Put simply, Simo Häyhä (7 December 1905 – 1 April 2002) was the deadliest individual rifleman in military history.
He was born in 1905, and prior to the Winter War of Finland, was an ordinary farmer who had served one compulsory year in the Finnish army. When the war began in 1939, he was called to action, and, taking his trusty Mosin-Nagant rifle, became to many an almost legendary figure over the next 105 days.
Using his extensive knowledge of the surrounding forest as well as a knack for camouflage (he dressed in all white and even kept snow in his mouth so as to mask his breathing and avoid giving away his position), he racked up at least 500 kills-estimate (259 by rifle, and an equal number by submachine gun). While his Soviet counterparts would spend a few days at a time in the field, he just stayed out there, taking food, ammo, and whatever else he needed from the bodies of Soviets he killed. All the more impressive was that he did all of this without a scope or a spotter. He instead used the trusty iron-sights on the rifle, as he noticed that using a scope presented a target due to the glint off the lens; when asked later in life how he had become such an incredible shot, Simo answered simply: "Practice. And clear days."note
The Soviet forces were absolutely terrified of Häyhä, nicknaming him The White Death. They attempted numerous times to kill him, from sending teams of countersnipers after him (none came back alive) to artillery bombing any place they thought he was hiding. Each of these attempts was met with failure, and Simo continued to stomp any enemy who came within his sights. Eventually, the Soviets had a stroke of luck when one sniper managed to shoot him through the jaw with an explosive round, blowing half of his cheek away. Incredibly, Simo survived, killed the man that shot him, then slipped into a coma. A ceasefire was ordered, and eleven days later, on the day Simo awoke, the Soviet army withdrew. While almost certainly a coincidence, it was nonetheless an incredible one. With the Winter War over, Simo returned to farming. During the Continuation War (1941 - 1944), he asked to serve again, but was excused by authorities due to his still-recovering facial injuries (moreover, should he perish in battle, it would be a major blow to Finnish morale and a propaganda victory for the Soviets). Simo would spend the majority of his life breeding dogs and hunting moose, sometimes being the hunting guide of the President of Finland. When asked if he regretted killing so many people, all Simo had to say was: "I did what I was told to as well as I could". He passed away in 2002, aged 96.
Many people consider him to be one of the ultimate examples of a badass in real life, having racked up more confirmed kills than any other sniper in history. Despite this, he remained a very humble man who only considered his actions to have been doing duty by his country.
Works featuring or referencing Simo Häyhä:
- In Reincarnation No Kaben, a female reincarnation of Simo is part of the Forest of the Greats.
- Record of Ragnarok has Simo listed as one of humanity's representatives to fight against the gods.
- A manga called Shiroi Majo was released in 2014 which features Simo Häyhä in the middle of the Winter War in 1939. Just one slight difference from reality: "Simo Häyhä" is a teenage girl who looks outrageously similar to Sinon.
- Girls und Panzer das Finale: Youko "The White Witch" of Jatkosota High School - the Finnish-themed school - who wins multiple battles with long range sniper shots and wears all white is a clear homage. First seen in part 3.
- He is one of the main characters in A Song of Ice and Fire fanfiction Three Badasses in Westeros, portrayed as a humble man who, nonetheless, is incredibly deadly by Westeros standards. Among his exploits, killing the Mountain and his men while singing the Finnish national anthem, shoot three copper coins cleanly by the center like it was nothing and tricking Littlefinger into believing he would fall for his bribery (while also taking advantage of the fact that Finnish is completely unknown to constantly insult him).
- Nerve Damage: In this Holy Grail War, Masters can summon multiple Servants. Rin Tohsaka ends up summoning Simo as an Assassin.
- As of March 2015, a movie is in pre-production about his feat, appropriately titled "White Death"
- Boom Beach has a Prototype defence called the S.I.M.O., a more damaging Sniper Tower that targets enemies with the lowest amount of HP and can see through smokescreens.
- In Borderlands 2, one legendary sniper rifle was called the "White Death" (ironically manufactured by the Russian-styled Vladof Corporation). It was later renamed to "Lyuda" after Lyudmila Pavlichenko, but Xbox 360 versions of the game retain the White Death name.
- In FTL: Faster Than Light, the default name of Stealth Cruiser Type C is "Simo-H".
- Mass Effect: Andromeda has a Shout-Out to Häyhä in a minor sidequest titled "The White Death", featuring an Angaran sniper on the Ice Age planet Voeld who contacts Ryder by radio to have him/her flush out a Kett Wraith he's hunting.
- Mosin-Nagant's exclusive equipment in Girls' Frontline is the Hayha Memory Chip, which grants her significant damage boost and a slight increase in evasion.
- One of the Snipers in Girls' Frontline: Neural Cloud is named Simo. Part of a model line specially built for stealth and long-range combat, Simo is dressed in white and blue (much like the Finnish flag) and owns a ferret named Sako, after the Finnish arms manufacturer which produced licensed copies of Mosin-Nagant.
- One of the playable characters in Sanctum 2 is a white-bodied robotic sniper called SiMo.
- One achievement in Sniper Elite V2 ("World Record") is achieved by getting 506 total sniper rifle kills, beating Häyhä's (believed to have been accurate at the time) kill count by one.
- He has been featured on both Badass of the Week and Cracked's "5 Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like A Pussy".
- Count Dankula features him as an Absolute Mad Lad.