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Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell)

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Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell)

Sam Fisher
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell character
Sam Fisher, as he appeared in Splinter Cell: Blacklist
First game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (2002)
Created by JT Petty
Designed by Martin Caya
Voiced by
Portrayed by

Samuel "Sam" Fisher is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series of video games developed by Ubisoft as well as a series of tie-in novels endorsed by Tom Clancy. His full name is first seen in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, the first game of the series, when he was using the computer in the V-22 Osprey to encrypt his home call. Fisher was originally voiced by veteran actor Michael Ironside in the first five installments of the series. Eric Johnson assumed the voice role in 2013 with the release of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life & background 1.1
      • Third Echelon Conspiracy / D.C. EMP event 1.1.1
    • Relationships 1.2
    • Professional profile 1.3
    • Fourth Echelon & Blacklist 1.4
  • Personality 2
  • Appearances 3
    • In other media 3.1
  • Reception 4
  • References 5


Early life & background

Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fisher, USN (Ret.), is a former member of Third Echelon, a top-secret sub-branch within the National Security Agency (NSA) and currently the commander of Fourth Echelon, a newly created covert special operations & counter-terrorism unit answerable only to the President of the United States. Fisher was born in 1957[1][2][3] in the affluent Baltimore suburbs of Towson, Maryland. While not much is known of his childhood, it is known that Sam attended a military boarding school after the death of his parents when he was a child until being accepted into the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated from in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. Soon after, his personnel file was flagged for recruitment by the Navy SEALs, which he joined after passing their grueling selection process and training program.

In the mid-1980s, while Fisher was attached to the CIA (though still on active duty with the Navy) and working under an official diplomatic cover in USSR), he met an NSA cryptanalyst named Regan Burns and they married in 1984/85 at a small ceremony at Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany, after learning that Regan was pregnant. On 31 May 1985, Regan gave birth to their only child whom was named Sarah.[4] Fisher and Regan divorced after three years of marriage, and after gaining custody of Sarah, Regan reverted to her maiden name and changed Sarah's as well. When Regan died from ovarian cancer sometime in 2000, Fisher gained guardianship of Sarah, moved back to the U.S. and took a bureaucratic job with the CIA, where he worked in weapons development as well as studied experimental weaponry and information warfare, in order to spend more time with her and focus on her upbringing.[5]

Third Echelon Conspiracy / D.C. EMP event

While Fisher was on a mission in Iceland, he was informed that his daughter, Sarah, was allegedly killed by a drunk driver in late 2007 or early 2008; however, three years later, he heard a rumor that the death of his daughter was no accident and went to Malta to investigate. After being captured by Third Echelon in Malta, Grim revealed that Sarah is alive but if Sam wanted to see his daughter again he had to help her investigate Reed. At Third Echelon HQ, Grim played a recording that Lambert made before his death in New York explaining that Sarah's death was faked to prevent her from being used as leverage by a mole inside Third Echelon to compromise Sam and the agency.


Sam's direct supervisor and handler in Third Echelon was Colonel Irving Lambert, USA (Ret.) (deceased, 2008), who maintained constant radio contact with Sam during his missions, providing him with updates and support, and was even one of Fisher's oldest, if not the closest, friends. Assisting Lambert were several other Third Echelon employees who provided additional reconnaissance, logistical, and technical support to Sam while operating in the field: Vernon 'Junior' Wilkes (deceased), Anna Grímsdóttir, Frances Coen and William Redding (introduced in Chaos Theory).

One of Sam Fisher's oldest friends, Major Douglas Shetland, USMC (Ret.), a former U.S. Marine Recon officer and the CEO of a PMC who plays a prominent role in the third game, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, established that Fisher had served with Shetland in Kuwait during the Gulf War (while Shetland's unit was operating alongside the Navy SEALs and became close friends while stationed aboard the USS Nimitz) shortly after Fisher rescues him from a hostage situation during the "East Timor" mission in the second game, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, when Shetland asks, "Where are the rest of the SEALs?" to which Sam replies and establishing that he left the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1996 by saying "I came alone. Haven't been Navy for a decade."

Victor Coste is another one of Sam Fisher's oldest friends. The two served together in the Navy SEALs in Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991. During their time in Iraq, Coste single-handedly rescued Sam from a hostage situation after the four-man Navy SEAL foot patrol under Sam's command was ambushed on the Highway of Death and Sam was captured by the Iraqi Republican Guard.

Professional profile

Sam is 177 cm (5 ft 10 in) tall, weighs 78 kg (170 pounds),[1] has greying, dark brown hair and green eyes. He was the first person to be recruited as a field agent of the "Splinter Cell" program, Third Echelon's highly clandestine black ops project. A highly decorated veteran of FN Five-seveN, which is also his preferred weapon of choice throughout the Splinter Cell franchise. During the "Washington Monument" level in Conviction, he retrieves the Five-seveN from Victor Coste, who refers to it as Sam's "favorite pistol".

Fisher has conducted operations all over the world: CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Established from the novels, Sam is known to have command of a startling number of languages, including English (natively), Spanish, German, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, and Farsi.

The novel version of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell establishes that Sam hated his time in the CIA when he was working there in the mid-late 1980s, and that he mostly had official cover (i.e. he was a "diplomatic aide"). It is also established during the "Bank" mission in Chaos Theory that Fisher served in Panama during Operation Just Cause when Redding reveals in the level's pre-mission briefing that Fisher was part of a CIA team that raided the same bank during the conflict searching for some of Noriega's drug money.

It is also established during the same mission in Chaos Theory that he was soon afterwards recalled back to active duty with the SEALs and deployed to Iraq, where he spent the months leading up to the Gulf War "sleeping in a ditch on the road between Baghdad and Kuwait" shortly after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and was already present once the Western military intervention by the U.S.-led coalition forces began at the beginning of the Gulf War itself in January 1991.

It was revealed during the flashback level in the series' fifth installment, Splinter Cell: Conviction, that during Sam's service in southern Iraq during the Liberation of Kuwait campaign, he led a four-man Navy SEAL foot patrol on search-and-destroy operations in al-Diwaniyah. It is shown that he and his team were ambushed by Iraqi Republican Guard troops while on a routine patrol on a highway leading out of Kuwait back toward Baghdad during Operation Desert Storm. Although Sam survived, two men under his command were killed, and he was subsequently captured. However, his second-in-command, Victor Coste (callsign "Husky"), who had survived the ambush and been left for dead, rescued Sam, having fought his way through to Sam's location alone despite being heavily outnumbered by Iraqi troops in his way. Having disobeyed direct orders to hold his position and wait for evacuation, this is a debt which Sam has never forgotten. As a result of this experience, Vic is someone Sam often reaches out to for support in unconventional situations and the only person which Sam trusts without hesitation to watch his back while in the field, in even the most sensitive and desperate of situations.

Ubisoft's lead character artist Martin Caya established in early interviews about the first game of the series that during his career Fisher had served in Afghanistan, where he had an experience in which he was forced to hide under dead bodies in order to avoid being killed in the middle of an operation. Caya also established that Fisher had served in East Germany and in "other Soviet satellite countries leading up to the collapse of the USSR."

The novel Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Checkmate revealed that Sam served in Senegal where his team was deployed to hunt down and assassinate a French black market arms dealer who had been arming both sides of a brush war between Senegal and Mauritania. Fisher’s team eventually tracked down the arms dealer in Dakar where they eliminated him after weeks of searching through the jungles along the Senegal-Mali border.[7]

It's also been established in the original Splinter Cell in the interview with Sam found in the extra features that he was indeed with the Navy SEALs, when he says "I've had the good fortune in my life to work with some really talented and professional people. U.S. Navy SEALs, the folks at Third Echelon. All real pros." The "Sam Fisher Interview" was an exclusive behind-the-scenes video with Sam going undercover as Ubisoft's "technical advisor" after the "Presidential Palace" level. According to his DD214 from the (now-defunct) website for Double Agent, Sam rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander (O-4) in the Navy, where at some point he spent nearly three years (2 years, 11 months) as an intelligence analyst and was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

Fourth Echelon & Blacklist

Six months after the events that took place in D.C. and the disbandment of Third Echelon, Sam worked with his friend Victor Coste and Charlie Cole at Paladin Nine Security, Coste's PMC. While departing from the U.S. Air Base in Guam, he and Coste witnessed the first "Blacklist" attack on the base by a group of armed unidentified men in BDUs, thus interrupting the recon mission and leaving Vic injured. Shortly after President Patricia Caldwell offers Sam a new assignment as the commander of Fourth Echelon, a new top-secret, fully mobile special operations and counter-terrorism unit answerable directly and only to her.


As a covert operative whose existence is completely deniable by the U.S. government, Fisher approaches his target objectives in a gruff, no-nonsense manner, but maintains a light-hearted relationship with his colleagues and even with his momentary hostages (even if he is going to kill them). Fisher has little patience for government bureaucracy or behind-the-scenes political maneuvering. A realist who is well aware of the overarching political ramifications behind his assignments and the specific manner authorized for their completion, Fisher maintains a cynical, jaded and sarcastic sense of humor about the covert, illegal, and often morally ambiguous nature of his work. In Pandora Tomorrow, when Lambert informs Fisher that "Nobody knows whether he's (Norman Soth) a US intelligence agent or a terrorist," Fisher replies that, "Those things aren't mutually exclusive."

At the same time, he is highly loyal and a staunch believer in the ideals his work ultimately protects. He is quickly angered by the casual and/or intentional slaughter of innocent civilians or unarmed military personnel by his enemies.

In the original Splinter Cell, Fisher is the original trial agent of the nascent Third Echelon initiative and its inaugural Splinter Cell program, and thus his interactions with his handler Colonel Lambert are relatively straightforward but respectful. At the same time, Fisher does drop the occasional sarcastic wisecrack at particularly unusual or obtuse instructions. For instance, during the final level in Pandora Tomorrow, Sam is in an elevator that shuts down when his enemies cut the power. Lambert informs him that the elevator has stopped, and Sam retorts with a sarcastic, "Thanks, Lambert."

In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Fisher is blunt, and he appears fairly disappointed when Lambert orders him to avoid enemy fatalities as part of his mission parameters. Frequently holding captured enemies at knife-point, his dialog with them is creative and highly intimidating, though often morbidly humorous to the audience. In Splinter Cell: Conviction, Fisher's personality takes a leap towards ruthlessness as intimidating threats of lethality in Chaos Theory become standard practice. Fisher often tortures his subjects of interrogation through creative use of surrounding objects such pianos, fire extinguishers or windowsills.

The tie-in novels expand on Fisher's character. They portray him as detached and preferring solitude, buying non-perishables (such as any CDs he wants) online, and living by himself. The first novel explained in a one-sentence paragraph that Fisher "like[s] it that way." He avoids relationships due to the demands of his job, though he eventually engages in a relationship with his Krav Maga instructor Katia in Operation Barracuda, only to be reminded later in that same book why he cannot have relationships when Katia is killed by a sniper shot that was meant for him. However, he does have a close relationship with his daughter, Sarah, which is used to bait him into a trap in the first novel when Sarah is kidnapped in order to get to Fisher.

In the novels, Fisher also mentions that he has the ability to fall asleep on command, unlike most people who can only sleep when tired. This, he says, is an asset in his line of work, which often requires him to obtain sleep in the most awkward of places.


  • Splinter Cell: Conviction: Original Soundtrack (Limited Collector's Edition) (2010)
  • Agent Sam Fisher - Conviction (2008)[8]
  • Agent Sam Fisher - Double Agent (2007)

In other media

Tom Hardy will be playing a younger Sam Fisher in a film adaptation of Splinter Cell, expected to be released in 2017.[9]

Sam appeared in an episode of the web popular series Death Battle, and fought Metal Gear protagonist Solid Snake in a fight to the death and lost. He was voiced by Ben Reynolds.


The 2011 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition lists the character as the twenty-fourth most popular video game character.[10] Fisher was also voted as the twelfth top character of the 2000s decade by Game Informer's readers.[11] In 2008, The Age ranked Fisher as the seventh greatest Xbox character of all time, stating "he's a man of action rather than words and a lone wolf, and sometimes, you've just got to respect that."[12] UGO Networks featured Fisher on their list of "The Coolest Helmets and Headgear in Video Games" at number 5, remarking he is "unrecognizable without" the three-eyed night vision goggles "perched on his forehead."[13] In 2013, Complex ranked Sam Fisher at number 18 on the list of the greatest soldiers in video games, calling him "a little bit like an American James Bond—only without all the things that James Bond does besides kill dudes."[14] Although Fisher ultimately did not make the cut, Game Informer staff considered his inclusion in their "30 characters that defined a decade" collection, with Bryan Vore saying, "Before Splinter Cell ... it was easy to assume that Sam Fisher was simply a poor man's Solid Snake. But [he] quickly won over gamers thanks to his quiet and deadly efficiency, gruff yet sarcastic demeanor, and the willingness to disobey orders that he doesn't believe in."[15] In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 37th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, adding that, "He's voiced by Michael Ironside and he wears awesome night vision goggles. That's good enough, right? No? Fine. ... He's like Macgyver-meets-James Bond-meets-Batman."[16]

On the other hand, PC Zone‍ '​ staff listed in 2008 Fisher as the eighth worst character in PC gaming history, declaring "Once a great, iconic character - now one in freefall due to a genuine lack of imagination on the part of his creators. The man was barely identifiable to begin with, a fairly plain superspy with no particular agendas."[17]


  1. ^ a b Andrist, Alex (4 March 2005). Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory manual.  
  2. ^ Michaels, David; Clancy, Tom (2004).  
  3. ^ Concept art of Sam's DD214 from Splinter Cell: Double Agent confirms his date of birth as "1957".
  4. ^ Newspaper clipping of Sarah Fisher's obituary from Splinter Cell: Double Agent
  5. ^ Michaels, David; Clancy, Tom (2004).  
  6. ^ Yoon, Andrew (5 November 2009). "Sam Fisher uses Krav Maga martial art, according to Splinter Cell Conviction dev diary".  
  7. ^ Michaels, David; Clancy, Tom (2006). "24".  
  8. ^ "Agent Sam Fisher - Conviction". Juno Records. Juno Records. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Collura, Scott (14 November 2012). "Tom Hardy to Play Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell Movie".  
  10. ^ Sharkey, Mike (16 February 2011). "Guinness Ranks Your 50 Favorite Video Game Characters of All Time".  
  11. ^ Bryan Vore (3 December 2010). "Readers' Top 30 Characters Results Revealed". Game Informer. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Top 50 Xbox Characters of All Time".  
  13. ^ Meli, Marissa (4 March 2011). "Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell series) - The Coolest Helmets and Headgear in Video Games".  
  14. ^ Chad Hunter, Michael Rougeau, The 50 Greatest Soldiers In Video Games,, 25 May 2013.
  15. ^ Bertz, Matt (19 November 2010). "The Snubbed List".  
  16. ^ "100 best heroes in video games".  
  17. ^  
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