||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|First appearance||Pilot episode|
|Created by||James Duff|
|Portrayed by||G. W. Bailey|
|Occupation||LAPD Detective Lieutenant|
|Family||Divorced from three women|
Detective Lieutenant Louie Provenza is a fictional character from TNT's television crime drama The Closer and Major Crimes. He has been featured on the show in all aired seven seasons, starting in 2005. The character was created by James Duff, and is portrayed by G. W. Bailey. Generally referred to as "Provenza", the character's first name was kept secret until his former partner, George Andrews, was heard to use it for the first time in the penultimate episode of the fifth season.
In the Closer and Major Crimes universe
Provenza is a Lieutenant II on the Los Angeles Police Department. A veteran of the Robbery/Homicide unit, he is selected to join the Priority Homicide division. Initially, Provenza has no greater love for Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson than any of the rest of the unit, but over time he develops a paternal affection for her.
A seasoned veteran of the Robbery/Homicide unit, Provenza is selected to join the elite Priority Homicide Squad in the beginning of the series. Provenza has served in the LAPD for over thirty years. In 2013 it is revealed that he is the last member of his LAPD Academy class who is still serving on the department. Provenza reveals that he was married four times (twice to the same woman), and in season five he falls in love with another woman, much to his own surprise.
Provenza is injured during a shooting incident in the murder room in the second season. He and Johnson are both put on leave following the incident.
He and Lt. Andy Flynn have a close, albeit sometimes caustic, friendship. (During the first season he appears to regard Flynn in a gruff and unfriendly manner, before it emerges in later seasons that the two share a rather amiable history.) After four divorces, Provenza apparently has several children—he complains about paying a lot of child support. In "Next of Kin Part 1" he also mentions having a grandson. In the episode "Dial M For Provenza", he reveals to Assistant Chief Will Pope that the terms of his first divorce require him to split his pension with his first wife, so he therefore refuses to retire. Pope sympathizes with him, having made a similar arrangement with his own first wife.
Lt. Provenza is the senior ranking officer serving in the Major Crimes Unit under the unit's commanding officer, Captain Sharon Raydor. He is almost always in command at a crime scene or in the field if Captain Raydor is not present. His years of experience as a detective give him keen insight on criminal behavior which serves the MCU well while working cases. He is often mentoring the younger detectives in his unit whether he wants to or not. Respecting Provenza's many years experience as a seasoned homicide detective, Captain Raydor often asks Provenza for his assessment of a case or incident.
An old-school detective, Provenza disagrees with many of Johnson's decisions, but nevertheless harbors a grudging respect for her abilities as a detective and gradually becomes one of her most loyal supporters; he is instrumental in rallying the squad when she is in trouble with the ethics board. He has recently been left in her debt due to a foul-up he had with Flynn, and she forces him to pay off the squad for helping keep him and Flynn out of the fire. At first resenting Captain Raydor as the MCU's new commanding officer, Provenza comes to respect Raydor as an intelligent and shrewd investigator and C.O. Provenza himself earns Capt. Raydor's respect as she notices how he inspires the unit by his example in his dogged determination to catch the violent criminals that the MCU is pursuing.
He is forced into retirement after a shootout incident in the murder room, but is later reinstated when Johnson makes a deal with the CIA to secretly investigate the murder of an Arab teenager. Provenza helps Johnson greatly in this investigation. When Capt. Raydor takes command of the MCU, after Chief Johnson's departure, Provenza starts helping Raydor, despite a rocky beginning between the two of them.
The class clown of the team, Provenza always has a witty one-liner ready. However, Provenza has a soft side buried beneath his hard exterior. He reveals small glimpses of it as he slowly warms up to Johnson and begins to show her more respect. Their relationship further improves after the shooting incident in the murder room. He is also very polite to Johnson's mother, which irritates Johnson's father.
Chauvinistic and politically incorrect, Provenza has been forced to attend sensitivity training for his inappropriate behavior and remarks. He has been portrayed enduring a hard time accepting new or different methods for conducting interrogations and solving cases. He resists practically any type of change and initially resented being bossed around by a woman. Above all else, he absolutely hates it when anyone places an item or sits on his desk.
Provenza, while appearing gruff and hard nosed on the outside, is very sympathetic to the victims of violent crimes and their families. He is very loyal and protective of the other members of the Major Crimes Unit. He does not suffer fools or arrogant people and is not afraid to verbally chastise people of that ilk.
Provenza can be very brave in moments of peril. After their unit confronted a heavily armed sniper in a violent shootout, a wounded Detective Sanchez told Lt. Provenza that he admires and respects him, because in dangerous situations, "You (Lt. Provenza) never back down."
After Captain Raydor takes in young murder witness Rusty Beck, Provenza forms a bond with the boy, becoming someone Rusty trusts to ask for advice and talk to. While dealing with Rusty's abusive father, Provenza, who is vocally against making deals with criminals, is very pleased for once with the outcome of their deal, saying its the best one they've ever made and getting the entire team to act as witnesses on the agreement. When Raydor tells Rusty he has a family among them, Provenza agrees. When Rusty admits to the squad that he is gay, like the rest of the squad, Provenza tries to act surprised but clearly isn't, having grown close enough to Rusty to tell already. Of all the squad besides Raydor, Provenza is clearly the one who's opinion Rusty values most as he pulls him aside to make sure Provenza is okay with it. Provenza, who has been shown to be politically incorrect in the past, cares enough about Rusty that he doesn't care as long as he's not flamboyant, but tells him that being gay is the one thing that he really can't offer Rusty any advice on.
- Ep. 5.14 "Make Over"
- The Closer squad profile