Spoilers for Red Dead Redemption II Below

Why I Prefer the Worst Ending in Red Dead Redemption II

The conclusion to Arthur Morgan's character arc can end in primarily two different ways. Arthur can die attempting to steal from Dutch or he can die ensuring John Marston escapes to see his family again. Now I want to preface this by saying, I LOVE John Marston. But in the end, I went for the money. Greedy? Selfish you might think? I think not. And I'll explain why I honestly prefer the "money" ending over the other option.

Near the end of the game, Arthur talks about needing a "vacation" to some place dry out West, like California. Because it's his best chance at surviving his terminal illness. Of course, to do this, he'll need all the money he can get. But honestly I think the money symbolizes much more. You have to think about all of this from Arthur's perspective. His entire life, money was the goal. It was the focal point for his life as an outlaw. Every heist, every person he's robbed money has been the key. This is also something Dutch makes clear in the actual story of Red Dead Redemption II. Dutch himself, blindly pursues money in the false hope that it can grant him and his gang members protection from a world that has left the wild west behind.

When I decided that Arthur should go for the money. It wasn't for the literal money. No, Arthur is a dead man walking at this point and he knows it. He'll die of his illness sooner than later. No, Arthur goes back for the money. Because he is an outlaw. Not a monster. As the Van der Linde gang was torn apart, Dutch became a monster instead of the heroic outlaw everyone thought he was. But not Arthur, even with all of the horrible things Arthur Morgan did, he was never a monster. He never killed without reason, he was raised to be an outlaw. And so I find it fitting that he dies an outlaw.

Arthur goes back for the money because it was the thing that Dutch had promised them since the very beginning of the game. Arthur going back for the money isn't a "selfish" or "greedy" thing to do. Because like I said before, it isn't about the literal money itself. It's what the money represents. It represents a reward for all the suffering Arthur and the rest of the gang went through. And honestly, Arthur dying for it. Is more fitting in my opinion.

I do like the "good" ending in which Arthur sacrifices himself to protect John. But I do slightly feel like it's more or less in spirit, the same ending we got in Red Dead Redemption. Personally I find it much more interesting and poetic that Arthur would instead die because of the lifestyle he's lived his entire life rather then deciding to protect John. At the end of the day, Arthur Morgan wasn't a good man. He wasn't "redeemed" but what Arthur Morgan was....was an outlaw. An outlaw of the old west. And unlike Dutch, he stayed true to his criminal code.

Because I went for the money. John and Charles Smith later reflected on this choice during the Epilogue. I don't remember the exact conversation. But John brings up the fact that Arthur went for the money, to which Charles says something along the lines of "I think all that was left in him was hope." This is exactly my sentiment. The money represented hope. It represented a goal that Arthur Morgan was always told he should get to. And as the Van der Linde gang fell apart, the idea that Arthur Morgan would still go for it and die for it. Is poetic and strangely beautiful in a morally complex way that I feel the other ending isn't.

Anyway, that's just my two cents.

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