After a six season run and over 100 episodes, TNT’s procedural drama Major Crimes has concluded its final case.
With more twists and turns than ever before, the show satisfyingly ended by bringing series villain, Phillip Stroh (Billy Burke), back one last time, giving the division a chance to take on their long-standing adversary.
But in an unusual twist that still has many fans shocked, the show decided to kill off main character Commander Sharon Ryder (Mary McDonnell) four episodes prior to the finale. It was certainly the biggest unexpected twist of the final few episodes, and fans are still wondering just what happened to Sharon on Major Crimes and why she was written off the show so close to its finale.
Keep scrolling for everything you need to know.
What happened to Sharon on 'Major Crimes'?
Sharon Ryder joined Major Crimes’ precursor show, The Closer, in its fifth season, and after that show ended in 2012, Sharon became a mainstay on the spinoff. She earned a loyal fanbase over the course of six seasons, which made her demise prior to the finale all the more shocking.
Sharon’s impending death was established early on in Season 6, when she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in Episode 4. Although Sharon continued to suffer from heart problems, she continued to do her job as usual, but in Episode 9, her condition had clearly worsened as she collapsed during an interrogation and was rushed to the hospital.
Many viewers assumed her death was a fake-out that would tie into bringing down the show’s baddie, Phillip Stroh, but this wasn’t the case. Sharon was buried an episode later, leaving the rest of the team to take down Phillip without her.
Fans were upset at Sharon’s sudden death and became angrier still when they noticed that actress Mary McDonnell’s name had been removed from the credits of the remaining four episodes. What made things worse was the fact that Mary wasn’t expecting her name to be removed from the credits of a show that she had top-billing for throughout its six-season run.
In an exclusive guest column for Variety, Sharon detailed how, after her name had been removed from the credits, her fans changed their profile pictures to “a shot of my name as I was formally billed, against a black background,” a response that astonished her.
“I was as shocked that my name was removed as they were. Neither I nor my representatives knew this was going to happen,” she said, continuing to explain that she “felt the fans' response to be galvanizing” and that she was “very proud of the impression [Sharon] has left.”
For his part, creator James Duff told Entertainment Weekly that the decision to kill off Sharon before the show’s finale was to preserve the legacy of the show that they knew was ending. The creative team wanted Sharon’s story to be wrapped up and not end in a cliffhanger that had fans wondering about her fate.
He said that he knew it would be a controversial decision but that “this is how we put a period on it … And as we got to the very end, you saw, it could not have ended this way if Sharon had been around.”