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  • Never Work with Children or Animals: Referenced in-universe. Solomon Richards references this during his first meeting with Michael. He has his own saying: Never work with actors or directors.
  • Nerf: The next gen assassination stock values took a hit from the old values, which made it ridiculously easy to rack up 2.1 billion dollars after completing the game (for completions' sake).
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  • Next Sunday A.D.: Going by calendars found in several missions, the game takes place over the course of several months, starting in August (a month before the game's release date) and ending in November of 2013.
  • Nice to the Waiter: You can make Michael greet his maid and gardener when they are around.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Two of the Fame or Shame judges, Hugh Harrison and Anita Mendoza, are very obvious parodies of Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul respectively.
  • No Fourth Wall: Simon Richard's movie, Meltdown.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In "Eye In The Sky," if you decide to spare Chad Mulligan while stealing his car, he calls the cops, giving the player a two-star wanted level.
  • Noodle Incident: If you switch to another character after leaving them alone for long enough, you might find them in the middle of a rather odd situation without any context. For example, switching to Trevor might see him waking up on a mountain in woman's clothing.
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  • Nostalgia Level: The mission Hood Safari takes you back to Grove Street ! Although it's also a case of nostalgic Tear Jerker, since the hood is now Ballas turf, with the house you have to visit being a smaller, run-down version of the Johnson house.
  • Not Enough to Bury: Devin's legal secretary, Molly, by means of Turbine Blender. All that's left is a hand and scraps of flesh.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Although there are a lot of times where we see Trevor committing grisly acts and murders, there are some times where the game doesn't show us what happens, leaving our imagination to do the rest. The biggest examples of this are Trevor killing Floyd and Debra (which involves an abrupt Smash to Black and ends with Trevor completely covered in blood) and Trevor killing Leon (which takes place behind a closed door and doesn't last for long as the game automatically switches you to another character).
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    • Exploring the ocean can be this when there aren't any sharks around. The deeper you go, the less light there is, and massive underwater cliffs and spires appear practically out of nowhere constantly. The submarine has no radio (unless you're playing the Xbox One, Playstation 4 or PC versions), so you're stuck listening to either the eerie ambient music, the droning of the submarine's engines, or various strange undersea noises. The Next-Gen releases add a healthy dose of nightmare retardant however; While sharks and fish were the only sea creatures present in the original versions, the enhanced editions add Humpback whales, Killer whales and best of all, Dolphins to keep you company!
  • Not So Different:
    • Trevor and Michael are both massive assholes; it just shows differently. Trevor acknowledges that he is a horrible person, but he is shown to put great value on loyalty, even if he occasionally bullies his allies. Michael isn't going to kill innocents for looking at him the wrong way, but he is mostly motivated by his own well-being, to the point he makes Franklin work for a guy so he himself would get rewarded, and is shown to be a massive hypocrite on some issues. (Despite his complaints about Amanda's cheating, he cheated on her first). So Trevor is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with some serious issues, while Michael looks sophisticated on the outside but is rotten on the inside. That might be one way to look at it, but another would be that Trevor, of course, is a rapist, cannibal and serial mass murderer of whoever he feels like. Michael and Franklin are only shown killing in self-defense in the main missions. Where the "rot" lies is up to the player, who can make Michael and Franklin as evil as Trevor, if they choose.
    • Though Amanda's infidelity is the main focus of a subplot, it's heavily implied by both Amanda and Dr. Friedlander that Michael too frequently cheated on Amanda at some point in their marriage.
    • Michael and Franklin, should you go with Ending B. Franklin betrays and kills Michael for the feds, as he sees it as his only way out of the situation he's in.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Several people do this to Trevor after him and Michael destroy their friendship. Patricia does it completely innocently, while Lamar does it initially unaware but later catches on and starts doing it deliberately.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At the end of the mission "Derailed" Michael tells Trevor that if he gives Michael the loot so he can get himself out of Martin's bad graces he will get Trevor something better in return. When Michael tells him it's the Union Depository Trevor goes from irritated to uncharacteristically silent, clearly stunned at what Michael just suggested. He even claims it to be impossible and borderline suicidal only for Michael to insist that with Franklin and Lester it's not some unattainable dream the way it was when they were younger. And Trevor has zero back talk for it. It truly sells the gravity of the idea if it makes Trevor shut up.
  • Oddly Small Organization:
    • Franklin's green-wearing CGF gang is scattered and leaderless. It's so broken-up that Lamar says that they ought to start their own gang (consisting of two guys named after Forum Gangster).
    • "Trevor Philips Industries"note  consists of Trevor, Ron, Wade, Chef, and whoever else he can bully into working with him at the moment. Yet he expects to fully take over all the drug and gun running in Blaine County. It's no wonder that his main competition, The Lost MC and the Aztecas, can't take him seriously at all (until after he's killed them all personally).
  • Oedipus Complex: Trevor. Just don't call him a "motherfucker."
    Trevor: [Enraged] It's not legally "fucking" if you do not penetrate!
  • Offstage Villainy: Aside from their aggressive use of the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, we never really see any evidence to support Steve Haines' claims about the IAA's villainy.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction from the Blaine County Sheriff when Michael, Trevor, and their accomplice walk out of the bank wearing bomb suits and carrying Heavy Machine Guns (in Trevor's case, a minigun) is just priceless.
    "Sweet... mother of... shit!"
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Out of the entire cast of weirdos, freaks, horrible people, and outright insane whack jobs, Michael and Franklin are probably the most down-to-Earth people in the entire state of San Andreas.
    • Manuel, the native-born American farmer of Hispanic descent who Trevor harasses and later helps, is one of the few non-criminal characters in the game, and also understands the xenophobic nationalism of the Civil Border Patrol is meaningless.
  • Opponent Switch: A unique case in that it's not a single fight, but the entire climax is resolved this way. To boost their chances, the trio decide to each go after the antagonist they least personally know, which Michael going after Stretch and the Ballas for Franklin, Franklin going after Wei Cheng and the Triad for Trevor, and Trevor going after both Steve Haines and Devin Weston for Michael.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Like other Grand Theft Auto games, the player can pick up prostitutes and have sex with them. Additionally, being successful during the lap dance minigame at the strip club often results in the stripper inviting the player over to her house for a booty call. As a bonus, having sex with a prostitute not only replenishes your health, it also improves your character's stamina stat.
  • Optional Stealth:
    • Sneaking around and giving guys a "Hey, You!" Haymaker is a part of many missions now. This even extends to heists, which come with the options of this or going in loud.
    • The game allows this most of the way through save for one heist, which always ends up loud. The FIB raid ends with you trapped inside a skyscraper and fleeing into the streets — regardless of your approach choice, the only differences (save for the outfits) mean either a "survive for 2 minutes" objective or getting separated from the group.
  • Ordered Apology: One of Michael's missions has him helping out a producer he's a fan of rough up his current director and lead actor over a contract dispute. Just for fun, Michael forces the director to apologize for being difficult.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Would you believe a wild-eyed psychopath with meth-induced facial scabs and a neck tattoo reading "CUT HERE" would be working as a highway patrolman, or a security guard? Lampshaded in the "subtle" version of the UD robbery, where the bank manager takes a very long time staring at Trevor's fake ID badge before finally waving him through.
  • Parachute in a Tree: When Franklin first meets Dom Beasley, the man has gotten himself stuck in a tree in this manner. Franklin releases him.
  • Parking Problems:
    • Many of the tow truck missions involve towing vehicles misusing handicapped spaces. In one of them, the driver gets out and pretends to walk like a crippled person.
    • The lead up to the "Obvious" method of the Big Score requires you to find a getaway vehicle and park it in a certain parking garage. The marker for the spot is over a handicapped parking space. Given the position of the marker relative to how you enter the garage, it's likely you'll end up parking the vehicle across two handicapped spaces.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Trevor and Michael go through this in the game's final act when Trevor discovers that Brad has been dead all along and that it's his body in Michael's grave. Trevor is enraged at the revelation and he and Michael come close to killing each other over it a couple of times. If option C is chosen at the end of the game the two men will reconcile.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: During the shootout at the Ludendorff cemetery, the Chinese gangsters (who have mistaken Michael for Trevor's gay lover) keep shouting that they know he is "weak and feminine."
  • Poor Communication Kills: A literal case in "Legal Troubles". Devin Weston wants to sell Solomon's studio and shut down his film so he can build condos, Molly takes the physical copy of the film and Michael chases after her since it's the only copy. Or so he thinks. After Michael chases Molly into an airport hangar and she gets sucked into a turbine engine, Michael takes the film back and gets a call from Solomon, who only now informs him that he has digital backup copies of the film. The story tries to Hand Wave it as Solomon just assuming Michael knew there were multiple copies, even though the way Michael had just stormed out of Solomon's office to hunt down Molly should have made it pretty obvious that he didn't know. Solomon could have saved Michael a lot of trouble by clarifying that and sparing him the guilt of indirectly causing Molly's death.
  • Potty Failure: The opening sequence of Impotent Rage ends with the title character grabbing an old lady who's squirming desperately until she shits all over the screen.
  • The Power of Friendship: Ending C. Despite the great risk to his life, Franklin decides to save his mentors, Michael and Trevor, with some backup from Lamar. Trevor reaffirms his friendship with Michael, who in turn makes up for betraying him and Brad nine years ago by helping him fend off the FIB and Merryweather, before the trio split up to take out their antagonists. This reaches its logical conclusion when the three of them together push Devin Weston's car off the cliffside of Paleto Cove, with him in the trunk.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Pretty much a hallmark of the GTA series. It is also possible for the player to lampshade this based on making optional choices. For example, it is possible for Michael to have sex with one or more strippers or a hooker (certain strippers can even be recruited for "booty call" availability), and then immediately proceed into the mission in which his Berserk Button is pushed when he discovers his wife has been sleeping with the tennis coach, causing him to commit actions that push the plotline into full gear. note 
  • Pulling the Thread: See Wham Line below.
  • Punny Name:
    • The town the Cold Open takes place in is called Ludendorff. Most probably named after Erich Ludendorff, a German WW1 General and a supporter of Hitler.
    • Since North Yankton (the state it's in) is based on North Dakota, that would make it the equivalent of Bismarck.
    • The Los Santos soccer team is called The Benders; "bender" is British slang for homosexuals, equivalent to "faggot" in America. Likewise, "bender" is also American slang for a serious Mushroom Samba (and given how drugsaare all over San Andreas, these tend to occur on a daily basis).
    • In one that was likely intentional in-universe, one of the purchasable properties is a gay bar called Pitchers. This refers both to the pitchers drinks are served in, and slang for a gay male who penetrates instead of being penetrated (the catcher, as it were).
    • The in-game equivalent of NASDAQ is called BAWSAQ, which is derived from the Scottish slang word "bawsack", meaning ballbag or testicles in general. Rockstar North are, of course, based in Edinburgh.
    • One of the brands of athletic clothing, which also appeared in San Andreas, is called Pro-Laps. It's a pun on "prolapse", a rather disgusting medical condition.
  • Random Event:
    • Returning to a character after a long period increases the chances there'll be something happening. Also, don't expect an explanation as to how they got there beyond a few clues and a comment. For example, it's entirely possible to find Trevor either: A) demanding a body-builder prove he doesn't stuff his leotard crotch; or B) drunken and falling asleep on a rooftop without a ladder.
    • Or Trevor waking up on a beach, with a bunch of dead bodies, in his underwear and hung over.
    • Or Trevor in the middle of a high-speed chase with a two-star wanted level, screaming, "It was self-defense!"
    • Or Trevor chasing after a man in a burning car while apologizing for trying to show him "His thingy".
    • In Los Santos, Trevor is also commonly shown being kicked from some establishment (restaurant, casino etc.) and arguing hilariously with the security.
    • A lot of the in-progress random events for characters other than Trevor are more slice-of-life events: Franklin playing fetch with Chop, or drinking a soda, or cleaning his car, Michael getting bored with watching TV, or enchanted by watching the ocean from the pier... or either of them just stuck in Los Santos traffic.
    • Michael can sometimes be found in a park, speaking to someone who has apparently raised concern about his smoking habits.
      Michael: If I were you, I'd be concerned about more immediate causes of death. Go the fuck away.
    • Michael can possibly be found speaking to a state trooper who just wants him to smoke somewhere else.
      Michael: Oh, you are concerned about the fire hazard? How about I find out where you live and burn your fucking house down?!
  • Red Herring: In one of the first missions as Michael, after you meet again with Lester, Lester tasks you to plant a bomb into a mobile phone and kill a CEO of LifeInvader company. During the scene, where Michael is planting the bomb, he leaves his backpack in the office. Some players might worry that it would lead the investigators of the CEO's death to Michael, as any person present witnessed a man with that backpack walking around in the building. As a bonus, you can't really choose to pick it up again, after Michael discards it. But nothing ever happens, the backpack is forgotten from the moment Michael leaves the building on.
  • Reunion Revenge: Subverted to hell and back. After a lengthy mission where Trevor relocates to Los Santos and swears to find Michael, Michael's missions take the center, giving hints that he's going to slip up again and encounter Trevor. Come to his first mission after Trevor moves, which seems like a normal family situation where he has to save the day. Cue Trevor nonchalantly standing in the hallway and cracking jokes to the whole family, followed by a mission of the two working together to kick a sleazy producer's ass.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Michael's family trades these with each other in virtually every scene together. But the Master is Jimmy, who is very self-aware of most of his own failings and issues, but twists them all with "armchair" psychology so that they somehow come back to blaming his father.
    • Trevor and Michael trade these constantly after their reunion, with Trevor showing contempt for Michael's cushy lifestyle post-retirement and Michael being disgusted by every facet of Trevor's. At one point, Trevor flat out calls Michael a failure as a husband and father, and Michael dissects Trevor's habits and classifies him as a "proto-hipster" (the hipster that all hipsters aspire to be), knowing that Trevor hates hipsters (because hipsters would never admit that they were).
  • Also, the Logger beer commercial is one of these to the viewer.
    "Pablo Rapazar makes $28 million a year. Duane Aller makes $35 million a year. You make $10 an hour."
  • Recruiting the Criminal: After he blows his cover following the jewelry store heist, Michael, along with Trevor and Franklin, is forcibly made to do dirty work for the FIB. Unfortunately for all three of them, Steve Haines has every intention of working them until they're KIA or he feels they've outlived their usefulness. While their enslavement doesn't prevent them from committing "honest" crimes on the side, getting out from under the FIB's thumb is a huge driving force in the plot.
  • Ret Irony:
    • One random event involves a construction worker on the phone talking about how he only has a day before retirement. Cue pipes falling off a crane, trapping him in his truck and triggering a gas explosion. Thankfully you can save him.
    • While walking by the police station, you can sometimes overhear them discussing their soon retirement. Given that they're police in a GTA game, the odds of them living to see it are approximately on par with the odds of a dog learning to play Tchaikovsky.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: A subject of one of the side missions. Castro's girlfriend is furious at him for cheating on her at a golf course. She's technically wrong — he's never cheated on her at the golf course, BUT he saves his impregnation sessions for out-of-town trips!
  • Right Through the Wall: When switching to Michael at night and walking upstairs in his house, his daughter can occasionally be heard having loud sex in her room.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • Government surveillance factors heavily into a few missions (one where you use a police chopper to eavesdrop on civilians, and another where you break into the FIB headquarters to steal dossiers from their network), notable given that the exposure of Prism brought government surveillance to the forefront of the public consciousness not long before the game's release.
    • Think the Paleto Bay Heist is way over the top and could never happen in real life? It's actually not dissimilar from the 1997 North Hollywood Shootout.
    • Many news stories heard or read during the game reflect real-life issues facing the US during the several years the game was in production, from government bail-outs of companies to damage being done to Liberty City following a hurricane (reflecting real-life damage done to the New York City area by Hurricane Sandy). Numerous references are also made to the US being in recession; although this was not so much the case by the time the game was released in 2013, the game was in production during the years following the economic downturn of 2008.
    • As with the previous game, The War on Terror plays a significant role in some portions of V. Merryweather Security went from a small-time security firm to a full-on private military company thanks to making bloody profits on conflicts in the Middle East, and are now one of the most powerful entities in the United States. The FIB and IAA both exhibit paranoia and fear akin to their real-life counterparts over Islamic terrorism, and Weazel News is quick to report on any potential un-American activities or threats. Many of the in-universe politicians cite an end to the War on Terror, either peacefully or through evermore security and policing, as their campaign qualities.
    • Environmental issues akin to real-world problems also play a frequent role at times. Many citizens of Los Santos may express their frustration at environmental treaties which have apparently led to a reduction in vehicle quality, as well as a spike in the popularity of electric cars. Fuel prices continue to rise, and during the game's events the government of San Andreas is currently attempting to fix an ongoing pollution crisis, with smog levels said to be rivaling that of Beijing, similar to the real-world smog crisis of Los Angeles; while not as severe as Los Santos in the game, Los Angeles' own smog problem is one of the worst in the Western world.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After defeating a small army of Merryweather Security mercenaries and FIB Agents in "The Third Way", the protagonists decide to tie up all loose ends by assassinating all of the game's major antagonists in a brief period of time. Michael kills Stretch, Trevor kills Steve Haines, and Franklin kills Wei Cheng. Trevor then kidnaps Devin Weston and the three protagonists give him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech before locking him in the trunk of a car and pushing it off a cliff.
  • Rubber Band A.I.:
    • A minor case with Franklin's street-racing side missions. If the runner-up isn't far behind you as you're at the home stretch, you might be surprised to be suddenly beaten in a photo finish. On the other hand, if you crash early in the race, as long as you're trying to catch up, the AI cars might slow down accordingly.
    • A major case with the third triathlon, although it's so long, it is possible to catch up and win, even if it appears the competition is miles ahead of you.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In-game, there's quite a few nods to - Ron and Chef represent the paranoid Conspiracy Theorist viewpoint, what with their ramblings about government mind control drugs and Annunaki, whereas the newly successful Franklin is referred to by multiple characters as "Illuminati" in the context of urban black slang popularized by rappers like Killer Mikenote . Lester even keeps an Illuminati poster in his home, and is a firm believer in the Illuminati and New World Order conspiracies.
  • Sadistic Choice: Invoked both in-universe and out-of-universe with the final decision of the game. From Franklin's POV, an extremely powerful and well-connected villain just directed him to betray and kill one of his closest and most reliable partners, but he has to pick which. From the player's POV, that choice remains, but there's another side to it. If you take into account the Third Option, you can either go after the Big-Bad Ensemble or give a Karmic Death to one of the Villain Protagonists. You can't do both; someone is going to get away scot-free.
  • Save Point: While safehouses are still a feature, a quick-save feature was added, allowing the player to save anywhere in San Andreas at any time off-mission.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Some Weazel News radio reports have the announcing guy going "transition woosh!" in between stories.
  • Scenery Porn: Especially with the upgraded PS4 graphics, there are many, many locations where the views of the city and country side are spectacular. There is also amazing attention to detail, from readable "Missing Person" notices on power poles or little details like lawn sprinklers turning on in the morning, lifeguards coming to work every morning on their ATVs, NPCs playing full games of Golf by themselves, etc.
  • Scolded for Not Buying: In Online, if you call one of your contacts but do not make use of their services, they will make a comment about you acting weird.
  • Scripted Event:
    • Of the good variety. Picking certain people for heists, increasing your skills when asked, picking up loot shares from downed allies, and numerous other factors can influence conversation between characters.
    • Although most traffic is random, during a number of missions AI-controlled vehicles will provide obstacles at scripted times. One instance is in the mission "Marriage Counseling", wherein a large van will always block the road through Vinewood Hills, allowing the tennis coach to escape.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: At the beginning cutscene for "The Big Score" if you take the subtle approach, some strippers at the Vanilla Unicorn are discussing how to file taxes; one is teaching the other, since the other hasn't filed since grad school.
  • Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: A non-comedic example in Molly concerning Devin. She gets extremely touchy when Franklin calls her out on it, especially since it's very obvious that Devin doesn't really care about her that much.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • Most of Trevor's most spectacular thefts end with him empty-handed, for one reason or another.
    • Franklin's series of missions for Barry ends with Barry's "smoke-in" being called off on account of him having smoked all the weed and forgotten about it.
    • The entire "Legal Trouble" mission is revealed to have been totally pointless, since Solomon Richards has lots of extra copies of his film on reserve.
    • The entire game becomes this for Franklin, if he chooses either A & B. In both endings, it's heavily implied he cuts off contact with the survivors and goes back to his old life, thus making the story a moot point.
  • Shot to the Heart: Trevor administers one to Kerimov during the torture sequence if his heart gives out.
  • Show Within a Show: Like in the previous game, various shows can be watched on television. These include Impotent Rage (a Strawman Political superhero cartoon), Kung-Fu Rainbow Lazer Force (a Power Rangers parody), Fame or Shame (a game show in a similar vein to America's Got Talent), The Underbelly of Paradise (a real crime show similar to Dateline), Jack Howitzer is Jack Howitzer in Jack Howitzer (a reality show depicting efforts to bring the eponymous washed-up actor back into the spotlight), and Moorehead Rides Again (an animated adaptation of the Radio Drama from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories). The Updated Re-release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC also has new episodes of Republican Space Rangers and Princess Robot Bubblegum.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: The reason why Tanisha doesn't want to settle down with Franklin.
  • Signature Move: Each character has their own certain animations, skill specializations, and their own special move; however, the skills can all be increased as necessary:
    • Franklin has higher stamina and driving, and can use Bullet Time in cars and motorcycles. When carjacking, he throws them out the vehicle. He's also quickest to break into locked vehicles, jimmying the lock if he's able to and hotwiring so quickly bystanders won't even call the cops unless the alarm goes off.
    • Michael has higher stealth and shooting, and can use Bullet Time when shooting. When carjacking, he threatens them out. When stealing locked cars, he elbows the window.
    • Trevor has higher strength and flying, and can become enraged when shooting to gets a higher pain threshold and deal more damage (when in rage mode, he is the only character who can survive a mountain lion attack, which otherwise kills the others instantly). When carjacking, he assaults the occupant. Before he steals a locked car, he looks to his sides for anyone watching and then openly punches the window before slightly struggling to hotwire, taking the longest overall.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: All three protagonists drop the F-bomb like it's going out of style.
  • Sixth Ranger: In Ending C, Lamar assists the crew in the Foundry shoot-out.
  • Slice of Life: The character swapping feature allows players to witness some aspects of the main characters' lives when not using them, such as Franklin buying weed, Michael and Jimmy getting home after a bike ride, and Trevor waking up in his underwear, on the beach, surrounded by dead bodies.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Albert Staley, a security guard that's encountered on the first heist. Michael gives him his Catchphrase: "You forget a thousand things everyday. Make sure this is one of them." When the guard recites this quote on the news, it serves to tip Trevor off that Michael is still alive.
    • Brad is hardly on-screen (alive) but his death and burial in Mike's grave is the major source of tension between Trevor and Michael and, until Trevor discovers that he's dead, his assumed incarceration is one of Trevor's main motivators. It also leads to the stand-off in North Yankton and Mike's subsequent capture by the Chinese.
    • Kyle Chavis the tennis coach disappears from the story after an early mission. However, by sleeping with Amanda and inciting Michael's wrath, he pretty much sets off the chain of events that put the plot into motion.
  • Something Only They Would Say: It's how Trevor finds out that Michael survived the North Yankton job. The policeman who witnessed the Vangelico heist, when interviewed on TV, quoted the exact words that Michael (whose identity was concealed by a gas mask) had told him when he and Franklin left him, which were the same as the ones he said to a security guard who unmasked him in the bank job (that, in-game, are said to be from a movie Michael enjoyed):
    You forget thousands of things every day. Make sure this is one of 'em.
  • Special Effects Failure: In-Universe example. Nearly all of "Meltdown" was filmed on a green screen, and the finished product looks hilariously dreadful.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Trevor's last name is only spelled with one L.
  • Spiteful A.I.: The usual cops hostility notwithstanding, car chases and road escapes can get very frustrating due to the fact that your car/getaway vehicle will instantly turn into a NPC-car-magnet for the duration of those gameplay segments.
  • The Social Darwinist:
    • Noted by Trevor:
    Trevor: This is why this country is screwed! There's not enough [people like me], there's too many [people like you]!
    Michael: [scoffs] Yeah, a country of you's — that's just what this world needs.
    Trevor: Shit would get done! It would be Darwinian!
    • Lester states that "It's time to put the Darwinism back in Social Darwinism" at the the start of a mission to assassinate Jay Norris.
    • Devin Weston describes himself as a Darwinian type of person when he first meets the group. Trevor hates him immediately, fitting with his self-loathing.
  • Stealth Pun: Volume 2 (i.e. the material composed by Rockstar's in-house musicians) of the game's original soundtrack is subtitled "The Score".
  • Stereotype Reaction Gag: During one mission for the cab company after you buy it, Franklin is told to pick up a specific passenger who wants to go to the docks. On the way there, the guy wants him to help sort out some gangsters messing with his daughter.
    Franklin: So you think because I'm a black guy I'd be cool with this shit?
    Walter: So you're not cool with it?
    Franklin: No, for sure, I am. beat That's not the point though.
  • The Stinger: As with most past GTA games, after completing the story and viewing the closing credits, the player can continue to explore San Andreas, even completing missions and tasks that weren't required to complete the story. However, GTA V is the first to actually unlock a mission upon completion of the game. Upon completing all the tasks for 100% completion, a mission called "The Last One" is unlocked, but it doesn't appear until the player continues exploring the game world for a random length of time (as long as several in-game weeks in fact).
  • Story Breadcrumbs: You can pick up a lot of details on the side characters by reading their comments on LifeInvader. It's a good habit to check the page (and news websites) upon completing a mission.
  • Stupid Crooks:
    • Franklin's 'hood associates are dumb. Really dumb. If he wasn't pulling their dead weight, they'd all be in jail or full of bullets. They embrace their idiocy, too. Notably, they all call him soft after he disappears from the 'hood after his first heist, despite the fact it earned him more money than all their shenanigans put together, for less strife overall, and the reason he's been absent is getting to live in a very ritzy tax dump property to legitimize his windfall.
    • Some of the low-level crew members are definitely this, but at least they're cheap. Packie is first seen screaming at his partner about being so stupid that he couldn't even get a getaway car for a drug-store robbery. Thank God he's much better on the actual heists.
  • Stylistic Suck: You get to go to the movies and see Meltdown, the film that Michael helped get made. It really is a piece of shit.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Johnny Klebitz, the protagonist of The Lost and Damned episode of GTA IV appears as soon as we're introduced to Trevor - and gets killed by him, no less.
  • Super Strength: Trevor's special ability gives him this, able to knock down people with bloody punches. He can even blow up vehicles by hitting them repeatedly with melee weapons. He can also withstand attacks that would otherwise kill him (or the other characters) instantly.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The radio often plays music relevant to the scenes going on at the time - sometimes a Theme Music Power-Up when the characters are doing something badass, sometimes just plain oddly underscoring tunes: like Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now", while Trevor brings Patricia back to her husband, or The Undisputed Truth's "Smiling Faces Sometimes", after Michael and Trevor have totally broken apart and Franklin is trying to decide who to trust. There's also The Alan Parson Project's "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" playing after Trevor puts Devin Westin in the trunk of his car in the Option C ending. And Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" is heard in the car when Michael is arguing with his son after smashing his TV.
  • Swiss Cheese Security:
    • As expensive as Michael's mansion looks, it doesn't appear to have any sort of security system. Both Franklin and Trevor are able to gain unannounced access to the interior of the house without much effort. This also explains how Merryweather could easily infiltrate Michael's house later in the game.
    • The NOOSE base off Palomino Highway. It has security guards and electric gates, but no one will stop someone (even someone who looks like Trevor) from wandering in, climbing to the roof, and stealing the Buzzard attack chopper on the helipad.
  • Sympathy for the Devil:
    • While Trevor is a monster through and through, this happens to him several times over the course of the game. Two of the most heartbreaking are his betrayal by Franklin and Michael in one of the endings, sending him into a sobbing, raging mess, and his side-mission at the completion of the story where he hallucinates meeting his mother, and promptly breaks down into a sobbing fetal position when she disappears.
    • Despite being a violent lunatic, Trevor shows admirable care and defensiveness for those close to him, particularly Michael's family.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Franklin is constantly ridiculed by his friends for trying to find a more productive criminal career and move out of his shitty neighborhood, no matter how willing he is to still help them with their problems.
  • A Taste of Power: The prologue mission lets you play as Michael and Trevor equipped with Carbine Rifles, which you won't unlock again until after the first heist.
  • Tempting Fate: During the mission where you have to assassinate Javier Madrazo, Trevor tells Michael that the latter should come visit Sandy Shores ("Trevor Philips Country" as Michael calls it) sometimes. Michael refuses by saying that "he's good" with staying in Los Santos. Guess where he and Trevor end up holing up for a while after Trevor kidnaps Patricia Madrazo because of Martin refusing to pay him for the job.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: During Trevor's Mushroom Samba involving clowns, the Nightmare Music from Pee-wee's Big Adventure plays.
  • Title Drop: When switching to Trevor, one of his cutscenes will have him mention the crime of grand theft auto.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In just the first few story missions:
    • A guard that thinks making himself a witness to two vicious bank robbers with automatic weapons is a good way to stop the robbery.
    • A car dealer whose business is expressly pointed out to partially involve scamming drug dealers.
    • One gang member who thinks asking for a kidnapping ransom via modern cell phone is a good idea.
    • Another gang member who thinks being alone with several probably armed rival gang members he just set up is a good idea.
    • An allegedly experienced criminal who is unimpressed the local Mexican cartel boss has issued a kill-on-sight call for him.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Trevor manages to piss off a group of Triads at the beginning of his story after they screw each other out a few business deals. Later, the Triads kidnap Michael to get to Trevor, necessitating a rescue by Franklin.
  • Torture Always Works: Zigzagged in the mission "By The Book". Trevor is ordered to torture Mr. K on information to identify a target for the FIB. It works and he gives enough intel to identify the man. But later, when Trevor drives K to the airport, he discusses torture and questions it's effectiveness.
  • Timmy in a Well: Franklin is led to Dom Beasley, trapped in a tree, by a frantic and possibly imaginary dog.
  • Trash Landing: Michael is forced to escape from the coroner's office through a window in "Dead Man Walking", but thankfully there's a dumpster below to break his fall.
  • True Companions: Trevor feels that he, Brad, and Michael were this back when they were a team, and holds the concept of being loyal to your friends to the bitter end very highly. It's particularly why he and Michael's relationship is so strained now, as he feels the latter betrayed the friendship they had when Michael faked his own death and retired from the game.
  • Trunk Shot: One piece of artwork. The shot appears during the last mission in the game, if the player chose ending C.
  • Trust-Building Blunder: The "Children of the Mountain" website has one anecdote about this. This is what they have to say:
    When I attended that seminar and we did the thing where you are blindfolded and have to fall backwards and your teammates are supposed to catch you, I learned a lot - especially when they didn't catch me and I got a concussion and learned to never trust anyone, only myself.
  • Turbine Blender: During the mission where Solomon's movie is stolen, Michael, chasing Molly for the movie reel, pursues until she runs into the path of a jet engine, reducing her to chunky goo.
  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked in 'Meltdown'. To simulate the film being shot in front of a green screen, the film is recorded using GTA V's character models in front of GTA IV's lower quality Liberty City scenery.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay:
    • There are optional tow truck missions where you have to save a car that's stuck on train tracks. This is a pain in the ass because you need to drive in front of the car, lower the hook, and back up squarely until the hook is attached, and then drive away ASAP before the train hits it... Or you can just push the car out of the way with the tow truck first. This won't fail the mission, and it's a hell of a lot faster.
    • You can tow antagonizing vehicles, pretty much bringing any vehicular combat to an abrupt end.
    • A fast way to lose the cops is to switch vehicles or change clothes (without them seeing you do it). Even if you get spotted in their field of vision, they will ignore you. However, if they find your old car, they'll spot you no matter what you're driving.
    • Convenience store clerks will recognize you if you try to rob them more than once and sometimes will have the cops lying in wait for you... unless you wear a mask they haven't seen before.
    • Taking off or putting on a mask while out of sight will instantly drop a Wanted Level by one star.
    • In GTA IV, it was possible to survive falls from any height into a body of water. In GTA V the result of falling from a great (or even moderate) height into a body of water is the same as in real life - fatal.
    • The protagonists can be take damage (or, at least, see their armor decreased) in motor vehicle collisions (up to and including death). They can also be directly killed by gunfire while driving enclosed vehicles, which differs from most GTA games.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: While these were present in IV, they're much improved for V, allowing characters to additionally roll from cover to cover.
  • The Un-Reveal: You never do find out who (or what) Josh Bernstein's "wife" is since you end up killing him in your final mission with him after he turns on Trevor.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • At the end of "By the Book", the civilians standing around outside Los Santos International Airport don't even seem to notice the shirtless, badly battered and bloody man limping past them and falling down the stairs.
    • After Trevor brutally murders Floyd and his wife, he's covered in tons of blood, which Wade notices. This doesn't stop him from walking right through the Vanilla Unicorn strip club with nobody noticing at all.
  • Vandalism Backfire: This is what starts the first major conflict in the game. Michael and Franklin chase after a tennis instructor who was sleeping with Amanda. They find him in a house on stilts, and Michael uses a truck to tear it down. But it turns out he was just hiding there. The house actually belongs to a notorious criminal.
  • Vapor Trail: Players can do this in-game, strategically pouring the gasoline themselves.
  • Variable Mix: The mission-specific music tends to build up track by track the further in the mission you get.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: The reason Michael is captured by a Chinese triad near the end of bury the hatchet is because Trevor sabotaged his car.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Several times you may see a random pedestrian getting their wallet or car stolen. You can take the thief out and keep the stolen item for yourself, or you can actually return it to the victim. Even Evil Has Standards in this case, and yes, that does include Trevor, who'll even admit to being disgusted in a thief's pettiness if you do so.
    • The protagonists aren't always forced to be evil. As with previous games going on rampages or murdering numerous innocents is optional, and beyond the infamous torture scene, the game never forces the player to be unnecessarily sadistic and cruel to anyone regardless of gender, race, or occupation, despite media claims to the contrary.
    • With the next-gen update, conversations with Peds are more expansive. The player can offer polite greetings and friendly comments to pedestrians, even police, and many respond with equal kindness.
    • during the Cold-Blooded Torture sequence where you are offered all sorts of nasty methods to use on Ferdinand Kerimov, the least horrifying out of all the options which won't shock him with a car battery, lose a tooth or get his legs smashed in is waterboarding him. Just doing the latter has him in the best condition when Trevor convinces him to get out of the country.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There are story missions that give you the choice, or you can just run around town wreaking havoc on everyone unlucky enough to be near you. In-universe, Trevor seems to enjoy this more than anything, even firing off jokes whenever the player kills someone.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: In two of the endings, if you choose to kill either Michael or Trevor, "hanging out" will be much more difficult for you, since the survivor cuts off contact with Franklin, Michael's family does the same, and Lamar goes into hiding from Stretch. Even worse, certain "hanging out" activities are required, so if you don't remember to do them before you do the deed, 100% Completion is considerably harder to achieve.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In Ending C, Devin Weston. Once Trevor has him packed into the trunk of his car and is driving him to his certain death, Devin attempts to bribe Trevor into letting him live by offering him a position in his organization. Once it becomes obvious Trevor isn't buying it, Weston desperately screams for Trevor to let him out of the "fucking trunk." This ploy also fails.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene:
    • Many NPC's can be found roaming sunny Los Santos shirtless. The player doesn't unlock shirtless outfits until the postgame, unless you're playing as Trevor, where several switch scenes can open with him wearing nothing but his shoes and and underwear.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Possibly the only antagonistic force to make our sociopathic trio look good by comparison. The Merryweather Company ships classified nuclear superweapons through the port of Los Santos with very little security or oversight, and doesn't require any sort of government approval to act as as a personal army for its CEO. The public sector, on the other hand, isn't much better. The FIB and IAA compete to kidnap, torture, and assassinate any suspected Islamic terrorists (Read: Brown People) on American soil while turning a blind eye to much of the wanton chaos committed by the protagonists. The FIB even sic the protagonists on the IAA over budget disputes.
  • We All Live in America:
    • Trevor's first mission has him tracking the local chapter of The Lost biker gang. When you get close to their bar, Ron will will say "They're meant to be at this bar". "Meant to be" being an alternate way of saying "are" in the UK, where developer Rockstar North is based, but it's not a phrase you'd likely hear an American saying. "Supposed to be" is much more common.
    • On the Non Stop Pop station, the DJ at one point refer to the Turn of the Millennium as "The Noughties" which is a term used in the UK, Canada and Australia, but not much in America due to the word "nought" fading from American English, which means, to American ears, it sounds more like "The Naughties".
    • "Towards", "forwards" and "backwards" crop up in speech a lot, though Americans would normally omit the final "s" in each of these words.
    • Trevor quips that his final Bail Bonds target (who has a big white beard) looks like Father Christmas - better known in the States as Santa Claus.
    • Some redneck NPCs will shout "You bleedin' asshole!" when angered. "Bleeding" is a minced form of "bloody", which, in case it wasn't obvious, is a very British insult.
  • Wham Episode: "Did Somebody Say Yoga?" is one for Michael. His family gets pissed at him for various reasons, and they all move out.
  • Wham Line:
    • For fans of GTA Radio, this line regarding the host of Fame or Shame, who appears in person soon afterwards.
    Trevor: WHERE THE FUCK IS LAZLOW?!
    • During the start of the mission "Bury the Hatchet" after the previous heist setup mission, Trevor visits Michael's house to..... chat about old times. Things get a bit heated, and then out of nowhere, Trevor mentions this game changing line:
      Trevor: Let me..... Let me just ask you something. Alright? Something I've been, I've been thinking about. Up in North Yankton...... Exactly who was buried in your place?
    • For San Andreas players, as it signals the start of a mission that's one big Call-Back:
      Trevor: Where's this "thing" happening?
      Lamar: Down Grove Street.
  • Wham Shot: "Bury the Hatchet" has Trevor digging up the grave shown in the prologue, revealing that the actual person buried is Brad, the other guy that was shot.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • What became of Michael's boat? It's gone forever, but Michael can sometimes be found sitting at the dock where he previously kept it, either out of reminiscence or mourning. Besides, if the player have enough money, there's nothing stopping them from buying a new one on the in-game internet.
    • Unless you choose Ending C, Trevor's beef with the Chinese gang will go unresolved, as will Stretch's story. Option C resolves both of these issues, as well as giving a better ending to the FIB/Devin story.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • At the end of the game, when Franklin is given the choice to either off Michael or Trevor, both give Franklin a "What the heck?"-speech, although Michael is much more understandable, since he made Franklin go from being a simple repo-man to what he has become now. Trevor's more pissed about being betrayed once again by someone he trusts, especially when Michael shows up to help Franklin off him, although Michael reasons why Trevor should be killed.
    • In two of the endings: In Ending A, Michael berates Franklin for showing too much mercy to Trevor, but his criticism is brief. In Ending B, Trevor is furious that Franklin is going to kill his own mentor and father figure, betraying the only man that ever showed him respect; he severs his ties with Franklin from then on.
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: Franklin is introduced to a stranger, Michael, and is then introduced to Michael's old friend (for lack of a better word), Trevor. The mission "Hood Safari" also sees Lamar and Franklin (friends) teaming up with Trevor (who's just met Franklin, and is a stranger to Lamar).
  • With Friends Like These...:
    • Franklin's friends are shit. Lamar is even dumber (and more Trigger Happy) than Ryder, Stretch seems to think that doing jail time somehow gives him seniority (not to mention that he's actually in cahoots with the Ballas), and Tonya is a flirty washed-up crackhead who keeps cajoling Franklin into covering her even lamer boyfriend JB's tow truck shifts for no pay because the latter is in bed smoking. Of course, every time Franklin says he wants to do something more profitable and than this, they all sneer at him and say he's getting all uppity and acting like he's too good for them. Let's face it, he is.
    • The mutual relationship between Michael and Trevor: Michael sees Trevor as an Omnicidal Maniac, while Trevor sees Michael as a Dirty Coward.
  • The Worf Effect: Trevor effortlessly killing Johnny Klebitz, who was possibly the toughest GTA protagonist, and the former Liberty City Chapter of the Lost MC in his opening mission demonstrates exactly why he is The Dreaded.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Johnny's meth addiction has taken a visible toll on him both physically and mentally by the time his ill-fated confrontation with Trevor comes to pass. Most tellingly, he's unable to look at Trevor in the eye when confronted face to face.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: Played with. When Michael and Franklin carjack from a female driver, they are noticeably more gentle than they are with male drivers, but this does not stop the player from making either of them be violent towards women anyway. Averted by Trevor, who doesn't show the same chivalry.
  • You Are What You Hate: In "Paleto Score Setup", on the way to Paleto Bay, Michael deduces that Trevor is a hipster because of his lifestyle. Trevor, of course, angrily denies the allegations, and Michael responds that self-hatred is a "common hipster affliction".
  • You Can't Go Home Again: This is the final fate of Ferdinand Kerimov. Once his torture is over, Trevor brings him to the airport and urges him to get out of the country. Since the government expects him to be dead, Mr. K now has to disappear off the grid and leave his family behind.

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