The Crusaders are the kings of Super Rugby for the first time in nine years after downing a 14-man Lions outfit 25-17 in the final in Johannesburg.
Kwagga Smith's 38th-minute red card for tackling David Havili in the air - with his side already 12-3 down - put paid to the Lions' hopes, despite a spirited second-half effort in which they scored two tries.
In the end, Test skipper Kieran Read's 42nd-minute try - coupled with a pair of Richie Mo'unga penalty goals - were enough for the Crusaders to get the result.
Seta Tamanivalu and Jack Goodhue also scored for the Cantabrians.
"It's amazing, the whole group's been working hard the whole year, and it's not just the boys here, it's the guys at home," captain Sam Whitelock said.
"I'm just so proud of the boys and the way they fronted, especially today.
"We knew we had to keep playing, keep attacking, and full credit to them - they put us under a massive amount of pressure.
"The boys just showed that true grit."
Despite a one-man advantage and boasting a 25-3 lead at the 60-minute mark, Scott Robertson's troops ended up doing it the hard way.
Enjoying all the possession and territory at Ellis Park, the Lions twice barged over a pliant Crusaders defence through Malcolm Marx and Corne Fourie.
The Lions ended the match with 62 per cent possession, as well as more running metres, carries, line breaks and passes.
But Tamanivalu's breakaway effort in the ninth minute, as well as Goodhue's try in the left corner two minutes later, gave the Lions a mountain to climb, one which ultimately proved too high after Smith's dismissal.
Goodhue's midfield partner Ryan Crotty was a colossus, while Whitelock, Read, Mo'unga and Havili also made their mark.
For the Lions, meanwhile, long-serving coach Johan Ackermann will head to English club Gloucester on a sour note.
"Well done to the Crusaders, they're a champion side - we knew from the beginning that it was never going to be easy," Lions captain Jaco Kriel said.
The now eight-time champions' victory the first occasion in which a Super Rugby side has crossed the Indian Ocean for a grand final and returned home with the trophy.