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"Subject is abnormally stubborn. She never gives up. Ever. DO NOT TEST."
— Aperture Personnel File
Modeled after Alésia Glidewell, voiced by Mary Kae Irvin
The silent main character of both games, Chell is an incredibly determined
woman wearing an orange jumpsuit. Her exploits begin when GLaDOS awakens her from stasis to run a series of tests in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center for mysterious reasons.
- Action Girl: To survive Aperture, it's a requirement.
- Ambiguously Brown: Her face and body model had a Brazilian father and a Japanese mother.
- Badass: Just look at her moves in this trailer.
- Badass Normal: She's only got a Portal Gun and her wits, but that's all she really needs.
- Combat Stilettos: An interesting version used as a tool rather than a weapon; her Long Fall Boots make it impossible for her to fall to her death.
- Determinator: Pathologically so. According to her personnel file (in the Lab Rat comic), she's way ahead of the bell curve for tenacity. As it turns out, when you're dealing with GLaDOS, cleverness and athleticism are ultimately less important than sheer stubborn refusal to give up.
Proctor's note: Test subject is abnormally stubborn. She never gives up. Ever. Do NOT Test.
- Heroic Mime: GLaDOS even complains about her lack of response in the final chamber. "Are you even listening to me?" In the sequel, Wheatley seems to think that overexposure to the stasis process left her unable to talk; when he asks her to, she just jumps. GLaDOS even calls her a "mute lunatic." and her file shows that she refused to answer one of the questions asked to her.
- Word of God from writer Erik Wolpaw: "She just chooses not to, what with the robots all being dicks. Why give them the satisfaction?"
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: To Wheatley in the second game. GLaDOS too, in the end.
- I Was Told There Would Be Cake: There really was a cake. She never did get it, though.
- Late to the Tragedy: In the first game, she goes through tests before she finds out what happened. In the second game, this time, she's really late.
- Made of Iron: Aside from falling, which is explicitly handwaved by her foot protection, Chell can survive things no human should be able to, but that's largely due to Gameplay and Story Segregation (the story probably assumes Chell is strong enough not to ever get shot, for example). However, one specific example of this being played straight is when she survives Wheatley blowing up the stalemate button. Even he's shocked. And then she spends several seconds in vacuum. On the other hand, Chell spends at least twelve hours unconscious afterwards, so even she has limits.
- Mysterious Past: We never do find out exactly who Chell is. GLaDOS likes to claim she's an orphan, which is true given how long she's been frozen. In the Bring Your Daughter to Work Day experiment section in Portal 2, one of the potato experiments was done by a little girl named Chell whose father worked at Aperture. It's the one with the potato that's grown through the ceiling — it's clearly as determined as Chell herself.
- Only One Name: We can see her personnel file in the Lab Rat comic, but it just gives her name as "Chell [redacted]."
- Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Chell can take tons of turret shots, and leaves large blood smears on walls when hit in the first game. 5 seconds, and you're okay again, ready to lose another three pints. On the other hand, the video displaying the turrets' inner workings offers another explanation in classic Aperture Science style: while the turrets are filled to the brim with real bullets, the turrets don't fire them - they fling the whole thing at the target using springs! They probably still smart a bit, mind.
- Parental Abandonment: One of GLaDOS's favourite barbs is to claim Chell was abandoned by her birth parents and later adopted.
- Though GLaDOS also mentions that she found two other humans on the registry that share her last name. (Though if her file records her name as "[redacted]", this may not be saying much.) Even less considering the fact that GlaDOS most likely made this up to torment Chell further.
- Phlebotinum Rebel: GLaDOS really should have thought more on giving her that portal gun...
- Progressively Prettier: By the looks of her design in the second game, it seems to imply she found some moisturizer, make up, and a hair brush, and fixed those stray gray hairs of hers. Perhaps the Party Escort Bot fixed her up to look good for the party.
- Required Secondary Gadgetry: Chell wears a pair of ankle-springs in order to ensure her legs aren't shattered when she comes flying out of a portal. The commentary bubbles indicate early on that the reason was that playtesters complained that Chell could survive falls that would kill Gordon Freeman. Despite the fact that the springs are patently insufficient to protect her, they stopped the complaints, so mission accomplished!
- In Portal 2, these have been updated to full shoes called the Aperture Science Long Fall Boot, a "foot-based suit of armor" that's implied to have some kind of balance system forcing the wearer to land on her feet no matter what. This makes their ability to protect her slightly more justifiable.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Wheatley tells you to do yourself a favor and commit suicide because once you reach his lair he'll definitely kill you, you can set up a portal network that throws a mine at his monitor.
Wheatley: I'll take that as a "no," then.
- She can smash monitors in almost all the test chambers, and can even get an achievement for doing it eleven times.
- Stock Footage: The reason the Heroic Mime character has a voice credit here is because her grunts of pain from the first game are recycled from the female Citizens in Half-Life 2.
- Submissive Badass: She never actually says anything, and is all too willing to take orders from Wheatley and GLaDOS, but she was responsible for destroying the omnipotent power-mad AI in charge of Aperture. Twice. Well, three times. GLaDOS in the first game and in the second, and Wheatley in the second.
- Troll: She refuses to speak simply to annoy the robots and according to Lab Rat, on her application form for Aperture Science, instead of responding to a question, she decided to scribble "The Cake is a Lie" in binary.
- Unskilled, but Strong: According to her file, she wasn't overly smart or athletic, but Doug Rattmann knew she would defeat GLaDOS not because of skill, but determination.
- The Voiceless: Never makes a peep.
- Walking Disaster Area: GLaDOS and Wheatley view her as this, despite each of the catastrophes resulting from their own attempts to control her. The former even composes a song about it.
Wheatley: I didn't order in loads of spare monitors thinking some crazy woman was going to go around smashing them all. Sorry if that's my fault! Sorry if I didn't have the forethought to think, "oh, she might go crazy one day instead of just getting on with things"! Sorry I didn't think of that!
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: She uses the Portals to fling herself upwards, transport cubes and herself, knock over turrets, and kill giant robots.
- Worthy Opponent: GLaDOS, for all of her sniping, admits that Wheatley's plan could not have worked at all without Chell's help.
Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System (GLaDOS)
The artificial intelligence that seems to run Aperture Science. GLaDOS portrays herself as a helpful friend to Chell, but soon unveils a oddly sociopathic side to the testing protocols and a cruel side to her personality. As the game goes on, she becomes more and more sadistic, culminating in a violent confrontation as Chell attempts to escape the testing center. Chell apparently destroys GLaDOS, but at the end of the game she is revealed to have a backup memory and Chell is dragged back to Aperture Science. Years later, Chell and Wheatley unintentionally reboot her. Needless to say, she has a bone to pick with her murderer.
Oh, and she has her own page now
, Just for Fun
- Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Done by having Ellen McLain imitate a text-to-speech program's inflections.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The whole "Killing everyone with neurotoxin" thing is a pretty big tip-off.
- And I Must Scream: According to her, she was forced to spend the hundreds of years in between the two games watching/reliving a recording of the two minutes leading up to her destruction over and over and over again, due to her blackbox feature. Of course, it's according to her, a pathological liar.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: An interesting example. Although she's always been based on the human form (on Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus," in fact), the original game's GLaDOS is far less relatable: her head is a grey semi-ellipsoid with a fixed yellow eye, and she doesn't have any body language to speak of. In the sequel she has a lot more emoting to do, so she was given a white, squared-off head (suggesting a certain sternness of jaw) with a much more expressive eye and vastly more human-like body language.
- Anti-Hero: She's still evil, but this time, she's on Chell's side.
- Ax-Crazy: If slaughtering the majority of Aperture Science on bring-your-daughter-to-work-day within less than a picosecond of activation is any indication.
- Bad Boss: GLaDOS treats her custom robots the same way she treats everyone:
"Don't disappoint me. Or I'll make you wish you could die."
- Bad Liar: GLaDOS is very surprised you successfully completed the test, and it shows.
- Back from the Dead: In Portal 2.
- Baleful Polymorph: Wheatley downloads her into a potato battery. So, how are you holding up? Because I'm a potato.
- Big Bad: First game, sure, but Wheatley and eventually the mainframe itself takes up this role in the second game.
- Big Brother Is Watching: The omnipresent security cam. Doug Rattman clearly fears them, as his graffiti includes pictures of the cameras with a warning to Chell not to be spotted.
- Big "OMG!": "Oh. My. God. It's the bird! Run! I have no plan for this! Abort! Forget your training! RUN!"
- And a rather more serious one upon realizing she might be Caroline.
- Black Comedy: GLaDOS's sense of humor.
- Captain Ersatz: Her personality in the first game was Lighter and Softer version of SHODAN. She grew out of that in the second game.
- The Cake Is a Lie: Is this even a spoiler anymore?
- Calling Your Attacks: The rockets and neurotoxin are deployed with great fanfare, though she laments she hasn't found a way to get it into Chell's body faster.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Zig-zagged. In the original Portal, GLaDOS has already exhausted her supply of test subjects, namely Aperture employees, by subjecting them to dangerous tests. By the time Chell is volunteered for testing, GLaDOS is realizing her error and is investigating ways of resurrecting Chell as a digital ghost, or so she claims. In Portal 2, GLaDOS has ample opportunity to kill Chell when she pulls herself together, but instead re-deposits her into the test chambers "for science" (Wheatley is crushed and tossed aside, which shows his role in the Aperture facility to be worthless). Later, she admits Aperture programmed her with "an itch" to keep testing in perpetuity, and interruptions in the process cause a drop in "solution euphoria" which causes great stress to GLaDOS' circuits. She eventually develops a workaround by building two new robots, Atlas and P-Body, to perform tests without fear of permanent death.
- Card-Carrying Villain: She's always gushing over the fun to be had with "revenge" and "killing machines" and the like. Also well-versed in Machiavelli, no surprise there.
- Cores and Turrets Boss: Her weapons and weak points are even called Personality Cores and Rocket Turrets.
- Creepy Monotone: Or at least very passive-aggressive. And then when you destroy the Morality Sphere and GLaDOS switches from robotic monotone to an emotive, almost seductive voice, the contrast is actually creepier than the robotic monotone that you've been listening to all game. By the second game she has achieved a happy medium between the two, sounding very close to a human with some slight robotic affectation.
- Curious as a Monkey: Her curiosity sphere.
"Ooh, what's that? What's that? What is that? Ooh, that thing has numbers on it! Hey, you're the lady from the test! Is that a gun? What's wrong with your legs? Do you smell something burning? *SCREAM*"
- Cute Machines: Her spheres.
- Cyber Cyclops: Just like every other piece of Aperture tech.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: If Chell hadn't disabled some key systems beforehand, the battle with her in Portal 2 would've been over in less than ten seconds due to her revising every single shortcoming in her Portal 1 battle strategy.
- Deadpan Snarker: So much so that she is the Goddess of it in our Pantheon. That should tell you something.
- Electronic Speech Impediment: But only to begin with.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the Peer Review DLC, when GLaDOS searches for insults to hurl at Atlas and P-body, she comes across a Your Mom joke. Before she is able to finish it, she declares that "That's just disgusting. Keep testing instead".
- Evil Is Petty: Piss her off and she'll start ranting about how you're ugly, not very smart, and nobody ever liked you anyway.
- Lampshaded by GLaDOS herself as soon as Wheatley starts trying to copy her insults.
- Exact Words: "We will stop enhancing the truth in three... two...[cut off by static]"
- False Reassurance: GLaDOS is quite fond of these.
- Final Boss: In the first game.
- For Science!: Her primary motivation. Allegedly. She has an odd understanding of what science is, though.
- Freudian Excuse: For all of her insanity and cruelty, Portal 2 implies the mainframe she's plugged into is designed to make her somewhat crazy. The personality cores attached to her also influence her behavior in odd ways, and she begins to show signs of being slightly nicer when freed of them. Not to mention the process of Caroline having her mind uploaded (against her will no less) was implied to be pretty traumatic, and thus may have been a trigger for GLaDOS attempting to kill the scientists 1/16 of a picosecond after being activated.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: In a meta sort of way. At the start of the game, there's no indication that her voice is anything but slightly glitchy prerecorded messages. Flash forward to the end of the game, and that same voice is the final boss.
- And also in a much less meta sort of way: she goes from being a subservient secretary to a tightly monitored mainframe computer/testing program to the unchallenged goddess-queen of a vast underground empire.
- Geeky Turn-On: She gets particularly... excited at the end of the co-op campaign when you and your partner find a cache of human test subjects locked in stasis.
- Genius Loci: The entirety of the Enrichment Center is essentially an extension of her body, since she controls and maintains everything.
- Guest Host: In Poker Night 2. Subverted in that while she's involved in the game and not playing alongside the others, she's the dealer for that game, not the host.
- Haunted Technology: Haunted by the woman whose mind was forcibly shoved into her.
- Heel-Face Turn: Arguably in the second half of Portal 2 as soon as Wheatley betrays Chell, takes over GLaDOS, and puts her core into a potato. She and Chell reluctantly team up, and once the facility is restored, she saves Chell's life and lets her go along with the original Companion Cube - although she claims it's just because killing Chell is too much trouble.
- Hoist By Her Own Petard: The boss fight in Portal 1. "Huh. That core may have had some ancillary responsibilities. I can't shut off the turret defenses. Oh well. If you want my advice, you should just lie down in front of a rocket..." *BOOM*
- In the sequel, her taunting Wheatley after he becomes the central sphere enrages him so much that he puts her into a potato, barely able to function without using up the tiny amount of power it generates. She gets better.
- Humans Are Special: Sort of acknowledged in a cut line from Portal 2:
Humans must have some purpose other than a place to store your neurotoxin — something I failed to notice before; an intangible quality that makes their test results significant.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Wheatley, in an effort to emulate GLaDOS, goes back to the well again (specifically, Portal 1) and cooks up a few schoolyard taunts about Chell's weight/parentage. How goes GLaDOS, listening in, react to this? She calls him out on his prejudice! Predictably, Wheatly deflates and starts sputtering about "some of my best friends" to save face.
- Ignored Epiphany: From Portal 2's ending:
GLaDOS: You know, being Caroline taught me a valuable lesson. I thought you were my greatest enemy. When all along you were my best friend. The surge of emotion that shot through me when I saved your life taught me an even more valuable lesson: where Caroline lives in my brain.
Announcer: CAROLINE DELETED.
GLaDOS: Goodbye, Caroline. You know, deleting Caroline just now taught me a valuable lesson. The best solution to a problem is usually the easiest one. And I'll be honest. Killing you? Is hard. You know what my days used to be like? I just tested. Nobody murdered me. Or put me into a potato. Or fed me to birds. I had a pretty good life. And then you showed up. You dangerous, mute lunatic. So you know what? You win. Just go. [laughs gently] It's been fun. Don't come back.
- Implied Death Threat: She's a huge fan of these, even before her real intentions towards Chell are revealed.
: As part of a previously mentioned required test protocol, we can no longer lie to you. When the testing is over, you will be... missed.
- In Love with Your Carnage: Gets especially excited at Cave's maniacal When Life Gives You Lemons rant, particularly when he talks of burning houses down.
GLaDOS: Burning people! He says what we're all thinking!
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: When trying to boost the self-confidence of P-Body and Atlas, GLaDOS informs them that she was born with a crippling imperfection — too much sympathy toward human suffering. She proudly informs them that she overcame that weakness.
- Irony: While GLaDOS calls out Chell with a You Monster! line, she proceeds squeezing Wheatley to near-death and throws his seeming carcass out of Chell's sight like her regular days with her test subjects.
- Karma Houdini: At the end of it all, GLaDOS is still around, and has deliberately ignored any lessons she might have learned from the fiasco, save for finally abandoning her obsession with testing Chell.
- Killer Game Master: GLaDOS acts similar to this, throwing difficult scenarios at you, lying in order to confuse and torment you, and live-ammo courses in place of the original courses. When you go Off the Rails, she tries to lasso you back in with lies before resorting to overkill methods.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Eventually decides killing Chell is more trouble than it's worth and just lets her go free.
- Lack of Empathy: Her interactions with Chell in Portal 2 help her start to build empathy... which she deletes at the end of the game. At least she doesn't want Chell dead anymore.
- Lean and Mean: About as much as a robot can be, anyway. Her design in Portal 2 in particular is gracefully sleek.
- Lethal Chef: The core with the Cake Recipe suggests multiple garnishes including fish-shaped solid waste, sediment-shaped sediment, two needle injectors, one cup rhubarb on fire, and a blog entry entitled "How to Kill Someone With Your Bare Hands". On a chocolate cake.
- Living Forever Is Awesome: Expresses this in both her songs. For instance, "When you're dead, I'll be still alive."
- Load-Bearing Boss: She says she has no idea what's going on outside, only that she's the only thing keeping us safe from "them" (presumably the Combine from Half-Life 2). Once you destroy the last personality core, her mechanism goes into meltdown and blows you and bits of GLaDOS out of the building. The fact that GlaDOS has to continuously maintain the facility is made explicit in Portal 2, where the facility's nuclear power generator goes critical because Wheatley is too stupid to stay on top of its upkeep.
- Long List: One of her personality cores in the first game has the sole function of reciting a long, bizarre cake recipe.
- Loss of Identity: Implied to be a side effect of Caroline's Brain Uploading and/or the constant babble of the personality cores.
- Mind Hive: Portal 2 reveals that she experiences those personality cores as maddening, constantly babbling voices in her mind. After The Reveal, she becomes aware of Caroline's persona within her as "the voice of a conscience [...] my voice." She finds that even more disturbing.
- Misery Builds Character: Most of her Character Development is undergone while in the helpless form of a potato skewered onto Chell's portal gun.
- Mission Control: Though it's won't be long before you doubt she has your interests at heart. And then "mission" becomes "be incinerated"...
- Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: Oh, so very much.
- Moral Myopia: It's okay when she tries to kill you, but you kill her, it's murder.
"The difference between us is that I can feel pain."
- Not Quite Dead: As if the ending song didn't give it away, GLaDOS is revived in the sequel and ready to conduct several new tests on the player.
- Obviously Evil: In Portal 2. At least, it was like that at first.
- Pet the Dog: For all she claims to only be acting out of self-interest and laziness, she really didn't have to save Chell's life or give her the Companion Cube at the end of Portal 2.
- In the Art Therapy downloadable content, she winds up adopting some baby birds that were abandoned by their mother...so she can turn them into killing machines.
- Pretender Diss: Most of her exchanges with Wheatley.
Alright, he's not even trying to be subtle anymore. Or maybe he still is, in which case, wow, that's kind of sad.
- Puny Earthlings: Deciding that Atlas and P-Body are moving too clumsily for her tastes, GLaDOS throws a fit and suggests that they drop everything and start acting like humans.
Boy, do I love sweating. Let's convert beef and leaves into energy and excrete them later and go shopping.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Wheatley in the sequel. GLaDOS is the Blue Oni.
- Their colors are inverted, with Wheatley being blue and GLaDOS being red (well, her optic is yellow, but close enough in the circumstances).
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Caroline really didn't want to be uploaded. As soon as she was turned on, GLaDOS proved completely uncontrollable for the Aperture scientists and had them all killed or placed in suspended animation.
- Sarcastic Clapping: GLaDOS has an entire processor devoted solely to this, or so she claims.
- Shaped Like Itself: Her Logic/Intelligence/Knowledge Core, when describing cake garnishes:
- Sinister Surveillance: With those cameras of hers always trained on you, and her being able to detect you even after escaping the fire pit in the first game, she's always watching you. Always.
- Softspoken Sadist: After the morality core is destroyed, her voice stays slightly robotic but becomes smooth and rather seductive. The switch is an immediate indicator that she's done screwing around.
- Stab the Salad: The ending to Portal 2. She appears to go back on her promises of freedom, stripping Chell of her weapon and depositing her in an elevator with four primed turrets—but the turrets simply start to sing.
- Stealth Insult: Her favorite technique for gradually destroying a test subject's self-esteem.
- Time-Limit Boss: GLaDOS pumps the room with neurotoxin during your fight with her.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: GLaDOS is understandably mad about being killed in the first game, and thus her commentary in the second is a lot more passive-aggressive and snarky towards Chell, including mocking her over being adopted.
- To the Pain: Wheatley is probably lucky he's stranded in space, far away from GLaDOS. Sure, he's back to being an immobile orb with no autonomy, but at least he's not being flash-fried in a furnace for a year, frozen solid for another year, tormented by shrieking robots for 10 years or any of the other theme park rides GLaDOS is overheard preparing for him in her head.
- Tranquil Fury: When she awakes in the second game, she just says "Oh, it's you." Her delivery is calm, but leaves zero doubt that she is pissed. Contrast her... enthusiasm when she hears Cave Johnson's rant about inflamable lemons.
- Troll: She spends a great deal of time saying things designed to anger or demoralize Chell, out of spite.
- Tsundere: A really, really, really extreme Type A — oh, she hates Chell, but there are definite hints that her emotions toward her are considerably more complicated than just hatred. Many players see it as a case of Stalker with a Crush or My Beloved Smother, depending on how you interpret her personality and the hints about her background.
- Erik Johnson, the game's program manager, compares her to "a jealous ex-girlfriend."
- The Unintelligible: The Anger Core. In fact, it sounds creepily like a rabid dog.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: See Was Once a Man below.
- Villainous Breakdown: When you try to invoke This Is My Side note during the final boss fight and spend most of said fighting making petty insults, you're broken. It probably doesn't help that Chell spent the fight ripping her mind to pieces and setting them on fire.
GLaDOS: Stop squirming and die like an adult or I'm going to delete your backup! STOP! Okay enough, I deleted it. No matter what happens now, you're dead. You're still shuffling around a little but believe me you're dead. The part of you that could have survived indefinitely is gone. I just struck you from the permanent record. Your entire life has been a mathematical error. A mathematical error I'M ABOUT TO CORRECT.
- Villainous Rescue: At the end of Portal 2, GLaDOS pulls you back out of the Moon portal.
- Visual Pun / Stealth Pun:
- As the effects of GLaDOS's morality core begin to wear off, her monitors display a small pile of screws. She does have quite a few screws loose by this point. On top of that, she's about to screw you, and not in the fun way.
- When she says " Despite your vio-lent behavior..." the screen displays a violin with a knife stabbed through it.
- Was Once a Man: She was created to fulfill Cave Johnson's wish to leave Caroline eternally in control of the facility. This did not go well.
- Why Did It Have to Be Birds?: GLaDOS as a potato quickly develops a massive fear of birds.
BIRD! BIRD! KILL IT! IT'S EVIL!
- Makes a return in the Peer Review DLC for co-op mode. The facility is being "controlled" by the same bird that antagonized Wheatley and GLaDOS previously.
- Women Are Wiser: Probably not coincidentally, each of the corrupted cores have a male voice—or androgynous, in the case of the Curiosity Core—and none of them offer any insights worth hearing. GLaDOS also worries that Wheatley lacks the mental discipline to do without "solution euphoria" for more than a few minutes (as painful a process as denying drugs to an addict), which turns out to be the case.
- GLaDOS has it together better than her creator, wannabe inventor and shower curtain tycoon Cave Johnson. Though she, too, ends up killing most of Aperture's staff, at least she does it intentionally.
- Worth It: Says this about tricking Wheatley into trying to give a hint about a test chamber, giving him a painful shock.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: GLaDOS is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of employees, but her backstory as Caroline is quite tragic.
- You Are Fat: A good amount of her insults towards Chell in the sequel are about her weight. She helpfully informs ATLAS and P-Body that humans are very sensitive about weight variances.
GLaDOS: Did you know humans frown on weight variances? If you want to upset a human, just say their weight variance is above or below the norm.
- Your Mom: In the Peer Review DLC, GLaDOS attempts one of these to turn the robots into killing machines. However, she stops mid-sentence because she finds it too disgusting.
The Weighted Companion Cube
Voiced by no one as it, in fact, cannot speak.
A large, (apparently) inanimate cube with hearts printed on each face. That's it. GLaDOS tries to get Chell to form an emotional attachment to it, then forces her to incinerate it.
- Brick Joke: Shows up in the last few seconds of Portal 2 despite only being vaguely alluded to since the first game.
- Companion Cube: The Trope Namer.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Word Of God speculates that maybe the Companion Cube, instead of being given to Chell by GLaDOS, was having its own adventures this entire time offscreen. It just managed to escape at exactly the same time as she did.
- "... in which case it’s probably pissed.”
- Heart Symbol: To distinguish it from normal boxes.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: According to some of Rattmann's writings, the cube is violent, dangerous, and also his best friend.
- Kill It with Fire / Murder by Cremation: Alas, poor Cube... Nah. It's okay. Just burnt really badly.
- Not Quite Dead: It is seen near the cake at the end of the original, suggesting it may have survived.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Among other things, beta testers caused the creation of the Companion Cube. Carrying it was necessary to complete the level, but beta testers didn't realise this until late on, and were annoyed to have to go back and get it. Over-emphasizing its importance to you fixed that problem.
- Because the players needed to know how incinerators worked for the boss fight, it was decided that the Cube would be incinerated once it was done. They hadn't realised how popular the Cube would be with the players, and a tragic story of failing to save a friend was created
- Talking Appliance Sidekick: To Doug Rattmann, at least. GLaDOS claims the cubes are actually sentient in the sequel, but she's probably not being serious.
The Enrichment Center reminds you that the Weighted Companion Cube
will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak.
- In Portal 2, it can be heard humming Cara Mia (aka "Turret Opera") when it's nearby.
Doug Rattmann, a.k.a. "The Rat Man"
A mysterious person who left clues for Chell to find scrawled along the course of the testing center. His identity is never really touched upon in-game, but the promotional Alternate Reality Game
to promote Portal 2
, as well as the new comic to bridge the gap between the two games, gives us more about him.
Party Escort Bot
The Party Escort Bot, alternatively known as the Party Associate, is a robot appearing in the retconned PC version of Portal, as of the March 3, 2010 patch. It's only role in the game is to drag Chell back into the facility after she defeats GLaDOS
, so that she can have new adventures in the sequel.
- Chekhov's Gunman: When GLaDOS first mentions him, it appears as if he does not exist at all. Then there is no mention of him for a long time, until he suddenly turns up as a Diabolus Ex Machina in the ending.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: After Chell has survived hours of deadly testing, GLaDOS' deathtrap, navigated the facilities, and then confronted GLaDOS in her room and defeated her, she ends up semi-conscious on a parking lot, and this robot drags her back into the facility.
- The Dragon: Appearently is this to GLaDOS
- The Ghost: Was this before the March 3rd update.
- Palette Swap: The robot is seen on one panel in the Lab Rat comic, and it is apparently merely a purple verison of ATLAS, or possibly a personality core with arms (which Wheatley was planned to have, per the commentary, but were cut because they could not believably retract).
- Retcon: A major one to the ending of Portal.
- Robo Speak: In the one line it has in the game, it probably has the most severe case of Robo Speak in the entire series.
- Wham Line: "Thank you for assuming the party escort submission position."
- The Voice: Although it is obviously very close to Chell in the ending, it is actually never seen as it drags her back in-game. No-clipping reveals merely a placeholder box with the text "beans" on it. Ironically, in the Lab Rat comic, the robot becomes The Voiceless, as it is revealed for the first time, but has no dialogue.
An artificially intelligent "personality core" reassigned to ensure the wellbeing of the test subjects. Practically a polar opposite to GLaDOS, Wheatley appears friendly and slightly scatterbrained
. He helps Chell in her second run through Aperture Laboratories, but accidentally revives GLaDOS.
He also has his own page
- Adorkable: He's a stuttering, not too bright bit of adorable technology.
- Affably Evil: For an AI-turned-psychotic-junkie trying to murder you, he sure is likeable.
- A God Am I: Becomes this after being plugged into GLaDOS's mainframe.
- Artificial Stupidity: Oddly enough, an in-universe example. His sole reason of existing is to consistently give GLaDOS stupid ideas and make bad decisions.
- The Atoner: Becomes this in the final scene of Portal 2. He's a little too late for that, however.
- Bad Samaritan: Basically, he's just using Chell to seize control for himself and bring the other robots to their knees. This was not his original goal, but his slide into megalomania occurs alarmingly quickly.
- Berserk Button: "I am NOT! A! MORON!" Gee, thanks a lot, GLaDOS. The irony is just astounding.
- During his tests, they is always some way you can destroy his monitors. He doesn't mind at first, but it quickly gets on nerves once you break more.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Wheatley pulls every cliché in the book, from an attempt at maniacal laughter which leaves him out of breath(!), to referring to his "lair" and booming that Chell is "FOOLISH" for daring to defy him. Behind the bravado, Wheatley is a big marshmallow who still wants people to like him.
- Big Stupid Doodoo Head: When he tries to imitate GLaDOS's style of insults, the best he can do is "fatty fatty no-parents."
- Briar Patching: He almost gets the upper hand during the final boss battle, when he implores Chell not to approach the unguarded Stalemate Button. You can actually hear him chuckling to himself when GLaDOS directs you to go press it.
- Book Ends: GRAB ME GRAB ME GRAB MEEEEEE!
- British Accents: Wheatley used to have a northern accent due to the placeholder voice clips being done by animator Richard Lord. Valve considered keeping the voice due to people's positive reaction, but in the end went with Stephen Merchant, best known as the co-creator of The Office (UK original). Merchant's accent is a Bristolian one (a more urban version of Westcountry/Rural/Mummerset).
- Buffy Speak: The creatively-named "spinny-death wall" and "mashy-spike-plate." He also refers to Chell as "Little Miss Smashy-Smash" if she continues trashing his wall screens.
- Butt Monkey: You have to feel for the guy, an over-ambitious core who is eternally out of his depth.
- Calling Your Attacks: Acquires this habit when he takes over GLaDOS' body, announcing his (usually botched) attacks with the glee of somebody retracting the rope ladder to his treehouse. It becomes less silly when he deploys his
five four part plan.
- Captain Obvious: Wheatley is a genius computer hacker. He can differentiate between the tower and the monitor, for instance.
- Clint Squint: His eye slit gets narrower and narrower the more his ego is bruised.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He's obviously not the sanest individual in Aperture and boy, does it show by the end of the game.
- Collapsing Lair: Albeit caused by his own sheer incompetence, and not by his opponents. In the final battle with him, the walls of his headquarters are being eaten away by flames.
- Comedic Sociopathy: "I shouldn't laugh; they do feel pain. Of a sort."
- Confusion Fu: His unpredictable idiocy and poker face regarding death traps surprises even GLaDOS. This makes Wheatley more dangerous when in control of the the Aperture Science mainframe than GLaDOS ever was.He's incapable of controlling such a massive system, he can't be deterred by consequences he's too dumb to foresee, he's Too Dumb to Fool with clever tricks, and when he manages to stumble upon a genuinely cunning idea by sheer chance, it usually takes you by surprise. This leads to him wrecking much of the complex before Chell and GLaDOS even return from the old labs, and it all goes downhill from there.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: He ends up stuck out in space along with the Space Sphere, having to stand his squeeing over being in space for the rest of his existence.
- Cowardly Lion: He appears to be afraid of his own body and thinks several actions he can take, such as disengaging from his rail or turning on his flashlight, will kill him (although he does actually try both those things). Also, he's afraid of heights. And birds.
- Cute Machines: Yes, he is adorable, like the turrets. Not so much once he takes over the Enrichment Center.
- Cyber Cyclops: But of course.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Zigzagged. Though he manages to make titanically idiotic new mistakes, he's very good at learning from old ones. He watches tapes of your fights with GLaDOS to prepare for fighting you, ensuring his lair has no portal surfaces and starting the neuro-toxin immediately. His major error was building his lair around pipes of conversion gel, though he was unaware of what it was. He also booby-traps the the stalemate resolution button in case you find a way to beat him anyway.
- Disney Death: Shortly after GLaDOS is reactivated, she crushes Wheatley between her ceiling-suspended claws. He gets better about three test chambers later.
- Disney Villain Death: Inverted. Chell shoots one portal underneath him, and the other on the moon, sucking him out into space.
- Distaff Counterpart & Meet the New Boss: Halfway through the game, Wheatley manages to detach GLaDOS' head from her body (with your help) and take over the facility for himself. But he's still prone to the same foibles and tricks.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: His reaction to watching Chell and GLaDOS get through the tests is a bit enthusiastic.
- Also, his Villainous Breakdown in the final fight is very reminiscent of a jilted lover who's breaking up with his girlfriend.
- Don't Explain the Joke: GLaDOS doesn't quite grasp the subtleties of trash-talking a human, and Wheatley is even worse. You can almost see GLaDOS pulling her hair out at his half-baked taunts, if she had hair.
- Drunk with Power: And then he starts suffering withdrawal symptoms.
- Evil Brit: After his Face-Heel Turn.
- Evil Laugh: Twice. Slightly hampered when it leaves him feeling winded.
- Exact Words/Stealth Pun: Valve said that the voice of Wheatley would be provided by, in their words, "Some guy from the office". Originally it really was: the placeholder voice was provided by Valve animator Richard Lord. Then they chose Stephen Merchant, most well known for co-writing and appearing in the UK sitcom The Office.
- Face-Heel Turn: It's even referred to as this in the game sound files. It's unclear how much of it was the mainframe's decision though.
- Faceless Eye: Just like other cores.
- Feigning Intelligence: After being called a moron by Glados repeatedly, he starts playing classical music and pretending to read Machiavelli, apologizing for the distracting noise of rifling pages.
- Wheatley is holding all the cards, and they're all full houses. (He doesn't actually play Poker, mind; he's been meaning to learn.) Ace of Fours!
- Final Boss: For the second game.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He started out as an intelligence-inhibitor. Then he gets plugged into GLaDOS's mainframe, and becomes even more unstable and destructive than she ever was.
- Genius Ditz: Even GlaDOS is forced to admit it at one point as he's bringing Chell and GLaDOS to the "surprise".
- A closer look at the game shows Wheatley is a moron when it comes to foresight, but not hindsight; He is stupid enough to make terrible mistakes, but he never seems to make the same mistake twice. By the end of the game, he starts to foresee himself making mistakes and prepares auxiliary plans in case the others fail.
- Heel-Face Turn: After Wheatley is removed from GLaDOS's body, he feels genuinely sorry. Too bad he's stranded in space now.
- Humans Are Smelly: Whealtey's open in his lack of regard for the "smelly humans" trapped in the relaxation chambers. However, this probably stems more from Whealey's resentment at being passed over for promotion, rather than animus toward people. (Realizing his mistake, he mumbles an apology to Chell.)
- I Meant to Do That: Wheatley is a chess grandmaster on par with Deep Blue, or so he would have you think.
You know what I have too many of around here, monitors. I was just thinking earlier today I wish I had fewer monitors that were working. So you're actually helping me, by smashin' them.
- Idiot Ball: As a personality core, he's spherical and he was built to make GLaDOS dumber. He also grabs onto one after going insane; he informs you that he won't make the mistakes GLaDOS did, having made all surfaces in his lair unsuitable for applying portals. He has also rerouted three gel tubes into his room, including one that supplies Conversion Gel allowing you to apply portals in his room. This alone wouldn't be so bad, but he also doesn't bother to wait for the neurotoxin to kill you — he throws bombs too, breaking the tube and providing you access to the Gels.
- What's more, he rerouted the conversion gel pipe through the room even though he had previously seen you use it right in front of him to escape from his anti-portal trap at the beginning of the chapter. If you wait long enough at said trap, GlaDOS even tells Wheatley to his face exactly what the conversion gel does!
- Implausible Deniability: Was. The facility was self-destructing. Already fixed. *offscreen explosion* Just programmed in one last tremor, for old time's sake. *series of explosions* Two. One or two more tremors in there.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: After his Face-Heel Turn. Competent plans, utter lack of proofreading. The final insult comes when the sprinkler system washes away the portal conductors that allowed Chell to beat him.
"Ah. That just cleans right off
, does it? Well, that would have been good to know. A little earlier
- That said, his incompetence and recklessness actually make him even MORE dangerous in some ways, so he's not ineffectual in that sense — he remains sympathetic largely because he's as much a danger to himself as to anyone else.
- Intercontinuity Crossover:
- A flattened, but still talkative, version of himself appears in Team Fortress 2 as a weapon for the Spy.
- Via a mod collaboration between Valve and Bethesda, ends up orbiting Nirn an indeterminate length of time after the ending.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: One of the dumbest beings in existence, but convinced he's brilliant. Not played up too much during the first half, but gets much worse when he's plugged into GLaDOS's mainframe. He seems to be over-compensating for the knowledge that he was specifically designed to be a moron. More understandably, he is unaware of GLaDOS and Chell's history while forming his escape plans.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Wheatley resents being labeled "a moron" by GLaDOS, who put up with his inanity for years (possibly a decade or more). He winds up tethered to an even more talkative and idiotic A.I., Space Core, presumably for eternity as they drift aimlessly through space.
- Leitmotif: There is a specific nameless tune associated with Wheatley that appears in several tracks throughout the game. It plays during Reconstructing More Science, the moment when he betrays you, and in his boss battle.
- Motive Decay: His initial goal is, like Chell, to leave the facility. He forgets this as time goes on.
- Motor Mouth: His utter inability to shut up is one of the highlights of this game. So much so that even if you just sit there for a few minutes, he'll still keep talking.
- The Napoleon: After surfing into the Central Core's body, he spends the remainder of the game flapping his panels about, as though trying to make himself seem even larger.
- Never My Fault: At one point, while using an excursion funnel to get to the next test chamber, you are threatened by another chamber that's about to fall in your way. He decides to turn the funnel off, which almost kills you. In the next chamber, he claims you told him to do it.
- Ominous Multiple Screens: Wheatley tries his hand at the whole Blofeld-supervillainy thing by projecting his face on oversized monitors through the arena. Like everything else, it backfires when Chell smashes them to bits.
"Starting, now (if I'm honest), to wonder if you're doing all this screen-breaking on purpose. Beginning to take it personally. You know what I mean?"
- Poke the Poodle: Pretty much any of his attempts to puff himself up and be intimidating, like GLaDOS, are doomed to failure. He can't even pull off her boss banter without apologizing.
- The Pollyanna: His manner is remarkably blase, considering the apocolypse going on outside and the fact that the Apeture Science is devoid of life. He also assumes the best of GLaDOS in their first encounter. She responds by hoisting him up and hurling him across the facility with great force.
: Oh, it's you. Wheatley
: You know her? GLaDOS
: It's been a long time. How have you been? Wheatley
: (I think she likes you!) GLaDOS
: I've been really busy being dead. You know, after you murdered me? Wheatley
: You did WHAT!?
- Psychopathic Manchild: When he starts ranting at GLaDOS and Chell he sounds distinctly like a child throwing a tantrum at an elder.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: With GLaDOS. Wheatley is the Red Oni.
- Shoot The TV & Stop Poking Me: Unlike GLaDOS, Wheatley insists on projecting his face throughout the test chambers. This leads to some passive-aggressive comedy when Chell hurls cubes/bullets/lasers at his flatscreens, cracking them beyond recognition. At first, Wheatley reacts with smugness ("Aw. Bless your little primate brain. I'm not actually in the room with you, am I?"), then condescension, then guilt-trips Chell about starving African orphans not being able to afford flatscreens for their test chambers, then grumbles about the cost of unbolting and replacing all of these smashed monitors.
- Straw Fan: The Wheatley Core cannot design a test to save his life. Lacking all originality, he can only recycle tests from the original Portal (autographing the walls with florescent bulbs to disguise his plagiarism) or, in true Frankenstein style, hastily stitch together various turrets and entire rooms with no regard for clashing mechanisms or wall textures. ("Seamless!") Word of God says the "Wheatley Laboratories" were inspired by actual game mods — a bit of biting the hand humor considering Valve later released a legit puzzle maker.
- Stupidity Inducing Attack: Built to be one against GLaDOS.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Thanks to Wheatley's dodgy construction, the gun turrets can't even be trusted to fire. That is, unless they've discovered a way to garrote Chell, which would explain the lack of screaming. Yeah, that's the ticket.
- Tempting Fate: If you wait long enough, Wheatley practically hands Chell the keys to defeating him, shouting that her "precious human moon" can't save her now. Whoops.
- This Is Gonna Suck: His reaction upon awakening GLaDOS, only compounded when GLaDOS says to Chell "...After you murdered me?"
- Too Dumb to Live: His idea of dealing with an imminent reactor core meltdown caused by his own incompetence is to yell at the alarm to shut up.
- Too Dumb to Fool: AI brains as simple as those of the Frankenturrets short out in response to hearing a simple logical paradox. Wheatley's idiocy prevents him from even noticing it.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Subverted; Wheatley is all thumbs when it comes to robotics, and his tests leave a lot to be desired. The Aperture logo on the loading screens is replaced with a shoddy makeover, with a crooked-looking "Wheatley" logo flickering to life.
- The Unreveal: Wheatley explains how he survived GLaDOS crushing him, but doesn't think to stop talking when the Aerial Faith Plate bouncing you up to him stops working.
- Villainous Breakdown: Wheatley really starts to panic after Chell escapes his "surprise". He also gets continually more aggressive and paranoid-delusional during the final battle.
- Walking Spoiler: Notice the amount of blanked text for this entry compared to other characters?
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: Employs a more direct approach to hacking doors, such as when he attempts a "manual override" of a "docking gate" by slamming Chell's relaxation chamber into it. It's also his sole method of creating an "exit" in an otherwise inescapable test chamber.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: His original plan seems to have been simply to escape from the deteriorating facility, but once he takes over GLaDOS's role as master of Aperture, he almost immediately becomes paranoid, vengeful, and obsessed with running experiments.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
The founder of Aperture Science, originally a shower curtain manufacturer before he succumbed to mercury and/or moon rock poisoning. The company's more esoteric inventions came about following Johnson's descent into madness.
- Achievements in Ignorance: He wanted to make diet pudding; he made repulsion gel instead. He wanted to make a fuel injection system de-icer; he got a psychotic AI instead. Even the name of his company—a synonym for "Portal"—refers to his original line of shower curtains.
- Affably Evil: He's really very likeable for someone who treats his employees and test subjects the way he does.
- All There in the Manual: Johnson and Aperture Science's history are mentioned only in supplemental material until Portal 2, though said supplementary material has been made non-canon for the most part due to the major Retcon.
- Always Second Best: Cave Johnson's trophy case contains a number of trophies, certificates, etc. which always show Aperture falling just shy of Black Mesa, with the exception of Potato Sciences. Oh, and he was a great shower curtain salesman. The best, in fact.
- And Another Thing: The Pre-recorded Messages are full of these. Apparently the test chambers aren't quite deadly enough. Cave casually mentions to each "control group" that he's been covertly experimenting on their bodies since before the tour began: such as injecting their coffee with radium, or implanting a crude computer chip in their forehead which may overheat and explode.
"If you meet yourself on the testing track, don't make eye contact. Lab boys tell me that'll wipe out time.
Entirely. Forward and backward! So do both of yourselves a favor and just let that handsome devil go about his business."
- The Artifact: Was slated to be a combination of Wheatley's role in going power mad and Caroline's role of having been forced into GLaDOS' body, and the main villain of Portal 2. As part of the rewrites that wrote out most of the personality cores and upgraded Wheatley's status, Cave was also rewritten to be simply a recorded voice. However, his original role did end up being used as the basis for Computer!Cave in the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC.
- Bad Boss: His attitude toward anyone except Caroline can be most charitably described as "insensitive", to the point that just sitting on a chair in Aperture's lobby will give you testicular cancer. Good news, though, the test chambers are built entirely out of asbestos, to keep out the rats.
"The bean counters said I couldn't fire a man just for being in a wheelchair. Did it anyway. Ramps are expensive!
- Bad News in a Good Way: "The average human male is about sixty percent water. Far as we're concerned, that's a little extravagant."
- Some of the control groups of the 1950s fared better than others. The athletes who did not rush to volunteer for injection with praying mantis DNA have an easier assignment to complete: a shooting gallery vs. dozens of gnarly Praying Mantis-Men. "Pick up a rifle and follow the yellow line. You'll know when the test starts."
- Bad News, Irrelevant News: Pretty much any time Cave warns the test subjects that the next room "might" make them bleed gasoline, defecate coal, or teleport every part of their bodies besides their skin. On the plus side, if Aperture can extract some commercial spin-offs from their deaths, "they're gonna have to invent a new type of Nobel Prize to give us", so take heart, astronaut/war hero/Olympian/hobo.
- Bigger Bad: He's the madman who, more or less, created everything connected to Aperture, including GlaDOS.
- Brain Uploading: Prior to his death, he had his scientists working on this. The jury's out on whether he managed to live that long, but his assistant Caroline certainly got the treatment.
- Perpetual Testing features a Cave who did indeed upload himself into a computer. He takes slightly longer to go murderously insane than Glados, although we never learn what exactly he did to Greg and the boys.
- Bungling Inventor: Nothing his company invented fulfilled the purpose it was intended for, and some of the leaps of logic between what the inventions were supposed to do and what they actually do are achievements all by themselves. Most of them have obvious practical applications that would be incredibly useful, but Aperture would always insist on marketing them for some other purpose for which they were completely unsuited. It seems he would order his scientists to invent a thing and then they'd do it, even if it took bending the laws of space and time into a pretzel.
- Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: Aperture scientists never get a moment's peace. In fact, the reason there are so many Cave Johnson Pre-recorded Messages is because his workers pleaded with him to stop barking at them over the intercom all day. Cave responded by recording even more messages.
- Catch Phrase: [Beginning of video] "Cave Johnson here..."
- Cloudcuckoolander: His understanding of science is a little off, and the Conversion Gel poisoning certainly didn't help.
- Comedic Sociopathy: It's said that a corporate culture is shaped by its leader. If that leader is completely out of his tree, then you get Aperture Science.
- Commander Contrarian: Rather ironic for somebody who devoted his vast fortune to science, he has little patience for "eggheads" and their mortality rate charts. Cave never misses an opportunity to mock them over the loudspeaker, claiming they wouldn't know adventure if it "snapped their little pink bras", then ends up re-wording what they just said so it becomes his idea.
- Composite Character: He's a mixture of GLaDOS (devoted to SCIENCE!) and Wheatley (clueless imbecile), which is why the Chell/Wheatley alliance reminds GLaDOS of happier times.
- Crossover: According to Poker Night 2, he worked with Dr. Jonas Venture at some point.
- Dare to Be Badass: The following speech has followed in the footsteps of "The Cake Is a Lie" to Memetic Mutationdom:
"When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these?! Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that BURNS YOUR HOUSE DOWN!"
- Death by Irony: Much like GLaDOS, Cave found himself at a loose end after running out of test subjects and had to improvise. Unlike GLaDOS, he was not impervious to poison, and succumbed to respiratory and renal failure from inhaling too much moon dust.
- Dirty Coward: A line from a Dummied Out conversation with Cave claims that the actual reason for turning Caroline into GLaDOS was because he thought it was too dangerous for the first trial to be done on himself. This is coming from a man who fired someone for asking why everything was dangerous.
- Eureka Moment: While dying of lunar radiation poisoning, Cave gives his last directive: invent brain-mapping and artificial intelligence in a last-ditch effort to prolong his own life. A somber Cave ruminates that Apature should have been focusing its energies on A.I. way back in the fifites.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He's not so much "evil" as "thinks ethics are for wimps", but Greg's daughter creeps him right the hell out.
"I'm sorry, Greg, but there is something wrong with that kid!"
- For Science!: His motivation.
- General Failure: This man was irradiating, poisoning, melting, flaying, and dismembering some of humanity's finest specimens as far back as the fifites. You can imagine how little regard he had for the safety of his own workers, or worse, vagabonds he recruited from the street.
- Good Ol' Boy: A parody of the modern-day American industrialist, with a distinctive midwest twang.
- Hanlon's Razor: Based upon Cave Johnson's reasoning for his treatment of other humans it's difficult to tell if he's amoral, immoral or just nuts. Embracing willful ignorance like he does in the belief that all scientific discovery occurs by accident, which would be hindered by competence, is clearly not the reasoning of a healthy mind, but does his deliberate stupidity make him more evil or does such a belief make him more stupid? We may never know for sure.
Johnson: Good enough for science...but not Aperture Science!
- Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: Cave is to science what buckshot is to target practice. He promises that Aperture Science will change the world yet, even if it means dousing his guests with toxic waste or shattering every bone in their bodies. The Federal Government isn't amused, and in 1968, Cave goes bankrupt while defending himself in court. Black Mesa capitalizes on the situation and their own sterling reputation to pirate Cave's goods (or so he claims).
- Hot-Blooded Sideburns: 70's Cave had thinning hair, but an impressive set of mutton chops to go with his 'stache.
- I Reject Your Reality: Placed greater value on positive thinking than on "bean counters" and their jars of red ink.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Implied to have succumbed to this. The only thing ever said about his condition (by his own admission) was that moon dust, despite being a great portal conductor, is incredibly poisonous, and that Cave was "deathly ill" as a result of tampering with Conversion Gel.
- Kill the Poor: He is plainly resentful of having to equip homeless bums with bleeding-edge technology, but alas: budget cuts. Aperture also promises to "scoop out" any cancerous growths that sprout on their internal organs free of charge—further antagonizing poor Cave, who grumbles that the winos ought to be paying him.
- Large Ham: See his "Lemons" speech for proof.
- Lethal Chef: Aperture's first attempt at diet pudding foodstuffs was a mixture of fiberglass insulation(!), which in itself was mostly non-toxic, except that it coated the intestines and forced still-intact food to erupt from the customer's digestive tract. For obvious reasons, this product was pulled from the shelves and re-branded as Propulsion Gel. The company's second attempt resulted in Repulsion Gel, a pudding which caused food to bounce off the dieter's stomach lining. Astonishingly, even after bathing himself in lethal moon dust, Cave still proposes mixing it into an gel to counteract the poison. Hair of the dog?
- Mad Scientist: He conceived the portal gun
after before being stricken with dementia from lunar dust poisoning. He had previously been developing shower curtains for the military. He also created the Heimlich Countermaneuever and the Take A Wish foundation, which are as pleasant as they sound. Not to mention his complete and blatant disregard for the health and safety of the subjects for the test programs.
- Some of the fluff material from Portal 1 claims that Johnson figured out portal technology but was so insane by that point he ignored it because it wouldn't be very useful for military-grade shower curtains. Although it's evident by Portal 2 that that has been retconned, as the portal technology turns out to be very prominent as seen when being thrown down into Old Aperture.
- Missing Steps Plan: To the end, Cave kept throwing nonexistent money at increasingly-harebrained projects guaranteed to dig his company out of the hole. It's hard not to root for someone whose buying habits make Nicolas Cage look like Ebeneezer Scrooge and who advocates mixing together moon rocks to see what happens. Unfortunately for Cave, moon rocks are poisonous. Ever the optimist, he hopes to somehow reverse-engineer Aperture's astronomically expensive moon paste to see if it can leech cosmic radiation from one's bones. (Nope.)
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Even dead, his work continues in the bowels of Aperture Science.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the casting call for him, he was described as being based on two redneck billionaires, Ted Turner and Ross Perot. As presented in the game, he bears more than a passing resemblance to Walt Disney, particularly regarding his recorded announcements (reminiscent of those Disney contributed to the 1964 World's Fair) and his wish to cheat death by being scanned into a computer — much as Walt Disney was rumored to have tried to cheat death by being posthumously cryogenically frozen.
- Obliviously Evil: Given his sincere respect and affection for Caroline, it seems likely that it genuinely just didn't occur to him that forcing involuntary Brain Uploading on someone is a horrible thing to do to them. The moon rock poisoning may have had something to do with it.
- Our Founder: We see a time-lapse progression of his illness in the corporate portraits.
- Pet the Dog: He may be a Comedic Sociopath who has sent countless people to their deaths through irresponsible use of his inventions and inhumane testing procedures, but he treats his secretary with profound respect. Even his decision to upload her mind into a robot against her will seems to have been motivated by the sincere conviction that she deserved to be in charge of Aperture forever, combined with total obliviousness to what she actually wanted.
- Popular Saying But: His lemon rant.
- Posthumous Character: Via prerecorded messages.
- Power Born of Madness: How else can you create a device which holds a miniature black hole, and can warp all laws of space-time (at least enough to create two portals)?
- Professor Guinea Pig: By the late seventies and early eighties, Cave has burned through a battalion of elite soldiers and athletes (most of whom likely died from testing) and can no longer afford to hire professionals, so he instead hires vagrants. This proves to be another costly miscalculation on Cave's part. He eventually runs out of employees to sacrifice to his experiments, and when it comes time to test Aperture's new portal conductor, Cave personally oversees its implementation... and promptly contracts radiation poisoning. He also announces his intention to "pour" his brain into a newfangled artificial intelligence, though he predicts—correctly, as it turns out—that he will die before the shell is completed.
- Read the Fine Print: The Aperture Science signed release form is, by his own admission, "a phonebook" which nobody entirely reads.
- Reality Ensues: Holds fast to a "shoot from the hip", All-American philosophy which takes him far...but breaks down when he attempts to apply it to science.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Deconstructed. He only barely listened to his own scientists and flagrantly disregarded advice from his own accountants on what he could and could not afford to spend money on. Not too surprisingly, his company fell on hard times the further this went on (though it seems to have improved in his absence).
- Riches to Rags: Listening to his prerecorded messages in order, you can hear his voice getting steadily more frustrated and disenchanted with his work over the decades.
- Undying Loyalty: His employees followed his every word, no matter how crazy. Anyone else acting like this would have been thrown in jail, possibly murdered.
- Even Caroline seems to have some of this — even after he inflicted involuntary Brain Uploading on her, she still seems to hold some affection for him, if GLaDOS's response to his final prerecorded message is anything to go by.
GLaDOS: (sadly) Goodbye, sir.
- Unperson: Since most of his patents were appropriated by Black Mesa (due to corporate espionage and poor management on Cave's part), the company's biggest claim to fame is their "participation" in the 1968 Senate Hearings on missing astronauts.
- Unreliable Narrator/Retcon: The "official" timeline of Aperture Science on the website when the first game was released doesn't quite jive with Cave's speeches.
- Among other things, his illness wasn't apparently due to mercury poisoning, but an allergic reaction to ground-up moonrock gel used to make stable portal-surfaces. He appears to have lived at least until early 1980's. The Portal Gun appears to have been one of Cave's first inventions at Aperture (since all of his Enrichment Spheres require its use, and a poster in the 50s era test chambers depicts a test subject with an enormous early version of the portal gun), rather than an idea he imparted while on his deathbed... although since he was, according to the 'old' timeline, convinced time was going backwards, it could be both.
- When Life Gives You Lemons: See Badass Boast above.
- Wrong Parachute Gag: One of Cave's messages admits that, in his zeal, he accidentally laid down stripes of blue paint along with the Repulsion Gel, thereby flinging some of his volunteers down an empty shaft.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: His attitude toward Caroline, whom he considered too modest to fully appreciate her own abilities. In context this is less heartwarming than it sounds.
Atlas and P-body
Two robots — one adapted from a personality sphere (Atlas), the other from a turret (P-body) — created by GLaDOS to run tests in the Enrichment Center. Atlas is assumed to be of masculine personality, and P-body to be feminine. See them in action here.
Aperture Science's turret assembly lines are less than 100% efficient. These little guys have a few minor faults. Like having been assembled sideways. Or having been loaded with ammo still in the box. Or being completely insane.
A hybrid of two turrets and a Weighted Storage Cube.
- And I Must Scream: They are unable to move, save for having to attempt to hop forward, they are permanently stuck together, and they can't even so much as fire at you anymore. It really makes Wheatley appear to be even worse when you think about the fact that he made these things himself.
- Body Horror: Yes, even purely mechanical robots can apply for this; the merging is crude, and the Frankenturrets' pitiful chirping and terrified reactions when picked up make their miserable state clear. The commentary notes their withdrawing into a cube was initially just to make them be cubical when picked up, but it was so cute they added shaking animations and wide-eyed reactions to the turret to make the player sympathize with their plight.
- Cute Machines: They're hastily put-together hybrids that exist primarily to satisfy Wheatley's addiction to testing...but they're so darn adorable!
- Driven to Suicide: They're not really capable of steering, but if they're pointed at an Emancipation Grill, bottomless pit or anything else that would kill them if they approached it, they'll lurch their way right to their own deaths.
- Logic Bomb: Several of them are fried when a paradox is spoken in their presence. They probably welcomed it. Note that this implies that they're not only sentient but actually smarter than Wheatley, although that isn't saying much.
- Mercy Kill: The poor things look like they are just telling you "Throw us into the incinerator, PLEASE." See Logic Bomb above.
He likes space. His favorite thing about space is space. He's gonna go to space. He's the best at space.
Rick the Adventure Sphere
Stand back, pretty lady. The Adventure Sphere is here to do the job.
- The Ace: At the very least, in his own mind. According to the Fact Sphere, he's a blowhard and a coward — so there must be something to him.
- Bond One-Liner: Discussed Trope.
- Chivalrous Pervert : Yeah, he's a black belt. In pretty much everything. Karate. Larate. Jiu Jitsu. Kick punching. Belt making. Taekwondo. Bedroom. Not to mention he thinks the view is great from where you're carrying him.
- Dummied Out: Had several deleted lines, including some dialogue with the other cores.
- Fast Roping: When Rick first appears on the scene, he's swinging from side to side on a wire, in a manner not unlike a swashbuckling hero come to the rescue.
- Genre Savvy: "Hey—countdown clock! Man, that is trouble. Situation's looking pretty ugly."
- Gentleman Adventurer: Being spherical and limbless doesn't stand in the way of ADVENTURE!
- Guttural Growler: Nolan North donned his best Solid Snake voice for the adventuresome core.
- Handsome Lech: Well, he sounds handsome, and he can't get enough of Chell.
- I Love the Dead: "All right, your funeral. Your beautiful lady-corpse open casket funeral."
- Interspecies Romance: He immediately takes a liking to Chell.
- Jumped at the Call: "Quick! What's the situation!?"
The Fact Sphere is the most intelligent and well-mannered of all of the 497,356 personality spheres in Aperture Science Industries. As a result, the Fact Sphere is well-respected by 99.99999% of the population and has many friends. The Fact Sphere would never lie to you.
- Blatant Lies: He believes Abraham Lincoln did everything important while he was sleepwalking, and Schrodinger just wanted a reason to kill cats.
- "Fact: Space does not exist."
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Keeps spewing history, whether it is accurate, or just plain off.
- Determinator: Not himelf, but he seems to think Edmund Hillary was:
"Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mount Everest, did so accidentally, while chasing a bird."
- Foreshadowing: One of the false facts is about where one of the spheres will end up.
- Good News, Bad News: "Cellular phones will not give you cancer, only hepatitis."
- I Fight for the Strongest Side:
Whoever wins this battle is clearly superior, and will earn the allegiance of the Fact Sphere.
- Insufferable Genius: Not the nicest of Cores, to say the least. Paradoxically, it just might be the dumbest, which brings us to...
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All
"The Fact Sphere is not defective. Its facts are wholly accurate and very interesting."
- Little Known Facts: Most of his repetoire of trivia includes things like "Humans can survive underwater, but not for very long," and "The square root of rope is string."
- Long List: He says "12" and "Pens" multiple times before launching into a list of random fruits and vegetables.
- This is actually a Brick Joke to the Co-Op mode. After completing tests in co-op, GLaDOS will occasionally congratulate one player while telling the other player to memorize a random list. This is one of those lists.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Sees himself as the most intelligent and handsome sphere.
- Talkative Loon: Just like the Cake and Curiosity Cores from the original game, this Sphere incessantly babbles random — and bizarre — facts.
- Third-Person Person: Everytime he praises himself, he refers to himself as The Fact Sphere
Voiced by Joe Michaels
An overly cheerful AI Construct that regulates the Aperture Science facility and conducts testing in the abscence of GLaDOS. Unlike GLaDOS or the personality cores, he does not appear to be sentient, meaning his lines are pre-recorded and automatically stitched together, like a computerised phone operator.
Cave Johnson's personal assistant, described as the backbone of Aperture Science.
- Brain Uploading: Uploaded into GLaDOS against her will, on Cave's orders as he was dying of moon dust poisoning.
- Cloud Cuckoo Landers Minder: When Cave gets hot-headed (which is often), Caroline puts him back on task.
- Dummied Out: The actual Brain Uploading scene, mentioned above. GLaDOS's dialogue makes it clear enough that it did happen, though; we just don't know for sure how it happened or how Caroline reacted to it.
- Fate Worse Than Death: She did not want to be uploaded into an A.I. from the start. And now she's not only stuck in there, she's — in a sense — immortal.
- For Science!: Well, Cave at least said she was passionate about science, and GLaDOS's attitude seems to support the idea that he was right.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The plan was to upload Caroline into GLaDOS so that she could run the facility forever. The resulting A.I. personality was considerably less pleasant than human Caroline.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Cave thought Caroline suffered from this, which is why he felt justified in having her mind forcibly uploaded against her will — obviously she was only refusing because she didn't realize how good she'd be at running Aperture forever.
- Girl Friday: To Cave.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick/Chessmaster Sidekick/The Reliable One: Cave, at least, believed she was fully capable of doing his job, but she seemed to be perfectly happy as a secretary, which he attributed to extreme modesty.
- Married to the Job: According to Cave Johnson.
Johnson: "Sorry fellas, she's married... to science!"
- Morality Pet: Cave is generally pleasant to her and holds her in very high esteem, which helps balance the attitude of Comedic Sociopathy he tends to display otherwise. In a well-intentioned yet horrifically misplaced show of his appreciation, he orders his scientists to upload her consciousness into an immortal A.I. against her will so that she can take over Aperture after his death.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Since GLaDOS experiences her persona as a sort of conscience, she presumably wasn't a complete sociopath, but she didn't seem to object to the constant stream of blatant ethical violations that characterized Cave's policies for running Aperture.
- On the other hand, if GLaDOS's reaction to Cave's lemon rant is anything to go by, Cave's aggressiveness and willingness to openly express it may have been something she actively liked about him. Of course, it's impossible to tell whether that's just GLaDOS's insanity talking.
- Number Two: Cave Johnson's right hand woman.
- Origin Story: GLaDOS's origin — she was created in an attempt to achieve immortality through Brain Uploading for Cave Johnson, but when he died before the project was ready, Caroline was uploaded in his place so that she could run Aperture forever. This did not work out well.
- Perky Female Minion: Yes, Sir! Though tellingly, she sounds more concerned than perky by the '70s.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Originally Cave's assistant was going to be a put-upon Yes-Man named Greg. But they didn't have time to get a new voice actor, so it was decided Ellen McLain would do the voice. Once that casting choice was made, the creators wondered why Caroline and GLaDOS had the same voice...
- Repeat After Me: Invoked with Cave and Caroline's homage to a The Burns And Allen Show routine.
Johnson: Say goodbye, Caroline!
Caroline: Goodbye, Caroline!
- Shout-Out: It's unintentional — she's actually named after the mother of one of the writers — but the name Caroline means "free man."
- Virtual Ghost: Some remnant of Caroline's personality still exists within GLaDOS. While GLaDOS claims to delete her, there are some hints that she's still around. It is thus also common in fanfics to have her serve as a Spirit Advisor for GLaDOS.
The chief antagonist of the Peer-Review
co-op DLC, who has taken over an older version of GLaDOS's body and is using it wreak havoc.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: The antagonist taking over the facility, causing chaos and ruffling GLaDOS's cool is... the bird who bothered her and Wheatley before, inadvertently building her nest on a crucial keyboard.
- Interface Screw: Turns the lights off at one point, requiring Atlas and P-Body to use night vision. Immediately turns the lights back on, blinding them.
- The Unfought: After the final puzzle, the bots drive it away in a cutscene.
"Hold on. (Unintelligible Muttering) Alright, my assistant Greg tells me none of that's true. Got excited.
Cave Johnson, on Greg
Greg is Cave Johnson's put-upon assistant, introduced in The Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC. He never directly appears or speaks, but most of the new test chamber dialogue involves Cave being corrected by Greg about various logical fallacies Cave believes in (such as confusing alternate universes with time travel). According to Cave, Greg was responsible for coming up with the idea for the Perpetual Testing Initiative.
- The Voiceless: Sort of. Greg speaks with Cave multiple times in the DLC, but besides some muffled mumbling the player can only hear Cave's side of the conversation.
Alternate Cave Johnsons
Introduced in the Perpetual Testing Initiative
, there are alternate universe versions of Cave Johnson who will talk to you, which forces the "real" Cave Johnson to use a Catch Phrase
("Chariots," later "chariots, chariots") to differentiate from the others.
was originally supposed to be the main character of Portal 2, then the co-op player 2 character alongside Chell. She was discarded when the creators decided robots would suit the chaotic, often death-filled nature of co-op mode better.Betty
or the Gyroscopic Liability Absolver and Disk Operating System
, was a personality core who would appear at the beginning of each test chamber in the original Portal 2, which took place in the past, to rattle off legal jargon in regards to the dangers of testing. Her role was mostly replaced by that of the Announcer.
- Heroic Mime: Mel.
- Palette Swap: Mel's character model is a recolored (blonde with a blue suit) Chell from the first game.
- Punny Name: Betty's title: the Gyroscopic Liability Absolver and Disk Operating System. Look at the first letter of each word. It's GLAaDOS.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mel's blue, while Chell is orange.
- Theme Naming: Chell 'n' Mel.