Ryder is a pivotal and core member of Grove Street Families in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Ryder's eminent role in the game has made him part of conspiracies and puzzling analysis, generating a number of mysteries relating to the character.
One of the core mysteries surrounding the character is his exact position in the game. The GTA myth hunting and the general community is divided on the issue about the character basis relating to Ryder. Some hold the opinion that Ryder was planned to be an antagonist throughout the game and Rockstar never had any other plans for him even during the early stages of the game whereas the second group of theorists suggests that Ryder was initially supposed to be a semi protagonist but the idea was altered when the game closed in the final stages.
It has been debated and concurred that he was supposed to side with the protagonist, Carl Johnson, throughout the storyline rather betraying the families by allying with Big Smoke, as seen in the final version of the game. The reasons given to support the theory include Rockstar and their decisions taken during the development of the game, theorists suggest that Rockstar had no future plans for Ryder after the Los Santos storyline, so instead of erasing him from the game without explanation, they made him side with the antagonist, Big Smoke. Therefore, this is the discussion related to the first theory about Ryder and his origins.
The theorists put forward the analysis that the introduction prequel scene was released to portray Ryder's antagonist side that was never seen in the in-game scenes and missions. During the introduction, Big Smoke is seen discussing his secret master plan with Ryder, who seems uninterested in the deal. However, he is later given the impression to be intimated by Big Smoke as Smoke mentions that anyone would accept terms if the talk boils down to intimidation;
|“||Big Smoke: Yeah, yeah, it's cool. Now, the way I see it is that we don't have a choice. Ain't nothing to feel bad about. You put a gun to a brother's head, brother's gonna do what he's told, no matter if he's a fool or a wise man. You don't want a bullet in the brain, but if you can make it work and make some benjamins while you at it, then that's cool.
Ryder: It's gonna take more than a bullet in the head to stop me.
Big Smoke: I don't doubt that, homie.
Another argument placed by the theorists includes that the rude, taunting and unusual behavior of Ryder towards Carl Johnson is similar to Sweet since both hold the view that Carl Johnson wasn't supposed to leave Los Santos and flee to Liberty City, leaving the families in severe danger whereas Big Smoke was never disappointed by Carl's idea because Big Smoke wanted the families to split, to further take over the city without any obstacles. Hence, this is the reason given to justify Ryder's unconventional behavior.
|“||Carl: I'm not, I'm thinkin' of staying.
Carl: My family, the homies is here.
Ryder: We were always here, fool!
Carl: Yeah, but, now I'm back and I know what I've been missing.
Ryder: Don't expect me to kiss your ass or nothing. You're still a busta to me.
–Some bits from the mission, Ryder. Describing the odd relation between CJ and Ryder
However, as the game progressed Ryder and Carl Johnson started to liken each other, and in fact, Carl Johnson liked to be around Ryder as everything Ryder did was benefiting Grove Street like stealing the crates from Uncle Sam or assaulting the pizza parlor. Their relationship was fully restored during the mission House Party when
both of them mocked OG Loc's rap and went for a hang out in the street, only to confront the ballas together.
The Green Sabre
During the mission The Green Sabre, when Carl Johnson sees Big Smoke and Ryder with C.R.A.S.H., he doesn't mention Ryder in any of his dialogues even though he expresses shock over Smoke's alliance with C.R.A.S.H. Theorists speak that the reason Carl doesn't mention Ryder is that the voice actor recorded their script prior to Rockstar's change of plans in Ryder's character. Therefore, Ryder is seen in the mission but isn't mentioned by any voice actor. Even after the mission, when C.R.A.S.H. arrests and dumps Carl into the county scene, they only mention about not threatening or to go after Big Smoke, Ryder is left out of the conversation once again.
|“||Carl Johnson: What the fuck? Oh, no! Shit, Smoke, what you into?
Carl Johnson: That's the mother-fucking green Sabre! Shit, Smoke... C.R.A.S.H. makin' you sell us out! Moms!
Carl Johnson: Cesar called, showed me some shit. It's Smoke, and he in deep with Tenpenny and some Ballas! He sold us out!
–Carl leaving Ryder out of all the talks
The mission Drive-Thru includes two pieces of evidence. The first evidence states that when Ryder mentions the topic about Green Sabre sightings, Big Smoke shuts the conversation by deeming the sightings as baseless rumors;
|“||Carl Johnson: How'd Mom get killed? We gotta talk about it.
Ryder: We all gotta talk about it! They was going for Sweet!
Big Smoke: How you supposed to know that? You know what people are like. Say they have love for you, but won't say a word. Too damn scared.
Ryder: Some people say they saw a green Sabre doing the work. Then speeding away.
Big Smoke: Yeah, but people like to talk, don't they? Anyway, that's half of Santos you talkin' about.
The secondary evidence shows up when Big Smoke doesn't even shoot a single bullet at Ballas during the entire scene and is later questioned by Ryder which Smoke dodges by an excuse.
|“||Ryder: Smoke! Stop stuffin' your face and start popping them Ballas!
Big Smoke: I'm just enjoying my food!
Sweet: And them fools are trying to enjoy our deaths! Now, c'mon, Smoke, shoot!
Big Smoke: Hey, I'm just finishing my fries! My Special!
Traditionalist claims and theories do not perplex Ryder's story. Players holding the view that Ryder was either meant to be an antagonist all along and present several missions as evidence however theorists reject these claims by pointing out that Ryder was intimidated by Big Smoke to do everything and some of the vague dialogues by Ryder that reveal his relation with Tenpenny is because of Smoke's intimidation along with the fact he never messes around with the C.R.A.S.H. because of the same reason. This is also the reason many sayings include only a hint towards upcoming dangers since he wanted to warn the Grove Street and at the same time not blow up his bubble of alliance with Big Smoke.
|“||Ryder: Whatever you say, fool. You don't know what's going on.
Carl Johnson: And what that mean?
–Ryder accidentally revealing his alliance with C.R.A.S.H during Robbing Uncle Sam