Samus Aran
Metroid series
A person in a big, futuristic-looking powered suit with a helmet. The right arm is a large firearm. The shoulders are particularly large, bulky, and rounded.
Samus Aran in her Varia Suit, as she appears in the 2007 video game Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
First appearance Metroid (1986)
Created by Makoto Kano
Designed by Hiroji Kiyotake
Voiced by
Jennifer Hale (2002–2007)[1]
Alésia Glidewell (2008)[2]
Jessica Martin (2010) [3]
Motion capture Chisato Morishita (Metroid: Zero Mission commercial)
Voiced by
Ai Kobayashi (Metroid: Other M)

Samus Aran (サムス・アラン Samusu Aran?) is the protagonist of the Metroid video game series. Introduced in the 1986 video game Metroid, Samus is a female ex-army soldier bounty hunter usually fitted with a powered armor suit with weapons that include beams and missiles. Throughout the series, she executes missions given to her by the Galactic Federation while hunting the antagonistic Space Pirates and their leader, Ridley, along with the energy-draining extraterrestrial parasites called Metroids. Orphaned at a young age, Samus was brought up by the extraterrestrial avianoid Chozo race, who trained her as a warrior. The Chozo also gave her the Power Suit, and infused her with their blood in order to create a perfect warrior. The suit gives Samus the ability to transform herself into a sphere called the Morph Ball in order to roll through tight areas such as tunnels.

Samus has appeared in all eleven Metroid video games as of 2010. She has also been featured in media outside of the series, including the comic book version of Captain N: The Game Master, all three games in the Super Smash Bros. series of multiplayer fighting games, and the video games Super Mario RPG (1996), Kirby Super Star (1996), and Kirby's Dream Land 3 (1997), in which she makes cameo appearances. Makoto Kano created the characters for the original Metroid, while Hiroji Kiyotake designed the main protagonist Samus. The idea for the character to be female came up partway through the development of Metroid, when the developers determined that it would be an interesting twist to reveal her as female at the end of the game. Samus is one of the first major female protagonists in a video game, and her popularity among fans has helped her top several lists of the best video game heroines.


The style for the original Metroid game was designed to be a cross between the side-scrolling gameplay of the Super Mario games and the exploration and puzzle-solving aspects of The Legend of Zelda series, with inspiration from science fiction.[4] The game's characters were conceived by Makoto Kano,[5] while Hiroji Kiyotake designed main protagonist Samus Aran.[6] Samus is able to collapse into a ball to travel through tight areas. The ability, called the Maru Mari in the original Metroid (1986), and later the more popular title of Morph Ball in Super Metroid, was conceived by the developers because it required less effort to animate than "a cyborg crawling on all fours", and the producer for Metroid, Gunpei Yokoi, took advantage of this shortcut.[5]

The game's atmosphere was influenced by Ridley Scott's film, Alien (1979).[5] Series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto recalls, "We were partway through the development process when one of the staff members said 'Hey, wouldn't that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?'"[7] The developers voted on the concept, and it passed.[5] The game's instruction manual refers to Samus as if she were male to keep her true gender a secret until the end of the game.[8] Samus was one of the first major female protagonists in a video game. Sakamoto noted that during the course of the Metroid series, developers constantly try to express Samus's femininity without turning her into a sex object.[7] Samus's image was based on actress Kim Basinger from [[9½ Weeks|9Template:Frac Weeks]] and My Stepmother Is an Alien.[9]Sakamoto and Kiyotake said that the character's last name "Aran" was taken from Edison Arantes do Nascimento, the birth name of famous soccer player Pelé.[6]


A computer-generated image of a woman wearing a tight-fitting blue suit. She has blond hair and green eyes, and appears to be sitting in a chair.

Samus wearing the Zero Suit, as depicted in a cutscene from Metroid: Other M

Samus was born a normal human, and she spent her childhood with her family on the mining planet K-2L. The planet was raided by space pirates, who were looking for bounty and other useful items and treasures. The leader of the space pirates, Ridley, killed most of the people in Samus's colony,[10] including her mother,[5] and then destroyed the planet. Her father died when he overloaded a malfunctioning weapon destroying most of the cargo the space pirates were after. [10] Orphaned, Samus was found by a bird-like alien race known as the Chozo,[5] who brought her to their home planet Zebes. Samus was infused with Chozo DNA to give her a strong resistance to foreign environments, then trained as a warrior and given one of the alien race's artifacts,[10] a powered exoskeleton called the Power Suit that biologically entwines itself with Samus's mind and body.[5]

She enlisted in the Galactic Federation Police, but later left because her commanding officer Adam Malkovich sacrificed his little brother to save the team and some three-hundred refugees when a large fusion drive was about to explode.[4][10] Samus, who is Template:Height tall and weighs while in armor,[11] now works as a freelance bounty hunter, and is called on by the Galactic Federation to execute missions "because of her superior skills and sense of justice".[10] Samus is motivated at least in part by wrath as well as an accompanying sense of duty, since her "bounty hunting" helps the galaxy get rid of unsavory elements such as the mysterious lifeforms known as Metroids, who can drain life energy and are frequently used as biological weapons.[4][10] She also takes the opportunity to exact revenge on the pirates who murdered her family. Typically, one of her suit's arms carries a cannon, which can be charged to shoot an extra-powerful blast,[5] a limited number of missiles, and various beams.[4] Samus's suit can collapse into a sphere, a mode called the Morph Ball, allowing her to roll through tight areas such as tunnels. The suit can scan objects to learn more about them, and has a grapple beam used to cross large distances, such as chasms.[5]

Since Metroid II: Return of Samus, Samus has been accompanied by her Gunship, which is used in the games to save progress and restore health and ammunition.[5][12] The Gunship was destroyed in Metroid Fusion when she crashed it into an asteroid belt.[12] Afterwards, the Galactic Federation provided her with a new ship.[12]

Samus's suit can be enhanced by power-ups, the first introduced being the Varia Suit. In the original Metroid, it gives a pinkish color to the Power Suit, but in Metroid II: Return of Samus, because of the limited monochrome graphics on the Game Boy, the Varia Suit has giant shoulder pads to differentiate it from her other suits. The design has remained with the suit ever since.[8] The difference between suits was explained in Metroid: Zero Mission, in which after completing her first mission on Zebes, Samus is shot down and her Power Suit is rendered useless. There, she re-visits a Chozo shrine that she first visited as a child, and receives upgraded armor, with the larger shoulder pads.[10] When the Varia Suit is destroyed, Samus dons the less protective Zero Suit. She wears a unique suit in Metroid Fusion called the Fusion Suit, a weakened version of the Power Suit. Other suit upgrades in the series include the Gravity Suit, P.E.D. Suit, Phazon Suit, Hazard Suit, and Light and Dark Suits. As of Super Metroid, the suits have gained distinctive colors: the Power Suit (and variants) are yellow, the Varia Suit is red/orange and the Gravity Suit is purple. These colors are seen again in Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion. Also in the Metroid Prime series, the eponymous Metroid Prime creature fuses with the remnants of Samus's Phazon Suit to become Dark Samus, an evil doppelgänger of Samus.[4]

Samus typically works alone. Before Metroid: Other M (2010), she had never spoken in any of the games in the Metroid series other than Metroid Fusion, Metroid Zero Mission and the opening cutscene of Super Metroid, conversing mostly through text dialogue.[citation needed] In the first Metroid, her gender was kept a secret until the end of the game—the instruction booklet for the game referred to her character as male. If the player completes the game quickly enough, she is first revealed as female at the end of Metroid. Typically emotionless, Samus reveals occasional feelings for ongoing situations in Metroid Fusion. Without her suit, other emotions were also revealed while dealing with her artificially intelligent computer.[5] In Metroid II: Return of Samus, Samus bonds with a Metroid, which later sacrifices itself to save her from Mother Brain in Super Metroid. Seeking revenge, Samus destroys Mother Brain in a scene that is "more than a little emotionally charged".[10] In the Chozo's scrolls, Samus is recorded as The Newborn, an "orphaned warrior filled with vengeance".[10] Thanks in part to her Chozo heritage, the Chozo consider her the hope of their race. The Galactic Federation sees her as the protector of the galaxy, and the Space Pirates refer to her as the Hunter.[10]


In the series

Metroid series
fictional chronology

In Metroid (1986), Samus is tasked by the Galactic Federation to track down Space Pirates on their home planet of Zebes. At the end of the game, she battles Mother Brain, the organism that controls the defenses in the Space Pirate base, and escapes in time to avoid the base's self-destruction. In Metroid II: Return of Samus (1992), the Galactic Federation once again commissions Samus, this time to exterminate all Metroid creatures on the planet SR388. She travels deep into the planet's caverns, where she encounters a Metroid Queen. After dispatching the creature, Samus discovers a small Metroid hatchling, which she spares. The baby Metroid follows Samus to her gunship, after it imprints on her. In Super Metroid (1994), the baby Metroid is stolen by Ridley. She travels back to the Space Pirates' rebuilt base on the planet Zebes. Locating the now fully grown Metroid, Samus discovers a new and more powerful Mother Brain. She defeats it with the help of the Metroid, which sacrifices itself to save Samus. In Metroid Fusion (2002), Samus returns to the planet SR388, where a parasitic infection nearly kills her. Galactic Federation scientists surgically remove large sections of her corrupted Varia Suit and inject her with the baby Metroid's DNA to save her, which alters her suit's appearance dramatically. To prevent the parasites from spreading beyond SR388 and the space station orbiting above it, Samus sets the station to crash into SR388 and barely escapes before both the planet and station are vaporized.[5] Metroid: Other M (2010), which takes place between Super Metroid and Fusion, provides more information about Samus's backstory and emotional connection to both the baby and her former commander, Adam Malkovich, as well as her relation to all four Mother Brain designs, namely Zebes' Mother Brains, Aurora Unit 313 and MB.[13]

In Metroid Prime (2002), Samus travels to the planet Tallon IV, which contains a Chozo colony in ruins and a Space Pirate base. There she learns of Phazon, a mysterious mutagen that can alter the genetic material of an organism. Samus is eventually able to access the source of the planet's Phazon contamination, a meteor impact crater, where she defeats the Phazon-infused creature Metroid Prime. In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004), Samus is sent to the planet Aether, a Phazon meteor-ravaged planet split into light and dark dimensions. There she battles the Ing, creatures that are able to possess other organisms, and Dark Samus, an evil doppelgänger of herself formed from the remains of Metroid Prime. In Metroid Prime Hunters (2006), Samus competes against six rival bounty hunters in a race to recover an alien ultimate weapon. In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007), Samus is infected by Phazon and is slowly corrupted by the mutagen while she works to prevent it from spreading to other planets. By the end of the game, she renders all Phazon inert by destroying its original source, the planet Phaaze, and defeats Dark Samus.[5]

In other media

Samus was featured in a series of comic books called Captain N: The Game Master, published by Valiant Comics in 1990, based on the animated series of the same name, despite Samus never appearing in the cartoon version. In the comics, Samus is depicted as brash, money-hungry, and fiercely independent.[14] An article at describes Samus in the Captain N comics as "rambunctious, reckless, and gets into pissing contests with Lana over Kevin's affections, which makes for some of the most entertaining situations in the series". The reviewer added, "Not to say that the deadly quiet, contemplative Samus who fights for truth and justice in the more recent Metroid games isn't awesome, but there's something compelling about a Samus who's greedy and conniving—and is proud to admit it."[15]

Comic book and manga adaptations of Metroid games were also developed.[10][16][17] Samus is a playable character in all three games in the Super Smash Bros. series of multiplayer fighting games, where she can use her array of weapons in combat against characters from other video games.[18][19] Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) also features an alternate form of Samus called Zero Suit Samus, in which the heroine loses her Power Suit and has a different set of movements and attacks. She also stars in the Subspace Emissary fighting R.O.B. with Pikachu.[20] Samus also cameos in the Galactic Pinball (1995), Super Mario RPG (1996), Kirby Super Star (1996),[18] and Kirby's Dream Land 3 (1997) video games.[21] Samus also makes a non-playable appearance in the Nintendo 3DS game Dead or Alive: Dimensions (created by Metroid: Other M co-developers Team Ninja).[22]

Samus also appeared in an episode of MAD.


Samus has been generally well-received by video gamers. Paul O'Connor, the lead game designer for Sammy Studios and a fan of the Metroid series, described Samus as a "quiet and mysterious presence in Metroid Prime".[23] While playing Metroid Prime, he felt a connection with Samus after sharing her exploration of an alien world and the catastrophe it experienced. O'Connor commented that curiosity about the unknown is a human trait, remarking that players empathize and identify with Samus because she is often rewarded for indulging in her curiosity.[23] IGN remarked that Samus has a cult following greater than most other female video game characters.[18] In the book Videogames and art, Andy Clarke notes that in the original game, Metroid, the player is not briefed on Samus's past or future; the only interaction that they have with the character is by being her through gameplay, while bits of information can be gleaned from the handbook and through concept art. Clarke remarks, "Samus is very rare for the character intimacy gained solely through game play and for her stasis and then drastic change," referring to the revelation that she is female.[24]

On IGN, Samus was chosen as the most requested character who should have her own movie franchise by the website's users. The website remarked that her tragic past makes her a perfect candidate for a movie, especially the loss of both her parents to the Space Pirates. Among their list of voted characters, IGN considered Samus to be the video game character that "could lead the pack of video game adaptations that actually manage to live up to the source material".[25] The website believed that Samus's theme song should be "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" by Aerosmith because she "spends her time running around in a manly battle suit blasting first and taking names later".[26] Samus's popularity led to a toy line; First 4 Figures, a United Kingdom-based toy company, built 2,500 Varia Suit Samus figures, selling all of them.[27] Nintendo Power listed Samus as their third favourite hero, citing her bravery in the face of dangerous situations.[28] Samus ranked fifth on GameDaily's Top 10 Smash Bros. Characters list.[29] In his review of Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, Former GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann called Samus one of the characters that made Nintendo "what it is today".[30] IGN ranked Samus as the third-best character for Super Smash Bros.[31] Samus appeared in multiple GameFAQs "Character Battle" contests, winning the "Character Battle V" in 2006.[32] GameSpot featured her in their poll "All Time Greatest Game Hero".[33]

Samus's portrayal in Metroid: Other M was heavily criticized by many. Unlike other Metroid games, where Samus took full advantage of weapons and abilities available, she deactivated most of them until Commander Adam Malkovich authorized their use, despite obvious uses for them. For example, she did not turn on her heat-resistant Varia Suit, which would have let her avoid taking damage from high-temperature rooms, until Adam approved it after she had gone through multiple such rooms.[34][35] The justification given was a fear of the destructive power of her weapons, particularly her Power Bombs, but this did not explain the disabling of purely defensive parts such as the Varia Suit.[36] This degree of subservience by a woman to a man was taken by some as a "sexist" portrayal.[37] Samus's implied feelings for Adam, combined with her looking to him as "a father figure",[38] made for the perception of an Electra complex. Abbie Heppe wrote that Samus "cannot possibly wield the amount of power she possesses unless directed to by a man", though she also went as far to criticize people who liked the game stating she would never talk to a person who liked the game ever again.[37] She later retracted her statement after heavy criticism. The Onion's David Wolinsky echoes the misgivings about Samus's immaturity, petulant behavior, and misguided loyalty.[39] Game Informer listed her 1st on their list of the "Top 10 Dorks of 2010", citing her "lame backstory" in Other M.[40]

Not all opinions on Samus' portrayal in Other M were negative. An article on Koku Gamer titled "The Psychology of Samus and the Roles of Adam and Ridley" defended Other M Samus.[41]


A zoomed in video game screenshot of a woman in a bikini. The image is low-detail and pixelated.

Samus, when she is revealed to be female at the end of the original game.

As a female in a male-dominated role, Samus has been considered a breakthrough for female characters in video games.[10] GameDaily considers Samus the video game industry's "first dominant female, a femme de force that didn't rely on a man to save her".[42] They also listed the discovery of her gender as the greatest moment in Nintendo history.[43] The Irish Times found it refreshing to learn that the series' protagonist, who is "well disguised under the suit of heavy armour", is female.[44] In the book Gaming Lives in the Twenty-First Century: Literate Connections by Gail Hawisher, Cynthia Selfe, and James Paul Gee, they wrote that Samus is perhaps the most nonsexualized female video-game character ever,[45] a belief shared by Steve Rabin, who in Introduction to Game Development also considers Samus as one of Nintendo's most popular video game mascots.[46] Justin Hoeger wrote in The Sacramento Bee: "Unlike most other female video game characters, Samus isn't some husky-voiced bimbo in tight leather included only for sex appeal. Samus is tough, silent, heavily armed and spends most of her time in a bulky suit of high-tech Power Armor."[47] She was listed on GameDaily's list of hottest blondes in video games, described as both one of Nintendo's most famous protagonists as well as a "curvaceous, drop-dead-gorgeous woman".[48]

The Toronto Star argued that the sexual politics surrounding Samus and the Metroid series needed to stop, as they considered it unwarranted. They remarked that although Samus is female, it is not a significant characteristic after considering the fact that she spends most of her time in a suit of armor that "precludes creepy ogling".[49] The newspaper believed that the "big crazy shock to the gaming public" that followed after Metroid revealed that Samus is female was "some seriously misspent energy [...] Metroid Prime's heroine is not a woman for the benefit of the sweaty/excited crowd, and neither is she a standard-bearer nor a courageous leader in the struggle for video game civil rights. She is a supremely talented action figure, and in the closeups on her helmet you can kind of see that she wears mascara, but that is all."[49] Rupert Goodwins of The Independent wrote, "Samus Aran [...] is apparently female, although the Transformer-like suit she wears could just as easily contain a large centipede; it's hardly a breakthrough for feminism."[50]

GameDaily ranked Samus seventh on a list of the Top 50 Hottest Game Babes, describing her as "a refreshing change of pace, a tough, no nonsense warrior that isn't afraid to remove her famous orange and yellow power suit and let her hair down, especially to reveal her skin tight clothing".[51] The website also ranked her number one on a list of the Top 25 Nintendo Characters of All Time.[52] In another article, they listed the "smart and sexy heroine" archetype as one of their Top 25 Video Game Archetypes, using Samus as an example.[53] ranked Samus 11th on a list of the Top 11 Girls of Gaming,[54] eighth on a list of the Top 50 Hottest Sci-Fi Girls,[55] and twentieth in a list of Top 100 Heroes of All-Time.[56] The website noted that the original "jaw-dropping moment" was when Samus was revealed to be a woman in the original Metroid,[57] a moment which Game Informer considers to be the greatest twist in video games.[58] GameTrailers named Samus number one on a list of the Top Ten Women of Gaming,[59] and number three among Axe's Top Ten Gamer Babes.[60]


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  34. Harris, Craig (2010-08-27). "Metroid: Other M Review". IGN. Retrieved 2010-10-23. "But it's in the way the classic Metroid element of acquiring powers has been implemented in Other M that nags at me. In pretty much every Metroid game developed since its creation, players earn abilities as they go along – item pick-ups give Samus capabilities that enable players the opportunity to access areas that were once blocked off. The way it's written in Metroid: Other M is that Samus has all these features from the start. She decides, out of respect to the commanding officer Adam Malkovich, to deactivate everything and only reactivate them when he gives the OK. While the writers were probably patting themselves on the back for coming up with this plot device, it does not work in the context of the gameplay. You'll frequently encounter doors that can only be opened with a Super Missile, but Samus respects Adam too much to fire one to open up a chamber? Puh-lease. And when you wander into the dangerous and hot lava chambers, you wonder why it's taking Adam so long to give you the thumbs up to activate your Varia Suit function so that you don't take damage from the heat. There is a a story payoff towards the end for Samus' subserviency but it doesn't make up for the absurdity of Samus being somewhat of a mindless drone and refusing to activate her normal functions simply because Adam didn't say it was OK. It also muddies what used to be a big event in a Metroid game. Acquiring skills always felt like a huge prize, but in Metroid: Other M it just feels like a casual occurrence." 
  35. Project M. Metroid: Other M. (Nintendo). Wii. (2010-08-31) "Adam Malkovich: "Samus. Start by searching areas you can access with your current equipment. We'll determine weapon and equipment authorization after we get a better understanding of the situation.""
  36. Project M. Metroid: Other M. (Nintendo). Wii. (2010-08-31) "Adam Malkovich: " Regarding auxiliary weapons, the use of bombs has been authorized. As far as your other weapons go, we will continue to investigate and authorize use as we can. However... We currently have no plans to authorize the use of Power Bombs. As you know, they have the ability to spread a high-temperature heat wave over a large area, impacting living things... which is a nice way of saying they can vaporize humans instantly. You should be well aware of how dangerous Power Bombs are and how their devastation can't be obstructed with common materials.""
  37. 37.0 37.1 Heppe, Abbie (2010-08-27). "Metroid: Other M Review". G4 Media, Inc.. Retrieved 2010-09-02. "In short, you're asked to forget that Samus has spent the last 10-15 years on solitary missions ridding the galaxy of Space Pirates, saving the universe and surviving on her own as a bounty hunter. Instead, Other M expects you to accept her as a submissive, child-like and self-doubting little girl that cannot possibly wield the amount of power she possesses unless directed to by a man." 
  38. Project M. Metroid: Other M. (Nintendo). Wii. (2010-08-31) "Samus Aran (Narration): "I felt that if I let my guard down, I would easily be broken. And beyond that, I was scared. But even in the naivete of my youth, I could see in Adam's joking manner how close he felt to me. Adam knows my past. And he knows me better than anyone else. Confession time. Because I was so young when I lost both of my parents, there's no question I saw Adam as a father figure. When I rebelled against him, I knew I could get away with it. And his paternal compassion in the face of my rebellion reinforced the special bond I felt with him. I understood well that chances were slim that I would ever find anyone that understood me like Adam. And yet... When the time came, I still left his side. I was so young. Young and naive...""
  39. Wolinsky, David (2010-09-06). "Metroid: Other M". The Onion.,44831/. Retrieved 2010-10-02. "From Doom on through Gears Of War, the term “space marine” has become shorthand for “ultraviolent gun-toting dude with a veiny neck as thick as a sequoia trunk.” In finally giving intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran a voice, Other M offers an intriguing new wrinkle on the dusty archetype: She’s immature, which is infinitely more shocking than when she was first revealed as female. (As if her suit’s giant ’80s-appropriate shoulder pads weren’t a dead giveaway?) It might not sound like a big deal, but Other M focuses on Samus almost to the point of being a character study. In her many internal monologues throughout beautifully rendered cutscenes, the previously strong-and-silent Samus owns up to being petulant in her time with the Galactic Federation, to having misguided, unshakeable loyalties, and to dealing with daddy issues. The characterization is a bold move, and turns out to be just one of many in Other M that make for a memorable, courageous, but somewhat flawed Metroid." 
  40. . Game Informer. February 2011. p. 31. 
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External links

Metroid series:
By chronology: Metroid (Zero Mission) | Prime (Prime Pinball) | Prime 2: Echoes | Return of Samus | Super | Fusion
By release order: Metroid | Return of Samus | Super | Prime | Fusion | Zero Mission | Prime 2: Echoes | Prime Pinball
Upcoming: Hunters | Prime 3 | Dread
Universe: Samus Aran | Characters | Chozo | Gunship | Items | Kraid | Locations | Metroid species | Mother Brain | Ridley | Space Pirates | Luminoth | Ing | Dark Samus

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