Red Dead Redemption 2's most heinous moments

Let's not pull any punches. The Old West was a rough and tumble place that the long arm of the law didn't always reach. What ruled instead was the sort of justice administered, if not by two fists, then by the barrel of a gun. And if you happened to run with a gang? Well, that went double.

And in Red Dead Redemption 2, you do just that.

As a member of the Van der Linde gang, you see all sorts of things you can't forget in Red Dead Redemption 2. The sorts of atrocious acts that make it hard to sleep at night, or leave you wondering who to trust. You see your comrades fall. You see innocent people slaughtered. You see allies turn. And, sometimes, you're not just watching these events unfold. Sometimes, you're the one pulling the trigger.

Below, we've collected some of the more memorably monstrous scenes in Red Dead Redemption 2. But be warned: there are spoilers. If you haven't played the game, or if you haven't yet wrapped things up, you might see some things you'll wish you hadn't, too.

These are Red Dead Redemption 2's most heinous moments.

Arthur beating down Mr. Downes

In the early hours of Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur Morgan doesn't exactly make the best first impression. He has no qualms about backing up Dutch and his feud with the O'Driscolls. He takes no issue with carrying out heists. And when gang member Leopold Strauss asks Arthur to head out and collect on a debt, Arthur mounts his horse and gets to it.

Who knew that someone else's debt would end up costing Arthur so much. But that's karma, we suppose.

Arthur rode up to the Downes homestead and laid quite the beating on Thomas Downes, the man who owed Strauss money. The assault was honestly hard to watch. Downes was clearly very ill, and Arthur's fists certainly didn't help matters. At one point, Downes coughed blood into Arthur's face, and Arthur was clearly disgusted with both the man's condition and his inability to pay his debt. After sending his message, Arthur rode away and left Downes on the ground, beaten and broken.

We find out later that Thomas Downes died from whatever it was that ailed him. And thanks to the yin and the yang of the universe (and the blood Mr. Downes coughed up), it seems that same illness is also what got Arthur in the end.

Finding the serial killer's work

You may be one of several cold-blooded killers in the Van der Linde gang, but there's someone in the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 who is taking things a lot further than you and your crew are. There's a serial killer loose, and should you happen upon some of the clues he leaves spread about, you can eventually track him down and make him pay.

But wow, this serial killer leaves some really grisly clues.

All around the land in Red Dead Redemption 2, you have the opportunity to stumble upon sloppily removed legs, heads stuck to railroad posts, and maps from someone who is just begging to be chased. In fact, the serial killer leaves a message for whoever discovers the head on the railroad post, asking the unfortunate soul, "Look upon my works."

With the law on your tail, O'Driscoll gang members ready to shoot you down on sight, and all the other trouble you have to deal with in Red Dead 2, the serial killer's clues can strike some fear into your heart. Because in spite of everything there is to be concerned with, it turns out that there might be something even worse out there.

Sean's death in Rhodes

Dutch always said he had a plan. But in Rhodes, where Dutch and the gang were attempting to play the Braithwaite and Gray families against one another, his so-called plan wound up costing gang member Sean MacGuire his life.

The crew strode into Rhodes on a mission. It seemed the Grays, who ran the law in the town, wanted the Van der Linde gang to help with a little protection from the Braithwaites. Unbeknownst to the gang, though, the Braithwaites and Grays had figured out that the gang was sowing additional chaos between the two families, hoping to drum up some additional bloodlust. The Grays ambushed the Van der Linde crew, with Sean taking a fatal shot — one that put an enormous hole in his head.

The gang eventually killed all of the Grays in town. But Sean, who Arthur had saved from custody earlier, paid the ultimate price. And he wouldn't be the first member of the Van der Linde squad who suffered as things inevitably headed into a tailspin.

Dutch paying back Mrs. Braithwaite

The Van der Linde gang barely had time to mourn the loss of Sean. After the shootout in Rhodes where Sean lost his life, the group returned to camp to discover that John Marston's son, Jack, had been kidnapped by the Braithwaite family. Dutch vowed to get the boy back, and the crew mounted up once more and headed to Braithwaite Manor.

It was there that you could see Dutch start to lose himself a little bit.

After a battle with the Braithwaites, Dutch and the gang entered the manor and killed everyone breathing as they made their way upstairs. It was there they found Mrs. Braithwaite, howling in grief that so many of her family members had been murdered. Dutch demanded to know where Jack had been taken, but not before killing one more of Mrs. Braithwaite's sons right in front of her.

And when he finally got the information he wanted, Dutch dragged Mrs. Braithwaite down the stairs by her hair and put her in front of Braithwaite Manor, where he left her to watch it burn to the ground.

Kieran losing his head

Kieran Duffy took a different path to joining Dutch and Arthur than other members of the Van der Linde gang. Kieran once rode with the O'Driscolls, and in fact, was present during a Van der Linde attack on an O'Driscoll camp. He saved Arthur's life by shooting a fellow O'Driscoll, and, over time, worked his way into becoming a tried-and-true member of the Van der Lindes.

That is, until he went missing one day. Not many people seemed to notice. But they were certainly paying attention when he arrived back at Shady Belle. He trotted back into camp with his severed head in his hands. His eyes had also been gouged out somewhere along the way. It was then that the Van der Linde crew knew trouble was afoot.

The O'Driscolls ambushed the camp shortly after. It seems that Kieran had been kidnapped by the group and tortured until he gave up the location of the Van der Linde camp. The gang successfully fended off the O'Driscolls, further thinning their rivals out. But the gang had lost yet another member to yet another gruesome death.

Angelo Bronte taking a swim

When the Braithwaite family kidnapped Marston's son, Jack, they didn't keep him. Instead, they handed him over to Angelo Bronte, an Italian criminal living the good life in Saint Denis. The Van der Linde gang of course goes after him, but upon meeting Bronte, he and Dutch immediately hit it off. It seems that Bronte essentially runs Saint Denis, and Dutch gets the impression that Bronte will help them with some information about potential heists in the city.

But things went south when Dutch, Arthur, and the rest of the crew try to rob a train station. It appears the law was tipped off. And Angelo Bronte was behind it. He'd set them up.

Things didn't go so well for Bronte after that. The Van der Linde gang attacked his compound in Saint Denis, killing all of Bronte's henchmen and kidnapping Bronte himself. And after Bronte insulted Dutch on the gang's getaway boat, Dutch lost his temper.

He drowned Angelo Bronte in the swamp. And then he fed his dead body to an alligator.

Dutch bailing on Arthur

Over the course of Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur became more and more disillusioned with Dutch as both a leader and a friend. He regularly saw Dutch lose his temper, making rash decisions that had negative consequences for the gang. And still, Dutch continued to put members of the gang in danger, promising that he had some grand "plan" that only he could understand.

Arthur remained loyal. But things started to unravel when Dutch and Arthur helped the people of the Wapiti tribe go to war against the army.

Arthur didn't agree with the move, believing Dutch was simply using the Wapiti's anger for his own ends. Dutch grew more and more angry with Arthur, taking his disapproval as disloyalty. And, finally, Dutch's true colors began to show when the army captured Arthur. Dutch had every opportunity to help the man who'd been his most loyal follower. Instead, Dutch walked away, seemingly leaving Arthur to die. To borrow a phrase from many of the Telltale games, Arthur would remember that.

Micah killing Miss Grimshaw

Things finally came to a head amidst the gang's members late in the game, after Arthur discovered that the reason they were having so much trouble with the law was because the gang had a mole. And that mole was Micah, who'd been working for quite a while to drive a wedge between Dutch and Arthur.

Arthur and Micah drew on each other, as each tried to convince Dutch that the other was lying. Somewhere along the way, Miss Grimshaw took Arthur's side and also drew on Micah. Then Javier ran into camp to warn everyone that the Pinkertons were on the way.

And Micah used the distraction to take his gun off of Arthur and shoot Miss Grimshaw instead.

What sticks out about this particular killing is how cowardly it was. When given the opportunity, Micah didn't choose to shoot Arthur. Instead, he shot a woman who'd lowered her gun and wasn't even paying attention. It showed exactly what a snake Micah was and, frankly, had always been. And Dutch's indifference to Miss Grimshaw's death confirmed what Arthur had finally come around to knowing: that Dutch was only in it for himself.

Micah murdering Arthur

There are a few different ways Red Dead Redemption 2 can end, depending on the decisions made by players throughout the course of the game. Red Dead 2 has what's called an Honor System, which keeps track of all of the good you do and all of the bad you do. And if you're a real bastard throughout your time in the game, you can get a less sunny send-off for Arthur Morgan.

One that, again, paints Micah as the world's biggest coward.

If you reach the end of the game with Low Honor, and you choose to help John Marston escape the gang so he can start a new life, you'll wind up in a side-of-a-mountain fist fight with Micah. Arthur will be in terrible shape at that point, and you'll eventually reach a point where Arthur just can't fight anymore.

Dutch will arrive on the scene and tell you and Micah to stop fighting. Arthur will try again to convince Dutch that Micah was the mole. Micah will try again to convince Dutch that isn't the case. Dutch will walk away, not sure who to believe.

And then Micah will stumble over and shoot Arthur in the face. So long, Arthur.

Willard Wayne meeting his end

After Arthur's journey in Red Dead Redemption 2 came to an end, players took control of John Marston, who left behind his bandit ways in search of a better life for his partner, Abigail, and his son, Jack. But as much as he tried, John had trouble completely putting his old life behind him. After taking up a gun against Abigail's wishes, he returns home to find she's gone. John decided then that he had to do more to change.

He moved away from the ranch he'd been working on and set out to build his own ranch. Along the way, he found Charles and Uncle, two former gang members who also hoped to leave the outlaw life behind. Together, all three set out to build a brand new home on property that John had purchased.

Unfortunately, John's ambition had a gruesome casualty.

A hired gun named Willard Wayne was hired by Charles to protect John's home materials, which were being transported by wagon caravan. But when the caravan was ambushed by a group called the Skinner Brothers — a group known for torture — Wayne got separated from the group. After the Skinner Brothers were cleared out, John and Charles eventually found Mr. Wayne.

Pinned to a tree with an axe in his head. Very much dead.

Uncle's kidnapping and torture

After working tirelessly over the course of several days, John, Charles, and Uncle eventually finished building John's new ranch home. And for the first time in John's life, he had something he'd worked for. Something he'd gotten through legitimate means. The three celebrated the achievement by singing, dancing, and drinking the night away.

But when John and Charles woke up the next morning, Uncle was nowhere to be found.

John and Charles tracked Uncle into the woods, where they made a disturbing discovery: Uncle had been kidnapped by what remained of the Skinner Brothers gang. He was strapped up above an open flame. His back was badly burned. And his chest was sliced in a few locations. He was clearly being tortured by the Skinners — and soon, they came back to discover that John and Charles had joined the party.

The two men freed Uncle, fighting off Skinner Brothers as they all made an escape. Eventually they made it back to John's ranch, but Uncle had scars that would probably last for the rest of his life.

The overkilling of Micah

John Marston was never going to be an outlaw again. He was going to take a better path in life. Unless he someday discovered where Micah was hiding.

Toward the end of Red Dead Redemption 2's final epilogue, someday came. Micah had holed himself up in the Grizzlies, where he was hiding from the law. So John, Charles, and Sadie Adler saddled up and went north to end his life.

The three battled up the mountains, killing plenty of Micah's men along the way. By the end, both Charles and Sadie had been wounded. John had discovered Micah's cabin. And soon, John and Micah were face to face.

Then Dutch emerged from Micah's cabin.

No one can speak to what exactly motivated Dutch's actions after that. When faced with the decision of shooting John or shooting Micah, Dutch shot Micah. And that left the player, as John, wide open to shoot as many bullets as humanly possible into Micah's head, leaving a gaping hole in the side of his face.

Was it overkill? Perhaps. But it's hard to deny that Micah had it coming.