The main character of the franchise, Sam is a former navy SEAL who is recruited by his best friend Irving Lambert in 2004 to be the first Splinter Cell. Over the next several years he stops multiple world crises, prevents the outbreak of World War III, and shuts down numerous terrorist groups before going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against elements of the U.S. government that betrayed him. As of Blacklist, he is put in charge of Forth Echelon.
Expy: Many fans have noted that Sam Fisher has a lot in common with another Tom Clancy character, John Clark. Both are ex-Navy SEALs who went on to become intelligence operatives, both are willing to resort to killing and torture to get the job done, and they even have similar personalities and dark senses of humor. Chaos Theory had him compared to Batman given his sneaking and striking from the dark and Conviction with it's heavy emphasis on a rogue agent doing whatever it takes to stop the terrorist plot and protect his daughter closely mirrors Jack Bauer and even has shades of the Punisher.
Green Eyes: Somewhat of the type. While he is trustworthy to the people who do not betray him, his "spitfire" attitude definitely comes into play in interrogations.
Heroic BSOD: A few, the first major one being after learning his daughter Sarah has died, and the second coming when he learns she is alive, but his best friend Lambert had faked her death to protect her from a plot to threaten her by a mole inside Third Echelon and allow Sam to willingly to accept extremely dangerous assignments since he would no longer have anything to live for.
Informed Ability: Sam is stated to be a Krav Maga practitioner. Up until Conviction, his hand to hand combat moves don't even remotely resemble Krav Maga. Then again, the novels are of questionable canonicity, so this can be excused.
The Other Darrin: Was played by the distinctive Michael Ironside up until Blacklist, at which point he was replaced by Eric Johnson, as the devs wanted the voicework, motion capture, and appearance of the character to all be based on a single actor.
Shoot Your Mate: In Essentials, one of the missions involves shooting Lambert and completion of the mission requires it. The Xbox 360/PC version of Double Agent allows for the choice of shooting either Jamie or Lambert. In Conviction, it is revealed that he was ordered by Third Echelon to shoot Lambert.
Stranger in a Familiar Land: The reason he continues to work as a Stealth Expert in Blacklist despite his disillusionment after Conviction , first as a member of Paladin Nine Security, and then as the commander of Fourth Echelon, is because he is too bored with civilian life to leave the military behind.
Took a Level in Badass: With each successive Splinter Cell game, Sam gets faster, more agile, and more proficient at killing.
Unstoppable Rage: Near the end of Conviction Sam learns that Lambert was responsible for faking Sarah's death in order to stop her from being used as leverage against Sam. This causes Sam to become so enraged that any enemy mooks who stand in his way can be killed with a single button press due to Sam having unlimited Mark and Execute points.
Colonel Irving Lambert (Don Jordan) (Dennis Haysbert in Pandora Tomorrow)
Third Echelon Operations Coordinator, later Director of Operations and then Director outright, Lambert is an old friend of Sam's and recruited him to be the first Splinter Cell. He helped guide Sam through his missions, using diplomacy and contacts to get him whatever aid he could. In Conviction it is revealed that one option in Double Agent, the one to shoot him to keep Sam's cover, is the canon option, and he died of the bullet wound.
Badass: A U.S. Army Colonel, as well as good enough at coordinating double agents in the field to be able to spearhead the Splinter Cell program, and rises in the ranks of Third Echelon in each game between two and four.
Senseless Sacrifice/Stupid Sacrifice: In hindsight, his death was really rather pointless if you look at the totality of the situation he and Sam were currently in (although he doubtless thought it was necessary at the time).
Anna Grímsdóttir (Claudia Besso) (Adriana Anderson in Pandora Tomorrow) (Kate Drummond in Blacklist)
Third Echelon Communications Lead and later Chief Technical Analyst, "Grim" serves as Sam's technical support for much of his career during the games, providing technological, cryptographic, and data support. In Convictionfollowing the death of Lambert, she rose to Chief Technical Analyst, aiding Sam from behind the scenes in uncovering Tom Reed's plot. Following the dissolution of Third Echelon, she is chosen by the President as the technical operations manager for Fourth Echelon.
Badass: By Conviction, she's taken to field operations instead of just staying at a computer. In the Oval Office, she handles a Sig Sauer very competently while helping Sam kill the final Splinter Cells.
Badass Bookworm: She's still a very reliable source for technical information, however.
Brown Eyes: Fills out the categories, especially since she's in the field less often.
Character Development: Grim slowly becomes colder and more jaded, and by Conviction she is refered to as "The Ice Queen of Third Echelon". She softens up somewhat in Blacklist, due to trying to regain Sam's trust but is still willing to make very hard decisions firsthand, even to the point of keeping information from her own government to prevent war.
Secret Keeper: She kept the fact that Sarah was not only not dead, but also that the entire faked death was on Lambert's orders, secret from Sam, knowing they needed him for the John Brown's Army crisis, until he was able to go to Third Echelon Headquarters and learn for himself when she let him know after Lambert's demise.
Shoot the Dog: She implies that she has done so many times while talking with Sam in Conviction. Confirmed when she kills Reed if Fisher doesn't in the finale.
Motive Rant: At the end of Conviction, Reed talks about how the President was going to pull funding from Third Echelon and go soft on terrorism, motivating him to try and overthrow her and place Vice President Calvin Samson. Then again, it's all pretty much thrown out when he admits he was trying to help Megiddo take over the USA.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Averted. Reed claims he's assassinating President Caldwell because she's soft on terrorism, and putting the nation at risk by downsizing Third Echelon. Blacklist shows that the Fifth Freedom includes executing members of the Executive Branch to protect the country, so while Reed's supposed position is incredibly extreme it is not entirely without merit based on the rules laid out in the series. However, in truth Reed is working for Megiddo, a corrupt and nebulous conspiracy, and is really trying to kill Caldwell because her policies are damaging to them.
Andriy Kobin (Elias Toufexis)
A powerful criminal leader employed by Third Echelon, Kobin faked the death of Sarah Fisher on then-Director Lambert's orders. He serves as one of Tom Reed's top men in the fifth game, surviving its events. Later appears in Blacklist having turned informant to the CIA and joining Fourth Echelon as a Token Evil Teammate and Ace Pilot.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite getting taken down easily in Conviction, "Blacklist" reveals he is an Ace Pilot and when the Paladin is on the verge of crashing, keeps the plane airborne while helping Sam restart it. He's also puts his skills to good use when getting Sam and Briggs into Colorado past the air defenses around Denver to stop Sadiq.
Recruiting the Criminal: Double Subverted in Blacklist. He isn't so much "recruited" as he is arrested by Fourth Echelon as an intelligence source, and his "room" is the holding cells. However, once he proves his worth and genuine aid, he appears to be officially recruited to Fourth Echelon, even allowed to handle Sams Five SeveN on the command deck.
Token Evil Teammate: While most of Third Echelon is made up of Anti-Heroes, Kobin is a major criminal employed by them to carry out some dirty work their operatives can't do. In Blacklist he's more of a frienemy and even ends up as part of Sams Paladin team.
"Archer": real name Daniel Robert Sloane-Suarez
A Splinter Cell agent who was active prior to the involvement of Sam Fisher in the Third Echelon Conspiracy in Conviction, he worked alongside Voron agent Kestrel against Russian criminal activities.
Sam's field runner in the later part of Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow. Mentioned in Chaos Theory to be gathering intelligence in Japan.
The Handler: Though Fisher does personally know Lambert, his real boss.
Informed Judaism: In Pandora Tomorrow she mentions that she's Jewish when she and Sam travel to Israel.
Put on a Bus: Disappears after Pandora Tomorrow, except for a passing line of dialogue in Chaos Theory.
William Redding (Thor Bishopric)
Sam's second field runner, Redding supplied him with kit recommendations and weapons and equipment for his missions.
The Handler: Takes up the position after Coen, though, as stated, Lambert does personally know Sam and acts as this as well.
Put on a Bus: Hasn't been seen or mentioned since Essentials. Official explanation is he was forced out of Third Echelon by the new Director Tom Reed before Conviction. He spent some time working for Vic Coste at Paladin Nine, but does not do so anymore.
A Voron agent active before involvement of Sam Fisher in the Third Echelon Conspiracy, Kestrel worked alongside Splinter Cell agent Archer to take down Russian criminal activities within his own country. He apparently died in the end of the prologue campaign in Conviction, but was later recovered by Voron and kept in a coma until Sam and Briggs rescue him in Blacklist.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Justified, considering Archer and Kestrel are covert operatives, and probably shouldn't be able to give away their true identities.
Conscription: The reason Kestrel was in the military at all.
Dark and Troubled Past: His parents were killed in a terrorist attack when he was six years old. He had a very bad relationship with his foster father, and ended up running away at the age of 14 to live on the streets of St. Petersburg for more than four years alone, where he had many run ins with the police, ultimately arrested at the age of 18. He was conscripted into the military, as was mandatory. When shifted to a counterinsurgency unit for his ability to thrive in the field, he was systematically forced to watch the execution of his friends after they were eventually captured, then subjected to three days of Cold-Blooded Torture until the Spetsnaz rescued him and he was invited to Voron. With a history like that, it's not hard to see how his personality differs from that of Archer.
Disney Death: His fight with Archer did not result in his death, but rather in him being rendered comatose.
Stealth Expert: Seeing as he is the Voron equivalent to a Splinter Cell. However, unlike Splinter Cells, Voron agents are more trained in assault tactics than infiltration, as shown in Blacklist and supported by his history.
Token Good Teammate: As shown in Blacklist, he's one of the only heroic Voron agents. Probably why they put him in a drug induced coma.
Former Soviet Republic of Georgia
President Kombayn Nikoladze (Vlasta Vrana)
The President of Georgia during most of the Georgian Information Crisis of the first Splinter Cell game, Nikoladze has a deep hatred of America, and seeks to attack it subversively.
Meaningful Name: "Kombayn" means "grain harvester" or "combine", likely a reference to grain working given by his likely Soviet parents.
The work a combine does is "reaping" a harvest, a modern variation of the age-old scythe; the Georgian President whose name is synonymous with "Reaper" orchestrates a genocidal reaping against the Azerbaijani people and anybody who gets in his way with modern technology.
My Death Is Only The Beginning: Although it's not elaborated on, in later games it's mentioned that assassinating him created several unforseen negative implications, enough that Third Echelon makes a significant effort to capture the major villains of the next two games alive.
A Canadian computer genius hired by President Nikoladze to keep the world blind to Georgia's activities, Masse is the man who instigated the Georgian Information Crisis by using his "Masse Kernels" to disrupt information networks.
The leader of Darah Dan Doa, Suhadi Sadono is one of the two members of the Big Bad Duumvirate in the second game.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Despite not displaying any remarkable combat skills previously, when you go up against him at the end of the game he has crazy good aim and can kill Sam with one shot from his pistol. You're not supposed to fight him directly.
Dead Man Switch: His "Pandora Tomorrow" scheme involves several sleeper agents in the U.S. who will detonate smallpox bombs if he is killed or captured, in order to prevent the U.S. interfering with his revolutionary uprising.
Distracted by the Sexy: Apparently because Karlthson was a woman, he couldn't resist her requests to have full access to his facility when she was captured.
Rogue Agent: Was "burned" by the Agency while in deep cover in Indonesia. This got him blown up by the people he was embedded with. He survives, minus one leg, and ends up hooking up with Sadano to get revenge on America.
Shetland is the CEO of Displace International. He is a former Force Recon Marine who was considered for the Splinter Cell program, and a friend of Sam's. He is also the Big Bad of the third game, trying to spark World War III in North Korea through the utilization of the destruction of the USS Walsh.
Badass: Supposedly in the same league as Sam; he's able to match Sam blow-for-blow during their very brief fight at the end of Chaos Theory, something that only one or two other characters in the series have ever managed.
A naive computer theorist who wants to promote world peace through his protection by Displace International. His "Dvorak" algorithms are used by Shetland to attempt to provoke World War III. Mentioned in the second game, he shows up in the third.
The Evil Genius: In the third game, though he's not evil, nor does he know what is being done with his work until it is too late for him.
An old-fashioned Japanese admiral, he is the head of Japan's new electronic warfare branch. He turns out to be the game's second big-bad, alongside Douglas Shetland, using the Dvorak algorithms to launch false-flag operations to start a war in the Koreas and re-militarize Japan.
Big Bad Duumvirate: He's working with Shetland to cause a war between North and South Korea, though ultimately for different reasons than Shetland.
Chekhov's Gunman: He does not seem to be a very important character at first, providing only some color to a few of the briefings. Then he turns out to be party to the sinking of the Walsh and the war in Korea.
False Flag Operation: Along with Shepard, hacks into a North Korean missile battery and disables the Walsh's defenses, which results in the sinking of the Walsh and North Korea getting the blame. Then he prepares to launch a North Korean cruise missile at Japan, in order to steer public opinion towards re-militarizing Japan.
Graceful Loser: Once his attempt at Seppuku fails, Otomo's sense of honor sees him confess to his crimes in public and taking all the blame.
Knight Templar: He wants to make Japan a great world power again. To that end, he's willing to kill thousands of Koreans, Americans and Japanese to see it done.
Seppuku: Attempts it once Sam breaches his inner sanctum. Sam saves his life.
The Stoic: He does not have much in the way of a sense of humor, though Grimm notes he is much nicer than he appears to be in person. Given the fact that he tries re-arm Japan to go to war with North Korea, this may not be an accurate assessment of the man.
Not So Stoic: Starts screaming at the Japanese government officials, first when they try to deny his demands, second after they try to invade his Underwater Base.
Evil Cripple: Downplayed. He has a pacemaker in his chest to keep his heart regular, but he's otherwise capable and healthy. You can kill him with your pistol's EMP attachment in version 2 of the game, however.
Defecting for Love: In the PS2/Wii version of Double Agent, Sam develops a genuine romantic attachment to Enrica, and is very pissed when she's killed by Third Echelon. In the Xbox 360/PC version, though, Sam's just playing her for info, and is perfectly happy to kill her in cold blood in order to achieve 100% Completion. She does help Sam by unlocking a coded door for him if he lets her live instead, but he can kill her before she walks away after the door is opened, and no option to knock her unconscious is available.
Not in This for Your Revolution: Unlike the other members of the JBA, who are all hardcore anti-government militants, Enrica is essentially an Ivy League wannabe who only sticks around because Emile has enough dirt on her to bury her.
He Knows Too Much: Mere moments after Sam captures him, a sniper kills Galliard to prevent him from talking about Megiddo, with Sam getting barely any information about the group. The assassin is killed by a car bomb a few minutes later.
The leader of the Engineers and the mastermind behind the "Blacklist" plot against the United States.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Puts up a pretty good fight against Sam in the finale. He's basically the only guy besides Douglas Shetland who could actually fight Sam hand-to-hand on an even playing field.
Badass: One of the most formidable hand to hand combatents in the series, beating Briggs to a pulp and nearly killing Sam with his own karambit in their final confrontation.
Genre Savvy: He seems more intelligent and well-versed in the ways of high-tech espionage than previous Splinter Cell Big Bads. This is seen when he cuts out Brigg's subdermal implant in the bunker level.
Genius Bruiser: Conducts and plans a series of meticulous and incredibly destructive terrorist attacks while staying one step ahead of the protagonists, is a former MI6 agent who knows most of the tactics Fourth Echelon will deploy against him and is one of the few antagonists of the franchise to come closest to killing Sam Fisher in a fair fight.
Hannibal Lecture: Pulls off a creepy one on a helpless hostage in Iraq, reducing him to a sobbing wreck.
The Unreveal: His actual plan is never really elaborated on, aside from that he wants to get some kind of information from the Secretary of Defense's accounts, which he deems to be the most dangerous weapon available to the modern world. Dangerously Genre Savvy as he is, he knows not to give a Motive Rant to his enemies.
Sam's friend from his Navy SEAL days, "Vic" Coste is a valuable ally to him in the fifth game. Following his days in the Navy, he took up forming "Paladin Nine Security", a security consulting company specializing in high-tech defense solutions and kidnapping recovery work. That said, due to the small staff, he ends up doing most of the field work himself, keeping up enough to still stay useful for Sam when he is called on once more.
Demoted to Extra: He serves as a partner in the tutorial for Blacklist, but is put into critical condition by a grenade by the end of it, and remains in the hospital for the game's duration until the ending.
A computer hacker and tech expert who worked at Paladin Nine during Sam's brief stay there between Conviction and Blacklist, Charlie becomes the technology officer of Fourth Echelon, providing Sam with many custom gadgets to complement Grim's tech savviness, albeit with his own self-deprecative humor.
The daughter of Sam, she serves as a Morality Pet to him. However, she is killed shortly before the fourth game when a car hits her. Conviction reveals that not only was her death not an accident at all, but it was faked by Third Echelon on the order of Lambert himself for the dual purpose of protecting her from being threatened by a mole inside Third Echelon and allowing Sam to take on the mission for the fourth game. Sam and Sarah are reunited by the end of the game.
Character Death: She dies in a car accident shortly before Double Agent. While this was the original intention of the writer of the game, the below only occurs when introducing a new writer for Conviction.
The Chick: In Conviction, to a degree. Even when she isn't seen or heard until a ways into the game, she is the reason Sam keeps contact and some semblance of trust in Grim, keeping the team together to save the President.
Death Faked for You: Said car accident is revealed to be faked by Lambert in order to keep her safe and provide Fisher motivation to go undercover in John Brown's Army. They are reunited in Conviction.