Grand Theft Auto IV

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"Life is complicated. I killed people, smuggled people, sold people. Perhaps here, things will be different."

Grand Theft Auto IV is the fourth full installment of the Grand Theft Auto series and the first one to appear on a "Next Gen" console. It was also, thanks to a famous slip-up by Sony over renewing their previous contract with Rockstar for exclusive publishing rights, the first entry to get a simultaneous Multi Platform release, as well as the first to have downloadable content (timed exclusive to the 360 version - Microsoft made out like a bandit, they did). Anyway, the game certainly takes advantage of the new hardware (whichever hardware that may be) to the fullest - character models are much more detailed and animated along with just about everything else.

One of the biggest changes, if not the biggest and most important change, from previous installments is IV's ability to take advantage of the Internet connectivity that virtually all next-gen consoles have built in. That's right, GTA now has multiplayer. A number of game modes are offered, including classic deathmatch and team deathmatch along with team-based co-op missions. There's even a simple open sandbox mode so you can run around Liberty City doing whatever you want with your friends or complete strangers.

Before the game's release, Rockstar signed a $50 million deal with Microsoft to produce two downloadable expansion packs exclusively for the Xbox 360 in 2009. Of course, this was a major flashpoint in the Console Wars. The first of the two was released in March, while the second one was released at the end of October. Play Station 3 and PC owners could rejoice as these previously exclusive expansions came out for their formats in April, 2010. They have their own pages, and are as follows. If you have tropes for those games, put them on their respective pages.


Tropes used in Grand Theft Auto IV include:
  • Alternate Continuity: Of a sort. Liberty City looks nothing like it did in Grand Theft Auto III and none of the events of the previous three games are mentioned, but GTA Radio and the accompanying internet and TV shows make numerous references to the popular culture in the first three games.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In the police database, there is a woman named Mary Valvona listed as the head of the Pavano crime family. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Mafia would never let a woman into the organization, let alone allow her to become the boss of one of the Five Families. Yet this news article proves otherwise.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Brucie. Not that heavily hinted at, but come on...the guy's freakin' last name is Kibbutz.
    • Confirmed in TBoGT. Brucie's older brother Mori spent time in Israel, serving in the Army (allegedly).
  • American Dream: Flavor 2. HARD.
  • Amoral Attorney: Niko must kill one of these by forging a resume to get an interview.
  • Anti-Hero: Niko is something of a IV with shades of a V. Niko came to America to escape the horrors of his past life but also seeks to find and kill those who betrayed him years before (so his mentality is firmly a IV). However, he sports an indifference and lack of morality towards anyone who would seek to use his talents to carry out dirty deeds, throwing some Type V into the mix.
  • Arms Dealer: Unlike the previous games in the series, where the guns came from perfectly legal firearm stores, all the weapon shops in this game are underground back-alley operations due to LC's Mayor having enacted strict gun control laws. This is also what Little Jacob does for a living -- if he likes Niko enough, he'll even deliver a car full of weapons to the player's location on demand.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Two candidates in a campaign race for governor, John Hunter and Michael Graves, take out surreal attack ads accusing their opponent of some of the most bizarre things imaginable.

"You may value your privacy, but John Hunter doesn't. He wants to install a camera in your bedroom so every time you jerk off you have to pay five dollars!"

  • Awesome but Impractical: The counter-finishes. In a fist/melee fight, they look really cool and kill a guy at half his health instantly, but are fairly difficult to pull off and depend largely on timing. Just whaling on the other guy without stopping is an easier way to win a fight.
    • The rocket launcher plays this trope straight unless you use a cheat code. While it does massive damage, it can be hard to aim, is fairly expensive, with the amount of ammo you can carry for it (up to 8 rounds) and can be easily dodged if fired from a far enough distance. And if you get too close, you can get caught in the splash damage, or the fires it sometimes leaves behind on the ground.
      • Crippling Overspecialization: Much of this applies to combat against enemies on foot, in a car, or even on a moving boat. However, when facing helicopters, there isn't much else to do but break out the rocket launcher and take them out in swift fashion then making your getaway before they respawn.
    • Awesome Yet Practical: You'll find that one of the most efficient ways of drawing out and surviving a shootout with the cops is finding a large, sturdy piece of cover (with no way around it except through you, of course) and blindfiring an SMG, Assault Rifle, or Carbine Rifle from behind it with near-perfect accuracy.
  • Ax Crazy: Mikhail Faustin and Eddie Low.
  • Badass: Niko, as is to be expected of a GTA protagonist. This is underlined in the museum shootout mission. You clear out the entire museum of bad guys, which is pretty normal, again, for a GTA protagonist. Then you revisit the mission as Johnny in The Lost and Damned and come across the score of bodies that Niko left at the staircase to the ground floor of the museum, causing him to comment "This guy's fucking dangerous". And how.
  • Because I'm Good At It: Niko uses this exact line at one point when asked why he lives the way he does.
  • Berserk Button:

No one fucks with my family."

    • It's also a really bad idea to accuse Niko of being disloyal. The only person in the game who does it and lives to talk about it is Roman.
  • Beef Gate: Attempting to go to any island before it has been formally opened results in an automatic 6 star wanted rating.
  • Betty and Veronica: Subverted. Because Michelle, the Veronica, betrayed him, Niko continues the romance with Kate "Betty" McReary.
    • Roman and Vlad to Mallorie. Since Vlad is such a dick and ends up killed early on, the Betty wins again.
  • Big Applesauce: Liberty City is such an excellent representation of New York that many reviewers and gamers considered it one of the game's finest points. Also, in fitting with the New York-centrism theme of the trope, Alderney, the game's stand-in for northern New Jersey, has been folded into Liberty City. Staten Island, New York's Butt Monkey, does not appear.
  • Big Bad: Dimitri Rascalov for the Deal Ending. Also Evil All Along. In the Revenge Ending, you kill him before the final mission.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The McReary family. The entire Irish mob is just one family tied together by a history of crime, alchohol, and abuse.
  • Book Ends: The game begins with Niko getting off a boat named "Platypus". During the mission A Dish Served Cold, you revisit that boat, now being used as part of a drug deal that Dimitri and Pegorino have set up.
  • Broken Bridge: The bridges and tunnels are closed due to a terror alert, and they are slowly reopened as you progress through the game. This is covered (often hilariously) on the in-game news sites.
  • Brooklyn Rage
  • Butt Monkey: Roman. In spades.
  • Cain and Abel: Derrick and Francis McReary.
  • The Caligula: Well and truly personified by Mikhail Faustin, the game's leading figure in the Russian Mob, who is completely batshit insane. He shoots his own men for no particular reason, orders hits left and right on the merest of whims, and explodes at everyone around him, including long-time friends and family. Is it any wonder why Dimitri had him killed?
  • Camp Gay: BERNIE.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Cassandra Truth: Niko becomes this in relation to the three optional girlfriends who can be found online. They are initially unaware of Niko's connection to organized crime, and when he reveals this to them in their conversations, this is either brushed off or mocked as false.
  • Chaos Architecture: Liberty City is quite unlike its GTA III incarnation. Justified, since it is an Alternate Continuity.
  • Check Point Starvation: There are no Check Points during missions, regardless of mission length. If you fail the mission, you have to start over from the beginning. This includes driving to the mission's start point. Normally, you can use a taxi to spare yourself the drive, but there are some missions where you are required to drive to the mission location, such as "Catch The Wave."
    • Actually, there are 2 missions where this does not apply: A Revenger's Tragedy and Out Of Commission. Once you get to Dmitri/Pegorino's hideout to begin the shootout, if you fail the mission, when you agree to the text message asking if you want to redo the mission, you don't start from the beginning of the mission. You skip the car chase and end up in the cut scene where Niko and Jacob (and Roman in Commission) drive down the embankment toward the hideout.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Dimitri Rascalov.
  • Collection Sidequest: Brucie's car thefts, the pigeon extermination, Stevie's car thefts, stunt jumps.
    • Gotta Kill Em All: To "collect" the aforementioned pigeons, well, you have to shoot and kill them. Also, the Most Wanted sidequest has you locating 30 criminals across Liberty City and assassinating them.
    • Bonus Feature Failure: The reward for exterminating all the pigeons (and this is one of the few sidequests that gives the player an explicit reward other than money and/or contributing to the 100% Completion percentage) is an Annihilator attack helicopter that spawns on top of a certain building. Said helicopter won't spawn when the roof is accessed from the ground, requiring the player to use another helicopter to get to it. Also, it spawns at three other helipads that can be accessed from the ground, all of which are available without completing the pigeon sidequest, defeating the whole point of the "reward".
  • Conspiracy Theorist: When the police start to keep tabs on Faustin and Dimitri's drug trade, Faustin becomes convinced that it's because there's a mole instead of, as Dmitri tries to explain, carelessness and not keeping a low enough profile.
  • Crapsack World: Rockstar collected pretty much the worst aspects of American society (über-capitalism, xenophobia, Trigger Happy-ness, poverty, Hollywood History, hypocrisy, militarism, racism, idiocy) and made an entire fricking city out of it. And boy, now take a look at Dystopia beneath... Half of the time its not even played for laughs anymore.
  • Darker and Edgier: May seem hard to do, but IV was a definite shift away from the more lighthearted predecessors; the Crapsack World goes from being Played for Laughs to Played for Drama. Even on the radio, the humor is much more toned down, and the actual missions themselves seem to involve almost no laughing moments. Even the radio satire is a lot less funny and more outright stating what is wrong with America. It seems like Rockstar just picked targets and let 'em have it with both barrels. Even the game physics are Darker and Edgier. Shit, the car's on fire, I'll just leap to safety and- oohh, ouch, that looked painful... curse you, conservation of momentum! And then there's getting thrown through the windscreen in head-on collisions...
  • Dating Sim: You can date various women, who (except for Michelle and Kate, who you have to date for story reasons) give you the added benefit of their special abilities (instant healing from the nurse, getting cops off your back from the lawyer, clothing discounts from the socialite). In addition, you can go on "dates" with your male friends, who also give you bonuses if they like and respect you enough (Little Jacob sells you weapons out of his trunk, Roman sends a cab for you, Packie gives you car bombs, etc).
  • Deadfoot Leadfoot: Lots of drivers will accelerate forwards if they're killed.
  • Deconstruction: Of its own series. Rather than show a glamorized portrayal of criminal life like the previous games did, it portrays it realistically, with most of the characters being poor, sociopathic, psychotic, greedy, or otherwise unlikable. Even Niko himself is a hypocrite.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Eddie Low, hoo boy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Niko. Deconstructed to some extent, as the way he casually mouths off to hardened killers just helps illustrate how little he cares for his own life.
    • Niko will also make snarky comments if a friend calls on the phone wanting to do something while he's on a mission. For example, in mission where you have to take a female hostage to a new hiding place, someone may call you to ask if you'd like to go to a strip club. Niko will reply that he's currently with a woman and that it would be a bad idea to bring her along.
  • Death by Irony: Manny, after doing several missions for him to help "Clean Up The Mean Streets" He confronts one of the bigger drug dealers in the area (Who was already in a mental breakdown now that the cops were closing in on her), And is promptly killed for it, Niko is unsurprised at the death and lampshades the irony in it.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Michelle isn't fooling anybody... except the actual in-game characters, of course.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Try to approach the warehouse when the Russians are holding Roman hostage by helicopter. You'll be shot by two mooks with rocket launchers. Yes, Rockstar added guards for the roof even though one player on a million would think of trying that.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: How Bernie responds whenever he is called by his old name, Florian.
  • Dueling Games: This game came out around the same time as Saints Row 2, and each of these two games have almost diametrically opposed design philosophies, which means a lot of gamers tend to favor one over the other.
  • Dirty Cop: Francis McReary
  • The Don: Jimmy Pegorino and Jon Gravelli.
  • Downer Ending(s): The penultimate mission has you choose between overseeing a heroin deal with Dimitri for Pegorino or using the opportunity to kill Dimitri. If you take the former Kate dumps you and Dimitri screws you out of the deal anyway, then has Roman killed at his wedding. Take the latter, then Roman survives, but Pegorino has Kate killed at Roman's wedding. The latter is more of a Bittersweet Ending, while the former is a full on Downer Ending.
  • Downloadable Content: The DLC here amounts to an entire Expansion Pack.
  • Drunk Driver: The drinking mini-game usually results in this. Well, not always the "driver" part, if you prefer, maybe due to your consciousness, or maybe because you gain one wanted level when you pass by any police unit while driving drunk. Or maybe because it's really hard to drive drunk, and even with this being a video game you crash so much that you're likely to kill yourself or your companion.
  • Dystopia: They drove the point as high as the then-current situation would allow it. Think about it. This game portrays how America would be if they had taken the PATRIOT Act too seriously:
    • Police officers are allowed to draw a weapon on someone for hitting another person, refusing to pay highway toll, flank roadblocks or trespassing on government property (hell, even shoot them if they feel like it, which would be the case at most times).
    • The FIB moderates and records everything you do in the internet, going as far as tracing you down and arresting you for visiting certain sites.
    • As mentioned in the police recruitment trailer, the police are allowed to shoot into crowds of peaceful protesters for strolling outside the "Free Speech Zone" (already the fact that "Free Speech Zones" exist is a slap in the face). Furthermore, they are protected by law for - as well as are totally fine with the fact of - running over bystanders to catch even one perpetrator.
    • The police shut down a city the size of New York by erecting road blocks on every major water crossing, having little more motivation than "fucking terrorists".
    • Terrorists (whether they exist or not) are the highest priority for the police. And not, say, heavily-armed bank robbers and sociopaths.
    • Any personality who isn't Republican, right-wing, capitalist, straight, Francophobic, xenophobic, an American citizen, an American supremacist (or at least a white supremacist) or a gun owner is basically declared anything along the lines of "Dirty Commies" in public.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Both Johnny and Luis show up in the main story before their respective DLCs, as does Gay Tony himself.
    • You can also find their records in the police database.
      • You can even find records for Chinatown Wars characters, including Huang Lee.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective + Power Equals Rarity: Not for weapons, but cars, particularly gang cars.
    • In previous installments besides San Andreas, gang cars were self-contained vehicles that unfailingly spawned in their respective gangs' home areas. Here, gang cars are randomly-spawning, modified versions of civilian vehicles, distinguished by unique paintjobs and accessories, to hint at their often-enhanced performance. They are rare in areas where their unmodified civilian versions are common, so be prepared to go on a Self-Imposed Fetch Quest or Pixel Hunt if you want one in your parking space.
    • Subverted for civilian-only cars that randomly spawn with rare paintjobs and accessories (see The A-Team Shout-Out entry below for examples). While they look cool, they don't sport enhanced performance.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with NOOSE's service vehicles, which are modified versions of the Police Cruiser, Patriot, and Securicar, respectively. All three are outfitted with LED-lightbars, grilles, and high-profile tyres that make them look more menacing than their regular counterparts. The first two are transformed into Lightning Bruisers and the third is made even more of a Stone Wall. They are rare to the point of not spawning anywhere on map the unless you are wanted by the authorities and difficult to get for obvious reasons.
  • Erudite Stoner: Little Jacob is always ready to impart a few nuggets of Rasta wisdom to Niko as he simultaneously fills the car with pot smoke.
  • Escort Mission: Most notably the co-op mission "Hangman's NOOSE." The police can't keep up with you if you just fly a helicopter, one spawns roughly 1500 yards from where you start, and the NPC is relatively smart. It's the easiest and fastest way to get multiplayer ranks, which means its one of the few Escort Missions ever that players seek out repeatedly.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Niko's emails to his mother.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Subverted. If you smash up your car too much in this game, it'll simply stop running, though it may catch fire and explode on occasion.
  • Evil Pays Better: Subverted by the choice between killing Playboy X or Dwayne Forge. If you kill Playboy X, you get his apartment, Dwayne as one of your friends (whose special ability is to send out some of his fellow gang members to help you), and a bonus outfit that is a Shout-Out to III, while killing Dwayne instead only gets you money. Also, sparing the lives of some people will earn you some bonus missions later on. Played straight in the choice between killing Francis or Derrick, where killing Derrick will earn you a one-time deal with Francis that will allow you to cancel your wanted level.
  • Expansion Pack: The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are helping to popularize this on consoles.
  • Expy: The U.L. Paper contact wears horn-rimmed glasses, works for a mysterious shadowy organization, and uses a paper company as a front. Does that sound strangely familiar to you?
    • Also, Niko himself, who very much resembles the sniper Sasha from Behind Enemy Lines.
  • Face Heel Turn: Dimitri betrays Niko to Mr. Bulgarin, a human trafficker that Niko used to work for who believes that Niko stole money from him.
  • Final Speech: Nearly all the people you can perform executions on give these before you kill them. Subverted in that you can cut them short by just shooting them.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Niko wears them on the cover and in some of the loading screens, but you can't find them in-game. You would not believe how angry some players got over this.
  • Fish Out of Water: Played with. Niko doesn't struggle much to adjust to his life in America but then he keeps getting involved with stuff that isn't that unfamiliar to him either. People do poke fun at his foreigner status (as seen below).
  • Flamboyant Gay: Bernie.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Dimitri Rascalov.
  • Funny Foreigner: Many characters find Niko's accent and mannerisms to be rather hilarious.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Several, most notably the Liberty Sanitation Department, as well as the National Office Of Security Enforcement (NOOSE).
  • The Gambling Addict: Roman. It's his gambling debts to The Mafiya, and Niko's efforts to clear them that kick-start the plot of the entire game.
  • Gang Up on the Human: Used against the player with alarming regularity. Sometimes it's justified, such as when you're robbing a bank, or recklessly running over/shooting random civilians, other times its ridiculous. It seems whenever an NPC commits a crime, the cops are really slow to stop them, and hilariously can't seem to catch up to criminals fleeing on foot. But the instant you lightly bump into that officer's car, they begin the manhunt, and several other cops within the vicinity who apparently have nothing better to do or no other crimes to stop will drop what they're doing to bring you to justice.
  • Genre Shift: This entry marks a pretty sharp step away from the over-the-top action and wandering of the previous games.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Both kinds. United Liberty Paper Merchants covers the completely fictional kind, while the Federal Investigation Bureau (FIB) and the National Office Of Security Enforcement (NOOSE) are obvious parody stand-ins for the FBI and Department of Homeland Security respectively.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: After the final mission.
  • Guilt Based Gaming: Your friends will call and demand that you play minigames with them, and they'll get huffy if you turn them down or don't call them for a while. It is possible to avoid this friendship decline if you accept their offer and then cancel, but this makes no sense and isn't listed in the manual.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Brucie again.
  • Hide Your Children: Potentially Lampshaded by a red baby carriage found in the city.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • The Lincoln Tunnel has been renamed The (John Wilkes) Booth Tunnel. Actually counts as two jokes in one, as John's brother Edwin Booth was an extremely famous New Yorker and naming the real tunnel after him would not have been out of the question.
    • The Empire State Building has been named the Rotterdam Tower. Rotterdam surpassed New York as the world's busiest port in the 1980's.
    • Not only that, but Liberty City's original (colonial) name was "New Rotterdam". It's real-life counterpart's original name was "New Amsterdam" (which, just like Liberty City, was founded by Dutch colonists and then taken over and renamed by Great Britain). And for those who don't know, both Amsterdam and Rotterdam are major Dutch (trading) ports.
      • Also, one street of Liberty City is named after Petrus Stuyvesant. He was the last governor of the New Netherlands (including New Amsterdam) before the aforementioned British takeover.
      • Stuyvesant has real neighborhoods named after him in New York as well. Stuyvesant Heights is one part of the (in)famous Bed-Stuy.
  • Hummer Dinger: Given that most of the game's environment is composed of city streets, any off-road vehicle is practically this. Lampshaded by the "Player Image" stat, which describes the player's image based on the cars the player drives most. Should the player's favorite car be any one of the game's 4-Wheel-Drive SUV's, the corresponding image given will be "Soccer Mom".
    • It should be noted that as in previous games in the series, SUV's start to show their worth in a combat situation. In something of an inversion of Mundane Utility, their size and durability make them excellent protection from gunfire, and their mobility makes them good for getaways. Good to note considering the game averts In Vehicle Invulnerability.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Incredibly, Niko confesses this to Alex Chilton, who doesn't care. This is after a long speech describing the horror and brutality of war--who would have guessed Niko was that scarred?
  • Ink Suit Actor: Ricky Gervais and Katt Williams appear in the game, portraying themselves for some stand-up routines in a club in Algonquin.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Heavily averted. A lot of people you shoot on your way will eventually get up after a while.
    • Unless you scored a head shot, in which case almost everyone plays this trope straight. Elizabeta herself does this during a cutscene.
  • Instant Win Condition: Sometimes averted, such as when you kill a key NPC during a mission, then have to evade the cops. Sometimes played straight, such as killing a guy before they get too far away in a vehicle, thereby avoiding the long chase sequence you'd otherwise have to do.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Averted in that Niko vaults over obstacles around waist height, and can grab onto the edge of and pull himself up anything higher.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Jacob and Niko. Lampshaded when Elizabeta calls Niko and tells him that Jacob is there and asks him to report to her immediately since she heard that apparently he can actually understand Jacob.
  • Interface Screw: Whenever you get drunk. It's ridiculously realistic how Niko can't even stand still if you move him even a single inch. To make matters worse, try driving in this state (that is, if you don't mind getting a wanted level for this).
  • Interface Spoiler: The achievement/trophy for beating the Libertonian mission is "Impossible Trinity." When Johnny, your partner for that mission, was announced as the lead character for The Lost and Damned, many gamers immediately recognized that Luis would be the PC in the 2nd expansion as he was the only character from that mission whose fate was ambiguous. They were proven correct.
  • Irony: A very dark variety, as well. If you follow Roman's advice and try to reconcile with Dimitri at the end and take the Deal ending, Dimitri ends up betraying you again and kills Roman. If instead you follow Kate's advice not to take the deal and instead decide to take revenge on Dimitri, Kate is shot in a drive-by.
  • The Irish Mob: Packie, Derrick, and Gerry McReary, as well as their associate Michael Keane are gangsters from a family past its glory days. Their other brother Francis is the LCPD's deputy police commissioner, and distances himself from them to preserve his reputation. Their youngest, Kate turns a blind eye to all of them, and busies herself by taking care of their aging mother, and going out with Niko.
  • Ironic Echo: The page quote. Roman greets his cousin with the line "Welcome to America!" At the very beginning of the game. Niko repeats these words to Dimitri, just before you kill him, if you go with the "Deal" mission and Roman gets killed.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): Broker not Brooklyn, Dukes not Queens, Middle Park not Central Park, Algonquin not Manhattan[1]... is there anything in Liberty City that doesn't follow this trope?
    • Other examples are Alderney for New Jersey and Guernsey as a nickname for it (Alderney and Guernsey are neighbouring islands to "old" Jersey), the Humboldt River instead of the Hudson, Tudor instead of Elizabeth county (IRL named for a Tudor-era ruler), Booth Tunnel for the Lincoln, Happiness Island instead of Ellis, and the Rotterdam Tower isntead of the Empire State Building. Jesus.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: Intentional. The game has an in-universe parody of CSI called "The Science of Crime", whose theme song (which you can download to your cell phone) sounds very similar to "Won't Get Fooled Again" (which is, in turn, the theme of CSI: Miami). Well, the "yeahhh!" and some of the keyboard bars at least.
  • Joisey: The island of Alderney.
  • Karma Houdini: Bulgarin just disappears after the mission Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend and is never seen or fought again in the main game. Eventually subverted when he turns out to be the Big Bad of The Ballad of Gay Tony. Also Niko himself if you just decided to mass murder. Even if you don't do that, his murders of cops and to a lesser extent gang members would be rather horrendous if they happened in real life.
    • Michelle even doesn't get punished after she has betrayed Niko
  • Karmic Death: When Elizabeta's drug ring is about to get busted in the opening cutscene of "Have a Heart", Manny shows up with his TV crew to do what he does best, manipulate the situation to make himself look good. Elizabeta finally snaps and gives Manny and his cameraman a faceful of lead for their troubles.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Packie and Kate openly lament the death of one of their brothers either Francis or Derrick, all the while being kept ignorant of the fact that Niko is the one who killed him. This bites hard considering you end up playing The Confidant to both of them during Friendship Activities/Dates, and they talk at length about their relationship with him.
  • Kick the Dog: "I laughed when I heard that your cousin died, Niko!" Yes, Dimitri is a prick.
  • Knight Templar: Manny.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: On some of the missions, a perfectly acceptable solution is to just call the police and let them shoot the bad guys for you. For example, one Most Wanted mission has you kill a gang that's hanging around an alley with a lot of cover. Unless you are really good at gunfighting, this can be a tricky mission. So, shoot a few cops, take their police cruiser, trigger the mission on its computer, and train the police officers right into the same alley. Alternatively, you can just call 911 and ask for the police. You can summon several cars depending on where you are calling them to.
  • MacGuffin: A bag of diamonds and a large load of heroin drive much of the plot of all three games.
  • Made of Iron: Due to the more accurate physics of the game, Niko's ability to walk away from some things is pretty remarkable (like being hurled through the windshield in a crash, with the only thing stopping him being wrapped around the post of a gas station awning).
  • The Mafia: They show up later in the game, and (unlike their depiction in the III' era) are depicted as weak and racked by infighting. Ultimately, Dimitri plays them for fools.
  • The Mafiya: Mikhail is their top guy in Liberty City.
  • Manly Gay: Brucie. Even though he'll never admit it.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Dimitri Rascalov. With a name like that, is it any surprise he stabs you in the back? Especially since it seems to be a nod to Raskolnikov.
    • Niko Bellic, "Niko" means "no-one" or something close in many Balkan dialects, while "Bellic-" is a Latin stem for things related to war; i.e., bellicose.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Florian/Bernie, to the point where his hands almost never go below his belt line.
  • Moe Greene Special: A couple of characters go down this way. One is Lampshaded by a back-alley organ dealer, who complains about it since eyes can fetch a good price...
  • Morality Pet: Roman and Kate McReary for Niko, to a very limited degree.
  • Morton's Fork: The deal with Dimitri. Take the deal, and Kate leaves you and Roman gets killed. Instead opt to kill Dimitri, and Kate gets killed in a drive-by. You're screwed either way, and true to the game's Darker and Edgier tone, that's the way it has to be.
  • Mugging the Monster: Serial Killer Eddie Low, the terror of Liberty City (body count: a dozen or so) attacks Niko Bellic, freelancer "problem solver" (body count: a couple hundred at minimum). This action results in Eddie's swift death.
    • Sometimes used if you crash into a random civilian's car, and they're stupid enough to run to your car, pull you out, and then attack you. Shooting at them will usually cause them to flee, but some civilians may be armed and will fire back at you. Of course, they're still no match for you.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Subverted with the cashier of the internet cafe in Broker. Someone who calls Niko "Roman's cousin" probably isn't too great with names, but she does call him Niko after he tells her his name.
    • Played straight with Bernie Crane, who's name was changed from Florian Cravic.
  • Mythology Gag: At one point, Vlad greets Niko by doing the gun-finger gesture and going "Bang, you are dead!" This was how Vladimir greeted Max Payne in the first game.
  • Narrative Filigree: Setting aside the fact that this is a sandbox game, and thus is expected to have such material, the aforementioned trope is the (possibly only) appeal of the much-maligned friend activities/dates. Over the course of said activities/dates, Niko will engage in (often humorous) conversation with his friends/girlfriends, fleshing out not just the world and their characterizations, but his own as well.
  • The New Russia and Ruritania: The actual locations never appear in-game, but there are frequent references made to them, and many of the main characters are from there (Dimitri Rascalov and the Faustins are from Russia, Niko and Roman Bellic are Serbian, and the Albanians are one of the major gangs).
  • Nineties Anti-Hero: Well, 2000s actually.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Gubernatorial candidate Michael Graves is a fairly obvious Expy of Fred Thompson - the line about his "many bit parts on television shows" is a dead giveaway.
  • No Indoor Voice: Brucie. If he yelled while speaking personally, that might not've been much of a problem, but he yells even while on the phone with you.
  • No Party Given: Despite the game's extensive mockery of the American Political System, the word "Democrat" is never used, and the only use of "Republican" is in the title of the show Republican Space Rangers. However, it can be inferred that Governatorial candidate John Hunter and Liberty City mayor Julio Ochoa are Democrats, while deputy mayor Bryce Dawkins, Governatorial candidate Michael Graves, and President Joe Lawton are Republicans.
    • The word "Democrat" is actually used once in game, though it's kind of out of the way. If you search for the site whattheydonotwantyoutoknow.com, you will be brought to a site that shows where all the pigeons, text-order cars, hidden armor, health, and weapons are. Under the comments for the health, one states something to the effect of "The health was hidden by the Republicans for when the Democrats give everyone free health care."
  • Non-Action Guy: Roman.
  • Not So Different: When Niko confronts Darko and asks him why he killed their army unit for only $1,000, Darko turns the tables and asks Niko how much he charges to kill someone. (Early in the game? $500. Though that was per person.)
    • To be fair, while Niko Killed people, he hardly knew them and most of them were completely heartless save for a few rare examples. Darko however, knew the people he killed and was close friends with them, selling them out simply to get a fix compared to Niko who was torn up from the war and obviously was forced into most of his predicaments after getting off the boat. Neither of them are saints, but Morally speaking, Darko was the darker of the two shades of grey.
    • Darko's physical appearance also resembles that of Niko. It's actually quite creepy.
      • And the Name: Darko Brevic, Nico Belic.
    • Niko essentially says this to Dwayne when they first meet, telling him "You remind me of me."
  • Not Worth Killing: Played straight when the cutscene first introduces Florian/Bernie. Niko seems to take pity on him instead, and later on befriends him, more or less. Can be played straight with some other NPC's, such as Dwayne's ex, or Ivan in one of the early missions. And later with Darko Brevic, the man who Niko finds out was the real culprit in selling out and getting many of their friends executed. However, you can also kill him should you choose so.
  • Only Sane Man: Dimitri, as opposed to Mikhail's Ax Crazy.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Played straight (like in San Andreas), but also subverted: no matter how many times you ask, Kate will never sleep with you.
  • Papa Cousin Wolf: Niko would sodomize a dog for you if it paid well, but do not harm his cousin.
  • Parking Problems: Very subtly. Cars spawning in a parking lot seldom spawn directly within the lines of a parking stall. The developers could've been too lazy to line the cars up with the stalls, but knowing Rockstar it's more likely an extremely subtle way of mocking American drivers.
  • Pedo Hunt: "Little Lacey Surprise Pageant" is a Schmuck Bait site which the LCPD uses to lure in people searching for kiddie porn on the in-game internet. Visiting it gives you a 5 star wanted level.

Site warning: Your IP address has been cataloged and an investigator will contact you soon. We See It All. We Know It All.

  • Pity the Kidnapper: The kidnapping of Gracie Ancelotti.
  • Plot Armor: If a major character is killed, they are Only Mostly Dead and will later call Niko from the hospital. Rumor has it that minor girlfriends can be perma-killed, as in San Andreas (may be due to a glitch).
  • Plot Hole: After the release of the two expansion packs, fans at the official GTA forums were enthusiastic about setting a mission order so that the three stories fit together. Check yourself the result: 21 pages and they still haven't found a way to make a coherent plot.
    • Apparently the programmers forgot when designing The Ballad of Gay Tony that the mission "Have a heart" was a requisite to start with Packie's missions. Without that requisite, the missions would be very easy to order.
  • Plotline Death: The only way anyone stays dead permanently.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Some of the abilities unlocked by keeping Relationship Values up with friends and girlfriends come off as this. Packie's car bomb is rarely useful outside of a few missions that allow you an open window to approach your target's car instead of the usual obligatory Chase Scene. Even more egregious is Alex's ability to give you a discount on the clothes you buy, especially when compared to other girlfriends' abilities like Carmen giving you medical advice or Kiki clearing your Wanted Meter.
    • Also, some may view the reward for 100% Completion, which is simply removing the maximum limit on ammo capacity as more than a bit of a letdown. Not that it isn't useful, but considering that it's a reward for completing the game, it isn't much. Also, saving and reloading the game causes all the ammo you collected over the original limit to disappear.
  • Prison Rape: Lampshaded. Niko claims that the "Prison Bitch" is a uniquely American concept.
  • Production Foreshadowing: There is a ride at the closed Amusement Park in south Broker that is set against a backdrop detailing the last few scenes in the GTA V trailer.
  • Professional Killer: Niko explicitly refers to himself as a hitman. While the player can obtain top-of-the-line weaponry for him, dress him up in fancy suits, have him acquire high-performance sports cars, and let him juggle up to four beautiful girlfriends, at the end of the game, Niko is still a largely-anonymous, lonely, unfulfilled and ultimately irrelevant man just trying to survive, mostly by killing for a living.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Niko will do any job as long as it pays well, with a 0% 1% chance of him turning on you. Unless you try to hurt his cousin.
  • Punny Name: The club Mikhail frequents is named Perestroika. As in Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost
  • The Rashomon: Several of the missions, most notably the Libertonian Shootout which features in the main game and both expansions as you play it from the three playable characters' different perspectives.
  • Real Is Brown: VERY brown. Sometimes it gets so bad that the entire world gets whitewashed in an ugly grey tone.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mikhail is the hot headed, impulsive Red Oni and Dimitri is the cool headed, plan-making Blue Oni who tries to keep Mikhail from doing anything too stupid and/or ignoring his orders if it would be profitable to do so.
  • Rich Bitch: Alex Chilton, who is a clear Take That at Carrie Bradshaw. Not to mention Cloe Parker and Gracie Ancelotti.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Hostile Negotiation, as well as either possible final mission against Dimitri in the Deal ending or Jimmy Pegorino in the Revenge ending (Dimitri having been taken out two missions earlier in another Roaring Rampage of Revenge).
  • Rule of Cool: One of the stunt jumps requires you to clear the entire Hudson River.
  • Running Gag: Niko teasing Brucie about his testicles. In one case when he hears Brucie's reaction after he fails an Exotic Export mission, Niko says, "Brucie, are your balls OK? You sounded real mad."
  • The Scarpia Ultimatum: The UL Paper Company man forces Michelle to go undercover and maintain a relationship with Niko on threat of prison.
  • Scary Black Man: The majority of black men Niko meets are decidedly non-scary (consisting of a Rastafarian pot dealer, a self-absorbed rapper, and a rich and somewhat weaselly player/Playboy), but Ving Rhames ringer Dwayne Forge is quietly terrifying when he's not in the grips of depression.
    • Lil' Jacob's friend Badman might also qualify, due to being clearly unstable and nearly impossible to understand, especially when he's agitated (which is often).
  • Searching the Stalls: One mission climaxes with a guy you're chasing running in the bathroom and hiding. You have to shoot open stall after stall to get him.
  • Serial Killer: Eddie Low. Somewhat parodied in that, despite the serial killer plotline taking up a huge chunk of the game's backstory and in-game news, it actually has no relevance to the main plot other than a couple of short, optional encounters, and Eddie's handful of murders pale in comparison to the hundreds of (relatively) unreported gangland killings caused by Niko alone (the strip club massacre, anyone?).
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Jimmy Gestapo, the DJ for the punk station Liberty City Hardcore, rants at length about the extremely hard-drinking, hard-partying lifestyle that he feels punk should be. Also, Iggy Pop, the DJ for the classic rock station Liberty Rock Radio, talks about how a lot of the best music was made on drugs, and bemoans the fact that fewer rockers nowadays use them.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: A lighter example in the form of the sub-plots, namely, the whole diamond debacle, which was a massive waste of time for pretty much everyone involved. Multiple parties attempt to get the diamonds for themselves, and eventually some mook decides to drop the diamonds into a passing dump truck out of spite, so nobody gets it, since he's gonna die anyway. Niko and Packie discuss how it all went to shambles afterwards, and eventually decide the diamonds are probably better off in landfill anyway, since they seem to be incredibly bad luck... However, in a stroke of irony, in The Ballad of Gay Tony, it's Jerry Kapowitz who manages to get his hands on them and end up with the spoils, even though he was not involved in any way, and never even knew of their existence!
  • Shaving Is Science: Parodied with ads for the "Excelsior Extreme 9," a razor with nine blades. When seen on billboards, the thing looks like it will chew your face right off.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Occurs when an explosive (or a car) detonates close to you, even if it does no damage.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Niko hints at his backstory through conversations. Amongst other things:
    • He found his aunt raped and killed and saw eight of his closest friends lying dead in a ditch.
    • He once entered a village to find 50 children all neatly lined up against a church - all dead, with their hands chopped off.
  • Shirtless Scene: Courtesy of Brucie.
  • Shout-Out: "The Puerto Rican Connection", which is a lot like playing the famous chase scene in The French Connection. Furthermore, "Three Leaf Clover" is a lot like the bank heist in Heat.
  • Shown Their Work: Architecturally and visually, the resemblance of Liberty City to New York ranges from accurate to uncanny. Likewise, the careful attention paid to accurately representing some of New York's more obscure landmarks and neighborhoods, especially in the outer boroughs, takes Liberty City above and beyond as a NYC analogue.
  • Show Within a Show: Or rather, shows; you can actually watch TV shows in this game.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Roman's Indian cab driver absolutely despises Niko as a freeloader, and will spend the length of the ride berating you.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The story is ultimately a commentary on the concept of the American Dream. Niko repeatedly points out the corruption in Liberty City and how it contrasts with the idealistic image America usually protrays itself as. But at the same there is an underlying message about how people can get a new life in America and that, while people in America can fail, they can also achieve greater individual success than in other countries, which Niko grudgingly comes to accept, making the whole thing seem optimistic overall. Then the Downer Ending happens and the game goes crashing into the cynical side.
  • Smug Snake: Dimitri Rascalov. Also Ray Boccino, who tries to be a Chessmaster and fails miserably.

Niko: He's a rat doing an impression of a man.

Bernie (to Niko): You understand me! Both of me!

  • The Starscream: Seems to be a recurring theme throughout the game. Besides eventual Big Bad Dimitri Rascalov, you've got Playboy X, Francis McReary, and Ray Boccino.
  • State Sec: NOOSE [2]; though they are based on the Department of Homeland Security, which is supposedly not this in Real Life, they fit this trope in and because of the game's context. While serving as the game's high-level law enforcement response, it is also mentioned that they control customs and immigration matters, and were responsible for the city-wide lockdown early in the story, hinting at their political power.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: Either Kate or Roman (depending on which ending you chose) in the penultimate mission, to give Niko motivation for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the final mission. They really stick it to you. Earlier in the game while driving with Roman, Roman talks about how it would be nice if you settled down with Kate, and he with Mallory. No matter what, you don't get that dream.
    • Literally, in one of the subplot missions for Gerald McReary. There's an Albanian stuffed into the fridge, whose Clothes, Boots and Motorcycle you need (this is literally the title of the mission) to kill an unimportant Ancelotti, Frankie Garone.
  • Super Drowning Skills: AI NPCs shoved into the water will tread water for a few seconds, then abruptly drown (despite their heads remaining above water the entire time). Averted, of course, by Niko.
  • Supernatural Aid
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Mob boss Jimmy Pegorino's main complaint throughout the story. Over the course of the last several missions, it becomes clear that Jimmy himself ain't the sharpest bulb in the race either.
  • Switch to English: Very early in the game, Niko tries to speak to his cousin Roman in Serbian. Roman switches to English, because he has not spoken Serbian for so long that he has forgotten it.
  • Take Cover: The first GTA game to introduce a formal cover system. Aside from taking refuge behind the environment, you may also use vehicles as cover, though you may want to be cautious about doing so.
  • Take Over the City: Averted, and surprisingly so, considering how the installments that directly preceded it played out. At the end of the game, Niko is no better off, influence-wise, save for being responsible for the decline of two criminal organizations. Some would even say he's worse off by the game's ending no matter which one you choose.
  • Take That: The entire game is one huge middle finger against elements of America - primarily the right wing, though the developers do get in a few shots against the left as well.
  • Take Your Time: In a lot of missions, you can wander away from the action to go buy new guns, armor, and health and then return to continue the fight later.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: If you should choose to execute Darko towards the end of the game.
  • This Loser Is You: Independence Radio (the customizable music station in the PC version). "The future of American media! You... alone in a dark room, listening to music you stole off the internet."
  • Title Drop: The LCPD database gives Niko's criminal record as grand theft auto. The same is repeated for the player characters of the episodes.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Jimmy Gestapo again.
  • Universal Driver's License: Niko can drive cars, boats and helicopters with ease. It's likely that he learned these skills during the war.
  • The Unfought: Bulgarin again. Until The Ballad of Gay Tony.
  • The Unintelligible: Little Jacob at first, although you get used to his accent as time goes on. His friend Badman is even worse - even with subtitles he's difficult to understand, and Jacob has to actually translate for him even though he's technically speaking English.
    • Badman is so difficult to understand partially because even though individual words are coherent, most of his speech in game is repetitive, angry, paranoid ramblings about rival gangs. This is also because Little Jacob and Badman are speaking completely separate languages. Little Jacob speaks Rastafarian English, while Badman is speaking Jamaican Patois. While both dialects of English, Little Jacob's dialect is a hell of a lot closer to anything you're likely to actually comprehend.
      • And of course, poor Niko, whose grasp of English is good, but imperfect, has it worse. He doesn't get to see the subtitles.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Clarence Little, a drug dealer that Francis wants dead. If you let him live you can find him in a random character mission later... where he tries to kill you.
  • Water Is Dry: If Niko or any other character gets wet.
  • The War on Terror: Not an actual plot point, but it figures greatly into the game's setting and is mentioned (and parodied) a lot in the in-game media, particularly on right-wing broadcasts like WKTT radio and Weazel News. If you're attentive enough to listen to police chatter, you'll notice that whenever you detonate an explosive, the dispatcher always puts out a warning for "possible terrorist activity".
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Manny Escuela seems genuinely concerned with cleaning up the streets, but at the same time he's homophobic, addicted to publicity and not above manipulating Niko to make himself look good.
  • Wham! Line: For many, Niko's simple summary of his military experience in the Yugoslav wars.

"It ruined me."

  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ray Bulgarin. Killed by Luis in the final mission of The Ballad of Gay Tony.
    • Count on Michelle, too, after introducing to her boss.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Roman gives Niko a hell of a heartbreaking one after a series of questionable decisions by Niko leads to Roman's apartment and business being burned to the ground. Niko's done nothing but complain about life in America not being as sweet as Roman made it out to be, and Roman has to spell out to Niko that it took him a year starting from nothing to get a shitty apartment and cab business, making Roman actually successful at the American Dream or at least on his way to genuine success, until Niko came along and ruined everything within a week of being there. This doubles as an extremely successful What the Hell, Player?, as you can't help but feel bad having done the usual GTA thing as soon as you set foot in the city, acting like you owned the place while the people there were leading mostly fine lives until you came along.
    • Which is rather hypocritical by Roman as basically 3/4s of the plot revolves around Niko having to move Hell and Earth for gangsters all over town because of Roman's gambling problem. If Niko hadn't showed up, Roman would have lost all his property anyway and possibly ended up Sleeping With the Fishes.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Playboy X.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Brucie's website keeps reminding you to BE GENETICALLY DIFFERENT by modding cars, using steroids, becoming fit, getting plastic surgery, buying fancy clothes, etc.
  • The Yugoslav Wars: Niko is a veteran of these.

Notes

  1. both are names of Native American tribes in the Northeastern US
  2. The National Office Of Security Enforcement