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Imagecat This article is about the Half-Life 2 character. For his predecessors, see Eli Maxwell and Captain Vance.
Imagecat For other uses, see Vance (disambiguation).
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"I knew if you both stayed together you could get through anything. "
―Eli Vance to Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance.[src]

Dr. Eli Vance is a former Black Mesa researcher and physicist. Decades after the Black Mesa Incident, he has become one of the key leaders in a fight against the Combine’s totalitarian rule. He wears a prosthetic leg to replace his left leg beneath the knees.



As seen on his sweater, Eli is presumably a graduate of Harvard University.


Eli Vance talk HL1

Eli at Black Mesa.


"Gordon, you're alive! Thank God for that Hazard Suit! "
―Eli Vance[src]

By 200-, Vance is employed at the Black Mesa Research Facility, working in Sector C's Anomalous Materials. As a full-time employee of Black Mesa, he lives in the facility itself with his wife Azian and their young daughter Alyx.

Although he was never named during the game or featured as a full character, he is seen on two occasions.[2][3] First, when Gordon Freeman is making his way into the test chamber: Dr. Vance and another scientist voice their concerns that their computer equipment is being damaged due to the heightened strains of the morning's experiment. Second, when Gordon retraces his steps through Sector C after the Resonance Cascade, he encounters Vance and the scientist he had been with earlier, who is now badly injured. Vance informs Gordon that the telephone network has broken, and sends him up to the surface to seek help. His last act in Half-Life is to operate the retinal scanner that starts Gordon on his long quest through the facility.

Half-Life 2[]


After assisting Gordon in the aftermath of the Resonance Cascade, Eli managed to escape the facility along with Alyx, although Azian perished in the Black Mesa Incident. Alyx, a family picture, and his wedding ring which he still wears were all he managed to carry out of Black Mesa.[2][3]

After escaping, he relocated to City 17, where he contributed to founding the local Resistance and became the leader of Black Mesa East. During that period, he also lost his leg to a Bullsquid while helping Isaac Kleiner climb over a barrier in order to get into City 17.[2][4]

During his work at Black Mesa East, he also raised Alyx and built Dog to protect her when she was a kid. He also designed the Gravity Gun, worked on teleportation with Kleiner and Judith Mossman and rebuilt with his daughter a Scout Car for the Resistance outposts located along the Coast, on which he mounted a Tau Cannon.[3]

According to the Vortigaunts, Eli was the first human being to make peaceful contact with them ("The Eli Vance was our first collaborator."), quickly persuading the alien race to ally with humanity against the Combine invasion of Earth. Vortigaunts furthermore state that Eli earned their trust, is indispensable to the liberation and that he almost perceives the "All-in-One".[3]


Eli and Alyx Vance chatting at Black Mesa East.

As survivors of the Black Mesa Incident, Eli, Alyx, Isaac Kleiner, and Barney Calhoun, form the core of the Resistance who are attempting to overthrow the Combine who have taken over Earth after the Seven Hour War. The Vances have established a makeshift laboratory, Black Mesa East, on the outskirts of City 17. There, Dr. Judith Mossman assists them in their continuing research in the field of teleportation.

When Gordon Freeman is freed from stasis in 202-, he is reunited with his old colleagues and is to link up with Eli at his lab. Kleiner and Vance briefly establish a working teleport system between their two labs; the system fails on its second attempt due to interference from Lamarr, forcing Gordon to reach Black Mesa East on foot.

When Freeman arrives at Eli's lab, his arrival triggers an invasion by Combine forces, who had been chasing him throughout. The soldiers then capture Eli and take him to Nova Prospekt.

Later Gordon and Alyx storm the prison to free him, fighting off hordes of Combine forces to locate Eli and Mossman. During the final siege, however, Mossman teleports herself and Eli into the Citadel.

While infiltrating the Citadel, Gordon and Alyx are captured; Dr. Breen addresses both Vances and Freeman in his office with Dr. Mossman at his side, revealing her double agent role. Mossman then turns on Breen and frees his hostages, and stays with Eli while Alyx and Gordon pursue the fleeing Breen.

Before the dark fusion reactor is destroyed and before Gordon and Alyx are rescued by Vortigaunts, Eli and Judith use one of Dr. Breen's escape pods to leave the Citadel, and reach a Vortigaunt camp, "way outside the city", possibly in the Outlands.[5]

Half-Life 2: Episode One[]

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Eli smiling to Alyx while she puts her hand on the screen at the foot of the Citadel.

In Episode One, Eli appears at the beginning of the game in a monitor transmission with Dr. Kleiner, telling Alyx and Gordon to get out of City 17 before the Citadel Core explodes. He is likely already at White Forest, that he reached with Mossman, who left soon after they arrived.[6] It is the only appearance of Eli in the game.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[]

In Episode Two, Eli works with Kleiner and Magnusson at White Forest on a rocket that will neutralize the Portal Storms, and prevent the Combine from drawing reinforcements through their dormant Superportal. When Gordon and Alyx arrive, they deliver a recording of Judith Mossman's transmission about the Borealis, which never reached White Forest. Eli is visibly shaken by the danger Mossman is in, and is only prevented from going after her himself by pressure from Alyx and Kleiner. When the Borealis appears in the transmission, Eli immediately wishes it destroyed, lest the events of Black Mesa repeat themselves. Alyx then delivers a subliminally implanted message given to her by the G-Man, to "prepare for unforeseen consequences." After a moment of extreme shock, Eli appears to dismiss the message, asking that Alyx make him tea in another room.

Ep end 33

Eli being killed by an Advisor.

Once Alyx has left, Eli states that he too is aware of the G-Man's existence (the first character in the Half-Life universe to openly do so). He indicates to Gordon that the Xen crystal that began the events of Half-Life was delivered by the G-Man and that Alyx's survival in Black Mesa was due to his interference. Moments after Gordon entered the Black Mesa test chamber, the G-Man warned Eli to "prepare for unforeseen consequences". He also makes it very clear that he knows that Gordon is aware the G-Man's existence, revealing that he may know of Gordon's direct involvement with him and his 20 years of stasis. He is convinced that the current warning relates to the Borealis, and seems to take it seriously despite his resentment over the way in which it was delivered. Eli indicates he can reveal more about the G-Man, but before he can do so, Alyx re-enters the room, and the conversation is halted.

After the rocket is successfully launched, Eli thanks Gordon for everything and tells him he could not be prouder if he were his own son. He also tells him he has more information to reveal and that he will get back to that later. They then watch the Superportal being shut off by the rocket, then Gordon and Alyx get ready to leave and undertake their search for Judith Mossman with a helicopter. Arriving in the hangar where the helicopter is stationed, Eli and Alyx embrace in an affectionate moment. A few seconds later, two Advisors break in the warehouse through a glass pane, and one proceeds to pin Alyx and Gordon to the wall. Eli then grabs a lone pipe and swings at one of the Advisors, which only angers it. The Advisor then grabs Eli and uses its tongue to kill him, while Gordon and Alyx watch helplessly. Dog suddenly arrives and chases away the two Advisors, severely wounding the one that was holding Alyx and Gordon. Alyx then weeps over her father's corpse, as the screen fades to black and the credits roll.

Half-Life: Alyx[]

Five years before his death, Eli is looking to steal a reactor with the help of Alyx and his friend Russell when they discover images of a mysterious building. Their discovery results in Alyx and Eli's capture by the Combine, and Eli is placed on a Combine train to be interrogated at Nova Prospekt. While in captivity, Eli decrypts a Combine datapad and learns the building contains a superweapon that the Combine wants. He is rescued from the train by Alyx and a Vortigaunt and tells her the Combine sealed the superweapon in a massive ship called the Vault. He tells her that she will need to deactivate the Vault to get it under Resistance control.

Eli makes it back to Russell's lab safely shortly afterwards. While digging through further information he learns the Vault does not actually contain a superweapon, but is meant as a gigantic prison for something the Combine does not want getting out. When Alyx investigates further, she learns it contains a survivor of the Black Mesa Incident. Eli assumes this survivor must be Gordon Freeman, and he urges Alyx to free him from captivity. Just as Alyx enters the Vault, Eli suddenly figures out who the prisoner actually is and frantically tries to tell Alyx not to enter the Vault, only for their communications to get cut off.

Alyx discovers the prisoner in the Vault is, in fact, the G-Man, who shows her the future where Eli dies at the hands of an Advisor and offers her the chance to save him. Alyx does so, but is then forced into becoming one of the G-Man's new hires in place of Gordon.

In the altered timeline, Gordon wakes up at White Forest to find Eli alive, Alyx missing and the Combine Advisor slain. Eli, seeing that Alyx dissapeared, realizes the "unforeseen consequences" were Alyx becoming a part of the G-Man's schemes, causing him to swear revenge. Dog arrives with Gordon's crowbar, which Eli hands to Gordon and declares that they have work to do.


Ep2 outland 110022

Alyx hugging her father.

Alyx Vance[]

Having lost a wife and a mother, Eli and Alyx are very close. He calls her "baby", "honey" or "sweetheart" and is willing to sacrifice himself for her when she and Gordon come to rescue him at Nova Prospekt. At Black Mesa East and White Forest, Eli also teases her several times about her relationship with Gordon and suggests he would not mind having grandchildren from them. Eli and Alyx seem even closer in Half-Life 2's Episode Two, embracing and expressing joy at being together again. Right before Eli dies, he tells her how he loves her one last time. When the Advisor let go of his body, Alyx weeps over it, devastated, asking him to not leave her. Meanwhile in an alternate timeline, the G-man takes a 19 year old Alyx Vance 5 years into the future, where she witnesses her father's death. Given the opportunity to prevent Eli's death, she immediately takes it. For Eli, when he realizes that the G-Man used his death to manipulate Alyx, he angrily swears revenge.

Gordon Freeman[]

Eli talk

Eli warning Gordon in White Forest about things to come, after thanking him for everything he has done.

A few minutes before his death in Episode Two, Eli thanks Gordon for everything and tells him he could not be prouder if he were his own son. He holds Gordon in high esteem and is very admiring of his courage through his ordeals since the Black Mesa Incident. He also does not blame him (though he does seem to somewhat blame himself) for what happened in Black Mesa.

Isaac Kleiner[]

Eli and Kleiner have both known each other and worked together since the days of Black Mesa. Kleiner is also affectionately nicknamed "Izzy" by Eli on various occasions. When the Borealis issue is raised, the two have conflicting views, with Kleiner suggesting utilizing the technology, while Eli argues for its destruction.

Judith Mossman[]

D3 breen 010141

Judith and Eli in Breen's office.

Judith and Eli have a somewhat ambiguous relationship. At Black Mesa East, Judith seems fully devoted to Eli. During the confrontation with Breen in the Citadel, it is learned that Mossman had bargained for Eli's life, so he could continue his research. When she realizes Breen has changed the plans and will have both Eli and Alyx killed instead while he tries to win Gordon's allegiance, she has a change of heart and saves the trio. After Alyx and Gordon leave Breen's office to pursue the latter, Mossman stays with Eli, telling him she won't leave him again, as they stay sitting on the ground, appearing very close. When later it is learned that Mossman is in danger after having discovered the Borealis, Eli blames himself for the situation, stating he should never have let her go. There is probably more than meets the eye between the two, but Eli died before they could reunite, thus halting the revelation of new clues about their relationship, although Mossman's reaction to Eli's death is ultimately left unspecified due to his revival.

Wallace Breen[]

Breen, Eli's former boss at Black Mesa, is quickly shown to be strongly disliked by Eli when he is introduced by Alyx on the propaganda poster found near Kleiner's Lab's hidden entrance. At that point, Alyx suggests that Gordon should not "get her father started" on the subject of Dr. Breen. In the final confrontation with Breen in the Citadel, Eli goes on to explain that he despises Breen for selling himself to the Combine at humanity's expense, and later describes what he has done to Earthlings as "beyond words", "genocide", and "indescribable evil". Eli then challenges his adversary to kill him and Alyx, "if that's the worst [he] can do."

The G-Man[]

Not much is known about Eli's knowledge about the G-Man. He has given hints that he may know as much as Wallace Breen about Gordon and the G-Man's arrangement. The only confirmed topic that is known however is his involvement with the Anti-Mass Spectrometer in Half-Life 1. Eli has claimed that the G-Man whispered "Prepare for unforeseen consequences" (exactly the same words that lead him to collapse in shock) in which Eli has responded to Gordon "...I should have aborted that damned test". It appears he is still unsettled by the event and remembers what the G-Man was warning about. If this is true, then perhaps the G-Man was warning Eli (and maybe even Gordon) about the potential of the Borealis. Since the ship was owned by Aperture Science, the research facility that was experimenting with teleportation, and the Anti-Mass Spectrometer was what led to the Resonance Cascade and the Black Mesa incident, the Borealis may contain technology powerful enough to open a dimension that could end both Combine and rebel forces (in other words, another Black Mesa incident). After Eli has learned about the consequences of using teleportation technology, he believes that the Borealis must be destroyed before the Combine can use it to reestablish contact with their Home World. Despite these reasons, the explanation on why the G-Man has displayed an interest in the Vance family remains unknown.

Personality and skills[]

Eli is warm, good-humored, and charismatic, holding everyone around him in the aura of his personal charm.[4] A skilled scientist, he designed the Gravity Gun and Dog, "put together" the Shorepoint Scout Car with his daughter (adding the Tau Cannon to it himself), and was able to rebuild a teleport with the aid of the other key Resistance Members. Eli may also have had previous experience with a melee weapon, seeing that his fight against the Combine Advisor did some damage. But, it was futile, seeing as the Advisor plunged its "tongue" into the back of Eli's neck, killing him.

Behind the scenes[]

Scientist 03

Scientist03 model.

  • Similar to Kleiner, Eli is essentially the "scientist03" (or "Luther") model from Half-Life turned into a real character.
  • Eli's face was based on that of a unidentified local man who was holding a sign indicating that he was looking for work, he was found on the street by Valve employees.[2]
  • Eli Vance stems from two merged characters, Eli Maxwell and Captain Vance. Maxwell was to be a scientist unrelated to Alyx and fill the same role as Eli in Black Mesa East, already building the Gravity Gun and owning Dog. Captain Vance, Alyx's father, was to be one of the few surviving Military Leaders of Earth, whose control of the Conscripts allows him to work undercover for the Resistance against the combine in the ensuing uprising.
    • One of his predecessor's Black knit/watchers' cap based on one of the concept arts, got reused in Half-Life: Alyx, as for seemly his successor chances of not being caught by the Combine.
  • According to Valve's Bill Van Buren, the decision to kill Eli was not made lightly. Once they made it, they had to figure out how to make it meaningful. They had already established Eli's frailty, as well as his importance to the Resistance and Alyx's devotion to him, so from a narrative point of view, the impact of his death seemed obvious. The hard part for the team was the execution of the death scene. The Advisors' ability to immobilize the player gave them a way to stage it, the animations and the sound design made it believable, but the performances by Merle Dandridge and Robert Guillaume were the key element. Bill Fletcher gives further details: to create the sequence, the team talked it through in great detail, wrote up an outline with all the events they had discussed, and then produced an animatic. They used rough sketches painted over screenshots, and a variety of crude special effects and sounds to create a quick pre-visualization of how the scene would play out. Not only did this help them to converge on a shared vision for the scene, but by working rough, they were able to quickly iterate until they had a design worth implementing in the game.[9]
  • The loss of the leg was originally to be mentioned by Eli in his lab,[10] but was ultimately cut, to be only mentioned in Raising the Bar and the Half-Life 2 Prima Guide. Early sound files found in the playable Half-Life 2 Beta files, dating from when Eli was still known as Eli Maxwell (as the file names feature the name "maxwell"), indicate that he was to lose his leg to a Particle Storm.[10]


  • "Eli" is a Hebrew name meaning "ascension". In the Old Testament, Eli was the high priest of Israel and the teacher of Samuel. In England, "Eli" has been used as a Christian name since the Protestant Reformation.[11] "Vance" is an English surname meaning "dweller by a fen, marsh", derived from the Old English word "fenn".[12]
  • It is possible to "save" Eli at the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 2. If the player uses cheats, one can use "noclip" and kill the two Combine Advisors, which are located outside of the warehouse. However, when the player returns to where Eli and Alyx are waiting for him and attempt to resume, there will be a "glitch" in which both will stop and do nothing inside the building while the cutscene still plays the audio normally.
    • Additionally, it is also possible to "save" Eli using the prop "Flying" glitch. To perform this, you will need to fly over to the location of the Advisors and kill them, afterwards, you will need to return to the area in which Eli and Alyx are waiting for the player. Performing this glitch results in the same "glitched" cutscene being played.
  • Like Kleiner, Eli has only eight points of health.



Half-Life 2[]



Half-Life 2: Episode Two[]

Half-Life: Alyx[]

List of appearances[]


See also[]