* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/GrandTheftAutoIV See here.]]
* AnticlimaxBoss: Every major villain is killed rather easily.
* {{Anvilicious}}: While there's satire on both ends of the political spectrum, most of it is aimed at the right wing of American politics, with the animated show ''Republican Space Rangers'', the right-wing "Family Values" mayoral candidate [[spoiler:and [[ArmouredClosetGay closet case]]]] Bryce Dawkins, and the talk radio station WKTT, hosting expies of Radio/RushLimbaugh and (in the expansion packs) Radio/AlexJones. The game did take several jabs at left-wingers (most notably with the Creator/{{NPR}}-esque radio station Public Liberty Radio, and its assorted hosts and guests), but they were relatively fewer in number. Rockstar also drops the anvil on Jack Thompson, along with just about every aspect of modern American culture in general.
* BestLevelEver: "Three Leaf Clover," the bank heist mission based on ''Film/{{Heat}}''. The mission was so well received that ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'' was built around several heist missions.
* BothSidesHaveAPoint: Niko chastises Darko for selling him out their fallen comrades over $1000 worth of cocaine. And Darko returns the favor to Niko, saying he has killed many people for money.
* BrokenBase: Some fans think that the DarkerAndEdgier feel of the game gives it a weight and maturity that the other GTA games just don't have. Other fans believe that this game is too dark and depressing even by GTA standards. This is partly why ''[[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIVTheBalladOfGayTony The Ballad of Gay Tony]]'' is far more LighterAndSofter.
* ContestedSequel:
** One one hand, there are many longtime ''GTA'' fans who consider this game to be a disappointing follow up to ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'' due to the smaller game world, no airplanes, harder to control vehicles, the PC version's exorbitant hardware requirements and usage of Games for Windows - Live; and the fact that it mostly abandons the zany, over-the-top nature of previous ''GTA'' games in favor of gritty realism.
** On the other, there are many fans that think this game has the best story in the series [[TrueArtIsAngsty in part due to the darker setting]] on top of having well crafted characters, antagonists and the tone in general. Not to mention [[SeinfeldIsUnfunny at the time]] it had one of the most (if not the most) complex representation of [[UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity a real-life city]], with outstanding attention to detail. Also the [[VideoGame/TheLostAndTheDamned downloadable]] [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIVTheBalladOfGayTony expansions]] reintroduced a lot of the side activities (including gang wars) that were lost in the transition, alleviating this a little bit.
* DarknessInducedAudienceApathy:
** The game runs the risk of provoking this reaction towards players and especially GTA fans by being a DeconstructorFleet of the GTA series. The game is relentless about showing how unrealistic and flawed are concepts like EvilPaysBetter, DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangster and the anti-heroic characterization of your usual GTA protagonist. The problem is that all this negativism and cynicism comes from a GTA game, a game known for its over-the-top portrait of the organized crime.
** As for the storyline: Niko Bellic moves to the United States for a fresh start at life, but it goes down the toilet when his cousin, Roman, gets him roped up in his debt and antics. The entire story shows Niko doing nothing but trying to please his selfish cousin who always seems to get himself into trouble, while Niko always bitches about it as he continuously helps his cousin out. It eventually leads to Niko being hunted down by a mobster throughout the game, but it doesn't build up from there; Niko just continues doing side jobs for random people while still complaining about his cousin's gambling habits and debt. On top of this, nearly every person Niko meets is either a backstabber or suffers from attachment issues, making nearly everyone unlikable and leaves the player wondering why they should care about a bunch of crazy people.
** One of the selling points when the game was released was that you can make choices that will impact the story. The problem is, [[LyingCreator this isn't the case]]. Almost every choice you make does nothing to the plot, and the choices as to who to kill always have an obvious "right" answer (from a gameplay standpoint if nothing else). The only choice you make that actually changes anything is the Deal or Revenge choice that sets up your ending, [[spoiler:and someone at Roman's wedding will still die either way]].
* EarWorm: Inevitable, due to the in-game radio stations, some songs stick a bit more than others.
* EnsembleDarkHorse:
** Brucie Kibbutz. He is a loud, egotistical, steroid abusing, violent, sexist jerk (and most likely a self-denying closet case to boot), but [[{{Keet}} he's just so enthusiastic about everything]].
** Dwayne may also fall into this. Most players chose to [[spoiler:kill Playboy X]] because they sympathized with Dwayne so much. Either that, or because of the reward (a subversion of EvilPaysBetter), or because [[spoiler:Playboy X is a hypocritical, backstabbing, SmugSnake asshole]].
** Little Jacob also has a ''huge'' fanbase amongst stoner fans of the series, because of a combination of the [[TheUnintelligible amusing way he talks]], [[EruditeStoner his Rasta wisdom sayings]] (can' be shakin' no hands wit' ya fist clenched), and because [[TheStoner he smokes like a chimney]]. Also, because he's actually the closest thing Niko has to a real friend in Liberty City. It doesn't hurt that he's also your main source of weapons for much of the game.
** As is [=Packie McReary=], the Irish mobster who also becomes BashBrothers with Niko. He ended up becoming a fan favorite to the point that he [[spoiler: ends up becoming a recruitable heist member in GTAV.]]
** Bernie Crane (formally Florian Cravic) is somewhat this due to his personality and for some added humour and while many others felt sympathy for him [[spoiler:since the mission where Niko finds the homophobic hater who threatened Bernie and kills the hater]].
* EvilIsCool: Subverted with Niko Bellic. While he is a man who wants to get away from violence and crime, more than one NPC will be surprised by how effective he is as a ProfessionalKiller.
* SugarWiki/FunnyMoments: [[Funny/GrandTheftAutoIV See here]].
* GameBreaker: The game's single-player-only cheat codes. Note that if you are trying to earn achievements, using certain cheats[[note]]i.e. restore health and armor, get ammunition and weapons, remove wanted level, and spawn the Annihilator chopper[[/note]] will block some of the achievements from ever being unlocked for the rest of your save... if you haven't earned them yet. If you ''have'' all those achievements unlocked before entering any of those premium cheats, then it is possible to use those cheats to your heart's content to breeze through the single-player campaign and earn the remaining single-player achievements. This extends to ''The Lost and Damned'' as well, but not ''The Ballad of Gay Tony'', as entering cheats during a mission in the latter episode will prevent you from earning a percentage rating.[[note]]There are a couple achievements for earning high percentage scores in all ''[=TBoGT=]'' missions.[[/note]]
* GoodBadBugs:
** The "Swingset of Doom" is a child's playground in Broker that has some wonky physics. Many Website/YouTube videos show players slowly driving cars into it, only for them to instantly explode or be flung half the length of the city. Another one, probably the funniest in the game, occurs when you take a friend or girl out for a date. When you return, park in the lit up area so that the passenger door is blocked. Your friend will politely thank you for taking them bowling, then ''punch Niko in the jaw'' and climb out the driver's door over his prone body.
*** On two different occasions, [[https://youtu.be/Y-BvIfm3G9Q?t=3m18s one result]] had Niko being whiplashed by the swingset, and [[https://youtu.be/RGr3vaBSUxE?t=3m28s another]] actually had him ''fly across half of the entire map.''
** If your car is damaged to the point that it stalls out, dialing any number on your cell phone will get it started up again. The car will still eventually [[EveryCarIsAPinto catch fire and explode]] if you keep taking damage, however.
** There exists a bug that if you try to his someone with a rocket launcher directly, the rocket will bounce off and hit something else, or bounce off the ground depending on the angle. With great timing and luck, you can hit a soldier sitting on the side of the Annihilator helicopter, bounce the rocket off him, and take out the other chopper that appears when you have more than two stars. Difficult to do, but hilarious and awesome if done right.
* HarsherInHindsight:
** Early in the game Niko, an Eastern European immigrant, triggers a six star wanted level if he leaves Broker or Bohan due to a terrorism scare mentioned on the in-game Radio/GTARadio. In April 2013, the cities of Boston and Watertown were locked down hunting for an actual Eastern European immigrant terrorist. As the Boston police response expanded to include helicopters and armored vehicles, internet commenters took it upon themselves to declare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's "wanted level."
** The game's satire of various political issues (the Jingoism Act, the LCPD slogan "We see it all, we know it all") becomes a ''lot'' more cutting after the revelation of NSA surveillance and other such programs.
** The Creator/FoxNewsChannel {{Expy}}, Weazel News features a commercial that touts their diversity by introducing an [[TokenMinority Asian news anchor]] with an oriental gong sound. In October 2016, ''Series/TheOReillyFactor'' correspondent, Jesse Watters, filmed a segment in New York's Chinatown that many people saw as extremely racist. Here is a [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX8jZTN0CdU rebuttal]] from ''Series/TheDailyShow''.
* HilariousInHindsight: [[HilariousInHindsight/GrandTheftAutoIV See here]].
* HypeBacklash: Lots of critics gave it perfect scores (including the infamous 10/10 from IGN, whose last perfect score was ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime''). Months later when the hype died down, some fans began criticizing the game for [[MisaimedRealism among]] [[ScrappyMechanic other]] [[PortingDisaster things]], being too much of a departure from the previous games in the series.
* JerkassWoobie:
** Niko. Sure, he is a career criminal, but we cannot forget that he is the GTA protagonist with the most tragic, awful and dark backstory. He witnessed several war crimes and horrors when he fought in the Yugoslav Wars such as child murder, mass murder and rape. After the war, he lived in extreme poverty, decided to contact a Russian mobster and things just got worse for him, he was blamed for the sinking of a ship and was chased by the Russian mafia all over Europe. In Liberty City, he committed crimes because of the circumstances and ends up losing a loved one.
** Dwayne, mainly because he's TheAtoner. He clearly hates the criminal life he had and only caused him paranoia and psychological problems. That, and having grown up with an abusive father who brutally beat his mother.
** Roman. Since Niko's arrival, he'd been stabbed, kidnapped, shot, tied up and beaten by ruthless mobsters, [[spoiler: had his apartment and taxi company (that also contained the ring he was going to propose to Mallorie with) burnt down]] and [[ArsonMurderandJaywalking had his computer broken]] but never, ever lost faith in his cousin.
** Patrick [=McReary=]. He is an extremely self-destructive guy, and if you pay attention to his dialogues when he is drunk, he will mention that he is depressed (to the point of thinking about suicide), hates his lifestyle, and his father was horribly abusive to him.
* LoveToHate: [[spoiler:Dimitri Rascalov]]. Sure, he was a massive HateSink and a total ass, but you can't deny that he was a very efficient antagonist for the storyline.
* MagnificentBastard:
** [[TheSpook The Contact]] is able to effortlessly play Niko, accomplish his goals, and get away without a scratch.
** Gerald "Gerry" [=McReary=], [[TheIrishMob the irish mobster]]. A {{chessmaster}} who, with his limited resources, planned a lot of damage against the Albanian mafia and [[TheMafia the Ancelottis]], causing the ties of both gangs to break.
* MemeticMutation:
** "HEY COUSIN, LET'S GO BOWLING!"
** "BIIIIIG AMERICAN TITTIES!"
** "YELLOW CAR!"
*** MEESTER MAAAAAN!"
** STUPID MALAKA!
** [[WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation "HEY NIKO, EETS YOUR CAZAN!"]]
** [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/IMMA_LEVIN_WITH_RAMEN.jpg IMMA LEVIN WITH RAMEN!]]
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-620xx7yTo Carmageddon has begun.]]
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kLEoHwMgO0 This]]: Courtesy of Roman. Wait until 00:18.
* MoralEventHorizon: [[MoralEventHorizon/GrandTheftAuto See here.]]
* MostAnnoyingSound: In the "Bleed Out" mission, Roman constantly telling you to hurry up while chasing Dardan can become very annoying very quickly.
* MostWonderfulSound: The menu sounds.
** The little riff that plays while the game is auto-saving after a successful mission. There are even several versions of it to fit the mood of each situation.
* {{Narm}}:
** "I'm here for Roman!"
** The aforementioned "I'm leaving here with Roman!"
** Most of the girlfriends' lines during sex. Kiki's stands out in particular. "Ohhh, Niko, you can prosecute me ''any time''".
** Also, refer to KarmicDeath on the [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV main page]]. "I am not in the mood for this right now!!"
** Niko will often yell random obscenities at enemies during missions. The level of rage and profanity is just hilariously at odds with his normally cool and collected personality during cutscenes.
-->(after killing two random gangsters) '''AAAAAAAARRGH, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!'''
** Jim Fitzgerald's lines in "No Way on the Subway" have become infamous for their poor delivery. This can be partly explained since Jim was originally just a bit character appearing in that one mission, instead of the fully-fledged character we got to see in "The Lost and Damned".
* PlayerPunch: Used in very interesting ways. [[spoiler:Not only is there the DownerEnding in the original game where either Roman or Kate dies, but ''The Lost and Damned'' add-on pack intertwines the stories such that many of the player punch moments in one become ''missions'' in the other.]]
** The first would have to be [[spoiler:Dimitri's betrayal]], which hits rather hard considering how ''decent'' he seems at first (especially next to Mikhail).
** [[spoiler:Unfortunately, Kate appears later in the game and can be one of four women Niko can juggle by that point. Because many players didn't get particularly attached to Kate (no gameplay benefits for dating her, when the optional girlfriends can restore your health, get rid of a three-star or lower wanted level, or give you a discount on clothes, and unlike the other four women there is no OptionalSexualEncounter with Kate, no matter how high her fondness level is), her death was not as meaningful as it could have been for them. Rockstar should have allowed you to choose your date.]]
** A less personal example occurs when a dying cop will sometimes say [[IfIDoNotReturn "Tell my wife I love her."]] It serves as a jarring reminder that the cops you're killing are [[WhatMeasureIsAMook more than just mooks.]]
* PortingDisaster: The PC version of the game does a poor job of translating the controls to a keyboard and mouse configuration, has a horrible software protection scheme that requires the installation of near-useless bloatware in order to use multiplayer, has very demanding system requirements out of line with similar titles, ''three'' instances of [[DigitalPiracyIsEvil DRM]] [[note]] Games for Windows - Live, [=SecureROM=], and the Rockstar Social Club [[/note]] attached to the game, and a multitude of {{Game Breaking Bug}}s if your system configuration is cursed. Luckily, patching has fixed many of these problems; and a healthy [[GameMod modding]] community has aided its reputation further.
* TheScrappy:
** Manny Escuela is TheScrappy to Niko, to the point where the normally stoic Niko later makes several jokes about Manny to Elizabeta and Little Jacob, who share his sentiments:
--->'''Elizabeta''': I think it'll be a bit more taxing than hanging with Manny on "the streets".
--->'''Niko''': Not so. For one, I won't have to listen to him talk.
--->'''Elizabeta''': [''laughing''] True!
** Michelle. [[spoiler:It's justified when she's working for the government all along and Niko doesn't punish her]]. Well, the bright side is [[spoiler:after introducing to her boss]], she doesn't show up again. [[spoiler:Until ''[[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV V]]'' that is...]]
* ScrappyMechanic: The friendship system. On paper, it was a good idea to help immerse the player into the game by allowing the player to hang out with the characters outside of missions, kind of like how they would in real life. In practice, it is best described with the following words: '''''[[MostAnnoyingSound "HEY NIKO, IT'S ROMAN!]] [[MemeticMutation LET'S GO BOWLING!"]]''''' Having friends call you every few hours and interrupt your gameplay to hang out proved to be more annoying than immersive, especially later on as your list of friends started to build up to as high as ''six'' (and that's not counting the optional girlfriends). Rockstar North must have realized how annoying this system was too, downplaying it in ''Episodes from Liberty City''. Friends still call to arrange activities, but not as often. Also, perks (access to a gun van and vehicle delivery) are unlocked from the start in ''EFLC'' instead of earned through repeated outings to raise the friend's like statistic.
** The system might have worked if you didn't ''lose'' friendship rating for turning down appointments or turning up a bit late. Or if they could have found their own way across town, especially if one person was in Alderney and the other in eastern half of Liberty City, and met you instead of forcing you to pick them up and drop them off each time.
** It gets slightly less annoying when you realize that you can cancel the outing immediately afterwards with no penalty to your friendship rating. [[GuideDangIt Naturally, the game makes no mention of this whatsoever.]]
** Another thing the game fails to mention is that if you use a friend's ability often they will not call you for activities. It is very possible to go through the whole game constantly using things like Jacob's arms dealing and Roman's taxi service for cheap guns and fast travel as often as possible and not get a single call from them for a day out unless you haven't called them in a while.
** Sometime during the development of ''IV'', Rockstar felt that flying helicopters was too fun, and decided to make the game's few air vehicles absolute ''nightmares'' to control properly. Either that, or the game's physics engine ultimately made helicopter piloting [[RealityIsUnrealistic too realistic]]. The game fails to tell you that you can stabilize and hover the copter by letting go of the controls for a bit.
** After completing a mission, Niko usually calls the quest-giver to inform them. Normally, this is not an issue. Some missions, however, end with an active wanted level. With cops shooting at you. While Niko is on the phone and can't shoot back or even ''run''. Naturally, if the player dies during this point or hangs up, any story developments raised in the phone call are {{Permanently Missable|Content}}.
** The boat-like driving has been a common gripe fans have had about this game, though this borders on BrokenBase, since there are a section of players who are okay with the driving controls.
** The bike controls is almost universally considered to be one of the games weakest points, even for experienced players. Thankfully Rockstar fixed this for the biker-themed ''The Lost and Damned'' DLC.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSong: Intentional. The game has an in-universe parody of ''Series/{{CSI}}'' called "The Science of Crime", whose theme song (which you can download to your cell phone) sounds ''very'' similar to "[[Music/TheWho Won't Get Fooled Again]]" (which is, in turn, the theme of ''Series/CSIMiami''). Well, the "yeahhh!" and some of the keyboard bars at least.
** Considering the radio commercials all feature a David Caruso soundalike [[GlassesPull spouting]] [[QuipToBlack one-liners...]]
* ThatOneLevel:
** Several levels have the potential to be this depending upon the player's skill with gunfighting or driving certain vehicles. The mission "No Way on the Subway" is spectacularly difficult as it requires riding a poorly handling motorbike while trying to shoot down two guys riding motorbikes, all while avoiding traffic (and, later, subway trains). Oh, and if you don't take out the bad guys fast enough you have to jump your bike off bridges, and if you don't know how to handle a bike in the air, sayonara.
** "Three Leaf Clover", [[BestLevelEver despite its reputation]], could be this due to not only multiple officers shooting you and the brothers, but the most of the [[{{Mooks}} NOOSE officers]] can kill you very easy with their rifles if you're not careful. To top it all off, after exiting the subway underground, you still must escape the 3-star police pursuit using a 4-door car and you must be quick to escape.
** The finale mission definitely qualifies, not because it's difficult (as you'd expect it to be) but because regardless with option you take, the mission is extremely long, with no opportunity to save and no checkpoints. Both versions involve a very long car chase, then an intense gun battle, then a chase in the water or in the air, and then finally a footchase. Not to mention, during your first time of this finale, it's easy so mess up during the chase if you don't know the scripted sequences or signs of them.
** "Catch The Wave" is extremely frustrating, first off you have to make a long drive to your destination that you cannot skip, then you end up in a garage with very limited cover with enemies around every corner, and to top it off it's an EscortMission, and your escort Phil is prone to occasional bouts of stupidity like running directly into enemy gunfire. If you take your time too much you risk Phil getting killed, if you're too reckless you'll get killed in no time, the most reliable way to do the mission is to park the truck a certain way so that Phil gets stuck, giving you time to clear out the building without having to worry about him getting killed.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodCharacter:
** In [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIVTheBalladOfGayTony The Ballad of Gay Tony]], there's Brucie Kibbutz' brother, [[BigBrotherBully Mori]], who could've easily been introduced to Niko through [[LargeHam Brucie]] and could've given Niko a more understanding and sympathetic of a view towards Brucie.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot:
** At one point, Jacob says relations are getting strained with pot-paranoid Badman, and Niko utters the oh-so-[[ChekhovsGun Chekhovian]] line (especially alongside choices like [[spoiler:Playboy/Dwayne]] and [[spoiler:Francis/Derrick]]) "I'd hate to see what would happen if you two got in a fight!" Neeeever happens. [[spoiler:Considering how Badman shows up at Roman's wedding at the end regardless of the route taken, however, it's possible that Jacob managed to talk him down at some point.]]
** It also seemed like hints were being dropped that the [=McRearys=] would try to [[spoiler:bust Gerry out of prison]], but if so that was another cruel tease.
*** It's possible that the finale mission of ''The Lost and the Damned'' was intended to [[spoiler:bust Gerry out of prison]], but they re-wrote the plot later.
** It's extremely obvious the player was originally supposed to be able to choose to kill either [[spoiler: Phil Bell or Ray Boccino. Considering how Phil showed himself to be far more trustworthy than Ray, it would've been obvious which one most players would pick, but then again, the Playboy X/Dwayne dilemma played out in a similar way.]]
** Early in the game, the story seems to be foreshadowing a confrontation between between Niko and his old boss, Ray Bulgarin, whom he, at first, has far more of a personal connection with than he does with Dmitri Rascalov. Instead Dmitri serves as the BigBad of Niko's story while Bulgarin disappears until the ''DLC'', ''[[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIVTheBalladOfGayTony The Ballad of Gay Tony]]'' where he oddly becomes the nemesis to Luis instead.
* TrueArtIsAngsty: Widely [[BrokenBase (though not universally)]] considered to have the best story in the series, thanks in part to the [[DarkerAndEdgier darker tone]], its attempt to [[InternalDeconstruction deconstruct the series]] in general, and its sympathetic [[DysfunctionJunction (yet screwed up)]] cast of characters.
* UncannyValley: [[UsefulNotes/HillaryClinton The Statue of Happiness]]' face is a bit... [[NightmareFuel disturbing]]. That smile...
** Not to mention what's ''[[BeatStillMyHeart inside]]'' [[BeatStillMyHeart the statue]]...
** [[spoiler: Darko]]'s resemblance to Niko is ''[[https://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/gtawiki/images/9/9c/DarkoBrevic-GTAIV.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20150528082746 very]]'' [[https://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/gtawiki/images/f/fb/NikoBellic-GTAIV.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20100711132234 jarring]]. It almost makes him appear like a [[NotSoDifferent twisted reflection of Niko]].
** The opening cutscene to Blow Your Cover is a party at Elizabeta's place. Every guest other than Niko, Elizabeta, Johnny, and Playboy has their face locked into an expressionless, unblinking stare. This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that the cutscene brings at least two of them into very clear focus.
* TheWoobie:
** Ilyena Faustin -- The cutscenes for Mikhail's missions sometimes start off with her arguing with Mikhail, only to storm off crying. During "Final Destination", she lets Niko in for tea, reminiscing when her husband cared for her, only to change as a result of his drug addiction. Mikhail then comes in, throws away the samovar for making them look "barbaric", and tells her off. When Niko meets her later at Firefly Island, her husband's death [[spoiler:causes her to lose her husband's luxurious house and is forced to move in with a small apartment with her daughter, who is having an affair with a "slimeball", worried that he will turn her daughter into a hooker "or worse"]]. During the encounter, you have a choice of beating up the slimeball (resulting in Ilyena thanking Crypto for saving her daughter), killing the stalker (resulting in Ilyena getting angry at Niko for killing a man, calling him NotSoDifferent to Mikhail), or letting him run away (resulting in Ilyena lamenting that her daughter has run away and she is now alone). It really shows how affected she is by [[spoiler:Mikhail's death]].
** Kate [=McReary=]. Just like Ilyena, she is not a criminal and has spent her entire childhood with a toxic family environment that has stressed her for years. [[spoiler:His death only makes everything more tragic]].
----