'Justified' EP on the End of the Series: "We Didn't Want to Outstay Our Welcome"

5 - 'Justified' (FX)

Talk about a series lacking respect. Timothy Olyphant is fantastic as Raylan Givens and the fact that he hasn’t gotten attention in the acting categories is all kinds of wrong. Though the series does have some difficulty spreading the wealth among its other characters, it completely nails the season-long guest appearances. It’s smart, different and entertaining.

With the final season of FX's Justified kicking off Tuesday, the show's impending swan song was a hot topic during the drama's final stop in front of the Television Critics Association.

"We started talking about [when to end the series] in season four, and just felt like this chapter of Raylan's [Olyphant] life was about Raylan and Boyd [Walton Goggins]," exec producer Graham Yost acknowledged. "And that was basically it. We didn't want to outstay our welcome."

Olyphant — who was a part of the decision to end the series with season six — was thankful that the show could exit on its own terms. "I will say it is nice knowing that the show had an opportunity to know the end is coming," he said. "Usually when things ends, I'm not the first person to find out. So that's been lovely. It's been wonderful to be able to see the finish line and enjoy it."

But what that finish line is remains up in the air. "We don't have the ending yet," Yost admitted. "We're shooting episode 10, and we have a script for 11 ... and we're also breaking and then outlining 12. And then we're getting to 13. That doesn't mean we haven't been thinking about the ending. [The whole team] has been talking about the ending."

"[Elmore Leonard] would just start writing, and if he didn't like where it was going, he'd throw out the pages," Yost told reporters Sunday. "You can't do that on a television show, except to a degree that when you're going toward the ending, we have a certain amount of flexibility. We're going to have to do it in the next few weeks, but we absolutely don't know exactly how this is going to end."

Yost allowed that they've been talking about how to end the show since season three. But, he noted, "it changes every year."

If Raylan does survive through his final battle with Boyd, Olyphant has a very specific idea for where he thinks his character will ultimately end up: "On FX."

"Timothy has been pitching for a long time that Raylan goes out to Hollywood and becomes a technical adviser for a Western show [like they have on Justified]," Yost explained. "If [Raylan] survives."

Justified's final season begins Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX. Stay tuned to THR's The Live Feed for full coverage.

Twitter: @MarisaRoffman