Grand Theft Auto: Most Memorable Characters - Prima Games

Grand Theft Auto: Most Memorable Characters

by Prima Games Staff

Over the past decade, Rockstar Games has introduced us to a number of great experiences in the Grand Theft Auto universe, from wild police chases to intense face-offs to full-blown betrayals. However, it’s also introduced a number of characters we can’t soon forget, from the all-out loonies who kept things interesting to the truly vicious criminals that would do anything to show just what kind of power they possessed.

Without further ado, here’s a list of some of the series’ most notable characters. You can bet that Grand Theft Auto V will have its fair share of them as well when it arrives in less than two weeks’ time…

Johnny Klebitz (Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned)

If we had to turn to one biker to cover our back in a bar fight, it’d have to be Johnny Klebitz. This is easily one of the most intimidating characters in the series, a biker who doesn’t hold back, whether it’s facing off against his enemies or dealing with those inside his own gang, like the unpredictable leader – and former ally – Billy Grey. Johnny can hold his own either with fisticuffs or with a weapon in hand, though he remains compellingly human, especially when it comes to his relationship with ex-girlfriend Ashley, struggling to help her break free of her meth habit. That mixture of violence and devotion makes Johnny one of the series’ best.

Lance Vance (Grand Theft Auto Vice City)

The 80’s were full of interesting characters in the Grand Theft Auto world, but none stand out better than Lance Vance. This affiliate of Tommy Vercetti’s stands out on his own accord, dressed in dapper suits – like the purple one above – and shows his style every chance he gets. He even has his own dance, the Lance Vance Dance – what else? – and isn’t afraid to show it, even with everything that’s going on. Not only was Lance cool in appearance, but also in voice. In a novel 80’s move, Rockstar hired Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas to voice him. It truly paid off – even if there’s no sign of Don Johnson. 

Frank Tenpenny (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)

We’ve run into a lot of scummy characters over the years, but none could sink any lower than this corrupt San Andreas police officer. Tenpenny shows his vile attitude right from the start, running into the game’s main character, Carl Johnson, right off the bat to let him know he means business. He threatens to frame him for a cop’s murder unless he does him favors throughout the game. Not only does Tenpenny have a mean look, but he also sounds intimidating, with actor Samuel L. Jackson voicing him to sheer perfection. Do yourself a favor and stay off this cop’s bad side. You won’t like it there.

Yusuf Amir (Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony)

Where some characters rely on harsh actions and words to build their character, Yusuf goes in the opposite direction. This son of a loaded real estate developer from Dubai has it made, and isn’t afraid to let his overinflated ego get in the way of logic as he makes decisions surrounding his violent actions and night club management. He provides some of the best laughs in the game, whether it’s his clumsy use of racial slurs or the way he dances around in his underwear to Busta Rhymes’ “Arab Money.” He may not be the most powerful character in the game, but you won’t soon forget him.

Niko Bellic (Grand Theft Auto IV)

Grand Theft Auto has seen its fair share of troubled heroes over the years, but Niko Bellic takes the cake. This Serbian refugee has come to New York to make a better life for himself, following years of torture as a child soldier in the Bosnian wars. However, despite the change in climate, things haven’t gotten easier, and he vows to get revenge on the men that wronged him so badly. Niko’s biggest asset is his heart, as he cares deeply for his cousin Roman and his beloved Kate while carrying out so many violent actions to get his revenge. In a way, you almost feel like cheering for him – which shows just how good a job Rockstar Games did.

Carl “CJ” Johnson (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)


Just like Niko, Carl has his own fair share of troubles. After seeing so many years dwindled in game violence, he made his way to Liberty City to make things right. However, forced to return to Los Santos following the death of his mother, Carl now finds himself between a rock and a hard place, blackmailed by officer Tenpenny and trying to make good with his former gang members and friends. It’s this kind of emotional involvement that makes you feel like seeing Carl’s mission all the way through – even if the outcome isn’t likely to be pretty.

Tommy Vercetti (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)

If anyone helped clear the way for how character development should be done in a GTA game, it was Tommy Vercetti. This Scarface-like kingpin, looking to rebuild his empire throughout 80’s Miami, definitely has a vicious side, but he’s also quite likable as well. He’s a notable ally when it comes to helping out his friends, even if they don’t always return the favor; and his relationship with Earnest Kelly is easily one of the best parts of the game. Plus, he has an unmistakably cool wardrobe. Who else could be violent while wearing a tacky Hawaiian shirt?


Grand Theft Auto V releases on September 17th for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Be sure to check out our extensive coverage on the game, including The History of Grand Theft Auto and Things We Can’t Wait To Do.

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