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Creepiest Things Found In Grand Theft Auto

The Grand Theft Auto games are notorious for their over-the-top violence, but gamers know the series is about so much more than that. They're grown-up sandbox games that give players options, whether they want to tear up the asphalt in a street race, rob some banks, or terrorize city traffic from an overpass with a rocket launcher. 

These are games that reward exploration, encouraging players to go off the beaten path, ignore missions, and see what the world has to offer. Since transitioning into 3D with the series' third game in 2001, the GTA games have served up big urban environments, whole states, and even oceans to explore, all of which feel vibrant, alive, and full of secrets.

But some secrets are darker than others, coming out of nowhere to unsettle and disturb. In other places, the games break down and behave so eerily that you're left wondering what's happening. Whether it's Liberty City, Vice City, sunny Los Santos, or anywhere in between, these are the creepiest things you can find while waiting for the next GTA.

Deep blue hell

There's always been something appealing about breaking your way outside of a game's environment. Whether it's invisible walls, endless oceans, or hills too steep to climb, some gamer somewhere will always try and fight their way beyond the barrier — even if there's nothing out there. So often, going out-of-bounds in a video game will only lead you to an endless void — which makes it all the more shocking when you get out there and actually find ... something.

Grand Theft Auto 3 doesn't give you access to an airplane until nearly the end of the game, and even when you do get your hands on one, it's one of the most unwieldy vehicles you'll ever try to fly. If you do manage to get the unruly bird up in the air, a natural impulse is to fly beyond the boundaries of the city, and try to explore the lands upstate. As it turns out, following the coast leads to a remarkably eerie sight.

Underneath the hills of Shoreside Vale, above the out-of-bounds expanse known to players as the Blue Hell, a literal ghost town can be seen floating impossibly in the air — a truly shocking sight, if you're not ready for it. The detailed, unique environment is from the game's opening bank robbery cinematic, cached away beneath the rest of the city — and it's the kind of discovery that can make your jaw drop when it appears out of nowhere in the foggy void.

Specter by the sea

The wide-open nature of the Grand Theft Auto games have given rise to all kinds of dubious legends (Bigfoot, anyone?). While many of these myths are total bunk, they're easy to believe in — especially since some of the more outlandish-sounding ones are totally true.

If the player visits a specific part of the peak of Mount Gordo at a certain hour in GTA 5, a ghost of a woman can be seen hovering in the air above the name "JOCK", written in blood. It's the sort of thing that's hard to find on accident — but if you did chance upon it unexpectedly, the shock of it just might give you a heart attack. With white eyes, disheveled hair, and a mouth locked open in a permanent scream, this ghost is downright frightening

If you pay attention to in-game clues, you can puzzle out the origins of this peculiar specter. The ghost was a woman named Jolene Cranley-Evans, the wife and murder victim of Los Santos stunt double Jock Cranley. When Jock felt his relationship was getting in the way of his career, he apparently lured Jolene to the cliffs and did her in.

Disturbing? It gets worse. If you head to a campsite by the sea below the mountain peak while the ghost is visible, you can sometimes hear whispering, and even screaming, after which you'll presumably nope nope nope the whole way back to the bright lights of Vinewood.

Heart of the city

While the Saint's Row series is notoriously more cartoonish than anything Grand Theft Auto puts out, the GTA games aren't what you'd call realistic. Sure, the world may look normal at a glance, but when you peek under the surface you can find all kinds of otherworldly things going on.

One of the most shocking and amusing Easter eggs in GTA 4 can be found inside the city's Statue of Liberty analogue, the Statue of Happiness. If you make your way inside of the grinning landmark, a move possible only by diving down onto the statue's ledge from a helicopter, you can discover a secret chamber with a ladder leading up into the hollow statue. 

Things feel ominous here pretty much instantly, and for good reason. If you ascend the ladder up into the cavity, you'll be treated to the stunning and impossible sight of a beating heart inside the statue, secured in mid-air by chains and bathed in eerie red light. 

Gray ice

You don't have to get very far into Grand Theft Auto 5 to start discovering the game's extraterrestrial connection. While getting 100% completion in the game can get you access to some glorious UFOs, you can start getting a handle on the truth that's out there as early as the tutorial mission. 

If you go off course during the game's opening and drive out onto the frozen river of North Yankton, there's a particular spot where the player can spy one of the game's alien models trapped underneath the ice with its arms outstretched. There's no explanation for the body, and no context — at the time of discovery, the origins of the alien are left completely unexplored. 

While it's relatively disturbing to start the game walking over the corpse of a dead alien, it's also an amusing statement of purpose from the game's designers. Sure, they're telling this grown-up story about criminal partnerships, betrayal, and redemption, but you don't have to take it all that seriously. The human drama is just a small part of this weird world.

Apartment 3C

The Grand Theft Auto games are a gold standard of the open-world genre for a reason: they really do give you just an insane amount of stuff to go and do. But one of the biggest limitations of the games, especially the earlier 3D games on the PlayStation 2, is their lack of indoor environments to go poking around in. It's an understandable limitation, of course, and no one really needs the ability to go into every building. As a result, most of the interiors you do manage to see generally serve some kind of purpose, being either a safehouse or somewhere important to the plot. If you can get inside a room, you can usually assume it's at least a little bit important. Sometimes, though, the game just wants to keep you on your toes.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has a unique room in the Ocean Beach neighborhood that shows the gory aftermath of a violent encounter, with blood sprayed all over the walls in the apartment's bathroom. There's also some amusing interactivity to the Easter egg, in that you can pick up a chainsaw from the crime scene. But what's going on here? 

The room is a reference to a scene from the 1983 movie Scarface, in which an associate of Tony Montana is violently killed in an apartment bathroom. Scarface's influence is all over Vice City, so it's not that out-there of a reference — but it's still a disturbing thing to stumble upon.

... with the fishes

For the longest time in Grand Theft Auto, water was something to be feared. In order to keep players from exploring too much at the beginning of the games, player characters were made to be completely unable to swim. Merely touching the water would trigger an instant death, making it somewhat tricky to go exploring for weird aquatic phenomena. But while you may not be able to swim in Vice City, there are still things to discover in the murky depths.

In three different areas around the city near the shoreline, the player can spy multiple shirtless dead men trapped beneath the water, their arms floating helplessly up toward the surface as concrete blocks around their feet weigh them down. 

The bodies are a reference to real-world violence in organized crime, with this method of execution having a particularly notorious foothold in pop culture. But they're also an in-game reference to the game's Forelli Family, who are mentioned by Ken Rosenberg as being known to indulge in this particular form of body disposal. Either way, it's a pretty disquieting sight if you happen upon it on accident. This city, man ... this city is just full of vice.

Footsteps of a killer

Grand Theft Auto 5 has more than one murderer walking around the state of San Andreas — and we're not just talking about your three playable characters. (They're killers, sure, but they're our killers.) 

Built into the game world is a complex, full-blown murder mystery, with a story that can be gleaned through newspaper articles and plain old exploration. Turns out, San Andreas was once a host to its very own (now deceased) serial killer.

Much like with the real-life Zodiac Killer, you can go down a deep rabbit hole trying to pin down the story of the game's so-called Infinity Killer — and all the clues are out there, if you just go looking for them. All around the game's map, you can find scrawled messages from the killer, as well as evidence of his origins and past crimes. If you follow the clues closely, you can even discover the bodies of his victims underwater, wrapped in plastic. The attention to detail makes for a very creepy, but oddly fulfilling, pseudo-sidequest, doing a lot to make San Andreas feel like a real (and real dangerous) place.

The Paleto Triangle

Games feel creepy when they start doing things you don't expect them to do. This is, after all, the basis for all kinds of video game-themed creepypasta, with photo-realistic Marios turning to the screen and crying blood, or what have you. 

While Grand Theft Auto 5 doesn't have anything quite that bonkers going on, there is an eerie area of the map where the rules break down, and the game betrays you. Players in the game's online mode have reported a persistent phenomenon in the waters northwest of Paleto Bay, where passing through via a helicopter, plane or boat consistently causes an unexpected warp. After the screen goes black, the player appears on shore, having lost both their vehicle and any cargo. Nothing about the phenomenon is explained.

While Rockstar eventually acknowledged the issue as a glitch, the inscrutable nature of the warp led players to draw parallels between the in-game phenomenon and the legendary Bermuda Triangle, a real-life area of the ocean known for swallowing travelers in mysterious ways.

The mysterious face

Sometimes things are creepy just because they're not explained — and if you tool around the sprawling Grand Theft Auto 5 map for long enough, you're going to find some mysterious stuff. 

San Andreas' Mt. Chiliad is a notorious nexus of mysterious activity in the world of GTA 5, with its peak being one of the areas at which you can find an in-game UFO, among other weird things. But one oddity that exists outside that mystery can be kind of creepy, if it catches you by surprise.

On the side of the mountain in the original Xbox 360 and PS3 release of the game, players can find a mysterious human face inexplicably etched into the rock, grinning inscrutably like the Mona Lisa of Blaine County. Theories about the origins of the face are abundant — as is typical, many believe it to be an inside-joke reference to one of the game's developers, though some also think that it's supposed to be Aaron Paul's character from Breaking Bad

Whatever it is, it's clearly there for some reason. Oddly, the developers replaced the face for the enhanced re-release of the game, switching it instead to a much less eerie (and much more profane) chalk drawing of a "rooster." Unlike the creepy face stencil, that new doodle doesn't need much explanation at all.

No country

The Grand Theft Auto games love their movie references, getting their criminal flavor more from gangster films and pop culture than real life cops-and-robbers cases. One detailed reference in Grand Theft Auto 5 makes a disquieting impression whether you've seen the movie that it's riffing on or not.

Out in the wilderness near Mt. Chiliad, players can occasionally come across a rather unsettling random event, with a number of dead bodies seen arrayed around empty cars. Evidently, the bodies are the outcome of a shootout — one that everyone lost. At the edge of the area, the player can find one character who's still breathing, clinging to life near a suitcase full of money. Scariest of all, with his dying breath, he begs you not to take the money. 

The setpiece is a pretty spot-on reference to a pivotal scene in the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, in which the protagonist gets on the wrong side of a very bad man by taking the money from this grisly scene for himself. 

Few gamers will resist the urge to take the cash, of course, but the movie reference makes the discovery more than a little ominous. Is grabbing that cash going to trigger an unstoppable hitman to hunt you down, tracking you doggedly from sea to sea? The answer is no (so get that money), but it's hard to be sure in the moment. Sometimes it feels like anything can happen in the frightening wilds of GTA.