It ain't about the money, Marshal. These are people's lives. People's homes!
A Victim

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit is the eleventh mission in Red Dead Redemption.

To view the mission tree, see:

Main article: Missions in Redemption/Tree


Leigh Johnson asks John Marston to help in silencing a group of outlaws who have been terrorizing a town. They form a posse of Marston, Marshal Johnson, Eli, Jonah and Dell Hopkins and ride out towards Ridgewood Farm.


Mission Prerequisites

Before this mission becomes available, the player must complete:

Mission Details

The player will start off outside the Sheriff's office. After getting details of the player's mission, the player must mount their horse and ride with the Marshal and his men. As the posse nears the farm, they notice vultures flying high above. After investigating two campsites filled with bodies (make sure not to hang around the campsites too long or the player will fall behind), the posse rounds up at Ridgewood Farm. The group searches the area for any signs of life, and afterwards Marshal Johnson calls the posse to the barn, hoping to find either survivors or bandits inside.

After the Marshal, deputies and Marston find a horrific display of blood, slaughtered animals and even a stripped body hanging from the rafters, a young girl runs out of the barn, explaining that the bandits are holed up inside the Ridgewood Farmhouse in the middle of the ranch. As the posse then heads towards the house to investigate, bandits pour out and a gunfight ensues.

The group then dispatches all of the bandits and heads inside, watching carefully around the doorways and walls as Marston makes his way upstairs to save the few remaining survivors. The player is able to save a couple before they face up against a bandit using a woman as a human shield. This shot must be just right and executed quickly, or else the bandit will shoot her in the head and the player will be forced to restart the mission.

After the violence, the survivors are rounded up and questioned for answers about more bandits. The hostages notify the Marshal of the location of a group of bandits, and the posse sets out in pursuit. Deputy Eli mentions that this looks to be the work of Williamson's gang.

After catching up with the bandits, a cutscene takes place showing Bill Williamson and John Marston talking once again. This time, however, Williamson runs away, sending his gang and right hand man Norman Deek to finish the job. The posse takes cover in a broken-down shack called Mercer Station while fending off the bandits. After two waves of bandits, the mission will end with a cutscene showing Norman Deek getting caught.

Mission Dialogues

Main article: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit/dialogues

Mission Failure

The mission will fail if the player:

  • Assaults or kills Marshal Johnson, Deputy Eli or Deputy Jonah.
  • Assaults or kills Marshal Johnson's, Deputy Eli's or Deputy Jonah's horse.
  • Abandons Marshal Johnson and the deputies.
  • Assaults or kills the hostages.
  • Let's any hostages get killed.
  • Strays too far from the mission location.
  • Breaks the law.
  • Kills a dog.
  • Commits vandalism.
  • Assaults or kills townsfolk.
  • Dies.

Gold Medal Objectives

  • Fastest Time: 6:50
  • Shot Accuracy: 60%
  • Number of Headshots: 15

Mission Complete Unlockables


  • During the mission, the player will receive a Winchester Repeater if they have not purchased or obtained one already.
  • It is possible to skip having to even go inside the farm house. After the barn encounter, shoot all the bandits who come outside on the front porch as soon as there's only a few dots left, run around the left side of the house around to the back, and the player can shoot the bandits that are upstairs through the windows.
  • There is another mission later on in the game called "Spare the Love, Spoil the Child".
    • This mission and "Spare the Love, Spoil the Child" are title parodies of the idiom "spare the rod, spoil the child", which indicates that discipline is necessary for good upbringing; the idiom itself is also derived from the Bible verse in the Book of Proverbs 13:24.
  • If "Jenny's Faith" has not already been completed, Jenny will be seen at the rock where she is laying.
  • Eli can be seen drinking Nigel West Dickens' Elixir before leaving Marshal Johnson's office.
  • A naked, castrated man can be seen hanged in the barn. Another nudity scene can be found in the mission "The Gates of El Presidio", where Reyes is having sex with a woman.
  • The place the bandits burned down is possibly Mercer Station. It's the closest burnt-down place to Ridgewood Farm. Coincidentally, it is also used for cover during the final shooting with Bill Williamson's men.
  • This is one of the few ways to obtain the Winchester Repeater for free; another being clearing out Tumbleweed (the sheriff there must survive in order for this to happen).
  • The woman who scolds Marshal Johnson after the shootout will come back in Undead Nightmare as the mother of Millicent Waterbury.
  • The screenshot shown for this mission is one of the earliest released by Rockstar. The screenshot shows Marston wearing the Legend of the West Outfit with a Bolt Action Rifle on his back. Neither the outfit, nor the weapon, are obtainable at this point in the game. (Unless the player uses cheats).
  • If the player's horse doesn't have a saddle, (this may be due to being recently broken before the mission) it will not travel to you when whistled. It acknowledges the whistle with a standard throw-back of the head (as well as the 'Player's Mount' icon appearing on the mini-map) but doesn't travel towards you. The unsaddled horse will also move around during the events of the mission, not staying where automatically placed by the game for the player.
  • During the sequence in which the player gallops beside Marshall Johnson and his deputies towards Mercer Station, a glitch may occur in which while the player and deputies' horses transition into a gallop, the Marshall's doesn't. It increases in speed along with the other horses, but the Quarter Horse remains in the canter animation. The glitch has been confirmed to occur on both the PS3 version, and strangely the Xbox One version, despite an occurrence of this currently absent on X360 version.
  • During the cutscene after the examination of the first ambushed campsite, if the player's horse is unsaddled, the player's horse during the cutscene will be equipped with a black and grey NPC saddle, rather than Marston's signature brown and tan leather one. The same will also occur during the cutscenes in which the player, Marshall Johnson and the deputies confront Williamson on the hillside.
  • Parked alongside the first ambushed campsite is a unique carriage, only seen in this mission. It is shorter in length and width than other carriage or wagon in the game. It appears to be taller than any other too, as well as having a unique cover arrangement to sustain it's odd appearance. The carriage/wagon also appears as if it can be driven by a maximum of two horses, despite only a carcass of a single horse being located in front of it. This may also suggest that it can also be led by a single horse, which only the carts of the game can do.
  • During the shootout at Mercer Station, Williamson's gang ambushes you. Despite Norman Deek being a semi-critical plot point, he isn't one of the attackers on horseback - like the mission suggests. This is probably due to the fact that the player is free to dispatch the attackers in any means available, and so if Norman Deek was an attacking NPC, and the player shot him in the head multiple times for example, it would be extremely unlikely he would survive and have enough strength to crawl.
  • In the second to last cutscene of the mission, in which Williamson commands his men to attack you, a member of his gang can been seen sitting atop a Kentucky Saddler. This is unusual, considering the only natural instances of NPC ridden Kentucky Saddlers are located around Manzanita Post. Despite appearing in the cutscene, the Kentucky Saddler isn't one of the ambushing horses either.


Video Walkthroughs


Completing this mission contributes toward the following Trophy/Achievement:

100 gamerscoregamerscore
Gold goldgold
Attain 100% List in the singleplayer game completion list.
Red Dead Redemption mission walkthroughs
New Austin Chapter
"Exodus in America""New Friends, Old Problems""Obstacles in Our Path""This is Armadillo, USA""Women and Cattle""Wild Horses, Tamed Passions""A Tempest Looms""The Burning"
"Political Realities in Armadillo""Justice in Pike's Basin""Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit""Hanging Bonnie MacFarlane""The Assault on Fort Mercer"
"Old Swindler Blues""You Shall Not Give False Testimony, Except for Profit""Liars, Cheats and Other Proud Americans""Can a Swindler Change His Spots?""The Sport of Kings, and Liars"
"Exhuming and Other Fine Hobbies""A Gentle Drive with Friends""Let the Dead Bury Their Dead"
"A Frenchman, a Welshman and an Irishman""Man is Born Unto Trouble""On Shaky's Ground""We Shall Be Together in Paradise"
New AustinNuevo ParaisoWest ElizabethMarston RanchRemember My Family
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.