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As Fox's father, James McCloud has had a significant role in the games as a supporting or playable character. James has, temporarily, returned on occasion, to help his son and his friends in their time of need.

Starfox1993
StarFox045

In the original Star Fox SNES game, no direct reference is made to Fox's father or his name, although General Pepper does vaguely lament that the Black Hole is the last place anyone had seen him alive. In reality, the Black Hole is a warp point in the Lylat System, so the exact details behind the disappearance of Fox's father is uncertain, but General Pepper is certain that the space grave yard was the result of Andross's experiments which does make the ape emperor responsible for the fate of Fox's father, which is the widely accepted outcome in later games.

Star Fox 64 logo
Original star fox team

In Star Fox 64, James is present in the games's backstory where he is armed with a blaster. If the route taken leads to Venom 1 rather than Venom 2, however, there will be more references to James' death. When doing the Bolse mission with Star Wolf's arrival, Pigma, when giving his entry transmission, will taunt "Daddy screamed REAL good before he died!" (although he only says the "died" part if Andrew Oikonny isn't present, as otherwise Andrew Oikonny will cut in; also, in the Japanese version, Pigma's taunt was a lot more explicit, as he tells Fox that James McCloud was waiting for the latter in Hell.). While Fox is traversing the base's tunnel and is about to face the Andross decoy, Andross will taunt "You will die just like your father!" The Japanese Star Fox 64 manual also uses more explicit wording to refer to James' doom.

Taking the route to Venom via Bolse frequently implies that James is deceased, such as taunts from Pigma and Andross. However, taking the route to Venom via Area has James appear to help save his son from an explosive doom. After battling and destroying Andross's true form, the screen will fade out into a blank white picture. Seconds later James will report in on the Communications channel to tell Fox: "Don't ever give up, my son." The game will then cut to Fox's Arwing following James's Arwing to escape from Andross's collapsing palace. The player cannot interact with James' Arwing during the escape sequence, but will need to closely follow James's Arwing and take the same routes, or else taking the wrong route will lead to an instant death. Once the long slow flight out of the entrance is over, James remarks that "You've become so strong, Fox." before his ship vanishes. After reaching Venom's orbit, Fox takes one last look for what appeared to be his long lost father, but responds to Peppy's concerns with hidden disappointment that "Nothing… nothing's wrong" (In the Japanese version of this scene, Fox's tone indicated that he was holding back tears as he said this). When speaking on the Communications channel, James now has a tear in his left ear, suggesting possible torture during his capture by Andross.

Strategy Guide description

Once the leader of the Star Fox team, James was betrayed by Pigma Dengar on Venom. His son, Fox, can't believe that his father is truly gone.
—Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 9.

Star Fox Adventures

In Star Fox Adventures, James somehow contacted his son again during Fox's mission to save Dinosaur Planet from destruction, due to dialog heavily implied belonging to James can be seen if the player collects the optional Cheat Tokens from various hidden Scarab Wells and drops them within the Game Well Maze. The third token gives the line: "I can see you have matured into a strong leader. I am always there with you. Never give up... Trust your instincts... My son...". It is possible that the other Cheat Tokens are messages from James, though this is the only direct indication.

Star Fox Assault
James McCloud Assault

James McCloud in Star Fox Assault.

While technically not a hint towards his being alive or dead, the Aparoid Queen mimics James McCloud occasionally, along with the other lifeforms infected by the Aparoids (Pigma, General Pepper, ROB, and Peppy), in an attempt to demoralize the team and convince them to surrender. This hints that the Aparoids might have come into contact with him at one point. It is also possible that the image of James was taken from the mentioned character's memories, since they all knew him before. Fox was almost taken by the likeness but Falco was about to mention that he was dead before Fox cut him off, angrily declaring that his father would have never told him to give up. Slippy then theorised these to be illusions due to the Queen using information she most likely learned from her brethren.

Note: In contrast to his earlier appearance, James is now grey fringed, is missing the Arwing helmet and his ear is not torn anymore. This may be due to the developer change.

It is implied in the ending of the Fichina mission that Peppy and Falco's conversation about being attacked by allies and how those with weak wills can easily be turned to evil (referring to the infected sentry bots that were encountered earlier) reminded Fox about his father as well as the circumstances behind the latter's implied death, as shortly after Falco and Peppy's exchange, Fox says "those without strong wills... allies or enemies…" in a state of deep thought, with Krystal asking what was up with Fox, with Fox admitting that the words simply reminded him of someone he knew before looking up at the northern lights.

Star Fox Command
James McCloud

James McCloud's pilot biography in the gallery.

James appears in the Venom Sea in the third ending (Dash Makes a Choice") in which his Arwing is located on-screen. Strangely, neither Falco nor Dash can see him, only the Anglar enemies and possibly Fox. Also odd is that his ship is a physical object, unlike in Star Fox 64. In addition, James pilots a newer Arwing model from Star Fox: Assault. This is because he shares the same statistics as Peppy, as well as the same character theme (which is a remix of the Aparoid Homeworld penetration and Peppy's sacrifice cutscene during Star Fox: Assault).  His quotes are spoken with ellipses, such as when his Arwing is shot down, he will respond with "Farewell…". The fact that his ship can be shot down is mainly for gameplay reasons, but may add more controversy over his presumed death.
SFCJamesMS

James will always appear in this ending, but under certain conditions (two bases cleared and no spare ships remaining) Fox will briefly acknowledge his arrival by saying "Dad?" Falco and Dash can't see him, however, so when questioned Fox replies with "No it's... it's nothing," despite the fact that from this point on James can be controlled. Another strange detail is that Fox will occasionally say "You're all over this!" when playing as James, though he does say this line for other characters as well.

After the battle, James says: "...Well done..." before he disappears once again. This is his only playable appearance in any Star Fox game to date.

Note: James returns to the character design he wore in Star Fox 64, including the Arwing helmet but his ear is not torn and he now wears a yellow scarf.

Star Fox 64 3D logo
StarFoxFounders

James appears in the 3DS version of Star Fox 64, filling the same role as he did before. The intro backstory has removed the blaster pistol he previously had in the N64 version, while the 4th image reveals him being ambushed by a fleet of Venom Fighters and Dragon Fighters.

Star-fox-zero
JamesMugZero

James McCloud appears in Star Fox Zero, appearing more prominently in the opening cinema where Pigma is shown firing his Arwing's lasers on James and sending him spinning. James also makes a cameo on a photograph inside Peppy's Landmaster, alongside his old army comrades General Pepper and Peppy, but the picture is torn in the lower right corner which is likely where Pigma would have been if not for his treason.

In the final battle, James McCloud led Fox to Andross, although he warned his son that it will be the point of no return beforehand. He later aids Fox in escaping from Andross, telling him he needs to return to his friends for their sake as he flies straight towards Andross. It should be noted that during the latter instance, unlike in prior entries where Fox is the only one who actually sees James at all, Andross is shown to be aware of James' presence in addition to Fox, as he explicitly turns around and yells "Curse you, James McCloud! Why won't you stay dead?!" shortly after James flies towards him. Fox ultimately capitalized on this distraction and destroyed Andross for good.

General Pepper, when explaining how Andross had access to teleportation technology and how Venom was sealed in an alternate dimension, implied that James McCloud had been instrumental in its sealing, which alluded to James McCloud's original backstory of being sent into a black hole with Andross having a role in that action.

Five years ago

James McCloud, Pigma Dengar, and Peppy Hare of the Star Fox team were sent on a mission to the planet Venom, where a twisted scientist, Andross, had been exiled years earlier. Upon their arrival, Pigma betrayed the team. Peppy barely escaped but James was never heard from again.
—Star Fox Zero.com

F-Zero series

Little-wyvern-1-

His F-Zero racer.

A human resembling James McCloud debuted in F-Zero X as an unlockable racer. As a direct reference, James dons the exact same clothes his Star Fox counterpart wore. His machine, Little Wyvern (#10), resembles the Arwing. His ending in the Grand Prix reads 'I drive like a sly fox' is another direct reference to his original counterpart. In F-Zero GX, more references are made as well. He is redesigned to have his hair spiked up in two different directions, resembling fox ears. He also mentions of a mercenary group called Galaxy Dog, another reference to Star Fox. James also mentions a son (though not by name) as his inspiration to participate in the F-Zero races. He also makes an appearance in the series anime in his self-titled episode which shows a flashback of him during his mercenary days. His partner went by the name of O'Donnell, an obvious reference to Wolf.

Ssb logo
  • Fox's fighter biographies in the instruction booklet and in-game gallery of Super Smash Bros. does not reference James by name, only that his father is widely accepted as deceased. In all Super Smash Bros. titles, Fox has an alternative green pallet swap, making him resemble James.
Super Smash Bros Melee logo
  • In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Peppy's trophy retells the story of Star Fox 64's opening backstory, where its mentions James and that only Peppy escaped Venom.
Super Smash Bros Brawl logo
  • James McCloud does not actually appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, although he was alluded to during the Lylat Cruise when Falco uses the comm link in one of the areas. Peppy will say "Never give up, trust your instincts", with Fox and Slippy recognizing the line, causing Peppy to apologize and mention he channeled James McCloud. This also references the fact that both Peppy and James McCloud used this phrase in Star Fox 64. Wolf's regular trophy states that his history of a rivalry with the Star Fox team actually began with James first.
Logo EN - Super Smash Bros. Wii U 3DS
  • In Super Smash Bros for 3DS, James appears as a trophy for the first time, based on his look from specifically Star Fox 64 3D. His appearance is taken from the in-game's backstory and his look the Communications channel, where he has the tear in his ear. His eyes are truly visible from behind his sun glass by rotating the trophy. It's info also relates to his unrelated look-a-like from the F-Zero series. The trophy ambiguously references that James was widely accepted to have died at the hands of Andross, a fact that still has not yet been clarified in the games. Wolf's trophy again relates to his relationship with James by implying that they engaged in battle after battle during a time when Wolf worked for Andross before his exile, which clarifies the previous game's information.

Trophy

Name How to Unlock PictureDescription
James McCloud Series Related
JamesMcCloudTrophy3DS

James McCloud's trophy.

Fox's father and the founder of Star Fox. He was betrayed by Pigma Dengar while scouting the planet Venom. James died a hero, caught in Andross's clutches. The F-Zero series also has a racer named James McCloud (also with dashing shades!), but Fox McCloud's dad isn't related to that human.
—3DS Trophy description (NA release)
Fox's father and the founder of Star Fox/ He was betrayed by Pigma Dengar while on a scouting mission to Venom. James died a hero, caught in Andross's clutches. The F-Zero series has a racer of the same name (with suitably dashing sunglasses to boot), but that James McCloud is certainly not of the fox persuasion.
—3DS Trophy description (PAL release)

References