5 Tear-Jerking Moments From The Grand Theft Auto Series

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Most people do not associate Grand Theft Auto with tears. For the most part, people look at is as an apocalyptic (just in the sense that some of us kill everything in sight) sandbox where anything is possible, and nothing is too absurd to try at least once. For the most part, I would agree with them.

A perfect example of embracing that zaniness is something that I’ve been doing for the past two days: hunting deer with a golf cart. No, not IN a golf cart. WITH a golf cart. In other words, I take to the mountains as Trevor, steal a golf cart, drive around until I see deer, and then I try to run them over with the golf cart. It may sound juvenile, because it is, but it is also fun as hell. But if you take a moment to look past that frivolity you will see that this is a game series that, at times, bares its soul and leaves the player breathless in its wake.

If you think about some of the best games of the last decade, sadness played a part. Loss played a part. On top of that, the last two games that Rockstar made before GTA V (L.A. Noir and Red Dead Redemption) BOTH feature (SPOILER ALERT) main characters who die at the end of the game, regardless of how well you played it.

So it is safe to say that Rockstar knows just how big an impact a tear-jerking moment can have on a gamer. As a matter of fact, I am still upset about John Marston, and would like us all to observe a moment of silence for one minute, right now.

The reality is, it is very hard not to get attached to characters you have spent forty plus hours with, so to see them get smoked can be rough, but it is a necessary step to strong narratives. If death was not a set back of theworld you are in when you play these games, what would be the point? The best games build us up only to break us down at some point further, just like the medium of film. And people can scoff if they want, saying that games won’t ever touch the medium of film, but how many movies have made $800 million dollars in one day? What is that? Say it louder, now.


So let’s avert our eyes from the insane stunt jumps for a moment. Let’s stop taking silly selfies of Trevor for a second. Let’s stop getting Michael high because he ends up bugging out and it’s hilarious. Instead, let’s talk about those quiet, sad moments that we experienced in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Though there are NO spoilers for GTA V on this list, there will be for other entries, but it’s all good. Not like any of us could ever go back to any of those after Rockstar’s latest, right?


1) Having To Kill Smoke In San Andreas

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Man, this game sucked me in. San Andreas is the game that most people talk about in the same way you talk about a favorite lay. It is like your eyes just sparkle when you talk about this game. Why? Because San Andreas, pre-GTA IV (as I have said before) was easily the best and most fun Grand Theft Auto game around. You really felt like CJ by the end of the game, and depending on how you played, your CJ even looked differently than the CJs your friends were playing as. My CJ was ripped, had a giant afro, and wore the stupidest clothes I could find. But that was half the fun, feeling like it was YOUR game. But man, San Andreas had some killer twists, eh?

I know that by the time you killed Smoke he was a bad dude who made his real motives quite clear, but regardless of that, Smoke was your boy. You don’t need to know thug life to understand that being forced into a situation where you have to kill one of your friends is not an easy place to be, and even though you knew he was just coding and not an actual person, there was something oddly tragic about the moment you have that shootout with him in the final stage.

I don’t even think it was so much killing him as it was the conversation you two have right before he dies that got me. It felt honest, like you were prying in through a window, looking at a personal interaction you had no right to look in on. It felt intimate, and it was one of the few moments in a GTA game where you felt like the violence that you were up to your neck in had some ramifications.

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2) The Lost and the Damned Ending

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What did you expect from a Sons of Anarchy-inspired add-on? That show is all rape, death, betrayal, and violence (which is just why we like it), and The Lost and the Damned DLC for GTA IV was the same way. There were, in fact, so many moments of betrayal and double-crossing here that I probably could have filled this list with just that piece of DLC, but considering only myself and like, three other people played it, not too many of you are going to know what I am talking about here, so I won’t go into too much depth. Just enough to intrigue you. Obviously if you intend to play this DLC at some point, stop reading now.

By this point in the game, you have pretty much lost everything you loved, and everyone who you cared about has betrayed you. There are very few members of the Lost and Damned motorcycle club left, you just killed a crucial character and yourself and the remaining members of you gang decided to just torch your clubhouse. You stand there, off to the side, as your haven slowly burns to the ground. It may seem simple enough, but all the shit that your character Johnny had to endure in this DLC was rough, and this was like the nail in the coffin.

Oh wait, no. The nail in the coffin is when in GTA V  Trevor beats Johnny to death. I won’t lie, I found that pretty shocking.

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3) Roman Dies In GTA IV

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This is the big one.

That one moment from GTA IV that hit everyone in the gut. We may all have complaints about the game, but now that we are playing GTA V, we can safely say that they have all been addressed. One aspect of GTA IV that was really interesting was the dynamic of your relationship with your cousin, Roman.

As much as he was a pain in the ass, and was always calling you, and always needed to be entertained, and was always getting into shit, and wasn’t really good at anything, and lied to you about what American as like so you would come out to stay with him, and pretty much doubled all the bad shit you experienced in GTA IV, Roman was still a hard character not to like.

Maybe it was his innocence. Maybe it was his nativity. Maybe it was his awful style in clothing, and the awesome way he called you “cousin” every time he saw you, in that crazy Eastern European accent. Who knows, but even if the character annoyed you (which was, believe it or not, the point of Roman), it was still incredibly sad to see him get snuffed out.

Granted, depending on how you played the game, this scene played out in two ways. You could have experienced the “Roman dies” ending, or you could have experienced the…

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4) Kate Dies In GTA IV

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So if this was a classroom, and I needed to ask you what you learned from GTA IV, what would you say? I would say that, no matter what you do, or how you live, or how many problems you fix, someone you love is going to die.

You see, dependent on a single choice you made, you either have to deal with the loss of your fat, joyous cousin, Roman, or your chick whom you loved and could see building a future with, Kate. The real irony here is that you had to choose. Keep in mind, it wasn’t like they were both tied to chair with a gun to their head, and you literally had to choose which one gets shot (man, that would be badass, by the way).

No, rather, which one died and which one lived all came down to single choice you made that either involved cutting a deal with someone, or seeking revenge on them. But even when you chose, you really had no way to know that your decision would mean the death of a loved one. That is heavy stuff.

So really, it is like a Michael Haneke movie. It is nihilism and hopelessness, no matter what direction you choose to spread the jam. I know that sentence was kind of weird, and I am okay with it.

Quick cheat sheet if you ever play this game again. The second time Dimitri asks if you want to work with him, if you take the deal, Roman gets shot at his wedding, but if you choose revenge, Kate takes the shot. Like I said, either way, death abounds. So figure it out. Would you rather get laid, or have some family around? Really, that is all it breaks down to. You make the choice.

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5) Goddamn Internet Spoilers About GTA V

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You see what I did there?

You thought I was going to talk about some other major character dying in one of the older Grand Theft Auto games. Or perhaps, you thought I was going to bring up having to double cross someone or kill a character you liked (Dwayne)? Maybe you thought I was going to be ironic and bring up the phone again. I suppose any of those would have worked, but right now, I am crying for a whole different reason.

You see, right now, as a gamer, we need to understand that some other gamers are dicks. They derive joy from spoiling little aspects of the game for other people because it makes them feel powerful. So if you are playing GTA V like I am, you may want to avoid social networking until you have beaten this game. I am not kidding.

As a writer, I get sent articles, pitches, ideas and videos, and I like that quite a bit. My inbox always has something new coming in, and I have many editors who like it when I stay on top of certain games, and make sure I am writing articles that are tuned around those ideas. The problem with that is, for example, this week I had an editor email me and ask me if I would address the (I am actually censoring what was asked of me, so as to not spoil it for anyone else who is playing and is not there yet) and I lost my shit. What he asked me was to address some hype around a certain mission in GTA V where you do something rather questionable. No, it is not the mission everyone is talking about involving cannibalism. Instead, I am talking about the part where (again, totally censoring myself for the sake of all of you) and when I found that out, I was pissed.

That is a MAJOR plot point, and it was ruined. Ofcourse, all I had to do was dip over to Facebook to see that people were already posting about this mission, and so even if it hadn’t been spoiled earlier that day, it would have been anyway, and I think THAT is the biggest tear jerker at all about this series. The simple fact that everyone thinks everyone else beats it at the same pace, so they just talk about it freely.

Note, I did NOT do that anywhere in this article, and for that, you’re welcome.

Ah, screw it, Michael gets raped by an alien. Send all hate mail here.

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  • Ray

    Shit spoiler bout Trevor beatin Johnnie Boy ;<