasted 5 seasons and is fronted by the talented Glenn Close, Damages is unique in featuring a single criminal case they face for an entire season rather than a different case each episode. Patty Hewes is a beast of a lawyer in the high stakes shark tank of New York city’s justice system who has taken on Ellen Parsons as her apprentice. The show follows their intricate dynamic while they simultaneously face off against a major case. Damages is known for its incredible plot twists and non-linear narrative.
While the series didn’t last as long as I’d like, it still satisfied my love of legal thrillers. The series finale answered a lot of questions, but feels to have strayed away from the things I love about it, seemingly stuffing as much information and facts as possible to make sure everything is wrapped up in a nice little package before it’s final goodbye. That said, it’s still a fantastic series you won’t want to pass up.
Legal drama, politics, and scandal. Alicia Florrick had been a stay-at-home mom for 13 years until her husband, Peter Florrick, is arrested and jailed for a public sex and political corruption scandal. To continue making sure her children are provided for, she goes back into the career of law as a litigator while dealing with the aftermath and problems associated with her husband’s current legal issues. Through multiple main story arcs throughout the series and stand-alone storylines, there’s always a cog in the wheel spinning which keeps viewers glued to their screens.
The series itself is robust in size; 7 seasons between the years of 2009 into 2016, and each season contains 22 episodes. The Good Wife also spawned a spin off, The Good Fight, in 2017 which continues to run present day, though production of their most recent season had to be cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I admit the only reason I began watching Bones was due to the crush I had on David Boreanaz back in his Buffy the Vampire Slayer days. That embarrassing (kind of) admission out of the way, Bones follows the unlikely duo of Seeley Booth and Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan through a forensic viewpoint. Each episode focuses on the forensic findings from human remains to help solve a mysterious case for the FBI. While following along the journey of investigation and evidence, we also bear witness to the dynamic between Bones and Special Agent Booth and how each character develops. There’s bits of humor thrown in along with some romance, making Bones a fun show to watch.
The completely bingeable Bones has an amazing 12 seasons and is loosely based on the life and novels of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs. What I recently learned that’s really neat is in Kathy Reichs’ crime novels, Temperance Brennan is the main character, but Temperance Brennan in the show writes mystery novels with the main character being Kathy Reichs. Bones is another legal drama that has a spin off, The Finger, but it only aired from January 12, 2012 to May 11, 2012 with a total of 13 episodes.
Conclusion – Best Legal Drama TV Shows of all Time
Whether you’re a fan of thriller, comedy, the paranormal, or straight up drama, this selection of legal dramas provides hours of non-stop, edge of your seat entertainment. If you’re looking for something spicy and mysterious or dark and humorous, everyone will be able to find something from this list that they’re sure to love. Have you gathered enough evidence to pinpoint which you’d like to watch first?
Debra Haynes is a content writer filled with imagination and endless creativity. She has been writing personally for 20+ years and has recently begun the journey of doing what she loves professionally. A lover of all things strange and weird, she also flourishes in niches about pets, mental health, body positivity, and writing in the first person.