As far as video game scripts go, the Metal Gear franchise stands heads and shoulders above most of the medium’s overall quality. While some games tell better stories than others, the series consistently features well-written dialogue, well-plotted character arcs, and plenty of themes to keep events engaging.
While quotes like “do you think love can bloom, even on a battlefield?” and “kept you waiting, huh?” are a part of any given fan’s lexicon, there are a few key quotes that never get the spotlight shined on them despite being so memorable. The best Metal Gear quotes are the ones that go beyond just advancing the plot, instead opting to say something truly meaningful.
10 “The Nightmares? They Never Go Away, Snake.” (Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake)
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for the MSX is one of the most underrated entries in the franchise. It wasn’t Metal Gear Solid that widened the series’ scope, but Solid Snake. Where the first game was light on story, the second embraces Solid Snake and the world around him, leading to some truly stellar dialogue that holds up today.
Solid Snake’s relationship with Big Boss in particular is fleshed out and MG2 gives fans a better understanding of the latter’s character than most games in the series. Big Boss is haunted by his demons and he wants Snake to understand that he will be too.
9 “If You Ask Me, There’s No Happiness To Be Found In Death… No Peace, Either.” (Metal Gear Solid)
For the third entry in the franchise, Metal Gear Solid does a pretty good job at expressing the fact that Snake is a hardened and experienced soldier without bogging players down with too much backstory. It’s clear from the way he interacts with the world around him that he’s tired of life in general.
At the same time, Snake is a character with a nuanced approach to life and death which influences how determined he is to not only survive, but keep others alive. This approach to death gave Snake a layer of depth few video game protagonists had at the time.
8 “At Least I Always Fought For What I Believed In…” (Metal Gear Solid)
Present in the first three games, Gray Fox ends up playing a vital role in Snake’s life. In the first game, while the two don’t actually interact much, it’s implied by Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake that they built a bond during their brief time together. Come Metal Gear Solid 2 and Snake refers to Gray Fox as a true friend.
This makes Gray Fox’s parting words to Snake all the more impactful. Gray Fox’s philosophy ends up being the mantra Snake adopts for the rest of the series. Where he was once a soldier, he ends Metal Gear Solid a man looking to only fight for what he believes in.
7 “Building The Future And Keeping The Past Alive Are One In The Same Thing.” (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty)
One of Metal Gear's most prominent philosophies is the idea that history is cyclical. Metal Gear Solid 2 is more or less about that very concept, being a sequel that directly lifts elements and concepts from its immediate predecessor in order to comment on the nature of both sequels and the passage of time.
Snake’s final monologue to Raiden dissects the importance of recognizing humanity’s past in order to move humanity forward. Not just that, Snake posits that even if humanity doesn’t manage to survive on Earth for long, it’s important that everyone work together in order to leave some kind of mark.
6 “You’re Not A Snake And I’m Not An Ocelot. We’re Men, With Names.” (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Identity is a theme that pops up quite frequently throughout the Metal Gear franchise. It plays a major role in both Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 while also being invoked in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. For Ocelot, it isn’t enough to know of Naked Snake, he wants to know who he really is.
Which is important for Naked Snake’s character arc as well since he ultimately ends the game by becoming Big Boss. It’s a humanizing moment.
5 “What’s It Going To Be? Loyalty To Me, Or Loyalty To Your Mission?” (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Much of Naked Snake’s character arc in Metal Gear Solid 3 revolves around his attempts to discern his role in his mission. He’s loyal to The Boss individually, but his ties to Fox ensure that he also needs to be loyal to his mission. When it comes time to choose, Snake opts for the latter.
Ideologically, Big Boss remained loyal to The Boss for the rest of his life. Tragically, he also became loyal to a misinterpretation of The Boss’ will. He dedicates the rest of his life to a philosophy that his mentor never believed in.
4 “War Has Changed.” (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots may not have been the finale most fans wanted (never mind the fact that it didn’t even end the franchise), but it manages to kick off its plot with one of Metal Gear’s most iconic lines: “war has changed.” As Old Snake makes his way across a Middle Eastern battlefield, it’s clear that war has indeed changed.
Not just war, but the series as well. Metal Gear Solid 4 has its wacky moments, but the presentation is far more grounded and down to earth. Everything feels so much more visceral, showing off just how dystopian Metal Gear’s world ultimately becomes. I
3 “This Is Good, Isn’t It…?” (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots)
While it’s very debatable whether or not Big Boss’ return was actually a good note to end Metal Gear Solid 4 on, he does get one hell of a line: “this is good, isn’t it…?” Those are his parting words, and, while they don’t really resonate with his arc, they do leave quite the impact. It was good by the end of it all.
It’s an interesting note to leave the series on, even if it doesn’t quite close out the franchise’s overarching narrative. Inherently introspective, if nothing else, Big Boss’ dying words do stick out. It’s just a shame the game chose to revive him in such a cheap way so close to the finale.
2 “Do You, Too, Believe That Your Sacrifice Will Change The World?” (Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes)
Skull Face may not be particularly imposing in The Phantom Pain, but he’s downright horrifying throughout all of Ground Zeroes. His torturing of both Chico and Paz goes far above the personal atrocities other villains have accomplished.
The way he taunts Chico in Ground Zeroes is almost heartbreaking. Skull Face knows that Chico can’t do anything. He can’t even live up to the ideals his heroes died for. Skull Face more or less takes MGS4’s beautiful ending song and destroys it entirely, using it as a means to taunt not only Chico, but the player too.
1 “From Here On Out… You’re Big Boss.” (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
Controversial as it may be, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s plot twist is well thought out. The complete antithesis to Metal Gear Solid 2’s twist, The Phantom Pain wants players to understand that they genuinely are Big Boss, even as themselves. It’s Kojima’s final love letter to his audience, but it isn’t a particularly kind one.
Big Boss is not a good man by any means, but, at the same time, when someone spends so much time with a single character, that stops mattering. Big Boss took on a life of his own after MGS3, which is something The Phantom Pain candidly reflects on.