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|Portrayed by|| Xander Berkeley |
Simon Baker (voice)
|Name|| Thomas McAllister (real name)|
Roy Tagliaferro (principal alias)
|First appearance|| Pilot (deleted scene, obscured)|
Red Hair and Silver Tape (as Sheriff McAllister)
Red Sky in the Morning (as Red John, disguised)
|Last appearance||Red John|
|Profession|| Serial killer (1988-2013)|
Visualize farm worker (?-1988)
Napa County Sheriff (?-2013)
Leader of the Blake Association (?-2013)
|Family|| Rosalind Harker (former lover)|
Rebecca Anderson (former lover; according to Rebecca)
Red John (shortened as "RJ'", or "RJK" for "Red John Killer", in the FBI and CBI case files), is the alias of the central antagonist in The Mentalist during its first six seasons, from Pilot to Red John.
While he was alive, Red John was California's most notorious serial killer, who murdered at least 41 people (and many more by proxies). He was also the founder of the Blake Association, a secret criminal organization of law enforcemet officials that committed and covered up his crimes.
Red John's murder of Patrick Jane's wife and daughter 5 years prior the start of the series prompted Jane to leave his old life as a fake psychic and enlist in the CBI to find and take revenge against his family's killer; kicking off the events of the series.
Conception and sources of inspiration
Red John's role in the series was the archenemy and antagonist to the protagonist, Patrick Jane, and the only rival who could be comparable to him in intelligence and deductive skills (or "psychic powers", as most people perceived). Finding Red John and taking revenge against him for the murder of his wife and daughter was Jane's central goal during the first 6 seasons of the series, a goal constantly frustrated by Red John's ability to be always one step ahead of Jane, despite how intricate Jane's plans were to stop him.
His role is loosely similar to that of Professor James Moriarty from the stories of Sherlock Holmes, the only challenge at the level of the intelligence and deductive skills of the famous detective, and who like Red John used to stay in the shadows while acting through a network of followers (although Red John had much more presence in the crimes, killing the majority of his victims on his own, and was much more difficult to defeat).
Bruno Heller, the creator of The Mentalist, reaffirmed this comparison in an interview by saying that Red John is not "one pathetic loser who is hiding out in a basement somewhere. He [Jane] is not fighting the Green River Killer. He's fighting Moriarty."
His importance in the series is evidenced in his presence in the titles of the episodes, having all of them a reference to the color "red" (except for "Pilot"). The episodes succeeding his death, starting with "My Blue Heaven" reference other colors besides red. The first five season finales and mid-season finales also centere around him.
Heller also described Red John as Jane's 'White Whale'or Moby Dick in Herman Melville's book - the obsession that destroys Captain Ahab.
However, the main source of inspiration for Red John seems to be another fictionalized serial killer, Jack of All Trades from the 1996 series Profiler. Their similarities include:
- Both are serial killers.
- Both killed the protagonist's partner before the start of the series (Samantha Water's husband in the case of Jack of All Trades, and Patrick Jane's wife in the case of Red John).
- Both killings prompted the protagonists to leave their old lives as psychics and join the law enforcement to find and take revenge against their loved ones' killers.
- Both were the main antagonists for several seasons, always keeping their identities hidden.
- At the end, both turned out to be sheriffs, characters who had appeared sometime in the early seasons (with no one knowing at that point that they were the killers), and were ultimately killed by the protagonists.
Even so, differences include that Red John was a much more persistent enemy, lasting about two and a half seasons more. The conception of the character is completely different; Red John is a criminal mastermind with a network of accomplices (similar to Moriarty), while Jack of All Trades is a solitary and obsessed murderer, more like true life serial killers.
Additionally, a possible real life inspiration for the character may have been Keith Hunter Jesperson, a serial killer also known as the "Happy Face Killer", who used to send letters to police and prosecutors and sign them with a smiley face.
Concerning his nickname, it was never specified what the meaning of "Red John" is or how he got that name. Within the universe of the series, it was hinted that he named himself, since the alias was first mentioned and revealed to the public by his accomplice Orville Tanner during his trial. In real life, some possible inspirations that Bruno Heller could have had for his name are:
- "John Doe", a name used for an "unknown and random man", which has its counterpart in the figure of "Jane Doe", a name used in the case of a woman and a possible inspiration for Patrick Jane's name.
- Red Dragon by Apocalypse of St. John, biblical character depicted by Red John's favorite painter William Blake in his series of paintings The Great Red Dragon; and referred also in the eponymous episode.
- Red John of the Battles, nickname of John Campbell, Scottish nobleman, 2nd Duke of Argyll and 1st Duke of Greenwich.
- John the Baptizer, Gospel of John, first name of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (his favorite musician).
It is noteworthy that writers and executive producers Ashley Gable and Bruno Heller were not the only people involved in writing Red John-centric episodes. Starting from the Season 3, a pool of writers contributed to Red John episodes such as Tom Szentgyorgyi ("The Blood On His Hands", "The Red Barn", "Red Dawn") and Daniel Cerone ("Red Queen", "Red Sails In The Sunset").
The actor who played him when his identity was finally revealed, Xander Berkeley, said to TV Guide that he was "stunned and flattered" when he discovered that he was Red John, and that "earning this little place in pop-culture history was the last thing I ever expected. Truth be told, I thought I was a red herring".
In a flashback scene in which Patrick Jane walks up his stairs and sees the note on his door informing him of the murders of his family, there is a musical composition that Blake Neely uses as a motif throughout the series, titled "Your Worst Nightmare" and "Bloody Bed". Whenever Red John murders somebody or taunts Jane, the same or similar composition is played in the background.
Interestingly, this composition is one of the fewer tracks on The Mentalist soundtrack to feature orchestral instruments. It makes prominent use of harp harmonics, the string section, and orchestral percussion. This music also occurred during a scene in which Bob Kirkland discusses Patrick Jane's investigation with FBI agent Alexa Schultz.
Red John's personality can be described as the classic example of a psychopath: narcissistic, with zero empathy towards others and a tendency to manipulate those around him. He has constructed a god-like or messiah figure of himself - something that he values and furiously retaliates against people who belittle this.
In the Pilot, Patrick Jane comments that "Red John thinks of himself as a showman, an artist. He has a strong sense of theater"; which is evident in his use of the Smiley Face and elaborate murder scenes. His modus operandi also reveals that he takes great pleasure in the suffering of others (see Modus operandi).
He appears to be well cultured, showing an appreciation for classical music. For example, he enjoys listening to his ex-girlfriend Rosalind Harker play piano pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach, his favorite composer. Rosalind said that he admired Bach's rigor. Red John is also fascinated by the work of English painter and poet William Blake, naming the Blake Association in his honor and using the first two words of his poem The Tyger as organization's passcode. It's possible he took his nickname from Blake's series of paintings "The Great Red Dragon", depicting the Red Dragon by Apocalypse of St. John.
Patrick Jane reveals that "he doesn't have partners, he has tools". Each of his accomplices view Red John as a figure worthy of an admiration so great that they are willing to do anything he asks of them, even if that means killing themselves or others to hide his identity. On the contrary, Red John views his accomplices as disposable tools and doesn't hesitate to kill them when they are no longer useful for his purposes or to protect himself.
However, Red John's identity has not always been so secretive. When Father Peter DiBuono visited Visualize on Elliston farm in 1987, he recalled that "some kid" drew a smiley face on the side of a barn and that there was a "bad vibe about that place". Red John also risked expossure when he snuck into the CBI to poison his follower, Rebecca Anderson. Moreover, Sophie Miller, Jane's former psychiatrist could identify Red John and described him as:
- "Preliminary diagnostic session with Jay Roth. Mr. Roth came in complaining of a recent issue with severe acrophobia (fear of high places). He’s middle-aged, in good health, with no stated prior history of psychiatric issues. He has no living family, but many friends on whom he relies for company and emotional support (likely a reference to his numerous accomplices). He’s well-spoken, good posture, self-possessed. In the waiting room, he sat calmly in one place, needing no distraction. Though I note, he is an excellent whistler. His self-presentation is pleasant, but there are hints in his behavior of a damaged and narcissistic personality. He says he deals with conflict and adversity easily, though. I’m not convinced he’s being truthful about this. In fact, much of what he said, though spoken convincingly, did not match what I can only call my instinctive response to his presence, though I cannot point to any identifiable clinical behaviors that indicate this. I sense something deceptive and dark in his emotional makeup. However, there is every indication that his phobia issues are real whether acrophobia or some other issue remains to be seen. An interesting case. I look forward to further sessions with him." '
- Sophie Miller in "Black-Winged Redbird"
Red John's narcissism is most evident when he acts out against those who belittle him. Those who have degraded his image in public quickly suffer: Red John murdered Jane's wife and daughter after calling him "a lonely soul, sad, very sad" on TV; news reporter Jaqueline Sandoval (who called him "a beast") and James Panzer (who said he was "nothing compared to the San Joaquin Killer") were killed too; and Kristina Frye (who invited him to "reach out and get help") was kidnapped and left in a catatonic state. He exacts this revenge qucikly, killing Jane's family, Panzer and Sandoval on the same night of the tauntings. It can be concludeded that Red John pays close attention to televised news broadcasts and talk show programs or subscribes to a an online service that mentions his name) to check if his name is mentioned unfavourably.
Because he is very proud of his image, he doesn't tolerate being copycatted either. He calls Dylan and Ruth's copycatting "cheap imitations of my work" and swiftly kills them. Strangely, Red John did not harm Dr. Linus Wagner, who copycatted him in the Pilot, possibly because Wagner was jailed for his crime.
Red John's first definite physical appearance is in "Red Hair and Silver Tape", where he plays Sheriff McAllister. A deleted scene in the Pilot shows an unknown person (presumably RJ) watching a televised report of the CBI latest murder case involving Red John copycat, Linus Wagner. He has made four appearances as Sheriff McAllister - once in season one and again in three episodes in season six. His first appearance as the mysterious Red John persona came in the season one finale, when his shadow was seen as he escaped from his hideout as the CBI arrived to arrest him and Sherrif Hardy. He made a possible appearance in "His Red Right Hand" disguised as a police officer, where he poisoned his accomplice, Rebecca Anderson. His first face-to-face encounter with Patrick Jane is in the second season finale, where he saves Jane from copycats, Dylan and Ruth.
Below is a list of all of Red John's appearances (in varying capacity) throughout the series:
- 1x01 Pilot (obscured)
- 1x02 Red Hair And Silver Tape (as Sheriff McAllister)
- 1x11 Red John's Friends (voice)
- 1x23 Red John's Footsteps (shadow)
- 2x08 His Red Right Hand (obscured)
- 2x23 Red Sky in the Morning (disguised)
- 4x11 Always Bet On Red (shadow)
- 4x13 Red Is The New Black (obscured)
- 4x24 The Crimson Hat (voice)
- 6x01 The Desert Rose (obscured/voice)
- 6x02 Black-Winged Redbird (as Sheriff McAllister)
- 6x03 Wedding in Red (as Sheriff McAllister)
- 6x05 The Red Tattoo (obscured)
- 6x06 Fire and Brimstone (as Sheriff McAllister)
- 6x08 Red John (as Red John)
Other possible appearances from Red John include:
- 2x08 "His Red Right Hand" - when his accomplice Rebecca Anderson is arrested, a police officer poisons her, but in their face remains unseen. It's unknown whether the poisoner was Red John himself or another accomplice. However, Rebecca smiled when she saw him, so it's very likely that it was Red John. Another possible appearance is from "mystery man with the cap" who appeared earlier in that episode (caught on CBI HQ CCTV footage just before Rebecca killed Bosco).
- 3x16 "Red Queen" - the cyclist riding through the CBI car park has been discussed as a possible Red John appearance. The cyclist had red clothing (Red being a color associated with Red John, ie. episode colors). It might also have been his insider, Craig O'Laughlin , who didn't appear in the episode.
- 4x24 "The Crimson Hat " - In the final moments of the episode Jane and Lisbon reunite after Lorelei is arrested by the FBI. It suggests that RJ is in the LVPD cruiser that races past them (pictured) since the operation to catch RJ only involved the CBI and (to some extent) the FBI and not local authorities. This might imply that Red John made his phone call from the police cruiser while using the late Luther Wainwright as a stand-in in the limousine.
Red John appears to be a Caucasian male of average height. Since his first known killings date back to 1988 (Jane says he is at least between 20 and 30 during 1988), Red John is probably at least 45 and 54 by 2013. In "Red Rover, Red Rover", a young girl named Haley told Jane that RJ was white, wore a baseball cap and had an odd voice. Similarly, Red John speaks with a high-pitched voice throughout the series. From the care Red John has taken to elude the authorities, the possibility cannot be ruled out that he was using a voice-altering device, espcially in "The Crimson Hat" and "The Desert Rose" when he talks over the phone. In the Red John", McAllister uses the voice again when talking to Patrick, revealing that it was just a simple change in his voice he did to mask his identity.
In "The Red Tattoo", a dying Kira Tinsley told Patrick Jane that Red John has a tattoo of three dots on his left shoulder.
Patrick Jane has commented that "Red John thinks of himself as a showman; an artist. He has a strong sense of theater," which is evident in his use of the Smiley Face. Jane adds: "... the first thing that anyone sees is the face on the wall. You see the face first and you know. You know what's happened and you feel dread. Then, and only then do you see the body of the victim. Always in that order."In a deleted scene from the "Pilot", Jane describes Red John as: "a very ordinary looking man, mid thirties, medium height, thinning brown hair. He’s methodical and tidy, keep himself very clean. He has a small speech impediment that he’s deeply ashamed of. He works at a clerical job, and lives with his mother or a sister in a single story blue house with a citrus tree in the front yard. Lemon, I think". However, none of what Jane said is true, just mere speculation, as he admits he is not a real psychic.
According to Rosalind Harker, Red John is "Just under 6 feet tall. Not muscular but not soft, either. Short straight hair... a gentle voice. Rough, strong hands. He smelled of pine and nail and earth... and he liked to listen to me play the piano."
Most of Red John's past remains a mystery, but it is known that he was born as Thomas McAllister in the 50s or 60s (around 1959 at the earliest and 1968 at the latest), probably in California. None of his family members were ever revealed or mentioned throughout the series, though in 2013 he says to Sophie Miller that he had no living family at that time (whether this is true or false is unknown). In 1988, around the age of thirty or less, he was a member of Visualize and worked on a farm for the church in Elliston, where he painted his first known smiley face, the future insignia of Red John. He also committed his first two known murders there, killing his co-workers Martin Talbot and Allen Charney for an unspecified reason. Following the murder of his other co-worker Gordon Bradovich by Holly Preston, the barn was abandoned and the exact whereabouts of McAllister are lost during a huge 20-year period, until 2008.
At some point during this period, he moved to Napa County and became the local sheriff. He also probably founded his criminal organization the Blake Association during this lapse.
In 1998, McAllister committed his third known murder, and the first on the line of his killing spree: an unnamed woman killed with the help of his first known accomplice Orville Tanner. Although McAllister managed to escape, Tanner was caught by the police and during his trial claimed that he was only a look-out and accused McAllister to be the real killer, referring to him for the first time by the alias "Red John", instead of his true name. However, no one believed him and McAllister remained free while Tanner was sent to prison. Strangely, McAllister maintained contact with Tanner and kept informing him about his subsequent killings, while Tanner still considered him a "good friend" of him and of his son Dumar.
During the next 5 years, McAllister became a serial killer and murdered at least 8 other people, including Janet Peak in 2000, a murder that almost went awry when the victim's husband Carter Peak suddenly appeared and fought McAllister. Despite the killer managed to overcome and kill Carter, the body of the man was imbedded with his DNA, so he buried the corpse under concrete into the ground of a strip mall to hide the evidence.
It is known that, at least during his first murders, some newspapers referred to the serial killer as "The Smiley Face Killer", due to the drawing of a smiley face that he used to paint with the blood of his victims as a personal signature. However, the alias "Red John" eventually prevailed and McAllister began to be known by this name instead. Although it appears that McAllister himself created this alias, its real meaning was never revealed.
In 2003, mentalist and self proclaimed "psychic" Patrick Jane, who had been helping the police on the Red John case, appeared on a talk show and taunted RJ, calling him "an ugly, tormented little man. A lonely soul. Sad, very sad". This angered McAllister and that night, he went to Jane's house and killed his wife and daughter (painting the toenails of Jane's wife with her own blood as a "special gift" for Jane), leaving a note on the door of the room explaining his motives:
Dear mister Jane,
I do not like to be slandered in the media, especially by a dirty money-grubbing fraud.
If you were a real psychic, instead of a dishonest little worm, you wouldn't need to open the door to see what I've done to your lovely wife and child.
Jane returned home to find the note and the bodies of his wife and daughter. Subsequently, he suffered a breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric facility, which he left after six months to join the CBI in order to find and take revenge on Red John, becoming his most lasting and ferocious adversary ever since.
Between 2003 and 2008, Red John murdered eight more unnamed women; his 13th-21st victims and probably the last murdered without any specific reason (all his subsequent victims had to do with "internal issues", tauntings, or clashes with Patrick Jane, rather than the work of a serial killer properly speaking).
In 2004, a young man and alcoholic named Michael Kirkland joined Red John as one of his accomplices, and then went missing. Although it was never proved, his twin brother Robert Kirkland thought that Red John had killed him, and so he began to hunt down RJ out of revenge, much like Jane did.
In 2007, McAllister met the sisters Miranda and Lorelei Martins, introducing himself to them by his alias "Roy Tagliaferro". McAllister noted that Lorelei was emotionally unstable and wanted her to become his accomplice, but he needed tragedy to befall on Lorelei to be able to "rescue" her, like he had done with Michael and his problems with alcohol, and with the vast majority of his known associates.
However, Lorelei's sister Miranda was a constant support for Lorelei, so McAllister kidnapped Miranda with the help of his followers Julia Howard and Jason Lennon, and later raped her and let her die in an abandoned warehouse. Lorelei then became depressed and McAllister used this to manipulate her and make her join him. Before dying, Miranda carved on the floor the word "Roy", accusing McAllister, but this detail was not revealed by the police and wouldn't be discovered until some years later.
Season 1: Jared Renfrew murder & setting a trap for Jane
In "Red John's Friends", Jane strikes a deal with prison inmate, Jared Renfrew, who claims to know details about Red John. However, Renfrew escapes CBI protection and Red John kills him before Jane can question him. Red John then calls Jane to torment him, laughing at Jane's failure to catch him.In the first-season finale, "Red John's Footsteps", we are again confronted with another Red John-centric episode. This time, the victim is a female teenager who is found murdered outdoors, and whose twin sister has gone missing. However, upon arriving at the crime scene, Jane notices something odd which puzzles him. Although he knows that Red John is behind the murder, Jane notices that the victim had either been abducted before being stabbed or was already dead before being dumped in the open field, which does not fit Red John's standard M.O. of killing all his victims indoors. In addition, while the CBI investigates the scene, a skywriting plane appears in the area and makes Red John's Smiley Face in the air. The team concludes that the missing twin is alive, but in grave danger from Red John, and later, that Red John might be working with someone else. It is obvious that Red John's aerial theatrics are for Jane.
As the episode progresses, the CBI discovers that Red John used Roy Tagliaferro as his fake name and had a relationship with a blind redheaded woman named Rosalind. When Jane and Lisbon pay a visit to Rosalind, she tells them that she has not seen Roy (Red John) in six months. During the final showdown, when Patrick Jane confronts Sheriff Hardy (who turns out to be one of Red John's accomplices), Red John is keeping an eye on him from the adjacent room (the one Patrick tried to unlock when he entered the house). We see Red John drinking from the same china cup tea set seen in Rosalind's house. The hands holding the cup appear to be male.
Season 2: CBI murders, kidnapping Kristina Frye & saving Jane
Red John, along with his accomplice Rebecca Anderson, murder Bosco and his team so that Jane can get the Red John case back. When Rebecca is caught and arrested, he poisons Rebecca before she can reveal his true identity.
Red John finally appears again in the season 2 finale. For the first time since the pilot episode, the viewer is able to see the killer in the flesh, wearing a black cloak, cowboy boots, and a grotesque transparent mask that distorts his face. After he shoots to death one teenager, stabs the wounded female teenager to death (who turn out to be the copycats), and wounds a third one (who was an innocent victim of the two), Red John approaches Jane, who is bound to a chair, stroking him lovingly and reciting from William Blake's famous poem "The Tyger." As Red John prepares to leave, he tells Jane that Kristina Frye sends him her love.
Season 3: Todd Johnson murder, framing Hightower & fake death
During the season 3 finale, after Red John's accomplice Craig O'Laughlin is killed while trying to kill Hightower in her mountain cabin hideout, Jane (who is in a food court in a Sacramento mall) has Lisbon use the redial on O'Laughlin's phone and tell whomever answers that O'Laughlin is dead. An average looking gentleman (played by Bradley Whitford) sitting in the food court near Jane answers his phone. Jane, seeing this, has Lisbon tell him what the person she called said to her. It's the same thing that the man in the food court said, so Jane confronts him. The man first denies it, but moments later drops hints that he is Red John, keeping Jane at a safe distance by subtly pointing a revolver hidden inside a folded newspaper at him. "Red John" claims to have decided to "quit," retire, move away and get a new face and a new identity. Jane, however, is still skeptical, and confronts the man again as he tries to leave, only for him to reveal to Jane details of the murders of his wife and daughter, specifically, what they smelled like. This sends Jane over the edge, and he calls after the man, then guns him down with a weapon hidden in his coat pocket. Jane then sits down and calmly sips tea while waiting to be arrested, apparently satisfied that this man was indeed Red John.
Season 4: Darcy's investigation & Red John's proposal
It is revealed in the season 4 premiere, Scarlet Ribbons, that Ron Deutsch, the bald security guard who apprehended Jane at the mall, stole the revolver "Red John" had hidden in the newspaper as well as the cell phone that connected him to O'Laughlin. It was also revealed that the man was named Timothy Carter, a child abductor living with a fake identity. In the following episode, Jane brings Rosalind - the blind woman with whom Red John had a relationship - to the coroner's office to examine the body. She feels Timothy's face,and reveals that it was not the Red John she knew.
In the final moments of the episode "Always Bet on Red", just after the funeral of the father of one of Panzer's victims, a white Dodge whizzes past the mourners, including Jane and Lisbon. Its possible Red John was behind the wheel and surveying the scene and keeping an eye on Jane's scheme.
During season four, Red John (as Roy) pays a visit to his paramour Rosalind Harker, after Susan Darcy found out from her that Timothy Carter was not Red John. While Rosalind Harker speaks with Jane, Red John is seen strolling past the camera and sits in a lounge chair holding a white teacup like before in the first season finale. It should be noted the Red John mannerisms were close to Jane's -- from how he crosses his legs to how he holds his teacup. When the authorities stormed Harker's house, RJ was long gone. Jane and Darcy discover blood seeping under a door, finding a dead morgue attendant, who Darcy had previously talked to and who led Agent Darcy to talk to Rosalind Harker, although there was no smiling face anywhere near the attendant.
- "As you well know, Patrick, there is no hell. When I die, I won't be punished. But if you really did have a change of heart, what if you and I were friends? Imagine the life we could lead. It's a higher path, Patrick. A nobler existence."
- ―Red John to Patrick
Season 5: The 7 suspects
In Red Dawn we take a look at the early beginnings of Patrick and the CBI, in a flashback; towards the end of the episode, during a telephone conversation between Virgil Minelli and FBI Agent Alexa Shultz, a man (named Robert Kirkland, as he's named in the episode's credits) rides with Alexa and thanks her when she arranges with Minelli to get frequent updates on the Red John Case. In Red Sails In The Sunset, Jane, with the help of Bret Stiles, orchestrates an elaborate plan to break Lorelei Martins out of prison after the FBI's attempts to hide her in The Crimson Ticket. Towards the end of the episode, Lorelei states "God you're just like him (Red John), you know that? Relentless manipulation...I only wonder why the two of you didn't become lifelong friends the moment you shook hands" this indicates that the two have met but are not close.
In There Will Be Blood Red John kills Lorelei. Then, another Red John's friend, Jason Lennon, injured and comatose after Lorelei's assault, is killed by Bob Kirkland in Behind The Red Curtain. Really, Kirkland is searching revenge for his brother's death (missing and presumably killed by Red John)
In Black Cherry we saw a notebook detailing some of Patrick's Red John's suspects: the visible names of these pages are: Brett Partridge, Vint Molinari, Dean Harken, Ellis Mars, Jason Cooper, Linus Wagner, Walter Mashburn, Towlen Morning, Virgil Minelli, Oscar Ardiles. In The Red Barn it's revealed that Red John, in his youth, was a Visualize member, and killed two men of this cult on a farm.
- "I know that you've made a list, and I know that by the time you watch this video, you'll have narrowed that list down to a few names. That's quite a feat of memory and research. Bravo. I bet you think you're pretty damn clever, but you're not. You got a lucky break. That's not clever. I'll show you clever."
- ―Lorelei reading Red John's letter to Patrick
In the fifth season's finale, Red John's Rules, Red John strikes again, killing someone with connections to Patrick Jane's past in the carnival, Eileen Barlow.
Jane narrows down his suspect list to seven names. His final seven suspects for Red John are revealed:
- Thomas McAllister - Sheriff of Napa County and "Red John"
- Gale Bertram - CBI director
- Reede Smith - FBI agent
- Bret Stiles - Visualize church leader
- Raymond "Ray" Haffner - private detective and Visualize member, former FBI and CBI agent
- Robert "Bob" Kirkland - Homeland Security agent
- Brett Partridge - CBI forensics leader
When the case is closed, Patrick receives a DVD from the killer, through another Red John accomplice, which contains a message read to him by Lorelei before her death months prior to the episode's events. It warns him of the murder committed in the episode, committed in order to destroy one of Jane's happy memories from his time at the carnival, and that he will begin killing again and often. It also turns out that he has figured out the names of the seven final suspects before even Patrick could. Patrick seems surprised and worried by this fact, but it's not revealed how Red John exactly knows these names.
How he was able to accomplish this remains the biggest unsolved and unexplained mystery of the Red John saga. He knew the names 2 months before Patrick did. Red John offers to share the information twice - once to appease Jane's prospective curiosity, at the Church, and once to save or extend his life, while dying in the park. Both times, Patrick rejects the offer, calling it a mere "trick." However, this actually touches deeply on a series-long debate between Patrick the skeptic and others who claim to be or believe in real psychics or psychic powers.
Both Kristina Frye and Sean Barlow demonstrate inexplicable psychic abilities in Jane's presence. Sean Barlow also attests to Red John's psychic powers. Notably, Patrick is moved to tears by Kristina's report that his daughter never woke up during Red John's assault on her. With his dying breath, Red John himself claims to be a "real psychic." Did Patrick Jane reject Red John's offers to explain because he wanted to remain a skeptic? Was he afraid of someone who could finally prove that psychic power is real?
Or, did Red John actually have enough resources to pull off a "trick?" Six of the Seven Final Suspects were in law enforcement, with 3 in the Blake Association. Two of them were in Visualize, a former haunting ground. Thus, McAllister had a potentially wide reach into Patrick's world, covering all seven suspects. Bob Kirkland gained access to Patrick's nearly completed research, but, was this too late in the time line for Red John to have done the same before Lorelei's murder? We do not know when Red John found out about her slip about the hand shake. The question remains: with these resources, and sufficient time, could he have duplicated Jane's list, and beat him by 2 months? Or, did Patrick finally come face to face with evidentiary proof of psychic powers, (perhaps even his own), and look the other way?
Season 6: Red John's demise
Jane and Lisbon secretly continue their dangerous mission to narrow down the list of seven Red John suspects as they investigate the murder of a man who was missing for two years.
Following an anonymous tip, Lisbon pursues a lead that leads her to an abandoned house where she finds Brett Partridge, near death. His last words are: "Tyger, Tyger". Lisbon attacked by Red John, who paints his smiley face on Lisbon's face with Patridge's blood.
Lisbon is found alive after something scares Red John and he cannot carry out with killing Lisbon. Sophie Miller is found dead in her house after Red John goes to her under the guise of a patient to gain information on Jane's past. Jane reveals to three of the suspects: Bertram, Smith and McAllister that Red John has made a "big mistake".Thomas McAllister, he originally believes that McAllister has a fear of heights but that is proven to be false. Later, McAllister saves his life from the top of a building but is then shown to be "scared" of pigeons which could be the fear that Red John has.
Red Listed The man that Jane took captive and buried alive (Benjamin Marx) to cause him to confess to a crime in Red Rover, Red Rover is found murdered. Jane tells Lisbon that he created a fake list of suspects which were stolen from the attic in the CBI headquarters. Meanwhile, two of Jane's Red John suspects Robert Kirkland and Reede Smith meet up where Kirkland tells Smith his theory about a secret organization between the FBI, CBI and other law enforcements. Jane finds out that he is being spied on by the FBI and confirms this by visiting the ex-head of CBI Madeleine Hightower, who faked her death to keep her and her children safe from Red John. Later, Jane tells one of his suspects, Bob Kirkland, that the list of suspects stolen from him were fake. In anger, Kirkland kidnaps him and threatens to torture him to find out who the real suspects are. Jane also finds out that Kirkland wants to kill Red John as well because he most likely killed his brother. Lisbon and Hightower rescue Jane and Kirkland is arrested.
While Kirkland is being transported to jail, Reede Smith pulls over the van and pretends to let Kirkland escape and when his back is turned he shoots and kills him. The police officer and Reede agree to say that the officer shot him and they seal the deal by saying "Tyger Tyger" proving that they are part of the Tyger Tyger Conspiracy.
While investigating a Visualize case with Ray Haffner, Jane discovers that Red John might have hired a private detective, Kira Tinsley. Red John kills her but before she dies, she reveals that "Red John" has a tattoo with three dots.
The team is meeting in Jane's loft and they are discussing ways to get the Red John suspects to show whether they have a tattoo. Jane says that they have to all be in the same place as Red John could easily find out what they were doing if they spoke to the suspects separately and disappear. Cho asks Jane how he intends to get them to agree to show if they have a tattoo and Jane says "I wasn't planning on giving them a choice."
The next scene is of a parking garage with a man hanging from a noose over the edge. Reede Smith is talking with another FBI agent whom he asks to get the man's wallet, saying "you know how I am with heights." The agent tells Smith that someone is there to see him. Jane tells Smith that he has information on Red John and asks him to meet with him on Thursday at 8pm, saying he will give him a location on that day itself.
The middle part of the episode revolves around getting the other suspects to agree to the meeting.
Lisbon speaks to Ray Haffner and convinces him to go to the meeting by saying that if he refuses to show up, Jane will assume that he is Red John and go after him.
Jane calls Sheriff McAllister and asks him if he was telling the truth when he told Patrick he was at his disposal. McAllister confirms that he is and agrees to the meet.Bertram who also agrees to the meeting, telling Jane that he wants to be there when he finishes it with Red John.
With the five suspects all ready to be in the same place at the same time, Jane and Lisbon drives to the Jane family home. On the way, they stop to watch the sunset and the two share an intimate moment and a hug, with Jane telling Lisbon how much she means to him. Jane then ditches Lisbon and drives off, having pickpocketed her cell phone, leaving her with no communications.
Arriving at the Jane family home, Jane enters the main house and walks to the bedroom where he found his family dead years ago. The Red John smiley face is faded but still visible. He then leaves and enters a smaller building on the property. This is the scene from the start of the episode, with a few extra details such as showing Jane removing the pistol from a safe in the wall.The first suspect arrives and it is Stiles who asks if he is early, as other cars begin to pull up and shadows are seen walking around outside. With all five men in the room, Jane tells them that he knows that one of them is Red John. He is met with derision and scorn from most of them and Haffner tries to leave. Jane pulls out the shotgun and makes him sit down. McAllister tells Jane to take it easy. Smith has his hand on his weapon but Jane threatens to shoot him if he tries anything and orders all those with weapons to take them out, put them on the floor and push them towards him. Stiles opens his jacket to show he has no weapon, while the others all take out their guns and put them on the floor. Jane then explains about the tattoo and orders the men to show him their shoulders.
All of them remove their outer layers of clothing to reveal their shoulders. It is revealed that Bret Stiles and Ray Haffner do not have the tattoo, while Gale Bertram, Reede Smith and Thomas McAllister all have a three dots in a horizontal position on their left shoulder. In the promo for The Great Red Dragon, it is revealed that those working for the Tyger Tyger Conspiracy wear this tattoo. Assuming this, Red John may be a member of this secret law enforcement conspiracy and is one of three suspects. He tells Jane "It's not what you think" with apparent fear and Jane points the shotgun at his face. However, Stiles tells Jane to look at the others.
Bertram and Smith both have the same tattoo as McAllister. Jane orders them on their feet and tells them to get up against the wall. The shot cuts to outside as we hear a voice saying "wait, NO!" and a gunshot. When Jane points the shotgun against the three suspects, a bomb, armed probably by Red John (presumably one of these suspects), explode in the place.
Lisbon arrives on the scene and rushes to the building, but is thrown back by a massive explosion
Jane questions the uniform accomplice and interrogates him by reading his facial expressions to Jane’s questions. Jane founds out there is indeed a secret organization (The Blake Association) of cops and other officials that hands out crimes to be committed. The password is “Tyger tyger" and the tattoo is a membership sign. The uniform was sent by the organization to kill Smith but he doesn’t know about Bertram or Red John because he’s “too low on the totem pole”.
Lisbon and Jane send Cho to look at Brett Partridge’s shoulder for the tattoo since autopsies can be falsified. When Cho uncovers the body to look at the shoulder, we don’t see the face but the shoulder has a large burn where the tattoo might have been.
Bertram gets a ride from Cordero and he goes to his storage facility where there’s racks of wine and boxes stored. He opens a box and pulls out stacks of hundreds to put in his briefcase, along with some passports.
Reed is in another alley, in a very bad condition. He calls Van Pelt and offers to turn himself in for protection. Cordero intercepts the call and Bertram tells him to get there before the Rigsby and Van Pelt do and to pretend to be a CBI agent. Cordero pulls up where Smith is and manages to reel the paranoid Smith towards his car, claiming he was sent by CBI. Cordero then pulls a gun on Smith and tells him to get in the trunk, where it is lined for his execution. Smith tries to stall and it works when Cho arrives and starts shooting at Cordero, who gets away.
In interrogation, Smith reveals that 5 years ago, he had an addiction to pain killers and accidentally killed a 12 year old girl on the job. There were witnesses and evidence but it all went away when he pledged to the secret organization. That is how they get their members: by recruiting people with things that they need to hide. Smith is not Red John and he swears to Jane he didn’t kill his wife and daughter.
Jane’s next plan of action is to reveal that Bertram is the serial killer Red John to the press, organized by Brenda Shettrick’s replacement.
Van Pelt, Rigsby and Cho are looking through Bertram’s storage facility and finds a hidden flash drive. Van Pelt decrypts it to find a single file that is full of strange symbols.
Bertram is the only patron at a bar and asks the bartender for rocks for his scotch. The bartender sees the news report on the TV behind Bertram and comments that the guy they are looking for looks a lot like him. Bertram pauses and looks at the TV and sees his face with the words SERIAL KILLER. He grabs the scotch bottle and bashes it over the bartender’s head. He gets the broken bottle and stabs the bartender repeatedly, splattering blood all over him. He makes a call to Cordero.
The death of the bartender has narrowed the area for the CBI team to where Bertram could be. They have closed off the highways. They find a house that was owned by Bertram’s aunt and figures that’s the only place he could be. The team and backup surrounds the house. A SWAT team pulls up and Cho verifies their credibility since he checked for that tattoos. However, a lot more SWAT vans pulls up, even from other districts. Jane realizes the ploy and commands everyone to stay but a SWAT member gets into a car and manages to drive off without anyone noticing in the chaos. In the car, Bertram takes off his SWAT disguise and he and Cordero makes plans to go eat.
The following morning at CBI, Cho reports that Bertram's clothes were found. They figured one of his cronies (Cordero) had a SWAT uniform waiting and that Bertram called in all the other SWAT units.Lisbon races after him and asks what they should do next, suggesting to decode the list Van Pelt found. Jane says no and that it is out of their hands. Lisbon cannot believe he is quitting and Jane says he is just letting go. As the elevator doors close on him, he gives Lisbon a sad smile and says sorry.
The last scene shows Jane entering a church and looking at the holy depictions on the stained glass. He walks towards the pewter and sits in a pew, looking as if he is waiting for something.
After Reede Smith's confession about the Blake Association and Jane deducing he is not Red John, Gale Bertram become the prime suspect and he escapes law enforcement. ====Red John
- "It's totally fair. Game's over and I won."
"It's not a game."
- ―Dialogue between Red John and Patrick Jane
Patrick Jane finally comes face-to-face with Red John, the serial killer he's tracked since the man murdered his wife and daughter. For 10 years, Jane has doggedly hunted his nemesis in his search for justice.
Gale Bertram wanted to meet with Patrick. He claims that isn't Red John. Gale tells Patrick that he’s not happy with what’s going to happen, Bertram then tells the detective to shoot Patrick. Gale mentions how he’s always liked Patrick, the detective shoots Gale. The sheriff appears from behind and tells Oscar the detective to leave. The sheriff, revealing himself as Red John, says hey to Patrick, and Patrick says hi back. He faked his death with Partridge's help, with a dead body, a stun grenade, and the bomb.The sheriff says poor Gale, and that it never occurred to him that he was the Blake organization. The Sheriff’s idea is to kill both Patrick and Gale, and then the cops to find them both dead. Red John knows Patrick has questions and many of them, he asks if he wants any answered. Patrick has no questions for the sheriff at all, The sheriff admits to creating the secret organization and he’s got a lot of power in the palm of his hands. The Sheriff brings up that there’s a reason for his wife and child being dead, the sheriff asks who Patrick is. Patrick replies with nobody, the sheriff then says that he’s smart, but very arrogant. McAllister tells Patrick, that he’s been a step ahead of him the whole time, and asks if Patrick knows how he lived the bomb in the house and knew the names on his list. Patrick knew how Red John faked his death, but admits that knowing the names on his list was smart.
Patrick asks to show Red John something, he agrees to see it. Patrick hands breadcrumbs into his hand, then lets out a pigeon which violently attacks the Sheriff’s face, Patrick takes out a hand gun from under the benches in the church and shoots the sheriff in the leg. Patrick says that he knew how everything was going to happen, The Sheriff asks for him not to kill him. Red John says that Patrick is a good man and that it’ll haunt him. Patrick isn’t hesitating, but he’s savoring the moment because he knows that he’s Red John. Patrick admits to being disappointed, a woman walks into the church; Patrick says he’s from the police and that she needs to leave, but she doesn’t believe him. Turns out the women is with Red John and tries to slice Patrick’s throat, Patrick deals with her easily and gets his handgun to chase after Red John.
The FBI are trying to find out where Patrick arranged to have a meeting with Gale, they find out the Alexandria Cemetery; they’ve found where Patrick had his meeting. The FBI are now on their way to catch Patrick, though Patrick is still after Red John in the cemetery, a woman sees Red John and screams down the police. Patrick asks which way to the women and keeps running after him. Patrick is close to getting Red John, their chase is about to end. Patrick is on his tail, Red John can’t run for long with the wound in his torso. The FBI arrive at the cemetery and begin running to find Patrick, Red John enters the backyard of a home, he then tries to run into the door. The girl closes the door, but the man runs through the glass. Patrick arrives and sees what happened, Patrick says he’s police and will call the police. Though Patrick asks for the phone, he doesn’t bother calling.
Red John is running past a school bus. Patrick is now sprinting hard and is about to get him, it cuts to the FBI entering the church and see Gale shot dead. Red John is now running near a creek, Patrick still behind him; Red John is clearly getting tired and feeling fatigued he hits the ground, Patrick catches up with a handgun. Red John tries to call the police, but Patrick arrives and hangs up the phone on him and kicks him. Patrick gets on top of Red John and begins to choke Red John. He tells him to blink once for no and twice for yes he asks if Red John is sorry for killing his daughter and wife, he blinks twice, then he asks him if he’s afraid to die Red John blinks twice. Patrick then strangles McAllister to death, finally fulfilling his promise to kill Red John and ending Red John's killing spree once and for all.
They met when Red John's car got broken near to Rosalind's house and RJ asked Rosalind's permission to use her telephone, introducing himself by his alias Roy Tagliaferro. They found a common taste for classical music, and a relationship grew. Red John liked to hear Rosalind play the piano, and she developed a sincere love for him.
However, Red John just used her, as he only frequented her while he was in town building a trap for Jane and Maya Plaskett; and always lied to her, since he posed as a businessman who was "doing business in the area" and not even told her his true name. He also painted one of his trademark smiley faces above Rosalind's bed, mocking the fact that she was blind and couldn't see it.
When the trap for Jane was finished, Red John simply left without saying goodbye, leaving Rosalind devastated. However, she still kept feelings for him and always believed in his innocence, even after Patrick told her that Roy was Red John.RJ retained one of Rosalind's tea cups as a souvenir, which could be seen in the warehouse he was spying Jane from.
Red John visited her again three years later and she looked very happy for his return, playing the piano for him like before. However, Red John only used her again to inform Jane and Susan Darcy that he was still alive, and then hypnotized her and left the corpse of a morgue attendant in her closet.
The FBI put Rosalind under witness protection after that encounter, though is unlikely that he had a reason to attack her, since he really never attempted anything against her before.
Rebecca was a secretary for Bosco's team and Red John's inside accomplice at the CBI. She was responsible for the death of Bosco and his team in "His Red Right Hand". Once arrested, she revealed to Jane that Red John "loves" her and that they have a connection. Jane responds by stating that RJ only has tools (this is established afterward when RJ poisons Rebecca moments after talking to Jane).
- "My dear chap, I know so much more than you or Red John could ever imagine."
- ―Bret Stiles to Patrick Jane in The Blood On His Hands
When questioned by Patrick Jane about the source of such knowledge, Stiles simply said that he knew so much more than him or Red John could ever imagine.
Since Red John was a member of Visualize during his youth, it's likely that the two met during that period. Stiles apparently did not hold any grudge against RJ for having murdered fellow Visualize members Martin Talbot and Allen Charney at the barn of the church in Elliston.
Both men were very much alike in the sense of being charismatic and manipulative and having hordes of fanatic followers worshiping them. It's very possible that Red John learned that behavior from Stiles.
There are hints of a possible cooperation between their two organizations, Stiles' Visualize and Red John's Blake Association, since both used similar tactics; and Visualize was known for committing crimes and mysteriously evading justice, while the Blake Association was later discovered to have been formed by corrupt members of law enforcement. However, not a single member of one organization was confirmed to have been member of the other, aside from Red John himself.
Stiles showed the unique ability to act against Red John's interests without fearing retaliation from the killer, as seen when he used his influences to release Lorelei Martins from prison, in order for Patrick Jane to contact her and get information on Red John's identity. This was a very brave action considering Red John's extent of power and tendency to be easily infuriated, and suggested that he could be in an almost equal or even superior position (though it must be noted that Stiles hesitated before accepting Patrick's request).
However, this connection didn't stop Red John from murdering Bret Stiles by a bomb blast at Jane's house, as part of a plan from the killer to fake his own death during the incident.
Red John was known for having a large amount of fanatic followers who felt a great admiration for him, almost like if he was a messiah, and were willing to do anything he asked them to. Most of them were closet psychopaths who seemed completely normal. They saw him as a savior, since Red John appeared in their lives in moments of despair and helped them.
Patrick Jane described the influence of Red John in his accomplice Rebecca Anderson as follows:
"Everyone you ever met made you feel ashamed, Ashamed of that ugly darkness festering inside you. But he didn't. He made you strong. He made you feel proud of that darkness."
Red John used them as accomplices in many of his crimes, and they gladly accepted thinking that he was "on a mission of love and enlightenment". It is unknown whether Red John really believed in that or if it was just a lie he told to make them follow him.
Their admiration for Red John was so strong, that some of them went as far as to kill themselves to protect his master.
Red John's accomplice Miriam Gottlieb said that they must obey his orders without questions. It is hinted that some of them could also have been his sexual partners, since Lorelei Martins had sex with Patrick Jane under Red John's orders without hesitation.
However, as Jane pointed out, Red John didn't feel any attachment to them, and saw them only as disposable tools that he could kill when they were no longer useful for his purposes or to protect himself. He also killed Lorelei's sister Miranda just to provoke a breakdown in her and be able to "rescue" her.
- "After all these years, he's come to see you as an old comrade rather than an enemy. He hopes you'll come to feel the same way."
- ―Lorelei Martins to Patrick Jane in The Crimson Hat, referring to Red John.
The two got in contact in 2003 when Jane, then posing as a psychic, joined the police in the quest for the serial killer. After Jane appeared in an interview on TV and called the criminal "a tormented, ugly little man", an infuriated Red John went to Jane's home while he was out of town and killed his wife and daughter in retaliation. This was atypical from the beginning since it supposed the only time that Red John, who doesn't tolerate being slandered in the media, attacked the relatives of the person that provoked him and not the provoker itself; though he was probably looking for Jane and in his absence decided to attack his family instead.
This caused a breakdown in Jane and, after spending 6 months in a psychiatric facilty, he left his old life as a psychic and joined the CBI as a consultant with the sole purpose to find and take revenge on Red John, becoming his most formidable enemy ever since.
As the clashes between the two progressed, Red John began to find fun in sparring with Jane, being his only worthy adversary, and developed a strange connection with him. After his failed attempt to kill Jane in Red John's Footsteps, Red John never attempted anything against his life nor those of his friends again (at least until their last encounter), and instead let him get much closer during his investigations than to any other member of law enforcement, always keeping an eye on every of his movements and playing with him through a series of traps and tricks.
He even came to show some kind of protective attitude towards Jane, as seen when he released him alive after Patrick repeatedly said to his face "go to hell", while others had been savagely murdered for much less; and even saved his life twice by appearing just in time and murdering the criminals who were about to kill him.
Red John also allowed to be manipulated by Jane in one occasion, when Patrick tricked the San Joaquin Killer into belittle Red John on air, knowing that RJ would be angry, and he murdered the San Joaquin Killer without taking any retaliation on Jane for the action.
This relationship can be analyzed from many points of view. First, it is obvious that Red John didn't kill Jane because he loved attention, and no one gave him more than Patrick. Red John thought of himself as a showman, in his mind he was performing, and he delighted having such a discerning audience. The brilliant Patrick Jane, whose life was devoted to deciphering every one of his moves. His life would be diminished without Jane.
Moreover, over time it was revealed that both men were in fact extremely similar, something pointed out too by some Red John's accomplices. Both possessed genius-level intelligences, the same set of rare mentalistic abilities (see Skills), were well cultured (despite apparently none of them having a formal education); and even shared some aspects of their personalities, like their taste for tea, belief in atheism, and appreciation of good literature and classical music. During his early years as a fake psychic, Jane's personality was highly manipulative and cynical, much alike Red John's (but without the violent and murderous tendencies).
In fact, the similarities are so numerous that the most popular theory among fans about the true identity of Red John was that he was none other than Jane himself, or a close relative like his father or a hypothetical twin brother.
Carefully analyzing, there are also strong hints of a psychosexual component in Red John's attitude towards Jane; though not necessarily conscious and not necessarily anything he would act on. Conducts like saving Patrick's life, then stroking his shoulder and chest lovingly and releasing him alive despite Patrick having duped him, all point to a deep attraction. When Bret Stiles referred to Red John's behavior as "a kind of love", he suggested that having attacked Jane's two romantic partners (Angela Ruskin Jane and Kristina Frye) was a sign of jealously. Dumar Tanner and Rebecca Anderson strengthened that component with quotes like "he wanted you badly" and "Red John misses you".
Lorelei Martins said that Red John saw Patrick as "an old comrade, rather than an enemy", and that he hoped Patrick to feel the same way. Jane recognized that the reason why Red John didn't kill him was because he expected to turn Jane to him.
The most evident sexual-like action from Red John towards Jane was when he sent Lorelei to release him from prison, take care of him and make sex, then dropping the bomb about who sent her and why. It could be said that by proxy, through Lorelei, Red John now had the most intimate knowledge of Patrick. And the cherry on the sundae for Red John, is that he got that knowledge without Patrick's consent.
However, this attraction was completely one sided, since Patrick Jane's feeling towards Red John had always been the same: nothing more than pure hatred. His obsession with Red John was motivated by the only intention to kill him and make him pay for all the suffering he caused to him and to his loved ones. Many people noted that behind his seemingly cheerful and positive appearance, Jane was deeply hurt and sad for the loss of his family. Every time that Red John was around, he visibly lost control of his emotions and was swayed by hate.
He was even willing to devote to his obsession the rest of his life and put it in risk without second thoughts if that could bring the destruction to Red John too, in a clear analogy with Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.
During all their brief encounters in Red Sky in the Morning, The Crimson Hat and Red John, Patrick showed absolutely no interest in talking to Red John or listening what he had to say; and when they finally came to meet face-to-face, Jane mercilessly murdered his nemesis with his own hands as soon as he had the chance, expressing great relief after the act and finally moving on with his life.
The Smiley Face
- "And water'd heaven with their tears: / Did He smile His work to see?"
- ―William Blake, The Tyger
Red John draws a Smiley Face ("The crying smiley") as a signature to his killings. This smiley face is drawn with the blood of the victim, clockwise, using three fingers of his rubber-gloved right hand, according to the observation that Brett Partridge came up with. However, because the blood hasn't yet congealed when he draws it, the face looks like it's crying. Patrick Jane says in the first episode, Pilot, that "Red John thinks of himself as a showman, an artist. He has a strong sense of theater." Concerning Red John's Smiley Face signature, Jane says "... the first thing that anyone sees is the face on the wall. You see the face first, and you know. You know what's happened and you feel dread. Then, and only then, do you see the body of the victim. Always in that order."'
Modus operandiRed John kills his victims with "a frenzy of stabbing and cutting with subsequent abuse of the viscera" according to the coroner in the pilot. His weapon of choice, which he is seen wielding in a flashback in His Red Right Hand and when killing one of his copycats in Red Sky in the Morning, appears to be a linoleum knife, which has a short, curved blade. This is the type of knife Patrick buys when fabricating the evidence against Thomas Maier in the murder of James Panzer. It was mentioned in the Pilot that he uses a taser to incapacitate his victims and binds them with plastic flex cuffs before stabbing them. In a scene depicting his early years as a serial killer in His Red Right Hand, he is seen slashing a woman's throat and stripping her without using either. Most victims are apparently undressed before they are killed, either down to their underwear or completely. Red John has painted the toenails of the two victims red with her own blood. One of these two victims was Patrick Jane's wife. With the other, he did this with intent to lure Jane into a trap at the end of Season 1. He also changed his m.o., sometimes, using guns, fire, poison.
VictimologyRed John's victims are mostly female. However, he has killed men when it was necessary, but it's likely he derives little gratification from the act (except, probably, his first murder at barn in Elliston). The copycat incident in Red Sky in the Morning marked the first time Red John is depicted using a gun in a murder (though he may have killed Dr. Towlen Morning, who was also shot (but it's never confirmed that he and not one of his accomplices, possibly Rebecca Anderson, was the killer). It would appear Red John abides by some form of twisted code in choosing his victims, as he deliberately did not kill the innocent boy who was being threatened by the two copycats, choosing instead to shoot him with a nonlethal but incapacitating shot. Rather, he spared the boy because he had no reason to kill him, and spared Jane because he enjoys having a worthy adversary or as Bret Stiles put it, "It's a kind of love," something with a deep psycho-sexual component. For Red John, the most important part of his killings is the "show," he doesn't care much about the victims. Probably the classical victims (alone women in their houses) was a kind of training or an early phase, because, then, Red John affirm that he has a mission. Rebecca Anderson said that he has a mission of peace and illumination. Red John, more than a classic hedonistic and sadistic or ruler killer (like Ted Bundy) or a person who does it just to get attention (like "Happy face killer" Keith Hunter Jesperson), can be definited a missionary serial killer, with a fool and particular plane, and much charisma and followers (as Charles Manson, for example).
Other Known AliasesIn order to keep his cover intact, Red John has used a number of additional aliases during his career as a serial killer. Known ones include:
Dr. Joe - N. H.
An anagram for "Red John". He used the alias "Dr. Joe - N. H." ("N. H." being short for New Hampshire) in "Red John's Friends" when instant-messaging with Lisbon's team, about Jared Renfrew. The IM session provides another possible clue to Red John's identity, and may be another appearance.
RJ Solutions, Inc.
"RJ Solutions, Inc." was the name used on an Internet order for a skywriting message in the shape of a Red John smiley in the beginning of Red John's Footsteps.
Roy TagliaferroWhile in a relationship with Rosalind Harker, Red John called himself "Roy Tagliaferro," the surname meaning "cut iron" in Italian. The name "Roy" derived by a Gaelic word that means "red".
Agent Rojo (with Rebecca)
In "His Red Right Hand," Jane and Agent Kimball Cho go to investigate one of Red John's past murders. When the coroner discovers that the body is missing from the morgue, he checks the log and finds out that an "Agent Rojo" (Spanish for "red") had claimed the dead body. Later, it's learned that it was actually Rebecca Anderson who used the alias to claim the body.
Cut Iron Properties
Cut Iron is a bogus real estate or construction firm created by Red John in order to purchase some land (Orville and Dumar Tanner's family homestead) and build on it a house with a prison basement under a trap door in Red John's Footsteps. The name of the firm ties into Red John's Roy Tagliaferro alias, as the surname Tagliaferro means "cut iron." This connection was made by Virgil Minelli who suggested that Van Pelt search for Tagliaferro using the english translation of his name.
Agent Nemo (uncertain)
A mysterious pretended FBI agent, who blackmailed, by phone, a guard to put Lorelei Martins in a federal prison, according his friend of FBI. Its possible that Nemo was Red John himself, or Reede Smith of Blake association. Incidentally, "Nemo" is latin for "no one".
A pseudonym RJ used to gain access to Sophie Miller's medical records, and attend an appointment with this alias, posing as a patient. Roth, a typical Jewish surname, comes from the german word "rot," meaning red.
Victims of Red John, with years, locations and other information.
The exact count of Red John's victims is unknown, but the number is estimated in at least 41 victims and possibly many more. Counting his accomplices, the body count is more than 60 victims.
Note: There are also some unknown victims appearing in the Red John files called "Jane Doe" (not included among the following names).
- Martin Talbot and Allen Charney
- Count: 1st and 2nd
- Location: Elliston Farm, Elliston
- Information: The Visualize Barn Murders. Two men, both were bound by the hands and killed in an unspecified way, possibly injured by shotgun pellets and killed with a knife. They were Red John's first known victims, but the incident was not known until 2013.
- Episode reference: 5x13 The Red Barn
- Unnamed female
- Count: 3rd
- Location: San Angelo County?
- Information: Killed with Orville Tanner's help, according to the Red John files (in this case a newspaper article). This victim could have been the woman that is the mother of three sons. Tanner was caught and blamed for the crime, but he revealed at his trial that the true killer was Red John. First victim in the killing spree line and first known victim in the classic count.
- Episode reference: 1x11 Red John's Friends
1998 or 1999
- Unnamed female
- Count: 4th
- Location: Unknown
- Information: RJ, at this time, is still called "The Smiley Face Killer". The articles also claimed that "the murders are connected".
- Janet Peak and Carter Peak
- Count: 5th and 6th
- Location: Stockton?
- Information: The third and fourth victims, according to the classic original count of victims, previous to the discovery of the Visualize Barn Murders. The original target was Janet. Red John attacked her from behind while she was doing her laundry and quickly slit her throat. He then proceeded to undress her body, but was disrupted by her husband, Carter. Red John stabbed him in the torso, slashed his throat, and thereafter buried the body in concrete. Carter's corpse was found 9 years later, but Red John stole it from the morgue before it could be analyzed. Jane concluded that Red John made a mistake in Carter's murder and was trying to hide the fact that he left his DNA on the corpse.
- Episode reference: 2x08 His Red Right Hand
- Four unnamed females
- Angela Ruskin Jane and Charlotte Anne Jane
- Count: 11th and 12th
- Location: 1309 Cedars Street, Malibu
- Information: Killed as a vendetta because Patrick Jane taunted him on TV. Red John invaded their house at night while Jane was out of town. Additional to his regular MO, Angela's toenails were painted with her blood as a "personal gift" for Patrick. Red John left a note for him on the bedroom's door explaining his motives (the only time he had done that). Charlotte (Patrick's daughter) was sleeping and, according to Kristina Frye, she never woke up and died without knowing what happened. Charlotte became his first and only known child victim.
- Episode reference: 1x01 Pilot
- Eight unnamed females
- Count: 13th to 21st
- Location: Unknown
- Information: Probably his last victims in the traditional killing spree. After these victims, Red John apparently "retired" of being a serial killer, and all his subsequent known killings were motivated by other specific reasons, more commonly "internal issues", tauntings in the media, or his personal war with Patrick Jane.
- Miranda Martins
- Count: Between 13th and 21st
- Location: Unknown warehouse
- Information: Murdered to provoke a breakdown in her sister Lorelei and be able to make her his accomplice. Abducted, raped, and left for dead; died of heat stroke. She carved the word "Roy" in the floor with her nails before dying, allowing Jane to attribute the murder to RJ/Roy Tagliaferro himself, in 2012. Killed with help from Jason Lennon and Julia Howard.
- Episode reference: 5x08 Red Sails In The Sunset
- Jared Renfrew and Juana Porfiria Braga
- Count: 22nd and 23rd
- Location: Tijuana, Mexico
- Information: First victims in the present timeline of the series. Jared, former cell inmate with Red John's accomplice, Orville Tanner, knew the true identity of Red John and made a deal with Jane to be released from prison (in which he was falsley incarcerated) in exchange for giving him that information. Red John himself helped in Jared's release in order to stop Jared from talking. Juana, a prostitute, was killed for bearing witness to Jared's death. Both bodies were found semi-naked in the bathtub of a motel in Mexico with multiple stab wounds. Before dying, Jared wrote on the bathroom wall in his own blood: "He is Ma" (likely to be an unfinished phrase).
- Episode reference: 1x11 Red John's Friends
- Emma Plaskett
- Count: 24th
- Location: Crocket State Memorial Park, San Angelo County
- Information: The murder scene exhibited several atypical changes in Red John's modus operandi. Emma's body was found in a public garden, instead of his usual method of killing and leaving the bodies indoors. Her toenails were painted with her own blood, like Jane's wife. Instead of painting the smiley face with the victim's blood, Red John hired a plane to draw it in the sky. Murdered especifically to get Patrick in the investigation and lure him to a trap, with Dumar Tanner's help.
- Episode reference: 1x23 Red John's Footsteps
- Dr. Towlen Morning, Marlon Hicks and Rebecca Anderson
- Count: 25th to 27th
- Location: Stockton (Morning and Hicks); CBI Headquarters, Sacramento (Anderson)
- Information: After the discovery of Carter Peak's body, Red John killed Morning (Carter's family doctor) and Hicks when the latter was investigating the office of the former. Morning was shot in the head, stripped, frozen, left in a public place, and decorated with roses (Patrick said this was done to make him look sad, vulnerable and comic). Hicks got his throat cut and was left in Morning's office with the trademark MO. Rebecca Anderson was an accomplice of RJ and was killed after being caught; poisoned with an unknown cutaneous substance by a person disguised as police while she was being taken to her cell; almost certainly killed by Red John with the help of Reede Smith.
- Episode reference: 2x08 His Red Right Hand
- Jacqueline Sandoval
- Count: 28th
- Location: Lake Tahoe, Nevada
- Information: Journalist, she did interview at Kristina Frye on TV, and called him a "beast". Was found dead in her bedroom the morning after with Red John's characteristic modus operandi.
- Episode reference: 2x23 Red Sky in the Morning
- Dylan and Ruth
- Count: 29th and 30th
- Location: Salinger Mill
- Information: Dylan was shot and killed whilst Ruth was shot in the abdomen and had her throat cut. Murdered for having impersonated him and because they were about to kill Jane.
- Episode reference: 2x23 Red Sky in the Morning
- Ron Deutsch
- James Panzer
- Count: 32nd
- Location: San Francisco
- Information: Serial killer known as the San Joaquin Killer. Patrick tricked him into belittling RJ on air, in order for RJ to kill Panzer. Was found dead in an alley a few hours later, stabbed, with Red John's signature method.
- Episode reference: 4x07 Blinking Red Light
- Baris Acar
- Count: 33rd
- Location: Sacramento or San Angelo County
- Information: Baris was a morgue attendant in charge of the body of Timothy Carter, the fake Red John. Murdered apparently by getting his throat cut. His body was wrapped in plastic and left into the closet of Rosalind Harker, Red John's ex-girlfriend. Murdered to prove that Red John was still alive.
- Episode reference: 4x13 Red Is The New Black
- Lorelei Martins
- Count: 34th
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Lorelei was a Red John's accomplice, who turned against him and tried to kill him after Jane told her that Red John was her sister's murderer. She failed in avenging her sister's death and was caught and beaten by Red John, who then made her record herself in a video with a messsage to Patrick in exchange of killing her without much suffering. Her body was found some time later in a dumpster, nude but covered with a bed sheet, seemingly stabbed in the abdomen (which may imply that Red John did not fulfill his end of the bargain).
- Episode reference: 5x16 There Will Be Blood
- Eileen Turner
- Count: 35th
- Location: Torchlite Motel, East Sacramento
- Information: Killed in a motel room, with RJ's classic MO, in retaliation for Patrick Jane's knowledge that the two had met before. Murdered with the help of Miriam Gottlieb, who kidnapped Caitlyn, the daughter of Eileen.
- Episode reference: 5x22 Red John's Rules
- Brett Partridge
- Count: 36th
- Location: 5570 West Huron Street, Sacramento
- Information: Forensic investigator for the CBI, member of The Blake Association, and a suspect of being Red John himself. Partridge switched Red John's DNA results with a John Doe in a plan to stage his death and frame another member of the association as Red John. RJ used him as a bait to capture and subdue Lisbon, and was killed because of his knowledge of the DNA swtich. Was found by Lisbon in the closet of an abandoned house, still alive, bound and with multiple stab wounds. He died in her arms seconds later.
- Episode reference: 6x01 The Desert Rose
- Sophie Miller
- Count: 37th
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Jane's therapist after the death of his wife and daughter. Red John talked to her to get information on Patrick Jane. RJ cut off Sophie's head and put it in her kitchen oven because Sophie could identify him.
- Episode reference: 6x02 Black-Winged Redbird
- Count: 38th
- Location: Napa County
- Information: While investigating a case in Napa, Jane was taken hostage by the killer, Charlie. While Charlie attempted to flee on the roof of a cathedral with Jane, McAllister/Red John climbed up a ladder and shot Charlie in the chest, saving Jane's life in the process. This was the second time Red John saved Jane's life.
- Episode reference: 6x03 Wedding in Red
- Kira Tinsley
- Count: 39th
- Location: San Francisco
- Information: A private detective hired by RJ to spy on the CBI team. She was stabbed to death by Red John after she is found-out by the CBI and because she could identify him. The CBI team listened the murder in real time through Kira's own spy device, but were unable to reach her home in time. As she was dying, she told Jane that her attacker had a tattoo with three dots on his left shoulder, later discovered to be the mark of The Blake Association.
- Episode reference: 6x05 The Red Tattoo
- Bret Stiles and Ray Haffner
- Count: 40th and 41st
- Location: 1309 Cedars Street, Malibu
- Information: Red John's last known victims. Both were Red John suspects and were killed by a bomb blast in Jane's house as part of a plan for Red John to stage his own death and frame another member of The Blake Association as RJ.
- Episode reference: 6x07 The Great Red Dragon
Red John's victims who were not killed, but injured or abducted.
- Maya Plaskett
- Location: San Angelo County
- Information: Abducted and held captive with the help of Dumar Tanner; rescued.
- Wesley Blankfein
- Location: Salinger Mill
- Information: Copycat; shot in the leg.
- Kristina Frye
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Abducted and left in catatonic state.
- Teresa Lisbon
- Location: 5570 West Huron Street, Sacramento
- Information: Used Brett Partridge as a bait. Tazed and with the smiley drawn on face.
- Patrick Jane, Gale Bertram and Reede Smith
- Location: 1309 Cedars Street, Malibu
- Information: Bomb explosion; survived unharmed. McAllister faked his own death to help frame Gale Bertram as Red John
Victims by proxy
People killed by Red John's accomplices on his orders or in some other way caused by him.
- Unnamed male police officer
- Location: San Angelo County
- Information: Shot by Dumar Tanner while trying to escape from custody.
- Sam Bosco, Nick Martinez and Mark Dyson
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Shot to death by Rebecca Anderson under Red John's orders.
- Todd Johnson
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Serial killer and friend of Red John. Tried to reveal information about Red John to Patrick Jane but was set on fire and killed by Craig O'Laughlin.
- Manuel Montero
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Todd Johnson's accomplice; stabbed in the back; killed by O'Laughlin to frame Hightower for his and Johnson's murder, attributed to him by Patrick Jane.
- Max James
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Hightower's cousin; died from heart attack: tortured to death unintentionally by Anthony Gupta.
- Michael Takashima
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Alan Dinkler's roommate, killed by Anthony Gupta.
- Alan Dinkler
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Blown up by Anthony Gupta.
- Police officers Cole and Mayers
- Location: Unknown
- Information: Shot to death by Craig O'Laughlin.
- Luther Wainwright
- Location: Las Vegas
- Information: CBI chief; abducted and killed in gunfire with FBI.
- Robert Kirkland
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Shot to death by Reede Smith and covered up to look like the driver killed him while trying to escape.
- Unnamed male bartender
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Jane calls together a press conference in which he says that the serial killer known as Red John is named Gale Bertram. A bartender saw this as Bertram was having a drink in his bar and Bertram bashes him over the head and stabs him to death.
- Police officer Jones
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Shot to death by Oscar Cordero after the officer recognized Bertram from the news.
- Gale Bertram
- Location: Alexandria Cemetary, Sacramento
- Information: Shot to death by Oscar Cordero after revealing Bertram is not Red John and Red John is revealed to be Sheriff Thomas McAllister.
- Five unnamed females
- Location: Unknown
- Information: All the women were residents at a women's shelter where Jason Lennon was a trustee. He had the manager, Julia Howard, pick them up and deliver them to his house. He would then bind their hands and feet with fishing line, rape them and then strangle them to death and disposed of them in an unknown manner.
- Debbi Lubin
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: Abducted and held captive by Timothy and Sally Carter; rescued.
- Reede Smith
- Orville Tanner
- Location: Unknown
- Information: RJ's accomplice; officially deceased by heart attack in mental hospital.
- Michael Kirkland
- Location: Unknown
- Information: Accomplice, twin-brother of Bob Kirkland. Disappeared without a trace. Bob Kirkland believed Red John killed him but his true status and whereabouts are unknown.
- Isla the Assassin
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: RJ's accomplice, probably a professional killer; she committed suicide when caught by the CBI to avoid leaking information about her employer.
- Sally Carter
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: RJ's probable accomplice, Timothy Carter (Red John's impersonator)'s wife, she committed suicide in Sacramento County Jail, slashing her wrists and throat with a spoon, made sharp, and she left a letter for her deceased husband "Red John".
- Miriam Gottlieb
- Location: Sacramento
- Information: RJ's accomplice in Eileen Turner's murder and the kidnapping of her daughter; she gives the DVD with RJ's message to Jane, then she poisons herself while an officer transports her to jail.
- "If there's one thing I can't tolerate, it's cheap imitations of my work."
- ―Red John in Red Sky in the Morning
Jane compared Red John with Elvis Presley in terms of popularity and followers . As a famous serial killer (California's most notorious serial killer, according to Jane) he has had some other killers trying to imitate his modus operandi. However, as said by Red John himself, he doesn't tolerate being imitated and often hunts and kills his copycats.
His first known copycat was Dr. Linus Wagner. He possessed a book documenting Red John's modus operandi and used this knowledge to kill Allison Randolph in the same manner, trying to frame RJ. However, he made a mistake by placing the Smiley Face in the wrong wall, and that's how Patrick found out the deception. Strangely, despite Red John's hate towards his copycats, Wagner never got any retaliation from RJ for his imitation.
The next copycats revealed in the series were Ruth, Dylan and Wesley Blankfein. Ruth and Dylan were teenage serial killers who filmed gore movies using real killings, attributing them to Red John and copying his modus operandi. Wesley Blankfein was a young boy who had been forced to participate in the killings because his mother had been kidnapped by the other two.
When the three caught Jane and were about to kill him, Red John appeared and killed Ruth and Dylan, furious for being impersonated. Wesley was not killed and only got his knee injured, maybe because he was participating against his will.
Finally, Timothy Carter, a Red John's accomplice, impersonated RJ in order to trick Jane into killing him. This was the only imitation approved and, in fact, ordered, by Red John himself.
Interestingly, in another murder his modus operandi was imitated with the opposite intention, to make believe that he was not the real killer when he actually was. This happened when Red John murdered James Panzer, a.k.a. the San Joaquin Killer. Since Jane had made the public believe that Timothy Carter (who Jane killed) was Red John and this killing could prove that lied to the jury and Red John was still alive, he planted evidence to frame the late Thomas Maier, father of James Panzer's first victim, for Panzer's murder, leaving a fake note in which Maier supposedly confessed that he killed Panzer copycatting Red John's MO.
Red John, instead of attacking Jane in retaliation, paid a visit to his former lover Rosalind Harker and let her inform the CBI and FBI about his return. He also killed the morgue attendant in charge of Timothy Carter's body and left his corpse into Rosalind's closet as a proof.
- Napa County, Red John's home place, is also the scenario of a murder scene by a real life serial killer, notorious Zodiac Killer, who murdered a young woman and injured her companion there in Lake Berryessa in 1969, in a similar fashion to Red John's modus operandi. The killer was never identified and the case remains open to this day.
- In the season two episode "Redline", Jane and Lisbon drive off in a Mercedes Benz lent to them by Walter Mashburn to have lunch at a restaurant in Napa County. Similarly, in the season three episode "Red Carpet Treatment", Craig O'Laughlin, a Red John accomplice, takes Van Pelt to lunch in Napa County. This happened long before Red John's identity as Sheriff Thomas McAllister was revealed.
- The knife used by Red John in "Red Sky in the Morning" and the similar one purchased by Jane in "Always Bet on Red" to frame Maier for Panzer’s death is a vineyard knife which is used in the care of grape vines. Vineyards are the primary agricultural pursuit in Napa County.
- ↑ Voice in 2x23, 4x24 and 6x01 
- ↑ The Crimson Ticket: Patrick Jane refers to Red John as "California's most notorious serial killer" while conversing with Gale Bertram.
- ↑ "He's not fighting the Green River Killer. He's fighting Moriarty."
- ↑ "You see the white whale." 
- ↑ http://www.tvguide.com/news/mentalist-red-john-1073838/
- ↑ 5x05 Red Dawn
- ↑ Red Dawn: Jane says that Red John has killed 10 victims by this time, the most recent being his wife and daughter. The murders of Martin Talbot and Allen Charney not discovered yet.
- ↑ It's unknown whether or not she was killed by Red John in person, though her way of smiling when she saw her killer might suggest that it actually was him
- ↑ Scarlet Ribbons: Jane states during his trial that Red John has murdered around 28 people (the murders of Martin Talbot, Allen Charney and Miranda Martins had not been discovered yet). His most recent victim known by Jane, atributed to Red John by Jane himself, had been Deutsch.