Sam Fisher is (or "was") an field operative of the "Splinter Cell" program for Third Echelon, a top-secret sub-division within the National Security Agency (NSA). Before becoming the first recruited member of the elite black-ops training program, Fisher was a originally a member of the U.S. Navy SEALs (serving in SEAL Team 3), DEVGRU (formerly known as "SEAL Team 6") of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the CIA's Special Activities Division (Special Operations Group). He is an expert in stealth and proficient in both armed and unarmed combat, specifically Krav Maga and SEAL CQB. He operates almost exclusively at night and always works alone in the field. He has at least a basic understanding of many languages including Russian, Korean, Arabic, Chinese, Persian and Spanish.
While on missions, he is in radio contact with his support team at Third Echelon: Director of Operations Colonel Irving Lambert, NSA Adviser/Field Runner William Redding (formerly Vernon Wilkes, Jr., and Frances Coen), and Technical Operations Manager Anna Grimmsdottir. He frequently jokes around with his team. His dry and sometimes dark sense of humor is his way of coping with the stress of covert operations.
Fisher has a low tolerance for bureaucracy and political correctness. On several occasions he openly disagrees with mission objectives, sometimes to the point of not fully complying. Despite this, he remains loyal and believes his work is for "the greater good." He possesses a high sense of moral responsibility. In one mission, Lambert orders Sam to leave two unconscious pilots at a crash site about to be destroyed by an airstrike. After Sam carries the bodies to safety, Lambert reminds him, "You don't even exist, Fisher. You can't get a medal for this." Sam responds by saying, "Medals don't help me sleep at night, Lambert."
After the events of Chaos Theory, Sam receives news that his daughter Sarah was killed by a drunk driver. He becomes overcome with grief, and is pulled out of active duty. Later, as part of Double Agent, the NSA staged a set of crimes so Fisher could go undercover as a member of a terrorist organization known as John Brown's Army (JBA). While working as a double agent, Sam starts to lose his sense of morality, and according to the player, he must choose to follow the orders of either the JBA or the NSA (or both).
After the events of Double Agent, Fisher is a wanted terrorist and a pissed off terrorist at that. Sam Fisher's daughter, Sarah Fisher, was killed at the end of Double Agent. In the newest installment in the series, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Sam plots his vengeance against his daughter's killer and will stop at nothing to get that revenge, even if it means going against the American government by whom he was formerly employed. Sam will be working alone at the beginning of his mission, but will be recruited later in the game by an underground Freedom Fighter cell. Fisher will not have his high tech gadgets and weapons that he had in the earlier installments, Fisher will start out with makeshift mirrors and other rudimentary tools of trade. The underground cell he is working for has the power to acquire these tools throughout the game. It turns out however, that his daughter is still alive and her death was orchestrated in order to uncover a mole in the system.
In Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Fisher is now the head of his own division called Fourth Echelon.
Skills and specializations
Fisher is an expert at several different hand-to-hand combat disciplines. Most notable is his knowledge of the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga under the instruction of Katia Loernstern at her martial arts studio in his hometown of Towson, Maryland. Krav Maga was developed in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi began teaching hand-to-hand combat to the Haganah, the Jewish underground army. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Imi became the Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the Israel Defense Force's (IDF) School of Combat Fitness. He served in the IDF for about 20 years, during which time he continued to develop and refine his hand-to-hand combat method in the IDF and is still in current use today. During his training in Krav Maga, Fisher has achieved the rank of 3B, which is the highest rank that that can be given to someone outside of the Israeli Army, unless they are granted a higher ranking by a master. The Idea behind Krav Maga is simple, counter attack or defend and attack at the same time. Attacking vulnerable points of the body, neutralizing the opponent as quickly as possible with lots of combatives also called retzev in Hebrew which means continuous motion, then escaping the fight.
Sam Fisher is perhaps best known for his three-lensed goggles. It is commonly thought that the glowing lenses would give away his presence, but in "The Real Sam Fisher Blog" it is said that they do not actually glow, they only appear that way in the game as a visual aid to the player. The goggles were originally equipped with night vision and thermal imaging, and later on a mode highlighting electromagnetic fields was added. In Splinter Cell: Conviction the goggles gains Sonar and with this Sam Fisher gains the ability to see through walls.
Fisher's main firearm is the SC-20K, modeled after the Fabrique Nationale F2000, full-auto assault rifle with sound suppressor. It is a bullpup rifle that fires 30 rounds of 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition and uses jacketed magazines. It features an M203-style launcher, and can fire ring airfoil rounds, sticky shockers, sticky cameras, and gas grenades. In Chaos Theory the foregrip, shotgun, and sniper attachments were added, but Sam was only able to carry two. The foregrip steadies his shots, but Sam temporarily loses the use of LTL weapons. The shotgun and sniper attachments are extremely effective, but are very loud and will attract unwanted attention.
5-7 SC Pistol
Fisher's pistol is the Tactical model of the Fabrique Nationale Five-seveN (renamed 5-7 SC Pistol for copyright issues, but later renamed the Five-seveN in Conviction). This semi-auto handgun holds 20-round jacketed magazines of 5.7x28mm NATO ammunition. Although both are suppressed, the SC Pistol is said to be much quieter than the SC-20K, due to the use of subsonic ammunition. In Pandora Tomorrow, the pistol is equipped with a laser sight. In Chaos Theory, the laser is traded in for the Optically Channeled Potentiator (OCP), a device capable of temporarily disabling electronics. In Conviction, Sam is given the USG (United States Government) model of the Five-seveN, which was equipped with an LAM (laser-aiming module) and a integral suppressor.
Beginning with Chaos Theory, Fisher adds a knife to his arsenal. It is a double-edged 5 inch blade with a groove known as a "fuller" to increase strength and reduce weight. He carries the knife horizontally at the back of his belt, with the hilt pointed to his right. Fisher uses the knife to cut through tent walls, disable equipment, break locks, and strip wires for phone and camera taps - as well as to kill people, if the player chooses.
Michael Ironside has provided the voice of Sam Fisher in every title up to and including Splinter Cell: Conviction. He was replaced, controversially to many fans of the series, by Eric Johnson for Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Ubisoft claimed they required an actor that could not only voice Fisher, but provide the facial and performance capture for the character moving forward.