"If you start behind the eight ball, you'll never get in front."
— Harvey Specter, giving Mike Ross a little advice
Suits, formerly known as A Legal Mind, is a USA Network television Dramedy series starring Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht. It debuted on June 23, 2011, with a ninety-minute premiere episode. Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a Brilliant, but Lazy college dropout with an eidetic memory that has allowed him to pass the bar exam without attending law school. Harvey Specter, one of Manhattan's best lawyers, hires Mike as his new associate. Due to the firm's policy of hiring only Harvard Law graduates, Mike is forced to pretend that he has gone to Harvard.The show's tone is fairly light, similar to Burn Notice, Psych and Monk, though it possesses a great deal of moral ambiguity, with snappy dialogue and plenty of wisecracking. Also contains probably the first instance of the word "shit" appearing uncensored on USA since the cancellation of Touching Evil.
This show provides examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: Louis kept asking out Monica Eton every day she worked at Pearson Hardman. The only reason she did not file a sexual harassment complaint was that it would have made her look weak in the eyes of her coworkers.
After she left, he moved on to Donna, who tends to be much more vocal with her disapproval. Unless Louis has theatre tickets.
That said, as with most things the characters deal with, the truth was a little more complicated than that.
The Ace: Harvey Specter. Deconstructed in a sense. His huge win record has made him arrogant and self-serving. Although this ruthlessness wins cases for the clients he ends up annoying a lot of people (including the department heads), which has begun to backfire, especially since Daniel Hardman was plotting with Louis to get rid of him.
Broken Ace: He has an almost pathological fear of looking weak and will go to great lengths to preserve an image as a win-at-any-cost Amoral Attorney. A former lover points out that this dooms any romantic relationships he has since he cannot open up and show vulnerability.
Furthermore, Harvey has a far more difficult time trusting women than is healthy, and it takes Donna to even *try* to slap him out of it.
Mike's grandmother visits him at the office and brings him a bagged lunch. She tells Harvey that Mike thinks of him as a hardass though he usually uses a slightly different word for it. She then tells Rachel that Mike thinks that she is lovely. Harvey and Rachel don't let him live it down for the rest of the day.
Louis makes a video conference call to his parents from his tablet to give them some good news. Louis's father is in his underwear and has no problem with the fact that everyone on the other end can see this. When Harvey walks in, they ask to speak with him. Louis immediately ends the call.
Anguished Declaration of Love: Mike. Rachel. Season 2 finale. Although the exact 3 words are unsaid in that sequence, Mike puts Rachel right up there with the previously most important things in his life.
He is treated badly because he treats others badly.
He is constantly made fun of and never given credit, unlike Harvey, despite making the firm a lot of money, usually in a way that doesn't damage the firm's reputation.
He tricked Mike into smoking marijuana while attempting to win a client, and then used this information to blackmail him.
When Donna told him not to enter Harvey's office, he insulted her. He treats the associates like crap. Louis is given credit, but he wants the attention Harvey receives. Louis almost cost the firm a potential client and literally badgered a witness to death.
The manner in which Louis asked to be made partner is why he was shot down. Jessica interpreted it as a threat, so she said no. Also, she can only name one Senior Partner a year, which went to Harvey.
Harvey is Louis' nemesis in his own mind. Although they respect each other as lawyers they are highly competitive, always vying for more power and respect.
Jessica, in context of Mike and Harvey's story. She is generally very benevolent, but she'd be perfectly justified in firing Mike over knowing he has no degree because rightfully so, if anyone found out, it would cause a tremendous amount of harm to the entire firm, both from a business standpoint as well as legal.
Darby. He's actually a really nice guy. But Harvey picks a fight with him because Harvey doesn't like the fact that Jessica and Darby are going to merge their firms because it would hinder his ability to get his name on the door, even though doing so would be nothing but good for both firms and practically everyone involved.
Ironically in season 3 Darby starts to take on the Big Good role at the firm while Jessica starts to verge dangerously close towards Big Bad, at least from Harvey's perspective.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Donna delivers two of these to Daniel Hardman for planting the memo that got her fired. Smug Snake that he is, he no-sells both of them...
Jessica sees herself as this. Her sin was trusting Daniel Hardman nearly blindly. This almost brought the firm she helped build to ruin five years ago. And with her as one of the scapegoats.
Louis Litt qualifies as he committed the same sin. Jessica refers to her sin and this is why she is creating the "Louis Litt Rehabilitation Program," so he can remove the stank of Hardman from him.
Awesome, but Impractical: Harvey, he's an excellent closer, but his narcissism, his abrasiveness when dealing with the other partners and his tendency to do stupid shit, like hiring Mike, make him almost more trouble than he's worth.
Louis actually takes pride in how badly he treats the new associates.
A lot of this can be attributed to the firm's Training from Hell approach to training new lawyers, but Louis tends to take it way beyond that.
He makes Harold take care of his cat even though it is clearly evident that Harold is extremely allergic.
This comes back to bite him when a rival firm poaches some of his best Fifth-year associates with a promise of a nicer boss than Louis and other perks.
Daniel Hardman embezzled funds five years ago and slept with an employee. Today he forged a document for revenge against Harvey and Jessica, and to take back the firm.
Batman Gambit: Harvey's modus operandi. A particularly good example comes in the season two premiere: when his first (and second) plan fails, he uses the failure to create the necessary leverage for his next plan to work.
Battle of Wits: Fast-talking characters use clever wordplay and inspiredmeans to resolve complex legal and personal problems, so it's fair to say the show runs on this.
To Be Lawful or Good: An interesting variation of this comes into play in the series. Legally speaking, lawyers must be Lawful, even if they wish to be good. Know your client is guilty of a crime you find sickening? Doesn't matter, you still have to represent him and try to save him. That said, there are times when characters must decide whether to violate the law for a greater good or save one of their own.
Mike gives a prosecuting attorney privileged information about his client (that he was driving under the influence when he was involved in a hit-and-run). She refuses to use the information (which she has no proof for anyway) and when he accuses her of not caring about right and wrong she dishes out a thorough and devastating What the Hell, Hero?.
The early part of season 3 involves this for the story arc. Harvey in his bid to oust Jessica via Darby promises to helps Ava Hessington against charges of bribery and murder, though it's painted pretty clear that she's guilty of both and Harvey is only helping her because of the job and his own agenda. Except that she isn't, at least in the latter.
The Beard: Darby is very protective of Ava Hessington and treats her like his own daughter because she took on this role during his love affair with her father. Neither man could afford to be outed as gay so Ava pretended to by Darby's girlfriend which allowed him to spend time with her father without arousing suspicion.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Darby stated that he would give anything to get Ava Hessington out of the mess she's in. Turns out the dissolution of the partnership between Darby and Pearson was the cost.
Big Bad: The Big Bad of season 2 is Daniel Hardman. The events of the past five years have turned an Amoral Attorney (he cheated on his cancer ridden wife, embezzled money from the firm, and other things) into a would-be Lawful Good one. Harvey threatens to reveal his secrets to make him stay away, resulting in him confessing to his daughter and his partners in order to re-join the firm.
Big Good: Played with, though the one constant is that of the nebulous firm itself. Before Pearson Hardman was Pearson Hardman, it was called something else. Jessica and Daniel ousted those other names for 'the good of the firm'. Subsequently, Jessica ousted Daniel for the good of the firm. So who the Big Good at, not counting the firm itself, depends on who won the last battle.
The series hinges on Mike and Harvey convincing the rest of the firm that Mike really graduated from Harvard Law School and is a fully qualified lawyer.
Harvey will use Blatant Lies if he can get away with it, though it comes back to bite him often enough.
Trevor asks Mike if he knows any good lawyers. Mike says no. He doesn't, he knows great lawyers.
When Mike was six, he ran away from home to his grandmother's house. She convinced him to return by telling the story of how she ran away from home when she was little and a dock worker found her. It was all a lie based the story on Hansel and Gretel.
Louis apparently told his parents that Harvey is a very good friend of his.
Book Dumb: Not exactly, but there isn't a trope for Test Dumb. Rachel isn't a lawyer because she can't pass law school entrance exams or the bar. It's not a lack of intelligence or knowledge, but simple test anxiety.
Break His Heart to Save Him: Louis tells Rachel that she wasn't accepted to Harvard because of his supposed rift with Sheila, instead of the truth: that she was good, but wasn't good enough for Harvard It doesn't work.
Break the Haughty: Jessica Pearson loves to do this to people she feels are too uptight. She did it to a classmate in law school, getting her drunk then stripping her and leaving her passed out in a classroom. Later, she pulled an elaborate prank on Louis and told Louis that Harvey did it, because she felt both were becoming overconfident.
"Afraid of you? Boy, I just kicked your ass, and you didn't just want it. You begged me for it. Now, you are going to stay here, be humble, and learn your goddamn place." —Jessica, to Harvey.
Mike fits most of the trope conventions before he starts working as a lawyer. Once he starts working in the firm he's shown to be a dedicated employee, regularly working through the night when required.
Harvey lampshades Mike for this when he calls him out for being a "professional cheater". Even after being expelled, Mike could have used his considerable gifts to make a success of himself. Mike's "I did not have a choice" was just a lazy excuse.
Both Mike and Harvey are highly passionate about the law so working as lawyers on high profile cases usually averts this trope for them.
Louis gets a chance to meet his childhood idol, a famous ballet dancer who is now running his own company. Louis tries to help him with a contract dispute but realizes that his idol is actually embezzling from his own company.
Daniel Hardman discovered Jessica and she feels she owed her success to him. His lies and betrayal deeply hurt her to the point where she ends up taking it out on Monica Eton.
May or may not be the fallout from season 2 for Harvey regarding Jessica.
A little bit in "He's Back" for Mike to Jessica.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The lawyer that closed a deal with Mike's grandmother after his parents died honestly doesn't remember who they are, because he treated so many people the same way.
But Not Too Black: Turns out Rachel's dad is a high-powered lawyer - who's also African-American. Lampshaded in a conversation with Mike:
[points to her face] Does this look like a year-round tan?
Call Back: Used frequently. Seemingly irrelevant non-sequiturs can return a full season later.
California Doubling: Averted as a lot of outdoor shots, the season 1 trailer and some scenes for season 2 are filmed on location in Midtown Manhattan, in and around the Citigroup Corporate Center on Lexington Ave. Check the evidence.
Cannot Spit It Out: Oh Scottie, if you had only told Harvey you loved him before deciding to try and bring about a merger.
Cassandra Truth: Mike and Harvey have a disagreement over Mike wanting to tell Rachel he doesn't have a degree. Harvey points out that it's extremely risky and could affect Mike, Harvey, and Jessica as well as the firm. At the end of Season 2, Mike doesn't listen.
One of Daniel's weapons of war. He'll quite frequently say something pointed with just enough truth or insight only twisted in order to get into people's head by making them think about things they don't want to believe to be true.
Catchphrase: Louis is trying to invoke this with "You got Litt up!". The show even ran #littup as a hashtag during one episode.
Cerebus Syndrome: Season one was a fairly even mix of comedy and drama, tending towards comedy, while season two tends towards drama with the comedy being downplayed in most cases.
The Charmer: Harvey, with clients, judges and women alike.
Cheaters Never Prosper: Zig-zagged during the pilot. Mike supports himself by taking tests for others, and Harvey manipulates a client using a well-framed lie. but Mike isn't living up to his potential, and Harvey gets caught (this time). And, of course, Success Is the Only Option for the show's premise.
Subverted in "War". Both Harvey *and* Jessica play dirty.
The fancy Dictaphone Hardman gave to Louis keeps reappearing and becomes quite significant to the plot.
All those theater tickets Louis and Donna trade for favors become important when Louis and Rachel both end up at the same ballet performance. They have a great time and end up snagging the ballet company as a client.
In a flashback Louis mentions that he always has lunch at a local restaurant on Thursday. Five years later Mike has an important meeting at that very restaurant on a Thursday and Louis is there to see it.
The Chessmaster: Daniel Hardman, as revealed in the second season finale. He forged & planted a fake memo, framed Donna, teamed up with Tanner to create the season's core conflict, and manipulated everything for the sake of becoming Managing Partner again. If not for some last minute Xanatos Speed Chess from Mike & Harvey, he would have won.
Also Jessica, at least in Harvey's opinion. All things considered, he's probably right.
Harvey: You're playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
Chew Toy: Poor, poor Harold the sad-sack associate. He's mostly Louis' butt monkey but Mike, Donna, and even Rachel have messed with his head. Hell, Mike's grandmother, who only visited the office once, mocked Harold!
Because of all that, Mike is rather surprised to learn that Harold was actually extremely talented in school - the type of person that actually mentored other students to greatness. It's really only due to Louis and the Training from Hell setting that has broken Harold into a quivering mess. Which is why Mike pulls in a favor to get Harold hired at another firm when Harold is fired.
Interestingly enough, usually subverted among the main characters. Harvey and Louis are extremely loyal to Jessica, who gives Harvey leeway to do things that he wouldn't get away with anywhere else, which Harvey sometimes passes down to Mike. In fact, the last episode of season 2 is so jarring because this happened among Jessica and Harvey.
Season 3 has this in spades between Harvey and Jessica, what with Harvey using Darby's help to back him up against Jessica and possibly usurp her if he wins the case and Jessica using Louis to undermine Harvey's decisions about the case if she doesn't agree with them. Although it also involves a lot of them seeing through each other's deceptions, which raises the question about whether Jessica is really oblivious to Harvey's plan.
Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends Happens to Jenny towards the end of season one. An especially grating case because after she was shuffled out of the show and Mike's life in one quick scene, she turned up once again - in a flashback episode which showed that Mike and Jenny had been into each other from the get go and it was mostly Trevor who originally kept them apart. Which makes one wonder why Mike was so quick to decide that Rachel was his true love after all.
Jessica: The annual survey of associates came out. Pearson Hardman ranked second to last in quality of life. Louis: Who beat us? Jessica: Louis, I know you take great pride in making the associates' lives miserable. Louis: Well I did, until the survey said I was second best at it.
Harvey: I'm not just his lawyer. You know Robert Duvall's character in The Godfather, the consigliere? I'm his Robert Duvall. Mike: Oh really? Because, if you're his Robert Duvall, that means... [smirks] I'm your Robert Duvall.
Contrived Coincidence: In a flashback, Mike and Trevor are eating lunch and making fun of a guy in a suit walking by them. Mike comments that should he ever look like that, Trevor should shoot him. The guy in the suit was Harvey.
Cool Old Lady: Mike's grandma, despite having an "everything problem", has possibly the highest snark-to-sentence ratio in the show.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ava Hessington freely admits to her lawyers that the bribery charges against her are completely true and she also engaged in covering up an environmental disaster and silencing whistle blowers. She orders Harvey to bribe witnesses and generally comes off as capable of anything including murder. A major hurdle for Harvey and Mike is convincing people that she did not actually order the murders of six activists who were trying to block the construction of her new pipeline.
Crazy Cat Man: Louis, though he only has one cat, gets this with quality not quantity.
Harvey: Louis, I apologize. I was out of line. Now, if you'll let me text your pretend wife that I just made senior partner— [Louis walks out in exasperation] ...What?
Harvey: Hey Donna, did you take care of that— [Donna hands him a folder] Harvey: Also, I didn't have a chance to— [Donna hands him a coffee] Harvey: ...Marry me? Donna: I took care of that too—we've been married for the past seven years. Harvey: Excellent. [walks away smirking]
As of Season 2, Mike's grandma seems to have upped the dosage of her snark.
Harvey: I see lip runs in the family.
Despair Event Horizon: Louis very nearly crosses it when he realizes he's become so repellent to Harvey that he is immediately the first suspect when skullduggery is suspected.
Rachel saves Mike from this at the end of season 2.
Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: In the pilot, the opposing lawyer hires a woman to pretend to be another victim just so he can sabotage Harvey's case. At that point Harvey was just fishing and his case was very weak. If the case ever went to trial, Harvey would have probably lost. When Harvey figures out the truth he blackmails the lawyer and his CEO client into a massive settlement.
Didn't See That Coming: Zoe Lawford did not expect tough, strong, Harvey to be so good with kids when her niece stayed the night.
Who saw the last scene of Season 2 coming?
Did You Actually Believe?: Used by Harvey when Louis tries to ask for a return on the numerous favors Louis has done for Harvey.
Dirty Old Man: The CEO who harasses his secretaries in the pilot.
Disproportionate Retribution: Jessica fires Monica Eton for having an affair with Daniel Hardman. Five years later she is working at a clothing boutique rather than as a high-priced lawyer, so there is a good chance that Jessica had her black-balled.
Divided We Fall: Harvey and Louis dislike each other so much that when they have to work together on a case, they crash and burn. When they reconcile and work as a team, they are able to find the evidence they need to win the case.
Jessica is Genre Savvy enough that when she expects this to happen, she arranges things such that no matter how things turn out, she and the firm come out looking good.
The finale of season 2 was this with an exclamation point, to the point that Aaron Korsh says Season 3 will be about dealing with the consequences of this one episode.
The law firm considers testing positive on a drugs test to be a dismissable offense, but unofficially Jessica and Harvey have no problem with occasional marijuana use.
Harvey requires that Mike give up smoking pot because Mike needs to stay focused on his work and The Stoner will not last long at the firm.
Trevor is portrayed as a bad guy more for lying about dealing dope than for actually doing so.
A client who was driving while stoned ends up killing someone. Mike's parents were killed by a drunk driver so he takes this very seriously. The case serves as an aesop for Mike who has become increasingly reckless with his own marijuana use after his grandmother's death.
Embarrassing Cover Up: When Jessica overhears part of their conversation, Harvey tells her that the "secret" he and Mike were discussing is the fact that Mike is still a virgin. The rumour quickly spreads around the office grapevine.
Emergency Stash: Harvey keeps a spare suit in his office, as well as a razor and presumably other things related to male grooming.
Escalating War: Between Louis and Katrina Bennett, Harvey's new fifth-year associate. Guess who wins. Hint: it ain't Louis...
Harvey absolutely dominating a Jerkass businessman in his first appearance.
Mike making a quick-witted escape from a bar exam proctor who's figured out he's cheating.
Louis inviting Mike into his office to watch him fire an intern for late paperwork. The twist is that it's a fake intern and a fake firing, thus establishing Louis as more of a Manipulative Bastard than full-on ruthless.
Donna regularly listening in to Harvey's private conversations via intercom, and using a few Crocodile Tears to make Louis completely back down and apologize to her.
Rachel's reaction to Mike's flattery for being the best researcher in the firm in order to get her help, and who has a better office than the associates.
Eureka Moment: Generally seen in most every episodes where a phrase or single word will make Harvey, Mike, or another lawyer think about another legal means of winning the game. Some examples include:
Mike in the pilot. He blackmails Harvey, who promptly turns around and blackmails his boss in the exact same fashion.
Mike in the Season 2 premiere, while talking with his grandmother. The phrase "there's nothing new under the sun" allows him to devise a strategy to settle a plagiarism suit.
Louis and Harvey were reminiscing when they were New Meat to the firm and had to pull all-nighters. Harvey the hit upon a means of ending a nursing strike.
Even Amoral Attorneys Have Standards: Harvey is quite angry to learn that the district attorney suppressed evidence and put an innocent man in jail. He also frequently makes it clear that there are lines he'd never cross and expects Mike not to cross them either. He's quite offended when Louis accuses him of trying to take all the credit for a win they received together:
Louis himself, even after going over to Hardman's side, wouldn't vote to fire Harvey when Hardman called for it, and voted to get rid of Hardman after finding out that Hardman faked the memo that caused the lawsuit against the firm.
Louis' go-to bribe consists of high-end, hard-to-get tickets to concerts, plays, etc. Donna is a master of using this tactic on Louis, Femme Fatale-style. Hot damn◊. However, if you really want to get Louis on your side, you bribe him with respect. When Daniel Hardman gives him a digital voice recorder it is more than just a fancy gadget but a sign that Hardman knows about Louis's work and appears to respect him as a member of the firm.
Comes up big time before a crucial partners vote: Jessica and Harvey debate whether they can/should bribe enough partners to swing the vote their way. At the same time Louis has to decide whether his new promotion is just a bribe from Hardman or whether Hardman really respects Louis.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Tanner does not realize that Harvey will not perjure himself or tamper with evidence. He would not hesitate to do so in order to win a case and it never crosses his mind that Harvey actually has ethics.
Evil Counterpart: Tanner is an arrogant and highly successful lawyer who likes to think that he is just as brilliant and ruthless as Harvey. While there are ethical and moral lines Harvey will not cross, Tanner crossed them long ago.
Mike is attached to a lie detector when Louis (quite innocently) asks him what law school he went to. Mike ends up answering that he has a diploma from Harvard which is technically true even though the diploma is a fake.
When Mike and the other first years are playing a Harvard Trivia game hosted by Louis, the final question to the other team was "How many sitting [as of 2011] Supreme Court Justices came from Harvard?" When it looks like the other side won by guessing fivenote Chief Justice Roberts, Associate Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Breyer, and Kagan, Mike points out that Justice Ginsburg, though she graduated from Columbia, came from Harvard as she transferred to Columbia. Louis agrees with this and Mike wins.
Mike presents the partners with a signed affidavit from a former client which states that Hardman knew that a car was defective and suppressed the evidence. When Harvey later questions him about it Mike reveals that the document really was 'signed' but if anyone cared to look they would have realized that Mike simply signed his own name on the document. Everyone just assumed that the signature belonged to the client.
Mike tries to pull this with Rachel at the end of season 2. She angrily calls him out on it.
"I just don't want this ending up with you and her in bed and her knowing your secret." So what about the file room, Harvey?
And even for the above, Mike only says he never went to Harvard not that he doesn't even have a degree.
Actually, according to Aaron Korsh, he came fully clean with her. So no, no more shoes dropping on this end.
Expy: Mike's backstory (as revealed in the season 2 premiere) makes him sound a little like Batman if Bruce made more rational decisions. Let's see...
Parents killed at a young age.
Taken in by an older relative or family friend to be raised.
Realizes when he's a teen that he doesn't want to feel helpless.
Discovers a way to 'avenge' or correct his parents death.
Brilliant to the point of being able to read, remember, and understand things extremely fast.
Secret double life.
A case could be made for Harvey and Louis being Looney Tunesexpies, with the witty, confident, uber-resourceful Harvey playing Bugs Bunny to Louis' greedy, ill-tempered, disaster-prone Daffy Duck.
Lampshaded by Louis himself in "Blood in the Water." He tells Mike that the perceived Harvey/Louis relation is Bugs vs. Elmer Fudd, when it's actually Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf: friends and co-workers until the whistle blows, then out to defeat each other at all costs. See the entry under Punch Clock Antagonists.
Amy, Mike's assistant as an investment banker, is to Donna what Mike is to Harvey. Her Establishing Character Moment scene is even strikingly similar to Donna's.
Fake-Out Make-Out: In Discovery, Donna pulls a downplayed version of this when someone discovers her and Mike looking through documents in a file storage room for a case they have to keep quiet about, by ruffling her hair and unbuttoning his shirt and looking flustered.
Fall Guy: Daniel Hardman set up Louis Litt to be the fall guy when he stole half a million dollars from his own firm.
Harvey is protective of Mike, willing to bail him out of some situations but will still call him out for holding the Idiot Ball.
Louis, though a sadist teacher to his associates, cares for them on some level. Showing weakness may not be liked but when he was quitting and saw Mike come out of an elevator with a bloody face, he dropped his stuff and rushed to help Mike, taking him to the bathroom to get cleaned up without a second thought.
Louis again, when he just can't bear to tell Rachel that Harvard rejected her because she wasn't good enough. Instead, he takes the blame himself.
Femme Fatale: Rachel dips her toe into this category in "Normandy".
Flanderization: Louis Litt. While he starts as an unsympathetic yet very competent Bad Boss-type with a few quirks (his soft spot for cats and a couple of unusual hobbies), by season three these quirks started overriding his professionalism, making him go to a mock trial for custody over a cat with an opposing (and equally eccentric) lawyer that isn't even his in the first place, and later totally flunks extremely important negotiations with said lawyer because of that cat. The other guy told him that he didn't read the cat the letters he wrote her.
Foil: Harvey and Louis are one of each other. They share much of the same traits and behaviors with the major difference being that if Harvey 'plays the man', Louis 'plays the law'. It is Louis' strict adherence to the letter of the law (especially when it benefits him) that most people tend to dislike him for whereas Harvey's approach at least makes him seem somewhat charming.
Follow the Leader: Combined with Early-Installment Weirdness. Like other recent USA shows, Suits is about a talented fish out of water thrust into high profile business of whatever they're involved in. However, Mike's lack of legal degree really isn't a huge storyline in the show as the first few episodes and season might suggest. Many episodes don't even bring it up and leave it to dramatic moments. Likewise, while earlier seasons had something of an episodic client-of-the-week structure, season two and onward don't always feature a client. Instead the show has developed in to a plot driven/character driven show based around the murky world of law and of Pearson & Hardman in particular.
Foreshadowing: The show tends to do this a lot, bringing up elements several episodes before they actually mean anything to the audience. It pays to pay attention. This may lead to the show being Better on DVD. According to Word of God, this is even how they brainstorm new plots - watching the show and seeing what interesting things they've already established so that new plots don't come out of nowhere and new characters aren't Remember the New Guy.
Friendly Enemy: Louis realizes too late, almost too late, that he and Harvey are actually this and not true enemies. Harvey may not have liked him but respected him a great deal but his siding with Hardman ended it. Only when Louis helps Harvey save a client not just from a bad deal but keep him to the firm does Harvey forgive him.
Friends Rent Control: Generally averted since most of the characters are high priced lawyers. Mike invokes this during his conversation with Monica Eton by pointing out that since she no longer works as a lawyer, she must be going broke paying rent on a apartment in Manhattan.
Freudian Excuse: Harvey does not take his mother's cheating well, even all these years later, at all.
Funny Background Event: Litt freaks out when someone takes the cab he wants and takes off running after it. Another cab can clearly be seen rolling up just a few yards behind him.
The Gambling Addict: One of Harvey's clients is a hopeless gambling addict who puts his company as collateral against a loan for a poker game and consequently loses the game. Since he is also Harvey's friend, Harvey and Mike try to find a way to get his company back.
Generation Xerox: Mike is quickly acquiring many of Harvey's habits and his professional and personal life begins to resemble Harvey's.
They were both plucked from unqualified obscurity by a prominent lawyer who saw great potential in them.
They both had romantic relationships go sour on them because they could not open up about the secrets they kept.
They both used underhanded tactics to help their mentor in a fight for control of the firm.
When their hard work and sacrifice finally pays off they find out that the relative they were doing all this for has died.
They have similar companions - Donna for Harvey, Rachel for Mike - that both end up telling them about their relative's deaths as well being equals.
In season 3, some of the rationalization Mike uses is practically word for word the same as Harvey's when they both end up in fairly similar conversations with their companion.
Gender-Equal Ensemble: The 6 main characters are all equal gender wise, Harvey Specter, Mike and Louis for the boys and Rachel Zane, Donna Paulsen and Jessica Pearson for the girls.
This may be subverted going forward. While we still have the same 3 guys, for the ladies, we now have Donna, Scottie, Rachel, Jessica, and Katrina.
Genre Blind: Harold is extremely genre blind for a lawyer working at Pearson Hardman. He seems completely unaware that Louis is a ballet fanatic and as such any case involving the ballet is an opportunity to get into his good graces. Instead Harold badmouths ballet and more importantly does so while Louis is standing right behind him, incensed.
Genre Deconstruction: Lawyer dramas. Most of the episodes cover corporate law: negotiations, contracts, mergers etc. rather than courtroom litigation. Harvey's goal is to avoid the courtroom, meaning that going to court has only happened a handful of times as of the episode High Noon.
Amy for Mike, while he works at the investment company in season 4.
Green-Eyed Epiphany: Rachel does not want to get involved with Mike but as soon as he gets together with Jenny, she becomes a big flirt and kisses him. He soon calls her out on it.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Harvey ticks off two options he doesn't like on his thumb and index finger, and third that he does like on his middle finger. He announces he's not taking the first two options and lowers those two fingers, essentially flipping off the other guy.
That way of showing the finger shows up several times - Mike does it when he's called out on his babyface, same for a D.A. that hates Harvey.
Guile Hero: Mike, and possibly several other characters at the firm, depending on their true motivations. Donna in particular manages to outwit, out-talk and out-think even Harvey on a daily basis.
Donna:(to Louis) Is it more important how I know... or that I know? Louis:(stunned expression).
Hanging Judge: One episode has a judge who sets out to ruin Harvey for supposedly having an affair with his wife. He hands out $1000 fines for minor court infractions before casually dismissing their case, then attempts to blackmail Harvey into admitting to the non-existent affair before he will even consider overturning the ruling.
Headbutting Heroes: Harvey and Jessica, with Mike caught in the middle, in the last episode of season 2.
The Heart: Donna combined with something of a Morality Pet. More so than Mike, she's usually the one everyone looks towards for stability and the one to question if they're crossing moral and ethical lines.
Hello, Attorney!: Jessica cleans up nicely, as does Rachel. For the ladiesnote and a statistically significant portion of the gentlemen, we have Mike and Harvey.
Heroic BSOD: Harvey when he realizes that the evidence his ex-boss buried led to an innocent man being imprisoned for 12 years.
Later when Jessica tells him to fire Mike. He's genuinely mourning, as noted by Donna. Subverted almost one minute later, when it seems Mike has had the bad news broken to him...and then it turns out Harvey just said he was proud of him.
When Harvey and Mike learn of the deaths of their father and grandmother, respectively.
Rachel's rejection from Harvard.
He Who Fights Monsters: Hardman's (perhaps bitter) prophecy to Jessica, about Harvey. That is, the cycle of underling turning on mentor will repeat, first with Jessica and Harvey and then Harvey and Mike. Though given the moral lines those three don't cross versus Hardman's willingness, this may be just be sour grapes.
Definitely more than sour grapes, given Harvey's desires for his name on the door.
As of the events of "War", Mike calls Harvey out on this due to some of the actions he's taken (and had Mike take).
Honor Before Reason: Harvey refuses to testify against an old boss of his even though it could get him disbarred. He knows that the man is guilty but he still refuses.
Hyper Competent Sidekick: Rachel and Donna, though both without the Pointy-Haired Boss undertone typical of the trope. Both of them command a lot of respect within the firm. Especially Donna, who can make anyone up to Louis seemingly tuck their tails between their legs and run away.
Hypocrite: Mike's defining character trait, combined with an astonishing lack of self awareness.
I Ate What??: Mike is trying out a restaurant to host an associate's party. At Rachel's insistance, he pops a squid delicacy into his mouth.
Mike: [with shock and disgust] I think it's still moving...
I Did What I Had to Do: Louis uses this as his defense after attacking Donna during the trial run. He pointed out that he was simply playing his part and that he did it for the firm, and that Tanner wouldn't have been any nicer. While Louis is a Jerkass, it has been established that he does like Donna and wouldn't attack her without reason.
The last episode of season 2 is layer after layer of this. First Darby freezes Harvey's client's assets, then Harvey breaks the Chinese wall, along with Scottie giving Mike a way to stop the merger, and then Jessica wins everything by blackmailing Mike.
Idiot Ball: A recurring theme is that smart people will do stupid things due to sheer arrogance.
Harvey hires Mike as a lark and really does not think about the potential consequences of lying to the rest of the firm.
Harvey calling Louis weak, while trying to get Louis on his side.
A lawyer pays a woman to be a fake witness to derail Harvey's case against his client. The case was weak to begin with and Harvey was just fishing for more evidence. When the scheme was revealed, the lawyer and the client have to give in completely or face possible criminal charges.
A judge gives a blatantly biased ruling against Harvey's client so he can extort Harvey into helping him discredit the judge's wife in their divorce proceedings.
During the episode Identity Crisis Louis makes mistakes that nearly derail the case.
Donna when she shreds an incriminating memo she apparently misplaced years ago, which was only located after Tanner sued Harvey for withholding evidence. This embarrassing and costly mistake turned into a criminal offense and gave Harvey's enemies the ammunition that could destroy his career. However, Donna did not remember the memo and overreacted to her perceived mistake. It turns out that it was forged and she had never seen it in the first place because it was planted in the case file years later. Which leads to...
Pearson Hardman generally. The file room is not kept locked and no security cameras monitor it.
Harvey's little wager in the season 2 finale ends up backfiring spectacularly.
I Have This Friend: In a flashback Harvey approaches Louis about deciphering some financials. Someone is embezzling at a law firm and "a friend" asked Harvey to find out who. Louis is happy to expose another firm's dirty secrets and does not realize that these are his own firm's financials. Louis notices right away there's a Fall Guy, something Harvey didn't his first time through the same information, but doesn't realize he is the "smuck".
Invoked after Mike wins his first motion before a judge.
Mike: The fat guy's name was Cordoza. Harvey: Clemenza. Mike: I knew that; I was just testing you. Harvey: I knew that you knew that I knew.
Daniel Hardman tracks down Harvey and Dana Scott this way in 2x15 'Normandy'.
Improbable Aiming Skills: On a shooting range, Louis is shown to be an extremely good marksman. All his shots are either headshots or a tight center of mass clustering.
Informed Ability: Somewhat, with Jessica. She definitely needs Harvey on her most important cases and would certainly be in a lot worse position without him. However, when push comes to shove, she at least has the one-up on Harvey himself. However, while she is very good at managing Harvey, she is horrible at managing the firm overall, and many of the firm's larger problems stem directly from the fact that she is busy playing chess with the partners and associates all the time. Ironically, she says Harvey is not forward-thinking enough to run a law firm. Yet she herself is forever under siege and needs Harvey to help her keep control.
Informed Judaism: The fact that Louis is Jewish is not brought up until season two, when he casually mentions that he is going to call his rabbi to brag about his promotion.
Mike's grandmother refers to Trevor as an anchor in Mike's life. A few episodes later, Harvey also refers to Trevor as an anchor in Mike's life, but in a negative sense: Trevor is a force pulling Mike down.
Considering Harvey's insistence that Mike let Trevor go because he was dragging Mike down, Harvey's refusal to testify against Cameron in Rules Of The Game with the response "He's my mentor" sounds like an Ironic Echo of Mike's "He is my oldest friend".
In She Knows, when Jessica wants to fire Mike because he doesn't have a law degree, Harvey says, "He goes, I go" in defense of Mike. In the season two summer finale, Jessica says, "If you go, I go" to Harvey, a variation on this.
Louis often has a point when he calls Jessica out on her favoritism for Harvey while ignoring Louis. Also, his Reason You Suck Speech to the associates.
Again for Louis during the trial run. Harvey chastises him for badgering Donna. Louis points out that he was simply playing the part that Tanner definitely would have taken. And that all of this was Harvey's fault to begin with.
Even Hardman gets this sometime, despite being the Big Bad. While it has been established that he is self-serving, Jessica and Harvey haven't exactly been saints while trying to fight him. He points out how their tactics to save Harvey and fight Hardman have put the firm in danger and that he really is trying to save it.
Louis treats Harold as a Chew Toy but we later discover that Harold can be grossly incompetent and his mistakes could have cost the firm millions if Louis did not scrutinize his every action and covered for him.
Jewish Complaining: When Louis calls his parents to tell them about his promotion to Senior Partner they do not seem to be very excited about it and instead complain that 'senior' implies that he is old and they do not really see what the difference between a Junior Partner and Senior Partner is.
Jewish Mother: Louis' mother wants to know when he will meet a nice girl and get married, and why he won't let her talk to his 'good friend' Harvey.
In one episode, Harvey tells his Corrupt Corporate Executive client that there are witnesses who can link her to six murders. She insists that they bribe the witnesses to not testify. Harvey points out that this is legally, ethically and strategically a bad idea but she refuses to listen to him. In the end they use Loophole Abuse to have the witnesses sue the corporation for civil damages and thus any settlement money they are given cannot be legally considered a bribe.
In another episode, Harvey fears that the opposing lawyer in a sexual harassment trial will try to tamper with a key witness, but at the last minute he realizes that the witness has been tampered with from the beginning. She is a fake and was never sexually harassed by the defendant as she had told Harvey. The opposing lawyer hired her to tell Harvey a bunch of lies, and then on the stand she would tell the truth, embarrass Harvey and torpedo his case.
On yet another occasion, Harvey suspects that a prosecutor in a murder trial is tampering with witnesses and encouraging them to perjure themselves. He has good reason for his suspicions as the prosecutor has a long history of tampering with witnesses and evidence. However, when Harvey confronts one of the witnesses, he realizes that the witness is actually telling the truth and (in a case of Poor Communication Kills) really thought that Harvey's client ordered the murders. When Harvey investigates the other witness, he discovers that the witness was tampered with, but the tampering was done by another lawyer in Harvey's firm who is trying to hide the fact that he is the one who ordered the murders.
Just Like Robin Hood: Invoked when a Soapbox Sadie redirects some of her father's corporation's funds to a company called "Loxleynote as in Robin of Loxley, LLC". Lampshaded by Mike, naturally.
Justified Criminal: In the premiere, Mike only agrees to act as a drug courier so he can pay for his grandmother's medical treatments. We later find out that he only agreed to help people cheat on the LSATs because he needed the money to pay for full time care for his grandmother.
Kick the Dog: Donna name drops this trope when Harvey has a bad day and takes it out on Mike.
Donna: "I don't think kicking the dog is going to help."
Large Ham: Befitting her formidable acting skills (both the character In-Universe and the actress who plays her), Donna is this on a regular basis, until she gets pushed over the edge later.
Love Triangle: Mike is torn between Jenny and Rachel, representing his old and new lives respectively.
And then between Rachel and Tessa.
And now we possibly have a new one, which won't be so easy to untangle, because both Scottie and Donna are equally wonderful characters in their own rights.
Magic Poker Equation: In "All In" Keith Hoyt goes all-in for over $3 million on a hand where he has an Ace-King full house. His opponent has an Ace high straight that becomes a royal flush when the last card turns out to be a ten of clubs. averted at the end of the episode when Harvey goes all-in on what turns out to be a junk hand. His opponent folds and is so flustered that he then loses all his chips within twenty minutes of playing. .
Mistaken Confession: Jessica gives Louis a chance to come clean and he confesses that he likes to sleep on her couch, drinks Harvey's liquor, steals another associate's candy bars and likes to walk barefoot in the library. She was actually talking about him stealing half a million dollars from the firm and his outburst makes her realize that he has been framed.
Morality Pet: Rachel begins to evolve into this for Louis during season 3. It helps that he had already respected her before working closely with her and that she was one of the few who treated him with such in return.
Both Harvey and Mike seem to be big film geeks, as nary an episode goes by without them making at least one reference to a movie. This becomes particularly useful in the season one finale, where some of the tactics used in Mississippi Burning are used to turn the two opposing criminals against each other.
As for the rest of the firm: Donna makes the occasional reference, Jessica Pearson can quote Top Gun right back at Harvey, and Rachel... well, the less said about Rachel, the better. Then there's Louis. He's decently knowledgeable as demonstrated with Mike but his general jerkishness means few want to play the game with him.
Mr. Fanservice / Ms. Fanservice: Obviously for the men. For the women, Donna, very much so. Granted, everyone else isn't exactly ugly but Donna is quite bouncy and almost always decked out in a low-cut dress or something else suitably revealing. Add to that the fact that she's perfectly willing to invoke Male Gaze to get what she wants.
RACHEL, AND HOW.
That said, compared to many shows, the characters are know for far more things than just fanservice. Which in turn, makes when they do some sort of fanservice, it's intentional and it's far more effective because the audience isn't accustomed to it.
Donna, who deliberately buys low fat so she can added whipped cream and sugar.
My Greatest Failure: The reason why Louis hates Harold with a passion is that training associates is what Louis feels he's been great at the firm. Every time he sees Harold it reminds him that he never got him trained right. The ironic thing is that Harold manages to one-up Louis when they confront each other, demonstrating both the excellence of Louis' training as well as attributes from Harvey by playing the man. Outside the non-elite of Pearson & whomever, this is rare occurrence. Louis only wins by hitting below the belt (going after Harold's career) which he backpedals on when this is pointed out to him by his Morality Pet.
Jessica's ex-husband shows up as a new client. Harvey is surprised to find out she used to be married and does not want to take the case because he does not think she can be objective. The guy has since remarried.
When an attorney arrives from England to negotiate a hotel chain merger, Harvey is surprised to discover that it is his old classmate and girlfriend from Harvard. They rekindle their romance only for him to discover that she is engaged and intends to go forward with the wedding.
Zoe Lawford for Harvey.
Mike reconnects with his childhood sweetheart who seems intent on restarting the relationship despite being married.
Nice Guy / Girl: Mike Ross and Zoe Lawford. The latter quits Pearson Hardman because she was tired of the backstabbing.
Whenever it seems that Louis is genuinely willing to bury the hatchet and try to help them, Mike and/or Harvey will do or say something that will offend him and push him further into Hardman's camp.
The fact that Donna allegedly filed an important memo without reading it is a big mistake, but is understandable and Harvey would be able to deal with it. However, she then goes and destroys the document. This puts Harvey in a poor position and he is unable to do anything when she is fired.
Harvey for the entirety of 2x16.
Nice to the Waiter: Donna uses this trope to find out how good her bosses are. She tells Jessica she has liked her for being nice to her and others lower than her, for example.
In a flashback we find out that back in college it was Trevor who got in trouble for selling answers to an exam. Mike provided Trevor with the answers and was just as guilty but the college had no evidence of his involvement. Trevor was quite willing to take the fall for all of it and Mike would have been in the clear. However, Mike could not live with himself if he let Trevor get expelled so he went to the dean and confessed. The dean then revealed that he lost his job as a result of the scandal and he took it out on Mike and not only expelled him but also sabotaged any chance Mike had of getting into Harvard.
When Donna references a certain date, Louis is panicked.
Harvey and Donna's pre-trial "thing."
There were other names on Pearson/Hardman before the series started and Jessica and Hardman worked together to remove them for the good of the firm. In a flashback we see the day before the coup and the next day Jessica is the new managing partner. We are not told how she and Hardman pulled it off and what allowed them to oust the old named partners.
A prank pulled on Louis that made him furious, that he believed Harvey pulled on him. It wasn't Harvey.
Noodle Implements: Harvey never starts a trial without doing a "thing" with Donna. The only details given are the involvement of a can opener and that it takes about 3 minutes.
Jessica has openly admitted that Harvey and Hardman are cut from the same cloth.
At the start of season 1, Harvey tells Mike "I have to put my own interests above yours. It's nothing personal.". In the latter half of season 2, Hardman tells Louis effectively the same thing about why he picked Louis to be the fall guy for his embezzling.
Jessica also admitted Mike was not so different from the best qualities in both her and Harvey. Though not to Mike's face.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Harvey creates the vibe of an Amoral Attorney as bait for crooks - they have a harder time predicting his moves, since they expect him to act just like them.
Off The Wagon: One of Harvey's clients is a recovering alcoholic and gambler. He agrees to be the keynote speaker at a conference held in an Atlantic City casino and during a toast in his honor he has a single drink of alcohol. By the time Harvey and Mike arrive he is sloshed and has put his company up as a stake.
One-Hour Work Week: Interesting example since it's a One-Hour Work Week that allows Mike to focus on his work. Basically, we learn during season 2 that Mike has been prioritizing Harvey's work (and Harvey shielding him from non-Harvey work/Louis). This goes to explain why Mike has so much time to focus on Harvey's cases (and his own) when every other associate appears swamped by Louis's demands.
In "Rules of the Game", Harvey hits a Rage Breaking Point when he's forced to choose between betraying his former mentor or possibly taking the fall himself. This leads to a Not so Above It All moment that has Donna, Mike, and even Louis visibly stunned.
Donna knows Harvey so well that she is able to notice tiny changes in his behavior then determine what the problem is. When he asks her to call a client that he has been dodging, she quickly notices that his tie is slightly crooked and that he is wearing a different shade suit than usual. She quickly deduces that Jessica knows Mike's secret and told Harvey to fire Mike.
After Jessica fired Donna, she became increasingly worried about Harvey's erratic and foolish actions.
When Louis discovers the Ballet dancer, now director of his own troupe, he idolizes is embezzling funds from the ballet he is stunned and cannot move. Rachel tells him to Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! and be the brilliant, mean, powerful lawyer she knows he is to fix this situation for the Ballet Troupe.
Harvey especially in the season 2 finale, and Jessica to an almost equally large extent.
Benjamin in Undefeated. Mike bets him he can list every number on a sheet of paper he looked over for less than a minute or he will give him a check for $10,000. Benjamin says that if Mike gets even one comma wrong he loses. Mike instantly replies that the document doesn't have any commas.
Harvey finding DanielHardman giving a speech to commemorate his return, showing genuine honesty about what he's done, meaning blackmail won't work on him.
Donna when she realizes that there really was an incriminating memo that was misplaced by the firm and that she was the one who allegedly misplaced it., and again after her Sherlock Scan reveals that Hardman promoted Louis to senior partner.
Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Part of the reason why Harvey Specter rose so quickly through the law firms ranks is because he is proficient in multiple areas of the law. His main specialty is mergers and tax law but he also spent a few years working as a criminal prosecutor specifically to get a solid background in criminal law. This is averted with most of the firm's other partners who specialize exclusively in certain areas of the law and can be very territorial when Harvey gets involved in a case that falls into their area of expertise. On the other hand, as part of their Training from Hell, the junior associates are supposed to work any case that is assigned to them no matter what areas of the law it touches on or how proficient they are in the subject matter.
The Omniscient: Donna knows pretty much everything that goes on in the office.
Donna: What's wrong? Rachel: I don't want to talk about it. Donna: Ah. Mike Ross. Rachel: How do you know? Donna: I'm Donna. ''I know.''
Operation Jealousy: Rachel asks Mike's Jerkass rival out on a double date with Mike and Jenny. Mike calls her out on her blatant attempt to make him jealous.
Out-of-Character Moment: Arguably, the series was kicked off by one. Harvey is known for making bold, out-of-the-box decisions, but committing a serious crime like by hiring a fake lawyer just so he gets a more interesting, better associate is a bit of a stretch.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Despite being smart, accomplished, beautiful, and having a spine to even stand against her father, Rachel simply doesn't measure up to Mike (legal prodigy /w photographic memory), Donna (the all-knowing), Louis (ruthlessly effective and financial wizard), Harvey (do I need to even begin?), and Jessica (one of the few capable of pulling one over on Harvey). Poor Rachel doesn't really have much going for her in the department of "extraordinary ridiculous superhuman craziness".
Papa Wolf: Harvey seems to have turned into one, despite his protestations to the contrary. In season two premiere he becomes fiercely protective of Mike, to the point where he throws his Plausible Deniability out the window to save Mike's job. This coming from the man who, twelve episodes earlier, had said: "I have to put my own interests above yours. It's nothing personal."
Hardman: Why are you doing this? Harvey: To protect my own.
Averted when Louis tries to guess Harvey's password. All the obvious answers fail.
Katrina's password is Prosecutor99
Pet the Dog: At first Louis bringing in his cat to work and having Harold take care of it seems just like another obnoxious move typical of him. Then we realize that he really does love the cat and is worried about its ailing health.
Photographic Memory: Mike, in the usual Hollywood version. It is suggested that Louis has one too, or at least, as regards numbers.
The end of the season two premiere would suggest that Jessica also has one.
"So that's how you did it. You beat him. Well I'm not Harvey. I don't need a laptop."
Jessica was wrong.
Platonic Life Partners: While Harvey is Donna's boss, he treats her as an equal. They have known each other for more than a decade and keep no secrets from each other. When Donna goes behind his back he is deeply hurt but merely thinking of being without her makes him forgive her instantly. While Donna has some romantic feelings toward Harvey, she will not act on them for fear of losing his friendship.
Signs point to this happening to Harvey in regards to Mike. When Donna points out all the work Mike usually does for Harvey along side the work Donna does for him, Harvey gets the same hangdog expression. Which prompts him to go to Mike's house to help him cope with his grandmother's death.
Also Jessica and Harvey.
as of the end of season 2, two of these are definitely on the ropes.
Playful Hacker: The hacker in "Identity Crisis" steals money from her dad's company, making her come off as a Cracker initially, but she actually turns out to be a pretty decent person. She stole the money because she hoped it would get her Dad's attention.
Poisonous Friend: Donna to Harvey, when he stubbornly refuses to testify against an old boss. She worked for him as well, and has no qualms turning over evidence of his illegal activities.
Promotion to Parent: Zoe Lawford's brother is dying. She has chosen to take up raising his daughter.
Punch Clock Antagonists: Discussed. As of late season 2, Harvey has written Louis off and become openly hostile, effectively driving him out of the firm. When Louis is talking to Mike about this, he references Sam sheepdog and Ralph E. Wolf punching in at the meadow and warring with one another all day, only to punch out and go have a drink together, and says that Harvey "stopped punching out." Of course, an earlier episode showed that Louis considered Harvey to be his best friend at Pearson Hardman, so it's clear that his understanding of their relationship is rather different than Harvey's is. In the beginning, at least, Harvey seems to think of him as a Worthy Opponent and an asset to the firm, but this didn't appear to extend to real friendship. All that flew off the rails during Hardman's takeover and its aftermath in season 2.
That said, it's evident that the (lack of) history between Mike and Louis means that the two have a more civil relationship than Harvey and Louis, if only because they're more capable of talking to each other without being hostile.
Reality Ensues: Arguably, the whole series. Hiring a guy without a law degree sounds like a wacky hijink, but it was a massively stupid move, and it comes back to bite everyone involved again and again.
Jessica and Harvey give Mike one for his lack of spine when he chose to not "break" Rachel in the mock trial and lost the case as a result.
Louis delivers one to the first years in the "bullpen" telling them how their whiny attitudes, dislike of pulling all-nighters, and other complaints aren't helping them. He could do their job many times better than any of them and not give one complaint about it. Why? Because doing this grunt work is what will help make them better lawyers. If they don't believe him, he will write them the best letter of recommendation and they can look elsewhere. It's their choice.
Reformed, but Rejected: Well, Louis certainly wants to believe he's this. The other characters are quick to point out that he hasn't completely put his dickish tendencies behind him. When Louis really proves himself and (with some prodding) acts truly selfless, the other characters begin to come around.
Harvey dismisses Mike's worries that Louis might find out the truth about Mike never attending law school. He states that Louis lacks the imagination to even consider doing something outrageous like that himself, so he would never think that someone else would be audacious enough to try it.
Mike walks into a partners-only meeting and presents them with a signed document that proves that Hardman defrauded the firm once again. He fails to mention that the signature on the document does not belong to a former client. Mike did not want to break the law by falsifying a signature so he simply signed his own name on the document. Harvey and Jessica only needed something to get Hardman to admit what he did. Once that happened, the document became irrelevant.
In the pilot, a CEO risks scuttling a major merger just so he can humiliate the other company's CEO even more. After Harvey browbeats him into backing down, the CEO fires the firm the next day even though they just helped him make millions.
Louis can't seem to stop himself from screwing with Harvey even though by doing nothing he would have Harvey owe him a big personal favour.
Louis lashes out at Harvey for taking all the credit in Identity Crisis because it is the type of thing Louis would have done.
Right-Hand Cat: Bruno, to Louis - that cat is spoiled. To prove the universe despises Louis, the cat ends up being put to sleep due to an incurable stomach problem.
Rock Bottom: Louis hits this mid-season two in no small part because of Hardman and Harvey. But it's also this that causes him to turn his professional and personal life around. He's still kind of a dick as Harvey might say but he's at least on the side of Good and various events have even made him a lot more sympathetic and likeable.
Running Gag: Mike arriving late on his bike and being accosted by Harvey just as he arrives outside, and his general abuse of Mike for being a cyclist. Also the criticisms of Mike's attire.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Surprisingly, Harvey. He has very strong rules about personal conduct as a lawyer and he won't compromise himself to play office politics, even when Jessica wants him to do the bidding of another Senior Partner. Above all, Harvey won't betray his clients and lie to them, and he expects them not to lie in return. This also applies to Mike.
This and Honor Before Reason comes back to bite him (at least internally) in "Blind-sided". A client's son ends up killing someone while driving. The opposing ADA takes his deal only if he hires her at Pearson Hardman. Plus, he later finds out that the son who he thought was innocent was actually stoned at the time. But by then, he's already hired the ADA. He's clearly not happy with the fact that he took a bribe to save someone who was irresponsibly guilty (more so because he got Mike involved). This scene plays out entirely in the reflection of his office window with Donna appearing over his shoulder.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Zoe Lawford quit Pearson Hardman because she had enough of all the backstabbing and lies, and couldn't watch the man she cared about turn into an ambition-driven Jerkass
Harvey and Donna are both privy to the knowledge that Mike didn't attend Harvard, or indeed any law school. Rachel is also a half-a-Secret Keeper, she knows Mike took LSATs for people but not that he lied about getting a law degree. His inability to tell her the other secret is what leads to them breaking up in early season 2. And then there's Trevor. And now, thanks to Trevor, there's Jessica. And then Rachel learns too. And it is unforgettable.
Harvey is willing to go to great lengths to help Keith Hoyt because Keith is a friend who has kept quiet about something in Harvey's past for many years.
When Harvey was 16 he found out that his mother was cheating on his father. He did not tell anyone because the truth would have devastated his father.
Selfish Good: Jessica, with the emphasis on the selfish. While she may have a nice moment here or there, push her hard enough and the good goes away in a hurry.
Harvey chides Mike for his cheap suit, and sends Mike to a tailor. Mike instead takes six good suits from Trevor in payment for the drugs.
She Cleans Up Nicely: Unequivocally Rachel, and Jessica is also up there. There was also a deleted scene (a photo of it was released) with Donna and Scottie talking, and both of them are of course, gorgeous.
Mike in the first episode, when he figures out that the hotel bellboy is a cop.
Donna in the season two premiere. A slight change in Harvey's behavior and him wearing a different color suit is all she needs to figure out that Jessica knows that Mike did not go to Harvard.
Donna to Louis in "Asterisk" where she notices that Louis is extremely happy about something he does not want to talk about. She notices that he is wearing a different type of suit, asks him what kind of suit it is and realizes that Louis has been promoted to senior partner. It's the suit Louis specifically bought to wear after being promoted.
Donna with Rachel in "Normandy" with Harvard's decision. Rachel's rejected.
Over the course of the first three seasons, this has become one of her primary talents.
She's Back: Donna's triumphant return to Pearson Hardman. Replete with a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when she tells her metrosexual replacement to hit the bricks, which she requested as a condition of her return.
She's Got Legs: there's a deleted scene of Donna at the party in 2x16. Take a look.◊ Plus Rachel. Jessica can qualify from time to time also.
In the pilot, Harvey tells Mike "I wouldn’t move your things into Wayne Manor just yet."
In season 3, Louis explicitly makes this reference by noting that Mike is Harvey's Robin. He also takes it a step further by noting that Batman needs Robin to balance him out, which in recent years has been a major character point in the comics.
When Mike tours the Harvard campus in the pilot, he hijacks a freshman's ID tag by telling him that Dean Wormer needs to see him.
Harvey is a big fan of Captain Kirk and names the The Kobayashi Maru scenario when giving Mike advice.
Harvey is also a fan of Top Gun and does a Stallone impression. Suffice to say that while Harvey gives the impression of a cultured upper-class suit, he's not snobby or picky about what he likes, especially if it helps with clients.
In Dog FightMike and Harvey rip a number of themes directly from the plot of Mississippi Burning. Since they are both movie buffs, it works.
Mike: We have an IT department? Donna: Well, the computers don’t run themselves. At least ‘til Skynet goes active.
Sssssnake Talk: Perhaps not snake talk per se but Daniel Hardman has a certain soft spoken conniving way of talking that makes him seem very sinister and plotting.
That's just sort of David Costabile's thing. Every role he's played sounds like that, regardless of morality.
Stalker with a Crush: Louis had a somewhat creepy, pathetic crush on his hot superior, Monica Eaton. He apparentally always ate lunch at the same place she did and asked her out daily. She admitted at the time that this didn't really bother her, but it still bites him in the butt when she later claims sexual harassment.
Start of Darkness: "Rewind" shows us how Mike started taking LSATs for other people, Trevor became a full time drug dealer and Harvey blackmails Hardman into resigning. Jessica was also much more trusting and forgiving before Hardman's betrayal turned her into a ruthless and manipulative Managing Partner. Interestingly, only Trevor really developed into an actual villian (hullo, Trevor.)
He gives associates like Mike the "grunt work" in order to make them better lawyers, not just to antagonize them.
During Discovery, despite his tendency to be a toughboss, the work he has Mike do turns out to be extremely useful, giving Mike a chance to see how competent Louis really is and how much he could learn from him.
He may be motivated honestly by what's good for the firm. Jessica states in "Tricks of the Trade" that Louis "takes pride in [his] work". See "The Reason You Suck" Speech for when he is pushed by the whiny attitudes of the first years.
Harvey. He won't give Mike any slack with Mike's lack of knowledge regarding legal particulars, but he will also cover for him, as shown when Mike messes up on paperwork and the client is freaking out in "Errors and Omissions."
Apparently Jessica was one to Harvey when he was the newbie, as she notes that Harvey has used the same lines with Mike that she used with him.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Harvey's Embarrassing Cover Up when Jessica over hears them discussing a "secret" is that Mike is a virgin. When Mike flees Louis' office, Louis considers for a second and says, "he's probably still a virgin."
Also, Jessica and Harvey both make the same joke about redundant departments.
Suspicious Spending: Louis starts spending a lot of money just as Jessica and Harvey realize that someone is embezzling. Louis was being framed and he had so much money to spend because he is very good at handling his finances.
Take a Third Option: Harvey berates Mike for not taking a third option when Louis suggested he take drugs to relate to a future client better. He said you call their bluff, take the gun and shoot it back at them, act like they don't have a gun et cetera.
During season two, we see that it goes all the way up to Jessica. When the firm is forced to fire her, Jessica does it in person. It goes to show the level of respect Donna wields when the top dog of the firm does that as opposed to anything else.
Tempting Fate: One of Harvey's clients is a recovering alcoholic and gambling addict who has been clean for five years. He is invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference held in an Atlantic City casino and he accepts. Things quickly go bad. Mike lampshades the fact that Harvey of all should have known how bad of an idea that was.
Took a Level in Badass: In the season two premiere Mike has more confidence than at the beginning of the series and is willing to stand up for himself when threatened. When a women he tried to help backstabs him in a lawsuit, he turns the tables on her and forces her to accept a settlement. He later calls out Trevor on his betrayal and points out that he knows so much about Trevor that he could make his life hell if he wanted.
Mike really took it a notch further in Sucker Punch: he schooled and called out Louis, Donna and Jessica. Even Harvey!
Over the years, Trevor has talked Mike into a number of illegal schemes that derailed Mike's life and dreams of attending law school. ** In the pilot, he talks Mike into doing a drug deal that almost gets Mike arrested and thrown in prison.
Mike's grandmother tells him to drop the bum.
Harvey even refers to Trevor in the exact same way in a later episode.
Training from Hell: The firm's approach to training first year associates is to swamp them with work and make them work ungodly hours. In return the associates are given the chance to work on important cases and gain the experience needed to become top-notch lawyers. Both Harvey and Louis are products of this systems.
True Companions: By the end of the middle of the second season Mike, Harvey, and Donna are this. And after Mike saved Jessica's and Harvey's places in the firm and ousted Hardman (See Refuge in Audacity for more details) Jessica has come to terms with Mike's legal issues. One of the final scenes in the episode is all of them enjoying a celebratory drink in Harvey's office.
Truth in Television: in all of the season two cast interviews, every single cast member talks about the chemistry and closeness among all of them - how rare it is to have that in a group, how they all realize how fortunate it is to be on a successful project, and so on.
By the actual end of Season 2, the companionship is...on the rocks...to say the least.
Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Not a strictly straight example, but in "I Want You To Want Me", a number of conversations and situations between Harvey and Jessica are repeated (with some statements repeated word for word) between Mike and Rachel. Part of it is showing how much like Harvey Mike has become, part of it is showing how much of the drama is repeating across multiple situations.
Played for Laughs on at least two other occasions with Mike and Jessica - once while Mike is stoned on pot, repeatedly pressing the CALL button for the elevator to hear it "ding" without realising it had already arrived.
Undercover as Lovers: Mike and Rachel in "Dirty Little Secrets," while scoping out an apartment building. Rachel tells Mike not to touch her so much.
Undying Loyalty: Harvey is very loyal to the firm and to Jessica. So is Louis towards the firm, for all his deceptions, lies, bullying, backstabbing actions towards Harvey.
Harvey is also shown to be extremely loyal to his old boss at the DA's office even though the guy did not deserve it
Harvey is also extremely loyal to his clients if he thinks they deserve it. When a CEO died who was a longtime client and friend of Harvey's, he risked his job and reputation to preserve the man's vision and legacy against the actions of the greedy replacement CEO.
Donna is extremely loyal to Harvey and will do anything she can to protect him. By proxy, she's a bit more protective and helpful towards Mike than to anyone else not named Harvey.
The Unfair Sex: In the first episode of the second season Jenny calls out Mike for being kissed by Rachel. He informs her that he did not kiss her and he still chose to be with Jenny, who pretty much acts like he cheated on her. Mike then calls Jenny out for kissing him while she was still dating Trevor (to which she was the one that did cheat), which is quickly rebuffed.
The guy with the glasses in the first episode who needs Mike to take his exams for him. Circumstances of the deal notwithstanding (and Mike tries to explain why they were unreasonable and illogical), the payment was decidedly short.
Trevor, Mike's "friend".
Mike is this himself from time to time. Harvey routinely puts his entire career on the line defending him.
UST: Implied between Mike and Jenny, and then later, with Rachel.
Weak-Willed: After the mock trial in the first season Mike Ross is now viewed as weak willed by Jessica, Harvey and the other partners after he failed to push a witness hard enough to win the case.
Weaksauce Weakness: Louis will not give in for anyone or anything. Except American Ballet Theatre tickets.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: In a flashback we see that Harvey's push to become a partner in the firm was motivated in large part by a desire to make his father proud. His father dies the day before the promotion becomes official and Harvey never had a chance to tell him.
Rachel can be partly said to be driven by this, though there's more to it than that.
Wham Line: "Hello Miss Jessica Pearson, I am a friend of Mike Ross's. My name is Trevor Evans, and there's something about him that Harvey hasn't told you about."
"It's your grandma. She passed away."
Wham Episode: Donna gets fired for having destroyed the memorandum in the 5th episode of the second season.
2x07. The entire episode was one wham moment after another.
2x16 outdoes every one of them in this troper's opinion.
Mike does not take it well when he realises Harvey used him as a pawn against Hardman. Mike thought that he was helping Harvey and Hardman settle a union dispute but instead Harvey blackmailed the opposition into giving up their demands. Harvey looked strong, undermined Hardman and made Mike look like a backstabber.
That said, it was also a case of hurting Mike in order to save him. By painting Mike as a backstabber and pawn, Harvey hoped that should he and Jessica lose to Daniel, Mike would be spared by Daniel due to him seeing Mike as a useful pawn.
After his "The Reason You Suck" Speech above, Louis is complimented by Jessica. Louis turns this around on Jessica saying that he would at least give the first years a chance to grow beyond their station while Jessica has made it clear she doesn't think much of Louis making Senior Partner.
Harvey becomes absolutely furious at Donna after she admits to covering up fraud accusation against Harvey by destroying the evidence. Harvey points out that not only has she made the situation worse, she committed an actual crime.
The whole episode of Sucker Punch was one long Take That to Harvey.
Jessica Pearson getting a classmate drunk and leaving her passed out in the classroom back when they were both studying law.
War is especially this to Harvey and Jessica, with Mike caught in the crossfire. Also serves as this to Mike, by way of Rachel.
Harvey is disliked by all the department heads in the firm. He does not play office politics so it never really bothered him but it causes major problems for Jessica who needs their votes in her fight against Hardman.
After Mike and Harvey reveal that Hardman was behind the lawsuit that cost the firm $3 million he loses all support from the senior partners and the vote to fire him is unanimous.