Follow TV Tropes


Series / Suits

Go To

"If you start behind the eight ball, you'll never get in front."
Harvey Specter, giving Mike Ross a little advice

Suits is a legal dramedy series created by Aaron Korsh and starring Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht. It debuted on USA Network on June 23, 2011 with a 90-minute premiere episode. Its ninth and final season aired in 2019.

Mike Ross (Adams) is a Brilliant, but Lazy college dropout with an eidetic memory that allowed him to pass the bar exam without attending law school. A series of circumstances leads Ross into a job interview with Harvey Specter (Macht), one of Manhattan's best lawyers. Despite his lack of credentials in terms of education and practice, his knowledge of the law impresses Harvey enough to hire him 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. It also contains probably the first instance of the word "shit" appearing uncensored on USA since the cancellation of Touching Evil.

The show's final season began airing alongside a short-lived Spin-Off series called Pearson which follows one of the show's characters, lawyer Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), as she enters the world of Chicago politics.

The show has a Japanese and South Korean remake.

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. 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.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • At the start of "Dirty Little Secrets" Mike worries that Louis knows about his dirty little secret, and Harvey jokingly comments "You're Canadian?", which gets a sarcastic laugh out of Mike. Patrick J. Adams, the actor who plays him, is Canadian.
    • The name "Specter" for Harvey is a subtle nod to Gabriel Macht's role as The Spirit.
    • Jacinda Barrett being cast as Zoe, one of Harvey's old flames. She and Gabriel Macht are married.
    • Gina Torres says "Welcome back, Zoe", having played Zoe Washburne on Firefly and Serenity.
    • Rachel is both half-black and a foodie, both nods to Meghan Markle.
    • Both of Troian Bellisario's appearances in the show revolve around Mike lying. Her most famous role is the show Pretty Little Liars. For bonus points, she plays an ex of Mike's, and engaged to Patrick J Adams, Mike's actor.
    • Harvey's Broken Pedestal reaction to professor Girard's acceptance of a bribe takes a whole new turn when you consider that Girard is played by Gabriel Macht's father.
    • The Season 9 episode, "Whatever It Takes", saw the return of Brian. Brian is played by Jake Epstein, who originally starred on Series/Degrassi, whose theme song was "Whatever It Takes".
  • Alliterative Name: Louis Litt, Travis Tanner, Sheila Sazs.
  • All Up to You: When the vote for Managing Partner is cast, Louis is effectively able to choose who will win as he has the deciding vote.
  • Alma Mater Song: Mike nearly exposes himself when he can't recite the Harvard one.
  • Almighty Janitor: Donna is an Omniscient Secretary. She's exceptional at her job, partly because she knows her coworkers better than they know themselves.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The ending theme for the Japanese version of the show is "SOILOGIC" by the band SOIL & "PIMP" SESSIONS.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
    • 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.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Louis Litt, most definitely. Not anymore. He outright makes clear he is not attracted to men when he suspects someone is attracted to him.
    • Harvey implies that he tried to sleep with Ted Phillips.
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • Harvey. He will often use questionable and underhanded tactics to win a case or close a deal, but he will also go out of his way to help out an innocent person even if it jeopardizes the case. His 'crusades' are usually motivated by his ego: he is showing off what a great lawyer he is. However, he seems able to sacrifice his ego if the case is really important.
    • Louis, when he is trying to show he is a better lawyer than Harvey (i.e. almost always).
    • Travis Tanner uses tactics that even Harvey or Louis consider too underhanded.
  • And a Diet Coke: Donna's coffee order:
    Mike: I don't get that. You get a skim milk latte, and then you put whipped cream and sugar in it.
    Donna: Because I get skimmed milk, I can put whipped cream and sugar in it.
  • And Starring: "and Gina Torres".
  • 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.
    • Also, in a roundabout way, Scottie to Harvey.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Louis Litt, who is roughly a Type II.
      • 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.
  • Artistic License – Law: New York State allows persons who are "reading the law" to take the bar exam. "Reading the law" means that rather than attending law school, the applicant has instead studied under a judge or practicing attorney for an extended period of time. In-universe, Mike's practical experience at Pearson-Hardman would probably qualify him under the "reading the law" exception. However, New York State requires that such persons have completed at least one year of law school study (Rule 520.4 for the Admission of Attorneys). This would disqualify Mike from being allowed to take the bar exam without being able to provide proof of that year of study. Given this, Mike's assertion in the pilot episode that he had, in fact, already passed the bar exam is likely a reference to his having taken and passed it as part of his illegal side-business of taking exams for other people.
    • Also, passing the bar examination is not the only requirement for acceptance into a state's bar association:
      • With the exceptions of Maryland, Puerto Rico, and Wisconsin, admission to the bar is contingent on the applicant passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), an examination covering the professional responsibility rules governing lawyers. This test is not administered at the same time as any U.S. bar exam. Most candidates usually sit for the MPRE while still in law school, right after studying professional responsibility (a required course in all ABA-accredited law schools), while the material is still fresh in their memory.
      • Applicants wishing to be admitted to the bar must also be certified (usually by the state bar association) as having the good moral character and fitness to practice law, and apply to that state's authority responsible for licensing lawyers and pay required fees. Upon approval by that authority, the admittee takes an oath to comply with the rules governing the practice of law in that state, and receives a certificate of admission.
    • The show seems to cover the lack of any of these finer details under the blanket statement of "Mike never went to law school". However, Mike's actual fraud isn't that he never attended law school, per se: it's that he isn't a member of the bar, and is therefore not licensed to practice law in New York State.
    • In the pilot episode, when Mike is taking the LSAT, he's shown wearing a hat and dropping off his test as he walks out of the testing room. In real life you are prohibited from wearing any non-religious head covering and there are multiple proctors who collect your test from your seat to check and make sure that everything is above board before you're even allowed to get out of your seat. Also there is a handwritten sample at the back of the test. If, for some reason, a law school doesn't think it was really you that took the test, they can compare the handwriting from the writing sample to a different sample of your handwriting.
    • In season 6, Rachel takes on the case of Leonard Bailey, a death row inmate whom she believes didn't get a fair trial. There aren't actually any such cases in New York, as the death penalty was abolished in mid 2004. That's the same year Leonard Bailey was convicted, so depending on the exact date of his conviction, either a death sentence wouldn't have been possible or his sentence would have been commuted to life without parole by 2007.
    • Most of Harvey's character-defining moments would have gotten him disbarred multiple times in the pilot episode alone.
    • The portrayal of Pearson Hardman's (which goes through multiple name changes as the series progress) operations takes a lot of liberties with the rules of corporate partnerships. In Real Life, partners in a partnership both own and operate the business. While partners typically manage a partnership jointly, they can vest management power in a single partner, as appears to be the case here, since the firm has a "managing partner" (initially Jessica). However, the managing partner is not really the "big boss" of the entire firm, contrary to how the show seems to portray it. The relationship between a managing partner and other partners is actually like that between a CEO and a board of directors - the former technically works for the latter. So, Jessica wouldn't really be the boss of the other senior partners, including Harvey and Louis, but would instead technically work at their pleasure.
      • In the show's defense, this does appear to be the case some times, like when the senior partners vote on whether Jessica or Daniel Hardman should be managing partner. However, at other times, Jessica appears to have wildly unrealistic powers as managing partner, like when she threatens to fire Harvey after discovering Mike's secret. While she could almost certainly get rid of Harvey as a partner for helping Mike practice law without a license, she would likely have to go to rest of the senior partners for approval to do so since, as a senior partner himself, Harvey has ownership stake in the firm. In other words, its highly unlikely that Jessica could "fire" Harvey (i.e., unilaterally force him to dissociate from the partnership) since again, he, along with the rest of the senior partners, technically has authority over her.
      • Also, it's unclear exactly what kind of ownership stake the rest of the partners have in the firm. Throughout the show, characters are promoted to "senior partner", which requires them to "buy in" to the firm for half a million dollars. Presumably, this means they buy an ownership stake in the partnership. However, during the Season 3 arc where the firm merges with Edward Darby's British firm, Jessica and Darby apparently have a 49/51 ownership split in the firm, which leads to a lot of conflict when Darby uses his majority stake to dictate Jessica's actions. Not only does this not make sense from a legal standpoint, since the other senior partners should also have an ownership stake in the firm, it also creates a massive Plot Hole as it doesn't explain how the other senior partners, like Harvey and Louis, somehow lost the ownership interest they paid for when they "bought in" to the firm and became senior partners in the first place.
  • Aside Glance: Harvey, in "Normandy".
  • The Atoner:
    • 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.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Donna. Her Hyper-Awareness, Sherlock Scan abilities, and eidetic memory on the details she picks up equals this. Then there's her general professional skills which are just as good.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Since all the main characters are in a profession that requires them to dress in high quality formal business attire, this is pretty much a given. Heck, it's right there in the show's name.
  • Batman Gambit: Harvey's modus operandi. A particularly good example comes in 'She Knows': 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 inspired means 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 help 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 be 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.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Harvey on cheating.
    • Harvey, if you mention his mother, no matter what the context. Travis Tanner has found this out more than once.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Season 1: Mike must choose between Jenny (Betty) and Rachel (Veronica).
    • Season 2: Mike must choose between Rachel and Tess.
  • Birds of a Feather: Louis and Sheila Sazs. "I think Louis likes female Louis..."
  • Big Bad:
    • Season 2 has 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 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 Gordon Schmidt Van Dyke. 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. Jessica herself mentions that a man named Arthur Reeves founded the firm and that when Stanley Gordon, Schmidt and Charles Van Dyke became name partners and "ran him out of town" they not only took his name down but also, to quote, "called his biggest client and told them to pack up their shit and find another law firm".
  • Big Brother Mentor: Harvey, to Mike. When Harvey realizes Mike's job is in trouble. Donna's Sherlock Scan explicitly states that Harvey is "protective in an older brother manner." He routinely puts his job on the line to save Mike.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Daniel Hardman.
  • Black Boss Lady: Jessica Pearson, Managing Partner.
  • Black Bra and Panties: Played straight with attire. Subverted in that there's no emotional manipulation, so much as an outpouring.
  • Blackmail:
    • Harvey has successfully done this on more than one occasion, although it backfired with Daniel Hardman.
    • Jessica does this to Mike against Harvey in Season 2's finale, and Season 3 brings about its consequences.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • 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.
    • When Donna informs Harvey of his father's death Harvey says "It's okay". He even mouths "Oh my God" immediately afterwards. It's also the closest to tears we've ever seen him.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Jenny (or Katrina in later seasons), Rachel/Jessica, and Donna.
  • 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, which is why she is so proud when Mike tells her she has finally passed the LSATS in Season 2.
  • Brainy Brunette: Rachel, the best researcher at the firm.
  • 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.
    • She delivers this line in "War":
      "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."
  • Brilliant, but Lazy:
    • 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.
  • Broken Ace: Harvey 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, he has a far more difficult time trusting women than is healthy, and it takes Donna to even *try* to slap him out of it.
    • A lot of it comes down to his troubled upbringing, where his mother cheated on his father for many years while his dad didn't give him the attention he felt he deserved. Despite remaining close to his father in adulthood, Harvey refuses to immediately leave after hearing of his death.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • 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.
    • Henry Gerrard, the ethics professor at Harvard, to Harvey, after Harvey finds out that Gerrard took a bribe to pass a student. Sure, Harvey may be an Amoral Attorney, but he always thought Gerrard was better than that. Bonus points for having Gerrard be played by Gabriel Mecht's Real Life father, adding lots of subtext.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The lawyer that made the settlement deal with Mike's grandmother after his parents died really doesn't remember who they were, because he treated so many people the same way.
  • Call-Back: Used frequently.
    • A seemingly irrelevant item can return a full season later, such as Jessica's remark about a grudge against Charles Van Dyke during a flashback episode coming back when the latter tries to sue Pearson Specter in Season 3.
    • In the series finale, Harvey and Mike reenact their first meeting while reversing their roles. Mike wants to play it to the hilt, but Harvey shoots him down because he doesn't have Mike's photographic memory.
  • Camp Straight: Louis, despite being canonically straight, he does have some effeminate mannerisms, traits and interests (such as ballet and theatre for example).
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • If Scottie had only told Harvey you loved him before deciding to try and bring about a merger...
    • Also Harvey towards Donna, much to her chagrin. His inability to admit that he's in love with her is the main reason why she makes her decision to leave and work for Louis in the Season 4 finale.
  • 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.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Katrina and Mike make references to The Wire, specifically Clay Davis and his catchphrase delivery "SHIIIIIIIT!" despite the fact that Wendell Pierce who played Bunk in the same show portrays Robert Zane in this series.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • 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 Season 2 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.
  • The Chew Toy: 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. Which leads to a Harsher in Hindsight moment when you realize that her making fun of Harold was the last thing she did onscreen before passing away. He later gets fired from the other firm, after a Knight Templar opens a case against Harold and Mike.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: It seems endemic among the firm, and the legal profession in general.
    • 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 1. 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.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Season 1 ended with Trevor saying the Wham Line example below.
    • Season 3, episode 10 took its break with Louis discovering Harvard did not have Mike Ross on file.
  • Cluster S Bombs
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    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.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Louis discovers an unlikely grade on Mike's Harvard transcript (an A+ from a professor who is a notoriously tough grader). Rather than admit that he never attended Harvard and his whole transcript is fake, he instead confesses to falsifying just the grade for that class.
  • The Consigliere: Discussed, complete with the obligatory Shout-Out (paraphrased);
    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 Lady: Louis, though he only has one cat, gets this with quality not quantity.
  • Create Your Own Villain: As a result of the Chronic Backstabbing Disorder endemic in the firm, a shocking number of antagoists were either former members of the firm, or attorney's who had been mistreated by them. Justified or not.
    • This is actually playfully applied in the last season when Harold starts ahabing Louis. Louis despised Harold when he worked under him because he could never train him correctly, resulting in serious errors that nearly cost the firm hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, rather than let him wash-out, Louis intentionally kept Harold around so he could use him like a chew toy, demeaning him and harrassing him at every turn. His dethroning moment of suck was when he forced Harold to take care of his cat, despite Harold being fatally allergic to cats. Louis is then shocked when Harold jumps at every opportunity to get at him, poaching his client and even outmaneuvering during a case. Louis accuses him of being ungrateful and disloyal, to which Harold responds that Louis nearly KILLED HIM, and even Louis is given pause. Of course Louis' ego ensures this doesn't take, and he starts using using dirty tricks to end Harold's career out of spite. Eventually, Rachel intervenes and points out to Louis that he's being unreasonable and it's not fair to end Harold's career because of his inferiority complex. Louis actually agrees, stands down and lets Harold win.
  • Cynical Mentor: Harvey. He always advises Mike to "play the man" as a main strategy.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 2 is definitely this to Season 1. Seasons 3 and 4 may not be as dark as Season 2 but they are still far more dramatic than Season 1.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Harvey.
      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?
    • Donna too.
      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 Think This Through: Several of the characters show this, with Mike clearly not realizing the full implications and challenges of being a fake lawyer until it's too late, while Harvey can be cocky enough to fail to see a few angles on a case. Louis can be the worst, leaping into situations to either make himself a fool or get the firm into major trouble.
    • When Louis finally figures out the truth about Mike, he uses the information to force Jessica to make him name partner. Louis immediately tries to fire Mike, thinking he has all the cards. Instead, Jessica points out that by using the information to get his job back, Louis automatically became part of the fraud (and worse, as he's directly profiting off it) and thus if he exposes Mike, he'll go down as well.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Scottie to Harvey, Sheila Sazs to Louis.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Rachel is capable of using this to get what she wants occasionally.
  • 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 said Season 3 would be about dealing with the consequences of this one episode.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A clandestine meeting between Louis and a headhunter sounds suspiciously like a gay tryst. This is deliberately invoked.
    • Donna, Louis, Nigel, cubicle. Nigel inside Donna's cubicle. You do the math.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After years of neglect from Jessica, Louis sides with Hardman and gives him information on Harvey and Jessica's schemes.
  • Double Don't Know: In the Season 8 finale, Thomas, a furniture manufacturer owner (and Donna's current love interest) has a handshake agreement to sell furniture to all of a real estate client's shopping malls. The client is going to betray Thomas' company by using them as a stalking horse to get better terms from a competing manufacturer. Donna, not knowing what has happened, sees Harvey's face and queries him. He admits what is happening but asks her to wait while he tries to arrange a replacement deal. Donna goes on her date, and Thomas tells her about how he got a really sweet deal from his current landlord, but this offer is only good until noon tomorrow. Worried he might get no deal at all, Donna tells him what's happening. He immediately takes the current offer and puts out a press release. The mall company is going to sue them for violating privilege. Louis wants to know how this happened:
    Louis: Why couldn't Donna just wait for you?
    Harvey: I don't know, Louis, I just don't know.
  • Double-Meaning Title: They are "suits," and they deal with lawsuits. The guys also wear suits, so this would be a triple meaning title, actually.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Season 2 ends with everyone miserable, and Season 3 continues with the misery.
    • The season 5 ending. Mike's in prison on a 2 year stint after taking a deal to save everyone else from jail time, Rachel is distraught and the Firm is pretty much dead with only Jessica, Harvey, Donna, Rachel and Louis left (and it's arguable if Rachel will even stay). The worst part is it all could've been avoided as Mike had actually succeeded in claiming a Not Guilty verdict but he didn't want to risk jail time for anyone else.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Averted in the case of marijuana.
    • 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...
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • 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 again, this time 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 Evil Has 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:
    Harvey: I'd never do that Louis. But you would and that's your problem.
    • 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.
  • Every Man Has His Price:
    • 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.
  • Exact Words:
    • 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 , 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 Tunes expies, 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.
  • A Father to His Men: Harvey and Louis to the younger associates.
    • 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. When he just can't bear to tell Rachel that Harvard rejected her because she wasn't good enough, he takes the blame himself.
  • 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 3 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 USA shows of its era, 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 as big of a storyline in the show as the first few episodes and seasons 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 into a plot driven/character driven show based around the murky world of law and of Pearson & Hardman in particular.
  • A Fool for a Client: The taxi driver who's about to start a litigation claiming that Harvey's driver hit him first. But he's not your normal fool for a client, considering the following Badass Boast:
    "I sued for my citizenship, so I have a very special appreciation for the law. I wiped the floor with the US government, counselor. I'm gonna do the same with you."
  • Foreign Remake: Had a remake in both Korea and Japan.
  • 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 almost too late that he and Harvey are actually this and not true enemies. Harvey may not have liked Louis but did respect him, until 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.
  • 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.
    • Less funny when the next scene is Louis having a heart attack in court due to the exertion and how he has been living lately.
  • 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 then goes bust. Since he is also Harvey's friend, Harvey and Mike try to find a way to get his company back.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The six main characters are evenly split gender wise: Harvey Specter, Mike and Louis for the boys and Rachel Zane, Donna Paulsen and Jessica Pearson for the girls.
    • Subverted later on, when the ladies side adds Scottie and Katrina.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • The people at the firm seem to be well-aware of each others' stories and tricks.
    • Mike is naive, but he's wising up fast.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Mike gets fired three times in the pilot alone, and is threatened with termination several more times.
    • In fact, he's fired and rehired immediately in 5 seconds in Season 2's finale.
  • The Ghost: Louis Litt's secretary Norma is frequently mentioned by the other characters but never seen on-screen.
  • Girl Friday:
    • Katrina for Louis. With shades of Battle Butler (she's a full-fledged lawyer, and damned good, too.)
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hated by All:
    • 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.
  • He's Back!: She's Back: Donna's triumphant return to Pearson Hardman. She tells her metrosexual replacement to hit the bricks, which she requested as a condition of her return.
  • 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 , 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.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mike and Trevor were this until Trevor betrays him. Mike and Harvey become this in later seasons. Also, Rachel and Donna.
  • 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. 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).
  • Hollywood Genetics: Played for laughs when Louis' sister drops by, played by the gorgeous Amy Acker. No one can believe the two are related. Harvey even hits on her before finding out and is stunned they come from the same genetic pool. What's funnier is Louis is under the impression that "slap a wig on me and we could be twins" and doesn't seem to realize how different they are.
  • Hollywood Law: This happens on a fair number of episodes.
  • 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.
  • Hope Spot: After living under the constant threat of being outed as a fraud, Mike finally gets a hacker to adjust Harvard's records as well as the Bar so that the official record supports his cover story. However, he still ends up leaving the firm of his own accord due to his fear of being discovered, and when he eventually returns he is found out and prosecuted.
  • Humble Hero: Harvey has shades of this. While he will gloat over his own genius, he will also give praise when it is due. Even to Louis.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Harvey, Mike and Donna - each in their own way.
  • 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 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.
    • Louis makes mistakes that nearly derail the case in "Identity Crisis".
    • Mike Ross, a genius with a Photographic Memory, having the oh-so-secure password Ross99.
    • 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 "shmuck".
  • I Know You Know I Know: Plans tend to run two or three layers deep in this.
    • 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'.
  • Imagine Spot:
    • Mike has a couple in early seasons, but later on it becomes Louis' domain whenever he feels paranoid or inadequate.
  • 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.
    • When Donna visits Louis at the range she outshoots him with ease. She then reveal that she was a champion competitive shooter in her youth.
  • 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. He later asks Jessica to have Rosh Hashanah off.
  • Inspector Javert: Mike and Harold are arrested by a U.S. attorney who hates crooked lawyers. That attorney spent four years on a prior case securing a conviction. Harvey and especially Louis essentially refuse to let him try to push Harold or Mike around.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • Harvey, to the point where his criteria for a new partner is "another me".
    • Louis, when it comes to financials.
  • In Vino Veritas: Louis gets talkative after a few drinks. Unfortunately, when he goes out to a bar with Jeff Malone, Jessica's boyfriend, he lets it slip that Jessica has been lying to him about the real reason Louis managed to become a name partner. Jeff breaks up with Jessica and tenders his resignation, as he can't be with someone who doesn't trust him and lies to him.
  • Iron Lady: Jessica to an extent and she usually shows a somewhat nicer side when she's talking to Harvey. The ruthlessness becomes much more prominent after her Broken Pedestal moment.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • 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 2 summer finale, Jessica says, "If you go, I go" to Harvey, a variation on this.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Donna, to Harvey.
  • Jerkass: Louis.
    • Katrina in 'Normandy'. Not to Mike. To Rachel.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Harvey.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Daniel Hardman, although he tries to hide it.
  • 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.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering:
    • 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 , 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.
  • Libation for the Dead: At the end of "Rewind" Harvey stands before his father's grave and fills two shot glasses with whiskey: one for himself and one for his father. He leaves the bottle (The Macallan, 18 Y.O.) on the headstone, implying that drink may have had a hand in his father's demise.
  • Lingerie Scene: Let's just say Season 2 ended with a bang.
  • Location Doubling: Toronto doubles for NYC - a couple of scenes were in fact filmed at the Royal Fairmont Hotel in the city.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Harvey does not take this well.
  • Longing Look: Mike and Rachel. All. The. Time.
  • Love Triangle: Mike is torn between Jenny and Rachel, representing his old and new lives respectively.
    • And then between Rachel and Tess.
    • And then Scottie and Donna.
  • 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. .
  • Maintain the Lie:
    • The key to the early seasons of the show is Mike isn't a lawyer and keeps up the act of being one no matter what.
    • Part of Louis' backstory is his father convinced the family he was a high-ranking vice president in his company for a decade. It turns out he was just a low-level gopher making good.
  • Male Gaze: Rachel, increasingly, through Mike's eyes.
  • Mama Bear: Donna to Mike. Lampshaded when another associate dares to taunt Mike in Donna's presense:
    Associate: Is Mommy helping you clean up your mess, Ross?
    Donna: [appalled] Am I "mommy" in this scenario? [shoots Mike a knowing look]
  • Mean Boss:
    • 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. Five years later he forged a document for revenge against Harvey and Jessica, and to take back the firm.
  • Meaningful Name: How meaningful is debateable, but Harvey shares his first name with Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law as well as Harvey Dent, a district attorney who worked alongside Lt. Gordon in The Dark Knight. Similarly, his father is named Gordon, similar to Commissioner Gordon who handles another specter of the night.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Absolutely averted with Donna and Jessica. Played with in regards to Rachel, who wants to subvert this to the point of tears.
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: Louis meets with Donna at the office, down after being fired from the firm. The two have a friendly chat as Louis talks about his experience, including a "key" that is rewarded to those who graduate Harvard. He then off-handedly remarks how when he mentioned it earlier, Mike had no idea what he was talking about. Donna's eyes widen as Louis suddenly gets cold and angry, as this is the final piece to have Louis finally figure out Mike never went to law school and Donna, Harvey and Jessica have all been covering for him.
    • Season 9's "Prisoners' Dilemma" ends with Harvey feeling victorious after getting corrupt State's Attorney Malik and returns home in high spirits...only for Donna to break the news Harvey's mom has just died.
  • 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.
  • The Movie Buff:
    • 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 1 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, who is decently knowledgeable (as demonstrated with Mike) but his general jerkishness means few want to play the game with him.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Obviously for the men.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Donna is 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.
  • Must Have Caffeine:
    • Harvey. Has gone so far as to snatch a cup out of Mike's hand - that Mike had just purchased for himself from a street vendor.
    • Donna, who deliberately buys low fat so she can add 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. 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 a 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.
  • New Meat: Mike and the other first years are this to the firm. They are all expected to do grunt work and work under Louis Litt who really doesn't like taking their crap and complaints. See "The Reason You Suck" Speech for more.
  • New Old Flame:
    • 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.
    • Logan Sanders, one of the firm's clients, turns out to have once had an affair with Rachel while being married. They end up making out, only for Rachel to stop before it gets any further. After she tells Mike the truth, their relationship is on the rocks until he forgives her.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • 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 "War".
  • Nice Mean And In Between:
  • Nice Guy: Mike Ross and Zoe Lawford. The latter quits Pearson Hardman because she was tired of the backstabbing.
  • 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.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • A woman sues a publishing company that is a client of the law firm alleging that one of their editors stole a book idea that she had. Mike believes her and helps her get a fair settlement. The woman then uses the information that Mike gave her to blackmail the publisher into getting full credit for the book.
      • Mike, however, was prepared for the blackmail and had a further defense for the publisher prepared when she tried to go too far.
    • 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.
    • Harold owes Mike for getting him a new job after Harold is fired from the firm so he helps him with an unethical legal maneuver. When their actions come to light, Harold is promptly fired from his new job.
      • In fact, his boss doesn't even bother finding out what it is he did. All it takes is him being questioned by the Federal government, and she decides that she doesn't need the heat.
    • After Louis gets fired Mike tries to cheer him up by asking about some of the trophies and keepsakes that were kept in Louis's office. Unfortunately one of those items is something that a Harvard graduate like Mike should easily recognize because he should have gotten one as well upon graduation. Mike's clueless question results in Pulling the Thread and one more person discovers the truth about Mike's lack of a law degree.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever happened to Louis on June 3rd, 1997. He's so panicked that Donna knows about it that he offers to buy her silence. With cash.
    • Harvey and Donna's pre-trial "thing". It involves a can opener.
    • 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.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • 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.
  • Number Two:
    • Harvey to Jessica.
    • Mike/Donna to Harvey.
  • 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.
  • Odd Couple: Wide-Eyed Idealist Mike contrasted with cynical, self-centered Amoral Attorney Harvey.
  • Odd Friendship: Louis and Rachel team up in one episode to help a dance company, after discovering a shared passion for ballet.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • 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 Daniel Hardman 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.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe. Harvey never talks about his days working as a prosecutor in the DA's office and it is not mentioned in his official bio. Few people at the firm know that he worked there and only Donna knows what he is so ashamed of.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • 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 he idolizes is embezzling funds from the troupe he's director of, he is stunned speechless and immobile. 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 troupe.
    • Harvey especially in the Season 2 finale, and Jessica to an almost equally large extent.
  • 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.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Used in the intro; Mike's segment is tinted all in orange, and Harvey's is tinted in blue, as well as the ending where the two convene.
  • 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 with a photographic memory), Donna (the all-knowing), Louis (ruthless and a 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".
    • Louis is actually a better attorney than Harvey, but lacks his charisma and social skills, resulting in Harvey being promoted over him.
  • Over Ranked Managing Partner. A realistic example. Jessica joined the firm in 2003 and became managing partner in 2011. While an attorney can easily make junior partner, or partner in a smaller firm, there is no way someone could reach the top of a top law firm in only eight years. Jessica's rise is mostly due to being Daniel Hardman's number two when he launched his coup. She then pushed him out in turn when his embezzling came to light. The department heads hate her and view her as an upstart. The result is she needs to play Xanatos Speed Chess constantly to remain in charge. It has also made her very cagey at the concept of disloyalty.
  • Papa Wolf: Harvey seems to have turned into one, despite his protestations to the contrary. In the Season 2 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.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Take a wild guess.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish":
  • 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, the usual Hollywood version. It is suggested that Louis has one too, at least with regard to numbers.
    • The end of the Season 2 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."
      • She 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. Donna and Harvey continually bounce around between this, I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, Anchored Ship, and Just Friends, depending on the episode and season.
    • Jessica and Harvey have a few moments of Ship Tease but, despite their closeness, have no romantic feelings for each other.
  • Playful Hacker: The hacker in "Identity Crisis" steals money from her dad's company, making her come off as The 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. She pays Mike back for getting her off by hacking into Harvard's database and putting a transcript for him into the system. In a later season, Mike asks her to hack the New York Bar and add his name there too.
  • Plot Hole: Mike commits fraud in order to practice law, because he can't go to law school, because he got expelled from college. However, there are four US states that allow people to become lawyers without formal education, by studying under a tutoring attorney. All he had to do to become an honest lawyer was move to California, Vermont, Virginia or Washington for a few years!
  • Poor Communication Kills: While not out of character, this happens several times, with bad consequences.
  • Precision F-Strike: Since this is a cable program the language can be much stronger than TV. In one episode, it's done so quietly that you have to turn the volume up loud to hear it. In Season 3, Episode 5, Rachel tells Mike what she found out about Donna's love life: "Donna fucked Steven."
  • Product Placement
    • Louis talking to his parents on Skype, which seems to be the video-chat app of choice at the USA Network. (See also Political Animals.)
    • In "Bad Faith", Harvey goes after Samsung to retain them as a client. As a result, their name gets dropped a lot during the episode. Guess which company's phones are advertised during the break?
  • Professionals Do It on Desks: 'Nuff said.
    • This is repeated later, initially starting as a joke, only for Rachel to simply say, "Close the door."
  • Promotion to Parent: Zoe Lawford's brother is dying. She has chosen to take up raising his daughter.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: 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.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Used literally and also invoked by Harvey after he and Mike send Trevor to Montana in "Bail Out".
    • As of the season finale, The Bus Came Back.
    • Harold's bus ticket got punched halfway through Season 2.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Season 2 ended with this.
  • Rash Equilibrium: Louis. It was heartbreaking.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • 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.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Each of the main characters' colors are clearly represented in the opening credits.
    • Harvey is blue. Being the more experienced lawyer, he knows how to use the law to suit his own purposes. Louis and Jessica are the same, with Jessica being a particularly vicious Rules Lawyer when dealing with office drama.
    • Mike is red. Since he's new to the legal profession, he's more likely to be driven by his emotions and tries to get the law to match how he feels about an issue. Harvey has to constantly pull him back and try to get him to see things with a cooler head.
    • Rachel and Donna straddle both traits so the background colors of their actresses' names change while on screen.
  • 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.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • 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 they did. Once that happened, the document became irrelevant.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Usually averted, with the notable exception of Jack Soloff, the main antagonist of Season 5 who appears out of nowhere near its beginning. Unlike the antagonists of other seasons (who were lawyers, firms, and businessmen outside the firm), Soloff is a long-standing senior partner with Pearson Specter, described by Jessica as an ambitious go-getter looking to pick a fight to gain influence in the firm, and who would have been in a position to significantly influence events in previous seasons.
  • Rescue Introduction: Harvey and Mike meet this way while Mike is being chased by the police.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • 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.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Louis' vote for who gets to be Managing Partner wasn't actually shown.
  • 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.
  • Sadistic Choice: Jessica, to Mike: betray Harvey or go to prison.
  • Safe Word: According to Louis, they're for pussies.
  • Sassy Secretary: Donna. When she calls Harvey out on his 0% Approval Rating, Harvey tells her she's fired. Jessica wants to give her a raise.
  • School Grade Hacking: A variation; a hacker has to not only change grades but create an entire fake Harvard transcript for Mike, who never actually attended.
  • 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.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: In this universe, every attorney uses dirty tricks to win. Everyone. Rather than collapse the system, it instead enables it, as it forces the victim to accept the perpetrator's actions lest their own be exposed. And if a perpetrator doesn't have anything on another attorney, it's a simple matter to find someone who does. As a result, everyone can be as unethical as they wish and the New York Bar operates on a system of Mutually Assured Destruction.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • Donna, for Harvey in general.
    • 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.
    • It turns out Benjamin has known from the start Mike wasn't a lawyer for a unique reason: Mike was the only "Harvard grad" who didn't boast about it all the time around Benjamin and make himself look more important.
    • 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.
      • Dr. Agard, Harvey's therapist, learns of the infidelity in Season 5 ("Toe to Toe") while helping Harvey's state of mind post-Season 4.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Benjamin, the firm's IT tech and researcher, reveals in season 5 that he knew from the start Mike wasn't a lawyer for a unique reason: Mike was the only "Harvard grad" who never talked down to Benjamin or flaunted his education in the man's face.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Scottie came dangerously close to this.
  • Sexy Secretary: Donna, of course. With a dollop of Girl Friday for good measure.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: A show about high-priced lawyers couldn't be without this one.
    • 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.
  • Sherlock Scan:
    • Mike in the pilot, when he figures out that the hotel bellboy is a cop.
    • Donna in "She Knows". 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.
  • Ship Sinking: Katrina straight-up says she's not attracted to Louis.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Harvey Dent... uh, Specter. There are Batman allusions in almost every episode too, with the subtext being Harvey is Batman and Mike is Robin. Given Harvey's fondness for elaborate-yet-improvised plans, it's surely deliberate.
      • 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.
    • Mike Ross and Rachel Zane, the latter of whom is good friends with Monica Eton.
    • 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 Fight" Mike and Harvey rip a number of themes directly from the plot of Mississippi Burning. Since they are both movie buffs, it works.
    • In "Undefeated":
      Mike: We have an IT department?
      Donna: Well, the computers don't run themselves. At least 'til Skynet goes active.
    • From the mid-Season 2 Finale:
      Louis: I always pay my debts. I'm a Lannister.
    • There are so many movie, TV, book and "pop culture" references every week that this blog collects and explains them.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: A case can be made for both Scottie and Rachel.
  • Smug Snake: Louis, oh so very much.
    • Much more so with Daniel Hardman.
    • Most of the recurring antagonists fit the bill - Charles Forstman, Sean Cahill and Anita Gibbs, to name a few.
  • Sparing Them the Dirty Work: 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.
  • Speed Sex: Subverted with Louis, who despite his frequent designation as butt monkey turns out to have an insane level of sexual stamina.
  • 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 (hello, Trevor.)
  • Statuesque Stunner: There's Donna Paulsen, played by Sarah Rafferty, and Samantha Wheeler, played by Katherine Heigl, who are both 5' 9". Gina Torres, who moved on to spinoff Pearson, is 5' 10" in her bare feet. When Jessica is in heels, she towers over everybody.
  • Stern Teacher:
    • Louis.
      • 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 tough boss, 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."
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • 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.
    • Once someone starts digging into Mike's past, it is very easy to discover that he never went to Harvard despite the fact that the university's records have been altered. A basic background check reveals that Mike was living and working in New York while he was supposedly a full time student at Harvard.
    • Jessica didn't even need to do that to figure it out. Mike, despite now having been hacked into graduating Harvard Law, doesn't have a fake Bachelor's degree from anywhere, which people usually need to get into Harvard Law in the first place. Technically, it's possible to get into a post-graduate program without a Bachelor's degree, but it's rather exceptional, and usually due to someone having decades of experience in the field or a foreign degree, neither of which logically could apply to Mike.
    • He also doesn't know much about the culture of Harvard Law and frequently gets caught on knowing things that every graduate should know, such as where to get square pizza on campus or the Harvard song. He finally outs himself when he doesn't recognize a strange key in Louis's things, which is something that is given to any Harvard student who graduates at the top of his or her class, which Mike supposedly did.
    • Additionally, while he has a record in the Harvard database, the hacker who put it there didn't know that a certain professor never ever gives students an A+. Only a Harvard graduate would know that. Mike is forced to improvise by claiming that he failed the class and altered the grade while the professor was out of the room.
    • In Season 4, Rachel kisses her ex-boyfriend, and Mike leaves her for a while. Then they get back together, and he's still pissed off. Rachel points out that he said he was fine with it. Mike says he's obviously not.
      • Mike is an idealist who's even less suited to corporate finance than he is for corporate law, especially without Harvey protecting him.
      • Louis' wacky antics while trying to cover his mistake eventually cause Mike to be suspicious, and he and Harvey figure it out in a few seconds once they put their heads together. Louis resigns seconds before Harvey comes to his office and fires him. And then he can't get clients, because he departed under a cloud and Jessica won't rehire him because he's a screw-up.
    • Season 5; Louis blackmails his way back into the firm and a Named Partnership over Mike. Then Jessica points out that he can't reveal Mike's lack of a law degree, because he's now part of the crime too, neutering his leverage over her.
    • Later in the season, Mike is finally exposed and immediately arrested for fraud. The entire firm is now in the crosshairs with massive investigations and threats of disbarrment. Despite all their efforts, Mike agrees to a plea deal, unaware the jury would have found him not guilty. Finally, Jessica and Harvey believe their employees will stay with them out of loyalty. But once the no-compete clause in the firm's contract is voided, every lawyer, paralegal, assistant and secretary (except Donna and Gretchen) leaves rather than be tainted working for a firm that knowingly hired a fake lawyer.
    • In an attempt to boost the firm up following Mike's arrest Jessica decides to open their hiring up to 20 schools besides Harvard, expecting more applicants. Instead, Louis has to break it to her that not one single graduate from any of those schools is interested in working for a firm engaged in massive fraud.
    • Season 6 brings yet another headache as Jessica and Harvey learn that they are being sued by those involved in every case Mike has ever worked on over the last four years.
  • 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: In the second episode, Harvey berates Mike for not taking a third option when Louis blackmailed him into smoking pot in order to relate to a potential client better. The metaphor he uses is about how when someone a someone has gun to your head there's seemingly only the option of being shot or doing wha the person tells you; in fact you can call their bluff that the gun isn't real or loaded, the person might not have the nerve to shot, etc. A recurring theme in each of the cases is that the best lawyers don't give in until they've exhausted every move they could make.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Jeff Malone. He's also charming enough to not only get into Jessica's pants but also let her guard down (except she doesn't, and he leaves after finding out she lied to him).
  • Taught by Experience: How Mike learns to be a great attorney.
  • Team Dad: Jessica, the authority figure that intervenes to make Louis and Harvey play nice.
  • Team Mom: Donna to the entire firm.
    • During Season 2, 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.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Louis.
  • Token Good Teammate: Mike.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Harold. Dear God...
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the Season 2 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!
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Trevor.
    • 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 system.
  • Tranquil Fury: Harvey and Jessica have displayed this at times.
  • Troll: Louis is allergic to flowers. Harvey knows this because he sent flowers to Louis' desk every day when they were associates.
  • True Companions: By the end of the middle of Season 2, 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.
    • By the actual end of Season 2, the companionship is...on the say the least.
    • By the end of the third season, Harvey, Mike, Donna and Louis - and to some extent Jessica and Rachel too - are this. They fight lots of times but at the end of the day they look after each other and call each other family.
  • Two First Names: Mike Ross.
  • 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.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Played for Drama in "Bail Out", when Mike is pursued into a lift by two thugs, but because Louis is standing there they can only glare at him until it reaches the ground floor.
    • 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.
    • Mike's extremely loyal to Harvey, as is pointed out by Hardman in "Sucker Punch".
    • Katrina ends up being extremely loyal to Louis. She even helps him out when he is no longer her boss and doing so will most likely result in the end of her career.
  • The Unfair Sex: In "She Knows", 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.
  • Unfortunate Names: Harvey's driver is named Rahim Benghazi. In his first appearance (June 2011), he lampshades how unfortunate a name that is to have in New York.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • 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.
    • RST now.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: Harvey invokes the Kobayashi Maru scenario by name when Mike complains that the mock trial case he has been assigned is unwinnable.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Donna pulls out two ballet tickets out of a fancy blouse when trying to grease the wheels with Louis.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Harvey, as an element of Sharp-Dressed Man, above; Mike even comments on it at one point.
    Harvey: That's a three-piece suit. Where's the vest?
    Mike: Yeah, I've been meaning to talk to you about that: A vest? Really?
    Harvey: Says the guy with the bike helmet.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: In "Meet the New Boss", Mike is dozing at his desk and blurts out "It's a can opener!"note  when Harvey wakes him.
  • Walk and Talk:
    • "Two characters walk quickly down a hallway quipping and fast-talking" is a popular trope on Suits.
    • Invoked by name in "Shelf Life".
  • Weak-Willed: After the mock trial in Season 1 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."
    • "Pearson-Specter-Litt."
    • From "Prisoner's Dilemma" (9.08):
      Donna: Harvey, I need to tell you something.
      Harvey: What is it, Donna? What's wrong?
      Donna: Your mother had a heart attack. She's gone.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Season 2 has a good amount of these.
      • Donna gets fired for having destroyed the memorandum in "Break Point".
      • "Sucker Punch". The entire episode was one wham moment after another.
      • "War".
    • The season 4 finale, when Donna leaves Harvey to work for Louis after he refuses to admit that he is in love with her.
    • Season 5, Episode 12. The whole thing is a mix of wham lines and ever more revealing Disaster Dominoes which cascade together for maximum dramatic effect with For Want Of A Nail in the final five minutes.
    • The Season 5 finale. Mike pleads guilty to fraud and goes to prison, while Pearson Specter Litt have their entire staff bar Donna quit.
  • Wham Shot: In "Discovery", Harvey's nemesis Tanner accuses him of hiding a memo which proved that his client committed fraud. Harvey swears he never saw the memo and comes to the conclusion that Tanner forged it. In the final scene, Donna finally locates the memo in the file room... with her signature on it, showing that she had received it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Mike does not take it well when he realizes 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.
    • "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.
    • In "This is Rome" (Season 4), a furious, vindictive and downright scary Louis does it twice after finding out the truth about Mike: first to Donna, accusing her of playing him and that their friendship was all a lie, and then to Jessica, calling her a liar, an hypocrite, and demanding her to apologize for how she treated him. Jessica admits that both accusations are true, but refuses to apologize.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: In universe, Harvey and Mike's plans in "Dog Fight" to the movie "Mississippi Burning."
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Louis after Hardman makes him Senior Partner.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Mike, which lands him in trouble when both sides try to take advantage of him.
  • Worf Had the Flu: More than lightly implied that love was holding Scottie back against Harvey whenever they'd face off against each other, for as long as they knew each other.
  • You Just Told Me: In "Bail Out", Harvey pulls this off on Mike to discover that Mike went back to a client he told him not to go to.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Jessica Pearson, with Harvey and Louis.
    Harvey: If I win, I look good. If Louis wins, he looks good. Either way, you look good.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The driving element of most stories.


Video Example(s):


That's Obstruction of justice

Harvey forces a company to commit obstruction of justice and let's them get away with murder, all to save Donna.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoveOverridesTheLaw

Media sources: