The release of GTA V has come and gone, and now people are exploring Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto Online. A major draw of the series has been some memorable characters. Now, we recount a list of our favorite characters from the GTA series.
Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are fictional representations of three different types of real world people, but there are other characters in the series that are influenced by the outside world too. Check out this list of some of the most famous main characters in Grand Theft Auto, as well as some of the most charismatic secondary characters.
Toni Cipriani (GTA 3 and GTA: Liberty City Stories)
Even though Toni Cipriani isn’t the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto 3, his pure charisma wins out over Claude, who’s the main character.
Toni is the prototype of mafia life, the capo of the Leone family and strongly attached to his “Mamma,” who he lives with. Surely it’s no coincidence that he has the same name as the capo in the TV series The Sopranos, someone else who had a love/hate relationship with his mother. I suspect that Rockstar was inspired by the popular HBO drama when they created their antihero. To top it all off, Cipriani is voiced by the “boy Tarantino”, Michael Madsen – is he or is he not Cipriani’s cool friend?
Catalina (GTA 3 and GTA: San Andreas)
GTA has always been known as a series full of tough guys, and there aren’t many women who feature in it doing more than showing off their bodies or taking you to bed. Although Catalina from GTA 3 does both of these things, it’s fair to say she packs a bigger punch than than the average women in Grand Theft Auto, which is why this Latina bombshell deserves a place on this list.
We first met Catalina in Grand Theft Auto 3, and despite originally appearing only as an accessory, we end up discovering that she’s actually the head of a Columbian Cartel. If we go further back into her past, we see her in San Andreas, where in addition to taking on missions, she proclaims herself as your girlfriend. It’s a shame you can’t play as her in the legendary Hot Coffee mod.
Tommy Vercetti (GTA: Vice City)
When I was doing research for this article, I asked friends and colleagues who their favorite actor was in the GTA series. The name that kept cropping up was Tommy Vercetti, and it’s not surprising; there are plenty of reasons for gamers to fall in love with the Italian-American. Tommy is the toughest protagonist in the series – he’s not nicknamed “the Harwood butcher” for nothing – and he’s voiced by none other than Ray Liotta.
The fact that the voice of the protagonist was in ‘Goodfellas’ is no coincidence, even though the biggest influence on Vice City is ‘Miami Vice’. Tommy is most definitely a Scorsesian character. Raised in a humble environment, the youngest member of the Vercetti family witnessed the death of his father at the hands of a mafia clan, but instead of running away from this seedy world, he joined the mafia himself, slowly becoming a very influential character within this criminal organization.
Lance Vance (GTA: Vice City and GTA: Vice City Stories)
As I mentioned, the greatest influence on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the legendary 80s detective series ‘Miami Vice’. Characters like Lance Vance are the perfect embodiment of this: flashy pastel colored suits, an arrogant attitude, and an explosive personality.
Lance turns out to be one of Tommy Vercetti’s main allies in the masterful Vice City. Although at some point he will betray our hero, we discover that hiding beneath those stylish suits, Lance does actually have a tender heart. When it comes to family, especially his brothers, nothing can get in Lance’s way.
Carl Jonhson (GTA: San Andreas)
CJ is another GTA protagonist whose name kept cropping up in my informal survey of favorite GTA characers. The reason for his popularity? Although he can be a bad guy, its easy to understand his reasons for getting involved in organized crime: as with the other characters in the series, he has a sad family history – in this case, his mother was murdered early in the game.
CJ’s desire for revenge, however, means that he can also be quite vulgar, although much less ruthless than the antiheroes in previous GTA games. Interestingly, if you like CJ’s personality but not his looks, you can change them; in San Andreas, we first got the option to personalize CJ. The picture here show’s CJ’s pixels placed to perfection.
Frank Tenpenny (GTA: San Andreas)
I couldn’t forget to add one of the greatest villains (or antagonists, considering no one here is exactly a saint) of the series to my list, Frank Tenpenny. But why have I chosen Tenpenny over others? Simply because he is one of the most multi-faceted characters in the Rockstar franchise.
A corrupt policeman, Tenpenny not only blackmailed CJ into carrying out missions, he made gangs jealous of each other so that they’d take each other out. But his double standards aren’t the only thing that fascinate us– as it turns out, his voice came courtesy of the great Samuel L. Jackson! Do you really need any more reasons to love him?
Little Jacob (GTA IV)
In GTA IV, the taciturn Niko Bellic relies on the help of many people, but when it’s time for an appointment with Little Jacob, you come to realize that he’s one of the funniest characters in the game. Little Jacob is the type of friend you could never introduce to your parents, but the one you’ll never get tired of being around.
Belonging to the Jamaican Posse gang, Little Jacob is a champion “stoner,” although his usual highs don’t stop him from being a skilled robber or a superb negotiator when it comes to the illegal sale of weapons and drugs. He’s quite a character, in the broadest sense of the word.
Brucie Kibbutz (GTA IV and GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony)
This secondary character in GTA IV is the spitting image of a reality TV contestant: a foul mouth, addicted to exercise, and a love for fast cars, scantily clad women, and partying.
Kibbutz not only made us laugh, but also managed to make us feel like we were in the ‘The Fast and Furious’, thanks to his crazy driving missions and connections to the best parties.
Johnny Klebitz (GTA: The Lost and the Damned and short appearances in GTA IV and GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony)
Jonathan Klebitz has the honor of being the first biker protagonist in the GTA series. Throughout the series, we’ve seen many gangs, but bikers weren’t represented until The Lost and Damned, with DLC that could make you more emotionally tied to your vehicle than ever before.
Most missions in The Lost and Damned take place on bike, and quite often you carry out them out with fellow members of the Lost group – is there anything better than committing a crime while in the company of friends?
Yusuf Amir (GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony)
If you ever end up with some extra cash and want to invest in real estate, consider doing it with Yusuf Amir as your partner. This megalomaniac might land you in a big mess, but if he doesn’t, be sure he’ll go and tell everything to Luis, the protagonist in The Ballad of Gay Tony.
With only two missions in the game, Yusuf is one of the most charismatic characters in the series. In no time at all, you’ll be stealing helicopters and boats, killing the occasional rival gang member or police officer, and setting off a chain of traffic accidents.
It wasn’t easy to choose only 10 from a huge number of fictional characters scattered throughout the Grand Theft Auto series. It also wasn’t easy to leave out some of the protagonists, including Claude Speed, Niko Belic, and Luis Lopez. But space was limited, and personally, I prefer some of these secondary characters.