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Does Raylan Die in Elmore Leonard's 'Justified' Source Material, 'Fire in the Hole'?

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 9, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 9, 2015 |

With the Justified series finale fast approaching, you may be trying to predict how it will end, and more importantly, who will meet their demise (and the heartbreaking consequences). If you’re searching for clues beyond what Graham Yost has provided leading to the finale, it might be helpful to look toward the source material, Elmore Leonard’s “Fire in the Hole,” the novella upon which Justified is based.

On the other hand, it may not provide that much help, after all. Basically, the pilot episode of Justified was adapted straight from the novella (save for the Miami scene, which came from a previous book, Pronto), and not only did Raylan survive, he’d appear in another book of novellas, Raylan, written by Leonard at the request of Timothy Olyphant (one of the novellas in Raylan, in fact, provides much of the season two plot Mags Bennett plot in Justified, while another — about organ harvesting — makes an appearance with Dickie Bennett later on).

However, the end of “Fire in the Hole” does see the death of Boyd Crowder. The twist here is that Walton Goggins’ character was also supposed to die at the end of the 2010 pilot episode. However, he was such a charismatic and popular character that Graham Yost kept him on.

The double twist here is that, when Elmore Leonard wrote Raylan, he decided to follow in Graham Yost’s footsteps and bring Boyd Crowder back, too (he fit into the novella in much the same way he fit into Mags’ storyline in season two). He is, like his Justified character, alive and reformed, and nary a mention is made of his death, except one line from Raylan along the lines of, “I already killed you once.”

All of which is to say: The source material is not that much help, except in the sense that Graham Yost is on record as saying that he plans to do what he thinks Elmore Leonard would do (which, based on “Fire in the Hole,” suggests at least that Boyd will die).

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.