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    Season 1 
Cohle is a killer.
Albeit likely with an entirely different motive from the original murderer. To support;

  • Right away, Cohle applies a grandiosity to the Dora Lange case, implying a level of understanding to the iconic posing, possibly as a result of projection. At other times, he also waxes philosophic and claims to have often thought he was "mainlining the secret truth of the universe." This hints more than a little at the mentality of a visionary serial killer.
  • Cohle later shares with Hart his belief that mankind is a mistake of Nature and should not exist and that the responsible thing for humanity to do as a species is willfully carry out its own extinction.
  • In the course of talking about his daughter's accident and subsequent death, Cohle expresses his belief that she died in the best possible way; peacefully in sleep with the innocence of a child. He also says her death saved him from the "sin of being a father."
  • When he discusses looking over other cases for connections to the Lange murder, he claims to see acceptance in the faces of the victims, opining that they realized in their final moments that they were escaping their "locked rooms" and the dream that is life.

And so here we can see that the death of Cohle's daughter, along with years of copious drug use that has altered the makeup of his brain and the aggressively bleak and pessimistic view of the world he possesses serve to make him a potential killer-in-the-making, a convert about to "get religion" and start about his work of freeing the human race from its own sad existence.

Two more Mythos-based theories.

Okay, the above seems all but explicitly Jossed at this point (anything's possible yet, though), so here's a couple random off-the-wall theories before the finale from the OP;

1.) Rust is an extended member of the Tuttle family. I attribute this mainly to his weird upbringing; possibly his father was also a member who later went rogue, or his mother was and she gave Rust up to his father in the hopes of sparing him a life "in Carcosa." This revelation will prompt a Heroic BSoD followed shortly by willful Cessation of Existence (Hey, it worked for Arthur Jermyn!).

2.) The Tuttles are some equivalent of the Innsmouth folk. As Errol Childress aka "The Lawnmower Man" aka "The Green-Eared Spaghetti Monster" soliloquizes, his family's been around "a whole long time." He's not just talking a couple centuries, he means a looong time. Eons long. 'Out-of-the-primordial-swamps-of-Pangaea' long. I've seen something like this idea elsewhere and while there's not much hard evidence, the following does allow one to let their mind go to strange places;

  • The Ledoux family is an illegitimate branch of the Tuttle family. Jimmy Ledoux, a distant relation of the meth cooks Rust and Marty took care of in '95, recalls how his father called them "not white enough to be white trash." Extending this to the rest, perhaps this sprawling clan has been breeding into various subgroups of the human race since primitive man first migrated into North America?

  • Rust suspects the Yellow King murders to be taking place along the Louisiana coast in proximity to various Tuttle-funded Christian schools that went under. Early on in the series, Rust also makes an offhand comment as he and Marty are driving down a coastal highway about a pipeline that'll put the entire area underwater within thirty years. In addition to the fact that such projects would most likely have to be approved by the state's head muckety-mucks (which probably include at least a few Tuttles, like the Governor/Senator), the submergence could arguably be something these secretly subhuman cultists want, maybe on a grand scale. Perhaps the murders themselves are even a means to achieve this outcome through appeasement of some otherworldly idol (in addition to also sating their barbaric lust for sex and violence)?

It's not required the theories be linked, though that'd be cool, too. And just to clarify, these are more just fun theories meant to entertain, make someone look at the series in a different way and tie more overtly into the Cthulhu Mythos, nothing that anyone should put much stock in.note 

Cohle is being suspected of at least being a copycat killer.
This one seems fairly obvious, but the two as-of-yet unnamed detectives in the 2012 storyline are quite interested in Cohle's methods of investigation. They have asked Hart numerous times about Cohle's procedure and his thought process. Maybe they think that he was the original killer and covered his tracks in 1995 (the hurricane excuse for them having lost all of their files on the Lange case is pretty convenient), and they want to match Cohle's testimony against what they have written down. What we're seeing in the 1995 storyline could in fact pretty much all be Cohle acting as an Unreliable Narrator. Alternatively, they do just suspect him of becoming a copycat as the above troper pointed out.
  • Confirmed as of Episode 5. Furthermore, the bit about Cohle being an Unreliable Narrator also extends to Hart, considering how the shooting of Reggie Ledoux actually went down.
  • Cohle could be aware of this and planned for such an investigation. He could be drinking in his 2012 interview to make any testimony inadmissible in a court of law. After all he was pretty insistent that the detectives got him a six pack, and he states on camera that he intends to get drunk.

Cohle and Hart knew Ledoux wasn't the only killer, but the cult behind the killings bought their silence somehow.
As of episode 4, it's strongly implied there's a cult behind the killings of young women. In the first episode, when the two detectives investigating the case in 2012 reveal to Cohle that there'd been another murder, he doesn't seem particularly surprised. Cohle asks the detectives, "How can it be him, if we already caught him in 95?", but the tone of his voice is half-mocking, which makes it sound like he knew the guy they caught wasn't the (only) killer. So it seems that in 1995 Cohle and Hart find out about this cult, but the cult manages to keep them silent somehow, possibly by threatening their loved ones. The cult probably has connections to local bigshots, like Tuttle or the mayor, which would explain how they manage to hide their existence. They offer Ledoux (who most likely was involved the death of the two women, but he wasn't the only one) to Cohle and Hart as a consolation price. Ledoux get sentenced, the case is closed, but Hart and Cohle find it hard to work as cops after that, feeling guilty for letting the bad guys go free. Hart becomes a private operator, Cohle turns to booze, and this how we get to 2012.

Jossed: Ledoux is caught by Hart and Cohle without any (cult-related, at least) outside influence, and Hart kills him. The cult did not pay the two off, instead Cohle works the case off-books and eventually brings Hart back into it.

The show is going to veer into the supernatural.
The references to The King in Yellow are a harbinger.
  • It appears this one has been Jossed; Word of God, as delivered by Nic Pizzolatto in Entertainment Weekly, says:
    "I hope the audience will be pleasantly surprised by the naturalism of the entire story. If you look at the series so far, what seems supernatural has real-world causes, like Cohle's hallucinations or even the nature of the crime. It has occult portents, but there is nothing supernatural about it."
  • But who knows if he's telling the truth?
    • See Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane on the main page.
    • It's also worth noting that there is no way that someone as meticulous and research-minded as Cohle would fail to discover the references to Robert Chambers' The King In Yellow. A cursory input of those words into a search engine would yield immediate results. The very fact that he doesn't, implying that the book doesn't actually exist in the show's universe, adds a hell of a lot more weight to the supernatural interpretation of the series.

  • The series is thematically similar enough to the Cthulhu Mythos that, as of the season finale, the elements that may be supernatural are ultimately left unexplained and perhaps unexplainable. And all the creepier for it.

There was no falling out between Cohle and Hart.
With the growing paranoia that there is some sort of cult with people in power involved, Rust and Marty decide that they can't continue the investigation under normal channels. They concoct a fake altercation that supposedly puts a rift between them, and Rust goes off the grid to continue the investigation, while Marty stays on the radar. If Rust is ferreted out, this keeps Marty free from powerful retribution, while Marty is available to pull Rust back if need be.
  • I'm afraid that this one is thoroughly Jossed, as of Episode 6 wherein Marty cheats on his wife, who in turn sleeps with Rust in order to hurt him, breaking up both of the 'partnerships' on the show. The two men become utterly hostile, and even in the present day Marty brings a gun with him when he follows Rust's car.

There's a hint in the opening sequence.
The sequence has some shots taken from the series proper itself. Maybe there's a hint as to the case as to culprit?

Cohle or his wife accidentally ran over
their daughter.
  • She was run over by a car in the driveway of their home, not a through-fare, and a culprit is never mentioned.
  • Given Cohle's reaction to child endangerment (he murders a junkie for injecting an infant with methamphetamine, covers up for Hart executing Le Doux) he might have taken revenge against someone who accidentally killed his daughter- but instead he carried around an intense, suicidal grief for decades.
  • That was always this troper's interpretation - that Rust had been the one to kill his daughter by accident.
  • That he exacts confessions by finding people's "haunts," and that he has such a talent for this, implies an intense guilt of his own- presumably there's a trigger for it.

The accident happened in such a way that nobody was at fault.
  • If the person who ran over Rust's daughter had been at fault- drunk, careless, asleep, any of those- Cohle would have gone after them. Instead, it must have been a case with nobody to blame, with the driver who ran her over having died behind the wheel, had a stroke or seizure, had faulty brakes, or something else.
  • Having someone to blame would make hating the premise of human sentience itself unlikely; that Rust became a Nihilist afterward implies that there was nobody to make the focus of that grief.
  • Similarly, this troper believes that if the above WMG were true, Cohle would have killed himself.

Jack Herbert was a part of the cult.
The only time he is on-screen, he has an odd fixation on sex and "kids today".He is also a wealthy man, several of whom are said (and proven) to be in Cult of Yellow King.

This leads to . . .

Audrey was affected by the Cult in some capacity
While it's never explicitly said, it is implied. Examples include:
  • Her doll-display, which has five men and one (female victim), exactly like the video in episode seven
  • Her drawings, which include an armless, winged angel (just like the one Rust sees in the abandoned Light of the Way church) and a bearded, masked man (similar to the cult, who wear masks)

The only links between Season 1 and 2
Will be a mention of Carcosa.

The Bar Owner is Rust's Father
The owner of the pub is very protective of Rust, not to mention why he would employ a sullen, paranoid drunk with a penchant for unsettling philosophical monologues in the first place. We know Cohle's story about visiting his dying dad was a lie to give him an alibi for the unauthorized undercover stint with the biker gang, and he mentioned his dad's time in Vietnam which could explain his sharpshooting skills. Of course, there's his backstory of having lost a child, which could mean another Cohle sibling, or perhaps the lost child was Rust himself...

Hart murdered Lisa.
She never shows up again after she exposes the affair to Maggie. Hart's last known words to her were a death threat and we know from his brutal beating of his daughter's boyfriends that he's not above using his position on the force to get away with exacting violent retribution on people he has personal vendettas against.

Ginger is Kevin from Ed, Edd n Eddy as an adult.
In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Kevin is an abrasive, red-haired gearhead who values his bike above all other things. Given the ambiguous time frame and setting of the cartoon, it's possible that Kevin grew up to become an outlaw biker and take on the nickname "Ginger."

    Season 2 
The Birdman from season 2 is actually Jacket.
As we can clearly see, the Birdman is a homicidal maniac, and as we can also clearly see, he is wearing a bird mask, and as we all clearly saw, he knocked someone down and preformed an execution (though we don't know for sure if it took yet), right after he had to sneak up on someone, because if he got shot once he'd bleed out. Now granted Jacket's signature outfit is clearly in the wash at the moment, but he at least had the good sense to bring a good black coat instead...on the other hand, this could just be some sort of successor to the Fans, or maybe just this world's version of Jacket.

  • It's Len Osterman, one of the survivors of the jewel store robbery in the LA riots by corrupt cops.

The Birdman is actually the Mayor's son.
He has the same build as the killer, he is well-versed in deception, and his parties are likely the same parties Ben Caspere attended, thus setting up their connection. The City of Vinci is horribly corrupt, which would explain his ability to acquire riot ammo and track the movements of investigating officers.

  • It's Len Osterman, one of the survivors of the jewel store robbery in the LA riots by corrupt cops.

The Birdman is part of the Cult that Rust and Marty fought in Season 1.
It'd make sense if this whole show was about this particular cult appearing throughout the country and various detectives would take them down.

  • It's Len Osterman, one of the survivors of the jewel store robbery in the LA riots by corrupt cops.

The shootout in episode 4 was a setup.
It's already heavily inferred that Velcoro, Ani, and Paul are all expendable scapegoats for their respective departments, each with opposing agendas. It wouldn't be hard to believe that the detectives were sent on a Uriah Gambit to get them all killed, or at the very least discredit them when the mission inevitably goes awry.

  • Confirmed (but implied) by Davis in the 5th episode when she tells the detectives Geldof did it just so that the state can clean it up and act like it wasn't there.
    • Further confirmed by the discovery of Amarillo's association with Caspere, Holloway, Burris, and Dixon. It looked like for whatever reason they wanted the Main Trio as well as Dixon eliminated.
      • Practically confirmed when it was later revealed that gangsters were tipped off about the raid, and that it's suggested Dixon was contemplating blackmailing his fellow conspirators.
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    Season 3 
Season 3 will be crossover with Silicon Valley.
Someone has killed Russ Hanneman (because let's face it he was a one season character)! Watch as a San Jose PD detective and a Santa Clara County Sheriff investigate through the gritty underbelly hidden in the already ruthless world of Silicon Valley where everyone we've ever known on the show is now a suspect. Especially Jared. Also Erlich's bought a bolo tie. In the end Big Head did it by accident, no one initially suspected him, but he still goes away for manslaughter.

What will the requisite Black Angels song be?
It seems like it being from their album Passover is a hard rule.

The Season will detail a crime that happened within an American Muslim community.
Mahershala Ali's character will be the lead detective assigned to the case since he's a Muslim and his bosses think that will make the people more willing to cooperate with him than they would with a detective with no knowledge (or even respect) of their faith.

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