- "I pay you to listen to my problems. I'm rich. I'm miserable. Half the time, my kids can't stand me. The other half, my wife is cheating on me. I kill people without remorse, Doc. Hell, I'm pretty average for this town, really."
- ―Michael De Santa
- "I'm just a fat washed up jock who can't get his head around the fact his high school football career didn't play out the way that he planned. The only way I'm content and competent is with a gun in my hand or a price on my head."
- ―Michael during his therapy session.
Michael was born in the mid-to-late 1960s, possibly in the Midwest, which would explain why he spent some of his earlier criminal career in North Yankton. As a child, he didn't have the advantages his children have and grew up in the poor environment of a trailer park with his parents, where his father drank alcohol and physically abused him. Michael's father soon abandoned him and his mother. He was told an exaggerated amount of stories of why his father left, all of which include but aren't limited to, him skipping town, being hit by an oncoming train or even joining the navy. During his time in high school, Michael was an acclaimed quarterback for an all-state football team. Michael would often put on a well placed performance during games and also had his face in the local newspaper occasionally. However, due to his temperament issues and the constant stream of injures, he was ultimately forced to quit.
As a young adult, Michael eventually became a criminal. He did his first robbery in the outskirts of Carcer City in 1988, where he was able to steal $10,000 from a lesser known franchise. In the same year however, he was arrested twice for unknown reasons. While in prison, Michael was able to master many skills, sometimes through bizarre events, such as learning how to do tattoos by tattooing his name on his cellmate's buttocks. Despite his failures and shortcomings, Michael perfected his criminal skills to the point where he was one of the FIB's Most Wanted Criminals in America.
In 1993, Michael met Trevor Philips while escorting cargo. The deal went somewhat abominably but Michael was able to notice that they work well together: the latter and his friend, Lester Crest would plan out details for multi-layered jobs while Trevor would help execute them. After some brief convincing words, he and Trevor created an uneasy partnership with each other. Trevor soon established a chagrined friendship with Michael as well. They were both somewhat successful at their profession, but Michael claims that they were always impecunious and constantly on the run from the law; Trevor's rage issues would cause him to murder someone in broad daylight and Michael's circumspection and foresight would cause him and Trevor to skip town after completing a job.
Michael met his future wife Amanda at a strip joint in the same year - she was a stripper at the time. Using his criminal proceeds, Michael was even able to buy Amanda some breast implants, which would help with her stripping as well as her days as a hooker. This led to Michael creating his own prostitution racket. After Michael and Amanda fell in love and lust, Amanda became pregnant with their two children Jimmy and Tracey while living in a trailer park in the Midwest. A few months later, they were married. Michael, began to see that he had a lot more to lose if he was ever killed or imprisoned and started to keep to himself over time as a criminal - much to Trevor's annoyance. A few years later, Michael and Trevor began working with Brad Snider. Michael and Brad would never show any empathy for each other and would often express distaste or distrust when working together.
At some point in 2004, Michael met FIB agent Dave Norton. Michael struck a deal with Norton to give Trevor up to the FIB and fake his death in the process, in exchange for a cut of his accumulated millions and letting Norton "kill" him in the upcoming bank heist in Ludendorff, North Yankton - a move that would make Norton's career as the agent who took down the "Most Wanted Man in America". The staged robbery, however, turned out to be a disaster; after Trevor murdered a guard, he, Michael and Brad were ambushed by over a dozen police officers ready to arrest or kill them. During the getaway, their driver was killed by pursuing police; Michael took the wheel and drove the crew to the ambush spot he and Norton had agreed on, where he claimed there was an escape chopper waiting.
However, things yet again deviated from their plan when Brad was accidentally shot by Norton (later succumbing to his wounds) after he walked in front of Trevor. Michael took the second bullet as planned - although the lack of a visible wound or blood loss implies that Dave intentionally missed him, or he was wearing a bullet proof vest and acted as if he believed the wound was fatal, imploring Trevor to leave him behind. Enraged beyond sense, Trevor proceeded to massacre numerous police officers before barely escaping the ambush (to Michael's chagrin) with his life.
After the incident, Michael Townley was pronounced dead. True to his word, Dave arranged for Michael to receive a comfortable stipend and a relocation to a large Los Santos mansion in Rockford Hills, where he and his family lived under the surname "De Santa" (a longtime alias of Michael's); thus, Michael received an off-the-books way to safely retire from his former criminal life and spend time with his wife and kids in exchange for a monthly five-figure "hush money" payment to Norton in exchange for his silence.
Living the Vinewood Dream
Michael's life in Los Santos has slowly pirouetted into a living nightmare. He's become massively depressed about having to abandon his criminal lifestyle for the family man persona that he once believed he desired and he just spends his days either getting drunk to dull the depression or miserably lounging by his pool, ignoring his children and being absentee and self involved in the process. This has caused his children to treat him with an intense amount of disrespect as they continued to age. Michael also began to show coarseness and insolence towards Amanda and even slept with a stripper. This led to Amanda having multiple affairs with other men and treating him with animosity while spending his money on fashion items and plastic surgery. As a result, Michael goes through a midlife crisis and visits therapy often because of it.
Events of GTA V
Nine to ten years have passed since Michael's false death and after one therapy session, Michael has a chance encounter with a Los Santos youth named Franklin Clinton, whom he unknowingly directs to Franklin's repossession assignment along with his friend Lamar Davis.
A short time later his son Jimmy buys an SUV from Simeon Yetarian, an Armenian car salesman who sells the car to him at an unaffordable price of $5,000 in monthly installments. After being late on the first payment, Simeon gets his repossession man, the same Franklin Clinton, to "repossess" the SUV from the De Santa home. However, Michael spots Franklin sneaking in and hides in a rolled up mattress in the backseat of the car prior to Franklin stealing it. Michael reveals himself and holds Franklin at gunpoint, ordering him to go to Yetarian's shop and drive the SUV through the store's window. Afterwards, Michael pays Franklin to leave and beats Yetarian into submission, threatening more violence if he pulls another of his sales tactics on him or his family again.
At home, Michael attempts to relax by his pool, only to be interrupted by Franklin, who takes up his earlier offering of a drink. Surprised that Franklin actually took it to heart, Michael decides to take him out drinking. Unfortunately, Jimmy calls that instant and reveals he has tried to sell Michael's boat, ending with the "buyers" hijacking the yacht themselves. Enraged, Michael along with Franklin drives after the boat and saves Jimmy, but is unable to rescue the yacht. Michael becomes angry at Jimmy but becomes fond of Franklin after his impressive efforts, whom he tells to visit him any time.
After the fiasco with the boat, Michael discovers Amanda sleeping with her tennis coach, leading him and a recently arrived Franklin to give chase. Furious beyond reasonable thought, Michael chases the coach to an exotic house on the side of the Vinewood Hills. Michael then orders Franklin to hook their truck's winch onto the supports of the house and he pulls them loose, causing the house to collapse, much to Franklin's shock and Michael's joy. However, it turns out that the house did not belong to the coach, but the girlfriend of a powerful Mexican cartel leader named Martin Madrazo, who sends his men after Michael and Franklin. The two manage to fend them off, but Madrazo arrives at the De Santa residence. He orders a henchman to hit Michael with a bat before demanding that Michael pay for the damages in an installment of two million dollars - money that Michael does not have.
With no other choice, Michael decides to return to bank robbing and contacts his old partner Lester Crest. Lester agrees to help Michael get the money if the latter agrees to sabotage founder of Lifeinvader, Jay Norris' phone. Michael does so and causes Norris' death when he calls the entrepreneur's sabotaged phone, causing it to explode and kill him instantly. After collecting information about the Vangelico Jewelry Store and its gems, Michael and Lester set up a heist, with Michael insisting that Franklin be a part, claiming that the experience will be something that he'll look forward to even with his stiff payment.
- "You forget a thousand things every day, pal. Make sure this is one of ‘em."
- ―Michael to the security guard during the heist.
The heist goes smoothly, and Madrazo is paid. Unfortunately for Michael, the job is reported on the news, which Trevor sees on his TV. Trevor recognises Michael's modus operandi from the report and goes partially berserk, making his way to Los Santos to confront the "ghost" of his former partner and friend.
After several weeks of laying low, Michael finds marijuana in the fridge, and correctly assumes it is Jimmy's. This creates an angry argument among the family until Trevor abruptly arrives, much to everyone's shock and horror. Thankfully, the tension is broken by Jimmy revealing that Tracey has gone to audition for Fame or Shame. Realizing that Tracey will embarrass herself in front of the nation due to her horrible dancing, Michael and Trevor rush to the Maze Bank Arena. The two find Tracey doing a stripper-like dance and the show's host Lazlow Jones beginning to do a sexual pose behind her, enraging both Michael and Trevor. The two give chase to a fleeing Lazlow in his red Dilettante to the Los Santos Canal. Trevor forces Lazlow to take off his pants and dance for them as he records it on his phone. In the aftermath, Tracey angrily blames her father for ruining her life, which doesn't seem to bother him.
Soon after, Michael agrees to meet Dave at the Galileo Observatory. When they get to the meeting point, Dave explains that Michael's decision to rob the Vangelico Jewelry Store has cause superfluous attention from the FIB for Dave and if the the Bureau was to come across his files that contain information about the deal that both men made ten years ago, this would create a serious situation that neither one of them can escape from. Michael proceeds to do tasks for Dave in order to help keep his career within the FIB, in exchange for covering up the crimes that Michael commits. Michael's first mission is to confirm the death of a suspect in a morgue. To do this, Norton knocks Michael out and delivers him as a corpse to the morgue. Michael wakes in the middle of the autopsy and then finds out that the suspect isn't dead by finding his name tag on a woman's corpse. Michael escapes the morgue by killing the guards. In a panic, Michael calls Franklin and accidentally reveals that he is affiliated with the FIB, though Franklin continues to trust Michael due to the latter offering him help while he was in a tough financial position. Franklin also decides to work with Michael, in hopes that there will be better payment from jobs with him.
Michael continues to work for Norton. Steve Haines, a corrupt FIB agent working with Norton, contacts him and makes him team up with Franklin and Trevor to extract a prisoner of the IAA, dubbed Mr. K, out of the IAA building and into the hands of the FIB. Later, Michael and Trevor are summoned to a remote warehouse where Michael is briefed that he will accompany Norton to assassinate an Azebaijani terrorist suspect whilst Trevor and Haines torture Mr. K for information on him. The mission is successful, and Michael refuses to know any more details of the mission.
When Michael returns home, he finds his wife with her yoga instructor Fabien, who asks Michael to join them. After a few poses, Fabien begins doing a sexual pose on Amanda, causing Michael to get angry and attack Fabien, who dodges him and makes him fall into the pool. Angered by her husband's attitude, Amanda leaves with Fabien.
Michael goes upstairs and tries to do something with Jimmy, who asks him to go with him to get a package from a friend. They meet the friend at Burger Shot and he gives Jimmy some pot and a drink. On the way home, Michael drinks from Jimmy's drink and begins to feel strange. Jimmy reveals that he drugged the drink and then pushes Michael out of the car and reveals he is moving out and he is going to keep the car. Michael begins having strange dreams and wakes up in his underwear a few blocks away from his home. When he gets to the house, he finds a note from Amanda saying that his family has left due to Michael's poor behaviour.
Later, Trevor contacts Michael and Franklin to partake in his own heist; the mercenary group Merryweather and its unknown cargo at the docks. The heist goes as planned and Trevor finds a super-weapon that Lester reveals is highly dangerous, especially in the hands of someone like Trevor and tells him that he must return it. Michael and Franklin agree, and Trevor is furious that he cannot keep the loot.
After the Merryweather heist, Michael is called upon by billionaire Devin Weston, who offers him a partnership with movie producer Solomon Richards if he steals several rare cars for him with Trevor and Franklin. Offered his dream job, Michael eagerly agrees and delivers the cars to Weston.
Michael is thrilled to finally meet his idol Solomon Richards, who hires him as an assistant. His first job is to convince Rocco Pelosi to obey Solomon's wishes for how the actors should behave during the production of the motion picture Meltdown. This gets Michael on Richard's good side and is promised the role of producer for the upcoming film if Michael continues his good work.
Martin Madrazo later summons Michael and Trevor to his home, and offers them pay if they bring down his cousin's airliner, which is carrying a package Madrazo wants. Michael does his part by bringing it down with a weapon inside a van. After destroying the van, Michael finds out to his horror that Trevor has kidnapped Madrazo's wife Patricia. Knowing full well what Madrazo might do to them if he catches them, Michael agrees to hide out on Sandy Shores with Trevor.
While exiled in Sandy Shores, Haines and Norton summon the trio for another mission against the IAA. This time, the two agents plot to raid an IAA chemical plant to steal a dangerous neurotoxin that the agency was plotting to use in a simulated terrorist attack. To carry out this operation, the trio must first secure enough funds to purchase a Cargobob and other assorted equipment that the FIB can't assign them. Ultimately, the crew settles upon robbing the Paleto Bay bank, as it contains millions of dollars deposited there by Blaine County's corrupt law enforcement.
Using stolen military body armour and machine guns, Trevor, Michael, Franklin and one gunman successfully rob the Paleto bank, taking a small cut each and giving the largest profit to Haines and Norton so they can purchase the equipment for the chemical plant robbery, much to the team's irritation. While awaiting this operation, Michael and Trevor carry out another job, raiding a Merryweather courier train that carries gold and priceless artifacts so that they can pay off Martin Madrazo. Trevor derails the train over a bridge and Michael dives into the river below to retrieve the merchandise, taking an ancient Aztec fertility statuette that Madrazo would value. Trevor is greatly dissatisfied with Michael's choice of take, but he calms down once Michael proposes that, once they get the FIB off their cases, they should carry out "the Big Score" - robbing the Union Depository.
However, Trevor realizes Michael's deal with Norton back at North Yankton, and hastily travels back there with Michael in pursuit. After a stand off at his (Brad's) grave, they are attacked by Wei Cheng's henchmen. Trevor scarpers, leaving Michael to fend off the henchmen himself. Although he succeeds, Michael is captured when he tries to escape in his car which Trevor sabotaged. After being tortured by Cheng at a meat processing factory (back in Los Santos), he is rescued by Franklin.
Michael and Franklin are called up once again by Haines for one more job: to break into the FIB building and remove incriminating evidence against Haines. This goes according to plan, but when Michael meets Haines and Norton at the Kortz Center, Haines attempts to arrest him to cover his involvement in the raid. However, this tuns into a three-way gunfight between the FIB (to arrest the trio because of the raid), the IAA (for the FIB's constant sabotages) and Merryweather (for Michael's involvement in their troubles). Michael manages to escape with the help of Trevor, under the pretense of cooperating with the Big Score.
At this point, Michael's family reunite and after defending Solomon from Rocco, becomes executive producer of Meltdown. Things were starting to look up, until Weston announces his intentions to exploit the movie studios' insurance policy by hiding the completed film from the world so he would claim the insurance money and finally close and destroy the studios. This infuriates Michael, and chases Weston's assistant to the airport, where she is accidentally sucked into a jet engine. Michael retrieves the film, and Solomon arranges a premiere for the film so that it could not be tampered with. At the premiere, Weston unexpectedly shows up and cryptically threatens Michael with Amanda and Tracey's lives because of his interference. After Michael subdues the killers, he sends his family into hiding and notifies Lester that they pull off the Big Score now.
After the heist, Michael's fate depends on Franklin's choice to kill him, Trevor or everyone that had double-crossed them.
Whilst chasing Trevor around the Paleto Oilfields, Franklin calls Michael for help. He arrives in a stolen Premier and crashes into Trevor causing the latter to crash into a gas tanker, covering him in gasoline. Franklin shoots the gas to incinerate Trevor before the tanker explodes. Michael and Franklin reflect on how crazy Trevor was and it was this constant craziness which led to his demise. Shortly after, they split up before Franklin sarcastically remarks the event as an "illuminating experience", which Michael counters by telling him to survive, and everything else is "bullshit" (Something Sensible).
Michael meets Franklin in the desert and reflects on their partnership. However, in Franklin's reply, he notices Franklin's intention to kill him and escapes, eventually ending up at the Palmer-Taylor Power Station. They continue to chase up on one of the chimney walkways and after a minor scuffle, Michael hangs precariously from the rail. Franklin can choose to save him or drop him, but with either choice, Michael falls to his death (The Time's Come).
Michael helps Franklin and Trevor fight off Merryweather and the corrupt FIB agents, then kills Stretch, to not implicate Franklin from its effects. Afterwards, he meets Franklin and Trevor, who kidnapped Weston in his car, at the foothills of Mount Chiliad, where he is seen trying to smoke, but soon gets disgusted and tosses the packet and lighter away. After taunting Weston on their apparent victory, the trio pushes the car off the cliff and into the ocean. Michael reflects that he is getting too old to continue a life of crime, and drives home with Franklin (The Third Way).
Characters murdered by Michael De Santa
- Jay Norris - Murdered for Lester Crest, so that he would re-join Michael for robberies.
- Tahir Javan - Murdered on orders from Steve Haines for alleged ties to Terrorist groups.
- Walton O'Neil - Murdered for seeking retribution against Trevor Philips.
- Wynn O'Neil - Murdered for seeking retribution against Trevor Philips.
- Gianni - Murdered for harassing Solomon Richards.
- Rocco Pelosi - Murdered for harassing Solomon Richards.
- Stretch - Murdered for trying to have Franklin Clinton and Lamar Davis killed. (Deathwish Ending)
- Devin Weston - Murdered for trying to have Michael and his family killed. (Deathwish Ending)
- Blake - Can be killed during the chase in the mission Daddy's Little Girl.
- Isiah Friedlander - Can be killed during Michael's final visit to him.
- Abigail Mathers - Can be killed after the Strangers and Freaks mission Death at Sea.
- Tracey's stalker - Can be killed or spared during the mission Doting Dad.
- Trevor Philips - If Franklin chooses to kill Trevor but doesn't shoot him, then Michael will instead during Something Sensible.
Michael is a Caucasian male in his mid-40s, with grayish black hair and light green eyes. In official artwork, he is shown to have blue eyes. His default appearance is a cleft chin with a Lexington hairstyle and a short stubble around his face. Michael's physique is thicker and more heavily built than the likes of Trevor and Franklin, having burly and veiny arms and legs. This most certainly comes from his time as a quarterback and his stint in prison. Although Michael isn't obese or out of shape, many people around him will occasionally make fun of his rather large midsection, such as Jimmy and Trevor or at many times, even himself. Michael's movement is also much more slower than Franklin and Trevor's, as he's much older and on top of the fact that his ten year retirement from crime has forced him to not be as physically active as the other two.
His Prologue appearance has him with shorter, shaven hair. It is somewhere between his default Lexington and The Wood hairstyle, somewhat similar to the Cesar haircut of CJ. His facial features are still the same.
Michael's beta appearance can be seen in Trailer one and two, where he is seen with green eyes and an older look. This was changed later in the character's development to make him look like he wasn't too aged to perform some of things he would do during gameplay.
Michael's initial wardrobe sets him with gray two-piece suit without tie and casual attires like beach shorts with sandals or polo shirts. His gray suit is his default outfit used in most of his artworks and concept arts. He shows approval as he's trying out outfits at Ponsonby's, opposite to the clear disdain of buying items from Suburban or Binco.
Grand Theft Auto series
Michael is a very complex person, even confused by his "good and evil" personality.
He has a darker and violent side to him. He has an exceptionally short temper, which fills him with rage and causes him to not think at times. One example would be where he caught Amanda having an affair with her tennis coach. He chases the coach to a mansion and pulls it off a hillside thinking it was the coaches', (however, nearly everyone around Michael (except Franklin), including the tennis coach himself, knew that the mansion was too expensive for him to afford on his salary). Another example would be Michael smashing Jimmy's flat screen television after the latter rudely told him to leave his room.
Michael is highly egotistical; he'll often complain about his own well being and safety, rather than his team mates, before doing a dangerous and life threatening mission as well as doing the same when someone doesn't support him, his decisions and/or criticizes him. One example would be the arguments that he has with Amanda, as she'll often criticize him for his rude and conceited behavior, to which Michael will arrogantly bring up the fact that he was the one who made their lives a lot more wealthy with the decisions he made. Another example would be how he criticizes Trevor for calling Franklin to help him out with murdering the O'Neal brothers, Trevor himself stated that Michael only thought about himself instead of the trouble.
He is also very sarcastic, as he constantly made snarky remarks about Trevor's meth lab. After the two men pick a quarrel with each other, Michael angrily contends that sarcasm is the one thing he can use, as he doesn't have many things left in this world. Furthermore, Michael easily makes bad judgement calls, such as him expecting almost everyone he works for to pay him or his friends, like Devin Weston or Martin Madrazo, only to be betrayed or screwed over in the end. He also has a large willingness to make large moral compromises, one example for each of the two being his deal with the FIB. The latter demonstrates much hypocrisy, as he'll often criticize Trevor for his ability to kill and thieve at his own pleasure without remorse, even though he does exactly the same thing.
Another trait that plagues the latter's personality is his ability to be dishonest or vaguely admit the truth with much ease; whenever Trevor brings up a subject involving Brad, Michael will often change the topic and once Trevor immediately realizes that Brad is dead, Michael continued to make lies about his grave being empty instead of it actually containing the former's corpse. He is also massively dishonest with himself on occasion, the biggest lie would be that he constantly tells himself that giving up everything and everyone he knew in his previous life so that he can join the witness protection program was worth it.
Despite all of the negatives, Michael does possess a good side to his personality. Such as him being a very considerate individual, as he paid Franklin for doing what he was forced to do and drive through the front of his boss' business, even though the latter broke into Michael's mansion. Despite all the problems he has in his family, he dearly loves them but is frequently angered with Tracey's social life, Jimmy being jobless, lazy and a video game addict and Amanda spending most of his money and cheating on him. However, after reuniting with his family, Michael's family issues slowly started to dissolve.
It should also be noted that it's very clear that Michael cares for his friends more than he shows. If you choose to kill Trevor in the end Michael will stop hanging out with Franklin because he is devastated by Trevor's death. If you choose to kill Michael, his extremely aggressive behavior towards Franklin shows that he loved him as a friend and can't believe Franklin didn't feel the same.
Michael, being the opposite of Trevor, is thorough and rational when it comes to crime. This makes the others leave him to the planning and leading of robberies and missions, as he is usually the one to come up with a plan to a heist, alongside Lester. He also shows consideration for people caught up in robberies, an example is that, if you choose to impose as guards for the Union Depository heist, he'll give the guard he blackmailed a bar of gold for helping them get past security.
Michael will also always put his family's safety above anything else, going as far as to make a moral compromise with the FIB to ensure his family was not in danger. When Trevor first came back to find Michael in his house, Michael immediately put himself in front of Jimmy, not knowing what Trevor was going to do. When Devin Weston sent Merry Weather to Michael's house to kill his family, Michael instantly abandoned his movie premiere to engage the hostile forces, rescue his family and subsequently move them to a new location. Michael's care about his family is finally reciprocated by Amanda towards the end of the game, at which time she makes him promise not to get killed.
Towards the end of the game, Michael has started to accept his borderline-sociopath personality, with him stating in the final cutscene of the Deathwish ending that he still hates himself, but at least he knows the words for it. Michael has also started to work on his anger issues when his family came back. This can be shown when hanging out with friends, Michael will have appeared to have become more calm and passive when insulted by Trevor. One example is where Trevor calls Michael "fake and plastic," like Los Santos, to which Michael agrees to, albeit while commenting sarcastically about Trevor's "normal" behavior. Michael will also begin to show a large amount of regret due to the decisions he's made. This is evident when he hangs out with Franklin; he expressed great distaste for his decision to join the witness protection program, seeing as the decision itself was hollow and only created more problems as well as causing much more hatred for not only for himself but the people around him as well.
Relationships with other characters
Like what was stated above, Michael loves and deeply cares for his family. He'll always put them before any and everything he has. But in contrast to the way he cares about his family, he also hates the way they live their lives and behave around him and vice versa. Michael had admitted to Franklin that his relationship with his love ones was in a very good position up until they were relocated to Los Santos, where everything began to spiral out of control. Early within the storyline, Michael will be seen constantly fussing, bickering and arguing with his family up until the mission Did Somebody Say Yoga?, where they'll abandon him in search for a more peaceful living. After Michael reunites with his family in the mission Reuniting the Family, Michael will be seen bonding with them much more often than before, as they all promise to fix up their relationship with each other before things become disastrous. While hanging out with Amanda, Michael admits that he thought he lost his family for good once they left him and that made him eager to change his ways.
- Amanda De Santa - Amanda's relationship with Michael also started in an unknown time where she was a stripper. The two eventually fell in love with one another, got married and had two children. Amanda had so much devotion to Michael that she even left everything she had in North Yankton to moved to Los Santos, along with their children, to begin their lives in the witness protection program. During the events of the game, Amanda can barely tolerate him any more due to his arrogant and hypocritical personality and verbally abusive behavior towards her. Amanda begins to have affairs with multiple men, including her Tennis coach which further strains their marriage. Amanda finally hits the breaking point when Fabien LaRouche, her yoga instructor, does a sexual pose which angers Michael and attempts to punch him, ending with Fabien sidestepping and makes Michael land in the swimming pool. Amanda then berates Michael for his attempted action, calling him "a pathetic psychopath" and leaves him with Tracey while Jimmy moves out on his own (according to him). Michael later suffers from depression after his wife and kids leave him. However, it turns out that Amanda as well as their kids were even more miserable living with Fabien than with Michael. After Jimmy revealed the couple's hangout spot, Amanda was then seen hanging out with Fabien at a local Bean Machine coffee shop and she becomes annoyed with his impolite behavior and allows Michael to hit him in the face with a laptop. Michael then agrees to arrange a therapy session with Dr. Isiah Friedlander, bringing along Jimmy and Tracey. During the session, Michael and Amanda argued with each other, in hopes of clearing up the situations that would ultimately keep their marriage in ruins. Amanda and the kids move back in with Michael as the two love birds experiences during the events of the story brought them closer together and they appear to be more prepared to deal with their personal problems instead of fighting with each other. After a few in game days or so have past, the couple's love for each other begins to grow back to its original form. Certain random switch ups with Michael involving Amanda will also be altered: For example, whereas in the past, when dropping Amanda off at a mall or something of the sort, they would spout rude words at each other, they now kindly give each other goodbyes. Another example would be Michael getting out of bed after a sexual night with Amanda, to which she'll even smack him on his buttocks as he leaves the room.
- Jimmy De Santa - Jimmy's relationship with his father is rocky as well and even though Michael is far from perfect, he loves his son but does not know how to display it. His son is not very moral either as he often takes drugs and attempted to sell his father's boat without him knowing, ending with the boat being stolen. They've both have a confused and strained relationship with each other. Michael does try to improve their relationship by spending time with his son, but to no avail as his son lacks any form of respect for his father and even at one point drugs him, takes money from his bank account, and steals his car. However, Jimmy soon regrets his actions and visits his father, saying he does love him and promises to get a job and not be a lazy, pot-smoking, video game addict, which can be seen in-game. The relationship with his father seems to improve after the mission Reuniting the Family, clearly shown in the cutscenes when switching characters to Michael. Examples of this are both of them arriving home from a bicycle ride or both playing video games at Jimmy's room, with Michael always losing.
- Tracey De Santa - Michael's relationship with his daughter is also said to be frail. Despite this, Michael does love his daughter but is often angry at Tracey's loose behavior and social life such as her hanging out with drug dealers and porn stars, and embarrasses her by interrupting her audition for " Fame or Shame " by chasing Lazlow out of the building for performing a sexual pose on her. Once Tracey leaves her father, she gives him a phone call, claiming that he needs help. Like Jimmy however, she continues to grow tiresome of Fabien over the course of the storyline. She'll even email Michael at one point to explain that she misses him. After Michael's family return home, he and Tracey seems to develop a better relationship with her father, which started improving once Michael humiliates Lazlow in the tattoo parlor and demands that Lazlow puts Tracey on "Fame or Shame" by doing whatever she wants in the show.
Michael has had a rather difficult time with making friends. The friends that he surrounded himself with in his previous life were, in his words, not the type to associate with since they either ended up dead or in prison. Even after becoming semi-retire he still doesn't have many friends. This is mostly caused by his antisocial personality that keeps him wrapped-up inside his head.
- Trevor Philips - Trevor's relationship with Michael started in 1993, twenty years prior to the events of the game, where he and Trevor were escorting cargo across the border. After the the job goes terrible, Michael convinced Trevor to join him to commit further robberies, seeing as they work well as a team. Thus, they started a long partnership. Michael and Trevor's friendship with one another was fine until Michael met his future wife Amanda, causing their friendship to strain since Trevor and Amanda didn't get along as much. After a heist goes wrong, Michael and Trevor both assumed that one another was dead. It was shown that Michael deeply cared for Trevor yet only wanted him dead because he thought that the latter would end up killing him or his family. After Michael's relapse into crime, Trevor discovers he is alive and comes to the conclusion that he faked his death. Trevor and Michael's friendship becomes strained as Trevor feels betrayed by Michael but both still get on well enough. Their friendship is even further strained when Trevor finds the truth about Michael's survival and Brad's death, leading to a standoff between the two. From this point on, Trevor vowed to kill Michael, but still needed the man alive so they could team up again to pull off one big job. In the Deathwish ending, Michael and Trevor have one last standoff before Franklin explains that both men have two options: kill each other right now, or work together to kill Devin Weston, Steve Haines and the rest of their enemies. Trevor ends up picking the first choice, with the outcome being successful. As the incident comes to an end, it seems that Michael and Trevor have finally managed to rekindle their friendship, with Trevor considering Michael as a friend, albeit a friend that he hates, which Michael manages to accept. After this, while hanging out with each other, either Michael will offer Trevor a part of his share from the big score (which Trevor rejects), and apologizes once again, this time Trevor accepting the apology. The next time they hang out, Trevor will apologize to Michael and says that he understands why he did what he did.
- Franklin Clinton - Franklin meets Michael after the stealing a car from the latter's house, Michael then has Franklin take him to whomever tasked Franklin to steal his son's car. Right from the start, Franklin was impressed with Michael's professional criminality and after his firing from Premium Deluxe Motorsport, he sought out Michael for possible work. After Franklin manages to save Michael's son, he sees much potential in the young man. After Franklin's help with the jewelry store heist, Michael refers to Franklin as the "son I always wanted". Franklin in turn seems to have respect for Michael and is grateful for improving his life and is loyal to him for it. He even helps Michael out with his government issue. After meeting Trevor, Franklin starts to see many arguments between the both. But rather than siding with one of them, Franklin tries to calm the both of them down in hopes that it won't escalate into something more violent and unnecessary. Franklin also notices Michael's personality and will confront him about it at times. If the player chooses to kill Michael, Franklin can be shown to deeply regret his decision, not being able to face his family or Trevor. If the player chooses to kill Trevor, they still remain friends however their friendship is shown to be greatly strained, if the player chooses the Deathwish ending, if Michael and Franklin are hanging out, they'll talk about how they can't believe they pulled it off, and that Franklin is extremely grateful to Michael for the experience. Also, in an e-mail, Michael will tell Franklin that "he's a friend for life".
- Lester Crest - Lester first meets Michael at an unknown period of time and seems to be a mastermind in Michael's robberies many years prior. It was stated by Michael that he wasn't much of a friend towards Lester and after they've encountered one another during the events of the game, Michael decides to make up for that.
- Dave Norton - Years prior to the events of the game. Michael arranged a deal for him to hand over Trevor to the FIB and fake his death so that Dave would gain fame and respect for supposedly "killing" Michael during the North Yankton heist. After the event took place, Dave managed to keep his promise by having Michael and his family move to a luxury mansion in Rockford Hills, Los Santos while in the witness protection program. Michael would also pay Dave hush money once a month, to keep their business deal a secret. Their relationship was fine, up until Michael performed a heist at the Vangelico jewelry store. Michael would then perform several jobs for Dave and his boss, Steve Haines. Dave will admit that even though he was a bank robber, he always did "like" Michael. In the Deathwish ending, Dave will call Michael and tell him that he replaced Haines in his TV show, and then thanks Michael for doing jobs for him, before saying farewell, with the two parting on good terms.
- Solomon Richards - Solomon and Michael are introduced through Devin Weston. Michael is a big fan of the film producer, even doubting at first that Devin could arrange for their meeting. The two get along well. Solomon often recites a quote from one of his movies and Michael easily names which one. He accepts Michael's assistance in the production of the film Meltdown and goes on to name him associate producer.
- Steve Haines - Michael meets Haines during a job to extract Ferdinand Kerimov aka Mr. K from the IAA headquarters. He forces him, Trevor Phillips, and Franklin Clinton into his operations and to torture Mr. K into retrieving information onto assassinating an unspecified target. He also gets the protagonists into performing several heists for him. However, his suspicions for Michael worsens, causing him to become extremely paranoid. He, along with Agent Sanchez, confronts Michael and Agent Norton as he attempts to have them framed and arrested. After an ambush consisting IAA, Merryweather and rival FIB forces, Haines attempts to have Michael killed, along with Trevor and Franklin. Fortunately, he decides to spare him and Franklin. However, he wants Trevor dead and tasked Franklin to kill Trevor. In the "Deathwish" ending, if Franklin chooses Option C, Michael has Trevor kill Steve Haines.
- Devin Weston - Michael meets Devin during a meeting with Steve Haines. He first offers the former a deal of producing a film after a heist. However, Devin soon refuses to pay Michael, along with Trevor and Franklin for their jobs and after Michael accidentally gets his lawyer killed, Devin sends a platoon of Merryweather men to kill his family. However, Michael manages to save his family. This incident leads Devin to hire Franklin to murder Michael. If "Deathwish" is chosen, Trevor kidnaps Devin from his mansion and shoves him inside his own trunk. The three protagonists meet up to taunt a beaten Devin for their victory, before pushing him (with him inside the car trunk) off the cliff into the ocean, killing him.
For the list of Michael De Santa's mission appearances, see Michael De Santa/Appearances.
Dan Houser's description of 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-40's 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 a good kid? A good kid? Why? Does he help the fuckin' poor? No; he sits on his ass all day smokin' dope and jerkin' off while he plays that fucking game." -Michael on Jimmy De Santa.
- "A few weeks ago, I was happily retired, sulking by my swimming pool. And then, my psychotic best friend shows up out of nowhere, to torture me over mistakes I've made, honest mistakes I made over a decade ago!"
- "You can't buy love, so heres a down payment."
- Michael is the initial playable character in GTA V, the second being Trevor and the third being Franklin.
- 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 Grand Theft Auto series to have a spouse and children.
- Being in his mid-late 40's, he is the oldest protagonist in the GTA series.
- The song that plays in the Michael trailer is "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen.
- Ignoring the optional missions involving helping someone in Michael's family can lead to one direct consequence involving Michael losing money for not helping them out.
- If Michael kills a family member at his home (e.g. Amanda), it will kill them, but then some time later that family member will text you and your money will be deducted by $5000, just like when you get Wasted.
- His favourite radio station is Los Santos Rock Radio.
- It is implied in optional dialogue in Marriage Counseling that he had crabs at some point, but got it cleared up.
- Michael's special ability might be a reference to Max Payne, another Rockstar-owned franchise, where the title character possess an ability called Bullet Time, that allow him to slow down time. Both at some point in their lives arrived at their houses only to find out it was under siege by a group of mercenaries while their families hid in horror. Michael even has the same gray suit that Max wears in Max Payne 3. Elements for Michael's ability might also be taken from Rockstar's Red Dead games (which feature a similar ability called Dead Eye) and the adrenaline pills from 3D Universe games.
- The quote that Michael uses in Prologue and The Jewel Store Job, "You forget a thousand things everyday, make sure this is one of them.", is from the Solomon Richards movie Author's Penny Sanatorium, although slightly modified. The original line is "We forget a thousand things everyday, can't we just make this one of them?"
- Michael Townley is a real person under federal witness protection.
- There is also a politician named Michael Townley.
- Wade mentions that there are two people named Michael Townley in Los Santos; one being 83 and one being in kindergarden.
- In a cutscene, Michael revealed that he was a football star in high school. He then claims that his high school football career "didn't work out like the way he planned", possibly pushing him towards a life of crime.
- If you shoot or fire rockets at Michael's house as Trevor Philips or Franklin Clinton, he will text you saying 'stop shooting at my house' or, 'stop firing rockets at my house' If you shoot his house after he texts you, he will call you saying, "Stop shooting up my house!" furiously.
- Michael is the only character to never gain another permanent safehouse. Aside from the point in the story where he briefly lives in Trevor's trailer with him, he never leaves his mansion in Rockford Hills.
- Michael along with Trevor are currently the first protagonists in the GTA series who can become a final boss and must be killed in the finale. However this is if Franklin chooses to kill either of them instead of the "Deathwish" choice.
- Despite his strong love for his family, during the Kill Michael ending, where Michael nearly falls and Franklin catches him, even if Franklin decides to pull him up and save him, Michael will headbutt Franklin and fall to his death, thus committing suicide.
- Michael seems to love watching movies, specifically "classic Vinewood", as he is seen watching one in his house during several cutscenes. In a phone call with Lester during the mission Friend Request, he seems to pride himself as being a "movie guy", according to the comments he makes about his opinion on films. He also can identify the film quotes spoken by Solomon Richards during his missions and phone calls.
- Michael shares his new last name with Vincente de Santa, one of the antagonists of Red Dead Redemption, they also both betray a protagonist, in Vincente's case, John Marston.
- Upon returning to his house, one possible line of dialogue for Michael to shout is "Daddy's back, bitches!", the first line of dialogue in Grand Theft Auto IV.
- On Michael's tombstone in North Yankton it states that he was born in 1965 (making him 48 in 2013) however Trevor, Lester, and his son Jimmy all state that he is 45 years old (meaning he was born in 1968) therefore his exact age is unclear.
- Michael is used the most as the promotional character, as he narrarates all three GTA V official trailers.
- If Michael accesses the in-game website PsychicShoutout and speaks with Ms. Tammy, she will reveal that Amanda has already had sex with the yoga instructor (Fabien LaRouche), the tennis coach (Kyle Chavis) and also a fireman, a plumber, a beach lifeguard, a truck driver, a dustman, a gardener as well as a hipster. Michael will angrily reply that they have an open relationship.
- Michael's signature color is blue, as seen when using his special ability, while using Franklin's car-handling skill, the screen fades green, and while using Trevor's invincibility mode, screen fades orange. This can also be seen with icons on the map e.g. a mission available for Michael will have the icon blue, while for Franklin it is green and for Trevor it will be orange.
- Sometimes when switching to Michael, he can be seen walking past a prostitute, who asks him for pleasure, Michael replies "No thanks, I'm a married man". This is a reference to John Marston, the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption, as Marston also replies negatively to any prostitutes in saloons he visits, being also married man or that his wife will kill him if he accepts. This only happens after the mission Reuniting the Family.
- If Michael accepts the services of a prostitute he may say "I felt something" in a loud voice. This implies that he has erectile dysfunction.
- If you position Michael right to view the inside of his head, there appears to be a small blue chip.
- Michael has the most main mission appearances (not counting optional appearances) of the 3 main protagonists, appearing in 38 of the game's 69 missions as apposed to Franklin's 32 appearances and Trevor's 31 appearances.
- Michael's prologue jacket can be found in any Binco clothing store. There is even a section for a jacket like the one seen in the prologue, though the jackets being sold there do not come in red. Thus, leaving the prologue jacket only obtainable by finishing the game.
- In an IGN article, released two weeks before the release of GTA V, Michael's name was listed as "Michael Mann". This is most likely an error by the editor and it cannot be ruled as a beta name because Michael's full name was revealed by Rockstar Games.
- If the player chooses The Third Way, when hanging out with Trevor, Michael will offer him his cut from The Big Score telling him that he just wants him to be happy, to which Trevor says that he doesn't care about the money and never did. Michael then apologizes to Trevor for the North Yankton betrayal and Trevor accepts his apologies, making this a very emotional moment between the two protagonists.
- A person comments under the film Rum Runner's synopsis on the Classic Vinewood in-game website, under the pseudonym 'michaelds', saying 'I wanted to be Ediie Olson when I was a kid. Just without the handicap fetish'. michaelds is most likely a pseudonym for Michael De Santa.
- Theres a second comment from 'michaelds' under the film The Many Wifes of Alfredo Smith's synopsis, in this one he comments: "This is how movies should be. A plot so tangled that you still don't have a clue what's going on even after watching it five times. Not the dumbed down sickly sweet trash Vinewood pumps out these days".
- It appears that Michael's drink of choice is whiskey as a whiskey bottle is seen in his house, and in Father/Son, when he sits down by the pool he is drinking a glass of whiskey.
- At one point during development of GTA V, Michael's name was Albert De Silva.
- Even though Michael promised Amanda that he wouldn't cheat on her, the player can determinate if Michael will cheat on Amanda or not during the game.
- It seems his design was loosely inspired by the character Neil McCauley from the film Heat, as he's a leader of a team of bank robbers, even wears the same gray suit just like Michael's default outfit. One of the heists is also heavily inspired from one featured in the film. It is possible for Michael to be customized to look like McCauley.
- Michael often uses the quote "The way I see it" in his speeches. It is possibly a reference to Max Payne's infamous speech that starts with the same quote.
- If calling a taxi as any of the characters, only Michael's lips move when talking.
- Michael is somewhat similar to John Marston from Red Dead Redemption. Both once did crimes with a gang, both have families who are taken away from the protagonist (in Michael's case, they leave by choice), both characters end up doing the dirty work of a corrupted lawman, both are betrayed by the main antagonists of their game and both are killed in the game's ending, for Michael's case if Franklin chooses Option B.
- After Isiah Friedlander's death, it is stated on the radio that Michael's name was "Marky De Santo", possibly to hide his identity. Ahron Ward also calls Michael "Mr. De Santo".
- On the Overview page on the Social Club Michael's business card strangely says "Michael Townley" instead of "Michael De Santa". It's also says "entrepreneur", just like Franklin's.