Niko Bellic is a contentious character. Easily the most level-headed, thoughtful, and empathetic protagonist in the series, many fans were bowled over by the more serious, drawn out, and downright human character in Grand Theft Auto IV. At the same time, though, many fans were unable to separate this relatively sane, reasonable character from the actions he committed in the game. Whether free roaming or following the trajectory of the story, Niko frequently engages in bouts of mayhem and mass life taking, causing unimaginable grief for those he directly effects with his actions and the inhabitants of Liberty City at large.
Niko is the perfect protagonist for the most divisive game in the series. Again, much like Bellic himself, GTA IV splits the series' fans straight down the middle. Some (like the author of this article) loved the more serious and dramatic style of the game and its story, embracing the gritty realism as an affirmation that this is the most immersive, and possibly the best game in the whole series. Others, however, lamented this change and were dismayed by the stripped-down gameplay and straight-faced narrative, especially when juxtaposed with the chaos and frantic gunplay. There is no doubt that these detractors have a valid point, and when scrutinized thoroughly, it is hard to accept that someone with a past and present as violent as Niko’s could also maintain that same level of poise and self-reflection. Therefore, in this list, we are going to look at some of the things that make Niko Bellic, at times, a walking contradiction.
Warning, this article contains MAJOR SPOILERS
25 Niko Would Never Fall For Roman's Stories
If there’s one thing about Niko’s character that’s constant throughout the game, it's his cynicism. Forged through war and violence, Niko has developed a naturally pessimistic outlook on life, rejecting the possibility of future happiness and prosperity.
It’s amazing, then, that his cousin Roman’s emails detailing his luxurious life of mansions, sports cars, and women didn’t raise any alarm bells in his mind. Instead, he travels from Eastern Europe to live the U.S. lifestyle with his cousin. Who knew Niko’d be that naive?
24 Niko's Relationships Don't Make Any Sense
Sister of “Packie” McReary, and dater of Niko Bellic, Kate is the only member of her family (mother notwithstanding) who isn’t a criminal. She’s an almost angelic counterpart to Niko’s chaotic violent life and they soon fall in love, with Niko overtly expressing his desire to be exclusive with her. It’s ironic, then, that the GTA game whose protagonist has a consistent partner also allows for the most freedom to pursue other women, whether through online dating or other means. We could imagine Tommy Vercetti playing the field, but not Niko!
23 He Also Wouldn't Blindly Follow Orders
During a mission with associate Phil Bell, he and Niko discuss following orders. Bell, the compliant soldier, believes in doing what he’s told, while Niko, a hired gun, acknowledges that this must be done, but not always, and never blindly.
However, it's ironic that earlier in the game, Niko took out the son of the powerful Kenny Petrovic via employer Mikhail Faustin’s orders, in spite of Dimitri Rascalov’s pleas not to do so since it could (and did) lead to huge personal and professional repercussions. Hypocrite much?
22 His Allegiance To Some Characters Makes Zero Sense
Niko aligns himself with some questionable characters. However, they usually serve him somehow, like helping him find those he’s looking for or forging personal or professional relationships.
Trey Stewart doesn’t really fulfill any of these for Niko, aside from paying him. He’s also the most unlikeable of Niko’s employers and is basically Niko’s polar opposite: boastful and disloyal. The only benefit of their relationship is that Niko can inherit his penthouse if he decides to take him out for his former friend Dwayne, speaking of which…
21 Potentially Eliminating Dwayne
If Trey is one of the more repugnant characters that Niko deals with, Dwayne Forge is one of the most genuine, as far as criminals go that is. Just released from prison, Dwayne has lost everything: his money, his “business,” and even his woman. Niko, who helps Dwayne get back on his feet, feels a kinship with him as his downtrodden persona reminds him of himself. That’s why it's baffling that Niko even has to think about who to take out between him and Trey. It’s nice to have options, but c’mon!
20 The Lost And Jermaine Is Too Ridiculous For Words
This is as much of a knock at Rockstar as it is at Niko himself. Early on in the game, Niko picks up a fare for his cousin's cab business and the customer’s name is Jermaine, who knows Roman personally. During the mission, Niko drives him to a deal that turns out to be a setup, helping familiarize the player with GTA IV’s wanted system. Aside from this, Jermaine is charismatic, loyal, and knows the streets, making him a potentially great character and contact for Niko who, surprisingly, never meets him again.
19 Why Does Niko Seem So Unhappy With His Friends?
The ability to socialize with a friend in GTA IV is one of the most divisive elements of the game. Some people find it an inconvenience, while some feel it adds an extra element of immersion and realism to it.
What’s curious, though, is how Niko doesn’t seem to enjoy the company of his friends. Brucie is hilarious and a fan favorite, but Niko can't seem to stand him. Even characters like Roman and Dwayne seem to vex Niko more than relax him. With friends like that, well, we’ve seen his enemies…
18 Michelle Never Would Have Been Able To Trick Niko
That Michelle ends up being a government informant who betrays Niko is not totally far-fetched (he is an active criminal after all), but Niko not being able to spot it sooner is a little harder to believe.
If you go on enough dates with Michelle, her questions, which pry into Niko’s personal life, do have a touch of interrogation and desperation about them. Now, I was fooled, but I’m merely a law-abiding civilian. How a street-savvy, intuitive veteran of war and criminality like Niko was so oblivious to it is mind-boggling.
17 The Whole Teddy Benavidez Thing Is A Bit Silly
There are various missions in GTA IV where Niko is told to take out a rival or an antagonist of one of his employers. One of the features of the game is Niko’s ability to either go through with the order or spare the individual. During one mission, Niko must take out Teddy Benavidez, who’s holding out on funds to his boss and Niko’s employer, Ray Boccino. After eliminating his soldiers, Niko confronts an unarmed, defenseless Benevidez, but, unlike other situations, he’s not given the choice to spare the man.
16 Yeah, The Eddie Low Business Is Silly Too
This is another example of surprising naivety on the part of Niko. Eddie Low is one of the random strangers Niko encounters in the game. He is also the serial eliminator that you hear about on the radio.
Niko encounters him twice, but he should’ve learned during his first encounter that Eddie isn’t quite right. Helping him is bad for two reasons: one, it's repugnant; two, it’d be hard for Niko to stay under the radar if he’d gotten implicated in Low’s “hobby.”
15 It's Too Late For The High Ground With Jeff
This is another random character that Niko helps with his devious actions. Jeff believes that his wife, Shirley, is involved with someone else and asks Niko to follow and photograph her, which Niko agrees (mistake number one).
When Niko suggests that the man with his wife is just her friend, Jeff ends her a few days later anyway and asks Niko to help him cover it up (mistake number two.) Later, when Niko refuses to take care of Jeff’s second wife under similar circumstances, we feel it’s a little too late for him to take the high ground!
14 GTA5 Just Makes More Sense Than 4
Just because something is a staple in the series, doesn’t mean it makes sense. About halfway through the game, Niko starts accepting hits from a stranger through a payphone. While Niko certainly isn’t above that kind of work, taking it from someone he hasn’t met, where they could be a cop or something else, is bizarre. He gets paid for it, but we don't know exactly how.
In GTA V, Franklin takes these missions from Lester, someone he knows and trust, a dynamic that would’ve made more sense here too.
13 General Mayhem Isn't Niko's MO
Free roaming is one of the most intricate parts of the GTA franchise. It is a key element of the sandbox genre and for many players, it is just as important, if not more-so, than the missions themselves.
For some of the series' protagonists, like Trevor, CJ, and Tommy, engaging in unscripted, heavily-armed mayhem with the civilians of their cities as targets doesn't feel hugely out of character. However, for a man like Niko, who has a semblance of a conscience and tries to avoid civilian casualties (unless he's paid enough), free-roaming mayhem just doesn't suit his persona.
12 Why Does Dating Boost His HP
GTA IV is the game in the series that prides itself most on its realism, from the story it tells, the missions it provides, and even the in-game physics. As previously mentioned, Niko can date various women in the game, and some of these women eventually unlock perks for the player (like a side-mission!). If you date one of these women, such as Carmen, for long enough, you can ring her and get an 80% health boost. That's right, she can heal you with the sound of her voice. Now, we love a foreign accent, but this is a stretch.
11 Lecturing Roman
Roman has a wagering problem that we know to be true. His incessant betting has lead him to squander much of Niko’s money, gotten him beaten up, and taken by Niko’s arch nemesis, Dimitri. Niko insists on reminding and scolding his cousin for his behavior and, in a way, rightfully so.
However, when Niko arrived in Liberty City, his continued criminal activity lead to Roman’s home and business being burnt down, as well as several beatings and an injury to the stomach. Perhaps he shouldn’t be so sanctimonious…
10 Benefiting From Roman
Niko finds his cousin’s U.S., can-do attitude and aspirations annoying. As mentioned in the introduction, Niko is a pragmatist and a pessimist. So, when Roman buys a mid-town apartment with Niko’s money, his cousin is initially irritated with Roman’s purchase.
But, he uses it to rest, save his progress, and keep his three-piece suits. He also takes advantage of Roman’s self-made cab business (free of charge), and the first woman he dates, Michelle, was introduced to him by Roman.
9 Does He Want To Start A New Life Or Not?
Another thing Niko took advantage of is Roman’s hospitality. Sure, he lied about the lifestyle he led, but he still put a roof over his head and helped him escape Bulgarin in the Adriatic. So, how does Niko repay him? By falling, almost instantly, back into a life of crime and hits for money or revenge. Niko protects his cousin to be sure, but none of these instances (at least at the beginning) warranted Niko taking the lives of others. But, he did it anyway, starting the vicious cycle all over again because he’s “good at it.”
8 Niko Takes Way Too Long Finding Florian
The entire story of GTA IV is about Niko tracking down Florian Cravic and Darko Brevic, his former comrades in the wars, to see who sold out their squad to enemy forces. The problem is that it takes Niko so long to find Florian, who he knows is in Liberty City. It seems everyone knows him, even under his new alias: Bernie. Roman played cards with one of his friends! It’s better for the pacing of the game that it took him ages to find him, but it makes no real sense.
7 He Can Also Hold Infinite Weapons For Some Reason
Another staple of the series here, but one that has bugged players since GTA III. Niko can only hold one of each weapon type at a time. The only problem is that these include handguns, SMG’s, fully-automatics, sniper rifles, explosives, and melee weapons.
Considering that Niko spends most of the game in a tracksuit top, Niko must either have some deep pockets or magical powers, which make these weapons appear out of nowhere.
6 Why Can He Handle Every Vehicle With Ease?
Niko’s driving ability can vary depending on who’s controlling him. If you’re apt with the controller in your hand, he’ll glide to traffic and navigate turns like a pro; if not, then he’ll crash into everything like Stevie Wonder in an F1 car. How Niko is able to drive a boat with no previous experience, and moreover, a helicopter, is harder to believe. I’ve never driven a 'copter before, but I’d imagine it requires a lot of training.
5 Kindness To Strangers
Niko is probably the most compassionate of all the GTA protagonists. He treats his dates gracefully, has the capacity to spare lives of those he’s been ordered to take, and has a general air of civility about him that is lacking in other characters across the titles. So, when strangers in the game approach him with their problems, it shouldn’t be too surprising that he’d be inclined to help. That said, these times often put Niko in physical danger as well as being captured. Not very street smart on his part.
4 No Planning Required?
One of the best and most iconic missions in GTA IV is “Three Leaf Clover.” All GTA games have at least one big heist mission, and this one has to rank up there with the best of them.
One major difference between this mission and other jobs in the series is planning. All the other games had pre-missions where you set up the heists, which prepared the character and built anticipation. However, in GTA IV, all you get is a text from Packie telling you to bring a suit. No more information for a bank robbery is required apparently…
3 The Vlad Effect
Niko disposes of people in the game prior to Vlad, but they were mostly minor players and of little consequence or influence. Vlad, however, is connected to Faustin, who’s connected to even more serious people, which means his demise set a lot of the bad things in motion and created a major turning point. The motivation? Vlad is involved with Roman’s girlfriend, Mallorie. And although Niko was aware of the whole situation, he became involved once he found out Roman “cared.” We would’ve just stayed out of it.
2 Niko Would Never Be Loyal To McReary
That a criminal like Niko would work for Francis, a crooked cop, and Derek, is unsurprising. When Francis asks Niko to eliminate Derek and he has to choose who to spare isn't so surprising either as it's only business after all, right?
Well, when you factor in that their other brother, Packie, is one of Niko’s closest friends, and that Niko is dating their sister, Niko’s insistence that no-one question his loyalty seems pretty hollow.
1 Forgive And Profit?
Dimitri Rascalov serves as the biggest antagonist in a game filled with antagonists. He informs Ray Bulgarin, the man whom Niko fled Europe to escape from, of his whereabouts and takes Roman in order to carry out several attempts on his life.
This makes it all the more baffling when the player has a choice to work with Dimitri at the end of the game, compromising his principles and vows of revenge. This is not like the choices in the game to spare other people's lives, this is actively working with a sworn enemy for pure greed.