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Two of the most memorable characters from their respective games (Image via Rockstar Games)

GTA 5 vs GTA San Andreas: Which game has better characters?

GTA 5 and GTA San Andreas are arguably the two Grand Theft Auto games with the best characters. They're the two best-selling single-player games in the series and are legendary in their own right, so it's not as if one game completely smokes the other. One could proclaim that either game has the upper hand in character building, and they wouldn't be wrong.

Hence, it's worth looking at several reasons why one player might prefer GTA 5's characters over GTA San Andreas and vice versa. Since there are many different types of characters, this article will be divided into:

  • Protagonists
  • Antagonists
  • Supporting cast

Comparing the characters of GTA 5 and GTA San Andreas




An iconic part that every GTA San Andreas fan knows (Image via Rockstar Games)

In terms of sheer quantity, GTA 5 obviously wins. They have three protagonists, whereas GTA San Andreas only has one. All four characters have distinct and unique personalities, so one's preferences would determine which game they'd like more.

Here are some common reasons why players love CJ:

  • Funny and snarky personality
  • Highly memorable story
  • Nowhere near as evil as some other protagonists
  • Nostalgia from several decades ago

Likewise, here are some reasons why somebody might dislike him:

  • He can come across as whiney in the beginning
  • His game feels more archaic to younger gamers
The three GTA 5 protagonists (Image via Rockstar Games)

By comparison, some people might like Michael, Trevor, and Franklin more because:

  • Each protagonist is completely different from one another
  • They come from the most popular single-player game in the franchise
  • Three protagonists mean that there is bound to be at least one of them the player likes
  • Their game has more features for them to utilize compared to CJ

Similarly, some people might prefer CJ over them because:

  • Their three stories feel more separated due to the focus being all over the place
  • Trevor can be too psychotic for some people

In this instance, there are valid reasons to prefer one game's protagonists over the others. However, the next section would arguably be more one-sided.



GTA San Andreas has some of the most iconic antagonists in the entire Grand Theft Auto series, whereas GTA 5's villains are forgettable. The former game has the following great characters:

  • Officer Tenpenny
  • Officer Pulaski
  • Big Smoke
  • Ryder

Tenpenny is cruel toward CJ, and it's easy to hate him because of his attitude and power to escape true justice. Pulaski is his mean-spirited lapdog, who is also a thorn in CJ's side. Then there are the old bastions from Grove Street, Big Smoke and Ryder.

Devin Weston is an alright main antagonist, but pales compared to past villains (Image via Rockstar Games)

By comparison, GTA 5's more segmented story means that the villains feel less important. Devin Weston and Steve Haines aren't terribly written but aren't as memorable compared to GTA San Andreas's villains. Then there is also the matter of very minor villains presented as the game's final enemies, like Stretch and Wei Cheng, who end up being quite forgettable.

Supporting cast


The final comparison between GTA San Andreas and GTA 5 is more balanced than the last one. Both games have a myriad of fun characters that players can easily remember years after they play these games. GTA San Andreas's best supporting characters include:

  • Cesar
  • Ken Rosenberg
  • Mike Toreno
  • The Truth
  • Wu Zi Mu
Lamar is a fun character full of memorable lines (Image via Rockstar Games)

GTA 5's best supporting characters include:

  • Jimmy
  • Lamar
  • Lester
  • Tracey
  • Wade

It would be hard to say which supporting cast is better overall. With all of these sections out of the way, one could claim that GTA San Andreas has a slightly better character cast than GTA 5 primarily because its antagonists are substantially better than the ones in its successor.

Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.

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Edited by
Sijo Samuel Paul
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