- "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
Michael's story centers around how his seemingly idyllic and halcyon lifestyle is brought to a halt as his past demons and morally compromising mistakes come back to haunt him. All the while his midlife crisis pushes him to his ultimate snapping point.
- "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. Like Trevor Philips and Franklin Clinton, Michael had a tough upbringing due to his father being an alcoholic and physically abusing 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 committed his first robbery in the outskirts of Carcer City in 1988, where he managed 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 from bizarre events, such as learning how to do tattoos by tattooing his name on his cellmate's backside. Despite his failures and shortcomings, Michael perfected his criminal skills to the point where he became an expert marksman and efficient leader amongst other things. During this time, he associated himself with Lester Crest, who was an exquisite planner and would assist Michael in planning out heists as well as other tasks.
In 1993, Michael met Trevor Philips while escorting cargo across the border. While waiting on the runway to meet their employers, Trevor sees not one, but two dust trails coming up the road, despite the fact that he was told there would be one person meeting him. As the second guy drives through the gate, he begins to yelling at Michael. Trevor gets close to him and fires off a flare gun into the second mans eye, instantly yet brutally killing him. He and Michael both dump the body into a lake after landing the plane. Trevor stated that going through the turn of events was horrible, as the flare was still burning from the inside of his head as they dropped him off, disgusting to the point that Trevor and Michael threw up after landing the plane since the dead man's stench was still inside the cockpit. After noticing how well they work with each other, Michael brought Trevor along as a partner for various crimes he would commit. 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 and was much more careful - much to Trevor's annoyance, who saw Michael as "soft". A few years later, Trevor met Brad Snider, a fellow robber and future accomplice of Michael and Trevor. Michael and Brad would never show any empathy for each other and would often express distaste or distrust when working together. According to Trevor, Brad planned at one point to cut off Michael and work only with Trevor.
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 supposed "Most Wanted Man in America". The staged robbery, however, turned out to be a disaster after Trevor murdered a guard who held Michael at gunpoint and when Michael, Brad and Trevor 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
- "Why did I move here? I guess it was the weather."
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. He now 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 caused the couple to have multiple affairs with other people and while Amanda shows animosity towards him while spending his money on fashion items and plastic surgery. As a result, Michael goes through a midlife crisis and often visits overpriced professional therapist Isiah Friedlander who doesn't really care about Michael's problems.
Events of GTA V
Nine years have passed since Michael's false death and after another therapy session with Dr. Friedlander, 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 recognizes Michael's modus operandi from the report and goes partially berserk, taking out most of his rivals in Sandy Shores and 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 higly decorated but also highly corrupt FIB agent and Norton's superior, 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 Tahir Javan 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, along with Franklin and Trevor are called upon by Haines and Norton. This time they must rob an armored truck filled with funds that the IAA has received due to drug sales. Haines wants those funds to help support the Bureau. After some short prep time, the heist is executed with some mild resistance. Michael then proceeds to deliver the funds to billionaire Devin Weston, who offers Michael a partnership with his movie idol who happens to be movie producer Solomon Richards. However, he has to steal several rare cars for Weston with Trevor and Franklin. Offered his dream job, Michael eagerly agrees and delivers the cars to Weston. Michael is thrilled to finally meet Richards, who hires him as an assistant. His first job is to convince Ancelotti crime family made man Rocco Pelosi to obey Solomon's wishes for how the actors should behave during the production of Solomon's latest 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. Madrazo, who now views Michael as a friend, requests that he and Trevor shoot down his cousin's airliner, which is carrying some sensitive files Madrazo wants back. Michael does his part by bringing it down with a weapon inside a van, while Trevor manages to kill Javier and takes the incriminating files. After destroying the van, Michael finds out to his horror that due to them being used by Martin to do his dirty bidding while getting stiffed from payment, Trevor has kidnapped Madrazo's wife Patricia. Knowing full and well what Madrazo might do to them if he catches them, Michael agrees to hide out in 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 is plotting to use in a simulated terrorist attack, with the sole purpose of receiving more funds from the US government. 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 who extort money from all the local weed farms and meth labs.
After planning the robbery, Michael and Trevor meet at Trevor's trailer, where they have a short conversation and drink beer. They then leave the trailer and during the way, Trevor receives a call from Franklin, who upon Trevor's request is tailing the remaining O'Neil brothers - inbred, redneck meth dealers, who are vengeful because of Trevor's earlier attack of the O'Neil household, resulting in the deaths of most of the O'Neils and the explosion of their farm. Franklin chases the O'Neils, who crash because of an elk on the road and escape in a forest, located somewhere in the Raton Canyon. Franklin then calls Trevor for air support and eventually, Trevor and Michael come with a helicopter, used in the extraction of Ferdinand Kerimov, out of the IAA building. Using a rifle, fitted with a thermal scope, Michael shoots Walton and Wynn O'Neil dead, but can't get a clear image of O'Neil gang leader Elwood O'Neil, who is hiding behind a rock and firing anti-tank rockets towards the helicopter. With the help of Chop, Franklin locates and kills Elwood, after which he and Chop are picked up by the helicopter and safely return back to Sandy Shores.
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.
After returning to Los Santos, Michael receives an unexpected visit from Trevor in his mansion, who pitches him the plan of busting Brad out of jail. Michael's reluctance to go ahead with the plan leads to a debate, during which Trevor finally realizes that Brad is in fact dead and buried at Michael's grave in North Yankton. He 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, who incorrectly assumed that Michael and Trevor are lovers and had been stalking them out ever since their exile to Sandy Shores. Trevor flees, leaving Michael to fend off the henchmen himself. Although he manages to kill most of Cheng's henchmen, 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 revisits the movie studio to resume working with his idol Solomon Richards. After witnessing Pelosi and his associate Gianni assault Solomon, Michael chases the two and ends up killing both of them. In return, Solomon keeps to his word and makes Michael a credited producer in his upcoming film, much to Michael's overwhelming joy. He leaves a voicemail message on Amanda's phone to try to convince her that he is finally doing something good with his life.
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 turns into a Mexican standoff between Sanchez who is revealed to be working with a rival FIB team (who want to arrest the trio because of the raid), a IAA team led by the U.L. Paper Contact (because of the FIB's constant sabotages) and a Merryweather team (for Michael's involvement in their troubles), Michael, Dave and Steve. The situation quickly goes out of control as Haines is shot in the leg by a FIB operative but manages to escape, killing Sanchez in the process. Dave and Michael manage to fight their way through the Merryweather mercenaries, FIB and IAA agents (Michael has the option to kill the U.L. Paper contact) and escape with the help of Trevor, who removes his vow of killing Michael and wants him in for "the Big Score".
Having had enough of being alone, Michael finally seeks out and reunites with his family. With this and his involvement in Solomon Richard's upcoming film, things were starting to look up, all until Devon Weston announces his intentions to exploit the movie studio's insurance policy by hiding the completed film from the world so he would claim the insurance money, ultimately closing and destroying the studio and building condos on the site. Infuriated upon learning of Weston's intentions, Michael chases the former's assistant to the airport to try and retrieve the film's master copy. During the chase, she is accidentally sucked into a jet engine. Michael retrieves the film, and Solomon arranges a premiere so that it cannot be tampered with any further. At the premiere, Weston unexpectedly shows up and cryptically threatens Michael with Amanda and Tracey's lives because of his interference. After Michael rushes home with Jimmy, he kills the intruders (revealed to be Merryweather mercenaries), 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 t-bones 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, Franklin pushes Michael over the rail, leaving him hanging precariously. Franklin can choose to drop him or have second thoughts and attempt to save 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 at the foundry, then has Trevor and Franklin kill Steve Haines and Wei Cheng, while he kills Stretch, to not implicate Franklin from its effects. Afterwards, he meets Franklin and Trevor, the latter having kidnapped Weston and put him in the trunk of his car, at the foothills of Mount Chiliad. After taunting Weston on their apparent victory, the trio pushes the car off the cliff and into the ocean, killing Weston. Making amends with Trevor, Michael reflects that he is getting too old to continue a life of crime, and drives home with Franklin, agreeing to end his partnership with Franklin and Trevor, but remaining friends with them. (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.
Strangers and Freaks murders
- Blake - Can be killed during the chase in the mission Daddy's Little Girl.
- Freddy Slade - Can be killed during the chase in the mission Daddy's Little Girl.
- U.L. Paper Contact - Can be killed during the shootout at the Kortz Center. (The Wrap Up)
- Isiah Friedlander - Can be killed during Michael's final visit to him.
- Simeon Yetarian - Can be killed during a Random Event.
- Tracey's stalker - Can be killed or spared during the mission Doting Dad.
- 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)
- Trevor Philips - If Franklin chooses to kill Trevor but doesn't shoot him, then Michael will instead during Something Sensible.
Heinous crimes committed by Michael
- The robbery of a cash depot.
- The destruction of the Premium Deluxe Motorsport vehicle dealership.
- The robbery of the Vangelico jewel store.
- The infiltration of the city morgue.
- The robbery of a high-tech device from Merryweather.
- The robbery of the agency funds from an armor truck.
- The theft of two vehicles for Devin Weston.
- The theft of Military hardware.
- The robbery of Blaine County Savings Bank.
- The robbery of a train and its profitable belongings.
- The infiltration of the Humane Labs and Research facility and the robbery of a chemical nerve toxin.
- The infiltration of the FIB's HQ.
- The robbery of four tons of gold bullion from the Union Depository Tower.
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 even himself at many times. 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. During Pack Man Trevor tells Lamar that when he met Michael he was "kinda fat, but strong underneath".
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. 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.
Grand Theft Auto series
Michael is a very muddled person, even confused by his "good and evil" personality.
He spends an uncommon amount of time on the inside of his head, where he can comfortably think or reminisce about certain things or aspects that give him a brief moment of nostalgia from his glory days. Nevertheless, it also constrains him into a world of wistfulness and bewilderment as he ponders at the reason why things aren't going in the direction he planned it would. Michael has an obsession for materialistic appearance and images, making it the main reason for why he dreamt of living out his Vinewood Dream with his family. He claims to Franklin that he has lived a repeated pattern of Chase things, get em', hate em'.
Michael holds a deep-seated amount of self-hatred, due to him wanting to live a life that's a falsehood rather than coming to the conclusion that his troubling mistakes has garnished a great deal of misfortune upon himself, his family, and old friends and associates of his (His deal with the FIB is a prime example). The self-hatred gives him an exceptionally short temper that he doesn't know how to control, 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, Kyle Chavis. He chases Kyle to a mansion and pulls it off a hillside believing that it belonged to him, (however, nearly everyone around Michael (except Franklin), including Chavis himself, knew that the mansion was too expensive for him to afford on his salary). Sarcasm is something that Michael firmly grasps because of the self-hatred, as he doesn't know how to respond to his family or friends properly at times without it. He indicates this in the mission, Paleto Score Setup, where he proclaims that sarcasm is one of the only few things he has left in this world that can't be taken away from him.
Michael's is a highly egotistical and narcissistic person. He'll only be concerned about the issues he's being pulled through, instead of the situations that he constantly puts his family or his friends through and will often get unfairly defensive when someone rightfully criticizes him. A case in point of this wrong doing is shown in one of the many heated arguments he has with his wife, Amanda. At the start of Fame or Shame she castigates him for not giving her any support in raising their children and only wanting to cater to himself by Getting drunk, or you're staring miserably at the clouds, or you're out there doing God only knows what. He responds with the fact that he, Pulled you out of a midwestern trailer park, got you a big mansion in Rockford Hills, and that the only thing she'll have to worry about is What part of your body you wan't to have chopped off or sucked out again. Another instant is in the same mission, where Trevor chides him for letting Tracey humiliate herself on public television the way she did and labeling it as Poor parenting. Michael responds in another unfairly defensive manner, Yeah, thanks for the fucking feedback. It means a lot coming from you. The same goes for Lester and Franklin as well. At the beginning of the Bureau Raid, (Roof Entry), Lester continuously reproaches Michael for his constant bickering about the former managing to still stay calm and collective as their about to pull off one of the most dangerous raids ever. Michael gets so annoyed to the point where he refused to give Lester's cane back to him unless he take back everything he stated previously. Lester does so reluctantly. When Michael tries to pull the same bickering move on Franklin, the latter fires back at him with irritation, leaving Michael to apologize for now noticing how self-absorbed he's been.
Michael is often shown to be a remarkably hypocrite plenty of times; he'll often scold the people around him for their mistakes and habits but isn't willing to call out his own even if it is similar, if not sometimes worse then theirs. At the start of the mission, Daddy's Little Girl, he criticizes Jimmy for slouching all day in front of the TV, playing video games and eating profusely, despite the fact he does almost the exact same thing. He does the same thing towards Trevor, opening judging his will to maim, kill, and steal with ease and pleasure while not showing any signs of remorse. Although he openly claims to his therapist that he does the same thing, he hides it underneath multiple lies, a few of them being that he doesn't enjoy the thrill of the action or that he doesn't hold a plain yet willfully strong addiction to chaos.
The see-through hypocrisy can simultaneously show how easily and massively dishonest he is. Whether or not it's with himself, his family or his friends, Michael displays difficulty when trying to convey the truth. For instance, whenever Trevor brings up a subject involving Brad, Michael will immediately yet vaguely 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. Even after Brad's corpse was shown, Michael would unwittingly lie about his death, instead of coming out with the truth about the staged robbery that took place nine years ago, which causes Trevor to grow irritated and angry. At the end of the mission, Surveying the Score, Franklin questions Michael's past relationship with Trevor to the point where Michael has to steadily ask him to stop, in hopes of covering his tracks and not letting Franklin catch wind of his deal with the FIB nine years ago and quite possibly letting Trevor know in the process.
His judgement calls will also cause negative repercussions. After being green lit by Martin Madrazo, he brushes it off as if it's nothing, stating to Franklin that he's known worst human beings. He then begins to take it back after receiving an astringent blow to his midsection with a baseball, which was deliver by Madrazo himself. He even declares Martin as a terrifying psychopath. With Devin Weston, he wanted no part in Weston's plans to hi-jack several high-end vehicles. That is until Weston promised to arrange a meeting with Michael's idol, Solomon Richards. After this, he makes the choice of keeping Devin in a positive mood in order to make sure that none of his business ventures are ruined, even if that means making Franklin work for Devin continuously without payment.
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 and can be seen showing a large amount of regret due to the decisions he's made, becoming more truthful and open. 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
While living in North Yankton, Michael had a stronger bond with his loved ones and they were able to get along with each other. But after relocating to Los Santos, Michael's obsession with living the Vinewood Dream along with his depression about having to abandon his criminal lifestyle made him neglect and alienate his family, while he himself became egocentric, selfish and conceited. 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 began in a strip club where she was a stripper. The two fell in love with one another, had two children and were eventually married. 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. After catching Michael in bed with another stripper, Amanda began 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 had a screaming match against 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. 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 Tracey but is often angry at her 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. While Trevor viewed Michael as a friend and possibly a spiritual brother who could understand him and his psychotic ways, Michael viewed Trevor as an insane liability with special uses. Their alleged friendship was okay until Michael met his future wife Amanda, causing their friendship to strain since Trevor and Amanda didn't see eye to eye. After the botched heist took place, Michael and Trevor both assumed that one another was dead. After Michael's relapse into crime, Trevor discovers he is alive and comes to the conclusion that he faked his death. Trevor, while still viewing Michael as a friend, starts to treat him with derision as he feels betrayed by Michael but both still get on well enough.
Their friendship is even further strained when Trevor begins to piece together 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, 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 admits that he shouldn't have reacted the way 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 a true friend and 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. He can often be seen sticking up for Lester when he can't defend himself from much stronger people, such as Trevor. However, that won't stop Michael from bullying Lester if he criticizes the former for his hypocrisy.
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. They would occasional defend each other in hostile situations, like what was shown in the mission The Wrap Up. 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 and views him as his idol, 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. This offers more meaning and joy into Michael's life and if he was to call Solomon after the mission Meltdown, he'll declare that working with the film producer was ultimately the best thing to happen to him.
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, more and more suspicion from the Bureau falls on Haines, 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, Trevor kills Steve Haines, while he is shooting an episode of his show at Del Perro Pier.
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 here's a down payment."
- "You forget a thousand things everyday. Make sure this is one of them." - Michael's favourite movie quote.
- "Let's go people!"
- 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. Vinewood Boulevard Radio and Radio Mirror Park may also be his favourite radio stations as they are the default stations, along with Los Santos Rock Radio, for his Tailgater.
- 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.
- Michael's new name, De Santa, might be a reference to Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption in which one of the antagonists was Captain Vincente de Santa of the Mexican Army.
- 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?"
- Throughout the game, Michael displays a contempt for yoga instructors (who he calles "yogis"). Somewhat ironicaly, his voice and motion capture performer Ned Luke is married to a yoga instructor in real life.
- Michael Townley is a real person under federal witness protection. He was a former CIA operative who was involved in the 1976 assassination of Orlander Letelier, a Chilean ambassador.
- Wade mentions that there are two people named Michael Townley in Los Santos; one being 83 and one being in kindergarden.
- Michael is the only one of the three protagonists who does not have his introductory mission named after him. Franklin is introduced in Franklin and Lamar while Trevor is introduced in Mr. Phillips.
- 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.
- Michael can get a number of tattoos that are Irish-themed, implying he is of Irish descent. Even the name "Townley" is of Celtic origin. Michael's green eyes and fondness of Whiskey are also stereotypical Irish traits.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sometimes when switching to Michael after completing the mission Reuniting the Family, he can be seen walking past a prostitute who asks him for pleasure, to which Michael replies "no thanks, I'm a married man". This is very reminiscent of John Marston, the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption, as Marston also replies negatively to any prostitutes in saloons he visits, being also a married man.
- 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.
- When walking, Michael is slightly slower than Franklin or Trevor, this might be due to him being retired and not as active as he used to be. His voice and motion-capture performer Ned Luke even put on 25 pounds to play him more properly.
- Michael's signature color is blue. The reason for this is because it is the favorite color of Ned Luke, Michael's voice and motion-caputre actor. He revealed this in a Twitter post. This is seen when using his special ability by screen fading blue or when zooming out to switch characters, while Franklin's ability fades green and Trevor's ability fades orange.
- The selection of the protagonist's signature colors may also be a reflection of the character's personalities and/or their individual story arcs. Blue is the color of control and negative emotion, reflecting Michael's struggles with managing his psychotic tendencies and his desire to calm down his life. Franklin's is green, the color of education and wealth and Trevor's is orange, the color of madness and the unconventional.
- 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.
- It may have been intentional since the person who directed Heat is Michael Mann, and the game references said movie often.
- 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.
- Despite this, they may still fight over what happened when hanging out afterwards.
- Amanda frequently implies that Michael had a habit of visiting prostitutes, even while still married. Even in the mission Marriage Counseling, Michael may mention to Franklin that he had crabs at one point, much to Franklin's disgust.
- 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 Eddie Olson when I was a kid. Just without the handicap fetish'. "michaelds" is most likely a pseudonym for Michael De Santa.
- There's 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".
- At one point during development of GTA V, Michael's name was Albert De Silva.
- The name may have been a reference to the alleged Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo.
- If calling a taxi as any of the characters, only Michael's lips move when talking.
- 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.
- Michael is the only protagonist who does not permanantly switch or gain another safehouse. Aside from briefly having to stay in Trevor's trailer during their exodus from Los Santos, he always stays in his mansion in Rockford Hills.
- Michael sleeps for the shortest time of the 3 characters. When saving the game as Michael, the game skips ahead 6 hours, Franklin sleeps for 8, while Trevor sleeps for 12.
- Michael's appearance in the game may be based on Robert De Niro's character in the movie Heat as both characters are professional bank robbers, of Irish decent, dealing with a psychopath (Trevor in-game, Waingro in the movie), and are being tailed by law enforcement.
- A clear reference to the movie Heat is seen in the mission Blitz Play, where Michael, Trevor, and Franklin attempt to rob an armored truck by ramming into it with a large tow truck. In the movie, De Niro's character and his crew attempt to rob the armored van under the same circumstances, but a crew member "Waingro", who Trevor is based upon, messes it up by killing the security guards.
- In the living room of Michael's house, there is a picture of a Labrador, implying the family once owned a dog, or some other family member may have owned the dog.
- In Michael's house there is postcard from North Yankton. It is unclear if it is just a reference to the location or if Michael still has family/friends living there and keeps in contact with them.
- According to a phone call with Dr. Friedlander, Michael tried taking behavior medication before the events of the game, but stopped because the dosage was wrong, causing him to "cry and piss all over himself".
- Also in his mansion, there are a couple of pictures of him and a man similar to Hayden Dubose at the golf club. Another photo shows Michael and Amanda with another (possibly) married couple. These could mean that Michael has established some new neighbor friendships but neither of these neighbors are ever encountered physically, although Hayden posts frequenly to Michael's Lifeinvader after certain missions.
- Ironically, if you switch to Michael immediately after The Big Score he will say "Well I never have to see that guy again." If The Time's Come is chosen this is true as only Michael, Franklin and Devin Weston are seen in the storyline after the robbery in this approach.