Portal 2’s Silent Hero Can Talk… She Just Doesn’t Want To

Portal 2’s Silent Hero Can Talk… She Just Doesn’t Want To

Chell, hero of the puzzle-packed Portal series, doesn’t have a whole lot to say. Like many classic video game protagonists, she’s intentionally silent: a personality-free avatar designed for you to inhabit and control however you’d like.

But she can talk, says Erik Wolpaw in an excellent interview published today by the Gameological Society. She just won’t.

“Having people stand around while you talk is tough in games, so if we can actually remove one whole character’s dialogue, that saves us a bunch of time for all the other characters,” Wolpaw said. “At no point were we ever thinking that, ‘Aw, we need to make Chell talk! This game is lacking in personality!’ She probably can talk, though. In our minds, she can talk. She’s just pissed off the whole time and is refusing to dignify any of the things going by speaking about them.”

I love that explanation. Check out Gameological for the full interview — it’s a great read.

Funny People: Erik Wolpaw, Portal 2 head writer [Gameological]


  • One of my favourite scenes in Portal 2 was when Wheatley instructed Chell to talk and she jumped. Made me laugh. Man, that game had a great intro.

    • The whole style of humour in that franchise was sheer brilliance.
      The jumping scene in the intro had me chortling for a while!

  • Not to be ‘that’ guy, but wasn’t this discussed in depth just before or after Portal 2’s release (over a year ago)?

    Yes Chell can talk but doesn’t want to give GladOS the satisfation of knowing that she got to Chell. Or that’s what I read

    • Considering the voice work for Portal 2, and that they got Nolan North to play a part that could have easily been overlooked by the player, I disagree…

  • Chell is actually one of my favorte charachters…..(even though many consider her a non charachter) this explanation kind of adds personalty

  • As much as I like Nolan North’s voice acting, i personally love silent protagonists and long for the day when we can get more silent protagonists back in our games.

    • usually I couldnt stand silent protagonists……how can I get attatched to somone who doesn’t speak?

      but then Nathan Drake made me wish he was silent

  • surely the “years of cryo freezing made me mute” excuse is awesome enough, she doesn’t ever need to talk…

  • makes sense, its kinda like in 2001 a space odyssey after HAL turns on Dr Bowman. Up until that point he acknowledges and talks to HAL but after that point he keeps his mouth shut, refusing to acknowledge what HAL says

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