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CHARACTER WHEEL
The Character Wheel is a feature introduced to the Grand Theft Auto series in Grand Theft Auto V. The wheel shows the protagonists of the game and gives the player the ability to switch between playable characters.

Overview

The Wheel is divided into four quarters, each one for Michael, Trevor, Franklin, and the Online Player. Below each character is a number indicating how many missions are presently available for that individual. In free roam of Story Mode, the player can switch between characters at any given time, and when doing so, the player will occasionally find the chosen character in sometimes comical situations, including discovering the character inebriated or with a wanted level and being chased by police (these mostly occur with Tre
Characterwheelgtav

The character wheel as it appears in the mission Prologue featuring Michael and Trevor's 2004 appearances.

vor). When switching to the GTA Online character, the player will either find the character in his or her apartment or last known location. The player can change this in the Settings menu. In many missions in Story Mode, the slot of a character other than that being controlled by the player will sometimes flash white or red. If the slot flashes white, the player is required to switch to that character to progress the mission, is already at a meeting point, or just to simply show that the highlighted character is available to play as. If it flashes red, that character is in danger and the player must either switch to that character and wipe out the source of the threat or use another character to help him. 
Chop wheel gtav

Chop, when he is available in the character wheel.

A buzzing sound will be heard when an alert comes up on the character wheel. It can be heard here.

Characters

Video

Switching Gameplay
GTA V Character Swapping Gameplay03:44

GTA V Character Swapping Gameplay

Switching between characters

Trivia

  • Chop takes Michael's slot in two missions in GTA V, Predator & Chop. This allows the player to switch to Chop and see from his point of view. However, they can't control him.
  • You cannot switch characters if you have a wanted level, during side missions or in missions as the slots of the other two characters are instantly faded out once the one that you are playing as earns a wanted level (unless these require two or all playable protagonists, such as Blitz Play).
  • If you switch characters while the Invincibility Cheat is activated, it will instantly be disabled.
  • At one point in the storyline Steve Haines will show up and ask Franklin to kill Trevor and at another point, Devin Weston will show up and ask him to kill Michael. Choosing any of these options will result in the player losing Michael or Trevor as a playable character. If the player tries to switch to the character he killed, their slot will be faded out and they cannot be played with anymore.
  • Michael and Franklin's slots will be faded out after completing Mr. Philips and before completing Friends Reunited as the two protagonists are laying low after the events of The Jewel Store Job. This marks the only time in the game where two slots are faded out when not doing missions, and the only time that Franklin's slot is faded out.
    • Other than after completing Mr. Philips and before completing Friends Reunited, Franklin is the only protagonist not to have his slot faded out during free roam mode at all while still being able to switch between Michael and Trevor since Franklin does not get abducted during a mission and has to be rescued in a later one like Michael did after the events of Bury the Hatchet and before completing Fresh Meat, nor does he get killed in any of the endings since Franklin himself gets to choose who between Michael or Trevor should be killed, or otherwise neither.
  • Michael is the only protagonist to have his slot faded out more than once during free roam.
    • The first time that his slot is faded out is after completing Mr. Philips and before completing Friends Reunited
    • The second time happens after the events of Bury the Hatchet and until before completing Fresh Meat as he has been abducted by Cheng's Henchmen
    • The third time is if the player chooses to kill Michael.
  • Trevor is the only protagonist not to have his slot faded out during free roam while he is alive. The only time his slot will be faded out is if the player chooses to kill him.
  • If you switch from one character to another and soon switch back, you'll find the original character in a situation that logically follows from the state in which he was left. For example, if you switch from a character driving on a freeway, you'll return to him a little further down the road. If you fly a plane into a building and switch right before the crash, switching back takes the character to the hospital. Interestingly, the player will not lose $5.000.
    • Sometimes, if a plane, a helicopter or a Blimp is crashed, they won't spawn at the hospital. Instead they will spawn mid-air with or without a parachute (Killing the player instantly).
    • There is also an odd glitch if the protagonist that the player uses steals a Prison Bus and successfully drives it out of Bolingbroke Penitentiary, switching to another protagonist and then back will the result in the protagonist that stole the prison bus respawning at any hospital, as if that protagonist has been killed offscreen even if the other Protagonist was not killed or arrested, and regardless of how fast the player was able to switch characters from the one that the player uses to steal a Prison Bus to another protagonist (IE Stealing a Prison Bus as Trevor, switches to Michael or Franklin and back to Trevor).
  • Sometimes, If the player using one character switches to another character while the previous character is driving a vehicle and switches back to that character (IE playing as Michael, switches to Trevor and/or Franklin and back to Michael), That character will still be driving the same vehicle. Also, if the Player Character alights from that vehicle, that vehicle will be parked nearby during the short cutscene that is being played when switching characters occassionally replacing that certain character's default vehicle. For example, when playing as Trevor, The player destroys or abandons Trevor's Red Bodhi and steals another vehicle, switches to either Michael or Franklin and after a while switches back to Trevor, The same vehicle that the player (using Trevor) has stolen can be seen parked nearby, replacing Trevor's Bodhi during the short cutscene that is being shown when switching characters. This is easier if the characters that the player has switched to from the original one is not killed or arrested.
    • If the aforementioned vehicle is a semi-trailer truck (such as the Phantom) with a trailer attached, the trailer will not appear, only the truck.
  • If you are close enough to one character in free roam that you can observe them after you switch away, the characters have interesting idle animations. Most of the time, the character you just switched from will keep standing in the same place and pull out their phone and appear to be texting on it. Other times, they might pull out a cigarette and smoke it, including putting it out on the ground when they finished it.
  • If all three characters meet in the same area, one of them may turn invisible until switched to. They may also teleport to a different location in some cases.
  • If you crash or damage your vehicle, you can fix it for free by switching to a different character, and then switching back. This also works if you are low on health, or if you have visible gunshot wounds or cuts. This method also refills the characters Air meter if underwater.
  • If two of the characters meet in a place, the character being followed will warn the player not to follow him. After some time, the character is being followed will kill the player even if the Invincibility code is activated.  Following Michael and Franklin will result in the one being followed to Punch the player controlled protagonist while Following Trevor will cause him to Headbutt Michael and Franklin.
  • There is a trick to swim in the water without drowning by using the character wheel. When the current character you're controlling is about to drown, then you may use the character wheel to use another character, then take the character you control at the first place back, and you'll see that the character in the first place will have his health restored. (I.E:Use Michael to swim. When you're about to drown, use the character wheel to switch to Franklin, then wait a couple of seconds and switch back to Michael. Michael will still be swimming but will have full health and breath meters).

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