Justified Wiki
Shelby Parlow
Shelby infobox 2.jpg
Shelby Parlow
(born Drew Thompson)
Detroit, Michigan
Cause of Death
Tonin Crime Family (Former), Black Pike Mining Company (Former), Harlan County Sheriff's Department (Former)

Shelby Parlow (born Drew Thompson) is a recurring character in the FX series Justified. Drew was originally a member of the Tonin Crime Family in Detroit. After he had an incident with mafia boss Theo Tonin, he moved to Harlan, Kentucky and started to use the name Shelby Parlow to hide his true identity. Shelby was formerly a security agent for the Black Pike Mining Company where Boyd Crowder worked at the beginning of Season 2. Originally, he was to be killed in a mine heist organized by Kyle Easterly, but Boyd saved his life, and because of this he covers for Boyd when the cops show up. Shelby became the Sheriff of Harlan County when Boyd bribed Hanna Napier (former Sheriff Tillman Napier's sister) to agree to be on county clerk Harvey Jones's payroll so that Napier would be unable to win the election. After he is revealed to be notorious fugitive Drew Thompson, he is captured by the Marshals and placed in WitSec, causing Nick Mooney to succeed him as Sheriff. Shelby is portrayed by guest star Jim Beaver.



Life as Drew[]

As a teenager, Drew dropped out of high school where he then entered the military as a fighter pilot. Drew was the former husband of Eve Munro, a psychic. At some point he joined to Tonin Crime Family. After he failed to kill Detroit crime boss Theo Tonin in Panama, Drew burned all the pictures of himself and fled. He enlisted Waldo Truth to die in his place, to throw Theo off his tracks. Theo, however, saw through this and was convinced that Drew was still alive. Drew broke both his legs when jumping out of a plane in the hills, and cut a deal with Arlo and Bo Crowder to give them cocaine in exchange for a place to hide out. 

Life as Shelby[]

Shelby formerly worked as the chief of security for the Black Pike Mining Company. Before working for Black Pike, Shelby worked for the Harlan Police Department for twenty years. During his time as a cop he shot Ellstin Limehouse's cousin's son in front of a liquor store. Later when people started questioning Hunter Mosley and the disappearance of Henry Crowder Shelby took the fall and got a job heading security at Black Pike. After the events in "Cottonmouth", Shelby was "let go" from the mining business and became a greeter at Mega Shop.

Season 2[]

In "Cottonmouth", Shelby is forced by Kyle Easterly, Marcus, Pruitt, and Boyd Crowder to open the safe containing all of the money. The plan was to make it seem like Shelby stole the money and attempted to escape into the mines, where he accidently blew himself up. However, Boyd learned that he was to die as well, so he managed to flip the tables on his accomplices by blowing them up via switching the charges out of the detonators in his truck. Boyd asks Shelby to cover for him and say that he was called home due to an emergency, and Shelby agrees to do so as Boyd had saved his life.

Season 3[]

In "The Man Behind The Curtain", Boyd calls him to the bar where they have a talk about their personal lives. Shelby reveals he is working as a greeter at Mega Shop. Boyd asks him if he would like a change in occupation and asks him to run against the current Harlan sheriff Tillman Napier, who is backed by Robert Quarles, in the upcoming election.

In "Loose Ends", Napier and Shelby are having their first debate. Napier clearly has the upper-hand in the debate (due to being the more experienced lawman of the two and his advantage from County Clerk Harvey Jones). Boyd soon arrives and manages to help Shelby's case out by explaining that Shelby was implicated in a robbery by the hated Black Pike Coal -- and who would believe that dishonest firm? The charismatic Boyd soon has the crowd in a frenzy. "I'm not saying you're a bad man, Mr. Napier, but I do know that you've been feeding too long at the public trough!" Boyd says. The crowd cheers. Harvey pounds his gavel, but it's drowned out.

In "Guy Walks Into a Bar", Shelby catches Napier's deputies Nick Mooney and Ethan Bishop planting drugs in his truck. Shelby forces the two men to leave at gunpoint, saying that he has been diagnosed with liver cancer and has no problem bringing two police officers down with him if he has to. Shelby also offers the men a position on his staff if he wins. Nick tells Shelby that he knows he is working for Boyd Crowder, and Bishop takes the drugs out of Shelby's truck as he goes to leave. Shelby relays the event back to Boyd, who is now angered that Napier's side is playing dirty, and tells Boyd that he basically told the two men what they wanted to hear. While everyone is gathered around at Johnny's bar, Boyd announces that Napier has won re-election. However, Shelby (along with County Clerk Harvey Jones) show up at Napier's office with bad news. Due to Napier's estranged sister Hanna being on Harvey's payroll, Napier has to relinquish his title as Sheriff to the runner-up of the election since it is election rules, making Shelby the new Harlan County Sheriff until the next election in three months.

In "Slaughterhouse", Shelby (who is on his first day as Sheriff) calls Boyd and warns him that there is a warrant out on Boyd over Devil's murder and that the Marshals and State Troopers have Ava Crowder's house surrounded. Shelby feels that warning Boyd makes them "square" now since Boyd saved Shelby's life and gave him a second chance at doing something right in his life.

Season 4[]

In "Where's Waldo?", Boyd visits him in order to obtain a police file on the Last Chance Salvation Church. Shelby gives him the file, under the condition that Boyd no longer associates himself with Shelby, as he thought he made it clear before that they were "square". Shelby says that Billy and Cassie St. Cyr have been to multiple towns in the past year, saving souls and moving along. Shelby believes that the church might be trying to help people, but Boyd disagrees, believing the church moves around to hurt various drug enterprises. 

In "This Bird Has Flown", Sheriff Shelby Parlow is seen looking on his computer and finds no autopsy reports for Drew ThompsonCassie St. Cyr comes in for questioning. Shelby asks her if she knows anything on Boyd that he can charge him for. Cassie tells him that Boyd is a drug pusher, he attempted to bribe her to move their church, and that he sent thugs to the church to scare them. Shelby asks if there is anything else, but she asks him isn't that enough. Cassie vows that Boyd will have his reckoning one day. Shelby asks Boyd (who was listening in the entire time via speaker phone) if he is satisfied before hanging up on him.

In "Kin", Colton Rhodes visits him looking for Ellen May, who escaped at the gas station the night before. Shelby reveals that he hasn't heard anything, but Colt doesn't buy it because of noticing the police car on the surveillance camera. Colt re-visits him and Shelby tells him that one of his deputies noticed a woman fiitting Ellen May's descriptiong getting into a long-haul truck with a man she recognized. Colt tells Shelby to call him directly if he hears anything. It is revealed that Ellen May is hiding out in Shelby's office, and now believes his story that Boyd and Ava were trying to kill her. Shelby asks for her assistance in taking down Boyd.

In "Foot Chase", Shelby shows up while Raylan is questioning Benny about Roz's whereabouts. Shelby notices the sketch that Benny is shooting at, and its resemblance to an Indian man named Teddy. Shelby then accompanies Raylan to Teddy's house, where they find Roz. Raylan downplays the significance of “Drew Thompson” to Shelby, believing the sheriff to be in Boyd’s pocket, but Shelby protests that he wishes to get out from under Boyd’s thumb, and participate in the Drew Thompson case given Josiah falls under his jurisdiction. Shelby drags a handcuffed Boyd into his office to find a waiting Raylan, and questions him about Josiah Cairn’s kidnapping and severed foot. Boyd denies any involvement given the predicament Raylan left him in earlier by the hills, but Shelby threatens him with investigation into another case, such as the missing Ellen May. Raylan and Shelby arrive outside of the Gable residence, observing a Dixie Mafia SUV rolling by, as inside Josiah attempts to delay taking a torch to his foot. Raylan and Shelby enter guns drawn and quickly assume command of the situation. Raylan and Shelby then bond over their newfound trust for one another.

In "Outlaw", Shelby returns back to his home where Ellen May is staying. The two bond and Shelby shares the story of his ex-wife. Ellen May asks if there is any chance of redemption for her, and Shelby suspects that something else happened between her and Ava when he questions her. At Sam Keener's house, Shelby tells Raylan how it's more than a coincidence that two of the men on the list of Drew Thompson suspects were murdered in the same day in the same exact manner, and it would be even more of a coincidence if the same man was behind the murders. At the Marshal's office, Shelby informs them that the Tonin Hitman was not one of his deputies, and that he probably got the suit from a dry cleaners.

In "The Hatchet Tour", Shelby accompanies Raylan on his visit to the cabin where Lee Paxton and Gerald Johns are. While Raylan is on the inside with Bob Sweeney talking to the two men regarding Drew Thompson, Shelby talks with Hunter Mosley, who is handcuffed in the back of Raylan's car. It turns out that Shelby is really Drew Thompson, and he thanks Hunter for his years of silence. Shelby gives Hunter keys to unlock his handcuffs before fleeing in Bob's police cruiser.

In "Get Drew", Shelby gives Ellen May a wad of cash so that she can leave and start a new life somewhere else, far away from bad. Feeling bad, Shelby picks her up on the side of the road and says that if she leaves with him, they are never coming back. Shelby has Ellen May drive towards the airport where their plane waits, but tells her to pass it when she notices a light is on. In the woods, Shelby spies on the Marshals at the roadblock they have set up. Shelby wants to turn himself in, realizing that he is out of plays. Ellen May, however, has another idea and they decide to visit Ellstin Limehouse in order to find a place to hide out. Shelby, however, wants Limehouse to keep Ellen May safe and help her get out of town in two weeks in exchange for $15,000. Limehouse agrees, but holds Shelby hostage realizing how much value he is worth because he is really Drew Thompson. Limehouse offers Ava a deal: If she gives him $300,000, she can have both Ellen May and Shelby. Boyd and Ava visit, and Limehouse changes the deal, only offering them one choice with the pair choosing Shelby because of his value. Colton Rhodes drives Shelby to an abandoned field. Shelby, who would rather be dead than captured by the Tonins, taunts Colt so that he will shoot and kill him. Colt, realizing what Shelby is trying to pull, laughs. Just as Nick Augustine arrives to collect Shelby, the Marshals arrive and take Shelby into custody.

In "Decoy", Shelby, along with Raylan, Rachel Brooks, Art Mullen, and Tim Gutterson are held up at Arlo's house. Raylan, Rachel, and Shelby then move and hide out in Raylan's old high school after Art warns them away from the house when they are stopped at the set-up made by Colt. Boyd soon puts the pieces together and realizes that Raylan is at the high school, so he and Augustine henchman Picker go there. Raylan tells them he does not plan on giving Drew up, and persuades Picker to call back-up. This is all a set-up by Raylan so that Shelby has enough time to escape Harlan. Rachel, with Shelby in tow, leave Harlan by means of a coal train.

In "Peace of Mind", Shelby is offered a deal to be placed into WitSec if he testifies against the Tonin clan. Shelby refuses to say a word until he knows that Ellen May is safe. Although he shoots it down, Raylan decides to look for Ellen May along with Tim and Rachel. Later, Shelby and Ellen May are reunited at the Marshals office and she embraces him.


Memorable Quotes[]

  • "Well shit son, I can see that." (to Marcus during the heist in "Cottonmouth").
  • "The way I see it, this is my last chance to make something useful of myself before I head to the wrong side of the grass." to Deputies Mooney and Bishop
  • "You couldn't hurt anybody, except maybe a weak, broken down whore." - Taunting Colton Rhodes in "Get Drew"


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
Measures Coalition Slaughterhouse
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