Big Smoke is one of the best villains in the GTA franchise.
GTA San Andreas is one of the most popular versions of Grand Theft Auto, making Big Smoke, the secondary antagonist, one of the most recognizable villains in the franchise.
GTA 5 might might have a larger user base today, but it's hard to argue that their antagonists are the reason for it. In fact, the story in GTA 5 is rather bland, and ultimately gets overshadowed by GTA Online and its gameplay experience.
By comparison, the GTA San Andreas story is still well-liked, and Big Smoke plays a crucial role.
Why Big Smoke is the best villain in the GTA franchise
he GTA franchise is home to many villains that players love to hate. In Big Smoke's case, he's a villain that players love to love. His memorable quotes, interesting character, and betrayal of Grove Street have made him endearing to a large portion of GTA fans, including some casuals who love him just for the memes.
Comparing Big Smoke to other villains in the series
GTA 1 and GTA 2 don't really have prominent antagonists to compare Big Smoke with, so it should be a no-brainer that most GTA fans will consider him to be a better villain by default. The 3D Universe of GTA villains might be more interesting for comparison's sake.
The most memorable villain in GTA 3 is Catalina, who is honestly a pretty noteworthy villain. She's the reason for Claude's story, as his only wish seems to be to get revenge on her.
However, fans can argue that CJ's vendetta against Catalina is more interesting than Big Smoke's story from a storyline perspective. Nevertheless, GTA: San Andreas is looked back on more fondly than GTA 3, making Big Smoke a more memorable villain in most fans' eyes.
GTA Vice City and Vice City Stories have some great villains like Diaz, Lance Vance, and Jerry Martinez. It isn't that these villains are bad per se; it's just that fans tend to prefer Big Smoke's personality over theirs'. He's comical at times, and his betrayal has more severe ramifications than Jerry and Lance's betrayal.
GTA Advance's story is fairly simple, with the main antagonist, Vinnie, pulling off a GTA 5 Michael De Santa moment where he fakes his death after a crime to escape a main protagonist (Mike in GTA Advance, Trevor in GTA 5). GTA Advance has good villains, like the prior entries; it's just that most fans aren't aware of their existence.
Considering how GTA Liberty City Stories' principal antagonist is the least seen in the series, it wouldn't be fair to consider him more noteworthy than Big Smoke. Likewise, the other antagonists aren't as memorable, although Vincenzo Cilli is, at least, seen more often.
HD Universe comparisons
GTA 4's Dimitri Rascalov is undoubtedly a strong contender for best villain in the GTA franchise. He's more vile and heinous than Big Smoke, with the bonus that he's actually the main antagonist of his game (whereas Big Smoke is behind Officer Tenpenny in GTA San Andreas).
If the definition of "best villain" is about how iconic they are, Big Smoke would be classified as the better villain. If it were about their actions in the game and their status as a genuine villain, then Dimitri would be the best one in the franchise.
GTA 4 also contains great minor villains like Vladimir Glebov, so despicable and unlikeable that he's unironically a great villain in the traditional sense. Even the other minor villains have memorable moments, making GTA 4 the game most likely to have villains capable of usurping Big Smoke's reign as the best antagonist.
GTA 4's expansion packs also introduced some great villains, but they're not quite up to par with GTA 4's base villains in terms of intrigue or character.
GTA Chinatown Wars has an interesting plot involving familial ties, but it's hard to argue that somebody like Wu Lee would be as memorable as Big Smoke. As GTA 5 was briefly brought up earlier, it would sound like a broken record repeating everything that was already said.
So what makes Big Smoke, as an individual, the best villain?
So far, we have outlined other antagonists and their claims to the status of "best villain." By comparing Big Smoke's legacy to other villains, it should be clear that he stands out the most in terms of the impact he's left on other players. However, he's a phenomenal antagonist in his own right.
Officer Tenpenny might be GTA: San Andreas's main antagonist, but he's not as fondly remembered as Big Smoke is. The reason for that is the latter's personality. Big Smoke has transcended into the mainstream thanks to his role in GTA: San Andreas.
Big Smoke, the man, the myth, the legend
Some of the most quotable lines in GTA history have come from Big Smoke, like:
- "All we had to do, was follow the damn train, CJ!"
- "You picked the wrong house, fool!"
- "I'll have two number 9s, a number 9 large, a number 6 with extra dip, a number 7, two number 45s, one with cheese, and a large soda."
- "Coughio up el weedo, before I blow your brains out all over the patio!"
- "When I'm gone, everyone gonna remember my name... Big Smoke!"
Big Smoke's villainy has been foreshadowed since the start of the game. Keen players will discover it when they replay the game, as there are many signs that he isn't quite the homie other Grove Street members are.
It doesn't make his betrayal seem contrived or ludicrous, and he has the screentime to make an impact on the player, unlike some other major villains in the GTA franchise.
Aside from his villainy, Big Smoke is a comical character. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of comic relief from time to time. In fact, it can be argued that it's one of the main reasons he stands out as a major villain. He isn't some badass, looming threat. He's deeply flawed, which in turn makes him more down-to-earth and relatable.
Big Smoke isn't a complete joke, either. He's ruined many people's lives in Los Santos with his drug trade, and that's not including possible victims overseas.
He betrayed Grove Street in the name of his legacy and wealth. To his credit, most GTA fans will remember his name for years to come.
Note: This article reflects the author's views.