Stanley, also known as Employee 427 and Employee PIRATE, is the titular main protagonist in The Stanley Parable.
In-game, Stanley has no distinctive personality traits. As a silent protagonist, he cannot act without player intervention (an idea that is suggested). The player's choices in the game reflect Stanley's personality and character traits.
Stanley is one of several hundred employees that the Boss controls with the Mind Control Facility. In the Broom Closet Ending, the Narrator speculates that Stanley got this job either via a family connection or with "drug money". As Employee 427, his task is to sit in Room 427, pushing buttons on a keyboard. Orders come to him via a monitor on his desk, telling him what buttons to push, how long to push them, and in what order. This task is performed daily throughout the entire year. The Narrator notes that "although others may have considered it soul-rending, Stanley relished every moment that these orders came in." Stanley held this job for "years" prior to the events of the game.
During the events of The Stanley Parable, Stanley's routine is interrupted when orders cease to arrive at his desk. At this point, he realizes that all of his co-workers have disappeared. During the Countdown Ending, the Narrator states that he intentionally erased the co-workers from existence in order to set Stanley free. From this point onward, Stanley's fate depends on player action. This fate can range from breaking free from the Mind Control Facility to refusing to leave his room forever, among others.
Stanley's personality is dynamic with respect to the player. If he wishes to follow The Narrator's instructions, then he may. If Stanley wishes to disregard the Narrator, he may do so as well.
The Narrator repeatedly says that Stanley loves to push buttons, which explains why Stanley enjoys his job so much. Supporting this is the Heaven Ending, where Stanley is teleported to a room full of colorful buttons for him to push. While most of the Narrator's comments about Stanley cannot be taken seriously, Stanley's love of pressing buttons is occasionally mentioned.
In the Apartment Ending, the Narrator suggests that Stanley has a wife. Additionally, it is possible to randomly receive a call from her in the first office. He also appears to have multiple children with said wife, as one of the prompts in the Apartment Ending is to read a story to his kids.
In the intro, the Narrator mentions that no one had shown up to even greet Stanley after an hour of no instructions. This suggests that Stanley gets along with his co-workers. The Narrator mentions that Stanley never functioned well by himself, and constantly needed support from others and that he is afraid of solitude.
In the Broom Closet Ending, the Narrator says that Stanley is "fat and ugly" and "really, really stupid". It is also stated that Stanley is addicted to drugs and hookers. Whether the Narrator is speaking truthfully, in this case, is unclear: On one hand, he is clearly angry at Stanley, and could merely be verbally abusing him, as addiction to drugs or hookers is not mentioned elsewhere in the game. On the other hand, the Narrator does not display doubt in his accusation:
"He probably (Indicating doubt) only got the job because of a family connection; that's how stupid he is.
That, or with drug money. Also, Stanley is (no doubt indicated) addicted to drugs and hookers."
In the first trailer for Ultra Deluxe, he's unwilling to go along with the Narrator's plans, and tries to escape as his office is filled with cash. In the Bucket Confusion Ending, even with player intervention, he'll refuse to part with the Bucket, leaving the Bucket Destroyer to explode. In the Bucket Window Ending, Stanley manages to fight off a monstrous version of the Bucket and succeeds in destroying it, with the Narrator unironically praising him for his success. And in the Bucket Escape Pod Ending, Stanley lets the Bucket go on its own in the escape pod, comforting it before it is sent off into the unknown.
Stanley dies in six endings:
- Explosion Ending - Exploded with the facility
- Museum Ending - Crushed to death by the metal jaws.
- Mariella Ending - Goes insane and collapses, found dead on the street by Mariella.
- Powerful Ending - Jumps off the warehouse platform (or the Cargo Lift).
- Cold Feet Ending - Jumps off the warehouse platform.
- Zending - Commits suicide by jumping off the stairs 4 times.
After the eighth restart mentioned on the Confusion Ending Schedule, the Narrator is scripted to abandon the game, and Stanley would die. This never truly happens in-game however, because none of the endings from the fifth onwards actually happen. The Story of the Death of a Man Named Stanley in the Apartment Ending also makes mention of Stanley's future death, but it never actually happens in-game.
Can Stanley hear the narrator?
If the Narrator's statements about Stanley are taken at face value, a discrepancy arises about whether Stanley as a character can hear the narrator:
- During the Mariella Ending, the Narrator states: "And then perhaps the strangest question of them all entered Stanley's head, one he was amazed he hadn't asked himself sooner: Why is there a voice in my head, dictating everything that I'm doing and thinking?". This implies that Stanley as a character can hear the narrator.
- Furthermore, in the Bottom of The Mind Control Facility Ending with the bucket, Stanley argues with the bucket and mentions he should have listened to the narrator, also implying he can hear him.
- The Narrator directly talks to Stanley in multiple endings.
- During all upstairs endings, when the player enters the Boss's Office, the narrator tells the player the code to enter the mind control facility, 2845, while noting that "Stanley couldn't possibly have known this." If Stanley enters the wrong code, the Narrator says that Stanley "could never possibly know that the combination was 2-8-4-5. " This implies that Stanley can not hear the narrator, and is oblivious to all information given.
- According to The Narrator in the Not Stanley Ending, Stanley cannot speak because he is trained to do so.
- In a Portal fan-animation called Meet the Cores 2 by Harry101UK, both Stanley (mentioned as "ST4NL3Y") and the Narrator (in the form of a core) make their appearance, only instead of pushing buttons, ST4NL3Y is seen pulling levers in a chamber, and the story is modified as such to suit the Portal theming. However, the script cuts off soon after the opening, much to the Narrator Core's displeasure.
- In Half-Life 2 mod (in the intro), the model used for Stanley is "Group01 Male 7", also known as "Mike".
The Narrator • Stanley • The Essence of Divine Art • The Stanley Parable Adventure Line™ • Female Narrator • Mariella • Stanley's Wife • Employee 432 • The Boss • Steven • Player • Employees • Settings Person • The Stanley Parable Reassurance Bucket • Gambhorra'ta • Bucket Destroyer