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A mysterious and metaphysical character, there are several interpretations of the character's strange behavior and apparent supernatural abilities. None have been confirmed, although much of the evidence points to him being a sort of God. For example, when John says "Damn you!," the Strange Man replies "Many Have," perhaps referencing the phrase "damn the devil" or "God damn". Moreover, he seems to have a vast array of knowledge and mentions he has a son, who could possibly be Jesus Christ. The Strange Man may also be an angel, as he will say to John, "You have forgotten far more important people than me" (referring to a much more powerful deity, such as God or Satan.)
It is possible that the developers did not base the Strange Man off any religious figure, whether it be a angel or God, and left it to the players to decide whether he is God, Satan, an angel or even the ghost of one of John's previous victims. This is supported by the fact that no matter if the player chooses the honorable or dishonorable way of completing the task, he will always say "I hope my son grows up to be just like you." (Referring to Christ or the antichrist). During his appearance in Mexico, he can be seen accompanied by a Mule or a Donkey.
It is also possible that he is a manifestation of John Marston's sense of right and wrong, testing his morals and forcing John to make decisions on matters he may have seen or heard about previously. The Strange Man reveals a detailed knowledge of John Marston's history. He is impeccably dressed in a three piece suit with a large top hat. The man appears to be calm and collected, even in the arid wilderness. He is also able to identify John Marston whenever Marston approaches him, without actually looking at him. When questioned, he claims to be "an accountant... in a way," but also claims he cannot remember his own name.
Red Dead RedemptionEdit
The Strange Man is the focus of the stranger side mission I Know You, which is only available for John Marston. Marston meets the Strange Man at the edge of a long ridge. He says hello to John and John asks if he has seen him before. Strangely, the Strange Man asks John if he remembers Heidi McCort, a girl that Dutch van der Linde shot in a robbery years ago. The Strange Man does not reveal his identity to John, nor reveal how he strangely knows John. The Strange Man tells John that a friend of his in Thieves Landing is as "drunk as a skunk" and is about to cheat on his wife. The Strange Man does not directly ask John to stop the man, but does subtly hint that this would be the prefered action. The player can either have John encourage the man to cheat on his wife or to stop him.
The next time, John mysteriously finds the Strange Man in Mexico. The Strange Man has set up camp and there is a mule by his side. Once again, the Strange Man does not tell his identity. If John chose to stop the Strange Man's friend from cheating on his wife, the Strange Man ponders on how John has such an evil past but still has the moral compass to stop a man from cheating on his wife. Even more mysteriously, the Strange Man tells John that he wants his son to be "just like you." Now, the Strange Man once again gives John a task. In a church by Mexico, a nun is asking for donations to the poor. John can go donate or just rob her himself. What John does now is left up to the player. If the player chooses to donate the money, John asks the nun why he should help the poor, to which the nun replies that the Lord has brought him to help her.
And finally, John Marston meets the Strange Man by his own ranch in Beecher's Hope. The Strange Man is overlooking the barn and house from a ridge, his arms folded. He is standing on the same spot that John will be buried with Abigail and Uncle on in the future when John is assassinated by Edgar Ross and government agents. John meets the Strange Man and asks him what his name is. The Strange Man tells John that he forgets, and John begins to lose temper, demanding to know his name, or he will not "be responsible for his actions." The Strange Man looks at John fearlessly and starts to walk forward slowly, telling John "oh, but you will be responsible." The Strange Man tells John that he will "see him around." John unholsters his pistol and yells "damn you!" The Strange Man walks away, saying "many have."
John completely loses his temper and raises his pistol and fires three shots at the Strange Man. Rather than hitting him, the Strange Man is mysteriously unaffected and keeps on walking. John looks down at his gun, which has jammed. When John looks up, the Strange Man has disappeared.
No formal explanation is given for the strange man, leaving players to form their own conclusions about his nature. The Strange Man's apparent invulnerability to bullets, his bizarre calm in the wilderness, and his unusual knowledge of both Marston's own criminal past and the nature of Marston's victims seem out of place. Additionally, the Strange Man seems to foreshadow the location of their final encounter as a "fine spot."
- Several popular interpretations include the strange man being a moral or religious deity, or powerful supernatural agent. In this interpretation, the strange man is testing Marston's supposed redemption from his crimes.
- When the Strange Man responds to John's curse of "Damn you!" with the retort of "Yes, many have", this could allude to a number of colloquial blasphemous profanities involving the damnation of deities throughout numerous religions.
- It has also been suggested that the Strange Man is a personification of Death; as only John interacts with him during the crucial events leading up to his death, and is neutral in his requests as opposed to a good or evil deity. The idea that the Strange Man is Death can be aligned to his claim to have had a son through Milton's Paradise Lost. In Paradise Lost Death is the grandson of Satan and he rapes his mother (Sin), begetting dogs that torment her. Also note that many men at that time Cursed Death, or Damned it, which would be an ironic foreshadow of John's death. Also, the final location where you meet the Strange Man, who remarks "This is a nice spot", is the same spot John is buried in the final cutscene. Other evidence that he's a personification of Death is that John says that he'll not be responsible for his actions and the man says "oh, but you will"; which shows that he already knew that John would let himself be shot as a final proof of love to the family, that wouldn't be chased anymore.
- In the final encounter with the Strange Man, Marston attempts to shoot him as he walks away. However, the bullets do not harm him, and Marston looks at his gun as if something was wrong. This suggests that the bullets went right through him.
- Despite this, it is possible to kill the Strange Man before this final encounter. He is rather resistant to bullets, however, taking several shots to the head to finally bring him down, also knocking him of the cliff where John first encounters him can kill him and fail the mission. Even if you kill him, however, you are still able to complete the series of quests as he comes back to life for the next meeting.
- Marston fires three shots at the Strange Man, and the fourth bullet jams in the chamber, causing it not to fire. This could be interpreted as the demise of the Marston family, a bullet for Uncle, Abigail, and finally, John, but Jack is spared.
- Also, in numerology, founded by Pythagoras, the number three is the most powerful number.
- The Strange Man is very reminiscent of the character Mephistopheles from the novel Faust and numerous other works throughout literature, including Shakespeare. Mephistopheles is described in many ways but is seen as an agent for the Devil who recruits individuals for the purpose of collecting souls of the already damned. He appears only to souls that are in danger of being damned, and regularly challenges Faust with tests of morality. He also seems reluctant in most cases to do so, as he originally warns Faust about the repercussions of selling his soul to the devil.
- The number and locations of the meetings with the Strange Man draws parallells to the Temptation of Christ in the Bible:
- The first temptation of Christ by the Devil happens in a rocky desert setting.
The first meeting with the Strange Man takes place looking out over a rocky desert area.
- The second temptation of Christ by the Devil happens in a place referred to as the "The Holy City."
The second meeting with the Strange Man takes place in Nuevo Paraiso, which translates to "New Paradise."
- The third temptation of Christ by the Devil happens in a "high place", where "all the kingdoms of the world can be seen."
The third meeting with the Strange Man takes place atop a hill in Beechers Hope, overlooking all of John's "kingdom."
- Another explanation puts the strange man as a manifestation of John's own conscience, as though Marston is hallucinating. This is somewhat supported by the fact that when John questions him for his name for a first time, he brings up the tragic story of a girl killed by Dutch during a robbery in John's former life. This explanation seems to conflict with the fact that when the Strange Man issues John a task, he has intimate knowledge of this situation; knowledge that Marston alone could not possess. This, however, is potentially explained by saying that John had already observed the people involved in the tasks while passing through, since the Strange Man does not appear until after John has taken several missions, which could place him near those people. A fact that may back this theory up is that when played as Jack this stranger mission is unplayable, as though the man doesn't exist in Jack's mind but he does in John's. Also, when he mentions that he wants his son to "be just like you". This could be Marston wanting Jack to be like his father, expressed through his conscience. However, this is unlikely, seeing that none of the missions needed to meet the Strange Man happen in Thieves Landing which is where the first mission takes place. John considers himself a damned man, and a few people damn him at that point in the game, which matches up with the stranger saying many have.
- To the above, it is possible that the same person involved in the Thieves Landing mission could have traveled there from a location that Marston had visited in one of the story missions. Considering how the man is choosing to cheat on his wife, it would make sense for that same man to have come from out of town.
- The picture of him above the bed in Beecher's Hope is probably an Easter Egg, filler material or coincidence.
- Supernatural intervention has been a theme in several classic western films including Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter (1973) and Pale Rider (1985).
- The character may be a reference to the Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain.
- The character's appearance may be a reference to The Man in the Black Suit by Stephen King. The story's protagonist is taunted and terrorized by the Devil, who appears as a strange man in a black three-piece suit.
- the strange man bares some similarities to the inspector from an inspector calls as he also appears to be a supernatural entity, who debates the morals of a family in an attempt to change them, showing knowledge of things he should not know and of things that have yet to happen.
- The Strange Man could possibly be Marston's father as he knows Marston but Marston doesn't know him as his father died when he was young. Since he is dead, his ghost finds and follows Marston.
- An early rumor circulated just after the games release suggested that the Strange Man is present in the mob that appears during the mission "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed". This has since proven to be false.
- In an issue of Gamepro Magazine, a closer look at Red Dead Redemption was given. When asked about the Strange Man quest, and whether the "man in the black top hat" represented God or Satan, Rockstar told the magazine that he could not tell if the Strange Man was God, Satan, the Black Smoke Monster from Lost, or anything else.
- It is actually possible to kill the Strange Man. Just shoot him before triggering the cut scene. Doing so, however, will fail the mission. (You can however, kill him after the mission is over, this can be however be counted as a bug and non canon due to him being a simple NPC (Non-Playable-Character) and in the cutscene he appears invincible.
- Before your first encounter with the Strange Man, he is standing at the edge of a cliff in Hennigan's Stead, and can be pushed off this cliff which kills him instantly.
- If you point a gun at him, he can pull out a Cattleman Revolver and shoot and kill the player. Or he may run away while yelling at John.
- There is what appears to be a picture of him hanging in John and Abigail's bedroom at Beecher's Hope, as well as directly over Jack's bed and above the piano in the living room. Using a sniper rifle or the binoculars allows for a closer examination.
- After the first encounter with him, players can point a gun at him and he will start to run. Lasso and hogtie him but he will continue to talk. He also keeps talking as if the situation were normal (as if he were still standing at the edge of the cliff perfectly fine). However, pointing a gun at him is considered a crime and civilians will attempt to alert law enforcement.
- There is a rumor speculating that the strange man may be the ghost of Jack Swift from Red Dead Revolver. They both say they were accountants, dress the same, look similar, and have the same type of moustache. Although Jack Swift was an Englishman and Stranger has no English accent, Jack Swift also used dual revolvers.
- The strange man's appearence is very similar to that of Hoodoo Brown from the video game GUN.
- What appears to be the strange man may appear in the cutscene when you say goodbye to MacDougal at the train station during "The Prodigal Son Returns (To Yale)", he is sitting on a bench behind the player, however he disappears as the cutscene finishes, however he does not always appear.
- It is rumored that he is seen in Undead Nightmare.
- He could be a reference to the Men in black legends, according to which strange men in black suits would appear to random people when something paranormal occurs, and these men would know everything about the people they encounter.
- During the final encounter he stands near John's soon to be grave and calls it a "fine spot".
- The Strange Man is the only character John meets in all three regions of the map.
To see the cutscenes of the I Know You stranger side mision follow this link: