Examples of the cake is a lie
Examples of the cake is a lie
Where does the cake is a lie come from?
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Spoiler alert … for an 11-year-old video game. You have been warned.
The cake is a lie is a memetic phrase originating from the 2007 video game, Portal. In the game, the player character, Chell, is tasked with testing out an experimental gun that creates portals. Chell is given orders by an AI named GLaDOS. GLaDOS starts out helpful and supportive, even promising Chell that she will receive cake at the end of the tests.
As the game goes on, GLaDOS becomes more mean-spirited and spiteful, insulting Chell as an orphan who has no friends. The tests also become increasingly dangerous, involving things like traversing acid. Once all of the tests are completed, GLaDOS congratulates the player and supposedly begins preparations for a party with the promised cake. But in reality, GLaDOS attempts to kill Chell by lowering her into a furnace. Chell escapes and, along the way, finds graffiti from past test subjects that GLaDOS had killed. Among them, the phrase the cake is a lie is madly scrawled on the walls.
After the release of the game, the cake is a lie became a popular catchphrase shared among Portal players. Via gaming forums, the phrase spread virally and took on a new sense of a false promise, trap, or delusion. The cake is a lie was shared so often and used in so many memes that it was already appearing on T-Shirts and alluded to in other video games not even a year after Portal’s release.
By 2010, the cake is a lie meme had been so widely used that Portal head writer Erik Wolpaw said he would make no reference to it in his sequel, Portal 2, because he was so tired of it. So, too, was the contemporary internet, where the cake is a lie became considered an unhip “dead meme,” with anyone using it unironically perceived as out-of-touch with internet culture.
Who uses the cake is a lie?
For gamers, the phrase the cake is a lie instantly calls up and is used to reference its source, Portal.
— Laugh Stash TV (@LaughStashTV) June 5, 2017
Even in AR, the cake is a lie.
— YouTube Gaming (@YouTubeGaming) February 7, 2017
In internet culture, the cake is a lie immediately conjures up so-called “dead memes” and instances of it are mocked as passé.
which is actively cringier at this point, a "the cake is a lie" joke in 2017, or a harambe joke in 2017?
— snarkiplier (@snarkfriend) October 11, 2017
hello, police? I just saw someone make a "the cake is a lie" joke in 2018.
— ʸᵒᵘʳ ᵖᵃˡ˒ a fish (@sassamifrass) January 22, 2018
some dude at the hardware store just said “the cake is a lie” out loud in TYOOL 2018
— Subterranean Homesick Allison (@MooStation) April 23, 2018
Still, the internet continues to churn out new memes, and the cake is a lie gets remixed into them, if often with irony.
Occasionally, gaming and internet-culture writers will allude to the cake is a lie as a figure of speech for other, real-life treacherous tricks or traps or unattainable goals.