Sons of the Dads
The Metal Gear franchise is full of dads. This is perhaps unsurprising considering that the two most important characters in the series are father and son, but it’s unusual to see such a wide variety of dadness on display, ranging from biological children to adopted ones to clones. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the idea of fatherhood is core to Metal Gear.
But how do these dads measure up? There are only two metrics here that count. Firstly, are they good father figures? Does their presence actually benefit the lives of their children, or is it an active detriment? And secondly, are they daddy? The exact parameters of what makes someone daddy can be hard to pin down, but much like pornography, you know it when you see it.
Big Boss, aka Naked Snake, aka John, aka about twenty other things, could be called the original Metal Gear Dad—a large part of the series revolves around his rivalry with his son Solid Snake. That said, in many ways he is perhaps the least dadly father of the series. Solid Snake, Liquid Snake, and Solidus Snake are all cloned from his DNA by the Patriots as part of the project Les Enfants Terrible, making him the genetic father of all three, as well as dozens of failed clones and soldiers treated with his genes—however, he wasn’t even aware of this until much later.
As far as his actual interactions with his “sons,” he constantly tells Liquid Snake that he is the “inferior” clone, possessing his recessive genes while Solid possesses the dominant ones—it’s actually the other way around—leading to Liquid developing an intense hatred of him. And while he does train Solid Snake after he joins Big Boss’ military group FOXHOUND, he later tries to actively sabotage a mission he was supposed to be acting as support for. Not exactly great parenting.
Immediately before his death he reunites with Solid one last time so they can make peace with each other, but it’s hard to say that makes up for everything. He’s the kind of deadbeat dad who shows up for the first time in ten years with a bunch of presents, and they’re nice presents, but it’s a little annoying that he thinks things are just going to be fine now.
But while Big Boss might not be much of a dad, he’s a hell of a daddy. A legendary super-soldier with an eye patch and a beard who smokes cigars? Yes please. The fact that he’s a dork who still believes in Santa might detract from his image a bit, but it’s cute as hell, so who cares? Who wouldn’t love to get their hands on Big Boss’ naked snake?
Solid Snake and Otacon
It makes the most sense to discuss Solid Snake—aka Dave—and Otacon—aka Hal Emmerich—together, since they’re adoptive fathers to the same child. Sunny Emmerich is taken by the Patriots shortly after her birth and used as a hostage to manipulate her mother, the soldier Olga Gurlukovich. She’s later rescued from them by Raiden and raised by Snake and Otacon aboard their transport aircraft, where they live on military rations and eggs while on the run from the US government. Maybe not the ideal circumstances, but the three of them are genuinely attached to each other—Snake spends his last years traveling the world with them, and Otacon uses his connections to get Sunny a position at an aerospace firm despite her young age. Sometimes a family can be two war criminals who have no idea how to take care of themselves and their genius daughter.
So Solid and Otacon are both pretty good dads, but how are they as daddies? Well, Otacon’s kind of an awkward nerd—especially in his first appearance—but by the time he adopts Sunny he’s definitely in DILF territory. He’s got commitment issues because women who get involved with him tend to die, but that wouldn’t stop him from being a great one-night-stand. As for Solid Snake—who ages more quickly due to being a clone—it all depends on how you feel about grandpas with brush mustaches. He’d treat you right though, and he’s got all the same appeal as his father, so you could say he’s a… silver fox.
Huey Emmerich is the father of Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, and he does a very, very bad job of it. When Hal is still extremely young, Huey tries to use him as a test pilot for the mecha he’s constructing, as the cockpit is too small for an adult pilot. When his mother opposes this—sending Hal to the US to keep him safe—Huey locks her in an airtight chamber until she suffocates. It only gets worse. In the intervening years between Hal being sent to the US and his reuniting with his father, Huey had married a woman named Julie who had a daughter, Emma.
After Hal moves in with them, Julie and Hal become sexually involved—though considering that Hal is underage and Julie’s stepson, “sexual abuse” might be more accurate—and when Huey finds out, he commits suicide by drowning himself in their pool. As though this wasn’t bad enough, he attempts to take Emma with him, which she only narrowly survives. This thoroughly traumatizes both his son and his stepdaughter, cementing Huey’s position as the worst dad in the Metal Gear franchise. He’s the classic shitty dad taken to its logical extreme and beyond, where every attempt to engage with his children just ends in corpses.
Is he daddy? Well, he’s not bad looking, but he’s a coward and a murderer, and also he pisses himself at one point, so—no he is not.
There are a few more fathers in the series—Raiden and Colonel Miller, namely—but their fathering isn’t given enough attention to get a good read on, and Raiden is a twink which automatically disqualifies him from being daddy. That’s just how it is, I don’t make the rules.
In any case, what little we do know matches up with the general trend of Metal Gear parenting—the less related a father is to his child, the better the relationship. Huey does incredible damage to his biological son Hal, but Big Boss at least tries to make amends with his genetic clone Solid Snake, and Snake and Otacon are caring dads to their adopted daughter. It makes sense for a series that puts such weight on overcoming the destiny of genetics—the closest and healthiest relationships are those that are freely chosen without the obligation of blood ties.
But what about daddies? Well, it looks like the gruff-but-caring military types take the day here, to absolutely no one’s surprise. The dark horse here is Otacon—no one could have guessed he’d shape up so nicely from his legendary first appearance, where he pisses himself and says the ninja trying to kill him is “Just like one of [his] Japanese animes!” It just goes to show that anyone can become daddy, if only they believe.