Post Mortems
Major Crimes Renewed Season 6

Major Crimes Creator Details 'Incredibly Difficult' Decision to Kill Off Longtime Character in Harrowing Shootout

The following contains major spoilers from this Monday’s Major Crimes.

Though jailed and in standing trial police custody, serial-killing white supremacist Dwight Darnell killed again this week on TNT’s Major Crimes, shocking the courtroom by using the gun that had been admitted, packaged and seemingly disabled as evidence to brutally assault chief witness Dr. Joe Bowman and then pump bullets into a bevy of others in and around the gallery — until Raydor gunned down Darnell, who later died from his injuries.

Among those fatally slain by the shooter was Assistant Chief of Special Operations Russell Taylor, played by Robert Gossett since the very first episode of Major Crimes‘ predecessor, The Closer.

The series’ creator, James Duff, shared with TVLine how the tragic turn came about, revisited his “difficult” conversation with Gossett and more.

TVLINE | Across 200 episodes of The Closer followed by Major Crimes, where do you rank that harrowing cold open?
I rank it fairly high. The first acts of both these last two episodes, 9 and 10, rank very, very high in the scheme of things. But it’s also because of the changing way in which television delivers. We are more serialized now than we have ever been, and the collective power of the first act of our show depends on the two episodes that preceded it. That never would have been the case on The Closer, and it would not have been the case during the first two years of Major Crimes, when our serialization was limited to the development of character.Major Crimes Taylor Dies So in a technical way, we were allowed a lot more depth in our storytelling field.

TVLINE | Was there any back and forth with the network regarding the actual gunplay and the brutality of the shootings.
Not a word. There was absolutely no brake put on us by the network at any time, over any moment of the show. They were 100-percent behind us in telling this story. Also, we’re in the 10 o’clock hour now, which demands a shift in thinking about what adult storytelling looks like and feels like, and the way law enforcement is besieged right now sort of calls for this kind of episode, this sort of “shaking up” of the tree. A lot of things went into this cold opening.

TVLINE | I’ve been saying to you off and on over the years that at some point, a long running character who works in this world should probably die. How difficult was it to actually put that to paper, with Taylor?
It was incredibly difficult, for several reasons. One, I’ve worked with Robert for 12 years and I love him. He is a spectacular human being with great talent and great good will towards all of the people he works with. Gina Rivera [who played Daniels on The Closer], she wanted to be on a show where she wasn’t part of an ensemble, so I wrote her out but I didn’t kill her; I just transferred her to Criminal Intelligence. And Kyra [Sedgwick] left [The Closer], and Corey [Reynolds] left, and J.K. [Simmons] left, and there was no violence associated with those departures. But it’s become unrealistic to portray law enforcement as living in anMajor Crimes Taylor Dies office environment where very seldom are they in danger. They are more in danger now than they have been in quite some time. I felt like that was part of the reason why we did it, though not the only part.

The other thing that was staring at me in the face was that we really couldn’t do “balance” as our theme this season without also explaining the balance of power, and I needed to remove the central authority figure in order to make that work, because the next eight episodes are going to be about filling that office. At the time I was designing this run, I didn’t know that we were going to get the other eight [episodes], so I thought I was starting the end of the original 13 episodes’ story, and these three were meant to stand alone.

TVLINE | How did the-closer-taylor-brenda-coreythe conversation with Robert Gossett go?
That was a difficult conversation, but not as hard as you might think. Robert has been playing this part for 12 years. Robert is also quite an accomplished stage actor, and someone who was chafing a bit, saying, “Gosh, this part is getting smaller. I don’t have as much to do as I used to” — and I couldn’t disagree with him. He had suggested a couple of times that it felt like it might be that his story had played out, and I couldn’t disagree with him on that either.

So, it’s hard only because we’re all family here, and letting go of a family member, even under the best of circumstances, is hard to do. Though we just had a big party and Robert was there, so he is still part of our family. But it’s always a difficult conversation to have when you’re killing off a character; I don’t know how they manage it on The Walking Dead! I would be a nervous wreck. But I needed it for storytelling purposes; it wasn’t just, “Oh, let’s kill off a character,” or that the show was too expensive. It was all about dramatizing this theme as thoroughly as we could and stay relevant in a world where police officers are at more risk than ever, and also looking at racism in all of its different variants. We looked at racism last year in our five-parter, and I see no reason to let go of it. It’s a big issue.

TVLINE | As far as “shaking things up,” are we to assume that Fritz will hold Taylor’s job temporarily? Will there be a decision Sharon eventually needs to make?
Sharon is going to be in the race for Assistant Chief [of Special Operations], and she will be in that race with Camryn Manheim (see related news story) and an as-of-yet unannounced third actor. And that will be the thrust of the back eight [episodes], which is: “Who will get that job?” — and the changes that come with it.

Want scoop on Major Crimes, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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124 Comments
  1. Karen says:

    Part 1 of the finale was intense!! Sad to see Robert go, but this was one of the greatest episodes that Major Crimes has aired. I can’t wait to see what the final 2 parts have in store

  2. Robin says:

    i dont know how they kept this off the radar, but I had no idea anyone was going to die on this show. My jaw is still bruised from hitting the floor! I appreciate the Q&Anand I agree with all that was said, but wow!

  3. Yolo says:

    I predicted it last week with my husband. He did not believe me. I just had a feeling. It still sucks.

  4. El says:

    I don’t get TNT, still stuck with the ole antenna….I’m just glad Major Crimes will continue. I just can’t even remotely consider Camry Manheim as a player….

  5. Ash says:

    I’ve never been so shocked by a cold opening. I had a feeling from the first second of the episode that someone was going to die, but I thought it’d be Joe, not Taylor. It’s just funny because I’ve been rewatching the show the past week and I’m on season three and I was thinking that none of them have every really been in 100% danger of dying (in the sense that the show would actually kill a character, not based off of injuries). The gasp I released when they played Taylor getting shot scared the crap out of my cat. That was just… wow. Intense episode. Incredible episode. Definitely the best of the season thus far, maybe the series, and definitely the best of the night for TNT.

  6. JAB says:

    Sorry Taylor died, but so glad to see an action drama episode again . You guys were starting to lose me . I hope this is the start of more action dramas.
    Why not bring Jon Tenney in as new chief?

  7. Elizabeth Biys says:

    I miss not seeing the previous episode prior to the new one. I will have to review prior episodes on demand. Love the series. Also, sometimes Sharon is hard to understand at times cause she doesn’t speak clearly.

  8. Babi Godoi says:

    I’m speechless, that’s all I manage to say right now. WHAT AN EPISODE!
    Major Crimes just gets better and better and to see an action scene like that to Sharon is thrilling… I think I’ve the scene of her shooting the guy more then 20 times already, she is SO AWESOME! Big hopes for the other 2 episodes. This is the best show ever!!!

  9. Terry lillian says:

    Does this mean no more seasons. Season 5 will be the final season

  10. Babi Godoi says:

    ALSO… missing Taylor already :(. He was a nice guy, especially now in Major Crimes he was being a very nice boss to Sharon and a very nice Shandy Shipper, hahaha. Will be remembered by the shippers, friend!

    • quinquin says:

      I’m sure he will be missed. I enjoyed his run-ins with Sharon and the way she has bossed him around, lately ;-). – But, it’s still a smart move on the writers’ part. It certainly provides the opportunity to shake things up a little. I love the squad expecially because they function like a family. Loosing Taylor will support that further AND it makes room for a potential adversary on the inside, we will love to hate. I’m actually looking forward to whatever they have in stock in this regard.

  11. BM says:

    I did not see that one coming! And I certainly wouldn’t have minded to see more of Fritz in Taylor’s position. Too bad he’s not getting it. I don’t really need to see Sharon in the job; would be great for her if she got it but if she does, I hope they keep her involved in the show and not just in a recurring capacity. Especially since I want to see more of her and Andy’s relationship develop.

  12. Konalee says:

    I’m having a hard time accepting Taylor’s death. I hated this character at the beginning of the Closer, but he grew on me. I would have liked to see more of him on screen. He’s a good actor and it’s a shame that he was killed off.

  13. June says:

    Fritz would be a good replacement. And you could bring Brenda back. It’s time to let the young man go.That story is getting old.Love the show!!

  14. Mary says:

    It was a very exciting episode. However, I question the killing off of a major African-American character in the show. Yes, there are other characters of color, however, when you think about it, his was a position of authority. Just saying …

  15. Shelia Brown says:

    I LOVE this show and hope you stay! You would be the only show I watch now with no disturbance (no phone calls, no talking etc.) it doesn’t come on twice anymore so I catch it at 10. But I found myself yelling out when Monday’s episode was on because I couldn’t help myself. It was a shocker with Dr. Joe and Cheif Taylor getting shot but love the show none the less!❤️

  16. Was he killed off because he wanted out of the series or was it a decision for a dramatic exit to the end of the season? If it was the latter, I’m disappointed. I liked his character.

  17. kaymcmullan says:

    So weary of the story line with Sharon’s adopted son. So unrealistic for him to be present in the offices. Could you be done with his role??? Otherwise, I really enjoy the show.

  18. Alan Goff says:

    The series appears to be dying. The story has been told and now they are just hanging on.

  19. Redell says:

    It was good, but question the killing of the last black man on the show. it’s still a diverse cast, but I’m just saying.

  20. Rosemary Galayda says:

    Major Crimes is a totally awesome TV program!!!! We watch it every week and look forward to it. It always has a great story to tell and we love the characters in it!

  21. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    That was a crazy opening of this episode! That sucks they killed off Chief Taylor he’s been there since day 1. I can’t wait to see the final 2 eps. I think this three part finale might be the best one of the series so far.

  22. DeedeeK says:

    Great show. Sharon’s cool response and superb aim was terrific. Also liked her comment
    when they asked her how she felt. She is a wonderful actress and can adapt to any role
    with aplomb. Mary McDonnell is realistic in this role as she was in “Dances With Wolves.”

  23. Andrew Hass says:

    The producers may have decided it was time to shake up the show.Plus it sounds like Robert Gosset understood why the show let him go and that it was amicable.

  24. RED says:

    Gossett out , I’m gone, to many gone from the original I loved.

    • Eran says:

      The character who has not had anything remotely resembling a storyline worthy of his talents in years is killed off and that’s your last straw? Interesting viewership philosophy you got there…

    • Cate53 says:

      For a pair of shows that have run 12 years, to only have 4, now 5 main characters leave is really quite a remarkably low number. Taylor has always been a less featured character, but his presence as the boss was a strong one and he will be missed. Very thrilling summer finale… That guy’s mother is kind of suspicious but loved seeing kick ass action Sharon!

  25. Syl Salazar says:

    Have watched from the very beginning. Wow, last nights episode was a total shocker! Great acting, writing, etc. loyal followers to the end!

  26. Evelyn Roselle says:

    We will miss Robert very much! He is agrarian actor and will no doubt continue his fine career elsewhere. Bravo to Major Crimes, a show that gets better and better and which in my opinion touched the sky with this episode! The first scene was beyond shocking, explosive and numbing!!! I love all the characters! Please keep the rest for a long while tho, if you can!

  27. Barbara says:

    The action was awesome and unexpected. I voted very good because I will miss Taylor.

  28. Hans says:

    Sorry to see Gossett go, they finally steered his character away from being the standard smarmy administrator stereotype. I’m down to only watching 25-30 minutes every week since I’ve been FF-ing all of the totally-unnecessary Rusty scenes for years. I’ve never been enamored with the “story-arc” episodes, this is a police procedural, not a soap opera. I wouldn’t be upset if this show ended since they seem to be using that crutch more and more.

  29. Susan says:

    Awesome!! I’m sad to see Robert go but that’s part of telling the stories and playing them out. He will be missed but I love Major Crimes and all the actors, just like I loved The Closer. Looking forward to the upcoming episodes!

  30. Katie says:

    When are they going to kill off Rusty? He is the worst part of the show..and certainly the worst actor

  31. Rebecca Guerrero says:

    Watched the show since it first aired. Adore all the characters except for the kid whose always in left field. Wish the attorney that defended Brenda would of stayed on the show. His quick wit and he was very charming could see him joining the cast.
    Major Crimes shares so much of what’s happening in today’s world. Like another viewer you knew something was going to happen just surprised over Robert’s death.

  32. HAP says:

    Folks may not realize it, but Robert Gossett was a regular appearing in every episode of The Closer, but as for Major Crimes, he was more of a recurring player. There are more than 30 Major Crimes episode where he did not appear.

  33. Never liked Robert, he was too mean to Brenda! Liked the young black Sargent who worked with Brenda,

  34. Jean says:

    Sorry to see Robert, Chief Taylor be done. I thought he did well, too bad, you did not have enough story lines for him. You should cut Rusty character’s role. I do not think he does much for the show.

  35. Amanda says:

    I don’t really like Camryn Manheim. I think she is an excellent actress. But I just have never actually liked any of the characters I’ve seen her play. I hope she doesn’t end up as a series regular and I hope Sharon doesn’t make that jump to assistant chief either. It would be so nice to see Jon Tenny become a series regular again. I don’t care if Kyra Sedgwick ever comes back or not. I really just like the chemistry that exists on the show right now.

  36. Beth Corn says:

    I would have rather you let Rusty go than Robert!

  37. Casey Green says:

    I sad about Robert. He was family. The show was great!

  38. Ophelia says:

    The episode was amazing. I was saddened to see Taylor’s character get done in but do understand.
    I’m looking forward to the next episode as well as next season.
    I’ve been a fan since Closer.

  39. Patricia Wiltshire says:

    Love this show! ! ! That episode, last night, was great! ! ! Sorry to see Mr. Gossett go, but if it’s the storyline, then I can understand. Hope he’ll turn up somewhere again, on TNT! Good actor, enjoy him and Sharon’s one on oe, always! ! ! Thanks for the show….

  40. Henry Turley says:

    That’s my favorite

  41. Shirley Colby says:

    I hate that Robert Fodder was killed off, he was a good part of the show. I was shocked at this episode, so glad Sharon was not killed. Love to see her in action, don’t make her a wimp.. she is a strong woman.

  42. Kristin says:

    I thought Taylor deserved a better send off than that. It was too quick, and like oh he just died, and who cares…..that bugged me. The team didn’t seem that upset at the loss this long running character. I will miss him though.

  43. Kathy Haynie says:

    Hated to see Robert Gossett go. I know he wasn’t supposed to be liked when The Closer started, but I’ve grown very fond of him. Also, in my humble Southern opinion, Fritzie should be the new Asst. Chief :)

  44. Actually years ago when Brenda was commander Sanchez was shot several times and almost died.

  45. keenen says:

    I always wondered what happened to Gina Ravera. I have not seen her on anything since the Closer. What show did she think she would get? My friends think she looks like Angelina Jolie. I always hoped they would bring her back, say in the role that Amy plays

  46. Elaine Liberty says:

    Very sorry the Taylor character was killed off. However, I am seeing a lot of this type of ending for major characters on my other shows. I am extremely happy to see “Fritz” again. Still…..the shooting shocked me, so much so that I had to play it back a couple of times.

  47. Carole says:

    I was really sad to see Taylor go. It was a real shock.

  48. thats the second of the 3 black members to leave the show. Not being very diverse.

    • Kelli says:

      I agree. We need a renowned black actor to join the cast or bring Corey back as an all grown up Lt. Also, I can’t believe they added another boy to the cast. I’ve had it with whiny Rusty and now we have to deal with the little racist foster child? This is becoming a day care! And why does Rusty have Carte Blanche in the detectives room – getting so close to evidence. Give me a break! It’s time for Rusty and the new boy to go. Give Julio a wife instead.

  49. Kathy says:

    I, for one, really like having the Rusty character on the show. His presence has helped us get to know Sharon Raydor in ways we would not have been able to otherwise. And his character has allowed the writers the opportunity to explore some interesting topics and story lines. Great show, gripping episode. I love all the characters, what a fantastic ensemble. I have a small quibble with one detail in the story line. No way the safe combination was never changed!

    • Linda H says:

      Totally agree Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      I also like the Rusty character; I’m surprised with all the anti-Rusty sentiment. I was sad to see Commander Taylor go, though. I can’t really say who I wouldn’t miss.

    • Jo-Ann says:

      I agree! Rusty’s character has allowed the viewers to see another side of Sharon, and for that matter, the whole squad. I enjoy seeing the characters become more three dimensional and not just cops running around chasing bad guys.

  50. Selina Matthews says:

    Why don’t you have the previous four season on Netflix?