Franklin Clinton – A Fine Grown Man or A Troubled Child?

Previously we have taken a look at the two GTA 5 protagonists: Michael de Santa (or Michael Townley) played by Ned Luke, and Trevor Phillips played by Steven Ogg. These two characters are no doubt the most popular among GTA 5 characters. But it seems people are forgetting the last member of this infamous trio: Franklin Clinton (played by Shawn Fonteno) although he actually has really intriguing story and personality. Seriously, it would be a shame if we miss such a great member of the trio. Therefore, it’s time to re-visit Grand Theft Auto again and meet our bro Franklin Clinton!

* WARNING: for those who haven’t completed GTA 5 main storyline, SPOILERS AHEAD! *

GTA 5 Protagonists Series:

Table of Content:
1. Who is Franklin Clinton?
The Life of a Troubled Child
No School, Only Gangster
2. Two Sides of Franklin
A Fine Grown Man…
Or A Troubled Child?
3. Final Thought

1. Who is Franklin Clinton?

The Life of a Troubled Child

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Franklin and Lamar (Source: Internet)

Unlike Michael and Trevor, Franklin Clinton was born right in Los Santos, San Andreas in 1988. But just like Michael and Trevor, Franklin has extremely tough life. During his early childhood, Franklin often heard of his parents’ story in which his father always physically abused his mother. Eventually, Franklin’s father left his mother when she was still pregnant. As the results, Franklin did not know his father, nor ever saw him in later time. So what about his mother then?  Unfortunately, his mother was addicted to cocaine which was highly due to her husband’s abuse. Due to such heavy addiction, soon the mother died and left Franklin alone.

After his mother’s death, Franklin moved to his grandparents’ house and here he met Tonya and JB. This was also the time Franklin begun his very first step to the criminal life as he became a street hustler. One of his first jobs was dealing cigarettes; however, he got caught by his grandfather and no doubt his grandpa was extremely mad and chased him around South Los Santos. Soon his life with grandparents did not last long either due to their death. Afterwards, Franklin and his aunt Denise moved to the house on Forum Drive left by the grandparents’ will. This is also the house which Franklin lived in until the early events in Grand Theft Auto 5.

No School, Only Gangster

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Franklin and Lamar’s repossession work (Source: Internet)

During his life with his aunt Denise in Forum Drive, Franklin joined Davis High School and here he met his best friend Lamar and his “future” girlfriend Tanisha. But as you may guess, his school life did not last long when he attacked his teacher and ultimately led to his expulsion from school. So what did Franklin do to continue his life? Criminal life again of course! After the expulsion, Franklin became a gangbanger and drug dealer. He and his gang committed mostly petty crimes like carjacking or small-scale robbery. In 2008, Franklin was arrested and imprisoned. When he was released, he actually decided to leave the gangbanger life and chose to get a “proper job” (but as we already know, this wish of his did not come true).

It was unclear whether Franklin did any job before, but we know that Franklin and Lamar worked for Simeon in his “car dealership” business. Simeon’s business was actually about dealing cars to those who could not afford, while Franklin and Lamar “repossessed” the cars. Around this time, his girlfriend Tanisha broke up with him due to her brother’s death and she did not want to involve with Franklin as long as he still continued his criminal life. This explains why we see Franklin talks about her in really down mood.

Franklin and Lamar continued this repossession work until the start of Grand Theft Auto 5 when Michael caught Franklin and forced him to drive Michael to Simeon’s place. But thanks to this event, Franklin’s criminal life has gone to a new height when he went along with Michael.


2. Two Sides of Franklin

A Fine Grown Man…

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He may not that boring… (Source: Internet)

Frankly speaking, Franklin Clinton is kind of… lacking behind Michael and Trevor. However, that does not mean Franklin lacks interesting personality or backstory comparing to the other two. At first glance, Franklin seems to be the most “stable” guy among the trio. Unlike Michael, Franklin seems to be really calm and he does not easily get mad like Michael. And unlike Trevor, he is not a psychopath.

Franklin is an extremely loyal figure. We do not know how exactly he interacts with strangers, but we can sure that Franklin always cares for people who are close to him. When Franklin lived in his new house and worked with Michael and later Lester, he still helped Lamar despite Lamar being an annoying guy. He also helped Michael with his problems and even gave Michael advices about life, making Franklin and Michael like a son-father relationship (ironically this bond is even stronger than Michael’s real son). In terms with Trevor, at first their relationship was not really good due to Trevor’s despises towards both “new guy” Franklin and “betrayer” Michael. However, later on Franklin and Trevor formed quite a good friendship.

If we only look at Franklin from this perspective, we may see Franklin being a “bland character.” He is like a simple “good guy” towards his friends and he is a capable guy to work with. He looks much more normal (and may be even more polite) than Michael and Trevor, which seems to be boring. But when we progress throughout GTA 5 storyline, Franklin actually has more interesting things than we may think. On the surface, he may look like a “grown man”, yet deep down there is another sadder side of him.

… Or a Troubled Child?

From our perspective, Franklin is still a troubled child even when he looks like a young adult. Why’s that? The problem is: despite his calm and “gentleman” look, he is still only a clueless child. First of all, we will look through various characteristics of Franklin:

Becoming Successful, Why Not?

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Lester hiring Franklin as assassin. (Source: Internet)

Franklin Clinton is extremely obsessed with the thought of being successful and rich, just like every child. Right at the beginning of the game, Franklin clearly shows that he really wants to reach a new height, not just doing petty crimes or doing lousy businesses with Simeon. And lucky for him, his chance to change his life came when he met Michael. Of course becoming successful is the dream for most of us, but how we do it exactly is the problem.

In Franklin’s case, his thirst for succeeds unfortunately led him to many dangerous situations or being used by other people around him. Like many children, Franklin seemed to be eager to get rich and success fast. He quickly accepted any sort of jobs people told him without thinking far and wide. For example, he easily took the assassination job from Lester; despite this is extremely dangerous job for “newbie” like him. Luckily for him though, Lester (and Michael) paid him quite handsomely.

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“I tell you what, my boy, you tell me exactly what you want, and I will very carefully explain to you why it cannot be.” (Source: Internet)

What about his other works? Let say… Simeon, Simeon did pay Franklin. But from Simeon’s perspective, Franklin is simply a capable pawn and even Simeon claimed that Franklin had no future and his only choice was to work for Simeon. This pretty much explained how manipulative Simeon is and how exactly he thinks about Franklin. Again, if not for the encounter with Michael, Franklin probably would never see any brighter future. What about Lamar? Lamar also seems to be short-sighted like Franklin and they often got into dangerous businesses which potentially got them killed. And then there was Stretch who actually pulled Franklin into the criminal life in the first place, which later on led Franklin to prison. And later on, it was discovered that Stretch betrayed both Lamar and Franklin during The Long Stretch and Lamar Down missions.

Can we blame Franklin? Probably? But from our perspective, it is quite understandable when Franklin quickly rushed to success without thinking like that. Let’s remember, Franklin’s action is similar to child who eager to prove themselves and to be success. But a child also lacks experience and knowledge and therefore, he is easily manipulated by people around him. Franklin is also like that; however, let’s remember this is only barely the surface…


Strong Outside, Weak at Heart

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After everything, he is left alone. (Source: Internet)

While being a strong and dangerous gangster on the outside, Franklin is actually much more fragile than we may think. If we pay attention at his actions throughout the game, especially during the switching character scenes, Franklin is extremely lonely and he is just as depressed as Michael but in another way.

Franklin’s loneliness did not clearly show, but there are small hints when we play as him. When we switch between characters to Franklin, we mostly see him alone at his house with his dog Chop. We rarely see him hangout, even with his best friend Lamar. Depends on player’s decision, Franklin may be seen hanging with Michael or Trevor but that’s that. This pretty much tells us how lonely Franklin is. Despite having “friends”, Franklin does not seem to be able to get along well with them. In addition, throughout the game we see his “old friends” like Lamar, his gang, or even his aunt Denise always discriminate Franklin. They always deemed Franklin as “disloyal” despite all of Franklin’s effort to help them.

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Despite being friends, they are not really in good terms. (Source: Internet)

So what does loneliness have anything to do with depression? Ironically, the lonelier a person is, the more depressed he would become. Since a person does not have any friend to talk to, he often falls into the state of overthinking, including self-pitying of himself. This especially matches with Franklin’s life since as we mentioned earlier, he is obsessed with the idea of being rich and success. And his life just got better when he met Michael, yet before that, his life was miserable. He was not successful in anyway. Even during his time with Michael, he still seems to be depressed, blaming himself when his girlfriend Tanisha left him. And he often expresses how lonely he is when he is high when using marijuana. This can partly explain why Franklin easily accepts Michael and Trevor as friends despite they are also insane in their own way.

The final thing (and probably the most absurd thing according to many players) is that Franklin is extremely indecisive. He is mostly seen ordered around by other people like Simeon, rather than deciding for himself. Especially in the final mission, if Franklin kills either Michael or Trevor, he often justifies like it was not his choice. This enrages many players since Franklin is not only indecisive but also irresponsible. Whereas Michael and Trevor honestly admitted that they are bad and they did horrible things.


In The End… Just A Clueless Child

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Adult outside, a child at heart (Source: Rock Star)

Thirst for success, short-sightedness, self-pity, indecisiveness, and loneliness, this is all problems happening to Franklin. And interestingly enough, there is a particular reason for all such issues. Let’s remind us all about Franklin’s past: He did not get to see his father and his mother died due to cocaine addiction when he was extremely young. As the results, the main issue of Franklin is that: he does not have any sort of parents figure to look for.

Why is this important? Well, to explain this question we have to dig into psychological science a little bit, specifically Sigmund Freud’s psychological research on child development. His research is quite complicated but here we would like to simplify it like this: Children develop by looking up to their parents figure and they even want to surpass their parents. Boys always look up to their fathers and want to be just like their father or even surpass him. And of course girls always look up to their mothers and want to be like, or surpass, their mothers. This partly explains why we have days when parents bring their children to their work. This helps the child understanding their work and taking proud of his/her family.

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A man grown up without family. (Source: Rock Star)

Back to Franklin’s story, Franklin did not have any father or mother figure to look up to since they all left him since he was extremely young. Therefore, Franklin could not learn any important experience or knowledge about life like being confident. Franklin has to develop without his parents teaching him and as the results; he has to learn from other people. Unfortunately, the society where he lived could not help him develop. The society where he lived was full of criminals and people who only wanted to abuse or use him for their own benefit. In such a society, how could Franklin expect to learn anything better? How could Franklin learn about individual pride when there was no one he could look up to?

The only thing he could think of was to become successful and rich. But what and how to success or become rich exactly? He had no clue. Without anyone to teach him, he rushed to “succeed” with typical short-sightedness of a child. And for such reason, Franklin was easily influenced by people like Simeon or Stretch since he did not know what was exactly good for him. Furthermore, his indecisiveness exists because people like Simeon mostly tell him what to do, NOT, teach him how to live.

Not only that, we suspect Franklin’s self-pity is partly due to the lack of his parents. Children are often proud of their parents. This pride mark the beginning of the child’s learning about individual pride and value. In reality, there are already cases where a student is bullied simply because his parents were criminals. And in Franklin’s case, no wonder why Franklin suffered from lack of confidence extremely early since his parents left him in extremely young age.


A Thirst For Father Figure

Loneliness does not simply apply to friends around us; it also applies to our own family. In a common family, parents are supposed to be the child’s friends and mentors. Parents do not only need to teach their child, they also need to be friend with the child in order to understand him and ensure a healthy mental life. When the child has problem at school or the society, parents are the final friends for him to return to.

But in case of Franklin, none of that happened. He lived in loneliness nearly his entire childhood. His parents left him in early ages, his grandparents eventually died, and his aunt Denise has always had conflicts with Franklin. What about his friends? From the way we see, Franklin’s gang do provide him a “safe feeling” at first like Lamar. However, soon we see Franklin left the life of petty gangster and what did Lamar and his other friends do? They deemed Franklin as “disloyal” although he is extremely loyal to them. With no one who actually accepts him, Franklin was left alone, which eventually drove him to Michael and Trevor.

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Like father and son (Source: Rock Star)

During the final mission when Franklin asked Trevor to kill Michael, Trevor commented that both Franklin and Michael are perfect with each other. This actually makes sense and the father-son relationship between them also makes sense. Franklin is a boy who lacks father figure and from deep down, he wants to have someone who he can look up to. Michael is a man who has conflicts with his own family, including his son. These two people actually match since each of them has something which the other needs: Franklin wants a father-figure while Michael wants to have experience of a true family. Of course their development depends on how player choose to progress throughout the storyline. But if we consider the Option C ending as canon, we can expect Franklin will finally learn to be a better man.

3. Final Thought

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What do you think about the trio? (Source: Internet)

Overall, once again we have to give applause to GTA 5 writers since they did an extremely great job in portraying all the three main protagonists, including the so-called “boring” Franklin. At first glance, Franklin does not look interesting compared to Michael and Trevor. However, the more we learn about him, the more intriguing his character is. Franklin somehow represents a story of a troubled child, a young man who grown up without parents. He actually has interesting backstory and how it connects to his current personality is truly fascinating for us.

And oh! Don’t forget the man behind Franklin Clinton: Shawn “Solo” Fonteno!

(Source: Golden Era Hip Hop)

And what about you? What do you think about Franklin Clinton? Free free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!

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