The 12 Best Boyd Crowder Moments On Justified

A gritty Neo-Western layered with Old South sensibilities that is both deadly serious and offhandedly comical, there has never been a television show like "Justified." While Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is the hero of the story, equal billing must be given to Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Raylan's primary adversary, occasional ally, and constant thorn in his side. Goggins took what threatened to be a forgettable, one-note white supremacist and brought him to joyous life. Boyd is a leprechaun in a black vest and cowboy boots, bewitching us with his cordial drawl and his propensity for eloquence, making us forget that he just killed someone in cold blood — making us like him, even. He is one of the greatest antagonists of all time in part because he is ever-changing, a quality that makes him multidimensional and human.

Unfortunately, there is no indication that Boyd will be part of the "Justified: City Primeval" spin-off, which is disappointing if unsurprising. The Joker isn't in every Batman movie, and variety is a good thing, but just as the Clown Prince of Crime remains Batman's greatest antagonist, Boyd will be hard to replace in the spin-off. With that in mind, let's look back on Boyd's best moments from "Justified." "Best" in this context usually means "most awesome," but it also includes moments of great character development, funny lines, and particularly memorable scenes, of which Boyd has quite a few!

Boyd comes to Jesus

Boyd sees divine intervention at play after Raylan's bullet puts him in the hospital, claiming the shooting saved his life. He pledges to walk a virtuous path henceforth and eventually forms his own church in the woods. It's really more of a vagrant camp, and his flock is composed of drifters, addicts, and hard cases. That is on-brand, as Boyd's form of evangelizing tends to involve firearms and explosions. When a meth lab refuses to quit poisoning Harlan, Boyd thinks nothing of burning it down. 

The highlight of his ministry comes in Season 1, Episode 12. Boyd attends church service with his daddy, Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey), who was recently released from prison. The two men are at odds, as Bo wants to renew his life of crime, and Boyd strives to stay on the straight and narrow. During the service, Boyd witnesses to the congregation. Boyd's speech is full of hilariously inventive language. After comparing himself to Saul on the road to Damascus, he says, "I'm here to tell you today that bullet missed my heart, but it struck my soul." 

With Boyd's frenzied energy and dancing feet, the scene feels like a spiritual revival complete with people shouting "Amen!"  Boyd, being Boyd, uses the opportunity to deliver a pointed message to his daddy. Like Jesus chasing moneychangers from the temple, they must cast out those that practice evil. He ends with a haymaker. While looking right at his daddy, Boyd calls God "my one true father."

Boyd saves the day

In Season 1, Episode 13, Boyd hijacks a drug shipment from Miami bound for his father. Rather than seize the shipment and go into business with his cousin, Johnny (David Meunier), as Johnny expectedBoyd deals with the drugs the only way he knows how — with a rocket launcher. Suddenly in hock to a Miami crime lord, Bo Crowder has Boyd beaten and sent into exile. He then executes Boyd's followers. Bo kidnaps Ava (Joelle Carter), intent on trading her for Raylan and offering up the Marshal as penance to Miami. 

Boyd knows where his daddy took Ava and offers to help Raylan with what seems like a suicide mission. It's the first of several times the longtime adversaries find themselves with a common cause. Each of these stalemates is a delight, as they give their mostly-antagonistic relationship a new if temporary dimension. And they briefly give the audience a taste of what we desperately crave: these two men united in friendship.

Boyd helps Raylan get the drop on Bo, but they are ambushed by Miami thugs before they can rescue Ava. Bo is killed, and Boyd takes a bullet. The thugs surround the cabin and clarify that they just want Raylan Givens. Boyd replies, somewhat cheekily, "I'm Raylan Givens." Raylan intervenes before Boyd can sacrifice himself, and while it's not clear if Boyd would've gone through with it, this scene remains one of his most heroic moments.

Always be cool

Season 2 finds Boyd at a crossroads. Gone is his conviction to be a godly man, but without his faith to sustain him, he's adrift. He gradually comes to accept that he is a criminal, almost by birth. "It's who I am, Ava. As hard as I've been trying to pretend otherwise."

This revelation comes in Season 2, Episode 5 after Boyd is coaxed into helping rob the mine he's been working at for reasons that aren't entirely clear to himself. He doesn't completely trust the three other men and confirms his suspicions with a nifty bit of sleight of hand involving his cell phone. They intend on double-crossing Boyd and leaving him buried in rubble. Boyd seemingly goes along with the plan but improvises, introducing wrinkles to turn the tables in his favor. As he tells one of the men, "If you wanna make a living in this business, you gotta know your ABCs: Always Be Cool." 

Per his motto, Boyd slips the explosives into the bag carried by his accomplices. They arm the detonator, expecting to kill Boyd and the foreman but are instead vaporized themselves. Boyd walks away with $20,000 in cash and the gratitude of foreman Shelby Parlow (Jim Beaver), who promises to provide Boyd with an alibi. Though everything he did is cast in a largely heroic light, this heist christens Boyd Crowder a born-again outlaw.

Boyd rescues Raylan

The Bennett clan is a major new adversary introduced during Season 2. There's been bad blood between the Givens and Bennett families going back generations. As Boyd says, "A small town never forgets." Tempers simmer on both sides until boiling over in the season finale. While making an arrest, Raylan is bashed from behind by Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) and knocked unconscious. When he wakes, he finds himself dangling from a tree like the world's biggest piñata. 

Dickie starts laying into Raylan with a bat. He doesn't get more than a few licks in before Boyd arrives and puts a stop to it. At gunpoint, he orders Dickie to cut down Raylan. But Boyd isn't there to act the hero. Dickie shot Ava, and Boyd wants revenge. Raylan starts to walk away but realizes he needs Dickie's help, and he can't get it if Dickie is dead.

With pistols at their sides, Boyd and Raylan face each other. The scene has the feel of a standoff at high noon. Boyd knows better than to try to draw down on Raylan Givens again, though. "Well are you asking me or you telling me," Boyd asks. Raylan suggests that Boyd can tell people he asked if it makes him feel better. The exchange is classic Raylan and Boyd who often feel more like squabbling siblings than anything else. Moments like this are what make "Justified" so beloved.

Boyd kills Devil

The downside to running a criminal organization — apart from all the moral quandaries and that whole "breaking the law" bit — is that the sort of people drawn to work for such an outfit are the same type of people you really shouldn't trust. Betrayal is an occupational hazard, something every burgeoning crime lord eventually has to deal with. In Season 3, Episode 4, Boyd comes to learn this lesson himself, but he takes it in stride as only he can. 

Devil (Kevin Rankin), with his bristling manner and sleeveless ensemble, has been a gun thug in Boyd's employ and one of his confidants since Season 2. However, dissatisfied that Boyd is no longer all-in on white supremacy (which was a character tweak Goggins requested before taking the role) Devil cozies up with carpetbagger Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) and decides to take Boyd out.

Boyd is unfazed and tries to talk Devil off the ledge. "This road you seem bent on taking, once you go down it, there ain't no coming back." There is no menace in Boyd's tone, only quiet dismay. Devil is impenitent and determined to see this through, but he quickly comes to understand why Boyd is the man he is. "Devil, knowing me the way that you do, whatever led you in your imagination to believe you could pull this off?" Boyd shoots Devil in the chest. As Devil lies dying, Boyd is truly regretful. "All I ever asked for was your loyalty."

Boyd grandstands for Shelby

A large part of Boyd's charm is his tendency to use 30 words when three would do and his surprisingly poetic turns of phrase. Beneath the lazy drawl and sardonic manner is a man of fierce intellect, and that often puts him at odds with the rest of Harlan's criminal "elite," most of whom probably haven't touched a book in years. Even Raylan, savvy and smart as he is, often ends up baffled. 

There are a few scenes in which Boyd seizes the mic and uses the full power of his megawatt personality and his extensive vocabulary to charm or persuade an audience. These moments are delightful bits of theater that are some of Goggins' best work, turning the normally reserved Boyd into a kind of joyous carnival barker. The best such moment comes in Season 3, Episode 9. 

Boyd crashes a town debate for county sheriff, despite being ineligible to vote as a convict. He grandstands for Shelby, his candidate of choice, mostly by pointing out how questionable Tillman Napier (David Andrews) is as an alternative. "Mr. Napier, everybody here knows that the only men the company doesn't do wrong are company men." Boyd plays to the crowd's natural distrust of corporations and how they "laugh at all us hillbillies." Boyd's speech isn't enough to swing the election in Shelby's favor, but a simple bribe settles the matter to Boyd's satisfaction.

Boyd proposes to Ava

When it comes to courtship, Boyd's pursuit of Ava was the road less traveled. Here's a brief recap of everything Ava was to Boyd through the first four seasons: attempted murderer, damsel in distress, reluctant roommate, cautious friend, convenient alibi, lover, business partner, and confidant. Yet, true love grew between them, and for one brief, shining moment, it seemed like Boyd might have everything he ever wanted: a powerful criminal outfit with himself at the head and the girl, too.

In Season 4, Episode 6, Boyd and Ava are stargazing from the tailgate of his pickup. Boyd opens a box stuffed full of cash, enough for a down payment on a house in an expensive neighborhood. "This is why we're doing the things we're doing. It's for the future. In three generations' time, we'll be an old family name. Nobody will think twice about their kid playing with a Crowder kid after school." Then, Boyd produces a ring and gets down on his knee.

The scene is a rare bit of joy in an otherwise bleak life, and though Boyd's misery is entirely self-inflicted, you can't help but want good things for him. This moment was the apex of Ava and Boyd's relationship before the long, tragic descent.

Boyd outwits the Clover Hillers

As part of their "moving on up" storyline in Season 4, Boyd and Ava begin to hobnob with a corrupt group of businessmen from the well-to-do Clover Hill area, men who fancy themselves top dogs in the Harlan underworld. They first meet Lee Paxton (Sam Anderson), Gerald Johns (Ned Bellamy), and Arnold (Brian Howe) at a swinger party thrown by Tillman Napier, the former sheriff of Harlan. In Boyd, the Clover Hillers see a convenient toady, and they give him an ultimatum: Kill the owner of Black Pike Mining or they will destroy him.

In Episode 8, Boyd uses his contacts with the Detroit Mob to strip Lee, Gerald, and Arnold of their influence with law enforcement, nullifying their power. They are out of their element, he explains. "I am the outlaw, and this is my world, and my world has a high cost of living." Then, he presents a counter offer: $100,000 from each man and his own Dairy Queen. The ice cream franchise seems to be Boyd being flippant, but you never can tell. None of the Clover Hillers think it's funny anyway.

Boyd meets Daryl Crowe Jr.

We learn in the pilot episode that lovable loser Dewey Crowe hails from the swamps of Florida, a lineage Dewey proudly parades by wearing a chintzy alligator tooth necklace everywhere. During Season 5, a gaggle of his kin moves north to Kentucky in search of fresh opportunities, much to Dewey's dismay. As he tells Raylan, "Those Florida Crowes are bad news."

Daryl Crowe Jr. (Michael Rapaport), head of the family and perpetual schemer, comes looking for Boyd, hoping to shake him down for what he feels the Crowes are owed. Daryl only knows Boyd by reputation and thus doesn't recognize him when Boyd enters the bar. Sensing something is up, Boyd cooly orders a drink as though he's just a local. The two men chat, with Daryl piling on insults about Boyd and his establishment.

Once he's heard enough, Boyd pulls a gun and gives Daryl 60 seconds to state what he wants. Daryl wants the price Dewey paid for Audrey's (a bar-brothel) plus interest. Boyd says no to that, but his response leaves Daryl a bit confused, leading to this great line by Boyd: "I've been accused of being a lot of things. Inarticulate ain't one of them."

Boyd offers Picker a smoke

"Justified" is routinely brilliant, though Season 5 was a rare misstep. It was still good. "Justified" is like pizza in that way, even when it's bad, it's still pretty darn good. However, making the Crowes the primary antagonists wasn't a good idea. Despite that, Season 5 features one of the most memorable deaths and one that was as shocking as it was funny.

Boyd goes to a hotel to meet Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and Ethan Picker (John Kapelos), who are angry that half of their dope shipment was seized by the U.S. Marshal Service. Picker is suspicious because of Boyd's relationship with Raylan and wants to kill Boyd. Before it can go any further, Boyd asks if they mind if he smokes. After taking a few drags, he notes that Picker seems tense and tosses him the pack.

The cigarettes explode, leaving a bloody depression where Picker's chest used to be. Boyd uses the disruption to disarm Duffy's bodyguard. Holding a gun on the others, his face spattered with blood, Boyd says, "Now, I may not know a lot about a lot of things, but I do know how to blow s*** up." That's the understatement of the century!

Boyd kills Hagan

Charming and suave, Boyd earns our admiration for most of "Justified's" run, but the bloom is off the rose in the sixth and final season. Up to that point, Boyd's more heinous actions are counter-balanced by his motives and his affection for those in his inner circle. However, everything starts to spiral once Boyd becomes mistrustful and consumed by vengeance.

His killing of Dewey was hard to watch, especially since Dewey was pretty harmless, but you could justify it from Boyd's perspective. He couldn't trust Dewey any longer. There is another Season 6 death that was equally abrupt but which better illustrated just how far gone Boyd was. In Episode 12, Boyd uses a stolen cop car and uniform to pull over a man named Hagan (Shea Whigham). Boyd jacks the truck, requesting a ride at gunpoint.

After lying low at his house, Hagan gives Boyd some clothes and offers him his truck. He knows who Boyd is and is an admirer, calling him a hero. "You're the nearest thing we got to Billy the Kid around here." The praise doesn't get him out of driving Boyd into the mountains. Once there, Hagan admits he knows Boyd is going to kill him. Boyd's response is enflamed and dripping with scorn, and in the end, he shoots Hagan in the head. It is a brutal, unnecessary killing. As Goggins said about the scene, "It's the psychological Rubicon that Boyd crosses that he cannot come back from."

We dug coal together

The "Justified" finale is a bittersweet echo of the first season. Imprisoned, Boyd has seemingly returned to his preaching ways, or as he calls it, "spreading the word of my calamitous fall and subsequent rebirth in the light of the Lord." It's funny and a little sad. How much of life is just walking in a circle, retracing the same old steps?

Boyd receives a visit from Raylan, who comes bearing tragic news about Ava (who is alive and well in California, but only the grave will keep her safe from Boyd). The news saddens Boyd, and then a thought occurs to him: Why did Raylan deliver the news in person? The penitentiary is a long way from Miami. Raylan beats around the bush, but Boyd doesn't buy it, leading to one of the greatest endings in television history.

Raylan admits, with no small amount of moisture in his eyes, "Well, I suppose if I allow myself to be sentimental, despite all that has occurred, there is one thing I wander back to." As Goggins said in an interview with TV guide, "Raylan gives Boyd the two things that he's always wanted from Raylan: an acknowledgment that his love for Ava Crowder is real and the acknowledgment that our friendship doesn't just exist in the realm of adversity." It's something the audience waited six seasons to hear. It wasn't just wishful thinking. These men truly are friends.