Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell)

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Sam Fisher
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell character
Sam Fisher SBL.png
Sam Fisher, as he appeared in Splinter Cell: Blacklist
First game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Created by JT Petty
Designed by Martin Caya
Voiced by
Portrayed by Tom Hardy

Samuel "Sam" Fisher is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series of video games developed by Ubisoft as well as a series of tie-in novels endorsed by Tom Clancy. His full name is first seen in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, the first game of the series, when he was using the computer in the V-22 Osprey to encrypt his home call. Fisher was voiced by veteran actor Michael Ironside in the first five installments of the series. Eric Johnson assumed the role in 2013 with the release of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist.


Early life & Background[edit]

Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fisher, USN (Ret.), is a former member of Third Echelon, a top-secret sub-branch within the National Security Agency (NSA) & currently a commander of Fourth Echelon. Fisher was born in 1957[1][2][3] in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland. While not much is known of his early life, it is known that Sam attended a military boarding school after the death of his parents when he was a child until being accepted into the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated from in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in political science. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. Soon after his personnel file was flagged for recruitment by the Navy SEALs, which he joined after passing their grueling selection process and training program. In the mid-1980s, while Fisher was attached to the CIA (while still on active duty with the Navy) and working under an official diplomatic cover in Georgia (at the time part of the USSR), he met an NSA cryptanalyst named Regan Burns and they married in 1984/85 at a small ceremony at Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany after learning that Regan was pregnant. On May 31, 1985, Regan gave birth to their only child whom was named Sarah.[4] Fisher and Regan divorced after three years of marriage, and after gaining custody she reverted to her maiden name and changed Sarah's. When Regan died from ovarian cancer sometime in 2000, Fisher gained custody of Sarah, moved back to the U.S. and took a post based in CIA Headquarters at Langley in order to be home with her.[5]

Third Echelon Conspiracy[edit]

Sarah was allegedly killed by a "drunk driver" in 2008; however, three years later Fisher heard a rumor that the death of his daughter was no accident and went to Malta to investigate. After being captured by Third Echelon in Malta, Grim revealed that Sarah is alive but if Sam wanted to see his daughter again he had to help her investigate Reed. At Third Echelon HQ, Grim played a recording that Lambert made before his death in New York explaining that Sarah's death was faked to prevent her from being used as leverage by a mole inside Third Echelon to compromise Sam and Third Echelon.


Sam's direct supervisor and handler in Third Echelon was Colonel Irving Lambert, USA (Ret.) (deceased), who maintained constant radio contact with Sam during his missions, providing him with updates and support. Assisting Lambert were several other Third Echelon employees who provided additional reconnaissance, logistical, and technical support to Sam while operating in the field: Vernon 'Junior' Wilkes (deceased), Anna Grímsdóttir, Frances Coen and William Redding (introduced in Chaos Theory). One of his aides, Dermot Paul ("D.P.") Brunton (introduced in Pandora Tomorrow), became the head of SHADOWNET Operations, a black-ops unit within Third Echelon which uses teams of operatives.

Douglas Shetland, a former U.S. Marine Recon officer and the CEO of a PMC who plays a prominent role in the third game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, established that Fisher had served with Shetland in Kuwait during the Gulf War (while Shetland's unit was operating alongside the Navy SEALs and became close friends while stationed aboard the USS Nimitz) shortly after Fisher rescues him from a hostage situation during the "East Timor" mission in the second game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow when Shetland asks, "Where are the rest of the SEALs?" to which Sam replies and establishing that he left the US Navy Reserves in 1996 by saying "I came alone. Haven't been Navy for a decade."

Victor Coste is one of Sam Fisher's oldest friends. The two served together in the Navy SEALs in Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991. During their time in Iraq, Coste single-handedly rescued Sam from a hostage situation after the four-man Navy SEAL foot patrol under Sam's command was ambushed on the Highway of Death and Sam was captured by the Iraqi Republican Guard.

Professional Profile[edit]

Sam is 178 cm (5 ft 10 in) tall, weighs 78 kg (170 pounds),[1] has greying, dark brown hair and green eyes. He was the first person to be recruited as a field agent of the "Splinter Cell" program, Third Echelon's highly clandestine black ops project. A highly decorated veteran of JSOC's DEVGRU, and the CIA's Special Activities Division, Fisher is a master in the art of stealth, having been trained in various covert infiltration tactics, specializing in operating at night. In addition, Sam is highly trained in urban combat as well as being extremely proficient in tradecraft skills such as surveillance tactics, computer hacking, handling explosives and the use of nearly any conventional firearm ambidextrously. He also is a highly trained expert in the Israeli martial arts system of Krav Maga. In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, he utilized the Center Axis Relock, a modern shooting stance used in close-quarters combat. He prefers to work alone in the field. When not on assignment or stationed at Fort Meade, Fisher resides in a townhouse in Towson, or a farmhouse in rural Germantown, Maryland (according to the novelizations of the series).

Fisher has conducted operations all over the world: Canada, Cuba, the former East Germany, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Iceland, Israel, East Timor, Indonesia, Guam, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North & South Korea, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Myanmar, Serbia, the Republic of Georgia, and France. He has also conducted operations inside the United States, in places such as Los Angeles International Airport, Denver International Airport, Sabine Pass, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Ellsworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas and the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. From the novels, He is known to have command of a startling number of languages, including English, Spanish, German, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, and Farsi.

The novel version of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell establishes that Sam hated his time in the CIA when he was working there in the mid-late 1980s, and that he mostly had official cover (i.e. he was a "diplomatic aide"). It is also established during the "Bank" mission in Chaos Theory that Fisher served in Panama during Operation Just Cause when Redding reveals in the level's pre-mission briefing that Fisher was part of a CIA team that raided the same bank during the conflict searching for some of Noriega's drug money.

It is also established during the same mission in Chaos Theory that he was soon afterwards recalled back to active duty with the SEALs and deployed to Iraq, where he spent the months leading up to the Gulf War "sleeping in a ditch on the road between Baghdad and Kuwait" shortly after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and was already present once the Western military intervention by the U.S.-led coalition forces began at the beginning of the Gulf War itself in January 1991.

It was revealed during the flashback level in the series' fifth installment, Splinter Cell: Conviction, that during Sam's service in southern Iraq during the Liberation of Kuwait campaign, he led a four-man Navy SEAL foot patrol on search-and-destroy operations in al-Diwaniyah. It is shown that he and his team were ambushed by Iraqi Republican Guard troops while on a routine patrol on a highway leading out of Kuwait back toward Baghdad during Operation Desert Storm. Although Sam survived, two men under his command were killed, and he was subsequently captured. However, his second-in-command, Victor Coste (callsign "Husky"), who had survived the ambush and been left for dead, rescued Sam, having fought his way through to Sam's location alone despite being heavily outnumbered by Iraqi troops in his way. Having disobeyed direct orders to hold his position and wait for evacuation, this is a debt which Sam has never forgotten. As a result of this experience, Vic is someone Sam often reaches out to for support in unconventional situations and the only person which Sam trusts without hesitation to watch his back while in the field, in even the most sensitive and desperate of situations.

Ubisoft's lead character artist Martin Caya established in early interviews about the first game of the series that during his career Fisher had served in Afghanistan, where he had an experience in which he was forced to hide under dead bodies in order to avoid being killed in the middle of an operation. Caya also established that Fisher had served in East Germany and in "other Soviet satellite countries leading up to the collapse of the USSR."

The novel Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Checkmate revealed that Sam served in Senegal where his team was deployed to hunt down and assassinate a French black market arms dealer who had been arming both sides of a brush war between Senegal and Mauritania. Fisher’s team eventually tracked down the arms dealer in Dakar where they eliminated him after weeks of searching through the jungles along the Senegal-Mali border.[6]

It's also been established in the original Splinter Cell in the interview with Sam found in the extra features that he was indeed with the Navy SEALs, when he says "I've had the good fortune in my life to work with some really talented and professional people. U.S. Navy SEALs, the folks at Third Echelon. All real pros." The "Sam Fisher Interview" was an exclusive behind-the-scenes video with Sam going undercover as Ubisoft's "technical advisor" after the "Presidential Palace" level. According to his DD214 from the website for Double Agent, Sam rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander (O-4) in the Navy, where at some point he spent nearly three years (2 years, 11 months) as an intelligence analyst.

Fourth Echelon[edit]

After the disbandedment of Third Echelon, he works with his friend Victor Coste and Charlie Cole at Paladin Nine Security. When the recon mission was interrupted with the blacklist attack, President Patricia Caldwell offers him a new assignment as the commander of Fourth Echelon, a new top-secret, fully mobile special operations unit answerable directly and only to her.


As a covert operative whose existence is completely deniable by the U.S. government, Fisher approaches his target objectives in a gruff, no-nonsense manner, but maintains a light-hearted relationship with his colleagues and even with his momentary hostages (even if he is going to kill them). Fisher has little patience for government bureaucracy or behind-the-scenes political maneuvering. A realist who is well aware of the overarching political ramifications behind his assignments and the specific manner authorized for their completion, Fisher maintains a cynical, jaded and sarcastic sense of humor about the covert, illegal, and often morally ambiguous nature of his work. In Pandora Tomorrow, when Lambert informs Fisher that "Nobody knows whether he's (Norman Soth) a US intelligence agent or a terrorist," Fisher replies that, "Those things aren't mutually exclusive."

At the same time, he is highly loyal and a staunch believer in the ideals his work ultimately protects. He is quickly angered by the casual and/or intentional slaughter of innocent civilians or unarmed military personnel by his enemies.

In the original Splinter Cell, Fisher is the original trial agent of the nascent Third Echelon and its inaugural Splinter Cell initiative, and thus his interactions with his handler Colonel Lambert are relatively straightforward but respectful. At the same time, Fisher does drop the occasional sarcastic wisecrack at particularly unusual or obtuse instructions. For instance, during the final level in Pandora Tomorrow, Sam is in an elevator that shuts down when his enemies cut the power. Lambert informs him that the elevator has stopped, and Sam retorts with a sarcastic, "Thanks, Lambert."

In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Fisher is blunt, and he appears fairly disappointed when Lambert orders him to avoid enemy fatalities as part of his mission parameters. Frequently holding captured enemies at knife-point, his dialog with them is creative and highly intimidating, though often morbidly humorous to the audience. In Splinter Cell: Conviction, Fisher's personality takes a leap towards ruthlessness as intimidating threats of lethality in Chaos Theory become standard practice. Fisher often tortures his subjects of interrogation through creative use of surrounding objects such pianos, fire extinguishers or windowsills.

The tie-in novels expand on Fisher's character. They portray him as detached and preferring solitude, buying non-perishables (such as any CDs he wants) online, and living by himself. The first novel explained in a one-sentence paragraph that Fisher "like[s] it that way." He avoids relationships due to the demands of his job, though he eventually engages in a relationship with his Krav Maga instructor Katia in Operation Barracuda, only to be reminded later in that same book why he cannot have relationships when Katia is killed by a sniper shot that was meant for him. However, he does have a close relationship with his daughter, Sarah, which is used to bait him into a trap in the first novel when Sarah is kidnapped in order to get to Fisher.

In the novels, Fisher also mentions that he has the ability to fall asleep on command, unlike most people who can only sleep when tired. This, he says, is an asset in his line of work, which often requires him to obtain sleep in the most awkward of places.


  • Splinter Cell: Conviction: Original Soundtrack (Limited Collector's Edition) (2010)
  • Agent Sam Fisher - Conviction (2008)[7]
  • Agent Sam Fisher - Double Agent (2007)

In other media[edit]

It has been announced that Tom Hardy will be playing Sam Fisher in the adaptation of Splinter Cell.[8]


In 2008, The Age ranked Fisher as the seventh greatest Xbox character of all time, stating "he's a man of action rather than words and a lone wolf, and sometimes, you’ve just got to respect that."[9] The character ranks 24th on the "Guinness Top 50 Video Game Characters of All Time" list.[10] UGO Networks featured Fisher on their list of "The Coolest Helmets and Headgear in Video Games" at number 5, remarking he is "unrecognizable without" the three-eyed night vision goggles "perched on his forehead."[11] In 2013, Complex ranked Sam Fisher at number 18 on the list of the greatest soldiers in video games, calling him "a little bit like an American James Bond—only without all the things that James Bond does besides kill dudes."[12]


  1. ^ a b Andrist, Alex (4 March 2005). Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory manual. Ubisoft. p. 3. 
  2. ^ Michaels, David; Clancy, Tom (2004). Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Berkley Publishing Group. pp. 30, 32. ISBN 9780425201688. "I'm four years older than Lambert! [...] I'm forty-seven" 
  3. ^ Concept art of Sam's DD214 from Splinter Cell: Double Agent confirms his date of birth as "1957".
  4. ^ Newspaper clipping of Sarah Fisher's obituary from Splinter Cell: Double Agent
  5. ^ Michaels, David; Clancy, Tom (2004). Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Berkley Publishing Group. p. 40. ISBN 9780425201688. "...I think Sarah was fifteen..." 
  6. ^ Michaels, David; Clancy, Tom (2006). "24". Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Checkmate. Berkley Publishing Group. p. 161. ISBN 9780425212783. 
  7. ^ "Agent Sam Fisher - Conviction". Juno Records. Juno Records. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Collura, Scott (14 November 2012). "Tom Hardy to Play Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell Movie". IGN. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Top 50 Xbox Characters of All Time". The Age. September 30, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  10. ^ Sharkey, Mike (16 February 2011). "Guinness Ranks Your 50 Favorite Video Game Characters of All Time". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Meli, Marissa (March 4, 2011). "Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell series) - The Coolest Helmets and Headgear in Video Games". UGO Networks. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ Chad Hunter, Michael Rougeau, The 50 Greatest Soldiers In Video Games,, May 25, 2013.