- "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 the teaser tralier
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 Tracy.
Events of GTA V
During 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 not 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.
During the mission The Extraction, the story starts with Michael resting confortably by his pool in a pair of flap-flops alongside a pool in his mansion in Rockford Hills. Michael's home is shown to be amazingly designed with the draw distance being stunning - Game Informer has stated that they were able to see his private tennis court in a near distance and when they got a look onto the smoggy horizon they were able to see the cityscape of downtown Los Santos. Like stated before, Michael and his wife Amanda aren't getting along and he doesn't have the slightest idea of how to talk with his children. When Michael gets up and walks into his mansion, they meet his daughter Tracy, who Game Informer described "jamming out loudly to a Just Dance-style video game. The quote she gives to him is "It's called exercise - you should try it,"in a flippant way to her father.
After this, Michael crosses paths with Amanda - who is heading out for another shopping spree. When she walks out the front door she shouts, "If you want to know where I am you can check your credit card statements." She hops into her Sentinel XS which Michael responds back with "Hey I'm felling lucky! I'll check the hospitals!". With the car gone, Michael then grabs the mountain bike out of the garage and heads out to meet up with Franklin and Trevor. When riding down the neighborhood of Rockford Hills Game Informer stated that there were manicured lawns, sprinkler systems, rolling hills, and plenty high-end luxury cars on the road to make the Grotti dealership look like a "used car lot".
After this, (and skipping through Trevor and Franklin's story), Michael and Trevor have already reunited, but not by choice. The FIB is hot on there backs and to get them off, the trio needs to perform a snatch-and-grab mission. When Michael pulls up, he sees Trevor insulting the security agent who was guarding the chopper about standing around with his earpiece while everyone else is "out there making money and nailing chicks." While Michael urges his lunatic friend to calm down, Trevor keeps on going about and insults the agent even more. He has agreed to this mission on the premise that this will lead to the springing of his friend Brad. Michael responds to this with "We'll talk about Brad later."
Franklin then arrives and both he and Trevor have a first exposure to each other face-to-face. Trevor is already cautious of the new recruit and makes a hot-headed rant about how Michael is acting like a father-figure to Franklin (even though Michael can't take care of his own childen). After seeing Franklin get taken aback by the rant said by Trevor, Michael tells him that it is okay if he sits this mission out. He then agrees to proceed with the mission as planned. Trevor also agrees to put his faith in Michael's judgement and trust within Franklin and the three make a well-rounded but unconventional team.
When Michael gets into the right and suitable outfit for the job, he and Trevor hop inside of the chopper so they can get the target out of the IAA building while Franklin provides the cover from a nearby building. When Trevor gets to the building, the player assumes the role of Michael as he rappels down the side of the building to locate the right office.
Michael then finds the right office and before things got out of hand, he smashes through the glass and grabs the target holding him hostage with one arm while pointing his gun at the various interrogators reaching for there pistols (Franklin then provides some great covering fire, taking out half of the agents in the room). When Trevor picks up Michael and the target a helicopter chse ensures and if the player choose to play as Michael, he and Franklin take down the last few birds in the sky before returning to the chopper back to the FIB helipad and the mission ends.
Unnamed missions that Michael may appear in
- In one scene in the second trailer, Michael was seen relaxing in his mansion while his Amanda and Tracy were steady arguing. This could perhaps be the first mission in Grand Theft Auto V, (or it could be The Extraction mission stated above).
- The next scene with Michael is when Franklin and Lamar ask Michael where the Berto Beach House is located, this could be the first time Michael meets Franklin.
- The next scene shows off Michael's driving skills when he and Franklin are either trying to rescue Michaels son or his son was helping them with a mission.
- This next short but funny scene shows off the humor in GTA when both Michael and Jimmy are inside a car and Jimmy says, quote, "Hey, let's bounce." leading Michael to reply with "Bounce...we're bouncing now?"
- The final scene shows off a robbery being committed, with 3 men in orange and gray jumpsuits blowing up a vault door. (Possibly Michael, Franklin and Trevor).
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 is known to have a good and bad side. His good side is that he is thoughtful and calculated and likely to keep his motives hidden. But, his bad side are his flaws, and his flaws are certainly his large ego, an inability to control his temper, and his willingness to make large moral compromises. He wants to compartmentalize and be a good guy some of the time. As stated above he has a horrible family that he wants to leave but can't for specific reasons and has access to all the pleasures in the world but is bored. 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.
As Rockstar Games made there way into the character development stages of Grand Theft Auto V, Michael was the first protagonist that Rockstar came up with, being a tough guy, as in the past episodes of the GTA series, but also different. So, Rockstar wanted him to be a "little bit older", according to Dan Houser. Part of what Rockstar thought of when making Michael is the hero of Grand Theft Auto III grown older while the other part is "what happens when a GTA protagoninst retires?". Rockstar decided to make him a rich man with a mansion in the most exclusive neighborhood in Los Santos while he spends his time in a chair smoking a cigar near his pool. Rockstar then thought it would be funny if they added him a horrible family as a little push to remain active in his professional criminal life.
Relationships With Other Main Characters
- Trevor - Trevor's relationship with Michael started at an unknown time period, but the two had a hard friendship with one another. Their relationship was great until 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 a 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. This was seen in the second trailer when Jimmys says the words, "Hey, let's bounce.", to which Michael is a tad bit lost by and says "Bounce, we're bouncing now?"
- Tracy - 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. According to Rockstar, they barely talk anymore. If they do talk it is either them bickering, or arguing with each other.
Skills and Attributes
As an experienced bank robber, he’s skilled in planning the complex heists that make up the structure for the single-player story and is a smooth operator as well as the brains of the team. In the cutscenes that Game Informer saw, Michael appears to be the team’s leader – although neither of his partners were easily led. He’s good with a gun, and though older now, still capable of tackling challenging tasks like rappelling out of a helicopter onto a skyscraper. During the second trailer, Michael demonstrated great driving skills, managing to save his son, who was hanging onto a large boat on the top of a tow truck while losing his grip. Just like Trevor and Franklin he is also the master of greed, ambition and insanity. Dan Houser has stated that, "He is always good at what he does, steal, kill, but he does not want to fall back into its failings."
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.
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. 
- 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.
- GameInformer December issue.
- IGN info about Michael.  - Game Informer 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