GTA 5 players were surprised with a left hook towards the end of the game as they were given the option to turn off one of the protagonists. It was an extremely clever move on Rockstar Games' part as it gave the players agency on how the game would end.
GTA 5 was the first game in the franchise to introduce the concept of multiple protagonists and allow players to seamlessly switch between them. While this initially raised concerns that players might not be able to invest as much in the story, the truth was far from it.
All three protagonists struck a chord with the fans, and it immediately became clear that the idea lends itself to the gameplay as well as to the story. So, when the ending puts players in charge of killing one of the two protagonists, it becomes especially difficult to not choose the third option: Deathwish.
The canonical ending for GTA 5
For most players, picking option C (Deathwish) would be the clear choice as they would not want either Trevor or Michael to meet their end in GTA 5. The third option allows all three protagonists to ride off into the proverbial sunset.
Players have often wondered what the canonical ending to GTA 5 is, given that there are 3 distinct endings to the game.
Fortunately, GTA Online provides enough clues as to which ending is considered canon by Rockstar Games.
Clue 1: Trevor Phillips is still alive and kicking (And Madrazo Files)
At a certain point in time, GTA Online moved way past its existence as a prequel and moved into sequel territory. After repeated allusions to the events of Story Mode, players were able to gather that each DLC released for GTA Online was set during the time period of their release.
For example, the Cayo Perico Heist DLC takes place in the year 2020, which is 7 years after the events of the Story Mode.
By that logic, Trevor is alive during the events of certain missions in GTA Online, as he is referred to by characters such as Nevous Ron. The latest heist involves stealing "Madrazo Files," which essentially confirms the affair between Patricia Madrazo and Trevor Phillips from Story Mode.
Those files' existence confirms that GTA Online has indeed moved past the prequel stage.
Clue 2: Tao Cheng recounts surviving a shootout at the Beach Club
During the events of the Story Mode in GTA 5, if the player chooses Option C: Deathwish, the players carry out a Michael Corleone-style of hits across town.
During these hits, Franklin pulls up on the Chengs and drops Wei Chang, Tao Cheng's father, thus, confirming the events of Deathwish as canon in the GTA 5 timeline.