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The Interesting Story Behind Red Dead Redemption 2's Susan Grimshaw

"Red Dead Redemption 2" is having a bit of a renaissance. After four years, it's officially become the 9th best-selling game of all time with 45 million copies sold. Its community was even passionate enough to hold a #RedDeadFuneral for "Red Dead Redemption Online," the online component of the game, after Rockstar announced it would end updates for it. 

Of course, the "Red Dead" protagonists are some of the most notable influences on players. Some of the side characters are more interesting than we give them credit for, though. Susan Grimshaw, the "mama bear" of the Van der Linde gang, is one such person. She might not be your most frequent mission partner, but she's tough as nails. The Van der Linde matriarch is someone you don't want to mess with, especially seeing how she criticizes and slaps members of the camp if you watch her for long enough.

Here are five facts that tell the interesting story behind Susan Grimshaw.

Susan takes time to grow on fans

Voice actor Kaili Vernoff hadn't played many video games at the time she auditioned for Susan Grimshaw. However, Grimshaw soon became one of the most unique roles she played. She credited this both to the fact there weren't a lot of "bada** middle-aged women" out there and also because Susan wasn't necessarily a likable character. 

In an interview with Forbes, Vernoff went into detail about her experience voicing the character. "Susan is a full-fledged member of the gang, knows her way around a shotgun, and is invaluable both in camp and on missions. But... she isn't necessarily likable off the bat," Vernoff told Forbes. "And that is what made her so flat-out FUN to play." 

Susan comes off as a mean, bitter woman in the beginning, especially with how critical she could be of other girls. Players only discover her more vulnerable side as the story goes on, especially with the protagonists like her ex-lover Dutch. As Vernoff explained, Susan loves her charges deeply and will do everything in her power to keep them from harm. 

"One of the most frequent things I hear from fans is that they hated Susan in the beginning of the game," Vernoff told Forbes. "But by the end they grew to love and even admire her. It's really gratifying to get feedback like that!" 

Susan might be strict with girls but she cares

Susan Grimshaw is strict, in general, but is known to be even stricter on the female members of the gang. In her eyes, even women need to earn their place or face her criticism. She physically abuses the girls, like when she slaps Karen in the face. She can even be seen arguing with Abigail Roberts, who was going to be married soon, about prostituting herself again for money to "sing for her supper." However, even though it might seem like plain misogyny on her part, she is also protective of the girls when the situation calls for it. While that doesn't justify the behavior, it does help explain it.

One of the most notable examples is Tilly Jackson, who Susan can be seen scolding in the early chapters of the story to "get ready" for work even though she didn't feel well. However, Susan jumps right into action when she hears that Tilly's been kidnapped. Arthur Morgan, one of the protagonists, points this out to her and she says that "of course" she cares about the lot of them. Later in the story, she also tells Tilly that she's "proud of her" and that she's grown into a "fine young woman."

She is Dutch van der Linde's ex-lover

Susan was one of the original members of the Van der Linde gang. Dutch van der Linde, who started the Van der Linde gang with fellow conman Hosea Matthews, was romantically involved with her around the time the gang was first established. They later broke up before Dutch met Annabelle. However, Susan doesn't seem to hold the past relationship with Dutch against him — it's just the backstory of how they met. The two of them remained on amicable terms, enough for her to become the matriarch of his gang. 

Her backstory with the gang has taught her how to fight, like how she does with her signature shotgun. It's also why she sees herself as one of the gang, even if she might not go adventuring like the protagonists. Arthur noted that the founder had a "soft spot" for his past lover, even if Dutch's later descent into madness proved otherwise. Susan shows respect and loyalty for Dutch, even during one of their arguments later in the story when she was apprehensive about the direction that the gang was moving. 

Susan forces Arthur to wash himself

Susan Grimshaw has a familial relationship with Arthur Morgan. The man was just 14 years old when he joined the Van der Linde gang, so it makes sense that he would be like family to her. In one memorable scene, she shows that more familiar and authentic side to her when she forces Arthur to wash himself with a water barrel. This moment only pops up if the player neglects to bathe him for a long enough time. 

Kaili Vernoff notes this as a moment that convinced her that "Red Dead Redemption" director Rod Edge might be one of the "finest" directors she's encountered.

"This scene can play out in a few different ways, but there is a playfulness between Arthur and Susan that is almost like a sibling relationship, but not quite. And it was clear that Rod knew exactly how that scene should feel and how important it was to get it just right," she said in an interview with Forbes.

Notably, Susan also tells Arthur during one mission that she thinks the lot of them would "rot in their own filth" if she weren't there to keep them in check.

Why fans love Susan Grimshaw

Susan Grimshaw can come off as an "old hag" that just screams at the other camp members. However, she shows how caring, loyal, and fierce she can be in later chapters. 

As one Redditor puts it, "Miss Grimshaw is one of the most underrated characters. She was basically a mother to everyone in the gang, and was extremely loyal, to the end." She stayed loyal to Dutch, the gang's leader, even when he was losing his mind and she questioned his decisions. She also proved to care about members of the gang like Tilly, even if players only saw her needlessly strict behavior toward girls in the beginning. In the end, she sided with Arthur when betrayal and the gang's fall seemed imminent. "For me, Miss Grimshaw is one of the best characters, she does not receive the necessary recognition, and her death was very revolting, because no one there showed remorse or sadness," the commenter elaborated. 

Many social media comments echo a similar sentiment: That she deserved better for her loyalty and dedication to the gang.