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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 enemy. For the weapon, see Barnacle Grapple.

Barnacle versions.jpg
General information




Blood color
Individual information
  • 25 (HL)
  • 35[1] (HL2)
  • Crushing bite (10 per second, attacks repeatedly)[1]
  • Tongue (strangulation and neck breaking)
Game information
  • monster_barnacle (HL)
  • npc_barnacle (HL2)

Barnacles, also referred to as Parasitics in Combine terminology, are alien creatures featured in the Half-Life series.


Barnacles are stationary carnivorous alien creatures with limited intelligence.[1] They typically hang in clusters and use dark places to surprise their prey, usually around a blind corner. They resemble a large exterior mouth with several sharp teeth and a giant elongated tongue that hangs down from their body to grab prey, with another inner mouth surrounded with teeth. Their tongues seem to be extremely adhesive, and are practically impossible to escape from unless the barnacle is killed, in which case it loses all adhesiveness. They appear to have several eyes around the non-mouth end of their body, and they occasionally regurgitate pieces of recently consumed prey while idle. When killed, they empty their stomach contents, vomiting and occasionally dropping an array of partially digested body parts as their tongue retracts some distance and their inner mouth hangs out from their outer mouth. Barnacles appear to reproduce asexually.

They attach themselves to ceilings and wait. When a victim passes beneath a Barnacle, it will snatch its prey with its tongue, pull it up, and begin immediately devouring them, however, if they happen to grab any non-organic material, they will reject it and spit it out, although there are exceptions if the object is small enough. Although organic, barnacles do not eat bones, and will spit them out. Strangely, when eating Zombies, they choose to instead eat the Headcrab and discard the body. In some cases, they choose to instead strangle to death or break the neck of their victim with their tongue before pulling them up to be eaten, as seen in Half-Life: Alyx - if one happens to grab Alyx Vance, it will begin strangling her. If the player gets caught, they must immediately kill the creature before getting dragged up too high or risk suffering damage from the fall and/or the barnacle itself. Barnacles are shown to have exceptional tongue strength, being able to pull up Gordon Freeman, a fully grown man, wearing an H.E.V Suit. They are able to completely devour an adult human (provided the human in question is not wearing protective armor such as the H.E.V suit) in seconds, indicating they may have extremely powerful digestive acids, although in Half-Life: Alyx, dead Combine Grunts can be seen hanging from barnacles, implying that they may have a "resting period" for digestion.


Half-Life and expansions[edit]

In Half-Life, Opposing Force and Blue Shift, Barnacles only attack humans. Characters appear to ignore the presence of Barnacles in any condition. When a victim is attacked by a Barnacle, they become immobilized and struggle during this sequence. The player is able to save the victim by killing the creature, allowing the victim to simply drop unharmed.

Opposing Force[edit]

Main article: Barnacle Grapple

In Opposing Force, the player comes across a Barnacle that was detached by the science team. This Barnacle can be used as a weapon to pull and eat small creatures, or as a grappling hook to latch onto organic surfaces to reach some areas.

Half-Life 2 and episodes[edit]

In Half-Life 2, Barnacles now instantly kill their victims when they latch onto them with their tongues. They attack everyone, including alien creatures. They're able to grab objects scattered around the levels and attempt to ingest them. This technique can be used to distract the creature and bypass it. If the object is not edible, they will remember and ignore that object next time.

In the Episodes, Barnacles can be poisoned by eating Poison Headcrabs or Antlion Workers. They will die shortly after eating these creatures. When they latch onto any type of Zombie, they will only consume the Headcrab, dropping the rest of the body.

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]

For the first time in the series, developing barnacles can be seen. These "baby" barnacles are seen clustered around an adult barnacle, most likely their parent, suggesting that barnacles reproduce asexually in some way. Russell mentions the Combine having trouble with Barnacle spores, implying how barnacles reproduce and spread from place to place.

Related Achievements[edit]

Half-Life 2
Hl2 kill barnacleswithbarrel.png Barnacle Bowling (5G)
Kill five barnacles with one explosive barrel.

Behind the scenes[edit]

One of the textures of the alternate Half-Life 2 leak Barnacle model.
The "mini
barnacle" texture from the Half-Life 2 leak.

Half-Life and expansions[edit]

In Online Gaming Review's early Half-Life Monster of the Week Feature preview, Barnacles were given the taxonomic designation "Cirripedia donaldsonia." This name is said to be derived from Dr. Louis Donaldson (a reference to Valve's former office manager), the discoverer and first victim of the creature. They are described as having a lifespan of 500 years, and infant, juvenile, and adult forms have all been observed. A Barnacle may tear free from its root attachment if it attempts to grab excessively heavy prey, leaving it grounded. These grounded specimens are said to be harmless as they lack any form of mobility. In this state, its base dries and hardens, and the creature eventually dies.[4]

The Barnacle was designed by Ted Backman.[2] It is described as a "steroid barnicle [sic] on crack" in the concept art. Although not seen in the game, the concept art shows that they have small feet to cling to ceilings. Within the game, the Barnacle acts as a way to constrict the player's movement in dark areas.[5] It was created to prevent experienced players from rushing through the levels, and make the player look upwards for the rest of the game once they encounter them for the first time.[6]

They were originally intended to be able to grab objects like their Half-Life 2 counterparts. The player was able to trick the creatures and make them eat explosive materials such as crates of dynamite or propane tanks.[7] They were originally designed to retract their tongue when idle, lowering it when they sensed prey below and would actively grab their victim instead of passively waiting for food.[8] In Day One, the unused Vortigaunt animations show the creature being grabbed and eaten by a Barnacle.

Half-Life 2 and episodes[edit]

  • The Half-Life 2 version was animated by Derek Jenson.[9]
  • The Citizens were originally intended to identify Barnacles and shout a warning to other nearby characters.[10]
  • While the Barnacle model found in the Half-Life 2 leak is identical to the retail one, its texture folder features textures for an alternate model, as well as a texture named minibarnacle. The Half-Life 2 leak files also feature a variation, named Sand Barnacle.
  • While in the final game any victim of the Barnacle will instantly die upon being grabbed, in the Half-Life 2 leak victims can still be saved while being pulled by killing the Barnacle, much like in the original Half-Life.[11]


In some circumstances, the player can use the Barnacle's tongue to reach an upper area when being pulled up. In Half-Life, the player can use this method to reach chargers inside a silo in the chapter Blast Pit.

When a Poison Zombie makes it into the path of a Barnacle, the game will crash. This can be seen without the use of cheats/mods towards the end of Anticitizen One in the tunnels after Alyx is captured. The player should lure the Poison Zombie toward the nearest Barnacle using the chain-link fence as a ramp. No attempts have been made to fix this.





Opposing Force[edit]

Blue Shift[edit]

Half-Life 2[edit]

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]


List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]



Combine OverWiki has more images related to Barnacle.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Half-Life 2 Prima Guide
  2. 2.0 2.1 Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, page 21
  3. Derek Jenson's portfolio
  4. Half-Life - Monster of the Week feature on Online Gaming Review (1997) (archived)
  5. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, page 14
  6. Interview with Gabe Newell on Gamereactor (May 12, 2004) (archived)
  7. IRC Interview on Far2Cool (October 17, 1997) (archived)
  8. YouTube favicon.png Half-Life (pre-release) - Barnacle on YouTube
  9. Derek Jenson's personal website
  10. Half-Life 2 files (hl2/resource/closecaption_english.txt)
  11. [1]