Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

On a recent Giant Bomb Podcast a fellow from Valve said they hadn't heard of the theory that Chell in the Portal games is a clone. This was a common explanation for the

drawings behind walls

in Portal 1 and 2. It also provides a tidy in-universe explanation for respawning. I thought there was some reference to clones made by GlaDOS in the first game. What evidence, in both Portal games, can be found that indicates that the test subjects are cloned Chells?

share|improve this question
O.o You put that behind spoiler but leave the real spoilers uncovered. Love it. – DampeS8N Apr 27 '11 at 19:58
I remember playing through Portal it very much reminded me of the movie Moon (minus the portals). – riv_rec Apr 27 '11 at 20:02
@Spencer now that's a spoiler! – user1027 Apr 27 '11 at 20:09
hmm, odd. i've played Portal many times and never got the impression that the main character was a clone. – Xantec Apr 27 '11 at 20:52
If that's a spoiler, then everyone who's heard someone insist that "The cake is a lie!" has already had it spoiled, and last time I checked that group was "pretty much the entire internet." – Chris Lutz Mar 24 '12 at 3:08
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I had always assumed she was a clone. It would give GLaDOS the ability to test many chambers at once, and explains why when you start, she says "Hello and AGAIN welcome...".

If she is a clone, it's likely she's the daughter (or clone of the daughter) of Cave Johnson. GLaDOS was activated on "bring your daughter to work day", and GLaDOS says that she was abandoned by her parents and adopted (maybe "adopted" by GLaDOS after killing her parents?).

The game's creators said that they never intended for Chell to be a clone, but haven't given another backstory, so it seems that this community-generated story is the best substitute.

share|improve this answer
Regarding all you said: Have you noticed that GLaDOS is a pathological liar? You can safely assume that literally nothing "she" says has any truth value whatsoever. – bitmask Feb 14 '12 at 19:10

There is a theory in the Portal community that Chell is the daughter of Cave Johnson and Caroline, his secretary (and the woman whose personality and memories were used to create GLaDOS).

This theory is given extensive (if somewhat scattered and excitable) support here:

share|improve this answer

In-universe, Chell never dies, and thus doesn't respawn.

The drawings behind the walls are explained in the Portal comic Lab Rat, as is some of Chell's backstory.

I'm not aware of any indication or implication that Chell is anything other than a normal human.

share|improve this answer
The lab rat comic also implies that GLaDOS can clone people if they die. – AncientSwordRage Mar 23 '12 at 22:41
If Chell were a clone, why would GLaDOS bother sending her to the incinerator in Portal 1 when there are more of her waiting around? – hairboat Mar 24 '12 at 13:43

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.