MGS characters never far from tragedy

part of Metal Gear Month

Characters in the Metal Gear series often get their butt kicked emotionally. That’s partly what makes the story so investing. Yeah, the plot of the series hangs on tragedy like a crutch, but I would have it no other way. I connect when I see sadness, I always do.

This list is a countdown of the most tragic characters in the game, in this player’s opinion, and brief details on what exactly it is that makes them tragic…

I’ll start with the big three:

3. Hal Emmerich

Hal, otherwise known as Otacon, was a dreamer that loved anime and fantasy. He wanted to use his adept knack for science and technology to help people and bring more happiness to the world. After becoming a renowned scientist, what he ended up doing was the complete opposite. He worked on nuclear weapons projects because that’s what the government had in store for him. It was made worse by the fact that nuclear weapons ran in his family. He felt no matter how he dreamed, he couldn’t escape the harsh reality, and he would forever make bombs. Along with this, he was a close witness to the deaths of several women he loved: he arrived at Sniper Wolf’s side as she died, and he had to watch Naomi (his romantic interest at the time) inject herself with a lethal substance as he pleaded with her not to. The most tragic thing about him was his relationship with his little sister, Emma. They were separated at a young age and spent much time being bitter about how things were left between them. When they finally were reunited and realized how much they had missed each other this whole time, their time together was cut short due to Emma’s blood loss from being stabbed. She died in his arms. After her death, Emma’s parrot, who always repeated things Emma said, squaked “Hal, I miss you”.

2. Big Boss

In Snake Eater, then known as Naked Snake, he is forced by his duty to his country to kill someone he had a great amount of love for – his mentor, The Boss. Also, in this game, he is betrayed by his romantic involvement, EVA, who reveals she was double-crossing him. But Snake understands it’s all part of politics, and holds nothing against her. In Portable Ops, Snake tells Elisa he will never have children, I assume because he does not want to be responsible for bringing new life into a world that he has seen become so ugly. But that was not to be his fate – his genes are used to create clones. In Peace Walker, he reveals that ever since the moment he killed his mentor, he has been “dead”. He continued to think of himself this way… Once his “death” was finally brought at the hands of his cloned “son”, he wasn’t allowed to die peacefully. Instead, he was kept barely alive as his body was traded from one faction to another as a symbol of their various causes. When he finally awakens from this long period of unconsciousness, having been given a temporary reconstructed body, he meets up with his son one last time and urges him to live a happy life – free of war – like he never could. Then he dies in the presence of his son leaning on the gravestone of the mentor he killed.

1. Gray Fox

First of all, he was trained to be a killer at a very early age. Trained to be emotionless, even sedated while his memory was erased. He was never anything but a tool for war powers, until the day he took an orphan under his care in Africa. He names her Naomi. Eventually he is forced to battle with his friend, Solid Snake, who kills him. He is later brought back to life as the Cyborg Ninja – his body made to work again by machines. That’s when things take the most dramatic turn. When I first heard Gray Fox scream out to Solid Snake that he was the one who killed Naomi’s parents, I cried a little! He reveals that his guilt is why he felt the needed to take care of her. It haunted him the rest of his life – he had to look her in the eyes and pretend everything was okay because Naomi looked up to him so much as a brother. After telling Snake this, he then sacrifices himself by way of being mutilated and finally smashed by Metal Gear so that Snake can destroy it. So sad.

Here are some other tragic characters:

12. Python

Another tool of the government, Python used to be a friend of Naked Snake. Since the two of them parted ways, he was controlled by forces who engineered him as the anti-Snake. He was trained specifically to kill Naked Snake. His training included many assassinations – none of which he wanted to participate in. After he met Snake once again after ten years apart, he claimed to have nightmares where he hears the voices of the ones he killed.

11. Liquid

Basically considering himself the unfavored child having gotten all of Big Boss’s recessive traits, Liquid sought to prove that he wasn’t worthless. Sibling-rivalry with his brother, Solid Snake, would be his demise.

10. The Sorrow

The dude cries blood. So surely he must have a tragic story, right? Indeed. The child he had with The Boss was immediately seized, Sorrow never getting to know it. But once he got word of a plan to have the child killed unless either The Sorrow or The Boss died, Sorrow gracefully accepted the position of one to die. He was then reluctantly killed by The Boss herself. Still loving The Boss, he remains close to her in spirit form, never communicating, just observing.

9. Bosses in MGS1 and MGS4 – especially Sniper Wolf

I was born on a battlefield. Raised on a battlefield. Gunfire, sirens and screams… They were my lullabies…

I finally understand. I wasn’t waiting to kill people… I was waiting for someone to kill me. A man like you… You’re a hero. Please… Set me free.

8. EVA

She loved Big Boss, but had to abandon him to complete her mission. Later, unbeknownst to Big Boss, she volunteered to be the surrogate mother for his genetic children. Many years later, Solid Snake made contact with her and she revealed herself to be his “mother”. During this time she takes Solid Snake on a getaway motorcycle ride, just as she did with his father, Big Boss, fifty years ago. Both bike rides lead to a very similar crash and deadly wound, bringing back memories for her, only this time she wouldn’t survive. She remains wounded for a very long time before finally dying in the arms of Solid Snake. I can’t help but feel she had regrets about the time she had with Big Boss.

7. Raiden


Raiden was raised as a child soldier and in later years learned to suppress the terrible memories, longing to start over. It was difficult for him to love out of fear he would hurt the other person. His resurfacing bad memories of childhood combined with Rose’s (his love) miscarriage forced him to decide to leave. He wandered alone for a while before being captured and used for experiments, which is how he ended up looking like a freak the way he does.

6. Naomi

Growing up, she always wondered what happened to her real parents, but always looked up to her big brother, Frank Hunter, though she never found out he was the one who killed her parents. After Frank’s first death, she was so vengeful that she injected a virus into Solid Snake, the man that “killed” him. But she didn’t have all the information. After finding out Snake and Frank were good friends and their battle was a reluctant one, she regretting having infected Snake, but couldn’t do anything about it. She had continue living knowing that he would one day die due to that virus. She eventually revealed that she was suffering from cancer and committed suicide.

5. The Boss

Her child was taken away from her. Her accomplishments as a female astronaut were stricken from the record books due to politics. She was forced to kill the father of her child. Her final mission was to allow herself to be killed by her protégé and go down in history as a traitor. She went along with all this willingly because she was infinitely dedicated to her purpose, which was to serve her county and complete the mission. “She was a true patriot”.

4. Olga Gurlukovich

Her daughter was kidnapped by the Patriots, and she was forced to cooperate with their plans in order to avoid her daughter’s execution. Everything she did was for her daughter’s life, including the antagonist character she had to play. But he never got to finish the mission she was on. Her hand got forced and she revealed what her mission truly was – in opposition to her ‘character’. She was rewarded with bullet to in the head, and died without knowing her daughter’s fate.

On a lighter note…

The only one who evades tragedy, at least in his ultimatum, is Solid Snake, the game’s original main character. Surely he was witness to many tragedies, but in the end, he was given a chance to live a normal life of peace. This only comes once the entire series’ story is finished, so it provides a good contrast to prior events as well as a moral of the story.


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