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This article is about the enemy. For the weapon, see Barnacle Grapple.

Barnacle versions.jpg
General information




Blood color
  • Red (Half-Life)
  • Yellow (Half-Life 2)
Individual information
  • 25 (HL1)
  • 35[1] (HL2)
  • Crushing bite (10 per second, attacks repeatedly)[1]
  • Neck snap (HL2) (instant kill to NPCs only)
Game information
  • monster_barnacle (HL1)
  • npc_barnacle (HL2)

Barnacles are alien creatures featured in the Half-Life series.


Barnacles are stationary carnivorous alien creatures with limited intelligence.[1] They typically hang in clusters and use dark places to surprise their prey, usually around a blind corner. Physically, they resemble a large mouth full of sharp teeth with a giant elongated tongue, contained within a mound-shaped meaty body with several tusks. They occasionally regurgitate pieces of recently consumed prey while idle. When killed, they drop an array of partially digested body parts and their tongue retracts some distance. From Half Life 2 onward their jaw hangs out from their outer mouth after death.

They attach themselves to the ceilings and wait. When a victim passes beneath a Barnacle, it snatch its prey with its tongue, pulls it up, and clamps it in its mouth for few seconds before completely devouring them. If the player gets caught, he must immediately kill the creature before getting dragged up too high or risk suffering damage from the fall.



In Half-Life, Barnacles only attack humans. Characters appear to ignore the presence of Barnacles in any condition. When a victim is attacked by a Barnacle, they become immobilized and struggle during this sequence. The player is able to save the victim by killing the creature, allowing the victim to simply drop unharmed.

Opposing Force[edit]

Main article: Barnacle Grapple

In Opposing Force, the player comes across a Barnacle that was detached by the science team. This Barnacle can be used as a weapon to pull and eat small creatures, or as a grappling hook to latch on organic surfaces to reach some areas.

Half-Life 2[edit]

In Half-Life 2, Barnacles now instantly kill their victims when they latch onto them with their tongues. They attack everyone, including alien creatures. They're able to grab objects scattered around the levels and attempt to ingest them. This technique can be used to distract the creature and bypass it. If the object is not edible, they will remember and ignore that object next time.

In the Episodes, Barnacles can be poisoned by eating Poison Headcrabs or Antlion Workers. They will die shortly after eating these creatures. When they latch onto any type of Zombie, they will only consume the Headcrab, dropping the rest of the body.

Related Achievements[edit]

Half-Life 2
Hl2 kill barnacleswithbarrel.png Barnacle Bowling (5G)
Kill five barnacles with one explosive barrel.

Behind the scenes[edit]

One of the textures of the alternate Half-Life 2 leak Barnacle model.
The "mini
barnacle" texture from the Half-Life 2 leak.


In Online Gaming Review's early Half-Life Monster of the Week Feature preview, Barnacles were given the taxonomic designation "Cirripedia donaldsonia." This name is said to be derived from Dr. Louis Donaldson (a reference to Valve's former office manager), the discoverer and first victim of the creature. They are described as having a lifespan of 500 years, and infant, juvenile, and adult forms have all been observed. A Barnacle may tear free from its root attachment if it attempts to grab excessively heavy prey, leaving it grounded. These grounded specimens are said to be harmless as the adult forms of Barnacles lack any form of mobility. In this state, its base dries and hardens, and the creature eventually expires.[4]

The Barnacle was designed by Ted Backman.[2] It is described as a "steroid barnicle (sic) on crack" in the concept art. Although not seen in the game, the concept art shows that they have small feet to cling to ceilings. Within the game, the Barnacle acts as a way to constrict the player's movement in dark areas.[5] It was created to prevent experienced players from rushing through the levels, and make the player look upwards for the rest of the game once they encounter them for the first time.[6]

They were originally intended to be able to grab objects like their Half-Life 2 counterpart. The player was able to trick the creatures and make them eat explosive materials such as crates of dynamite or propane tanks.[7] They were originally designed to retract their tongue when idle, lowering it when they sensed prey below and would actively grab their victim instead of passively waiting for food.[8] In Day One, the unused Vortigaunt animations show the creature being grabbed and eaten by a Barnacle.

Half-Life 2[edit]

  • The Half-Life 2 version was animated by Derek Jenson.[9]
  • The Citizens were originally intended to identify Barnacles and shout a warning to other nearby characters.[10]
  • While the Barnacle model found in the Half-Life 2 leak is identical to the retail one, its texture folder feature textures for an alternate model, as well as a texture named minibarnacle. The Half-Life 2 leak files also features a variation, named Sand Barnacle.


In some circumstances, the player can use the Barnacle's tongue to reach an upper area when being pulled up. In Half-Life, the player can use this method to reach chargers inside a silo in the chapter Blast Pit.





Opposing Force[edit]

Blue Shift[edit]

Half-Life 2[edit]


List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]



Combine OverWiki has more images related to Barnacle.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Half-Life 2 Prima Guide
  2. 2.0 2.1 Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, page 21
  3. Derek Jenson's portfolio
  4. Half-Life - Monster of the Week feature on Online Gaming Review (1997) (archived)
  5. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, page 14
  6. Interview with Gabe Newell on Gamereactor (May 12, 2004) (archived)
  7. IRC Interview on Far2Cool (October 17, 1997) (archived)
  8. YouTube favicon.png Half-Life (pre-release) - Barnacle on YouTube
  9. Derek Jenson's personal website
  10. Half-Life 2 files (hl2/resource/closecaption_english.txt)