Each Grand Theft Auto game introduces a new cast of characters. That’s why new villains are constantly being added to the series with each episode. Yet many of them share similar personality traits. They are typically power-hungry, greedy and ruthless ego maniacs. Plus, it’s rare to find one that’s sympathetic in any way.
But while there are similarities between many of them, not all of them are identical. Usually there is something about an antagonist that makes them stand out from the crowd, especially in the case of the best. And the following villains are certainly the best and live long in the memory.
8 Catalina (Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
Betrayal is common in the Grand Theft Auto series, but few happen as quickly as Catalina betraying Claude in GTA 3. It happens in the opening scene of the game and from then on she becomes the main antagonist.
She is clearly a cold woman, as she has no qualms about stabbing Claude in the back and leaving him for dead despite being together for nine years. She does it all to further her own criminal career. This is why it’s easy to hate her, which makes her an effective villain.
7 Dimitri Rascalov (Grand Theft Auto 4)
Grand Theft Auto 4 offers arguably the most immersive main story in the series. In fact, it’s one of the best story-driven games overall. Many characters contribute to the greatness, including Dimitri Rascalov.
For the first few hours that he knows him, Rascalov seems like a decent guy and definitely preferable to his friend Mikhail Faustin. But it turns out he’s just the most insidious when he later betrays Niko. After showing his true nature, it becomes clear that Rascalov has very few positive qualities, because he is a cowardly snake. That’s why it’s fun to take him down.
6 Sonny Forelli (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)
For much of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Tommy Vercetti works for and tries to please Sonny Forelli. Ultimately, that relationship is broken and Forelli becomes the main antagonist.
It’s not an example of a surprising moral turn for the gangster, as Forelli seems like a jerk from the start of the game. After all, he is greedy, manipulative and bad-tempered. So that he becomes a really unlikely villain is actually a relief, because it means you get to work against this vile human being.
5 Devin Weston (Grand Theft Auto 5)
There are plenty of villainous characters in Grand Theft Auto 5 – the protagonists could even be considered villains. However, few are as hateful as Devin Weston.
This man is a billionaire businessman, and he is not hiding that fact. In fact, he constantly references his wealth and talks to anyone who has less money than him, which is pretty much everyone in Los Santos, including Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. He is a great villain because he is very recognizable. Even if you’ve never met someone as wealthy as Weston, you’d probably run into people with a similar disposition.
4 Darko Brevic (Grand Theft Auto 4)
Darko Brevic is perhaps the closest thing to a sympathetic main villain. Yet he is probably more tragic than sympathetic. After all, this man sold all his comrades for drug money before the events of GTA 4.
There is something more to it, as he had also become disillusioned with the war after watching some of his loved ones die. The whole mess made him a broken man. It’s a compelling backstory and makes Darko a compelling villain despite his limited screen time.
3 Big Smoke (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
One of the most heartbreaking and surprising betrayals in GTA history is carried out by Big Smoke in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. This man is the first friendly face CJ is reunited with during the game. And in the early hours of the story, he seems like a staunch member of the iconic GSF gang.
More than that, he seems to be an effective cartoon character, which makes his betrayal even more shocking. It does make him a good villain though, because you really want to get him.
2 Steve Haines (Grand Theft Auto 5)
In real life, the average person isn’t a fan of government, and they’d hate them even more if Steve Haines really existed. He is a pompous FIB agent who only cares about himself and his career. As a result, he is willing to do whatever it takes to improve his position in government, including seemingly breaking every law imaginable.
What makes him even more hateful is the hold he has on the protagonists. With the dirt he has on Michael especially, he could easily ruin his life. So they have to do as he says, and he likes to rule over them.
1 Agent Tenpenny (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
Tenpenny is the first person you meet as CJ in GTA San Andreas. And from that first scene, it’s clear that this guy is a great and easy to hate villain. For starters, he is an incredibly corrupt cop who, instead of stopping gang violence and drug trafficking, encourages it and makes a profit from it.
He is also guilty of many stories of police harassment and brutality throughout the game. It seems that he loves to have power over people and is not afraid to abuse it. So overall, he’s a terrible human being.
NEXT: Best Main Missions in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas