ByStephen Patterson, writer at Creators.co
Verified writer at Movie Pilot. Follow me on twitter: @mr_sjpatterson
Stephen Patterson

Ally McBeal danced its way into our hearts quicker than a dancing baby back in 1997, and left us with many memories in the process. The legal dramedy turns 20 this week and we're looking back at the show's legacy, remembering the reasons why it was such a hit with viewers. The Fox series won several awards including an Emmy for Best Comedy Series and made a star out of Calista Flockhart, who would go on to win a Golden Globe Award for her performance as the quirky Ally.

While fans often cling to the memories of dancing babies and bathroom dance sequences, I noticed something else rather striking about the series during a recent binge-watch: Many of the cast members of (which consisted of so many people across the show's five year run that the opening credits were adjusted at least twice a season) would go on to achieve mainstream success either in and related projects.

Whether they're playing a superhero or playing a role in superhero-related media, many of the future appeared in David E. Kelley's legal drama years before they started saving the world. Hadn't noticed this before? No problem, let's take a look.

1. Calista Flockhart

[Credit: Fox/CBS]
[Credit: Fox/CBS]

Its no wonder that Ally McBeal was the breeding ground for future superheroes when its leading lady herself is Supergirl's role model. Calista Flockhart will always be known for her award winning performance as the quirky lawyer in the hit '90s show, but the actress was once again thrust into the limelight when she donned the Louboutins to become Supergirl's sassy boss Cat Grant on the hit CBS TV series.

Clearly inspired by Ally, Cat Grant takes no prisoners and says exactly what she thinks and, as a result, she has won the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Flockhart, who resides in Los Angeles, was forced to leave the show as a regular when production moved to Vancouver, but she remains on in a recurring capacity.

2. Robert Downey Jr.

[Credit: Fox/Marvel]
[Credit: Fox/Marvel]

Before he was saving Spider-Man's ass as in the , The man behind Tony Stark was busy on Ally McBeal, loving it up with Ally herself. Robert Downey Jr. was introduced during Ally's fourth season in an attempt to rejuvenate interest in the once popular series and, spoiler alert, it worked.

Fans flocked to their TV screens to see Downey's character, Larry Paul begin a whirlwind romance with Ally. Unfortunately, their love was not meant to be. Or maybe it was and we simply robbed of seeing it: Downey was having personal and legal issues at the time and, as a result, Kelley was forced to write Downey out of the series (not before he delivered some spine-tingling musical performances, including one alongside Sting). We don't care what anyone says: Cat Grant and Iron Man forever.

3. James Marsden

[Credit: Fox/20th Century Fox]
[Credit: Fox/20th Century Fox]

James Marsden is known for his performance as the loveable Scott Summers a.k.a Cyclops in Bryan Singer's franchise but, following his appearance in the first X-Men film, Marsden was a regular on Ally McBeal's fifth season. Playing Glenn Foy, Marsden was introduced was part of a revamp for Ally's final season. Glenn embarked on a very brief romance with Ally before his character was written out after only thirteen episodes, presumably in a bid to focus on the original characters after Kelley learned the show wasn't going to be renewed.

4. Jesse L. Martin

[Credit: Fox/The CW]
[Credit: Fox/The CW]

Calista Flockhart isn't the only cast member to go on to The CW's Arrow-verse programming following Ally McBeal, Jesse L. Martin currently starts as Detective Joe West on . Martin appeared in a recurring role in Ally McBeal's first season, playing Dr. Greg Butters. Greg captured Ally's heart and it was arguably the first time viewers saw the show's protagonist in a serious relationship. After their relationship ended, Martin reprised his role in one episode of Season 2 when Ally visits a patient in the hospital.

5. Famke Jansen

[Credit: Fox/20th Century Fox]
[Credit: Fox/20th Century Fox]

Famke Jansen starred in one episode of Ally McBeal during Season 4, playing Larry's (yes, that's Robert Downey Jr) ex girlfriend, who showed up in Boston in the hopes of stealing Ally's man. If we take into account their superhero alter-egos, then that means Jean Grey was after Iron Man who was dating Cat Grant. Talk about a love triangle for the ages!

6. Gil Bellows

[Credit: Fox/The WB]
[Credit: Fox/The WB]

Gil Bellows is best known for playing Ally's childhood sweetheart, Billy Thomas, on the classic Fox dramedy. The actor was a series regular on Ally's first three seasons and then made recurring appearances during the final two.

After he left Ally, Bellows would assume the role of the villainous Maxwell Lord on The WB hit series Smallville. Coincidentally, the character of Maxwell Lord has recently appeared on Supergirl (played by Peter Facinelli) and had several scenes with Calista Flockhart's Cat Grant.

Ally McBeal left quite a legacy in its wake, from dancing babies to the discussion over what it means to be a female role model, but who knew that it was also the playground for some of DC and Marvel's biggest stars? In all honesty, we shouldn't be that surprised — Ally McBeal was pretty special herself and the character paved the way for many more female driven television series and movies. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty super-heroic to me!

Did you notice any other superheroes in Ally McBeal? Tell us in the comment section below.

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