Big Boss (Metal Gear)

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Big Boss
Metal Gear character
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)
Voiced by (Japanese) Akio Ōtsuka (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V)
Chikao Ōtsuka (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
Motion capture Mizuho Yoshida (Metal Gear Solid 3)
Akio Ōtsuka (Metal Gear Solid 4)
Mio Tanaka (Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker)
Erik Brown (Metal Gear Solid V)
Rudy McCollum (Metal Gear Solid V; Prologue: Awakening)
Kiefer Sutherland (Metal Gear Solid V [facial only])
Fictional profile
Real name John
Aliases Naked Snake
Vic Boss
"The Man Who Sold The World"
Nationality American
Affiliations Zanzibar Land / Outer Heaven (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?) is one of the central characters of Konami's Metal Gear series of video games. He was introduced in the original Metal Gear series as the commanding officer and subsequent nemesis of Solid Snake. He is later featured as the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid prequels where he is initially depicted as an American Special Forces Operator and decorated war hero until political manipulations cause him to be disillusioned, becoming the leader of a rogue band of mercenaries known as Outer Heaven.

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; his first appearances are 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 games

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 Outer Heaven's 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 Zanzibar Land's detention camp, with it Snake incinerating Big Boss.[5]

Metal Gear Solid appearances

Big Boss's presence figures prominently in the original Metal Gear Solid games where his DNA created the genetically-altered clones from the secret "Les Enfants Terribles" government project (French for "The Terrible Children"): Solid Snake, Liquid Snake and Solidus Snake.[6]

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?),[7] as a member of the CIA special forces unit FOX in 1964 that was founded by Zero.[8] He is sent on an assignment in the Soviet Union to thwart an uprising led by the sadistic Colonel Volgin; rescue key weapons researcher Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov, and destroy the Shagohod to avert a nuclear war. Over the course of his assignment, he is forced to kill The Boss in order to supposedly clear his own name.[9][10] According to EVA's debrief, the political motives behind the operation do not sit well with Snake, especially after he is awarded the title of Big Boss for his actions;[11] he initially rejects the title, prompting him to retire from active service.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops shows Big Boss still under his former codename Naked Snake, believing that he has yet to surpass The Boss as a warrior. Having spent six years wandering the globe, Snake finds himself involved in an armed uprising caused by Gene's rogue FOX unit in the (fictional) San Hieronymo peninsula in Colombia and learns that he has been convicted for instigating the revolt. Hoping to clear his name, Snake forms his own team of specialists by recruiting both old allies and defecting enemy soldiers to his cause, one of whom happens to be Roy Campbell. He faces not only the members of the FOX unit, but also the first built Metal Gear prototype. After he learned that The Boss's death had been planned all along, Big Boss defeats Gene and obtains the funds for Army's Heaven.[12]

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots revealed that Big Boss was one of the founding members of the Patriots to initially realize The Boss's dream, but this spiraled into a conspiracy to impose order and control over the world after Big Boss disagreed with Zero's nature of the dream. Big Boss despised his role as figurehead, especially since Zero's vision placed no value on loyalty to ideals and people, something The Boss treasured above all else. When Big Boss learnt that his own DNA was being used for Zero's "Les Enfants Terribles" project, this proved to be the final straw. After his defection from the Patriots, Big Boss plotted coup d'état against Zero; Outer Heaven (Metal Gear) and Zanzibar Land (Metal Gear 2).[13] Although he had survived these defeats, he was placed in an artificially induced 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. Following the voice casting credits, Big Boss appears before Solid Snake. After he reveals to Snake the truth about Zero and the Patriots, Big Boss shuts down the catatonic Zero's life support system. He manages to come to terms with his feelings regarding The Boss,[14] and then reconciles with his son before dying from unintended exposure to the new FOXDIE virus.

Big Boss's past as Naked Snake again serves as the scenario in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker after he and his business partner Kazuhira "Kaz" Miller established the mercenary force Militaires Sans Frontières (French for "Soldiers Without Borders") made up of expatriate soldiers recruited to his cause. He intends to use MSF to live out The Boss's 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. On Colombia's Barranquilla coast, two representatives of the Costa Rican government, Paz Ortega Andrade and Ramon Gálvez Mena, seek to hire MSF to liberate Costa Rica from Hot Coldman's CIA Peace Sentinel unit that has established bases in the country. Snake accepts the mission after Gálvez hands him an audio cassette with a recording of The Boss's voice. Following Kaz's advice, the 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 story, Snake comes to learn about the true purpose of Coldman's Peace Sentinel unit and gradually lets go of his guilt for killing The Boss after encountering an AI replica, finally accepting his Big Boss title.[15] Later in the game, Big Boss has Huey Emmerich create Metal Gear ZEKE as a weapon to defend his interests, with no desire to use offensively. After Big Boss killed Gálvez out of self-defense, Paz pilots ZEKE to launch a nuclear strike on the Eastern Coast of the United States as part of an insurance policy if Big Boss refused to obey Cipher. After hearing the ultimatum, Big Boss refuses and fights ZEKE in order to stop Paz. He is victorious, but ZEKE was heavily damaged with Paz being ejected into the Caribbean Sea. After ZEKE's destruction, Kaz tells Big Boss that from then on, they will no longer be able to see the outside world unless they reveal their true nature as well as admitting that he was in on Cipher's plot. Big Boss rejects this idea, stating that his "life shall be different from The Boss's". After this conversation, Big Boss gives a speech to the Militaires Sans Frontières soldiers, telling them that if the times demand it, they will be vigilantes, criminals and terrorists, but they will be the ones to choose their battles and their causes, not governments.

In Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Big Boss is on a mission to rescue the child soldier Chico and Paz from an American black site on Cuban soil. He disagrees with Kaz Miller over locating Paz, believing that Paz can be converted to MSF's cause. The rescue is successful, until it is found that Paz has a bomb implanted inside herself. Paz 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 the invading paramilitary force XOF. These events set up the plot of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, where Big Boss has a body double—the medic aboard the helicopter that crashed in the Caribbean—that assumes the codename Venom Snake while venturing into Soviet-controlled Afghanistan to seek revenge against Cipher.[16] Big Boss poses as "Ishmael", a patient in the same hospital where Venom Snake is being treated, and aids in an escape when the hospital is attacked by Cipher and XOF. While Venom Snake goes on to Afghanistan and convinces the world that he is Big Boss, setting out on a mission to rebuild MSF, while Big Boss himself stays behind to continue commanding Fox Hound. After Venom Snake and Outer Heaven perish, Big Boss uses that to fake his own death and this time set-up a nation-state as part of a plan to prepare the world for it's freedom from the Patriots. Although the plan is successful, it comes with a cost; angered at his deception, Kazuhira Miller turns his back on Big Boss, vowing to prepare one of his sons—Solid Snake—to one day fight against him. Metal Gear Solid V also reveals several events; Venom Snake stood in as the "phantom" decoy of Big Boss and fought Solid Snake during the original Outer Heaven uprising, and Big Boss's final confrontation with Solid Snake was in Zanzibar Land.

Other appearances

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

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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] 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 newcomers to the series by making him be in the dark in regards to what happened in the last nine years.[22]

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.[23][24] 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."[25]


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. His tumble into darkness hits its lowest point during The Phantom Pain, where he is willing to manipulate even his good friend and sub-commander Kaz Miller to set up his own Outer Heaven in secrecy to bring about the end of the Patriots. After awakened from his coma during Guns of the Patriots and being told what happened during his fifteen-year coma, Big Boss finally comes to terms with what happened during Operation Snake Eater in 1964 and understands that for everything to end, both he and Zero must die to end the Patriots for good. In his final moments, Big Boss is able to reconcile with his last surviving "son" Solid Snake and finally passes away in peace.

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,[26] and as the fourth top Metal Gear villains.[27] 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."[28] 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.[29] Additionally, GameSpot listed him as one of the 20 best Metal Gear bosses with focus on his importance within the series' plot.[30] He was ranked as the 28th "coolest" video game villain by Complex in 2012.[31]

The inclusion of Naked Snake's role in Metal Gear Solid 3 has also received praise from critics.[32] 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.[33][34] 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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37] Another comparison between Big Boss's and Solid Snake's character was made by IGN's Phil Pirrello in article titled "Stars Thunderdome: Snake vs. Big Boss."[38] 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.[39] 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.[40] 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.[41][42][43] 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.[44]


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  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...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 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
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  12. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Kojima Productions (2006)
    Gene: So... You never knew. Six years ago, during Operation Snake Eater, Volgin launched an American nuclear missile at Sokolov's research lab. This caused a change in plans, and the U.S. government had to assassinate its own operative, The Boss, to prove its innocence. And you were the assassin, Snake. / (Naked Snake is speechless) / Gene: Do you really think Volgin committed that terrible crime of his own will? / Naked Snake: What? / Gene: It was all a setup from the very beginning. Volgin launching the nuke... The Boss' death... Even your mission in Groznyj Grad, Snake! It was all the work of your country and a single, deviously cunning strategist. / Naked Snake: You're saying it was all a setup? By who!? / Gene: The Boss gave up her life, even if someone else willed it. She sacrificed her own life for her calling. It was a noble act. / Naked Snake: Answer me! Who set it up?!
  13. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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See also