Niko Bellic (Serbian: Нико Белић, Niko Belić Russian: Нико Беллич Albanian: Niko Beliç) is the main protagonist of Grand Theft Auto IV. He is 30 years old, and grew up in the Balkan country of Yugoslavia in Eastern Europe, where he fought in the Yugoslav Wars. Michael Hollick (main), Sam Glen, Bas Rutten, Amir Perrets and Mario D’Leon (the main voice/motion capture actor of Luis Fernando Lopez) performs Niko’s motion capture.
Early life and family
It is suggested that Niko was born in Yugoslavia 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. In a conversation with Patrick McReary, Niko reveals that he had a brother who died during the Bosnian war. According to the dialogue in the mission, Taking in the Trash, Niko dreamt of becoming an astronaut when he was a child. In a conversation with Dwayne Forge, Niko says in the place he grew up, they did not 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 Yugoslav Wars, and became a soldier himself as a teenager (The Yugoslav Wars being between 1991 and 1995, this means Niko was only 13-17 years old at the time). Niko says that he was betrayed "ten years ago", making it closer to 1997 or 1998 (although Florian claims that its was "twelve or thirteen years ago" in a phone call after the mission That Special Someone). 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 hometown) 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 been 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
During the game, Niko says he moved to Liberty City because he wanted a new life by living the American Dream, but when he does arrive in Liberty City, he has nothing except Roman. Niko parted ways with Hossan and 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, whom Niko constantly has to worry about due to his gambling habit, and Roman has an indiscreet nature of 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 betrayed, 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. Several of his friends, most notably Roman, urge him to find a new reason to live, and there are many morality choices for Niko to emphasize his trait.
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 has a certain degree of pity for other people, even random strangers, and feels obliged to help others who cannot help themselves. Most missions involve Niko doing jobs for money, particularly one occasion, after meeting a troubled young girl, Marnie Allen; he even gives her some of his own money multiple times to help her out.
Niko almost always refuses alcohol when it is offered to him (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, but this is understandable considering what he has just been through. Niko does however enjoy a drink, but knows the time and place for it. He refuses alcohol outright in instances where he needs to keep a sharp mind, such as during missions.
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 (Age 30)
- Recent immigrant to Liberty City from Eastern Europe
- Appears to be avoiding allegiance to one particular criminal organization.
Naming and language errors
"Niko" means "Nobody" in the Serbian and Bosnian language. The surname "Bellic" would not exist in the Serbian, Bosnian or Croatian languages, as these do not allow consecutive consonants (i.e., 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.
- As Niko is either a protagonist or not a traveling companion in each GTA IV-era game, he's not assigned a favorite radio station. However, he tells Little Jacob that "this city has some incredible music" and that he is a keen reggae fan. It's also supposedly mentioned in the beginning of the game that his favorite is Liberty Rock Radio. He tells Pathos and Patrick McReary that he doesn't really listen to rap music.
- There are rumors that Niko's father's name is Drago Bellic, that he was a general during the Bosnian wars, and was eventually killed in the warfield. However, there has been no official confirmation on this.
- In the opening cutscene 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 appears to be visually inspired by Sasha from the movie Behind Enemy Lines (2001), which takes place in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. Sasha's clothes are even available to buy in the Russian Shop.
- Niko has a scar on his left eyebrow.
- Niko had a childhood crush on a girl from his village, named Mila Tadic. Roman will confirm this during friend activities.
- In artwork and earlier screenshots, Niko had often been seen wearing fingerless gloves. The files still remain in the PC version (confirmed) and can only be used with an in-game Trainer. Obtaining them in the game without modding is impossible. The reason why they have been removed from the final version of the game is unknown, but it is likely due to the fact that they are not very inconspicuous.
- In early beta versions of GTA IV, Niko had slightly thicker hair and sometimes he can be seen with a buzzcut, neither of which appear in GTA IV, but still exists in the game files.
- Niko has accrued the highest canon body count of any other protagonist in the GTA series.
- Niko is regarded by fans and critics as the best GTA character ever created, citing his personality and backstory.
- 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.
- Niko was a speeder and daredevil before he even left his home country, as Roman comments that he is still a crazy driver.
- In a conversation with Manny Escuela during Escuela of the Streets, he claims that he stalked a woman in Europe. It's possible he was being sarcastic, given his annoyance with Manny.
- One of Niko's girlfriends, Alexandra Chilton, frequently reveals on her blog that Niko has a very large penis, comments refer to his "bulging package" and how "well-hung" he is. After Niko sleeps with her for the first time, she writes on her blog that she is to discuss this with her friends, Heidi & Paige. Alex also comments that he can be rough and kinky, including a session where he "bullfrogged" her over a washing machine, which she recorded and spanked her with a frying pan, amongst others. She also writes how she once had to steam clean her whole flat after he left. Alex wonders if all Europeans are like that, which also ties in with Niko's cousin, Roman, and his attitude towards sex, as who is often on the prowl for young college girls.
- It can be noted that without the player's control, Niko will never hit female pedestrians. For example, when Niko carjacks someone, the animation can sometimes see him punch or kick the occupant of the car, but he only does this to male drivers. If the driver is female, Niko will just pull her out of the car and not harm her. Rockstar Games included this so as to fit with the personality that had been created for him. Also, some Random Character missions require Niko to beat up men for assaulting women. The only time Niko hits a female without the player's input is during the two-part mission, I'll Take Her, where he punches and knocks out Gracie Ancelotti in order to stop her behaving eratically when he tries to kidnap her for the McRearys, and later when she is tied up, he slaps her to get her attention for a photo to prove to her father he has her held hostage. This is directly copied in TBOGT by Luis Lopez, when he also hits Gracie to shut her up during Ladies Half Price.
- There is a possible reference to Niko in a competing game, Saints Row. There is a commercial featuring a man named Vlad with an East European accent (Jason Zumwalt, the same voice actor that voices Roman), with hints that he is a human trafficker, and claims he is willing to have the player's family killed.
- GTA IV
- As the protagonist, he appears in every mission.
- 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