Exploring GTA San Andreas theories about why Big Smoke betrayed CJ

Why did Big Smoke betray CJ in GTA SA? (Image via Sportskeeda)
Why did Big Smoke betray CJ in GTA SA? (Image via Sportskeeda)

GTA San Andreas featured some of the most interesting and elaborate characters in all of gaming. The title featured several well-known Hollywood actors, musicians, and other celebrities as voice actors, playing both main and minor characters, giving it an edge over a lot of games in the same genre at the time.

The game's storyline follows the plight of Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson, the protagonist of the title, after he returns to life as a gangster following the murder of his mother. Carl Johnson’s character has been developed as a pragmatic and charismatic gang leader who can also be extremely violent, ruthless, and destructive when necessary.


Following the course of events in GTA San Andreas, CJ finds his interests clashing with corrupt authorities and powerful criminals, but he manages all his problems in a ‘boss-like fashion.’ However, while on a mission to weaken the Ballas, he discovers that Big Smoke has betrayed him and his gang – the Grove Street Families.

Since then, the GTA community has been wondering why Melvin "Big Smoke" Harris betrayed CJ. At the same time, players have also come up with quite a few theories that explore the various possibilities as to why the betrayal took place.

Multiple theories suggest Big Smoke's unchecked ambition made him betray CJ


There are many theories when it comes to this incident and fans have tried to come up with a valid theory over the years.

Some theories suggest that Sweet was against the drug trade and did not want his gang involved in this. Big Smoke tried to persuade Sweet, but to no avail. That could have been when Big Smoke realized he needed a change of scenery, with money and power being the incentive.

There is also a theory that suggests that Big Smoke never cared about Grove Street Families. He was highly ambitious and only cared about money and rising in the ranks as a criminal.

Another theory suggests Smoke knew CJ’s involvement and goodwill strengthened the gang. Seeing that CJ had more control over the hood than him made Big Smoke betray the Grove Street Families.

Exploring hints from GTA SA that forshadowed Smoke's betrayal


It’s unclear if these theories are accurate as to why Big Smoke betrayed CJ. However, it can be said that there were many subtle and not-so-subtle hints throughout the game that suggested Smoke’s eventual betrayal.

During CJ’s mother’s funeral, Sweet, Ryder, and Kendl were with him in the cemetery. However, Smoke was at CJ’s home despite knowing about the funeral service.

Despite his claims that they merely annoyed him, Smoke continued to do business with Tenpenny and Pulaski. This was evident since they were present at his house but ended up leaving for many of Big Smoke's missions.

During "Reuniting the Families" when authorities and SWAT arrived, CJ tried to rescue his brother from the motel during the mission. Smoke and Ryder fled the scene, possibly expecting CJ to die in the shootout.

Despite them subsequently appearing to get CJ and Sweet out of danger, this mission proved to be definitive since Big Smoke and Ryder's treason was revealed just a mission later in GTA San Andreas.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition for #NintendoSwitch is now available as both a digital download and physical purchase.

However, keeping all speculation aside, the storyline of GTA San Andreas suggests that Big Smoke’s betrayal was fuelled by his ambition to become Los Santos's biggest drug kingpin.

He became a treacherous and greedy man since he believed that Los Santos was his city and, once he died, everybody would remember his name.

For comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, check out SK GTA Wiki

Quick Links

Edited by Abu Amjad Khan
Be the first one to comment