‘Bull’: How Dr. Phil Was a Major Inspiration for the Show

by Maria Hartfield

CBS series Bull starring Michael Weatherly draws its main inspiration from well-known mental health professional, Dr. Phil McGraw. The series centers around Weatherly’s character, Dr. Jason Bull, a psychologist expert who leads a Trial Analysis Corporation. The organization is responsible for working with defendants to find jury members who may be sympathetic towards them.

The legal drama debuted on September 20, 2016, running for a total of 6 seasons. CBS confirmed season 6 will be the show’s final season ending in May 2022.

The official CBS synopsis reads: “Bull stars Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason Bull in a drama inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, the founder of one of the most prolific trial-consulting firms of all time. Brilliant, brash, and charming, Dr. Bull is the ultimate puppet master as he combines psychology, human intuition, and high-tech data to learn what makes jurors, attorneys, witnesses, and the accused tick. His personal life proves harder to manage as he tries to live a healthier lifestyle following a heart attack and learns he is expecting a child with his ex-wife. Bull employs an enviable team of experts at Trial Analysis Corporation to shape successful narratives down to the very last detail… In high-stakes trials, Bull’s combination of remarkable insight into human nature, three Ph.D.’s, and a top-notch staff create winning strategies that tip the scales of justice in his clients’ favor.”

Obviously, all television series and feature films get the idea for their narratives from somewhere. However, not many would have guessed Dr. Phil McGraw, also known as Dr. Phil would eventually prompt the creation of a procedural series such as Bull.

Dr. Phil also serves as an Executive Producer on Bull

Prior to the series premiere, Dr. Phil opened up about the show in a Televisions Critics Association panel. According to Deadline, Dr. Phil told critics that Bull wasn’t a real representation of his life before his rise to fame, but instead, the series used his life as the base for which to tell its stories.

“I like the way the show tracks how we did the right thing and tried to take the higher moral ground in these cases. We kept the moral compass. Sometimes the law doesn’t always get it right,” said Dr. Phil. He continued saying, “We didn’t always get to pick our clients. But there were two types of people we wouldn’t represent: child molesters and drug dealers. Aside from that, we fought best for our clients.”

Actor Michael Weatherly met with Dr. Phil before his work on the series. Weatherly admits he was a bit nervous to meet the famed psychologist given his ability to read body language. Although the two have met previously, Weatherly said he was still self-conscious speaking with Dr. Phil before playing Dr. Jason Bull on the show.