I think it’s only fitting for my first real post on my new blog to be about dorky Half Life headcannons. Puts you in my mindset proper.
I was talking with my sister the other night, and we ended up on the topic of the Half Life/Portal timeline and whatnot, as we oft do. We came up with a couple theories, some more far-fetched than others.
1. The G-Man is true neutral, but has a “master plan” of some sort, or a timeline that he has to follow, and has motives to keep key people alive and safe.
2. The G-Man was involved in keeping Gordon alive while on the alien borderworld of Xen.
3. The G-Man has had contact with both Cave Johnson and Wheatley.
4. Portal takes place during the 7 hour war, and Portal 2 begins around the same time as Half Life 2.
5. Cave Johnson is still alive, but dying, and is aboard the Borealis at the time of Half Life 3, and his disappearance was not an accident.
6. Chell is Caroline’s daughter and was adopted by Doug Rattman, who, by the time of the Lab Ratt comic, is no longer consciously aware of this.
1. The G-Man is neutral, with motives he is not afraid to act on.
Some people have called him malicious, because of some of the situations he’s put Gordon Freeman in. That said, it has been proven that Gordon is more than capable of handling himself, even without G-Man’s direct influence. He would like to portray himself as a bystander, but in reality, he’s there to make sure everything is going according to plan, and help out in somewhat passive ways if needed.
For example, and leading me to:
2. G-Man was involved in keeping Gordon alive on Xen.
Gordon went to Xen, an alien… place, without a helmet or any air supply. All other bodies that you see (save for one scientist who is almost inaccessible and I believe was put there by accident/as an easter egg) are wearing HEV suits with the helmets. I don’t know if an air supply is part of that but since part of your HUD monitors your oxygen [while you swim], it’s not unlikely. G-Man could have done something to keep Gordon alive while breathing whatever otherworldly air is present there, or… by keeping him from breathing. Or something along those lines.
Alternately, it could be human-friendly air, as the aliens have no problems on Earth, but that could be because of their biology rather than good air.
3. The G-Man has had contact with both Cave Johnson and Wheatley, and
5. Cave Johnson is alive, but dying, on the Borealis.
Cave Johnson’s death is not recorded anywhere, nor is his disappearance. Mention of him simply stops. The CEO/founder of such a major company as Aperture would not have died unnoticed and unreported. What if this is how it happened:
In the mid-late 80s, when Aperture had been going bankrupt for a while, the G-Man came to Cave and offered his assistance in some way. Cave refused, on the grounds of pride (“They say great science is built on the shoulders of giants. Not here. At Aperture we do all our science from scratch. No hand holding.”) and of course, the G-Man got pissed, and somehow either poisoned Cave or let him get sick some other way. As Cave descended more and more into insanity, and started enforcing employee testing, the Aperture employees, who were obviously sane and competent enough to carry out such science, demented as it is, but mostly without fault, decided they’d had enough. They put him on the Borealis and had an “accident” that, yes, cost them the boat, but also got rid of their insane CEO and let the rest of them go about business in safer ways.
It would explain why they seemingly never looked for the boat (on top of no longer having the resources), why his death went unreported, and why/how Cave got sick from “moon rocks”.
And Wheatley. He’s been in the facility the whole time, and knows it’s empty except for them, and yet mentions outside personnel at two points: “If anyone asks, and nobody’s going to ask, but if anyone asks, tell them the last time you checked, everyone looked pretty much alive…” and “what’s the management gonna think when they come down here and find ten thousand flipping vegetables?”. We can take it as a fact that he was designed to be a moron, but he’s not without a sense of observation. Upon seeing the G-Man, he would have noticed he’s in a suit, and carries a briefcase. Even to a moron that would carry with it a symbol of importance or management. He also would have noticed that the G-Man is not particularly amicable to lengthy conversation, which is why he would think that he probably wouldn’t ask anyway.
It makes even more sense when you consider:
4. Portal 1 takes place during the 7 hour war, and Portal 2 begins about the same time as Half Life 2.
Take three of GLaDOS’s lines from the final battle of Portal: “I’m the only thing standing between us… and them,” “what’s going on out there will make you wish you were back in here,” and “I have an infinite capacity for knowledge and even I don’t know what’s going on outside.” These carry a lot more weight when you consider the possibility that she is, in fact, referring to the Combine; they were taking over the world as she spoke. They were aliens of a sort, so her “infinite capacity for knowledge” would only go so far as to understand them.
Then Chell escapes briefly, and is brought back in.
G-Man brought Gordon out of stasis after about 20 years to fight the Combine. If you consider that Wheatley was under the instruction of G-Man to wake Chell and help her escape, it makes some of what he says make more sense, and fits with the idea that they’re in the same timeline.
G-Man would obviously recognize the potential of both Chell and Gordon. Since he helps/sets Gordon against the Combine, we can also assume that, even if he’s neutral, he’s against aliens upsetting the balance of [the remainder of] humanity… even though it was his fault that the gateway between their world and ours was opened (as we know that he was the source of the more unstable crystal that they used which ended up causing the Resonance Cascade).
Also, look at the damage done to Aperture; some of it is decay, but some of it looks more destructive. Walls knocked down, ceilings opened up, especially in the wreckage of GLaDOS’s original chamber. What if… the Combine saw the “body” of GLaDOS, blew the ground there open (which is how she fell back in), knocked down what was left of the chamber and left it open for the plants to get in, and investigated briefly before deciding it was empty and not worth their time. It doesn’t exactly explain as much as some of the other theories, but it still makes sense.
6. Chell is Caroline’s daughter and Doug Rattman adopted her, and later didn’t quite recall the event.
After GLaDOS stops lying to you, she reminds you “for the record, you ARE adopted, and that’s terrible.” If Caroline had a daughter, she likely would have wanted to protect her from the dangers of [Aperture] science (translation/paraphrasing of Cara Mia Addio: My beautiful daughter, Chell, why won’t you stay away from science?), and given her up for adoption, perhaps shortly before being unwillingly poured into a computer. Doug, for whatever reason, adopted her, which would explain his paternal, and otherwise unreasonable, protection of her, when he could have escaped forever. When the cube asks him “how did you know it would be her?” and Doug replies that it was “something in her file,” that could be the result of his schizophrenia, combined with PTSD after the neurotoxin attack on GLaDOS’s initial powerup on Bring Your Daughter To Work Day, combined with Aperture’s brainwashing him into relying on the “science,” or, the files, rather than actual characteristics of a person, in addition to hints of a paternal instinct, and memories of her talents even as a young child.
Also note that on her science project with the potato battery, she mentions using an “ingredient from Daddy’s lab,” so we know at least that her father [figure] is an Aperture employee. Assuming the two of them were together when GLaDOS used the neurotoxin, especially since Doug was already uneasy about GLaDOS, that would explain how they both survived while everyone else didn’t.
This would also explain some of the unusually high levels of venom from GLaDOS towards the two of them (besides them refusing to die). Caroline would have been trying to get Chell away, get her safe, and Doug kept her in the danger zone, and Chell grew up to be… the way she is. Tenacious, smart, resourceful, and very much alive.
If I’ve missed anything or there are other ideas you want me to dissect, feel free to send me a message here or email me, and I’ll have a go at it!