He was the first black protagonist in the Grand Theft Auto series and was voiced by rapper Young Maylay.
Carl Johnson was born in the crime ridden Los Santos suburb of Ganton. He had three siblings, 'Sweet', Kendl and Brian. At some point his father left the family. At some point Sweet, CJ and Brian befriended Lance 'Ryder' Wilson and Melvin 'Big Smoke' Harris and joined the gang known as the Grove Street Families. In the late 1980s Brian was killed and Carl was blamed for his death. After that he moved to Liberty City and did petty crimes and car thefts until 1992 when his mother Beverly accidentally got killed in a drive-by shooting. After arriving in Los Santos, Carl was kidnapped by members of the CRASH police force and was framed for the murder of a police officer. He returned to Grove Street and began to work for the Grove Street Families again. He also encountered a member of the Los Santos Aztecas named Cesar Vialpando, his sister Kendl's boyfriend. While on a mission to weaken the Ballas, Carl and Sweet discovered that Big Smoke and Ryder was working with Frank Tenpenny, the leader of CRASH as well as the Ballas. Carl then helped Sweet fight of Ballas members but was arrested by Tenpenny and was exiled to the vast countryside. During his time in the wilderness, Smoke, Ryder and the Ballas unleashes a wave of drugs onto the city. He befriends an aging hippie with a marijuana farm named the Truth and works with him for a while. He also forms a partnership with Cesar's deranged cousin, Catalina and robs "soft targets" with her until Carl wins a race against her new boyfriend, Claude. He wins a run-down San Fierro garage from Claude and begins fixing the business up. He also begins working for a blind triad leader nicknamed 'Woozie'. He and Cesar succeed in killing off Ryder when a corrupt government agent named Mike Toreno blackmails Carl into working with him, in return offering to release Sweet from prison.
Later Carl ventures to the desert town of Las Venturas where he becomes Woozie's partner at his casino called the Four Dragons Casino. He also helps Woozie to get rid of the various mafia gangs that is causing him problems and infiltrates Salvatore Leone's gang. After some odd-jobs and a brief trip back to Liberty City Carl performs a daring heist on a casino Leone owns. He also becomes the manager of disgraced rapper Madd Dogg after thwarting a suicide attempt.
After Carl returned to Los Santos, he first went to the release of his brother Sweet. After Tenpenny was announced innocent, riots began all over San Andreas. Carl then takes control over most of the streets of Los Santos. Sweet then finds out where Big Smoke is hiding, then both he and Carl go pay him a visit. After Carl killed Smoke, Tenpenny then appeared and tells Carl his plan to escape with the money. Carl and Sweet then chase down Tenpenny in a high-speed chase, which leads to the death of the corrupted officer. After everything is over, Carl and his friends get their fist Golden Record.
After the final mission, Kendall tells Carl where he's going, Carl responds with saying Just going to hang out in the streets. He then gets a call from Catalina while having sex with Claude, witch leads to Carl calling her sick. Carl can then go roam the streets like all other GTA protagonists.