Ava Crowder is a young, attractive widow played by starring cast member Joelle Carter.
She is from Harlan County and was married to Bowman Crowder. He was an abusive husband and she used to take refuge with Ellstin Limehouse at the holler when she could not cope. Due to one of his beatings she had a miscarriage but blamed it on her She eventually shot him for continuing to get drunk and beat her. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced with parole.
Later, she lets Boyd Crowder live in her house. At first she tries, with some degree of success, to forbid Boyd from returning to a life of crime. Later, she develops feelings for him and he reciprocates. The two start a relationship as Boyd resumes his business in crime.
Like Raylan's aunt, Helen Givens, Ava is shown to be a very tough woman with very little fear of other people.
After murdering Delroy , in "Loose Ends" when he comes to Johnny's bar to retrieve Ellen May, in order to keep the woman from being killed by him, she becomes the new owner of Audrey's and watches over the prostitutes.
In the first season, despite how tough Ava is, Ava appears to be the "damsel in distress" being kidnapped or held hostage several times.
Ava's first appearance is in the first season premiere, "Fire In The Hole". Ava has recently shot her abusive husband, Bowman Crowder, while he was eating. Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens goes to visit her, and she reveals to him that she had always had a crush on him. While Raylan is there, Dewey Crowe arrives. Raylan runs Dewey out of the house, only for him to go to his car and get a gun out of the trunk. Dewey is disarmed and forced to leave by Raylan.
Later, Boyd manages to take Ava hostage as bait to get Raylan to go to her home. Raylan arrives to find him eating chicken and Boyd tells him to sit down. The two begin to talk but are interrupted when Ava walks in with a shotgun. Boyd aims at Ava, but is shot by Raylan. Ava also fires at Boyd but misses him. Boyd survives but is incarcerated for kidnapping Ava.
Ava and Raylan then begin a sexual relationship, despite Chief Deputy Art Mullen warning Raylan not to sleep with Ava because she is a witness to Raylan shooting Boyd. Art discovers the relationship in "The Collection; while talking to Raylan at his motel, he peeks in to find Ava in his bed.
Ava is kidnapped in "Blind Spot" as part of an attempt to kill Raylan by a Miami drug cartel. Raylan initially believed that the Crowders had put a hit on Ava. He later realized that he was the target after discovering that Harlan County Sheriff Hunter Mosley was corrupt. While being held hostage in a van by Red, Ava manages to break loose and strangle Red causing him to swerve off of the road.
Boyd is released from prison because the sexual relationship between Ava and Raylan is exposed by David Vasquez. Vasquez advises Raylan to stay away from Ava. Raylan follows orders, even ignoring a phone call from Ava at the end of the episode.
Ava realizes that Raylan has been avoiding her out of guilt over Boyd's release, which further upsets her. Even worse, a man named Hestler has been ordered to follow her around by Bo Crowder. She suspects that Hestler might try to kill her. Raylan breaks Hestler's trigger finger.
In the first season finale, "Bulletville", Ava is kidnapped by Bo in order to lure Raylan into a trap. Boyd tags along with Raylan, to avenge the killing of his "flock" by Bo earlier in the episode. Raylan and Boyd come to her rescue but Boyd is wounded by a sniper. Bo is killed by the same sniper.
Boyd has moved in with Ava to help her pay her bills. Ava first appears in "The Life Inside", treating Boyd's wounds after a brawl. Raylan suspects that the two are sleeping together, but Ava reassures him that Boyd is only helping her out with money. Ava has strict rules for Boyd living with her. Boyd manages to keep his word while foiling a mine heist. The scheme was supposed to leave Boyd dead and was planned by Kyle Easterly. Easterly recruited Boyd because of his explosives expertise but Boyd managed to turn the tables on Easterly and bring Ava a large sum of money. Ava lies to the police about Boyd's role in the heist at his request.
Ava tells Boyd that he cannot live with her and continue his criminal activity. Boyd agrees to leave, but Ava embraces his criminal ways because she is in love with him. Boyd is now able to hold meetings at her house with her consent.
In the third season premiere, "The Gunfighter", Ava continues to embrace Boyd's criminality. She allows him to store the weed he seizes from the Bennett family in her house and shed. Ava arrives home to find Arlo Givens and Devil meeting marijuana distributor Rodney 'Hot Rod' Dunham to discuss selling him the weed. 'Hot Rod' refuses to buy the weed because it is rotting due to improper storage. Ava manages to settle the ensuing argument between Devil and 'Hot Rod', despite Devil's protests to stay out of it. 'Hot Rod' leaves and Arlo and Devil go for a drink, furious at Ava for stepping into their business.
Ava visits Boyd in the Lexington Federal Detention Centre. He tells her to have them burn the weed because it is worthless. Ava cooks for Arlo and Devil and relays Boyd's instructions. Devil gets upset. Ava warns Devil that he can either do what Boyd says or it can go badly for him. Devil laughs it off saying "What are you gonna do? Spit in my food?" In response Ava whacks Devil in the face with a skillet, asserting her authority.
In "Cut Ties" Boyd is transferred to Trumbull Correctional Institute and then released. Ava goes to collect him. He tells her that he managed to get to Dickie Bennett in solitary confinement and that Ellstin Limehouse is holding the Bennett fortune for Dickie.
In "Harlan Roulette Ava visits Ellstin Limehouse at the holler. He cooks barbeque and pontificates on its virtues. He says that despite its quality he knows that Ava has come for something else. She admits that he is right, he respectfully removes his hat and says that it is nice to see her, whatever the reason. She responds in kind and he says that she is looking well. She admits that she is better than when they last saw one another; she had taken refuge at the holler to avoid her abusive ex-husband Bowman Crowder. Limehouse notes that she is favouring her left shoulder. She counters that it was not Bowman and he says that he knows that she shot and killed Bowman at the dinner table. Ava jokes that it was a shame to waste the ham she had cooked. Limehouse says he thought the shame was that he would not see her at the holler any more. He asks if she has a new boyfriend and she says that is why she came.
Limehouse drives Ava back out to the bridge into the holler, accompanied by his henchman and Avant, both armed. He is met by Boyd Crowder, Arlo Givens and Devil on the bridge, similarly equipped. Limehouse and Boyd meet in the middle of the bridge and Ava says that she will leave them to talk. Boyd proposes killing Dickie and splitting the money but Limehouse declines. He brings up the Bennett weed and Boyd realizes that it still has not been burned. Boyd walks back to the car. He punches Devil for failing to follow his instruction to burn the weed and warns him to follow orders from Ava. He says the only reason that Arlo does not get the same is because he is an old man.
Boyd sells the weed to Limehouse for approximately $5000 and holds a meeting at Arlo's house. Boyd tells the others that his father (Bo Crowder) considered himself a Harlan criminal but became a middleman for Miami and Frankfort. Boyd says that Bo’s association with outsiders cost him his life and that he will not repeat his father’s mistakes. He says that he plans to take control of every aspect of crime in Harlan encompassing protection rackets, robbery, illegal gambling and drug distribution. He tells his crew that they will be meticulous and clean. He warns that there will be no more smash and grabs and no more bad decisions. He says that they will give up Bo’s prostitution business both because Ava dislikes it and because it is untenable in the recession. Arlo says that Boyd has made a fine speech but that they will need more men. Boyd claims to have started recruiting and says that for today they are going to reclaim some Crowder property. Later, he takes Arlo and Devil and forcibly takes possession of Johnny Crowder's old bar. Johnny meets him there with two new recruits, Rip and Jimmy.
In "Thick as Mud", she visits Boyd at the bar. Boyd expresses regret for being forced to kill Devil. Ava shows Boyd her chest wound that she received from Dickie Bennett. Boyd tells her that Dickie will pay for that, and she prompts Boyd to show her his wound. Ava tells him that it's the price they pay for the life they live, and also tells him that whatever Boyd decides to do, she will be right there with him.
In "Hole in the Wall", she arrives into the back trailer after Ellen May panickly shoots Arnold, her client after he came into the back room wearing a bear costume. Ava chastises Ellen May for having a gun while working. Ellen May tells Ava that she has been scared due to being physically assaulted not just by clients, but by Ava as well. Ava reminds her that she has saved her life countless times, and that Boyd and her will figure out what to do together. Ava is then seen in Boyd's office at the bar while her, Boyd, and Johnny figure out what to do about the Oxy business. Ava offers a stressed Boyd a Dr. Pepper. When Colt overpowers Johnny and heads into the office, Ava follows him with a shotgun only to find the two men embracing in the room.
In "Where's Waldo?", Ellen May confesses to Ava that she had found God at the Last Chance Salvation Church. Ava doesn't take kindly to the revelation, insisting the girl return to work later that night ... or else. After the conversation between Boyd, Johnny, and herself over their declining sales, Ava sides with Johnny's idea to visit Billy. Boyd says that he doesn't like churches. While Boyd and Colt interrogate Danny, she calls Boyd into Audrey's bar where a group of children are singing Gospel and handing out the fake million dollar bills to Billy's church.
In "This Bird Has Flown", Ellen May visits, wanting back into Audrey's. Ava is skeptic to take her back in because of the possibility she could have confessed things to the St. Cyr siblings. For reassurance, Boyd has Sheriff Shelby question Cassie while Ava and him listen on speaker phone. Boyd suggests sending Ellen May down to work for his cousin, also a born-again Christian. Ava gives Ellen May $1000 and tells her that she will be treated a lot better in Alabama than she ever will in Harlan. "You're getting the chance I never got," Ava says. "You get to start over." Ellen Mae tells Ava she doesn't want to leave and that she would never tell anybody about "what we've done." Ava tells her that Colt will drive her to Alabama. While driving her to the bus station, there's a new change in the plan: Ava wants Colt to kill Ellen May.
In "Kin", she is seen packing up Ellen May's stuff in boxes when Johnny enters. Ava wants to keep up the appearance that Ellen May was sent to Alabama. Johnny expresses his concerns to her about Boyd associating himself with Wynn Duffy, but Ava shoots him down.
In "Foot Chase", Boyd continues to narrow down the possible Drew Thompson identities, when Ava proposes that they blackmail Judge Executive Arnold for an invitation into the upscale Napier’s fancy parties, despite Boyd’s reservations about the idea, given the history between the former Harlan Sheriff and Boyd. Shelby interrupts the duo to arrest Boyd, despite the criminal’s veiled threats, leaving behind a stunned Ava. At Arnold's residence, April and Ava reminiscence over their High School days. When she leaves, Ava threatens to expose Arnold's infidelity to get an invite to the Napier party, and he agrees to get her in and take care of Napier for Boyd. Back at the bar, Ava reveals to Boyd she already secured invitations to the party, but admits that the recent murder of Ellen May has given her a guilty conscience. Boyd urges her to join him in the car, as the pair drive to a secluded hilltop spot he frequented in his childhood. Boyd hands her a metal box hoping to calm her fears, revealing it to contain stacks of money he’d previously been stashing. Boyd explains that the money is intended as a down payment on a house anywhere they choose, producing an engagement ring beneath the bills. Moved by his intent to start a new generation of Crowders with a respectable name in years to come, Ava accepts the proposal.
In "Money Trap", Ava and Boyd attend former sheriff Tillman Napier's party. Ava socializes with a man named Sam to see if he is Drew Thompson. While upstairs looking for Boyd, another man comes out and attempts to rape Ava, but Boyd appears and twists the man's arm behind his back. Boyd apologizes to Ava for taking too long and he tells her she has to leave because the men he had talked to earlier, Lee Paxton and Gerald Johns, want to meet with him.
In "Outlaw", Ava is seen at the bar talking to Boyd about the Frank Browning situation. Later, she appears when the Tonin Hitman shows up dressed in the Harlan County Deputy outfit. She shows Raylan Givens her engagement ring, much to his surprise. Ava expresses her concerns for Boyd's safety because there is nobody bigger than Theo that Boyd can use to make Theo back down. Boyd reassures her that he can handle things and they kiss.
In "The Hatchet Tour", Boyd and Ava are first seen househunting and Ava remembers every detail about the house they are looking at because it is the one that her mother used to clean. Cassie St. Cyr arrives at Audrey's and talks to Ava, asking her where Ellen May. Ava assures her that she is in Alabama, but Cassie finds this funny as Ellen May called a parishioner looking for guidance yesterday. Ava and Boyd question Colt, who lies and assures them that he killed Ellen May. After learning that Shelby Parlow is also aware that Ellen May is alive, Boyd pays Ava to leave out of fear that Ellen May could have confessed to the murder of Delroy. Ava exclaims that she should have killed Ellen May herself before leaving.
In "Get Drew", Boyd calls her at her hotel room to talk about possible places where Ellen May could be hiding. Ava suggests Nicky Cush, the former owner of Audrey's before Delroy. Later, Boyd calls her and tells her that Ellen May is hiding out at Limehouse's holler after interrogating Nicky. Ava visits him and he tells her that if she gives him $300,000 ($150,000 each), he will let her have Ellen May and Shelby. However, when Boyd and Ava visit him, Limehouse changes the deal and allows them to only choose one to buy, and they buy Shelby because of his worth. Limehouse says that he will give them Ellen May back if they give him another $300,000. Ellen May, sad over the decision, spits in Ava's face as she is taken away. Later at the bar, Boyd tells her and Johnny that the Marshals got to Shelby before Nick Augustine could. He says that their only options are to either plead their case to the Tonins or flee.
In "Decoy", Ava, Boyd, and Johnny fill in the missing piece to the puzzle and determine that Raylan is hiding Drew out at their old high school. While Boyd and Nick Augustine's henchman Picker leave for the school, Nick attempts to flirt with Ava and outs Johnny's change in allegiance and his conspiring with Boyd. Ava throws brandy in Nick's face and attempts to set him on fire, but Johnny stops her at gunpoint. Johnny tells Ava he loves her as she backs out the door to leave.
In "Peace of Mind", Ava, Boyd, Jimmy, and Colt learn that Augustine will offer Boyd $300,000 to buy back Ellen May and in exchange, will hand over Johnny. At the bar, Ava decides it is better if she goes alone and gives Limehouse the money since he won't respond too well with gangsters and that he hates Boyd. Augustine doesn't like it, but agrees to it as long as Boyd stays for human collateral. At the holler, Limehouse tells Ava that he let Ellen May go. Ava and Colt then head to the church to look for Ellen May. Ava overhears Ellen May confessing to Cassie St. Cyr about Delroy's murder and her participation in the burial. Ava holds a gun at Ellen May, but can't pull the trigger. Later, Ava and Boyd have a heart to heart, and Boyd decides that they have one last play: get rid of Delroy's body once and for all.
In "Ghosts", Ava, Jimmy, and Boyd prepare to exhume Delroy's body from the mine. When they get there however, they find that law enforcement has already beaten them there thanks to an anonymous tip (which later turns out to be Cassie). Boyd decides to have one last play, using his affiliation with Clover Hiller Lee Paxton. Lee turns out to own the funeral home which houses Delroy's body. Lee suggests swapping Delroy's body with another corpse from the cemetary. Ava is arrested while attempting to dispose of Delroy's body that night. Lee and Nick Mooney were both part of the set-up (although the three were hoping to have Boyd be incarcerated and not Ava). Boyd shows up, punching Nick two times before being subdued by law enforcement. Boyd vows to find Ava the best lawyer he can and that he will have her out in 24 hours.
- Raylan Givens: (Season 1), High school crush, Deputy U.S. Marshal
- Boyd Crowder: (Season 2 onwards), former brother-in-law, fiancé
- Johnny Crowder: Former cousin-in-law
- Devil: Criminal associate, deceased
- Arlo Givens: Criminal associate
- Red: Spotter for Mr. Duke
- Hunter Mosley: Former Sheriff of Harlan
- Bo Crowder: Former father-in-law, deceased
- Dickie Bennett: Criminal rival
- "It was then that I decided that he was never going to beat me again." to Raylan speaking about Bowman Crowder in "Fire In The Hole"
- Ava has the highest amount of episodic appearances out of any female character in Justified and the third highest amount of episodic appearances in general after Raylan and Boyd.
|Season one appearances|
|Fire in the Hole||Riverbrook||Fixer||Long in the Tooth||The Lord of War and Thunder|
|The Collection||Blind Spot||Blowback||Hatless||The Hammer|
|Veterans||Fathers and Sons||Bulletville|
|Season two appearances|
|The Moonshine War||The Life Inside||The I of the Storm||For Blood or Money||Cottonmouth|
|Blaze of Glory||Save My Love||The Spoil||Brother's Keeper||Debts and Accounts|
|Full Commitment||Reckoning||Bloody Harlan|
|Season three appearances|
|The Gunfighter||Cut Ties||Harlan Roulette||The Devil You Know||Thick as Mud|
|When the Guns Come Out||The Man Behind The Curtain||Watching the Detectives||Loose Ends||Guy Walks Into a Bar|
|Season four appearances|
|Hole in the Wall||Where's Waldo?||Truth and Consequences||This Bird Has Flown||Kin|
|Foot Chase||Money Trap||Outlaw||The Hatchet Tour||Get Drew|
|Decoy||Peace of Mind||Ghosts|