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In almost every picture you see of Gordon Freeman depicts him with his HEV suit helmet-less, and helmets were designed for the HEV suit:

HEV Suit

Despite not protecting the most vital part of his body, he survives being at the heart of the resonance cascade, gets shot at countless times, comes within feet of radiation, and even travels to another planet. This leads me to believe he should have been bludgeoned, shot in the head, suffered from severe radiation poisoning, and suffocation.

Is there an in-universe explanation on how he was able to survive all of this, or is this a prime example of the Rule of Cool?

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  • He is the "Free-man"! – HorusKol May 19 '13 at 3:08
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    He's holding his helmet, even in your example photo... – Flimzy Oct 20 '13 at 23:45
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    He seems to be depicted twice in this image, with and without the helmet. But, either way, it's perfectly normal to be able to remove a helmet. It's a pretty integral aspect of good helmet design. – Misha R Mar 12 '19 at 16:16
  • In the Opposing Force expansion you see Gordon Freeman as he jumps into the Xen portal and he has no helmet but is wearing shades, not sure how canon this is though – Geneworm Mar 12 '19 at 22:55
  • Thanks to the fantastic skill of the player! When I was playing, OTOH, the only way he .. ahem... "survived" was by having infinite lives! – colmde Mar 13 '19 at 8:38
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Promotional pictures and art may show Freeman without a helmet, but in-game you receive a HUD when you first put your HEV Suit on in Half-Life, displaying your health, ammo and shield, which implies that you do indeed put a helmet on (unless his glasses are secretly made by Google). In Half-Life 2 Kleiner also mentions that the new and improved HEV Suit Mk V includes a zoom capability, which further seems to suggest it comes with a helmet.

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    Using the original Half Life's chase_active 1 mode you can clearly see that there is no helmet - even after you put the HEV on. – user8719 May 19 '13 at 19:41
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    @mh01 Generally speaking, I don't know if I'd consider unused character models to be entirely canon :P – jono May 19 '13 at 19:47
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    In Portal 2, Chell has a zoom capability as well, but does not don a helmet. – Gigazelle Jun 26 '13 at 23:23
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    @RussWhitchurch True! And I don't know how Chell's zoom works. Maybe implants? High tech contacts? Squinting? Maybe that's a new question in itself, I don't know. But I do know that Freeman's zoom doesn't work until he puts his new suit on. – jono Jun 27 '13 at 9:23
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My name is Chuck Jones. I designed Gordon's model and HEV suit, and yes he does have a helmet on. The game doesn't show it for reasons of realism. The helmet is the reason headcrabs cannot latch onto his head, but also he wouldn't let them in the first place. Also his glasses are not HUD computers or he would have had the HUD from the beginning!

If you don't believe that I designed him. Here is the page on the Half Life Wiki.

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    Related meta discussion. – user1027 Nov 26 '13 at 20:59
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    In the game Black Mesa, in the room where you get the HEV suit a scientist say "I remember my days in the HEV suit. [...] And the helmet wasn't optional then, or ventilated." This strongly implies that Gordon has chosen to not wear the helmet. Why would this statement be here if he is wearing the helmet (as he should, considering the experiment he participates in minutes later)? – PaulMag Oct 31 '16 at 17:36
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    @PaulMag Two things: That statement doesn't necessarily mean Freeman isn't wearing the helmet. It's just a general comment on the suit. Also, Black Mesa is an independent third party game that's still in early access. It was not developed by Valve and is not, AFAIK, official canon. – jono Jul 31 '19 at 9:40
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The developers probably thought he looked more epic without the helmet, thus removing it from promotional pictures. Like the jono said, Gordon has a HUD in-game, so he had that helmet on during the game.

However, third-person view shows Gordon Freeman without a helmet.

Gordon not wearing a helmet

So Gordon "has and doesn't have" the helmet on. Unless his eyes have holographs in them, this was probably a flop in the development in the game. Does he actually have the helmet? It's a secret to everybody. We'll never know.

Assuming he doesn't, though, Rule of Cool.

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    Actually, you were not supposed to see that model (there was no option except the cheat-code to switch to 3rd person view), so it might very well be that it was done for some reason and then just forgotten. Be aware that in HL2 there is no such model. – Bobby Jun 11 '13 at 18:18
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    @Bobby it's not a "cheat code"...it was a console command. – acolyte Sep 6 '13 at 14:17
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You have to not think of this like "the third person view has him not wearing a helmet" this is not how it works, as said before here the tps model isn't canon, he doesn't have a helmet only because it was likely added for the multiplayer after release. You could still say that why wasn't the model, the one of the scientist with the full suit, the main model, I think it might be a problem consistency for the model's reference in code, it could mess things up if it was another model. Remember goldSource is a big plate of spaghetti at this point, you can't really tell if it wont break something else.

In HL2 you don't even have a proper model in tps, you just have a place holder model of the Gordon Freeman in HL1 but looped in idle animation and with the wrong texture.

Plus lots of things suggest that you wear a helmet in HL2, like as said before, the headcrabs unable to hump your head, having a HUD, or even the fact that you can see clearly under water.

For other games like Portal where you are able to zoom I just think that in usual Valve fashion they just didn't bother to remove it or they saw it was necessary for the game play close to the end and didn't bother explaining it.

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