- "I want to be a good dad, love my family and live the dream. But at the same time, I really want the other stuff too."
- ―Michael talking to his therapist
- "You see it in the movies. I wanted to retire. From what I was doing, you know? From that, that... line of work. Be a good guy for once, a family man. So, I bought a big house. Came here, put my feet up, and thought I be a dad like all the other dads. My kids, would be like the kids on TV. We could play ball and sit in the sun. But well, you know how it is."
- ―Michael during Trailer #1
Michael's background is unknown at the moment, but it has been said that he is from somewhere in the East Coast and at some point in his young life he became a bank robber, and through the years he became highly successful at his job. Whilst young Michael somehow ran into an ex-military pilot named Trevor Phillips, who also had a flare for criminal acts and the two became close friends, performing several major heists in the past. Michael then met his future wife Amanda and had two children, Jimmy and Tracey.
Events of GTA V
Before the events of Grand Theft Auto V, Michael retired from his life of crime after making a "sweetheart" deal with the FIB. In the process of that deal, he and his family got rich off of it, now living in a large mansion with several sports cars and a private tennis court and golf course.
But Michael's domestic life is sadly coming to an end. In fact, his wife who now barely tolerates him anymore, spent almost all of his money in the city’s finest boutiques. Both his son and daughter have little -if any- time left for him. Even Trevor had a severe falling out with Michael. This caused a severe rift between the two. Running out of money quickly and tired of being bored and miserable, Michael gets back to the criminal life.
His personal story is how the breakdown of his bought idyllic life pushes a man to breaking point. He is described as a man with everything and nothing to lose both at the same time, and his seemingly blissful existence in San Andreas will be changed forever by the events of GTA V.
Michael's good side is that he is thoughtful and calculated and likely to keep his motives hidden. But, he also has a composed side as well, which is his large ego, an inability to control his temper, his willingness to make large moral compromises and his hypocrisy. He wants to compartmentalize and be a good guy some of the time. But yet, Michael also wants to return to his old life that place him in this predicament. Another bad thing about Michael is that he hasn't been a good husband or father. Michael's aggressiveness towards his family and his addiction to chaos makes him alienate them. But yet, he loves and cares for his family. Dan Houser has also stated that despite seeming to be the good guy (at least compared to Trevor), he might end up being worse than Trevor in the end.
Grand Theft Auto series
Relationships With Other Characters
- Trevor - Trevor's relationship with Michael started at an unknown time period, but the two had a long and often troubled friendship with one another. But both men had a falling out which caused a rift in between their friendship (some believe that it was Michael's deal with the FIB that caused that rift). Since that brief rift, it caused both men to stay friends but with an even more troubled relationship with one another. When the two old buddies see each other, they often bicker a lot.
- Franklin - After meeting one another, Franklin and Michael began this father-son relationship with Michael holding some affection for Franklin, and saw potential and a younger Michael in Franklin, and Franklin doesn't really have a family but wants to move up in the criminal underworld but at the same time, doesn't know how to do so. So, he saw his way in after meeting Michael. Dan Houser has also stated that the father-son relationship between the two could lead to some "interesting situations."
- Amanda - Amanda's relationship with Michael also started in an unknown time. The two fell in love with one another, got married and had two children. During the events of the game, she can barely tolerate him anymore, (mainly because Dan Houser also confirmed that Michael has been awful to her in the past few years). One of the reasons she fell in love with Michael is because she is bound to him by their past lives, but now both of them can't stand each other anymore (Another statement by Dan Houser).
- Jimmy - Jimmy's relationship with his father is rocky as well and even though Michael is far from perfect, so is his son. They've both got a confused and awful relationship with each other. Michael does try to improve there relationship by spending time with his son, but all to no avail.
- Tracey - Michael's relationship with his daughter was also said to be weak, by Rockstar, though the second trailer, her first appearance, didn't show any dialogue with Michael.
Michael has a nice clean-cut appearance, along with nice clothes, usually seen in screenshots and artworks with a gray, black or dark blue dress suit with a light green or white dress shirt underneath. In the "Michael, Franklin and Trevor" artwork he is seen dressed with a creamy-yellow collared shirt with blue dress pants. During the opening scene in the second trailer, Michael walks outside to his pool with nothing on but sandals, swimming trunks and a pair of glasses, showing us that he is a small portion over weight but still in good shape.
Skills and Abilities
Michael has had a very positive responses from critics and fans, one of the reason is because of him being the first playable character in the entire GTA Series that has a family. Another reason is that he is much like Tommy Vercetti, or Carl Johnson who have already lived there lives out as an highly professional criminal and gotten rich off of it.
Dan Houser's Way of Describing 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."
"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."
- 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 series to be a family man.
- As seen in Trailer one and two, Michael is seen with green eyes and an older look. In the Michael and Gameplay trailer, Michael has brown eyes and a younger look. This includes a Beta version of this protagonist.
- Being in his mid 40s, he is the oldest protagonist in the GTA series.
- The song that plays in the Michael trailer is "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen.
- Michael's special ability might be a reference to Rockstar's game Max Payne, where the title character can also slow time during a shootout.
- GameInformer December issue.
-  - IGN info about Michael.
-  - Info from Meristation.
-  - Info from Polygon.
-  - Info from a translated interview with Dan Houser about GTA V.
-  - Info from another translated interview with with Dan Houser.