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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
The Mentalist
New WMGs at the bottom, please.

Red John is actually a Patrick Jane personality
There has been a lot of focus on how they are very similar. And then the fearful symmetry. And in the season 1 end, the sheriff dies making a "shuuush" gesture, as if telling Patrick "I'm keeping your little secret...".

He suffers MPD and he is Red John. He uses a lot of people to dissimulate this.
  • Jossed. In the season 2 finale, Jane is tied to a chair and about to be killed by some Red John "fanboys". However, Red John himself appears, kills them, and has a brief conversation with Patrick before leaving him there . Still, it would be an interesting twist.
    • Obviously, that's not the real Red John, but one of his accomplices. He uses them to lie to himself/his other personality
  • I've just noticed that Channel Five (In the UK) has just started advertising for Season 3. They use clips of the Season 2 finale with a voiceover of Kristina Frye speaking lines from the finale. As the clip focuses on Jane tied to the chair the following words flash on the screen one by one: Has he lost his mind. Now sure it could just be advertising or it could be a little bit more support for this WMG.
    • False. Red John and Jane are two different people, and Red John is dead now thanks to Jane.
      • Unless "you win some, you lose some" was his accomplice's way of acknowledging that neither the Red John nor the Patrick Jane personality would allow him to live after this screw-up.
  • PJ and RJ are very similar initials. All you do is add one more stroke of the pencil. As are Pat Jane (two girls' names) and Red John (a masculine pseudonym a child might think is cool).
  • According to Red John's ex-lover, he has short, straight hair. Jane doesn't.
  • It could be that Patrick Jane as we know him is a Red John personality that was created by his subconscious disgust of who he is, and wanted to have a relatively normal life. Red John was unaware of Patrick's existence until his condemnation of Red John... now he knows, and both sides of himself are fighting each other. A part of Red John wants to be caught, and he eventually will be but not before enjoying the thrill of it all as much as he can. What better adversary can you have but yourself?
  • Alternate suggestion to this WMG: Patrick Jane really is Red John but his fateful public psychoanalysis of the serial killer came across as hypocritical to one of his pawns, which led to Jane's wife and daughter being killed by said pawn to punish Jane/Red John.
  • All Jossed. Bruno Heller explicitly says Patrick Jane is NOT Red John.

Red John is Kristina Frye
Or at least, I for one really really hope so, because otherwise this show has a major hole in it; Jane, like Reality, repeatedly denies that there is any such thing as a psychic. If Kristina Frye is, within the fictional world, genuinely psychic, then the show has contradicted its previous line; but if she is faking it (perhaps somehow fooling herself into the bargain), then she is quite capable of lying to Patrick about it - and has also demonstrated a gift for manipulating people. As per the Fearful Symmetry description above, she could be regarded as a reflection of Jane.
  • Under this WMG, she manipulated him into dating her at the end of season 2 in order that he would form an attachment to her, enabling her to torment him further by disappearing in the finale.
  • I had a similar thought and hope it turns out to be true as well. But I also had the thought that it might be a double twist. Kristina Frye is just another one of Red John's acolytes and Patrick Jane is Red John. That was Kristina that saved Jane at the end of Season 2 perhaps using one of those voice distorter things to disguise her identity.
  • Kristina Frye is Red John. Why? She told Jane in Season 1 that his daughter never woke up, and died peacefully. She can't be genuinely psychic because Jane has said over and over again that it's just good reading of people. But there's no way Kristina could have known about Jane's daughter by reading him - she had to have known.
    • ...or she's bluffing. If no one but the killer could know that, who's going to contradict her? And if anyone besides the killer could know that, like the police, then there are dozens of ways the knowledge could leak out. It's not a strict choice between "she's the killer" and "she really is psychic".
    • I'd be inclined to assume it was a lie. She could have easily guessed that that was eating at him, because how could you lose a child and not wonder if they were afraid? It was obvious which answer he would be hoping for, and she told him exactly what he desperately wanted to hear. 'Psychics' work as much because their messages are compelling as because they're convincing - making people want to believe you gets around a lot of skepticism.
  • The part about Jane's daughter might be a kind lie and Kristina's other 'psychic' messages could be from cold reading, which she might be doing subconsciously, genuinely believing herself to be psychic - apart from the conversation with the waiter on her date with Jane. That was so specific that it can only mean either (a) Kristina is genuinely in contact with the dead or (b) Kristina staged the whole thing. Assuming for a second that the writers haven't decided to make real psychic powers exist in canon and Kristina staged it - why would she do that? If you're a con artist on a date with someone you know really hates fake psychics, it seems like an odd moment to try and convince him you're the real thing... all it seems to achieve, in fact, is introducing the phrase 'roll tide' so that Red John can say it later to imply he's kidnapped Kristina. Which seems kind of convenient.
  • I really, really want Kristina Fry to be Red John, mainly because after two episodes I'm liking her more than Lisbon of the two 'Jane' ships and I'm not very happy about it (and the scene in the restaurant when her and Jane were on a date was just too dense for the likes of someone with her intellect. It was obviously meant to mean something).
  • Also, for the person that said they thought Jane was Red John: Isn't it creepy that Red John's smiley face with the sleepy eyes looks a lot like Jane? Most of the time anyway. The one on his bedroom wall, for example, did, but there's a lot of times where the face changes into a normal smiley. To off put us maybe? I hope he isn't Red John, though. I really wouldn't be able to watch the series again.
    • False. Red John was just some nameless guy, who's now dead at Jane's hands.
      • I see your False and raise you a Jossed.

All wrong. Red John is actually the forensics guy.
The voice tone of Red John in the last episode of season 2 is the same as the forensics guy. The creepy one whom Jane says enjoys his work far too much. (This troper is EXTREMELY good at voice tone and frequency recognition.) It's most obvious between the Forensic's guy comment on "Hurry it up, so my team can come in" and Red John saying the word "me" towards the end of the episode. There's a certain tonal constant between Team and Me which matches.
  • Actually, that forensics guy, Brett Patridge, appears in the Pilot as well. That being the case, the writers can avoid Ass Pull since they can just say, "Hey, we already give it to you in the first episode!".
  • Both cases that Brett Partridge worked on were cases dealing with Red John Imitators. Makes sense, seeing as Red John hates cheap imitation.
    • False. He was someone we never met before.
      • Except he wasn't.
  • And now he's one of the 7 on Jane's list who is definitely Red John.
    • False. Brett Partridge was killed by the real Red John in Desert Rose, first episode of the sixth season.
    • We'll see...

Red John someone we've never met before, and never will meet until the last episode.
By either lack of creativity, fear by the producers that if it actually was one of the characters we've met, or fear by the producers that if they decide on someone being Red John early on, and the actor declines to work for them for the final episode, no one who actually controls the plot or creation of the series actually has someone pegged out as Red John. And when he is revealed, it will be an actor that has never been shown on a single episode of the Mentalist (or maybe the actor from the Season 2 finale, but not necessarily since he was more covered than an Eskimo) before the series finale.
  • Partially true. Red John was someone we'd never met before, and didn't meet until the last episode of Season Three. And Jane shot him.
    • And it wasn't him after all.
  • They have also forgotten to include room in the present character's backstory for them to be Red John.

Psychic abilities exist in-story.
So Jane himself wasn't one; it does not logically follow therefore that none exist. Also, it's either that or some really convoluted explanation for Kristina.

Or Jane really is psychic but is in denial, and uses his considerable intellect to explain his own leaps of intuition to himself.

...and when Occam's Razor postulates that psychic abilities exist, and the main character has repeatedly denied it, you've got one twisted-up show.
  • Except that Occam's Razor doesn't postulate that psychic abilities exist, even in-universe. For psychic abilities to exist, you would have to postulate an entirely unknown mechanism for the transfer of information. That is more complicated than Jane abilities—even Kristina Frye's abilities—to be done to close observational talents and wide-ranging knowledge.
    • I think the above troper meant to say Occam's Razor postulates psychic abilities don't exist.

The only difference is that Jane doesn't watch TV, while Shawn does.
  • Jane would probably hate the show, anyway, as it makes light of the same behavior that got his wife and child killed when he did it.

Red John is a duck.

Red John is the waiter.
  • The waiter is big enough to be a guard in law enforcement, and so sociopathic that Jane doesn't even get a bad vibe from him. For once, the storytellers are being honest with us.

Something significant happened relating to Red John 8 years prior to Season 2.
At that time:
  • Red John makes the mistake of killing Carter Peake.
  • Minelli takes over as head of the CBI.
  • Sam Bosco kills someone, a criminal who could not be arrested, and Lisbon helps him cover it up. My guess, these events are connected.
    • I second with Minelli—though his correct title is Special Agent in Charge, just below the CBI Director—he definitely has his hand in the Red John conspiracy. In "Red Queen", Hightower reveals to Jane that Minelli, her predecessor, has told her to beware of Red John's MOLES in the CBI. When did Minelli resign? When Rebecca, Bosco's secretary and Red John's mole, kills Bosco and his unit.

CBI Director Gale Bertram is, or may be related to, Red John.
In the aftermath of Hightower affair in "Red Queen", he mentions a poem that's written by William Blake. The scary part? William Blake wrote Tyger, Tyger—the poem that Red John recites in "Red Sky in the Morning".
  • revealed as a Red Herring as of the end of Season Three. Or is it?
    • In later seasons, Bertram working with Homeland Securtiy to catch Lorelei seems a little out of place... and in at least one scene, the lead Homeland Security agent and Bertram speak alone in his office, and the tone of the meeting is oddly sinister. It could easily be a hint that Bertram is Red John or is working for him, and wants to catch Lorelei to stop her from being a liability. And in the season finale, Bertram is one of the seven people Jane has narrowed down to be Red John suspects.

Red John is Jane's brother.
Not much is known about Jane's past, other than he worked at a carnival with his dad. Red John and Jane could have been separated at birth, with Red John living with their mother. Jane doesn't talk about his past, and no mention of his mother is ever made. It's pointed out many times that Jane and Red John are alike, and it's possible Jane knows Red John is his brother and chooses not to share this with the team.
  • Alternatively, Red John is Jane's dad and has just aged really well.

Jane is really Willy Wonka.
No, not just The Wonka. The WONKA. Watch Gene Wilder's Wonka and Jane back to back and say that they're not the same person. Curly blond hair, fondness for waistcoats, sadistic glee in messing with people's heads, and they speak with almost the same inflection in their voices. Especially when they're really messing with people and pretending to be innocent.

Patrick Jane suffered a psychotic break after his family died, and we're just watching his insane delusions.
The entire series is just Patrick Jane in a psych-ward regaling the doctor with his fantasy adventures. Which explains why his insane gambits always work, his team seems to like him even though he's a Jerk Ass who loves playing mind games, and every episode has 'red' or a synonym in the title (as he's the centre of his own universe, his obsession would be the centre and therefore every episode would be named after his obsession.

The person seen in the season 3 finale was not Red John, but a Red John accomplice fed information by the real deal.
Come on. We have Red John, who is clearly brilliant and a mastermind, and he doesn't see a gun in Patrick's coat? With the VERY obvious way Patrick is holding his hands in his pockets? Even IF we take into account Didn't See That Coming or Spanner in the Works? No. This is a lackey given crucial information so Red John can see how Patrick reacts. Even if the next season claims otherwise, this troper fully expects a retcon. Red John is too smart to be taken out like that.
  • That is unless Red John wanted to be killed.
    • Let's say he's yet another accomplice; he knows Red John will kill him for failing to eliminate Hightower. Whether the real Red John is Jane himself, La Roche, Bertram, Malcom McDowell or some Ass Pull new actor, he knows he's gonna die, and just like the failed assassin, he makes it happen.
    • One thing this has going for it is that one of Red John's accomplices commited suicide for him earlier in that very same episode. Its feasible he sent someone to their willing death.
    • Proven. It wasn't Red John.

At the end of the series, Patrick Jane will find God.
And as per his usual manner, will take thing just a little too far, becoming The FundaMentalist.

Patrick Jane really did kill Red John.
Or at least, he had when the season 3 finale was written, and a major arc of season 4 would have been Jane, stripped of his shield of revenge, actually having to grieve and move on from Angela and Charlotte's death. But then the higher-ups had a panic attack, believing that if Red John was dead, people would stop watching the show, and forced the writers to make it that Jane killed an accomplice, not Red John himself.
  • Jossed, the blind woman denies its him.

Red John Has Never Killed Anyone Him/Herself
Think about it. He has a known MO for using pawns and moles to kill all the people he needs. I don't think he gets his thrills from the killing of people. I think he gets them Charlie Manson-style, he gets them from having other people do his bidding. So that guy from the end of season three really did kill Jane's Family, but as Red John doesn't get his hands personally dirty he didn't actually kill Jane's family. There's no concrete proof that Red John has actually ever killed anyone himself. All the onscreen killings are done by moles, and all the scenes stumbled onto by Jane and company simply fit the description of the profile the police have on Red John. The one person that Red John could easily kill (and assuming you don't think it conflicts with the other WMGs here) is Kristina Frye. He doesn't. What does he do? He messes with her mind. The hallmark of a masterfully manipulative bastard.

Red John is a high-ranking cop.
Red John has unrestricted access to the CBI's computer networks, evidence logs, and premises. He has a thorough working knowledge of police forensics techniques. And, of the members of his "network" revealed so far, every one is in some way involved in law enforcement (a sheriff, a CBI civilian employee, an EMT, an FBI agent), which makes it seem unlikely that they were successfully approached and recruited into a covert serial killing organization by a civilian. Conclusion: Red John is CBI, and of high enough rank that he has full access to all of their evidence and personnel files, as well as the files of other police agencies in the California area.
  • Gail Bertram, the head of CBI, is on Jane's suspect list at the end of season 5, probably for those very reasons.

Rigsby is Red John.
If only because everyone that Grace dates is evil, and at least one of them was working for Red John. It only makes sense that the most UST is towards the main villain.

Red John is Jane
From a parallel universe; specifically one of the alternate universes from Fringe.

Red John is Walter Mashburn
Mashburn claims to have many friends in law enforcement and politics. Red John's acolytes have made similar claims. Mashburn is able to deduce that Jane is a "psychic charlatan" "by his look", and again, Jane has been told that Red John is as adept as he is at reading people. Mashburn even ends the episode by saying that the next time they meet, maybe he'll be the killer. Plus, in the first season, Jared Renfrew wrote in blood "He is Ma" before the blood trails off. He is Mashburn, perhaps? Plus, Mashburn tells us he's had many wives, a term known to be used by Red John for the women he's killed.

There is more than one Red John.
In keeping with the various ideas, it's not impossible that two or more would mesh. Look at all the various theories and then see the overlaps. Basically the original Red John had a specific agenda, but was willing to look at anyone who appeared to follow his(her?) ideas, just as long as any follower kept true to Red John's own vision. The reason for followers? It would prove easier to throw the CBI, and in particular Patrick Jane, off the RJ trail; more than one perpetrator means more than one set of details, the very thing Patrick fixates on, so the multiplicity keeps throwing him off. At the same time, Red John does have a very specific agenda, he does not approve of mere copycats, hence his killing off of the wannabes in "Red Sky in the Morning". Still, he might recognize at least one follower who makes it their life's work to follow RJ's specific dark agenda to the letter, and to that one, and only that one, Red John entrusts his mission. All of the various ideas above would have enough in common that two of them could come together, see the bloody goal they have in common, and bond their purpose in this. It may be that it actually was THE Red John that Patrick killed in "Strawberries & Cream", but he sacrificed himself knowing his disciple would carry on the RJ dark dream, and thus frustrate Patrick even in death; the simple fact that Red John's mission continues unabated counts for a great deal.
  • Definitely plausible after season 6's "Fire and Brimstone", where it turns out that several Red John suspects have the tattoo RJ supposedly has.

There is no Red John.
Taking the guess about Red John never having actually killed someone personally a step further. The Red John case is a Stand Alone Complex. All Red John killings are the work of copycats and "followers" who are following the whims of a man who doesn't exist and never really existed to begin with.
  • There is no information of who or what Red John is. We don't know why, how or who, Red John kills. We have no idea of his motivations other than being evil once in a while (if and when it serves the writers). There's is no mentioning or explanation of Red John's skill set, back story, education or psychological profile. We have never seen any of this "intel" that the police, FBI or Jane himself has gathered on Red John. No accomplice has ever revealed anything that could point in any direction. A Cobra-like "New World Order" (Stallone's not G.I. Joe's) would be a somewhat cool twist. After 5 years of building nothing it's too late for anything else, anyway.

Jane will start using drugs.
Jane obviously enjoyed talking with his hallucinated daughter and was sad when she left because the hallucinogen wore off. At the end of "Devil's Cherry", he's shown using a tea infuser similar to the one containing the toxic belladonna leaves from the beginning of the episode.

Red John is Joe Carroll.
Based on what is known about The Following, that show's antagonist seems very similar to Red John - highly murderous, has attracted a large cult of new killers that's growing exponentially, Manson-style. The ratings for The Mentalist have been plunging to new lows, so CBS may end up canceling it after the current season concludes in spring 2013. It's likely that Heller et al. won't be able to wrap up the Red John storyline properly, so they whispered the details in the ears of Kevin Williamson so he can continue the story himself, on a different network.

Bret Stiles is Red John.
Given the new information that Jane has met Red John, this seems like the most logical choice. Stiles has shown an incredible ability to influence people. He's the leader of what is (more or less) a cult and has hundreds of followers. We've seen the steps he's taken in the past to weed out unloyalty in his upper echelons - not unlike how Red John offs his accomplices once they're no longer useful. Taking into account Lorelei's information that she's surprised Jane and Red John didn't become friends the moment they shook hands still works, as Stiles was kind of opposed to Jane in their early encounters, and Jane didn't like him much. Over their multiple dealings with each other, Jane has come to at least respect Stiles's opinion/talents enough to ask for advice on how to break Lorelei out of jail. Thus, they weren't friends at first, but now are, which still meets the definition of Lorelei's message. It would also make Stiles's appearance at the beginning of the episode have a lot more symbolic meaning. From a more meta perspective, he's also an important recurring character, and it would be an Ass Pull to use some random one-off villain from an earlier episode. Unless the writers know we'll think that, and want to surprise us.
  • As of the season 5 finale, Bret Stiles is indeed one of the names that Jane has narrowed down to possibly be Red John.

The entire series is...not a dream, but—
We will find out in the end that it is all a speculation had by Jane in the past when he is asked about Red John for the first time, and reconsidering his taunt, even complimenting the killer on how wily he is in a limited way. He then joins CBI quietly, taking deliberate steps to avoid letting Red John know he has a worthy opponent. He had already done cold readings of the CBI team, so he took what might happen from this.

Walter Mashburn will return
And he'll back Team Lisbon against Tommy Volker.

The writer's staff hates each other
The writers of season 2 wanted Red John to be a fan of William Blake. But the present writers has not mentioned this ever again or any other thing Red John has ever been accused of doing.
  • Unlikely, given it's 80% the same writers, and the showrunner is the same as he always was.
  • And finally Jossed in that William Blake was only ever was left out of picture for two seasons. The trait probably just wasn't relevant inbetween it's first explaination in the season three finale and the reiteration and increased focus following the season six premiere.

Agent Kirkland is Red John.
In "Behind The Red Curtain", Kirkland asks Jason Lennon if he recognizes him, then kills him, telling him he is doing him a favor by doing so. Given Jason Lennon's link to Red John, the only reason Kirkland would ask that is if he were Red John.
  • Not only that, his voice sounds a lot like Red John's when we've heard it, and he had his subordinates break into Jane's place to copy his Red John evidence. He's met Jane, so they likely shook hands (as Lorelei said Red John had done) and he's with Homeland Security, so it makes sense he would have ties with the FBI, as Jane suspected. It seems like he's the most probable. He's on Jane's suspect list too.

Red John's final assault on Jane will involve Lisbon.
The way I see it, once everything comes to a head next season, Red John and Jane will start gambiting each other ala Death Note, each spinning dozens of ploys to catch the other. In the end, Lisbon is the key. Lisbon is the one person, the ONLY other person, that Jane trusts fully. He trusts the other team members but not in the same way. He trusts that Lisbon is willing to go all the way with helping him catch Red John, as revealed by him showing her the video that Red John left for him, as well as letting her know the list of seven suspects. Red John knows this. He knows that Lisbon is Jane's best friend and possible love interest. Getting to Lisbon will be the final act of Red John's gambit, when he knows that Jane is close enough to take him out. However, Lisbon is the Action Girl for a reason, and she may be the key to upending whatever plans Red John has for Jane. Or, Jane may know that involving Lisbon is his best chance for actually stopping Red John, as he's learned he can't do it by himself.
  • Possibly confirmed in Desert Rose, the first episode of the sixth season, where Red John kidnaps and or kills her.

Red John is not a person.
Red John as an individual never existed, or at least died. Instead we deal with a vast cult composed of serial killers.

NONE of the seven men is Red John.
But they are all accomplices of his. Jane isn't wrong to sense that these individuals have the capacity to be Red John. When one of the men that was on Jane's list is killed by Red John, he says "Tyger, Tyger..." aka the code for signifying a connection to Red John. This means that, while Jane was wrong about him actually being Red John, he was right to sense the possibility there. All of the people Jane has mentioned will turn out the same way, and Jane will eventually realize that there is an eighth person who may be pulling the strings of these other men.
  • Possibly supported by the fact that Betram and two of the other suspects were all in a room together, and all spoke as if they were in on the same plan. They may all be under orders from Red John to watch Jane and/or complete some other task.

McAllister is Red John
Think about it, man. As a head writer, you can't plan too far ahead. Only two suspects of the seven appear in Season 1: Partridge and McAllister. Now that Partridge is out, only McAllister remains.
  • Confirmed!

Partridge is Faking the Dead.
And he's the one that made the call to Patrick and painted the blood smiley on Lisbon's face. The whole point is him fooling Patrick into looking at everyone else on the list first.

In the end, Red John will try to force Jane to kill Lisbon again
Red John knows Jane is desperate to kill him, and in the end, he will force Jane into a position where Jane will have to go through Lisbon in order to exact his revenge.

Lisbon is a witch.

Jane is a real psychic but is rejecting his powers.
If you think about it, there's always the possibility that psychics in the Mentalist-verse really DO exist, and Jane IS one of them. When his father taught him to hit marks on people, Jane was a natural at it because he was a real psychic, and therefore could read EVERYBODY. When Red John killed his family, Jane's shame caused him to reject his powers and slag off all psychics. So, when he solves a crime, he really IS using his psychic powers to read people's minds and uses his elaborate set-ups and deductions to mask his abilities. This troper is aware that this theory is a little weak, but...

Kristina Frye was wrong about Jane's daughter.
In the end of the episode "Seeing Red", Kristina Frye tells Jane that his daughter never woke up from Red John's murder of her. Patrick Jane gets indignant and angry and sad not because she was right, but because she was WRONG. Red John almost never breaks his MO when he can help it, and wouldn't even spare a little girl from waking up and suffering her horrible death. Patrick's tears at the end are him re-living him finding her body.

Volker's coming back.
To take revenge on the team.

Marcus Pike is the real Red John.
He is Mar.
Meerkat ManorWMG/Live-Action TVMerlin

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