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Freeze! Order in the Court! Our 11 Favorite Legal Ladies on TV

by Maggie Furlong, posted Jul 7th 2011 12:30PM
Rizzoli & IslesThere are plenty of law-abiding characters on TV, but we're particularly fond of the ladies who wield badges and shout "objection!" in courtrooms to keep our airwaves safe.

With the return of 'Rizzoli & Isles' (Season 2 premieres Mon., July 11, 10PM ET on TNT) -- where stars Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander battle Boston bad guys as a detective and medical examiner team -- we salute those cops and lawyers who help maintain law and order (some of them are even on 'Law & Order') on TV.

Of course, all of the current TV cops on our list have some iconic legal ladies to thank, including 'Police Woman''s Pepper Anderson (Angie Dickinson); Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) on 'The Shield'; and the dynamic duo of 'Cagney & Lacey' (Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly), just to name a few.

And we can't forget their legal counterparts either, with beloved barristers like Susan Dey's Grace van Owen on 'L.A. Law'; Sarah McKenzie (Catherine Bell) on 'JAG'; the ladies of 'Boston Legal,' 'The Practice' and 'Ally McBeal'; Markie Post's Christine Sullivan on 'Night Court'; and Harmon herself, as 'Law & Order''s ADA Abbie Carmichael.

These pros all helped pave the moral way for what's now one of the most popular professions for women on TV. Here, 11 of our current favorite female TV cops and lawyers.

Mariska HargitayDet. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), 'Law & Order: SVU'
Olivia's tragically sad background -- she was the product of rape, and her mother was an abusive alcoholic -- makes her one of the most sympathetic detectives on TV. With changes underway at 'SVU,' it's hard to imagine anyone filling her shoes.
Season 13 premieres Wed., Sept. 21, 10PM ET on NBC

Rose ByrneEllen Parsons (Rose Byrne), 'Damages'
With a boss like Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), Ellen had to learn to navigate the tough, shark-infested waters of high-profile legal cases pretty fast ... and she's done it with style, grace and an impressive knack for always keeping us guessing.
Season 4 premieres Wed., July 13, 10PM ET on DirecTV's the Audience Network

Regina KingDet. Lydia Adams (Regina King), 'Southland'
As one of the few female detectives on a very male-dominated LAPD squad, Lydia always gets the bad guy, and looks great doing it. Sure, being a workaholic doesn't give her enough time for a proper personal life, but she's getting better about balancing.
Season 4 premieres January 2012 on TNT

Stana KaticDet. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), 'Castle'
Beckett isn't afraid to put her life on the line in the name of justice, and she often finds herself in peril (see: last season's finale), but this tough chick never turns down a seemingly unsolvable case. No wonder she inspired Castle's hit book series 'Nikki Heat.'
Season 4 premieres Mon., Sept. 19, 10PM ET on ABC

Brooke ElliotJane Bingum (Brooke Elliot), 'Drop Dead Diva'
Even with the spirit of an aspiring supermodel stuck inside of her, Jane is an excellent lawyer. Her ability to charm a jury and simultaneously find a key piece of evidence in a big case makes her one of the more delightful courtroom counselors on the small screen.
Season 3 airing Sunday nights at 9PM ET on Lifetime

Marg HelgenbergerCatherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), 'CSI'
Tough but fair with a heart of gold, this former stripper juggles her demanding job at the Las Vegas Police Department and being a single mom. And not to belittle her beautiful mind, but has anyone ever looked hotter examining blood spatter?
Season 12 premieres Wed., Sept. 21, 10PM ET on CBS

Kathy BatesHarriet Kern (Kathy Bates), 'Harry's Law'
This part was originally written with a man in mind, which just makes us love Harry being a Harriet even more. Once a bored patent lawyer, Harry now represents the underserved clients that big shot attorneys wouldn't dare take on.
Season 2 premieres Wed., Sept. 21, 9PM ET on NBC

Angie HarmonDet. Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon), 'Rizzoli & Isles'
With Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) as her medical examiner BFF and polar opposite, the homicide beat is a lot less daunting for Det. Rizzoli. Her head is always on straight, even when it comes to the most brutal cases.
Season 2 premieres Mon., July 11, 10PM ET on TNT

Mary McCormackU.S. Marshal Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack), 'In Plain Sight'
Working for the Witness Protection Program can't be easy, but tough as nails Mary takes the pressures of the job all in stride, always remembering to keep her witnesses at the top of her priority list. She didn't rise to the ranks of U.S. Marshal for nothing ...
Season 4 airing Sundays, 10PM ET on USA

Christine BaranskiDiane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), 'The Good Wife'
Alicia (Julianna Margulies) is the star of the show, but scene-stealing boss lady Diane never backs down from a challenge. Always cool, calm and collected under pressure, we love watching this legal lady work.
Season 3 premieres Sun., Sept. 25, 9PM ET on CBS

Alfre WoodardLt. Tanya Rice (Alfre Woodard), 'Memphis Beat'
This no-nonsense boss keeps the boys of the Memphis P.D. in line -- and that's no small task. Of course, she's sacrificed her home life to get this far professionally, but her sharp one-liners and a hint of motherly love make her the right woman for the job.
Season 2 airing Tuesdays at 9PM ET on TNT

And, of course, there are plenty more where these came from. Which current female TV cops and lawyers do you love? Chime in here in the comments.


Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

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130 Comments

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skyhigh139

where is the good wife? when is coming back? that is the best show on tv today, it is the only
mainstream show i watch juilianne is great, on another note alex jones for POTUS

July 12 2011 at 1:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elonte

how could you not have kedra sedgwick on the closer as one of the favorites. she should have been the first one chosen

July 11 2011 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shakanel3

Hey...do4re90....did you serve in the military???!!! I did, and I am definitely a woman. Do you have "little man" sydrome? Can't stand a strong woman? You poor thing......................

July 11 2011 at 8:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to shakanel3's comment
ANN PONZI

Aren't you glad they didn't list Judge Judy?

July 11 2011 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ANN PONZI's comment
uh1copterdoctor

Hey, Judge Judy puts these other Broads to shame......................

July 12 2011 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beth

The Good Wife is an unforgettable character.

July 11 2011 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
June

I think you are right on with Mariska Hargitay (Det. Olivia Benson on L&O:SVU) and Stana Katic (Det. Kate Beckett on CASTLE). Also, you are right on with the mentionables prior to the list, with Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly (Sgt. Cagney and Det. Lacey from CAGNEY AND LACEY). Those are all great shows. Others not mentioned on the list are Kathryn Erbe (Det. Alexandra "Alex" Eames on L&O: CI), Stepfanie Kramer (Sgt Dee Dee McCall on Hunter), and others.

July 11 2011 at 7:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to June's comment
uh1copterdoctor

Okay, Smartie.....What did Mariska suffer in real Life? Who was Her Mom and Dad, and what happened to Her Mother?

July 12 2011 at 12:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nvera55057

These ladies play cops for our entertainment, so some of you people need to relax.
However, I believe Mariska did make a real life citizens arrest once and has her own Joyful Heart Foundation to help real life rape victims. She is a true hero.

July 11 2011 at 7:04 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
dor4re90

WOMEN IN LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE MILITARY ARE A JOKE. THE ONLY JOBS THEY CAN HANDLE THERE ARE ADMINISTRATIVE, ANSWERING PHONES AND TYPING.

July 11 2011 at 6:52 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to dor4re90's comment
nvera55057

What about Ziva from NCIS and Bones (she solves crimes too).

July 11 2011 at 6:51 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
toetaster

How about sexy, smart Nancy Grace!

July 11 2011 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to toetaster's comment
dor4re90

NANCY GRACE CAN GAG A MAGGOT !

July 11 2011 at 6:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
uh1copterdoctor

Hear, Hear! I'd kick Her out of Bed anytime? Only because there's more room on the Floor to have fun on?

July 12 2011 at 12:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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