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Rustin Cohle

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Rustin Cohle

Rust 2012

True-Detective-Wikia Rustin-Cohle Infobox 01

General Information
Gender Male
Age 30's (1995)
40's (2002)
50's (2012)
Hair color Light brown
Eye color Blue
Status Alive
Family & Friends
Family Sophia Cohle
(daughter, deceased)
Claire Cohle
Marital status Divorced
Relationships Jennifer (one date)
Laurie Spencer (ex-girlfriend)
Maggie Sawyer (seductress)
Friends Martin Hart (partner)
Employment Information
Occupation(s) Detective, Louisiana State Police
Employer Ken Quesada (formerly)
Other Information
Aliases Crash (Iron Crusaders)
Weaknesses Alcoholism
Barbiturate dependency
PTSD-related hallucinations
Series Information
Season 1
First episode The Long Bright Dark
Last episode Form and Void
Portrayer Matthew McConaughey
I don't sleep, I just dream.
— Rust
I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death
— Rust

Rustin Spencer "Rust" Cohle is a State homicide detective. He is one of the main protagonists in Season 1 of True Detective.


Rust is a talented but troubled detective, dedicated to his work and renowned for his ability to get confessions from criminals. He carries an unusually large ledger which he uses to keep notes and sketches of crime scenes, earning him the nickname "The Tax Man" from his colleagues.

Rust is aloof; at one point his partner Martin Hart says that he "wasn't big on talking except when you wanted him to shut up." He seems to prefer living by himself and it doesn't appear that he has ever been able to sustain a relationship for longer than a few years. Rust is not prone to material desires and his apartment is bare, with only a simple bed and books on various sex crimes. He suffers from insomnia, which may partially be a consequence of his past drug use. Later in life we see him to be a degenerate alcoholic.

Rust shows disappointment and anger at Marty when he cheats on his wife. He visits Marty's house to "mow his lawn" when he is away. He enjoys eating dinner with Marty's family and talking with Marty's wife, Maggie Hart.


Rust Cohle's father came back from Vietnam to South Texas. He then impregnated Rust's Mom. Rust was dumped on his father as a young boy and they then moved to Alaska. According to Rust, he and his father never got along. His father "had some strange ideas" and became a survivalist. Rust left Alaska because he hated the cold and returned to South Texas because he remembered it as always being warm. Rust's father never forgave him for leaving.

Before becoming a Louisiana state detective Rust was a police officer for the state of Texas. His Texas files were classified or redacted and much of what we know about Rust's past is subject to question because his narration may not be reliable.

Rust was a police officer and a married man with a daughter. In the late 1980s his two-year-old daughter, Sophia rode her tricycle into the road which had a bend in it and was killed. She slipped into a coma and then eventually died.[1] Rust's only comfort was that she died as a happy child, painlessly. He was spared the sins of being a father. His wife left him as a result.

Rust was traumatized by this and still suffers the PTSD, thus his want for barbituates to keep him calm. Rust then went deep undercover and became a junkie. He would rob couriers and do a lot of drugs. He ended up shooting a drug addict who injected his infant daughter with crystal meth to "purify her".

As part of a deal he was allowed to keep his job if he agreed to work as an undercover narcotics agent, which he agreed to. In February of 1993, after serving 4 years as a deep undercover narcotics agent he claims to have killed 3 cartel men in a gunfight at the Port of Houston, suffering 3 gun shot wounds in the process.  He then spent 4 months in Northshore Psychiatric Hospital in Lubbock, Texas.

Rust is then given the option to retire due to his PTSD and take a pension. He asks to be transferred some place and work in homicide because he still believes he can "do some good".

After leaving the police force in 2002, Rust went to Alaska for 8 years, where he became an alcoholic and lived a mostly solitary life with few social interactions. He came back to Louisiana in 2010 to close out the Dora Lange case once and for all "before getting on with something else."  

Rust is indeed a man of considerable historical mystery and few verifiable facts. He is a self-defined law enforcement person of redacted hard-copy and verbal report i.e., the clipped 'remembered past'. Others often project their wants, needs, anxieties, and fears on to him as a result of the vague background provided.

This lends to a rather depressive and skewed version of his view life as a "...realist or a pessimist". A humorless and drug-addled figure prone to binging, Cohle had a dreary and sad saga to self-report when he showed by choice and Federal favor, in the CID of the Louisiana State Police. He really does not know who he is, but pretends to.

Consequently, others around him like Hart and his wife, tend feel uneasy and dispute or fill in vast informational gaps suspiciously e.g., he's IA (Internal Affairs). After all, humans do not like any unfinished personal puzzles in their midst. It's a vexing survival risk.

Rust's keen intuitive, analytical, and compulsive intellect still searched for problems to solve and some sort of meaning to exist in the gutter of reality wherever he resided. Nonetheless, all we ever have, is Rust's rambling word of that idiosyncratic view of his morality and reality.

Like most of us, Cohle remained unable to see himself and others with reasonable clarity, due to strong ego defense mechanisms at work and an ever-present need to be right.

This culminated in a sobering view of life with the bark-on-it, without the added bother of being sober mentally to help out. A devil residing in the details of existence, which Rust took note of with great fervor. He was right for the job alright. Delusions and illusions are best served cold, with a six-pack, and pondering alone.


  • Unnamed man (shot because he injected meth to his own infant daughter)
  • Three Unnamed men (killed them in a gunfight)
  • Tiger Thomas (shot in the stomach in order to get out alive)
  • Errol Childress (shot in the head after he almost gutted him)

Memorable quotesEdit

  • "Back then, the visions... most of the time I was convinced that I'd lost it... but there were other times, I thought I was main-lining the secret truth of the universe."
  • "They were afraid, and now they saw for the very first time how easy it was to just let go. In that last nanosecond, they saw what they were. You, yourself, this whole big drama, was never anything but a jury-rig of presumption and dumb will, and you could just let go. Finally, now that you didn't have to hold on so tight. To realize that all your life, all your love, all your hate, all your memory, all your pain -- it was all the same thing. All the same dream. A dream that you had inside a locked room. A dream about being a person. And like a lot of dreams, there's a monster at the end of it."
  • "This place is like somebody's memory of a town, and the memory is fading... it's like there was never anything here but jungle."
  • "Given how long it's taken me to reconcile my nature, I can't figure I'd forego it on your account, Marty."
  • "I don't sleep, I just dream."
  • "People out here, it's like they don’t even know the outside world exists."
  • "I was sitting there and I couldn't think of a good reason not to. Usually I can."
  • "I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. 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 somebody, when in fact everybody's nobody. I think the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming; stop reproducing; walk hand-in-hand into extinction. One last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal."
  • "Something Deep and Dark Detectives... Something Deep and Dark."
  • "Yeah of course I've always taken a lot of notes. I mean, you never know what the thing is gonna be, do you? A little detail somewhere way down that line that makes you say "Ohh!", breaks the case."
  • "My life's been a circle of violence and degredation long as I can remember. I'm ready to tie it off."
  • " god damn frail they'd rather put a coin in the wishing well than buy dinner."
  • "If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward, then brother, that person is a piece of shit."
  • "Of course i am dangerous, i'm a cop. I can do horrible things to people with impunity."



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