[[quoteright:211:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/318462b5ab887119d213f92f8bba5903-Grand_Theft_Auto_III_.jpg]]

->''"Sorry, babe, I'm an ambitious girl, and you--'' (BLAM) ''...You're just small time."''
-->-- '''Catalina'''

In Liberty City, a FictionalCounterpart to New York, you play a [[SilentProtagonist silent]], [[NoNameGiven nameless]] [[note]]later games reveal his name to be Claude[[/note]] protagonist who escapes from a prison transport and climbs the city's criminal ladder. You are hoping to get revenge your ex-girlfriend/partner in crime Catalina, who left you for dead after a bank robbery gone bad. It won't be an easy journey. Some will backstab you, and others will think you are in the way. But if you fight the good fight, this will be one hell of a ride.

This game burst onto the scene in 2001, completely overhauling the series by bringing it into a 3D environment, [[GenrePopularizer popularizing]] the WideOpenSandbox genre and turning Rockstar Games into its namesake. Although further games would add polish, few sequels deviate too much from this winning formula.

Released on {{PlayStation 2}}, then on the {{Xbox}} and PC, and eventually got released on iOS and Android.
----
!!Distinct tropes of this game:
* ActionBomb: In the mission "Kingdom Come", the player is ambushed by drug-crazed madmen spawning from [[MookMaker mook-making vans]], complete with weird random chatter such as "Come to daddy!" and "I got a present for ya!"
* ActorAllusion: Joe Pantoliano doing the voice of an Italian club owner/pimp? [[RiskyBusiness Who knew?]]
* AntiHero: Claude. He's not even close to being a good guy, but his enemies are usually worse.
** Depending on how you want to view him, he may go across the spectrum of AntiHero to straight-up VillainProtagonist.
* AsianDrivers: The Old Oriental Gentleman is [[EscortMission not an easy person to protect]], particularly since he keeps slamming through traffic and mumbling, "[[ScrewPolitenessImASenior Geddoudda da weh!]]"
* ArmedBlag: An early mission, and a Portland docks side quest.
* AxCrazy: Catalina.
* BatterUp: The baseball bat is the only melee weapon available in this game.
* TheBigRottenApple: Liberty City is based off of New York City.
* {{Big Bad}}s: Catalina.
* BigFancyHouse: The Cartel mansion, which they stole from Donald Love in ''Liberty City Stories''.
* BoundAndGagged: Offscreen, but from what's said, it's really obvious that Asuka tied Maria up, and for [[{{Dominatrix}} fun instead of for kidnapping]].
* BlackAndGreyMorality: Claude is prone to fits of random violence, but the majority of the story missions are him working his way up the ladder and destroying various criminal organizations as he hunts down Catalina.
** May be EvilVersusEvil given no one takes the moral high ground in the game.
* BrokenBridge: Played literally. The bridge to Staunton Island was blown up in the opening cutscene (thus justifying it in that case), the drawbridge mechanism on the bridge to Shoreside Vale was broken, and the tunnel connecting all three islands was still under construction.
* BrooklynRage : A large portion of the cast, including the protagonist.
* TheCartel: Arguably, the main antagonists of the game.
* CentralTheme: Betrayal and revenge drive not only the plot, but also the missions. Claude is apparently motivated by his desire for revenge against Catalina. Salvatore Leone is paranoid about his underlings betraying him (and rightly so). Donald Love gets the player to betray Kenji.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Catalina, of course. This also applies to Claude, given the sheer number of times he shifts allegiance from one gang to another. You can hardly blame him for that, since almost every faction he works for eventually decides to get rid of him. It's an entire world of CBD!
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Donald Love.
* CrapsackWorld: "The worst city in America" indeed. Gangs turning hostile towards Claude, one of which is already hostile ([[spoiler:and only two gangs won't attack him on sight by the time the game is completed]]). Liberty City also houses a corrupt mayor, backstabbing mobsters and a dreary environment.
* DeadlyGame: Liberty City Survivor, which is advertised on the radio in ''III''. The ad, complemented with fan footage from ''IV'', can be listened to [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwRera2ig9k here.]]
* DeliciousDistraction: El Burro hires to you lure out the Forellis with a Mr. Whoopee truck.
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: [[http://www.g-unleashed.com/index.php?cat=14&pid=118 You weren't supposed to be able to get here you know.]]
* DirtyCop: Ray Machowski. He has plenty of contacts in the Liberty City underworld, and even introduces [[AscendedExtra series staple, Phil Cassidy]].
* DiscOneFinalBoss: [[spoiler: Salvatore Leone]].
* DoubleEntendre: "Give Head Radio a listen this weekend, it'll blow you away."
* TheDragon:
** Miguel to Catalina.
** Tony Cipriani to Salvatore Leone.
** Claude briefly plays this role to Asuka. [[spoiler: Though, he's not remotely loyal to the Yakuza.]]
* DroughtLevelOfDoom: The last level/encounter is supposed to be like this; the character is stripped of his guns and left to chase the Big Bad with only a machine pistol stolen from a mook. However, if one has been diligent in collecting the bonus packages, a nearby safe house will have a related number of weapons for the grabbing, if you can get to them fast enough.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: After wrecking half of Liberty City, Claude finally kills Catalina, massacres her Columbia allies, and rides off into the sunset with Maria. [[spoiler:Whether her whining gets her killed or not at Claude's hands is open to debate]].
* EliteMook: Of all the GTA protagonists post-3D Claude is the closest we ever get to one as he seems to have no ambition whatsoever beyond getting paid. He will kill anyone and do anything he is told to by any man/woman with a deep wallet without the slightest argument and is ultimately loyal to none of them. Fact is he really wouldn't seem out of place as a random henchman in one of [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV Michael De Santa's heists.]]
* ElvisLives: The newspapers that drift around the ground read "Zombie Elvis Found". The same drifting newspaper is reused for Vice City.
* EveryBulletIsATracer: At the very least, they're smoke trails. Smoke trails that stay exactly in one place, but still smoke trails.
* FaceHeelTurn: About a third of the way through the game, [[spoiler:Salvatore Leone]] sends Claude to pick up a car that [[spoiler:he's had rigged with a bomb in an effort to kill him.]]
** Arguably, [[spoiler: Claude]] does one when he [[spoiler: kills Asuka's brother and starts a war with the Cartel. His possibly killing Maria may also qualify.]]
* FalseFlagOperation: In a bid to drop real estate prices, [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Donald Love]] has Claude start a gang war by assassinating TheYakuza crime lord [[spoiler: Kenji Kasen]], [[BodyguardBetrayal for whom Claude had previously worked as an enforcer]] and then framing TheCartel. See LostForever below.
* FanNickname: Due to being ordered around for the entire game, before his real name was revealed, Claude was referred to as "Fido". Also, Maria refers to Claude as "Fido" when he is ordered by Salvatore Leone to be her driver.
* GameBreakingBug: The original PS2 version has the infamous Purple Nines glitch, in which a rival gang is exterminated after the D-Ice mission "Rumble." The problem is that completing the mission eliminates the Purple Nines from all save files on that memory block, preventing all other new and existing saves from loading the Nines. This becomes a problem because D-Ice's first mission involves performing drive-bys on this gang, making that mission impossible to complete on all other saves.[[note]]Thankfully, it can be avoided if one starts a new game without the affected Memory Card inserted, thus avoiding the affected save file from being loaded up.[[/note]]
* GoodCopBadCop: The two pilots of the police helicopters.
-->'''Pilot:''' You are surrounde-
-->'''Co-Pilot:''' Gimme that microphone! EAT LEAD!
* GuideDangIt: A few of the missions are tough as hell unless done a certain way, and the game gives no hints to those methods.
** "Espresso-2-Go" requires intimate knowledge of the city streets, at the very least.
* GrandFinale: GTA III is [[BackToFront actually]] the chronological end point in the main GTA 3D era.
* [[HeroicMime "Heroic" Mime]]: Even if Claude isn't quite a hero. And apparently he's a literal mute, too.
* HeyItsThatVoice: The first GTA game with a name-actor voice cast, each one known from cult crime movies and TV shows, including Frank Vincent (''Film/{{Goodfellas}}''), Michael Madsen (''Film/ReservoirDogs''), Joe Pantoliano (''Series/TheSopranos''), Robert Loggia (''Film/{{Scarface|1983}}''), Debi Mazar (''Goodfellas''), Michael Rapaport (''Film/TrueRomance'') and Kyle Maclachlan (''Series/TwinPeaks'').
* KarmaHoudini: The King Courtney. Besides being quite hostile with Claude, he betrayed him, allying with Catalina and never received a deserved punishment.
* KillEmAll: Except for Claude, of course. The jury is still out on [[spoiler:Maria]].
* LostForever: Some Portland missions need to be done before you leave. Also, [[spoiler:Kenji will get killed at a certain point]], so you need to complete his missions before then.
* MafiaPrincess: Maria, although this is her at the tail end of that life.
* MistakenForGay: When Maria calls up [[GTARadio Chatterbox]], she thinks Lazlow is gay.
* MoralGuardians: It started up a whole new round of discussions about the dangers of violent video games.
* MythologyGag: A few.
** A New York City [[NoCommunitiesWereHarmed stand-in]] by the name of Liberty City first appeared as the setting of [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoClassic the first GTA.]]
** Subway advertisements for ''Top Down City'', a reference to the previous games' TopDownView.
** El Burro was a potential employer of the player in the first game's San Andreas.
** A "Claude Speed" resembling the Claude of III appeared ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoII'' 's live action intro. He gets shot in both.
** The [[{{MegaCorp}} Zaibatsu Corporation]], here reduced to peddling pharmaceuticals and cars for soccer moms, was an employer in all zones of ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoII''.
** Both of the previous games included a radio station named "Head Radio."
* NewYorkSubway: The Portland Island El, and the Liberty City Subway itself is based off of the New York City Subway.
* NoGearLevel: The final mission.
* NoPronunciationGuide: While for the most part, the voice actor for Tony Cipriani pronounces his name Sipriani, there is one instance in one of his missions where he messes up and pronounces it Kipriani.
* PrettyInMink: Maria's tiger skirt, and she mentions she knows a lot about leopard skin furniture.
* PsychoExGirlfriend: Catalina.
* RetiredBadass: You'd never know it just from this game, but just three years before Claude met up with him, [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoLibertyCityStories Toni Cipriani was every bit as crazy and murderous as him.]]
* RewardingVandalism: This was the last ''GTA'' game where [[TheArtifact smashing into/blowing up cars earned money on its own]].
* RooftopConfrontation: Squaring off with Catalina's helicopter on the Cochrane Dam.
* ShoutOut: [[ShoutOut/GrandTheftAuto All on this page.]]
* SmallRoleBigImpact: Nothing in the game would have happened were it not for the "Old Oriental Gentleman" and the Cartel freeing him from the police transport, which also allowed you to get free too.
* ShrugOfGod: [[spoiler:Did Claude shoot Maria?]] "No one knows for sure what happened there" is the official line.
* TheSociopath: Catalina, Claude too if you choose to go on a rampage.
* SoundtrackDissonance: Violent gang activities + Double Clef Channel = This.
* AStormIsComing: Immediately after the credits roll. The game resumes with Claude $1 million richer, and a thunderstorm raging over the city below. Mwu ha ha.
* SuperDrowningSkills: [[HandWave Supposedly]] because the waters of Liberty City are insanely toxic.
* TakeThat: Asuka contracting you to kill a "[[{{Driver}} strangely animated undercover cop]]." Even his car is the same.
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: One of the late Mafia missions has you tailing a person of interest when gets into a taxi. If you manage to hijack the taxi that's parked outside the club before the target appears or take a taxi for yourself and park in the same area, the person will get into your taxi and you get to escort him to his destination. Of course, driving like a maniac will still spook him and make the mission fail.
* TitleDrop: A notoriously difficult mission, where you must steal 3 cars and deliver them to the Yakuza within 6 minutes and without a single scratch, is called "Grand theft auto".
* ThirdIs3D: Averted. [[VideoGame3DLeap Although this game brought the series into 3D]] the title opts for a simple III rather than "3D."
* TooSoon: After 9/11, Rockstar North changed the paint jobs on the police cars so that they didn't resemble those of the [[NewYorkCityCops NYPD]]. Some pedestrian dialogue was also changed, and a whole character and associated mission set (which involved acts of terrorism) was cut out, with his missions {{Retool}}ed or presented out of context as Rampages. There was insufficient time between the disaster and publication for extensive alterations.
* TheUnintelligible: The Yardies. Good luck interpreting their accents with subtitles turned off.
* VideoGame3DLeap: A leap so huge [[WideOpenSandbox it created a whole new genre]].
* VillainProtagonist: Claude, with some AntiHero traits.
* TheVoice : The leaders of three gangs each situated on one of the three islands in the city call you via pay phone and have you run errands for them. At no point in the game do you actually get to meet them.
** In Portland, you are contacted by El Burro of the [[GenericEthnicCrimeGang Hispanic Diablo Gang]].
** When you reach Staunton Island, you are contacted by King Courtney of the [[TheYardies Jamaican Yardies]].
** After unlocking Shoreside Vale, D-Ice of the [[GangBangers Red Jacks]] gives you a call.
* [[WeUsedToBeFriends We Used To Be Lovers]]: Claude and Catalina.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Donald Love will simply disappear when the mission "Decoy" is finished. The only thing he leaves behind is an empty box.
** Although you unfailingly see a plane flying away during the cutscene where you wonder where he's gone. It can be assumed that he's on it.
* WritersCannotDoMath: An AdBumper for Head Radio calls the station "the rock of Liberty City for sixty years". This would mean they started out in 1941, Rock & Roll wasn't invented by then.
** This becomes a RunningGag in ''Vice City'' (set in the 1980s), in which Lazlow, there the DJ of the rock station V-ROCK, claims the station has been around for seventy years.
----