Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Justified's Walton Goggins Delved Into The Profound Bond Between Raylan And Boyd

When actor Walton Goggins appeared on "The Rich Eisen Show" in 2020, he talked about the strange but very real kinship his "Justified" character Boyd Crowder felt with US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) on the 2010 – 2015 series. Despite being on opposite sides of the law, Raylan always acknowledged how working together as teenage coal miners in Harlan instilled in them an unspoken bond, with Boyd even saving Raylan's life during a cave-in.

Goggins compared this to being in the military, as many of his friends growing up joined to get out of their hometown in Alabama. "The same thing with digging coal, the same thing with anything you do in one's youth," he said. "Whenever you experience trauma together or difficult periods in your life, you're forever tied to that person."

The truth is, even as the Marshal becomes increasingly determined to catch the clever, violent criminal over the course of the show, Raylan hesitates killing his old friend every time he has the opportunity. Below, a spoiler-heavy explanation of the reasons why. 

Raylan and Boyd acknowledge how they dug coal together

In the original story by Elmore Leonard, Raylan Givens shoots Boyd Crowder dead; the "Justified" showrunners, however, decided to keep Boyd alive past the pilot. This decision paid off on multiple levels, but it also works as a character-based bit of storytelling: Raylan doesn't really want to kill the man even when he has the chance. 

Boyd and Raylan literally and figuratively feud, including fighting in the Marshal's office, over the course of the show. But they also have each other's backs when either of them are in considerable danger. In the final season, however, the Marshals decide to finally take down Boyd Crowder. Raylan considers whether he will kill Boyd himself in a final showdown.

Yet by the last episode, both men ultimately refuse to unload their guns on one another, despite Raylan having Boyd dead to rights. Raylan isn't really able to explain why when he speaks to Ava (Joely Carter) about it. But years later, while visiting Boyd in prison, the Marshal acknowledges the criminal's humanity and why he does care after all. "We dug coal together," Boyd concludes. Sometimes it's just as simple as that.