Red Dead Redemption is set in a world where death can come at a moment’s notice, with many people lacking the morals and values that most people consider to be the norm nowadays. The Wild West was a tumultuous and lawless period, with many people fearing for their lives due to a variety of pressing concerns.
As a result, it’s easy to see why the stories present in both Red Dead Redemption games could get truly dark at times. People understood the morally corrupt nature of the world they resided in, and they could either conform to its heinous nature or stick to their values and not lose sight of their moral compass. Many characters in the Red Dead games struggle with this duality and have uttered memorable yet dark quotes that are a testament to the strong writing present in the series.7 “You Don’t Get To Live A Bad Life And Have Good Things Happen To You.” — Arthur Morgan
Arthur Morgan is one of the wisest characters in the game, and a respectable protagonist if players pursue the path of high honor. He knows precisely what life is all about, and doesn’t try to delude himself into thinking he’s a good man.
Despite all the good he may try to do in life, Arthur knows he’s committed several crimes he should pay for. He’s robbed, murdered, and stolen throughout his life, and the last thing he’d expect is for things to get better for him.6 “People Don’t Forget. Nothing Gets Forgiven.” — John Marston
Another wise character who serves as the protagonist of the first game and the epilogue of the second one, many players love John Marston for his brusque yet empathetic attitude. Just like Arthur, the man doesn’t delude himself and knows full well that people have to pay for the crimes they’ve committed, including himself.
As he talks about his father to Bonnie, John speaks at length about how the man hated the English because of his Scottish heritage despite never even set foot in his homeland. The man was hateful towards a group of people he’d never met, showing just how deep negative memories can take root in people’s minds.5 “This Place… Ain’t No Such Thing As Civilized. It’s Man, So In Love With Greed… He Has Forgotten Himself And Found Only Appetites.” — Dutch Van Der Linde
There was a time when Dutch was a competent leader who made sense and looked out for the group. However, after a string of personal tragedies led to him taking the advice of the poisonous Micah Bell seriously, the camp slowly lost faith in him.
It’s a shame since it’s clear that Dutch was a wise man who just ended up losing his way during the events of Red Dead Redemption 2. His constant battle against civilization can be seen as a statement against capitalism, with the greedy nature of men being apparent during the industrial revolution.
It’s a shame that Javier ended up treading on the wrong side of history since he was a fun character that players appreciated when they got to know him. Despite his admirable qualities, it was his unwavering loyalty to Dutch that led to him slowly losing his way.
If nothing else, Javier loved the idea of being free and not being tied down by society in any way, shape, or form. This was something he learned from Dutch, and watching the downfall of the man he admired truly broke him and set him down a dark path for good.3 “We’re All Doomed, Reverend.” — Arthur Morgan
Reverend Swanson is a fascinating character, who purports himself to be a man of god despite engaging in pretty much every sin in the book. Despite his hypocritical nature, interacting with him is a blast because of the sheer complexity this man shows in every conversation.
After giving Javier Escuella some advice to try and absolve him of his sins, the Reverend tells Arthur that his friend is doomed. However, the protagonist understands the true nature of the world, telling him that everyone in the gang is doomed, a statement that is quite foreboding given the events of the game.2 “We Die Alone, But Live Amongst Men.” — John Marston
John never liked to mince words and liked to say things as they were. It’s this direct nature of his personality that made him such a great protagonist that fans love to his day.
Despite being in a gang and having friends, John didn’t delude himself into thinking that these people would remember him when he died. He knew a man would be alone when he died despite being surrounded by his friends, especially since he was nothing more than an outlaw at the end of the day.1 “Sure, Civilization May Be Dull, But The Alternative, Mr. Marston, Is Hell.” — Edgar Ross
The Pinkertons are one of the most heinous villains in video game history… and yet, many people can’t deny that their motivations make a ton of sense. The Van der Linde gang had ruffled too many important feathers and killed many innocent people, so it’s only natural why the government would move heaven and earth to try and hunt them down.
While enlisting Marston’s services by force to hunt down his gang, Edgar Ross explains why civilization is so important. It’s an important look into his character that reveals just how focused he was on his goal, refusing to leave any stone unturned in the process.