Big Boss (Metal Gear)

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Big Boss
Metal Gear character
Big Boss (Metal Gear).png
Promotional illustration of Big Boss for Metal Gear Solid
First game Metal Gear (1987)
Created by Hideo Kojima
Designed by Yoji Shinkawa
Voiced by (English) David Hayter (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker)
Richard Doyle (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
Kiefer Sutherland (Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
Voiced by (Japanese) Akio Ōtsuka (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
Chikao Ōtsuka (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
Motion capture Mizuho Yoshida (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Akio Ōtsuka (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
Mio Tanaka (Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker)
Erik Brown (Metal Gear Solid V)
Kiefer Sutherland (Metal Gear Solid V, facial only)
Fictional profile
Real name John
Aliases Jack
Naked Snake
Big Boss
Venom Snake
Nationality American
Affiliations Outer Heaven (Metal Gear)
Zanzibar Land (Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake)
Green Berets (pre-Metal Gear Solid 3)
FOX and CIA (Metal Gear Solid 3)
FOXHOUND (Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops)
The Patriots (post-Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops / pre-Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker)
Militaires Sans Frontières (Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes)
Diamond Dogs (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)

Big Boss (ビッグ・ボス Biggu Bosu?), born John and also known as Jack, Naked Snake, Venom Snake and Snake, is one of the central characters of Konami's Metal Gear series of video games. He was introduced in the first game in the original Metal Gear series as the commanding officer and then nemesis of the player character, Solid Snake. He later becomes the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid prequels where he is depicted as an American covert operative, decorated war hero and later as the leader of a rogue band of mercenaries, leading into the events of Metal Gear.

Big Boss's character has been praised by video game publications for his role as a villain as well for his relationship with Solid Snake. As the series' chronology progressed, his exact allegiance and motivations became increasingly complex; in his first appearances, he is depicted as a traitor dreaming of a world of perpetual war, but subsequent appearances have revealed him to be a key figure in an ideological dispute that shaped the latter half of the twentieth century, and a man whose conscience was disturbed by the attitude of leaders towards soldiers, prompting his decision to become a soldier of fortune.


Metal Gear series
fictional chronology

As an antagonist[edit]

Big Boss is introduced in the original Metal Gear game as the Special Forces Unit FOXHOUND's leader and Solid Snake's commanding officer. He initially acts as a radio contact who provides Snake with information about mission objectives, as well as weapons and equipment.[1][2] However, near the game's conclusion, after Snake destroys the titular Metal Gear weapon, Big Boss exposes himself as the Outer Heaven militia leader near the base's escape route and confronts Snake in a final battle, but is defeated.[3] Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake reveals that Big Boss had survived, and has since taken control of a fortified nation in Central Asia known as Zanzibar Land and commissions the development of the new model Metal Gear D.[4] Solid Snake confronts Big Boss once again while escaping from the Zanzibar Land detention camp, with the former incinerating the latter.[5]

"Posthumous" appearances[edit]

Despite his apparent death in the end of Metal Gear 2, Big Boss's presence figures prominently in the original Metal Gear Solid, where Solid Snake is revealed to be Big Boss's genetically-altered clone created from the secret government project, "Les Enfants Terribles" (French for "The Terrible Children") that also created Liquid Snake, the primary antagonist of the game,[6] and a mentioned third brother named Solidus Snake, who later makes his debut as the main antagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it is revealed that Big Boss survived his previous defeat, but was placed in an artificially induced cryogenic coma, with his genetic code used for the SOP ID recognition system, the use of which allows access to the AIs that make up the Patriots. His body is recovered by EVA and reconstructed using parts from the bodies of both Liquid and Solidus and he awakens from his coma after the fall of the Patriots' AIs. Big Boss is also revealed to be one of the founding members of the Patriots, an organization dedicated to realising The Boss's dream, but which spiralled into a conspiracy to impose order and control over the world after Big Boss and Zero disagreed over the nature of that dream. Big Boss's defection from the Patriots and his plotting a coup d'état against Zero caused the events of Outer Heaven (Metal Gear) and Zanzibar Land (Metal Gear 2).[7] Following the voice casting credits, Big Boss appears before a now prematurely aged Solid Snake. After revealing to Solid Snake the truth about Zero and the Patriots, Big Boss shuts down his catatonic nemesis's life support system. He manages to come to terms with his feelings regarding The Boss,[8] and then reconciles with Solid Snake, whom he acknowledges as a son, before dying from unintended exposure to Snake's FOXDIE virus.

As a protagonist[edit]

The prequel Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater depicts a young incarnation of the character, under the codename Naked Snake (ネイキッド・スネーク Neikiddo Sunēku?),[9] as a member of the special forces unit FOX in 1964 that was founded by the CIA and Zero.[10] He is sent on an assignment in the Soviet Union to thwart an uprising led by the sadistic Colonel Volgin; rescue Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov, a key weapons researcher; and destroy Sokolov's creation, the Shagohod, to avert a nuclear war. Over the course of his assignment, he is forced to kill his mentor, The Boss, who staged her defection to the Soviet Union to infiltrate Volgin's inner circle, but was forced to commit to the ruse when Volgin detonated an American warhead on Soviet soil.[11][12] The understanding that he was forced to kill The Boss for political purposes does not sit well with Snake, who is awarded the title of Big Boss for his actions;[13] a title he initially rejects, prompting him to retire from active service.

Still insisting on being referred to as "Snake", Big Boss spends the next six years wandering the globe before he is captured and detained at a defunct missile base on the fictional San Hieronymo peninsula in Colombia, and at the centre of an armed uprising led by members of the FOX unit during the events of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. He recruits defecting enemy soldiers to his cause, ending the threat and establishing Militaires Sans Frontières (commonly abbreviated as MSF), or "Soldiers Without Borders", a mercenary force made up of expatriate soldiers. He intends to use MSF to live out The Boss' final will, a world where soldiers are free to choose their own fights on their own terms, and not at the whim of a government. This is tested four years later during the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, when MSF is approached by Paz Ortega Andrade and Ramon Gálvez Mena to investigate the appearance of an army in Costa Rica. Given the politically-sensitive nature of the assignment, he and his business partner Kazuhira "Kaz" Miller refuse, but he is swayed when he heard a recording of The Boss's voice. Following Kaz's advice, MSF takes over an offshore research platform in the Caribbean as their base of operations in a bid to expand the group's capabilities. Over the course of the campaign, Snake is forced to confront his guilt over killing The Boss when it is revealed that the recording is of an artificial intelligence modelled on her thought patterns at the centre of "Project Peace Walker", an automated fail-deadly nuclear launch platform masterminded by a disgraced CIA operative intent on launching a nuclear device to prove that the theory of nuclear deterrence is flawed. Snake finally addresses his guilt and accepts the title of "Big Boss"; however, Paz reveals herself as an agent of an entity calling itself "Cipher",[N 1] and the two are forced into confrontation, with Snake prevailing.

In the aftermath of the Peace Walker incident, Snake is on a mission to rescue Chico, a child soldier involved in the events of Peace Walker, and Paz from an American black site on Cuban soil. He disagrees with Kaz Miller over locating Paz, believing that she can be converted to MSF's cause. Diary entries left by Paz in Peace Walker and available in Ground Zeroes imply this to be true, while a post-credits scene in Ground Zeroes has her reveal that, at the very least, she wants Big Boss to survive. The rescue is successful, but Paz reveals that she has a bomb implanted in her body. She sacrifices herself to save Big Boss and the occupants of the helicopter they are riding in at the time, but the concussion wave released by the explosion causes the helicopter to crash into the Caribbean Sea while MSF is destroyed by an invading paramilitary force. These events set up the release of the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, where he will assume the new codename Venom Snake as he ventures into Soviet-controlled Afghanistan to seek revenge for the destruction of MSF.[14]

In Snake's Revenge[edit]

In Snake's Revenge, a non-canonical sequel to the original Metal Gear for the NES released during the same year as Metal Gear 2, Big Boss returns as the leader of the enemy organization, having survived the injuries he sustained in the original game by becoming a cyborg. He fights Snake as a boss prior to reaching the new Metal Gear prototype and has two forms: his human form and a fire-breathing cyborg form.

Creation and design[edit]

In his initial appearances, Big Boss's visual appearance was inspired by actor Sean Connery. However, for the ports of the game released as part of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, the original design was replaced by Yoji Shinkawa's design.[15] During the making of Metal Gear Solid 3, Hideo Kojima asked Shinkawa to make Naked Snake (Big Boss's younger self) similar to Solid Snake but with the differences that unlike Solid Snake, Naked Snake was a rookie and thus acted more naive. Shinkawa stated he had no difficulties in designing Naked Snake as it was basically a revised version of Solid Snake. As a result, Naked Snake is virtually identical to Solid Snake from the previous Metal Gear Solid games in terms of appearance.[16] Since the game's trailers did not state that Naked Snake was Big Boss, Kojima often gave vague answers to the character's true identity.[17] Although the ending of Metal Gear Solid 3 reveals Naked Snake was given the Big Boss title, Kojima stated "he's not really the Big Boss yet." With Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, he wanted to explain how Naked Snake became the Big Boss who appeared in the first Metal Gear game as Solid Snake's enemy.[18]

The events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes resulted in Big Boss's character undergoing a major change and lead into its companion game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.[19] Kojima wants the player to connect with the character for Phantom Pain comparing their losses. For this, the loss of Mother Base which the player developed across the Peace Walker would motivate him to wish revenge alongside him. He also tried making Snake relatable to the newcomers to the series by making him being in the blank in regards to what happened in the last nine years.[20]

As Naked Snake, the character shares Solid Snake's voice actors (Akio Ōtsuka in Japanese and David Hayter in English). In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Big Boss is voiced by Chikao Ōtsuka (Akio Ōtsuka's real-life father) in the Japanese version and Richard Doyle in the English version. On June 6, 2013, during the third annual Konami Pre-E3 show, Konami officially confirmed that actor Kiefer Sutherland (Big Boss's voice actor) would also be doing motion capture work for Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain.[21][22][23] Sutherland was assigned the role after a suggestion to Kojima from Hollywood producer and director Avi Arad; Kojima's reason for replacing Hayter was to "have a more subdued performance expressed through subtle facial movements and tone of voice rather than words," and that he "needed someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late 40s."[24]


When Big Boss is introduced within the series' chronology, he is presented as a committed soldier, who despite his expertise in combat, is still naive in his own way; during the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, he either ignores or is unaware of EVA's attempts at seducing him, and is oblivious as to the power of his own words to persuade and motivate her. By the end of the story, he undergoes radical changes, forced to confront the idea that he is working on behalf of whichever government is in charge at the time, and that his allegiances may change from day to day because the government wills it. This manifests itself as a deep distrust of governments, and cynicism directed at intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, he is able to put these feelings aside if he feels that a situation demands it, as evidence in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, when he knows that any action in Costa Rica will provoke the American government to respond. During the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, he willingly addresses the consequences of those actions. Despite his cynicism, he displays a trust in people to follow their consciences; he risks infiltrating Camp Omega to rescue Paz Ortega Andrade—even though Paz betrayed him in Peace Walker—because he believes she can redeem herself, though he is also equally willing to kill her if he cannot free her, knowing that she will likely be tortured within the camp.

A running gag in Peace Walker has Big Boss trying to maintain his cover identity by introducing himself to characters as an enthusiast in a particular field—such as ornithology—only for those characters to be experts in those fields and immediately point out his lack of knowledge. A second running joke has him extract them from enemy territory using the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system without telling them what he is doing, much to their surprise.


Big Boss's character has been well-received with IGN having ranked him number 32 on their 2010 list of top video game villains,[25] and as the fourth top Metal Gear villains.[26] In 2010, IGN's Jesse Schedeen found him one of the most important characters from the franchise to the point his "influence is felt in every Metal Gear game, even if he isn't always present in the flesh."[27] Computerworld named Big Boss as one of the most creative "badass villains" in video games, citing the complexity of his betrayal of Solid Snake, fueled by Snake being his genetic heir.[28] Additionally, GameSpot listed him as one of the 20 best Metal Gear bosses with focus on his importance within the series' plot.[29] He was ranked as the 28th "coolest" video game villain by Complex in 2012.[30]

The inclusion of Naked Snake's role in Metal Gear Solid 3 has also received praise from critics.[31] Prior to the game's release, Naked Snake was often called 'Solid Snake' or simply Snake by critics due to his resemblance with Solid Snake, although some still were not sure about his true identity.[32][33] Additionally, early speculation of Big Boss being the playable character from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was listed by IGN as one top ten rumors on the PlayStation 2.[34] GameSpy further noted that various fans started making theories about Naked Snake's identity before the game's release as while they thought it was Solid Snake, the setting from the game made it impossible for Solid Snake to be the game's main protagonist due to their difference of years.[35] Finding the revelation of Naked Snake's identity was considered by GameSpy as "the single coolest thing Kojima could have done in MGS3" because of [Naked Snake's] differences from [Solid Snake] in regards to their personality as well as because it made fans wonder how Naked Snake would become the series antagonist Big Boss.[36] Another comparison between Big Boss' and Solid Snake's character was made by IGN's Phil Pirrello in article titled "Stars Thunderdome: Snake vs. Big Boss."[37] GamesRadar placed his relationship with Eva in their top list of disastrous game romances due to how it was ruined by the two's different roles in the story.[38] Play editor Nick Jones listed Naked Snake's final fight against The Boss in such game as the second best moment from the franchise, citing the emotional focus from their characters.[39] Various gaming sites such as, Game Informer and Kotaku placed him as one of the worst fathers in video games due to his poor relationship with Solid Snake and his attempts to murder him.[40][41][42] David Hayter's performance as Naked Snake's English voice actor in Metal Gear Solid 3 has been criticized by Edge while discussing the dialogues from the game.[43]


  1. ^ "Metal Gear MSX2 version, instruction manual" (in Japanese). Konami. 1987. 
  2. ^ "Metal Gear 2 MSX2 version, instruction manual" (in Japanese). Konami. 1990. 
  3. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, Metal Gear". Konami. Big Boss: Solid Snake! You've finally come here. Yeah, I'm Big Boss General Commandant of Foxhound. And in charge of this fortress, Outer Heaven. 
  4. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake". Konami. Solid Snake: Big... Boss?! / Dr. Madnar: The very same! With Metal Gear and OILEX, he plots to rule the world. We cannot let the secret of OILEX fall into his hands! 
  5. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake". Konami. Big Boss: Even I make mistakes from time to time. Snake! This will be our final battle... Let's end this once and for all! 
  6. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid". Konami. Liquid Snake: There's a killer inside you... You don't have to deny it. We were created to be that way. / Solid Snake: Created? / Liquid Snake: Les enfants terribles... the terrible children. That's what the project was called. It started in the 1970s. Their plan was to artificially create the most powerful soldier possible. The person that they chose as the model was the man known then as the greatest living soldier in the world... 
  7. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots". Konami. Big Mama: "Give birth to Big Boss." To realize this, I asked to serve as the surrogate mother... And was more than happy to carry you in my womb. I loved him. Nine months later, I gave birth to two Big Bosses... You, and [Liquid Snake]. [...] Determined to oppose Zero and his plans, Big Boss broke away from the Patriots. 
  8. ^ Kojima Productions (2008). "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots". PlayStation 3. Konami. Big Boss: Ever since the day I killed The Boss... with my own two hands... I... was already dead. 
  9. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker". Konami. Miller: Naked... That's exactly what you are with this uniform. The pants are the same as the jungle fatigues. Obviously, since you're exposing your bare skin, your defense and camo index are going to be low. On the plus side, it's so light you can move around quicker. / Snake: Good for showing off muscles, too. / Miller: Hey, Snake. I heard they gave you your old code name because you used to run around with your shirt off. Is that true? / Snake: Don't believe everything you hear. They called me "Naked" because I went in without gear or food. I had to procure everything on site. 
  10. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater". Konami. Zero: Do you copy? You're already in enemy territory, and somebody might be listening in. From here on out, we'll be using codenames to refer to each other. Your codename for this mission will be Naked Snake. I'll be referring to you as Snake from now on. You are not to mention your real name. 
  11. ^ EVA: The Boss's defection was a ruse set up by the U.S. government. It was all a big drama staged by Washington so they could get their hands on the Philosopher's Legacy. And The Boss was the star of the show. They planned it so that they could get the Legacy that Colonel Volgin inherited...and destroy the Shagohod at the same time. (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) Konami Computer Entertainment Japan, 2005
  12. ^ EVA: (...) Everything was going according to plan, but then something happened that no one could have predicted. Colonel Volgin fired an American-made nuclear warhead at Sokolov's research facility. Khrushchev demanded that the U.S. government provide proof that it wasn't involved. (...) The authorities in Washington knew that in order to prove its innocence they'd have to get rid of The Boss...and that one of their own would have to do the job. (...) That was the mission she was given. (...) She sacrificed her life and her honor for her native land. (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) Konami Computer Entertainment Japan, 2005
  13. ^ Kojima Productions. "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater". Konami. Mr. President: You are above even The Boss. I hereby award you the title of Big Boss. 
  14. ^ "E3 2013: Metal Gear Solid V Coming To Xbox One - IGN". Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  15. ^ Parish, Jeremy. "Gear Up! A Metal Gear Retrospective". Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  16. ^ Payton, Ryan. "The KP Report Session 027". Kojima Productions Report. mp.i.revo. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  17. ^ C. Perry, Douglass (May 15, 2003). "E3 2003: Hideo Kojima Interview". IGN. Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  18. ^ Totilo, Stephen (September 25, 2009). "Hideo Kojima Talks Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker And How You Can Help Him". Kotaku. Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Kojima on Ground Zeroes". Giant Bomb. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Interview: Hideo Kojima on darker themes and phantom cigars". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  21. ^ Romano, Sal. "Metal Gear Solid V clip teases Snake’s new voice actor". Gematsu. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Snake’s voice actor in Metal Gear Solid V to be revealed during Konami’s pre-E3 show". GamingEverything. Retrieved June 3, 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  23. ^ Staff. "Konami’s pre-E3 stream: Kiefer Sutherland Playing Snake in Metal Gear Solid 5". VG24/7. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  24. ^ Goldfarb, Andrew. "Kiefer Sutherland Playing Snake in Metal Gear Solid V". IGN. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  25. ^ IGN editors (2010-07-04). "Top 100 Videogame Villains". Retrieved October 20, 2006. 
  26. ^ Scheeden, Jeese. "Top 10 Metal Gear Villains". IGN. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  27. ^ Scheeden, Jeese (2010-01-11). "Boss of the Day: Metal Gear's Big Boss". IGN. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  28. ^ Gagne, Ken. You can run, but you'll only die tired: Gaming's 'baddest' villains. Computerworld. Retrieved on 2008-09-16
  29. ^ Dodson, Joe (July 28, 2007). "Metal Gear 20 Years of Boss Battles". GameSpot. Retrieved July 5, 2007. 
  30. ^ "28. Big Boss — The 50 Coolest Video Game Villains of All Time". Complex. 2012-11-01. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  31. ^ Ramsay, Randolph (2005). "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Review". C NET Australia. Archived from the original on 29 August 2006. Retrieved August 22, 2006. 
  32. ^ "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Preview". PALGN. 2004-02-29. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  33. ^ Torres, Ricardo (March 16, 2004). "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Updated Impressions". GameSpot. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Fact or Fiction? The Ten Biggest Rumors on the PlayStation 2". IGN. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  35. ^ "Metal Gear Solid 3 -- Everything We Know". GameSpy. p. 3. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Metal Gear Solid 3 -- Everything We Know". GameSpy. p. 4. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  37. ^ Pirrello, Phil (2010-01-11). "Stars Thunderdome: Snake vs. Big Boss". IGN. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  38. ^ Meikleham, Dave. "The Top 7… disastrous game romances". GamesRadar. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  39. ^ Jones, Nick. "Metal Gear Solid – My Top Five Moments". Play. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  40. ^ Glasser, AJ (June 21, 2009). "Father Knows Best: The Best and Worst Fathers in Video Games". Kotaku. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  41. ^ Sharkey, Scott (September 9, 2010). "Gaming's Crappiest Fathers". Game Informer. Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  42. ^ Ryckert, Dan (September 9, 2010). "Top 5 Crappiest Videogame Dads". Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  43. ^ Edge, January 2005; issue 145. Future Publishing. 2005. pp. 80–81. 
  1. ^ Cipher is revealed to the player to be an alias of Major Zero, though as of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Snake is unaware that Cipher and Zero are the same person.

See also[edit]