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Top Portal & Portal 2 Memes

Updated on February 26, 2013

A guide to the most famous and funny internet memes from Portal and Portal 2

Are you looking for a guide to the best Portal and Portal 2 memes? Portal and Portal 2 memes have seeped into the internet, and are some of the funniest memes around - the most insidious. Even if you've never heard of Portal, you've probably had someone tell you that the cake is a lie!

Cake, potatoes, and lemons are all very serious foodstuffs, sure, but why are they so important? And what the heck is a companion cube, or a turret? And why should anyone care that you are still alive? The Portal games are the reason that all these things are memes.

Portal (2007) is an awesome game that has become part of gamer consciousness since it was released - whether you've had a computer capable of playing it or not. Portal 2 (2011) basically took over the internet when it was released, with Google searches rivalling the number of searches for the Royal Wedding! A meme is a 'unit' of memory that spreads like a virus socially - it can be an action, a quote, a picture... And the Portal series has created several good ones.

While it is inherently funny, in a random mad science way, it's also clever. Most of the really good memes associated only work well if you know the context - the subtle psychology, GLaDOS' mind games, the moral and factual confusion of Portal itself.

Even after Portal 2, we still don't actually know if GLaDOS was really trying to kill Chell.

WARNING: There are SPOILERS AHEAD

Have You Played Portal or Portal 2 yet?

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Which game gave us the best memes? Portal or Portal 2?

A portrait of Cave Johnson - with a lemon coloured background...
A portrait of Cave Johnson - with a lemon coloured background...

The Lemons Rant

A rant from Cave Johnson, who doesn't believe in accepting life's lemons

Cave Johnson's lemons rant became an instant internet hit. I hope it becomes the new Rickroll.

Context: Cave Johnson is the CEO of Aperture Science and he likes to get involved... so, he had himself recorded giving out the welcome spiel and testing instructions. During the course of this he mentions he is dying because he handled the (apparently) poisonous deadly moon rocks used in making Repulsion Gel. His official biography previously blamed mercury poisoning, after he tried to make murderous shower curtains for the Navy suppliers who chose not to buy his shower curtains.

Anyway, he mentions he's dying and quotes the old phrase "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Later on, however, he says actually, he's been thinking, and then comes...

TF2: Cave Johnson

Combustible Lemons Launcher

 by ~forte-girl7 on deviantART

The Lemons Rant Transcript.

When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take back the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons! What the hell are these?! Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that BURNS YOUR HOUSE DOWN!

Choice highlight quotes to use in conversation:

  • Make life take the lemons back! 
  • Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons!
  • I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! WITH THE LEMONS! 

Bonus: GLaDOS' commentary.

  • "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Don't take the lemons! Yeah! Oh, I like this guy! Yeah! BURN HIS HOUSE DOWN! Burning people! He says what we're all thinking!"

As the credits roll, GLaDOS starts filing her report...
As the credits roll, GLaDOS starts filing her report...

Still Alive

The credits song from the original Portal

The awesomeness that was the original Portal was capped off at the end with one of the greatest soundtracks - let alone Gaming songs - of all time. Still Alive by Jonathon Coulton, sung by GLaDOS herself.

It is both a good song in itself, funny, clever and haunting - but in the wider context of Portal, it takes on meaning. For example, who the singer is, the references to cake, testing on the people still alive (I mean - are there even any other people?).

While true fans can sing the lyrics entire, the main meme comes from the title and repeated threat/promise/boast of the two words... "still alive".

And they were also a promise of more - sure, you won. You killed GLaDOS. But now it seems she's writing up a report? Was it all part of the plan, or did she really just improvise her way into forcing you to fight back? Did she intend to die? Was there going to be a second game?

Essentially, there are three possibilities: Is it a hauntingly creepy song from beyond the grave, or is GLaDOS simply watching you from a BIGGER test chamber (so to speak), now plotting new tests? Or was it all real, in the end, and she managed to escape and is now plotting vengeance instead?

As is now known from Portal 2, she did survive, but barely, and was trapped in a loop sequence of her death for the next few centuries. She is indeed still alive, and boy, is Chell in trouble.

How to use:

  • Simply works the words 'still alive' naturally into a sentence.

  • Create a parody of the song

    Or use a longer quote:

  • This was a triumph

  • There's science to do
  • I'm making a note here:HUGE SUCCESS

Portal 2 has at least three songs associated with it so far: two official and this fan-created one, by far the most awesome of the lot - Wheatley's Song.

The Cake is a Lie - False promises of real rewards to motivate the test subject.

the cake is a lie. the cake is a lie. the cake is a lie. the cake is a lie - Graffiti left by Doug Rattman in Portal
the cake is a lie. the cake is a lie. the cake is a lie. the cake is a lie - Graffiti left by Doug Rattman in Portal

The Cake is a major feature of the first Portal game, notable mostly by its absence. Throughout the game, the player is constantly promised cake - and then threatened by the fact that others are eating it "...and all the cake is gone". However, on the walls you see graffiti left by previous players warning you that 'the cake is a lie'. And yet... no other test subject has ever completed the test. Perhaps it is impossible to survive, and so GLaDOS can safely promise cake - perhaps they gave up hope or went mad? Perhaps they chose to believe there was no cake in order to try and escape GLaDOS?

The cake is used as a motivator for Chell to behave and to do well - but becomes increasingly less useful as GLaDOS tries to kill you. This means GLaDOS belabours the wonderful cake that is awaiting you even more, to the point where it reaches almost mystical importance.

The Cake has become a symbol of false promises, a sort of 'straw man' reward that isn't necessarily useful or wanted, but offered anyway - and not to be trusted.

  • GLaDOS Quotes about the Cake
  • Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test.

Cake Recipe

During the boss battle with GLaDOS, one of her cores will recite a long list of ingredients, which make up the recipe for the cake (with a few... extras.) There is also an Easter Egg of a large monitor, with the recipe scrolling on it (among various bits of code). This does actually make a real cake, something like a Black Forest cake.

1 (18.25 oz) package chocolate cake mix

1 can prepared coconut frosting

3/4 cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

2/3 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cups cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cups water

1 to 2 (6 oz each) vanilla frosting

Don't forget garnishes, such as:

fish shaped crackers

fish shaped candies

fish shaped dirt

fish shaped solid waste

fish shaped ethyl benzene

pull and peel licorice

fish shaped volatile organic compounds

sediment shaped sediment

a 20-foot thick impermeable clay layer

The Cake is ...not a lie.  The delicious and moist cake from the ending of Portal
The Cake is ...not a lie. The delicious and moist cake from the ending of Portal

Cake Credits Easter Egg Scene

As she 'dies', GLaDOS cries "There reeeaaaallly waas a caake!"

And later, as the game ends, there's an Easter egg scene of a store room somewhere, apparently abandoned, with an anormous chocolate cake sitting on a table.

As part of the general multilayered deception that is GLaDOS, it's possible she did intend to give you the cake. Or that she was supposed to, and the same cake had been sitting in a storage room going solid with age. The bonus appearance of cake in the trailer also features the Companion Cube, which... was allegedly destroyed, but was apparently still alive after all. Or perhaps they were just props to make a nice related ending scene. Who knows?

The Cake is A Lie in Portal 2

In Portal 2, there is no graffiti and no cake. Valve wanted to make new memes rather than recycle the old ones. They did refer to it, though...

Near the end of the testing chambers, you reach a room with a door. A real door, which is a little unusual in the slick high tech architecture of Aperture Laboratories. And on the door, it says "

Try and open it, and you will discover it is a false offering! (I.e. A Lie) And then the room becomes a trap, while GLaDOS mocks you for falling for such an old promise.

Also starting to gain popularity is The deer is a lie - which is basically the same meme, just updated to include a direct reference to Portal 2 (when Wheatley tells you that there is a deer. Obviously there isn't).

How to use:

  • Simply say "the Cake is a lie" randomly, whenever cake is mentioned, or as a paranoic commentary on the likelihood of ever getting a reward - or Lies! (Whenever the word 'cake' appears)

  • Describe something as being 'So delicious and moist' [description of the cake during the song Still Alive]

  • Compare how much you care about something to cake (implying that cake is the ultimate reward)

  • Make a REAL cake

  • Talk about it in real life

    • Inverted:
    •  

  • The cake is truth
  • The cake is not a lie
  • There really was a cake.

To all appearances, the Different Turret is just another turret.
To all appearances, the Different Turret is just another turret.

The Different Turret

It's a Turret, but it's different.

Portal players have a twisted affection for Turrets. In-game, they are extensions of GLaDOs, spies, minions of evil to be exploded, dropped and crushed at every opportunity before they seek you out with laser guided bullets.

Out of game, they are sympathised with - helplessly  weaponised innocents, controlled by an insane AI. This is enhanced by their childlike voices, as they call out "HELlooo", apologise for hurting you, and scream pitifully as they are destroyed. They get a lot more dialogue in Portal 2, especially when you find the production line and the defective turrets. The defective turrets have a much wider range of personalities, from friendly to pitiful, to... well. Insane and destructive. And then, there's the Different Turret.

The Different Turret is just one of many on the disassembly line, and players may careless destroy it in passing before they realise. But if you pay attention you'll hear a plaintive

"I'm different..."

The Different Turret is a pacifist, and if you carry it away it will thank you for being rescued and spout random semi-prophetic facts and trivia related to the wider history and setting of the game, and some of the future storyline. There's an in-game Achievement called No Hard Feelings for rescuing it.

My Bonus Conspiracy Theory

Memes are like mental viruses. Turrets look like a stereotypical virus. Turrets were designed to spread Portalness through the internet!

Get Your Own Portal Turret: Sentry Turret Toys and T-shirts
From giant inflatables to tiny collectibles, you can order your own turret army in all sizes. My favourite is the talking plush Turret, for its compact cuddl...

The Different Turret on the Turret Redemption Line

The Different Turret on the Turret Redemption Line
The Different Turret on the Turret Redemption Line

Meme Usage

Usually just a straightforward quote.

  • I'm different...

Interactive Talking Plus Portal Turret

The Space Core is in SPACE
The Space Core is in SPACE

SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE

The Space Core. It's obsessed with getting into space.

The Aperture Science AIs are composed of 'cores' - each with a distinct function and personality. In Portal 2, attaching various corrupted cores disables Wheatley, and one of these is the Space Core. The poor thing has spent its entire existence waiting to get into space and perform the functions for which it was designed, so by this point it has a pretty one track mind.

He's voiced by Nolan North.

Memeage

Simply throw in one of the Space Core's most spaced out quotes, such as:

  • SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE

  • Gonna be in space. Gonna be in space.

  • just because i can't respond to my emails, doesn't mean I can't EAT them

  • Hey.

Hey.

Hey!

Hey! Lady!

Lady!

Guess what?

Space.

Dad, are you space?

GLaDOS and Chell meet again - only this time, GLaDOS is a potato.
GLaDOS and Chell meet again - only this time, GLaDOS is a potato.

I'M A POTATO

GLaDOS gets a downgrade and isn't happy about it

Short and snappy, it has the same syllable pattern as 'The Cake as a Lie' (Conspiracy theorists, start your engines!), and has the same potential to be shouted out randomly for no apparent reason. In fact - yes, in fact I do believe it is even MORE random! Because GLaDOS herself yells it, it inspires further anguished angry wails of 'LOOK WHAT HAPPENED' with an undercurrent of 'This is your fault. Somehow.'

Context: GLaDOS' CPU unit (or equivalent) has been plugged into... yes. A potato. As an act of vengeance, cruelty -and possibly even accidental practicality - by Wheatley. There is a little bit of starch-based energy in a potato, but very little.

Wheatley has a temper tantrum when GLaDOS tells him he was actually designed to be a moron in order to control her (allegedly) and smashes the floor up. Chell and GLaDOS-the-Potato end up falling rather a long way, during which GLaDOS says Hi. How are you? Because I'M A POTATO.

Other potato appearances:

  • a little tour around some ancient children's science projects (including a picture by Chell) includes a potato one

  • Potatoes were a theme of Portal 2 release stunts such as the Valve PotatoFoolsDay ARG (the Potato Sack Pack)

The Weighted Companion Cube

It will never stab you nor threaten you. And yet you murdered it.

More than just a character, the mute and beloved Weighted Companion Cube from Portal became a meme in its own right. And, in fact, a Trope as well - the 'Trope' of treating a completely inanimate object as a character with feelings and personality. Something that GLaDOS herself warns you against...

  • "The symptoms most commonly produced by Enrichment Center testing are superstition, perceiving inanimate objects as alive, and hallucinations.

During the game, as part of learning how to use the Cubes to solve tests, you are introduced to a Cube that is different. It is a Companion Cube, it is your friend and it cares about you. You have to safely escort it through another test chamber - and then you must destroy it. No, not destroy - euthanize. A word that applies to living beings.

It is much beloved by the test subjects - and the subject of two graffiti parody poems "...The cube had food and maybe ammo.

And immortality" and "Though earth and man are gone, I thought the cube would last forever. I was WRONG." It is also a hallucinatory friend to Doug Rattman in the Portal 2 prelude comic Lab Rat.

How to perpetuate this meme

  • Quote/ misquote directly from one of GLaDOS' speeches about the Cube, or work in one of the main themes below.

  • Create a real Companion Cube drawing, cake, toy, paper model or other craft item. (Check out How to Make Your Own Companion Cube).

  • The main 'themes' of the Weighted Companion Cube are:
    • It cannot speak

    • It cannot harm you

    • It will never threaten to stab you

    • You should always disregard its advice (except that you know GLaDOS is lying, so the cube is your friend, so you should actually LISTEN to its advice. Probably)

    • It requires a companion

    • You murdered it
  • Companion Cube Quotes
    • The Enrichment Center reminds you that the Companion Cube cannot speak. In the event that the Companion Cube does speak, the Enrichment Center urges you to disregard its advice.

    • While it has been a faithful companion, your companion cube cannot accompany you through the rest of the test. If it could talk - and the Enrichment Center takes this opportunity to remind you that it cannot - it would tell you to go on without it because it would rather die in a fire than become a burden to you

    • There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him

For Science. You Monster - GLaDOS is dedicated to Science, and will graciously almost forgive Chell for defending herself against GLaDOS trying to viciously mur

GLaDOS and Chell meet again in Portal 2. Unfortunately, GLaDOS remembers her...
GLaDOS and Chell meet again in Portal 2. Unfortunately, GLaDOS remembers her...

"Look, we both said a lot of things that you're going to regret. But I think we can put our differences behind us. For science... you monster." - GLaDOS, to Chell

Meme Usage:

 Generally, just throw out part of the quote, depending on the discussion. For Science implies a bit of mad science, or 'we'll do what we must because we can'-ness, and has actually been around awhile.

You monster is just deadpan funny to those who remember GLaDOS saying it, and the fact that she was trying to kill the person she was saying it to. Works best when added completely off-handedly.

  • You Monster
  • For Science

Listen to the end...

Now You're Thinking With... LOLCats
Now You're Thinking With... LOLCats

Now You're Thinking With Portals!

A general catchphrase of Aperture Science

This reflects a necessary mental 'twist' - you need to learn to think about, with, and of Portals to get through the game and until you can grasp the concepts, you'll get nowhere.

It's not exactly a meme, and it's not hugely funny or clever, but it is representative of Aperture Science itself - which IS hugely funny and clever.

How To Use

  • Work the phrase 'Thinking With Portals' into a title or discussion. It's most commonly used as a recognisable 'we are all awesome Aperture Science people here' title.
  • Use as a caption to an image that appears to have Portals in it somehow

Now You're Thinking With Portals

Now you're thinking with Portals... to pour your coffee!
Now you're thinking with Portals... to pour your coffee!

A classic example of this meme (source unknown).

Which of the original Portal memes is the best?

Which is the Best Original Portal Meme?

See results

Which Is the Greatest Portal 2 Meme? - Do you have a favourite?

Which of the memes from Portal 2 is the best?

See results

The Portal Games

Comments

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    • Masterdevin123 profile image

      Masterdevin123 5 years ago

      Very awesome lens, Loved it

    • ilike2create profile image

      ilike2create 5 years ago

      I finished playing Portal last weekend and am playing Portal 2. I can not get the things here out of my head right now because I like them and they are so funny. Great lens!

    • RandomChuck profile image

      RandomChuck 6 years ago

      Sweet lens. "Lemonades" Lol

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 6 years ago

      Love the Portal credit song, heard on loop during a summer vacation right after the game came out. Great memory and such a cool game.

    • toldyaso lm profile image

      toldyaso lm 6 years ago

      I love, love, LOVE the turrets. They are so frickin' cute. "Could you come over here?" Sure, that sounds like a logical request coming from something that wants to gun me down! lol

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