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"The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world."
―The G-Man[src]
 

The G-Man is an enigmatic and mysterious character that appears in nearly every title of the Half-Life series. Referred to as a "sinister interdimensional bureaucrat,"[4] he is known to display peculiar behavior and wield superhuman powers.

The G-Man's identity and motives remain unexplained. His allegiance is also unknown to this day, although he and his Employers are apparent enemies to the Combine and are seen as a threat by them.[5] Nevertheless, the G-Man appears as the main antagonist in Half-Life: Alyx.

The G-Man plays the role of an overseer and eventual employer. He often appears in odd and unreachable places, observing Gordon Freeman and other characters, periodically aiding or hindering them.

Appearances

Half-Life

The G-Man congratulating Gordon Freeman in an elevator on Xen.

The G-Man is first seen along the Sector C Line, standing in an electric tram frozen on the track opposite the tram that Freeman is traveling on during the Half-Life introduction sequence. He somehow manages to arrive at the Test Labs and Control Facilities before Freeman. Before the experiment begins, the G-Man can be seen arguing with a scientist in a locked, sound-proof room of the Research section of the Anomalous Materials Lab where only mumbling can be heard. Following the catastrophic Resonance Cascade which commences the game's action through Black Mesa, the G-Man can be seen quietly observing Gordon Freeman in several out-of-reach areas as the game progresses.

After Gordon defeats the Half-Life final boss, Nihilanth, the ruler of Xen, G-Man brings the player to "safety" in an inexplicable, abstract sequence. Appearing beside Gordon, having stripped him of his armaments while claiming the excuse that "most of them were government property," and showing him various areas of Xen. The G-Man tells Gordon that he has been observing him very carefully and praises him on his actions in Xen, which is now in his "employers'" control. As he says this, dead HECU Marines, destroyed tanks, and a downed jet fighter can be seen around this area of Xen, suggesting that U.S. military forces participated in capturing Xen for the G-Man's "employers", although this may merely be part of G-Man's illusions.

Eventually, the scene changes into what appears to be a Black Mesa tram traveling through space at high speed. The G-Man then informs him that he has recommended Gordon's services to his "employers," and offers him a job. Canon states that Gordon takes the job, although the player is given a Hobson's choice, the "illusion of free choice" being reminded by the G-Man in Half-Life 2. Declining the offer results in the unarmed Freeman facing a horde of hostile Alien Grunts as the screen fades to black with the G-Man's final words; "No regrets, Mr. Freeman." Interestingly, within the game files, an extended line of this can be found: "(...) but there are a few survivors of your personal holocaust, who would like the chance to meet the man responsible for the total annihilation of their race." (This line may have been referencing the Xen creatures.)

Half-Life: Opposing Force

The G-Man preventing Adrian Shephard from escaping from the Black Mesa Research Facility. The Marines behind the G-Man appear oblivious to his presence.

In Opposing Force, the G-Man plays a slightly more direct role in the story, alternately hindering and aiding the player, Corporal Adrian Shephard, as well as observing him.

During the boot camp training chapter, the G-Man can be spotted at a window speaking to an officer and occasionally glancing at the player. Since the drill instructor mentions that Shephard's training has mysteriously accelerated, the implication is that the G-Man had an interest in Shephard before the Black Mesa incident, for unknown reasons.

During the chapter Welcome to Black Mesa, Shephard is trapped on a small walkway, with deadly radioactive liquid rising steadily towards him. The G-Man opens a door allowing him to escape, saving his life. One chapter later, "We Are Pulling Out," 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 in the chapter "The Package," the G-Man is seen rearming the nuclear bomb that eventually destroys Black Mesa, while Shephard had deactivated it moments prior. As he cannot return to the truck, the destruction of the facility became inevitable.

After Shephard defeats the Gene Worm at the end of the game, G-Man appears again. On this occasion, Shephard finds himself onboard one of the HECU's V-22 Ospreys, facing the G-Man. The G-Man informs Shephard that, contrary to his employer's original wishes, Shephard is to be spared and detained. The G-Man says that he has been impressed by Shephard's ability to "adapt & survive against all odds" in the Black Mesa facility and comments that these are traits that 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 portal in the cockpit, and the screen fades to the closing titles.

Half-Life: Blue Shift and Half-Life: Decay

In both Blue Shift and Decay, 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 either doesn't seem to notice any of them, or he ignores them. This suggests that he either doesn't have the same interest in them that he has in Gordon Freeman and Adrian Shephard, or he was too busy.

Half-Life 2

The G-Man in Half-Life 2, as he addresses Freeman at the beginning of the game

Half-Life 2 begins with Gordon being greeted by the G-Man around 20 years after the Black Mesa Incident 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 safety and that an opportunity has now arisen which will allow Freeman to begin his campaign against the Combine forces on Earth. He continuously refers to Gordon Freeman as "Mister Freeman" throughout the introductory sequence, forgoing Gordon's proper title of doctor. 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. After an uphill battle in the Citadel, Gordon causes critical damage to the structure's Dark Energy reactor, resulting in an explosion that might have caused his death, had the G-Man not seemingly stopped time to extract Gordon to safety to await further "employment offers" (while leaving Alyx to perish in the explosion). The game ends with travel through the same emptiness that was the Half-Life ending, and with the G-Man stepping through some doorway portal, though not before fixing 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, justifying that the current situation is "extraordinary" enough to contemplate taking up any of these offers. Before their showdown, Doctor Breen also asks Gordon, "Did you realize your contract was open to the highest bidder?", probably a reference to the "contract" Gordon has with the G-Man.

Half-Life 2: Episode One

The G-Man in his only appearance in Episode One, as he is held back by Vortigaunts. The scene also depicts, for the first time, the G-Man without his signature briefcase. The scene also mirrors the Vortigaunts seen during the Resonance Cascade in Half-Life.

The G-Man is only seen once in Episode One. At the beginning of the game, which begins at the point when Half-Life 2 ends, he walks back into the black void that he left Gordon in 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 Gordon, he realizes what is happening. Irritation changes to anger. As two more Vortigaunts stand on either side of Gordon and grab his arms, the G-Man straightens his tie more violently than before and sternly responds to their chant with a single sentence: "We'll see... about that!". Gordon is then immediately teleported away and found by Dog in a pile of rubble just outside the Citadel.

This incident shows the Vortigaunts can enter the G-Man's realm. This is also the first time any hindrance (definitive or temporary) is seen in the G-Man's plans. Not to mention the first time the G-Man displays anger, if strongly restrained.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

 
"Dr. Freeman...I realize this moment may not be the most...convenient for a 'heart-to-heart'..."
―The G-Man[src]
 

The G-Man talking to Alyx.

The G-Man first appears to Gordon while a group of Vortigaunts is occupied healing the heavily wounded Alyx Vance. He explains that the reason for his absence is that the Vortigaunts have been preventing him from appearing to Gordon, thus he needed to wait for the Vortigaunts to be preoccupied so that he could contact him. Just like in Half-Life 2, he appears in a surreal, dream-like sequence taking place in several locations: the rocket silo located at White Forest, the same corridor as the one seen in the message left by Judith Mossman, and what seems to be the entrance to the Anomalous Materials Laboratories in the Black Mesa Research Facility from Half-Life (it might also be another entrance, but this place being a striking Half-Life element, the differences seen are likely just aesthetic and related to the different game engine). He then explains that he was the one to "pluck" Alyx Vance from Black Mesa, despite objections from unidentified naysayers that she was "a mere child, and of no practical use to anyone," and that he has learned to "ignore such naysayers, when quelling them was out of the question" (An image of Doctor Breen flashes in the background during a short pause between "when" and "quelling"). He then instructs Gordon to safely escort Alyx to White Forest, as repayment for the G-Man's previous insurance of his survival, stating he wished he could do more than simply monitor Gordon, but 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. During the sequence, he seems to be less rigid and more human-like and is not seen carrying his briefcase.

Just after she delivers the message to her father, Alyx seems dizzy and holds her head, suggesting that she wasn't consciously speaking. The G-Man flashes on the screen just before she delivers the message, which could have triggered her to say it subconsciously. Another reason to believe Alyx has no idea what's happening is that she never mentions G-man at all, which she would if she could remember. Eli is noticeably disturbed by the words, to the point where he almost collapses in shock. After making up 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 sample GG-3883 which ultimately caused the Black Mesa Incident, and whispered in his ear to "prepare for unforeseen consequences" shortly before the Resonance Cascade. Eli then begins to express the 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 is a warning regarding the Borealis and reiterates his belief that it should be destroyed lest the events of Black Mesa repeat themselves. Whatever Eli knew is left unsaid, as he is killed by a Combine Advisor before having the opportunity to elaborate further.

Half-Life: Alyx

Five years before the events of Half-Life 2, the G-Man is captured by the Combine with methods yet to be specified and held in a floating prison called the Vault, which is powered by Vortigaunt energy to keep him contained. After he is freed by Alyx Vance, he pulls her into his dimension. Alyx initially believes him to be Gordon Freeman, which amuses the G-Man, who claims that Freeman does not need such a powerful prison to be held captive. Alyx asks who he is, and he replies, "Perhaps what I am is not as important as what I can offer you in exchange for coming all this way," and offers his services to Alyx. She asks that the G-Man remove the Combine from Earth, but he deems it too large of a request and against the wishes of some of his employers. He then shows her the future where Eli Vance is killed by a Combine Advisor and rewinds time, giving her the opportunity to kill the Advisor. Alyx does so, and the G-Man points out she has proven a worthy successor to Freeman, whom he claims to have grown dissatisfied with due to Freeman's inability or refusal to carry out his orders. The G-Man says that Gordon Freeman has been "unable or unwilling" to "perform the tasks laid before him," which can be understood as a reference to the events of Episode One and Episode Two, where Gordon is presumably freed from the G-Man's influence by the Vortigaunts. This prompted him to travel back in time in order to find a replacement, although it is unknown why he was referred to as a survivor of the Black Mesa Incident by the Combine or how was he imprisoned inside The Vault in the first place. Alyx asks him to send her home, but he simply replies she misunderstands her situation before leaving her in stasis.

In the post-credits scene Gordon Freeman wakes up at White Forest to find Eli alive, the Advisor dead, and Alyx missing. Eli realizes that the G-Man exploited his own death to detain Alyx and angrily swears revenge. The G-Man walks away, disappearing behind a pillar. Dog then arrives, giving Eli a Crowbar, who hands it to Gordon and declares that they have a lot of work to do. What Eli was referring to is left unsaid again, though it was implied that he is plotting against the G-Man.

Appearance

The G-Man during his Episode Two monologue, here in Mossman's unnamed Arctic base.

Physically, the G-Man appears to be a middle-aged Caucasian male with a tall, thin physique, pale skin, a slightly crooked facial structure, a prominent widow's peak, black hair styled in a crew cut, and pale green eyes. In all appearances, he is seen dressed in a gray-blue suit and is almost always seen carrying a briefcase.

The G-Man speaks in a slow, commanding manner, with a certain accentuated low-key moroseness to his tone, bordering on the cryptic. Most notably, he has an odd habit of placing unusual stress on syllables, stressing the wrong parts of words, making unnecessary pauses, and awkwardly changing the pitch of his voice. He also tends to elongate consonants, especially the "S." Overall he appears to be uncomfortable with and unused to human languages.

Personality and skills

The G-Man straightening his tie behind a locked door in Sector D.

The G-Man is an almost complete enigma. In the Half-Life Audio Script, he is referred to as follows: "The cryptical bureaucrat, mystery man with a briefcase. He appears in the shadows, disappears when you chase him down dead-end corridors. He leads you into danger and guides you to safety, as the whim strikes him. His motives remain mysterious, but at the end of the game, when you have extinguished an alien civilization, he offers you a job with whoever it is he works for."[6]

The G-Man possesses a calm, almost uninterested demeanor, particularly apparent in the ruined and alien-infested Black Mesa facility. He can often be seen calmly straightening his tie or brushing his suit lapels with his hands, regardless of whatever chaos may be surrounding him. Even when angered, he maintains a decidedly restrained demeanor. (Though removed voice lines include him snarling and becoming impatient, even muttering "Well, shit." as the Vortigaunts impede him). He also has demonstrated a dry sense of humor.

He has stepped in directly and rescued Adrian Shephard and Alyx Vance before the destruction of Black Mesa, suggesting that he is capable of mercy, though it is more likely that he merely did this for his interests (and in Shephard's case, against the wishes of his employers).

The G-Man seems to occasionally take an interest in certain individuals, using his powers and skills at manipulation to guide them down certain paths. He has made pawns of Gordon Freeman, Alyx Vance, and Adrian Shephard, as well as perhaps countless others. It is also implied that he orchestrated the Black Mesa Incident, meaning that Dr. Breen was also under his influence. Individuals chosen by the G-Man can be "hired" by him after proving themselves capable of completing tasks for his goals, and are then placed in stasis until they can be useful to him. Gordon Freeman was hired after escaping Black Mesa and killing the Nihilanth, and Alyx Vance was hired after breaking him out of the Vault.

The G-Man mentioned to Adrian that he has great respect for people who can survive against incredible odds, citing that such people remind him of himself, implying that G-Man has previously been in similarly dangerous situations on his own. His message to Eli mentioning "unforeseen consequences" and the subsequent revelation about the threat to humanity posed by the Combine acquiring the technology onboard the Borealis could imply that the G-Man might secretly be sympathetic to humanity and its fight for survival. Alternatively, these actions may be more self-serving in some unknown way than sympathetic.

The G-Man on the phone at the Black Mesa dam.

The G-Man appears quite skilled with technology and is capable of operating a very wide range of machinery, ranging from simple cell phones and sealed steel doors to complex nuclear weapons (although for the latter there are instructions inside the cap) and experimental teleports and portals.[7]

Throughout the entire Half-Life series, the G-Man tends to appear in an out-of-the-way or hard to reach location and then walk away and vanish without a trace once the player arrives. He is seen twice using portals,[8] perhaps explaining his ability to appear and disappear randomly. What's more, one of the portals that he used appeared shortly before he entered it and then disappeared after he left, suggesting that the G-Man can somehow create such entities. The G-Man also seems to be able to control time, as he briefly stops the reactor explosion at the end of Half-Life 2 and transports individuals into and from stasis through different dimensions. This, however, may be the G-Man teleporting individuals to safety and putting them into stasis, creating the illusion that the world around them bends to his will.

In Half-Life: Alyx it is revealed that the G-Man is capable of time travel when during the epilogue of the game he transports Alyx and himself 5 years into the future to show her the moment when her father dies at the hands of Advisors at the end of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. He offers Alyx the possibility of changing the future, hinting he is capable of temporal manipulation. During the dialogue with Alyx, the G-Man seems to be shifting in multitude of his copies, hinting that he is either capable of being present at multiple places at once or capable of predicting and experiencing multiple various futures that are yet to happen. This can be seen when speaking to Alyx and almost every answer he gives her is followed by a new "clone" of the G-man leaving the scene as if every answer of G-man to Alyx's question created a different timeline of events.

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 Breencasts dotted around the environment; G-Man also seems to have technopathic or telepathic abilities of some sort, as the player will occasionally see his face on things such as unplugged televisions.

The G-Man likely uses the ability to manipulate the senses of individuals, to see and hear what he wants them to. This ability could explain the appearance of the G-Man on unplugged televisions or the Black Mesa Anomalous Materials lobby in the Episode 2 cutscene.

His only real weakness appears to be large amounts of Vortigaunt energy, which prevents him from using his powers. In Half-Life 2: Episode One, he is visibly angry at the combined effort of several Vortigaunts to stop him from intervening in Gordon's rescue. Likewise, in Alyx, it is revealed that the Combine have been using the energy of captured Vortigaunts to power his prison cell in the Vault.

When asked by Alyx about who he is, G-Man answers with enigmatic "Perhaps what I am is not as important..." This sentence implies that the G-man does not see himself as a person but rather as a genderless entity or being that takes the form of a human male out of necessity.

People aware of the G-Man

The G-Man and his mysterious door.

The G-Man is seen talking to various people, and yet at times, it seems that only the player can see him. However, a few characters other than Gordon Freeman seem to be aware of his existence or have interacted with him. Besides the many unnamed security, military, and science personnel in Black Mesa seen interacting with the G-Man, the characters include:

  • Adrian Shephard: He has many encounters with the G-Man during Opposing Force, from the training chapter to the ending sequence, in a similar way to Gordon Freeman.
  • Barney Calhoun: Saw the G-Man at Black Mesa, but never directly interacted with him.
  • Colette Green: Saw the G-Man at Black Mesa, but never directly interacted with him.
  • Gina Cross: Saw the G-Man at Black Mesa, but never directly interacted with him.
  • The Nihilanth: While Gordon Freeman was searching Xen for the Nihilanth, the creature could be heard transmitting various telepathic messages to him, including "You are man... he is not man... for you he waits, for you...". This seems to indicate that the Nihilanth was quite aware of the G-Man and forebodes Gordon's eventual "employment" by him, almost ironically "warning" Freeman. This also indicates that the Nihilanth either also sees the G-Man in a human form or at least understands he would take this form when appearing to Gordon.
  • Wallace Breen: From various statements given by Breen at the end of Half-Life 2, such as Gordon having "proven himself a fine pawn for those who control him" and his "contract is open to the highest bidder", it would appear that he was well aware of the G-Man's influence over Gordon Freeman. However, when Alyx questions this he whispers that Gordon does not want to discuss this in front of his friends, suggesting that at this point Alyx is not yet aware of the G-Man's existence. Additionally, when Gordon is at Nova Prospekt, he seems to suggest that he was aware of Gordon being in stasis when he says " I have good reason to believe that in the intervening years, he was in a state that precluded further development of covert skills."
  • The Vortigaunts: In Episode One, Vortigaunts are seen entering the G-Man's realm and liberating Gordon from his control, leading to an irritated "We'll see... about that!" from the G-Man. They also appear to be able to hold him back or force him away, as he rarely appears in Episode one, and since the G-Man later tells Gordon that he "had to wait until your friends were otherwise occupied" before being able to speak to him.
  • Eli Vance: In Episode Two, being much warier of him compared to other characters, Eli tells Gordon that the crystal sample for the test that would produce the Resonance Cascade was delivered by the G-Man, further referring to the character as "our mutual friend." He also explains that moments before the test began, the G-Man told him to "prepare for unforeseen consequences.", the same warning that Alyx had just given her father under the influence of the G-Man. He was about to issue a proposal to Gordon regarding the G-Man in some way, but he is interrupted before Gordon is told. Eli is later killed, leaving whatever proposal he had to lie in mystery. Following the G-Man's cross-temporal intervention, Eli is resurrected but Alyx is put into stasis, prompting Eli to swear revenge.
  • Odessa Cubbage: The G-Man can be witnessed speaking with the Colonel with Combine Binoculars, though Odessa Cubbage never mentions him. His outpost is warned to expect a Combine Gunship by the time Gordon reaches the outpost, though, suggesting that G-Man may have warned Cubbage.
  • Alyx Vance: When she is still hurt, G-Man gives her a message to be delivered to her father. It is, however, unknown if she is aware of his existence. As an infant, she was also apparently directly rescued from the destruction of Black Mesa by the G-Man, which she does not seem to remember. When reality is altered by G-Man five years before Eli's death, Alyx interacts with him properly for the first time, in which he offers to help prevent her father's death. This interaction marks the first proper audible conversation someone has made with the G-Man in the series.
  • Unnamed Scientist: A mysterious scientist affiliated with the Combine is shown to be aware of the G-Man and his activities at Black Mesa, as she argues with a Combine Advisor to relocate the G-Man and the Vault before Alyx Vance can free him.
  • Black Mesa Personnel: The G-man has been seen interacting with a scientist and a security guard. However, his conversations cannot be heard and have apparently sparked heated arguments, to the point he left in anger from a security guard in Opposing Force. Aside from these scenarios, other personnel does not seem to see or talk about the G-man.
  • HECU: He is observed talking with a sergeant in the training mission of Opposing Force. According to Adrian Shephard's diary, however, he states that several others in the base have seen him as well.
  • The Combine: The Combine is not only aware of the G-Man but see him as a threat, having him captured and trapped in a prison called the Vault.

Objects

Briefcase

Except for the opening sequence in Episode One and the Episode Two sequence, the G-Man is always seen carrying a briefcase, and its contents have often been debated. In the original Half-Life, using the "noclip" cheat, or with the aid of a model/texture viewer, it is possible to see its contents. However, since the contents of the briefcase are never seen during normal gameplay, they may constitute nothing more than an Easter egg. These contents appear to be as follows:

  • Three pencils
  • One sheet of paper
  • A handgun in a holster
  • An electronic identity card

It must be noted that this only applies to his original Half-Life model, as the inside of the HD and Half-Life 2 models are blank.

Gallery

Other objects

Near the Gargantua scene in the Opposing Force chapter Foxtrot Uniform, G-Man is seen for a moment talking on a cellphone before disappearing into a portal.

List of exact in-game locations

 
"I wish I could do more than keep an eye on you, but I have agreed to abide by certain... restrictions."
―The G-Man[src]
 

The G-Man is notable for appearing several times in each game, often in out-of-the-way locations. It may be difficult for a first-time player to see him, and it is almost universally impossible to go directly to where he is standing. When it is possible, he always disappears from that place before the player can reach it. If fired upon, he is always unharmed and never reacts to the shot. In the Half-Life chapter Lambda Core, it is learned that the G-Man can suddenly disappear by using portals.

This list does not include the introduction and ending sequences in which he speaks to the player character directly.

Half-Life

  • Black Mesa Inbound (c0a0d): When the tram Gordon is riding pauses briefly, the G-Man can be seen standing with a scientist in another tram frozen on the track.
  • Anomalous Materials (c1a0): The G-Man can be seen standing in an inaccessible room arguing with a scientist, where only a looping sound of mumbling can be heard. The words will still be impossible to hear even when noclipping inside the room, however, as it is later revealed in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 that G-Man persuaded the scientists to turn the Anti-Mass Spectrometer up to 105%, something that many scientists were concerned about. It seems likely that G-Man is trying to persuade the scientist to do so, especially since the scientist is shaking his head as if something absurd has been suggested.
  • Unforeseen Consequences (c1a1b): In his first appearance following the Resonance Cascade, he can be seen watching Gordon from a catwalk. When Gordon arrives at the same spot, it is revealed that the G-Man disappeared in an apparent dead end, where a Zombie is eating a dead scientist.
  • Office Complex (c1a2b): As Gordon battles his way out of the office complex, the G-Man can be seen behind a locked door, watching. As usual, he straightens his tie, brushes his suit with his hand, and walks off along a balcony over a corpse-filled cafeteria visited before by the player (he appears only when the player visits the map for the second time, after going through cold storage rooms).
  • We've Got Hostiles (c1a3d): Immediately before Gordon's first encounter with the HECU Marines, the G-Man is seen on a high catwalk, apparently heading towards the soldiers. (Note that in Day One, he can be shot, and he will react in fear. This is not present in the retail version, though.) However, when Gordon arrives at the same spot, the Marines have only just arrived, while a nearby scientist does not mention having seen him.
  • Power Up (c2a1): When Gordon arrives at Sector E Track Control, he sees the G-Man watching him from a control room. By the time Gordon gets there, though, the control room is boarded up from the outside, and a wounded security guard there indicates no sign of having seen him.
  • Apprehension (c2a3b): In a large room filled with industrial pistons, the G-Man can be seen at the far end of the room. He leaves in a direction which leads to several hostile aliens and soldiers.
  • Lambda Core (c3a2c): In the deserted Lambda Complex, Gordon watches through a window into a deserted room filled with Headcrabs. The G-Man, standing on a raised floor, briefly looks at Gordon before stepping into a glowing portal. This is the first time the player sees the G-Man using portals, explaining how he has been able to so quickly get around the complex and disappear (especially into the aforementioned dead ends) before the player was ever able to reach him.

Gallery

Half-Life: Uplink

Uplink (hldemo1): At the very end of the demo, Gordon arrives in a large room filled with computers. A Gargantua breaks in and begins killing the hiding personnel. As the monster wreaks havoc, the G-Man calmly watches from a corridor, straightens his tie, and, as the Gargantua approaches Gordon, slowly strolls away.

Gallery

Half-Life: Opposing Force

  • Boot Camp (ofboot1): As Shephard walks through the camp towards his training area, he can see the G-Man and an officer watching him through a window.
  • Welcome to Black Mesa (of1a1): In a relatively undamaged area of Black Mesa, Shephard sees through a door the G-Man arguing with a security guard before walking away (using the same animation as in his Anomalous Materials appearance). After G-Man has left, the security guard won't come to the door to open it, and Shephard proceeds to the upper levels.
  • Welcome to Black Mesa (of1a3): Shephard finds himself trapped in a room that is rapidly filling up with toxic waste. The G-Man can be seen through a window, opening a door after a moment of hesitation, which allows Shephard to escape. Even though Shephard is only metering behind him, the G-Man is nowhere to be found in the next room, which is filled with toxic waste and Xen creatures.
  • "We Are Pulling Out" (of1a6): Shephard races towards a transport aircraft as the marines evacuate Black Mesa. As he is sprinting down a corridor towards the plane, the G-Man calmly appears at the end of the corridor and closes a heavy door, trapping Shephard inside. He brushes his suit and strolls away as the evacuation plane takes off.
  • Pit Worm's Nest (of4a4): When Shephard finds himself in a large garbage compactor, the G-Man can be seen quietly observing him from an observation window. After a short time, he opens the door and leaves.
  • Foxtrot Uniform (of5a4): After a battle with Race X aliens, Shephard arrives at the damaged Hydro-Electric Dam where HECU soldiers are firing at a trapped Gargantua. Standing in the intake tower where Gordon climbs into in Half-Life is the G-Man, who finishes a conversation on a cellphone and steps into a portal, where Sprites can also be seen rushing into.
  • "The Package" (of6a4): Shephard arrives in an underground car park and deactivates a nuclear bomb. After a security guard lets him through a locked door, Shephard sees the G-Man rearming the bomb. If the player attempts to backtrack to the bomb to deactivate it again, he will discover that the previously open chain link fence leading there is now locked, making it impossible.

Gallery

Half-Life: Blue Shift

Insecurity (ba_maint): Seen riding on a tram as Calhoun watches from a maintenance area between Sector C and Sector G. He does not seem to notice Barney and is not seen later in the game. Strangely, the scientist seen before mentions that no trams in that area are in operation at the time.

Gallery

Half-Life: Decay

Dual Access (dy_accident1): Riding up in a glass-walled elevator after participating in a security registration scan in Sector C, Gina Cross and Colette Green can see the G-Man pass, riding downward in an adjacent elevator. Unused animations on the PS2 port of Half-Life show him appearing to have just opened or closed his briefcase on a table before looking up with an annoyed expression on his face at someone, possibly Gina or Colette, before the animation ends. It is well known that Decay had three chapters cut before release, it is possible this animation came from one of the cut missions or could be connected to the unused scientist line on the game's disc: "You! With the briefcase, you've got to help me get out of here!"

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Half-Life 2

  • Point Insertion (d1_trainstation_01): Vaguely seen in a large rectangular monitor that flickers his image along with other Breencasts right before Barney is met. This instance is not in the PC version.
  • Point Insertion (d1_trainstation_03) (cut): The version of that map found in the WC mappack folder "d1_trainstation" features the G-Man riding in front of a tram that flies above the street, mirroring his first appearance in Half-Life.[9] It is unknown if it was created only as a test or that it was to appear in the final game somehow.
  • "A Red Letter Day" (d1_trainstation_05): If the player flips through the monitor in Kleiner's Lab a few times, eventually it will come across the G-Man staring at the other side of a fence before walking away. The location can be accessed by noclipping. There, it appears that the G-Man can be killed and that the area is the remainder of a small portion of the start of the train station found in d1_trainstation_01 in the playable Beta, where the incoming train stops.
  • Route Kanal (d1_canals_01): In Joe's boxcar, a TV temporarily shows the G-Man, with a Vortigaunt watching and supplying television power. The G-Man appears to be in the same "studio" where Dr. Breen delivers his televised messages to City 17, complete with the Combine's logo. When Gordon falls into the boxcar and gets noticed, the Vortigaunt stops the transmission. On the PS3 version, G-Man doesn't appear here, instead, the TV is blank.
  • Water Hazard (d1_canals_06): He is seen standing on Station 7's walkway. As Gordon approaches, he disappears inside the barn, although it is filled with Zombies.
  • Water Hazard (d1_canals_06): Vaguely seen in a large rectangular monitor that flickers his image along with other Breencasts. This image (based on G-Man's model) was taken from Half-Life 2 Beta texture files originally seen in the E3 2003 video "Psyche."[9]
  • Water Hazard (d1_canals_12): Seen overlooking a ledge as Gordon's Airboat passes under.
  • Water Hazard (d1_canals_13): Before Black Mesa East, the G-Man can be spotted on a concrete ledge near the gate controls. However, once Gordon turns the wheel to raise the gate blocking his progress, the G-Man is nowhere to be found. Coincidentally, there is a sign pointing to where the G-Man stood, which states "Observation."
  • Water Hazard: In Eli's lab where the vortigaunt is working on a device, but if you screenshot it and increase the contrast in photoshop a the G-Man face should appear.
  • "We Don't Go To Ravenholm..." (d1_town_01) (cut): The G-Man was supposed to be seen in Ravenholm itself, as he can be glimpsed in the map "d1_town_01", one of the original BSPs found in the playable Half-Life 2 Beta maps folder. At the start of the map located inside a wooden building, the player has to face a Headcrab and Zombies, to be killed with the propeller trap. After breaking planks barring the way, the player, still in the wooden building, faces a fence and another building beyond it. There the G-Man can be seen through a window before disappearing very quickly. Although non-canon, this is the only instance where the G-Man seems to have been startled by the player's presence, as if he did not see them coming. Furthermore, it can be killed by the player.
  • "We Don't Go To Ravenholm..." (d1_town_05) (cut): The G-Man was to be seen in Ravenholm a second time in "d1_town_05" (the equivalent of "d1_town_03" in the final game), another map of the original BSPs found in the playable Half-Life 2 Beta maps folder. There he can be seen again through a window, but he never leaves and cannot be killed. In his dimly lit room can be found a chair, a carpet, a Standard Headcrab (not attacking), and the shotgun with an ammo box (although the room cannot be accessed) on a bed (whose model is missing). All in all, it is unknown why he is not present at all in the retail Ravenholm.
  • "We Don't Go To Ravenholm..." (d1_town_05): After leaving Ravenholm, he can barely be seen walking off into a tunnel behind a few train cars, right behind Shorepoint Base.
  • Highway 17 (d2_coast_03): Looking through the Combine Binoculars in the second house the player comes to after the Shorepoint tunnel, Gordon can spot the G-Man conversing with Colonel Odessa Cubbage at New Little Odessa. If the player looks through the binoculars again, the G-Man and Odessa have disappeared. Also, When the player arrives at the base, the G-Man is nowhere to be found. This instance is absent in the Xbox version of the game.
  • Nova Prospekt (d2_prison_02): The G-Man can be seen walking up to and peering through a door window into a Lambda cache while adjusting his tie as Gordon flips through the monitors near the beginning of the chapter.
  • Anticitizen One (d3_c17_02): After Dog is taken away by a Dropship, Combine Walls start moving towards Gordon, and some very discordant music starts playing at the same time in the ruined tenement building nearby. Gordon proceeds to the building and arrives in the same corridor featured at the very start of the map d1_trainstation_03. Instead of the door leading outside is rubble where can be seen the source of the music: an unplugged television, showing an image of the G-Man standing in a wooden boat with a crow on his shoulder. The television will shut off right after the G-Man straightens his tie, and the screen will break by itself when the player gets closer, although carrying it with the Gravity Gun will not break it. Later, one of the Rebel random sentences, "I can't get this tune out of my head!" the line seems to reference the strange tune heard on the television, since after talking the Rebel whistles similar notes. The sound file of this tune, "radio1.mp3", is located in "sound/music" in the Half-Life 2 sound files. Consisting of loops of two different tracks, bundled with interferences and garbled human voices, it can also be heard in the film 28 Days Later (at 00:26 in this video). A similar surreal scene can be seen in the WC mappack map "ickypop," involving the G-Man being held in mid-air by a flying crow and an Ichthyosaur excreting gibs while flying, which may be a test map for that sequence.[9]
  • Anticitizen One (d3_c17_03): Similar to the giant rectangular monitor seen in the Canals, the G-Man's image flickers on and off with Doctor Breen's in the Trainstation Plaza Breencast, before the monitor is toppled by Resistance members, who show no sign of seeing him.

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Half-Life 2: Episode One

  • There are no G-Man sightings in Episode One apart from his appearance in the introductory scene. The reason may be because the events of the game are not part of the G-Man's plan, as suggested by the apparent Vortigaunt intervention in the opening sequence and the G-Man's high level of annoyance in the turn of events.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

  • Freeman Pontifex (ep2_outland_06): The G-Man can be seen watching Freeman for the first time since the Vortigaunt intervention in Episode One, watching from a bridge before the player goes down to fetch the Muscle Car. He then walks towards a gate and disappears behind a wall.
  • Under the Radar (ep2_outland_10): Seen behind the White Forest Inn, at the spot where the Muscle Car gets blocked.
  • Our Mutual Fiend (ep2_outland_11b): The G-Man flickers ominously on the screen, which previously showed Dr. Mossman's recording, right before Alyx relays the message to Eli. It should be noted that Alyx is watching the screen as the G-Man appears, implying that it might be the G-Man's reminder/trigger to relay his message.

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Half-Life: Alyx

  • Point Extraction: Seen at the far left side of the White Forest hangar when Gordon wakes up in the new timeline with a living Eli Vance. He then walks away, disappearing behind a pillar. This appearance is unique in that Gordon is not the only character who spots him: Eli is shown directing his threats in the G-Man's direction, implying he can also see him.

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Behind the scenes

Picture of Frank Sheldon used as the G-Man's face texture.

  • The G-Man's name comes from "G-Man," an American colloquialism meaning "Government Man." However, he is never identified or referred to like this in any of the Half-Life games, his name being merely a code name/nickname [2] derived from his Half-Life model and entity name and has since been reused in subsequent games of the series. It has been confirmed and referred to as such in documentaries featuring Valve employees, or the voice actor credits for Half-Life 2 or Raising the Bar. Furthermore, in the manual for Opposing Force, Shephard makes mention of him as "G-Man." Also, the pre-release Half-Life model featured the United States Department of Defense logo on the briefcase. Another explanation of the G-Man's nature is given in the comment section of the file "npc_gman.cpp" in the Source SDK file "sourcesdk.gcf", the following is written: "// Purpose: The G-Man, misunderstood servant of the people." In the official Half-Life audio script finally, the G-Man is referred to as "Administrator," suggesting he is the one overseeing experiments.[6] This title was later retconned to refer to Wallace Breen.
  • Originally, Half-Life’s Black Mesa security forces were to be hostile to the player and attack them. After several tests, allied NPCs showed their usefulness and testers grew fond of their (occasionally bumbling) behaviors. The Black Mesa security guards, as well as large parts of the story, and the main character itself, were rethought. Then, the team came to think about characters that were neither allies nor enemies to the player, leading to the creation of the G-Man.[2]
  • Frank Sheldon, an Alexander Technique practitioner and the person whom G-Man's Half-Life 2 model is based on, was originally slated to be the model for Dr. Breen. It was chosen for G-Man's appearance after Bill Van Buren presented a hastily Photoshopped image of Sheldon, with chopped-off hair and a scaled-down face shape.[2]
  • Doug Wood, who designed the facial expressions of the Half-Life 2 G-Man model, wanted the player to never quite know what side the G-Man was on by giving him ambiguous facial expressions. For example, Wood would have the G-Man express an apologetic look toward Freeman as he 'regretted' to put the latter in this situation, but then have him give a slight smirk or smile at the end to keep the player guessing about his sincerity.[2]
  • The Half-Life 2 model originally had darker eyes and a blue tie instead of purple.[10]
  • The Half-Life 2 introductions went through two different versions before the final one. One version, proposed June 2, 2000, to the development team by Marc Laidlaw, has Gordon waking up amid beautiful rolling hills, with a bright blue sky, singing birds, and a modern city below. Then the G-Man appears, and the landscape starts to change to become the Combine-controlled City 17, with a wasteland around it, while G-Man does not talk much, preferring to show Gordon images instead of explaining in detail. Then, Gordon climbs into a train and the people inside it start moving, and he encounters Samuel. The second one is shorter, but the G-Man is more specific, mentioning, for example, the time lapse between Half-Life and Half-Life 2, which is said to be ten years, changed to twenty when Episode One was released. Then Gordon was to abruptly wake up on the train, and also encounter Samuel.[2]
  • In the Episode Two trailer,[11] the G-Man is shown standing over Alyx, apparently talking to Gordon and telling him that he is "not supposed to be here" and that he should "forget about all this." This dialog comes from two unused voice clips for Half-Life 2, featured in a different version of the E3 2003 video "Psyche" found at the end of the WC mappack map "hazard01",[9][10] while the scene itself was modified for the final version of the game.
  • Leftover Episode One voice lines (gman_comebacknow, gman_getbackhere, gman_notforlong, gman_notthistime) suggest that in earlier iterations of Episode One, the G-Man had a much more hostile reaction to the Vortigaunts' "theft" of Gordon, and would make a more concerted effort to pursue and reclaim him instead of simply backing off and waiting for them to become "occupied" to talk to Gordon again as he does in Episode Two.
    • One such line (gman_wellsh) contains the only instance of the G-Man using expletives.
  • During development on a project intended as a potential Half-Life 3, Valve brought back Frank Sheldon to re-scan his face for the Source 2 engine. The developers were very surprised when Sheldon, obviously familiar with the character his face had been used for, showed up to the photoshoot complete with a suit and tie. This project was ultimately canceled due to the Source 2 engine's unfinished state, but the scans were re-used for Half-Life: Alyx.[3]
  • Erik Wolpaw had never worked directly with Michael Shapiro until it came time for Half-Life: Alyx's recording sessions and was very nervous that Shapiro would not remember how to voice the G-Man after a 13-year hiatus. He and Sean Vanaman were pleasantly surprised when Shapiro stepped into the booth, read the script, and completed all of the G-Man's dialogue in one 20-minute take (most of this take is what is used in the game, plus lines recorded during pickups from later in the year).[12]
  • Valve animator Jamaal Bradley performed motion-capture animation for the G-Man in Half-Life: Alyx. Bradley posted the initial reference video on his Twitter (which includes cut audio of Merle Dandridge as Alyx).[13] A side-by-side comparison with the finished animation can be viewed here.
  • The original script for Half-Life: Alyx called for Alyx to ask G-Man what he is, as opposed to the retail version where she asks who he is. Despite the change, the G-Man's response remains the same, and he also refers to himself as a "what".[13]

Trivia

Exaggerated facial expression as seen in Garry's Mod.

First G-Man encounter in Concerned.

  • The G-Man's statement "prepare for unforeseen consequences" is a reference to the third chapter of Half-Life, Unforeseen Consequences, in which Gordon Freeman regains consciousness after the Resonance Cascade occurs. This line symbolizes the power of G-Man's words, as this event marks the beginning of the Black Mesa Incident.
  • The G-Man is famous in the Garry's Mod community for his numerous humorous poses, exaggerated facial expressions, and or as a running joke in many videos relayed by the YTMND community.[14]

A glitch that occurs in Half-Life 2

  • In February 2011, Portal series' writer Chet Faliszek mocked one of the many wild theories community members have about the G-Man by telling to the Australian arm of the website News.com that the G-Man is, in fact, a mysterious version of Gordon Freeman from the future and that he is Alyx's great grandfather. He then briefly stated, "We're not prepared to talk about that at the moment," and later told, the website "Sure it was a joke. OR WAS IT?".[15]
  • The G-Man was to be mentioned in Portal 2. At some point, soon after waking up Chell, Wheatley (Known as Pendleton at that time) was to tell her, "A man with a briefcase was just here to see you!"[16]
  • If the player is to use an impulse 101 cheat in Half-life and attempt to attack the G-Man, the G-Man is unharmed as Valve never designed and implemented a script if the G-Man is to be assaulted by the player. However, in Half-Life: Day One, if the player shoots the G-Man above the hangar in the chapter "We've got Hostiles," he will react by running away from the player. This has been removed in the retail Half-Life in which he will still react but will walk away as if nothing has happened. Elsewhere, if the player shoots the G-Man in Apprehension, the G-Man will not disappear and is not intractable.
    • In Half-Life 2, the G-Man can be killed when a player spawns an enemy NPC next to the G-Man.
  • All NPCs in Half-Life will never attack the G-Man. However, in Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, any NPCs that are not allied to the Rebels will attack the G-Man when they see him. However, this can only be seen through console commands. Note that he can only die if attacked with weapons of a high rate of fire (such as the MP7), and he will not die if attacked with slow attacks such as zombie claws or the SPAS-12.

Two G-Man models as hostages along with a Scientist in the cut map cs_hideout.

  • There is a glitch in Half-Life 2 where if the player presses the movement keys while the Half-Life 2 Logo is on screen, it will cause the G-Man to face a random direction instead of in front of the screen. (See picture above.)
  • In some beta maps of Counter-Strike, the G-Man appears as a hostage. He can be killed but lacks a dying animation because he never dies in Half-Life. The G-Man does not appear if the beta maps are played in Counter-Strike: Condition Zero as all hostages are replaced by new models.
  • Before putting Freeman in stasis at the end of Half-Life 2, the G-Man said that it felt to him as if Freeman had only just arrived. This could just be a figure of speech, but seeing how Gordon had been on his "assignment" for about half a month (including the time in stasis from the Combine teleporter), it could also imply that for the G-Man, or the realm he comes from, time moves far faster. In Half-Life: Alyx, the G-Man's ability to pull a young Alyx Vance out of time and his apparent knowledge of events in the future may suggest the G-Man experiences time differently from most.

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Models

Miscellaneous

Half-Life and its expansions

Half-Life 2 (pre-release)

Half-Life 2 (retail)

Episode One

Episode Two

Frank Sheldon

List of appearances

References

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