With recent reports that Rockstar plans to release the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto 6, there are so many things fans want from it, including a dynamite main character. The side missions, storyline, open world, and gameplay are all important, but who controls the gamer is a big deal.
While fans loved it Grand Theft Auto III, going with a silent protagonist was questionable. Niko Bellic and the trio of GTA V are all great in their own way, but there is something special about CJ van Grand Theft Auto San Andreas† The complex character is iconic and has a valid argument as the franchise’s best main character.
He can throw a savage diss
“Are you a professional idiot or just a gifted amateur?”
Grand Theft Auto is a franchise that has always been known for its dark humor. The games can always find comedy between things like violence and betrayal. CJ did this as well as all the other protagonists in the series, even in small moments that have nothing to do with the main storyline.
For example, this particular rule can occur at almost any point in the game. If a car hits CJ while he’s driving it’s one of the reactions he can give and it’s the perfect kind of diss. He yells at the person but also doesn’t insult them in a way that feels overly offensive like these games have in other cases.
He is versatile
“Do I look like a gangster? I’m a businessman.”
One of the coolest things about San Andreas was that it added the ability to do things like buy real estate. That made it so that CJ was no ordinary criminal. There was more to him and it shows in this rule that he can throw out from time to time.
CJ may literally be a member of a gang, but he’s far from just a mobster. He’s a businessman and while later protagonists have also been able to buy real estate and expand their portfolios, it can be hard to top the original, which is only part of what makes CJ great.
He stands up to corruption
“Officer, untie me immediately!”
There is no doubt that the main characters in these games do terrible things. Part of the appeal of this franchise is committing crimes, doing violent things and having free reign to do as you please. Since the game doesn’t shy away from that, it makes known criminals more sympathetic than those who lie about who they are.
This makes Officer Tenpenny the best villain in the franchise. As a police officer, he’s supposed to enforce the law, but he’s more corrupt than anyone else. If he handcuffs CJ early in the game and lets you know he’s going to be a jerk, CJ yells at him to stop this. He knows it won’t get him anywhere, but he won’t shut up about it.
His sarcasm is top notch
“Lady I’m A God Fearin’, Peace Lovin’ Man Of The People!”
Again, the comedic aspect of the Grand Theft Auto series rears its ugly head when it comes to CJ. This is another quote he randomly hands out when certain things happen casually in the game and not as part of a specific mission or storyline.
If your antics upset a woman on the street, she may scream in fear or even say something to you. CJ responds with this line showing his sarcastic side. CJ can be many things, but no matter how you play the game, there’s no way he’s a man who likes peace. That sarcasm is part of why he’s so nice.
He has rules that play on GTA critiques
“Don’t blame me, blame society.”
Since the franchise really exploded with Grand Theft Auto III in 2001 it came under fire. The violent and sometimes sexual nature of the games has led to groups blaming it for crimes that take place in the real world.
GTA has only used this to fuel much of what it has done. The series is unabashedly itself and CJ’s line capitalizes on this. He commits some terrible acts and if you do one and people get angry, this is a possible reaction. CJ blaming society for his actions is clever feedback on how the controversial GTA franch is being viewed.
He references some of the game’s coolest concepts
“I’m a well-dressed maniac.”
In addition to buying real estate, San Andreas made big waves for adding so many little things you could do during the game. You were able to gain and lose weight, go to the hairdresser and buy clothes, giving you a deep wardrobe if that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in.
It added the role-playing elements of the franchise and deepened the game in a great way. CJ mentions that when he does something wild and it’s a very… GTA thing to do. He could talk about his level of violence or just that he’s a maniac, but adding the well-dressed part is the icing on the cake.
His house is important to him
“Grove Street. House. At least it was, until ALS turned everything upside down.”
The setting hasn’t always been so important to the protagonist of these games. Claude didn’t say anything, Niko wasn’t from Liberty City, and Tommy didn’t have much of a connection to Vice City, to name a few. That is not the case with CJ.
As soon as he delivers his introductory speech, CJ makes it clear that Grove Street is his home. There’s also a backstory here in just a single line about how he did something that made him feel guilty. It’s that kind of layered writing that has made CJ so complex. Plus, the connection to Grove Street made players feel something as they defended it.
He has an iconic line
“Ah, S**t, here we go again.”
Of course no quote from San Andreas is more famous than this one. It feels like something that time would have forgotten because it has no real resonance in the story. It’s just CJ saying it’s going to be tough again.
It’s certainly fitting considering where the storyline is headed, but it’s become iconic due to a barrage of memes about it. People use it for almost every pop culture meme that makes them feel like they ever felt in the past. It has become synonymous with CJ.
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