Ally McBeal is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comedy drama set in the Boston law firm of Cage and Fish. The series made Calista Flockhart a Hollywood star and helped to cement creator David E. Kelley’s reputation as a television hit-maker. Over five seasons and 112 episodes the series was nominated for 114 awards and won 42 including a Peabody four Golden Globes and numerous Emmy awards. Ally McBeal debuted September 8, 1997, the finale aired May 20, 2002, and now you can stream Ally McBeal online. Though seasons 1, 2, and 4 are the highest in critical acclaim, the entire series received high ratings and the series would be a Top 20 performing series throughout its original run. The series also included a handful of crossover episodes with Kelley’s other hit legal drama, The Practice. In addition to Flockhart, it starred Robert Downey, Jr., Courtney Thorne-Smith, and Jane Krakowski.
This is your guide to watch Ally McBeal streaming online:
How to Watch Ally McBeal Online & Stream the Complete Series
Among all the streaming services, Hulu has exclusive rights to every episode of Ally McBeal. There are a couple different options when signing up for Hulu, but either one will get you access to the show’s complete library:
If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
If you want to go from watching Hulu’s on-demand library to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
After signing up for either of the above options, you can watch any episode of Ally McBeal on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many Ally McBeal Seasons Are There?
There are five seasons and 112 episodes of Ally McBeal airing originally from September 8, 1997 – May 20, 2022. The series centers on lawyer Ally and her on-going quest to find love and fulfillment. Here is a season breakdown of Ally McBeal:
Ally McBeal Season 1
23 episodes | September 8, 1997 – May 18, 1998
Ally, who has gone into law to be close to her childhood boyfriend, awakes on the sofa of her best friend from law school as a recently fired lawyer. Another friend from law school offers her a job. Ally is asked to give a eulogy for one of her law professors, she butts heads with a rabbi, and learns her childhood boyfriend – and his wife – are also working at her new firm.
Ally McBeal Season 2
23 episodes | September 14, 1998 – May 24, 1999
Billy and Georgia try to spice up their sex life, Ally meets a boy who wants to sue God because he has leukemia, George learns that Ally and Billy kissed, Elaine tries to use infomercials to sell her new bra. The firm hires Nelle, whom all the women hate on sight.
Ally McBeal Season 3
21 episodes | October 25, 1999 – May 22, 2000
Ally is supposed to be her client’s bridesmaid but she inadvertently has sex with the groom first, Billy joins a self-help group and Georgia kisses another man. Billy and Cage represent a woman who says the staff of a magazine are keeping her from being published, Elaine wants to keep a baby found in a nativity scene. Ally and Billy have dinner with her parents and Hope wonders if leaving the firm was a mistake.
Ally McBeal Season 4
23 episodes | October 12, 2000 – May 21, 2001
Brian asks Ally to move in, which leads her to go to therapy. She inadvertently tells a lawyer – whom she thinks is the therapist – about her issues. They begin dating, Ling and Nelle represent a woman suing a relationship guru. Richard and John go to LA on vacation, and Ally talks to several therapists to get over Larry. Billy dies and Ally has hallucinations about him.
Ally McBeal Season 5
22 episodes | October 29, 2001 – May 20, 2002
Ally makes an infomercial using Ling’s crew, Ally and Glenn flirt, and Jenny’s mom is fired. Ally’s long-lost daughter appears on the scene, Ally defends a minister who doesn’t believe in God, and Ally strikes up a new relationship with Victor.
What Are the Best Ally McBeal Episodes?
Over the course of the series, Ally McBeal was nominated for 114 awards. It would win 42 including three Golden Globes and numerous Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards. The fifth, and final, season was the only season which was not nominated for an award. Here are some of the best Ally McBeal episodes:
Season 3, Episode 21 “The Musical”
This episode won a Motion Picture Sound Editors award for Best Sound Editing; it was nominated for an Outstanding Directing Emmy and for an American Society of Cinematographers award for Outstanding Achievement.
Season 5, Episode 20 “Reality Bites”
Elaine auditions for A Chorus Line, Richard’s father is sued by his secretary. This episode was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography.
Season 2, Episode 22 “Love’s Illusions”
Ally has strange dreams about her childhood as she works on a case between a couple fighting over the wife’s love letters to an imaginary man. Ling and Richard move their relationship forward. This episode won an Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing.
Season 1, Episode 10 “Boy to the World”
Ally takes the case of a transgender sex worker who is charged with solicitation; she later gets the girl a job at the firm. This episode won an Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing. It was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Art Direction.
Season 3, Episode 1 “The Car Wash”
Ally has sex with a stranger at a car wash, then learns he is the fiancé of her new client, for whom she is supposed to be a bridesmaid. Renee and Whipper open their new firm. This episode won an Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing, and an American Cinema Editors award for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television. It was also nominated for a Motion Picture Sound Editors award.
Who Are the Actors in the Ally McBeal Cast?
The ensemble cast of Ally McBeal centered around Calista Flockhart, and included stars like Courtney Thorne-Smith, Greg Germann, and Portia de Rossi. Here are the actors remembered for their starring roles on Ally McBeal
Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal
Ally is a lawyer in a Boston law firm with a complicated love life. Calista Flockhart is best known for the title role in Ally McBeal, for which she won a Golden Globe, a People’s Choice Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Ally was her breakout role; she would go on to star in the series Brothers and Sisters and Full Circle.
Jane Krakowski as Elaine Vassal
Elaine is Ally’s sexy assistant, though they have a rocky start they become good friends. Jane Krakowski is a veteran actress who is best known for her role in Ally McBeal. In addition, she has starred in 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Greg Germann as Richard Fish
Richard is one of the founding partners of the Cage and Fish law firm where Ally works. Greg Germann is a veteran character actor. Since starring in Ally McBeal, he has gone on to star in the series Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU, and Once Upon A Time.
Peter MacNicol as John Cage
John is Ally’s friend from law school who offers her a job. Peter MacNicol is an veteran actor and director who has starred in many hit series including Chicago Hope, Numb3rs, 24, and Ally McBeal.
Courtney Thorne-Smith as Georgia Thomas
Georgie is Billy’s wife; she has a rocky relationship with Ally because of Ally’s on-going love for Billy. Courtney Thorne-Smith is an award-winning actress and producer who is best known for her roles in the David E. Kelley hits Melrose Place and Ally McBeal.
Portia de Rossi as Nelle Porter
Nelle is envied by the other women at Cage and Fish; she dates John for a while. Portia de Rossi is an award-winning actress who is best known for her roles in Ally McBeal and Arrested Development.
Lucy Liu as Ling Woo
Ling is a ferocious lawyer who becomes a judge in the series. Her role on Ally McBeal served as Lucy Liu’s breakout role; since the series she has starred in the film franchises Kill Bill and Charlie’s Angels as well as the hit series Elementary.
Gil Bellows as Billy Allen Thomas
Billy is Ally’s college love and the reason she went to law school. He is married to Georgia but has an affair with Ally. Gil Bellows is best known for his role in the series. Since McBeal wrapped, he has appeared in Eyewitness and Patriot.
Lisa Nicole Carson as Renee Raddick
Renee is Ally’s friend from college and her original roommate in the series. Lisa Nicole Carson is best known this series. She also appeared in ER and The New Edition Story.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on Ally McBeal?
The list of guest stars on Ally McBeal include Hollywood and Broadway actors, musicians, and singers. These include Mariah Carey, Jon Bon Jovi, Taye Diggs, and even Farah Fawcett. Here are the actors remembered for their guest starring roles on Ally McBeal
Robert Downey, Jr as Larry Paul
Larry Paul is a lawyer who becomes Ally’s love interest and soul mate, though he moves away to be closer to his son. Robert Downey, Jr. is an award-winning actor and producer who has struggled with addiction throughout his career. His most notable roles are in Chaplin, Sherlock Holmes, and the Iron Man and Avengers franchises.
Vonda Shepard as Herself
Vonda Shepard made cameo appearances as herself throughout the series, singing in bars the lawyers would frequent. Shepard is an award-winning musician and actress who sang the theme song, Searchin’ My Soul, for the series; her other hits include the duet Can’t We Try and holiday hit Waitin’ For the Man with the Bag.
James LeGros as Mark Albert
James LeGros is a veteran actor who is best known for his roles in Drugstore Cowboy and Mildred Pierce. He appeared in several episodes of Ally McBeal as Mark.
Hayden Panetierre as Maddie Harrington
Hayden Panetierre played Ally’s daughter, whom she didn’t know about because of an egg donation mix-up. Panettiere is best known for her roles in the films Remember the Titans and Raising Helen and the hit series Nashville.
Matthew Perry as Todd Merrick
Todd is a lawyer who opposes Ally and reminds her a lot of her ex, Larry Paul. Matthew Perry is best known as Chandler from the hit sit-com Friends. He has also appeared in the films Fools Rush In, The Whole Nine Yards, and The Odd Couple sit-com.
Justin Theroux as Raymond Brown
Raymond is Ally’s love interest, but they just can’t make things work. Justin Theroux is a well-known actor, writer, and producer. His most famous roles include Mulholland Drive, The Girl on the Train, and American Psycho.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind Ally McBeal?
Ally McBeal was created by famed television producer David E. Kelley as part of his deal with the FOX network to create a series of shows. The series would crossover with Kelley’s other legal series The Practice; both series were set in Boston. Here are the producers and writers remembered for their part in Ally McBeal:
David E. Kelley: Ally McBeal, Creator, Executive Producer, Writer
David E. Kelley is an award-winning writer and producer; he has won 11 Emmys so far in his career, including an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series for Ally McBeal. He would write 100 of the series episodes. His other notable series include LA Law, Picket Fences, and Big Little Lies.
Steve Robin: Ally McBeal, Producer
Steve Robin is an award-winning producer and director in Hollywood; his best known series include Ally McBeal, Picket Fences, and Boston Legal. He won an Emmy and an International Monitor Award for his part in the production of Ally McBeal.
Pamela J. Wisne: Ally McBeal, Producer
Pamela Wisne is a three-time Emmy winning producer and writer who is best known for her contributions to Boston Public, LA Law, and Ally McBeal.
Bill D’Elia: Ally McBeal, Producer, Director
Bill D’Elia is a veteran director, producer, and writer. He would serve as a producer throughout much of Ally McBeal and would also direct 8 episodes. His other notable series include Chicago Hope, How to Get Away With Murder, and Boston Legal.
Where Ally McBeal Ranks in the Television Pantheon
Ally McBeal debuted on the FOX network as part of a David E. Kelley deal: both FOX and ABC had contracted Kelley to create new series and each had the right of first refusal should the other network pass on a project. FOX picked up McBeal while ABC picked up Kelley’s other, more serious, legal drama, The Practice. The series would crossover from time to time. Ally McBeal would also become a star-making vehicle for actresses Calista Flockhart, Lucy Liu, and Portia de Rossi, among other series regulars.
Throughout the series run the show held high ratings, and won many awards including four Golden Globes, 7 Emmys, and 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards. The show as also listed among Entertainment Weekly’s New Classics TV Shows in 2007, and landed on the Hollywood Reporters list of the 100 Best TV Shows Ever. The character of Ally was also listed in several “best of” lists including Bravo’s 100 Greatest TV Characters and Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years. It won a Peabody Award in 1999.