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Red John was the main villain around which the TV show The Mentalist revolved for five and a half seasons. I kinda expected it to go on until the end of the show, or at least until the end of some season, which is how TV shows usually deal with this kind of story arcs.

Is there some specific in- or out-of-show's-universe reason why was this resolved mid season, followed by the huge change in setting (FBI in Austin, TX, instead of CBI in Sacramento, CA) and changes in casting (Wayne Rigsby and Grace Van Pelt being replaced by Dennis Abbott and Kim Fischer)?

It almost feels as if they expected the show to be discontinued then, but I could find no info on that being the case, nor on any other reasons.

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Here are a few answers from an interview with Bruno Heller, creator of the show

  • Why was now the right time to have the confrontation between Patrick Jane and Red John?

HELLER: Very early on in the first season, there were people saying, “Are you going to find Red John at the end of the first year or second year?” It’s a question that people have been asking, and we have been asking ourselves in the writers’ room, from very early on. There was no functional, formal protocol moment, where we said, “Okay, when this happens, we will set about closing off that chapter.” It’s like a marriage, or any kind of partnership. How long is Red John driving the story forward, and at what point does it become an anchor? It just seemed like this was the right time. Ultimately, that’s a subjective choice. It just seemed like, from a storytelling point of view and from the audience’s point of view, it was time to move the story forward. The best way to move the story, in a way that would be exciting to the audience, was to move it forward much faster than they thought we were going to move it. The natural thing to do would be to work it to the end of a season, but then all of those plot points become much more predictable and pro forma. This way, you get a bit of the surprise and the unpredictability of the real events happening. So, that was the thinking there.

  • How concerned are you about whether The Mentalist can live without Red John?

HELLER: I’m not really concerned. If it can’t, then that’s what happens. It felt very much to all of us like that chapter of the story was done. Frankly, I think the great asset and value of the show is in Baker’s head and what he does. Red John never even physically appeared, as a character, until the last episode. He was a feeling in the show and an objective, but in terms of the moment by moment pleasures of the show, those are delivered by Simon Baker and his people, not by Red John. So, I don’t know, but I don’t mind. I think it’s gonna be a great show after Red John. It’s up to the audience to decide, if they like it or not.

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    Thank you. Btw, Red John did appear once or twice before. I recall when Jane was to be sacrificed by some crazy kids in theatre, Red John killed them and approached Patrick. We didn't see who it was, of course, but he "physically appeared, as a character". – Vedran Šego Mar 5 '17 at 9:49
  • SPOILER and of course the episodes where Sheriff McAllister appears earlier: S01 E02, S06 E02, E03, E06 and finally E08 – a tiger Mar 29 '17 at 14:39

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