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Lawyers, who often defend people or practices that are considered unpopular or wrong (or justify draconian laws in the case of prosecutors), are an infamous Acceptable Target
. Note that this refers to an explicit or implicit suggestion that all or most lawyers are evil, by:
- A character making a joke about lawyers being evil, or
- giving lawyers Animal Motifs that classify them as evil.
It doesn't help that the word Satan
can be translated as accuser/prosecutor.
Tends to be associated with America (especially in The Nineties
) although it's a global trope to some extent.
See also Ambulance Chaser
and Amoral Attorney
, for the evil lawyers themselves.
Of course the one problem with these is that lawyers don't think they're funny and nobody else thinks they're jokes. Although the first part isn't entirely true. Most of the jokes tend to be aimed at litigators. The majority of lawyers will hardly ever go anywhere near a courtroom and if anything, they dislike litigators even more than the general public do since they tend to earn more, have better working hours and live more interesting lives in general than those who spend our working lives reviewing and drafting contracts and devising tax ruses. Lawyer jokes are actually fairly common in the profession, for the obvious reasons
For actual lawyer jokes, see the quotes page.
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- Back to the Future Part II: "The justice system works swiftly in the future now that they've abolished all lawyers."
- Note that Doc does not necessarily say that as good news. Considering the context of the line it's more likely that no lawyers mean no protection from the State Sec.
- From Bee Movie:
Cow: You're a lawyer?
Mosquito: Ma'am, I was already a blood-sucking parasite. I just needed a suitcase.
- Blade 2 has Blade meet a representative of his enemies, and sees he's got the mark of a Familiar, starting this exchange.
Blade: You're human.
Man: Barely. I'm a lawyer.
- From Hook:
"I hear scientists are replacing their lab rats with lawyers. One, the scientists were starting to get attached to the rats. And two, there are some things even rats won't do."
- We also get this exchange:
Ruffio: We kill pirates.
Peter Banning: I'm not a pirate. It so happens I am a lawyer.
Rufio: Kill the lawyer!
Peter Banning: I'm not that kind of lawyer!
- From Liar Liar:
Max Reede: My dad? He's... a liar.
Teacher: A liar? I'm sure you don't mean a liar.
Max Reede: Well, he wears a suit and goes to court and talks to the judge.
Teacher: Oh, you mean he's a lawyer.
- The kid then shrugs indifferently.
- A Murder Of Crows is a subversion, since the hero is a (mostly) heroic lawyer, who matches wits with a serial killer who goes after lawyers because of this trope. The reason was that his son was killed by a drunk driver, but the driver's lawyer got him off on a technicality... and when they walked out of court, he could tell that the killer was repentant, genuinely sorry about the damage he'd caused... but the lawyer was smiling. He had won.
- During a song in Muppet Treasure Island, a pirate sings, "I could've been a lawyer, but I just had too much heart."
- Osmosis Jones: "We'll go down to the haemorrhoids and get you a good lawyer."
- In the western-spoof Rustler's Rhapsody, good-guy gunfighter Rex O'Herlihan faces off against good-guy gunfighter and lawyer Bob Barber. When Barber shoots O'Herlihan in the arm (rather than shooting the gun out of O'Herlihan's hand, as good guys are supposed to do), O'Herlihan's shocked that Barber isn't really a good guy. Barber's response: "I'm a lawyer, you idiot!"
- Pool Hall Junkies: Uncle Mike's introduction in the film has him walking out onto a balcony and telling an Evil Lawyer Joke (while at a party where almost everybody attending happens to work for the same law firm, including Uncle Mike.)
- Conspiracy. When the law keeps being brought up as an obstacle to the proposed policies (continent-wide genocide), Dr. Gerhard Klopfer remarks that they will just change the law. After all, how many of the people present are lawyers? When the majority of members of the conference all raise their hands (Including himself) he laughs and remarks that it was even worse than he thought.
- In Angel Heart, Louis/Lucifer jokes that "one less attorney" in the world doesn't really matter, even though there has been nothing to suggest that Winesap is corrupt or evil in any way ( or knew who his client really was), and the fact that he had a "nasty accident" suggests that he wouldn't have gone along with his client's plan and needed to be silenced.
Question: What's the difference between a lawyer and a trampoline?
Answer: You take your cleats off when you jump on a trampoline.
- Homeward Bound, the final book in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, has Johnathan Yeager discover, to his amusement, that the Race has the same attitude towards lawyers as humans, and spends some time exchanging jokes with appropriate cultural alterations.
- Satan appears in The Bible as a prosecutor in God's court. In Jewish theology, this is in fact the extent of his villainy, and his entire narrative role. Insert joke about how the Christians made him less evil here.
- In The General series by David Drake and S. M. Stirling, there's a species of fish called Advocati. Advocati are invertebrate, foul-smelling, slimy bottom-feeders, that only are useful as dog-fodder, and only that if the dogs haven't been fed for a few days.
- This quote from Deathly Hallows - and Word Of God points out that, ironically, Hermione did become the magical equivalent of a lawyer and used her position to improve the lot of House-elves, Muggles and Muggle-Borns.
Scrimegour: Are you planning to follow a career in Magical Law, Miss Granger?
Hermione: No, I'm not. I'm hoping to do some good in the world!
- In The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defines "liar" as "A lawyer with a roving commission."
- He does at least give lawyers the credit of being discriminate....
- In The Fifth Elephant, Angua points out that the only reason Uberwald switched from Trial by Ordeal to Trial by Lawyer is because they learned that lawyers are crueller.
- Whenever Mr.Slant appears, expect at least one such joke to come.
- One morbid joke following the Horvath bombardment of Earth in the Troy Rising series is that the Horvath only read one bit of human culture, and that was Shakespeare's Henry VI Part 2. Due to a quirk of demographics, the profession with the heaviest casualties from the bombardment was the American Bar Association (well, that's what happens when Washington DC and Los Angeles are major targets).
- Temple, one of the main protagonists of Red Country has had many jobs, the most recent of which was as the corrupt attorney to a company of seedy mercenaries. Even though said mercenaries were raping and pillaging and Temple, the Token Good Teammate, was only involved in drawing up contracts and making land deals (and disapproves of/had no involvement in the killings), he decides that he will likely get less hate identifying himself as a mercenary rather than a lawyer.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville
Jailed meteor freak: You're not a lawyer.
Tess's minion: I'll take that as a compliment.
- In The Mentalist, one Victim of the Week, a lawyer, is killed when his speedboat is destroyed in an explosion. Lisbon and Jane, who were already on the scene when the bomb went off, rush over, only to see the man's severed arm suddenly get tugged underwater by what is almost certainly a shark.
Jane: So much for professional courtesy.
- In Angel, Cordelia discusses the evil law firm Wolfram and Hart, comparing them with vampires Angel and Darla. "You were soulless bloodsucking demons, and they're lawyers." A humbled Angel agrees with her. "We were amateurs."
- More from Angel, this season one gem as said by Gunn: "Whoo! Whoo! My God! They told me it was true, but I didn't believe em. Damn. Here it is! Evil white folks really do have a Mecca." Let's just say that Wolfram & Hart take evil lawyers to a whole 'nother level.
- "They're the law firm Johnny Cochran was too ethical to join." Really, Wolfram & Hart is the personification of the Evil Lawyer Joke.
- In the Charmed episode "Black As Cole" (episode 8 season 4), when Paige learns about Cole's past she says:
Paige: So you were a demon and a lawyer? Insert joke here!
- A lawyer in CSI: New York makes one himself: "What do you call a thousand dead lawyers? A good start."
- Similarly, in the Law & Order episode "Savior," defense attorney Margot Bell says, "What does a lawyer have in common with a sperm cell?" ADA Claire Kincaid replies, "Both have a one-in-a-million chance of becoming a human being," then tells Margot there's a law that once you pass the bar, you have to stop telling lawyer jokes.
- From a Rowan Atkinson sketch, "Welcome to Hell":
The Devil: Now murderers...murderers over here, please. Thank you. Looters and pillagers over here. Thieves if you could join them and lawyers, you're in that lot.
- Boardwalk Empire's resident Amoral Attorney Bill Fallon is the butt of an excellent one from his client, Arnold Rothstein:
Fallon: (impressed by Rothstein's skill at lying) It's not too late to go to law school, Arnold.
- Sebastian Stark is nicknamed Shark.
- In an episode of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids series, it's revealed that Wayne keeps embarrassing Diane every time they go to her law firm's picnics together since he keeps making these jokes.
- Modern Family: When Mitchell and Cameron are staying at Jay's house because theirs is being fumigated, Jay leaves a book of lawyer jokes in the guest bedroom to irritate Mitchell. He cracks these kind of jokes throughout the episode, including "What's the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?".
- In the last episode of season 1 of Las Vegas, Ed Deline says to a group of lawyers that it might seems strange to them to try to do the right thing for once.
- Community gives lawyers a very negative portrayal. The main character Jeff is a former lawyer who got fired for faking his Bachelor's. In one episode, his old colleague Allan says that at his firm, they call someone like that the best lawyer ever. In another, Allan reveals to Jeff that he was the one who got him fired, and Jeff replies: "I know. And I never got the chance to say thank you."
- Tool's song "The Pot" says: Liar, lawyer, mirror, show me. What's the difference?.
- Tom Waits, "God's Away on Business":
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers!
- The Capitol Steps song "'Atsa Lawyer".
- The protagonist of Warren Zevon's "Mister Bad Example"
Of course, I went to law school
And took a law degree
And counseled all my clients to plead insanity
- WeirdAlYankovic's Jurassic Park
A huge tyrannosaurus ate our lawyer
Well, I suppose that proves
They're really not all bad
- The Munchkin Card Game has several lawyer monsters, including So Suu Mee - the Chinese lawyer demon.
- And they won't attack Thieves. It's a professional courtesy.
- The Munchkin Booty "Sea Lawyer" even counts as a shark.
- In the Collectible Card Game version of Illuminati, there is a card referencing William Shakespeare, (see below) called "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" which destroys all law cards in play. In order to use it the player must say "Now seriously, Lawyers are an important part of our judicial system and we'd all be worse off without them." The card notes that the player has to try to say it with a straight face, but is not expected to succeed.
- Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare's famous "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." He made several other jabs at lawyers in his works, but the line from Henry VI Part 2 is the most famous and well known. (Lawyers are quick to point out that's part of a plan to create anarchy and tyranny in revolution.)
- There's a song about this in Legally Blonde The Musical: "Blood in the Water"
- One of John Adams' first lines in 1776: "I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!"
- Later, Adams got into a shouting match with John Dickenson:
John Adams: You cool, considerate men. You hang to the rear on every issue so that if we should go under, you'll still remain afloat!
John Dickinson: Are you calling me a coward?
John Adams: Yes... coward!
John Dickinson: Madman!
John Adams: Landlord!
John Dickinson: LAWYER!
[a brawl breaks out]
- In the intro to Bully, Jimmy describes "corporate lawyers" among the despicable alumni of Bulworth Academy, right after arms dealers and serial killers.
- Earthworm Jim had a LOT of fun with lawyer jokes. Notably, they're reoccurring enemies in "What the Heck?" in the first game.
- Guybrush Threepwood does a whole string of these in Escape from Monkey Island when he travels to Lucre Island to consult the Marley family lawyers. Of course, none of the lawyers actually gets the jokes...
Guybrush: Why don't sharks eat lawyers?note
Confused Lawyer #1: But sharks eat lawyers all the time!
Confused Lawyer #2: Once they've signed all the right corpus delecti waivers...
- As the resident lawyer in Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3, Phoenix Wright is often a target of these from other characters. The other Phoenix, Jean Grey, is just one few to poke fun at him, then there's this lovely quote from Ghost Rider...
"Do you have any idea how many lawyers are in hell?"
- In Scribblenauts, there is a level where you have to get bad guys up from hell to heaven. One of them's a lawyer.
- In Scribblenauts Unlimited, the Starite shard "Liar Liar Pants On Fire", awarded for placing two people who never tell the truth next to each other, can be earned by spawning two lawyers in close proximity. Getting another shard, in the Saurus Park level, involves putting something that sucks blood in a chunk of amber, and a lawyer works just fine.
- Phoenix Wright's protege, Apollo Justice, has a go at himself with these occasionally.
"I'm a lawyer. I live for needless procedures."
- In Miles Edgeworth Investigations, one case starts with Edgeworth accused of murder. To try to calm everyone down, he assures them that he is not the murderer, but is instead a prosecutor. Everyone remains just as convinced he murdered someone.
- In the world of All Over The House, lawyers are Satan-proof because they have no souls.
- Bug in the strip called "Sympathy for the Devil":
- In a Checkerboard Nightmare strip, Lyle's lawyer firm superiors decide to punish him for a recent failing by locking him in a room and lower the temperature until...he puts his hands in his pockets. Despite Lyle pointing out that that's just a lawyer joke, said superiors persist.
- Dominic Deegan lampshades it here.
- The final panel of this Everyday Heroes is an extended evil lawyer joke, half of which is spoken by a lawyer.
- Exterminatus Now, as shown here. Apparently, the Inquisition laywers are a snake, a vulture, and a hyena.
- Freefall has a few, such as this one.
- Get Medieval has a Running Gag along these lines:
See, I used to be a lawyer in Narbonne...
And then you decided you'd rather go to heaven?
- Impure Blood has the level two of the prison, for gladiators, murderers, thieves, rapists and lawyers.
- In the Kevin & Kell universe, most - if not all - lawyers are, in fact, sharks, leading to frequent jokes... for example, when Herd Thinners Inc. is flooded (due to drooling resulting from having an injured rabbit on the premises), Angelique comments that it's not a total loss - now their legal staff can work on-site.
- Narbonic: After Mell falls from heavens: "Holy cheese, do they need lawyers up there!"
- Schlock Mercenary has an entire Hive Mind of snake-like lawyers. There's a standing bounty on them so the crew kill them at every opportunity.
Narrator: Okay, so they are all lawers. Right now you are supposed to be feeling sorry for the heroic, human one...
- Best summarised during Massey's first appearance, when the Partnership Collective attempted to link him to their Hive Mind.
: Ohhhh...it's full of stars. Snake
: Must have pulled the wrong switch. [Amends this] Massey
: AAAIEEE! It's full of lawyers!
- Note Massey himself is a lawyer who subverts any and all Evil Lawyer tropes; so much so that occasionally he has to use lawyer-speak when talking to his employer to hide the fact that moral concerns are the real reason he thinks the current plan is a bad idea.
Tagon: ...Attorneys do it all the time.
Breya: Then it's probably unethical or immoral.
- Sinfest has lawyers in hell... this is instantly lampshaded by Slick.
- Sluggy Freelance had various running gags involving lawyers in the early years that only rarely show up now.
- Used in AH Dot Com The Series, "Heart of Steel", in a flashback - upon hearing that the new crewmember is a lawyer, the two American crewmembers are reflexively thrown into a psychotic rage.
- When Mack from Tales of MU has to visit her lawyer, Lee Jenkins, in his office, and discovers the elevator warded against infernal entry, this comes into play in the form of a joke regarding how long a law firm could last if infernal beings weren't permitted to enter its offices.
- Inverted in Ink City when Cave Johnson meets Edgeworth and automatically punches him upon hearing his profession. The whole reason he considers lawyers Acceptable Targets is because they try to regulate his Mad Science, imposing unwanted morals and values upon his work.
- Whateley Universe has Jadis' lawyer, who works for a super-villain. In a minor subversion, he's basically helping the good guys, if only because Jadis tends to get wrongfully accused. A LOT!
- Daria - Helen (an attorney) is often in the background talking to her boss about cases. At one point she says something to the effect of "No, no, absolutely not! It's unethical, it's immoral, it may well be illegal. I'll have no part of it. [pause] Okay, I'll do it."
- She's also cruel to her staff (which is, sadly, Truth in Television in too many real law offices); she once tells her assistant: "Look, our entire strategy depends on you analyzing those printouts before the weekend. I don't care if your mother's getting married! I don't care if your mother's getting executed! Do you understand?!"
- Family Guy: Peter claims that he'd sell his soul to be famous. Cue a scene in Hell where Satan is pleased to hear that, only to learn that Peter's sold his soul twice already. Angry, he asks if anyone in Hell is a lawyer. Everyone raises their hands.
- Justice League, when a bunch of aliens are persecuting the Green Lantern:
The Flash: "Don't you have any lawyers here?"
Alien Judge: "We solved our lawyer problem a long time ago. However, you could speak for him if you wish. However, be warned: If you lose, you will share the same penalty as the accused."
The Flash: "The same penalty? You mean... That's crazy!"
Alien Judge: "No, that's how we solved our lawyer problem."
- In The Simpsons, OFF have hired Lionel Hutz to help them with one of their many lawsuits. For some reason, they've invited him over to dinner, where Bart says that he wants to be a lawyer when he grows up. Lionel responds with "Good for you, son. If there's one thing America needs, it's more lawyers. Can you imagine a world without lawyers?" then imagines everyone holding hands and dancing across the world, and shudders.
- From the episode "My Mother the Carjacker"
(Homer crashes into the police station)
Chief Wiggum: All you destroyed were bricks, mortar, and attorneys!
Attorney: Remember me… as a drain on society!
- There's also a recent episode where the "Blue-Haired Lawyer" is shown with hairy hands and really long, wolf-like claws.
- In a Wunschpunsch episode where the Curse Of The Week turns all people into animals, the heroes need to put them all on one ship to reverse it. They initially fail as the curse won't stop working - apparently someone is missing - until the ship starts sinking and a pair of sharks swim in - three guesses who those two people were.
- In House of Mouse, Hades, the God of the Underworld, calls Goofy over because a item on the menu uses his name without his permission. Hades tells him "A word to the wise, I have all the lawyers."
- This doubles as Everyone Hates Hades, since in Greek mythology and even the actual Hercules film, everyone who was dead, except for particularly distinguished heroes, went to Hades' underworld. He was turned into an ambitious evil god in the original movie, but he wasn't turned into the stereotypical devil ruling over Fire and Brimstone Hell. A proper response to the original Hades saying "I have all the lawyers" would be "You've got everyone else too, good luck finding them."
- In Timmy's Secret Wish, Timmy was brought to Fairy Court on charges of being the worst godkid ever and Foop was the prosecutor. Foop explained that he became a lawyer to be evil enough to defeat Poof.
- Futurama has this exchange. Note that the lawyer in question was the only person who fought for Zoidberg and believed he didn't do anything wrong when he ate an Earth flag on Freedom Day — even the president of the ACLU thought Zoidberg should have been executed.
Dr. Zoidberg: Ambassador Moivyn, you killed my lawyer!
Moivyn: You're welcome!
- ''The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad gives us Cyril Proudbottom's epic slam against the crown prosecutor, when asked how Toad got the motorcar:
Cyril: The only way a gentleman gets anything: the honest way.
Prosecutor: And WHAT IS the honest way?
Cyril: HAHA! I THOUGHT you wouldn't know that one, guv'na!
- Sea Shepherd, of Whale Wars fame, had to rename one of their ships, which was previously named "Gojira". As they put it, "It’s a great name... BUT the only thing scarier than Godzilla itself is Godzilla’s lawyers."
- It probably doesn't help that Godzilla is the intellectual property of a Japanese company... and that Japan is one of the nations most frequently criticized by environmentalists for whaling. In fact, the moniker was chosen specifically so it (in addition to the fearsome appearance of the ship) would have an impact on Japanese whalers.
- You wanna bet Bela Lugosi, Jr. has heard every bloodsucking lawyer joke ever?
- There's a pub located in Canada called "The Honest Lawyer", with the word lawyer having a pitchfork for the W and the Y having a spaded tail.
- The crew of Jaws named the mechanical shark "Bruce" after Spielberg's lawyer Bruce Raimer.
- The French words for lawyer and avocado are essentially the same (avocat). Hilarity ensues when translating French recipes for guacamole into English using computer software—they end up instructing you to do things like "chop up three lawyers and then put them in a blender".
- Even the law profession is not immune to this. On exams, the hypothetical legal firm is usually given the name Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe ("do we cheat 'em? And how!")
- That's also the name of the firm that allegedly has Click and Clack as clients (their counsel is Hugh Louis Dewey, also known as Huey Louie Dewey). It's also (really!) the name of Car Talk's production company.
- Another made-up name, especially in Britain, is Private Eye's Sue, Grabbit, and Runne.
- True Story: A lawyer was once running late for a meeting, and when he got in the Judge said "Speak of the devil..". The lawyer replied "I believe you are confusing me with my employer."