"Your job is to win. ... Justice is God's problem."Shark
— Sebastian Stark
is an American legal drama created by Ian Biederman that originally aired on CBS
from September 21, 2006, to May 20, 2008. The show revolved around Sebastian Stark, played by James Woods. Stark is a notorious Los Angeles Amoral Attorney
who becomes disillusioned with his career, and becomes a prosecutor at the mayor's suggestion. Stark's relationship with the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, his staff, and his daughter forms the central plot for the series.
- Abusive Parents: A defendant charged with kidnapping claimed the kid's parents were that. It didn't help the parents the boy ran away before the trial and the defendant's lawyer brought up evidence they had previously hid an injury the kid suffered to avoid rumors.
- A Fool for a Client: Wayne Callison represents himself and does quite well the first time, winning an acquittal. The second time around, he's convicted, though that's only because Stark framed him. He also represents himself at his appeal, but loses. It turns he knows this, and it's just a ploy to get into the courthouse, where he can escape.
- Alliterative Name: Sebastian Stark.
- Ambiguously Bi: Madeline, who responds to a female lawyer's hitting on her with a nonchalant "Yeah, she's kinda hot."
- Amoral Attorney: Stark himself. He keeps trying to teach his team to use his methods so they can win their cases. Many of Stark's opponents in court come close to this.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me:
Jessica: You know, I remember my first jury trial. I was up against a pretty decent attorney. Kind of pompous and arrogant, but he knew how nervous I was. So he called me while the jury was out.
Stark: Probably wanted to hit on you.
Jessica: Actually, I think that's the one time you didn't hit on me. You told me that at the end of the day, you put your best cards on the table, then you put it in the jury's hands and you let it go.
Jessica: Not the point.
- Asshole Victim: The best example would be a porn magnate whom Stark had refused to defend earlier.
Stark: Tyson Shaw, how do I know that name?
Madeleine: Internet porn. Guy's a zillionaire, and a major sleaze-bag. Beat raps on extortion, racketeering…
Stark: Right, he came to me for representation on an embezzlement charge a couple years ago.
Isaac: You turned him down?
- The Bad Guy Wins: Wayne Callison got away with murdering five women and driving a witness into suicide. For a while.
- Batman Gambit: Stark runs a doozy to get Wayne Callison, making sure no one else in the prosecutor's office knows about it and there is no evidence to prove it.
- Bittersweet Ending: In "In the Grasp", the main perpetrators are convicted, but the guy who stood watch for them not only gets off scot free, but comes out looking like the hero.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Julie, who gets brattier as the show goes on (getting arrested for a DUI, cheating on a test and nearly being thrown out of school, hanging out with the wrong crowd and dating a boy with a substance abuse problem), although this is Truth in Television-teenagers don't exactly make the smartest choices. What makes her truly bratty is how she seems to lash out at and blame her father for all her problems.
- Cassandra Truth: The reason Stark explains his Batman Gambit to Wayne Callison in loving detail.
Stark: I'm not a big one for loose ends, Wayne. There's not a single scrap of paper, not one e-mail to confirm what I just told you. Hanna Morton's remains have been cremated. None of my lawyers knows a thing. And the people who do aren't saying a word. All that's left... are the raving of a convicted psychopath.
- Contrived Coincidence: Stark's plan to get Wayne Callison hits a snag when his team finds another viable suspect, a troubled man who was in love with the victim. It hinders things, but not completely.
Stark: The victim's own private stalker? What are the odds?
- Courtroom Antics: Played straight and played with. In the pilot episode, Stark shows he is able to get someone to lose their cool on the witness stand with a "mock questioning" of Raina. She loses her cool.
- Driven to Suicide: The key witness for the first time Wayne Callison went to trial.
- Five-Man Band:
- Framing the Guilty Party: Stark's Batman Gambit against Wayne Callison.
- Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Whenever Stark finds out that he's prosecuting an innocent person, he stops until the police can find a more likely candidate.
- Hello, Attorney!: Pretty much everyone at the DA's office. Except Issac, who is an investigator.
- Heroic BSOD: Shark has one in the series opener after a wife beater he got off murdered said wife a few days later. The worst part is that the wife had whispered "You've probably saved my life" into Shark's ear just after the trial... It's what turns him into The Atoner.
- Horrible Hollywood
- Humans Are Bastards: "Sex for surgery. And just like that, mankind sinks to a new low."
- Justice by Other Legal Means: Stark claims to be more concerned with winning cases than with actual justice. He makes an exception for Wayne Callison.
- The Kindnapper: One of the defendants prosecuted by Sebastian Stark claims to be one. It was a lie he tricked the child into believing.
- Loophole Abuse: What Stark used as a defense attorney and continues to use as a prosecutor.
- The Lost Lenore: Isaac's fiance, Olivia.
- Nothing Personal: Stark says his cases against the state were just business-LAPD officers quite often disagree.
- Not So Different: Wayne Callison attempts this with Stark. Stark disagrees.
Wayne Callison: Sebastian, we're not so different... you and I.
Stark: Let's just say I learned to channel my obsession in a more positive direction.
- Off on a Technicality: A member of the staff team influenced the jury and it saved the sympathetic defendant.
- In a darker case, Wayne Callison got away with killing five women because the key witness' testimony against him had to be disregarded on the grounds that he wasn't able to cross-examine her. The reason he couldn't was the fact she was Driven to Suicide by him. And that was something he got away with on another technicality.
- Old Cop, Young Cop: In one of Sebastian Stark's cases as a prosecutor, the defendant was a cop charged with killing a criminal's cousin. The cop had a problem with the criminal and accidentally killed the cousin. The cop was the old cop of the trope and the young one was testifying against him. The ex-cop working as a liaison between Stark's office and the LAPD commented on how odd it was that the young cop was testifying against the old one since cops usually take the heat for one another. Then it clicked on Stark that the old cop was Taking the Heat for the young one. The young one had heard stories about the criminal and decided to take justice into his own hands. Stark made a deal where he'd allow the old cop to take the heat if the young one agreed to leave the force forever.
- Overprotective Dad: Stark for his daughter, Julie.
- Papa Wolf: Wayne Callison threatening Julie proved to be a huge mistake, as it led Stark to frame him for another murder to get him convicted.
- Plea Bargain: The show has this happen regularly, or at least has attempts to plea bargain, as is Truth in Television-in the US, over 90% of criminal cases are pled out.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Casey Woodland was written out due to his actor (Sam Page) getting a role in a movie which flopped magnificently.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Not often, but sometimes.
- Shout-Out: The first season finale, "Wayne's World 2: Revenge of the Shark", has a lot of references to Moby-Dick.
- Team Dad: Stark, although he would be the first to deny it.
- Team Mom: Jessica.
- Vigilante Man: The defendant in the episode "Porn Free" says he killed a porn kingpin to benefit society. Stark isn't hearing it.
Raina: Maybe Gilroy really did kill Shaw to make the world a better place.
Stark: (A) That's God's job and (B) altruism is not a viable defense to murder.