This article is about the U.S. government cloning project. You may be looking for the French terrorist group of the same name.
Les Enfants Terribles

Solid Snake (left) and Liquid Snake (right), were born from Les Enfants Terribles, a government project aimed at cloning Big Boss (center).

Les Enfants Terribles (French for The Terrible Children) was a United States Government project developed in the early 1970s, which aimed to produce clones of renowned soldier Big Boss. The project was sponsored by Zero, the central figure in the Patriots organization, and was carried out by Dr. Clark. The name of the project was presumably inspired by the novel and the 1950s film of the same name,[1] which was also used to refer to the clones themselves.


Due to his much lauded military career, Big Boss was made an icon and figurehead for the newly formed Patriots organization, a secret cabal that strove to increase its influence and power over the United States in the early 1970s. Fearing Big Boss' departure due to ideological differences, Zero required insurance that the group's icon remain, and that the genetic legacy of the so-called "Legendary Soldier" be safeguarded.

Since Big Boss' previous exposure to radiation at Bikini Atoll had rendered him infertile, Zero devised a plan to create somatic cell clones of the man. In 1971, he thus initiated Les Enfants Terribles, led by fellow Patriot member, Dr. Clark.[note 1] Dr. Clark, known by the codename Para-Medic, had considered the idea of cloning him since at least Operation Snake Eater nearly seven years earlier, informing Big Boss, at the time known as Naked Snake, about his genes being important to pass on in a conversation with him.

The Twin Snakes

Main articles: Solid Snake and Liquid Snake

In 1972, utilizing the latest in Analog Cloning technology and the Super Baby Method, an egg from Dr. Clark's Japanese assistant was fertilized with Big Boss' DNA and transferred to the womb of EVA, who volunteered to be the surrogate mother. This success was the result of multiple attempts, with the project only having borne fruit after dozens of failures.[2] Of the eight embryos created from the fertilized egg, six were intentionally aborted, to promote stronger growth in the remaining two.[3]

Young Twin Snakes

David and Eli, as infants.

Further genetic modification was carried out so that one clone would express each of Big Boss' dominant genes, while the other would express his recessive genes. Because of their respective gene expressions, the twins had a genetic difference of .43%,[4] a small enough difference to fool nearly all DNA identification procedures exempting those that used precise scanning.[5] Because of the mitochondrial DNA inherited from Dr. Clark's assistant, the clones were also slightly different from Big Boss as well.

Nine months later, EVA gave birth to the so-called "Twin Snakes": the clone considered to be genetically "superior", Eli, would later be known as Liquid Snake, while the "inferior" clone, David, would be known as Solid Snake.[6]

When Big Boss learned of the clones' creation, he left the Patriots in disgust. Because of this, Zero went into hiding, and renamed both himself and his organization as "Cipher." By 1974, Cipher considered the Twin Snakes an insurance policy against Big Boss, of which Kazuhira Miller was made aware.

In 1984, Big Boss learned from Ocelot that David had never left the U.S., while Eli spent his early years in the UK, before escaping Zero's care and disappearing in Africa, 1979.[7] Big Boss did not regard them as his sons, but believed that they should be treated "like a human being, just another person."

Despite being considered the superior one of the Twin Snakes, Liquid was led to believe that the reverse was true, as a result of Big Boss' perceived influence.[note 2] When the two met for the first time as adults, Liquid referred to them as the "Brother of Light" and the "Brother of Dark." In spite of his supposed genetic shortcomings, it was Solid Snake who defeated both Big Boss and Liquid Snake.

The Third Son

Main article: Solidus Snake
President Sears

George Sears, a.k.a. Solidus Snake, was the third survivor of Les Enfants Terribles.

Another clone of Big Boss was later created, this time without modification to dominant/recessive gene expression, thus producing a "perfect clone." This clone would later be known as Solidus Snake (meaning neither solid nor liquid), whom the Patriots would consider a "perfectly balanced masterpiece."

Solidus was ultimately entrusted with the U.S. Presidency, under the name George Sears, serving the Patriots as a puppet ruler of the country as the 43rd President. However, like Big Boss, he rebelled against the Patriots, was removed from office, and went underground. 


The project was abandoned in 1976. ATGC dismantled the project and closed their account with DARPA. This also led to Liquid being taken to Great Britain at age 4.[8] Later in 2005, Jim Houseman remarked that the creation of Solid and Liquid Snake was an embarrassment from the 1970s and that they were the "country's dirty little secret."[9]

Accelerated aging and sterility

Each clone had accelerated aging (or Werner Syndrome) written into their genes in order to provide a fail-safe against the clones' genetic information falling into enemy hands, or if the clones turned against the Patriots under their own volition. Despite being preceded by his brothers,[10] Solidus appeared more aged than the other two clones in his later life.

All three clones also lacked the ability to reproduce, which according to Solidus, had been "conveniently" written into the clones' DNA. It is this that drove Solidus to leave behind a lasting legacy to the world, due to his forthcoming death from advanced aging. All three clones also had terminator genes so that they could not be cloned.


Due to the nature of their conception and development, the Les Enfants Terribles children possessed enhanced natural abilities and durability, surviving and withstanding physical and mental situations that would result in an average human's death or mental breaking. In addition, Ocelot implied that the Les Enfants Terribles project also resulted in the children having a heightened and natural aptitude with piloting vehicles.[11]

Related projects

Main article: Next-Generation Special Forces

During the 1990s and early 2000s, the U.S. Government used Big Boss' DNA for gene therapy experiments to create more able soldiers. Instead of using the analog cloning method of Les Enfants Terribles, adult test subjects had their own "soldier genes" manipulated to mimic those of Big Boss, using gene therapy techniques referred to as "digital" cloning. The test subjects were dubbed "Genome Soldiers" and were later organized into the Next-Generation Special Forces, under FOXHOUND.

Early gene therapy experiments during the Gulf War resulted in test subjects suffering from various psychological side effects, which were later attributed to Gulf War Syndrome, and their children being born with various deformities (the so-called "Gulf War Babies"). The Department of Defense covered up these side effects as being caused by a combination of exposure to depleted uranium shells from anti-tank rounds, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anti-sarin injections.

Due to their genetic similarities to the Les Enfants Terribles children, Liquid saw the various gene therapy subjects as his "brothers and sisters."[12]

Unconfirmed history

The following information has been detailed in official Konami-licensed media, written by various external authors. Its status in the Metal Gear canon is unconfirmed.[?]

By 1972, the project had previously produced eight batches of clones which had resulted in failure, though Dr. Clark succeeded in correcting the genetic code in the ninth batch, from which Liquid and Solid Snake were produced. The twins were born in a special underground testing facility in the Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. Present at the birth was the U.S. President, accompanied by General Houseman. The President was incredibly nervous about the project, as he had only inherited the project from his predecessor, as opposed to initiating it. Dr. Clark assured him that there was nothing to worry about, since the earlier problems had been corrected, and she had made sure that the surrogate mother possessed certain genetic "latches" that would connect with those of Big Boss.

Dr. Clark further explained that Big Boss was unaware that the U.S. Government possessed so many of his cells, since they were taken from him when he was in surgery after suffering injures in the war. Also, Big Boss was not allowed to know about the project, no matter the outcome, though Dr. Clark theorized that he probably already knew, blaming the terrible security the government had. Although one of the clones would express more dominant soldier genes than the other, she stated to the President that this might not necessarily affect which one would become "better."

Before leaving to assist in the delivery of the babies, the President asked Dr. Clark if he could choose which one the U.S. Government kept, and demanded that they be given the "dominant" one. Dr. Clark reminded him that there was no guarantee if one would be stronger than the other. Dr. Clark later thought about what would become of Big Boss' remaining cells, due to the unexpected surplus that they received due to the twins' birth. She then decided that, if the need arose, they could create another clone of the legendary soldier.

Another codename for the Les Enfants Terribles project was the "Eve Project", and the U.S. military deemed the project necessary, despite its inhuman nature, due to the events of the Cold War.[13]

Behind the scenes

The Les Enfants Terribles project was first mentioned in Metal Gear Solid. According to Hideo Kojima, he created the plot point as an excuse for Solid Snake to fight a more difficult enemy while at the same time retaining his veteran status from the MSX2 games. This eventually led Kojima to feel that by creating that plot point, he "cheated", when discussing Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.[14] In addition, in a series of tweets in May 2014, Kojima also implied that he wouldn't have considered making Snake a clone if he thought ahead about there being more games after Metal Gear Solid, as well as splitting Liquid from Snake rather than killing Liquid off due to the character being well received.[15] The concept of the project to create perfect people via cloning, more specifically the portion relating to The Twin Snakes Solid and Liquid Snake and their being perceived to have gotten the superior and inferior genes, respectively, was a reference to the premise of the comedy film Twins starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, who were created as part of a science experiment to create perfect children, with Schwarzenegger's character of Julius Benedict getting all the good genes and Danny DeVito's character of Vincent Benedict getting the bad genes.[16]

The names of the three Snakes from this project as well as their status refers to the state of matter and the amount of energy molecules possess in that state. As solids, they possess the least amount of energy, a reference to how Solid Snake is the inferior clone. Liquids possess more kinetic energy, referencing how Liquid was the superior clone. Solidus was originally meant to be named "Gas Snake", but Hideo Kojima did not find that name very appealing. This was later changed to Solidus since Solidus Snake had the perfect balance between Big Boss' dominant genes and recessive genes, making him the "transition" state between Solid and Liquid because Solidus is the name of the transition state between solid and liquid.

In the English version of Metal Gear Solid, Liquid states that Big Boss was in a coma when the project commenced.[17] In the Japanese version, it was mentioned that he was sterile instead.[18] Despite featuring re-recorded English dialogue and minor alterations to the previous translation, the backstory of Big Boss being in a coma was retained in the remake, The Twin Snakes.[19]

"Les Enfants Terribles" had previously been used in the MSX2 manual of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake as the name of the French terrorist group to which the mercenary Running Man formerly belonged. The Metal Gear Solid 4 Database implies that the name of both the project and the terrorist group were inspired by Jean Cocteau's Les Enfants Terribles.[20]

In the non-canon game Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, Snake, in an optional Codec conversation, tells Chris Jenner that Big Boss was his father, but he does not elaborate on whether it was due to the Les Enfants Terribles project.[21]

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was the first game to reveal that the clones of Les Enfants Terribles age at an accelerated rate, given Liquid Ocelot's comments to Snake aboard the USS Discovery, and Solidus' advanced age.[22] It was implied that this was a side effect of cloning Big Boss while he was in his advanced years. When scientists in real life created Dolly the sheep through cloning, Dolly died prematurely at the age of 6.5 years. It has been speculated that a contributing factor to Dolly's death was that she was born with the same genetic age as the sheep from which she was cloned, based on her telomeres being short, which is typically a result of the ageing process. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the shortened telomeres are instead revealed to be an intentional design, in addition to other mutations.[23] Solidus Snake had also earlier alluded to the clones being unable to reproduce in Metal Gear Solid 2, and implied that their inability to reproduce may have intentionally been engineered,[24] something that Naomi later confirmed in Metal Gear Solid 4.[23]

Three types of snake can be located in Metal Gear Solid 3, during the fight against The Boss in Rokovoj Bereg. The three individual snakes are called Liquid, Solid, and Solidus. Their skin complexion and eye color suggests that the three snakes are albinos.

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, when Snake fights another player also using Snake, the player can initiate a Codec conversation with Colonel Campbell, who starts wondering, "Has the Les Enfants Terribles project really come this far?" Snake explains that his doppelgänger has more than physical and genetic appearances that make them alike, it is also the fact that he has his fighting style as well, although it's not exact.

The Les Enfants Terribles project was given an indirect allusion in the secret phone call in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. In the Japanese version, Miller explicitly mentions that the Les Enfants Terribles clones were two years old at the time of the call, while in the overseas versions, he simply says "two already?", leaving it ambiguous as to whether he was stating the clones' age or how many clones were created thus far.

Huey suspected "The Weapon to Surpass Metal Gear" had something to do with this project. The suspicions were supported by the fact Solid Snake had repeatedly destroyed Metal Gears throughout his life.


  1. ^ In the English version of Metal Gear Solid, Liquid Snake tells Solid Snake that Big Boss was in a coma when the Les Enfants Terribles project took place. In the Japanese version, it's simply stated that Big Boss was left sterile due to a combat injury.
  2. ^ In the original PlayStation version of Metal Gear Solid, Liquid states that "[Big Boss] always told me I was inferior" during his speech atop Metal Gear REX. This was changed in The Twin Snakes to have Liquid state that Big Boss chose him, knowingly to be the inferior one.


  1. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4 Database ("Les Enfants Terribles"), Kojima Productions (2008).
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima Productions (2008).
    Big Mama: The project was led by Dr. Clark, known at the time as Para-Medic. After dozens of failures, they finally - miraculously... Succeeded in producing a fertilized egg. The egg used in the successful in vitro fertilization came from Dr. Clark's assistant... A healthy Japanese woman.
  3. ^ Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Liquid Snake: They fertilized an egg with one of father's cells, and then let it divide into eight clone babies. Then they transferred the clones to someone's uterus and later intentionally aborted six of the fetuses to encourage strong fetal growth... You and I were originally octuplets.
  4. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima Productions (2008).
    This is shown on a monitor when Naomi Hunter is explaining to Otacon the differences between Snake, Liquid, and Big Boss, as well as how it factored into the SOP System's genetic key.
  5. ^ This is implied with the call to Rosemary just before infiltrating the Shell 1 Core, where she confirmed through DNA testing that Solid Snake had indeed died during the Tanker Incident despite his missing an arm, with Otacon later revealing the "corpse" they tested DNA for was actually Liquid's corpse, and that it worked because they were similar to the genetic level, as well as the revelation that they weren't actually 100% similar in genetic coding.
  6. ^ Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Revolver Ocelot: "Yes. The inferior one was the winner after all. ...That's right. Until the very end, Liquid thought he was the inferior one."
  7. ^ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (ending timeline), Kojima Productions (2015).
    1979: Eli escapes his handlers in Africa and disappears.
  8. ^ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (ending timeline), Kojima Productions (2015).
    1976: The "Les Enfants Terribles" project is abandoned. Eli is taken to Great Britain.
  9. ^ Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Jim Houseman: You two are an embarrassment from the 1970's. ...our country's dirty little secret. You can't be allowed to live.
  10. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    James Johnson: He was the third Snake, preceded by Solid and Liquid... a survivor of the Les Enfants Terrible project.
  11. ^ Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Revolver Ocelot: You're the boss's brother, all right. Your brother ...he's an amazing man. Who else could shoot down two F-16s with a chopper. The "les enfant terribles" project was not a total failure.
  12. ^ Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Liquid Snake: That’s right... The Genome Soldiers that you’ve [Solid Snake] been killing are our brothers, with the same genes as ours. // Solid Snake: The Genome Soldiers!? Liquid: That's right. They are our brothers, created artificially through the alignment of nucleotides to mimic our father's genes. They too are the product of numerous sacrifices. // [...] Snake: So then... the so called Gulf War Babies that have been reported by Gulf War veterans are... // Liquid: Yes... They too our are brothers and sisters.
  13. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Official Missions Handbook, Millenium Books (1998).
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Metal Gear Solid (English version), Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Liquid Snake: But father was wounded in combat and already in a coma when they brought him in. So they created us from his cells... with a combination of 20th century analog cloning and the Super Baby Method.
  18. ^ Metal Gear Solid (Japanese version), Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
    Liquid Snake: だが親父は戦場で負傷?すでに不能者だった?だから俺達は親父の体細胞を使って造られた。前世紀のアナログクローン技術とスーパーベイビー法によって。[But an injury father sustained in combat left him sterile. So they created us from his cells... with a combination of 20th century analog cloning and the Super Baby Method.]
  19. ^ Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Liquid Snake: There's a killer inside you... You don't have to deny it. We were created to be that way. // Solid Snake: Created? // Liquid: Les enfants terribles...the terrible children. That's what the project was called. It started in the 1970s. Their plan was to artificially create the most powerful soldier possible. The person that they chose as the model was the man known then as the greatest living soldier in the world... // Snake: Big Boss... // Liquid: But...father was wounded in combat and already in coma when they brought him in. So they created us from his cells... with a combination of 20th-century analog cloning and the Super Baby Method.
  20. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4 Database ("Running Man"), Kojima Productions (2008). [1]
  21. ^ Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2000).
    Chris Jenner: Snake.... What really happened in Outer Heaven? // Snake: ........ Seven years ago, I....killed my own father here. // Chris: What.....!? // Snake: Big Boss, the Commander of Outer Heaven, was my....father. // Chris: ....Your father? // Snake: I didn't know anything about it.... I fought only to complete the mission -- and killed him to do it.
  22. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    Liquid Ocelot: The price of physical prodigy! A few more years and you'll be another dead clone of the old man! Our raw materials are vintage, brother--Big Boss was in his late fifties [sic] when they created his copies.
  23. ^ a b Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima Productions (2008).
    Solid Snake: So does the aging have something to do with FOXDIE, too? // Naomi Hunter: No. Your telomeres were intentionally set up to be short, regardless of the age of the original. One of the genes that inhibit reproduction and aging - the Klotho gene - was intentionally mutated as well. But more importantly, your chromosomes, like Liquid's... Were provided with terminator genes to prevent them from making copies.
  24. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    Solidus Snake: They call my brothers and me ‘Les Enfants Terribles’ –- cloned from our father with the ability to reproduce conveniently engineered out.


See also

External links

  • YouTube - The ending monologue of Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
  • YouTube - The Codec dialogue between Snake and Colonel Campbell in the Snake vs. Snake fight (Super Smash Bros. Brawl).
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