Shack Chat: What is your favorite memory from the Grand Theft Auto franchise?

Grand Theft Auto 3 turns 20 years old today, so we're looking back at our favorite moments of the GTA franchise.


It’s a big week for Grand Theft Auto. In addition to getting release dates for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, GTA 3 celebrates its 20th anniversary today. With all that in mind, we decided to look back on our favorite memories from the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Question: What is your favorite memory from the Grand Theft Auto franchise?

Airport shenanigans - Donovan Erskine, Fan of chaos

Of the hundreds of hours I’ve put into GTA 4 and GTA 5, the vast majority of it was spent online with friends, causing chaos and chasing each other around Liberty City and Los Santos. One of our favorite locations on either map was the airport. The airport in those GTA games was just a breeding ground for utter chaos. We would hijack planes, blow each other up, and ram cars into each other at full speed. The wide open space coupled with all of the different aircrafts and vehicles available made it one of my favorite locations to screw around in.

"All we had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!" - Ozzie Mejia, More of a Saints Row guy

Alright, so this is the moment where I make my shameful confession that I haven't played a lot of Grand Theft Auto. And, of the Grand Theft Auto that I have played, there hasn't been a lot of it that's stuck out… with one very noteworthy exception.

If you've played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you remember this stupid mission. "Follow the Wrong Tracks" got the idea to have CJ follow a moving train so that Big Smoke could shoot at four gang members. This mission sucked for a multitude of reasons: Big Smoke having terrible aim, the oncoming train coming from the other track, the horrid driving controls, and a few other things I'm forgetting about. But, I'll never forget taking turns with my college roommates and all of us getting more and more drunk as we tried to figure this stupid mission out.

All the while, Big Smoke and his Stormtrooper aim kept yelling at us with "All we had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!"

My First Time and My Third Time - Blake Morse, Resident Old

The first time I ever laid eyes on the GTA series was in high school. My buddy Dave had installed a demo of the original top-down Grand Theft Auto onto one of the PCs in our English class. I remember us doing what so many groups of friends would end up doing for decades to come as we each took turns causing as much chaos as we could before our inevitable death at the hands of the police. I still remember having my mind blown away as my character leapt out of a stolen taxi cab that ran over several pedestrians as it rocketed into the water.

Fast forward a few years and I’m heading over to a friend’s for a visit. As I enter his room I see it, a third-person game with a sandbox environment. The game that would change everything: Grand Theft Auto 3. I remember being upset that they'd changed the perspective to third-person at first, but by the time I left my friend’s place I was convinced and made a pit-stop at my local Electronics Boutique to pick up a copy of my own. I still have that copy in my collection.

Buff CJ - David L. Craddock, Long Reads Editor

San Andreas fulfilled every wish I had for the series after Vice City. It was like Vice City, but more: More terrain, more NPCs, more missions, more ways to stir up trouble. Most of all, I appreciated that character customization went deeper than the threads I wore.

CJ was the main character, and my CJ was the complete opposite of my brother’s. He was fat and slow, mine was buff and able to outrun police officers and tanks dispatched by the government because someone--no idea who, it’s all a blur--instigated a multi-car pile-up on one of the highways between cities that resulted in the death of… well, it was a long time ago. I’m sure whoever was responsible is terribly sorry.

Shenanigans in GTA Online - Sam Chandler, I can fly a helicopter, I swear

Probably some of my favorite memories from GTA are from GTA Online. The amount of shenanigans and hilarious antics that occur when I’m playing with my fiance are just too damn high. If there’s a helicopter nearby, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m flying it, and I’m trying to get it to do a sick forward flip off the roof of a nearby skyscraper. Alternatively, I’m gunning it around the highway as we belt out some of the absolutely excellent songs that play on the in-game radio. It’s too hard to point to a single memory, because GTA Online has brought me so many great ones.

Grand Theft Auto 3 - Bill Lavoy, Rumpo

My favorite memory from the Grand Theft Auto franchise is Grand Theft Auto 3, without a doubt. That’s not to say that I liked it better than any of the others, but Grand Theft Auto 3 was my introduction into the idea of open-world games.

When Grand Theft Auto 3 released I was in my final year of college. While I had purchased a PS2 with my student loan money, my roommate bought the game and brought it home. We played it every night. For quite some time, it was all we played. While both of us had played video games before, neither of us had ever seen or experienced something like Grand Theft Auto 3’s 3D open world before.

I was so into Grand Theft Auto 3 that I chose my gaming nickname from it. For 20 years now I’ve used Rumpo as my gamer tag. Rumpo is an ordinary looking van from Grand Theft Auto 3 that has made appearances in some of the other entries, including Grand Theft Auto 5. People I’ve met online and even in person call me Rumpo, to the point where it’s almost interchangeable with my real name.

That’s what I remember about the franchise on Grand Theft Auto 3’s 20th anniversary; the way that chaotic 3D world changed the way I looked at games forever. That and a van.

Settling the Score, GTA 5 - TJ Denzer is vindictive like that

Grand Theft Auto 5 had quite the journey, but at the end of the game (sorry for spoilers on an eight-year-old title), your back is to the wall and Franklin is forced to make a choice by the sleaziest characters in the game. And then a twist happens at the last second, and you get the opportunity to say heck no to all of that. Franklin remedies matters with Trevor and Michael and they scheme their own plan to make the big players who have wronged them pay.

Bear in mind, up to this point, the characters you go after at the end of the game are the absolute worst pieces of garbage, believing themselves untouchable by you and your associates and acting with utter confidence that no matter how things play out, you will lose. The pleasure of dashing that overconfidence against the coastal waves of Los Santos and taking back control of Franklin, Michael, and (sort of) Trevor’s lives is a delicious payoff that stayed with me long after the credits rolled on GTA 5.

Vice City vibes - Dennis White, Community Manager

I honestly haven’t played a ton of GTA, but I do remember visiting my neighbor who was really into the games back in the day when I only had a Gamecube and I had already pushed my luck by convincing my mom to let me grab the newer Resident Evil titles. My friend gave me an afternoon to play around in Vice City. Cruising around causing chaos with that killer soundtrack was a great experience. I don’t remember a particular mission off hand but the appeal clicked to me a ot more after that day.

Those are our favorite memories from the Grand Theft Auto series. There’s a lot to choose from, so we’re curious to hear yours. Let us know in the Chatty down below!

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 22, 2021 1:45 PM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What is your favorite memory from the Grand Theft Auto franchise?

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 5:24 PM

      The GTA4 Trailer with Phillip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi

      Much Hype

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 5:40 PM

      Definitely burning the pot fields in San Andreas.

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 6:03 PM

      Madd Dogg continually falling off the roof in San Andreas during the cutscenes, so I always failed the mission. Both my cousin and I had the issue, we spent alot of time trying to do it but it never worked.

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 6:39 PM

      GTA VC cruising w/ soundtrack full blare.

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 7:18 PM

      I loved the sadly few missions where your ability to complete the objectives was totally open-ended, and allowed you to use the open world in inventive ways. The most memorable is, of course, the mob boss hit from GTA3. You're given something like 10 or 15 minutes while this dude leaves work and crosses the city to go to his mansion. I spent a stupid amount of attempts hijacking a bunch of busses and semi-trucks to block the entrance to his gated mansion. And when his motorcade stopped, I dropped grenades on it. It was glorious! Only made a little difficult by the fact that the busses and semi-trucks would de-spawm if you walked too far away, lol.

      That mission should have been the template for all the missions in those games. But nope...Rockstar doubled-down on cutscene-heavy scripted event missions instead. Boo!

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 7:48 PM

      I've played all of the 3d ones and I think my favorite memory is when Michael gets spiked by his son and he's falling through the air with Shine a Light by the C90's playing.

      • reply
        October 22, 2021 9:07 PM

        Do you remember Michael's son tea-bagging the intruders? LOL

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 9:05 PM

      Getting revenge at the end of GTA Iv and having it just be meaningless. The dude dies , it’s raining, staring up at the Statue of Liberty. Roman is gone…the end. Very cool melancholy ending

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 9:09 PM

      accidentally jumping out of a moving car because the controls in every gta game are fuuuuuucked

    • reply
      October 22, 2021 10:00 PM

      Editing in 'Real' car models and adjusting the friction and physics and ride heights and centers of gravity and fucking things up so that cars immediately flip over onto their roofs or they go sliding along like a ground effect vehicle or just don't move at all.

    • rms legacy 10 years legacy 20 years mercury super mega
      October 23, 2021 3:17 PM

      None. I have no interest in this franchise.

Hello, Meet Lola