Adrian Shephard

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Adrian Shephard
Biographical information



Between 1978 and 1987

Function(s) / Belongings
Rank/ Occupation



Every weapon seen in Opposing Force

Physical description




Chronological and political information

Black Mesa Incident

Game information
Voiced by




"What's your name, dirtbag? Sound off like you got a pair! Corporal Shephard, huh? Looks more like Corporal "Dog Meat" to me! Seems your name was mysteriously bumped to the top of the advanced training list!"
Dwight T. Barnes[src]

Cpl Adrian Shephard is the silent protagonist of Half-Life: Opposing Force, a US Marine Corporal assigned to the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit from the Santego Military Base in Arizona, where he was trained by Drill Instructors Dwight T. Barnes and Sharp. During the Black Mesa Incident, he is one of the men sent to the Black Mesa Research Facility to kill the Xen invaders and later silence the witnesses, especially a scientist named Gordon Freeman, as part of a classified mission. Early in the game, Shephard finds himself separated from his unit and ends up fighting solely for his life, aided by fellow Marines scattered around the facility and Black Mesa employees, and confronts another alien faction, Race X. He was 22 years old at the time of the events.[1]


[edit] Biography

[edit] Background

[edit] Shephard's diary entries

First entry of Shephard's diary.

The Opposing Force instruction manual features several diary entries made by Adrian Shephard prior to the Black Mesa Incident, giving some insight of his Advanced Training before the disaster and G-Man's interest in him.

  • "March 3rd - Another typically hellish day at base camp... I'll be glad when this is over and I can finally can get assigned a mission. There has been this really weird civie spotted at the base. Rumor is he's from some government branch looking to recruit; others say he's with some secret research group. I would jump at the chance to join. It would be cool just for the change and the adventure."
  • "March 7th - I finally saw the government guy today. I am not sure he is a g-man, but he was wearing a really uptight suit and carrying a briefcase. He looked more like a lawyer or insurance agent to me. I did notice him checking me out. Several times throughout the day I spotted him just watching me during training. I wonder what he's up to..."
  • "March 9th - For weeks our drills have been the same crap day after day. Today we assemble for the morning run and our drill instructor tells us we have one week to become experts at indoor strategic combat. We will be spending every day this week at the combat simulation facility. As far as I know this a specialized training not taught in boot camp. What I want to know is if this is to test our ability to adapt or if we are being readied for a specific mission? Time will tell..."
  • "March 12th - The rumors have been flying since our indoor combat training began. Most of my peers are convinced that we are being primed for a mission. No one can agree on what the mission is. I have heard the name Black Mesa Facility thrown around a lot, but I have no information about the place. The rumors are that some top-secret research is going on there. Doesn't sound too exciting to me..."
  • "March 15th - The rumor has been confirmed. We are being trained for a mission at the Black Mesa Facility. All I know is that the place is being used by scientists who are doing some kind of new research. I can't imagine what we would be needed for. We were told today to be ready in case it happens tomorrow. I don't know what "it" is, but the whole thing is a little strange. I kind of hope it doesn't happen; the mission doesn't seem to have much excitement potential. I'd rather hold out for something with more likelihood of combat."

[edit] Appearances

The multiplayer model "shephard.mdl".

[edit] Half-Life: Opposing Force

Shephard was to reach Black Mesa aboard an Osprey Heliplane designated Goose 7. With him were other soldiers such as Tower and Jackson. When the nearby Osprey, Goose 3, and his are attacked by Alien Crafts, it crashes in Black Mesa, killing most of the passengers. Shephard must then make his way through Black Mesa to be evacuated. When he arrives at the extraction point however, the G-Man prevents him from catching the last Osprey, forcing Shephard to leave the facility by other means and going through parts of the facilities not seen in Half-Life and dealing with the Race X aliens and the Black Ops, to finally defeat the Gene Worm.

Unlike the other Marines, Shephard works with the increasingly distrustful scientists and guards in order to make it out of Black Mesa alive. This is due to the fact that he never received the orders to kill them, as his Osprey was shot down before his commander could inform the squad of their mission.

The Gene Worm is defeated.

Shephard and Freeman do cross paths during the game, but at that point Shephard is merely an observer to Gordon's travel to Xen - they never fight against each other at any moment. It should be noted that while Shephard witnesses Gordon Freeman's transportation to Xen, he has the option to follow him through the teleporter before it collapses. However, upon doing so Shephard will find himself teleported several meters away from Gordon, away from any Xen "island", before falling through space. Doing so will produce the message "Evaluation terminated: Subject attempted to create a temporal paradox." and end the game (it actually allows Shephard to enter Freeman's timeline, that is, the original Half-Life, thus the paradox). However, since no time travel is involved in the teleportation process, it would appear this message is at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and not entirely representative of the actual in-universe event (Shephard entering the teleport and presumably due to its massive instability, teleported a few feet away from the original exit location).

The G-Man appears to take an interest in Shephard's movements, even before the Black Mesa Incident occurs: as early as three months prior, Shephard spots him in his training base.[2] During the incident he also takes on a more active role towards Shephard than with Freeman, both directly helping and hindering him on his way through Black Mesa. For instance, at one point Shephard finds himself trapped in a collapsing room, with toxic waste quickly filling the area; the G-Man observes him until the very last moment, then opens the locked door to allow him in to safety. Later, Shephard deactivates the thermonuclear warhead brought in by the Black Ops to destroy Black Mesa, but the G-Man reactivates it. In the end, the G-Man reveals that he has successfully argued for Shephard's life, detaining him in some unknown void. He expresses a degree of respect for Shephard's abilities, even praising him for having abilities to adapt and survive against all odds, which rather reminds him of himself.

[edit] Half-Life: Blue Shift

Shephard is briefly mentioned in the Blue Shift chapter Duty Calls. When its main character, Barney Calhoun, sees a pair of marines dumping corpses into a sewer opening, he overhears one of the Marines grumbling: "Just because Shephard's team didn't make it, we have to do the crap jobs?"

[edit] Fate and possible return

The "temporal paradox" message.

At the end of G-Man's speech in the last Opposing Force chapter, Shephard is said to be "detained", followed by "Further evaluation pending". His fate is currently unknown and it is not known where and how he is detained.

He has not been seen in Half-Life 2 and its episodes, but has, however, retained a large number of fans among players of the game, who have been speculating about his return for years. In 2006 Gabe Newell has hinted that he may one day return, although it is unsure when and how.[3]

When asked about this possible return in May 2007, Valve's Doug Lombardi did not dismiss it but stated that there were no plans of bringing him back at the moment or anytime in the future and that for example he would not appear in Portal 2: "There's nothing being built today, there's no secret Adrian Shephard project going on right now, but that's not to say we won't ever come back and tell another Shephard story. He resonated with players really, really well. When we heard the pitch for Opposing Force, he resonated with us too. So we'll see."[4]

In 2009, series' writer Marc Laidlaw also joked on his canon status, saying that Shephard is a bit like Schrodinger's cat: he is neither canon nor non-canon, depending on whether or not the G-Man may or may not have a use for him.[5]

[edit] Behind the scenes

An early unmasked Shephard.
  • Shephard was originally to appear unmasked, as seen in an early Opposing Force screenshot.
  • "Adrian" comes from the Latin name "Hadrianus", which "Hadrian" is also derived from. Several saints and six popes have borne this name, including the only English pope, Adrian IV, and the only Dutch pope, Adrian VI. As an English name, it has been in use since the Middle Ages, though it was not popular until modern times.[6] "Shephard" is an English surname derived from "shepherd".
  • In Portal, the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device's acronym is "ASHPD". This bears a striking resemblance to Adrian's name (Adrian SHePharD), which led many players to speculate it is a hidden Easter egg, suggesting Shephard's involvement in Portal or its sequel. In addition, completing Portal unlocks a new menu background which contains a keyboard that has all the letters in Adrian Shephard's name highlighted, and these keyboards can also be seen throughout the game. Kim Swift said in an interview that the ASHPD acronym was actually a complete coincidence and that they added the keyboard highlights after people mentioned the acronym.[7] Valve's Doug Lombardi also confirmed the coincidence.[4]

[edit] Trivia

  • As seen in the game's box art and the multiplayer model called "shephard.mdl", Shephard's model is the generic gas mask soldier, with no alterations.
  • Shephard is also the main protagonist of the short Internet fan film Beyond Black Mesa, set during the Combine occupation as well.
  • In Christopher Brookmyre's A Big Boy did it and Ran Away, Angelique de Xavier's briefing is taken over by "Captain Adrian Shepherd". The book having many references to the video game culture, this may be a direct homage.

[edit] Gallery

[edit] List of appearances

[edit] References

  1. Half-Life: Opposing Force
  2. Half-Life: Opposing Force instruction manual
  3. Adrian Shephard return?. Forums (3 March 2006). Retrieved on 2006-11-28.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Valve clears up Adrian Shephard Portal speculation. Eurogamer (18 May 2007). Retrieved on 2009-06-21.
  5. Marc Laidlaw Vault on the Forums
  7. Beyond the Box: Orange Box Afterthoughts. (13 December 2007). Retrieved on 2009-06-29.
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