Throughout my many playthroughs of Grand Theft Auto 5, I have gotten very familiar with all of the side characters in the game. My tendency to replay this game comes from a combination of my love for these characters and my need for a GTA fix while waiting for GTA 6.
In my opinion, a game is made whole by the character who surrounds the player characters, the people who give you the drive or need to complete the tasks the game wants to do for you. After all, if you don’t have good secondary characters, the motivation for your character is non-existent, and the game will ultimately fall flat as it struggles to connect with its audience.
Jimmy De Santa is, in my opinion, one of the best characters in any GTA game to date. While this may be a controversial opinion, I really do stand by it. I think of Jimmy as the Yin to Michael’s Yang, the perfect balance and slice of reality that Michael and the player needs to remind themselves that Michael is, above all else, a family man with all the stress and responsibilities that comes along with that.
I also think that he plays the role of a spoiled Hollywood or Los Santos rich kid perfectly, representing just how different the environment is that Michael has moved to, especially when one compares Jimmy to people from Michaels’s old life, such as Trevor Phillips.
So, with all this in mind, why don’t we take a look at Jimmy De Santa and his role within GTA 5, focusing specifically on his background and character before, during, and after the events of GTA 5? Let’s go!
Jimmy De Santa Background
Jimmy is one of those people who have experienced both the highs and lows of life. He was born in 1993 to parents Michael and Amanda Townley and is the younger brother of Tracey Townley.
When he was born, his family lived on the breadline and, therefore, existed from paycheck to paycheck, depending on minimum wage jobs and the potential of Michaels’s career in robbing banks. However, considering that the family lived in a trailer park until the events at the start of GTA 5, he was not that great at his chosen field, especially considering that the one minorly successful/profitable bank job of his life ended up with his family in witness protection.
As mentioned, Jimmy’s father, Michael, eventually ended up in fear for his life for one reason or another and, therefore, decided enough was enough and that he had to act for his and his family’s safety. So, working with the proper authorities, Michael ended up betraying his bank, robbing partners, and informing of their operation at the Ludendorff bank in North Yankton.
As part of his informant deal, Jimmy and the rest of his family were moved to Los Santos under the name of De Santa.
Once the family arrived in Los Santos, Michael and his family were set up with a reasonably nice house by Los Santos standards and a lifestyle befitting someone in their position, featuring all the luxuries of life. During this time, Jimmy became obsessed with his family’s found wealth and quickly became spoiled by the environment, becoming brazen with his entitlement and addicted to video games as all need for him to push himself to succeed was taken away.
Outside of this information we have about Jimmy before the events of GTA 5; we are also aware that he was once quite the basketball star, excelling in the sport as a picture of him playing the sport can be found in the De Santa household.
- Jimmy was born with the last name Townley but was forced to change when his family entered into witness protection while he was still young, changing his last name to De Santa.
- The siblings grew up poor until they were already mostly developed, living in a trailer park until 2004.
- Jimmy and his father have always had a dysfunctional relationship.
Events of GTA 5
When we first boot up GTA 5 and begin to learn more about the home life of the De Santa clan, we quickly learn of the strained relationship between Michael and Jimmy. This relationship differs from all others in GTA 5 involving Michael, as Jimmy appears to be one of the only people brave enough to stand up to the former bank robber.
At the beginning of the game, we also meet Franklin, who is tasked with repossessing a car for his boss from a posh Los Santos home. The player eventually learns that Jimmy De Santa purchased the car in question; therefore, the car’s repossession won’t be as simple as all his previous jobs.
Upon arriving at the De Santa residence, Jimmy is found in his room playing Righteous Slaughter 7, a game he is obsessed with and plays fervently throughout the game. The player can move Franklin almost inside Jimmy’s room without the young man noticing something is wrong, highlighting his privileged and sheltered upbringing in Los Santos.
On the other hand, Michael is waiting for Franklin inside his son’s car, knowing that someone shifty has entered his home. In the end, the car is taken back to the showroom as Jimmy, being the unemployed junky that he is, cannot afford the payments for the massive yellow SUV.
Testing a Father’s Love
After this initial incident with the car and the lengths Michael went to for his son, many GTA 5 players were already beginning to notice just how much Michael cared for his family and the lengths he would go for them.
However, his love for his only son is truly tested when Jimmy attempts to sell his father’s boat to get more money for drugs. Of course, in true Jimmy fashion, his stupid scheme does not go exactly to plan.
When the deal goes sideways, and the criminals decide that it would be easier and more in their interest to simply steal the boat from Jimmy and save their money, the young De Santa proves that he has a little of his father’s daring blood in him by stowing away in the boat head. From here, he calls his father for help and tells him the majority of the story, not even realizing what he tried to do was incredibly wrong and stupid.
Thankfully, Michael was already on the move and accompanied by his new acquaintance Franklin when he received the call so the two could drive immediately to the boat and rescue Jimmy from what was certain death should he be caught hiding in the boat.
I will say, however, that Jimmy did show some level of bravery during this mission as he performed some acrobatic moves between boat and car during a high-speed pursuit, something that only a blundering idiot could do without getting themselves hurt.
After the incident, Jimmy is driven home by Franklin under Michaels’s orders. During this trip, Jimmy does the typical white kid thing of trying to speak to Franklin as if he was also black and part of his culture. This experience, while cringy, is hilarious for the player and Franklin and perfectly sums up Jimmy De Santa’s character.
Breakdown of the Relationship
The relationship between Jimmy and his mother is almost non-existent throughout the game; however, what we do see of the pair is a relationship of coddling and over-protection from Amanda. On the other hand, Michael and Jimmy’s relationship continued along this negative path for some time until everything came to a boiling point during one lazy afternoon in their Los Santos home.
The incident occurred while Michael and Jimmy were home alone, and the father was watching TV in the downstairs living room. Jimmy was upstairs playing his favorite video game and becoming quite irate with the events of said game. Eventually, his aggressive gameplaying became too much for Michael to bear as he stormed up the stairs and destroyed his son’s television in a fit of rage.
This act results in the duo having an argument before Michael calms the situation down and forces his son to go on a bonding bike ride with him. However, Jimmy decided to use this bike ride to annoy his father by letting him catch his sister flirting with a porn producer on his boat.
Their relationship continues to break down over this time until Jimmy ultimately decides to leave home for good. To do this, he decides that he must take Michael out of the equation for a period of time. Therefore, the first idea he comes up with involves drugging Michael secretly to give himself enough time to both steal his car and some of his money before trotting off into the distance.
my drugs his father by slipping him a drink spiked with some anesthetic. This drugging results in Michael becoming insanely high, allowing Jimmy to push him out of his own car into the street during a really bad trip. Jimmy then returns home and tells his mother how his father took drugs around him and then insinuates that she should leave his father.
Eventually, however, Jimmy returns Michaels’s car to him even though he has heavily and horribly modified it with spinning rims and an obnoxious horn. He leaves the car back to his father, saying that despite the modifications, the car is still “an old man’s car,” and he cannot be seen driving it.
- Most of the missions involving Jimmy in GTA 5 involve his father bailing him out of some form of trouble.
- Jimmy also drugged his father and spoiled the relationship between Michael and his mother.
- Without the player’s consent, the game modifies Michaels’s default car because of Jimmy, adding spinning rims and window tints, amongst other modifications.
Thicker Than Water
It is often said that blood is thicker than water. For the most part, I disagree with this statement; however, in Michael De Santa’s case, it is clear that he believes in this sentiment entirely as he forgives Jimmy after he returns home and attempts to reconcile their relationship.
While stumbling over his words, Jimmy reconciles with his father and encourages him to go and get Amanda back as well as his sister. The pair drive to collect their family and end up in a session with Michaels’s therapist, receiving some much-needed family therapy.
Father and son then eventually make up with Michael promising that “It’s going to be better now.”
GTA Online and Jimmy’s Future
After some time away from the franchise, Jimmy reapers in the game’s narrative an entire six years after the events of GTA 5. In the Diamond Casino Heist update, Jimmy can be found working as a regular employee at an arcade, a job he got from Uncle Lester after the old criminal offered him a job in ‘video games.’
Of course, Jimmy had originally believed that the job would be something involving the e-Sports world; however, he refuses to quit and sticks out the horrible job. Jimmy even manages to earn a couple of promotions while working for the arcade, being promoted from floor sweeper to machine technician in a very short time, much to Uncle Lester’s surprise.
Jimmy’s Voice Actor and Origin
While many may suspect Jimmy to have been voiced by the one and only Jonah Hill due to his look and the sound of his voice, instead, the developers over at Rockstar decided to go for Danny Tamberelli to play Michael’s only son.
This would be the biggest role for the veteran voice actor to date. However, unlike in previous jobs, Danny’s appearance was also considered for the role as the successful applicant would also be the model for Jimmy. Therefore, anytime you might think that Jimmy looks like Jonah Hill, remember it’s actually Danny who looks like the world-famous actor.
While many in the GTA community still feel that Jimmy was based off of the character Jonah played in the movie Superbad, the developers over at Rockstar have kept quiet about the matter, neither confirming nor denying any sources of inspiration.
- Jimmy and Michael reunite in order to win back their family. After this, the entire family ends up in therapy with Michael.
- Jimmy is seen again during the Diamond Heist update for GTA Online.
- He works in an arcade after being offered the job by his Uncle, Lester.
Question: What is Jimmy De Santa’s real name?
Answer: While people may assume that Jimmy is a nickname and that the character’s real name is James, this appears not to be the case as there is no mention of the character ever being called James. His last name was originally Townley before being moved into witness protection.
Question: Does Jimmy come back in GTA 5?
Answer: Jimmy comes back into GTA 5 an entire six years after his last appearance in the title during the Diamond Heist update, wherein he works in an arcade as a lowly minimum wage staffer.
Question: Who plays Jimmy De Santa?
Answer: Many people on the internet thought that Jonah Hill played Jimmy due to the likeness of his character to the actor and their voices being somewhat similar. Danny Tamberelli actually plays Jimmy.
So, there you have it, a complete guide to Jimmy De Santa from GTA 5, one of the most annoying yet lovable characters in all of Grand Theft Auto. While many people grew an inherent dislike for this character, I think he was perfect in his role, representing just how Michael had failed as a parent. It also ensured that Michaels’s story arc had an appropriate end as he and his son rectified their relationship in the end, demonstrating how much Michael had changed throughout the main campaign.
With this in mind, I really do hope you enjoyed this guide and that I will see you again soon. Best of luck and happy car thieving!