EXCLUSIVE: TNT is not ready to close the book on The Closer. We hear that the cable channel is contemplating ways to extend the hit crime drama starring Kyra Sedgwick, including ordering additional episodes with Sedgwick and continuing the show without her, with another character (Mary McDonnell’s Capt. Sharon Raydor, perhaps?) stepping up on the existing series or launching a new spinoff series.

Among the scenarios currently discussed at TNT is super-sizing the 15-episode seventh and final season to 21-episodes with an order for 6 extra episodes. That, of course, is contingent on a deal with Sedgwick, whose contract is up at the end of Season 7. Additionally, the cable network is eying a possible 9-episode order for a new series, either The Closer sans Sedgwick in the mold of the transition on NBC’s comedy The Office after the pending exit of star Steve Carell, or a spinoff series featuring characters from The Closer in a new setting. (The latter will probably be a little easier to pull off as Sedgwick plays the title character in the original series.) Two years ago, TNT took a stab at launching a Closer spinoff called The Fixer, about a professional fixer and his daughter, which was to feature two characters from the original series, G.W. Bailey’s Det. Provenza and Tony Denison’s Lt. Flynn.

It is understandable for TNT to try to extend its flagship show, which remains the most watched basic cable series of all time and this summer helped launch TNT’s most promising series since The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles. (Some say the network may have jumped the gun too soon with the end-of-series announcement on The Closer in early December.)

Additionally, a potential order for 6 more episodes of The Closer along with 9 for a successor series would make a combined 15-episode run, giving TNT another full season to play with that would include a highly-rated 6-episode conclusion of The Closer starring Sedgwick segueing into the show without her. Sedgwick, who in August won her first Emmy for playing Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson, had said that she wanted to move on after the end of her current contract for The Closer.