Parks and Recreation. Nurse Jackie. Mad Men. Justified. Those are just a few of the television series saying goodbye this year after solid runs. For Justified, the end comes after six seasons of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) bringing justice to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky. Why is the series going off the air now?
“Yeah, Graham, what the f—,” Olyphant said to executive producer Graham Yost when a critic posed that question at TCA’s winter press tour.
Actually, the seeds for the series’ end were planted back in season four. “We just felt like if this chapter in Raylan’s life was about Raylan and Boyd [Walton Goggins] that we could only take it so far, that was basically it. We didn’t want to outstay our welcome.”
Knowing Justified was going to end was a real change for Olyphant, a far cry from his experience on the suddenly axed HBO western Deadwood. “Usually when things end, I’m not the first person to find out,” he said. “It’s been wonderful to just be able to see the finish line and enjoy it.”
Unfortunately, the firm decision to end the show came after Elmore Leonard, whose novels inspired the series, passed away in 2013. “It’s going to be depressing,” Olyphant joked of the ending. “It’s going to be sad. We thought that Elmore would have liked it.”
In truth, Yost said they don’t know how the show is going to end yet as they haven’t finished production on the final season. “[Executive producer] Fred Golan and I have been talking about how to end the thing probably since season 3 and it changes every year,” he said, noting that they’re not looking to turn it into a series of nostalgic episodes. “We didn’t want this to be the greatest hits, but that said, there are characters who come in because they’re part of that world. It doesn’t feel to us like we’re just checking that box.”
Justified’s final season premieres Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET on FX.