Warning: Here be heavy spoilers. More is to come.
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Dr. Gordon Freeman
Education: PhD in Theoretical Physics, MIT.
Employer and Position: Black Mesa Research Facility, Research Associate.
Assignment: Anomalous Materials Laboratory.
Clearance: Level 3.
Administrative Sponsor: Classified.
Disaster Response Priority:
The main hero of the Half-Life
series, Gordon Freeman is, at the point where Half-Life
begins, a recently graduated scientist who is about half a hour late for an experiment, taking place deep within the Black Mesa Research Facility. If only he had known that it would soon become the least of his worries that day...
Finding himself at the ground zero of a disaster, trapped between an invasion of aggressive creatures from the dimension Xen and a shadowy military force that wants him and his colleagues dead, Freeman manages to battle his way across the facility in the span of two days, staying alive against all odds, aided by his HEV suit and staunch determination. He is eventually teleported to Xen, where he takes on the leader of the aliens, after which he finds himself face to face with the mysterious G-Man, who offers him a job.
Displaced by G-Man in time and space, Gordon suddenly finds himself in the so-called "City 17", in some undisclosed part of Eastern-Europe two decades after the events at Black Mesa. He discovers that Earth has been conquered by an alien empire called "The Combine", who rules their new colony with an iron fist, and he quickly manages to run afoul of them and is soon hunted by their military. But he also finds out that some of his old friends from Black Mesa has organized a resistance group that fights against the regime, and that he himself has become a revered and famous figure for the rebels due to his actions at Black Mesa. Together with the resistance fighter Alyx Vance, he ignites a full-scale rebellion against the Combine, and manages to bring down their central control-center on Earth.
In the wake of the overthrow of the Combine control, however, Gordon and Alyx, along with the rest of the rebels, soon finds themselves engaged in a even more bloody and desperate struggle to defeat the remaining Combine forces on Earth, and, even more importantly, preventing them from contacting the empire proper for reenforcements...
- Asskicking Equals Authority: By the time of Half-Life 2, he doesn't have any definitive rank in the rebellion, but he pretty much commands any rebel squads he comes across, who are all too willing to Zerg Rush a position if he so much as looks at it, all because he's good at killing things.
- Crowbar Combatant: Provides the trope image.
- The Dreaded: He steadily builds up a reputation throughout his adventures in Half-Life; by the midpoint of the game, the marines know exactly who he is and are actively hunting for him specifically. By the end, the Nihilanth is able to directly address him by name.
- Did You Just Kill The Nihilanth?
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. His reputation actually seems to do more work than him. He's pretty badass, but it was his reputation, not his actions, that caused most of the rebellion on Earth against the Combine.
- Famed in Story: By Half-Life 2.
- The Hero
- Heroic Mime: The whole time.
- Exception would be when he was breathing during the Black Mesa Incident, if that counts.
- In Half-Life 2, Gordon also utters mild grunts of pain sometimes when he's on fire or falls from leg shattering heights.
- Alyx lampshades it early on when they meet: "Man of few words, aren't you?"
- Icon of Rebellion: In 2.
- Implacable Man: Gordon Freeman didn't really mean to save the world by slaughtering hundreds of soldiers and aliens at Black Mesa. They were just in the way of the exit.
- Informed Ability: Gordon is a theoretical physicist, but the most technically complex things he does in the games are plug machinery in and solve rudimentary physics puzzles. Of course, his young age most likely means he only got his Ph.D. a couple years ago at most, so he wouldn't have had time to rise very high in the Black Mesa hierarchy before all hell broke loose. Barney hangs a lampshade on that in the second game.
Barney: Good job, Gordon. Throwing that switch and all? I can see your MIT education really pays for itself.
- Lightning Bruiser: He can take quite a bit of punishment, thanks to the suit, but can also run at ridiculous speeds and carry more firepower than the 82nd Airborne.
- Living Legend
- Memetic Badass: In-Universe and out!
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The entire Black Mesa Incident, duh! Well, all Gordon did was push the crystal in. But still, all hell broke loose on his watch.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: The Trope Namer, as described by the G-Man.
- Powered Armor: His HEV Suit.
- One-Man Army: While his suit is a big part of it (it gives him about 4 times as much health as a regular soldier when fully charged, can automatically reload his holstered weapons, and applies morphine and other assistance to keep him going at full strength even when badly wounded), it is still pretty amazing considering he is just a scientist.
- The best example is probably at the end of Episode 2. The rebel's main headquarters comes under attack from multiple directions. Dozens of combine Elite Mooks storm through the roof on dropships and set up numerous defensive positions, a bunch of Hunters break in to support them, and a dozen striders, each supported by 2-3 Hunters, start attacking the base. After the rebel personnel get completely slaughtered, they just send Freeman, thinking that he's all they'll need to repel hundreds of heavily armed and armored dark energy rifle wielding super soldiers, and a bunch of giant tripod death machines supported by dozens of other, smaller tripod death machines. They're right. Completely.
- Specs of Awesome
- The Voiceless
- Weapon of Choice: His trademark weapon is a red crowbar he found in a tool kit at Black Mesa.
- Alternatively, he's also depicted wielding a pump-action shotgun.
- From Half-Life 2 onwards, the Gravity Gun.
Education: 2 years Martinson College, Undecided Major.
Employer and Position: Black Mesa Research Facility, Security Guard.
Clearance: Level 3.
Disaster Response Priorities:
Preservation of research equipment and materials, welfare of personnel, and personal safety.
Voice Actor: Mike Shapiro (Half-Life 2 and Episode One)
The player character in Blue Shift
, Barney Calhoun was a security guard at Black Mesa, and arrived to his duties at the same time as Gordon. Unlike Gordon and Adrian, he was the only player character in the first Half-Life
not to have an HEV Suit, and the only main character to escape from Black Mesa on his own, along with a few scientists.
In Half-Life 2
, Barney, posing as a Combine Civil Protection security guard, saves Gordon from heading to Nova Prospekt. Helps Gordon in the Resistance movement in City 17, and for Episode One
, helps some of the residents evacuate. Last seen boarding a train outbound from City 17 by the end of Episode One
with the help of Gordon and Alyx, his whereabouts are unknown in Episode Two
Corporal Adrian Shephard
Training: United States Marine Corps, Special Forces.
Assignment: Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, Santiago, Arizona.
The player character in Opposing Force
, Adrian Shephard was one of the men in his unit assigned to Black Mesa to do a full containment, cleaning out the witnesses, and finding Gordon Freeman. However, his transport was ambushed and shot down before he was given his mission, which leads him to work together with Black Mesa's scientists and security guards despite them becoming increasingly distrustful of him as the game progresses. In some of his attempts to escape and regroup with any members of his team, the G-Man both helped and hindered him along the way.
He was ultimately detained by the G-Man in Another Dimension
at the end of Opposing Force
, now pending further evaluation.
Employer and Position: Black Mesa Research Facility, Research Associate and Hazardous Environment Supervisor.
Education: PhD in Applied Physics, Caltech.
Voice Actor: Kathy Levin
Dr. Gina Cross is one half of the protagonist team in Half-Life: Decay and a Black Mesa scientist. What happened to her after the events of Decay
Employer and Position: Black Mesa Research Facility, Research Associate.
Education: PhD in Electrical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon.
Voice Actor: Lani Minella
Dr. Colette Green is one half of the protagonist team in Half-Life: Decay and a Black Mesa scientist. What happened to her after the events of Decay
Voice Actor: Merle Dandridge (Half-Life 2, Episodes One and Two)
The heroine of Half-Life 2
, Alyx Vance helped Gordon Freeman time and again in his work with the Resistance. She also follows Gordon the whole way throughout Episodes One
Dr. Eli Vance
Voice Actor: Robert Guilliame (Half-Life 2, Episodes One and Two)
A major character in Half-Life 2
, Eli Vance is one of the survivors of the Resonance Cascade incident, a lead member of the Resistance, and Alyx's father. Also known to be a Harvard graduate.
- Ascended Extra: Remember that scientist in Half-Life 1 that sent you up for help after the Resonance Cascade and opened the door for you? That's Eli. Made more obvious in the Source, Fan-Made Remake.
- Artificial Limb: Eli apparently lost his left leg during an incident involving a bullsquid. He has a makeshift prosthetic now.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Distressed Dude: One of the major goals driving the plot is Alyx's quest to rescue her father, twice.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: When he saw Gordon and Alyx off at the end of Episode Two, he was killed by Combine Advisors.
- I See Them Too: So far, he has been the only character who has acknowledged G-Man aka "our mutual friend"'s existence to Gordon.
- I Want Grandkids: Hey, you can't blame him, considering the Combine's anti-reproduction suppression field in the past years.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The personal cutscene between Gordon and him in Episode Two pretty much made him admit he was doing oversight for the test leading up to the Resonance Cascade.
"When he came in, I knew I should have aborted that damn test. But I didn't. The whole world went to hell that day."
- Rebel Leader
A walking junkpile that moves like a robotic gorilla, but has an effective mindset of a dog, hence his name. Fiercely loyal to and protective of Alyx, and her friends by extension.
Dr. Isaac Kleiner
Voice Actor: Harry S. Robins (Half-Life 2, Episodes One and Two)
A major character in Half-Life 2
, Isaac was the man who recommended Gordon Freeman to Black Mesa Research Facility's Civilian Recruitment Division. Also a survivor of the Resonance Cascade incident at Black Mesa. Was also
Gordon's theoretical physics teacher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Judith Mossman
The other scientist at Black Mesa East, and is somewhat distrustful of Alyx. Also played traitor for Wallace Breen
, but after coming back to her senses, she eventually saves Gordon, Alyx, and Eli from him
near the end of Half-Life 2
. Was last seen with Resistance members tracking down the Borealis
, and got ambushed from the Combine before she could finish her message. She is still alive, whereabouts unknown. Her message was found by Gordon and Alyx, who were pursued by the Combine for the entirety of Episodes One and Two
while delivering it to the scientists in White Forest Base. She will be most likely seen again in Half-Life 3
Dr. Arne Magnusson
Voice Actor: John Aylward (Episode Two)
The manager of White Forest Base. Has a very distrustful relationship with Isaac Kleiner (well, they fought between each other for grant money). Later revealed to be the owner of a certain microwave casserole in the lounge of the Sector C Personnel Facilities in Black Mesa.
- Brick Joke: Remember the casserole you had the option to blow up in the beginning of the first game? According to canon, that just so happened to be Arne's casserole, and Gordon did in fact blow it up, something Arne still hasn't forgiven.
- Insufferable Genius
- Jerkass: Specifically created to be this to contrast with Eli and Isaac
- Remember the New Guy
Voice Actor: Jim French (Half-Life 2)
Very little is known about him other than that he's a Russian Orthodox preacher of questionable sanity who has taken it upon himself to clear his "flock
" from Ravenholm.
Colonel Odessa Cubbage
Voice Actor: John Patrick Lowrie (Half-Life 2)
A somewhat suspicious and supposedly British Resistance colonel, leading the New Little Odessa base along the coast. He only appears briefly in the 7th chapter of Half-Life 2, granting Gordon a rocket launcher.
- Call Back: After playing out his minor role in Half-Life 2, he disappears from the plot, and there is no mention of him again. Then, late in Episode One, three independent mentions suddenly turns up concerning him, first Alyx sarcastically claiming he is her father, then two rebels coming to the conclusion that he is an idiot, and finally a rebel who reveals that he had taken the credit for Gordon's work, and who turns out to be an admirer of him.
- Cower Power: When the base he has responsibility to lead comes under an attack threatening its very existence, no less, Cubbage sends Freeman to dispatch the gunship, while he safely hides to send a warning to another base, that mysteriously never reaches its destination.
- Fake Brit
- Complete with fake mustache. It's hard to see because of the low texture resolution, but confirmed in Raising the Bar.
- Miles Gloriosus: While there is no explicit mentions of his great military exploits, he does by no means seem like someone deserving a colonel title.
- Better yet, a passing comment in Episode 1 reveals that he took the credit for shooting down aforementioned gunship.
- Mysterious Past: The Prima Guide to Half-Life 2 states that virtually nothing is known of Cubbage's past, his name may even be taken from the outpost, the only thing sure is his cowardice.
- If Gordon uses the Combine binoculars overlooking the New Little Odessa, he can be seen talking to the G-Man.
- Rebel Leader: Although how significant he is doubtable.
- Small Name, Big Ego: It is staggeringly clear that he believes himself to be one of the great heroes of La Résistance, although he appears to be the only one with this view, apart from one rebel in Episode One speaking somewhat highly of him.
Griggs and Sheckley
Voice Actor: John Patrick Lowrie (Griggs, Episode Two); Adam Baldwin (Sheckley, Episode Two)
A pair of resistance members in an underground base, they help Freeman defend the base against an army of Antlions to protect the Vortigaunts while they heal Alyx.
Voice Actor: Mike Shapiro (Half-Life 1 and 2, Episodes One and Two)
A strange character, looking like a blend between a government worker and a businessman, who apparently has some limited control over space and time. All we know is that he's been observing the events of the entire Half-Life
series. And that he is possibly not entirely human. He apparently answers to some higher authority which he simply refers to as his "employers". He has, however, on a couple of occasions hinted that he does not necessarily obey these "employers".
Dr. Wallace Breen
Voice Actor: Robert Culp (Half-Life 2, cameo in Episode One)
Breen is the earlier head of The Black Mesa Research Facility, and was unnamed and unseen in the first game, where he is merely referred to as "The administrator". In Half-Life 2
, he is the main antagonist and the Combine's puppet ruler of Earth, a position he got after selling out mankind to them.
- Affably Evil: Breen's pretty well spoken and (mostly) calm for being a smug backstabber...
- Faux Affably Evil: ...but he's also cold, dismissive, patronizing, and arrogant. Though he often covers it with a veneer of concern, friendliness, and approachability — especially in his Breencasts — the underlying disdain and indifference, even towards his allies, is unmistakeable.
- Beard of Evil
- Big Bad: of Half-Life 2.
- Breaking Speech: He's quite found of these such as near the end of HL2.
Breen: I'd like to take a moment to address you directly, Dr. Freeman. Yes, I'm talking to you. The so-called One Free Man. I have a question for you. How could you have thrown it all away? It staggers the mind. A man of science, with the ability to sway reactionary and fearful minds toward the truth choosing instead to embark on a path of ignorance and decay. Make no mistake, Dr. Freeman. This is not a scientific revolution you have sparked...this is death and finality. You have plunged humanity into freefall. Even if you offered your surrender now, I cannot guarantee that our benefactors would accept it. At the moment, I fear they have begun to look upon even me with suspicion. So much for serving as humanity's representative. Help me win back their trust, Dr. Freeman. Surrender while you still can. Help ensure that humanity's trust in you is not misguided. Do what is right, Dr. Freeman. Serve mankind.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He was the administrator of Black Mesa before becoming the Combine governor of the Earth, and pushed for the risky analysis that eventually led to the disaster in the first game.
- Evil Overlord: Of City 17.
- The Ghost: In the first game, he's just referred to as "The Administrator" a couple of times.
- Hypocrite: In his Breencasts he says that "small minds" use the term "the Combine", and ostensibly eschews that label in favor of "Our Benefactors" and "the Universal Union"; but when you meet him in person he calls them "the Combine" himself.
- Killed Off for Real: As of Half-Life 2. Subverted as of Episode 1 he may have become an Advisor.
- Misanthrope Supreme: His motivations are a wee bit unclear. He did convince The Combine to enslave rather than exterminate humanity (and was afterwards named Administrator of Earth), but whether he did so for personal power, or because he really cared about humanity is left unclear.
- Narcissist: He's got propaganda posters of himself in City 17 and even busts of himself in some locations — including his own office. Then there's the fact he's got jumbo screens of himself talking plastered all over the place.
- Never Found the Body: We never really know what happened to him after the end of 2 when The Citadel is destroyed.
- Non-Action Big Bad
- The Quisling
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mildly. He's very eloquent and likes to use fancy or obscure synonyms for common words. It's like he reads thesauruses in his spare time.
- Smug Snake: Things escalate beyond his control rather quickly.
- Sophisticated as Hell: His speech is normally so impeccably erudite, that the one time he swears, it's glorious.
- Villainous Breakdown: He becomes increasingly impatient and childish as Gordon Freeman kills off his soldiers and starts a rebellion. When Gordon invades the Citadel, Breen goes from first trying browbeating him into surrendering, to frantically, but still condescendingly trying to reason with him, and finally he starts outright begging for him to stop. Later, while trying to escape via teleport, he resorts to juvenile taunting and mockery — then goes back to begging when it becomes clear that Gordon's not playing around.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Judging by the events of the Seven Hour War, he managed to stave off extinction. It was either Death or A Fate Worse Than Death. He chose the latter. Breen might honestly believe that the Combine will elevate humanity to the next level, though he has turned a blind eye to Transhuman Treachery by the Combine, and his behavior behind closed doors suggests that he may be in this purely for the power.
- Wicked Cultured: He shows a mild example of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, and makes reference to advanced physics notions several times, but we're not sure exactly what his Morally Ambiguous Doctorate is actually in. In any case, everything about him, from his way of speaking to his bearing and his dress, screams "scholarly and cultured".
The Combine, a.k.a. The Universal Union
A powerful trans-dimensional alien empire, they conquered the Earth and are the main antagonists in Half Life 2 and its episodes, as well as the whole series, as the Nihilanth was on the run from them. Their occupation force on Earth, the Overwatch, consists of a portion of their transhuman forces (modified humans using human vehicles and weapons), and "Synths", aliens who have been modified and outfitted with cyborg attachments and pulse weaponry.
A mysterious alien race from the other dimension, they only appear in Opposing Force
, where their invasion is repelled by Adrian Shepard and his men, and is finally ended when the US government nukes Black Mesa. Their main soldiers are "Shock Troopers", but they also have creatures such as a giant worm that shoots lasers and a small, fast poultry-like creature that attacks with scythe-like claws.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Opposing Force reveals that US Black Operations and Race X (led by the Gene Worm) were also largely responsible for the events of the first game. The HECU, on the other hand, were just doing whatever they needed to do to stop the invasion and survive the Black Ops onslaught.
- Eye Scream: The way to defeat the Gene Worm.
- Made of Iron: The Shock Troopers take about twenty MP5 shots to kill, or just three Desert Eagle shots. That's twice as much as the average human soldier.
- Planet Looters
- Shock and Awe: The aptly named "Shock Troopers", who carry a weapon called a "Shock Roach", a parasitic bug that shoots deadly electricity when squeezed. Also, the Voltigores, large creatures which shoots powerful bolts of purple electricity.
- Shrouded in Myth: You don't learn much about them other than that they want to take Earth's resources and that they are hostile to Xenian and US Military forces.
- Starfish Aliens: Especially the Gene Worm, a very large creature that shoots acid, and can teleport in "Shock Troopers". The manual for the game implies that the gene worm is several miles long and can suck the resources out of a planet, and that the creature you fight at the end of Opposing Force is just its head.
Voice Actor: Michael Shapiro (Half-Life 1)
The ruler of the Xen aliens and the main antagonist of The first Half Life (and by extension, Blue Shift
and part of Opposing Force
). His race was under severe threat from the Combine, being hunted to near extinction. Some time prior to the first game, he enslaved the Vortigaunts, who were further pursued by the Combine. To escape them, he and the Vortigaunts fled to the border world, Xen, where they set up shop. Still desperate, he used the Resonance Cascade to launch an invasion of Earth, and despite the Black Mesa's scientists' best efforts to plug the rift between the dimensions, he was able to use his psychic powers to force it to stay open. His forces had success with pushing back the HECU, but his invasion was ended when the Black Ops nuked Black Mesa and Gordon Freeman traveled to Xen and killed him, finally closing the hole in the dimensions.
The HECU (Hazardous Environment Combat Unit)
Voiced by: Mike Shapiro and Harry Robins (Half-Life 1)
The special forces unit who was sent to Black Mesa to clear up the aliens, it is soon discovered that they are also under orders to silence all the Black Mesa personnel...with bullets. They end up having to pull out, leaving behind dozens of their own troops in the process, while the Black Ops took over the operation.
- Artificial Brilliance: They were praised as being the first tactically intellegent enemies in video games.
- Badass Army: Consists of highly trained marines with a full repertoire of US Military hardware, including M1 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley IF Vs, Apache attack helicopters, and even F-16 fighters. Unfortunately for them, they're a mere battalion-sized unit facing an entire alien invasion. Not to mention Gordon Freeman.
- Band of Brothers: Subverted and played straight. Many soldiers throughout Opposing Force are shown to care for their squad mates, but the same can not be said for many other members of the unit, particularly the commanders, who abandon several dozen soldiers in their attempt to escape from Black Mesa in blatant violation of the "Never Leave a Man Behind" policy. In fact, two of the soldiers refuse to turn Gordon over to their bosses because they don't want to see him alive after he'd killed so many of their compatriots.
- Cavalry Betrayal: You rather quickly find out that they are not at Black Mesa to help the employees and especially not Gordon.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: The Opposing Force training level has one guide you through, quoting Full Metal Jacket the whole way.
"Texas?! Holy cow! You know what comes from Texas, don't you?!"
- Faceless Goons: The shotgun wielding ones wear balaclavas. However...
- Gas Mask Mooks: Most of them wear chemical warfare gear, such as gas masks, although the officers wear berets.
- Fiery Coverup: Their mission.
- Moral Myopia: Two soldiers that capture Gordon seemed rather outraged at him for killing so many soldiers, even though 100% of those guys were trying to kill Gordon.
- Retcon: Originally, they were only called "soldiers" or "the military". They received their current name in Opposing Force. In the original Half-Life, their helicopters even had a US Army logo on them.
- Given this, and some other facts (HECU grunts are recognized as marines, land vehicles have Army markings, the F16 is a plane used by the USAF) some fans have theorized that HECU is a multi-branch effort, like SOCOM in real life.
- More Dakka: Many of their weapons, such as the M249 and Flash missile launcher. Hell, even their standard issue sub machine gun has a 50 round magazine.
- Radio Voice: They spoke this way, and it sounded extremely robotic. May have something to do with most of their Enemy Chatter being Mad Libs Dialogue.
- Semper Fi
- Sociopathic Soldier: A few of them seem to take joy in killing innocent scientists.
"I've killed twelve dumbass scientists, and not one of them fought back! This sucks!
- Suicide Mission: After the Marines evacuate, they leave several soldiers behind. These soldiers, despite essentially being doomed men, still fight on to kill the more powerful aliens and therefore prevent them from ransacking Earth. Especially noticeable in "Opposing Force", when the corpses of dead marines can be found in the area where you fight the pit worm. Also in the final boss battle, when the security guard tells Shephard that some other marines went down to fight the Gene Worm and never came back.
- The Engineer: He gets introduced in Opposing Force. While engineers are meant to fix vehicles, the engineer in Opposing Force is more useful for just opening locked doors with his blow torch and fighting with his Desert Eagle.
- The Medic: Another class introduced in Opposing Force. While he isn't very effective with his Glock 17 handgun, he is the only thing in the game that can heal your teammates.
- The Big Guy: Yet another class introduced in Opposing Force is a tall, muscular soldier toting an M249.
- You All Look Familiar: They had exactly four models in the original game, which just changed the head: the caucasian officer who wore a beret, the normal mook who wore a gas mask, the shotgun using soldier who wore a balaclava and goggles, and the grenade launcher using African-American soldier who wore no hat or mask, and smoked a cigarette. The latter was changed to simply being an African-American version of the officer with a mustache in the HD pack.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: They didn't think that their bosses would stop at killing the scientists because they saw too much, did they?
- White and Grey Morality: Their main job is to prevent an alien invasion, which means protecting Earth. Plus, it is hinted at in their conversations that they mistakenly believe Gordon (and by extension all the scientists at Black Mesa) intentionally caused the resonance cascade.
"So, who is this guy, Freeman?"
"They say he was at Ground Zero."
"Science Team? You think he was responsible, sabotage, maybe?"
"Yeah, maybe. But one thing for sure is he's been killing my buddies."
"Oh yeah, he'll pay. He will definitely pay!"
The Black Ops
A very shadowy unit sent to Black Mesa after the HECU failed their tasks, the Black Ops are there to remove everything
in the facility, including the dozens of HECU stragglers left behind. In any way possible.
Their purpose is only explained in Opposing Force
- Badass Army: See Elite Mooks. Also, the fact that they never make noise is pretty impressive when they're being shot constantly.
- Black Helicopter: They use black AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
- Cold-Blooded Torture: In "Opposing Force", after defeating a bunch of Black Ops in a garage, you find an engineer who is bleeding and mortally wounded. You have to bring the nearby medic to him in order to save his life so he can open a door for you. It is clear the Black Ops tortured him for information.
- Cold Sniper: Some of them have sniper rifles.
- Deus Ex Nukina: The way they eventually take care of Black Mesa.
- Doom Troops: the HECU may be a diverse lot, but these guys are a straight Legion of Terror.
- Elite Mooks: In addition to being completely silent, the male black ops they use powerful hand to hand moves at close range, run much faster than the marines, and have a little more health. The female black ops on the other hand prefer to flip and jump around wildly while pelting the player with pistol fire and kung-fu kicks.
- Faceless Goons: They all wear balaclavas, and the female black ops also wear night vision goggles.
- Lampshades in "Opposing Force" when one Marine refers to them as "masked freaks".
- Highly-Visible Ninja
- Unless you play on Hard (at least in the first game), in which case they have InvisibilityCloaks.
- Fanservice: The Female Black Ops had a very exaggerated breast bounce when they walked, never mind they wear absolutely skin-tight overalls.
- Ninja: They are ninjas in all but name, complete with silent, fast movement and using karate kicks and punches at close range. Even their uniforms◊ have a "kabuki stagehand" vibe to them.
- Radio Voice: Averted, even though you only hear them speak once (they're completely silent the rest of the time).
- Sociopathic Soldier: Unlike the HECU, played completely straight.
- Van in Black: Well, M35 truck in black.
Voice Actor: Lou Gossett Jr. (Half-Life 2), Tony Todd (Episode Two)
Parasitic alien lifeforms. Originally from an unknown dimension far from Xen, they were eventually brought there by the portal storms. After the Resonance Cascade and the following portal storms, the headcrabs migrated and set up shop on Earth. Their most notable quality is their ability to turn humans (and possibly other creatures) into Zombies by attaching to their heads.
- Body Horror: For unknown reasons headcrabs mutilate a persons body, possibly because as a parasite they are draining its "resources". Standard Zombies have their ribcages open like teeth and their organs are on display. The bloodied faces of the victims aren't much better.
- It gets worse with elite zombies. Fast Zombies look like all of the flesh save the bare muscle is gone and the poisonouis zombies have a smashed in looking "face" and a back that appears to have been eaten away.
- Butt Monkey: In a way they are this, even if they are creepy. They are usually getting obliterated by both Combine and rebels and even the game actively encourages you to kill them in "creative" ways such as throwing saws, using traps, or setting them on fire. Of the four factions competing for control by the end of Half Life 2 they are probably the weakest, with their only saving grace being their sheer numbers.
- Elite Mooks: In the first game, there were just basic headcrabs and zombies. The later games introduce new forms.
- Opposing Force has the gonome, a mutated version of the standard headcrab zombie. Not only does it have more health than a normal zombie, but it can throw some sort of projectile and sprint.
- Half Life 2 introduces the fast headcrabs and poison headcrabs, as well as their accompanying zombie forms.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Which causes Barney to refer to them as "head humpers".
- Fate Worse Than Death: Headcrab zombies can be heard crying out in pain, and playing their audio backwards reveals a large amount of dialogue such as "God Help Me! Help me!" or "Get it off me!" This heavily implies that headcrab victims are aware of what's happening but unfortunately there is no way to remove headcrabs without killing the victim.
- Fragile Speedster: Fast headcrab zombies are the fastest ones by far, and are arguably the most dangerous for this reason. However, they have no more health than a standard zombie, and so are only a big threat in large numbers.
- The Goomba: Both the zombies and the headcrabs themselves, with the former being almost a complete non-threat due to their slow speed, low health, and weak attacks, and the latter dying in one or two hits from just about anything and doing next to no damage.
- Mascot Mook
- Personal Space Invader
- Zerg Rush: Zombies are fond of this tactic in Ravenholm and City 17, post collapse of the Sector 17 Overwatch.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Can cause this if they show up in large numbers. See Ravenholm.
Large, insect like creatures that migrated to Earth following the portal storms. They seem to operate much like many Earth insects, living in extremely large colonies with other antlions. After the events of Half Life 2
, the street war between the Combine and the Resistance has caused a breakdown of the Combine defenses, and the antlions have started pouring in to civilized areas.
- Berserk Button: Don't mess with their grubs. Seriously, don't.
- Cannon Fodder: Antlion soldiers. The most commonly encountered ones by far, they pretty much just charge and attempt to bite/claw whatever is threatening the colony with little regard for personal safety. Good thing they're extremely numerous.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: Antlion workers explode when they die, shooting acid everywhere.
- Elite Mook: Antlion workers, which use their wings to jump around more often, have twice as much health as Antlion soldiers, and spit acid with deadly accuracy.
- Evil Versus Evil: Their presence is quite a help to the Resistance, as it gives the already overstretched Overwatch occupation force something else to shoot at.
- Giant Mook: Antlion Guards, which can soak up bullets and grenades like a sponge and punt APCs with a headbutt.
- Made of Plasticine: Antlions are the only enemies in Half-Life 2 that can be gibbed.
- Insectoid Aliens
- Zerg Rush
Large, stationary creatures that wait on the ceiling for prey to wander in range, where upon they grab their prey with their tentacle and pull it up into their mouth.
- Extreme Omnivore: They'll eat just about anything organic, from humans to antlions to birds. On the other hand, should they pick up something they cannot eat such as wood, they'll chew it a little, get frustrated and spit it out.
- Neck Snap: How they instantly kill non player characters in the second game. Freeman is immune, possibly due to his HEV Suit.
- One-Hit Kill: If they actually manage to bite you. Fortunately, this is ridiculously easy to avoid, to the point where you'd have to be trying to get eaten to actually get eaten.
- Overly Long Tongue: Weaponized, as they wait for prey to wander into their dangling tongues and drag them up to devour them.
The backbone of the Nihilanth's Xenian army in the first Half-Life
. The Grunts are tall, bipedal, muscular creatures with multiple red eyes, backward jointed legs, tube ears, vertical opening mouths, and an arm sticking out of their chest, similar to the Vortigaunts. They make up a large part of the invasion force during the Black Mesa Incident, where the Nihilanth's forces squared off against the HECU.
- Bee Bee Gun: Their weapon, the Hivehand, which shoots alien "thornets", which are less like bees, and more like flying, poisonous, heat seeking armor-piercing daggers of death that can find you anywhere
- Cyborg: Their armor and weapons look like they are surgically grafted on to their bodies, and the Grunts themselves are artificially created in a factory.
- Dumb Muscle: The Grunts only appear to be semi-sentient. They can operate weaponry, including their Hivehands and powerful alien laser cannons, and order around Vortigaunts, but not much else.
- Elite Mooks: They're much more dangerous than the Vortigaunts/Alien Slaves, the other foot soldier of Xen in the first game, due to their high health, heat seeking projectiles, and armor.
- No Sell: Shooting the armored parts of the Grunts will simply do no damage at all if you shoot them with a pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, or even an uncharged Tau Cannon. Oddly enough (and good for the player), their armor is placed just about everywhere but the Grunt's torso, the most likely place it is to get shot.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Continuing the Xen theme as seen in Vortigaunts and Controllers.
- This isn't all they share; like the Controllers, they also have the Vortigaunts' red eyes, vertical opening mouths, backwards jointed legs, hoofed feet, bipedal posture, two legs, and claws (well, on their third arm at least).
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family
- Organic Technology: Their main weapon, the Hivehand, mentioned above, is a textbook case. This trope applies to the Grunts themselves, as they are a....
- Servant Race: Towards the end of the game, you can find a factory run by Vortigaunts, with several barrels on an assembly line. Opening these barrels will reveal Alien Grunts- the implication being that the grunts are a manufactured species. This fits with the bio-technology theme of Xen.
- Super Strength: In various scripted scenes, they're seen doing things like prying open steel doors with their bare hands, or punching marines through walls.
The tanks of the Xen forces. The Gargantua is a twenty foot tall blue creature with an armored shell, two vestigial arms, two functioning arms, and one large eye. Their main arms have pincers that can open to emit jets of blazing heat. They only appear a few times, but you will
- Ambiguous Robots: Their seemingly metallic skin and built in weapons makes one wonder. They actually share a few traits with Combine synths.
- Cyborg Possibly. It does look pretty mechanical. Special mention goes to its built in weapons, glowing machine-looking eye that changes colors, and armored metallic skin.
- Death from Above: How one is taken out in Forget About Freeman; Freeman calls in an air strike on it, and the HECU aircraft, not knowing who sent the signal, are happy to oblige. Cue exploding Garg.
- Kill It with Fire: They have flamethrowers built into their arms.
- Made of Iron: Bullets just bounce harmlessly off their skin. It takes a TON of explosive or electrical damage to actually put them down, more than the actual M1 Abrams tanks in the game. Even more so in the modBlack Mesa (a recreation of Half Life 1 in HL2's engine), where there is absolutely no conventional way to kill them, even with all the explosives the player can carry; they can only be taken down with scripted sequences.
- Mini-Boss: They serve this role whenever they appear in the original Half-Life; they're very tough, and half the time are meant to be taken down in scripted sequences to boot, but don't last as long and aren't as powerful as the actual bosses, of which there were only three (the Tentacle, the Gonarch, and the Nihilanth).
- Natural Weapon: They can open their arms to release streams of fire/plasma/something that's powerful enough to actually reduce a human to Ludicrous Gibs rather than just burn them. They're also fond of simply crushing their enemies, or shooting a weird energy beam by stomping on the ground that can seek out targets and, again, gib them.
- One-Scene Wonder: When they appear; they are always solo. Pretty straight forward in Opposing Force however, where only one total Gargantua appears in the game; stuck in demolation cables on the hydro-electric dam.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning
- Walking Tank: Notable because they actually resemble a giant version of the primary Xenian heavy infantry unit, the Alien Grunt. Both are bipedal, both have backwards jointed legs, hoofed feat, red eyes, multiple sharp teeth, and two arms ending in weird hand-less ends that open up. See◊ for◊ yourself.◊ This the only real hint we get it in-game that they're part of the Xenian military rather than just wild animals... well, that and the fact that they don't attack sentient Xenians the few times its possible to get Gargs and Vortigaunts in the same room. The same doesn't apply for Xenian wildlife.
- Airborne Mook
- Dying Race: According to Marc Laidlaw, they became either this or just outright extinct after the death of the Nihilanth.
- Energy Ball
- Made of Iron: Despite being squishy looking, Controllers can take more damage than even the fully armored HECU soldiers, and much more than the Vortigaunts. This is likely because they have a weaker, invisible version of the Nihilanth's psychic shield, as they share many other abilities with him and do not visually wear any armor.
- Mini Mook: They resemble the Nihilanth in many ways, but according to the Nihilanth himself, they're not of the same species. They look like hybrids of Nihilanth and vortigaunt, so maybe they're an artificial crossbreed species.
- Mook Lieutenant: According to Laidlaw, the Controllers are basically conduits for the Nihilanth's psychic control of the Vortigaunts, and as a result are the highest ranked "generic" aliens on Xen.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Just like the Nihilanth, Vortigaunts, and Alien Grunts.
- My Brain Is Big
- Power Floats
- Psychic Powers: Similar to the Nihilanth, though much less powerful.
- Shock and Awe: Via ball lightning, unlike the Vortigaunts' charged beam.
- Ambiguous Robots: Similar to the Gargantua
- Airborne Mook
- Death from Above: Averted; they'll never attack targets on the ground.
- BFG: The powerful energy weapon they have built into their bellies, which in various scripted sequences is seen doing stuff like disintegrating rather thick rock formations and reducing an Osprey to scrap in less than a second of sustained fire.
- Final Boss: One is the final boss of Decay.
- Flying Seafood Special: Hence why they're commonly called "Manta Rays" by fans.
- Gentle Giant: When encountered on Xen, they're completely harmless, and are pretty much the only moving thing that WON'T attack you. On Earth, however, they act as a dropship for the Xenian forces and attack HECU aircraft.
- Lightning Bruiser: Can take as much damage as a tank and fly at speeds that at least exceed Mach 1, evidenced by the shock waves they create.
- Made of Iron: You only actually fight one once, at the end of Decay. It takes as much damage as a tank to put down, though that may just be its Final Boss-ness in action.
- Natural Weapon: A laser-like weapon built into their belly that they can fire downward. It bares some resemblance to the weapon used by Combine Gunships when spawned by the console.
- Teleporters and Transporters: They appear to have a teleporter built into their bellies, allowing them to drop alien soldiers from Xen.