5 reasons why Frank Tenpenny was a great GTA villain

One of the more recognizable GTA villains (Image via GTA Wiki)
One of the more recognizable GTA villains (Image via GTA Wiki)

Every "hero" needs a villain; due to his actions in GTA San Andreas, officer Frank Tenpenny made quite a name for himself among the fanbase.

A corrupt leader of the C.R.A.S.H. unit (also known as Community Resources Against Street Hoodlum), Tenpenny is both the law and the lawbreaker. He is based on the real-life police officer Rafael Pérez and it shows - Tenpenny commits as many crimes as there are stars in the sky.

While the GTA series has no shortage of threatening adversaries, Tenpenny is often considered one of the best ones. With his manipulation skills, intimidating presence, and lack of human empathy, he is a constant menace to Carl Johnson. As a result, Tenpenny certainly left a lasting impression on GTA players.

5 reasons why Frank Tenpenny is a noteworthy GTA antagonist

#5 - He is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson in all his glory (Image via Esquire)
Samuel L. Jackson in all his glory (Image via Esquire)

GTA fans should immediately recognize the baritone vocal range of Samuel L. Jackson, one of Hollywood's top actors. He delivers every Tenpenny line with his trademark emphasis on swear words, leading to several memorable scenes. The GTA series is well-known for casting stars for important roles (in the 3D era), and Jackson stands out among them all.

This legendary voice acting performance allows Tenpenny to steal the show. Jackson was never one to take half-measures, so he always goes above and beyond. Tenppeny has a sociopathic charm, but is also ruthless and prone to anger. Jackson displays these menacing traits effortlessly.

#4 - Tenpenny is a great contrast to CJ


CJ and Tenpenny are both criminals, yet they stand on completely different sides of the public spectrum. While CJ doesn't pretend to be anything else but a deliquent, Tenpenny tries to convince himself he does everything for the "greater good". Of course, the "greater good" mostly benefits himself and only himself.

Tenpenny is one of the first major law enforcement characters in the GTA series, which gives him a greater deal of control over the protagonist. Police routinely go after the players, anyway. Despite his badge, however, he is decidedly a darker shade of villainy than even CJ.

#3 - He can be a funny guy


The GTA series always delivers frequent laughs with San Andreas, especially with the likes of Big Smoke and Ryder. Yet, despite his rather serious demeanor, Tenpenny is not above providing a darker side of comedic relief. Samuel L. Jackson really nails his delivery on several memorable lines:

We can sh*t on you from such a height, you'll think God himself has cr*pped on you.

What makes Tenppeny rather amusing is the audacity of his lines and the way he says them. He's a complete jerk, yet some can't help but admire his snide remarks. Nobody else could say those lines the way Jackson does. Tenpenny and his antics are enjoyable to watch, even when GTA players root for CJ.

#2 - Tenpenny is considerably dangerous


GTA players shouldn't underestimate the resourcefulness of Tenpenny. Despite his low-ranking position as a regular cop, Tenpenny almost single-handedly controls the entire criminal landscape of Los Santos. Thanks to his powerful connections with the Ballas gang, he can deal with drugs at a profitable margin.

Tenpenny may not be a billionaire CEO or tech-savvy bank robber, yet he is still a dangerous threat GTA players must overcome. Not only does he force Grove Street Families into submission via drug addiction and weakened territories, he also convinces Big Smoke and Ryder to change sides.

All because of a single man, CJ has to go through hell and highwater. Tenpenny is the source of almost every major conflict CJ has to endure in this GTA entry. Even petty gang disputes are paltry in comparison to C.R.A.S.H. and their destructive influence in Los Santos.

#1 - He gets a great send off in the final mission


Strangely, CJ and Tenpenny never directly engaged in combat by the end of the story. Instead, Tenpenny flees in a firetruck while GTA players chase him down. Nonetheless, End of the Line is an exciting sequence of events from start to finish. This is an action-packed conclusion for San Andreas.

CJ and his brother Sweet had to chase Tenpenny across a burned-down city full of dangerous rioters and exploding cocktails. GTA players get to experience a thrilling combination of shooting and driving while making sure Tenpenny doesn't get away. Eventually, the officer crashes his vehicle in the middle of Grove Street.

Tenpenny meets his undignified end right in front of the Johnson residence, cursing everyone in his final words. After CJ leaves him to die of his injuries, Tenpenny has his corpse stripped naked and torn to shreds off-screen by rioters. It's truly a satisfying finish for such a love-to-hate GTA character.

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

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Edited by Nikhil Vinod
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