Game Over is a traditional message in video games which usually signals the game has ended with a negative outcome, and that the player has failed to satisfy the conditions of a complete game.

Usage in the Metal Gear series

The usage of "Game Over" varies throughout the Metal Gear series. Sometimes a Game Over is accompanied by a cutscene, such as when Solid Snake trips the laser beams in the Tank Hangar on Shadow Moses Island, getting caught by the Marines in the Tanker Holds, and when Naked Snake cannot finish the fight with The Boss in the 10 minute time limit.

The Metal Gear series is notorious for breaking the fourth wall, and has exploited the Game Over screen in several game events:

In Metal Gear Solid, there are special scenarios that occur when a player gets a Game Over:

  • If Snake kills Kenneth Baker before/during the boss fight with Revolver Ocelot or if Snake approaches Baker during the fight (causing the C4's to explode, killing the ArmsTech president), Ocelot will shout "You idiot!" to Snake.
  • If Meryl Silverburgh is killed by Snake, Colonel Campbell will call Snake and asks what happened to Meryl.
    • If Meryl dies in the Psycho Mantis fight, the latter will call Snake a stupid fool and laughs. Snake then kneels in front of Meryl's corpse, screams her name out in anguish, and the Game Over screen occurs.
  • If the player dies in the torture room, Liquid Snake will berate Ocelot for "doing it again" (i.e. accidentally killing Snake in the torture room) with Ocelot apologizing to his boss. This is the only time in the game where the player does not have an option to continue, and the only way to do so is to load the player's last save file.
    • If one pays attention carefully, Mei Ling will call Snake after the first Sniper Wolf boss fight and asks Snake that "wouldn't now be a good time to save [his] mission".
  • When the bomb explodes while still in Snake's inventory, or he gets caught in the lethal explosion upon throwing it away, Ocelot will laugh maniacally.
  • When time runs out in the fistfight between Solid Snake and Liquid atop REX, the whole Supply Route will explode with the latter maniacally laughing himself indicating that Liquid survived the ordeal.

Fission Mailed screen.

In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, there are also special Game Over scenarios:

  • During the Tanker chapter, if Snake gets spotted during the speech about Metal Gear RAY, he will be taken into custody, triggering an automatic Game Over.
  • In the Plant chapter, if Emma Emmerich dies during Raiden's mission to escort her, the game will instantly end. If she dies by enemy fire or drowning, Otacon (or Raiden) will cry out her name, but if Raiden killed her himself, his allies will be horrified and severely scold Raiden.

Also, a very bizarre occurence is that during a particular battle, the game will switch to the "Mission Failed" screen. However, the player will see the phrase "Fission Mailed" in the corner. In addition, the window on the screen that normally shows Raiden's dead body will instead have the gameplay occurring in it. In the Tanker chapter, if Snake dies, the Game Over screen similar to the original Metal Gear Solid appears with Otacon crying out for Snake to get up realizing that Snake is already dead. However, the fonts for "Continue" and "Exit" are different. Although not an actual game over, if the player calls Emma Emmerich while she's resisting accompanying Raiden due to fear of sea lice, she'll sometimes say "Bug!" in the same manner as the famous game over phrase.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater continues this tradition with a Fake Death Pill that, when taken, shows the Game Over screen, though the player can still access items and revive themselves. This can be used to inflict additional damage on unsuspecting enemies that now believe Naked Snake is dead, but can only be used a few times. This, however, does not work on The Boss, as she herself knows about the pill. Additionally, since Metal Gear Solid 3 is a prequel, the text of the Game Over screen switches from "Snake is Dead" to "Time Paradox". It can be cancelled by using a Revival Pill after the boss fight with The Sorrow, or after Snake uses the Fake Death Pill. The player must use the Revival Pill before the text switches to Time Paradox, otherwise it will cause actual death in-game. Certain game over conditions such as killing Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov, Ocelot, or EVA cause Roy Campbell to berate "Snake" for disrupting the timeline. However, for Sokolov's scenario, the Game Over screen's text is Mission Failed and Major Zero will call Snake to respond instead.

The Metal Gear games have a running meme where if the player reaches the Game Over screen, the player character's teammates will shout for them get up and continue their mission, normally to no avail (the character is dead anyway). The only exception is during the main encounter with The Sorrow. Naked Snake can call his teammates using his radio, only to hear them shout to him as though he had died. The Colonel will tell Raiden to turn the game console off at one point, for the reason that the mission is a failure when it is clearly not (a reference to the original Metal Gear). During a match in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Solid Snake can make Codec calls to one of his three support group members (Roy Campbell, Mei Ling, and Otacon), or Slippy Toad from the Star Fox series, and if he is knocked out during the conversation, they will shout for him to rise again. When fighting Luigi, in the middle of the conservation, Roy Campbell will start acting strangely. Snake's response is, "Colonel, snap out of it! Colonel! COOOOOOOOLONEEEEEEEEEELLLLLL!" Also, during a conversation about Pit (from the video game series Kid Icarus), Snake and Otacon will talk about Pit's trials and experiences equating to Game Overs and how Snake probably knows all about those situations. The audience's in-game cheer for Snake in a match parodies the Game Over screen from Metal Gear games (i.e. "Snake! Snake! SNAAAAAAAAKKKKEEEEE!!!").

If Snake dies in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, he can contact Rosemary and tell her about strange feelings he is having of "dying once already", followed by him telling her how he "died" in his mind (unless the player is killed in an explosion. In which case, it's Rosemary who tells Snake that she dreamed that he died in that manner). When Snake dies while fighting Screaming Mantis, strings appear attached to his body, as if he is a puppet to the player. If the player dies during Snake's return to Shadow Moses, the "Metal Gear Solid Main Theme" is played in the background. In the infamous Microwave Hallway sequence, when Snake dies, once the player moves from "Continue" to "Exit", the latter becomes "Exist" with Liquid Ocelot saying "Brother, it's not over, not yet!". If the player switches back to the former option, the latter will resume as "Exit" again. This happens again when Snake dies during his fight with Liquid Ocelot on Outer Haven. Largely because of the concept of death being a major part of the game, continuing after a game over will have the player optionally enacting various Codec calls where Snake tells Rosemary about having a dream/flashback about him dying in a specific manner (or in the case of dying in an explosion, Rosemary calling Snake to explain that she had a nightmare of him being killed in such a manner).

The Snake Tales story External Gazer put a unique spin on failing a mission. Due to parallel universes converging and mixing with the normal world caused by the Koppelthorn Engine, every time the player "restarts" or "quits" a game, an unfathomable number of parallel universes are destroyed in the process.

In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, besides the characters calling for Snake, there is a small chance of voice actors such as David Hayter, Tara Strong, Antony Del Rio, and Vanessa Marshall to hum the Game Over sound. Also, Snake will scream for Paz or Kazuhira Miller if the dates with them fail. Although technically not an actual Game Over, The Boss AI in the climax of Chapter 4 will say Jack's name in a similar manner to the Game Over sequence upon all the memory boards being pulled out mixed with static.

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, there are many special Game Over scenarios:

  • If Venom Snake kills a Diamond Dog soldier while on Mother Base by throwing them off the platform into the ocean, throwing them off a high enough ledge that kills them or running them over with one of the parked four-wheel drives lying around, a horrified Ocelot will shout "Boss, have you lost your mind?! Maybe you're not the Big Boss we hoped for after all." when the Game Over screen appears.
  • If Snake either deliberately kills or destroys a person or object he was assigned to extract safely or otherwise accidentally kills/destroys them due to their being caught in the crossfire of an enemy, Miller will angrily ask what he was thinking.
  • In any of the missions that has the [TOTAL STEALTH] handicap, if Snake is detected by an enemy and doesn't subdue them quickly, then the mission will instantly fail.
  • In Mission 1: Phantom Limbs, Miller can die in two ways; if Snake kills him himself, or if three in-game days pass before securing him. If Snake kills Miller himself, Ocelot ask Snake if he had a problem with Miller, before declaring the target dead and the mission failed. If three days pass, Miller will be unresponsive when the player reaches him and Snake will scream in anguish, with Ocelot stating that he died from blood loss due to his injuries. In both cases, the Game Over screen will read "Time Paradox" instead.
  • If Ishmael dies during the Prologue: Awakening mission, the game will end in failure on the spot, with the Game Over screen also reading "Time Paradox".
  • If a child soldier is killed at any point, the mission will automatically end in failure on the spot, with a furious Miller chewing Snake out for causing the death.
  • If Eli dies in Mission 23: The White Mamba, the mission will end in failure with a Time Paradox.
  • If Huey Emmerich dies in Mission 12: Hellbound, the mission will end in failure with a Time Paradox.
  • In Mission 29: Metallic Archaea, after dealing with the Skulls, if the helicopter with Ocelot in it is destroyed, then the mission will end in failure with a Time Paradox.
  • In Mission 6: Where Do the Bees Sleep?, if Snake allows the Honey Bee to be taken by the Soviets, then a cutscene shows them loading the Honey Bee inside of a helicopter and flying away, thus failing the mission and Miller disappointingly saying "We've lost the target. Mission failed."
  • In Mission 16: Traitors' Caravan and its extreme variant in Mission 37, if Snake doesn't extract the transport truck in time, then a cutscene shows it being loaded onto a riverboat as it drives down the Munene River, resulting in a mission failure and Miller saying "Damn it, too late. Mission failed." and "...Mission failed, Boss..."
  • In Mission 35: Cursed Legacy, if Snake fails to extract Code Talker's research materials in time, then a helicopter flies in and takes the container, resulting in an instant mission failure.

Behind the scenes

In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Master Miller tells Solid Snake to not picture the Game Over screen, but to instead visualize how happy he'll be once the mission is complete.

The Metal Gear-style Game Over phrase (screaming Snake's name three times, with the last one being drawn out) has been referenced in at least three other video games. The first was in Final Fantasy X-2, where Rikku will say a similar phrase to the above when fighting a recoil or a similar enemy. The second is in Metroid: Other M, where Adam Malkovich, if Samus dies, will say Samus' name in a similar style to the Metal Gear game over sequence. The third is in Batman: Arkham Knight, where Joker (or rather, a hallucination of him) will have his hand over his ear mirroring the Codec, and then say "Bats? Bats?! BAAATS!!"[1] Coincidentally, Tara Strong, who provided the voices of Elisa and Ursula and Paz Ortega Andrade in the Metal Gear series, provided the voice of Rikku in the first example.

The Game Over phrase has been referenced at least once in-universe: If the player overhears Miller talking in his sleep in the Extra Ops mission "Date Kaz" in Peace Walker, Miller will say "Snake...answer me, Snake...Snaaake!", although only the first four words are spoken audibly.[2]

The Fission Mailed screen from Metal Gear Solid 2 and the typical Game Over sequence were later placed onto Versus Battle, where they fought each other.

A Perfect Example of METAL GEAR Awesomeness
This kick-ass message appears in lieu of a traditional game over mission failed message during METAL GEAR SOLID 2: Sons of Liberty. Check it out!
―"Fission Mailed" on Versus Battle
The Classic Call of METAL GEAR Death
Hearing This Means You Must Try Harder
“Snake? Snake?! SNAAAAAAAAKE!” is one of the most memorable quotes in gaming history and a phrase we love throwing around the office
―“SNAAAAAAAAKE!” on Versus Battle


  1. ^
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010)
    Date Kaz
    Kazuhira Miller: (Asleep) Snake...answer me, Snake...Snaaake!
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