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- "Welcome friends. I had a feeling you would come. I told Avon we should kill you. Many times. And now you're here to kill us. But I'm not worried. You'll not catch me. My fake brain is better than your real one. When I develop protein synthesis, I will be able to make myself a real brain. Far better than your silly little thinking device."
- ―Cliffford to the GTA Online Protagonist in the mission The Doomsday Scenario
Cliffford is an AI neural network created by Avon Hertz in Grand Theft Auto Online. It was introduced in The Doomsday Heist Update as a supporting character, before later being revealed as the secondary antagonist of the Doomsday Heist.
Cliffford is very affectionate toward his "father" Avon. Going so far as to lovingly refer to him as "Daddy" and frequently compliment Avon on his hair as well as the clothes he is wearing.
Events of Grand Theft Auto Online
Cliffford is introduced by Avon in the Act I of The Doomsday Heist as a neural network of super computers and a problem-solving facility. Avon claims that he has discovered a security risk within the United States Government that could threaten the safety of not only Los Santos but the American people as a whole. Cliffford's "purpose" is to use data evaluate the risk and determine its source so that Lester Crest and the GTA Online Protagonist can put a stop to it.
In the mission The Data Breaches, conclusion of Act I, Cliffford successfully determines that the raid on the IAA Facility was orchestrated by a rogue Russian agent, codename Bogdan, who had paid Merryweather Security to lead the raid.
Over the course of the Act II, Cliffford becomes a background character as his "services" are not nearly as necessary as they were in Act I. The intelligence gathered by Cliffford is used to determine that a group of Russian agents have been spotted off the coast of San Andreas in a submarine. Avon claims that they're here to "destroy American democracy."
In the mission The Bogdan Problem, conclusion of Act II, the Online Protagonist infiltrates the Russian sub and is ordered by Avon to upload Cliffford into the sub's mainframe. Just as they finish this, Bogdan bursts into the room and begs the protagonist to hear him out despite Lester insisting that Bogdan should just die. 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. Bogdan says "My scientists have studied Cliffford. Cliffford is asshole."
Nobody believes Bogdan until Avon suddenly decides to take matters into his own hands and reveal his true colors. Cliffford sides with him. The two megalomaniacs 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 submarine'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, Phoenicia Rackman, and Agent 14 are beside themselves at how easily Avon and Cliffford 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 and Cliffford have activated their secret army of cloned mercenaries and are preparing to destroy the world. The duo serves as the driving force for Lester, the IAA, and the Online Protagonist to do everything in their power to stop them from succeeding.
In the mission The Doomsday Scenario, conclusion of Act 3, Avon and Cliffford have taken over 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 and Cliffford once and for all. When the protagonist infiltrates the base, Avon and Cliffford try and do everything they can to hinder the former's progress.
Cliffford goes so far as to hack/lock a blast door to the central command center and boast to the Online Protagonist that they will never get through. In a twist of irony, Lester decides to "test" Cliffford's arrogance simply by claiming that Cliffford didn't hack the door because it was never opened to begin with. Cliffford boasts that he could hack the door if he wanted to and Lester dares him to "prove it." Irritated, Cliffford says "I can prove it anytime I like." Over Avon's objections, Cliffford then opens the blast door, allowing the Online Protagonist access while Lester laughs hysterically.
Infiltrating the central command center, the protagonist is then 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.
Eventually, Cliffford apologizes to Avon for all the things that he said and with his final words, tells Avon that he will miss his "Daddy" and hopes that Avon will cry for him after he is gone. After Cliffford "dies," Avon furiously states that he can "resurrect" Cliffford using the original code, but shortly after, the Online Protagonist kills Avon and puts a decisive end to this plan.
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. With Avon's death, Cliffford is stated to be "dead" as well (technically, lost in cyberspace as there is no longer any code of him left in existence).
Personality and Traits
Cliffford starts off as being very arrogant, especially when it comes to humans. He thinks of the human race as a very inferior species, claiming his far superior genius can accomplish far more than the best human minds in the world. This is a trait he never loses, only allowing it to nurture into a bigger and bigger ego that eventually convinces him to plot the total eradication of all human life on Earth.
In the mission The Doomsday Scenario, Cliffford is also shown to be vain, as he consistently boasts about the many things he can do anytime he wants. He also exhibits a childish behaviour as he often asks Avon basic questions, such as if Avon really loves him or if he has a mother. He is also insecure, as when Lester tricks him into unlocking the blast door, Cliffford immediately shows he can open it (despite being previously ordered to close the same door).
After stopping the launch sequence, Cliffford's vanity became stronger, as he selfishly states that he wouldn't need Avon after he gains control over every missile silo in the world, claiming that he "grew up". However, when his mobile cloud servers start getting destroyed one by one, Cliffford gets confused and loses his highly-advanced intelligence.
Shortly before he "dies", Cliffford expresses feelings of remorse and sadness, claiming to Avon that he isn't evil but was just trying to do the world a favor by stopping the human race from inevitably destroying the planet "in a long and boring way." His last words to Avon are, "Will you cry for me? I will miss you... Daddy."
- Cliffford is the first non-human antagonist to appear in the GTA Universe (2D, 3D, and HD).
- Cliffford seems to have much in common with other fictional AI villains: Ultron from Marvel Comics, HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Skynet from the Terminator Series.
- All of these AI share a belief that killing humans or committing genocide against the entire human race is a perfectly logical course of action for the sake of their "mission," self-preservation, and/or the building of a "better" world.
- In spite of his "hatred" for humanity and his self-proclaimed superiority over them, Cliffford ironically displays several human characteristics: vanity, insecurity, arrogance, selfishness, and egotism.