The Closer wasn't just any procedural.
What made this TNT hit into the most successful cable show of all-time was not only its willingness to take risks, but how the real drama was unfolding between characters, not cases.
Come along with us now as we relive the most memorable moments of this terrific series, which ends its seven season run tonight...
10. Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson Was Not Playing Around
During the first season, it was difficult to know exactly what Brenda was made of. Having secured her job after an affair with her new boss, with a team who couldn't get behind her, a wardrobe similar to grandma's and a voice like a southern belle, Brenda could have turned out to be just about anyone.
When she was met with a case of a murdered 13-year old illegal immigrant and a family willing to do anything to protect the boy who did it, I found my new hero. Seemingly agreeing to all their demands after they whisked the suspect away to Mexico in a botched attempt to flee, Brenda closed the case in a Mexican jail. Everything she promised in order to get the confession was true, but what the Mexican government did with him was out of her hands. It was chilling.
9. Brenda Wins The Trust of Her Squad
By the end of season one, even the last holdout on Priority Homicide recognizes in Brenda that she'd go to the ends of the earth to protect the innocent while closing the case, even if one in the line of fire is on her own squad. After an entire season of doing battle, Detective Andy Flynn finally told Commander Taylor that if he wanted to sing his praises he should look in a mirror because on his part, he was putting in for permanant transfer to serve under Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson.
8. Sanchez's Brother Gets Killed
Julio Sanchez was always one of the biggest enigmas on the squad, but when his brother died we saw a side of him we wished we never had to see. A passionate family man, trying to keep Sanchez away from the job while priority homicide investigated the most important case of his career wasn't easy. Watching him break at the end, believing his brother's death all came down to his gift of a beloved hat was heart wrenching.
7. Sanchez Takes Fire for Provenza
The newly formed Major Crimes Division took on it's first case as a group of high school boys wanted to take the extra step where Klebold and Harris failed at Columbine. In a summer finale unlike any other the entire team was trying to stop the last terrorist from carrying out their plan at the local mall. When Provenza ran into his path, it was Sanchez who saved the day and his friend by jumping in front of the bullets. He really came into his own during season four.
6. Brenda and Fritz Get Married
Brenda and Frtiz both worked cases right up to and after the moment of their marriage. Hiring the perfect photographer, he was even able to manipulate their wedding photos so they didn't have to take more than the minimum necessary. The last scene was of Brenda putting some of her wedding cake icing on a Ding Dong for a healthy bite. It wasn't the most romantic of weddings but it was The Closer all the way!
5. Kitty Dies
Remember when Brenda first discovered Kitty? She tried so hard not to love her, but we learned a lot about Brenda's heart as she formed an unbreakable bond with the cat who was out of place in her new home as Brenda was. We didn't know it at the time, but the real kitty was sickly, and they decided to write Brenda's Kitty's death into he story. Anyone who has had made the decision to put a pet down knew what Brenda was feeling as she told Kitty how much she loved her and wished she knew what she was thinking.
4. Brenda Finds Out About Fritz's Secret
Brenda's need to turn to wine at the end of her stressful days finally hit a head when she learned Fritz was a recovering alcoholic. What was truly amazing was how understanding Fritz was given the circumstances. A lesser man might have demanded she stop to remove his temptation. Fritz's love for Brenda was as strong as his recovery and the two have never felt the need to stop the behavior of the other.
3. The Decision That Changes Everything
Forced by a possible terrorist situation after the murder of three servicemen to grant immunity to Turrell Baylor who ended up to be a double murderer himself, Brenda let her disgust get at the situation the better of her. Knowing fully well that taking him home into the middle of gang territory after he just murdered two of his own that his life was in jeopardy, Brenda dropped him off and drove away anyway. In that moment Gabriel lost his faith in Brenda and we learned just how far Sanchez would go to stand by her side. Gripping.
2. There's a Mole In The Department
Threatening everything Brenda had worked for while in Los Angeles, it seemed as though someone in her own department was sharing confidential information with opposing counsel during two lawsuits. At every step, they were ahead of the game leading the City of Los Angeles to force Brenda into making a deal creating the Johnson Rule to put an end to constant harassment the department suffered. It wasn't until well after everything was settled that we learned the mole wasn't in the department at all, but a paid informant who had taken advantage of Gabriel.
1. Brenda's Mama Dies
Many people will disagree with me in finding this the most memorable moment of The Closer, but Brenda's love of her parents knew no bounds. After spending a year believing her father's life was in jeopardy, losing her Mama changed Brenda's outlook on everything. It's the pivotal moment that will bring the series to a close. Nothing that came before shook her resolve and convinced her to take a long hard look what had become of her life like the loss of her Mama.
** There were far more moments than this that stood out. Overarching stories and relationships that will stand the test of time in ensuring The Closer goes down in history as one of the best dramas ever produced. Share your favorite moments in the comments and be back here tonight as we say goodbye to Brenda Leigh Johnson.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.