Your Guide To The Meaning Behind Reggie Ledoux’s Tattoos On ‘True Detective’

Just like Breaking Bad, True Detective has me on the edge of my seat each week, anticipating which strange new path the story is going to follow. One of the show’s strangest characters thus far has been Reggie Ledoux, who (SPOILER ALERT) is now just a pile of splattered brains in the grass.

Ledoux’s time on screen was incredibly minimal. All we really know about him is he spent time in jail with Dora Lange’s ex, ran a crystal meth business, kept children hostage, and enjoyed strutting around in a gas mask & jock strap.

Earlier this week, Cajun Boy did an interview with the actor who plays Ledoux, Charles Halford and discussed his excursion with Richard Simmons while filming in Louisiana, among other things. Though Charles confirmed that there was indeed a spiral symbol on his character’s back, he didn’t say much more about Ledoux’s tattoos, which means a second glance at his swamp rat ink is very much in order. Here are a few of the theories floating around about the possible meanings behind Ledoux’s body art.

The face on Ledoux’s chest:

The first and most obvious explanation is that the tattoo is the face of Lucifer. Given the 666 tattoos on Ledoux and the pentagram on his back, having a tattoo of Lucifer seems plausible. Then again, Ledoux’s proclamation that he had seen Rust Cohle in his dreams doesn’t entirely rule out the possibility that he would have a tattoo of the figure he believes Cohle to resemble. It’s a serious stretch since McConaughey’s haircut in True Detective is not even close to the curly hair of the tattooed figure on Ledoux. Now circa 2005 McConaughey — I can see some similarity.

Chances are Ledoux is just a fan of Sahara.

Another theory floating around is that the figure is related to the praying statue Cohle sees in the school at the end of the episode. Next to the portrait tat just being a devil tattoo to go along with Ledoux’s other satanic ink, I’m leaning towards this possibility the most.

The Octopus swastika:

The swastika on Ledoux’s left breast is actually a octopus looking creature, possibly in reference to Hastur. Hastur is an octopoid being that appears in The King in Yellow as a supernatural character and also makes appearances in the works of Ambrose Bierce and Terry Pratchett. In Chamber’s short story The Yellow Sign, Hastur is a cult from Carcosa (maybe Joel Theriot’s followers). In short, that octopus is a sign of some bad juju.

SWP, AB, and the noose:

The SWP tattoo appears just below Ledoux’s left shoulder while the AB tattoo is just to the right of the center of his chest. Both of these tattoos are associated with white prison gangs, SWP standing for “Supreme White Power” and AB meaning “Aryan Brotherhood.” Given Ledoux’s criminal record and scumbag reputation, they both seem pretty straight forward as to their significance.

Next to Ledoux’s pentagram tattoo on his back, the hangmen’s noose tattoo around is neck is probably the most striking tattoo on his body. Just like the SWP and AB tattoos, it probably worked against him in job interviews for its racist affiliation.

Ledoux does have a spiral on his back:

There was initially some debate on whether or not Ledoux had a spiral tattoo on the back of his neck. Dora Lange’s ex-husband Charlie claimed it was there, but the tattoo wasn’t visible in the fourth episode. Cajun Boy cleared that up in his interview with Charles Halford, so straight from Ledoux’s mouth — he does have the spiral tattoo or a branding of it.

The tattoos on Ledoux’s forearms are a bit too blurry for me to make out, so it’s anyone’s guess as to the possible significance behind those, but any and all interpretations are welcome.