Tenpenny is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, whom he bears something of a resemblance to.
GTA San Andreas
Tenpenny rides with Eddie Pulaski and a third C.R.A.S.H. member. Prior to the game's storyline, the third member is Ralph Pendelbury, whom Tenpenny has killed in The Introduction for cooperating with internal affairs. Just prior to Pendlebury's murder, Tenpenny and Pulaski brief their newest recruit, Jimmy Hernandez, in a scene reminiscent of the film Training Day. They both order Hernandez to pull the trigger on Pendelbury, thereby initiating Hernandez into their distorted view of things.
Relationship with CJ
Tenpenny has known protagonist Carl Johnson at least since Brian Johnson's death, and CJ recognizes Tenpenny and calls him by name from the very beginning of the game. Tenpenny likes to "step on" CJ on a regular basis to remind him who's in charge. Tenpenny is obviously seen to be a powerful influence on Los Santos' criminals, even warning CJ that "we could shit on you from such a height, you'll think God himself has crapped on you." He sees CJ as another tool in his dirty dealings. He and Pulaski extort several Grove Street Families members, including Big Smoke and Ryder, but Tenpenny appears to take pleasure in exercising control over CJ specifically. He officially threatens CJ to do his work or he'll frame him for Officer Pendelbury's murder, whom Tenpenny had killed ten minutes before CJ returned to Los Santos.
While Tenpenny claims he is pitting the gangs against each other to wipe them all out, he is actually allied with the Ballas, who (unlike the GSF) have no reservations against dealing crack cocaine. C.R.A.S.H. lets the Ballas flood the city with drugs, which turns many GSF members into addicts, effectively crushing their gang. Tenpenny also convinces Smoke to betray his gang in return for heading up the drug operation; in turn, Smoke convinces Ryder to defect also. Tenpenny and Pulaski personally oversee the Balla slaying of Carl and Sweet Johnson's mother Beverly Johnson. Tenpenny anticipates that her death will bring CJ back to Los Santos, and accosts him less than a block from his home in Ganton and forces the taxi which CJ was in off with CJ's bag and all still in the trunk which is the main reason why CJ has only one pair of clothes at the start of the game having to buy more clothes for himself. The C.R.A.S.H. team also plants evidence on him linking him to Pendelbury's death (allowing Tenpenny to force CJ into doing whatever he sees fit). He warns CJ not to leave town and dumps him out of the squad car in Balla territory.
Later, Tenpenny and Pulaski kidnap CJ following a large gang assault beneath the Mulholland Intersection (this ended with Sweet being shot and Carl and Sweet being arrested. Clearly, Tenpenny personally ensured that CJ would escape the law). They drive CJ miles away to Whetstone and dump him in the woods with orders to kill an FBI witness. He also tells CJ, who now knows of Big Smoke's involvement with C.R.A.S.H., not to kill Big Smoke, or the imprisoned Sweet will be put on a Balla cell block. Tenpenny and Pulaski surface every so often to lean on CJ and usually order him to plant evidence on or kill someone who threatens to expose the true nature of C.R.A.S.H.
With Big Smoke ruling Los Santos as its crack kingpin under C.R.A.S.H.'s control, Tenpenny's reach is expanding. Despite this, the FBI is becoming interested in the wave of drugs crippling the city. CJ finally outlives his usefulness to Tenpenny and Pulaski, who are becoming edgy and less tolerant of loose ends by the time CJ reaches Las Venturas. There they have him acquire an FBI dossier. After this he drives CJ out to the desert, where Tenpenny attacks Hernandez for cooperating with Internal Affairs and orders Carl to dig his own grave. He then leaves CJ and Hernandez for Pulaski to watch so he can "get drunk and get laid", so he is not present to see CJ murder Pulaski.
Upon taking back Madd Dogg's mansion, CJ learns that Tenpenny has been charged with racketeering, corruption, possession and use of narcotics and numerous sexual assaults. However, as all the prosecution's witnesses have either been killed by CJ or otherwise gone missing, Tenpenny is acquitted, which ignites a riot in Los Santos reminiscent of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Tenpenny seeks to escape Los Santos and the riot by plane (supposedly fleeing San Andreas) with a suitcase full of drug money. Tenpenny emerges just as CJ has killed Big Smoke and tells him he has new recruits in the force who are ready for him to "open their eyes" to his way of thinking. Tenpenny starts a fire in Big Smoke's Crack Palace downstairs, hoping to kill CJ in the blast, then flees in a fire truck. Carl's brother, Sweet, however, hangs on to the firetruck's ladder; CJ catches him in his car and continues the chase.
At the last cut scene of the "End of the Line" mission, Tenpenny's fire engine runs off an overpass, where it lands in a wreck right in the heart of Grove Street. A bloodied and broken Tenpenny crawls out calling for backup. Realizing no one is coming, he curses the police force, claiming that with "fifty of me", Los Santos would be saved, before dying from his injuries. CJ and the rest of his crew examine the body to make sure he's finished, but Sweet makes sure no one touches him so officials will blame a traffic accident for his death. Before they walk away from the body, The Truth tells CJ that he "beat the system" after Truth had been trying for 30 years. CJ then leans over, points his fingers at Tenpenny's body and smugly says, "See you around, officer." Tenpenny's corpse is reported on the radio to have been mutilated and stripped by the homeless, before officials found it once the riots had ended.
- GTA San Andreas
- The Introduction
- First Mission
- Running Dog
- Wrong Side of the Tracks
- Madd Dogg's Rhymes (Post-mission phone call)
- Burning Desire (Boss)
- Gray Imports (Boss)
- The Green Sabre
- Badlands (Boss)
- Body Harvest
- 555 We Tip (Voice/Boss)
- Snail Trail (Boss)
- Misappropriation (Boss)
- Freefall (post-mission phone call if Missappropriation completed first)
- High Noon (Boss)
- End of the Line (Killed)
- In an article on PC World, Tenpenny was voted as #35 of the top 47 "most diabolical video game villains of all time." In Game Informer, Tenpenny was voted #2 Best Villain.
- Tenpenny, or at least his so-called philosophy may be based on Denzel Washington's character Alonzo Harris in the 2001 movie Training Day. Both cops are corrupt, take innocent cops under their wing, ally themselves with gangs and front a philosophy of overlooking and ignoring small crimes to obtain a bigger reward.
- In Catalyst, Tenpenny states his wife "loves this stuff" talking about the PCP Ryder was cooking. Samuel L. Jackson's wife also was a drug addict in the movie Menace II Society.
- In the 2008 movie Lakeview Terrace, Jackson also plays a corrupt police officer named Abel Turner. It's possible this character was loosely inspired by Tenpenny, who was voiced by Jackson.
- In the aftermath of The Green Sabre, Tenpenny tells Carl that his job is to "Intimidate those who intimidate others". This is the motto that the LAPD Rampart district used.
- According to the mission Catalyst, Tenpenny has a wife who is a drug addict.
- Tenpenny could be based on a real corrupt LAPD Officer Rafael Perez who was the center of attention of the Rampart CRASH scandal. Another member of the rampart scandal, David Mack, looks similar to Tenpenny.
- Frank Tenpenny is the only African-American main antagonist in the GTA series.
- He is the main antagonist that makes the most appearances in the GTA III era, with thirteen mission appearances.
- The only two missions where Tenpenny is seen without his partner, Eddie Pulaski, are Body Harvest, and End of the Line.
- Tenpenny and Jerry Martinez are the only two main antagonists in the series that are corrupt law enforcers. Tenpenny being a corrupt police officer, while Martinez is a corrupt soldier.
- He is one of two antagonists, along with Jimmy Pegorino (Deal only), not to be killed by another character, as he dies in a traffic accident.
- Tenpenny's artwork and his actual character model slightly differ. In the artwork he appears slightly younger than in his in-game appearance, and he also had numerous tattoos on both of his arms. These tattoos do not appear in-game. He also appears much less muscular in the game. One tattoo partially visible on Tenpenny's left arm in the artwork appears to be the United States United States Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem. Corrupt LAPD C.R.A.S.H. officer Rafael Perez, on whom Tenpenny was likely based, was a veteran of the Marine Corps prior to joining the LAPD.
- He is the only primary antagonist in the GTA series to be a member of the police.