G-Man (Half-Life)

G-Man (Half-Life)

General CVG character
name=The G-Man

caption=Left: The G-Man, as he appears in "Half-Life." Right: His appearance in and after "Half-Life 2"
voiceactor=Michael Shapiro
The G-Man, voiced by Michael Shapiro, is a mysterious recurring character in the "Half-Life" series of first-person shooter computer games. He is known to display peculiar behavior and capabilities beyond that of a normal human and his identity and motives remain almost completely unexplained. He plays the role of an overseer and employer, both observing the player as the games progress and pulling strings to control the outcome of specific events throughout the "Half-Life" saga. The G-Man's constant appearances in the "Half-Life" games, as well as his revealing monologues with series protagonist Gordon Freeman, imply he is of great importance and somewhat anchors the endeavors of the player.His mysterious nature has made him an icon of the "Half-Life" series.


Appearance and behavior

The G-Man appears to be a middle-aged male human with a tall and thin physique, very pale skin, dark brown hair shaped in a military-style crew cut with a prominent widow's peak, and blue-green eyes. He is dressed in an inexpensive-looking gray/blue suit. The book ' states that his appearance in "Half-Life 2" is based on the famous Alexander Technique practitioner Frank Sheldon. G-man speaks in a slow, raspy yet commanding manner, with a certain accentuated low-key moroseness to his tone, sometimes placing unusual stress on syllables, stressing the wrong parts of words, making unneeded pauses, and awkwardly changing the pitch of his voice, sometimes in the middle of a word. It is common for the G-Man to elongate "S" sounds ("Limitless"' potential"). His odd manner of speaking, bordering on the cryptic, along with his appearance, alludes to the behavior of the Men in Black in various reports, and the apparent age and physical status of the G-Man doesn't seem to have changed in the time that passed between "Half-Life" and "Half-Life 2" (according to the "Episode One" website, nearly twenty years). [ [http://ep1.half-life2.com/story.php Half-Life 2: Episode One story page] ]

The G-Man exudes a calm, almost uninterested demeanor – in situations in which other humans panic and flee, the G-Man can be seen calmly straightening his tie or brushing his suit lapels with his hand. When working on the G-Man in "Half-Life 2", animator Doug Wood stated, "I wanted the player to never quite know what side the G-Man was on. I would have him express an apologetic look toward Freeman as he 'regretted' to put Mr. Freeman in this situation, but then give a slight smirk or smile at the end to keep you guessing about his sincerity."Valve; Hodgson, David SJ (2004), p. 137. "". Random House, Inc. ISBN 0-7615-4364-3] Before animating the G-Man's facial expressions, Wood spent weeks in front of a mirror practicing the expressions on himself.


Until ' the G-Man is almost never identified by other characters in any of the games to the player, despite being seen interacting with them. Eli Vance even hints at knowing the G-Man, referring to him as "our mutual friend." "G-man" is simply the name of the character's model in the original "Half-Life", and "Half-Life 2" (possibly a reference to the slang term G-Man, referring to an agent of the United States Government), as well as in documentaries featuring employees at Valve Software. The character is also referred to as "Gman" in the voice actor list in the credits of "Half-Life 2". Furthermore, in the manual for "Opposing Force", Adrian Shephard makes mention of him as a "G-man." In "Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar", it is noted that "while the codename 'G-Man' slipped into common use, it remains merely a codename". Prior to the release of "Half-Life 2", many players speculated that he was the Administrator of Black Mesa due to a scientist's holo-log in ', mentioning the Administrator had called him away and the same scientist was seen earlier with G-Man, but the sequel makes it clear that the Administrator is actually a separate character, Doctor Wallace Breen.


The G-Man is seen talking to various people, and yet at times it seems that only the player is able to see him. However, in the climax of "Half-Life 2", Doctor Breen speaks to Gordon Freeman, saying that he has "proven himself a fine pawn for those who control him," and informing Freeman that his "contract was open to the highest bidder." These lines, and the slightly smug, knowing way in which they are delivered, suggest quite strongly that Breen is aware of the involvement of a higher power in Freeman's actions. The Nihilanth makes reference to the G-Man as he talks to Gordon before their battle, saying "You are man... he is not man... for you he waits... for you...", suggesting that the Nihilanth might know a lot about the existence of the G-Man and confirming that the G-Man is not human. In addition, the Vortigaunts also have several ambiguous lines that could possibly be references to the G-Man, and in the introduction to "" they are seen directly confronting him, and somehow freeing Gordon Freeman from his control.


The G-Man seems to be a higher-dimensional being in that he can move anywhere in 3D space instantly. In several instances he escapes the player's investigation by seemingly impossible means. The G-Man also seems to have the ability to control time's effect on the player, other beings, and himself. In certain situations in Half-Life the G-Man, although unreachable, can be shot at with the player's weapons. This has no effect on him, implying that he cannot be harmed by physical means. (However, it should be noted that in Half-Life 2, attacking any of the main characters will result in no effect or response whatsoever; it is unclear whether or not this was the intention of the G-Man being untouchable, or if he is actually immune to weaponry.)

The G-Man seems to be able to take people into "parallel universe"-like areas. In most games featuring the G-Man, there are several sequences when the G-Man is talking at close range to the player, and various areas can be seen in the background, including areas from Black Mesa or even areas the player will visit later into the game. In these sequences, the G-Man talks to the player (the player's character never responds or reacts in any way) and can be seen quickly appearing in different portions of the screen, in dream-like sequences. He also appears on TV screens and "Breen Casts" dotted around the environment; G-Man also seems to have telepathic abilities of some sort, powering things such as unplugged portable televisions. The G-Man is capable of operating a very wide range of machinery and technology, ranging from cellular phones and sealed steel doors to nuclear warheads and teleporters.

In-game appearances

The G-Man appears several times in each game while the player is freely moving, though often in out-of-the-way locations so it may be difficult for a first-time player to see him. It is almost universally impossible to go directly to where he is standing – before he has an opportunity to disappear from that place, at any rate. If fired upon in the few areas in which he could be, he is unharmed, and a ricocheting sound effect is heard.


The G-Man is first seen standing in a stopped tram adjusting his tie, but he mysteriously arrives at Sector C before Gordon. Before the experiment begins, the G-Man can be seen through a window arguing heatedly with a scientist in a locked room of Sector C. Following the catastrophic resonance cascade, which commences the game's action through Black Mesa, the G-Man can be seen quietly observing the player in several out-of-reach areas as the game progresses. In several cases, the player arrives in rooms or locations where the G-Man was previously seen, even though the areas are often inaccessible to other characters or swarming with monsters, and personnel in the location do not seem to have noticed him. Other times he will disappear into corridors that are seemingly dead ends.

After Gordon defeats Nihilanth, the ruler of Xen and the final boss in "Half-Life", the G-Man brings the player to "safety" in an inexplicable, abstract sequence, appearing beside Gordon, having stripped him of his armaments and showing him various areas of Xen. Eventually the scene changes into what appears to be a tram (like the one from the beginning of the game) traveling through space at an incredible speed. The G-Man tells Gordon that he has been observing him very carefully and praises him on his actions in Xen, which, following an attempted invasion by the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, is now in his "employers'" control. The G-Man then informs him that he has recommended Gordon's services to his "employers", and offers him a job. Ostensibly, Canon states that Gordon takes the job, with G-Man stating "Wisely done, Mr. Freeman. I'll see you up ahead." Later in Half-Life 2, however, the G-man says he will not give Gordon the "illusion of free choice," thus implying that Gordon's decision was made for him. The player is presented with a Hobson's choice; declining the offer results in the unarmed Freeman facing a horde of hostile aliens as the screen fades to black with the G-Man's final words; "No regrets, Mr. Freeman?"

"Opposing Force"

In the expansion pack, "", the G-Man plays a slightly more direct role in the story, alternately hindering and aiding the player, Corporal Adrian Shephard, as well as simply observing.

During the boot camp training sequence, the G-Man can be spotted at a window speaking with an officer, and occasionally glancing at the player. Since the drill instructor mentions that Shephard's training has been mysteriously accelerated, the implication is that the G-Man had an interest in Shephard before the Black Mesa incident, for reasons unknown. The game manual also suggests that the G-Man prewarned the Marines of the upcoming Black Mesa incident.

At one point Shephard is trapped on a small walkway, with deadly corrosive/radioactive liquid rising steadily towards him. The G-Man opens a door allowing him to escape, saving his life. One level later, as Shephard attempts to evacuate Black Mesa with the rest of the Marines, the G-Man closes a hangar door, forcing him to remain on the base. Later on, the G-Man is seen rearming the nuclear bomb that destroys Black Mesa, which Shephard had deactivated moments prior.

After Shephard defeats the Gene worm at the end of "Opposing Force", the G-Man appears again. On this occasion, Shephard finds himself on board one of the HECU's Osprey aircraft, facing the G-Man. The G-Man informs Shephard that, contrary to his employer's original wishes, Shephard is to be spared, but detained, in a way where "he could do no possible harm" and "no harm could come to him". The G-Man says that he has been impressed by Shephard's ability to "adapt and survive against all odds" in the Black Mesa facility, and comments that these are traits which remind him of himself. As the G-Man delivers this closing monologue, the plane carries them away from Black Mesa, shortly before a nuclear blast flashes outside confirming its destruction. The aircraft's location then suddenly switches to the skies of Xen, then finally to an emptiness similar to that encountered by the Black Mesa tram at the end of "Half-Life". The G-Man then leaves Shephard via a teleporter in the cockpit, and the screen fades to the closing titles. " Subject Shephard. Status Detained. Further evaluation pending".

"Blue Shift" and "Decay"

In both ' and ', the main characters of each game, Barney Calhoun and Doctors Gina Cross and Colette Green, see the G-Man on one occasion near the beginning of each game, but he doesn't seem to notice any of them.

"Half-Life 2"

"Half-Life 2" begins with Gordon being greeted approximately one to two decades in the future by the G-Man, while seeing a dream-like montage of images such as the Black Mesa test chamber, and interior areas of the Citadel. In his speech, the G-Man hints that he put Gordon into stasis for his own safety, and that an opportunity has now arisen that will allow Freeman to begin his campaign against the Combine forces on Earth.

The G-Man continuously refers to Gordon Freeman as "Mister Freeman" throughout the introductory sequence, forgoing Gordon's proper title of doctor, to which he is entitled as a Ph.D. However, during the ending sequence, he refers to Gordon as "Doctor Freeman".

The G-Man is briefly visible at various other points during the events of the game, including along the different vehicle sequences, but these are only from a great distance or as seen on video terminals until the game's finale. One notable sighting is through a pair of binoculars, where the G-Man can be seen conversing with Colonel Odessa Cubbage. Later, after an uphill battle in the cloud-penetrating Citadel skyscraper, Gordon causes critical damage to the structure's dark fusion reactor, resulting in an explosion that would have most certainly caused his death — had the G-Man not seemingly stopped time in order to extract Gordon to safety to await further "employment offers". The game ends with travel through the same emptiness that was "Half-Life's" ending, and with the G-Man stepping through some sort of doorway portal, though not before adjusting his tie. The G-Man, at this point, makes it clear that he will once again be placing Freeman in stasis while he entertains some "interesting offers" for Gordon's services, this time making no mention of his "employers," as he had in "Half-Life", but had stated that he was not at liberty to inform Gordon of something yet to come. However, in "", the G-Man's control over Gordon is taken by the Vortigaunts (see below), temporarily ending his plans.

Before their final showdown, Doctor Breen asks Gordon, "Did you realize your contract was open to the highest bidder?" while trying to persuade Freeman to join him. This is taken as a reference to the "contract" Gordon has with the G-Man.

"Episode One"

The G-Man is only seen once in "". At the beginning of the game, which begins at the point when "Half-Life 2" ends, the G-Man walks back into the black void in which he left Gordon and opens his mouth to say something, but then notices a purple glowing Vortigaunt to his left. He appears to be slightly amused at the sight, but then notices another on his right, and the smile drops from his face. As more and more Vortigaunts appear, he begins to look irritated, and then, as he looks toward the player, he realizes what is happening. Irritation shifts to anger. As two more Vortigaunts stand on either side of Gordon the G-Man straightens his tie more violently than before and responds to their chant with a single sentence: "We'll see... about "that"." Gordon is then immediately teleported away and found by Dog and Alyx in a pile of rubble just outside the Citadel.This incident shows the Vortigaunts have the ability to enter the G-Man's realm, which may be what they call "the Vortessence", a term they occasionally refer to in conversations with Freeman.

It is implied that the Vortigaunts have freed Freeman from the G-Man's control in this scene. A number of things hint to this. First of all, the G-Man does not appear in this episode after the title sequence, and he is able to speak with Freeman in Episode Two only when the Vortigaunts are otherwise occupied. A commentary node in Episode Two confirms that the G-Man makes no appearances in Episode One to convey that he had lost track of Gordon after the Vortigaunts took him. Even the sentences that appear when the player fails a timed objective change between "Half-Life 2" and "Episode One". Where the failure messages in "Half-Life" and "Half-Life 2" were written in a cold, business-like manner evident of the G-Man's point of view, the messages in Episodes One and Two use the Vortigaunts' romantic-sounding English mannerisms.

"Episode Two"

In "", the G-Man first appears to Gordon while a group of Vortigaunts are occupied healing the recently injured Alyx Vance. Just like in "Half Life 2 ", he appears in a surreal, dream-like sequence taking place in several locations : the rocket silo from the White Forest base, the same corridor as the one seen in the message left by Doctor "Judith Mossman", and the entrance to the Black Mesa Facility, as seen in "Half-Life". In this sequence, the G-Man comments that he was unable to contact Gordon until the Vortigaunts were distracted. He then explains that he was the one to “pluck” Alyx Vance from Black Mesa, despite objections from “naysayers” that she was "of no practical use to anyone." (The G-Man never identifies these naysayers, but the projection behind him flashes an image of Doctor Breen). He then instructs Gordon to safely escort Alyx to the White Forest, as repayment for the G-Man's previous ensurance of his survival, stating he wished he could do more than simply monitor Gordon, but he has agreed to "abide by certain restrictions." While Alyx is still unconscious, he then whispers into her ear to tell her father to "prepare for unforeseen consequences" when she sees him. He seems to be less rigid during the sequence and is depicted more human like.

Following this sequence, observant players can again spot the G-Man in several locations as they play through the game, for the first time since Half-Life 2.

When Alyx and Gordon eventually reach White Forest, the main screen in the control room briefly flashes the image of the G-Man, triggering Alyx to relate his message to her father, Eli, in an uncharacteristically monotonous tone. Eli is noticeably disturbed by the words, to the point where he almost collapses. After making an excuse for Alyx to leave the room, Eli reveals to Gordon that he is aware of their "mutual friend" as well. He explains that the G-Man delivered the sample which ultimately caused the Black Mesa Incident, and whispered in his ear to "prepare for unforeseen consequences" shortly before the resonance cascade. ("Unforeseen Consequences" is the title of the chapter after the resonance cascade in "Half-Life.") Eli then begins to express hope that he and Gordon will be able to take some unknown action, but is interrupted by Alyx's return. Shortly after, Eli tells Gordon he believes the message from their “mutual friend” is a warning regarding the "Borealis", and reiterates his belief that it should be destroyed or the events of Black Mesa may repeat themselves. Eli hints that he knows more about the G-Man (i.e personality, motives, true identity) as evidenced when he says "Gordon, there's so much I need to tell you", shortly before being interrupted by Alyx. However, he is killed by a Combine Advisor before he has an opportunity to elaborate further.


* http://www.gametrailers.com/player/usermovies/162620.html

External links

* [http://ep1.half-life2.com/story.php "The Story So Far"] – from Valve's official "Episode One" Web site.

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