A GTA protagonist of one game can be a minor character in another.
Perspective is an interesting aspect of storytelling. From their time as a GTA protagonist, they seem invincible and incredibly important. On the opposite side of the spectrum are the moments that they're just a random nobody in somebody else's life. After all, the GTA series isn't a video game series where it's the same protagonist in every game.
Unfortunately, this does mean that the fates of these old GTA protagonists are less than desirable for fans of their games. That said, not every GTA protagonist gets a bad ending.
5 times GTA protagonists appeared in other games in the series
#5 - Luis Fernando Lopez
Luis Fernando Lopez is the main protagonist of GTA 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony. As that game is an expansion of the base GTA 4, it shouldn't be surprising that Luis Fernando Lopez appears in all of the GTA 4 games. His main role as a minor character in GTA 4 is that he kills Mori to steal the diamonds.
In GTA 4, the mission is "Museum Piece" when that happens. In The Lost and Damned, it's "Collector's Item." He appears in a few other missions, including "Three Leaf Clover," where the player could optionally kill him. He will still appear later in the storyline if the player does so, so it doesn't actually affect the main plot.
#4 - Trevor Philips
Trevor Philips is one of three major protagonists in GTA 5, but he's also the only one who shows up in GTA Online. Interestingly enough, he has a more prominent role than a lot of other protagonists on this list (in terms of what he does in the game he's not a protagonist of).
In the early days of GTA Online, he could give the player several missions, including the heist, "Series A." Typically, his missions would include the player stealing something drug-related.
It's also confirmed at the end of the Cayo Perico Heist that Trevor was having an affair with Mrs. Madrazo, as seen in the picture above.
#3 - Toni Cipriani
An interesting fact about Toni Cipriani is that he is the first protagonist to appear in a game before the one he's a protagonist of. Aside from that, Toni Cipriani is largely the same between the several years of GTA III and GTA Liberty City Stories. He's still loyal to the Leone Family, even going as far as to introduce Claude to Salvatore.
Like in Liberty City Stories, Toni is still berated by his ma for not being the man she expected him to be. He is also noticeably fatter in GTA III than he is in Liberty City Stories. Fortunately for Toni, he is able to survive the events of both games, which is nice given that a fair amount of protagonists have died in the games they're not protagonists of.
#2 - Johnny Klebitz
Speaking of dead protagonists, Johnny Klebitz has shown up in a GTA game he wasn't the protagonist of. Technically speaking, he shows up in the highest amount of GTA games as a former protagonist, showing up in three separate games. These three games are GTA 4, The Ballad of Gay Tony, and GTA 5. Like with Luis, Johnny's role in the other two GTA 4 games is related to the whole diamonds subplot.
Unfortunately, GTA 5 has Johnny Klebitz killed by Trevor Philips. The end of The Lost and Damned really put Johnny in a bad state, and it shows in how he's portrayed in GTA 5. Compared to Victor Vance, Johnny's death was just more pathetic given how much he was a shell of his former self.
#1 - Victor Vance
Victor Vance also shares the distinction of being a GTA protagonist that is now dead canonly. Unlike Johnny Klebitz, Victor died in a sneak attack in the introduction of GTA Vice City. Likewise, Victor wouldn't be a protagonist until long after GTA Vice City was made, so fans wouldn't have much connection to him then.
As the protagonist of Vice City Stories, Victor Vance is a formidable man who helps his brother, Lance Vance, in several parts of the story. Lance was close enough to his brother to be deeply disturbed by his death in GTA Vice City, as it sets off the whole events of Lance Vance meeting Tommy Vercetti and the eventual demise of Ricardo Diaz.
Unlike other protagonists, Victor's role is almost a "blink and you miss it" kind of moment. His accent is different from his Vice City Stories counterpart, and his different appearance has led some fans to believe that it wasn't Victor that died. Of course, Rockstar has confirmed that it was Victor in that role.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.