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Rick Legarski is the main antagonist character of ABC drama series Big Sky. He was a state trooper who has worked with Ronald Pergman to kidnap and traffic multiple women.


Early Life

In high school, he was nicknamed The Big Rick, because he was big and the captain of the football team, but also because he could always be counted on to do the right, moral thing.[1]

Meeting Ronald

One day, Legarski pulled up alongside Ronald Pergman, whose truck was stopped on the side of the road. Inside, Sage, a sex worker, was performing oral sex on Ronald. Legarski called Ronald out of the truck and spoke to him a few minutes. He then said Ronald could be arrested or he could pull Sage out of the gutter, getting him in on the human trafficking.[2]

Human Trafficking

While out patrolling, Legarski came across Mitchell Banks, whose car was stuck in the mud as he fruitlessly spun the wheels. He used a metaphor about making love to show Mitchell he needed to move gently to get free. Once Mitchell was free, Legarski sent him on his way. At the end of the day, he went home late, telling his wife, Merrilee, that there was a big wreck on the I-90 that kept him out late. She had kept his dinner warm for him and he sat down to eat it. While he ate, she confronted him, saying that their children were grown and gone and she wanted them to live as husband and wife again. She asked him to touch her more. He believed it was just the menopause talking and brushed her off.

When Legarski got a call from his ex-wife, Sally's, cousin, Denise, saying that Cody was looking for two missing girls, he called Cody back and told him it wasn't the first disappearance in that area. He also offered to go drive out where the girls were last known to be, Yankee Jim Canyon, an offer Cody accepted. As he left, his wife said he didn't need to go to every emergency, as there were other state troopers. He was desperate to go, saying it might be his shot.

Legarski met with Cody at the All-In Bar, which had shut down due to the pandemic and whose owner had left it for him to look after. Cody talked about the other missing girls and his suspicion that a long-haul trucker was behind them all. He wondered if Legarski knew of any long-haul truck drivers who were members of the nearby church that was long-rumored to be a cult. Legarski agreed to drive out there with him to check it out, but when they got in Cody's truck, Legarski shot and killed him instead. Then he called Ronald and told him he'd gotten sloppy.[3]

After Legarski killed Cody, he supervised while Ronald buried Cody's truck and Danielle's car. He then lectured Ronald, saying he'd hand-picked Ronald for his good judgment, but taking those girls was not good judgment. He had to kill Cody, he said, to clean up a mess Ronald had made, as Cody had figured out that a long-haul trucker was responsible for the disappearances. He then met with Cassie Dewell. He tried to play it as Cody having gone rogue and going to the church alone after not liking Legarski wanting to keep things on the up and up. Cassie suggested he could find a friendly judge and get a warrant. Cassie then said she might hit some truck stops and brought up the connection to long-haul truckers.

Ronald visited the girls again and then told Legarski he believed they could get triple the money from Grace as she was probably a virgin. Legarski corrected that Canada wouldn't take her or Danielle because they were too risky. That's why they took women who wouldn't be missed. He sent Ronald back to get Jerrie ready, as they could sell her easily. When Ronald returned with news that Jerrie was transgender and Grace reported sending a picture of his plate to her uncle, a cop, Legarski assured him that Grace hadn't sent anything as he'd checked their phones before destroying them. And he asked if Ronald was sure about Jerrie, which he said he was. Legarski then said they'd adjust their plans.

After speaking to Cassie, Sally called Legarski and told him about it. She asked if he was hanging around the strip malls again.[4]

Legarski confronted Cassie about her talking to Sally, threatening her for implying things about him. He also threatened to arrest her and told her she didn’t want to antagonize the law.

When he returned to the place where they were keeping the girls, he learned that Grace had escaped through a drainage pipe. He ordered Ronald to dig out the drain pipe while he went out to look for her. He went to the place where the pipe came out and saw signs that she’d come out. He caught up to Grace just as she had found a man fishing who was going to help her. Before they could leave, he shot and killed the fisherman. Then he tried to take Grace back, but she fought him and ran again. He shot her in the leg twice, which took her down and then he carried her back. He also wrapped the fisherman in plastic and dumped him in a boiling pit. He then took Grace back to the container and left her. He told Ronald to seal up the container so they had no more escape attempts then give them enough food for a few days and stay away.[5]

Legarski became agitated when he heard reports on the news about the search for the missing girls. He called Ronald and said he'd arranged for someone to take the girls. They wouldn't get any money, but the problem would be taken off their hands. When Legarski was called in to speak to the sheriff, he assured Ronald that was nothing. He went to the meeting and painted Cassie and Jenny's concern as a witch hunt against him, as part of a larger witch hunt against cops.

When Legarski learned that Grace had an infection, he insisted she had to be moved the next day regardless. To help this, he visited the girls himself and injected Grace with a syringe of antibiotics. He then called Ronald and said it was time to get them cleaned up and dressed. As he got off the phone, Merrilee came home. He asked her where she was and she said she'd been out dancing. That night, Legarski went to bed and watched Merrilee lie there sleeping. In his hand, he held a hammer.[6]

Legarski imagined himself beating Merrilee to death with the hammer, but instead, he sat down on the bed. When Merrilee woke up, he told her he was turning over a new leaf. The idea of her dancing with another man was enough to make him lose his mind, so he was making some changes. He just needed to wrap a few things up first.

The next day, Legarski met with Ronald, who told him someone else had been at the shed. He thought someone had followed Legarski out there, but Legarski said that wasn't possible. They argued over whose fault it was. Legarski then said he had to deal with Jenny and Cassie as they wouldn't quit looking. Soon after, Jenny and Cassie came to the shed, but they were too late as Ronald had taken the girls away, leaving only Legarski eating a sandwich. Legarski went to Tubb, who had come along with them, and said they had made Tubb a pawn in a witch hunt against cops, specifically Legarski.

Legarski then met Ronald at the All-In, where he'd stashed the girls. He told Ronald that after the girls were picked up, he was out of the game forever as it was taking a toll on him and his marriage. He needed to make a change as his wife was all he had and she was out dancing with another man. When Ronald asked where the girls were going, Legarski told him he couldn't handle that information and wouldn't tell him. He felt that Ronald might rat him out, so he reminded Ronald that he fit the exact profile of the guy they were looking for.

Legarski then called his contact and said he was ready. He went to sit with the girls and taped over their mouths after Jerrie offered to stay with him and work for him if he let the other two go. When he heard the door open soon after, he assumed it was their pickup and called out to them. He was surprised to see that it was Cassie Dewell instead. They had a confrontation, with her holding her gun on him. He pulled his own gun out and said he'd count to five and then shoot her. He counted up to four at which point she shot him in the head.[7]

Legarski survived the shot and was taken directly to the hospital. Merrilee met him there and the doctors told her that he’d been shot as they wheeled him away to be treated. Legarski had surgery and afterward, he was in a coma. After asking Merrilee what his favorite music was, they played music in his room in the hopes it would help his recovery. Meanwhile, the police searched every inch of his house looking for evidence in the case. They were unaware that he kept a secret room behind his closet with his files. At night, with Merrilee sitting by his bedside, Legarski finally opened his eyes.[8]

Even with his eyes open, Legarski wasn't responsive to the nurse. The nurse went to get the doctor and Legarski asked Merrilee who shot him. The doctor came in and said it appeared that Legarski was awake without being fully awake. He tried to get Legarski to respond to commands, but he didn't until the doctor asked him to squeeze his fingers. He squeezed the fingers, but then wouldn't let go. When he finally let go, he said they were going to need a bigger boat.

After that, Legarski was able to speak normally, but was unable to remember being shot or anything relating to kidnapping any girls. He didn't believe Merrilee when she told him what he'd done. Legarski then met his lawyer, who told him not to give a statement to the police. However, he had trouble remembering who she was. Later, he had to watch as Grace came into his room and identified him as the man who had shot the fisherman, whose body they had found in a silver spring.[9]

After an MRI, Penelope told Legarski he had no sign of bleeding and he was improving. She tried to get him to talk about his accomplice, but he maintained that he didn't remember. She suggested giving him a polygraph, saying if he passed, they could use it to help him, and if he failed, no one would ever have to know. He got the polygraph and passed. When they heard about this, Jenny and Cassie each took a turn going into Legarski's room themselves. Cassie first posed as a nurse, but came out convinced that he didn't remember anything about her. Jenny then confronted him about him killing Cody. He told her if he really did what they said, he hoped to die. Finally, Merrilee came into his room with a picture of Erik Westergaard, whom Ronald had kidnapped. She begged him to help the police find his accomplice. He just said he was sorry.[10]

As he slept, Legarski was haunted by Jerrie and the many other women he'd kidnapped and sold. When he woke up, he told Merrilee he didn't know who he was apologizing to. During this time, he kept reliving past baseball games. Penelope came to ask him if he remembered anything, as they could use any knowledge of Ronald as leverage to get them to go lighter on him. Merrilee said she knew he was lying when he claimed not to remember anything, but he just went back to talking about baseball.

Later, Merrilee came into his hospital room and reminisced with him, sharing memories of songs he used to sing around the house, which gave indications of his mood. Then she said she realized he was planning to kill her that night he came into their room with a hammer. He'd already killed Cody and the fisherman and she was next. She then pulled a hammer out of her bag and started hitting him with it. She kept hitting until he was dead. Then she sat down calmly on his bed.[11]



Merrilee Legarski

He is married to Merrilee Legarski. They have grown children together. Merrilee is dissatisfied with their relationship, feeling that Rick doesn't touch her enough.[12] After discussing this, Rick asked Merrilee if she was going to leave him. She told him she’d be a lot less lonely if she did.[13]


Before Merrilee, he was married to a woman named Sally, who is the cousin of Denise Brisbane.[14]


He has a cousin who is a vet.[15]

His father died three years ago of a stroke.[16]




He is a Montana State Trooper.

Notes and Trivia

  • According to rumor, he doesn't give out speeding tickets and instead lets everyone off with a warning.[17]
  • He had no community complaints against him.[18]
  • He likes Frank Sinatra, specifically "High Hopes."[19]


A more complete gallery with pictures of Rick Legarski can be found here.