Spoilers Ahead

In season 5 finale of The Mentalist, we saw Red John delivering a CD to Patrick. The CD contains a video that was created 2 months back. In the video Lorelei read a message from Red John, saying he knew what would be the short list of Patrick regarding Red John. At that initial moment the suspect pool was comprised of 1437 names. And in that moment Red John recorded that video with only 7 names predicting the short list. In the season finale we saw that was accurate.

Obvious question is how? I thought in the final revenge scene it would be revealed. So in season 6 episode 8 when finally Patrick found Red John, Red John mentioned the list.

Red John: You still don't know how I fooled you ? Do you?


Red John: How I got the names of your list ?

But Patrick didn't ask how. Then just before final confrontation Red John talked about the list again.

Red John: I'll tell you how I got the name of your list.

Patrick: I don't care.

Red John: I knew because I have psychic...

Patrick: Shhhh...

Why on Earth did Patrick not want to know? My theory is: writers & creators of the show couldn't find a suitable way to explain that Red John could have known the list of 1437 people whom Patrick shook hand with and predicted a short list of 7 people. So they just avoided the topic.

Or am I missing something? Did they ever mentioned how that was done? Or was Red John a psychic ?

  • 1
    It might be somehow connected to Kristina Frye, who claimed to be a real psychic and was kidnapped by Red John. But her story was never continued. Many questions left unanswered. I would assume that Patrick Jane made that connection, but didn't want to know more as it could only hurt him more. He just wanted to get over with it and move on. Whatsoever, i don't think you're missing anything, writers simply didn't do good job. I dislike how they finished Red John's story. He was weak and begging for not to be killed. Seriously? You develop such a powerful character and end him like that? Pff.
    – user22531
    Nov 23, 2015 at 14:55
  • Exactly. I am also very disappointed with final Red John. It had to be Volker or Stiles :) I'm not Pattrick Jane. I want my answerssss. How he predicted the list !!!!!! (Kristina can't predict future,she only can talk to dead. )
    – AtanuCSE
    Nov 23, 2015 at 15:29
  • There was that bit about Red John's followers having the three dots on the shoulder, and IIRC, when the list was down to 3 or 4, Jane got them all together and forced them to show him their shoulders, whereupon we saw that ALL 4 had the dots. Maybe all 7 of the "shortlist" suspects were part of Red John's cult, and therefore ti was very easy for RJ to name them off.
    – Steve-O
    Nov 15, 2016 at 5:44
  • @Steve-O that can't be true, in that episode where they are all together, some exposed their shoulders and didn't have the dots. May 4, 2017 at 13:48

7 Answers 7


Reddit user Rainer_Unfug has a theory. It's best you go read the whole (long) post:

To make things simple: Red John used a simple trick – he forced PJ to end up with these particular seven suspects. It took me a long time to figure out why these seven men but I came to the conclusion that he had to blend in with them.

  • Interesting. But speculation. And unrealistic to force suspect list from 1437 to 7. But plausible. (Y) Lets see if some official answer came up.
    – AtanuCSE
    Nov 23, 2015 at 15:58
  • 1
    @AtanuCSE Don't expect one. IIRC Heller has dismissed such requests in the past, saying it isn't important. Remember that they didn't decide who was going to be RJ for a long while.
    – BCdotWEB
    Nov 23, 2015 at 16:25
  • Yeah he doesn't know either ;-)
    – AtanuCSE
    Nov 23, 2015 at 16:31

Here's my in-universe theory.

There were 7 names on Jane's final list. Knowing that Red John knew Jane very well (very similar to himself), let's go over each name.

  1. Bret Stiles - The head of Visualize. He claimed to know Red John and provided Jane with information leading to a present Red John left for him. He's very smart, persuasive, and has an affection for Jane.

  2. Gale Bertram - The head of the CBI had previously been on Jane's list of Red John accomplices. Jane knew he could be deceitful and his position made it easy for Red John to keep tabs on Jane.

  3. Robert Kirkland - A less moralistic version of Jane. That matches up with the similarities between Red John and Jane. And Jane knew her murdered the Red John accomplice at the hospital. He was smarter than he let others know.

  4. Reede Smith - This FBI agent is the one that has me stumped. He had a superiority complex and repressed aggression, which might lend to the addition. But, he never seemed disciplined enough.

  5. Ray Haffner - He was friends with Bret Stiles, determined, and who allowed Jane to dupe him repeatedly into getting Jane back working with Lisbon and the team. He was able to easily keep secrets and seemed to always know what was going on.

  6. Bret Partridge - CBI's forensic expert who lowkey fangirled over Red John. He knew details very well, had a respectful animosity towards Jane. He also raised suspicions by failing to notice a Red John copycat.

  7. Tom McAllister - aka the Sheriff. Aka Red John. He knew Jane well enough to know he'd be Jane's radar.

The biggest challenge to the trick is why nobody else? Part of this is luck. Part is educated guesses. And part is simply knowing Jane. First, Red John likely put a list together of who Jane could suspect. Given how extensive the Blake Organization was, I expect Red John kept a list of everyone who has popped up as potentially being him. After all, he doesn't want a situation to come up where he's the only one on a list that meets all the criteria.

Second, Red John had access to nearly all the information Jane did about the case. That information was very extensive and narrowed the list considerably. Jane put it at under five hundred.

Third, Red John has had an interest in Jane since murdering his family. Once Jane knew he met and shook hands with Red John, the number of potential suspects was going to dwindle a lot.

Fourth, everyone on Jane's list was likely looked at as a potential candidate to join the Blake Organization. Meaning, Red John had already looked them over. He saw in them similar traits to himself and Jane.

Last, after getting those 7 names, even Red John found that nobody else met enough criteria to be included.


In season 5 episode 13, we are told his list contains some 408 names. 9 episodes later, we are told he has 7 names left. There were 3 episodes between the 408 names and Lorelei turning up dead, so it's fair to assume he had less that 408 at that point. Say he had a third less so maybe he is left with 264-ish.

Patrick is working on his list in a upstairs room of a police station run by a boss who is part of the Blake Association and god knows how many others. A few hidden cameras would show anyone watching what his list contains so RJ would know the 264 names.

When Lorelei is told to read the names, she pauses at the end of each. When she reads the names she reads 264 names not 7. By episode 22, Jane has 7 names by watching the cameras, and so does RJ; then it's just a case of getting someone to cut the names together and make the video.

The makers didn't have a way to explain RJ knew but this is the way it would work. In fact, Patrick was sleeping upstairs so they didn't even need many cameras, just one, and as soon as he is asleep, pump sleeping gas into his room enter, take and copy the list, and leave.


I think when Kirkland made a copy of Jane's visual board then maybe one of the FBI agents working for Red John would have sent same copies to red John. Remember the two men who broke into Jane's room!


Red John probably had the list of names because, as creepy as it sounds, he probably had someone watching Patrick at almost all times, we know the Blake Association had many members across law enforcement, several of them within CBI who would have been able to report back to Red John about Patrick.

For example, after his wife's death, Red John either put up surveillance around Patrick or had an associate somewhere nearby, then when he joins the CBI as a consultant it is likely someone within the Blake Association was watching Jane, and we also know Homeland/FBI had been watching Patrick from the start; so it is likely they were reporting to Red John, Patrick could have been watched at crime scenes etc by members of the coroner, for example, Brett Partridge.

Also, Red John would probably have complied a list of people who he could frame for being Red John, just in case things went south (we know this is something Red John might do because he tried it with Timothy Carter & Gale Bertram). So all he had to do was gather the list of people who could be Red John and cut the list with each clue he knows Patrick discovers.


Just a few episodes before, some guys working for Red John's man inside Homeland Security broke into Jane's room. They got inside the building by pretending to fix the AC that was broken (mentioned in the episode). They took videos and photos of Jane's work so the inside man knew everything. Pretty sure he reported it to Red John so that's how he ended up having that list. Psychics aren't real.


I have seen The Mentalist Recently, I have a theory about how Red John knew the all 7 suspects with all the exact number of hand shakes Jane did.

"Red Jhon's had connections in CBI, so he was spying on Jane already in his Room where he was investigating his suspects after Lorelai told him about Hand shakes through hidden Camera. So, The video which RJ sent to Jane, was not created 2 months before, it was recent but , it was not Lorelai, it was duplicate of hers."

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