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The Untold Truth Of Red Dead Revolver's Red Harlow

Rockstar's Red Dead series is an epic, sweeping western, but the fun is in the details. The games are packed full of easter eggs, references to other Rockstar games, and sometimes full stories you might otherwise miss. All of this inspires endless fan theories about how it all ties together.

But so far, the series hasn't fully explained one of its most glaring omissions in the Red Dead universe, at least not in a satisfying way: what happened to Red Harlow?

Red was the protagonist of the original Red Dead Revolver that landed on PS2 and Xbox back in 2002. While future protagonists John Marston and Arthur Morgan both had satisfying conclusions to their stories, Red's story ended with him riding off into the sunset after the shootout at Brimstone. Rockstar mentioned him in both Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2 and even brought him back for the Legends and Heroes DLC for the first Red Dead Redemption, but his ultimate fate is a loose end.

That hasn't stopped fans from coming up with their own theories about what happened to Red. Here are some of the craziest:

Theory #1: Red is Uncle

On the surface, this theory kind of makes sense. Uncle is a member of the Dutch van der Linde gang and the requisite drunken fool, and by the time of the events of Red Dead Redemption 2, he's middle-aged. Since Red Dead Revolver takes place before both Redemption games, maybe they could be the same guy. 

As one Redditor argued, Uncle claims he used to be known as "the one-shot kid," which would seem to match up with Red's legendary gunfighting skills. Throughout the game, Uncle tells tales about his old adventures. The gang thinks he's telling tall tales. But what if these stories are actually Red's previously untold exploits?

Really, the entire basis for this theory is "Uncle seems old enough." But as other fans have pointed out, Uncle is a few decades too old to be Red. Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in 1899, while Red Dead Revolver takes place during the 1880's. Red Harlow was in his 20's during his game, so by 1899 he would be somewhere in his 30's. Uncle, on the other hand, is at least in his 50's. Barring time travel, Uncle can't be Red.

Theory #2: Red is Landon Ricketts

The case for Red being Landon Ricketts seems to be a bit stronger. Ricketts is also in his 50's when John Marston meets him during Red Dead Redemption. But since Redemption takes place in 1911, it's at least possible that Red Harlow was actually a twentysomething Ricketts. And unlike Uncle, Ricketts actually does have the requisite gunfighting skills that Red did. Ricketts was considered "the fastest draw of his time," and even in middle age, he's still able to protect the people of Chuparosa, Mexico with his gun. 

Also, as Redditor u/Steven_Hunyady points out, Ricketts is the only character besides Red, John, and Arthur who's aware of Deadeye, the series' slow-mo bullet-time feature. That would make him the only NPC who knows Deadeye even exists. Wouldn't it be simpler if he were just Red with a different name?

The big problem with this theory is that Ricketts' right hand isn't scarred. In the prologue to Red Dead Revolver, Red grabs his father's gun, which is red-hot from firing, and it severely burns his palm. So unless Ricketts visited a frontier plastic surgeon, he can't be Red either.

Rockstar says Red is mythical, not literal

According to former Rockstar VP of Creative Dan Houser, Red Dead Revolver doesn't take place in the same timeline as Red Dead Redemption, and the events of the former didn't necessarily even happen. The overall theme of the series is the clash between the lawlessness of the Old West and the arrival of modern times. Redemption 1 & 2 both take place during this transition into modernity, but Revolver is set firmly in the past. 

In other words, Revolver's setting is a more mythical version of the "Wild West" than the setting of Redemption. The people who inhibit the worlds of Redemption 1 & 2 tell campfire tales about Red Harlow and his exploits as a gunslinger and bounty hunter. But these are tall tales. Folks like John Marston and Arthur consider Red Harlow to be the ideal version of an old-school outlaw, but not a real person. 

Not the most satisfying answer, but it will have to do until someone comes up with a more compelling one. At the very least, making up more Red Harlow theories should give fans something to do while they wait for Red Dead Redemption 3.