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Arthur Morgan's Origin Story

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
The protagonist of Red Dead Redemption 2 leaves a lot of his decisions up to the play, but he is still a character, so what is Arthur Morgan's history? Join us for everything we know about Arthur Morgan's background.

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Arthur Morgan Origin (Red Dead Redemption 2)

John Marston was an outstanding protagonist in his own right when he helmed the first “Red Dead Redemption” in 2010, but while the latest prequel sheds light on John’s past, new leading man Arthur Morgan’s becomes just as elusive. Frustratingly slippery, we aren’t presented with too much information about Arthur up-front, instead initially seeing him the way he sees himself: as Dutch’s right-hand man, and little else besides. Despite this, as Arthur’s tragic redemption begins the cracks in his secretive exterior begin to show, finally giving players the much-needed backstory to one of Rockstar’s strongest ever characters.

Arthur was born in 1863. While he’s reluctant to mention his parents at all, instead viewing Dutch and Hosea as his parental role models and his biological parents as more shortly-lived placeholders, we learn that they were called Beatrice and Lyle Morgan and originally emigrated to the United States from Wales in the United Kingdom. Early on in Arthur’s life his mother passed away, and he clearly didn’t have a good relationship with his father. Lyle Morgan was a two-bit outlaw and petty criminal, eventually getting arrested when Arthur was just eleven for larceny – which he was eventually convicted for. It’s unclear how Lyle actually passed away, but if you complete the “Of Men and Angels” side story before the peace negotiation main mission, he’ll confesses to Sister Calderón that he watched his father die, and it couldn’t come “soon enough” This could really mean anything – that his father was hanged for his crimes, that he died of a long illness, or even that Arthur himself had something to do with his death since Arthur is, at the beginning of the game, a cold-blooded killer.

We may not know exactly when his father died, but we do know that it was in roughly 1878, when Arthur was just fifteen, that he happened across Dutch van der Linde and Hosea Matthews, who became the new patriarchs in his life. Brought up on Dutch’s socialist world view, Arthur becomes one of the Van der Linde Gang’s oldest members and founders. We also know Dutch and Hosea met at some point earlier in the same decade, meaning he really has been there since the beginning. Arthur whole-heartedly believes in Dutch’s philosophies of being free from the restraints of law and civilization, craving an escape from the modernity which slowly sweeps the landscape of the Old West, and is loyal to a fault. Dutch makes Arthur’s standing in his eyes clear early on in the game, when he says that as long as he has Arthur and Hosea by his side, he knows that the gang will be alright.

After falling in with Dutch, Arthur is presented with a chance to leave his life of crime through Mary Gillis, known to us in the game by her married name Mary Linton. While we lack the exact timeline of when they fell in love, they certainly did, in spite of Arthur’s lifestyle. They were even engaged at one point, and it was Mary’s engagement ring – which she returns to Arthur during the events of “RDR 2” – which is eventually given to John Marston, and its the same ring John uses to propose to and ultimately marry Abigail Roberts. Oh and Quick Side-note: The reason why John looks more formal in this scene is because we wanted to make him look good for his big moment with Abigail. Can you blame us?

The other obstacle facing Arthur and Mary was her father’s disapproval of him, which eventually led to them calling off the engagement, breaking Arthur’s heart. Prior to the events of the game, Mary marries another man and takes the name “Linton”, though Mr. Linton dies of pneumonia and leaves her a widow.

Mary wasn’t the only girl Arthur ever cared for, however, as at some point after that he met a waitress named Eliza and she became pregnant. While she knew Arthur couldn’t leave his outlaw life, he still decided to do right by her and his son, Isaac, as best he could, stopping by to visit them regularly and also contributing financially. But when Isaac was still young, robbers murdered him and Eliza. SB [1:02 “And all for $10] This is when Arthur became truly hardened and learned how cruel and unfair life could be. It was the murder of his son which made Arthur into the ruthless man we meet at the beginning of the second game.

Eventually, Arthur’s dedication to his role as Dutch’s top enforcer and one of the gang’s most violent members leads him to Blackwater, where the gang’s luck finally turns rotten. The chaotic, botched ferry heist sets in motion the events of both games, and the gang never recover from what happened in the small city. We don’t know exactly what went down on the ferry heist, just that it all went south after Dutch shot another member of the gang, Heidi McCourt, in the head for unknown reasons, and the ensuing violence was so extreme the incident eventually became known as the Blackwater Massacre of 1899.

As well as Heidi, various other gang members also died or got captured, and even John came close to death after going missing and getting attacked by wolves – which is how he got his trademark scar. But Arthur wasn’t present at the massacre, meaning that like us he’s left wondering what really happened to cause the initial fractures in the Van der Linde Gang.

“Red Dead Redemption II” officially opens with the gang fleeing across the Grizzly Mountains in the middle of a snowstorm, on the lam and struggling to survive since they had to leave all their money behind in Blackwater. From that point onwards, we have the continuing stories of every major gang member all the way up until Jack Marston gets revenge on Agent Ross in the epilogue of the first game. It’s only fitting that one of the best stories ever told in video games should have one of the greatest main characters of all time, and it’s only by understanding Arthur’s past that you can eventually understand his future, playing through it day by day.


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