CBS legal drama series, 2009 to present, exec produced by Ridley Scott and starring Julianna Margulies, currently in its fifth season and both a Golden Globe and Emmy winner.Alicia Florrick has a bit of a problem on her hands. Her husband was the former State's Attorney of Cook County, Illinois, until he got caught being Eliot Spitzer/Clinton, and resigned. Then he got sent to prison for corruption.A trained lawyer, she resumes her practice and ends up running the pro bono cases. Of course, she's a defence lawyer and all the prosecutors know her- including the new State's Attorney, who may have shopped her husband to the authorities.Plus her husband is trying to clear his name and she's not sure whether she wants to be with him any more.
This show contains examples of:
Aborted Arc: The first season brought up revelations that Glenn Childs has tapped the Florricks' phones and done other illegal things in a grab for power, and implied the feds were moving in to investigate. This was quickly forgotten as soon as the election arc started and Wendy Scott Carr taking over as the primary antagonist.
Kalinda's husband was supposed to be around longer, but negative fan reaction led to it being (mostly) wrapped up sooner.
The show takes place in Cook County, Chicago, the same county as Cook County General Hospital, the setting of ER, where Julianna Margulies played Nurse Carol Hathaway.
Adult Fear: When Alicia can't find Grace? And realizes that her daughter called her twelve times? And her daughter isn't answering her phone? And one of the messages has a man telling her daughter to get in the car in the background? God, yes. Terrifying.
Affably Evil: Louis Canning is a soft-spoken very likable guy who is played by Michael J. Fox of all people. Yet he's also an attorney who primarily works in getting favorable deals for shady corporations and often uses quite unethical tactics to do so, along with playing on his disability to gain sympathy with the jury. He then leaves it at the office every night to go home to his loving family.
Neil Gross would also qualify, a casual, laid-back hoodie wearing software company executive who would qualify as a Cool Old Guy in most circumstances, but is also someone so concerned with profits he's willing to assist authoritarian regimes such as China and Syria in arresting protesters and dissidents.
Lemond Bishop. He's a brutal drug lord, but damn he is one well dressed, suave, charming guy.
Amoral Attorney: As the trope's page says, the majority of all lawyers are amoral where their clients' best interests are concerned. The closest people to the definition of the trope would be Glenn Childs and Patti Nyholm.
Anti-Hero: Will and Peter waver between Type II and Type III, with Kalinda being a clear Type III. Alicia occasionally enters Type II territory.
Artistic License: In a rather awkward and contrived manner, with Zack's (ex-)girlfriend Nisa. Initially it's only her skin color that's a topic of debate (because of the possible repercussions for Peter's campaign), but later she is mentioned to be the daughter of a Hamas sympathizing Muslim preacher, which basically rolls three separate unlikely scenarios into one. A girl not wearing a scarf? Progressively more unlikely the more conservative the family gets. A girl allowed to have a boyfriend before marriage? Progressively more unlikely the more conservative the family gets. A girl allowed to have a unbeliever as boyfriend? Unlikely even for moderately religious families. All of the above at once, with the father in question being the aforementioned Hamas sympathizing preacher? You must be joking, even if the boyfriend is the son of the district attorney of Illinois.
Patti Nyholm basically tries to put on this front, as she will often antagonize Alicia and Will with a smile, often after showing off one of her kids to judges/witnesses in order to gain sympathy points.
Blatant Lies: Kalinda is trying to establish the trust of somebody she thinks is a hacker. He points to the two federal agents sulking un-subtly over her shoulder.
Nancy Crozier (the disarmingly ditzy acting yet sharp and savvy blonde who returns in season 2), Stern, Ryan Alprin (from Unorthodox) and Elsbeth Tascioni are probably the best and most literal examples.
Andrew Wylie is a bunny-ears investigator; he's rarely seen without his small children in tow.
And bunny-ears judges too. You'd be hard-pressed to find a judge without a quirk or three on this show. Just for starters there was the guest judge from a rural county down south who preferred a more informal atmosphere, and another who was doing day trading in the middle of a meeting with counsel.
But Not Too Bi: Kalinda is seen more often with male lovers, though the balance is being restored.
Cloudcuckoolander: Many of the quirky recurring characters, but Elsbeth Tascioni stands out.
Do you hear that too?
So much so she eventually fails a psych exam, which probably goes against how psychology is structured.
The Cynic: Many people and often, but David Lee most of all.
Deadpan Snarker: So very many. Most of the lawyers and a lot of the judges, even the Indian shopkeeper in episode 6 of season 1, although special recognition should go to David Lee.
Disregard That Statement: Used by many characters, though they usually withdraw their statement as soon as the other side objects.
Distracted by the Sexy: In "Goliath and David," Alicia wears a certain dress to court: The dress she (briefly) wore during Their First Time with Will. This causes Will, her opponent in the case, to have rather intense Flashbacks while a showrunner is talking about the Zeitgeist of art.
Dramatic Irony: In the opening of "Hitting the Fan", a potential new publicist for Lockhart Gardner is talking to Will, selling that she'll play up the firm's stability if she's hired, comparing them favorably to other firms plagued with in-fighitng. Given what happens in the rest of the episode, this ends up being unintentionally funny and wrong.
Elevator Going Down: At the end of the season 2 finale, Will and Alicia almost casually decide to resolve their WTWT and take a room at a hotel. Their elevator ride to the presidential suite starts off as an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment and gradually turns into this with every stop.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: "Waiting for the Knock" has one of the firm's biggest clients, drug dealer Lemond Bishop, under threat of arrest by the FBI, but he's more worried about what happens to his son if he goes to prison than prison itself.
Cary and Alicia do this at the end of Season 4 when they decide to leave Lockhart/Gardner and form a new firm with the other 4 year lawyers.
A Fool for a Client: Stern tries to defend himself "through Alicia" from a DUI charge until she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Fox News Liberal: Surprisingly averted. Kurt is an unabashed conservative who is an open admirer of Sarah Palin, something in stark contrast to the rest of the cast all implied or outright stated to be liberal Democrats. The show keeps sympathy on his side by making him still a rather open minded guy who can get along with Diane, and very principled to the point where he won't give testimony in support of a client he believes to be guilty no matter how much he's paid.
Friendship Moment: often and between many characters, but specifically Kalinda/Alicia and Diane/Will. Sometimes also Kalinda/Will and more recently Alicia/Cary.
Episode 12 of the fourth season was one big friendship moment between Elsbeth and the people of Lockhart/Gardner.
Funny Background Event: One scene alternates between Will dealing with a blowhard political pundit in the conference room and Alicia dealing with a divorce case across the hall. When the focus is on Alicia, you can still hear the pundit railing and carrying on in the background.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The episode title, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot." The episode involved the military, who use those words to spell out initials over the radio. WTF, or . . .
The show also frequently uses a trick where they present the punchline to a dirty joke first, so the innuendo only becomes clear later in the episode - like in "Anatomy of a Joke", where Alicia gets a prank call from someone asking her if she likes Brazilian food. Turns out there's a rumour going around that her husband has a Brazil-shaped birthmark on his penis.
Grey and Gray Morality: Frequently. Alicia generally is depicted most favorably, because she's the main character, but she's a classic Anti-Hero, not above lying or being underhanded to get what she wants. A great example is episode five, Season 5 "Hitting the Fan." when Will finds out Alicia and Cary are leaving the firm and taking clients with them. Things get rough, but its hard to say that anyone is clearly in the wrong.
Hollywood Atheist: Averted for Alicia, who while mentioning she's an atheist in one episode, isn't otherwise shown to be a worse person for it. In fact, although her daughter Grace is a born-again Christian, these different beliefs never affect their relationship. Overall it's refreshing to see it treated in this manner instead of being a damaging character flaw.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: You can tell which season an episode is from by how many words are in the title (all season one episodes have one-word titles, those from season two have two-word titles and so on).
For some reason, they're going back to three-word titles for the fifth season.
Cary: I know a lot of people who weren’t anything until they met Kalinda.
Informed Ability: Eli Gold is supposedly "the best" political manager in the business, but in early season 2 he misses huge problems or plays into a lot of serious screw-ups.
In the Back: There's a lot of this. Not least in Lockhart and Gardner.
I Warned You: David Lee plays this up a bit in episode five, season five when Cary and Alicia leaving the firm and taking clients is revealed.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Peter, for all his adultery, not to mention his sleaziness and unethical campaigning, whenever needed always does the right thing. Perhaps the best example being in "Closing Arguments" where it's revealed that he was the anonymous leak of the evidence to Lockhart & Gardner that allowed them to exonerate the accused judge killer.
Inverted in the second episode, where a stripper files a civil action against her rapist after the State Attorney decides not to prosecute. Alicia loses the case after the DNA evidence is found to be cross-contaminated. However, just as the rapist leaves the court, he's arrested for her rape, as non-contaminated DNA evidence has been found.
In season two, a murderer is found to have been insane while committing the act, and sane now, meaning he's free to go. However, the trial reveals that he committed another murder, which he's promptly arrested for.
In season five episode "Everything Is Ending" Alicia and company are trying to stop the execution of a man they believe innocent. While they do show evidence that he might be innocent, the judge orders the execution to continue. The warden of the prison, needing to get the execution done quickly, has the drugs for the lethal injection shipped in by the US mail. Will calls the DEA on this as the drugs were transported over state lines without proper documentation. They show up in time to stop the execution. The state decides to not try to kill him a third time (the first attempt was stopped because it was taking over 2 hours to prepare him because his veins were badly damaged by drug use).
Loads and Loads of Characters: A mild case. The third season premiere checks in with Alicia and seven other regular characters (Diane, Eli, Grace, Zach, Cary, Peter, Kalinda) before the opening titles, making Will noticeable by his absence—he shows up right after the titles, before the credits. Those are all regulars, never mind recurring characters and the primaries in cases of the week.
Love Triangle: Peter/Alicia/Will. The Cliff Hanger ending of the first season basically has Alicia deciding between them - Does she join her husband on stage where he's announcing his attempt to get his elected position back or take a call from Will.
And during the second season finale, she and Will have sex in a hotel room.
Mama Bear: Messing with Alicia's children is one guaranteed way to get her after you with the full brunt of her legal skills, as the cop and DA in "I Fought The Law" learned.
Also Jackie, who is incredibly protective of Peter.
Meaningful Funeral: Averted with Stern's. Diane, Will and Alicia just go to try and take his clients.
Mistaken for Racist: One judge sentences Alicia's black, juvenile client to a stricter sentence than necessary, despite an agreement; time in a boys home. The firm figures he's racist, and reconsiders after Alicia walks into his office and sees photos of him with people like Barack Obama. Turns out he has gambling debts, and his friend runs the boys' home and is giving him kickbacks from the state's stipend. That last part is Very Loosely Based on a True Story.
No Party Given: Averted, just about every major character is stated to be a Democrat and the Democratic National Committee is even shown getting involved. Of course getting elected in Cook County as anything other than a Democrat is virtually impossible.
Pet the Dog: David Lee, who usually plays the part of a slimy Smug Snake (Diane: "You hate people!"), gets very pissed when Eli Gold involves Caitlin, his niece, in their rivalry. Something along the lines of "She is everything that is bright and good in this world, and you do not get to take that away!"
Platonic Life Partners: Diane and Will emobdy this trope. For reference, the following exchanges during platonic slow dancing.
To lesser extent, Sarah Silverman is a host of Ashley Madison-esque site.
Punch Clock Villain: Louis Canning makes his money defending large corporations from clearly deserved lawsuits, and makes quite morally dubious use of his neurological disorder to sway the jury's sympathy, or even distract them from damaging testimony. But outside the courtroom, he's a perfectly nice guy and a devoted family man. He even justifies his defense of these companies by pointing out that the lawsuits that firms like Lockhart/Gardner pursue against them is a contributor in the price increases of all their products, including those he uses to help treat his chronic illness.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Will gives Alicia a particularly furious one after he finds out she and Cary are leaving with the other 4th years.
Recurring Character: Chris Noth as Peter Florrick. He isn't in every episode, but his character has a fairly large presence on the show.
Ripped from the Headlines: One episode features an internet billionaire who has had a film made about him which he thinks is defamatory, making him look like a jerk and implying he made his website in order to Get The Girl. Blowing this paper-thin No Celebrities Were Harmed right out of the water, he's described on introduction as a "Mark Zuckerberg wannabe".
The case in 'Goliath And David' is the Jonathan Coulton vs. Glee conflict about Coulton's 'Baby Got Back' arrangement if it ever went to court. Needless to say, the show is not on Ryan Murphy's side.
Seamless Spontaneous Lie: When Peter leaves the apartment, triggering the electronic monitoring, the whole family gets their story straight fast.
She Is All Grown Up: Alicia's daughter Grace is starting to run into this trope in season 5. An attractive young woman, she starts dressing a little differently, and getting visible attention from men-often olden men. Alicia's Mama Bear traits cause her to pick up on things that are maybe innocent, maybe not. Grace gets looks from Cary in one episode and then is talking to another attractive young man (but still much older than her) at the house, and Alicia is clearly disapproving.
Shoo Out the New Guy : Kalinda's ex-husband Nick. He returns to...Canada after ordering his attorney to be beaten up and engages in a long series of nonsensical overly dramatic actions to the ire of the viewership.
Shout-Out: The fourth episode of season four is titled "Don't Haze Me Bro".
In the 18th episode of season two Grace and Zach quote Llamas with Hats while playing air hockey. Alicia complains about them making references she doesn't understand.
There was also the episode with the glee club director tries to help a political campaign only to harm it.
In one episode, Zach and Grace have gone off to Peter's house for the weekend, and Alicia is so bored she ends up watching a show about the 'true story of Joan of Arc' which we only hear (thank God for that), and which later has a sex scene between Joan of Arc and some guy (again, only heard), a clear Take That to Showtime historical dramas such as The Tudors or The Borgias.
Towards the end of "Live From Damascus", Will, about to serve a six month suspension from the bar, comments that he might use the time to write a Rock Opera, as "There hasn't been a good one since The Wall."
That Was Objectionable: Lawyers yelling objection when a question hasn't even been asked yet. Used intentionally by Alicia to aggravate Stern's dementia and make him lose focus.
There Are No Therapists: Robert and Michelle King said in a recent New York Times article that Alicia seeing a therapist wouldn't be good dramatically.
Robert King: “We knew that sending Alicia into therapy and making everyone psychologically healthy would be deadly for the show, because it’s better when they can’t move on from the relationship.”
Tranquil Fury: Will Gardner, briefly, in the beginning of episode 5, season 5 after he finds out Cary and Alicia are leaving the firm and taking clients. He walks in to her office, and they speak, with barely contained rage in Will's words until he lets it loose and throws everything off her desk, and their exchange gets more heated.
Twofer Token Minority: Played for laughs in-universe, when Cary is asked to name the other associates he's leaving with. He immediately names the associates who fall under as many minority headings as possible, just to make it impossible to fire them.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Alicia and Will. To the point where he says that they have "always had bad timing." Resolved as the closer of season two.
And as of mid-Season 3, their breakup returns the underlying tension to their friendly relationship.
Villain Decay: Glenn Childs went from rather cunning and vicious in season one to fairly incompetent and even approaching Jerkass Woobie status in season two.
Viral Marketing: An In-Universe example in "Red Team, Blue Team". An energy drink company got sued in the death of a teen, and it turned out she'd started buying the drink to lose weight after finding viral marketing posts on a web forum for anorexics.
We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Averted. The fact that much of the blackmail material used by Childs against the Florricks is, in fact, shopped is a minor plot point. The only problem is that not all of it is fake.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Jerry Breslow. While his intentions (overturning the Defense of Marriage Act) are noble, his methods are anything but ( deliberately tanking a case to send an innocent gay man to prison, so he can appeal the case to the Supreme Court)
Written-In Infirmity: Michael J. Fox plays a lawyer with a neurological disorder (not Fox's own Parkinson's, but close enough).