Pedestrians are non-playable characters that appear in all Grand Theft Auto games. Simply put, they are civilians and residents of the city that the Protagonist is in.
In GTA 3 and Vice City there are cheats which allow the player to play as NPCs since those games have single outfits mechanic; this was scrapped in SA & IV since these games contain buyable clothes, models, and perfect lip syncing, it is very common to crash the game on cutscenes with these mechanics, there a mods that will let you play as NPCs though.
The pedestrians in GTA III to GTA Vice City Stories are always the same, common and repeated. Pedestrians throughout the GTA III era are identifiable due to the repeated clothing and models. However in GTA IV, pedestrians are not the same although the models are repeated, the clothings are different.
Pedestrians come in all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnic groups. Each have their own dialogue, and interact with each other as well as the player. There are no children in any GTA games, however, which is likely due to the controversies that might arise from including them in the game, considering that the player can kill any NPC in the game; the beta version of Grand Theft Auto III had schoolchildren as well as drivable school buses, but were scrapped in the final version. Gang members may also qualify as pedestrians, but feature different behavior by often appearing in groups or in a specific area of the city since their first appearance in Grand Theft Auto 2.
Until GTA III, standard pedestrians were often deprived of details, and as such, few distinctions were made in where certain pedestrians appear and their appearances. From GTA 2 onwards, attempts were made to program gang members to appear in respectable gang turf, and from GTA III onwards, civilians reflect to what city, district, time, and setting the game is in. For example, in a college area, college students are spawned, while a Chinatown may feature people of Chinese ethnicity. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, many civilians are dressed in 80s apparel due to its time period, while the game additionally switches between pedestrians donning swimsuits and those dressed in party attires for day and night in Vice Beach. The player will also never see a homeless person in an affluent area of town, nor would they see a businessman in the country. Also, certain pedestrians, generally, drive certain vehicles. More wealthy civilians typically drive more luxurious cars, and poorer pedestrians typically drive less-appealing vehicles.
Pedestrians can be run over by cars, shot, and beaten up. Many leave money when they die, which can be obtained by the player. Most of the time, if a pedestrian is killed, an ambulance will show up to heal the pedestrian, at which point the pedestrian will simply get up and continue with their business. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and Grand Theft Auto IV, pedestrians and cops can also swim, but only in a limit of times before dying.
Aside from the civilians who accidentally hit you with cars, there are other, much more dangerous pedestrians. Some examples include gang members, that are particularly dangerous as they are always armed and will almost always fight back. Up until GTA IV, they would attack you on sight if you strolled into their turf and you had bad relations with their gang, but in GTA IV they usually leave the player alone outside of missions, unless tempted to attack you. This can happen with the Russian Mafia if you rob the Russian Shop in Broker or with any gang if you attack or provoke a gang member. Taxi drivers and other pedestrians will often respond to carjackings by trying to pull you out and beat you. Some pedestrians will fight back when provoked or call the police. Also to look out for are street criminals who are not common, but have been reported to carjack players, pedestrians, and even police. In GTA IV, sometimes, pedestrians will come to the aid of other pedestrians if the player attacks them, or if the player attacks a female pedestrian, men may come to her aid. Also, pedestrians will sometimes come to the aid of the player if he is being attacked. In certain areas, if the player fires a weapon, a pedestrian may pull a gun and fire at the player in an act of bravery.
List of "note worthy" pedestrians
- Sometimes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a glitch occurs where a pedestrian will not get killed no matter how much punishment is dealt to the them, they simply become invulnerable.
- Sometimes, specifically in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and GTA IV , the dialogue is completely off key. For example pedestrian 1 may ask pedestrian 2, "Have you ever been to France?" and pedestrian 2 would reply "I agree entirely".
- In GTA IV, certain pedestrians (emergency workers) such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, and fire fighters, will attack the player if provoked. Yet unlike any other pedestrian, the LCPD will simply ignore the assault, and fighting back results in a one-star wanted level. This is unusual as LCPD officers normally arrest pedestrians for fighting, however their status as honest emergency personnel may make them exempt from arrest.
- In GTA IV, some male pedestrians have female voices they use for screaming and when in pain, this is somewhat unusual, but most of them won't fight back if attacked. These pedestrian models usually have effeminate mannerisms and styles usually associated with stereotypical homosexuality, so it may be a joke on the part of the developers.
- There have been instances in GTA IV where if there is an injured pedestrian is laying on the ground and has been hurt to the point that they can't get up, another pedestrian may shoot them to death. This is uncommon, however.