- "I pay you to listen to my problems. I'm rich. I'm miserable. Half the time, my kids can't stand me. The other half, my wife is cheating on me. I kill people without remorse, Doc. Hell, I'm pretty average for this town, really."
- ―Michael De Santa
- "I'm just a fat washed up jock who can't get his head around the fact his high school football career didn't play out the way that he planned. The only way I'm content and competent is with a gun in my hand or a price on my head."
- ―Michael during his therapy session.
Michael was born in the mid-to-late 1960s, possibly in the Midwest, which would explain why he spent some of his earlier criminal career in North Yankton. As a child, he didn't have the advantages his children have and grew up in a poor environment with his parents, where his father drank alcohol and physically abused him. During his time in high school, Michael was a quarterback for an all-state football team.
As time moved on, Michael eventually became a criminal, with his first bank job being in the outskirts of Carcer City in 1988, where he was able to steal $10,000. In the same year however, he was arrested twice. While in prison, Michael was able to master many skills, sometimes through bizarre events, such as learning how to do tattoos by tattooing his name on his cellmate's buttocks.
As the years went on, Michael met Trevor Philips while escorting cargo. The deal went somewhat down south but both men were able to notice that they work well together: Michael would plan out details for jobs while Trevor would execute them. From that point on, Michael and Trevor created a solid friendship but an uneasy partnership with each other. They were both somewhat successful at their profession, but Michael claims that they were always impecunious and constantly on the run from the law, which was mostly due to Trevor's rage issues that would cause him to kill someone in broad daylight. While the friendship between them was in fine condition, it was later strained as Michael met his future wife Amanda - who was a stripper at the time. Using his criminal proceeds, Michael was even able to buy Amanda some breast implants, which would help with her stripping as well as her days as a hooker. This lead to Michael creating his own prostitution racket.
While the couple's love for one another grew over time, Michael and Amanda married each other while living in a trailer park in the Midwest. As time moved forward, Amanda soon gave birth to their two children, Jimmy and Tracey. Michael, who was able to see that he had a lot more to lose if he was ever killed or imprisoned, grew more cautious over time as a criminal - much to Trevor's annoyance.
At some point in 2004, Michael met FIB agent Dave Norton. Michael struck a deal with Norton to give Trevor up to the FIB and fake his death in the process, in exchange for a cut of his accumulated millions and letting Norton "kill" him in the upcoming bank heist in Ludendorff, North Yankton - a move that would make Norton's career as the agent who took down the "Most Wanted Man in America".
The robbery, however, turned out to be a disaster; after Trevor murdered a guard, he, Michael and their accomplice Brad Snider were ambushed by over a dozen police officers ready to arrest or kill them. During the getaway, their driver was killed by pursuing police; Michael took the wheel and drove the crew to the ambush spot he and Norton had agreed on, where he claimed there was an escape chopper waiting. However, things yet again deviated from their plan when Brad was accidentally shot by Norton (later succumbing to his wounds) after he walked in front of Trevor. Michael took the second bullet as planned - although the lack of blood loss implies that he was wearing a bullet proof vest - and acted as if he believed the wound was fatal, imploring Trevor to leave him behind. Enraged beyond sense, Trevor proceeded to massacre numerous police officers before barely escaping the ambush (to Michael's chagrin) with his life.
After the incident, Michael Townley was pronounced dead. True to his word, Dave arranged for Michael to receive a comfortable stipend and a relocation to a large Los Santos mansion, where he and his family lived under the surname "De Santa" (a longtime alias of Michael's); thus, Michael received an off-the-books way to safely retire from his former criminal life and spend time with his wife and kids in exchange for a monthly five-figure "hush money" payment to Norton in exchange for his silence.
Events of GTA V
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Nine years later after the events of his false death, Michael's domestic life is spiraling out of his control. Amanda rarely shows love towards him because of his rude behavior and his children have little respect for him. With all of this, Michael goes through a midlife crisis and goes to therapy often. After one therapy session, Michael has a chance encounter with a Los Santos youth named Franklin Clinton, whom he unknowingly directs to Franklin's repossession assignment along with his friend Lamar Davis.
A short time later his son Jimmy buys an SUV from Simeon Yetarian, an Armenian car salesman who sells the car to him at an unaffordable price. This causes Yetarian's repo man, the same Franklin Clinton, to "repossess" the SUV from the De Santa household. However, Michael spots Franklin sneaking in and hides in the backseat of the car prior to Franklin stealing it. Michael reveals himself and holds Franklin at gunpoint, ordering him to go to Yetarian's shop and drive the SUV through the store's window. Afterwards, Michael pays Franklin to leave and beats Yetarian into submission, threatening more violence if he pulls another of his sales tactics on him or his family again.
At home, Michael attempts to relax by his pool, only to be interrupted by Franklin, who takes up his offering of a drink earlier. Surprised that Franklin actually took it to heart, Michael decides to take him out drinking. Unfortunately, Jimmy calls that instant and reveals he has tried to sell Michael's boat, ending with the "buyers" hijacking the yacht themselves. Enraged, Michael along with Franklin drives after the boat and saves Jimmy, but is unable to rescue the yacht. Michael becomes angry at Jimmy but becomes fond of Franklin, whom he tells to visit him any time.
After the fiasco with the boat, Michael discovers Amanda sleeping with her tennis coach, leading him and a recently arrived Franklin to give chase. Furious, Michael chases the coach to an exotic house on the side of the Vinewood Hills. Michael then orders Franklin to hook their truck's winch onto the supports of the house as he pulls them loose, causing the house to collapse, much to Franklin's shock and Michael's joy. However, it turns out that the house did not belong to the coach, but the girlfriend of a powerful Mexican gangster named Martin Madrazo, who sends men after Michael and Franklin. The two manage to fend them off, but Madrazo arrives at the De Santa residence. He orders a henchman to hit Michael with a bat before demanding that Michael pay for the damages in an installment of two million dollars - money that Michael does not have.
With no other choice, Michael decides to return to bank robbing and contacts his old partner Lester Crest. Crest agrees to help Michael get the money if the latter agrees to sabotage founder of Lifeinvader, Jay Norris' phone. Michael does so and causes Norris' death when he calls the entrepreneur's sabotaged phone, causing it to explode and kill him instantly.
After collecting information about a jewelry store and its gems, Michael and Lester set up a heist, with Michael insisting that Franklin be a part.
- "You forget a thousand things every day, pal. Make sure this is one of ‘em."
- ―Michael to the security guard during the heist.
The heist goes smoothly, and Madrazo is paid. Unfortunately for Michael, the job is reported on the news, which Trevor sees on his TV. Trevor recognizes Michael's modus operand from the report and goes partially berserk, making his way to Los Santos to confront the "ghost" of his former partner and friend.
Back home, Michael finds marijuana in the fridge, and correctly assumes it is Jimmy's. This creates an angry argument among the family until Trevor arrives, much to everyone's shock and horror. Thankfully, the tension is broken by Jimmy revealing that Tracey has gone to audition for Fame or Shame. Realizing that Tracey will embarrass herself in front of the nation due to her horrible dancing, Michael and Trevor rush to the Maze Bank Arena.
The two find Tracey doing a stripper-like dance and the show's host Lazlow Jones beginning to do a sexual pose behind her, enraging both Michael and Trevor. The two give chase to a fleeing Lazlow to the Los Santos river. Trevor forces Lazlow to take off his pants and dance for them as he records on his phone. In the aftermath, Tracey angrily blames her father for ruining her life, which doesn't seem to bother him.
Soon after, Michael is assigned by Dave Norton to do a favor for him. When they get to the meeting point, Dave requests him to confirm the death of a suspect in a morgue. To do this, Norton knocks Michael out and delivers him as a corpse to the morgue. Michael wakes in the middle of the autopsy and then finds out that the suspect isn't dead by finding his name tag on a woman's corpse. Michael escapes the morgue by killing the guards. In a panic, Michael calls Franklin and accidentally reveals he is affiliated with the FIB, though Franklin continues to trust Michael due to the better pay from jobs with him.
Michael continues to work for Norton. Steve Haines, a corrupt FIB agent working with Norton, contacts him and makes him team up with Franklin and Trevor to extract a prisoner of the IAA, dubbed Mr. K, out of the IAA building and into the hands of the FIB. Later, Michael and Trevor are summoned to a remote warehouse where Michael is briefed that he will accompany Norton to assassinate an Azebaijani suspect whilst Trevor and Haines torture Mr. K. The mission is successful, and Michael refuses to know any more details of the mission.
When Michael returns home, he finds his wife with her yoga instructor Fabien, who asks Michael to join them. After a few poses, Fabien begins doing a sexual pose on Amanda, causing Michael to get angry and attack Fabien, who dodges him and makes him fall into the pool. Angered by her husband's attitude, Amanda leaves with Fabien.
Michael goes upstairs and tries to do something with Jimmy, who asks him to go with him to get a package from a friend. They meet the friend at Burger Shot and he gives Jimmy some pot and a drink. On the way home, Michael drinks from Jimmy's drink and begins to feel strange. Jimmy reveals that he drugged the drink and then pushes Michael out of the car and reveals he is moving out and he is going to keep the car. Michael begins having strange dreams and wakes up in his underwear a few blocks away from his home. When he gets to the house, he finds a note from Amanda saying that his family has left due to Michael's behavior.
Later, Trevor contacts Michael and Franklin to partake in his own heist; of security force Merryweather's cargo at the docks. The heist goes as planned and Trevor finds a superweapon that Lester reveals is highly dangerous, especially in the hands of someone like Trevor and tells him that he must return it. Michael and Franklin agree, and Trevor is furious that he cannot keep the loot.
After the Merryweather heist, Michael is called upon by millionaire Devin Weston, who offers him a partnership with movie producer Solomon Richards if he steals several rare cars for him with Trevor and Franklin. Offered his dream job, Michael eagerly agrees and delivers the cars to Weston.
Michael is thrilled to finally meet his idol Solomon Richards, who hires him as an assistant. His first job is to convince Rocco Pelosi to obey Solomon's wishes for how the actors should behave during the production of the digital movie Meltdown. This gets Michael on Richard's good side and is promised the role of producer for the upcoming film if Michael continues his good work.
Martin Madrazo later summons Michael and Trevor to his home, and offers them pay if they bring down his cousin's airliner, which is carrying a package Madrazo wants. Michael does his part by bringing it down with a weapon inside a van. After destroying the van, Michael finds out to his horror that Trevor has kidnapped Madrazo's wife Patricia. Knowing full well what Madrazo might do to them if he catches them, Michael agrees to hide out on Sandy Shores with Trevor.
While exiled in Sandy Shores, Haines and Norton summon the trio for another mission against the IAA. This time, the two agents plot to raid an IAA chemical plant to steal a dangerous neurotoxin that the agency was plotting to use in a simulated terrorist attack. To carry out this operation, the trio must first secure enough funds to purchase a Cargobob and other assorted equipment that the FIB can't assign them. Ultimately, the crew settles upon robbing the Paleto Bay bank, as it contains millions of dollars deposited there by Blaine County's corrupt law enforcement.
Using stolen military body armour and machine guns, Trevor, Michael, Franklin and one gunman succesfully rob the Paleto bank, taking a small cut each and giving the largest profit to Haines and Norton so they can purchase the equipment for the chemical plant robbery, much to the teams irritation. While awaiting this operation, Michael and Trevor carry out another job, raiding a Merryweather courier train that carries gold and priceless artwork so that they can pay off Martin Madrazo. Trevor derails the train over a bridge and Michael dives into the river below to retrieve the merchandise, taking an ancient aztec fertility statuette that Madrazo would value. Trevor is greatly dissatisfied with Michael's choice of take, but he calms down once Michael proposes that, once they get the FIB off their cases, they should carry out "the Big Score" - robbing the Union Depository.
However, Trevor realises Michael's deal with Norton back at North Yankton, and hastily travels back there with Michael in pursuit. After a stand off at his (Brad's) grave, they are attacked by Wei Cheng's henchmen. Trevor scarpers, leaving Michael to fend off the henchmen himself. Although he succeeds, Michael is captured when he tries to escape in his car which Trevor sabotaged. After being tortured by Cheng at a meat processing factory (back in Los Santos), he is rescued by Franklin.
Michael and Franklin are called up once again by Haines for one more job: to break into the FIB building and remove incriminating evidence against Haines. This goes acccoridng to plan, but when Michael meets Haines and Norton at the Kortz Center, Haines attempts to arrest him to cover his involvement in the raid. However, this tuns into a three-way gunfight between the FIB (to arrest the trio because of the raid), the IAA (for the FIB's constant sabotages) and Merryweather (for Michael's invlovment in their troubles). Michael manages to escape with the help of Trevor, under the pretense of cooperating with the Big Score.
At this point, Michael's family reunite and after defending Solomon from Rocco, becomes executive producer of Meltdown. Things were starting to look up, until Weston announces his intentions to exploit the movie studios' insurance policy by hiding the completed film from the world so he would claim the insurance money and finally close and destroy the studios. This infuriates Michael, and chases Weston's assistant to the airport, where she is accidentally sucked into a jet engine. Michael retrieves the film, and Solomon arranges a premiere for the film so that it could not be tampered with. At the premiere, Weston unexpectantly shows up and cryptically threatens Michael with Amanda and Tracey's lives because of his interferance. After Michael subdues the killers, he sends his family into hiding and notifies Lester that they pull off the Big Score now.
After the heist, Michael's fate depends on Franklin's choice to kill him, Trevor or everyone that had double-crossed them.
Option A (Kill Trevor)
Whilst chasing Trevor around the Paleto Oilfields, Franklin calls Michael for help, in which Michael arrives and crashes into Trevor causing him to crash into a gas tanker, covering him in gasoline. Frankin shoots the gas as to incinerate Trevor before the tanker explodes. Michael and Franklin reflect on how crazy Trevor was and it was this constant craziness which led to his demise. Shortly after, they split up before Franklin sarcastically remarks the event as an "illuminating experience", which Michael counters by telling him to survive, and everything else is "bullshit".
Option B (Kill Michael)
Michael meets Franklin in the desert and reflects on their partnership. However, in Franklin's reply, he notices Franklin's intention to kill him and escapes, eventually ending up at the Palmer-Taylor Power Station. They continue to chase up on one of the chimney walkways and after a minor scuffle, Michael hangs precariously from the rail, where Franklin can save him or drop, but either, Michael falls to his death.
Option C (Deathwish)
Michael helps Franklin and Trevor fight off Merryweather and the FIB, then kills Stretch at Strawberry, to not implcate Franklin from its effects. Afterwards, he meets Franklin and Trevor, who had kidnapped Weston in his car, at the foothills of Mount Chiliad. After taunting Weston on their apparent victory, the trio push his car of the cliff into the ocean.
Characters Murdered by Michael De Santa
- Jay Norris - Murdered for Lester Crest, so that he would re-join Michael for robberies.
- Tahir Javan - Murdered on orders from Steve Haines for alleged ties to Terrorist groups.
- Walton O'Neil - Murdered for seeking retribution against Trevor Philips.
- Wynn O'Neil - Murdered for seeking retribution against Trevor Philips.
- Gianni - Murdered for harassing Solomon Richards.
- Rocco Pelosi - Murdered for harassing Solomon Richards.
- United Liberty Paper contact - Murdered during the shootout.
- Stretch - Murdered for trying to have Franklin Clinton and Lamar Davis killed. (Deathwish Ending)
- Devin Weston - Murdered for trying to have Michael and his family killed. (Deathwish Ending)
- Blake - Can be killed during the chase in the mission Daddy's Little Girl.
- Isiah Friedlander - Can be killed during Michael's final visit to him.
- Abigail Mathers - Can be killed after the Strangers and Freaks mission Death at Sea.
- Tracey's stalker - Can be killed or spared during the mission Doting Dad.
- Trevor Philips - If Franklin choses to kill Trevor but doesn't shoot him, then Michael will instead during Something Sensible.
Michael is a Caucasian male, with grayish black hair and light green eyes. In official artwork, he is shown to have blue eyes. His default appearance is a cleft chin with a Lexington hairstyle and a short stubble around his face. Michael's physique is thicker and more heavily built than the likes of Trevor and Franklin, this most certainly comes from his time as a quarterback and his stint in prison. Although Michael isn't obese or out of shape, many people around him will occasionally make fun of his size, such as Jimmy and Trevor. Michael's movement is also much more slower than Franklin and Trevor's, as he's much older and on top of the fact that his ten year retirement from crime has forced him to not be as physically active as the other two.
His Prologue appearence has him with shorter, shaven hair. It is somewhere between his default Lexington and The Wood hairstyle, somewhat similar to the Cesar haircut of CJ. His facial features are still the same.
Michael's beta appearance can be seen in Trailer one and two, where he is seen with green eyes and an older look. This was changed later in the character's development to make him look like he wasn't too aged to perform some of things he would do during gameplay.
Michael's initial wardrobe sets him as a person who enjoys two-piece suits without tie and casual attires like beach shorts with sandals or polo shirts. He shows approval as he's trying out outfits at Ponsonby's, opposite to the clear disdain of buying items from Suburban or Binco.
Grand Theft Auto series
Michael is a very complex person, even confused by his "good and evil" personality.
He has a darker and violent side to him. He has an exceptionally short temper, which fills him with rage and causes him to not think at times. One example would be where he caught Amanda having an affair with her tennis coach. He chases the coach to a mansion and pulls it off a hillside thinking it was the coaches', (however, nearly everyone around Michael (except Franklin), including the tennis coach himself, knew that the mansion was too expensive for him to afford on his salary). Another example would be Michael smashing Jimmy's flat screen television after the latter rudely told him to leave his room.
Michael is highly egotistical; he'll often complain about his own well being and safety, rather than his team mates, before doing a dangerous and life threatening mission as well as doing the same when someone doesn't support him, his decisions and/or criticizes him. One example would be the arguments that he has with Amanda, as she'll often criticize him for his rude and conceited behavior, to which Michael will arrogantly bring up the fact that he was the one who made their lives a lot more wealthy with the decisions he made. Another example would be how he criticizes Trevor for calling Franklin to help him out with a situation involving the O'neal brothers, Trevor himself stated that Michael only thought about himself instead of the trouble.
He is also very sarcastic, as he made fun of Trevor's meth lab. After the two men argue about it, Michael angrily claims that sarcasm is the one thing he can use, as he doesn't have many things left in this world. Furthermore, Michael makes bad judgement calls, such as him expecting almost everyone he works for to pay him, like Devin Weston or Martin Madrazo, only to be betrayed or screwed over in the end. He also has a large willingness to make large moral compromises, one example for each of the two being his deal with the FIB. The latter demonstrates much hypocrisy, as he'll often criticize Trevor for his ability to kill people without remorse, even though he does exactly the same thing.
Despite all of the negatives, Michael does possess a good side to his personality. Such as him being a very considerate individual, as he paid Franklin for doing what he was forced to do and drive through the front of his boss' business, even though the latter broke into Michael's mansion. Despite all the problems he has in his family, he dearly loves them but is frequently angered with Tracey's social life, Jimmy being jobless, lazy and a video game addict and Amanda spending most of his money and cheating on him. However, after reuniting with his family, Michael's family issues slowly started to dissolve.
Michael, being the opposite of Trevor, is thorough and rational when it comes to crime. This makes the others leave him to the planning and leading of robberies and missions, as he is usually the one to come up with a plan to a heist, alongside Lester. He also shows consideration for people caught up in robberies, an example is that, if you choose to impose as guards for the Union Depository heist, he'll give the guard he blackmailed a bar of gold for helping them get past security.
Michael will also always put his family's safety above anything else, going as far as to make a moral compromise with the FIB to ensure his family was not in danger. When Trevor first came back to find Michael in his house, Michael immediately put himself in front of Jimmy, not knowing what Trevor was going to do. When Devin Weston sent Merry Weather to Michael's house to kill his family, Michael instantly abandoned his movie premiere to engage the hostile forces, rescue his family and subsquently move them to a new location. Michael's care about his family is finally reciprocated by Amanda towards the end of the game, at which time she makes him promise not to get killed.
Towards the end of the game, Michael has started to accept his borderline-sociopath personality, with him stating in the final cutscene of the Deathwish ending that he still hates himself, but at least he knows the words for it. Michael has also started to work on his anger issues when his family came back. This can be shown when hanging out with friends, Michael will have appeared to have become more calm and passive when insulted by Trevor. One example is where Trevor calls Michael "fake and plastic," like Los Santos, to which Michael agrees to, albeit while commenting sarcastically about Trevor's "normal" behavior.
Relationships With Other Characters
- Description - Like what was stated above, Michael loves and deeply cares for his family. He'll always put them before any and everything he has. But in contrast to the way he cares about his family, he also hates the way they live their lives and behave around him and vice versa. Michael had admitted to Franklin that his relationship with his love ones was in a very good position up until they were relocated to Los Santos, where everything began to spiral out of control. Early within the storyline, Michael will be seen constantly fussing, bickering and arguing with his family up until the mission Did Somebody Say Yoga?, where they'll abandon him in search for a more peaceful living. After Michael reunites with his family in the mission Reuniting the Family, Michael will be seen bonding with them much more often than before, as they all promise to fix up their relationship with each other before things become disastrous.
- Amanda De Santa - Amanda's relationship with Michael also started in an unknown time where she was a stripper and a hooker. The two eventually fell in love with one another, got married and had two children. Amanda had so much devotion to Michael that she even left everything she had in North Yankton to moved to Los Santos, along with their children, to begin their lives in the witness protection program. During the events of the game, Amanda can barely tolerate him any more due to his arrogant and hypocritical personality and verbally abusive behavior towards her. Amanda begins to have affairs with multiple men, including her Tennis coach which further strains their marriage. Amanda finally hits the breaking point when Fabien LaRouche, her yoga instructor, does a sexual pose which angers Michael and attempts to punch him, ending with Fabien sidestepping and makes Michael land in the swimming pool. Amanda then berates Michael for his attempted action, calling him "a pathetic psychopath" and leaves him with Tracey while Jimmy moves out on his own (according to him). Michael later suffers from depression after his wife and kids leave him. However, it turns out that Amanda as well as their kids were even more miserable living with Fabien than with Michael. After Jimmy revealed the couple's hangout spot, Amanda was then seen hanging out with Fabien at a local Bean Machine coffee shop and she becomes annoyed with his impolite behavior and allows Michael to hit him in the face with a laptop. Michael then agrees to arrange a therapy session with Dr. Isiah Friedlander, bringing along Jimmy and Tracey. During the session, Michael and Amanda argued with each other, in hopes of clearing up the situations that would ultimately keep their marriage in ruins. Amanda and the kids move back in with Michael as the two love birds experiences during the events of the story brought them closer together and they appear to be more prepared to deal with their personal problems instead of fighting with each other. After a few in game days or so have past, the couple's love for each other begins to grow back to its original form. Certain random switch ups with Michael involving Amanda will also be altered: For example, whereas in the past, when dropping Amanda off at a mall or something of the sort, they would spout rude words at each other, they now kindly give each other goodbyes. Another example would be Michael getting out of bed after a sexual night with Amanda, to which she'll even smack him on his buttocks as he leaves the room.
- Jimmy De Santa - Jimmy's relationship with his father is rocky as well and even though Michael is far from perfect, he loves his son but does not know how to display it. His son is not very moral either as he often takes drugs and attempted to sell his father's boat without him knowing, ending with the boat being stolen. They've both have a confused and strained relationship with each other. Michael does try to improve their relationship by spending time with his son, but to no avail as his son lacks any form of respect for his father and even at one point drugs him, takes money from his bank account, and steals his car. However, Jimmy soon regrets his actions and visits his father, saying he does love him and promises to get a job and not be a lazy, pot-smoking, video game addict, which can be seen in-game. The relationship with his father seems to improve after the mission Reuniting the Family, clearly shown in the cutscenes when switching characters to Michael. Examples of this are both of them arriving home from a bicycle ride or both playing video games at Jimmy's room, with Michael always losing.
- Tracey De Santa - Michael's relationship with his daughter is also said to be frail. Despite this, Michael does love his daughter but is often angry at Tracey's loose behavior and social life such as her hanging out with drug dealers and porn stars, and embarrasses her by interrupting her audition for " Fame or Shame " by chasing Lazlow out of the building for performing a sexual pose on her. Once Tracey leaves her father, she gives him a phone call, claiming that he needs help. Like Jimmy however, she continues to grow tiresome of Fabien over the course of the storyline. She'll even email Michael at one point to explain that she misses him. After Michael's family return home, he and Tracey seems to develop a better relationship with her father, which started improving once Michael humiliates Lazlow in the tattoo parlor and demands that Lazlow puts Tracey on "Fame or Shame" by doing whatever she wants in the show.
- Trevor Philips - Trevor's relationship with Michael started at an unknown time period, but the two met when Trevor spotted Michael robbing people by a bridge. Michael convinced Trevor to join him to commit further robberies and thus started a long partnership. Michael and Trevor's friendship with one another was fine until Michael met his future wife Amanda, causing their friendship to strain since Trevor and Amanda didn't get along as much. After a heist goes wrong, Michael and Trevor both assumed that one another was dead. It was shown that Michael deeply cared for Trevor yet only wanted him dead because he thought that the latter would end up killing him or his family. After Michael's relapse into crime, Trevor discovers he is alive and comes to the conclusion that he faked his death. Trevor and Michael's friendship becomes strained as Trevor feels betrayed by Michael but both still get on well enough. Their friendship is even further strained when Trevor finds the truth about Michael's survival and Brad's death, leading to a standoff between the two. From this point on, Trevor vowed to kill Michael, but still needed the man alive so they could team up again to pull off one big job. In the Deathwish ending, Michael and Trevor have one last standoff before Franklin explains that both men have two options: kill each other right now, or work together to kill Devin Weston, Steve Haines and the rest of their enemies. Trevor ends up picking the first choice, with the outcome being successful. As the incident comes to an end, it seems that Michael and Trevor have finally managed to rekindle their friendship, with Trevor considering Michael as a friend, albeit a friend that he hates, which Michael manages to accept. After this, while hanging out with each other, either Michael will offer Trevor a part of his share from the big score (which Trevor rejects), and apologizes once again, this time Trevor accepting the apology, or Trevor will apologize to Michael and says that he understands why he did what he did.
- Franklin Clinton - Franklin meets Michael after the stealing a car from the latter's house, Michael then has Franklin take him to whomever tasked Franklin to steal his son's car. Right from the start, Franklin was impressed with Michael's professional criminality and after his firing from Premium Deluxe Motorsport, he sought out Michael for possible work. After Franklin manages to save Michael's son, he sees much potential in the young man. After Franklin's help with the jewelry store heist, Michael refers to Franklin as the "son I always wanted". Franklin in turn seems to have respect for Michael and is grateful for improving his life and is loyal to him for it. He even helps Michael out with his government issue. After meeting Trevor, Franklin starts to see many arguments between the both. But rather than siding with one of them, Franklin tries to calm the both of them down in hopes that it won't escalate into something more violent and unnecessary. Franklin also notices Michael's personality and will confront him about it at times. If the player chooses the kill Michael ending, Franklin can be shown to deeply regret his decision, not being able to face his family or Trevor. However, after the Deathwish ending, if Michael and Franklin are hanging out, they'll talk about how they can't believe they pulled it off, and that Franklin is extremely grateful to Michael for the experience. Also, in an e-mail, Michael will tell Franklin that "he's a friend for life".
- Lester Crest - Lester first meets Michael at an unknown period of time and seems to be a mastermind in Michael's robberies many years prior. It was stated by Michael that he wasn't much of a friend towards Lester and after they've encountered one another during the events of the game, Michael decides to make up for that.
- Dave Norton - Years prior to the events of the game. Michael arranged a deal for him to hand over Trevor to the FIB and fake his death so that Dave would gain fame and respect for supposedly "killing" Michael during the North Yankton heist. After the event took place, Dave managed to keep his promise by having Michael and his family move to a luxury mansion in Rockford Hills, Los Santos while in the witness protection program. Michael would also pay Dave hush money once a month, to keep their business deal a secret. Their relationship was fine, up until Michael performed a heist at the Vangelico jewelry store. Michael would then perform several jobs for Dave and his boss, Steve Haines. Dave will admit that even though he was a bank robber, he always did "like" Michael. In the Deathwish ending, Dave will call Michael and tell him that he replaced Haines in his TV show, and then thanks Michael for doing jobs for him, before saying farewell, with the two parting on good terms.
- Solomon Richards - Solomon and Michael are introduced through Devin Weston. Michael is a big fan of the film producer, even doubting at first that Devin could arrange for their meeting. The two get along well. Solomon often recites a quote from one of his movies and Michael easily names which one. He accepts Michael's assistance in the production of the film Meltdown and goes on to name him associate producer.
- Steve Haines - Michael meets Haines during a job to extract Ferdinand Kerimov aka Mr. K from the IAA headquarters. He forces him, Trevor Phillips, and Franklin Clinton into his operations and to torture Mr. K into retrieving information onto assassinating an unspecified target. He also gets the protagonists into performing several heists for him. However, his suspicions for Michael worsens, causing him to become extremely paranoid. He, along with Agent Sanchez, confronts Michael and Agent Norton as he attempts to have them framed and arrested. After an ambush consisting IAA, Merryweather and rival FIB forces, Haines attempts to have Michael killed, along with Trevor and Franklin. Fortunately, he decides to spare him and Franklin. However, he wants Trevor dead. In the "Deathwish" ending, if Franklin chooses Option C, Michael has Trevor kill Steve Haines.
- Devin Weston - Michael meets Devin during a meeting with Steve Haines. He first offers the former a deal of producing a film after a heist. However, Devin soon refuses to pay Michael, along with Trevor and Franklin for their jobs and after Michael accidentally gets his lawyer killed, Devin sends a platoon of Merryweather men to kill his family. However, Michael manages to save his family. This incident leads to Devin to hire Franklin to murder Michael. If "Deathwish" is chosen, Trevor kidnaps Devin from his mansion and shoves him inside his own trunk. The three protagonists meet up to taunt a beaten Devin for their victory, before pushing him (with him inside the car trunk) off the cliff into the ocean, killing him.
For the list of Michael De Santa's mission appearances, see Michael De Santa/Appearances.
Dan Houser's Description of Michael
"Michael, to me, is... Who is he? I know who he is, I'm just trying to... He's the person who is trying to ignore some rather large mistakes that they have made. The person who's trying to forget about certain practical but still selfish decisions that they took. He's a man, also, obsessed by images and by appearances and who, when the world doesn't live up to those images and appearances, doesn't know what to do. He just retreats into his head. What he also is, when we started out... What he kind of evolved into as we began thinking about him and developing him... He was the first character we came up with. He began as the idea of, what happens to a regular GTA protagonist after they retire? Then you think, what would make him retire? He's a man with a big ego and plenty of good values and plenty of bad values."
"A guy who's in his mid-40s and on the cusp of middle age who doesn't know what to do, but made a bunch of money and does not know what to do with it. He's theoretically won, but the spoils of victory aren't necessarily what he imagined. For us that's a very interesting character, unlike what we've done in the past or what we've seen in much entertainment in general, let alone any video games. That was interesting."
- Michael is the initial playable character in GTA V, the second being Trevor and the third being Franklin.
- Michael was the first protagonist that came to Rockstar's mind when they began the development of Grand Theft Auto V.
- Michael is the only protagonist in the entire Grand Theft Auto series to have a spouse and children.
- Being in his mid-late 40s, he is the oldest protagonist in the GTA series.
- The song that plays in the Michael trailer is "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen.
- Ignoring the optional missions involving helping someone in Michael's family can lead to one direct consequence involving Michael losing money for not helping them out.
- His favourite radio station is Los Santos Rock Radio.
- Michael's special ability might be a reference to Max Payne, another Rockstar-owned franchise, where the title character possess an ability called "Bullet-time", that allow him to slow down time. Both at some point in their lives arrived at their houses only to find out it was under siege by a group of mercenaries while their families hid in horror. Michael even has the same gray suit that Max wears in Max Payne 3. Elements for Michael's ability might also be taken from Rockstar's Red Dead games, which feature a similar ability called "Dead-eye".
- The quote that Michael uses in Prologue and The Jewel Store Job, "You forget a thousand things everyday, make sure this is one of them.", is from the Solomon Richards movie Author's Penny Sanatorium, although slightly modified. The original line is "We forget a thousand things everyday, can't we just make this one of them?"
- Michael Townley is a real person under federal witness protection.
- In a cutscene, Michael revealed that he was a football star in high school. He then claims that his high school football career "didn't work out like the way he planned", possibly pushing him towards a life of crime.
- If you shoot or fire rockets at Michael's house as Trevor Philips or Franklin Clinton, he will text you saying 'stop shooting at my house' or, 'stop firing rockets at my house' If you shoot his house after he texts you, he will call you saying, "Stop shooting up my house!".
- Michael along with Trevor are currently the first protagonists in the GTA series who can become a final boss and must be killed in the finale. However this is if Franklin chooses to kill either of them instead of the "Death Wish" choice.
- Despite his strong love for his family, during the Kill Michael ending, where Michael nearly falls and Franklin catches him, even if Franklin decided to pull him up and save him, Michael will headbutt Franklin and fall to his death, thus committing suicide.
- Michael seems to love watching movies, specifically "classic Vinewood", as he is seen watching one in his house during several cutscenes. In a phone call with Lester during the mission "Friend Request", he seems to pride himself as being a "movie guy", according to the comments he makes about his opinion on films. He also can identify the film quotes spoken by Solomon Richards during his missions and phone calls.
- Michael shares his new last name with Vincente de Santa, one of the antagonists of Red Dead Redemption, they also both betray a protagonist, in Vincente's case, John Marston.
- Upon returning to his house, one possible line of dialogue for Michael to shout is "Daddy's back, bitches!", the first line of dialogue in Grand Theft Auto IV.
- On Michael's tombstone in North Yankton it states that he was born in 1965 (making him 48 in 2013) however Trevor, Lester, and his son Jimmy all state that he is 45 years old (meaning he was born in 1968) therefore his exact age is unclear.
- Michael is used the most as the promotional character, as he narrarates all three GTA V official trailers.
- If Michael access the in-game website PsychicShoutout and speak with Ms. Tammy, she will reveal that Amanda has already had sex with the yoga instructor (Fabien LaRouche), the tennis coach (Kyle Chavis) and also a fireman, a plumber, a beach lifeguard, a truck driver, a dustman, a gardener and even a hipster. Michael will angrily reply that they have a open relationship.
- Michael's signature color is blue, as seen when using his special ability, while using Franklin's car-handling skill, the screen fades green, and while using Trevor's rage mode, screen fades red.
- Sometimes when switching to Michael, he can be seen walking past a prostitute, who asks him for pleasure, Michael replies "No thanks, I'm a married man". This is a reference to John Marston, the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption, as Marston also replies negatively to any prostitutes in saloons he visits, being also married man or that his wife will kill him if he accepts.
- If you position Michael right to view the inside of his head, there appears to be a small blue chip.
- Michael has the most main mission appearances (not counting optional appearances) of the 3 main protagonists, appearing in 38 of the game's 69 missions as apposed to Franklin's 32 appearances and Trevor's 31 appearances.
- Michael's prologue jacket can be found in any Binco Clothing shop. There is even a section for a jacket like the one seen in the prologue, though the jackets being sold there do not come in red. Thus, leaving the prologue jacket only obtainable by finishing the game.