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Every Longmire Season Ranked Worst To Best

For six excellent seasons, fans of "Longmire” watched Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) solve crimes and deliver justice in rural Wyoming. Based on the acclaimed novel series of the same name by Craig Johnson, the show took modern crime drama conventions and put them in a world that, minus a cell phone here and a pickup truck there, embraced many of classic Western themes its setting evoked.

"Longmire" began its run on A&E, where it got off to a strong start when its premiere became the most-watched debut of a scripted show on the network, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show was quickly renewed for a second and then a third season but was abruptly canceled in 2014, per Deadline, despite retaining the most extensive viewership for an original series in the network's history. Thankfully, Netflix came to the rescue, and fans not only got a resolution to the cliffhanger that ended Season 3 but received multiple additional seasons until the creators called it a day with Season 6.

However, even for a show as widely admired as "Longmire” was, there were seasons that are just a little bit better than the rest. Here is every "Longmire" season ranked from worst to best.

6. Season 6

Maybe it was just too hard to say goodbye? Whatever the reason, the final season of "Longmire" is remembered as its weakest by fans on Rotten Tomatoes. Netflix confirmed that Season 6 of "Longmire" would be the show's last ahead of the premiere, which should have given its cast and crew plenty of time to prepare a satisfying finale, but perhaps did not.

A review from Screen Rant regarding the first episode of the final season, "The Eagle and the Osprey," said, "its business-as-usual approach and distinct episodic structure is both comforting and a little like the writers and producers maybe didn't get the memo." The second episode, Screen Rant wrote, "feels even more oblivious to the fact that this is the end of the series."

While some may appreciate a final season of a show that ignores the conclusion hanging over its head and instead delivers the kind of procedural episodes expected, others were hoping for a bit more. However, the season seemed to come to grips with its coming conclusion as it moved along. The Huffington Post wrote, "The show has had a good run and with these last ten episodes it goes out with a bang."

5. Season 2

While Season 1 of "Longmire" got off to a great start, critics and viewers felt the show stumbled slightly in Season 2. Although the show stayed a ratings hit for A&E, some thought that it failed to build upon the celebrated first season and had not innovated on the show's formula.

The A.V. Club praised the continued high bar that the cast and writing set and noted that there was the potential for interesting new arcs to develop. However, they also wrote, "But given that 'Longmire' is heading into its second season with little sign of change or substantial improvement, it's hard to get excited about whatever comes next."

However, many other critics found plenty to appreciate in Season 2. Hollywood Chicago praised its "gruff, character-driven approach to mystery-solving that's too often missing in a genre glutted by quick cuts and overly complicated plots." While Season 2 may not have necessarily been a high point for "Longmire," episodes like "Unquiet Mind" and "Election Day" still hold a special place in many fans' hearts, and it remains highly watchable as a whole.

4. Season 5

After the triumphant revival of Season 4 on Netflix, "Longmire" began to experiment a little more with what it could accomplish outside of the constraints of a cable broadcast. In Season 5, episodes became longer, and the writers began to emphasize serialized character development as opposed to episodic procedural cases.

This led to many changes on the show that critics appreciated, but a few consequences that fans took issue with. In Season 5, mercenary for hire Hector (Jeffrey De Serrano) returns, Walt defends himself against a murder investigation, and Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez) is shown to be uninvolved in the death of Walt's wife. In a positive review, IGN said, "That's the tense through-line here and it works to create the show's most character-driven season to date." These conflicts lead to a show that's "confident enough to really embrace Walt's flaws as a stubborn lawman who, perhaps, was born in the wrong century."

While allowing the show, and Walt, to become more nuanced is ostensibly a good thing, it did have one unintended side effect. Many fans suddenly found the show's central character to be remarkably unlikable, with commenters on Reddit noting that he came off more like a jerk than the headstrong hero they had rooted for. However, episodes like "Chrysalis," where Walt helps unravel the case of a young girl and her missing father, showed that "Longmire" still had plenty of enjoyable stories to explore.

3. Season 1

The first season of "Longmire" set a high bar for the show that every season after would be compared to. While there were both better and worse times ahead, Season 1 demonstrated that the cast, the story, and the experience were ready to deliver on the promise of the show's premise.

"Longmire" was an immediate hit with critics and audiences. It quickly became the most-watched scripted program on the network it debuted on, A&E. The show carved out a niche by portraying Walt as a figure from a bygone era who "uses his book smarts and cowboy training instead of the latest tech to help him solve crimes," via CNET. Likewise, The New York Times appreciated the show's take on procedurals, writing, "The best thing about 'Longmire,' which is based on the mystery novels of Craig Johnson, is that it looks and feels quite different from the urban cop shows that predominate on television."

Overall, the first season set up "Longmire" for success and managed to tell exciting stories throughout its ten-episode run. That included a standout episode, "Dog Soldier," which explored the relationship between the population of the Cheyanne reservation and the bureaucracy of Absaroka County against the backdrop of a frightening string of child abductions.

2. Season 3

Without a doubt, "Longmire" hit its stride towards the middle of its run. Many of the show's slow-burning character arcs came to a head in Season 3, resulting in some shocking moments and unexpected deaths, which gave the show a dramatic quality not found in the seasons that preceded it.

By Season 3, "Longmire" had figured out just what made its brand of deliberate Western crime drama worth watching and had deployed that with consistent success. A review for TV Equals noted, "I'm not typically a big police procedural fan, but I do enjoy it when 'Longmire' follows that script." The show continued to produce high-quality mystery stories on an episode-by-episode basis and began to make moves with its longer storylines as well.

The final episode of Season 3, in particular, represents this payoff and is remembered as one of the most iconic of the entire show. "Ashes to Ashes" seems to revolve around a murder with a mysterious calling card that Walt and Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) team up to investigate but ends with a cliffhanger hinting at a tragic betrayal. That cliffhanger ending made A&E's sudden cancellation of the show shortly after the finale all the more devastating to fans.

1. Season 4

When Netflix announced that they were stepping in to save "Longmire," fans were excited that they would at least get some sort of closure on Season 3's explosive ending. However, things went even better than that, and Season 4 ended up containing the best set of episodes found in the show's entire run.

Netflix's "Longmire" picked up right where A&E left off, barreling straight into the previous season's storyline as the main characters deal with the apparent suicide of Branch (Bailey Chase), Walt's former deputy. That quickly leads to "High Noon," in which Walt has his showdown with Branch's father, an episode often recognized as one of the best of the show's entire run. Critics were highly responsive, and Season 4 even earned a coveted 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. One review from TV Insider said, "'Longmire' is stronger than ever, a startling and highly dramatic collision of the modern and mythic."

Being produced for and by Netflix also meant that the show could feature longer runtimes and commit to more substantial character building. The season may have had a high point in "High Noon," but there were plenty of other great episodes, such as "The Calling Back," which explored the interactions of residents of the Cheyanne reservation and oil riggers operating near their land. All in all, Season 4 was a triumph for Netflix, for fans, and for "Longmire."