This is a True Detective theories post!

Who Is True Detective’s Yellow King? Here Are Our 6 Favorite Theories

Packed with symbolism, psychology, and serial murder, the HBO show True Detective has inspired countless theories about the true identity of the Yellow King—the ringleader behind the mysterious cult responsible for the murder and sexual abuse of multiple women and children across Louisiana. So who could be behind it all? A politician? A police cover-up? A one-off character? Even one of our two protagonists? Theories abound about the true identity of the King and his conspirators; as the final episodes of the the story unfold, here are our favorites.

Remember, these are just theories, not spoilers, but if you really want the show—and the identity of the Yellow King—to be a complete surprise, then listen to Rust’s captain: Leave your gun and badge on the desk and stop digging for answers, you loose cannon!

Rust Cohle Is Actually the Yellow King

The two detectives interviewing Rust and Marty in the present have a theory: Rust was behind it all the time. What if they’re actually right? Rust has exceptional insight into the mind of the killer; we also know from his deep undercover years that he’s capable of profound deception. Not to mention that he’s sitting there constructing a circle of men out of beer cans that sure seems to represent the men of the cult the entire time they’re talking.

Of course Rust might not actually know he’s the killer. We know he spent time in a mental institution, not to mention the semi-regular hallucinations that are a byproduct of the miles of drugs he took while undercover. If he is the Yellow King, perhaps he’s unknowingly hunting himself just as earnestly as the two modern-day detectives are. Remember when the pharmacy shooter—the one who could name the Yellow King—mysteriously committed suicide? It’s worth noting that we’ve seen Rust tell an incarcerated suspect to kill themselves before. What if he was the one who convinced the man to commit suicide in order to cover his own tracks? When Ledoux tells Rust, “I’ve seen you in my dreams,” could he be referring to shared participation in the ritualistic abuse?

Rust is frequently able to produce confessions by tapping into people’s desire for forgiveness, something he seems to be looking for himself. Rust also talks about “the sin of being a father” and seems to constantly feel a need for atonement and the punishment of those who hurt children. Could he be referring to his own sin, his own abuse of children—even his own daughter? Several times, we see Rust gazing at a billboard offering a reward for the murderer of a young girl who died several years after he says his own daughter was killed. Could that have been his first victim? Or was he simply symbolically reenacting the death when he killed Dora Lange on the same day his daughter died?

Above Rust’s bed hangs a cross. He says it’s not a religious symbol, but rather a meditative one: “I contemplate the moment in the garden, the idea of allowing your own crucifixion.” He’s referring to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus foresaw his own crucifixion but did nothing to stop it because his death was necessary to provide salvation. Can Rust foresee his own death and downfall coming on some level? Does he fear it … but also welcome it?

Marty Hart Is Actually the Yellow King

This might be the most shocking reveal of all, not only because it would take the audience by surprise after a season of seeing him as a promiscuous bumbler, but because it would mean that Marty managed to fool even the obsessive, hyper-observant Cohle. (Who’s smart now, true detective?) We’ve heard Marty say that the detective’s curse is not being able to able to see what’s right under their nose. Could he be talking about himself? Is Marty actually a false detective? (dun dun dun)

As noted on reddit, Hart is actually an Old English word meaning “stag,” potentially linking him to the antlers that crowned the murdered Dory—and perhaps signifying his own crown. After all, if we’re looking for a yellow king, Martin’s the blondest guy around. When Cohle made his way towards the Tuttle school the first time, it was Martin who drew him away by honking the horn, delaying his discovery of the twig sculpture and the possible darker truth behind it all. When you consider the possibility of Marty as the Yellow King, suddenly it seems awfully convenient that Marty killed Ledoux in a fit of rage, ensuring that no one would live to give him up.

In general, Marty doesn’t treat women and children that well: He cheats repeatedly on his wife—once with a former child prostitute—and gets violent with Maggie after he learns of her infidelity (not to mention slapping his daughter Audrey and calling her a slut). We’ve also seen Audrey making sexual drawings and arranging her dolls in a sexual way at a young age, as well as her later alienation and promiscuity in adolescence. What if she’s been sexually abused by her father, or by someone else with the approval of her father? We’ve been looking for monsters in the shadows, or perhaps buried in the complicated psychological labyrinth that is Rust Cohle, but what if it the real monster was in front of us the whole time wearing the simplest mask of all?

Governor Tuttle Is Actually the Yellow King

It’s easy to see why Governor Tuttle, a high-ranking government official, might be in charge of the cult. If there really is a police cover-up of the murders and child abuse, that would require a lot of power, which Tuttle certainly has. His family connections offer more links to the cult: His cousin, the late Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle, seems to have been behind the funding of the Wellspring funding of religious schools, which have been linked to the ritual abuse. We haven’t seen the shadowy Governor Tuttle yet, so it’d be a bit surprising to uncover the identity of the King only to learn it was some guy who’s never been onscreen. But who can say?

Maggie's Dad Is Actually the Yellow King

A variant on the Marty theory, this suggests that his father-in-law was the familial abuser who molested Audrey instead. This trauma produced not only her sexual drawings as a young child but also the sexual configurations of her dolls that mirrored the abuse of the cult. There’s also that moment when Audrey takes a princess crown—linked to the crown symbolism around the King—and throws it up in the tree where her sister can’t reach. Is that a symbolic way of protecting her from the abuse?

Creepy dad-in-law also isn’t shy when it comes to expressing his opinions about children and intercourse, noting that for kids these days, “everything is sex.” Or maybe that’s just how it seems when he looks at them. Later, when Marty looks asks his daughter what’s wrong with her after dragging her home from a threesome with two teenage boys, there’s a distinct expression of horror on her face. What if the answer is “grandpa”? After all, if Marty was involved in the abuse, would he really be so surprised at her promiscuity? And if Maggie’s father is abusing her daughter, does that mean that she was potentially abused as a child as well? Could she too be involved, another “nun”—as the dead Dory called herself in a journal—who was even willing to offer her own daughter to the King?

Two more at SOURCE.
Post your theories, ONTD! I know ya'll have some intense ones.