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People don't forget. Nothing gets forgiven.

John Marston

John Marston is a central character and the main protagonist of Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare.

With the addition of the Liars and Cheats DLC pack, John Marston is also a multiplayer character model that may be selected in the "Redemption" section of the Outfitter.

With the addition of the Undead Nightmare DLC pack, an Undead version of him, known as Zombie Marston, is a Multiplayer character model that may be selected in the "Zombies" section of the Outfitter.


John Marston was born in 1873. His father was an illiterate Scottish immigrant, while his mother was a prostitute who passed away during John's birth. John's father was once blinded in both eyes during a bar fight in south of Chicago.

In 1881, John's father died of unknown causes, thought to be through drinking or illness. John was only eight years old at the time and was sent to an orphanage where he lived until 1890. There, he (possibly) met his future wife, Abigail, with whom he promptly ran away. John was seventeen years old at the time. Both later joined Dutch van der Linde's gang, where Dutch took care of the growing and maturing John, teaching him how to read, gather, shoot, and the ways of the world.

Early career

John Marston was an outlaw gang member and gunslinger. He ran with Dutch van der Linde, Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella, committing robberies, raids, murders, and other crimes across the frontier. According to Marston, the gang stole and fought for a reason. In stealing from the rich and those who were given too much to give to the poor, they wanted to elicit change in the people of the West, although this might just be his own justification for their actions.

In 1906, after being shot in a failed robbery and left to die by Bill Williamson and his other former comrades in arms, Marston sought to retire from outlaw lifestyle. Putting his history behind him, he left his old life along with his wife Abigail, their young son Jack and his daughter (who is implied by Javier Escuella in The Gates of El Presidio to have still been alive at this time), and purchased a ranch in Beecher's Hope. Between his abandonment of the gang and the beginning of the game in 1911, Marston had a daughter, but she died of an unknown cause.

Despite Marston's apparent reformation, he remains a masterful and experienced gunman, marksman, rider and hunter. Marston is a rugged survivalist and knows life as a fight for survival; he adheres to the old-fashioned West in a world rapidly experiencing the advancements of modernized American lifestyle.

Red Dead Redemption

The old American West is being tamed by encroaching technological advances such as railroads, telegram offices and stronger law enforcement. The federal government creates the Bureau of Investigation to aid in the process and puts Edgar Ross in charge of the western region. One of the Bureau's major goals is to rid the region of all of the savage gangs running wild and unchallenged, especially that of Bill Williamson and Dutch van der Linde. Ross decides to use an ex-associate of Williamson's to hunt him down: former outlaw John Marston. By kidnapping John's wife and son, Ross forces him to comply. Thus, John is forced to roam the frontier once again to save his family, and to get his slice of the American dream.

New Austin

After leaving the region to get his details on his large task, John arrives by the Blackwater ferry "Morningstar" and is escorted by Edgar Ross and Archer Fordham through the town of Blackwater, then sent off by train to Armadillo. Once there, John is led by a middle aged guide named Jake to the walls of Fort Mercer, the main hideout of the Williamson gang. In confronting his old friend, Marston tries to reason with Williamson in giving up peacefully, but this only results in a rifle bullet in his lower right torso from one of his outlaws.

In the early morning, Bonnie MacFarlane and her ranch hand Amos find John left unconsious at the side of the trail and takes him to Nathaniel Johnston's doctor office in the nearby settlement Armadillo. After treating his wounds, Bonnie provides John with lodging, food and drink, on condition he helps her around the ranch.

John works off his debt of $15 and his life to Bonnie and her father Drew MacFarlane by doing various ranch jobs such as nightwatching, cattle herding and horse taming. However, Williamson finds out that John has survived and is staying at the MacFarlane Ranch, and orders his gang to set the barn on fire. John bravely rescues the trapped horses and Bonnie promises to give John some cattle when he settles on his ranch again.

After helping US Marshal Leigh Johnson clean up Armadillo and the surrounding country side of some outlaws, John and the Marshal begin to plan an assault on the fort. To gather a posse, John works with snake oil salesman Nigel West Dickens, dysfunctional and cowardly alcoholic Irish, and psychotic treasure hunter Seth Briars. However, their plans of assault are temporarily delayed when they save Bonnie from some of Williamson's men from beatings and death. After heroically saving Bonnie, John and his allies carry out a full-blown assault on Fort Mercer, using a "Trojan Horse" strategy by sneaking John and a gatling gun inside the fort with Dickens' sales wagon for hiding. West Dickens gives them a flamboyant lecture about what was inside his "miracle" wagon. John then pops out and kills most of the outlaws while assaulting the fort. However, after the battle, the crew discovers that Williamson had fled the previous morning and went into hiding in the Mexican province of Nuevo Paraiso with Javier Escuella.

Nuevo Paraiso

Irish escorts John south of the border to the Mexican province, Nuevo Paraiso, where he meets the region's corrupt and evil provisional governor named Colonel Allende and his ruthless subordinate right-hand man Captain De Santa. He is forced to work for them to gain information on Williamson and Escuella. At the same time, John runs into the aging famed gunslinger Landon Ricketts who teaches him new gunfighting skills, and commits raids on the Mexican Army. Marston also aids Abraham Reyes and Luisa Fortuna, two lover revolutionaries working to overthrow Allende and their president, General Sanchez, with numerous revolutionary attacks. He attempts to extract any information possible from both Allende and Reyes regarding the whereabouts of Williamson and Escuella.

Allende and the Mexican law enforcement however, aware of John's loyalties, betray John, and has his men attempt to kill him. However, Reyes and his rebels arrive in time and rescue John before he is executed. John then sides with Reyes and joins the revolution. After killing Captain de Santa and participating in an attack on El Presidio (which leads to the capture/kill of Escuela), Marston and the rebels lead a full blown attack on Allende's villa. Unfortunately, Luisa is gunned down by Allende's men. John and Reyes successfully manage to kill Allende and Williamson, who was seeking shelter and protection from the Mexican Army. Reyes and his rebels take over the villa and plan on marching to Mexico's capital, fighting for revolution. John heads back to Blackwater in America to meet with Edgar Ross again.

West Elizabeth

Though his business with Williamson and Escuella were over, Ross tells him that he still needs to kill Dutch van der Linde, former leader of John's old gang, or he will continue keep his family in captivity. John, along with Ross, Archer Fordham and other Bureau Agents meet in several fights across West Elizabeth against Van Der Linde and his gang of Natives, but he escapes capture or death every time. Marston also works with incompetent Yale Professor Harold MacDougal and Native-American informant Nastas in tracking Dutch down. Eventually, John and the Bureau join the US Army in ambushing Dutch's hideout. He confronts Dutch himself, who warns John that the government will always find a new "monster" to justify their pay. Rather than dying or being taken captive by John's hand, Dutch chooses to commit suicide by falling from a cliff.

After the raid, John is released by the government and finally reunites with his family at their ranch in Beecher's Hope. He settles down with his wife Abigail and sixteen year old son Jack, along with old family-friend Uncle, and attempts to return to a crime-free life as a farmer and rancher with his family.

However, as per Dutch's warning, Edgar double-crosses John. He, along with the Bureau and US Army, launches an attack on the Marston ranch. Uncle is killed during the gunfight, while John and son continue holding off the attack. John tells Abigail and Jack to run while he stays behind in the barn to defend them. Knowing that the chances of survival for John were slim, Abigail and John seal their love with a passionate kiss before riding off. But in reality, he realizes that the only way to save his family from the government's crosshairs is to lay down his life so they can be free.

John sacrifices himself in a last-stand against Ross and his men. After exiting the barn calmly and standing before a large firing-squad, he draws his pistol and takes out as many men as he can until they open fire on him. Still standing, breathing harshly with multiple bullet wounds on his body, he drops his revolver, falls to his knees and then eventually collapses backwards to the ground. As Ross watches Marston dying, he callously lights a cigar and is clearly satisfied with knowing that the final member of Dutch's gang is dead. Ross and his men leave the ranch. Abigail and Jack, upon hearing the cease-fire, return to find John's body in a pool of blood. They bury him up on top of the hill overlooking the ranch, alongside Uncle. His grave is inscribed "Blessed are the Peacemakers."


John's death at the hands of Ross is a poetic end to his life. He sacrifices himself to save his family so they could lead a better life - the reason he sought redemption in the first place. By his death, he knew that Ross wouldn't persecute Abigail or Jack any longer, allowing them to start life fresh, allowing Jack the chance to grow up without the brutality and violence that shaped John's early life. Sadly, despite his father's sacrifice, Jack possibly still goes on to become an outlaw; he tracks down and kills Edgar Ross in revenge, without hesitation. The path to redemption, it seems, is a hard road to follow.

In 1914, three years after John was killed, Abigail dies from unknown causes. An older Jack, now a mirror image of his father, buries her body up on the hill next to John's grave. From then on, he is playable throughout the remainder of the game; retaining all of his father's weapons, clothes, money, horses, houses and fame/honor. The rest of Jack's life is shrouded in mystery.

Undead Nightmare

Note: The events of Undead Nightmare are not considered part of the same canon as Red Dead Redemption. The following description is therefore not contiguous with the preceding section on Red Dead Redemption.

West Elizabeth

In Undead Nightmare, John Marston, the protagonist, is in his house with his wife, Abigail Marston, and son, Jack Marston. They are all talking about general things, like a book Jack is reading, however they mention that Uncle hasn't returned from what he was doing yet. John states that because of the storm, Uncle has probably sheltered in a dry place nearby and will stay there until the storm subsides.

Uncle then arrives, hideous in appearance, and attempts to attack them. John heads to a nearby shed to grab his gun. When he returns, Uncle has bitten Abigail in the neck. John shoots Uncle in the head and tends to Abigail. Jack comes outside and tries to help his mother, but Abigail turns into an Undead because of the bite from Uncle and in turn she bites Jack, turning him undead as well. John then has to hogtie both of them, and after giving them both a plate of food, he leaves them in the house and sets out to find a cure.

John goes to Blackwater, where he finds Professor MacDougal, who returned from Yale to document the undead infestation. MacDougal is killed, however, and John is forced to clear out Blackwater and look for more survivors. He finds a family on a roof, killing the undead, however they are of no help. John finds another group of survivors, who give him various theories for how the plague started, including a "Snake oil merchant", and a "Freak with a glass eye".

If John goes to Tanner's Reach, he will meet a hunter who claims to have just shot a Sasquatch and makes him start The Birth of the Conservation Movement mission, which has John hunt Sasquatches. Eventually, John learns that his hunting has doomed the Sasquatches and the last one there asks John to kill him because his family is dead. John can choose to kill him or not.

New Austin

If John decides to follow the "Snake Oil Merchant" lead, he will find Nigel West Dickens in Fort Mercer, trying to sell his elixir as a cure and repellant to the plague. John however forces Nigel to stop selling it, and Nigel, though annoyed by Marston's interference, complies and hands out free samples to see if they like it. The elixir however is actually more of a bait, and the drinker is killed by zombies soon after drinking. Nigel is disappointed and asks John to retrieve ingredients to see if he can make a better cure. He also gives John some of the elixir to use as bait. After John returns with the ingredients, Nigel makes a Phosphorus Coating with it, and then asks John to find him some old parts he needs. After John finds the parts, Nigel uses them to make a Blunderbuss, telling John that it is the ideal weapon for zombie killing. He also tells John that he is trying to get to Mexico and should be in Solomon's Folly in a few days. At Solomon's Folly, John finds out that all paths to Mexico are blocked, and that Nigel has no way of getting to Mexico. However, Nigel tells John that if he gets a US Army uniform from some deserters, he can sneak on a train manned by the US Army that is headed to Mexico. Nigel goes off and John doesn't meet him again.

If John decides to follow the "Freak with a Glass Eye" lead, he will find Seth Briars in The Old Bacchus Place, playing cards with an undead Moses Forth. John asks Seth if there's a cure to the plague, and Seth tells him to clear the graveyards. After John clears out 3 graveyards and goes back to Seth, Seth tells him that the cause of all this has something to do with the Aztecs, "Or, or Incas" and tells him to head down for Mexico if he wants to cure the plague.

In MacFarlane's Ranch, John meets Bonnie MacFarlane, who tasks him with trying to find her father, Drew MacFarlane in the barn, although she tells him he has been in there for more than a day. John finds Drew in the barn, zombified. John is forced to kill Drew, and he goes to Bonnie and tells her what happened.

In Plainview, John finds D.S. MacKenna, who tells John to bring him a Retcher, because Mackenna desires to make a zombie movie, aimed at "The lowest common denominator". Once John does so, Mackenna sets it and another zombie loose, and they both proceed to attack Mackenna, who is turned into a zombie. John then can kill all three of them.

In Armadillo, John meets Marshal Leigh Johnson, and Johnson asks John to find Eli and Jonah, who have been missing for a few hours. John finds Eli eating Jonah, and they both attack John. John then has to kill them both, and tell Johnson the news. Johnson also gives John a Sawed-off Shotgun.

In Fort Mercer, John sees an Army Captain posting up a missing persons poster for Millicent Waterbury. The Captain asks John to find the girl, and John finds Millicent in Pleasance House, where zombies are trying to attack her. After John saves Millicent, they head back to Fort Mercer and the Captain thanks John and tells him that there are more missing persons if he wants to help them.

If John heads to the deserters, he finds them being attacked by zombies, he can either help them and earn the uniform, or steal it and suffer the consequences. After John obtains the uniform, he can head to the train, where he finds the US Army being lightly hassled by zombies. After John helps them clear it out, the train heads to the border. At the border, the captain tells them all to get off and clear the roadblock. However, they are attacked by zombies and the US Army retreats, leaving John to kill the zombies. After he has dealt with them, John can man the train and smash through the roadblock into Mexico.

Nuevo Paraiso

In Nuevo Paraiso, John finds that Mexico is actually in worse shape than America, and he heads to Las Hermanas, where he meets the Mother Superior. She tells John that the other nuns are not as resourceful as her, and that he needs to head inside Las Hermanas and save the town. After doing so, Mother Superior thanks John and John asks her why the plague is happening. She tells John that she needs a normal Undead to really find out. After John brings her a normal Undead, Mother Superior tells John that she suspects evil, and she pours holy water on the zombie, who is briefly bathed in blue flame, but is not killed. She asks John if he can clear out the Sepulcro graveyard for her, and she gives him Holy Water. After he returns, Mother Superior tells him that a woman told her that the cause of all this is because of something Abraham Reyes has done. John is then tasked with heading to Escalera and finding out what's really causing all this.

In Casa Madrugada, John meets Landon Ricketts, who is busy ridding the town of zombies. Landon seems to be holding off all the zombies by himself, and Landon tells John that if he can find something that attracts the zombies, he can combine it with Dynamite and really kill the zombies quick. After John brings Landon Undead Bait and Dynamite, Landon combines them and makes Boom Bait, after handing it to John, they say farewells and John leaves.

In Escalera, John finds a woman, who tells him that Reyes is up ahead, John finds Reyes, however, he is zombified and is trying to kill a woman. After John kills Reyes, the woman tells John that the cause of all this is because Reyes' lust for invulnerability made him steal an ancient Aztec mask, and this is why the plague started. They take the mask to the crypt where Reyes found it, and after John places the mask back in the altar, the zombies are returned to normal and John heads home.


Upon heading back to Beecher's Hope, John finds that Abigail and Jack are fine, and they are happy again. A few months later, John is dead. In Escalera, Seth is shown stealing the ancient mask once again, causing the dead to rise again, including John Marston. However, as John was buried with Holy Water, he returns as an undead with a man's soul, allowing the player to still play as him.

Murders Committed

This listing only shows in-game kills. It does not include any of the murders John may have committed while still a member of Dutch's old gang. It also does not include any of the Banditos, Treasure Hunters, the Williamson Gang, Dutch's Gang, Federales, or the Reyes' Rebels he must kill to succeed in missions. It only lists notable characters killed by John.


Main article: John Marston Quotations. Quotes can be found in the link.

GOTY guidebook description

Our hero is a failed apostle. He is a man who fell in with Dutch van der Linde's vision, until he saw it become insane. And, he gave his former life up to become a farmer and a family man. John grew up in a rough orphanage and started stealing and killing when he was young. Dutch saved him from a hanging and educated the illiterate Marston. He taught him ethics and a love of nature, a belief in things other than violence- other than power. John never really believed he could escape his past, especially after the killing on the train, but spent three years trying. Now his past has returned in the form of a government agency that is hell bent on solving these murders and is prepared to use his family to do so. He is a man that human beings change, and that the world cannot be held up by one mans' dreams. He is both Van der Linde's greatest success, and his ultimate undoing.


Red Dead Redemption

  • As of 1911, John is 37 years old.
  • John height is 5'10
  •  John is a Hebrew name meaning "God Is Gracious".
  • Marston resembles Red Harlow with his similar scars and hat.
  • Despite saying that he is not a religious man, John mentions God, Heaven, and even Cain and Able in various situations. When Bonnie MacFarlane asks John if he is religious, he says "not in any real sense. I tell myself things happen for a reason..." claiming that he could be atheist or an agnostic theist.
  • John Marston frequently claims he is somewhat hopeless in his quest. This is exposed in the mission, "This is Armadillo, USA" when he is speaking to Bonnie MacFarlane.
  • John doesn't know how to swim, and will drown in deep waters, similar to many of the protagonists of Rockstar's earlier Grand Theft Auto games. He admits this to Irish during the mission "We Shall Be Together in Paradise".
  • John appears to have a less broad sense of imagination than his son, Jack. Jack is frequently seen in Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare reading a book, and John regarding how unrealistic his stories seem. However, some of them end up becoming true.
  • John is often associated with the city, even though he is a rancher.
  • John's parents' relationship with each other is left ambiguous. As his mother was a prostitute, John implied that his father was her pimp, but even then, he still struggled with what to label him.
  • Both John and Abigail were orphans, as Abigail claims she was in the mission, "Pestilence". It's said that they ran away from the orphanage together, but it is unclear who organized the plan and how they met Dutch van der Linde.
  • John's grave marker reads "Blessed are the peacemakers," signifying his long road to redemption and peace for his family in a lawless land.
  • "Blessed are the peacemakers" is a beatitude that was recorded in Matthew 5:9.
  • John is seen smoking cigarettes during cutscenes, after missions, and while watching a film in the cinema.
  • John is extremely polite to women. For example, John calls Bonnie MacFarlane "Miss MacFarlane," even after she has asked him to call her "Bonnie." He also does anything possible to keep women safe, even pistol-whipping Irish to defend two nuns he was holding up.
  • In contrast to his politeness to women, John is unafraid to take the moral high-ground when dealing with less than reputable characters, like Irish with his alcoholism and Nigel West Dickens with his swindling of gullible people.
  • It is left unexplained why John arrives in Blackwater aboard a steamboat if he resides in Beecher's Hope. It is probably because he was taken somewhere while his family was being kidnapped, and while he was on the boat, the details about his nearing exploit were explained to him. That is the assumed reason because there is no conversation when they get off the boat, they simply walk him to the train.
  • John makes mention of his deceased daughter a few times when discussing his family. Her name and the cause of her death are unknown.
  • Not promising to resolve the problem, John usually answers with "I'll see what I can do" to Strangers after hearing their situation.
  • Before the game came out, in the trailers, John looked much younger and thinner. So did Abigail. But, this was changed due to Jack being nearly a mature man.
  • John is very similar to Johnny Klebitz, the main protagonist from another Rockstar Games game, Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned. Both have a rough voice and background, both rode in a gang and both were betrayed by their gang's leader after they had gone insane and lost their ways. Both John Marston and Johnny Klebitz are blind in one eye. It should also be noted that the antagonists of the Lost and Damned and Red Dead Redemption are both named Bill. (Billy Grey and Bill Williamson). In fact, despite some minor differences, the only major differences is being nearly a century apart from one another and final outcomes are exactly opposite.
  • John seems to be one of the only men in the game that is loyal to his wife.
  • He, along with Leigh Johnson, Abraham Reyes, Luisa Fortuna, Bonnie MacFarlane, and Drew MacFarlane, sounded different during development. This can be heard here and here.
  • John seems to get angrier when someone mentions his wife's (Abigail Marston) past and not his own.
  • Although John is married to Abigail, niether of them wear wedding rings. The same goes for every married character in the game.
  • His son, Jack, gives him credit for many of his weapon-based talents. For example, when Jack shoots at enemies, he'll sometimes cry out "You taught me well, Pa." However, when John tries to teach Jack how to shoot a rifle in "Wolves, Dogs, and Sons" Jack demands that John leave him alone and that he can teach himself.
  • If one looks at the pictures of John with his former gang in the Gallery, he appears to be wearing the Legend of the West outfit.
  • John's hat appears to have Eagle Feathers on it.
  • John is #2 in Game Informer's "30 Characters who Defined a Decade" list in their December 2010 edition and is also #1 in Game Informer's "Top Ten Heroes" list.
  • If the player presses "O" (PS3) or "B" (360) while near Abigail, Jack, Uncle, or Amos, John will tip his hat, as usual, but he won't speak.
  • Marston is the first protagonist in a Rockstar game to be seen smoking a cigarette. This was followed by Michael in Grand Theft Auto V, as seen in its second trailer.
  • Judging from one of Marston's quotes, it is possible John lived in Illinois during his childhood years.
  • The fact that John is voiced by Rob Wiethoff, he sounds very similar to Johnny Klebitz, the protagonist from GTA TLAD, who was voiced by Scott Hill.

Undead Nightmare

  • In the beginning of Undead Nightmare, he seems oblivious to the fact of zombies, like when Uncle bursts in the door, Abigail screams while John just stands there bewildered.
  • After John Marston has been resurrected, living characters seem oblivious to the fact that he is now a zombie.
  • When Marston loots corpses as a zombie, he may sometimes laugh at their loss.
  • As a zombie, he can only wear three outfits, the Undead Cowboy Outfit, the Army of The Undead Outfit, and the Legend of The Undead Outfit. This may be due to the fact that Jack Marston has his hat and most of the outfits Marston gets has his signature hat. Of the 3 outfits none of them has his hat.
  • Zombie Marston is drastically weaker when it comes to explosives. If you detonate an explosive just barely in the range where the normal Marston would just stumble over, his head will be blown off.
  • Zombie Marston can take slightly more fall damage. With falls that would kill Marston, he instead will survive dramasticly low health. This does not effect deaths that occur when the players mounts dies and the player intsantly goes with it.
  • Zombie Marston walks and runs lopsided, but when he draws a weapon his stance returns to normal. Also, he walks and runs normally during Multiplayer.
  • Despite having no lips, oddly enough he can still whistle for his horse.
  • As per his affliction, other zombies will ignore Zombie Marston until he provokes them (walking too close, shooting them, having a torch out near them, etc.)
  • If you look at his head while he is wearing the Undead Cowboy Outfit, you will see what appears to be a bullet hole in his head above his right eye. However if you change to the Undead Hunter Outfit where he has no headgear, there will be no bullet wound.
  • When falling off of something after going ragdoll, he has a unique animation which gives him more of a shambling appearance.
  • He is seen on the front cover of Undead Nightmare, holding the Blunderbuss like holding the revolver on the cover of Red Dead Redemption.
  • His stance as an undead is the same as it was when he was shot and killed in "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed".
  • It is much easier to find the Chupacabra as Zombie Marston.


Main article: John Marston/Gallery

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