This article is about the Half-Life 2 character. For his cut predecessor, see The Consul.
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|Function(s) / Belongings|
|Rank / Occupation|
Brief usage of the supercharged Gravity Gun
|Chronological and political information|
Dr. Wallace Breen was Black Mesa's, then later, after negotiating the surrender of Earth and ending the Seven Hour War, Earth’s Administrator. From his headquarters in the Citadel of City 17, he was humanity's representative in the Combine empire and served as the primary antagonist of Half-Life 2.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Appearances
- 3 Relationships
- 4 Breencasts
- 5 Dr. Breen's Private Reserve
- 6 BreenGrub
- 7 Behind the scenes
- 8 Trivia
- 9 Gallery
- 10 List of appearances
- 11 See also
- 12 References
Half-Life and the Seven Hour War
Doctor Breen is Administrator of the Black Mesa Research Facility at the time of the Black Mesa Incident in 200-. During the events depicted in Half-Life, he is neither seen nor directly mentioned by name, instead always referred to as "the Administrator". It is at his behest that unstable sample GG-3883 is scheduled to be thoroughly analyzed in the Anti-Mass Spectrometer, requiring a dangerous operating level of 105% despite evident protests and equipment malfunctions. His insistence, in apparent collusion with the G-Man, leads to the Resonance Cascade and subsequently the Black Mesa Incident. The great "lengths" he went to in obtaining the sample alludes to the fates of numerous Survey Team members who died in Xen in order to acquire it and other specimens.
The disaster directly leads to the Seven Hour War, at the end of which he "negotiates" a peace agreement with the Combine that saves humanity, but at the cost of their freedom. Breen is appointed with charge of an entity called the Human Affairs Bureau and then later declared the "Interim Administrator" of Earth (as seen on newspaper clips in Black Mesa East). To what degree the invasion and his issuance of power was intentionally orchestrated is uncertain, but his comprehensive motivations for ensuring the Black Mesa Incident remain unknown (though almost certainly influenced by the G-Man). If his propaganda is to be believed, he may have been under the impression that introducing the Combine would have brought about a cosmic unity between the two races, and would have been ultimately beneficial for the human race (something that he still claims despite the evidently large number of humans suffering at the time of Combine occupation of Earth). Whether or not he is the one who intentionally attracted the Combine to Earth, his intentions appear to be noble on the surface, and he sounds quite sure that he is doing the right thing — though he may be simply attempting to justify his actions to the populace as much as himself. Even if he had selfish reasons for doing so, the human race most likely would have faced complete genocide had he not surrendered Earth at the end of the Seven Hour War.
Breen is alerted to the return of Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2 when he is accidentally teleported to his office in the Citadel for a few seconds. Breen informs the Combine and immediately dispatches the forces at his disposal to capture (or kill) Freeman and break the associated Resistance movement in City 17.
During Gordon Freeman's raid on the Citadel, Freeman is temporarily in the custody of Breen, until Judith Mossman turns against the Administrator. During this brief time, Breen makes a very notable statement: he mentions while in the presence of Alyx Vance and her father, Eli (who are also in his custody) that Gordon "has proven a fine pawn to those who control him." He also comments that Gordon's services are "open to the highest bidder," and says he would understand if Gordon does not want to discuss it in front of his friends. These remarks imply that Breen is aware of the mysterious G-Man and his influence over Freeman, something only Eli Vance seems to know about. Another possible reference to the G-Man is in one of the Breencasts broadcast in Nova Prospekt: "I have good reason to believe that in the intervening years, he was in a state that precluded further development of covert skills.", suggesting Breen knows about Freeman having remained in stasis between the Black Mesa Incident and his comeback around 20 years later.
When the Resistance begins to loosen the Combine's hold on City 17 and Gordon Freeman infiltrates the Citadel itself, Breen attempts to flee using a Combine teleport. Freeman manages to stop him by destroying the Citadel's dark fusion reactor, which then destroys the teleport in a massive explosion. After the player destroys the reactor at the top of the Citadel, the platform that Breen is seen riding up to the portal collapses, and he is seen falling to his apparent death, his last words being "You need me!".
Half-Life 2: Episode One
Dr. Breen's fate remains unknown in Half-Life 2: Episode One. His only appearances in the game are during an apparent flashback/dream at the beginning, with Breen repeating a sentence from Half-Life 2 on a falling Combine monitor, asking Gordon what exactly he has created. Afterwards, while being plucked out the wreckage, one of the few things Alyx remembers is Breen falling. Another occasion of Breen's appearance is during a video recording of a conversation made during Half-Life 2, where he mentions being transferred into a "host body". After seeing Breen on the monitor, Alyx is surprised, questioning how it is possible, but is then relieved when she realizes that it is an old recording - apparently she believes that Breen is dead. In the same scene, an Advisor in its pod (with the serial number 314 URB-LOC 0017) is moved into a launching tube and begins a psychic attack against Gordon and Alyx while leaving the Citadel.
It is not clear if this attack was unprovoked as it only begins when Alyx gently taps on the casing of the pod; though there remains the possibility that Breen is actually dead and the Advisor in the pod is merely the Advisor that Breen is speaking to near the end of Half-Life 2, or any other Advisor. The game commentary included by Valve for the scene is non-committal about what the creature actually is, and only reveals that what is happening in that particular room is an important setup for events in Episode Two.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Breen does not appear in Episode Two; however, during the G-Man's "heart-to-heart" with Gordon Freeman, at the mention of "naysayers" who were against the rescue of Alyx Vance from Black Mesa, Breen's image briefly flashes up on the screen behind the G-Man. The latter goes on to say that he learned to ignore such opposition when "quelling them was out of the question". This, coupled with the remarks Breen made at the end of Half-Life 2 and during his speech in Nova Prospekt, suggests more than ever that Breen was directly aware of the G-Man and his employers, and was fighting against them even before the Black Mesa Incident occurred.
Half-Life: Alyx 
In Half-Life: Alyx, Breen is only mentioned through newspapers and magazines which explain that he discovered how to communicate with the Combine and negotiate the surrender of Earth. In an article written in The Terminal newspaper, Breen receives both praise and criticism for negotiating Earth's surrender on behalf of humanity. In his own defense, the article claims that he appeared on a televised interview the night prior and offered a 'token rebuttal' to which he proclaimed "...took the only possible course of action. Those who know [him] and [his] work know [he's] not a politician. [He's] a scientist." A tech magazine named Tech Impact featured Breen in its cover story, stating that “The right man in the right place could save us all”, a reference to the G-Man’s opening speech in Half-Life 2. In addition to his appearance in various newspapers and magazines, Breen is also featured on some Combine Infestation Control signs in the Quarantine Zone which read "Congratulations. This location has been selected for habitat renewal."
As of this game's events, Breen hasn't reached the height of the power he would have during Half-Life 2 due to still having to compete with other factions of human collaborators over the privilege of becoming humanity's representative.
Serving as Gordon's initial employer, the Doctors briefly worked together at the Black Mesa Research Facility. Being a primary cause of the Resonance Cascade in spite of staff protests, Breen seems to regard their well-being, Gordon Freeman included, very little. By the time of Freeman's reappearance, his reputation as an inexplicable survivor that put an end to the Black Mesa Incident is at odds with his established administration of Earth, and so seeks to prevent him from undermining his governance. Indeed, in his public Breencasts, he admonishes Gordon as a subversive radical seeking to destroy humanity's survival for the future, which in his eyes was hard won from the Combine. He also seems skeptical as to how a mere untrained theoretical physicist could slip through Combine forces again and again, going as far as to threaten Overwatch forces with severe punishment unless they double their efforts against Freeman. However, in private, he shows his opportunistic side, making no hesitations to negotiate for Freeman's services with his superiority, even offering him a modicum of flattery.
While self-inflated on the surface, Breen's true relationship with Freeman seems to run much deeper. When attempting to re-employ Gordon for his own ends, Breen alludes to Gordon's current employment for the G-Man, asking him if he know his "contract was open to the highest bidder," which likely serves as a signal of solidarity in regards to both being connected to the enigmatic figure. In addition, Breen's final words to Gordon before his apparent death are "You need me!", suggesting there are many unanswered questions surrounding the truth behind Breen and his intersection with Gordon, though it could also double (or be a bluff) for last-second bargaining for his life.
Breen, as former Black Mesa Administrator, was once Eli's boss, but their relationship at that time is unknown. As Earth Administrator, Breen is quickly shown to be strongly disliked by Eli when he is introduced by Alyx on the propaganda poster found near Kleiner's Lab's hidden entrance. At that point, Alyx suggests that Gordon does not "get [her] father started" on the subject of Dr. Breen. When Gordon approaches the corkboard with newspapers in Black Mesa East, Eli refers to Breen as "the administrator of this whole vile business." In the final confrontation with Breen in the Citadel, Eli goes on to explain that he despises Breen for selling himself to the Combine at humanity's expense, and later describes what he has done to Earthlings as "beyond words", "genocide", and "indescribable evil". Eli then challenges his adversary to send him and Alyx through a Combine portal, killing them, "if that's the worst [he] can do."
Breen shows general disrespect for Eli, and mocks both him and his daughter while they are helplessly captive. Breen acknowledges Eli's abilities and his value to the Resistance however, and plans to barter both Gordon and Eli to the Combine, before being betrayed by Judith Mossman.
Breen does not appear to show much care for Mossman as a person, as he tries to manipulate her against Eli, Freeman, and Alyx, and only uses her as a double agent. It is also Breen who points out that Mossman is only campaigning for Eli's life because of her feelings for him, something she is quick to deny. Breen also speaks to Judith dismissively, treating her as a distraction rather than a valuable asset, and showing false reassurance when telling her that she is "more than qualified" to finish Eli's work herself. However when Mossman finally betrays Breen to save Eli, Gordon and Alyx, Breen is visibly surprised, and attempts to dissuade her from doing so, to no avail.
Breen does not hold Alyx in much regard, and speaks to her like she is a child, asking Eli to give her the chance her mother never had. This comment provokes Alyx to spit angrily at Breen's face, telling him to never dare even mention her, suggesting she seems to think that Azian's death was Breen's fault to a degree. Breen then discards his air of mock concern and angrily retorts that she has her mother's eyes, but her father's stubborn nature, where Alyx stands her ground.
Breen is strongly implied to have a clandestine connection with the G-Man. In Half-Life, the unseen Administrator's instructions and the machinations of the G-Man appear to be one and the same. Indeed, the G-Man is implied to hold a key position within Black Mesa Administration, if not acting as Administrator itself, as evidenced by his oversight of the experiment, including directly dismissing scientist concerns and providing sample GG-3883 as revealed in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, not to mention his distinct appearance from other personnel, donning a bureaucratic two-piece suit and Black Mesa-branded briefcase. When revealed to be two separate actors in Half-Life 2, it implies the two must have been working in solidarity in order to co-conspire the outcome of the Resonance Cascade, the risks of which were well-established. Why Breen would work with the G-Man towards the same goal is inconclusive.
If their shared objective wasn't proof enough of their link, in Half-Life 2 Breen comments after Gordon's re-appearance, "I have good reason to believe that in the intervening years, he was in a state that precluded further development of covert skills" suggesting Breen is privy to knowledge otherwise exclusive to the G-Man. Furthermore, Breen appears to be aware of Gordon's employment to the G-Man, cryptically asking him if he knew his "contract was open to the highest bidder," ostensibly in reference to the Resistance, but suggesting elaboration on the subject in private, which would befit his hidden relationship with the G-Man. This attempt to re-employ Gordon, in addition to the G-Man's apparent new objective of collapsing the Citadel's Dark Energy Reactor may imply the once mutually beneficial relationship between the two has diverged, with Breen seeking to counter the G-Man's disruptive new aim by hiring Gordon for himself.
During the G-Man's "heart-to-heart" in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, in the apparition of the Sector C lobby, a distortion of Breen flashes on screen while the G-Man mentions facing objections from "naysayers" at the idea of seizing an infant Alyx Vance from the Black Mesa Incident, being cited "she was a mere child and of no practical use to anyone." The G-Man elaborates that he disregarded the objectors, as "quelling them was out of the question." The visual cue implies that this "naysayer" rebutting the idea of taking Alyx was none other than Breen, and that the G-Man preserved him only out of necessity.
Throughout Half-Life 2, Dr. Breen is frequently shown in "Breencasts" — city-wide propaganda video broadcasts which he uses to speak directly to Citizens and Combine forces alike. Breencasts consist of various topics including but not limited to the suppression of human reproduction, collaboration with the Combine and the recent failures of the transhuman forces to apprehend Gordon Freeman. In these addresses, Breen selectively refers to the Combine as "Our Benefactors" and uses the descriptor term "universal union" to more positively describe their supposed empire of a multi-dimensional conglomerate of species, underlining that humanity cannot comprehend the full nature with their "small minds."
One such Breencast (played to the player in audio form only) is as follows, as he addresses Gordon Freeman:
"I'd like to take a moment to address you directly, Doctor Freeman. Yes, I'm talking to you, the so-called "One Free Man." I have a question for you: How could you have thrown it all away? It staggers the mind. A man of science with the ability to sway reactionary and fearful minds toward the truth, choosing instead to embark on a path of ignorance and decay. Make no mistake, Doctor Freeman – this is not a scientific revolution you have sparked, this is death and finality! You have plunged humanity into freefall. Even if you offered your surrender now, I cannot guarantee that Our Benefactors would accept it. At the moment I fear they have begun to look upon even me with suspicion – so much for serving as humanity's representative. Help me win back their trust, Doctor Freeman. Surrender while you still can. Help ensure that humanity's trust in you is not misguided. Do what is right, Doctor Freeman. Serve mankind."
This last Breencast has the Administrator pleading with Freeman to end his quest to bring down the Citadel. He also displays his fearfulness and disappointment with the Combine, who are suspicious of his motives.
Apparently, some Citizens enjoyed some of the Breencasts - in Episode One, one Citizen can be heard saying to another; "I don't miss Dr. Breen, but I do miss his show. Remember when he had the jugglers on?". Whether the Breencasts broadcast other programs such as jugglers is unknown.
Dr. Breen's Private Reserve
"BreenGrub" is the name of a Twitter account created by Half-Life series writer Marc Laidlaw that was used to tell a "fanfic" story based on Dr. Breen that followed the events of Half-Life 2. It is also the name used to describe Breen's form in his host body, as used by Laidlaw in his other "fanfic" short story Epistle 3. Although it has yet to appear in any canonical Half-Life title, the term and its associated concepts have since been widely adopted by the community.
Behind the scenes
- In the early stages of Half-Life 2's production, Breen was not known as the "Administrator", but the "Consul".
- In the Half-Life Audio Script, the Administrator evoked by the scientists is revealed to be the G-Man, suggesting he is the one overseeing experiments. For Half-Life 2, the G-Man was retconned as a more independent entity, and Wallace Breen was created to retroactively fill the Administrator's shoes.
- Wallace Breen was modeled after Roger Guay, director at Tanner Electric Cooperative, an electric cooperative located in North Bend, Washington. Breen's outfit was also inspired from Guay's.
- At one point in the game's production, nine different types of eyewear for Breen were suggested. Raising the Bar provides a August 22, 2003 e-mail written by Bill Van Buren and titled "Please help Dr. Breen", asking some of his colleagues what eyewear they like most among the first half of them.
- In the Breencast screens seen during the Half-Life 2 chapters Water Hazard and Anticitizen One, the image of the G-Man flickers on and off among the images of Breen.
- In The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx it was revealed that Breen originally was supposed to appear in Half-Life: Alyx. He was cut from the game later on in development.
- In Left 4 Dead, Breen's face makes a cameo appearance on the cover of a newspaper. This is most likely a developer oversight, as the newspaper model came directly from Half-Life 2.
- In Half-Life: Alyx, some readable newspaper models feature Breen. One of them reveals he is 52 years old shortly after the events of the Seven Hour War.
- In one of the Breencasts, Breen addresses the allegations that he is a "collaborator" with the Combine, where in said speech he states: "And only the universal union that small minds call 'The Combine' can carry us there." This has often been misinterpreted to mean that Breen scrutinizes the use of the term "The Combine" despite the name being present in a significant amount of propaganda, as well as being used by him later in the game when he addresses the transhuman arm of the Sector 17 Combine Overwatch in Nova Prospekt, and when he speaks to Eli, Alyx and Gordon in the Citadel. It more likely refers to the fact that the Combine are so vast that merely describing them as "The Combine" does not fully grasp their true nature.
- "Wallace" is a Scottish surname which originally meant "Welsh" or "foreigner" in Norman French. It was first used as given name in honor of Sir William Wallace, the Scottish hero who led a rebellion to expel the English invaders from Scotland in the 13th century (portrayed in the film Braveheart). "Breen" is an Irish surname derived from the Irish Gaelic "Ó Braoin." "Broin" means "sorrow" or "sadness".
The different attempts of eyewear on Breen's model, viewed in the Source SDK faceposer.
Concept art of Breen in his host body, often called BreenGrub.
Wallace Breen on the front page of the newspaper The Terminal.
The first Breencast seen by Gordon Freeman at the City 17 Trainstation, during which Breen welcomes new Citizens.
Another Breencast, in the trainstation's food hall, where Breen talks about instinct.
Breen seen in the same Breencast through a television in Citizen apartments.
Breen escaping from his office using the Combine elevator.
Half-Life 2: Episode One
Image of Alyx Vance promoting the arrival of Steam on Mac.
List of appearances
- Half-Life (Indirect mention only) (Retcon)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force (Indirect mention only) (Retcon)
- Half-Life: Blue Shift (Indirect mention only) (Retcon)
- Half-Life: Decay (Indirect mention only) (Retcon)
- Half-Life 2 (First appearance) (First identified as Wallace Breen)
- Half-Life 2: Episode One (Video only) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two (Video only) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Half-Life: Alyx (Mentioned only)
- Half-Life: Day One (First mentioned) (Indirect mention only) (Retcon)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
- Half-Life 2: Deathmatch (Poster only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- The Final Hours of Portal 2 (Indirect mention only)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
- Behind the scenes of Half-Life: Alyx: How Valve revived a classic franchise for the VR era on GeekWire
- Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw goes back to Breen with fanfiction Twitter account on PCGamesN (May 22, 2013)
- Half-Life 2 leak
- WC map pack
- Half-Life Audio Script
- Wallace on Behind the Name
- Breen on Behind the Name
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