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.
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?"
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.
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.
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 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.
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 a recording 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.
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.
"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*"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
GLaDOS: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Tranquil Fury: When she awakes in the second game, she just says "Oh, it's you." in complete monotone tone, but it's clear that she is pissed! It could be justified because she is an AI, but contrast her behavior when she's hearing Cave Johnson's lemons rant.
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."
Villainous Breakdown: When you try to invoke This Is My Sidenote Refers to a Dummied Out line that still remains in the source files.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.
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.
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.
GLaDOS: 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.
All There in the Manual: Or rather, A Little More There In The ARG and Comic: He was a programmer at Aperture Science who managed to survive GLaDOS's release of the neurotoxin on account of suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, which allowed him to correctly deduce that yes, an evil computer was trying to kill everyone (while the other scientists were aware that GLaDOS was violent and unstable, they failed to take the threat seriously enough until it was too late). After being made a test subject, his knowledge and clearances allowed him to manipulate the test chambers and make dens for himself, living in these nooks and plotting his escape.
The Atoner: Willingly went back into the facility after he'd gained his freedom, unable to live with knowing he'd used Chell to defeat GLaDOS and then let her be killed when he might have saved her.
Badass Normal: While dodging turrets, crawling through air vents, and matching Deadpan Snarks with GLaDOS, without a portal gun or any other technology.
GLaDOS: Have you refilled your prescription lately?
Disability Superpower: When Rattmann is on his schizophrenia meds, his Companion Cube doesn't appear. Without its advice, he seems to be a lot less effective, eventually causing him to get wounded by a turret.
The Ghost: Never appears in either game and likely dead by the time of Portal 2, all the player sees of him is the drawings he leaves behind in various lairs scattered throughout the Enrichment Centre.
The music on the Portal 2 soundtrack for one of his dens is called "Ghost of Rattman".
Got Volunteered: He knew that he didn't have what it took to defeat GLaDOS, but he could look through the test subjects' psych profiles and find someone who did.
In Portal 2, if the player stands directly in front of one of his murals, you'll hear this. To date, all attempts to fully and accurately transcribe this rambling have met with failure.
Mismatched Eyes: In the comic, Doug's pupils are almost consistently of uneven size, and when there is a noticeable difference, his right pupil is always the larger of the two. It is not known if this is a purely stylistic choice (perhaps meant to artistically emphasize Doug's psychosis), or if the artist intended him to have anisocoria (pupils of unequal sizes).
Only Sane Man: Despite being a paranoid schizophrenic (though to be fair, he's on meds at the time), he's the only one at Aperture to realize that when a computer consistently tries to murder you within 1/16th of a picosecond every time you turn her on, she's probably going to kill you the first chance she gets.
Properly Paranoid: It's implied that his paranoid schizophrenia was the key to evading GLaDOS long after all the other employees had been captured. Sane people tend to dismiss thoughts like "What if an insane computer is trying to take over the facility and kill us all?" as crazy, which is something of a survival disadvantage when that's actually what's happening. However, considering GLaDOS had consistently attempted to kill them all within one tenth of a picosecond of being switched on (up from one sixteenth of a picosecond when she was first activated), he might have just been the only one who wasn't Too Dumb to Live.
Room Full of Crazy: "I <3Companion Cube." His dens are full of poetry adapted to mention the cube, pictures of things in the center (mostly the cube, of course) and other scrawlings.
the cake is a lie the cake is a lie the cake is a lie the cake is a lie
In Portal 2, it would seem his obsession changed to being centered around Chell, with vivid detailed murals of her sprawled across walls.
Sanity Slippage: Due to being stuck in the lab after GLaDOS goes beserk, he can't refill his medication. Hence, he appears quite sane during the past segments of the Lab Rat Comic. Compare that to his scribblings in the first game, and his basic appearance in the present comic segments.
King Mook: The Animal King turret, a massive, leopard-patterned turret with a crown used to illustrate what to do in one of many apocalypse scenarios Aperture anticipated. It also plays bass, just because.
Laser Sight: Deconstructed. A beam of light comes straight from their eye, and follows you if they spot you, but it also lets you know how to block them and where they're looking.
Morality Chip: According to a diagram in the Portal 2 promo trailer above, the turrets contain an "empathy generator" and an "empathy suppressor" to counter it out.
Standard Female Grab Area: In a manner of speaking: picking up a turret (if you can get past its gunfire or sneak up on it) will prevent it from firing. Add the responses to such actions including "Hey!" and "Put me down!" (which of course use cutesy female voices).
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.
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).
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.
Big Stupid Doodoo Head: When he tries to imitate GLaDOS's style of insults, the best he can do is "fatty fatty no-parents."
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).
Cloudcuckoolander: He's obviously not the sanest individual in Aperture and boy, does it show by the end of the game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Heel-Face Turn: After Wheatley is removed from GLaDOS's body, he feels genuinely sorry. Too bad he's stranded in space now.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Oh, Crap: When he learns of GLaDOS and Chell's history.
GLaDOS: 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!? GLaDOS: *sigh* OK, look. We both said a lot of things that you're going to regret...
He makes you have one when he starts laughing evily after the core transfer
Percussive Maintenance: Uses this approach to hacking a few times, such as when he attempts a "manual override" of a "docking gate" by slamming Chell's relaxation chamber into it.
Psychopathic Manchild: When he starts ranting at GLaDOS and Chell he sounds distinctly like a child throwing a tantrum at an elder.
This Is Gonna Suck: His reaction upon awakening GLaDOS, only compounded when GLaDOS says to Chell "...After youmurderedme?"
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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!"
Bad Boss: His attitude toward anyone except Caroline can be most charitably described as "insensitive".
"The bean counters said I couldn't fire a man just for being in a wheelchair. Did it anyway. Ramps are expensive!"
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.
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.
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!"
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!
Mad Scientist: He conceived the portal gun afterbefore 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.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the casting call for him, he was described as being based on Ted Turner. 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.
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.
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)?
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).
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.
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.
Villainous Breakdown: Listening to his prerecorded messages in order, you can hear his voice getting steadily more angry and deranged over the decades.
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.
Brain Uploading: It's implied that their personalities are recorded for easier reinsertion into new robotic bodies whenever they "die".
Cute Machines: Again, like the turrets and Wheatley, they are cute and silly.
Death Is Cheap: The two robots are uploaded into a new body whenever they die, as illustrated by the trailer. P-body dismisses its destruction (and Atlas's role in it) with a wave of its hand. Then gets him back later. In fact, they are transported to other test chambers by being disassembled and later reassembled.
GLaDOS:Don't disappoint me — or I'll make you wish you could die.
The Portal 2 team say this is a major reason for using robots as the co-op mode characters. They wanted your (many) deaths at the hands of badly-planned maneuvers, incompetent or jerky co-players, and just larking about, to be funny and more consequence-free than showing humans being crushed, shot, or falling in acid and so forth.
As the tests go on, GLaDOS actually starts getting disappointed with this, as watching her lab rats ultimately make a mistake and die is the only satisfaction she gets out of the job.
Electronic Speech Impediment: Although their general dialogue is mostly unintelligible, if you listen hard enough you can make out specific word-analogues, such as them saying "Hello" to each other in the intro cinematic.
Fat and Skinny: Atlas is short, round and bulky. P-Body is tall and lean.
Grievous Harm with a Body: When Atlas yanks P-Body's turret body out of its frame for a giggle, P-body picks it up and gives him a solid crack upside the head with it.
Not So Stoic: Atlas tends to be the more reserved one in everything he does - except for when either initiates a hug.
Also illustrated during the introductory cutscene where the two are assembled for the first time. P-body is happy enough to let the robotic arms weld it together, while Atlas is shown anxiously trying to dodge them and escape from the construction area.
P-body:[cheerfully waving to Atlas]Hello! Atlas:[nervous]...Hi?
Depending on how you view their personalities in gender terms, it can also be an example of either Tomboy and Girly Girl or Sensitive Guy and Manly Man. The fact still stands that P-Body is far more feminine-looking than Atlas, while the trailer mentioned above puts their personalities in a far different manner.
True Companions: GLaDOS learns that as much as she tries, she cannot drive them apart and pit them against each other.
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.
Body Horror: Well, look at it from their point of view. Some of them have no casing. Some of them were put together sideways.
Evil Laugh: Whichever defective turret you designate as the new template for quality control will indulge in this whenever one of its brethren passes or when one of the functional turrets gets thrown out.
Foreshadowing: There's a slightly-less defective turret on the Turret Redemption Line early on, whose main defect seems to be babbling a mix of cryptic Foreshadowing and complete nonsense.
Oracle Turret: Her name is Caroline. Get mad, don't make lemonade. The answer is beneath us. It won't be enough. Prometheus was punished by the gods for giving the gift of knowledge to man. He was cast into the bowels of the earth and pecked by birds.
Weak Turret Gun: "So... we're all supposed to be blind, then, right? It's not just me?"
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.
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.
"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.
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.
Crazy-Prepared: Aperture Science gave him recordings and responses for every eventuality. And we do mean every.
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.
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.
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...
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.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Caroline's fate after having her brain uploaded into GLaDOS is never mentioned. It is almost certain that she was killed along with the scientists when GLaDOS first activated.
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.
Creepy Child/Oracular Urchin: Greg has a daughter who likes to sneak into Cave's office and talk to the test subjects. Cave is especially unnerved by the way she talks:
Greg's Creepy Kid: "We're gonna test forever and ever and ever..."
Gender Flip/Spear Counterpart: He's a male version of Caroline, minus the special affection Cave Johnson holds for an assistant of the opposite gender.
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.
Ancient Tradition: Cave of Aperture Rituals is presiding over one of these in order to prevent the end of the world. It involves hiring astronauts, war heroes and olympians to make love to a giant bird.
Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: One Cave and the inhabitants of his universe have transformed into beings of pure light; though pleased, they'd originally hoped to transform into pillars of pure salt.
Benevolent Boss: Nice!Cave, who gives bonuses to his testers and heaps praise upon them while randomly saying "chariots".
Good Counterpart: Most of the parallel Caves are as evil as the regular one, but there is a Nice Cave who offers you a bonus.
Ill Boy: One of the parallel Caves is a little boy with a terminal illness who seemingly watches test subjects overcome their own obstacles as a way of motivating himself to recover. He doesn't make it.
Warden!Cave had to tell his prisoners that the air ducts were not an escape route, but how they ventilate the facility. When he's shived after a power outage shut off the forcefield doors, he laments how actual doors would have been much better.
Space!Cave has to constantly remind his test subjects that the tests are being conducted in a space station, and that there's no air outside the facility. Few of them listen.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: CaveDOS simply finds his immortality boring, especially since he can read every book ever written in just a few seconds. Even altering them all to be about ghostbusters gets dull after a while.
Verbal Tic: Nice!Cave randomly says "Chariots," briefly upsetting Cave Prime's attempt to use it as a code word. From then on, he says it twice.
Mel 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.