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Portal 2 Easter egg guide: 30 secrets and references you may have missed

Chell’s science project

Chapter 5

Holy crap. This is a doozy. Remember the “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” science fair, full of lazy potatoes and lazier volcanoes? Zoom in on the final project – the mutant potato that’s grown to the ceiling – and read what name is written on the cardboard. Chell!

Let that sink in for a moment. This is more than an Easter egg. This implies that Chell, the protagonist of Portal, is the daughter of one or more Aperture employees. That her father was high-ranking enough to provide “special ingredients from Dad’s work.” That she was present when GLaDOS attacked the facility with neurotoxin. That she has been trapped or imprisoned in the laboratories since she was a child.

Believe it or not, though, the possibilities surrounding Chell’s origin get even crazier as we move down this page. Keep scrolling.


Black Mesa rivalry

Chapter 6

If you’re unfamiliar with Valve mythology, you might have glanced at this award case in the original Aperture offices, laughed at the fact that owner Cave Johnson was once a shower curtain salesman, and moved on. But Half-Life fans will also notice that – based on how many #2 and Runner Up trophies are displayed within – the rivalry between Aperture and Black Mesa was raging as far back as 1949, 1952 and 1954.


Vitrified test chamber doors


 

Chapter 6
Unlocks “Door Prize” Achievement / Trophy

Every second of Cave Johnson dialogue is pure gold, yet if you’re not thorough enough, you could miss quite a bit. Although Chapter 6 contains six closed doors that can be accessed for extra (and hilarious) audio by pressing the “use” button, the game never explicitly tells you so. Watch the video for locations, and cherish each word.


The Borealis


 

Chapter 6
Unlocks “Ship Overboard” Achievement / Trophy

Another Half-Life reference. Right past the second set of vitrified test chamber doors is an empty dock where, if the nearby life preserver is any clue, Borealis was built and launched. This research vessel belongs to Aperture, but plays a much larger role in the Half-Life games, specifically Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two. It’s rumored to contain a very powerful and very dangerous secret that will affect the events of Half-Life 2: Episode Three… possibly even Half-Life 3.


Portrait of a lady

Chapter 7
Unlocks “Portrait of a Lady” Achievement / Trophy

Holy crap. This is a doozy, too. Hidden between the first and second orange gel test spheres in Chapter 7 is an office with a portrait hanging on the wall. By this point in the game, you’ve seen plenty of pictures of Aperture owner Cave Johnson, but this is the only one in which he’s joined by his assistant Caroline. GLaDOS exclaims that these people “look so familiar,” and if you’ve put the rather obvious pieces together, you should realize you’re staring at someone far more significant – GLaDOS as a human, before she was uploaded into a robot.


 

That’s not the only mind-blowing implication. Think back to the science project – Chell’s father, possibly both parents, worked at Aperture. And here are two Aperture employees with “C” names, suddenly looking closer than mere boss and assistant… suddenly looking similar to our heroine, who happened to receive a new face for Portal 2. Oh, and did we mention the meaning of the name Caroline is “free man” or “Freeman”? What, too much?

We could dig into the Chell-Caroline-Cave theory for pages, but this guy has already done the heavy lifting and deserves the credit. Check out his incredibly compelling evidence and see if you’re still a skeptic.


Prometheus mythology

The Caroline portrait also leads to a different, yet no less fascinating, discussion: the many, many connections between Portal 2 and the Greek legend of Prometheus, who was “punished by the gods for giving the gift of knowledge to man…cast to the bowels of the earth and pecked by birds.”

That’s a direct quote from the Oracle Turret mentioned on page two, for starters. Hmm, wasn’t potato GLaDOS picked apart by birds? In an underground research facility? Labeled in some places as “Tartaros,” one of the pits Zeus used as punishment? Yeah. Plus, one of Prometheus’s brothers was named Atlas, same as the blue co-op robot in Portal 2. And that creepy figure in the background of the Caroline and Cave Johnson portrait, hovering to the left of the bookcase is Aeschylus… writer of “Prometheus Bound.”

The connections go even deeper and denser if you’re interested – head here for corresponding theories on Chell, Wheatley, P-body and Portal 2’s ending.

Next page: Infanticide, boy bands, co-op cameos and Nathan Drake…

Topics

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143 comments

  • Nick90 - May 26, 2014 6:24 a.m.

    Great, thank u guys!
  • CaveJohnson - April 22, 2014 7:12 p.m.

    Guess what everyone? You can actually see Doug Rattmam in the game!!!!!! During turret opera, you can see him traveling with his companion cube! hehe..... I won't tell when or where you will see him.. >:-) A little gift from CaveJohnson ;-)
  • jack-white - April 9, 2014 6:20 p.m.

    Hmm is that box at the end a message from GLaDOS or rat mans companion cube think of that one
  • Denelz - April 4, 2014 1:52 a.m.

    Anyone els noticed the moon cycle on the ceiling in the firs chapter among the paintings done by Rattman. The numbers are mirrored and it's some weird markings within the cycle. WHY MIRRORED NUMBERS?!?!
  • Zeusthemonk - January 1, 2014 9:59 p.m.

    One easter egg is when that you can leave the game and outside of the game is Glados and the cake with the companion cube
  • realdealman456 - March 3, 2014 6:14 p.m.

    How do you do that
  • McKnight - September 2, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    Here is a weird one, in the co-op hub if you jump off the right side you can clearly see a lamp post.
  • DiscardedSlinky - August 19, 2013 1:32 p.m.

    I read through all the comments and here are the ones you missed. 1.)My favorite one which is Rat Man muttering to himself behind a wall in the den with the secret commentary and coffee mugs. Stand close to the wall with the Mural and listen closely. This is what you'll hear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVckngF-xgM There is also a way to get under the room though there is nothing exciting down there. Shoot a portal through the fan in the middle of the room. 2.)A really funny one which is a Fat Turret in the elevator before you ride up. In the raw files of the game it is named "turret_wife" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbQYtI1lp-Q 3.)One I found myself actually which is in Chamber 7 the Companion Cude very softly plays the turret opera theme. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fbdHyr38Uc 4.)A core (Possible Atlas, or Wheatly) peeking his head out of a panel near the lift in chamber 7. I can't find a good video for this but I found it in the game myself 5.)You can trap yourself in many test chambers in Portal 2 which will comes with funny dialog. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJGXN93CNq0 5.5.)Kinda a Easter egg, but if you look closely in the turret opera you can see one of Wheatly's box turrets crawling around and a Companion cube jumping. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kPyGvqNn4Y 6.)In the very first room of the game not only does the Painting change to the moon and darkness the walls do aswell. Having a surfer on the beach being replaced with a wolf howling at the moon. 7.)SirMcMuffintosh gave a fantasic one. In the second Rat Man den, you see the file with papers flying out. Look at the numbers--- http://half-life.wikia.com/wiki/File:Ratman_thenational_02.png ----That made me wonder... Why those numbers? So, I decided to look around, and found this--- http://www.thinkwithportals.com/comic/#11 8.)The third project at the "Bring your daughter to work day" expo is signed by one "Alyx". This means that either Eli or his wife or both have worked at Aperture once.
  • SherlockandWatson - June 26, 2013 7:53 p.m.

    In Ratman den #7 if you throw a portal in the room underneath the big fan on the floor I'm told (well not really TOLD I saw a youtube video that just told you how to get there then ends) you can find Doug Ratman muttering to himself! ( I am on my way to chamber 17 to see if this is true)
  • Qwert5638 - June 13, 2013 11:32 p.m.

    Has nobody noticed the leopard-spotted turret during the cara Mia song? Look for it, it's at the back. Huge Easter egg!
  • zane-cole - June 24, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    its kinda hard to miss haha, that's the king turret,
  • pingpongpanda - June 9, 2013 12:17 a.m.

    You know the painting changes after you go to sleep? Well its the same thing with the wall with the palmtrees. It goes all stormy lol!
  • Dommo - February 21, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    In Cara mia there are these following things 1. There is the heart companion cube doing flips and flying in the background of the bit where there are the turrets in the rooms before that huge hall 2. Just after king turret does the loud base you can see one of wheatelys Franken cubes (turret cube morphs) walking along the row of turrets 3. That big turret from the quartet in the chamber 4. The painting of chell in the room where you get the blue gun there is e satanic voice that the other comment , there also a lab rat reference : the chell painting is the front picture
  • amelia-mia-garcia - July 17, 2012 8:28 p.m.

    They missed something on this list. In chapter 3 chamber 17 they say if you dont have commentary on there's nothing there. When you go into Ratmans hideout on a normal game if you stand by the graffiti wall with the picture of chell painted on it turn the volume up and make sure the music is on, if the music is off you wont hear it. When you stand by the wall you can hear Ratman chanting in the depths somewhere. Its barely audible but someone used software to clean up the sound. What he's chanting : Guilty, Doug Rattman! Nothing is a must; who's in charge? I had no choice! Help me, Uncle Johnson; help me to design. Look at me,.....combustible lemons. Mutilation, mutilation comes to [garbled] shift has started. The shift has started; I let you down, men. I feel pain in me now, pain; it's a horrid fume!.. She is dead, she is! Please, look at me, Doug! Children!... The prisoner's gone! The metal voice won! [garbled] Johnson! Will you help me? Help me work, Cave http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJpYsfvM_Q
  • Wouzz - March 18, 2012 11:49 a.m.

    Tremendous compilation, I started a new game just for it! :) As a modest contribution, here's one I just found myself while playing, and that does not seem to be part of your (awesome) list: In Part 8 - chamber 15, at the beginning when Wheatley starts tearing apart another room on the right, stare closely at the part of the room that does not move (on its left). Zoom in and... WHOA! Who's this ? :) Here's a video of it, not by myself though: [SPOILER ALERT] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXACeach1kg
  • poly_dog - February 6, 2012 5:53 p.m.

    I was replaying the beginning part (The Courtesy Call) and found something that *might* be an easter egg. Remember Portal, where a cake icon was displayed on the sign for the test chamber? In place of that is where the incinerator leads to (the part where you replace the template turret with the defect, and you later see the turrets falling into there after being thrown in the incinerator). Just thought that was interesting... http://oi44.tinypic.com/1hp9pv.jpg It's in the lower right corner. That's where the cake icon used to be.
  • poly_dog - February 6, 2012 5:55 p.m.

    In addition: I noticed this in test chamber 4 at the beginning of the test chamber. I'm not sure if it's in any other ones. Please let me know if it is.
  • randomfangirl - January 28, 2012 4:20 a.m.

    since you added the Moby Dick quote... At some early point in the game, GlaDOS starts telling Chell that "[she] saw a deer today". This is also the title of one of the songs in the official sound track. It seems to be a misspelled qoute from Robert F. Young's "The Dandelion Girl", a scifi short story, were, on the first meeting between the two main characters, the following is said: "Day before yesterday I saw a rabbit, and yesterday a deer, and today, you." This is interesting because: a) There are plenty of time traveling references once you reach the 1952 aperture's facilities. b) The story is about a girl traveling back in time and becoming her husband's secretary before marrying him. Something about Cave and Caroline's relationship might be implied here.
  • HydroPlume - January 18, 2012 8:14 p.m.

    @BerylMoon That seems very likely, but there is one thing that isn't necessarily true. Why does Caroline have to be dead to become GLaDOS? Like Cave was talking about music on a CD, music can be copied, so why couldn't Caroline's consciousness be copied?
  • albariza - January 1, 2012 11:23 p.m.

    i think the companion cube for coop is the resting place of ratman in the comic Lab Rat he crawls into a capsule and the companion cube sits besides it its identical to that one! damn valve really puts a lot of effort in their games

Showing 1-20 of 143 comments

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