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Lester Nygaard is the deuteragonist/central antagonist of Fargo Season 1.

He was an insurance salesman from Bemidji, Minnesota. His life is changed when a mysterious contract killer named Lorne Malvo comes to town.

Lester is portrayed as a corwadly, yet evil individual, who has become psychologically unstable over the years of mental abuse he's gone through. Although not directly the protagonist, he is still defined as a classic example of a villain protagonist.

Depending on the perspective of the story, Lester is the main antagonist to Molly Solverson, and a major antagonist to Lorne Malvo.

Early life

Lester was born in 1966, presumably in January. He had a younger brother named Chazz, and was high school classmates with Sam Hess and Bill Oswalt. During a mouse dissection in Mrs. Knudsen's class, Lester fainted. He also fainted when a girl had her period in gym class. ("The Rooster Prince")

At school, he was frequently bullied by Hess. In one such instance, he was shoved into a barrel and rolled onto a highway. In his senior year, he went to the prom with Pearl, his future wife. The two married around 1988, when Lester was in his early twenties. ("The Crocodile's Dilemma")


By January 2006, Lester's marriage had turned frigid, with Pearl constantly comparing him to his much more successful brother Chazz. Lester had garnered a reputation in town as a meek pushover, and remained a victim of Hess' bullying well into middle-age. During one such encounter with Hess and his sons, Lester inadvertently broke his own nose against a store window.

At the hospital, Lester found himself sitting next to a man named Lorne Malvo. Lester opened up to Lorne about Sam's harassment, to which Lorne replied that he would have killed a man over such treatment. Lester jokingly asked Lorne to kill Sam.

That afternoon, Lester and Pearl visited Chazz to celebrate their nephew Gordo's birthday. While showing him his private gun collection, Chazz tried to bond with Lester but lost his patience after he broke a machine gun Chazz recently bought. Lester tried to apologize, but was instead ridiculed for being a weak older brother. Lester hit Chazz and drove home with Pearl.

The next day, Lester learned Sam had been murdered and was tasked with delivering his life insurance money to his family. Lester confronted Lorne about the killing, but was told to stand up for himself more often. Later, when Pearl taunted Lester, he finally snapped and killed her with a hammer. He called Lorne and asked for help cleaning up the murder, but planned to frame Lorne when he arrived.

Vern Thurman, Bemidji's police chief, arrived at the house before Lorne and discovered Pearl's body in the basement. Before Vern could arrest Lester, Lorne showed up and shot Vern twice with Lester's shotgun. Lester told Lorne where Pearl's body was. Lester followed Lorne into the basement after Deputy Molly Solverson arrived. Down there, Lester found Lorne is no longer there. Lester, thought quickly and ran his head into the wall to knock himself out and made it look like he and Pearl were victims of a home invasion. He woke up in the hospital the next morning and noticed he had a peculiar hand wound. (The Crocodile's Dilemma)

Lester is seen at Chazz's house attending a service for Pearl. Chazz offers him a spare room to stay in for a few days, which he agrees to. He returns to his house and starts having flashbacks of the night Pearl and Vern died. He then gets a visit from Molly and Bill, who ask him a few questions about what happened. He gives them a very half-hearted story which Bill is satisfied with, and they leave. He packs a few days worth of things and moves into Gordo's bedroom, while Gordo sleeps on the couch in the living room. He finds a jar of urine in Gordo's closet. Later at dinner, Lester tells Chazz he plans to sell the house like he recommended, much to Chazz's surprise. He also decides to join him on the hunting trip during that weekend.

Later that night, Lester goes to the pharmacy to pick up antibiotics to treat his hand wound. He is approached by Molly, who continues to question him as he tries to leave without picking up his medication. He is followed out to the parking lot, and Lester tells Molly to stop harassing him as he drives away. (The Rooster Prince)

Lester visited Sam Hess's widow Gina Hess to discuss the payout of life insurance. Gina flirted with Lester, but they stopped when her son Mickey accidentally shot his brother Moe with a crossbow.

Fargo hitmen Numbers and Wrench, who were watching Lester at the Hess residence, visited him at his work. They tried to intimidate him and get information, but left when Deputy Molly Solverson arrived. She pretended to be interested in an insurance plan, but in reality only came to subtley show Lester a picture of Lorne Malvo. She left after seeing his startled reaction. (A Muddy Road)

Lester was later kidnapped by Numbers and Wrench and taken to a frozen lake to be killed. However, he was able to escape after shocking Numbers with a taser. He attacked police offer Knudsen in order to be taken away. Unfortunately for him, Numbers and Wrench were soon arrested as well and all three ended up in the same police cell. (Eating the Blame)

Numbers and Wrench torture Lester and extract the name of Sam Hess's killer: Lorne Malvo. Lester was then taken to hospital for the infection in his hand, caused by a stray shotgun pellet when Vern Thurman was shot. (The Six Ungraspables)

Lester later escaped from hospital by disguising himself as the bandaged Mr. Creech. He planted evidence in Chazz's gun safe, such as the hammer used to kill Pearl, and also put a handgun in Gordo's schoolbag. Then he snuck back into hospital, where a smile formed on his face. (Buridan's Ass)

After this evidence was discovered, Lester told the police that Chazz was the real killer of Pearl and Vern, and that he didn't say this before because he was Lester's brother. Lester was then released from custody, and Chazz was arrested. As Lester was being escorted out of the station, he discreetly smiled as Chazz called out to him (most likely enjoying his revenge against Chazz for always outshining him). Afterwards, Lester returned to the Hess residence where he had sex with Gina, promising to work hard to get the life insurance payout but knowing that it was actually canceled for nonpayment. (Who Shaves the Barber?)

Lester later married his coworker Linda Park and together they moved into a new house. He also left Bo Munk Insurance to create his own business, Nygaard Insurance.


Whilst in Las Vegas attending an insurance awards ceremony, Lester spotted Lorne Malvo. (The Heap) He refused to walk away from Malvo, causing Malvo to kill his three companions. However Lester grew scared and assaulted Malvo before running to his hotel room. He and Linda hurriedly left and they flew home to Bemidji, with plans to escape immediately to Acapulco, Mexico. Molly Solverson visited Lester's house to ask him questions about the Las Vegas murders, but he did not give any information.

Lester and Linda quickly made arrangements for their trip to Acapulco, Mexico. They visited Lester's new shop to collect money and passport. Lester feared that Malvo could be inside, and so sent Linda in wearing his orange hooded coat. Lester was shocked when Malvo was inside and shot Linda in the head. (A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage). Lester immediately went to Lou's Coffee Shop and ordered food and drink for two people, insisting Linda was picking up some items from his shop. He used a pay-phone and disguised his voice to report gunshots.

Lester was later questioned by police about the death. He was released, although was accompanied home by FBI agents Budge and Pepper. After Malvo killed Budge and Pepper, Lester and Malvo had a stand-off in the house, in which Malvo was attacked by a bear trap before escaping.

Lester went on the run. Two weeks later, he was in Glacier National Park, Montana. He was pursued by police on snowmobiles before he went out alone on a thin layer of ice on a frozen lake. He died after falling into the freezing water as a result of cracking through the ice. (Morton's Fork)


Lester begins his life as a regular man and considered a pushover, for example, he is easily encouraged into buying a firearm when intending to buy socks. After his encounters with Lorne Malvo is Lester encouraged to act on the minor inconveniences in his life, most immediately, his wife Pearl. It is likely Lester's encounter changes him due to him enjoying the major difference in Philosophy of life that Malvo introduces him and the one he is used to. Lester shows both psychopathic and sociopathic qualities from this point on. He responds to Pearl with an abnormally violent response; his immediate action to escaping Wrench and Numbers (being to be willingly arrested) being to punch officer Knutson; and he strikes Malvo in the head in the lift in Las Vegas despite not having reason enough to do so.

Lester shows extreme prowess and rational thinking in dealing with difficult situations. Usually something that requires long-term thinking does he manage to complete in a short amount of time. His escape from hospital and framing of Chaz being one of the major examples. Another example being the manipulation of his second wife Linda into being a proxy for his murder from Malvo. In these situations do Lester's sociopathic qualities come through as he has little respect for the lives of Chaz, Kitty, Gordo and Linda. Lester's mental prowess is most explicitly demonstrated by immediatley solving Agent Budge and Pepper's Fox, Rabbit and Cabbage question. He often uses his aptitude increasingly and with increased speed as he becomes more familiarised with the world of crime. This is a sign that he does continue to enjoy this different philosophy, despite his main objective to disassociate his life from it.

Despite his strong mental capability, he can still be diagnosed with strong psychopathic and sociopathic qualities. He manipulates people with little thought of their needs and preferences, he often resorts to violence and trys to live in denial of his crimes or the fact that what he did was morally wrong.

Crimes committed by Lester

This is a list of crimes Lester has committed:

Episode appearances

Season 1


  • Lester bears similarities Jerry Lundegaard, a character from the film of the same name.
    • Both are incompetent salesmen. (Jerry tried to sell cars and Lester tried to sell insurance)
    • Both suffer from being verbally abused by a family member (Wade in Jerry's case and Pearl in Lester's case)
    • Both seek out criminal assistance. (Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud by Jerry and Lorne Malvo by Lester)
    • Both are compulsive liars when it comes to staying out of trouble. (Jerry repeatedly claimed that his dealership had no cars stolen off them, and Lester framed his younger brother and told the police he killed his wife)
    • Both have a last name ending with "gaard". (Lundegaard and Nygaard)
  • Lester is the second and last main character to die.
  • Lester is the last character to die in Season 1.
  • The only main character Lester never meets is Gus Grimly.
  • His surname could perhaps be a pun on "N***ard" - an untrustworthy or stingy person.

Season 1 characters
Main Lorne MalvoMolly SolversonGus GrimlyLester Nygaard
Recurring Ben SchmidtBill BudgeBill OswaltBo MunkBurt CantonChaz NygaardDon Chumph
Gina HessGrady NumbersGreta GrimlyIda ThurmanJemma StaloneKitty NygaardKnudsen
Linda ParkLou SolversonMax GoldPearl NygaardStavros MilosVern Thurman
Wally SemenchkoWebb PepperWes Wrench
All characters