15 Excellent TV shows like Suits
When he isn't helping you watch TV abroad, David enjoys watching comedy and documentaries. He's a big fan of The Detectorists and Blue Planet. He also loves watching English football, for his sins he supports Arsenal.
These days Suits seems to be best remembered as Meghan’s Markle’s only real acting job before she descended on the British Royal Family.
But that does a great disservice to a US legal drama that had it all and ran for an impressive nine seasons between 2011 and 2019.
During that run, it picked up a large and loyal audience, and doubtless many of you are craving your Suits fix now that it has finished.
Sadly, we can’t bring Suits back from the grave, but what we can do is suggest a few shows that could help to fill that Suits-shaped hole in your life.
There are quite a few contenders, so here is a rundown of our Top 15 TV shows like Suits:
The obvious place to start this list is with the Suits spin-off series, Pearson.
It sees Suits star Gina Torres reprise her role as dynamic lawyer and firm founder Jessica Pearson after she moves to Chicago.
Pearson has been disbarred from working as a lawyer, so she needs to apply her talents in another world. And where better than politics? She starts to work at the Chicago Mayor’s office, a role which sees her having to deal with issues from a very different position to that she held in Suits.
Instead, she has to balance her ideals with the realities of her new role.
Pearson is less light-hearted than Suits, and the drama runs deep. But it retains many of the original series qualities and has a strong ensemble cast. Sadly, this show only ran for one season, but it is well worth Suits fans digging it out.
The Good Wife
The Good Wife is another legal drama, this time starring ER stalwart Julianna Margulies.
Margulies plays Alicia Florrick, a powerful lawyer dogged by scandal after her husband, a former Illinois State’s attorney, was jailed for corruption.
She returns from sabbatical and has to deal with the professional backlash from this, as well as juggling her powerful role with that of being a single Mum.
The odds are dead set against her, but Florrick rises to every challenge that is thrown her way and manages to grow her career and be there for her kids.
This show ran for seven seasons and took home multiple Prime Time Emmy Awards. The New York Times rightly described The Good Wife as, “one of the best legal dramas of the modern era.” We couldn’t agree more.
If you are looking for a Suits alternative with star quality, then look no further than Damages.
OK, it doesn’t boast any genuine royalty, but there is Hollywood royalty in the form of screen icon Glenn Close. If Close alone is not enough, over its five seasons, you can also look out for the likes of Ted Danson (Cheers), John Goodman (Roseanne), William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk), and Timothy Olyphant (Justified).
Unlike Suits, each season of Damages follows a single case, meaning it gets a lot deeper into the cases and the lives of the characters.
Damages is packed with twists and turns and does have light-hearted moments too. It has been described as “one of the smartest thrillers on TV” by the Chicago Tribune, and we heartily concur.
Better Call Saul
Known almost exclusively as the Breaking Bad spin-off show, Better Call Saul is actually an excellent legal drama in its own right.
It follows Saul Goodman, played superbly by Bob Odenkirk. He was the far from reputable lawyer from Breaking Bad and continues to be a cutthroat, morally bankrupt lawyer who will defend anyone if the money is right.
Better Call Saul has many of the legal elements of Suits alongside the dark criminal aspects of Breaking Bad. This show weaves them together perfectly and creates a masterful series that has achieved the near-impossible in matching the peerless Breaking Bad.
Better Call Saul will be five series long when it concludes, and for Suits fans, it really has to be on their watchlist.
Mad Men is based not in the world of lawyers but the world of advertising. But the premise of someone who has climbed the professional ladder without the relevant qualification and experience is repeated by Don Draper, a cult character performed admirably by John Hamm.
Draper uses his charm to ascend the greasy pole at a New York ad agency in the 1960’s. But he harbours a dark secret as do many of the other characters in this powerful yet amusing drama.
Mad Men made stars of the likes of Elizabeth Moss (A Handmaid’s Tail), Christina Hendricks (Good Girls), and Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), and it won multiple Emmys.
It is a period piece but is all the better for it and will prove compelling viewing for Suits aficionados.
From a couple of huge series to a small but perfectly formed legal drama with a great cast and good audience reviews.
Doubt stars Suit’s own Katherine Heigl as Sadie Ellis, a skilled defence attorney at a New York legal practice where her father is a partner. That creates complications but not quite as many as when she starts falling in love with her client, who is on trial for murdering his ex-girlfriend.
Each of the ensemble cast also has their own personal demons to wrestle with, and there are some terrific performances from the likes of Dulé Hill (The West Wing), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), and Steven Pasquale (Six Feet Under).
Doubt is clever, beautifully performed and offers everything you need from a legal drama to settle that Suit’s-sized itch.
The Practice takes a deep dive into the world of defence attorneys. It is set in a New York practice and follows a team of attorneys struggling with the moral challenges that come with representing some seriously unpleasant criminals.
It ran for eight series and, like Suits, managed to mix some powerful drama with some quirky cases and characters to blend humour and serious storytelling perfectly.
The original cast included Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story), Camryn Manheim (Ghost Whisperer), Lara Flynn Boyle (Twin Peaks) and James Spader (Sex, Lies, and Videotape).
The show won a total of 15 Emmy awards and stands up to viewings today every bit as much as it did when it was first broadcast around twenty years ago.
William Shatner (Star Trek) had a guest role in the final series of The Practice, and his character, Denny Crane, along with Spader and Rhona Mitra (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) were then spun off into this new series which ran for a further five seasons.
Boston Legal has plenty of drama, but it is best known for its comedic elements, principally generated by the partnership of Spader and Shatner.
They will not hit everyone’s sense of humour full on, but for those that they do, Boston Legal is, as The Guardian once rightly described it, “the unsung hero of US television.”
With a guest list that reads like a who’s who of US TV alumni, Boston Legal is essential viewing for Suits fans.
The Newsroom, which was created by West Wing head honcho Aaron Sorkin, takes viewers behind the scenes in a cable TV newsroom and does for that world what Suits does for the world of legal eagles.
We see a cast of well-meaning characters forced to juggle the pressure of staying on top of the news agenda with simultaneously balancing the political and corporate demands of their network.
This is another show with an all-star cast including Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber), Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns), Sam Waterston (Grace and Frankie), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), and Olivia Munn (Magic Mike).
The show only ran for 24 episodes, but each is a gem and shows the cast and Sorkin at the imperious best.
Harry Law hit our screens in 2011 and only ran for two years, but for those suits fans who enjoyed the fact that the show didn’t take itself particularly seriously, it is a must-watch.
It stars the inimitable Kathy Bates (Misery) as Harriet “Harry” Korn, a quirky and unconventional lawyer that does things her way.
Korn is disillusioned with her career and, as a result, ends up with unconventional cases, giving the show a chance to tackle some fairly controversial topics in a unique and fresh way.
Despite its limited run, Harry’s Law was a hit with critics and viewers and definitely stands repeated viewings.
Good news Suits fans, here’s a legal drama that is still on air and showing no sign of having the plug pulled any time soon.
Billions stars Paul Giamatti (Sideways) as Charles “Chuck” Rhoades, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Damian Lewis (Homeland) as Bobby Axelrod, one of the big-name corporate criminals he is trying to bring down.
This show looks at the sort of crimes that often don’t get a look in on conventional TV law shows. Subjects like money laundering, stock market manipulation, and other white-collar crimes often don’t make good viewing, but they do here, thanks to some shrewd writing and great performances,
This is criminal suspense in the boardrooms rather than the Bronx and despite this potentially dry subject, it has plenty of humour and wit packed in there too.
For fans of the lighter side of Suits, The Defenders, a dedicated legal comedy, might just be the show for you.
It stars Jim Belushi (According to Jim) and Jerry O’Connell (Sliders) as a pair of Las Vegas lawyers who take on a range of unusual clients, from drunks, to gamblers, to strippers.
They care about their clients but have limited capabilities and also their own personal problems to deal with.
The Defenders is not a high-end law show like some on this list. But it is laugh-out-loud funny and a rollicking good ride for those who like their law with just a little bit of laughter thrown in.
House is by no means a legal show. It is a medical drama starring Hugh Laurie as Dr Gregory House.
It is this lead character that draws the obvious comparison with Suits because he is eccentric, unusually capable, but also deeply flawed as well.
House’s mental instability and drug issues, plus his enormous ego, mean he is prone to lose it with colleagues and patients alike.
But he is always well-meaning and ultimately doing the right thing.
House is compulsory viewing. It won multiple awards and featured a fantastic ensemble cast including, Jesse Spencer (Neighbours), Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar), Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society), and Peter Jacobson (Colony).
Let’s conclude this list with a show created by Dr Phil about a failed lawyer who has decided to use his skills in the world of psychiatry instead.
If this sounds like fun, it is. Bull follows Dr Jason Bull, played ably by Michael Weatherly (Dark Angel), who runs a consultancy group that helps lawyers pick jurors to help them get the right verdict.
He does this with the help of psychology, science, and some powerful computer analysis. It’s a unique angle on the legal process and gives a fresh perspective on trials, as well as bringing plenty of humour into what can be difficult situations.
Bull lacks the intensity of some of our other recommendations, but it is pitched broadly in the same area as Suits and is a show that fans of that show will surely love.