While searching for a quote to answer an other question, I read this passage in portalgame.wikia article about Chell.

Some people think that Caroline and Doug Rattmann are her parents.

This assertion has no reference to back it and is unexplained. What clues could lead to this conclusion?

  • 1
    Interesting. I've usually heard Caroline and Cave Johnson.
    – K-H-W
    May 1, 2012 at 0:33
  • @KeithHWeston I'm open to any interesting fact that could indicate who are Chell's parents.
    – DavRob60
    May 1, 2012 at 0:35

2 Answers 2


As for Caroline, the the song that the turrets sing at the very end of Portal 2 begins with the words (translated from Italian, emphasis mine):

Dear beautiful, my beautiful darling!

My child, oh Chell!

For I hold her in esteem…

For I hold her in esteem.

Farewell to my dear!

As GLaDOS was clearly affected by Caroline's personality, I think that one can make the conclusion that it is Caroline who is singing this song to her child -- not to mention saving her from the turrets that appear to be about to kill her at the beginning of the above video.

There's also this painting hidden in a side room in Test Shaft 09. I would argue that that's not really the sort of portrait that an employer and his assistant would have made. Especially an assistant that Cave Johnson describes as "married to Science". It seems, to me, to imply a personal relationship of some sort.

Both of those are pretty thin, but that would be some of the logic behind concluding Caroline is Chell's mother and Cave is her father.

(There's also a drawing of Rattman's that some believe to depict Caroline (in the center, mouth wide open). That's the only connection between the two I can find. Perhaps his protection of Chell in the Lab Rat comic implies paternal instincts to some people?)

  • You should mention the link between GLADOS and Caroline.
    – DavRob60
    May 1, 2012 at 17:23
  • 1
    Good idea. Expanded (along with some theories about Cave).
    – Plutor
    May 1, 2012 at 17:29
  • 2
    I wouldn't really rely on the song: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/20523/….
    – Malcolm
    May 10, 2012 at 0:17
  • Except that in order for Caroline to have already been an adult in 1952, while Chell was a child at some point after 1992 (when "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" was created), they must have about a 50-year age difference, which makes it unlikely that Caroline is Chell's biological mother. She could more plausibly be her grandmother or adoptive mother, though.
    – dan04
    May 17, 2022 at 23:24

There is a clue that Chell's parents could be Aperture Science employees. In Portal 2, in the room with the children's science projects from "Bring Your Daughter To Work Day", one of them is labelled as being Chell's. This suggests that Chell is the daughter of at least 1 Aperture Science employee.

There is also a line at the end of Portal 2's co-op that indicates there were 2 Aperture Science employees who had the same last name as Chell, so it's possible she's the child of 2 Aperture Science employees.

As to her parents' specific identities, this is never revealed in either game.

  • But why Caroline and Doug Rattmann or Caroline and Cave Johnson?
    – DavRob60
    May 1, 2012 at 13:22
  • 2
    @DavRob60 There's nothing that backs up that idea. Who her parents are specifically is never made clear, but fans have latched onto various characters for speculation.
    – user1027
    May 1, 2012 at 14:13
  • Neither Caroline/Doug nor Caroline/Cave make sense, for various reasons. I think people only bring them up because they like the characters.
    – Tacroy
    May 1, 2012 at 18:39
  • 2
    Cave and Caroline had a direct relationship. Not shown as a couple but as Boss and Assistant. We don't know if the relationship escalated but if any of the known characters were a couple, it would most likely be Cave Johnson and Caroline.
    – Blue
    May 1, 2012 at 19:14
  • @Tacroy or because they're the only characters.
    – OrangeDog
    Jul 5, 2023 at 19:57

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