• Mei Ling’s historical and literary proverbs in Metal Gear Solid provide wisdom and connect to gameplay elements.
  • Players should be cautious and avoid getting into unnecessary fights, as the battlefield doesn’t care about Snake’s value.
  • Greed, desire, and dissatisfaction can get players into trouble, as they often have to decide if they need to collect optional items or move on.

Mei Ling is not only in Metal Gear Solid to save the player’s progress, she also doles out bits of wisdom in the form of historical and literary proverbs. Most of them connect to the gameplay in one way or another, or else they are silly jokes.


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The tradition of interesting conversations would be continued in the first two sequels, with Rose in Metal Gear Solid 2 asking Raiden about their relationship, and Para-Medic in the third game talking about cinema. Save in every room during the Metal Gear Solid story to listen to them all during any given playthrough. The ones without a name attached to them are older proverbs without a known author.

Otacon similarly tries to give Snake proverbs in the Tanker chapter of Metal Gear Solid 2, but consistently misinterprets them. Save enough times and Mei Ling will interrupt the conversation as a surprise cameo.

22 Try To Avoid Getting Into Fights

“The Graveyards Are Full Of Indispensable Men” – Charles De Gaulle

Image from Metal Gear Solid showing Solid Snake hiding from a patrolling guard.

The battlefield does not care how valuable Snake might be to the story or to other people. If the player is careless, they will nonetheless get a game over.

This proverb can also be looked at as a way to convey the almost unimaginable toll war takes on a population, as it rips the best people away from the world too soon.

21 Don’t Get Greedy

“He Who Knows Enough Is Enough Will Always Have Enough” – Lao Tzu

Metal Gear Solid Snake Hiding From Guard

In Metal Gear, close to nothing is often more than enough depending on the type of player. After all, Snake is trained to make the most out of very little.

While going through the game, players have to decide whether it is worthwhile to go hunting after all the items or if they can get by with what they have.

20 Desire Can Get You Into Trouble

“Naught’s Had, All is Spent, Where Our Desire is Got Without Content” – William Shakespeare

Metal Gear Solid Looking at Baker trapped

Quotes about greed and dissatisfaction only become more relevant in the sequels where there are more optional items to be collected.

Is it worth it to grab every gun and piece of equipment in Metal Gear Solid 3 and 4 or should players move on to avoid detection?

19 Avoid Danger

“You Must Cross The River Before You Tell The Crocodile He Has Bad Breath” – Chinese Proverb

Metal Gear Solid Basic Map Snake Behind Tank

Just because it sounds humorous does not mean it is not true. Engaging enemies from a distance always ensures that Snake is safer.

In Metal Gear Solid it is often better not to engage the enemy at all, given that these games are stealth simulators first and foremost.

18 Be Careful

“The Cautious Seldom Err” – Confucious

Metal Gear Solid Tank Boss Fight In Snowfield

On multiple playthroughs, gamers can rush through areas with ease. However, on a first playthrough, they have to observe enemy patrol patterns and get used to just how far enemies can see in front of them.

The game is designed to encourage players to be cautious. Snake can’t take a ton of punishment, and one wrong move could mean his end.

17 Strength In Numbers

“If There Are More Wolves, The People Are Eaten. If There Are More People, The Wolves Are Eaten” – Unknown

Meryl shooting at guard Metal Gear Solid PS1

This quote does not bode well for Snake. After all, he is one man against a whole army. While he may be a “wolf,” he is still at a disadvantage.


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Mei Ling does not say this to be all doom and gloom but intends it as a reminder that the odds are stacked against Snake and he needs to be cautious.

16 Actions Speak Louder Than Words

“The Superior Man Is Modest In His Speech But Exceeds In His Actions” – Confucius

Snake fighting Liquid On Rex Metal Gear Solid PS1

Though this quote is all about less talk and more action, Mei Ling uses this to remind Snake that she really does not know who he is and is not comfortable telling him about herself yet.

If nothing else, Snake is a reserved man. That could have to do with his past, the actions he’s taken in his line of work, or just who he is, but it makes him a difficult man to trust.

15 Sneaking Around

“Brashness Brings Success Too Few, Misfortune To Many” – Unknown

Snake walking above guards In Metal Gear Solid PS1 1998

Snake has to remember that his actions do not just affect his safety but the safety of his friends and of the whole world.

If Snake’s carelessness gets the better of him, the entire world order is at stake. Snake’s missions are of the utmost importance, and he can’t afford to get cocky.

14 Stay Focused

“The Mind Cannot Be In Two Places At Once” – Unknown

MGS Characters Arcs- MGS1 Meryl Ending

This quote is even more relevant for players today. After all, in 1998 gamers did not have smartphones and constant Internet connections to distract them.

Now, players are likely to get spotted if they take their eyes off the TV for a second to check their messages. Fior Snake to succeed, he needs to stay focused.

13 Focus On The Positivity Today

“Gather Ye Rose-Buds While Ye May, Old Time Is Still A-Flying: And This Same Flower That Smiles To Day, To Morrow Will Be Dying” – Robert Herrick

Snake In Prison Cell Metal Gear Solid PS1 1998

Mei Ling says this not to remind Snake of anything in gameplay but to just cheer Snake up and get him to laugh a little more.

Snake is pretty dry most of the time, though he is not above a joke or two here and there when the time is right.

12 Loneliness Gets The Better Of Us All

“Solitude Is Sometimes Best Society, And Short Retirement Urges Sweet Return” – John Milton

Metal Gear Solid Snake Against A Wall Stealth

Mei Ling questions whether Snake was eager to come back to this mission because of his early retirement. It is a theme explored late in the game when Liquid is talking to him.


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Does Snake really feel forced into this mission or does he revel in the opportunity to kill again? Snake’s is often presented as morally gray, so either option could be true.

11 Keep Your Principles

“The Proud Man Does Not Eat Rotting Meat, Even When Hungry, Nor Steal Water From Another’s Well When He Thirsts” – Unknown

Snake getting the socom Metal Gear Solid One

The irony of this quote is quickly pointed out. After all, Snake has to steal from enemies to get his equipment.

They deserve it, though. Snake’s enemies often seek to bring about the fall of modern society or to conquer the world. Stealing their stuff pales in comparison.

“Once The Fox Gets His Nose In, He’ll Soon Find A Way To Make His Body Follow” – Arab Fable

gray fox from PS1's metal gear solid

It is not Metal Gear unless someone talks about foxes. It makes sense; players have to adapt to the situation, getting out of a jam with whatever equipment they have.

While the original quote that inspires this replaces the “fox” with a camel, the essence of the phrase remains the same.

9 Strength Of Will

“He Who Is Firm In Will Molds The World To Himself” – Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Snake versus liquid on the Jeeps Metal Gear Solid PS1

While the meaning is nice, it does not really apply to the game. After all, every action the player can do is only within the confines of what the game’s code will allow and has accounted for.

Even something as open as Baldur’s Gate 3 has similar limitations. At the end of the day, players will always have to bend to the game’s will at some point.

8 Remember What’s Important

“When Walking Through A Melon Patch, Don’t Adjust Your Sandals” – Chinese Proverb

Snake punching out a guard MGS 1 PS1

Mei Ling’s explanation really helps, otherwise, the meaning here might be a little lost.

Sandle comfort is not the priority, just like certain aspects of the gameplay should not be top priority at certain moments. Does Snake really need that item if he is in the alert phase?

7 Know Your Strengths

“The Snake, Knowing Itself, Strikes Swiftly” – Chinese Proverb

Snake walking away from an explosion MGS 1 PS1 1998

This is important to know as a gamer too. Maybe one player is better at melee combat while others are better at shooting.

This will have a great effect on the way one tackles the Metal Gear series, especially as gameplay possibilities open up in the sequels.

6 Anything To Survive

“Win Any Way You Can, Nice Guys Finish Last” – Leo Durocher

Snake running away from Metal Gear Rex

This is mostly true in video games, but even some games’ morality systems challenge gamers to be nice even if it is not advantageous.

In real life, people really should consider the effect their actions will have on others before focusing on victory.

5 Fight Until The End

“I’ll Fight Till From My Bones My Flesh Be Hacked” – Shakespeare (Macbeth)

Otacon and Snake Pinned under a truck Metal Gear Solid PS1 1998

Anybody who has played Metal Gear Solid 4 knows Raiden lives by this quote. Several times he fights until he is beaten and bloodied.

By the end of the game, he is taking people down without arms and with a sword in his mouth. Raiden just won’t quit.

4 Even Opera Has Great Quotes

“War He Sung Is Toil And Trouble, Honor But An Empty Bubble” – John Dryden (Handel’s Alexander’s Feast)

Metal Gear Solid PS1 Snake talking with Raven

Even though Metal Gear is an action game, it tries to be explicitly anti-war. The series’ creator, Hideo Kojima, has never minced words about the messages behind his games.

One of the final messages from the series in Metal Gear Solid 4 is about just how much time and life was wasted on the squabble between Major Zero and Big Boss.

3 Something Romantic

“How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count The Ways” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Meryl in front of communication tower MGS 1

This conversation is more of a joke. Mei Ling blushes and wonders why she even said this one at all, quickly ending the conversation.

This quote is definitely just a joke, with the game poking fun at Mei Ling’s own tendency to share quotes with vague meanings.


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