Red Dead Redemption
"I rode in a gang. We robbed trains, banks, held people ransom. We killed people we didn't like. Bill Williamson was in that gang. If I don't capture my former brother-in-arms, great harm will befall my family."
Red Dead Redemption is a Wide Open Sandbox sequel to Red Dead Revolver, developed by the good folks at Rockstar Games, released on May 18, 2010, in North America and on May 21, 2010, in Europe and Australia for the Play Station 3 and Xbox 360.
The plot of the game revolves around Retired Outlaw John Marston, now living with his wife and child. He had a quiet existence, until something went terribly wrong. An agent of the law, Edgar Ross, has kidnapped his family in order to coerce Marston to hunt down his former partner, Bill Williamson.
Williamson left Marston to die when they were still bandits. Now Marston is given a chance to settle the score. This, along with the pressure of saving his family, makes the whole affair rather personal.
In practice, this leads to a game that plays pretty much like Grand Theft Auto IV in The Wild West, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who'd think of that as a negative. In Marston's quest to capture Williamson and save his family, he rides over miles of sprawling deserts and plains and takes on missions that advance him closer to his goal, not to mention takes part in many, many sidequests—or, if the player so desires, just wanders around doing whatever he wants in the Wild West.
In addition to the massive single-player world, there is an equally huge multi-player environment. Red Dead Redemption was released to about as universal acclaim as Grand Theft Auto IV, with particular praise directed towards the game's vast open world, engaging story, and atmospheric soundtrack. In two weeks, the game was played for the equivalent of 3,700 years and sold 5.2 million copies. Pretty well done for a game Rockstar initially expected not to turn out a profit.
On October 26, 2010, Rockstar released Undead Nightmare, a Zombie Apocalypse-themed alternate play mode taking place in an Alternate Continuity where John must fight off the living dead with few allies and weapons. If you have any tropes relating to Undead Nightmare, please place them on the Undead Nightmare page.
- Acceptable Breaks From Reality: Most of the horse- and horseriding features are. It's very damaging for a horse to run on paved roads, run into a full speed gallop immediately after resting, and in general be kept at full speed for long whiles at a time. And it usually takes years (months at least), to teach one to come at your whistle.
- Also, most real horses are trained to be mounted from the left side only and get spooked if someone tries to get on from the right, much less vaulting onto them from behind!
- Averted with having your horse be killed by a predator. A real life horse can take a lot more damage than the game horses do in that sense, simply getting scratched by a cougar isn't going to kill it. Then again, a human won't drop dead immediately from a couple of cougar scratches or wolf bites either. Though taking into account just how many times and how severe a predator attack would have to be to kill an adult man or a 500 kilograms horse would probably be too time consuming, not to mention making it a lot more easier for the player to escape or kill an attacking animal.
- AKA-47: The game uses both real gun names as well as fake names. You'll see famous and well known guns of the period such as Springfield Rifles and Henry Repeaters. However the FN Model 1903 gets the award for ultimate Bland-Name Product in this game: High Power Pistol. Rockstar may have intended use the Browning Hi-Power pistol and realized that it would be anachronistic and switched it to the visually similar 1903.
- All-Natural Snake Oil: Actually consumable in-game...and is actually useful! (it refills your Dead Eye meter)
- Also played with: The ones you buy from stores actually work, but the stuff West Dickens is peddling does nothing, from a thematic and gameplay standpoint, aside from giving you second-level Dead Eye.
- All Crimes Are Equal: "Oops, my horse just stepped on a dog and now I have this 5$ bounty on my head. Surely that can't be that big of a deal... I mean who would want to hunt me down for a petty sum lik-- what the hell?! Why are the sheriffs shooting at me?!"
- Ambiguously Gay: DeSanta. He's first seen making eyes with a more obviously gay waiter. Later the two walk off arm in arm. While he tells Marston to take advantage of the rebel women, he never follows his own advice.
Marston: I came here for two men, nothing else.
- American Accents: From Texas drawls in Armadillo to Cajun in Thieves' Landing, the game covers a wide variety of these.
- An Axe to Grind: The Legends and Killers DLC pack includes the Tomahawk, which can be used as both a ranged and melee weapon.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: You play as Jack Marston in the freeplay section after the main game, although he is functionally similar to John and even inherits all his items and equipment. Why? The Hero Dies, that's why.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Some outfits are purchasable or available as DLC; others can be assembled from scraps received by completing certain tasks. Some outfits are purely cosmetic; others have tangible gameplay benefits, such as dressing up as a bandit gang so they won't attack you on sight.
- Angel Unaware: Who, or what, exactly The Mysterious Sranger is in the sidequest "I Know You" is up for debate. The Stranger intimately knows John's crimes and past mistakes. He gives him several tasks to 'evaluate' his morality, like helping a husband stay true to his wife (or not) and helping a nun feed the poor (or rob them). ]At the end, John gets so frustrated at the Stranger's prodding and cutting insight he tries to kill him after yelling "damn you!" The bullets don't work, and the man's reply? "Many have." The last place you meet the Stranger (which he cryptically notes as a nice spot)is also the place where Marston is eventually buried. He references having a son, who could be interpreted as Jesus Christ or the Anti-Christ—whichever morality John takes in this quest, the stranger will always say he hopes his son grows up exactly like him. Most confusing of all, when John says he has forgotten who the stranger is when they first meet, the Stranger will answer John's forgotten much more important people than him. In the end, it's quite the Shout-Out to a famous Clint Eastwood movie.
- Animals Hate Him: The predatory animals will often attack you over prey. They will even gang up on you. Its not impossible to have bears, coyotes, cougars, and wolves all attacking you at once.
- Anti-Hero: While Marston is hardly a Villain Protagonist and is mostly trying to do good, he still pushes into Type IV territory, especially in Mexico.
- Anticlimax Boss: Dutch, and really, The Big Three all qualify. Bill is handed over to you by the resident Evil General in Mexico, and Escuella only manages to flee for a few minutes before you catch or kill him. Even Dutch throws himself off a cliff after a brief chase sequence. If you discount Ross' final duel, the game doesn't have any bosses at all, really.
- Apathetic Citizens: If you commit a crime, witnesses can be bought off for $10. However, once you do that, no one else intervenes. For the low, low price of a sawbuck, you can carry a bound and gagged hooker right down main street.
- Arbitrary Gun Power: A Volcanic pistol that is more powerful than a Single Action Army. In real life, the Volcanic's "Rocket Ball" ammunition was pathetically underpowered and the weapon was obsolete long before the time the game takes place. Meanwhile, the .45 Colt cartridge is the weakest in the game, even though it should logically be the strongest.
- Artifact Title: Spiritual Successor to Red Dead Revolver, which was named for the main character, Red Harlow. This game has a completely different story with different characters, none of whom are named Red.
- Artistic License: Biology:
- In-universe example; Professor Harold MacDougal apparently believes extinction was 'refuted by Darwin', and that 'species don't die, they evolve'. Which is bunk, of course. He also seems to believe there is some kind of major genetic difference between whites and Native Americans. Then again, he is supposed to be an accurate representation of "science" during the turn of the century. His cocaine abuse probably doesn't help.
- The final newspaper issue has an article where the writer is clearly shocked at the notion that cocaine might actually not be good for your health.
- Artistic License History:
- One Stranger Mission and some of Ross' dialogue deals with a local senate race and include prompts from the characters on doing their civic duty and voting. The problem is this is all taking place in 1911. The popular election of senators wasn't put in place until the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, which means Jack could have voted for senator, but not John. Before the 17th Amendment it was actually a state's representatives who elected a senator.
- This is generally correct, however in the period between 1906 and 1911 at least five senators had been elected by popular vote, nearly all of these from western states. Being that this games takes place in fictional states it is certainly possible for them to have had provisions for direct elections before the seventeenth amendment passed.
- As the Good Book Says...: The final story mission is called "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed", which is from I Corinthians 15:26. Of course, the game leaves out the last two words of the verse: "...is death."
- The two missions in which you chase and kill Dutch are respectively called "You shall know the truth..." and "...And the truth shall set you free" which is from John 8:32.
- The last mission with Uncle is titled "A Continual Feast", from Proverbs 15:15. ""All the days of the afflicted are bad, but one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast."
- The Atoner: Marston, naturally. It's in the title.
- Automaton Horses: Averted. Horses will throw you if you push them too hard.
- Awesome but Impractical: Bonzo, the bull mount you unlock when you reach level 50 the first time in multi-player. He loses virtually no speed offroad (and let's face it, he's a bull you can ride around like a horse)... but he can't jump fences, his top speed is lower than the best horse, and he'll buck your ass off if you so much as think of spurring him when his stamina's at red. These constraints actually apply to all the non-horse mounts in the game (most of which are actually really good), but Bonzo by far has the lowest stamina out of this group, and his health isn't increased much to make up for the speed deficiency.
- Ax Crazy: Dutch. He doesn't froth at the mouth, or shout, or even act outwardly "mad"...but it's pretty clear when you meet him that all is not well upstairs.
- Back Stab: You can do this with your throwing knives if you're right behind someone, but surprisingly, not your normal knife.
- Badass Bandolier: buying one doubles the amount of rifle, repeater, and sniper ammo you can carry, making it Awesome Yet Practical. Once you buy it you will always be wearing it and receive its benefits, even when wearing an outfit that hides it. In a nice graphical touch as you burn through your ammo stock the number of rounds on the belt disappear.
- Badass Boast: John makes one when he's trying to convince Irish to get him a machine gun.
Irish: It's the whiskey, sir. It gives me the memory of a newborn babe. As innocent as can be
- Hell, John makes these all throughout the game.
Jonah: Don't forget you need us more than we need you. Bill Williamson folded you up like an empty purse the last time if I remember correctly!
- Irish gets targeted by John a few times.
Irish: Who the feck 're you?
- Randomly in combat usually after killing multiple enemies:
John: I GUESS THAT MAKES ME A GUNMAN! (he's not really guessing)
- Here's another gem from when he starts holding up a store, also doubling as a Crowning Moment of Funny.
John: Taxman's here!
- Badass Bystander: The army captain you storm Dutch's hideout with. When they use dynamite to blow open the gates he's the only character to show no reaction to it whatsoever.
- Badass Grandpa: Landon Ricketts and to a lesser degree Marshal Johnson.
- Badass Longcoat: Of several badass longcoats in the game, one is awarded for achieving Legend of the West status.
- The Bad Guy Wins: After killing John, Edgar Ross takes all the credit for getting rid of Dutch's gang, and is hailed as a hero who has brought peace, prosperity and safety to the region. Sure, you can take your revenge on him later, but it really doesn't accomplish anything or change the fact that he is ultimately the victor.
- Bandito: You can kill numerous ones in Mexico once you unlock the area. You can even dress like one.
- Battle Theme Music: You know you're about to do a gang hideout mission when the music goes all Bully on you.
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible: The game's story missions would be like 90% shorter if everyone Marston meets would just (a) tell him the truth about where his targets are, and (b) stop using him to further their own goals. To quote In Famous, he may be a badass, but he's still "everyone's errand boy."
- Betting Minigame: Lots of 'em! Horseshoes, Poker, Five Finger Fillet, Arm Wrestling, and betting on races are among these. Skill-based games like Horseshoes and Five Finger Fillet increase in difficulty as you increase your bet.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Marston is downright friendly, even to his enemies. Which doesn't mean he isn't capable of putting bullets between the eyes of you and your entire posse in the time it takes you to reach for your pistols.
- Landon Ricketts is a nice old man, but lord have mercy on anyone he catches messing with the people of Chuparosa.
- Big Damn Heroes: More than a few, but blasting into the ghost town of Tumbleweed to save Bonnie from outlaws --arriving just in time to either shoot or cut the rope around her neck before bringing down the thunder on any of the gang's survivors certainly qualifies!
- Also done for John himself: when the Nuevo Paraiso government betrays him and is about to execute him, Abraham Reyes's forces storm in and break John free.
- Bilingual Bonus: The whole portion of the game that takes place in Mexico.
- Black and Gray Morality
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: An option using skillful shots.
- And besides making you look cool, shooting the guns out of enemies' hands serves practical purposes. Several Sharpshooter challenges require you to do this so many times, and doing this to an enemy in a duel instead of killing them nets you extra Fame and Honor.
- Normal (non-duel) enemies that get their guns shot out of their hands run to pick them up though.
- And besides making you look cool, shooting the guns out of enemies' hands serves practical purposes. Several Sharpshooter challenges require you to do this so many times, and doing this to an enemy in a duel instead of killing them nets you extra Fame and Honor.
- Book Ends: At beginning of the game, you get the crap shot out of you and then do a bunch of chores for a snarky woman. At the end of the game, you do a bunch of chores for a snarky woman and then get the crap shot out of you.
- Boom! Headshot!: Lots of them when you play with Dead Eye. Makes a nice blood spray and leaves nasty looking wounds on the enemy body. Instant kills all around.
- Boring but Practical: Most of the top tier guns are top tier because they have large magazines. Once you get the Evans repeater (22 shots) you'll probably use it for everything other than late game sniping missions. Even then, the Carcino sniper has a 5 bullet clip.
- The bolt-action rifle. Plentiful ammo, long range, quick to fire, 5-round clips for quick reloading, usually a 1-shot kill... useful for anything from bird hunting to all-out warfare.
- Bottomless Bladder
- Bottomless Magazines: The Gatling Guns.
- Bounty Hunter: A good source of income. You can shoot the targets and get half the bounty, or lasso them and dodge their friends pursuing you on horseback for twice the money.
- Other bounty hunters will come after the player if you break the laws. Jack Marston becomes this when he reaches adulthood.
- Broken Bridge: Or, more accurately (and this is in true Rockstar style,) bridges are all under construction until you reach the point in the plot where it's time to move to another major zone of the game.
- Bullet Time: Dead Eye, which also gets a few more upgrades as you go, such as auto-targeting body parts for a quick hail of bullets.
- Bullying a Dragon: When John wanders into Chuparosa for the first time, he is greeted by three locals, very obviously bent on bullying some "gringo". John tries to peacefully defuse the situation, but the locals keep pushing their luck by taking his hat and then telling him to take off his boots. You can guess for yourself how things turn out for them.
- But Thou Must!: Jack can't shoot the gun out of Ross' hand. He must kill him, or he'll be killed.
- Also, Herr Müller
- Butt Monkey: Uncle is the target of a lot of John's abuse.
- The Caligula: Colonel Allende, full stop. One has to wonder if Reyes is going to turn out the same way.
- He does.
- Call to Agriculture: John, before the Bureau forced him to hunt down his old friends.
- Cats Are Mean: This game has possibly the meanest cats ever: Wild cougars who can and will kill you in a couple of hits. Or your horse! Or both!
- And in Mexico, bobcats, which aren't quite as lethal but are just as quiet and can still put the hurt on you. Plus, sometimes they travel in groups.
- There's even a semi-boss Mean Cat: Khan the Jaguar.
- Cattle Drive: The game has a few herding missions given to you by Bonnie the Rancher, as well as a few missions where you herd wild horses and have to break a few wild horses in.
- Chained to a Railway: You even get an appropriately-named achievement if you manage to kill a Damsel in Distress this way.
- Christmas Cake: Bonnie is "a spinster of 29 years, well past marriageable or childbearing age."
- City Slicker: Jimmy Saint, a New York humorist off to find some "real wilderness" to write about.
- Bonnie MacFarlane and Marshal Johnson consider Marston to be one of these, at least at first.
- One has to wonder why apart from the fact he boarded the Blackwater train. The first costume we see him in, he looks like your typical slovenly cowboy. That leather half vest he has really stands out as not particularly something a city dweller would wear.
- Bonnie MacFarlane and Marshal Johnson consider Marston to be one of these, at least at first.
- Clueless Deputy: Marshal Johnson has two.
- Continuity Nod: Several. A group of men sitting around a campfire can be heard discussing the now-legendary exploits of Red Harlow and Jack Swift.
- Cool Horse: You can get quite a few different horses, ranging from diseased cheap ones to expensive but strong ones. There's also the special War Horse you can unlock by buying the game at Best Buy in the US or preordering from HMV in the UK.
- Multi-player allows the player to ride an albino buffalo and a zebra-donkey crossbreed. These are some of the best mounts in the game, despite the fact that they are not ridden in real life.
- The coolest horse reported so far is a battle scarred Black Stallion which comes to your beck and call only if you're evil enough.
- A horse harnessed to a chariot is basically the game's equivalent to an Infernus early on and are great for quick travel if you do not feel like breaking horses.
- Country Matters: Said several times throughout the game, perhaps most memorably in the mission "We Shall Be Together In Paradise".
Irish: What's the word for "cunt" in Spanish?
- Coup De Grace: After some intense gun battles some of your enemies might not be dead and will be lying on the ground saying how much it hurts etc. You can either let them bleed out or finish the job with a quick pistol shot.
- Cowboy: Naturally. MacFarlane's Ranch is filled with Working Cowboys, owned by Ranch Owner Drew MacFarlane, and run by his daughter cowgirl Bonnie MacFarlane.
- Crapsack World: There are very few happy endings here, and the general theme of the West seeming romantic but actually being a brutal land that leads all within it to strife and misery remains constant throughout the whole game (though the theme of having hope does so as well). This is most evident in the Stranger missions, which nearly all end in death, ruin, or misfortune for those involved, but on the whole, the world is miserable for everyone. Very few goodhearted or good intentioned characters survive the plot. (On top of that, only the most flawed or corrupt succeed, and no one can escape the traps they find themselves in.
- So much so that the Undead Nightmare DLC, despite unleashing hordes of zombies onto the wild west, MANAGES TO MAKE IT LESS CRAPPY. That's right, a Zombie Apocalypse is an IMPROVEMENT.
- Cutscene Boss: Dutch. See Anticlimax Boss.
- Cutscene Incompetence: John is prone to this. In the very first mission, he decides to draw a gun on three men all pointing rifles at him. They shoot him. Did you really need to to highlight this?
- Deadpan Snarker: John Marston is a very cynical person and often sneaks in veiled insults to the people he works for or with, or at the very least, plays devil's advocate with whatever belief they happen to espouse, be it for good or ill. This often veers into Only Sane Man territory.
- Death Is Dramatic: Most notably, Dutch's. And John Marston himself.
- Decade Dissonance: Played very effectively: Blackwater is significantly more modern than the other towns.
- Defector From Decadence: Though it was apparently forced upon him by the old gang leaving him for dead, John as well as his wife and son, who also ran with the gang had very clearly left the outlaw life behind by the time the game starts. Or he tried to. At the least, he wanted nothing to do with it anymore.
- Deliberately Monochrome: When you use Dead Eye, time will slow down and a sepia filter will be used, which mimics an old photograph.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Everything from newspapers lauding the medicinal properties of tobacco to a rabidly anti-Semitic Shop Keeper in Armadillo.
- The best is one of the men in the running for Governor in a campaign that is chronicled in newspapers throughout the story. He loses all support in a scandal because when he lived in Alabama he let non-whites use white bathrooms and such.
- One of the two black and white, silent cartoon movies you can watch vilifies woman's suffrage, the other warns against medical science which, it asserts, will "kill you and leave you dead". Though in light of your interactions with Nigel West Dickens, this may not be a bad thing to tell people.
- Depraved Bisexual: Seth had a wife and children, but he's implied to be more than just friends with Moses.
- Depraved Homosexual: Averted with De Santa. While he fulfills both portions of the trope individually, his brand of villainy has no connection to his sexuality.
- Determinator: John. Not sheriff's posses, not the army, not cougars, not Mexico, not the proto-FBI, not his best friends, not even a zombie apocalypse, nothing NOTHING NOTHING will stop him from reuniting with his family.
- Did Not Do the Research:
- The wolves bark a lot and are highly aggressive in this game. In real life, wolves either very rarely bark or never bark at all, and they are shy animals that avoid people most of the time.
- The coyotes can also act extremely aggressive in this game, gathering in packs to kill humans walking through the desert. Coyotes, of course, are not known for attacking humans.
- Actually, a lot of attacked people would disagree.
- Also, the in-game coyotes are reasonably skittish around you, at least compared to the other predatory animals.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Defied by John when he's talking about Bonnie to his wife. He wisely stops digging and starts complimenting her.
John Marston: When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
- If you notice, John stole that little line from Landon Ricketts. He says it during the card game you play with him before the Mexican Standoff.
- Dirty Cop: Ross
- The Ditz: For a wise man, Professor Harold MacDougal is a very stupid man.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Zombie Overrun is Do Not Go Gentle The Game! You are told that you are going to die and instructed to take as many Zombies as you can with you.
- Also John's last stand against the BOI.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: "I Know You" mission.
- Downer Ending: Some characters get happy endings (Sheriff Marshal, Seth, probably Bonnie). But on the whole, downer-tastic.
- Downloadable Content: Plenty, including a Mythology Gag DLC that allows you to play characters from Red Dead Revolver.
- Do You Want to Copulate?: The prostitutes don't beat around the bush.
"Is there anything of yours you'd like to stick into something of mine?"
- The Mexicans do it, too:
I'm like tequila; I go straight to the head.
- The Dragon: Norman Deek to Bill, Captain De Santa/Espinoza (depending on which one you ask) to Allende, Fordham to Ross. Arguably John was this to Dutch.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: John has the patience of a saint, what with all the jerking around he has to put up with.
- Dude, Where's My Reward?: During the final mission, John will sometimes shout at his attackers.
John: I DID WHAT YOU WANTED!
- Duel to the Death: One of Landon Ricketts' missions has this as the result of a Grumpy German accusing the John of cheating.
- Not to mention the final duel between Jack Marston and Edgar Ross on the riverbank in the Playable Epilogue.
- Dying for Symbolism: Marston's death is there to reflect the end of the Wild West and the inevitable turn towards civilization.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: John may inevitably end up dying but, depending on how quick he is, he can take out up to eight of his killers -- nearly half the company.
- The entire final mission is pretty much John's Dying Moment of Awesome. Sure, they do manage to take him down eventually - at the cost of nearly a hundred dead or wounded soldiers.
- Easily Forgiven: You can put a .22 cartridge through a sheriff's head and knife every woman in town, but if you do a sidequest and carry around some papers, people will think you're the Lone Ranger. If you're wearing your bandanna, you don't even get negative honor.
- Inversely, people aren't upset about tying up and leaving a woman on train tracks.
- The Edwardian Era: As it's about 10 years too early for Americans to start worrying about Dirty Communists, Mexicans are used as a stand-in, though a few remarks about "socialists" are thrown about.
- Elemental Crafting: You can literally live off the land, by picking flora and hunting animals for skins and meat.
- End of an Age: The game is set in 1911, during the end of the Wild West, and the tone is appropriately melancholic.
- Everything Is Worse With Bears: They will stalk and hunt you down. Don't worry, you can hunt them back.
- Let's not forget that this game takes place in some horrible dimension where bears are pack animals.
- There's even Brumas the Bear, a sub-boss which can be killed as part of a challenge.
- And then of course, there's the swarms of bears that often appear at Bear Claw Camp. When this happens, the best you can do is hide in a cabin and pray for your miserable life.
- Let's not forget that this game takes place in some horrible dimension where bears are pack animals.
- Everything's Worse with Wolves: The wolves typically attack in groups and can spawn almost infinitely.
- Evil Brit: The only British characters Marston meets during the game (aside from a few generic characters with British accents you may play poker with) are a snobbish, racist English opium dealer and a dumb Welsh crook (who comes under the hooligan half of this trope). Not the most evil characters in the game by far, but still.
- Averted by Nigel West Dickens who has an English accent and lists his home as Eastcheap, London, which is where Falstaff's Boar's Head Inn once stood. He's a shady con artist, sure, but he does seem to care for John, even if he often gives him the run-around.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Thieves' Landing is a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
- Exploding Barrels: Dynamite/TNT Barrels and boxes.
- Expy: Marston looks a lot like Red; the two even have the same facial scars.
- Bonnie MacFarlane looks a lot like Annie Stoakes and even has a similar background (the daughter of a rancher who ignores established gender roles and raises her to be a strong and independent woman).
- Edgar Ross looks a lot like an older Jack Swift.
- Eyepatch of Power: The downloadable "Deadly Assassin" outfit.
- Fallen Hero: Dutch fits this trope to a T. He's an idealistic and formerly heroic man who wants to make the world better and has been driven past the brink of insanity by the realization that nothing he does will ever make any difference whatsoever; his beliefs and ideals have been utterly shattered, and he fights because he literally has nothing left to live for. To a lesser extent, the other members of his gang qualify as well, but none manage to capture the spirit of the trope quite so effectively as Dutch.
- Final Boss Preview: Wow. In the mission, "At Home With Dutch," the player must silently neutralize an enemy scout, take the binoculars and search for Dutch with them. After spying on a far away encampment, Dutch is seen, and he already knows you're there. He shoots John right in the binoculars, avoiding a lethal shot in the eye, but instead, knocking him unconscious from the impact. Ouch.
- Five-Bad Band: Dutch's gang:
- Foreshadowing: "I Know You": The final encounter with the mysterious man takes place at the same place where John is buried.
- To add to this, the man says "ain't this a beautiful spot?" while standing on John's future grave. John fires three shots (which don't kill or hurt the "man"), and later there are three graves there.
- For Science!: Nigel West Dickens, and in the later game Professor Harold MacDougal, proclaim to be men of science.
- French Jerk: "French" is a bit of a dick.
- Full-Circle Revolution: Abraham Reyes and his men, thirsty for freedom and justice, overthrow an oppressive and corrupted regime that lets the Mexican people starve, and instead put in place… an oppressive and corrupted regime that lets the Mexican people starve. When you have worked with Reyes for a while, this is not the slightest bit surprising.
- Gallows Humour: John and other characters use this humor through out the game.
- Game Breaking Bug: Not a total breaker, but still pretty annoying. On the missions where you have to catch and break wild horses, after you capture two or three of them your character will start automatically releasing the lasso from the captured horse whenever you try to get off your own horse, which results in the captured one instantly bolting away. You can avoid this by getting off your own horse before using the lasso, but it's a major pain in the neck.
- In the Asian version of the Play Station 3 game, the buttons X and O were messed up in all of the mini-games, making a lot of them virtually unplayable. The bug was (eventually) patched.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: It can get pretty hilarious, one YouTube clip has the ultimate duel between Ross and Jack be interrupted by a wolf spawning from nowhere.
- Or the song Compass playing while Marston is returning home, only to be stopped when you're thrown off your horse because a cougar attacked you, fricking cougars!
- The first third of the storyline revolves around Marston and his allies' preparations for an assault on Bill Williamson's fortified hideout, which involves detailed planning, much specialized equipment and at least half a dozen men to pull off, culminating in a dramatic set-piece battle. During the same portion of the game, you will also likely clear out several equally-fortified gang hideouts single-handedly or with the help of a single accomplice, making the above feel like rather a waste of time.
- Averted in The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed: Jack's horse's stamina is unlimited to avoid him being bucked off as he's racing back to the ranch to see John.
- Shortly after entering Mexico, Irish, for no clear reason, grabs the sheath of a horse he has appropriated, and is reprimanded by John. If you ever chance to look in-game, horse crotches are featureless.
- Generation Xerox: Jack ends up exactly like his father.
- Genius Bruiser: John Marston is uneducated and thus doesn't quite qualify as a Badass Bookworm, but it becomes increasingly apparent over the course of the game that he is very, very smart, and in a better environment could have easily become anything he wanted to be. He might even have made a good Bureau agent.
- Genre Busting
- Genre Savvy / Lampshade Hanging: Many people in the game are fully aware of the huge amount of Wild West tropes. Bonnie says that the penny-dreadfuls and dime novels badly exaggerate things (which they did) but for the most part, this game plays those tropes totally straight. Good thing most Wild West tropes are awesome.
- John jokes that he thought he'd get something for robbing 50 banks.
- Global Currency: Every shopkeeper accepts U.S. dollars. Even the ones in Mexico.
- Truth in television. Lots of places will take dollars here in Mexico, specially on border towns and tourist spots.
- God Was My Co-Pilot: The Mysterious Stranger from "I Know You" was possibly this. See Angel Unaware.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: The overreaching arc for the first act in New Austin.
- Gory Discretion Shot: While you never see Marston physically skin the animals he hunts, there are some lovely blood spatters that splash on the screen accompanied by rather gruesome sound effects.
- And the skinless carcass lies there when you're done.
- Subverted hard in the final scene when John Marston gets gunned down by the US Army. The scene--and the bloody, agonizing aftermath--are shown in all their gory detail.
- Gotta Catch Em All: You unlock new horse deeds by roping and breaking in new types of wild horses. You also need to hunt just about every single different living creature in the game (and every type of wildflower) to complete the ambient challenges.
- Gray and Grey Morality
- Guide Dang It: The game never actually tells you how dueling works,only giving you generic tips on which buttons to press. What you actually have to do is press the button to draw your gun and wait for the crosshairs to turn white and pick your targets when they do so. This builds up the meters on the right side of the screen, and whoever has filled their meter more wins.
- The game is pretty bad at teaching the game mechanics in general.
- Gun Porn: A variety of period weapons including machine guns, rifles, machine pistols, and revolvers. However, many of them do not actually operate the way they do in real life.
- Guns Akimbo: Played straight and averted. Although in there are two instances of this happening in cut scenes it never happens in the actual game play.
- The Gunslinger: John Marston. A lot of the NPCs actually, since it's a western.
- Happily Married: John's reason for refusing propositions from women of loose morals. Later, he and his wife show themselves to be made for each other.
- Hat Damage: It's possible to remove people's hats with well placed shots. A slight error quickly turns the target's head into Pink Mist, but the hat comes off that way too.
- Hellish Horse: Has a horse known appropriately as the "dead horse". In addition to being covered in claw marks, it's missing one eye, the lower jaw and half of its left front leg. It can be ridden, but not in normal game play, you have to use a edited save file or mod one yourself, but you can see it laying dead in the mission "Spare the Love, Spoil the Child" if you go to the cave, or in this YouTube video: .
- The Hero Dies
- Heroic Sacrifice: John ensures that Abigail and Jack survive.
- Hidden Depths: John Marston engages in some surprisingly deep and interesting philosophical discussions with various characters over the course of the story, quite an accomplishment for a gunslinging reformed outlaw with no formal education.
- Hide Your Children: We see two children in the entire game; a kid selling newspapers in the opening cutscene, and John's son. In Mexico, it's mentioned that kids have been taking up arms in the revolution, but we never see any, for obvious reasons.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Abigail WAS one of these, before the events of the game.
- Hope Spot: John found his family and is living Happily Ever After...right? Dead wrong.
- Horse of a Different Color: In multi-player, you can ride a bull, a buffalo, an albino buffalo, a Texas Longhorn, and a "zebra donkey", a donkey painted like a zebra. And it's the fastest mount in the game.
- Hot Mom: Abigail for sure.
- Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: Possible in multi-player as you can ride donkeys with particularly large characters, such as Pig Josh.
- 100% Heroism Rating: There are both positive and negative consequences for having a high "honor" rating. In law-abiding towns like Armadillo or Blackwater, shops will sell for less and buy for more, lawmen and citizens will overlook most crimes other than murder or bank robbery, jobs pay twice as much, and you have a random chance of encountering a nun who gives you an item that cuts enemy accuracy by 25%. Conversely, in Thieves' Landing shops will charge you more and buy for less, you're more likely to get challenged to a duel, and citizens may randomly open fire on you the moment you ride into town.
- Hunter-Trapper: Lots of coyote pelts to gather and sell. Kill one of everything to get an achievement.
- I Banged Your Mom: More like "I Banged Your Wife." Dutch constantly reminds John that his wife used to be the gang's whore.
- I Found You Like This: After pulling a gun on Bill Williamson while he was in a fort and John standing in no cover, Bonnie MacFarlane somehow happens across John and brings him back to the ranch to get patched up.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: You get the High-Power Pistol when Edgar Ross shoves it barrel-first in John Marston's stomach. A not-so-subtle indication that he really wants John shot. And that he's an asshole.
- I'm a Humanitarian: In the "American Appetites" quest chain. As well as a lone cannibal that can be randomly encountered.
- Improbable Aiming Skills : The Dead Eye aiming mode. Plus firing a revolver that fast that accurately.
- In-story example: Near the end of the game, Dutch manages to nail Marston with what would have been a headshot with a pistol from several hundred meters away. Had Marston not been using binoculars, the bullet would have hit him square between the eyes.
- Taken Up to Eleven with throwing knives. The player can equip throwing knives, target a flying bird in Dead Eye that's at least 50 yards away while on horseback at full speed, and manage to hit the bird with the knife. Opponents armed with Throwing Knives routinely hit the player from distances over 50 yards.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: At least on the cover.
- Infinity Plus One Gun: Averted in the case of the Rare Guns; many of them are not stupendously overpowered and instead have a unique perk. For example, the Mauser Pistol is fully-automatic.
- Instant Death Bullet: Partially subverted. Some times they die on the first shot and sometimes in more shots.
- Interspecies Romance: Jeb and "Lucy". They wind up getting married!
- Funnily enough this is one of the only missions that ends with a somewhat happy, if not a little weird, ending for all the parties involved.
- There's also a newspaper advertisement which appears to be offering...advice...on this sort of thing.
- Ironic Echo: West Dickens late in his series of missions begs John, "I implore you!" The subtle take by John is priceless.
- On a darker note, the epilogue delivers several, but the dialogue between Jack and Ms. Ross absolutely takes the cake. Apparently Edgar ALSO has a family he retired from the Bureau to spend time with, but the Bureau still keeps dragging him in. This almost seems like the game rubbing the gamer's hate into their own face...which is certainly par for the course in Rockstar's recent titles.
- Irony: The people in Blackwater (mostly the G-men and Professor MacDougal) spend a lot of time acting as if frontier folk and "savages" are mentally retarded, but the very characters they rail against are decent, honest people (like the MacFarlanes and Nastas) while they themselves are basically glorified thugs forcing their beliefs and values
- It Will Never Catch On: John isn't impressed by the bureau's automobile:
Marston: So much for this automobile of yours. If this is the future, God help us all... I can walk faster than this piece of shit! Give me a horse anyday!
- Applied to the game as well: Rockstar San Diego were apparently told that they were crazy to make a game set in the Wild West. They revealed this tidbit upon being awarded the Game of the Year.
- I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: John's wife and son.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Jerkass had a point in this case. Captain DeSanta makes several comments on how Abraham Reyes' fight for freedom is only a glorified thirst for power, which, when you get to know Reyes, proves to not be very far from the truth. Made clear in a newspaper article in the game's epilogue, where it's revealed that he became a tyrant.
- This could count for Edgar Ross too.
John Marston: "So how does it feel? Taking a man's wife and child from him? Does it make you feel good?"
John Marston: "I want my family."
- John Marston Is About To Shoot You: Though it looks like he's aiming to blow your foot off with that shotgun.
- Karma Houdini: Ross.
- Agent Fordham.
- Ross ultimately kills John Marston because he considers him to be one of these.
- Karma Meter: You have an honor meter that grants you various benefits if you max it out to be a highly honorable man or a highly dishonorable man. Incidentally, this is independent of your criminal bounty or wanted level, which only go up if you get caught committing crimes. Unlike most free-roamers made by Rockstar, it's entirely possible to be an almost totally law-abiding citizen and profit from it.
- Of course, given that vigilante justice and bounty-hunting were perfectly acceptable at the time from a legal standpoint, those who would abide by the law of the land often had just as much blood on their hands as an outlaw.
- Kick the Dog : Not counting all the other Video Game Cruelty Potential moments, the player can actually kick dogs for the hell of it using the same button one could use to shove people. Players doing the last activity, will quickly find out that The Dog Bites Back.
- Kill It with Fire: The fire bottle and the torch, the latter exclusive to Undead Nightmare mode and is especially effective against the undead.
- Knife Nut: Averted. Trying to use the knife in combat is an effective way to get killed.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Marshal Johnson.
- John Marston himself definitely qualifies as one of these. He talks and even occasionally acts like an Anti-Hero, but it's pretty obvious that he used to be quite the Wide-Eyed Idealist, and that not all of that idealism has died in him just yet. Lampshaded by Reyes, who calls John "A romantic trying to be a cynic".
- Landon Ricketts can also qualify, though his bitterness is a bit softer than Marston's and the Marshal's.
- Knight Templar: Agent Ross.
- Land in the Saddle: If you aim just right, you can land on your horse from a second story jump.
- La Résistance: A bunch of Mexican revolutionaries (and their oppressors) are among the various people John has to turn to while in Mexico for leads regarding his latest quarry. This plays with virtually every Resistance-based trope and falls into Black and Grey Morality in many ways. While the Resistance itself is portrayed sympathetically, its leader Abraham Reyes is a womanizing, elitist hypocrite who can't be bothered to remember anything anyone's done for him specifically. He's the leader simply because he happens to be very enthusiastic and charismatic.
- Dutch's gang saw and sees itself as one of these.
- Large Ham: It'd be easier to list non-hams here, but special mention goes to West Dickens, Reyes, MacDougal, and Nastas.
- Last Stand: John, having sent off his wife and son, takes a deep breath and shoves open the barn doors to greet a firing squad of twenty soldiers, all pointing their guns at him. The game goes into Deadeye Mode and you have one last chance to pick off as many soldiers as you can before John is ventilated.
- Living Legend: Landon Ricketts, although during the events of the game, he is keeping a low profile in Mexico.
- If you max out your fame, everyone will recognize you and react accordingly depending on your honor. This is quite impressive considering you started the game out as a nobody.
- Loveable Rogue: Arguably, Irish.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Luisa. Oh, Luisa...Charging three armed men with a knife? "Que dejen a mi hombre!" What were you thinking?
- Ludicrous Gibs: Getting run over by a train.
- Or getting hit with an Explosive Rifle round.
- MacGuffin: In a slightly darker example, your family.
- Male Gaze: Abigail has levels of ass focus rivaling Rebecca Chang, but really, who's complaining.
- Meaningless Meaningful Words: Abraham Reyes' speeches consist of him throwing around rabble-rousing buzzwords such as "freedom" and "for the people!" It's quite clear to the player though that he's nothing more than a self-important blowhard.
- The Men in Black: The Federal Agents. Men in Bowlers.
- "We have the power to do whatever we think is necessary to protect this country."
- Ross's speech about Dutch's form of anarchy quickly becomes this.
Ross: But it sure felt good to say
- There's also this conversation during an Abraham Reyes mission when Reyes is describing General Sanchez
Reyes: It's like a father who beats his son, then the son takes his dog outside and rapes it
- Mexican Standoff: Every multi-player match starts this way. There is also a lampshade hung on the trope during the single player campaign.
- "There has to be a name for this." "An impasse, sir. An impasse."
- Milking the Giant Cow: West Dickens.
- Molotov Cocktail: the Fire Bottles
- Molotov Truck: You use this in one mission.
- Mood Whiplash: Bonnie's mission line is a good example. You spend most of the chain doing several relaxing low risk jobs such as as cattle herding and horse breaking. Then she gets kidnapped by bandits and you end up storming their hideout to rescue her.
- Moody Mount: The game has a lot of unique and in some cases magical horses that must be "broken" before they can be ridden. And even a broken horse can still buck you off if you don't pay attention to the stamina meter.
- Moral Dissonance: Lampshaded.
- More Dakka: The Gatling Guns and some of the late game weapons have larger ammo magazines.
- Mummies At the Dinner Table: The end of a few Stranger quest chains.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Remember My Family.
- Made more obvious when you realize that the book Jack was reading earlier was the story of Red Dead Revolver.
- Mythology Gag: In the end of the game, John Marston dies and Jack Marston takes up arms to avenge him. Kinda like what Red Harlow did in Red Dead Revolver.
- N-Word Privileges: While in Mexico, you get called "gringo" a lot. Interestingly, despite being used fairly often in that time period, the N word itself is never used.
- National Stereotypes : Irish is a textbook example of the Drunk Irish stereotype. He also used to be part of a group that was apparently named after national stereotypes; when you find him, he's being accosted by "Welsh" and "French," though the latter doesn't even have a French accent.
- Confusingly, Welsh has a Geordie accent. Not a Welsh one.
- Nice Hat: It's a Western, there are no hats that aren't nice.
- Some of the Mexican sombreros almost count.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Now you know why Ross wanted to kill John's family, too.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: John does this to de Santa in an attempt loosen his tongue as to the whereabouts of Escuella. We don't actually see much, but the sheer amount of damage to his body speaks for itself.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Very common, particularly with the Stranger missions. Help a man start a film studio? He goes bankrupt. Save Eva from her abuser so she can go be a nun? She goes back to him, and he murders her. Save the Chinese immigrant from indentured servitude so he can rejoin his fiancee in Shanghai? He never makes it because of his crippling opium addiction.
- No Hero Discount: Subverted, once your fame is high enough, shops will sell stuff to you at half price.
- No Kill Like Overkill: Edgar Ross sends in the Army to kill one man. Who was, admittedly, a One-Man Army.
- Step one: Get the Evans Repeater. Step two: Go into dead eye. Step three: Put all 22 shots on a single person. Step four: Watch the ragdoll flail around in slow-mo as you pump 22 shots into it as quickly as possible.
- Try dueling with the mauser equipped. Oh, the carnage.
- Whip out your Explosive Rifle. Go into Dead-Eye and target a bird. Dance gleefully as what amounts to a primitive HEAT projectile blows your chosen avian into Pink Mist and a few drifting feathers.
- Nonstandard Game Over: "You have destroyed your corn"
- Not in This For Your Revolution: The entire section taking place in Mexico.
- Not So Different: "You're just like me, John! You can't change who you are!"
- Made all the more effective in the Epilogue (see Ironic Echo).
- The Obi-Wan: Landon Ricketts
- One-Man Army / Person of Mass Destruction: The player character, John Marston. Even if you try to be as non-violent as possible, you'll still likely end up killing more people than every single real-life Wild West gunslinger combined.
- This doesn't go unnoticed by the characters in the game, either - when the Bureau decides to kill John, they send in the Army. Literally hundreds of them. Against one man (well, technically two, but still). He kills most of them.
- Only a Flesh Wound: The player and some of the tougher NPCs. You can get shot in the arms or legs and keep running full speed and have perfect steady aim. It's averted for your enemies though. They will hold wounded arms and legs and limp around. If you shoot them in the gut they will start to bleed out and lie on the ground prone in agony.
- Provided the trajectory of the bullet doesn't allow it to go through the stomach or the chest an NPC can be shot an infinite number of times in the lower back without dying.
- Outlaw Town: Thieves' Landing, a bayou town with no law enforcement at all.
- Painting the Fourth Wall: Tilting the camera angle up during a storm will cause the camera to get spattered with raindrops.
- When skinning an animal blood will squirt from the corpse and hit the camera.
- You can get other debris and some blood spray on the camera.
- Papa Wolf: Nothing will prevent John from getting his family back. Later on, he's willing to take on a grizzly to save Jack.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: John can wear a bandanna over the lower part of his face that will turn off the Karma Meter.
- Also useful in Thieves' Landing if you have full honor: Everything Trying to Kill You the natives won't try to kill you outright.
- Pet the Dog: Several pop up, but most notably your encounters with the Ross family in the Epilogue makes it fairly clear that Ross wasn't entirely evil.
- Played literally with Rufus. After spending weeks - months, even - being chased by cougars and carving his way through packs of wolves, it seems that even John Marston's best friend is his faithful pet hound.
- Pistol-Whipping: John does this if you get close to an enemy and he doesn't initiate a instant kill animation.
- Playable Epilogue: Toyed with slightly. It's not actually possible to "finish" the game until you do the Epilogue-only sidequest "Remember my Family" from Blackwater. Only then does the game roll credits.
- Porting Disaster: The PlayStation 3 version has a lower resolution of 640p, quincunx anti-aliasing that blurs the image further, lower resolution textures, less foliage and more frame-rate drops.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Averted. The game actually shows entry and exit wounds, and they look quite gruesome.
- Pyrrhic Victory: At the end of "Remember My Family", Jack finds Edgar Ross 3 long years after Ross had his father killed. After a short exchange, he guns him down and leaves the man's corpse lying in the water...and that's it. No reward, no catharsis, he just wanders off to continue his shattered specter of a life, far removed from what his father was trying to build for him.
- Quick Draw: Marston can be challenged to duels in this style. Interestingly, if you draw first, winning is much harder as your accuracy goes down (you're panicking, after all).
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The first major portion of the game involves assembling a task force to help root Williamson out of the fort he and his gang have holed up in, though Marston practically has to drag most of them kicking and screaming to cooperate.
- Random Encounters: Done in order to keep running across the same expanse of land from becoming boring and monotonous, although trying to do everything at once can lead to a Quicksand Box situation if you don't pick and choose what's important to stop for.
- Rare Guns: Weapons such as the Henry repeating rifle, Le Mat Revolver, and Volcanic pistol were obsolete by the time the game takes place. The Le Mat had a very low production run and would only be found in museums, while the Mauser would be virtually impossible to find in America at the time.
- The Volcanic Pistol deserves a special mention. Developed in the 1850s, it was a lever-action pistol fed from a tubular magazine, and it fired "Hunt Rocket Ball" ammunition. Said ammunition has the honor of being one of the earliest metallic firearms cartridges, as well as the somewhat more dubious honor of being almost useless due to its pathetically low muzzle energy. As for the gun itself, it's rare enough that one was recently sold for $6500 on the television show Pawn Stars.
- Real Is Brown: Considering the majority of the game takes place in the desert, this should be expected. It's nearly impossible to see certain characters because of this at times. Especially bandits.
- Real Men Get Shot: John is scarred all to hell. On his face. It makes him no less sexy.
- Rearing Horse: Able to be performed on command.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Edgar Ross gives one of these to John every time he sees him.
- Reconstruction: The Western genre, in film and in video game, has been mostly ignored in the last few years. Then comes Redemption, and despite it's bittersweet tone, it puts nearly every trope, cliche, and character from the Western Genre into a single game, and makes it unerringly awesome.
- Redemption Equals Death
- Redemption Failure: John Marston quits the life of an outlaw after his "friends" leave him to die, but The Government kidnaps his wife and son and orders him to dispose of his old comrades. He is forced to go back to his bad ways and although the player largely determines whether he becomes evil again, even with a good karma he still kills an awful lot of people on the way.
- Retired Gunfighter: Landon Ricketts, full stop.
- Retired Monster: What Edgar Ross considers Marston to be. Ross fails to see the Irony or hypocrisy of the fact that Marston is trying to stop killing people and Ross is forcing him to keep killing people.
- Ironically what Ross becomes From a Certain Point of View in the Epilogue.
- Retired Outlaw: Marston.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified
- Revolvers Are Just Better: It is The Wild West after all, but since it's set near the end of the Wild West, several pistols do show up. In fact, the pistols are generally superior to the revolvers, although ammo for them is uncommon until the later parts of the game.
- Though, when it comes to dueling, Revolvers Are Just Better because you have to aim each shot of your weapon's capacity before you actually start firing. This is somewhat difficult with a pistol with a high capacity, such as the Mauser.
- Right Through His Pants: The sex scene. Not that that makes it any less horrifying.
- Roboteching: Thanks to the Good Bad Bug mentioned above. The glitch involves equipping a thrown weapon or explosive, engaging Dead-eye mode, selecting a target, and then letting the projectile go. Watch in awe as the projectile (preferably a stick of lit dynamite) homes in on your target, even if it's in the air!
- Sarcasm Blind:
Nastas: I think they are interested to find out what conclusions a white man has reached on hundreds of years of culture and society from the comfort of his hotel room.
- Satan: One of the theories about the identity of The Mysterious Stranger.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: One of the shotguns you can get in the game.
- Say My Name: JOHN! MARSTON! REMEMBER MI NOMBRE!
- Scenery Porn: And how. Those familiar with the Southwest of the United States will easily recognize the cholla cactus and Joshua Trees that fill up most of the western-most areas. In fact, this game is remarkable for the wide variety of desert types there are, something most games (and movies, and stories) totally overlook. Just for variety, there's also snow-capped mountains, a forest, and even a swampy area, each looking extremely lush.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them: What the Bureau Uniform, the reward for 100% completion, enables you to do.
- Sequel Escalation: Red Dead Revolver was like Max Payne in the Old West. This is like Grand Theft Auto IV in the Old West.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Averted. Horribly, horribly averted.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Most of the stranger quests are this. If the writers are in a bad mood, they'll Shoot the Shaggy Dog. The entire game could be considered a particularly cruel Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
- The Sheriff: Leigh Johnson, Town Marshall of Armadillo
- Shmuck Bait: During "At Home With Dutch", having just faced down a grizzly bear not even a minute before, the player sees a dead bighorn right in the middle of an empty field, just begging to be skinned. And that's when the player is introduced to the deadliest animal in the ga*COUGAR'd* (The effect is slightly dampened because cougars kill you in two hits in single-player instead of one in multi-player, but for the unprepared newbie it's still one hell of a shock)
- Also, some of the NPCs asking for optional Escort Missions are actually horse thieves in disguise. There's no way to tell the difference between the two until a few seconds before, when Marston says that something doesn't feel right.
- Shoot the Dog: And skin it, too, but it'll cost you Honor.
- And you can Shoot The Horse:
Play as Marston and shoot a horse
- You can put a bullet between the eyes of every creature on God's green earth, but people only seem to care about the dogs and horses.
- Shoot the Rope: Some random encounters along the road have John shooting the rope to save the victim of a lynch mob.
- Short-Range Shotgun: The shotgun is sadly fairly useless for hunting.
- Averted in the double barrel shotgun, which has a lower spread and is very good for hunting birds.
- Shout-Out: There is an oil town named Plainview.
- The whole Stranger story branch with the "Freaky Stranger," with the top hat and everything seems mighty familiar to the plot in that one Cormac McCarthy book.
- The Deadly Assassin outfit makes Marston look like "The Bad."
- Apparently, someone's invented a flying car.
- Herbert Moon bears a strong resemblance to the bartender from High Plains Drifter.
- There's an Achievement/Trophy ("Dastardly") for tying a woman and putting her on the train tracks to get run over, a reference to the old Perils of Pauline style film serials.
- There's also another Achievement/Trophy gained by collecting ten thousand dollars titled More Than A Fistful.
- The duel in the end between Ross and Jack is reminiscent of the final duel in The Quick and the Dead.
- The Man With No Name wears a tan vest, blue shirt and green poncho. John Marston can wear a blue vest, tan shirt and red poncho.
- Jack bears more than a slight resemblance to Inigo Montoya
- Might not fully qualify, but the Flowers for a Lady side mission, with a man keeping his wife's corpse, talking to it, and refusing to recognize that she's died, seemed like a Shout Out to Psycho.
- The "Austin Overpowered" achievement/trophy.
- In the newspapers, there's a certain female doctor causing quite a stir.
- Dead-Eye is most likely a reference to the Improbable Aiming Skills shown in many westerns, particularly Spaghetti Westerns.
- The achievement/trophy wherein John must evade the U.S. Marshalls while riding a specific rare white horse is called "Heading South On A White Bronco", a reference to the O.J. Simpson low-speed chase that preceded his murder trial.
- Drew MacFarlane's son,Owen,died of chronic diarrhea
- Part shout out part Bilingual Bonus. The place called Casa de Madrugada. In Spanish this translates to the house of the dawn or The House of the Rising Sun. It is populated by hookers.
- The scene where John meets Desanta is very similar to a scene in House of a 1000 Corpses where a character did a similar psych-out that Desanta does.
- Lady Gaga: There's an achievement called pa-pa-pa-poker ace.
- The achievement 2 Guys 1 coop is possibly a reference to the infamous 2 girls 1 cup video.
- Show Within a Show: The silent films you can see in movie theaters throughout the game.
- Single-Stroke Battle: With liberal use of the Dead Eye mechanic and good aim on your own part, you can shoot three or four men in the head at the same moment and when time resumes its normal flow, they'll all collapse to the ground at the same time. Naturally, this makes you feel incredibly badass.
- Want to feel even more badass? Shoot their guns out of their hands in Dead Eye. Unfortunately, they don't recognize the badass and just pick them back up again, but do it to six guys at once and holy damn.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Very, very cynical.
- Smoking Is Cool: Strongly implied, as it regenerates your Deadeye gauge. Then again, so does snake oil.
- There's also one newspaper ad that lauds tobacco's medicinal properties.
- Smug Snake: Agents Fordham and Ross are both irritatingly condescending and sarcastic to Marston.
- West Dickens as well, save the fact that his schemes almost never work.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Nigel West Dickens. Marston can barely stand the man. As bad as being a bandit was, he feels it is way more honest to rob a man with a gun than to rob him with a promise of ineffective medicine. Though he does end up saving Dickens from his (rightful) incarceration.
- Snicket Warning Label: Do you feel it's weird that the game keeps going after Marston reunites with his family?
- Sniping Mission: There are a few missions where John is given a Sniper Rifle to pick off enemies.
- Somewhere an Equestrian Is Crying: No, Hungarian Half-Breds aren't actually identical to Quarter Horses, and in real life it's a bad idea to leave your horse hitched up all the time without removing the saddle and bridle.
- Son of a Whore: John and Jack.
- South of the Border: Part of the game involves crossing the border into Mexico. Which is also justified, given the relatively porous and tumultuous nature of the US-Mexican frontier during that time period.
- Spirited Young Lady: Bonnie MacFarlane.
- Spiritual Successor: It's the "official" sequel to Red Dead Revolver.
- Stealth Pun: While in Chuparosa, Marston is accused of cheating at poker, which leads to guns being drawn all around the table, and surrounding tables. It's a Mexican standoff. In the uncomfortable pause as everyone looks at the guns trained on everyone else, the accuser remarks on it, "There's gotta be a name for this."
- The name of the stranger task 'Poppycock', where you unknowingly deliver Opium to a drug dealer.
- Likewise, "Love Is The Opiate".
- The Stoner: MacDougal is strung out on cocaine.
- Storming the Castle: "The Assault on Fort Mercer." Williamson escapes, but Marston and his motley crew at least clear out his gang.
- John later does this when he joins the Rebels in assaulting Escalera and taking down Allende (and getting Bill in the process).
- And once more in the mountains with the US Army to get Dutch.
- Strawman Political: Played for laughs, the game features several characters and publications with hilariously outdated and backwards politics.
- Stupidity Is the Only Option: The way De Santa acts in the "Cowards Die Many Times" mission will from the beginning make it bluntly obvious to any player, who is just the least bit Genre Savvy, that a betrayal is waiting just around the corner. Heck, even John is extremely suspicious of the whole thing, and yet he falls head first into the trap.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: Enemies in entrenched positions will frequently leave cover to charge you. Even if you're supposed to be attacking them.
- Super-Persistent Predator: Cougars, Wolves, and supposedly bears can chase for ridiculous distances in which most real life predators would have long since given up and gone after easier prey even shooting them doesn't mean they will stop.
- Super Drowning Skills: Get in water higher than your neck and you are doomed. John himself remarks in a conversation with Irish that he can't swim. It even extends these to your horse, and the other animal NPCs in violation of reality, without so much as a handwave. Weirdly, it's stated that when Dutch's gang left him to die after the attempted robbery on the ferry, John swam back to shore.
- Take That: "Hey Marston, I only robbed a bank, BUT YOU KILLED PEOPLE!"
- Take Up My Sword: A surprising game-ender instead of opener.
- Take Your Time: Your family's been kidnapped by the government, but no worries. You have time to go hunting wild boar, play blackjack, and watch a silent film cartoon. Considering Ross keeps assuring you they're being held in what amounts to a gilded cage, this may not even be far from the truth.
- Talkative Loon: Seth, professional graverobber. He's got more than a little Gollum in him; his constant search for precious treasure has withered his mind and made him waste away into a skinny wretch, and his hands and forearms are perpetually stained with dirt.
- Technical Pacifist: It is possible to play one to an extent. For example, you can disarm your opponents, or shoot their horses out from under them and escape.
- Tempting Fate: One of the random encounters you may find on your travels involves a couple guys in the wilderness sorting crates of dynamite. One man warns the other to be careful because one spark is all it takes to set it all off. You can guess what happens next.
- Too Dumb to Live: When John first talks to Williamson and fails to convince him, he reaches for his revolver... despite how there are three men, armed with rifles and up over walls, already having their guns drawn. He gets shot and only survives because Bonnie happened along.
- In one of the final missions, 16-year-old Jack sets out to go hunt a grizzly. By himself. John has to go out to save his ass.
- Took a Level in Badass: Jack in the epilogue.
- Torture Always Works: Subverted. Not on De Santa, it doesn't.
- Train Job: "The Great Mexican Train Robbery."
- Twenty Bear Asses: Most missions that aren't "go here and kill this group of guys" tends to be this.
- Luckily you can get an ass from every bear you kill.
- Twilight of the Old West: Set in 1911. Tellingly, the more developed settlements come across as islands of civilization spreading across the otherwise chaotic frontier.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Marston's allies love to milk his gunslinging skills for all their worth to achieve their own selfish ends. When he calls them out on this, they give him a Reason You Suck Speech. West Dickens and Irish are especially bad about this, but the king would have to be Edgar Ross, who has you do all his dirty work and then kills you.
- Unrequited Love: In one of the final missions, "Old Friends, New Problems", Bonnie is revealed to have been in love with John.
- The Unseen: Ignacio Sanchez, he's the tyrant Reyes was trying to overthrow and whom Allende worked for. We never get to see him though.
- Vendor Trash: Animal skins. Some animals surprisingly pay out for higher values than others, such as hawk feathers fetching better premiums than deer skins. The skins themselves are worth more if you sell them to shops where that animal is not normally found (e.g. buffalo skins in Mexico).
- Very-High-Velocity Rounds: Enemy rounds in Dead Eye move at about running speed, but yours travel normally.
- Video Game Caring Potential: It's easily possible to get very attached to your horse.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: The freedom given to you means that you can commit all kinds of atrocities if you want to - including tying people to railroad tracks and shooting friendly dogs.
- It's hilarious to lasso somebody and yank to the ground. It's not even illegal as long you don't drag or hogtie them, though they are understandably pissed at you for doing it.
- Everything in this video
- Video Game Geography: The Great Plains are not anywhere near that close to the Mexican border.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The Marston's are like this to each other, being a family of Deadpan Snarker.
- John and West Dickens slightly transgresses into this as the story progresses, though probably a bit more noticeably in Undead Nightmare.
- Wanted Poster
- Warrior Poet: John Marston is remarkably well-read for a former bandit and has a more developed vocabulary than most people would expect.
Williamson: I IMPLORE YOU? Really, Marston?
- We Buy Anything: Averted. You cannot resell items you buy, but you can sell certain animal parts to the vendors.
- The Western: Well, duh. In fact, the game can be considered a sort of Western Museum, with each region representing a specific era in the history of the genre:
- New Austin, with its classic American southwest desert environment and architecture, Outlaw antagonists, Cowboys, sheriff, and Clueless Deputies, and Black and White Morality (Williamson's gang are pretty solid Complete Monsters, while the worst the heroic characters get are Lovable Rogues) is the classic Western.
- Nuevo Paraiso, with its Darker and Edgier tone, Mexican environment and architecture, Black and Gray Morality, easily-acquirable poncho, and a more serious exposure of Marston's Anti-Hero nature, is the revisionist Spaghetti Western.
- West Elizabeth, with its non-arid setting, relatively modern architecture, Gray and Grey Morality, greater focus on Character Development and character exploration, and Downer Ending is the modern revisionist western, a la Unforgiven.
- Western Characters: Every one in the book.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Arguably, John pulls this on himself. It is established several times that John is not a fellow you want to cross. However, he is for the most part honorable with the exception of working for De Santa and Colonel Allende, in which he kills many poor peasants whose only crime is fighting a corrupt regime. Not only that, he burns their homes and allows their women to be forced into prostitution. The expression on his face indicates he is not pleased with this. It adds a definite edge to his character when you consider how far he's willing to go to get back to his family.
- What the Hell, Player?: A late stranger mission has you to try to get money from a man to help out his poor, unmarried, currently pregnant mistress. The man denies sleeping with the woman, but after Marston insists that he's an adulterer, the two end up dueling. The mistress is upset when she learns Marston killed him, but she accepts the money and leaves town. At the end of the mission, you meet with the man's wife at his grave. Apparently the mistress was laughing at the funeral. The entire mission was a con for the "mistress" to get money.
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Of sorts, and it's not explicit, but the final newspaper details what happened to those who survived the events of the game. Marshal Johnson retired as far away from Armadillo as possible, Landon Ricketts died peacefully in his sleep, Irish accidentally shoots himself (while on the outhouse, no less), Seth actually found some treasure and became rich beyond his wildest dreams, Bonnie (according to NPC chatter) got married, and Abraham Reyes becomes the tyrant he didn't exactly try hard to avoid becoming.
- Another reveals that after returning to the university, Professor MacDougal "went native", biting a chunk out of his rival, then climbed a building, stripped naked, and demanded fine food and wine.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Luisa, who is blindly fanatical to a man who can't even remember her name and doesn't seem to get that John's only working for the side that gets him Williamson and Escuella.
- Wide Open Sandbox: A change in formula from its predecessor, which was a a level-to-level linear action game.
- Wilhelm Scream: Delightfully present as a random death cry some mooks will deliver having been issued a modest storm of bullets.
- Also a pleasant Shout-Out to the classic Westerns the recording originally came from.
- Wretched Hive: Thieves' Landing: little gambling town on the bayou, whoever isn't selling fancy suits is playing five finger fillet, kidnapping women or sharping cards.In Mexico, there's Casa Madrugada.
- This is made most obvious by the fact that there is no law enforcement to deal with there.
- Written by the Winners: No matter how high or low he goes on the Karma Meter, Edgar Ross sees to it that John is remembered by the press, the government and most civilians as a vile, dangerous outlaw.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: John simply cannot catch a break, even after he has a false Earn Your Happy Ending.
- You Bastard: The Manifest Destiny achievement. Awarded for hunting the buffalo to extinction.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: De Santa tries to pull this on John. Luckily Abraham Reyes saves him at the nick of time. Edgar Ross does this successfully at the end of the game.
- You Killed My Father: Jack to Ross in "Remember My Family".
- Zettai Ryouiki: The prostitutes wear a Grade A.
- The two ladies are nuns.