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GTA V & The 10 Greatest Characters In Grand Theft Auto History

by Matthew Cooper
10 September 2013 21 Comments

The internet melted when news of GTA V was released and with good reason. But we shouldn't forget the previous outings and the cast of lunatics and thugs who made them great...

Beyond the lunacy that has surrounded every Grand Theft Auto release in the franchise to date is a carefully woven story and a perfect ensemble of characters. And whether you know it or not it is these two reasons alone that have millions of people anticipating the next instalment with much sweatier palms than they would have with ‘Saints Row’ or any other similar sand box adventure.

It has been a lengthy 11 years since GTA III first hit shelves and you learnt how to murder colonies of civilians & Elvis impersonators all in 3D, so it is understandable if you have forgot some magic moments here and there. Here are 10 of the best characters from the series… and there was no shortage to choose from.

Toni Cipriani

A made man of the Leone family and also a playable character in GTA: Liberty City Stories. Often seen in his family run restaurant where he is constantly criticised by his mother for not being the man his father was, similar to the way Tony Soprano is often put down by his mother for not being a ‘saint’ like his late Father. This is just one of the many instances where Rockstar has brilliantly drawn influence from a wealth of pop culture. N.B Listen to Chatterbox FM to hear Toni phoning in to bitch about his old lady.

Claude Speed

Perhaps the most important protagonist of the series but also the quietest, naturally. In fact it wasn’t until San Andreas emerged that we learnt the mute from GTA III even had a name. It’s hard to imagine any other lead characters from the series being vocally incapable due to the brilliant performances they have all given, so it is mad that many games still have silent protagonists. In short, no one does it better than Rockstar North.

Lance Vance

The owner of The Lance Vance dance, and perhaps the coolest drug dealer in the history of fiction, behind only Tony Montana and Henry Hill. Both characters from films Vice City drew a lot of its inspiration and brilliance from, most notably Scarface.  His impulsive attitude and his dislike of being treated like a child by Tommy leads to his and Sonny Forelli’s demise acting as the climax to GTA: Vice City in a mission which again is a massive shout out to the aforementioned Scarface.

Brucie Kibbutz

A raving bloody idiot, but a fantastic one at that. The stereotypical jock from GTA IV, think Jersey Shore crossed with Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother. His frequent gay tendencies to remind Niko that he is not gay and that ‘Brucie loves pussy’ are all a bit, well, gay. Throughout ‘The Ballad of Gay Tony’ we find that Brucie’s insecurity and idiocy come from the constant overshadowing of his big Brother Mori who dominates his life. Below is some classic Brucie & Niko dialogue.

Kent Paul & Maccer

These two come as a pair (voiced by Danny Dyer and Shaun Ryder) because without one the other is largely un-interesting like the two Ronnies or Ant & Dec. These two clowns are found in the desert by CJ after Maccer spikes both of their drinks. After being offered a lift into town Maccer declines insisting he can’t cause ‘I’m a raspberry.’ The two are letter kidnapped but not before Danny Dyer manages to sneak in the word ‘cunt’, some wonderful British charm.

Niko Bellic

To some people he was a bit bland and boring, but his dry humour and no bullshit attitude towards ‘The American Dream’ is what made this ex war veteran the most realised protagonist in the series to date. His ‘do what your told but take no notice of anyone’ approach to life shone a light on how corrupt Rockstar North thinks the American way of life can be. Game daily included ‘NB’ in its list of ‘top 25 anti-heroes’ for his ‘heart of gold beneath a rough exterior.’

Ken Rosenberg

A fine example of the great 1980’s American business type problematic. Flash suits and cocaine problems. Rosenberg is one of the only characters to remain loyal to Tommy V through thick and thin although his crazed drug problem creates a ridge between the two later on. An example that despite Grand Theft Auto’s many social flaws in the eyes of some (Death, guns, robbery etc) it has never glorified drugs through the eyes of the central character.

Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson

Although maybe not as memorable as other central characters he was the first to appear with a conscience, the first that didn’t seem to enjoy killing copious amounts of people, not that it stopped him regardless but it was still a nice plight. His huge respect for family values and in-experienced naivety however leads to him being betrayed by his closest friends and scumbag Police man Frank Tenpenny (brilliantly voiced by Samuel L Jackson), but then no central character is perfect, what with them all being mass murderers and such.


The all-conquering, ill-mannered and terribly rude radio host may not have a face in game, but he has always been there throughout every title. But better than that, he is frivolously funny. He is socially hopeless up to the point that if he were a real person you would have to be his friend because no one else would be. What’s that? Oh yes Lazlow Jones is a real life radio talk-show host and a frequent helper to the GTA series, I’d say we all owe him a massive thank you.

Tommy Vercetti

The don Mafioso himself, the “man with the big cojones.” The convicted psychotic killer and drug dealer, who after 15 years in prison turns up in Vice City ’86 and is immediately flung into a neon light, beach shirt, smack filled shit storm with nemesis Sonny Forelli at the forefront. Vercetti was notably based on Scarface’s Tony Montana but unlike him he did not become hooked on his own business venture, cocaine. The inside of Vercetti’s estate is even based on Montana’s mansion. Vercetti is the ultimate mad man that Rockstar’s constant controversial attitude with society is based upon. But god he is cool.

Check out this article on GTA V that went viral across the world…

GTA 5: 5 Reasons It Will Blow Our Minds

Or these on GTA…

A History Of Grand Theft Auto

GTA V Trailer

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Doctor Dreyfus 10:20 pm, 13-Jun-2012

By the way, the Carl CJ Johnson picture is not him. Its actually Cesar Vialpando, another GTA: San Andreas character.

CharlieM 2:36 am, 14-Jun-2012

This doesn't relate to GTA V at all...Other then you saying GTA V was announced. Horrible article.

Juice 4:07 am, 14-Jun-2012

Umm... Hate to break it to ya, but Claude from GTA III (the mute) is not Claude Speed, the chain smoking shit talker from the original GTA.

wolfnasty 4:40 am, 14-Jun-2012

The second to last pic is Ceasar not CJ Please fix it.

bruce 4:42 am, 14-Jun-2012

the picture you have for cj is cesar vialpando

thecaptain23 9:02 am, 14-Jun-2012

CJ is one of my favorite character for being prominent and greatest role-playing of all GTA series. CJ has earned more respect and powerful than other GTA Characters because is strong and aggressive...Strong Story plot was advanced... CJ could handle his own mission for betrayed by his family or friends and Scumbag Police Tenpenny to finish them off the right thing.

Skyderpants 9:28 am, 14-Jun-2012

Number 9 on your pics is Cesar Vialpando not CJ...

Owen Blackhurst 9:52 am, 14-Jun-2012

We'll get that fixed.

Rusi123 5:06 pm, 14-Jun-2012

PLease change this the pic you have for carl johnson is Ceasr Vialpando or OG Loc

F-N Autoreply 9:53 pm, 14-Jun-2012

I read about... dang come to think about it I wont even remember what this site is called after I close this window. I sorta doubt R* will have any old returning character. But a trend they do. They always put their other game characters in games as usually people standing around in the background of Cut scenes. Even in Max Payne if you pay attention to the background. You see someone that looks like the original GTA guy. Niko Bellic and a few other characters just standing in the background mingling with other characters in cut scenes. You may only see the same thing in GTA V. But even Carl Johnson(CJ) would be hard to recognize. He started out pretty.. `Square...or blocky. Now you can see fabric move ingames. How could you compare any of them from greatest. They were all over-the-top titles when they came out. All are even still fun toplay today. Even the overhead 2d GTA is still fun. Trying to compare them all is pretty useless, because they were all brilliant story and games. I only didn't like the music in the 80s version, but either way still awesome game.

mat 9:10 am, 15-Jun-2012

i don't think that's cesar vialpando, thats just random art. rockstar is well known for having their artists draw characters that don't exist. see the gta 3 loading screens, who's that short old guy waving the baseball bat around? how about nobody!!

Max 10:25 am, 16-Jun-2012

Where's Yusuf Amir?

Alexander 5:15 pm, 17-Jun-2012

>No Mike Toreno GTFO

Cesarnotcj 8:53 pm, 17-Jun-2012

Hey I don't know if anyone's mentioned this but that photo is not of cj, it is Cesar Vialpando please fix this

Shazabazzagazza 8:56 pm, 17-Jun-2012

Loved Salvatore leone in San Andreas and also mike toreno. But agree with most of that top ten. Frank tenpenny?

Carlo 9:20 am, 18-Jun-2012

Packie was an epic character in IV. I loved getting drunk with him.

Anju 12:33 pm, 21-Jun-2012


Matthew Cooper 3:48 pm, 22-Jun-2012

This could easily have been a list of 20 or 30, sorry if your favourite isn't in here. Yusuf was brilliant.

RealityPales 9:38 pm, 26-Jul-2012

I would also include Donald Love. Something about his mysterious disappearance in GTAIII still makes me think of him - even today. Oh, and no Salvatore Leone? Really? Come to think of it, this is a pretty underwhelming list. What about 8-Ball (owner of the car bomb store), Ray Machowski (the bent cop in the underground bathrooms), Marty Chonks (from the Bitch'n Dog Food factory), Ricardo Diaz (Vice City mobster) or Auntie Poulet (Haitian leader)? Wow, and NO mention of Phil Cassidy? His ties between Vice City and III were really cool. This list doesn't even have the Samuel L. Jackson voiced character from San Andreas, Frank Tenpenny! Oh, not to mention omitting others like OG Loc (the rapper), The Truth (who leads you to the jetpack in SA), or Patrick McReary (the Irish in IV). Sheesh, I'm done. I haven't even mentioned prominent characters in LCS, VCS and Chinatown Wars. Or GTAI, II and London for that matter.

sillymistakes 12:46 am, 27-Jul-2012

wtf that's cesar not cj

rabs bus 11:00 pm, 1-Aug-2013

henry hill from the goodfellas wasnt a fictional character

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