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Video Game / Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

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

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

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

Shortly after arriving, C.R.A.S.H. officers Frank Tenpenny (Samuel L. Jackson) and Eddie Pulaski (Chris Penn) pick him up and frame him for the murder of Ralph Pendelbury, an internal affairs officer that they killed to cover up their corrupt dealings. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's also the mystery of the green roadster which performed the drive-by on Beverly Johnson, as well as corrupt elements within the GSF that want a slice of the burgeoning crack trade. Saving Grove Street, and ultimately Los Santos, from the machinations of C.R.A.S.H. will take C.J. all over the state of San Andreas, where he'll have to rub elbows with Chinese casino owners, rap moguls, Mexican gangbangers - as well quite a few familiar faces.


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


Despite its age, it has been reported to still be one of the most-played games on PS2 to this day, largely due to being so big and having so much to do. As such, a remastered version was made for the IOS and Android systems, and later ported to the Xbox 360 (on October 26th, 2014, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the game), and then the PlayStation 3 on December 1st, 2015. On October 8th, 2021, it was announced that San Andreas would see a Compilation Rerelease alongside Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch as part of the 20th anniversary of Grand Theft Auto III, with a version for mobile devices planned for the first half of 2022.

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

You picked the wrong tropes, fool!

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  • 555: Played straight at one point, when Carl is asked to plant some evidence and then give 555-WE-TIP a call.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Guns N' Roses vocalist Axl Rose is the DJ of the classic rock station K-DST. He mocks the modern/grunge rock station Radio X, despite their rotation including "Welcome to the Jungle".
    • Chris Penn, known for playing Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs, plays Eddie Pulaski.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The third-generation games are prequels of the original game and each other, and San Andreas combines the best elements of all the games that came before (large sandbox, gang respect, plethora of vehicles, contrast of gritty working-class environments/glossy upper class estates, not to mention a protagonist that actually knows how to swim) to make a thoroughly satisfying game.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the Japanese version, the Ballas are a larger and more powerful organization, as they're involved with legitimate businesses and random civilians CJ's occasionally tasked with killing are now affiliated with the gang.
  • An Aesop: Street gang brotherhood sentimentalism doesn't count for much. People you think are your friends will happily sell you out or abandon you if you get in the way of something they want. You'll only find out who your real friends are when you're down.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Mike Toreno is a fairly nice and friendly guy, who also turns out to be a government agent shoulder-deep in eldritch information and one of the scariest people you'll ever meet.
      Toreno: I wanted to see what you were made of.
      C.J.: (Angrily) What it look like I'm made of? Pudding?
      Toreno: (Calmly) No. Anger, and hate. That's why I like you.
    • CJ himself, who will have no problem shooting or running over unarmed civilians, assassinating people who never did a bad thing to him and generally steal, maim and kill. However, most of it is because he is given no other alternative in order to keep his family — by blood or otherwise — from being harmed, and is genuinely nice and polite (outside of whatever the player makes him do) to the people around him. Compare this to Tommy Vercetti, who alienates and belittles his inner circle, and Claude, who repays the women who save his life by killing the brother of one and then (possibly) shooting and killing the other for talking too much.
    • Big Smoke, whose cheerful and chummy nature belies his criminal tendencies. Especially his treachery and cocaine-dealing habits.
    • And also Woozie, the leader of the San Fierro Triad, who despite being a crime boss is depicted as very sympathetic and likable. So much so one expects Woozie to perform a Face–Heel Turn on C.J. like Big Smoke, but he never does.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The Triad clan led by Wu Zi Mu refer to their leader as their "lucky mole" due to his uncanny ability to participate in gunfights, car races, and video games despite being blind. All his friends refer to him as "Woozie."
  • The Ahnold: Jack Howitzer in the radio stations. He started out making the Destroyer films, a parody of the Rambo series, around the time of Vice City, and by San Andreas he had branched out into family comedies with Special Needs Cop, a parody of Kindergarten Cop. Unfortunately, his career was derailed when he accidentally shot the host of a radio show while promoting Special Needs Cop; the page quote comes from that incident.
  • A.I. Breaker: When taking over gang territory, the defending gangsters will stick to the sidewalks as much as possible, walking entirely in single file at their default jogging speed. If they're on the wrong side of the sidewalk, they'll often double back ridiculous distances just to find a crosswalk. The only time they ever jaywalk is when they're close enough to shoot you. For a player with an assault rifle or sniper rifle, simply having a significant lead on the gangsters and going for headshots can turn the situation into a turkey shoot, which is good because the gangsters are ridiculously well armed.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • In the finale, C.J. feels nothing but remorse over having to kill Big Smoke.
      Big Smoke: When I'm gone, everyone's gonna remember my name... BIG SMOKE!
      C.J.: Damn. What a waste...
    • Also with Ryder, although this is only brief after Cesar tells C.J. that Ryder tried to bang Kendl.
      C.J.: Fucking Ryder man! That was my homie... and I killed him.
      Cesar: Fucking midget deserved it, eh. Little asshole tried to bang your sister.
    • Officer Hernandez, although he wasn’t that much of a villain to begin with, also counts especially given how The Introduction shows he was one of the few good and well meaning cops in the GTA series.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • Beater cars such as the Tampa were introduced to the series here, with the sole intention of being customized by the player (also a new addition to the series). These cars specifically were designed to allow for the maximum number of modifications and thus became the best cars in the game.
    • There's also beater Glendales and Sadlers found in San Andreas in the woods that can't be fixed due to them actually being separate, pre-damaged models internally named GLENSHIT and SADLSHIT respectively.
    • The Mothership, The Truth's psychedelic van.
      The Truth: Man, we got 3 tons of grass on board, the engine block is held together with a macramé hammock, and it's running on 15-year-old cooking oil.
  • All for Nothing: The first Los Santos arc can be summed up as this; most if not all of the missions for Grove Street is about rebuilding their power-base including taking out dealers and acquiring guns for the gang. After CJ's exile, Sweet's incarceration, and Ryder & Big Smoke's betrayal, the all the territory gained is lost and many Grove Street members are dead or in hiding.
  • All There in the Manual: Many of the characters, particularly the Grove Street members, are Only Known by Their Nickname in the game itself. The manual and other sources reveal their real names.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • The Ballas attempt to do this in "Drive-Thru", but are stopped by the Grove Street OGs (save for Smoke). Later, the Ballas actually manage to assault Grove Street during "House Party", with Ryder leaving to gather up Smoke and some homies as backup, but Sweet, C.J. and the remaining homies manage to drive the Ballas back. Both missions foreshadow the fact that Smoke and Ryder are not as loyal as they seem to be.
    • "The Green Sabre". Smoke and Ryder are soon revealed to have sold the Families out to Tenpenny and the Ballas. Before long, Sweet and the homies are ambushed at the Mulholland Intersection. C.J. arrives just as Sweet gets hit. Once the police arrive, the Johnson brothers are arrested, and all of the territory Grove Street has at this point is lost.
    • After returning to Grove Street following your adventures in the other two sections of San Andreas, your first task is to liberate it from the Ballas, and later you have to retake a significant amount of territory to unlock the final mission.
  • Almighty Janitor: Frank Tenpenny, the Big Bad, is officially a patrolman with the LSPD. Unofficially, he's the gangland kingpin of Southern San Andreas.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • While the Drive-Thru Confessions Church in Palomino Creek, Red County may seem like a rather irreverent joke towards the sacrament of confession by Catholics, there was actually a Real Life version of it carried out by an enterprising priest in response to church closures in the US following the COVID-19 Pandemic.
    • C.R.A.S.H. seems like another case of Rockstar having Fun with Acronyms, but Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums was a real LAPD gang-crime task force that was disbanded in 2000 following revelations of rampant corruption and criminality in the unit (to the point that some people were referring to CRASH as "the baddest gang in LA"). If anything, the real CRASH was worse than its fictional counterpart, since when the unit was investigated after the Rampart scandal, over 70 officers were found to have been involved in the illegal activities of CRASH, compared to the three that appear in the game. Frank Tenpenny is even a reasonable Expy of CRASH's commander Rafaél Pérez.
  • Always Close: C.J.'s escape from Big Smoke's crack palace during the final mission. He barely manages to Outrun the Fireball.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • Inverted. Kendl identifies a lack of ambition as being C.J.'s major character flaw and most of the game is spent curing him of it. On the other hand, most of the endeavors C.J.'s newfound ambition leads him into are criminal, so...
    • Played straight with Big Smoke and Ryder, whose greed and ambition is what drove them to betray Grove Street and start setting up a major drug-dealing operation in Los Santos.
  • Anachronism Stew: Not overtly, but noticeable in some of the sights and sounds around San Andreas.
    • Some of the songs playing on the radio, like "It Was A Good Day" by Ice Cube were released after 1992, which is when the game takes place.note 
    • Certain cars, especially high-end ones, were based on real-life cars produced long after 1992, such as the Bullet, which is based on the 2005 Ford GT. That in turn was an almost exact copy design-wise of the Ford GT40, but the one in the game was undoubtedly chosen with the new car's release in mind.
    • Less obviously, Sweet's attitude towards drugs and the purpose of gangs would be much more fitting a decade sooner than the game is set, when the crack epidemic was just starting. For all the negatives that the game shows as a result of crack hitting the streets, it also brought massive income for those willing to deal, which led to more plentiful and powerful firearms on the streets. The gangs that refuse to touch crack, such as the Families, the Aztecas and the Mountain Cloud Triads, would probably not have survived The '80s in reality. It's possible that the crack epidemic started a few years later in this universe, however, as by the time the game starts, the Grove Street Families have gone from a powerful gang to a shadow of its former self and are barely hanging on, being picked apart by internal conflicts causing the various families to split off, while the better-armed Ballas, who have embraced the drug trade, pick them off, partly by convincing two of the most prominent Grove Street members to turn on them.
    • A store named "Juguetes Regalos" features characters from Pokémon on its sign; Pokémon wouldn't exist until 1996 and wouldn't hit America for another two years after that.
    • Menus seen outside Burger Shots claim that they sell "Freedom Fries", a term that was created in 2003.
    • The "M4" (actually a Model 733) makes another appearance after Vice City. While the M4 Carbine was in production in 1992, it would not be adopted by the US Army for another two years. Additionally, the term used for M16-derived carbines at that time was "Commando".
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing some of the storyline and asset missions gets you some special outfits, which you may need to wear in order to progress through another mission. Also, achieving 100% progress with most of the girlfriends gets you an outfit related to their profession.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Some missions, after you've failed them once, will allow you to skip the trip to the destination and just get there once you get in a designated vehicle.
    • In "Ryder", if you have no money when you enter the pizza place (which is a completely plausible scenario, as you start the game with $350 and that happens to be the exact price of one of the haircuts you are required to get just before this scene) the game will sneakily give you $2 so you can buy a pizza and continue the level.
    • After you kill Big Smoke in "End of the Line" and escape the fortress, failing the mission automatically puts you at the start of the firetruck chase. You're also given an indestructible vehicle so that the rioters can't make it explode.
    • If you're on a vehicle mission (Vigilante, Paramedic, etc.), enemy gang members won't shoot at your vehicle or try to pull CJ out of it. Since most of the vehicle missions end immediately if you exit your vehicle or it gets destroyed, at least it leaves the player one less thing to worry about.
  • Anti-Hero: You, the rest of Grove Street (well, Sweet at least), Cesar and Woozie. Unlike prior GTA protagonists, Carl's main motivation is the protection of his family, avenging his murdered mother, and getting rid of the drug dealers infesting Los Santos.
  • Anti-Villain: Of the Big Bad Triumvirate, Hernandez is the least malevolent (it also helps that he had to endure much of Tenpenny and Pulaski's bullying just because he's Mexican). His only major interaction with CJ is a call early in the game, warning him not to leave Los Santos. He eventually gives in to his conscience and tries to turn his partners in, even taking a bullet for CJ near the end of the game.
  • Anyone Remember Pogs?: The radio host of K-DST, Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith, mentions "Whatever happened to Love Fist?" at one point of his show. Love Fist was a fictional band from Vice City that was banned in many countries. In 1992 (when San Andreas takes place), however, they're all but forgotten (which may also be a reference to how hair metal fell out of fashion in the early 1990s). C.J. meets the band's former manager late in the game; after taking some drugs with The Truth, he wakes up stranded in the desert and needs C.J. to drive him back to civilization.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: In any given mission, assuming you have to drive there, you're limited to yourself and three other people for backup. You can actually recruit up to eight gang members for help, but only three are going to fit in the car and the NPC gangbangers don't know how to drive.
  • Arc Words:
    "Big Smoke — Remember the name!"
  • Area 51: Parodied with Area 69, which C.J. breaks into to acquire a jetpack. Trying to enter the area will earn you an instant five-star wanted level, and if you fly over, you will be brought down by SAM sites and Hydra fighter jets. If you've reached the point in the game where you finally own the nearby abandoned airstrip, entering your house and saving will allow you to lose your wanted levels easily.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Ambulances will speed to the scene of a casualty. And we do mean "speed" — they're liable to plough straight into/through any pedestrians standing near the body (with a seemingly greater-than-chance likelihood of hitting the PC, but that might be an attempt at Laser-Guided Karma...)
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The game features pretty solid AI in most cases, but it breaks down in some areas. On the freeway, the AI can't seem to handle the speed at which it drives, resulting in a lot of accidents, even with no player intervention. If the player stays put long enough, massive pileups and riots inevitably occur and don't end until the player leaves the area... or promptly blows up the pileup with a rocket launcher.
    • Should the player be chased by any AI characters, notably police, the AI will simply run or drive to the exact position of the player. Cue players hovering along high cliffs in aircraft, watching as the AI throw themselves off of the cliff in an attempt to reach the player.
    • Civilian drivers are actually dumb cars-on-rails until nudged, shot, or otherwise "awakened", at which point they become truly AI controlled and subject to proper physics (almost certainly for performance). In some places, the map's "rails" seem to be set up wrong, and vehicles either accelerate or turn well beyond their actual capabilities, or outright spawn facing the wrong way then tween into place. Freeway pileups are usually a result of "rail" and "true" vehicles trying to interact and failing badly at it. Planes are also tied to 'rails'. This frequently makes them disregard tall buildings, trees, particularly steep hills or other particularly tall objects. Supposedly, the devs found this bug in development and chose not to fix it because it's funny (though not as much when those rails end up with them trying to land a plane on your forehead or a rare car you want to put in your garage). Also, pretty much every car that needs to make a right turn, is going to do so from the left lane, and vice versa for left turns. And that seems to be the most basic rule for the game's driving AI, but apparently it wasn't. It seems like the only realistic thing the other drivers do in the game is to high-tail it out of there when if they hear gunshots.
    • If you engage in a gang war, sometimes the enemy gang members will run down to the end of the block just to do a U-turn and run on the other side of the sidewalk. Sometimes this ranges to being miles away from the actual war zone but if the game is savvy enough, you're rewarded with the next wave or getting the area. Most of the time though you're stuck waiting around for them to come back because if you try to leave, the game pressures you to stay there.
    • Unless they're firing out of a car, any NPC assistance you have is often more of a liability. They're generally only competent when they're scripted to be busy while you're doing some other objective.
    • Cops who in no way can get to their original car, will usually run out onto the street and jack a civilian's car and drive off in that. Or more hilariously, a fellow officer's car.
    • There's the "suicidal photographer" near an inlet in Flint County, so-named because a random model of civilian, every time you show up there, will stand at the edge of a cliff, take pictures of Los Santos, then stand up and just walk in a straight line into the water and drown.
    • Emergency vehicles make no effort to avoid civilians and will usually run a lot of pedestrians over in their attempts to save one. Aggravating when it runs over a mission-important NPC.
    • Unlike the previous games, San Andreas averts Super Drowning Skills, and C.J. can swim. However, this isn't extended to most NPCs, and if you have a Wanted level, there's no end to the line of cops that will jump in to get you and immediately drown.
    • Pedestrians will jump to avoid a nearby moving car, presumably to avoid getting run over. However, their jump doesn't take into account where the car they're trying to avoid is. A common scenario is for the player to drive a car, close to pedestrians but not enough to actually run over them, only for a pedestrian to jump in front of the car, and actually getting run over.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • When you go to the ship, the "sailors" you run into are merely the game's stock military troops, wearing green. For the time period, the sailors should be wearing the classic dungarees.
    • Minor, but there is no LHD 69 either (only USS Wasp, LHD 1, was in service at the time). But, of course, this is GTA, so what other hull designator would it be?
  • Artistic License – Physics: This moment from the mission "Breaking The Bank At Caligula's".. And it's actually the only way to reach the helicopter. Open the parachute immediately after jumping, and you won't be able to land on the roof where that helicopter is.
  • Ascended Meme: The Definitive Edition has an achievement titled "They Can't Stop All of Us"note , which requires CJ to successfully sneak inside the military base during the mission "Black Project" without setting off any alarms.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Big Smoke often quotes the Bible ("'Man cannot live on bread alone'. I should know, I tried that shit.") but he's not exactly a saint.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: This conversation here:
    Ryder: I know this cat. He a punk who used to run with a Front Yard Balla OG from Idlewood. I know his place! It's just across the tracks there! Let's check it out.
    CJ: Eh, ain't that Front Yard turf?
    Ryder: Man are you a busta?
  • The Atoner: C.J.'s relationship with Madd Dogg. C.J. murders Madd Dogg's manager and steals his rhyme book for OG Loc. As a result, Dogg attempts suicide only to be saved by C.J., who then retrieves his rhyme book and resurrects his music career by being his manager.
  • Ate It All: The Grove Street Posse go out for a Drive-Thru meal at Cluckin' Bell. Big Smoke not only orders a ridiculously large portion for himself, but when the Ballas attempt a drive-by shooting, he manages to eat not only his own food, but the food ordered by his homies, while the rest of the gang are retaliating.
  • Athens and Sparta: Los Santos and San Fierro. Los Santos is a gang-ridden city filled with urban segregation, with limited social opportunities and advancement, while San Fierro has less of a gang presence, is much more developed and sophisticated, and is the city where the hero achieves some kind of social mobility (legal and illegal), while also interacting with a real melting pot and weird bunch of misfits.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Hydra's hover mode. Trying to strafe ground targets is extremely difficult because the Hydra uses the camera controls for its additional functions, preventing you from righting the camera. The trio of sluggish response, split attention and proximity to ground clutter ends many joyrides with a boom. In the PC version, this can be slightly mitigated by turning off the option to use the mouse to fly planes.
    • In Las Venturas, you can steal a passenger jet. More impressive will be landing this unwieldy beast intact. You also can't save it in any garage because the thing is so big that it needs its own dedicated hangar in Las Venturas.
    • Any form of melee combat. Sure, you get some cool karate kicks and a move that can OHKO any NPC, but the actual chances you're going to use them will be almost non-existent. About the OHKO move, it takes about 6 seconds of a nicely pulled off kickboxing combo, but if you wanted to kill something, you may as well have used a weapon in the first place. The same combo input by default (before you learn any set of gym moves) actually lets you knock an NPC down in just two hits, allowing you to beat them down on the ground right after.
    • The Katana. Like the other example used above, the katana is pretty damn cool as it is the only melee weapon that lets you behead an NPC and has nice overall strength. However, the only time you're going to use it on a mission will be the fight against the Da Nang leader, AKA Snake Head, and he'll never put up a decent fight and you might even kill him accidentally (and you have the option to just go for your gun anyway).
    • Lowriders, but especially the Savanna (a classic Chevrolet Impala with an open top). They look cool and handle fine in most circumstances, but they have a fatal flaw that is revealed when you flip one over. Unlike most cars where 9 times out of 10 it will manage to roll over safely, lowriders are far more likely to stay flipped due to having a flat top. This is especially notable in the mission "Photo Opportunity", where the challenge of the mission comes from driving Cesar's Savanna through the hilly countryside without flipping it.
    • The rocket launcher. It's powerful, sure, but has a terrible box crosshair that makes it hard to aim accurately, you have to lead your shots against moving targets, and getting caught in the blast is all too easy. By comparison, the minigun has far greater DPS, an accurate crosshair, and the only risk of hurting yourself is if you blow something up right next to you. It's also far more viable against human targets.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: As much shit as Sweet gives C.J., he still shows that he loves his brother dearly.
  • Ax-Crazy: Cesar describes his cousin Catalina as "really intense". As C.J. finds out, this is a massive understatement.
  • Back Stab: 'Stealth kills' are introduced to the series. Of course, civilians (and cops) don't really pay attention if CJ is running around with a minigun, so him having a knife works fine. Move up behind victim, target, attack, giggle maniacally. Oddly, though, this tends to increase the wanted meter more than when you just go up and hack them up with a katana, but hey.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Sweet and C.J. get to do this in a mission near the end of the game, which is essentially a two-man army against a horde of Ballas.
  • Badass Driver: The characters mercilessly mock your driving. At one point, they tell you to go to driver's ed. And then you do. Harsh. Admittedly, it's an advanced driving school, and those classes teach you how to be an even more badass driver (even in-game, as every 100% earned on a test increases your driving skill by an amount that would take about half an hour of nonstop driving).
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Carl Johnson can dress up pretty dapper, once the last store opens up.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: The CRASH unit, especially Officer Tenpenny, are corrupt to the core and essentially extort the player character while turning a blind eye to the gang violence they're supposed to be fighting against, preferring to just let the gangbangers take each other out rather than do any work themselves.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: The Pool minigame. You can place bets and if you lose, simply mug the winner and take your stuff back.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: The Burger Shot uniform, which includes a gigantic hamburger hat, and the Cluckin' Bell, a full-body chicken suit (the latter's employees coming off as more disgruntled.)
  • Bag of Spilling: Two specific missions will irreversibly and permanently deprive CJ of all his weapons, never to be found again. "The Green Sabre" ends with the police confiscating all of CJ's weapons upon arresting him. Meanwhile, "The Da Nang Thing" also incinerates CJ's weapons due to a mid-mission helicopter crash.
  • Bald of Authority: Frank Tenpenny is bald and the leader of an evil band of Dirty Cops, making this overlap with Bald of Evil.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: There's a scene where you can fight a Vietnamese gang boss sword vs sword (he tosses one to you to duel). Of course, if by then you've picked up a shotgun, you're still more than free to use it.
  • Beautiful Condemned Building: C.J. is dismayed to discover that the autoshop he won in a race is actually a condemned gas station. His sister and their friends eventually convince him of the building's worth, and he soon manages to renovate it into a successful business.
  • Bed Trick: C.J. pulls a kinkier-than-normal version of this preparation for the casino heist. They need a keycard from one of the casino staff, so he decides to get one by seducing a female croupier who works there, Millie. Of course, she doesn't know him yet, so his plan to remedy this is to shadow her after she leaves work and look for an opportunity. Said opportunity comes when she visits a sex shop and buys some fetish wear. By eavesdropping on her making a phone call, C.J. learns that she's buying the clothes for a BDSM play session with a guy. C.J. buys a gimp suit that covers his entire body and face, and then trails Millie home, where he waits for the guy to show up. When the guy arrives, C.J. ambushes him and enters the house in his place, wearing the gimp suit. Millie thinks that C.J. is her boyfriend and is eager to be punished by him (this is peculiar, since gimp suits are normally worn by submissives rather than dominants, but never mind). He obliges. Afterwards, she finds out that the guy she did all that stuff with was C.J. and not her usual partner. Astonishingly, she has no problem with any of what C.J. did, and becomes his regular girlfriend. She's also willing to lend him her keycard after going out for a little while, in exchange for a share of the stolen money.
  • Beef Gate: Initially, C.J. is restricted to Los Santos and Red County; since he is the only GTAIII-era protagonist of the series who can actually swim, there is nothing preventing the player from entering the other regions before they are unlocked, but there is a penalty of a four-star wanted level if you do. Specifically, San Fierro, Whetstone and Flint County are inaccessible prior to completing "The Green Sabre"; and Tierra Robada, Bone County and Las Venturas cannot be entered before completing "Yay-Ka-Boom-Boom".
  • Berserk Button: C.J. dislikes being called a "busta" as much as Woozie dislikes being made fun of for his blindness. He also seems to really hate reckless driving, ironically. But above all, do not mess with Kendl. So much as catcalling at her can trigger homicidal rage.
  • Beta Outfit: It has a nod in-game to Big Smoke's outfit from earlier in the game's development. On the statue of Smoke in the drug manufacturing factory in East Los Santos you see he's wearing a white jersey and black trousers.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The game features a number of ways to bet money, including horse racing, low-rider bouncing and casinos with games such as poker and roulette.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
    • Wu Zi Mu, or "Woozie", is a laid-back, friendly, unassuming Chinese businessman who enjoys playing video games, racing cars, and golf despite being blind. He's also the boss of the Mountain Cloud Triads. When he found his men wiped out by the the Vietnamese Da Nang Boys, he rushes into the fray with a machine pistol and guns down everyone he can find, all the while threatening to to make their blood "flow like wine". CJ remains on his good side throughout the game, averting a potential Face–Heel Turn.
    • C.J. himself is usually a pretty nice guy — for a gangbanger, though this may have something to do with having worked a legitimate job for the Leones in Liberty City for five years. But do not talk bad about his family, especially his sister Kendl. Or their late mother. Just ask Pulaski.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Frank Tenpenny and Big Smoke.
  • Big Dam Plot: There's a mission where you must plant bombs in a dam, which is an expy of the Hoover Dam.
  • Big Eater: Zig-zagged in the Drive Thru mission, when Big Smoke makes an infamously large order at Cluckin' Bell. While he does get a lot of food for himself, a fraction of the food he ordered was actually meant for Carl, Sweet, and Ryder. But then he ends up eating all of it anyway while the others are busy shooting at the Ballas.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: A longstanding legend in the game is that a Bigfoot can be found roaming the immense backwoods. More than a decade after the game's release, the legend persists.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Some NPCs will shout "Oh Shut Up!" to C.J. if he rejects one of their compliments. C.J. himself often shouts "Shut UP!" to NPCs when returning their insults, or rejecting their compliments or even killing them.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Some of the abandoned desert tourist traps are restaurants shaped like the animals they serve, in a representation of a real trend in now-dated '50s-'60s architecture toward giant objects.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The protagonists of Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City can only be said to be heroes in the sense that they fight against people who are even worse than they are. C.J., on the other hand, has a few genuinely heroic motivations (getting the drug dealers out of his neighborhood, avenging his mother's death, keeping his family and friends safe from harm), but he's still a murdering, thieving gangbanger who by the end of the game blows up the Sherman Dam and steals technology from both a top-secret military base and a Navy carrier.
    • C.J. murders the entire staff of a construction site and buries the foreman alive because someone whistled at his sister. And in an earlier mission, he breaks into a rapper's mansion and murder a lot of the innocent security staff, kidnapped the rapper's manager and trapped him in a car and ran it into the sea, all so his friend (who he doesn't even like) can steal his music or something. In a bizarrely ironic twist, much later in the game, he saves the rapper from committing suicide, and then hunts down his former friend to reclaim the rhymebook he himself stole in the first place. Conveniently for C.J., his former friend never brings this up during the confrontation.
  • Black Comedy:
    • In "Ice Cold Killa", C.J. needs a silenced pistol, but cannot find one. So Cesar takes out his silenced pistol out of nowhere and gives it to C.J., whom asks where he got that. Cesar's answer? '"Same place I buy my pants, holmes. This is America!"
    • The cutscene with Smoke's order in "Drive Thru" may also qualify if Smoke setting up CJ and Sweet's assassination during that moment is anything to believe.
  • Black Comedy Rape: One of the pre-mission cutscenes involves Carl being chained to a rack and raped by his hostile tsundere partner, Catalina. Thankfully, this is off-screen. Un-thankfully, there is audio.
  • Blatant Lies: At one point, you're told to go buy an abandoned air strip. You're also told to offer the owner a dollar, and if he doesn't accept, shoot him. There's no actual way to do that in the game — you need $80,000 to buy it, period. The scene comes off as a remnant of an intended mission.
  • Blind Driving: Woozie has a version - he's really good at racing around designed tracks (like the race where C.J. first meets him), but regular driving tends to eat up a lot of time (his right-hand man, after C.J. asked where Woozie was, said that he insisted on driving himself. "Could be anywhere.")
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Interestingly, both this game and Grand Theft Auto Advance, which was released on the same day, took steps to be the first GTA games to avert this. In the case of San Andreas, bullets, melee, and fire still have to chip through your armor before they can damage your health, but long falls will now hurt you directly regardless of your armor (''Advance'', being a top-down game with no falling damage, goes for melee bypassing your armor instead).
  • Bondage Is Bad:
  • Bonus Dungeon: After trudging through Zero's first two missions, which involve shooting down/fighting with toys on a very tight timer, you are treated to... an RTS mission. However, it is probably the most fun mission in the game since it's virtually impossible to screw up, and hearing David Cross cheer you on when you do well at it creates quite the fuzzy feeling. Oh, and one of the previous scrappy levels becomes infinitely replayable after you beat it, although there is now no longer a penalty for failing it.
  • Border Patrol: Players who try to skip ahead to the other cities before the plot grants them access (indicated by literal Border Patrols — the bridges to these cities will be closed off and some cops will be standing behind the boundary) will find themselves suddenly slapped with a four-star wanted level, and usually be gunned down by police and/or helicopters shortly thereafter (I was just going for a swim, officer, honest!) They'll continue to chase you even if you go back into an open zone, but at least there you can access unlocked Pay 'n' Sprays and safehouses to help you lose your wanted level.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Bike and the BMX. They're not the fastest vehicles in the game by far (when riding up a hill, you can go faster on foot unless you tap 'accelerate' to go faster), give zero protection against bullets and you can't listen to your radio on one, but they're very easy to level up (which makes it harder for you to fall from it), they can still reach decent speeds with maxed out stamina or the unlimited sprint, and they're totally indestructible. Where they truly shine is agility: it's far easier to lose a pursuer on a bike by going where he can't follow rather than trying to outrun him. The ability to bunny hop is also quite useful as well, and the higher your skill level, the higher you can jump.
    • Motorcycles retain the agility factor, but lose only the ability to bunny hop in return for eliminating all the disadvantages except that they still offer no protection against bullets. The only downside motorbikes have that bikes don't is that you can much more easily reach sufficient speed to hurt yourself in a collision, which is far less likely in a bike unless you're specifically being chased.
    • Immunity to fire has very little practical application, but it makes certain levels of the game a lot more tolerable since you can charge through fire instead of wasting a weapon slot on an extinguisher. If you're fond of molotovs, it also completely removes the risk of hitting yourself. And if you're feeling a little sadistic, you can set yourself on fire and try to spread it to cars and blow them up just by standing near them!
  • Born Lucky: Woozie is blind, but he's so incredibly lucky that he can often pass as sighted anyways. He can even race a car along a narrow, winding ledge!
  • Bottomless Bladder:
    • This game, more than any GTA before or since, pays great attention to personal matters — keeping fit and requiring CJ to eat occasionally, with penalties associated with eating too much or too little (or being not fit enough). But bathroom breaks are never factored in (which is probably a good thing).
    • Inverted for one mission, you have the choice to pull over your vehicle so Maccer can get out and relieve himself.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The rewards for achieving 100% Completion are a Rhino tank and Hydra jet that continually spawn at your hideout, as well as infinite ammunition for all weapons... and no more missions to take advantage of them in. Of course, since this is a sandbox game, it's still a lot of fun simply wreaking havoc with these things, so they're only "useless" in the sense that there are no more missions to complete.
  • Bringing Back Proof: In one mission, Dirty Cops Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski order CJ to gun down one of the witnesses in the corruption case against them, and take a photo of his corpse.
    Pulaski: We need evidence he ain't gonna talk.
  • British English: On rare occasions the fact the GTA games are actually made by a British company becomes evident.
    • The news radio station, WCTR, includes news reports referencing "the drugs trade"; Americans tend to singularize the word "drug" in that phrase, while the Brits use the plural "drugs" in all uses.
    • During an early mission in which CJ has to whack a Families member who has been snitching to the Ballas, the subtitles advise you to kill the "grass".
    • Also true of certain jokes, for example Helena Wankstein's name being a reference to the British insult "wank stain" and the asset "Wang Cars" being a semi-homophone of "wankers". On the other hand, "wang" is also a slang term for penis, so it works either way.
    • Cluckin' Bell = Cockney rhyming slang for "fucking hell". Also possibly a reference to a line used by the title character in Blackadder Goes Forth immediately before the infamous Downer Ending, when he realises that all his schemes to avoid a brutal and pointless death have failed.
    • On-screen instructions frequently use the word "whilst". It's not a very common word in America, and it certainly doesn't fit the game's ghetto aesthetic. Game instructions also use "quay" rather than "wharf".
  • British Rockstar: You meet up with two characters associated with a band who are largely parodies of this trope (though their style leans more towards pre-Britpop, like The Stone Roses, Suede and Happy Mondays). The lead singer's name is Maccer (he even wears a Reni hat), and is voiced by Happy Mondays vocalist Shaun Ryder.
  • Broken Bridge: At the beginning of the game, the bridges had been damaged by an earthquake. Downplayed in that, although you can swim, boat, or fly across, you will get a four star wanted level for even trying, and you can't do too much at those points anyway.
  • Brooklyn Rage: C.J. spent five years living in Liberty City before the events of the game, and returns for one mission.
  • Burger Fool: OG Loc's parole officer lined him up for a job at Burger Shot as a "Hygiene Technician" (fancy talk for janitor). His uniform, and that of everyone else who works there, includes an oversized burger hat, which, needless to say, looks ridiculous. Not to mention the chicken hat that is part of the uniform at Cluckin' Bell.
  • Buried Alive: The mission "Deconstruction", a conga line of Disproportionate Retribution, ends with pushing the foreman, who is hiding in a porta-potty, into a hole - and then filling the hole with cement.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • The first mission requires you to use a bike. If you "acquire" something else, the game ceases to show the people you are meant to follow on your minimap and the Ballas car continues to chase and shoot you no matter where you go.
    • Many missions force you to use a specific, mission-critical vehicle, often for no good reason. It gets to the point that some NPCs will sit in an overturned, burning car while yelling at you to get back in until they die a fiery death and you fail.
    • There are also many, many occasions in the game where the vehicle you arrive in for a mission will disappear and be replaced by one provided for the mission. A fact worth noting before you take your expensive, tripped out car to meet Woozie or Toreno for their next mission. This can be avoided (to a point) by parking your car further away.
    • There are also missions where C.J. is forced to use a specific weapon, despite owning better weapons in his inventory (often replacing them). For example, in "Freefall" it doesn't matter if he has a minigun, C.J. is forced to make do with a dinky M1911 pistol in the shootout. It happens inside a plane though, so keeping the caliber down is somewhat justified if the game runs on Vinewood Physics. "Reuniting the Families" is particularly bad about this, because it will give you an infinite-ammo AK-47, and then take your AK away once it's over.
    • One point of criticism leveled at the game is that a number of missions require C.J. to commit outright murder (including that of at least one innocent bystander, in this case a woman who happens to be unlucky enough to be the date of a man C.J. is assigned to assassinate), without the ability to Take a Third Option, which make it hard to sympathize with the character. While "following the script" is hardly unusual in a linear game, it does to a degree go against the sandbox philosophy of GTA.
    • Despite the above, the game does subvert the trope as, once the game reaches a certain point, the player is free to abandon the storyline and take part in any number of purely optional activities.
  • Call-Forward: Players of Grand Theft Auto III know how Claude and Catalina's relationship will turn out.
  • Camera Fiend: Carl "C.J." Johnson has a camera in his Ganton home's bedroom, which he can pick up and even use in some missions.
    • Any photos you take when playing appear in the Gallery. They're basically a different sort of screenshot. This feature is actually quite helpful if you're trying to collect the 50 snapshots in San Fierro, as the screenshot will include the in-game text showing your progress in the sidequest.
    • A nice bit of Developers' Foresight is that you can take the camera on a date and take a picture of your girlfriend, she'll pose and wave for you.
  • Camera Screw:
    • The game had the "Helpful" camera change problem. While driving the camera focuses directly behind your vehicle, meaning you can't see what's in front of you on the road. There's a button you can hit to move it to a much more useful angle, but as soon as you let go of said button, the camera slides riiiiiight back into crap-town. Of course, you can drive in first person mode, but then you can't see anyone pulling up behind or to the side of you; it becomes incredibly difficult to extricate yourself from the kind of 46-point turn scenario that often comes up when trying to drive through alleyways, and over everything else; and of course not forgetting, the car inexplicably gets wider when you're in first person view.
    • In the PC port, it is possible to freely control the camera with the mouse, but as noted above if you stop moving the mouse for more than a second while driving, the camera refocuses to the back of the car.
  • Cane Fu: This occupies the "miscellaneous item" slot, on the same category as flowers and the dildo. It works exactly as a blunt katana, without the One-Hit Kill chance of decapitating the enemy you attack it with. It's all-around deadly all the same, however, moreso if you use the martial arts style learned in San Fierro for a mixed pattern of kicks and whacks. It also happens to be the most common melee weapon in the game, provided the player knows where to look for it.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: This is the way Mike Toreno communicates with Carl during missions. It's quite amazing how he manages to have a loudspeaker just where a plane-dropped package fell, despite it being carried away by wind quite a bit.
  • Cap: The game has a 9-digit money counter, though under normal circumstances only eight digits are shown on the HUD because acquiring that much money requires a lot of grinding Vigilante missions or casino games. If you do manage to go past $99,999,999, it rolls over and adds another digit. And C.J. will still complain about desperately needing money.
  • The Caper: The game, in a clear homage to Ocean's Eleven, has C.J. robbing a Vegas casino with a colorful group of characters.
  • Captain Crash: Woozie, a very bizarre ally, can drive magnificently. Walking into walls, however, is a frequent occurrence. Even more amazing is the fact that he can drive while being blind. And even more amusing is that his gang acts like he isn't blind at all. It is rather confusing especially since you meet him during a high speed race. Through the countryside. Eventually he confesses to C.J. that he is blind. You can almost see C.J. trying and failing to contain himself before he replies, "no shit!"
  • Captain Obvious: In the WCTR show "The Tight End Zone", Derrick Thackery frequently states blatantly obvious facts about football ("If you score more points than the other team, you win."), but in a twist, they're treated like insightful wisdom by his stupid call-in guests.
  • Car Cushion: This happens to C.J. if he jumps out of the plane in "Stowaway" with no parachute.
  • Car Skiing: You can pull this off and get a bonus for doing so. Also, there's a side-mission in a stunt driving school where one of the tasks is to do one of these.
  • Cash Gate: There's a similar situation to Vice City — you need to buy an abandoned airfield to train your piloting skills and advance the main plot. The guy who tells you to buy it says you can blackmail the owners into selling it for a dollar, but you really have to pay $80 grand for it.
  • Casting Gag:
    • C.J., voiced by then-aspiring rapper Young Maylay, claims he's not part the rap game during one of OG Loc's missions.
    • The DJ of the classic rock radio station is Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith, an arrogant, aging has-been rocker whose former bandmates have gone on to greater fame while his own career has dwindled. He's still convinced that he's the most important musician ever, and gets angry when people point out he's living in the past. He's voiced by Axl Rose.
    • In the mission "Catalyst", Tenpenny, who is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, whose wife was a drug addict in Menace II Society, claims that his wife loves what Ryder is brewing, which is probably drugs.
  • Celebrity Paradox: The DJ for the Classic Rock station (K-DST) is voiced by Axl Rose, who often takes shots at the heavy metal/grunge station Radio X. Radio X plays the Guns N' Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle".
  • Central Theme: The betrayal and revenge theme found in the first two games is expanded upon. Loyalty to your homies drives most, if not all the plot. The game deconstructs the True Companions sentimentalism in street gangs. The people who you think are your real friends will sell you out if you get in their way. Your real friends turn out to be the ones who are there for you when you are really down, and more often than not, their friendship won't have much to do with where you're from or how similar or different you are from them.
  • Chain-Link Fence: This works surprisingly well, since you can vault fences, but it generally doesn't occur to the cops. They can still shoot you, though...
  • Chainsaw Good: There's a couple of chainsaws scattered around the map. As the guns dealer would say: "works best in a crowded area". Fittingly, one was in an out of the way hick-like town.
  • Character Development: C.J. gets quite a lot of it.
    • During the early game, C.J. has basically no long-term aspirations; as such, he's always doing what others tells him instead of taking the lead and coming up with his own ideas (Los Santos missions basically consisting on blindly following instructions), he never stops to think about the possible consequences from his acts (such as what may happen after stealing and killing Madd Dogg's rhymes and manager respectively), and never dares to stand up against Tenpenny's constant harassing (even though he doesn't really have a real, plausible way to coerce him to do his bidding before Sweet's imprisonment.
    • In the latter part of the game, C.J. does stand up against harassing (he points a gun against Toreno when he believes he's not going to keep his promise, and even laughs in Tenpenny's face when he learns he's in trouble — he gets punched for the latter, but the point is that he did it); although he still follows other people's instructions, he's able to take the initiative if needed (the attack on Madd Dogg's mansion was C.J.'s idea, as was using Ken Rosenberg to learn more about Caligula's Casino for the heist); he realizes some of his earlier acts have caused unexpected damage (namely, Madd Dogg is almost Driven to Suicide, and Tenpenny getting free causes a riot) and sets out to repair it; and ends up owning a casino and several businesses all over San Andreas, which still doesn't prevent him from eventually coming back to the hood to take care of it.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: In the original release, only the final mission of the game, "End of the Line", has any checkpoints. It's a GTA tradition. The tablet and Windows Store versions do have them, at least.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When C.J. asks about his mother's murder, Ryder mentions in passing that a Green Sabre was seen at the scene of the shooting. A green Sabre shows up in a later mission when C.J. finds out that Smoke and Ryder are working with C.R.A.S.H. and the Ballas.
  • Cherry Tapping: How about the dildo? No, wait, it gets even worse: you can beat people to death even with a goddamn flower bouquet. Yep. The best part is that all of these weapons are obscenely powerful, killing any non-boss in three hits!
  • The Chick: Kendl, Carl's sister and Cesar's girlfriend (and later fiancee). She's smart enough to not let herself become a Distressed Damsel, but she does stay on the sidelines.
  • Chokepoint Geography: The town of Bayside is secluded from the rest of the desert area. It's surrounded by lots of water, with most of the land outskirts consisting of very tall, insurmountable on foot mountains, and the only access to the rest of the desert being a single tunnel. Although in the final game this serves no purpose, and no other part of the map is similar, there are several hints that indicate that Bayside originally was supposed to be accessible during the San Fierro section of the game,note  so that chokepoint would have served to function as a Broken Bridge preventing early access to the desert and Las Venturas.
  • Choosy Beggar: In one early mission, CJ and crew are fleeing from the police, with CJ complaining that all they have to defend themselves is an A.K.A.-47 ("this fucking antique", as he puts it). He's told to shut up and shoot back.note 
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Frank Tenpenny, the Big Bad, has a raging case of the syndrome. The only character he doesn't screw over (often fatally) by the end of the game is Big Smoke, and then probably only because he hadn't yet outlived his usefulness.
  • Chubby Chaser:
    • Forth Right MC on Playback FM. "I want a woman I can bounce up and down on!"
    • Two of the player character's optional love interests are female chubby chasers. Like all of the other women Carl romances, this is a way of getting more mileage out of the character customization. You can only date the gearhead Latina chick and the attractive police officer if C.J.'s fat meter is 50% or higher.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Medics from the ambulances can often revive dead people, unless their heads have been blown off.
  • Church of Happyology: The Epsilon Program. In the words of their leader, Cris Fromage, they "tithe money in exchange for salvation and merit badges," and their success may be partially attributed to their leader's charismatic, James Earl Jones-esque voice. Oh, and their holy text, the Epsilon Tract, has never even been written. Kifflom! They make their first appearance in the HD Universe in Grand Theft Auto V.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inverted with Mike Toreno who, while remaining extremely morally ambiguous, actually follows through on his offer to get Sweet out of prison.
  • Clean Up the Town: A large part of the story involves C.J. and his homies (Sweet, anyway) trying to clean up their crack-ridden 'hood.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • The Truth is weird. He clearly rambles in a style suggesting he's mad, but at the same time, seems to know a great deal about things not obvious to C.J. He's also a stoner. And he apparently got high with some really awesome polar bears.
    • Mike Toreno can come across like this, too, although he's much more balanced than most cuckoolanders.
    • Maccer is pretty weird as well, with his hypersexual personality and tendency to randomly talk vulgarly.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This was the first GTA game to have prominent use of the word "fuck" in it, and fuck, does it get used a lot: 426 times counting its variants and not counting random pedestrians/drivers curses, the in-game radio, and the couple instances of Mexican curses like "pendejo" or "chinga tu madre".
  • Color-Coded Armies: Street gangs in Los Santos are marked by what color they show off the most: Grove Street Families are green, Ballas are purple, Varrios Los Aztecas are aqua, and Vagos are yellow-orange. Ballas and Vagos will shoot at C.J. on sight. When fighting turf wars, the map of Los Santos is divided into sections, shaded according to who controls it (barring the Aztecas, with whom GSF have an effective alliance thanks to Cesar being Kendl's boyfriend and later forging a friendship with C.J.).
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the street gangs. The Grove Street Families are green, the Ballas are purple, the Aztecas are aqua, and the Vagos are yellow-orange.
  • Color Wash: Used for an accentuated atmospheric sense. Since San Andreas was a really huge state, with contrasting environments, there's a Color Wash scheme that differs from place to place. Los Santos had a slightly orangish weather with heat hazes. San Fierro had a unnaturally teal lighting to convey a mild-to-cold atmosphere. Las Venturas went for a less blatant color scheme, but still conveying hot weather. The contry-sides had a pastel green/brown tint to them, and the deserts took it further with bright white/yellow skies that turned purplish at night.
  • Combat Pragmatist: You, C.J., come up against the head of the Da Nang smuggling ring, the Snakehead. In the final showdown, he tosses you a Katana and you duke it out with him. Sounds fun right? But this is Grand Theft Auto. Most players will more than likely have a couple guns on them. Why bother fighting the guy when you can just pump him full of lead, right?note 
  • Commune: A dark example, with a community of violent survivalists.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The Rhino Tanks are the definition of Badass, being incredibly rare to find unless you get a six-star wanted level, or obtain one from the military base. However, these vehicles are very heavy and definitely not nimble when you drive them. However, if you manage to outrun the police, FBI and army in your souped-up Infernus and tear through the countryside, prepare to have the horror of your life when a Rhino Tank bursts out of the woods and charges straight for you at speeds upwards of 120 miles per hour.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Subverted, in a way? When taking Katie Zhan out driving, she will constantly urge the player to go faster, but going too fast means her happiness meter will rapidly decrease, causing her to end the date, if the player exceeds a relatively low speed.
  • Compressed Hair: The player can choose to get a giant afro, which remains entirely undamaged by the wearing and removal of any headgear.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The Truth again. Subverted by Toreno indicating that any well-known conspiracy theories are, in fact, true. In short, Hitler never died, Germany (not the U.S.) nuked Japan, and Bill Clinton was a Soviet plant.
  • Construction Catcalls: The "Deconstruction" mission has C.J.'s sister Kendl complaining about the people of a local construction site hassling her and calling her a hooker. C.J. takes this badly. Very badly.
  • Constructive Body Disposal: One mission has C.J., using a cement truck, pushing a construction foreman into a rectangular pit while the foreman is locked inside a portable bathroom stall. C.J. then proceeds to dump cement from the truck inside the pit.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Certain events trigger allies into harassing you into continuing the mission. Such as if you... accidentally kill your Las Venturas casino employee girlfriend. Yeah, accidentally... that's the ticket.
    • Another variation of this occurs in the "Learning To Fly" missions. If you die or otherwise quit before at least passing every sub-lesson with bronze awards, Mike Toreno will pester CJ with phone calls telling him to finish the mission.
    • Occasionally, if left alone for long enough, C.J. will sing fragments from various songs of the in-game radio, such as Young Turks, Nuthin' But a G Thang, or Never Gonna Get It, to name a few.
  • Continuing is Painful: There's respawning guns right outside your door, if you do certain fetch quests. Relatedly, you could save after the accomplishment of any difficult task, but too much saving in San Andreas creates a "can't beef up my stats by exercising" glitch. Sigh. Luckily, later patches corrected this.
  • Continuity Nod: The nod has some emotion behind it, as Claude from III makes a cameo with a woman he'll end up killing at the end of his own game.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: The game averts this with Tenpenny by having him only appear in cutscenes, presumably so no clever player could kill him before he's supposed to die (also in a cutscene). During the one mission where he is in gameplay, his fire truck is invincible and follows a pre-determined path.
  • Convenient Questing: Averted. The opening of the game drops you off in enemy territory and you have to haul ass on a procured bike to get back to Grove Street before you get perforated by the Ballas.
  • Cool Car: Not just top flight rides such as sports cars, but even half decent cars such as the Sentinel will have NPCs giving very generous compliments to CJ such as "nice car!".
  • Coolest Club Ever: Jizzy's Pleasure Domes. Not a club per se, it's an illegal brothel sitting at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge (or its gaming equivalent, the Gant). Regardless, this is one of the posher interiors in the game, with a three-story dance floor and mezzanine. There are also dance clubs to entertain dates in all three cities.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: If only on the PS2 and Xbox version, by default.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: At the end, your brother stops you from shooting Officer Tenpenny, since he was already fatally wounded and this way it would be an 'accident' with 'no one to blame'. This might fly better if the car crash didn't come after a 5-minute wild chase through the entire city, with Tenpenny firing at you all the way, which started at a building that contains about 2 dozen dead gangsters. Then again, considering the quality of police forces in ''GTA'' games, perhaps it did work.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The corridor is up the middle of a rising plane with the cargo loader door open. The random obstacles are barrels the enemies (human?) are pushing at you.
  • Counterfeit Cash: One storyline mission involves The Mafia trying to flood the new Triad casino in Las Venturas with fake casino chips, though the job is amateurish enough that even a layman can spot major flaws. Of course, the dragon on the fake chips has sunglasses and a cane, and the leader of the Triads is blind, so it was probably intended to upset him. It does.
  • Country Matters:
    • This word is dropped several times through the course of the game. Considering the other offensive words that are used and the overall cringe worthy subject matter of the game, it's not surprising.
    • It even extends to the game files - a large amount of assets related to the countryside have the prefix cunt- attached to them. The Country Rifle weapon is internally named cuntgun.
  • Coup de Grâce: Subverted when it comes to Tenpenny, where he's already dead after delivering his last words, and when the player character takes aim to put a bullet in Tenpenny's corpse, another character tells him it's not worth it.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: The game has several of these, including Pulaski.
  • Crapsaccharine World:
    • Los Santos, whose representation of gang wars is largely based on Boyz n the Hood. On the other hand, San Fierro is not even better, since it's a city where street gangs, drug manufacturing and Asian organized crime are prominent. The only quietest and safest areas in the state of San Andreas are the towns of the rural areas.
    • Downplayed with Las Venturas. While the city has practically zero street gangs, there are several legal businesses of The Mafia, one of them is a casino.
  • Creator Provincialism: A lot of place-names are thinly-disguised ones from Scottish cities. There's also an exact replica of the Forth Rail Bridge. Rockstar North is based in Edinburgh and Dundee and evidently like their in-jokes.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: The gangs can use you for target practice and the police isn't the least interested, but then you kill just one of those Ballas vermin and the police are all over you. In that specific case there's at least the justification that the Los Santos police unit that deals the most with the gangs, C.R.A.S.H., are corrupt as hell and working directly with the Ballas, but you get the same reaction for attacking every other gang in the series, too, such as the drug-trafficking Loco Syndicate in neighboring San Fierro.
  • Critical Existence Failure:
    • Played straight with cars, motorcycles, boats and helicopters; you can damage these vehicles as much as you want with no effect on their performance whatsoever, up until the moment they catastrophically explode. The engine will release smoke as a damage meter of sorts, and fire means it's going to explode in the next ten seconds.
    • Averted with fixed-wing aircraft; taking damage to the wings or rudder can cause the stabilizer fins to snap off, resulting in a nigh-uncontrollable plane. They are also a lot more fragile than other vehicles; hitting any solid object will usually make them catch fire, if not destroy them outright. If you run into a solid wall, that's all she wrote.
    • And vehicles do not handle properly if their tires are damaged. It is common for tires to be shot out, or damaged by spike belts. Several missions become noticeably easier if the player thinks to have C.J. shoot out an enemy vehicle's tires before a chase begins.
    • Played straight with C.J., of course. Unless you fall from a great height without a parachute, that is. And even then, if the paramedic and vigilante side-missions are completed (giving C.J. extra health and armor) it's possible for him to survive even these falls, but with only 1% of your HP left. Get punched by an angry pedestrian afterwards, and you guessed it: dead.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Subverted: as a Shout-Out, you can find one in Area 69, on a desk, but you can't pick it up. Some Game Mods replace the dildo with it.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option:
    • One of the missions involves burying a construction foreman alive in concrete merely because his workers made catcalls at your sister. Oh, and what you buried him inside with concrete poured around it? A Porta-Potty.
    • Early in the game, the mission where you steal Madd Dogg's rhyme book also counts as you do throat-slashing at least a dozen of innocent mansion security without any real justification besides just wanting to help OG Loc.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Being a Wide-Open Sandbox, this is common practice in the Grand Theft Auto series, albeit not to the degree that it's very glaring to your average player. San Andreas however is the biggest offender with regards to interiors.
    • Barber shopsnote , fast food jointsnote , weapons shopsnote , dancing clubs and tattoo parlors are all identical and even use the same workers, so it gets a bit jarring to see a guy that sells guns in San Andreas can also pop up in every other county that sells guns. Strangely, there's a two-floor weapon shop in the game files that doesn't show up in the final game and can only be visited via glitches and/or external programs.
    • During the burglary missions, there are also only a handful of building interiors depending on what kind of building you are breaking into. Strangely, there are (again) some more burglary houses in the game files that could add more diversity, but they don't show up in the final game and can (again) only be visited via glitches and/or external programs.
    • If you pay close enough attention, you'll find quite a few branch shops of a certain "Guadalajara Jewelry Plaza" announced with a Mexican flag (Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city and has a large, active jewelry industry).
  • Cutscene: The game has a main character with a highly variable appearance, yet the cutscenes work with whatever you put together.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: C.J. is constantly pushed around by Tenpenny in their cutscene encounters throughout the game. This might make sense in the beginning, when you haven't had the time to train, but it's ridiculous when you have maxed out muscle and enough weapons to fill an armory, in addition to fighting the Mafia, U.S. Army, secret government agencies, and thousands upon thousands of gangsters of all kinds (and no doubt many police officers). There's a cutscene in Las Venturas when Tenpenny punches C.J. in the stomach, flooring him, even though C.J. should logically be able to take Tenpenny in a straight fight with full muscle.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: No matter how low C.J.'s very relevant stats are, if you make the corona over the hitman's plane, he can now defy the laws of physics and leap from one plane to another and somehow get inside.
  • Cutting the Knot:
    • One mission tasks you with swimming after Ryder, then destroying his hijacked boat. Alternatively, grab your sniper rifle and pop him in the back a few times while he's still in the water. Problem solved.
    • Another mission tasks C.J. with stealing four bundles of dynamite within a set time limit. Or C.J. can shoot the man at the detonator, making the timer disappear.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: In a vehicle example, Pulaski's car has truly insane durability, able to shrug off ten times the amount of firepower a normal car could take. Its wheels, however, are as weak as normal, making the chase part rather easy if you thought to pop the tires ahead. In an NPC example, Big Smoke is almost as tough as the above car, with body armor being the justification. In this case, the easiest way to defeat him is knock him down right away and just stomp on him until his health is depleted.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Some Driv3r players found it difficult switching over to San Andreas, as in the former pressing the triangle button applied the brakes, but in San Andreas it made you enter/exit the car - pain ensues for everyone involved if you happen to be driving at top speed when you press it.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: T-Bone Mendez pulls a variation of this on C.J., trying to scare him into admitting he's a double agent. It doesn't work.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Maccer's addiction to masturbation is the subject of numerous gags.
    Zero (in the radio): No, no, I masturbate quite often, if that's what you're implying...
    • One of the "I Say, You Say" segments also includes a masturbation joke.
  • Dating Sim: The game has this feature. It doesn't tie too much into the story aside from stealing an access card from one of your girlfriends, though you do receive rewards like special outfits and access to their cars.
  • Dead Air: This happens to James Pedeaston, host of "The Wild Traveler". His audience stops calling in after a few insulting and disturbing comments. When the silence begins, he starts begging people to call him, and only receives two calls, one of whom was a jumper.
  • Dead Foot Leadfoot: Almost always averted when you shoot a civilian dead while he or she is still in a car; this is par course for all Grand Theft Auto III-era games. However, shoot a cop chasing you in his squad car, and a glitch may occur, causing his lifeless/headless body to continue giving chase until you pull it out and jack the car.
  • Deadly Remote Control Toy: A mission has Carl using a remote control toy airplane to destroy delivery vans for a remote control toy shop. The mission giver is the owner of a rival remote control toy shop.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The player would normally lose his weapons when he dies, but the penalty can eventually be negated by dating a nurse, after which death only means respawning at the nearest hospital minus a trifling fee. However, if you die during a mission you have to restart it from the beginning.
  • Deconstruction: The game itself has a bitter deconstruction of Best Friend and True Companions. Instead of showing Undying Loyalty among Childhood Friends, they are traitors and bastards in sheep's clothing (Big Smoke and Ryder) who are more than willing to betray their closest friends (C.J. and Sweet). The idea of street loyalty is even mocked by Tenpenny, who mocks C.J. for thinking a bunch of ruthless street thugs would be loyal to each other.
    Tenpenny: Homies for life? Street Loyalty? That's all bullshit, Carl. Didn't you learn that when they ran you out of town, just 'cause you let Brian die?
  • Decoy Convoy: One mission has CJ driving an SUV with tinted windows so an allied mob boss can escape the country. The added difficulty is that if the vehicle becomes too damaged, the assassins will be able to see the boss isn't inside and go after the other cars before he can reach safety.
  • Defiant to the End: Eddie Pulaski, one of the antagonists is this after Carl causes him to crash and asks for any last words. Eddie's response? "Can I fuck your sister?"
    CJ: You an asshole to the end. Punk motherfucker! *head stomp*
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Played for laughs on the news radio station WCTR...
    Lianne Forget: Staying in Venturas — it used to be a patch of desert, then it was a mob town. Now, it is the corporate headquarters of America. Richard explains from the streets.
    Richard Burns: That's right, Lianne. It used to be a patch of desert, then it was a mob town. Now, it is the corporate headquarters of America. Back to you in the studio.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: The game featured the ability to customize some vehicles to enhance their performance and appearance: Usually your car would only really benefit from the nitro speed boosters, but feel free to blow money on the golden dollar-symbol hubcaps and pimp hydraulics.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Tunnels are just big enough to get a helicopter/VTOL jet through.
    • There's a sign atop a bridge saying, 'There are no easter eggs up here. Go away.'
    • San Andreas also changes how C.J. speaks based on his physical appearance. The developers knew some players would try to get CJ as fat as possible, so they have C.J. speak alternate lines to any NPC he interacts with based on his weight (he'll say "Lunch money!" when he takes someone's money for example), or based on his clothes (dress in a suit and he'll say "Just cause I dress nice I can't bang, huh?" as he's stomping a pedestrian). He still speaks the same lines in cutscenes however.
    • Certain missions can't be started if C.J. is too fat and you'll get a special cutscene telling you this. For instance, the mission Green Goo, which requires C.J. to put on a jetpack, won't begin because the jetpack won't fit around him (although if you unlock the jetpack for free roam by finishing said mission or cheating, C.J. can still wear them no matter how fat he is - the limitation is actually due to a pit in Area 69 where you can drop to, but not climb off unless you're fit enough).
    • "Stowaway" has you destroying a plane by planting C4 before jumping out with a parachute, and the plane can be destroyed by shooting it from the inside. Not only do you get a funny mission failed cutscene for jumping out the plane without a parachute, but if you happen to have a parachute before you start the mission, you can just shoot the plane and jump out before the explosion kills you, skipping most of the mission.
    • Many areas have proper pathfinding for cars even if traffic never spawns there. Lose a wanted level in a place such as the San Fierro docks and you will see the police cars making their way back onto the main roads.
    • If you go one dollar past the apparent cap of $99,999,999, the money counter rolls over and adds another digit. The actual limit is $999,999,999.
    • Radio host comments will change based upon the weather. Some DJs will also remark on current game events, such as the riots that dominate Los Santos during the final stage of the game beyond the evolving news report segments.
    • Something that can only be seen if the player rotates the camera to view the front of a car while driving: if CJ's Driving skill level is low, he'll turn around to look out the back window when in reverse. If his Driving skill level is high, he'll just turn his head enough to use the rearview mirror.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: The game has an over-arching plot involving the murder of the hero's mother, Beverly Johnson, as part of a coup d'état within the Grove Street families. Corrupt junk squad officer Frank Tenpenny is behind it, promoting Grove Street capo Big Smoke to drug baron in exchange for his cut. Big Smoke takes over as lead villain once Tenpenny is tried for murder (though he is later acquitted), with numerous gangs answering to him, including the Ballas, the Los Santos Vagos, and the Russian mob.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In a meta-example, this can happen as a result of certain gameplay mechanics. For example, since planes may occasionally glitch into crash-landings, it is possible, but unlikely, to get hit by a plane during a mission.
  • Dialog During Gameplay: The game has this during some boss scenes. Thus, sometimes delaying the death blow so the player can hear what else the opponent has to say.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Shooting things well was gun practice, allowing the player to eventually dual wield, fire while walking and other such shooting improvements. Find a hubcap and just go nuts. Just don't shoot the gas tank cover.
  • Dig Your Own Grave: Officer Tenpenny has C.J. do this when C.J. finally outlives his usefulness. Though it isn't C.J. who ends up in the grave.
  • Dirty Business: Carl Johnson has to do a lot of this at various points in the game.
  • Dirty Cop: Officers Tenpenny and Pulaski.
  • Dirty Old Monk: The mission "Jizzy" has you drop off a prostitute to a priest at a hotel. Later he manages to convert the prostitute and you must kill them, all while the priest urges the girl to keep undressing during the getaway so he can see the extent of her corruption.
    The Priest: Don't worry girl, the Lord's army will come to our aid, just keep undressing!
  • Disability Superpower: Played with and averted with Woozie. His underlings say that he has incredible luck, but it's mostly just them allowing him to win. Later, at his casino, someone comes in and drops two chips on the table, saying that they have a problem; Woozie immediately says that one of them is fake, and C.J. thinks it's this, allowing him to identify fakes by the sound — but Woozie dismissively explains that he just took a guess because why else would someone would only drop two chips on the table and sound so worried.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • If you look underneath the two bridges right behind Grove Street (to the immediate east of it on the map), you can find a submachine gun and some body armor, long before unlocking Ammu-Nation. There is also at least two AK-47 and a Desert Eagle lurking around Los Santos, waiting to be picked up. Those makes the earlier missions a lot easier. Actually knowing where the various weapon pickups are scattered throughout the cities is much more convenient than saving up to buy at Ammu-Nation.
    • There is also how killing drug dealers (can be recognized with black tank top or white covering up hoodie, usually standing still with arms crossed in front of them, a stance no other NPC does) drops more than a lengthy side mission would do. Best done before the mission which starts the turf wars, as Ballas presence were minimum.
  • Disney Death: Mike Toreno appears to die around the time Carl turns on Jizzy, but later reappears to give you missions.
  • Disposable Woman: Beverly Johnson, whose death prompts C.J. to return to San Andreas and kicks off the plot.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the "Deconstruction" mission, C.J. finds out that some construction workers have been calling his sister Kendl a hooker. C.J.'s response is to head over to the construction plant to "teach them some respect." How does he do this? He smashes up their portables with a bulldozer, and then traps the foreman in his own porta-potty, pushes it into a hole in the ground with the poor bastard still inside, and then commandeers a cement mixer and uses it to bury him alive. And all the while he's doing that last bit, the poor guy is screaming "OH GOD, NO!" This mission appears to disturb a lot of players as it seems out of character for the violent, yet sympathetic C.J., as he buries a guy alive because his crew insulted his sister.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After Tenpenny plays the gangs against each other, his acquittal set off a city-wide riot. The game takes place in 1992. Considering that the cities in the GTA universe so obviously replace real ones, and combined with all the real-life based events, this might actually run into Alternate History.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When Big Bear finally makes it clear that he's had it with B-Dup's abuse and punches his face in.
    • Also, Hernandez turning on Tenpenny and Pulaski, who had repeatedly treated him very poorly.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: C.J. doesn't get sex after like the tenth date, but then again, he also never asks for it.
    • Unless you collect all the oysters during the game, in which case the girls always invite him in for a "coffee".
    • Also, if you wear the Gimp suit when meeting Millie, you automatically enter her house.
      C.J.: Here we go again with the kinky shit...
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: The games have the convention of letting you run around while firing small or inaccurate weapons, while forcing you to stand still while firing more powerful guns. San Andreas, however, ups the ante by letting you move slowly while firing the more powerful weapons, though that's once you reach a certain skill level (and even then, your movement speed when not firing them is still slower if you're holding them out).
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Three guesses as to where you receive missions from Pulaski and Tenpenny. There are also various cutscenes where a crime you're committing forces some cops to abandon their donuts and actually do their jobs, much to their frustration.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Judging from the voiceovers, Catalina ties C.J. to a rack, whips him and then has her way with him. This is played for laughs and then never mentioned again.
    Catalina: How was it?
    C.J.: Different.
  • Downer Beginning: The game starts with C.J. (who left Los Santos for five years after Brian's murder) returning home to bury his murdered mother, which is grim enough. As soon as he arrives, he's picked up by Tenpenny and Pulaski, who steal a lot of his money, frame him for a cop killing they committed, and dump him in the middle of Ballas turf. And when C.J. does make it to the cemetery in Vinewood, he finds that his other brother, Sweet, is pissed at him for leaving and that his old gang is in shambles.
  • Down L.A. Drain: The Los Santos storm drain system appears in a particularly memorable mission. Before and after that, it's a good way to slink around half the city, as it has slopes that lead to street level everywhere, and there's absolutely no traffic.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: The game combines this with Color-Coded for Your Convenience with street gang members (Grove Street Families green, Ballas purple, Vagos yellow, and Aztecas cyan) so that you knew who would shoot at you on sight (Ballas and Vagos).
  • Drive-Thru Antics: Early in the story, CJ drives his crew to the nearby burger joint, and after everyone places a modest order, the resident Big Eater Big Smoke rattles off one so long, it easily eclipses the rest of the gang's combined. The order is extra-long because he's trying to buy time for the Ballas to turn up and attack the gang.
  • Drives Like Crazy: A Running Gag is people taking issue with C.J.'s questionably poor driving... then telling him to drive anyway. Being a Grand Theft Auto game, this is probably a lampshade hanging.
    • Every other AI-controlled vehicle in the game. Oh, you're trying to get patients to the hospital? Let me just run this red light and sideswipe you. Not to mention the fact that a fender-bender can turn into demolition derby when the guy you hit decides to kill you for it.
  • Driving into a Truck: In at least one mission you have to do this.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters ain't down with that shit, at least the hard ones such as crack cocaine — weed is OK, apparently. C.J. comes around to this realization when he sees that even a badass like Big Bear can be made into a bitch for rock. You can encounter drug dealers through out the game, and they will ask you if you want some rock. Even if you say yes, C.J., in no uncertain terms, tells the guy to take his business elsewhere. Also, each dealer carries $2000 without exception, more money than the vast majority of Los Santos missions provide; so in the early chapters, waging your own personal war on drugs is to your extreme advantage.
  • Dual Wielding: If C.J. gets his weapon skill up to Hitman with the Pistol, Sawn-Off Shotgun, or Micro-SMG, he can pack one in each hand for double the devastation. You will lose accuracy when doing this, but when Rule of Cool is in full effect like this you simply won't care. This also makes the AmmuNation shooting range challenge slightly easier.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: OK, you've completed all the collectibles, bought all property, completed all side missions, you're a proven master of vehicles both on the land, water and in the air, the Grove Street Families' territory is bigger than it has ever been and yet when your brother is freed from jail due to your connections with the government he still treats you like a noob, chewing you out on leaving Los Santos behind again. Sweet's behavior is justified, since he has been in jail all the time without any contact to outside, and he has no way of knowing about your various exploits, or your reasons for leaving. Given this situation, it makes sense for him to react this way. Nevertheless, the sudden shift in mood can be a bit perplexing for the player.
    • Averted earlier in the game; after getting Grove Street back on its feet, Sweet finally acknowledges Carl after taking every prior opportunity to chastise him for running away years ago:
      Sweet: Ryder, give C.J. a break, man. He practically turned the Families 'round all by himself.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: A lot of missions only reward you with "respect", rather than money. Tenpenny's missions don't even give you that.
  • Dumb Muscle: Jizzy specifically refers to C.J. as this repeatedly (apparently the game is assuming you've been spending some time at the gym). He's wrong, but C.J. was trying to get on his good side so he could snap at him behind his back.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The factory filled with Russian weapon smugglers. Half of it can be bypassed by driving a tall vehicle to the back wall, clamber onto the car roof and jump the fence.
  • Early Game Hell: Previous games in the series were much more generous in regards to money rewards in early game — III gave rewards in the Portland missions around the thousands each time, even though there was nothing to spend them on (no safehouses, and the Portland Ammu-Nation selling only very basic weapons); Vice City dropped rewards in early game to the hundreds, and gave more things to spend them on (with several safehouses to buy, and Ammu-Nation starting to sell decent weapons much earlier), but at least offered some cash just by doing the story. In San Andreas, in contrast, the missions in Los Santos that reward cash can be counted on one hand, there are also several safehouses to buy from the start (and, considering the map is much bigger, they are more important than ever), and there's a new money sink in the form of customization options (haircuts, tattoos, clothes, etc). Completing side missions to earn cash (well, that or abusing Save Scumming when horse betting) is now not only recommended, but required, if the player doesn't want to stay completely broke. The rewards are much better around San Fierro, and by Las Venturas the player will be swimming in cash, but Los Santos requires a good management of resources.
  • Earth Is Young: The Epsilon Program believes that the world is only 157 years old.
  • Easter Egg: So, so many. There's a sign saying "There are no Easter Eggs up here. Go away." on top of one of the towers of the Gant Bridge in San Fierro. Furthermore, if you go to the Bridge's tourist gift shop, you will see a piece of the bridge's cable, and a plaque describing how much disc space the bridge takes up (A "staggering" 1.27 megabytes of space!). Also many audio Easter eggs on the various radio stations.
  • Easy Level Trick:
    • The series often forces the player to hunt down antagonists before battling them. Occasionally, it's possible to kill the antagonists before or during the hunt—for instance, Ryder can be killed with a sniper rifle before he reaches the speedboat he's supposed to flee in.
    • A lot of the escort missions force you to make sure your vehicle doesn't blow up while roaming gang cars are shooting from you at all angles. You could either have mad skills in driving... or just drive off road and avoid rival cars altogether.
    • In one of the first missions in San Andreas, you have to follow a train in a motorbike with Big Smoke in the back seat shooting bad guys standing on top of the train. The shortcut is to get the bike, run ahead of the train, climb a concrete rail and a bridge, stop at the roof of a building and jump on top of the train as it passes. Now shoot at will. But there's a time limit for this technique, as there's a certain bridge passing over the train that knocks you from the top of the train. Alternatively, tap the accelerate button instead of holding it to make the bike go faster, which is also an Easy Level Trick on any bike races.
    • Ambulance missions in San Andreas got even worse than they were in previous installments, since every new level reset the timer, making it impossible to build up a reserve like in previous titles. Unless you did them in Angel Pine (the town you're dropped into after The Green Sabre mission), in which case all targets spawn within the village, seconds from one another. Firefighting missions are far easier because the timer doesn't reset each level, and the time limit is generous, meaning you have lots of time to complete its 12 levels.
    • In the mission where after a helicopter crash, you lose all your weapons except for a knife, you can swim to surface and buy weapons before coming back to attack the ship.
    • In Zero's final mission, you have to face off against Berkley in RC helicopters. Your job is to remove obstructions so Zero can drive his RC to Berkley's base, while Berkley will use his helicopter to drop barrels on the path and tanks to attack Zero. However, you can grab a bomb and drop it on Berkley's helicopter, removing him from the game and significantly reducing the number of obstructions you'll have to deal with (or, as it is a Timed Mission, you can drop hard objects several times to any of the enemy vehicles, three drops are enough to destroy them and none of them recognizes you).
    • Taking over gang territory requires you to pop a few of the relevant gang members on foot to start a war for that territory, then kill several waves of really well-armed gangsters. This is mercifully optional during the first part of the game (and incidentally meaningless aside from earning a lot of SMG and rifle ammo), but not during the final part. Fortunately, the game only requires you to make the first few kills on foot. If you have, say, a tank, there's nothing stopping you from using that once the gang war is started.
    • Cutting ahead of officer Pulaski in "High Noon" and shooting his tires out avoids a lengthy chase against his far superior car. However, attempting to do it before the chase actually starts doesn't do anything. You can also just jack his car from the right side, which kills him as soon as he's shoved out. It's also possible to shoot the tires of Jizzy's car in "Ice Cold Killa".
    • Escaping Big Smoke's crack den in "End of the Line" is much easier if you completed level 12 of the firefighter missions, due to it making you completely fireproof.
    • In “Uncle Sam,” carefully drive the Packer around a corner where Rider doesn't stand in the way of fire and the mission should be easier to deal with.
  • Easy Sex Change: With tongue firmly in cheek, one of the fake radio ads advertises this sort of thing.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Carl must infiltrate one of these under a base called Area 69. Yes, it's inspired by Area 51.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Played for laughs in the radio news broadcasts, where a government official being interviewed about certain mysterious black helicopters responds with just "Helicopters? What helicopters?", with the spinning helicopter rotors clearly audible in the background.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The authorities get stronger and wield heavier weapons as you gain a higher wanted level. At level 3, SWAT team members will rappel down from helicopters in full body armor packing Uzis. At level 4, more show up in armored SWAT trucks. At level 5, the FBI shows up in their lightning-fast SUVs and carry deadly MP5s. Finally, at level 6, the military shows up with M4s driving tanks and troop transports, the former able to detonate any car almost instantly on impact (mercifully, they cannot use the main gun).
    • Gang wars have three waves of escalating numbers and difficulty. The first wave has thugs equipped with same pistols and Uzis they always have. The second has a mix of MP5s and AK-47s. The third wave is equipped almost exclusively with AK-47s.
  • El Spanisho: In one mission, Big Smoke is trying to negotiate with some Mexican gangsters before he loses his patience and demands...
    Smoke: Hey, excuso me, yo soy El Grando Smokio, and I want that grass. Comprende?
    Cholo: Hey, fuck you, cabrón.
    Smoke: Now, that ain't nice. Coughio up el weedo, before I blow your brains out all over the patio
    Cholo: ¡Ay, chinga tu madre, pendejo! (Hey, fuck your mama, asshole!)
  • Elvis Impersonator: Several hundred wandering the streets of Las Venturas. And they are played by different ethnicities! The hispanic ones just do really awful Elvis impersonations, but the black ones would more accurately be called "Little Richard impersonators" and act accordingly. Amusingly, the game keeps track of the number of Elvis impersonators you've killed on the stats screen. Uh huh.
  • Endless Corridor: Unlike the other GTA games, which stopped players from leaving the designated zone with an Invisible Wall, leaving the island (via boat plane or even swimming) would lead you through an endless zone of sea and sky. You can fly in one direction for an hour straight trying to get to Liberty City; it will also took you an hour to get back to land. And after going out a certain distance, you can't get back to land except by crashing or restoring the game. Subtly lampshaded in that one particular airplane mission happens a significant distance away from the map.
  • Entendre Failure:
    Carl: Does the Pope shit in the woods?
    Cesar: I keep telling you, I don't know, holmes. Where His Holiness does his business is his business.

    The Truth: I never made love to my mother. She wouldn't.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Carl goes from being poor in Ganton with only his late mother's house and the clothes on his back, to building a criminal empire across San Andreas.
  • Erudite Stoner:
    • The Truth (voiced by Peter Fonda) from is one. Also grows his own stuff, for consumption and distribution.
    • Ryder too, to an extent. He wants to be one, at one point he claims he was thrown out of school because he was 'too intelligent for this shit', and not because he beat up a teacher for wearing Balla colours.
    • As his name implies, Big Smoke, however, has his moment (which is instantly ruined by CJ):
      Big Smoke: Like it says in the book... We are both blessed and cursed.
      Carl Johnson: What fuckin' book?
    • There's also this random NPC quote:
      "I smoke 'cause it gives me knowledge!"
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Did anyone not see Big Smoke and Ryder selling out to Tenpenny and Pulaski from a mile away?
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The Johnson siblings dearly love their mother Beverly, so much so her murder prompted Carl to return home in the first place. Officer Pulaski finds out how much C.J. loves his mama — the hard way.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Grove Street Families, the Varrio Los Aztecas and the Mountain Cloud Boys do bad things, but all of them strongly oppose the sale of hard drugs. Drug dealing is presented as the ultimate evil.
  • Everybody Knew Already: Woozie's blindness. He's convinced that he acts normally enough to be indistinguishable from someone sighted, but he feels his way around everywhere and fires an MP5 like... well, someone who can't see (although, ironically, he still shoots better than many others, such as Smoke in "Wrong Side of the Tracks"). Everyone humors him.
    Woozie: I have a confession to make. I... I'm blind.
    C.J.: No shit.
  • Everyone Is Armed: A cheat code causes all pedestrians to be armed, carrying everything from handguns to Rocket-Propelled Grenades.
  • Every Pizza Is Pepperoni: Not only are all the pizzas CJ can get at Well-Stacked Pizza pepperoni, the restaurant's logo and radar icon depict a slice of pepperoni pizza. However, looking at their menu reveals alternate toppings.
  • Experience Points: The game uses respect that can actually increase or decrease depending on actions.
  • Exploited Immunity: Being the first game in the series where the player can swim, C.J. can evade pursuit by jumping into water. The pursuers will jump in after him, but they have Super Drowning Skills.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The game brings us a rap song summing up the basic story behind C.J., and some explanation about the game's defining elements.
  • Eyepatch of Power: You can have C.J. wear an eyepatch as soon as you get access to the Binco in Ganton. Having one of his eyes covered up doesn't negatively affect him a bit.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Big Smoke and Ryder. Subverted in that they were never faces in the first place. Arguably, Ryder was, very early in the game. At least he was shooting with you and Sweet. Alternatively, at least he was pretending to shoot with you and Sweet. Perhaps it is a matter of Heel-Heelier Turn.
    • Averted with several characters (specifically Toreno, Cesar and Woozie) who are depicted as having the potential to betray CJ but who never actually do.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Played with in this game, which has many RPG elements. Characters will notice if you are out of shape or if you are not wearing the appropriate gang colors. You can pick and choose clothes and whatever you are wearing shows up in the cut scenes. However, characters will not notice if you attend, for example, a serious business meeting in a gimp suit. Said meeting includes the character's sister. Ew.
  • Fake Band: The Gurning Chimps, although, unlike their predecessor Love Fist, they don't have any songs on in-game radio.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Driving school isn't hard per se, though certainly some of the tricks you need to pull off take practice. What makes getting all gold truly difficult is the fact that they not only expect you to do these tricks, but to do them so perfectly that you stop in exactly the right position facing exactly the right way without so much as dinging your car. Bike school is easier, having less classes and the bike being easier to maneuver. Flight school is similar, except the timer is even less forgiving and you're trying to fly vehicles which have, at best, awkward controls. Boating school is downright simple by comparison. Thankfully, you only need bronzes for the 100% Completion reward. Driving school doesn't even have a decent reward, just a fairly Cool Car (though it does unlock some additional missions leading up to the particularly lucrative import/export sidequest). At least you get an attack helicopter for beating flight school.
    • Once you get far enough that you can start taking over gang territories for Grove Street, it becomes almost trivially easy to collect thousands of rounds of SMG and automatic rifle ammunition. So naturally, once you've finished the missions for that area, you lose all your guns and all the territory you took over becomes enemy property.
    • Certain missions will automatically equip you with a specific type of weapon at key moments. You have no control over this, so even if you had been carrying a stronger weapon than what the game gives you, you're forced to use the weaker weapon.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: While not foreign, Eddie Pulaski is supposed to be a Polish-American - obviously named after Casimir Pulaski, featured in many American place names.
  • Fan Disservice: Maccer is revealed to have had a liaison with a hillbilly woman, giving her an ugly case of "the red bumpies". That, and most of Maccer's masturbation fantasies are nauseating in general.
  • Far East:
    • One of the weapons that CJ can find in Chinatown is a Japanese sword.
    • At the Cobra Martial Arts Gym, the master wears a Chinese martial arts uniform while his students wear Japanese martial arts uniforms. Also, the fighting style that CJ can learn at that gym consists entirely of kicks, which is characteristic of some forms of Tae Kwon Do (a Korean martial art).
    • The Yakuza cheat code fills the streets with Triads using katanas and bikes.
  • Fatal Method Acting: In-universe example. Early on, the player can listen to WCTR and hear an example. Jack Howitzer appears on "Entertaining America" to promote his new film and brings a gun with him. He tries to calm host Billy Dexter by saying that it's not loaded, then fatally shoots him. On the bright side, Dexter is replaced by Lazlow.
  • Fat Bastard:
    • Big Smoke is quite heavy and usually lets the player and the other homies do all the work. In one mission, a rival gang attacks your gang in a car and during the firefight, Big Smoke eats everyone's food that they ordered instead of shooting back. This becomes more clear when C.J. later on finds out Big Smoke is actually on the side of the rival gang and is selling drugs, something that C.J.'s gang was fighting to get rid of.
    • Also C.J. if you have him eating a lot to rack up fat.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Tenpenny serves as this once his true colors are shown.
  • Filth: Queens, The Gayborhood in San Fierro, has a porn theater showing the rather unimaginative Wizard of Ass.
  • Fire Means Chaos: You will come across flaming cars during riots.
  • Firing One-Handed: Carl "C.J." Johnson can dual-wield Sawed Off Shotguns.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: The game had you taking pictures of photograph icons spread throughout the environments. The pictures actually end up as screenshots in the game's folder (including the in-game text telling you how far along you are in the sidequest).
  • Flanderization: Catalina is a total adrenaline junkie, unlike in GTA III.
  • Flunky Boss: Big Smoke constantly calls in Vagos mooks until you kill him.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Sharks, dolphins and whatever else is underwater can become this due to a rocket glitch.
  • Fog of War: The game utilizes this extremely well. If you mod away the drawing distance and go to, say, Mount Chiliad, you'll see that the map, while impressive for 2004, isn't quite as big as it seems. By utilizing the draw distance, making vehicles look like they are going fast, and the huge size of almost everything makes the map feels huge.
  • Forbidden Zone: Area 69, a military and research compound. Getting past the fence at ground level instantly gives you a 5-star warrant level, and you'll be shot down by missiles or the military's fighter jets if you approach the area by air. There's one mission where you do get the chance to sneak into the facility and see why the area is so heavily guarded; using alien technology, the military created a jet pack that allows the wearer to fly. You get to keep it once you complete the mission.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: At one point, sooner or later, you're going to have to spend an hour or so doing some diving practice so you can qualify for one of Woozie's missions. Thank goodness the Chinese Triads and the 'bad guys' will wait however long it takes for you to practice swimming. What makes this ridiculous is that the mission itself serves as a tutorial, even though you need to grind to unlock it, and the point of being able to dive (to avoid the patrol boats) is easily bypassed by sinking the boats or killing their crews. You'll also have to grind for muscle or fat build up when it comes to certain girlfriends so that they'll start dating you, but this can be bypassed by finding all the oysters in the game.
  • Forced Tutorial: The game makes you complete flight school to progress, despite you being able to fly perfectly fine previously, and despite you never needing to use the maneuvers that the school teaches you. But you do get a prize for doing it well enough, so it's not a total time waster. It's very difficult though (Truth in Television if you've ever tried to get a pilot's license).
  • Foreshadowing: Let's face it, despite the subtlety, Rockstar really wasn't trying to hide Big Smoke's impending betrayal. The clues were right in our faces.
    • He moved out of Grove Street to buy a house in Idlewood (aka Ballas turf) with money he claimed was given to him by his aunt. It most likely came from drug dealing.
    • Big Smoke never attended C.J.'s mother's funeral and decided to stay in the house (possibly to attack Sweet once he would arrive inside), and right when he meets CJ, he tosses the bat right onto the table on top of the photo of C.J.'s mother.
    • The Ballas never target Ryder or Big Smoke during the first mission. Likewise, during "Drive Thru", Big Smoke doesn't fire at the Ballas.
    • During the "Drive Thru" mission, Big Smoke tried to change the subject right when C.J. talks about his mother's death towards Sweet, and on that same mission, when Sweet and Ryder attempted to kill the Ballas after the gang tried to head to their turf, Big Smoke deliberately uses the food as an excuse to refuse to even lift a finger to help them. It's also possible that his long order beforehand was a way to lengthen the time to keep the Grove Street Family out of the hood to give the Ballas time to kill the other members of the hood, including C.J. and Sweet.
    • During "Wrong Side of the Tracks", when C.J. asks Big Smoke what was really going on, Big Smoke immediately tried to change the subject and asks C.J. if he would like to go for a ride.
    • During "Just Business", while C.J. and Big Smoke are attacked and chased by Russians, Smoke parks in front of a barricade the Russians set up rather than find some way to go around them up until C.J. kills them, claims the motorbike can't pick up speed, and somehow, the Russians seem to know where the two were going.
    • During "Reuniting the Families", right after C.J. and Sweet meet up with the Families at a local hotel where the police arrive, Big Smoke and Ryder abandon them, but do return afterwards. However, during the police chase, Big Smoke, the driver of the chase, circles around the neighborhood twice and drives through an active car wash, causing C.J. to get soap in his eyes. There's also the end, in which the helicopter is hovering low and Big Smoke decides to floor it straight through rather than back up. He also claims the brakes were out, even though he had just had the car speeding, which was another sign he subtly tried to kill C.J. and Sweet.
    • The license plate on his car reads "A 2 TMFK" which could be interpreted as "a two-time motherfucker", hinting at his actions in the game.
    • Big Smoke constantly has Tenpenny and Pulaski visiting his house.
  • Forgot the Disability: Wu Zi Mu is first met during a car race, with The Reveal that he's blind coming as a surprise to CJ. There are a few scenes where the joke is that he's blind (running into a wall or shooting randomly) and a few where other people forget about it, such as the heist planning scenes.
    Woozie: Hey, are you pointing again?
  • Forklift Fu: There's forklifts, and at least one mission that requires the player to use one. However, they are so slow and unwieldy (due to the rear wheel drive) that pretty much any other vehicle in the game would make a more effective killing tool.
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: Tony the Parrot.
    Tony: Brawk, I never fucked over anyone in my life who didn't have it coming!
  • Free Rotating Camera: The "Rotation And Tilt" variation.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • C.J. will sometimes mockingly say that he had a bad childhood when killing random people. That and he will also "blame society".
    • Catalina blurts one out when complaining about C.J.'s (subjective) lack of backbone in their crime sprees. C.J. is appropriately horrified by the aside.
  • A Friend in Need: Cesar leading C.J. to the Wham Mission is what solidifies their friendship.
  • Friendship Moment:
    • Cesar fully earns Carl's trust when he shows him Smoke and Ryder's betrayal.
    • C.J. learning about Woozie's blindness also qualifies, as the two become noticeably more buddy-buddy afterward.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: C.J. goes from being a random gangbanger (not even leader of his own street gang!) to semi-respected businessman and head of a criminal empire that extends over the entire state.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In "Cleaning the Hood", while Ryder sarcastically greets Ballas pushers to take them out, take a close look at the background. You can actually see a Balla getting some head from a hooker.
    • Because San Andreas is a living environment, it's not uncommon for CJ to encounter NPCs engaging in non-sequitur-silled conversations, police chases, fights, shootings, vehicular accidents, plane crashes, and general insanity going on completely separate from what the player is doing...
    • Especially the plane crash, where it was acknowledged that to save AI processing, they are simply programmed to fly straight after appearing in a certain height relative to the player's position.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • An example: Ban Immigration Greencards Outright Today!
    • San Andreas also has Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, which was an actual unit of the LAPD.note 
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The infamous Madd Dogg glitch. A glitch in a mission where you had to save him from his own suicide attempt by positioning a truck full of hay under him before he could jump off a building would become unwinnable because he would jump off the building before the cutscene ended. This glitch also made the game unwinnable, and this is compounded by the fact that no one is certain what triggers this glitch; it seems to be completely random. Many suggestions have been made, the most commonly accepted "cause" being that it's caused by cheating extremely often, or using common cheats. This is discredited, since many people who never cheated once the entire game still had the glitch occur, while some that cheated extensively never saw it. One cause is the "pedestrians riot" cheat (which cannot be turned off), causing everyone to become hostile to each other. This mission is affected because Madd Dogg's character attempts to run to the nearest NPC to fight them, and in doing so, runs off the roof and dies. This is made even worse by it being one of the last missions in the game, meaning that if you get this glitch, you're screwed and have to start all over and pray you don't get the glitch again. Though, mercifully, it seems as though it never happens in two new games in a row.
    • Also, if you save in Madd Dogg's mansion, all basketballs on the world map will be deleted from the game, meaning you can't play it again in that particular save. This one is minor, since basketball is not needed for 100% Completion, but another glitch involving the mansion that you should worry about involves saving there, which corrupts your file.
    • There's one in the Woozie mission "Mountain Cloud Boys" (reported to occur in at least the PC and PS2 versions). After you take Woozie around the block to the ambush Triad meeting, once you get out of the car and the cutscene plays, you won't be able to control C.J., the camera, or do anything except go to the pause menu. Fortunately, you can defuse this one by stopping at the target before Woozie stops talking about the Vietnamese gang, thus preventing the cutscene from running.
    • One of Zero's missions involving using a radio-controlled toy airplane to kill a team of couriers is rendered next to impossible by a glitch that depletes the plane's fuel at a steady rate instead of only being used when C.J. hits the gas, which means there's no way to conserve fuel; in the PS2 version, it's basically impossible to finish Zero's missions without cheating.
    • One of the missions early on in Los Santos requires you to impress a DJ with your dancing skills via button rhythm mini-game. Playing on an HDTV makes the game almost impossible to complete due to input lag or the controls simply not responding to any button pressing. Since the game was released in a time where HDTV was still a new format, the game wasn't exactly optimized for it.
    • Flying very far into the ocean is a Good Bad Bug in the PS2 version as it triggers the territory glitch, but in the PC and XBOX versions, it corrupts your file and prevents the game from spawning clients during the taxi sidequest. Considering the taxi sidequest is needed for 100% Completion, it's a big deal if it hadn't been completed before.
    • An extremely rare, but unfortunate, glitch can cause a constant game crash when approaching the Easter Basin docks. Very rarely, the game accidentally deletes the blackboard used for import / export when removing the traffic cones used for the car and bike school tests, and then has trouble when loading the area around the now-missing blackboard. The import / export sidequest and the NRG-500 challenge are located in this area, and they're both needed for 100% Completion.
    • Though not a game ender, there is a glitch where if you take one of the hookers into a Transfender body shop, instead of the standard "nothing happens except the car shaking", you will see the hooker bend over to give C.J. oral sex.
    • An update to the Steam version of the game caused all save files to become corrupt, effectively wiping out all progress globally. On top of this, several resolution sizes (1920 x 1080 most notably) were mysteriously removed and mouse controls became bugged.
  • Game Gourmet: CJ can buy food from all different restaurants and street vendors to replenish his health bar. These range from fast food joints to diners to fine dining, and each restaurant has its own menu to choose from.
  • Game Mod: Various, from re-textures, re-models, to custom cars, to even the one which sparked controversy in 2005...
    • The infamous Hot Coffee mod, which is a simple event trigger. In the game, C.J. can have sex with various women, but the depiction is limited to seeing them entering the woman's house. Hot Coffee re-enables a Dummied Out sequence where the player not only gets to watch but controls the action to a degree. It was later patched out. The discovery led to a brief revival of the Games Are Evil panic. Incidentally, PC players tend to avoid said patch not because they want to enable it, but rather because it disables any modification to the game files, and later releases included measures against modding the game's files.
    • The SilentPatch, a fan-made patch that addresses many leftover issues present in the PC version and even adds features such as FLAC music format support and restore of the features missing from the PlayStation release. The same creator also has created mods such as GInput (enhances modern controller support for the game), and the Silent ASI Loader (a loader that allows use of .asi plugins such as Widescreen Fix).
    • Project 2DFX extends the draw distance dramatically to the point that you can see the desert from the tallest building in San Fierro or Mount Chilliad for a different Scenery Porn experience compared to the vanilla.
    • CLEO, a powerful scripting system that, despite being infamous for very buggy, is capable of doing stuff that outside of the games limitation itself. Examples such as adding customizable racing missions complete with ability to bring your own cars (N-Races), the ability system from Grand Theft Auto V, ability to automatically wear helmet when riding a motorcycle, and the ability to free aim while driving or riding.
    • GTA Vice City Stories: PC Edition, a standalone total conversion of San Andreas that brings Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories to PC. Due to copyright issues, it lacks the soundtracks and has no missions.
    • Things to do in San Andreas, a major total conversion project that restores many of the game's cut and missing content and aims to fix them. Unfortunately, this mod would require players to start a new game due to the sheer amount of content being added that would conflict with saves from older game scripts. There is however a lightweight and mod-friendly offshoot in the form of Storyline Enhancement Mod.
    • Mobile to PC Research Project, a community effort of bringing the enhancements from the mobile port of the game to the PC version.
    • The PC release of San Andreas has considerable popularity in Japan because of or leading to the mass number of Touhou Project mods made for it.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • C.J. is not a nice man, but in the cutscenes at least he's more of an Anti-Hero who cares about family and neighborhood and will not cross some moral lines. None of this prevents you from... say, beating old women to death with a baseball bat or going on a rampage just for kicks. Nor will anyone treat C.J. differently for doing such things.
    • In early cutscenes, Ryder will constantly criticize C.J. over his driving skills. While reckless driving is a GTA tradition, he'll still give you shit even if you've never so much as scratched a car.
    • Early on, Tenpenny and Pulaski force C.J. into doing their dirty work on threat of framing him for a cop-killing they committed. You can do worse than that over the course of the game, going so far as to kill hundreds of cops, agents and soldiers, but the worst you'll ever get is a brief stay in jail and confiscation of weapons (and even that can be circumvented if you have a relationship with Barbara, herself a cop). It also helps that the officer Tenpenny ordered killed was on the verge of exposing internal corruption within the LSPD, and is thus of a greater concern for him.
    • You can take over gang territories by killing a few of the local members then taking out a few waves. Not only do the missions not recognize this fact, they will actively change territories back and force you to take them over again, facing much heavier resistance than is common for those regions.
    • At several times in the story, C.J. will mention that he has very little money, and sometimes that he is in desperate need of cash. This despite the fact that, without cheating, a player may have earned one dollar short of a billion via various side-missions and gambling at the off-track betting center.
    • Also, after finishing the race with Claude, Catalina hands him the papers for an old garage, instead of the pinkslip for Claude's car. C.J. is pissed and whines about how he feels cheated out of a cool car (acquireable through other means) and has to own a "crappy" safe house in a ridiculously convenient location with a spacious garage. His sister at least chews him out over this.
    • In the last mission, Carl will mock Big Smoke for wearing body armor, even though any self-respecting player probably came into the place wearing some, not to mention the fact that there's an armor pickup in the room.
    • Prior to the "Reuniting the Families" mission, Seville Boulevard, Temple Drive and Grove Street are (allegedly) all feuding for unclear reasons. This rivalry is only seen in the "Sweet's Girl" mission, where CJ needs to kill a bunch of Seville Boulevard bangers and get Sweet and his girl back to the Grove. In free-roam, not only is Seville and Temple not hostile to CJ, he can recruit members from those sets like he could with Grove Street.
  • Gameplay Roulette: Done right, since that's part of the fun.
  • Game Within a Game: The game had clones of Tempest, Asteroids and Defender (Go Go Space Monkey, Let's Get Ready to Bumble, Duality, and They Crawled from Uranus). You could also play billiards at one of the local bars.
  • Gangbangers: The Groves, the Ballas, the Varrios Los Aztecas and the Vagos.
  • Gangsta Style: Naturally, this affects the gangstas here. You even see C.J. using it with Guns Akimbo. (He even fires a pair of luparas this way if you level your skill with that weapon up all the way.) Note that all other weapons are held conventionally (well, as conventionally as possible, for the minigun). This is also the standard stance for Mafia, highway patrol, and SWAT teams – as an exception, standard police patrols hold their pistols with both handsnote .
  • Gayborhood: The Queens district in San Fierro, based on, of course, the most famous Gayborhood in the world — The Castro, San Francisco.
  • Gayngster: OG Loc. You first encounter him fresh off the prison, and he wants to kill his prison boyfriend for spreading rumors about their tryst, though of course he's in complete denial. Instead, you end up killing the boyfriend. OG Loc later does a radio interview where he stresses his macho-ness. Of course, it was a "prison thing", and the relationship seems to be not entirely consensual judging by the dialogue. It's impossible to know one way or the other, really. Loc isn't admitting any sex took place, let alone whether it was consensual or not. (Except when he slips up and yells "Your ass is mine! Oh, no no no, I didn't mean it like that!") You can judge for yourself by watching the mission.
    • Also, said prison boyfriend speaks in a very campy way, but is also a member of the Vagos.
  • Gay Option: The game lets C.J. kiss men, but this only applies in multiplayer mode and if Player 2 chooses a male character.
  • Generic Graffiti: The game lets you tag over rival gangs. Tag all 100, and a nice arsenal of weapons will spawn at your home in Grove Street.
  • Geo Effects: Vehicles lose grip in the rain, especially on the grass. Aircraft experience wind and turbulence during a storm.
  • Getting High on Their Own Supply: In the final mission, Carl Johnson's former friend and ally Big Smoke, who was stated to have become a yeyo kingpin when C.J. was forced out of Los Santos by corrupt cops, is seen taking a hit of crack implied to have come from his own stash, before facing C.J. in a final shootout.
  • Ghibli Hills: The game featured expansive rural and unpopulated areas in stark contrast to the series' dense urban mainstay (though it has that too).
  • The Ghost: Zero's Sitcom Archnemesis, Berkley, is never seen or heard, though you do have to deal with his various contraptions. C.J. lampshades this trope at the beginning of "Air Raid".
    Zero: Berkley is back!
    Carl Johnson: [Sympathetically] Ohhh, Berkley.
    Zero: Yes.
    Carl Johnson: Who the fuck is Berkley?!
  • Ghost Town: There are quite a few in the desert areas (Las Brujas and Aldea Malvada are two examples).
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Done quite literally. The 'hero', C.J. literally kills his way through Madd Dogg's orginization so a friend, OG Loc, can jumpstart a music career. Then, in order to restart Madd Dogg's career (a move which greatly benefits C.J.), he and Madd Dogg chase OG Loc through the streets of Los Santos... on go karts. In order to get the valued rhyme book back. Apparently Madd Dogg cannot make up new rhymes on his own. He has 'so far' not discovered that C.J. was the one to kill his co-workers and leave his mansion filled with bodies, and OG Loc conveniently never brings it up.
  • Golf Clubbing: Golf clubs can be used as a melee weapon. If C.J. knocks someone down, he will then use a golf swing.
  • Gonk: Some of the NPCs in the countryside look a lot like Sloth from The Goonies, or the mutated cannibals from The Hills Have Eyes (2006).
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: The protagonists allies in the Grove Street Families use the Tec-9 as their submachine gun of choice, while all other gangs in Los Santos use the Micro UZI. Unless you spray all rival gang tags in the city, when the GSF start using MP5s, playing the trope straight (mostly, as OGs like Sweet will, with very rare exceptions, still use the Tec-9 during missions, and in the late game, Sweet will carry an AK).
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Catalina, by far one of the craziest characters of the game, turns out to be into S&M during the cut scene for the "Gone Courting" mission. We don't see anything of the act itself, but she proceeds to chain C.J. to a rack and then takes a whip to him before getting down to business.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Available for purchase at Binco.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Gang tags in Los Santos, pictures in San Fierro, horseshoes in Las Venturas, oysters everywhere on the map. Getting the tags make weapons appear in the Johnson house and gives Grove Street members stronger weapons, pictures give you free weapons at the Doherty garage, oysters give you full sex appeal and infinite swim if you find them all, and horseshoes rig the casino games in your favor and give you free weapons at the Four Dragons Casino. There's a reason why all that stuff is listed in Guide Dang It! below...
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Mike Toreno's "government agency". Plus at least one (probably two) rival agencies.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: A variant is used. Finding graffiti done by rival gangs and spraypainting the Grove Street logo over it is a good way to build the Grove's respect early in the game.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: In "Black Project", C.J. is tasked to infiltrate an army secret base to hijack a newly developed Jet Pack.
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • The name of the town El Quebrados is gramatically incorrect, as "Quebrados" is the plural form of the word "Quebrado" — it should be either "El Quebrado" or "Los Quebrados".
    • The neighbourhoods of "Los Flores" and "El Corona" (which translate to "the flowers" and "the crown" respectively) in Los Santos. Since both of these names are feminine the correct forms are "Las Flores" and "La Corona".
  • Grave Humor: On a more minor note, the game features "R.I.P. Opposition" tombstones at a San Fierro memorial, referring to the rivalry between Rockstar North and developers of "''GTA'' clones".
  • Groin Attack: The Kickboxing Combo begins with one.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • The police: one can evade arrest by getting a haircut, or by changing shoes. Or putting on a pair of 'joke glasses', the type with fake nose and eyebrows attached. Or going into a gun shop and waiting. How does that look on their report?
    • The military guards. It is really easy to break into Area 69 and other supposedly well guarded places because of how stupid the guards behave. They don't mind when their colleagues get shot right next to them and if you run fast enough they even forget about you after you've stood right in front of you. Not to mention that they are completely deaf. You can fire your M4 all you want and they won't even raise an eyebrow.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • One of the most common questions seems to be: "Where do I find this 'Euros' car for the export list?" And rightfully so, since it only spawns in one specific location and only when it is wanted for the export list (and you need to know what it looks like, to boot). Fortunately the exporting of cars is optional for completing the storyline of the game, but for those playing for the coveted "100% completion" awards, you gotta grin and bear it. Or find a walkthrough.
    • There are a ton of collectibles in this game. C.J. has to find 50 photo locations, spray 100 gang tags, track down 50 oysters, and find 50 horseshoes. The San Andreas map is so huge and complex, and many of these items/jump sites are in hidden locations, that the only practical way to find them all is with a walkthrough or guidebook (although subverted by the Brady Games official strategy guide that gives incorrect locations or unhelpful directions for many of these). The photo locations, at least, do have one helpful way of tracking them (if you know about it); they glow in the dark. The others offer no such help. The only plus is that, oysters aside, all of these collectibles are limited to one section of the map.
    • Oh and there are also 70 hidden unique stunt jumps, too, though these aren't required for 100% completion. Many of these jumps are obvious (why else would a jump ramp be placed in the middle of trailer park?) but some - especially those that require the player to jump off a cliff or some such (one jump actually requires C.J. to launch a car from Red County, hope it flies high and fast enough to cross a bay, and land on the San Fierro Airport tarmac), are not intuitive and need a manual to locate/become aware of.
    • And without a guidebook, many players likely complete the storyline portion of the game unaware of things like the hidden courier challenges, the bicycle and motorbike challenges, the mountain biking races, and the two triathlons that are only accessible on certain days of the week!note Although also not needed for 100% completion, several of the women available for dating are not located in obvious places, either (one is hidden in a park in San Fierro that CJ is not required to visit for any mission or item pick-up).
    • As noted above, the Brady Games manual is rife with errors and inaccuracies. One of the most glaring is that the book features pick-up locations for adrenaline power boosts - even though none actually exist within the game itself!
  • Guns Akimbo: You can dual-wield the standard pistol (although not the Desert Eagle or the silenced version), the sawed-off shotgun, and the two machine-pistols after you max out your skill with each respective weapon.
  • Hammerspace: When C.J. and Ryder go out to steal ammunition from various sources, C.J. notes that the truck they're driving appeared from nowhere and the fact that it wasn't on Ryder's 'curb when it showed up. Ryder tells him to chill. He says his homie LB brought it over during the previous scene and that C.J. didn't notice because Ryder's homie is like "a clockwork ninja".
    • Bonus points if you realize that Ryder's homie LB as actually a neat reference to the game's producer and then-president of Rockstar North, Leslie Benzies.
  • Handicapped Badass: Wu Zi Mu (aka "Woozie") is a Triad boss who doesn't hesitate to go in guns blazing against gangs that try to muscle in on his turf and also loves to race cars. He's also blind.
    • Revealed to be a subversion: his Triad subordinates like to rig the casino games he plays with them, and he thinks C.J. must be very lucky to be able to beat him at things like blackjack. But he does have instances where his "incredible luck", as the Triads call it, allows him to beat C.J. at video games and drive a sports car in an illegal rural-road street race without wrecking. He's also the best shot in the game, next to C.J. himself.
  • Handshake Refusal: C.J. does this with Woozie in their first meeting, though it's less out of disrespect and more because he's weirded out that Woozie is pointing slightly away from him (the first hint to his blindness).
  • Happy Ending Override: Not for the main character, but Grand Theft Auto: Vice City ends with Tommy declaring a "beginning of a beautiful business relationship" only for Ken's cocaine addiction causing Tommy to disown him and he's end up being a liable asset to the Mafia operations in Las Venturas.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility:
    • Played straight with the Ballas (enemy gang with territories that can be taken over at some point): Nine times out of ten, they'll attack you. After a certain point, they'll definitely attack you on sight.
    • Partially averted with the Varrios and Vagos (the former being a small gang based on very little unmarked territories and the train station, and latter of which are enemy gang with territories that can be taken over at some point): There is a 50:50 chance that they attack you. Otherwise they're just either ganging on you or leaving you.
    • Averted with the San Fierro Rifas and Da Nang Boys: They'll never attack you outside mission unless you hijack their vehicle or attack first (and even then, they'll not always fight back)
    • Averted with the Las Venturas Mafias unless you deliberately gamble until your money is in the negative.
  • Hard Truckin': Downplayed as it's just a side-mission, but there are Trucking missions where CJ takes control of a big rig and transports cargo to destinations within a time limit. And later missions have him hauling illegal goods with the cops pursuing him.
  • Has Two Mommies: One of the ads on a radio station was for a TV sitcom featuring an orphaned girl living with her 5 adoptive "uncles". GTA being GTA, it was pretty blatant that only one guy at most was an actual uncle.
    Girl: I'm an emotionally abused orphan! Can't I get in on any of these groups hugs?
    'Uncle': No, you stupid bitch!
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Ryder's homie LB, who Ryder mentions several times in the story.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Officer Hernandez, the third, silent member of C.R.A.S.H (Well, not completely silent. The one time he speaks is on the phone with C.J. warning him that C.R.A.S.H is going to make sure he stays in Los Santos and works with them.) who acts as a Foil to the loudmouthed Tenpenny and Pulaski. Eventually however, he got fed up with Tenpenny and Pulaski's ways sometime offscreen as his final cutscene is of Tenpenny beating him with a shovel for being a snitch, and having C.J. dig his grave at gunpoint. Hernandez isn't dead though, and he gets back up to try and tackle Pulaski, only to get shot, finally dying.
    • The Introduction DVD expands on this. Hernandez speaks in it, telling a story about how he had to make a difficult decision between letting a man beat his crack addicted wife, or jailing the man and leaving the obviously unsuitable for children wife with their kids, establishing himself as a cop with morals. The other two cops scoff at that being a difficult decision, telling him that they're gonna be making difficult decisions on a regular basis. Later on, they force him to personally shoot a cop who had evidence proving that Tenpenny and Pulaski were crooked, so he can "be a fucking man." It makes Hernandez's death all the more tragic, as he was pretty much one of the handful of good cops in the whole series.
  • Helicopter Blender: The mission "Reuniting the Families" ends with both versions of this trope: a police helicopter tilts forward, threatening to slice up the protagonists' vehicle, and a police officer on the hood of said vehicle ends up minced in the process. Additionally, if you yourself gain control of a helicopter, you can practice this trope on any random passersby you run across, just as you can in any other GTA game with helicopters.
  • Hellish Copter: There's one mission where C.J. attempts to take out some rival criminals from a helicopter, only for it to be (scripted, no matter what you do you can't kill the rocket launcher wielding enemy) almost immediately blown up by a rocket launcher and crash in the ocean. C.J. gets out okay, but the pilot isn't as lucky and C.J. loses all of his weapons except for a knife (regardless of whatever melee weapon CJ actually had beforehand).
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: C.J. has to enter a burning house to rescue a girl. From a fire he caused in the first place.
  • Hero of Another Story: The protagonist, C.J. sees his insane girlfriend run off with a quiet racing competitor. Said quiet man is the main character, Claude, in the (chronologically later, though earlier release) Grand Theft Auto III.
  • The Hero's Journey: The game's main storyline follows the monomyth surprisingly closely. CJ starts out in his Hometown of the Grove Street, but even though he agrees to help his family sort things out in Los Santos, his stint in Liberty City shows that he'd much rather go freelancing elsewhere. The Herald delivering the Call to Adventure is Officer Tenpenny forcing CJ out of Grove Street and Los Santos by way of Doomed Hometown. The First Threshold is CJ's journey to San Fierro, with the Truth and Catalina serving as Threshold Guardians who vet him for the challenges ahead, and Woozie (whom the Triads literally consider their Good Luck Charm), as Supernatural Aid. San Fierro is also the Land of Adventure where CJ finds new allies and expands on what he learned in the 'hood. The Road of Trials leads from San Fierro to Las Venturas (e.g. Toreno, as a agent of the State, enables a symbolic Atonement with the Father for CJ), with CJ's Spiritual Death and Rebirth occurring around the time he infiltrates Area 69, since when he reaches the Four Dragons Casino, he is already done being a dumb muscle and starts planning his own schemes. The Night Sea Voyage is the entire mob casino heist arc, which gives CJ all the money and street cred he's ever wanted, followed by the takeover of Madd Dogg's Vinewood mansion, which gives his family a prestigious place to live. The Apotheosis is CJ killing Pulaski, and while the main Big Bad Tenpenny escapes, CJ is at least free from C.R.A.S.H. from that point on. Soon thereafter, Toreno also gives him the Ultimate Boon by reuniting him with Sweet. CJ's Refusal of the Return takes place during said reunion, when he tries to convince Sweet to leave the 'hood behind, but ultimately decides to Return to Grove Street. The Return Threshold, however, is guarded by looters, drug dealers, and, eventually, rioters, whom CJ and Sweet must overcome before they can return to the Hometown of their childhood. Finally, CJ receives Freedom to Live after killing Tenpenny and returning to the Wide-Open Sandbox with no more storyline missions to beat.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Done twice early on in the game. Done either to escape being shot at or escape being run over and riddled with bullets. Returning either risks same.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Samuel L. Jackson's character Officer Frank Tenpenny.
  • Hiding the Handicap: Woozie is blind, but won't reveal this to C.J. until the latter has done several missions on his behalf and earned his respect. C.J. however had already been informed of Woozie's disability by one of his subordinates.
  • High-Altitude Battle: The plane missions.
  • High-Speed Hijack: The game tried experimenting with the new enginenote  to create some unusual hijacks. The first Mike Toreno mission involved speeding alongside a fuel truck so your sidekick, Caesar, can leap into the cab and yank out the driver. Ouch. A later mission involves flying beside a private jet and then bailing out of the plane, whereupon C.J. grabs hold of the entry hatch and hijacks the jet in mid-air.
  • Hippie Van: The Truth drives a VW with a psychedelic paint job called the Mothership.
  • Historical In-Joke: The game is set in 1992. The primary antagonists of the game are police officers, Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski. Late in the game, their many, many crimes catch up with them and Tenpennynote  is arrested, put to trial... and acquitted. The city of Los Santos riots in response. Sound familiar?
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: Invoked when a guy called The Truth gets something C.J. stole from a government base, he says "They shall call this Year Zero".
  • Hollywood, California: The game is heavily built upon imagery from all of these regions. Los Santos is a dead ringer for L.A., with East Los Santos standing for East L.A., and Ganton standing for Compton and Vinewood is a very obvious Hollywood reference. The city of San Fierro is analagous to San Francisco, while Las Venturas stands for Las Vegas (which is actually in Nevada).
  • Hollywood Silencer: A silenced 9mm pistol is available and used during some stealth-based missions. It makes the classic fwip! sound and does not alert moderately distant guards.
  • Honey Trap: As part of the plan to rob a casino, C.J. seduces a dealer who has an important keycard (as well as some... unusual tastes).
  • Hope Spot: Between "Reuniting The Families" and "The Green Sabre". How long it lasts depends on the player.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: The Trope Namer. The original release of the game had a Dummied Out sex mini-game that played out when dates ended in "coffee". Given the graphics engine, C.J. is dating blocky Uncanny Valley girls — the game is about as saucy as banging Legomen together. When modders re-activated the game a scandal errupted and denials were issued, as mocked by Penny Arcade.
  • House Music: One of the radio stations is "San Fierro Underground", which plays house.
  • Hufflepuff House: Varrios Los Aztecas. Their leader, Caesar, could be considered a Supporting Leader.
  • Hugh Mann: One of many UFO gags sprinkled. During the mission "Stowaway," Mike Toreno instructs Carl Johnson to destroy a jet carrying explosives for use in the Middle East. The Men in Black onboard the plane will spout strange phrases while attacking Carl, including: "you evolved from shrews", "this endangers everything", "carbon based buffoon", "idiotic mammal", and "the great day will come".
  • 100% Completion: The game gives neato whiz-bang prizes for completing 100% of all the optional tasks, tests, and races. All the required tasks for plot completion total around 20%. The player's childhood home in Ganton is upgraded with spawns for a Rhino tank and a Hydra jump jet.
  • 100% Heroism Rating: There are various character ratings (fat, muscle, sex appeal, and respect), which affect how NPCs react in your presence. You can even say something back, determined by hitting Y or N.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: C.J. can heal by eating meals at fast-food restaurants or by purchasing snacks. Ingesting lots of food will fatten him up much faster than should be possible (eating too much at one time will make him puke though, keeping the health, but losing the fat that would have been gained), or conversely that exercising will make him lose body fat and gain muscle ridiculously quickly, could also be taken as evidence of a most unusual metabolism. Dining on salad will get around the fat problem.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: C.J. finds room for a very large arsenal in his pants. In fact, since C.J. is capable of changing his clothes, he could conceivably be carrying around a rocket launcher, a shotgun, and an assortment of other weapons in his boxers.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The showdown between C.J. and Big Smoke has the former call out the latter for being soft for wearing body armor. The trope applies because you can also have C.J. wear body armor during the call out.
    • Also, in the beginning of the game, Ryder is the first one to tell C.J. that he needs a haircut.note 

  • I Can See My House from Here: If you're getting chased by a ghetto bird (police chopper), one of the gunners may shout this. The other gunner tells him to shut up, acutely embarrassed.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: One of the radio segments, Jack Howitzer threatens to kill host Billy Dexter unless he touches Jack's genitals (It Makes Sense in Context... sorta) and then says he was just fooling around and that his gun was unloaded, only for it to go off and kill Dexter.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Officers Tenpenny and Pulaski pull this, threatening to make sure Sweet dies if CJ doesn't do what they want him to do. Later Toreno pulls this as well but is less malicious about it, and ultimately frees Sweet once CJ has done enough for him.
  • Idle Animation: C.J. will randomly start singing a song from the last radio station you listened to if he's standing still for a while. Amusingly, C.J.'s not so hot at recalling the lyrics. If you leave the controls untouched a little longer, the game will (temporarily) remove the radar and CJ's stats from the HUD, and the camera angle will change to show the game world from CJ's perspective, looking at other pedestrians and vehicles that walk/drive by.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: Field reporter Richard Burns from WCTR news complains about the lack of casualties during the first news segment of the game.
    Richard Burns: "Officials say there are still no reported casualties, which is truly unfortunate, as it makes for incredibly boring news."
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: There is a mission where you and your homies get drive-thru. One of your homies, Big Smoke, orders an absurdly long list of foods while the others order casually. And then, when everyone else is busy trying to keep a rival gang from invading your neighborhood, Smoke eats all the food, even the stuff he didn't order. Of course, after you know he's betraying you, that scene can look much different.
  • Image Song: Young Maylay, the voice of Carl 'C.J.' Johnson and accomplished rap musician, used the game's theme song as a backing track for the first song on his LP, San Andreas: The Original Mixtape, where he raps about the game in character.
  • Immune to Fire: Completing all optional Firefighter missions will make CJ completely invulnerable to fire (he will still catch on it, just never take any damage). Among other things, this makes the final level, where he must escape from a burning building while being shot at from all directions, a trivial affair.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Throughout the game, you'll get in shootouts with all kinds of gangbangers, cops, "redneck survivalists", pedestrians, military, drug dealers, the Italian mob, the Russian mob, federal agents, federal agents who might be aliens, and not a single goddamn one of them can score a hit more than once per every ten bullets expended at the very most. Of course, due to the GTA games' infamously wonky targeting system, neither can C.J. sometimes.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: One of the Driving School missions requires you to parallel park by speeding at the spot then sliding into it sideways without touching either car and doing it so you're perfectly aligned to get gold.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The game has the usual fare of melee weapons, including stick-like implements. But then you have fire extinguishers, spray cans, bunches of flowers, and even sex toys. The kicker? They can still incapacitate or kill, and can even be used to bash cars until they catch on fire.
    • Their primary purpose is to be given to girlfriends as gifts, but still. If C.J.'s strength is maxed out, he can beat any ped to a pulp with flowers in a matter of seconds.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: Big Smoke eats the whole gang's takeout while being shot at by the Ballas. Of course, this is meant to foreshadow the fact that Smoke has been with the Ballas all along. When called out on it, Smoke replies:
    Big Smoke: "If you can eat your food while everyone else is losing theirs and blaming you, you straight, homie".
    • Gameplay-wise, to get fat or even get a lot of energy for working out, you often need to eat several of the largest combo available.
  • Incoming Ham: Big Smoke's very first line in the game?note  "YOU PICKED THE WRONG HOUSE, FOOL!"
  • Informed Equipment: Excellently avoided, you can change the main character's clothes and hairstyle, give him tattoos, and even alter his basic body shape (though this last is a long process, involving overeating to get fat or exercise to get muscular). Any changes to the character's appearance are worked seamlessly into all of the game's cutscenes. Body armour, on the other hand, is invisible, even if you are naked from the waist up.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
  • Inside Job: The Casino Heist has Carl getting a job with Caligula's Casino to become the inside man for the upcoming heist.
  • Instant Expert: The protagonist can learn how to use any weapon or vehicle from the moment they see it. The most ridiculous example, CJ can load and fire any weapon from an M1911 to an SA-7 Grail rocket missile launcher simply by picking it up, and goes through a few (videotaped) lessons to learn to fly any aircraft. The height of ridiculousness is "Vertical Bird", where he sneaks aboard an amphibious assault ship, eliminates about a dozen trained soldiers with either stealth or firepower, and hijacks a Harrier jumpjet to shoot down two other fighters and destroy several boats. Quite impressive for a two-bit gang member from the ghetto. God bless the idiot proof Air Force.
  • Interface Screw: The games use a slight version of this to simulate substance abuse, like marijuana. Watch the screen move...
  • Interrupted Suicide: In one mission, you have to save Madd Dogg from suicide.
  • Ironic Echo: Carl, after coming back home after years of being away, meets Officer Tenpenny looking to "chat". Tenpenny proceeds to start screwing around with Carl and coerces Carl into his service via blackmail and a frame job. Tenpenny ends their "chat" by saying: ''See you around like a donut, Carl..." before walking (then driving away). Guess what Carl says later in the game when Tenpenny ends up dying on the street due to driving a firetruck off a bridge while being chased by Carl and Sweet.
    CJ: See you around...officer.
  • Ironic Last Words: This happens to an unnamed Triad member during the mission "A Home in the Hills", once CJ and the Triads enter Madd Dogg's mansion to take it back from a drug dealer:
    Triad: We're heavily outnumbered, but if we all keep our heads, we should kick ass!
    (Boom, Headshot!)
  • Irony: K-DST D.J. Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith occasionally makes cracks at other station Radio X. Radio X's playlist includes "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. Tommy is voiced by Guns N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: CJ has a tendency to reply to Cesar Vialpando with, "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" whenever Cesar asks him if he was interested in making money by car racing. Confusion ensues.
    Cesar: Why you keep asking me that, holmes? I told you, I dunno. Where his Holiness does his business, is his business.
  • It's All About Me: Tenpenny, in his dying breath, claims that only he can set San Andreas in the right direction.
  • It's Personal: CJ's reasoning behind taking on Big Smoke alone at the end.
    CJ: Smoke played me. Tenpenny played me.
  • It's Up to You:
    • The player's territory can be invaded by other gangs. However, it's solely the player's responsibility to defend it. No one else in the gang of presumably hundreds ever takes the initiative to help out or, better yet, handle the attack themselves.
    • The player must always be the driver, and apparently no one else who ever rides with the protagonist knows how to drive. Even when someone arrives to pick you up during a cutscene, they invariably scoot over to the passenger seat once the gameplay begins. This is lampshaded in one of the missions, where Ryder instructs; "You drive - seein' as you "Mister Driver" and all."
    • Averted, probably intentionally, in one of the later missions. At the end of the mission, the main character offers to drive his cohorts to the hospital, but they assure him that he's done enough.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sweet constantly criticizes his brother, C.J., and blames him for the death of his brother and mother when he ran away to Liberty City. Sweet refuses to give Carl his due respect and is willing to keep the family in poverty to get back at Tenpenny, but on a better day he's quite a caring brother. It also helps that at his worst, he's going to stop at nothing (including Carl's success) to get back at the man who tore both his family and his circle of comrades apart with murder, abuse, and the allure of power and riches (as what he had successfully done with Ryder and Big Smoke). Sweet does eventually ease up and gives his brother his support in a big brother love kind of way.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ryder is one of the more troublesome members of the Grove Street Families, often high, always sarcastic, and excessively rude to everyone, especially C.J. However, he puts in work for the gang and does his part (though he always seems like that guy people keep around to kick around). And then it turns out he had betrayed the Grove Street Families along with Big Smoke, had a hand in the death of Sweet and C.J.'s mother, and has been arming the gang's enemies the entire time.
  • Jerkass:
    • Ryder is just an asshole.
    • So is Pulaski, repeatedly making racist remarks, insulting C.J., and making vulgar statements about his family.
    • Oh, and not far behind is Tenpenny. He's an epic jerkass, especially in his first meeting with C.J. in Los Santos.
    • And adding one more to the list, Catalina. Dear God, she's an extreme bitch.
  • Jet Pack: The game has one, and it is arguably one of the most fun vehicles in the entire game. It's pretty much mandatory for horseshoe collection, as they're scattered in places high and low you can't really park a helicopter on.
  • Jiggle Physics: The one single instance, and easy to miss, in the whole series; there's a particular female civilian clad in red bikini seen near the beaches and pool areas who's notable for a constantly jiggling rack if she's laying around sunbathing, but not when walking.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: The game had Join The Military radio ads which by its very nature, a spoof of recruitment ads. see them here.
  • Joke Item:
    • There is a dildo you can obtain relatively easily and use as a melee weapon. It's possible to kill people with it, but it's almost as weak as punching someone with the beginning game stats. The vibrator is hard to find and does the same amount of damage as the dildo so it's more of a novelty. The last one is flowers, which can be found all over the place and only real use is to give to girlfriends like all the above items.
    • The flowers are a surprisingly effective melee weapon. Not lethal, but about as good as a baseball bat and ten times as funny to blow up a car with.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: C.J., despite being the hero, gets a few of these moments. These include murdering Madd Dogg's manager for OG Loc and attacking a nearby gang at a funeral for someone he killed. The mission "Deconstruction" have him killing the construction workers who were rude to his sister. He also was forced to kill certain people for Tenpenny and Pulaski or either he or his family will be killed.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: C.J. could have solved a lot of problems for himself and Grove Street if he just capped Tenpenny and the rest of C.R.A.S.H. at the first chance he got (like what he can do to all the other cops in normal gameplay) rather than let them blackmail him with a cop killing he didn't commit.
  • Justified Criminal:
    • The game includes references to this, including one instance where Sweet outright says that he and Carl robbed people at gunpoint for the money for both their mother's lifesaving operation and to put their sister through college.
    • In fact, the whole plot employs this trope, as C.J. involves himself in many dangerous, morally questionable activities (stealing cars to fund a dealership, infiltrating Area 69, robbing a mob-owned casino) in order to rescue his brother from prison and his family/neighborhood from internal and external destruction.
  • Justified Tutorial:
    • The game has the tutorial sections slowly spread out throughout the game. Melee weapons are taught when you and an ally decide to go bust up a crack house, shooting when you visit a back-alley gun dealer, turf wars when Sweet enlists you to reconquer some lost territory, etc.
    • You have to do the pilot school before you can access the piloting missions (or legally enter the airports at all). Doesn't quite work out when the piloting school is only defeated through trial-and-error, as the starter prop plane will stall if the player goes too high. It does lead one to question what kind of demented pilot test is your PC being forced through. What average pilot would need to know how to do a loop-the-loop or barrel roll? Or how to blow up moving trucks from an aircraft? Most of the succeeding story missions that involve flying don't even require those aforementioned maneuvers.
  • Karma Houdini: One of the Ballas (probably from the OGs) that appears in missions like "Madd Dogg Rhymes", "Ice Cold Killa" and the video "The Introduction" count as this. He was never mentioned, seen or killed by Carl.
    • C.J. himself, as well. He always wins, killing even people who do not deserve it, but this only makes for money or sent by their bosses.
  • Karmic Death: At the end of the final mission, "End of the Line", Tenpenny crashes his fire truck right in the Grove cul-de-sac, with the people he harrassed and abused for years standing over him as he dies, broken, humiliated, and accidentally slipping his self-centered mentality, more or less bringing the story full circle.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: There's a moment in one of the missions where your enemy throws you a katana, inviting you to a duel. Of course, nothing's stopping you from gunning him down with that TEC-9 you likely salvaged earlier.
  • Kent Brockman News: WCTR.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The game lets you attack other people in various ways, some of which inevitably knocks the victim down to the ground. What you can do later to the grounded pedestrian ranges from a simple barrage of punches and kicks, to gunning them relentlessly, to even saw them off in half with a chainsaw, right in the ground, most of which will be incapable to escape their fate while they get smacked around.
    • Extra points if the victim is already dead.
    • In fact, you're taught this by the fighting gym instructors. Apparently boxing has fewer rules there.
  • Kill on Sight: The only town available in the early game is Los Santos, trying to get into the other towns gets an instant four-star wanted level with cops pursuing and trying to shoot you down. The in-game explanation is that there's an earthquake warning, and Officer Hernandez calls CJ, explicitly warning him not to leave town.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The game is largely a Black Comedy with most less than moral actions the protagonist CJ or the other criminals commit being treated humorously and most the characters being extremely quirky. The exceptions to this involve the game's Big Bad Frank Tenpenny. The scenes with him are almost entirely humorless, any humor involving him is mostly played to show how much of Jerkass he is, along with the rest of his personality, and unlike the other characters, he shows that he has no absolutely no sense of loyalty to others and flat-out scoffs on the idea.
  • Knight Templar: Tenpenny and Pulaski claims to be this; every action they take says otherwise. To a lesser extent, Toreno, too.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: C.J. during the mission, "Deconstruction".
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Ryder is convinced he's a genius, but he's probably the stupidest person in the whole game.
    Ryder: Hey, C.J., tell me why I didn't finish high school.
    C.J.: 'Cause you been dealin' drugs, man. Since the age of ten. (Laughs)
    Ryder: (Laughs) Nope. That ain't it.
    C.J.: 'Cause you put your hands on that teacher for wearin' Ballas colors. (Laughs)
    Ryder: (Laughs) But, nope. That ain't it either. It's cause I'm too intelligent for this shit. I am the real deal fool, oh, yeah. A genius.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • A Ryder mission has you break into a National Guard depot. A van waits outside for Ryder and C.J., who immediately says...
      C.J.: That van wasn't outside when I came in!
    • Also, there's this conversation...
      Toreno's mook: This is all about speed and commitment. You got a GPS in the cab. Get to each set of map coordinates as quick as you can. Make it to all the coordinates then get the truck back here. Lose the truck and you fail.
      CJ: First, what's a GPS? Second, fail what? Third, who the fuck are you?
  • The Lancer: Technically, you are this to Sweet early on. Later, Cesar is this to you.
  • Large Ham: Ryder. He's probably the most charismatic character of the whole game.
  • The Last Straw: C.J. can eat up to eleven super-size fast food meals perfectly comfortably. Try finishing it off with a salad though...
  • Laughably Evil:
    • You have Mike Toreno, the paranoid government agent. Disrespecting dead women to a monologue on how all modern conspiracy theories are nowhere near the truth.
    • Then there's Ryder who, despite being an asshole and a traitor, provides a lot of humor in many cutscenes and missions he appears in.
  • Le Parkour: The first game in the series (and probably Wide-Open Sandbox games in general) that allowed your character to grab and jump over objects taller than himself. A godsend when avoiding police or getting across the city. It also provides a boost to immersion: it removes the jarring Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence. However, you still can't climb ladders...
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ryder's derogatory comments on C.J.'s driving is basically a reference to how many players of the GTA series are so whimsical when it comes to driving controls.
  • Legion of Doom: In the final mission, while fighting your way through Big Smoke's fortress you'll encounter mooks from almost every gang you have faced throughout the game, such as the Ballas, Vagos, Rifa, and Russian Mob. Later in the mission while chasing Tenpenny, the LSPD join the chase.
  • Leitmotif: A specific hip-hop tune is played whenever Officer Tenpenny and Pulaski show up.
  • Let the Boss Win: Woozie's men constantly do this whenever they play games with him. Ironically, Woozie seems like an nice enough guy - especially to his men, with whom he is very loyal - such that it's likely he wouldn't go Bad Boss on them if he did lose once in a while.
    • This is further shown when he loses to C.J. in blackjack by a ridiculous margin. He has no hard feelings, though he does lightly complain that he has much better luck with his underlings.
  • Let the Bully Win: Played with: His underlings blatantly let Wu Zi Mu, a powerful but blind Chinese gangster, win whenever they play anything, including moving the cup when he plays Office Golf or lying about their cards in Blackjack, which leads to funny moments when Carl, not caring, beats him regularly. Judging by his personality, "Woozie" a nice enough guy, especially to his men, that he probably wouldn't care if his minions beat him or not, but to his experienced mooks it's better being safe than sorry.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: After spending time bangin' with his recruited homies, C.J. can respectfully disband his team with sayings like "I'll see you fools later", "Check the spot!", "We'd better split up", "I've had a cool time rolling with y'all but I've gotta go now" and "OK homie I'll see you latter".
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Tenpenny claims to be setting the gangs against each other to weaken them.
  • Level Grinding: The game lets you level up several skills, such as sprinting, biking, and individual weapons, by repeatedly using them. Maxing them out offers various benefits, such as dual-wielding pistols and SMGs.
  • Level in Reverse: Madd Dogg's Mansion is visited twice in the game, with the start and end points being reversed for the second visit.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: While it doesn't directly affect C.J.'s stats, dating the girlfriends bestow various abilities and bonuses.
    • Unlike other girlfriends, dating Millie, Sexy Secretary at Caligula's by day and Dominatrix by night, is crucial to the story, as she holds the keycard to Caligula's restricted areas; you can either kill her or date her to 35% to get it.
    • Starting a relationship with Helena and Michelle grants access to an armory (of chainsaws, flamethrowers, Molotovs and pistols) and a free car repair shop, respectively.
    • Starting a relationship with Katie and Barbara allows you to keep your weapons even when hospitalized or arrested, respectively (and in the former, you also get healed for free).
    • At 50%, you get cars fitting your girlfriends' personalities: a Hustler from Denise, a Club from Millie, a Bandito from Helena note , a Romero from Katie, a Monster Truck from Michelle, and a Ranger from Barbara.
    • At 100%, you get clothes: Pimp Suit from Denise, Rural Clothes from Helena, Medic Suit from Katie, Racing Suit from Michelle, and a Police Uniform from Barbara.
  • Lighter and Softer: Somewhat. C.J.note  and most of his allies are far closer to the antiheroic side of the scale than Claude and Tommy, and he also clearly has fun and smiles now and again, the world is much lighter than IV (still crapsack, but more for Black Comedy) and the story is fairly optimistic.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: C.J. and every criminal organization he associates with (Grove Street Families, the Varrios Los Aztecas, and the Triads) are Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters who oppose the drug trade and work to stop the sale of cocaine all across the state. The Big Bad, Officer Frank Tenpenny, has not only been largely been giving the coke-dealers more power for his own benefit, but he's deeply corrupt and is set to kill everyone who could possibly expose his crimes. Including his own partners.
  • Limited Sound Effects: The game has many such limited sound effects, for example, the sound for water spraying from a fire hose, water spraying from a fire hydrant, a boat skipping on water, and even the sound of a car scraping against a wall are one and the same.
  • The Load: Any character who is supposed to shoot at the bad guys while you drive. They all have worse aiming than seems humanly possible. To the point where the "let's go do a drive-by" mission is easier (and quicker) if you just run over the targets. At least Woozie is literally blind. What's everyone else's excuse? Not to mention he arguably has the best aim out of everyone else.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: A variation: after the final battle (which is against a former ally who betrayed you, rather than against the Big Bad), the Big Bad shows up and then runs away again, stopping only to set some explosives that will destroy the building, giving you just enough time to escape. The mechanics of the mission fit this trope (you fight the Boss, then have to escape before the building is destroyed), but the explanation is different (in that there actually is an explanation).
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: San Andreas for the PS2 was lightly touched on above but deserves an official spot. The biggest game environment for its time? Perhaps, but it took quite a while to bring it up. The title screen alone took several minutes to load, so much so that it almost seems that it freezes. And if you go inside or outside a building during the game? At least thirty seconds.
    • While the ability to buy and change C.J.'s clothes is awesome, it takes forever. You choose the piece of clothing from a menu, C.J. goes into the dressing room, takes about five to ten seconds to load his changed character model, and then comes out and does a "checking out my duds" animation that takes another few seconds. Then, you choose whether to buy or wear it or not, and C.J. either just goes back into the dressing room or does a "hot damn!" pose that takes another few seconds. Repeat for every single item you select. And if you've got a lot of money, and want to buy every item a store has... well, you'll probably be able to read the manual from front to back in the time it takes to do this.
    • Still, at the time San Andreas was a big step forward, since it not only had a massive map, but loaded it seamlessly, as opposed to its predecessors, where there would be annoying loading screens everytime you went from a half of the (already small) city, to another. So while the game takes a while to load once you booted it up, you won't have to suffer much loading again for the rest of the session once the game gets going. One way or another, these problems were mitigated in the PC port, which loaded the in-game map, clothes changing animations etc. pretty fast; on a modern gaming computer, the loading screen for traveling to a new part of the city or changing clothes is less than a second.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: The series in general, with its trademark Wide-Open Sandbox gameplay, falls into this. San Andreas is the biggest offender in this regard, as the story missions only count for a very limited percentage for the 100% Completion.
  • Locked in a Freezer: This is what can happen in one mission. Ken Rosenberg will get scared by the gun fight and runs to a meat locker to hide in. If you follow him in and there's mooks around, a mook can actually lock you and your friend inside the freezer, making the mission a failure.
  • Locomotive Level: Three — one where you rob a train by riding it and tossing boxes to Ryder, one where you're on a motorcycle keeping up alongside the train, and one where you're on a jetpack flying around the train. There are side-missions where you can drive a train, but nothing interesting happens. At all. Unless you go so recklessly fast that you derail the train.
  • Logo Joke: The game has the Rockstar Games and Rockstar North logos appearing on screen with the sound of spray cans, kinda like graffiti (fitting for the game's '90s-era hip-hop mood).
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The game cuts off "Cult Of Personality" during the instrumental, skipping the final verse.
  • Look Behind You: Tenpenny has C.J. at gunpoint. C.J. looks over Tennpenny's shoulder and shouts his brother's name, getting Tenpenny to look away and giving C.J. a chance to escape.
  • Loophole Abuse: Gang wars can only be started by killing gang members on foot. However, there's nothing stopping you from parking a tank there, killing a few, then using the tank to finish the job.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Getting all gold in the Driving School courses. Expect to be playing Burn and Lap for a good hour or more to get gold. Flight school is similar, but there the difficulty lies in the controls, rather than the precision.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: An interesting case, as it's not one of the main reasons behind the controversy attached to the game. It also occurs quite rarely, namely, in these instances:
    • In "Reuniting The Families", you are being chased by a SWAT helicopter and a squad of motorcycle policemen. One of the biker cops jumps onto the hood of your car. Meanwhile, the chopper pilot, at a loss as to how to kill you after losing his door gunners, decides to tilt the chopper rotors-first towards your car. Guess what happens to the cop on the hood.
    • You can also do this by driving over pedestrians with a Combine Harvester. Doing so causes the chute on the Harvester's rear normally used for ejecting bundles of hay to spew out body parts.
  • Lured into a Trap: In the Green Sabre mission, Sweet and the Grove Street crew are preparing to take the fight to their enemies, the Ballas. But when C.J. is called away by Cesar, he learns that Smoke and Ryder have sold them out and have joined Tenpenny and the Ballas, and that Sweet and the others are being led into a trap. It ends badly, for C.J., Sweet and Grove Street in general.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: In one of the commercials. "I want a new fence! That's IT! We're never having sex AGAIN!"
  • Made of Iron: Used as a gameplay mechanic in the races to curtail the obvious shortcut of murdering your competition. Both the cars and the drivers are extremely difficult to kill, able to soak up entire clips from an assault rifle. The only exception is the demolition derby. It also appears in a few missions.
  • The Mafiya: C.J. and Big Smoke butt heads with Russian arms dealers in an early mission. Whether they were true bratvas or just gopniki is rather unclear. Most likely bratva, because gunrunning is usually too big and dangerous a business for gopnik gangs to organize.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • If you're wanted in San Fierro, sometimes the cops would say...
      SFPD Cop: I can make this look like a suicide, you know?
    • At the end of the game, after a lengthy chase through half of Los Santos, Tenpenny lost control of his fire truck and crashes off the bridge overlooking Grove Street. C.J. is about to finally shoot him dead when Sweet stops him, saying that there's no need to put a bullet in the dying Tenpenny. He's just a cop who killed himself in a traffic accident, with no one to blame.
  • Make-Out Point: Referenced; there's a region south of Las Venturas called Hankypanky Point.
  • Malcolm Xerox: There's a pedestrian in the San Fierro section that fits this trope. He's even wearing a kente cloth dashiki and hat.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: The game features a relationship between African-American Kendl and Hispanic Cesar. Her brother Sweet has trouble with the relationship. The fact that Cesar is from another gang does not help.
  • Man Hug: Many — C.J. and his brother Sweet, C.J. and his best friend Cesar.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Officer Tenpenny, who's constantly getting people who are "beneath him" (like C.J.) to do his dirty work for him, and he appears to take sadistic pleasure in manipulating those he has under his thumb.
  • Marathon Level: Literally, as there are several in-game races that C.J. can compete in, including a full-fledged triathlon that crosses the game map.
  • Meaningful Background Event: During the cutscene for the "Wu Zi Mu" mission, a man in a black jacket and green jeans is sitting casually on a car in the background. That man is Claude, the player character of Grand Theft Auto III, who is Catalina's new boyfriend in the next mission and who gives C.J. his car garage in San Fierro.
  • Meaningful Name: The Grove Street Families gang frontrunners all have special meanings to their nicknames.
  • The Men in Black: Toreno has the vibe. Definitely the "people" on the mysterious plane that shows up at your airfield. Their lines seem to imply that they're the aliens: "Carbon-based buffon!" and "You evolved from shrews!".
  • Mercy Mode: Minor example, which gives you the option of skipping the commute at the start of the mission after you fail it a few times. This is pretty much just an Anti-Frustration Feature to make up for the fact that so many missions are set halfway across the map from where you have to go to begin them (and if you fail the mission, you'll have to drive all the way back again to restart...)
  • The Millstone: Jeffrey Cross, better known by his gang name of OG Loc. He thinks he's a rapper, but is not shown to have any quality as a rapper (or any other profession, for that matter). Exactly why he deserves your help is unclear. The missions you get from him:
    • Help get revenge on Freddy who supposedly stole his rhymes.
    • He tells you to steal the rhyme book from Madd Dogg, an actual rapper.
    • Steal a van with a sound system at a beach party. Between OG Loc being a complete joke and the people at the party just having a good time and doing no harm, you might actually feel bad that you ruined their party.
    • Kill Madd Dogg's manager. After all this trouble, he just decides to violate his parole so he would go back to jail.
    • None of these missions earn you any money; only your respect stat will go up.
  • Minigame Zone: Minigames are all over the place in San Andreas, but Las Venturas has the highest concentration.
  • Minus World:
    • There was a mission where you had to fly on a jet to Liberty City, which was really just a small area situated on the northwest corner of the map, so high up physically that there's normally no way to get there without the mission triggering it. However, there are several methods that one can use (either with glitching or by using a Game Shark) to get there. You can even walk around in parts of the area which you never use in the mission, but are there anyway for the cutscene - just be careful, because it was never intended for use beyond the one mission, and most of the street outside isn't actually there. Unless you have a jetpack with you, coupled with the unlimited height Game Shark code, you'll fall through and end up out in the middle of the ocean back in San Andreas.
    • San Andreas also had a whole weird, trippy section of the game world reachable by using the jetpack in a particular store, or during a sneaking-related glitch in some indoor missions. Flying around this part of the world with the jetpack, one could find things such as corridors and doors floating in the void with people walking across them, various indoor spaces and some buildings. The game uses parts of this world for the indoor missions, but not everything is used, and what isn't is apparently left there with no purpose.
  • Missile Lock-On: The game has this feature on the handheld Stinger missile, The Apache helicopter and the Jump Jet.
  • Mistaken for Thief: In a cutscene, Big Smoke mistakes CJ for a burglar.
  • Mob War:
    • Grove Street Families and the Varrios Los Aztecas vs Ballas and the Los Santos Vagos.
    • The Leones vs The Forellis vs The Sindaccos as well, in Las Venturas.
  • The Mole: Late in the game, it is revealed that Officer Jimmy Hernandez, who was never an overly willing participant of C.R.A.S.H. to begin with, has been feeding dirt on Tenpenny and Pulaski to Internal Affairs.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The game features a mission where you have to torch a house with Molotovs (and then battle your own flames, to save a girl you trapped inside without knowing she was in there). Later on in the game, pedestrians riot and throw molotovs around, including at you.
  • Money for Nothing: There is a mission that requires you to spend about $80,000 on an abandoned airstrip to proceed; however, it is about two thirds of the way into the game, so it's possible to complete.
  • Mood Whiplash: The early missions in Los Santos are very grim and gritty and, for the most part, realistic. Once C.J. is exiled to the countryside, however, the mood quickly takes a turn for the silly. Mundane characters like C.J.'s "homies" are replaced by aging hippies and blind Triad bosses, while drive-bys and housebreaking are replaced by casino heists and covert missions for the CIA.
    • The tone becomes downright unstable after the rioting starts, making for even more frequent mood whiplashes. One particularly glaring example is when you're driving Sweet through Los Santos while virtually all the pedestrians are rioting, looting and just generally causing chaos all around; one conversation eventually devolves into an enumeration of several masturbation euphemisms.
  • Mooks: One of the biggest and most egregious abusers. Most of these time these mooks just magically appear after a cutscene with no real explanation why they're there other than an out-of-hand implication that they're working for an antagonist that was in said cutscene. There are even entire missions where the whole point of the mission is to kill a specific collection of mooks.
  • More Dakka: The Minigun is a classic example of this, but the more common ways to get more dakka are micro submachineguns & sawn-off shotgun, which can be dual-wielded with maximum skill, the latter unloads four shells quick enough to reduce any car into a burning wreckage in seconds. Also you can bring 3 homies with SMGs in a four-door car, basically turning it into a ground gunship, first demonstrated in the mission Drive By.
  • More Friends, More Benefits: CJ's girlfriends each have their own bonuses for dating them. There is a cop who lets CJ keep his money and weapons after getting arrested, a nurse who does the same if he's wasted (even if the incident doesn't happen in the ladies' jurisdictions), a mechanic who fixes and paint his cars for free (but only if you go to her garage in San Fierro), and a few others with minor bonuses. At some point you can even drive your girlfriends' cars, despite the fact that they're never returned in one piece (if at all). Dating one of the girls is necessary to complete the game, and only to a certain extent; the rest are optional.
  • Motorcycle on the Coast Road: The game lets you do this in several places, notably near Angel Pine and Blueberry. It's very cathartic... until you hit a randomly-generated traffic accident, and get hurled off your bike and into the sea. Then you have to jack another bike.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Ryder attempts to rob a pizza joint he is a regular at ("Ryder? Not this again!") with a pistol. Ryder turns to C.J. long enough for the clerk to pull out his shotgun.
    • Big Smoke's infamous entrance with a baseball bat would've turned out this way had C.J. been an actual burglar in his house.
  • Murder by Mistake: The introduction shows that the Ballas were really trying to kill Sweet in the drive-by shooting, but instead killed Beverly.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: The notorious C.R.A.S.H. unit is exaggerated for effect — but not by much. Frank Tenpenny's jobs revolve entirely around rubbing out witnesses who can implicate him. He also killed his original partner, Ralph Pendelbury, before the game began, and plots to ice his two remaining partners as well.
  • Mushroom Samba: Something similar happens, where you end up driving a van under the influence of weed after helping the van's owner torch an entire field of weed with a flamethrower.
  • My Hero, Zero: Zero is an irritating nerd who gives you some of the worst Scrappy Levels of the game. One gets the impression he is thinking of the "special and badass" sense of the name, while everyone else is thinking "loser". He does make weaponized RC planes though...
  • My Little Panzer: Subsequently, after you buy Zero's shop, all of the three missions you must do for Zero involve My Little Panzers. The first involves defending from a swarm of RC planes dropping bombs with a minigun, and the second has you using a prototype RC biplane armed with an infinite-ammo cannon to kill employees of Berkley RC, Zero's arch-rival in the business of RC toys. Serious business indeed.
    Zero: They're not toys! They're just smaller!
    • Oh, and the third? Seems like the actual use for these things: a car tries to drive a road into a base. Berkley's helicopter drops obstacles that your helicopter has to remove. Berkley also has actual tanks shooting at his car, albeit with low-powered ammo for their size. You have access to tiny antitank bombs.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Both Sweet and C.J. have some problems with Kendl's boyfriend, Cesar. C.J. warms up to him not long after their first meeting.
  • Mysterious Employer: The game had C.J. being led around by a mysterious voice on a loudspeaker who reveals himself to be the thought-dead Mike Toreno.
  • Near-Miss Groin Attack: The intro to the "Saint Mark's Bistro" mission has Maccer tied up to the wall, with Salvatore and Maria working on practicing knife-throwing. They flirt, with Maccer demanding they let him go. Salvatore throws the knife, hitting right below Maccer's crotch.
  • Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters: The Grove Street Families, especially Sweet and C.J., are very keen on traditional family values. Their allies, the Varrios Los Aztecas and the Mountain Cloud Boys Triads, fit as well.
  • Nerf Arm: The game featured a purple double-ended dildo (which can be found the Los Santos Police Station Showers among other places) as a surprisingly strong melee weapon. And it can be given as a gift to your girlfriends. Same with a secret silver vibrator that can be found in the northernmost town of Bone County.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: No matter how many guns the player has when invading Madd Dogg's mansion for the first time, he ends up with just a knife. The player is not even allowed to pick up dropped weapons until halfway through. A much later mission ends with a helicopter crash leaving the water-treading protaganist outside of the ship he has to infiltrate. All his weapons (sob) are at the bottom of the drink except his knife. However, here, a quick swim to shore and knowledge of respawning weapon locations makes the ship much easier to overcome.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: The Truth, a tie-dye wearing, weed-growing, long-haired Conspiracy Theorist and hippie. At first he seems like a crackpot, but when Carl starts being shadowed by government spooks, those wild theories suddenly don't seem so far-fetched.
    The Truth: Carl, do you know how many satellites the government has in space?
    Carl: No. How many?
    The Truth: Twenty-three. Do you know how many biblical artifacts the government is keeping at the Pentagon?
    Carl Johnson: No.
    The Truth: Twenty-three. Don't you see a pattern here?
    Carl: Man I'm seeing patterns all over the place! Get that smoke out my face.
  • New World Tease: It's possible to travel to San Fierro and Las Venturas before they've been officially unlocked (you just can't get there by road). However, until you progress far enough in the storyline, there's nothing to do there except look at the scenery and run from the hordes of murderous cops — did we not mention the four-star wanted level you get the moment you skip town?
  • Nice Guy: In contrast to the music he plays on Radio Los Santos, Julio G is actually a chill dude who is against gang violence, drugs, and later, rioting, encouraging listeners to take a non-violent approach to all things, making him one of the few characters in the whole franchise to do so.
    • Cesar, Woozie, Emmet, Madd Dogg, and to some extent, The Truth are some of the more pleasant of Carl's allies.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: CJ's friends: Big Smoke is the nicest to C.J. and enjoys his company the most Though that being said, he is dishonest and later turns on C.J., Ryder is the mean one who constantly berates C.J. and never hesitates to call him out on leaving five years ago, and Sweet is in-between, as while he's just as much of a Jerkass to C.J. as Ryder, he still shows love towards him when C.J. does help out and is the only one who doesn't stab C.J. in the back.
    • The living Johnson siblings as well. Kendl is easily the nicest of the three, as she welcomes C.J. back with open arms and gets along with him well for the most part, as well as refusing to partake into any illegal activities. Sweet takes on the role as the mean since he is rather stubborn and bullheaded and would berate C.J. for not putting in work for the hood. This leaves C.J. himself in-between, as he is more of a Noble Demon who has enough morals to be considered more of an Anti-Hero.
    • The three fast-food cashiers found in the game: The Burger Shot one is a Nice Girl who geniunely expresses concern when C.J. vomits after eating too much, the Cluckin' Bell one is basically the GTA equivalent to Squidward Tentacles in terms of attitude and customer service, while the Well Stacked Pizza one is apathetic and somewhat rude (and certainly no pushover, as C.J. and Ryder learned the hard way), but not as contemptuous as the Cluckin' Bell cashier.
    • Despite being the main antagonists, the C.R.A.S.H. unit are a downplayed case of this: Officer Hernandez is the most moral one of the trio, only killing Pendlebury and warning Carl not to leave Los Santos because Tenpenny forced him too and selling them out to Internal Affairs, along with taking a bullet for Carl when Pulaski tries to kill him, Pulaski is a short-tempered "asshole to the end" who definitely isn't above snide and racist remarks, while Tenpenny is equally malevolent, but much more laid-back.
  • The '90s: Specifically, 1992. Thug life, livin' in the 'hood, lowriders, N.W.A, Public Enemy and Ice Cube on the radio.
  • Nintendo Hard: GTA forums contain numerous accounts by players who have abandoned the game due to inability to complete a number of levels, with "Wrong Side of the Tracks" (a mission requiring the player to drive a bike alongside a train while Smoke, a terrible shot, attempts to shoot enemy gang member off the top) and the Flight School (aka "Learning to Fly") missions being declared impossible by some. The latter is affected particularly on PS2 and PC versions by poor controls, and forums include accounts of people making hundreds of attempts to complete just the third test (circling the airfield).
  • Nitro Boost: One of the two performance upgrades you can acquire for your car at the mod garages. Comes in the "Stored Nitro Charges" type. Also, the reward for finishing the Taxi Driver side missions includes unlimited nitrous on all taxis.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Madd Dogg is an amalgam of Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg, and voiced by Ice T.
    • One of the barbers looks and sounds exactly like Morgan Freeman, and another is pretty clearly Vanilla Ice (and has hilariously bad street slang skills, just like him).
    • OG Loc's appearance is based heavily on Tupac Shakur, but his personality is anachronistically Ja Rule (apparently a leftover from when C.J. was going to be voiced by Ja's then-rival 50 Cent).
    • Ryder is very obviously Eazy-E with the exaggeration turned Up to Eleven.
    • Kurt Cobain is commonly seen on the streets.
    • A blonde woman dressed like Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct is seen everywhere.
    • In the countryside one of the men seeing walking the streets looks like the villain from the original The Hills Have Eyes (1977). (This man also makes a cameo appearance in the game as Millie's gimp.)
    • The scant details that the fictional band The Gurning Chimps are from "Madchester", Maccer's appearance and accent and the early '90s setting suggest that they are expys of The Stone Roses (who do appear on Radio X). Or Oasis. Or the Happy Mondays, whose frontman provides the voice.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Not only are the names of the cities parallels for real-world locations (Los Santos = Los Angeles, San Fierro = San Francisco, Las Venturas = Las Vegas), but the names of the districts also imitate those of their real-world counterparts (Compton = Ganton, Idlewood = Inglewood, Hollywood = Vinewood, etc.). This leads into a bit of a Celebrity Paradox when the music on the radio references places that the locations in the game have replaced.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • If you activate the cheat that causes every NPC in the game to become an active combatant, the mission to prevent Madd Dogg's suicide becomes impossible and the game unwinnable. Quite harsh considering it happens in the final third of the game. Also, there's no way to disable the cheat once it's activated.
    • If you use the "full health" cheat during a mission that has a health bar for the car, it will explode instead of restoring the car.
  • No-Gear Level: Twice. C.J. loses all his guns several times. After you've finished the story missions for the first city, you're dumped out of town with no weapons. Later on, the helicopter he's on gets gunned down and crashes in the water. You must then make your way aboard the gangster-ridden container ship you were attacking and acquire guns by killing gang members (or you can simply swim ashore, buy new weapons, and go back). Another mission, "Stowaway", has C.J. inside a plane loaded with explosives (possibly landmines). Shooting in there is not forbidden, no - but one shot that misses a government agent mook in there means hitting the explosives and the whole thing goes kaboom. Players are likely to resort to melee weapons or unarmed combat in there, risking no such thing - especially since getting into the plane in the first place is especially finnicky.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In their introduction Mike Toreno oversees T-Bone Mendez beating a guy down pretty hard to the point of death.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The meat locker in Las Venturas has no unlocking mechanism from inside.
  • No One Could Survive That!:
    • Yes, this happens to the hero, during the "The Da Nang Thang" mission. Carl plays door gunner for a Triad mission, but his chopper is shot down. One bad guy asks about survivors, and a nearer gunman says that no, no one could survive that. Properly played, C.J. would then sneak up on the gunman and slit his throat.
    • After shooting down Mike Toreno's helicopter during one mission, you're told that "there's no way he could have survived that fireball" (bordering on Suspiciously Specific Denial, as this is the only time you see such sort of a message after mission). Guess who you talk to later?
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Ironically, this is enforced in a certain mission. C.J. has fly to Liberty City to kill Forelli gangsters at the St. Mark's Bistro. Once Carl wipes out the Forellis, he immediately files back to Las Venturas.
  • No Stat Atrophy: Averted. Physical exertion will consume the character's energy, first in the form of his reserves of body fat. If that is used up, his muscles will start to decay, making him weaker.
    • This is also an example of why it's rarely used. Many gamers complained about having their wanton violence, setting things on fire and parachuting off of high buildings interrupted by mandatory visits to the nearest restaurant. It was removed in Grand Theft Auto IV despite it being the most realistic of the series otherwise, possibly due to complaints.
  • No, You: The normally fairly quick tongued Carl Johnson comes off looking brilliant when he first meets Cesar and some of his friends.
    Azteca: I think he thinks he's gangsta, and he should fuck off.
    Carl: No, you fuck off.
  • Noble Demon: C.J. may be willing to steal, murder, and do violent criminal acts, but he has a good side as well.
  • Nobody's That Dumb: When C.J. learns that Woozie is really blind, he assumes that Woozie doesn't know what's really going on around his surroundings, which he sometimes does. So after Woozie reveals to C.J. that he's blind:
    C.J.: Uh... Woozie... You do know I'm black, right? And not Chinese?
    Woozie: I'm blind, Carl, not stupid.
  • Non Sequitur:
    • C.J.'s girlfriends repeat the same non-sequiturs ad nauseum during car trips. C.J. feigns interest.
    • Throughout the game, NPCs can have conversations with each other. However, these conversations consist entirely of random voice clips, so they are literally nothing but a series of strung-together non-sequiturs.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • During "Home Invasion", waking up the occupant of the house before getting the minimum amount of crates results in Ryder ditching you, leaving you to fend off a wanted level.
    • During the mission "Stowaway", you can jump out the plane without a parachute, which leads into a cutscene showing C.J. crashing into a parked car at a drive-in.
    • During one mission, Ken Rosenberg will get scared by the gun fight and runs to a meat locker to hide in. If you follow him in and there's mooks around, a mook can actually lock you and your friend inside the freezer, making the mission a failure.
  • Nostalgia Level: One mission late in the game is set in Liberty City, the setting of Grand Theft Auto III.
  • Not My Driver: The main character has to imitate the chauffeur of a recording artist's manager, in order to kill him by driving into the sea.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: While OG Loc at first appears to be an idiot who is ridiculed for their friends, even too harmless to consider him a "villain", this is inmediately inverted when he sends C.J. to commit several atrocities: stealing Madd Dogg's rhyme book, then killing Madd Dogg's manager and his girlfriend. It gets worse when he becomes famous, driving Madd Dogg to almost commit suicide!
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: This is the first Grand Theft Auto game to adopt a comparatively realistic set of Jump Physics and the appropriate fall damage to accompany drops of varying distances. However, there are still some absurd methods of negating this damage, such as:
    • Soft Water
    • So long as you are in a vehicle, you will receive no damage from impacts, including falls from great heights. This becomes especially absurd when you fall while on a bicycle or motorbike. Even if the impact ejects you from the bike, you will only receive minor damage, if any.
    • If you are on full health and fall from a great height that would usually kill you, you will still survive with just barely enough health on the verge of death.
  • Nothing but Hits: The soundtrack is heavily stacked with hits from the early '90s.
    • Averted with several songs, which may sound and feel like the '80s/'90s, but are not necessarily widely remembered hits, many being acts that are majorly unknown for people who didn't live in that time period. As well as songs that weren't actually hits outside of the genre charts.
    • Also subverted, while the game does contain plenty of late '80s and early '90s hip-hop and rock, it also contains representations of genres that were experiencing Popularity Polynomial during the early '90s, such as '70s rock, rare groove and funk.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: C.J.'s mom's murder. Aside from the fact that she makes no physical appearance in the game, we are never given the visual depiction of her death. Sweet's reaction after he ran to her (off-screen) corpse, along with Pulaski's delineation of her face prior to her burial, infers that it definitely had to be a rather brutal assassination on her part.
  • Numerological Motif: The game correlates the number 23 to something sinister. Discussed in a conversation between protagonist Carl Johnson and The Truth:
    Carl Johnson: What's with all the aluminum foil, man?
    The Truth: Protection from mind control, dude.
    Carl Johnson: Mind control?
    The Truth: Induction of images, sound or emotion using microwave radiation. D'you know how many government satellites are watching any citizen at any moment?
    Carl Johnson: No.
    The Truth: Twenty-three. Do you know how many religious relics are kept at The Pentagon?
    Carl Johnson: No, I don't.
    The Truth: Twenty three. You see a pattern emerging here, man?
    Carl Johnson: Man, I'm seeing patterns all over the place! Get that smoke out of my face!
  • Office Golf: Woozie does this at the Triad's Las Venturas casino. His henchman makes sure his average remains low, despite Woozie being blind.
  • Older Than They Look: Radio advertisements in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City mentions a show called Just the Five of Us, featuring a character called Jimmy who looks 12 but claims to be a 42-year old investment banker. This turns out to be real, in show and out here, about 9 years later when we hear the actor who played Jimmy again, still looking and sounding like a kid, even though he's in his fifties.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Mike Toreno operates under one of these. And, as always, so do you.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: Said when you fail Zero's "Supply Lines": "Curse you, Berkeley! CURSE YOOOOOUUUUU!"
  • One-Man Army: In order to gain complete control of Los Santos, the protagonist must kill in total thousands of rival gang members armed with AK-47s and other heavy weaponry, usually 30-40 per "territory", and that's not even counting police forces, mob gangsters, hitmen, FBI agents and the U.S. military. Furthermore, because gang members are instantly replaced (or healed by paramedics), it's possible for the player character to wipe out the same gang several times over in the course of minutes. Occasionally lampshaded:
    Ken Rosenberg: Oh yeah, he's a real one-man army! Real fuckin' dependable.
  • The One Who Made It Out: C.J. has this status amongst his gang. His exile after his brother's death essentially made him a criminal in Liberty City and in the game proper, he forms alliances with Hispanic, Chinese, Italian gangs and the U.S. government, taking a gang-banging crew to circles far beyond their reach.
  • Only Known by Initials: C.J. (Carl Johnson).
  • Only Sane Man: C.J. wants to be one of these, but he has a crippling weakness: he can be made to go along with any crazy scheme by calling him a "buster" for pointing out why said scheme is likely to get him killed.
    • As far as DJ's from the radio stations goes, Julio G, the DJ from Radio Los Santos, is undeniably the calmest, most laid-back of them all, while every other DJ from each of their respective stations have a certain idiosyncrasy that would often border on quirky.
  • Oop North: Maccer, voiced by Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder, is a Salfordian musician dressed in stereotypical Madchester gear and mentions his hometown and adjacent Manchester in his dialogue upon his first encounter.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter:
    • The game used it as a way to increase your Relationship Meter with a girlfriend. But only once it got to a certain point already (except for Millie, who was... less choosy in certain regards).
    • San Andreas also had the Pimping Side Quest, which when completed caused prostitutes to give you money while in your, ahem, employ. And then, of course, there was "Hot Coffee"...
  • Optional Stealth: There are numerous stealth sequences in this game, but it's a lot easier in most cases to simply murder your way to the objective, and the game provides alternatives for this scenario. This is particularly true of Area 69, in which the stealth option is arguably more dangerous than the direct approach. The only time where stealth is strongly advised is when you must infiltrate an aircraft carrier: getting seen will make soldiers run to the stationed jetfighters and flee with them, before you can steal one of them, thus failing the mission.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: Lampshaded; the early missions have characters note that Carl (the player character) Drives Like Crazy. Despite this, everyone insists he drive whenever they get in a car.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The Mood Lighting of Los Santos has this, with the sky being a strong shade of blue, and the ground heavily orange tinted, coupled with heat haze to make the place look truly hot and smoggy.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The mission "Deconstruction", Several fans consider genuinely disturbing and creepy radical personality change suffered by the protagonist Carl, being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold to a lunatic homicidal maniac that would make Catalina proud.
  • Outlaw Couple: Carl and Catalina are briefly this in the "Countryside" missions; the radio station even mentions your antics at one point. Catalina, being an Ax-Crazy psychopath, pretty much ruins their business (and physical) relationship in short order, though.
  • Outrun the Fireball: A couple of times, but especially in one of the final missions in the game after you kill Big Smoke.
  • Outside Ride: Doable.
  • Overturned Outhouse: During the mission where CJ takes revenge on a construction site for catcalling his sister, the foreman hides in a port-a-potty, which CJ not only bulldozes into a pit, but he buries the foreman alive in concrete.
  • Oxygen Meter: This was a departure from the rest of the series, as previous games gave the player Super Drowning Skills.
  • Pac-Man Fever: Justified, the game takes place in the early nineties.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Cops will lose track of you if you go into your house in front of their very eyes, put on a pair of joke glasses (y'know, thick frames, bushy eyebrows and a huge nose) and walk out the front door, waving to them.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: In the gay section of San Fierro (a parody of San Francisco) there's a movie theater with the title The Wizard of Ass on the marquee. It's one of the easiest photo ops to find.
  • Parental Incest: The Truth takes umbrage at being called "motherfucker" by a gangbanger.
    "Firstly, you are a real buzz killer, amigo. And secondly, I never made love to my mother — She wouldn't. And thirdly..."
  • Parking Garage:
    • "Ran Fa Li" has the player tasked in retrieving a car in San Fierro International's massive underground carpark for the Triads, which leads to the player being ambushed by gang members from the rival Da Nang Boys.
    • Players in San Andreas may also stumble across a scene reminiscent of the Rodney King beating in the parking garage of the Los Santos headquarters.
  • Parody Commercial: The advertisements for Cluckin' Bell, a fictional KFC and Taco Bell look-alike, which stress how processed and disgusting their food is, as well as the inhumane manner in which the chickens are treated.
    The chicken is a bird with a tiny brain,
    So we assume he doesn't feel any pain,
    We shrink their heads and we breed 'em fast,
    Six wings, forty breasts, then they're gassed...
    From Cluckin Bell's first commercial
    I love chicken with a shitty smell,
    And that's why I love Cluckin' Bell!
    'From the second commercial
  • Pass Through the Rings: This is the first game in the series where such missions aren't optional to get to the end. Some of the flying school missions require this to master the mechanics, and later story missions involving flight will use this as objectives.
  • Patchwork Map: The game averts this by putting the desert and forest in different land masses. Though in an inversion of California's geology, the desert is in the north.
  • Paused Interrupt: There is a segment where a Non-Player Character, Catalina, calls the protagonist up on his cell phone to chew him out. As with most phone conversations in the game, this happens in real time. She flies into her usual rage, and hangs up on the player — but the game doesn't know how to handle a dramatic mid-call hangup. She just stops talking, there is no click or dial tone, and the protagonist calmly folds up his phone and puts it away without a second glance, precisely the same way he is animated to end every (complete) phone conversation.
    • Also can be averted by the player, who can cancel a phone call at any time without any paused interrupts.
  • Permadeath: Two of C.J.'s girlfriends who are killed on a datenote  will be dead for good.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • There are several vehicles that can only be obtained in the main missions, such as a Volkswagen bus with a retro hippy paint job, an armored car, and several modified cars, or cars with vanity license plates. This creates the odd situation where the game plans for you to lose these vehicles forever — the only way to hold onto them is often to park them in a garage, then fail the mission and restart it.
    • The player can start over with most of C.J.'s girlfriends if they are killed during a date, as they will respawn in their "meeting point" in the map. The only exceptions are Denise Robinson and Millie Perkins because they meet C.J. through the storyline missions, which means that they can't be met again if they end up dead.
  • Pimp Duds: Lampshaded when C.J. spies on a meeting...
    C.J.: I know a pimp when I see one.
  • Pimped-Out Car: One of the many things to do in this game.
  • Piñata Enemy: Drug dealers. Each drops around $2000 (and pistol ammo) when killed, generally spawn alone, and after an early mission are extremely common, making them a valuable source of income early in the game.
  • Piss Take Rap: OG Loc, who actually manages to have a rap career despite being a horrible rapper.
  • Pixel Hunt: One of the turf areas for Los Santos's gang wars is, no joke, a piece of sidewalk in the north area. When checked out on the map, it's a barely visible line unless you zoom in real close.
  • Player Headquarters: The safehouses. You can save, heal and clear your Wanted level in them, and you change clothes in safehouses too. You get one free at the start of the game, and to get more, you have to buy them. Though you get a few other free ones along the way (you can count on getting one every time you reach a new part of the state).
  • Player Mooks: Being awesome enough means one can recruit fellow gang members to assist on missions. They will follow, fire, pursue and then try to get in the car with you to go back home.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: In the second half of one of the last Los Santos missions, you're given an old, poorly-maintained AK-47note  to defend the car you're escaping in. About halfway through that sequence (right as the police manage to set up an effective road block), it irreparably jams.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: C.J. comes back from Liberty City to attend his mother's funeral.
  • Plotline Death: A character who has the oomph to resist multiple bullets moments ago (on the roof of Madd Dogg's mansion) gets taken down by a single bullet in the foyer.
  • Pop the Tires: Richard Burns on the news is riding with cops trying to stop illegal street racing, and Richard then tries to shoot out a car's tires.
  • Post-Processing Video Effects: There's a number of tone mapping filters applied between buildings. You can notice the entire world change color outside as you step inside certain buildings. Film grain pops up during rainfall.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Satchel charges. They're only required for a few missions and they have very little use outside any mission where your target is already on the move. They're fun for a quick laugh if you want to screw around, but the money spent could have been used for other guns.
  • Pretender Diss: OG Loc, a black kid who tries so hard to be gangsta it hurts to watch. His rapping is just as bad.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: OG Loc is pathetic as a "gangsta"note . He does manage to make a music career out of it for a while, but that's only because he had C.J. steal Madd Dogg's rhyme book.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some of the women pedestrians walk around in a fur coat.
    • Spoofed when a pimp claims he has loads of stuff made of mink.
    • Also spoofed in a radio ad about selling fur coats to guys in a mid-life crisis.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo (Sort Of): The quiet player character from Grand Theft Auto III (Claude) makes a cameo as the new boyfriend of C.J.'s ex-girlfriend, Catalina. C.J. refers to him as "that mute asshole".
    • In the meathouse shootout mission where Ken Rosenberg is accompanying C.J., he sometimes shouts:
      Ken: Just like old times, Tommy!
      C.J.: Who the fuck is Tommy?
  • Prison Rape:
    • OG Loc is implied to have been raped in prison. It's equally implied that the encounter was more consensual than he would like to admit.
    • Tenpenny threatens to arrange for Sweet to be raped in prison in order to coerce C.J. into doing his bidding.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: One mission has C.J. picking up his old friend Jeffrey (who now goes by "OG Loc") from prison. When they get a chance to talk, C.J. compliments him on his new muscular physique. OG Loc is quite proud of it himself, and touts prison as a great place to get into shape. C.J. notes he could have done that without going to jail, but OG Loc thinks doing it while imprisoned is important for street cred.
  • Prodigal Hero: C.J. does it twice: first time, at the beginning of the game when he returns from Liberty City, and second time, when Sweet gets arrested and spends most of the game in San Fierro and Las Venturas, only coming back to Los Santos near the end of the game.
  • Professional Killer: The game features a main character that takes contracts to assassinate people.
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: It's longer than Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City combined, and each city on the map could probably fill out an entire game by themselves.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Truth, who at first glance looks like your average perpetually stoned New-Age Retro Hippie. But as the game goes on, more and more of the weird, seemingly random and/or insane stuff he talks about turns out to be true.
  • Psychic Static: The Truth convinces C.J. and co to "Think of a pink golf ball" and other such oddities when you reach different locations. He doesn't say WHY he says to do these things, but it's presumably to make sure C.J. doesn't think that he's avoiding a mind-scan, which would tip off whoever is reading your mind that you're trying to avoid having your mind read.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Catalina is one of these to C.J.
  • Super Swimming Skills: And quite a drastic switch from the Super Drowning Skills of all the preceding entries in the series at that.

  • Racing the Train: The mission "Wrong Side of the Tracks" involves you and Big Smoke trying to chase a train while on a dirt bike so that he can shoot the rival gang members atop the train. It's tough since the game never tells you that you need to be at least another train's width away from the train so that Big Smoke can hit them.
    "All we had to do was follow the damn train, C.J.!"
  • Ramming Always Works: A fun pastime if you made it through the game is to catch special cars, appearing during missions, that are not meant to be caught. Mostly by exploding them and get them to your garage to unlock the doors. That one car was impossible to get - it was everything-proof. Until a complete genius had the idea to land with a parachute on it. Yeah, it took a bit of damage by that! <kaboom> Congratulation, you are now owner of a BP/EP/FP/CP/MP Bravura.
  • Rare Guns: C.J. can acquire the Desert Eagle when he reaches Las Venturas, though there's a free one lurking around the Los Santos, and just a block away from your safehouse in San Fierro.
  • Real Is Brown: Check out the graphics. An unmistakable brownish-gray trend emerges. The game might justify this by imitating the look of early '90s films set in South Central.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: A couple missions feature the Ballas ambushing the Grove Street Families in a hot pink car. While C.J. can't get any pink clothes, he can get a pink mohawk.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kendl gives one to C.J. when he complains about the state of the garage he's received, telling him that he's wanted rewards without work, and can't see an opportunity when one falls into his lap.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In one of the radio segments, Jack Howitzer threatens to kill host Billy Dexter unless he touches Jack's genitals (It Makes Sense in Context... sorta) and then says he was just fooling around and that his gun was unloaded, only for it to go off and kill Dexter.
  • Recursive Reality: The infamous Dummied Out Hot Coffee Minigame has a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City poster hanging up in the wall, especially odd given that characters from Vice City do appear in this game. Given that the minigame wasn't finished, the poster was probably just a placeholder.
    • For examples that did make it in the final product, there's a theater in Los Santos featuring a wall of Grand Theft Auto III posters and Zero RC selling Vice City and Manhunt figures.
  • Red-plica Baron: San Andreas features a red remote-controlled bi-plane called "RC Baron".
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: In the mission "Reuniting the Families", Ryder hands your character an ancient, POS AK-47 that jams to the point of uselessness right when you need it.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: C.J. finds out that this is also true about gang-banging. So, he takes over the entire state.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Before Big Smoke does his Face–Heel Turn, the game drops several subtle hints at it:
    • Big Smoke's house is in Idlewood, which is Ballas territory.
    • During the Drive-Thru mission, Big Smoke is too preoccupied with eating his food to shoot the enemy gang members. At first, it just seems like Smoke is being a Fat Bastard, but the mission "The Green Sabre" casts his actions in a new light.
    • During the "Reuniting the Families" mission, Big Smoke and Ryder leave Sweet and C.J. to take on the LSPD by themselves.
  • Rice Burner: Customizing was one of the new features made available - though some cars are much better suited to it (hint: an actual sports car can take more modifications and already goes fast anyway). In keeping with the trope, most of these will make no difference whatsoever to the car's performance, a notable exception being the Nitro Boost.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never do find out just what the green goo The Truth gets is.
  • Right Through His Pants: The infamous "hot coffee" mini-games has Carl keeping his pants on while the women he beds are usually nude.
  • Right Through the Wall: When C.J. chooses to have "coffee" (sex) with one of his girlfriends, the camera stays outside the home and the sounds of them having sex are muffled, as if we're listening to them through the wall. Later games with this option, Grand Theft Auto IV (and its DLCs) and Grand Theft Auto V, also keep the camera outside during "coffee" or "booty calls", but the sounds are no longer muffled.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The game features one mission where C.J. must sneak on a farm owned by a Waco-esque group in order to steal their combine harvester for The Truth. They shoot at him on sight — although C.J. is trespassing with the intention of committing theft, he barely steps foot on his property before they start firing. Also, they shout racial slurs at C.J. and clearly enjoy hunting him down. But once you actually get to the harvester...
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The bent cop Tenpenny works for an anti-gang unit C.R.A.S.H. — Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums. The unit is (very loosely) based on a real life police counter-gang unit gone bad. In real life the Los Angeles Police Department was rocked by the C.R.A.S.H. Rampart scandal.
    • CJ's mother was killed in a drive-by from a green Sabre, which is later found in a police garage. This is directly based off the black Chevrolet Impala SS in the drive-by which killed Chris Wallace, which although related happened in 1997.
    • Towards the end of the game, the riot that breaks out in Los Santos is a take on the Rodney King beating trial riot.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: There's a color-coded overlay for the turf wars in Los Santos, denoting blocks and sometimes even streets as belonging to a certain gang.
  • Road Block: The roads are blocked due to an earthquake some time prior to the game events that has destroyed most bridges. Since your character can swim, there's also a Border Patrol in the shape of a wanted level whenever you leaved the unlocked area.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: An interesting Freudian Slip is to misspell "martial arts" as "marital arts". It appears on the billboard of a usable gym in San Fierro. Easy mistake to make but since this is GTA...
  • RPG Elements: Unlike previous games, C.J.'s skills improve the more he uses them. Physical activity (running, biking) improves stamina, swimming improves lung capacity, weight lifting increases strength, vehicles become easier to control the more C.J. uses them (in specific categories; four-wheel, two-wheel, flying, pedals), guns have greater accuracy and range with use (and you can strafe while aiming), and he can even learn new combat moves from trainers at the various gyms. The player also has to eat occasionally in order to stay healthy. If C.J. goes without eating for too long, it begins to drain his fat. Once that's gone, muscle and stamina follows. Conversely, eating too much builds fat that affects his strength and stamina accordingly. C.J.'s physical appearance also feeds into his relationships with his girlfriends. Some like C.J. to be wearing certain clothes and fat is generally looked down on. Fortunately, several of these statistics can be bypassed through various means. If you find all 50 oysters in the game, C.J. has infinite lung capacity and will automatically be attractive regardless of appearance. If you earn $10,000 in the Burglary side mission, you gain infinite stamina. Compared to the sequel, the work required to keep on top of these elements is fairly light and often optional.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Previously GTA games have the character speak like an elite, with instances of "shit" not reaching even 20. Now here the swearing is off-the-wall, especially for the Gang Banger characters, and Rockstar wouldn't look back before this game anymore for the succeeding installment while writing their scripts.
  • Running Gag:
    • Catalina will periodically call Carl to tell him how happy she is and how she doesn't miss him at all. She does this well through to the end of the game.
    • People calling Carl a terrible driver.
    • No matter how good C.J. dresses. Even if he drives a Cool Car such as a Cheetah, and wears the best clothes from Didier Sachs, and has a great haircut such as a cornrow, and has a slender but muscular physique and wears no tattoos, many pedestrians will complain about C.J.'s smell. This is ironically especially true of poorer and middle class civilians in San Andreas. Fortunately not all types of pedestrians care about C.J.'s smell. Gang members, emergency personnel and, surprisingly, most of the rich pedestrians never seem to mind C.J.'s smell. The smell is linked to the sex appeal stat; the higher sex appeal Carl has, the better he smells. The only way to keep the sex-appeal stat high at all times is to constantly change outfits (and only the more expensive clothes are valid).
    • Despite all of CJ's efforts to keep the casino heist a secret, more and more people just keep on stumbling into he and Woozie's planning hall, finding out about it, and then being inadvertently recruited. It eventually gets to the point where just about every single friend and ally CJ has made throughout the game plus the janitor is now in on the heist.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Da Nang Boys, Vietnamese drug dealers, and human smugglers all try to muscle in on both the San Fierro Triads and the Loco Syndicate. Since the latter two groups have C.J. on the payroll, it doesn't go well for the others.
  • Sadist:
    • Catalina. She loves to cause misfortune or suffering to others, including sexual, and this is evident when she tortures C.J. for sexual pleasure.
    • Tenpenny and Pulaski. Both of them love throwing their weight around and watching their mark, who usually happens to be CJ, squirm.
  • Safety Gear Is Cowardly: In the final mission, C.J. taunts Big Smoke for wearing body armour, contrary to his gangsta image, Ryder also mocks a member of the Ballas for doing the same in a previous mission. The fact that C.J. can buy body armor at stores doesn't seem to count.
  • Satchel Charge: San Andreas features a satchel charge as one of the available weapons in the game, being the remote-detonated variety. They become available for purchase at any Ammu-Nation store for 2000 USD following the "Against All Odds" mission.
  • Satellite Character: Kendl is for the most part C.J.'s sister/Cesar's girlfriend.
  • Save Scumming:
    • You can save scum to build up all the money you'll ever need by gambling, if you're willing to spend several hours. This is most easily accomplished after you've unlocked the Las Venturas mission strands and can save at the casino. Simply gamble at your choice of game (video poker is a popular one) and save when you win big, or quit/reset when you lose all your money).
    • Another method of doing this which can be accessed earlier in the game is to use the betting shop in Blueberry. Catalina's house on Fern Ridge has a save spot and a fast car that spawns on every load. The road down the ridge leads directly to the Shop, and only takes about 30 seconds. Betting on the longshot has a massive payout and can net you a huge income very quickly.
    • San Andreas introduced ways to let the player keep their weapons after death or arrest to discourage save scumming: it had a few missions where you would lose all of your guns at the start of a mission, pissing off players who had been save scumming to keep their guns and finding out they have to lose them anyway.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: With the advantage of greater spread and no real reduction in power versus the basic shotgun. Not only can sawed-off shotguns be wielded like pistols, but C.J. can use two at once with enough practice. Best not to think about how he reloads.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Old Reece is implied to be this, as Ryder mentions the former having 'popped his membrane years ago'. Indeed, he will talk to C.J. in a manner that suggests he is mentally in the past.
  • Scenery Porn: Being a sandbox game, San Andreas doesn't have much in the way of huge, time-consuming panoramic shots of the landscape, but the love and attention to detail is clear. Las Venturas is, barring certain plot-and-legality-based changes and scale, almost perfectly accurate to the Strip and Fremont Street in real life (at least, how they were in the '90s; Fremont Street has since become 'The Fremont Street Experience').
    • Dated visuals aside, the countryside is still quite beautiful, with its rolling hills, tall trees and open meadows and fields that are easy to get lost and immersed in. On the other hand, it can also be quite creepy, especially at night.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: One of the motorcycle cop voices in the game is an inversion of this trope. You might sometimes hear him tell C.J. that he was the one who bullied him back when they were kids.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: In the mission "Green Goo", it's always the third box that contains the eponymous green goo you're looking for.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Officers Tenpenny and Pulaski were assigned to stop gangs and instead tried to control them.
    • Toreno has elements of this, although he's aware that many of his actions have to stay quiet.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Reversed in one mission you are required to kill a group of construction workers (they looked at your sister funny or something). The mission is fairly routine until the last guy, who runs into a portable bathroom and you push him into a pit and fill it with cement. He gets rescued offscreen later, though, apparently.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: Only the AI has the ability to do drive-by shootings with the basic Pistol in non-missions.
  • Secret-Keeper: C.J. has a few things to hide from some of his acquaintances:
    • Denise was trapped in a house fire caused by him.
    • Madd Dogg was driven to suicide due to C.J. killing his manager and stealing his rhyme book.
  • Selective Condemnation:
    • The game contains a central plot point involving the protagonist being forced to do the bidding of a crooked cop, who has in his possession a gun used in the murder of a police officer. He threatens to use it to frame C.J., and it's implied that this gun alone is evidence enough for a murder conviction and life imprisonment sentence. However, in-game, the player can freely murder police officers in broad daylight (often dozens at a time), and subsequently actually be arrested, with no dire consequences.
    • Not to mention the time C.J. and Ryder stole a ton of guns from a National Guard depot, shooting dozens of soldiers in the process. You know, treason.
    • An optional side-quest requires C.J., the protagonist, to murder about twenty police officers. Why are they gunning for him? He took pictures of blueprints for a casino.
  • Selective Enforcement: An early mission has you fleeing on bicycles from gangsters shooting at you with machine guns from a car. The police won't respond even as they stand in the gangster's line of fire, but so help you if your bike bumps into them.
  • Senseless Violins: Implied in one mission, where you have to gun down a bunch of Mafia thugs who were going to carry out a hit disguised as a string quartet.
  • Separate, but Identical: The Grove Street OG's hate the palette-swapped Ballas. The only real difference between the two crews is the Ballas sell cocaine; otherwise both are filled to the brim with violent psychotics.
    • Similar goes for the two Latino gangs in San Andreas.
    • The Ballas in the south near the beach differ in that they are armed with pistols at best.
  • Sequel Escalation: If you were expecting more of the same GTA III/Vice City gameplay, only set in the '90s and with RPG elements, boy were you in for a surprise.
  • Sequence Breaking: It is possible to simply swim out of the parts of the game you're currently permitted to explore, but doing so sets the cops and even the navy on you. Most of this can avoided by making a jump over the guard building into the airport, getting into a plane and simply flying off (it does, however, mean flying while being attacked by Navy planes). Using this technique to complete all the optional goals before playing the actual story is a fairly popular Self-Imposed Challenge.
    • There are several missions in San Andreas that can be done in a way different from intended:
      • "Robbing Uncle Sam": Instead of opening the gate immediately after you enter the military base, you can kill every soldier already spawned on the place, then use the forklift to place the boxes near the entrance neatly waiting for when you finally shoot the gate's control panel to open and let Ryder drive inside.
      • "Wrong Side Of The Tracks": Instead of driving alongside the train and let Big Smoke kill the Vagos, you can overtake the train, ride your dirtbike on top of a nearby building using a few ramps and a bridge, then jump on top of the train and use the AK47 or M4 to kill the Vagos yourself.
      • "Gray Imports": Rather than having to chase down the arms dealer through the warehouse and out on the streets, it's possible to get just the right angle on his office door that you can see (and shoot) him before the game triggers his fleeing.
      • "Badlands": Instead of facing off against the FBI agents to kill the witness, you can scare him into getting into his car and running away. When you're out of the FBI's range, you can shoot his car until he bails and kill him easily.
      • "Local Liquor Store": Why use the Quad Bike if you can leave a Sanchez nearby and use it to chase the thieves?
      • "The Da Nang Thang": You lose all your weapons during the helicopter crash, but since there's no timer in this mission, you can go back to the city, stock up on weapons, armor and ammo, then go back and finish the job.
      • "Ice Cold Killa": Pop the tires of Jizzy's car before entering the Pleasuredome. When he tries to flee using his car, it's much easier to chase him.
      • "Pier 69": Instead of jumping on the water and swimming after Ryder, just shoot him from the dock with the Sniper Rifle.
      • "Toreno's Last Flight": Get the Heat Seeking Rocket Launcher from the airport before starting the mission. When the chopper takes flight, it's just a matter of locking on it and firing. Same can be done in Interdiction.
      • In "Misappropriation", the game wants you to have a spectular chase using among other things a helicopter. You can bypass it all by sneaking in quickly enough in the place where the case is, kill the guy who's carrying it, grab the case and flee.
      • In the PC version of "Freefall", a technically non-cheating way to finish this easily is to open Notepad as administrator > open handling.cfg in GTA SA directory > change Dodo's drag value from 12 to 6. Or 2. Just tune them how you like them.
      • There's actually two ways of beating "High Noon". The first is pop the tires of Pulaski's Buffalo and chase him afterwards as normal, or you can get a Minigun and fire away as soon as the cop enters the car. A few seconds of blasting and the car will go up in flames. (Oddly enough the car will be intact in the cutscene and afterwards.)
      • After the mission "Vertical Bird", the Minigun will spawn in Toreno's ranch amongst other weapons. Why don't you get yourselves a bargain and keep 10000 Minigun ammo for bloody missions down the line (such as gangbanging and killing Big Smoke)? Sure some dialogues might not trigger, but it's better than dying...
    • Other than that, there's still the side missions; the "Chiliad Challenge" for example. Instead of winning your races, you can come in dead last, and using a sniper rifle, kill the competition after they crossed the finish line but you still haven't. Killing the competition also works on the "Dirt Track".
  • Serial Killer: Catalina. In fact, she has three bodies buried in her backyard.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: This is quite fun to do. Unless two mooks are specifically on the same side, any mook will attack the mook that attacked it last (or run away). You can often offend someone into attacking you, and then get the police to kill them for you (or the other way around). Irate taxi drivers are particularly useful; climb onto the roof of their cab and they'll ignore you entirely, but when the guy chasing you throws a punch at your ankle and hits their car, they'll be brawling in no time.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The player can choose to sleep with his girlfriends. If he does so, the camera shows the outside of the house while you hear the sounds of love. Amusingly, Rockstar was actually planning to allow the player to control the sex scenes, but wisely changed the game to prevent it. When a man later discovered them, it spawned the infamous Hot Coffee mod controversy.
    • It also happens in the intro to the "Gone Courting" mission, where Catalina decides to jump C.J.'s bones, and from what she brings into the encounter in question, she's quite into S&M.
    • Not to mention, the player can pick up hookers on the street and take them to a quiet area for some fun. This causes the car to rock violently, but nothing can be viewed... Unless you change the camera to see inside the car, when both the player's character and his prostitute just sitting there, facing forward and not moving, and the sounds apparently coming from nowhere.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Spoofed when one of the guests on a radio talk show, "Entertaining America", is a washed up action movie hero who earnestly believes everything that happened in his movies, including his friend dying in Vietnam, happened for real. And the host gets shot and killed by him when he calls him out on it.
  • Shifting Sand Land; The desert around Las Venturas qualifies to some degree: although it's rather realistic, it has Native American reservations, ghost towns, rock formations with funny names, an abandoned airport, oil pumps, a big Hoover-like dam, a geyser, and even ''Area 69'', the local version of the Area 51.
  • Shirtless Scene: The game gives players the option to dress C.J. however they wish... that includes stripping him to his underpants for a nearly completely nude shootout with cops and rival gangsters! Is the block hot or is it just me?
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: The game allows you to instantly detonate a car if you aim for the gas cap. Even if you can clearly see the rest of the tank, as on lorries, only the cap will set it off. Maybe they're blasting caps?
  • Shoplift and Die: Been doing a little gambling in a casino, and you're a bit in the red? No problem, they'll give you time to pay them back... about five minutes in real time. After that, the casino owner will send a hit squad of four guys with SMG's after you. Even if you happen to be the casino owner...
    • And when you kill them, they drop a lot of money. An interesting way to pay off your debt.
  • Shout-Out/Reference Overdosed: All on this page.
  • Shovel Strike: Shovels can be found and used as melee weaponry. Farmers are often equipped with it.
  • Show Within a Show: The game includes a large number of in-game radio stations that can be listened to from any vehicle (or even simply during the pause screen). Content ranges from music and dynamically updated news bulletins, to complete talk shows and phone-in programs.
  • Signs of Disrepair: A billboard shows a girl drinking a bottle of milky-white soda. At the end of a mission, C.J.'s out-of-control car changes its message from "A taste of what's to come!" to "A taste of come!"
  • Silliness Switch: It's possible, with the right cheats, to have hordes of Elvis (Elvii) and fast food employees rioting through the city while any car hit goes flying into space.
  • A Simple Plan: "All we had to do, was follow the damn train, CJ!"
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The mountain bike. Unlike the Bike and the BMX, it's a really fast vehicle with an acceleration rate that puts even motorcycles to shame if you pedal fast. It also has the benefits of the Bike and BMX of being indestructible and very agile in cramped quarters. The only downsides are that it's very rare (one guaranteed to spawn on top of Mount Chiliad, which also start a racing event at certain daylight hours, and regardless of win or lost, you can keep the bike), and bunny hops with it are rather short even on max cycling skill (although there's a trick to jumping higher by shooting your gun at the precise moment you let go of the jump button).
  • Simultaneous Warning and Action: The San Fierro Police are trained social workers. That means they try to "open a constructive dialog" while beating Carl with their nightsticks.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Mike Toreno "teaches" C.J. to learn to fly by giving him a plane and ordering him to figure it out for himself.
  • Skewed Priorities: While he and the rest of his friends are being attacked by Ballas, Big Smoke would rather focus on eating all his food (and for that matter, everyone else's) than fire back at gangsters trying to kill him. Subverted when you find out he secretly betrayed Grove Street and has been working for the Ballas the whole time.
  • Slash Command: The game can be patched to play online. Most servers have hundreds of commands, and every one is different, so switching is always an exercise in frustration.
  • Slashed Throat: It's possible to do this. It's not possible to see it in the console version, since the third-person camera view obscures the sight, but it sounds pretty messy. The PC port, on the other hand, allows for the player to see it in full – it's an initial deep stab followed by C.J. ripping the blade out the front of the victim's neck.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: C.J. starts out wearing a white tanktop.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Grand Theft Auto games generally lie heavily on the cynical side. As an example, in San Andreas, the only two police officers that seem non-corrupt are both killed by the corrupt ones that drive the plot. Even generic cutscene cops often care more about taking bribes or eating snacks than actual justice.
    • Even then San Andreas was more optimistic than the other Grand Theft Auto games in the franchise. Carl and Sweet managed to defeat the corrupt cops and their traitors without losing anyone close to them, especially after Cesar pulled a Retirony moment out. Compared to what happens to the later Grand Theft Auto protagonists, San Andreas is by far the most optimistic of the franchise as the sequels will not be so kind to the other protagonists who lose everything close to them.
      The Truth: You know, I mean, you beat the system! I tried for thirty years to cross over, but you've maaaanaged it, man! I mean, man, you're an icon, man!
  • Sliding Scale of Video Game World Size and Scale: The game would fall under a form of real-time, small scale world (for example you can drive across San Andreas in a couple of minutes, even though it's meant to represent a whole state). However, the game also features the locked doors everywhere feature, in that there are usually tons of buildings but few, if any, are actually enterable.
    • Driving times ARE shortened by the fact that you're normally driving pedal-to-the-metal without a care about crashing. But even if you did drive like people do IRL, the locations are still much smaller than their real-world inspiration.
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • Sage, the DJ at grunge/alternative station Radio X, to the point that she's an in-universe Scrappy.
    • Ryder talks big and acts like he's "too fucking intelligent" to go to school. While Ryder is a decent shot with a gun, even Sweet tells Ryder that C.J. (the player character) has been doing all the work and might be better at being a gangbanger than Ryder is. After you discover Ryder betrayed your gang for a rival gang, he still acts like he's the best. Luckily, you get to put a bullet in his head.
  • Smart Cop, Dumb Cop: The game provides a more malicious take on this trope. Frank Tenpenny is the Evil Genius, while Eddie Pulaski is the dumb racist (though not towards his boss).
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: Big Smoke has this reaction when your car is attacked by a car full of Ballas gang members, chowing down on the food everyone just ordered instead of shooting like the others. Of course, considering he defected to the Ballas before the game started, this turns out to be more foreshadowing about his betrayal.
  • Snow Means Death: This is present when C.J. returns to Liberty City later in the game, he shows some Italian mobsters how to have fun in the snow, Grove Street style.
  • Soccer-Hating Americans: The host of "The Tight End Zone" calls out to fans of various sports before lashing out at soccer fans.
    Your game is terrible and we don't win at it.
  • Social Climber: Progression in Wide-Open Sandbox games often features examples of this, where the Player Character starts poor but eventually becomes super-wealthy, his mission-givers also show the same progression. The most extreme example is the hero Carl Johnson, who grows up in a Los Angeles slum with poor weapons and neighbourhood gun-fights, graduates to working with the Triads, moonlights with a corrupt American agent and then becomes a wealthy entrepreneur in the casino business while tussling with the Italian Mob for turf.
  • Society Is to Blame: Done satirically. When the player beats or kills someone or steals a car, CJ will sometimes spout lines like "Don't blame me, blame society!"
  • Soft Water: You can get into a jet, go over a body of water at full screaming-engine speed and drop without a parachute and all you'll get will be wet clothes. Of course, previous games in the series lacked a swimming mechanic, and so treated any body of water greater than waist-deep as a pool of instant death.
  • Some Dexterity Required: A staple of the GTA series, some missions are made difficult NOT by actually being hard but by forcing the player to use cars with inferior to awful handling. Case in point: Race across San Fierro would be MUCH easier if the car didn't fishtail every time you tried to turn. Same goes for the 8-track stadium car racing.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: The game tries to keep this in effect. The weapons you can't get in the starting city are the M4 (better assault rifle) and some of the heavy weapons, which can show up in later towns. The gun shops unlock according to a pattern as well ... although there's nothing stopping you from sidequesting your way to an arsenal.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Can happen at anytime when you listen to the radio while driving, but there is also at least one deliberate example: When you have to go to Liberty City to execute a hit in a restaurant (i.e. it turns into an action packed gunfight), quiet classical music is playing in said restaurant.
    • Radio X contains 'Movin' On Up', a heartwarming and inspirational song that simply doesn't mesh with the drive-bys and manslaughter.
    • Radio Los Santos typically plays type 1 and 2 Gangsta Rap that suits the game perfectly. But then we have 'The Ghetto' and 'Hood Took Me Under', both of which are certainly not glorified takes on gangster culture.
    • In the original sixth-generation console releases, if CJ took his girlfriend on a bad date, "Killing In The Name" by Rage Against the Machine would accompany the resulting cutscene. In all subsequent re-releases, however, said song is removed from the game due to the license for it expiring, so the "good date" music plays in its place during bad dates. The result? Happy music playing over CJ's girlfriend berating and throwing food at him, clearly not enjoying their time together.
  • Speed Run: The game was dominated in six hours nine minutes. Though that wasn't in a single sitting.
    • Years later, this records has been shattered, with the WR for San Andreas being 5:24:17 by UltimateOmega07 done in a single sitting.
    • As of 2019, the Any% record has fallen all the way to fifteen minutes due to a glitch called Arbitrary Jump in Script that allows the player to skip almost the entire game. The record without this glitch is just under four hours.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": OG Loc's name is not pronounced "Ogg Lock".
  • Spicy Latina: Catalina definitely counts as this, and so does Michelle.
  • Spiteful A.I.: The police cars don't really do much except try to crash into you as hard as possible. They don't mind flipping over in crazy ways that no normal human could survive, or brutally totaling their car every now and then. They just want to TAKE YOU DOWN.
    • Even if you're driving a tank and their cars instantly explode when they hit, the Lemming Cops will still constantly ram you just to slowly drain your Hit Points.
    • Another way the police AI hates you is seen when other criminals go after you. In one of the early missions, you can be riding a bicycle while three men in a car are gunning you down. Even if a policeman is standing in the line of fire, he won't respond. But god help you if your bicycle hits the policeman. Some older games take this Up to Eleven: The police may be in a neutral or hostile (to you) state, and any criminal action against the police by AI enemies will lead to the police blaming YOU for it.
  • The Spook: Mike Toreno. Even his name is suspect, since he was working undercover when C.J. was introduced to him.
  • Spy Speak: In a mission cutscene, you overhear government agent Mike Toreno's radio conversation:
    Mike Toreno: Roger that, Big Monkey, I got a 13-6 fat vulture. Need to acquire a drowning baby. Over. [gets interrupted by Carl's arrival] In 15 by the moon. Break your heart. Over and out.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Some of the storyline missions and the "Burglar" side mission follow this formula. They are generally not too difficult, and actually quite engaging, as they take cues from another infamous game by Rockstar.
  • Stealth Pun: Big Smoke's icon on the radar is "BS"; which while those are his initials, they're also short for "bullshit". It foreshadows that his missions are done for the benefit of C.R.A.S.H., not the Grove Street Families, despite him claiming otherwise.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Played with in a mission. C.J. and Catalina chase after redneck bank-robbers on a quad; C.J.'s driving, Catalina's shooting while sitting behind him. C.J. keeps on berating her shooting right next to his ears, even saying at one point that he thinks he's gone deaf. However, he suffers no hearing loss whatsoever, and all other instances of people being gunners in/on the same vehicle as him go without any mention from him. (The difference between Catalina and all other instances is that Catalina is a lot more trigger-happy than the others are.)
  • Sticky Bomb: There are remote-detonated satchel charges that when thrown stick to any wall, vehicle, or innocent bystander.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Big Smoke and Ryder still wear their Grove Street Family greens long after betraying the gang to work with the purple-clad Ballas and yellow-clad Vagos.
  • The Stinger: Immediately after the credits have rolled and you are dumped back into the gameplay after completing the final plot mission in the game, Catalina will call Carl to yell at him one final time.
  • The Stoner: The Truth and Ryder. A few of the recurring characters from Vice City, as well.
  • Stoners Are Funny: The Truth.
  • Storming the Castle: The cops do this to your motel, then you do this on Smoke's crack house.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: The "OG Loc" mission, where you can shoot at Freddy while chasing him by motorcycle, but you can't actually kill him until after the chase. Unfortunately, he can damage you while you're chasing him.
  • Story Overwrite: In the mission "Dam and Blast", you have to sneak into the Sherman Dam and rig the power generators with explosives. Even if you get in, plant all the explosives, and get out without being spotted by the guards, the following cutscene will still show C.J. running away from the police.
  • Strange Secret Entrance: The game lampshades this in a way, by having a sign that reads "There are no Easter eggs here, go away" on top of a massive bridge, and in itself features a presumably unintentional version of this with the legendary "hidden interiors".
  • Stupid Crooks: Very early, C.J.'s friend Ryder tries to rob a Pizza Stack where he is a regular customer. He wears a Paper-Thin Disguise that consists of taking his hat off and putting on a nearly-transparent mask. The results are as expected.
    Clerk: Ryder? Not this again!
    Ryder: It ain't me, foo'!
    Clerk: No one else is that small. I feel sorry for your dad!
  • Stupid Surrender: This game is quite possibly the Crowning Moment of Stupid for this trope, more so because Rockstar Games had, even when the game was first released, developed a reputation for hanging lampshades and Painting the Medium. C.J. not only surrenders without a fight the moment crooked cops Tenpenny and Pulaski point guns at him, but even spends several hours digging his own grave with Pulaski standing over him after Tenpenny has left to do more important things than keep a gun trained on a guy wearing 200% armor, 200% hit points, and strapped with weapons ranging from katanas to rocket launchers to rocket jetpacks. Only when Pulaski is about to execute the compliant C.J. does he drop his gun for no apparent reason at all, which is apparently the trigger CJ needs to start trying to fight back... but only after he lets Pulaski climb into his (explosion and bullet proof but strangely not impact proof) cop car parked several meters away. Because the goal of the mission is to kill Pulaski, and it just has to be done only after engaging in a car chase along the entire length and breadth of the game map.
  • Stylistic Suck: The one OG Loc song we hear, "It's Loc Baby", contains all the things common in bad Gangsta Rap songs rolled into one: A simplistic and repetitive beat, random shout outs, extremely short verses and terrible wordplay. Doesn't stop it from being incredibly catchy.
  • Suicide as Comedy: We hear this on the radio:
    James: Hello, you're on "The Wild Traveler". Where are you?
    Caller: I'm on a cliff.
    James: How romantic!
    Caller: I want to jump!
    James: Yes, I know what you mean. Jump into the unknown. How can it be a sin if it feels good? Anyway, why are you calling?
    Caller: Why am I here?
    James: I don't know. Why are you there? Where are you? Kenya?
    Caller: No, I'm in Verdant Bluffs.
    James: Loathsome place. I'd jump if I were you.
    Caller: I want to go to Hell.
    James: Me too! Buy a refrigerator magnet when you get there!
  • Suicide Dare: Madd Dogg is on top of a building thinking about jumping after losing all his money and his rhyme book. A couple of bystanders encourage him to jump.
  • Super Drowning Skills: The first game in the series to avert this... unless your name isn't Carl Johnson and you're not a mission critical NPC, a GSF member following CJ, or a swimsuit-clad bystander. Then you die the second you hit even a shallow pond.
  • Surprisingly Easy Mini-Quest: There are a couple instances where you lose all your weapons, no matter if you never get wasted or arrested (or never save when that happens). The next few missions after each on have the good grace to drop in difficulty until you get your stock up, although it's not a cakewalk.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In one of the very first missions, Ryder puts his cap backwards and goes to rob the local Pizza Stack. But when the cashier recognizes him due to his height and voice (and, obviously, his Paper-Thin Disguise):
    Ryder: Give up the money! This' a raid!
    Cashier: Ryder! Not this again!
    Ryder: It ain't me, foo'!
    Cashier: I don't know anyone so small! I feel sorry for your dad!
  • Sword Fight: Played, to a point. One mission gives you the choice of going sword to sword against a crimelord. Your other options involve whatever other guns you picked up on the way to him.
  • Take a Third Option: After completing "Key To Her Heart", you are presented with two options in order to get Millie Perkins' keycard for the heist of Caligula's Palace: Date her like you would with any of the other girlfriends, or kill her and get to the heist sooner. If you're feeling impatient but not particularly bloodthirsty, you could instead have CJ wear the gimp suit and visit Millie. Doing this will grant a 10% relationship boost and save you some time.
  • Take Over the City: San Andreas upped the ante and gave you three cities to conquer.
  • Take That!:
    • Quite a few at Driv3r and True Crime: Streets of LA, most notably a billboard in Los Santos with "True Grime: Street Cleaners". Also, at the War Memorial in San Fierro, at the top and bottom are tombstones that read "R.I.P Opposition 1997-2004". Also Hilarious in Hindsight, due to Saints Row coming into existence two years later.
    • Get a Bullet off of the Import/Export ship and read it's license plate. "EA SUCKS" and "FUCK YOU" can be read on them occasionally.
  • Take That, Audience!: Many characters insult CJ's driving and how dangerous and insane he is behind the wheel. Considering how most players handle their cars in GTA games, it's as much a commentary on the player's driving as it is CJ's.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: C.J. comes across Madd Dogg, who's threatening to jump. He makes a token effort to get him down, but in the end steals a straw truck so he lands semi-safely.
  • Tank Goodness: A series staple, the Rhino, returns with upgraded speed and handling as well as a new look based on the M1 Abrams. There's also a bulletproof SWAT tank in the final mission, though the only way to get it in normal gameplay is by exploiting the game mechanics to save it after failing the mission.
  • Taught by Experience: You pick up skills by performing them — driving, shooting things with weapons, etc. — and can earn large bonuses through schools.
  • Technical Pacifist: The Police Helicopter Pilot could be considered one of these:
    Gunner: Why do I always do the shooting?
    Pilot: Because I'm a pacifist! KILL HIM!
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: The mission "Vertical Bird". If you don't blow up the other two Hydras before stealing the third, three of them will chase you. If you do blow up those two, a single one will chase you anyway. And if you are fast enough to get on the deck and destroy the Hydra that's taking flight at that moment (wich one would assume is the one that chases you later), at least one Hydra will appear out of nowhere and chase you anyway.
  • Thememobile: The Truth's "Mothership", a repainted camper van, is a great example. Several other major characters have their own vehicles, but for the most part they're only distinguished by a unique license plate.
    • Players can also create their own Theme Mobiles thanks to the game's vehicle modification capabilities.
  • Theme Tune Rap: CJ's voice actor is Young Maylay, an up-and-coming rapper. His debut album, "San Andreas: The Mix Tapes", features a song that has him rapping about the game in character as C.J.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith's view on the world: "There's two kinds of people in this world: Those who like me... and those who can go to hell!"
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: As the game progresses the player gains access to very powerful weaponry and vehicles, which can make a number of missions a cakewalk. The epitome of this is the Rhino, a near-indestructable tank, which can be used on everything from the game's Vigilante side-mission to running over hapless enemy gang members during the gang warfare stage of the game. It's also possible (though usually more trouble than it's worth) to do several missions using an assault helicopter if you place it where it needs to be in advance.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Subverted in one mission, which has you go to a drive-thru restaurant, only to be attacked by Ballas after you've got your food. This doesn't stop Big Smoke from enjoying his food instead of shooting at them since he's also working with them.
    • Played straight in another; a patrolling police officer comments to his colleague on wasting their donuts, discarding them on the road as they are radioed in to pursue C.J. and the crew.
  • Think Unsexy Thoughts: Maccer is a chronic masturbator. To get him to stop, his manager tells him to "Think of Thatcher". Unfortunately, that just turns him on more.
  • 30-Second Blackout: There's an optional sidequest composed of several sub-missions preparing for a big casino heist, Ocean's Eleven style. One of these missions involves planting remote controlled sticky bombs on the generators of the dam that powers the game's Las Vegas analogue, so they can be detonated and blackout the whole city during the heist. When it happens, the power stays off for a few minutes requiring the player to venture back upstairs and blow the cassino's back-up generators. Despite this, the city has power about a minute later.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "I ain't nobody's "ass technician", bitch!" - OG Loc
    • CJ himself says things like "Leave me the hell alone, bitch!" when returning insults to NPCs.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: C.J. invokes this trope on Sweet in the final mission. C.J. insists he takes on the Big Bad alone in order to make up for running out on his gang when they needed him most.
  • Toasted Buns: Averted with the Black Project Jetpack, which has outboard shoulder-level thrusters, by a simple use of actual design of Bell Rocket Belt that has exhaust pipes moved away and to the side of pilot's body. It is also a very practical vehicle to use; it is useful in collecting the hidden Horseshoes in Las Venturas and plays a central part in one of the game's most memorable missions.
  • Tone Shift: For the first quarter of the game, C.J.'s dealings in Los Santos are relatively realistic and grounded. There are some wacky moments here and there but nothing too out of the ordinary. Once C.J. is forced to leave Los Santos, the game goes up a couple levels in ridiculousness and peaks with the missions for Toreno and the Truth. The third quarter, where C.J. goes back to Los Santos to see Sweet's release from prison, is when the game goes back to the tone it had in the first quarter.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The combine harvesters. These vehicles had the unique and delightfully sadistic feature of turning crops of pedestrians into neatly bundled up bales of body parts. Unfortunately, the harvesters are rare, encountered only at certain times in rural areas. In addition, almost all of them are locked and can only be accessed by killing the driver of one already in use. Even after obtaining one, the size of the vehicle makes it difficult to move in populated areas and impossible to fit into a garage for safe keeping. Its slow speed and bad handling make the player easy for law enforcers (who inevitably start to show up after a few good mauls) to catch. Finally, if the player decides to exit the vehicle for any reason, the door locks behind them.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: C.J., the protagonist, isn't exactly a paragon of morality, but he tends towards Pragmatic Villainy. His friends are all dumb thugs to a greater or a lesser extent. A typical mission will begin with them explaining their latest scheme, him pointing out how risky it is, them calling him a buster (mainly Ryder, for whom this is almost a Catchphrase), and him agreeing to go along with what turns out to be an absolute clusterfuck with at least seven people shooting at him at once. Of course, if he didn't go along, we wouldn't have a plot...
  • Train Escape: The player can do delivery missions using trains. Initiating the delivery mission while wanted will cause the player to lose their wanted level.
  • Trash Talk: C.J. does this all the time in combat. "Oh, look, a gun." *Blam*
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The San Fierro missions deal with this dynamic.
  • True Companions: The group C.J. builds during the course of the game is large, diverse and bound together like family.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Released in 2004, set in 1992. Since San Andreas is an expy of early-'90s California, the ending features the GTA universe's counterpart to the 1992 LA riots.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: A pursuit mission in go-karts, preceded by hovercrafts, no less.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The game featured a couple of stealth segments in the main story, and more in the form of sidequests.
    • Many of the missions were horribly designed, nearly impossible to control flight simulators. What truly makes this awful is that while flying itself was very straightforward and easy, the mandatory missions forced the player to use the poorest plane available. Imagine if the player had to do the street racing segments with a street sweeper, the slowest motor vehicle in the game.
    • RC Plane, Quarry Missions, Cesar's Races, Pilot School, rhythm sequences...
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: One of your missions as Carl is to date a chick in order to steal her key card to get access to a casino. In a game with some missions that won't even let you destroy your highly non-essential car without failing the mission, this mission has two options: Go on a couple of dates with her. Or just kill her. You won't fail anything, and the key card will be right there in her house.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Subverted in The "Da Nang Thang", where it initially looks like it's going this route, only for your helicopter to be shot down almost immediately, forcing you to complete things on foot.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Villain Toreno seemingly explodes in a helicopter. Several missions later, he's having C.J. ride around in a monster truck. No explanation is given for living—or for the truck.
    • Its implied through his dialogue he just fooled C.J. into thinking he got on the helicopter - he knew C.J. was trying to kill him, and needed him to think he had in order to get his help.
  • Unflinching Walk: This is without a doubt the most fun way to use the remote plastic explosive, and with the Free Rotating Camera you can make sure you've got the best possible viewpoint.
  • The Unfought: Officer Tenpenny is the meanest, most manipulative son of a bitch in the game, but you never get to actually fight him. After a city-wide car chase, he ends up losing control of his truck and driving right off a bridge through a concrete barrier, just in front of C.J.'s home. C.J. is convinced by Sweet not to drive a bullet into the man's head "just to make sure", and lets Tenpenny die of his own internal injuries.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Mike Toreno is very ungrateful when CJ and the other members of Mike's Loco Syndicate rescue him from the Da Nang Boys in Mike's self-titled mission. Upon being rescued, instead of thanking his rescuers, the first thing Mike does is point a gun at C.J. and say "Who the fuck is this?!".
  • Unified Naming System: Grove Street Families vs. Kilo Street Ballas vs. Varrio Los Aztecas vs. Los Santos Vagos.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: There's a well-known glitch occurring in the later mission "Madd Dogg". You're supposed to line up a truck full of hay under down-and-out rapper Madd Dogg before he jumps to his death, but for still-unconfirmed reasons he can commit suicide as soon as the mission cutscene ends. Fans speculate that this is caused by too many cheats being saved, though this has been mostly discredited. Another theory is that the pedestrian riot cheat has been activated, which makes Madd Dogg walk off the roof to attack the nearest person. There is no way to complete the story mode on the same save file if this happens.
  • Universal Ammunition: Pistols don't share ammunition (one fires a bigger bullet than the others, and another presumably uses lower-velocity ammo to complement its suppressor). The SMGs and shotguns can take ammo from other weapons in their class, which are justified by all using the same rounds (and being fed with loose ones in the case of the shotguns).
    • However, the AK-47 and M4 both share ammo.
  • Universal Driver's License: The game introduces airplanes as available vehicles; the Player Character must complete a training course before he can legally fly those, but is still perfectly capable of flying them before that if he sneaks into an airport and hijacks one.
    • Not only can C.J. pilot airplanes perfectly the first time he clambers into the cockpit, he also learns how to fly a Harrier jet just as fast (all of his previous experience likely being little more than a P-51, an Apache, and a Learjet) and learn how to properly operate all of the weapons systems well enough to defeat several experienced pilots in a dogfight and destroy boats sitting in a lake with heat-seaking missiles.
    • And don't forget the experimental jetpack that you steal in one mission, and thereafter always have, if you can bother to go pick it up. Not only does he fly it without trouble, but he can fire any singlehanded gun from it as well as from any vehicle.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The Mood Lighting of the city of San Fierro is predominantly blue.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • After the game was pulled from stores after the Hot Coffee incident and the Media Watchdogs had a field day with it, Rockstar tried to justify a re-release of the game (while making the "offensive" bit truly inaccessible to keep the game rated M) by including a "behind the scenes" movie and a 30 minute cutscene showing events that occurred before the beginning of the game. Some say that some glitches and bugs were also fixed. PC modders used downgraders to avoid the updated PC version as it made modding, well, harder due to hard-coded checks to prevent any modifications, but the modding community later developed a tool to revert later re-releases to their original v1.0 release to remove these anti-modding checks.
    • A mobile port of the game was released in 2013 featuring a revamped menu system, auto-saves and mid-mission checkpoints, support for HD resolutions and many graphical settings for players to optimize the game for their device, and updated character and vehicle models. Some of the later console and Windows Store re-releases used the mobile version as a base for an HD remastered version.
  • Upper-Class Twit: The Rich Guy.
  • Uranus Is Showing: You can play a Space Invaders like shooter game on the VG console of Sweet's house. The game's name? They Crawled From Uranus!
  • Useless Useful Stealth: This even shows up. There are two or three stealth-based missions, in which you can evade detection entirely by hiding in shadows. The game tries to tell you after the first one that you can also use stealth to hide from police, but anyone who's played a video game before that point knows better. In fact, "stealth" kills with a knife outside of missions seem to attract more attention than waving a sword around or even firing a silenced gun at someone.
    • There's also robbing houses, which the player is also introduced to through one of the aformentioned stealth-based missions. It's supposed to be an easy way for the player to make cash without actually playing the storyline, but in 90% of the houses you can try to infiltrate, its occupants are in the front room, ready to discover you as soon as you enter.
  • Van in Black: Get a 5-star wanted level and the FBI will come after you in black tinted SUV's. Probably the best time to retreat to a safehouse before the army shows up.
  • Vanity License Plate: The game upped the ante by including a far larger number of vanity plates on specifically parked or mission-specific cars.
  • Verbal Tic: T-Bone ends each and every sentence with "Ese", to sound more "cholo". Cesar Vialpando also does this, though less often, and also ends his phrases with "holmes" and "vato". (A number of pedestrians can be heard using these phrases in their conversations, too).
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Big Smoke's Crack Palace, an abandoned set of apartments that the Ballas have taken over to install their drug factory.
  • Vice City: Well, Vice State.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: The nameless Grove Street mooks you pick up to assist in missions will chatter with C.J. on the way to the goal, giving him shit like all his named friends. Makes it hard to watch them mowed down like wheat. Of course it doesn't help they tend to fire wildly at every cop that comes by.
    • Deliberately played with, when it comes to Carl's girlfriends. You would expect this game feature to evoke this trope but once Carl starts dating his first girlfriend, Denise Robinson, things turn out quite differently: she will hurl insults at Carl whenever he bumps into her and berate him if does as much as nudge any object with his car. During the "driving dates", on the other hand, if you drive too carefullynote , you will end up "boring her legs shut" and if you neglect her for too long, she will threaten Carl with dating one of his friends instead. And let's not even mention her endless lust for gratuitous drive-by shootings...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: A staple and much of the point of the whole GTA series, but it especially comes into play here as an odd case of Gameplay and Story Segregation. CJ is, for the most part, presented within the story as a ruthless but well-meaning Anti-Hero rather than a Villain Protagonist, but the player's still free to go on genocidal rampages in between each mission.
    • There's a few cruelty moments that are a part of the main missions. One mission has you kidnap a music manager and his girlfriend and drive off the docks while you jump out of the car, hearing him whine before that he can't swim. Another one has you get revenge for your sister who was harassed by some construction workers by pushing the foreman around with a bulldozer while he is inside a portable toilet, hearing him gag and yell about the smell and being splashed with his own feces. You kill him by pushing his stall in a ditch and filling it with cement, burying him alive!
    • In San Andreas, they added the ability to swim to the player, the girlfriends and some other Non Player Characters. Note that cops are not on the list.
    • San Andreas has just dozens of examples; heck the cops and pedestrians will sometimes just kill the hell out of each other with no player involvement.
    • San Andreas gives the player the option to do burglaries as a side mission. While the only mandatory burglary enforces stealth, the typical sidequest burglary goes like this: Enter house, kill the occupants in their sleep and then just sweep the apartment clean. Repeat a few times each night.
    • Sometimes, hitting a pedestrian in the car would not be enough to kill em. You could just park over them instead and watch the blood flow from underneath your car...
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Shooting down and destroying the harmless News Chopper that spawns from a 4 star wanted level onward usually replaces them with a second Police Maverick.
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Definitely the case: the tendency for enemies to run directly at you when you light them on fire (leaving you completely helpless and vulnerable), the ridiculously short range meaning you could have killed the enemies with anything else in the game by that point, and that, since its technically classed as a BFG, you can't run and gun with it makes it all but useless.
  • Video Game Flight: Oddly, San Andreas has flight as a later-game ability, with the requirement being 'learn how'. Not many limitations, aside from two logical ones: avoid buildings, and avoid no-fly zones. Of course, not many targets when you get too high.
    • It's not naturally a late game ability, you can climb over the airport fence and steal a plane at any time. It's just that if you don't have a pilot's license, military jets will come and shoot you down.
    • Even later in the game, you get a jetpack (finally!)
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Averted in the final mission. This is what Tenpenny intended to do — bail out of Los Santos, or perhaps out of San Andreas for good, even as the city burns with riots over news that he has been cleared of charges of corruption (thanks to blackmailing C.J. into concealing damaging evidence). Not if C.J. and Sweet had something to say about that.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Big Smoke appears as a respected public figure on the news in latter parts of the game, encouraging (of all things) to keep the streets drug free while building orphanages. Lazlow, of all people, remarks on this during a radio interview with OG Loc.
    Lazlow: Big Smoke is doing a lot for the community. Or to it. Sounds like a great guy.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Both Tenpenny and Pulaski undergo one late in the game, because the FBI has taken an interest in their involvement with the criminal underworld. Tenpenny is the one most visibly effected by it, as he goes from being smug, superior and cocky to edgy, paranoid and prone to outbursts. And when it's revealed that fellow officer Hernandez has been ratting them out... well, Tenpenny's reaction isn't pretty.
  • Violation of Common Sense: There's one point where you jump out of a moving plane, onto another moving plane, open the door and start shooting everyone in sight. Impossibility notwithstanding, who the hell would ever think of trying to do this just for a second?
    • C.J. himself lampshades some of these missions himself occasionally, especially during the Toreno missions, in which he would have just walked away and never looked back if it wasn't for the fact that Toreno happens to be the key to getting Sweet out of jail.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: For the first time in the series, you are given a highly customizable character in the form of C.J. — you can make him skinny, buff or fat, change his hairstyle and facial hair, and buy him a wide variety of clothes.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: CJ's relationship to Ryder, before the latter's betrayal.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: The city of Las Venturas, a dead ringer for Vegas, as the third big city in the state along with Los Santos and San Fierro.
  • Warp Whistle: The trains and airports.
  • Warrior Poet: OG Loc refers to himself as one during a radio interview and it apparently is the image he tries to create. It doesn't quite work out that well.
  • The War Sequence: At the end of the Los Santos mission chain when C.J. arrives late to a gang fight after discovering a horrible secret and has to kill waves of Ballas (some of them driving cars) while protecting his brother, with only the help of a few surviving gang members and some cars parked in a circle for cover.
  • Waxing Lyrical: In the definitive edition, one of the achievements is called "Today was a Good Day"note , which is taken directly from Ice Cube's lryics in "It was a Good Day".
  • Watch the Paint Job: After reuniting with Big Smoke, C.J. finds that Smoke has gotten himself a pretty nice car, and they drive to Beverly's funeral in it. As they're leaving the cemetery, some Ballas show up and pull a drive-by. Take a wild guess what happens to Smoke's new car. "AW MUTHAFUCKA, MY CAR!"
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tenpenny claims that his approach to the job is about "percentages" and that his philosophy calls for overlooking some crime to achieve a greater good. It appears that he believes what he says, but in reality he's rotten to the core.
  • Wet Blanket Wife: Kendl Johnson, sister of protagonist C.J. and lover of C.J.'s ally, Caesar Vialpando, constantly acts as an exasperated voice of reason between the two macho gangbangers. She usually has some sort of gripe against their lifestyle, but she's often right, such as when one of them plans to plans to run off and do something stupid.
  • We Used to Be Friends: C.J. and Sweet with Big Smoke and Ryder.
  • Wham Episode: "The Green Sabre". Not only are your best friends Ryder and Smoke revealed as working with the enemies (C.R.A.S.H. and the Ballas), but your brother Sweet is shot and arrested, Grove Street goes to shit, you lose all the territory you'd captured up to this point, and you're taken out in the middle of nowhere to do an errand for Tenpenny and Pulaski. Just... holy shit.
  • What a Piece of Junk:
    • Sweet's Greenwood. At first glance, it appears to be an unremarkable, boxy, and dated sedan (even by 1992 standards), but turns out to be dependable enough that it's the definitive car driven during specific drive-by shootings and car chases in missions. Even after the car survives a Helicopter Blender, ends up in a spectacular crash with a tanker trailer, and Sweet's stint in prison, Sweet remained insistent reacquiring the same car, having the player driving it in late in the storyline and the final mission.
      Carl: "Can't believe you bought that same bucket ass car, man!"
      Sweet: "Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
    • A better in-game example (as the Greenwood is average at best in all areas) is the Clover. It looks like your typical redneck ride, corroded paint and parts of different colors included. However, it has a very nice acceleration rate, brakes nicely and turns like a dream. It's not on par with the sportscars you can find in richer areas, but it's a dependable ride that's very common everywhere.
    • If C.J. drives any trashy car around San Andreas, NPCs will often say things like "What a piece of shit!".
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life:
    • C.J. says a variation of this after killing his friend-turned-crack-pusher Big Smoke.
    • He also says something similar after killing Ryder before Cesar snaps him out of it by mentioning "Little asshole tried to bang your sister, you know that?"
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The game follows this trope in order to Follow the Plotted Line. C.J. is told by some corrupt cops that if he leaves town, they'll pin the murder of another cop on him. Thing is, during the game you can murder cops and civilians by the dozens with your comeuppance being... respawning at the police station or hospital less 10% of your money.
    • Tenpenny and later Toreno stonewall any attempts to put C.J. away for good. And besides, it's knocking out a few fellow officers off the ladder.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
    • You can have fellow gang members ride around in your car. Driving recklessly (excessive speed, driving off a cliff, etc) will result in them calling you out on it. The best is "Cars can't fly, you bitch!"
    • The "dates" respond to crazy conduct, as well. Police officer Barbara is prone to scream "This is not responsible driving!" if you speed (Katie appears turned on by it, however, even though your relationship status meter actually drops). Even worse, if you use the attack button while trying to give flowers you'll get a sharp message about abusing your girlfriend and the relationship status will go down.
    • When C.J. crashes into cars, he tends to shout insults at them. e.g. "did you buy your license!?" or, "Oh, you asshole, my shit!" While he is technically insulting the driver of the other car, some of the lines could be interpreted as insults to the player's own driving abilities.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The Gaydar Station. Like the other two night clubs you can visit, you can play on the arcade games there or go on the dancefloor for a rhythm-based minigame. Sadly, you still dance with girls there (which isn't a huge stretch, but still).
  • Where It All Began: The last few missions take place in Los Santos again. The final cut scene takes right in Grove Street, where C.J. started his adventure after coming back home.
  • While Rome Burns: During the last mission, while riots are breaking all across Los Santos and C.J. is storming Big Smoke's crack palace killing everyone who gets in his way, Smoke himself is merely sitting in his pad playing video games.
  • Whip It Good: We don't actually see Catalina using the whip on C.J. in the intro to the "Gone Courting" mission, but oh man, do we ever hear it.
  • White Gangbangers: Subverted in this game, where the Grove Street Families and the Ballas are 100% black people; the Vagos are a Hispanic gang; and then there's the Triad running Las Venturas. You rarely, if ever, find a white gangster until the Mafia comes into play later on.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The first third is basically Juice mashed together with Boyz n the Hood. The last two thirds of the game are basically the plot of The Countof Monte Cristo with a brief interlude to reenact Ocean's Eleven.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Cesar is afraid of heights, as seen in a mission where he and C.J. have to steal a car out of a cargo ship by lifting it out with a crane. C.J. gets up in the crane while Cesar stays on the ground. Surprisingly, he's fine with the idea of jumping from a moving car to jack a moving truck.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • In the mission "High Noon", Officer Pulaski reveals that he's wanted to just shoot C.J. from the beginning. The only thing stopping him was Officer Tenpenny, who kept coming up with reasons to keep C.J. alive.
    • C.J. could just shoot every villain near the beginning.
    • Same with every villain towards C.J. as well, an example being when you first meet Big Smoke, he could have just easily bashed C.J.'s head in, seeing his true nature and all that. Big Smoke's approach may be justified, though, in that he may have preferred to convince C.J. to come to his side a la Emperor Palpatine to Luke Skywalker, especially when Sweet early was the guy heading the Families and C.J. at that point was his lancer.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: A couple of missions early in the game deal with this. In one, you have to stop an arms dealer from the post-Soviet black market who's been supplying the Ballas gang.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Once all areas are unlocked, the player has access to a huge, open-ended, "living" region to explore, with widely varying geography, cities, and waterways. Even in the early stages of the game, when only Los Santos and countryside to the north is available, this still provides the player with more exploration space than most previous GTA games combined (and a cheat code, coupled with C.J.'s newfound ability to swim, makes it possible to explore the complete state from the start). Unlike the past games (and even the later GTA IV), the addition of rural areas and diverse city design give the game a sense of distance not found in the others; when C.J. is standing in the middle of the desert area, Los Santos seems a long way away.
  • With Catlike Tread:
    • Carl and Ryder are ready to break into a war veteran's house and steal as much as possible; Carl suggests sneaking in rather than taking the place by storm. Ryder agrees that it's a smart idea, but then follows this up by howling "COME OUT YOU OLD BASTARD!" at the house.
    • In the mission "Photo Opportunity", C.J. and Cesar are taking pictures of a drug trade from a rooftop across the street. While they do this, the two are constantly shouting at the top of their lungs at each other. This is a remnant of the beta, where the two would have been taking pictures from a helicopter rather than from a rooftop.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: The game tied C.J.'s life meter to his hunger. If you go without eating for a long time, C.J.'s fat and muscle stats begin to deplete, and his health meter eventually starts draining. Luckily, you'd have to go a very long time without food before the game starts to remind you that you need to eat and you'd practically have to be starving C.J. on purpose if he were to die from hunger. Since food is the only way to recover energy while not on a mission, eating too much (except salads) would make C.J. gain weight, while eating too much in one sitting results in his meal coming back to haunt him. And don't forget the fact that, since it is tied with your life bar, going for a burger heals the bullet holes in your body.
  • Worst Aid: The medical personnel some how can magical revive people who died from gunfire, explosions, and fire just with CPR, and still run in to the enter the area the insane gun man (i.e., you) is still shooting up. That pales in comparison to all the people they run over in their pursuit of saving lives.
  • Yandere: Catalina, particularly once she starts falling for you. As if she weren't already crazy enough.
  • Year Zero: Invoked, but not used. After grabbing the Green Goo from an armored train for The Truth, he claims "they will call this Year Zero". Sadly, nothing comes of it.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tenpenny has Carl retrieve a dossier during his time in Las Venturas. Right afterwards, he has Carl dig his own grave, intending to have Pulaski kill him.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You can replenish your life bar by eating. However, you can't buy food until you've completed the "Ryder" mission. Fortunately, this is the second mission.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: Played with. C.J. has been working with Wu Zi Mu (or "Woozie"), a Triad leader who tries to hide the fact that he's blind, but fails spectacularly. When C.J. responds to Woozie's big reveal by saying "No shit!", he then asks if Woozie knows he's black. The Triad's response? "I'm blind, Carl, not stupid."
  • Your Head A-Splode: Heads would always neatly pop when shot with a sniper rifle. Heads will also explode when shot with a shotgun or assault rifle.
  • Your Other Left: When the player has to shoot incoming cops during a car chase;
    Ryder: C.J., to the left!
    C.J.: Your left, or my left?
    Ryder: Hell, I don't know, just shoot everybody, motherfucker.

Ah shit, here we go again. Worst place in This Very Wiki, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Troper Country. I ain't represented The Other Wiki in five years, but the Tropers won't give a shit.


Video Example(s):


The Green Sabre

During the Green Sabre mission in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, a cutscene shows off three wham shots in succession. These are the fact that Ryder and Big Smoke are working with the Ballas, that they have the Green Sabre (the car that was seen in the killing of CJ's mom), and that C.R.A.S.H, a group of corrupt cops, are also working with them.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhamShot

Media sources: