- For the Alan Wake game, see: Alan Wake (Game)
|“||In a horror story, the victim keeps asking "Why?" But there can be no explanation, and there shouldn't be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it's what we'll remember in the end.||”|
–Alan Wake, Episode 1: Nightmare
Alan Wake is a bestselling American novelist and the main protagonist of the Alan Wake series. After suffering from a two-year strain of writer's block, Alan was brought on vacation by his wife Alice to the idyllic Pacific Northwest town of Bright Falls. Events took a dark turn when Alice was kidnapped by an unseen force and Wake was forced to fight his way through possessed townsfolk all while experiencing the events of a story he didn't even remember writing.
Alan Wake never knew his father. As a child, he was deeply afraid of the dark, to the point that his mother eventually gave him an old light switch she called "the Clicker". She told Alan that the light switch had the power to banish the darkness, and that it was a gift from Alan's father. From that point on, Alan was no longer afraid of the dark and kept the Clicker in his possession. Alan would later learn that these events had been written into his reality by the poet Thomas Zane, possibly implying that Zane himself created Alan.
Alan befriended Barry Wheeler at a young age, the two of them often getting into trouble. Alan was typically the one causing this, with Barry bailing them out. Their friendship would continue for years thereafter into their adult lives. In his teen years, Alan became a fan of Stephen King, who inspired him to become a writer when he grew up.
Alan's first short story, Errand Boy, was published in Dark Vision magazine in 1996, when Alan was only eighteen years old. As observed by Clay Steward in The Alan Wake Files, the short story contained many motifs which would become staples of Wake's writing, including absent or mysterious father figures, and a battle between darkness and light. The lighthouse that appeared in this story would also become significant to Wake in his later life.
Some time later, Barry helped Alan land a job as a writer for the cult television series Night Springs. One of Alan's first scripts written to audition for the show depicted a secret organization, the Federal Bureau of Night Springs, investigating a parallel dimension. Alan wrote several episodes for the show, and it ultimately kicked off his larger writing career. Alan's name became internationally known when he wrote the first installment in the Alex Casey crime thriller novel series. Alan wrote five more Alex Casey books in the following seven years, all of which were bestsellers. Barry became Alan's literary agent and helped to facilitate his success. Alan also became known for his cantankerous and at times violent personality, which on multiple occasions resulted in altercations with paparazzi. Alan also had a history of substance abuse, including heavy drinking.
At some point, Alan married a talented photographer named Alice, the two living in an apartment in New York City. After the publication of the last book in the Alex Casey series, The Sudden Stop, Alan was met with a sudden and immense strain of writer's block, unable to write a word for years. Worrying for her husband, Alice read a book on troubled artists, The Creator's Dilemma, written by a therapist named Dr. Emil Hartman. Wanting to help Alan recover from his writer's block, Alice took him on vacation to the idyllic town of Bright Falls, Washington, secretly hoping to have him write while there and also meet for Dr. Hartman for therapy.
Events of Alan Wake
While on his way to Bright Falls, Alan had a vivid nightmare of fighting against shadowy, possessed individuals, and an ethereal figure teaching him how to fight them by using light to burn away the shadows on their bodies. Upon arriving at Bright Falls, Alan and Alice visited the Oh Deer Diner to receive keys to their cabin from Carl Stucky. Alan was given the keys by a strange old woman, who directed Alan and Alice to Bird Leg Cabin on Cauldron Lake. That night, Alice revealed to Alan the intent of the trip by presenting him with a typewriter, and Alan, angered over this, stormed off. Moments later, Alice was kidnapped by an unseen force and dragged into the waters of the lake. Alan dove in after her, and blacked out, waking up a week later in a crashed car miles from the lake, with no recollection of how he'd arrived there, or what had happened to Alice after she had disappeared into the lake.
Working his way back through the woods, Alan encountered monstrous possessed humans (including Stucky) called the Taken resembling the ones from his dreams, and fought them with light. Alan also found pages of a manuscript of his own writing entitled Departure, which he had no recollection of writing. In the manuscript, events were described which Alan discovered were coming true all around him. Alan eventually worked his way to a gas station and contacted Sheriff Sarah Breaker, telling her about his wife's disappearance and the cabin on Cauldron Lake. Sarah insisted that the cabin had been destroyed decades prior in an earthquake, and took Alan to the lake to prove it, Alan shocked to see the cabin gone. Alan was taken to the police station, where he was subsequently contacted by a man named Mott who claimed to have kidnapped Alice. Mott told Alan to meet him at Lover's Peak in Elderwood National Park to negotiate Alice's return.
Now accompanied by Barry, who had arrived at Bright Falls to find Alan, Alan headed to the park and worked his way through the Taken to find Mott. Mott demanded that Alan give him the entire manuscript of Departure for Alice, and escaped, with Alan returning to Barry to rescue him from the Taken. The next morning, Barry was contacted by Rose Marigold, a waitress at the diner and fan of Wake's, who claimed to have found Alan's manuscript. Alan and Barry arrived at Rose's trailer park, all while Barry explained to Alan the local history; the cabin on Cauldron Lake was owned by Thomas Zane, a poet, who lost his lover Barbara Jagger when she mysteriously drowned in the lake. A week later, the volcanic earthquakes of Cauldron Lake sank the island, taking Zane with it. According to Barry, all of this information had been written by Cynthia Weaver, a local recluse, with her articles being the only existing record of Thomas Zane's existence.
Alan and Barry met with Rose, only to find her under the influence of the dark force. Rose knocked out Alan and Barry, who awoke hours later to find the police arriving at the trailer park. Alan was confronted by FBI Agent Robert Nightingale, an unstable and drunk individual willing to kill Alan without mercy. Alan escaped as the Taken began to attack and kill the police officers, and made his way to Mirror Peak, where the kidnapper had said he'd be waiting for Alan. However, as Alan arrived, he found Mott despairing at the mercy of the dark force, which appeared before him in the form of the old woman from the diner. Mott revealed that he never really had Alice and that he'd made up kidnapping her in order to get Wake to cooperate with his boss's wishes. At that point, Alan and Mott were hurled off of the edge of a cliff into the waters of Cauldron Lake, with Alan losing consciousness just as an unseen figure pulled him from the lake.
Alan awoke in the Cauldron Lake Lodge under the care of Dr. Hartman, who claimed that Alan had suffered a psychotic breakdown as a result of Alice drowning in Cauldron Lake. Alan did not believe Hartman, but cooperated in order to prevent an incident. While staying at the lodge, Alan met Odin and Tor Anderson, former rock musicians who had past experience with the supernatural events in Bright Falls. The Andersons instructed Alan to travel to their farm, where they had hidden a clue to stopping the darkness. The lodge was then attacked by the Taken, giving Alan a chance to escape with Barry. Along the way, Alan discovered that Hartman was the one behind Mott's deception, having used audio recordings of his discussions with Alice to fool Alan into thinking he'd kidnapped him. Hartman's intent was to take advantage of the power in Alan's writings, as he had been attempting to do with the other artists under his care for years.
Alan and Barry arrived at the Anderson Farm, discovering a record of their song "The Poet and the Muse," which seemed to indicate that Cynthia Weaver was the key to stopping the darkness. That night, Alan, under the influence of the Anderson's moonshine which had been infused with water from Cauldron Lake, experienced a vision of what happened during the missing week. Alice had been kidnapped by a supernatural force known as the Dark Presence, which enticed Alan to write Departure in order to bring her back. Cauldron Lake possessed the power to turn works of art into reality, and by writing Departure, Alan was facilitating the Dark Presence's emergence into reality. The Dark Presence had done this once before with Zane in order to bring back Barbara Jagger; however, the end result only saw Jagger return as a demonic shadow of her former self, controlled by the Presence. Zane had written himself out of existence to erase what he had done, taking the Dark Presence back beneath with him.
Having realized the Dark Presence's deception, Alan had changed the story of Departure, writing himself in as the protagonist and having Zane arrive at the cabin to help Alan escape. In the present day, Alan, upon awakening, was arrested by Robert Nightingale and brought to the Bright Falls Sheriff Station. That night, the Dark Presence once again attacked, taking Nightingale and forcing Alan, Barry, and Sarah Breaker to free. The trio headed to the Bright Falls Dam to seek out Cynthia Weaver, who revealed to Alan that Zane had given her the key to the Dark Presence's defeat. Alan found that this was none other than the Clicker, which Zane had written into the story to give Alan a fighting chance. Determining that he alone had to stop the Dark Presence and save Alice, Alan left Barry and Sarah behind and headed for Cauldron Lake.
Alan arrived at Cauldron Lake and dove into its waters, finding himself in a surreal alternate dimension known as the Dark Place. Unlike Alan's world, the Dark Place was subjective and conceptual, making it subject to manipulation by works of art, which then manifested in reality. Alan navigated the Dark Place with the aid of Zane, in the process encountering a mysterious doppelganger of himself referred to as "Mr. Scratch." Reaching the submerged cabin, Alan encountered Jagger, and destroyed her using the Clicker. Realizing that the story demanded balance, Alan began writing the ending of Departure, allowing Alice to escape from the Dark Place while trapping himself there indefinitely.
|“||It's not a lake... it's an ocean.||”|
The Signal and The Writer
Still trapped in the Dark Place, Alan found himself pursued by Taken, seemingly controlled by an insane version of himself. Zane appeared before Alan and explained to him the Dark Place's dreamlike nature, stating that Alan had become split into two facets of his existence, with the insane Alan giving in to Alan's doubts and fears, and the rational Alan attempting to restore control. Alan worked his way through the shifting landscape of the Dark Place, evading the chaos brought into existence by the insane Alan, and eventually found his way back to Bird Leg Cabin. Regaining control of his other self, Alan began work on a sequel to Departure which would allow him to escape from the Dark Place. This novel was known as Return.
While Alan continued to write Return, the power of the Dark Place continued to act upon reality, eventually unleashing Alan's doppelganger, Mr. Scratch. Mr. Scratch's inception was catalyzed by rumors and conspiracies about Alan, viewing him as an insane, sadistic serial killer. Mr. Scratch personified this fictionalized Alan, and came to life in the real world seeking to take over Alan's life. Alan, in an attempt to stop him, used the concept of one of his old Night Springs episodes to write himself back into reality in the nonexistent town of Night Springs, Arizona, where Mr. Scratch had also appeared. Alan began work to actualize the manuscript he'd written in order to defeat Mr. Scratch, doing so by using the power of the Dark Place to make scenes from the town match those of Return and thus catalyze shifts in reality.
Alan eventually managed to make his way to a drive-in movie theater where the ending of Return existed. However, Alan discovered that this was in fact a trap, and that Mr. Scratch had created a time loop which would prevent Alan from ever defeating him. Restarting from the beginning, Alan once again worked his way to the ending, piecing together more clues about the final scene of Return in order to make it more accurate. After a third and final loop, Alan was able to activate the ending, revealed to be a movie made about Alan by Alice as a tribute to their relationship. The film seemingly destroyed Mr. Scratch, and depicted Alan reuniting with Alice.
In spite of his apparent defeat of Mr. Scratch in American Nightmare, Alan remained trapped in the Dark Place, and Mr. Scratch continued to make appearances in reality. An FBI agent named Alex Casey - the same name as the titular character of Wake's book series - investigated Wake's disappearance, but was seemingly killed by Mr. Scratch. Mr. Scratch also continued to stalk Alice, frequently appearing in their apartment. She eventually was able to aqcuire photographic evidence of Mr. Scratch's appearances.
Trapped in the Dark Place for more than ten years, Alan became desperate to escape, and began frantically writing pages of the Return manuscript in order to find a way to return to reality. Realizing that the story he needed would require "many springs," Wake began using the connections he'd known from his previous life to craft a new, larger reality which would enable him to escape. Wake developed a story about a secret government organization, the Federal Bureau of Control, which investigated many supernatural or "paranatural" phenomena around the world, including various "Altered World Events" such as those in Bright Falls. Wake placed the FBC's headquarters, a paranatural skyscraper known as the Oldest House, in his hometown of New York City. Wake then wrote a "hero," Jesse Faden, who would become the new Director of the FBC through a "crisis." For the crisis, Wake created an alien force called the Hiss, which would invade the Oldest House and lead to Jesse becoming the Director.
In order to actualize the story through connections to his former reality, Wake wrote for Emil Hartman to jump into Cauldron Lake and be taken by the Dark Presence, which would lead to the FBC imprisoning him in the Oldest House. Alan then wrote for Alice to come to the FBC, to be interviewed about the apparitions of Mr. Scratch. This led to Hartman sensing Alice and going berserk, attacking the agents of the FBC; by this time, Alice had already long since left the building. The FBC was then forced to close the Investigations Sector where Hartman was kept. When the Hiss invaded the Oldest House, it mixed with the Dark Presence in Hartman and mutated him into a monstrous form, which was eventually killed by Jesse Faden.
At this point, Frederick Langston, an FBC official, notified Jesse that an Altered World Event report had been received by the FBC from Bright Falls, though this report placed it several years in the future.
Alan Wake is a complex individual whose personality ranges from melancholy and pensive to aggressive and angry. According to recollections by Wake and Barry Wheeler, Wake was a troublemaker for much of his childhood, and this behavior continued into his adult years, with Wake getting into frequent altercations with news media and others. Alan has a history of substance abuse, fighting a longtime struggle against alcoholism. Throughout the events of Alan Wake, Alan often displays an aggressive and stubborn nature, sometimes bordering on vindictive and resentful. Alan's behavior has led to conflicts with those closest to him, inclduing Barry and Alice; it is also implied that Alan has very few friends because of this. Alan's fame also resulted in a bout of narcissism and arrogance, which is reflected in Mr. Scratch. He can also sometimes be sarcastic and mean, even towards those he considers friends, such as Barry.
However, there are also more positive apsects of Alan's personality, which are primarily reflected in his intimate relationship with Alice. He deeply cares for his wife, and is willing to sacrifice anything in order to save her in the events of Alan Wake. Alice sees a brighter side of Alan and is more sympathetic towards him. In Alan Wake and particularly the Rick Burroughs novelization, Alan is depcited as caring for the people of Bright Falls and doing his best to protect them from the Dark Presence, even being willing to sacrifice himself to ultimately ensure their safety. He develops a friendship with Sarah Breaker and the Anderson brothers, the memories of whom are fond in Alan's mind as he struggles in the Dark Place.
Behind his outward aggression and cynicism, Alan is a deeply insecure, self-derisive, and troubled man. Since the ending of the Alex Casey series, he has lived in a constant struggle against his writer's block, one that has only deepened and amplified his frustration and confusion. In the Dark Place, Alan's troubled mind is reflected as chaotic and nightmarish, and Alice herself describes Alan was writing "horror stories" in his head whenever he makes a mistake. Alan is ultimately able to overcome his self-doubt in order to retake control of himself in the Dark Place, enabling him to begin plotting his return.
Alan practices at a shooting range, and has a decent knowledge of hunting rifles, shotguns, and pistols. In the novel, it is explained that he spent time at the shooting range to get research done for his Alex Casey crime series, though Sarah Breaker comments that Alan's knowledge of guns is limited. Alan is also a quick thinker, using his knowledge to get past environmental puzzles and to evade numerous Taken at once. He can adapt to a wide array of weaponry quickly.
Prior to his experiences in Bright Falls, Alan was a self-proclaimed skeptic, rejecting the supernatural as little more than a reflection of the human pscyhe. This attitude would later be reflected in the universe of Control (which was possibly created by Alan), in which paranatural phenomena are intrinsically tied to the human psyche, particularly the Jungian concepts of collective unconscious, synchronicity, and archetypes.
During Alan's time on Night Springs, he wrote several episodes for the show, which kicked off his larger career in writing fiction. One of these episodes focused on the "Federal Bureau of Night Springs," and was possibly later adapted into the events of Control. Another episode was adapted into the portion of the Return manuscript from the events of Alan Wake's American Nightmare.
Alex Casey was an action thriller series written by Alan, which revolved around the titular character, a hardened New York City cop. Six books were made in the series:
- Alex Casey
- What I Can't Forget
- Return to Sender
- The Things That I Want
- The Fall of Casey
- The Sudden Stop
Alan ended the series by killing off Alex Casey in The Sudden Stop, as he wanted to move onto other projects. He planned to write a new story, Departure, but instead faced a severe strain of writer's block which held off his writing for more than two years.
Alex Casey has numerous similarities to the Remedy Entertainment video game Max Payne. In Control, Dylan Faden heavily implies that Max Payne's universe was created by Alan Wake:
|“||There are many worlds - side-by-side, on top of each other, some inside of others. In one world, there was a writer who wrote a story about a cop. In another world, the cop was real.||”|
–Dylan Faden, Control
Departure was originally intended as Alan's new project following the conclusion of Alex Casey. While Alan suffered from writer's block and was unable to write Departure, he was eventually forced to work on the manuscript by the Dark Presence. The completed Departure rewrote reality and told the story of most of the events of Alan Wake, with Alan himself as the protagonist, and ended with Alan trapping himself in the Dark Place.
Return is the unfinished sequel to Departure, which Alan began writing in the Dark Place. While a draft of the Return manuscript was used to script the events of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, the full manuscript is not complete. It is also believed that Return was used to write the events of Control.
- Alan Wake is voiced by Matthew Porretta and modeled by Ilkka Villi.
- Remedy Entertainment has called Alan "kind of a dick," noting that he "hates most people" and has many problems with his marriage. The intent of this characterization was to separate him from most golden-hearted characters and "space marine" G.I. Joes. This is intended to add a layer of realism and depth to Alan, making him a more relatable character with moral failings of his own as opposed to a larger-than-life hero with high moral standards.
- As with other Remedy Entertainment games, Alan Wake's name is a pun, in this case on the word "awake."
- One of the books in the Alex Casey series that Alan wrote is titled The Things That I Want. This is the name of a level in the Remedy game series, Max Payne. Another is titled "The Fall of Alex Casey", just like the subtitle for Max Payne 2. On some of the TVs in that game, a 'return to sender marathon' of the fictional show 'Address Unknown' is played, giving another book title. Max muses that "when entertainment turns to a surreal reflection of your life, you're a lucky man if you can laugh at the joke". He refers to the coincidental parallels between fiction and his life as opposed to the rewriting of events that the manuscript pages of Alan Wake describe.
- The idea behind Wake ending the Alex Casey series by killing off the main character is most likely influenced by the Stephen King book Misery, where the main character Paul Sheldon, also a writer, ends his series of books by the same method and for the same reasons.
- There are several Xbox avatar outfits of Alan's clothes.