The Sorrow was the "Spirit Medium Soldier" of the Cobra Unit. Although he had no actual unique combat abilities like the other Cobras, The Sorrow was gifted with the powers of a medium. He was able to summon the dead and assume their combat abilities by bringing their spirits into himself. Communicating with dead soldiers also gave him several advantages during a battle, such as learning of enemy positions. Like the other Cobras, his codename reflected the emotion he brought to the battlefield.
Early life and career
The Sorrow was born sometime during the early 1900s to early 1910s. The Sorrow and The Boss fought together as part of the Cobra Unit during World War II and participated in the Allied landing at Normandy in 1944. During D-Day, The Boss was pregnant with her and The Sorrow's child and she gave birth to their son, who was then taken from them by agents of the Philosophers.
After the war, The Sorrow worked for the Soviet Union. He also converted a double agent planted in the Soviet Union by The Boss over to their side and gave fake analysis of the schematics of one of the Sputnik models. The Sorrow was unaware that The Boss was the one who planted the sleeper agent in the first place. After The Boss' failure in the Mercury Mission, The Sorrow and The Boss encountered each other in Tselinoyarsk in 1962. The Sorrow was ultimately killed by The Boss, at his own request, in order to ensure the safety of their son, whom the Philosophers had threatened to kill if both were to survive. Before he died, The Sorrow told The Boss that "the spirit of the warrior [would] always be with [her]." He was then killed by a bullet to the left eye that shattered his glasses. His son would later become a major in GRU, codenamed Ocelot.
In September 1964, during the Virtuous Mission, the surviving Cobras were reunited with The Boss, who had returned to Tselinoyarsk. The unit, under the employ of GRU colonel Volgin, were there to capture Soviet rocket scientist Nikolai Sokolov, whom CIA agent Naked Snake, was attempting to extract himself. The Boss' presence attracted the attention of The Sorrow's spirit, which had remained in Tselinoyarsk since his death. His spirit accompanied the rest of the Cobras, without their knowledge, as they made off with their prize, after Snake was thrown from the Dolinovodno bridge by The Boss. The Sorrow's remains were later seen by an injured Snake, before his rescue from Tselinoyarsk, located on the riverbank on which he had washed up.
The ghost of The Sorrow appeared to Naked Snake on several occasions, during the latter's return to Tselinoyarsk in Operation Snake Eater. As he did so, he often cried blood and was accompanied by rain falling from the sky. The Sorrow observed Snake during the events of his mission, and occasionally offered helpful hints, such as a key radio frequency. The Fury also mentioned joining The Sorrow in death, after being defeated by Snake in battle, realizing that The Boss would be the only Cobra left.
When Snake met The Sorrow in the spiritual realm, after jumping from a waterfall, he was forced to walk down a seemingly endless river, so that he would "feel the sorrow of those whose lives he had ended." As such, The Sorrow made Snake face the spirits of every single person he had killed during his mission in Tselinoyarsk, including those of the fallen Cobra Unit members. During this time, The Sorrow exclaimed, "You will all be killed by your sons," and, "You... no your sons, and your son's sons." He also told Snake that "light and darkness" dwelled within him, referring to the eventual conception of Solid and Liquid Snake. However, he did not intend for Snake to stay forever, as evidenced by his comments when Snake encountered The Sorrow's corpse near the end of the spiritual walk. The Sorrow also projected images into Snake's mind with an attack, concerning the former's past and his death. He also left Snake with his last memory before his death before sending him back to the living plane of existence. In addition, he commented that Naked Snake was a "part of his sorrow," a statement that continued to haunt Snake after awakening. He reluctantly informed his C.O., Major Zero, after the latter promised to believe whatever he had to say. However, Snake grew irritated when Zero subsequently spoke to colleague Para-Medic within earshot, regarding his suspicion that Snake may be losing his mind.
The Sorrow later assisted Snake in Groznyj Grad by indicating how much time he had left before C3 explosives destroyed the Shagohod's hangar. As with previous thunderstorms, he was also present when Colonel Volgin was struck by a bolt of lightning, floating behind Snake's ally EVA and smiling. During this time, he also ended up doing something to Volgin's comatose body, which would have serious repercussions later on.
The Sorrow was last seen by Naked Snake towards the end of Operation Snake Eater, standing beside the ghost of The Boss in Rokovoj Bereg, reunited and vanishing together.
In 2014, The Sorrow's likeness made an appearance as one of Screaming Mantis's puppets. His puppet gave Screaming Mantis control over dead Haven Troopers in the vicinity. After Screaming Mantis was defeated by Solid Snake, the spirit of Psycho Mantis appeared to taunt his former enemy. However, a mysterious force threw him back to the spirit realm, followed by an appearance by The Sorrow, uttering the last words he had said as a human, from The Boss to Snake: "The spirit of the warrior... [would] always be with you."
Personality and traits
The Sorrow felt much sadness for the death brought about by warfare, earning him his codename within the Cobra Unit. However, despite this, the ghost of The Sorrow was always smiling whenever Naked Snake saw him, with not one occasion where there was a frown upon his face. Conversely, The Boss, a.k.a. The Joy, rarely smiled during the events of the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater.
The Sorrow carried an M1911A1 in a U.S. M7 shoulder holster. Like the other Cobras, The Sorrow would carry a microbomb during top secret missions in enemy territory, which would detonate upon his death. Ultimately, however, he and The Boss, were the only members whose bodies were not destroyed by these bombs following their deaths.
The Sorrow was gifted with the use of ESP and precognition, as well as having medium powers. It was said that he could determine the outcome of the battle and strategize what would most likely happen next simply by communicating with the dead. After his death, he could summon angry spirits, as well as return them to the other side. He could make himself only seen by certain people and project images, in the shape of a transparent tablet or screen, with radio frequency coordinates for Snake to look for, as well as the digital projections, such as the countdown of Naked Snake's C3 timed bomb, and could show Snake how much time he had to escape.
Following his death, and the return of The Boss to Tselinoyarsk, the spirit of The Sorrow would often appear when it rained, possibly having summoned it himself. In fact, The Boss saw the rain as blood during the Virtuous Mission and stated that The Sorrow was crying when this rain happened. His spirit would also cry blood from his left eye, in reference to his fatal injury. When appearing in the mortal plane of existence, his spirit sometimes emits glowing red eyes.
Ironically, The Sorrow is usually always seen with a sardonic smile on his face, and seems somewhat greatly amused by the various situations he often observes Snake embroiled in. This is in stark contrast to his compatriot and lover The Boss, who despite being codenamed The Joy, is shown as very methodical and austere, and rarely smiles.
Behind the scenes
The Sorrow (ザ・ソロー Za Sorō?) appears as a boss character in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He is voiced by Yukitoshi Hori in the Japanese version, who had previously portrayed Vulcan Raven in Metal Gear Solid; another spirit medium with sixth sense traits. Hideo Kojima indicated in his commentary for Metal Gear Solid 3 that he based The Sorrow on American actor, writer, and director Ed Harris. Defeating The Sorrow in the HD version will unlock the achievement/trophy "River of Pain."
The revelation of Revolver Ocelot's parentage in Metal Gear Solid 3 implied that Ocelot had inherited a form of spirit medium powers from The Sorrow, his father, in order to explain how Liquid Snake's spirit was able to take control of his body. However, this explanation was disregarded in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, along with the supernatural aspects of Ocelot's possession. The Sorrow also makes a brief cameo in Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinée, where he expresses disappointment in Ocelot regarding his lack of control over Liquid's spirit.
According to Kojima, the river at which Snake encounters The Sorrow is inspired by the Sanzu-no-kawa (River of Three Crossings), which is a Japanese Buddhist concept of the afterlife. The Sanzu-no-kawa was split into three paths depending on the life the person had lived. In addition, he also planned to have The Sorrow quote the NOSE railway stops (a frequent occurrence in the Metal Gear series), as well as utter random words such as adenine, guanine, and thymine. However, it was cut because there were far too many sound elements in the battle as it was. Consequentially, it also resulted in them sacrificing the chance to appear in the Kobe newspaper.
In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the specific circumstances behind The Sorrow's assassination by The Boss is elaborated on. A character portrait, used to represent a random recruit into the Militaires Sans Frontières, is based on The Sorrow's appearance.
- The Sorrow, although not actually seen, makes a vocal appearance in the Japanese version if Snake attempts to contact The Boss at Rassvet, during the Virtuous Mission.
- The Sorrow's skeleton can be seen during a secret R1 scene after Snake is thrown off of the Dolinovodno bridge, after Snake bandages himself. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, if the free camera is on, the player can also see the skeleton by rotating the camera before going into the menu to cure Snake's wounds. Also this skeleton appears under The Sorrow's ghost at the end of the river when he says "Go back to your own world."
- When Volgin is torturing Snake in the interrogation chamber in Metal Gear Solid 3, pressing the R1 button when the screen prompts the action causes Snake to see The Sorrow floating behind The Boss, holding up a piece of cardboard with the digits 144.75 scribbled on it. This radio frequency can later be used to open Snake's cell door when he gets sealed in the holding block. Even if the player failed to see this digit, it can be viewed in another hidden R1 scene where Snake throws food out to the guard who eventually gives in to Snake's demands. He will show Snake a photo with the same frequency on the back of it.
- During the conversation with Volgin, The Boss, and EVA in the Shagohod's hangar The Sorrow can be seen several times behind Volgin holding a digital clock showing the time until the C3 Snake planted blows up.
- After Volgin dies, when EVA is about to hug Snake, holding R1 will allow the player to see The Sorrow floating behind her and smiling.
- After The Boss is defeated, holding R1 and looking to the left allows the player to see both The Sorrow and The Boss's ghosts.
- In Metal Gear Solid 4, there is a secret L1 scene after defeating Screaming Mantis and Psycho Mantis appears, and then disappears again is when The Sorrow is heard saying, "The spirit of the warrior will always be with you." The Sorrow will be seen floating on the second floor, before dissipating. To see this, the player must press L1 and look to the top left-hand side corner.
- During the encounter with The Sorrow, all radio support personnel will scream Snake's name if the player tries to contact them, similar to the Game Over screen that occurs if Snake dies. This includes Para-Medic, although the player can still save the game.
- During the fight with The Sorrow, if the player has a CalorieMate and calls EVA, the CalorieMate conversation will take place instead of EVA screaming Snake's name.
- During The Sorrow experience, Naked Snake will obtain all of his weapons and equipment (besides camo and food) prior to his capture, although the weapons are useless during the battle, since neither The Sorrow nor the dead spirits can be wounded. However, after the fight, Snake will no longer have this equipment (except for the equipment he obtained after his capture) until he meets EVA behind the waterfall when she returns it to him.
- Even if Snake drains the Cobra Unit's stamina in battle, their ghosts will still appear when Snake has his experience with The Sorrow. This is due to the unit's microbombs going off even in non-lethal kills. The Cobra Unit will serve to indicate how many more waves of spirits Snake has to encounter.
- If the player saves the game during the fight with The Sorrow, the location will be listed as "?"
- Because of the nature of his boss fight, The Sorrow is one of only two bosses (the other being The End) where the player can get his camouflage without defeating him non-lethally in Metal Gear Solid 3. If the player makes it to the end of The Sorrow's river and uses the revival pill, when Snake gets his gear back, he will have obtained the Spirit camouflage, which allows Snake to drain stamina using the CQC choke. It will also eliminate footstep noise. In an optional radio conversation with Sigint, Snake says that it was a "gift" from The Sorrow.
- How long the battle will last and the number of ghosts that Snake has to endure depends on how many soldiers are killed. At the absolute minimum, 4 can be faced (as the Cobra Unit member's ghosts will end up being faced regardless of whether Snake defeated them lethally or non-lethally). This means that if the player killed many soldiers, the fight will be more difficult.
- If the player kills soldiers without the use of a lethal weapon, such as dropping their unconscious bodies in water, at electric fences, or in quicksands, or throwing poisonous animals or food to poison and kill them, etc., the soldiers will not appear during the encounter with The Sorrow.
- Uniquely, The Sorrow will start the battle with his health readout fully drained, with no way to affect it. This somewhat unsettling effect makes perfect sense, as of course The Sorrow is 𝘢𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺 dead, long before the encounter.
The Sorrow appeared in the Versus Battle page on the series official site, first against The Pain, and later against Psycho Mantis.
ESP, Talks to Dead, Takes Their Skills
Burdened by Sadness for the Lost
So noble was the “Spirit Medium Solider” that he asked The Boss, the mother of his child, to kill him in order to ensure the safety of their son
METAL GEAR SOLID: THE LEGACY COLLECTION"
- ―The Sorrow's bio on Versus Battle; during his fight against The Pain
Cobra Unit Commander & Channeler of the Dead
Philosopher Kidnapping of His Son
Naked Snake last glimpsed The Sorrow at the conclusion of Operation Snake Eater materializing beside The Boss’s ghost, reunited again
METAL GEAR SOLID: THE LEGACY COLLECTION"
- ―The Sorrow's bio on Versus Battle; during his fight against Psycho Mantis
The Sorrow, alongside his comrades in the Cobra Unit, also appeared in the Ground Zeroes app, acting as officer characters in the Mother Base Developer. The Sorrow specifically is unlocked by obtaining 50k+ points on hard Classified Intel Acquisition while connected to the app.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (mentioned)
Notes and references
- ^ a b c Metal Gear Solid 3 voice casting sheet 
- ^ a b This is explained in a commentary on Metal Gear Solid 3 by director Hideo Kojima. 
- ^ This is especially evident in the scene when The Boss defects during a R-button prompt.
- ^ Shinkawa, Y. & Wood, A. (2011), Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Official Art Works, Japan: Square Enix, ISBN 978-4-7575-3115-4
- ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004)
Naked Snake: "ボス！？ (Boss!?)" // Voice (The Sorrow): "悲しい…悲しい… (Sorrow... Sorrow...)" // Snake: "？？？ (???)"