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Grotti Vigilante

Which protagonist had the best motivation?

Of all GTA protagonist, which one had the best motivations?  

30 members have voted

  1. 1. Of all GTA protagonist, which one had the best motivations?

    • Claude
    • Tommy Vercetti
    • Carl Johnson
    • Mike
    • Toni Cipriani
    • Victor Vance
    • Niko Bellic
    • Johnny Klebitz
    • Luis Fernando Lopez
    • Michael De Santa
    • Trevor Philips
    • Franklin Clinton

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Grotti Vigilante

As people who play the protagonists in GTA games, it is us who follows them on their journey throughout the storyline in the game, and as such it is us who best understands their motivations as a character (or at least we should) that sees them through until the end. So with that in mind, which protagonist in the series had the best motivations of them all? I'll go over a few of my own opinions personally to come to a conclusion.


No question about it for me, Claude's motivations are some of the weakest written. His quest is driven solely by revenge on Catalina, and when he finally gets it, the result doesn't seem satisfying. Half the city gangs hate you, and once it's over you just think "what now then?". Claude seems to be nothing more than a neutral hitman with a single motivation that he doesn't seem to be in any rush to carry out. Matter of fact, he only found Catalina because he ran into her when retrieving a package for Donald Love. Maybe being mute hurt a lot of his development, but his motivations are both simplistic and not too emphasised.


Now this is where Tommy Vercetti is an improvement. After having just out of prison and sent to Vice City for a drug deal, it seems clear after killing Diaz that Tommy was in it for himself. He began to buy properties and harass businesses for protection money because he no longer had any pledge of loyalty to the Forellis. He was in it all for himself at that point, and it's clear that he wanted nothing to do with the Forellis by the end of the game given how he planned on giving them fake cash and claimed all the operations as his own. It's a motivation that sees him go from a hitman for the Forellis to a kingpin of Vice City with no bosses but himself.


For CJ, his motivations are also clear. They change and develop in fact. He starts off simply wanting to bury his mother, then he wants to help build back up his old gang, and then eventually he starts wanting to earn his own money doing jobs and businesses such as owning a garage in San Fierro and getting a stake in a casino in Las Venturas. Then he even goes as far as becoming Madd Dogg's manager, and getting himself a mansion in the hills. He goes from a simple street hoodlum to a successful and wealthy young man. So his motivations are established and even evolved, but unfortunately it's kind of ruined by him following his ungrateful brother's lead and getting back into gang life at the end of the game, and at times people complained about inconsistent character. 


Don't remember Toni's motivations really. I just remember him being simple and wanting to make sure his own family gets on top. Pretty simple motivation really, so not much in the way of it. But it's still not as bad as Victor Vance's motivations because for someone who doesn't want to be a drug dealer, he seems like he's not got the willpower to see it through. Granted he lost a career and probably will find it harder to make his way in the world, but actually had some degree of proof that Martinez was a crook and could've got himself some good stuff from prosecuting him and such. But then that would be boring as a GTA game wouldn't it?


Niko Bellic has simple motivations, but ones that are conflicting which can lead to some interesting character development, albeit it may seem inconsistent. For one he wanted to leave the old country and join his cousin in living the American Dream, but he didn't take long to just become a hitman. His motivation to find the one who betrayed his squad stuck throughout the game, and often he actually worked for people who could help him do that in exchange for his services. He's certainly got one up on Claude in that regard. I can't remember much of Johnny and Luis' motivations in game really, so forgive me for leaving those out.


Finally, we have the GTA V trio. This one kind of confuses me. I know Trevor has clear motivations, which are to run his own criminal empire with no competition, and Franklin is just a watered down CJ who wants more than gang life. Michael's I'm not sure of really, and I feel this is part of the issue with three protagonists. Some motivations aren't as clear as others, and some aren't as well established. I can certainly say these ones aren't the best.


So with all that in mind, I'm still not sure who had the best motivations of all GTA protagonists, but I am sure some of you will be. Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts below as to who you think had the best motivations and whose was best developed and established?



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The Coconut Kid

I voted for Niko.


I can't add much to the (very well thought out) reasons you've posted already, but what struck me about Niko is that he's clearly had his plans in works for years -- right back to when he worked for Bulgarin.


He easily settles into the hitman/paid thug role so seamlessly when he gets to Liberty City because he's been doing it for years.


Tommy has more confusing motivations than the game suggests, I think. I'll post about them later. Good thread!

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Niko was the most persistent in his motivation to hunt down "that special someone" for ten years even before the beginning of the game. Tommy had the most ambitious motive to take over the whole city but that plan surfaced kinda suddenly.


57 minutes ago, Grotti Vigilante said:

I can't remember much of Johnny and Luis' motivations in game really

Johnny did his best to keep the Lost MC Alderney chapter together even through hard times.

Luis helped out Tony with his club business and occasionally his friends, but I'd say his greatest motive was be a ladies' man in Maisonette 9.

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Niko, not only he has this whole revenge plot for something that drastically changed his life, but he also deeply cares about his family (Roman) and close friends (Little Jacob, Packie, Kate).


And you could argue that Michael's motivations are also related to his family. He stopped doing hests and faked his own death in 2004 due to his family, as he didn't want them to get affected if he died in one of the heists, as well as haing the chance to move with them to somewhere nicer. However, he was the one to betray his team for personal gains. Meanwhile, Trevor's motivations are to get revenge on Michael (initially), expand TP.Inc and, weirdly, family too, as he loves his mother and considers Michael's family as his own (Uncle T and stuff). Franklin's only motivations seems to be money.

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Posted (edited)

My man Niko B. Clear motivations throughout the game that, as OP says, run alongside each other and conflict in all kinds of interesting ways. Striving for revenge but also striving for a better life (and soon also just trying to survive) with these things always on his mind despite many setbacks and twists. Classic and compelling motivations. With some GTA protagonists it can feel like you're just doing stuff for the sake of it at times but with Niko there's a pressing, urgent feeling that's always there.

Edited by billiejoearmstrong8

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Another vote for Niko here. His intentions were there almost straight away, the game gives a few hints and then at some point he says what he's in Liberty for.


I just hope after he heard Ray got blown up he could settle down from a life of crime. After TBOGT there's no more loose ends for him.

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iiCriminnaaL 49

Niko Bellic.

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Luis bc he had the option to f*ck over his boss who'd been a mentor to him but also kind of a pain in the ass but he stayed loyal to the point of practically going on suicide missions for the guy. 

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Niko simply for the fact he has a clear goal in mind even before he arrives in the city. I also like unlike basically every other GTA the game is purposely vague on the details hence why when Roman questions him he dodges it (I've always assumed Niko simply didn't feel comfortable involving Roman in his personal matters).


However I don't see why it's inconsistent with the rest of his goals. The way I see it if GTA IV was set in a perfect world Niko would've come to America to track down Florian and Darko and whenever that was put to rest he could finally settle down, but Roman's bullsh*t lies drags him deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld and his plans are put on hold and/or change to deal with the complex web of events unfolding. 

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Posted (edited)

Pretty much can be seen through the games. Niko, luis, tommy . Franklin and trevor had some too but it's been lost with the feds' business, however trevor didn't loose it as much as frank and still was hoping for somethin till he found out what happened in north yankton

Edited by Max.pain

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1. Niko 
2. Carl 

4. Johnny

5 .Luis


And ....Trevor and Franklin , I have no ideas ....   

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14 hours ago, UndeadPotat0 said:

Luis bc he had the option to f*ck over his boss who'd been a mentor to him but also kind of a pain in the ass but he stayed loyal to the point of practically going on suicide missions for the guy. 

Well that's because he sees Tony as family. I don't think Luis cares that much about his own life compared to some other protagonists.

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Mr Zedd

Don't know about the best, it will require too much thought, and won't be easy to recall since i haven't replayed many gtas for a long time, except san andreas.


I can definitely speak about cj's motivations. I had absolutely no problems in understanding cj's story, and his journey. It moves in a slow pace, and don't recall a moment where i felt like it didn't made sense, or missing enough context to understand it properly.


The game develops cj's story nicely, giving a full picture of his life (or transformation) starting as a naive, young gangster who returns to gsf after five years. From hereon, I came to know more about his family, his past, and current troubles gsf was facing. 


Once cj leaves the ghetto after getting betratee by his own homies, I feel him struggling to make a sense of the situation, upset and angry, trying to cope with the dual burden of protecting his brother from any harm inside the prison, and the responsibility to get revenge against those who betrayed gsf.


Cj is now heading in a direction that will change him, evolve him into a business man, and form new relationships as the player progresses through each area of the map.

I really enjoyed Cj's character, all the ups and downs, including all the characters i came across, the writing was fantastic, and the story leads to a very memorable, happy ending :)

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The Deadite

I picked Trevor Phillips because im feeling stupid today.

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First of all there is no us in this.


I voted for Trevor, I understand his pain.

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