In season 2 of True Detective, in one of the early episodes

Collin Farrell's character gets shot twice with a shot gun. Once from across a room and once point blank in the chest. In the next episode however, he wakes up the next morning on the floor, gasping, and looks at his chest which is mostly just bruised.

How did he survive this? I imagine the shotgun was loaded with rock salt or something else meant to be non-lethal, but as far as I could tell it was never actually explained in the show. He simply gets bandaged up and has some bruised ribs for a while. Was there an explanation somewhere that I missed?

3 Answers 3


In episode 3 titled Maybe Tomorrow Ray explains to Bezzerides that he was shot by riot shells and points out they are the kind cops use

Bezzerides: You don't enter a scene without your partner... me

RAY: I didn't know it was a scene. I walk in, next thing somebody shotgunned me. Twice.

Bezzerides: Then how are you still...

RAY: Rubber buckshot. It's just impact. Riot shells. You know, like... like cops use.


According to this article from VOX, Ray was hit with riot shells. (When I typed that into Google, I was taken to rubber bullets and Riot Guns).

Does it make logical sense? Sure. It turns out that Bird Head's shotgun was loaded with riot shells, which means Ray just has a hell of a stomachache instead of a more fatal injury. The development also creates the potential for the killer to be a member of law enforcement, which could make for a good story turn here or there.

I'm still looking to see if I can find a more solid confirmation.


Rock salt tends to still break the skin. If he only has bruises, it's likely that he was wearing a kevlar vest. These tend to prevent entry wounds but render you with bruises instead.

  • He wasn't wearing a vest.
    – sanpaco
    Feb 4, 2019 at 16:05

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