Major Crimes ended its six-season run on TNT earlier this month, and the last several episodes were full of surprises. The biggest unexpected twist of the final arc was undoubtedly the death of Sharon Raydor, who had been played by the venerable Mary McDonnell first on The Closer and then as leading lady on Major Crimes. Many fans were upset at Sharon's death and how the aftermath was handled, and a certain aspect of those reactions absolutely shocked Mary McDonnell:
One of the amazing things that went on in the last few weeks was the fan response to my name being removed from the credits. Many fans decided to change their profile pictures to a shot of my name as I was formally billed, against a black background. I joined them and changed my picture online for a few days, frankly because I was as shocked that my name was removed as they were. Neither I nor my representatives knew this was going to happen. I honestly felt the fans' response to be galvanizing. My Twitter feed turned almost completely black with my name in the starring position. It was actually energizing. A lively protest. Genius!
Apparently, the removal of Mary McDonnell's name from the opening credits of the last Major Crimes episodes was not something either McDonnell or the fans were prepared for, which is understandable. McDonnell was top-billed and a series regular prior to Sharon's death, and it would have stood to reason that she remained in the credits for the final episodes, even if she wasn't on screen. Now that we're in an age of social media, fans were able to vent their displeasure via Twitter by changing their profile pictures. As Mary McDonnell revealed in a guest column for Variety, she was shocked and energized by fans' reactions.
Sharon Raydor died due to natural causes after she suffered a coronary while trying to get a confession out of a killer. She'd already been pushing herself to the limit at work despite the adverse effects it was likely to have on her health, so the show did build to her death in a way that honored her commitment to her job. Fortunately, she was able to meet with a priest for Last Rites before she passed away.
Mary McDonnell already revealed that filming the death scene was very difficult for both herself and the rest of the people on set. She was saying goodbye to the show and to the crew who had made it happen, starting when she was still on The Closer and then following all the way to the end of her run on Major Crimes. No wonder it was a rough day!
According to Major Crimes creator James Duff, the death of Sharon Raydor was also in service of the legacy of the show. If the show was going to end after six seasons, then the way to end it would be to conclusively deliver some closure. Sharon's death allowed the series to achieve certain goals before wrapping the narrative up forever. At least fans don't have to deal with a cliffhanger regarding Sharon's fate. Her story has a beginning, middle, and end, and that's more than many TV characters often get.