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Why Graham Yost kept Boyd alive at the end of Justified

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Prashant Gupta/FX

While creator Graham Yost says he didn’t land on what would become the ending of Justified until the end of season 4, questions answered in the series’ final episode were posed all the way back during the pilot.

“Frankly, the only real question was whether or not Raylan was going to kill Boyd,” Yost told EW Live hosts Jessica Shaw and Danielle Nussbaum at ATX 2015 on Friday in Austin, Texas. “We just realized it wasn’t so much about Boyd and whether or not he deserved to die — because Boyd did a lot of really bad stuff, and in our world people have died for a lot less on Justified. It was really a matter of what would it say about Raylan.”

Yost pointed to a key scene from the pilot episode, when Winona (Natalie Zea) tells Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) that he’s the angriest person she’s ever known.

“Raylan says, ‘I wonder if I would have killed Tommy Bucks if he hadn’t had a gun, if he hadn’t pulled?’ We felt we needed to answer that question,” Yost said. “We felt if Raylan shot Boyd, it’s a bummer.”

Plus, as Yost explained, killing Boyd (Walton Goggins) would go against the storytelling style of Justified author Elmore Leonard.

“How does Elmore end his books? Of course, the good guy always lives, pretty much, and the bad guy doesn’t always die,” Yost said.

Listen to Yost discuss Justified below. EW Radio’s coverage of the fourth annual ATX Festival continues all weekend long on Entertainment Weekly Radio, Sirius XM channel 105, and available anytime on demand at siriusxm.com/ondemand.

Follow @ewlive and @ew for everything ATX.