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Video Game / Grand Theft Auto

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To get by in the criminal underworld, you'll always be dealing with these kinds of people.
"Take it to the edge, there's nowhere to hide
And call up the boys, let's go for a joyride!"
— Lyrics from the first game's Signature Song, "Grand Theft Auto" by Craig Conner

In 1997, when controversy was still running high over the "immoral" content of games such as Doom, Mortal Kombat, and Carmageddon, Scottish games studio DMA (of Lemmings fame) came out with a game to top them all. Called Grand Theft Auto, it allowed the player to take the role of a ruthless criminal working his way up the ladder of organised crime. The game offered an overhead view of a city, through which your character could walk or drive; the basic objective was to gain enough points — or rather, in the context of the game, earn enough money — to progress to the next level. The lowest-paying activity was damaging cars by fender-benders or by shooting them; more money was earned by stealing cars, destroying cars, and running down pedestrians; more still by selling the stolen cars down at the docks and by killing police officers.

The main source of income, though, was by accepting missions from a faceless, voiceless criminal boss, by either answering certain phones or getting into certain cars. It wasn't necessary to complete or even accept these missions (which could be done in whatever order the player wished), but doing so was worth a lot of money, and raised the amount of money the lesser activities were worth. The missions included such noble exploits as robberies, assassinations, drug-running, kidnappings, and blowing up buildings. All the while, the player had to keep from losing all his lives, as well as keeping out of the clutches of the police.

Ironically, the first game wasn't all that gruesome - simple blotches of red on the pavement marked your kills, and the detail regarding damage to your current car was not high. Still, the game was a massive success, almost entirely on the basis of the controversy it generated. This was deliberately contrived by the game's publishers: they hired the notorious tabloid publicist Max Clifford to create a furor in the media, which resulted in a huge demand for the game.

In 1999, two expansions were released: Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969 and Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961. Both were essentially the original game with somewhat different art design, a new setting (London in opposite ends of The '60s), and a batch of new missions. Also that year came Grand Theft Auto 2, which was almost the same as the original but set 20 Minutes into the Future, with the chance to save your game (at a steep cost), much improved graphics, and a finicky "Respect" system whereby you could strengthen your standing with one of three gangs by carrying out acts against the other two.

Grand Theft Auto III was an entirely different ball game. It's probably not a coincidence that DMA were now working on a new console and attached to a new publisher: the wealthy Rockstar Games division of Take Two Interactive. First and foremost, the overhead view was done away with, bringing the game into three dimensions instead and allowing for a LOT more gore. An overhead camera could be selected for those who liked the old way, but only in that particular game. Vice City and onwards did away with the option fully.

Also, an actual story was implemented, about a thug who escapes from a prison van, and plots revenge against his traitorous partner in crime/ex-girlfriend while establishing himself in the underworld of Liberty City. Voice actors were brought in for the first timenote  — including respected Hollywood character actors like Robert Loggia, Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Madsen, Debi Mazar, Joe Pantoliano, and Michael Rapaport. The number, variety, and complexity of the missions were raised. The radio stations started using licensed material (though most of the soundtrack was still made in-house) and send-ups of radio commercials and DJ chatter.

The game's success paved the way for a series of games which blurred the line between expansion pack and sequel. DMA, now wholly incorporated into Rockstar as "Rockstar North", came up with two more titles. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City moved the action to a cheery mockery of '80s Miami, introduced motorcycles, was the first entry where the lead character spoke (with the voice of Ray Liotta, no less), and the first to have a soundtrack fully composed of licensed music. After that came Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, set in early '90s California with a flavor that was less Goodfellas or Miami Vice and more Boyz n the Hood. It allowed the player jet aircraft and more than enough airspace to get the use out of them, as well as three cities (expies of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas) with vast, open countryside in between. It also cast Samuel L. Muthafukkin Jackson as the Big Bad. Meanwhile, Rockstar's other studios crafted Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (a prequel to GTA3) and Vice City Stories (a prequel to Vice City) for the PlayStation Portable, and Grand Theft Auto Advance (another GTA3 prequel in the original overhead style) for the Game Boy Advance.

The series' seventh-gen debut, Grand Theft Auto IV, reset the series' canon and went in a Darker and Edgier direction, and saw a return to Liberty City, now fully redesigned to look more like its inspiration. It was the first GTA since 2 to have online multiplayer, and it also had two DLC mission packs, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, made for it. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, set in the same canon, returned to overhead action for the Nintendo DS, the PSP, and Apple's iDevices.

Grand Theft Auto V was released on 17 September 2013, amassing over a billion dollars in sales over three days, over 8 billion dollars by 2023, and became the fastest selling entertainment blockbuster in history. Taking criticism of GTA IV's downer tone to heart, Grand Theft Auto V follows the story of three new villain protagonists fighting to better themselves in a cynical, morally bankrupt world in and around the city of Los Santos. In addition to many new activities and gameplay refinements, such as the ability to switch to other player characters instantly, the new Grand Theft Auto Online boasts an ever-expanding compliment of up to a thousand missions and other diversions.

After a decade of silence, with Rockstar almost exclusively focusing on Grand Theft Auto Online; December 4, 2023, marked the beginning of a new era for GTA—the day they finally released the highly anticipated trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI after announcing it on November 8, 2023. Set in the fictional state of Leonida (parodying Florida) in The New '20s, the story will revolve around a pair of thieves, Jason and Lucia, in a Bonnie and Clyde style. This installment is expected to be one of the most ambitious video games of the decade.

Compare to Driver, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, Saints Row, and The Simpsons Hit & Run. Also, there's Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire, both considered to be Spiritual Successors to the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

A Docudrama based on the franchise entitled The Gamechangers was produced by BBC in 2015, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Sam Houser.

Not to be confused with the Ron Howard movie of the same name.

Works within this series (details on games with their own pages) listed by Alternate Continuity:

2D era

3D era

HD era


This series has examples of the following tropes:

Note: If a trope only applies to a single game in the series, and that game has its own page (see above), then place it on that page. If the trope applies to the many radio stations, TV stations, internet websites, et cetera in the GTA universe, put it under GTA Radio.

    open/close all folders 
    Tropes #-A 
  • The '80s: In Vice City and VCS.
  • The '90s: The early '90s in San Andreas, and the late '90s in LCS.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: If you don't consider any player character a Villain Protagonist.
  • Absurd Brand Name: Almost 100% of the brand names are jokes. You have the Maibatsu Monstrosity SUV, TransFender auto body shop, and Give 'Em Boners pet food, among hundreds of others.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The mobile ports of the 3D Era games change the FBI to the FIB to match the HD Era. The FBI is still mentioned, and the FBI Car is still called that.
  • Affably Evil: Almost all main playable protagonists tend to qualify as this. At best they are anti villains and A Lighter Shade of Black at worst.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted in San Andreas with the Desert Eagle, AK-47, and TEC-9, and Vice City with the MAC-10, TEC-9, and MP5, (but NOT the M4, the model used in both games is a Colt Model 733) but played straight with every other weapon.
    • Played straight in the HD Universe games, which sees generic names applied to all weapons. The AK-47 is aptly named "Assault Rifle", while hilariously, the M4 is called "Carbine Rifle".
  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: The biker gangs in Vice City and Vice City Stories, and the Lost MC and the Angels of Death in IV.
  • Alternate Continuity: Every major graphical leap in the series marks the start of a new continuity, or "Universe".
    • 2D Universe: GTA 1, London 1961 and 1969, GTA 2
    • 3D Universe: GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas, Advance, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, Bully, Manhunt
    • HD Universe: GTA IV, The Lost and Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony, Chinatown Wars, GTA V & Online
  • Ambiguously Gay: Asuka and Maria in III are implied to be lesbian lovers. Likewise, in IV, it is suggested strongly that Elizabeta is a lesbian.
  • Anti-Hero: Just about every main character in every GTA game falls into this trope, along with plenty of side characters.
  • Anyone Can Die: If you’re the main protagonist, you’re guaranteed to canonically survive to at least the end of the game (they need to in order for the post-game to happen, after all) but everyone along the way, friend or foe, might want to take out a nice life insurance policy. And even then, protagonists might want to watch out when they’re in a game that chronologically comes after their own, as Vic Vance and Johnny Klebitz can attest to.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit
    • In the 3D incarnations in the series, cars with two doors but four seats can't be used to carry more than two people. The same goes for coach buses, semis, freight helicopters — you name it.
    • In GTA2, however, certain vehicles increase the amount one can bring along at one time. Buses could load over twenty passengers, vans could hold up to seven goons, and so on.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A minor character in the original GTA, Samuel Deever, was arrested for suspected cannibalism during a stakeout, urinating on a superior officer's desk, theft of impounded narcotics, malicious wounding of fellow officer on five separate counts, incestuous practices, sexual harassment, reporting for duty under the influence of alcohol, kidnapping, alleged sodomy of a superior officer and enjoying all of the Police Academy movies.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The civilian AI will attempt to dive out of the way should you try to run them over with a car, but most of the time, they will dive into your path, getting themselves killed and getting the cops pissed off if they happen to see the unintentional act.
  • Artistic License – Law: Oh, quite a bit of it. The most notable being that as you are driving down the streets causing many fender benders as you weave through traffic the police don't react or pull you over unless you actually hit their car. Evidently "Leaving the scene of an accident" isn't against the law in this universe, but the reason this is the case is that you would spend the entire game evading police for hit and run rather than playing. Also, the police don't seem that interested in you speeding excessively, running red lights, making illegal U-turns, or driving on the wrong side of the street. Or on the pavement.
  • Ascended Extra: GTA III's arms dealer Phil Cassidy and corrupt cop Leon McCaffrey in Vice City and Liberty City Stories respectively.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Cinematic Camera introduced in III and onwards lets you watch your vehicle you're driving in the most cinematic way as if you're on TV or in a Movie, however you can't see the roads and obstacles ahead of you or blocks your view from buildings and trees, resulting in humiliating moments by your own actions. It's either awesome or risky when you are giving cops or enemies a chase particularly if you're being surrounded.

    Tropes B 
  • Bad Humor Truck: Mr. Whoopee. Toggle the jingle by honking the horn!
    • The truck debuted in GTA2 as a means of luring out the asylum inmates, and as targets in the bonus mission. It appeared in GTA III in the same capacity, except overweight mobsters are lured to their deaths this time around.
    • It doesn't appear in GTA IV, but Mr. Tasty takes it's place.
    • A running gag in Vice City is Tommy's inability to run a legal business, even if it's frozen yogurt. When you buy the Cherry Popper factory, it turns to be owned by a crazy old woman who hates children, and the ice cream trucks sell drugs instead. It's also impossible to sell ice cream to kids, even if you wanted to, considering there are no kids in the game.
  • Ballistic Discount: Subverted. You can kill the gun shop owners after doing business with them but you won't be able to get your money back or raid their shelves — and that's assuming you can kill them without getting blasted by them first (as well as their friends popping out of the back room in IV).
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: III and Vice City have pistols that make a loud "BANG!" when fired, though later games downplayed this by having the pistol make a higher-pitched "pop" sound when fired instead. Hand Cannons, such as the Python in Vice City and the Desert Eagle in IV, play it relatively straight.
  • Bank Robbery: Occurs in every game since III. The prologue of III is set up by a bank robbery gone bad, and you act as a getaway driver for the Mafia after one in a mission. Vice City has a major one, as the culmination of a lengthy questline. San Andreas has CJ committing a string of robberies with Catalina, one of which is in a bank, as well as robbing a casino in a Shout-Out to Ocean's Eleven. IV has the iconic Heat-esque Bank of Liberty heist.
    • Plays a big part in V, where the player can make a number of decisions about carrying out the job and split the workload between any of the three playable characters as is demanded by swapping between them freely.
  • Big Bad: They pop up regulary in the games.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The Mafia has been reduced to this level in the latest sequels, particularly in GTA IV and GTA V. They are no match for The Cartel, let alone Merryweather and the corrupt forces
  • The Big Rotten Apple: Various incarnations of Liberty City, first visited in the original title and recurring twice since then. GTA3 proudly proclaimed it "the worst city in America", and its sister city is Beirut.
    • IV toned it down somewhat, given that it's based more on the "cleaned-up" New York of Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg rather than the Wretched Hive that it was in The '70s. Of course, this means that this trope has been replaced with stereotypes of modern New York, such as the city's gentrification into The Theme Park Version of itself, its "nanny state" attitude to things like guns and junk food, and its post-9/11 police presence. Case in point: the Statue of Liberty's stand-in is a monument to "Happiness", i.e. crass commercialism.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The good guys tend to be criminals and the bad guys tend to be even worse criminals.
  • Black Comedy: A sizable chunk of the game's humor is either this or social satire. Seeing both together can be quite jarring.
  • Bland-Name Product: Besides vehicles (see Fauxrrari below), most of the brands in-game are fictional, and satirical to boot, sometimes with lewd connotations as well.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Played straight for much of the series.
  • Brand X: Played for laughs — in keeping with the game's satirical tone, there are parodies of just about every consumer product in America, from fast food to sneakers to friending networks, and almost all of them have Double Entendre names. To list them all would require a separate page, since they number in the hundreds.
  • Brick Joke: One that stretches between games. In III on Flackback FM when Toni is leading out the song "She's On Fire", she says she's done a lot of crazy things but she's never been literally on fire. Then in Vice City she mentions that she actually did set herself on fire once, by accident — she was dancing with a lighter in her hand and a head full of hairspray.
  • Broken Bridge: Played straight in almost every game between III and IV. In the original GTA you can jump the Broken Bridge in a Ferrari Itali. And indeed, in III, the bridges to Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale are literally broken.
    • CJ is warned not to exit Los Santos at the start of San Andreas, or else Tenpenny makes good on his threat to pin a cop's murder on him. Realistically, this only results in a maximum wanted level and an unavoidable trip back to Los Santos. CJ is only allowed to leave when Tenpenny changes his mind, tosses a bag over CJ's head, and kicks him out of Los Santos. Las Venturas, however, is unreachable due to an earthquake which has shut down San Fierro's bridges.
    • In keeping with GTA's tradition of rewarding cheats, you can access the entire San Andreas map early; just hop the airport fence and steal a Shamal (CJ isn't rewarded with access to planes until much later in the game), or drive a train in reverse until you are out of the city, then wipe your wanted level.
    • Finally averted in V, where the entire map is opened at the beginning of the game and there are no convenient bridges or invisible walls blocking Los Santos off from the countryside.
      • Although a later event in the game creates a broken bridge until it is resolved, in which Trevor kidnaps Martin Madrazo's wife, causing him and Michael to be restricted to Blaine County under threat that he will send his goons to kill either one of them when one enters Los Santos.
  • Bulletproof Vest: In every game, these act as basically a second health bar when you pick them up. Big Smoke also wears one when you fight him at the end of San Andreas, as does either Dimitri or Jimmy Pegorino (depending on which ending you chose) at the end of IV.

    Tropes C 
  • Camera Centering: A side effect of using the side view buttons while driving.
  • Camera Lock-On: All the 3D games.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Advance. Neither its characters nor plotline are referenced in the rest of the series (although Asuka from III does make an appearance), and many fans either deny its existence or do not even know it exists.
  • Canon Welding: Two other Rockstar games, Bully and Manhunt are set in the same continuity as the 3D Universe. Locations from both games also exist in the HD Universe.
  • Captain Crash: It's surprising how many cab rides in IV end up knocking a light pole over as they drop you off.
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out: Utilized in several missions, with either the player character or a NPC companion taking aim at other vehicles during a chase. From IV onwards, this can also occur during any free-roam police chase, as the cops will open fire from their vehicles at higher wanted levels and the player can respond in kind.
  • Cardboard Prison: When you are arrested, you are simply taken to the police station, stripped of your weapons, and charged with a fine (a hundred dollars in past games, and ten percent of your cash in IV).
  • Car Fu: One of the most effective ways to finish some of the missions is to just run the fool over.
  • Chainsaw Good: The chainsaw in Vice City is a one-hit kill weapon, limited only by the fact that the player can't run while wielding it. The chainsaw in San Andreas is slightly less powerful, but still incredibly deadly. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars gets rid of the speed limitation, making for maximum "split tiny tiny people in half" carnage.
  • Church of Happyology: The Epsilon Program, first referenced in San Andreas.
  • City of Adventure: Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas. And Anytown, USA.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Particularly San Andreas, which is justified in that it helped the "gangbanger" theme. III and Vice City had surprisingly little use of the F word, which is especially surprising for the latter given the film it was based on.
    • The uncensored version of the first game also had this, with Bubby (your boss on the first two chapters) and Deever (on "Bent Cop Blues) being the worst offenders. Other bosses are actually quite calm and clean with their language.
    • Ditto for IV as well.
    • V really pushes this, with 1018 uses of the F word in the story missions alone.
  • The Colored Cross:
    • From II until Vice City Stories, first aid kits were portrayed as red hearts that are occasionally placed within a circle. One exception is the Advance version where the kits are barely visible red crosses.
    • The First Aid kits found in IV and V are green with a white cross on the side.
  • Combat Cue Stick: A pool cue is available as a melee weapon in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, and Grand Theft Auto V's Online Mode.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: The radio and television shows and in-game websites all depict the GTA world as an over-the-top whacky Crapsaccharine World to rival the likes of Futurama and South Park. This is rather jarring when compared to the (relatively) realistic behavior and human motivations of the characters you actually interact with in the game's cutscenes and storyline, at least in the later games in the series (San Andreas and GTA IV in particular).
  • Compilation Re-release:
    • The 2D-era games received a compilation re-release via Grand Theft Auto: The Classics Collection in 2004, bundling a Windows port of Grand Theft Auto 1, 2, and the London 1961 expansion for GTA1.
    • The 3D-era games received a Double Pack in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox that comes with III and Vice City together. This was later followed by Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy collection which also included San Andreas in 2005 for the Xbox, 2006 for the PlayStation 2, 2009 for Windows, and 2010 for Macintosh. The side-games, Vice City Stories and Liberty City Stories later received a double pack of respective their PlayStation 2 port in 2009.
    • Episodes from Liberty City was bundled with other Rockstar titles in 2012 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as Rockstar Games Collection: Edition 1, along with L.A. Noire, Red Dead Redemption, and Midnight Club: Los Angeles.
  • Continuity Nod: Tons. Some of the radio DJs alone have their own stories spanning multiple games.
  • Conveniently Empty Roads: Downplayed during certain missions in the series. In order to allow scripted events to play out more smoothly, there is typically less traffic on the road during most missions than there is on those same roads during free roam. While helpful during the driving sequences, this can actually be a hindrance if the mission later calls for, for example, stealing a car to escape the authorities.
  • Cool Car: Several varieties in all games, just waiting to be stolen.
  • Cool Plane: The aircraft in the games are just as cool as the cars.
  • Cop Killer: Depending on your wanted level, you could have a legion of cops (with SWAT and even the military) chasing you down. Of course, you have the option to fight them all with no restraints.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Zaibatsu Corporation in GTA2, Donald Love in III and Liberty City Stories, Avery Carrington in Vice City, and Devin Weston in V.
  • Corrupt Politician: GTA loves to give us senators who dress up in women's clothing and have kinky sex, get caught on film, then murder their way out of scandal.
  • Crapsack World: In all the cities where the franchise takes place, organized crime and corruption is rampant. It's not very different from the reality of some of the most corrupt cities in the world though.
  • Creator's Culture Carryover:
    • III and LCS have The Yardies existing in the New York pastiche of Liberty City, despite being a primarily British criminal trope.
    • The games have signs reading "Maximum headroom X meters", while the American phrasing would be "Maximum clearance".
    • In V, the pop music station Non Stop Pop FM features tracks by Mis-Teeq, N Joi, Modjo, and All Saints, all of whom were successful in the UK but fairly unknown in the US, despite the station being based in a pastiche of Los Angeles.
    • The first Updated Re-release for V updated the traffic to include cars from the first year of Online updates. This includes the Pigalle, which is based on the Citroën SM which was mostly sold outside America, has a Europe-styled plate, and yet is extremely common to find on the streets of Los Santos.
  • Crew of One: Tanks.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Generally, it doesn't matter who starts a gunfight - if the cops see you shooting someone, they will always start blasting you. Various possible justifications include the protagonists not excercising their legal duty to retreat (the Liberty City protagonists), the police being corrupt and in cahoots with the hostile gangs (San Andreas), or just plain not being able to tell on the spot who started it and deciding to shoot first and ask questions later.
  • Crooks Are Better Armed: When you start out, the guns you have are laughable compared to the police (and in some games, getting in a cop car gets you a shotgun and ammo). Some missions are directly set up so there's an in-story reason to get more powerful weapons. By the end of the game, though, you have more bullets than there are enemies.

    Tropes D-E 
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Oh yes it does. However, IV deconstructs this, while Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars averts this trope altogether.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The games have different control schemes depending on the system. IV makes it even worse with the change in the driving system.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tommy Vercetti in Vice City, Niko Bellic in IV and Huang Lee in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: See Cardboard Prison, but replace "arrested" with "killed", and "police station" with "hospital" and the loss of your weapons. Except in IV, where that doesn't happen.
  • Defeat Means Respect: This is a fairly regular trope, particularly in Vice City, where you set up a crew by proving you're better than each of your specialists in their specialty.
  • Denser and Wackier: Zig-zagged throughout the series. It began as a rather subdued criminal to-power story in the 2D games and III, with an 80's soundtrack and more complex plots in Vice City; but really took off in San Andreas with crazy conspiracy theories all over, raiding an Area 51 expy with a freaking jetpack to boot, RC planes being used (albeit quite poorly), a heist on a full-blown casino; and even more. IV on the other hand went for a more realistic and darker path, but V takes things to back to a wackier state with more conspiracy theories with Bigfoot and aliens becoming realized, complex plots of heists; among more madness!
  • Depraved Bisexual: Asuka, from Grand Theft Auto III.
    "Oh, Asuka, you have a massager."
    "That's not a massager."
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The "Rhino boost" from the 3D era gamesnote  allowed you to get a speed boost while driving the Rhino tank by turning the turret around so it faced behind you, then firing it and allowing the recoil to propel you forward (similar to a Rocket Jump). This turned the Rhino from one of the slowest vehicles in the game to one of the fastest... which, when compounded with its already terrible handling, made it nearly impossible to control. But damn if it isn't awesome propelling the Nigh-Invulnerable wrecking ball that is the Rhino straight into traffic at a speed to rival the Infernus using the power of a tank cannon. This is especially true in Vice City and VCS, where the long boulevards mean you can cross half the map doing this.
  • Dirty Cop: Implied to be, at it's very least, a high percentage of the cops in the series.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: There are quite a few of these in the series.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: And how. Provided the cops don't witness it, you can kill prostitutes after requesting their services without recourse and get your money back in the process.
  • The Don: Salvatore Leone from III, Sonny Forelli from Vice City, and Jimmy Pegorino from IV, to name a few.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Good luck getting from one side of town to the other without driving like that. You may be polite the first couple times, but on your umpteenth attempt of a tough mission where you have to drive all the way back to the start point to try again, and you've gotten really angry... well, let's just say the title will fit more and more.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Played surprisingly straight, most of the time. Drugs are shown to turn people into hollow, emotionally broken wrecks and lead to their relationships and power falling apart. Weed, however, does generally gets a pass, though it's often shown being smoked by losers and burnouts. Not to mention that the darkest and easily most batshit insane protagonist in the series, Trevor Philips, is shown to be a major meth supplier, and one of the more heroic, CJ, is shown to be working to get it off of the streets. (Though, this is averted to an extent with Chinatown Wars, where drug dealing is a major component of the game and its protagonist is still depicted as fairly sympathetic)
  • Drugs Causing Slow-Motion:
    • In Grand Theft Auto III, the player can find "adrenaline pills" that briefly slow down time and give the player a form of "super strength" when they attack anyone while unarmed.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the player can find these same "adrenaline pills" imparting the same effect.
  • Drunk Driver:
    • In IV, you can get drunk at a bar with a friend. The screen gets very blurry, and you swerve all over the road. If the cops see you, they start chasing you.
    • In Vice City, Tommy Vercetti has to drive Phil Cassidy to the hospital after a boomshine accident. Problem is, Tommy is messed up from merely smelling the boomshine, and the cops think he's drunk (which he is). And the screen gets all blurry and the car hard to control.
    • San Andreas did something similar with the last of The Truth's first set of missions, though it's not "drunk" so much as it is "high from the marijuana field you just torched," and the effects aren't as severe as in the Vice City example.
    • Vice City Stories has "Purple Haze", where Vic gets knocked unconscious, falls face-first into a pile of cocaine, wakes up a few minutes later having inhaled a fair amount of it, and has to carry out the rest of the mission (retrieving a stolen van full of drugs) while coked out of his head. The effect is pretty much the same as the drunk effect from previous games, except a purple tint is also applied to the screen.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Rather obvious in III.
    • Returns to some degree in IV.
  • Dumbass DJ: Pretty much all of them.
  • Eagleland: The setting of every GTA game, with the exception of the London expansions for the original. Played as Type 2, without exception.
    Mike Toreno: I'll be a nice guy and I'll lose! And then what'll we have? Communism in Ohio! People sharing! Nobody buying stuff! That kind of bullshit.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first two games were 2D, played from an overhead camera.
    • Also, the box art showing multiple images in a sort of "mosaic", from which the series is famous for, appeared for the first time in GTA III. The box art in previous games consisted in just one single image.
    • The first game was brutally Nintendo Hard due to you being a One-Hit-Point Wonder and having limited lives while armor only protected you from three bullets.
    • The first game is the only one you could also choose the character you want to play between a few avaliable and also change their names, instead of having the protagonist fixed to the plot. Also, there was women between the possible protagonists, making it the only game in the franchise which can have a female protagonist (if you don't count GTA Online). However, those choices don't affect the gameplay whatsoever.
    • GTA: London 1969, the Expansion Pack for the first game, is the only one to be set in a real-world city rather than a fictionalized version of one.
    • GTA 2 is probably the weirdest of them all. It is, to date, the only GTA game set in the future, specifically a zeerust-y Retro Universe that combined '50s-styled cars ("as if Havana got transported to the 21st Century", as the game's website describes it) with the aesthetics of '70s/'80s cyberpunk and dystopian sci-fi movies. On a gameplay level, it had a "respect" system where, instead of a linear story path, you could choose to do missions for one of the three gangs in each district in order to build your reputation with them, at the expense of your reputation with their rivals — a mechanic that no other GTA game followed up on. Andy Kelly, writing for PC Gamer, noted that, whereas later games (especially from Vice City onward) each had a very unified aesthetic from the art design to the music, GTA 2 was far more offbeat, disjointed, and anarchic in its presentation.
    • GTA III still had many mechanics as a leftover from GTA 2 which were dropped in Vice City. For example, many of its collectibles (hidden packages, weapons, etc) were only available through jumping to high locations (in 2, the 2D view came with a lot of platforming), as opposed to the rest of the 3D-era games, where they're usually found in secluded places and corners, or occasionally through a car jump or aircraft. The overhead camera is also available as an option, the last game in which it would be so.
    • The games up through Vice City (and the later Stories games) had "Rampages" giving you a free weapon and X time to destroy X cars/people. These were dropped in San Andreas and IV, though V brought them back as side-missions for Trevor, fewer in number but with introductory cutscenes and commentary on Trevor's part.
    • In the early 3D Universe titles, San Andreas is mentioned and treated as though it were a single city (like in the original GTA, where it was a San Francisco expy). It wasn't until Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that San Andreas became an entire state.
  • Earth Drift: Occurred over the course of the III era. Grand Theft Auto III had a reference to the city of Miami and to the then-newly elected president George W. Bush; later installments had almost no real life persons (barring figures like Ronald Reagan that are intrinsically tied to the setting, and Phil Collins' cameo in Vice City Stories), and Miami was replaced with Vice City in the next game. Then Grand Theft Auto IV comes out, which does away with even more real-life stuff — the FBI is renamed as the FIB, SWAT is replaced with NOOSE (which is also based on the Department of Homeland Security), all guns are A.K.A.-47 now, and the president in 2008 was Joe Lawton, who is stated to be a buffoon and whose father was also president several decades prior.
  • Easter Egg: A huge amount.
  • Emergency Services: The "Firefighter", "Vigilante", and "Paramedic" missions can all be played by driving a firetruck, police vehicle, or ambulance respectively.
  • Escape Convenient Boat: Many, though the boats are rarely actually all that convenient. IV, however, plays this straight a couple of times.
  • Equal-Opportunity Offender: Starting with the third game, each installment mocks the sad state of society, the sad state of people who refuse to take part in society, minorities, white people, gay people, straight people, transpeople, feminists, misogynists, you, game developers, religion, atheists, cults, the military, the government, those against the government, foreign art, and old people. It's like Bret Easton Ellis and Todd Solondz teamed up with MAD and Charlie Brooker to make gangster flicks.
  • Eternal Equinox: Evert real-life second is 1 in-game minute and night/day cycles are always the same length.
  • Event-Driven Clock: Averted. Time and weather change and march on regardless of progress. You can have the same mission twice, once at night in heavy fog, and another at noon in full sunlight. This can even make missions harder: try flying a plane (San Andreas) in a sandstorm. At night.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Before IV, cars that took enough damage would start flaming and explode within a few seconds. In Vice City and San Andreas, this could even happen if you stomped on the roof long enough. Somewhat averted in IV, where, after enough damage, the car's engine will die. They'll still explode given enough extra rounds though.
  • Everything is Big in Texas: Real estate mogul Avery Carrington is a stereotypical Texan, right down to the cowboy hat.
  • Everything's Built With LEGO: Grand Theft Auto: Lego City.
  • Excuse Me, Coming Through!: All of them have this in some fashion.

    Tropes F-I 
  • Face–Heel Turn: Nearly every game has at least one.
  • Fake Band: They take up most of the radio airtime on I and II but get less prominent as the series progresses, consigned to two stations in III and LCS, and just four bands in Vice City though one of them plays a part in the storyline. Some of these bands make cameos in IV and V, chiefly as in-game CD props or ringtones.
  • Fantasy Landmark Equivalent: The franchise has a parody of the Statue of Liberty called the Statue of Happiness that holds a coffee cup instead of a torch, and in Grand Theft Auto IV, the face appears to be modeled after Hillary Clinton.
  • Fast-Food Nation: In the series, most of the places you can get food are fast food places, hot dog vendors, or food trucks. (This makes sense as most players probably don't want to take a break from unfettered chaos for a fancy meal at a fancy restaurant.) The only exceptions to this are when the player is on a date or out with friends, then a diner or fancy restaurant is an option.
  • Fauxrrari: Given the violent nature of the game, it would be unlikely for real-world automobile companies to grant licences to Rockstar for use in GTA, so fictional substitutes such as the "Huntley", a parody of the Land Rover Discovery in San Andreas, to name one, make up for the lack of actual marques. Naturally, some of the most common mods for the games are those that replace the vehicles with their real-life counterparts.
  • Fictional Province:
    • Liberty City (the game's stand-in for New York City) is in the fictional state of Liberty.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V take place in the fictional state of San Andreas. GTAV also introduces the fictional state of North Yankton and a town called Ludendorff within it.
  • Free Rotating Camera: Standard since San Andreas.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: A lot of the protagonists, particularly in the III-era games start out as small time thugs but end up becoming some of the most notorious crime lords in their respective cities
  • Gaiden Game: GTA Advance, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, without a doubt.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: GTA2 was the only game to avert this. There, if you killed members of a particular gang while free roaming, your respect with them will go down, and eventually they will stop giving you missions and start shooting you on sight. In every other game, you can kill a hundred members of a gang, and then take a mission from them five seconds later.
  • Gangbangers: While your archetypical 'bangers are present, organized crime isn't treated as particularly different. As such, Claude and Niko are the only protagonists not affiliated with any one gang throughout their game.
  • Gangland Drive-By: In the games from the 3D-era on, the player can dispatch opponents by firing their gun from their car, and in San Andreas, CJ can recruit friendly gangsters to act as gunmen.
  • Gangsterland: Every game in this series is pretty much the embodiment of this trope.
  • Gatling Good: The minigun in Vice City, San Andreas, and Chinatown Wars.
  • Gigantic Moon: In the 3D era games, there's an Easter Egg where, if you shoot the moon with a sniper rifle, it grows larger and larger until, after 5-6 shots, it reverts to its normal size.
  • A Girl in Every Port: Some protagonists have the ability to acquire multiple girlfriends throughout that game's city or state.
  • Guns Akimbo: In San Andreas, you can dual wield the standard pistol (although not the Desert Eagle or silenced variant), the sawed-off shotgun, and the standard sub-machine guns (but not the MP5) after you max out your skill with each respective weapon. Also appears in Chinatown Wars and GTA2 with the dual pistols.
  • Hammerspace: This is where the protagonists store their arsenals. Slightly resized since Vice City, and IV puts limits on how much ammo you can carry. Niko Bellic is still able to pull helmets out of hammerspace every time he climbs onto a motorbike, however.
  • Hammerspace Police Force
  • Hate Sink: Has its own page.
  • Hellish L.A.: Los Santos in San Andreas and V is an exaggerated parody of the city and its culture.
  • Heroic Mime: Claude (unnamed until San Andreas — and an actual mute). He is also believed to be the protagonist in GTA2, thus making his full name Claude Speed.
  • Hide Your Children: For obvious reasons, children under the age of 18 are very few and far between in the GTA games, only showing up as story characters (like Louise's infant daughter in Vice City Stories and Tracey in V) — and even then, they're rare. This is also a recommendation for when you're playing the game.
    • There were meant to be children and even school buses in GTA III, but they were dropped when the production was delayed after 9/11.
  • Hollywood California: The state of San Andreas, with some Nevada mixed in for good measure.
  • Hookers and Blow: A frequent feature of the series.
    • Deconstructed in V, however. The wealthy and affluent Michael is living a pretty clean life in Rockford Hills, while his dingy and strung-out partner Trevor is a drug addict living out of a dilapidated trailer in the middle of nowhere.
  • Hot Pursuit: The police can start hunting you down for simple misdemeanors such as tapping the side of one of their patrol cars while driving, which can turn into a full-blown chase if you escalate in kind.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: See Hammerspace.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: The cover for each game from III onwards (discounting IV's expansions) has been a collage of various characters and scenes from each game, drawn in a comic-book style. Typical features include a helicopter in the top-left corner (Chinatown Wars excluded) and a Ms. Fanservice woman who, more often than not, doesn't appear in-game.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Since 2, the FBI gets sent in at 5 wanted stars; this is usually the death knell (at least on land). Later sequels gave the FBI hulking (and fast) black SUVs, which means you can't even evade them.
    • Even the sky won't protect you; in San Andreas, the air force gets called in.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Donald Love is discovered to be one in Liberty City Stories. In GTA2, you get to gather a bus full of "ingredients" and drop them off at the hot dog factory for the Russian Mafia. Trevor is also known to eat some of his unfortunate victims.
  • Inspired by…: In more than one of the games, you get a mission where you drive an ice cream van. It's hinted at that these are fronts for drug dealing. Older readers in Scotland will remember the Ice Cream Wars.
  • Instant Emergency Response: A recurring element of the series. The police can descend on your position mere seconds after you obtain a wanted level, and paramedics and firefighters tend to arrive at the location of a murdered pedestrian or fire in a similarly punctual manner. In IV onwards, you can use your phone to call 911 and summon the emergency service of your choosing, even in the absence of an actual emergency, and they'll likewise pull up not too long after you finish the call.
  • Instant Gravestone: Later games (third game onwards) have a variation. Bodies will eventually fade away and be replaced by a Chalk Outline (irrespective of whether the police have arrived at the scene or not).
  • In-Universe Game Clock: At a rate of one minute per second in the GTA III canon games, and at one minute per two seconds in IV.
  • It's Always Spring: Justified in Vice City by virtue of the fact that Miami is actually like this. Not so much in III though...
    • San Andreas is a particularly egregious example. One mission has CJ going to Liberty City, where we see snow on the groundnote , implying that it's winter at the time of this mission. Yet when he returns home, there's no snow anywhere, not even atop the state's highest mountain.
    • Averted in IV, which takes place in October. All the clothes in the game are long-sleeved (mostly jackets and coats), the leaves on the trees have already turned, and there are times where you can see the characters' breath. A specific quote in The Ballad of Gay Tony puts the events of the games after October 3rd.
  • It's Up to You: Subverted in games where you have a gang, who will happily take down anyone that they see attacking you. Played straight in missions, though. This is especially glaring in the bank robbery mission in Vice City, for which you need to recruit a gunman, a safecracker, and a driver. None of whom perform their roles and require the player to do them.

    Tropes J-M 
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Zaibatsu is a recurring name in the series, which is kind of like an American company naming itself "NGO".
    • In GTA2, they were given a cyberpunk MegaCorp flair befitting the game's 20 Minutes into the Future setting. The Zaibatsu Corporation were the de facto rulers of Anywhere City, controlling everything from the army to its power resources.
    • Although Zaibatsu has easter eggs in GTA 3, the 3D-era games introduced Maibatsu (which also works as a portmanteau of Mitsubishi and Daihatsu) and used them to parody real-life fears of this trope. In Vice City, they are starting to put a crimp on the US economy, with radio adverts from the Buy American Coalition guilt-tripping people for purchasing "cheaper, more efficient" Maibatsu cars instead of shoddier American-made ones. III poked fun at oversized SUVs with the Maibatsu Monstrosity, a small monster truck marketed toward insecure, middle-aged men and soccer moms who misplace their cars in parking lots.
  • Just a Gangster: GTA has a running conflict between gangsters who broaden their horizons and go into other areas, and those who want to stick to what they're good at:
    • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has Tommy Vercetti, who was a mob hitman who wants to make a transition into legitimate business, while his mob bosses back in Liberty City wanted him to remain as a gangster. Lance Vance is likewise not as competent in civilian endeavors, so they turn on Tommy and Tommy ends up killing them both. In the Playable Epilogue, he is both a drug lord and a business owner, though we never quite learn if he ever went completely legit.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has CJ fleeing the 'Hood of Los Santos to carjacking in Liberty City, and comes to be regarded as a Prodigal Hero by the Grove Street Families, who have decayed even more after his departure. CJ sees no hope in the old community-oriented gang represented by his elder brother Sweet, because they don't make enough money and can't compete with the drug dealing Ballas gangs, but Sweet is unwilling or incapable to do anything else. His friends Big Smoke and Ryder also agree, but they betray Sweet and CJ and go into the drug business, leaving Sweet imprisoned and CJ forced by the Big Bad and circumstances to work as a freelance mercenary doing jobs for the Triads, the US Government, and eventually becoming a legitimate entertainment mogul with business interests across the state. Indeed, when he reunites with Sweet, he brings up his legitimate success as Madd Dogg's manager and as a stakeholder in a Las Venturas casino, but Sweet insists that they deal with the Hood first. So CJ, out of love for Sweet, returns to his gangster ways to reclaim the hood, purge the Ballas and restore Sweet and the Grove Street Families, and at the end "fixing to hit the block, and see what's up."
    • Grand Theft Auto IV and its two expansion pack also explores it. Niko Bellic laments that it's unlikely he'll ever be anything more than a hitman and thug, since it's all he's ever known. In The Ballad of Gay Tony, Luis actually likes being a club manager and dislikes doing gangster work, even if he is good at it. The most tragic case is The Lost and Damned. The Lost MC club are stuck in a timewarp of '50s and '60s biker tropes, and are little more than hired thugs for other gangs while the Angels of Death have managed to build a legitimate criminal empire. The one time Johnny Klebitz tries to fix things, he ends up destroying the club, and from what we see of them in Grand Theft Auto V, they've gone nowhere but down since then.
    • Grand Theft Auto V has Michael, who is an ex-gangster bored by Stepford Suburbia, and Franklin, a gang banger who, like CJ, wants to move up the crime ladder and work for bigger scores. Trevor, however, is entirely comfortable being a gangster, and wouldn't dream of being anything else.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: In Vice City and San Andreas, the katana is one of the best melee weapons, as it's a one-hit kill most of the time. One mission in San Andreas ends with CJ dueling a mob boss on a cargo ship with katana. Or you could just shoot him.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: The covers for most games typically feature, as part of their Idiosyncratic Cover Art, a Ms. Fanservice woman who often does not actually appear in-game.
    • Averted in III, where the woman in the upper-right square on the cover is Misty, a supporting character in the game's first chapter.
    • Vice City and San Andreas play it fully straight, however. Vice City's cover has, on the left side, an Ambiguously Brown bikini babe holding a martini glass, while in roughly the same spot on San Andreas' cover is a bleached-blonde woman in sunglasses leaning over and licking her lips. While the latter doesn't appear in her game, the former features a bartender and a stripper that strongly resemble the bikini babe. Either way, both do not contribute to the story.
    • In Chinatown Wars, the woman on the cover holding a sword is named Ling Shan, and she appears in two missions. She just dies almost immediately in the second one.
    • IV has the lollipop girl. While she doesn't appear in-game, she does get a name, Lola Del Rio, that can be looked up in the LCPD database.
    • The Lost and Damned has an anonymous Badass Biker girl situated to the right of Johnny.
    • V keeps the tradition with the smartphone-and-peace-sign bikini girl.
  • Land Down Under: A Running Gag in the series, starting with III, is a fictional war between the US and Australia, which the US won handily. Radio ads for the AmmuNation gun store, for example, mention weapons "from when we whooped Australia's ass!" This could be seen as a Take That! against Australia's overzealous Media Watchdogs, although the gag dates back to before the Australians earned their reputation for video game censorship.
  • Law of Cartographical Elegance:
    • In the Grand Theft Auto III-era games, Liberty City consists of 2 islands and a peninsula with mountains separating it from mainland, Vice City is made of 2 long, parallel islands, and the state of San Andreas is pretty much a huge, neatly formed square of land. Out in the middle of nowhere, too - try flying just straight north/west/south/east. You'll run out of attention span (and maybe trigger a few glitches) before hitting a barrier.
    • In the Grand Theft Auto IV games, Liberty City is three large islands and several smaller ones, all of which fit roughly in a large square. The ocean around them seems to stretch out forever in all directions.
    • In Grand Theft Auto V, Los Santos and Blaine County consist of one large lozenge-shaped island surrounded by endless waters extending for miles.
  • Lemming Cops: The police can be extremely reckless when it comes to chasing down the player, they'll drive off cliffs, on the wrong side of the highway, and through crowds of people just to get closer to the players car. Ambulances can also act like this, often running over multiple people just to get to one corpse.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • In III, Claude wears only two outfits — a prison uniform (which he only wears in the first mission, or after you enter the proper cheat code), and a black leather jacket with olive drab cargo pants. In later games, the player character has a wide variety of outfits, but most other characters still wear the same outfit whenever you see them.
    • The cutscenes in Vice City seem to assume that you are always wearing the default outfit. For example, the first time you meet Big Mitch Baker he tells you "You don't look like the law, so that's bought you a minute," even if you are wearing the police uniform. The exceptions are the boat yard purchase cutscene and the final cutscene, which assume you're wearing the Mr. Vercetti suit.
      Ken Rosenberg: It looks like you ruined your suit! And Tommy, that was a beautiful suit!
    • Averted even more in the fifth installment, where the main characters aren't the only ones with multiple outfits.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: The series in general, with its trademark Wide-Open Sandbox gameplay, falls into this. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the biggest offender in this regard, as the story missions only count for a very limited percentage for the 100% Completion.
  • LOL, 69: The series loves this number. A comprehensive list of its appearances can be found on the GTA Wiki.

  • Made of Explodium: Almost every vehicle in the GTA series can explode, usually either because of crashes or gunfire. This is more noticable in the 3D eranote  because any car that gets flipped upside-down will explode after a few seconds.
  • Made of Iron: The final boss of San Andreas, Big Smoke, takes several dozen assault rifle bullets to the face to kill and serves as a traditional boss fight (complete with health bar) in a game series which has generally avoided such conventions. In contrast, the final shootouts against Lance Vance and Sonny Forelli in Vice City, Sgt. Martinez and Diego Mendez in Vice City Stories, and Dimitri Rascalov or Jimmy Pegorino in GTA 4 were against reasonably realistic opponents, who had somewhat more health than standard mooks, but who still went down after a second or so of concentrated gunfire.
    • In the case of Big Smoke, it's justified due to him snorting crack before you run into him, thus he wouldn't feel anything unless his body completely gives out. The body armor he wears also makes the trope more true.
    • Most of the player characters also fall into this. Tommy Vercetti, for example, could jump out the 30th floor of a high-rise office building and live. The main exception is Niko, who, in keeping with IV's increased realism, can't survive falls greater than a couple of stories, and gets cut down by gunfire fairly quickly.
    • Also more or less averted in GTA 1 & 2. While you could withstand more punishment than the average Innocent Bystander, you were still relatively fragile and could often be instantly killed by explosions, long falls, fire or simply being run over.
    • Trevor in GTA V is this when using his special ability.
  • The Mafia: With the exception of II, they appear in every game in the series, either as good guys, bad guys, or both.
  • Mafia Princess: Maria, although she abandons this lifestyle in III.
  • The Mafiya: Appears in GTA2, and features heavily in the plot of IV, where they wind up becoming the Big Bad.
  • The Men in Black: Mike Toreno in San Andreas certainly qualifies. In IV, there is a shadowy government agency using a paper company as a front (a possible Shout-Out to Heroes) that gives Niko work and ultimately helps him find the man who betrayed him in the Balkans. Niko's first girlfriend, Michelle (or Karen, or whatever her name is), also turns out to be working for them, as Niko finds out when she takes down a drug deal he was involved in.
  • Metropolis Level: The series takes place in fictional cities, although Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a large, yet underused countryside.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Vice City and San Andreas. It's debatable, though, because they were so much bigger than III, and added so many new elements to gameplay (especially San Andreas), that many fans will argue that they are the superior games. The Stories games, however, fall very cleanly into this trope.
    • According to Word of God, the idea was to give each city featured in the original GTA its own game, starting with GTA III. Hence the two sequels are called Vice City and San Andreas instead of IV and V, respectively. Once they had completed this inofficial trilogy, they continued numbering their games. But why GTA III isn't simply called GTA: Liberty City is anyone's guess.
    • GTA London plays this trope more straight.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first few GTA games were known for their zany, over the top humor and for not taking themselves too seriously. Then IV came along and the humor was toned down in favor of gritty realism and drama. Many fans didn't like this change, so V returned to that zany, over the top humor.
  • Murder Simulators: Only because it's hard to disassociate this game from the idiocy of Jack Thompson. Thanks to him, it is the Trope Namer in a roundabout fashion.

    Tropes N-R 
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: This series loves this trope.
    • In Vice City, you get Pastor Richards, an expy of Jim Bakker and other corrupt televangelists, Jack Howitzer, a parody of '80s action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone (who reappears in San Andreas), and Love Fist, a gleeful mockery of every Hair Metal band ever.
    • In San Andreas, you've got rapper Madd Dogg (three guesses as to who he's an expy of, and the first two don't count — oh, and he's voiced by Ice-T), and Cris Fromage, a parody of L. Ron Hubbard who founded a Church of Happyology-style group called the Epsilon Program.
    • Averted somewhat in Vice City Stories. Phil Collins appears As Himself in a few missions, complete with an in-game performance of "In The Air Tonight".
    • IV, meanwhile, gives us Samantha Muldoon (a Madonna-esque pop singer who has adopted pretty much half the babies in Africa), Jill Von Crastenberg, Cloe Parker, and January Natasha Vasquez (parodies of famous-for-being-famous celebutantes like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian), Tony McTony (a club-friendly glam rapper whose lyrics are about nothing but money, bling, guns, pimped-out cars, and hot bitches), and Brandon Roberts (a big-name actor who associates himself with liberal causes solely to enhance his public image — oh, and he's also a Scientologist an Epsilonist).
    • V, being set in a pastiche of Los Angeles, has too many to list here. One of the, an anorexic, coke-snorting Teen Idol named Lacey Jonas, apparently hit a bit too close to home for Lindsay Lohan, who sued the developers over it.
    • Donald Love, an eccentric and corrupt Liberty City media and real estate mogul, is essentially Donald Trump (as he was seen in the '90s and '00s as opposed to today) meets Rupert Murdoch. His failed run for mayor of Liberty City in LCS is also inspired by Michael Bloomberg's real-life (and successful) run for mayor of New York in 2001.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: New York is called Liberty City, New Jersey becomes Alderney, Miami becomes Vice City, Los Angeles becomes Los Santos, San Francisco becomes San Fierro, Las Vegas becomes Las Venturas, and California becomes San Andreas.
    • GTA III's Liberty City is loosely based in New York City, but includes elements of other American cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit, among others.
  • No Name Given: The player character in III, until San Andreas revealed his name to be Claude. Before that, he was referred to once as "Fido" by Maria.
  • Non-Linear Sequel: The first game in the GTA III canon to be released was chronologically the last game in the series, while the last game in that canon, Vice City Stories, was chronologically the first.
  • Not My Driver
  • Nutritional Nightmare: The food in the game is incredibly unhealthy across the board, as befitting a parody of modern overstuffed America. In particular, Cluckin Bell cheerfully admits that they use growth hormones on top of factory farming to maximize production because "at least we no longer had to slip in a rat", Burger Shot stands out as openly advertising a 6 pound burger designed to give you a heart attack, while in V, the Ego Chaser energy bar has over 20,000 calories.
  • Oil Slick: Can be used in GTA2 by the player to cause any vehicle make a sharp left or right turn, often crashing into a wall.
  • Ominous Legal Phrase Title: The series is named after a term for carjacking - which you will be doing a whole lot of in these games.
  • One-Man Army: Basically, each protagonist of the Grand Theft Auto series is the closest thing one could call an unstoppable killing machine that destroys everything in its path, perfectly capable of annihilating an entire criminal organization if they set their mind to it. Occasionally lampshaded by some characters:
    Ken Rosenberg in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Oh yeah, he's a real one man army! Real fuckin' dependable.
    Gay Tony in Grand Theft Auto The Ballad Of Gay Tony: Okay, Lou. Shit. You'll be fine. Shit. No one in this whole crazy town is crazy enough to take you down.
  • Only in Florida: Leonida, the fictionalized version of Florida.
  • Only in Miami: Vice City, the fictionalized version of Miami.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: One of the signature feature of the game is that cops will pretty much ignore any and all traffic or automobile-related violations except for hit and run or hitting their car.
  • Parody Commercial: Wouldn't be GTA without them.
  • Period Piece: Every single GTA (whether set decidedly in the past or during present day at the time the game's release) is an intentional and, of course, over-the-top period piece satirizing that particular year. So never expect any of the games to be subtle or restrained in their dated pop culture references and parodies (or eventually to be dated, a la 2013's GTA V).
  • Police Are Useless: You're certainly lucky they are. Gets hilarious if they manage to cause more destruction than you during chases. However, this is averted in V in the fact that they are very accurate, in addition to the fact that people have tested the police cruiser and found it faster than most supercars.
  • Police Brutality: Even without a wanted level, police would rather run you over instead of braking if you're in their way.
  • Pop the Tires: A possible tactic in the series since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In fact, Crazy-Prepared players might just preemptively take out the tires of stationary vehicles near the mission to prevent their opponents to escape by driving them.
  • Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie:
    • Grand Theft Auto IV, of all games. It's set in a fictionalized pastiche of New York City in The 2000s, and heavily mines the post-9/11 mood of the city for both its story and its satire. In GTA IV, elements of the War on Terror and the neoconservative/jingoistic political climate of the Bush era are very much present in the game's storyline here and there. In fact, the theme of terrorism plays a significant role in the game's narrative. For instance, when working for the U.L. Paper contact, you have to confront literal Russian terrorists. One mission even requires you to dispose of a North Korean mob boss who counterfeits dollars and directly serves the interests of North Korea. The reason you have to eliminate him? Because you have to serve the interests of the U.S., and what he's doing isn't good for the economy. Dimitri Rascalov himself, the Big Bad of the entire story, is treated as a high-profile national threat, even going so far as to commit acts that could very well be classified as narco-terrorism, such as launching a large-scale nation-wide cocaine operation that threatens to destabilize the nation and orchestrating an attack on a senator's convoy to silence his campaign.
    • As with the previous game, the War on Terror plays a significant role in some portions of Grand Theft Auto 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. This makes a lot of sense and reflects the time quite well, considering that GTA V is set in The New '10s during the Obama era, a period when the first signs of the Pyrrhic Victory of the War on Terror in Iraq were observed, and the war was becoming increasingly unpopular worldwide. This negativity is vividly reflected in the Cold-Blooded Torture mission, where you are the interrogator.
  • Pressure-Sensitive Interface: The various PlayStation 2 releases make good use of the console's pressure-sensitive buttons. They allow you to go faster and modulate the throttle by modifying your pushing of the X button. The square, meanwhile, handles the intensity of the main brakes. The handbrake and reverse (circle and triangle, respectively) are not pressure-sensitive. Same story for all shoulder buttons.
  • Production Throwback: The signature "comic panel" cover art since III requires no introduction. Less known is the equivalently long-running practice of featuring a helicopter on the upper left panel, a tradition which Chinatown Wars' cover art has only recently broken out of (The Lost and Damned's group shot is exempted, and Advance doesn't count).
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The player character.
  • Punny Name: The series is loaded with places and vehicles which have names that are thinly veiled terms relating to sex. The tw@ internet cafe, Sanchez dirtbike, Camel's Toe casino...
  • Quad Damage: Prevalent in early games. 1 has the Speed Up power-up, 2 has the Double Damage, Fast Reload, Invisibility and ElectroFingers power-ups (alongside the "Invulnerability*" power-up), and III and Vice City has the adrenaline pill which slows down time and make melee attacks ultra-powerful. For V, trigger Trevor's special ability to increase your damage tolerance while dealing a lot more to your foes.
  • Rated M for Manly: This is what the series is known for! Assaultive course language, graphic violence, drug use, criminal activity as incentive for rewards, it's like a troll was given free reign to make a game.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Up until V, which contained a fully-featured score, the series is rather famous for its complete lack of background music - only a few, very rare cases up until V featured any sort of non-digetic music.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: In every game up to Vice City, you get money for smashing up cars. (Not to mention just about every other illegal activity your character does.)

    With "Rampages" (and their forerunners, "Kill Frenzies"), the player is given a weapon with infinite ammo, a target and a time limit.
  • Road Block: This can be found in some games, mainly Vice City (where the roads are closed due to an hurricane threat), San Andreas (where the roads are blocked due to an earthquake some time prior to the game events that has destroyed most bridges), and IV (where the bridges are closed due to an ongoing terrorism threat). In Vice City, it serves as an effective Broken Bridge, but in the latter two, since your character can swim, there's also a Border Patrol in the shape of a wanted level whenever you leaved the unlocked area. The police will also set up road blocks at three-star wanted levels and higher to try and slow you down.
  • Robot Maid: Domestobot! Mentioned on the radio in Vice City and becomes controllable for a mission in Vice City Stories.
  • Rocket Jump: The "Rhino boost" in III, Vice City, and the Stories games is a variation on this. When driving the Rhino tank, you can turn the turret around so that it is pointed behind you. The recoil created by firing the cannon provides you with a speed boost, which easily turns one of the slowest vehicles in the game into one of the fastest. Combine that with the fact that any vehicle that the Rhino so much as bumps into explodes, as well as the vehicle's Nigh Invulnerablity (it takes innumerable rocket hits to finally destroy it), and the Rhino practically becomes a Game-Breaker. San Andreas nerfed this ability, though it came back in the later Stories games.
  • Rule of Fun: The protagonists never run into bumper-to-bumper gridlock that would prevent progress. Ever.
  • Running Gag: Repeated references to the number 69.

    Tropes S-T 
  • The Scapegoat: Seems to have replaced Doom and Mortal Kombat as this for teen violence.
  • Sequence Breaking: The fans have come up with several ways you can get into the initially blocked off sections of the city in III and Vice City.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Usually played straight. In every game from III to Vice City Stories, if you picked up a prostitute, the only sign that they were having sex was the car rocking; if you changed the camera angles, all you saw was the protagonist and the hooker sitting next to each other. In San Andreas and IV, whenever the protagonist has an Optional Sexual Encounter with one of his girlfriends, the camera is outside with the player overhearing the action. However, there are some notable aversions. When you pick up a prostitute in IV, you can swivel the camera around and see exactly what she's doing. And in San Andreas, one player found and unlocked the code which allows the player to actually participate in the sex, causing a firestorm of moral outrage. (And selling another Eleventy Zillion copies.)
  • Shared Universe: Both the 3D and HD Universes make multiple references to Bullworth Academy and Carcer City. Both of the games these locations originate from take place in the 3D Universe.
  • Shout-Out: Mainly to classic crime films, like Scarface (1983), Goodfellas and Boyz n the Hood. The games also occasionally make offhand mentions to Carcer City, where Manhunt, another Rockstar game, was set.
  • Silent Protagonist: Claude from III. This is naturally lampshaded during his cameo in San Andreas.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Pretty far on the cynical end, especially in IV.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Generally on the "Unrealistic" end of the scale, though Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto V have enough supernatural weirdness to put it in the "Unusual" tier.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The series has gone up and down like a yo-yo. The first several games were pretty silly, GTA III crept a little towards the serious, Vice City was big silly fun, San Andreas mixed both to great effect and GTA IV was very serious and dark. The Lost and Damned became even darker and more depressing, while The Ballad of Gay Tony was more lighthearted. GTA V is centered on the economy and is a lighter shade of seriousness than IV.
  • Slo-Mo Big Air: In III and onward, this happens when you hit a stunt ramp at top speed. IV allows this at any moment, provided you're in the (nigh-unusable) cinematic camera.
  • Social Climber: Progression in Wide-Open Sandbox games forces characters to be this. It's all about building connections, nursing favors and networking so you can get better opportunities. In Grand Theft Auto, the Player Character starts poor but eventually becomes super-wealthy, his mission-givers also show the same progression. The joke among critics is that the inventory often resembles real-life portfolio or property and asset management, albeit in a criminal vent.
    • The most extreme example is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas where the hero Carl Johnson grows up in a Los Angeles slum with poor weapons and neighbourhood gun-fights, graduates to building a garage in San Fierro while working with the Triads, moonlights with a corrupt American agent and then becomes a wealthy entrepreneur in the casino business while tussling with the Italian Mob for turf while at the same time being the proud owner of an abandoned airstrip.
    • After this game, the makers generally tried to complicate progression by pointing out that, as in Grand Theft Auto IV it comes at a personal cost, or in the case of Grand Theft Auto V, showing in the case of the hero - Michael - someone who already has climbed the social ladder to start with but isn't very happy.
  • Soft Water: Any game where the protagonist doesn't have Super Drowning Skills. They averted this in V, however.
  • Spiritual Successor: The 3D games are this to Body Harvest, DMA Design/Rockstar North's previous 3D open-world game.
  • Straw Character: Much like South Park and The Howard Stern Show, Rockstar loves to mock activists on every corner of the political spectrum, left and right, often from a cynical, broadly libertarian standpoint — and even libertarian causes aren't safe.note  It's probably easier to name a political position, other than a generic defense of freedom of speech, that they haven't made fun of.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Cops, hostile gangsters and other unfriendly people will charge the player without hesitation regardless of how many corpses you've made, how heavily armed you are or other conditions unfavorable them. One-Man Army on a vantage point armed with a minigun with no cover for aggressors? Nah We can still take him!
  • Super Drowning Skills: All the 2D versions instantly kill the player when they enter water. Most III titles had an Oxygen Meter, but only San Andreas permitted the player any meaningful amount of time underwater. It was averted completely in IV and V with a strict Oxygen Meter, although V allows for the player's lung capacity to be extended.
  • Suspicious Ski Mask
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Carl wears this during the burglary side missions.
    • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories: An outfit including this mask known as the "Hood Outfit" is unlockable by owning a high roller robbery empire building.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV: Niko Belic, Patrick Mcreary, Derrick Mcreary, and Michael Keane wear these during the "Three Leaf Clover" mission. The mask is then unlockable after the mission is complete.
    • Grand Theft Auto V: Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips, and Brad wear these during the opening bank robbery. They are then used again by Michael, Trevor, and the third gunman during the Paleto Score. Michael, Franklin, and the third gunman will also wear this if the player selects the roof entry approach for the bureau raid. Several variations of this mask are available for purchase to equip with either Michael, Franklin, or Trevor. An even wider variety you can equip to your customizable player character are available in online mode.
  • Take Over the City: In each game you're defeating every possible opposing faction. Though Tommy Vercetti in Vice City is perhaps the straightest example of actively aiming for this goal.
  • Take That!: The games are filled with Take Thats against other open-world titles. For example, in III, one mission had you killing an undercover cop named Tanner, who is said to be useless outside of his car — a reference to Driver 2, which was trashed for its on-foot controls. San Andreas, meanwhile, had a billboard reading "True Grime," and a scene with a security guard playing a video game console and proceeding to insult "Refractions" for making such a bad game (DRIV3R). "Tanner, you suck ass!"
    • Also, the War Memorial in San Andreas has, at the very top, "R.I.P Opposition 1997-2004".
  • Tank Goodness: Many players never bothered with the plot, instead using the "summon tank" cheat code and going on a rampage around the town.
  • The Taxi: Taxi sidequests have been in the series since III, as well as occasional missions involving carjacking a taxi and using it for some nefarious purpose.
    • In Vice City, you can buy a cab company, and get into a violent turf-war with the other cab companies in the city. You're also able to take taxi rides to instantly return to the start of any mission that you just failed.
    • Starting with IV, you're given the ability to ride in taxis at any time as a means of fast travel across the map. In the same game, Niko's cousin Roman runs a cab service and can offer rides free of charge if his friendship stat is high enough.
  • That Nostalgia Show: Whenever the series goes into the past for its setting, it's usually this, with Vice City set in a nostalgic '80s Miami and San Andreas set in a nostalgic early '90s California.
  • The Theme Park Version: The games are over the top satirical theme park versions of American cities, American culture, American institutions and American popular culture.
    • All its cities (Liberty City, Los Santos, Vice City) are Fantasy Counterpart Culture of New York, Los Angeles and Miami respectively but much, much smaller than the real thing, far easier to navigate but with just enough of the general feel and look of the real-world counterparts to give players a facsimile of the real thing. A common observation is how Los Santos doesn't have the notorious traffic of Los Angeles and no traffic jams, which obviously helps the central game mechanic but makes it less convincing as a simulation.
    • The general gameplay more or less only works with a satirical distorted view that Rockstar submit its portrayal too, since the cities are portrayed to be as corrupt as a Banana Republic with suspects of multiple felonies buying their way out of murders with a slap on the wrist, an income system that doesn't punish you for losing your health (when American health care is incredibly expensive) and allowing a single individual to somehow learn how to drive multiple vehicles on land, sea and air which in real-life only few individuals ever accumulate the required knowledge to do so, leave alone the proficiency which allows for vehicle stunts as the games invites you to do.
    • The games are based on many popular American crime movies and tropes but often the distorted the popular-culture vision rather than the Unbuilt Trope of the original. Brian de Palma's Scarface starring Al Pacino is an anti-drug story and a tragedy, the Spiritual Adaptation Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a sociopath's gleeful and successful Roaring Rampage of Revenge with none of the qualms and drawbacks of dealing drugs addressed once in the game. Grand Theft Auto IV faced the problem of trying to portray crime in New York after the city underwent gentrification and historically low drops in the crime rate.
    • The later games have a mechanic by which gamers can buy and invest in property and businesses which unlock missions that involve improving and building said works. Actual property acquisition and businesses is a complex process that involves mortgage, electricity and maintenance which is usually handwaved with a one-time cash payment with no additional expenses incurred on the part of the owner.
  • Third Is 3D: III was the first in the series to feature three-dimensional camera angles, as opposed to the top-down angle of previous titles.
  • Timed Mission: Featured in many flavors througout the series, from more mundane cases where you have to assassinate a target before they're out of range or help someone who is critically injured, to more asinine situations like "Shakedown" in Vice City, where you given five minutes to smash several storefronts in North Point Mall just because Tommy said he'd be back in five.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many NPCs in this series arguably qualify, though how much is due to deliberate portrayal and how much due to Artificial Stupidity is unclear.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Appears as bad guys in III and LCS, and as allies in San Andreas. They are the main focus of Chinatown Wars.

    Tropes V-Z 
  • Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: This game probably spawned more examples of this trope than any other.
  • Units Not to Scale: Every now and then in the GTAIII era, you'll walk past a storefront with doors either too tiny or a little too big for the character scale. These storefronts are simply filler they didn't have time to scale.
  • Universal Driver's License:
    • Mostly averted in III, where the only vehicles available were automobiles and boats (and one plane that Claude can't get in the airnote ).
    • Played straight, however, in Vice City, San Andreas and Liberty City Stories, where you had common thugs/mobsters hijacking airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, and even jetpacks.
    • Somewhat justified in San Andreas as far as aircraft; pilot training is a late-game mandatory mission. Also justified by the fact that you have to gain skill with various vehicles before you can drive them competently.
    • Also justified in V to in a few cases, as Trevor was trained (though not licensed) by the Canadian Air Force, explaining his ability to fly planes and helicopters, and Michael was a yacht owner, which justifies his ability to drive boats.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: You can generally walk around brandishing any weapon you want without drawing attention to yourself. Also, you can indulge in any amount of destruction and carnage, but people will walk past the wreckage without a curious glance. Blow up something and they'll flee in terror... for a few hundred yards, then they forget all about it.
  • Vice City: The Trope Namer.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Really, it's what the games are all about.
    • The crowner, however, may be a mission in San Andreas where you have to dump a foreman in a hole and bury him alive under cement. While he's in the port-a-potty. The reason? He had been catcalling CJ's sister Kendl, and she didn't like it. Despite this, you're usually not encouraged to kill innocents, though.
    • Grand Theft Auto V now extends the cruelty to animals, where you have the option of running them over with a vehicle if shooting doesn't cut it.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: That doesn't mean that anything goes, however. Start killing a bunch of civilians and they'll eventually send tanks after you, although it would take a long time to get to that level of law enforcement aggressiveness. Killing cops or any other person of law enforcement shoots up your wanted meter tons faster than killing innocent people.
    • In Liberty City Stories, the cops were much more aggressive, with fast police cars (often four at a time) that would ram you constantly, spike strips every ten seconds, and deliberate aiming at the tires (which greatly decreased your car's performance). If any cop managed to get next to your vehicle door, you were insta-busted.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: This depends on the game. In the PSX titles, flamethrowers compensate for their short range with their One-Hit Kill properties — basically, once you're on fire, there's no putting it out. Later games have reduced the flamethrower's effectiveness; In Vice City Stories, a boss character more or less signs his own death warrant by wielding one.
  • Video Game Time: There's a timescale for days and nights and the passage of time in later games, but for timed missions they revert to timing with real time so they give you three minutes to drive to such and such place and this three minutes takes the equivalent of three hours.
  • Villain Protagonist: One of the main reasons for the series' original controversy. In later games, however, Rockstar began to favour anti-heroes.
  • Violent Glaswegian: The developers of the games, Rockstar North, are from Edinburgh. They were previously DMA Designs based in Dundee.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: The city of Las Venturas in San Andreas is all about this trope, with most of the missions revolving around the Triad-run Four Dragons Casino and the Mafia-run Caligula's Palace.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: While not the Trope Maker, it is the Trope Codifier, to the point where the term "GTA clone" or "GTA meets X" was used to describe any open-world game in the early-mid '00s (much like "Doom clone" for first-person shooters in The '90s).
  • Womanliness as Pathos: The franchise makes extensive use of this trope, with women often being the causes of game's events or important motivators for the male protagonists.
    • In Grand Theft Auto III, the story proper begins when the protagonist Claude is betrayed by his girlfriend, Catalina, during a bank robbery and gets arrested for it. Catalina thus becomes the story's main antagonist and is demonstrated to be a complete psychopath. Further, Claude is later betrayed by one of his mafioso bosses because the mafioso falsely thinks Claude is sleeping with one of his mistresses, Maria, who becomes both the Damsel in Distress as well as the closest thing Claude has to a Love Interest.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
      • This game is a prequel reintroduces Catalina as one of Carl "CJ" Johnson's "girlfriends" (although it's clear that CJ is only putting up with her to try and get money to bail his older brother out of jail). Once again, Catalina is a complete psychopath and further demonstrates herself to be an extremely impulsive and inept criminal due to her Hair-Trigger Temper. She continuously nags, screams, and derides CJ, using him as an example of why she "hates men" while ignoring any of the problems she herself causes. Further, when confronted by CJ on her actions (and her refusal to pay him the money she promised), she changes the subject by accusing him of eyeing other women and being a bad boyfriend, and blames her chaotic actions on "the female heart".
      • The protagonist's sister, Kendl, is portrayed as the "brains" of the Johnson family and is constantly frustrated by her brothers' attempts at gangbanging and criminal activities (although she has no qualms about using the ill-gotten gains). Further, her brothers show constant concern about her virtue, at first staunchly disapproving that she is dating the Latino gangster, Cesar. The main antagonist, Officer Tenpenny, even constantly tries to intimidate and anger Carl by threatening Kendl with harm and rape, stating at one point that Carl should be glad that she currently "only sucking one greaseball's dick".
      • A very obscure mechanic in San Andreas can have Carl's date with one of his girlfriends interrupted by another one of his girlfriends.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV: Early in the game, Niko finds out that his cousin Roman is being cuckolded by a small-time criminal with powerful connections. Roman is devastated to learn of it but begs Niko to do nothing that would draw the wrath of the more powerful criminals. Niko is appalled by his cousin's resignation and kills the criminal anyway to retaliate. Later in the game, it's also revealed that Niko's girlfriend Michelle is actually a government agent named Karen Daniels, and depending on the ending, Niko's other canonical girlfriend, Kate, can also be accidentally killed during a drive-by, prompting Niko to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Grand Theft Auto V: The Inciting Incident for the events of the game is the moment when Michael chooses to wreck what he thinks is the house of the man (or one of the men) his wife has been having an affair with. The fact that he himself cheats on her with random strippers and prostitutes is barely addressed at all; it's her infidelity that the game mostly focuses on. We also see many other examples of important or secondary male characters whose love interests or girlfriends are seeing other people. Franklin is motivated to get rich primarily to try and win back his ex-girlfriend from her rich fiancé, and Trevor points out that his unwilling accomplice, Floyd, is being cheated on by his fiancée Debra—something given credence when Debra mentions a "Robert" later. Trevor himself is also introduced in the game cuckolding Johnny from Lost and Damned (soon after killing him), and one of the few characters that elicits Trevor's sympathy (and, in fact, outright love) is the beleaguered but loyal wife of the mob boss whose house Michael ruined.
  • World of Jerkass: It's Grand Theft Auto. Of course there's going to be a full world of assholes in the entire franchise, even the pedestrians behave as such.
  • Wretched Hive
  • Yakuza: Appears in GTA2 and Liberty City Stories, and features heavily in the plot of III and Chinatown.
  • You All Look Familiar: Pedestrian variety in the 3D era titles was noticeably limited. As there were only a few pre-set models being used to occupy the world (only a few of which could be used at a time, depending on the locale), it was easy to run into two people with the exact same body type and clothing, especially in the case of gang members who had two or three different models at most. The HD era games downplay this by having more pedestrian models available and allowing each model to swap between accessories and outfit sets.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The usual result of shooting someone with a sniper rifle in the 3D era games. Averted in the HD era-even the .50-caliber Heavy Sniper from V will always leave the enemy's head intact.
  • Zerg Rush: The only strategy the police from all games use. Send waves after waves of reckless cops until the player gives up, runs out of ammo or suffers Death by a Thousand Cuts.


Video Example(s):


Grand Theft Auto IV

[Trope Namer] In the mission "That Special Someone", when Niko finally meets the traitor responsible for the deaths of his former squadmates years ago, Darko begs for Niko to end his drug-fueled misery by killing him. Should Niko oblige, he soon tells Roman that killing Darko did nothing at all to satisfy him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

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