The plot refers to the storylines of Grand Theft Auto games. The plot arcs are what make up the storyline, and each individual mission allows the player to progress through the plot.
- Each game has a main storyline, which is usually the protagonist rising through criminal life in a city, working his way to the top, but the reason behind this varies from game to game.
- Several games have multiple storylines going on at the same time, which all culminate at the climax, which sees most of these storylines, usually all of them, coming to an end, as the protagonist achieves his initial goal, with all the conflicts and secondary goals he had along the way also getting closure. For example, in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, following the initial Los Santos missions, where Carl "CJ" Johnson's main goal is to restore his gang to power and reconcile with his friends and family, his main goal becomes rescuing his brother Sweet. However, since he can't achieve this yet, he instead adopts new, secondary goals, such as earning enough money to make a living, which he does by comitting a series of robberies with Catalina and opening a garage in San Fierro (both of these acting as their own mini-storylines, which contribute to the overall main plot). In San Fierro, several new secondary storylines take place, such as CJ helping the Triads win a gang war against the Da Nang Boys, and working for the Loco Syndicate to earn their trust, before betraying and eliminating them. From there, CJ briefly returns to his initial goal to release Sweet, as he works for Mike Toreno, who promises to help him with this problem. CJ later goes to Las Venturas, where there is once again a secondary storyline, namely the robbery of Caligula's Palace, which itself is split into multiple, smaller plots: CJ helping the Triads plan the robberry, and earning the trust of the mob by working for both Ken Rosenberg and Salvatore Leone prior to the heist. During all of this, there is also a secondary storyline of CJ being forced to work for C.R.A.S.H. (which acts as one of the main conflicts in the game), which culminates when Frank Tenpenny betrays him and attempts to have him killed. After the casino heist storyline, there is one more secondary plot, namely CJ becoming Madd Dogg's manager and helping him restore his career. Afterwards, CJ achieves his main goal when Sweet is released from prison, and adopts a new, final one: restore their gang to power, and exact revenge on Big Smoke for his betrayal. This culminates in the final mission of the game, which sees both of these goals achieved, as well as the death of Tenpenny, which solves CJ's conflict with him that he had from the very beginning of the game.
- There are also several plot arcs that span across multiple games, such as the Leone-Forelli-Sindacco gang war, which starts after the ending of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, serves as one of the secondary storylines in San Andreas (being part of the Caligula's Palace heist plot arc), and is one of the main storylines and conflicts in Liberty City Stories.
This section lists various game storylines and plot arcs explained.
- Leone-Forelli-Sindacco gang war - this details the various confrontations between the three main Mafia families of Liberty City of the 3D Universe, which spans across multiple games.
- Caligula's Palace War - this is a smaller plot arc within Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, surrounding the robbery of Caligula's Palace in Las Venturas, which itself is part of the aforementioned storyline about the Mafia families war.