Rust Cohle

Rust Cohle

    True Detective Season 1
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living... in Lousiana, alone, in a tiny apartment with no decorations. He doesn’t need to hang anything up – his job is his life. He fills the room with enough smoke from enough cigarettes that you wouldn’t be able to see pictures on the wall, anyway.

Profession... police detective. But it’s more than just a profession for Rust; it’s everything to him. He wants justice for victims and he has a big hole in his soul that he can only fill with his all-consuming work. He works with his partner Marty to tackle a series of murders, but it ends up setting them on a journey that they might not be able to escape from.

Interests… work, the strange ways of the universe, and finding inner peace. For Rust, they’re all the same. He throws himself into his job to an extent that’s flat-out unhealthy. When Rust takes on a case, he lives that case, even when it ruins what few elements of a social life he has in his typically solitary existence.  

Relationship Status... single, but he might have a thing for Marty’s wife, Maggie. He’s got a weird way of showing it, though. He shows up to dinner at their house drunk and proceeds to tell the horrifying story of his young daughter’s death from years ago.

Challenge... tracking down the serial killer wreaking havoc in Louisiana. And more importantly, doing it without losing his mind. He sees visions of flocks of birds making strange shapes in the sky. He can’t sleep, and reads book after book about sex crimes. He ends up in Alaska for eight years, living in solitude, but he just can’t shut off the detective part of his brain. He comes back to Louisiana to finish the investigation, but he does so as a very different man.                                                                               

Personality... an obsessive seeker of meaning. His idea of small talk is, “We are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self, a secretion of sensory experience and feeling programmed with total assurance that we are each a somebody, when in fact, everybody’s a nobody.” Easy to see why he can’t keep a normal friendship going very long.


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