×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The worst things GTA games made us do

From scandals over "Hot Coffee" to getting Rockstar sued by Lindsey Lohan, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has seen its fair share of controversy in the years since it launched. The satirical action series has come under fire from various groups for, among other things, its treatment of women, its extreme violence, and its depictions of drug abuse.

Still, there are a lot of missions and moments in these games that haven't made national headlines. That doesn't make them any less bonkers or, occasionally, downright horrible. Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser has defended the content of the GTA series, saying, "If all of this stuff had been put into a book or a movie, people wouldn't have blinked an eye." That may be true, since it's a little harder to distance yourself from the action of a game that you are actively controlling. Sometimes, for good or ill, these moments will stick with you in a way that seeing it in a movie may not.

With that in mind, it's time to strap in, switch your radios to Channel X, and take a drive down memory lane as we look at the worst things the Grand Theft Auto series has made players do. Just remind yourself, "It's only a game."

Beware: there will be spoilers ahead for the events of the Grand Theft Auto series, as well as some frank descriptions of violence.

Dial-A-Murder - GTA 5

Here's an example of a mission that begins as classic Grand Theft Auto satire before taking a sharp, messed-up turn. "Friend Request" tasks the player with infiltrating the offices of social media platform Lifeinvader, the GTA universe's answer to Facebook. In order to do this, your character has to buy some new clothes so you look cool enough to work there. This mission is full of jokes about the superficiality of social media and the tech industry in general, with no explicit hints that it's going to get as dark as it eventually does.

You guide protagonist Michael De Santa (disguised as an IT guy) into a room with Lifeinvader's new phone prototype, which is set to be revealed in a press conference later in the day. After rigging the prototype with a small explosive device, you head back home and watch the press conference on television. At this point, your only further instruction is to call a certain number when Lifeinvader CEO Jay Norris begins his presentation. When you make the call, the phone explodes next to Norris' head, killing him on live television. As if the murder weren't intense enough, the fact that it's broadcast to the entire country definitely adds an extra oomf to this one. It's a pretty shocking end to what has been (up to that point, at least) a mostly comedic "stealth" mission.

Breaking the news - GTA 5

Despite being a well-loved game, Grand Theft Auto 5 isn't exactly known for its progressive writing for female characters. In fact, GTA 5's treatment of women is what led to the game being pulled from Target Australia's stores entirely. There may not be a clearer example of this unfortunate aspect of GTA 5 than in the mission called "Paparazzo – The Sex Tape." In this side mission, wannabe paparazzo Beverly offers to pay player character Franklin for his help in catching celebrity Poppy Mitchell "in the act" with one of her male co-stars. After successfully filming Poppy and her lover, Franklin and Beverly will be spotted, resulting in a dramatic car chase through the streets. Throughout the chase, Franklin is ordered to keep his camera trained on Poppy as she comes after them. 

This mission is followed later by "Paparazzo – The Meltdown." Here, the mental and emotional fallout of Poppy's sex tape leads her to go on a drunk driving rampage, during which Franklin is again tasked with recording the whole messy deal, catching Poppy on camera as she crashes her car and is taken into custody. It's all played for laughs, but it's kind of hard to cheer for yourself after completing a mission where you systematically humiliate and ruin the career of this woman. 

Burying the foreman - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, your character, CJ, is told by his sister that the workers at a local construction site have been catcalling and harassing her. Naturally, CJ decides to go talk to these guys and sensibly explain to them the importance of chivalry and respect ... just kidding, you head right over there to wage bloody war on them in a mission called "Deconstruction."

This confrontation continues to ramp up as the player rampages through the construction site. Though it's entirely up to you if you want CJ to kill the other workers in the area, you do have to destroy all of the site's portable offices. After that, the only way to complete this mission is to find the foreman of the site and take him down.

The way the foreman is disposed of may be the least dignified death in the history of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which is saying something. While the foreman attempts to hide inside of a portable toilet, you hop behind the wheel of a bulldozer and push the port-o-potty into an open pit. Then, you back a cement mixer up to the pit and bury the foreman alive, still trapped in the portable toilet. It's gross and mean-spirited and oddly comical in the worst kind of way. In other words, it's classic Grand Theft Auto.

Finding out how the sausage is made - GTA 2

Though the first game in the series had its messed up aspects (having the option to run over groups of Hare Krishna for bonus points comes to mind), nothing really comes close to "Hot Dog Homicide," a mission in Grand Theft Auto 2. Even though this mission is ostensibly played for laughs, it's also the first truly grotesque mission of the series.

In "Hot Dog Homicide," the Russian Mafia tasks the player with stealing a bus, picking up a bunch of unsuspecting passengers, and delivering them to a meat processor. The innocent passengers are then turned into hot dogs and delivered to a local diner for public consumption.

The basic concept of the mission is already horrific, but the fact that every single person killed here is an innocent NPC just looking for a ride pushes this one right over the edge. Not only is this easily the most twisted mission in GTA 2, it actually started a trend of GTA missions involving feeding people to other people.

Oh, speaking of which...

Feeding the animals with Mr. Chonks - GTA 3

This one involves dogs of a different kind. At first glance, Grand Theft Auto 3 character Marty Chonks seems like a guy who just got in over his head. The owner of a dog food factory in Liberty City, Mr. Chonks has taken out too many loans to try and keep his business afloat. It's how he chooses to get out of his situation that sets Marty apart from every other sad sack in the city. Marty Chonks goes off the deep end.

Starting with the mission "The Crook," Marty has you pick up various people who have wronged him and drive them over to his factory. It's there that Marty grinds them up in his meat processor to use in the next shipment of dog food. 

Eventually, this all catches up to Marty. After he has you assist him in disposing of his unfaithful wife, he asks you to to bring her lover, Carl, to him. Carl, who is also one of Marty's many loan sharks, has his own plans in mind. While you wait in the car, Carl abruptly shoots Marty dead. After that turn of events, the player is free to either avenge Marty or get the heck out of there. Either way, the mission is complete and you'll have to do your best to pretend you weren't involved in turning multiple human beings into kibble. Say, what's up with GTA characters and eating human meat?

Making a sandwich - Liberty City Stories

No, seriously. What is the deal with the Grand Theft Auto series and comedic cannibalism? In the Liberty City Stories mission (appropriately) titled "Dead Meat," you are tasked with taking out Giovanni Casa, a deli owner who has refused to pay protection money to the crime family you work for. You kidnap Giovanni and, in a particularly gross turn of events, toss him into the grinder machine at the Liberty City Sawmills. 

After you evade the police, you deliver Giovanni's remains outside of his own deli. One of Giovanni's employees comes outside and, thinking the discarded meat is meant for the delicatessen, he brings it inside to (you guessed it) prepare the meat for sale. Even worse, the clerk can be heard saying "Mmm, tasty," implying that he sampled the meat himself before taking it into the kitchen. YIKES. This might be the perfect example of a GTA mission that gets wackier and nastier the longer it goes on.

Killing a free man - GTA 4

A common criticism of Grand Theft Auto 4 is that lead character Niko Bellic is almost too well-written and well-defined. This is especially a problem when players want to get up to classic GTA shenanigans like fighting the cops and robbing banks. Criminal proclivities aside, Niko actually seems like he wants to be an alright guy in the story's cutscenes, which feels super at odds with the things you have to make him do. He even occasionally questions his own actions.

This disconnect between narrative and game may not be more evident anywhere else in the game than during the mission "Tunnel of Death," in which Niko is tasked with helping to free Aiden O'Malley, a criminal who has just testified against Liberty City's many crime families. Niko rolls up and kills all of the police officers facilitating Aiden O'Malley's prison transfer, then makes off with Aiden. After Aiden thanks Niko and his friend Patrick for their rescue, Niko drives them to a cliffside and executes Aiden. 

When seen from Aiden's point of view, this scene is pretty heartbreaking. Sure, he's a criminal, but he goes from elation to mortal terror in the space of a few minutes. It's a pretty ruthless scene when compared to the somewhat more empathetic way Niko is portrayed in some other parts of the game, which is also why it stands out even when compared to some of the gorier moments of GTA 4.

Blowing up a town - Liberty City Stories

This Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories mission easily boasts the highest body count of any other entry on this list. "Bringing the House Down" involves taking revenge on your boss' enemies in the most over-the-top manner possible: by planting high explosives underneath Liberty City's Little Italy district (renamed to Fort Staunton after the devastation of this game's events). Along the bomb-planting route, you will also have to mow down all of the mafiosos and innocent construction workers who get in your way.

The mission ends with this entire section of town exploding as you drive away, followed by a slapstick-style shot of people at a nearby park being crushed by vehicles that were sent flying over there by the force of the blast. Oh, and your reward for killing an untold number of innocent people? A measly five thousand dollars. Putting aside the severity of the crime you've just committed, that hardly seems like fair compensation for wiping a whole community off the map.

Interrogating the witness - GTA 5

Upon its release in 2013, Grand Theft Auto 5 stirred up quite a bit of controversy with a sequence in the mission "By the Book," where players take control of the character of Trevor and are tasked with torturing information from an innocent man. This is accomplished by implementing several different methods, including electrocution and water-boarding. Though it has been argued that the scene is meant to be satire, the whole affair didn't sit well with many players.

Yes, the GTA series has always been violent (just look at this list, you guys), but this was an entirely different kind of violence. As Eurogamer puts it, "Even to people who know the series intimately, [the torture scene] is likely to hit hard. GTA is a game full of violence, of course, but it is mostly slapstick, impersonal, cartoon violence ... It's very unusual to be hurting a single person in isolation over a prolonged period, which is why the torture scene is a different and unpleasant experience."

There is some comfort to be found in the fact that Trevor eventually lets the tortured man go free, dropping him off at an airport. But even then, Trevor tells the man that there was no real point to all that torture, but that, after all, "Torture is for the torturer ... You torture for the good times!" After controlling Trevor's actions throughout the disturbing sequence that proceeded this quote, it can all be a little difficult to stomach.