Sheriff Cooley

The law? The law is a human institution.
~ \Sheriff Cooley

Sheriff Cooley is the main antagonist of O Brother Where Art Thou?.

He was portrayed by Daniel von Bargen.

Sheriff Cooley pursues the trio throughout the movie. First making himself known right after Pete's cousin rats them out. Later on, he has Pete brutally whipped and threatens to hang him if he doesn't tell him where they're heading.

The group sets out with Tommy to retrieve Everett's wife's ring, which is at a cabin in the valley that Everett originally claimed to have hidden the treasure in. When they arrive, the police order their arrest and hanging.

Everett protests, stating that they had been pardoned on the radio, but the policeman pursuing them ignores their pleas. The three begin to despair while Everett improvises a prayer to be saved. Suddenly, the valley is flooded and they are saved from their hanging. It is assumed he drowned.


  • He fits Tommy Johnson's description of the devil in that his sunglasses look like "big empty eyes" and he travels with a bloodhound.
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