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Justified: A Character Guide (The Leads)

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Justified has done to the Elmore Leonard characters what few other attempts to film his work has done, and gotten it right. Leonard’s characters are unlike any other novelist’s. Before he even let his characters on the page, Leonard made doubly sure they were lean, mean and, for good measure, a little  off-center as well. Justified is no different. The complex characters that inhabit Harlan are anything but one-dimensional. Everyone’s a bad guy, in a way. There are only degrees of goodness. Here now is a list of some of Kentucky’s finest citizens –

Raylan Givens -

Raylan is old school. If you’re a bad guy, there is a pretty good chance you will be shot by him at some point. Heck, even his family, mainly his dad, at some point, wandered into the path of a Raylan bullet. Raylan grew up in Harlan county and tried to escape it as fast as humanly possible, even though he still carries it around with him. After killing a cartel drug runner named Tommy Bucks in Miami and the resulting fallout, Raylan is reassigned to the Lexington, Kentucky field office of the US Marshals, Harlan county being closer than ever for Raylan. He is assigned to investigate his former childhood friend Boyd Crowder, who the authorities suspect blew up an African-American church. The past now is right in front of Raylan and ready to take as much of his hide as it can get. His father Arlo, his ex-wife Winona, Boyd, Ava, Bowman Crowder’s—who is Boyd’s brother, and his ex-wife, all will complicate his life.

2. Boyd  Crowder -

Boyd is a career criminal like his dad. Boyd is both a friend of Raylan’s and an adversary. It is through Boyd’s father, Bo, that Boyd is introduced to Raylan.  Never a quitter, Boyd has to regroup several times after defeats, but he always b0unces back, no matter what. Unexpectedly, he falls in love with Ava, his brother Bowman’s ex-wife. All Boyd knows is a criminal life but, as the series goes on, and his relationship with Ava develops, he only draws Raylan’s ire further. Boyd is the bad boy Justified fans root for. No matter his deeds, he has a place in their hearts. Ava and he are almost like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde.

3. Arlo Givens -


Most of the time, sons strive their whole lives not to be what their fathers were and that is what continually propels Raylan, not to be anything like Arlo. Arlo is a career criminal who worked Harlan county with Boyd Crowder’s father, Bo. His criminal activities fractured his relationship with Raylan beyond repair. Raylan blames Arlo for the death of his mother and holds Arlo personally responsible for the murder of his Aunt Helen at the hands of Dickie Bennett. In season four, Arlo is murdered by former Harlan sheriff Hunter Moseley, who Raylan helped put away.

4.  Ava Crowder -

Ava had enough of Bowman Crowder’s  abuse and shot him dead. She was sentenced with parole and went back to their house. Boyd was there waiting for her. Raylan appeared and, in a scene eerily similar to the one in Miami, where he kills Tommy Bucks while sitting at a table, he shoots Boyd. Ava and Raylan have a brief relationship, but Boyd is not far out of the picture. Ava eventually takes him in and the two develop a relationship. She tries to get Boyd to change his ways, but he ends up drawing her into a life of crime.

5. Winona Hawkins –

Winona is Raylan’s ex-wife and a court reporter. She has remarried by the time Raylan comes back into the picture. Raylan wants to pick up where they left off, but Winona is resistant for a while. Eventually, Winona gives in and Raylan and she make love. Complicating both of their lives is the fact that she becomes pregnant. After being kidnapped, Winona decides she has to be someplace safer for the baby’s sake.







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