In the game's finale, End of the Line, Frank Tenpenny's firetruck crashes off the Ganton Bridge, flying into Grove Street at high speed. Tenpenny climbs out of the truck writhing in pain, surrounded by the game's main characters. When CJ aims a pistol at Tenpenny, Sweet prevents him from shooting to make the death look like an accident, before walking off. During and after the cutscene, there is little indication that Tenpenny died. His death is only referenced on an episode of WCTR News that airs once the mission is completed, claiming that Tenpenny's body was mutilated by the local homeless.
A long standing myth in the game was present, stating that Tenpenny had died and his ghost was haunting Grove Street. However, the notion that Tenpenny survived the incident and escaped only began a year after the game's release, originating on a NeoSeeker thread in 2005. The myth laid dormant for some time until it was made even more popular in 2017 thanks to the YouTuber ulown00b.
The theory states that not only has Tenpenny survived his accident, but that he has fled the city to a new location. This is supported by a collection of potential openings that Tenpenny could have used in his escape:
- A gap in the wall between a home and OG Loc's house, that leads to the freeway.
- A missing fence on the freeway leading to East Los Santos. The ramp up to this is rather difficult to climb, but it is still possible.
- An opening in the storm drain system with an overpass, leading to a very thin alley continuing to East Los Santos. A police bribe is present here, which may reference Tenpenny's demeanor as a corrupt cop.
From this point, the path splits into two possible directions:
Regardless of the route, both paths lead to a parking garage in East Beach. When the player enters the second level of the car park, a Police Maverick is automatically scripted to appear above and patrol across the district. Believers say that this is the helicopter that could have evacuated Tenpenny from the area.
The helicopter that leaves from the parking garage always flies towards the direction of Angel Pine. In various missions, such as The Green Sabre and Badlands, it is known that Tenpenny and C.R.A.S.H. have knowledge about the area. For example, Tenpenny sets up residence in the trailer park, and meets with The Truth at the U GET INN Motel. It is possible that the helicopter is taking Tenpenny to a place where he already has connections.
Various internet rumors have also stated that Tenpenny has been sighted at locations like the Pershing Square Police Station, the All-Saint's General Hospital, or the Shady Cabin, yet these remain to simply be fan speculation.
The myth has also been connected to the mystery surrounding the Green Sabre. According to some rumors, Tenpenny uses the Sabre as transportation around the areas he has escaped to.