Terry Crowley is one of the main antagonists of Season 1 of the crime drama series The Shield and a major posthumous antagonist for the rest of the show. It can be argued that Terry Crowley is the main antagonist of the series as a whole.
He was a crooked and opportunistic Los Angeles Police Department detective that served as an undercover informant and right-hand man for Captain David Aceveda and the Department of Justice and attempted to betray Vic Mackey and the Strike Team.
Recruitment in LAPD
His time in the police started as a regular uniformed cop. Eventually, Terry joined the Robbery Division and had earned during this time two commendations from his superiors. Terry was familiar with Captain David Aceveda, who tried to convince him to join the Narcotics Division. However, Terry declined Aceveda's offer.
When the Barn started operating, Terry was contacted again by Aceveda, who offered him the opportunity of joining the Strike Team, an experimental anti-gang unit, consisting exclusively of Vic Mackey, Shane Vendrell, Curtis "Lem" Lemansky and Ronnie Gardocki. Aceveda told Terry that he disagrees with the decision to put Mackey, who has a reputation of a corrupt and brutal cop, to be the leader of the team and that he could become leader of the team once Vic fails.
Mackey then took the young detective to the Strike Team clubhouse and introduced him to the rest of the team and they all would become close friends soon after. Terry was a member of the Strike Team for four months. During this time in the unit, he was never included in any of the team's busts as he was placed by Vic on driving duty and mostly drove the team to their missions or to meetings with potential drug dealers or gang leaders to discuss business.
Seeing an opportunity in all this, Terry informed Aceveda of the team's illegal activities. Aceveda would then see an opportunity to put a case against Vic and the Strike Team. Aceveda then offered Terry to keep tabs on the Strike Team's illegal activities and become his personal right-hand man and spy. Terry agreed. It has been four months since Crowley joined the team and Aceveda asked Terry to keep him informed on any apparent illegal activity that the Strike Team has committed.
Crowley drove Vic and Shane to a meeting with a drug dealer and informed Aceveda of it. Aceveda then requested that Terry meet him at a park where they would discuss the current situation. Terry agrees and goes to the park where he met with Moses Hernández from the Department of Justice agreed to be a witness against Mackey and the Strike Team on a federal case in exchange for a transfer to Washington, DC offices of the department, a car, and a "fruit basket".
Later, at Vic's home, Crowley has a conversation with Vic, during which he mentions that his father was a policeman and that he admired policemen like Vic, even saying that guys like Aceveda don't get it. Crowley then cuts to the chase and tells Vic that he is more useful and can do a lot more as a Strike Team member. After the party ends, the Strike Team gather up and discuss raiding the apartment of Two-Time, a drug dealer Mackey had been targeting and a rival of the drug dealer with whom they had met earlier. Mackey then cheerfully announces that Terry is going to join them in their raid, which will be Terry's first since joining the Strike Team.
However, (unbeknownst to Terry) Ben Gilroy, Assistant Chief of the LAPD, found about the deal between Terry, Aceveda and the Department of Justice from his contacts in the department and secretly informed Mackey of Terry's intentions and told him to take some measures against Terry.
The Strike Team and raid Two-Time's apartment which is near a stadium. Two-Time grabs a gun and some of his drugs while his girlfriend tries to flee with the rest of the drugs. Vic, Shane, and Terry confront Two-Time, while Lem and Ronnie are covering the other exit and go after Two-Time's girlfriend.
Two-Time gets trapped in his bathroom after trying to dispose of his drugs and fires at Vic and Shane. Vic and Shane return fire, killing Two-Time. Shortly after, Vic and Shane enter the bathroom and Vic takes Two-Time's gun out of his hand. Vic then turns around and shoots Crowley in the face, below his left eye. Terry didn't die immediately and as he stared at Vic, he realized what just happened to him before closing his eyes.
After rigging the crime scene evidence, Vic called 9-1-1 and a still alive Terry was taken to the hospital, where he eventually died from his gunshot wound.
Terry's betrayal and own death have a devastating consequence for Mackey and his team throughout the series as many of Mackey's superiors try and (albeit unsuccessfully) pin the murder on him. Shane Vendrell used Terry's betrayal as an example that anyone who attempts to betray the team must be put down and reluctantly killed Lem in season five after wrongly believing that he was an informant, when this was actually a lie, fed by IAD Lieutenant Kavanaugh who attempted to arrest the whole team for Terry's murder.
- Terry's death is constantly ranked as one of the most shocking TV deaths.
- Despite only appearing in one episode (the pilot), it can be argued that Terry is one of the main antagonists of The Shield, if not the main antagonist. His murder at the hands of Vic would be a thorn in their side for the rest of the series and arguably is what marked the beginning of the end (though Vic himself believed that point to be the robbery of the Armenian Mafia money train).