The news is in, and it’s certainly shocking: Mary McDonnell is gone from Major Crimes. She left following the “Conspiracy Theory” arc, and all of a sudden James Duff and the writers have the challenge of finding a way to end this story without Sharon Raydor around, which is something we never thought would happen.
At this point, it’s already clear that this is a move that most viewers of Major Crimes aren’t happy with — and understandably so given that Sharon has been the anchor of the entire series. Fans have grown attached to her relationships with Rusty and Flynn, as well as everyone else on the show.
So how did this controversial decision play out? There are apparently a number of different components to it, with one of the biggest being the desire for the team behind the series to end the series on their own terms, knowing that the writing was on the wall that season 6 would be the last. This move was a way to give the show more of a conclusive feeling, and beyond that, the decision was made that killing off Sharon would happen before the final arc of the series even began. In an interview with Variety, McDonnell explains that in her conversations with James Duff, there were suggestions that Sharon would die leading up to the final episode. The lack of communication from TNT about a possible season 7 helped to seal the deal even more:
“I did not know if it would be in the very last episode [of the series], but he did imply that if [she did die], it might be earlier than the last episode, to give the final episodes an opportunity to deal with that. James and Mike [Robin] really did want to make sure that I understood [how it would transpire]. And might I say one more thing? There was no phone call from our studio or network talking about renegotiating, and my contract was up, so to me as well and to my reps, it was pretty clear that we were going out. It was not a surprise for me at all when they canceled the show. I don’t think it was a surprise for anyone, was it?”
As for how losing Sharon shapes the remainder of Major Crimes we’ll just have to wait and see in part how that plays out starting on Tuesday night. The series is entering a final run of episodes that features the return of Billy Burke — while at the same time saying goodbye to Sharon and establishing the endgame for many different characters. Everyone is somehow going to have to find a way to unify and move forward … but it’s not going to be easy.
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