At the start of Portal 2, it's clear that time has passed. You've been woken up every few months for physical and mental fitness tests, until something goes wrong and you're left in stasis for much longer. How long is Chell, your character, in stasis? How much time has passed between the end of Portal and the start of Portal 2?


7 Answers 7


Assuming the announcer was reciting the number of days you had been in stasis, as with your earlier 50-day wake up call, "it has been 9 9 9 9 9..9 9...[static]", it has been at least 273 years, or 27,300 assuming the pause wasn't a broken-record effect.

In "The Final Hours of Portal 2" e-book, Keighley mentions that:

One way to further differentiate Portal and Half-Life was to set the game far in the future—at least 50,000 years.

It doesn't explicitly say that Portal 2 was set in 52,000 AD, but the general point was that the events between the two series are so distant from one another as to not interfere.

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    All sites mention "hundred of years" as the time being in statis, so 273 years is most likely to be the answer as to how long Chell has been in statis. She most likely was put there after the explosion of Aperture Science in Portal 1, so it could most likely also be the amount of time passed between Portal 1 and Portal 2... Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 19:26
  • 24
    I also doubt that the facility would still exist after not being maintained for 27,300 years, unless "the laws of physics no longer apply in the future".
    – user56
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 22:36
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    They altered the ending to Portal as part of a Portal 2 related update probably about a year ago.
    – indyK1ng
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 1:12
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    @jmlump, @Eric, an update to Portal made along with the addition of the radios tweaked the ending by having an android thank you for assuming the Party Escort Submission Position and drag you away while laying on the ground.
    – Nick T
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 1:14
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    the 9's where more than likely a computing placeholder. its common for a timer to revert to max # when there is an error. its like a fail-safe, or something to show you that it is broken, really common in digital clocks. un-plug it, then plug it back in and its 12:00, the highest time on the 12 hour clock. military digital clocks revert to 24:00 when un-plugged then plugged back in.. and by the way, its impossible for 273 years , much less 27,300, years to have had passed due to the fact that humans die within 114 years.
    – user17656
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 3:36

No exact number has been stated that I'm aware of. All we know is that "hundreds of years" have passed between the end of Portal 1 and the beginning of Portal 2.

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    @Juan - Unless the timer simply caps out at a given number of nines and stays there rather than rolling over, in which case it could have been any length of time. MILLIONS OF YEARS. D:
    – Shinrai
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 16:57
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    @Shinrai, You would think that Aperture Science would have enough foresight to fix the y9.999...k bug.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 19:34
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    I assumed that the count of "9 9 9 9 9..." was intentionally meant to indicate that the counter reached its upper limit and didn't roll over. From a storytelling perspective an unknown but large amount of time having passed is dramatically better than a large but precisely known amount of time. Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 20:16
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    Hey, at least the programmer protected against an integer overflow. How would you like to hear that you were in stasis for a negative amount of time? Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 7:09
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    @JonathanHobbs obviously Cave Johnson had his scientists develop a decimal computer, resulting in a 999999 overflow.
    – kotekzot
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 14:58

In an unused GLaDOS voice line she states that:

Fifty thousand years is a lot of time to think. About me. About you. We were doing so well together. Source

Referring respectively to herself and the protagonist Chell.

  • That message is more likely from co-op, where (as the site you link to also shows) GLaDOS mentions those 50k years.
    – Zommuter
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 12:36
  • I disagree with zommuter. There's no reason for her "about you" if she's talking to the robots, right? Why would she have even given them a passing thought in fifty thousand years?
    – codetaku
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 12:22
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    @codetaku: (Spoilers) As part of the bonus chapter in the co-op missions, GLaDOS pretends that it's been 50,000 years since you found the humans at the end of the regular missions, but a few levels in and she admits that that was a lie and it's only been a week.
    – Pyritie
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 8:56

According to the Combine Overwiki, the appearance of wood, paper and upholstery would suggest decades rather than years. Portal took place roughly around the same time as the Combine Invasion of Earth (just after Half-Life [estimated to be 2003]]), Chell was the placed in stasis for presumably approximately 27 years and woken up presumably approximately 2029/2030.

2003: Half-Life, Portal.

2029/2030: Half-Life 2 (and Episodes), Portal 2.

These dates are estimations using information from the Combine Overwiki. The 2003 info is taken from a December calander in Half-Life (Office Complex) and the date is either 2003 or 2008. The 27 years info is taken from the Overwiki, in-game evidence and fan information.

  • Why does the appearance of wood/paper/upholstery suggest decades versus years? Did you mean to say that the fact they were still around and hadn't decayed or rotted suggested a shorter time-period? In any case, if kept in good conditions, or at least stable (e.g. underground) the shelf life of most of those products should be fairly long.
    – Nick T
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 3:20
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    @NickT Decades are longer, not shorter than years.
    – user56
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 9:51

I think 9 years because the Aperture Labs are near the Great Lakes and way below the water table. Also the labs are nuclear powered and if it was longer, Chell would be dead. Half-Life 2 is also taking place after the time Portal 2 is, so these are my reasons.

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    What's the evidence for your last sentence? Absolutely nothing?
    – codetaku
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 12:25

I believe that it was somewhere around 30,000 years in the future.

A. Paper, wood, upholstery? This is Aperture Science! It would be no surprise to me if they were created to last. They obviously prepared for the apocalypse and extreme periods of time (announcer recordings referring to the future: "If the laws of physics no longer apply in the future then god help you" or "...when society has rebuilt itself").

B. I like to think of the 9,999,999 days in a comical way: Wheatley, being the impressively engineered moron that he is notices that there are an awful lot of nines scrolling on the monitor and realizes what his job originally was. He then decides to wake you (remember that the last time you checked everyone looked pretty much alive).

C. Even for 27 years I doubt that there would be so many plants all over the facility. Despite the super potato growth that little Chell presented on that fateful bring your daughter to work day (which is the perfect time to have her tested).

D. Hundreds of years is always mentioned everywhere, but unless 9,999,999 is a broken overflow timer it would seem unlikely that it was 273 years versus 27,300. In all reality it was probably longer than that.

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    Complete and utter speculation.
    – GnomeSlice
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 14:40

I think it is 27 years, as 27 years is enough time for the facility to get into the condition it was in at the begginning, yet if it were any longer, well, I doubt anything would be functional.

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    And you're basing this estimate on... what, exactly? Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 11:43
  • This is pure speculation, with no basis.
    – Frank
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 12:29

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