Carl Johnson (1967-present) (often called CJ) is the main protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Carl "CJ" Johnson was born in Los Santos, to Beverly Johnson and an unnamed father. Beverly had four children: Sean, Carl, Kendl, and Brian. Sweet states that Carl was born in the Johnson House, the family's childhood and current home. Old Reece, a family friend, and Ganton's local Barber, recalls memories of Carl's father, although Carl tells Joey Leone that he never knew his father, and that Sweet was the "man" of the house but made his life miserable.
The Johnson siblings, along with Melvin "Big Smoke" Harris and Lance "Ryder" Wilson, grew up on the same cul-de-sac and were childhood friends. CJ recalls Ryder dealing drugs since he was ten. Sweet became the leader of the Grove Street Families and introduced him, CJ, and possibly Brian into the gang life.
Around 1985, the Grove Street Families were at the height of their power when they first became pressured by Frank Tenpenny, a corrupt police officer of C.R.A.S.H. It's likely that Officer Eddie Pulaski was also serving with Tenpenny at this time. The Grove Street Families went into a decline at some point between 1987 and 1992. Sweet laments that Carl "let Brian die", causing Carl to leave for Liberty City in 1987. He was no longer considered a member of Grove Street, and would later have to earn his way back into the gang. Big Smoke also implies that Carl was physically larger during that time, stating that "the east coast got you all thinned out, homes".
Adult life In Liberty CityEdit
In 1987, Carl came to Liberty City and started a new life. He had the opportunity of working with Don Salvatore Leone's son, Joey Leone, in the car theft business, as well as other small-time crimes. In 1992, five years after his departure from Los Santos, Sweet calls CJ to tell him that their mother was killed in a drive-by shooting (calling only minutes after it happened). CJ returns to Los Santos for the funeral, with the partial consideration of staying there long-term.
Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasEdit
As soon as Carl arrives in Los Santos 5 years later age 24, he is confronted by C.R.A.S.H. members Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski, who explain that Carl will do work for them, or they will frame him for killing their fellow officer Ralph Pendelbury. After meeting with Big Smoke at the Johnson house, Carl finally meets with his siblings and friends. Carl quickly learns that the Grove Street Families lost much of their power over the last five years - a result of the growing crack cocaine trend and, though Sweet doesn't admit it, Sweet not having as much personal strength as a leader without CJ home. CJ and Sweet work furiously to successfully bring the gang back to power, with CJ regaining his brother's respect in the process. This included reuniting with the Seville and Temple families, as well as the Aztecas leader Cesar Vialpando (who, although a rival of Sweet's at the time, began a loving relationship with Kendl), and wiping out the Ballas, the sworn enemy of the Grove Street Families. Carl also helped OG Loc, a laughable "poser" who aspired to be a rapper (consequently ruining rap superstar Madd Dogg's career in the process).
The gang is at the second height of its power, and is planning on taking out the rest of the Ballas in an ambush, until Cesar reveals to Carl that Ryder and Big Smoke have betrayed the gang to C.R.A.S.H and the Ballas. Carl rushes to the gunfight, suspecting that Sweet and the gang are walking into a trap, and manages to hold off the Ballas to rescue a heavily-wounded Sweet, until both of them are arrested by C.R.A.S.H.. Grove Street Families and the Varrios Los Aztecas practically disappear, and Big Smoke becomes head of a drug ring and takes over Los Santos. OG Loc also becomes a rich and famous rapper, with Big Smoke acting as his manager as a means to launder his money.
C.R.A.S.H. abandons Carl in rural Whetstone to eliminate a witness against them. It is slowly revealed that they are being tried in court over their corruption, in a case that is quickly building media attention. Cesar connects CJ to his (mentally unstable) cousin, Catalina, and the two form a relationship built on the robberies they commit together. Tenpenny introduces CJ to The Truth, an aging hippie who is supplying Tenpenny with tons of weed to frame a D.A who is an enemy of Tenpenny's. Tenpenny demands that CJ pay for the shipment, which forces him to return to work with Catalina, who now has an obsessive crush on him. Carl also meets the San Fierro Triads leader Wu Zi Mu ("Woozie") during a street race. Catalina finds him at the race and expresses her feeling of neglect and anger at Arben, feeling that he was only interested in her as a partner in crime, also proclaiming that she has a new boyfriend, Claude. CJ defeats Claude and Catalina in a street race, gaining the deed to Claude's run-down San Fierro garage. CJ leaves for San Fierro with the Truth and Tenpenny's marijuana (despite Tenpenny betraying The Truth). They meet Cesar and Kendl at the garage in Doherty, San Fierro. CJ is angry about the bad state of the garage and believes that it is completely useless. Kendl explains to CJ that the property is a great opportunity, and through the Truth, he hires Dwaine, Jethro and Zero to work in the garage.
Carl meets with Woozie in San Fierro and the two quickly become strong allies, collaborating to take down each other's enemies - Carl targeting the Loco Syndicate (Big Smoke's suppliers) and Woozie's rivals, the Da Nang Boys. Carl infiltrates and eventually kills all the chief members - Jizzy B, T-Bone Mendez, and even Ryder from the Grove Street Families. The garage (now a car theft ring), as well as renting out property, has earned Carl a modest sum of money. He receives a surprise phone call from Mike Toreno, a former member of the Loco Syndicate (who was apparently killed), who reveals himself to be a government agent and is recruiting Carl's help in exchange for releasing Sweet from a life sentence. Although it is a well-kept secret from all of his friends, the Truth finds Carl at Toreno's place of operation, and warns Carl that Toreno can't be trusted. He continues to recruit Carl's help in stealing a jetpack from Area 69, which is needed for the Truth's goal of stealing mysterious, enlightening green goo.
Woozie invites CJ to the Triad's glamorous Four Dragons Casino in Las Venturas. Upon arrival, Carl is given shares in the casino by Woozie, "in exchange for some help setting it up". They are faced with aggressive competition from the Mafia-run Caligula's Palace and as revenge, spend time planning an extremely elaborate heist of Caligula's. This dually involves Carl infiltrating Caligula's inner circle of management (by chance of the Truth's association with music industry employees Kent Paul and Maccer) to work with their manager Ken "Rosie" Rosenberg and even Don Salvatore Leone, later helping the trio fake their deaths to escape Salvatore's rage. During this time period, C.R.A.S.H. extracts the last of Carl's labor before they try to kill Carl (and kill their own ally Jimmy Hernandez for snitching on them), with Carl killing Eddie Pulaski and escaping alive. Carl, by chance, sees Madd Dogg attempting suicide and saves his life, partially out of guilt for ruining his career.
Carl's ongoing vendetta towards Tenpenny and Big Smoke, finalized by Madd Dogg having to sell his mansion to drug lord Big Poppa, prompts Carl to return to Los Santos, taking back the rapper's mansion by force. While recording Madd Dogg's new album, Toreno gives Carl the last of his work before Sweet is released from prison. Sweet is disgusted at Carl for his new millionaire's lifestyle, and for having forgotten all about helping the Grove Street Families. Sweet immediately takes Carl back to Grove Street to begin their task of reclaiming all of their turf. As the gang slowly begins their third return to power, Carl manages to get Madd Dogg's rhyme book back from OG Loc, reviving Madd Dogg's career, as well as striking being another blow to Big Smoke. In the case against Tenpenny, it's shown on the news that since there is no evidence implicating him in his criminal activities, he would walk free; seconds after, citywide riots commence in outrage at Tenpenny's acquittal. During the confusion, Grove Street Families retakes almost half of the city's turf, and, after an assault on his Crack Palace, Carl kills Big Smoke. After Carl and Sweet chase him across the city through the riots, Frank Tenpenny also dies after his firetruck falls from a bridge above Grove Street. At a celebration in the Johnson house, Madd Dogg, accompanied by Ken, Kent, and Maccer, announces "our first gold record" to Carl. At the same time, Sweet insists on making Grove Street a priority, while Kendl Johnson suggests going back to Las Venturas with Wu Zi Mu, but Carl's only reply was that he was "fittin' to hit the block, see what's happening".
After GTA San AndreasEdit
At the very end of the game, Carl is a young and wealthy man. His assets and business interests include the Grove Street Families gang and Madd Dogg's contract in Los Santos, a car garage and several other properties in San Fierro, and shares in the Four Dragons casino in Las Venturas, as well as the government's $60 million jetpack.
It is suggested that Carl, Madd Dogg, Kent Paul and Maccer are to go on a world wide tour, as mentioned by Madd Dogg during the game's final cutscene. Maccer and Kent Paul are to ride along, giving another hint that Carl helped the two rebuild their band.
A billboard outside the Middle Park East Safehouse depicts a man strongly resembling Carl in a suit and tie drinking wine with the word "Fruntalot" beside it, which is presumably the product that is being advertised. Either way, this nor the aforementioned Easter Egg is not considered canon for the 3D Universe. Johnson is also mentioned during Grand Theft Auto V by The Families when they apparently talk with him by the cell phone saying things like "What's good? CJ?" once again, it is not canon as GTA V is part of the HD Universe, but considering other characters from the 3D Universe are mentioned in the game (and the HD Universe) he may exist in the HD Universe as well.