Given the scope and tone of the Grand Theft Auto series, it only makes sense for each entry to be filled to the brim with Easter eggs. It’s a cauldron loaded with boiling, molten pop culture. In the expansive world of Grand Theft Auto V, a vast array of secrets beckon the observant player. Players can find everything from nods to iconic television stalwarts like Breaking Bad to whimsical references to the online culture of Reddit and winks at older games in the Rockstar repertoire.
The developers have intricately threaded a multitude of cultural, literary, and media shout-outs throughout the bustling city of Los Santos. These easter eggs are not just a testament to the developers’ pop culture prowess, but they also serve as delightful surprises, enriching player experiences and deepening their immersion. It further shines the light on Rockstar’s unparalleled attention to detail.
Inside the cable cars traveling up and down Mount Chiliad, players can find a peculiar symbol and cryptic note, suggesting there’s more to the mountain than meets the eye.
Cult of Altruists
Up in the Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness lies the Altruist Camp, home to a cult that believes in the abandonment of all worldly desires. They communicate via Morse code, and decoding their message reveals their unsettling beliefs.
Film / Television References
- ALF: On the in-game website “theinternetisahellhole.com,” there’s a mention about recalling a time sitting in front of the TV as a kid, watching a world “where every kind of problem was solved within an hour.” The site goes on to mention families that were funny and sometimes had pet aliens, a reference to 80s sitcom “classic” ALF.
- Dexter: The corkboard note is an indirect reference to the popular TV show Dexter, which revolves around a serial killer who works for the police department.
- Initial D: The wheel design in Los Santos Customs named “Fujiwara” directly references the main protagonist, Takumi Fujiwara, of the manga and anime series Initial D. His iconic vehicle, a Toyota AE86, and the culture of mountain pass racing are central to the series.
- No Country for Old Men: Players can stumble upon a crime scene in the wilderness that mirrors a memorable sequence from this Coen Brothers film.
- The Shining: The hedge maze at the Kortz Center bears a striking resemblance to the iconic maze in Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece.
- Thelma & Louise: In a heartwarming nod to the classic 1991 film, Thelma & Louise, players can witness an event that mirrors the movie’s iconic ending. Every day, between 7PM and 8PM, near the cliffside in Raton Canyon, the homage plays out.
- The Walking Dead: Naming the deputies Grimes and Kirkman is a clever nod to the main character and creator of the famous zombie comic book and TV series.
- X-Files: The “Accept the Truth” poster in Lester’s house is an unmistakable reference to the popular TV show.
The game’s icy prologue has a subtle surprise. As players cross a bridge, if they peek beneath the icy waters, a frozen extraterrestrial can be spotted—a clear indication of Rockstar’s penchant for the out-of-this-world.
The Ghost of Mount Gordo
An eerie spectacle awaits players on the eastern face of Mount Gordo. Between 23:00 and 0:00, the spectral figure of a woman appears. Below her, one can see the word “Jock” written in blood, alluding to the tragic lore of Jolene Cranley-Evans, believed to have been killed by her husband.
Heart Stopping Artwork
Although more subtle than the actual beating heart inside the Statue of Happiness in GTA IV, there’s a mural in Los Santos that seems to pay tribute to this unsettling secret, showcasing a heart encased in chains.
Hidden Real World Websites
- whokilledLeonoraJohnson.com: This site details the unsolved in-game murder of actress Leonora Johnson.
- epsilonprogram.com: A site for the fictitious Epsilon Program cult. The website holds several clues and mysteries linked to the game’s elaborate side missions.
Impotent Rage Cosplayer
Venture around the Vinewood area, and you might bump into a very angry cosplayer dressed as Impotent Rage, the satirical superhero from the in-game TV show.
Kifflom License Plates
Some cars have “Kifflom” on the license plates, a nod to the Epsilon Program.
L.A. Noire Reference
In the Vespucci Beach area, you can find a neon sign for The Starlet apartment complex, featuring a silhouette strikingly similar to the Black Dahlia, paying tribute to another Rockstar game, L.A. Noire.
After The Wrap Up mission, players can sneak a peek at Martin Madrazo’s files in his house. These papers hint at the nefarious dealings of the criminal mastermind, including ties to other characters in the game.
Max Payne Appearance
In a barber shop, players can give Michael a haircut and beard style making him look strikingly similar to Max Payne from Rockstar’s other famed series, specifically his look in Max Payne 3.
Mimes of Los Santos
In a nod to the street artists of major cities, you can find mime artists performing at Vespucci Beach and Vinewood Boulevard. Watch closely, and you might catch their subtle, humorous animations.
Mysterious Infinity 8
Throughout San Andreas, players can find various written clues associated with the so-called “Infinity 8” killer. These cryptic notes kickstart a fascinating, albeit grim, investigation into the narrative of Merle Abrahams, a serial killer with eight victims.
The Narwhal Bacons at Midnight
On some trash and newspaper box copies of the in-game newspapers, you can see an article title “Narwhal Bacon?”. This is a reference to a popular phrase coined by first-gen Redditors to identify each other in real life.
If you visit Trevor’s trailer during specific times, you can hear Ron’s conspiracy-filled radio show.
Nods to Earlier Games
Grand Theft Auto III
- East of the Del Perro Pier, graffiti states, “Nothing to see here – groove along”, possibly referencing a sign in Grand Theft Auto III.
- Franklin’s Vinewood Hills home has a book called “The Liberty King”, featuring the face of Grand Theft Auto III’s Donald Love. This Easter egg has appeared in previous titles.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
- Original game vehicles sometimes displayed a map of Liberty City.
- Pedestrians sometimes exclaim, “I’m moving to Vice City!” when carjacked.
- BJ Smith from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is remembered with the BJ Smith Recreational Center and BJ’s Market.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Graffiti in Chamberlain Hills reads, “Welcome Back – We missed you last time”, saluting players who’ve returned from San Andreas.
- The Los Santos Country Club’s establishment date is 1992, referencing the timeline of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
- Lester’s house has a book with a picture of protagonist CJ.
- In the mission Derailed, there’s a requirement named “Better than CJ” nodding to the challenging Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mission Wrong Side Of The Tracks.
- On Little Seoul’s streets, one can see an advertisement for the Eris brand of sneakers.
Grand Theft Auto IV
- Niko Bellic – the protagonist of Grand Theft Atuo IV – has a Lifeinvader profile that Michael can stalk. There are several references to his life in Liberty City and some of the decisions he made during the previous game’s storyline.
- The Yellow Jack Inn features trophies referring to the release years of Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansion, as well as Red Dead Redemption
- Newspapers around the map sometimes spotlight Johnny Klebitz from The Lost and Damned with a related headline.
- Part of the Ill-Gotten Gains update introduced a “Yusuf Amir Luxury Finish” skin, referring to Yusuf Amir from The Ballad of Gay Tony.
- The wholesale & retail store in Textile City named Broker, with the skyline of Broker from Grand Theft Auto IV as its logo.
- Movies-within-the-game Capolavoro and Meltdown have scenes that feature familiar locations from Grand Theft Auto IV and also content from Red Dead Redemption.
- Poppy Mitchell, a Vinewood actress that players might remember from Grand Theft Auto IV’s paparazzi missions, can be caught by the LSPD during a high-speed chase. If you manage to catch her, she offers a rather inappropriate bribe attempt.
In the Strawberry area of the game, players can find a graffiti mural that bears a striking resemblance to Nyan Cat, a pixel art cat with a Pop-Tart body flying through space and trailing a rainbow.
On Vinewood Boulevard, you can find a star with the name “Opie Winston.” It’s a nod to the character from the TV show Sons of Anarchy, played by Ryan Hurst. He’s featured on the Los Santos Rock Radio station.
Shooting or launching rockets at one protagonist’s house, sneaking around their house, or stealing a family member’s car can lead to curious/angry calls and texts from the other character.
Red Dead Redemption References
Rockstar pays homage to its cowboy epic in various ways:
- In Franklin’s home, a book titled Red Dead authored by J. Marston is visible.
- A street in Los Santos shares its name with a location in Red Dead Redemption.
- Near Vespucci Beach, you can find action figures resembling characters from Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption.
During the mission Predator, when you use the thermal scope to hunt down the O’Neil brothers, you might spot a peculiar heat signature that’s reminiscent of the elusive Bigfoot. While it disappears upon closer inspection, it’s a delightful nod to the Bigfoot rumors from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
In a less-trafficked part of the Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness, a tree stump seems to voice out “Oh, it’s you!” when players walk past. The cause or meaning behind this remains a fun mystery.
The UFO Sightings
Grand Theft Auto V wouldn’t be a proper Rockstar game without some extraterrestrial involvement. Several UFOs can be spotted across San Andreas:
- Above Mount Chiliad: After achieving 100% game completion, visit the top of Mount Chiliad during stormy weather at 3AM. The player will behold a holographic UFO projection.
- Paleto Bay Wreck: Dive into the deep waters off the northern coast to find an underwater UFO wreck.
- Above Fort Zancudo: A UFO hovers at a high altitude here. Its bottom showcases a light pattern reminiscent of the bunker located below.
- Above Sandy Shores: Another UFO, similar to the Fort Zancudo one but with FIB markings.
Fans of the series Lost might get a jolt of nostalgia. Dive deep off the east coast of San Andreas and you’ll find a hatch emanating a dim light. It mirrors the iconic structure from the series. The hatch opens as well as the TV show ends…it doesn’t.
While exploring the ocean depths, players might stumble upon a massive whale skeleton. A testament to the extensive biodiversity that once roamed the waters of San Andreas.