One of the most shocking moments in GTA San Andreas is when Ryder betrays CJ; there was to be a reasonable explanation.
Through subtle and not-so-subtle hints, GTA San Andreas lets players know Big Smoke will turn on them. Ryder, however, is a different story altogether. He was actively trying to help the Grove Street Families (GSF) through his missions. His betrayal is very sudden and surprising.
GTA San Andreas players often speculate about what Ryder did and why he did it. Arguments range from poor writing to changing the story midway through development. However, it can be argued that Ryder's personality and PCP usage led him down a path of destruction.
Is there a good reason for Ryder to betray CJ in GTA San Andreas?
Ryder is abrasive and prone to anger. Naturally, he is at constant odds with CJ in GTA San Andreas. That doesn't make his betrayal any less shocking. Ryder always represented the color green. He once decked a teacher in school because he wore purple. Something had changed with Ryder.
It should be noted that not every GTA San Andreas player believes he was meant to be killed off. There are wild theories that plans have changed within development. Unfortunately, there is no way to confirm or deny these suspicions anytime soon. One can only speculate.
GTA San Andreas conspiracy theories
One of the biggest Ryder theories in GTA San Andreas is that he was never meant to betray CJ in Green Sabre. Arguments include his lack of screentime afterwards, how CJ only mentions Big Smoke and not Ryder, and how most of Ryder's missions only benefit the GSF (and not the Ballas he sides with).
It's commonly believed there was a dispute with Ryder's voice actor. However, the theory doesn't line up. Unlike Ray Liotta and Michael Hollick (who never returned), MC Eiht did continue to work with the GTA series.
Along with Freddie Gibb, he mixed the main theme song of GTA 5, Welcome to Los Santos.
Unless someone from Rockstar Games comments on the situation, all that remains is speculation. Ryder was suddenly written off after the player left Los Santos. Whether it's poor writing, a change of plans, or the intended result is unknown. He does go out anti-climactically.
The signs of betrayal were there from the beginning
For the sake of the argument, it can be stated Ryder was always meant to betray the player. Right away, he barely gets along with CJ. They spend most of their screentime insulting each other every chance they get.
More tellingly, there is ominous foreshadowing in the Home Invasion mission. Before they finished their criminal activities, Ryder and CJ argued about the former's perpetual drug abuse. When Ryder calls him a "busta" (his trademark insult), CJ only has this to say:
"One day, you gonna wish you hadn't p*ssed me off."
Perhaps the plan was for Ryder to have a confrontational showdown with CJ. Later on in GTA San Andreas, CJ's warning is proven true - he reluctantly kills Ryder. CJ is not a man to mess with, and Ryder has done it one too many times.
Drug addiction could play a part
It should be noted that Ryder is a frequent user of PCP, or phencyclidine. It's a drug that alters the mind, which disrupts a user's perception of reality. Side effects include extreme paranoia, mood swings, and violent hostility.
GTA San Andreas players need to consider the possibility that Ryder was not in the right state of mind when he betrayed the GSF. After all, PCP is very destructive on the brain.
With the impending downfall of the GSF, perhaps Ryder saw no choice but to betray his allies. He was completely out of it.
It was rarely discussed among GTA San Andreas players, but Ryder's drug use had to play a significant role in his actions.
Ultimately, Ryder was too ambitious for his own good
Of course, the question remains - there has to be a reasonable explanation for Ryder's betrayal (at least within the story). Perhaps it was a fight for survival. At the time, GSF was significantly weakened. Their hardline stance against drugs meant the Ballas had the upper hand against the GSF.
One can reasonably expect someone like Big Smoke to easily convince Ryder. It was a do-or-die situation at the time - Ryder could easily have got himself killed here.
With or without Ryder, the writing was on the wall. He turned on GSF because it was a selfish act of self-preservation.
GTA San Andreas made that point very clear. For most criminals, it's all about the miles and the money. Unlike CJ, Sweet, or Cesar, Ryder mainly cared about himself. There is rarely honor among thieves.
It also didn't help that he was on PCP; Ryder lacked the ability to think rationally.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.