If I liked being called a bitch to my face, I'd still be married!

Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson is the commanding officer of the LAPD's Major Crimes Division (formerly known as the Priority Homicide Division) on The Closer.

She is an intelligent, determined, and exacting woman who may offend some people involved in her cases, or coworkers, but she has powerful skills to determine the facts of a crime, compel confessions, and close cases. Thus, she is "a closer".

Character Information Edit

An expert at interrogations, Brenda has a long history in law enforcement. She worked for the police in Atlanta, where she is born and raised, and later for the U.S. State Department as well as the CIA. She was married at one point to a co-worker in Atlanta, but it ended in divorce.

In "Drug Fiend," while struggling with her father's recovery, Brenda is able to get a cancer specialist, formerly a suspect in a case, to take him as a patient. Subsequently in "Last Rites" Brenda struggles to balance taking care of her father and searching for a killer. As a result, she ignores her mother's repeated attempts to speak with her, putting the conversation off until the next morning. When she attempts to wake her mother to have the conversation the next morning, Brenda finds that her mother has died in her sleep.

In "Armed Response," Brenda returns from bereavement leave early to investigate the murder of a decorated war hero. After getting annoyed by DDA Claire Baldwin always hanging around, Brenda learns that an DDA being attached to Major Crimes is one of the compromises Pope made to keep the division and Brenda. Additionally, Pope reveals that Brenda was originally meant to take the Assistant Chief's job but her actions have resulted in it going to Taylor. After David Gabriel's fiancé is revealed to be the leak, Brenda is forced to confront her guilt over what happened with Turrell Baylor and she refuses to let David quit, admitting that she's starting to feel that she spends more time caring about what murderers have to say than the living. After finally returning home for the first time since her mother's death, Brenda breaks down in Fritz's arms.

At the end of The Closer, she wanted to capture Phillip Stroh by any means necessary, leading her to assault him. Brenda, knowing she will lose her job, retires from the LAPD and accepts a new job as the Chief of the District Attorney's Office's Bureau of Investigation. While its more administrative, she can still work in the field sometimes if she so chooses. She also has David Gabriel transferred there to act as liaison officer for the LAPD.

In Season 3 of Major Crimes, Fritz tells the team she's considering a new job in Washington, DC. However, Fritz gets a job as the Deputy Chief in charge of the LAPD's Special Operations Bureau and it is unknown how it affects her choice. She is also unaware that Fritz had a heart attack and now needs a pacemaker with only Michael Tao knowing.

In “Sanctuary City, Part 1”​, after Phillip Stroh's possible return, a protection detail is ordered for Brenda as well as Emma Rios, Rusty Beck and possibly Linda Rothman.

In “By Any Means, Part 3”​, while putting on a show for Stroh and his accomplice Dylan Baxter, Fritz states that all security details will be pulled back. The detectives "angrily," as part of the show, point out that the detail on Brenda is unlikely to be pulled back by Fritz.

In “By Any Means, Part 4”​, after Stroh is killed by Rusty, Fritz tells the young man that Brenda had a hard time processing the news that Stroh was finally gone as well.

Officer-involved shootingsEdit


  • Brenda has three brothers, Clay Jr, Bobby and Jimmy. Clay Jr. is married to a woman named Amy. Bobby is married to a woman named Joyce, and they have a daughter, Charlene, named after Brenda's paternal grandmother. Jimmy lives in a small apartment in New York with his partner Frank.
  • Brenda's niece, Charlene (Charlie) Johnson was sent to her grandparents (Clay Sr. and Willie Rae Johnson) when her parents, (Bobby and Joyce Johnson), became tired of her. When her grandparents also got tired of her, they sent her to her aunt Brenda and her husband, Fritz. She eventually was sent home to her parents, after Brenda straightened her up.
  • Brenda's favorite merlot is a McCray Ridge 1997. ("To Protect & to Serve")
  • In “Reloaded”​, the Major Crimes series premiere, its revealed that Brenda left her desk full of snack food. She later sends Fritz to clear it out, though he gives one to Captain Sharon Raydor who later gives it to Rusty Beck.

Career Information Edit

  • When in uniform, Brenda wears four service stripes on her uniform. Each stripe represents five years of service in the LAPD which which would mean 20-24 years of service, even though she had only served for seven years at the time of her retirement at the end of The Closer. Her previous positions in law-enforcement throughout the country are most likely the reason for her stripes. (Last seen in "Repeat Offender"; July, 2011.)
    • Interestingly, this same courtesy is not extended to her husband, Fritz Howard, when he was appointed as the Deputy Chief in charge of the Special Operations Bureau in Season 3 of Major Crimes. Fritz had served 27 years with the FBI but didn't receive any service stripes for his uniform.
  • Medals and service awards worn by Chief Johnson: (“Repeat Offender”)
Ribbon Award name
LAPD-Police-Medal-for-Heroism Police Medal

The Police Medal is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for individual acts of heroism in the line of duty, though not above and beyond the call of duty, as is required for the Medal of Valor.

  • Goof: Brenda could be seen wearing the Police Medal on her uniform but she was wearing the colors wrong way round, white on the left and red on the right.
LAPD-Human-Relations-Medal Human Relations Medal

The Human Relations Medal is awarded to officers who have in their day‑to‑day activities shown great compassion and have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their response to fellow human beings.

LAPD-Police-Life-Saving-Medal Police Life Saving Medal

The Police Life Saving Medal is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for taking action in order to rescue or attempt the rescue of either a fellow officer or any person from imminent danger.

LAPD-Sharpshooter-Marksmanship-Badge Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge

Officers must score 340 out of a possible 400 points in the voluntary bonus qualification shoots (held every month). Officers who have qualified as Sharpshooters receive $16 in compensation in their bi-weekly paychecks.

The Closer Characters
Brenda Leigh JohnsonSharon RaydorFritz HowardWill PopeRussell TaylorLouie ProvenzaAndy FlynnMichael TaoDavid GabrielJulio SanchezIrene DanielsBuzz WatsonDr. Fernando Morales