There have been more conspiracy theories and speculative discussion about the Grand Theft Auto franchise than any other video games in recent memory. Yes, there have been games - albeit only a select few - just as acclaimed as those in the GTA series. And yes, there have been games (well, game really, in the form of the mega-shooter Call Of Duty) that have reached similar levels of fandom and commercial success. That being said, no other franchise has had both the consistent adoration of critics while simultaneously receiving the same approval - and disposable income - of gamers.
Speculation surrounding the next installment in the series, presumed to be titled Grand Theft Auto VI, is rifer now than it's ever been for any other GTA title. The reason for this is twofold: firstly, the series reached dizzying new heights of popularity with the release of GTA V in 2013 which it’s still enjoying, and secondly, release time between titles has gotten longer with each subsequent release since GTA III, the game solely responsible for beginning the GTA craze still in motion today.
Now, while gamers and writers have been hypothesizing for years about the next game - where it’ll be set, what will feature in it - the series has always be subjected to theories and rumors, some of which turn out to be true, most of which don’t. So let’s delve down the rabbit hole with our tinfoil hats and look at some of them!
23 Fake: Niko Bellic Sleeps With The Fishes
A common rumor that was floating around for a while. In theory, Niko could be robbing banks in the great metropolis in the sky, considering we haven’t seen nor heard of him since GTA IV. While Lester’s GTA V musings about an Eastern European in Liberty City who “went quiet” only seemed to give clout to the speculation. However, given how closely the two games took place, and how a secondary character like Johnny was given a “proper” send off, we doubt that this would be true and not be addressed.
22 Fake: The Demon Trevor
A theory here which we could imagine some people believing. Of all the protagonists (and antagonists for that mater,) Trevor is by far the most psychotic, violent and deranged. So when rumors circulated that he’s actually a demon in human form, it wasn’t exactly surprising. And while his actions and his special ability - a red mist which allows him to take less damage and deal out more - seemingly backs this is, his loyalty, love and occasional empathy for others, as well as human relatives, ultimately squashes this theory.
21 True: The Rockstar Shared Universe
While we cannot definitively say that ALL Rockstar and GTA titles take place in the same universe, we have some pretty irrefutable proof that many of them do.Here are some examples: Michael De Santa grew up in Carver City, where the Manhunt games are based. Niko writes that he went to school in Bullworth Academy, where Jimmy Hopkins of Bully was sent, on his fake CV. And Franklin has a book entitled Red Dead, written by none other than John Marston, on his bookshelf. Que Twilight Zone music…
20 Fake: Michael De Santa Is Tommy Vercetti
One of the more premature theories on this list on account of the fact that it came out BEFORE the release of GTA V. When the trailer for the latest GTA game was released way back in 2011, fans all over the world were naturally salivating. What they were also doing was speculating who the (then singular) protagonist shown was. A huge number of people were absolutely convinced it was Vice City protagonist Tommy Vercetti, as he had a striking resemblance to him, sitting atop a mansion home. Obviously, it turned out not to be him.
19 Fake: Michael De Santa Is Claude
Another rumor about Michael is that he’s actually Claude from GTA III. Not much is known about Claude, but the fact that he kind of looks like Michael (and Tommy Vercetti for that matter) and grew up in Carcer City near Liberty City has brought many to this conclusion. However, this cannot be for a number of reasons: firstly, Claude is silent, and Michael certainly is not. Secondly, Michael has a family, and although he isn’t the worlds greatest husband, you’d think upon being busted out he’d run back to them!
18 True: Icons Of Rap
San Andreas is one of the most beloved GTA games not solely for its huge open world, litany of weapons and crazy missions. It’s also popular due to its protagonist and his friends' striking resemblance to the iconic rappers of 1990s L.A. on which the game is based. Some characters, like C.J. and Sweet, are more visually ambiguous. However, there is no denying the physical (an named) similarities of character Big Smoke to (technically east coast) rapper Biggie Smalls, and of Ryder to N.W.A member Eazy E.
17 Fake: It’s All A Movie
One theory that some players have subscribed to is the idea that all the protagonists in the GTA games are actors who are starring in movies which are played out by the gamer. Since many of these games are heavily inspired by film - most notably Vice City’s nod to Scarface and Miami Vice - there is just too much going against this. These are open world games where you can, and are encouraged, to go off-script in chaotic tangents. Also, why not characters in a simulation? These are video games after all!
16 Fake: Training Ground
GTA V is, as previously mentioned, a media juggernaut. It’s success was a foregone conclusion. The level of success it achieved, however, was unprecedented. A huge factor in its continued success, if not its initial success, was GTA Online. Some people suggest that the online mode is designed to follow gamers, gather data on their activities and use this information to create the next GTA game. However, online play is random, laggy, and inconsistent, and as we just said, no one could’ve predicted how huge the online feature would become to be used this way.
15 True: Epsilon Is Based On A Cult
The Epsilon Cult in GTA V, which Michael can find himself slowly becoming a member of if he chooses to follow a lengthy side mission, is a clear and obvious parody of cults. Shrouded in secrecy but, open to getting new members, it requires of its followers a huge financial commitment for entry and ranking up, as well as devotion to the movement. Regardless of your opinion of cults, it is known for the expenses it incurs, its secrecy and the devotion it demands of its members. Kifflom!
14 Fake: Business Plot of 1933
Going totally down the rabbit hole which is way beyond not only the scope of GTA but the scope of reality too. The Business Plot of 1933 is a conspiracy theory that US president FDR was overthrown by the wealthy elite to usher in an age of rampant consumerism. Now, GTA games are centered around making money, and have alluded to conspiracies, but given its original incarnation as a top down run-and-gun, and the fact that this hasn’t been referenced once, we can safely debunk this I think.
13 Fake: Slow Ride
A theory probably invented to explain away a schism in the realism of the GTA universe. When you strike a pedestrian or a police car with a vehicle, the cops, naturally, give chase. However, driving dangerously, way over the speed limit or run a red light, the police couldn’t care less. Some people believe that this is because you’re actually moving - and driving - very slowly because a minute in GTA is a second in real life. As everyone else is subjected to the same warped version of time, this theory hardly holds water.
12 Fake: All Eyes On You
Ever capped someone in a GTA game in the middle of nowhere, only to have a one star wanted level and a cop on your butt within 10 seconds? Is this because the best cops on earth exist within the GTA universe? Well, no, according to one theory, all pedestrians are micro-chipped by banks and insurance companies to monitor their vital signs and whereabouts, so when you flat-line them those institutions - as well as the police - are notified. Is this true? Not likely because, well, it’s never mentioned in any of the games!
11 True: Michael, Franklin, and Trevor Are Descendants of John Marston
Now, this may not be strictly true in a purely biological sense, however there is an intrinsic Al link between the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption and the three main characters in GTA V. That link is the ‘Dead Eye’ feature in Red Dead which allows John Marston to slow down time to target his enemies all while diminishing damage to himself. Franklin can slow down time while driving, Michael can do the same while shooting, while Trevor can enter a rage mode which increases accuracy and lowers damage. Not exactly a DNA test, but still quite a coincidence!
10 Fake: Discriminatory Police
Corrupt cops have been a staple of many GTA games. Francis McGreary in GTA IV uses Niko to help him cover up his illegal activity, while Officer Tenpenny - the main protagonist of San Andreas - controls CJ through his corrupt activities. The theory, however, that cops in GTA V discriminate against Franklin more-so than Trevor and Michael based on his race is not only totally unfounded, but has even been debunked by RockStar themselves. So the SJW gaming community can rest easy…
9 True: Generational Protagonists
Another one here that we’re giving the green light to as it can be seen more as a metaphor than a solid fact. This one suggests that the protagonists in GTA V represent the three generations of GTA games. Trevor, with his chaotic rampaging and random violence, represents the more primitive, arcade-y first generation. Franklin’s rags-to-riches story is comparable to second generation characters like CJ and Tommy, while Michael represents and old, retired gangster tired and jaded after three generations of criminality and madness.
8 Fake: Ratman
One here that is way out there with no evidence to back it up. The legend of Ratman has permeated the GTA universe since GTA III. The legend goes that deep within the sewers of the cities, Ratman - a half man half rat hybrid - roams around and attacks players. Reports of sewer rats on GTA III radio and orange blood are used as evidence towards the existence of this monster. What isn’t used as evidence? Any actual footage or verifiable proof!
7 True: Goatman
The potential for this to be true is strong, however we could understand people being skeptical about this. Goatman, like Ratman, is a mythical creature that exists within the mythos of GTA. However, unlike Ratman, there have been some genuine clues to the existence of Goatman in San Andreas. These include discarded goat skulls and a variety of shrines dedicated to and depicting goats also. So as to the question whether or not he is real? Given the signs of worship, we’re gonna say, at the very least, the invisible NPC’s in San Andreas believe…
6 Fake: The Legend Of Loch Ness
Vice City is arguably the most visually striking game in the series: bright neon, flashy clothes, and even flashier cars, the 1980s inspired take on Miami is a sight to behold, and holds a special place in the hearts of fans. So it comes as no surprise that we’re not initially drawn to the surrounding ocean (not least because we can’t swim!) A legend, though, suggests that lurking within the water lies a gargantuan Loch Less-eque creature. But, since there is no tangible proof whatsoever, we can safely bury this rumour at sea.
5 True: Online Fate
GTA Online has not only contributed to the success of GTA V, it has singlehandedly kept the gaming on the shelves and in the charts for over half a decade! And why not? Your online character has the ability to cause maximum mayhem and build an empire in Los Santos. So the idea that your avatar has either passed or being incarcerated prior to the events of GTA V is probably true, given the fact that you encounter many of the stories characters but don’t feature anywhere in the campaign in spite of your criminal prominence.
4 False: Enemy Of The People
Have you ever noticed how sometimes during a mission everything seems to go wrong? Your in a high speed chase with the cops, when a car pulls out right in front of you, and when you finally manage to get away to lie low, a pedestrian walks underneath your car, reinstating your wanted level. One theory suggests that this is because the NPC’s in the games are out to get you! It’s a nice thought, but let’s be honest, you were most likely driving like a lunatic!
3 True: O.G. Loc Shakur
Ok,I admit it, I’m going rogue here! It is common opinion among GTA fans that wannabe gangsta O.G. Loc from San Andreas is based on rapper Ja Rule, as many hip hop fans hold him and his tendencies towards the poppier side of Hip Hop in lesser regard to other more pure rappers. However, Loc’s appearance (including prominent stomach tattoo), voice, and references to attending drama school and having no criminal record prior to having a vinyl record are all applicable to Tupac, and not Ja, as hard as it may be to accept.
2 False: Jimmy, I Am Your Father…
This is more funny musings of fanboys with too much time on their hands than anything else, but it’s fun to mention it regardless. Jimmy De Santa’s mother’s promiscuous past is alluded to heavily throughout GTA V. Jimmy, much unlike his father, is a lazy hermit who spends most of his time sitting playing video games. You know who else this sounds like? His criminal partner Lester! Is there a scintilla of truth to this? Absolutely not. But hey, they kinda look alike!
1 True: False Flags
The fact that we have written this list, and many like them, is indicative of the amount of time gamers have invested in these theories, and the amount of thought you the reader have given them! Therefore, it is highly conceivable that the rumors of Ratman, Goatman, the the beating heart in the statue of happiness in GTA IV, the allusions to space aliens and paranormal activities in GTA V, and the literal Easter Egg found in Vice City, are a testament to Rockstar’s sense of humor at our expense.