The Closer

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"People may be created equal, but they do not die that way."


"For Heaven's sake Fritzy! If we ever stopped lyin' to each other, how would we ever get to the truth?"


The Closer is a crime drama on TNT starring Kyra Sedgwick in an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning performance as Brenda Leigh Johnson, deputy chief of the Atlanta Police Department (and former CIA agent), who transfers to Los Angeles. She leads a special LAPD unit that solves high-profile murder cases, with her supervisor being an ex-lover of hers.

Largely self-contained with several character-driven story arcs (most notably, dealing with Brenda's romance and marriage to an FBI agent, among others), the series began with and maintained considerable popularity and helped TNT, after several high profile failures, successfully launch its own programming block of shows on the network.

The series has aired every summer beginning in 2005. It was recently announced that its last season would air in 2012, giving the show an eight-year run. It will be followed by the spinoff Major Crimes, which will star Mary McDonnell as Sharon Raydor.

This series has a character sheet.

Tropes used in The Closer include:
  • Aborted Arc: Brenda's pursuit of a rapist who used his power as an attorney to stay out of jail was seemingly dropped after a few episodes. He's mentioned in the list Goldberg gives at the end of the Season 7 summer finale of cases where Brenda has allegedly broken suspects civil rights.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents - Johnson's. Let's just say "Culture Clash" and leave it at that.
  • American Accents - Particularly Johnson's very "Dixie" sound.
  • Artistic License Law: Brenda's interrogations often may violate the 6th amendment rights to counsel. Once a suspect asks for a lawyer, the interrogation must stop unless the suspect initiates further conversation. Otherwise the entire interrogation may be tossed.
    • As of the seventh season (especially the finale) all of Brenda's enormous law mistakes come back to bite her.
  • Asian and Nerdy - Lt. Tao. Dear God, Lt. Tao. If he and Grant Imahara stepped into a room, that room would explode. Or turn into a giant robot. Whatever.
  • Asshole Victim - Seen in "Problem Child", among others.
  • Backhanded Apology - Brenda turns this into a "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards the other departments.
  • Bathroom Break Out - Happens to Provenza and Flynn in "Layover", when they allow two stewardesses they are arresting to use the bathroom before taking them down to the station. To add insult to injury, the stewardesses then steal Provenza's car.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill - The gambit of "Detective" Richard Tracy in "Tapped Out".
  • Berserk Button - Sitting on Provenza's desk is a bad idea.
    • Fritz is in AA. Disrespecting that, or trying to hand him "special" brownies, is liable to be hazardous to your health. (Keep in mind that he's an FBI agent. Doing this would make most people Too Dumb to Live, but..)
    • See Sharon Raydor. See Sharon Raydor get played. See Sharon Raydor team up with Brenda Johnson and take the bitch down. See the birth of a dynamic duo that will one day undoubtedly rule the LAPD.
    • Probably not wise to screw over Brenda Johnson. Her squad is... protective... of her.
  • Bolivian Army Ending - The end of "War Zone," with the suspect facing the Bolivian Army of his neighborhood.
  • Book Ends - In the pilot, all the members of the newly-formed Priority Homicide squad turn in requests to be transferred to other departments because of their overly demanding new boss. Chief Johnson demonstrates her displeasure by dropping each form one by one into a trash can while giving each of her subordinates an assignment. In the last episode of the first season, when an anonymous complaint puts Johnson's job at risk, an almost identical scene occurs, but with the team's letters of resignation, effective immediately upon Johnson's termination, being discarded instead.
    • Also happens in season three. The opening credits of the season premiere are interspersed with crime scene footage from Buzz's new camera. The same technique is used later, in part one of the next-to-last episode.
  • Bratty Teenage Niece - Brenda's niece, Charlie. Emphasis on "bratty".
  • Breakout Character - Sharon Raydor's headlining the spinoff series.
  • British Brevity - While obviously not British, each season consists of only 15 episodes. This can be attributed to it being a summer show produced by TNT.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer - Johnson is extremely successful at work, but her personal life...

Pope: I'm sorry. She sometimes forgets there are other people. In the world.

  • Catch Phrase - Johnson's distinctive "Thank yeeeww".
    • Also, "Uurrghh, that woman!" whenever she shares an episode with Raydor.
    • "Oh, for heaven's sakes!" is another catch phrase
  • Christmas Episode - Season 3's "Next of Kin", Season 6's Living Proof, and Season 7's You Have The Right to Remain Jolly.
  • Cloudcuckoolander - Fritz's sister, Claire. Played by Amy Sedaris.
    • Dr. Terrence also qualifies.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: As far as regards to Brenda. Characters who are helping her will wear colors that match or complement her clothes. A prime example is in season one, where she and Captain Taylor collaborate on an operation after several episodes of rivalry. There is a shot of them Power Walking in beautiful matching blue.
    • Also especially prominent in Season 7's "Silent Partner". Brenda wears a blue blazer with a dark purple scarf while Sharon Raydor, who has increasingly had Brenda's back in Season 7, wears a lavender blazer with a blue shirt.
  • Conflicting Loyalty - The entire squad in the early seasons are torn between Taylor and Johnson in early episode. Poor Gabriel tends to be the lightning rod for this particular clash, however. Johnson even sympathetically acknowledges this in a season one episode where he was especially torn. Naturally, all their loyalties eventually switch to Brenda.
  • Crazy Cat Lady - Brenda lives in fear of turning into one of these and, after her cat (who she thought was male) has kittens, she wonders how she became one of those single women with too many cats.
  • Da Chief - A rare example of this archetype as a primary character, in the case of Johnson. Pope is this to her.
  • Dead Little Brother - Sanchez. Unlike most examples, we see it happen. Tear Jerker ensues.
  • Did You Just Have Sex? - Brenda becomes.. very cheerful after rampant sex.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him - Poor poor Sanchez. After this one, this trope seriously began to wonder if she shouldn't just give up and label him The Woobie already...
    • Provenza has this happen as well, when his former partner George Georgette shows up.
  • Eagle-Eye Detection
  • Elephant in the Living Room - Brenda and Fritz never directly discuss whether or not they want kids, picking their way circumspectly around the subject while house-hunting.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: A version where Provenza takes one for the team and only embarasses himself. In "Off the Hook", Provenza is trying to conceal that he is talking to Brenda on the phone:

Pope: Is that Chief Johnson?
Provenza: No, it's my proctologist.
Pope: You're asking where your proctologist is?

  • Embarrassing First Name - Lt. Provenza's first name is "Lieutenant" to you.
    • It's Louis ("Louie"), but as that can also be short for Lieutenant, we still might not be sure.

Provenza: Call me that just once more, and Georgette won't be my only ex-partner without a penis.

    • When being served with a subpoena, his name is officially confirmed to be Louie M. Provenza.
  • Enemy Mine - Brenda and Capt. Sharon Raydor. They loathe working together, but they just happen to be nearly unstoppable when they team up. Which completely baffles them both.
  • Enhance Button - Doubly subverted. When asked to "blow the picture up," Buzz just gives Chief Johnson a look. She corrects herself by asking him to make it bigger . . . only for the picture to come out perfectly anyway.
  • Eureka Moment - Once an Episode
  • Cute Kitten: After Brenda's cat dies, her husband gets a new kitten, Joel. Joel's presence provides much needed "cute relief" from the horrific events of the episode's murder case.
    • There's also the episode where Brenda and Fritz decide to stay in Mexico for a vacation after closing a case there. Brenda gets Sgt. Gabriel to look after a litter of kittens at her house. Getting a bunch of kittens to behave the way he wants goes about as well as you'd expect.
      • "That is not a litterbox!"
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Murder the friendly old neighborhood shopkeeper and his grandson, and the local gang will kill you. Brenda exploits this to do an indirect Vigilante Execution on the murderer, who had been given immunity in the case in exchange for his testimony.
    • That's not the whole the story. The shopkeeper and his shop were under the gang's protection. Turell, the gang member who killed the shop keeper placed the blame on Reggie, a fellow gang member who went into the shop as Turell left. Turell subsequently gave Reggie's name to the police. Reggie tried to kill Turell in an act of revenge. The rest of the gang didn't get involved until Turell sold Reggie out in return for immunity. Reggie subsequently called the others and filled them on Turrell's numerous betrayals.
  • Fair Cop: The show stars, among others, Kyra Sedgwick and Mary McDonnell. This trope, of course, is in play.
  • Fake Southern - Kyra Sedgwick is from New York. And not just from New York, but top-level Manhattan Socialite (her first cousin once removed Edie Sedgwick inspired "Like a Rolling Stone"). She's about as ten times less Southern than Rudy Giuliani. On the other hand, her Southern accent isn't half bad.
    • Interestingly, a medium-version of this happens with her dad: Barry Corbin, the actor who plays Brenda's father, is from Texas, rather than Georgia, which has a rather different accent.
  • Fragile Flower: Despite being a tough Action Girl, our heroine is always one blink away from tearing up.
  • Funny Background Event - In the episode, "Mom Duty," Brenda's mother comes over to visit the station while they're discussing a case. After being grossed out by the case in question, she leaves the room, taking pictures of the rest of the station. The flash from her camera is visible and frequent. In another episode, when they receive a suspicious package, Provenza rouses himself from his crossword puzzle long enough to call the bomb squad. As the bomb squad sniffs around the box, you can see Provenza in the background still casually working away at his crossword puzzle!
  • Fun with Acronyms - Priority Homicide was originally called the Priority Murder Squad. That went on their stationery. Brenda was not amused.
  • Geeky Turn On - Fritz's face has shown this more than once whenever Brenda does something particularly clever.
  • Glomp - When Johnson becomes worked up, stressed out, upset, or emotional--in other words, Once an Episode--she has a tendency to fly at the nearest character for a Cooldown Hug or in extreme cases Cry Into Chest. Her common targets are Fritz or Pope, but she's occasionally targeted others. On one or two hilarious occasions, a deeply uncomfortable Gabriel finds himself awkwardly patting his boss on the back.
  • Hannibal Lecture - Averted in most cases. Johnson is Genre Savvy enough to not answer the bad guy's questions unless it is advantageous to her. Which is how it actually works in real life. Of course, from their perspective, she's the Hannibal.
  • Happily Married - Brenda and Fritz seem to be developing into this; a rare dramatic example. Not that they haven't had their ups and downs, but their relationship has been solid since season one.
  • Heel Face Turn - Captain Taylor starts out as a stereotypical sleazy, underhanded cop looking to climb the ladder, especially unhappy about Brenda essentially taking over his division. Through Character Development and mutual respect, he eventually becomes supportive of Brenda's position, even if he'll still point out her failings.
  • Hey, It's That Guy! - Both among the regulars and guests. For example, Michael Paul Chan (Lt. Tao) shows up in many shows in several different roles (for instance, as recurring Judge Ping in Arrested Development), and G.W. Bailey (Lt. Provenza) is well known from his roles in M*A*S*H and Police Academy. On the other hand, the annoying FID Captain Raydor is Laura Roslin. Chief Pope is J Jonah Jameson, Emil Skoda, Vernon Schillinger, President Howard T. Ackerman,'s J.K. Simmons, OK? One of the witnesses/suspects in Season 2 is Kaidan Alenko/Carth Onasi.
  • Hollywood Nerd - Tao. A guy that gushes over "Babs" the bomb robot could hardly be called anything else.
  • How Dare You Die on Me! - Johnson to Sanchez in a mid-season Cliff Hanger. He was wounded taking bullets for Provenza, and there wasn't much notion that he wasn't going to survive.
  • Improvised Weapon - Flynn is attacked in a parking lot, and stabs the guy with a windshield wiper.
  • Internal Affairs - The Force Investigation Division, with the ridiculously Obstructive Bureaucrat Captain Sharon Raydor.
  • Innocent Bigot - Johnson's parents show the faintest, most innocent shades of this, with their gift of maracas to the (hispanic) Sanchez, and their implied denial of a son's homosexuality ("I don't understand why he spends so much time with that roommate of his!")
  • Intoxication Ensues- Johnson delves into her niece's "special brownies" during Season 5. Fritz is not amused when he discovers this.
  • It's All About Me: Brenda says this word for word in "Forgive Us of Our Tresspasses".
  • It's Personal:
    • Priority Homicide are True Companions. This makes the murder of Det. Sanchez's brother personal for the entire squad. That said, Sanchez, naturally, takes it harder than anyone else.
    • The season 5 finale gives Captain Raydor massive amounts of this in the central case.
    • In the Season 7 summer finale, Brenda asks the lawyer who's been hounding her if she personally offended him in some way. He says no; he simply thinks she is a menace, and he plans to end her, leaving her trembling.
  • Jurisdiction Friction - Brenda and Fritz occasionally butt heads over jurisdiction.
    • Season 1 opens with this between Brenda and Capt. Taylor.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Sharon Raydor.
  • Knight Templar: Brenda, twice in the first four episodes suspects are shown to be beyond the reach of the law. One is a foreign police officer who ordered a jail hit on an innocent man. Brenda has the foreign cop sent to prison using the innocent man's name. The cop is murdered in jail. The second is a serial rapist and murderer who is protected as an informant against his father for the FBI. Since she can't arrest him Brenda just mentions his informant status in front of the family lawyer. The suspect is dead in the next scene.
    • She does this frequently over the years, though less frequently than in some other shows. Unusually, it gets Deconstructed in a major way. Every single case that she did something wildyly illegal or resembling street justice over the course of the entire series comes back to bite her in the form of a massive class action lawsuit. Her job is threatened, the city may be out millions, she's running out of money, and her work is hampered by constant oversight.
  • Last-Name Basis / You Called Me "X" - It Must Be Serious / First-Name Basis: The evolution of the relationship between Brenda and her squad. Note that refers to what she calls them--she's always going to be Chief Johnson to them.
  • Lethal Chef - Claire's all-vegan selection, judging by Fritz and Brenda's reactions.
  • Lying to the Perp - The Series
    • Summed up in this little chat

Lawyer: (To Pope about Brenda) Is she lying?
Pope: You're her lawyer, of course she's lying.


Brenda: I was promised a crew of elite detectives, and what Captain Taylor here has given me is a bunch of junior varsity wannabes and Provenza.

  • Never Suicide - Subverted once, in a fairly painful manner.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe - The "EE" kids. Natural Selection does not work that way!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: One case is the murder of a parody of VH-1's Mystery, from The Pickup Artist. However, instead of being a guy in odd clothes who's good at chatting up women, "Intrigue" is actively a dick, taping his sex with the women he picks up, showing his "students" how to make a clean getaway, and showing the videotape to the woman later.

Brenda: Oh my Lord, this man is horrible.

  • Nobody Poops - Averted in the side story of an episode where Brenda constantly fought with Fritz over their clogged toilet. She wanted him to fix it, he wanted to call the landlord. The only problem was they had a cat (forbidden in their lease) and Brenda thought it was much easier for him to fix than to hide the cat for a day. The funniest part of the whole situation came when Brenda asked why he wasn't as fed up as she was about waiting until they left the house to go. When Fritz replied "I took a shower this morning," Brenda's horror was priceless.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Brenda Johnson is a sweet, scatterbrained Southern eccentric - until her suspect slips up and gives her what she wants. At which point said suspect remembers that Brenda Leigh Johnson is a CIA-trained interrogator.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Pope starts being this when Brenda competes with him for the chief position. He eventually relents when she gets to the next step of the process... and he doesn't.
  • Only So Many Equity Members - Expect to say "Hey, It's That Guy!", if you watch this and Law and Order long enough.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Very rarely, but this has happened to Kyra Sedgwick on occasion.
  • Organ Theft - the victims in "Heart Attack" are killed for their organs.
  • Overly Long Scream: A 6-year-old girl did this in the police station to demonstrate what her parents told her to do if the recently murdered child molester living next door ever approached her.
  • Pass the Popcorn - The squad considers Johnson's interrogations a spectator sport.
  • Police Procedural
  • Precision F-Strike - In the season 6 summer finale, Brenda and her team corner an aspiring suicide bomber in the LAPD parking garage. He's carrying an oxygen tank filled with Sarin nerve gas, and when he gets shot it rolls down a ramp and towards a concrete pillar…until Tao steps in and stops it with his foot. Cue realization of how close he is to death and "Holy CRAAAAAAAP!"
  • Prison Rape - is mentioned as a sort of karmic justice for a rapist.
  • Put on a Bus - Detective Garth disappears from the squad without explanation during Season 1.
    • Actually disappeared after the pilot episode. The actor playing him probably found other work between filming this pilot and TNT's purchase of the show.
    • Detective Daniels, who gets promoted out of the squad after season four.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Kitty's death. First, one of the two cats playing Kitty died; then, the second one also became terminally ill, prompting the storyline.
  • Reaction Shot: In the season 7 summer finale, "Fresh Pursuit", Brenda wins her case about the man she left to die. Then the lawyer shows up with several more of her case files, and tells her he's going to Federal Court, and plans to end her. After he leaves, there's a shot of Brenda trembling with rage, or fear, or both.
  • Running Gag - In "Fate Line", people scaring Brenda with near-collisions (Pope) and sudden loud shouts (Claire and Tao). Through the while show, Fritz and Brenda's recurring argument over which pronoun to use for Kitty.
    • And now in Season 6, Commander Taylor's office.
    • It seems like every time Sgt. Gabriel is present at an autopsy, the coroner will offhandedly give him a body part to hold while he goes through his findings with Brenda. He gives a disgusted reaction each time.
    • "I can live with that/this" in "To Serve with Love."
  • Run for the Border - The murderer of an illegal immigrant's daughter flees to Mexico to escape prosecution. Subverted in that Brenda's investigation revealed that the victim had been born on the Mexican side of the border, so the Mexican police have grounds to arrest and prosecute the culprit for murdering one of their citizens. And Mexican jails are much worse than American, especially for a pretty-boy white American. Naturally, she doesn't tell him this until after he's front of the two Mexican cops in the room, who lay hands on him once she explains.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction - Provenza and Flynn really should have figured this out a lot sooner in "Layover".
  • Season Fluidity - Surprisingly low for a crime drama, especially with regard to Johnson's personal life (usually the B plot of each episode). Each season also has its own theme that even carries over into the cases. From season one to six, the themes have been a woman alone, partnerships, family, power, change, and attraction.
  • Sexy Stewardess - Provenza and Flynn get taken for a ride by a pair of sexy flight attendants in "Layover".
  • Sharp-Dressed Man - Flynn has excellent taste in suits, if the $500 jacket he's wearing in "To Serve with Love" is any indication.
    • Provenza, in season five (for romantic purposes). Flynn is horrified.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang - "War Zone": Twin brothers. One is a dedicated soldier with a spotless record, the other a Complete Monster of a banger who murdered a kind old man and a little boy when the man wouldn't back down. Guess who's the victim of the week. Not that Brenda's unwilling to set it up so that Laser-Guided Karma will take care of him.
  • Southern-Fried Genius - Johnson is, well, a closer, phenomenally skilled at obtaining confessions.
  • Spousal Privilege - Appears on several occasions; see the trope page for details.
  • Stereotype Reaction Gag - In "Culture Shock," Provenza asks Tao to talk to some onlookers who apparently know only Chinese. Tao proceeds to address them in English, then dryly points out to Provenza that he's "third-generation" and doesn't know any Chinese.
    • He does know Japanese, but only because his wife is Japanese.
    • Performed again later, when Sanchez expects Tao to know about ninjas.
      • Of course, being a nerd, he does know all about ninjas!
  • Sorry I Left the BGM On - The source of the music playing over the opening of "Standards and Practices" is revealed to be a CD player at the crime scene.
    • Happens again in the Season 7 premiere with a music video being the source.
  • Sweet Tooth - Johnson's continuing struggle with chocolate.
    • TNT has caught on to this, and featured Product Placement for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on the show.
  • Taking the Bullet - Sanchez does this for Provenza.
  • The Coroner: Dr. Crippen, followed by Dr. Morales.
  • Those Two Guys: Flynn and Provenza.
  • Title-Only Opening
  • They Do - Brenda and Fritz, done remarkably well.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Raydor in the Season 7 episode "Death Warrant," where she shocked Brenda's whole team by shooting a bad guy right between the eyes with a bean bag round.
  • True Companions - Priority Homicide. At first they're united in that they despise her; by the end of season 1, they're united in that they'd put their jobs and lives on the line for her.
  • Verbal Tic: When she's flustered or upset, Brenda will often repeat the operative word of her sentence three, three, three times. Willie Rae does it too.
  • Vigilante Execution - "Heroic Measures"
  • Villainy-Free Villain - It seems that we are supposed to cheer for Brenda when she gets one over on Captain Raydor, but the Captain is a professional, zealous, by-the-book investigator who is doing exactly what her job description says she is supposed to do, which is to investigate misconduct within the LAPD.
    • Not to mention that she was trying to get Brenda Polk's job.
    • And in Season Seven, she is doing her best to stop investigating Brenda and her team, to the point of opening up the investigation by emphatically telling Brenda that she was being forced to investigate and, at numerous points in the investigation, trying to give strong hints to Brenda that she was being forced to continue the investigation against her will. Brenda is so insulted by the idea that she's being investigated at all that she just brushes Raydor off without thinking about the meaning of her words. By the finale this appears to have changed somewhat, as Raydor is the first person Brenda looks to after she is cleared. Raydor's face is wreathed in smiles, and Brenda nods her thanks to Raydor before the scene ends.
  • Weirdness Magnet: There have been at least three instances outside where Provenza and Flynn met outside of work, stumbled across a dead body, and failed to react properly. Three. The half naked lady in Provenza's garage, the naked lady in their buddy's coffin, the random actor who fell on Buzz's car . . .
    • Up to four, with Provenza and Flynn picking up two flight attendants and going home with them where Provenza finds a dead man in the bathtub.
  • What the Hell, Hero? - Johnson gets this treatment when she blackmails Charlie into signing a sworn statement about Jake's ex-girlfriend getting pregnant with his child and her father's subsequent threat by threatening to send a tape of Charlie describing in detail all the sexual high-jinks she got into with her ex-boyfriend.
    • Det. Julio Sanchez gets this in Season 6 when the team finds out that his search for a child's missing, deported mother was actually him searching for babysitters, and that he hadn't called anywhere in Mexico to even start looking for the mother.
    • Johnson has a tendency to put closing the case before all else, sometimes including other people's investigations, even Fritz's. Notably, she scares the murderer out of taking a deal with the FBI so that he'll go to jail rather than get off on a lighter charge, despite this screwing up Fritz's case against a major drug cartel. This was after messing with Fritz's investigation through out the episode. He calls her out on it.
    • Brenda Lee also gets this... well, all the time when someone finds out that she was circumventing procedures and throwing pre-existing investigations off track, but especially throughout Season Seven when she is facing the repercussions of blatantly setting up an untouchable murderer to be executed by his own gang in Season Six.
      • She herself kept giving one to Fritz about the FBI (and the LAPD, as he keeps insisting that she remember) doing something similar when they set a dangerous drug dealer on a rap star in order to get him to do something incriminating. And then she did the exact same thing, only it turns out that the FBI/LAPD's actions didn't cause the crime, but her's did result in three people being badly beaten in an incident that involved shots being fired. Though in all fairness, one of those was the criminal and she did get to arrest a bunch of criminals including one that the FBI considered "untouchable."
  • With Friends Like These...: Flynn and Provenza, although it's usually Provenza instigating whatever goes wrong this time.
  • Worthy Opponent - Brenda may detest Captain Sharon Raydor, but even she thoroughly, if grudgingly, respects Raydor's investigative skills. See also Enemy Mine.
  • Written-In Infirmity - Dr. Crippen.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant - Played absolutely straight. Brenda adopts a stray she calls 'Kitty' whom she assumes is male. Up until 'he' gives birth.