If you’re anything like us, you are obsessed with True Detective, but have also had to rewatch episodes or ask friends and family to help you remember all the names and terminology used on the show. Who was Tyrone Weems again? What kind of car did Sheriff Geraci drive? In what town is the action taking place in that one scene? We’ve collected a list of the most frequently recurring motifs and terms on the show and will be adding more after Sunday night’s finale.
Alaska: The state where Rust Cohle spent much of his childhood after moving there with his father as a young boy. After his fight with Marty Hart, Cohle left Louisiana to spend some time in Alaska. A visit to Alaska is also what Cohle and Hart give as his alibi when covering up the stash house riot.
antlers: Affixed to the head of murder victim Dora Kelly Lange, and later seen in images of Marie Fontenot recovered from one of Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle’s residences. They are also painted atop a drawing of a woman on the walls of the burned-out church in Eunice. Cohle believes that the use of antlers and other animal insignia has something to do with Courir de Mardi Gras traditions. Cohle also posed an antler-centric question to Reggie Ledoux: “Why the antlers?”
bad men: “The world needs bad men” — Rust Cohle
beer-can men: Rust Cohle fashions these small figurines out of Lone Star beer cans during his interrogation by Thomas Papania and Maynard Gilbough. Some viewers have used the fact that there are five figurines as evidence to support the so-called Five Horsemen theory.
barbell: In 2012, what Marty Hart says he’d throw to Rust Cohle if he were drowning.
Baton Rouge: The capital of Louisiana. Reverend Tuttle has a home there; Rust Cohle breaks in and absconds with incriminating images and videos. Tellingly, this break-in was not reported.
Beaumont, TX: Just across the Louisiana border, this is the town where a coked-up undercover Rust Cohle assists the Iron Crusaders motorcycle gang in the botched robbery of a stash house.
Beth: An adventurous former prostitute–turned–T-Mobile-store-employee who enters into an affair with Marty Hart in 2002. Her salacious selfie leads to his divorce from Maggie.
big-ass dick: An appendage Marty Hart claims to possess.
Big Hug Mug: The drinking vessel that Rust Cohle uses when being interrogated by Thomas Papania and Maynard Gilbough.
bird traps: A term applied to describe the symbolic twig lattice sculptures found around the crime scenes in Vermilion Parish. They resemble small ladders or tripods. They are also called devils nests, and are said to be a spirit ward in the Santerian religion.
birds, flipped: A contemptuous gesture sometimes exchanged between Rust Cohle and Marty Hart.
billboard: On two occasions, Rust Cohle can be seen gazing at a billboard featuring the face of a murdered 14-year-old named Stacey Gerhart and the words “Do You Know Who Killed Me?” Her relation to the other murder victims is still unclear.
black stars: A quote from Robert Chambers’s The King in Yellow that Cohle finds in Dora Lange’s diary. Black stars also pop up elsewhere, including a tattoo on the neck of one of Dora’s friends and a quote from Reggie Ledoux: “It’s time, isn’t it? For the black stars?”
boats: When we left them, Cole and Hart were about to question Sheriff Steve Geraci on his fishing boat. The seventh episode’s final shot is of a boat. Hart’s father-in-law also had a rowboat that Hart’s daughters were playing in. Rust did say that many of the child abductions have happened along the Bayou, which may be significant.
Boulair, Toby: A male prostitute doing business as Johnny Joanie who was a preschool classmate of Marie Fontenot’s in 1988 at Shepherd’s Flock, a school funded by the Wellsprings Foundation. Rust Cohle tracked him down in 2010 at a bar and interviewed him about his time at the school. Boulair claimed that at night, men in animal masks would come in to the dormitory and take pictures and do “other things.”
Buras, LA: The location of the troubled Tuttle Foundation’s Light of the Way Academy, now-shuttered. Also, Rust conversed with a lawnmower-riding Errol Childress here back in 1995.
B&E: Breaking and entering. An illegal tactic used by Rust Cohle in order to gain entry to Reverend Tuttle’s properties in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.
Budroux, Charmane: A woman in police custody for murdering her three kids, who Cohle suggests would be better off killing herself. Some astute viewers have pushed the theory, based on photographic evidence, that Charmane may also have been a student at Light of the Way, the Tuttle Foundation school central to the investigation.
bunny ranch: A nickname for a rural brothel. Rust Cohle and Marty Hart visit one of these south of Spanish Lake in episode two while following a lead about Dora Kelly Lange. Cohle learns of Carcosa and black stars while looking through the pages of Dora’s diary here here. This is also where, in 1995, Marty Hart first meets Beth, the prostitute he gives money to (“a down payment,” as Cohle points out) and, in 2002, beds.
Carcosa: A fictional city referenced in Robert Chambers’s book The King in Yellow and the Ambrose Bierce story “An Inhabitant of Carcosa,” and in a quote from Dora Lange’s diary (“… the Yellow King in Carcosa / strange is the night where the black stars rise.”). It is referenced repeatedly as a place where bad things happen. Charlie Lange mentions Carcosa, as does Sam Tuttle’s former servant Miss Dolores, who cried, “Rejoice, death is not the end! Rejoice, Carcosa!” Before Reggie Ledoux was shot, he told Rust Cohle, “You’re in Carcosa now.” Someone also references it in the episode eight trailer: “This is Carcosa. Take off your mask.”
Childress, Ted: The former sheriff of Vermilion Parish who closed the Marie Fontenot report in 1990. After speaking in 2012 with Steve Geraci, who had taken the initial report, Hart and Cohle conclude that Childress was involved in covering up Fontenot’s abduction. Geraci tells Hart while they are fishing on his boat that Childress knew the Fontenot family. As of 1995, according to his successor Sheriff Tate, Childress was living in Gulf Shores, Alabama, but his whereabouts 17 years later are as-of-yet unaccounted for. There is speculation that Ted Childress is an illegitimate child of Sam Tuttle, and he may well be the father of Errol the Lawnmower Man.
CID: Criminal Investigations Division. Marty Hart and Rust Cohle work for the Louisiana CID in the 1995 and 2002 parts of the story.
Cohle, Rustin: A detective with the Louisiana CID and former partner of Marty Hart. He quit after an altercation with Hart in 2002 and reportedly moved to Alaska. He returned to the Erath area circa 2010 to continue investigating the sprawling crime. Currently works as a bartender at a dive bar owned by Robert Doumain. Before joining Louisiana CID in 1994, he lived in Texas and worked first in the robbery division and then in narcotics. He was once married to a woman named Claire and they had a daughter named Sophia, but he and his wife divorced sometime after his two-year-old daughter’s accidental death in the late 1980s. (The Dora Lange murder investigation began in 1995 on January 3, which also happens to be his deceased daughter’s birthday.) He admits to Gilbrough and Papania that he’d begun taking drugs 24/7 after his daughter’s death and shot a civilian who’d screwed a kid; to stay out of jail, he cut a dealt to be a floater in the narcotics division. In 1993, after getting shot while operating deep undercover in a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area), he spent time at a psychiatric facility in Lubbock, Texas.
Cottonport, LA: A town of about 2,000, and the fictional location of the prison housing Charlie Lange.
Courir de Mardi Gras: A Mardi Gras tradition hailing from rural Cajun communities in Southern Louisiana and beginning at sunrise on Fat Tuesday, in which revelers dress up in masks and costumes and travel through the community, often on horseback. Rust Cohle believes the strange costumes found on the victims and in the photos and videos in Billy Lee Tuttle’s safe have something to do with Courir de Mardi Gras.
Crash: An alias Rust Cohle used during his time working undercover in Texas, and the name he uses when meeting up with Ginger and the Iron Crusaders motorcycle gang.
crown: The headpieces made of twigs, branches, and antlers worn by Dora Kelly Lange, and later seen in photos of Marie Fontenot, are referred to as crowns. This symbolism is likely connected to the story of the Yellow King. As a child, Marty Hart’s daughter Audrey steals a toy crown from her sister and throws it into a tree, which has led viewers to speculate that she will somehow be involved in the case.
crystal meth: Reggie Ledoux cooked crystal meth, which he supplied to a brutal Texas motorcycle gang called the Iron Crusaders, which Cohle had ties to from his days working undercover. In order to get to Reggie Ledoux, Rust Cohle tells Ginger that he is working for a Mexican cartel that wants to trade cocaine for crystal meth. In reality, Cohle has pilfered this cocaine from the CID evidence room.
debt: When they meet again in 2012 after a long estrangement, Rust Cohle tells Marty Hart that he has a duty to help him because he has a “debt.” He is implicitly referring to Hart’s murder of Reggie Ledoux, which Cohle helped cover up.
Delores, Miss: Sam Tuttle’s former “domestic” who Rust Cohle and Marty Hart interrogate in episode seven.
the detective’s curse: A maxim about investigators that applies to Marty Hart, namely that the answer is always right under your nose but you don’t see it because you’re too caught up in your work.
devils nest: A term applied to describe the symbolic twig lattice sculptures found around the crime scenes in Vermilion Parish. They resemble small ladders or tripods. They are also called bird traps, and are said to be a spirit ward in the Santerian religion.
devil worship: Charlie Lange, Reggie Ledoux’s prison cellmate, told Hart and Cohle that Ledoux had been mixed up in devil worship, “stones and shit” and human sacrifice.
Doumain, Robert: Owner of the dive bar where Rust Cohle works in 2012. His son disappeared in 1985. He knows how to use a rifle, as seen in the episode eight trailer.
Erath, LA: A town in Vermilion Parish with a last recorded population of 2,187; at one time, it had been a pirate hideout. Dora Kelly Lange’s body was discovered in a field outside Erath. The Tuttle family also hails from the area.
Errol: The landscaper, last name still unknown, whom Rust Cohle spoke to in 1995 outside the Tuttle Foundation’s Light of the Way Academy, and who appeared again at the end of episode seven. In episode seven, set in 2012, it is revealed that Childress is the man with the scars on his face — a.k.a., the green-eared spaghetti monster, a.k.a., the Tall Man — who has been referenced repeatedly over the course of the season as the possible perpetrator of the Dora Lange Kelly murder and other dread deeds taking place in and around Vermilion Parish. Sam Tuttle’s former servant, Miss Dolores, implies that Errol is an illegitimate grandson of Sam Tuttle, and that his face was burned or scarred by his own (unknown) father. Based on Dolores’ remembrance that the scarred man may have been from the Childress line, viewers have speculated that Errol may be the son of Ted Childress. In both appearances, he is operating a riding lawnmower, which has led to him being nicknamed the Lawnmower Man.
Eunice, Louisiana: The location of a burned-out church that Rust Cohle and Marty Hart discover in episode two. The Church is the former home of the Friends of Christ church, led by Joel Theriot. In real life, Eunice is a southern Louisiana town with a population of 10,298.
Farrar, Austin: A former Tuttle Foundation deacon, deceased, who had been in charge of Light of the Way during Joel Theriot’s stint there. In 2002, Theriot told Cohle that he’d accidentally knocked over a book belonging to Farrar and discovered that it contained a disturbing photograph that indicated that Farrar was molesting children.
Five Horseman theory: A popular viewer theory arguing that there are five perpetrators. Evidence used to support this theory are the five men on horseback featured in a vintage photograph at Dora Lange’s mother’s house, the five beer-can men that Rust Cohle carves during interrogation, and the alarming placement of the five male dolls around an unclothed female doll in Marty’s daughters’ room in 1995.
flat circle: This is what Rust Cohle believes time is, i.e., everything that has happened will happen again and it’s all connected.
Fontenot, Danny: Marie Fontenot’s paralyzed uncle, a former baseball standout at LSU. A visit to his house by Marty Hart and Rust Cohle reveals the same twig latticeworks found near Dora Lange’s body.
Fontenot, Marie: A 10-year-old girl who went missing in 1990. Her disappearance was not investigated at the time because it was assumed that she had been taken by her father, who conveniently died and so can’t corroborate. Sheriff Childress signed off on the police report about her disappearance. Possibly related to the Tuttles.
Francis, Guy: Pharmacy robber who offers to tell Cohle about the Yellow King, thereby reigniting Cohle’s investigation and leading to Cohle leaving the force. Committed suicide — possibly under orders from an unknown caller — in his jail cell.
Franklin, Louisiana: Site of the Friends of Christ Church Tent Revival at the time of Marty Hart and Rust Cohle.
Friends of Christ Revival: A congregation that used to operate out of the church in Eunice before it burned down and then moved to a tent. Led by Joel Theriot.
Geraci, Steve: The Vermilion Parish deputy who originally handled the Fontenot disappearance, and who went on to become a Parish Sheriff. Rust Cohle slaps him in the first episode. Drives a Maserati recovered from a drug bust. Believing him to be withholding knowledge of the Fontenot murder and who committed it, Rust and Marty kidnap him on his boat in the seventh episode, presumably to torture him.
Gerhart, Stacy: A 14-year-old girl murdered in on October 11, 1987. Cohle sees her face on a billboard in 1995 and again in 2012.
Gilbough, Maynard: One of the two detectives interrogating Marty Hart and Rust Cohle in 2012.
Ginger: A former associate of Cohle’s from his undercover days and a member of the Iron Crusaders motorcycle gang. Cohle uses him to get to Reggie Ledoux, the exclusive meth-cooker for the gang.
Guidry, Terry: A man whose son went missing sometime in the 1990s and had yet to be found as of 2002. Guidry’s son went to a Tuttle school called Queen of Angels. Guidry told Cohle that police had found a mangled flotation device that had belonged to his son but ruled out death-by-gator.
Hart, Audrey: Marty and Maggie Hart’s older daughter. Had a three-way in 2002. By 2012, she had become an artist living in New Orleans. She is on some form of medication but, according to Maggie, sometimes has elected not to take it.
Hart, Maisie: Marty and Maggie Hart’s youngest daughter.
Hart, Maggie: The ex-wife of Marty Hart. Had sex with Rust in order to force philandering Marty to leave her. Subject of one theory that she and her family may be involved somehow with the Tuttles.
Hart, Marty: A former detective with the Louisiana CID and Cohle’s ex-partner; as of 2012, he was the sole proprietor of Hart Investigation Services. He was the husband of Maggie Hart until their final separation in 2002 and eventual divorce shortly thereafter; he has two daughters, Audrey and Maisie. He quit CID after finding a microwaved baby at a crime scene sometime after 2002 but before 2012.
Herbert, Jake: Maggie’s dad and Marty’s father-in-law, who gruffly expressed concern to Marty back in 1995 about the promiscuity of young people. Some fans have speculated his involvement in the crimes.
Hurricane Andrew: A 1992 natural disaster given as a convenient excuse for lost files.
Hurricane Katrina: A 2005 natural disaster that caused mass flooding and chaos in parts of Louisiana. Rust Cohle theorizes that the perpetrator/perpetrators “had a real good time after” Hurricane Katrina: “Chaos. People missing and people gone. Cops gone. I think he had a real good year.” Also used as a convenient excuse for missing case files.
Iron Crusaders: A motorcycle gang based in Beaumont, Texas, which Rust Cohle was involved with during his years undercover.
Kelly: One of Ledoux’s victims (no last name) whom Cohle rescued after the shoot-out. She is in a mental home.
Lake Charles: Site of a 2012 murder with a striking similarity to the one in 1995. Being investigated by Papania and Gilbrough.
Lange, Charlie: Dora Lange’s ex-husband, whom Hart and Cohle interview in prison. He is Reggie Ledoux’s former cellmate.
Lange, Dora Kelly: The first victim that Hart and Cohle encounter, whose murder kicks off the entire investigation. The 28-year-old former prostitute was found dead in Erath in 1995 wearing antlers, with a spiral tattooed on her back.
lawnmowers: Errol is riding one in both 1995 and in 2012, earning the moniker among fans of the Lawnmower Man. Rust also borrowed Marty’s lawnmower in 1995 and then did Marty the unsolicited favor of mowing his lawn, which did not go over well. Marty expresses a strong preference of mowing his own lawn.
Ledoux, DeWall: Reggie Ledoux’s cousin and cook partner. Rust Cohle meets with him in a dive bar at the beginning of episode five, during which DeWall tells Cohle that there’s “a shadow” on him and “I don’t like your face; it makes me want to do things to it.” He steps on a land-mine booby trap at the Ledoux meth hideout and is killed along with Ledoux.
Ledoux, Jimmy: An estranged second cousin of Reggie Ledoux who, in 2012, gives Hart and Cohle intel on a possible meeting years back with the so-called spaghetti monster, a scarred-face man who kept looking at him ominously. Given that Reggie Ledoux was 10 years older than Jimmy, and that Jimmy claims the incident occurred during a hunting trip he took with his father when he was about 11, the encounter would have happened circa 1982. He works at an auto shop in White Castle, Louisiana.
Ledoux, Reggie: Gas-mask-wearing, tattooed meth cooker for the Iron Crusaders, deceased, who held the abducted children Marty Hart finds at the Ledoux compound. According to his rap sheet, he stood 6’7” tall, had been encarcerated for statutory rape of a minor, and was born 11/13/60, making him 34 years old when an enraged Hart shot him in the head in 1995. He was the cellmate of Charlie Lange, the estranged husband of murder victim Dora Kelly Lange.
Letters of Telios de Lorca: This is the book, written by a (seemingly fictional) obscure 12th century Franciscan mystic, belonging to Deacon Austin Farrar, in which Joel Theriot claims to have found a folder containing photographs of naked children.
Light of the Way: A Tuttle Foundation school that is a nexus for potential leads and suspects.
Lone Star: The Texas beer that Rust Cohle drinks during his interrogation by Maynard Gilbough and Thomas Papania, and out of which he fashions five beer-can men.
masks: Both animal masks and otherwise are worn by the perpetrators in the videotape taken from Tuttle’s house. In our first glimpse of Reggie Ledoux, he is seen wearing a gas mask. Joel Theriot told his congregation that “the face you wear is not your own.” And Cohle, in describing the brutality of the Mexican drug cartels, said that their executions often involved unmasking them by cutting the skin off their victims’ faces.
Match.com: Lonely, single Marty’s pastime in 2012.
mirrors: There are multiple moments involving mirrors, including Marty first seeing Reggie Ledoux’s reflection in a mirror and Rust seeing Maggie in the mirror when she walks into his bar. On his wall, Cohle has affixed a mirror the size of his eye that he stares into meditatively every day. But the show also uses the term metaphorically, with characters, lines of dialogue, and events paralleling those that we’ve already seen or will come across later.
North Shore Psychiatric Hospital: The facility in Lubbock, Texas, where Cohle is sent after getting shot prior to joining Louisiana CID.
Olivier, Rianne: Rust Cohle discovers Rianne Olivier’s case while looking for cases similar to Dora Lange’s. Olivier had attended Light of the Way Academy, one of Reverend Tuttle’s religious schools, and later ran off with her boyfriend Reggie Ledoux.
Papania, Thomas: One of the two detectives interrogating Marty Hart and Rust Cohle in 2012.
Paris, France: A city Rust Cohle claims to have lived in for a month. What did he do there? He drank.
Quesada, Ken: The major who is Marty Hart and Rust Cohle’s superior in 1995, but isn’t seen in 2002 and 2012. Whereabouts unknown.
Report Made in Error: What the Marie Fontenot case is labeled by Sheriff Childress.
Ross, Molly Ann: The child who reports being chased through the woods by what she described as a green-eared spaghetti monster.
Salter, Leroy: The major in charge of CID in 2002. He spends Cohle, leading him to quit the force.
scars: Errol the Lawnmower Man has prominent scarring, probably the result of burning, on his face.
Shreveport: The third biggest city in Louisiana and the location of one of Billy Lee Tuttle’s homes.
spaghetti: This seems to be all they ever serve at Marty Hart’s house.
spaghetti monster, green-eared: See entries for Molly Ann Ross and Errol.
Speece, Commander: A sour-faced Louisiana police chief and Reverend Tuttle toady.
Perkins, Laurie: A friend of Maggie Hart’s whom Rust Cohle starts dating and nearly marries.
spiral: Occult designs etched or painted on Dora Lange Kelly and other victims involved in the case.
storage unit: This is where Rust Cohle brings Marty Hart in 2012 to show him the evidence he has gathered in the case.
Tall Man: Another nickname applied to a menacing individual Cohle believes is one and the same as the green-eared spaghetti monster. See the entry for Errol.
Tate, Sheriff: Vermilion Parish sheriff at the time of the Dora Lange case.
Taxman: Cohle’s nickname at C.I.D., inspired by the ledgers he scribbled in at crime scenes. His rationale for toting the ledgers around: “You never know what the thing is going to be, do you? A little detail way down the line that makes you say ‘huh.” Breaks the case.”
Theriot, Joel: A tent preacher who studied at Tuttle Ministries seminary in Baton Rouge and in the late 1980s had been posted at a Wellsprings Foundation school in Pelican Island, LA. Cohle and Hart interviewed Theriot in connection with the Dora Lange case in 1995. In 2002, Cohle discovered that Theriot had quit the church due to drink. Theriot claimed to have left the Tuttle Foundation after his complaints that Deacon Austin Farrar, the headmaster of the Pelican Island school, had been in possession of photographs of naked children fell on deaf ears.
tracking shot: Director Cary Fukunaga’s much-praised six-minute long continuous take that capped off episode four, in which Cohle, using his undercover alias Crash, takes part in an Iron Crusaders failed heist of “a stash house in coon country.”
Tragnetti, Lisa: A court stenographer with whom Marty Hart is having an affair in 1995. Her divulging their affair to Maggie is the cause of the initial disintegration of Marty and Maggie Hart’s marriage.
Tuttles: Their DNA runs rampant in and around Erath, directly or indirectly linked to the Childress line, the Ledoux line, and others, at least according to patriarch Sam Tuttle’s ex-maid Miss Dolores.
Tuttle Ministries: A megachurch founded by Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle that is likely the wellspring of the sprawl of evil that Cohle and Hart have been investigating. See also the entry for Wellsprings Foundation.
Tuttle, Billy Lee: Son of Sam Tuttle and cousin of Louisiana Governor–turned–U.S. Senator Eddie Tuttle; founder of Tuttle Ministries. Deceased, reportedly due to improper medicinal drug interaction, but Cohle believe he may have been killed by the powerful men central to the crimes after they’d discovered that the demented videotape Tuttle had kept in a safe had been stolen. In 1995, Tuttle used his political influence to organize a task meant to take over the Dora Kelly Lange investigation from the CID.
Tuttle, Eddie: Louisiana governor in 1995 and a senator in 2012; also the cousin of Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle. Cohle and Hart have yet to meet him as of episode seven, but his influence over their investigation is an ongoing topic.
Tuttle, Sam: The former sheriff of Vermilion Parish and the patriarch of the Tuttle clan, likely deceased. He sired many bastard children, according to his former maid Miss Dolores, who also said that he is the grandfather of Errol (a.k.a., the Lawnmower Man). He was the father of Billy Lee Tuttle and uncle of Eddie Tuttle.
twigs: The “devil’s nests” and “crowns” found at the crime scenes were made of twigs.
twin suns: Ledoux says something about “twin suns” just before Marty shoots him. Or did he mean twin sons?
Wellsprings Foundation: An Evangelical initiative designed to provide rural schools with a religious alternative to public, secular education, courtesy of Billy Lee Tuttle and his Tuttle Ministries.
Vermilion Parish: The parish where Detectives Hart and Cohle are based and where the Dora Lange murder takes place.
Weems, Tyrone: An associate of Reggie Ledoux whom Marty Hart interrogates at a warehouse rave.
Yellow King: Who is the Yellow King? That’s the question everyone wants to know. A passage in Dora Lange’s diary quotes Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow: “I closed my eyes and saw a king in yellow moving through the forest,” and “the king’s children were marked, they became his angels.” See also the entry for Carcosa.