Tunnel Rat is the code name for Nicky Lee. Tunnel Rat is of Trinidad/Chinese heritage, but his bloodline also boasts traces of Irish, Spanish and Indian. Born and bred in the streets of Brooklyn, New York, Nicky left civilian life behind and enlisted in the United States Army where he underwent Ranger training at Fort Benning. As an explosives ordnance disposal specialist he went on countless secret missions before joining the G.I. Joe team. He holds the rank of sergeant E-5. His primary MOS is Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) and his secondary MOS is Combat Engineer.
Growing up on the streets of New York, Tunnel Rat got into many street fights against some very tough opponents. He used this as training while growing up and developed excellent hand to hand combat skills that would be valuable in his tunnel missions where there wasn't a lot of room to maneuver.
Tunnel Rat was created for the Hasbro G.I. Joe toy line in 1987. His story and character were written by Larry Hama in Marvel's series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Nicky Lee's looks are based on Larry Hama.
A traditionalist, he travels light--as squeezing through tight spaces with heavy artillery is nigh impossible. He enjoys it really. A .45 handgun, a trench knife, and flashlight is all he needs to get any job done. Nicky gained his nickname by volunteering to be point man on tunnel missions. Nicky developed the philosophy "Whatever doesn't kill me, makes me stronger".
In G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, Tunnel Rat's character is changed to become lazy and will eat anything including live bugs. His equipment is also updated to portable high tech devices but his specialty in infiltration and explosives remains the same.
Later in G.I. Joe: Resolute, Tunnel Rat is given a cocky attitude and a gung-ho personality.
Major Story Arcs
Tunnel Rat appeared in several G.I. Joe television series. His first TV series appearance was on G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 and was voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas. His character resembled nothing of the comic book version. He later appeared in the G.I. Joe: Renegades television series voiced by Matthew Yang King. His origin was changed to Chinese-American and he no longer hailed from Brooklyn. His speciality is no longer EOD, but now is the team's medic.
Tunnel Rat appeared in G.I. Joe: The Movie as a member of The Rawhides; a group of G.I. Joe rookies who try to run missions on their own through the movie. He was voiced by Laurie Faso. Tunnel Rat also appears in G.I. Joe: Resolute voiced by Eric Bauza. He is also set to appear in the upcoming 2013 live-action movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation played by Eddie Hargitay. Tunnel Rat was also a character in the direct-to-video CGI videos G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom and G.I. Joe: Spy Troops.
Tunnel Rat appears in the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra video game as a non-playable character.
Tunnel Rat is a character in the G.I. Joe novel Fool's Gold.
The first release of the character Tunnel Rat in the Hasbro toy line was in 1987. In 1988, Tunnel Rat was released in a two-pack with Psyche-Out as a member of the Night Force. In 1990, Tunnel Rat was released in the Sonic Fighters set. All characters in this sub-set came with a large back pack that could play four different electronic sounds. He would later be packaged with Flint, Hawk and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #76 in a comic combo pack. He was also released in toy lines for the G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom and G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra movies.