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?

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    O.o You put that behind spoiler but leave the real spoilers uncovered. Love it.
    – DampeS8N
    Apr 27, 2011 at 19:58
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    I remember playing through Portal it very much reminded me of the movie Moon (minus the portals).
    – riv_rec
    Apr 27, 2011 at 20:02
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    @Spencer now that's a spoiler!
    – user1027
    Apr 27, 2011 at 20:09
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    hmm, odd. i've played Portal many times and never got the impression that the main character was a clone.
    – Xantec
    Apr 27, 2011 at 20:52
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    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, 2012 at 3:08

2 Answers 2


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.



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    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, 2012 at 19:10

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.

  • The lab rat comic also implies that GLaDOS can clone people if they die.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Mar 23, 2012 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, 2012 at 13:43

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