"The Boss" is the player's character in the Saints Row franchise. Originally a mostly silent protagonist, this character has no name or backstory. The Boss has also been referred to as "playa" to keep his identity obscure, and as a nod to the fact that he is the player character.
The player can change almost everything about the Boss. This includes race, age, weight, facial structure, and, as of Saints Row 2, gender. The Boss can even be given a different voice, taunt, and can be outfitted with clothes, tattoos, and jewelry. The customization system does not limit the player to a specific set of options or items based on gender; the character could be designed as a woman with a man's voice, for example, or as a man dressed in feminine hair and clothing. The Boss may even visit a plastic surgeon at any time to reenter the character creation process for a small fee, and can rebuild the character from scratch if so desired. For clarity's sake, the remainder of this article will refer to the Boss as a man, as that gender is considered the default.
After being caught in the middle of a gunfight between members of the three major street gangs of Stilwater, Michigan, the man who would become the Boss is saved by Julius Little, the leader of the Third Street Saints, a gang based out of the historic Saints Row District. After being "canonized" and initiated into the gang, the Player becomes an enforcer and helps Johnny Gat,Troy Bradshaw, strategist Dexter Jackson and spy Lin take down Stilwater's dominating gangs: Los Carnales, the Vice Kings, and the Westside Rollerz.
Through a series of triumphs and tragedies, mostly through the personal efforts of the Player, the Saints wipe out the opposing gangs and take over Stilwater, though Lin dies in the process. The Player becomes Julius' right-hand man and assures him that the violence they perpetuated was for a greater good. However, this victory is short-lived. After being blackmailed into assassinating Stilwater's mayor and chief of police, the Player finds himself on a yacht with Stilwater's mayoral elect: Alderman Richard Hughes, who informs the Boss that he plans to destroy the Saints and bulldoze their neighborhood. Before he can have his men execute the Boss, however, the game ends with a bomb completely destroying Hughes' yacht, and the revelation that Troy was an undercover cop.
The Player is almost totally mute throughout the original Saints Row, only breaking his vow of silence to make combat noises (such as grunting in pain when injured or screaming hysterically when on fire) and to make singular humorous quips during the final missions for each of the gangs. Scenes like these also delve into the Player's apathy and unusual knowledge of fashion trends. The Boss later attributed this silence to being "a scared kid."
Saints Row 2
After spending five years in a coma due to the yacht explosion at the end of the original game, the Player wakes up and promptly breaks out of jail along with aspiring gangbanger Carlos Mendoza. He learns that, while he has been out, the clothing corporation Ultor has more or less taken over Stilwater's economy. Ultor used its wealth and influence to modernize the Saints Row district into a corporate park, which, combined with the fact that the Saints' leadership had suddenly vanished, caused the gang to disband. Troy Bradshaw has become chief of police, Julius has disappeared, Johnny Gat has been arrested for attempting to murder Troy, and it is implied that Dex has gone straight and taken a job with Ultor. Adding insult to injury, with the Saints gone, three new gangs have taken control of the city, returning things to much the same state Stilwater was in when the Player joined the Saints in the first place.
After breaking Gat out of the city courthouse, where he was being tried for dozens of murders, the Player (now the Boss) regroups with Carlos, recruits two new lieutenants (strategist Pierce Washington and drug dealer Shaundi), and revives his old gang; creating a new headquarters under an abandoned building in the Red Light District. Once again, they take over the city by destroying all of the new gangs: the Sons of Samedi, the Brotherhood, and the Ronin. After Ultor attempts to destroy the Saints, they go after the corporation as well, ultimately chasing them out of Stilwater.
In a few optional missions, some DLC-exclusive, the Boss also ties up loose ends with some of his former Saints associates. optional mission, the Boss is informed by wiretap conversations that it was Julius who set him up on the yacht, as he had come to believe the Saints were on their way to becoming as bad as the Vice Kings and killing the Player was the only way to disband the gang. After learning this, the Boss goes to meet up with Dex, who promises to explain everything. Instead, he finds Julius waiting for him, and discovers it was an Ultor trap for the both of them. Julius and the Boss work together to escape Ultor, but once they are in the clear, the Boss takes revenge and murders Julius. In the console-exclusive DLC, Corporate Warfare, The Boss goes after Dex as part of a larger arc involving a defected Ultor executive named Eric Gryphon. Unlike Julius, however, Dex manages to escape Stillwater with his life, with the Boss resolving to murder any and all of Dex's known associates, and swearing to track him down one day: a goal that he never sees to during the remainder of the series.
In Saints Row 2, the customization of the Boss is expanded. Now the Boss can be female (this is treated as a retcon, with the Boss having always been male, as opposed to a male character getting a sex change operation to appear female) and, since the Boss has become an actual character instead of a silent protagonist, he has a voice. However, the personality is still thin; he is still a murderous psychopath who wants to take over Stilwater, no matter the cost, but the various voice choices expand it marginally. For example, the "Male One" voice gives the Boss a Cockney accent, and causes him to use British slang in combat, while "Male Two" gives him a vaguely Hispanic accent, and causes him to slip into Spanish in certain circumstances.
In the loading screens for the game, which depict stills from cutscenes the player has witnessed, the Boss is always depicted as a muscular African American male with a small beard and mustache, a white tank top, and a Third Street Saints tattoo.
Saints Row: The Third
The Boss once again appears as a the playable protagonist in Saints Row: The Third. Having taken over Stilwater and Ultor, he and his gang have used their fame and new found power to become international celebrities, selling their likenesses for comic books, energy drinks, clothing lines, and other merchandise. After a failed bank robbery lands the Boss, Johnny Gat, and Shaundi in jail they are bailed out by Phillipe Loren, the leader of the Syndicate: a collection of gangs that operate out of the city of Steelport. Once again, the Saints are offered a deal, but choose to decline through violence, resulting in the "death" (disappearance) of Gat.
Left humiliated by the Syndicate, the Boss reorganizes his crew to take over Steelport. After recruiting the flamboyant pimp Zimos, enforcers Oleg and Angel de la Muerte, and former FBI hacker Kinzie Kensington, the Boss personally takes out the city's main gangs; the Luchadores, the Deckers, and the Morning Stars. As the gang war escalates, the Boss also leads his gang against the forces of STAG (Special Tactics Anti-Gang), a government-sponsored anti-gang military organization that uses advanced and experimental technology. Ultimately, the Saints take over the city, though the public's popular view of the gang is decided based on what happens in the game's final mission, in which the player is forced to choose between killing Killbane before he can leave Steelport or saving Shaundi from a STAG plot to frame the Saints.
It is revealed that Kia, second-in-command of STAG, has planted explosives around a large statue and intends to blow it up, along with Shaundi and Viola. If the player pursues this path, the Boss stops the detonation, rescues Shaundi and Viola, and kills Kia. STAG is then forced to retreat from Steelport when the Saints are recognized as heroes for stopping the destruction and restoring order to the city. The Boss then goes on to star in Gangstas in Space, a film adaptation of Johnny Gat's comic book.
This was later revealed to be canon
The Boss joins up with Angel at the airport, and the two commandeer a STAG tank in order to destroy Killbane's plane before it can take off. The Boss then beats a battered Killbane to death. After the bomb goes off and the Saints are blamed for the statue's destruction, the Boss embarks on one more mission to stop a heavily armed STAG airship from leveling Steelport. He sets bombs at various points around the ship and then sets them to go off on a timer. STAG commander Cyrus Temple attempts to stop the Boss in his personal VTOL jet, but the Boss kills him. Once STAG is removed, the Boss goes on TV to declare that Steelport is now an independent city state under his control.
Compared to the previous games, little of the Boss's character has changed. As the game progresses, the Boss reveals a dwindling level of respect for his gang going mainstream, an opinion that Johnny Gat shared. Other things that are revealed include is inability to comprehend technical jargon and his fanboy-like admiration for actor, and Steelport mayor, Burt Reynolds. As was the case in the previous installment, the multiple voice choices expand on the character to a small degree, usually through changes in the dialogue.
Additionally, players may use the character creator to create and upload different versions of the Boss to the Saints Row website, as well as download the creations of others.
Saints Row IV and beyond
Following the events of Saints Row: The Third, the Boss and his lieutenants assist MI6 operative Asha Odekar in stopping a terrorist threat led by an insane Cyrus Temple. After easily dispatching Temple then kills Cyrus and personally disarming a nuclear missile while in, his heroics subsequently get him elected President of the United States. Shortly into his term, however, an alien race known as the Zin attack and kidnap members of the President's staff, including his Chief of Staff, former Vice Kings leader Benjamin King, and his Vice President, actor Keith David.
After being captured himself, the President is placed in a virtual reality simulation of Steelport. After first escaping back into the real world, Zin retaliates by destroying Earth. The Boss returns to the simulation for most of the game and by hacking the system, the President is able to acquire superpowers while inside, which he uses to fight back against the Zin. While doing so, he rescues his team and they aid him in his battle against the Zin.
Eventually, the simulation weakens and the President uses a power armor suit in the final battle in which he defeats and kills the emperor Zinyak by ripping off his head; from there the President is then promoted to crown emperor of the Zin Empire.
For the first time The Boss is forced to take responsibility for his actions and his leadership is often questioned. Before the Zin invasion, The Boss' approval rating with the country was in freefall and it is safe to accuse the The Boss directly for dooming the planet by standing up against the alien race. Even his crew question his authority at times: for example, when it is time to finally rescue Johnny Gat from the Zin, he initially fails to realize that doing so would mean exposing them to counter-attack and reacts violently when Matt Miller, now a trusted associate of the Saints, advised against it.
Like the previous installments, the personality and dialogue of the Boss is based on the player's chosen gender and voice. The Boss can even engage in flings with the crew members, regardless of gender, though this is done to poke fun at the trivial relationship aspects of the Mass Effect series. Based on his initial virtual prison, the Boss has a deep hatred/fear of "wholesome 1950's television."
The Boss appears only briefly in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, before and after his kidnapping by Satan, who chooses him to marry his daughter, Jezebel, for his violent life.
Starting with Saints Row 2, The Boss became fully voiced and the player is allowed to choose from a variety of voices as part of the character customization.
Saints Row 2
Saints Row: The Third
Saints Row IV