For decades, the Western remained one of the most popular genres in U.S. cinema, partially because it was rooted in U.S. history to a degree that other genres are not. During the Civil Rights movement, citizens began to re-evaluate the history of U.S. expansionism, which began to hurt the Western’s popularity. Westerns produced in the 1960s and 70s often subverted the traditional good versus bad set-ups of their cinematic predecessors, and by the time the 80s rolled around, the genre was nearly extinct. For the next quarter century, rare films like Pale Rider and True Grit kept the Western on life support.
In 2004, the release of the Western video game Red Dead Revolver did little to help the genre’s standing, garnering mediocre reviews and sales. Six years later, the sequel Red Dead Redemption was released, which blew its predecessor and most other video games out of the water. The game sold over 15 million copies worldwide and garnered rave reviews, with many critics deeming it one of the greatest video games ever made. It was a tough act to follow, and against all odds, it was followed brilliantly by Red Dead Redemption 2, also wildly popular and garnering reviews that are just as enthusiastic as its predecessors. Since the last two Red Dead games are so widely beloved, it’s inevitable that some of the series’ fans would read between the lines and create some interesting theories about the game. From the game secretly including zombies, to the game existing in the same universe as Grand Theft Auto V, here are 20 Wild Red Dead Redemption Theories That Change Everything.
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20 Gavin Is A Time Traveler
Throughout his adventures, Arthur Morgan keeps encountering an English gentleman named Nigel who is desperately searching for his friend Gavin, who is never seen at any point in the game. In his ramblings, Nigel claims that after journeying to the West, Gavin disappeared one morning for no apparent reason.
This loose end has caused some fans of the game to conclude that Gavin is a time traveler. Some fan theories are staggeringly detailed and convincing, but this one seems a little sloppy and baseless. Why would anyone think that Gavin is a time traveler? Perhaps they are just huge fans of Back to the Future III and just like the idea of combining time travel with the Old West.
19 Emerald Ranch
Hosea Matthews says the daughter of the man who owns Emerald Ranch never seems to leave her father’s house. Why? A letter that can be retrieved from the Cumberland Forests snail coach may have the answer.
The letter is addressed to a young woman named Miriam who lost her lover Joshua in a bad way. The author of the letter asks Miriam Wegner why she hasn’t responded to her last few letters and says she fears that “Uncle Eugene” may be hiding them from her. Detail-oriented fans of the game have noted that a tombstone in the game reads “Joshua,” and the ranch is guarded by Eugene Wegner. Fans have theorized that Joshua was dating Miriam, the rancher’s daughter, until Eugene put him six feet under and that Eugene is keeping his daughter captive.
18 The Strange Man Is The Devil
The Strange Man might be a minor character in the Red Read series, but that hasn’t stopped him from being the subject of a ridiculously large amount of speculation. His apparent supernatural abilities and resemblance to the archetypal mustached villains of the silent era have caused some fans to believe that he is, in fact, the devil.
This theory is rooted in so-called biblical symbolism in the game. The Strange Man meets with John Marston three times: once in the desert, once in a city, and once atop a hill with a scenic view. When the devil tempted Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, he first tempted him in the desert, then in a city, then atop a hill with a scenic view. This is either a clever move by the game’s writers or a weird coincidence.
17 Mount Shann Is Connected To Mount Chiliad From Grand Theft Auto V
Artists often have recurring themes in their work. Salvador Dalí was obsessed with ants and desert landscapes, Alfred Hitchcock was fascinated with trains and mother figures, and Britney Spears likes to sing “Oh baby baby.”
For video game developer Rockstar San Diego, a recurring theme seems to be mysterious mountains. Red Red Redemption 2 features a strange mountain called Mount Shann, which has a strange mural resembling a compass on it. Mount Shann is strikingly similar to Mount Chiliad from Grand Theft Auto V, another game with time travel and UFO sightings. Are the two mountains one and the same? Is this just a silly Easter egg from the games’ producers? You be the judge.
16 Francis Is The Devil
Popular culture hasn’t always been kind to redheads: an old wives’ tale says they have bad tempers and South Park says they have no souls. According to a Red Dead Redemption 2 fan theory, Lucifer himself has red hair.
The ominous character Francis has time travel powers and red hair, which has caused some fans to speculate that he is the devil – a bit of a far-fetched conclusion. In the world of Grand Theft Auto V: “Everyone is related to everyone else, except people with red hair.” Those who think Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 take place in the same universe believe this is more evidence that Francis is the devil. Why they do is anyone’s guess.
15 Pleasance Is Filled With Zombies
Red Dead Redemption has an expansion pack called Undead Nightmare, which adds a zombie-horror element to the game. With that in mind, it’s not unreasonable for gamers to think there might be zombies in Red Dead Redemption 2.
The game features an abandoned settlement called Pleasance that includes a barn with the phrase “Stay Out! Plague” on it, mirroring the famous door from The Walking Dead, which has the words “Don’t Open, Dead Inside” written on it. The town’s cemetery curiously includes ten people who were ended or shot on the same day. These details could serve as the basis for another zombie expansion pack. At the very least, they serve as interesting worldbuilding.
14 It Features A Reference To American Horror Story
One of the most unnatural locations in Red Dead Redemption 2 is Roanoke Valley. There, players can hear spooky whispers and disembodied laughter. The valley’s namesake may be the famous Roanoke Colony, an early U.S. settlement whose residents mysteriously disappeared with barely a trace in the 1580s.
Other gamers believe the name of the valley is a reference to American Horror Story: Roanoke, a season of the popular television series American Horror Story that took place in the same location that the Roanoke colonists made their home. Either way, the name of Roanoke Valley signals that there is something deeply wrong with the place, if the disembodied voices didn’t do that already.
13 The Game Includes Reincarnation
Some of these theories focus on supposed biblical symbolism in the Red Dead franchise, but this one centers on an element of the Eastern religions that may have been worked into Red Dead Redemption 2.
When visiting The Strange Man’s home, players see a painting of an animal. What the animal is depends on the level of honor a player has; if they have high honor, the painting will be of a deer or eagle; if a player has low honor, it will be a coyote. When a player visits Arthur’s grave, they can see a deer, eagle, or coyote there, and gamers have understood these animals to be reincarnations of Arthur. If this theory is true, Red Dead Redemption 2 may be the first Western to incorporate Hindu beliefs that weren’t made in Bollywood.
12 Ross Isn’t The Villain
One of the most common types of fan theories are the ones that point out how villains aren’t actually villains. Search the internet and you will find posts claiming that Lord Voldemort, Jafar, and Emperor Palpatine were all swell guys.
The Broadway musical Wicked and the Disney’s Maleficent were born from this formula of villains being reinterpreted as heroes. Unsurprisingly, someone has applied this formula to Red Dead Redemption 2, claiming that Edgar Ross is not a villain. Proponents believe that Ross is a decent man because he did not end Marston when he had the opportunity to do so and that Ross is simply being manipulated by the real villain of the game, Governor Nate Johns.
11 Arthur Morgan Was In Red Dead Redemption
Despite its title, Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually a prequel. When Rockstar revealed that the game would center on a character named Arthur Morgan, astute fans correctly guessed that he would pass away by the end of the game as Morgan did not appear in Red Dead Redemption.
Some gamers believe, however, that a background character in Red Dead Redemption is, in fact, Arthur Morgan. Some believe that Morgan used time travel to appear in the game, while others see this as an Easter egg that is not meant to be taken seriously. Red Dead Redemption was released eight years before its prequel, so Morgan appearing in that game would mean that the people working at Rockstar plan their games staying very far in advance of their release dates.
10 The Strange Man is God
Having a nameless character called “The Strange Man” is a great way to provoke speculation about your game. This theory posits that instead of being the devil, The Strange Man is actually Lucifer’s exact opposite, God himself.
Dressed all in black, a color often seen as morbid, The Strange Man appears at key moments, which ultimately lead to his demise. When The Strange Man sees the plot of ground that (unknown to the audience) John will later be buried in, he remarks that it is a “fine spot.” Some connect all this to the idea that God controls who lives and who doesn’t. Also, when John fires at The Strange Man, the bullets do not harm him, suggesting that The Strange Man might be God, the devil, or Michael Myers from Halloween.
9 Jack Isn’t John’s Son
If there’s one thing fan theorists love, it’s the idea of hidden familial relations. Maybe Rey is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s daughter, or Disney’s Princess Ariel is related to Hercules, or Lady Macbeth is the mother of Kermit the Frog.
In this vein, same have speculated that Javier Escuella is Jack Marston’s real father based on the physical resemblance between the two. Since Jack’s mother had relationships with numerous men at an earlier time, she may have had a child with Javier. John himself questions if he is truly Jack’s father, though this is likely the result of his reluctance to be responsible rather than a serious doubt over John’s parentage. If this theory were true, it would sadly mean that Jack’s mother did not love his father as deeply as she said she did.
8 The Game Supports The Flat Earth Theory
Most children over the age of two know that the Earth is spherical. So, when the internet produced a group known as the Flat Earth Society, the world couldn’t help but laugh. But since no video game can be infinite, if a player walks past a certain point in Red Dead Redemption 2, they will fall off the edge of the earth.
Some see this as a cheeky game design, while others see this as an endorsement of the idea that the world is flat. What is remarkable about this theory is that it postulates that the creators of Red Dead Redemption 2 are simultaneously genius software engineers and completely ignorant when it comes to a scientific fact that has been common knowledge since the ancient world.
7 Landon Ricketts is Red Harlow
Despite being the original game in the series, Red Dead Revolver feels like its red-haired stepchild. However, some gamers want to make Revolver even more connected to the Red Dead franchise than it already is by asserting that Red Harlow and London Ricketts are actually the same character.
This theory is mostly based on a supposed physical resemblance that Harlow has to Ricketts. Perhaps this is the case, or perhaps the artists working for Rockstar could be a little more creative with their character designs, lest they inspire more fan theories like this one. Or, perhaps they wanted to encourage people to develop fan theories like this one to earn free publicity for their games.
6 Red Dead Revolver Is Fiction In Its Own Universe
While the previous theory attempts to further incorporate Red Dead Revolver into the rest of the Red Dead universe, this theory tries to further distance the game from its own franchise. According to this theory, the events of Red Dead Redemption should not be understood as historical events within the Red Dead Universe, but instead, as a tall tale.
The supposed evidence for this hypothesis is two fold. First, this theory would explain why Red Dead Redemption and its prequel have a fairly realistic tone while the events of Red Dead Revolver are more silly. Second, it would explain why Jack Marston reads a book with a plot that is very similar to the story of Red Dead Revolver. Whether Jack’s book was the reframing of Revolver or just an Easter egg, it still showcases the cleverness of the video game’s creators.
5 John Is A Character From Metal Gear Solid
Because it’s apparently impossible for two video game series to take place in different universes, some have hypothesized that the Red Dead franchise is set in the same fictional world as Metal Gear Solid. More specifically, fans have hypothesized that John Marston is none other than Revolver Ocelot and the world of Red Dead Redemption is actively Valhalla, where Revolver Ocelot is living out his favorite fantasy for all eternity.
If this theory and some previously discussed ones are true, then the Red Dead franchise is one of the most spiritual video game franchises in recent memory, as it supposedly combines elements from the Abrahamic religions, the Eastern religions, and Norse paganism. Who knows, maybe the next Red Dead game will throw some Confucianism into the mix.
4 John Is Wolverine’s Son
The Marvel comic book universe is beyond expansive. Even the most ardent comic book fan in the world probably could not name all of the numerous franchises that exist under the Marvel umbrella and according to some fans, one of those franchises is Red Dead Redemption.
Proponents of this theory think that John is the son of popular Marvel superhero Logan Howlett, better known as Wolverine. Some fans believe that this is the case because John and Wolverine both have self-healing powers. According to this logic, John must also be related to E.T. and Rapunzel from Tangled. Proponents of this theory are also quick to point out that John and Wolverine also have super-strength and enhanced senses.
3 The Game’s Glitches Are Intentional
No matter how good a game is, chances are it will have a few glitches here or there; gamers hope that glitches turn out to be unintentionally hilarious as opposed to annoying. Red Dead Redemption 2 has glitches that fortunately fall into the former category, including a man who rides a cougar like it’s a horse, a woman who can inexplicably transform into a donkey, and people who can fly.
Some gamers contend that these comically bizarre glitches were not accidents, but instead, foreshadow a Red Dead Redemption 2 expansion pack. While Red Dead Redemption is coupled with a zombie-themed expansion pack, its prequel will be coupled with an expansion pack that is more economical and incorporates the aforementioned glitches, at least according to this theory.
2 It Features A Reference To Blazing Saddles
Despite its parodic nature, Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and acclaimed Western films of the past 50 years. Like all works of genre fiction, Red Dead Redemption 2 takes influence from its genre forebearer, though most would agree that Blazing Saddles is too silly to have been a major source of inspiration for the game.
However, some gamers have discerned what they think are references to Brooks’ magnum opus in Red Dead Redemption 2. First of all, players can attack horses, which might be a callback to a famous man-on-horse confrontation from Blazing Saddles. Also, the game features a business called the Hedley Banking Company, which may be named after Saddles‘ villain, Hedley Lamarr.
1 The Red Dead Series Takes Place In The Same Universe As Jack Ryan
Apparently, it wasn’t enough for it to take place in the same universe as the X-Men and Grand Theft Auto, another fan theory claims that the Red Dead franchise takes place in the same universe as the Jack Ryan series.
This theory rests on the idea that the Dead Eye from the Red universe is just the “Mark and Execute” from the Jack Ryan series under a different name. Supposedly, the Dead Eye had been passed down from generation to generation and received an inexplicable name change in the process. Perhaps the Red Dead games are somehow the focal point that unite all works of media into one grand, overarching shared universe. Try wrapping your mind around that.
What are other wild Red Dead Redemption theories you’ve heard? Let us know in the comments below!