Portal Companion Collection: How Caroline Became GLaDOS

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  • Caroline The Human
  • Building GLaDOS
  • The Fall Of Aperture
  • GLaDOS Alone

Portal is a series with a surprising depth of lore for only having two relatively short games. The developers love to add little clues, hints, and mysteries for the players to discover – so much so that it's hard to tell what's just an easter egg and what's important to the canon.

If you were confused about Caroline, the woman who became GLaDOS – or just had some questions about her – have no fear! Everything we know about Caroline's story is detailed in this easily digested article.

Caroline The Human

Very little is known about Caroline except that she was the personal assistant to Cave Johnson, the CEO of Aperture Science. It is clear that Johnson regarded Caroline highly, calling her the "backbone" of the Aperture Science testing facility.

In 1982, before Cave Johnson died, he was attempting to extend his life by putting his mind into a computer through innovative brain mapping technology.

At this time, Aperture Science had an Enrichment Center where they were performing research, but it was not run by computers. Rather, it was run just like any office of the time. At some point, a precursor to the program that would end up becoming GLaDOS was added to help them operate the Enrichment Center.

In 1986, word reached Aperture Science that their competitor, Black Mesa, was also working on Portal technology. In response, they began work on GLaDOS to oversee testing more efficiently and beat Black Mesa in the race to create working Portals that could be sold commercially. It's assumed that Cave Johnson lived up to this point and directed that his mind should be put into GLaDOS so that he could continue to run the facility.

Unfortunately, Johnson died before they perfected the brain mapping technology and his mind was never preserved. However, he regarded Caroline so highly that he named her as his successor as the CEO. He noted that she was a humble person and might not accept the position right away, but that they should force her to take it.

However, under the new context, forcing Caroline to take the job also meant implanting her brain into GLaDOS. It's unclear if the brain mapping operation killed Caroline, but she was certainly never heard from again. Certain unused voice lines from Caroline indicate she may have resisted the process.

Building GLaDOS

When GlaDOS was first brought online, it was during Take Your Daughter To Work Day. She immediately became homicidal, locking everyone in and killing most of them before she was shut down. Work continued on GLaDOS, however, as the scientists hoped they could modify her AI to be less violent.

It is theorized that Chell is the daughter of two Aperture scientists, and attended the Bring Your Daughter To Work Day, so (if true) it's possible that anyone who survived the neurotoxin but could be trusted not to alert the press or the authorities were put into forced cryogenic stasis.

The Fall Of Aperture

There were repeated attempts, as mentioned in Portal 2: Lab Rat, to bring GLaDOS online again, but each time she'd still become determined to kill them immediately.

It was likely during this time that the Intelligence Dampening Core (better known as Wheatley) was attached to GLaDOS and deemed an inefficient way to curb her tendencies before being repurposed to run the Aperture Science Extended Relaxation Center.

The Core that actually did the trick, for a short time at least, was the Morality Core. After it was installed, GLaDOS was safely online for a short time. However, during another Aperture Sciences event (Bring Your Cat To Work Day), GLaDOS told the scientists she wanted to perform Schrodinger's Experiment (you know, the one with the cat and the poison).

As a result, they gave her access to neurotoxin, which she promptly used to kill everyone. The lone survivor was Doug Rattman, who managed to escape by traveling behind the walls and in the maintenance areas where GLaDOS couldn't use her neurotoxin.

GLaDOS Alone

With all of the Aperture employees dead, GLaDOS took control of the entire Enrichment Center. Considering Doug Rattman's state in Lab Rat, a significant amount of time passed between the deaths of the Aperture Scientists and Chell's awakening.

Presumably, GLaDOS was cleaning up their bodies and becoming familiar with the facility (after all, she had never been online for so long).

Rattman, meanwhile, recalled the name of a testing candidate who was initially denied as a subject due to her highly stubborn nature – Chell. As his final act beyond the safety of the walls, Rattman changed the testing subject order to place Chell at the top.

However, since she was programmed to keep testing Portal technology, GLaDOS did eventually wake Chell up. The rest, as they say, is history.

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