- "Yeah, my old man used to work on these. I used to spend the evenings with him cleaning the rollers. I was gonna follow him in his trade but... I lived a different life."
- ―Tommy Vercetti
Thomas "Tommy" Vercetti is a character in the Grand Theft Auto series who appears as the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (set in 1986) and mentioned in The Introduction, a prequel of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (set in 1992), and in the game itself during the mission The Meat Business.
Grand Theft Auto series
Thomas Vercetti was born in Liberty City in 1951. His father worked in a printing shop and as a child, Tommy used to clean the rollers with him. Tommy had planned to follow in his father's footsteps, but, in his own words, "led a different life". Dialogue spoken by Tommy while fighting indicates that he had a bad relationship with his mother.
Sometime prior to 1971, Tommy joined the Forelli Family. He continued to work with the Forelli Family, making his way up the ranks and presumably becoming a made man. In 1971, Sonny Forelli, growing apprehensive of Tommy's increasing power, attempted to set up an ambush for him, under the guise of a hit in Harwood. However, Tommy not only survived, but also killed all eleven men that were sent to kill him. He was arrested and convicted of eleven counts of murder. Tommy was sentenced to death for the murders, but since he kept quiet and turned no evidence on the Forelli Family, Sonny Forelli used judicial connections to commute the sentence. Tommy remained in prison for fifteen years, refusing to divulge any Forelli Family secrets to the LCPD. He was nicknamed "the Harwood Butcher" by the press.
Events of Grand Theft Auto Vice City - 1986
In 1986, Tommy was released from prison after Sonny "pulled some strings". Fearing that Tommy is "too well known" in Liberty City, and also wanting to expand into the drugs trade in the south, Sonny sends Tommy to Vice City. Tommy flies to Vice City along with Harry and Lee, meeting Ken Rosenberg at the airport, before immediately driving to a drug deal at the docks. The drug deal turns into an ambush, and Harry, Lee, and one of the drug dealers are killed. Only Tommy, Ken, and the other dealer escape the attack.
Tommy informs Sonny of the ambush and is reminded that Sonny is "not a man to be screwed with"; Sonny makes it clear he wants his money and his drugs back. Tommy initially works for Ken, starting riots and intimidating jurors. While working for Ken, Tommy also meets Lance Vance, the other dealer, who seeks revenge for his brother who was killed during the initial drug deal. Tommy also works for Juan Cortez, an intermediary for the drug deal, who begins to look into the ambush for Tommy. Meanwhile, Cortez has Tommy steal missile technology chips and kill Gonzalez, who had talked about the deal.
Cortez, believing that Ricardo Diaz was responsible for the ambush, asks Tommy to act as protection for Diaz in a deal with the Cubans. The Haitians, enemies of the Cubans, ambush the deal but are killed by Tommy and Lance. Diaz, seeing potential in Tommy and Lance, hires them to kill gang members who were stealing his money and steal the fastest boat in the city in order to purchase drugs from a dealer on a boat. Lance eventually attempts to kill Diaz for the death of his brother, but is captured by Diaz's men, though he is later freed by Tommy. The two subsequently go on to take revenge, killing Diaz in his own mansion.
The death of Ricardo Diaz brings change to Vice City, allowing Tommy and Lance to step in and continue the crime ring established by Diaz. Tommy, however, begins to look beyond the protection rackets established by Diaz and purchases a number of businesses around the city, most prominently the Malibu Club, the Cherry Popper Ice Cream Factory (a front for a drug running business), InterGlobal Films and the Print Works. After purchasing each business, Tommy helps establish their influence in the city. During this time, Tommy also begins to work for a number of smaller time criminals in the city, including the Cuban leader Umberto Robina and the Haitian leader Auntie Poulet (due to her drugging him), helping both sides attack the other. He also works for Avery Carrington's real estate business, Phil Cassidy's gun running business, Mr. Black's hitman business, Mitch Baker's biker gang, and Kent Paul's management of Love Fist. Tommy also went on to help Juan Cortez escape the city when the GIGN assault his yacht for the missile technology.
Sonny Forelli, growing restless and impatient, sends some of his men to collect some of his money from Tommy's businesses. Tommy kills the collectors, although not in time to save Earnest Kelly, the owner of the Print Works, from being injured. Tommy decides to give Sonny fake money printed at the Print Works. Tommy meets Sonny in person at his estate to give him the counterfeit cash, but Sonny informs him that Lance has sided with him, betraying Tommy. A gun battle ensues, with Tommy killing both Lance and Sonny, who also confirms Tommy's suspicion that he was set up in Harwood. Following the deaths of Lance and Sonny, Tommy and Ken taken over, becoming the most powerful men in Vice City.
Life After 1986
Tommy Vercetti continued to run the criminal underworld of Vice City after 1986; during that time, Tommy's relationship with Ken became increasingly strained due to Ken's cocaine addiction. Tommy eventually got Ken into rehab at the Fort Carson Medical Center in Fort Carson, San Andreas. Although Ken completed rehab and got clean of his addiction, Tommy refused to speak to him following this and essentially cut all ties.
Tommy is mentioned by Ken in the mission The Meat Business in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, leading Carl Johnson to question, "Who the fuck is Tommy?" Rosenberg also calls Vercetti at the introduction video of the aforementioned game, Tommy's secretary answers and tells Ken that Tommy is not taking calls, this is the moment where Rosenberg discovers that Vercetti was ignoring him.
Tommy is also mentioned in Kent Paul's website under the list of social problems, saying, "(see, Tom, I didn't mention your name, nowhere. Maybe you won't get us killed now, okay?)" This could mean that Tommy is still alive and in power during the early 2000s.
VCBI Crime Tree Record
Tommy Vercetti is depicted as both intelligent and temperamental. He is easily angered and quick to resort to violence. He does not hesitate to kill, though many of his victims are trying to kill Tommy, or have done something that guaranteed their deaths. However, Tommy often shows care and sensitivity towards characters like Mercedes Cortez and especially Earnest Kelly, viewing Kelly as a father figure due to his own father working in a print works, and showing anger and concern when Kelly is injured by Sonny's hitmen.
Tommy prefers to perform his own work rather than delegate tasks to others. Even after he has his own gang and other subordinates working for him, he usually puts his plans in motion personally. He also personally gets involved if things aren't going as well as he'd like - for example, in the opening cutscene of Bar Brawl he is irritated by Lance's lazy attitude towards the bar refusing to pay protection money and immediately goes out to settle things himself.
Despite his hot temper, Tommy tends to be loyal and trusting, especially toward those whom he feels helped him to achieve his goals. He went back to work for Sonny Forelli after being released from prison even though he strongly suspected that Sonny set him up. This is especially true of Lance Vance. Although Lance's competence was declining and his temperament was becoming negative, Tommy still viewed and attempted to treat Lance as an equal partner, even letting him in on the counterfeiting setup at the Vice City Print Works. When busting Lance's chops once over the phone, Tommy states he's doing so because Lance screwed up: if Tommy ever messed up, he considered it within Lance's full rights to take him to task on it. Tommy was shocked at Lance's betrayal, leading Earnest Kelly to quip, "Tommy, for a raging lunatic, you sure are naïve".
Tommy, an Italian-American, is portrayed with a tall, swarthy, handsome appearance, combed dark brown, almost black hair, brown eyes, and a constant five o'clock shadow. He first appears wearing a light blue-green Hawaiian shirt with dark blue palm trees printed on it, a gold pearl necklace around his neck, a gold watch around his left wrist, and a pair of blue jeans and white sneakers. He has other outfits also, and his appearance can be completely changed through the Player Skin Setup, a new feature of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, allowing players to create custom textures for the default player model and apply them in the game.
Tommy Vercetti shows many characteristics in common with Tony Montana, a drug lord from the film Scarface. The two both end up in exile, both arrive in the city wearing Hawaiian shirts, both rise to power in Miami using great amounts of violence, both build an empire from a large estate and mansion, both have short tempers and are prone to violence, both work as contract killers, and both killed their collaborators and took their ex-bosses' empires. The interior of the Vercetti Estate is even modeled after Montana's mansion, save for the lack of an indoor pool. There are, however, key differences, most notably that Tommy did not become addicted to his own narcotics (he even politely turns down alcohol offered during business meetings) and that Tommy survived the shootout in his mansion, as opposed to Montana who was killed, and Tony Montana is of Cuban descent, whereas Tommy Vercetti is of Italian descent.
Tommy Vercetti also bears some resemblance to 'Mr. Blonde' from the film Reservoir Dogs, played by Michael Madsen who also voiced Toni Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III, protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. The film sees 'Mr. Blonde' released from prison after loyally doing time for his crime family, as Tommy did after the "Harwood Incident". Tommy later performs contract killings for a 'Mr. Black', whilst he is referred to as 'Mr. Teal' (a reference to the then deceased Leo Teal). He also has a small resemblance to his own voice actor Ray Liotta.
Tommy Vercetti's story is extremely similar to famous real-life mobster Joseph Iannuzzi. In the 1980's Joseph was sent to Florida to be a representative for his mob boss Tommy Argo. Like the relationship between Tommy and Sonny in game, the relationship between Joseph Iannuzzi and Tommy Argo became strained over a large sum of money. When Joseph was forced to flee Florida with a large sum of Argo's money. As a result, Argo ambushed Joseph in Florida and nearly killed him.
Murders Committed by Tommy Vercetti
|Leo Teal||Back Alley Brawl||Tommy murdered Leo due to his possible links with the ambushed drug deal.|
|Gonzalez||Treacherous Swine||Tommy murdered Gonzalez for leaking information about the drug deal between the Forelli Family and the Vance Crime Family.|
|Pierre La Ponce||Mall Shootout||Tommy murdered Pierre La Ponce to retrieve his stolen missile guidance chips.|
|Carl Pearson||Road Kill||Tommy murdered Carl Pearson under orders from Mr. Black.|
|Mrs. Dawson||Waste the Wife||Tommy murdered Mrs. Dawson under orders from Mr. Black.|
|Mike Griffin||Autocide||Tommy murdered Mike Griffin under orders from Mr. Black and for planning to rob a bank.|
|Dick Tanner||Autocide||Tommy murdered Dick Tanner under direct orders from Mr. Black and for planning to rob a bank.|
|Franco Carter||Autocide||Tommy murdered Franco Carter under orders from Mr. Black and for planning to rob a bank.|
|Marcus Hammond||Autocide||Tommy murdered Marcus Hammond under orders from Mr. Black and for planning to rob a bank.|
|Nick Kong||Autocide||Tommy murdered Nick Kong under orders from Mr. Black and for planning to rob a bank.|
|Charlie Dilson||Autocide||Tommy murdered Charlie Dilson under orders from Mr. Black and for planning to rob a bank.|
|Sharks' Leader||Phnom Penh '86||Tommy murdered the Sharks's Leader in order to get Diaz' money back.|
|Haitian Warlord||Two Bit Hit||Tommy murdered the Haitian gang lord while dressed as a Cuban gang member to start a gang war between the Haitians and Cubans.|
|Ricardo Diaz||Rub Out||Tommy and Lance Vance murdered Ricardo Diaz for organizing the ambush of the drug deal between the Forelli Family and the Vance Crime Family.|
|Pedro Garcia||Gun Runner||Tommy murdered Pedro Garcia under orders from Phil Cassidy, due to his being a rival in the gun-running business.|
|Candy's Agent||Recruitment Drive||Tommy murdered Candy's agent after he refused to let Candy appear in his movie.|
|Lance Vance||Keep Your Friends Close...||Tommy murdered Lance Vance for betraying him and attempting to kill him.|
|Sonny Forelli||Keep Your Friends Close...||Tommy murdered Sonny Forelli for betraying him, setting up the Harwood massacre that resulted in his arrest, and attempting to kill him.|
|Front Page Café Owner||Bar Brawl||Can be killed during Bar Brawl, though his death does not affect the storyline.|
|Cam Jones||The Job||Can be killed during The Job, though his death does not affect the storyline.|
|Rico||Trojan Voodoo||Can be killed during Trojan Voodoo, though his death does not affect the storyline.|
|Pepe||Trojan Voodoo||Can be killed during Trojan Voodoo, though his death does not affect the storyline.|
GTA Vice City
This is Tommy's dialogue during free roam.
- Tommy has a few unique traits as compared to other GTA protagonists. He was the first one to speak (although that honor technically goes to Toni Cipriani in GTA III, he was not actually recognized as a protagonist until GTA Liberty City Stories, which was released after GTA VC). He was also the first 3D Universe protagonist to be given a name - Claude of GTA III wasn't named until GTA SA, and Toni Cipriani didn't officially become a protagonist until GTA LCS. He was also the only vocal GTA protagonist to never say the word "fuck".
- In GTA IV, there is graffiti found around the map with Tommy's name, along with the other 3D Universe protagonists. It states that they are all dead. Rockstar Games later told that it was a "little joke for the fans of the series".
- Tommy's shirt can be seen in the wardrobe at The Compound safehouse in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, but Vic cannot wear it.
- The video game DRIV3R featured Hawaiian shirt-wearing characters known as "Timmy Vermicelli" hidden throughout each of its 3 main maps, who could be killed to unlock bonuses, a parody of both Tommy and the hidden package system of GTA games. Additionally, the Timmy Vermicelli characters wore inflatable armbands, making fun of the fact Tommy Vercetti is unable to swim and will die upon entering the water.
- Tommy and Trevor Philips are the only protagonists to be present for the death of another protagonist in a canonical situation (Tommy witnessed Victor Vance's murder during a deal, and Trevor beat Johnny Klebitz to death).
- In The Introduction, Ken Rosenberg calls Tommy Vercetti, but Tommy doesn't speak because Ray Liotta had a dispute with Rockstar Games about how much "effort" he put in Vice City and Tommy's voice wasn't recorded.