Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson’s days at the Los Angeles Police Department are numbered. TNT announced that its tentpole crime drama The Closer will come to a close after its seventh season, scheduled to premiere next fall and conclude in the early 2012.

According to the announcement, the final decision came down to none other than Kyra Sedgwick,  who has a producer credit for the series in addition to the lead role.

The Closer has been a critical and ratings success for TNT, ever since its debut in 2005. Its impressive mix of cop show action and character development allows it to reach across the gender gap, consistently setting viewership records for TNT and cable shows in general. Sedwick’s portrayal of Brenda Johnson has earned her dozens of TV award nominations and an Emmy win in 2007. She was quoted in the network’s statement:

“I cannot fathom how difficult it will be to say goodbye to the incredible family we’ve created on The Closer… I want to thank TNT and Warner Bros. Television, as well as the incredible fans of THE CLOSER, for all of their unwavering support over the last seven years.”

The show has distinguished itself in a field crowded with paint-by-numbers crime procedurals. While it doesn’t stray too far from the heart of similar cop shows like Law & Order: SVU, the real draw has been the series’ focus on its ensemble of characters. The pilot episode established Johnson as both a feminine fish-out-of-water transferring from the Atlanta Police Department to LA, and a hold-no-punches grande dame in investigations and interrogations.

Johnson’s relationship with her high-profile investigative squad and Assistant Chief Pope (played by J.K. Simmons of Spider-Man and Law & Order fame) receive almost as much attention as the prerequisite murder of the week. Other highlights include series-long love interest, FBI agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney, to be seen in Green Lantern), and on-again, off-again antagonist Captain Raynor (Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica).

As a big fan of the series, I’m happy to hear that it’s ending. That may sound strange, but hear me out: too many great shows are either canned prematurely (Terriers and Lone Star were some lamentable casualties this year) or forced to go on long past their peak until they stagnate. Scrubs, Stargate  SG-1 and Law & Order: SVU all fall into this category, in my opinion, having become pale imitations of what made the shows great in their best seasons, usually the third or fourth.

I’m always pleased when producers realize that their show has had an excellent run and choose to end on a high note on their own terms. Lost and Battlestar Galactica probably could have continued for at least three more seasons each, but instead wrapped up and delivered  complete, satisfying series (though the Lost finale is certainly debatable). I applaud TNT and Kyra Sedgwick for having the foresight and decisiveness to give a great show a proper conclusion.

The Closer is currently wrapping up its sixth season, and airs Mondays at 9 on TNT.