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On my most recent playthrough of Portal 2, I couldn't help but notice something.

This is Wheatley:

Wheatley

We all know him, right? But I noticed, that's not what he looks like at the start of the game.

Wheatley at the start

Notice how his blue "eye" is not cracked here! In fact, it's only after GLaDOS grabs him when you've woken her up that his eye breaks. Could this be the reason for Wheatley's corruption? What other implications could this have? Is Wheatley really to blame?

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Wheatley wasn't corrupt from the start. But there is a possiblity rest of GLaDOS's systems could have corrupted him. And any stupid person in a position of power could go corrupt. The cracked glass is a remnant of the physical abuse he takes when GLaDOS first wakes up and throws him. –  ash_k29 May 8 at 9:58
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4 Answers 4

Portal 2 spoilers ahoy.

This doesn't seem likely. GLaDOS later reveals that Wheatley was an intelligence dampening core, designed to slow her down by feeding her a constant stream of bad ideas which she would have to process before rejecting. Wheatley's personality does appear to change once he takes over from GLaDOS, but this I suspect is a natural consequence of his stated function.

So, faced with the problem of GLaDOS being out of control, his suggested solution is to replace GLaDOS with Wheatley because this is a really bad idea. Wheatley is not really being evil, just following his programming. Wheatley is presumably completely unaware that he is programmed in this way. After he takes over, Apeture starts falling apart precisely because every idea Wheatley has for fixing the problems in the facility is a bad one (much like the turret crates).

Note especially that Wheatley's initial "help" with progressing through the complex is invariably useless or harmful, which seems to support GLaDOS' claim.

His power craziness post insertion probably comes from a similar place. His programming relies on him not questioning his most stupid and harmful ideas, so it's hardly surprising that his tendencies towards meglomania come to the fore. Also, there seems within the Portal universe to be a strong suggestion that power is a huge corrupting influence on AIs. GLaDOS, for example, is much more bearable in her potato powered incarnation, but with the exception of her treatment of Chell, shows no inclination to rein in her crazed ways once restored to control of the facility.

So to summarise, Wheatley's personality probably doesn't change throughout Portal 2. His actions are rather logical consequences of his initial programming as a "bad idea bear" and the limitations of Aperture's AI technology, which seems to tend to the megalomaniacal in any case.

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In "The part where he kills you", his trap of rigging an Aerial Faith Plate to propel you the wrong way was actually a really good idea. Of course, monologuing afterwards wasn't, but given the position of his screens he couldn't have any idea that there was a tiny hole and a suitable trickle of white gel to get you out of there. In fact, most of his attempts to kill you are good plans, but suffer from coincidental circumstances that let you live (ie. you solve the puzzle). –  Niet the Dark Absol May 8 at 10:51
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@NiettheDarkAbsol Pulling them both away from a trap that would've probably been a lot more subtle had he not used a bunch of aerial faith plates to get them to where he wanted them to be WAS a pretty bad idea...also he could have just launched them into the deathwater and skipped the elaborate trap entirely. So, it was an incredibly overelaborate and unquestionably bad idea. –  Zibbobz May 8 at 13:57
    
@Zibbobz But introducing them to Mr. Mashy the spike-plate is a much more satisfying way to eliminate your adversary, surely? :p That seems more like a generic "bad guys make over-elaborate plans" trope than Wheatley's programming, but fair enough. –  Niet the Dark Absol May 8 at 14:04
    
@NiettheDarkAbsol Are you saying elaborate bad guy traps are a Smart idea? I suppose you'd like some sharks with laser beams attached to their heads too. –  Zibbobz May 8 at 14:30
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You know, I've played through Portal 2 several times, and for some reason it never really occurred to me that Wheatley was a bad idea generator and that that's why everything went to hell with him. I always just thought he was lacking in the intelligence part of 'artificial intelligence'. –  Doc May 8 at 15:50
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The power corrupted him!

As you notice, GLaDOS is much more likable when attached to the potato, because she has no power. Similarly, Wheatley became corrupted through the power of being in control over the facility.

The crack in his eye was mere coincidence (or maybe a hint to his change) which was caused by GLaDOS grabbing him.

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Wheatley is just incompetent at the beginning, but also kind (he tried to help Chell escape). He, and the others like him, were designed to impede/control GLaDOS with their bad ideas.
After he plugged into the larger AI, he was strongly compelled to perform scientific experiments which he clearly and quickly became addicted to.
Remember; he tried moving the experiments closer to him so he would get a bigger rush from it.
So, to answer your question, Wheatley was corrupted by GLaDOS's programming.

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No! I've,played portal2 20x through. Wheatley never did have many good ideas, but they weren't stupid... After GLadOS breaks him, did any of you notice how he twitches? GLadOS makes it worse. Wheatley no longer thinks he just does the first thing coming to mind. GLadOS IS THE ONE WHO BROKE HIM!

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That's what I was thinking, but can you cite any evidence for this...? –  Niet the Dark Absol May 22 at 11:29
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