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File:Suits tvtropes 4342.jpg


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

Suits, formerly known as A Legal Mind, is a USA Network television Dramedy series starring Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht. It debuted on June 23, 2011, with a ninety-minute premiere episode. Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a Brilliant but Lazy college dropout with an eidetic memory that has allowed him to pass the bar exam without attending law school. Harvey Specter, one of Manhattan's best lawyers, hires Mike as his new associate. Due to the firm's policy of hiring only Harvard Law graduates, Mike is forced to pretend that he has gone to Harvard.

The show's tone is fairly light, similar to Burn Notice, Psych and Monk, with snappy dialogue and plenty of wisecracking. Also contains probably the first instance of the word "shit" appearing uncensored on USA.

Tropes used in Suits include:


  • Actor Allusion: In the start of 1x04 Mike worries that Louis knows about 'his dirty little secret', and Harvey jokingly comments "You're Canadian?". However, Patrick J. Adams, the actor who plays Mike, is, in fact, Canadian.
    • The name "Specter" for Harvey is a subtle nod to Gabriel Macht's role as The Spirit
  • Alma Mater Song: Mike nearly exposes himself when he can't recite Harvard's.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Louis Litt, most definitely.
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • The opposing counsel in the pilot.
    • Louis easily slips into this when he is trying to show that he is a better lawyer than Harvey (i.e. almost always)
    • This is zig-zagged with Harvey. He will often use questionable and underhanded tactics to win a case or close a deal. Next, he will also go out of his way to help out an innocent person even if it jeopardizes his case. Then we see that his 'crusades' are usually motivated by his ego and he is really just showing off how great a lawyer he is, no matter the consequences. However, he seems able to sacrifice his ego if the case is really important. We cannot be sure if he is a really good guy willing to use anything at his disposal to help others or if he just has a giant ego that won't let him accept anything but a 'perfect' outcome and all the good is just a side effect of that.
  • 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.

  • Anti-Villain: From the way the rest at the firm treat Louis he seems like a Type II
    • Louis is constantly made fun of, never given credit for, unlike Harvey, actually making the firm money and not damaging the firm's reputation. That is why when he was hurt when it seemed Harvey was taking credit, because Louis is never given credit
    • Even when the demand is reasonable, such as asking to be made a Senior partner for all the work he has done and for having to help out his nemesis. Jessica shoots him down instead.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Harvey Specter. He is the night. 'Harvey' also means 'battle worthy.' Appropriate for a lawyer of his class.
  • Battle of Wits: All the time.
  • Betty and Veronica: Mike must choose between Jenny (Betty) and Rachel (Veronica)
  • Big Brother Mentor: Harvey is certainly this to Mike.
  • Black Boss Lady: Jessica Pearson, Managing Partner.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The premise of the series hinges on Mike and Harvey convincing the rest of the firm that Mike really graduated from Harvard Law School.
    • 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.
  • Book Dumb: Not exactly, but we don't have 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 lack of intelligence or knowledge, but simple text anxiety. If only she had someone to take the test for her...
  • Brainy Brunette: Rachel, the best researcher at the firm.
  • 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 an extremely hard worker, regularly working through the night whenever it's required.
    • Both Mike and Harvey have aspects of this. Harvey will often try to get out of handling a case that bores him. However, they are both highly passionate about the law so working as lawyers on high profile cases usually averts this trope for them.
    • Harvey lampshades this when he calls out Mike on being a professional exam cheater. Even after being expelled from college, 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.
  • California Doubling: Averted as a lot of outdoor shots, the season 1 trailer and some scenes for season 2 are filmed on location in Midtown Manhattan, in and around the Citigroup Corporate Center on Lexington Ave. Check the evidence.
  • The Charmer: Harvey.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Zig-zagged even within the pilot alone. 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.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: It seems endemic among the firm, and the legal profession in general.
  • Cliff Hanger: The season finale ends with Trevor saying the Wham! Line example below.
  • 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.

  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.

  • 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.
  • Dirty Old Man: The CEO who harasses his secretaries in the pilot.
  • Divided We Fall: Harvey and Louis dislike each other so much that when they have to work together on a case, the case crashes and burns on them. 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.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Averted, mostly. Mike's friend is portrayed as a bad guy more for lying about dealing than for actually doing so.
  • 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 office grapevine soon spreads it around.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Harvey absolutely dominating a yelling, jerk businessman in his first appearance.
    • Mike uses his quick wit to escape a teacher who catches onto him.
    • Louis invites 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 that Louis is more of a Manipulative Bastard than full-on ruthless.
    • Donna's first moment comes when we find out that she regularly listens to Harvey's private conversations with his full approval.
      • Another moment comes when she uses a few fake tears to make Louis completely back down and apologize to her. Harvey then realizes that she used the same trick on him earlier and he fell for it as well.
      • Moments before the one above, Louis asks for Donna for two weeks as his assistant since his is going on a vacation. Harvey says no since Donna would never go for it. Louis, very confused, states that Harv is her boss and she'll do as he says. Harvey replies that actually, no, he never asks her to do stuff, she just does, implying that Harvey considers Donna equal to him and respects her highly and vice versa. This is subsequently reinforced and confirmed as not just Harvey but the entire firm considering Louis practially drools over having Donna as his assistant, Donna has access to the partner's kitchen, and has two personal office codes.
    • Rachel's is when Mike flatters her about being the best researcher in the firm in order to get her help, and he follows her to her office...which is an actual office with a view rather than cubicle. Turns out, she really is the best paralegal in the firm and gets treated better than the associates.
    • Mike gets a couple himself in the pilot. One is how he figures out the drop is a police trap, complete with Sherlock Scan. Another is when he impresses Harvey with his legal knowledge and recall during the "interview".
  • Eureka Moment: Mike in the pilot. Later on in that episode, he blackmails Harvey, who promptly turns around and blackmails his boss in the exact same fashion.
  • Even An Amoral Attorney 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.

  • Genre Deconstruction: Lawyer dramas. Most of the episodes cover corporate law: negotiations, contracts, mergers etc. rather than courtroom litigation. Harvey's stated goal is to avoid the courtroom.
  • 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.
  • 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, outtalk and outthink even Harvey on a daily basis (if she's in the mood to poke fun at him).

 Donna: (to Louis) Is it more important how I know... or that I know?

Louis: ...

  • Hello, Attorney!: Zoe cleans up nicely, as does Rachel, the paralegal. For the ladies[1], we have Mike and Harvey.
  • Heroic BSOD: Harvey when realises that the evidence his ex-boss buried led to an innocent man being imprisoned for 12 years.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Zoe Washburne runs a law firm.
  • Honor Before Reason: Harvey refuses to testify against an old boss of his even though it could get him disbarred. He knows that the guy is guilty but he still refuses.
  • Humble Hero: Harvey has shades of this as while he will gloat over his own genius, he will also give praise to whom it is due. Even Louis.
  • Hyper Awareness: Both Mike and Harvey, each in his own way.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Rachel and Donna, though both without the Pointy-Haired Boss typical of the trope. Both of them command a supremely high amount of respect within the firm. Especially for Donna who can make anyone up to Louis seemly tuck their tails between their legs and run away.
  • Idiot Ball: A recurring theme is that otherwise smart people will do really stupid things due to sheer arrogance.
    • Harvey hires Mike pretty much on a lark and really does not think through the potential consequences of lying to the rest of the firm.
    • 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 is 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. Harvey solves his problem in another way and then turns the judge in to the authorities, figuring the judge has a history of this kind of behaviour.
    • In the episode 'Identity Crisis' Louis keeps making screw-ups that nearly wreck the case.
    • As mentioned below, you'd think the guy with Photographic Memory could come up with a better password than "Ross999"
  • I Know You Know I Know: Plans tend to run two or three layers deep in this.
    • Also, 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.

  • 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.
  • Ironic Echo: Mike's grandmother refers to Trevor as an anchor in Mike's life. A few episodes later, Harvey refers to Trevor as an anchor in Mike's life as well.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • Harvey, to the point where his criteria for a new partner is "another me".
    • Louis, when it comes to financial crimes.
  • Jerkass: Louis.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Harvey.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Invoked when a Soapbox Sadie redirects some of her father's corporation's funds to a company called "Loxley[2], LLC". Lampshaded by Mike, naturally.
  • Location Doubling: Toronto doubles for NYC - a couple of scenes were in fact filmed at the Royal Fairmont Hotel in the city.
  • Love Triangle: Mike is torn between Jenny and Rachel, representing his old and new lives respectively.
  • 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.
  • Noodle Incident: When Donna references a certain date, Louis is panicked. Not to mention Harvey and Donna's pre-trial "thing."
  • 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.
  • Odd Couple: Wide-Eyed Idealist Mike contrasted with cynical, self-centered Amoral Attorney Harvey.
  • Oh Crap: Done by the IT department 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 instructs that if Mike gets even one comma wrong he loses. Mike agrees and instantly replies that document doesn't have any commas. Cue the Oh Crap look on his face when he realizes Mike is right.
  • Old Shame: Harvey never talks about his days working as a prosecutor in the DA's office and it is never 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.
  • The Omniscient: Donna knows pretty much everything that goes on in the office. Lampshaded.

 Donna: What's wrong?

Rachel: I don't want to talk about it.

Donna: Ah. Mike Ross.

Rachel: How do you know?

Donna: I'm Donna. I know.

  • Operation: Jealousy: Rachel asks Mike's Jerkass rival among the associates out on a double date with Mike and Jenny. Mike calls her out on her blatant attempt to make him jealous.
  • Photographic Memory: Mike, in the usual Hollywood version. It is suggested that Louis has one too, or at least, in regards to numbers.
  • 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.
  • Playful Hacker: The hacker in "Identity Crisis" steals money from her dad's company, making her come off as a Cracker initially, but actually turns out to be a pretty decent person. She stole the money because she hoped it would get her Dad's attention. She even does Mike a huge favor at the end.
  • Poisonous Friend: Donna is this to Harvey when he stubbornly refuses to testify against an old boss of his. She worked for the guy as well and has no qualms turning over evidence of the guy's illegal activities She is not going to let Harvey martyr himself for a guy who does not deserve it.
  • 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. And it may cost Mike, big time.
    • For that matter, what ever happened to Mike's grandmother?
  • Reality Subtext: The mock trial in "Play the Man" got very heated about Rachel's self-defeating tendencies.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Harvey dismisses Mike's worries that Louis might find out the truth about Mike by stating that Louis lacks the imagination to even consider doing something like that himself, so he would never think that someone else would be audacious enough to try it.
  • Rescue Introduction: Harvey and Mike meet this way when Harvey and Donna conspire to rescue Mike from the police chasing him in the pilot.
  • 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. (Harvey did no such thing--he's not like that.)
  • Running Gag: Mike arriving late on his bike and being accosted by Harvey just as he arrives outside.
  • Sassy Secretary: Donna
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Surprisingly Harvey. He has very strong rules about personal conduct as a lawyer. He won't perjure himself to win, but knows a lawyer who does will expect the same of him. He uses this fact against the lawyer to win his cases.
    • Likewise... even though Harvey tends to flex and flaunt rules in the law as well as within the firm, he expects much of Mike and expects Mike to follow the rules (at least until he is savvy enough to get around them) and also expects Mike to be respectful of client and firm alike.
  • Secret Keeper:
    • Harvey and Donna are both privy to the knowledge that Mike didn't attend Harvard, or indeed any law school. Jury's out on whether or not Rachel will keep Mike's secret that he took the LSATs for other people. And then there's Trevor.
    • Considering that Donna regularly listens in on Harvey's conversations (with his permission), she must be keeping a lot of his other secrets as well.
  • Sexy Mentor: Assuming Jessica has always looked as good as she does, she qualifies as one for Harvey in their past.
  • Sexy Secretary: Donna, again. Of course.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Par for the course in a legal series. 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.
  • Sherlock Scan: Mike does a mini one in the first episode, when he figures out that the hotel bellboy is a cop.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mike Ross and Rachel Zane.
    • Harvey is actually a big fan of captain Kirk and even names the The Kobayashi Maru scenario when giving Mike advice. He's 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.
  • Smug Snake: Louis, oh so very much.
  • Stern Teacher:
    • Louis says the associates describe him as a "disciplinarian". Which means 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".
    • Harvey as well. 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.
  • Taught By Experience: This is how Mike learns to be an attorney. And every good attorney learns from their previous cases as well.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Mike's password for his work computer is "Ross999" and is easily guessed by the other associates. This is extremely stupid thing to do for someone who can perfectly memorize entire books and would never forget even the longest and most convoluted passwords. Justified as Truth in Television, Rule of Funny and it just fits his characterization of Brilliant but Lazy. However, for such a seemingly sharp IT department to not have any controls in place that would prevent him from having a password less than 8 characters (a lax standard in a modern work environment) is more of an goof than Mike's password.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: 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.
  • Tranquil Fury: Both Harvey and Jessica have displayed this at times.
  • Two First Names: Mike Ross
  • 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. Donna even speculated he had Pearson-Hartman embroided underwear.
    • 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.
  • 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. Mike is amused that Harvey is a Trekkie.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Donna pulls out two ballet tickets out of a fancy blouse when trying to grease the wheels with Louis.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Pearson pulls a great one on Harvey and Louis.

  Harvey: If I win, I look good. If Louis wins, he looks good. Either way, you look good.

 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.

  • Walk and Talk: Something like 10 examples in the first episode alone.
    • Invoked by name in "Shelf Life"
  • Weak-Willed: After the Mock Trial Mike participated in, he is now viewed as weak willed by Jessica, Harvey and the other partners for failing to push the witness hard enough to win the case.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Louis will not give in for anyone or anything. Except American Ballet Theatre tickets.
  • 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."
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Mike.
  • 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.
  • Undercover As Lovers: Mike and Rachel in "Dirty Little Secrets," while scoping out an apartment building.
  • UST: Implied between Mike and his friend's girlfriend, and then later, with Rachel.
    • And now confirmed, since Mike has kissed the girlfriend and asked Rachel out.
  • 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.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Harvey has a strict rule never to sleep with married women. It does not stop married or engaged women wanting to sleep with him.
    • Harvey's old girlfriend Scotty is cheating on her fiancée by having a fling with Harvey, who was unaware she was getting married.
    • Jenny quickly realizes that Mike has feelings for Rachel and tells him to make a choice since she does not want another boyfriend who is going to lie to her.

Notes

  1. and a statistically significant portion of the gentlemen
  2. as in Robin of Loxley
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