- "I'm sorry that I lied to you. And weirdly, in some ways you're a nice guy. Better than the creeps I normally date."
- ―Karen to Niko
Karen is a character in the Grand Theft Auto series who features as a supporting character in Grand Theft Auto IV and a minor character in Grand Theft Auto V. She is an undercover government official who works for United Liberty Paper. Before her identity is revealed, she becomes Niko's girlfriend under the false name Michelle. As seen in GTA V, she is a lead interrogator and high ranking agent for the IAA 5 years on.
Very little is known about Karen's background, because most of what she tells Niko are lies to protect her cover as an agent. She was apparently blackmailed by the United Liberty Paper Company into becoming an agent for them, so she may have past criminal connections herself. This notion is made more likely to be true by a statement made by the United Liberty Paper Contact, who said that in exchange for working for them, they would 'give her her life back', meaning that she had something to hide. Even though her job requires her to deceive those around her, she appeared to genuinely care about Niko, and seemed remorseful for betraying him. Since she would know how to not become emotionally attached if being a government agent was her career by choice, this serves as more evidence that she was blackmailed into it.
After disclosing her true identity, it is revealed that Karen is a smoker. It is unknown if Karen drinks alcohol, as when on dates to bars she doesn't get drunk like Niko does, but this is probably due to her having to gather information about Niko's background and connections - a task more easily done when sober.
Events of GTA IV
After unveiling her identity, she confiscates Elizabeta's cocaine, and naturally, she and Niko break up.
It is unknown when Karen got assigned Niko's case. There is evidence that it is from the start of the game, or even before Niko arrives in the city; as she lies immediately to Niko on their first date.
Due to the nature of the United Liberty Paper's activities, it was likely discovered that Niko was headed to America, and due to his exploits in Europe, unknowingly got himself noticed by the ULPC. After digging up info on his family and finding that Roman Bellic was related, Karen was likely told to make friends with Mallorie, knowing that Niko would inevitably make contact with them.
During a mission for ULPC, Niko asked what Karen's reward for bringing in Niko was, to which he replies "We gave her her life back", once again hinting towards a previous criminal affiliation.
Despite her intentions, it appears as though Karen genuinely fell for Niko during their time together. This is due to the fact that she is sometimes surprised, upset and genuinely happy when talking to Niko, and after a fair amount of dates, Niko doesn't have to ask to be invited inside. She is also visibly hurt when she is forced to betray him, and upset when Niko calls her a "fucking bitch". She is never seen again for the rest of the game. However, the United Liberty Paper Company's answering machine's voice sounds as if it was recorded by Karen.
It is likely that the ULPC ordered Karen to take interest into people with previous war or criminal experience, then gain their trust and blackmail them into helping the company, a strategy more effective than hiring agents that require payment and training.
Events of GTA V
Five years after the events of GTA IV, Karen returns in GTA V and is now a high ranking IAA agent. She is seen in the mission Three's Company, where she tortures a captive by breaking both his hands with a flashlight and then threatening to sodomize him with it. Before she can carry out her threat, Michael De Santa breaks in through the office window as part of an FIB operation to rescue the captive. Before Michael starts opening fire on the agents, Karen manages to get away and call for back up. Nonetheless, Michael gets away with the captive and she is not seen again for the rest of the game.
It is revealed that the United Liberty Paper is actually a front for the IAA, so it is possible that Karen decided to continue working for the IAA after being blackmailed. It is unclear why Karen continued to work for the IAA after being blackmailed. She may have been psychologically damaged by the extortion the IAA had over her life, had a sadistic streak all along, or developed one after becoming a high ranking government agent.
- Three's a Crowd (Appears as Michelle)
- First Date (Boss, Appears as Michelle)
- Blow Your Cover (Post-mission phone call)
- The Snow Storm (Betrayal)
- Photo Shoot (Post-mission phone call)
- Wrong is Right
- Strangely, Roman knows "Michelle" was working for someone, although he wasn't there in The Snow Storm to see the betrayal. It is likely Little Jacob told him about her. This is shown in Roman's e-mail called "Shit!".
- Karen is the only girlfriend who has appeared in multiple games, having appeared as a dateable girlfriend in GTA IV and a minor character in GTA V.
- Niko comments on her apartment in the mission First Date (GTA IV), saying that all her furniture is new and that "some still have tags on", implying that she recently moved to Liberty City. However, this is probably because she is living in a government apartment and only temporarily.
- Karen, along with Patrick McReary if he is met and survives his random encounter, are the only returning characters from GTA IV era to not have the option of being killed by the player during GTA V.