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"Hey! Catch me later, I'll buy you a beer!"
―Black Mesa security guard[src]

The Black Mesa Security Force is one the two main types of Black Mesa Personnel seen in Half-Life and it's expansions, the other being the Black Mesa Science Team. They are the main part of Black Mesa's support personnel force.


Barney sector c

Security guard stationed in Sector C next to a retinal scanner.

Security Guards oversee security throughout the facility. They have different ranks and are granted a different security clearance specific to their duty, with an average clearance of Level 3, as well as colored shifts in specific Areas of specific Sectors, such as Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet Shifts.[2] They often stand near doors requiring a special access, and will refuse or grant this access depending on the person wanting to go through, related to the person's clearance level or if they have the required equipment to proceed. They also oversee security checkpoints, such as Area 9 Security Checkpoint located along the Black Mesa Transit System. Guards have to report to their related facilities, such as Sector C's Area 3 Medium Security Facilities, before starting their duty. They are accommodated in specific facilities, such as Area 8 Topside Dormitories, where Barney Calhoun lives.

In the event of an emergency, security guards are required to cooperate with the "military" and "trained assassins", referred to as "a dangerous and very efficient clean-up crew".[2] it is later proven that the clean-up crews will terminate any Black Mesa employee and do not cooperate with the Security Force.

The basic security guard uniform consists of a blue shirt, black tie, dark blue pants, black assault boots, equipment belt, armor vest and helmet. The standard issue side-arm is the Glock 17 or the Beretta 92FS in the High Definition Pack, but heavier ordnance, such as Shotguns, Colt Python revolvers, Desert Eagles, and Grenades are also available to them.

In the Half-Life Audio Script, security guards are described as follows: Barneys are base security guards. They are friendly, fearless, and practical allies. In a pinch, they will provide backup fire, attacking aliens and other human enemies.[3]


Blue shift wallpaper

Barney Calhoun.

  • Security Officer - The vast majority of guards work as security officers, tasked with protecting secured areas, information, and reporting breaches of authority to their administrative sponsor and helping with general maintenance tasks. In rare cases, security officers will be tasked with capturing escaped research specimens. Barney Calhoun works in this position.
  • Section Manager - The role of section manager is effectively a desk job that consists of directing security officers and assigning tasks.
  • Instructor - Security officers will often take on additional work instructing new recruits in the Sector A Training Facility, as themselves or their hologram counterparts. Miller works in this position.

Vehicles and transportation[]

Security guards are known to drive Black Mesa SUVs around the facility. Furthermore, security guards on duty next to tram lines and Sector security entrances know the related door codes for tram and airlock doors.

Safety and protection[]

Part of every security guard's equipment loadout includes an armor vest and helmet, vital to their personal safety in the Black Mesa Research Facility. As well as day-to-day maintenance safety, the armor is also capable of absorbing (and possibly even deflecting) low-caliber rounds. The security guards are also issued combat boots which are most likely steel toed boots.

The helmet will protect the guards skull and brain-case (although it does not protect the entire head, as shooting the guard in the face will still count as a head-shot). It will deflect 9mm bullets and shotgun pellets although stronger weaponry such as the Colt Python or the Crossbow will penetrate through the helmet. This is the same for the Armor Vest. In Half-Life: Source Guards will still take damage if shot in the helmet.

In Half-Life: Blue Shift picking up the Helmet will gain 40 Armor points. Picking up Armor Vest will gain 60 Armor points.


  • Black Mesa security guards will always help the player and can be very useful as protection or for drawing fire. If attacked by the player however, or if the security guard sees the player killing an ally, they will turn hostile.
    • Strangely, "Otis" security guards will not attack the player even if they see them killing an ally.
  • Although each guard carries a handgun, their effectiveness in combat can often be hampered by poor path finding and slow response times. However, they are capable of killing one or occasionally several of the more heavily armed and armored enemies, most likely due to their good accuracy at long range.
  • When low on ammo, it can be helpful for the player to take it from security guards by killing them when you are at a point where the guard can no longer follow you (i.e. when a ladder must be climbed, or when indestructible obstacles are in the way).
  • In Half-Life: Decay, the security guards comments triggered by the Use key are sometimes related to the fact that Gina and Colette are women, often playing with the cliché of security guards often hitting on and teasing women. Lines include "Ladies first!", "You'll be safe with me!", "I really don't think you should be alone right now.", "I've always wanted you to ask me that!", or "Stay close to me, darlin'! He He.".
  • The security guards do not seem to reload their weapon, firing continuously. However, in a few scripted sequences in Blue Shift they are seen reloading their weapon after 6-7 shots.
  • When a security guard spots an enemy, he will give a chase until the enemy has died; when enemies get too close, a security guard will stay in the same place and continue firing even if the enemy is in melee range.
  • Although the security guards only carry a Glock 17, which does not do a lot of damage, if there is more than one security guard, the guards will be able to take down stronger groups of enemies in seconds (i.e 4 guards can take out around 8 HECU soldiers with ease.)
    • However, the maximum number of guards that can follow the player is very limited in the GoldSrc version of Half-Life, only two guards can follow the player. However, this does not apply for the Source version; there is no limit to the number of guards that can follow the player.

Behind the scenes[]

Barney Tentacles pwnd

Security guard about to be killed by the Tentacles in the silo.

  • Originally, all Black Mesa employees were to be hostile to the player. The Barney NPC was then used by Valve's Al programmer Steve Bond to run experiments in enemy squad behavior. By putting the player in the role of squad leader, and forcing Barney to follow instead of fight the player, Bond hoped for an easy way to test navigation rules. The unexpected result of this experiment was a working companion character, which appealed to every play-tester who saw Barney in action. This caused the team to rethink large portions of the story and Gordon's role in it, and the game was completely overhauled in late 1997. In that process of converting enemies to allies, the team also came to think about characters that were neither allies nor enemies to the player, leading to the creation of the G-Man.[1] The role of human enemies in the final game is now filled by the HECU rather than Black Mesa security.
  • In the alpha version of Half-Life, the Black Mesa security guards would carry a nightstick on their left side.[5]
  • Security guards and scientists were originally to have a much more frightened, almost cartoonish face.[4]
  • The Opposing Force, the "Otis" security guards were originally to wear helmets, like the "Barney" version. While removed in the main game, it is still present in the multiplayer model.
  • When idle, the Decay security guards were to say the following seven sentences: "Say, you think there's a future for us at the end of all this?", "Don't worry darlin', I'm right beside you!", "Not to worry, ma'am, I'm a trained professional!", "That's a flattering HEV Suit you got there - if you don't mind my saying so.", "The orange in that suit really brings out your eyes!", "I like you in orange!" and "I like how you hold that gun!".[6] The remarks about the orange HEV Suit refer to the original suit color that was to be used by both Gina and Colette.[7] The sounds were re-included in the PC port of Decay.
  • The AI of the security guard was reused for the Conscripts, until they were cut from Half-Life 2.[8]

Security guards list[]

The security guards feature two models. The "Barney" model, the only one met in Half-Life, from which Barney Calhoun was retconned. It went through several general versions before the current one: the very first one was a Don Knotts-looking, very simple model, with big eyes and a Military Police helmet. The second one is more detailed, has smaller eyes, and still has a white Military Police helmet. The third one is slightly different, has even smaller eyes and a simple security guard helmet. This is the one seen in the Black Mesa Security Force poster in the retail games. The fourth one is the retail version, having two HD versions (one introduced in the High Definition Pack, the other in Decay, also featured in the Dreamcast version of Half-Life). At the start of Blue Shift, this model can be seen on the tram platform without equipment. they also have a multiplayer version, with a red shirt in Half-Life, and a blue shirt in Opposing Force. A Zombie version was also introduced in Opposing Force.

The other model is the "Otis" model, the overweight security guard introduced in Opposing Force. He was originally to wear a helmet and a moustache only, and was subsequently expanded to a non-moustachioed version, and a black version in Blue Shift, although it is not seen in game. He has a slightly different personality that the Barney version, and is shown liking doughnuts, sodas, and candy. He was derived into Otis Laurey.

Security guards are only referred by the name Barney, being only their model name.

Early game models Game models HD game models Models Names Comments
Barney MP

MP barney Bm23.2 Bm24-front Bm24.2

Barneymodel LD Barney NoEquipment Barneymulti red Barneymulti blue

Zombie security guard

Barneymodel hd Barney sansequipment Barneymodel decay Barney Barney The classic Half-Life security guard.
Otishelmet multiplayer Otissimple Otis 01
(Opposing Force)
Otis The overweight security guard, wearing a standard shirt. He is the first security guard interacted with at the start of Opposing Force, where he kills a zombie and lets Shephard through the door once he has collected his Powered Combat Vest.
Otismoustache donut Otis 02
(Opposing Force)
Otis Variant of the overweight security guard. He wears a short-sleeve shirt, is balding, bears a moustache and has thicker eyebrows. He can be seen for in Blue Shift's shooting range, not knowing how to take out his gun without letting his donut go.
Otisblack Otis 02
(Blue Shift)
Otis African-American variant of the overweight security guard.


  • The poster promoting the BMSF found in the sector C elevator hall uses an old model of the security guard, taken from the gun draw animation. The text is a placeholder, reading "If you can read this shit then you are really [frockin] strange with good [eye] yes" on the left and "Insert text of interest here / no really / go ahead and picture / something cool / in your minds eye / make something up [of] [what] / you would like for this to say".
  • A cheat code in the Dreamcast version of Half-Life that provides the character with invincibility is "Otis loves Dreamcast".
  • Characters from The Andy Griffith Show bear the names of Barney and Otis. It is probable, though not verified, that the references are intentional. Also, the original Barney model bears a striking resemblance with Don Knotts, one of the actors of the show, who played the character named Barney Fife, which in the United States has long been a disparaging term for an inept and incompetent policeman.[9] Hal Smith, who played the character named Otis, bears some resemblance with the Otis model.
  • In Opposing Force, the "Otis" security guard functionally replaces the "Barney" security guards, as the latter cannot be seen fighting anything that will affect the player's progress. The "Otis" guard is the most interacted with. Although looking less threatening than the "Barney" guards, the "Otis" guards are actually more effective than the "Barney" class, mostly because of their much more powerful and accurate handgun (the Desert Eagle, as opposed to Barney's Glock).
  • The "Otis" security guard from Opposing Force will sometimes say random and humorous things parodying the "Barney" guards lines, such as "I'll stay here and pretend to guard this area".
  • The "Otis" guards reflect some clichés related to his appearance of being a fat man. He says humorous lines that suggests he lives with his mother, states he would like to mount things over his fireplace (if he had one), among other lines.
  • Although the "Otis" guard has death animations in Opposing Force, attempting to kill an "Otis" security guard in Blue shift (with cheats) will not work. If hit by a weapon, the security guard will simply cycle through animations.
  • When a security guard is shooting the player in Half-Life: Source, his pistol seems to have a higher rate of fire as though he is firing in automatic mode. Although, If the High Definition Pack is installed, the security guard will always fire his pistol in automatic mode.
  • During the fifth mission of Half-Life: Decay, "Domestic Violence." A security guard Corpse can be found floating in a pool, having supposedly drowned. It is unknown if this occurred before or after the Resonance Cascade. This corpse has, at least, 3000 health, which is more than the Nihilanth. If the player manages to destroy it using their weapons (it takes 600 hits of a crowbar to destroy it), it will explode into a Snark nest, which can be collected.
  • Security Guards in Half-Life: Source will not shoot the player if they see the player kill a Scientist or another security guard.
  • In Half-Life: Source, guards will not chase enemies if the guard is following the player, they will chase enemies if not following the player. The guard will not shoot at any enemy when the player is moving.
  • Barney (along with other security guards) is voiced by the same voice actor for G-Man, Michael Shapiro.
  • In some scripted sequences, a guard will holster his weapon. the gun will reapper in his hand after the animation is done.
  • In Half-Life: Day One, Barney has a different walking animation.




Half-Life: Opposing Force[]



Half-Life: Uplink[]

Half-Life: Opposing Force[]

Half-Life: Blue Shift[]

Half-Life: Decay[]

Half-Life 2[]


List of appearances[]