Although each Grand Theft Auto is a self-contained game, and you won't need to play the previous titles to understand the new ones better; there are still some instances in which one game refers to another or when certain characters appear in multiple games.
Want to know if the Grand Theft Auto games are connected and how? This article spills the beans on all of them, including revealing which characters have multiple cameos and what the timelines look like.
How Exactly are GTA Games Connected?
The GTA games are not directly connected to each other in terms of their storylines. Still, they share some common elements and take place in the same fictional universe. The games occur in different cities located across the United States, and these cities include:
There are also some recurring characters and organizations that appear across multiple games in the series. Here is a list of several characters from the GTA series which have appeared in multiple games or media within the GTA universe, excluding Grand Theft Auto V:
- Claude: Claude first appeared as the main character in GTA III, and he is renowned as a criminal and a skilled driver. In GTA: San Andreas, his name is mentioned briefly when players discover that he fled to San Fierro after the storyline of GTA III ended.
- Tommy Vercetti: Tommy Vercetti is the protagonist and player character in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He is a former hitman who served time in prison before being sent to Vice City, a fictional city based on Miami, Florida. His story is continued in the game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, which follows Tommy's rise to power in Vice City. He does not appear in any other GTA games.
- Niko Bellic: Niko Bellic is a fictional character who appears in the Grand Theft Auto video game series. He is the protagonist and player character in Grand Theft Auto IV, and is a war veteran from Eastern Europe who comes to Liberty City to start a new life.
Niko's story continues in the game Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned, which takes place during the events of GTA IV and follows Roman as he becomes involved with a local mob. Niko has a cameo appearance in Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, which follows another character, Luis Fernando Lopez. In the game, Niko is a friend of Luis and helps him out from time to time.
- Toni Cipriani: One of the main characters of GTA: Liberty City, Toni, also appears in GTA: Vice City stories. In addition to that, he is also mentioned briefly in GTA: Chinatown Wars.
This list is not exhaustive, and many other characters have appeared in multiple Grand Theft Auto games or media within the GTA universe. Some of the most notable ones include:
- Lazlow Jones (Every game since GTA III)
- Catalina (GTA III and GTA: San Andreas)
- Salvatore Leone (GTA III, GTA: San Andreas, and Liberty City Stories)
- Karen Daniels (GTA IV and GTA V)
- Kent Paul (GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas)
- Ken Rosenberg (GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas)
Timeline and Universe
Although GTA games are not necessarily connected, they do share the same timeline. This basically means that every GTA game is set in a specific period, such as GTA: Vice City ('80s), GTA: San Andreas ('90s), and more.
In addition, GTA games can also be separated into 2D, 3D, and HD universes.
- 2D: The first two GTA games - GTA and GTA II (released in 1997 and 1999, respectively) belong to the 2D universe, as they are played from the top-down perspective.
- 3D: The first GTA game released in the 2000s was GTA III, and all GTA games released until GTA IV belong to the 3D universe. These games are played from the third-person point of view, but they do not have the HD graphics which came later.
- HD: The most recent GTA game - GTA V (and GTA Online), belongs to the HD universe, as they feature high-definition graphics, improved mechanics, and much more, compared to the previous titles.
Other features nearly all GTA titles have in common include various elements, including vehicles, businesses and establishments, fictional products, gangs, and much more.
Each GTA title is renowned for the huge choice of vehicles that players may drive. The following list will reveal some of the recurring vehicles that appear in multiple GTA games.
- Cars: There are various types of cars that appear in GTA games, such as sports cars, muscle cars, sedans, etc. Some of the models that appear in multiple games include Infernus, one of the most recognized cars in the GTA franchise. Another example is the Sentinel, a luxurious car, and a Patriot - SUV.
- Motorcycles: Although motorcycles became available in GTA: Vice City, there are many bikes to choose from. Some of them appear in multiple games, such as PCJ-600, a sports bike, or a Hexer, a cruiser type of bike.
- Boats: Similarly, boats did not appear until GTA: Vice City (excluding the parts of missions). Some of the most notable ones include Squalo, a speedboat, and the Tropic, a yacht.
- Planes: Planes that appeared in multiple GTA games are the Stunt Plane, a small type of plane, and the Mallard, a seaplane that can land on the water.
Here are some examples of business names that have appeared in multiple GTA games, rather than in just one single GTA game:
- Ammu-Nation: Ammu-Nation is a chain of gun stores that appears in several GTA games, including GTA: Vice City, GTA: San Andreas, and GTA V.
- Binco: Binco is a clothing store chain that appears in several GTA games, including GTA: San Andreas, GTA IV, and GTA V.
- Cluckin' Bell: Cluckin' Bell is a fast food restaurant chain that appears in several GTA games, including GTA: Vice City, GTA: San Andreas, GTA IV, and GTA V.
- Elite Unlimited Luxury: Elite Unlimited Luxury is a car dealership that appears in GTA: San Andreas and GTA V.
- Perestroika: Perestroika is a nightclub that appears in GTA: Vice City and GTA V.
- The Vibe: The Vibe is a nightclub that appears in GTA: San Andreas and GTA V.
- Well Stacked Pizza Co.: Well Stacked Pizza Co. is a pizza restaurant chain that appears in GTA: San Andreas and GTA V.
- Zirconium: Zirconium is a car dealership that appears in GTA: Vice City and GTA V.
- Zurkon: Zurkon is a chain of gun stores that appears in GTA: San Andreas and GTA V.
Some of the gangs featured in GTA games appear in multiple games, such as:
- The Grove Street Families
- The Ballas
- The Los Santos Vagos
- The Lost MC
- The Ancelotti Crime Family