Ranking the Justified Big Bads

Our Justified Coverage
Ranking the Justified Seasons
Ranking the Justified Big Bads
Ranking the Appearances of Deadwood Actors On Justified
Top 11 Justified One-Off Appearances
The 10 Best Justified Supporting Characters

Justified loved their “Monsters of the Season” structure for their show and employed it each season with minimal variation. This article will rank them.

6. Daryl Crowe Jr. – Michael Rapaport

So much of experience with season five is based on the comparison of my memory (everything sucked) vs. my feelings after re-watching (season is good if less great). That dynamic absolutely captures my feelings about Michael Rapaport as Daryl Crowe Jr.

One of the pleasant surprises of re-watching this whole show though was discover that despite some glaring weaknesses and missteps, the construction of Daryl Crowe and performance from Michael Rapaport were both quite solid. The biggest problem with him is that the show never seemed to fully commit to JUST how competent he was supposed to be. Now, part of Daryl was that he was not as smart as he thought he was but that he was also perpetually underestimated by those he came in conflict with.

That balance was effectively managed for the first 75% of the season or so, but when they got into the endgame, the show significantly upped the ante by making Daryl competent on a level hitherto unknown whereas Raylan and co. were perpetually a step behind him. Beyond that though, this all was fine.


5. Theo Tonin – Adam Arkin

It really says a lot that a punchline mob boss who only physically appears in three episodes and mostly only exists as an offscreen threat is ranked hire than Michael Rapaport, but Michael Rapaport is just that guy. Anyway, the idea of “Theo Tonin” was an incredibly effective tool to lead to much gunplay in the show and an endless supply of very fun henchmen. I guess one could argue that Mike O’Malley’s Nicky Augustine was really the big bad of season 4, but the narrative structure really set up Tonin as the final boss to be defeated in season 4. Only he never showed up, and his downfall was a silent ten second scene in season 5.


4. Avery Markham – Sam Elliott

So, there are two thing that you need to know about Sam Elliott’s time as Avery Markham. Elliott kind of just glides on through this season on being Sam Elliott. Now, that is not a bad thing. Sam Elliott is Sam Elliott, and you would only want him to be Sam Elliott in this situation. The problem was not Sam Elliott; the problem was Avery Markham. And not so much some of the ideas of Avery Markham. Because, on paper, Avery Markham, was truly fascinating. But holy shit did the writers of this show make him make one stupid motherfucking decision after another to the point that it is nearly impossible to take him seriously, and, more importantly, to become all that invested in his part to play in all of this endgame. It feels like they either just jammed too much into this final season or if they needed a second pass at how things with Markham were going to do. Or both. Regardless, this was not as good as it could have been.


3. Bo Crowder – MC Gainey

Probably one of the most pleasant parts of re-watching Justified is getting to experience Gainey’s Bo Crowder. In my memory, I mostly wrote him off as a minor final villain of season one as the show figured itself out. I would say though that I was not doing him (or the show) enough justice. Gainey is an incredibly compelling and charismatic presence whose personality was pitch perfect for the show. What stood out to me though on the most recent watch though was his physicality. The way he just MOVED and carried himself was just so brilliant. He just expressed dominance in such an effortless manner. He was a big fish in a small pond as the world was coming for Harlan.


2. The Joker Robert Quarles – Neal McDonough

Robert Quarles was essentially a rabid dog that managed to clean himself up just long enough to put on a face and make some inroads in the world of crime near Harlan, Kentucky. As we learned though, he was reduced to being in Kentucky because he cannot hold it together and will eventually crumble. That of course happened in season 3. The show found ways to continuously push him into a corner that made him lash out and get increasingly more dangerous for those around him. While there was a lot more room to go with other big villains on the show, Quarles was someone that definitely would have outlived his usefulness and overstayed his welcome if he lasted a single episode more.


1. Mags Bennett – Margo Martindale

While season one of the show was great, Margo Martindale’s Mags is what pushed this show to the next level. For starters, it was simply a brilliant performance by Martindale. She captured all the wonderful contradictions of humans and humanity. She embodied the major themes of the show. And beyond anything else, you just loved to watch Mag and wished you got to spend more time with her.

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