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Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System
GLaDOS, POTaTOS (when turned into a potato)
Overseer of Aperture Science experiments and de-icing fuel lines
Powers / Skills
Control over the Aperture Science facility, which enables her to use turrets, missile launchers, deadly neurotoxins and some other things
Cake is her obsession/hobby, but whether or not she bakes it herself is unclear, singing, science, killing people with deadly neurotoxins
Getting results from the tests which she runs (always), get rid of Chell (until she is turned into a potato), assist Chell in defeating Wheatley (Portal 2)
Type of Villain
- "I'd just like to point out that you were given every opportunity to succeed. There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn't come either because you don't have any other friends. Because of how unlikeable you are. It says so here in your personnel file: Unlikeable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikeable loner whose passing shall not be mourned. 'Shall not be mourned.' That's exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted. So that's funny, too."
- — GLaDOS
- "So, how are you holding up? Because I'm a potato."
- —GLaDOS after being turned into a potato
GLaDOS is the passive-aggressive, cake-obsessed villain of the computer game Portal. She exists to see how experimental technology is handled at the hands of test subjects. As the game progresses, she increasingly becomes more and more insane; trying to kill the player many times by means of a fire pit and putting them in a "live fire course, designed for military androids" because the current testing room was undergoing "maintenance." She also psychologically abuses the player in many cases. One example of this is found in the infamous "companion cube" incident, where she says you must "euthanize" your companion cube, which is a very helpful object that you take with you throughout the 17th level, characterized by the pink heart design on its sides. Many players get very, very attached to this cube. When a player finally incinerates it (you can't move on in the game if you don't), GLaDOS congratulates you on the fact that you incinerate your companion cube "faster than any other test subject on record." This is only one of many times GLaDOS psychologically abuses the player, but this particular one is more well-known.
It should also be noted that GLaDOS lies frequently throughout the entire game. She promises cake that you never receive, says she won't monitor certain levels when she does and even admits it, lies about lying (she says that "We can no longer lie to you" when she continues to lie), and claims that a certain test chamber is "impossible" when it is not.
To give the illusion of more people monitoring the facility, GLaDOS uses the pronoun "we" instead of "I" frequently before the escape leading up to the final battle.
GLaDOS' origin is gradually revealed in the later stages of the game. An abandoned slideshow presentation in a meeting room shows GLaDOS was developed by Aperture Science Laboratories Inc. as a method of de-icing fuel lines in direct competition with a similar project by Black Mesa Research facility. GLaDOS is described as not only being a fuel line de-icer, but being fully-functional and "arguably alive." GLaDOS is, however, much more than a fuel line de-icer; the AI is installed as the Enrichment Center's central control computer. GLaDOS' core is mounted in a large, sealed chamber alongside control consoles and an incinerator. The core hangs from the ceiling surrounded by video screens that show random and irrelevant images. The core swings continuously, dislodging one of the modules in the final level. There are no clear speakers or units which create GLaDOS' voice, though it is present throughout the facility. During the final battle, GLaDOS reveals it is the source of the facility's abandoned state; GLaDOS flooded the Enrichment Center with a fatal neurotoxin, presumably killing several scientists, just before its Morality Core was installed. Since the Core had been installed, it can be assumed that the release happened as the Core was being installed, forcing the scientists (at least, those who survived) to abandon the facility.
Motivation. How would running through test areas with a portal gun benefit the guinea pig? You are promised that if you accomplish your task, that there will be grief counseling, followed by a party and that there will be cake at said party. However, there are several theories about the cake.
1) It's a lie, as written several times on one of the walls (This is where the common internet phrase "The cake is a lie" comes from).
2) There is a cake shown at the end of the game, but whether it is THE cake is in question.
3) That YOU are the cake; at one point in the game, GLaDOS says "You will be baked, and then there will be cake," supporting this theory. However, she could also be referring to the point where the test subject (you) are to be dropped in a pit of fire at the end of the 'experiment'.
4) That it is a prank, because the contents of the cake are, according to her information core;
One 18.25 ounce package chocolate cake mix, 1 can prepared coconut pecan frosting, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 4 large eggs, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 3/4 cup butter or margarine, 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 cups all-purpose flour. Don't forget garnishes such as: Fish shaped crackers, Fish shaped candies, Fish shaped solid waste, Fish shaped dirt, Fish shaped ethyl benzene, Pull and peel licorice, Fish shaped volatile organic compounds and sediment shaped sediment. Candy coated peanut butter pieces, shaped like fish. 1 cup lemon juice. Alpha resins. Unsaturated polyester resin. Fiberglass surface resins and volatile milk impoundments. 9 large egg yolks. 12 medium geosynthetic membranes. 1 cup granulated sugar. An entry called 'how to kill someone with your bare hands'. 2 cups rhubarb, sliced. 2/3 cups granulated rhubarb. 1 tbsp all-purpose rhubarb. 3 tbsp rhubarb, on fire. 1 large rhubarb. 1 cross borehole electro-magnetic imaging rhubarb. 2 tbsp rhubarb juice. Adjustable aluminum head positoner. Slaughter electric needle injector. Cordless electric needle injector. Injector needle driver. Injector needle gun. Cranial caps. And it contains proven preservatives, deep penetration agents, and gas and odor control chemicals; that will deodorize and preserve putrid tissue.
Of course, this could also be due to the fact that GLaDOS is slowly losing her mind piece by piece.
5) That it is a metaphor for an unobtainable freedom from GLaDOS' experiment.
The truth behind the cake may never be known.
Once you go off course, you find main chamber where GLaDOS's chassis is. After a short conversation, a piece of her falls out (the Morality Core). GLaDOS claims she "has no clue what it is" (this is a lie). When you put this piece into the incinerator, GLaDOS' voice becomes darker and more ominous and she tells you "Good news. I figured out what that thing you just incinerated did. It was a morality core they installed after I flooded the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin to make me stop flooding the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin." (this is also a lie; she knew about the core the whole time). Immediately, she starts to flood the room with said neurotoxin and the boss battle begins. During the battle, the large screens in the room display a clock counting down 6 minutes until the room completely fills with neurotoxin. Also, a rocket turret, which GLaDOS apparently cannot shut off because the Morality core apparently had some "ancillary responsibilities," appear on the floor and shoots laser-guided rockets at you.
To defeat GLaDOS, Chell (the player) must use her portal gun to redirect the rockets at GLaDOS (making her remaining three cores fall off one at a time) within the 6-minute time limit. Chell can then drop the cores into the nearby (and very convenient) Emergency Intelligence Incinerator. The three cores which you have to destroy (not counting the fourth "morality" core) are Curiosity, Info/Logic and Anger. As you incinerate these cores, GLaDOS's insults gradually become more childish and harsh. She also loses some of her logic, stating that "two plus two is... ten" and correcting herself with "in base four, I'M FINE!"
Once you manage to beat her, GLaDOS is sucked through the roof via a portal as she breaks apart. Chell, after being sucked up with her, lands in the parking lot of the Aperture Science Facility, where burning pieces of GLaDOS fall from the sky. Please note that in the recently revised ending, made by VALVe in preparation for Portal 2, Chell is dragged away by a party associate robot back into the facility. This clash can be seen in the video below, but the revised ending cannot.
GLaDOS returns in Portal 2, which takes place an indefinite amount of time after Portal. At the start of the game, she is still "dead" after being destroyed at the end of the first game, but later is accidentally reactivated by Wheatley, the personality sphere. The newly-reactivated GLaDOS seemingly crushes Wheatley (possibly to avoid a core transfer) , and proceeds to take revenge on Chell by dropping her further into the facility and making her endure further tests, all the while making snide comments about her weight and status as an orphan. Eventually, Wheatley appears again and with his help, Chell escapes into the facility, shuts down the turret reproduction line, demolishes the neurotoxin generator, and reaches GLaDOS' chamber again, where she proceeds to use an override system to replace her with Wheatley as the head of the facility.
Just then, in a moment to spite Wheatley, GLaDOS reveals what Wheatley's true nature was; an AI deliberately built to make poor decisions in an attempt by former Aperture employees to negate GLaDOS' murderous nature. In a rage, Wheatley installed GLaDOS into a potato battery, and when GLaDOS furiously exclaimed that Wheatley was "the moron they built to make [her] an idiot," Wheatley smashed the elevator that Chell and GLaDOS were on, dropping them several miles into the now outdated and sealed off sections of Aperture Laboratories.
During one portion of the game following this, the player is guided by the voice of Cave Johnson, the founder of Aperture Science and, through these recordings, it is revealed that Johnson intended to copy his personality into a computer to gain immortality and continue watching over the experiments after his death, but died before this technology could be completed due to exposure to poisonous moon rocks used to make the surfaces compatible with portals, and handed the responsibility of becoming the facility's computer to his loyal secretary, Caroline, whose mind was used in creating GLaDOS. During her time as a potato, GLaDOS develops a fear of birds when a crow starts eating her. Only Chell's appearance scares it off.
Eventually, Chell reaches Wheatley and sends him to the cold, empty space with the help of GLaDOS, who has now become her friend after discovering her true self, echoing the confrontation earlier in the game. However, after being reinstalled, GLaDOS abruptly deletes her program of Caroline's loving personality, becoming a cold, evil machine once again. However, she did not delete Caroline because that is her genetic lifeform component. If she actually deleted it, the facility would explode. Luckily, she still lets Chell go because she has decided that Chell's presence has been the cause of all her troubles since the first Portal game. GLaDOS releases her into the deserted outside world and, as a final act of indifference, tosses up a charred Companion Cube as well.
Once Chell is gone, GLaDOS sends two robots (Atlas and P-Body) to continue doing tests for her. However, it soon becomes apparent to GLaDOS that testing with the robots is not the same as testing with humans, for the potential threat of death that hung over human heads does not concern the robots; thus, she is unable to get a sick and twisted kick out of the death of the test subjects.
During these tests, GLaDOS sends the robots outside of the testing tracks to find information that will give her complete control over the whole facility. Once she gains control of everything, she sends the bots down into the bowels of the facility. She then reveals why she had the robots go outside the test courses: she's been after a massive amount of humans hidden in a cryogenic vault since the 20th century this entire time. Once the robots unlock the vault, GLaDOS destroys them and begins processing all of the humans, but she only bothers to use the file of one person.
She planned to take her testing even further by turning the humans into her army of minions (what she intended to do with them once training was done was never explained, but it could be possible that intended to use them to take over the world). Unfortunately, the humans were unable to withstand her overly-stressful testing and all of them died within a week's time. With the facility falling to pieces thanks due to a prototype version of her chassis being controlled by an unknown source and the total lack of test subjects, GLaDOS brought the robots back into the fray.Treating the tests as an art museum at first, GLaDOS tried to fool the robots into thinking that science was finished. However, when a flood began to occur within the facility and it was made clear that the test chambers were thrown together haphazardly, GLaDOS admitted to the truth. She then began to train the robots even more excessively than before so that they could become murderous automatons.
However, once the robots reached the room housing the prototype chassis, it was revealed that the "unknown source" was actually the bird from the bowels of the facility, which had made a nest on the keyboard of the device. Though terrified of the bird and claiming that the robots were not ready for this, they managed to scare off the bird. The only thing that was left over was a nest full of eggs.
GLaDOS relocates the birds into the central AI chamber and, though she treats them as poorly as she treated Chell, when she sees the birds break the glass container that they're in, she has a change of heart and decides that the birds may be of use to her.
- Caroline, the woman whose mind became the basis of GLaDOS, is likely the mother of Chell (the father likely being Cave Johnson himself):
- At the end of the game, during the infamous "turret opera", the lyrics translated into English basically say, in short: "Farewell, my daughter; stay away from science."
- 40 potato batteries and a baking soda volcano project made by children can be found in the depths of Aperture. One of these projects features a potato that has since then grown through the roof; Chell's name is on it, indicating that she had a connection to the facility as a child.
- The fact Caroline's mind being the basis of GLaDOS constantly makes people think that her entire self became what GLaDOS is, but that is wrong: the GLaDOS artificial intelligence only has Caroline's mind's way of responding to situations (it can be seen as an example when she first listen to Cave Johnson's voice in Portal 2, both she and the recorded voice of Caroline say "Good morning, Mr. Johnson").