Few video game protagonists are as likable as Arthur Morgan. Despite his many transgressions, his story is very much a tragic one that’s carried forward by his inability and unwillingness to adapt to the changing times. As Mary so aptly puts it, there is a good man somewhere within him, but he’s wrestling with a giant. Sadly, the giant comes out on top more often than not.
This metaphorical giant is the embodiment of the evil which resides in Arthur and the insatiable greed that so often drives his actions. While he is capable of doing good when it suits him to do so, more often than not, he opts to fill the shoes of the villain instead.
10 He Murdered Hundreds Of People
Cheap though life may be in the world of Red Dead Redemption 2, this does not absolve Arthur of the many murders that he commits. He shoots up several towns, kills countless innocents and even butchers some cute little animals as well. Granted, the latter may not count as ‘people’, but that doesn’t make it any less despicable.
It’s important to note that the vast majority of the people that Arthur kills are lawmen who are simply doing their jobs. Arthur is a criminal, after all, and so can have few complaints about being hunted like one. Regardless of his motives and the circumstances that he’s facing, there’s just no moral justification for these killings.
9 He Broke Micah Out Of Jail
Micah Bell serves as Red Dead Redemption 2‘s main antagonist and is a truly deplorable man. He too is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, but, unlike Arthur, Micah seems to genuinely enjoy killing. Were it not for Arthur’s daring jailbreak though, many of his victims would have been sparred from their grizzly fates.
Arthur knows exactly who Micah is and exactly what he is capable of and yet agrees to break him out of jail regardless. As a result, the blood of all of Micah’s subsequent victims is just as much on Arthur’s hands as it is Micah’s. There’s a lot of it too, with half the town of Strawberry being shot up almost immediately after the jail’s wall is breached.
8 He Robbed Banks & Trains
Unlike Micah, Arthur fully understands the consequences of his actions and his willingness to repeatedly break the law to satisfy his own greed is the sign of a true villain rather than an uneducated psychopath. Those working in the trains and banks that he robs are innocent people and yet he subjects them to extreme violence nonetheless.
While it would certainly be easy to point out that many of the financial victims of these robberies are wealthy, Arthur is far from a Robin Hood type character. He gives none of his ill-gotten gains to the needy; instead opting to either pocket the cash or donate it to his gang to fund their future criminal activities.
7 He Strong-Armed The Downes Family
Throughout the game, it’s possible to take on a number of shylocking missions on behalf of Strauss and it is through these that players get to see the very worst of Arthur Morgan. They’re all pretty shocking, but none more so than his brutal and heartless interactions with the Downes family.
Thomas Downes is a charitable man who has fallen on hard times after contracting tuberculosis, but this doesn’t stop Arthur from mercilessly beating him to recover a debt. When Thomas succumbs to his illness a short while later, Arthur returns to the Downes household and demands payment from his widow instead. This ultimately forces her to turn to prostitution in order to support herself and her infant son.
Although Arthur does try to help Edith and Archie after learning of their fate, it does not come close to making up for what he did to their family. Likewise, Arthur’s journal entries about how he hates collecting debts mean very little given that he continues to do so long after writing them. If anything, him knowing that his actions are wrong and choosing to continue anyway makes them far, far worse.
6 He Corrupted Those Around Him
Sadie Adler was a well respected rancher before she met Arthur Morgan and yet, by the end of the game, she has transformed into a cold-blooded killer. While it’s true that her grief and anger played a big role in this, Arthur’s influence and the part that he played cannot be ignored.
Arthur knows the perils of the outlaw life better than most and yet he does very little to dissuade Sadie from embarking down the same path. He places her in danger on numerous occasions and seems hell-bent on helping her to unleash her anger on the O’Driscolls rather than dealing with her grief and moving on with her life.
5 He Disrespected The Environment
There’s nothing cool about littering, nor does it take particularly long to rinse out an empty can and throw it in the recycling bin. Unfortunately, however, Arthur seems far too preoccupied with being a bad ass criminal to even consider a more eco-friendly solution than simply dropping his litter on the ground.
The beautifully rendered environments found throughout the game make Arthur’s littering all the more egregious. While this may just be a sign of the times, the fact that there is so little trash strewn around Red Dead Redemption 2‘s many towns suggests that there is some sort of recycling initiative in place and that Arthur simply chooses to ignore it.
4 He Abused Mary’s Love
Arthur and Mary had a complicated history, but there’s a strong argument to be made that she knew him better than anyone. It’s perhaps for this reason that she decides to break off their relationship, although due to his selfishness, Arthur just isn’t willing to let her go. Initially, his refusal to give up on their love could perhaps be seen as romantic, but there comes a point when his actions become cruel.
Arthur knows exactly what he needs to do to be with Mary, but his reluctance to give up his criminal lifestyle to make it happen suggest that his love for her isn’t quite as strong as he claims. Rather than letting her go though, he instead bombards her with empty promises of ‘one day’ which prevents her from ever truly moving on.
3 He Cheated At The Grand Korrigan Poker Game
Compared to some of his other crimes, cheating at poker might not seem too bad. Given what happens afterwards, however, it’s definitely pretty high up on the list. As well as stealing Blythe’s priceless pocket watch and everything else in the riverboat’s safe, Arthur also murders the Pit Boss and several guards during his escape.
These men likely had families waiting for them at home and stealing the contents of the safe likely led to employees missing out on pay. The encounter also teaches us that the developer responsible for designing the Reutlinger watch isn’t a big fan of the Final Fantasy series; as evidenced by them mixing up the Roman numerals for VIII and XIII on the watch’s face. This is just one of many continuity errors in the game.
2 He Subjected A Criminal To An Inhumane Science Experiment
There are plenty of random encounters and Stranger missions that provide glimpses of Arthur’s villainous nature, but The Mercies of Knowledge is one of the most notable. After helping Professor Bell to acquire the moonshine for his experimental electric chair and then bribing a Police Chief to obtain a permit for its use, Arthur tracks down a wanted criminal on whom the device is eventually tested.
The game paints Wilson McDaniels as a truly disgusting man, but in lieu of a proper trial, it’s difficult to know whether or not he was actually guilty of the charges levied against him. Even if he was though, nobody deserves the kind of pain and torture that he is ultimately subjected to. Had things played out just a little differently, Arthur may well have learnt this lesson instead of Daniels.
1 He Enabled Dutch
Dutch van der Linde is one of the most interesting characters in the Red Dead series. He’s complex, cares deeply for his gang and even manages to come across as profound at times. Despite this, however, there can be no denying that Dutch is a bad person.
Much of what happens in Red Dead Redemption 2 does so at his behest, but his power and influence largely stem from Arthur’s support. Despite knowing that his actions are wrong though, Arthur blindly follows Dutch for most of his life and it’s through this blind devotion that Dutch is able to keep his gang together for as long as he does. Had Arthur simply stood up to his mentor, countless lives could have been saved; including, perhaps, his own.