Major Crimes made the shocking decision to kill off its main character Sharon Raydor a few episodes before the show ended. TNT's Major Crimes is a spinoff of The Closer, which starred Kyra Sedgwick and J.K. Simmons. The Closer revolved around Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Sedgwick) who is dubbed a 'closer' thanks to her talent for interrogation and getting a confession out of suspects.
The Closer was a ratings winner for TNT thanks to its large ensemble cast and excellent writing. Mary McDonnell (Independence Day) joined The Closer during its fifth season as Captain Sharon Raydor, who initially clashed with Johnson but the two eventually came to respect one another. When The Closer ended after seven seasons in 2012, Raydor earned her own series with Major Crimes. Just like its predecessor the show was a strong performer, meaning it came as something of a surprise when TNT canceled the show after six seasons.
The character of Sharon Raydor came to attract a loyal fanbase over the course of both The Closer and Major Crimes, so it was a shock that not only did she die in the final season, but her demise came four episodes before the finale. Season 6 established Raydor was having heart issues and she's later diagnosed with a heart condition during the episode "Sanctuary City: Part 4." She nearly calls off her wedding to detective Andy Flynn (Tony Denison, Prison Break) as a result, but ultimately goes through with the ceremony.
Sharon continued to suffer from her condition, but in Major Crimes episode 9 "Conspiracy Theory: Part 4," she collapses while interrogating a suspect and is rushed to the hospital. A doctor later announces her death and while fans hoped this ending was some kind of elaborate fake-out to trick Phillip Stroh (Billy Burke, Twilight) - a longtime villain on the show - that proved not to be the case. Raydor was buried in the next episode while the team focused on taking down Stroh once and for all.
Many fans were angered by Sharon Raydor's sudden death and Mary McDonnell's name being removed from the credits of the remaining episodes. Creator James Duff (Star Trek: Picard) will later reveal her death was designed to linger over the team in the last episodes and to give the show a sense of closure. He also felt that if Sharon's death had happened in Major Crimes final episode it would have been a dark way to close out the series. Raydor died a little earlier to give viewers and the other characters a chance to mourn both her and the end of the show.