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Fans Of The Mentalist Have Some Hefty Issues With The Red John Reveal

Contains spoilers for "The Mentalist" Season 6

CBS crime drama and Amazon streaming hit "The Mentalist" revolves around protagonist Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), a civilian who works with a fictionalized version of the real-life California Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Prior to teaming with the CBI, Jane was a conman who claimed to possess psychic abilities. Although Jane isn't actually psychic, the skills he developed that helped convince others of his supposed powers prove useful to the CBI's criminal investigations.

"The Mentalist" ran for seven seasons in total between 2008 and 2015. For about five-and-a-half of those seven seasons, the CBI is intent on catching an unidentified serial killer named Red John. Jane in particular harbors a personal vendetta against Red John for killing his wife and daughter prior to the start of the show.

While Red John serves as the principal antagonist for the majority of "The Mentalist," Season 6, Episode 8 reveals his true identity for the first time to be a cop named Thomas McAllister (Xander Berkeley). In that same episode, Jane murders McAllister, bringing what was up until that point a series-long storyline to a close.

As it turns out, some fans of "The Mentalist" are unhappy with the Red John storyline's resolution, and continue to discuss their issues with it to this day.

Some fans doubt that Thomas McAllister is the real Red John

In July of 2022, almost nine years after the episode revealing Red John's identity first aired, one Reddit user started a thread on the "Mentalist" subreddit titled, "After many years ive finally figured out why I didnt like the Red John reveal." In it, they outline how the supposedly definitive revelation that Thomas McAllister is Red John rings hollow to them in light of the Season 3 arc of a character named Timothy Carter (Bradley Whitford). Carter turns out to merely be a Red John impersonator and accomplice in spite of evidence initially suggesting that he is, in fact, the notorious serial killer. The series then doesn't provide enough evidence that this isn't also the case with McAllister, they argued, leaving the door open for a new Red John should the series ever continue.

User AScripturient agreed. "The problem wasn't so much as McAllister being Red John as it was that there were too many plot lines they had taken up previously that make it difficult for the elusive Red John to be caught in such a manner," they wrote. Meanwhile, user Biddy823 argued that a lack of hints earlier on in the series tying McAllister to Red John made the reveal all the more unbelievable.

A lack of planning may have detracted from the Red John reveal

In an interview with Hollywood Life, "The Mentalist" creator Bruno Heller described Thomas McAllister's death as a monumental event for the series. "Jane is a happier person. A weight has been taken off his shoulders and, in that, a weight has been taken off the show," he said, effectively confirming that Thomas McAllister is indeed the real Red John.

Ultimately, then, complaints from users on Reddit seem to be more of a rationale for feeling disappointed by the Red John reveal than a legitimate argument that the real Red John is still at large. That said, even Thomas McAllister actor Xander Berkeley was surprised to learn that he was Red John. "McAllister is clearly a red-herring and kind of a clownish one at that and they cast me because I've played a lotta bad guys so people will automatically suspect me, but I'll still get to be funny and provide a bit of comic relief while holding the tension in place at these key moments. But it's clearly Not Me," he told a "Mentalist" blog called The Mentalist Stuff, describing his mindset at the show's start.

So, when users online criticize the resolution of the longest-running storyline on "The Mentalist" as hard to believe, it seems that this may, ultimately, be the result of a lack of planning, given that even Berkeley once doubted he was the show's big bad.