What’s With All Those Helicopters On GTA Covers?

What’s With All Those Helicopters On GTA Covers?
Image: Rockstar / Kotaku

I don’t remember exactly when I noticed it, but one day I was looking at the PS2 cases for Grand Theft Auto Vice City and San Andreas and spotted a funny similarity: they both had a helicopter in the top left. Then I checked GTA III’s case and it too had the same thing. Then I looked at other GTA video game cases and realised that placing a heli in the top left-hand corner is indeed a thing.

This all started back on the cover for GTA III. In the top left hand of the collage of images that make up the cover art, you can see a police helicopter. Then another police heli appears in the same spot on Vice City’s iconic PS2 cover. And then after that, nearly every GTA cover includes a helicopter in that same spot.

The only exceptions to this rule are mostly weird ports, like GTA Advance and the weird international covers GTA III sported back in the day. The one real oddball is GTA Chinatown Wars, which uses the same cover design as all the main GTA games, but doesn’t include a helicopter for some reason.

Image: Rockstar Games Image: Rockstar Games

Another trend, that Rockstar doesn’t follow as much as the heli, is the placement of a motorcycle in the top, right corner of many GTA covers. This is a cooler, lesser-known trend that only us GTA hipsters know about. And now all of you, I guess too…

I’m not the first person to notice this. But as the classic Grand Theft Auto games are currently trending thanks to the recent remaster news, I started talking about random bits of trivia and lore with folks I know. It was then that I learned that a lot of folks didn’t know about the odd helicopter Easter egg Rockstar loves including on each GTA cover. Of course, once I pointed it out people would ask me why and I don’t have a good answer for that.

Perhaps it’s one of those things that started out by accident. You know, someone put a heli in the same spot twice in a row and someone decided to keep it up for the next one. And then an accident became a tradition. A weird tradition, but one which probably doesn’t have any nefarious conspiracies about it online. Yet.


  • My PS2 copy of GTA 3 (bought legitimately on launch day pre-censorship) is a completely different cover with just a burgundy car facing forwards and a person outside the drivers door choke holding another person whilst in a crosshair.

    No helicopter for me 🙁

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