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Series / Major Crimes

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You have been a homicide detective for how long, and you still expect life to be fair?
Captain Sharon Raydor to Lt. Provenza, "Before and After"

An After Show of TNT's The Closer, Major Crimes premiered in August 2012, starring Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor, alongside much of the parent Major Crimes Division. Raydor takes the helm after the departure of Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda Leigh Johnson, the heroine of the parent show.

With Captain Raydor taking over the squad, the focus changed from getting confessions to getting plea bargains, which are not nearly as dramatic but which save the city millions in trial expenses. The delicate balance between getting criminals put away even at a reduced sentence and pursuing true justice is a running theme of the series, as is the tension between the squad and their new boss, who, as an Internal Affairs veteran, is not exactly trusted. And finally, the series opens up new insights into its lead character's personal life, mostly through her relationship with Foster Kid Rusty Beck.

Even before producing a single episode, the show developed a small but devoted fan following, both from The Closer's existing fanbase and from fans of Mary McDonnell, many of whom turned up because Mary is in it.

The Other Wiki has more information.

Character sheet can be found here, given that most of the characters were introduced on The Closer.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Rusty's mother let her boyfriend beat him up when she wasn't so high she beat him up thinking he was an ex-boyfriend. The season three episode "Letting It Go" makes it worse: She let her boyfriend beat him up because she knew he was gay and was trying to "help" him. And the way Rusty finds this out? She's screaming at him because he didn't let her manipulate him into illegally obtaining a prescription drug to hide the fact she was still using heroin. She also tells him that he owes it to her to fill the prescription, because she raised him even though he wasn't "normal" (ie straight.) She manages to be even worse in her "Zoo Story" appearance, where she's arrested for shoplifting and asks Rusty to prostitute himself again to earn her bail money. Sharon intervenes.
    • Daniel, Rusty's "sperm donor," also hit him in a moment of anger. Sharon's threat of arresting him for abuse is enough for him to sign away his legal rights to Rusty.
  • Adult Adoptee: Sharon adopts Rusty after he turns 18, so they will have a legal connection as mother and son.
  • Acting Unnatural: After eavesdropping on Rusty and Kris's conversation, Sharon has a tough time appearing innocent when Rusty leaves the room to ask her a question.
  • After Show: To The Closer, taken to the literal extreme — it premiered immediately after that series ended.
  • All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: In "Fifth Dynasty", the squad goes after a neo-Nazi biker gang (the eponymous Fifth Dynasty) after they are implicated in the murder of the son of a prominent judge.
  • All Women Love Shoes: According to Twitter, Sharon Raydor has a thing for shoes, most of them high heels. Given that she can be accurately described as a fashionista — her clothes are almost exclusively designer, or at least high-end department store — this isn't much of a stretch.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Rusty is still trying to figure out his identity, though there are many hints that he is probably gay. Though he does take offense when the Defense Attorney accuses him of being gay on the stand.
    • Resolved in "Return to Sender Part 2": Rusty comes out as being gay to Sharon.
  • Amicable Exes: Sharon and her husband Jackson are separated but they still have a semi-civil relationship.
    • Not so amicable as of "Jane Doe #38".
  • Amoral Attorney: Zigzagged — there are some who're in it for the money, and some attorneys, like David Ahmed, who are genuinely motivated by a sense of idealism and principles. There's also one lawyer who, upon realising that his brother killed two kids with poisoned drugs and framed his wife, immediately calls him out and refuses to help him.
    • Phillip Stroh, of course.
  • Arc Words / Title Drop: "By any means."
  • Artistic License Law: After the numerous times that The Closer screwed itself over with 6th Amendment violations, this has changed in Major Crimes. The way they get around it now is usually with the interrogated person saying some variation of "Maybe I should call a lawyer,"(without actually saying "I want a lawyer") whereupon Sharon tells them they can, but this is their last chance to make a deal before going to trial.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Chad Raber raped a dozen young women and forced them to film endorsements of his gym. No one is too upset that his wife killed him.
    • One murder victim was a rapist who was released on parole. And was planning to engage in sex/likely rape once again, telling his own father who discovered his intentions to "mind his own business"
    • A corrupt ICE agent who managed to steal a retirement home away from its residents by contesting a will. Major Crimes can prove conspiracy to commit murder, but they can't actually prove the murder because of how everybody did it, and the DA's office settles for a plea of Manslaughter, with a sentence of house arrest (mind, the residence is an apartment complex with pool and other simple luxuries). Raydor and Provenza aren't too bothered, when all is said and done. It also helped they were quite old and any amount of jail time could have become a life sentence.
    • The victim in "Letting It Go" raped two women and was acquitted on a technicality.
    • The victim in "The Fifth Dynasty" molested his cousins and several other young boys. One of his cousins had killed him.
    • Mary Conrad in "Bad Blood", a former LAPD fraud detective who retired because she was caught taking kickbacks. She's also a chronic shoplifter, stole her neighbors' packages, tried to punch anyone not in a uniform (and even took a swing at Raydor while she was being investigated), and killed a neighbor's dog. That's not even getting into the reason why she was killed! She lied to her own family about losing her pension so that they would have to pay for her bills, risking depriving her grandnephew's chance to go a good school. When her nephew-in-law found out about it and Mary was still all too happy to continue stealing from them, he lost it and beat her to death with her own badge. Then, he tried to cover up killing her by making it look like a break-in. After DDA Hobbs hears this, she states that not only is it manslaughter instead of murder, but there was also a good chance that the killer could walk on that charge if they went to trial, not just because of the lack of evidence, but also due to how unsympathetic the victim was.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: "Do Not Disturb" gave us Ravi Madhavan, a defense consultant from India with diplomatic immunity. He uses this to abuse the squad at every turn, attempting to remove his daughter, a person of interest in a murder investigation, from the country against her will. Finally he gets physical in the squad room, leading to Fritz punching him in the face twice and threatening to have him deported for committing a terrorist act in a police station.
  • Badass Adorable: Sharon Raydor, given her actress. Don't let those big eyes fool you. Cross her or hurt someone she cares about, and she will screw you over six ways from Sunday without batting an eyelash or so much as messing up her hair.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Raydor again. The feats of badass she can accomplish with a pile of paperwork are truly remarkable.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The Oscar-nominated Mary McDonnell is, needless to say, tremendously theatrically gifted. Sharon Raydor, on the other hand...
  • Bad Santa: In "Chain Reaction", one bad Santa takes advantage of a Kris Kringle flashmob right outside to rob a bank.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "Pick Your Poison" Rusty agrees to see a therapist provided he can understand him. Sharon thinks he means his sexual orientation. She is stunned when Rusty wants a therapist who can play chess.
    • In "Flight Risk", Provenza assumes Rusty is going to come out to him about being gay. Turns out he wanted to borrow money to buy his mother an electric toothbrush.
    • All of "Cashed Out" is one. It's set up to look like Sanchez lost control of his Hair-Trigger Temper, putting his foster parent application at risk. He actually did the opposite; lowering his weapon and talking a murder suspect into surrendering. And the review his actions are under isn't disciplinary — he's being considered for the Medal of Valor.
  • Batter Up!: A particularly horrific example in "Boys Will Be Boys". A 12-year old transgender girl is killed when her brother bludgeons her to death with a baseball bat.
  • Berserk Button: Harming Rusty is a really good way to get Sharon Raydor pissed off at you. So don't do it. Regarding Rusty's biological father who hit Rusty a few times, Sharon says the below:
    Sharon: ...we are now at the "please don't let me drive over to his house and shoot him in the head" phase.
    • Crimes against children, for the entire squad, as it was in The Closer. Comes to a head for Sanchez in "Flight Risk".
  • Blatant Lies: The Major Crimes Division totally didn't know Rusty was gay. Not. At. All.
    • The division will frequently lie to suspects in order to trap them, but when Raydor tells one that she's "not the kind of person that likes to get bogged down in all the rules" it's so extreme it gets a Reaction Shot from each of the detectives in the room.
  • Blind Without 'Em:
    • Doris Roberts played an elderly woman who is like this. She is so blind, she cannot even tell Flynn isn't Sanchez at a reasonable distance.
    • Provenza is not quite blind without his glasses, but his distance vision has worsened to the point that he kept missing all his pistol targets (which he needed for re-certification) until he borrowed the above elderly woman's glasses, at which point he got a perfect score. He now wears his own glasses whenever he has to drive or shoot and they help him to the point that he, the oldest member of the squad, was the one who took out Rusty's stalker, who had a hostage with a perfect headshot from about fifty feet.
  • Body of the Week: Naturally. The Major Crimes Unit investigates homicides.
  • Book Ends: With The Closer. In its last episode, we met Rusty for the first time and Brenda shot Philip Stroh while protecting him. In the last episode of this show, Rusty kills Stroh.
  • Bothering by the Book: Raydor's specialty. She's incredibly adept at wielding her extensive knowledge of laws and rules to get the results she wants. Including purposefully refusing to answer Rusty's father's phone calls because she cannot record the conversation without a warrant, but voice mail is legal evidence. Him talking to her with her openly holding out a recorder and asking him in front of her followed by his dismissive affirmation is permissible.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Provenza permanently puts Rusty's stalker away.
    • "Two Options": A perp is spraying SWAT troops with automatic weapon fire, holding a child so they can't shoot back. Fritz waits for his moment, then calmly walks into the room and shoots the perp in the head as if he was walking over to turn off a light.
    • "Dead Zone": Sanchez takes out a high-ranking member of a white supremacist group with a perfect sniper shot through the windshield of a truck.
  • Butt-Monkey: So far, Buzz has done little but be kicked around by the other characters.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Raydor, of course. That said, she isn't above using loopholes to get what she wants; see Bothering by the Book and Rules Lawyer.
  • Call-Back: In "Return to Sender, Part 2", Provenza makes one to his perfect qualification score in "There's No Place Like Home."
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Some college kids scrounge a rolled-up rug that was left out for the trash, only to discover a body inside when they unroll it.
  • Casting Gag: A minor one, but the witness in "Long Shot" is named Angel, and is portrayed by Antony Del Rio. The episode aired on October 15, 2012, and earlier that year, on March 23rd, Kid Icarus Uprising released in North America, starring Del Rio as the voice of the character Pit, who is an angel.
  • Cat Scare: A couple of members of the team experience this when they are raiding a suspect's house and stumble across a cat in the otherwise deserted building in "Cashed Out".
  • Central Theme: The Season 5 finale, "Shockwave", has the recurring theme of "failure to communicate". Most obviously, the suspect in the case plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit. A few weeks later, the police finally processed evidence that would exonerate him, but no one told him or his lawyer. It got lost in the system, and the Major Crimes team only finds it after he got out and started taking revenge. Everything in the episode stems from that one failure.
  • Character Development: It's taking a while, but Rusty is definitely showing signs of caring for things other than himself. Like Sharon, for instance.
    • Sharon was slowly shown to have good sides on The Closer, and that's only gotten clearer now in Major Crimes due to her having to actively earn the trust of the team and deal with Rusty. It's also becoming evident that not only did she learn a thing or two from having to monitor Brenda and her crew for three years, but she's also beginning to take on some of the very same characteristics that she'd once found so exasperating.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Well, Sharon Raydor is.
  • Cold Sniper: The team chase one in "Long Shot".
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Like at the beginning of The Closer, the old boss/new boss issues are in full effect.
  • Continuity Nod: "Frozen Assets" features the return of Richard Tracy, a character who appeared in a memorable episode of The Closer.
  • Cop Killer: The Reverend Daniel Price, known as "Reverend Cop Killer" to the LAPD. As a member of the Bloods he murdered an off-duty police officer during an armed robbery, but the case was dismissed with prejudice due to one of the investigating officers perjuring himself on the stand. In the present, he claims to be a changed man and has become a pastor and community leader, which turns out to be true in Sseason Four's five-part episode "Hindsight". Price's associates are also blamed for the death of a deputy district attorney and her bodyguard, but this was a Frame-Up to cover a murder by the wife of the bodyguard: her husband had been cheating on her with the DDA.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Rusty's father had a good reason, he didn't even know Rusty existed.
  • Danger Room Cold Open: "Heart Failure" opens with the squad dealing with a hostage situation and storming the building. This ends with Provenza getting shot. It is then revealed that this is a live shooter training exercise (and that Provenza just cheated by shouting out advice to the squad after he was 'dead').
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: In "Year-End Blowout", Sykes is preparing Rusty for his decoy mission and tries to drive home to him the importance of always checking the back seat of his car before getting in. One his first day, he fails to do this and Sykes rises up from the back seat and puts a gun to his head.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: In "Acting Out", a former child star is murdered while attempting to make a comeback. At the end of the episode, his agent remarks that this is the best career move he could have made, as sales of his old TV series, his CDs and even his unwatchable concert film are going through the roof.
  • Dead Man's Chest:
    • In "Citizen's Arrest", the body of a young man is found in a barrel labeled "Hazardous Waste" at a recycling center. The killers know that the owner ships the barrels labeled hazardous up north to a landfill without opening them, where they are to be buried for a thousand years. Had their plan been successful, the body would never have been found, but unfortunately for them, while the barrel is still at the recycling center it's accidentally tipped over and the lid comes off, thus exposing the body.
    • In "Chain Reaction", a body is stuffed inside a cello case (although this happens off-screen).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Provenza. Flynn. Sanchez. Morales. Even Buzz! But the Queen of Snark on this show is Sharon Raydor, who can skewer people on the end of her biting wit and does so on a regular basis. The snarkier she gets, the more furious she is.
    • By the middle of season 2, this list can be expanded to "everyone but Rios."
  • Death by Irony: In "Conspiracy Theory, Pt. 4", Sharon starts yelling at a suspect for being selfish. While she's back in the office, despite explicit medical orders to avoid stress on her failing heart, causing concern in literally every recurring character in the show, for a case her team can handle on its own. She's being pretty selfish herself. And the stress kills her.
  • Death Glare: Raydor's got one that could fell an ox at fifty paces. The rest of the squad have them too, and deploy them toward Daniel Dunn in "Cheaters Never Prosper" with very good reason.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Though the process started on The Closer, Major Crimes could be renamed Defrosting Sharon Raydor. Though part of this is revealing other sides to her character, the undeniable truth is that the Sharon Raydor who debuted in The Closer's fifth season is very much not the same woman we see by MC's fourth; she has softened considerably and opened herself up to the squad in a way that early Sharon never would have.
  • Diet Episode: Flynn has an unexpected health kick in Season 2. Because of a high blood pressure diagnosis and his daughter's upcoming wedding.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rusty never knew his father because his mother said he ran off before Rusty was born. Once the team finds Rusty's father, however, he explains that he had no idea Rusty existed and expresses an interest in getting to know his son. Also happens with Sharon's kids, as their father is largely absent from their lives — he hasn't spoken to either of his kids in five years.
  • Discretion Shot: When Sharon is finally told about the threatening letters Rusty has been getting, we never see the actual conversation, because not even Mary McDonnell can top whatever is in the audience's mind at that moment.
  • Everybody Did It: In "There's No Place Like Home", all of the tenants are responsible for the death. As Major Crimes can prove conspiracy to commit murder, but not that the death was actually murder, the killers cop to a collective plea of manslaughter.
  • Everyone Can See It: The only people unaware of what's blossoming between Raydor and Flynn are, of course, Raydor and Flynn.
    Sharon: We're not dating.
  • Exact Words: Tao and Sanchez discuss the exact wording of a contract a TV producer signed in "Under the Influence" to follow Tao for research when they are about to enter into a high speed chase. Tao and Sanchez unbuckle so they can better dodge bullets. When the producer wants to do the same, he is told not to. The contract he signed only clears the LAPD of liability if he gets shot, not if he gets injured with his seat belt unbuckled.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In the first episode, "Reloaded", Flynn is venting at Raydor, blaming her for the death of an armed robber who was about to confess, as the new rule instituted by the department forced them to keep him at the scene instead of being taken to the station where he wouldn't have been shot by his accomplices. As he finishes up by pointing out no other law enforcement agency in the country would have done anything like that, Raydor realizes he's right: it wouldn't have been done anywhere else. So how did the killer know about the new, unpublicized LAPD policy so he'd know he could return to the scene twenty minutes later and his victim would still be there?
  • External Combustion: The Body of the Week in "Year-End Blowout" is a used car dealer killed by a bomb placed in one of his vehicles. A second bomb later turns up in the car of the company's comptroller.
  • Eye Take: All the main characters, pretty much. Often crosses over with Facial Dialogue, when two characters are communicating their mutual disgust non-verbally.
  • Facial Dialogue: Mary McDonnell essentially built her entire career on being able to speak volumes with a facial expression, and she hasn't lost that talent one bit. Raydor has also got quite good at speaking without words to her squad, especially Provenza and Flynn, with whom she can communicate with a mere eyebrow twitch.
    • Demonstrated very dramatically (with Bullet Time, even) during the climax of "Four of a Kind."
  • Fainting: Flynn passes out because of his blood pressure in "I, Witness". It's Played for Laughs.
  • Film the Hand: In "Wish You Were Here", the murderer suffers a Villainous Breakdown when confronted with her crimes and shoves her hand into front of Buzz's camera as he is filming her confession.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Raydor tells Rusty that not many people get to call her by her first name, but he does eventually call her Sharon.
    • The shift from "Captain" to "Sharon", when it comes to Andy Flynn, is an accurate marker of their developing (and ultimately romantic) relationship.
    • Raydor gets here with the squad much sooner than Brenda did. Notably, she's referring to Sykes as Amy by the third episode.
  • Flipping the Table: Sanchez furiously flips a table while yelling at a suspect in "Flight Risk".
  • Foreshadowing: There are several clues during "Sanctuary City" that something's wrong with Sharon. She keeps mentioning that she's not quite over her flu, and there are two occasions in Part 3 where the camera switches to her P.O.V. and goes out of focus with a lens flare effect. That episode ends with her collapsing while ranting at two FBI agents.
    • It happens again in Part 3 of "Conspiracy Theory", when her doctor (who's been monitoring her) calls and tells her to get to the hospital right before she collapses again. The camera does not change P.O.V. when it happens again in the next episode. That's when she dies.
  • Foster Kid: Rusty Beck to Sharon, and Mark Jarvis to Sanchez.
  • Framing Device: Used on a few occasions:
    • In both "Curve Ball" and "Do Not Disturb", Rusty is telling Dr. Joe about the episode's case during a therapy session. Notably, in the latter episode he is debating coming out to the rest of the squad. He does at the end of the episode.
    • "Cashed Out" takes place a week after the events of the case, and features a child services worker interviewing the squad about Sanchez's actions during it, as he's being evaluated as a potential foster parent.
    • In "White Lies, Part 2", Raydor goes to confession after killing a suspected murderer during a courtroom shootout in the previous episode.
  • Freudian Slip: Sharon to Taylor about Rusty in "Pick Your Poison."
    Sharon: My primary concern as his mother is—as his guardian—is his safety.
    • She does it again in "All In":
    Raydor: I do not need your permission to seek medical attention for my son.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In "Under the Influence" the show lampshades how the Patriot Act is fully titled the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.
    • Defied with Special Operations Bureau. The characters commonly refer to it as S.O.B. and nobody mentions the implications of this.
  • The Gambling Addict: Jack Raydor had a serious gambling problem in the past. The fact that he was recently living in Las Vegas suggests he might not be over it completely.
  • The Ghost: Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, Chief William Pope, and Phillip Stroh. None of them have been seen since The Closer's finale, but their influences are still felt, with Provenza asking Fritz to pass along their regards to Brenda, and the preparations for Stroh's trial being a key Myth Arc of Season 2.
    • Pope, as Chief of Department, is directly responsible for Major Crimes' shift from getting confessions to getting plea bargains to avoid costly trials.
    • Stroh returns in the Season 3 finale. Boy, does he ever.
    • And again for the last few episodes of Season 6 (and the series).
  • Golf Clubbing: The Body of the Week in "All In" is found at the bottom of a water hazard on a golf course, his head having been beaten in with with one of his golf clubs.
  • Good is Not Nice:
    • Amy Sykes can be a sweet, friendly person unless one messes up their job and then she can become tough as nails. Rusty discovered this when he messed up his undercover training.
    • The S.I.S. department, the ones who do undercover operations and protection, make it very clear to the ones they protect and use in operations, they will not take slack from anyone as a single mistake could lead to plenty of deaths in the field, including civilians. To test Rusty, they had an officer approach and claim they had his birth mother and she would be dead if he didn't cooperate.
  • Happily Adopted: Sharon finally adopts Rusty at the end of "Down the Drain"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: At the preliminary hearing for the Stroh trial, because of the lack of solid connection between the sender and Phillip Stroh, the judge rules that the threatening letters cannot be entered into evidence. They cannot even be spoken of if the Defense raises an objection. Later, when Rusty is being cross-examined, he, being completely honest, admits to having lied a few times to the police, such as his age back in his 911 call. The Defense lawyer, enjoying this as it hurts his credibility, asks why he saw a therapist and he admits it was because of another lie he told Captain Raydor. The Defense demands to know the lie and Rusty is shaken and unsure to answer. When the Judge orders him to answer, Rusty tells them it was because of a police operation to catch the man writing threatening letters to him and Sharon. Defense is outraged but the Judge shuts her down as she was the one to open the door here. The letters are back in.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Provenza likes to grumble about working for Raydor, likening it to "working for a hall monitor," and has no problem when the rest of the squad joins in — but God help anyone not on the squad who says a bad word about her.
  • I Have This Friend: Provenza claims to have a friend who needs some spiritual advising in "The Ecstasy and the Agony" but he's obviously talking about himself.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In "Dead Drop", the Victim of the Week is an obese man who is found impaled on a branch at the top of a tall tree. It turns out he was dropped out of a helicopter.
  • Impersonating an Officer: The episode "Return to Sender" has Rusty's stalker pretend to be an undercover officer in order to find out the details of Rusty's police protection and lure him into an easy place to kill him.
  • Insult Backfire: A Neo-Nazi snaps at Sharon that "justice won't save you." He points to Taylor and says "by the time you figure that out he'll be in charge." Taylor dryly points out to the punk "I already am."
  • Internal Affairs:
    • The mere mention that he's facing a woman who spent most of her career in Internal Affairs is enough to get the cooperation of a Las Vegas detective who was proving rather stubborn.
    • In the pilot, Taylor points out to Raydor that her entire career has been Internal Affairs, which means that she will need to work at gaining the trust and respect of her team, never mind other cops. This is also why she wasn't promoted to Commander like she was promised.
    • An Internal Affairs Sergeant appears in the Season 3 episode "Internal Affairs", investigating Sanchez's conduct after he becomes a suspect for murder. Like the team, he doesn't believe Sanchez did it, but repeatedly points out that Sanchez will be charged unless they can prove he didn't commit the murder.
  • Iron Lady: Sharon. Which makes a great deal of sense.
  • It's All About Me:
    • In the beginning, Rusty acted liked this. He even interrupted an investigation because no one acknowledged that he was there, and seemingly isn't capable of going five minutes on screen without complaining that they are not doing what they promised him. He finally cuts it out a few episodes in, when he accepts that his mom isn't coming for him and Sharon is the best thing to happen to him in a long time.
      • He gets it from his father, who is more concerned with how Rusty is going to fit into his life and upcoming marriage than the fact he has a son he never knew about, including refusing to contact any of his family to tell them of Rusty. It gets to the point that when he is given a choice between being arrested for child abuse — as he confessed hitting Rusty to Sharon and a recorder on the table — and forcing child services to pick through his life as he is marrying into a family with young children, or signing away his parental rights, which would also ruin his chances of marriage, he asks Rusty how it felt to ruin his life.
        Rusty: Good.
    • Buzz calls Rusty out on this in "Risk Assessment" as though he had lightened up since the first season, Rusty could still be a jerk at times.
    • Rusty's mother somehow manages to be even worse than his father. She tries to use him to get illegal drugs and when he eventually refuses to give into her demands she blames him for her drug use, her abandonment of him, and him being forced into prostitution — screaming that it was because he was gay. In front of the rehab clinic. And then she calls him later that day to pick her up after she leaves to rehab center and starts drinking again. And then she calls him up a few weeks later because she's been arrested. When he goes to visit her in jail, she asks him to earn her bail money by prostituting himself again. The look on his face is heartbreaking.
  • It's Personal: Shit gets personal fast for Raydor during "Citizen's Arrest".
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In "Hindsight, Part 5", the killer, when confronted with evidence of their guilt, grabs a pistol and attempts to commit suicide, only to discover that Sanchez has swapped their pistol with an unloaded one.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Tom Berenger, who plays Sharon's estranged husband Jackson Raydor, had co-starred with Mary McDonnell twenty-five years earlier in National Anthems at the Long Wharf Theatre. They'd played husband and wife.
  • Jaw Drop: Provenza is a near-forty-year veteran who has pretty much Seen It All. But in "Under the Influence" when Rosa Vega makes it perfectly clear that she is fine with her own son being sent back to Mexico for an almost-assured death sentence, Provenza's jaw practically hits the desk.
  • Jerkass: Rusty in season 1. He's rebellious, defiant, complains about everything, and doesn't trust anyone's good intentions.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The team resents Fritz's and the FBI's involvement with their case in "Do Not Disturb". But he eventually redeems himself.
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: Unable to properly prosecute Rosa Vega, a key member of a drug cartel, because of a lack of evidence, Raydor takes an apparent note from her predecessor and has the culprit extradited to Mexico. Rosa will likely be killed by her supplier/bosses because the heroin stash, valued to be worth several thousands if not a million dollars, was obtained by the LAPD.
  • Karmic Death: In "Bad Blood", Mary Conrad is killed with her own badge, the very badge she used to try and get away with accepting kickbacks and other crimes even after she retired.
  • Kick the Dog: The killer in "Dismissed with Prejudice". Where Tao just told the man's daughter that he accepted a plea to not drag her through a trial. His last words to to his daughter were "I should have killed you too!" To make it an extra twist of a knife, he states this at the idea of when she was still a little girl.
  • Lampshade Hanging: During the episode "Poster Boy", someone mentions a spin-off and starts explaining what "spin-off" means. Provenza immediately cuts them off and says "I think everyone here knows what a spin-off is". Because of course they do, since they're all on one.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: Happens at the beginning of "Cashed Out" when Tao interrupts Provenza.
  • The Load: Season 1 Rusty, who for a while did nothing but whine and complain every freaking scene he is in. So much so that in Episode 3, when his mother needed $500 to make it to Los Angeles, the division was happily forking over their own money to get her there.
    Buzz: She can have it all if that means I don't have to babysit him any more.
  • Logging On To The Fourth Wall: Raydor, Rusty, and Flynn have Twitter accounts, which are updated even when the show isn't currently airing. Said tweets contain references to "camera crews following [them] around", or did when filming started again, which means that apparently, In-Universe Major Crimes is a reality show. note 
  • Loophole Abuse: A variation mentioned and averted. The law states anyone who hears a confession of a criminal directly from the criminal can be called into testify about the confession and the actions of the police. In "Risk Assessment" Buzz saved Rusty from this by pulling him out of the room as the woman started confessing, telling him if he listened, he would be a witness in another murder trial.
  • Lying to the Perp: The team's common tactic. It's lampshaded at times by various observers.
    Rusty: I thought you knew. The police lie, like all the time.
    • The most egregious example is in "Down the Drain", where the team has only circumstantial evidence insufficient for conviction, and so Raydor and Provenza lie through their teeth to the perp, with ADA Hobbs lampshading and calling out everyone inside the AV room.
  • Maintain the Lie: A double version in "Dead Drop." Morales comes to a crime scene with his father, a retired detective from Uruguay who speaks little English. Morales has been making his dad think he has far more authority with the team and begs them to play along, so they spend the episode with Morales sitting in on things as if he's always been mostly in charge. At the end of the episode, Mr. Morales speaks to Sharon and Provenza, revealing he speaks perfect English. He tells them he figured out the whole thing right away but is happy his son has friends who care enough to do this for him. He asks that they not tell Morales he figured it out, knowing his son will be happier thinking his dad believes him to be a big deal when he's proud of Morales no matter what.
  • Mama Bear: Sharon Raydor, for Rusty. Especially in "Cheaters Never Prosper".
  • Missing Mom/Parental Abandonment: Rusty's mother left him at a zoo and never returned. The Major Crimes team finds her, but she doesn't come for Rusty. She reappears in season three. It doesn't go very well.
  • Money to Throw Away: In "Moral Hazard", a spree killer uses an air cannon to fire thousands of dollars into the courtyard of a hotel, hoping to lure in victims so he can shoot them.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: In "Penalty Phase", Tao and Sanchez investigate the home of the suspected killer. They find the body of his mother, who has been dead for several months, propped up in bed watching the television.
  • Murder by Remote Control Vehicle: In "Reality Check", the squad discover that a car being driven by a couple on a reality show had its steering hacked, forcing the car to drive off a cliff.
  • My Nayme Is: "I, Witness" features a "professional conversationalist" named Shampagne.
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours:
    • Sharon Raydor's Rule Fu is stronger than everyone's. Yes, Provenza, including yours.
    • Which makes it ironic and hilarious when Dr. Joe calmly No Sells her attempts to get him to break privilege and tell her what Rusty's been talking about with him.
  • Mythology Gag: In the pilot, as Raydor moves into Brenda's office, she opens a drawer, and is briefly thrown off-balance by how packed it is with snacks. Fritz drops by at the end of the episode with a large bag to collect it.
  • Narcissist:
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Shockwave", it turns out the current killer was falsely imprisoned due to LAPD error. Buzz is visibly disturbed by the fact that they put an innocent man in prison, making them responsible for said man's murderous revenge campaign when he got out.
  • Not a Date: Raydor agreeing to accompany Flynn to his daughter's wedding. After that they began going out together frequently "as friends".
    Raydor: We're not dating.
    Rusty: Several times a month.
  • Not So Above It All: One episode involves a dead ICE agent who was handling counterfeit designer handbags. DDA Hobbs and Sykes are visibly reluctant to part with the evidence... as is Raydor, who is wistfully regretful at seeing all those nice bags taken away.
    Provenza: You two are like little girls outside a candy store.
    Raydor: Watching it all being hauled away...
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Rusty realizes that the guy that was trying to kill him had a very similar back story to him. This makes him break down in fear that he could turn out just like him. Raydor manages to talk him out of it.
  • Not So Stoic: Sharon Raydor likes to think she is always calm, cool and in control. She's... not. Although she doesn't take it nearly to the extreme her predecessor did — Brenda's full-on freakout is Sharon's half-sob and teary eyes — she doesn't have to when she's played by Mary McDonnell, who is an expert at breaking hearts with unbelievable subtlety.
    • An especially feels-infused scene is seen in "Return to Sender, Part 2", where Raydor confronts Stroh's lawyer, and is barely able to keep calm.
    • It ends up killing her in "Conspiracy Theory: Part 4", where she grills an overprotective mother who unwittingly framed her son with her murders. When the suspect angrily snaps she knows nothing about protecting a child, Sharon finally loses her cool and gets into a shouting match with her, roaring back that the mother cares solely about herself until the stress causes her fatal heart attack.
  • No Sympathy: Rusty gives his biological father absolutely no sympathy even before he has met the man. Accusing him of abandoning him despite it has been stated (every time he brings this up) that his father never even knew he existed, keeps accusing him that he will abandon him before he has even met him face to face, and calls him out on being late to a meeting despite the fact that he just found out about his son and it wouldn't be easy to just uproot his entire life just to spend time with him. One can almost not hold it against him when he smacks Rusty after he went out of his way to introduce him to his fiancée and her two young daughters and Rusty gives them a Brutal Honesty statement of his history before meeting his dad. note  If anything, one could say it was the breaking point.
  • Number Two: Resentment or no, Provenza steps up excellently as Raydor's second-in-command, and they make a surprisingly effective team.
  • Obliviously Evil: Rusty's mother. Clearly shown after she asked her son to prostitute himself for her bail money. Then there was this conversation with Sharon Raydor when she didn't get the deal she wanted.
    Rusty's Mom: Why?...(clearly frustrated) you are mad at me for some reason! I get it! I don't know why!
    Raydor: That's the problem.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The second half of Season 5 introduces Deputy Chief Winnie Davis. She is gunning for the position of Assistant Chief and resents the preferential treatment that Major Crimes gets. She uses her position as Chief of Operations to make life as difficult for Raydor and her team as possible.
    • DDA Rios starts out as one, to the exasperation of everyone, even Hobbs, who she reports to.
    • Continuing from The Closer, almost every non-Fritz FBI agent is some combination of this and Police Are Useless. Fritz himself gets hit hard with this in "Do Not Disturb".
      • But it's defied for Fritz in "Two Options". Special Operations Bureau Commander McGinnis asks Raydor and Tao if he's just another bureaucrat, and Raydor cuts her off with "Or one of the good guys." She's asking because Taylor had just suggested Fritz as a possible candidate to take over running SOB.
  • Oh, Crap!: Induced in a particularly irritating Las Vegas detective with two lines of dialogue.
    Raydor: This might be a good time to tell you that I've spent almost my entire career in Internal Affairs and I am this close to calling your department and starting an inquiry into your conduct.
    The detective looks at Flynn.
    Flynn: She ain't kiddin', pal.
    • Also the reaction of a white supremacist when Nolan — who's known the guy for years while working undercovertells him who he really is. This ends up flipping him, and his statement leads to a massive search that makes most of the LAPD's case against the group.
      Cox: Oh, this is not good. This is really bad.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Provenza and Sykes are paired together more and more frequently as the show goes on.
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted. Captain Raydor discovers a little too late that Rusty's mother is also named Sharon.
  • Open Secret: Rusty agonises over telling the Major Crimes team that he's gay. Sharon lets slip that they all know already. When Rusty later comes out, none of them are very surprised.
  • Outside Ride: In "Four of a Kind", Flynn is attempting to pull a suspect out of her vehicle when she slams it into gear and accelerates. Flynn manages to cling to the door for some distance before she slams on the brakes and throws him off.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: In "Tourist Trap", an episode of Badge of Justice which "Lieutenant Mike" [Tao] co-wrote wins a Platinum TV Choice Award, for Best Teleplay for [deep breath] Non-Serialized 60-minute Episodic Police Procedural on Basic Cable!
  • Parental Substitute: Sharon is a desperately needed mother figure for Rusty.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Provenza has a lot of sour grapes over anyone but himself serving as head of Major Crimes.
    Provenza: After all I've given to the L.A.P.D., anyone else besides me sitting in that office is an insult. And it's not fair.
    Raydor: You have been a homicide detective for how long, and you're still expecting life to be fair?
    • Raydor herself is a victim of this in the same circumstance. She was promised a promotion to Commander when she took over Major Crimes, but she doesn't get it until season 5.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • In the sting operation to find the man threatening Rusty, the police observers consider a regular at the chess park to be suspicious. The regular gains Rusty's trust by impersonating an undercover cop and keeps the observers from finding out by playing his radio, covering up the sound for the wire. While he does tell Rusty not to let the police know, telling Rusty that he (the supposed cop) would get in trouble with his boss for blowing his cover, the observing cops never mention to Rusty that they've singled out that man, or ask him to ask the man to turn off his radio so they can listen in. Rusty was also never familiarized with any of the members of the undercover team, making the regular's story easy for him to buy.
    • It eventually emerges that Alice Herrera (Jane Doe #38) ran away from her brother when he said he wanted to bring their family back together, because she thought he was going to return her to their abusive parents.
    • This is why everything in "Shockwave" happens. The suspect in the case plead guilty to a murder he didn't commit. His wife at the time framed him and the evidence was convincing. A few weeks later, the full autopsy report, which could have exonerated him, was completed, but no one told him or his lawyer, and then it got lost in the system. He got out after 11 years and went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: In "Reality Check", a Small Name, Big Ego suspect claims to be famous and asks "Would you treat Justin Bieber like this?". Provenza's response is "Who? Justin who?". Sharon diplomatically shushes Buzz before he can answer Provenza.
    • Rusty has to Google The Village People, and he's never seen Die Hard. Gus tells him it's a harmless Christmas movie.
    • In-universe, Rusty has never seen Badge of Justice, so when its star comes under scrutiny when a superfan of his was found dead in his storage unit, Rusty isn't impressed. (Ironically, they would meet at Rusty's high school graduation party, and Rusty spends that summer as a production assistant on the show.)
  • Product Placement:
    • A truly bizarre and blatant version. The Silver Mercedes S-Class... it's perfect for all your hooker-murdering needs!
    • Sanchez mentions Kelly Blue Book by name when looking up information on the above car.
    • Nearly every laptop, tablet and phone used by the main characters is an Apple product.
    • Blue Moon Belgian White Ale shows up twice: first in Season 2's "There's No Place Like Home", and again in Season 3's "Chain Reaction." In the latter episode, while the Raydors prepare for Christmas, there's even a shot of someone picking up the phone where it coincidentally takes up half the frame.
    • The following episode opens with Flynn talking to Provenza while the latter is eating his breakfast of Kellogg's Raisin Bran.
    • "By Any Means, Part 3" involves Sanchez looking up a real estate listing on Zillow. Everyone knows about it, apparently. (Except for Provenza.)
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Sykes was this early on. She even waited to express her beliefs on a case until after Raydor stated hers. Provenza calls her out on it.
    Sykes: I could go either way.
    Provenza: Raydor, you need to voice your opinion before Sykes can make up her mind.
  • Quickly-Demoted Woman: Inverted. Lt. Provenza is a Quickly Demoted Man; he's in charge of Major Crimes for one week, before Raydor takes over command.
  • Rape as Drama: Rusty insists that prostituting himself on the streets to survive was just a choice he made. His therapist, Dr. Joe, gets him to begin to acknowledge that he was a victim in that situation. Since he was underage, Dr. Joe points out, all sex with older men was rape.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dr. Joe Rusty's therapist. He is kind and perceptive enough to help Rusty. And when Raydor tried getting him to spill the confidential information Dr. Joe knows, first by being an officer of the law and then his legal guardian, Dr. Joe politely states the exact legal requirements to force him to break confidentiality (getting a court order and Rusty's written approval, respectively) and then leaves before Rusty might get the wrong idea about what they were talking about — but not before suggesting that Raydor simply talk to Rusty.
    • Raydor also tries to be this, balancing out reasonableness with following the book.
    • Of all people, Taylor, who is making an effort to be this (though Taylor being Taylor, his Slave to PR tendencies flare up from time to time).
  • Recurring Character:
    • DDA Andrea Hobbs, a prosecutor who works with the squad on a regular basis.
    • Brenda may no longer be in charge of Major Crimes, but her husband Fritz remains in the FBI and thus still collaborates with the crew from time to time. This continues when he becomes Deputy Chief of Special Operations.
    • Also, DDA Emma Rios, who alternates with DDA Hobbs in Season 2.
  • Rules Lawyer: Raydor again. Provenza tries to outdo her on this several times and doesn't win once.
  • Running Gag: In the second-season premiere, Provenza buys an all-in-one printer/copier/scanner for Major Crimes with money he won by being the last person from his Academy class still on the force — and in the next breath, says he's charging everyone five cents per page. At least one character drops a nickel into the jar on his desk Once an Episode for the rest of the series.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: Played with. Raydor attempts to hide the fact she was eavesdropping on Rusty and Kris's conversation by reading an empty file.
  • School Bullying Is Harmless: Averted in "Boys Will Be Boys". The abuse Michelle receives from her classmates is considered heinous. The cast even produced an anti-bullying video released online the same day as the episode.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Averted in "Risk Assessment" when a US Congressman, whose son was the murder victim, tells a press conference that the FBI and LAPD have a major sting operation going on in a major city gang, to force them to pull back all undercover agents, risking many lives, all to force them to pursue his son's death quicker than they had planned to move. A full report of his actions, including violating a non-disclosure agreement, would be sent to the House Ethics committee with the backing of the head of the FBI.
    • An Indian diplomat tries to use this a lot, throwing around his connections and diplomatic immunity, right until Fritz has had enough of his bullshit.
  • Secret Test of Character: In "Year-End Blowout" when working with S.I.S., the undercover task force, Rusty is approached by a man who knows there are cops around, tells him to turn off his mike and go to his car without signaling he was in distress or Rusty's mom would be killed. Panicked and scared, Rusty does this, and in doing so breaks all the protocols he agreed to. When he gets to the car, Sykes grabs him from behind, bitches him out for failing to check the back of the car before entering, and screwing up his exam.
    • Much of "Two Options" is this for Fritz, who is being unofficially evaluated as a potential Deputy Chief of Special Operations Bureau. By the episode's end, he's passed, and Taylor point blank tells him the job's his if he wants it.
  • Self-Immolation: In "Penalty Phase", the killer of week douses himself in petrol and plans to go out in a blaze of glory when Major Crimes catch up to him. Sanchez manages to tackle him into a swimming pool just after he ignites himself.
  • Self-Parody: Nearly every mention of Badge of Justice pokes fun at the self-seriousness of basic cable cop shows. Additionally, the show is filled with in-jokes about actors, agents, managers and other showbiz types that are part of Los Angeles culture.
  • Ship Tease: Nolan and Paige get a decent amount in "Conspiracy Theory."
  • Shovel Strike: In "Fifth Dynasty", the Victim of the Week is killed by a shovel strike that almost severs his head off his body.
  • Show Within a Show: Tao is the technical advisor on a cop show called Badge of Justice, starring an actor played by Luke Perry.
  • The Shrink: Dr. Joe Bowman comes in during the second half of season 2. He's an amicable, soft-spoken man who carefully analyzes and regardes his patients, priming them for the next Armor-Piercing Question. He will use any means to connect to his patients, from singing, to cards, to chess. To be allowed to participate in a sting to catch his stalker, Rusty must see him and be evaluated. Rusty finds the sessions, and playing against a stronger chess player, very enjoyable and helpful.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When DDA Rios starts complaining about Rusty seeing Dr. Joe, Raydor shuts her up with one sentence:
    Raydor: "I have all the legal rights and responsibilities of a mother, and I do not need your permission to seek medical attention for my son."
    • Rusty does this to Rios as well, after getting fed up with her over his safety, he calls her out on how he would be safe if she only took the death penalty off the table and made a deal with Stroh.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Rusty's intelligence is established early on when he says he won chess trophies before his mother abandoned him. He rekindles his love of the game and uses it to test people, including Dr. Joe, who is also highly intelligent and loves chess.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: In season 2, Rusty starts receiving letters from someone threatening to kill him and his loved ones. The summer finale has Sharon starting to receive threats as well.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: As noted earlier, Raydor attempts to get Dr. Joe to breach confidentiality on his sessions with Rusty, first as the police officer in charge of his safety, then as his legal guardian. Dr. Joe shoots her down on both approaches, and suggests a simpler approach — just talk to Rusty and ask him how he's doing with Dr. Joe.
    • Rusty also does this by stating they could avoid this entire trial and his life being in jeopardy if DDA Rios would just take the death penalty off the table and make a deal with Phillip Stroh.
  • Super Window Jump: In "Hindsight, Part 4", Amy and Coop arrive a motel just as a suspect flees a shootout by diving through a closed window. He gets up still shooting.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In "I, Witness" a suspect claims to have a potential alibi witness.
    Suspect: She is honest, dependable and absolutely not a prostitute.
  • SWAT Team: A pair of SWAT officers are first responders in "Two Options", and spend the rest of the episode attached to support Major Crimes' search for two kidnapped children. They and a pair of SWAT snipers are also instrumental in rescuing the children.
  • Sympathetic Murderer:
    • "Present Tense" had the victim's parents' old foster son. They were going to adopt him, but the mother got pregnant and sent him back in the system where he was implied to have been molested. He managed to have a successful life, until he met the victim, his old foster parents' daughter. He got frustrated listening to her complain about her parents, and they fought until he accidentally killed her. Immediately afterwards, he felt guilty and tried to bring her back.
    • "Fifth Dynasty" had a murderer who was molested by the victim, his cousin, and was trying to protect his younger brother from the same fate.
  • Tag-Along Actor: Jason Andrews, the writer/producer of a television cop show, tags along with Tao for research.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: The Victim of the Week in "Cheaters Never Prosper" is an out-of-town cop who is killed when his drink is spiked with antifreeze.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. They do have some, but Rusty is dead set against going to one until "Pick Your Poison" when Sharon gets him to agree to see one. His one provision is the therapist can play chess. He can and is ranked as one of the best amateur chess players.
  • Thicker Than Water: In "Pick Your Poison" this is averted between the murderer and his brother, an attorney. The brother-attorney was first brought in to defend his sister-in-law, where he learned she did sleep with one of the underage victims but didn't kill them with Molly mixed with cyanide. The attorney knows his brother has been mixing chemicals and has always been a bit "off". He tells him straight out he will defend his sister-in-law but cannot defend his brother because it would be a conflict of interest and he's seriously angered by his brother's evil actions.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Daniel, Rusty's "sperm donor", hits him, Sharon, and later the entire squad, enters into this when he comes before them. Sharon even notes they are resisting the urge to arrest him then and there.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • Amy Sykes is Black and female.
    • Dr. Morales is Latino and gay.
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: A minor character in "Curve Ball". The man is arrested for using a murder victim's credit card. When questioned, he admits that they found the murdered man's possessions in the dumpster behind the restaurant where he had been manager until he was fired several months ago. He apparently had not told his wife and had been scavenging food from the dumpster, and used the credit card to buy a Christmas present for his sons.
  • The Unfair Sex: Rusty's reaction to his parents. His father that never knew he existed Rusty doesn't even give him the time of day. His mother that regularly abused him he treats with kid gloves and constantly defends her. Heck the Major Crimes unit reaction to them as well. His father hits him once in a fit of anger and the whole crimes unit backs Rusty up. Rusty's mother continues to abuse him, at most she is given a stern talking to and Rusty still tries to help her.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: In "There's No Place Like Home", the killers cut the brake lines as a back-up plan on the victim's car in case their first attempt failed. Finding the sabotaged car is what clues the detectives in that the death is not a suicide as it first appears.
  • Vigilante Man / Vigilante Execution: Alfred Torres shoots the man who molested and killed his son Matty in "The Deep End".
  • Vorpal Pillow: In "Poster Boy", the Serial Killer slams his third victim on to the bathroom floor and then smothers her with a pillow as he cannot risk any noise alerting the neighbours.
  • Wham Episode: "Conspiracy Theory, Part 4" ends with Sharon's death.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Raydor gives a very calm, but vicious inquiry to Father Healy in "The Ecstasy and the Agony". On Rusty's first day at a private Catholic school, he tells some students his place as a protected witness and would be key to taking down a serial killer with his testimony. Some bullies mocked him and started a fight. Rusty fought back and won. The good father wanted Rusty kicked out for lying and fighting, but Sharon tells him Rusty was being truthful and within his rights to fight back. Upon learning the other boys would only receive a minimal suspension for their conduct, Raydor points out the hypocrisy of this and how the father and school's actions are very far from Christ's teachings. In the end, Rusty got to stay in school.
  • Working with the Ex: Sharon gives Jack the opportunity to work as an attorney for a suspect in "Rules of Engagement". He immediately begins belittling her authority in front of her team and DDA Rios.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Sykes is attacking a crazy gun nut's trailer with only Sanchez for back up, and suddenly she's Amy.
    • This also seems to be going on for Raydor and Flynn — she calls him Andy to calm him down or get his attention, and he's started to privately call her Sharon to comfort her after they attended his daughter's wedding together. It wasn't a date.