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For specific games:


For the series in general:

  • Acceptable Religious Targets:
    • The Hare Krishna appear as pedestrians in the first game and as one of the gangs in the second one, putting the "Targets" in Acceptable Religious Targets.
    • Conservative Christians in Vice City.
    • A certain real-life religious movement gets this in San Andreas.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Many characters' actions, personalities and motivations can be interpreted in any one of several ways.
  • Anticlimax Boss: Most of the bosses are very easy in comparison to the hordes of mooks you fight to get to them. Justified in that, while they may be criminal masterminds, they are still human.
  • Broken Base: Following IV, the fanbase seemed to have split into two directions -- those who missed the more over-the-top style and player customization of the past games (particularly San Andreas), and those who preferred the more realistic tone of IV. A good deal of the former crowd has gravitated to the Saints Row games, which is why you don't hear them as much. There was also a brief split after it was announced that the protagonist of San Andreas would be a black Gang-Bangers from South Central (complete with claims that Rockstar was trying to pander to the tastes of pasty suburban white boys), although that rift healed pretty quickly after San Andreas was released and the "ghetto" parts turned out to be some of the best parts of the game.
  • Catharsis Factor: Running down pedestrians and blowing stuff up can be very therapeutic.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: Advance. Neither its characters nor plotline are referenced in the rest of the series, and many fans either deny its existence or do not even know it exists.
  • Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch: A perennial victim of this, thanks to the likes of Jack Thompson, who during a VGXPO debate stated that the whole point of the series was to kill as many cops as possible. The all-gamer crowd quickly told him how wrong he was, and he responded, "I thought this was going to be a friendly debate."
    • And despite what you may have heard from the moral guardians, there is no "rape" option in the games (nor do any of the player characters ever rape anyone), and there is no particular focus on "killing hookers" in any of the games.
  • Complete Monster: Even in such a Crapsack World, these two characters manage to stand out as the evilest:
    • Donald Love of the 3D Universe is a wealthy media mogul with a taste in human flesh and corpses. Introduced in Grand Theft Auto III as an Affably Evil mission giver who orders Claude to cause a war between the Cartels and the Yakuzas to lower the real estate's prices, he reveals the true scope of his depravity in Liberty City: Stories where his deviances are shown. Running for mayor when the current one is killed under Leone's unofficial patronage, Love has caporegime Toni Cipriani terrorize and kill his opponents, as well as rigging the vote to give himself a better chance of succeed. Still failing, Love plans to regain his fortune and, for this, has Cipriani murders his former mentor in order to steal his plans for Fort Staunton, and after that has the whole neighbor blown up to smithereens by Cipriani alongside its thousands of inhabitants. Plagued by an insatiable Greed with no care for anyone but himself, Love is one of the most corrupt character of the whole saga.
    • Avon Hertz of the HD Universe is a Misanthrope Supreme with the ultimate goal to purge humanity and create a world inhabited by machines who would worship him as a god. Sending the Grand Theft Auto Online's protagonists into various suicidal missions to further his plans in secret, Hertz eventually betrays them and tries to kill them by blowing up the submarine they were in, and later by sending his personal armies made up of clones of himself after them. Hertz attempts to have his advanced AI, Cliffford, launch nuclear missiles across the world, beginning with Los Santos and the surrounding countries. When the protagonists manage to shut down Cliffford by infiltrating Cliffford's compound before he could launch the missiles, Hertz tries to escape retribution and to blow up the protagonists. A colossal narcissist, Hertz distinguishes himself from all the others antagonists by the sheer ruthlessness of his goal, which is to commit the ultimate genocide.
  • Epilectic Trees: some fans have given in order to support the idea that IV and Chinatown Wars are set within the same canon as the previous games, rather than an Alternate Continuity. Among them is the claim that there are actually two Liberty Cities, the one from III and the one from IV, explaining away the vast differences between the two depictions of the city. The fact that these cities and their inhabitants do not seem to have ever heard of each other, in spite of the fact that both are large cities located on the East Coast, and even when places like Vice City and San Andreas are frequently mentioned on radio and TV, doesn't occur to them.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Saints Row.
  • Goddamned Bats: Not literally, but Taxis and Police cars apply. The former can occupy the whole road at times (especially annoying during races). While tiny scratches on Police cars can make them onto your ass immediately.
    • Regular civilians also count since they have the tendency to hog the road, spawn in front of you while driving, jump into your incoming vehicle and make abrupt turns. Anyone of these acts can jeopardize your current mission and they will do any of these acts randomly at any given moment.
  • "Grand Theft Auto" Effect: The Trope Namer. The games are very well-known for their soundtracks, particularly Vice City. Also, it's tough to listen to Lazlow's radio show without thinking of his work with the series.
    • Funny thing is, you can avert this trope in the PC games, which install a folder in your Documents folder (where usually your saved games go), in which you can stuff as many MP 3 as you want and/or recycle its content ever so often.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Realistic steak" is this at the GTA Forums, as a parody of both the increasing trend towards realism taken by the series and the demand by some fans that it go even further in that direction.
  • Older Than They Think: GTA III was not the first open-world game. Zelda, for example, predated it by well over a decade, and there are probably some text games that are even older. Hell, it's not even the first 3D open-world game; that honor goes to Body Harvest, a game that came out on the Nintendo 64 three years prior, and was in fact made by the same studio that made all the GTA games. One may argue that it was the first 3D open-world crime game, but once again, Driver, a game that came out in 1999 on Play Station, beat it to the punch.

    Similarly, people mistakenly thinking that the series began with GTA III, despite the rather obvious presence of the number three in the title.
  • Rated "M" for Money
  • The Scrappy: Most fans aren't too fond of the GBA release, though it is popular among those who like the old-school games.
  • Sequel Displacement: Many people only know that III was the third game in the series by virtue of the big Roman numeral III in the title.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Many of the minigames have this effect.
  • Spiritual Successor: The 3D games are this to Body Harvest, DMA Design/Rockstar North's previous 3D open-world game.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: III. The games before this were rather mediocre action titles that were only distinguished by their open worlds and controversial content.
  • That One Level: As good as the games are, each one has quite a few missions that are so frustratingly hard that they're sure to make you want to hurl the controller through the nearest window.
  • That One Sidequest: Paramedic missions. Completely optional, but doing them gives the player character a permanent health boost. You can't repair the ambulance at all during the mission, the slightest nudge can kill the people you're trying to save, and (until Vice City Stories) you can't save your progress -- if you mess up on the last level, you have to start from the beginning! However, each completed Paramedic mission does restore the health of the Ambulance to some extent, making life a little easier.
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