GTA 5’s Trevor Phillips: Character analysis

Trevor. Has there ever been a more divisive figure in gaming history? Depending on who you ask, he’s either a lovely sociopath or the most despised video game character since… ever.

trevor gta 2 GTA 5's Trevor Phillips: Character analysis

Love him or hate him, this contentious virtual thug has already been the subject of numerous articles since the debut of Grand Theft Auto V, and I’m sure there will be many more once I add my two cents.

However, Trevor Philips has two unique personalities. On the one hand, he’s a deranged, vindictive bastard. The first time you encounter him in-game, he does something so disgusting that you know you’re going to spend a lot of time feeling uneasy while playing as him.

He does not disappoint either; his clear penchant for the repulsive only grows as you progress. On the other hand, he has a weird moral sensibility, a layer of depth that is not immediately apparent.

Trevor demonstrates genuine vulnerability, even if it is played up for laughs at his cost.

Trevor is the only character in the game who is somewhat appreciative of women, berating his subordinate, Wade, early on for “disrespecting women” after referring to a lady he was fornicating with as a “bitch”.

He’s also the only one of the playable trio that has genuine affections for someone else throughout the game, which stems from an unexpected attraction later on. Trevor’s opening up demonstrates genuine vulnerability, even if it is played for laughs at his cost.

You get the impression that he truly mourned Michael’s apparent death, not just during his contemplative timeout on the trip to Los Santos, when he yells as such at the Los Santos skyline, but also in more subtle ways throughout, such as his ‘RIP Michael’ tattoo.

He is obviously saddened by the lies surrounding Michael’s resurrection. Despite this, he is sometimes too protective of Michael’s family. Not in a creepy ‘One Hour Photo’ stalker sense, but in a caring way.

He pushes Michael to protect his daughter’s dignity, and he tells Jimmy via email post-mission that he won’t take him drinking because he’s too young; he does both of these things with the right heart, but neither is what you’d expect from him after the violent first meeting.

He takes his uncle duties extremely seriously, even if the kids don’t fully understand it in the end.

trevor gta GTA 5's Trevor Phillips: Character analysis

In all of these occasions, he is strangely heartwarming. Nonetheless, as you can see from practically every other action he does in the game, he is definitely not a pleasant man. Not at all. In truth, he is terrible.

And, while he is practically everything else that others have said about him so far – nasty, insane, spiteful, dangerous, offensive – out of everyone in the game, he has the most twisted up head in my opinion. That’s just because he is the only one who understands who he is.

“I’m just honest, okay. You are a hypocrite.”

Michael, for example, a self-proclaimed “terrific thief” who admits to having done terrible things in his life, nonetheless convinces himself that he is the good person.

Driving down to the beach for a bike ride with his kid, he openly admits what he’s done without shame, but is astonished when his own son refers to him as a “bad guy; a crook, a killer, a liar”. In fact, he is almost positively angered by the suggestion.

Franklin, too, tries to convince himself that he is a better guy than those around him. In the early stages of the game, his goal is to move out of his neighborhood, to become legitimate, to stop being stupid, and to avoid becoming embroiled in petty hood arguments with his pal Lamar, who is frequently the target of his rants.

Despite his frequent remonstrations, he seizes each illegal chance provided to him, and when the bullets start flying, he openly relishes it. while he tells Lester while they arrange an assassination, he “enjoys blowing motherf–king heads off just as much as the next psychotic a–hole”. Doesn’t sound like the kind of man who wants to live his life wisely, does it?

Trevor… is the only one who is not attempting to persuade everyone around him that he is someone he is not.

Michael and Franklin are not unique in this scenario; they are representative of Los Santos’ demographic. The entire city is filled with folks attempting to be youthful, hip, and happening.

Everyone in Los Santos believes that they are nice people. However, it is all a facade. Beneath the flash and glamour, we all know that even the nicest places in Los Santos have a very unpleasant, seedy underbelly, which you can experience every time you take one of the characters for a walk.

Trevor is the only one who is not attempting to persuade everyone around him that he is not who he claims to be. Trevor knows he’s a monster, but he doesn’t care. He relishes causing pain and suffering, lives for and embraces it, and, like Heath Ledger’s Joker, he exists solely for pure anarchy.

It’s clear that he’s not in the crime game to get rich or to control a criminal empire; look at how he dresses and his readiness to take on bizarre assignments with no money on the table. His only motivation for hurting people and ruining everything around him is that it’s simply too much pleasure not to.

From the way he enjoys gratuitous torture to how easily he hurts someone when asked, it’s evident that the world in his perspective is already royally broken, and he sees no harm in messing it up even more.

During the game, Trevor manages to put it succinctly. In a mission where he is charged with ‘dealing’ with a kidnapped celebrity, his soon-to-be victim questions why he would take the job unpaid. “I’m a bad person,” he says in the midst of his ensuing outburst, with unrepentant, nauseating candor.

He’s not hesitant to admit that he’s just doing it for fun. He’s a nasty person, chaos personified, yet he admits it.

It is true that his perspective on the world is confronting and difficult to stomach at times, and he is so unpredictable that even as the player controlling him and moving him around this environment, you have no idea what he will do next, what he is capable of, or even what his limit is.

However, when compared to the other residents of Los Santos – not just his criminal partners and mission givers, but also the city’s ugly, superficial population desperately trying to fit in – Trevor’s simple ability to accept who he is somehow makes him the most honest character in a game about dishonest people.

Despite the awful things this despicable man forced me to do, and the way his morals altered on a whim, it was his sense of accountability and self-awareness that drew me in the most.

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About the Author


Hello loved ones, this is Govind. An Anime Geek and a Gamer, I write engaging articles that engage fans and gamers, immersing myself in anime and gaming. My storytelling lets me turn virtual trips and animated epics into engaging articles and reviews. I love my communities and I love helping them grow.

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