The most popular Stealth-Based Game series going, Metal Gear is known in part for extremely talky characters that have a tendency to philosophize under heavy fire. Oh, and just about all of them suffer from huge psychological issues.Characters are listed on the characters page for the game they debuted in. For example, all of Solid Snake's tropes are listed on this page, and Raiden's tropes are on the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty character page. Please do not list a character again on a second page if they make a reappearance, even if their personality is really different.There is an exception for Solid Snake in his Snake's Revenge, Ac!d, and Ghost Babel appearances, since, due to alternate continuities, he's portrayed differently.UNMARKED SPOILERS AHEADIndex by page:
"I only felt truly alive when I was staring Death in the face. I don't know, maybe it's written into my genes."
The star of the Metal Gear series, Solid Snake is an infiltration specialist whose exploits usually revolve around destroying the titular Metal Gears, nuclear-armed Humongous Mecha whose very existence shifts the balance of power in the world dramatically. Through this, he becomes entangled in a massive web of control and deceit centered around The Patriots, a shadowy Ancient Conspiracy group that has been engaged in clandestine wars for decades.The jump to 3-D gaming drastically expanded Snake's character, with the revelation that he was shaken up pretty badly during the MSX era, and that he's actually a laboratory-grown clone of his recurring enemy, Big Boss. He becomes a hermit in the interim, but is forcibly pulled out of retirement when Metal Gear rears its ugly head yet again. The Alaska incident has the benefit of pairing Snake with his future partner, Otacon; Together, the duo combine their brains and brawn to delay the proliferation of Metal Gear, whether it be by lobbying the U.N., or simply blowing up every prototype in sight.Eventually, Snake's flawed clone DNA catches up with him, and he prematurely ages into an old man. The character was officially and canonically retired in MGS4, with recentgames focusing on the past adventures of Big Boss and one focusing on the later adventures of Raiden — though Hideo Kojima muses about bringing Snake back someday.
Zero Approval Gambit: Pretty much what Snake lives for: he does what he needs to do to save the world, even if it makes people hate him for it. Campbell mentions this during a codec conversation in MGS4:
"We can't all be as strong as you, Snake. Some of us can't bear living like pariahs."
Afraid of Needles: Drebin asked if he was this before injecting him with a syringe to update his nanos in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. In this case, his fear, or rather, hesitance, was perfectly justified, as the previous time he got an injection before a mission, it turned out the person injected him with an unwanted gift (FOXDIE). He should have followed that gut instinct.
Aloof Big Brother: To Liquid and Solidus, a rare protagonist example. Downplayed, in that he is barely older, since he and Liquid are twins and Solidus was born later in the same year. Justified, since he wasn't even aware that they existed until later in life and by the time he met them, they were trying to kill him.
Anti Anti Christ: He was originally created, along with his brothers, to enforce the Patriots' will (albeit unknowingly), but he eventually managed to destroy them and save the planet from their control.
The Anti-Nihilist: He doubts whether or not his actions will make a difference in the long run and knows how brutal and senseless life can be, but still devotes himself to the cause of creating a more just, peaceful world by stopping the proliferation of superweapons, especially Metal Gears.
Atheism: In Project Itoh's novelization for Metal Gear Solid 4, Snake told Otacon that he doesn't believe in God shortly before his attempted suicide.
Should be taken with a grain of salt considering Snake's characterization in past novels and is never commented on in the actual games. On a humorous note, his soul inhabits a wooden sword during Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, giving advice to Raiden while knocking Desperado cyborgs senseless.
Badass Bookworm: Not in the level of say, Octacon's level of science or Liquid explaining Asymmetry theory. Snake does know his military and seems to know his biological knowledge as his private conversation with Namoi states as he's aware of what apoptosis is. He could have told Liquid what recessive genes is during Liquid's rant.
Badass Normal: Is able to take on a world of cyborgs, psychics, and supernaturally empowered warriors and win.
Some argue this distinction, as he was a clone of Big Boss. However, certain information indicates that he is something of an inferior copy (most tellingly, Solidus Snake and Big Boss were more physically robust, and Snake's training seems to have been less intense than Solidus' or Liquid's), so the trope is averted in spirit.
Incredibly one-sided battles he's managed to win with only on-site-procured weapons include: a Hind-D helicopter, piloted by a guy who used it to take down two F-16s, a tank with only grenades, a giant crazy-lady-piloted robot wolf, and at least two giant war-robots on separate occasions.
Bad Liar: While not as bad of a liar as, say, Roy Campbell or even his father Big Boss, it is clear that he isn't all that good at lying, as evidenced with his first appearance in the Plant chapter of MGS2: he states that he got to the Big Shell via a fast-rope descent from a Navy Chopper, yet that exact moment one of the sea lice from earlier falls off of him. Likewise, he disguises himself as a Navy SEAL, yet he gets portions of his uniform wrong (headsets are only used for commanders, who are kept off the battlefield at all costs), and he quotes the wrong military mottos (he says "Semper Fi" and "Who Dares, Wins", which are the Marines and the British Special Air Service mottos, respectively). Also overlaps into Paper-Thin Disguise.
Then, when MGS4 comes around, he tells Meryl that the UN sent him to the Middle East to do threat assessment on the local PMCs and see how they're affecting their refugee protection efforts. Meryl, having heard rumors of an assassin targeting Liquid Ocelot (which is what Snake was really there for), is not fooled.
Bag of Spilling: Lampshaded in Sons of Liberty, when his stealth camo shorts out in the opening cutscene. Drat.
Subverted, however, during the second guard invasion aboard Arsenal Gear. Snake tosses out infinite ammo to the player, having brought along his ∞ bandanna.
Big Brother Mentor: To Raiden. In Revengeance, he recalls that Snake was the best combat veteran he'd ever seen, a man who absolutely did not know how to quit or fail. Notably, Snake hands his sidearm and cigarettes to Raiden when they first meet in the Big Shell, realizing the poor newbie was sent in without any gear, just like Snake was all those miserable times.
Big "NO!": Gives out one as Raiden is squashed by Outer Haven.
Blood Knight: Heavily implied in Metal Gear Solid by Liquid Snake, Psycho Mantis, and Meryl Silverburgh (and she's one of the good guys, to boot) to enjoy killing and battle, and in Psycho Mantis's case, is arguably worse than Liquid Snake.
This is one of the central conflicts of his character. When he fails in living a peaceful lifestyle (similar to his father) Snake decides to put his Blood Knight tendencies to good causes.
Busman's Holiday: Runs to the ends of the earth just to never see another Metal Gear again... unaware that the Army is building a new one on his doorstep. D'oh.
Broken Pedestal: Snake, still bitter over Big Boss' numerous betrayals, is one of the last people to recognize his achievements. Despite that, Snake is hinted to still harbor some respect for his old CO, as he becomes livid when he sees Solidus impersonating Big Boss, as well as the fact that he visits and even salutes Big Boss' grave in MGS4.
Solid Snake: I'm just a man who's good at what he does, killing. There's no winning or losing for a mercenary. I've never fought for anyone but myself, I've got no purpose in life, no ultimate goal. It's only when I'm cheating death on the battlefield, the only time I feel truly alive.
Can't Stay Normal: After the events of the first Metal Gear Solid, he attempted to settle down and live a normal life with Meryl, but eventually gave up and returned to the battlefield.
Character Development: Goes from being a jaded, cynical jerk who could care less about anything but completing the mission to live another day to a jaded cynical jerk who does what he does because it's the right thing to do and no one else will do it.
Covert Pervert: Hinted at in Codec conversations with Raiden in the second Solid game.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Part of the reason he starts using CQC again in MGS4. He explains that the PMCs are all using "cookie cutter imitations" that they read about, and when they attempt to use it on him, he reflexively responds with the original techniques he learned directly from Big Boss.
The Danza: Although a coincidental example (since the name was already decided in the Japanese version), Solid Snake shares his real name (David) with his English voice actor, David Hayter.
Dark Is Not Evil: Liquid referred to himself and Snake as "the brother of light" and "the brother of dark"- while who is who in unspecified, Snake is a grizzled, bitter looking man usually wearing dark clothing (Contrasting his brother's light-skinned bare chest).
Big Mama specifically refers to him as a "shadow, which no light can shine on."
Then again, considering Mantis' statement about Snake deduced from what is strongly implied to be mind and past reading, Snake himself might have been Dark Is Evil. "Have been" is the key phrase.
Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments, such as during his confrontation with Vulcan Raven, where he quips that Raven must have "excelled at the Muktuk Eating contest" in the Eskimo-Indian Olympics.
Dirty Old Man: Considering what's happening to him by Metal Gear Solid 4, he comes pretty close to the trope by his appearance and reading Playboys to increase his psyche gauge (not to mention giving implied regret of retiring too soon when he hears that Mei Ling apparently got a promotion after catching an eye with an admiral that was implied to be of this trope), even if he is technically middle-aged.
Driven to Suicide: In MGS4, Solid Snake intends to kill himself at a graveyard in order to prevent himself from infecting the world with FOXDIE. It was subverted, though, as he ultimately couldn't go through with it, plus it turned out killing himself proved to be completely unnecessary anyway.
Drowning My Sorrows: Snake mentions after revealing his identity to Raiden that before Shadow Moses, he took to heavily drinking while living in isolation at Alaska.
Slightly less mullety in the second game, more just generally longish and held back by the bandanna. It's most obviously such while disguised as Pliskin and not wearing said bandanna. But he is totally rocking the old man mullet in MGS4.
Evil Counterpart: Psycho Mantis, during his dying speech, implies that Solid Snake is this to Liquid Snake, stating that he was as bad as Liquid after declaring that he saw true evil, which was Snake, before correcting himself and states that he's actually worse than Liquid.
Embarrassing Nickname: Snake really hates it when people call him "Old Snake". In fact, just hearing the moniker takes a quarter of his psyche out.
Other influences include Michael Biehn from Terminator, Sylvester Stallone in John Rambo (the bandanna), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Snake's physique) and Christopher Walken (Snake's face in MGS1 is modeled on Walken's in his youth). As a consequence, Snake's adventures have a distinct 80's Hollywood flavor to them, especially the music. The MGS1 soundtrack, while darker and more modern, still has a lingering synth element to it.
Faking the Dead: Snake is lured into an explosive-rigged oil tanker in Sons of Liberty. Luckily Otacon is standing by with a boat. Rather than wait for the Patriots to take another shot at them, the duo go into hiding and are presumed dead. They later turn up on the Big Shell while masquerading as SEAL operatives.
Flashback Nightmare: Mentioned a few times in his appearances. The first time was in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake when encountering Big Boss at Zanzibar Land, where he states that he took the mission to get rid of the nightmares relating to Outer Heaven that he experienced since his mission to Outer Heaven. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, it’s strongly implied that Snake was suffering from nightmares from Shadow Moses (contacting Pliskin while Snake is asleep will have him mumbling something before abruptly screaming Liquid's name, presumably this part was during their fight on REX). Finally, in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, not only does Snake have a nightmare regarding his entry into Shadow Moses, the player even plays the nightmare in Act 4.
Gallows Humor: His reaction to discovering just what Outer Haven's microwave hallway will do to someone is:
"You'd have to have a death wish to go in there. Sounds like the perfect job for me."
Good Is Not Nice: When Snake asks you a question, it's best to answer truthfully.
Otacon of all people was on the receiving end of this during their first encounter; when Otacon parrots the party line about REX strictly being a missile-defense system, Snake unexpectedly snaps and throttles him in a rage.
He is shown to be willing to save the world from itself, although that doesn't stop him from sometimes acting like a jerk towards his friends, and at one point manipulate a person into getting himself captured in a really complex method of Trojan Prisoner. Otacon reassures the victim that it was kindly meant.
Good Old Ways: Snake has a low opinion of virtually every 21st-century solider he encounters. He regards the flashy, inexperienced Genome Soldiers as all hat and no cattle; the next-generation VR soldiers as clowns; the twitchy rookie Meryl as a total liability.
Guttural Growler: In the English dub, especially in MGS4. However, one could argue that his voice isn't like that just for the sake of it: he is both old and a lifelong smoker. ** Supposedly, part of the reason Snake's voice got so guttural is because as the actor aged he found it harder to do the voice properly.
Handsome Lech: He hits on girls half his age! He hits on his support staff! He broods over whether to ask Otacon's permission to date his baby sister! The man has a healthy libido, let's leave it at that.
He's less of a ladies' man than his behavior would suggest, as his war experiences have severely harmed his ability to open up to other people. Meryl was more than a woman, she was a combat buddy; and even she dumped him.
Hates Small Talk: Another surefire way to piss him off is digging into his personal life.
He comments in MGS1 that he and Grey Fox — supposedly his closest friend in the world — never talked about anything personal. Just endless conversations about rations and rifle clips, apparently. "Sort of an unwritten rule."
He Who Fights Monsters: Variation in Metal Gear Solid 4. Because of his rapidly aging body, the FOXDIE virus that Naomi Hunter injected into him during the Shadow Moses Incident was slowly mutating to the point that, by the time three months passed, FOXDIE would kill indiscriminately within three months before killing Snake in another three months, all after he spent his life eliminating Metal Gears, he would essentially become a bioweapon, something Naomi even lampshades. It was barely subverted, however, when Big Boss reveals that the new FOXDIE Drebin injected him with uprooted the old, meaning he was no longer a biological threat to the world.
Hero with Bad Publicity: He's been branded a criminal since the Shadow Moses incident, and was framed as an ecoterrorist by the Patriots during the Manhattan incident. Of course, he doesn't really mind this.
Heroes Love Dogs: As a retiree, Snake coped with his demons by becoming a dogsled racer, raising fifty huskies in his cabin. He was even preparing to compete in the Iditarod when Campbell yanked him back into action. Snake is fond of wolves, as well (though the feeling isn't mutual).
Despite this, Snake admittedly has no qualms against killing attack dogs to protect himself, much to Otacon's horror.
Turns out this was one of the qualities he's inherited from his dad, Big Boss.
Vulcan Raven: You are a snake which was not created by Nature. You and the Boss... you are from another world... a world that I do not wish to know.
Given the existence of the supernatural, the concept of destiny, and Snake's heritage that is both mimetic and genetic, Vulcan Raven may have been onto something there. Whatever the case, Snake is superior to a world full of ghosts, monsters, psychics, giant robots, and killer AIs. Whether this is merely the case of his tried-and-true badassery or also of an inexplicable innate nature can be debated.
Hypocritical Humor: Snake's a good agent, but chafes at being kept in the dark about his mission. He naturally keeps Raiden in the dark about absolutely everything in MGS2.
Iconic Item: His bandanna. Also his cigarettes. Snake somehow manages to smuggle his cigs into every mission, despite being forbidden to bring anything along.
Snake: Sorry to disappoint you, but I did manage to smuggle out my smokes. Naomi:(exasperated)How did you do that? Snake:In my stomach. Thanks to that shot you gave me which suppressed my stomach acids.
Identical Grandson: Played With. He is an identical clone of Big Boss, but was gestated, birthed, and grew up just like any other "normal" person. He is also consistently referred to as Big Boss' son, not his clone.
I Read It for the Articles: It is strongly implied that Solid Snake has other reasons for possessing dirty magazines besides using them as bait to distract enemies. In Metal Gear Solid 2, he refers to the magazines as having "educational value" when trying to convince Raiden that having them isn't that bad, and if the player reads the magazines in the model viewer in Metal Gear Solid 4, his Psyche Gauge goes up. Because of his aging problem in the latter game, it also in a way overlaps into Dirty Old Man.
I Work Alone: He's also not a fan of rookie soldiers. FOXHOUND trained him to procure weapon on-site and leave no trace; they didn't prepare him for some trigger-happy fool blundering into his line of fire.
Idiot Hair: A forelock is always sticking out of place on Snake's forehead, though Snake himself is far from stupid.
Informed Flaw: We only have Mantis' word that the seemingly heroic Snake is more evil than Liquid.
Mantis' rather harsh judgment of Snake is probably a holdover from when Snake was a Deep-Immersion GamingAudience Surrogate in the original Metal Gear games; a bunch of potshots were aimed at Snake because of the average video-game player'ssadistic tendencies when playing games, presumably so that the conversations about war would seem more relevant if the player was the focus. Because of this, the games never bothered actually portraying these tendencies on Snake's part, so that when he grew into an actual character he didn't quite live up to those Blood Knight credentials.
Interrupted Suicide: Subverted. While Big Boss does watch Snake attempt to shoot himself, Snake stops himself from doing so, after which Big Boss reveals himself and congratulates him for not going through with it.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even after his Character Development in Metal Gear Solid, he's still as abrasive and bitter as ever. However, he's now willing to fight for other people as opposed to just himself. By the time Metal Gear Solid 4 rolls around, he's noticably more bitter, but he's barely rude to anyone.
Legendary in the Sequel: Applies to MGS1, and only increases with each game. This is a guy who took out two Metal Gears with a fistful of grenades.
With President Sears' fall from grace and the publication of Nastaha's tell-all book, Snake's fame reached its zenith. This was the last straw for the Patriots, who opt to remove Snake rather than allow him to continue discrediting them. Even then, soldiers like Raiden refuse to buy Snake as a terrorist, and even suspect he faked his death. (This later turns out to be the case.)
Lightning Bruiser: Compared to Big Boss (who emphasized joint locks, throws, and overwhelming force) and Ocelot (who preferred brute strength), Solid Snake favors direct attacks and precise and powerful jabs and kicks to stagger and knock out enemies as fast as possible. While this lacks the finesse and versatility of CQC, Solid Snake's style shines in one-on-one combat. This also applies to his appearance in the Smash Bros. universe.
Macgyvering: He did kill the world's greatest soldier with a Zippo lighter.
He coaches Raiden to shoot pipes and fire extinguishers in MGS2, quoting "necessity is the mother of invention" numerous times. This is undoubtedly a main tenet of FOXHOUND.
Made Of Diamond: You could write a novel's length of things he has endured, including dozens of gunshots, having half his face horribly burned and crawling through a tunnel filled with lethal microwaves
Meaningful Name: His real name, David, is a Hebrew name that derives from the Old Testament Hebrew ruler, King David, who managed to slay the giant Goliath with nothing more than a slingshot and a dagger prior to becoming the king of Israel. Solid Snake, in a similar fashion, has managed to overcome seemingly impossible odds despite being the Les Enfant Terribles clone that contained supposedly inferior genes.
That and he takes on giant war robots with nothing but a rocket launcher (and sometimes less) on a regular basis.
Military Brat: A rare literal example, as not only is he "related" to someone in the Military (Big Boss, he's a clone of him), but according to the novelization for Metal Gear Solid as well as implied in the source material and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, he was raised within the military from a very early age.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Let's see, his actions in Outer Heaven resulted in NATO blowing up the Outer Heaven Resistance members despite their being their allies, his defeating Gray Fox and Big Boss not only got Naomi very angry at him (enough to inject a bioweapon in him to target him specifically, among other things), but it also led to the Patriots controlling humanity by the 21st century, and heck, even after defeating both the Patriots and Outer Haven in 2014 while dying, if Rising is anything to go by, things actually ended up worse than before.
Not Me This Time: After Shadow Moses, Naomi Hunter is broken out of prison, and the authorities automatically assume that Snake helped her escape and add it to his rap sheet.
Nothing Personal: Even though they were on opposing sides during Zanzibar Land, Snake and Gray Fox still considered each other to be best friends no matter what, with Snake even phrasing this trope by name while telling Naomi as such.
Number One Dime: Snake refuses to go on a mission without his smokes. During the events of the Outer Heaven Uprising, he smoked a brand of cigarettes known as Lucky Strikes; since then, he considers them a sort of "good luck charm."
Only I Can Kill Him: In ''MGS1, Snake is called back into action after his old unit, FOXHOUND, goes rogue and seizes a nuclear warhead disposal facility. Snake is selected for the mission due to his knowledge of FOXHOUND's inner workings, though Snake denies having any insight into those newfangled Genome Soldiers or weirdo shamans. It also helps that Snake shares the same face as the unit's leader, Liquid Snake.
Only Known by Their Nickname: He's only referred to by his real name of David twice in the entire series. Once in the ending of the original Metal Gear Solid when telling Meryl and/or Otacon it, and once in MGS4, when Big Mama calls him as such.
The Paragon Always Rebels: Sort of. It became somewhat clear that Solid Snake, after the Shadow Moses Incident, was willing to commit actions that would at the very least get people both foreign and domestic hateful of him enough to issue a bounty on his head, and then the Patriots were ticked off enough at him to try to orchestrate the sinking of a tanker in part to frame Solid Snake.
Perma Stubble: Which develops into a full mustache by the time of MGS4.
Perpetual Frowner: Snake lost the ability to laugh sometime between MGS1 and Sons of Liberty.
A bit humorous considering Big Boss, his father, wasn't into pop culture at all. His conversations with Para-Medic were her asking him if he had seen X movie, and him saying no.
Popularity Power: Like Big Boss, Snake's notoriety in-universe is a nod to his actual fanbase. In fact, even the games are canonical; Raiden has beaten VR versions of Outer Heaven, Zanzibar, Shadow Moses, the Tanker, and even Galuade.
Properly Paranoid: In MGS2's tanker chapter, Snake expresses vocal concern about his mission onboard the tanker, citing that it might be a trap, and also expressing genuine worry that the guards weren't undergoing enough SOP. He's right on both fronts, as the former was revealed to be true as a smear campaign against Philanthropy instigated by the Patriots, and the latter had the Gurlukovich Mercenaries (and later, Ocelot) killing the Marines with ease.
The Protagonist: In four canonical games (MG, MG2, MGS, MGS4), plus various non-canon sequels and spinoffs (Snake's Revenge, Ghost Babel and the original Acid). That's not even counting his "Snake vs. Monkey" minigame appearance (although they technically cheated on that one by using the Naked Snake model).
Resignations Not Accepted: Snake's actions in service of the CIA have assembled a phone book-thick dossier of war crimes which, if the U.S. government so chooses, could piledrive him into federal prison until he's a "very old man." Essentially, Campbell can revoke his retirement anytime he pleases, which he does. Twice.
Retired Badass: He's dragged out of retirement in Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid.
Scars Are Forever: Near the end of Act 3 of MGS4, Snake gets the entire left side of his face badly burned while saving Big Mama from being burnt along with "Big Boss's" body. The burn scars remain for the rest of the game.
Separated at Birth: With Liquid Snake. They were born in Carlsbad, New Mexico but Snake spent his childhood in Oregon while Liquid was moved to England shortly after their birth. They had similar upbringings though, both being raised in isolation and receiving extensive education and military trainng.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: His PTSD is so severe, he retires from FOXHOUND and retreats into the snowy mountains of Alaska. In MGS2, we see his flashbacks of Outer Heaven have been replaced by nightmares of Liquid Snake taunting him.
Shirtless Scene: He gets two: the first in the original Metal Gear Solid when he's captured by Liquid and Ocelot, and the second in MGS4 when Naomi has him undergo an extensive medical exam. The latter counts as Fan Disservice due in part to his Rapid Aging, and the mere sight of what is happening to him is enough to both horrify Naomi and move her to tears.
Shrouded in Myth: It seems like everyone who meets Snake for the first time has some sort of memetic badass picture of him.
Ironically, he actually tells Raiden not to smoke as it would "stunt his growth" in a Codec conversation. Even with trying to cover his identity (he was disguised as Pliskin, after all, to keep his "death" faked), the fact that he actually carried cigarettes around (he was the one who gave Raiden the cigarettes in the first place) would borderline Hypocritical Humor.
In MGS4, with all he goes through, by the time of the final act, he's coughing up his lungs and sucking on a breathing machine, and he's still asking for a cigarette. Definitely notcool.
Spanner in the Works: The reappearance of Snake does not make the Patriots happy, as the Big Shell scenario was intended for Raiden only.
Stomach of Holding: As mentioned above, he managed to smuggle his cigarettes in with him to Shadow Moses in his stomach, due to a shot that suppressed his stomach acids.
Suddenly Always Knew That: Snake has a tendency to break out a new skill when it's most needed (Hey, if Snake Plisskin could become an expert surfboarder in an instant...). He learned to rock climb and hang-glide just in time for Metal Gear 2. MGS1 reveals him to be a master of scuba diving (though he previously swam through a swamp to reach Outer Heaven, it didn't involve sub-zero water or a torpedo) and rappelling — two abilities he puts to use in the game. In MGS2, he even boasts to Stillman that he's an expert in bomb disposal.
He was trained in CQC by Big Boss, but (conveniently) never used it until after Snake Eater was released in stores, claiming he preferred not to copy the moves of his sworn enemy. Big Boss' fame in Metal Gear's world is proportionate to his popularity among gamers; hence, the enemy soldiers all use CQC because Big Boss' adventures are enjoying a revival, so Snake sensibly decides to fight fire with fire.
Super Soldier: Was a clone of Big Boss, and via the Super Baby Method he was one of two surviving fetuses in a method of abortions of the fetal growth.
He may also be a subversion of the trope. Metal Gear Solid repeatedly claims that one of Big Boss's clones was inferior to the original, to the other twin, and to Solidus. If this is true, then there's a strong chance that Solid Snake is the inferior clone.
Sympathy for the Devil: It's common for Snake to relate with his enemies during their post-Boss Battle dying speech. The best example is after his fight with Sniper Wolf: when Wolf declares herself to be nothing more than a dog for shaming her people and going along with Liquid's plan, Snake comforts her and assures her otherwise. It's ultimately subverted by the time of MGS4, where he's just too tired to care and explicitly tells Drebin not to expect him to feel sorry for the B&B Corps. Hilariously subverted in Metal Gear 2, a dying Running Man asks how Snake was able to defeat him with his speed. Snake in return asks "Maybe you weren't fast enough?" as he dies.
Technical Pacifist: He's considered the greatest warrior on Earth, but he's committed to preventing violence whenever he can and explicitly tells Raiden in MGS2 that, regardless of what he does it for, killing people is never right.
Too Much Information/Nausea Fuel: In MGS4, there's Snake's Codec call to Otacon while hiding in a trash can/dumpster. When Otacon asks Snake how he knows how it is where the household dumps their waste, Snake explains in full, such as it smelling bad from last night's leftovers from dinner, as well as bugs crawling around his face, apparently roaches, a lot of them, as well as something crawling up his leg, leaving Otacon completely grossed out by the end. When questioned by Otacon whether he even feels sick from this, Snake mentions that he's perfectly willing to even crawl into a toilet as long as it at least allows him to hide from the enemy effectively.
Trojan Prisoner: Had to undergo this in the original Metal Gear in order to locate the prison cell that Gray Fox was imprisoned inside.
He does a variation in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Namely, he gets Raiden captured, faking betrayal and allowing him to be brought before the Sons of Liberty in order to lessen security onboard Arsenal Gear. However, neither he nor his accomplice, Mr. X/Olga Gurlukovich, let Raiden in on the plan beforehand, presumably to ensure that Raiden's reaction was genuine, causing Raiden to be quite irritated at Snake afterwards.
Typhoid Mary: He carries the FOXDIE virus, engineered to kill the members of FOXHOUND as well as those involved in creating Metal Gear REX (i.e., the ArmsTech President Kenneth Baker). By the time of MGS4, it's stated that the FOXDIE Naomi injected him with was mutating and within at least three months would indiscriminately kill people left, right, and center, effectively turning Snake into a Person of Mass Destruction. Fortunately, a second strain of FOXDIE injected into him by Drebin cancels the first out, effectively stopping the outbreak before it starts.
The Unfavorite: Solid and Liquid were grown via the Super Baby Method, with six of their siblings being aborted to promote growth in the remaining two. Even hedging their bets, the Patriots ended up with only one satisfactory clone: Liquid. A third clone was later created, known as Solidus Snake, suggesting the Patriots really had no use for Solid as an insurance policy anymore, and he received sub-standard training as an adult. Regardless of his unspectacular genes, Snake surpassed Big Boss as well as his sons, proving once and for all that DNA does not determine one's fate.
Unwitting Pawn: Running back and forth to heat and cool the key card in what he thought was the REX deactivation routine. Being the vector of the FOXDIE virus may also count in another way.
We Do the Impossible: A legend in the black ops community, "The man who makes the impossible possible." He is remarkably blasé about entering the most fortified and advanced fortresses in human history armed with nothing but a pack of cigarettes. Snake Eater shows he inherited this attitude from his father.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, his fate is never conclusively addressed; during an optional Codec call, Raiden refers to Snake in the present tense, whereas Kevin refers to him in the past tense, effectively leaving his fate open for Kojima to decide what to do with him.
Willfully Weak: In the MGS universe, there are two somewhat distinct systems of fighting, Close Quarters Battle note General room-to-room combat strategy and threat suppression techniques and Close Quarters Combat note A variant of judo that emphasizes gaining control of a situation using hand-guns and hand-to-hand combat, with CQC being a more advanced and efficient art. Because CQC was Big Boss's signature, Snake refuses to use it and relies mostly on CQB until MGS4. This does however give him one advantage—since CQC relies on manipulating a target (preferably with a hand-gun and knife) where CQB revolves around threat suppression, practicing CQB makes Snake a deadlier opponent in a straight fight. The Final Boss of Metal Gear Solid 4 reflects this preference, as the game mechanics shift to a more combat focused style using moves from the first two Solid games rather than the "grab" system of CQC from the latter two.
Would Hit a Girl: If they're the enemy. Before his first boss fight with Sniper Wolf, he told Namoi he didn't want to see any woman die in front him, which may stem from seeing Gustava Heffner die in front of him in Metal Gear 2. When the B&B Corps. are defeated non-lethally, he takes the time to check their check their pulses before moving on to resume his current mission.
You Didn't Ask: He keeps a lot of info from Raiden, perhaps as a form of revenge for having to talk entirely in questions during the other games. One of the funnier gags in MGS2 is Raiden's growing incredulity at Snake not sharing what he knows.
Younger Than He Looks: An extremely tragic example of this: Because of his genes being tampered with during his creation, he starts looking like he is in his 80s in Metal Gear Solid 4 even when he is actually closer to being 42 years of age, and it is implied that he'll die by 43 at the latest.
Youngest Child Wins: Possibly inverted: As of Metal Gear Solid 4, he is the only one of the Les Enfants Terribles children who not only survived, but can live in peace for the rest of their lives, and he's the eldest of the children (or at the very least the middle child).
Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: It is implied when Snake reveals his true identity in Metal Gear Solid 2 that the organization that he founded, Philanthropy, committed actions that were comparable to terrorism during their raids on Metal Gear facilities. Unfortunately, this made it easy for the Patriots to frame him for the Tanker debacle.
"If the times demand it, we'll be revolutionaries, criminals, terrorists. And yes, we may all be headed straight to hell. But what better place for us than this? It is our only home. Our heaven and our hell. This is Outer Heaven."
In 1964, a man named John saves the world from nuclear Armageddon with a black ops unit named FOX. Along the way, he's forced to slay his teacher and adoptive mother, codenamed "The Boss". For his actions, he is christened "Big Boss" by the State Department and inherits his teacher's title of "The Greatest Warrior of The Twentieth Century".He later goes on to found the private military companies Militaires Sans Frontieres and Diamond Dogs, as well as the U.S. Army black ops group FOXHOUND. In the first Metal Gear game Big Boss secretly leads the uprising at Outer Heaven and sends FOXHOUND rookie Solid Snake to investigate it, not expecting that he will actually survive. In Metal Gear 2 Big Boss takes control of Zanzibar Land and kidnaps a scientist who developed an alternative fuel source. Solid Snake is sent in to rescue the scientist, and ultimately kills Big Boss with a makeshift flamethrower.While the Big Bad of the first two Metal Gear games, Big Boss's Character Development in his stints as a Player Character reveal him to also be a Tragic Hero.
The Ace: Considered this throughout MGS3, and his legend exploits this. He's good enough that losing an eye only leads to one instance of trouble with depth perception. Then he gets broken.
One of the said endearing traits includes believing in Santa Claus. Yes, the battle hardened soldier that turned his back on his country and founded his own army without borders...believes in Santa Claus.
An Arm and a Leg: The same skirmish which placed Big Boss in a coma also cost him his left arm. He wears prosthetics of varying complexity in The Phantom Pain.
Anti-Hero: During his younger days, he was trying to make the world a better place, even if it meant fighting and killing on the battlefield to do so. And even after becoming extremely disillusioned at the end of Snake Eater, he nonetheless keeps trying to do the right thing.
Anti-Villain: After the Big Bad of the series, Cipher, aka the Patriots, destroys his unit and nearly kills him in the 1970s, Big Boss becomes willing to murder, kidnap and torture even non-combatants to get to the group. Eventually, he even threatens the world with a nuclear weapon.
Archnemesis Dad: Fights one of his own sons, Solid Snake, in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. Liquid is immensely jealous, having wanted to kill Big Boss for years, and Solidus was likely thinking along similar lines.
Bad Liar: During the Peace Walker incident, whenever confronted in regards to why Big Boss is in Costa Rica, he always comes up with a lie about why he's there, a lie that's very easy to pick apart. These include:
Claiming that he was a Colombian bird photographer when meeting Amanda and the FSLN (which, not only is his camera not even set right, but when he rescues Chico, he actually slips up and calls himself a War Photographer, to which he says in a somewhat unsure tone to cover up his mistake that he takes pictures of "the birds at the battlefield.")
Claiming that he's an Entymologist, and that he's looking for the Ulysses butterfly, and then corrects himself to mean the Morphos butterfly when Huey points out that Ulysses butterflies are not present in Costa Rica, and claims that he is trying to get some for the CITES Washington Treaty before being told that they aren't covered in the treaty.
Claiming that he's an Ornithologist and that he was looking for the Quetzal for the CITES Washington Treaty.
Bag of Spilling: A rival military outfit, the XOF, takes out Mother Base, along with Big Boss' entire arsenal. Big Boss lands in a nine-year coma after this incident, which strips away his muscle mass. When he finally comes to, he's so weak that he has to literally crawl his way out of the hospital.
Been There, Shaped History: In MGS3 he, along with Sigint and Major Zero, came up with the American classification for the dreaded Mi-35 (the "Hind D"), and he was also the one who came up with the cardboard box trick that Snake and Raiden made frequent use of. With the help of Kazuhira Miller, he also founded the world's first private military companies.
Benevolent Boss: There's a reason why his followers have genuine undying loyalty to Big Boss.
Blood Knight: One of his primary reasons for creating Outer Heaven, and later, Zanzibar Land, was to give him and his soldiers a place where they can go to war endlessly, due to the fact that he only ever felt truly alive when fighting in a war. He did originally intend and, more importantly, attempted to live his life peacefully after Operation Snake Eater (namely as an instructor or a hunting guide), but he ended up dragged back onto the battlefield.
Book Ends: MGS3 ended with Big Boss saluting the Boss at her grave, thus beginning his Start of Darkness, while MGS4 ended with him saluting the Boss once more in his death throes.
Chronologically, the whole series begins and ends with him smoking a cigar.
Break the Cutie: He was a fairly nice guy who wanted nothing more than to serve his country. Operation Snake Eater changed that, and turned him into a bitter and angry shell of a man. Losing an eye and killing your old mentor (who never even betrayed her country) will do that to you. Granted, he kept some of his quirks as well as a strong sense of morality, but...
Breakout Character: While Big Boss has always been an important character to the series since the very first MSX game, it wasn't until the debut of his younger self (Naked Snake) that he gradually began taking the role of the series' protagonist away from his clone son Solid Snake. Having already starred in four prequels (Snake Eater, Portable Ops, Peace Walker, and Ground Zeroes), plus the upcoming The Phantom Pain, the amount of canonical Metal Gear games starring Big Boss matches the amount starring Solid Snake.
Broken Pedestal/Repaired Pedestal: The Boss becomes the former to him after her defection, only to become the latter after he discovers that it was all part of a big Government Conspiracy to get rid of her. The U.S. government becomes one to him and stays a broken one because of it, though he retains some respect for his country. At the end of Peace Walker, he denounces the Boss as a fraud for laying down her gun and embracing peace, but still tries to enforce his interpretation of her will and honor her memory and at the very end of Metal Gear Solid 4, considers himself to be "already dead" since he killed her.
Also, he apparently has a tendency to misunderstand exactly how some items are considered valuable to most people in other ways besides battle.
In Portable Ops, in a conversation with Para-Medic, Para-Medic explains about El Dorado and that even though it technically doesn't exist, there is evidence to suggest that there were similar civilizations that used gold even in the present, and mentioned that they used gold knives. Snake expressed interest in the knives, although not in regards to its value as much as using the knife to distract the enemy so he could CQC them into submission, with Para-Medic exasperatedly explaining that she wasn't meaning that.
In Peace Walker, Paz explains to Big Boss about the Stone Spheres in Costa Rica, where it is not known what they were used for, but Big Boss guesses that he could use them for a trap, and that being nearly perfect spheres would make them perfect for rolling down slopes, causing Paz to express shock at what Big Boss is implying.
Though all of that is perfectly in character for Big Boss as in Metal Gear 2, he claims that personal wealth doesn't mean anything to him, war is the only thing that has ever satisfied him. He doesn't look at those things in terms of how valuable they would be because money doesn't have any intrinsic value to him; money is nothing more than a means to an end, namely funding his ability to wage war.
At several points, he didn't seem to understand much about sexual orientations. Notable examples include when he calls EVA about Raikov, to which, despite EVA's not-so-subtle hints that Raikov was homosexual, Naked Snake seemed completely oblivious and didn't seem to know what EVA was talking about (at one point, he even misconstrues her hints as believing that she formerly dated Raikov yet he broke up with her), expressing confusion to Para-Medic's suggestion that he use the Raikov mask to shake up Volginnote Volgin's bisexual and in a relationship with Raikov, and he also seemed slightly taken aback and confused when Cecile reveals that Strangelove, her captor, seemed to be a lesbian and have a romantic fascination with the same sex. Pretty much the only one where Snake seemed to have any clue about was heterosexuality, going by his reaction to some of EVA's comments.
Charles Atlas Superpower: Big Boss' superior soldier genes apparently have some mutant healing factor thrown in for good measure, since he's able to still move around after breaking his legs twenty times as long as he's put splints on them.
Child Soldier: Portable Ops implied that Naked Snake had participated in the battlefield while he was still very young. He was also a member of the Green Berets (a special forces group) and a veteran of the Korean War as early in his twenties; however, Peace Walker gives his age as 39 by late 1974, so the only known way he could join a special forces group and be a veteran of the Korean War (assuming the former actually preceded the latter) is if he joined the military at a really young age.
Cigar Chomper: He picked up the habit from The Boss, who was known to smoke them.
Combat Pragmatist: Going by the scene where Naked Snake first enters Dolinovodno during the Virtuous Mission, Snake has absolutely no problems with shooting down a hornet’s nest that's directly above a KGB soldier if it meant passing by undetected.
This habit annoys Ocelot, who protests if Snake shoots the hornet nest or flings grenades during their fight. "Fight fair!", he whines.
Notably, he had no problem brandishing an automatic weapon (the Patriot, perhaps?) against a totally-unarmed and wounded Solid Snake. He still lost.
Covered with Scars: Admits to this in Snake Eater, and Volgin acknowledges this in his torture scene. With the new Fox Engine graphics in The Phantom Pain, he is clearly shown to have quite a few facial scars.
Crazy-Prepared: In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, he apparently wised up to the two priorcaptures he endured, and fashioned a fake snake-shaped scar as a means to smuggle in a jigsaw which he can use to cut the lock off in the event that he did end up captured and didn't have an alternate means of escape.
Dark Messiah: Witness the unlimited sway he holds over thousands of troops across the globe, and it's clear how dangerous this man can be if pushed too far.
He pretty much begs Dr. Strangelove to torture him to death in Peace Walker.
The lyrics to "Heavens Divide" from Peace Walker seem to indicate he wishes for death so he can rejoin The Boss.
When Heavens Divide Time will come, to softly lay me down Then I can see her face, that I long to see
Defector from Decadence: Ultimately, a solider (no matter how legendary) is just a tool, something to be used and then readily replaced. Big Boss lost some respect for his native land after he learned that The Boss was in fact innocent of defection and that the US Government cast her aside because of an unanticipated factor involving Volgin and a nuclear weapon. This was a major impetus for Big Boss founding a Spartan-esque 'nation of soldiers.'
Eventually, he ended up leaving the Patriots after Zero had Big Boss cloned without his knowledge or his consent.
Deuteragonist: Of the whole series. He's got the second-most playable appearances (4) after Snake, and still plays a major role behind the scenes in the few games he doesn't appear in.
Disappeared Dad: Intentionally remained out of the lives of Snake, Liquid, and Solidus, due to not considering them sons. He did personally mentor Snake when he joined FOXHOUND, and informed him of their relationship before Snake "killed" him, but there is no evidence to suggest that he ever met Liquid or Solidus.
Don't Call Me Sir: For at least ten years after the events of Snake Eater, he preferred to go by the codename Naked Snake or just Snake rather than Big Boss. He embraced the title at the end of Peace Walker, only to cast it off once more in The Phantom Pain in favor of Venom Snake.
Dramatically Missing the Point: When the Peace Walker weapon, powered by an AI patterned after The Boss's personality and memories, drowns itself rather than risk nuclear war, Big Boss is irritated and declares it as proof that The Boss betrayed him and everything that a soldier should stand for.
Evil Counterpart: To Solid Snake. Their lives mirror each other, they faced very similar hardships, betrayals, and formed powerful friendships. But Snake was able to overcome his pain and does forgive his friends for betraying him due to circumstance beyond their power and not succumb into a Face-Heel Turn, while Big Boss' allies (Zero, Para-Medic, Signit, Paz, and eventually Kaz) has done the same, He became a villain. Lampshaded by Big Boss himself, who says that if Snake was put into the same situations he was in, Snake wouldn't have made the same mistakes.
Extreme Omnivore: The first question he asks of any wildlife in Snake Eater is how it tastes, assuming he even waits to call Para-Medic before eating it.
Eye Scream: He is well-known for having an eyepatch, so players can expect him to lose an eye at some point during Snake Eater. The scene comes when he is being tortured by Volgin, although it ends up being a Double Subversion. Volgin orders The Boss to take out his eyes, and she very nearly does, but is stopped at the last minute by EVA/Tatyana. Ocelot is then threatening EVA with three revolvers, loaded with a single bullet. Snake jumps in to push him out of the way, but ends up on the receiving end of a shot. However, it wasn't even a bullet that cost him his eye - the cornea was burnt out from the muzzle flash.
Fake Ultimate Hero: Zigzagged. According to MGS4, Zero and the Patriots actually exaggerated most of Big Boss' reputation to cement his status as their icon, though the feats he pulls off during the prequels (particularly in Peace Walker) calls this into question.
Friend to All Children: Before Snake Eater, the only clue we had to Big Boss' kinder side was his adoption of war orphans from across the globe. He and his surrogate son, Frank Jaeger, formed a 'family' of sorts with one of their charges, a girl who would grow up to assume the identity of Naomi Hunter.
In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Snake can converse with Big Boss' children who appear throughout Zanzibar. Ominously, one orphan mentions that their father "doesn't like adults", alluding to Big Boss' hatred of the world's politicians.
The Generalissimo: With the U.S. believing him dead, Big Boss took over the third world backwater of Zanzibar Land sometime in the late nineties. His sprite wears the official beret of Zanzibar's troops, but his fatigues are green rather than tan.
Handicapped Badass: You know his accomplishments in Snake Eater? Well, it was strongly implied that he hadn't even fully recovered from the injuries he sustained during the Virtuous Mission, which included a broken arm, lacerations, and a broken rib, during that time, not to mention losing an eye during the course of said mission and still accomplishing it. Furthermore, in Metal Gear Solid V, he loses his left arm.
He's also apparently able to aim with his missing eye. How? Because he's Big Boss.
He Who Fights Monsters: After twenty years of protecting earth from sci-fi warmongers with bottomless bank accounts, Big Boss fancies becoming one himself. Of course, the same could be said for the rest of the FOX unit, too.
Heel Realization: If the line from the E3 trailer of The Phantom Pain is any indication:
Big Boss: "Kaz... I'm already a demon."
He's Just Hiding: In-universe. Not that he had much of a choice, though, given the fact that he was injected with will-subduing nanomachines shortly after being recovered from Zanzibar Land by the Patriots.
Heroes Love Dogs: In an optional Codec call with Para-Medic in MGS3, he reveals that he's a fan of dog-sledding.
Hijacked by Ganon: Snake is called into Zanzibar to rescue Dr. Marv and prevent his formula from being turned against the United States. FOXHOUND is initially unaware of Big Boss' hand in the kidnapping.
Hook Hand: What he initially has as a left hand prosthetic in The Phantom Pain.
Horned Humanoid: During The Phantom Pain, he gets a chunk of debris and bone lodged in his forehead, which takes on this appearance.
Honor Before Reason: In Portable Ops, he refused to kill a helpless Null in his culture tank because he couldn't defend himself.
Horrible Judge of Character: He's greatly underestimated people in regards to a task twice, which has led to disastrous consequences for himself and others:
In Peace Walker, he allowed Chico to try to sell a photo of the Chrysalis and pass it off as a UFO photograph because he believed that Chico wouldn't actually be able to. The end result was that Chico successfully sell a Chrysalis photograph to a tabloid magazine in Grenada, to which Sir Eric Gairy, Grenada's prime minister at the time, read it, and believing it as well as various rumors about various cattle mutilations and abductions being reported across the Americas that were suspected to be the result of the CIA Peace Sentinels activities, requested for the UN to set up a research facility to investigate aliens, which also nearly got the Prime Minister targeted by the CIA.
A more notable example is during the Outer Heaven Uprising: he sent Solid Snake out to Outer Heaven firmly convinced that Snake, being just a rookie agent, wouldn't get very far. We all know how that ended for Big Boss.
Human Popsicle: For the duration of the MGS games. His frozen remains serve as a MacGuffin for the Genome Soldiers.
I Have Many Names: Sniper Wolf knows him as "Saladin", a high honor in the middle east. He has also gone by the name Naked Snake, John Doe, and Jack. The Phantom Pain adds Venom Snake to the list.
If I Wanted You Dead...: When he reappears at the Boss's grave after Snake's attempted suicide in MGS4, Snake thinks he's come back to settle the score and reloads, a thought supported by the fact that he's brandishing the Boss's Patriot machine gun. After a brief Mexican Standoff, Big Boss casually drops the gun, disarms Snake, and embraces him in a combination Cooldown Hug/Final First Hug, softly reassuring his last living son that he didn't come all this way to pick a fight.
Insistent Terminology: He's known as "Big Boss" after Operation Snake Eater, but the marketing for the series consistently refers to him as "Snake". While this is justified in the earlier installments, where he considers the title a Medal of Dishonor and a source of internal conflict, it becomes increasingly confounding as the series goes on and he embraces the title. This becomes particularly noticeable in Ground Zeroes, where the game introduces him as "Snake", and even refers to him as "a former hero once known by the code name 'Big Boss'", when the reverse is true, and the only times he's referred to as "Snake" is when receiving certain orders and the game over sequence.
Knife Nut: Big Boss is very handy with a hunting knife. A firm stab will gut his opponent, or he can dice them up with skillful slashes. For a showy death, Big Boss can use CQC to slit their throats. In Peace Walker, he swaps out the knife for a non-lethal stun rod.
Knight in Sour Armor: He was pretty idealistic, even if he was just operating under orders, until the end of Operation Snake Eater. After that his view of the world and the world's governments was drastically altered for the worse.
Kung-Fu Jesus: Big Boss has some overtones of a Messiah. His reappearance in the graveyard of MGS4 marks both his Resurrection and Second Coming as he prevents Snake's suicide and casually switches off Lucifer (Zero).
Luke, I Am Your Father: This does not actually happen during Solid Snake, but is rather a retcon introduced in MGS1. Snake only shared this revelation with Campbell, but it's an open secret amongst Liquid's faction.
Made of Iron: In the original Metal Gear, the guy took 4 propelled rockets to the chest before collapsing, and somehow survived the nuclear explosion that engulfed Outer Heaven. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and all of the prequels expand upon this to hilariously absurd levels.
Magnetic Hero: Big Boss builds an army from scratch; Cipher blows them all to hell; Big Boss sets about building another, bigger one.
Three of Solid Snake's former allies, Grey Fox, Kyle Schneider, and Dr. Madnar, all defected to Big Boss' side in the wake of MG1. Grey Fox stayed with him out of filial and professional loyalty; Kyle was moved by how Big Boss remained behind in Outer Heaven to help the refugees (after NATO callously bombed the ruins).
Man on Fire: Snake immolates him at the end of Metal Gear 2, resulting in a messy death. The Patriots immediately extracted his remains and put them on ice, setting the stage for MGS1.
Manly Tears: Shedding them is one of the very last things he does.
Meaningful Name: "Big Boss" is kind of a giveaway, isn't it? (His Japanese name is "Tai-pan", a clever double meaning; it's shorthand for "big shot" or "boss" in corporate culture, but taipan is also a type of snake.)
Meaningful Rename: After everything he goes through in The Phantom Pain, he dubs himself "Venom Snake."
Made even more so when it is later made apparent that the reason that The Boss had to die didn't even to do with saving America's face and that a certain member of the American Government wanted her offed from the start, and actually manipulated the events of the ending of the Virtuous Mission just so there could be an excuse to send Naked Snake in to kill The Boss.
Mole in Charge: He was leading both FOXHOUND and Outer Heaven during the 1990s. However, given what happened in Peace Walker, it's unknown how he was even able to hide his loyalties or ties to Outer Heaven in the first place, especially after Zero already knew about Big Boss's leadership of Outer Heaven, and attempted to gain control of it before eventually deciding to frame them with a nuclear strike on the US via an agent of Cipher due to Big Boss's refusal.
My Greatest Failure: He views the killing of The Boss, his mentor and friend who taught him everything he ever knew as a soldier, and then going on to fight for causes that she never would have believed in as his greatest failure. He goes so far as to claim after that point he was already dead emotionally. At the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 as he stands above her grave, Big Boss proclaims to his son that if their roles had been reversed, he probably wouldn't have made the same mistakes and that he still has a chance to do things better than he ever had.
No Sell: Throughout Snake Eater, Eva (a highly trained spy and seductress) keeps coming on to him in increasingly direct ways, and he usually just flat-out ignores her. This turns out to have thematic resonance, as she points out, she was the deceiving "Eve" who tempted the "Snake".
Not Quite Dead: As revealed in ''MGS4'', he actually survived his final showdown with Solid Snake at Zanzibar, albeit barely.
Parental Substitute: Was this to Sniper Wolf, Gray Fox, and Naomi Hunter. Ironically, Snake viewed him as this before Big Boss revealed that he was actually his father.
The Promise: Just before he dies in MGS4, he asks Snake to live out what little time he has left to live in peace and not to waste it fighting. Snake promises to do so, deciding to finally quit smoking as the first step.
Properly Paranoid: Naked Snake mentions his being exposed to the Bravo Shot atomic blast in 1954. He mentions that while he hasn't shown any symptoms, he suspects that symptoms will pop up sooner or later in his life. This was later confirmed when he was revealed to have been made sterile as a result of the event.
Protagonist Journey to Villain: At the beginning of his story, Big Boss is, essentially, as green and naive as Solid Snake was during the original MSX Metal Gear. His exploits in the prequels (Snake Eater, Portable Ops, Peace Walker, and finally The Phantom Pain) all lead to him eventually becoming the Big Bad of the original two Metal Gear games, with The Phantom Pain reducing him to a revenge-driven, self-confessed "demon." However, his speech at the end of Peace Walker arguably cements his role as the future villain:
"We will forsake our countries. We will leave our motherlands behind us and become one with this earth. We have no nation, no philosophy, no ideology. We go where we're needed, fighting not for country, not for government, but for ourselves. We need no reason to fight. We fight because we are needed. We will be the deterrent for those with no other recourse. We are soldiers without borders, our purpose defined by the era we live in. We will sometimes have to sell ourselves and services. If the times demand it, we'll be revolutionaries, criminals, terrorists. And yes, we may all be headed straight to Hell. But what better place for us than this? It is our only home. Our Heaven and Our Hell. This is Outer Heaven."
Real Men Wear Pink: He likes wearing the "Oyama" face paint and doesn't mind the GA-KO camo, even asking "What's wrong with being cute?" and also molded a piece of C3 into a butterfly, albeit more as a reference to a previous scene.
Ret Canon: The twist at the end of Snake's Revenge has Big Boss revealing himself to be a cyborg. While this is touched upon lightly in Metal Gear 2, where a character mentions that Big Boss might had gotten cybernetic implants after the events of the Outer Heaven incident, not much importance is given after that. But now comes the upcoming Phantom Pain, which reveals that not only did Big Boss lose his left arm decades before Outer Heaven, he had it replaced with a cybernetic one.
Scars Are Forever: Subverted in Peace Walker. It initially seemed like he cut himself a scar in the shape of The Boss's scar, but it is later revealed to be faked, having placed a jigsaw on his person by disguising it as a scar in case he got captured.
Alluded to in Metal Gear 2 when he's quite candid with Snake about the nightmares soldiers suffer from their experiences. Big Boss explains to Snake that those nightmares never go away, those feelings are ingrained into a soldier and will always be a part of them; in the same way the killer instincts that drive soldiers to desire more conflict are equally as ingrained, and there is no way to exorcise these demons, therefore the only sane solution is to embrace them.
Still Wearing The Old Colors: In Portable Ops, Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes, each one of his uniforms still bears a FOX unit logo. Justified in Portable Ops in that his sneaking suit has been stolen from FOX. In some of the newer Phantom Pain trailers, he wears an MSF patch with his Diamond Dogs one.
This is brought up by Snake in MGS4 when Otacon asks why Meryl is still wearing a FOXHOUND patch on her uniform when FOXHOUND no longer exists. Snake's response is that some soldiers like to keep patches, or other mementos like maybe a tattoo, to remind themselves of their old units out of some leftover fondness or loyalty they may have to those memories. This implies that Big Boss has some attachment to his old unit.
Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Just look at his images, as each game in the prequel game progresses, Big Boss becomes a darker character, eventually turning into a self proclaimed "Demon" in the Phantom Pain.
The Stool Pigeon: Inversion of the Lacerated Larry type in Peace Walker. He remained silent about the truth behind his killing of The Boss outside of the official story of her betraying the United States when Strangelove tortured him. Unfortunately, his remaining silent on the issue is exactly how Strangelove managed to deduce the truth behind her final mission.
Shrouded in Myth: Big Boss literally has no identity, making him a perfect candidate for FOX. Even "John" is suggested to be yet another alias. MGS4 suggests that the Patriots actually exaggerated a good portion of his reputation to cement his status as their icon.
Start of Darkness: Got to experience how disposable soldiers are to the world first hand during Operation Snake Eater, and it played a large part in motivating him to create Outer Heaven, a place where soldiers would be honored rather than thrown to the side.
Super Strength: Implied in Peace Walker, where Big Boss was capable of lifting up a sealed garage door to gain entry to Peace Walker's hangar twice with his own bare hands, and, at least in gameplay, bench-pressing even Cocoon.
That Thing Is Not My Child!: Played with. When he found out that Zero had Para-Medic clone him without his knowledge or consent, that was the final straw: he left the Patriots for good. Nonetheless, he respected Solid Snake as a person and fellow warrior.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Prefers to simply tranquilize or knock out enemies rather than kill them unless killing is the only option.
Trademark Favorite Food: Used to express a one-track interest regarding eating the many animals he came across during Operation Snake Eater, but Snakes stuck out as a particular favorite to the point where he reacted with confusion when hearing about Snakes being imported as pets, not food.
Tragic Keepsake: He keeps wearing The Boss's bandanna, which he snatched from her head during the Virtuous Mission, for ten years. After watching the Peace Walker AI weapon drown itself in the ocean, he finds some closure to the event at last and casts it off to the winds.
Training from Hell: It's strongly implied that he underwent this when under The Boss's tutelage and when joining FOX. In regards to the former, she tells Volgin (who at the time was electrocuting him with electric shocks that was said by him to be around ten million volts) that it wouldn't break him as she trained him not to, and in the case of the latter, Cunningham stated that his attempts at beating him wouldn't even qualify as torture to Snake due to his former FOX membership.
Unfortunate Name: Although his original codename, Naked Snake, referred to the fact that he infiltrated Tselinoyarsk with minimal equipment and weapons during the Virtuous Mission, Miller makes fun of him by jokingly implying that Snake went into missions completely nude.
Villain with Good Publicity: Up until his plans for Outer Heaven are stopped by Solid Snake. However, in MGS4, his popularity skyrockets once more after the Patriots de-classify all files relating to his past exploits, including Operation Snake Eater, much to Snake's annoyance.
War for Fun and Profit: The ethos behind Outer Heaven. Big Boss' objective was to give soldiers without a home someplace to belong, as well as an escape from Cipher/The Patriots' umbrella. As Big Boss happened across war orphans during his travels, he began integrating child soldiers into his army too. His intentions were benevolent, but Outer Heaven set the stage for a perpetual war machine, which The Sons of Big Boss and Desperado later accelerated.
We Can Rebuild Him: After his death, EVA recovered his body and patched it up using parts of Liquid's and Solidus's corpses.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Given the horrific nature of Cipher's actions, Big Boss was justified in wanting to destroy them. He just went too far.
Wrote the Book: Co-invented CQC with The Boss, and invented the use of the tactical cardboard box as a hiding place. He even originated the very idea of the "Stealth Mission" — hence, the Metal Gear franchise owes its existence to this man. Zero pitched the idea after hearing about The Boss' war stories; the Stealth Mission is actually a modified version of what The Boss termed "Snatch" missions, wherein an agent is sent to extract a VIP. Obviously, these missions ruled out a full-on assault or tripping alarms since the hostage would instantly be killed. Virtuous Mission (a Snatch Mission) and Operation Snake Eater (a Sneaking Mission) were intended as test drives, to convince the higher-ups at Langley to marry spies and soldiers into a single unit.
You Have No Chance to Survive: When he confronts Snake in Zanzibar, the agent has just emerged from a fire, lost all of his gear, and is utterly defenseless. Snake still refuses Big Boss's offer of a quick death. Big Boss can only marvel at his audacity.
Big Boss: In such a situation, with no weapon, against me? Snake: Never give up. Always believe you will succeed, even when the odds are against you. ...Those are your words. Big Boss: Even I make mistakes from time to time.
You Kill It, You Bought It: His codenames, "Snake" and "Big Boss", both stem from his assignment to kill the Boss and her Cobra Unit.
The original bipedal Metal Gear, ZEKE, is created using parts borrowed from Cipher: the rocket boosters from Pupa, the radome and railgun from Chrysalis, the armor from Cocoon, and the legs from Peace Walker, along with detachable heads from all four.
Peace Walker and Pupa utilize the same type of missile launcher and augers as the Shagohod, respectively. It could be said that each of Big Boss' battle trophies now comprise the standard Metal Gear design.
"We're not tools of the government or anyone else. Fighting was the only thing... the only thing I was good at, but... at least I always fought for what I believed in."
Gray Fox is the only member of FOXHOUND ever to receive the Code Name of Fox, and not without good reason. Born to German/American and Vietnamese parents, Frank Jaeger had to grow up in harsh conditions. Originally a child soldier, he was one of the deadliest people on earth at just the tender age of eleven. Frank was rescued by Big Boss, who tried to leave him at a relief shelter where he could be safe, but he ended up getting abducted by the CIA/the Philosophers so they could turn him into the perfect soldier, codenamed Null.After a series of complicated events, he ends up supporting Big Boss and Zanzibar Land, and then nearly dies, and is turned into the Cyborg Ninja. As the Ninja, Fox helps his old buddy Solid Snake one last time in Shadow Moses to take down Metal Gear REX in the events of Metal Gear Solid.
Already Done for You: The Cyborg Ninja leaves quite a mess behind. On the plus side, he eradicates all enemies in the basement of the warhead storage building, and his magnetic field shorts out the door locks on Otacon's office.
Anti-Hero: Type V in Solid, where he is motivated purely by his desire for a fight to the death with Snake. He winds up as a Type III by the end, choosing to die for something he believes in by saving his old friend.
Anti-Villain: Type III in Metal Gear 2, where he defects because of his loyalty to Big Boss and mistreatment at the hands of the US government, not because of any misplaced anger. He even sends Snake anonymous support to apologise for his role in the conflict.
Ascended Extra: Given Fox's major role in both Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid, and the way Snake talks about him in later games as if Fox was some sort of mentor during the Outer Heaven incident, it's very surprising at how little Fox actually does in the first Metal Gear. He gets kidnapped, Snake rescues him, and he disappears for the rest of the game. The player can even kill Fox before untying him, which has no real effect in the outcome of the story outside of demoting Snake's rank by one star.
Brainwashed and Crazy: The method of his training as Null was placing him within a memory/emotion depriving tank, and presumably left without free will as a result.
Child Soldier: Most of his origin story entails this, as early as someone working at a work camp in the early stages of the Vietnam War to as late as being deployed in the Mozambician War of Independence and later experimented upon.
Combat Sadomasochist: "Hurt me more, Snake!" Justified, as he wants to die especially after he was denied the chance to die by Dr. Clark and instead put through the Cyborg Ninja project, and preferably die a painful death of fighting.
Cyber Cyclops: His helmet does have eye slits, but the big orange light in between draws most of the attention.
Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: By the time he is a Cyborg Ninja, he "should be dead" but is kept alive through prosthetics, though it really seems to cause him more suffering than just dying would. Being a guinea pig for dozens of cybernetic and gene therapy experiments probably didn't help either.
Cyborg: What he unwillingly became between MG2 and MGS, thanks to Dr. Clark.
Death by Disfigurement: In Metal Gear Solid, he dies just after losing an arm. He didn't die from the injury, however, but by gettingstomped (repeatedly) by Metal Gear.
Death Seeker: In Solid, he just wants Snake to put him out of his misery. Liquid is only too happy to oblige.
Known Only by Their Nickname: Variation. Gray Fox is often identified by that name rather than "Frank Jaegar." However, Frank Jaegar is also not even his real name, as it was actually given to him by his comrades in FREMILO in reference to his means of killing soldiers (he acted as a frank young boy, yet then killed them with the ferocity of a hunter when the soldiers let their guard down). His real name (as in: birth given name) is unknown.
Legacy Character: Not him, but the Cyborg Ninja, which would go on to become this. Mr. X/Olga Gurlukovich is the Ninja in MGS2, and Raiden becomes one in MGS4, and retains it for MGR.
Man in the Machine: His organic body is grafted surgically to his robotic exoskeleton, and he has to constantly take anti-rejection drugs or suffer extreme pain. It's artistic license on Kojima's part, though.note In Real Life people had to take anti-rejection drugs when they have the organic transplants that don't perfectly match their antibody profiles and are thus rejected by their immune systems. That's why the transplants from the close relatives are usually preferred — there's less immunologic differences. In case of the cybernetic implants on the other hand the only thing to worry is the matter of allergy and biological compatibility. There's plenty of such materials, one of which, titanium, actually has one of the best strength/weight ratios known.
Meaningful Name: His surname is German for Hunter, as in Naomi Hunter's older brother, and is in itself derived from a common tactic he employed as a child soldier by stabbing the Portuguese soldiers with a single knife when they let their guard down.
Even Gray Fox has significant meaning to it. The code name is treated as a rank, and it aligns with Big Boss's "Naked Snake" code name; both men were named after their mentor's former unit, implicitly being regarded as dangerous as an entire Badass Army.
Also, his codename during MPO was Null, which is the German word for Zero and is meant to exemplify that he was a lost number in an unethical CIA project for creating the Perfect Soldier, due to being the Sole Survivor and Sole Success of the project.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: He didn't truly defect from America until after Operation Intrude N313, but it was made very clear that he was very sore about his country well beforehand due to their denying his lover Gustava Heffner U.S. Citizenship, forcing her into being deported, and thus being responsible for all the heck she has to endure back at her country.
My Hero Zero: He is known as Null in his youth during MPO (Null is German for Zero).
My Master, Right or Wrong: Justified due to Big Boss saving his life twice (arguably three, if one does not count Vietnam and counts the two times he saved him in Portable Ops).
Nietzsche Wannabe: While he was under the persona of Null, Gray Fox indicated that he saw no point in life, feeling that even if he doesn't kill anyone, they still die anyways, and remarks that the world is "full of death."
Obi-Wan Moment: "Snake, we're not tools of the the government or anyone else. Fighting was the only thing... the only thing I was good at... but at least I always fought for what I believed in. Snake... farewell."
Psycho Prototype: Kind of. While not quite a prototype, it is known that he was the only successful test subject in the Perfect Soldier Project, as most of the other test subjects died from the procedure.
Redemption Equals Death: An interesting case, since he wants to die, but believes that only a fight to the death with Snake will do. It isn't until his Heroic Sacrifice that he's finally allowed to rest in peace.
Retcon: His origin story in Portable Ops contradicts the original origin in Metal Gear 2. In Metal Gear 2, Gray Fox states that he first met Big Boss in Vietnam, where he was working in a labor camp as a half-white war orphan. In Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Naked Snake says he first met Gray Fox in Mozambique. Should also be noted that the official Metal Gear Solid 4 database doesn't even mention the former.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Fits the bill: He needs war despite clearly not liking it, has been through war enough times that he cannot function in society, and is also implied to suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
Unexplained Recovery: Subverted: While he did ultimately survive Zanzibar Land, he also was recovered by a cleanup crew belonging to the Patriots and was experimented on by turning him into a cyborg ninja, and the process was heavily implied to be quite horrific and very, very painful. In fact, not only was he used as a guinea pig for the Cyborg Ninja project, but also the gene-therapy project as well, and had to be sedated with drugs for four months as they experimented on him. Also, at least two instances where Gray Fox encountered Snake before his final hurrah, he also spazzed out and seemed in pain, with the second time screaming for medicine as he was losing himself.
Dr. Pettrovich Madnar
Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar was a Russian scientist responsible for the creation of the TX-55 Metal Gear and its successor Metal Gear D.
The Ghost: He repairs Raiden's cyborg body in Guns Of The Patriots, but he isn't actually seen or heard.
Evil Brit: He was formerly a member of the Special Air Service regiment within Great Britain.
More Dakka: His weapon of choice is a machine gun.
A mercenary at Outer Heaven.
All Germans Are Nazis: Subverted: He was a member of Outer Heaven and of German origin, but he was in fact a former member of the anti-terrorist German police division GSG9, which was created as a way to deal against terrorist threats without worrying about becoming another Nazi Germany.
The leader of the Outer Heaven Resistance. Returns in Metal Gear 2, having defected to Zanzibar Land.
Because You Were Nice to Me: Joins up with Big Boss because he saved them from being killed in Outer Heaven's self-destruction even though he was technically Big Boss's enemy at the time.
Lost In Transmission: He ends up being silenced before he could report to Snake who the leader of Outer Heaven was.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Part of the reason why he defected to Zanzibar Land dealt with this trope, as most of his resistance was killed by NATO in an air raid, with them not even caring because they were war orphans and war refugees, and he himself was severely injured and experimented upon.
Shout-Out: The original name for his ninja getup was Black Color, which was a round-trip translation of the name Blackcollar (the title of a novel about space ninjas) from English to Japanese and back to English.
Trope Maker: The technical originator of the "Cyborg Ninja" trend in Metal Gear, where previously appearing allies would be reintroduced as antagonists or slightly more morally ambiguous allies later on. Although, as clarified below, he's not a cyborg.
Unexplained Recovery: He ends up returning as an enhanced ninja (not a Cyborg Ninja, that comes later with Gray Fox).
You Killed My Father: His main motivation for creating the resistance was because his wife and child were killed in an incident not revealed other than it involving Outer Heaven.