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"I have laid the foundation for humanity's survival, and not as we have narrowly defined ourselves, but as something greater than we could ever imagine. Something we can only now begin to glimpse. "
―To Gordon Freeman
 
Half Life Alyx

Wallace Breen as seen on a poster in Half Life; Alyx

Dr. Wallace Breen was Black Mesa's, then later, after negotiating the surrender of Earth and ending the Seven Hour War, Earth’s Administrator. From his headquarters in the Citadel of City 17, he was humanity's representative in the Combine empire and served as the primary antagonist of Half-Life 2.

Biography[]

Background[]

Half-Life and the Seven Hour War[]

Photo group001a2

Photo of the Anomalous Materials team before the Black Mesa Incident as seen in Kleiner's Lab. Breen is most likely the person crossed out in the middle.

Doctor Breen is Administrator of the Black Mesa Research Facility at the time of the Black Mesa Incident in 200-. During the events depicted in Half-Life, he is neither seen nor directly mentioned by name, instead always referred to as "the Administrator". It is at his behest that unstable sample GG-3883 is scheduled to be thoroughly analyzed in the Anti-Mass Spectrometer, requiring a dangerous operating level of 105% despite evident protests and equipment malfunctions. His insistence, in apparent collusion with the G-Man, leads to the Resonance Cascade and subsequently the Black Mesa Incident. The great "lengths" he went to in obtaining the sample alludes to the fates of numerous Survey Team members who died in Xen in order to acquire it and other specimens.

The disaster directly leads to the Seven Hour War, at the end of which he "negotiates" a peace agreement with the Combine that saves humanity, but at the cost of their freedom. Breen is appointed with charge of an entity called the Human Affairs Bureau and then later declared the "Interim Administrator" of Earth (as seen on newspaper clips in Black Mesa East). To what degree the invasion and his issuance of power was intentionally orchestrated is uncertain, but his comprehensive motivations for ensuring the Black Mesa Incident remain unknown (though almost certainly influenced by the G-Man). If his propaganda is to be believed, he may have been under the impression that introducing the Combine would have brought about a cosmic unity between the two races, and would have been ultimately beneficial for the human race (something that he still claims despite the evidently large number of humans suffering at the time of Combine occupation of Earth). Whether or not he is the one who intentionally attracted the Combine to Earth, his intentions appear to be noble on the surface, and he sounds quite sure that he is doing the right thing — though he may be simply attempting to justify his actions to the populace as much as himself. Even if he had selfish reasons for doing so, the human race most likely would have faced complete genocide had he not surrendered Earth at the end of the Seven Hour War.

Appearances[]

Half-Life 2[]

D3 breen 010005

Breen in his office at the top of the Citadel, with Mossman behind.

Breen is alerted to the return of Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2 when he is accidentally teleported to his office in the Citadel for a few seconds. Breen informs the Combine and immediately dispatches the forces at his disposal to capture (or kill) Freeman and break the associated Resistance movement in City 17.

During Gordon Freeman's raid on the Citadel, Freeman is temporarily in the custody of Breen, until Judith Mossman turns against the Administrator. During this brief time, Breen makes a very notable statement: he mentions while in the presence of Alyx Vance and her father, Eli (who are also in his custody) that Gordon "has proven a fine pawn to those who control him." He also comments that Gordon's services are "open to the highest bidder," and says he would understand if Gordon does not want to discuss it in front of his friends. These remarks imply that Breen is aware of the mysterious G-Man and his influence over Freeman, something only Eli Vance seems to know about. Another possible reference to the G-Man is in one of the Breencasts broadcast in Nova Prospekt: "I have good reason to believe that in the intervening years, he was in a state that precluded further development of covert skills.", suggesting Breen knows about Freeman having remained in stasis between the Black Mesa Incident and his comeback around 20 years later.

When the Resistance begins to loosen the Combine's hold on City 17 and Gordon Freeman infiltrates the Citadel itself, Breen attempts to flee using a Combine teleport. Freeman manages to stop him by destroying the Citadel's dark fusion reactor, which then destroys the teleport in a massive explosion. After the player destroys the reactor at the top of the Citadel, the platform that Breen is seen riding up to the portal collapses, and he is seen falling to his apparent death, his last words being "You need me!".

Half-Life 2: Episode One[]

Ep1 citadel advisors room advisor breen leaving1

Advisor Pod 314 URB-LOC 0017 leaving the Citadel.

Dr. Breen's fate remains unknown in Half-Life 2: Episode One. His only appearances in the game are during an apparent flashback/dream at the beginning, with Breen repeating a sentence from Half-Life 2 on a falling Combine monitor, asking Gordon what exactly he has created. Afterwards, while being plucked out the wreckage, one of the few things Alyx remembers is Breen falling. Another occasion of Breen's appearance is during a video recording of a conversation made during Half-Life 2, where he mentions being transferred into a "host body". After seeing Breen on the monitor, Alyx is surprised, questioning how it is possible, but is then relieved when she realizes that it is an old recording - apparently she believes that Breen is dead. In the same scene, an Advisor in its pod (with the serial number 314 URB-LOC 0017) is moved into a launching tube and begins a psychic attack against Gordon and Alyx while leaving the Citadel.

It is not clear if this attack was unprovoked as it only begins when Alyx gently taps on the casing of the pod; though there remains the possibility that Breen is actually dead and the Advisor in the pod is merely the Advisor that Breen is speaking to near the end of Half-Life 2, or any other Advisor. The game commentary included by Valve for the scene is non-committal about what the creature actually is, and only reveals that what is happening in that particular room is an important setup for events in Episode Two.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[]

Breen does not appear in Episode Two; however, during the G-Man's "heart-to-heart" with Gordon Freeman, at the mention of "naysayers" who were against the rescue of Alyx Vance from Black Mesa, Breen's image briefly flashes up on the screen behind the G-Man. The latter goes on to say that he learned to ignore such opposition when "quelling them was out of the question". This, coupled with the remarks Breen made at the end of Half-Life 2 and during his speech in Nova Prospekt, suggests more than ever that Breen was directly aware of the G-Man and his employers, and was fighting against them even before the Black Mesa Incident occurred.

Half-Life: Alyx[]

Breen negotiation

Newspaper clipping details Breens negotiations with the Combine.

In Half-Life: Alyx, Breen is only mentioned through newspapers and magazines which explain that he discovered how to communicate with the Combine and negotiate the surrender of Earth. In an article written in The Terminal newspaper, Breen receives both praise and criticism for negotiating Earth's surrender on behalf of humanity. In his own defense, the article claims that he appeared on a televised interview the night prior and offered a 'token rebuttal' to which he proclaimed "...took the only possible course of action. Those who know [him] and [his] work know [he's] not a politician. [He's] a scientist." A tech magazine named Tech Impact featured Breen in its cover story, stating that “The right man in the right place could save us all”, a reference to the G-Man’s opening speech in Half-Life 2. In addition to his appearance in various newspapers and magazines, Breen is also featured on some Combine Infestation Control signs in the Quarantine Zone which read "Congratulations. This location has been selected for habitat renewal."

As of this game's events, Breen hasn't reached the height of the power he would have during Half-Life 2 due to still having to compete with other factions of human collaborators over the privilege of becoming humanity's representative.[2]

Personality and Skills[]

Dr. Breen often praises himself as the savior of humanity, a claim not entirely unjustified as it was he who negotiated the peace treaty with The Combine. Breen is very prideful in these achievements, showing traits of narcissism in his manner of speech, how he interacts with other people, and the way he manipulates Judith Mossman. Betraying a promise to leave Eli alone and unharmed during the raid on Black Mesa East, claiming she waited too long to green-light him for an attack. He is often smug, especially when the odds are in his favor such as when he captured Eli and Alyx Vance along with Gordon Freeman himself. His cruelty backfires on him when Judith Mossman turns on him, and he is forced to retreat to a teleport. Gloating to Freeman while he tries to get to the top of the spire, before eventually trying to reason with him when he attacks the Citadel's reactor. Offering a feeble "you need me!" before plummeting to his supposed death.

Despite his supposed selfish reasons for doing so, Breen truly believed he had saved mankind when he ended the Combine invasion by negotiating Earth and humanity's surrender, as the only alternative result would be their complete extinction. As such, he believes that complying with the Combine is necessary for the survival of the human race, even stating that this may bring about benefits such as immortality, despite the Combine's harsh treatment and synthetic augmentations to its soldiers. During the Uprising, he repeatedly implored Freeman and the Resistance to stand down, stating that their actions would doom the human race. His messages became increasingly more desperate when the Combine began to view even him with suspicion, and he is even heard berating the Overwatch for their repeated failures to apprehend Freeman.

Relationships[]

Alyx poster

Alyx reintroducing Breen to Gordon.

Gordon Freeman[]

They worked together at Black Mesa. Breen seems to have mixed feelings towards Gordon: he appears admonishing towards him when addressing him via Breencasts, often questioning as to how he could simply throw everything away in favor of fighting the Combine and leading what Breen believes to be a pitiful Resistance. He also seems skeptical as to how a simple theoretical physicist could slip through Combine forces again and again, going as far as to threaten Overwatch forces with severe punishment unless they double their efforts against Freeman. However, when not in front of the public and Overwatch forces, he seems to show more respect towards Gordon, praising his abilities, yet showing his power by being slightly mocking. He attempts to bargain with Freeman for his services, stating that Gordon's contract was "open to the highest bidder".

However, Breen seems to have a deeper connection with Freeman than initially thought, as Breen heavily implies that he is aware of the G-Man and his employment of Freeman, and attempts to employ Freeman for himself. He also claims to understand why Gordon would not wish to speak openly to his friends about his "employment". (In a way, he may have remorse for Gordon as Breen was most likely subjected to unethical and morally questionable tasks as well.) In addition to this, Breen's last words to Gordon before his apparent death are "You need me!", suggesting there are many unanswered questions surrounding Breen's connection with Gordon, although in that case, he may just be referring to the fact that he's the one negotiating with the Combine for humanity's safety.

Eli Vance[]

Breen, as the former Black Mesa Administrator, was once Eli's boss, but their relationship at that time is unknown. As Earth Administrator, Breen 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 not "get [her] father started" on the subject of Dr. Breen. When Gordon approaches the corkboard with newspapers in Black Mesa East, Eli refers to Breen as "the administrator of this whole vile business." 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."

Breen likewise shows a general disrespect towards Eli and mocks both him and his daughter while they are helplessly captive. Breen acknowledges Eli's abilities and his value to the Resistance, however, and plans to barter both Gordon and Eli to the Combine, before being betrayed by Judith Mossman. When Gordon arrived in Breen's office, he was seen attempting to convince Eli to join him giving him a chance likely no one else would have the pleasure of receiving. He also seemed to somewhat enjoy their one-sided intellectual debate.

Judith Mossman[]

D3 breen 010024

Breen "Manipulating" Mossman.

Breen does not appear to show much care for Mossman as a person, as he tries to manipulate her against Eli, Freeman, and Alyx, and only uses her as a double agent. It is also Breen who points out that Mossman is only campaigning for Eli's life because of her feelings for him, something she is quick to deny. Breen also speaks to Judith dismissively, treating her as a distraction rather than a valuable asset, and showing false reassurance when telling her that she is "more than qualified" to finish Eli's work herself. However, when Mossman finally betrays Breen to save Eli, Gordon, and Alyx, Breen is visibly surprised and attempts to dissuade her from doing so, to no avail.

Alyx Vance[]

D3 breen 010065

Alyx about to spit at Breen's face after he mentions her mother.

Breen does not hold Alyx in much regard, and speaks to her like she is still the same child Breen knew at Black Mesa, asking Eli to give her the chance her mother never had. This comment provokes Alyx to spit angrily at Breen's face, telling him to never dare even mention her. Breen then discards his air of mock concern and angrily retorts that she has her mother's eyes, but her father's stubborn nature, where Alyx stands her ground.

The G-Man[]

While Breen's relationship with the G-Man is ambiguous, there is definitely some connection between them. Breen makes several comments that would appear to reference the G-Man, such as Gordon's "contract" being "open to the highest bidder", showing that he sees himself on the same level as the G-Man and his employers.

It is likely that the G-Man needed Breen to override the safety protocols associated with the Anti-Mass Spectrometer. Since Breen was the only known person in Black Mesa who had such a high position, it can be assumed that the G-Man manipulated Breen to achieve his own goals. This is suggested to be true as many scientists have claimed that the administrator (Breen) would not listen to their warnings, remained firm in issuing his orders, and notably acted strangely. However, it remains uncertain in why Breen would not refuse to listen to the G-Man. It may be true that G-Man or his employers threatened Breen to remain quiet or otherwise suffer the consequences (as displayed in Opposing Force when the G-Man detains Adrian Shephard to restrain his "temptation to tell all" and when Gordon Freeman refuses the G-Man's offer and is left to die on Xen).

During the G-Man's "heart-to-heart" with Gordon Freeman, he speaks in a slightly mocking tone of how Breen (while never referring to him by name) was in "objection" of the G-Man saving Alyx Vance during the Black Mesa Incident, and that she was "a mere child, and of no practical use to anyone". The G-Man then changes his tone to that of subdued anger and states that he has learned to ignore "naysayers" such as Breen, when "quelling them was out of the question", showing that the G-Man was not permitted to personally silence Breen, likely by his "employers".

Breencasts[]

Second Breencast close

Dr. Breen uses video screens, like this one on the Trainstation Plaza, to talk to the Citizens of City 17, and in later stages of the game, directly to Gordon Freeman himself.

Main article: Breencast
Throughout Half-Life 2, Dr. Breen is frequently shown in "Breencasts" — city-wide propaganda video broadcasts which he uses to speak directly to Citizens and Combine forces alike. Breencasts consist of various topics including but not limited to the suppression of human reproduction, collaboration with the Combine and the recent failures of the transhuman forces to apprehend Gordon Freeman. In these addresses, Breen selectively refers to the Combine as "Our Benefactors" and uses the descriptor term "universal union" to more positively describe their supposed empire of a multi-dimensional conglomerate of species, underlining that humanity cannot comprehend the full nature with their "small minds."

One such Breencast (played to the player in audio form only) is as follows, as he addresses Gordon Freeman:

"I'd like to take a moment to address you directly, Doctor Freeman. Yes, I'm talking to you, the so-called "One Free Man." I have a question for you: How could you have thrown it all away? It staggers the mind. A man of science with the ability to sway reactionary and fearful minds toward the truth, choosing instead to embark on a path of ignorance and decay. Make no mistake, Doctor Freeman – this is not a scientific revolution you have sparked, this is death and finality! You have plunged humanity into freefall. Even if you offered your surrender now, I cannot guarantee that Our Benefactors would accept it. At the moment I fear they have begun to look upon even me with suspicion – so much for serving as humanity's representative. Help me win back their trust, Doctor Freeman. Surrender while you still can. Help ensure that humanity's trust in you is not misguided. Do what is right, Doctor Freeman. Serve mankind."

This last Breencast has the Administrator pleading with Freeman to end his quest to bring down the Citadel. He also displays his fearfulness and disappointment with the Combine, who are suspicious of his motives.

Apparently, some Citizens enjoyed some of the Breencasts - in Episode One, one Citizen can be heard saying to another; "I don't miss Dr. Breen, but I do miss his show. Remember when he had the jugglers on?". Whether the Breencasts broadcast other programs such as jugglers is unknown.

Dr. Breen's Private Reserve[]

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A "Dr>Breens Private Reserve" vending machine.

A brand of drink manufactured by the Combine, "Dr. Breen's Private Reserve", is named after Breen. Used as another propaganda tool, it probably affects the health of Citizens, like the water.

Behind the scenes[]

Main article: The Consul
  • In the early stages of Half-Life 2's production, Breen was not known as the "Administrator", but the "Consul".[1][3][4]
  • In the Half-Life Audio Script, the Administrator evoked by the scientists is revealed to be the G-Man, suggesting he is the one overseeing experiments.[5] For Half-Life 2, the G-Man was retconned as a more independent entity, and Wallace Breen was created to retroactively fill the Administrator's shoes.
  • At one point in the game's production, nine different types of eyewear for Breen were suggested. Raising the Bar provides an August 22, 2003, e-mail written by Bill Van Buren and titled "Please help Dr. Breen", asking some of his colleagues what eyewear they like most among the first half of them. The people are Marc Laidlaw, Dhabih Eng, Bill Fletcher, Viktor Antonov, Randy Lundeen, and Greg Coomer. Raising the Bar shows Laidlaw's and Coomer's answers. The eyewear eventually chosen was the first one, the contact lenses.


Breen different glasses

The different attempts of eyewear on Breen's model, viewed in the Source SDK faceposer.


Bill Van Buren's e-mail:

From: Bill Van Buren

Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 11:56 AM
To: Marc Laidlaw; Dhabih Eng; Bill Fletcher; Viktor; Randy Lundeen; Greg Coomer<br> Cc: Bill Van Buren
Subject: Please help Dr. Breen

Dr. Breen has been noticing that he's having increasing trouble reading his frequent announcements to the citizens of City 17. He has come to the conclusion that the right pair of glasses might enhance his appearance as the "administrator" of City 17 while easing his eye strain.

Will you help Dr. Breen choose the right corrective eye appliances?
a) contacts
b) stylish black
c) for that 'bookish' look
d) a bit more daring
e) standard aviators

Greg Coomer's answer:

From: Greg Coomer

Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 7:19 PM
To: Bill Van Buren; Marc Laidlaw; Dhabih Eng; Bill Fletcher; Viktor; Randy Lundeen
Subject: Re: Please help Dr. Breen

So many ones to choose from. I'm really struggling to pick a favorite, mostly because I don't know enough about Dr. Breen.

Here's what each pair of frames communicates to me:

b This one's growing on me the more I look at it. Makes Breen a bit more.. virile and slightly more evil. They also make him look unstable, and vaguely homosexual.
c Makes him seem a little evil, and like he's got a high opinion of himself. (might be a good thing?)
d Is style-less, and makes him less interesting
e Very engineer-ish. Doesn't seem to go with his sophisticated clothing & grooming.
f Absolutely does go with his clothing, and also makes him look a bit old, uptight, & less virile (might be a good thing?)
g These are pretty lightweight (visually), but manage to make Breen look rather old and quiet.
h "I am an avant-garde conceptual architect, and I would prefer to not talk with you right now. or ever."
i A good cross between sophisticated and simple function. These frames don't dominate Breen's face, which is nice. They make him more approachable than most of the others, but also make him look a little weak. They're more of a blank slate, and leave room for him to he an interesting, complex character.

Marc Laidlaw's answer:

From: Marc Laidlaw

Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 11:59 AM
To: Bill Van Buren; Dhabih Eng; Bill Fletcher; Viktor; Randy Lundeen; Greg Coomer<br> Subject: RE: Please help Dr. Breen

I vote b or d...although I'd prefer an even more strict pair of reading glasses (narrower, no bar across the top).

G-man breencast animated

The G-Man briefly appearing among the images of Breen.

  • Breen's model found in the playable Half-Life 2 Beta files has a brighter-colored suit.[3]
  • In the Breencast screens seen during the Half-Life 2 chapters Water Hazard and Anticitizen One, the image of the G-Man flickers on and off among the images of Breen.
  • "Wallace" is a Scottish surname which originally meant "Welsh" or "foreigner" in Norman French. It was first used as given name in honor of Sir William Wallace, the Scottish hero who led a rebellion to expel the English invaders from Scotland in the 13th century[6] (portrayed in the film Braveheart). "Breen" is an Irish surname derived from the Irish Gaelic "Ó Braoin." "Broin" means "sorrow" or "sadness".[7]
  • The possible fate of Breen is expanded on in Laidlaw's non-canon Twitter fiction account BreenGrub, which features a first-person narrative allegedly sent by Breen's conscious from at least two host bodies in unknown locations, gradually losing coherence with each copy. According to the story, Breen's conscious is trying to get information out about the history of the Combine Advisor in the hope that it will help defeat the Combine. The last update was on July 6th, 2014 and apparently had Breen's transmission being hijacked by the Combine. The canon status of BreenGrub is debatable but is considered by this wiki to be non-canon as Laidlaw stated BreenGrub is but his personal fan fictions.[8]
  • Laidlaw's "fanfiction" Epistle 3 offers a potential final fate for Breen: after his death the Combine uploaded an earlier version of his consciousness into an Advisor "slug" (possibly grub, as Laidlaw's "BreenGrub" Twitter account documents), giving him a leadership role on Earth, stationed near the Borealis. He captures Gordon and Alyx while they try to find the Borealis, where it is related that he does not know the exact details of his death, only that Gordon was somehow responsible. Though fearful of him as a result, he begs Gordon to kill him as his current state is torturous. Alyx claims Breen deserves a worse fate, and it would have been left up to Gordon to decide whether to mercy-kill Breen or not.[9]
  • An early version of Half-Life: Alyx would have featured a younger Breen via his early Breencasts throughout City 17. These ultimately were never made, although temp tracks by a member of the development team can be found in the Half-Life: Alyx files.[10]

Trivia[]

  • In Left 4 Dead, Breen's face makes a cameo appearance on the cover of a newspaper. This is merely an Easter egg, as the only relation between the Left 4 Dead and Half-Life universes are its developers.
  • In Day of Defeat: Source, The Breen's Private Reserve vending machine makes an appearance in the Avalanche map. This is an Easter egg as well, in the same context as Left 4 Dead's connection with the Half-Life series.
  • In Portal Stories: Mel, one can find a picture of Wallace Breen visiting Aperture Science Laboratories in 1983.
  • Breen's voice actor, Robert Culp, was announced dead on March 24, 2010, after dying of a heart attack outside of his Hollywood home. If Breen is ever to appear again in the series, he will most likely be voiced by someone else, unless Culp already recorded dialogue for any future game(s).
    • The "BreenGrub" character has been suggested by Laidlaw on his Twitter as the workaround to include Dr. Breen following Culp's death.[11]
  • Dr. Breen is a unique NPC in that he will not be attacked by other characters and creatures when spawned through the console. Despite this, he is also the only major NPC in the game that can be killed directly by the player. Outside of normal gameplay, he dies in one hit to any weapon.
  • Breen wears a brown three-buttoned coat with matching pants and a black sweater.
  • The newspaper that denotes Dr. Breen's status as an administrator following the 7-hour war appears to use the exact same model of Dr. Breen, despite taking place years earlier, indicating that Dr. Breen has not physically aged since his appointment. This could be the result of either a convenient model reuse or just Combine Technology.

Gallery[]

Miscellaneous[]

Screenshots[]

List of appearances[]

References[]

See also[]

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