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October 6, 2015

TV's Most Outrageous Lawyers

by Maggie Furlong, posted May 24th 2011 7:00PM
TV is chock-full of serious legal dramas, but it's the unorthodox lawyers that provide the most entertainment.

'Franklin & Bash' (premieres Wed., June 1, 9PM ET on TNT) -- starring Breckin Meyer as Jared Franklin and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Peter Bash -- takes the typical legal drama and injects a nice dose of comedy thanks to the fast-talking dynamic duo with a penchant for unexpected antics. (Beyond a flair for the dramatic in court, Gosselaar has a memorable nude scene in episode 1.)

'Franklin & Bash'

But they aren't the only offbeat characters who can still hold court on TV. From the highly successful to those bordering on incompetent, there are countless quirky counselors throughout TV history.

Here, eight of our favorite outrageous small screen lawyers, including hallucination-happy Ally McBeal, 'Seinfeld''s Jackie Chiles and more.

Denny Crane (William Shatner), 'Boston Legal'
Denny Crane! Just saying it takes you back to one of the most outrageous lawyers ever to practice on TV. 'Boston Legal,' from the mind of David E. Kelley, followed the foibles of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, and while the Poole and Schmidt both had their quirks, it was Crane who kept the place laughing with jokes about Mad Cow disease, his staunch Republican viewpoints and a very liberal gun policy. And it's worth nothing: in over 6,000 cases over a 45-year career, he never lost once.

Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott), 'Drop Dead Diva'
Jane is quirky, but can you really blame her? Once a single-minded, brilliant lawyer, a freak near-death body swap gave her the personality of a now-deceased model named Deb. Jane's newfound softer side, guidance from her guardian angel Fred and the combined heart of both women make her one of the most compassionate lawyers at Harrison Parker. Her vivid dreams involving her conscience in the form of Judge Paula Abdul are just icing on the unconventional cake.

Jackie Chiles (Phil Morris), 'Seinfeld'
Jackie Chiles was nothing if not outrageous -- in fact, that was one of his favorite words, along with egregious, preposterous, vesivius and salacious (one of which isn't even a word). This Johnny Cochran knockoff appeared several times throughout 'Seinfeld''s run, including the case against Sue Ellen Mischke, the heir to the Oh Henry candy bar fortune and braless wonder, and in the controversial series finale, in the trial that landed the gang behind bars. He's real, and he's spectacular.

Lionel Hutz (voiced by the late Phil Hartman), 'The Simpsons'
With a practice like I Can't Believe It's A Law Firm!, it's hard to believe that Lionel Hutz wasn't working on his side shoe repair business full time. The Simpsons' lawyer for several cases, most of them lost due to legal incompetence, Hutz was known for falling off the wagon at the most inopportune times. The character retired when Phil Hartman, the actor who voiced him, passed away back in Season 9, although you can still see him in crowds around Springfield sometimes.

Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart), 'Ally McBeal'
Vivid hallucinations and fantasies didn't stop Ally McBeal from success in the courtroom, although dancing babies and a power soundtrack of Barry White did get distracting at times. But in a firm full of very active imaginations, Ally stood out, not just as the show's heroine but as its heart as well. Ally caused controversy during the show's run for her sexy suits and short skirts, but in reality, that was the most normal thing about her.

Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), 'Night Court'
'Night Court' was a place of shenanigans, with a magician judge and wisecracking bailiffs, but no one captured the court's attention quite like prosecutor Dan Fielding (whose real first name was the equally outrageous "Reinhold"). Quick-witted and horny to a fault, Dan never met a lady he didn't like, and he never let a little court case get in the way of flirtation.

Harriet Kern (Kathy Bates), 'Harry's Law'
Harry started the season watching cartoons, smoking pot and badmouthing her cushy patent law gig, then found herself back at square one with a start-up defense firm operating out of an old shoe shop (shoes still there, naturally) complete with a ragtag group of associates. Harry's methods in the courtroom are nothing if not unconventional, but luckily her eclectic clientele never seems to mind.

Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler), 'Arrested Development'
While he's no Bob Loblaw (try saying that three times fast!), Barry Zuckerkorn is the hardly-working attorney of the troubled Bluth family. No matter how many times Lucille Bluth insists, he's really not "very good." With a fondness for transvestite prostitutes, things come full circle for Barry when the Bluths, his only clients, fire him for incompetence and he's forced to turn tricks himself.

Did we miss your favorite? Add to our list in the comments.

Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

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That is Raymond Burr as Perry Mason...

June 01 2011 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You forgot the "Lawyer" that started it all--Raymond as Perry Mason...

June 01 2011 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jjjj508's comment
happy day!

How true the first and one of the very best lawyers in the showbiz television world. Cant match him for sure!

June 01 2011 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Professor Charles Kingsfield from "Paper Chase."

June 01 2011 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Algonquin J. Calhoun of Amos n Andy. Laugh out loud

June 01 2011 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe you left out Arnie Becker (LA Law)!

June 01 2011 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You missed "The Defenders", and most of the LA Law team.

June 01 2011 at 11:00 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ole Martin Halvorsen

Holy ****, how can you NOT have Alan Shore on this list ?

May 25 2011 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Will Truman from Will & Grace

May 25 2011 at 7:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DiMeo

agree good list I like Crane but Alan Shore deserves a spot too

May 25 2011 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not going to insult your list, but you did leave off one that's a major mistake to leave off.
You left off Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad!
"Better Call Saul!"

May 24 2011 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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