GTA 6, is the name of a game that has been circling on the internet for a really long time. The latest installment of the GTA franchise was a massive success for Rockstar Games. After some years of the release of Grand Theft Auto V, there have been numerous rumors and theories indicating where the next GTA will be. While Rockstar has not given any information about the new game we currently can just speculate, with a rumor suggesting that a female character could headline the next game in the series, GTA 6. That would be a first for the long-running franchise, which to date has exclusively starred male characters, dating back to the first game in 1997.
With this in mind, let us take a look back at all the protagonists that stuck to our memories and that we spend hours with. Be warned by potential spoilers ahead.
Grand Theft Auto
In the original Grand Theft Auto, which was in the 2D universe. The player had a bird’s view of the character and all the madness happening around him. Your job was to take out rival gang leaders in Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City. While the franchise would eventually settle into telling stories with evolving characters, the mega franchise’s first game took a more modest approach with a playable protagonist, allowing you to choose from a set of eight characters to serve as the basis for your anti-hero.
GTA: London 1969
In this expansion to the original game, players could explore a GTA version of 1960s London and run afoul of the city’s gangs. Like its direct predecessor, GTA London had a set of playable protagonists that also pull from films and cultural icons from the era. These antiheroes include Maurice Caine: a clear homage to Sir Michael Caine and his roles in The Italian Job and Get Carter and Charles Jones, a British Hippie that evokes London’s strong counter-cultural movement.
GTA II | Claude Speed
The first sequel to the original GTA was when the franchise began to focus more on the story. Instead of choosing from a set of templates as your protagonist, GTA2 put you in the role of Claude Speed, an up and coming criminal who gets in deep with Liberty City’s biggest gangsters and corporations. Using a mix of in-game storytelling and live-action cutscenes interspersed throughout, we saw Claude’s ascent up the criminal ladder as he takes on the police, Russian gangsters, and even the Yakuza.
Grand Theft Auto III | Claude Speed
This is the first installment of the GTA series to be featured in a 3D Universe. Chronologically following the events of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Catalina leaves with her boyfriend Claude to Liberty City. At the start of the game, the two are seen robbing a bank with Miguel, a Colombian Cartel member and their getaway driver, and another unnamed man. Amidst the chase, Catalina tells Claude that she is an ambitious girl and doesn’t need him anymore, shooting him, killing the unnamed man, and leaving with Miguel and the money. Claude survives and is arrested for the robbery. While crossing the Portland Island bridge in a police convoy, the Colombian Cartel ambushes them by blowing up the Callahan Bridge (isolating Portland from the rest of the city) and then kidnaps an Old Oriental Gentleman. Claude and another prisoner named 8-Ball free themselves while the convoy is ambushed and leave.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City | Tommy Vercetti
GTA Vice City is set in Vice City, Florida, in 1986, and concerns the exploits of protagonist Tommy Vercetti as he rises to become Vice City’s major criminal power. Unlike Claude, though, Tommy was a tough-talking and charismatic gangster who was quick to stake his claim on Vice City, and nearly 20 years later, he’s still regarded as a fan-favorite anti-hero in the series. And yes, there are tons of Scarface references throughout Tommy’s rise to power, culminating in a mansion shootout that feels ripped straight out of the film.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas | Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson
One of the all-time favorite games is GTA: SA. By far the largest and most complex playing field of any 3D Universe game, San Andreas consists of three fully-realized cities: Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas, and includes vast expanses of countryside, forests, a desert, and even a mountain and many hills. The game is centered around the return of Carl Johnson (also known as CJ) to his gang (the Grove Street Families), and their subsequent return to power.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories | Toni Cipriani
Toni is a member of the Leone Crime Family in Liberty City, who was forced to live abroad after killing a made man from a rival Mafia family under orders of his boss, Don Salvatore Leone. He returns four years later and resumes work for the family, eventually wiping out the two rival Mafia families, the Sindaccos and the Forellis, which leaves the Leones as the sole major Mafia family in the city, and earning Salvatore’s respect and trust, which leads to his position as a Capo within the family.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories | Victor Vance
Victor Vance is a former soldier who was looking to earn money for his dysfunctional family, and, while stationed in Vice City, was convinced by his superior, Jerry Martinez, to get involved in the drug dealing business to earn money quicker, despite Vic’s moral objection towards drugs. Eventually, Martinez betrays Victor and gets him kicked out of the army, prompting Vic to fully embrace the criminal lifestyle.
Grand Theft Auto IV | Niko Bellic
Niko grew up in SFR Yugoslavia, where he fought in the Yugoslav Wars. He later worked for organized crime syndicates as a hired-gun in Liberty City. Ever since the Yugoslav Wars ended, Niko’s main goal in life was to find and kill one of two men: Florian Cravic or Darko Brevic, for one of them betrayed and nearly killed him during the Wars. Niko is the younger cousin of Roman Bellic and the son of Milica Bellic.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned | Johnny Klebitz
Johnny Klebitz was the vice president of The Lost MC, serving as an acting president while president Billy Grey was in rehab. As the acting president, Klebitz maintained a relative peace between The Lost and the gang’s rivals, The Angels of Death. He becomes the official president of The Lost after Billy was arrested again in 2008.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony | Luis Fernando Lopez
Luis is a former member of the Northwood Dominican Drug Dealers, whose life took a completely different turn after becoming the personal bodyguard, business associate, and close friend of “Gay” Tony Prince, a nightclub entrepreneur and owner of both Maisonette 9 and Hercules. Luis is often the more rational and down to earth of the two, regularly finding himself in complicated situations due to Tony’s reckless actions, which he has to get them both out of.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars | Huang Lee
In the first and only GTA game for the 3DS, this side-story brought in the first Chinese protagonist, Huang Lee. Like Niko’s story, Huang Lee’s experience and subsequent growth in Liberty City are from the perspective of an immigrant. After facing betrayal that results in the theft of his late father’s ancestral sword, Lee works his way through Liberty City to secure more power and resources to face off against the town’s most ruthless gangs. Along the way, he partners up with other individuals in the city to expand the Triads’ operations, eventually becoming the organization’s new leader.
Grand Theft Auto V | Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips & Franklin Clinton
This is the first installment of a GTA game to feature three protagonists which you can play as. Also, it is the best selling game of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
Franklin Clinton was born and lived his entire life in Los Santos. He became a gangbanger at a young age and joined The Families alongside his best friend Lamar Davis, committing various small crimes for a living. Franklin’s story revolves around his desire to become something more and make something of himself, which he succeeds when he meets Michael, who becomes a mentor figure to him and recruits him in all of his robberies and various jobs for other criminals, leading to Franklin’s eventual success and wealth. Franklin also befriends the third protagonist, Trevor, who, although not as close to him as Michael, still becomes somewhat of a mentor for him.
Michael de Santa is a former bank robber and career criminal, who faked his death to retire and live a peaceful life with his family in Los Santos. However, he suffers from his unhealthy relationship with them, and soon gets pulled back into his criminal life, forcing him to return to his old ways. Michael’s story centers around how his seemingly idyllic and halcyon lifestyle is brought to a halt as his past demons and morally compromising mistakes come back to haunt him.
Trevor Phillips is a career criminal and former bank robber with a complicated past, who later founded his own company, Trevor Philips Enterprises, operating with drug dealing and weapon smuggling in Blaine County. He is friends with Ron Jakowski and Wade Hebert, who work for his company, as well as the oldest and best friend of Michael, whom he believed to be dead for almost a decade after he faked his death to retire from the criminal life. Trevor is known to have a generally reckless and very aggressive behavior, but he is also very loyal and deeply respects all those close to him. Trevor’s story focuses on how his actions have consequences on both himself and his friends, and him coming to terms with Michael’s past actions. Trevor later also befriends the third protagonist, Franklin, becoming somewhat of a mentor figure to him.
Which is your favorite GTA protagonist, let us know down in the comments!
– This article was updated on:January 13th, 2021