When one thinks of gangs within the GTA series, the Grove Street Families is often among the first names that pop into mind.
More specifically, it's GTA San Andreas's iteration of the Grove Street Families that resonates so strongly with GTA fans. Gangs have always played an important role in the GTA series, yet almost none of them left the impact that this gang did.
Its importance in the storyline and iconic character cast are just some of the major parts that make this gang stand out compared to other gangs in the series.
This article isn't just about what makes the Grove Street Families so good; it's about what makes them the best in the series. This means that other gangs will be compared to GSF, as it will help demonstrate why GSF is the better gang in terms of iconicness.
Why the Grove Street Families is such a good gang in the GTA series
The Grove Street Families is the main allied gang in GTA San Andreas of which CJ, Sweet, Big Smoke, and Ryder are all a part of. These are four major characters (some of which are the most likable in the game), which already help make GSF stand out.
Other gangs in GTA San Andreas
Before comparing GSF to the rest of the series, it would be wise to consider the gangs in GTA San Andreas first. The second most important gang is the Ballas, which lacks any memorable characters.
The Ballas are significant to the game's storyline, but nothing about them stands out except that they're antagonistic toward the Grove Street Families. Add in the Vagos who are essentially the Hispanic, yet less storyline-important gang and it's easy to claim that GSF is still the better gang.
Likewise, the San Fierro Rifa aren't very iconic. They're led by T-Bone Mendez, who is one of the more forgettable villains in the game. Of course, Da Nang Boys aren't significant, and neither is the Mafia.
Other friendly gangs like the San Fierro Triads and the Varrios Los Aztecas have some prominent figures, but the gang associated with the main protagonist is still more likely to be remembered than these secondary gangs.
Other gangs in the GTA series
It's tough for any gang in the GTA series to compete with the Grove Street Families in terms of iconicness simply because the latter plays a crucial role in GTA San Andreas. It would be pointless to bring up the minor gangs with little storyline prominence, as it would be a tedious argument.
Some gangs like the Leone and Forelli families are quite significant in several GTA titles. In terms of sheer importance to the series, one could argue that these two gangs are more essential than the GSF. However, this article is more about what makes GSF the best in terms of iconicness.
These storyline-relevant gangs are extremely important in the games they're in, but the player is unlikely to feel the same connection with these types of gangs over the Grove Street Families, partially because of some of the reasons detailed in the next section.
What makes the Grove Street Families so great
Unlike many gangs before it, the GSF is a gang that the main protagonist has a strong connection to. The players never betray this gang as they did in the previous games, and the characters associated with this gang are far more lively and engaging to players.
CJ is an iconic character, but he's just one small part of what makes the GSF so good. Players get to see the Grove Street Families get betrayed and be reduced to practically nothing thanks to Big Smoke's betrayal. This makes them relevant to the storyline and coupled with a memorable cast, the Grove Street Family has become such an engaging part of GTA San Andreas.
There are also the little things that make the gang stand out so much. For starters, players could recruit GSF members to accompany them on whatever task they wanted to do, which made them feel far more useful than the nameless goons found in every other GTA game.
The gangs themselves serve a minor role in the GTA series. For a gang like the Grove Street Families to serve an instrumental role in a GTA title is rather unheard of, especially since most protagonists tend to work solo or bounce between gangs.
CJ does bounce between gangs, but his loyalty always lies with GSF. His actions in San Fierro and Las Venturas have the Grove Street Families in his mind, especially since it involves his brother, Sweet, whom he genuinely loves.
Of course, it should also go without saying that GTA San Andreas is one of the most popular GTA games of all time. If a central gang is relevant in that game, then it's inevitable that the same gang will get more recognition as a result.