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Why Franklin is one of the most underrated protagonists in the GTA franchise

Franklin often comes across as one of the most forgettable protagonists in GTA (Image via Rockstar Games)
Franklin often comes across as one of the most forgettable protagonists in GTA (Image via Rockstar Games)
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Alan Sahbegovic

Franklin is easily the most underrated protagonist in GTA 5, making him one of the more underrated ones within the GTA franchise.

One of the most common complaints regarding GTA 5 was its story. It was perfectly passable, with some interesting moments here and there. However, it felt especially lackluster after following GTA 4 in that department. GTA 5 made tremendous strides that propelled it upward as arguably one of the best video games ever, but unfortunately, its story wasn't the best.

Among those who suffered from an average story was Franklin Clinton, the initial protagonist of GTA 5. Most people remember Michael De Santa's story with his family or Trevor Philips' wild antics, but Franklin often comes across as one of the most forgettable protagonists.

However, there are some underrated aspects about Franklin that fans often overlook when they're discussing protagonists within the GTA franchise.


Reasons why Franklin is an underrated protagonist in the GTA franchise

A lot of the GTA 5 story felt woefully underdeveloped (Image via Rockstar Games)
A lot of the GTA 5 story felt woefully underdeveloped (Image via Rockstar Games)

Franklin is the first main protagonist of GTA 5's story but gets the least amount of attention compared to Michael and Trevor. Stretch is a forgettable antagonist, and the whole Chamberlain Gangster Families story felt woefully underdeveloped compared to other stories in GTA 5.

Protagonists don't always have to be wacky

Franklin's calm personality often goes unnoticed (Image via GTA Wiki)
Franklin's calm personality often goes unnoticed (Image via GTA Wiki)

Sometimes it's okay for a central protagonist to be the straight man. Franklin acting as the straight man to Lamar's antics is a classic comedy trope, and it's executed well in GTA 5. It's arguably Franklin's best moments in the game, as it helps showcase his individuality away from Michael and Trevor. Truthfully, his antics are some of the most underrated aspects about GTA 5.

Franklin's personality juxtaposes with Trevor's perfectly. Trevor is calm around Franklin (at least compared to his usual temperament), which helps build the characterization between the two. Considering how wild Trevor is, Franklin's straight-man antics are charming in the scenes they share.

Even Michael acts like a straight man from time to time, so being serious can work in a character's favor. Past GTA protagonists were serious most of the time, so Franklin's personality is underrated in that regard.

Franklin is more relatable than some past GTA protagonists

Some GTA protagonists might seem invincible and too badass at times, but Franklin is more down-to-earth and realistic (Image via Joseph Lira | YouTube)
Some GTA protagonists might seem invincible and too badass at times, but Franklin is more down-to-earth and realistic (Image via Joseph Lira | YouTube)

An underrated aspect of a great main protagonist is their ability to resonate with the audience. Most players aren't wealthy like Michael or as psychotic as Trevor. However, it is fair to say that most players are like Franklin, hustling to make it to another day. He is ambitious yet makes poor choices.

The character's ambition is admirable, especially for players who strive to hit new strides in their life. However, he isn't always rewarded for his choices. If he chooses to kill either Trevor or Michael, he's just a puppet who jeopardizes his relationship with his friends (Jimmy De Santa for killing Michael and Lamar just by virtue of Stretch still being alive).

He isn't even able to resolve the central conflict at the beginning of his story. He never gets back with Tanisha and has to accept that she chose to marry somebody else over trying to reconcile their relationship. Some GTA protagonists might seem invincible and too badass at times, but Franklin is more down-to-earth and realistic, making him heavily underrated.

The supposed main protagonist of GTA 5

Franklin suffers more because GTA 5 focuses on so many protagonists than the other two did (Image via GTA Wiki)
Franklin suffers more because GTA 5 focuses on so many protagonists than the other two did (Image via GTA Wiki)

GTA 5 starts and ends with Franklin. While the canon ending has all three main protagonists alive, players who choose the other conclusions will notice that Franklin will always survive the game's events. In fact, he makes the crucial decision regarding the final mission.

When fans think of the main protagonists in GTA 5, they often think of the other two. That's quite a discredit to what Franklin stands for as a main protagonist, as it heavily underrates the premise of his character and the events of his (admittedly average) story.

Franklin suffers more because GTA 5 focuses on so many protagonists than the other two did. He had something interesting with Lamar and Simeon, but he eventually outgrows the "gangster lifestyle" to focus on more high-end crime. If more screentime were given to him as an individual protagonist, fans wouldn't underrate him as much as they do currently.

Unique driving ability

Franklin's unique ability is highly-compatible compatibility with drive-by shootings and 4-door weaponized vehicles (Image via GTA Wiki)
Franklin's unique ability is highly-compatible compatibility with drive-by shootings and 4-door weaponized vehicles (Image via GTA Wiki)

Unique abilities are an exciting addition to the GTA series, as it helps diversify the gameplay experience of each protagonist. Franklin's ability is the most underrated, as it has nothing to do with gunfire, which the other two have.

Instead, it allows him to drive better, which is another core element of GTA that most fans ignore in favor of fancy shootouts. Funnily enough, Grand Theft Auto is a crime game involving vehicles, yet most fans tend to underrate that aspect of the series.

A neat little thing regarding Franklin's unique ability, that's often underrated, is its compatibility with drive-by shootings and 4-door weaponized vehicles. It works with the Rhino tank, although most players won't be able to take advantage of that in GTA 5's main story.

If it were available in GTA Online, that would be an outstanding ability, albeit impossible given the fact other players cannot be slowed down for obvious reasons.

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


For comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, check out SK GTA Wiki

Edited by Ravi Iyer
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