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  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • Of both the novels featuring Raylan and of the poorly received adaptation of Leonard's novel "Pronto", which featured the Raylan Givens character.
    • The pilot episode, "Fire in the Hole," takes both its name and plot from a short story from Leonard's When the Women Come Out to Dance. Printings post-Justified are now retitled Fire in the Hole and feature a big sticker letting you know that, yes, Raylan shows up in a story here.
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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Is Boyd reformed? Or was it all a scam? Is it still a scam or did he actually reform in the middle of it? Or did he actually reform first and then lose his way? We could keep going...
  • Awesome Music: "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive", which is used at the end of all but one of the season finales. The version that plays at the end of Season 5 deserves a special mention.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: When Roscoe delivers a profanity-laced exposition on King Lear in the middle of a standoff in "Wrong Roads".
  • Broken Base: The show's fanbase has quickly broken into those who watch it for Raylan/Olyphant and those who watch it for Boyd/Goggins. In particular, there are those Olyphant fans who hate how Goggins has stolen the spotlight from Olyphant and want him gone from the series.
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  • Cargo Ship: It might be prudent to say that both people in the show and those who watch it ship Raylan and his hat. But hell, who wouldn't?
  • Complete Monster: Fletcher "The Icepick" Nix, from season 3's premiere "The Gunfighter", is a sadistic assassin in the employ of Dixie Mafia boss Emmett Arnett, and the evilest one-shot villain in the series. Robbing the wealthy Delmar Coates, Nix establishes himself early on as an evil man by ordering a pizza, and once the deliveryman is there, Nix uses both of them as hostages. Nix decides to play a sadistic game with them, placing two guns at his table and giving them a "chance" to survive by killing each other, until it's revealed that there is an icepick at the table which impales Coates; Nix later murders the pizza deliveryman as well. Being prevented from a meeting with his boss, Nix, instead of escaping justice, decides to kidnap Rayland Given's wife and do the same thing to them.
  • Crazy Awesome: According to Art:
    Art: First thing we're gonna do is we're gonna acknowledge that this guy is awesome.
    Rachel: What?
    Art: I mean, he shoots Theo Tonin, fakes his own death in spectacular fashion, pushes a guy out of an airplane while he's flying it, parachutes into Harlan county with enough coke and cash to jumpstart the economy of small country, and then he has the balls to get a job in law enforcement, not once, but two times! He spends a couple days riding around with you while you're looking for him, and now he's run off with a hooker half his age. That's some badass shit.
    Raylan: It's pretty badass.
    Art: Yes, it is. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You wanna let those guys be the ones, or are we gonna be the ones to take that badass?
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    • Robert Quarles was basically as dangerous as he was because of his insanity and (later) Oxycontin addiction.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: A US Marshal playing a very real, potentially lethal game of Russian Roulette with a criminal? Not funny, potentially a troubling sign that he's approaching He Who Fights Monsters territory. A US Marshal playing Russian Roulette with a usual cool and controlled criminal who is screaming "JESUS CHRIST! YOU'RE A COP!" at the top of his lungs? Hilarious.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Arrives in the form of Albert Fekus, the prison guard that stabs himself to keep Ava in prison, the night before she was set to be released. This is all despite how obviously he did it to himself, how unlikely it would be for Ava to stab a guard for no reason the night before she was set to leave prison, and the sheer incredulity-straining conceit that he was willing to stab himself out of petty vengeance for her mouthing off to him earlier. In addition, Ava's bunkmate backs up his story for no reason. This all happens so Ava and Boyd could fall out while she's in state prison, setting up the plot for the final season.
  • Evil Is Cool: Boyd Crowder, Avery Markham.
  • Ear Worm: The title music. Which was nominated for an Emmy to boot.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: There are plenty, due to the snarky writing and fun character actors the show often gets.
    • Boyd Crowder started out this way. Now he shares the lead billing.
    • Rachel and Tim, Raylan's fellow marshals, have their own devoted followers.
    • Wynn Duffy was so popular that he avoided death twice and was made a regular for season 5.
    • Ethan Picker has gained some popularity.
    • One-shot character Elias Marcos was very fun, due to Alan Tudyk's intense, terrifying performance. Many fans wanted to see more of him.
    • Jean Baptiste was popular with fans, especially after he threatens Danny Crowe for bullying Kendal. Unfortunately, he's killed off immediately after, due to Edi Gathegi not enjoying his time on the show..
  • Genius Bonus: Anyone with a decent knowledge of anatomy would realize immediately that Dewey Crowe did not actually have his kidneys removed - the incisions are on the front of his abdomen while a real kidney extraction incision would be on his side. Also, as Raylan points out later, the symptoms the evil nurse tries to intimidate Dewey with are not actually symptoms of kidney failure.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Early on in Season 4, Billy St. Cyr dies after a rattlesnake abruptly turns on him and bites him. About a year later, the same thing happens to Jamie Coots, who was also a snake-handling pastor.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Raymond J. Barry also has a deeply troubled relationship with his son in The 100...because he's mostly a stand-up guy while his son is evil.
    • In Arrow Neal McDonough makes a wisecrack when another villain gets their hand cut off.
    • After playing the Swastika-tattooed Dewey, Damon Herriman twice played Charles Manson in 2019, who famously had his "X" forehead tattoo expanded to a Swastika in prison.
  • Ho Yay / Foe Yay: Raylan and Boyd "dug coal" together.
    Raylan: There's nothing like the bond between two men when they work a deep shaft together.
    • Walton Goggins supposes that Boyd is pretty much gonna sleep with every girl that Raylan has slept with.
    • All of the courtroom scene in Save My Love. All of it.
    Raylan: I like the suit.
    • The invoking mentioned on the main page may be a subtle Take That! at the shippers, though, because Raylan immediately rolls his eyes and walks away with an annoyed expression.
    • During their confrontation in Watching the Detectives Wynn Duffy threatens to ride Raylan "like a circus pony". Ugh.
    • In "Measures," Boyd subdues Quarles and orders him to be stripped naked and chained to a bed. Ooooookay...
    • In "Coalition," Quarles opens his robe in front of Jimmy while humming a tune. Jimmy is not amused.
    • In "Restitution", Daryl sarcastically invites Tim to cuddle with him. Later, Boyd offers to teach Tim to shoot with his hands handcuffed behind his back.
    • In season 6, Raylan admits that he will miss bickering with Boyd when he leaves Harlan County. Boyd asks Raylan if he's going to kiss him.
      • In the same scene, Boyd shouts the line "Damn, Raylan, you in love with my balls!" There is a lot of talk about male genitals in that scene.
    • Every few minutes on the show, some character says a line that just screams gay subtext.
    Art: Asshole first, girlfriend later.
  • Iron Woobie: Boyd Crowder. See "Bulletville".
  • Jerkass Woobie: Kendal Crowe. He might be a smart-mouthed brat, but it's painful to watch the Crowes expose him to age-inappropriate vices, Danny bully him, and Raylan use him as a pawn to anger Daryl.
    • Ava in season 5. Even though Ava exploited women in the sex trade, abused Ellen May, and tried to have Ellen May killed, it's painful to watch Ava endure violence, humiliation, and framing in prison.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: In the series finale, the supposed death of Raylan. If he'd killed Boyd it could have held some tension, but there's no way he would end up gunned down by a nobody like Boon just after he'd finally proven himself a better man than both Boyd and his father.
  • Magnificent Bastard: In amidst all the white supremacists, drug addicts, stupid crooks, and other human wreckage that comprised the gangsters of rural Harlan County, there was the occasional villain with some charisma and flair, and the according ability to run rings about series' protagonists Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder:
    • Mags Bennett was the Big Bad of Season 2 and matriarch of the Bennett family, a Bandit Clan of hillbilly moonshiners and marijuana farmers whose influence was felt throughout Harlan County. Ruling her namesake township of Bennett as not just a Corrupt Hick but an uncrowned Feudal Overlord, Mags controlled the Bennett Police Department through her son, Doyle, and the marijuana trade through his brothers, Dickie and Coover, making her the final arbiter on near everything that happened in town. Rallying the people of Harlan at large and Bennett in particular against Black Pike Mining's attempts to buy up the county, Mags secretly cut a deal with Black Pike behind the backs of her fellow townsfolk, selling most of the county to Black Pike in exchange for extensive personal profits that she planned to use to get her grandchildren out of crime. Staying her hand when her son Coover was killed by Raylan (whose family the Bennetts had long feuded with), Mags returned to action when Dickie started a war with Boyd and proved capable of matching him trick for trick. In the end, only the unexpected return of Mags' foster daughter, Loretta, to Bennett, and the ensuing intervention by the Marshal Service proved able to bring the Bennett township tyrant down.
    • Ellstin Limehouse, was the unofficial king of Noble's Holler, the one black community in rural white Harlan. Concerned with keeping his people isolated and safe, Limehouse played Harlan's criminals and law enforcement against one another with seeming impunity, always evading responsibility, and coming out on top. In Season 3 he outmaneuvered Boyd, Robert Quarles, Dickie Bennett and Raylan, setting in motion a plan that saw Quarles killed, Boyd and Dickie imprisoned, and Raylan unable to touch Limehouse. In Season 4, he successfully ripped off Boyd and the Detroit mob both, while at the same time, saving the life of frightened hooker Ellen May and extricating Noble's from the Harlan underworld. Making his final appearance in Season 6, Limehouse again got the better of Boyd, before vanishing from Harlan, one step ahead of the Marshal's Service. No other villain on the show has walked as fine a line between good and evil as Limehouse, and none has ever come close to matching his achievements or his ability to get away with everything.
    • Drew Thompson was a Detroit mobster with a unique penchant for taking Refuge in Audacity. After witnessing Theo Tonin commit a murder, Drew realized that he had to get out of town before Theo killed him to cover it up. Shooting Theo in the eye, Drew stole an airplane and faked his own death, shoving his accomplice, Waldo Truth, out of the plane, then parachuting into Harlan County where he exchanged his cocaine and drug money for a new identity, helping Bo Crowder and Arlo Givens become rural mafiosi while he himself became Shelby Parlow of the Harlan Sheriff's Department. Eventually elected Sheriff himself, Shelby used his position to undermine Boyd's control over Harlan and the office of Sheriff alike, while also joining the recently revitalized search for "Drew Thompson" whose survival, but not identity, had been discovered. Found out in the end and arrested by Raylan, Drew Thompson nevertheless enjoyed a decades long career in law enforcement, and his machinations set in motion the eventual collapse of Boyd's criminal enterprises—the very same enterprises Drew had helped Boyd's father Bo, assemble in the first place.
    • Loretta McCready was the foster daughter and Bastard Understudy of Mags Bennett, and while she might have sided with Raylan against Mags, the passage of time proves that it was Mags' influence that lasted. Aspiring to become a marijuana kingpin in the same vein as her foster mother, Loretta spent Season 6 buying up agricultural land throughout Harlan County under both her real name and various aliases, and putting herself in direct competition with Avery Markham and the various gun thugs in his employ. Allying herself with Boyd, Loretta turned the entire town against Markham with a single speech at a party that Markham himself was hosting, and bought up most of the land in the county. Even the implosion of Boyd's empire and the loss of his protection could not stop Loretta; when Markham cornered her she persuaded him that she should become his new partner, thus surviving until Raylan and Boyd killed off Markham and his enforcer, Boon. Only a teenager when the series ended, Loretta demonstrated that she was more capable than most of the adult criminals on the show, and was left in a perfect position to pick up where Mags and Boyd left off, as the reigning queen of the Harlan underworld.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Bo Crowder passes with flying colors, first when he gets Johnny to beat the crap out of Boyd and executes his entire band of merry ex-cons, and later when he shoots Johnny for working with Boyd behind his back. Arlo doesn't quite win father of the year either, agreeing to sell out his son to the cartel.
    • Mags Bennett crosses it by the end of the first episode of season two when she poisons a man at his own kitchen table in punishment for bringing in the police.
    • Boyd and Ava arguably get theirs when they arrange to have Ellen May murdered.
    • Mob hitman Fletcher Nix goes from cool to asshole in ten seconds flat, when he cheats his way to victory in the "fair duel" he promised one of his victims, then kills a witness after promising to let him go—completely unncessesarily, as the police instantly recognise his very distinctive MO.
    • Robert Quarles crosses the line when he's outed as a kidnapper and Serial Killer of male prostitutes.
    • Daryl Crowe Jr. manipulating his teenage nephew into taking the fall for shooting Art.
    • Boyd Crowder. Although he murders many people over the course of the series, it could be argued that they were all criminals who deserved it in some way. In Season 6 the deaths of Dewey Crowe and Boyd's loyal lieutenant Carl both come out of the blue and leave a nasty taste in the mouth but the totally unnecessary, and petulant, killing of Hagen, the innocent citizen Boyd kidnaps so he can be driven around, really crosses the line.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Maggs, fueling our nightmares with poisoned moonshine and mutilated hands by way of ball peen hammer.
    • Limehouse's slaughterhouse, where he can be found slicing up hog carcasses and the limbs of evil blond men as he intimidates his foes.
    • Quarles, who brutally killed two drug dealers in "Measures" and regularly tortures male hustlers.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Due to the sharp writing of even the most minor characters, there are a few.
    • Fletcher Nix the Ice Pick, a hitman for the Dixie Mafia and dark counterpart to Raylan. With his slow speech, sadistic games, nifty hat and terrifyingly cool demeanour, many want him back.
    • Sarno, another Dixie Mafia hitman, who has the virtue of being played by treasured character actor Michael Ironside. He's badass, very affable and practical.
    • The hilariously trashy Truth family, a group of redneck criminals who are an appealing mix of Too Dumb to Live and The Family That Slays Together.
    • Other one scene wonders tend to crop up again until they become recurring characters. Wynn Duffy, Shelby Parlow, Dewey Crowe and Ellen May were all somewhat minor characters that might have stayed that way, except for the impact they made in their first appearances.
    • It looks as though Detroit mobster Elias Marcos will also be added to the list, courtesy of a brief, but terrifying performance from Alan Tudyk.
    • The Wiz, a wacky safe-cracker played by Jake Busey. Only around for a few minutes, before he's blown to smithereens.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Alba from The Mick appears as a minor one-shot character in a first season episode.
    • Chadwick Boseman as a one-off gangster working with Rachel's brother-in-law in a second season episode.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: In season 2, Ava's role was reduced and she hooked up with Boyd allowing her to lose some of the ire she drew. Of course, now all of that is being directed at Winona...
  • Stoic Woobie: Raylan Givens, most of the time.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Ava, although many would agree that she's been rescued since season 2.
    • Winona, for being very whiny, hypocritical at times, and for putting Raylan under unnecessary stress due to her idiotic actions (the money incident from season 2 stands out).
    • Danny Crowe, for being a Fat Idiot, a Dirty Coward, a Jerkass to just about everyone, a bully to Kendal and Dewey, and a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Coover Bennett back in season 2. Add on how he abruptly killed Jean-Baptiste because he couldn't stand up to him, and you've got who is arguably the most hated character in season 5.
    • Boon, who comes out of nowhere in the last few episodes of the series as a new henchman for Avery Markham, replacing the far more interesting Tigerhawk trio who were just killed off and just being a vile guy with none of what made them fun to watch.
  • Seasonal Rot: As with any show, there will be disputes as to if and when this happened. If internet reviews are anything to go by though, Season 5, with its numerous bridge droppings, uneven pacing, unclear villains, and tendency towards forgetting that Raylan possesses actual human emotions, has some problems. Reviews of Season 6 have been quite positive, however. It's probably notable that Elmore Leonard passed away shortly before production began on Season 5, leaving the crew unable to consult with him.
    • Ava's prison storyline is particularly poorly regarded. It isolates one of the main characters from the rest of the cast, it exists primarily due to a series of fairly ridiculous Diabolus ex Machina, and clashes badly with the rest of the show. While the rest of Season 5 features Justified's usual bizarre, often humorous characters, Ava's plot is a grim, humorless "Shaggy Dog" Story that subjects Ava to a nasty Trauma Conga Line and the only real outcome is hardening Ava enough to flip on Boyd.
  • Spiritual Successor: Amazon's Sneaky Pete, which features Graham Yost as showrunner, a lot of overlap in writers and directors, a similar decaying rural setting for Elmore Leonard-esque crime stories and a few Justified alums in the cast, most prominently Margo Martindale and Jacob Pitts.
  • Squick: In season 5, we learn than Teri/"Candy" has a bed trick involving Pop Rocks you-know-where.
    • Grube's decomposing corpse in "Fugitive Number One" was a nauseating sight.
  • Star Trek Movie Curse: The show suffers this to some extent: Seasons 2, 4 and 6 are considered all time great seasons of television. Season 1 has all the signs of a series in the process of finding its voice, season 3, although widely beloved, was seen as a step down from the superlative second, and season 5 is almost universally considered the worst the show ever had.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: In "Weight", Danny Crowe ends up stabbing himself in the chin because he tripped down a hole while sprinting towards Raylan with a knife in hand.
  • Tear Jerker: The beginning of "Reckoning" when Raylan walks into his former home where Aunt Helen's body lay and the end scene where he is unable to kill Dicky because of what she taught him as a child.
    Raylan: (hushed voice) Goddamn you, Dicky.
    • Let's not forget that Arlo Givens' last words to his son were "kiss my ass." Raylan has done an excellent job of hiding how torn up he is over the fact that even in death, Arlo was still a rotten piece of shit and wouldn't show him anything resembling affection.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Jean-Baptiste, Daryl Crowe's cool and collected Haitian right-hand man. He's given a neat persona, a couple of good scenes, and is then randomly bridge-dropped by Danny Crowe, a far less interesting character. Apparently the actor wanted out, but there had to be a better way to handle it.
  • Too Cool to Live: Rosco, gun toting, D.E.A. headbutting, Shakespeare quoting henchman of Hotrod.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Even creator Graham Yost has acknowledged that it's unlikely they'll have another season as great as season 2, let alone another villain as great as Mags Bennett.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Ava's storyline in prison from season 5, in addition to being mostly setup for season 6, felt like this
  • What an Idiot!: When under pressure, Ava makes incredibly bad decisions. During her stint in prison, Ava juggled too many balls and would have ended up dead or stuck with a long sentence had Albert not recanted.
    • In season 6, Ava tried to trick Limehouse into giving her a car with a false promise of money. Ava planned to use the car to flee Harlan County (without any false identification, money, or plan), which would have brought down the wrath of Boyd, Limehouse, and the Marshals had she succeeded. Raylan called her out on her childish lack of planning.
    • Then, in "Trust", desperation drives her to shoot Boyd and flee with $10 million that Boyd stole from Markham, triggering an FBI manhunt and guaranteeing that she will spend decades in jail if caught. The epilogue reveals she did get away...but it came at the cost of having to give the millions to Wynn Duffy, so in the end, one could argue if it was All for Nothing.
    • Dewey Crowe lives and breathes this trope. Every season, Dewey's hare-brained schemes and poor judgment get him into trouble.
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