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Characters / Metal Gear Solid V
aka: Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain

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This page is for characters in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Due to wiki policy, this page contains numerous unmarked spoilers.

For other characters in the franchise, see the Metal Gear character index at Metal Gear.

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Characters in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

    Skull Face
"You hope hatred might someday replace the pain, but it never goes away. It makes a man hideous, inside and out."
AKA: XO, A Ghost without a Past

Voiced by: Takaya Hashi (Japanese), James Horan (English)

"So? Do you see me now? Tell me, what do you see? Hm? You have eyes; what do your eyes see? Yes. That's right, you see a skull face. You see me. This skull is who I am, my mark, my proof of humanity. I have no country, no language. I have no face - but I haven't lost my skull."

An elusive individual with a horrifically scarred face. He claims to have a history with Snake, and seems to have a grudge against the Patriots. He leads the Spec-Ops organization XOF, and is the mastermind behind Camp Omega.

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: A cutscene where he's seen in broad daylight shows he has bluish-white skin. Subverted in that this is most likely a result of his severe chemical burns.
  • Animals Hate Him: The minute he shows up at Camp Omega, the guard dogs start barking and snarling viciously at him.
  • Asshole Victim: In the end, his plans all fall to ruin, himself horribly maimed, unceremoniously killed, and then finally wiped from history. He deserved all of it, though.
  • Badass Baritone: Both his English and Japanese VAs give Skull Face a deep, menacing tone.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: It's shown that both he and XOF managed to bring MSF down with relative ease at the end of Ground Zeroes, and all signs indicate that the group didn't face any serious opposition until nearly a decade later in The Phantom Pain.
    • While he fails in achieving his actual goals, he does however succeed in satisfying his own personal desires — namely taking vengeance on Zero by causing the condition he appears in during MGS4, as well as passing on his philosophy down to Venom Snake, Psycho Mantis, Diamond Dogs, and even Cipher, which in part leads to the birth of Outer Heaven and the bleak setting of Metal Gear Solid.
  • Bait the Dog: Giving Chico a Walkman after throwing him in the prison initially seems like a nice thing to do for a guy that threw the kid in the brig. However, when Snake actually listens to the tape, it's audio from the tortures of Chico and Paz. Not quite the best for comfort music.
    • This is his usual means of subterfuge; Code Talker specifically states that "Skull Face shakes your hand like a friend, and then uses the other hand to control you like a puppet".
  • Bald of Evil: Not a single strand left on that grotesque dome.
  • Been There, Shaped History: According to background materials, while working as a free agent in the Eastern Bloc, Skull Face was the one who assassinated Josef Stalin in revenge for subjugating Hungary and trying to stamp out the Hungarian language. He then defected to Britain where he met Major Zero.
  • Berserk Button: If you take his word for it, he was once a loyal soldier under Major Zero who served willingly as FOX's phantom in XOF. However once he got word of Zero's plan to annihilate all other languages aside from English using parasites, he decided to betray him. As a Hungarian who lost his mother tongue he absolutely loathes the fact that he was forced to used English, viewing the language itself as nothing but a parasite. Despite the plan being only one of many that Zero was considering, Skull Face took no chances and took the first opportunity he could to betray him. That is how much he hates English and its use a tool of subjugation.
  • Beyond Redemption: As far as Zero himself is considered, Skull Face crossed the point of no return when he attacked MSF and landed Big Boss in a coma. In a cassette tape detailing his secret visit to Snake in the hospital in Cyprus, Zero comes right out and admits that while he doesn't care what happens to him, he will never forgive what Skull Face did to Snake.
  • Big Bad: Of Metal Gear Solid V (both Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain). He's the leader of XOF and the Skulls unit that antagonize Snake in Metal Gear Solid V, wanting to destroy MSF and defeat Big Boss, then take over Cipher from Zero in order to halt Cipher's plans for cultural imperialism and implement his own plans.
  • Body Horror: He's Covered in Scars, and overall looks like he's rotting.
  • Break Them by Talking: Along with some torture. In fact, almost all of his dialogue in Ground Zeroes is composed of this trope.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: He admits to dwelling "in the dark," and unashamedly calls himself a demon on multiple occasions.
  • The Chessmaster: His plan is to deliver a crushing blow against MSF and pin the blame on Cipher, leading the two to destroy one another. Beyond that, his actual attack on Mother Base is quite complex with many layers and angles to it, but also very well planned and executed.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Best shown when Eli and Tretij hijack Sahelanthropus:
    Skull Face: Who is doing this? Such a lust for revenge! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO?!
  • Clean Up Crew: One of their functions when they were FOX's support unit. If an infiltration mission went lethal, they'd come in behind the FOX operative to remove bodies and other evidence that may have been left behind.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: Constantly wears a thigh-length coat, a cowboy hat, and, in The Phantom Pain, a black domino mask.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Delivers, quite possibly, the most horrifying example in Metal Gear history.
  • Cool Guns: He uses a Mare's Leg, a sawed-off lever action rifle.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: At the end, he's shot several times at point blank range with his Mare's Leg, blowing off the limbs Miller lost. Snake and Miller leave him to die a slow, agonizing death, but is eventually capped in the head by Huey. This event also doubles as a Laser-Guided Karmic Death.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The sheer damage that he's taken inhibits any sort of pain directed at him. Of course, this comes with the price of looking like he does.
  • Decapitated Army: Averted. Killing him does nothing to destroy XOF, let alone Cipher altogether. Also a Foregone Conclusion as in time, Cipher is subsumed into the Greater-Scope Villain: The Patriots.
  • Defector from Decadence: He rebelled against Cipher, despite working for the organization for decades.
  • Determinator: As evil and twisted as he is, he has endured a shit ton of stuff, which hasn't slowed him down in the slightest.
  • Determined Defeatist: He has lost everything, face included, yet continues for some (currently unknown) reason.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Sort of. Though he dies at the end of Chapter 1, he's still the main villain of the MGSV duology.
  • Didn't See That Coming: His plan falls apart because Tretij is more allied with Eli than him, which causes him to activate Sahelanthropus too early and badly wound Skull Face.
  • Domino Mask: In The Phantom Pain, he wears a tiny domino mask, even though his face is literally a mask of scars anyway.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: He was Cipher / the Patriots' top enforcer, before he discovered Cipher's plans and decided to destroy the organization and all they cared about (including former members like Big Boss) rather than allow their "perfect world" to come to pass.
  • Driven by Envy: The reason he hates Big Boss and Cipher so much; he was once part of Big Boss' hidden support staff, and watching Big Boss become more and more of a famous hero while he was forced to remain in the shadows by Cipher increasingly grated on him. His rebellion is motivated at least mostly by his anger at being Always Second Best by design.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: All of Ground Zeroes counts for this - his motivations are only hinted at.
  • Enemy Mine: Defied. When Paz asks him if he'd kill Zero for her, he bluntly responds "Not for you."
  • Establishing Character Moment: A retroactive example - see "Bait the Dog".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's a monster and he knows it, but even he finds Huey Emmerich loathsome, to the extent that when he discovers that they had been in contact with Diamond Dogs, he angrily pushes him down the stairs. Also implying that he finds Huey to be more petty than him of all people.
    Skull Face: I may dwell in the dark, but I refuse to be judged by your standards, traitor!
    • Additionally in one cassette tape that Code Talker secretly recorded, Code Talker is threatened with the death of his people if he does not cooperate, with the ringing of a bell prompting a soldier who is standing outside to signal one of his people to be infected with the English Strain of the Parasite. Using the bell to prevent Code Talker from retaliating with violence (As he seemed at least somewhat capable of still) and make him cooperate, he rang the bell repeatedly until Code Talker tricks him into using radiation therapy. But right afterward, he tosses Code Talker the bell, which he misses and allows to land on the floor, ringing well over 40 times from the drop alone... Then Skull Face goes to leave and it turns out there was no soldier there to pass the order along, revealing that Skull Face was bluffing entirely.
    • He seems disgusted at the wrongful executions of Sacco and Vanzetti.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: He sure looks like one with his seemingly rotting flesh.
  • Evil Counterpart: Of Snake. Both are crack operatives that have a considerable amount of influence over the people that work for them. As Snake finds himself Slowly Slipping Into Evil, he becomes the eviler counterpart. Furthermore, both have horrific and tragic pasts, but even when Snake fell, he was never completely consumed by the darkness.
    • Going a step further, the final trailer for the game details his background over footage of a changing and increasingly bloody Big Boss.
    • Given the end-game twist, Skull-Face has more parallels with Venom Snake than the real Big Boss. Both men were robbed of their original identities as a result of a tragic event and whereas Skull-Face is faceless, Venom is literally living with another man's face.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Very fond of dramatic language and gesturing. He just keeps getting hammier as the story rolls on.
  • Evil Is Petty: Ultimately? His plan is just twisted payback at Zero, because he's mad at a black project Zero might not have even gone through with. Not to mention the fact that he orchestrated the attack on MSF purely because he was jealous of Big Boss.
  • Evil Plan: In Phantom Pain, his plan is as follows:
    • Step One: Create easy-to-make nuclear weapons that he can stop from detonating, and distribute them around the world with the Metal Gears needed to fire them. Not only would this upset the global balance of power, but it would also put most of the nukes in the world under Skull Face's control, no matter who has them.
    • Step Two: With everyone afraid of the nukes, release an infectious parasite that only becomes fatal when its host speaks the English language. By "liberating" the world from English, a new global language will be created: One composed of Metal Gears and nukes. Then there will be peace through mass nuclear deterrence.
    • Plan B: Kill everyone.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: He has a deep, gravely voice.
  • Evil Wears Black: From top to bottom. He really seems to invoke the classic "cowboy villain".
  • Eviler than Thou: To nearly everyone he encounters throughout V (Chico, Paz, Zero, Huey and Venom Snake), he seems to have taken the liberty of rubbing in their noses how their role in the fraught Cloak and Dagger politics of the Cold War has left them as mere pawns, petty grubbers or misguided idealists)—presenting himself as the true face of diabolical genius. Ironically, this trope in play is also what brings all of his plans down: being unaware of Eli, a child with a greater existential desire for vengeance than him, ultimately loses him control of Sahelanthropus and his carefully-manufactured trap for Big Boss.
  • Expy: His outfit — noted to be Old West-styled by the marines at Camp Omega — appears to be a Shout-Out to the dark clothing worn by Lee Van Cleef in his films from Sergio Leone's Dollars westerns. Telling, given Van Cleef was notorious for playing bad guys. Some of the released Shinkawa art following the game's debut also appear to show an intact (i.e. not burnt and scarred) Skull Face looking near exactly like Van Cleef, including the distinctive cheekbones, nose and moustache.
  • Facial Horror: His nose is crooked, he sports a Glasgow smile, and his entire face is one huge disfiguring burn scar.
  • Fate Worse than Death: People he knew before the incident regarded his disfiguring as this. In fact, when he was first wounded, he overheard a nurse outside of his hospital room actually stating that he'd be better off dead.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Is one of the most polite, well spoken, and horrific villains to ever grace the Metal Gear series.
  • Feel No Pain: The sheer amount of damage he's taken seems to have included even severe, permanent nerve damage, inhibiting his ability to feel any sort of pain.
  • Final Speech: Once he realizes that his plans are brought to ruin, Skull Face rants to himself that although he will be written out of history, he has at least passed on his philosophy down to his adversaries, who will go on to create the bleak future that defines Metal Gear Solid.
    Skull Face: Cipher will rewrite the records... And I will vanish from human memory. But... The thirst for revenge that I have planted will infest the system! No one can stop it now! Sahelanthropus will unleash that thirst unto the future! Major... I'M BURNING UP!!!
  • Foregone Conclusion: He states that his goal is to create someone else like him. Someone that only lives for the sake of revenge. Canon indicates that he succeeds with Snake; which is starkly indicated by Big Boss's cynical perceptions on war and the ultimate ignoble fate of soldiers detailed in his speech to Solid Snake in Zanzibarland.
  • Freudian Excuse: As much of a monster as he is, his past is pretty horrifying.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: He went from being an ordinary child in a third-world country to a significant threat to both Snake and Cipher.
  • Frontline General: Implied - before his soldiers drag him away he appears to be planning to square up with Sahelanthropus himself, and he's in the first vehicle out of the cave in the ensuing firefight.
  • Glasgow Grin: He has a pair of gashes upon his lips, among his many other scars.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: An antagonist with disfiguring scars covering his entire face. A far cry from the thin ones the protagonist, Snake, sports.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Zig-zagged, and depending on Alternative Character Interpretation. This comment on this video explains it best:
    Youtube Comment: Thanks to Skullface, the early concept for FOXDIE was introduced to Cypher. Thanks to Skullface, microorganisms living in and supporting human bodies (cough cough nanomachines) was also introduced to Cypher. Thanks to Skullface, the earliest “mass production” Metal Gears and nukes started popping up. But even more than that, thanks to Skullface, Zero was put in a coma. If Zero wasn’t in a coma, perhaps he could’ve reconciled with Big Boss (which his tape seems to suggest he wanted to do), turned back the Patriots, and stopped his machine before it got started. The AI would have never taken over, and the War Economy would never appear. The Snakes could have lived normal lives. The world would be left as is.
    Every once of misery from Ground Zeroes onward is thanks to Skullface. And nobody knows it.
  • Hand Cannon: His weapon is a Mare's Leg, a rifle that's been sawed down to be a pistol.
  • Healing Factor: Never comes up in-game, but in one of the cassette tapes explains that he had parasite therapy after his face was burned. In another tape, he claims the rest of his body, too, got burnt several times, but the parasites kept him alive.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In one of the cassette tapes, it turns out that in attempting to create more strains of the vocal cord parasite, he became infected by the strain that responds to his native Hungarian tongue. He doesn't take it well when Code Talker figures this out.
    • Activating Sahelanthropus via Tretij, whose loyalties are pretty fickle and dependent-on-The Power Of Hatred, ultimately guarantees that he will lose control of Sahelanthropus at some point. It earns him a stomp when it goes berserk, getting crushed by a radio tower.
    • Upon his defeat, Snake and Miller use Skull Face's own lever-action rifle to blow off most of his limbs.
    • This is actually the source of his evil plan. Zero planned to use vocal parasites to steal language from their enemies. So, he made one to infect Zero, and all who speak Zero's tongue.
    • His inferiority complex-driven sacking of Mother Base is directly responsible for his downfall. If he had restrained his sadistic tendencies and let Big Boss retrieve Paz and Chico unmolested and simply focused on Zero, it is likely he would have succeeded at his goals.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: After being crushed by a radio tower, he begs Snake and Miller to finish him off. Instead, they blow off his arm and leg as revenge for his destruction of MSF and leave him to die slowly... only for Huey to finish Skull Face himself.
  • I Lied: In Ground Zeroes. After promising to spare Big Boss if Paz tells him where Zero is, Skull Face immediately goes back on his word and destroys MSF.
  • Irony: Skull Face's motivations and their results are full of irony. He despises English and yet is fluent enough to have a massive monologue about why he despises that language, and his attempts to destroy English and American imperialism (as well as Zero) ultimately help the Patriots control the world further through the things he hates, thanks in no small part to poisoning Zero.
  • Informed Ability: He's stated to be Big Boss' equal as a soldier, to the point that Zero considered him a worthy candidate to complete Operation Snake Eater if Snake himself could not. However, we never see him actually fight, and he loses his cool the second his plan starts to go off the rails.
    • He's more of an espionist than a soldier, if the lack of serious combat gear is any indication. However, we don't get to see the extent of his abilities as a cleaner/fixer/spy, but we're told that he was the one who dealt with the cleanup at Groznylgrad after Snake blew up everything important.
  • Jerkass: Let's just come right out with it: even at his "nicest", Skull Face is an inhuman bastard with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: It's revealed in background materials that he started out exacting revenge on those who wronged him and his Hungarian homeland. But whatever shred of humanity or decency he had back then is long gone.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Does this to Huey, leaving him to Venom Snake after he learns about his attempts to double-cross them.
    • Winds up being on the receiving end of this after his defeat, with Miller and Venom Snake taking vengeance on him in the most agonizing and surprisingly therapeutic way possible after all Skull Face has done, leaving him to bleed out and suffer as they did. He attempts to reach for his weapon to end himself and fails, but is eventually shot in the head by Huey.
  • Kick the Dog: He asks Chico how it feels to be a traitor to MSF, after the torture he put him and Paz through in order to make him talk. In the post-credits scene of Ground Zeroes, he mocks Paz for her attempt at a heroic sacrifice, saying that it wasn't going to "change the world" as she had hoped.
  • Klingon Promotion: Does this to Zero, thereby causing his vegetative condition and subsequently taking control of most of Cipher and its nearly limitless resources.
  • Lack of Empathy: Shamelessly revels at his own depraved habits with minimal subtlety, periodically engaging in Kick the Dog moments for whatever reason.
  • Last of His Kind: Established in the interrogation tape.
    "When my time came calling, I didn't die. My family died, my country died, but they didn't take me with them. All Hell took from me was this skin, this outer peel that marked me human."
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: A variation; after exhausting most of the ammo from his gun, Venom and Miller leave him with the weapon and a single bullet just out of reach, telling him that if he wants a quick death, he'll have to do it himself. However, Huey proceeds to kill him while the two aren't looking.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Wears a domino mask in The Phantom Pain.
  • Meaningful Name: Just look at his face and you'll see that his name fits. He even tells people that that's all that people see in him after his skin was burned off.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: His body language, particularly when introducing the Sahelanthropus, is somewhere between an auto show booth babe and a mid-20th century Central European dictator.
  • Motive Rant: Skull Face gives a tremendously long one when Snake finally confronts him, explaining what motivates him to exterminate the English language.
  • Mysterious Past: Subverted over time. When first introduced he mentions "Your Boss (Snake) and I go way back.", and his country of origin is only hinted at. Following the player's infiltration of OKB Zero, Skull Face actively reveals that he and his unit had served as Big Boss's backup / shadow ever since Operation Snake Eater, which is further embellished in audio tapes, Skull Face's background as a Hungarian and assassin of Josef Stalin being revealed in addition to other tidbits.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He probably has one of the least subtle names of any of the antagonists in Metal Gear.
  • New Old West: Troops at Camp Omega note that he has the mannerisms of a cowboy, and his later appearance with an appropriate hat, boots with spurs, and a domino mask only reinforce this. He even carries a Mare's Leg (a sawed-off lever-action rifle) as his weapon.
  • "No More Holding Back" Speech: A villainous variant that is delivered in a post-credits scene (and one of the audio files) - about the song "Here's to You", of all things.
    Skull Face: Your favorite song... Nicola, Bart - immigrants wrongly executed... But their deaths served as a message to others: that ours is a society that murders the innocent. Do you, too, believe that your sacrifice will change the world?
  • No One Should Survive That!: On the interrogation tape:
    "At the infirmary they carried me to, a nurse in the corridor saw me and remarked, as if it happened every day: 'They should let the poor thing die.' Those are the only words of my mother tongue I remember."
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He doesn't actually engage in combat in Ground Zeroes, nor is he fought in that game. The same is true in Phantom Pain. The reason is a design choice by Kojima, by depriving the player the opportunity to personally hurt and kill Skull Face, Kojima was trying to point out that revenge when accomplished leaves an empty feeling. Having Skull Face die in a cutscene and the negative reaction by players was intended.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite being implied and eventually confirmed to be Hungarian, he speaks with a flawless American accent. Justified, as he's supposed to be a master spy who has worn numerous identities over his career. Learning to speak multiple languages without any accent is one of the requirements for the job. It also helps that, thanks being infected by the parasites, he's literally physically incapable of speaking Hungarian, which would significantly effect his accent.
  • Obviously Evil: He's bald, covered in disfiguring scars, and dresses in black; at no point could Skull Face ever pass for a good guy.
  • Oh, Crap!: Everything's going to his plans, he's got Big Boss right where he wants him, and whether he wins against the Man on Fire or not, Big Boss is still surrounded by XOF and Sahelanthropus. Then the chopper flying Eli passes over the crevice the base was inside of, which causes Eli's burning existential vengeance to overcome Skull Face's own upon Tretji Rebenok's powers, which in turn causes all hell to break loose and Sahelanthropus to run amok in a blind, destructive attack upon everything around it. Chewing the Scenery though he was, Skull Face's plans were unraveled in under a minute at their peak, and after dedicating his life to Revenge his screams for "who" are genuine cries of bafflement that someone has a stronger urge for it than him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: His real name is unknown, and he identifies himself as being simply a "Skull Face."
  • Order Versus Chaos: Represents chaos to Cipher's order, wishing to create a fractured world of retaliation rather than a united one under Cipher control.
  • Pet the Dog: The closest he gets to this, is when he executes the unnamed African Villager in the Devil's house. Unlike every other moment, he seems genuinely respectful, and sincere in his words, and gratitude, and then proceeds to Mercy Kill him with his Mare's Leg.
  • Poisonous Person: It doesn't come up in-game, but one of the cassette tapes suggests his work with the vocal cord parasites have infected him with every language strain except for the English one. Another cassette tape explains that Skull Face's body was burnt after his death, because the parasite was still living in his cells.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Like Hot Coldman before him, he has no qualms against pushing Huey down the stairs, though he possibly had a legitimate reason for doing so.
  • Practically Joker: Some fans have drawn a few parallels between Skull Face and The Joker, particularly his incarnation from The Dark Knight and the eponymous Joker graphic novel. That the audio tapes, particularly the one with Skull Face detailing his backstory can be likened to one of Joker's infamous "scar stories" and the fact that he's a Wild Card playing against both Snake and Cipher doesn't help one bit.
  • Professional Killer: When he was younger, Skull Face traveled around the Eastern Bloc, murdering anyone who had anything to do with the conquest of Hungary and the subjugating of the Hungarian language. One of his victims included Josef Stalin and after poisoning the dictator, Skull Face defected to the west and found a new employer, Zero.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: He physically abuses Paz and it is implied that he raped her. It's also heavily implied that he forces Chico to have sex with her so he could play voyeur.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After Zero finds out about Skull Face's role in attacking Mother Base and putting Big Boss in a coma, he has Skull Face banished to Africa.
  • Remember the New Guy?: He's apparently been serving with the FOX unit and Cipher since Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, despite never being introduced in any of the games before MGSV. Deconstructed, in that his facelessness is a big part of his envy for Snake.
    • We also never hear about him in canonically later games. Naturally, this is because the character hadn't even been conceived yet, but in-universe it's also perfectly explained as Skull Face being written out of history by the Patriots, which is a fear he admits just before his death.
  • Revenge: He is apparently out to exact it against Cipher (including Snake, whom he tells Chico that he goes way back with) for an unknown reason. Turns out, he's utterly obsessed with wiping out Big Boss' and Zero's organisations for their treatment of him, real or imagined, and he had no qualms about killing every other English-speaker he meets in the process, in order to realize his plan of turning English into a Brown Note and distributing nukes, therefore ensuring peace through isolating cultures and mass nuclear deterrence.
  • Ruritania: Skull Face can be heard issuing the command "Vigyétek a ketrecébe!" in one of Chico's tapes; the phrase is Hungarian and, since the language is uncommon outside of Europe, it's probable he hails from Hungary or somewhere near the country. A tape however confirms this, revealing that Hungarian is his native tongue, though thanks to being infected with a parasite strain that targets Hungarian, he can no longer speak it to his own despair.
  • Sadistic Choice: Issues this to Paz. Choose Snake or Zero, only one side of the conflict can be saved. Paz ultimately gives away Zero's location. Made that much worse in that after Paz gives him a complete and extremely detailed description of where Zero is, he immediately proceeds with his plan to kill Snake.
  • Shadow Archetype: To both Big Boss, as the Big Bad to the Fallen Hero who turns into the Big Bad, and Ocelot. He and Ocelot are both Torture Technician examples of foreign-born American agents with a flair for cowboy costumes and weaponry. The difference is that Ocelot arguably became The Lancer/The Dragon to a better man than he was and gained Undying Loyalty to his cause, while Skullface became a full-on Dragon Ascendant and devolved in The Unfettered to such an extent that he overreached himself and fell.
  • Shrouded in Myth: His unit, XOF, is evidently shrouded in mystery - even the Marines that were present when he personally visited Camp Omega have no idea who he is or what his unit stands for. It doesn't stand for anything: it's the reverse of FOX. As Miller eventually learns, XOF used to work for the CIA as a secret unit under Zero, until everything fell apart.
  • Skull for a Head: As his name would indicate.
  • The Sociopath: There's nothing to imply he has even a fiber of goodness or decency in his heart.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: When torturing people one-on-one, he often talks politely while putting them through pain.
  • Straw Nihilist: He believes in the concept of hope... But only because, in his eyes, almost all hope is based upon superficial qualities, but it helps him survive.
  • Taught by Experience: He displays historical awareness of other series villains, and actively denies Huey the chance to implement an A.I. system in Sahelanthropus, citing that as "Coldman's mistake" ten years ago. This is because he wants his finger on the nuclear trigger when his plan's implemented, not a Fail-Deadly A.I. system.
  • Torture Technician: Especially in Ground Zeroes. Counting the audio logs, the only scene where he isn't heard torturing anyone is the opening sequence - and even then, he casually mentions that he tortured Paz.
  • Undignified Death: He goes out crushed under a radio tower, having his arm and leg blasted off by his own gun by Snake and Miller, and pathetically begging for a Mercy Kill, which ends being given to him by Huey.
  • Unknown Rival: To the original Big Boss, having served as his begrudging backup since the events of Snake Eater. Big Boss evidently never learns about him until after his coma, and since it's Venom that ultimately takes him out, Big Boss never really acknowledges the rivalry.
  • Unperson: One of his biggest fears as revealed just before his death. Not only is his body burnt afterwards due to still hosting parasites, but it's implied that whatever traces of his life that still remained are in time erased thanks to the Patriots.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His intentions at getting even with Zero, removing him from power and causing him a Fate Worse than Death, winds up leading to the Patriots superseding his organization, a group notorious for manipulating language, which it almost succeeds at completely dominating society by doing just that.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: He implies that he was a perfectly normal kid before his village was bombed and he was scarred.
  • Villain Ball: He picked a fight with MSF/Big Boss, despite it being completely unnecessary for his plans, simply to satisfy his ego. Deconstructed in that this desire to satisfy his ego and hatred of Big Boss directly leads to his downfall.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Shows signs of this when Sahelanthropus goes out of control and he begins to realize that he'll be written out of history. After a brief moment detailing how part of his plot had already succeeded, he goes on to berate Major Zero in spirit before being crushed by the very same mech he commissioned. Trapped under a collapsed radio tower, his full breakdown begins once Snake and Miller confront him in this miserable state, begging them to put him out of his misery. They respond by blowing most of his limbs off with his own Mare's Leg, then deliberately deprive him of a quick death by leaving him there. He then begs Huey to kill him, and Huey complies, shooting him in the head in the name of revenge.
    • He gets another one as heard in one of the cassette tapes. He loses his cool when Code Talker figures out why Skull Face is so hell-bent on finding out how to stop the symptoms of the vocal cord parasites from manifesting. The reason for this is because in attempting to create more strains of the vocal cord parasite, Skull Face became infected by the strain that responds to his own mother tongue: the Hungarian strain that responds to the Szekelys dialect.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: His hometown was destroyed and left him as the last surviving trace of his people, including their history and language; while having suffered servitude to Zero for some time, when he learns that Cipher's plans for the vocal cord parasites would involve the outright eradication of some cultures and their languages, he takes control of the situation, subjecting Zero to a Fate Worse than Death before turning Cipher's plan on its head. He even admits to Venom Snake and Zero that his entire plan is just his version of realizing The Boss' will. He still fails with the rest of his plan to "liberate" the world, though. Which is probably good, since he was going to turn the entire English language into a Brown Note.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: His voice and accent are different depending on his interrogation subject(s). Also there's a scene where he's issuing orders to soldiers in a softer tone of voice, and then when he's done he switches back to his usual gravely tone. Of course, he might be doing this deliberately. It is later revealed that his natural accent is Hungarian.
  • Who Needs Enemies?: See Enemy Mine above.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He hits Paz when she objects to his plans, strips and belt-whips her, and is heavily implied to have either raped her or ordered another to do so.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He has no problem with torturing Chico for information. He even puts screws in his ankles to permanently remove any chance of him walking again.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: While he's monstrous, Skull Face has suffered monstrously. Listening to him talk about his motivation to ensure his people live on through him, and his nihilistic version of hope that nevertheless keeps him alive, you might be moved to pity.
  • Worthy Opponent: Seems to hold Snake in high regard, telling Chico he knows Snake is going to rescue Chico, regardless of him knowing it's a trap, because he knows Snake is a good man. He also quotes him on a number of occasions.

An enigmatic but powerful military organization under Skull Face's command. Several soldiers are seen following Skull Face throughout Camp Omega in the intro to Ground Zeroes, and they serve as primary antagonists in The Phantom Pain later on.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: XOF troops are tauntingly dangerous and extremely powerful antagonists in the prologue of Phantom Pain, and the game builds their role in the world as Super Persistent Predators... but no matter how much gun-fire they spray at it, the Man on Fire viciously slaughters multiple squads of them every single time.
  • Badass Army: Well, Badass Paramilitary CIA unit. Being the support unit of FOX means they were badasses in their own right, as their missions would often involve shorter term infiltration missions BEFORE the FOX agent infiltrated the area. So they had to sneak in with even LESS intel than their sister unit had.
    • This is shown when they solidly take down Big Boss's MSF unit, which included several former FOX members among its ranks.
  • Badass Normal: They're an army of highly trained sociopaths armed with the latest military technology, and while the FROGs and Parasite Unit are more powerful, it's because they're jacked up on nano-technology and magic parasites. The XOF, on the other-hand, are the most competent mooks in MGS history and they are completely normal humans with no enhancements whatsoever.
  • Band of Brothers: In Peacewalker they will readily rush to a mortally wounded comrade's side to patch them up, as well as shoot down Fulton balloons carrying off captured teammates. In the secret / cut Mission 51 from MGSV, a XOF soldier can be seen carrying a wounded comrade to safety after being wounded during the attempt to retrieve Sahelanthropus.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Their uniforms are grey fatigues, black vests and pads, and often with white helmets. Their unit patches are also a stylized black fox on a yellow background, the inverse of the FOX unit's patch.
  • Darker and Edgier: All past MGS mooks have just been clueless and plain old soldiers doing their jobs, something done probably to make it harder to kill them. However, XOF's ranks are most certainly filled with sadists and sociopaths, as demonstrated in their unnecessarily and excruciatingly long executions of staff in the prologue of Phantom Pain. Apart from the Genome soldiers in Metal Gear Solid and some of the Elite Mooks in the MSX games, they're one of the few enemies in the franchise that must be killed.
  • Decapitated Army: Averted. An XOF agent appears in a mission after Skull Face's death, as they're still taking orders from Cipher. in the secret mission 51, XOF is shown to still be able to operate on critical missions, such as attempting to retake a stolen Metal Gear.
  • Driven by Envy: Part of the reason XOF readily went rogue was due to the FOX unit getting all the glory and accolades, while XOF arguably did even more work and feats of badassery, while being tasked with making FOX's job easier and cleaning up FOX agents' messes.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: During Peacewalker, if the player sets off an alert and racks up a high enough kill count, XOF members will show up to combat them. Although in Peacewalker they are never identified as XOF members, only being known as the elite troops of the Peace Sentinel units, their iconic uniforms mark them out for anyone who has played MGSV. Maintaining their dark mirror of the FOX unit, as the FOX unit members were the EliteMooks of MSF.
  • Elite Mook: By far the most dangerously competent powerless mooks in all of Metal Gear. Justified as they were once FOX's counterpart.
  • Evil Counterpart: To FOX. As they were once FOX's support unit, their training likewise mirrors FOX's. Using subterfuge, they were able to infiltrate the MSF Motherbase and demolish it. In a way, we get to see what its like to be on the opposing side of FOX's infiltration and sabotage tactics.
  • Evil Wears Black: Unlike past MGS mooks, it's obvious there are some truly evil people in XOF, and all of them wear dark grey fatigues with black accents.
  • Expy: Let's see. Extremely secretive army of trained soldiers, Elite Mooks of the Big Bad, clad in black balaclavas and riot helmets and are stationed in Afghanistan? Sounds a lot like Shadow Company.
    • Badass Normal Elite Mooks who are Malevolent Masked Men and sociopathic soldiers wearing all-black in a world where there are more powerful, supernatural/paranormal enemies? Sounds a lot like the Black Ops as well.
    • In a more local and literal sense, the "shadow team to Snake's former unit" role makes them to FOX what Black Chamber will be to FOXHOUND, highlighting similarities between Black Arts Viper and Skull Face as Evil Counterpart versions of their respective Snakes.
    • Additionally, their voice lines are the exact same for the PF soldiers you fight in FOB mode and "Retake the Platform".
  • Face–Heel Turn: They were once the support unit of FOX, acting as FOX's shadow (hence why their name and logo are the inverse). They did anything from dropping needed intel and supplies to support FOX's missions, to cleaning up after said FOX's missions. But after the dissolution of FOX, they became a more private strike force for Cipher, before Skull Face took them and turned them against Zero.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In time, XOF is absorbed into the Patriots' system. Not even Skull Face's death stops it.
  • Fun with Acronyms: XOF is possibly short for Executive Officer's Force, as that was Skull Face's former position under Zero.
  • Gangsta Style: During the prologue, most XOF soldiers hold their guns sideways. Justified, as this actually makes their aim more accurate in close-quarters situations like hallways so they don't commit friendly-fire.
    • Their 45-degree cant is done to allow them to aim down the sights with bulky gas masks on, as well as to prevent scorching-hot ejected shell casings from bouncing off the walls and into them or their comrades.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Some of them don visor gas-masks over their balaclavas.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Just to show how much MGS is evolving into a much grittier and darkly-toned war game, there's barely any clueless, legally blind mooks to sneak past anymore. XOF are terrifyingly good at their jobs, best exemplified in the scene where Ahab and Ishmael play dead in a pile of corpses to hide from a squad of XOF soldiers... who begin shooting each corpse they see in the head.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: If slaughtering hundreds of innocent civilians and just barely not killing Snake on multiple occasions didn't convince you how evil they were, remember that the soldiers were technically the ones who sexually and physically tortured Paz and Chico after Skull Face ordered them to.
  • Shrouded in Myth: During their time at Camp Omega, they cause immense confusion amongst the Marines who also staffed the base; during the game, you can occasionally hear Marine guards expression speculation and confusion as to their origins. Despite being confirmed as Americans and wielding top-of-the-line gear and weapons, virtually nothing is revealed about their true origins or purposes until The Phantom Pain. As it turns out, they were originally FOX's support unit, performing deep-cover recon missions and providing intel (albeit through Zero) to FOX operatives during missions; they were also tasked with acting as replacements if FOX operatives died at any point; they were so secretive that not even The Boss herself knew about them.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: The prologue of Phantom Pain pretty much confirms this. During the hospital massacre, when you're fortunate enough to see them murdering the staff firsthand, they intentionally shoot innocent civilians in non-vital areas and make them writhe in pain for several agonizing seconds before finally capping them in the head. And there's no obvious tactical advantage to this, so it's apparent they do it For the Evulz.note  They also brutally beat and raped Paz and Chico to near death.
    • However, in the cut ending, episode 51, they can be seen to actually care for each other, one can be seen carrying his comrade out of danger from the Sahelanthropus piloted by Eli
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: To kill a man who's been stuck in a coma for nine years, they sent their very best assassin backed up by an army, along with at least two attack helicopters and a tank. Justified as, coma or not, this was Big Boss they were sent to kill. Technically Big Boss and the best soldier under him, essentially TWO Big Bosses. They still failed.

    Morpho / Pequod 

The pilot that assists Snake throughout Ground Zeroes, and the only back-up that he receives for the various operations he carries out in Camp Omega. In The Phantom Pain, there's a new chopper pilot with the callsign Pequod to fit with the game's Moby Schtick.

  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Is the go-to method of extraction for most missions. Notable examples include "Intel Operative Rescue," where he and Snake provide air support while the operative (Hideo) makes his way to the LZ, and the end of the main story, where he helps evacuate Mother Base during the attack.
    • Can be invoked by the player at any time by selecting a high-danger Landing Zone - though this comes with the risk of him getting shot down.
  • The Cavalry: Can be invoked at any time by calling him in as Air Support. Once chosen, he will tell Snake to "find cover" before he starts engaging targets. Pequod will also prioritize heavy artillery first.
  • Drives Like Crazy: When equipped with the helicopter's max body (thus reducing dispatch time to its lowest-possible level, via the use of thrusters), he will come screaming out of the sky and pull up at literally the last possible second, just a couple feet from hitting the ground.
  • Gunship Rescue: His whole shtick, especially in "Intel Operative Rescue."
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Subverted. His skills are impressive, but the helicopter itself is still just as vulnerable to heavy weapons as any other vehicle.
  • The Lancer: He's the only guy that can help Snake out on his missions in the Naval base, and he's crucial to completing them.
  • Replacement Goldfish:
    • Did his helicopter get shot down while he was flying over the base? Don't worry, he'll be back in a few minutes with another one!
    • The callsign is probably just given to whatever pilot is deployed to aid Snake, given that we explicitly see our pilot die during "Metallic Archaea", only for him to show up in the next mission with no mention of it.
  • Theme Naming: Like most soldiers at Mother Base, he's named after an animal. Specifically, he's named after the butterfly that was seen frequently in Peace Walker. In keeping with the Moby-Dick references, in The Phantom Pain, he shares his codename with the ship from the novel.

    Glaz and Palitz
Glaz (left) and Palitz (right)

Glaz and Palitz, "the eye" and "the finger", are two U.S. Marines who worked as a sniper-spotter team during the Laotian Civil War. Miller sends Snake on a tip from the KGB to eliminate them in the Ground Zeroes Side Ops mission "Eliminate the Renegade Threat".

  • The Atoner: Their days in Laos have haunted them far more than they are caring to admit, and they have resorted to self-mutilation. If Big Boss interrogates them, they even accept their death.
  • Cold Sniper: Obviously. Subverted, however: just because they're cold doesn't mean they don't feel guilt.
  • Canon Welding: Defied. Miller was requested to assassinate the two by KGB special forces "from [Miller's] Columbia days", but Miller specifically states they had nothing to do with Zadornov.
  • The Dreaded: Kaz notes that to the east, they were a reason to be afraid of the dark.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In spite of their War Crimes, both of them were horrified by what was going on in Camp Omega.
  • Eye Scream: Glaz is missing his right eye.
  • Fingore: Palitz has a prosthetic finger.
  • Foreshadowing: Interrogate either of them, and they will tell you that a "Phantom" is approaching. Whether or not this refers to Skull Face or anyone else is unclear. As it turns out, it refers to Venom Snake, the "phantom" of Big Boss.
  • Handicapped Badass: Despite mutilating themselves, essentially cutting off/out the parts that made them so good as a sniper team, they provide very good early-mid game stats for Mother Base's combat teams, and can be played in missions just like any other combat unit soldier.
  • Heel–Face Turn: If the player has extracted both of them in Ground Zeroes, they'll join Diamond Dogs in The Phantom Pain if the player has transferred over their save data.
  • Hidden Depths: Should Snake knock them out and take them to Mother Base, Miller discovers that they inflicted mutilation upon themselves (Glaz having a glass eye and Palitz having a plastic finger), indicating that even they were remorseful and horrified by what they've done.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: It's pretty telling how much Snake and Miller's clients hate these two when you can kill both men and still get an S Rank.
  • Killed Off for Real: If Snake chooses.
    • Alternatively, Snake can opt for a non-lethal approach by knocking them out and having them extracted out of the mission area, and both of them become Diamond Dogs staff if save data is uploaded in The Phantom Pain.
  • Ironic Nickname: As a result of their self mutilation.
  • Meaningful Name: In addition to the "eye" and "finger" representing their roles as sniper and spotter, Miller says their nicknames are a reference to being "less than human - no heart, just an eye to find their prey and a finger to pull the trigger."
  • Nonindicative Name: However, their roles as spotter and sniper aren't mutually exclusive — they both alternate between their roles.
  • Odd Name Out: When they join the Mother Base crew in The Phantom Pain, they'll become the only soldiers (excluding unique characters such as Miller and Hideo) not to have animal-themed codenames.
  • Off on a Technicality: While not necessarily free men (negotiations are in progress regarding their extradition for trial), Kaz notes that they're "living comfortably in a loophole," stationed at the secret Cuban blacksite where international law isn't a concern.
  • Offstage Villainy: Neither target manages to Kick the Dog during the mission proper, since they're in the custody of the Marines, but Miller provides more than enough Informed Attributes to give them decent characterization.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: By their foreign nicknames, even!
  • Redemption Demotion: If you recruit them in The Phantom Pain, you'll find that their stats aren't as impressive as their reputations might suggest. Possibly justified by their self-mutilation making it difficult to do their old jobs.
  • Scary Black Man: Glaz.
  • Sinister Shades: Glaz wears them for a very good reason.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: It's implied that many of their kills were made in violation of international law, and may have included civilians. Kaz notes that their extradition to face trial is a major factor in the ongoing peace negotiations.
  • Sudden Name Change: For some reason, the two had their names switched in The Phantom Pain, with Glaz now being The Finger and Palitz becoming The Eye.
  • Timed Mission: Of a sort. Snake is initially given the approximate location of both targets, but if he takes too long the targets will have moved, forcing him to identify them by face alone.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Their dedicated side mission is a straight-up double assassination a-la Hitman.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: It's strongly implied that they would, and have, which is part of the reason the KGB wants them dead.

    Intel Operative 
Voiced by: Hideo Kojima

An undercover MSF operative who has been compromised after recovering a cassette tape relating to XOF. Snake and Morpho rescue him from the base in "Intel Operative Rescue". Rescuing him in Ground Zeroes causes him to join Diamond Dogs in The Phantom Pain. He can also be recruited in a special Side-Ops mission if you don't have Ground Zeroes.

  • Ascended Extra: While he isn't important to the story of the game, his role is given a greater significance than the one he had in Peace Walker, where he simply had a cameo.
  • Aside Glance: Gives one in both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain when the mission is over and his identity is revealed to the player.
  • As Himself: It goes beyond a Creator Cameo. He's listed in the credits as "Hideo."
  • Author Avatar: He is Hideo, after all.
  • Badass Driver: Miller is notably impressed by his initiative in stealing an enemy vehicle, as well has his skill in handling it.
    Miller: You handle that vehicle like a pro. I'd expect nothing less.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: If he's present on the title screen following the completion of "Intel Operative Rescue" and you wait at the mission select screen for a few moments, he'll reach over and swipe the mission list, making it scroll rapidly.
  • Call-Back: Appeared in Peace Walker as a Secret Character, and reprises his role in The Phantom Pain as well.
    Snake: Mr. Kojima?!
  • Call-Forward: Mirrors Miller's rescue scene from the Red Band trailer upon his rescue, as well as his dialogue on A-Rank or lower.
    Hideo: Snake... What took you so long?
  • Cool Shades: The operative has some pretty awesome aviators when you rescue him. Snake eventually gives Hideo back his trademark J.F. Rey Eyewear glasses.
  • Glasses Pull: Played straight and inverted in the same scene, as he dramatically removes his combat aviators to don his signature glasses.
  • Made of Iron: Manages to escape a vehicle that's been hit with a rocket launcher with little in the way of injuries.
  • Non-Action Guy: Even though his combat stats are better than they were in Peace Walker, you still can't play as him even if you put him in a combat unit.
  • Put on a Bus: Word of God says that the reason why he doesn't show up in The Phantom Pain is because Kojima didn't want players doing things like throwing his character off Mother Base.
  • The Reveal: He's actually Hideo.
  • Surprisingly Good English: His voice actor does not speak English as his first language, and is well known for a particularly famous bit of Engrish. He has improved greatly since then, even if his accent is still noticeable.
  • Walking Spoiler: Not because he's plot important, but because saying who he is gives away a punchline.

    Undercover Agent 
An American agent planted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Cuban base. Snake is hired by his employers to make contact with him and determine the nature of the base's activities.

If he is recruited by Big Boss, he reappears in The Phantom Pain with the codename "Mad Wallaby".

  • Deep Cover Agent: He's so devoted to keeping his cover that he asks Snake to make their meeting look like an attack, even giving his consent to be choked unconscious.
  • I Have Your Wife: The reason he sets you up, courtesy of Cipher. Boy, Cipher really love this, don't they?
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Modeled after Kojima Productions LA animator Brian Robison, although his voice is actually provided by actor Roger Rose.
  • The Mole: One on your side, he's been planted to gather information on the Cuban base, and stashed a tape for you to collect.
  • No Name Given: He is listed in the credits as "Undercover Agent", although in TPP, he is given the codename of Mad Wallaby. Notably, Hideo Kojima identified him as "Brian", due to his likeness being provided by a Kojima Productions Los Angeles animator named Brian Robison via facial motion capture.
  • The Mole: He sets you up, sending you to a trap baited with the wrong tape.

    Prisoner 12282 aka Bitter Centipede 
Voiced by: Matthew Mercer

A prisoner held at the black site during the "Destroy the Anti-Air Emplacements" mission. A member of MSF's Intel team, Kaz dispatched him to gather intel on the facility, only to be caught and forcibly interrogated. He can be rescued by Big Boss, in which case he'll rejoin Diamond Dogs after Mission 12 in "The Phantom Pain" under the codename "Bitter Centipede".

  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Suffers like everyone else at the black site. He didn't break. It took Skull Face approaching with kindness to even push him close to the edge.
  • Deep Cover Agent: That's what the Intel Team is supposed to be, if done right.
  • Foreshadowing: His discussion on what happened at the black site is how Kaz gets the idea on how to structure Diamond Dogs's Intel team. It's also the base structure of the Patriots AI system.
  • There's No Place Like Home: Desperately wants to return to Mother Base.
  • The Bus Came Back: Like anyone else rescued in Ground Zeroes, he returns in Phantom Pain.


An organisation created by Major Zero, connected to XOF. They would eventually become led by a bunch of AI's that will become The Patriots by Metal Gear Solid 2.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Well duh, they do end up becoming the main villains of the series.
  • Enemy Mine: Due to Skull Face's attack, they turned The Medic into Venom Snake.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: They become The Patriots, who manipulate world events to create an economy powered by war.
  • I Have Your Wife: They took the Undercover Agent's family to trap Big Boss. They have a back up agent within Camp who has the real tape.
  • Predecessor Villain: After Zero becomes infected by a parasite due to an attack by Skull Face, he commissions SIGINT and Strangelove to build an AI system capable of governing the world after Zero's eventual death. This AI system in time becomes known as the Patriots. La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo!.

Characters in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

"Love... hurts so bad... / But still... saved my soul..."
Voiced by: Stefanie Joosten (English and Japanese; also does her motion capture)

A Sniper deprived of her Words

A mute sniper with strange powers who works under XOF. After being captured in the field, she becomes a prisoner of Snake and Diamond Dogs. She later joins the PMC's ranks as a field operative, working side-by-side with Snake himself.

  • Action Girl: Par for the course in the series. Starts out as a Dark Action Girl, but turns into this after switching sides.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: She contains the missing English parasite, intended to kill Big Boss and wipe out the English language in case her assassination attempt failed. She can speak English fine, she chooses not to in order to protect Big Boss and the world instead.
  • Animal Motifs: The butterfly is a recurring theme with her. The pattern on her face which appears when she uses her abilities resembles a butterfly and the sniper rifles available to her are named "Wicked Butterfly", "Sinful Butterfly", and "Guilty Butterfly".
  • Assist Character: Once captured and turned around to the side of Venom Snake, Quiet is able to be used as a buddy. The "Vanguard Sharpshooter" trait on her profile gives you a clue as to what she is about: she can scout out an enemy base you designate in advance, marking important targets like vehicles, emplacements and guards on your map, and then take up a vantage point to provide supporting sniper fire. As her Bond grows she will lock on to a designated enemy allowing for tandem takedowns, begin at-will firing all enemies she can see, and eventually be able to ricochet thrown grenades for trick throws. Her rifle "Wicked Butterly" can be upgraded with a silencer, and you can develop a non-lethal version ("Guilty Butterfly") and a massive anti-armour rifle ("Sinful Butterfly"). Stealthy, deadly and tactically versatile, Quiet is an extremely powerful ally for Snake and suits any kind of playstyle.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason why she helps Venom Snake, and eventually, comes to love him enough to put his life over her own.
  • Blessed with Suck: Quiet's powers are derived from a special strain of vocal cord parasites which keep her alive after suffering serious burns, which also grant her camouflaging abilities, super speed, and impeccable eyesight which makes her all the more deadly a sniper. However, she was also given a strain of parasites that would be triggered by speaking English, forcing her to abstain from speaking to prevent herself and anyone around her from being infected.
  • Body Horror: Due to being set on fire in the prologue, you can occasionally see her skin flicker and change to expose raw red muscles, perhaps giving a hint at how her powers work and possibly showing the extent of the damage she took from Ishmael's chemical attack. After all, it's her power-enabling respiratory parasites which healed her wounds to begin with.
  • Book Ends: Quiet's story ends how it started as detailed here. The prologue and Quiet's last mission, "A Quiet Exit" features having the breath strangled out of a character as Quiet's theme is heard, enemies catching on fire, Ahab awakens to ask what happened to Quiet, and receiving a confused reply from a masked man who's helping Ahab up.
  • But Now I Must Go: In the mission "A Quiet Exit", she is forced to speak English in order to save Big Boss. This causes her vocal cord parasites to become infectious, and so she leaves Boss with a recorded message. After that, she can no longer be selected as a Buddy. Later subverted when the game was updated to version 1.06, as there is now a way to regain Quiet as a buddy - you must beat Cloaked In Silence 7 times and defeat her nonlethally with supply drops or sleeping gas, NOT nonlethal weapons.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Her butterfly motif is an allusion to how she was seemingly killed during the prologue, only to be reborn with superhuman powers.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Her skin changes to fit the environment, particularly facial patterns. This is a unique element of her modified parasite.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: At one point, Snake and Miller get into an argument over whether or not they should kill Quiet. Snake says that they will spare her for now, but he admits to Miller that they all likelihood are going to need to get rid of her at some point in the future and promises to eliminate her personally when that time comes.
  • Cherry Tapping: One of the effective ways of defeating her is calling a supply drop on her head. And it takes half her stamina meter.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Suffers this at Miller's insistence. At first she's electrocuted several times in a row, then she's drenched in salt water (which, due to the condition of her skin, could potentially kill her).
  • Cold Sniper: She's a mute and unrelenting sharpshooter, though she does have a softer side.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: She always aims for the cranium even if the enemy happens to wear a helmet and the face is exposed, eliminating the possibility of a One-Hit Kill. She can later obtain an anti-materiel rifle that can penetrate helmets and vehicles, but still cannot one-hit tranq an armored enemy.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Her sniping is already impressive, but the Parasite therapy also grants her access to some of the most brutal unarmed combat moves ever featured in the franchise, as seen in "A Quiet Exit".
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Before you can use Quiet as a buddy during missions, you must first defeat her in a sniper duel.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: When Quiet is first recruited as a buddy, she behaves rather cold and aloof towards Snake. But as your buddy bond score with her increases, she becomes more friendly and affectionate.
  • Determinator: Even before gaining her super powers, Quiet was a trained and tough Professional Killer, as seen when even when being set on fire she came seconds away from snatching up a discarded combat knife before the man sent her through the window by reigniting the flames. Let that sink in: she was already on fire and she was still crawling towards Ishmael to fight him and when he threw her knife at her she batted it away and kept on coming.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Absconds with a helicopter as the last missions unlock, and going to rescue her triggers the mission that removes her from your party for good. Presumably so you can't just sit back and let her devastate everything with a Brennan.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: She's the most difficult support buddy to use effectively. Timing is everything to using her effectively, with such tricks as shooting grenades out of the air. She can knock the helmet off an enemy, but obviously this will cause an alert unless you coordinate with her.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: She wears military boots but she will ditch them to go barefoot as soon as she possibly can.
  • The Dragon: To Skull Face at first, but is quick to join Snake’s side after her encounter with him.
  • Elective Mute: She deliberately doesn't speak because she's infected with the English strain of the vocal cord parasite.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: She received her superhuman abilities such as Super Speed, Improbable Aiming Skills, and Invisibility from parasites she got after failing to kill Venom Snake in the hospital. However, if she ever spoke English again, it would be fatal to herself, and cause others to be infected with the parasite.
  • Facial Markings: At times, particularly when focusing on sniping, she develops black splotches resembling the Rorschach Test on the skin around her eyes.
  • Failed a Spot Check: During her boss fight, she's so focused on the view through her scope, she ignores all her other senses and has No Peripheral Vision, making it simple to sneak up on her as long as you don't approach from in front of her.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Hideo Kojima declared fans would be "ashamed of their words and deeds" releated to Quiet's appearance. As it turns out, the reason that she is that her lungs were burnt to a crisp so now she can only breathe through her skin. Her physiology's so mangled that even wearing a shirt causes her to suffocate.
    • Watching her shower can be pretty hot... until she starts convulsing as she drinks the water she's soaked in through her skin. She then proceeds to lie on the floor and do the same thing with the pool of water there.
  • Fatal Flaw: Wrath. She could have asked Code Talker, in Navajo, to remove her English parasites. But she retained them because part of her still wanted revenge against Snake, even if she grew to love him.
  • Foil: She is one to D-Dog, from a gameplay standpoint. Both are Optional Party Members who act as your spotter, but while D-Dog stays by your side in missions and can affect guards in melee distance, Quiet is sniping far away from you. In addition to that, D-Dog is silent from the get-go and can distract guards, but cannot take down enemies until later, making him a better fit for infiltration than combat, while Quiet can kill pretty much anyone within her line of sight, but has no silent weapon at first.
    • Quiet is stoic, calm, collected, and starts out antagonistic and cold towards Venom Snake, but warms up to him eventually. In contrast, D-Dog is excitable, expressive, and loves Snake from beginning to end.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can later research and have her wear her old XOF tactical uniform with no ill effect. Same goes for the Sniper Wolf outfit DLC.
  • Good Counterpart: To the Skulls, though not initially.
  • Groin Attack: Pulls off two very brutal ones in a cutscene during "A Quiet Exit," first by axe-kicking one mook below the belt with enough force to draw blood, and then by repeatedly stabbing another mook in the jewels with a knife.
  • Heel–Face Turn: At the start of the game, she's a cold-blooded killer working for XOF. But after joining up with the Diamond Dogs she begins to display more humanity, at one point even jumping into a container filled with chlorine gas just to retrieve a necklace that belongs to one of the child soldiers, nearly losing her life in the process.
  • Held Gaze: One particularly memorable scene shows her stripping and dancing around Mother Base on a rainy day, inviting Venom Snake to play with her (which he does). It culminates in Snake catching her by the shoulders and the two of them staring into each other's eyes for a few seconds, before Quiet regains her composure. See it here.
  • Honey Trap: It's very heavily implied that the reason she has such revealing clothing instead of dressing comparitively modestly is to catch Snake off guard (Initially at least).
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The "Cover Me" command can wipe out most outposts without Snake having to lift a finger. She will also try to snipe any enemy that spots Snake before they raise an alert and unless they're wearing a helmet, she'll usually succeed.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Quiet can, on command, shoot thrown hand grenades, among other impressive feats. Comes with being an Empowered Badass Normal.
    • Shooting grenades actually is one of her less impressive skills. Quiet can headshot the pilot of a flying fighter jet, and is able to put six bullets in between the blades of a chopper's spinning rotor.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Much like the Beauties in Metal Gear Solid 4, Quiet is very closely modelled after the actress providing her motion capture (Stefanie Joosten, a Dutch model, actress, and singer who lives in Japan).
  • In Love with the Mark: As the player earns her loyalty (and unlocks more of her story) through gameplay, it slowly becomes evident that Quiet is starting to fall in love with Venom Snake. Compare her behaviour in the ACC, from aloof and stoic at low bond to visibly comfortable and almost smiling when it's maxed. This ultimately seals her Heel–Face Turn for good, and in the end, drives her to sacrifice her own life for him.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: She dresses in a bikini and stockings because she breathes through her skin. If she could breath normally, she'd wear the coveralls suitable to a spy or a sniper.
  • Invisibility: When crossing the map to a new vantage point, Quiet will activate her invisibility to prevent being intercepted by enemy forces. Only specialized sensing technology and night vision goggles can detect where she is. Subverted by some characters once they know how she ticks; one instance prior to leaving Mother Base has Kaz clang his crutch against the side of Pequod's chopper when something seems off. Quiet quickly reveals herself, looking distinctly unimpressed.
  • Intangibility: The black smoke powers she uses seem to be a combination of teleporting and/or dissipating into thin air so that nothing can touch her. At the very least she was able to remove her handcuffs by using those powers.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Resident Jerkass Miller outright calls her a "thing" at one point, and it's safe to assume that Skull Face's everyday treatment of her was no better when she was still under his employ.
  • Kill It with Fire: Ishmael tries to eliminate her with this in the opening scenes by dousing her with medical-grade ethanol, igniting it with a cigarette lighter and then hitting her with another bottle of of it seconds before she can grab a discarded combat knife. It causes her to fall out the window of the Cyprus hospital, results in her Parasite therapy, and is why she has trouble with clothes.
  • Kill It with Water: Sort of. Quiet "drinks" by absorbing water through her skin, but if she's completely submerged she'll drown just like a normal person or a plant would. Another side effect of her condition is that splashing her with salt water causes her great pain and, according to Code Talker, is even capable of killing her.
  • Killed Off for Real: The player has the option of killing her as soon as they first meet her, whether by draining her HP during their Boss Battle or personally executing her after draining her stamina. Also, it's implied she dies of exposure in the desert after leaving Venom Snake in her final mission.
  • Laser Sight: Uses a green one in contrast to everybody else's red. According to Miller, she doesn't actually need it, but uses it to mock Snake during their battle. As Snake's buddy, the laser sight lets him know whom she's targeting.
  • Magical Eye: Black eye shadow manifests around her eyes any time she uses her phantom powers. Not unlike the Parasite Unit/Skulls.
  • Meaningful Name: Uh, do we really have to explain this one?
    • While she never speaks until much later in the game, this is subverted by her continuous humming of her Leitmotif, titled simply "Quiet's Theme", which indicates she has aimed on a target and is ready to fire. Her Super Speed is also not exactly silent and sometimes the enemy will hear it and report it as an explosion from an unknown source, raising the alert status.
  • Mook Horror Show: Apart from sharpshooting, this is her other specialty which is only demonstrated in cut-scenes. She can pull off some ludicrously impressive unarmed combat and is highly brutal when taking apart her foes. The icing on the cake is the one she performs in "A Quiet Exit." Cutscene Power to the Max doesn't even begin to describe it as she utilizes super speed, superior agility, a combat knife, a devastating Groin Attack and even ripping one of her victim's ears off with her teeth among other things to annihilate them.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Her revealing attire exists because after being set on fire and receiving parasite therapy, she breathes, drinks, and absorbs sunlight through her skin. With no other form of nourishment available to her due to the damage inflicted by her burns, heavier clothing would slowly kill her. Still, her "sensitive condition" aside, the camera doesn't stop from giving players lots of close-up shots of Quiet's body, nor does it prevent her from having fanservice scenes. See Held Gaze above. It's briefly subverted in the prologue, since she's shown donning full combat uniform. The "bikini and stockings" look comes later. It's also so blatant she's clearly being sexy on purpose, possibly to be a Honey Trap to Snake. Also, she does have her own characterization and hidden agenda, despite her attractive exterior.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Unlocking the Sniper Wolf outfit for Quiet will cause her to wear a military uniform that's unbuttoned to give her a plunging neckline in the front, complete with no bra, in addition to giving her blonde hair and gold lipstick.
  • Never Found the Body: After being forced to trigger the parasites which would eventually compel her to kill Snake, she wanders off into the desert believing she would rather die than let that happen, as opposed to committing suicide here and now.
  • Nostalgia Level: Her boss fight is reminiscent of the duel against The End from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, taking place in a wide open field and tasking Snake with attempting to find her and defeat her while she snipes at him. She even has plant-like abilities that Ocelot takes note of in a cassette tape earned after the fight, absorbing water through her skin and photosynthesizing for sustenance in addition to healing herself.
  • Optional Party Member: Once you defeat her in battle, Snake is given the option of taking her to Mother Base as a recruit or just shooting her on the spot.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Mission 45 is a one-way trip. Upon completing it, you can no longer select Quiet as a Buddy. Subverted as of version 1.06, where she can be regained if the player completes "Cloaked In Silence" seven times.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: After Snake takes her back to Mother Base, she more or less stays there willingly, and even escapes her cell more than once only to go straight back.
  • Power Up Letdown: Several cutscenes are devoted to Quiet's superhuman skills, but when she is unlocked for gameplay she doesn't quite live up to the hype.
    • Her AI isn't smart enough to aim for the exposed faces of soldiers, so helmets make soldiers essentially immune to her attacks. This can be mitigated by giving her a sniper rifle that can pierce the helmets, but that sniper rifle can't be silenced and quickly gives away her position, forcing the player to micromanage her to prevent her from being injured.
    • Of the three buddies with skills that can mark enemies for the player, hers is the least reliable, often overlooking targets. It also can't be used to find soldiers outside of outposts.
    • Her "Shoot This" commandNote  is virtually pointless, since in most situations the player can simply throw the item where they want it themselves.
  • The Silent Bob: Doesn't speak after the prologue until chapter 45, where she calls in a chopper to extract Snake. This is due to the fact that if she speaks in English, it would activate her vocal cord parasites.
  • Sniping the Cockpit: She does this to a fighter jet during a cutscene. And if you equip her with the Sinful Butterfly rifle, she becomes capable of doing this to helicopter gunships.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Venom Snake. His allies are apprehensive of her at best since she's an assassin sent to kill him, and she herself ends up conflicted between her mission and her developing affections. Not long after she grows close enough with Snake to cement her Heel–Face Turn she ends up being forced to speak to save his life, thus activating her vocal cord parasites and dooming her to become a vector of infection and eventually die.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: She starts off as an enemy hired to kill Snake at any cost. She eventually becomes Venom Snake's Love Interest if you choose to capture her instead of kill her. Justified, since unlike her previous boss, Snake treats her with kindness and respect as a person, not a simple "tool" of destruction.
  • Super Speed: One of her powers is moving at superhuman speeds, allowing her to move across hundreds of feet in seconds while knocking out any person that's in her path.
  • Teleport Spam: Usually only implements this when she has to get up close and personal, and it's a combination of her Invisibility and Super Speed. It also scares the absolute piss out of the soldier who tried to take Quiet's clothes off, before she tears him and the rest of his comrades apart.
  • Together in Death: According to a bit of developer commentary, Quiet and Venom Snake are reunited after Solid Snake kills him at Outer Heaven.
  • Unstoppable Rage: After a failed Attempted Rape by a Soviet soldier, she proceeds to go utterly apeshit insane and tear him and his fellow soldiers apart with her bare hands.
  • Uncertain Doom: She disappears at the end of mission 45. Presumably she wandered off into the Afghan desert to die after activating the English strain of the vocal cord parasite. If you check the Mother Base personnel roster after that mission, her status is listed as MIA (Missing in Action).
  • The Voiceless: She can speak. In fact, she knows Navajo and English. However, she prefers not to speak in English because it would activate her vocal cord parasites.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • A very easy way to beat her is to call in supply drops on her, which will knock out half of her stamina each time.
    • Although it can't be used against her in-game, salt water can be this, according to Code Talker.
  • When She Smiles: Quiet's stoicism is almost as steadfast as her inner resolve, but on that rare moment she expresses genuine happiness, it's quite a beautiful sight. Tellingly, only Venom Snake ever receives this gesture from her.
  • With My Hands Tied: During "A Quiet Exit", she manages to take down several Soviet soldiers while her hands are tied behind her back, before being inadvertently cut free.

    Code Talker
"Since ancient times, every civilization's ruler has had the same idea. When people unite under one will, they become stronger than the sum of their parts. And what do rulers use to bring people together? Language."
AKA: Old Diné, A Wise Man Denied His Homeland

Voiced by: Osamu Saka (Japanese), Jay Tavare (English; also does his motion capture)

A blind, elderly man of Native American (specifically Navajo/Diné) descent.

  • The Atoner: Heavily regrets his work developing the vocal cord parasites, and is more than willing to sacrifice his original aim — creating a "deterrent" against language-based cultural imperialism — to see the English strain destroyed.
  • Blind Seer: His cataracts imply that he's lost his vision with his age. However, he can still 'see' with his parasites. Especially the color blue from that artificial-flavor super-chemical burger that Kaz presents him in the cassettes.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: During his youth, he was sent to one of the "Indian boarding schools" that were common in the United States and Canada in the late 19th century. In order to force him to assimilate, his teachers assigned the "students" English names and forced them to eat soap if they spoke a word of their native language.
  • Call-Back: In one of the cassettes, he describes the original parasite sample he was given to work with. Their effects will sound familiar to anyone who's played Metal Gear Solid 3 as the powers of The Pain and The End.
  • Eating Optional: While his parasites allow him to survive without food, he still loves a good hamburger. As he explains to Miller:
    Code Talker: I can subsist without food. But there is more to the act of eating than nourishment. We receive nature's blessings, and reaffirm our part in it. And in doing so, we express our gratitude.
  • Foil: To Huey. Unlike him, Code Talker hates what he had to do and actually owns up to his actions.
  • For Science!: Downplayed. When Ocelot asks him about his interest in working with the Vocal Cord Parasite, he asks if it was because, as a scientist, he had curiosity about them. Code Talker says that it's true, he was curious. But he also had darker motivations that drove him.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Displays shades of this, particularly around the things he eats.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Averted. He loves hamburgers, in spite of them being iconic to the nation that made his people suffer so much.
    Code Talker: Our people have suffered more than you know, but I do not see hamburgers as an accomplice.
  • Long-Lived: He's over 100 years of age, putting his date of birth somewhere in 1880. Code Talker's longevity is implied to be due to his body being largely made up of parasites.
  • Magical Native American: An interesting spin on the trope that subverts it. He acts like one, but he actually has a background in science, as the source of the parasites. He's also more down-to-earth and good-humored than he would appear at first.
    • Later subverted for humor when he asks Miller to make him a good burger. He starts by talking about them in a typical, Magical Native American spiritual manner, referring to them as symbols of Mother Nature's love (as they combine grain, vegetable and animal products), harmony, and other wishy-washy hogwash. Miller, taking him for some kind of hamburger philosopher, tries presenting him with more and more natural ones only to have them all rejected. When he finally gets tired of the naturalist crap, he reveals that all he's looking for is a chemical filled American frankenburger, going on a tirade about how making burgers is a science, not a religion, and that chemically stimulating the tongue makes for a more flavorful experience than combining free-range lambs with local produce.
  • Meaningful Name: His nickname is a reference to his role in encoding language recognition into the vocal cord parasites, and to the Native Americans who were employed by the U.S. Military during the World Wars to help transmit coded messages.
  • Plant Person: Much like The End, he thrives off photosynthesis, which not only gives him his longevity, but also makes it so he never needs to eat (although he likes a good burger). This is because he actually ingested the parasite that gave The End his photosynthesis powers, after having done research on The End's remains.
  • The Philosopher: Has some interesting views about the nature of language, not to mention is rather fluent in a complicated dialect of Navajo.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: He's working for Skull Face when you first meet him and is responsible for the existence of the Parasite Unit. It's also made clear Code Talker hates it, only doing so because Skull Face has threatened a slow death for the entire Navajo nation otherwise, and he's relieved upon being extracted to Mother Base.
  • Serious Business: Anything to do with hamburgers.
  • Soap Punishment: Part of Code Talker's backstory; at the Indian boarding school he was sent to as a child, this was the punishment for the students speaking their native tongue.
  • Third Eye: Thanks to his parasites, he seems to have a variant of this. One cutscene has Snake catching him in the act of using a pheromone-like ability to see what going on exactly all over Mother Base from the comfort of his wheelchair without moving, allowing him to behave somewhat like a shaman.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Hamburgers. It's also mentioned in audio tapes that he's very picky when it comes to them, frustrating Miller to no end.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It is unknown what happened to Code Talker after 1984 and how long his longevity would last.
  • The Worm That Walks: A rare non-evil example; most of his body is made up of parasites.
  • You Are What You Hate: As much as he resents what the United States had done to Native Americans, he also admits how he and his kind are "Americanized", anyway. Neither does he have the heart to hate all-American hamburgers.

    Dr. Evangelos Constantinou
"You've been in a coma for... quite some time. Yes, yes, I know. You'd like to know how long. I'm afraid it's been... nine years."
Voiced by: Hōchū Ōtsuka (JP), Christos Vasilopoulos (EN)

"It's true. There are those who wish you'd never woken up. You should be dead, but you're not. The waves are in motion. Your enemies are everywhere. We must alter your appearance immediately. Otherwise, I fear you won't leave this place alive."

A Cypriot doctor who assists Venom Snake during his coma and when he awakens in 1984. Besides overseeing the fallen soldier's gradual recovery, the doc's job is to feed him vital information whenever possible and (secretly) protect him from the XOF.

  • Character Customization: Subverted. As a means to protect Snake from Cipher, the Doc tells him they'll need to change his face and give him a new identity... only for the XOF invasion to put a stop to it. Then it turns out it already was successful. The player's "customized look" is actually Venom Snake's original face, before he underwent cosmetic surgery and brainwashing to become Big Boss's Body Double. The custom face appears occasionally in blink-and-you'll-miss-it shots showing Snake's reflection in the background, before being used prominently in The Reveal.
  • Gratuitous Greek: As Ocelot states in one of the first cassette tapes, the Dhekelia Hospital tends to hire local people to blend in with British territory (and confuse Cipher from locating Snake). The Doctor is no exception, as he chats in Greek with the nurse and repeats nosokoma (nurse) everytime Snake feels a traumatic reaction from the accident's aftermath.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: He wants to know your name, your birthday, and what your new face should look like. These things are not a coincidence.
  • Loss of Identity: To protect him from Cipher, the doctor bestows upon Snake a new name, "Ahab", telling him that whatever his past was, it is now but a "phantom". This lasts all of a few minutes, as he's already been discovered by his enemies. Turns out he gave Venom Snake more than a new name, though...
  • Mauve Shirt: He gives enough background to Snake to explain what's been going on over the last 9 years before getting strangled to death by Quiet.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dr. Constantinou bares an uncanny resemblance to Italian Neurosurgeon: Dr. Canavero.
  • No Name Given: Never once introduces himself. Although his name appears on his I.D. tag, so he may have felt that he didn't need to.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: If it weren't for him and the rest of his medical team's diligent efforts, "Ahab" would never have recovered in time to become the man known as Venom Snake.

    The "Man on Fire"
Click here to see his normal form. 
AKA: Colonel Volgin

'Voiced' by: Dave Fouquette (EN)

A demonic figure who absorbs kinetic energy and uses it to intensify his own flames. He's attracted to the rage and vengeful feelings of the characters, but is otherwise mindless. Mainly because he's, in fact, Colonel Volgin, who managed to survive his apparent death by lightning bolt and subsequently immolation, albeit in a comatose state. His thirst for revenge against Big Boss, coupled with his body being experimented on by a Russian institute, ultimately revives him under the influence of Tretji Rebenok as the Man on Fire. For tropes related to him when he was still fully alive, see MGS3's character page.

  • Advancing Wall of Doom: You can't do anything except flee from him until he's in shooting range.
  • Attack Reflector: Shooting him with most weapons is totally futile; he'll just absorb the bullets and then explode them back at you. He's basically The Power of Hate personified. Shotguns can knock him on his ass, though.
  • Back from the Dead: He is Colonel Volgin, back and with a massive grudge against Big Boss. While he technically never died, just put into a comatose state, it plays close enough.
  • Big Red Devil: He's orange instead of red, but the glow covering his body and the horns coming out of his head certainly give off this vibe.
  • Came Back Strong: Before he became the "Man on Fire", Volgin's only remarkable abilities were in his usage of electricity and being too determined to just plain die. Now, as the "Man on Fire", he flat out eclipses his former self with a wide range of new abilities.
  • Demonic Possession: After a fashion. As it's Volgin's remains infused with Psycho Mantis' powers through Soviet experimentation.
  • Determinator: Doesn't even begin to describe it. He will stop at nothing. He just absorbs bullets, shotgun shells will only push him back a bit, and explosive weapons, such as rockets, are completely useless on him.
  • I Die Free: Upon realizing that Venom Snake isn't Big Boss, what's left of Volgin finally allows himself to die in peace.
  • The Dreaded: In their brief encounter, even Ocelot is scared shitless of this thing, preferring to flee rather than fight. Which isn't helped at all by the thing being the corpse of his old commanding officer.
  • Energy Absorption: Regardless of what hits it, whether it's bullets, missiles, being run over, or even being shot point-blank by a tank's cannon, it'll simply take it and, after a moment to build up, reflects the damage tenfold.
  • Hell Is That Noise: His appearances are often preceded by a coarse mechanical groaning sound, as well as when he charges up his energy reflection ability. People also learn to listen for spontaneous fire sounds since they often herald his appearance.
  • Implacable Man: The man eats bullets, grenades, rockets and tank shells for breakfast, survives an armored car ramming right into him after firing a tank cannon, gets ran over by a who-knows-how-heavy platform holding Sahelanthropus and just gets up and walks/teleports away.
  • Kill It with Fire: Obviously. It starts a massive forest fire in the introduction, one which Ocelot and Venom Snake barely manage to flee from on horseback. Later, it burns down a research laboratory Skull Face is running in Africa when it's ordered to eliminate Snake who has infiltrated the place.
  • Kryptonite Factor: He can be slowed down by water, but one way to put him down for good during the fight in mission 20 is to use the fully upgraded stun arm (with a full level 3 charge), causing lightning bolts to hit and K.O. him in one shot. Fitting, since he was once a man with power over electricity who died set ablaze; now he's a creature of fire susceptible to the same element he used to command.
  • Logical Weakness: Being a Man on Fire, he's vulnerable to water. In the cassette tape "The Man on Fire's Weakness," Ocelot, despite expressing surprise at how simple it is to ward him off, nonetheless acknowledges that it makes sense.
  • Man on Fire: You bet. And he sets fire to everything else around him.
  • No Mouth: He has no visible mouth until he reverts to his old appearance before he dies for real.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: It's a spectre capable of maintaining both a physical presence in the world and being a very real threat to you. Subverted, as it's revealed that it already had a physical presence in the world... as Volgin. What it is is basically his charred remains that are reanimated.
  • Playing with Fire: The very least of its powers.
  • The Power of Hate: Literally, it is his power source. His entire mission is getting revenge against Big Boss for almost killing him. Upon realizing that Venom Snake is not Big Boss, the flames on his body go out instantly. The shock of learning he had hunted the wrong man was enough to quell his rage.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: When Eli gains control of the Third Child in Episode 30, the Man on Fire, under his influence, is made to walk underneath the wheels of Sahelanthropus' transport platform and get crushed.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Its modus operandi, not to mention the only reason it even exists. It's Volgin's rage against Big Boss for almost killing him.
  • Scars are Forever: If you manage to get a good look at his face, you can see that he still has Volgin's old lighting scars, further hinting at his true identity.
  • Soviet Superscience: It's also revealed to be a product of Soviet experimentation in addition to whatever the Sorrow helped leave behind.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: He's wearing the tattered remains of his old rubber bodysuit.
  • Technically Living Zombie: His body is technically comatose rather than undead, clinging to life through sheer hatred alone even before he was reanimated by Psycho Mantis.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Good ol' H₂O. In the cassette tape "The Man on Fire's Weakness", Ocelot even expresses surprise at how simple it is to defeat him.


The leader of the child soldiers, Shabani went missing in the Nzo ya Badiabulu, also known as the "Devil's House." Some of the child soldiers contact Diamond Dogs to ask for help in finding him.

  • A Father to His Men: The other child soldiers remark that Shabani was the one who took care of them, and saw after their needs.
  • Bilingual Bonus: He speaks nothing but Kikongo.
  • Child Soldier: The leader of a group of them.
  • Foreshadowing: Although Dummied Out from the normal game, the unfinished ending pointed out that Shabani's voice was starting to change, as is normal for puberty. This was going to hint what was about to happen to Eli.
  • Iconic Item: Wears a handcarved necklace of a lion. When Rebenok Mercy Kills him, his Empathic Shapeshifter nature causes the psychic to wear a duplicate of the necklace. This necklace is later kept by the child soldiers.
  • Mercy Kill: When Snake finds him, he's in terrible agony and begging for death. His despair is so great he actually leashes Rebenok long enough to give it to him.
  • Spanner in the Works: Unintentionally. His suffering and pain were so much greater than that of the Man on Fire that Rebenok became leashed to Shabani. This buys Venom Snake enough time to escape the Devil's House.

    Diamond Dogs
The successor military business and private army of Militaires Sans Frontières, formed by Venom Snake, Kaz Miller, and Ocelot. It was eventually absorbed into the first Outer Heaven.
  • Action Girl: Any female members in the Combat Unit certainly count, especially if the player regularly deploys them.
  • Alliterative Name: Diamond Dogs.
  • Amazon Brigade: By repeating certain side missions, it's difficult but certainly possible to make Diamond Dogs entirely female (excluding certain teammates like Miller and Ocelot).
  • Badass Army: They're all highly trained mercs from various global fighting forces, and even the random mooks are apparently able to catch a knife with their teeth.
  • Badass Normal: Gameplay-wise, all Diamond Dogs soldiers are virtually identical to Venom Snake, which means they can sneak through heavily fortified military bases and defeat a squad of Ninja Pirate Zombie Robots and 50-foot tall Humongous Mecha without breaking a sweat.note 
  • Blood Knight: Every soldier patrolling Mother Base will beg the player to send them into combat if they get the chance.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Strangely, all Diamond Dogs soldiers absolutely love it when the player attacks them. Sometimes, while choking them, it's even common for them to beg them to squeeze "harder".
  • Cuteness Proximity: All of them practically squee at the sight of D.D. as a puppy.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Diamond Dogs are definitely not evil, just very morally questionable at times. As long as they are willing to follow orders and do them well, they don't discriminate for reasons like gender, race, or national origin. That they take in all people, regardless of origin, brings in the Kikongo strain of the vocal cord parasite, and makes it virulent.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite the lengths they're willing to go to in order to get revenge on Skull Face and XOF, the Diamond Dogs still have lines they refuse to cross. Most notably, they all are in agreement that what Huey had been doing was far beyond the pale, and don't hold back in expressing disgust with what Huey did to his wife and tried to do with his son.
  • Fan Girl: Apparently there's a "Team Ocelot" and "Team Miller" among the female ranks.
    • Every girl is in love with Venom Snake, as well as a number of the guys.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Each soldier has the chance of personally thanking the Boss for saving the animals he comes across on his missions.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Venom Snake can "Knock" by twisting his prosthetic wrist around, causing it to crack loudly and spark, drawing attention towards his location. Diamond Dogs that take over strike missions in his place, having no Artificial Limbs, accomplish the same by cracking their knuckles and wrists loud enough for soldiers to hear.
  • Player Character: Almost every single Diamond Dogs soldier has the ability to be sent out on missions and controlled by the player if put into the Combat Unit.
  • Serious Business: A pair of soldiers treat whether or not D.D. is a wolf or a dog like this.
  • Theme Naming: Yet another David Bowie reference as Diamond Dogs is one of his albums.
    • As for the staff members themselves, all but a few unique characters share the word + animal code name scheme that many MGS characters have used.
  • Undying Loyalty: They will follow Snake to the end, no matter what.
    Diamond Dog Soldier: We live and die by your order, Boss.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Go out of their ways to ensure the safety of any child soldiers.
  • You're Insane!: When Huey stands trial to be judged, he unjustifiably accuses them of being this by word, and "seeing phantoms" citing that (in his eyes) they are alone; hence they "suspect their own" saying that they cling on to "dogs, wolves, and even Big Boss" to forget all their pain and sins. This doesn't work since the Diamond Dogs have a very good reason to treat Huey with disdain and anger. The man after all did screw over MSF just to get a position within Cipher, and him accusing them of being Psychopaths only ensured Miller that Huey is indeed isn't one of them.
    Huey: You're nothing but a bunch of psychopaths!
    Miller: "You're?" So you're not with us?


A wolfdog puppy that Venom Snake finds in the wilderness after its mother has been killed. Snake takes him back to base and raises him with help from Ocelot, whereupon he becomes a valuable field asset and companion to the legendary soldier. His main function as a buddy is to automatically mark enemies, prisoners and items as you approach from a distance, making search-and-rescue missions a snap and undoing the problem of blind corners in outposts. He can also be equipped with some small weapons that let him take out enemies or Fulton them on his own.

  • Action Pet: This wolfdog can actively assist his master, Venom Snake, on dangerous field missions.
  • Assist Character: With his superb sense of smell and hearing, D-Dog is the ultimate stealth buddy. By far his most useful ability is he automatically marks any enemies, wild animals, prisoners, weapons, vehicles and mines within a sizeable radius - but not diamonds, blueprints or material boxes. He can be upgraded with his own loadouts to stun, kill or wound enemies you sic him on, and he can also bark to draw enemies towards him, perfect for luring enemies out of the way or into an ambush (they will not attack him unless he initiates an attack himself, thinking he is a wild stray animal). His final upgrade allows him to function as a rescue dog, fultoning enemies and prisoners away at your command. However D-Dog is much less useful in combat (as he has no ranged attacks and he can only attack one enemy at a time) and he is even more fragile than D-Horse.
  • Badass Adorable: D.D. is available as an AI companion during gameplay. Any dog capable of keeping up with Snake's insane mission antics has to be a badass by default. And yes, it goes without saying he's an adorable animal.
  • Boring, but Practical: Vanilla D.D. doesn't have any fancy tricks other than biting guards keeping them busy for a moment or barking to lure them away, but his ability to find guards, prisoners and land mines is invaluable.
  • Canis Major: D.D. is a wolfdog, not a pure wolf, indicated by his wagging his tail in a domesticated fashion, and that pure wolves are not known to bark the way he does, serving as a Call-Back/Call-Forward to Solid Snake and Big Boss's love for dogs and passion for dog-sledding as a sport. His wolf genes mainly account for him being a very big dog — big enough to knock Snake to the ground.
  • Canine Companion: Ocelot fashions D.D., short for Diamond Dog, as the mascot for Snake's Diamond Dogs group. Furthermore, the wolfdog is clearly affectionate around Snake, being seen jumping on the man's leg and licking his face. As a grown wolfdog, he accompanies Snake during a mission, eagerly jumping into the helicopter before he gets on it. If Snake is spotted by an enemy and D.D. is close enough to him he'll jump to bite the enemy and keep him busy as well, this probably won't stop an alert from triggering, but will prevent the enemy from shooting you.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: One of the key features of D.D. is that he can detect enemy soldiers and land mines from a non-insignificant distance.
  • Eye Scream: D.D. has a scarred right eye as a puppy. After the timeskip, he has an eyepatch over his right eye, serving as an animal counterpart to Snake.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Wears an eyepatch over his right eye, just like his master Snake.
  • Eyepatch After Time Skip: We first see D.D. as a puppy, but when we see him next, he's a grown up wolfdog sporting an eye patch over his scarred right eye.
  • Foil: He is one to Quiet, from a gameplay standpoint. Both are optional party members who act as your spotter, but while D-Dog stays by your side in missions and can affect guards in melee distance, Quiet is sniping far away from you. In addition to that, D-Dog is silent from the get-go and can distract guards, but cannot take down enemies until later, making him a better fit for infiltration than combat, while Quiet can kill pretty much anyone within her line of sight, but has no silent weapon at first.
    • Quiet is stoic, calm, collected, and starts out antagonistic and cold towards Venom Snake, but warms up to him eventually. In contrast, D-Dog is excitable, expressive, and loves Snake from beginning to end.
  • Heroic Dog: As our protagonist's loyal Canine Companion.
  • Howl of Sorrow: Die in battle, and he howls in sadness before the Game Over screen pops up.
  • Irony: Noted by Snake when he ponders on Ocelot's codename and his affiliation with cats, "Ocelots raising hounds. Huh."
  • Noble Wolf: Very affectionate and friendly around Snake and Ocelot, and is clearly loyal enough to serve along Snake in combat.
  • Team Pet: The mascot of Diamond Dogs, and clearly capable of going on missions making him both a loyal soldier and mascot.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: D.D. is pretty much Venom Snake if he were a wolfdog, right down to the badass infiltration and assassination capabilities, and eyepatch. He can even don a cute sneaking suit based off Venom's.


A horse that Snake rides into Afghanistan and can use as a support buddy.

  • Assist Character: D-Horse presents a superior cross-country transport option to almost any vehicle. He is as fast as the Jeep and much stealthier and better at crossing rough terrain, and you are able to use weapons on horseback and carry a single passenger. He can even be commanded to poop on command, which has some certain creative uses. D-Horse can even be used as a distraction for vehicles. His only weakness is his limited utility in combat, as he obviously has no chance against armed opponents, and while he can be upgraded with body armour, gunfire will still hurt him badly. Overall, D-Horse would suit any Speedrunners or players with a mobility-centred style.
  • Automaton Horse: Subverted in the sense that he can take a crap (and eventually do so on command), but otherwise D-Horse never really needs any maintenance, probably because that's being taken care of at Mother Base.
  • Boring, but Practical: D-Horse isn't particularly fancy, but nine times out of ten, he's your best bet if you want to get from point A to point B without being spotted.
  • Continuity Nod: He's the same breed and color as The Boss's horse from Metal Gear Solid 3.
  • Cool Horse: Snake can use him as transport and way to hide when passing by enemy camps. He can also be used to cause diversions and traps by defecating on command.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Fittingly for the man who attempts to embroil the world in a permanent state of war, D-Horse calls to mind both the rider representing conquest and the one representing death.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: As long as you whistle-call and the camera is facing away from him, D-Horse will generally appear by your side within seconds, making him very useful for speedy/flexible romps, especially when padded with extra armor.
  • Refuge in Audacity: His excrement can be used to disable enemy vehicles.
  • Team Pet: Like D.D., he can be used on missions as a support buddy.
  • White Stallion: The ideal mount for a decorated soldier.

"Lock and loaded."

A bipedal robot which Snake can either pilot himself, or set to fight alongside him.

  • Ace Custom: Unlike regular Walker Gears, which are restricted to dual AM-D114 pistols and either a gatling gun or missile launcher, its loadout can be customised with different weapons for different purposes.
  • Assist Character: Diamond Dog's pet robot D-Walker is the buddy of choice for players who prefer assault and open combat. It can be modified extensively to fit just about any combat role you desire for it, given different heads to modify his behaviour and weapon loadouts for different targets. D-Walker can bring heavy firepower to even the odds if things get loud, or be a spotter for a Snake with a sniper playstyle, or even be an "extra man with a gun" for ambushes and overwatch fire support. Like D-Horse you can mount and ride it (though it is not as all-terrain as the horse and you stick out... well, like a man riding on the back of a big robot running through the desert), it can mark targets like D-Dog (though not plants or items) and it can provide cover fire and quick takedowns like Quiet (and while it is shockingly proficient at this, it doesn't quite have her superhuman skill and precision nor her stealth). D-Walker can be upgraded with all manner of gadgetry including less-than-lethal weaponry, stealth camo, auto-search and auto-overwatch modes, and close combat weapons. However while D-Walker is very handy to have around, be prepared for exorbitant upgrade and deployment costs to get the chance to play with this oversized toy; D-Walker can cost in excess of 11,000 GMP to deploy with many upgrades, several times the cost of D-Dog or Quiet.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Using it for stealth is not easy. But a clever player can "tag" enemies with tranquilizers from a distance saving ammo and suppressors from their main weapons and down other enemies before their effect kicks in, and use its "driver mode" at low speeds to quickly approach scattered guards and take them down silently.
  • Expy:
    • Resembles a scaled-up version of the Metal Gear Mk. II / Mk. III.
    • Likewise, D-Walker bears a resemblance to the Metal Gears seen in the first two games.
    • The way it skates along the ground also makes it look like a stripped-down Knightmare Frame.
    • Its H-Discharger main weapon is identical to the Pupa AI-Weapon's Shock unit. Apparently, Huey saved a copy of the design specs.
  • Gatling Good: One model comes equipped with one.
  • Grapple Move: Its CQC arm will grab enemies and slam them on the ground instantly stunning them.
  • Guns Akimbo: Can dual-wield specially-designed pistols.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Like D-Horse it's fast, maneuverable, and surprisingly stealthy. Like Quiet it can be set to automatically protect you, and like D-Dog it can scan the area for enemies. Also, it can carry more ammo than Snake ever could, and it's really good against The Skulls. D-Walker also is very good if you need to get one person, usually a prisoner, away very fast.
  • Lightning Bruiser: It's quite fast at top speeds and with its armor upgrades it can take a good number of shots before going down, not to mention you can equip it with a gatling gun, missiles, flamethrower or a high voltage gun.
  • Magikarp Power: D-Walker starts off less than impressive compared to D-Dog's reliable tagging or Quiet's sniping abilities, but upgrading it will also it the ability to tag enemies too, house an absurd amount of firepower or have even a pistol with infinite suppressor.
  • Master of None: Especially before you've researched its upgrades. It is hard to control at top speed, you can't use iron-sights with its guns, and it can't regenerate health.
  • Megaton Punch: Hilariously enough, the CQC arm's default attack is an uppercut that will send any unfortunate soul it hits flying.
  • Mini-Mecha: A customized Walker Gear.
  • Robot Buddy: On several levels.
  • Rollerblade Good: Has an alternate mode that lets it skate along the ground, even in the desert!
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Falls somewhere between "Brick" and "Robo-Monkey". As a vehicle, he's very mechanical, but he has a tendency to make emotive beeps and small gestures while assisting Snake.

    The "SKULLS" Parasite Unit
AKA: Those who don't exist

A unit of biologically and technologically enhanced soldiers that hunt down Venom Snake, and are under Skull Face's orders.

  • Achilles' Heel:
    • Their parasite, "The One That Covers", has one crippling weakness; they dehydrate their owners very quickly, leading to an intense need for water. Normally they mitigate this with the mist they spontaneously generate, but even that won't last them forever. This can be used against them by making it rain with the "Weather Control" upgrade or using the squirt gun on them as they will cease all other functions so that the parasite can absorb the water.
    • The basic Skulls and Armored Skulls can be CQC countered during their melee attack animation, nullifying their attack and leaving them vulnerable to gunfire for a few seconds; the counter window is very small so it takes skill to pull it off, but if you can manage it, it makes fighting them quite straightforward as long as you stay close to prevent them from using their assault rifles.
  • Artificial Zombie: Their gait makes them appear to be zombie-like, but they're actually soldiers enhanced by by the parasites developed by Skull Face as a means to rob the world of English.
  • Bald of Evil: Complete lack of hair on men and women: Check. Do the dirty work for Skull Face: Check.
  • Barrier Warrior: Armor-Skulls can encase their bodies in stone, leaving another health bar that must be taken down to damage them. If it's broken, they can recharge it if you leave them alone long enough.
  • BFS: They come equipped with a machete that can cut through vehicles like wet tissue paper.
  • Body Horror: Parasites forming their skin and parts of their armor notwithstanding, Mission 29 shows that they have a Healing Factor that can regenerate damaged parts of their bodies from scratch. Of course, we first have to see their damaged forms, and seeing a man walking upright and towards you with a torso and head that looks to have been flayed is not a pretty sight.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: While a Skull encounter isn't as detailed as the boss fights against Quiet, the Man on Fire, White Mamba, or Sahelanthropus, each Skull encounter is essentially a boss fight. There are only a handful of them throughout the game, combat during them doesn't count against your mission rating just like with a boss, and each one is pretty damn tough.
  • Butterface: The female Skulls have incredibly voluptuous figures with Jiggle Physics, yet the mere fact that they are veiny, pale-skinned, cyborg-like bald women makes them appear nightmarish rather than sexy. The game makes emphasis of this by showing shots of their breasts and butts before moving to their faces.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: They have inkblot-like patterns around their eyes caused by the parasites. Unlike Quiet's, these seem to be permanent.
  • Cyber Ninja: Technically, they are a continuation of the recurring Cyborg Ninjas in the series... only this time, they are a whole unit of them.note  They also bear a passing resemblance to Sundowner.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: If the player opts to fight the Skulls when recovering the Honey Bee weapon, Miller's first reaction to beating them is to praise Snake as the greatest soldier in the world.
  • Dehumanization: They're already Mooks, but Kaz explicitly doesn't consider them human. Ones that you Fulton are permanently kept in cages unless you use the Parasite Suit, which will result in them being killed for their parasites.
    • To be fair, it's heavily implied that their regime of parasite therapy, and heavy psychological, chemical and even possibly surgical conditioning has permanently reduced them to a bestial state. In any case, they're never show any signs of being capable of communication or higher reasoning.
  • Degraded Boss: The female Skull snipers are essentially a Wolfpack Boss version of the Quiet boss fight, though they're actually slightly more durable than Quiet, likely due to being fought much later in the game. They also can do melee attacks, unlike Quiet, due to possessing a blade like the other Skull types.
  • The Dreaded: For players and In-Universe characters alike. Miller mentions in a cassette tape that when he was captured in Afghanistan, he was taken in by the Skulls. A strange mist formed around him and his men and they didn't even realize they were being attacked until limbs and other body parts started raining down around him. His men were wiped out in minutes and Miller thinks that the only reason he survived was because the Skulls made a mistake. On the player side of things, a mist rolling in is basically your cue to book it to an LZ or prepare for the fight of your life; Miller and Ocelot even typically warn Snake to run rather than face them.
  • Empathic Environment: Their presence is always announced by a thick mist. It's an Invoked Trope, as they create the mist from one of their parasite strains.
  • Elite Mooks: Whenever these show up, you must either fight like hell, or run like hell. There is no middle ground. Their abilities are also considerably more superhuman than other Elite Mooks seen in the series, such as Arsenal Gear's Tengu troopers or Outer Haven's FROGS.
  • Flash Step: Both the basic and armored Skulls can do this to pursue you, dodge sustained automatic weapons fire, or launch a surprise melee attack at close range.
  • Four Is Death: They always deploy in teams of four.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: the Mist Unit are a very prominent example.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: To a degree. While the elite male Skulls have guns and are not afraid to use them, they generally prefer to go for melee attacks with fists, swords and telekinetic explosive rocks. The elite female Skulls, by contrast, are all Glass Cannon snipers. They do possess swords, but seldom, if ever, decide to use them, and that's only if you've been spotted by them, otherwise the Sniper Skulls never use their blades.
  • Hammerspace: The Skulls can seemingly spawn weapons like submachine guns out of thin air. Their introductory cutscene shows them doing just that.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Unless you extract them, you never actually kill the Skulls; depleting their health bar with lethal damage simply knocks them out for a few minutes or so, after which they recover and retreat.
    • Mission 29 explicitly shows that they have one, and it is a pretty expansive one at that. Not everyone can recover from having large sections of their bodies burnt up and destroyed in a helicopter crash with no repercussions.
  • Implacable Man: A small army of them. You either stop them or they'll stop you dead through superior firepower, endurance and ability to keep up with you should you try to flee.
  • Lightning Bruiser: While Mist-Skulls aren't to be taken lightly, Armor-Skulls are bigger but just as manoeuvrable and take a lot more damage to put down.
  • Logical Weakness: On more than one occasion it's been pointed out that they require massive amounts of water in order to be effective, indeed whenever they appear the area is almost immediately shrouded in mist. However therein lies their problem, as their mist can only cover so much ground and water is scarce in naturally arid areas such as Afghanistan and certain parts of Africa. Aside from a single boss fight that requires defeating four of them, running away from them is a valid method of dealing with them as they cannot leave their mist.
    • Their parasites love water, to the point of abandoning anything else if a large source of it appears. Whenever it rains the Skulls immediately drop their activities in order for the parasites to absorb the rain, and water pistols can momentarily stun them as well.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: The male Skulls all seem to have some sort of breathing apparatus strapped to their faces, further dehumanizing them while simultaneously ramping up their fear factor. Crosses over with Gas Mask Mooks after the reveal that the parasites that comprise their skin need to breathe, which the masks are implied to supplement with oxygen since they can't breathe through their heavy armor. The females bypass this by having skimpier outfits that allow the parasites to breathe easier.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Well, they get 3 parts of the trope name down to a T. They jump around and attack like ninjas, walk and shamble about like zombies, as well as having rotting/decaying/sickly looking skin that gives them an undead appearance, and are enhanced by technologically advanced armor and weaponry. The closest that they come to being pirates is that the female snipers have a Solid Eye style eyepatch.
  • Skippable Boss: Every Skull encounter save for the very last one in Mission 29 can be avoided or skipped by evasion or running away.
  • The Speechless: The only noises they make are a sort of a choking sound when hurt, and what can only be described as a "whispery scream" when attacking.
  • Super Prototype: After a fashion. The Skulls foreshadow later attempts at creating enhanced soldiers, such as the Genome Soldiers stationed at Shadow Moses in the first Metal Gear Solid and the cyborgs and SOP users seen afterwards, using parasites and experimental conditioning in place of genetics, cybernetics or nanomachines.
  • Superpowered Mooks: They have distinctive superhuman abilities. They can sprint as fast as a horse or vehicle, seemingly teleport short distances, take an inhuman amount of punishment before they go downnote , can infect others with their inner parasite, can jump high enough to disappear into the sky, and can land from high altitudes without hurting themselves. They can also spawn weaponry out of thin air. It's implied by their glowing eyes that they can see in the dark as well. Mist covers any area where they're deployed, which is also derived from their powers.
  • Teleport Spam: They ruthlessly abuse this power, making it almost impossible to shoot any one of them for more than a few seconds. Their melee attacks consist of teleporting into your face or lunging at you from above. They'll even warp directly on top of your vehicle to gradually destroy it!
  • Weaksauce Weakness: As unbelievable as it sounds, the Sniper Skulls can do nothing if you're inside a smoke plume provided by smoke grenades, so as long as you have Grade 4 NVGs and a powerful-enough sniper rifle, you can freely pick them off at your leisure whilst inside the smoke plume without them ever firing back at you, just make sure to re-apply a smoke grenade whenever the one you used starts to expire in order to freely pick them off so that they never trigger the classic ! sound. Yes, this even works on their Extreme counterparts, including Quiet herself, where they can usually kill you with one shot of their rifles.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: They essentially just vanish after Skull Face's death, without definitively being killed nor any mention of them for the rest of the game, while the rest of XOF is at least confirmed to still be active. Even the cut content doesn't further discuss them.
  • Wolfpack Boss: A single Skull is strong, but manageable even with moderate equipment. The problem is they always attack in squads of four, which makes them extremely dangerous.
  • Zombie Gait: They shamble about in a manner reminiscent of zombies, but much faster.

     Vocal Cord Parasite 

A species of parasites that infest the vocal cords and procreate upon being exposed to a specific language. They play a crucial role in Skull Face's Evil Plan.

A related species, "the one that covers," is the source of Quiet's powers, as well as those of the Skulls.

  • Body Horror: Once they begin to reproduce, they do so by consuming the victim's lung tissue. The symptoms of infestation manifest as large blue tumorous sacks on the victims' chests.
  • Call-Forward: Their uses foreshadow FOXDIE and the role played by nanomachines decades down the line.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The parasites, given the right conditioning, can grant incredible powers to those infected by them.
  • Flawed Prototype: The precursors to nanomachines, they grant similar superhuman abilities to their users, but often at a great cost. For Quiet, she is unable to breath normally and must have her skin exposed; for others, such as the parasite unit, their upper brain functions have all but ceased, making them nothing more than living weapons.
  • The Immune: Children cannot be infested by the vocal cord parasite, as their vocal cords are not fully developed.
  • Logical Weakness: They can be prevented from procreating if the host simply doesn't speak.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: In the tapes of Code Talker describing his research, he mentions that the Vocal Cord Parasites have existed since the Permian period, and infected many different species since then. This is very unusual behavior, even for parasites. note 
  • Puppeteer Parasite: In the backstory, a benevolent one. The parasites infested the vocal cords of their hosts, and allowed them to make different sounds. Code Talker points out that this is quite normal in nature, although the parasites were unique because they had other hosts make the sounds. In humans, this developed their vocal cords and allowed for complex sounds, and eventually, language.
  • Sterility Plague: Not so much the Parasite but the vaccination treatment. Code Talker modified a Wolbachia parasite to infest the Vocal Cord Parasite. Since Wolbachia introduces sex change within the parasites, it renders all of the parasites female, and thus, unable to copulate. As a side effect, it alters the cells within the host's body, causing their sperm cells to kill egg cells on contact, rendering the person infested with the parasite free from the parasite's harmful effects, but unable to produce children.
  • Super Empowering: They're responsible for the powers of Quiet and the Skulls, as well as The End and The Pain.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: They're explicitly described as being even more dangerous than a Metal Gear.

     Metal Gear Codename: Sahelanthropus
AKA: Sahelanthropus, ST-84 Metal Gear

The newest model of the titular Metal Gear following ZEKE, Sahelanthropus is Soviet in design, although it is implied that Huey may have had a hand in its construction. Capable of switching between a hunched over lumbering form (similar to the later REX model), and a massive standing form capable of wielding a nano-fiber whip that summons tectonic spikes upon striking the ground.

  • Action Bomb: While never used as such, Sahelanthropus can use the metallic archea inside it to enrich its depleted uranium armor and turn itself into a giant walking nuke.
  • BFG: Has a massive railgun mounted on its shoulder.
  • BFS: Wields a pair of giant nano-fibre whips capable of hardening into an 18-wheeler sized straight-sword.
  • Call-Forward: Its design, befitting its status as a "missing link", has elements of both Metal Gear REX and RAY. Specifically, its iconic head, legs, crotch weaponry, railgun and spherical side mounted "radome" all pay homage to REX, while its upright mode and arms pay slight homage to RAY. Apparently Otacon used Sahelanthropus as a subconscious "blueprint" when designing REX, as the heads are almost identical. Though REX was never designed to be upright, unlike Sahelanthropus.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: The metallic archaea within Sahelanthropus will eats its own body, and can turn it into a nuclear bomb.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: During your first gameplay encounter with it, no matter how perfectly you stealth around it after it loses track of you from the initial chase, the Sahelanthropus magically knows your general position and is always on top of you, making stealthing around it to reach the extraction point that much more frustrating, especially since being spotted by it means you have to start the whole chase and escape over again.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Averted. When Snake runs through a narrow cliff pass impassable to Sahelanthropus, instead of giving up, the ST-84 simply switches to its standing form and demolishes the cliffs.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: An interesting variation, in which ST-84 is a walking bipedal weapons system, and thus, would be known to be a war machine by anyone. However, since it uses only conventional weaponry and only has depleted uranium armor, it would not raise the suspicions of any nuclear watchdogs. But because of the metallic archaea, ST-84 can turn itself into a nuke.
  • Expy: Given Kojima's well-known love of movies, it wouldn't be surprising if the Sahelanthropus's shape and weapon of choice was inspired by Balrog from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
    • It also references the uplifted ape with the bone from the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • Its more humanoid form bears a passing resemblance to Universal Century mobile suits, complete with head vulcans.
    • Its overall appearance when standing, along with its occasionally bestial movements, is also similar to an Evangelion. Also similar to the Evas from Evangelion, Sahelanthroprus can only be piloted by children. Furthering the link is the name of the psychic boy who helps Eli control it: Tretij Rebenok, Russian for "Third Child", which was the designation given to Shinji Ikari from Evangelion.
    • The placement of its crotch-mounted flamethrower reminds many of the Orbital Frames from Zone of the Enders, another Kojima-produced series.
  • Final Boss: Ultimately, it's the Final Boss of the main story, and the final mission period is just a harder version of the boss battle.
  • Flawed Prototype: It's completely useless without external/supernatural aid to compensate for its defective/inadequate control system, rendering the current design useless for mass/serial production. The issues it suffers from are due to repeated changes in design direction (being originally designed for AI control then being redesigned very late in its development for manned piloting), and promptly running into crippling balance weight issues since the drive system wasn't intended to bear the weight of an adequately protected cockpit. Its cockpit is also too small to fit an adult pilot; only a child can comfortably pilot it. Its shoulder-mounted railgun suffers from recoil issues; Sahelanthropus must anchor itself to the ground in its hunched over "REX mode" to utilize it without knocking itself over.
  • Ground Pound: When the Sahelanthropus strikes the ground with its nanofiber whip-sword, it creates a rippling trail of metallic pylons.
  • Humongous Mecha: On par with Rex in its hunched over form, and towering over it in its standing form.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: A flaming, nanofiber whip-sword that shoots explosive pylons out of the ground.
  • Made of Iron: Sahelanthropus is unique in that its armor is made from depleted uranium, which is denser than lead and thus extremely durable. However...
  • Made of Explodium: Given the right catalyst, its depleted uranium armor means the Metal Gear itself turns into a walking nuclear bomb that can be detonated as a self-destruct function. note 
  • Meaningful Name: Sahelanthropus is a hominid species that is theorized to be a common ancestor to humans and chimpanzees. It even makes chimp-like screeching noises as it acts in battle.
    Kojima: To move forward to the new world, you need to stand up.
  • Paper Tiger: Emmerich uses this word for word when describing Sahelanthropus. When Big Boss captures him he mentioned that at that point he was struggling with finding a proper method of control for the Metal Gear, and as result Sahelanthropus was by all rights just a hunk of metal for all the good it's firepower was. Emmerich couldn't make room for an actual piloting system due to weight and balance issues. Not only that but Skull Face insisted that A.I. wouldn't be used, and Emmerich found radio control to be too vulnerable and unresponsive. The only reason why Skull Face got it to move was because of Tretij Rebenok who could control it through telekinesis. Any actual attempts at piloting it would fail due to the cockpit being too small, and there not being any actual system of control in place.
  • Phallic Weapon: The crotch flamethrower.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Its cockpit is too small for an adult, but a child might fit...
  • Taking You with Me: The reason Huey used depleted uranium for ST-84's body, so that, if worse comes to worst, ST-84 can use the metallic archaea within its body and self-destruct, taking the enemy along with it.
  • Theme Naming: Like Metal Gear REX and Metal Gear EXCELSUS, its named after an extinct animal.
  • Walking Tank: Subverted. Unlike other Metal Gears, this one appears to have more of a humanoid shape. Also subverted on the walking part, since it doesn't work without psychic assistance.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Its fate following the events of Phantom Pain is never discussed, as it was last seen being recovered from Eli's island by Diamond Dogs, in a terribly damaged albeit repairable state.
  • Whip It Good: Sahelanthropus wields a pair of nanofiber whips capable of hardening into a gigantic straight-sword.

Unmarked spoilers in the bios below. Proceed with extreme caution if you have not finished the game yet.
    Punished "Venom" Snake
"...I'm already a demon."
AKA: Ahab, Big Boss, V, The Phantom, The Medic

Voiced by: Akio Ōtsuka (JP), Kiefer Sutherland (EN)

"I won't scatter your sorrow to the heartless sea. I will always be with you. Plant your roots in me. I won't see you end as ashes. You're all diamonds."

9 years after falling into a coma at the end of Ground Zeroes, Big Boss awakens to find his left arm has been amputated and the entire world wants him dead. After escaping from the hospital he's being held in, he assumes the codename "Venom Snake" and takes charge of a new mercenary unit called Diamond Dogs to get revenge on the people who took everything from him, no matter the cost.

It is eventually revealed that he is not actually Big Boss, but MSF's top soldier, a medic who shielded Big Boss from the explosion that downed their helicopter at the end of Ground Zeroes. With the aid of rogue elements within Cipher, including a repentant Zero, Ocelot and Big Boss subjected him to plastic surgery and hypnotherapy to transform him into a perfect Body Double to throw Skull Face and the nascent Patriots off their tail. Years later, he would sacrifice his life to help Big Boss fake his death after the Patriots discovered Outer Heaven.
  • The Ace: Even after a 9 year coma, he's still Big Boss's best operative — and thus the perfect candidate for becoming Big Boss's phantom.
  • All Your Powers Combined: With no upgrades, his physical abilities are equal to a Combat Unit soldier with no action skills (so a soldier with the Athletic action skill will run faster than he does, etc). Once he fully upgrades his prosthetic arm, he behaves as though he has every action skill (so he runs as fast as an Athletic soldier, has as much reflex time as a Gunman soldier, has as much health as a Tough Guy soldier, etc).
  • Anti-Hero: Though he is fighting the evil Skull Face, and he thinks the world of his men, he's still a war criminal torturing non-combatants, stealing nuclear weapons, and employing Child Soldiers.
  • Anti-Villain: Even at his most villainous, Venom still has understandable motives, as well as possessing humanity and inner goodness within him.
  • 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.
  • Artificial Limbs: After losing his left arm in XOF's attack on Mother Base, he receives a prosthesis. At the beginning of the game, it's a very simple hook arm, but he later receives a more advanced myoelectric prosthesis that not only fully replaces the functionality of his lost arm, but can be outfitted with various gadgets from sonar to electricity dischargers and even a Rocket Punch.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Venom Snake regains his entire muscle mass in around 13 days, the length of time it takes to travel down the Suez Canal from Cyprus to Afghanistan. He was a skinny invalid who could barely walk upon escaping the hospital, and needed to be injected with digoxin just to be able to move. Even a protein heavy diet and extreme weight lifting will not accomplish such muscle gain that quickly. Hand-waved by the doctor saying they kept him in shape with massages and electro-stimulation treatments during his nine year coma.
  • Ascended Extra: He's basically whoever your favorite male MSF recruit was in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Well, in a sense. All the MSF soldiers since Peace Walker idolize Big Boss as their leader. Venom goes above and beyond and becomes Big Boss.
  • Audience Surrogate: In the surreal true ending, he is implied to be a representation of the player themselves, who in creating Big Boss's adventures has become as much Big Boss as the character himself.
  • Badass Normal: Even before becoming Big Boss's doppelgänger, Venom was considered the best soldier MSF had besides Big Boss himself. So much so that he was chosen to personally accompany Big Boss on his mission to rescue Paz and Chico, providing medical support. Yet even after undergoing plastic surgery and hypnotherapy to make him into Big Boss's body double (which included mentally programming in some of Big Boss's training and experience), he's just a regular soldier fighting enemies who have superhuman abilities, like Quiet and the Skulls. Not only that, but he can take on tank squads single handedly, and win. Taken several steps further with the fact that he can instead steal tanks and kidnap their potentially elite infantry support. And this doesn't even have to be considered an objective, let alone a side-op or part of a story mission. For Venom, it's Tuesday.
    • Perhaps best shown in a cutscene on Mother Base, when Quiet is trying to kill a guy who is unknowingly infected with the parasites; she is trying to silence him to save everyone else. She easily throws aside two men trying to stop her, and her Super Speed and Super Reflexes are well-established. But then Venom steps in and she lasts about four seconds.
  • Badasses Wear Bandanas: He can wear a bandanna on his head as an optional clothing.
  • Bag of Spilling: A rival military outfit, the XOF, takes out Mother Base and nearly all his allies. 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 with his two hands at first. Subverted, due to his not actually being Big Boss, but a body double.
  • Becoming the Mask: In the true ending, Naked Snake tells you that both you and he are Big Boss now, as you've both helped to create Big Boss's legend.
  • Big "NO!": Venom screams in anguish as the final hallucination of Paz draws to a close. In the cut episode, he also shouts to the sky when he mistakenly shoots Eli.
  • Book Ends: He ends The Phantom Pain remembering what really happened to him at the end of Ground Zeroes. Also, this ending comes after playing an alternate cut of the Prologue hospital mission.
  • Body Double: At the start of Phantom Pain, he's about to have plastic surgery to look like another random soldier whose appearance is for you to decide. It doesn't actually occur however. That's because in reality, that soldier used to be you, and you've already had plastic surgery to become Big Boss's double.
  • Body Horror: In addition to his missing left arm, he has a piece of shrapnel lodged in his forehead in the shape of a horn, said horn being embedded in his brain and being impossible to remove without risking a brain haemorrhage.
  • Brainwashing: Is subject to hypnotherapy to act like and believe he is Big Boss.
  • Byronic Hero: He becomes far more brooding after what happened to him in Ground Zeroes.
  • Canine Companion: Can adopt a wolf pup named DD/Diamond Dog to serve as a Buddy.
  • Canon Character All Along: Even after turning out to be a doppelgänger, the credits reveal him to be the Big Boss from the final battle in the original Metal Gear.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: After rescuing Miller, he openly admits to being a demon and states that Heaven's "not his kinda place."
  • Character Customization: You get to customize your online appearance at the start of Phantom Pain. This also becomes your appearance before becoming Big Boss's phantom. Completing the game unlocks this appearance for use in single player.
  • Chick Magnet: Quiet is in love with him as is every other woman at Mother Base, apparently. The given reason for this goes, "The Boss is... well, the Boss." In other words, when you wear the face of Big Boss, you become an instant ladies' man.
  • Cigar Chomper: He is a doppelgänger of Big Boss, so this is expected. Subverted most of the time, as he prefers an e-cigar filled with Wormwood, but during his birthday cutscene he is given a crate of real cigars which he happily smokes one.
  • Combat Medic: His role back in the MSF. While he is never shown in combat during Ground Zeroes, there is a good reason he was chosen to accompany Big Boss on the mission to rescue Paz and Chico. Even before becoming Big Boss's doppelgänger, he was considered the best soldier the MSF had to offer (outside of Big Boss himself), so he did not lack in the combat department.
  • Clone by Conversion: How he becomes "Venom Snake". After saving Big Boss by jumping between him and a bomb going off, the medic is given plastic surgery to look like Big Boss, and undergoes hyponotherapy to act like and even fully believe he is Big Boss (which initially works decently well given Venom's brain trying to heal itself, but was incomplete due to XOF attacking the hospital before the therapy course was completed). This essentially made him the "adopted" brother of Solid, Liquid, and Solidus.
  • Cloning Blues: Averted. His hyponotherapy is effective enough that, even after learning that he isn't the "real" Big Boss, he takes it in stride and prepares for the next mission.
  • Convenient Coma: Averted, as his coma was medically induced starting in 1975. He was frequently brought about to a semi-conscious state for hypnotherapy sessions, before being put under again. This was to make sure he did not wake up before the real Big Boss. His coma was ended in 1984, when XOF located him and Big Boss. This coma allowed for a Time Skip where the bad guys and his allies could build up their forces.
  • Covered with Scars: All the injuries he takes at the end of Ground Zeroes leaves him with tons of facial scars in Phantom Pain. Not only that, but his entire torso is covered in huge twisting scars and large patches of permanently discolored and burn-scarred skin. That said, it's done little to detract from his attractiveness.
  • Cruel Mercy:
    • At the end of the game, when they come across Skull Face crushed under a collapsed radio tower, begging for a quick death, Venom and Miller instead elect to use Skull Face's own Mare's Leg to blow most of his limbs off, leaving him to die slowly as revenge for his destruction of MSF nine years ago. Ultimately averted, as right after they do so, Huey kills the man himself.
    • After Huey is confirmed to have betrayed both MSF and the Diamond Dogs, Venom Snake lets him live despite literally everyone in Diamond Dogs cheering for his death. Instead, he has Huey exiled from Mother Base on a life raft too small to support his mechanical legs, stripped of his greatest treasure and exposed to the world as a fraud.
  • Deadpan Snarker: While nowhere near the extent of the real Big Boss, Venom does get some zingers in every once in a while. For example, there's his reaction to Miller deciding to give the Child Soldiers he rescued proper quarters and schooling to give them a better life rather than go with Venom's plan to recruit them into Diamond Dogs:
    Venom Snake: So what, we're running a daycare now?
  • Dented Iron: In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, he loses an arm and ends covered in burns, scars and embedded shrapnel.
  • The Determinator: He's not going to let anything get in the way of his revenge against XOF and Cipher.
  • Doomed by Canon: He's the Big Boss Solid Snake kills in the heart of Outer Heaven at the end of Metal Gear.
  • Doppelgänger Gets Same Sentiment: Played With: while at face value Ocelot and Zero exploits this for the benefit of Big Boss and the Outer Heaven/Zanzibar Land project (Ocelot even enforcing this on himself via hypnosis), the characters surrounding him take it all pretty different when the truth comes out. The personnel of Diamond Dogs, especially in the aftermath of "Shining Lights", sticks by him and proclaims they will stay under Venom's command to the end. In contrast, Quiet and Eli/Liquid Snake leave Diamond Dogs never even realizing the difference. The same is true of Huey, except he was kicked out. And then there's Kaz, who takes it very badly and vows undying hatred against the real Big Boss.
  • The Dragon: He's the most trusted subordinate of the original Big Boss, aka Ishmael, and eventually begins leading Outer Heaven when the other Big Boss is leading FOXHOUND back in the US.
  • The Dreaded: Nobody likes the thought of going up against Big Boss in battle. Eavesdropping on enemy conversations will reveal that they know they're going up against the best of the best, and it frightens them. Thanks to the game's dynamic difficulty, enemies gradually begin using more extreme tactics to kill him — including firing mortars on his position.
  • '80s Hair: Averted. After waking up from his coma in 1984, he starts tying his mullet up in a ponytail.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Thanks to progressive upgrades into his cybernetic arm, Venom eventually gains access to a small range of "powers" that no other Snake (before or after him) has ever displayed. This includes raining lightning storms down on his enemies, like Volgin used to. See Shock and Awe below.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being, and playing up his reputation as a ruthless mercenary commander, Venom has lines he will not cross. Noticeably, he finds Huey both disgusting and revolting, and when he discovers that he had been hired to assassinate Child Soldiers, he refuses to harm the children and takes them back to Mother Base after faking their deaths; of course, this part is undermined slightly by the fact that he spared them with the intent of recruiting them into Diamond Dogs himself.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Due to the hidden "Demon Points" counter, every immoral action Snake commits (killing animals or enemy soldiers, attacking your buddies, killing Diamond Dogs staff, developing nukes, etc.) will slowly cause this to happen to him. At 20,000 points, his shrapnel horn grows significantly to resemble an actual horn, and at 50,000 points, it grows even longer and Snake becomes permanently covered in blood, becoming a true "demon." Story-wise, there are also certain cut-scenes (both in-game and deleted footage) showing that Venom sees himself in the mirror specifically like this, usually in the aftermath of a major trauma or a morally-questionable decision he makes.
  • The Faceless: He was covered in bandages for 9 years so no one would be able to recognize him. His full face isn't shown at any point during his appearance in Ground Zeroes either, being at least partially obscured by either camera angles or bits of scenery at all times. On the photo where he poses alongside Big Boss and Miller, he wears a balaclava.
  • Fake Memories: Courtesy of the surgeons employed by Cipher, to ensure he would be the perfect Big Boss body double. Ocelot ensures they stick by utilizing info dumps regarding background information of the life of Big Boss to reinforce them.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: In The Phantom Pain, he wears a single glove over his right hand while leaving his left (prosthetic) hand bare.
  • A Father to His Men: Loves his Diamonds Dog soldiers dearly, and greatly mourns their deaths. The subtext here is piled up on considering in addition to Naked Snake/Big Boss's original proclamation of Outer Heaven in Peace Walker, Venom also comes from the position of being under the original Big Boss's command, and is therefore working towards living up and building on that legend as well.
  • Final Boss: The credits reveal that he was the Big Boss fought at the end of Metal Gear.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Invoked at the start of Phantom Pain, where you get to do Character Customization for apparent plastic surgery that never happens. He's also a literal stand-in for the player, similar to Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2. This is why the character's past before Ground Zeroes is never discussed, and why you're allowed to customize his former appearance and birthday.
  • Foreshadowing: To an honestly insane degree. The "twist" that you are just a doppelgänger of Big Boss is all but posted on the screen in big bold letters, almost even before the game was released.
    • Some people theorized that Venom was a body double before the game even came out because he uses electronic cigars, while Big Boss had previously told Huey that "the real thing's always better" in reference to e-cigars. Of course, he also said he'd be willing to try them if smoking became less socially acceptable.
    • An early hint to many players was that the medic in Ground Zeroes shares Big Boss's voice actor (though distorted to try and mask this, as well as getting between Big Boss and the explosion, specifically blocking the right side of his head from the shrapnel (where Venom Snake's "horn" is).
    • During the scene where Kaz and Big Boss are being treated after the chopper crash, Big Boss does not have a piece of shrapnel lodged in his head.
    • Another clue was that his face was heavily scarred, especially the chunk of shrapnel lodged in his head, while Big Boss's face in MGS4 was free of such scarring.
    • Venom Snake's eye is green, while Big Boss was known for his striking BLUE eye(s).
    • One of the game's most prominent songs "The Man Who Sold The World" is a song about meeting one's doppelgänger.
    • The player is asked to make a custom avatar to "hide" Venom's identity, yet he is always defaulted to look like Big Boss.
    • The codenames "Ahab" and "Ishmael" were glaring hints to each's identities for anyone familiar with the story of Moby Dick.
    • When Venom asks who Ishmael is, Ishmael responds with "You're talking to yourself.".
    • During the escape from the hospital, "Ahab" was oddly silent and following orders, while "Ishmael" was taking the lead, effectively taking down the XOF hit team, and making action hero one liners all the way.
    • Venom Snake is required to abduct/recruit a soldier who could translate Russian for him, while Big Boss was noted for his fluent and flawless grasp of the Russian language.
    • Unlike Big Boss, who was a trove of snappy one liners and quick wit, Venom is often oddly silent, apparently not knowing what to say. A big example is during the mission to deal with the parasite outbreak on Mother Base, Kaz makes a statement then goes silent, obviously expecting Venom to finish his sentence. Only to be met with silence, with Venom finally responding to it after Kaz had started and finished talking again.
    • Venom was shown to tilt his weapon so that he could use the sight with his good eye, while Big Boss fired apparently by muscle memory alone, the sights lining up with his eye patch.
    • Huey initially notices that "Snake" looks somehow different that he remembered, struggling to recognize him.
    • The restored Mammal Pod (an A.I. based off The Boss) did not recognize Venom Snake, despite previously being able to recognize Big Boss.
    • When the Man on Fire finally corners and pins Venom Snake, then Venom's face is briefly changed to the player's custom avatar, with the Man of Fire likewise turning into his own true identity as Volgin as he realizes that Venom Snake is not the man he had been hunting.
    • Meta Example for anyone who had played previous Metal Gear Solid games. Venom had his DNA compared to Eli (who would become Liquid Snake), and it turned up negative as a match. Eli was a clone of Big Boss, meaning there was no chance the test should have come up negative.
      • Similarly, the mere fact that he's called Venom Snake. Big Boss at this point had long since stopped using his Naked Snake codename and everyone in the game refers to Venom Snake as "Big Boss" or "Boss" anyway. However, "Venom Snake" does line up with the LET naming scheme of [X] Snake, hinting that Snake is another of Big Boss's copies though in a far less drastic way.
    • Observant players can see a Freeze-Frame Bonus while riding in the helicopter between missions. When the player can see Venom's reflection in the windshields, if they zoom in the image of the player's custom avatar is maybe shown in the reflection.
    • One of the hidden missions in Mother Base involve collecting images of the MSF, which cause Venom to hallucinate seeing Paz. This culminates with a hallucination of a version of the fateful night of XOF's attack, focusing on the medic successfully locating the second bomb, instead of focusing on Big Boss's actions during the event. After the hallucination ends and you get a hallucinatory cassette tape of Paz revealing the truth, she specifies that she "fought Snake", not "fought you."
    • If the player kills Diamond Dog troops near Ocelot, Ocelot will comment along the lines of "You're not the Big Boss we wanted after all.".
    • If you get close to Sahelanthropus and allow it to stomp on you, you'll be squashed flat with no prompt to bench press it. Big Boss was always known for his Charles Atlas Superpower (having superior soldier genes and all), being able to block a stomp from the likes of Peace Walker and throw it off balance.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The medic who saved Big Boss was an ordinary soldier (known as the single best soldier the MSF had besides Big Boss) before the fall of MSF. As Venom Snake, he essentially became Big Boss's spitting image, not just in appearances, but in combat capabilities: he would go on to destroy XOF, kill Skull Face, and found Outer Heaven.
  • Good Counterpart: Despite his rather horrifying appearance, there's a lot of in-game hints that Venom is the more benevolent side of the two Big Bosses, often showing mercy, honor, and compassion towards his foes, and being much more tempered, and level headed than say Kaz, or even the original Big Boss. Further reflected by Outer Heaven's morality, compared to Zanzibar Land. This is likely due to the remnants of his original personality. Being a medic, his primary duty in life was the preservation of life. Opposed to Snake whose primary purpose was to end the lives of MSF's enemies.
    • Eventually subverted by the end of the game. With the final scene of the game making several allusions to Venom Snake's role in Operation Intrude n313 and threatening nuclear war upon the world via Metal Gear (his reflection in the mirror showing him covered in blood, and his "horn" having grow to its largest possible size). Despite now knowing he isn't the "real" Big Boss, he fully accepts his role as Big Boss's doppelgänger and becomes his image in morality as well as looks.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has several thin scars on his face, in contrast to Skull Face, who is nothing but scar tissue.
    • In the end of MGSV, a reflection of himself in the mirror depicts his "horn" (the shrapnel logged in his head, which grows as he racks up negative karma) being its full size. Showing that his scars eventually fall well within the "evil" side of the trope.
  • Hallucinations: An early radio conversation with Ocelot reveals that Venom Snake's shrapnel wound is pressing on his optic nerve, which could cause him to see things that aren't there. These hallucinations include things like a giant whale on fire, and Paz having survived. You even hallucinate cassette tapes of her!
  • Handicapped Badass: In Metal Gear Solid V, he loses his left arm. Not that it hinders him at all...
  • Heroes Love Dogs: He can adopt a wolf pup named DD in MGSV.
  • Heroic Mime: Not literally mute, but he's way less talkative than the real Big Boss. Other than a few times in cutscenes and when interrogating enemies or giving orders to buddies, he's silent the entire game. He won't even talk in CODEC calls, his teammates giving him hints exclusively one-way instead.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Threw himself between Big Boss and the helicopter's door to shield him from the explosion of the bomb hidden in Paz. While he survived the explosion, helicopter crash, and gods knows how long stranded at sea, the brain damage he suffered mixed with 9 years of hyponotherapy essentially "killed" his original self/personality. Leaving only an "imperfect" duplicate of Big Boss.
  • 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.
  • I Have Many Names: In The Phantom Pain alone he's refered to as Venom Snake, Big Boss, Ahab, V, and the Phantom. Or alternatively Big Boss's phantom.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Mixed with My Greatest Failure and Survivor Guilt, the medic deeply regrets being unable to save Paz, his final patient. It goes so far that he starts hallucinating she survived.
  • I Owe You My Life: As thanks for saving his life, the real Big Boss made him the "second" Big Boss after he threw himself in front of the explosion to shield him when Mother Base was attacked.
  • I've Come Too Far: He's fully aware of how far he's fallen come the end of The Phantom Pain, but sees no reason to turn back from his current path.
    Venom Snake: I'm already a demon. Heaven's not my kind of place, anyway.
  • Irony: Out of all of Big Boss' soldiers, the one who ends up becoming a One-Man Army is a medic. A combat medic, but still.
  • Karmic Nod: "I'm already a demon."
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Due to the shrapnel "horn" in his head, he has some memory loss and has to be reminded of certain events, like his leadership of MSF and how Miller helped lead him, and can no longer speak Russian without an interpreter. With the reveal that Venom Snake is a Body Double of Big Boss, it's explained that the real reason for the "amnesia" is because Ocelot couldn't finish implanting him with Big Boss' memories, as XOF was set to attack the hospital Snake was stationed at sooner than expected.
  • The Last Dance: He knew he was going to die in Outer Heaven, either by the self-destruction sequence, or Solid Snake, but he threw himself in the final battle regardless.
    Venom Snake: ...Another mission, right Boss?
  • Legacy Character: Chronologically, he's the fifth Snakenote  and the third Bossnote  As far as the series release order goes he's the SIXTH man to hold the codename Snake.note 
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Regardless of how far he's fallen, he's still the lesser evil to Skull Face. And in many ways, the original Big Boss, who exploited his own loyal soldier to serve as a Body Double.
  • Lima Syndrome: His Love Interest, Quiet, becomes such for him after he defeats and captures her.
  • Loss of Identity: His original persona died in the helicopter crash in 1975, as the hypnotherapy he received to turn him into Big Boss's doppelgänger was through enough that he retained the "Big Boss" personality even after regaining some of his original memories and realizing he was a copy.
  • Made of Iron: He canonically survives a number of explosions and a vehicle crash in the hospital escape and it takes several rockets to put him down in Metal Gear. The medical upgrade allows him to take more punishment.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Thanks to Cipher's surgeons, he looks identical to the real Big Boss, albeit Covered with Scars.
  • Magnetic Hero: Word of God is that Snake is the only reason Miller and Ocelot work together at all, or any of the Mother Base staff for that matter; he outright states that Diamond Dogs would collapse without Snake around. In fact, a cassette tape reveals that Miller tried to recruit some MSF survivors to Diamond Dogs during the nine-year Time Skip, but they refused to come back simply because Snake wasn't there.
  • The Medic: He is the MSF medic that assists in extracting the bomb from Paz's stomach at the end of Ground Zeroes.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • He is referred to at a few points as V - as in the roman numeral five - since he's the fifth Snake after Naked, Solid, Liquid, and Solidus.
    • His alternative nickname "Punished Snake" held true: His home and family of MSF were destroyed, lost his right eye and left forearm, sustained many terrible scars on his face, and suffered through a nine year coma. The horn made of shrapnel served as a reminder of his punishment.
    • "Ahab" also qualifies, as he pursues revenge to a self-destructive degree. Being named by the original Big Boss/Ishmael hints that he was intended to do just that.
    • Considering that he's Big Boss' Body Double, "Venom Snake" could reference how there are venomous and mildly/nonvenomous snakes that evolved to have similar appearances. One may assume it's ironic that the duplicate is called "venom", but it's been theorized that the less dangerous snakes are the ones being copied.
  • Meaningful Rename:
    • After everything he goes through in the run up to The Phantom Pain, he dubs himself "Venom Snake."
    • Due to his exploits and successful masquerade, the real "Big Boss" dubs him worthy of the title "Big Boss" as well, a title he accepts.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: In Ground Zeroes, he conducts one on Paz to remove the bomb from her body. Given that they don't know when it'll go off, he's forced to do so without anesthetic. All the while, Paz is fully conscious and screaming in agony. All he could do was have Big Boss and Chico hold her down to minimize her struggling interrupting the removal. Too bad there was a second bomb though...
  • My Greatest Failure: Failing to find the second bomb, hidden in Paz's vagina. The hypnotherapy used to convert him into the mental clone of Big Boss was cut short due to XOF locating the hospital, thus remnants of his original personality and memories remained in his subconscious. This included the immense guilt of his failure causing the death of Paz and Chico, as well as the near death of Big Boss, Kaz, and himself. This guilt manifests as hallucinations of Paz having survived, and flashbacks to the night of XOF's attack on MSF, except a version of the event where he did find the second bomb...until reality finally sets in and the hallucination crumbles (well...explodes).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As revealed after bringing Code Talker back to Mother Base, Snake's destruction of Mfinda Oilfield to stop the water pollution allowed the vocal cord parasites to spread through the water and infect the villages downstream.
    • His bringing Huey onboard Mother Base, allowing Ocelot to freely torture him, and assigning (comparatively) lacking security to watch him, allowed Huey to sabotage Mother Base and start a severe parasite outbreak on the station.
    • His refusal to (really) harm Eli, despite the kid having genuinely attempted murder him on more than one occasion lead to Eli stealing Sahelanthropus, then later becoming Liquid Snake and causing the events of MGS1.
  • No Name Given: At the start of Phantom Pain, you're told your name is now "Ahab", and your past no longer matters. His true name is never given in Ground Zeroes, and you get to decide what it is right at the beginning of Phantom Pain.
  • Older Than They Look: Being that he was once Big Boss's subordinate, it's easy to assume he's much younger. In reality he's actually three years older than the real Big Boss.
  • Old Soldier: Having been born in 1932, he is 52 when the player is placed in his shoes for V's main story, and he is 63 when he takes on Solid Snake in Metal Gear 1, and yet the battle is canonically regarded as among the most brutal and difficult fights Solid Snake ever endured in his career note . All this is because of his years of combat experience, on top of having already been MSF's top operative (besides Big Boss himself), then brainwashed to become Big Boss's doppelgänger.
  • One-Man Army: He single-handedly takes out multiple squads of Russian soldiers, African mercenaries, and XOF killers in Phantom Pain. He may not be the "real" Big Boss, but he has well deserved the right to the title alongside the real deal.
  • Player Character: He serves as the player character of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
  • Papa Wolf: In the cut "Mission 51", he shoots down three XOF soldiers trying to kill Eli, but shoots him on accident due to head injury that temporarily made him color-blind.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Despite once working with the relatively heroic MSF unit, by The Phantom Pain he's a revenge-driven, self-confessed "demon."
    • Subverted, his actions during the bulk of MGSV actually paint him as less malevolent than the real Big Boss. Its not until he rediscovers his true identity and accepts his role as Big Boss's copy that he becomes just as heinous as the man himself.
  • Psychotic Smirk: In The Stinger, he gives a small one after regaining his memories and being deemed worthy of the title of Big Boss by the real deal, showing he's embraced his role as the former's doppelgänger.
  • The Quiet One: Is this in Metal Gear Solid V. Kojima has stated that he wanted Venom Snake to be more akin to a silent protagonist with other characters leading the plot. This is likely to invoke the Heroic Mime trope, as Venom Snake is a stand-in for the player. It also serves to contrast him with "Ishmael"/the real Big Boss, who is shown to still be fond of spouting his quips and Bond One Liners as Venom escapes alongside him in the prologue. The few quips of his own that he tries, tend to come out pretty awkwardly...
  • Racial Transformation: His former ethnicity as the Medic is determined by the player at the start of the game, so this comes into play if he was given a non-white appearance.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: At one point, he smashes a mirror with his prosthetic hand. It happens at the very tail-end of the final cutscene, when Venom (seeing himself in full "Demon Snake" mode) is seemingly about to go out and face Solid Snake himself at the tail-end of Metal Gear. note 
  • Remember the New Guy?: He's supposed to be Big Boss' best soldier back in MSF, but the existence of such character is never acknowledged in Peace Walker. The player has to go out of their way to find a medic with very high combat stat to match Venom's description, and even then the game won't treat him any differently than any other soldier.
  • Revenge Before Reason: He doesn't care who he has to kill or torture to get revenge on Skull Face.
  • Red Right Hand: After being consumed by his desire for revenge at the end of Ground Zeroes, he ends up with a literal red hand, albeit his left as opposed to his right. The horn-like protrusion from his forehead fits this description perhaps even better.
  • Retcon: The reveal of his nature rewrites certain plot points in the original MSX games:
    • In Metal Gear 2, a character off-handedly mentions a rumor that Big Boss was some kind of Cyborg. Phantom Pain reveals that this particular "phantom" Big Boss did indeed lose his left arm and had it replaced with a cybernetic one. The real Big Boss, of course, still has his arm.
    • His whole existence does this, as it not only provides a different reasoning on how Big Boss survived the events of Outer Heaven, but also sheds new light on the conflict between Big Boss and Zero. Namely, that Zero had actually become The Atoner and helped Big Boss and Venom survive, Big Boss was never really fighting Zero; he was fighting Zero's creation, which had morphed into a beast of its own long before we were led to believe it had.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: His attitude in The Phantom Pain. He's hell-bent on getting revenge on Skull Face and XOF for taking MSF and 9 years of his life from him, and is perfectly willing and able to do anything to do so, even after he admits that he's crossed the point of no return.
  • Shock and Awe: His Stun Arm, which begins as little more than a gimmickry taser, but once fully upgraded, transforms into "the Wrath of Zeus". Behold.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: There are several heavy implications that he reciprocates Quiet's love, but she (likely) dies before the two can truly go anywhere.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: In Phantom Pain, he wears an MSF patch along with his Diamond Dogs one by default.
  • Super Speed: The mobility upgrade available at Mother Base increases his sprinting speed. Upgrading it enough makes him sprint to nearly the same level as Raiden in the "Jamais Vu" mission in Ground Zeroes.
  • Supporting Protagonist: The real Big Boss is actually Ishmael; this man is a decoy.
  • Surgical Impersonation: Is the target of an involuntary one in order to turn him into a body double for Big Boss.
  • Taking the Bullet: When the second bomb inside Paz explodes almost immediately after she jumps out of Big Boss's chopper, he throws himself in front of Snake and takes the full brunt of the explosion. Later, this is what ultimately convinces Big Boss to go through with the Phantom plan. The medic had already ready proven to him that he was perfectly willing to sacrifice his life to save his without any hesistation; as such, he believed that he wouldn't mind doing it again in a more "figurative" sense.
  • That Man Is Dead: While not directly spoken by him, Ocelot states that "the medic", aka who Venom used to be, died in the helicopter crash in 1975, leaving only the Venom Snake persona. Venom himself follows this in his actions. Fully accepting the name and identity of "Big Boss", even after learning he is a doppelgänger.
  • Together in Death: According to a brief bit of developer commentary, Venom Snake and Quiet are reunited in death after Solid Snake kills him in Outer Heaven.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Almost literally, as the final reveal that he's a body double of Big Boss occurs while he's staring at himself in a mirror.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While already a badass in his own right as The Medic, Snake becomes even more of one over the course of the story. Further adding to Big Boss' legend.
  • Trauma Conga Line: In MGSV alone, he fails to find the second bomb sewn into Paz, gets the brunt of the explosion that lodges shrapnel all over his body and blows off his arm, most of his allies get killed, the military organization he dedicated himself to is all but completely wiped out, his CO Kaz ends up losing An Arm and a Leg, he falls into a 9 year coma, his personality is steadily erased to make him into Big Boss's body double, he finds out Huey betrayed MSF, and so on. Skipping to the end, nothing goes well for this guy, up to and including getting shot with an RPG by Solid Snake while the organization he built up for years literally explodes around him.
  • Undying Loyalty: Was Big Boss's most loyal, and trusted soldier. He even throws himself in front of a fiery explosion to shield the legendary soldier. Even after he regains his memories and knows full well what Big Boss condoned to be done to him, he doesn't even hesitate to head out on another mission given to him by Big Boss.
  • Unreliable Narrator: As noted above, Venom Snake sometimes sees things that aren't there. The biggest example is the Paz side-quest. Also includes Unreliable Expositors too, as Snake hallucinates Ocelot and Miller explaining how Paz lived.
  • Walking Spoiler: Discussing his backstory or who he really was in Ground Zeroes spoils the Twist Ending of Phantom Pain. The fact that, on This Very Wiki, Venom Snake has his own section shows that he isn't the real Big Boss, since each Character Page only deals with characters that debuted in each game.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Gets a cybernetic arm with multiple abilities after losing his real one at the end of Ground Zeroes. For added points, the arm sometimes play The Six Million Dollar Man sound effect when you use it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Played with. While he can tranquilize or otherwise knock out any Child Soldiers he encounters, Miller explicitly forbids him from using lethal force; killing even one kid is an automatic mission failure. He also has no problems physically fighting Eli, and even breaks his arm in retaliation for Eli's attempt to stab him in the back.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In one of the post-game missions several Mother Base staff members and soldiers are infected with a fatal and contagious parasite. This leads to one of the most brutal sequences of the game where Snake is forced to kill all the infected people. There's even a Hope Spot where one soldier seems uninfected...but just as Snake is about to leave with the soldier, it's revealed he's infected too. Snake Mercy Kills the soldiers and suffers a Heroic BSoD afterwards.

Alternative Title(s): Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes, Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain