Niko Bellic (Serbian: Нико Белић, Niko Belić) is the main protagonist of Grand Theft Auto IV. He is 30 years old and grew up in the Balkan region of Eastern Europe, where he fought in the Yugoslav Wars. Niko's motion capture is performed by Michael Hollick (main), Sam Glen, Bas Rutten, Amir Perrets and Mario D'Leon (the main voice/motion capture actor of Luis Fernando Lopez).
Early life and family
It is suggested that Niko was born in Yugoslavia (though his nationality is made a mystery in the game on purpose) and grew up in a small town in modern-day Serbia, close to his cousin, Roman Bellic. His father was an abusive alcoholic, whom Niko despised; his mother, Milica Bellic, was a long-suffering woman, unhappy that her son grew up in such a harsh place. He also had a brother. According the dialogue in mission Taking in the Trash Niko dreamed to be astronaut when he was a child. In a conversation with Dwayne Forge, Niko says in the place he grew up, they didn't have electricity until he was twelve. In a conversation with Kate McReary, Niko says that he found out his aunt (Roman's mother) was raped and murdered, some time after Roman's departure to the United States; knowing Roman would be even more devastated if he knew the true circumstances of his mother's death, Niko covered up what happened, telling him that she died in a house fire.
Niko grew up in the harsh environment of the Bosnian Wars, and became a soldier himself as a teenager (The Bosnian Wars being between 1991 and 1995, this means Niko was then only 13-17 years old). Niko says that he was betrayed "ten years ago", making it closer to 1997 or 1998. He served as a helicopter pilot and an infantryman during the war, and during the mission Easy Fare, Roman alludes to him driving a tank (although given Roman's lack of first-hand experience, this is not necessarily true).
During the war, Niko both witnessed and committed numerous atrocities, which led to his cynical perspective on life, and a certain degree of regret, depression, and emotional detachment. Eventually, Niko's unit of fifteen men (most of them friends from his home town) were ambushed by enemy forces, and all but three were killed: Darko Brevic, Florian Cravic, and Niko himself. Niko concluded that either Florian or Darko had sold the group out, and he vowed to uncover and kill the culprit, not only to gain revenge, but also to hopefully 'close the book' on the incident, and move on with his life.
Work was hard to come by following the war. Niko's cousin, Roman, had already moved to America to start a new life in Liberty City; Niko spent the next decade working in the European criminal underworld, leading to a brief period of incarceration. After being released from prison, he began working for a human trafficking ring led by Ray Bulgarin; when a boat involved in the operation sank in the Adriatic during a smuggling run into Italy, Niko swam to safety, but everything and everyone else was lost. Bulgarin believed that Niko had intentionally scuttled the ship and stole his money; the gangster's reach was too great within Europe, so Niko joined the merchant navy to escape Bulgarin's influence.
Life in Liberty City
Niko parted ways with the Platypus crew there, partly to reunite with his cousin, and partly to track down Florian Cravic, who had moved to Liberty City after the war. Roman had been boasting of great success in Liberty City, but in truth his assets amounted to a small taxi depot and rundown apartment, and he was saddled with heavy debts due to his gambling habit. Niko would assist Roman in his taxi business, and protect his cousin from the loan sharks who were harassing him. Roman's connections eventually led to Niko taking work with the Russian Mafia, setting in motion the events of the game.
Niko's immigrant status is uncertain, and arouses the suspicion of the LCPD and FIB. Although Niko often protests while fleeing police that he "has [his] papers", Roman says that Niko does not have a visa.
Niko is very protective of his family and loved ones, particularly his cousin Roman, despite Roman's indiscreet nature frequently getting the pair into trouble. He is withdrawn among strangers, but has good manners, and shows a softer side with love interests like Kate McReary and Michelle; that said, the horrors of war, both witnessed and perpetrated by Niko, have given him a great sense of guilt, and an ambivalence about the value of human life — he warns away pursuers and expresses regret over his past violence, but also feels that killing is all that he can do, readily taking on jobs which necessarily involve murder. He has an explosive temper when he is lied to, manipulated, or his loyalty is questioned, but he is also quick to help the defenseless and unfortunate, even those he merely meets in passing; he apparently possesses a sense of idealism which was wounded by his wartime experiences. Unfortunately, such a split attitude leads to hypocrisy — Niko, for example, appears to genuinely sympathize with the McRearys' grief over the demise of one of their brothers, despite having secretly committed that murder himself.
Niko's bitterness at the murder of his friends during the war has consumed him, and he is unable to let it go, taking on several highly dangerous jobs merely to enable his quest for vengeance. He is urged by several of his friends, most notably Roman, to find a new reason to live, but it is only after Niko finally has the opportunity for revenge that the player may choose for him to take it, or let it go.
Niko's businesslike manner usually leads him to behave more maturely and cautiously than his acquaintances, although with acquaintances like Brucie Kibbutz, Bernie Crane and Roman, this is no surprise. He has an apparent distaste for illicit drugs, turning down Little Jacob's offer of marijuana and warning against Packie's cocaine habit; he also finds it distasteful to traffic in cocaine and particularly heroin, although this may be due to the heavy jail sentences they attract as much as any moral qualms. He is skeptical of American mainstream culture, which he sees as shallow, hypocritical and debauched, and has trouble relating to Roman's fascination with the country.
Niko almost always refuses alcohol when being invited (he asks for water in the mission Ivan The Not So Terrible) except for the mission The Holland Play where Playboy X pours him a glass but immediately before taking a sip, Niko changes his mind and puts the glass on a table. There is a scene where Niko does drink a glass of Vodka (on the rocks) in the mission One Last Thing while talking to Jimmy Pegorino. It seems he doesn't want to drink alcohol, because it will impair him when on a mission.
Naming and language errors
"Niko" means "Nobody" in the Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian language. The surname "Bellic" would not exist in the Serbian, Bosnian or Croatian languages, as these do not allow consecutive consonants (ie, the double-L in "Bellic"); "Bellic" is also pronounced with a hard 'c' ("bel-lik") throughout the game — Niko himself uses the incorrect pronunciation when introducing himself to the receptionist at Goldberg, Ligner and Shyster in the mission Final Interview. A proper pronunciation would use a hard 'ch' (as used in-game with the names "Darko Brevic" and "Florian Cravic"); a more authentic rendering of Niko's surname would be Belić. At one point, Florian, speaking in his native Serbian, pronounces the name correctly; "Bellic" may simply be an Anglicized version of "Belić".
The first name "Niko" is distinctively Croatian, rather than Serbian — the Serbian equivalent would be "Nikola". In the mission Final Interview, Tom Goldberg refers to Niko as "Nikolai", although this is an assumption on his part — he begins their interview by saying, "Hello Niko; what's that short for? Nikolai?" Niko does not respond and no one else calls him "Nikolai" in the game.
Niko's voice actor, Michael Hollick, is American, and the accent he assumes for Niko is not a Serbian one; Niko's spoken Serbian is frequently mispronounced or wrongly emphasized.
- The Lost and Damned
- Clean and Serene
- Buyer's Market
- Collector's Item
- Credits (TLAD)
- Knowing Me, Knowing You (Voice only)
- The Ballad of Gay Tony
LCPD Database record
First Name: Niko
Place of Birth: Unknown
Affiliations: Linked to Russian and West Indian Criminals in Broker
Criminal Record: 2008 - Grand Theft Auto
- Recent immigrant to Liberty City from Eastern Europe
- Appears to be avoiding allegiance to one particular criminal organization.
- In the opening cut-scene of The Lost and Damned during the mission Clean and Serene, Niko can be seen in the background roughly brushing past a pedestrian, right before you hear the LCPD report of the motorcyclists wearing no helmets. Oddly, Niko shouldn't even be seen in Alderney, as this contradicts GTA IV; at the time of the mission, Niko is restricted to the boroughs of Bohan, Broker and Dukes.
- Niko may be visually inspired by Sasha from the movie Behind Enemy Lines (2001); Sasha's clothes are even available to buy in the Russian Shop. If Niko wears the Spyde Track Top in navy (see picture above) and orders food from The 69th Street Diner, the cashier will say that Niko looks famous.
- Niko has a scar on his left eyebrow.
- In artwork and earlier screenshots, Niko is often seen wearing fingerless gloves. However, there are no gloves in the actual game. The reason why they were removed from the final version of the game is unknown.
- In early beta versions of GTA IV Niko had slightly thicker hair and sometimes he can be seen with a buzzcut, which doesn't appear in the final GTA IV, but still exists in the game files.
- Niko has accrued the highest body-count of any protagonist in the Grand Theft Auto series.
- Niko is very different than most of the other GTA protagonists. He seems to be the first non-American. Like Claude Speed, he doesn't have any allegiance to any one gang (unlike Carl Johnson with Grove Street, Toni Cipriani with the Leones, etc). Like Victor Vance, he was once in the army and is reluctant to be a criminal. He and Carl Johnson have used explicit language the most.
- Niko, along with Patrick McReary, can be fought and killed in The Ballad Of Gay Tony mission Ladies Half Price. Niko and Packie have a colossal amount of health, and their deaths do not affect the story. .
- Vladimir Glebov calls Niko "Yokel" multiple times in the game. Yokel is a derogatory term for people who grew up in poor countries.
- It is assumed Niko was a speeder and daredevil before he ever even left his home country, as Roman comments that he is still a crazy driver.
- In conversation with Manny Escuela during Escuela of the Streets he claims that he stalked a woman in Europe.