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The Narrator (The Stanley Parable)

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But here's a spoiler for you; that timer isn't a catalyst to keep the action moving along. It's just seconds ticking away to your death. You're only still playing instead of watching a cutscene because I want to watch you for every moment you're powerless. To see you made humble. This is not a challenge, it's a tragedy. You wanted to control this world, that's fine. But I'm going to destroy it first, so you can't.
~ The Narrator directly to the player in the bad ending

The Narrator is one of two characters appearing in the clever adventure/puzzle game, The Stanley Parable, along with the titular playable protagonist. The narrator's roles as a character depends on what Stanley, controlled by the player, does, as the game allows them to form an endless amount of conclusive outcomes.

What the Narrator is exactly shall always remain a mystery, but according to himself, he is basically the writer of Stanley's life, changing the script constantly. He is aware that he is in a video game, is just a voice in Stanley's head, and has complete control over reality itself, or at least Stanley's reality. He sees how Stanley's boring life works out and always puts a sadistic and/or helpful twist before resetting it to see what happens in the next incarnation of Stanley's life. Others believe Stanley is simply insane, imagining that he is being terrorized by an omnipresent bully stuck in his head.

Role

Overview

Stanley is simply a middle-aged man working at an unlabeled office with several other co-workers. All he does is press the keys on his computer when he is instructed to, but he is happy with his boring occupation. However, on a certain day, every single human being in the office suddenly disappears, including the hundreds of co-workers and managers.

"Good" Ending

When Stanley investigates his boss' office, with the Narrator's commentary, he stumbles upon a mind control facility, revealing that all of the workers including himself have been controlled to unquestionably and obediently work by the employers. Stanley, enraged, completely destroys the facility's power, demolishing the mind control devices before he barges out of the office as a free man.

"Bad" Ending

The bad ending truly shows the narrator's sadistic side. If Stanley instead activates the facility's power for himself, the Narrator berates him for being so selfish and sets the office to self-destruct in two minutes. While the timer counts down, the Narrator constantly insults and taunts Stanley and tells him out of pity why everyone disappeared. The Narrator reveals that he simply erased them from existence and set Stanley free from the mind control machine, just to see what happens. He also reveals that the story of Stanley has been completely recreated by the narrator's god-like reality bending abilities several times, all of them differing. He sometimes allows Stanley to die a horrible, slow death, and at others gives him freedom, all depending on the Narrator's bipolar mood and cold-blooded traits. At other times, he lets the office and everyone in it burn to a crisp, the Narrator amused by how he allows reality to work out, but has it always reset for another era to begin. The Narrator is cut off by the entire facility exploding, killing Stanley in the process.

Gaming Ending

When Stanley refuses to do what to the Narrator says, the latter displays five buttons in front of the former's very eyes, each button labelled as their respective numbers. These five buttons are used on a rating scale (1 to 5) on the Narrator's game idea. After sending Stanley to a false leader-board, the narrator teleports Stanley to a made-up game. The game is a cardboard cut-out of a baby "crawling" towards a patch of fire. Stanley loses if the baby reaches the fire, and he must constantly teleport the never-endingly crawling baby back to the start by pressing a button. The narrator orders the player to play for four hours straight, but this is obviously impossible, so letting the baby die will anger the narrator and trigger him to teleport Stanley to Minecraft. He later gets bored and teleports Stanley to Portal, ultimately ending up in the narrator arrogantly leaving Stanley to rot.

Coward Ending

If Stanley simply remains at his desk (or closes the door) desperately waiting for commands, the Narrator will call him a coward who can't decide for himself and resets the game.

Mariella Ending

Stanley believes he is insane after just believing the strange events in his life were simply dreams, but this theory was diminished once he couldn't wake up. Meanwhile, the Narrator ironically narrates about how Stanley is disturbed and confused how there's a random narrator narrating in his head and how odd it is the Narrator is narrating about Stanley's confusion to the narrator narrating about himself. He then begins to panic before the screen cuts to black. The Narrator then begins to follow a woman named Mariella, who is on her way to a meeting. In the street she sees Stanley, insanely muttering to himself saying how nothing is real before he falls down, dead.

Museum Ending

When Stanley attempts to escape instead of head to the mind control facility to unlock the first two endings, he is thrown in a junk filled container that will be crushed and recycled. A female Narrator takes over the usual commentator's job and teleports Stanley to a clear white museum of beta elements from when the game was in its infancy. She then informs the player that the only way to save Stanley is to quit and reset the game before he is violently crushed. If they do not, just that will happen and the player will be left on a blank screen.

Confusion Ending

If Stanley gets extremely lost in the underground "basement" area of the game, even the Narrator will be confused and clueless on where to continue to get back to the original story. He then resets the game several times, but cannot seem to boot the game back up into shape, thinking Stanley "broke" it. The Narrator then orders an "adventure line", being a thick yellow endless line made to lead Stanley to the correct location. The line does not work, leading back to the monitor room, and the two eventually encounter a large schedule detailing on how the confusion ending works due to the fact it's extremely complicated. The Narrator, baffled at the fact that his life has been scripted the entire time, refuses to follow the schedule and doesn't reset just to rebel against what the schedule says. The Narrator details the philosophy and annoying antics of what's been happening until he is cut off by the game actually resetting to its original form.

Phone Ending

If Stanley were to answer the ringing phone in a certain room, he will be teleported to an apartment building, specificially right outside his apartment's door. He hears his wife on the other side of it, but when it is opened, it is just a lifeless mannequin with a speaker built into her, just a trick by the Narrator to taunt his pawn. Stanley then enters his house and finds his computer, when he then begins what he's always done; press buttons. Every button press shifts the room to look like Stanley's office until the end where it is a complete replica of it. Meanwhile, the Narrator talks to himself about Stanley and how much of a meaningless, worthless person he is.

Real Person Ending

If Stanley instead doesn't answer the phone and unplugs it, the Narrator gets extremely confused, seeing how, in the script he made, Stanley wasn't allowed to do that. The Narrator then realizes that Stanley isn't Stanley; you (the player themself) are Stanley. The Narrator then shows the player a decision-making guide, but quickly realizes the fabric of reality is ripping apart thanks to "narrative contradiction". The game is then reset only for Stanley to stumble back to the two doors room. Upon heading to the boss' office again, there is instead of a keypad a voice receiver, you must yell the password into the panel's mic. Stanley cannot speak and the Narrator grows uncharacteristically furious before the game resets yet again. Taking the door on the right leads to the game going worse with the "narrative contradiction" as a result of trying to merge with reality, the Narrator gets extremely frustrated over the player not having gone through the door on the left and figures he has to shut The Stanley Parable down only for it to turn itself on again, in a dark area where the Narrator eventually expresses his displeasure for the player having ruined the Narrator's story and calls them out. After both doors have been entered at least once, the player is then teleported above the two door room and out of Stanley's body, thus rendering him unable to do anything. The Narrator grows very depressed and waits for Stanley to do something before the game resets for good.

Powerful Ending

Near the beginning, Stanley must cross a gap via an automatically controlled lift. If Stanley were to drop off the lift into the warehouse, the fall will instantly kill him and the Narrator will praise him in his death, stating that the only reason he idiotically committed suicide was to prove he was in control.

Zending

If Stanley actually obeys the Narrator when he asks him to walk through the red door, he'll get infested with overwhelming happiness and teleports the both of them to a beautiful field of colorful stars where he hopes for them to forever live there in blissful peace. However, next to the field is a realistic stair case that leads to a fatal fall. Stanley must constantly throw himself from the peak of the case (while the Narrator pleads him not to, as if he dies, the game will reset and the Narrator's memory of the star field shall be erased) until Stanley finally dies.

Launch Pod Ending

All Stanley must do is find the escape pod chamber and approach one of the pods. However, a banner reminds him that both the player and the Narrator must be present for the pod to function, thus the game resets. This contradicts everything the Narrator tells about himself, as he is assumed to be an omnipresent entity.

Out of The Window Ending

If Stanley manages to "glitch" his way out of the window, he will drop into a white void. The Narrator then asks if the player is sick of the gag and then blurts out a detailed, overly-complicated description on what would have happened if they chose the other choice. Either way, Stanley will be left to sit in the void until it is manually reset.

Serious Room Ending

If the player tries to use cheats, the Narrator will teleport/banish them to the Serious Room, a room that's extremely serious. After lecturing the player on how extremely serious the Serious Room is, the Narrator leaves them there forever as punishment for (attempted) cheating.

Trivia

  • The Narrator is voiced by British actor Kevan Brighting.
  • The Narrator shares similarities to GLaDOS, the main antagonist of the Portal games.
    • They are both antagonistic characters who mostly talks to the protagonist from an unseeable location in a mellow tone
    • They have a passive-aggressive relationship towards the protagonist
    • They both allow the player character to escape into a grassy environment from a dark abandoned facility
    • They both team up with the character despite their rivalry (the ability to team up with the Narrator is only available on certain endings)
    • They both have complete control over the environment of the character
    • They both drive the player character to what could have been a violent death, and they aren't allowed to do anything about it (the Narrator drives Stanley into a pair of garbage crushers while he's stuck in a trash container while GLaDOS drives Chell into a patch of fire while they're stuck on a moving platform)
  • This is even further drilled in as, in the Gaming Ending, the Narrator and the protagonist reenact the first few minutes of the first Portal.
  • The Narrator is also similar to the Narrator from Naughty Bear games.
    • They are both nameless, unseen passive-aggressive narrators who commentates the player's life
    • They are both likely just figments of the player's twisted imagination
    • They both order the player character what to do throughout the game
  • The Narrator usually acts as a deuteragonist in the Stanley Parable and only occasionally shows his darker side. He is therefore often categorized as a deuteragonist and sometimes even a secondary protagonist.

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