The Grand Theft Auto games are some of the best told crime stories you’ll find in video games. Instead of just going for a quick bang-bang kind of plotline, GTA games are well thought-out and drawn out just long enough to conceive a full bodied story. The series isn’t trying to glamorize any aspect of the criminal lifestyle and often reminds the players just how deplorable the acts they are committing are. But one place where it’s strongest is in the characters used and presented throughout the series. There are very few characters in the franchise you could honestly call good people, especially those involved in the main storylines. But have you ever thought about who’s the worst?
The world that Rockstar sends players in is not one of good and evil or black and white but many moral in-betweens. The constant struggle to achieve the American Dream through the visage of the crime underworld presents the player with the many greys involved with leading that sort of life. But even in a series where the protagonists themselves aren’t so strong of character, there are plenty of secondary characters and antagonists that outdo them in the scumbag department. With that said, let’s take a look at the 15 biggest scumbags in GTA.
Warning: Some of these contain SPOILERS so watch out.
15 Dr. Friedlander
Psychiatrists are trusted with the well beings of their patients. They are doctors and in a way protectors of the human psyche. For those within a fragile mental state, there’s no one they’d trust more – and it’s the job of the psychiatrist to reciprocate that trust. It is here where Isiah Friedlander fails on the fundamental level. Throughout the events of GTA V Friedlander appears sporadically, often in cut scenes involving Michael. Michael pretty much unburdens himself to the guy while he receives nothing more than a few vague and half-assed remarks and diagnoses in return. Something seems off from the get go, but it reaches its peak at the end of the game where Friedlander lets slip that he’s leaving town and will be using Michael’s stories as a basis for his newly launched television career. You can kill the guy or let him be, but we all know you did the former.
Radio personalities are really hit or miss. They have to be able to retain their audience’s attention for extended periods of time while not seeming too toxic or obnoxious in the process. While GTA has hosted a surplus of radio personalities over the years, none have stood out quite like Lazlow has. Based off of real life radio personality Lazlow Jones, GTA’s Lazlow is a tough character to sympathize with. While we’re sure that his real world counterpart is a great guy, the fictional radio host we’ve all come to know over the course of several games is a washed up has-been that has a knack for getting on everyone’s bad side with his obnoxious personality.
13 Jimmy De Santa
We could’ve made this entry surmise the entirety of the De Santa family, but upon further review we decided to go with the youngest member of the family; Jimmy. Truth be told, that entire family is one hot mess. But among them, none are as deplorable as Jimmy is throughout the game. He’s a lazy, half-assed stoner with no ambitions who blames every problem and shortcoming he has on others and is completely unable to admit to his own failure in any way. Basically he’s a parasite. An ungrateful parasite actually. He’s the epitome of a douchebag in the GTA universe. Let’s not forget that this is the guy who drugged his father, left him out in the middle of the road and stole his car in the span of thirty short seconds.
12 Manny Escuela
There are plenty of good causes to fight for. Activism – when done correctly, that is to say when actually rallied behind a legitimate cause and not a social movement, is a very decent thing to dedicate your time to. However, as is with most that falls under the public sphere, you’re going to get some shams out there. In contrast with many other Grand Theft Auto characters, Manny Escuela is a reformed criminal looking to clean up the streets. He runs a sort of sting operation except without the trained professionals and guns, which he substitutes with his incoherent babbling and the presence of a lone camera man. But Manny is more interested in attaining fame than helping out his cause. His efforts are shallow and often last for just about as long as the camera is rolling.
11 Vlad Glebov
Vlad Glebov is the first introduction players get to the greasy kind of scum they can expect to find within the main story for GTA IV. Compared to the other antagonists that introduce themselves throughout the story, Vlad’s a tiny stain on a dirt rag. But still a stain nonetheless. A low level mobster high off the power of his superiors rather than his own, Vlad possess no likable traits. He’s a bully and is often times violent with those under him. Niko gets the brunt of his grunt work from Vlad, which shows that he’s at least a little connected, but surely not enough as he claims to be. Plus he was caught sleeping with Roman’s girlfriend – a sleazy thing to do and one that ultimately got him killed.
10 Devin Weston
From a low level slime ball to a corporate douchebag, Devin Weston plays a big part as one of GTA V’s main antagonists. In contrast to Vlad, Devin is actually present throughout a good chunk of GTA V. His influence in the financial world is made clear early on and we get a pretty good idea of what kind of character he is upon first meeting him. Like any other corporate big shot in the GTA Universe, Devin is a complete prick who isn’t above walking over all around him. He puts on a pacifist front, but quickly shows his true colors with the slightest bit of provocation. The worst part is that this scumbag has a 2 in 3 chance of making it out alive. However, his death scene is so sweet it more than makes up for everything.
9 Jerry Martinez
Authoritarian figures have never gotten much love in the GTA series, often getting pegged with antagonistic roles in the story. Among them all, Jerry Martinez is one of the biggest SOBs among them. An army man, Martinez seems like he’s of stout character based on appearances, but really isn’t all too great a guy. Despite his allegiance to the United States Army, Martinez is crooked – often partaking in drug distribution, soliciting prostitution and other offences. He also got Victor kicked out of the army and used him as a grunt in his criminal side projects. Let’s not forget that this snake is also responsible for Louise’s death. Like most on this list, Martinez go what was coming to him and it wasn’t soon enough.
8 Frank Tenpenny
Continuing on the theme of authoritarian figures abusing their powers, we move on this time to the classic crooked cop trope. But of all the characters we’ve seen adopt this trope, Frank Tenpenny is by far one of the worst. An aggressive presence since his introduction, Tenpenny was responsible for making CJ’s life a living hell. By framing him for murder, Tenpenny had CJ under his thumb and used him as fodder in his criminal dealings. His illegal dealings included, but were not limited to, murder, drug dealing and gang association. He was one of the architects of the drive by shooting that killed CJ’s mother and got off relatively easy in the end.
7 Lance Vance
This one’s a tough sell because Lance Vance actually starts off as a pretty decent character when he’s first introduced. When we first familiarize ourselves with Lance, he’s kind of introduced as not being all there. But what little neutrality you have for him soon goes away as he starts to get addicted to cocaine and gets more and more pompous as time goes on. Eventually, Lance forms a friendship of sorts with Tommy Vercetti. Though more of a partnership, the dynamic seems to work, but Lance soon earns the ire of every fan in the GTA fandom. His turncoat nature is revealed as he sells Tommy out, prompting a last stand kind of scenario where he is properly disposed of.
6 Steve Haines
As great of a game as GTA V was, there aren’t a ton of likable characters to go around. One thing Rockstar seems to do really well is create scummy characters that people can relate to while pitting them against equally objectionable antagonists to draw out the ire of the player. While Steve Haines certainly isn’t the greatest evil in the series, he’s still kind of an ass. A government agent, Haines routinely abuses his power and prioritizes his own personal gains and advancement of his career rather than national security. He’s also very conceited and cares a good deal about his public image, though of course it’s all fabricated through lies and half-truths.
5 Trevor Phillips
This is the first and only protagonist we’ll have on our list, as well as the last scumbag from GTA V to rear in their ugly heads. At first, Trevor seems like your textbook psychopath. Easy to anger, violent, wild temperament – the works. But as we go through the game it’s clear that he’s a more nuanced kind of psycho. After all, he is one of the game’s main protagonists, so he gets a decent amount of character development. But despite all this, people like to give Trevor a free pass, seeing as how comically insane he is at times. But should you flip over the chessboard and put Trevor on the opposition, all his acts come off as pretty terrible. Torture, various murders, selling out hitchhikers to cannibalistic mountain cults – the list goes on. He might be fun to play as, but the guy’s a grade A scumbag.
4 Francis McReary
Among all the characters on this list, Francis McReary is the most comparable to Frank Tenpenny as both are corrupt cops who, rather than clean the streets up through conventional means, use a shoot first approach that leads to multiple deaths and mostly serve to further their own careers and blanket their own wrongdoings. Francis is involved in pretty much everything you can think of. He’s well into blackmail and extortion and is no stranger to assassinations – especially in regards to the loose ends he leaves around the city that can jeopardize his police career. But what really makes him stand out as a scumbag is the fact that he wanted his own brother – his flesh and blood - killed to cover-up one of his many screw-up’s.
3 Big Smoke
The list of betrayal and general greasiness continues with the addition of Big Smoke to our collection of dirtbags. Smoke is seen as a confidant for the majority of San Andreas in which he’s fit into something of a mentorship role. Not only is he CJ’s friend, but he’s one of Sweet’s closest childhood friends and trustees. That makes his betrayal all the worse. It is revealed later on in the game as possibly one of the biggest twists in the series. Smoke sold out the Grove Street Families and began working for the Ballas on the side, dealing drugs and aiding them where he could. His most reprehensible act by far though is spearheading the drive by intended for Sweet, that instead got Beverly Johnson instead – setting in motion the events of San Andreas. It’s like turning your back on family. You don’t turn your back on family.
2 Derrick McReary
The worst of the McReary brothers and a general pathetic life form all around. Derrick McReary was no peach prior to his drug habit, but turned out considerably worse after he started abusing heroin and cocaine. By the time the player is introduced to him, Derrick looks like he’s more accustom to a park bench than a warm bed. Derrick seems level headed at first and initially makes a good impression. But he’s a completely different person when he’s high and that’s a majority of the time we see him. He’s quick to hightail on his morals and gets incredibly violent and agitated at the drop of a hat. He’s also sold out more than one of his friends and colleagues in order to lessen the severity of his punishments. In the end, Derrick is just a pathetic drugged out, two faced scumbag.
1 Dimitri Rascalov
We’ve gone through a lot of different kinds of scum on this list. It started off light, with characters with generally crappy behavioral traits and attitudes, but gradually has shifted to a more severe and deplorable kind of scum. Among all the murderous, disloyal backstabbers on this list, Dimitri Rascalov is by far the worst of them all. Dimitri is a rat. He plays it safe from the shadows, moves around some pieces and watches everything unfold from a safe distance. However, if too much heat comes his way, he’s quick to act and isn’t above sacrificing his friends to gain more power and see another day. Truly a deplorable human being.