Vote for the Worst 2: TV’s Most Lovably Awful Lawyers
So now that we’ve uncovered TV’s most lovably awful doctor, it’s time to determine who would represent this man in a malpractice lawsuit. After all, a truly demented doctor demands a truly loony lawyer!
As with doctors, television is rife with modern proxies of Atticus Finch: Perry Mason. Matlock. Clair Huxtable. Attorneys who represent the deftness, honesty, and passion for justice that brings light to the American legal system, week after week.
But what of those lovable buffoons who couldn’t charm a jury to save their inexplicable careers? What of the heroically inept, the absurdly unscrupulous, and the downright psychotic among TV’s fictional law firms who make those shows so fun to watch? Don’t these losers deserve recognition?
Well here at Hobbes Lives, they’re gonna get it, with the help of you, the reader! Below are listed six TV doctors who ought to be disbarred, would that we could stop from laughing. Give each one a careful read, consider the case carefully (since they would not), and then vote below on both your first and your second pick for world’s worst lawyer. Enjoy a relevant and irreverent link to one of their scenes, why don’t you! If you think of someone that’s not listed who needs to be called out, please write them in!
Undoubtedly, Jackie’s “many humiliations” can be largely attributed to his exclusively dealing with the self-centered Seinfeld crew, Cosmo Kramer in particular. In fact, most of his cases come to a screeching, embarrassing halt when Kramer oversteps his bounds as a client, either usurping Jackie’s legal role or settling outside of court. After four consecutive lost Kramer cases, including one that gets his losing client’s face plastered on a billboard, in essence flaunting Jackie’s failure, Jackie actually issues a restraining order against Kramer, preventing the two of them from litigating together. That is, until the finale, where the entire crew is represented. Guess how that case went?
The fact is that, despite Kramer’s influence over the proceedings, wouldn’t a better lawyer have been able to reign his client in, as opposed to spouting a series of Cochranesque phrases? In fact, wouldn’t a better lawyer have enacted a three strikes policy on Kramer, at MOST? Seeing as we’ve never seen Jackie win a case, he easily makes the list.
On Sue Ellen Mischke’s public bra fashion: “That’s totally inappropriate. It’s lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous!”
Lionel Hutz, as we all love him, is the cartoon embodiment of Atticus Finch’s evil twin. He fits all the stereotypical bad lawyer molds of chasing ambulances, burning evidence, and arriving to court with no pants. But he’s so much more than that! He’s a bad real estate agent, encouraging other agents to “massage” the truth out of existence. He’s a bad babysitter, pulling a knife on the kids when he awakes to find that he is indeed not at the YMCA. Even his business tactics are shoddy, offering free non-sequitor perks for your patronage such as a smoking monkey, or free pizza as consolation for losing, which, when it comes to Hutz, seems inevitable.
What makes Lionel truly special, though, is that despite his failings, he has a seemingly hypnotic grasp on clients, maintaining a 100% retention rate, loss after loss. Creator Matt Groening himself has marveled over the fact that, despite being the world’s worst lawyer, the Simpsons keep going back to him, time and time again!
Hutz: Uh-oh. We’ve drawn Judge Snyder.
Marge: Is that bad?
Hutz: Well, he’s had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog.
Marge: You did?
Hutz: Well, replace the word “kinda” with the word “repeatedly,” and the word “dog” with “son.”
It bears saying that, of these six titans of legal mayhem, Saul Goodman (real name McGill: “The Jewish thing I just do for the homeboys”) actually knows how to get the job done. Despite all his quirks, and his nigh unbearable rambling, Walter and Jesse’s patronage of Saul’s services has kept them free from jail or a six-foot ditch numerous times. So why put him on the list? Because, true to the show’s name, Saul Goodman is a BAD lawyer. Bad, i.e. unscrupulous, dishonest, downright criminal. As Jesse espouses when the pair first cross his path, “When the going gets tough, you don’t want a criminal lawyer. You want a CRIMINAL lawyer.”
Saul’s expertise ranges from dodging petty charges, to high-profile criminal connections, to money laundering, and so much more! And perhaps the most impressive aspect of Saul’s disdain for the law of man is that we’ve never even seen him set foot in a courtroom. He’s so adept at high-level legal trickery that the furthest we’ve ever seen him step from the comfort of his office with his Bluetooth fired up was to get the FBI off Jesse’s back and then fade away. Of a potential, though long shot, Saul spinoff, BB creator Vince Gilligan has said, “I like the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law. He’ll settle on the courthouse steps, whatever it takes to stay out of the courtroom.” Truly, Saul is the best of the worst!
“If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.”
As inept as these awful attorneys tend to be at their jobs, they still regularly tend to their jobs. Ally McBeal’s firm, Cage & Fish, instead seems to function as a breeding ground for all known romantic and sexual neuroses. At the center of it all stands Ally, who seems to take time that is perhaps better spent scanning depositions or rehearsing opening statements, to instead fall into all manner of romantic entanglement with her coworkers, as well as other highly distracting men within and outside the office.
Perhaps it is not entirely fair to label Ally as a consummate unprofessional, especially when surrounded by so much blatant and cartoonish ineptitude throughout her working environment. John Cage was also a high contender for this list, due to his tendency to sputter and scream in the face of clients and coworkers, things that certainly don’t inspire confidence. But Ally gets the nod for one reason in particular: nobody wants a lawyer who constantly hallucinates, and tangos with, a dancing CGI baby.
“Law and love are the same – romantic in concept but the actual practice can give you a yeast infection.”
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
Once again we are faced with a law firm that is rife with (albeit literally) cartoonish ineptitude. From the show’s heroic protagonist, Harvey Birdman, who maintains a 50% courtroom success rate on better days, all the way up to the firm’s cyclopian executive Phil Ken Sebben, who seems to only exacerbate his firm’s problems, provided he can even see them. There are some pretty lame lawyers in that Hanna Barbera dimension, but perhaps none so lame as one Peter Potamus, an obnoxious, lecherous purple hippo whose only desire in life is to know if you got that thing he sent ya.
Hell, we’ve only really seen Potamus litigate once, spending the rest of his time hooking up with famous HB gals and staking out the men’s room in order to ask the vital question. When he finally approached the bench, it became clear that Potamus knows next to nothing about the legal profession, opting to charm the jury with his persistent phrasing, when he;s not eyeing the stenographer’s ha-has. At the end of the day, I’ll take an under-appreciated ex-superhero over a zoo animal who double parks at work in a flying ark.
“This blows! Who’s up for a Hooter’s run?”
Barry Zuckerkorn, the Bluth family’s representative in their many, many legal troubles, has a lot of ideas. He believes that husbands and wives can’t be convicted of the same crime. He advocates lying to the police and stealing evidence. He’ll occasionally spank rival attorneys. The problem with all these brilliant ideas is that they tend to come into conflict with the law he is supposed to represent. Maybe this is why Barry suffers his share of legal troubles, or maybe that’s due to his activities at rest stops.
Despite Barry’s woeful legal record, the Bluths continue to take advantage of his services; the family has a history of failing to recognize aptitude in various professions, as evidenced by characters like Barry and private eye Gene Parmesan. Even after being fired by Michael in season 3, Barry returns in season 4 to handle a new host of legal woes, proving that you can’t fire bad ideas. Not when the Fonz is on the case! Ay!!
Barry: I got Michael out of his marriage, didn’t I?
Michael: Actually, she died.
Barry: You’re kidding me. I’ve been taking credit for that for years!
So there you have it, voters! Now you get to decide, and remember! You get to vote for your first and second favorite lackadaisical lawmen below, from among the ones listed above, or feel free to write in your own suggestion! I’ll be back next week with results!
Mikael Page, codename “Here’s Johnny,” is an NYC-based comedian, writer, and Amazon shopper. Check him out on YouTube, and if you see the UPS guy, tell him he owes Mikael two new electric toothbrush heads.