These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
The ending of #2 make it clear. The Boss just wants power and money, and all the benefits of those. He's not a good person.
Julius's motivations never change. He's always trying to clean up Saints Row. However, his methods of doing so actually don't stand up to close scrutiny. After using the Saints to wipe out the other gangs, Julius decapitated them and turned them over to the police. Even if you think this gross act of betrayal was warranted, he just made a power vacuum for other gangs to fill.
It gets worse. Julius actually didn't intend for there to be a power vacuum. He'd made deals with the Columbian drug cartels and did things the Vice Kings never would have done under King's leadership. He only betrayed the Saints once the police took him into custody.
And the multiple endings and add ons blur it further. In one ending Boss descends into cartoonish supervillainly, in the other s\he's better. And in Gangsters in Space and The Trouble With Clones Boss is practically heroic.
The games themselves. If the first one was too straight laced the sequel has side missions doing stunts from Jackass and spraying everything with raw sewage. The third game has man canons and a mission where you speed around with a tiger in the passenger seat.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Johnny Gat, Maero (to a lesser extent), and Shaundi (in the second game at least).
Evil Is Sexy: Tanya Winters, who ultimately becomes the chief antagonist of the Vice Kings arc.
Even Better Sequel: 2. The series pretty much just went from Grand Theft Auto clone to rollercoaster ride of gangbanging fun with an improved story, more to do and MANY more customisation options.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: When she calls a radio show with a request for her and Maero's anniversary the host says how they're gonna make it. Ay yup.
Hilarious in Hindsight. In the second game Shaundi was voiced by Eliza Dushku, and in the third game it's mentioned she really wants to meet the actor who plays Nightblade. Given one of the influence of the character this is amusing.
Moral Event Horizon: For the player character after the bonus mission in the second game. Before that point, you can easily convince yourself that you're doing it to stop the violence, return order to the streets, and potentially slow down or stop the drug trade. After the player murders Julius, though, it really sets in that your character does not care about any of this - the city is his/her's, and he'she's going to keep it no matter what. And to top it all off, before you kill him, Julius basically tells you that you've become just as bad as the gangs you fought in the previous game, which is why he left the gang in the first place. Oh, and if you didn't do that, you throw a random bartender into gunfire and blow her corpse up to escape a SWAT team.
Julius arguably crossed the Moral Event Horizon as well when he blew up the boat that Boss was on, putting him/her in a coma for five years, after all that he/she did to save him. Troy asked for Julius to dismantle the Saints peacefully, but Julius took the violent way out without even a second thought.
It was the only way, so he argues. Considering the actions Boss gets up to in the sequel, not to mention the fact that they were a vigilante gang of sorts originally, he was dead on the money.
Considering how the Boss is characterized in 2, Julius was entirely justified in his actions. He was terrified that he/she (the Boss) was becoming a monster, and worse, a monster who (running parallel with the origin of the Vice Kings) would probably take control of the Saints from Julius, and thus have the entire city.
Ironically, Julius seems to have CAUSED the Boss' increased sociopathy. Being in a coma for years at the hands of your beloved mentor can do that. The Boss might have been turning into a monster, but by attempting to kill him, Julius assured that he would be a monster who stood against everything he fought for. And, as pointed out somewhere, there's the fact that he didn't seem to feel that way until after he got arrested...
Dex in the second game also counts, as he decides to try and do both of them in.
Shogo Akuji crosses the Moral Event Horizon in the second game. Initially presented as a spoiled brat, Shogo wants to show his father that he can handle Boss after the Saints robbed his casino. He first orders Jyunichi to kidnap Aisha - who winds up killing her when she tries to warn Johnny and Boss. To make things worse, just to save face, he betrays Jyunichi in a fit of pique and tries to personally kill Boss and Gat at Aisha's funeral. He fails, and winds up being buried alive by Johnny and the Boss.
Likewise. Everything after "Deal with the Saints" was left up to Jyunichi, and Shogo only beytayed him to the Saints after his father all but removed Shogo from power and placed himself at the head of the Ronin with Jyunichi as his right hand.
The Brotherhood's crossing of the horizon is an interesting case. They kidnap Carlos, and chain him to the back of one of their trucks and drag him across town, face-first, which definitely gives you motivation to wipe them out. However, it's the main character who drew first blood by putting radioactive waste in Maero's tattoo and making him Two-Faced. Had he not pulled that little stunt, this could have never happened. Granted, Maero's offer was a terrible, terrible deal for the Saints, but still... Oh, and you avenge Carlos by kidnapping Jessica and locking her in the trunk of her car, driving the car to a monster truck rally that Maero is participating in, and park the car so that he unknowingly crushes his beloved girlfriend by landing on the trunk after a jump. And if that wasn't enough, the Boss shows up as soon as Maero gets out and tosses him Jessica's keys so that he can open the trunk and see her mangled corpse for himself, all while sneering "When you look in the trunk, just remember that you should have offered me more than 20 percent."
Of course, that bit with Jessica may possibly be excused on the ground of it being fucking awesome revenge. Not to mention that Jessica is just as much of a psychotic bitch as the Boss is, considering how smug and cheery she is about Carlos being dragged around on the end of a chain by a speeding truck with his face to the pavement.
Boss cripples a tattoo artist's hand with fireworks, ruining his livelihood as a scrimshaw and a musician, even though he isn't involved with the Brotherhood in any way save being a scrimshaw. He even explicitly says that Maero doesn't tell him anything because he doesn't want his best friend to get mixed up in gang violence.
And so we have one from each gang there's DJ Veteran Child from the Sons of Samedi. He was already a talented, award-winning DJ, but because he he wanted some good weed, he became one of the top members of the gang. He didn't seem all that violent initially (even confused), but was more than willing to remorselessly abuse and kill his ex-girlfriend, Shaundi as well as the Boss so he can save his own neck, or as Shaundi so succinctly puts it after Boss kills him.
Shaundi My Ex-Boyfriend's a dick.
When you go and rescue Shaundi the various sons will scream to kill the girl, further enforcing that of all the gangs they are the worst, and Shaundi's fears of them are very valid.
In the first game, William Sharp, the uncle of Westside Rollerz leader Joseph Price and the implied brains behind the gang, crosses the Horizon when he kidnaps and murders Lin in front of not only you but Donny, a Rollerz member who considered her his girlfriend (even if she didn't return the affection). Luckily, you teach him a lesson he'll never forget almost immediately afterward.
Player Punch: In the original, Lin's execution during the Rollerz arc. In the sequel, Aisha's murder during the Ronin arc, especially if you played the first one. The little... game... the Brotherhood plays with Carlos during their arc. Veteran Child taking Shaundi hostage during the Samedi arc. This game loves cleaning the player's clock.
Killing Julius in the hidden mission. Granted The Boss had good reason but so did Julius for doing what he did. It's not like he was trying to kill the boss after he woke back up either. The whole dialogue that transpires before you put a bullet in his head will probably make a lot of players feel a bit of Heel Realization.
The third game slugs you hard if you sacrifice Shaundi to go after Killbane.
The third game also contains GAT'S DEATH.
Rated M for Money: "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol." It's not really a game meant for kids.