Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick)"People may be created equal, but they do not die that way."
The Southern-accented CIA-trained interrogator that leads Priority Homicide/Major Crimes. Nominated for Chief of Police in Season 6, but ultimately does not get the job. Abrasive, intelligent, calculating, and temperamental.
- Action Girl: Subverted, actually. If you do see her pull her weapon, things are very bad. Not that she's not good with it as well.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Pope has commented that he has to make allowances for the fact that Brenda simply does not understand certain modes of human interaction.
- In "You Are Here," Brenda is reeling off a list of symptoms suffered by a high-functioning autistic she wants to interview. The detectives she's talking to all shoot each other knowing glances until Flynn comes right out and asks if he has a Georgia accent.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer
- Catch Phrase - "Thank you. Thank you so much."
- Cunning Linguist - Alas, except not Spanish...
I speak German, Russian, and am fully conversant in Czech, and I have to move to the one city where half of the people are from Latin America?
- Da Chief - Serves as this to the rest of the squad.
- Defective Detective
- Fair Cop
- Fragile Flower: Despite being a tough Action Girl, our heroine is always one blink away from tearing up.
- Guile Heroine
- Hypocrite: She's just so desperate for "justice" for the murdered that sometimes she arranges for people to be murdered to get it.
- It's All About Me
- Knight Templar
- Manipulative Bitch
- Married to the Job - Brenda veers in and out of this trope, which becomes somewhat awkward once she actually marries Fritz. Then it becomes more a Jurisdiction Friction marriage.
- Military Brat
- Never Live It Down - Her adulterous affair with Pope. Even though Brenda has since married Fritz, he's not above mentioning her affair with Pope when he feels that she is putting her ex-lover before their marriage or her own career.
- 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.
- Pragmatic Hero
- Southern Fried Genius - Most definitely.
- Sweet Tooth - She even has an entire drawer stuffed with candy bars (which serves as Product Placement for various companies).
- Verbal Tic - When she's flustered or upset, Brenda will often repeat the operative word of her sentence three, three, three times.
Detective Sergeant David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds)"Chief? We've got something."
Brenda's personal assistant, in essence. Intelligent, logical, and perhaps the most educated (besides Tao) of the squad. Nicknamed College Boy by Provenza, and mocked by various people when he supports Brenda despite his reservations. Johnson's first supporter and her favorite.
- Badass Mustache - (except in season 6; it returned in season 7)
- Butt Monkey - After the leak in Major Crimes is traced to David's girlfriend, most of the rest of the squad treats him like this, with the only exceptions being Brenda and Provenza.
- 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.
- The Lancer
- Hyper Competent Sidekick - For a given value of "sidekick," and with an even more competent boss.
Detective Lieutenant Louie Provenza (G.W. Bailey)"You know me, Flynn. Since when do I go out of my way to help anyone?"
Oldest and most experienced member of Priority Homicide. Brenda's second in the chain of command. Bad luck with women.
- Berserk Button: Sitting on Provenza's desk is a bad idea.
- Deadpan Snarker - He gets a good deal of the best lines.
Nothing tastes better than somebody else's wedding cake. Mine tasted like prison food.
- Embarrassing First Name - As far as Provenza is concerned, his first name is Lieutenant. He goes so far as to threaten Flynn if he repeats his first name/nickname after his old partner mentions it repeatedly in front of him.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners - With Flynn.
- Married to the Job - Provenza has been divorced several times, which explains why he lives in a relatively unimpressive rental despite his salary (which is second only to Pope's). It's also been stated that his first wife will receive half of his pension when he retires. He therefore REFUSES to retire
Provenza: I have a civil service job, and the only way that I am going to leave the Los Angeles police department is if I get shot, have a heart attack, and then you run me over. After which I will consider a disability position.
Pope: But you really still haven't told me why.
Provenza: When why my first wife and I divorced, I agreed to split my pension with her from the day I retire. I'll be damned if she gets a nickel.
Pope: That...I understand.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge - His response to Georgette is...unfortunate.
- His remarks about hippies (regarding pot dispensaries) gets him specifically assigned to deal with them by Chief Delk. Bwahahahahah. By the end of the case, he does get to point out to Delk that it was a case of two drug dealers killing over money anyway.
- In "Batter Up," in which the victim is a gay man killed outside a bar Where Everybody Knows Your Flame, he suggests that the other detectives "double up" on their rubber gloves since it's a "homo-cide." Brenda is not amused.
- Seen It All - It takes a LOT to faze this man. One particularly notable incident involved a cooler sent to Major Crimes covered in plastic wrap and duct tape. After it was cleared by the bomb squad, Provenza has it taken into Brenda's office to open (Brenda had the day off). Upon opening it, the squad discovers a body that's been decomposing for 5 years. Everybody either instantly loses their lunch or walks out of the room with their mouth and nose covered...except Provenza, who calmly orders everybody out of the room, closes the cooler and grumbles about having to call Brenda. And in another episode, he can be seen quietly doing a crossword puzzle as the bomb squad clears a room.
- Stop Saying That! - Provenza was the only person in the squad (except for Brenda) who forgave Gabriel when the leak in Major Crimes was traced to him through his girlfriend. He later shouts down both Flynn and Sanchez for their continuing Jerkass-y behavior toward Gabriel, even though Sanchez hadn't said anything that time.
- Vitriolic Best Buds - With Flynn.
Detective Lieutenant Andrew Flynn (Tony Denison)"The world is short one less scumbag. We shouldn't be investigating who did this, we should be giving them a medal."
Second only to Provenza in experience. Misogynistic (especially toward Brenda), frequently serves as a contrast to Brenda's ethics with regards to whose deaths are worth investigating.
- The Alcoholic - But in AA for over a decade, with no signs of falling Off The Wagon.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners - With Provenza
- Heel-Face Turn - He spends most of the first season running Brenda down behind her back, and being rude to the point of insubordination to her face. But when he's suspected of falsifying evidence in an old investigation (which he didn't), the politically-minded Taylor tries to throw him under a bus to limit the damage inflicted on the department. Brenda, on the other hand, believes Flynn when he says he didn't do anything wrong, and she eventually proves his innocence. At the conclusion of the episode, Flynn angrily demands that Taylor transfer him to Brenda's command.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Heart of gold is probably stretching it a bit, but he does come across as a fairly nice guy underneath the layers of attitude.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown - Gives a spectacular one despite his age after he gets viciously attacked after an AA meeting.
- Sharp-Dressed Man
- Vitriolic Best Buds - With Provenza.
Lieutenant Michael Tao (Michael Paul Chan)"Babs, patron saint of bomb techs. Ain't she cool?"
Tech man of the squad. Encyclopaedic Knowledge
of just about anything tech-related, sometimes too eager to share it.
Detective Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz)
Formerly of the Gang Task Force, tends to bring intimidation and awareness of the street to the murder room. The whipping boy of Season 4.
Detective Irene Daniels (Gina Ravera)
Forensic accountant and liaison with Homeland Security. Engages in a relationship with Sgt. Gabriel for one season.
Buzz Watson (Phillip P. Keene)
Civilian sound and surveillance man for the squad.
Special Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney)
Brenda's boyfriend during the first season, fiancee during seasons two through four, and husband from season five on. Winds up engaging her in jurisdictional confrontations
and assisting her in getting information from the FBI; becomes the official FBI liaison with the LAPD
during season six.
- The Alcoholic - Attends AA, has been in rehab.
- Berserk Button - Do not disrespect his AA meetings or attempt to offer him drugs.
- FBI Agent
- Happily Married - Surprise! Despite the usual ups and downs, Fritz and Brenda have been rock-solid since the middle of season one, and it's made very clear that whatever foibles she may have, Brenda loves her husband intensely.
- Never Live It Down- His drinking problem; besides nearly destroying his career, Fritz (prior to the start of the series) regularly drove while shitfaced drunk, to the point that he wake up in strange places with no memory of driving there.
Assistant Chief William Pope (JK Simmons)"I'm sorry. Sometimes she forgets there are other people. In... the world."
Brenda's highly political boss. Willing to play both sides against the middle. Serves as Da Chief
to Brenda, and can vary between stickler for protocol and slicing through red tape depending on mood and circumstance. Cheated on his first wife with Brenda around nine years before the beginning of the series, and when this is revealed it creates no small amount of tension.
Commander Taylor (Robert Gossett)
The commander (Captain in Season 1) of LAPD Robbery-Homicide. Very much willing to break regulation and delve into gray areas to get the job done, despite being extremely political as well. Serves as the LAPD liaison with the media.
- Butt Monkey - At least in Season 6, a good chunk of Major Crimes goes out of their way to make Taylor miserable. This ranges from dumping a lot of evidence in his
super-cubicle office to messing up his Christmas plans
- Heel-Face Turn - Starts out in opposition to Brenda taking over PHD, ends with being willing to point out her blind spots, but accepts her leadership of the squad, over three seasons.
- As of Season 7, this is looking more like a Heel-Face Revolving Door. Taylor is nice or nasty depending on how things look for his job prospects, which makes his real opinion of Brenda unclear.
In charge of FID, the Force Investigation Division, essentially Internal Affairs
. Introduced in Season 5. Comes into conflict with Brenda when she investigates Det. Gabriel after an officer-involved shooting (he fires on a suspect who allegedly fired first). Foil to Brenda, but portrayed sympathetically; they come to something of an understanding after working together to investigate a case where cops are killed in the line of duty, although their interaction is still tense. Gets her own It's Personal
episode when she suspects one of her detectives is being abused by her husband in the season 5 finale.
Was chief instigator of getting Brenda on the shortlist for Chief of Police in season 6, and grudgingly admitted that she actually admires
— or at least respects — Brenda in the ninth episode. The two are currently on - well, on a bit of a more even keel these days, even if they still don't precisely like each other.
- Action Girl: Like Brenda, if she pulls a weapon, it means the cowpies have just hit the fan. But some people might think that being an Internal Affairs cop means she can't handle herself in the field. These people would be wrong, wrong, so very very wrong.
- Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Although the "switch" took awhile, she is now firmly on Major Crimes' side.
- Bothering by the Book: Raydor has shown an astonishing talent for this. Even more astonishingly, she almost always does it to help Brenda.
- Ensemble Darkhorse/Breakout Character: Nobody expected Raydor to be popular, let alone popular enough to helm the spinoff series Major Crimes.
- Fair Cop
- Fire-Forged Friends: After the events of the first ten episodes of season seven, Brenda and Sharon are firmly allies and very definitely have each others' backs - Brenda outright admits that "I know she's protecting my flank." (This does not mean, of course, that there is not still much eyerolling about each others' quirks on both sides. Because there is. But they're getting there.)
- Internal Affairs: And fabulously jarring (and sometimes hindering) in most of her appearances, even though the rationale for her slavish adherence to the rules is simple: she wants everything done perfectly according to regulation so that there is no way someone can claim the rules weren't followed.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: in season 7; will lead the Spinoff Major Crimes when The Closer ends.
- Rules Lawyer: It is part of her job description, after all. See Bothering by the Book.
- Took a Level in Badass: In "Death Warrant," where she shocked Brenda's whole team by shooting a bad guy right between the eyes with a bean bag round.
- Worthy Opponent - To Brenda.