Once a large family deeply involved in Harlan's criminal underworld, time and war with the Bennett clan has reduced the Givens' to a single family, consisting of career criminal Arlo, his second wife, Helen, and US Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens, who goes out of his way to avoid them both. With the Bennett feud and their connections to the Crowders being far from a thing of the past, however, Raylan's hopes of keeping his family at arm's length, are more or less bound to fail.
- Archenemy: The Givens' are the collective archenemies of the Bennetts', with the feud between the two families going all the way back to Prohibition.
- The Clan: They were once a large, prominent family within Harlan. The war with the Bennetts thinned their ranks to the point where only Arlo, Raylan, and Helen are left.
- Country Cousin: Frances and Helen (and therefore Raylan) are related to the hillfolk.
- The Family That Slays Together: The Givens' have a history of criminality, with Arlo's preacher father having been a rumrunner behind the scenes during Prohibition. Today Arlo is a thorough crook, with Helen reluctantly supporting him, and Raylan worrying that he might take after his father in spite of everything—a fact his brutality as a cop doesn't do anything to dispel.
- Feuding Families: The Givens' have a longstanding feud with the Bennetts, which the women in both families worked hard to keep a lid on. They narrowly avoided starting a similar feud with the McClaran family, when one of the McClarans made crude comments about Frances (said feud would also have involved Arlo's friend, Bo Crowder, and the McClarans allies, the Sorensons).Raylan: Well, I guess it goes back to during prohibition, the Bennetts were running moonshine across the state line, and agents busted them. They got it in their heads it was a Givens tipped off the feds. My great-uncle Harold took a bullet to the chest, and back and forth it went.
- Hillbilly Horrors: Invoked by the hillfolk, who live alone in the hills around Harlan and are only too happy to kill anybody who comes upon them.
- Hillbilly Moonshiner: During Prohibition the Givens' were prominent figures in the Harlan County moonshine trade. Even after Prohibition ended, Harlan County stayed dry and the Givens' continued to brew alcohol for the black market, with Raylan's grandfather going so far as to partner with Mags Bennett during a truce between the two families.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Their alliance with the Crowders has run hot and cold for decades, with the Arlo/Bo partnership and Raylan/Boyd enmity being just the most recent incarnations of it. Not matter how many times the families fall out, they always seem willing to work together again.
Arlo Givens is the father of Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. Arlo has a lengthy criminal history and, as a result, has what can be described as a complicated relationship with his son. Other ways to describe their relationship might be strained, broken, or untenable. Arlo is a narcissist in that he is always out for No. 1 without much regard for those around him, including family members. After the death of his wife and Raylan's mother, Arlo marries his sister-in-law Helen. He is a Vietnam veteran who suffers from bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress syndrome and has connections with the Crowder clan.
- Abusive Dad: In Raylan's youth, Arlo was variously violent, neglectful, unstable and psychologically abusive. He hasn't gotten any better in Raylan's adult years.
- Archnemesis Dad: To Raylan, who he's willing to use or betray if it will benefit him. He frequently acts as if Raylan somehow betrayed him by becoming a decent man rather than a scumbag criminal like Arlo.
- Badass Grandpa: Arlo didn't survive for as long as he did just be being a snake (although that was a large part of it). He's a quick-thinking killer who's too easily underestimated by opponents who should be more formidable, but see him as a skinny old man. He murders Tom Bergen and effortlessly kills a fellow inmate with a shank in prison.
- Bipolar Disorder: In Season 1 Helen informs Raylan that his father has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as PTSD. He's now medicated for it, so we don't get to see him enter a fullblown manic episode, but from what Raylan and others have said he was terrifying when he did.
- Character Death: Hunter Mosley plans to kill him in prison to prevent him from disclosing the identity of Drew Thompson. Arlo puts up a great fight, badly injuring two much younger men, but Hunter manages to shank him with a pair of scissors. Arlo spends roughly a day or so in the prison infirmary, eventually succumbing to his wounds.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He betrays just about everyone except Boyd. Raylan, the Marshal's service, Bo Crowder...Arlo: You've known me 50 years.Bo: Should that incline me to trust you more or less?
- Con Man: He was a successful grifter in his younger years, at one point stealing mining machinery and selling it to Columbia to get paid in cocaine. His first episode has him trying to run game on Stan Perkins.
- The Consigliere: This seems to be his primary role in Boyd's new gang, at least before his senility kicks in. He figuratively and literally knows where the bodies are buried in Harlan County. He was previously this to Bo Crowder.
- Cop Killer: He shoots and kills Tom Bergen in the Season 3 finale.
- Dirty Coward: Part of what makes him such an unpredictable, treacherous bastard is his tendency to abandon others to ensure his own survival. He'll sell out his own son in a heartbeat if he has to.
- Domestic Abuse: To his first wife, Frances. Averted with his second wife, since Helen said she would not hesitate to shoot him if he raised a hand to her.
- Dying Alone: Arlo dies of his wounds in a prison hospital with nobody by his side. Considering he spent his entire life backstabbing others, alienating his family and being randomly aggressive, it's hard to say he didn't bring it on himself.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: It takes her death for him to show it, but Arlo loved Helen and goes gunning for Dickie after the little weasel kills her.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When his first wife Frances was alive, he roughed up a man who questioned her virtue. He's also pretty disgusted when he finds out Boyd is working for Black Pike and asks him if he knows what Bo would think of that.
- Evil Old Folks: Well into his old age, and still a greedy opportunist.
- Genius Bruiser: When he was younger, he was a conman and an enforcer for Bo Crowder. As Art notes, it's not every criminal who can claim to have been both a grifter and a legbreaker.
- Hallucinations: In "Coalition," Arlo speaks to a hallucination of his dead wife Helen. Earlier episodes show him talking to himself, suggesting that he may have been hallucinating at the time.
- It's All About Me: His basic attitude. After Helen's death, he doesn't care about Raylan's feelings, even blaming him for Helen's death despite knowing full-well that it was retaliation for Boyd robbing Dickie Bennett.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: As his senility creeps in, and he stops taking the medication for his bipolar disorder Arlo becomes increasingly willing to fly off the handle.
- Jerkass: Aggressive, petty, vindictive, bitter, Arlo.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Every single time Arlo gets close to showing a softer side, he ends up showing himself to be a bastard through and through.
- Last Words: To Raylan: "Kiss my ass."
- Mood-Swinger: Is noted to have been like this when he was younger, nice one moment and enraged the next. According to Helen he has since been diagnosed as bipolar, which helps to explain it.
- No Medication for Me: Arlo goes off his medication at several points in season three, with very unpleasant consequences.
- Not So Harmless: He might be a senile old man, but he's also a cunning and capable killer, as Tom Bergen and one unlucky inmate discovered.
- Offing the Offspring: He tries to do this to Raylan, twice.
- Perilous Old Fool: After going off his medication, Arlo storms into Noble's Holler and demands that Limehouse bring him his wife Frances, who died years before. In "Coalition," Arlo insists that he's as strong and tough as he was in his youth. After hallucinating that his dead wife Helen was chiding him for being cut out of the loop, he locks Ava in a cellar at gunpoint and runs off to prove himself.
- Pet the Dog: He was saving his own skin in the process and was at least partially lying about the events in question, but he did talk down a suicidal soldier burdened with Survivor's Guilt due to his entire unit and friends being killed after he was taken off for "weak lungs" and everyone called him "Lucky", and being unable to qualify for service again because of them, by regaling him with a story from Vietnam.
- Redemption Rejection: He has a chance to make at least partial amends with Raylan on his death bed, but he refuses to do even that.
- Sanity Slippage: He was never the most stable of individuals but with Helen's death he stopped taking his medication and his grip on reality seems to be loosening. He forgets that certain people are dead and goes looking for them.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: His Hair-Trigger Temper is attributed to undiagnosed PTSD from his time as a soldier in the Vietnam War, on top of his preexisting bipolar disorder. It's generally agreed that he was already an asshole before he joined the Army.
- They Really Do Love Each Other: Arlo admits to Raylan that his years with Helen have been the best years of his life.
- True Companions: With Boyd, whom he sees as a son. In "Slaughterhouse," he takes the fall for Devil's murder so that Boyd would be spared prison time. Unfortunately for Arlo, it's one-sided. Boyd has no problems with Arlo staying in jail after he has a chance to get out. He doesn't visit Arlo and isn't even aware of his death until Raylan tells him.
- Villainous Friendship: With Bo Crowder and Drew Thompson. Whatever their problems with each other, Arlo and Bo were a highly effective partnership, and after Bo's death Arlo tells Boyd that he was sorry his father went out like that. In Season 4 we find out that Arlo covered up Drew Thompson's whereabouts for decades, and even at the end it isn't clear if he was going to sell him out or not.
- Wild Card: It's unclear what Arlo is going to do in any situation, and his increasing dementia make him even more unpredictable.
Helen Givens is a Harlan County native, having never really left the small Kentucky town. She is the sister of Frances Givens, long deceased, and the aunt of U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens. She is also his stepmother, having married her sister's widower, Arlo Givens. She is kind and loving, especially to Raylan, but perhaps a bit too indulgent of Arlo's less-than-upstanding behavior — the kind that pits father against son.
- Action Mom: Helen expertly brandishes a shotgun, and she was a mother to Raylan in many ways.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted. She married Arlo after her sister Frances, (Arlos first wife and biological mother to Raylan) died not out of any love for Arlo, but because she believed Raylan needed a mother figure in his life. Its clear that she was among the only positive influences on him during his childhood.
- Character Death: Dickie Bennett shoots Helen in her kitchen, killing her instantly.
- Cool Old Lady: She's a badass older woman with a sharp tongue.
- Deadpan Snarker: Resulting in many cases of Snark-to-Snark Combat with Arlo.
- The Masochism Tango: Her relationship with Arlo could charitably be described in these terms.
- Never Mess with Granny: She takes no flack from a pair of thugs who storm into her house. Also, when Dickie breaks into her home, she confronts him while holding a shotgun.
- Parental Substitute: To Raylan, when her sister was Arlo's wife, providing him with a safe refuge.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: Her favourite weapon seems to be a shotgun, which she keeps handy.
- The Topic of Cancer: We learn that she is a cancer survivor during an argument with Arlo in Season 2.Arlo: I hope you get cancer!Helen: Already had it!Arlo: I hope you get it again!
Raylan's biological mother and Helen's sister. Frances suffered abuse at the hands of Arlo and died prior to the series.
- Country Cousin: Frances descended from hill-folk stock and was the cousin of Mary, the matriarch of Cope's clan. Arlo was embarassed by her lineage and discouraged her from talking about it.
- Domestic Abuse: Arlo physically abused her. She fled to Noble's Holler at least once to escape his abuse.
- Missing Mom: On account of her dying early on in Raylan's childhood.
- Peace Conference: She arranged a peaceful meeting between Arlo and a man who had insulted her to stop their feud from escalating.
- Posthumous Character: Frances is long-dead before the series begins.
- Turn the Other Cheek: She arranges a peaceful meeting between Arlo and a man who insulted her, even though she was within her rights to be angry.
A cousin of Raylan, Frances, and Helen Givens who lives up in the hills of Harlan County.
A leader of the hillfolk, Cope hates city dwellers, viewing them all as swindlers. He tries to execute Raylan and Boyd when he captures them on their territory, and is only narrowly stopped by Mary.
- Beard of Barbarism: His wild hair and beard are indicative of his rejection of civilised life.
- Beard of Evil: A truly spectacular one.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Loves his son Daniel, in spite of his mental handicap.
- Evil Is Petty: His entire objective is to be left alone. To achieve that objective, he'll kill anyone who finds him or his family.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Thinks that killing people is the best way to stay isolated.
- The Patriarch: Subverted. He appears to hold this role, but Mary outranks him.
- Thicker Than Water: Despite his tense run-ins with Raylan, Raylan still sees Cope's clan as family. When Cope and his sons are forced to abandon their old land due to contaminated water, Raylan gives them Arlo's home.
One of the hillspeople who hold Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder hostage.