This Is ‘Suits’ Best Character


The Big Picture

  • Suits is a clever and fast-paced series with pop culture references and celebrity name-drops, perfect for fans of smart and sophisticated shows.
  • The best character on the show is Donna Paulsen, played by Sarah Rafferty, who brings wit, intelligence, and loyalty to the firm.
  • Donna demands more for herself and knows her worth, making her a refreshing and empowering female character in a traditionally submissive role.

Suits is a cunning and sophisticated series full of pop culture references, celebrity name-drops, and fast-paced big-city living. The USA original spanned nine seasons, a feat for a law-based series, and has set streaming records since joining Netflix’s library. Fans old and new have been binging the show and loving every second of it. Following the lives of Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), Suits is set in Manhattan’s corporate law world. Harvey is a Senior Partner at the firm of Pearson Hardman and is looking for a Harvard graduate associate. Instead, he finds Mike, who is running from the police and carrying a briefcase full of weed. Where Mike lacks formal schooling, he makes up for it with insane intelligence and photographic memory. Harvey hires him against his firm’s prerequisites and their story starts here.

However, Harvey and Mike aren’t the shining stars of the show. It’s not even Rachel Zane, who is played by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. The best character on the show is none other than Donna Paulsen, played by Sarah Rafferty. She is not a lawyer but is such an integral part of the show and the firm that everyone is aware of her value. Donna has the brains and the brass, and she is never without a witty retort.


On the run from a drug deal gone bad, brilliant college dropout Mike Ross finds himself working with Harvey Specter, one of New York City’s best lawyers.

Release Date
June 23, 2011

Gabriel Macht, Amanda Schull, Rick Hoffman, Dule Hill, Katherine Heigl

Main Genre


Drama, Comedy



Aaron Korsh

Donna Paulsen Plays an Integral Role in Harvey’s Work Throughout ‘Suits’

Harvey Specter is one tough man to impress, but Donna Paulsen has done that effortlessly since the show’s inception. The level of trust that the two have for each other is such that most people will never experience it. Harvey actually allows Donna to constantly have an ear in the room of his office (via intercom) because they don’t lie to each other and have earned that right. During Suits Season 2, Donna proves her loyalty by losing her job for Harvey. To make it clear, as he states as well, Harvey never asked Donna to sacrifice her job for him, but she chose to because of how deeply she cares for him. By the end of the second season, Donna gets her job back at Harvey’s insistence — because the duo simply can’t be split up — and all is right in the firm again.

Harvey doesn’t always have the tact or emotional intelligence to deal with the public, and where he lacks, Donna fills in the gaps. Her incredible emotional intelligence and empathy allow her to read people and their intentions, which can sometimes be the final piece of the puzzle that Harvey needs to win a case.

Donna Constantly Demands More for Herself in ‘Suits’

Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen in Suits
Image via USA

Sarah Rafferty is in love with strong and capable women on television. During the series’ run, Rafferty told Daily News that when she read the script, she knew there was room for growth for the character of Donna. What makes Donna so special and helps her stand out in her role as Harvey’s secretary is that she knows and asks for more. Historically, on television, secretaries were docile women who did their superiors’ bidding and continued to play their part rather than ask for what they deserved. Donna loves her job but knows what she is worth. She even says so towards the end of Suits Season 6 when she tells Harvey that she wants more. As a woman, seeing Donna climb up the ranks throughout all nine seasons without riding the coattails of a man is a breath of fresh air. She is beautiful and knows it, but also knows that her capability to navigate tough situations and say “no” is just as powerful. There is always a sense of love connection between her and Harvey, but not making that a main plot theme allows Donna to shine as the intuitive queen that she is.

The ‘Suits’ Character Is Unapologetically Herself

Sarah Rafferty and Meghan Markle in Suits
Image via USA

During Suits Season 2, Donna tells Rachel, “You’re weird. We’ll be friends.” Corporate law and executives can be stuffy and rigid the majority of the time, especially in Suits‘ less-than-accurate depiction of this high-stakes world. Donna allows little breaks of dramatic flair and weirdness in between reciting legal jargon. Her scintillating banter with Harvey is never without a joke or two and Donna loves to tease him mercilessly. That’s what makes her lovable. She finds the little hot button and gently pushes them with love, but also is quick-witted enough to disarm any joke made towards her. She’s masterful at shifting the conversation away from her when she could be made fun of and somehow gets a zinger in. One of Donna’s shining moments is during a mock trial for the firm. She’s practicing her role as the grieving boss with a tarnished reputation, which she does so well that Mike actually thinks she’s crying for real. Within seconds, she’s able to turn it off, stop crying, and tell Mike to put his game face on for the mock trial. You would think that Donna doubles as an actress when she’s not on top of her game in front of Harvey’s office.

Donna Has Integrity Even When the Other ‘Suits’ Characters Don’t

Sarah Rafferty in Suits
Image via USA

One thing that stands out about Donna is her unwavering integrity. Pearson Hardman undergoes some major changes throughout the seasons (and not just the firm’s name, as they had about five different names before the Suits Season 9/series finale). The lawyers there tend to bend the rules a little when they know they can get away with it. Whenever Harvey is about to do something questionable, Donna will be the first to remind him of his moral code and speak her piece on the matter. Because of Harvey and Donna’s dynamic relationship and slow-burn romance, Harvey typically finds the light and is then thankful for Donna’s guidance in the direction of doing the right thing. She is unafraid to speak her truth, fully aware that taking shortcuts in their business will only lead to issues down the line. Truthfully, everyone could stand to channel their inner Donna when it comes to making tough decisions.

All in all, Suits is full of wonderful characters. Some we start out hating and find annoying or even completely hateable, but eventually their character arcs improve. Some characters we love in the beginning, but time shows their true colors, and they drop on our lists. However, Donna is a consistent character throughout the show that embodies the qualities a character should be. Without any major spoilers, Donna paves the way for a woman who diligently and honestly worked her way up through the ranks of success. She is indispensable as a part of Suits. Without Donna, Harvey wouldn’t be able to do what he does. Donna is it, which is why she is the series’ best character.

What Is in Store for ‘Suits’ Now?

If you haven’t seen the last episode of Suits Season 9, we won’t spoil it for you, but it’s something that most Donna fans are super happy about. It was serendipitous and totally expected if you have any sort of intuition. Now that Suits has ended though, what’s next? How will fans get their fill? Well, now we know there will be a Suits spin-off that takes place in LA! Aaron Korsh, the creator of Suits, will return to write the series, and it will take place during the same timeline as the original show. It is promised to have the same feel and energy, just in a different environment with different/new characters. Do we think there is any singular character that can capture the essence of Donna? Most likely not, but fans aren’t above giving it a shot. There is no set date yet for the spin-off, but speculations have been made for 2025.

Suits is streaming now on Peacock in the U.S.

Watch on Peacock


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