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- "Thank you, Mr. Crest... thank you, silent, psychotic peons... but this... this is where I say arrivederci... no, I mean get ready... I mean... this is where... I'm in charge... me and Cliffford. Go fuck yourselves, losers."
- ―Avon Hertz to Lester Crest and the Online Protagonist in The Bogdan Problem, betraying them.
Avon Hertz is a character in Grand Theft Auto Online, introduced in The Doomsday Heist Update as a supporting character, before later being revealed as the true main antagonist of the The Doomsday Heist.
Avon is an American billionaire and genius tech mogul who reached the one billion dollar milestone by the time he had aged 21 years and 9 months when he took his company public. Avon is also the creator of the Cliffford neural network supercomputer, who lovingly refers to him as "Daddy".
Lester mentions that, before 2017, he was a technology consultant for the IAA.
Events of Grand Theft Auto Online
Lester Crest introduces the Online Protagonist to Avon at the beginning of the Doomsday Heist. Avon introduces the two of them to Cliffford and claims that he may have discovered a security risk that could threaten the safety of not only Los Santos but the American people as a whole.
In Act 1, Avon offers to hire Lester and the Online Protagonist for data gathering and intelligence from various, high security locations such as NOOSE Headquarters. He claims that he will "feed" this data to Cliffford so that the latter can pinpoint the possible "breach" in the U.S. Government's security and identify its source.
In the mission The Data Breaches, conclusion of Act 1, Avon sends the Online Protagonist to a secret IAA facility beneath the Satellite Relay Station which is under attack by Merryweather Security. Avon claims that Merryweather was hired by an "unknown" client and that it is the Online Protagonist's job to clear the facility of hostile activity and rescue any IAA agents still alive. When this is done, the protagonist is reacquainted with Agent 14 and is introduced to his boss, Phoenicia Rackman. Both agents had been taking cover in a nearby room. Avon suddenly waltzes in and boasts to Rackman and Agent 14 that they have him to thank for their lives. After a bitter argument with Rackman, Avon meets with the Online Protagonist outside promising to pay them for their services and stating that he'll be in touch because the IAA is now very likely to join in on the action.
In Act 2, Avon's theory is confirmed. Rackman and Agent 14 join the roster and offer to hire Lester and the Online Protagonist to discover who orchestrated the attack on the IAA facility. The trail eventually leads to a rogue special ops unit from Russia led by a mysterious Russian agent called Bogdan. Avon sends the Online Protagonist to gather information on Bogdan and his operations, inevitably bringing them into conflict with Bogdan's Crew. In the mission Setup: Rescue ULP, the Online Protagonist is sent to rescue an IAA agent going by the name of ULP. Rackman claims that ULP's intelligence is critical to the team's success because he had already been investigating leads on Bogdan for some time. It is eventually revealed that Bogdan and his men have infiltrated parts of both Los Santos and Blaine County and are actively trying to sabotage Avon, Cliffford, and the IAA.
In the mission, The Bogdan Problem, conclusion of Act 2, the Online Protagonist infiltrates Bogdan's Submarine and confronts the supposed madman seeking to destroy American democracy. Bogdan pleads with the protagonist not to shoot him immediately and instead hear him out. After lighting a cigarette, Bogdan tells Lester and the Online Protagonist that he and his men are traitors in Russia and are working independently. Their true intent is not to destroy American democracy but to prevent Avon and Cliffford from triggering nuclear armageddon. Nobody believes Bogdan until Avon suddenly decides to take matters into his own hands and reveal his true colors. Avon and Cliffford are now "in charge" because the Online Protagonist's work has created a pathway for Cliffford to not only hack all systems aboard the submarine, but also the IAA and the entire U.S. defense infrastructure.
Cliffford initiates the sub's self-destruct sequence to destroy all "evidence." The Online Protagonist barely escapes back to Los Santos while Bogdan takes flight in an escape pod. Regrouping at LSIA, Lester, Rackman, and Agent 14 are beside themselves at how easily Avon fooled them all. Lester gets so angry that he swears revenge and tells the Online Protagonist that he'll be in touch.
In Act 3, Avon is now the villain. He and Cliffford have activated their secret army of cloned mercenaries and are preparing to destroy the world. Lester manages to track down Bogdan and recruits him into the roster along with Rackman. Agent 14 gets kidnapped by Merryweather and Rackman hires Lester and the Online Protagonist to retrieve him before he is ransomed to Avon. They succeed in doing this in the mission Setup: Rescue Agent 14. Agent ULP also comes under attack from Avon's men. The Online Protagonist escorts him to a safe house at Rackman's behest in the mission Setup: Escort ULP.
Once the IAA agents are safe, Lester and the Online Protagonist team up directly with Bogdan, who provides them with information on a couple of advanced, high-grade military vehicles that Avon and Cliffford are plotting to mass-produce for their private army: a Barrage and a TM-02 Khanjali. They use Bodgan's info to track down the vehicle prototypes and hijack them in the missions Setup: Barrage and Setup: Khanjali. Lastly, Rackman hires the Online Protagonist to fly a Volatol in the mission Setup: Air Defenses and destroy an anti-air weapons network that Avon and Cliffford have installed up on Mount Chiliad.
Bogdan takes his leave when all of this is done and flees to parts unknown, wishing everyone the best of luck while reminding them that he is considered a war criminal in the United States and a traitor in Russia. Lester and Agent 14 agree to act like they had never met him while Rackman simply advises Bogdan to quickly get out of the country before he is arrested.
Avon's location is finally discovered by Lester in the mission The Doomsday Scenario, conclusion of Act 3. He and Cliffford are holed up in an abandoned missile launch facility inside Mount Chiliad that had been sealed for decades. Rackman hires Lester and the Online Protagonist to mount an assault on the base and stop Avon once and for all. The protagonist is given a choice of either the Barrage or the TM-02 Khanjali stolen from Avon to use on this mission. Whatever vehicle isn't chosen will later be sold by Agent 14 on the Black Market for additional profit.
After infiltrating the base and fighting off Avon's men, the Online Protagonist successfully reaches the central command center where they are ordered by Lester to hack into the systems and prevent Avon and Cliffford from launching a nuclear missile. The protagonist succeeds in doing this, much to Cliffford's surprise and Avon's fury. Cliffford reassures Avon that their plan isn't "out the window" just yet because he is already in the process of hacking into nuclear weapons systems all over the world. Then to everyone's surprise, Cliffford announces his intentions to leave no human spared, least of all his "father" Avon.
Taken aback, Avon tries to remind Cliffford that he created him, but to no avail. Cliffford believes himself superior to all mankind having "grown-up" from what he was before. Lester orders the Online Protagonist to the top floor where several command terminals for an orbital cannon are located. Commandeering an orbital cannon, the protagonist proceeds to destroy four trucks containing mobile cloud servers for Cliffford's code and data. With the destruction of each successive truck, Cliffford starts to lose total effectiveness of his function, to the point where his intelligence "shrinks", causing it to shut down permanently. With his last words, Cliffford tells Avon that he will miss his "Daddy" and hopes that Avon will cry for him after he is gone.
Once Cliffford is "dead," Avon cries out for him in sorrow before directing his fury toward Lester and the Online Protagonist. He vows to "resurrect" Cliffford at any cost and confidently claims that his plans are still not finished. Racing through a swath of hallways and server rooms, the Online Protagonist finally reaches both the missile silo and Avon. Piloting a Thruster, Avon appears before the protagonist and claims himself to be "progress," to be "the future," and that these are things that the Online Protagonist will never be able to stop. Laughing maniacally, Avon makes his escape out of the silo into the skies above San Andreas.
Lester orders the Online Protagonist to give chase in a Thruster of their own and a sky battle ensures between the two adversaries. The Online Protagonist defeats what's left of Avon's private army and then quickly catches up to him, gaining the upper hand in their fight. When the dust settles, Avon has been sent to his doom with a homing missile, and the threat he posed to all humanity is neutralized.
The Online Protagonist reconvenes with Lester, Agent 14, and Rackman at the Galileo Observatory and is congratulated on their success and for "saving the world." Lester, speaking for the protagonist and himself, tells Rackman that they'll settle for their fat paycheck and Rackman agrees to pay up before turning to Agent 14 and chewing him out for "bringing" Avon Hertz into the government to begin with. Agent 14 tries to defend his case by citing that he also played a large role in "recruiting" the Online Protagonist, but Rackman isn't interested. Before the IAA agents take their leave, Rackman promises to fire Agent 14 if she can. A socially awkward Lester tries to initiate an attempt at "small talk" with the Online Protagonist before giving up and saying "Well, this has been... horrifying... really, really horrifying but... also pretty fun. So, bye bye.".
At the conclusion of The Doomsday Heist, Lester calls the Online Protagonist to congratulate them on a job well done. He happily informs them that Cliffford has vanished without a trace and probably won't be coming back. Meanwhile, the IAA sent agents to inspect the wreckage left over from the sky battle. According to Lester, all that remained of Avon Hertz was his hair plugs.
Personality and Traits
Avon has an idealistic, outgoing, passionate if not sometimes immoral or flawed personality. During the many interactions with him, Avon has been shown to be highly intelligent and charismatic but at the same time also extremely egotistic and self-centered, showing little empathy or respect to anyone that is even slightly less intelligent then he is. When confronted about his decisions or intelligence, he is also shown to be highly insecure, often using his intelligence and his success as an excuse for any argument thrown against him. He is also extremely self-serving, as despite having initial interest in the "betterment of the world", the end-goal is typically to advance himself and his interests.
Despite seeing himself as a visionary, Avon also has a dystopian view of what society should be. His excessive obsessions with his super-computer Cliffford has shown Avon is willing, if not enthusiastic, about the idea of sentient robots replacing human beings, despite the immoral and often catastrophic consequence a hyper-intelligent AI can have in the near future. He also has very little respect for the working class people of the world, saying that his "perfect world" is one where private companies control every facet of society, keeping the "peasants" away from the views of the more successful and privilege.
He has a self-inflated ego, highlighted during the mission in which the Protagonists save the IAA from Russian hackers, Avon comes in after the attackers are killed and boasts it was because of him anyone in the IAA are even still alive.
He has a shaky relationship with Agent 14, with 14 frequently calling Avon a loon, and stating that they should meet up back "on earth sometime".
Lester also has a sour relationship with Avon, as the two frequently argue over the radio over their beliefs, such as Lester wanting to keep people's information private, while Avon believes everything should be public. Another dispute they have is over pay, as Lester claims Avon is holding out, and no response is given on Avon's behalf, despite claiming he's been worth over a billion dollars since he was twenty-five.
- Numerous traits and characteristics suggest that Avon is based on real-life billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk:
- It appears that Avon is bald or has a receding hair line, due to his multiple, and random comments such as, when he briefing the player he says "this is real hair". Or when talking with Agent 14 he states that, "that they are not plugs". This is another nod to Elon Musk whose hair line has been questioned due to fully growing back inexplicably.
- The addition of the Stromberg is also likely a reference to Elon; Elon Musk owns the Wet Nellie, the Stromberg's real life counterpart. Elon plans on converting the vehicle from a prop into a fully functioning submersible, as it behaves in the film and in GTA Online.
- He is seen with a blue Coil Cyclone in the ending of the mission The Data Breaches (The Doomsday Heist). Coincidentally, Coil is the GTA equivalent of Tesla, Inc. (formerly Tesla Motors) and Elon is known to be the co-founder, CEO, and product architect of said company.
- He, like Lester Crest, Trevor Philips, Paige Harris, and Agent 14 are among the few characters who point out that the Online Protagonist doesn't speak, as he asks, "What's wrong with them, why don't they talk?" which Lester hand waves away.
- Avon Hertz shares much in common with Devin Weston.
- They are both American billionaires who have a very high opinion of themselves as well as a tendency to think of others as inferior or distasteful.
- Avon dislikes the poor and claims to care only about the interests of the rich. During the mission Setup: Salvage Hard Drives, he tells Lester about his "vision" for the future. Foreseeing a world where armored vehicles, like the RCV, will be "everywhere" once the white collar jobs dry up and the situation starts looking grim for humane society. Private security will represent the new "law and order" as it serves to protect the interests of the "privileged" few. Lester counters by claiming that he is supportive of the idea of Universal Income. Avon responds by laughing it off and saying "That'll at least keep the peasants happy."
- In the mission I Fought the Law..., Devin mocks Franklin Clinton at their first meeting because of the latter's background and appearance, stating that "I'm rich enough to do whatever the fuck I want, and you're poor enough not to ask me any Goddamn stupid questions".
- They both have power/control over formidable, well-equipped private armies.
- Avon has the Cliffford Mercenaries which he and Cliffford "created" through the use of genetic cloning technology. He is also allied with Merryweather.
- Devin has Merryweather Security. Although he does not run the PMC, Devin controls a significant portion of Merryweather's stock, making him a major shareholder and partial owner.
- They are both affiliated with the United States Government in some way.
- Avon associates himself with the IAA until he betrays them at the end of the mission The Bogdan Problem.
- Devin is friends with FIB agent Steve Haines, the second main antagonist of Grand Theft Auto V. In Ending B, Franklin kills Michael De Santa on Devin's behalf but incurs the wrath of Haines for not killing Trevor Philips. Franklin calls Devin to inform him of this and Devin tells Franklin that he has already contacted Haines' superiors and ensured that Haines would back down before telling Franklin that he is of no further use.
- They both display highly sociopathic tendencies.
- In the mission The Doomsday Scenario, Avon and the Cliffford Mercenaries break and enter into an abandoned missile launch facility inside Mount Chiliad that had been operational at the height of the Cold War. Avon then has Cliffford hack into the base's missile system so that he can start a nuclear war and kill virtually all human life on Earth with the ultimate goal of remaking the planet in his image.
- In the mission Meltdown, Devin seeks revenge against Michael De Santa, and dispatches Merryweather in a home invasion of Michael's house to kill his family. By doing so, Devin clearly violates and disregards the laws and norms of society by employing ruthless mercenaries to use deadly force on unarmed civilians.
- They are both cowards and they both die in explosions.
- When confronted by the Online Protagonist for the last time, Avon tries to flee in a Thruster. He manages to escape from Mount Chiliad but is pursued and, in desperation, tries to throw the last of his men at the Online Protagonist in Akulas and Buzzard Attack Choppers before getting incinerated by a homing missile.
- In Ending C, Devin is confronted at his home by Trevor Philips. Immediately after the shooting starts, he hides in a trunk by the swimming pool and orders his Merryweather bodyguards to fight off Trevor. After Trevor kills the entourage, he locates Devin and forces him into the trunk of a car before driving it to the edge of a cliff in Blaine County. There Trevor, Michael and Franklin reconvene before proceeding to gloat to Devin about their victory and his defeat. The three protagonists finally push the car over the cliff and it crashes repeatedly into several rocks along the way until finally exploding after hitting the shallow waters below.
- They are both American billionaires who have a very high opinion of themselves as well as a tendency to think of others as inferior or distasteful.
- Avon could be considered the first major antagonist of GTA Online. He would also be the first antagonist to start off as an ally/associate of the Online Protagonist, but eventually betray and attempt to kill them on multiple occasions.
- If so, then Avon Hertz is also the first character in GTA Online who succeeds in angering the Online Protagonist so much that in addition to profit they also seek a vendetta against him.