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Eli Vance

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This subject is related to the Black Mesa Incident era.
This subject is related to the Combine era.
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This article is about the Half-Life 2 character. For his predecessors, see Eli (early character) and Captain Vance.

For other uses, see Vance (disambiguation).

Eli Portrait.jpg
Eli Vance
Biographical information



202- (Ep2, before Alyx's intervention)

Function(s) / Belongings
Rank / Occupation
  • Scientist (HL)
  • Scientist / Resistance leader (HL2)

Wedding ring


Customized the Scout Car with Alyx

Physical description




Hair color


Eye color



Prosthetic leg

Chronological and political information
Game information
Voiced by
Modeled over
  • scientist03 (HL model)
  • Uncredited man (HL2)
  • monster_scientist
  • npc_eli
Voice sample(s)

Half-Life 2:

Half-Life: Alyx:

"Gordon... Thanks for everything you've done. For Alyx, for all of us. I couldn't be prouder if you were my own son."
― Eli Vance[src]

Dr. Eli Vance is a physicist and researcher who worked and lived at the Black Mesa Research Facility with his wife Azian and infant daughter Alyx when the cataclysmic Black Mesa Incident occurred. After escaping from the site with nothing but Alyx, a family picture, and his wedding ring, Eli spent the next two decades working as a prominent member of the Resistance against the Combine alongside his daughter. Eli is an African-American man, seemingly in his late fifties or early sixties, with short gray hair, a beard, and a moustache. He wears a Flex-Foot Cheetah-type prosthetic leg that replaces his missing left leg beneath the knee, which he lost in a Bullsquid attack.



As seen on his sweater, Eli is presumably a graduate of Harvard University.


Eli at Black Mesa.


By 200-, Vance is employed at the Black Mesa Research Facility, working in Sector C's Anomalous Materials. As a full-time employee of Black Mesa, he lives in the facility itself with his wife Azian and their young daughter Alyx.

Although he was never named during the game or featured as a full character, he is seen on two occasions.[4][2] First, when Gordon Freeman is making his way into the test chamber: Dr. Vance and another scientist voice their concerns that their computer equipment is being damaged due to the heightened strains of the morning's experiment. Second, when Gordon retraces his steps through Sector C after the Resonance Cascade, he encounters Vance and the scientist he had been with earlier, who is now badly injured. Vance informs Gordon that the telephone network has broken, and sends him up to the surface to seek help. His last act in Half-Life is to operate the retinal scanner that starts Gordon on his long quest through the facility.

Post-Black Mesa Incident[edit]

After assisting Gordon in the aftermath of the Resonance Cascade, Eli managed to escape the facility along with Alyx, although Azian perished in the Black Mesa Incident. Alyx, a family picture and his wedding ring which he still wears were all he managed to carry out of Black Mesa.[4][2]

After escaping, he relocated to City 17, where he contributed in founding the local Resistance, and became the leader of Black Mesa East. During that period, he also lost his leg to a Bullsquid while helping Isaac Kleiner climb over a barrier to get into City 17.[4][7]

According to the Vortigaunts, Eli was the first human being to make peaceful contact with them ("The Eli Vance was our first collaborator."), quickly persuading the alien race to ally with humanity against the Combine invasion of Earth. Vortigaunts furthermore state that Eli earned their trust, is indispensable to the liberation and that he almost perceives the "All-in-One".[2]

Half-Life 2[edit]

During his work at Black Mesa East, he designed the Gravity Gun, worked on teleportation with Kleiner and Judith Mossman, and rebuilt with his daughter a Scout Car for the Resistance outposts located along the Coast, on which he mounted a Tau Cannon.[2]

Eli and Alyx Vance chatting at Black Mesa East.

As survivors of the Black Mesa Incident, Eli, Alyx, Isaac Kleiner, and Barney Calhoun, form the core of the Resistance who are attempting to overthrow the Combine who have taken over Earth after the Seven Hour War. The Vances have established a makeshift laboratory, Black Mesa East, on the outskirts of City 17. There, Dr. Judith Mossman assists them in their continuing research in the field of teleportation.

When Gordon Freeman is freed from stasis in 202-, he is reunited with his old colleagues, and is to link up with Eli at his lab. Kleiner and Vance briefly establish a working teleport system between their two labs; the system fails on its second attempt due to interference from Lamarr, forcing Gordon to reach Black Mesa East on foot.

When Freeman arrives at Eli's lab, his arrival triggers an invasion by Combine forces, who had been chasing him throughout. The soldiers then capture Eli and take him to Nova Prospekt.

Later Gordon and Alyx storm the prison to free him, fighting off hordes of Combine forces to locate Eli and Mossman. During the final siege, however, Mossman teleports herself and Eli into the Citadel.

While infiltrating the Citadel, Gordon and Alyx are captured; Dr. Breen addresses both Vances and Freeman in his office with Dr. Mossman at his side, revealing her double agent role. Mossman then turns on Breen and frees his hostages, and stays with Eli while Alyx and Gordon pursue the fleeing Breen.

Before the dark fusion reactor is destroyed and before Gordon and Alyx are rescued by Vortigaunts, Eli and Judith use one of Dr. Breen's escape pods to leave the Citadel, and reach a Vortigaunt camp, "way outside the city", possibly in the Outlands.[8]

Half-Life 2: Episode One[edit]

Eli smiling to Alyx while she puts her hand on the screen at the foot of the Citadel.

In Episode One, Eli appears at the beginning of the game in a monitor transmission with Dr. Kleiner, telling Alyx and Gordon to get out of City 17 before the Citadel Core explodes. He is likely already at White Forest, that he reached with Mossman, who left soon after they arrived.[9]

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

In Episode Two, Eli works with Kleiner and Magnusson at White Forest on a rocket that will neutralize the Portal Storms, and prevent the Combine from drawing reinforcements through their dormant Superportal. When Gordon and Alyx arrive, they deliver a recording of Judith Mossman's transmission about the Borealis, which never reached White Forest. Eli is visibly shaken by the danger Mossman is in, and is only prevented from going after her himself by pressure from Alyx and Kleiner. When the Borealis appears in the transmission, Eli immediately wishes it destroyed, lest the events of Black Mesa repeat themselves. Alyx then delivers a subliminally implanted message given to her by the G-Man, to "prepare for unforeseen consequences." After a moment of extreme shock, Eli appears to dismiss the message, asking that Alyx make him tea in another room.

Eli being killed by an Advisor.

Once Alyx has left, Eli states that he too is aware of the G-Man's existence (the first character in the Half-Life universe to openly do so). He indicates to Gordon that the Xen crystal that began the events of Half-Life was delivered by the G-Man, and that Alyx's survival in Black Mesa was due to his interference. Moments after Gordon entered the Black Mesa test chamber, the G-Man warned Eli to "prepare for unforeseen consequences". He also makes it very clear that he knows that Gordon is aware the G-Man's existence, revealing that he may know of Gordon's direct involvement with him and his 20 years of stasis. He is convinced that the current warning relates to the Borealis, and seems to take it seriously despite his resentment over the way in which it was delivered. Eli indicates he can reveal more about the G-Man, but before he can do so, Alyx re-enters the room, and the conversation is halted.

After the rocket is successfully launched, Eli thanks Gordon for everything and tells him he could not be prouder if he were his own son. He also tells him he has more information to reveal and that he will get back to that later. They then watch the Superportal being shut off by the rocket, then Gordon and Alyx get ready to leave and undertake their search for Judith Mossman with a helicopter. Arrived in the hangar where the helicopter is stationed, Eli and his daughter embrace in an affectionate moment. A few seconds later, Advisors break in and one of them kills Eli while Gordon and Alyx watch helplessly. Dog suddenly arrives and defeats the Advisor holding Eli and the other threatening Alyx and Gordon. Alyx then weeps over her father's dead body, as the screen fades to black, and the credits roll.

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]

Eli five years before Gordon's return.

Five years prior to Gordon Freeman's return, while intercepting a shipment of Combine mini-reactors, Eli and Alyx are captured by the Combine. While Alyx is freed from her captors by Russell, Eli is put on a train to Nova Prospekt. Alyx derails the train, freeing him. After being saved from falling to his death by a Vortigaunt named Gary, Eli makes his way back to Russell's Lab where he works to decrypt a Combine datapod in order to gain information about a mysterious Vault. After realizing the Vault is actually a prison containing someone that the Combine considers a great threat, Eli and his daughter Alyx surmise that they must be holding Gordon Freeman. Alyx goes to infiltrate the Vault. Before she does, Eli realizes something terrible and tries to warn Alyx not to enter, but it is too late as Alyx has already made it inside. Alyx opens the cell hoping to release Gordon Freeman but unknowingly releases the G-Man.

Due to Alyx's actions in opening the Vault and freeing the G-Man, Eli's death in Episode Two is prevented. However, Alyx has now been taken by the G-Man and put into stasis to "await assignment." In the hangar where the sequence of events has been altered, Eli expresses his anger, vowing to kill the G-Man for this. He hands Gordon his crowbar, telling him "we have work to do."


Alyx Vance[edit]

Eli kisses Alyx one final time before she and Gordon depart White Forest.

Having lost a wife and a mother, Eli and Alyx are very close. He calls her "baby", "honey" or "sweetheart" and is willing to sacrifice himself for her when she and Gordon come to rescue him at Nova Prospekt. At Black Mesa East and White Forest, Eli also teases her several times about her relationship with Gordon, and suggests he would not mind having grandchildren from them. Eli and Alyx seem even closer in Episode Two, embracing and expressing joy at being together again. Right before Eli dies, he tells her how he loves her one last time. When the Advisor let go of his body, Alyx weeps over it, devastated, asking him not to leave her. When Eli's fate is changed due to Alyx/G-Man's actions, he expresses anger and frustration, vowing to kill the G-Man for taking Alyx.

Gordon Freeman[edit]

Eli warning Gordon in White Forest about things to come, after thanking him for everything he has done.

A few minutes before dying, Eli thanks Gordon for everything and tells him he could not be prouder if he were his own son. He holds Gordon in high esteem and is very admiring of his courage through his ordeals since the Black Mesa Incident. He also does not blame him for what happened in Black Mesa. Upon Eli waking Gordon up at the end of Half-Life: Alyx, he asks for Gordon's help in killing the G-Man.

Isaac Kleiner[edit]

Eli and Kleiner have both known each other and worked together since the days of Black Mesa. Kleiner is also affectionately nicknamed "Izzy" by Eli on various occasions. When the Borealis issue is raised, they are both opposed to each other views, Kleiner suggesting they used the technology for the Resistance, Eli insisting that it be destroyed at all costs.

Judith Mossman[edit]

Judith and Eli in Breen's office.

Judith and Eli have a somewhat ambiguous relationship. At Black Mesa East, Judith seems fully devoted to Eli. During the confrontation with Breen in the Citadel, it is learned that Mossman had bargained for Eli's life, so he could continue his research. When she realizes Breen changes the plans and will have both Eli and Alyx killed instead while he tries to win Gordon's allegiance, she has a change of heart and saves the trio. After Alyx and Gordon leave Breen's office to pursue the latter, Mossman stays with Eli, telling him she won't leave him again, as they stay sitting on the ground, appearing very close. When later it is learned that Mossman is in danger after having discovered the Borealis, Eli blames himself for the situation, stating he should never have let her go. There is probably more than meets the eye between the two, but Eli died before they could reunite, thus halting the revelation of new clues about their relationship, although Mossman's reaction to Eli's death might be revealed later.

Wallace Breen[edit]

Breen, Eli's former boss at Black Mesa, 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 should not "get [her] father started" on the subject of Dr. Breen. 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 kill him and Alyx, "if that's the worst [he] can do."

Personality and skills[edit]

Eli is warm, good-humored, and charismatic, holding everyone around him in the aura of his personal charm.[7] A skilled scientist, he designed the Gravity Gun and Dog, "put together" the Shorepoint Scout Car with his daughter (and added himself the Tau Cannon to it), and was able to rebuild a teleport with the aid of the other key Resistance members.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Scientist model, third variant.
  • Eli is essentially the African American scientist model ("scientist03", or "Luther") from Half-Life turned into a real character.
  • Eli's face was based on that of a local man who was holding a sign indicating that he was looking for work, found on the Seattle streets by Valve employees.[4] Within the Half-Life community, this man is often improperly credited as Larry "The Count" Heard, a musician actually used as the reference for the "Male 3" Citizen. Eli's reference model is actually uncredited.
  • Eli Vance stems from two merged characters, Eli and Captain Vance. Eli was to be a scientist unrelated to Alyx and fill the same role as Eli in Black Mesa East, already building the Gravity Gun and owning Dog. Captain Vance, Alyx's father, was to be one of the few surviving military leaders of Earth, and the leader of the Conscripts.
  • "Eli" is a Hebrew name meaning "ascension". In the Old Testament, Eli was the high priest of Israel and the teacher of Samuel. In England, "Eli" has been used as a Christian given name since the Protestant Reformation.[12]
  • According to Valve's Bill Van Buren, the decision to kill Eli was not made lightly. Once they made it, they had to figure out how to make it meaningful. They had already established Eli's frailty, as well as his importance to the Resistance and Alyx's devotion to him, so from a narrative point of view the impact of his death seemed obvious. The hard part for the team was the execution of the death scene. The Advisors' ability to immobilize the player gave them a way to stage it, the animations and the sound design made it believable, but the performances by Merle Dandridge and Robert Guillaume were the key element. Bill Fletcher gives further details: to create the sequence, the team talked it through in great detail, wrote up an outline with all the events they had discussed, and then produced an animatic. They used rough sketches painted over screenshots, and a variety of crude special effects and sounds to create a quick pre-visualization of how the scene would play out. Not only did this help them to converge on a shared vision for the scene, but by working rough, they were able to quickly iterate until they had a design worth implementing in the game.[13]
  • The loss of the leg was originally to be mentioned by Eli in his lab,[10] but was ultimately cut, to be only mentioned in Raising the Bar and the Half-Life 2 Prima Guide. Early sound files found in the Half-Life 2 leak files indicate that he was to lose his leg to a Particle Storm.[10]
  • A model meant for an imprisoned version of Eli, eli_podbody.mdl, was created at some point during development. It is mentioned in the game code[14] and files.[15] The model was leaked in 2023, showing unfinished textures for a stripped Eli with various Combine devices latched onto his skin.
  • Concept art for Episode Three features Alyx wearing Eli's jacket and Harvard sweater.
  • On the release of Half-Life: Alyx, the recreation of Episode Two's ending incorrectly depicted Eli wearing his Harvard University sweater which he only wore during the events of Half-Life 2 and Episode One. In the game's May 15, 2020 update, the sweater's texture was updated to correctly reflect its blank Episode Two appearance. However, Eli's wedding ring is still missing.



Half-Life 2[edit]



Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

Half-Life 2: Episode Three[edit]


Half-Life: Alyx[edit]



List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]


See also[edit]


Eli Vance
Combine OverWiki has a list of quotes for Eli Vance.