It wasn't that long ago that Meghan Markle was no one, a middling character on a show people had vaguely heard of on a network that mostly makes pop culture news for other series. Now she's getting married to the World's Most Eligible Bachelor, Prince Harry, and making history as our first American U.K. royal. But that leaves fans curious about her previous career. What Meghan Markle shows are there to watch to get an idea of who she was on screen before she became a real life character in one of the longest ongoing family sagas on the United Kingdom?
I don't know how to say this politely, but there's just not that much. Markle may be thought of as our 21st Century Grace Kelly (who left acting to become Princess of Monaco). But Grace Kelly was A-list star, a multi-Golden Globe winner, and Academy Award winner for Best Actress. Until Suits came along on USA Networks, Markle was a mostly struggling actress, with a long line of either failed reboots or bit parts.
She had single episode appearances on soap operas like General Hospital, or roles so small she's listed as "Hot Girl." It wasn't until 2011, when Suits came out, that she started to find her way into TV movies like The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down or Hallmark Channel films like When Sparks Fly.
So what shows can you see her in? Let's run down five of them.
1. 90210 Reboot
Back in 2008, The CW decided to reboot one of the most famous teen soaps on the 1990s, 90210, in hopes that a new version of the story would bring in a new generation of viewers.
Markle hoped it would launch her career, too. She starred in a two-episode cameo arc, playing Wendy in the pilot "The Jet Set" and "We're Not in Kansas Anymore." She certainly made a splash, simulating oral sex on screen. (Or well, slightly off screen. This is broadcast.)
It didn't work. The character wasn't picked up past those episodes, and the show fizzled quickly.
One of Markle's more substantial roles was in 2009, when she appeared as an FBI agent in the show Fringe at the beginning of their second season, just before things begin to really go off the deep end and get weird in the parallel universes that made up the story. She played Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup in the episodes "Night of Desirable Objects" and "A New Day in the Old Town."
Jessup came on strong, and fans thought this might be a new secondary character for the series going forward. But the writers decided to go in a different direction, and though they suggested Jessup might return later, she never did.
3. CSI Miami
Another bit part for Markle, she did an episode of the very popular CSI Miami. At this point, the show was long and well established, having been on the air since 2002. During the eighth season, Markle turned up as a cop, Officer Leah Montoya, who is also a smoke inhalation victim in the episode "Backfire."
It's not exactly a big part. She's the cop who runs in after the stars of the show do and gets left behind while they do all the glorious rescuing. But hey, she gets saved by David Caruso, so it's not a total wash.
Once Markle became a known quantity on Suits, USA Network's other shows were more amenable to casting her in the occasional one-off role. Her most notable was on the surprise hit series Castle, where she played Murderess of the Week Charlotte Boyd aka "Sleeping Beauty" in the episode "Once Upon a Crime." (Spoiler alert, she's the killer.)
To be fair, she didn't mean to be a killer. Her first victim was an accident. But you know what they say about getting a taste for blood...
In the end, there's really only one show you have to watch more than one or two episodes of, and that's Suits, where Markle played Rachel Zane for the first seven seasons, a senior paralegal and the love interest of not-actually legally-a-lawyer Mike Ross, and later, his fiancée.
Ross, played by Patrick J. Adams, is the real star of the series, the boy genius lawyer who skates by despite never having passed the bar. His will-they-or-won't-they romance with Markle is one of the main plot points of the show from the first season. They get engaged in Season 4 and almost get married in Season 5. Instead, Ross goes to prison for his ongoing fraud, and Zane passes the bar, becomes an attorney herself, and leaves the show for better career prospects.