Rockstar Games churns out pure gold with every release. From 2001's Grand Theft Auto III to the more recent Red Dead Redemption 2, one would be hard-pressed to find a single dud in their catalog. One standout feature of their games is their protagonists. As fun and engaging as it is to experience the story through these characters' eyes, most players would never want to actually step in their shoes. Rockstar leading characters live some terribly tragic lives, filled with heartache and betrayal. To find the most tragic ones of them all, the following list will rank the Rockstar Games Protagonists with the saddest existences.
10 Jimmy Hopkins
Jimmy makes it on the list even though his life isn't all that bad. One has to see it from his perspective, however. Hopkins is a teenager starting a new school and has to make new friends. People who remember their teenage years will recall how nerve-wracking it is to transfer schools and start socializing again from square one. Compared to most other protagonists, his life is a cake walk. But for him, the story of Bully is probably the toughest thing he has ever done.
9 Claude Speed
Claude Speed, if that's even his real name, is the silent type. He's more a man of action. These actions are typically psychotic in nature. He has few redeeming qualities, which makes it hard for the player to sympathize when misfortune falls upon him.
The game starts out with a woman betraying him and leaving him to die. Then the Salvatore crime family tries to have him iced. One can't help but feel like he deserves it though, considering how cruel of a human being he is.
8 Vic Vance
Vice City Stories is seen as a highlight of the PSP's catalog. Not only does it successfully bring the GTA experience to the portable system, it also manages to look prettier than the original Vice City. Vic Vance, the player character, is a standout personality in the series. He was the first protagonist in GTA with whom players could really sympathize.
He does bad things throughout the course of the game, but he cares about his family and just wants money to pay for his brother's asthma medication. He gets too wrapped up in the drug game unfortunately, and it results in the death of a woman close to him.
7 CJ Johnson
CJ was out of the game, but a return visit home to bury his mother pulled him back in San Andreas. From there, what turns into an attempt to revive his old gang to its former glory gets infinitely more complicated as old friends betray him and corrupt cops try to control him.
Fortunately, nobody too close to him bites the dust, but they're in danger the whole time and his life is always on the verge of ruin. By the end though, everything is okay.
6 Johnny Klebitz
The playable character from The Lost and Damned doesn't make it on the list because of the events of his DLC campaign, though the heartbreaks and backstabbing is certainly a steaming dish of misfortune. It's what happened afterwards that makes his story so grim.
The GTA IV expansion ends with his future open to numerous possibilities, and the beginning of Trevor's story in GTA V shows where he ended up. After leaving Liberty City, he let a nasty drug habit get the best of him, leading to his ultimate demise at the hands of Trevor.
5 James Earl Cash
At the beginning of Manhunt, James Earl Cash is getting ready to lose his life at the hands of capital punishment. The execution was a ruse however, and he is later forced to slaughter his way through gangs to please a snuff film director. The worst thing to happen to him during the course of the game is losing his entire family to the sadistic director. Cash had done heinous things prior to the events of the game, but his family wasn't involved in any of that. The protagonist probably deserved punishment, but nobody deserves to lose their family.
4 Niko Bellic
Niko Bellic came to Liberty City to run away from his past and start a new life. Despite his best efforts, ghosts kept showing up to haunt him. He doesn't hide or deny the terrible acts he committed during his time as a soldier or his work for organized crime afterwards, but he wanted to make an honest life in the fictional American city. Not only do past acquaintances come to give him trouble, but it ends up hurting those around him. A loved one always dies by the end of the game, and the player's choice determines which one bites it.
3 Arthur Morgan
Few lived easygoing lives in the Old West, but Arthur Morgan's upbringing was particularly troubled. He lost both of his parents at a young age before falling in with Dutch van der Linde's gang. Dutch was like a father to him, but all of that slowly unravels during the course of Red Dead Redemption 2.
The gang he called family comes apart and on top of that, Morgan is given a fatal diagnosis that cut his time on Earth short. He does the best with what little time he has left, but it's so sad that he turned his life around just as an illness was leading him to death.
2 John Marston
John Marston got out of the outlaw lifestyle with his body intact. Not only that, but he had a loving family and a house. However, the world doesn't let someone have an honest life after they've spent their youth robbing banks and trains.
The Pinkertons kidnapped his family to blackmail him into chasing down his former associates. John does what's required of him, but the agency reneges on their promise, gunning him down on his property as his family runs away.
1 Max Payne
With a name like Max Payne, one can bet his life is going to be miserable. The character Rockstar inherited from Remedy, who are currently gearing up to release Control, starts off his first game losing his wife and infant child to a violent home invasion. In Max Payne 2, he loses another woman with whom he has fallen in love. By the time Max Payne 3 rolls around, he is a hopeless alcoholic, and his addiction to the drink causes him to lose focus during his security job, leading to fatal results. By the end of his third game, he is still filled with rage. Here's hoping his story someday continues, so that maybe he can get some peace.