The Good Wife seasons ranked from worst to best

Here at Hidden Remote, in honor of the spin-off Elsbeth, starring Carrie Preston, we rank every season of the hit CBS series The Good Wife! The following article does contain significant spoilers if you have not watched the acclaimed series.

Jan 30, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Julianna Margulies arrives on the red carpet before the 22nd
Jan 30, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Julianna Margulies arrives on the red carpet before the 22nd / Dan MacMedan/USA TODAY NETWORK
facebooktwitterreddit

When The Good Wife signed off in 2016, that event may have signaled the end of the great network drama. The series initially garnered Emmy nominations for Best Drama Series. However, at its critical and commercial height, pundits began claiming it was the best drama on network television. Even comparing the landmark episode, "Hitting the Fan," as good as anything on cable or streaming.

The Michelle and Robert King series has now spawned two spinoffs: the critically acclaimed Christine Baranski Paramount+ streaming drama The Good Fight and the upcoming CBS network drama Elsbeth, starring Carrie Preston. Yes, The Good Wife Universe (I'm trying to make the term "TGWU" a thing) is expanding, and in honor of that, we rank all seven seasons of the flagship series The Good Wife. Enjoy!

7. The Good Wife season 7

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 91% (44 reviews), Audience 79% (100+ reviews)

The final season of The Good Wife found Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) at a personal and professional crossroads. Now, she's working as a disgraced public defender after losing her run for district attorney and her partnership. The series also introduced Cush Jumbo, who plays her new colleague and friend, Lucca Quinn, who would star in The Good Fight.

Season 7 has an arc for Margulies that finds her character hitting a new low and living up to the drama's title. The season is also marked by a new legal battle over her governor husband, Peter (Christopher Noth), and as we all know, in this Chicago, a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. Not to mention, we will never forgive Peter for removing Eli as his Chief of Staff.

IMDB Top Rated Episodes: None

6. The Good Wife season 1

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 94% (35 reviews), Audience 86% (100+ reviews)

The initial season has Alicia Florrick being publicly humiliated as her husband, Peter, the Cook County State’s District Attorney, is in prison waiting for trial for charges of political corruption and a lurid sex scandal. Now, Mrs. Florrick returns to the workforce as a junior defense attorney in the firm of her old college friend Will Gardner (Josh Charles).

The series initially settles into an episodic case each week, where Mrs. Florrick is set on proving herself as she competes with Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) for the final spot at the firm. At the same time, The Good Wife works on the mystery of who was responsible for putting Peter behind bars. It's a thrilling, suspenseful, and funny episodic procedural, ending with Will leaving a message for Alicia on her cell phone that he loves her.

IMDB Top Rated Episodes: "The Pilot"

5. The Good Wife season 6

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 94% (44 reviews), Audience 79% (100+ reviews)

In season 6 of The Good Wife, Alicia is now contemplating a run for the state's attorney. As the story progresses, Mrs. Florrick gets a rude awakening regarding the cutthroat world of Chicago politics and law. This marks the season of ratings cratering for The Good Wife, with most fans unable to get over the tragic death of Will Gardner.

Even though the series had a hard time dealing with Josh Charles's decision to leave the series, you cannot argue the season's unpredictability. The writing was as sharp as ever, the characters were relatable and complex, and the production value was off the charts.

IMDB Top Rated Episodes: "Oppo Research" and "Hail Mary"

4. The Good Wife season 3

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 96% (23 reviews), Audience 93% (100+ reviews)

The third season of The Good Wife continues to delve into its legendary characters, intriguing political campaign, and unresolved tensions between Alicia and Will, which only add meaningful layers that, if left in the wrong hands, would have been sensational instead of down to earth and melancholy.

And it's time we talk about Christine Baranski's turn as Diane Lockhart. Baranski's elegant, strong, and powerful performance also brings a startling amount of comic relief. Diane Lockhart is one of the most significant supporting female characters that network television has ever produced.

IMDB Top Rated Episodes: "Another Ham Sandwhich"

3. The Good Wife season 4

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 96% (24 reviews), Audience 93% (100+ reviews)

This is the season where The Good Wife began graduating from addictive procedural to full blown greatness. The series fully embraces that the law is not defending the needy, but it's a business that demands countless lawsuits against corporations and the uber rich to keep the doors open.

The characters like Will and Diane live in a morally ambiguous gray area that law shows have never done before with such attention to three-dimensional detail. With excellent guest stars like Carrie Preston, Brian Denahy, Nathan Lane, Dylan Baker, and Michael J. Fox in one of the series' best episodes, "Boom De Yah Da," the fourth chapter is a wonderful season.

IMDB Top Rated Episodes: "Red Team, Blue Team"

2. The Good Wife season 2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 96% (26 reviews), Audience 95% (100+ reviews)

The second season of The Good Wife stands out as a fan favorite, marked by a captivating conclusion that sees the long-simmering romance between Will and Alicia make progress. The moment finally came to fruition in the season finale titled, "Closing Arguements," and resonated deeply with viewers.

There was an added layer of emotional complexity to this season, elevating it to new heights of popularity. However, the King's know how to play with the viewer's emotions, as it is revealed that Alicia's best friend Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) was one of the women Peter slept with before his corruption charges.

IMDB Top Rated Episodes: "Nine Hours"

1. The Good Wife season 5

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 100% (25 reviews), Audience 95% (100+ reviews)

The Good Wife's fifth season is its finest and one of the decade's best. Very rarely can series reinvent themselves, but CBS dramas did by blowing up what fans loved the most: the "will they or won't they" relationship between Alicia Florrick and Will Gardner. This was sparked by Charles refusing to re-up after four seasons but being convinced to return for a brutal and devastating send-off.

In the episode "Dramatics Your Honor," Charles's Will Gardner, perhaps in a way to reach out to Alicia, took on her former client on a murder charge. That client was able to take a gun off a bailiff and fatally shot Will in the neck. The season represented a new peak in network television procedurals that has not been matched since.

IMDB Top Rated Episodes: "Hitting the Fan," The Decision Tree," "Dramatics Your Honor," "The Last Call," and "A Weird Year."

All seven seasons of The Good Wife are available to stream on Paramount+.

feed