An officer of the Los Santos Police Department (LSPD), Tenpenny - along with Jimmy Hernandez and Eddie Pulaski (as well as with Ralph Pendelbury temporarily) - make up the individual C.R.A.S.H. (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) unit.
Although both Tenpenny and the C.R.A.S.H. unit claim and appear to be ordinary police officers, Tenpenny and the others that make up the unit are extremely corrupt individuals who use their knowledge of the gangs they are hired to stop to coerce them into surrendering some of their profits and supplies to them, and regularly commit acts of police brutality, making them almost like a gang themselves but with the power of law enforcement behind them.
Tenpenny is voiced by actor Samuel L. Jackson, whom he bears somewhat of a slight resemblance to.
Events of GTA San Andreas
Tenpenny rides with Eddie Pulaski and a third C.R.A.S.H. member. Prior to the game's storyline, the third member is Ralph Pendelbury, whom Tenpenny has killed in The Introduction for cooperating with internal affairs. Just prior to Pendelbury's murder, Tenpenny and Pulaski brief their newest recruit, Jimmy Hernandez, in a scene reminiscent of the film Training Day. They both order Hernandez to pull the trigger on Pendelbury, thereby initiating Hernandez into their distorted view of things.
Relationship with CJ
Tenpenny has known protagonist Carl Johnson at least since Brian Johnson's death, and CJ recognizes Tenpenny and calls him by name from the very beginning of the game. Tenpenny likes to "step on" CJ on a regular basis to remind him of who's in charge. Tenpenny is obviously seen to be a powerful influence on the criminals of Los Santos, even warning CJ that "we can shit on you from such a height, you'll think God himself has crapped on you." He sees CJ as another tool in his dirty dealings. He and Pulaski extort several Grove Street Families members, including Big Smoke and Ryder, but Tenpenny appears to take pleasure in exercising control over CJ specifically. He officially threatens CJ to do his work or he'll frame him for Officer Pendelbury's murder, whom Tenpenny had Hernandez kill merely ten minutes before Carl's return to Los Santos.
While Tenpenny claims he is pitting the gangs against each other to wipe them all out, he is actually allied with the Ballas, who (unlike the GSF) have no reservations against dealing crack cocaine. C.R.A.S.H. lets the Ballas flood the city with drugs, which turns many GSF members into addicts, effectively crushing their gang. Tenpenny also convinces Smoke to betray his gang in return for heading up the drug operation; in turn, Smoke convinces Ryder to defect also. Tenpenny and Pulaski personally oversee the Ballas murder of Carl and Sweet Johnson's mother Beverly Johnson (This is revealed during The Green Sabre). Tenpenny anticipates that her death will bring CJ back to Los Santos, and accosts him less than a block from his home in Ganton and forces the taxi which CJ was passenger in, off with his suitcase and which is probably the main reason why CJ has only one pair of clothes at the start of the game. The C.R.A.S.H. team also plants evidence on him linking him to Pendelbury's death (allowing Tenpenny to exploit CJ into doing whatever he sees fit). He warns CJ not to leave town and dumps him out of the patrol car in Balla territory.
Later, Tenpenny and Pulaski kidnap CJ following a large gang assault beneath the Mulholland Intersection (which ended with Sweet being shot and incarcerated in a prison hospital upstate, and Carl being kidnapped. Clearly, Tenpenny personally ensured that CJ would escape the law). They drive CJ miles away to rural Whetstone and dump him in the woods with orders to kill an FBI witness. He also tells CJ, who now knows of Big Smoke's involvement with C.R.A.S.H., not to kill Big Smoke, or the imprisoned Sweet will be put on a Balla cell block. Tenpenny and Pulaski surface every so often to lean on CJ and usually order him to plant evidence on or kill someone who threatens to expose the true colours of C.R.A.S.H.
With Big Smoke ruling Los Santos as its crack kingpin under C.R.A.S.H.'s control, Tenpenny's reach is expanding. Despite this, the FBI is becoming interested in the wave of drugs crippling the city. CJ finally outlives his usefulness to Tenpenny and Pulaski, who are becoming edgy and less tolerant of loose ends by the time CJ reaches Las Venturas. There they have him acquire an FBI dossier. After this he drives CJ out to the desert, where Tenpenny attacks Hernandez for cooperating with Internal Affairs and orders Carl to dig his own grave. He then leaves CJ and Hernandez for Pulaski to watch so he can "get drunk and get laid", so he is not present to see CJ murder Pulaski.
Upon taking back Madd Dogg's mansion, CJ learns that Tenpenny has been charged with racketeering, corruption, possession and use of narcotics and numerous sexual assaults. However, as all the prosecution's witnesses have either been killed by CJ or otherwise gone missing, Tenpenny is acquitted, which ignites a riot in Los Santos reminiscent of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
- "Come on, assholes. I'll take you all. You're mine! Mine! I run this town! Hey, over here! Hey! Officer down! Come on! HEY! Assholes! You never understood what I did! Fifty of me and this town would be okay. I took the trash out! I DID! And I'd do it all again..."
- ―Tenpenny's last words, in End of the Line.
Tenpenny seeks to escape Los Santos and the ongoing riot by plane (supposedly fleeing San Andreas) with a suitcase full of drug money. Tenpenny emerges just as CJ has killed Big Smoke and tells him he has new recruits in the force who are ready for him to "open their eyes" to his way of thinking. Tenpenny starts a fire in Big Smoke's Crack Palace downstairs, hoping to kill CJ in the blast, then flees in a fire engine. Carl's brother, Sweet, however, hangs on to the fire engine's ladder; CJ catches him in his open-roofed car and continues the chase.
During the final cutscene of the "End of the Line" mission, Tenpenny's fire engine runs off an overpass, where it lands right in the heart of Grove Street. A badly injured Tenpenny crawls out calling for backup. Upon realising nobody is coming, he curses the police force, claiming that with "fifty of me", Los Santos would be saved, before dying from either his injuries or an implied heart attack. CJ and the rest of his crew examine the body to make sure he's finished, but Sweet makes sure no one touches him so officials will blame a traffic accident for his death. Before they walk away from the corpse, The Truth tells CJ that he "beat the system" after he personally had been trying for 30 years. CJ then leans over, points his fingers at Tenpenny's lifeless body and smugly says, "See you around, officer." Tenpenny's corpse is reported on the radio to have been mutilated and stripped by the homeless, before officials found it once the riots had ended.
Frank is a corrupt police officer, and is depicted as a very violent, sadistic and impulsive man. He often used Carl as his "dog". Tenpenny is also quite ruthless and is easily angered if things doesn't go pretty well. He also had helped both Vagos and Ballas to weaken both Aztecas and GSF in order to gain more power and respect from them instead of preventing them from committing more crimes.
Frank Tenpenny appears to have few qualms in abusing people verbally or physically and seems to be fond of practicing brutality on others. Before the final mission, End of the Line, he realized that Carl has "gone away from him" and decided to eliminate him, which shown in the End of the Line, he attempted to kill Carl by using his shotgun but fails to do so.
- GTA San Andreas
- The Introduction
- In the Beginning
- Running Dog
- Wrong Side of the Tracks
- Madd Dogg's Rhymes(Post-mission phone call)
- Burning Desire (Boss)
- Gray Imports (Boss)
- The Green Sabre
- Badlands (Boss/Unseen)
- Body Harvest
- 555 We Tip (Voice/Boss)
- Snail Trail (Boss)
- Misappropriation (Boss)
- Freefall (Post-mission phone call, if Misappropriation is completed)
- High Noon (Boss)
- End of the Line (Death)
- In an article on PC World, Tenpenny was voted as #35 of the top 47 "most diabolical video game villains of all time." In Game Informer, Tenpenny was voted #2 Best Villain.
- Tenpenny, or at least his so-called philosophy may be based on Denzel Washington's character Alonzo Harris in the 2001 movie Training Day. Both cops are corrupt, take innocent cops under their wing, ally themselves with gangs and front a philosophy of overlooking and ignoring small crimes to obtain a bigger reward.
- In Catalyst, Tenpenny states his wife "loves this stuff", talking about the PCP Ryder was cooking. Samuel L. Jackson's wife also was a drug addict in the movie Menace II Society.
- In the 2008 movie Lakeview Terrace, Jackson also plays a corrupt police officer named Abel Turner. It's possible this character was loosely inspired by Tenpenny, who was voiced by Jackson.
- His character might have been inspired by the corrupt black cop from the 1991 film, Boyz N' The Hood.
- In the aftermath of The Green Sabre, Tenpenny tells Carl that his job is to "intimidate those who intimidate others". This is the motto that the LAPD Rampart district (strongly involved in the real-life C.R.A.S.H. scandal) used.
- Tenpenny could be based on a real corrupt LAPD Officer Rafael Perez who was the center of attention of the Rampart C.R.A.S.H. scandal. Another member of the rampart scandal, David Mack, looks similar to Tenpenny.
- He is the main antagonist who makes the most appearances in the 3D Universe, with seventeen mission appearances. He also gives the most missions (seven) to the protagonist.
- The only two missions where Tenpenny is seen without his partner, Eddie Pulaski, are Body Harvest and End Of The Line. The latter is also one of the two only times he appears outside of a cutscene, aside from In the Beginning.
- Tenpenny, along with Jerry Martinez and Steve Haines, are the only three main antagonists in the series that are corrupt law enforcers. Tenpenny being a corrupt police officer, while Martinez is a corrupt soldier and Haines is a corrupt FIB agent.
- Tenpenny is one of two antagonists not to be killed by the protagonist. The other is Miguel from Grand Theft Auto III. However, Miguel is seen as the secondary antagonist and not the main antagonist of his respective game. Which means that Tenpenny is the first and so far only main antagonist not to be killed by the player.
- Tenpenny's artwork and his actual character model slightly differ. In the artwork he appears slightly younger than in his in-game appearance, and he also had numerous tattoos on both of his arms. These tattoos do not appear in-game. He also appears much less muscular in the game. One tattoo partially visible on Tenpenny's left arm in the artwork appears to be the United States Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem. Corrupt LAPD C.R.A.S.H. Officer Rafael Perez, on whom Tenpenny was likely based, was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps prior to joining the LAPD. This also could be Tenpenny's beta appearance.
- He is the only primary antagonist in the GTA series to be a member of the police.
- Most cutscenes with Tenpenny usually have the same Theme Song playing.
- He and Molly Schultz are the only antagonists to die from an accident, as opposed to being killed by someone. Unlike Tenpenny, however, Molly is not the main antagonist in Grand Theft Auto V.
- Tenpenny shares several traits with Edgar Ross, the main antagonist of Red Dead Redemption, another popular Rockstar game. Both are corrupt workers of a law enforcement agency, both blackmail the protagonist into working for them, and both betray the protagonist and attempt to kill them (though strictly speaking Ross succeeded in this goal). The difference is that Edgar Ross had somewhat decent motives such as wanting to eliminate the major gang in the game, whilst Tenpenny didn't, instead endorsing gang violence and actually worked with major gangs, along with amplifying hardships in the poorer areas of Los Santos.