In every version of his story, Snake-Eyes is quiet in his movements and is a swift and deadly master of multiple martial arts. He is an expert in the use of the ninjato and trench knives (which he collects). He usually carries them in pairs but often uses only one. He is equally qualified with and willing to use standard weapons like firearms and explosives. Making him even more dangerous is that he usually never relied on one set of weapons to the exclusion of others. For instance, in one mission, Snake Eyes is confronted by a ninja with a sai and he defeats him by simply throwing a standard grenade at him. Snake-Eyes did give up much of his ninja training in later issues of the G.I. Joe America's Elite comic series. (see below)
In keeping with his quiet personality, Snake-Eyes usually wears what could perhaps best be described as a black "military ninja" bodysuit, along with a balaclava and visor to cover his face, which was disfigured in a helicopter explosion which also left him completely mute. Since then, Snake-Eyes has had extensive plastic surgery to repair the damage to his face, but he still has a few scars left and might never speak again.
When shown out of his uniform, Snake-Eyes is around six feet tall with an athletic build, blond hair and blue eyes. He has a pet wolf named Timber that has appeared several times in toys, comics, and animation.
Snake-Eyes has been shown in many of the continuities of comics and animated series to at some point being romantically involved with fellow G.I. Joe member Master Sergeant Shana M. O'Hara, a.k.a. Scarlett, and he has several apprentices, including Ophelia (Deceased), Kamakura, Tiger Claw, and Jinx.
As of July 2008, Snake-Eyes has had 34 (33 as Snake-Eyes, 1 as Classified as his real name is still classified, and a re-release of the original with swivel arms) different 3 3/4" figures and at least 5 different 12" figures.
A common element in almost all Snake-Eyes figures is that his face is covered (except for the 2005 'Classified' series action figure, depicting him before he was disfigured) and he is both a ninja and a commando. He has been packaged four times with his wolf, Timber, and is most frequently paired with Storm Shadow when released in multi-packs or comic-packs. Snake-Eyes has been a member of several sub-lines of the G.I. Joe line, such as Ninja Force and Shadow Ninjas. He has also been released in several Hasbro multi-packs such as the Heavy Assault Squad, Winter Operations, and the Desert Patrol Squad Toys "R" Us exclusive. Snake Eyes' custom Kawasaki Ninja Lightning motorcycle has been sold five times at four different scales: once each at the 3 3/4" Real American Hero scale and the 12", with the remainder in the Sigma Six line (see below).
Snake-Eyes’s ability to quickly learn skills especially impressed Storm Shadow’s uncle, the Hard Master. Over time, Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow became sword brothers, and unintentional rivals for the attention and favor of the Hard Master, who liked pitting them against one another to test their considerable skills. Though Snake-Eyes often attempted to throw matches in order that his friend should save face in front of his family, the Hard Master was aware of Snake-Eyes' ruse, and knew him to be the true victor. During one of Snake-Eyes training sessions the Hard Master expressed his desire for Snake-Eyes to take over leadership of the Arashikage ninja clan instead of his nephew, Storm Shadow. Snake-Eyes refused, and the Hard Master continued with the lesson. It was at this point the Zartan mistakenly killed the Hard Master instead of Snake-Eyes. Zartan used an arrow he stole from Storm Shadow, implicating him in the murder of his uncle. With the death of the Hard Master the Arashikage ninja clan dissolved and Snake-Eyes returned to America, where he took up residence in the High Sierra Mountains.
Devil's Due Publishing also introduced new elements into Snake-Eyes' past during their Snake-Eyes Declassified mini-series. These changes show more of the motivation of Cobra Commander's attempt to kill Snake-Eyes while training to become a ninja. Snake-Eyes was revealed to have had a prior encounter with Cobra Commander (prior to him becoming Cobra Commander). Cobra Commander befriended Snake-Eyes and sought to recruit him into a plot to murder a judge. The judge in question had wrongfully convicted Cobra Commander's older brother of arson and insurance fraud, resulting in the ruin of his brother's life and causing him to spiral downward into alcoholism and ultimately the drunken car accident that claimed both his life and the lives of Snake-Eyes' parents and twin sister. Snake-Eyes agreed to go along with Cobra Commander, but at the last minute refused to go along with the plan. Cobra Commander would kill the judge and swear revenge against Snake-Eyes, resulting in him hiring Zartan (who in turn subcontracted Firefly behind Cobra Commander's back to pull off the hit) to kill Snake-Eyes while he was training in the Arashikage Clan.
Eventually, Snake-Eyes rejoined his other wartime buddies when he was recruited into G.I. Joe. Once on the team, Snake-Eyes became very close to Scarlett. On a mission in the Middle East, Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, Rock 'n Roll and Grunt were sent to save George Strawhacker from COBRA. On the way, the helicopter they were in started to have trouble and was soon going to crash. It forced the Joes to bail out, but Scarlett was stuck in the burning helicopter and Snake-Eyes stayed behind to save her. Snake-Eyes did save Scarlett, but a window exploded in his face, scarring him and damaging his vocal cords (carrying Scarlett out of the wreck of the crashed helicopter, his head is actually on fire). Despite his injuries and the warning from Doc that unless he gets medical help immediately he may never speak again, Snake-Eyes convinced Hawk to let him continue on with the mission. He did so "without even saying a word." His reason for going forward was that George Strawhacker was once engaged to his sister--indeed, no one other than Snake-Eyes might have been able to rescue him from the mission. Strawhacker never learned who the "scarred, masked soldier" who saved his life was.
After many battles with Cobra, Scarlett was captured by Storm Shadow before the famous silent issue, #21 Snake-Eyes rescued Scarlett and battled Storm Shadow for the first time since they had last seen each other. At first, Snake-Eyes was angered by his sword brother's actions, but he was eventually told the truth by Storm Shadow himself. After the Hard Master was killed and Storm Shadow was blamed by the Arashikage clan, he joined Cobra to find out who was truly behind the murder. After discovering it was Zartan who killed his uncle, Storm Shadow left Cobra and joined G.I. Joe.
Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow would soon team together for some of G.I. Joe's toughest missions, and the bond between them would be both strengthened and tested. In one of the series' most memorable story arcs (entitled the Snake-Eyes Trilogy) , The Baroness sought revenge upon Snake-Eyes under the mistaken belief that he had killed her brother in Southeast Asia. She captured Snake-Eyes while he was sedated (recovering from the surgery to repair his face) and shot Scarlett at extreme close range in the process (many feel that Scarlett could not have survived such a wound). Storm Shadow, Stalker and Wade Collins lead a rescue operation coming to the aid of Snake-Eyes while he had already escaped his torture (assembling a new uniform and weapons from those who had been torturing him in the process) and was conducting demolition operations against the COBRA consulate building where he had been imprisoned. After a second rescue mission for George Strawhacker and a run in with the Night Creepers, he is reunited with Scarlett. For the first and only time in many years, Snake-Eyes spoke Scarlett's name and Scarlet woke from her coma and ultimately returned to active duty.
As Marvel's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic series was drawing to a close, the final battle that many had wanted for years to see came to pass: Snake-Eyes vs. Cobra Commander. For this battle, which took place in issue #150, Snake-Eyes removed his mask and fought with all his might against an armored Cobra Commander, eventually defeating him. However, Cobra Commander would have the last laugh, as he captured Storm Shadow and successfully brainwashed him back to the side of evil.
Snake-Eyes and Scarlett would continue to serve G.I. Joe until its disbandment, and were present for that ceremony. When the G.I. Joe property was revived by Devil's Due Publishing, it was stated that the two left the military and became engaged during this period of retirement. But according to Scarlett, on the day of the wedding, Snake-Eyes disappeared due to him (according to Scarlett) being unable to accept the fact that marriage would mean settling down and living a normal life. This would later be further explored during Master and Apprentice. The two would not see each other again until G.I. Joe was reformed in 2001.
This series attempts to clear up a few loose ends from the original series, most specifically that Billy, Storm-Shadow and the Baroness were left under the influence of Cobra as a result of the Brain Wave Scanner. Snake-Eyes is on this mission to save Storm Shadow, and at the end of this series, it is revealed that Storm Shadow is returning to his ways as a Ninja, and will deal with Snake-Eyes when he is ready.
It is also revealed that Timber has passed away during this time period, but Snake-Eyes has a new wolf pup to look after in his place.
Because of this, on the day of his wedding and in front of his longtime friend and fellow Joe Lonzo "Stalker" Wilkinson, Snake Eyes gives his wedding ring to Scarlet and ends their relationship.
Snake-Eyes again goes into the wilderness where he is approached by Sean Collins, the son of Wade Collins, another Vietnam War buddy. Sean asks Snake-Eyes to train him as a new apprentice as a way to help put himself together after watching his crew also get slaughtered by Firefly on the night Ophelia was killed. Nunchuk and T'Jbang were again present, as well as Jinx, this time serving to assist in Sean's education of the history of the clan. Some time later, Jinx and Budo call Snake-Eyes and crew in to investigate new intel on the location of Firefly. He is working for the "Nowhere Man." Of note, while preparing for battle, Snake-Eyes refuses to take any military weapons (guns) and instead only takes Ninja weapons. It is discussed at this time Snake-Eyes has given up his military training to some degree because of all of the loss it has brought him.
Snake-Eyes confronts Firefly who is meeting with another masked ninja. It is then revealed that this ninja is Storm Shadow, who has just taken out Sean.
Sean was eventually given the name Kamakura and would later join G.I. Joe.
Later, after many skirmishes with Cobra, the return of Serpentor (in which Snake-Eyes was injured in a grenade blast, from which he quickly recovered), altercations with Storm Shadow, his triumph over the Red Ninja leader Sei Tin (which gave Snake-Eyes control of the Red Ninja clan), and a close-call defeat at the hands of the heavily armored Wraith, the team was reduced to a smaller unit, and Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, and Duke were in serious trouble. A shadowy cabal of influential generals, known as the Jugglers, had Snake-Eyes arrested. When Duke attempted to blackmail them into giving up their attempts to wrest control of G.I. Joe from the Joes themselves, he joined Snake-Eyes in prison. Secretly, however, Scarlett met with Storm Shadow (who had broken free of his mind control) and rescued them from a convoy, then escaping to Iceland as vigilantes and hiding out with Scanner until they could figure out what was going on.
Secretly, they were tailed by former Coil agent Overlord, who was working as a freelance mercenary for the Jugglers. Overlord fatally injured Scanner, and locked the Joes in a bomb shelter until Federal Agents could arrive, but Scanner, in his last moments, activated the Icelandic station's self-destruct mechanism, killing Overlord in the blast and saving the Joes, who were in the safe shelter. Days later the team were rescued, and came back to assist Flint, Lady Jaye and General Philip Rey in dealing with a new menace, the Red Shadows, while the rest of the short-staffed team cleaned up the Monolith Base victory in Badhikstan (where Barrel Roll recovered in a nearby hospital). When the Red Shadows attempted to assassinate Hawk as he recovered at a mountain camp, Snake-Eyes sent his apprentice, Kamakura, to save him, then joining him and getting Hawk to safety. Snake-Eyes would later put his skills to good use in fighting and defeating the Shadows before their plot could be set into motion (he even stabbed Wilder Vaughn, although whether it hurt the bio-enhanced Vaughn is unknown).
Amidst all this, Snake-Eyes and Kamakura travelled to Asia to assist sword-brother Storm Shadow in finding his apprentice, who had been kidnapped by the Red Ninjas. Snake-Eyes helped Storm Shadow defeat the Red Ninja leader, Sei Tin, but the mission was a failure. Snake-Eyes relinquished control of the Red Ninjas (which he had won before) to Storm Shadow, bidding him to start the Arashikage anew. Storm Shadow left his clan in T'Jbang's care.
When Vance Wingfield seemingly returned from the grave and, supplied by Destro, dropped deadly satellites onto major metropolitan areas with MARS equipment, the team scrambled to find answers. Snake-Eyes went his own way, not informing the team where he was going. Suspecting the involvement of the saboteur and explosives expert, Firefly, Snake-Eyes tracked his quarry to ground zero in Chicago, and interrupted Firefly attempting an assassination on a gang lord. A fight occurred, but more gangsters arrived and Firefly managed to escape.
Upon returning to The Rock, the newly commissioned Joe base, Snake-Eyes learned that Scarlett had gone missing. Snake-Eyes revealed that both he and Scarlett had implanted tracking devices in one another and that only they knew the frequencies. He input the code and was able to track her location and verify her vital signs, but found her to be in the middle of the ocean. The President wouldn't give their new commander, General G.I. Joe Colton, permission to launch a side mission with Destro still on the loose. The rest of the Joes (with the exception of Duke, also missing) agreed to accompany him on an "unofficial" rescue mission which they termed "shore leave", and Shipwreck lead them to Destro's titanic submarine, the Cataclysm. Together, Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes rematched against Wraith, but Wraith still managed to keep ahead of them, then disappearing into the shadows. Elsewhere on the ship, Destro assessed the situation, realized the Joes would again defeat his Iron Grenadiers, and escaped, but not before he ordered the giant sub be scuttled.
Snake-Eyes was killed saving the lives of his comrades in an attempt to rescue Scarlett (who a cold-hearted Destro had planned to use as bait for the Joes). However, the rescue was successful. Later, his body was stolen from the Joe headquarters moments after the team's return, and it has been revealed that the Red Ninjas were the culprits. While Scarlett and the rest of the Joes went searching for clues as to who stole the ninja master's body, the Red Ninjas used mystical arts to revive Snake-Eyes, who has now become one of them.
The Joe team faced a ninja in Red armor that looked like Snake-Eyes and were quickly beaten. Kamukura comments that he cannot be Snake-Eyes, but he fights identically to him. Storm Shadow, Stalker and Kamukura dropped into a sewer and chased the red Ninja. Snake-Eyes defeated them all, then engaged in a one-on-one battle with Storm Shadow. Meanwhile, it was discovered that T'JBang has had his mind "exchanged" with Sei Tin, thus explaining T'Jbang's evil machinations.
As Storm Shadow fought Snake-Eyes throughout the complex, Storm Shadow tried reasoning with his friend. Eventually, Storm Shadow held an escaped Scarlett at his swords edge, commanding Snake-Eyes to choose between killing him, saving Scarlett or remaining a part of the Red Ninja clan. Snake-Eyes responded by wounding Storm Shadow, but not killing him. This act has caused Snake-Eyes to return to his normal self, and he subsequently re-joined the Joes, though Storm Shadow is now healing.
Shortly after, Scarlett observes as Snake-Eyes, in a commando oriented uniform, tests himself in a training session, seemingly abandoning all of his Ninja training and focusing solely on his military training instead. Following the session, Scarlett unmasks Snake-Eyes and is shocked at the sight, exclaiming, "Oh my god...what did they do to you?!" It has not yet been revealed what the Red Ninja clan did to Snake-Eyes' face.
Later, Snake-Eyes reveals to Scarlett, who convinces him to tell Stalker as well, a secret that he learned from Storm Shadow: the Baroness is still alive, and being held captive within the Rock. After this, Scarlett, Stalker and Snake-Eyes confront General Colton on the validity of the information, and accuse him of lying. The argument comes to a close quickly as the team is then attacked by the new Phoenix Guard team lead by former G.I. Joe leader General Philip Rey. Colton mentions he has a place to go and hide, which Scarlett again accuses him of having more secrets. Snake-Eyes calms her by simply placing his hand on her shoulder. They then lie in wait where Kamukura meets them to tell them of what has happened.
The Joe team fights the Phoenix Guard and learn that they are in fact Cobra agents using Zartan's disguise technology, provided them by Zarana. The next day, Joseph Colton orders everyone on a mandatory four day break. Snake-Eyes and Kamukura go on a retreat to the High Serias, while Scarlett goes to Atlanta. While on retreat, Kamukura talks with Snake-Eyes about recent events, and tries to rationalize that Snake-Eyes could not have died, but must have put himself into a trance. He then argues that Snake-Eyes should not have give up his Ninja skills, and that he wishes to work with him to restore his faith. Snake-Eyes remains unresponsive throughout this conversation.
Snake-Eyes returns to active duty (still as a commando) and investigates a medical facility with Stalker and Scarlett, where they find a fatally injured Scalpel, who informs them that the Baroness is on the loose and will stop at nothing to have revenge on both G.I. Joe and Cobra.
Snake-Eyes is part of the team serving in various battles during the final twelve issue arc, World War III. In the the final issue, and part of World War III, Snake-Eyes comes face to face with Firefly. In this battle, he first uses a gun. Finally, he is convinced by Storm Shadow that he has to use all of his training to defeat his enemy. He picks up a sword and strikes down Firefly. After this, he and Storm Shadow attempt to take Zartan into custody for the crimes he committed against the Hard Master many years ago, but they are unable to capture him. Snake-Eyes is shown among the members of the fully restored G.I. Joe team.
During the assault on Cobra Island, Snake-Eyes gets a measure of revenge when he slices open one of Starscream's optics and shoves a grenade into the socket. During the final part of the first mini Snake-Eyes is given a Cybertronian-based Mech that allows him to fight the much larger Decepticons, as well as Cobra agents in Decepticon suits.
Ironically, the Snake-Eyes in this continuity was mentioned as being extremely talkative, to the point that Hawk sometimes called him chatterbox. However, in keeping with Snake-Eyes' character as being silent, it turns out that before Cobra's initial attack, Hawk makes a bet with his soldiers that Snake-Eyes can keep silent for the whole mission. The only sound Snake-Eyes ever makes is a stifled laugh.
Fans attribute the small role he played in this series to the idea that the show's writers did not have a "feel" for Snake-Eyes, and may have felt too limited by a non-speaking character. Also, his relationship with Scarlett was never explored beyond the initial mini-series, with Scarlett instead having some interest in Duke. Additionally, his rivalry with Storm Shadow was nonexistent, the ninja instead picking fights with such characters as Spirit and Quick Kick.
He also appears in the opening title sequence where he knocks a Cobra trooper out of a trouble bubble that he then uses against Cobra, and later is in place for Alpine to hook on for a ride. Snake-Eyes inexplicably ends up on the base of the Statue of Liberty attacking other Cobras near the end of this introduction, and at the end is shown in the crowd with the rest of the team.blood brother, Storm Shadow, who now was a member of the G.I. Joe Ninja Force. Snake-Eyes was shown more in this series as a ninja, but little more of his origins or his relationships were explored before this series ended.
During a battle in the fourth episode, Reveal, of the first season, Storm Shadow said, "What's the matter, Snake-Eyes? Getting tired? Face it, you're past your prime." This may indicate that Snake-Eyes is older than Storm Shadow or that he was simply experiencing fatigue from battling the COBRA B.A.T.s for quite a considerable amount of time. While the A Real American Hero cartoon series never showed Snake-Eyes's true face, the Sigma 6 continuity took some visual cues from the A Real American Hero comics. In one episode when Snake-Eyes was fighting Storm Shadow, Snake-Eyes's visor partially broke and it appears that this Snake-Eyes has blond hair, blue eyes, and his face is not burned. However, he does have a scar near his eye as a result of a training accident.
In the season finale of Season One, it is hinted to some degree that Snake-Eyes has some interest in Scarlett as he goes out of his way to save her and put her out of harms way before moving on to complete his mission. Also, in the 3.5" toys, it is stated in two different battle packs that Snake Eyes and Scarlett are in some sort of relationship.
In the opening of Season Two, he meets Firefly for the first time. Snake-Eyes does not seem to trust Firefly, which is a good thing since Firefly is later revealed to be a spy. In the sixth episode of Season Two, Snake-Eyes faces off against a pack of wolves. After saving one, it begins to work with him, helping him throughout the episode. Although it is not named, it is possible that this wolf is Timber as it shares a physical resemblance to previous incarnations. This is supported when, shortly afterward, a new Arctic Sigma Six figure of Snake-Eyes was released with Timber, the figure's bio card describing the plot from this episode. At the end of the episode, the wolf is seen howling atop a hill near Sigma Six headquarters.
In this series, both Jinx and Kamakura serve as Snake-Eyes's apprentices and G.I. Joe reserve members.
Snake-Eyes appeared in the first issues as a cameo, but took center stage in issue 6, where he was paired against Storm Shadow. The main plot of this issue centered around Storm Shadow, who had won an elite contest for several years in a row. During the most recent, he stole a new Artificial Intelligence Tracking Device that could learn someone's behavior and predict future behavior, making attacks on people in power very easy. Snake-Eyes is sent in to stop Storm Shadow. Storm Shadow agrees that, if Snake-Eyes beats him in combat, he will hand over the chip and leave. Snake-Eyes wins the chip after an action-packed fight.
During this issue, Storm Shadow refers to Snake-Eyes as Brother, but nothing mores made of this. Storm Shadow breaks Snake-Eyes' headgear, partially exposing Snake-Eyes' face, which again is shown to be of a blond American. No scarring is seen at this time.
It has been confirmed that famed martial artist/stunt man Ray Park will play the role of Snake-Eyes in the upcoming Hollywood adaptation of GI Joe. Originally, he was to talk in the film, but Larry Hama was able to talk the film's producers out of it.