The Mentalist: Who is Red John?

With The Mentalist’s fifth season concluded, and a big secret revealed, it’s about time that we look and see who could possibly be the feared serial killer, Red John. In the end, though, it is ultimately up to series creator, Bruno Heller to tell us who is the murderer of Patrick Jane’s family.

Throughout the series, fans have created theory’s involving Jane being Red John, or his partner Agent Lisbon. Series creator, Bruno Heller has said that Red John is one of the seven listed, meaning neither Jane nor Lisbon are the culprit. Now it’s time to determine who, out of the seven, could be Red John.

7. Reede Smith

ReedeSmithPossibly the most surprising name on the list, Reede Smith was introduced in the season five premiere. Since then, he hasn’t appeared in any other episodes. His poor temper, especially towards Jane, makes him a likely suspect. His first name, Reede, is also very similar to ‘red’.

Smith didn’t make much of an impact in his only episode and didn’t leave many clues to if he was Red John. He also didn’t leave many clues to disprove the fact, either. Though, he doesn’t seem like someone that can control their anger well, which would make him unlikely for Red John. He will most likely be the first name crossed off the list.

Chances of being Red John: 40%

6. Gale Bertram

Gale BertramThis name didn’t come to much of a surprise. As head of the California Bureau of Investigation, Gale Bertram seems to love power, and winning. Red John has bragged about constantly being one step ahead of Jane and Bertram has been seen as overly invested in casual games of poker. He has never been fond of Patrick Jane, to the point where he tried to prosecute Jane to the full extent after Jane murdered a man believed to be Red John.

Despite this, Bertram has never indicated that he is highly intelligent and he appears to fear Jane, which would seem unreasonable if Bertram was Jane’s arch-nemesis. The fear lies mostly in the fact that Jane does whatever he wants, without care for the consequences. This is likely a fear the Red John does not share. His late introduction, like many on the list, also brings doubt to the possibility of them being Red John.

Chances of being Red John: 45% 

5. Sheriff Thomas McAllister

Thomas McAllisterThis is also a surprising name as McAllister only appeared in one episode. Like Reede Smith, there is very little to prove, or disprove, that the sheriff is Red John. It has been confirmed that Sheriff McAllister will return for season six, which might mean that he will be disproved as Red John or the character will be given a larger role.

The biggest problem with him being Red John is his age. Red John is most likely between the age of 35 to 50. Xander Berekley, who plays McAllister, is 57, but he does look older.

Chances of being Red John: 50%

4. Bret Stiles

BrettstilesBeing the leader of the cult, Visualize, his relationship with Patrick Jane has been rocky. Bret Stiles has been able to brainwash a large community of people and his intelligence matches Jane. In many ways, he is just like Red John. They both like Jane, but are no where near friends, and Stiles has gathered followers in a way similar to Red John’s disciples.

There are a few issues with Stiles, though, his heightened age being the most prominent. It’s hard to imagine a man closing in on 70 years being able to murder the amount of people that he did. One could argue that he receives help from his followers, but a rebuttal would be that Jane would easily find discrepancies between the crime scenes if that were the case. While suspected by Jane since their first meeting, he has doubted Stiles brutality. In one episode, Jane said that Stiles “wouldn’t hurt a fly”.

Chances of being Red John: 60%

3. Ray Haffner

HaffnerFirst introduced in the episode Little Red Book, we, the audience, are immediately led to dislike Ray Haffner. In his next appearance, we not only find out that he is a member of Visualize, but he might have been at the camp where the first Red Smiley was painted. These two facts, along with his age, make it likely that he is in someway connected to Red John.

There isn’t much to say that could disprove the fact that he might be Red John, but this has led to fan speculation that he is just a red herring. The only trait against him is that he appears far too strong, which differs from what characters who have met Red John have claimed about him. It would make sense for him to be a red herring because he fits all the requirements to be Red John a little too perfectly.

Chances of being Red John: 70%

2. Robert Kirkland

Robert KirklandRobert Kirkland, since his introduction, has been working in the shadows to destroy Patrick Jane. Kirkland has performed ruthless acts to find out just how far Jane is to solving the mystery of Red John. This means that Kirkland is either close to Red John or he is Red John.

The biggest argument against him being Red John is that Lorelei Martins, the one who told Jane that he had met Red John, was in prison when the two men met. His late addition into the series could also mean that he too is just a red herring, meant to draw the audience’s attention while one of the other candidates float by undetected. Oddly enough, extras resembling Kirkland have been spotted since the first season, but that is most likely just a coincidence.

Chances of being Red John: 75%

1. Brett Partridge

Brett_Partridge_2Introduced in the pilot, Brett Partridge has appeared throughout the series as a forensic investigator. It’s hard to imagine Bruno Heller would keep writing the character into episodes if he wasn’t Red John. People have spent a lot of time looking for ways to prove he is the dreaded serial killer.

First, in the episode The Red Sky of Morning, Red John recites a poem to Jane. Comparing the two men’s voices, Partridge and Red John, leads one to notice similarities in tone. Red John’s voice is muffled, but it is still a close match. The character Rosalind Harker described Red John as a normal looking man, neither strong nor weak, with straight hair. That matches Partridge for the most part.

One might argue that due to the amount of interaction with Partridge, Jane would have been able to figure out if he were really the murderer of Jane’s wife and daughter. While this might be true, Red John is a master showman, and this could be merely an act. Ms. Martins also said that she was surprised that Jane and Red John didn’t become fast friends when they first met. In the pilot, the two men bicker because Partridge argues that the crime scene is the result of Red John. The bickering has continued, but the two have always remained relatively civil towards one another.

Chances of being Red John: 85%

Out of the seven, Haffner, Kirkland and Partridge seem to be the likely suspects due to their personal relationships with Jane and how they act around him. Bruno Heller has said that the sixth season will be like a chase, with Jane searching for Red John. This leads one to suspect that the list might be cut down to half by the season’s end. One can only anticipate that Red John will be reveal sometime around season seven, making it one of the longer mysteries in TV history.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. AlohaSpirit

    Very nice job of evaluation!

  2. My “comment” is that this Red John mystery has gone on FAR TOO LONG. Bruno Heller and his team have stretched the charade for an intolerably lengthy period, five TV seasons going on 6, with no end in sight. Of course we know WHY Bruno does this: to keep the audience on the hook so that he and his “minions” can keep on drawing those six-figur salaries till kingdom come.

    I have no intention of aiding Bruno in the waiting game he is trying to foist on the American public. I was an eager supporter of “The Mentalist” for the first three seasons, and when Jane shot “Red John” in the mall at the end of those seasons, I felt satisfied.

    But just look: Bruno and his greedy bastards keep on saying, “Oh, that’s not the real Red John, there’s more to the story.”

    Not for me there isn’t. The Mentalist is now OFF my DVR queue and I will not watch it again.

    • I think the band aid should have been ripped off sooner in terms of revealing Red John. Few shows can successfully keep a mystery going as long as The Mentalist has. The story has at times bored me, but I honestly have nothing to watch on Sundays.

      Thank you so much for your comment.

  3. Partridge of course.

    • Honestly, I remember turning to my brother during the pilot and saying, that dude is Red John. I think many of the people thought that though. He’s one of the few where I would be happy to see be Red John.

  4. dilferkilmer

    Watch the season 1 finale where Cho and Risby go into the gas station to look at the video to see who bought Rosiland the elephant. A man walks in behind them and he looks a lot like Reede Smith (of course he looks a little like a fat Bob Kirkland too). I think Reede Smith is an underrated suspect and will either be red john or a close associate.

  5. I thought Agent Cho could of been Red John, he seemed like someone who was sharp enough mentally to get away with it and I remember it was quite a long time before they gave him his own episode (where one of his former gang member/friend/brother dies and he goes to investigate) before that episode I had the impression that his understated character was probably not given much of the spotlight in order to take attention away from him. But then with that episode mentioned above, including the ones that followed focused attention on his love life, which really helped to humanized him a lot more. For that reason I don’t think it could be him, I can’t see Red John as someone who has the capacity for compassion, something Cho shows often, though perhaps not initially.

    Gale Bertram I recall recited poetry by William Blake in one episode (can’t recall) but I think that’s likely to be a Red Herring.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Red John wasn’t just one person, my best guess is that Bret Stiles might be the brains behind it while a visualize hitman probably does the actual dirty work. He seems to be smart enough to pull it off, at the same time I think Stiles & Jane are too friendly.. so I’d dismiss that seeing as Red John has to be someone who is not Jane’s friend.

    It has to be someone rich.

  6. I think the mentalist has managed to keep the enigma of Red John interesting in an effective way so far. I don’t think this will conclude in a way where the audience has managed to outsmart the writer by figuring it before its intended to be. That’s what keeps it so fresh, before we as an audience have a chance to reach a comfort level in Jane’s progress, something gets turned upside down and the game changes.

    The best stories however know when to end.

    • While writing this, I was surprised at how many solid theories there are. Some believe that Partridge is actually Stiles son and other strange sounding ones. The oddest thing, though, is there’s always sound arguments for them.

      My biggest fear with The Mentalist is that Heller doesn’t end it soon enough. It’s a feat within itself that he’s kept so many enthralled with this mystery, but the time will soon come when the majority stops caring.

      • What I found with a show like Lost was that they also hooked you in with an enigma. But I never stuck with the series because I felt as if they were really always stringing you along to the next engima while rarely having a moment where theres a payoff for following the story. There was always a sense that perhaps they were not giving enough answers then maybe they should of done.

        I think The Mentalist so far has managed to keep a balance here without stretching it. At the end of the day I think as a viewer of the show I have to ask myself, what do I really want to see. The identity of Red John and his real story, or do I want to see Jane get his revenge. I think the following series will make an effort towards unraveling the mystery, while the final series focuses on how Jane finally catches him.

        I really believe that just because Jane finds out who Red John is, doesn’t necceserily mean he will end him or bring him to justice, I think it leads into another story, a story that’s like a chase where Red John no longer has a place (or name) to hide behind.

      • How would you feel if the series took a super natural turn? they have alluded to it in the past but then pass it off as being a trick of mentalism or a matter of science (drugs) etc.

        • I would be thrown off by a supernatural turn, but I wouldn’t be angry. It would be extremely weird, though.

          • How would you account for Red John targeting a happy memory? (trying to avoid spoilers so I hope you catch my meaning regarding the last episode of the season) He’s either a ghost or Bret Stiles really is Jane’s father and has managed to mind read him somehow… or its Jane himself. Red John has to be a rich Mentalist or the devil (judging by how some fear him)cant wait for the next season.

  7. Personally I don’t think it’s going to be any of them, I think it’s going to be Smiths partner…but good article!

  8. Jane knew that Kirkland had seen his work in the attic and know his suspects etc. so the list could very well be a ruse Jane is using. at this point, i think he knows who red john is.
    Jane was put in a psychiatric hospital after his nervous breakdown and could easily have told his shrink about his childhood during those sessions and since Red John seems to be everywhere he could have accessed this information that way. I don’t see any supernatural angle coming into play as both RJ and Patrick have expressed their lack of belief in the supernatural. Red john may have similar “training” on carnival circuit and is mentalist of sorts like Jane

  9. hanklaz

    I think the list is a bluff… Krystina Frye has to be included at least as a very close person to RJ. And without a single doubt in my mind ALL of 7 persons from that list are part of the plot. But what about Lynus Wagner, Sophie Miller, Walter Mashburn…??? I will be around to watch how Bruno Heller and his writers try to shape something they have allowed to get further it must have gone… My main suspicious characters: Bertram, Dr. Lynus Wagner and McCallister… Partridge? Just a right arm of RJ… I apologize for my english. I’m from Venezuela and just trying to do my best…

  10. red john is: thomas mcallister, sure at 100%

  11. Minor tick of mine in the article: the percentages in the article, regarding the probability of being Red John didn’t add up to 100%.

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