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Harold MacDougal

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This article is littered with spoilers, so I reckon you might ought'a mosey on down the road if you don't want to read any plot details.

The savage heart cannot be conventionally civilized! I was right all along!

Harold MacDougal

Professor Harold MacDougal is a major character featured in Red Dead Redemption.

With the addition of the Liars and Cheats DLC pack, Professor MacDougal is also a multiplayer character model that may be selected in the 'Damnation' section of the Outfitter.


MacDougal is on a sabbatical from Yale, writing a book on Native Americans and the last days of the Old West, and he is very much an East Coast turn-of-the-century man; although learned academically, he is demonstrably naive and smallminded, and his behavior towards the local Natives demonstrates his significant ignorance of their culture that allows for multiple displays of prejudice and bigotry. He is also largely incompetent in practical matters, most notably in quelling the Native tensions that turned many to violence and banditry in Dutch's Gang, a trait which draws disdain among his acquaintances including John Marston and Nastas.

While at Yale MacDougal was introduced to cocaine, a drug that he frequents and abuses throughout the campaign, which exacerbates his nervous personality. It has been speculated that his 'sabbatical' from Yale might have been forced as a result of cocaine addiction. He is an optimist who loves the American way of life and speaks in large metaphors at times. MacDougal serves as an archetypically ignorant and impotent academic whose 'book' intelligence is rendered useless in the environment of the Old West.


Red Dead Redemption

When John Marston and Archer Fordham retrieve Nastas from Dutch's trap at the Wreck of the Serendipity, they drop him off at Professor MacDougal's hotel room to recover. Edgar Ross then instructs Marston to pay him a visit later.

When John Marston visits MacDougal again, he finds him comparing blood samples of, in his opinion, the 'savage' Native Americans and the 'civilized' white man. After observing them, he is absolutely shocked to see that they are exactly the same. Nastas then enters, and MacDougal tries to communicate with sign language and metaphors, but Nastas responds to him by speaking in a perfectly normal manner. Nastas claims to know the location of Dutch van der Linde, and both Marston and MacDougal follow Nastas into Tall Trees, where MacDougal rides back to Blackwater, obviously frightened. After Marston gets knocked out, Nastas runs up the mountain and carries him back to MacDougal, where he revives him with smelling salts. MacDougal claims that he and Nastas carried Marston back, but after an angry glare, he reveals that he was not involved.

When John Marston encounters MacDougal again, Nastas arranges a meeting with Dutch's men at Bearclaw Camp. On the way, they encounter a Grizzly Bear, and MacDougal, horrified, shoots and makes the bear angry. When it attacks, Marston kills the bear before it could do any damage. Nastas then says that the Bear meant no harm and would not have attacked if MacDougal had not shot first. The meeting with Dutch does not go very well. Nastas is shot after being called a traitor. The professor cowers in fear as Marston fights Dutch's men, and the two of them escape back to Blackwater. During the escape trip, MacDougal is saddened that Nastas was killed, thinking he was "a brilliant savage companion".

Marston next finds him packing in a hurried state, repeatedly calling the natives "Fucking savages!", and aiming to take the next train back to Yale. Dutch van der Linde approaches his house from the street, telling John to send MacDougal outside they could show him their own method of 'Anthropology'. Marston and MacDougal escape via the rooftops, but Dutch has snipers all over the city. After a battle, Marston and MacDougal get on their horses and run full speed to the train station at Manzanita Post. Marston along the way kills any of Dutch's men trying to pursue them.

When they reached the station, MacDougal thanked Marston for his help. He shakes his hand but gives up and gives him a big hug before boarding the train. He is not seen again for the rest of the game.


MacDougal succeeded in returning to Yale University. In 1914, MacDougal is caught beating Professor Lionel Fortisque, a fellow scholar, on the head with a croquet mallet before climbing a building completely naked and demanding fine food and drink. He is in a drunken state and is then kicked out from the university. The newspaper article detailing this event emphasizes the "savagery" of the attack; an ironic choice of words, since MacDougal accuses Native Americans of being savages.

Undead Nightmare

Rdr macdougal undead nastas

MacDougal appears in the mission "Curious Tales from Blackwater". John Marston happens to cross over the professor while looking for survivors in the overrun town of Blackwater, to which MacDougal claims to have returned for "more research". Marston attempts to ascertain the nature of the plague through the professor, to which he replies he doesn't have "a fucking clue." Seeing as MacDougal is unarmed, John implores the frightened professor to stay with him, to which he agrees on the condition that Marston allows him to wander down a lonely, deserted road to get his bags, which he left with Nastas. As Nastas was killed in the original Redemption story, MacDougal is able to manage a few paces before being assaulted and devoured by the undead native. Marston has the choice to kill both of them afterwards. However, due to the presence of more Undead in the streets, it may be wiser to simply outrun them.

Mission Appearances

Red Dead Redemption

Undead Nightmare


You know, I dreamt of documenting the last days of the Old West. The romance, the honor, the nobility! But it turns out it's just people killing each other.
— 'Harold MacDougal'
I'm going to wander down that lonely, deserted street and get my bag.
— 'Harold MacDougal's' last words in Undead Nightmare
Well, sir, I'm a man of science, a man of great learning, a thinker, a wise man and I'll be honest with you, sir... I haven't got a fucking clue.
— 'Harold MacDougal' in Undead Nightmare
I don't want a bullet in my flippin' neck!
— 'Harold MacDougal'
Species don't die, they evolve. Hunting, in time, will make the buffalo stronger.
— 'Harold MacDougal'
I'm from Connecticut. I'm a professor at Yale! I write books! I do not deserve to die out here!
— 'Harold MacDougal'
Ah, but they'll give me a prize in New Haven for this. Well, they bloody better. Well...goodbye, Mr. Marston.
— 'Harold MacDougal'
Best of luck, dear friend.
— 'MacDougal's' last words to Marston


  • MacDougal is an exceedingly incompetent scholar, demonstrating a terribly inaccurate understanding of Natural Selection. MacDougal demonstrates his misunderstanding after noticing a Buffalo hunt. Nastas comments correctly that the Buffalo will be hunted to extinction if the westerners do not stop hunting at the rate they are. MacDougal responds "Species don't die, they evolve. Hunting, in time, will make the buffalo stronger."
  • While MacDougal is extremely bigoted and prejudiced against Native Americans in general, he does show some redeeming qualities in that he greatly respects Nastas, going so far as to publish a touching obituary for his faithful Indian friend after Nastas' death in the main storyline.
  • Later in the game, a newspaper talks about how he savagely attacked another man at Yale. It mentions a rumor that he apparently tried to get the groundskeeper to cut the top of his scalp off so he could see a living human brain.
  • MacDougal is a fairly realistic depiction of early pseudoscientific "arm chair" anthropology, as practiced by individuals such as Paolo Mantegazza. During the time period, the discipline saw an overhaul of the anthropological method by academics such as Franz Boas, E.B. Tylor and Bronislaw Malinowski.
  • MacDougal is a chronic cocaine addict, shown both by his outlook on it being "a wonderful way to relax the body and strengthen the mind", but mainly by the collection of injection marks on both of his forearms. He also takes some in the introduction cutscene for his final mission.
  • Oftentimes when Marston encounters MacDougal he is very jittery, a sign that he is under the influence of cocaine.
  • MacDougal is exceedingly bigoted, stereotyping all natives as "Savages." However, he is shown to be completely oblivious to this.
    • He also generalizes all Native Americans as Savages, which, needless to say, is false. On the way to the camp in For Purely Scientific Purposes, he starts to offend Nastas, saying that he "Dances to the rain and sacrifices deer to false idols". Nastas, however, shows only some aggression, even though MacDougal's entire conversation to the camp was completely offensive to Nastas.
  • He got into Yale and was discredited amongst his peers because he didn't understand evolution. He is unwilling to accept the "savages" as normal human beings despite taking blood samples when it turns out they were exactly the same according to his later tests.
  • MacDougal claims that cocaine "Restores the ego, and helps his thinking enormously". It is found in the last version of the Blackwater newspaper that while this is true, the drug has overwhelming effects if used chronically. This is most likely what led to his expulsion from Yale (also found in the last edition of the Blackwater paper).
  • Harold MacDougal seems to resemble Ken Rosenberg from the Grand Theft Auto Series. Both have "smart" jobs (Harold is a scientist, Ken is a lawyer), both act mad due to cocaine addictions, and both are friends of the protagonist.
  • It is also suggested he is an insomniac due to the cocaine, in one case mentioned he hasn't slept for days.
  • During Undead Nightmare, he may have jinxed himself minutes before meeting undead Nastas, by saying "I'm going to wander down that lonely, deserted street and get my bag." Something that is considered a stereotypical scene from a horror film just before that person is attacked (i.e. never say that you're going to get something or that you'll be back. Because you won't).
  • Through dialog in "Curious Tales from Blackwater", he states that he left his bags with Nastas. Nastas was killed before John went home to Beechers Hope, so that means MacDougal left his bags with an undead Nastas.


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