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  • Ascended Fanon: One of the scientists from the original Half-Life is one who wears thick glasses and has white hair on the sides of his head. On 1999, a fansite called "Super Half-Life" adopted this character as a mascot for a weekly feature, called Walter's World, with the protagonist being Walter Bennett, written by the founder of the site Kevin "Fragmaster" Bowen. It turns out Gearbox and Valve liked this character and thus, on Opposing Force and Blue Shift, Walter was directly mentioned by name on each game, becoming canon within the Half-Life franchise.
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  • Content Leak: An early build of the second game was leaked online shortly after its delay. It was bad enough to almost derail the entire game's release.
  • Fan Nickname: The Vortigaunt who accompanies you through parts of Episode Two has no official name. Naturally, he was nicknamed Cecil.
  • Follow the Leader: The first game caused first-person shooters to shift away from "Doom clones" and towards story-driven narratives and immersive environments. The second game popularized physics as a key gameplay element and characters with believable facial animation. More directly, Halo would have its own "headcrab zombies" in the form of The Flood,note  and the expansion pack for Doom 3 features an Expy of the second game's Gravity Gun. The series also popularized the Heroic Mime trope for first-person shooter characters.
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  • Name's the Same: Adrian Shephard from Opposing Force has nothing to do with that other Shepard.
  • No Export for You: Half-Life 2: Survivor, an arcade game based off of Half-Life 2, co-developed by Valve and Taito. It's Japan-exclusive as well as being the only Half-Life game Japan ever got. No, nothing else from Valve counts. However, fan-made ports for the PC exist as Survivor was shut down years ago and is considered Abandonware.
  • Referenced by...: YouTube firearms history channel Forgotten Weapons has a video called "Freeman's Patent Revolver (No, Not Half Life."
  • Sampled Up: A good chunk of the soundtrack and even some sound effects throughout the series were taken from sample libraries, as these videos demonstrate.
  • Schedule Slip: Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (or perhaps by now, Half-Life 3) is one of the biggest contenders. It has been almost 12 years since Episode 2 came out and ended on a cliffhanger, practically promising Episode 3, however not only Valve refused to give a clear announcement regarding of the game after it misses the Christmas 2007 mark, but in 2017, the writer, Marc Laidlaw, leaks the plot draft as "Epistle Three" before he left Valve, and as of 2019, it's close to reaching the record of the 13-year Development Hell of Duke Nukem Forever.
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  • Shrug of God: Marc Laidlaw is very ambiguous about some parts of the overall continuity. Not only towards the things added on by the Gearbox expansions, but also when it comes to Valve's own games.
    The whole issue of canon is something the fans came up with. I guess you will be able to identify as canon those story elements we continue to build on and develop and mention repeatedly as the story progresses. Others might fall by the wayside once they've served their purpose. Couldn't you say the same of us all?
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  • Vaporware: Common with this series (and even more so for Team Fortress 2, though it did finally get released). Fans have been waiting for Half-Life 2: Episode Threenote  for so long that it's become a source of videogame-culture running gags, and every bit of Valve-related news will include comments like "But what about Episode Three?" and "Wait: [a convoluted chain of "logic" like a parody of a Conspiracy Theory]... HALF LIFE 3 CONFIRMED!"
    • To put it in numbers: 2 was released in 2004, almost exactly six years after the original in 1998. Episode One had a much quicker turnaround, taking only two years to get a 2006 release. Episode Two came out only a year after, in 2007; this would normally be considered an aversion if the original schedule wasn't "every few months". As of 2019, Episode Three is still unaccounted for, has likely been restarted from scratch multiple times, and is ten years and counting since the release of Episode Two, surpassing the nine years Team Fortress 2 spent in development and becoming a serious contender to equal or exceed Duke Nukem Forever and its infamously long 14-year development span.
    • Further frustrating the fanbase is Valve's complete refusal to speak about the game (compared to Duke Nukem Forever, where periodically gameplay trailers and concept arts are being released before they're scrapped in favor of building the game ground up multiple times), and they rarely acknowledge the franchise even exists beyond the occasional off-hand mention in interviews or an Easter Egg in their other games. Combined with the news of series writer Marc Laidlaw's departure from Valve at the start of 2016 and fellow Valve writers Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek leaving in 2017, fans are increasingly convinced that Valve has no further interest in the series and is letting it quietly die.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Marc Laidlaw has shared the entire plot of Half Life 2: Episode 3 on his website on August 25th, 2017. For legal NDA reasons, he's changed the names, and titles (Episode 3, becomes Epistle 3, Vortigaunts becomes Ghastlygaunts, Eli Vance the father of Alyx, is now Elly Vance, the mother of Alex, and the Combine becomes the Disparate, the Borealis becomes Hyperborea).
      • In short, Gordon and Alyx manage to board the Borealis, which carries a device that is constantly transporting the ship through space and time. They realize they can use the ship as a weapon against the Combine and decide to drop it on the Combine homeworld. As the ship is about to meet its destination, Alyx is whisked away by the G-man while the Vortigaunts rescue Gordon and return him to Earth. The story ends on a Gainax Ending, as Alyx is missing, and as the Borealis reaches its final destination, Gordon bears witness to an impossibly titanic Dyson Sphere, and in that moment Gordon realizes how incomprehensibly advanced the Combine's might truly is, worries the explosion of the weaponized Borealis will barely register as a fizzling match-head against the titanic sphere, and fears that their resistance against the Combine is and always was utterly hopeless and everything they had done and everyone they had lost to reach this point was All for Nothing; but before he sees the explosion, the Vortigaunts come to save him and transport him to an indeterminate time in the future, where the fate of the Resistance is an Ambiguous Situation but the post-apocalyptic Earth has seen some recovery and Gordon is entirely lonely, and enough time has passed that the Living Legend Icon of Rebellion has been utterly forgotten.
      • As for the fates of Wallace Breen and Judith Mossman, the Combine made a backup of Breen's consciousness before he died at the Citadel and transferred it into the grub body of a Combine Advisor. Breen ultimately found no pleasure in his current predicament and begged Gordon to Mercy Kill him. Judith was murdered by Alyx over an argument on what to do with the Borealis, the former wanting to bring it back to the Resistance to study and the latter wanting to destroy it by plunging it into the Combine homeworld in accordance with her father's wishes.
      • Laidlaw was, however, quick to point out that if HL:3 did get off the ground, the story would've likely gone through multiple revisions — to meet Valve's impossible standards — and if the infamous game does get made, it almost certainly won't share the same plot.
    • Gordon Freeman originally looked more like a grizzly biker.
    • Several missions were cut from the co-op expansion, Half-Life: Decay. One of them was to be a mission where Gina Cross and Collette Green had to save Gordon from being shot before two soldiers dumped him into the trash compactor. This fan-made recreation plays out what it would've been like, based on existing files in the game.

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