Metal Gear Solid’s Most Tragic Character, Explained

Metal Gear Solid has its fair share of tragic moments. However, few characters have a backstory as tragic as Naked Snake’s mentor, The Boss.

The Metal Gear Solid series has its fair share of tragic moments. However, few characters have as heart-wrenching of a story as The Boss. Originally introduced in the prequel game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, The Boss stands as one of the most influential figures in the entire franchise.

Hailed as the mother of all special forces, The Boss (AKA Joy) and her team, The Cobras, were a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. On top of inventing many of the techniques used by modern special forces units (many of which she helped establish following WW2), The Boss was also the mentor, mother figure, and implied lover of history’s greatest soldier, Big Boss. In many ways, the Metal Gear series is about the rise and fall of Big Boss and his progeny, and it is The Boss herself who sets into motion his journey from American War hero to international nuclear terrorist.

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In particular, it’s The Boss’ death which spurs Big Boss (AKA Naked Snake) to make his first steps towards villainy. After the U.S. Government framed The Boss as a Soviet defector responsible for a nuclear attack, it manipulated Naked Snake into assassinating his mentor. In truth, The Boss was a double agent who was ordered to take the blame. She had knowingly sacrificed her life in the name of her country, an action which dissolved Naked Snake’s American loyalties and motivated him to begin his first international mercenary group, Militaires Sans Frontières. However, that isn’t the last of The Boss’ sacrifices.

The Boss had always been loyal to a fault in this regard. Years before the events of Snake Eater, Joy was ordered to choose between the life of her lover, The Sorrow, or her own. In the end, the pair mutually decided that The Sorrow should be the one to go. Following this event, her protégé the remaining Cobras became the closest thing The Boss had to family. Even her child, Revolver Ocelot – whom she had birth in the midst of battle on D-Day – was given away shortly after his birth.

Who Is The Boss In Metal Gear Solid?

Metal Gear Solid screenwriter

For many people, these sacrifices alone would be justification to cut all ties with the United States Military. However, The Boss was a born patriot and soldier. On top of that, she had a personal goal to achieve. Inspired by the view of Earth from orbit (The Boss was secretly the actual first astronaut in space) The Boss strived to create a world without division or conflict. As the daughter of a member of the Philosophers – an Illuminati-esque cabal of surreptitious and wealthy politicians from each Cold War superpower – The Boss was one of the few people with the means to achieve this goal. In truth, her Soviet defection was originally a ruse to obtain the Philosopher’s Legacy, a microfilm containing the banking information for the group’s entire $100 billion fortune.

However, The Boss’ mission would inevitably go awry, and she would be forced to take the fall after the Russian Colonel Volgin purposefully set off a nuclear weapon within Russian borders. As a result, she entrusted Naked Snake with both the Philosopher’s Legacy and her vision of a united world. Unfortunately, Snake and his allies would all develop different misinterpretations of The Boss’ will, leading to their various paths in life. Inevitably, none of them would realize The Boss’ true wishes and each would infallibly cast the world even deeper into conflict with itself as the Metal Gear Solid series progressed. Only Solid Snake, a character who was only tangentially aware of The Boss’ life, managed to stop the chaos caused by her followers, The Patriots. In truth, the tragedy of The Boss is not that she sacrificed everything for her loyalties, but that her sacrifice was very nearly in vain.

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