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Ed Tom Bell is the main protagonist in No Country For Old Men. He is an aging sheriff of a small town in Texas. While attempting to acclimate himself to the changing viciousness of modern crime, (he gives a monologue on the subject; in both the book and the movie), he investigates the bloody scene of a drug deal gone bad in the desert. He gets caught up in a chase for a suitcase full of money (2 million dollars) found by a hunter (Llywelyn Moss). Moss happens upon the money while hunting in the wake of the bloody shoot-out. With the addition of Anton Chigurh, Carson Wells, and the Mexican cartel in the hunt for Moss; Ed Tom begins to feel "over matched". He fails to save Moss despite his best efforts, and retires from law enforcement.

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