The thing is though that SR3 and 4 was MEANT to be ridiculous. It's not like GTA V where the story attempts to take itself seriously even though they've got a character like Trevor who is the exact opposite of a serious story and they try fit that in by making him butt hurt over Michael's 'betrayal'. He's a big reason the story is the mess that it is.
In general there's a similarities between Trevor and the SR protagonist in the fact they are destruction happy lunatics but GTA tries take such a concept and think how it can work in the usual tone of a GTA story and honestly it doesn't work because such a concept is ridiculous.
As for comparisons to SR2, sure it's similar but there's no meaning to the Aztecas or the O'Neil's and all the meaning The Lost had was in TLAD and oh yeah they are the ones being screwed over so people who do know what their meaning is aren't going to be too thrilled by some shallow character ripping it apart.
The SR series might be silly and ridiculous at times especially 3 and on but it works mostly because they don't attempt to do anything else and they actually develop their characters most of the time. Point is, you know what you're getting into. GTA V as Drunken Cowboy's 'thread of the year' tells us didn't know what the hell it was supposed to be. Identity Crisis indeed...
You know, if Trevor was really an out of control, chilling maniac it could have worked. I think there is a place for character like that in HD Era. One of my favorite Trevor scenes is the opening cutscene of Fresh Meat. Sure, it starts with "LOL TREVOR TRIPPED AND FELL ON HIS FACE, SO FUNNY" joke, but everything after that is one awesome performance by Steven Ogg. In that cutscene, I really took Trevor for a sick, dangerous psychopath Michael was talking about before his actual apperance in the story. His introduction mission, controversy aside, is also a good example of how he should have been portrayed throughout the game.
But then you have Wade. And Debra and Floyd. And Patricia. And Trevor, who could have been a great character is seriously damaged. R*'s push to make Trevor likable by making him a Saints Row-ish lunatic hurt him really bad. It's another example of R* catering to the public too much and compromising their own artistic vision in the process. At least I think, and hope, it is. I want to believe that if R* really wrote Trevor the way they wanted, without being afraid of turning the audience away, humor would be still a part of his character, but it would be much blacker and depraved sense of humor. Like that scene where Trevor arrives to bring news of Johnny's death to Terry and Clay.
You can see how hard R* tried to portray Trevor in more positive, forced "But he is just a wacky, funny nutjob!" light when you put him in comparsion to Michael and Franklin. Michael really shines, because R* showed him without any compromises - he's fleshed out, complex and R* weren't afraid to properly stress his negative traits along with positive ones, without handwaving them away or playing them for laughs like with Trevor. Franklin doesn't get much screen time, but he was treated seriously and written without writers holding back or being stopped by editorial mandates too.