Big Smoke is one of the most iconic characters in GTA San Andreas; as such, his presence persists for much of the story, from start to finish. He is not your average one-dimensional character, solely playing the part of one of CJ’s closest friends and a Grove Street Families OG. His true nature eventually comes to light as he gives up his friendship and loyalty for power and money.
Today you’ll be taking a good look at Big Smoke as I provide a detailed guide on his life and role in the story of GTA San Andreas.
Big Smoke Overview
Big Smoke is one of the first characters that you’ll be introduced to in GTA San Andreas, and that too, in a memorable way. It’s unforgettable – the iconic scene where Big Smoke bolts with a baseball bat towards CJ, saying the line, “You picked the wrong house fool!”
Yet under the pretense of humor, no one ever knew at that point what Big Smoke was hiding from the Grove Street Families, CJ and us all.
Smoke does his best to seem like a wise-guy straight out of Church! As such, it comes as no surprise to see that his hoarse voice compliments his religious quotes from the Bible. Appearance-wise, Smoke wears a fedora with a pair of glasses and a buttoned-up oversized green shirt while rocking a goatee.
An important detail to note is that he pays homage to the Grove Street Families (or appears to do so) as he wears their uniform colors.
Relations and Background
Melvin Harris appears in San Andreas as a member of the Grove Street Families and is well known by his street name, Big Smoke, due to his self-proclaimed “big-boned” nature.
Early Life with the GSF
Big Smoke is one of the real OG’s of the Grove Street Families and witnessed it get built up from scratch. He was born and raised in Los Santos, Ganton with the main character CJ and his brother Sweet. Other than that, the only mention of Smoke having any family is an unnamed aunt that is deceased.
Big Smoke, due to his history in the Families and being a close family friend, rose through the ranks of Grove Street until he became Sweet’s right-hand man. It’s speculated that Sweet and Big Smoke’s relations got tighter after CJ left for liberty city in 1987 and their mother died.
Despite being a high-ranking member of the Grove Street Families, Big Smoke wanted to rank higher on the index of Fame and Power. He wanted to make his way out of the hood life and make GSF big in the world. However, knowing that Sweet would never support him, he kept it to himself as a personal pursuit.
Ryder joined Big Smoke in his pursuit of power and money and the two secretly defected to the Ballas, proceeding to make top priority deals with the Vagos and the Russian Mafia. It didn’t take long before Smoke rose to the top and became one of the most powerful people in Los Santos.
Under all those layers of fat was just a facade of lies, deceit and manipulation!
Initially, Big Smoke appears as a cheerful, friendly and reckless Grove Street OG in contrast to Carl. For instance, while Sweet scolds Carl for leaving his crew behind to head into Liberty City, Smoke doesn’t show any animosity towards him.
Furthermore, Big Smoke even comforts Carls and encourages him to work for the gang when he finds him grieving the death of his mother. He goes as far as to promising to find the people that are responsible for his mother’s death despite the fact that Big Smoke was involved in the death of Beverly Johnson.
You can find that Big Smoke has a lot of animosity and run-ins with the Los Santos Vagos due to their ups and downs in the drug business, which was kept behind closed doors up until his betrayal. As such, he uses Carl to do his dirty work in dealing with the Vagos, which could indicate that Smoke was manipulating CJ for his own benefit.
Other than that, even after the drug deal with the Russian Mafia went South and Smoke’s life was in jeopardy, once again, Carl had to intervene to save his skin.
A big part of Big Smoke’s personality is his appetite and consequent eating habits. It’s a common sight to see Smoke gobbling down an unhealthy amount of food while the other Families members go off on him about his weight. When they do, though, Smoke always replies that he’s “Big-Boned” and “More Well-Fed” than the rest.
Smoke, taking pride in his body, makes good use of his weight and eating habits as comic relief throughout the game. This becomes especially evident during the Drive-Thru mission where he refuses to shoot the Ballas with the excuse that he’s busy eating. Not only that, but Big Smoke also steals Ryder’s food during the mission.
Big Smoke’s corruption began while CJ was exiled from Los Santos; while CJ sought to start fresh, Smoke became increasingly reclusive and paranoid. This is most evident from the fact that he actively wears body armor in case somebody turns on him and tries to take him out.
To go even farther, Smoke has a whole armada of men protecting him at all times, which can only be explained by assuming he feels he’s always in danger. This assumption gains more weight when the man himself admits that he’s made his fair share of enemies throughout San Andreas.
When Carl comes to settle the score, Smoke asks why he wants to take him down. Furthermore, Smoke also acknowledges that Carl’s got the whole world with him while he has it the other way around, possibly hinting towards some kind of jealousy.
His jealousy is not surprising, given how CJ started fresh and made a name for himself while Smoke drowned in a plethora of problems.
Need to be Remembered
After the showdown towards the end of the story, Big Smoke admits that he feels guilty for his actions and that he got caught up in the money and power. He claims that he didn’t have a say in it as he was manipulated by Tenpenny, who coaxed him with the opportunity “to be remembered”.
It’s quite possible that Tenpenny threatened to end Smoke which explains the deaths of many of the OG GSF members during the funeral mission. Maybe Smoke had a good heart, but the circumstances of his poverty, the need to become big, and the stubbornness of GSF to move up at the cost of their values pushed him over the edge.
Sweet also stated that Smoke was a selfish guy, and he looked at things a little bit differently than the rest of the GSF members. In addition, Sweet was also aware that Big Smoke wanted fame, money and power by any means necessary, but underestimated the lengths he would go to attain them.
Smoke’s selfishness truly revealed itself when Carl offered Smoke to help take out Tenpenny. Instead of taking CJ up on the offer, Smoke dismissed it to pursue his own goals to become an individual that leaves an everlasting impact on society, even at the cost of the whole world, which ultimately led to his demise.
It’s kind of a gray area to declare Smoke as a bad guy as he ever wanted to become famous. There’s a possibility that he wanted to turn a leaf over after sacrificing his loyalty and friends as he wanted to open an orphanage.
Events of GTA San Andreas
Now, let’s take a look at some of the events of San Andreas and where things began to go wrong for the Families.
GSF Loses Influence
The demise of GSF wasn’t pretty. After Carl left for Liberty City, it seemed obvious that Grove Street was losing power as one of their best rankers left the hood life. Smoke also left shortly afterwards and moved to his house in Idlewood, which he claimed he bought with some money his aunt left him in her will.
Difference of Opinion
The Ballas, seeing the deteriorating influence and status of the Grove Street Families, started to make their move to Idlewood. Being opportunities who wanted to move up as well, they started selling drugs to make in GSF’s turf.
Seeing this, Big Smoke asked Sweet to invest and distribute more potent drugs, but Sweet refused to get involved in drugs like crack and cocaine. Sweet believed that it destroyed communities, but Smoke only wanted to see the money rolling in.
Smoke Plans to Move Up
Big Smoke didn’t see any hope in continuing his allegiance with GSF, so he formed a backdoor alliance with the Ballas of all people. Smoke went on to collaborate with the Los Santos Vagos and the Russian Mafia, who always wanted a piece of the pie in San Andreas, seeking a share of his own.
The alliance went ahead and collaborated with the Loco Syndicate, who fueled them with drugs all the way from San Fierro, but who knew that an undercover agent was aware of their activities.
The Green Sabre Incident
You know that Smoke wanted money and power, but you probably didn’t know he was this cold! Smoke convinced Ryder to join his venture, and the both of them decided to kill Sweet via drive-by using a Green Sabre.
However, their sinister plan goes south as Sweet survives the shootout, and instead, they end up killing CJ’s mom. With the blood of CJ’s mom in Smoke’s hands, it’s disturbing to recall the time when he comforted CJ regarding his deceased mother.
Hearing the news of his mother’s demise, CJ comes back home to attend her funeral. Before that, he faces Big Smoke, who immediately accepts him back before he almost whacks his head off with a baseball bat, that is. Sweet, on the other hand, is kind of hostile to CJ’s return as he left GSF for his own pursuits.
Smoke participates in Carl’s mother’s funeral along with Ryder, Sweet and CJ. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the Ballas who ambush them shoot CJ and Sweet but don’t shoot at Ryder and Smoke, which is a hint that they plotted to kill two birds with one stone, CJ and Sweet, right after the funeral.
Smoke Rats Out
In the initial cutscene for the mission Running Dog, CJ approaches Smoke’s home in Idlewood, and he’s met with a surprise. Officer Tenpenny and Officer Pulaski are talking with Big Smoke – not something you see everyday.
As they leave, CJ asks what all of that was, and Smoke responds, stating that they were trying to bother him as always. However, this is another hint of Smoke being upto no good – Smoke was in cahoots with Officer Tenpenny at this time of the story.
The Iconic Line
In the mission Drive-Thru, the gang head to Cluckin Bell to get some food, where Smoke delivers his iconic line:
‘’I’ll have two number 9s, a number 9 large, a number 6 with extra dip, a number 7, two number 45s, one with cheese, and a large soda.’’
Secret Plan to Kill CJ and Sweet
Smoke, being the lard-ass that he is, loves his food. He can’t live without it! So when the gang gets ambushed by the Ballas once again, Smoke refuses to pull out his gun and shoot at the Ballas, stating that he’s busy eating his food.
This was all a ploy to show that he still had his allegiance to the Ballas and wanted to maintain his image by not participating in the shootout.
Smoke pretty much stays under the radar and off the heat throughout most of the missions. Smoke makes an appearance in the introductory scene of Nines and AKs. He helps the gang in Drive-By, and afterwards, Smokes starts handing out his own missions to CJ to get him to do his dirty work.
CJ didn’t lose his groove and was the proper tool to exploit among all the members of the GSF, but who knew CJ would be the one to take him out? As far as the exploitation goes, two of the most notable things Smoke had CJ do for him were getting OG Loc out of Pershing Square Police Station and killing a Vagos member.
For much of the story, CJ serves Smoke’s little one-man army at this point, considering CJ’s got a lot of plot armor handed out to him courtesy of Rockstar. As he manipulated CJ, Smoke made sure to keep up appearances as he helped GSF in the mission of reuniting the Families.
The Truth Is Revealed
Sweet is loyal to GSF but not the smartest of the lot. Sweet tells CJ that he’s going on a little trip to the Mulholland Intersection to gain the upper hand on some Ballas to do some OG Grove Street Business. CJ, on the other hand, gets a call from Cesar, who is Kendl’s boyfriend. I forgot to tell you that Kendl is CJ’s sister, but she rarely makes appearances in the game and serves to tie CJ and Cesar together.
Cesar gets CJ to an alleyway near Verdant Bluffs, where the duo witness both Ryder and Smoke talking with Tenpenny and Pulaski. This takes CJ by surprise, but things got worse as some Ballas are also with them, who pull out the Green Sabre that was, lo and behold, used in the drive-by that Killed Beverly Jonshon, CJ’s mom.
CJ puts two and two together and realizes that Ryder and Smoke were involved in his mother’s death. CJ also infers that Sweet’s in some trouble for the millionth time by now, and thus, heads on over to the Mulholland Intersection, only to uncover the ambush. Here, he finds Sweet injured and proceeds to protecting him from the Ballas before the cops arrive.
Sweet’s taken into a prison hospital with Tenpenny, Pulaski, and Jimmy Hernandez takes CJ to Angel Pine in Whetstone.
GSF Is Dissolved
Things aren’t going all that well for GSF and the Johnson brothers at this point – Sweet is in prison, and CJ is doing dirty work for the authorities.
With both of them out of the picture, Ryder and Big Smoke do the unthinkable and decide to officially disband Grove Street Families. They leave Ganton and all of the GSF territory open to the hands of the Ballas in exchange for wealth and power.
CJ Starts Fresh
Some time goes by and former GSF members start working to supply drugs from a Loco Syndicate Factory in San Fierro. On the opposite end, Caesar catches whiff of this and informs CJ, who works to disrupt the supply chain and the flow of drugs into the city.
Carl and Cesar identify a few men working with Ryder, Jizzy B, T Bone and Toreno, who they investigate with the help of Triad. CJ’s friendship with Wu Zi Mu and the Triad is one of the most interesting storylines that I’ve personally seen in a GTA game and is definitely worth checking out!
CJ starts working for Jizzy B in an attempt to discover more about the operation. After finally gaining his trust and working up the ranks, CJ eventually sabotages and kills JIZZY, T-Bone and Mike Toreno.
Despite the sabotage, Ryder and Smoke keep doing what they do best. Smoke proceeds with his own set of plans and starts a manufacturing plant in the East of Los Santos with police protection. Does he start managing OG Loc’s rap career as well, which is weird that it worked out?
Big Smoke, as OG Loc’s manager, uses the position to present himself as a philanthropist trying to disrupt the sale of narcotics in Los Santos, all the while being the sole supplier at this point. He can be heard on West Coast Talk Radio after Mission Pier 69.
Toreno Is Back, and He’s a Good Guy?
And what do you know, you probably thought Toreno was dead, but in fact, he’s alive. How exactly? Turns out that he used a decoy on his flight. What’s more is that Toreno is one of the good guys now and works to help American Interests.
He releases Sweet from Prison, and the brothers are united once more! CJ and Sweet decide to start from the ground up by claiming the Ganton Territory once again. Their wins are small, but they are hopeful at the end of the day.
GSF has united once again and starts off fresh.
Smoke Is Off the Rails Now
You’d think Smoke is doing pretty well at this point of the story, but you’d be very wrong. Smoke goes through a personality shift due to all the money and power that he has to deal with. As such, he becomes extremely paranoid and stays isolated and reclusive.
He turns a blind eye to the riots that are happening outside in Los Santos, playing video games all day. In summary, Smoke turns out pretty sad towards the end of the game. I blame the crack and the video games, but I guess you gamers know better, right?
End of the Line
Sweet and CJ continue their expansion as they take back Glen Park and Idlewood; it’s practically the end of the line now (no pun intended). Setting their sights on the traitorous Big Smoke, CJ and Sweet take hold of a SWAT Tank in order to break into his drug plant. Carl, wearing god knows what kind of plot armor, shoots his way through an army of Ballas, Vagos, Russians and San Fierro goons.
He meets with Smoke at the top of the factory, playing video games with body armor on, indicating his paranoid nature. Big Smoke pulls out a machine gun for a pistol fight, and Carl wins it using his tank top plot armor. Smoke is almost dead next to a safe full of cash.
It’s a depressing end for Smoke and CJ isn’t happy for the way things ended either.
Smoke is on his deathbed now and feels remorse for his actions. Smoke tells Carl that he got mixed up with the wrong people to get a hold of money and power. Smoke dies while uttering the words that people will remember his name. CJ shows remorse for Smoke, knowing that all he wanted was to become big, but the money and power went to his head.
Question: Does Big Smoke Betray GSF?
Answer: Big Smoke betrayed GSF long ago behind their backs. He’d been working with Tenpenny, tried to kill Sweet and was dealing drugs with the Ballas, Vagos and the Mafia.
Question: Is Big Smoke A Good Guy?
Answer: Big Smoke pretends to be loyal to GSF by putting up the fat, loveable and friendly guy facade that we all knew and loved. Big Smoke was manipulating GSF and CJ for his own gain from the beginning.
Question: How does Big Smoke Die?
Answer: Big Smoke dies at the hands of CJ from 2 bullet wounds through the chest. He dies next to a safe full of money, wanting to be remembered by everyone.
Big Smoke GTA Guide: Conclusion
And that’s pretty much the life of Big Smoke, a big guy who had big dreams and succumbs to a big downfall. At the end of it all, Big Smoke wanted to be remembered, but his memory is tainted due to his crimes and betrayal. Here’s a toast to Big Smoke, a character that made GTA San Andreas one of the most memorable games of the last decade.
That’s pretty much it for this guide! Big Smoke is truly a character that expresses the duality of human nature. He leaves little hints of his betrayal soon before he officially comes out, which enhances the replayability factor of the game.
There are many many more guides lined up that will surely interest you, so make sure to follow Grand Theft Fans for more content! See you later. The same things that make us laugh make us cry.