Justified TV Poster Image


Lawman shoots first in racially charged, complex drama.
  • Network: FX
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series takes place in the present, but plays like an old Western, with a strong-silent lawman enforcing frontier justice with his trusty handgun. While Raylan certainly makes it clear that crime, and bad manners, will not be tolerated, he also seems like an anachronism in the modern day when due process is considered a critical part of the justice system.

Positive role models

Law-and-order sometimes takes a backseat to Raylan’s sense of justice; if he thinks the world would be better off without a bad guy, he just might find a way to eliminate him and make his choice seem justified. He’s not always wrong, but it’s pretty hard to justify his vigilante act.


Plenty of gunfire. The main character is a lawman who sometimes seeks reasons to draw, and use, his sidearm. Several people get shot – some are wounded, others are killed, and most of the attacks are shown. The villains sometimes use heavy weapons, such as a rocket launcher.


Some seasons are mostly flirting and suggestive comments while other seasons include some sex scenes between adults.


Plenty of swearing, including lots of unbleeped uses of “s--t” and its variations, such as “horses--t,” “s--tstorms,” and more. The villains are racist white supremacists who often use highly inflammatory terms.


A few mentions of well-known brands, such as RC Cola and Lysol.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Plenty of drinking. People socialize in bars, drink shots together at home, and sometimes get pretty drunk. Some smoking and discussion of drugs/drug dealing.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this compelling drama about a lawman in rural Kentucky involves mature themes that are best for adults and older teens. Along with plenty of gunplay, including death by gunfire, the main character straddles a moral line between protecting people's civil rights and punishing bad guys. A primary narrative involves a gang of white supremacists. There’s plenty of unbleeped swearing -- including racially charged language -- and a good deal of drinking.

What's the story?

After a questionable encounter leaves a suspect dead, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is transferred from cushy Miami to a small East Kentucky outpost, not far from the hometown he left behind years ago. He quickly reconnects with old flames and old friends, including Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), now the head of a white-supremacist gang, ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea), and Ava (Joelle Carter), the high school cheerleader he never pursued but always wanted. As Raylan settles into his new assignment, it becomes clear that Boyd is at the center of a string of mysterious incidents.

Is it any good?


JUSTIFIED makes its intentions clear from the first scene. This compelling drama is an old-fashioned Western. Yes, it takes place today, but just look at Raylan: He wears a Stetson and cowboy boots and packs a big pistol on his hip. And that questionable incident? Seems he gave a known bad guy 24 hours to get out of town. When time's up, Raylan tracks him down, gun at the ready. The meaning is clear: The lawman has challenged the criminal to a gunfight, and though the villain draws first, the marshal draws faster -- technically, the killing was justified, Raylan insists.

Transferred to rural Kentucky coal country, Raylan brings the same swaggering attitude and quiet, steely reserve. There’s a new sheriff in town -- well, deputy marshal. The show is based on a book by famed novelist Elmore Leonard, who also serves as a producer and makes sure the scripts are always entertaining and unpredictable. Olyphant is wonderful as an old-school lawman who won’t draw his weapon unless he plans to shoot to kill, because that’s the whole purpose of a gun. It’s worth tuning in just to hear him calmly deliver this line to a skittery punk with a shotgun, who promptly drops the gun and runs.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Raylan’s idea of dispensing justice. Do you think it’s OK for him to shoot the bad guys, even if they don’t pose an immediate threat?

  • How does this show, set in the present, resemble a classic Western? Does Raylan ever seem out of place in modern times, when one man is not permitted to dole out justice on his own?

TV details

Premiere date:March 16, 2010
Cast:Nick Searcy, Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD

This review of Justified was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

  • The Shield TV Poster Image
    Thoughtful, mature cop show...with lots of blood.
  • Law & Order TV Poster Image
    Dead bodies + courtroom drama = mature teens only.
  • NYPD Blue TV Poster Image
    Rich police drama with strong characters. No kids.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written byMalucodemez September 30, 2010

Great for older teenagers.

I love this show. Its well written, and is always really entertaining. Although at first glance, it may not seem to have any positive messages, season 1 depicts a lot of "change for good" and "forgiving" messages toward the end of the season.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bychristian2011 January 4, 2013

Alright, well-executed TV crime-drama series on FX.

Justified is a very well made Western crime-drama TV series about a Sheriff in Kentucky chasing down manhunts and serial killers. The acting is well polished and the storyline is a little complex but fairly suprising. The violence is mostly gun shooting and domestic violence, which can be quite graphic at times. Language can be strong at times, multiple uses of godd**n, sh*t, and name-calling (b*stard, b*tch, wh*re, sl*t). There are some implied sex scenes, but no graphic nudity is shown at all, but thrusting and moaning is present most of the time. Appropriate for older teens and up. 16+
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byBabygurl18 April 12, 2010
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models