ATB’s Top 25 Female Characters: (22) Chell


“This next test is very dangerous. To help you remain tranquil in the face of almost certain death, smooth jazz will be deployed, in three, two, one. “

This is our list of the top 25 female characters of all-time.We’re counting down one by one until we reach the best of the best on Sept. 30.

22) Chell (Portal) – 3 votes/88 points

Shaun: What’s brilliant about Chell is that despite the fact that she doesn’t speak, you instantly grow connected to her thanks to the story telling devices imposed by the game’s creators – from the game’s opening moments, you create a camaraderie with the silent protagonist because you’re both trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. Immediately, I’m on this girl’s team (which took me a while to even realize who I was, until I saw my own reflection through a portal).

From there, this bond is only strengthened as she and I tried to decipher the maze that is Aperture Science, and break out of this experiment gone wrong, despite seeing nothing but oppressively immaculate white walls and the aggressively robotic jesting of our master/test proctor/antagonist GLaDOS.

The game takes about five to six hours to complete, but even then, Chell runs the full scale of emotion and character traits. Resolve. Intuition. Focus. Intelligence. Love. Regret. And most of all, disobedience. Chell refuses to let the world around her dictate her fate, which makes her extremely compelling, and forges a remarkably strong connection with the player.

Developers, let this be a lesson to you. You don’t need fancy dialogue or expensive motion capture technology to garner an emotion investment from the player in your characters. You just have to make them human, and put them in situations where their actions do the talking for them.

Chris: I’m most intrigued by Chell because of the adversity she has to go through. If you discovered that you were trapped in some kind of puzzle-solving hell with a robot that constantly wanted to make fun of you, with death and destruction around every corner, and a strange portal gun that breaks the very fabric of your reality, you would have some problems. I certainly would.

Chell pushes ahead simply because she refuses to die. And she displays tremendous intelligence along the way, mastering the portal gun that she discovered with relative ease. From there, it’s just a matter of getting past obstacles. Rogue turrets talking crap to you in high-pitched voices? Put them into the incinerator! GLaDOS got you down, talking about how no one loved you and your parents are dead and there’s imaginary cake? Go shut her down! There’s no time for any nonsense.

Chell ends up being a different kind of silent protagonist than the one you usually see in RPGs, but the idea is still the same. By being a blank slate, she gives the player the ability to read between the lines and really discover the character.

Joseph: When I wake up, it takes me five to 10 minutes to get going. Turn off my alarm, get breakfast, etc. When Chell woke up, she was immediately thrust into hell that is Aperture Sciences. During her stay, she has to deal with not one, but two rogue AI units who just seem to want her dead. Luckily, she got the portal gun to help her, but that was just a tool. Like a screwdriver for a car, we cannot praise the portal gun for Chell’s escape. It was how she used the gun that mattered. She solved intense puzzles and lost so many companions. But in the end, she was stronger for it. One day, I hope she gets a cake that is neither fraudulent nor forthright. Just delicious.

Jason: Chell may not say a lot (see: nothing) but that doesn’t stop her from somehow being a surprisingly interesting character none the less. Especially when you look at her from a “actions speak louder than words” standpoint. The girls gets things done.

Trapped in a laboratory death maze? Time to solve it.

Threatened with death by a sarcastic evil robot? Throw her pieces into a fire.

Accidentally supplant another evil robot into running the laboratory death maze? Work with the first evil robot to overthrow the second one and chuck his pieces into space.

Chell might not have a last name or even a single line of dialogue; but that doesn’t stop her from being a hardcore badass. Having a gun that shoots portals and shoes that let you fall any distance also help…

Cary: I don’t think Chell’s significance really resonated with me until Portal 2. In the first game, I rarely thought of the person holding the portal gun as I was just too enamored of the puzzles, not to mention GLaDOS and her…ways. But in Portal 2 she became the hub of the story, friend and enemy, traitor and savior, all in one. I’m glad they didn’t replace her with a brand new character. The second game just wouldn’t have been the same.


(23) Tali’Zorah vas Normandy

(24) Tear Grants

(25)  Liara T’Soni




Introduction/Honorable Mention


(1) Link

(2) Phoenix Wright

(3) Riku

(4) Zidane Tribal

(5) Garrus Vakarian

(6) John Marston

(7) Commander Shepard

(8) Yuri Lowell

(9) Lee Everett

(10) Kratos Aurion

(11) Mordin Solus

(12) Yu Narukami

(13) Bigby Wolf

(14) Auron

(15) Solid Snake

(16) Conker T. Squirrel

(17) Yoshi

(18) Red

(19) Ganondorf

(20) Kefka Palazzo

(21) Crono

(22) Alistair

(23) Mike Haggar

(24) Miles Edgeworth

(25) The Lone Wanderer




Honorable Mention


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