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This article is about Cipher (Zero). You may be looking for the Cypher UAV.




Biographical information
Real name David Oh
Also known as "O"
Major Tom
Major Zero
Nationality Flag of the United Kingdom British
Born August 12, 1909,
Exeter, England[1]
Died 2014,
Arlington, Virginia, USA
Age 105 at death
Physical description
Eye color Grayish blue[2]
Hair color Gray, later white
Ethnicity Caucasian
Height 184 cm (6'⅝")[2] (1964)
Weight 78.9 kg (174 lb)[2] (1964)
Career and family information
Affiliation(s) SAS
UMA Club
The Patriots
Occupation Special forces commander
Notable family and relationship(s) Sister[3]
Metal Gear information
Main appearance(s) Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Created by Hideo Kojima
Voiced by (English) Jim Piddock (MGS3, MPO)
Uncredited (MGS4)
Voiced by (Japanese) Banjō Ginga (MGS3, MPO)
Uncredited (MGS4)
Portrayed by Takashi Kubo (MGS3)[2]

Zero (real name David Oh, and formerly known as "O", Major Tom, Major Zero and Cipher) was the original commander of CIA Special Forces Unit FOX (Force Operation X). After Zero became a founding member of the Patriots along with Big Boss, the two friends would later develop a bitter enmity.


Early life and careerEdit

Prior to creating FOX, David Oh served in the British SAS alongside The Boss. During his later career in MI6, he was referred to as "O." David ultimately joined the CIA, under the bureau of classified planning,[4] where he gained the codename "Zero" (derived from "O").

In 1962, Zero helped Dr. Nikolai Sokolov and his family defect from the Soviet Union to America, but was forced to allow Sokolov himself to be taken back due to a secret deal made between the two superpowers during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After reuniting with The Boss, the two formed the CIA's FOX Unit much to the DCI's dismay. However, Zero's own reasons for forming FOX was to prepare himself for a second attempt at recovering Sokolov.[5]

While serving in the CIA, Zero recruited Donald Anderson and Dr. Clark into the organization as he recognized their potential, though he ended up receiving complaints three days per month relating to Anderson. Zero also formed a club within the CIA dedicated to finding UMAs, and acted as its president, with Sigint as its vice president. At some point, he also took in an orphan, gave her food and a place to live. Prior to 1964, Zero obtained a residence in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Operation Snake EaterEdit

See also: Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater

By August 1964, Major Zero served as FOX's commanding officer for the Virtuous Mission, the objective being to once again rescue Sokolov in Tselinoyarsk, USSR. Earlier, Zero briefed his friend Jack on the previous attempt to rescue Sokolov, explaining that the Soviets most likely wanted him to finish a weapons system he had begun developing, capable of turning the tide of the Cold War. He also warned Jack that if he didn't retrieve Sokolov in four hours, then they wouldn't have enough time to extract the two from Tselinoyarsk. Zero gave Jack the codename Naked Snake due to the on-site procurement and stealth aspects of the mission, and designated himself as "Major Tom" due to incorrectly remembering the successful escape tunnel's name in The Great Escape. Upon Snake's arrival at Rassvet, the Major explained to him that he needed to deliver Sokolov a message when he rescued him: "Sorry for being so late." Upon learning of the dangerous circumstances between the KGB and the GRU's current rivalry, he also insisted that Snake get out of there with Sokolov quickly.


Zero, in 1964.

Following the Virtuous Mission's failure, Zero was shocked by The Boss's defection to the Soviet Union and Sokolov's facility's bombing as he viewed her with higher regard than even his own family, although he did later admit that she had an aura of mystery surrounding her. He also felt that his new codename might have been a mistake so he re-watched the film roll for The Great Escape, having arranged its delivery through the film company, and thus realized his error. Zero later visited Snake in an advanced ICU, offering him a Cuban cigar. There he explained to Snake that the Government was willing to revoke the charges in regards to any and all involvement in The Boss's defection, under the condition that he accepts the follow up mission Operation Snake Eater. Zero also implied during this visit that he had been placed in the same situation as Snake, and that if he failed the mission, then not only would FOX be disqualified from becoming an official unit, but he and Snake may also be executed.

Major Zero again served as Snake's commanding officer during Operation Snake Eater, with Para-Medic (Dr. Clark) and Sigint (Donald Anderson) providing radio support, and the supposed KGB spy EVA assisting Snake with transportation. When Sokolov was apparently committing adultery on his wife and child with Tatyana, Zero was in disbelief and tried to point out how he wasn't the kind of person to do so before Snake reminded him that "people change". In addition, when investigating Sokolov's supposed lover's identity, he initially speculated that her being a supposed KGB officer was obscure within the ranks of the KGB when he couldn't get any leads. After Sokolov was believed at the time to have been killed by Colonel Volgin, Zero decided to make the Shagohod's destruction a top priority to honor his fallen friend. He later learned from Snake about his communicating with The Sorrow. But despite insisting that he'll believe whatever Snake had to say, he spoke to Para-Medic and voiced that he may have gone insane before Snake pointed out that he could still hear them. The mission was a success as the Cobra Unit were killed off, the Shagohod weapon was destroyed, and both Volgin and The Boss were eliminated.

After Naked Snake was awarded the "Big Boss" codename by the President, Zero ran into Snake but his friend was too distraught to say anything to him and eventually left FOX and America to drift around nations as a mercenary.

San Hieronymo TakeoverEdit

Main article: San Hieronymo Takeover

In November 1970, Major Zero was arrested for treason after being accused of instigating the FOX rebellion on the San Hieronymo Peninsula. Having come under suspicion himself, Big Boss set out to clear his and Zero's names, with radio support from Para-Medic and Sigint via a radio frequency that Zero had maintained for such an emergency.[6]

Zero had conspired with the CIA triple spy Ocelot to bring about the incident, in order to obtain the remainder of the Philosophers' Legacy. They wished to use the Legacy to end the Philosophers' power and reform the organization, after having observed its American branch further degenerate into squabbling factions. Using Ocelot, Zero manipulated the charismatic Gene into staging the rebellion and stealing the CIA's new Metal Gear, forcing the CIA Director into a vulnerable position with the threat of a nuclear launch. While Ocelot was initially unaware of his co-conspirator's identity, Gene had his suspicions, referring to "the man with the same codename as Null."

Neither Zero nor Ocelot had anticipated that Gene would actually launch Metal Gear into America, thus framing the Soviet Union and ending the current détente in the Cold War. However, Big Boss and Roy Campbell were able to form a resistance movement on the peninsula, and ultimately foiled the launch attempt. Meanwhile, having supplied Metal Gear's trajectory data to the DCI, Zero had Ocelot assassinate the Director as he attempted to take shelter in a secret bunker beneath the CIA headquarters. Ocelot then stole the documents that the DCI had intended to save from destruction, regarding both the Philosophers' Legacy and a list of the organization's members, and provided these to Zero.

After they were cleared of all charges, Major Zero, Para-Medic, Sigint and a senior Government official greeted Big Boss at a runway upon his return to America by plane. There Zero handed him documents that would allow for the creation of a new special forces unit, following his disbandment of FOX.

The PatriotsEdit

Les Enfants TerriblesEdit

Zero later shared with Ocelot the battle data on the Perfect Soldier Project and gave hints about genomes as bargaining chips to which Ocelot agreed to stay working together under the condition that they recruit Big Boss into their new organization: the Patriots.

Halved patriot

Big Boss, Dr. Clark, Zero and Donald Anderson.

Immediately afterwards, Zero joined with Big Boss, Sigint, Para-Medic, Ocelot and EVA to form the Patriots. Using the Philosophers' Legacy as a limitless source of funding, Zero hoped to carry out what he believed to be The Boss's vision by turning Big Boss into a charismatic icon and unifying the world by controlling information. Zero's stature rose and his influence grew inside the halls of Langley. But when Big Boss started to disagree with the goal, Zero feared that his friend might leave the organization so he had Dr. Clark (Para-Medic) create clones of Big Boss in order to maintain the Patriots' icon in a project known as Les Enfants Terribles. When Big Boss found out about the project, he condemned it and, considering this to be the last straw, parted ways with Zero and left the United States to form his own private military company.

After falling out with Big Boss, Zero went into hiding, resulting in him and the Patriots both referring to themselves under the "Cipher" codename. Because of this instance, he also did not personally assign missions to his agents, instead using proxies to relay orders. Only one exception existed: his trusted operative Pacifica Ocean, whom he personally met at his hiding spot to have her make contact with Big Boss.

Peace Walker IncidentEdit

Main article: Peace Walker Incident

Zero and Big Boss

Zero and Big Boss part ways.

In 1974, Cipher orchestrated the Peace Walker Incident in Costa Rica involving Hot Coldman's AI weapons. To carry this out, Cipher recruited the triple spy Pacifica Ocean and arranged a secret business proposition with Kazuhira Miller to help expand the Militaires Sans Frontières. However, Cipher's ultimate aim was to manipulate Big Boss into participating in the project without his knowledge.

Cipher ordered their agent to modify the MSF's Metal Gear ZEKE when the time came, and convince Big Boss to rejoin Cipher by threatening to frame MSF for launching a nuclear warhead at the United States if he refused. Ultimately, this plot failed when Big Boss damaged ZEKE and stopped the nuclear launch. Miller had also been unaware of Cipher's plot to discredit MSF. When Big Boss and Miller discussed Cipher's true nature, Big Boss realized that "Cipher" was actually Zero. Meanwhile, Cipher planned to use the sons as insurance against Big Boss should the time arise.

Ground ZeroesEdit

One of Zero's agents, Skull Face, had planned for years to attack him, as Skull Face wanted to free himself. As Zero spent his time in hiding and relayed orders via proxies since the cloning project, Skull Face never had an opportunity to track him down until Paz's survival was discovered. He then had her abducted, ostensibly due to her being a traitor to Cipher, to gain information on where Zero was located, as she was the only agent to have actually met Zero face-to-face. However, Zero would survive Skull Face's assassination plot.

Later yearsEdit

Major Zero Power

Zero exerts his influence via the Patriots.

Over the years, Zero continued to craft a world of order governed by rules. He increased his fortunes by manipulating countless wars with his vast influence eventually manipulating the very core of the Oval Office. Years later, Big Boss plotted coups d'état against Zero in Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land. After Solid Snake, a clone created in the Les Enfants Terribles project, defeated Big Boss during both incidents, Zero had the "legendary mercenary" placed in a nanomachine-induced coma.

Having lost Big Boss as an icon and still bitter over his former friend's betrayal, Zero began to rely on an advanced AI network as the Patriots' "successors." But he lost his primary allies due to divisions in his own ranks for Big Boss, with EVA having Dr. Clark (Para-Medic) killed by the Cyborg Ninja (Frank Jaeger) and then Ocelot personally killing Donald Anderson (Sigint) during Liquid Snake's insurrection on Shadow Moses Island. By the time of Solidus Snake's takeover of the Big Shell, the AIs begun to ignore Zero's will and eventually crafted their own, which Zero had failed to realize due to the debilitating effects of his advanced years.

Liquid Ocelot's InsurrectionEdit

See also: Liquid Sun, Solid Sun, Third Sun, Twin Suns, Old Sun, and Naked Sin/Naked Son

A centenarian Zero, in 2014.

In 2014, Big Boss had awakened and then discovered Zero in a persistent vegetative state kept alive solely by life support equipment. After a computer worm destroyed the Patriots' AIs and Old Snake (Solid Snake) defeated Liquid Ocelot, Big Boss took Zero's wheelchair-bound shell to The Boss's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. Big Boss lamented that this man had nearly "brought the world to the brink of ruin" without even realizing it. Reflecting on their past experiences, Big Boss switched off Zero's life support equipment. As Zero was struggling to breathe, Big Boss pressed his hands over Zero's chest to stop him from moving as he died, ending the dictatorship he created and putting his former friend to peace.

Personality and traitsEdit

Zero had a prominent scar over his left eye and also believed that he had once been abducted by aliens.[7]

Due to his SAS training, he often looked down upon the American Armed Forces' methods of conducting operations, viewing them as sloppy, such as the fact that they relied too much on prepared equipment, such as a flashlight, or that they would leave their feces on the battlefield. The bomber jacket that Major Zero wore during the missions in 1964 resembled those worn by Allied pilots in World War II. It was also similar to the one worn by Steve McQueen in the 1963 film The Great Escape.

MGS3 Zero Yojji Shinkawa

Major Zero

According to Zero's personal data as of 1964: his eyesight was 20/13; his blood type was "A"; he had previously been afflicted with gout; his hobbies included watching movies and hunting; his favorite food was Shepherd's Pie, while his least favorite food was hamburgers; he enjoyed spy and war movies; his favorite animal was the horse; his favorite type of liquor was whiskey; he enjoyed rugby; he liked Dimbula brand tea; and his favorite UMA was the Loch Ness Monster.[3] Additionally, Zero disliked coffee and referred to it as "foul mud."

Zero was a huge fan of the James Bond films. Zero talked to Naked Snake about the intricacies and technological side of Bond's spy equipment and suggested that Snake be more like Bond, equipped with a "Snake shaped gun" and would get into an argument on the subject with Snake harboring a disinterest in the series and the spy genre in general. Zero also admitted that he personally didn't approve of how Bond interacted with female spies, after supposedly deducing one of the factors in Snake's dislike for the character. Sokolov said that Zero was a man of his word and a man of honor as he kept his promise to rescue him from the Soviet Union and apologized for being so late. In addition, Zero also was one who judged people on their merits rather than physical differences, as evidenced by his hiring Donald Anderson despite the former being banned from the workplace due to his ethnicity.

Zero didn't know much about technology and would use Sigint's notes when explaining what the anti-personnel sensor, motion detector, and active sonar were to Naked Snake. On a related note, he once bought a washing machine but didn't know how to use it.

He also possessed some religious beliefs. He told Snake "God be with you" before the latter performed a HALO jump.

After founding the Patriots to carry on The Boss's will, Zero over time became power hungry and a dictator by collecting more wealth and to gain more influence within the government. As a result, he also had no qualms for using Big Boss as an icon and to clone him without his knowledge. After Big Boss left the Patriots, Zero felt betrayed and lost his faith and belief in everything. By 1974, he also lost his ability to keep his promises and his code of honor by this point by his nearly having the Militaires Sans Frontières framed for a nuclear strike against America when Big Boss refused, despite this going against his promise to allow MSF to expand to Kazuhira Miller when getting him involved in the plot. In addition, after going into hiding as a result of Big Boss leaving the Patriots after he found out about the Les Enfants Terribles project, Zero did not directly give orders to his agents, instead supplying them to proxies and left his whereabouts unrevealed to all except for one agent, Pacifica Ocean, and even then, she implied at one point that she occassionaly got orders via proxy instead of from Zero directly,[8] indicating that Zero had become paranoid.

When he recovered Big Boss's body, he placed him in a permanent coma as a means to preserve Big Boss as an icon. In 2014, regarding Zero's actions, Big Boss wondered if Zero hated or feared him.


"Zero" is a British military radio term, often used as a callsign for a HQ. It also refers to a ghost, which Zero claimed was also fitting for a sneaking mission. Zero also referred to himself and the Patriots as "Cipher" which means "empty" and the number zero. This became fitting after Zero lost his beliefs and faith in everything when he became an empty shell of his former self.

Behind the scenes Edit

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Edit

In the Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Major Zero's (ゼロ) voice was provided by Banjō Ginga, who also voiced both Liquid Snake and Liquid Ocelot.


Major Zero.

Zero's real name, David Oh, was first given in a voice casting sheet for Metal Gear Solid 3, which was leaked prior to E3 2004.[4] While it is never mentioned in-game, it is mentioned in the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database.

The name Major Tom, while mentioned in-game to be a reference to The Great Escape, is also a character in the song "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. This could be a nod to the song, as it was originally selected as the ending theme for Metal Gear Solid 3 as it references space exploration. However, as the game ultimately departed from this theme, it was replaced by Starsailor's "Way to Fall."

In the Operation Snake Eater Briefing, Zero provides a Cuban cigar to Naked Snake, despite the fact that Cuban imports are illegal in the United States. However, Cuban cigars made before 1962 were still legal in the United States in 1964, and remain so to this day.

If the player ends up dying three times during The Sorrow battle and continuing, Zero will call and tell the player to use the Revival Pill at the Game Over screen.

Two radio conversations, relating to the Raikov Mask and the completed Raikov disguise, will have Major Zero commenting regarding the mask's "nostalgic" feeling that he "for some reason doesn't like it" and that Naked Snake's wearing of the Raikov disguise "is starting to irritate [Zero] already," referring to the negative fan controversy regarding the character Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Edit

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (Plus)
Zero MPO
Equipment M870
Career Politician, Quarterback, Rescuer, Deliveryman
Initial life 55
Maximum life 115
Initial stamina 260
Maximum stamina 360
Sense 25
Handgun B
Sub-machine-gun A
Assault rifle A
Shotgun A
Sniper rifle A
Heavy weapons B
Knife (CQC) B
Throwing weapons A
Traps B
Technical skill B
Medical skill B
Password (NTSC) 1+2-3
Password (PAL) GALAXY-0

Although Zero is imprisoned during the events of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, he can still be recruited as a secret character. Simply complete the game with a Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel save file on the PlayStation Portable's memory stick or use a code.

Zero's true involvement in the game is briefly hinted at during Gene's conversation with Ocelot in a cutscene, where he identifies Ocelot's co-conspirator as "the man with the same codename as 'Null'." "Null" is the German word for "Zero."

"Commander of Special Forces unit FOX, it was he who proposed the establishment of the unit to the CIA. Led Operation Snake Eater, providing support to Snake via radio. President of the unofficial UMA Finders Club at the CIA."
―Character description in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus

Major Zero opening fire on FOX soldiers.

Prior to the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, some fans had speculated that Zero was the "deviously cunning strategist" that Gene had mentioned in Portable Ops. Upon first viewing, the game's dialogue does not immediately make clear that this strategist and "the man with the same codename as Null" (Zero) are two distinct characters. However, later games reveal that Zero had continued to admire and idolize The Boss, causing opinion to shift towards Hot Coldman being the strategist, after he was revealed to be the planner of Operation Snake Eater in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Edit

While Zero does not make a physical appearance in Peace Walker, barring his secret phone call with Miller and Paz's flashback, he is referenced multiple times. In one of the briefing files, Big Boss reminisces about Zero hating coffee in a conversation with Paz. In another briefing file, it's implied that Big Boss is thinking about Zero when Paz mentions that she does not understand why "friend turned against friend" while describing Costa Rica's civil war.[9] In addition, during the attempted destruction of the Mammal Pod in Chapter 4, one of the glitched statements by the Mammal Pod was "The Lonely Fox Chases The One Eyed Hound", hinting at Big Boss and Zero's feud.

Other appearances Edit

"David Oh" is a dog tag that can be collected in Metal Gear Solid 2: HD Edition. It is ID 026 and can be found during the Tanker Chapter on the Extreme difficulty setting.

Major Zero appears in Versus Battle.

Master Manipulator of the Oval Office
Big Boss, Slowly Consumed by Power
SAS-trained, Zero formed the CIA’s special forces FOX unit with the Boss, and then the Patriots with the Big Boss, and lost himself to power in the process
―Major Zero's bio on Versus Battle

Hideo Kojima revealed on Twitter that Banjō Ginga, Zero's Japanese voice actor, will play a role in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, although it is unconfirmed whether Zero himself will actually appear in the game.[10] Zero's English voice actor, Jim Piddock, stated on Twitter that he elected not to reprise his role as Zero, and implied it was due to a payment dispute with Konami.[11] Aside from his suspected appearance in The Phantom Pain, Zero was also heavily alluded to in Ground Zeroes. He is also an unlockable character in the Ground Zeroes app, alongside his fellow FOX Unit/Patriot members, acting as an officer character in the Mother Base Developer. He is unlockable by obtaining 50k+ points on Hard Mode of Destroy the Anti-Air Emplacements while connected to the app.




  1. ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Radio Mode, Personal Data (1/4). [1]
  2. ^ a b c d Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Radio Mode, Personal Data (2/4). [2]
  3. ^ a b Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Radio Mode, Personal Data (3/4) and (4/4). [3]
  4. ^ a b [4]Metal Gear Solid 3 voice casting sheet
  5. ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    This was implied in a radio conversation between Zero and Naked Snake during the Virtuous Mission.
  6. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Kojima Productions (2006).
    Naked Snake: Does anybody read me? This is Snake. If anybody can hear this, please respond. // Para-Medic: Snake! Is it you? Is this the real Naked Snake? // Snake: That voice... Para-Medic? // Para-Medic: It's me! It's been a while, huh, Snake? It's good to hear your voice again. // Snake: Same here. It'd be even better if I weren't in this god-forsaken place. So, you're still using this circuit? // Para-Medic: Major Zero kept it just in case. He said if you were safe, you might try to use it to contact us. To be honest, I never really expected you to call. But I'm glad you did.
  7. ^ The latter is mentioned by Sigint in a radio conversation, should the player manage to procure the Spirit camo.
  8. ^ Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014)
    Info > Paz's spy log: Big Boss & Mother Base > Communications Record 2 (Correspondent Unknown)
    Paz Ortega Andrade: Yes, things are...proceeding. But modifying ZEKE has not proven easy. I'm using Zadornov to buy some time. [...] No, I have not forgotten what you said. However... Well, forgive me for asking, but... this is you I'm speaking to, isn't it... Cipher [Zero]? communication ends I must... I will fight Big Boss. The world must be ruled by a single will... To defy Cipher is a fate worse than death.
  9. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
    Briefing File > Paz > Costa Rica > The Civil War
    Paz Ortega Andrade: What I don't understand is why friend turned against friend when they could have talked it out instead. // Naked Snake (Big Boss): Yeah, that... would have been nice.
  10. ^
  11. ^

Start a Discussion Discussions about Zero

  • Big Boss's return to FOXHOUND

    83 messages
    • I think it's pretty simple actually. Zero wanted big boss back in the US and working with the patriots again, but he knew Big Boss would ne...
    • Or he simply wanted to force him to come back, thought he could strong arm him by threatening Paz and Big Boss pretended to give in. In any c...
  • Zero in MGSV TPP

    7 messages
    • On the subject of how old the AI Patriots are, it may be pertinent that naming AIs after the Mt. Rushmore presidents was originally the idea...
    • Hm... It seems no one mentioned Donald Anderson yet. Let's not forget that Dr. Clark and Anderson are also Patriots on Zero's side. Ander...

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