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Eli (early character)

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Cut.png The contents of this article have been cut.

The subject matter of this article contains in-development information that was cut from the final version of an official and/or canonical source and appears in no other canonical source. It may also contain incomplete information since not all cut material is publicly known.

This article is about the early character. For his successor, see Eli Vance.

03 Vance+Vance-2.png
Biographical information


Function(s) / Belongings

Walking stick[1]





Hair color


Eye color

Blue[1] (with glasses)

Chronological and political information

Combine occupation


The Resistance

Game information
Voice sample(s)

Older version:

Younger version:

"First storm I saw, I made the mistake of stoppin' to study it. That's... how I lost my leg."
― Eli[src]

Eli,[2][4] also nicknamed the Junkman,[1] is a character created early in the development of Half-Life 2 who eventually evolved into the character of Eli Vance.


Eli's original placement in the Half-Life 2 storyline.

One of the first characters confirmed in Half-Life 2's development,[4] Eli originally had no familial relation with Alyx Vance, although the two were still said to have a close bond.[2] Alyx's father was originally a military man known as Captain Vance, leader of the Resistance fighters stationed at the Air Exchange,[2] while Eli was a skilled and resourceful mechanic residing in the vast junk-strewn Scrapyard on the far fringes of City 17.[5][6] He is described as an old man, once tall but now slumped over in a frame that's wasting away, bearded and cheeks scarred, with a deep and commanding voice who wears tattered mechanic coveralls slung with utility belts, the pouches filled with tools and salvaged components, and utilizing a long piece of black steel fashioned with electronics and mechanical buttons as a walking stick. He is accompanied at his camp by Dog, an immense robot that had fallen into a state of disrepair which he now manages.[1]

In one initial version of the game's storyline, Gordon would have traveled through Ravenholm and be directed by Father Grigori towards Eli's junkyard, a relatively safe haven on the edge of the Antlion-filled Wasteland which it's said that few ever managed to survive getting through.[6][7] Upon arriving at the junkyard, it's suggested that Eli is responsible for providing the player with the physics manipulator weapon (an early version of the Gravity Gun).[2] From here, Gordon would continue traveling through the Wasteland by train on his way to joining Captain Vance at the Air Exchange, meeting Alyx along the way.[6]

Eli is featured in two story vignettes written by Marc Laidlaw. In the first, Scrapland, Gordon makes his way to the Scraplands where he stumbles into a man-made trap inside a van. He is first confronted by the hostile mech Dog before it's called off by its owner. A man steps out and introduces himself as Eli, also called the Junkman, and states he already knows who Gordon is. He invites Gordon into his den, a makeshift domicile built into the earth, where he shows him a looping broadcast in which the Consul urges citizens to turn Gordon over to the Combine.[1] In the second short story, known as The Slideshow Briefing, Eli was to present a slideshow to Gordon which would have expounded on the intervening time between Half-Life and the sequel as well as establish the current rule of the Combine empire, their devastating effects on the world's atmosphere as a result of the Air Exchange and other natural resource depletion, and the Consul's rise to power.[8]

He is depicted in two pieces of early concept art in the book Raising the Bar, both illustrated by Valve artist Dhabih Eng.[a] The first concept sketch shows Eli handing over the prototype physics manipulator while a vague silhouette of Dog stands behind him. Here, he's seen sporting a white beard and wearing Windsor glasses, a black beanie, and a dark work apron,[2] the overall outfit greatly resembling the early citizen model at this stage of the game's production. A second concept, known to have been illustrated during the first year of development, is a group pose featuring Eli alongside Gordon, Alyx, her pet alien Skitch, and another vague silhouette of Dog once again towering over them in the background. In this image, Eli is using his walking stick and lacks the beanie.[3]

In the files of the Half-Life 2 leak, temporary voice lines pertaining to this iteration of the character are present. Located in the folder sound/temp/Eli/, near where placeholder voices for Alyx and other test sounds may be found, these seven lines for Eli feature two different actors, both uncredited, which are split into two groups: files prefixed with Maxwell1 for the older voice and the rest named Maxwell2 for the younger voice. These two actors performed the same dialogue which warns the player of the existence of dangerous Particle Storms out in the wild. Describing how these seemingly sentient electrical disturbances are capable of decimating entire squads of soldiers, Eli also reveals that he lost his leg attempting to study one of these storms, yet still believing that communication with these phenomena may be possible with the hope of gaining them as a powerful ally.[11] In the WC map pack, the Maxwell1 lines are referenced in the test map ken/eli.vmf, dated April 10, 2001,[12] indicating they were recorded very early in the development process.

Regarding these lines, of note is that the name used for these sound files, "Maxwell", lacks any given explanation. It has often been assumed by fans to be the last name of the character, thus inventing the full name "Eli Maxwell". However, this fan-made name has never been used in any official source as the early character has only ever been referred to simply as "Eli". The name "Maxwell" has never appeared outside of these filenames in the leak.

Also in the WC map pack are prototype maps for Eli's camp under the names proto_eliden003 (last edited August 22, 2001) and the later, more refined proto_eliden (last edited January 8, 2002). These depict a very basic, primitive underground lair full of scrapped vehicles, such as a school bus, and other junk and machinery scattered around the space.[12] An early concept for Eli's lair had it situated beneath an overturned ship, while another had it drilled deep into rock with hanging gardens and underground wells. The prevailing intention for this location that lasted throughout the development cycle was that it should feel like a place of safety, a warm and friendly oasis in the midst of a harsh environment.[13]


The notion of Eli being the father of Alyx did not occur until very late into Half-Life 2's production. Series writer Marc Laidlaw had posed the idea to the rest of the development team early on, but they rejected the prospect at the time. Laidlaw kept this possibility in mind, and when posing the same idea again at a later point, the team was then receptive to it.[4] When the Air Exchange location was cut from the game, so too was the character and Alyx's original father Captain Vance edited out of the storyline,[2] leading the character of Eli to become Eli Vance. This revision tightened up the core cast of characters and allowed the story to flow better.[2][4]

Several known elements of the early incarnation of Eli carried over into the finished product. Eli's makeshift den became Black Mesa East, and the character having lost a leg was retained for his final portrayal, albeit the reasoning changed to instead be due to a Bullsquid rather than a Particle Storm.[9]

In Half-Life: Alyx, the younger depiction of Eli Vance seen in the game wears a black beanie similar in style to the one worn in the concept art by the early version of Eli.


List of appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Another character, one wearing an eyepatch over his left eye, in a third piece of concept art by Dhabih Eng in Raising the Bar is also identified by the image's caption as "Doctor Eli Vance".[9] However, this has been determined to be an error as it is apparent this character's appearance actually matches the description of Dr. Kleiner from Marc Laidlaw's vignette Old Friends.[10]


Eli (early character)
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