Carl Johnson

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Carl Johnson
[[Image::File:CarlJohnson-GTASA.png| ]]
Appearances [[Appearance::Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas]]
Full Name Carl Johnson
Aliases CJ
Gender Gender::Male
Place of Birth Ganton, Los Santos
Nationality [[African-American|African-American]][[Nationality::African-American| ]]
Home Johnson House, Los Santos
Family Beverly Johnson (mother, deceased)
Sean Johnson (brother)
Kendl Johnson (sister)
Brian Johnson (brother, deceased)
Main Affiliations Grove Street Families
Frank Tenpenny
Mike Toreno
Wu Zi Mu
San Fierro Triads
Leone Family
The Truth
Varrios Los Aztecas
Vehicles Low-Ride Savanna (Gift)
Off Road ZR-350 (Prize)
Beige Broadway (Gift)
Stolen Hydra
Stolen Jetpack
Businesses Doherty Garage
Four Dragons Casino
Wang Cars
Zero RC
Voiced by Young Maylay

Carl "CJ" Johnson is the protagonist in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.



Carl "CJ" Johnson was born in Los Santos, San Andreas, to mother Beverly Johnson. He would have been born before 1969 (assuming he was 18 or older in 1987, able to live on his own in another city). He is Beverly's second child, the first being Sean (aka Sweet), then Carl, followed very soon after by Kendl and finally Brian. Sweet recalls that CJ was born in the Johnson House, the family's childhood and current home. Old Reece, a family friend, recalls memories of CJ's father (though Reece's sanity is in question), though CJ tells Joey Leone that he never knew his father, and Sweet was man of the house. Another one of CJ's memories is swimming off the coast of the Santa Maria, having a condom get stuck to his face, and has since then been reasonably afraid to swim. The Johnson siblings, along with Melvin (aka Big Smoke) and Lance (aka Ryder), grew up on the same cul-de-sac and were childhood friends. CJ recalls Ryder dealing drugs since he was ten.

Teenage years in gang lifestyle

Sweet became the leader of the Grove Street Families, which introduced him, CJ and even Brian into gang life. During this period, Grove Street Families were at the height of their power when Frank Tenpenny first pressured them, the corrupt police officer of C.R.A.S.H.. It's likely that officer Eddie Pulaski was also serving with Tenpenny at this time. In 1987, the gang was been shaken by the death of young Brian. Sweet laments that Carl "let Brian die" and did not call for help, causing Carl to leave for Liberty City in that same year. He was no longer been considered a member of Grove Street, and would later have to earn his way back into the gang. Big Smoke says that CJ was more muscular in these days, and that "the east coast got you all thinned out".

Adult life in Liberty City

In Liberty City, he had the opportunity of working with Don Salvatore Leone's son, Joey Leone in the car theft business, and is once seen mugging a passer-by on the streets in Liberty City. In 1992, after five years, Sweet calls Carl on his cell phone to tell him his mother was been killed in a drive-by shooting (calling only minutes after it happened). Carl returns to Los Santos for the funeral, with the partial consideration of staying there long-term.

GTA San Andreas

Return to his gang in Los Santos

As soon as Carl is in Los Santos, he is immediately confronted by members of C.R.A.S.H., who explain to him that either he will work for them, or they will frame him for killing officer Pendelbury, who they actually killed themselves for threatening to expose their corruption. CJ finally meets with his siblings and friends of Grove Street Families, who explain that they lost much of their power since the last five years - a result of the growing crack cocaine trend and, though Sweet doesn't admit it, didn't have as much personal strength as a leader without CJ home (Interestingly, CJ's appearance at the beginning of the game is similar to Chris Tucker's character in the film "Money Talks"). Carl and Sweet work furiously to successfully bring the gang back to power, CJ regaining his brother's respect in the process. This included reuniting with Seville and Temple families, as well as Aztecas leader Cesar Vialpando (who, although a rival of Sweet’s at the time, began a loving relationship with Kendl). CJ also helped OG Loc, another neighborhood friend, albeit a highly laughable "poser" who aspired to be a rapper (ruining rap superstar Madd Dogg's career in the process, and changing the music industry). The gang is at the second height of its power until Cesar reveals to CJ that Ryder and Big Smoke have betrayed the gang and Tenpenny killed CJ's mom. CJ then must immediately rush to a gang war and rescue a heavily wounded Sweet until both of them are been arrested (by C.R.A.S.H.).

Grove and Aztecas fall, which results in total domination of Los Santos by the Ballas and Vagos, led by Big Smoke (Cesar later explains the loss of gang loyalty and that Ballas, Vagos and former Groves alike all work for Smoke, saying "this shit is bigger than any gang, ese"). OG Loc also becomes rich and famous, with Big Smoke acting as his manager as a means to launder his money.

New life in San Fierro and Las Venturas

C.R.A.S.H. abandons CJ in rural Whetstone to eliminate a witness against them. It is slowly been revealed that they are being tried in court over their corruption (in a case that is quickly building in media attention). Cesar connects CJ to his (mentally unstable) cousin Catalina. Tenpenny introduces CJ to The Truth, who is supplying Tenpenny and CJ with tons of weed to frame a D.A. and enemy of Tenpenny's. Tenpenny demands that CJ pay for the shipment, which forces him to return to work with Catalina, who now has an obsessive crush on him. CJ meets Triad leader Wu Zi Mu "Woozie" during a street race. Catalina finds him at the race and feels neglected and enraged at CJ, also proclaiming that she has a new boyfriend, Claude. CJ defeats Claude in a street race, gaining the deed to Claude's run down garage

Carl leaves for San Fierro with Truth and Tenpenny's marijuana (despite Tenpenny betraying The Truth). They meet Cesar and Kendl at the garage in Doherty, San Fierro. CJ is angry and believes that the garage is useless. Kendl explains to CJ that the property is a great opportunity, and through Truth he hires Dwaine, Jethro and Zero to work in the garage. CJ meets with Woozie in San Fierro and the two quickly become strong allies, collaborating to take down each other's enemies - CJ targeting the Loco Syndicate (Big Smoke's suppliers) and Woozie's rivals the Da Nang Boys. CJ infiltrates and eventually kills all the chief members - Jizzy B, T-Bone Mendez, Mike Toreno (as it would seem) and even Ryder from his old gang.

The garage (now an illegal car shop) as well as renting out property, has now made CJ a millionaire. He receives an anonymous phone call to go to a mysterious ranch. It is eventually revealed to be an alive-and-well Mike Toreno, who is a government agent and is recruiting CJ's help in exchange for releasing Sweet from a supposedly permanent life sentence. Although it is a well-kept secret from all his friends, Truth finds CJ at Toreno's place of operation and tells CJ that Toreno can't be trusted. He continues to recruit CJ's help in stealing a jetpack from Area 69, which is needed for Truth's main goal of stealing mysterious, all-important green goo.

Woozie invites CJ to the Triad's extremely glamorous Four Dragons Casino in Las Venturas. Upon arrival, Woozie gives CJ in the casino, "in exchange for some help setting it up". They are faced with aggressive competition from Mafia-run Caligula's Palace and as revenge, spend weeks and weeks planning an extremely elaborate heist of Caligula's. This dually involves CJ infiltrating Caligula's inner circle of management (by chance of Truth's association with music industry men Kent Paul and Maccer) to work with manager Ken "Rosie" Rosenberg and even don Salvatore Leone (CJ helps Rosie, Paul and Maccer fake their deaths to escape Salvatore's rage). During this time period, C.R.A.S.H. extracts the last of CJ's labor before they try to kill CJ (and their own Jimmy Hernandez for snitching on him), CJ killing Eddie Pulaski and escaping alive. CJ also, by chance, sees Madd Dogg attempting suicide and saves his life, partially out of guilt for ruining his career.

Return to Los Santos and revenge

His ongoing vendetta on Tenpenny and Big Smoke, finalized by Madd Dogg having to sell his mansion to drug lord Big Poppa, prompts CJ to return to Los Santos, taking back the rapper's mansion by force. While recording Madd Dogg's new album, Toreno gives CJ the last of his work (despite CJ's extreme frustration at first) before Sweet is released from prison.

Sweet is disgusted at CJ for his new millionaire's lifestyle, and having forgotten all about helping Grove Street. Sweet immediately takes Carl to begin their task of reclaiming all of their turf. As the gang returns to power, he finds time to get back Madd Dogg's rhyme book from OG Loc, repairing Madd Dogg's career as well as being another strike to Big Smoke. In the case against Tenpenny, it's shown on the news that he would walk free, and only minutes after there were citywide riots. During the confusion, Groves Street Families take almost half of the city's turf in order to get information about Big Smoke, CJ personally kills Big Smoke (to earn Sweet's respect), and Tenpenny also dies after crashing his firetruck off the bridge above Grove Street.

At a celebration at the Johnson house, Madd Dogg announces "our first gold record" to CJ and Rosenberg. Later in the night, Sweet insists on making Grove Street a priority, Kendl suggests going back to Las Venturas with Woozy, but Carl's only reply was that he is "fitting to hit the block, see what's happening".

After GTA San Andreas

At the very end of the game, CJ is a young multi-millionaire. His assets and business interests include Grove Street gang and Madd Dogg's contract in Los Santos, a car garage and several other properties in San Fierro, and shares in Four Dragons casino in Las Venturas. He even still has the government's $60 million jetpack.

An Easter Egg in Grand Theft Auto IV suggests that CJ possibly died after 1992. However, a reference of his death is never directly been made. Either way, this is not been considered canon for the GTA III Era.

Murders committed

  • Freddy (Killed by CJ and OG Loc after a bike chase for stealing Loc's "rhymes")
  • Alan Crawford (Killed on OG Loc's orders in order to sabotage Madd Dogg's career)
  • Little Weasel (Killed for betraying the Grove Street Families and joining the Ballas)
  • Kane (Killed on Sweet's orders to deal damage to the Ballas)
  • Jizzy B. (Killed in order to begin disbanding the Loco Syndicate and to obtain the location of the Syndicate's next drug deal)
  • T-Bone Mendez (Killed with the help of Cesar Vialpando to disband the Loco Syndicate)
  • Ryder (Killed for betraying the Grove Street Families)
  • The Snakehead (Killed on orders from Wu Zi Mu to weaken the Da Nang Boys)
  • Benny (Killed in order to get access to Millie Perkins' Home)
  • Eddie Pulaski (Killed for arranging the assassination of CJ's mother)
  • Big Poppa (Killed in order to recover Madd Dogg's mansion)
  • Big Smoke (Killed for betraying the Grove Street Families)

Optional murders

  • Millie Perkins - Can be killed to gain quicker access to her keycard to rob Caligula's Casino.

Deleted murders

  • Officer Carver - Would be killed for attempting to have Poncho arrested and make him talk.
  • Marco Forelli - Was going to be the mobster who CJ kills in Saint Marks but due to deleted audio, his name is never mentioned in the final game.


CJ is markedly different from the previous playable characters in the Grand Theft Auto series. While Claude and Tommy Vercetti are both depicted as completely heartless and feeling no regret for all of the people that they kill, CJ is depicted as having a considerably less violent personality, occasionally giving his victims a chance to redeem themselves. An example is his failed attempt at convincing Eddie Pulaski to see that he was no more than Tenpenny's pawn. Furthermore, CJ displays genuine remorse for having to kill fellow Grove Street friends Ryder and Big Smoke, who he considered close friends. However, CJ still has no problem with killing members of other gangs, and willfully slaughters any that get in his way of reclaiming Grove Street Families turf or try to sabotage his businesses.


CJ was voiced by Chris Bellard, known as Young Maylay. Rumors circulated the internet for a while that either Dave Chappelle or 50 Cent were supposed to voice CJ, but these were most likely just wishful thoughts on the part of their fans.


  • Carl is the most customizable character in a GTA game to date, featuring clothes, tattoos, and hairstyles and the ability to change his physical appearance such as make him fat or strong.
  • Carl Johnson is extremely anti-narcotic. He repeatedly refuses to take place in drug deals, and when a crack dealer tries to sell cocaine to him, CJ will always respond negatively. In addition, he dislikes Ryder because he is often under the influence of drugs. The only time CJ works for a drug deal is in the mission Outrider, when he makes sure a van reaches its destination un-damaged (the van is delivering some drugs to a crack factory in Doherty, San Fierro). Although he does this mission in order to gain the trust of the heads of the Loco Syndicate, and then kill them, because they are providing Big Smoke and the Ballas with drugs.