Tunnel Rat (G.I. Joe)

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Tunnel Rat
G.I. Joe character
Illustration of Tunnel Rat from G.I. Joe: Order of Battle. Art by Herb Trimpe.
First appearance 1987
Voiced by Laurie Faso (G.I. Joe: The Movie)
Michael Sinterniklaas (Sigma 6, Season One), Sebastian Arcelus (Sigma 6, Season Two)
Eric Bauza (Resolute)
Matthew Yang King (Renegades)
Affiliation G.I. Joe
Specialty Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist
File name Lee, Nicky
Birth place Brooklyn, NY
SN 367-84-9090
Rank E-5
Primary MOS Explosive Ordnance Disposal
Secondary MOS Combat Engineer
Subgroups Night Force
Sonic Fighters
Desert Patrol Squad

Tunnel Rat is a fictional character from the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toyline, comic books and cartoon series. He is the G.I. Joe Team's Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist and debuted in 1987.


His real name is Nicky Lee, and his rank is that of sergeant E-5. Tunnel Rat is a Trinidadian Chinese who lived in Brooklyn, New York prior to joining the US Army. He received Ranger training at Fort Benning, and served time in Grenada. Tunnel Rat specializes in explosive ordnance disposal, and is familiar with most NATO and Warsaw Pact explosive devices.[1]

The character's facial appearance is based on G.I. Joe comic book writer Larry Hama.[2]


Marvel Comics[edit]

Tunnel Rat made his Marvel Comics series debut in Issue #59 (May 1987) of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, in which he was assigned for security to Thunder, Clutch, and Grand Slam. The entire team had been out for some time testing equipment. Tunnel Rat teaches Grand Slam all about the Joe credit cards, as the latter had been having problems with receiving his pay. The group joins up with Dusty, Crankcase, Hawk, Cross-Country, and Outback to take the equipment to Fort Carson, but Tunnel Rat's new payment method gets them attacked by Cobra forces. The Crimson Guardsman Fred VII, Raptor, and Cobra Commander track down the Joe convoy via Tunnel Rat's credit records, old intelligence and the abilities of Raptor's birds. Cobra Commander attacks the entire team in a Pogo Plane. Due to the limited maneuverability of the mountains, the battle is precarious for both sides. Clutch's driving skills saves the day but Cobra Commander escapes with the knowledge that Tunnel Rat has unwittingly given him.[3]

Tunnel Rat often serves as pointman in missions where the Joes have to travel through underground tunnels and sewer channels. He does so during the Cobra Island civil war in Issues #74-76; his expertise helps his fellow recon teammates escape from Cobra soldiers, and, in other instances, Iron Grenadiers.[4] He and other Joes come into conflict with the Iron Grenadiers in Special Missions #23, when the Joes give newest recruit Scoop a hard time because he barely meets Joe standards. However, Scoop later saves the life of a wounded Tunnel Rat by defeating an Iron Grenadier in hand-to-hand combat, which earns him the respect of all the other Joes.[5]

Devil's Due[edit]

When G.I.Joe was reinstated as seen in the Devil's Due comics, Tunnel Rat returned as a reservist. He was called into action to help battle the returned Serpentor. When Joe, Cobra, and the Coil battled it out on Cobra Island, Tunnel Rat was part of Assault Team Beta.[6] After the conflict, Tunnel Rat was part of a group of Joes tracking down a mysterious invasion in Sierra Gordo. Tunnel Rat was wounded during the mission [7] and had a lengthy recovery. By the time he fully healed, the team had disbanded in the wake of the battle against the Red Shadows.

America's Elite/Devil's Due[edit]

Tunnel Rat returned to reserve status. He was called into action to help a group of Joes infiltrate an abandoned Cobra facility in New York City. During the World War 3 storyline, Tunnel Rat was reactivated again, this time he deployed to South America alongside Footloose, Beach Head, Lift Ticket, Rapid Fire, and Windmill. As the main team moved to attack Cobra forces in the Appalachian Mountains, Tunnel Rat redeployed to New York City where he battled Alley Vipers in the sewers.[8]

IDW Publishing[edit]

Tunnel Rat appears in issue #4 of the IDW Publishing G.I. Joe series. He assists his teammates when The Pit comes under siege by robotic adversaries.[9]


A Real American Hero

The first Tunnel Rat figure was released as part of the 1987 series of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.[10] A second version was made available a year later as part of the Night Force sub-set, packaged with Psyche-Out.[11] A third Tunnel Rat figure was part of the Sonic Fighters sub-set in 1990, and came with an oversized backpack that featured electronic sounds.[12]

G.I. Joe vs Cobra/Valor vs Venom

The original Tunnel Rat sculpt was revived as part of a new "Night Force" set released in 2004. That same year, he was released as part of the "Desert Patrol Squad" set, which also included the figures Ambush, Dusty, Gung Ho, Snake Eyes and Stalker.[13] Both sets were only available at Toys "R" Us stores.

Two all-new sculpted Tunnel Rat figures were released as well. The first (G.I. Joe vs Cobra) portrayed him as being much taller than previously seen in other media. This was corrected in the second version (Valor vs. Venom).

Comic Book Pack

A Tunnel Rat figure using the original mold, but with a newly sculpted head to reflect his comic book appearances, was packaged along with Flint, General Abernathy, and a reprint of Marvel Comics G.I. Joe #76.

Rise of Cobra

While not in the movie, a figure for Tunnel Rat was created for the toyline. Tunnel Rat is part of a 2-figure Walmart exclusive, packaged with Monkeywrench, an explosives expert for the Dreadnoks.[14]


G.I. Joe: The Movie[edit]

In the cartoon series, the character first appeared in G.I. Joe: The Movie as a member of the Rawhides, a group of G.I. Joe rookies. He was often partnered with the taller Big Lob. The Rawhides would try to operate on their own throughout the movie. He was voiced by Laurie Faso.[15]

He was not seen again in the following seasons from DiC.

Spy Troops[edit]

Tunnel Rat appeared in the direct-to-video CGI animated movie G.I. Joe: Spy Troops, voiced by Doron Bell Jr..

Sigma Six[edit]

Tunnel Rat also appears in G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, although his character design is overhauled that there is no resemblance to his previous version. In that series, he has a penchant for portable hi-tech devices and a specialty in infiltration and demolition materials. He is also somewhat lazy and will eat anything, including live insects. He often works with Heavy Duty, who seems to be his best friend.


The character appears in G.I. Joe: Resolute, where his character is given a much more gung-ho and cocky treatment.


In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Tunnel Rat is portrayed as Chinese American, hailing from Chinatown. He is one of the central characters of the series. He is part of the titular 'Renegades', a sub-team of Joes on the run from the law. He often serves a comedic purpose in contrast to the more serious characters. He serves at the teams medic, having field medic training. He is an outdoor survival expert with extensive knowledge of soil microbes, plants, fungi, and insects.

In the episode "White Out," it was revealed that Tunnel Rat was once on the same military team with Snow Job and Frostbite. In the episode "The Anomaly," it is revealed that Tunnel Rat has a brother named Teddy. The siblings work together in saving a friend who had been abducted by a Sewer Viper. At the end of the episode, Tunnel Rat goes to see his family. The reunion takes place off-screen, as the viewers only hear Tunnel Rat's Mom yell "Nicky!?" in a surprised tone.


  • Tunnel Rat is a featured character in the G.I.Joe novel 'Fool's Gold'.[16]
  • He is briefly mentioned in the e-book 'Diary Of An American Boy'.[17]

Video games[edit]

Tunnel Rat appears as a non-playable supporting character in the video game G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra voiced by Bumper Robinson.


  1. ^ Hama, Larry (1987). Howard Mackie, ed. G.I. Joe Order Of Battle. Marvel Entertainment Group. p. 116. ISBN 0-87135-288-5. 
  2. ^ "Interview with Larry Hama". Joebattlelines.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  3. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #59 (May 1987)
  4. ^ "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" #74-76.
  5. ^ "G.I. Joe Special Missions" #23 (Nov. 1989)
  6. ^ "G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero" #25 (2003)
  7. ^ "G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero" #29-30 (2004)
  8. ^ G.I. Joe: America's Elite Volume 5: World War III Omnibus - (328 pages, July 2008, ISBN 978-1-934692-02-8, Devil's Due Publishing)
  9. ^ "G.I.Joe" #4 (April 1, 2009)
  10. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 111. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  11. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 116. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  12. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 133. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  13. ^ Desert Patrol Squad at YOJOE.com
  14. ^ G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra - Tunnel Rat & Monkey Wrench at Walmart.com
  15. ^ G.I. Joe: The Movie (Motion picture). De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. April 20, 1987. 
  16. ^ Ballard, S.M. (1988). Fool's Gold. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-35096-0. 
  17. ^ Google Books link. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 

External links[edit]