People don't forget. Nothing gets forgiven.
John Marston is a central character in the Red Dead franchise. He is the player-controlled protagonist of Red Dead Redemption and its DLC, Undead Nightmare, and a central supporting character and later playable character in Red Dead Redemption 2, the prequel of the former game. John Marston can also be selected as a skin in Red Dead Redemption multiplayer.
John Marston is voiced by Rob Wiethoff in all Red Dead media.
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John is designed as a fairly generic and blank slate character to allow a wide variety of players to identify with him. He is mostly serious in demeanor and driven by ambiguous morals that seek to make the Robin Hood-esque "good criminal" persona be more believable.
John was born of an illiterate Scottish immigrant and a prostitute in 1873. His mother died in childbirth and father died 1881. Few details are revealed of either, but some in-game dialogue reveals that John's father was born at sea during the voyage of John's grandparents to America, he was blinded in a bar fight near Chicago and hated the English.
After the death of his father, an 8-year-old John was sent to an orphanage. At an unspecified time, he escaped and committed his first murder at age 11. He had shot another man dead, but later claimed that he was not at fault. He met Dutch van der Linde a year later in 1885 when the gang leader saved young John from vindictive homesteaders in Illinois who caught the boy stealing and tried to hang him. Dutch prevented this and took John under his wing. Dutch became a kind of father figure to John, teaching the boy many skills that would come in handy as an outlaw including gunslinging, survival skills and how to read.
During these early years John had quickly become one of Dutch's favored followers alongside Arthur Morgan. The gang, consisting of fewer members at this time, began steadily moving eastward, picking up new members along the way. As his mentor, Dutch's philosophies began rubbing off on John who also saw their "work" in a romanticized way, that they wanted to cause change in the West by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
Over the years more members joined the gang, including a prostitute named Abigail Roberts in 1894. Eventually she and John fall in love and have a son, Jack Marston. While the other gang members took to raising Jack collectively, John struggled to connect with Jack due to doubts about the boy's parentage and his own insecurities. Around 1896, John left the Van Der Linde Gang for about 12 months but then returned. While Dutch was overjoyed by his return, Arthur felt him leaving was a betrayal and this soured the relationship of the two men.
When the gang reached Blackwater, new member Micah Bell encouraged Dutch to hit a boat. The heist, in which John participated, quickly went awry after a group of Pinkerton Agents ambushed the gang. In the following shootout, Dutch killed an innocent bystander, but the gang still managed to make off with the money and stash it near the town before fleeing further northeast.
Events of Red Dead Redemption 2
Following the gang's flight from Blackwater, they headed towards Colter, an abandoned mining town. John was among the scouts sent out ahead of the main group, and when the gang settled down in their temporary shelter he had not yet returned. Abigail asked Arthur Morgan and Javier Escuella to find John. They find him and his dead horse further up the mountains where he says he got lost a day before, and was attacked by wolves. Badly injured by the wolves - getting his iconic scars among others - John is unable to go back to the camp alone. Arthur fends off attacking wolves while Javier takes John on his horse back to Colter, where Abigail expresses her disappointment in John's carelessness.
After the gang moves on to their next camping location, John takes part in the Cornwall Train heist to get some money. Lawmen descend upon the gang suspiciously quickly, but John and the others manage to make it out with the money they stole. After the train heist, Arthur takes John with him to steal some goats which they plan to sell at an auction held in Valentine. The auction goes well, after which John and Arthur meet up with Dutch and Leopold Strauss at a nearby bar. He and Strauss are captured by Cornwall and his men outside the bar, leaving it to Dutch and Arthur to stage a rescue, which is successful.
In order to make some money later on, John, alongside Arthur and Javier make a deal with the Gray family, arch-rivals of the Braithwaite family. The trio set out to steal the Braithwaite's horses and sell them off for $5,000. Upon reaching the Braithwaite manor, they lie their way in and make off with the horses after killing the stable-hand. They only manage to sell the horses for merely $700, and have managed to anger the Braithwaite family in the process. This result in two Braithwaite boys kidnapping Jack Marston, and unbeknownst to the gang, selling the boy to a Saint Denis crime boss. John takes part in the assault against the Braithwaites in order to free Jack, and is devastated when the boy isn't there.
The gang learns the identity of the crime boss who took Jack - Angelo Bronte - and John goes to Bronte's house with Arthur and Dutch to negotiate his son's release. Bronte makes a deal with John, saying that the boy will be released if the gang deals with a group of grave-robbers operating in the Saint Denis Cemetery. After John and Arthur complete the task, Bronte honors the agreement and releases Jack.
Sometime later the gang assaults the Bronte house, with John present. He knocks Angelo out, and is shocked as Dutch drowns the man and feeds him to an alligator afterward. When the gang attempt a bank robbery afterwards, the heist goes horribly wrong leading to the death of Hosea and capture of John, who is sent to Sisika Penitentiary.
Following the gang reuniting after being separated, John is sprung from jail by Sadie and Arthur. As the gang is back in action, Dutch orders Arthur and John to blow up Bacchus Bridge. While completing the task, the two agree to ditch the failing gang and take off along with Jack and Abigail once they complete one last robbery. This last robbery involves looting an army payroll from the train headed to the bridge.
John gets shot during the heist while he tried to uncouple a carriage and is left for dead by Dutch, who would later claim that he tried to save John until he shows up at the camp following the heist. In the ensuing standoff, John sides with Arthur as the Pinkerton agents show up. After reaching the caves, Arthur will give John his hat, as well as all of his possessions and tells him to run.
Fast forward 8 years, John, Jack and Abigail are trying to live an honest and peaceful life now that they're not outlaws. Following an undescribed incident at Roanoke Ridge, they move to Strawberry where John finds work at a General Store and later doing jobs as a ranch. When delivering goods to Pronghorn Ranch, he tangles with some outlaws from the Laramie gang. Since he broke his promise to Abigail not to fight anymore, some tension arises between them.
John helps Mr.Geddes, owner of Pronghorn Ranch, with various tasks and teaches Geddes' son a few things as well. Meanwhile he tries to connect with his son by teaching him certain skills as well. When John takes Jack with him to Strawberry to collect mail, some people involved with the previous Roanoke Ridge incident begin following them and John is eventually forced to kill them right in front of Jack. This further increases Abigail's worry. After Pronghorn Ranch is attacked by more of the Laramies, John some of the other ranch hands go after them, and wipe out the whole gang. John personally kills the gang leader.
As a result of his assault on the Laramies, Abigail takes Jack and leaves John. In order to in her back, John gets a bank loan with the help of Geddes, and purchases Beecher's Hope. He clears away some squatters living there, reunites with and hires Uncle, and begins to clean the farm up. He writes a letter to Abigail, and she returns with Jack.
John also reunites with Sadie and Charles during his time in Beecher's Hope. Charles also helps with the ranch while Sadie gives him bounty hunting jobs to make extra money to pay off the loan. In the meantime, John spends more time with his family, and proposes to Abigail while they are on a date in Blackwater.
Soon after, John discovers a lead to Micah Bell's, the traitor who caused the gang's downfall and the death of many members, location. Abigail begs him, Charles and Sadie not to take revenge but they go regardless. They track down one of Micah's new gang members, Cleet, who reveals his hiding place to be in Mount Hagen. John either hangs Cleet or spares him, in which case Sadie kills him.
When arriving to Mount Hagen, the shooutout with Micah's gang leaves both Sadie and Charles wounded. John kills Joe, another gang member, and eventually reaches Micah. Their standoff is interrupted by Sadie who managed to get up in spite of her wound, and again by a sudden Dutch. The surprise of Dutch appearing allows Micah to grab Sadie, leading to a three-way standoff. Dutch, though initially seemingly siding with Micah, then shoots the traitor in the chest. He lets go of Sadie, giving John the chance to kill him. Dutch leaves without a word, leaving the money from the Blackwater heist to John.
John, now having paid off his debt in full, marries Abigail. Sadie and Charles say their goodbyes and head off, leaving the Marstons to their new life. Meanwhile, Edgar Ross and Archer Fordham track down a lead to Micah, which then leads them to begin investigating John.