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Wheatley, formerly an Intelligence Dampening Sphere attached onto GLaDOS, is a loose Personality Construct and was the deuteragonist for the first half of the single-player campaign of Portal 2. He is one of the many cores seen awakening at the end of Portal, although he had previously been awake before GLaDOS' takeover of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center.
Speaking in a masculine voice with an English West country accent, he is Chell's sidekick and guide during the first half of the game. He assumes control of the Enrichment Center during the game's second half and is immediately driven mad with power, then becoming Portal 2's main antagonist and GLaDOS takes this role instead.
According to GLaDOS, Wheatley was originally designed by the Aperture technicians as an "Intelligence Dampening Sphere." His intended function was to render GLaDOS less dangerous by generating a constant stream of stupid ideas, thereby distracting her and hampering her decision-making process in hopes that she would remain somewhat docile. At some point however, he was separated from GLaDOS and moved throughout the facility to do different jobs. Wheatley states that at one time he almost got a job in the manufacturing department, but the foreman instead chose an "exact duplicate of himself" for the position. The only known duty that Wheatley has over the Enrichment Center is what he considered the least desirable job available — attending to the "smelly humans" in the Extended Relaxation Center.
Many years after the events of Portal, Wheatley finally decides to awaken Chell from stasis in the Relaxation Center, as he has become concerned of the slowly deteriorating reactor core. Unaware of Chell's history with GLaDOS, he chooses her because she is the last surviving test subject and suggests that they help one another escape.
The duo journey together through the defunct and heavily damaged facility as Wheatley babbles incessantly. Although Chell does most of the work and has to figure out how to bypass many obstacles on her own, Wheatley does prove to be a useful asset. He can be plugged into various Personality Core input ports, allowing him to access the mainframe to open doors and wall panels.
After reuniting with Chell, he explains to her that the only known exit to the surface is through the Main Breaker Room within the Central AI Chamber. Although it is unclear what sort of experiences Wheatley has had with GLaDOS, he appears to be well aware of how dangerous and vindictive she is, also regarding her with well-justified fear.
After getting across the remains of GLaDOS in the Central AI Chamber to find an escape pod, they eventually reach a massive cylindrical room underneath, populated with breaker switches and containing what appears to be an escape pod to the surface. Wheatley warns Chell that only the switch to power the escape pod should be flipped, so she searches for it. Almost immediately, the neglected equipment malfunctions and the floor below them reveals itself as an elevator that begins ascending, flipping all the switches on the periphery in the process, before finally being brought in front of an awakening GLaDOS. Acutely aware of the damage that has been done, Wheatley scrambles to find an abort password while turning his face plates on themselves and moving the diaphragm of his unique eye, forgoing a practical algorithm for a sequential brute-force strategy: "A-A-A-A-A-umm.. A? Okay... A-A-A-A-A-C? Wait, did I do B? Do you have a pen? Start writing these down!"
The climb halts as the platform comes flush with a door leading to an overgrown courtyard now housing the dormant remains of GLaDOS. Having failed to find the abort password, Wheatley rightly fears her reaction. As the duo approaches, she rises and immediately recognizes Chell. After a short monologue, GLaDOS lifts up the duo with several robotic claws and crushes Wheatley. She then has Chell sent back into the Testing Tracks through the Incinerator Room. Wheatley survives the incident, and the official Valve guide explains that he managed to reactivate himself through the use of a spare core.
During Chell's tests, he can be seen lifting panels to observe her from outside the testing areas. Eventually, he helps Chell escape from the testing course. After some running, he unveils a plot to sabotage the turret production line and neurotoxin filters. Having shut down GLaDOS' two main weapons against Chell, they return to the Central AI Chamber to dismount her and replace her with Wheatley. Once he is attached to the body of the Central AI, he gains control of the entire facility and calls an elevator to the surface for Chell.
Gloating in triumph, the power of operating the entire facility overwhelms Wheatley and he shows signs of going mad with power almost immediately. He humiliates GLaDOS by attaching her personality core to a potato battery and quickly changes his mind about giving Chell her freedom. GLaDOS eggs him on, exploiting his insecurities by revealing his origin as a profoundly stupid "intelligence dampening sphere" and pointing out that Chell did all the work in engineering their escape. In a fit of anger and paranoia, he accuses Chell of ordering him around and taking advantage of his hard work. Thrashing about in rage, he punches the elevator several times and accidentally sends GLaDOS and Chell plunging into the forgotten bowels of the facility. After the two are gone, he begins rebuilding the entire facility in his own image, renaming it "Wheatley Laboratories," combining turrets with cubes and plagiarizing GLaDOS' testing tracks as his own.
When GLaDOS and Chell return, the resulting lab is in chaos and the reactor core is in danger of a nuclear meltdown due to Wheatley's incompetence. Despite this, Chell manages to access the core room housing Wheatley. After a brief fight, Chell corrupts Wheatley with cores provided by GLaDOS, causing a core transfer. However, Wheatley had
booby-trapped the core transfer stalemate button (used when the substitute core and the corrupt core have a conflict over the transfer), destroying it. But Chell is not without other options: a hole in the ceiling reveals the night sky outside and she shoots a portal at the Moon. Once the portal opens up on the moon, a powerful vacuum is created and Chell and Wheatley are sucked out into space through the other portal, with Chell desperately clinging to Wheatley, both of them held on by a single wire. GLaDOS quickly uses a grabbing arm to snag Chell's hand, pulling her back to safety and sending Wheatley flying into the depths of space.
In a post-credits scene, a genuinely penitent Wheatley is shown floating aimlessly in space (along with the Space Core, who's orbiting around him), remorsefully remarking on all the terrible things that he had done and wishing he could say "Sorry."
Wheatley is talkative and friendly at first, although his main motivation in befriending Chell seems to be obtaining her help in escaping. He frequently second guesses his own decisions and is not especially assertive, always trying to persuade Chell to go along with his plans rather than demanding that she do anything. Despite his general indecisiveness, he shows initiative in seeking out Chell to act on his own escape plans. He is patient and, when his actions lead to unpleasant consequences, he is quick to take responsibility and apologize - although usually as a lead-in to asking Chell to go along with another of his plans.
GLaDOS claims that Wheatley was designed as an "intelligence dampening sphere" whose function was to render her less intelligent, and therefore less dangerous, by generating stupid ideas. Early on, it quickly becomes obvious that he tries to act smarter than he really is. His attempts at "hacking" are generally inept or misleading; when sabotaging turret production, for example, he asks Chell to look away so he can "hack" the door by breaking the glass. He repeatedly proves incapable of solving easily foreseeable problems that come up during his escape with Chell, forcing her to work out the details. At one point, he unsuccessfully attempts to evade GLaDOS' detection simply by speaking with a poorly faked American accent, which he claims (on the basis of no evidence whatsoever) lies outside her hearing range.
Once he takes over the Enrichment Center, his stupidity becomes more apparent. He crudely attaches turrets to weighted cubes to create self-guided cubes as an ill-conceived replacement for human test subjects, then tries to correct their deficiencies by shouting at them; he ignores signs of an imminent reactor core meltdown, shutting the alarms off rather than addressing the problem; he can only manage to build absurdly simple test chambers, such as a button which drops a cube onto another button when pressed, except when he steals ideas previously implemented by GLaDOS; and when he attempts to imitate GLaDOS' methods of antagonizing her test subjects, the best insult he can come up with is "fatty fatty no-parents". GLaDOS generally finds it easy to goad and manipulate him - except when he manages to foil her by not being smart enough to spot the bait; when she presents him with a simple logical paradox which she says will disable any AI, he survives by failing to even notice the contradiction while even the "Frankenturrets" seize up at it. He seems profoundly insecure about his intellect, reacting with fury whenever GLaDOS refers to him as a moron.
In contrast to his general lack of intelligence, however, Wheatley occasionally manages to come up with genuinely clever ideas. After GLaDOS puts Chell back into testing, he successfully rescues her. He correctly identified the defenses that would need to be shut down before confronting GLaDOS, although he has no plan for actually doing so. Perhaps most impressively, he manages to trick both Chell and GLaDOS by rigging an Aerial Faith Plate to send them flying in the wrong direction so that they land in a death trap. Finally, when Chell reaches his lair, he has the room set up to counter every trick Chell used to defeat GLaDOS before, even rigging the stalemate button to explode when she reaches it.
After seizing control of the facility, Wheatley is overwhelmed by the power and becomes corrupt almost immediately. He is clearly far weaker-willed than GLaDOS, quickly becoming a slave to "the itch" (a euphoric response to test chamber completion hard-wired into GLaDOS' "body" to encourage testing). He seems to aspire to be the perfect villain, making terrible jokes about his supposed "surprise" for Chell and GLaDOS and tries to one-up GLaDOS as a final boss by modifying his control room. Even with his newfound power, he still shows signs of his old cowardice, especially as Chell draws closer to his "lair."
Once attached to GLaDOS' mainframe, Wheatley begins to display an increasing degree of paranoia and resentment toward Chell. Goaded by GLaDOS, he betrays Chell almost immediately after their victory, claiming that he grew tired of doing all the work while she ordered him around (in fact, the situation was almost exactly the opposite). During the final boss fight, he complains that Chell maliciously chose not to catch him when he detached himself and deliberately deceived him by not telling him she was the one who defeated GLaDOS; furthermore, he says, Chell never wanted to share in his success. He also suggests that Chell and GLaDOS were allied against him from the beginning.
It is unclear to what extent Wheatley's hostility after taking over Aperture can be attributed to the mainframe's programming rather than his own personality. He shows no signs of aggression or ill will before being attached to it, and after his defeat and disconnection from GLaDOS' "body" he expresses genuine remorse for his actions and says he wishes he could apologize to "her" (presumably Chell). GLaDOS herself also becomes noticeably kinder while disconnected from it, although there are other possible explanations for her change in personality. However, there are hints early in the game that Wheatley's apparent friendliness is at least partially a ruse: a few stray comments during his travels with Chell reveal that his true attitude toward humans is mildly contemptuous. Furthermore, during the final boss fight (while still attached to the mainframe), he claims that he fully expected Chell to be killed in their escape attempt from the very beginning, as he says several previous human test subjects with whom he tried to escape have been.
Wheatley's four-part plan went as this (as he described before the fight):
- No Portal surfaces. (Which is countered by the white repulsion gel, which the portal gun can use)
- Neurotoxin starts immediately. (deactivated after the Space Core is connected to Wheatley)
- Bomb-proof shields for himself. (which can't counter getting hit from above from the repulsion gel walls)
- Bombs, for throwing at Chell. (which are his only real method of attack against Chell in the core)
- BOOBYTRAP THE STALEMATE BUTTON! (pretty self-explanatory)
Test courses and achievements
|Wake Up Call||Survive the manual override.||5G (B)||Chapter 1: The Courtesy Call.|
|SaBOTour||Make a break for it.||10G (B)||Chapter 4: The Surprise|
|Stalemate Associate||Press the button!||15G (B)||Chapter 5: The Escape|
|You Made Your Point||Refuse to solve the first test in Chapter 8.||10G (B)||Chapter 8: The Itch|
|Dual Pit Experiment||Do the same test twice.||15G (B)||Chapter 8: The Itch|
|Smash TV||Break 11 test chamber monitors.||75G (B)||Chapter 8: The Itch|
|The Part Where He Kills You||This is that part.||20G (B)||Chapter 9: The Part Where He Kills You|
|Pit Boss||Show that pit who's boss.||30G (B)||Chapter 9: The Part Where He Kills You|
|Lunacy||That just happened.||20G (G)||Chapter 9: The Part Where He Kills You|
Behind the scenes
- In the early stages of Portal 2's production, Wheatley was originally to be named "Pendleton."
- Wheatley was first introduced during the Portal ARG, in one of the ASCII art images given by the BBS, that later appeared to be a screenshot of him being held by Chell. He was first described in the April 2010 issue of Game Informer, then seen animated for the first time in a gameplay video titled "Meet Wheatley" showcased by Valve during E3 2010.
- Wheatley's British Midlands heard in the "Meet Wheatley" video shown at E3 2010 uses a placeholder voice provided by Valve animator Richard Lord. Due to very positive feedback, Valve considered at some point making the voice official. Later Lord himself emphasized that his voice was temporary, saying that "there's no way you will be disappointed with the final voice - I'm over the moon with who it might be." [sic], (possibly giving a hint as to Wheatley's fate) until it was announced that Stephen Merchant, who also has an English accent, would provide the final voice.
- Wheatley's placeholder texture was a plain white plating with few details.
- Valve originally intended for Wheatley to have Richard Ayoade voicing him, but found Stephen Merchant more fitting for the character, and asked if he was interested first.
- The subtitle and filename for the Developer commentary discussing Wheatley's takeover of GLaDOS' body refers to him as "WheatDOS."
- As mentioned in the developer commentary, the initial idea for "WheatDOS" was to replace GLaDOS's eye with Wheatley's. This was altered to the current design because the change wasn't big enough to see the difference.
- The reasons behind the deaths of the other test subjects in stasis is unclear. While originally it was believed it was all due to Wheatley's incompetence, he claims during the final boss fight that he'd previously tried to escape with several test subjects before Chell, all of whom died trying to reach the Portal Device. This dialogue is brought up in the single player commentary, as it was a suggested part of the story that was cut, but Wheatley's comments were left in. Whether the deaths of the previous test subjects actually happened, or whether the story was merely a fabrication by Wheatley intended to upset Chell, is unclear.
- The Spanish line Wheatley says just before making the escape lift in The Escape go up translates to "You are using this translation software incorrectly. Please consult the manual." In the Spanish and German language versions of Portal 2, this line can be heard spoken in English.
- After the Hard Light Surfaces course in the co-op campaign is completed, GLaDOS makes an indirect reference to him, referring to him as "an imbecile that I had to destroy."
- Wheatley makes an appearance in LEGO Dimensions as an NPC. In the main story he helps Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle escape GLaDOS' testing track and into the maintenance area. In the Portal 2 level pack, he and Chell are teleported back into Aperture Science and he is fitted with anti-gravity. As they make their way thorough the test chambers they resolve their differences and escape the laboratory once and for all.
- Stephen Merchant stated in a phone interview that he would be interested in reprising the role of Wheatley again if Valve asked him in the future. He would eventually do so in the form of the "Ap-Sap," an item featured in the game Team Fortress 2.
List of appearances
- Portal ARG (First appearance)
- Portal 2
- The Final Hours of Portal 2
- Team Fortress 2 (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Dimensions (Non-canonical appearance)
|The Half-Life Wiki has more images related to Wheatley.|
- Wheatley Update on YouTube
- Gamescom: Portal 2 gets Stephen Merchant on ComputerAndVideoGames.com
- Portal 2 Gains a Talkative Companion on Wired.com
- "Temp voice!" on Last Outpost of Sanity, Richard Lord's official blog
- Karen Prell - Video Games
- Game Informer, April 2010 issue
- The Final Hours of Portal 2
- Portal 2 E3 game play video (single post) on the NeoGAF forums
- Stephen Merchant On His "Exhausting" Portal 2 Performance As Wheatley, Interest In Returning For Portal 3 on MTV Multiplayer.