Grand Theft Auto: Examining all protagonists from the series

The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series is renowned for its open-world gameplay, gritty narratives, and memorable characters.

Since its inception in 1997, this video game franchise has featured numerous protagonists, each with their unique stories, personalities, and criminal endeavors.

With the recent release of the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI, we will embark on a comprehensive journey through the game’s universe, examining every major protagonist.

Claude: The silent one (GTA III)

Claude GTA III
Image Source: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto III marked a significant turning point in the series with third-person 3D gameplay and the introduction of a proper protagonist, the silent Claude.

He was a blank slate as he never spoke in the game, allowing players to project their thoughts and feelings onto him.

His mysterious and stoic demeanor made him an enigmatic figure in the world of Liberty City.

Claude’s story was one of vengeance, as he pursued those who had wronged him in a city filled with corruption and crime.

Toni Cipriani: The mob enforcer (GTA: Liberty City Stories)

Image Source: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories put players in the shoes of Tony Cipriani, a mob enforcer for the Leone crime family.

Tony was a character deeply entrenched in the criminal underworld of Liberty City, navigating a web of alliances and betrayals as he sought to climb the ranks within the family.

His loyalty to the Leone family was unwavering, and his willingness to do whatever it took to protect his organization was a defining trait.

Tony’s journey was marked by the struggle to maintain power and stability in a city plagued by chaos, and his story served as a bridge between the events of GTA III and Vice City.

Mike: The ordinary crook (GTA Advance)

Mike GTA A
Image Source: Rockstar Games

Mike, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto Advance (a prequel to GTA III released for the Game Boy Advance), was a character that invited players to delve into the grittier side of the criminal underworld.

Unlike some of the more flamboyant characters in the series, Mike was a low-key figure, navigating the mean streets of Liberty City with a quiet determination.

What made his character intriguing was his mysterious past and his pursuit of justice in a city overrun by corruption.

His motivations were personal, seeking retribution for his friend Vinnie’s death.

Tommy Vercetti: The ruthless gangster (GTA: Vice City)

Tommy GTA VC
Image Source: Rockstar Games

The year was 1986, and the neon-lit streets of Vice City were a playground for crime and chaos.

Tommy Vercetti, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, emerged as one of the most iconic characters in the series.

Voiced by Ray Liotta, Vercetti was a former mobster who found himself in the heart of a drug trade gone awry.

His journey from a released convict to a drug lord showcases the classic GTA rise-to-power storyline.

Vercetti’s personality was a mix of ruthless ambition and dark humor, making him a fascinating character to follow.

Victor Vance: The tragic hero (GTA: Vice City Stories)

Victor GTA VCS
Image Source: Rockstar Games

In the prequel to Vice City, players assumed the role of Victor Vance in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

Victor’s story was a tragic one, filled with a sense of duty and a desire to protect his dysfunctional family.

He was the brother of Lance Vance, another important character in Vice City.

A soldier recently discharged from the military, he found himself immersed in the drug trade in the city.

Victor’s journey was one of survival, sacrifice, and betrayal as he navigated the treacherous waters of Vice City’s criminal underbelly.

His tale sheds light on the events that led to Tommy Vercetti’s rise to power.

Carl “CJ” Johnson: Grove Street’s redemption (GTA: San Andreas)

Image Source: Rockstar Games

In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, players took on the role of Carl “CJ” Johnson, a character on a quest for redemption in the crime-ridden state of San Andreas.

CJ’s story was marked by the complexities of family, loyalty, and personal growth.

Returning to his old neighborhood after the murder of his mother, CJ found himself dragged back into a life of crime.

He sought to protect his family and rebuild his gang, the Grove Street Families.

Niko Bellic: Pursuit of the American dream (GTA IV)

Image Source: Rockstar Games

In Grand Theft Auto IV, the series took a darker and more realistic turn with the introduction of Niko Bellic.

He was an Eastern European immigrant who arrived in Liberty City seeking the elusive “American Dream.”

Niko’s character was a departure from the flashy and often comical protagonists of previous games.

He was a war veteran haunted by his past, driven by a desire for revenge and financial stability.

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Johnny Klebitz: The biker with a code (GTA IV: The Lost and Damned)

Johnny GTA IV TL&D
Image Source: Rockstar Games

In the expansion pack The Lost and Damned, players took on the role of Johnny Klebitz, the vice president of the biker gang known as The Lost Motorcycle Club.

Johnny was a character driven by a strong sense of loyalty and a strict code of honor, which often put him at odds with the chaos of Liberty City’s criminal underworld.

His story intertwined with that of Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV, providing players with a different perspective on the events of the main game.

He also appeared briefly in GTA V.

Luis Fernando Lopez: The nightlife kingpin (GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony)

Image Source: Rockstar Games

Completing the trio of protagonists in Grand Theft Auto IV, Luis Fernando Lopez took center stage in the second expansion, The Ballad of Gay Tony.

As the personal bodyguard and business partner of the flamboyant nightclub owner Gay Tony Prince, Luis navigated the glamorous but treacherous world of Liberty City’s nightlife.

His character was defined by his loyalty to Tony and his determination to keep the party going despite the chaos that surrounded them.

Luis brought a fresh perspective to the GTA universe, offering players a glimpse into the glitzy and high-stakes world of entertainment and organized crime.

His story was a rollercoaster ride of high-flying action, celebrity cameos, and moral dilemmas.

Huang Lee: The forced criminal (GTA: Chinatown Wars)

Huang GTA CW
Image Source: Rockstar Games

Huang Lee, the central character of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, was a complex and intriguing protagonist.

Unlike many of his counterparts, Huang was not a seasoned criminal or a hardened thug.

Instead, he was a privileged young man, the son of a recently murdered Triad boss who was forced into the criminal underworld

He was intelligent and resourceful, often relying on his wits rather than brute force to navigate the treacherous streets of Liberty City.

Franklin Clinton: The aspiring escapist (GTA V)

Franklin GTA V
Image Source: Rockstar Games

Coming to Grand Theft Auto V, the 2013 game first introduced us to Franklin Clinton.

He represented a character seeking an escape from his life of crime. Franklin was a young, ambitious, and street-smart individual trying to break free from the cycle of violence and poverty in Los Santos.

His entry into the criminal world was driven by a desire for better opportunities.

Franklin’s character was marked by his loyalty to his friends and his aspiration for a better life.

Michael De Santa: A midlife crisis in Los Santos (GTA V)

Michael GTA V
Image Source: Rockstar Games

In Grand Theft Auto V, Michael De Santa emerged as one of the three protagonists, offering players a glimpse into the life of a retired bank robber.

Michael’s character was shaped by his midlife crisis, as he grappled with the boredom of suburban life and the desire for one last heist.

His story was marked by a dysfunctional family, a troubled past, and the pursuit of the perfect life.

He represented the disillusionment of the middle-aged American male.

Trevor Philips: The chaotic force of nature (GTA V)

Trevor GTA V
Image Source: Rockstar Games

When Grand Theft Auto V was released, Trevor Philips stood out as the embodiment of chaos and unpredictability.

Trevor was a methamphetamine manufacturer and a former military pilot with a violent and impulsive nature.

His character was a stark departure from the more morally conflicted protagonists of previous games.

He reveled in mayhem and destruction, often making choices that horrified players.

However, his charisma and dark humor also made him strangely endearing.

Lucia and Jason: The next in line (GTA VI)

Lucia and Jason GTA VI
Image Source: Rockstar Games

In the upcoming addition to the Grand Theft Auto series, GTA VI introduces two main protagonists: Jason and Lucia.

Jason, a tall, white male in his late 20s, is part of a criminal organization in Vice City.

He’s depicted as a somewhat unserious and slobbish figure, contrasting sharply with the other protagonist’s personality.

For the first time in the 3D era of the games, a female character, Lucia, takes on a leading role as well.

She is described as a Latina protagonist, younger than Jason, and involved in the same gang.

The relationship between Lucia and Jason appears complex, potentially romantically involved, reminiscent of a Bonnie and Clyde dynamic.

This next Grand Theft Auto game is set to release in 2025.

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