Grand Theft Auto V is an absolutely enormous game, filled with hours upon hours of content, story, and an expansive map to explore. And, like the most popular of open-world games, theories abound regarding the secrets of the map, the motivations of the characters, and the internal logic of the game's world.
Theories regarding Grand Theft Auto V have been around since the game released back in 2013, but even today, we are no closer to unveiling or realizing the truth regarding these unanswered questions. Some character motivations remain tantalizingly obscure, forcing the players to come up with reasons and excuses as to why a certain character performed a certain action. Some things like mysteries or Easter eggs littered throughout the map have led to endless debate and discussion online as devoted players try to crack the secrets. And other things, such as inconsistent logic within the game's universe, have led players into making up excuses to explain away various aspects of the gameplay.
But those aren't the only theories regarding Grand Theft Auto V. Sometimes the players go a little high-school-English-class and debate the meaning of various symbols and apparent metaphors. In other words, sometimes a phone is not just a phone – sometimes it reveals hidden depths to the characters, or even represents a thematic concept that Rockstar was attempting to capture.
Please keep in mind that these theories are just those – theories. There is no consensus or universal agreement regarding their veracity, but at the same time, they're obviously popular enough to warrant a place on this list. So let's get into it and (attempt to) debunk some of these theories!
24 The Three Characters Represent Three Generations Of GTA Players
We're going to start with this theory, simply because it's a very popular and fiercely-held belief within the GTA fandom. According to many, many people, the three protagonists of GTA V represent three generations of GTA players. You have the experienced GTA player who gets sucked back into the glamour of the series, represented by Michael. Then you have the player who just wants to experience a good, traditional rags-to-riches GTA story, represented by Franklin. And finally, you have Trevor, the completely unhinged maniac who will do everything and anything to cause destruction. Also known as "most GTA players."
23 The Epsilon Program Is A Spoof Of Scientology
The Epsilon Program is a religious cult that permeates the GTA universe but is seen most prominently in GTA V. This is because the player, as Michael, has the option to integrate themselves into the cult. While there, you donate large sums of money for "educational tools," search for aliens, and meet famous celebrities who are members of the cult. You can also hear on the radio that the cult's founder, Cris Formage, was seen crying on the courthouse steps after being ordered to pay taxes. While nothing is definitively concrete, it is STRONGLY theorized that Epsilon is modeled after Scientology and that Formage is a stand-in for its leader, David Miscavige, who made the Church of Scientology exempt from paying taxes.
22 The Game Is Set In The Same Universe As Red Dead Redemption
Are all Rockstar games connected? This theory certainly lends credence to the idea. A book titled "Red Dead" by author "J. Marston" can be seen sitting on Frank's bookshelf. While this is likely just a cute Easter egg Rockstar threw in to honor their acclaimed video game, players have theorized that GTA V takes place in the same universe as Red Dead Redemption. The J. Marston is none other than Jack Marston, who wrote a book about his father John's criminal life and eventual path to redemption. The book was a huge success and is still in print as of 2013, and Franklin owns it because he sees something of himself and his situation in John.
21 The Mount Chiliad Mural Is There Simply To Troll Players
Rockstar loves peppering their games with tantalizing mysteries and Easter eggs, and they know that their fans know this. Enter the elusive Mount Chiliad mural, which could be there for no reason other than to troll the secret seekers. And it seems to have worked. Players have been agonizing over the mural for half a decade now, with seemingly no end or concrete answers in sight. Sure, it looks interesting and could lead to further secrets, but let's be real here – Rockstar devs are known trolls, and this time, we may have been the victims.
20 Michael Is Claude
Is Michael the silent protagonist from Grand Theft Auto III? No, probably not, but it's still fun to consider! There's a theory out there, however small, that Claude met Trevor sometime after the events of GTA III and eventually decided to settle down from his life of crime by betraying his contacts and entering the Witness Protection Program. The timeline checks out, as Claude seems to be in his late 20s or early 30s in 2001, and Michael is around 45 in 2013. No one knows why he suddenly decided to start talking, but hey, people grow up and try different things all the time!
19 The Creatures
If there's one theory that continues to abound, it's that mythical creatures inhabit the worlds of Grand Theft Auto. This mostly started around the time of San Andreas, when players claimed that Bigfoot roamed the forests. This theory has continued into Grand Theft Auto V, as players have reported seeing multiple mythical creatures, from the Ratman to Goatman to (yep, you guessed it) Bigfoot. Rockstar even acknowledged this famous theory by implementing Bigfoot into a mission as an Easter egg, but of course, this only added fuel to the theoretical fire.
18 The Game Takes Place In The Underworld
Since the dawn of Grand Theft Auto, the series has been criticized for its relentless violence. But perhaps it all makes sense. You see, we're not controlling dangerous madmen in a world just like our own – we're controlling sinners in an Underworld full of them! The world of GTA V is filled with greed, selfishness, unchecked power, and, yes, endless carnage and mayhem. Perhaps these vices abound not as themes or social commentary, but because we're literally in an Underworld full of vice and sinners. This also explains why the playable characters don't permanently pass away – they're already gone!
17 San Andreas' Citizens Are Monitored By Life Insurance Agencies
Do you ever wonder how the police and ambulances are so quick to respond? One Reddit user has an intriguing theory. Every citizen in San Andreas has been implanted with some sort of life monitor, possibly in exchange for a reduction in their insurance rates. Therefore, when you eliminate a random citizen, their life monitor flatlines and immediately notifies the authorities, hence the immediate response. This also helps explain how they are notified of a crime despite it taking place in the middle of the desert. There are no magical witnesses or an omnipotent police force – it's the life monitors!
16 We Aren't Speeding
It's a tradition in this series to drive fast and recklessly. And yet no matter how fast we drive, we are never pulled over. While players have always excused this as a simple gameplay mechanic (being pulled over for speeding would get real old real fast), perhaps there's actually an in-universe explanation. Another Reddit user points to the fact that one second in real time equates to one minute in game time, so while it may seem like we're speeding, we're actually just experiencing a weird time fluctuation. Of course, this doesn't explain why everyone else is driving so slowly, but we didn't say this theory was perfect...
15 The Rampages Take Place In Trevor's Head
Rampages are a Grand Theft Auto tradition, and in the fifth official installment, they are rightfully experienced by Trevor. However, it's possible that these rampages aren't literal acts of violence – perhaps they are all in his wild, substance-addled brain. It's bizarre to think of the authorities letting Trevor off after his rampages, especially after he directly attacks the military. Perhaps these rampages are nothing but a form of wish fulfillment or stress relief for Trevor whenever he encounters a situation or person he doesn't like. He simply imagines an invigorating path of destruction before taking a breath and simply moving on.
14 Ron Trashed Trevor's Trailer
The mission Nervous Ron begins with Trevor finding Ron and discovering that The Lost MC has trashed his trailer in retaliation for the attack on their headquarters. But perhaps it wasn't The Lost – it was Ron. Ron is relentlessly bullied by Trevor, and as such, lives in a constant state of paranoia and fear. Perhaps Ron saw his opportunity and trashed Trevor's trailer as a form of therapy and anger management and used The Lost as scapegoats. Perhaps Ron is the secret mastermind behind this whole operation!
13 Franklin's Father Is In Sandy Shores
On the corners of Marina Drive and Armadillo Avenue in Sandy Shores is an NPC named Clinton who raves about his time in the war (probably Vietnam). Naturally, some people have theorized that this could be Frankin's absent father, given that he is black and shares the same surname. Perhaps Franklin's father fought in 'Nam and developed a relationship with Franklin's mother before collapsing under the stress of his experiences and retreating to Sandy Shores. Franklin's mother then took to her own vices to deal with the stresses of his collapse, and her newfound status as a single mother.
12 Lester Is Zero
Anyone who has played San Andreas remembers Zero as the nerdy guy who gifted us the pleasure of Supply Lines (which is probably the worst mission in GTA history). While we were all happy to leave Zero in the past, it's possible that we weren't so lucky. Perhaps Zero grew up, became afflicted with a terrible disease, met Michael and Trevor, and became "Lester Crest." Their ages match up (Zero is probably in his 20s in 1992, Lester in his 40s in 2013), they're both good with technology, and they both have nasally and high-pitched voices. We don't know why he turned to such a blatant life of crime, but you never know – perhaps that's the story of GTA VI?
11 Trevor Moved To Vinewood To Troll Michael
If there's one thing we know about Trevor, it's that he loves to troll his friends and acquaintances (well, that and the fact that he's a madman.) In the Online DLC Smuggler's Run, Ron mentions to the player that Trevor has "gone Vinewood," implying that he is now a shallow and greedy individual. As we all know, Michael lives in Vinewood and has clout and connections in the movie business. Maybe Trevor never stopped his trolling ways, moved to Vinewood to be closer to Michael, and continues to ruin his life by interfering in the movie business. It would be just like him.
10 The Police Are Wrong
Excessively angry and unnecessarily violent cops are another staple of Grand Theft Auto that we've all grown to accept as a simple gameplay mechanic. However, some players have posited that the cops of GTA V are insanely corrupt and discriminatory, hence their violent tendencies. A simple traffic infraction will often lead to a massive shootout, which in turn will lead to your inevitable demise and some substantial hospital/jail fees. Perhaps the police forces and hospitals are all in on this together, and the police are so trigger-happy because the outlandish jail and hospital fees provide a steady income stream.
9 Option C Is The Canonical Ending
At the end of the game, Franklin is left with three choices – Option A is to eliminate Trevor, Option B is to eliminate Michael, and Option C is to team up with both to eliminate their shared enemies. Option C is often seen as the canonical ending not only because it makes the most sense (and because C represents "canonical") but because a piece of promotional artwork depicts the three characters looking into the trunk of a car, mirroring the finale of Option C. And, as mentioned previously, Ron states that Trevor moved to Vinewood after the events of GTA V, implying that Option A is definitely not canon.
8 The Three Protagonists Represent Different Play Styles
Similar to the characters representing different GTA fans, the characters could also represent three specific playing styles. Michael represents the player who willingly commits felonies for money and basks in their riches – apartments, houses, weapons, you name it. Franklin is the story-driven player who just wants to experience an adventure and maybe work their way up the crime ladder along the way. This player typically resorts to violence only when necessary/when the story demands it. And finally, there's Trevor, who of course represents the casual GTA player who simply loves to generate carnage and mayhem.
7 Trevor Has Bad Driving Stats Because He Represents A Typical GTA Character
Going off the previous theory, it's possible that Trevor has bad driving stats because he represents the chaotic Grand Theft Auto player. The GTA series is famous for its sandbox approach, and as such, players have been driving like total maniacs since the first game's release back in 1997. Terrible and incredibly dangerous driving is simply a part of Grand Theft Auto's DNA. Therefore, it makes sense that the character representing the chaotic evil within the player also has terrible driving statistics.
6 The Characters' Sleep Patterns Represent Their Personal Lives
Some eagle-eyed players have noticed that the characters sleep for different lengths of time – Michael sleeps for six hours a day, Franklin for eight, and Trevor for twelve. This is not just a random gameplay mechanic – it directly correlates with their personal lives. Michael is constantly stressed and lives in a noisy house, hence only sleeping for six hours. Franklin is relatively healthy and adjusted, hence sleeping the recommended eight hours. And Trevor sleeps for twelve hours because he's very energetic and likely needs to sleep off various stimulants.
5 Their Phones Represent Their Personalities
OK, last "x represents their personalities" entry, we swear. Each character has a specific phone – Michael has the iPhone equivalent, Franklin an Android, and Trevor a Windows/Nokia. Of course, Michael owns an expensive iPhone because he's wealthy. Franklin owns an Android because he's both young, able to keep up with the complexity, and not as well off. And Trevor owns a Nokia because he just doesn't care about current popular trends/brands or because he needs a sturdy phone due to his chaotic lifestyle. Nokia, of course, is famously sturdy and reliable.
4 Everyone Perishes In Options A And B
If the player goes through with Option A or B, they may have doomed the characters, because both endings most certainly lead to the end of every protagonist. In Options A and B, either Michael or Trevor are taken care of on the behest of either Steve Haines or Devin Weston. However, there's little chance that Steve and Devin would allow the survivors to live. This is a life of crime, and the survivors would only represent dangling loose ends that require tying up. There's no happy ending when it comes to options A and B.
3 Brad's Bullet Was Meant For Trevor
In the game's prologue, Michael is hit, Brad is disposed of, and Trevor escapes. This was most definitely NOT the plan. Some fans believe that the mission was to go as follows – Mike gets shot and fakes his passing, Brad is wounded and taken to prison, and Trevor is disposed of for being too unpredictable. However, the plan was botched when Brad stepped directly in front of Trevor during the getaway and took Dave Norton's bullet in his place. Trevor survived and escaped, leading to some massive headaches for both Michael and Dave down the line.
2 Michael Is Heavy By Vinewood Standards
Throughout Grand Theft Auto V, Michael's mass is repeatedly judged, despite being relatively healthy for a male adult. Even if he is a bit on the flubbier side, he's definitely not unhealthy. So why do people constantly give him flack? Is it just a running joke? Nope! Well, yes, but there may be more to it. Some fans believe that Michael is made fun of because he lives in Vinewood, and he's considered unhealthy by their vain standards. Yes, this is a running joke, but it's also some nice social commentary aimed at the vanity and shallowness of Hollywood.
1 Trevor Disposed Of His Father
Trevor did not have the happiest of home lives while growing up, and he holds particular disdain for his father. During the mission Hang Ten, Trevor tells Debra that his father "was not nice to [him]." Later, when Debra kicks him out and threatens him with a gun, Trevor again says "you people are not very [bad word] nice" right before he... um ... disposes of them. It's interesting to note the shared language and Trevor's hatred towards the respective characters, and it raises the possibility that Trevor "disposed" of his father in a similar manner.