"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."
— John Marston
Red Dead Redemption is a Wide Open Sandbox spiritual 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 PlayStation 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 an agent of the law, Edgar Ross, 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 IVinThe 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, and 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 multiplayer environment. Red Dead Redemption was released to universal acclaim, 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. On October 11 2011, a "Game of the Year" Edition was released that contained this add-on as well as the original game.
Provides Examples Of:
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Most of the horse-training 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 months 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.
Probably nitpicking, but neither do horses neigh when they jump (would be highly difficult), and good luck trying to make a horse in RL jump a fence from a walk.
And naturally it's not that easy to tame a wild horse.
The game keeps track of the ammo that you use up and the meat that you harvest and/or sell, but you can hogtie as many people as you want without ever running out of rope.
A.K.A.-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 (although it does make one wonder why they didn't just use the Colt M1911, which would have been brand-new but still period-appropriate, especially since it was featured in a few pieces of concept art).
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?!"
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 (which players generally don't consider an improvement).
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.
Reyes: You've been spending too much time with Captain DeSanta.
Not to mention the fact that it's usually used colloquially as an insult on par with "faggot."
Some NPC's around a fire camp can also be heard discussing a rumor about him being in love with said waiter.
Another conversation regarding DeSanta goes like this:
Rebel: He only likes to kill when a man is on his knees.
Marston: He likes to do a lot of things to men on their knees.
American Accents: From Texas drawls in Armadillo to Cajun in Thieves' Landing, the game covers a wide variety of these.
Anachronism Stew: In most cases, the game averts this quite well. However, there are a few oddities in the weapon selection such as a fully-automatic Mauser C96 (not available until 1932) and a Carcano rifle (which did exist, but would have been nearly impossible to find in the US/Mexico at the time)
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 antihero territory, especially in Mexico.
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.
Artistic License - Law: According to Marshall Johnson, Bill Williamson is technically in the next county thus out of his jurisdiction. In real life, a U.S. Marshal had jurisdiction across the counties of the state he worked in.
Artificial Stupidity: During bounty hunts, the bounty target's friends will simply run straight at you without even attempting to take cover, even as you gun them down one by one. Also, scare some people out in the wilderness and they will often run away on foot even though they have horses.
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.
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."
Part Bilingual Bonus, part Fridge Brilliance, the mission to get into Mexico is appropriately named "And We Shall Be Together in Paradise", a quote from Luke 23:43. That region of Mexico you just entered? It's known as Nuevo Paraiso.
The Atoner: Marston, naturally. It's in the title.
Awesome, but Impractical: Bonzo, the bull mount you unlock when you reach level 50 the first time in multiplayer. He loses virtually no speed off road (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.
The "Dark Horse" you recieve in single player if your honor gets low enough. Sure, it's got a pretty cool look going on with its scarred and wounded body, red eyes and unique facial marking. However, its speed is slower than the average horse, making it pretty frustrating to ride in missions or bounty hunts where you have to keep up a fast pace.
Awesome Yet Practical: Once you get used to the fact that the Buffalo Rifle is, for all intents and purposes, simply a higher-powered Springfield Rifle that's slightly slower on the cycling, you'll find that it's a great gun for shootouts and precision shots.
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.
An Axe to Grind: The Legends and Killers DLC pack includes the Tomahawk, which can be used as both a ranged and melee weapon.
Back Stab: You can do this with your throwing knives if you're right behind someone, but surprisingly, not your normal knife.
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.
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
John:(grabs the whiskey bottle out of his hands and drinks it) And it makes me violently angry. Shall we go look for that gun, sir?''
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!
Marshal Johnson: Simmer down, Jonah.
John: Listen to your boss, Jonah. There's a good boy! Otherwise, I'll put a hole in your hillbilly head and watch your tiny brain drain out!
Irish gets targeted by John a few times.
Irish: Who the feck 're you?
John: I'm your old friend amnesia! (pistol whips Irish) And I swear to you, if you ever forget my name or your debt to me I'll make sure you reach Heaven before these two ladies!note The two ladies are nuns.
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.
Bandito: You can kill numerous ones in Mexico once you unlock the area. You can even dress like one.
Battle in the Rain: Due to the random weather in the game, it's possible to do gang hideouts and story missions in a thunderstorm. If it happens during significant events like dueling Edgar Ross, it really adds a lot to the scene.
My game generated a thunderstorm during Marston's last stand, which pretty much pushed me to the point of tears.
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 inFAMOUS, he may be a badass, but he's still "everyone's errand boy."
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.
Betting Mini-Game: 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.
Beyond the Impossible: With Dead Eye, thrown objects will turn in mid air, under their own power, to chase targets. The end result is HOMING DYNAMITE! Remember, this is an ordinary guy in the Wild West.
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 survivorscertainly 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.
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.
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.
In the opening cutscene on the train John overhears a priest and a young women talking about the recently invented airplane. You end up hearing about this same topic again in the last conversation John ever has with his son. Jack even describes them in the same way as the priest, as "machines that can turn men into angels."
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: There are outhouses around in the towns, and you will often see people (though men only) use them, or come across a rider having a "pit stop" in the wilderness. There's is neither a way or need for the player to do this however.
In the beginning of the mission "Father Abraham" however, we see John about to take a leak before he's interrupted by two rebels pointing their guns at him. John's "what now?" look while he pulls his zipper back up is pretty funny.
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.
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.
Same with Irish, including physical abuse. He might castigate Seth for being a grave-robbing lunatic and Nigel West Dickens for being a shamelessly greedy charlatan, but Irish is the only ally in New Austin he's done more to than threaten with unpleasantries.
The Caligula: Colonel Allende, full stop. One has to wonder if Reyes is going to turn out the same way.
Call Back: During one of the first missions with Bonnie, John will tell her that she reminds him of his wife, in the way that she's "a woman in a man's world". During one of the last missions, John's wife will ask him what Bonnie's like, to which he answers "She's a bit like you I guess. She's a woman in a man's world."
Similarily, during the second to last mission John has with Marshal Leigh, John will tell him how, if he tells his son not to do anything, he'll do it anyway "just to spite him." Come one of the last missions of the game, John forbids Jack from hunting alone, to which the latter ends up doing exactly that.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Archer Fordham vanishes into thin air just before the final mission. Possibly justified. note Fordham had been treating John Marston with increased respect and cordiality over the last few missions. It's speculated that he may have disagreed with Edgar Ross' decision to have Marston killed and refused to participate.
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.
Twin Rocks, one of the gang hideouts the player can clear out, is named after the second level of Red Dead Revolver, and also resembles it in appearance.
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.
Multiplayer allows the player to ride an albino bison, bulls and a Tijuana zebra (a white donkey with zebra stripes painted on). These are some of the best mounts in the game, despite the fact that most of them are not ridden in real life.
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.
Cowboy: Naturally. MacFarlane's Ranch is filled with Working Cowboys, owned by Ranch Owner Drew MacFarlane, and run by his daughter cowgirl Bonnie MacFarlane.
One of the Stranger missions has you fight a deluded actor "gunslinger" who talks and acts like John Wayne as a Forced Tutorial about dueling.
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 Grâce: 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.
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 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.
Decade Dissonance: Played very effectively: Blackwater is significantly more modern than the other towns.
Deconstruction: Of Jack's You Killed My Father and Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Agent Ross. One would think that the ending is a little bit bittersweet since Jack got his revenge but it's undone when you realize that John's wife, one of the people John started this entire endeavor for, died a few years later, possibly due to the depression of losing him. Meanwhile Jack himself, in his search for vengeance, has adopted the lifestyle John was trying to protect him from. Many of Jack's gameplay quotes indicate his life is pretty hollow. On top of that, no one other than Jack will ever know the truth about John Marston's redemption and Ross' betrayals. Not only that, but, in the end, the act of vengeance shows that Jack became exactly the man John didn't want him to be, that is, a man like himself - and one of his quotes shows that he gave up on his dream of becoming a writer and lost his idealistic spirit.
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.
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.
Disney Villain Death: Averted with Dutch van der Linde. When you finally confront him, he gives a Breaking Speech to Marston and falls off a very large cliff. The next scene is Marston and Ross catching up with his corpse. Ross shoots him in the head - dispelling any notion that Dutch wasn't dead - and attributes it to John, saying "it looks better on paper".
The Ditz: For a wise man, Professor Harold MacDougal is a very stupid man.
Downer Ending: Some characters get happy endings (Sheriff Marshal, Seth, probably Bonnie). But on the whole, downer-tastic.
Although it is open to interpretation. Some people see Jack Marston's ultimate fate as a Downer Ending, as he falls directly into the lifestyle his father fought hard to protect him from. On the flip side, the game is also an examination of the victory of civilization over the frontier spirit, and given how badly civilization treats John Marston, one may feel that his work was to an unworthy goal. In this light, Jack's decision to follow in his father's footsteps is basically a Hope Spot for the frontier.
Duel to the Death: One of Landon Ricketts' missions has this as the result of a grumpy German accusing John of cheating.
Not to mention the final duel between Jack Marston and Edgar Ross on the riverbank in the Playable Epilogue.
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.
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, near the end of the Wild West, and the tone is appropriately melancholic. In fact, the first thing you see in the game is John (whose appearance all but screams "Old West") watching a car being unloaded from a ferry. The game proceeds to show off all the most absolutely rottenest things about the Wild West, which would seem to indicate that the Wild West ending is a good thing, except that Ross (pretty much "civilization personified" in this game, as that's his car) paves the roads to peace and civilization with blood and manipulation.
Establishing Character Moment: John, Ross and Fordham all subtly gets this in the opening cinematic. Ross rudely pushes a paper boy out the way, Fordham checks out some women they pass by, and John refuses Ross to touch him.
Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Thoroughly averted. While only minor characters have truly horrible teeth in various states of disrepair, main characters, John included, almost all have realistically not-straightened, and even yellowed teeth. This varies from character to character, and speaks volumes of personal habits, lifestyle, income and upbringing. Example: John Marston himself. He was a poor orphan who became an outlaw, drinks and smokes, and obviously never had access to more than a toothbrush. While not visually unappealing, his teeth are appropriately yellowed and uneven, and there may even be a slight gap between two of them.
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) plus a married Scottish man accused of impregnating his nanny and then kicking her out without a dime (though it turns out the woman was lying and in fact never worked for him). Not the most evil characters in the game by far, but still.
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 independant woman).
Edgar Ross looks a lot like an older Jack Swift.
Seth is basically a Wild West human version of Gollum.
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.
For Science!: Nigel West Dickens, and in the later game Professor Harold MacDougal, proclaim to be men of science.
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.
Arguably so with Irish, who keeps his gun holstered directly in the front of his pants. In the epilogue it's revealed that he accidentally shot himself.
Alot of DeSanta's lines during "Cowards Die Many Times" hints at the impending betrayal, such as telling John "It's been a busy time for you in Mexico" (knowing he's been helping both sides), and when John asks why Williamson and Escuella are in the church, DeSanta replies that it's "a good place to judge a man."
Done when Ross gives John the High Power Pistol by aiming it at him. Ross later kills John by shooting him.
Two of Dutch's final lines foreshadows John's eventual fate: "When I'm gone... they'll just find another monster." and "Our time has passed, John."
Fragile Speedster: Your horse. Average breeds can outrun any predator you are pursued by while superior breeds are faster than others. Letting it take a single swipe from a bear or cougar, or even a few nibbles from a wolf however will send it, and you, tumbling to its doom. For example: the American Standardbred is the fastest breed in the game and takes damage like a balloon to a needle.
Unfortunately, certain areas in the game have glitches that will kill your horse instantly with no possible threats around it.
Full Boar Action: The wild boars in the game have a nasty habit of knocking you down whenever they feel like it. Whenever you get back up, they rush back in to repeat the process.
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 PS3 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 singlehandedly 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.
Know the pardon slips? The ones you collect that'll clear your bounties after one of your many crime sprees? Well, at the end, none of these pardon slips will save John (you) from getting mowed down by the US soldiers and the FBI agents including Ross.
And finally, just for good measure, when John finally gets his family back and they return to their home on the farm, John will frequently mention the money problems they're having now, money problems which motivate a few of the farm's missions, even as John has well over ten grand in his inventory.
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.
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 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.
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. For the complete rundown, go here.
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: .
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.
Uncle, despite his supposed laziness and being a very frequent target of John for it, ultimately gives his life to help protect the Marstons.
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.
Also, you never see baby or juvenile animals in the entire game, only adult ones.
Horse of a Different Color: In multiplayer, 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.
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.
With an average or high honor, John will also politely greet people. With a low honor however, he will shout insults.
Hunter Trapper: Lots of coyote pelts to gather and sell. Kill one of everything to get an achievement. Depending on how much time you spend at it, hunting for pelts can be one of the most profitable endeavors in the game.
Hypocrite: A random example, but Jack Marston deserves a mention if you play as him with low honor. Eventually you may encounter a man that challenges you to a duel, reason being you killed his father. As a response Jack sneers at this and proceeds to make fun of the guy, in the words of "Yeah, I killed your father. He cried like a girl." Wow.
Edgar Ross, that's for sure. He berates John for killing people when he was the one who told him to do so on his journey.
I Banged Your Mom: More like "I Banged Your Wife." Dutch constantly reminds John that his wife used to be the gang's whore.
Idle Animation: Leaving John standing still will result in him removing his hat to wipe some sweat from his forehead, swat a fly or scratch his leg. On a walking horse he'll adjust his seat, straighten his neck and pet the horse.
I Love the Dead: It's implied that Seth does a little more than grave robbing. Especially evident in the Undead Nightmare DLC where he has a full on party, complete with dancing, with a group of zombies.
John Marston: I've met lots of fucked up people in my life, Seth. But you... You're somethin' special.
I'm a Humanitarian: In the "American Appetites" quest chain. As well as a lone cannibal that can be randomly encountered.
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.
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.
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.
In-Game TV: the player can watch old-time cartoons (complete with dialogue cards and period music) in projection rooms.
Instant Death Bullet: Enemies sometimes die from a single shot depending on weapon and where they are shot. More powerful weapons against some of the weaker enemies frequently one shot the target. Shotguns and rifles also have a tendency to one shot at least weaker enemies. Headshots of course are usually fatal for the Mooks.
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 a newspaper advertisement which appears to be offering... advice... on this sort of thing.
Iron Butt Monkey: The stranger in the black hat viewing the scenery between the ranch and Armadillo. Normally you are prompted to talk him, but instead of doing so, you can push him off the cliff. Since this counts as a failure in completing a Stranger mission, you can come back to the same spot and push him over every single time; on rare occasions will he survive the fall and run all the way up the trail to where you are, seeking revenge.
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
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 just like Allende before him.
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?"
Edgar Ross: "How does it feel to kill hundreds of innocent men in cold blood?"
John Marston: "You're a coward."
Edgar Ross: "And you're a murderer."
John Marston: "I want my family."
Edgar Ross: "I'm sure all the men you murdered wanted their families too."
Then again this is averted seeing as it's basically Edgar Ross' fault that John has to kill all the people he does throughout the course of the game.
Karma Houdini: Ross ultimately kills John Marston because he considers him to be one of these, and depending on how you look at it may end up as one himself. Sure, Jack hunts him down and kills him, but he'll be remembered by history as a hero; John and Jack will be regarded as savage, uncivilized outlaws.
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.
John Marston himself definitely qualifies as one of these. He talks and even occasionally acts like an Antihero, 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.
Land In The Saddle: If you aim just right, you can land on your horse from a second story jump.
Large Ham: It'd be easier to list non-hams here, but special mention goes to West Dickens, Reyes, MacDougal, and Nastas.
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.
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.
Literary Agent Hypothesis: Some speculate that the story is the story Jack writes about his father, as seen in the WMG section.
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.
Love Makes You Dumb: Luisa. Oh, Luisa...Charging three armed men with a knife? "Que dejen a mi hombre!" What were you thinking?
Or shooting anything with the Blunderbus, from close enough range.
Major Injury Underreaction: The cannibal you eventually encounter in "American Appetites", who, despite having a broken leg, still proceeds to eat one of his victims unless you shoot him. It's either that or he's a seriously creepy version of The Determinator.
MacGuffin: In a slightly darker example, your family.
Manipulative Bastard: Edgar Ross.Turns out he only sends Marston out to kill his old gang members so that he can kill him when he's done so. What's worse is he even lets Marston go back to live with his family for a little while, giving them (and the player) a false "happy ending" feeling, before sending the army in to slaughter them all.
Not to mention, Ross might have sent Marston on the mission to begin with believing he'd end up killed (sending one man to take on an active and dangerous outlaw with an army of his own?), but had to keep playing along when he returned alive.
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.
Meaningful Name: Jack Marston, because Jack is a nickname for John, is really just named after his father, foreshadowing his fate of becoming an outlaw just like John.
A Million is a Statistic: Check your stats towards the end of the game, chances are you will have killed a good more than 2,000 people, regardless how straight you've tried to go. There are only two on screen-deaths in the entire game played out to be sad however, Dutch's and John's.
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.
More Dakka: The Gatling Guns and some of the late game weapons have larger ammo magazines.
Mugging the Monster: 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
Made more obvious when you realize that the book Jack was reading earlier was the story of Red Dead Revolver.
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.
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. Help a man search for treasure he's been after for 10 years? There isn't any. The list goes on.
No Hero Discount: Subverted, once your fame is high enough, shops will sell stuff to you at half price.
No Holds Barred Beat Down: 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.
Noisy Nature: Wolves, coyotes, cougars and other animals always announce their presence in the vicinity by barking, howling or roaring.
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.
One-Gender Race: All the elk in the game are male, judging by the fact that all the elk in this game have antlers and that only male elk have antlers. Averted with all the other animals though, even the deer.
One-Hit Kill: Run up to someone with your gun out and fire, you'll shove your barrel into them and fire an Instant Death Bullet - complete with a cinematic camera angle for the animation. If you're too close to them, you'll instead Pistol Whip and knock them down.
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. Several gang hideouts might count, such as Tumbleweed, though simply entering it starts a mini-quest where you must kill everyone there.
Papa Wolf: Nothing will prevent John from getting his family back. Later on, he's willing to take on a grizzly to save Jack.
Also useful in Thieves' Landing if you have full honor: the natives won't try to kill you outright. Both of these are funny as people will still recognize him despite his karma being safe (when his fame is at the point that everyone greets him.)
Same with the all the outlaw outfits you can unlock and wear to blend in with a bounty target's gang. Again, with high enough fame, they will address John by name, yet they don't mind him walking about within their turf as long as he's wearing their gang's clothing.
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.
Police Are Useless: In the stranger's task "American Appetites", John encounter three people in total, all by the sheriff's office who asks him to find a relative of theirs that went missing, quite close to the town as well, all three of them in tears or panicking because the police won't help them.
One random encounter features an outlaw being chased by two sheriffs, firing blindly at him, requiring John to take him down, usually with one shot only. Taken even further in West Elizabeth, where shooting the outlaw will result in the sheriffs telling you they spent weeks chasing him.
If you become Wanted, as long as you have a horse, it's very easy to escape the police, and after losing your wanted level, you can just stroll right back into town and greet some of the policemen that were just chasing you.
John seem somewhat under this impression himself, judging by his attitude towards Marshal Johnson when he hears him explain his slight apathy to his job. Although, Johnson averts this later, showing himself a very capable sheriff who doesn't hesitate to risk his life for the sake of helping people, and can hold his own just fine against a dozen of enemies.
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 spectre 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.
Reality Ensues: While the whole game is rather realistic, John's Last Stand counts. An unarmed and oblivious Uncle is killed, and John only manages to kill around 3 or 4 people when he comes out the barn door. The best to a Final Speech he got was a cough and a fall to the ground.
The whole plot thread with Bill Williamson might count too. Considering that Bill left Marston for dead twice and frequently insulted him whenever they did cross paths, it's no surprise that Bill ran away from John for so long considering how many people John killed just to try to get to him. As a bonus, Card-Carrying Villain Colonel Allende sells out Bill the moment they're both in trouble and together.
John's reunion with his family. It's not your standard grand reunion with teary hugs and love declarations, instead Abigail's initial reaction is to scold John for all the time he took, before they discuss what happens to them now and if things can get better for them. Also, when Jack appears, John gives him a somewhat awkward hug, hinting at their strained relationship.
Real Men Get Shot: John is scarred all to hell. On his face. It makes him no less sexy.
Reckless Gun Usage: 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.
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 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 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.
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 duelling, 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.
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!
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.
Schmuck 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 multiplayer, 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. Hilariously, if you whistle after he runs off with your horse, it will throw him off and come back.
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.
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 recognise 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.
Smug Snake: Agents Fordham and Ross are both irritatingly condecending 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?
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.
And it takes many, many things from Grand Theft Auto IV, enough to make it feel like it's an expansion of that game (albeit set inside a San Andreas style countryside.)
Spoiler Title: The mission titles that, instead of quoting the Bible or other writings literally describes what the mission will be about. These are "The Burning.", "Hanging Bonnie McFarlane.", "The Great Mexican Train Robbery" and "Captain DeSanta's Downfall".
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.
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. Also, coyotes, wolves and even bobcats will attack you, when all of these animals avoid humans in real life.
Take That: "Hey Marston, I only robbed a bank, BUT YOU KILLED PEOPLE!"
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.
True Companions: Dutch's original gang was this. John, Javier, and Bill considered each other brothers, while Dutch was a father figure to all of them. Them working as a sort of family unit made them more effective. This fell apart once Dutch went insane.
Tutorial Failure: While they're not really all that bad, some of the tutorials feel like they were introduced too late into the game. Poker and dueling are only tutorialized during a story mission after you unlock Mexico despite the fact that you've likely participated in both quite a few times if you've done any exploration or side missions. Dueling is especially noteworthy since its story tutorial is only introduced after the third and final level of Dead Eye is acquired and due to the fact that there are many more opportunities for duels than poker games. Also, a late game mission in which you're possibly attacked by a cougar also feels inexplicably late, as you've likely run into (and potentially been killed by) some cougars before then if you've done some hunting. This all is mitigated by the fact that textual tutorials can pop up while participating in those activities outside of the story, but then it's easy for that to slide into Stop Helping Me! territory as they also never really go away for good (with the tutorial prompt for cheating at Poker being a notable example).
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.
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.
The Unintelligible: Some of the Mexican characters can verge into this, due to their heavy accents and liberal mixing of Spanish and English.
Universal Driver's License: Averted. While John is quite happy to jump onto any horse drawn vehicle, the few automobiles in the game are undrivable. John likely wouldn't know how if he tried.
Unrequited Love: In one of the final missions, "Old Friends, New Problems", Bonnie is strongly suggested to have had romantic feelings for 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).
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 peasents 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.