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Video Game / Grand Theft Auto IV

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"Life is complicated. I killed people, smuggled people, sold people... Perhaps here, things will be different."
Niko Bellic

Grand Theft Auto IV is the fourth Numbered Sequel of the Grand Theft Auto series, the first one to appear on a seventh generation console, and the start of a new continuity. It was also, thanks to a famous slip-up by Sony over renewing their previous contract with Rockstar for exclusive publishing rights, the first entry to get a simultaneous Multi-Platform release, as well as the first to have downloadable content. The game certainly takes advantage of the new hardware to the fullest - character models are much more realistically detailed and animated, as is just about everything else.

Set in 2008, the story follows Niko Bellic, a veteran of the Yugoslav Wars who turned to crime in an attempt to track down the traitor who got his squad killed. After he's nearly busted in a smuggling operation on the Adriatic Sea, he decides that it's time to move on from criminal activities and sets sail for Liberty City in the United States, where his cousin Roman claims to have become a self-made millionaire.


Unfortunately, Roman's stories turn out to have been highly exaggerated, his "mansion" a dockside slum and his "sports car" a taxi cab. On top of that, his gambling addiction has caused him to take out loans from Albanian Gangsters and The Mafiya, placing him in nigh-inescapable debt. Determined to help out his cousin, and hoping to investigate a lead regarding the traitor, Niko is forced to delve back into his past life of violence to survive.

One of the biggest changes from previous installments was IV's ability to take advantage of the Internet connectivity that virtually all consoles of the time had built-in. A number of multiplayer game modes are offered, from classic deathmatch and team deathmatch to team-based co-op missions. There's even an open sandbox mode so you can run around Liberty City doing whatever you want, be it with your friends or complete strangers.


Before the game's release, Rockstar signed a $50 million deal with Microsoft to produce two downloadable expansion packs exclusively for the Xbox 360 in 2009. Of course, this was a major flashpoint in the Console Wars. The first of the two was released in March, while the second one was released at the end of October. PS3 and PC owners could rejoice as these previously exclusive expansions came out for their formats in April 2010. If you have tropes for the Episodes from Liberty City (as their compilation release is called), put them on their respective pages, linked here:

Grand Theft Auto IV is the Trope Namer for:

Cousin, let's go troping!

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    A - K 
  • 100% Completion: As is traditional in the GTA franchise, there is a long list of things to do in-game (aside from the missions) in order to achieve the coveted 100% completion ranking. Unfortunately, while most of the other GTA games (including GTA V) offer a number of cool rewards, the award in this game is little more than the ability to carry infinite ammo - which you still have to pay for.
  • Abusive Parents: Oh boy, where do we even start?
    • Both Niko's and Roman's fathers are implied to be abusive alcoholics during conversations between Niko and his friends.
    • Mikahil Faustin is certainly abusive towards his wife Ilyena and is implied to be as well towards their daughter Anna, though he claims that "he spoiled her rotten". While he is certainly an unstable and maniacal individual who orders Niko to kills Anna's boyfriend, it turns out said boyfriend was a pimp trying to turn her into a whore so he might have a point. He still calls her daughter an "out-of-control bitch" because his wife "messed up raising her" and that he doesn't care about his happiness.
    • Dwayne's father was an illiterate, violent pimp and a drug dealer who used to beat Dwayne and his mother. When his father died, Dwayne is said to not have felt anything.
    • The late patriarch of the McReary family not only was an abusive alcoholic that beat his children, but is also implied to have molested some of them, since Packie calls him a "sick pervert" and his brother Gerry had their father beaten to a pulp when he caught him trying to molest Packie.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality/Anti-Frustration Features: While wanted by police, most food stores (the places that restore your health) will refuse you service. However, food carts, which are by far the most plentiful source of food in the game, will still serve you and will only run away when directly attacked.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Subverted with the cashier of the internet cafe in Broker. Someone who calls Niko "Roman's cousin" probably isn't too great with names, but she does call him Niko after he tells her his name.
  • Action Girl: Averted with Michelle/Karen, who despite being a government agent isn't exactly the action type.
  • Adventure Duo: Niko's interactions with cousin Roman fit this dynamic, especially early in the game. His moody cynicism and lack of familiarity with Liberty City are repeatedly contrasted against Roman's light-hearted optimism and experience.
  • Against the Setting Sun: Likely to occur in the "Revenge" ending, but not always.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Mikhail Faustin's death. He might have been an Ax-Crazy drug-addict, but still, seeing him broken, betrayed, and killed by Dimitri and Niko, is hard not to feel sorry for him.
  • The Alleged Car: The game features several. You can find rusty, unreliable "beater" variants of several of the cars, including the Sabre, Vigero, and Esperanto ("Roman's Taxi").
    • You can also find beater variants of the Emperor, all of which have only 3 headlights as a nod to the "Psychobilly Cadillac" from the Johnny Cash song "One Piece at a Time." You can also find a customized "rat rod" version with an acid green vinyl roof.
    • Heck, the "Yankee" truck is only available in "beater" form, (though the degree of wear and decay varies; the "Liberty State Delivery" variant is in relatively decent shape, aside from the graffiti and some mild oxidization, while the "Sprunk" variant wouldn't look too out of place in a game like Fallout 3).
      • The Lost and Damned adds a new open-bed variant of the "Yankee" that's in even worse shape. The bodywork is permanently dented, it appears to have been painted with house paint which wasn't allowed to dry properly, the mirrors are falling off, the wheels are beginning to rust, and the bed appears to be taken from a much older vehicle, though it is faster than the "Rhapsody" which isn't a "beater" but is based on a well-known Alleged Car, the AMC Pacer.
    • One of the Dummied Out vehicles from The Ballad Of Gay Tony, the "policew" also counts, it appears to be a Police Interceptor that was crashed, then dumped in the ocean, and fished out several years later. It is somehow still drivable, though it probably isn't supposed to be (it is a beta vehicle after all), it was probably only intended for use in a cut scene.
    • Most of the beater variants perform poorly compared to their regular versions, however, there are three exceptions: the Gang Burrito, Roman's Taxi, and the open-bed Yankee, all of which are vastly superior performance-wise to their better-maintained counterparts.
  • Alternate Continuity: Liberty City looks nothing like it did in Grand Theft Auto III and none of the events of the previous three games are mentioned, but GTA Radio and the accompanying internet and TV shows make numerous references to the popular culture in the previous three games. And some of the in-game TV stations actually incorporate locations and even animation from previous games. Dialogue references to GTA IV-era versions of GTA III-era locations such as San Andreas, Los Santos, San Fierro, Las Venturas, and Vice City are also frequent.
    • At least on the subject of appearance, this can be considered justified, at least on the meta level. Not only were there six and a half years between the two games but Grand Theft Auto III was released only a month after 9/11, which caused Rockstar to make last-minute design changes to further distance itself from New York City. In fact, pre-release screenshots even showed Liberty City squad cars, with livery in the style of NYPD cars at the time.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In the police database, there is a woman named Mary Valvona listed as the head of the Pavano crime family. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Mafia would never let a woman into the organization, let alone allow her to become the boss of one of the Five Families. Yet this news article proves otherwise. Though it may be worth noting that the Italian mafia and the American mafia are two separate organizations, and the American mafia probably wouldn't allow a woman to be in charge of one of the families.
  • Ambiguously Gay/Bi: Brucie, possibly an Armored Closet Gay or Manly Gay.
    • Packie who seems a little too interested in talking about Prison Rape with Niko.
    • The U.L. Paper contact mentions to Niko after reuniting him with Bernie that he knows what it's like to "get close to a man."
    • Talbot mentions that Bernie "likes to be called Florian... at certain moments.", Later he says "I try to block walks of shame from my memory" and "I was high last time I went here" when he arrives at Bernie's apartment, suggesting that he had a relationship with Bernie. Ray Boccino refers to Talbot as a "fanook" which is Italian-American slang for homosexual.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Brucie. Not that heavily hinted at, but come on...the guy's freakin' last name is Kibbutz.
    • Confirmed in TBoGT. Brucie's older brother Mori spent time in Israel, serving in the Army (allegedly).
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • Tom Goldberg. A very obviously over the top Greedy Jew stereotype who performs charity solely for his reputation and is strongly implied to be a molester of disadvantaged young boys. Niko forges a resume to get an interview with him and then kills him.
    • Averted with Kiki, who is not Amoral, just blindingly ignorant. Niko flat-out confesses to being a murderer on a date, and she blames society for it and continues the date.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: Niko is the first post-3D series protagonist to not be an American citizen; he is instead an illegal immigrant from Serbia. This viewpoint allows the game to better show its more cynical take on The American Dream, and its Deconstruction of Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: One of the missions for Jimmy Pegorino sees Niko killing one of Pegorino's bodyguards while the latter is in hospital. The proper way for the player to do this discreetly is to disguise Niko as a doctor and walk into the ER room to disconnect the life-support machine - without having gone in there while Niko was in civilian clothes, of course. If Niko goes into the ER room in civilian clothes (which will lead a guard to point a gun at him), leaves and then goes back in the doctor's scrubs, this may happen:
    Police Officer: I just saw you a second ago. If you're a doctor, I'm the Pope.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Taking the two expansion packs into account, IV tells the story of three characters in one whole narrative: the base game focuses on Niko Bellic, The Lost and Damned on Johnny Klebitz and The Ballad of Gay Tony on Luis Lopez. The three's escapades are continually referenced across each other's stories before finally crossing paths during the diamond heist.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Utilising cheats in this game is considerably more cumbersome because they have to be entered as a phone number into the player's phone, as opposed to typing them into the game with the controller or keyboard. However, successfully entering a cheat number adds it as a contact in the phone, allowing it to be used fairly quickly when needed.
  • Anti-Hero: Niko is something of an Unscrupulous Hero. Niko came to America to escape the horrors of his past life but also seeks to find and kill those who betrayed him years before. However, he sports an indifference and lack of morality towards anyone who would seek to use his talents to carry out dirty deeds, throwing some Nominal Hero into the mix.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Darko gives one to Niko.
    Niko: Strange choices? How much?
    Darko: [laughs] A thousand.
    Niko: You killed my friends for one thousand dollars?
    Darko: How much do you charge to kill someone?
    Niko: You ruined me, you fuck!
  • Arms Dealer: Unlike the previous games in the series, where the guns came from perfectly legal firearm stores, all the weapon shops in this game are underground back-alley operations due to LC's Mayor having enacted strict gun control laws. This is also what Little Jacob does for a living — if he likes Niko enough, he'll even deliver a car full of weapons to the player's location on demand (for a price, but a lower one than the dealers).
  • Art Shift: Unlike previous games, this game has a gritty grimy look and the brown was used for sunsets, clearly signaling the Darker and Edgier nature of the game. Even the game physics are Darker and Edgier.
    • It also presents a shift from a more cartoonish style, to one focusing heavily on realism
  • Artificial Stupidity: AI drivers in general are VERY bad at avoiding crashes. This is most telling on bridges where multi-car pileups are common because several cars decided to merge into the same lane at once. This may or may not be intentional.
    • Pedestrians aren't much better, often rolling in the wrong direction to dodge your car and ending up directly under your wheels.
    • In previous games, pedestrians would generally only scream if they witnessed something happen in front of them or were directly attacked. In GTA IV, all you need to do is speed along the road, and you're sure to hear a pedestrian screaming at the top of their lungs.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Two candidates in a campaign race for governor, John Hunter and Michael Graves, take out surreal attack ads accusing their opponent of some of the most bizarre things imaginable.
    "You may value your privacy, but John Hunter doesn't. He wants to install a camera in your bedroom so every time you jerk off you have to pay five dollars!"
    "Call up John Hunter, tell him you're voting Michael Graves for governor. Then call him a fat, bald prick and hang up the phone!"
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: If you take the "Deal" ending, then in the final shootout Dimitri will have double health as well as body armor, making him about 3 times as tough as a normal enemy and the most durable human opponent in the game (though he's still relatively easy to mow down once you finally reach him). Notably, Jimmy Pegorino does not get this bonus durability and is no tougher than a basic Mook in the "Revenge" ending where he's the final opponent instead, further cementing the latter's status as a Big Bad Wannabe.
  • Automatic New Game: This game, as well as a few other titles developed by Rockstar, uses the trope.
    • It also does its logical counterpart, the Automatic Continue Game; if save files are found, it will automatically load the latest one. This can get highly annoying if you have multiple different saves and will always have to endure an extra Loading Screen before being allowed to choose which one you actually wanted to load.
  • Autosave: The game, aside from the manual saving that is allowed at Save Points, autosaves after completing missions. The manual saving at Save Points allows several savegames, the autosave uses only one file that is replaced each time.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The counter-finishes. In a fist/melee fight, they look really cool and kill a guy at half his health instantly, but are fairly difficult to pull off and depend largely on timing. Pulling out a gun (which can be obtained fairly easily) is a much easier and effective tactic.
  • Bad Boss: Well and truly personified by Mikhail Faustin, the game's leading figure in the Russian Mob, who is completely batshit insane. He shoots his own men for no particular reason, orders hits left and right on the merest of whims, and explodes at everyone around him, including long-time friends and family. On the other hand, Dimitri himself is not even better when he betrays Niko Bellic.
  • Balkan Bastard: Niko and Roman, with the former being a war criminal from the Yugoslav Wars. There are also Albanian gangsters as enemies in the game.
  • Bank Robbery: Three Leaf Clover, which is almost directly influenced by Heat.
  • Battle in the Rain: At the end of "A Revenger's Tragedy".
  • Because I'm Good at It: Niko uses this exact line at one point when asked why he lives the way he does.
  • Berserk Button:
    No one fucks with my family."
    • It's also a really bad idea to accuse Niko of being disloyal. The only person in the game who does it and lives to talk about it is Roman.
    • Disloyalty is another one for Niko. When he finds Michelle was an undercover agent he drops his normally collected demeanor and calls her a "fucking bitch".
  • Beef Gate: Attempting to go to an island before it has been formally opened results in an automatic 6 star wanted rating. Unlike previous GTA games where it actually takes some effort to do this, in GTA IV you can set off the wanted rating by simply walking across a bridge footpath with no obstacles.
  • Betty and Veronica: Subverted. Because Michelle, the Veronica, betrayed him, Niko continues the romance with Kate "Betty" McReary.
    • Roman and Vlad to Mallorie. Since Vlad is such a dick and ends up killed early on, Betty wins again.
  • Big Applesauce: Liberty City is such an excellent representation of New York that many reviewers and gamers considered it one of the game's finest points. Also, in fitting with the New York-centrism theme of the trope, Alderney, the game's stand-in for northern New Jersey, has been folded into Liberty City. Staten Island, New York's Butt-Monkey, does not appear (The dev team has stated that they considered basing an in-game location on it, but ultimately concluded that players would find it boring).
  • Big Bad: Dimitri Rascalov, who is responsible for almost all the major conflicts in the game. If you choose the Revenge Ending, Jimmy Pegorino becomes the Big Bad and Final Boss.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Jimmy Pegorino. His story arc focuses on his unsuccessful attempts at getting his Alderney-based mob family membership in the Liberty City-exclusive Commission. The Deal Ending sees him form a Big Bad Duumvirate with Dimitri, which is quickly ended when the latter kills him.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Or Big Cousin Instinct; Niko would sodomize a dog for you if it paid well, but do not harm his cousin.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: The Continuity Reboot still hasn't saved Liberty City from being a Vice City. This aspect has been toned down compared to the III-continuity, since IV translates New York City after the Giuliani era, though that means the game also takes some vicious stabs at the gentrification the city's undergone since then.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The McReary family. The entire Irish mob is just one family tied together by a history of crime, alcohol, and abuse.
  • Bilingual Bonus: One of Brucie's tattoos reads "人妖", which is slang for a transvestite in Chinese. It seems Brucie got the tattoo only because it looked cool. In fact, his whole tattoo reads "我人妖爱恨分明二打六", which means "I am a transvestite wannabe with strong principles."
  • Bittersweet Ending: The penultimate mission has you choose between overseeing a heroin deal with Dimitri for Pegorino or using the opportunity to kill Dimitri. If you take the former, Kate dumps you and Dimitri screws you over during the deal (though you still get the money if you succeed), then tries to kill Niko at Roman's wedding. Unfortunately, Roman is killed instead, though Kate does reconcile with Niko after. Take the latter, then Roman survives, but Pegorino kills Kate while trying to kill Niko at Roman's wedding. Either way, the game cannot be completed with everyone Niko supposedly cares about surviving.
  • Blofeld Ploy: Mikhail Faustin when Niko and Roman are captured by Russian Mafia. When Mikhail storms into his basement, it first seems like he is going to hurt or kill Niko, instead, he turns the gun on Andrei. Basically because he was looking at Faustin the wrong way.
    Faustin: So, Niko Bellic. You think it's okay to kill my employees?
    Niko: If he is an asshole, yes.
    Faustin: (shoots Andrei in the face) I agree.
  • Body in a Breadbox: In one of the subplot missions for Gerald McReary. There's an Albanian stuffed into the fridge, whose Clothes, Boots and Motorcycle you need (this is literally the title of the mission) to kill an unimportant Ancelotti, Frankie Garone.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The reward for exterminating all the pigeons (and this is one of the few sidequests that gives the player an explicit reward other than money and/or contributing to the 100% Completion percentage) is an Annihilator attack helicopter that spawns on top of a certain building. Said helicopter won't spawn when the roof is accessed from the ground, requiring the player to use another helicopter to get to it. Also, it spawns at three other helipads that can be accessed from the ground, all of which are available without completing the pigeon sidequest, defeating the whole point of the "reward".
    • Indeed, compared to past GTA games, the rewards for side quests, frankly, are not worth the effort. Most have no monetary award, nor do they create weapon spawning points as in the previous games. Some only reward trophies/achievements (and the early release of the PS3 port does not even give trophies). Finally, the reward for actually jumping through all the hoops and getting 100% completion is unlimited ammo capacity for weapons ... but you still have to buy/find the ammo yourself (i.e. no infinite ammo), plus a trophy/achievement, compared to past games that rewarded cool vehicles and tons of (virtual) cash.
    • It's possible Rockstar took criticism of GTAIV's reward system to heart because the two DLC packs saw the return of "traditional" rewards such as weapon caches spawning at safehouses after completing certain side missions.
  • Bookends: The game begins with Niko getting off a boat named "Platypus". If you choose the 'revenge' path, in a mission called A Dish Served Cold, you revisit that boat, now being used as part of a drug deal that Dimitri and Pegorino have set up.Niko even lapshades this after killing Dimitri in a phone call with Roman.
    Niko: It is the Platypus, the boat I arrived in Liberty City on, so it seems it ends where it began.
    • At the end of "A Revenger's Tragedy", Niko greets Dimitri with the same phrase Roman used when he first arrived in Liberty City. "Welcome to America."
  • Boom, Headshot!: You can move the crosshair when locked onto an enemy to target specific body parts. Combined with the cover system, most firefights are actually quite easy as a result, since you don't actually have to expose yourself to lock on to a target.
  • Boring, but Practical: One of the most efficient ways of surviving a shootout with the cops is finding a large, sturdy piece of cover (with no way around it except through you, of course) and blindfiring from behind it with an SMG, Assault Rifle, or Carbine Rifle. The game then starts to resemble an improbably easy shooting gallery, but the tactic gets the job done.
    • Both pistols lack the rate of fire, power, range, or ammo capacity other guns have, but they make up for it with pinpoint accuracy and the largest default ammo pool out of all your weapons. The Combat Pistol veers into Simple, yet Awesome territory, because it uses the same ammo pool as the stock pistol, but deals enough damage to match higher-tier weapons.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Niko chastises Darko for selling him and their fallen comrades out over $1000 worth of cocaine. And Darko returns the favor to Niko, saying he has killed many people for money.
  • Broken Bridge: The bridges and tunnels are closed due to a terror alert, and they are slowly reopened as you progress through the game. This is covered (often hilariously) on the in-game news sites.
  • Brooklyn Rage
  • Butt-Monkey: Roman. In spades.
  • The Cameo: It's not a physical cameo, but in some abandoned departments you can see names of previous GTA protagonists, all in phrases that seem to indicate that they died. Nothing Is Scarier indeed.
  • Camp Gay: Bernie.
    • Some pedestrians you can find around the game are effeminately dressed men who wear bright pink or purple and use the female pedestrian set animations (including the screams).
  • Cap: Weapons in GTA IV and its episodes have a much lower carrying limit compared to their predecessors. Generally, the more stopping power a gun has, the fewer rounds the player can carrynote .
  • Cassandra Truth: Niko becomes this in relation to the three optional girlfriends who can be found online. They are initially unaware of Niko's connection to organized crime, and when he reveals this to them in their conversations, this is either brushed off or mocked as false.
  • Chaos Architecture: Liberty City is quite unlike its GTA III incarnation due to belonging to an Alternate Continuity.
  • Checkpoint Starvation:
    • There are no Check Points during missions, regardless of mission length. If you fail the mission, you have to start over from the beginning. This includes driving to the mission's start point. Normally, you can use a taxi to spare yourself the drive, but there are some missions where you are required to drive to the mission location, such as "Catch The Wave."
    • There are 2 missions where this does not apply: A Revenger's Tragedy and Out Of Commission. Once you get to Dimitri/Pegorino's hideout to begin the shootout, if you fail the mission, when you agree to the text message asking if you want to redo the mission, you don't start from the beginning of the mission. You skip the car chase and end up in the cut scene where Niko and Jacob (and Roman in Commission) drive down the embankment toward the hideout. Either one of these two could be the game's final mission.
    • If you fail Hostile Negotiation and choose to restart via the text message, you will automatically be at the warehouse without having to drive there again.
  • Child Soldier: Niko was one of these in the Bosnian War.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Dimitri Rascalov.
  • City Noir: Liberty City.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Vladivostok FM DJ Ruslana. A lot of her between-song banter is random non-sequiturs (and sometimes just random noises) with a super high-energy, exciting delivery. It's enough that players who aren't familiar with Eastern-European music may mistake her for being a fictional character, though she is indeed a real person playing herself.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: To say that it happens just like in San Andreas doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • Collection Sidequest:
    • Brucie's car thefts, the pigeon extermination, Stevie's car thefts, stunt jumps.
    • Veers into Gotta Kill 'Em All for the aforementioned pigeons; you have to shoot and kill them in order to "collect" them. Also, the Most Wanted sidequest has you locating 30 criminals across Liberty City and assassinating them.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • Implemented very subtly in the interest of Gameplay and Story Segregation. If you are supposed to kill someone who flees in a car, but they will lead you somewhere that will advance the plot, the game will always keep them slightly out of your reach during the chase. You can shoot at them all you want, they'll never take any damage. An obvious example of this is chasing Dardan early in the game. Niko is trying to kill him, but you won't be able to during the chase because the encounter after he crashes serves as the melee disarming tutorial.
    • Enemy characters will also have near-pin-point accuracy when it comes to shooting you through the windows while you're inside a car, preventing you from using the car as a shield.
  • Continuity Reboot: Grand Theft Auto IV rebooted the canon established by the Grand Theft Auto III-series games. Though cities' names are the same, they look completely different and no characters from the previous games appear. It also has a grittier, darker, and more realistic storyline and style.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: "United Liberty Paper Merchants." One of the diplomas on the contact's wall has what is clearly the official seal of the CIA.
  • Crapsack World: Liberty City. Grand Theft Auto IV gives us a world where crime is rampant, and unlike previous games, most of the negative aspects of the Crapsack World (or Crapsack City) are Played for Drama. It is a city filled with corrupt politicians, crooked cops, violent mobsters, drug traffickers, human traffickers, backstabbing criminals and maniacs.
  • Cruel Mercy: In the mission "That Special Someone", Niko and Roman finally confront Darko Brevic, the man responsible for betraying Niko's army unit, only to find out that his life on the run has taken its toll on him, transforming him into a miserable drug addict who clearly hates his life. He actually wants Niko to kill him, so Roman attempts to coax Niko into invoking this trope and letting him live. The player can choose to follow Roman's advice or kill Darko anyway.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If you are properly armed, and are prepared for it, most gunfights in the game can qualify as this from Niko's perspective. In particular, however, the "random encounter" fights with Eddie Low and Clarence are curb stomps for Niko if he arrives armed with a half-decent gun, especially as Eddie attacks Niko with a knife. Interestingly, if you take the knife away from Eddie, he will run away, so you have to chase him and kill him to get the 100%.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Players familiar with the driving and control scheme from the GTA III-era games tend to be completely thrown by the new controls of GTA IV. Fortunately (at least in the PS3 version), an option is provided to change the controls to the "classic" configuration, although some differences remain, such as controls related to a drive-by shooting.
  • Darker and Edgier: May seem hard to do, but IV was a definite shift away from the more lighthearted predecessors; the Crapsack World goes from being Played for Laughs to Played for Drama. Even on the radio, the humor is much more toned down, and the actual missions themselves seem to involve almost no laughing moments. Even the radio satire is a lot less funny and more outright stating what is wrong with America. It seems like Rockstar just picked targets and let 'em have it with both barrels. And to add an insult, you lose one of the important supporting characters before the finale starts, making IV the darkest game in the entire series.
  • Dating Sim: You can date various women, who (except for Michelle and Kate, who you have to date for story reasons) give you the added benefit of their special abilities (instant healing from the nurse, getting cops off your back from the lawyer, clothing discounts from the socialite). In addition, you can go on "dates" with your male friends, who also give you bonuses if they like and respect you enough (Little Jacob sells you weapons out of his trunk, Roman sends a cab for you, Packie gives you car bombs, etc).
    • The girlfriends tend to be slightly higher maintenance than other characters, as Niko has to be dressed a certain way and drive a certain type of car (as well as pick the right type of venue) to impress the ladies. And each girlfriend has her unique tastes. Fortunately, however, this is not taken to the extreme levels seen in GTA: San Andreas (you no longer need to have a different fitness level for each girl, for example).
  • Dead Foot Leadfoot: Lots of drivers will accelerate forwards if they're killed. For some reason, some drivers when Niko attempts to carjack them will go full speed into reverse, too. This could be a surprising case of Artificial Brilliance in this game as they might be trying to knock you over after you've opened their door for a longer period of time than you would've been if they drove forward.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In the Revenge ending, Roman reveals that Mallorie, now his wife, is pregnant. If the baby is born a girl, he would name the baby Kate after Kate McReary, Niko's friend (and possibly Love Interest) who Jimmy Pegorino has shot dead at Roman's wedding.
  • Dead Man Honking: This can happen when the driver of a vehicle is killed, whether from being shot or from a particularly nasty collision.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Niko. Deconstructed to some extent, the way he casually mouths off to hardened killers just helps illustrate how little he cares for his own life. Niko will also make snarky comments if a friend calls on the phone wanting to do something while he's on a mission. For example, in the mission where you have to take a female hostage to a new hiding place, someone may call you to ask if you'd like to go to a strip club. Niko will reply that he's currently with a woman and that it would be a bad idea to bring her along. A hilarious moment comes when Niko is driving a truck rigged with explosives and Roman calls him asking if he wants to get drunk with him.
  • Death by Irony: Manny. After doing several missions for him to help "Clean Up The Mean Streets", he confronts one of the bigger drug dealers in the area (Who was already having a mental breakdown now that the cops were closing in on her) and is promptly killed for it. Niko isn't surprised by the death and lampshades the irony in it.
  • Deconstructed Trope: As a character, Niko criticizes the idea behind the series' first 3D protagonist, Claude. The game points out that all you'd get if you were a lone, anonymous hitman working for but unaffiliated to any part of the criminal underworld in a place like Liberty City is a whole load of suffering and the deaths of your loved ones. In so doing, the game manages to subvert Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!.
  • Deconstruction: Of its own series. Rather than show a glamorized portrayal of criminal life like the previous games did, it portrays it realistically, with most of the characters being poor, sociopathic, psychotic, greedy, or otherwise unlikable. Even Niko himself is a hypocrite.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Eddie Low, hoo boy.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Try to approach the warehouse when the Russians are holding Roman hostage by helicopter. You'll be shot by two mooks with rocket launchers. Yes, Rockstar added guards for the roof even though one player in a million would think of trying that.
    • If you're riding around in a fairly crappy car and listening to the radio when you receive a call, you'll hear interference on the radio before your phone rings.
    • Since shooting out tires is the easiest way to win street races, plenty of enterprising players surely tried to do so before the race starts while the opponents are nice and stationary. This cancels the race on account of "sabotage."
    • If a player attempts to enter a part of the game that they have not yet unlocked, they are immediately given a 6-star wanted level, which is the highest wanted level and will bring out FIB Buffaloes and NOOSE Enforcers up the wazoo, as well as bring on two NOOSE Annihilator choppers.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Michelle isn't fooling anybody... except the actual in-game characters, of course. Niko is suspicious towards her, demonstrated when he notices that all of Michelle's furniture still has tags, how closed off he gets when she insists he can tell her anything, and when he thinks she might have drugged his drink on a date.
  • Dialog During Gameplay: The NPCs are chattier this time around, and will often launch into conversations that (often humorously) flesh out the story; these may occur in main or side missions or even during friendship activities or dates. See Narrative Filigree below.
  • Dirty Cop: Francis McReary
  • Disc-One Nuke: The inventory of the gun dealers is limited based on how far you've progressed in the game...but if you know where to look, you can find everything from the Combat Pistol to a Rocket Launcher as soon as you begin.
    • Even if you don't, you can easily get high-end weaponry before even starting the second mission of the game by leaving the starting area to get a maxed-out wanted level to spawn elite officers decked out with weapons you wouldn't normally see until much later in the game. Simply head back to the hallway just outside Roman's apartment and take down as many as possible as they enter until you're either low on health or ammo, and then go inside and sleep which will remove your wanted level and despawn the police, but not any weapons they've dropped on the ground. As long as you don't lose it by getting arrested, the Carbine Rifle alone makes the first act an absolute breeze.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": How Bernie responds whenever he is called by his old name, Florian.
  • The Don: Jimmy Pegorino and Jon Gravelli.
  • Double Consciousness: The missions that present a Friend or Idol Decision and even some instances of Gameplay and Story Segregation meditate on how this trope affects immigrants. Niko is torn between two conflicting worldviews, both with their own virtues and vices. One embodies his native Serbia; he is loyal to his family, but is also trapped in a wartime mindset. The other embodies his immigrancy; he seeks wealth and a new life in America, but believes he can only attain them through crime. Niko doesn't explicitly comment on this, so it's up to the player to decide which one to indulge.
  • Downloadable Content: The DLC here amounts to an entire Expansion Pack.
  • Drunk Driver: The drinking mini-game usually results in this. Well, not always the "driver" part, if you prefer, maybe due to your conscience, or maybe because you gain one wanted level when you pass by any police unit while driving drunk. Or maybe because it's really hard to drive drunk because the car keeps veering from side to side on a straight line, and even with this being a video game you crash so much that you're likely to kill yourself or your companion. The game doesn't help by making walking (and, therefore, getting into a hailed taxi cab) virtually impossible.
    • "Pisswasser! This is beer! Drive drunk off a pier!"
  • Dystopia: They drove the point as high as the then-current situation would allow it. Think about it. This game portrays how America would be if they had taken the PATRIOT Act too seriously:
    • Police officers are allowed to draw a weapon on someone for hitting another person, refusing to pay highway toll, flank roadblocks or trespassing on government property (hell, even shoot them if they feel like it, which would be the case at most times).
    • As mentioned in the police recruitment trailer, the police are allowed to shoot into crowds of peaceful protesters for strolling outside the "Free Speech Zone" (already the fact that "Free Speech Zones" exist is a slap in the face). Furthermore, they are protected by law for - as well as are totally fine with the fact of - running over bystanders to catch even one perpetrator.
    • The police shut down a city the size of New York by erecting roadblocks on every major water crossing, having little more motivation than "fucking terrorists".
    • Terrorists (whether they exist or not) are the highest priority for the police. And not, say, heavily-armed bank robbers and sociopaths.
    • Any personality who isn't Republican, right-wing, capitalist, straight, Francophobic, xenophobic, an American citizen, an American supremacist (or at least a white supremacist), or a gun owner is basically declared anything along the lines of "Dirty Commies" in public.
  • Eagleland: Played with. Niko lands with his mind full of Beautiful beliefs (fed by Roman's somewhat exaggerated letters home), and lands in one of the most extreme Boorish examples in fiction... and would still take America over Serbia any day of the week.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Both Johnny and Luis show up in the main story before their respective DLCs, as does Gay Tony himself.
    • You can also find their records in the police database.
      • You can even find records for Chinatown Wars characters, including Huang Lee.
    • At the start of your first date with Michelle, you get a tutorial of how dates and friend activities work. During the tutorial, you're shown a shot of Little Jacob eating outside of a Burger Shot and Packie McReary detonating a bomb.
    • Manny Escuela, Francis McReary and the Pegorinos are mentioned on Weazel News and the internet long before they are introduced in the story.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: Not for weapons, but cars, particularly gang cars. Crosses over with Power Equals Rarity.
  • The End Is Nigh: There is a street preacher in front of the safehouse in South Bohan, screaming on top of his lungs how everyone is doomed to hell already and should follow him for salvation. No matter how many times you kill him, he always comes back to start yelling at you the moment you step outside.
  • End of an Age: It's made quite clear that the glory days of gangsters are a thing of the past. Most of Niko's employers end up dead or in prison, Packie and Gerald McReary long for decades past when their family ruled the roost, and the law's coming down hard on the whole business. As Michelle/Karen puts it, "Feds are all over it. Crime is done."
  • Erudite Stoner: Little Jacob is always ready to impart a few nuggets of Rasta wisdom to Niko as he simultaneously fills the car with pot smoke.
  • Escort Mission: Most notably the co-op mission "Hangman's NOOSE." The police can't keep up with you if you just fly a helicopter, one spawns roughly 1500 yards from where you start, and the NPC is relatively smart. It's the easiest and fastest way to get multiplayer ranks, which means it's one of the few Escort Missions ever that players seek out repeatedly.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Niko's emails to his mother.
    • All the McReary boys are this to a degree with Packie standing out in particular in taking care of his mother after the death of one of her sons over actively helping Niko with work for Gerry.
    • After some time on the in-game internet it becomes clear that Eddie Low and Joshua Hampton both take this trope to its unhealthy extremes.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Downplayed. If you smash up your car too much in this game, it'll simply stop running, though it'll catch fire and explode if hit with explosives or a large amount of gunfire.
    • This can happen if you hit the rear of another car at a high speed - The car's rear will light up in flames and the driver will come out in flames. Most of the time they'll survive, but the car won't.
  • Evil Pays Better: Subverted by the choice between killing Playboy X or Dwayne Forge. If you kill Playboy X, you get his apartment, Dwayne as one of your friends (whose special ability is to send out some of his fellow gang members to help you), and a bonus outfit that is a Shout-Out to III, while killing Dwayne instead only gets you money. Also, sparing the lives of some people will earn you some bonus missions later on. Played straight in the choice between killing Francis or Derrick, where killing Derrick will earn you a special ability with Francis that will allow you to cancel your wanted level.
    • When it comes to killing Francis or Derrick, you can phone Francis before shooting anyone. Niko will tell Francis he's having second thoughts and Francis will offer Niko a bonus/raise (which ends up being $20,000) to kill Derrick.
  • Exact Words: In certain missions in which Niko has to make a choice, this trope can come into play depending on the choice that is made.
    • Heavily done in "Blood Brothers". Niko is asked by both Francis and Derrick to kill the other, which Niko words in the conversation as "I don't really have a choice. One McReary is having me kill the other". While on the phone with Francis to let him know he is getting in position, Francis tells Niko to be careful not to shoot him. Niko responds by saying he will shoot who he is aiming to kill. Depending on player choice, Niko can be aiming to kill Derrick or Francis.
    • In a similar situation, Playboy X tasks Niko to kill Dwayne. Niko responds by saying he needs to think about it. During that time, Dwayne calls Niko about how he fears Playboy is planning to have him killed and wants Niko to kill Playboy. After some time, Playboy calls Niko for an answer, to which Niko responds that he knows what he is going to do. However, Niko doesn't necessarily say to Playboy exactly what he is going to do, which can be him setting off to kill Playboy instead of Dwayne.
  • Expansion Pack: The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are helping to popularize this on consoles.
  • Expy: The U.L. Paper contact wears horn-rimmed glasses, works for a mysterious shadowy organization, and uses a paper company as a front. Does that sound strangely familiar to you?
    • Also, Niko himself, who very much resembles the sniper Sasha from Behind Enemy Lines.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Dimitri betrays Niko to Mr. Bulgarin, a human trafficker that Niko used to work for who believes that Niko stole money from him.
    • Niko also considers this to have happened when he learns His girlfriend, Michelle, is actually a drug enforcement agent working to recruit him. Considering the somewhat unsavory (not to mention illegal) acts Michelle's agency forces Niko to undertake, one could consider that she becomes a heel.
    • Depending on the player's choices, Niko himself can be seen to do this several times in the game, such as when he decides to kill either Playboy X or Dwayne, both of whom are depicted as allies, and later decides whether to continue siding with Francis and kill Derrick, or kill Francis instead.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Wait around a second after getting on a motorcycle, and Niko will don a helmet. Niko may be a mass-murdering thug, but at least he obeys helmet laws!
    • If you're in a hurry, you can simply jump on the bike and go- you have to be stationary for a while for Niko to don his helmet. If you fall off the bike though, the damage taken is slightly higher.
  • Fiction500 - Cloe Parker's father is said to be worth 950 billion dollars.
  • Film Noir: The game itself has some elements of this trope
  • Final Speech: Nearly all the people you can perform executions on give these before you kill them. Subverted in that you can cut them short by just shooting them.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In 'The Master and the Molotov', on learning of Dimitri's betrayal, Faustin warns Niko that 'he'll turn on you too.' Niko ignores this and kills Faustin. No prizes guessing what Dimitri does to Niko in the next mission.
  • Fish out of Water: Played with. Niko doesn't struggle much to adjust to his life in America but then he keeps getting involved with stuff that isn't that unfamiliar to him either. People do poke fun at his foreigner status (as seen below).
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Having a foreigner as a protagonist, Niko swears in Serbian at certain points during the story. Albanian and Russian gangsters do it too during combat and it's possible to bump into Brazilian civilians that will insult you in Portuguese if you bump into them.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Dimitri Rascalov.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four main characters fit: Niko is melancholic, Roman is sanguine, Brucie is choleric and Little Jacob is phlegmatic.
  • Funny Background Event: More than any previous GTA game, the city depicted is alive with computer-controlled NPCs randomly going about their business. If you're not doing anything, stand in a park or on a street corner and you'll see them engaging in realistic-to-bizarre behavior. You might see a hooker hit up a john, two guys get into a fistfight, a cop chasing a perp, people smoking and throwing litter out of cars, jogging, or practicing tai chi on the beach.
  • Funny Foreigner: Many characters find Niko's accent and mannerisms to be rather hilarious.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Several, most notably the Liberty Sanitation Department, as well as the National Office Of Security Enforcement (NOOSE). Ban Immigration Green Cards Outright Today, ie B.I.G.O.T
  • The Gambling Addict: Roman. It's his gambling debts to The Mafiya, and Niko's efforts to clear them that kick-start the plot of the entire game.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Both finale missions use to suffer from one each:
    • "A Revenger's Tragedy" — after a very long series of chases and shootouts, Niko will automatically jump and grab hold of an enemy helicopter; the helicopter will shake Niko off, and he will land in the water near a boat. In theory. Unfortunately, the fall will occasionally kill Niko, rendering the mission impossible to complete. Later in the chase, Niko will obtain a second helicopter, but once again a bug will result in the helicopter randomly exploding, killing Niko. Neither of these has anything to do with how the player conducts the mission.
    • "Out of Commission" — after a chase between Pegorino in a boat and Niko on a motorcycle, Niko will jump off a ramp and grab hold of an annihilator helicopter flown by Jacob and Roman. However, when trying to make him climb on board, hitting the 'climb' button instead causes the camera angle to change views. So Niko eventually falls off and the mission fails.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: If a major character is killed, they are Only Mostly Dead and will later call Niko from the hospital. Rumor has it that minor girlfriends can be perma-killed, as in San Andreas (may be due to a glitch).
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: At no point in the game are you ever required to date Kate. They will acknowledge that she doesn't know Niko that well while they're driving to Roman's wedding but it doesn't change the gravity to which her possible death is treated.
    • "It's Your Call" is when Niko is actually supposed to get a cell phone from Roman. However, the phone can still be accessed at the start of the game, just with limited capabilities. This is mainly so players can jump immediately into multiplayer.
    • In "Bleed Out" if you choose to throw a loan shark out of a window and into the harbor, Niko will express dismay at having killed a man, despite promising to himself to leave his life of crime behind. Pay no attention to the fact that you as a player may have flattened numerous pedestrians up to that point, or that the other two loan sharks you fought previously might in fact be dead too (the game's stats certainly count them as such).
    • In "Buoys Ahoy", Niko goes off on a rant about how messed up his life in Liberty City has been, mentioning how he has to make some measly money off his dirty work just to survive only for his cousin to waste it all in his gambling addiction. Never mind that by this point this mission takes place very late in the game, Niko has probably amassed quite a fortune with the rewards from all missions all his jobs including the heist from "Three Leaf Clover", there is no way for Roman to take Niko's money for himself - even though he could easily pay off his debts with it.
    • Niko makes a point of not drinking alcohol until his main "mission" (finding and killing the man who betrayed his squad) is complete. Of course, this only applies to cutscenes, as nothing will stop Niko from getting absolutely hammered with friends every other day.
    • In "Three Leaf Clover", Niko can murder Luis Fernando Lopez without failling the mission, which creates a huge plot hole considering that Luis appears alive in "Museum Piece", a later mission, and is also the protagonist of the DLC The Ballad of Gay Tony, which takes place right after "Three Leaf Clover".
  • Gang Up on the Human: Used against the player with alarming regularity. Sometimes it's justified, such as when you're robbing a bank, or recklessly running over/shooting random civilians, other times it's ridiculous. It seems whenever an NPC commits a crime, the cops are really slow to stop them and hilariously can't seem to catch up to criminals fleeing on foot. But the instant you lightly bump into that officer's car, they begin the manhunt, and several other cops within the vicinity who apparently have nothing better to do or no other crimes to stop will drop what they're doing to bring you to justice.
  • Garbage Hideout: At the start of the "Crime and Punishment" mission, Niko finds Roman hiding in a dumpster to escape some criminals following him. He is abducted by Andrei moments later.
  • Genre Shift: This entry marks a pretty sharp step away from the over-the-top action and wandering of the previous games.
  • The Ghost: The LCPD's database has files for most of the leaders of the various criminal organizations in the game. Across three games, there are many of them that you never encounter, such as Giovanni Ancelotti, Willy Valerio, Mary Valvona, Vincent Lupisella, Harvey Noto, and Kenny Petrovic (who only appears in multiplayer missions).
  • A Girl in Every Port: This was a real challenge in this game because each girl required separate attention to keep up their Relationship Values, which meant putting missions or other activities constantly on hold while Niko raced from girlfriend to girlfriend, trying to keep each one happy.
  • Global Ignorance: When talking about Yusuf Amir in the mission Deconstruction for Beginners, Playboy X claims that Dubai is in Africa. He says that Yusuf and he are brothers, and they are from the same part of the world, saying, "Shit, we might be cousins." Niko corrects him by saying that Dubai isn't in Africa.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Federal Investigation Bureau (FIB) and the National Office Of Security Enforcement (NOOSE) are obvious parody stand-ins for the FBI and Department of Homeland Security respectively.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: After the final mission in the "Deal" ending.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ray Bulgarin. He is an antagonist much more influential in Niko Bellic's life than Dimitri.
  • Guide Dang It!: As with past GTA games, achieving full completion of the game (and its rather lame reward) involves completing a number of side-missions and "collectible pick-ups" that are virtually impossible to complete without some sort of map or guide. This includes the locating and shooting of 200 pigeons (aka flying rats), and also locating a number of so-called "random encounters" what involve tracking down individuals located across the map and located only by icons that appear on the radar when the player is nearby (and one, Gracie, doesn't even get an icon and relies on the player deciding to walk - not drive - down a certain street at a certain time). The game slightly averts this by providing maps indicating locations of the pigeons and random encounters on a fictional website included as part of the in-game Internet. However, the website only shows up in an e-mail after you complete the main storyline, and because it's a spam email most players are likely to delete it unless they know beforehand what it is. And the maps provided aren't 100% complete, either. The DLC's rectify the "random encounter" issue by making the icons easier to see on the map and you don't need to be on top of them, either.
    • In the game, Niko can "date" five different women. While four of them can be found through either missions or clues given within gameplay, the fifth (Alex Chilton) is only found by those who spend the time to explore the in-game Internet, including the Craiglist parody Craplist and happen to find (hidden among many messages) a posting by her that invites response - or who learn of her existence through walkthroughs and guides.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Your friends will call and demand that you play minigames with them, and they'll get huffy if you turn them down or don't call them for a while. It is possible to avoid this friendship decline if you accept their offer and then cancel, but this makes no sense and isn't listed in the manual, and if you initiate the outing and then cancel (as opposed to them calling you), you are penalized.
  • Hanging Judge: Judge Grady is the host of the WKTT talk show "Just or Unjust" in which he passes down judgment between two people. However, it's made clear he is very misogynistic, and instead of passing down an actual judgment, he has his clients in a deadly game (feeding two people to lions in one episode, and having two duel in the other).
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Brucie again.
  • Have We Met?: Due to Michelle's betrayal in "The Snow Storm", Niko answers his phone this way.
    Michelle: Hey, Niko, it's me.
    Niko: Yeah, who are you? Can you remind me?
  • Hide Your Children: Potentially lampshaded by a red baby carriage found in the city.
    • That baby carriage has been in every Rockstar game since Manhunt.
    • There are also a number of children's playgrounds visible around the city, as well as a skateboard park, but again, no kids. There are also no buildings in Liberty City or Alderney that are identifiable as elementary or high schools. Given the "kill anyone you want" nature of the game, and in light of things like the Columbine and Sandy Hook shootings, the absence of kids is most likely a major saving grace for the game, though the existence of the playgrounds is a bit eerie.
    • There's also a yard full of broken-down school buses near the Memory Lanes at Firefly Island. There are no drivable school buses, however.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • The Lincoln Tunnel has been renamed The (John Wilkes) Booth Tunnel. Actually counts as two jokes in one, as John's brother Edwin Booth was an extremely famous New Yorker, and naming the real tunnel after him would not have been out of the question.
    • The Empire State Building has been named the Rotterdam Tower. Rotterdam surpassed New York as the world's busiest port in the 1980s.
    • Not only that, but Liberty City's original (colonial) name was "New Rotterdam". It's real-life counterpart's original name was "New Amsterdam" (which, just like Liberty City, was founded by Dutch colonists and then taken over and renamed by Great Britain). And for those who don't know, both Amsterdam and Rotterdam are major Dutch (trading) ports.
      • Also, one street of Liberty City is named after Petrus Stuyvesant. He was the last governor of the New Netherlands (including New Amsterdam) before the aforementioned British takeover.
      • Stuyvesant has real neighborhoods named after him in New York as well. Stuyvesant Heights is one part of the (in)famous Bed-Stuy.
  • Honey Trap: Michelle, aka Karen, although it's implied that the "honey" part is not her intention, and it's possible to progress her storyline without actually having "coffee" with her.
  • Hummer Dinger: Given that most of the game's environment is composed of city streets, any off-road vehicle is practically this. Lampshaded by the "Player Image" stat, which describes the player's image based on the cars the player drives most. Should the player's favorite car be any one of the game's 4-Wheel-Drive SUV's, the corresponding image given will be "Soccer Mom".
    • It should be noted that as in previous games in the series, SUVs start to show their worth in a combat situation. In something of an inversion of Mundane Utility, their size and durability make them excellent protection from gunfire, and their mobility makes them good for getaways. Good to note considering the game averts In-Vehicle Invulnerability.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Players can buy food and drinks from fast-food restaurants, hot dog stands, and vending machines. But unlike its predecessor, Niko, Johnny, and Luis won't starve to death nor gain weight.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Vlad calls a begging drug addict a "dead-beat crack head" only to get in his car a few seconds later and snort a line of coke.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: While the police in previous GTA games weren't difficult to deal with unless you were deliberately trying to piss them off, the cops in this installment are very aggressive from the get-go. You are more likely to be spotted by cops whenever you do any sort of crime in the open because there are more cops walking around and driving compared to the previous games. When trying to elude the police, even if you escape the hot zone, the cops will spawn backup units in your direct path so that they can find you again and resume the chase. Cops will even shoot you on a one-star wanted level.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Incredibly, Niko confesses this to Alex Chilton, who doesn't care. This is after a long speech describing the horror and brutality of war— making it clear just how scarred Niko was.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After making a point of avoiding alcohol throughout the game, Niko orders a vodka in "One Last Thing…" after killing or sparing Darko in "That Special Someone".
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Turismo is the second fastest car in the game, has great handling, has a rear engine making it extremely crash resistant and is easy to get for a sports car whereas the fastest car in the game (The Comet) is so rare it becomes Too Awesome to Use. There is even a spot next to Niko's safehouse in Algonquin where 4 of these are guaranteed to spawn for your storage. When allowed to use your own car for a mission you will find it more than enough for chasing down enemies and escaping the cops. It's also based on the Ferrari 360 as an added bonus.
    • On a somewhat related note; a simple if the somewhat tedious way to resolve the rarity issue of the Comet is to do Stevie's text message car retrievals to the point at which he requests a Comet and (assuming you're not concerned with getting the 'Got The Message' achievement) just leaving it on that request as you can drive the Comet back to your safehouse parking space to save while another will respawn in the same place indefinitely until you've taken it to his garage.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Ricky Gervais and Katt Williams appear in the game, portraying themselves for some stand-up routines in a club in Algonquin.
    • The voice actor for Niko, as well as several of the other voice actors (such as the real-life burlesque performer who voices Bluesy St. John) are also credited for motion capture.
  • In-Scene Title Text: During the opening credits.
  • Insistent Terminology: In "Four Leaf Clover", Derrick insists that he is working with PE-4 to blow off the vault door, and not C4. PE-4 is the British Army equivalent of C4, and virtually the same thing.note 
  • In Spite of a Nail: No matter what option you choose in the penultimate mission (accept the deal with Dimitri for Pegorino, or use the opportunity to kill Dimitri), the two final missions that follow afterward follow the exact same basic premise; Someone Niko loves is killed during Romans wedding, leading to Niko going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Little Jacob tracks down some of the men working for the final Big Bad. The mission begins with a lengthy car chase where you follow these men to the old casino. There you have to fight your way past the big bad's mooks, after which the big bad flees. Another chase ensues during which Niko boards a helicopter piloted by Jacob. The chase ends on Liberty Island, where Niko ultimately kills the big bad. By the end of both missions, Dimitri and Pegorino have both bitten the dust. Really, the only main differences between the two scenarios are who is killed during the wedding (Kate or Roman), and the first part of the final chase (in one scenario it's between Niko in a boat and Dimitri in a helicopter, in the other it's between Niko on a motorcycle and Pegorino in a boat).
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted. A lot of people you shoot on your way will eventually get up after a while.
    • Unless you scored a head shot, in which case almost everyone plays this trope straight. Elizabeta herself does this during a cutscene.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Sometimes averted, such as when you kill a key NPC during a mission, then you have to evade the cops. Sometimes played straight, such as killing a guy before they get too far away in a vehicle, thereby avoiding the long chase sequence you'd otherwise have to do.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Averted in that Niko vaults over obstacles around waist height, and can grab onto the edge of and pull himself up anything higher.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Jacob and Niko. Lampshaded when Elizabeta calls Niko and tells him that Jacob is there and asks him to report to her immediately since she heard that apparently, he can actually understand Jacob.
    • Also Jacob and Badman, who is so unintelligible even Niko can't understand him and needs Jacob to translate.
  • Interface Screw: Whenever you get drunk. It's so extreme that it's an effort to make Niko take even a single step forward without falling over. To make matters worse, try driving in this state (that is, if you don't mind getting a wanted level for this — and if you think driving is hard, try evasive driving). The game encourages you to hail a taxi in this circumstance, but that's enough of a challenge in itself, and you're just as likely to end up under the cab as inside it.
  • Interface Spoiler: The achievement/trophy for beating the Libertonian mission is "Impossible Trinity." When Johnny, your partner for that mission, was announced as the lead character for The Lost and Damned, many gamers immediately recognized that Luis would be the PC in the 2nd expansion as he was the only character from that mission whose fate was ambiguous. They were proven correct.
  • Intoxication Mechanic: Drinking alcohol renders Niko drunk and difficult to control. Attempting to drive while under the influence is a good way to attract the police's attention.
  • Irish Explosives Expert: Packie Mc Reary, Nico's main contact in the Irish Mob.
  • Irony: A very dark variety, as well. If you follow Roman's advice and try to reconcile with Dimitri at the end and take the Deal ending, Dimitri ends up betraying you again and kills Roman. If instead you follow Kate's advice not to take the deal and instead decide to take revenge on Dimitri, Kate is shot in a drive-by.
  • The Irish Mob: Packie, Derrick, and Gerry McReary, as well as their associate Michael Keane are gangsters from a family past its glory days. Their other brother Francis is the LCPD's deputy police commissioner, and distances himself from them to preserve his reputation. Their youngest, Kate turns a blind eye to all of them, and busies herself by taking care of their aging mother, and going out with Niko.
  • Ironic Echo: The page quote. Roman greets his cousin with the line "Welcome to America!" At the very beginning of the game. Niko repeats these words to Dimitri, just before you kill him if you go with the "Deal" mission and Roman gets killed.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): Broker, not Brooklyn, Dukes not Queens, Middle Park not Central Park, Algonquin, not Manhattannote . Alderney for New Jersey and Guernsey as a nickname for it (Alderney and Guernsey are neighboring islands to "old" Jersey), the Humboldt River instead of the Hudson, Tudor instead of Elizabeth county (IRL named for a Tudor-era ruler), Hove Beach, instead of Brighton Beach (Brighton and Hove are English towns that share a soccer team), Booth Tunnel for the Lincoln, Happiness Island instead of Liberty, and the Rotterdam Tower instead of the Empire State Building... is there anything in Liberty City that doesn't follow this trope?
  • Joisey: The island of Alderney.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Niko himself was eventually revealed to be a war criminal out to kill another war criminal. It is also implied that he had committed more horrific acts before the game started.
  • Joke Car: The Dilettante hybrid hatchback, which primarily exists to poke fun at compact hybrid cars marketed to America during the late-2000s. In addition to its undesirable outward look, the car's performance and durability are so weak that its $40k price tag seems more like a ripoff.
  • Karma Houdini: Bulgarin just disappears after the mission Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend and is never seen or fought again in the main game. Eventually subverted when he turns out to be the Big Bad of The Ballad of Gay Tony. Also, Niko himself if you just decided to mass murder. Even if you don't do that, his murders of cops and to a lesser extent gang members would be rather horrendous if they happened in real life.
    • Michelle even doesn't get punished after she has betrayed Niko
  • Karmic Death: When Elizabeta's drug ring is about to get busted in the opening cutscene of "Have a Heart", Manny shows up with his TV crew to do what he does best, manipulate the situation to make himself look good. Elizabeta finally snaps and gives Manny and his cameraman a faceful of lead for their troubles.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Packie and Kate openly lament the death of one of their brothers either Francis or Derrick, all the while being kept ignorant of the fact that Niko is the one who killed him. This bites hard considering you end up playing The Confidant to both of them during Friendship Activities/Dates, and they talk at length about their relationship with him.
  • Knee-capping: In the Revenge ending, Niko shoots Dimitri in the knees before finishing him off with a shot to the head.

    L - Z 
  • The Lancer: Over the course of the story, three characters could be considered to be Niko's Lancer: Roman, Little Jacob, and Packie. All three help Niko through Liberty City and are a close ally to him through his journey, and all three provide emotional support at times when he needs it.
  • Large Ham: Brucie Kibbutz and Roman of course, on the talk show "The Men's Room" Bas Rutten, an in-game parody of himself, manages to top even Brucie in over the top intensity and roid induced aggression.
  • Lethal Joke Car: The Blista Compact is a tiny, two-door hatchback that is over twenty years old. Its handling and acceleration, however, are far better than most other vehicles and even come close to rivaling the capabilities of more expensive, high-end sports cars.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: On some of the missions, a perfectly acceptable solution is to just call the police and let them shoot the bad guys for you. For example, one Most Wanted mission has you kill a gang that's hanging around an alley with a lot of cover. Unless you are really good at gunfighting, this can be a tricky mission. So, shoot a few cops, take their police cruiser, trigger the mission on its computer, and train the police officers right into the same alley. Alternatively, you can just call 911 and ask for the police. You can summon several cars depending on where you are calling them to. Some missions, however, prevent you from calling the cops as the operator tells you that all the lines are conveniently busy.
    • Once you reach a high enough friendship level with one of the characters, Dwayne, you can ask him to send a couple of gunmen to back you up. Although a few missions disable this feature intentionally when it comes to the gang shootout mentioned above, and numerous other missions where Niko is outnumbered, the extra firepower can be a lifesaver.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Despite the in-game media's numerous references to the Hummer Dinger phenomenon, you will find SUVs to be a very valuable part of your gameplay, particularly in combat, since In-Vehicle Invulnerability has been averted. The best SUVs sport large frames that will protect you from gunfire and even make them reliable as Deployable Cover, while retaining speed and handling for a quick getaway.
    • Anything used by NOOSE qualifies as this. The Enforcer in particular is a truck that not only carries gun-toting soldiers but also drives at an immense speed and slams right through any opposition, including you!
    • The Huntley Sport fulfills the Hard-Hitting Speedster subcategory, with the fastest speed on an SUV and the ability to make perfect drifts; the gang and NOOSE variants of the Patriot are more of Fast-Moving Big Bruisers, being the largest SUVs in the game; while the Cavalcade fills the middle ground between the two.
    • The Ballad of Gay Tony introduces the Serrano, a tuned SUV that manages to outpace even the Huntley Sport, putting it on par with some of the game's sports cars.
    • The better choppers introduced in The Lost and Damned fill this role, particularly Johnny's Hexer and Billy's Revenant, because they possess the speed and acceleration to match the lower-end sportbikes, but pack enough weight to keep the player planted in a crash, or even bat cars out of the way.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: After she's arrested and judged, Elizabeta Torres is sentenced to 300 years of imprisonment for thirty charges (ten years each) of cocaine distribution. Lampshaded by her voicemail, where she says she can't answer the messages before the end of her prison sentence, and also by The Liberty Tree which mentions such sentence as a record for the Liberty City criminal world.
  • MacGuffin: A bag of diamonds and a large load of heroin drive much of the plot of all three games.
  • Made of Iron: Due to the more accurate physics of the game, Niko's ability to walk away from some things is pretty remarkable (like being hurled through the windshield in a crash, with the only thing stopping him being wrapped around the post of a gas station awning).
    • In fact, there's very little that will instantly kill a player character in this game. Pretty much the only things that cause instant death are unimpeded drops from multiple stories, sudden changes of direction (like getting hit by a car or train), having something heavy land on you, point-blank explosions, getting shot in the head, and touching the rotors of a moving helicopter.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: The police scanner constructs sentences from single words, but also has complete pre-scripted speech. Gaps between words are easily dismissed due to the nature of radio. There is also a variety of phrases to make chatter sound less mechanical (and plenty of sentences not used for the player, such as running a red light.)
  • The Mafia: They show up later in the game, and (unlike their depiction in the III' era) are depicted as weak and racked by infighting. Ultimately, Dimitri plays them for fools.
  • The Mafiya: Mikhail Faustin is their top guy in Liberty City, with Dimitri Rascalov as his second-in-command. Eventually, Dimitri has Niko kill Mikhail and wastes no time taking his place.
  • Manly Gay: Brucie. Even though he'll never admit it.
    • Is that what "genetically different" means?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Dimitri Rascalov. With a name like that, is it any surprise he stabs you in the back? Especially since it seems to be a nod to Raskolnikov.
    • Niko Bellic, "Niko" means "no-one" or something close in many Balkan dialects, while "Bellic-" is a Latin stem for things related to war; i.e., bellicose.
  • Mighty Glacier: The game and its expansions give you some slow, but very combat-capable vehicles to play with.
  • Ballad's Awesome Personnel Carrier, the "APC", deserves special mention. Its top speed is 69 kph and getting anywhere with it takes quite a bit of patience, but its nigh-impregnable armor and automatic cannon more than make up for these drawbacks.
  • Among the bikes, most of the American choppers like the Freeway and the Zombie, in particular, fill this role, as they trade speed and acceleration for handling and weight, which allows the player to keep mounted in collisions.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Florian/Bernie, to the point where his hands almost never go below his belt line.
  • Moe Greene Special: A couple of characters go down this way. One is lampshaded by a back-alley organ dealer, who complains about it since eyes can fetch a good price...
  • Money Dumb: Most missions are caused by Roman, Niko Bellic's cousin, squandering his money on gambling.
  • Mood Whiplash: Niko Bellic is the most serious and tragic character in the series so far. At the same time, the game is still full of juvenile humor which can be considered out-of-place for a game with a storyline this serious. Niko reminiscing about the horrors of war in the Balkans doesn't go well with there being an internet cafe named TW@ around the corner.
  • Morale Mechanic: The game featured lots of enemies that surrender when reduced to a single segment of health, somewhere between 5% and 10% of their total health.
  • Morality Pet: Roman and Kate McReary for Niko, to a very limited degree.
  • Morton's Fork: The deal with Dimitri. Take the deal, and Kate leaves you and Roman gets killed. Instead opt to kill Dimitri, and Kate gets killed in a drive-by. You're screwed either way and true to the game's Darker and Edgier tone, that's the way it has to be.
  • Mugging the Monster: Serial Killer Eddie Low, the terror of Liberty City (body count: a dozen or so) attacks Niko Bellic, freelancer "problem solver" (body count: a couple hundred at minimum). This action results in Eddie's swift death.
    • Sometimes used if you crash into a random civilian's car, and they're stupid enough to run to your car, pull you out, and then attack you. Shooting at them will usually cause them to flee, but some civilians may be armed and will fire back at you. Of course, they're still no match for you.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: If you choose to till Darko,Niko will shoot him twelve times-once for every soldier that died from Darko's betrayal.
  • My Car Hates Me: If you damage your car's engine enough it'll stall and become hard to start (eventually impossible), causing Niko to implore it to start in increasingly frustrated tones.
    • In the opening cutscene of 'No.1', the car Brucie was going to have Niko use in the race fails to start, forcing the two to take a car from one of Brucie's friends.
  • Mythology Gag: At one point, Vlad greets Niko by doing the gun-finger gesture and going "Bang, you are dead!" This was how Vladimir greeted Max Payne in the first game.
  • Narrative Filigree: Setting aside the fact that this is a sandbox game, and thus is expected to have such material, the aforementioned trope is the (possibly only) appeal of the much-maligned friend activities/dates. Over the course of said activities/dates, Niko will engage in (often humorous) conversation with his friends/girlfriends, fleshing out not just the world and their characterizations, but his own as well.
  • New York Is Only Manhattan: Averted here, where every borough except Staten Island and even part of New Jersey (In the form of Alderney), is represented in its Liberty City.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Well, the 2000s actually.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Gubernatorial candidate Michael Graves is a fairly obvious Expy of Fred Thompson - the line about his "many bit parts on television shows" is a dead giveaway.
    • Radio talk show host Richard Bastion is an obvious Rush Limbaugh parody, and Just or Unjust's Judge Grady is based on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
    • Tom Goldberg, the lawyer Francis McReary orders Niko to assassinate is roughly based off Jack Thompson, a lawyer, and anti-violent video game activist. Goldberg even says Thompson's famous quote: "Guns don't kill people, video games do." when he's threatened by Niko.
    • The Statue of Happiness's face bears a striking to Hillary Clinton, ironically as instead of a torch the statue is holding up a steaming hot beverage meant to reference a particular controversy of the GTA series which Hillary was an activist against.
  • No Fair Cheating: Attempting to prematurely access a part of the game you're not supposed to go to earns the player a 6-star wanted level, which brings the worst that NOOSE and FIB can send at you out when you trigger it.
  • No Indoor Voice: Brucie. If he yelled while speaking personally, that might not have been much of a problem, but he yells even while on the phone with you.
  • No Party Given: Despite the game's extensive mockery of the American Political System, the word "Democrat" is never used, and the only use of "Republican" is in the title of the show Republican Space Rangers. However, it can be inferred that Governatorial candidate John Hunter and Liberty City mayor Julio Ochoa are Democrats, while deputy mayor Bryce Dawkins, Governatorial candidate Michael Graves, and President Joe Lawton are Republicans.
    • The word "Democrat" is actually used once in-game, though it's kind of out of the way. If you search for the site, you will be brought to a site that shows where all the pigeons, text-order cars, hidden armor, health, and weapons are. Under the comments for the health, one states something to the effect of "The health was hidden by the Republicans for when the Democrats give everyone free health care."
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • When Niko confronts Darko and asks him why he killed their army unit for only $1,000, Darko turns the tables and asks Niko how much he charges to kill someone. (Early in the game? $500. Though that was per person.)
    • Niko essentially says this to Dwayne when they first meet, telling him "You remind me of me."
    • Francis McReary says, "I see a lot of myself in you," while his brother Derrick mumbles, "We're the same…"
  • Not Worth Killing: Played straight when the cutscene first introduces Florian/Bernie. Niko seems to take pity on him instead, and later on befriends him, more or less. Can be played straight with some other NPC's, such as Dwayne's ex, or Ivan in one of the early missions. And later with Darko Brevic, the man who Niko finds out was the real culprit in selling out and getting many of their friends executed. However, you can also kill him should you choose so.
  • Oedipus Complex: News reports will occasionally talk about an Enfant Terrible named Joshua Hampton who has this mindset.
  • One-Man Army: Par for the course for the series. There's even an achievement called "One Man Army" for surviving five minutes on a six-star Wanted level.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted.
    • The leader of The Lost Biker gang is Johnny Klebitz and one of Ray Boccino's associates is named Johnny Spaz.
    • And that includes Ray Boccino and Ray Bulgarin as well.
  • Only Sane Man: Dimitri, as opposed to Mikhail's Ax-Crazy.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Played straight (like in San Andreas), but also subverted: no matter how many times you ask, Kate will never sleep with you.
  • Orphaned Punchline: At the beginning of "Waste Not Want Knots", courtesy of Packie.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Discounting Michelle, the 3 girlfriends Niko can meet all overshadow Kate McReary, who the writers push as Niko's main Love Interest.
    • Carmen Ortiz is a cute, Hispanic bisexual nymphomaniac who also can heal non-gunshot wounds over the phone if your relationship is high enough.
    • Kiki Jenkins is otherwise a very down-to-earth woman, but she is jealous to the point of randomly accusing Niko of cheating on her, and can even randomly call and ask if he's being faithful. If Niko is dating someone else, she can be seen stalking Niko during dates and his car may be damaged if the date takes him away from it. She can also remove a certain amount of wanted stars if called.
    • Alex Chilton is a stereotypical Rich Bitch, who keeps a blog where she writes about the dates Niko takes her on. She can also give him a temporary 50% discount on all clothing stores if the relationship is high enough.
  • Parking Problems: Very subtly. Cars spawning in a parking lot seldom spawn directly within the lines of a parking stall. The developers could've been too lazy to line the cars up with the stalls, but knowing Rockstar it's more likely an extremely subtle way of mocking American drivers.
  • Pedo Hunt: "Little Lacey Surprise Pageant" is a Schmuck Bait site which the LCPD uses to lure in people searching for kiddie porn on the in-game internet. Visiting it gives you a 5 star wanted level.
    Site warning: Your IP address has been cataloged and an investigator will contact you soon. We See It All. We Know It All.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Thanks to what seems to be a bug, you can sometimes restart a broken-down car by kicking the front bumper.
  • Pimped-Out Car: The aforementioned changes to the spawning patterns of gang cars in this game means that, occasionally, you'll find extensively modified versions of ordinary cars driven by gang members. However, some of them may slip into Rice Burner territory.
    • Played very straight by the sport sedans, particularly the Korean Mob's Sultan and The Mafia's Sentinel. Both had excellent top speed, acceleration, and handling for their class to begin with, but the gangs' modifications put them on near-sports car level.
    • Some of the slower, more lumbering SUVs manage to be elevated beyond Hummer Dinger status through gang modifications, despite becoming more ostentatious. These include The Mafiya's Rebla and the North Holland Hustlers' Patriot, which gets a much-needed boost in top speed and acceleration.
    • Unfortunately, some of these modifications are purely cosmetic. Especially disappointing are the Spanish Lords' fleet of cars, which is composed of the Cavalcade and the Primo. The former is already an excellent SUV, but its only modifications are a custom paint job with gold trim and a sound system in the trunk. The latter is a terrible outdated sedan, now equipped with a useless spoiler and body kit.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: The kidnapping of Gracie Ancelotti.
  • Plotline Death: The only way anyone stays dead permanently.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In the cutscene that kicks off the Revenge mission/ending, where Pegorino tells Niko about the upcoming deal with Dimitri, Niko never bothers to explain to Pegorino the dangers of doing business with Dimitri beyond an off-hand remark that "he and I have history." That oversight leads to a chain of events that culminates in Kate getting killed.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Not only is Vladivostok FM DJ Ruslana a real person playing herself (though it can sometimes be hard to believe given her incredibly weird antics), she's actually one of the biggest pop stars to ever come down the pike in her native Ukraine. She won the 2004 Eurovision song contest with her hit single "Wild Dances" (which is featured on the game's soundtrack) and later played a significant role in the Euromaidan revolution that overthrew Yanukovych/Azarov government.
  • Power Up Letdown: Some of the abilities unlocked by keeping Relationship Values up with friends and girlfriends come off as this. Packie's car bomb is rarely useful outside of a few missions that allow you an open window to approach your target's car instead of the usual obligatory Chase Scene. Even more egregious is Alex's ability to give you a discount on the clothes you buy, especially when compared to other girlfriends' abilities like Carmen giving you medical advice or Kiki clearing your Wanted Meter.
    • Also, some may view the reward for 100% Completion, which is simply removing the maximum limit on ammo capacity as more than a bit of a letdown. Not that it isn't useful, but considering that it's a reward for completing the game, it isn't much. Also, saving and reloading the game causes all the ammo you collected over the original limit to disappear.
    • On the other hand, Dwayne's ability to provide two gunmen as backup, although not always allowed by missions, is an undeniable life-safer on numerous occasions where Niko has to face off against multiple targets.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Played pretty straight. Getting a headshot will result in a spray of blood proportionate to the weapon's damage, but no visible damage to the head itself.
  • Prison Rape: Lampshaded. Niko claims that the "Prison Bitch" is a uniquely American concept.
  • Production Foreshadowing: There is a ride at the closed Amusement Park in south Broker that is set against a backdrop detailing the last few scenes in the GTA V trailer.
  • Professional Killer: Niko explicitly refers to himself as a hitman. While the player can obtain top-of-the-line weaponry for him, dress him up in fancy suits, have him acquire high-performance sports cars, and let him juggle up to four beautiful girlfriends, at the end of the game, Niko is still a largely-anonymous, lonely, unfulfilled and ultimately irrelevant man just trying to survive, mostly by killing for a living.
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: Expanding on previous games, GTA IV brought in a new engine, a much larger Liberty City, and a darker, more realistic storyline (insofar as one man surviving multiple gunfights against multiple opponents all by himself is at all realistic).
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Niko will do any job as long as it pays well, with a 0% 1% chance of him turning on you. Unless you try to hurt his cousin.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Sometimes when Niko is aiming a weapon at a civilian, he will do this when warning them.
    Niko Bellic: I have a very, short, fuse...
    Niko Bellic: I'm not. Having. A good day.
  • Punk in the Trunk:
    • At the start of the "Roman's Sorrow" mission, Niko finds Roman stuck in the trunk of his own taxi. He hid there to escape the Russians, who are after him due to the events of the previous mission, "Russian Revolution".
    • The dead body variety is used in "Have a Heart", where Niko has to drive a car with the corpses of Manny Escuela and Jay Hamilton in the trunk to the doctor.
    • In the mission "She's a Keeper", Niko has to move Gracie Ancelotti from one safe house to another, and insists she is transported in the trunk of his car considering the fight she put up the last time he had to transport her.
  • Punny Name: The club Mikhail frequents is named Perestroika. As in Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost.
  • Put on a Bus: Appears to happen to Badman, who is introduced as a somewhat major character, and also appears as a "random encounter" but vanishes from the narrative early on. During a friendship outing, Little Jacob appears to make some reference to what happened to Badman, but his accent is so unintelligible, it's hard to tell.
    • Real Badman does appear in Roman's wedding, alongside Little Jacob, so they were still on good terms towards the end of the game.
    • Also happens to Michelle/Karen, who vanishes from the story soon after the United Liberty Paper mission strand begins.
  • The Queenpin: Mary Valvona is the boss of the Pavano family, though she could be a patsy for Arthur Zappulla, the current consigliere. In real life, the American Mafia has always been a men-only criminal entity. Females have only stayed as associates or mistresses for made men.
  • The Rashomon: Several of the missions, most notably the Libertonian Shootout which features in the main game and both expansions as you play it from the three playable characters' different perspectives.
  • Real Is Brown: VERY brown. Sometimes it gets so bad that the entire world gets whitewashed. It should be noted, though, that NYC actually does look that way during certain times of day/seasons. The sunsets are particularly true-to-life. If you don't like this, you can turn the saturation all the way up, which adds a good deal of color to the game.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: In the tradition set by San Andreas, the few dealings Niko has with high government officials are the few times he doesn't get screwed over. His contact at U.L. Paper has him do a couple of jobs, including a Best Level Ever, and rewards him by finally setting up a meeting with the person he came to America to finally find all along as a farewell present.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mikhail is the hot-headed, impulsive Red Oni and Dimitri is the cool-headed, plan-making Blue Oni who tries to keep Mikhail from doing anything too stupid and/or ignoring his orders if it would be profitable to do so.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Played with in relation to 'Paper Trail'. In that mission, Niko and Jacob, acting on the orders of the UL Paper people, chase down a Russian-piloted helicopter and shoot it down. In the news reports following this, however, the government claims, in quite a silly cover-up, that the crash of the Russian-piloted chopper was an accident and that the sightings of the helicopter the protagonists were in were 'hysterical hallunications'.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: In April 2018 (ten years after the original release), an update removed a number of different songs from the game, with Vladivostok FM being hit the hardest, losing most of its songs, including the very first song you hear in the game.
  • Revenge Is Sweet: When choosing the choice of either taking revenge on Dimitri Rascalov for being a backstabber who's tried to kill him throughout the game or forgiving him for the sake of a deal, Niko is noticeably happier if he takes revenge rather than the deal, with the latter option leaving Niko feeling angry at himself.
  • Reverse Escort Mission: After befriending Dwayne, you can call some guys to escort you.
  • Rich Bitch: Alex Chilton, who is a clear Take That! at Carrie Bradshaw. Not to mention Cloe Parker and Gracie Ancelotti (while her name is a swipe at Paris Hilton).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Hostile Negotiation, as well as either possible final mission against Dimitri in the Deal ending or Jimmy Pegorino in the Revenge ending (Dimitri having been taken out two missions earlier in another Roaring Rampage of Revenge).
  • Route Boss: The final target in the main story is determined by the decision made for an earlier mission on whether or not to work with Dimitri. If the deal is chosen, Dimitri has Roman killed, and he betrays and kills Pegorino, leaving him as Niko's final target. If Niko chooses to just kill him and not take the deal, Pegorino kills Kate, making him the last big guy Niko guns down.
  • Rule of Cool: One of the stunt jumps requires you to clear the entire Hudson River.
  • Running Gag: Niko teasing Brucie about his testicles. In one case when he hears Brucie's reaction after he fails an Exotic Export mission, Niko says, "Brucie, are your balls OK? You sounded real mad."
  • Ruritania: The actual locations never appear in-game, but there are frequent references made to them, and many of the main characters are from there (Dimitri Rascalov and the Faustins are from Russia, Niko and Roman Bellic are Serbian, and the Albanians are one of the major gangs).
  • Russian Reversal: In "The Holland Play", if you have Niko chase Playboy X into an alleyway, Playboy tells him that he "changed the game" due to his prolific gang career. Niko retorts that the game changed Playboy himself instead, before shooting Playboy dead.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: The UL Paper Company man forces Michelle to go undercover and maintain a relationship with Niko on the threat of prison.
  • Scary Black Man: The majority of black men Niko meets are decidedly non-scary (consisting of a Rastafarian pot dealer, a self-absorbed rapper, and a rich and somewhat weaselly player/Playboy), but Ving Rhames ringer Dwayne Forge is quietly terrifying when he's not in the grips of depression.
    • Lil' Jacob's friend Badman might also qualify, due to being clearly unstable and nearly impossible to understand, especially when he's agitated (which is often). He even "introduces" himself by threatening Niko with a box cutter.
  • Scenery Porn: Liberty City is simply gorgeous to look at, with incredible attention to detail, even in areas where missions would never take you. This is one game where spending time just looking around (preferably on foot) is a worthwhile pastime. Some of the most remarkable areas to view include Happiness Island, the observation level of the Rotterdam Tower, and the game's version of Times Square, which is very reminiscent of the real place (do not complete playing this game without visiting Star Junction at night during good weather and checking out all the signs).
    • It looks even better in the DLC The Ballad of Gay Tony due to that game's richer color palette. Compare the observation deck of the Rotterdam Tower in the DLC with the rather drab version in the main game.
    • Rockstar Games even went so far as to provide a feature to the GTA IV website, allowing people to explore the city in the same style as Google Street View.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The missions vary wildly in difficulty, with challenging ones being followed by others that are mind-numbingly easy and vice versa. For example, the level "Holland Nights", wildly agreed to be pretty tough on a first playthrough, forces you to take on waves of thugs as you pursue the leader through a building and only concludes once the player evades the police with a Three-Star Wanted Level. The mission immediately after, "Lure", only requires the player to snipe a single target.
  • Schmuck Bait: The "Little Lacy Pageant" website. Attempting to access this sting site results in a police message informing you that your IP address has been cataloged and they will contact you; you are then given a 5-star wanted level, the next highest in the game after 6-star, meaning the cops will stop short of throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you.
  • Scripted Event: Several car chases you have to do are scripted to play out the exact same way every time. This means that if a target you are chasing isn't supposed to be killed just yet, their car will be immune to bullets and any car that they smash into will go flying while the chaser's car is perfectly fine since the scripted event isn't finished (this can look silly if the target is driving a sports car and they make an SUV flip over). The enemy driver will also have superior handling and will always stay ahead of you no matter how fast you are going until the game gives the all-clear to kill the target. Likewise, other drivers that are a part of the scene will be scripted to drive a certain way every single time and they are movable brick walls, which means they can't get damaged or pushed, but you crash into them can seriously wreck your car.
  • Searching the Stalls: One mission climaxes with a guy you're chasing running in the bathroom and hiding. You have to shoot open stall after stall to get him.
  • Serial Killer: Eddie Low. Somewhat parodied in that, despite the serial killer plotline taking up a huge chunk of the game's backstory and in-game news, it actually has no relevance to the main plot other than a couple of short, optional encounters, and Eddie's handful of murders pale in comparison to the hundreds of (relatively) unreported gangland killings caused by Niko alone (the strip club massacre, anyone?).
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Jimmy Gestapo, the DJ for the punk station Liberty City Hardcore, rants at length about the extremely hard-drinking, hard-partying lifestyle that he feels punk should be. Also, Iggy Pop, the DJ for the classic rock station Liberty Rock Radio, talks about how a lot of the best music was made on drugs, and bemoans the fact that fewer rockers nowadays use them.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: A lighter example in the form of the sub-plots, namely, the whole diamond debacle, which was a massive waste of time for pretty much everyone involved. Multiple parties attempt to get the diamonds for themselves, and eventually, some mook decides to drop the diamonds into a passing dump truck out of spite, so nobody gets it since he's bound to die anyway. Niko and Packie discuss how it all went to shambles afterward, and eventually decide the diamonds are probably better off in landfill anyway since they seem to be incredibly bad luck... However, in a stroke of irony, in The Ballad of Gay Tony, it's Jerry Kapowitz, a local homeless, who manages to get his hands on them and end up with the spoils, even though he was not involved in any way, and never even knew of their existence!
  • Shaving Is Science: Parodied with ads for the "Excelsior Extreme 9," a razor with nine blades. When seen on billboards, the thing looks like it will chew your face right off.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Occurs when an explosive (or a car) detonates close to you, even if it does no damage.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Niko hints at his backstory through conversations. Amongst other things:
    • He found his aunt raped and killed and saw eight of his closest friends lying dead in a ditch.
    • He once entered a village to find 50 children all neatly lined up against a church - all dead, with their hands chopped off.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: Roman gets kidnapped and you must rescue him, you finally find him used as a hostage by a Russian mobster. You must carefully aim for the Russian's head to free him.
  • Shout-Out: All on this page.
  • Shown Their Work: Architecturally and visually, the resemblance of Liberty City to New York ranges from accurate to uncanny. Likewise, the careful attention paid to accurately represent some of New York's more obscure landmarks and neighborhoods, especially in the outer boroughs, takes Liberty City above and beyond as an NYC analog.
  • Show Within a Show: Or rather, shows; you can actually watch TV shows in this game.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Derrick and Francis McReary.
  • Sickbed Slaying: In "Flatline", Jimmy tasks you with killing an underling that has been exposed as a police informant. The target is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, and Niko gets in by disguising himself as a nurse. You can either dispatch the target with a shot to the head or disconnect his life support and cause him to asphyxiate.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Roman's Arab cab driver absolutely despises Niko as a freeloader, and will spend the length of the ride berating you.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The story is ultimately a commentary on the concept of The American Dream. Niko repeatedly points out the corruption in Liberty City and how it contrasts with the idealistic image America usually portrays itself as. But at the same there is an underlying message about how people can get a new life in America and that, while people in America can fail, they can also achieve greater individual success than in other countries, which Niko grudgingly comes to accept, making the whole thing seem optimistic overall. Then the Downer Ending happens and the game goes crashing into the cynical side.
  • Smug Snake: Dimitri Rascalov. Also, Ray Boccino, who tries to be a Chessmaster and fails miserably.
    Niko: He's a rat doing an impression of a man.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Niko won't go out of his way to hurt innocents (unless the player makes him do it), but he will do morally questionable things to earn money or to keep his family safe.
  • Split Personality: Bernie. Or Florian, at certain moments.
    Bernie (to Niko): You understand me! Both of me!
  • The Starscream: Seems to be a recurring theme throughout the game. Besides eventual Big Bad Dimitri Rascalov, you've got Playboy X, Francis McReary, and Ray Boccino.
  • State Sec: NOOSE note ; though they are based on the Department of Homeland Security, which is supposedly not this in Real Life, they fit this trope in and because of the game's context. While serving as the game's high-level law enforcement response, it is also mentioned that they control customs and immigration matters, and were responsible for the city-wide lockdown early in the story, hinting at their political power.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: At one point, the player is given the option of killing Playboy X or Dwayne, but the game heavily favors killing Playboy X. Doing so gets Niko his safehouse, a bonus outfit based on Claude's from Grand Theft Auto III, and the ability to participate in friend activities with Dwayne and by extension, unlock his friend ability. Killing Dwayne, on the other hand, not only permanently gates off these rewards from you, all you get is some money for your troubles, and the game goes out its way to make you feel like a dick, with Playboy X even refusing to associate himself with Niko anymore even though he ordered the hit in the first place.
  • Super Drowning Skills: AI NPCs shoved into the water will tread water for a few seconds, then abruptly drown (despite their heads remaining above water the entire time). Averted, of course, by Niko.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Mob boss Jimmy Pegorino's main complaint throughout the story. Over the course of the last several missions, it becomes clear that Jimmy himself isn't above this either.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The government's frankly ridiculous cover-up for Niko and Jacob's antics in 'Paper Trail.'
  • Switch to English: Very early in the game, Niko tries to speak to his cousin Roman in Serbian. Roman switches to English because he has not spoken Serbian for so long that he has forgotten it.
  • Tag Line: "What does the American dream mean today?"
  • Take Cover!: The first GTA game to introduce a formal cover system. Aside from taking refuge behind walls and barriers, you can also use vehicles as cover, though you may want to be cautious about doing so.
  • Take Over the City: Averted, and surprisingly so, considering how the installments that directly preceded it played out. At the end of the game, Niko is no better off, influence-wise, save for being responsible for the decline of two criminal organizations. Some would even say he's worse off by the game's ending no matter which one you choose.
  • Take That!: The entire game is one huge middle finger against elements of America - primarily the right-wing, though the developers do get in a few shots against the left as well.
    • A couple are taken at Jack Thompson, a lawyer famous for his anti-violent video game activism including campaigning against the Grand Theft Auto series. Tom Goldberg, the lawyer Francis McReary orders Niko to assassinate in "Final Interview" is said to be based on Thompson. He even says Thompson's famous "Guns don't kill people, video games do." line when he's threatened by Niko. Another reference to Thompson is made in the offices of "Tom Jackson, Attorney at Law" in Alderney which was converted into a video games store.
  • Take Your Time: In a lot of missions, you can wander away from the action to go buy new guns, armor, and health and then return to continue the fight later.
    • Inverted, however, by a few missions that have clearly defined time limits and/or fail if you stray too far from the target.
    • Humorously averted early in the game where you're given a choice between meeting Michelle for a date and saving Roman from some Albanian thugs. If you go to Michelle, you'll get a phone call from Roman, who's livid that Niko chose a girl over his cousin. You'll then have to pick him up from the hospital. Of course, afterward, you'll get another phone call from Roman that he's in trouble again, and you'll be able to do the mission normally.
  • Tear Off Your Face: If the player calls Dimitri during the 'Hostile Negotiation' mission, Niko threatens to cut his face off and "hang it on my wall to remind me what a lying, cheating, treacherous scumbag looks like."
  • Tempting Fate: On the way to the Bank of Liberty during the "Three Leaf Clover" mission, Packie and Derrick get into an argument, leading Niko to tell them, "If you guys can stop arguing for a few minutes then I think we might be okay." Of course, during the heist, Packie and Derrick argue again, distracting them from their crowd control and allowing Eugene to kill Michael.
  • Theme Naming: The east-to-west streets in Liberty City's version of Manhattan are named alphabetically (from south to north) after various chemical elements or minerals, similarly to how streets are named numerically in NYC. For example, the south-most road is Amethyst Street, the next one up is Barium Street, and this is followed by Calcium Street. This goes all the way up to Xenotime Street.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: If you should choose to execute Darko towards the end of the game.
  • There Was a Door: When stealing helicopters, Niko will smash the front window to open the door even if the sliding rear door is already wide open.
  • This Loser Is You: Independence Radio (the customizable music station in the PC version). "The future of American media! You... alone in a dark room, listening to music you stole off the internet."
  • Title Drop: The LCPD database gives Niko's criminal record as grand theft auto. The same is repeated for the player characters of the episodes.
  • True Companions: For all Niko's Hurting Hero act and extreme existential depression, he attracts quite a group of crooks who he can honestly call friends and vice versa. His cousin Roman, the pot-smoking Rastafarian Little Jacob, genetically different Brucie, Fighting Irish Packie, and the depressing Dwayne, not to mention the mysterious figure from his past Bernie Crane. All of them can eventually become close enough friends with Niko to offer him their unique services, often tag along during missions outside of the ones they give him, and sometimes Niko even pulls out some of his psychology skills to show them even though they're all pretty screwed up, at least at the end of the day, they have him.
  • Tutorial Failure: The game had a vastly different driving style than the previous games. The game also had the most tutorial tips of the series at that point, yet no tutorials were given on how to utilize this new style, except for a warning in the first mission that players should avoid trying to brake and turn at the same time.
  • Understatement: When Roman's kidnappers put a gun to Roman's head when Niko comes to rescue him, he points out: "This is not so good, cousin."
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: The GPS which tells you how to get to your destination is paying attention to which streets are one-way, just like a real GPS would. You'll wonder why it's always taking you two blocks out of your way, but when you try to skip directly to your destination you'll find traffic heading towards you.
  • Universal Driver's License: Niko can drive cars, boats, and helicopters with ease. It's likely that he learned these skills during the war.
  • The Unfought: Bulgarin again. Until The Ballad of Gay Tony.
  • The Unintelligible: Little Jacob at first, although you get used to his accent as time goes on. His friend Badman is even worse - even with subtitles he's difficult to understand, and Jacob has to actually translate for him even though he's technically speaking English.
    • However, even if you get used to his accent, Jacob remains unintelligible in a number of key sequences, including, amazingly one of the finale missions in which Jacob actually explains key plot points but without subtitles, there's no way to tell what he's talking about.
    • Badman is so difficult to understand partially because even though individual words are coherent, most of his speech in-game is repetitive, angry, paranoid ramblings about rival gangs. This is also because Little Jacob and Badman are speaking completely separate languages. Little Jacob speaks Rastafarian English, while Badman is speaking Jamaican Patois. While both dialects of English, Little Jacob's dialect is a hell of a lot closer to anything you're likely to actually comprehend.
      • And of course, poor Niko, whose grasp of English is good, but imperfect, has it worse. He doesn't get to see the subtitles.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Clarence Little, a drug dealer that Francis wants dead. If you let him live you can find him in a random character mission later... where he tries to kill you.
    • Niko also sees Roman as this on occasion due to his penchant for continually getting into trouble forcing Niko to bail him out.
    • Niko is seen as this by numerous characters to his great sorrow at the end.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Niko can walk through the city clearly carrying a huge firearm, and hardly anyone will respond to it unless he threatens them with it or starts shooting. Even cops.
    • Friends and girlfriends will never call Niko out for picking them up in unusual vehicles, even if he shows up in say, a bus, a police car, an airport vehicle, a forklift truck, or some other unusual choice.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: The Trope Namer. If at the end of the game you choose to kill Darko (that's what you wanted to do for the whole game), after being asked how he feels, Niko says "empty", as shown in the page quote.
  • War Is Hell: One of the Central Themes of the game. Niko, Florian, Darko, and possibly Roman were heavily strung by the war, it changes them in different ways. Niko actually goes into details about his experiences in the war, and depending who he talks to, he's not very happy to talk about it. Florian who became Bernie Crane suffered the same experience, but he ultimately chose to turn his life around, and became a lifestyle coach. Darko is as heavily affected by war as Niko, and turned to drugs to cope, but he ultimately sold out his comrades which left Niko and Florian as Sole Survivors in order to get $1000 for hi drug addiction. Roman has small details about the war, but Niko does reminesces about the time they found an intact bottle of vodka in a ruined bar. However where Roman thought his mother had thought to have been killed by a housefire, Niko found out she was actually raped and murdered. However, Roman chose to move to America to start over. In other words, war really changes people and their lifestyle, but it can bring positive or negative consequences.
  • Water Is Dry: If Niko or any other character gets wet. Except for sometimes in the rain, his clothes will get a wet sheen and Niko'll shake it off himself.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Manny Escuela seems genuinely concerned with cleaning up the streets, but at the same time he's homophobic, addicted to publicity, and not above manipulating Niko to make himself look good.
  • Wham Line: For many, Niko's simple summary of his military experience in the Yugoslav wars.
    "It ruined me."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ray Bulgarin. Killed by Luis in the final mission of The Ballad of Gay Tony.
    • Count on Michelle, too, after introducing to her boss.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Roman gives Niko a hell of a heartbreaking one after a series of questionable decisions by Niko leads to Roman's apartment and business being burned to the ground. Niko's done nothing but complain about life in America not being as sweet as Roman made it out to be, and Roman has to spell out to Niko that it took him a year starting from nothing to get a shitty apartment and cab business, making Roman actually successful at the American Dream or at least on his way to genuine success, until Niko came along and ruined everything within a week of being there. This doubles as an extremely successful What the Hell, Player?, as you can't help but feel bad having done the usual GTA thing as soon as you set foot in the city, acting like you owned the place while the people there were leading mostly fine lives until you came along.
    • Which is rather hypocritical by Roman as basically 3/4s of the plot revolves around Niko having to move Hell and Earth for gangsters all over town because of Roman's gambling problem. If Niko hadn't shown up, Roman would have lost all his property anyway and possibly ended up Sleeping With The Fishes.
  • Whole Costume Reference: In keeping with Niko's resemblance to Sasha from Behind Enemy Lines, there is an ensemble you can purchase from the Russian Shop that is a dead ringer for Sasha's tracksuit. Compare.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: For the most part. Although IV has been criticized for having things like friends constantly phoning you for dates, and there are numerous missions that are automatically triggered by phone calls when you want to do them yet or not, for the most part, Niko is free to roam the city, take in shows, go bowling, get lap dances, have sex with hookers, and go hunting pigeons, at his leisure. Although you still can't avoid mandatory mission phone calls, the game provides a simple workaround regarding outing requests from friends (simply accept the outing, then call back immediately and cancel the plans without penalty).
    • Or better yet, just put the phone in sleep mode if you just want to roam the city for a while. Unless you use the phone again, you'll be able to roam about without your friends calling you all the time.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Niko. As a child, Niko aspired to become an astronaut. But an abusive father, combined with being drafted as a Child Soldier during the Yugoslav Wars (and feeling regretful for the atrocities he either witnessed or committed), and witnessing a personal betrayal that saw several of his childhood friends (and fellow platoon mates) gunned down all drove him into becoming cynical. As Niko established, fighting in The Yugoslav Wars will erode a person's humanity.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: Playboy X.
  • Your Mom: What Niko says to a mook who kidnaps him in "Crime and Punishment". It's also a rare "your dad" variation.
  • You No Take Candle: Niko sometimes. Understandable with English not being his native language. His cousin, Roman, however, has a much better grasp at it due to being in American longer than him. Hell, Roman is said to have forgotten most of his native language!

So this is what the dream feels like. This is the victory we longed for...

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Grand Theft Auto 4


Grand Theft Auto IV

Niko is tasked by Little Jacob and Badman to follow a rival drug dealer to his hideout. While doing so without being detected, Roman can call and unknowingly alert the guy that Niko is following him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / CompromisingCall

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