The Defenders (1961–1965)

TV Series  |   |  Drama
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 236 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 1 critic

A Father-Son lawyer duo take a variety of cases that often deal with the important issues of the day.


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4   3   2   1  
1965   1964   1963   1962   1961  
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
 Lawrence Preston (132 episodes, 1961-1965)
 Kenneth Preston (132 episodes, 1961-1965)


Recent law school graduate (Robert Reed) joins his father (E.G. Marshall) as the pair tackle challenging legal cases, often involving issues which were highly touchy for the times (abortion, euthanasia, "un-American" activities, movie censorship). In most the freshly minted lawyer has much to learn from his father's extensive legal experience. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

law | courtroom | See All (2) »


Tense drama in and out of court in the noted series with E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed.







Release Date:

16 September 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los defensores  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(132 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The characters first appeared in an episode of Studio One in Hollywood (1948), when they were played by Ralph Bellamy and William Shatner. See more »


Referenced in Gilligan's Island: Plant You Now, Dig You Later (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

The Defenders: The reason I became a lawyer
14 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This landmark TV series (1961-65) was years ahead of its time. It correlated many contemporary stories from the headlines and did so with uncompromising depth. The protagonist attorneys (The late E.G. Marshall, Robert Reed) lost nearly as many cases as they won, because the series focused on controversial social issues where there were no easy answers or solutions. This was reflected in the outcome of some episodes. The issues included abortion; euthanasia; capital punishment; censorship; blacklisting; criminal insanity; Nazis; cannibalism; and a variation of what is currently called "road rage." The first listed, "The Benefactor," was a compelling episode about abortion, years before it was legal. The last, "Death On Wheels," involved an enraged motorist who accidentally killed a pedestrian after a heated argument with his wife. A shocking case was the one about cannibalism. Two men were accused of murdering and literally devouring another man when they were all cast adrift in a lifeboat in the ocean. An unusual episode, "Mind Over Murder" involved a clairvoyant accused of murder based on ESP. The defendant's background was loosely parallel to the late psychic, Peter Hurkos.

The Defenders theme song coupled with an aerial view of the courthouses in Foley Square, New York City, were presented with the onset of each episode. Immediately before the theme, the viewer saw the actual crime being committed when possible, which was graphically realistic and sometimes unnerving. The lawyers then often interviewed their clients in a simulated version of "The Tombs," an archaic NYC jail. The late E.G. Marshall portrayed the lead attorney, Lawrence Preston, with flawless acting that was in a class by itself. Indeed, he was so convincing that it was difficult for me to think of him thereafter as anyone else. The style and integrity he displayed in The Defenders inspired my interest in the law and was one of the initial reasons I became a lawyer.

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