Why Michael Is My Favorite Character In “Grand Theft Auto V”

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When it comes to choosing a favorite character from Grand Theft Auto V’s three playable protagonists, a lot of people go for Trevor. He’s brash, funny, and likes to blow shit up — totally symbolizing the spirit of Grand Theft Auto. I’ve also heard quite a few people who like Franklin’s heist-happy twist on the classic rags-to-riches story.

That’s the fun of GTA V: having three playable characters, you have three chances to find a story that engages you. For me, it’s all about Michael, a man who made a career of robbery until, 10 years ago, he staged his own death to live a quiet life in a Los Santos mansion with his wife and two kids. There are plenty of reasons to like Michael, so here are mine…

He Has a Compelling Character Arc

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Maybe I’m just a sucker for the self-loathing types — the ones who try to convince themselves they have good hearts but can’t quite escape their dirty pasts. Michael is very much that type, and one of the first scenes in GTA V shows him pacing around his psychologist’s office. He wants to be a changed man, and that makes him a character to root for right from the start. But let’s face it: nobody wants to see him change. Be happy, yes — but being boring isn’t good for video games. The transformation we want to see is him becoming a badass criminal just like he used to be, and now with the age and money to do it in style… in a suit.

But never mind what we’re really rooting for. With Michael, the most important thing is that he has an interesting arc. Franklin’s story is almost a coming-of-age type, while Trevor is just Trevor, forever and always. Meanwhile, Michael’s story is that of real change in middle age. Maybe it’s about being a better person — a family man — or maybe it’s about embracing those inner demons. Either way, the start of the game sees Michael conflicted and on the cusp of major change, and you know you’re going to see him whirl in one direction or another as the story unfolds.

His Family Missions Are Some of the Best Missions

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Most of my favorite GTA V missions so far have been the ones revolving around Michael’s family life. Early on, these include forcing his teenage son to go on a father-son bike ride, dragging his teenage daughter off of a boat filled with porn film makers, and being trapped into doing yoga with his wife. All of these missions are just a tad over-the-top and totally hilarious; they’re perfect satires on what everyone must imagine life to be like living in an LA mansion with a “perfect” yet dysfunctional family.

Besides that, players can go visit Michael’s psychologist at different points in the game to listen to Michael dissect his life. Players have the option of making Michael agree with the psychologist or not. And to make everything even sweeter, we get to see hints of the slimy side of the psychologist, who always says time is up just before Michael gets to his epiphany in order to weasel more sessions out of him…

It’s this satire that makes Michael’s storyline an easy win for me. Although I have to say that rampaging with Trevor is a lot of fun, Michael’s family missions are lower key and all the more funny for being relatable.

His Temper Makes Him Totally Lose It

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Put in context with Trevor’s somewhat deranged side and Franklin’s youth, there’s something satisfying about seeing a middle-aged man with a family go berserk on people once in a while. Even if we do root for Michael to succeed at being a good husband and father and embrace things like health juice and yoga (yeah, right…), we’re secretly longing for those moments when he starts to unravel.

Michael has a lot of obvious flaws. He’s arrogant, critical of others, and a little too sarcastic. Best of all, he’s a classic overreacter who’s always ready to fly off the handle over the most trivial things. One of his first missions has him chasing down the tennis instructor who has been having an affair with his wife and literally pulling a mansion off the hillside it was built on, all in the name of revenge. And when he’s not overreacting, he’s bitching about things. About being too old for triathlons. About his son sitting on his ass all day playing video games. At other drivers for scratching his expensive (even when stolen) car.

Personally, I can’t wait for those moments with bitching becomes action, and he loses it. It’s that combustible combination of everyday family man and slightly unhinged criminal that makes Michael so fun to be around. Just as he fights that part of himself that loves crime, we players hope he gives in to his bad side, because it’s so much more GTA than his good one.

Ashley

10 thoughts on “Why Michael Is My Favorite Character In “Grand Theft Auto V””

      1. I definitely loved the fact that he was stuck in the 80s. Speaking of the 80s, I also loved that Kenny Loggins was the host of the Classic Rock station. There’s so many little things like that to love in GTA V!

  1. I have to agree with you as well. Though I’m still early in the game, Michael is the character I most enjoy playing — he’s almost too wry for his own good!

    1. Yes! Another Michael fan! People seem pretty split between liking Trevor or Michael the best from what I’ve heard… sorry, Franklin.

      I’m still early in the game too… I think. Or maybe halfway through. It’s hard to say how long this game is going to end up being!

  2. I like Michael the most too. Easily the best character arch in the game, and I too really enjoyed his family stuff.

    I really like having three characters to choose from though. It totally changes the way I play the game. It’s not quite where I would like a game to be, but it’s closer. In GTA4, I always tried to play as a relative good guy as Nikko, but obviously that doesn’t make sense with the story.

    When I play as Michael, I don’t kill the characters walking around or run over them. I like just casually driving or walking around the city as Michael, and hanging out with Franklin or his son, and I’ve spent a ton of time playing tennis with Amanda.

    Franklin I play as when I want to drive fast and hit stunt jumps and stuff, and talking with the folks walking around. Maybe rob a few stores and hit a few people, but that’s about it. Trevor, well he’s the guy I go to when I want to play it like GTA is “supposed” to be played. Senselessly running over folks, throwing out sticky bombs, launching grenades, beating anyone around to death with a bat, and of course lots and lots of shootouts and crazy chases with the cops.

    Majority of the time though, I roll with Michael.

    1. That is awesome, I wish I had started role playing better from the start. You’ve got the right idea — it’s cool having three characters and being able to act differently depending on who you’re playing, because each has his own style and moral compass (or lack thereof). Being the one with a conscience, Michael is probably the easiest to relate to in the game.

      Like you, I’ve spent a ton of time just hanging out as Michael, playing tennis, going golfing with Franklin, doing the triathlon, going to the psychiatrist, etc. If I have free time and just want to bum around Los Santos, I almost always do so as Michael!

  3. so we have a crazy pshyco a gangsta that wont stop complaining and a middle age ex bank robber hard choise still i prefer michael

  4. Michael is best with many reasons that trevo doesnt have them if i want to be a criminal i choose to be michael the family man the richest one have a powerful humanity charecter sorry for his flaws in life being handsome and charismatic i never like to be trevo he is wild and yes his missions are nice in action type but charecter is more important for me in any thing because i like when i play think that im that person

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