Video Game: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

That's gonna be a hell of a story to tell when we passin' the blunt...
"After five years on the east coast, it was time to go home."
Carl "CJ" Johnson

The original Grand Theft Auto game had three cities: Liberty City, Vice City - and San Andreas. Rockstar Games took wide-open sandboxes to the next level in 2004 by turning San Andreas into an entire state. It has three major cities: Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas. It also has nearly a dozen small towns, and loads of land in between them.

The game puts the player in the shoes of Carl "CJ" Johnson (Young Maylay), a good guy, relatively speaking, a first for the series. CJ is a gangster from the Grove Street Families who left the city of Los Santos, San Andreas after his brother Brian was killed, but is returning home after a five-year stint in Liberty City to bury his murdered mother, Beverly.

Shortly after arriving, C.R.A.S.H. officers Frank Tenpenny (Samuel L. Jackson) and Eddie Pulaski (Chris Penn) pick him up and plant evidence implicating him for the murder of Ralph Pendlebury, another cop whom the unit offed before he can expose their corrupt dealings. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's also the mystery of the green roadster which performed the drive-by on Beverly Johnson, as well as corrupt elements within the GSF that want a slice of the burgeoning coke trade. Saving Grove Street, and ultimately Los Santos, from the machinations of C.R.A.S.H. will take CJ all over the state of San Andreas, where he'll have to rub elbows with Chinese casino owners, rap moguls, Mexican gangbangers - as well quite a few familiar faces.

San Andreas's reception was like pretty much every other 3D Grand Theft Auto game. In other words, it was received with a hell of a lot of love from gamers. For many, San Andreas has gone down in gaming history as one of the best of its era. While not without controversy (the Hot Coffee Minigame scandal was especially idiotic), it enjoyed overwhelmingly positive reviews by critics and fans alike, and has made millions in sales. San Andreas is still widely considered to be one of the best games in the series, and to this day, many will call it one of the best games of all time. One reason for this is because of its absolutely huge sandbox area — three full cities and numerous towns and countryside areas, as opposed to other games which were positively claustrophobic by comparison.

Fans of the game may want to check out this Let's Play told almost entirely from CJ's perspective that is basically an illustrated novelization of the game, fleshing out the story and filling in some plot holes.

Rockstar returned to San Andreas in 2013 with Grand Theft Auto V, however this reimagined version only depicts Los Santos and surrounding countryside, though GTA: San Andreas' use of small rural towns is retained. Some elements of the original Los Santos remain, such as the Vinewood analog for Hollywood, and some shoutouts to the original game. Technically speaking, the sandbox play area for the game is actually much larger than GTA: San Andreas, though players have also noted that, conversely, it also feels smaller at the same time (perhaps due to there being only one distinct city in the new game). Grand Theft Auto IV, meanwhile, gave Las Venturas a cameo in one of its in-game TV commercials, suggesting it still exists and could someday be featured in another game, along with San Fierro.

A remastered version was released for the Xbox 360 on 26 October 2014 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the game.

If you're looking for the 2015 disaster film of the same name, go here.

Tropes in this game:

  • 23: This gem of a conversation between protagonist Carl Johnson and The Truth:
    Carl Johnson: What's with all the aluminum foil, man?
    The Truth: Protection from mind control, dude.
    Carl Johnson: Mind control?
    The Truth: Induction of images, sound or emotion using microwave radiation. D'you know how many government satellites are watching any citizen at any moment?
    Carl Johnson: No.
    The Truth: Twenty-three. Do you know how many religious relics are kept at The Pentagon?
    Carl Johnson: No, I don't.
    The Truth: Twenty three. You see a pattern emerging here, man?
    Carl Johnson: Man, I'm seeing patterns all over the place! Get that smoke out of my face!
  • 555: Played straight at one point, when Carl is asked to plant some evidence and then give 555-WE-TIP a call.
  • Acrophobic Bird: Averted somewhat. Once C.J. becomes pilot-trained, he can fly any plane wherever... except when the plot says 'No' or he tries to fly over the missile-equipped Area 69.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The third-generation games are prequels of the original game and each other, and San Andreas combines the best elements of all the games that came before (large sandbox, gang respect, plethora of vehicles, contrast of gritty working-class environments/glossy upper class estates, not to mention a protagonist that actually knows how to swim) to make a thoroughly satisfying game.
  • Affably Evil
    • Mike Toreno, who's pretty nice for a drug-runner and government agent shoulder-deep in eldritch information.
    • Same can be said for CJ, who comes off as a centered, caring guy despite lacking qualms to commit crimes throughout the game.
    • Big Smoke, whose cheerful and chummy nature denote his criminal tendencies. Especially his treachery and cocaine-dealing habits.
    • And also Woozie, the leader of the San Fierro Triad, who despite being a crime boss is depicted as very sympathetic and likable. So much so one expects Woozie to Face-Heel Turn on CJ, but he never does.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The Triad clan led by Wu Zi Mu refer to their leader as their "lucky mole" due to his uncanny ability to participate in gunfights, car races, and video games despite being blind. All his friends refer to him as "Woozie."
  • A.I. Breaker: When taking over gang territory, the defending gangsters will stick to the sidewalks as much as possible, walking entirely in single file at their default jogging speed. If they're on the wrong side of the sidewalk, they'll often double back ridiculous distances just to find a crosswalk. The only time they ever jaywalk is when they're close enough to shoot you. For a player with an assault rifle or sniper rifle, simply having a significant lead on the gangsters and going for headshots can turn the situation into a turkey shoot, which is good because the gangsters are ridiculously well armed.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: In the finale, CJ feels nothing but remorse over having to kill Big Smoke.
    Big Smoke: When I'm gone, everyone's gonna remember my name... BIG SMOKE!
    CJ: Damn. What a waste...
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • The Ballas attempt to do this in "Drive-Thru", but are stopped by the Grove Street OGs (save for Smoke). Later, the Ballas actually manage to assault Grove Street during "House Party", with Ryder leaving to gather up Smoke and some homies as backup, but Sweet, CJ and the remaining homies manage to drive the Ballas back. Both missions foreshadow the fact that Smoke and Ryder are not as loyal as they seem to be.
    • "The Green Sabre". Smoke and Ryder are soon revealed to have sold the Families out to Tenpenny and the Ballas. Before long, Sweet and the homies are ambushed at the Mulholland Intersection. CJ arrives just as Sweet gets hit. Once the police arrive, the Johnson brothers are arrested, and all of the territory Grove Street has at this point is lost.
    • After returning to Grove Street following your adventures in the other two sections of San Andreas, your first task is to liberate it from the Ballas, and later you have to retake a significant amount of territory to unlock the final mission.
  • Almighty Janitor: Frank Tenpenny, the Big Bad, is officially a patrolman with the LSPD. Unofficially, he's the gangland kingpin of Southern San Andreas.
  • Always Close: CJ's escape from Big Smoke's crack palace during the final mission. He barely manages to Outrun the Fireball.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • Subverted. Kendl identifies a lack of ambition as being CJ's major character flaw and most of the game is spent curing him of it. (On the other hand, most of the endeavors CJ's newfound ambition leads him into are criminal, so...)
    • Played straight with Big Smoke and Ryder, whose greed and ambition is what drove them to betray Grove Street and start setting up a major drug-dealing operation in Los Santos.
  • Anachronism Stew: Not overtly, but noticeable in some of the sights and sounds around San Andreas.
    • Some of the songs playing on the radio, like "It Was A Good Day" by Ice Cube are released after 1992, which is when the game takes place.
    • Certain cars, especially high-end ones, were based on real-life cars produced long after 1992, such as the Bullet, which is based on the 2005 Ford GT. That in turn was an almost exact copy design-wise of the Ford GT40, but the one in the game was undoubtedly chosen with the new car's release in mind.
    • Bit less obvious, but Sweet's attitude towards drugs and the purpose of gangs would be much more fitting in the early half of The '80s, when the crack epidemic was just starting. Crack also brought massive income, which led to more powerful firearms on the streets. The gangs that refuse to touch crack, such as the Families, the Aztecas and the Mountain Cloud Triads, would probably not have survived The '80s.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing some of the storyline and asset missions gets you some special outfits, which you may need to wear in order to progress through another mission. Also, achieving 100% progress with most of the girlfriends gets you an outfit related to their profession.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Sometimes missions will allow you to, once you grab a vehicle, skip the trip to the destination and just get there.
  • Anti-Hero: You, the rest of Grove Street (well, Sweet at least), Cesar and Woozie.
  • Anti-Villain: Of the Big Bad Triumvirate, Hernandez is the least malevolent (it also helps that he had to endure much of Tenpenny and Pulaski's bullying just because he's Mexican). His only major interaction with CJ is a call early in the game, warning him not to leave Los Santos. He eventually gives in to his conscience and tries to turn his partners in, even taking a bullet for CJ near the end of the game.
  • Anyone Remember Pogs?: The radio host of K-DST, Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith, mentions "Whatever happened to Love Fist?" at one point of his show. Love Fist was a fictional band from Vice City that was banned in many countries. In 1992 (when San Andreas takes place), however, they're all but forgotten (which may also be a reference to how hair metal became Deader Than Disco in the early 1990s). CJ meets the band's former manager late in the game, who has gone from a powerful entertainment figure and socialite to a washed-up has-been managing a no-name Scottish rapper with a masturbation addiction.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: In any given mission, assuming you have to drive there, you're limited to yourself and three other people for backup. You can actually recruit up to eight gang members for help, but only three are going to fit in the car and the NPC gangbangers don't know how to drive.
  • Arc Words:
    "Big Smoke — Remember the name!"
  • Area 51: Parodied with Area 69, which CJ breaks into to acquire a jetpack. Trying to enter the area will earn you an instant five-star wanted level, and if you fly over, you will be brought down by SAM sites and Hydra fighter jets.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Ambulances will speed to the scene of a casualty. And we do mean "speed" — they're liable to plough straight into/through any pedestrians standing near the body (with a seemingly greater-than-chance likelihood of hitting the PC, but that might be an attempt at Laser-Guided Karma...)
  • Artificial Stupidity: Unless they're firing out of a car, any NPC assistance you have is often more of a liability. They're generally only competent when they're scripted to be busy while you're doing some other objective.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • When you go to the ship, the "sailors" you run into are merely the game's stock military troops, wearing green (not even a color palette swap to blue). Which would still be incorrect for the time period, the sailors would be wearing the classic dungarees.
    • Minor, but there is no LHD 69 either (only USS Wasp (LHD 1) was in service at the time). But, of course, this is GTA, so what other hull designator would it be?
  • Artistic License – Physics: This moment from the mission "Breaking the bank at Caligula's".. And it's actually the only way to reach the helicopter. Open the parachute, and you won't be able to land on the roof where that helicopter is.
  • As the Good Book Says: Big Smoke often quotes the Bible ("'Man cannot live on bread alone'. I should know, I tried that shit.") but he's not exactly a saint.
  • Ate It All: The Grove Street Posse go out for a Drive-Thru meal at Cluckin' Bell. Big Smoke not only orders a ridiculously large portion for himself, but when the Ballas attempt a drive-by shooting, he manages to eat not only his own food, but the food ordered by his homies, while the rest of the gang are retaliating.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • The Hydra's hover mode. Trying to strafe ground targets is extremely difficult because the Hydra uses the camera controls for its additional functions, preventing you from righting the camera. The trio of sluggish response, split attention and proximity to ground clutter ends many joyrides with a boom.
    • In Las Venturas, you can steal a passenger jet. More impressive will be landing this unwieldy beast intact. You also can't save it in any garage because the thing is so big that it needs its own dedicated hangar in Las Venturas.
    • Any form of melee combat. Sure, you get some cool karate kicks and a move that can OHKO any NPC, but the actual chances you're going to use them will be almost non-existent. About the OHKO move, it takes about 6 seconds of a nicely pulled off kickboxing combo, but if you wanted to kill something, you may had as well used a weapon in the first place.
    • The Katana. Like the other example used above, the katana is pretty damn cool as it is the only melee weapon that lets you behead an NPC and has nice overall strenght. However, the only time you're going to use it on a mission will be the fight against the Da Nang leader, AKA Snake Head, and he'll never put up a decent fight and you might even kill him accidentally.
    • Lowriders, but especially the Savanna (a classic Chevrolet Impala with an open top). They look cool and handle fine in most circumstances, but they have a fatal flaw that is revealed when you flip one over. Unlike most cars where 9 times out of 10 it will manage to roll over safely, lowriders are far more likely to stay flipped due to having a flat top. This is especially notable in the mission "Photo Opportunity", where the challenge of the mission comes from driving Cesar's Savanna through the hilly countryside without flipping it.
    • The rocket launcher. It's powerful, sure, but has a terrible box crosshair that makes it hard to aim accurately, you have to lead your shots against moving targets, and getting caught in the blast is all too easy. By comparison, the minigun has far greater DPS, an accurate crosshair, and the only risk of hurting yourself is if you blow something up right next to you. It's also far more viable against human targets.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: As much shit as Sweet gives CJ, he still shows that he loves his brother dearly.
  • Ax-Crazy: Cesar describes his cousin Catalina as "really intense". As CJ finds out, this is a massive Understatement.
  • Back Stab: 'Stealth kills' are introduced to the series. Of course, civilians (and cops) don't really pay attention if CJ is running around with a minigun, so him having a knife works fine. Move up behind victim, target, attack, giggle maniacally. Oddly, though, this tends to increase the wanted meter more than when you just go up and hack them up with a katana and stealth be damned, but hey.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Sweet and CJ get to do this in a mission near the end of the game, which is essentially a two man army against a horde of Ballas.
  • Badass:
    • When the game starts, CJ is straight busta, but if you're playing right he becomes the baddest man in San Andreas by the end.
    • Also Sweet, Big Smoke and Ryder are this.
    • Catalina, despite being Ax-Crazy, also qualifies.
    • And T-Bone Mendez. He's a psycho, but definitely qualifies as well.
  • Badass Driver: The characters mercilessly mock your driving. At one point, they tell you to go to driver's ed. And then you do. Harsh. Admittedly, it's an advanced driving school, and those classes teach you how to be an even more badass driver (even in-game, as every 100% earned on a test increases your driving skill by an amount that would take about half an hour of nonstop driving).
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Carl Johnson can dress up pretty dapper, once the last store opens up.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: The Pool minigame. You can place bets- and if you lose, simply mug the winner and take your stuff back.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: The Burger Shot uniform, which includes a gigantic hamburger hat, and the Clucking Bell, a full-body chicken suit (the latter employee coming off as more disgruntled.)
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Subverted with Frank Tenpenny: he's bald, he's black, and he's a leader...of an evil band of Dirty Cops.
  • Bald of Evil: Officer Tenpenny has a shaved head. CJ can have his head shaved if the player chooses to do so, making it Bald of Awesome.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: There's a scene where you can fight a Vietnamese gang boss sword vs sword (he tosses one to you to duel). Of course, if by then you've picked up a shotgun, you're still more than free to use it.
  • Beef Gate: Initially, CJ is restricted to Los Santos and Red County; since he is the only GTAIII-era protagonist of the series who can actually swim, there is nothing preventing the player from entering the other regions before they are unlocked, but there is a penalty of a four-star wanted level if you do. Specifically, San Fierro, Whetstone and Flint County are inaccessible prior to completing "The Green Sabre" and Tierra Robada, Bone County and Las Venturas cannot be entered before completing "Yay-ka-boom-boom".
  • Berserk Button: CJ likes being called a "busta" as much as Woozie likes being made fun of for his blindness. He also seems to really hate reckless driving, ironically. But above all, do not mess with Kendl. So much as catcalling at her can trigger homicidal rage.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The game features a number of ways to bet money, including horse racing, low-rider bouncing and casinos with games such as poker and roulette.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
    • Wu Zi Mu, or "Woozie", is a laid-back, friendly, unassuming Chinese businessman who enjoys playing video games, racing cars, and golf despite being blind. He's also the boss of the Mountain Cloud Triads. When he found his men wiped out by the the Vietnamese Da Nang Boys, he rushes into the fray with a machine pistol and guns down everyone he can find, all the while threatening to to make their blood "flow like wine". CJ remains on his good side throughout the game, averting a potential Face-Heel Turn.
    • CJ himself is usually a pretty nice guy — for a gangbanger, though this may have something to do with having worked a legitimate job for the Leones in Liberty City for five years. But do not talk bad about his family, especially his sister Kendl. Or their late mother. Just ask Pulaski.
  • Big Dam Plot: There's a mission where you must put bombs into a dam, which is an Expy of the Hoover Dam.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: A longstanding legend in the game is that a Bigfoot can be found roaming the immense backwoods. A decade after the game's release, the legend persists.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Some of the abandoned desert tourist traps are restaurants shaped like the animals they serve, in a representation of a real trend in now-dated 50's-60's architecture toward giant objects.
  • Black Comedy: In "Ice Cold Killa", CJ needs a silenced pistol, but cannot find one. So Cesar takes out his silenced pistol out of nowhere and gives it to CJ. CJ asks where he got that. Cesar's answer? "Same place I buy my pants, holmes. This is America!"
  • Black Comedy Rape: One of the pre-mission cutscenes involves Carl being chained to a rack and raped by his hostile Tsundere partner, Catalina. Thankfully, this is off-screen. Unthankfully, there is audio.
  • Blatant Lies: At one point, you're told to go buy an abandoned air strip. You're also told to offer the owner a dollar, and if he doesn't accept, shoot him. There's no actual way to do that in the game — you need $80,000 to buy it, period. The scene comes off as a remnant of an intended mission.
  • Blind Driving: Woozie has a version - he's really good at racing around designed tracks (like the race where CJ first meets him), but regular driving tends eat up a lot of time (his right-hand man, after CJ asked where Woozie was, said that he insisted on driving himself. "Could be anywhere.")
  • Blindfolded Trip: The infamous moment where it's either really, really cool or controllers go flying.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Catalina is technically on the protagonist's side, but she's also one of the craziest characters in the game. When she drags him into her cabin for a good time (involving a whip and a rack—we don't see what goes on inside the cabin), he winds up screaming for her to stop (with no success.) (This is Played for Laughs, and he probably had it coming after all the stuff you've been having him do.)
  • Bonus Dungeon: After trudging through Zero's first two missions, which involve shooting down/fighting with toys on a very tight timer, you are treated RTS mission. However, it is probably the most fun mission in the game since it's virtually impossible to screw up, and hearing David Cross cheer you on when you do well at it creates quite the fuzzy feeling. Oh, and one of the previous scrappy levels becomes infinitely replayable after you beat it, although there is now no longer a penalty for failing it.
  • Border Patrol: Players who try to skip ahead to the other cities before the plot grants them access (indicated by literal Border Patrols — the bridges to these cities will be closed off and some cops will be standing behind the boundary) will find themselves suddenly slapped with a four-star wanted level, and usually be gunned down by police and/or helicopters shortly thereafter (I was just going for a swim, officer, honest!) They'll continue to chase you even if you go back into an open zone, but at least there you can access unlocked Pay 'n' Sprays and safehouses to help you lose your wanted level.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • Bikes. They're not the fast vehicles in the game by far (when riding up a hill, you can go faster on foot), give zero protection against bullets and you can't listen to your radio on one, but they're very easy to level up (which makes it harder for you to fall from it) and, with maxed out endurance or the unlimited sprint, they can still reach a decent speed. Where they truly shine is agility: it's far easier to lose a pursuer on a bike by going where he can't follow you rather than trying to outrun him.
    • Motorcycles retain the agility factor, but eliminate all the disadvantages except that they still offer no protection against bullets. The only downside motorbikes have that bikes don't is that you can reach sufficient speed to hurt yourself in a collision, which is far less likely in a bike unless you're specifically being chased.
    • Immunity to fire has very little practical application, but it makes certain levels of the game a lot more tolerable since you can charge through fire instead of wasting a weapon slot on an extinguisher. If you're fond of molotovs, it also completely removes the risk of hitting yourself.
  • Born Lucky: Woozie is blind, but he's so incredibly lucky that he can often pass as sighted anyways. He can even race a car along a narrow, winding ledge!
  • Bottomless Bladder: This game, more than any GTA before or since, pays great attention to personal matters — keeping fit and requiring CJ to eat occasionally, with penalties associated with eating too much or too little (or being not fit enough). But bathroom breaks are never factored in (which is probably a good thing).
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The rewards for achieving 100% Completion are a Rhino tank and Hydra jet that continually spawn at your hideout, as well as infinite ammunition for all weapons. Of course, since this is a sandbox game, it's still a lot of fun wreaking havoc with these things, so they're only useless in the sense that there are no more missions to complete.
  • British English: On rare occasions the fact the GTA games are actually made by a British company becomes evident. For example, the news radio station includes news reports referencing "the drugs trade"; Americans tend to singularize the word "drug" in that phrase, while the Brits use "drugs" in all uses.
    • During an early mission in which CJ has to whack a Families member who has been snitching to the Ballas, the subtitles advise you to kill the "grass".
    • Also true of certain jokes, for example Helena Wankstein's name being a reference to the British insult "wank stain" and the asset "Wang Cars" being a semi-homophone of "wankers". On the other hand, "wang" is also a slang term for penis, so it works either way.
    • Cluckin' Bell = Cockney rhyming slang for "fucking hell".
    • On-screen instructions frequently use the word "whilst". It's not a very common word in America, and it certainly doesn't fit the game's ghetto aesthetic.
  • British Rockstar: You meet up with two characters associated with a band who are largely parodies of this trope (though their style leans more towards pre-Britpop, like The Stone Roses, Suede and Happy Mondays). The lead singer's name is Maccer (he even wears a Reni hat).
  • Broken Bridge: At the beginning of the game, the bridges had been damaged by an earthquake. Double subverted in that, although you can swim, boat, or fly across, you will get a four star wanted level for even trying, and you can't do too much at those points anyway.
  • Brooklyn Rage: CJ spent five years living in Liberty City before the events of the game and returns for one mission.
  • Burger Fool: OG Loc's parole officer lined him up for a job at Burger Shot as a "Hygiene Technician" (fancy talk for janitor). His uniform, and that of everyone else who works there, includes an oversized burger hat, which, needless to say, looks ridiculous. Not to mention the chicken hat that is part of the uniform at Cluckin' Bell.
  • Buried Alive: The mission "Deconstruction," a conga line of Disproportionate Retribution, ends with pushing the foreman, who is hiding in a porta-potty, into a hole - and then filling the hole with cement.
  • But Thou Must:
    • The first mission requires you to use a bike. If you "acquire" something else, the game ceases to show the people you are meant to follow on your minimap and the Ballas car continues to chase and shoot you no matter where you go.
    • Many missions force you to use a specific, mission-critical vehicle, often for no good reason. It gets to the point that some NPCs will sit in an overturned, burning car while yelling at you to get back in until they die a fiery death and you fail.
    • There are also many, many occasions in the game where the vehicle you arrive in for a mission will disappear and be replaced by one provided for the mission. A fact worth noting before you take your expensive, tripped out car to meet Woozie or Toreno for their next mission. This can be avoided (to a point) by parking your car further away.
    • There are also missions where CJ is forced to use a specific weapon, despite others in his inventory (often replacing them). For example, in "Freefall" it doesn't matter if he has a mini-gun, CJ is forced to make do with a dinky 9mm pistol in the shootout. It happens inside a plane, though, so keeping the caliber down is somewhat justified if the game runs on Vinewood Physics. "Reuniting the Families" is particularly bad about this, because it will give you an infinite-ammo AK-47 and then take it (and all the ammo you might have had) once it's over.
    • One point of criticism leveled at the game is that a number of missions require C.J. to commit outright murder (including that of at least one innocent bystander, in this case a woman who happens to be unlucky enough to be the date of a man C.J. is assigned to assassinate), without the ability to Take a Third Option, which make it hard to sympathize with the character. While "following the script" is hardly unusual in a linear game, it does to a degree go against the sandbox philosophy of GTA.
    • Despite the above, the game does subvert the trope as, once the game reaches a certain point, the player is free to abandon the storyline and take part in any number of purely optional activities.
  • Call Forward: Players of GTA 3 know how Claude and Catalina's relationship will turn out.
  • Camera Fiend: Carl "CJ" Johnson has a camera in his Ganton home's bedroom, which he can pick up and even use in some missions.
    • Any photos you take when playing appear in the Gallery. They're basically a different sort of screenshot.
  • Camera Screw: The game had the "Helpful" camera change problem. While driving the camera focuses directly behind your vehicle, meaning you can't see what's in front of you on the road. There's a button you can hit to move it to a much more useful angle, but as soon as you let go of said button, the camera slides riiiiiight back into crap-town. Of course, you can drive in first person mode, but then you can't see anyone pulling up behind or to the side of you; it becomes incredibly difficult to extricate yourself from the kind of 46-point turn scenario that often comes up when trying to drive through alleyways, and over everything else; and of course not forgetting, the car inexplicably gets wider when you're in first person view.
    • In the PC port, it is possible to freely control the camera with the mouse, but as above if you stop moving the mouse for more than a second while driving, the camera refocuses to the back of the car.
  • Cane Fu: This occupies the "miscellaneous item" slot, on the same category as flowers and the dildo. It works exactly as a blunt katana, without the One-Hit Kill chance of decapitating the enemy you attack it with. It's all-around deadly all the same, however, moreso if you use the martial arts style learned in San Fierro for a mixed pattern of kicks and whacks. It also happens to be the most common melee weapon in the game, provided the player knows where to look for it.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: This is the way Mike Toreno communicates with Carl during missions. It's quite amazing how he manages to have a loudspeaker just where a plane-dropped package fell, despite it being carried away by wind quite a bit.
  • Cap: The game has a 9 digit money counter. If you go one dollar past $99,999,999 (which typically involves doing Vigilante Missions past Level 200 or grinding at the casino), it rolls over and adds another digit. The actual limit is $999,999,999. And CJ will still complain about desperately needing money.
  • Captain Crash: Woozie, a very bizarre ally, can drive maginificently. Walking into walls, however, is a frequent occurence. Even More amazing is the fact that he can drive while being blind.
    • Even more amusing is that his gang acts like he isn't blind at all. It is rather confusing especially since you meet him during a high speed race. Through the countryside. The Crowning Moment of Funny is when he confesses to CJ that he is blind. No shit, homie.
  • Captain Obvious: In the "WCTR" show "The Tight End Zone", Derrick Thackery frequently states blatantly obvious facts about football ("If you score more points than the other team, you win."), but in a twist, they're treated like insightful wisdom by his stupid call-in guests.
  • Car Cushion: This happens to CJ if he jumps out of the plane in "Stowaway" with no parachute.
  • Car Skiing: You can pull this off and get a bonus for doing so. Also, there's a side-mission in a stunt driving school where one of the tasks is to do one of these.
  • Cash Gate: There's a similar situation to Vice City — you need to buy an abandoned airfield to train your piloting skills and advance the main plot. The guy who tells you to buy it says you can blackmail the owners into selling it for a dollar, but you really have to pay 80 grand for it.
  • Casting Gag:
    • CJ, voiced by then-aspiring rapper Young Maylay, claims he's not part the rap game during one of OG Loc's missions.
    • The DJ of the classic rock radio station is Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith, an arrogant, aging has-been rocker whose former bandmates have gone on to greater fame while his own career has dwindled. He's still convinced that he's the most important musician ever, and gets angry when people point out he's living in the past. He's voiced by Axl Rose.
  • Cement Shoes: One mission has CJ, using a cement truck, pushing a construction foreman into a rectangular pit while the foreman is locked inside a portable bathroom stall. CJ then proceeds to dump cement from the truck inside the pit.
  • Central Theme: The betrayal and revenge theme found in the first two games is expanded upon. Loyalty to your homies drives most, if not all the plot.
  • Chain Link Fence: This works surprisingly well, since you can vault fences but it generally doesn't occur to the cops. They can still shoot you, though...
  • Chainsaw Good: There's a couple of chainsaws scattered around the map. As the guns dealer would say: "works best in a crowded area". Fittingly, one was in an out of the way hick-like town.
  • Character Development: CJ gets quite a lot of it.
    • Early game CJ has basically no longterm aspirations, as such he's always doing what others tells him instead of taking the lead and coming up with his own ideas (Los Santos missions basically consisting on blindly following instructions), he never stops to think about the possible consequences from his acts (such as what may happen after stealing and killing Madd Dogg's rhymes and manager respectively), and never dares to stand up against Tempenny's constant harassing (even though he doesn't really have a real, plausible way to coerce him to do his bidding before Sweet's imprisonment.
    • Late game CJ does stand up against harassing (he points a gun against Toreno when he believes he's not going to keep his promise, and even laughs in Tenpenny's face when he learns he's in trouble — he gets punched for the latter, but the point is that he did it); although he still follows other people's instructions, he's able to take the initiative if needed (the attack to Madd Dogg's mansion was CJ's idea, as was using Rosenberg to learn more about the Caligula for the heist); he realizes some of his earlier acts have caused unexpected damage (namely, Madd Dogg is almost Driven to Suicide, and Tenpenny getting free causes a riot) and is set out to repair it; and ends up owning a casino and several businesses all over San Andreas, which still doesn't prevent him from eventually coming back to the hood to take care of it.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: No checkpoints, ever. It's a GTA tradition. At least until the tablet and the 10th Anniversary Xbox 360 versions, which do have checkpoints.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When CJ asks about his mother's murder, Big Smoke mentions in passing that a Green Sabre was seen at the scene of the shooting. A green Sabre shows up in a later mission when CJ finds out that Smoke and Ryder are working with C.R.A.S.H. and the Ballas.
  • Cherry Tapping: How about the dildo? No, wait, it gets even worse: you can beat people to death even with a goddamn flower bouquet. Yep. The best part is that all of these weapons are obscenely powerful, killing any non-boss in three hits!
  • The Chick: Kendl, Carl's sister and Cesar's girlfriend (and later fiancee). She's smart enough to not let herself become a Distressed Damsel, but she does stay on the sidelines.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Frank Tenpenny, the Big Bad, has a raging case of the syndrome. The only character he doesn't screw over (often fatally) by the end of the game is Big Smoke, and then probably only because he hadn't yet outlived his usefulness.
  • Chubby Chaser:
    • Forth Right MC on Playback FM. "I want somethin' I can bounce up and down on!"
    • One of the player character's optional love interests is a female chubby chaser. Like all of the other women Carl romances, this is a way of getting more mileage out of the character customization. You can only date the gearhead Latina chick if CJ's fat meter is 50% or higher.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Medics from the ambulances can often revive dead people, unless their heads have been blown off.
  • Church of Happyology: The Epsilon Program. In the words of their leader, Cris Fromage, they "tithe money in exchange for salvation and merit badges," and their success may be partially attributed to their leader's charismatic, James Earl Jones-esque voice. Oh, and their holy text, the Epsilon Tract, has never even been written. Kifflom! They make their first appearance in the HD Universe in Grand Theft Auto V.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inverted with Mike Toreno who, while remaining extremely morally ambiguous, actually follows through on his offer to get Sweet out of prison.
  • Clean Up The Town: A large part of the story involves CJ and his homies (Sweet, anyway) trying to clean up their crack-ridden 'hood.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Truth is weird. Mike Toreno can come across like this, too, although he's much more balanced than most cuckoolanders.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This was the first GTA game to have prominent use of the word "fuck" in it, and fuck, does it get used a lot.
    • 365 times counting its variants and not counting random pedestrians/drivers curses, the in-game radio, and the couple instances of Mexican curses like "pendejo" or "chinga tu madre".
  • Color-Coded Armies: Street gangs in Los Santos are marked by what color they show off the most: Grove Street Families are green, Ballas are purple, Varrios Los Aztecas are aqua, and Vagos are yellow-orange. Ballas and Vagos will shoot at CJ on sight. When fighting turf wars, the map of Los Santos is divided into sections, shaded according to who controls it (barring the Aztecas, with whom GSF have an effective alliance thanks to Cesar being Kendal's boyfriend and later forging a friendship with CJ).
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the street gangs. The Grove Street Families are green, the Ballas are purple, the Aztecas are aqua, and the Vagos are yellow-orange.
  • Color Wash: Used for an accentuated atmospheric sense. Since San Andreas was a really huge state, with contrasting environments, there's a Color Wash scheme that differs from place to place. Los Santos had a slightly orangish weather with heat hazes. San Fierro had a unnaturally teal lighting to convey a mild-to-cold atmosphere. Las Venturas went for a less blatant color scheme, but still conveying a hot weather. The contry-sides had a pastel green/brown tint to them, and the deserts took it further with bright white/yellow skies that turned purplish at night.
  • Commune: A dark example, with a community of violent survivalists.
  • Compressed Hair: The player can choose to get a giant afro, which remains entirely undamaged by the wearing and removal of any headgear.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The Truth again. Subverted by Toreno indicating that any well-known conspiracy theories are, in fact, true. In short, Hitler never died, Germany (not the U.S.) nuked Japan, and Bill Clinton was a Soviet plant.
  • Construction Catcalls: The "Deconstruction" mission has C.J.'s sister Kendl complaining about the people of a local construction site hassling her and calling her a hooker. C.J. takes this badly. Very badly.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Certain events -trigger- allies into harassing you into continuing the mission. Such as if you... accidentally kill your Las Venturas casino employee girlfriend. Yeah, accidentally. That's the ticket.
    • Occasionally, if left alone for long enough, CJ will sing fragments from various songs of the early-90's, such as Walking on Sunshine.
  • Continuing Is Painful: There's respawning guns right outside your door, if you do certain fetch quests. Relatedly, you could save after the accomplishment of any difficult task, but too much saving in San Andreas creates a "can't beef up my stats by exercising" glitch. Sigh. Luckily, later patches corrected this.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: The game averts this with Tenpenny by having him only appear in cutscenes, presumably so no clever player could kill him before he's supposed to die (also in a cutscene). During the one mission where he is in gameplay, his fire truck is invincible and follows a pre-determined path.
  • Convenient Questing: Subverted. The plot drops you off in enemy territory and you have to bike like heck to get back home before being filled full of holes.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Jizzy's Pleasure Domes. Not a club per se, it's an illegal brothel sitting at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge (or its gaming equivalent, the Gant). Regardless, this is one of the posher interiors in the game, with a three-story dance floor and mezzanine. There are also a dance club to entertain dates in all three cities.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: If only on the PS2 and Xbox version.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The corridor is up the middle of a rising plane with the cargo loader door open. The random obstacles are barrels the enemies (human?) are pushing at you.
  • Counterfeit Cash: One storyline mission involves The Mafia trying to flood the new Triad casino in Las Venturas with fake casino chips, though the job is amateurish enough that even a layman can spot major flaws. Of course, the dragon on the fake chips has sunglasses and a cane, and the leader of the Triads is blind, so it was probably intended to upset him. It does.
  • Country Matters: This word is dropped several times through the course of the game. Considering the other offensive words that are used and the overall cringe worthy subject matter of the game, its not surprising.
  • Coup de Grâce: Subverted when it comes to Tenpenny, where he's already dead after delivering his last words, and when the player character takes aim to put a bullet in Tenpenny's corpse, another character tells him not to.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: The game has several of these, including Pulaski.
  • Crapsack World: As any GTA world, though San Andreas more or less plays it for lots of Black Comedy.
  • Creator Provincialism: A lot of place-names are thinly-disguised ones from Scottish cities. There's also an exact replica of the Forth Rail Bridge. Rockstar North is based in Edinburgh and Dundee and evidently like their in-jokes.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: The gangs can use you for target practice and the police isn't the least interested, but then you kill just one of those Ballas vermin and the police are all over you. In that specific case there's at least the justification that the Los Santos police unit that deals the most with the gangs, CRASH, are corrupt as hell and working directly with the Ballas, but you get the same reaction for attacking every other gang in the series, too, such as the drug-trafficking Loco Syndicate in neighboring San Fierro.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight with cars, motorcycles, boats and helicopters; you can damage these vehicles as much as you want with no effect on their performance whatsoever, up until the moment they catastrophically explode. The engine will release smoke as a damage meter of sorts, and fire means it's going to explode in the next ten seconds.
    • Averted with fixed-wing aircraft; taking damage to the wings or rudder can cause the stabilizer fins to snap off, resulting in a nigh-uncontrollable plane. They are also a lot more fragile than other vehicles; hitting any solid object will usually make them catch fire, if not destroy them outright. If you run into a solid wall, that's all she wrote.
    • And vehicles do not handle properly if their tires are damaged. It is common for tires to be shot out, or damaged by spike belts. Several missions become noticeably easier if the player thinks to have CJ shoot out an enemy vehicle's tires before a chase begins.
    • Played straight with CJ, of course. Unless you fall from a great height without a parachute, that is. And even then, if the paramedic and vigilante side-missions are completed (giving CJ extra health and armor) it's possible for him to survive even these falls, but with only 1% of your HP left. Get punched by an angry pedestrian afterwards, and you're dead.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Subverted: as a Shout-Out, you can find one in Area 69, on a desk, but you can't pick it up. Some Game Mods replace the dildo with it.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: One of the missions involves burying a construction foreman alive in concrete merely because his workers made catcalls at your sister. Oh, and what you buried him inside with concrete poured around it? A Porta-Potty.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Being a Wide Open Sandbox, this is common practice in the Grand Theft Auto series, albeit not to the degree that it's very glaring to your average player. San Andreas however is the biggest offender with regards to interiors.
    • Barber shopsnote , fast food jointsnote , weapons shopsnote , dancing clubs and tattoo parlors are all identical and even use the same workers, so it gets a bit jarring to see a guy that sells guns in San Andreas can also pop up in every other county that sells guns. Strangely, there's a two-floor weapon shop in the game files that doesn't show up in the final game and can only be visited via glitches and/or external programs.
    • During the burglary missions there are also only a handful of building interiors depending on what kind of building you are breaking into. Strangely, there are (again) some more burglary houses in the game files that could add more diversity, but they don't show up in the final game and can (again) only be visited via glitches and/or external programs.
    • If you pay close enough attention, you'll find quite a few branch shops of a certain "Guadalajara Jewelry Plaza" announced with a Mexican flag. (Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city and has a large, active jewelry industry).
  • Cutscene: The game has a main character with a highly variable appearance, yet the cutscenes work with whatever you put together.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: CJ is constantly pushed around by Tenpenny in their cutscene encounters throughout the game. This might make sense in the beginning, when you haven't had the time to train, but it's ridiculous when you have maxed out muscle and enough weapons to fill an armory, in addition to fighting the Mafia, US Army, secret government agencies, and thousands upon thousands of gangsters of all kinds (and no doubt many police officers). There's a cutscene in Las Venturas when Tenpenny punches CJ in the stomach, flooring him, even though CJ should logically be able to take Tenpenny in a straight fight with full muscle.
    • The Let's Play has CJ pretending to be pushed around by C.R.A.S.H. in order to take them down.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: No matter how low C.J.'s very relevant stats are, if you make the corona over the hitman's plane, he can now defy the laws of physics and leap from one plane to another and somehow get inside.
  • Cutting the Knot:
    • One mission tasks you with swimming after a fleeing target, then destroying his hijacked boat. Alternatively, grab your sniper rifle and pop him in the back a few times while he's still in the water. Problem solved.
    • Another mission tasks CJ with stealing four bundles of dynamite within a set time limit. Or CJ can shoot the man at the detonator, making the timer disappear.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: In a vehicle example, Pulaski's car has truly insane durability, able to shrug off ten times the amount of firepower a normal car could take. Its wheels, however, are as weak as normal, making the chase part rather easy if you thought ahead. In an NPC example, Big Smoke is almost as tough as the above car, with body armor providing a rather weak justification for it.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: T-Bone Mendez pulls a variation of this on CJ, trying to scare him into admitting he's a double agent. It doesn't work.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Maccer's addiction to masturbation is the subject of numerous gags.
    Zero (in the radio): No, no, I masturbate quite often, if that's what you're implying...
    • One of the "I Say, You Say" segments also includes a masturbation joke.
  • Dating Sim: The game has this feature. It doesn't tie too much into the story aside from stealing an access card from one of your girlfriends, though you do receive rewards like special outfits and access to their cars.
  • Dead Air: This happens to James Pedeaston, host of The Wild Traveler. His audience stops calling in after a few insulting and disturbing comments. When the silence begins, he starts begging people to call him, and only receives two calls, one of whom was a jumper.
  • Dead Foot Leadfoot: Almost always averted when you shoot a civilian dead while he or she is still in a car; this is par course for all Grand Theft Auto III-era games. However, shoot a cop chasing you in his squad car, and a glitch may occur, causing his lifeless/headless body to continue giving chase until you pull it out and jack the car.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ryder.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The player would normally lose his weapons when he dies, but the penalty can eventually be negated by dating a nurse, after which death only means respawning at the nearest hospital minus a trifling fee. However, if you die during a mission you have to restart it from the beginning.
  • Defiant to the End: Eddie Pulaski, one of the antagonists is this after Carl causes him to crash and asks for any last words. Eddie's response? "Can I fuck your sister?"
  • Deggans Rule: The game has a black main protagonist, CJ. His family and gang are also black, but the supporting cast beyond that is fairly diverse. The only time the subject of race is brought up is when his brother Sweet and sister Kendl argue over her dating a Latino, Caesar, but the relationship endures and Caesar becomes one of CJ's most loyal allies.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Played for laughs on the news radio station WCTR...
    Leanne: Staying in Venturas: it used to be a patch of desert, then it was a mob town. Now, it is the corporate headquarters of America. Richard explains from the streets.
    Richard: That's right, Leanne. It used to be a patch of desert, then it was a mob town. Now, it is the corporate headquarters of America. Back to you in the studio.
  • Design It Yourself Equipment: The game featured the ability to customize some vehicles to enhance their performance and appearance: Usually your car would only really benefit from the nitro speed boosters, but feel free to blow money on the golden dollar-symbol hubcaps and pimp hydraulics.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • Tunnels are just big enough to get a helicopter/VTOL jet through
    • There's a sign atop a bridge saying, 'There are no easter eggs up here. Go away.'
    • San Andreas also changes how CJ speaks based on his physical appearance. The developers knew some players would try to get CJ as fat as possible, so they have CJ speak alternate lines to any NPC he interacts with based on his weight (he'll say "Lunch money!" when he takes someone's money for example), or based on his clothes (dress in a suit and he'll say "Just cause I dress nice I can't bang, huh?" as he's stomping a pedestrian). He still speaks the same lines in cutscenes however.
    • Certain missions can't be started if CJ is too fat and you'll get a special cutscene telling you this. For instance, the mission Green Goo, which requires CJ to put on a jetpack, won't begin because the jetpack won't fit around him (although if you unlock the jetpack for free roam by finishing the said mission or cheating, CJ can still wear them no matter how fat he is - the limitation is actually due to a pit in Area 69 where you can drop to, but not climb off unless you're fit enough).
    • "Stowaway" has you destroying a plane by planting C4 before jumping out with a parachute, and the plane can be destroyed by shooting it from the inside. Not only do you get a funny mission failed cutscene for jumping out the plane without a parachute, but if you happen to have a parachute before you start the mission, you can just shoot the plane and jump out before the explosion kills you, skipping most of the mission.
    • Many areas have proper pathfinding for cars even if traffic never spawns there. Lose a wanted level in a place such as the San Fierro docks and you will see the police cars making their way back onto the main roads.
    • If you go one dollar past $99,999,999, the money counter rolls over and adds another digit. The actual limit is $999,999,999.
    • Radio host comments will change based upon the weather. Some D Js will also remark on current game events, such as the riots that dominate Los Santos during the final stage of the game beyond the evolving news report segments.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: The game has an over-arching plot involving the murder of the hero's mother, Beverly Johnson, as part of a coup d'état within the Grove Street families. Corrupt junk squad officer Frank Tenpenny is behind it, promoting Grove Street capo Big Smoke to drug baron in exchange for his cut. Smoke takes over as lead villain once Tenpenny is tried for murder (though he is later acquitted), with numerous gangs answering to him, including the Ballas, the Los Santos Vagos, and the Russian mob.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: In a meta-example, this can happen as a result of certain gameplay mechanics. For example, since planes may occasionally glitch into crash-landings, it is possible, but unlikely, to get hit by a plane during a mission.
  • Dialog During Gameplay: The game has this during some boss scenes. Thus, sometimes delaying the death blow so the player can hear what else the opponent has to say.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: Shooting things well was gun practice, allowing the player to eventually dual wield, fire while walking and other such shooting improvements. Find a hubcap and just go nuts. Just don't shoot the gas tank cover.
  • Difficulty Spike: San Fierro. There have been quite a few challenging missions up to this point, but now challenging missions become more frequent and even trickier, such as the infamous "Supply Lines". And it just gets tougher from there, with the Bone County/Las Venturas portion being a Difficulty Spike from San Fierro, especially with all the flying missions.
  • Dig Your Own Grave: Officer Tenpenny has C.J. do this when C.J. finally outlives his usefulness. Though it isn't C.J. who ends up in the grave.
  • Dirty Business: Carl Johnson has to do a lot of this at various points in the game.
  • Dirty Cop: Officers Tenpenny and Pulaski.
  • Dirty Old Monk: The mission "Jizzy" has you drop off a prostitute to a priest at a hotel. Later he manages to convert the prostitute and you must kill them, all while the priest urges the girl to keep undressing during the getaway so he can see the extent of her corruption.
    The Priest: Don't worry girl, the Lord's army will come to our aid, just keep undressing!
  • Disability Superpower: Played with and averted with Woozie. His underlings say that he has incredible luck, but it's mostly just them allowing him to win. Later, at his casino, someone comes in and drops two chips on the table, saying that they have a problem; Woozie immediately says that one of them is fake, and CJ thinks it's this, allowing him to identify fakes by the sound — but Woozie dismissively explains that he just took a guess because why else would someone would only drop two chips on the table and sound so worried.
  • Disc One Nuke: If you look underneath the two bridges right behind Grove Street (to the immediate east of it on the map), you can find a submachine gun and some body armor, long before unlocking Ammu-Nation. This makes the earlier missions a lot easier.
  • Disney Death: Mike Toreno appears to die around the time Carl turns on Jizzy, but later reappears to give you missions.
  • Disposable Woman: Beverly Johnson.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The mission "Deconstruction". This mission appears to disturb a lot of players as it seems out of character for the violent, yet sympathetic CJ, as he buries a guy alive because his crew insulted his sister.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After Tenpenny plays the gangs against each other, his acquittal set off a city-wide riot. The game takes place in 1992. Considering that the cities in the GTA universe so obviously replace real ones, and combined with all the real-life based events, this might actually run into Alternate History.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When Big Bear finally makes it clear that he's had it with B-Dup's abuse and punches his face in.
    • Also, Hernandez turning on Tenpenny and Pulaski, who had repeatedly treated him very poorly.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: CJ doesn't get sex after like the tenth date, he also never asks for it.
    • Unless you collect all the oysters during the game in which case the girls always invite him in for a "coffee".
    • Also, if you wear the Gimp suit when meeting Millie, you automatically enter her house.
    CJ: Here we go again with the kinky shit...
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: The games have the convention of letting you run around while firing small or inaccurate weapons, while forcing you to stand still while firing more powerful guns. San Andreas, however, ups the ante by letting you move slowly while firing the more powerful weapons, though that's once you reach a certain skill level (and even then, your movement speed when not firing them is still slower if you're holding them out).
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Three guesses as to where you receive missions from Pulaski and Tenpenny.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Judging from the voiceovers, Catalina ties CJ to a rack, whips him and then has her way with him. This is played for laughs and then never mentioned again.
  • Downer Beginning: The game starts with CJ (who left Los Santos for five years after Brian's murder) returning home to bury his murdered mother, which is grim enough. As soon as he arrives, he's picked up by Tenpenny and Pulaski, who steal all his money, frame him for a cop killing they committed, and dump him in the middle of Ballas turf. And when CJ does make it to the cemetery at Vinewood, he finds that his other brother, Sweet, is pissed at him for leaving and that his old gang is in shambles.
  • Down L.A. Drain: The Los Santos storm drain system appears in a particularly memorable mission. Before and after that, it's a good way to slink around half the city, as it has slopes that lead to street level everywhere, and there's absolutely no traffic.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: The game combines this with Color-Coded for Your Convenience with street gang members (Grove Street Families green, Ballas purple, Vagos yellow, and Aztecas cyan) so that you knew who would shoot at you on sight (Ballas and Vagos).
  • Drives Like Crazy: A Running Gag is people taking issue with CJ's questionably poor driving... then telling him to drive anyway. Being a Grand Theft Auto game, this is probably a lampshade hanging.
    • Every other AI-controlled vehicle in the game. Oh, you're trying to get patients to the hospital? Let me just run this red light and sideswipe you. Not to mention the fact that a fender-bender can turn into demolition derby when the guy you hit decides to kill you for it.
  • Driving Into a Truck: In at least one mission you have to do this.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters ain't down with that shit, at least the hard ones such as crack cocaine — weed is OK, apparently. CJ comes around to this realization when he sees that even a badass like Big Bear can be made into a bitch for rock. You can encounter drug dealers through out the game, and they will ask you if you want some rock. Even if you say yes, CJ, in no uncertain terms, tells the guy to take his business elsewhere. Also, each dealer carries $2000 without exception, more money than the vast majority of Los Santos missions provide. In the early chapters, waging your own personal war on drugs is to your extreme advantage.
  • Dual Wielding: If CJ gets his weapon skill up to Hitman with the Pistol, Sawn-Off Shotgun, or Micro-SMG, he can pack one in each hand for double the devastation. You will lose accuracy when doing this, but when Rule of Cool is in full effect like this you simply won't care. This also makes the AmmuNation shooting range challenge slightly easier.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: OK, you've completed all the collectibles, bought all property, completed all side missions, you're a proven master of vehicles both on the land, water and in the air, the Grove Street Families' territory is bigger than it has ever been and yet when your brother is freed from jail due to your connections with the government he still treats you like a noob, chewing you out on leaving Los Santos behind again. Sweet's behavior is justified, since he has been in jail all the time without any contact to outside, and he has no way of knowing about your various exploits, or your reasons for leaving. Given this situation, it makes sense for him to react this way. Nevertheless, the sudden shift in mood can be a bit perplexing for the player.
    • Averted earlier in the game; after getting Grove Street back on its feet, Sweet finally acknowledges Carl after taking every prior opportunity to chastise him for running away years ago:
    Sweet: Man, Ryder, leave CJ alone! He practically turned the Families 'round all by himself.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: A lot of missions only reward you with "Respect," rather than money. Tenpenny's missions don't even give you that.
  • Dumb Muscle: Jizzy specifically refers to CJ as this repeatedly (apparently the game is assuming you've been spending some time at the gym). He's wrong, but CJ was trying to get on his good side so he could snap at him behind his back.
  • Dummied Out: The sex minigame had to be removed in order to avoid an AO rating, but deleting the code for it would've required delaying the game by a few months to fix the girlfriend system. So Rockstar, to meet their release date, simply buried it under layers of code. The result, after a modder re-enabled the minigame, was the Hot Coffee scandal. The "Second Edition" version, however, did get rid of the code. Also, lots of other stuff was coded, but never implemented. A Game Mod by Deezire restores a crap ton of content, including cutscene dialogue that fills in so many plot holes you'll wonder why the hell Rockstar never bothered to activate it.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The factory filled with Russian weapon smugglers. Half of it can be bypassed by driving a tall vehicle to the back wall, clamber onto the car roof and jump the fence.
  • Earth Is Young: The Epsilon Program believes that the world is only 157 years old.
  • Ear Worm: In-game examples! One of CJ's idle animations is to start singing a song from the player's current favorite radio station. This can lead to anything from him quoting Snoop Dogg, to him starting to belt out Rod Stewart and catching himself. invoked
  • Easter Egg: So, so many. There's a sign saying "There are no Easter Eggs up here. Go away." on top of one of the towers of the Gant Bridge in San Fierro. Furthermore, if you go to the Bridge's tourist gift shop, you will see a piece of the bridge's cable, and a plaque describing how much disc space the bridge takes up (A "staggering" 1.27 megabytes of space!). Also many audio Easter eggs on the various radio stations.
  • Easy Level Trick:
    • The series often forces the player to hunt down antagonists before battling them. Occasionally, it's possible to kill the antagonists before or during the hunt—for instance, Ryder can be killed with a sniper rifle before he reaches the speedboat he's supposed to flee in.
    • A lot of the escort missions force you to make sure your vehicle doesn't blow up while roaming gang cars are shooting from you at all angles. You could either have mad skills in driving... or just drive off road and avoid rival cars altogether.
    • In one of the first missions in San Andreas, you have to follow a train in a motorbike with Big Smoke in the back seat shooting bad guys standing on top of the train. The short cut is to get the bike, run ahead of the train, climb a concrete rail and a bridge, stop at the roof of a building and jump on top of the train as it passes. Now shoot at will. But there's a time limit for this technique, as there's a certain bridge passing over the train that knocks you from the top of the train. Alternatively, tap the accelerate button instead of holding it to make the bike go faster, which is also an Easy Level Trick on any bike races.
    • Ambulance missions in San Andreas got even worse than they were in previous installments, since every new level reset the timer, making it impossible to build up a reserve like in previous titles. Unless you did them in Angel Pine (the village you're dropped into after The Green Sabre mission), in which case all targets spawn within the village, seconds from one another.
    • In Zero's final mission, you have to face off against Berkley in RC helicopters. Your job is to remove obstructions so Zero can drive his RC to Berkley's base, while Berkley will you his helicopter to drop barrels on the path. However, you can grab a bomb, fly above Berkley's helicopter, and drop it, removing him from the game and significantly reducing the number of obstructions you'll have to deal with.
    • Taking over gang territory requires you to pop a few of the relevant gang members on foot to start a war for that territory, then kill several waves of really well-armed gangsters. This is mercifully optional during the first part of the game (and incidentally meaningless), but not during the final part. Fortunately, the game only requires you to make the first few kills on foot. If you have, say, a tank, there's nothing stopping you from using that.
  • Easy Sex Change: With tongue firmly in cheek, one of the fake radio ads advertises this sort of thing.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Carl must infiltrate one of these under a base called Area 69. Yes, it's inspired by Area 51.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Played for laughs in the radio news broadcasts, where a government official being interviewed about certain mysterious black helicopters responds with just "Helicopters? What helicopters?", with the spinning helicopter rotors clearly audible in the background.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The authorities get stronger and wield heavier weapons as you gain a higher wanted level. At level 3, SWAT team members will rappel down from helicopters in full body armor packing Uzis. At level 4, more show up in armored SWAT trucks. At level 5, the FBI shows up in their lightning-fast SUVs and carry deadly MP5s. Finally, at level 6, the military shows up with M4s driving tanks and troop transports, the former able to detonate any car almost instantly on impact (mercifully, they cannot use the main gun).
    • Gang wars have three waves of escalating numbers and difficulty. The first wave has thugs equipped with same pistols and Uzis they always have. The second has a mix of MP5s and AK-47s. The third wave is equipped almost exclusively with AK-47s.
  • El Spanisho: In one mission, Big Smoke is trying to negotiate with some Mexican gangsters before he loses his patience and demands...
    Smoke: Hey, excuso me, yo soy El Grando Smokio, and I want that grass. Comprende?
    Cholo: Hey, fuck you, cabrón.
    Smoke: Now, that ain't nice. Coughio up el weedo, before I blow your brains out all over the patio
    Cholo: ¡Ay, chinga tu madre, pendejo! (Hey, fuck your mama, asshole)
  • Elvis Impersonator: Several hundred wandering the streets of Las Venturas. And they are played by different ethnicities! The hispanic ones just do really awful Elvis impersonations, but the black ones would more accurately be called "Little Richard impersonators" and act accordingly. Amusingly, the game keeps track of the number of Elvis impersonators you've killed on the stats screen. Uh huh.
  • Endless Corridor: Unlike the other GTA games, which stopped players from leaving the designated zone with an Invisible Wall, leaving the island (via boat plane or even swimming) would lead you through an endless zone of sea and sky. You can fly in one direction for an hour straight trying to get to Liberty City; it will also took you an hour to get back to land.
    • Subtly lampshaded in that one particular airplane mission happens a significant distance away from the map.
    • And after going out a certain distance, you can't get back to land except by crashing or restoring the game.
  • Entendre Failure:
    • Carl: "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" Ceaser: "I keep telling you, I don't know, homes. Where His Holiness does his business is his business."
    • The Truth: "I never made love to my mother. She wouldn't."
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Carl goes from being poor in Ganton with only his late mother's house and the clothes on his back, to building a criminal empire across San Andreas.
  • Erudite Stoner:
    • The Truth (voiced by Peter Fonda) from is one. Also grows his own stuff, for consumption and distribution.
    • Ryder too, to an extent. He wants to be one, at one point he claims he was thrown out of school because he was 'too intelligent for this shit', and not because he beat up a teacher for wearing Balla colours.
    • As his name implies, Big Smoke, however, has his moment (which is instantly ruined by CJ):
    Big Smoke: Like it says in the book... We are both blessed and cursed.
    Carl Johnson: What fuckin' book?
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Did anyone not see Big Smoke and Ryder selling out to Tenpenny and Pulaski from a mile away?
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The Johnson siblings dearly love their mother Beverly, so much so her murder prompted Carl to return home in the first place. Officer Pulaski finds out how much CJ loves his mama — the hard way.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Grove Street Families, the Varrio Los Aztecas and the Mountain Cloud Boys do bad things, but all of them strongly oppose the sale of hard drugs.
  • Everybody Knew Already: Woozie's blindness. He's convinced that he acts normally enough to be indistinguishable from someone sighted, but he feels his way around everywhere and fires an MP5 like... well, someone who can't see (although, ironically, he still shoots better than many others, such as Smoke in "Wrong Side of the Tracks"). Everyone humours him.
    Woozie: I have a confession to make. I... I'm blind.
    CJ: No shit.
  • Everyone Is Armed: A cheat code causes all pedestrians to be armed, carrying everything from handguns to Rocket-Propelled Grenades.
  • Evil Versus Evil: All the time in this game. Several major characters, like CJ, Toreno, Ryder, etc., usually commits acts rather extreme, but their enemies are far worse.
  • Experience Points: The game uses respect that can actually increase or decrease depending on actions.
  • Exploited Immunity: Being the first game in the series where the player can swim, CJ can evade pursuit by jumping into water. The pursuers will jump in after him, but they have Super Drowning Skills.
  • Eyepatch of Power: You can have CJ wear an eyepatch as soon as you get access to the Binco in Ganton. Having one of his eyes covered up doesn't negatively affect him a bit.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Big Smoke and Ryder. Subverted in that they were never faces in the first place. Arguably, Ryder was, very early in the game. At least he was shooting with you and Sweet. Alternatively, at least he was pretending to shoot with you and Sweet. Perhaps it is a matter of Heel Heelier Turn.
    • Averted with several characters (specifically Toreno, Cesar and Woozie) who are depicted as having the potential to betray CJ but who never actually do.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Played with in this game, which has many RPG elements. Characters will notice if you are out of shape or if you are not wearing the appropriate gang colors. You can pick and choose clothes and whatever you are wearing shows up in the cut scenes. However, characters will not notice if you attend, for example, a serious business meeting in a gimp suit. Said meeting includes the character's sister. Ew.
  • Fat Bastard:
    • Big Smoke.
    • Also CJ if you have him spend most of his free time at the Cluckin' Bell.
  • Fake Band: The Gurning Chimps, although, unlike their predecessor Love Fist, they don't have any songs on in-game radio.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Driving school isn't hard per se, though certainly some of the tricks you need to pull off take practice. What makes getting all gold truly difficult is the fact that they not only expect you to do these tricks, but to do them so perfectly that you stop in exactly the right position facing exactly the right way without so much as dinging your car. Bike school is easier, having less classes and the bike being easier to maneuver. Flight school is similar, except the timer is even more unforgiving and you're trying to fly vehicles which have, at best, awkward controls. Boating school is downright simple by comparison. Thankfully, you only need bronzes for the 100% Completion reward. Driving school doesn't even have a decent reward, just a fairly Cool Car. At least you get an attack helicopter for beating flight school.
    • Once you get far enough that you can start taking over gang territories for Grove Street, it becomes almost trivially easy to collect thousands of rounds of SMG and automatic rifle ammunition. So naturally, once you've finished the missions for that area, you lose all your guns and all the territory you took over becomes enemy property.
    • Certain missions will automatically equip you with a specific type of weapon at key moments. You have no control over this, so even if you had been carrying a stronger weapon than what the game gives you, you're forced to use the weaker weapon.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: While not foreign, Eddie Pulaski is supposed to be a Polish-American - obviously named after Casimir Pulaski, featured in many American place names.
  • Fatal Method Acting: In universe example. Early on, the player can listen to WCTR and hear an example. Jack Howitzer appears on "Entertaining America" to promote his new film and brings a gun with him. He tries to calm host Billy Dexter by saying that it's not loaded, then fatally shoots him. On the bright side, Dexter is replaced by Lazlow.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Tenpenny.
  • Filth: The Gayborhood has a porn theater showing the rather unimaginative Wizard of Ass.
  • Firing One-Handed: Carl "CJ" Johnson can dual-wield Sawed Off Shotguns.
  • First Person Snapshooter: The game had you taking pictures of photograph icons spread throughout the environments. The pictures actually end up as screenshots in the game's folder.
  • Flanderization: Catalina is a total adrenaline junkie, unlike in GTA III. Of course, since this is a prequel, one could argue that by the time GTA III rolls around she's undergone Character Development.
  • Flunky Boss: Big Smoke calls constantly Vagos until you kill him.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Sharks, dolphins and whatever else is underwater can become this due to a rocket glitch.
  • Forbidden Zone: Area 69, a military and research compound. Getting past the fence at ground level instantly gives you a 5 star warrant level, and you'll be shot down by missiles or the military's fighter jets if you approach the area by air. There's one mission where you do get the chance to sneak into the facility and see why the area is so heavily guarded; using alien technology, the military created a jet pack that allows the wearer to fly. You get to keep it as well once you complete the mission.
  • Forced Level Grinding: At one point, sooner or later, you're going to have to spend an hour or so doing some diving practice so you can qualify for one of Woozie's missions. Thank goodness the Chinese Triads and the 'bad guys' will wait however long it takes for you to practice swimming. What makes this ridiculous is that the mission itself serves as a tutorial, even though you need to grind to unlock it, and the point of being able to dive (to avoid the patrol boats) is easily bypassed by sinking the boats or killing their crews. You'll also have to grind for muscle or fat build up when it comes to certain girlfriends so that they'll start dating you, but this can be bypassed by finding all the oysters in the game.
  • Forced Tutorial: The game makes you complete flight school to progress, despite you being able to fly perfectly fine previously, and despite you never needing to use the maneuvers that the school teaches you. But you do get a prize for doing it well enough, so it's not a total time waster. It's horribly frustrating though (Truth in Television if you've ever tried to get a pilot's license).
  • Forklift Fu: There's forklifts, and at least one mission that requires the player to use one. However, they are so slow and unwieldy (due to the rear wheel drive) that pretty much any other vehicle in the game would make a more effective killing tool.
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: Tony the Parrot.
    Tony: Brawk, I never fucked over anyone in my life who didn't have it coming!
  • Free Rotating Camera: The "Rotation And Tilt" variation.
  • Freudian Excuse
    • CJ will sometimes mockingly say that he had a bad childhood when killing random people. That and he will also "blame society".
    • Catalina blurts one out when complaining about CJ's (subjective) lack of backbone in their crime sprees.
  • A Friend in Need: Cesar leading CJ to the Wham Mission is what solidifies their friendship.
  • Friendship Moment
    • Cesar fully earns Carl's trust when he shows him Smoke and Ryder's betrayal.
    • CJ learning about Woozie's blindness also qualifies, as the two become noticeably more buddy-buddy afterward.
  • Funny Background Event
    • In "Cleaning the Hood", while Ryder sarcastically greets Ballas pushers to take them out, take a close look at the background. You can actually see a Balla getting some head from a hooker.
    • Because San Andreas is a living environment, it's not uncommon for CJ to encounter NPCs engaging in non-sequitur-silled conversations, police chases, fights, shootings, vehicular accidents, plane crashes, and general insanity going on completely separate from what the player is doing...
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The infamous Madd Dogg glitch. A glitch in a mission where you had to save him from his own suicide attempt by positioning a truck full of hay under him before he could jump off a building would become Unwinnable because he would jump off the building before the cutscene ended. This glitch also made the game Unwinnable, and this is compounded by the fact that no one is certain what triggers this glitch; it seems to be completely random. Many suggestions have been made, the most commonly accepted "cause" being that it's caused by cheating extremely often, or using common cheats. This is discredited, since many people who never cheated once the entire game still had the glitch occur, while some that cheated extensively never saw it. One cause is the "pedestrians riot" cheat (which cannot be turned off), causing everyone to become hostile to each other. This mission is affected because Madd Dogg's character attempts to run to the nearest NPC to fight them, and in doing so, runs off the roof and dies. This is made even worse by it being one of the last missions in the game, meaning that if you get this glitch, you're screwed and have to start all over and pray you don't get the glitch again. Though, mercifully, it seems as though it never happens in two new games in a row.
    • Also, if you attempt to play basketball in Madd Dogg's mansion, all basketballs on the world map will be deleted from the game, meaning you can't play it again in that particular save. This one is minor, since basketball is not needed for 100% Completion, but another glitch involving the mansion that you should worry about involves saving there, which corrupts your file.
    • There's one in the Woozie mission "Mountain Cloud Boys" (reported to occur in at least the PC and PS2 versions). After you take Woozie around the block to the ambush Triad meeting, once you get out of the car and the cutscene plays, you won't be able to control CJ, the camera, or do anything except go to the pause menu. Fortunately, you can defuse this one by stopping at the target before Woozie stops talking about the Vietnamese gang, thus preventing the cutscene from running.
    • One of Zero's missions involving using a radio-controlled toy airplane to kill a team of couriers is rendered next to impossible by a glitch that depletes the plane's fuel at a steady rate instead of only being used when CJ hits the gas, which means there's no way to conserve fuel; on the PS2 version, it's basically impossible to finish Zero's missions without cheating.
    • One of the missions early on in Los Santos requires you to impress a DJ with your dancing skills via button rhythm mini-game. Playing on an HDTV makes the game almost impossible to complete due to input lag or the controls simply not responding to any button pressing. Since the game was released in a time where HDTV was still a new format, the game wasn't exactly optimized for it.
    • Though not a game ender, there is a glitch where if you take one of the hookers into a Transfender body shop, instead of the standard "nothing happens except the car shaking", you will see the hooker bend over to give CJ oral sex.
    • An update to the Steam version of the game caused all save files to become corrupt, effectively wiping out all progress globally. On top of this, several resolution sizes (1920 x 1080 most notably) were mysteriously removed and mouse controls became bugged.
  • Game Mod:
    • The infamous Hot Coffee mod. In the game, CJ can have sex with various women, but the depiction is limited to seeing them entering the woman's house. Hot Coffee re-enables a Dummied Out sequence where the player not only gets to watch but controls the action to a degree. It was later patched. The discovery led to a brief revival of the Games Are Evil panic. Incidentally, PC players tend to avoid said patch not because they want to enable it but rather because it interferes with actual mods.
    • Speaking of which, the PC release of San Andreas has considerable popularity in Japan because of or leading to the mass number of Touhou mods made for it.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation
    • CJ is not a nice man, but in the cutscenes at least he's more of an Anti-Hero who cares about family and neighborhood and will not cross some moral lines. None of this prevents you from... say, beating old women to death with a baseball bat or going on a rampage just for kicks. Nor will anyone treat CJ differently for doing such things.
    • In early cutscenes, Ryder will constantly criticize CJ over his driving skills. While reckless driving is a GTA tradition, he'll still give you shit even if you've never so much as scratched a car.
    • Early on, Tenpenny and Pulaski force CJ into doing their dirty work on threat of framing him for a cop-killing they committed. You can do worse than that over the course of the game, going so far as to kill hundreds of cops, agents and soldiers, but the worst you'll ever get is a brief stay in jail and confiscation of weapons (and even that can be circumvented if you have a relationship with Barbara, herself a cop). It also helps that the officer Tenpenny ordered killed was on the verge of exposing internal corruption within the LSPD, and is thus of a greater concern for him.
    • You can take over gang territories by killing a few of the local members then taking out a few waves. Not only do the missions not recognize this fact, they will actively change territories back and force you to take them over again, facing much heavier resistance than is common for those regions.
    • At several times in the story, CJ will mention that he has very little money, and sometimes that he is in desperate need of cash. This despite the fact that, without cheating, a player may have earned one dollar short of a billion via various side-missions and gambling at the off-track betting center.
    • Also, after finishing the race with Claude, Catalina hands him the papers for an old garage, instead of the pinkslip for Claude's car. C.J is pissed and whines about how he feels cheated out of a cool car (acquireable through other means) and has to own a "crappy" safe house in a ridiculously convenient location with a spacious garage. His sister at least chews him out over this.
    • In the last mission, Carl will mock Big Smoke for wearing body armor, even though any self-respecting player probably came into the place wearing some, not to mention the fact that there's an armor pickup in the room.
  • Gameplay Roulette: Done right, since that's part of the fun.
  • Game Within a Game: The game had clones of Tempest, Asteroids and Defender (Go Go Space Monkey, Let's Get Ready to Bumble, Duality, and They Crawled from Uranus). You could also play billiards at one of the local bars.
  • Gang Bangers: The Groves, the Ballas and the Varrios Los Aztecas.
  • Gangsta Style: Naturally, this affects the gangstas here. You even see CJ using it with Guns Akimbo. (He even fires a pair of sawn-off shotguns this way if you level your skill with that weapon up all the way.) Note that all other weapons are held conventionally (well, as conventionally as possible, for the minigun). This is also the standard stance for Mafia, highway patrol, and SWAT teams – as an exception, standard police patrols hold their pistols with both handsnote .
  • Gayborhood: The Queens district in San Fierro, based on, of course, the most famous Gayborhood in the world — The Castro, San Francisco.
  • Gayngster: OG Loc. You first encounter him fresh off the prison, and he wants to kill his prison boyfriend for spreading rumors about their tryst, though of course he's in complete denial. Instead, you end up killing the boyfriend. OG Loc later does a radio interview where he stresses his macho-ness. Of course, it was a "prison thing".
  • Gay Option: The game lets CJ kiss men, but this only applies in multiplayer mode and if the 2nd player chooses a male character.
  • Generic Graffiti: The game lets you tag over rival gangs. Tag all 100, and a nice arsenal of weapons will spawn at your home in Grove Street.
  • Geo Effects: Vehicles lose grip in the rain, especially on the grass. Aircraft experience wind and turbulence during a storm.
  • Ghibli Hills: The game featured expansive rural and unpopulated areas in stark contrast to the series' dense urban mainstay (though it has that too).
  • The Ghost: Zero's Sitcom Archnemesis, Berkley, is never seen or heard, though you do have to deal with his various contraptions. CJ lampshades this trope at the beginning of "Air Raid."
    Zero: Berkley is back!
    Carl Johnson: [Sympathetically] Ohhh, Berkley.
    Zero: Yes.
    Carl Johnson: Who the fuck is Berkley?!
  • Ghost Town: There are quite a few in the desert areas (Las Brujas and Aldea Malvada are two examples).
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Done quite literally. The 'hero', C.J. literally kills his way through Mad Dogg's orginization so a friend, OG Loc, can jumpstart a music career. Then, in order to restart Mad Dogg's career (a movie which greatly benefits C.J.) he and Mad Dogg chase OG Loc through the streets of Los Santos...on go karts. In order to get a valued rhyme book back. Apparently Madd Dog cannot make up new rhymes on his own. M.D. has 'so far' not discovered that C.J. was the one to kill his co-workers and leave his mansion filled with bodies.
  • Golf Clubbing: Golf clubs can be used as a melee weapon. If CJ knocks someone down, he will then uses a golf swing.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: The protagonists allies in the Grove Street Families use the Tec-9 as their submachine gun of choice, while all other gangs in Los Santos use the Micro UZI.
    • Unless you spray all rival gang tags in the city, when the GSF start using MP5s, playing the trope straight (mostly, as OGs like Sweet will, with very rare exceptions, still use the Tec-9 during missions).
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Catalina, by far one of the craziest characters of the game, turns out to be into S&M during the cut scene for the "Gone Courting" mission. We don't see anything of the act itself, but she proceeds to chain C.J. to a rack and then takes a whip to him before getting down to business.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Gang tags in Los Santos, pictures in San Fierro, horseshoes in Las Venturas, oysters everywhere on the map. Getting the tags make weapons appear in the Johnson house and give Grove Street members stronger weapons, pictures give you free weapons at the Doherty garage, oysters give you sex appeal and infinite swim if you find them all, and horseshoes rig the casino games in your favor and give you free weapons at the Four Dragons Casino. There's a reason why all that stuff is listed in Guide Dang It below...
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Mike Toreno's "government agency". Plus at least one (probably two) rival agencies.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: A variant is used. Finding graffiti done by rival gangs and spraypainting the Grove Street logo over it is a good way to build the Grove's respect early in the game.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: In one mission, CJ is tasked to infiltrate an army secret base to hijack a newly developed Jet Pack. Sounds similiar to Gundam series, eh?
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • The name of the town El Quebrados is gramatically incorrect — it should be either "El Quebrado" or "Los Quebrados".
    • "Los Flores", the correct form being "Las Flores".
  • Grave Humor: On a more minor note, the game features "R.I.P. Opposition" tombstones at a San Fierro memorial, referring to the rivalry between Rockstar North and developers of "GTA clones".
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • The police: one can evade arrest by getting a haircut, or by changing shoes. Or putting on a pair of 'joke glasses', the type with fake nose and eyebrows attached. Or going into a gun shop and waiting. How does that look on their report?
    • The military guards. It is really easy to break into Area 69 and other supposedly well guarded places because of how stupid the guards behave. They don't mind when their colleagues get shot right next to them and if you run fast enough they even forget about you after you've stood right in front of you. Not to mention that they are completely deaf. You can fire your M4 all you want and they won't even raise an eyebrow.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • One of the most common questions seems to be: "Where do I find this 'Euros' car for the export list?" And rightfully so, since it only spawns in one specific location and only when it is wanted for the export list (and you need to know what it looks like, to boot). Fortunately the exporting of cars is optional for completing the storyline of the game, but for those playing for the coveted "100% completion" awards, you gotta grin and bear it. Or find a walkthrough.
    • There are a ton of collectibles in this game. CJ has to find 70 photo locations, spray 100 gang tags, track down 50 oysters, and find 50 horseshoes. The San Andreas map is so huge and complex, and many of these items/jump sites are in hidden locations, that the only practical way to find them all is with a walkthrough or guidebook (although subverted by the Brady Games official strategy guide that gives incorrect locations or unhelpful directions for many of these). The photo locations, at least, do have one helpful way of tracking them (if you know about it); they glow in the dark. The others offer no such help. The only plus is that, oysters aside, all of these collectibles are limited to one section of the map.
    • Oh and there are also 70 hidden unique stunt jumps, too, though these aren't required for 100% completion. Many of these jumps are obvious (why else would a jump ramp be placed in the middle of trailer park?) but some - especially those that require the player to jump off a cliff or some such (one jump actually requires CJ to launch a car from Red County, hope it flies high and fast enough to cross a bay, and land on the San Fierro Airport tarmac), are not intuitive and need a manual to locate/become aware of.
    • And without a guidebook, many players likely complete the storyline portion of the game unaware of things like the hidden courier challenges, the bicycle and motorbike challenges, the mountain biking races, and the two triathlons that are only accessible on certain days of the week! Although also not needed for 100% completion, several of the women available for dating are not located in obvious places, either (one is hidden in a park in San Fierro that CJ is not required to visit for any mission or item pick-up).
    • As noted above, the Brady Games manual is rife with errors and inaccuracies. One of the most glaring is that the book features pick-up locations for adrenaline power boosts - even though none actually exist within the game itself!
  • Guns Akimbo: You can dual-wield the standard pistol (although not the Desert Eagle or the silenced version), the sawed-off shotgun, and the two machine-pistols after you max out your skill with each respective weapon.
  • Handicapped Badass: Wu Zi Mu (aka "Woozie") is a Triad boss who doesn't hesitate to go in guns blazing against gangs that try to muscle in on his turf and also loves to race cars. He's also blind.
    • Revealed to be a subversion: his Triad subordinates like to rig the casino games he plays with them, and he thinks CJ must be very lucky to be able to beat him at things like blackjack. But he does have instances where his "incredible luck", as the Triads call it, allows him to beat CJ at video games and drive a sports car in an illegal rural-road street race without wrecking. He's also the best shot in the game, next to CJ himself.
  • Handshake Refusal: CJ does this with Woozie in their first meeting, though it's less out of disrespect and more because he's weirded out that Woozie is pointing slightly away from him (the first hint to his blindness).
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: The game gives us a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation: Los Aztecas will always mob and eventually attack both you and other Grove Street members outside of missions if given a chance, no matter how close CJ's bond with their leader, Cesar Vialpando, is, or that you eventually help them regain their lost territory from the Vagos.
  • Has Two Mommies: One of the ads on a radio station was for a TV sitcom featuring an orphaned girl living with her 5 adoptive "uncles". GTA being GTA, it was pretty blatant that only one guy at most was an actual uncle.
    Girl: I'm an emotionally abused orphan! Can't I get in on any of these groups hugs?
    'Uncle': No, you stupid bitch!
  • Heel Face Door Slam: Officer Hernandez, the third, silent member of C.R.A.S.H (Well, not completely silent. The one time he speaks is on the phone with C.J. warning him that C.R.A.S.H is going to make sure he stays in Los Santos and works with them.) who acts as a Foil to the loudmouthed Tenpenny and Pulaski. Eventually however, he got fed up with Tenpenny and Pulaski's ways sometime offscreen as his final cutscene is of Tenpenny beating him with a shovel for being a snitch, and having C.J. dig his grave at gunpoint. Hernandez isn't dead though, and he gets back up to try and tackle Pulaski, only to get shot, finally dying.
    • The Introduction DVD expands on this. Hernandez speaks in it, telling a story about how he had to make a difficult decision between letting a man beat his crack addicted wife, or jailing the man and leaving the obviously unsuitable for children wife with their kids, establishing himself as a cop with morals. The other two cops scoff at that being a difficult decision, telling him that they're gonna be making difficult decisions on a regular basis. Later on, they force him to personally shoot a cop who had evidence proving that Tenpenny and Pulaski were crooked, so he can "be a fucking man." It makes Hernandez's death all the more tragic, as he was pretty much one of the handful of good cops in the whole series.
  • Helicopter Blender: The mission "Reuniting the Families" ends with both versions of this trope: a police helicopter tilts forward, threatening to slice up the protagonists' vehicle, and a police officer on the hood of said vehicle ends up minced in the process. Additionally, if you yourself gain control of a helicopter, you can practice this trope on any random passersby you run across, just as you can in any other GTA game with helicopters.
  • Hellish Copter: There's one mission where CJ attempts to take out some rival criminals from a helicopter, only for it to be almost immediately blown up by a rocket launcher and crash in the ocean. CJ gets out okay, but the pilot isn't as lucky.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: CJ has to enter a burning house to rescue a girl. From a fire he caused in the first place.
  • Hero of Another Story: The protaganist, C.J. sees his insane girlfriend run off with a quiet racing competitor. Said quiet man is the main character, Claude, in the (chronologically later, though earlier release) Grand Theft Auto 3.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Done twice early on in the game. Done either to escape being shot at or escape being run over and riddled with bullets. Returning either risks same.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Samuel L. Jackson's character Officer Frank Tenpenny.
  • Hiding The Handicap: Woozie is blind, but won't reveal this to CJ until CJ has done several missions on his behalf and earned his respect. CJ however had already been informed of Woozie's disability by one of his subordinates.
  • High-Altitude Battle: The plane missions.
  • High Speed Hijack: The game tried experimenting with the new engine to create some unusual hijacks. The first Mike Toreno mission involved speeding alongside a fuel truck so your sidekick, Caesar, can leap into the cab and yank out the driver. Ouch. A later mission involves flying beside a private jet and then bailing out of the plane, whereupon CJ grabs hold of the entry hatch and hijacks the jet in mid-air.
  • Hippie Van: The Truth drives a VW with a psychedelic paint job called the Mothership.
  • Historical In-Joke: The game is set in 1992. The primary antagonists of the game are police officers, Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski. Late in the game, their many, many crimes catch up with them and Tenpennynote  is arrested, put to trial... and acquitted. The city of Los Santos riots in response. Sound familiar?
  • Hit So Hard the Calendar Felt It: Invoked when a guy called The Truth gets something CJ stole from a government base, he says "They shall call this Year Zero".
  • Hollywood California: The game is heavily built upon imagery from all of these regions. Los Santos is a dead ringer for LA, with East Los Santos standing for East LA, and Ganton standing for Compton and Vinewood is a very obvious Hollywood reference. The city of San Fierro is analagous to San Francisco, while Las Venturas stands for Las Vegas (which is actually in Nevada).
  • Hollywood Nerd: Zero. For instance, he quotes Star Wars during his rooftop defense mission.
  • Hollywood Silencer: A silenced 9mm pistol is available and used during some stealth-based missions. It makes the classic fwip! sound and does not alert moderately distant guards.
  • Honey Trap: As part of the plan to rob a casino, C. J. seduces a dealer who has an important keycard (as well as some... unusual tastes).
  • Hope Spot: Between "Reuniting The Families" and "The Green Sabre". How long it lasts depends on the player.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: The Trope Namer. The original release of the game had a Dummied Out sex mini-game that played out when dates ended in "coffee". Given the graphics engine, CJ is dating blocky Uncanny Valley girls — the game is about as saucy as banging Legomen together. When moders re-activated the game a scandal errupted and denials were issued, as mocked by Penny Arcade.
  • House Music: One of the radio stations is "San Fierro Underground", which plays house.
  • Hufflepuff House: Varrios Los Aztecas. Their leader, Caesar, could be considered a Supporting Leader.
  • Hugh Mann: One of many UFO gags sprinkled. During the mission "Stowaway," Mike Toreno instructs Carl Johnson to destroy a jet carrying explosives for use in the Middle East. The M.I.B. onboard the plane will spout strange phrases while attacking Carl, including: "you evolved from shrews", "this endangers everything", "carbon based buffoon", "idiotic mammal", and "the great day will come".
  • 100% Completion: The game gives neato whiz-bang prizes for completing 100% of all the optional tasks, tests, and races. All the required tasks for plot completion total around 20%. The player's childhood home in Ganton is upgraded with spawns for a Rhino tank and a Hydra jump jet.
  • 100% Heroism Rating: There are various character ratings (fat, muscle, sex appeal, and respect), which affect how NPCs react in your presence. You can even say something back, determined by hitting Y or N. However, no amount of sex appeal or respect will completely stop people from telling CJ he smells bad.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: CJ can heal by eating meals at fast-food restaurants or by purchasing snacks. Ingesting lots of food will fatten him up much faster than should be possible (eating too much at one time will make him puke though, keeping the health, but losing the fat that would have been gained), or conversely that exercising will make him lose body fat and gain muscle ridiculously quickly, could also be taken as evidence of a most unusual metabolism. Dining on salad will get around the fat problem.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: CJ finds room for a very large arsenal in his pants. In fact, since C.J. is capable of changing his clothes, he could conceivably be carrying around a rocket launcher, a shotgun, and an assortment of other weapons in his boxers.
  • I Can See My House from Here: If you're getting chased by a ghetto bird (police chopper), one of the gunners may shout this. The other gunner tells him to shut up, acutely embarrassed.
  • Idle Animation: CJ will randomly start singing a song from the last radio station you listened to if he's standing still for a while. Amusingly, CJ's not so hot at recalling the lyrics.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: Field reporter Richard Burns complains about the lack of casualties during a news segment.
    "Officials say there are still no reported casualties, which is truly unfortunate, as it makes for incredibly boring news."
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: One of the radio segments, Jack Howitzer threatens to kill host Billy Dexter unless he touches Jack's genitals (It Makes Sense in Context... sorta) and then says he was just fooling around and that his gun was unloaded, only for it to go off and kill Dexter.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: There is a mission where you and your homies get drive-thru. One of your homies, Big Smoke, orders an absurdly long list of foods while the others order casually. And then, when everyone else is busy trying to keep a rival gang from invading your neighborhood, Smoke eats all the food, even the stuff he didn't order. Of course, after you know he's betraying you, that scene can look much different.
  • Image Song: Young Maylay, the voice of Carl 'C.J.' Johnson and accomplished rap musician, used the game's theme song as a backing track for the first song on his LP, San Andreas: The Original Mixtape, where he raps about the game in character.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Throughout the game, you'll get in shootouts with all kinds of gangbangers, cops, "redneck survivalists", pedestrians, military, drug dealers, the Italian mob, the Russian mob, federal agents, federal agents who might be aliens, and not a single goddamn one of them can score a hit more than once per every ten bullets expended at the very most. Of course, due to the GTA games infamously wonky targeting system, neither can CJ sometimes.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: One of the Driving School missions requires you to parallel park by speeding at the spot then sliding into it sideways without touching either car and doing it so you're perfectly aligned to get gold.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: Big Smoke eats the whole gang's takeout while being shot at by the Ballas. Of course, this is meant to foreshadow the fact that Smoke has been with the Ballas all along. When called out on it, Smoke replies:
    Big Smoke: If you can eat your food while everyone else is losing theirs and blaming you, you straight, homie.
    • Gameplay-wise, to get fat or even get a lot of energy for working out, you often need to eat several of the largest combo available.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The minigun is the ultimate weapon in the game. It kills people by the truckloads in seconds, destroys vehicles just as fast, and the game's manual aiming system makes it incredibly effective at taking down helicopters as well.
    • Meanwhile, the Hydra is the Infinity+1 Sword for vehicles. It flies faster than any other aircraft, it can easily take off and land from most any surface thanks to its vertical take-off system, it can hover around like a helicopter to destroy ground targets, and it can drop countermeasures to ward off missiles fired from AA weapons or other Hydras as well.
  • Informed Equipment: Excellently avoided, you can change the main character's clothes and hairstyle, give him tattoos, and even alter his basic body shape (though this last is a long process, involving overeating to get fat or exercise to get muscular). Any changes to the character's appearance are worked seamlessly into all of the game's cutscenes. Body armour, on the other hand, is invisible, even if you are naked from the waist up.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • Officer Tenpenny was clearly designed with the knowledge that Samuel L. Jackson was going to be his voice actor, because he looks exactly like Samuel L. Jackson.
    • Likewise, Zero looks exactly like his voice actor, David Cross. And Jizzy B. looks just like his voice actor, Charlie Murphy. And James Woods, the voice of Mike Toreno, could easily play the role in a live action adaptation.
    • Cesar Vialpando is clearly modeled on Clifton Collins, Jr.
  • Instant Expert: The protagonist can learn how to use any weapon or vehicle from the moment they see it. The most ridiculous example, CJ can load and fire any weapon from an M1911 to an SA-7 Grail rocket missile launcher simply by picking it up, and goes through a few (videotaped) lessons to learn to fly any aircraft. The height of ridiculousness is "Vertical Bird", where he sneaks aboard an amphibious assault ship, eliminates about a dozen trained soldiers with either stealth or firepower, and hijacks a Harrier jumpjet to shoot down two other fighters and destroy several boats. Quite impressive for a two-bit gang member from the ghetto. God bless the idiot proof Air Force.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: The Yakuza cheat code fills the streets with Triads using katanas and bikes.
  • Interface Screw: The games uses a slight version of this to simulate substance abuse, like marijuana. Watch the screen move...
  • Interrupted Suicide: In one mission, you have to save Mad Dogg from suicide.
  • Irony: K-DST D.J. Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith occasionally makes cracks at other station Radio X. Radio X's playlist includes "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. Tommy is voiced by Guns N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: CJ has a tendancy to reply to Cesar Vialpando with, "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" whenever Cesar asks him if he was interested in making money by car racing. Confusion ensues.
    Cesar: Why you keep asking me that, holmes? I told you, I dunno. Where his Holiness does his business, is his business.
  • It's All About Me: Tenpenny, in his dying breath, claims that only he can set San Andreas in the right direction.
  • It's Personal: CJ's reasoning behind taking on Big Smoke alone at the end.
    CJ: Smoke played me. Tenpenny played me.
  • It's Up to You:
    • The player's territory can be invaded by other gangs. However, it's solely the player's responsibility to defend it. No one else in the gang of presumably hundreds ever takes the initiative to help out or, better yet, handle the attack themselves.
    • The player must always be the driver, and apparently no one else who ever rides with the protagonist knows how to drive. Even when someone arrives to pick you up during a cutscene, they invariably scoot over to the passenger seat once the gameplay begins. This is lampshaded in one of the missions, where Ryder instructs; "You drive - seein' as you "Mister Driver" and all."
    • Averted, probably intentionally, in one of the later missions. At the end of the mission, the main character offers to drive his cohorts to the hospital, but they assure him that he's done enough.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Officers Tenpenny and Pulaski pull this, threatening to make sure Sweet dies if CJ doesn't do what they want him to do. Later Toreno pulls this as well but is less malicious about it, and ultimately frees Sweet once CJ has done enough for him.
  • Jerkass:
    • Ryder is just an asshole.
    • So is Pulaski, repeatedly making racist remarks, insulting CJ, and making vulgar statements about his family.
    • Oh, and not far behind is Tenpenny. He's a jerkass especially in his first meeting with CJ in Los Santos.
    • And adding one more to the list, Catalina. Dear God, she's an extreme jerkass.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sweet refuses to give Carl his due respect and is willing to keep the family in poverty to get back at Tenpenny, but on a better day he's quite a caring brother. It also helps that at his worst he's going to stop at nothing (including Carl's success) to get back at the man who tore both his family and as his circle of comrades apart with murder, abuse, and the allure of power and riches (as what he had successfully done with Ryder and Big Smoke).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ryder is one of the more troublesome members of the Grove Street Families, often high, always sarcastic, and excessively rude to everyone, especially CJ. However, he puts in work for the gang and does his part (though he always seems like that guy people keep around to kick around). And then it turns out he had betrayed the Grove Street Families along with Big Smoke, had a hand in the death of Sweet and CJ's mother, and has been arming the gang's enemies the entire time.
  • Jet Pack: The game has one, and it is arguably one of the most fun vehicles in the entire game. It's pretty much mandatory for horseshoe collection, as they're scattered in places high and low you can't really park a helicopter on.
  • Jiggle Physics: The one single instance, and easy to miss, in the whole series; there's a particular female civilian clad in red bikini seen near the beaches and pool areas who's notable for a constantly jiggling rack if she's laying around sunbathing, but not when walking.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: The game had Join The Military radio ads which by its very nature, a spoof of recruitment ads. see them here.
  • Joke Item:
    • There is a dildo you can obtain relatively easily and use as a melee weapon. It's possible to kill people with it, but it's almost as weak as punching someone with the beginning game stats. The vibrator is hard to find and does the same amount of damage as the dildo so it's more of a novelty. The last one is flowers, which can be found all over the place and only real use is to give to girlfriends like all the above items.
    • The flowers are a surprisingly effective melee weapon. Not lethal, but about as good as a baseball bat and ten times as funny to blow up a car with.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: C.J., despite being the hero, gets a few of these moments. These include murdering Mad Dogg's manager for OG Loc and attacking a nearby gang at a funeral for someone he killed. The mission "Deconstruction" have him killing the construction workers who were rude to his sister. He also was forced to kill certain people for Tenpenny and Pulaski or either he or his family will be killed.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: CJ could have solved a lot of problems for himself and Grove Street if he just capped Tenpenny and the rest of C.R.A.S.H. at the first chance he got (like what he can do to all the other cops in normal gameplay) rather than let them blackmail him with a cop killing he didn't do.
  • Justified Criminal:
    • The game includes references to this, including one instance where Sweet outright says that he and Carl robbed people at gunpoint for the money for both their mother's lifesaving operation and to put their sister through college.
    • In fact, the whole plot employs this trope, as CJ involves himself in many dangerous, morally questionable activities (stealing cars to fund a dealership, infiltrating Area 69, robbing a mob-owned casino) in order to rescue his brother from prison and his family/neighborhood from internal and external destruction.
  • Justified Tutorial:
    • The game has the tutorial sections slowly spread out throughout the game. Melee weapons are taught when you and an ally decide to go bust up a crack house, shooting when you visit a back-alley gun dealer, turf wars when Sweet enlists you to reconquer some lost territory, etc.
    • You have to do the pilot school before you can access the piloting missions (or legally enter the airports at all). Doesn't quite work out when the piloting school is only defeated through trial-and-error, as the starter prop plane will stall if the player goes too high. It does lead one to question what kind of demented pilot test is your PC being forced through. What average pilot would need to know how to do a loop-the-loop or barrel roll? Or how to blow up moving trucks from an aircraft?
  • Karma Houdini: One of the Ballas (probably from the OGs) that appears in missions like "Madd Dogg Rhymes", "Ice Cold Killa" and the video "The Introduction" count as this, as it is very involved in the murder of the mother of CJ but was never mentioned, seen or killed by Carl.
    • CJ himself, as well. He always wins, killing even people who do not deserve it, but this only makes for money or sent by their bosses.
  • Karmic Death: At the end of the final mission, "End of the Line", Tenpenny crashes his fire truck right in the Grove cul-de-sac, with the people he harrassed and abused for years standing over him as he dies, broken, humiliated, and accidentally slipping his self-centered mentality, more or less bringing the story full circle.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: There's a moment in one of the missions where your enemy throws you a katana, inviting you to a duel. Not that you can't immediately gun him down with an Uzi instead.
  • Kent Brockman News: WCTR.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The game lets you attack other people in various ways, some of which inevitably knocks the victim down to the ground. What you can do later to the grounded pedestrian ranges from a simple barrage of punches and kicks, to gunning them relentlessly, to even saw them off in half with a chainsaw, right in the ground, most of which will be incapable to escape their fate while they get smacked around.
    • Extra points if the victim is already dead.
    • In fact, you're taught this by the fighting gym instructors. Apparently boxing has fewer rules there.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The game is largely a Black Comedy with most less than moral actions the protagonist CJ or the other criminals commit being treated humorously and most the characters being extremely quirky. The exceptions to this involve the game's Big Bad Frank Tenpenny. The scenes with him are almost entirely humorless, any humor involving him is mostly played to show how much of Jerkass he is, along with the rest of his personality, and unlike the other characters, he shows that he has no absolutely no sense of loyalty to others and flat scoffs on the idea.
  • Knight Templar: Tenpenny and Pulaski claims to be this; every action they take says otherwise. To a lesser extent, Toreno, too.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: CJ during the mission, "Deconstruction".
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Ryder is convinced he's a genius, but he's probably the stupidest person in the whole game.
    Ryder: Hey, CJ, tell me why I didn't finish high school.
    Carl: 'Cause you been dealin' drugs, man. Since the age of ten. (Laughs)
    Ryder: (Laughs) Nope. That ain't it.
    CJ: 'Cause you put your hands on that teacher for wearin' Ballas colours. (Laughs)
    Ryder: (Laughs) But, nope. That ain't it either. It's cause I'm too intelligent for this shit. I am the real deal fool, oh, yeah. A genius.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • A Ryder mission has you break into a National Guard depot. A van waits outside for Ryder and CJ, who immediately says...
      CJ: That van wasn't outside when I came in!
    • Also, there's this conversation...
      Toreno's mook: This is all about speed and commitment. You got a GPS in the cab. Get to each set of map coordinates as quick as you can. Make it to all the coordinates then get the truck back here. Lose the truck and you fail.
      CJ: First, what's a GPS? Second, fail what? Third, who the fuck are you?
  • The Lancer: Technically, you are this to Sweet early on. Later, Cesar is this to you.
  • Laughably Evil: You have Mike Toreno, the paranoid government agent. Disrespecting dead women to a monologue on how all modern conspiracy theories are nowhere near the truth.
  • Leave The Plot Threads Hanging: We never do find out just what the green goo The Truth gets is.
  • Legion of Doom: In the final mission, while fighting your way through Big Smoke's fortress you'll encounter mooks from almost every gang you have faced throughout the game, such as the Ballas, Vagos, Rifa, and Russian Mob. Later in the mission, while chasing Tempenny the LSPD join the chase.
  • Leitmotif: A specific hip-hop tune is played whenever Officer Tenpenny and Pulaski show up.
  • Le Parkour: The first game in the series (and probably Wide Open Sandbox games in general) that allowed your character to grab and jump over objects taller than himself. A godsend when avoiding police or getting across the city. It also provides a boost to immersion: it removes the jarring Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence. However, you still can't climb ladders...
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Tenpenny claims to be setting the gangs against each other to weaken them.
  • Let The Boss Win: Woozie's men constantly do this whenever they play games with him. Ironically, Woozie seems like an nice enough guy - especially to his men, with whom he is very loyal - such that it's likely he wouldn't go Bad Boss on them if he did lose once in a while.
    • This is further shown when he humiliatingly loses to CJ in blackjack. He has no hard feelings, though he does lightly complain that he has much better luck with his underlings.
  • Let the Bully Win: Played with: His underlings blatantly let Wu Zu Mu, a powerful but blind Chinese gangster, win whenever they play anything, including moving the cup when he plays Office Golf or lying about their cards in Blackjack, which leads to funny moments when Carl, not caring, beats him regularly. Judging by his personality, "Woozie" a nice enough guy, especially to his men, that he probably wouldn't care if his minions beat him or not, but to his experienced mooks it's better being safe than sorry.
  • Level Grinding: The game lets you level up several skills, such as sprinting, biking, and individual weapons, by repeatedly using them. Maxing them out offers various benefits, such as dual-wielding pistols and SMGs.
  • Level in Reverse: Madd Dogg's Mansion is visited twice in the game, with the start and end points being reversed for the second visit.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: While it doesn't directly affect CJ's stats, dating the girlfriends bestow various abilities and bonuses.
    • Unlike other girlfriends, dating Millie, Sexy Secretary at Caligula's by day and Dominatrix by night, is crucial to the story, as she holds the keycard to Caligula's restricted areas; you can either kill her or date her to 35% to get it.
    • Starting a relationship with Helena and Michelle grants access to an armory (of chainsaws, flamethrowers, Molotovs and pistols) and a free car repair shop, respectively.
    • Starting a relationship with Katie and Barbara allows you to keep your weapons even when hospitalized or arrested, respectively (and in the former, you also don't lose some money).
    • At 50% you get cars fitting your girlfriends' personalities: a Hustler from Denise, a pink Club from Millie, a Bandito from Helena, a Romero from Katie, a Monster Truck from Michelle, and a Ranger from Barbara.
    • At 100% you get clothes: Pimp Suit from Denise, Rural Clothes from Helena, Medic Suit from Katie, Racing Suit from Michelle, and a Police Uniform from Barbara.
  • Lighter and Softer: This game is in tone probably the lightest in the series. CJnote  and most of his allies are far closer to the antiheroic side of the scale than Claude and Tommy, and he also clearly has fun and smiles now and again, the world is much lighter than IV (still crapsack, but more for black comedy) and the story is lighthearted and fairly optimistic.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: CJ and every criminal organization he associates with (Grove Street Families, the Varrios Los Aztecas, and the Triads) are Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters who oppose the drug trade and work to stop the sale of cocaine all across the state. The Big Bad, Officer Frank Tenpenny, has not only been largely been giving the coke-dealers more power for his own benefit, but he's deeply corrupt and is set to kill everyone who could possibly expose his crimes. Including his own partners.
  • Limited Sound Effects: The game has many such limited sound effects, for example, the sound for water spraying from a fire hose, water spraying from a fire hydrant, a boat skipping on water, and even the sound of a car scraping against a wall are one and the same.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: A variation: after the final battle (which is against a former ally who betrayed you, rather than against the Big Bad), the Big Bad shows up and then runs away again, stopping only to set some explosives that will destroy the building, giving you just enough time to escape. The mechanics of the mission fit this trope (you fight the Boss, then have to escape before the building is destroyed), but the explanation is different (in that there actually is an explanation).
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: San Andreas for the PS2 was lightly touched on above but deserves an official spot. The biggest game environment for its time? Perhaps, but it took quite a while to bring it up. The title screen alone took several minutes to load, so much so that it almost seems that it freezes. And if you go inside or outside a building during the game? At least thirty seconds.
    • While the ability to buy and change CJ's clothes is awesome, it takes forever. You choose the piece of clothing from a menu, CJ goes into the dressing room, takes about five to ten seconds to load his changed character model, and then comes out and does a "checking out my duds" animation that takes another few seconds. Then, you choose whether to buy or wear it or not, and CJ either just goes back into the dressing room or does a "hot damn!" pose that takes another few seconds. Repeat for every single item you select. And if you've got a lot of money, and want to buy every item a store has... well, you'll probably be able to read the manual from front to back in the time it takes to do this.
    • Still, at the time San Andreas was a big step forward, since it not only had a massive map, but loaded it seamlessly, as opposed to its predecessors, where there would be annoying loading screens everytime you went from a half of the (already small) city, to another. So while the game takes a while to load once you booted it up, you won't have to suffer much loading again for the rest of the session once the game gets going. One way or another, these problems were mitigated in the PC port, which loaded the in-game map, clothes changing animations etc. pretty fast; on a modern gaming computer, the loading screen for traveling to a new part of the city or changing clothes is less than a second.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: The series in general, with its trademark Wide Open Sandbox gameplay, falls into this. San Andreas is the biggest offender in this regard, as the story missions only count for a very limited percentage for the 100% Completion.
  • Locked in a Freezer: This is what can happen in one mission. Your lawyer friend will get scared by the gun fight and runs to a meat locker to hide in. If you follow him in and there's mooks around, a mook can actually lock you and your friend inside the freezer, making the mission a failure.
  • Locomotive Level: Three — one where you rob a train by riding it and tossing boxes to Ryder, one where you're on a motorcycle keeping up alongside the train, and one where you're on a jetpack flying around the train. There are side-missions where you can drive a train, but nothing interesting happens. At all. Unless you go so recklessly fast that you derail the train.
  • Logo Joke: The game has the Rockstar Games and Rockstar North logos appearing on screen with the sound of spray cans, kinda like graffiti (fitting for the game's 90s-era hip-hop mood).
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The game cuts off "Cult Of Personality" during the instrumental, skipping the final verse.
  • Loophole Abuse: Gang wars can only be started by killing gang members on foot. However, there's nothing stopping you from parking a tank there, killing a few, then using the tank to finish the job.
  • Lost Forever: There are several vehicles that can only be obtained in the main missions, such as a Volkswagen bus with a retro hippy paintjob, an armored car, and several modified cars, or cars with vanity license plates. This creates the odd situation where the game plans for you to lose these vehicles forever — the only way to hold onto them id often to park them in a garage, then fail the mission and restart it.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Getting all gold in the Drivers School courses. Expect to be playing Burn and Lap for a good hour or more to get gold. Flight school is similar, but there the difficultly lies in the controls, rather than the precision.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: An interesting case, as it's not one of the main reasons behind the controversy attached to the game. It also occurs quite rarely, namely, in these instances:
    • In "Reuniting The Families", you are being chased by a SWAT helicopter and a squad of motorcycle policemen. One of the biker cops jumps onto the hood of your car. Meanwhile, the chopper pilot, at a loss as to how to kill you after losing his door gunners, decides to tilt the chopper rotors-first towards your car. Guess what happens to the cop on the hood.
    • You can also do this by driving over pedestrians with a Combine Harvester. Doing so causes the chute on the Harvester's rear normally used for ejecting bundles of hay to spew out body parts.
  • Lured Into a Trap: In the Green Sabre mission, Sweet and the Grove Street crew are preparing to take the fight to their enemies, the Ballas. But when C.J. is called away by Cesar, he learns that Smoke and Ryder have sold them out and have joined Tenpenny and the Ballas, and that Sweet and the others are being led into a trap. It ends badly, for C.J., Sweet and Grove Street in general.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: In one of the commercials. "I want a new fence! That's IT! We're never having sex AGAIN!"
  • Made of Iron: Used as a gameplay mechanic in the races to curtail the obvious shortcut of murdering your competition. Both the cars and the drivers are extremely difficult to kill, able to soak up entire clips from an assault rifle. The only exception is the demolition derby. It also appears in a few missions.
  • The Mafiya: CJ and Big Smoke butt heads with Russian arms dealers in an early mission. Whether they were true bratvas or just gopniki is rather unclear.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident
    • If you're wanted in San Fierro, sometimes the cops would say...
      SFPD Cop: You know, I can make this look like a suicide.
    • At the end of the game, after a lengthy chase through half of Los Santos, Tenpenny lost control of his fire truck and crashes off the bridge overlooking Grove Street. CJ is about to finally shoot him dead when Sweet stops him, saying that there's no need to put a bullet in the dying Tenpenny. He's just a cop who killed himself in a traffic accident, with no one to blame.
  • Make-Out Point: Referenced, there's a region south of Las Venturas called Hankypanky Point.
  • Malcolm Xerox: There's a ped in the San Fierro section that fits this trope. He's even wearing a kente cloth dashiki and hat.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: The game features a relationship between African-American Kendl and Hispanic Cesar. Her brother Sweet has trouble with the relationship. The fact that Cesar is from another gang does not help.
  • Man Hug: Many — CJ and his brother Sweet, CJ and his best friend Cesar.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Officer Tenpenny, who's constantly getting people who are "beneath him" (like CJ) to do his dirty work for him, and he appears to take sadistic pleasure in manipulating those he has under his thumb.
  • Margaret Thatcher In Fiction: She's referenced during a cutscene. While CJ is talking to Mike Toreno, in the background we see that Kent Paul has locked Maccer in a recording studio, refusing to let him out until he gets over his addiction to masturbation. As a suggestion, Kent tells him to think of Thatcher. Doesn't work.
  • Meaningful Background Event: During the cutscene for the 'Wu Zi Mu' mission, a man in a black jacket and green jeans is sitting casually on a car in the background. That man is Claude, the player character of Grand Theft Auto III, who is Catalina's new boyfriend in the next mission and who gives CJ his car garage in San Fierro.
  • Meaningful Name: The Grove Street Families gang frontrunners all have special meanings to their nicknames.
  • The Men in Black: Toreno has the vibe. Definitely the "people" on the mysterious plane that shows up at your airfield.
  • Mercy Mode: Minor example, which gives you the option of skipping the commute at the start of the mission after you fail it a few times. This is pretty much just an Anti-Frustration Feature to make up for the fact that so many missions are set halfway across the map from where you have to go to begin them (and if you fail the mission, you'll have to drive all the way back again to restart...)
  • Minigame Zone: Minigames are all over the place in San Andreas, but Las Venturas has the highest concentration.
  • Minus World:
    • There was a mission where you had to fly on a jet to Liberty City, which was really just a small area situated on the northwest corner of the map, so high up physically that there's normally no way to get there without the mission triggering it. However, there are several methods that one can use (either with glitching or by using a Game Shark) to get there. You can even walk around in parts of the area which you never use in the mission, but are there anyway for the cutscene - just be careful, because it was never intended for use beyond the one mission, and most of the street outside isn't actually there. Unless you have a jetpack with you, coupled with the unlimited height Game Shark code, you'll fall through and end up out in the middle of the ocean back in San Andreas.
    • San Andreas also had a whole weird, trippy section of the game world reachable by using the jetpack in a particular store, or during a sneaking-related glitch in some indoor missions. Flying around this part of the world with the jetpack, one could find things such as corridors and doors floating in the void with people walking across them, various indoor spaces and some buildings. The game uses parts of this world for the indoor missions, but not everything is used, and what isn't is apparently left there with no purpose.
  • Misaimed Realism: Your character can faint if he doesn't eat enough. However, he can stay for weeks if not months without eating or drinking anything before he even feels hungry. Also, the lack of food doesn't prevent him from running, jumping and fighting like an athlete, and workouts will make him look buff even if he's starving.
  • Missile Lock On: The game has this feature on the handheld Stinger missile, The Apache helicopter and the Jump Jet.
  • Mob War:
    • Grove Street Families and the Varrios Los Aztecas vs Ballas and the Santos Vagos.
    • The Leones vs The Forellis vs The Sindaccos as well, in Las Venturas.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The game features a mission where you have to torch a house with Molotovs (and then battle your own flames, to save a girl you trapped inside without knowing she was in there). Later on in the game, pedestrians riot and throw molotovs around, including at you.
  • Money for Nothing: There is a mission that requires you to spend about $80,000 on an abandoned airstrip to proceed; however, it is about two thirds of the way into the game, so it's possible to complete.
  • Mood Whiplash: The early missions in Los Santos are very grim and gritty and, for the most part, realistic. Once CJ is exiled to the countryside, however, the mood quickly takes a turn for the silly. Mundane characters like CJ's "homies" are replaced by aging hippies and blind Triad bosses, while drive-bys and housebreaking are replaced by casino heists and covert missions for the CIA.
    • The tone becomes downright unstable after the rioting starts, making for even more frequent mood whiplashes.
  • More Dakka: The Minigun is a classic example of this, but the more common ways to get more dakka are micro submachineguns & sawn-off shotgun, which can be dual-wielded with maximum skill, the latter unloads four shells quick enough to reduce any car into a burning wreckage in seconds. Also you can bring 3 homies with SMGs in a four-door car, basically turning it into a ground gunship, first demonstrated in Drive By mission.
  • More Friends, More Benefits: CJ's girlfriends each have their own bonuses for dating them. There is a cop who lets CJ keep his money and weapons after getting arrested, a nurse who does the same if he becomes incapacitated (even if the incident doesn't happen in the ladies' jurisdictions), a mechanic who fixes and paint his cars for free (but only if you go to her garage in San Fierro), and a few others with minor bonuses. At some point you can even drive your girlfriends' cars, despite the fact that they're never returned in one piece (if at all.) Dating one of the girls is necessary to complete the game; the rest are optional.
  • Motorcycle on the Coast Road: The game lets you do this in several places, notably near Angel Pine and Blueberry. It's very cathartic.
    • Until you hit a randomly-generated traffic accident, and get hurled off your bike and into the sea.
      • Just like in Real Life... well, ideally not. Still possible.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: The notorious C.R.A.S.H. unit is exaggerated for effect — but not by much. Frank Tenpenny's jobs revolve entirely around rubbing out witnesses who can implicate him. He also killed his original partner, Pendelberry, before the game began, and plots to ice his two remaining partners as well.
  • Mushroom Samba: Something similar happens, where you end up driving a van under the influence of weed after helping the van's owner torch an entire field of weed with a flamethrower.
  • My Hero Zero: Zero is an irritating Hollywood Nerd who gives you some of the worst Scrappy Levels of the game. One gets the impression he is thinking of the "special and badass" sense of the name, while everyone else is thinking "loser". He does make weaponised RC planes though...
  • My Little Panzer: Subsequently, after you buy Zero's shop, all of the three missions you must do for Zero involve My Little Panzers. The first involves defending from a swarm of RC planes dropping bombs with a minigun, and the second has you using a prototype RC biplane armed with an infinite-ammo cannon to kill employees of Berkley RC, Zero's arch-rival in the business of RC toys. Serious business indeed.
    Zero: They're not 'toys'! They're just smaller!
    • Oh, and the third? Seems like the actual use for these things: a car tries to drive a road into a base. Berkley's helicopter drops obstacles that your helicopter has to remove. Bentley also has actual tanks shooting at his car, albeit with low-powered ammo for their size. You have access to antitank bombs.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Both Sweet and CJ have some problems with Kendl's boyfriend, Cesar. Luckily, CJ quickly backs off and warms up to him after their first meeting.
  • Mysterious Employer: The game had C.J. being led around by a mysterious voice on a loudspeaker who reveals himself to be the thought-dead Mike Toreno.
  • Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters: The Grove Street Families, especially Sweet and CJ, are very keen on traditional family values. Their allies, the Varrios Los Aztecas and the Mountain Cloud Boys Triads, fit as well.
  • Nerf Arm: The game featured a purple double-ended dildo (which can be found the Los Santos Police Station Showers among other places) as a surprisingly strong melee weapon. And it can be given as a gift to your girlfriends. Same with a secret silver vibrator that can be found in the northern most town of Bone County.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: No matter how many guns the player has when invading Madd Dogg's mansion for the first time, he ends up with just a knife. The player is not even allowed to pick up dropped weapons until half way through. A much later mission ends with a helicopter crash leaving the water-treading protaganist outside of the ship he has to infiltrate. All his weapons (sob) are at the bottom of the drink except his knife. However, here, a quick swim to shore and knowledge of respawning weapon locations makes the ship much easier to overcome.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: The Truth, a tie-dye wearing, weed-growing, long-haired Conspiracy Theorist and hippie. At first he seems like a crackpot, but when Carl starts being shadowed by government spooks, those wild theories suddenly don't seem so far-fetched.
    The Truth: Carl, do you know how many satellites the government has in space?
    Carl: No. How many?
    The Truth: Twenty-three. Do you know how many biblical artifacts the government is keeping at the Pentagon?
    Carl Johnson: No.
    The Truth: Twenty-three. Don't you see a pattern here?
    Carl: Man I'm seeing patterns all over the place! Get that smoke out my face.
  • New World Tease: It's possible to travel to San Fierro and Las Venturas before they've been officially unlocked (you just can't get there by road). However, until you progress far enough in the storyline, there's nothing to do there except look at the scenery and run from the hordes of murderous cops — did we not mention the four-star wanted level you get the moment you skip town?
  • The '90s: Specifically, 1992. Thug life, livin' in the 'hood, lowriders, NWA, Public Enemy and Ice Cube on the radio.
  • Nintendo Hard: GTA forums contain numerous accounts by players who have abandoned the game due to inability to complete a number of levels, with "Wrong Side of the Tracks" (a mission requiring the player to drive a bike alongside a train while Smoke, a terrible shot, attempts to shoot enemy gang member off the top) and the "Flight School" (aka "Learning to Fly") missions being declared impossible by some. The latter is affected particularly on PS2 and PC versions by poor controls, and forums include accounts of people making hundreds of attempts to complete just the third test (circling the airfield).
  • Nitro Boost: One of the two performance upgrades you can acquire for your car at the mod garages. Comes in the "Stored Nitro Charges" type. Also, the reward for finishing the Taxi Driver side missions includes unlimited nitrous on all taxis.
  • Noble Demon: CJ may be willing to steal, murder, and do violent criminal acts, but he has a good side as well.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Madd Dogg is an amalgam of Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg., and voiced by Ice T.
    • One of the barbers looks and sounds exactly like Morgan Freeman, and another is pretty clearly Vanilla Ice (and has hilariously bad street slang skills, just like him).
    • OG Loc's appearance is based heavily on Tupac Shakur, but his personality is anachronistically Ja Rule (apparently a leftover from when CJ was going to be voiced by Ja's then-rival 50 Cent)
    • Ryder is very obviously Easy-E with the exaggeration turned Up to Eleven.
    • Kurt Cobain is commonly seen on the streets.
    • A blonde woman dressed like Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct is seen everywhere.
    • In the countryside one of the men seeing walking the streets looks like the villain from the original The Hills Have Eyes. (This man also makes a cameo appearance in the game as Millie's gimp.)
    • The scant details that the fictional band The Gurning Chimps are from "Madchester", Maccer's appearance and accent and the early '90s setting suggest that they are expys of The Stone Roses. Or Oasis. Or The Happy Mondays, whose frontman provides the voice.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Not only are the names of the cities parallels for real-world locations (Los Santos = Los Angeles, San Fierro = San Francisco, Las Venturas = Las Vegas), but the names of the districts also imitate those of their real-world counterparts (Compton = Ganton, Hollywood = Vinewood etc.). This leads into a bit of a Celebrity Paradox when the music on the radio references places that the locations in the game are based on by their real names.
  • No Fair Cheating: If you activate the cheat that causes every NPC in the game to become an active combatant, the mission to prevent Madd Dogg's suicide becomes impossible and the game Unwinnable. Quite harsh considering it happens in the final third of the game.
    • There's no way to disable the cheat once it's activated, so if you activate it and then save...
  • No-Gear Level: Twice. CJ loses all his guns several times. After you've finished the story missions for the first city, you're dumped out of town with no weapons. Later on, after the helicopter he's gunning down from gets... gunned down and crashes in water. You must then make your way aboard the gangster-ridden container ship you were attacking and acquire guns by killing gang members. (Or you can simply swim ashore, buy new weapons, and go back.) Another mission, Stowaway, has CJ inside a plane loaded with explosives (possibly landmines). Shooting in there is not forbidden, no - but one shot that misses a government agent mook in there means hitting the explosives and the whole thing goes kaboom. Players are likely to resort to melee weapons or unarmed combat in there, risking no such thing - especially since getting into the plane in the first place is That One Level Part players are unlikely to want to repeat. note 
  • Non Sequitur:
    • CJ's girlfriends repeat the same non-sequiturs ad nauseum during car trips. CJ feigns interest.
    • Throughout the game, NPCs can have conversations with each other. However, these conversations consist entirely of random voice clips, so they are literally nothing but a series of strung-together non-sequiturs.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • During "Home Invasion" waking up the occupant of the house before getting the minimum amount of crates results in Ryder ditching you, leaving you to fend off a wanted level.
    • During the mission "Stowaway", you can jump out the plane without a parachute, which leads into a cutscene showing CJ crashing into a parked car at a drive-in.
  • No One Could Survive That:
    • Yes, this happens to the hero, during the Whirlybird mission. Carl plays door gunner for a Triad mission, but his chopper is shot down. One bad guy asks about survivors, and a nearer gunman says that no, No One Could Survive That. Properly played, CJ would then sneak up on the gunman and slit his throat.
    • After shooting down Mike Toreno's helicopter during one mission, you're told that "there's no way he could have survived that fireball" (bordering on Suspiciously Specific Denial, as this is the only time you see such sort of a message after mission). Guess who you talk to later.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The meat locker in Las Venturas has no unlocking mechanism from inside.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Ironically, this is enforced in a certain mission. Carl has fly to Liberty City to kill Forelli gangsters at the St. Mark's Bistro. Once Carl wipes out the Forellis, he immediately files back to Las Venturas.
  • Nostalgia Level: One mission late in the game is set in Liberty City, the setting of Grand Theft Auto III.
  • No Stat Atrophy: Averted. Physical exertion will consume the character's energy, first in the form of his reserves of body fat. If that is used up, his muscles will start to decay, making him weaker.
    • This is also an example of why it's rarely used. Many gamers complained about having their wanton violence, setting things on fire and parachuting off of high buildings interrupted by mandatory visits to the nearest restaurant. It was removed in Grand Theft Auto IV despite it being the most realistic of the series otherwise, possibly due to complaints.
  • Nothing But Hits: The soundtrack is heavily stacked with hits from the early '90s.
    • Averted with several songs, which may sound and feel like the 80's/90's, but are not necessarily widely remembered hits, many being acts that are majorly unknown for people who didn't live in that time period. As well as songs that weren't actually hits outside of the genre charts.
    • Also subverted, while the game does contain plenty of late 80's and early 90's hip-hop and rock, it also contains representations of genres that were experiencing Popularity Polynomial during the early 90's, such as 70's rock, rare groove and funk.
  • Not My Driver: The main character has to imitate the chauffeur of a recording artist's manager, in order to kill him by driving into the sea.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: While OG Loc at first appears to be an idiot who is ridiculed for their friends, even too harmless to consider him a "villain", this is inmediately inverted when he send CJ to commit several atrocities: stealing Madd Dogg's rhyme book, then killing Madd Dogg's manager and his girlfriend. It gets worse when he becomes famous and all this drove Madd Dogg to almost commit suicide!
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: This is the first Grand Theft Auto game to adopt a comparatively realistic set of Jump Physics and the appropriate fall damage to accompany drops of varying distances. However, there are still some absurd methods of negating this damage, such as:
    • Soft Water
    • So long as you are in a vehicle, you will receive no damage from impacts, including falls from great heights. This becomes especially absurd when you fall while on a bicycle or motorbike. Even if the impact ejects you from the bike, you will only receive minor damage, if any.
  • No, You: The normally fairly quick tongued Carl Johnson comes off looking brilliant when he first meets Cesar and some of his friends.
    Azteca: I think he thinks he's gangsta, and he should fuck off.
    Carl: No, you fuck off.
  • Office Golf: Woozie does this at the Triad's Las Venturas casino. His henchman makes sure his average remains low, despite Woozie being blind.
  • Olympic Swimmer: And quite a drastic switch from the Super Drowning Skills of all the preceding entries in the series at that.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Mike Toreno operates under one of these. And, as always, so do you.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: A line which many players heard over and over again because it's uttered every time you fail Zero's "Supply Lines": "Curse you, Berkeley! CURSE YOOOOOUUUUU!"
  • The One Who Made It Out: CJ has this status amongst his gang. His exile after his brother's death essentially made him a criminal in Liberty City and in the game proper, he forms alliances with Hispanic, Chinese, Italian gangs and the US government, taking a gang-banging crew to circles far beyond their reach.
  • Only Known by Initials: C.J. (Carl Johnson).
  • Optional Sexual Encounter:
    • The game used it as a way to increase your Relationship Meter with a girlfriend. But only once it got to a certain point already (except for Millie, who was..less choosy in certain regards).
    • San Andreas also had the Pimping Side Quest, which when completed caused prostitutes to give you money while in your, ahem, employ. And then, of course, there was "Hot Coffee"...
  • Optional Stealth: There are numerous stealth sequences in this game, but it's a lot easier in most cases to simply murder your way to the objective, and the game provides alternatives for this scenario. This is particularly true of Area 69, in which the stealth option is arguably more dangerous than the direct approach. The only time where stealth is strongly advised is when you must infiltrate an aircraft carrier: getting seen will make soldiers run to the stationed jetfighters and flee with them, before you can steal one of them, thus failing the mission.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: Lampshaded; the early missions have characters note that Carl (the player character) Drives Like Crazy. Despite this, everyone insists he drive whenever they get in a car.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The Mood Lighting of Los Santos has this, with the sky being a strong shade of blue, and the ground heavily orange tinted, coupled with heat haze to make the place look truly hot and smoggy.
  • Outlaw Couple: Carl and Catalina are briefly this in the "Countryside" missions; the radio station even mentions your antics at one point. Catalina, being an Ax-Crazy psychopath, pretty much ruins their business (and physical) relationship in short order, though.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The mission "Deconstruction", Several fans consider genuinely disturbing and creepy radical personality change suffered by the protagonist Carl, being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold to a lunatic homicidal maniac that would make Catalina proud.
  • Outrun the Fireball: A couple of times, but especially in one of the final missions in the game after you kill Big Smoke.
  • Outside Ride: Doable.
  • Oxygen Meter: This was a departure from the rest of the series, as previous games gave the player Super Drowning Skills.
  • Pac Man Fever: Justified, the game takes place in the early nineties.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: In the gay section of San Fierro (a parody of San Francisco) there's a movie theater with the title The Wizard of Ass on the marquee. It's one of the easiest photo ops to find.
  • Parental Incest: The Truth takes umbrage at being called "motherfucker" by a gangbanger.
    "Firstly, you are a real buzz killer, amigo. And secondly, I never made love to my mother — She wouldn't. And thirdly..."
  • Parking Garage:
    • "Ran Fa Li" has the player tasked in retrieving a car in San Fierro International's massive underground carpark for the Triads, which leads to the player being ambushed by gang members from the rival Da Nang Boys.
    • Players in San Andreas may also stumble across a scene reminiscent of the Rodney King beating in the parking garage of the Los Santos headquarters.
  • Parody Commercial: An advertisement from Cluckin' Bell, a fictional KFC and Taco Bell look-alike, which stresses how processed and disgusting their food is, as well as the inhumane manner in which the chickens are treated.
    The chicken is a bird with a tiny brain,
    So we assume he doesn't feel any pain,
    We shrink their heads and we breed 'em fast,
    Six wings, forty breasts, then they're gassed,
    A fragment from the first commercial
  • Pass Through the Rings: This is the first game in the series where such missions aren't optional to get to the end. Some of the flying school missions require this to master the mechanics.
  • Patchwork Map: The game averts this by putting the desert and forest in different land masses. Though in an inversion of California's geology, the desert is in the north.
  • Paused Interrupt: There is a segment where an NPC, Catalina, calls the protagonist up on his cell phone to chew him out. As with most phone conversations in the game, this happens in real time. She flies into her usual rage, and hangs up on the player — but the game doesn't know how to handle a dramatic mid-call hangup. She just stops talking, there is no click or dial tone, and the protagonist calmly folds up his phone and puts it away without a second glance, precisely the same way he is animated to end every (complete) phone conversation.
    • Also can be averted by the player, who can cancel a phone call at any time without any paused interrupts.
  • Pimp Duds: Lampshaded when CJ spies on a meeting...
    CJ: I know a pimp when I see one.
  • Pimped-Out Car: One of the many things to do in this game.
  • Piñata Enemy: Drug dealers. Each drops around $2000 (and pistol ammo) when killed, generally spawn alone, and after an early mission are extremely common, making them a valuable source of income early in the game.
  • Piss-Take Rap: OG Loc, who actually manages to have a rap career despite being a horrible rapper.
  • Pixel Hunt: One of the turf areas for Los Santos's gang wars is, no joke, a piece of sidewalk in the north area. When checked out on the map, it's a barely visible line unless you zoom in real close.
  • Player Headquarters: The safehouses. You can save, heal and clear your Wanted level in them, and you change clothes in safehouses too. You get one free at the start of the game, and to get more, you have to buy them. Though you get a few other free ones along the way (you can count on getting one every time you reach a new part of the state).
  • Player Mooks: Being awesome enough means one can recruit fellow gang members to assist on missions. They will follow, fire, pursue and then try to get in the car with you to go back home.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: In the second half of one of the last Los Santos missions, you're given an old, poorly-maintained AK-47 to defend the car you're escaping in. About halfway through that sequence (right as the police manage to set up an effective road block) it irreparably jams.
  • Plotline Death: A character who has the oomph to resist multiple bullets moments ago (on the roof of Madd Dogg's mansion) gets taken down by a single bullet in the foyer.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: CJ comes back from Liberty City to attend his mother's funeral.
  • Pop the Tires: Richard Burns on the news is riding with cops trying to stop illegal street racing, and Richard then tries to shoot out a car's tires.
  • Post-Processing Video Effects: There's a number of tone mapping filters applied between buildings. You can notice the entire world change colour outside as you step inside certain buildings. Film grain pops up during rainfall.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Satchel charges. They're only required for a few missions and they have very little use outside any mission where your target is already on the move. They're fun for a quick laugh if you want to screw around, but the money spent could have been used for other guns.
  • Pretender Diss: OG Loc, a black kid who tries so hard to be gangsta it hurts to watch. His rapping is just as bad.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: OG Loc is pathetic as a "gangsta"note . He does manage to make a music career out of it for a while, but that's only because he had CJ steal Madd Dogg's rhyme book.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some of the women pedestrians walk around in a fur coat.
    • Spoofed when a pimp claims he has loads of stuff made of mink.
    • Also spoofed in a radio ad about selling fur coats to guys in a mid-life crisis.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo (Sort Of): The quiet player character from Grand Theft Auto III (Claude) makes a cameo as the new boyfriend of CJ's ex-girlfriend, Catalina. CJ refers to him as "that mute asshole".
    • In the meathouse shootout mission where Ken Rosenberg is accompanying CJ he sometimes shouts:
    Ken: Just like old times, Tommy!
    CJ: Who the fuck is Tommy?
  • Prison Rape:
    • OG Loc is implied to have been raped in prison.
    • Tenpenny threatens to arrange for Sweet to be raped in prison in order to coerce CJ into doing his bidding.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: One mission has CJ picking up his old friend Jeffrey (who now goes by "OG Loc") from prison. When they get a chance to talk, CJ compliments him on his new muscular physique. OG Loc is quite proud of it himself, and touts prison as a great place to get into shape. CJ notes he could have done that without going to jail, but OG Loc thinks doing it while imprisoned is important for street cred.
  • Prodigal Hero: CJ does it twice: first time, at the beginning of the game when he returns from Liberty City, and second time, when Sweet gets arrested and spends most of the game in San Fierro and Las Venturas, only coming back to Los Santos near the end of the game.
  • Professional Killer: The game features a main character that takes contracts to assassinate people.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Truth, who at first glance looks like your average perpetually stoned New-Age Retro Hippie. But as the game goes on, more and more of the weird, seemingly random and/or insane stuff he talks about turns out to be true.
  • Psychic Static: The Truth convinces CJ and co to "Think of a pink golf ball" and other such oddities when you reach different locations. He doesn't say WHY he says to do these things, but it's presumably to make sure CJ doesn't think that he's avoiding a mind-scan, which would tip off whoever is reading your mind that you're trying to avoid having your mind read.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Catalina is one of these to Carl Johnson, although he never actually wanted to be her boyfriend.
  • Racing the Train: The mission "Wrong Side of the Tracks" involves you and Big Smoke trying to chase a train while on a dirt bike so that he can shoot the rival gang members atop the train. It's That One Level, due to the fact that the game never tells you that you need to be at least another train's width away from the train so that Big Smoke can hit them.
  • Rare Guns: CJ can acquire the Desert Eagle when he reaches Las Venturas, though there's a free one lurking around the first city.
  • Real Is Brown: Check out the graphics. An unmistakable brownish-gray trend emerges. The game might justify this by imitating the look of early 90s films set in South Central.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kendl gives one to CJ when he complains about the state of the garage he's received, telling him that he's wanted rewards without work, and can't see an opportunity when one falls into his lap.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In one of the radio segments, Jack Howitzer threatens to kill host Billy Dexter unless he touches Jack's genitals (It Makes Sense in Context... sorta) and then says he was just fooling around and that his gun was unloaded, only for it to go off and kill Dexter.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: In the mission "Reuniting the Families", Ryder hands your character an ancient, POS AK-47 that jams to the point of uselessness right when you need it.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: C.J. finds out that this is also true about gang-banging. So, in a Crowning Moment of Awesome, he takes over the entire state.
  • Reverse Mole: Late in the game, it is revealed that Officer Jimmy Hernandez, who was never an overly willing participant of C.R.A.S.H. to begin with, has been feeding dirt on Tenpenny and Pulaski to Internal Affairs.
  • Rice Burner: Customizing was one of the new features made available - though some cars are much better suited to it (hint: an actual sports car can take more modifications and already goes fast anyway). In keeping with the trope, most of these will make no difference whatsoever to the car's performance, a notable exception being the Nitro Boost.
  • Right Through His Pants: The infamous "hot coffee" mini-games has Carl keeping his pants on while the women he beds are usually nude.
  • Right Through the Wall: When C.J. chooses to have "coffee" (sex) with one of his girlfriends, the camera stays outside the home and the sounds of them having sex are muffled, as if we're listening to them through the wall. Later games with this option, Grand Theft Auto IV (and its DL Cs) and Grand Theft Auto V, also keep the camera outside during "coffee" or "booty calls", but the sounds are no longer muffled.
  • Right Wing Militia Fanatic: The game features one mission where CJ must sneak on a farm owned by a Waco-esque group in order to steal their combine harvester for The Truth. They shoot at him on sight — although CJ is trespassing with the intention of committing theft, he barely steps foot on his property before they start firing. Also, they shout racial slurs at CJ and clearly enjoy hunting him down. But once you actually get to the harvester...
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The bent cop Tenpenny works for an anti-gang unit C.R.A.S.H. — Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums. The unit is (very loosely) based on a real life police counter-gang unit gone bad. In real life the Los Angeles Police Department was rocked by the C.R.A.S.H. Rampart scandal.
    • CJ's mother was killed in a drive-by from a green Sabre, which is later found in a police garage. This is directly based off the black Chevrolet Impala SS in the drive-by which killed Chris Wallace, which although related happened in 1997.
    • Towards the end of the game, the riot that breaks out in Los Santos is a take on the Rodney King beating trial riot.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: There's a color-coded overlay for the turf wars in Los Santos, denoting blocks and sometimes even streets as belonging to a certain gang.
  • Road Block: The roads are blocked due to an earthquake some time prior to the game events that has destroyed most bridges. Since your character can swim, there's also a Border Patrol in the shape of a wanted level whenever you leaved the unlocked area.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: An interesting Freudian Slip is to misspell "martial arts" as "marital arts". It appears on the billboard of a usable gym in San Fierro. Easy mistake to make but since this is this GTA...
  • RPG Elements: Unlike previous games, CJ's skills improve the more he uses them. Physical activity (running, biking) improves stamina, swimming improves lung capacity, weight lifting increases strength, vehicles become easier to control the more CJ uses them (in specific categories; four-wheel, two-wheel, flying, pedals), guns have greater accuracy and range with use (and you can strafe while aiming), and he can even learn new combat moves from trainers at the various gyms. The player also has to eat to occasionally in order to stay healthy. If CJ goes without eating for too long, it begins to drain his fat. Once that's gone, muscle and stamina follows. Conversely, eating too much builds fat that affects his strength and stamina accordingly. CJ's physical appearance also feeds into his relationships with his girlfriends. Some like CJ to be wearing certain clothes and fat is generally looked down on. Fortunately, several of these statistics can be bypassed through various means. If you find all 50 oysters in the game, Carl has infinite lung capacity and will automatically be attractive regardless of appearance. If you earn $10,000 in the Burglary side mission, you gain infinite stamina. Compared to the sequel, the work required to keep on top of these elements is fairly light and often optional.
  • Running Gag:
    • Catalina will periodically call Carl to tell him how happy she is and how she doesn't miss him at all. She does this well through to the end of the game.
    • People calling Carl a terrible driver.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Da Nang Boys, Vietnamese drug dealers, and human smugglers all try to muscle in on both the San Fierro Triads and the Loco Syndicate. Since the latter two groups have CJ on the payroll, it doesn't go well for the others.
  • Sadist:
    • Catalina. She loves to cause misfortune or suffering to others, including sexual, and this is evident when she tortures C.J. for sexual pleasure.
    • Tenpenny and Pulaski.
  • Safety Gear Is Cowardly: In the final mission, CJ taunts Big Smoke for wearing body armour, contrary to his gangsta image, Ryder also mocks a member of the Ballas for doing the same in a previous mission.
  • Satellite Character: Kendl is for the most part CJ's sister / Cesar's girlfriend.
  • Save Scumming:
    • You can save scum to build up all the money you'll ever need by gambling, if you're willing to spend several hours. This is most easily accomplished after you purchase the casino in Los Venturas (to have a nearby save point). Simply gamble at your choice of game (video poker is a popular one) and save when you win big, or quit/reset when you lose all your money (though leave the sound off unless you want to hear the same two songs on an ENDLESS LOOP. Tell 'em, Godfather...).
    • Another method of doing this which can be accessed earlier in the game is to use the betting shop in Blueberry. Catalina's house on Fern Ridge has a save spot and a fast car that spawns on every load. The road down the ridge leads directly to the Shop, and only takes about 30 seconds. Betting on the longshot has a massive payout and can net you a huge income very quickly.
    • The game had save scumming in spades when it came to weapons. Any time you died or got busted, you lost all your guns, leading players to save after every single mission and reloading if they died or get busted on a mission. San Andreas introduced ways to let the player keep their weapons after death or arrest to discourage save scumming: it had a few missions where you would lose all of your guns at the start of a mission, pissing off players who had been save scumming to keep their guns and finding out they have to lose them anyway.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: With the advantage of greater spread and no real reduction in power versus the basic shotgun. Not only can sawed-off shotguns be wielded like pistols, but CJ can use two at once with enough practice. Best not to think about how he reloads.
  • Scenery Porn: Being a sandbox game, San Andreas doesn't have much in the way of huge, time-consuming panoramic shots of the landscape, but the love and attention to detail is clear. Las Venturas is, barring certain plot-and-legality-based changes and scale, almost perfectly accurate to the Strip and Fremont Street in real life (at least, how they were in the 90's; Fremont Street has since become 'The Fremont Street Experience').
    • Dated visuals aside, the countryside is still quite beautiful, with its rolling hills, tall trees and open meadows and fields that are easy to get lost and immersed in. On the other hand, it can also be quite creepy, especially at night.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Old Reece is implied to be this, as Ryder mentions the former having 'popped his membrane years ago'. Indeed, he will talk to CJ in a manner that suggests he is mentally in the past.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: One of the motorcycle cop voices in the game is an inversion of this trope. You might sometimes hear him tell CJ that he was the one who bullied him back when they were kids.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: In the mission "Green Goo", it's always the third box that contains the eponymous green goo you're looking for.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Officers Tenpenny and Pulaski were assigned to stop gangs and instead tried to control them.
    • Toreno has elements of this, although he's aware that many of his actions have to stay quiet.
  • Sequel Escalation: If you were expecting more of the same GTAIII / Vice City gameplay, only set in the '90s and with RPG elements, boy were you in for a surprise.
  • Shout-Out / Reference Overdosed: All on this page.
  • Show Within a Show: The game includes a large number of in-game radio stations that can be listened to from any vehicle (or even simply during the pause screen). Content ranges from music and dynamically updated news bulletins, to complete talk shows and phone-in programs.
  • Signs of Disrepair: A billboard shows a girl drinking a bottle of milky-white soda. At the end of a mission, CJ's out-of-control car changes its message from "A taste of what's to come!" to "A taste of come!"
  • Simultaneous Warning And Action: The San Fierro Police are trained social workers. That means they try to "Open a constructive dialog" while beating Carl with their nightsticks.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Sage, the DJ at grunge/alternative station Radio X, to the point that she's an in-universe Scrappy.
  • Soccer Hating Americans: The host of "The Tight End Zone" calls out to fans of various sports before lashing out at soccer fans.
    Your game is terrible and we don't win at it.
  • Some Dexterity Required: A staple of the GTA series, some missions are made difficult NOT by actually being hard but by forcing the player to use cars with inferior to awful handling. Case in point: Race across San Fierro would be MUCH easier if the car didn't fishtail every time you tried to turn. Same goes for the 8-track stadium car racing.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Can happen at anytime when you listen to the radio while driving, but there is also at least one deliberate example: When you have to go to Liberty City to execute a hit in a restaurant (i.e. it turns into an action packed gunfight), quiet classical music is playing in said restaurant.
    • Radio X contains 'Movin' On Up', a heartwarming and inspirational song that simply doesn't mesh with the drive-bys and manslaughter.
    • Radio Los Santos typically plays type 1 and 2 Gangsta Rap that suits the game perfectly. But then we have 'The Ghetto' and 'Hood Took Me Under', both of which are certainly not glorified takes on gangster culture.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": OG Loc's name is not pronounced "Ogg Lock".
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Some of the storyline missions and the "Burglar" side mission follow this formula. They are generally not too difficult, and actually quite engaging, as they take cues from another infamous game by Rockstar.
  • The Stinger: Immediately after the credits have rolled and you are dumped back into the gameplay after completing the final plot mission in the game, Catalina will call Carl to yell at him one final time.
  • The Stoner: The Truth and Ryder. A few of the recurring characters from Vice City, as well.
  • Stylistic Suck: The one OG Loc song we hear, "It's Loc Baby", contains all the things common in bad Gangsta Rap songs rolled into one: A simplistic and repetitive beat, random shout outs, extremely short verses and terrible wordplay. Doesn't stop it from being incredibly catchy.
  • Super Drowning Skills: The first game in the series to avert this. Unless you're an NPC character controlled by the AI whose name isn't CJ. Then you die the second you hit even a shallow pond.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Depending on the player and a little luck, this can happen. For example, CJ could be on one of The Truth's missions, in the hippie van and high as a kite while "In A Gadda Da Vida" by Iron Butterfly is playing on the radio.
    • Also, this one might qualify.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In one of the very first missions, Ryder puts his cap backwards and goes to rob the local Pizza Stack. But when the cashier recognizes him due to his height and voice (and, obviously, his Paper-Thin Disguise):
    Ryder: Give up the money! This' a raid!
    Cashier: Ryder! Not this again!
    Ryder: It ain't me, foo'!
    Cashier: I don't know anyone so small! I feel sorry for your dad!
  • Take That:
    • Quite a few at Driv3r and True Crime: Streets of LA, most notably a billboard in Los Santos with "True Grime: Street Cleaners". Also, at the War Memorial in San Fierro, at the top and bottom are tombstones that read "R.I.P Opposition 1997-2004". Also Hilarious in Hindsight, due to Saints Row 2.
    • Get a Bullet off of the Import/Export ship and read it's license plate. "EA SUCKS" and "FUCK YOU" can be read on them occasionally.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: CJ comes across a rapper threatening to jump. He makes a token effort to get him down, but in the end steals a straw truck so he lands semi-safely.
  • Tank Goodness: A series staple, the Rhino, returns with upgraded speed and handling as well as a new look based on the M1 Abrams. There's also a bulletproof SWAT tank in the final mission, though the only way to get it in normal gameplay is by exploiting the game mechanics to save it after failing the mission.
  • Thememobile: The Truth's "Mothership", a repainted camper van, is a great example. Several other major characters have their own vehicles, but for the most part they're only distinguished by a unique license plate.
    • Players can also create their own Theme Mobiles thanks to the game's vehicle modification capabilities.
  • Theme Tune Rap: CJ's voice actor is Young Maylay, an up-and-coming rapper. His debut album, "San Andreas: The Mix Tapes", features a song that has him rapping about the game in character as CJ.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: As the game progresses the player gains access to very powerful weaponry and vehicles, which can make a number of missions a cakewalk. The epitome of this is the Rhino, a near-indestructable tank, which can be used on everything from the game's Vigilante side-mission to running over hapless enemy gang members during the gang warfare stage of the game. It's also possible (though usually more trouble than it's worth) to do several missions using an assault helicopter if you place it where it needs to be in advance.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!
  • Toasted Buns: Averted with the Black Project Jetpack, which has outboard shoulder-level thrusters. It is also a very practical vehicle to use; it is useful in collecting the hidden Horseshoes in Las Venturas and plays a central part in one of the game's most memorable missions.
  • Trash Talk: CJ does this all the time in combat. "Oh, look, a gun." * Blam*
  • The Triads and the Tongs
  • True Companions: The group CJ builds during the course of the game is large, diverse and bound together like family.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: A pursuit mission in go-karts.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: One of your missions as Carl is to date a chick in order to steal her key card to get access to a casino. In a game with some missions that won't even let you destroy your highly non-essential car without failing the mission, this mission has two options: Go on a couple of dates with her. Or just kill her. You won't fail anything, and the key card will be right there in her house.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: There's a well-known glitch occurring in the later mission "Madd Dogg". You're supposed to line up a truck full of hay under down-and-out rapper Madd Dogg before he jumps to his death, but for still-unconfirmed reasons he can commit suicide as soon as the mission cutscene ends. Fans speculate that this is caused by too many cheats being saved, though this has been mostly discredited. Another theory is that the pedestrian riot cheat has been activated, which makes Madd Dogg walk off the roof to attack the nearest person. There is no way to complete the story mode on the same save file if this happens.
  • Updated Re-release: After the game was pulled from stores after the Hot Coffee incident and the Media Watchdogs had a field day with it, Rockstar tried to justify a rerelease of the game (while making the "offensive" bit truly inaccessible to keep the game rated M) by including a "behind the scenes" movie and a 30 minute cut scene showing events that occurred before the beginning of the game. Some say that some glitches and bugs were also fixed. PC modders tend to avoid the updated PC version as it made modding, well, harder.
  • Verbal Tic: T-Bone ends each and every sentence with "Ese", to sound more "cholo". Cesar Vialpando also does this, though less often, and also ends his phrases with "holmes" and "vato". (A number of pedestrians can be heard using these phrases in their conversations, too).
  • Vice City: Well, Vice State.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: A staple and much of the point of the whole GTA series, but it especially comes into play here as an odd case of Gameplay and Story Segregation. CJ is, for the most part, presented within the story as a ruthless but well-meaning Anti-Hero rather than a Villain Protagonist, but the player's still free to go on genocidal rampages in between each mission.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Averted in the final mission. This is what Tenpenny intended to do — bail out of Los Santos, or perhaps out of San Andreas for good, even as the city burns with riots over news that he has been cleared of charges of corruption (thanks to blackmailing CJ into concealing damaging evidence). Not if CJ and Sweet had something to say about that.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Big Smoke appears as a respected public figure on the news in latter parts of the game, encouraging (of all things) to keep the streets drug free while building orphanages. Lazlow, of all people, remarks on this during a radio interview...
    Lazlow: Big Smoke is doing a lot for the community. Or to it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Both Tenpenny and Pulaski undergo one late in the game, because the FBI has taken an interest in their involvement with the criminal underworld. Tenpenny is the one most visibly effected by it, as he goes from being smug, superior and cocky to edgy, paranoid and prone to outbursts. And when it's revealed that fellow officer Hernandez has been ratting them out... well, Tenpenny's reaction isn't pretty.
  • Violation of Common Sense: There's one point where you jump out of a moving plane, onto another moving plane, open the door and start shooting everyone in sight. Impossibility notwithstanding, who the hell would ever think of trying to do this just for a second?
    • CJ himself lampshades some of these missions himself occasionally, especially during the Toreno missions, in which he would have just walked away and never looked back if it wasn't for the fact that Toreno happens to be the key to getting Sweet out of jail.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: For the first time in the series, you are given a highly customizable character in the form of CJ — you can make him skinny, buff or fat, change his hairstyle and facial hair, and buy him a wide variety of clothes.
  • WAFF: If you move CJ to certain places, you can start a "two player run", and a second player will plug the controller, choose one of the characters and play with you. You can't go on missions but you can kill and destroy stuff together Just for Fun. If both player are near each other, any of them can press the L1 button, the time will stop, and the characters hug and kiss, even if it's CJ and another guy (and you can't deny the kiss). You can even kiss a police officer... This so out of place for a GTA it's more hilarious than cute.
  • Warp Whistle: The trains and airports.
  • Warrior Poet: OG Loc refers to himself as one during a radio interview and it apparently is the image he tries to create. It doesn't quite work out that well.
  • Watch the Paint Job: After reuniting with Big Smoke, CJ finds that Smoke has gotten himself a pretty nice car, and they drive to Beverly's funeral in it. As they're leaving the cemetery, some Ballas show up and pull a drive-by. Take a wild guess what happens to Smoke's new car. "AW MUTHAFUCKA, MY CAR!"
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tenpenny claims that his approach to the job is about "percentages" and that his philosophy calls for overlooking some crime to achieve a greater good. It appears that he believes what he says, but in reality he's rotten to the core.
  • We Used to Be Friends: C.J. and Sweet with Big Smoke and Ryder.
  • Wham Episode: "The Green Sabre". Not only are your best friends Ryder and Smoke revealed as working with the enemies (C.R.A.S.H. and the Ballas), but your brother Sweet is shot and arrested, Grove Street goes to shit, you lose all the territory you'd captured up to this point, and you're taken out in the middle of nowhere to do an errand for Tenpenny and Pulaski. Just... Holy shit.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: CJ says a variation of this after killing his friend-turned-crack-pusher Big Smoke.
    • He also says something similar after killing Ryder before Cesar snaps him out of it by mentioning that Ryder had attempted to rape Kendl.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
    • You can have fellow gang members ride around in your car. Driving recklessly (excessive speed, driving off a cliff, etc) will result in them calling you out on it. The best is "Cars can't fly, you bitch!"
    • The "dates" respond to crazy conduct, as well. Police officer Barbara is prone to scream "This is not responsible driving!" if you speed (Katie appears turned on by it, however, even though your relationship status meter actually drops). Even worse, if you use the attack button while trying to give flowers you'll get a sharp message about abusing your girlfriend and the relationship status will go down.
    • When CJ crashes into cars, he tends to shout insults at them. e.g. "did you buy your license!?" or, "Oh, you asshole, my shit!" While he is technically insulting the driver of the other car, some of the lines could be interpreted as insults to the player's own driving abilities.
  • Where It All Began: The last few missions take place in Los Santos again. The final cut scene takes right in Grove Street, where CJ started his adventure after coming back home.
  • While Rome Burns: During the last mission, while riots are breaking all across Los Santos and CJ is storming Big Smoke's crack palace killing everyone who gets in his way, Smoke himself is merely sitting in his pad playing video games.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Cesar is afraid of heights, as seen in a mission where he and CJ have to steal a car out of a cargo ship by lifting it out with a crane. CJ gets up in the crane while Cesar stays on the ground.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • In the mission "High Noon", Officer Pulaski reveals that he's wanted to just shoot CJ from the beginning. The only thing stopping him was Officer Tenpenny, who kept coming up with reasons to keep CJ alive.
    • CJ could just shoot every villain near the beginning.
    • Same with every villain towards CJ as well, an example being when you first meet Smoke, he could have just easily bashed CJ's head in, seeing his true nature and all that. Big Smoke's approach may be justified, though, in that he may have preferred to convince CJ to come to his side a la Emperor Palpatine to Luke Skywalker, especially when Sweet early was the guy heading the Families and CJ at that point was his lancer.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: A couple of missions early in the game deal with this. In one, you have to stop an arms dealer from the post-Soviet black market who's been supplying the Ballas gang.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Once all areas are unlocked, the player has access to a huge, open-ended, "living" region to explore, with widely varying geography, cities, and waterways. Even in the early stages of the game, when only Los Santos and countryside to the north is available, this still provides the player with more exploration space than most previous GTA games combined (and a cheat code, coupled with CJ's newfound ability to swim, makes it possible to explore the complete state from the start). Unlike the past games (and even the later GTA IV), the addition of rural areas and diverse city design give the game a sense of distance not found in the others; when C.J. is standing in the middle of the desert area, Los Santos seems a long way away.
  • With Catlike Tread: In the mission "Photo Opportunity", CJ and Cesar are taking pictures of a drug trade from a rooftop across the street. While they do this, the two are constantly shouting at the top of their lungs at each other. This is a remnant of the beta, where the two would have been taking pictures from a helicopter rather than from a rooftop.
  • Yandere: Catalina, particularly once she starts falling for you.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tenpenny has Carl retrieve a dossier during his time in Las Venturas. Right afterwards, he has Carl dig his own grave, intending to have Pulaski kill him.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: Played with. CJ has been working with Wu Zi Mu (or "Woozie"), a Triad leader who tries to hide the fact that he's blind, but fails spectacularly. When CJ responds to Woozie's big reveal by saying "No shit!", he then asks if Woozie knows he's black. The Triad's response? "I'm blind, Carl, not stupid."

Alternative Title(s):

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas