If you were one of the millions of gamers whose first experience with the Metal Gear series was with 1998’s Metal Gear Solid, you probably didn’t know much about the supposedly villainous Big Boss right away. He was frequently referenced during Solid Snake's early exploits, but little was revealed about this mysterious antagonist until Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater took us back to the 1960s. With Metal Gear Solid V on the horizon and Big Boss in another starring role, we wanted to give newcomers to the series a little background of the world’s greatest soldier.

The Boss and Operation Snake Eater

At the age of 15, Big Boss (then going by his real name of John) began his training with a woman known as The Boss. She spent years training him in melee combat, demolition, stealth, and countless other skills. They eventually went their separate ways and Big Boss (under the codename of Snake) became a decorated soldier in his own right.

In 1964, Snake was dropped into the jungles of Russia in a mission to rescue a defecting Soviet scientist. There, he was shocked to discover that The Boss had apparently defected to America’s Cold War enemy. The Boss tossed her former pupil off a bridge and injured him, though he was eventually rescued.

Soon after his recovery, Snake is sent back to the Soviet Union with the objective of killing The Boss in order to clear the U.S.'s name amidst a looming nuclear conflict. Operation Snake Eater commences, and Snake blasts his way through The Boss’ son, Ocelot, and her formidable and eccentric Cobra Unit en route to his former mentor. In a climactic battle, he reluctantly accomplishes his mission by killing The Boss with her own gun.

In the epilogue of Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake learns that The Boss’s “defection” was actually an undercover mission she was working on for the U.S. government. Her mission was to be killed by Snake in an effort to clear the United States of blame in a nuclear attack that was actually perpetrated by the villainous Colonel Volgin. Snake is heartbroken by the news, and the game ends with the image of him saluting and crying at her grave.