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|“||You forget a thousand things every day, pal. Make sure this is one of them.||„|
|~ Michael's favorite film quote.|
|“||Look, you wake up one day and your legs, they just give, and you just can't run anymore.||„|
|~ Michael to Franklin on why he betrayed Trevor years prior.|
Michael Townley (also known by his alias as Michael De Santa) is one of the three protagonists (alongside Trevor and Franklin) of Grand Theft Auto V. He is a retired bank robber who has a family, including his wife and two children. Even though he is a criminal, he feels sorry for it and wants to have a good life with his family. If anyone ever thinks about killing his family, he will lose it.
Michael was born in the mid-to-late 1960s, possibly in the Midwest, which would explain why he spent some of his earlier criminal career in North Yankton. As a child, he didn't have the advantages his children have and grew up in a poor environment with his parents, where his father drank and hit him. During his time in high school, Michael was an all-state football quarterback. As time moved on, Michael eventually became a criminal, with his first bank job being in the outskirts of Carcer City, in 1988, where he was able to steal $10,000. In the same year however, he had been arrested twice at the age of 20. While in prison, Michael was able to master many skills, sometimes through bizarre events, such as learning how to do tattoos by tattooing his name on his cellmate's buttocks.
As the years went on, Michael met Trevor Philips while robbing someone under a bridge and was able to induce the latter into robbery as well. Both men were hugely successful at their profession. But while the friendship between them was in fine condition, it was later strained as Michael met his future wife, Amanda, who was a stripper at the time. Michael was even able to buy Amanda some breast implants, which would help with her stripping as well as her days as a hooker. This lead to Michael creating his own prostitution racket. While the couples love for one another grew over time, Michael and Amanda married each other while living in a trailer park in the Midwest. As time moved forward, Amanda soon gave birth to their two children, Tracey and Jimmy. Michael, who was able to see that he has a lot more to lose if he was ever killed or imprisoned, grew more cautious over time as a criminal, much to Trevor's annoyance.
At some point in 2004, Michael met FIB agent Dave Norton. Michael struck a deal with Norton to give Trevor up to the FIB and fake his death in the process, in exchange for a cut of his accumulated millions and letting Norton "kill" him in the upcoming bank heist in Ludendorff, North Yankton, making Norton's career as the agent who took down the "Most Wanted Man in America".
The robbery, however, turned out to be a disaster: after Trevor murdered a guard, he, Michael and their accomplice Brad Snider were ambushed by over a dozen police officers ready to arrest or kill them. During the getaway, their driver was killed by pursuing police; Michael took the wheel and drove the crew to the ambush spot he and Norton had agreed on, where he claimed there was an escape chopper waiting. However, things yet again deviated from their plan when Brad was accidentally shot by Norton (later succumbing to his wounds) after he walked in front of Trevor. Michael took the second bullet as planned (although the lack of blood loss implies that he was wearing a bulletproof vest), and acted as if he believed the wound fatal, imploring Trevor to leave him behind. Enraged beyond sense. Trevor proceeded to massacre numerous police officers before barely escaping the ambush (to Michael's chagrin) with his life.
After the incident, Michael Townley was pronounced dead, and true to his word, Dave arranged for Michael to receive a comfortable stipend and a relocation to a large to Los Santos mansion, where he and his family lived under the surname "De Santa" (a longtime alias of Michael's); thus, Michael received an off-the-books way to safely retire from his former criminal life and spend time with his wife and kids in exchange for a monthly five-figure "hush money" payment to Norton in exchange for his silence.