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Differences between the Halo TV Series and games explained

There are a lot of differences between the Halo TV Series and games. Sure, the creators trigger our fan-instinct right from the start by using exactly the right sounds for depleted shields, but when comparing the Halo TV Series versus the games, you’ll notice a lot of differences. No wonder, as ultimately, the show marks the beginning of a new Halo Universe called the Silver Timeline. The Silver Timeline is different from the main Halo Timeline, or Halo Core Canon as it is called officially, which includes the video games, books, comics, and previously released videos like Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. So, let’s dig deeper into the lore and explain the most important differences in the Halo TV series versus the games.

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This article about the Halo TV Series versus the games will be updates as the show progresses. It might contain fan-fueled speculation from our side, don’t hate us for it. Feel free to join us speculating by leaving a comment below! We’d love to hear our thoughts.

General setting

The Halo Television Show takes place in 2552, before the human race discovers the titular Halo rings. This places the events from the show roughly during the same time as the later part of the book Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund.

In 2552, the human race is at war with an alliance of alien races collectively called The Covenant. The human race is losing, and fast. Planet Reach became one of the most important colonies as a military stronghold and home to the Spartans, biologically engineered supersoldiers that proved to be humanity’s only chance against The Covenant.

Some characters from the book return, like Dr. Catherine Halsey, Captain Keyes, Cortana and of course Master Chief. Yet, it doesn’t follow the events from the book. There are a great many differences between the Halo TV Series and Halo: The Fall of Reach, and thus the universe featured in the games.

Episode 1: Contact

The UNSC seems more evil

The UNSC has always been morally gray. Especially ONI has been up to some real black box stuff in the Core Canon, most importantly recruiting child soldiers for the SPARTAN-II program. The Spartans were also ultimately designed to subdue the insurrection of the Outer Colonies. Yet, in the Halo TV Series, the UNSC seems a little bit more on the dark side.

Halsey apparently locked away or even wiped the memories of Spartans entirely, and Spartans are depicted as ruthless killing machines that don’t think for themselves. The UNSC also doesn’t seem to hesitate to kill off a young woman that happens to be a loose end, using Master Chief of all people as nothing more than a hired killer. No wonder Chief starts second-guessing the UNSC’s motives.

Halo TV Series Silver Team

Silver Team is Blue Team, but with different team members

Silver Team is an all-new Spartan Fireteam consisting of Vannak-134, Riz-028, Kai-125, and of course Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. Vannak, Riz and Kai are never mentioned in the Core Canon, yet Silver Team looks an awful lot like Blue Team. Vannak resembles Fred, while Kai reminds us of sniper Linda. Kelly is often depicted with a pistol and guess what Riz’s weapon of choice is? You guessed it.

The similarities go even beyond their weapon loadouts. In the first episode we see Silver Team having Chief’s back, no matter what. ‘If they go after Chief, they are not friendlies,’ is something we can imagine Fred saying as well. The whole scene reminded us a lot of how Blue Team supported Chief in Halo 5. It makes us wonder why introduce these new team members in the first place instead of just going with Blue Team, but maybe that will make more sense in the later episodes.

Kwan Ha is a brand-new character

Kwan Ha, played by Yerin Ha, is introduced early in the first episode of the Halo TV Show and it seems she will play a significant role in the Television Series. Kwan Ha is, however, an entirely new character that isn’t featured in the Core Canon, nor does she seems to be based on other known characters in the Halo Universe. The same goes for her father, Jin Ha, played by Jeong-hwan Kong.

Master Chief finds a Forerunner object on Madrigal

In the first episode of the Halo TV Series, we see Master Chief interacting with an unknown Forerunner object on the planet of Madrigal. This object will somehow lead humanity to the titular Halo ringworld.

A similar Forerunner object exists in the Core Canon, but it’s not located on Madrigal. In the book Halo: The Fall of Reach, Master Chief finds this object on the planet of Sigma Octanus IV in July 2552, just a few months before the actual fall of Reach and the events in Halo: Combat Evolved.

In the Core Canon, Madrigal is just a backwater planet that is glassed early on in the war, roughly 25 years before Master Chief finds the Forerunner object on Sigma Octanus IV. Most survivors of Madrigal fled to the nearby asteroid settlement The Rubble, a location that is also featured in the Television Show.

The Elite we see is definitely not the Arbiter from the game

We see an Elite skulking in the darkness when Chief interacts with the before-mentioned Forerunner object. His armor kind of resembles that of the Arbiter from the video games. This is, however, not the same Arbiter we know from the games. First, it seems more Elites are wearing this armor, while there should be only one Arbiter. Thus, it might seem like an artistic difference in the Elite armor.

Secondly, ‘Arbiter’ is an honorable title held by one Elite at the time. Thel ‘Vadam, the Arbiter from the video games, only takes up the mantle of Arbiter after the destruction of the first Halo ring. In Halo Wars, we see Ripa ‘Moramee as the last known Arbiter before Tel ‘Vadam die in 2531. It is never mentioned in the video games or books whether there was an Arbiter between 2531 and 2552.

Edit: Later episodes suggest this isn’t an Arbiter after all. It seems more Elites are wearing this armor. Or are there more than one Arbiters in the Silver Timeline? It could be that the creators of the TV Series turned ‘Arbiter’ in some sort of special forces, similar to the Honor Guards in the Core Canon. We’ll probably learn more as the show continues.

Halo TV Series Arbiter

A human, Makee, is with the Covenant

In the Television Show, we see the Prophet of Mercy talk with Makee, a human who seems to be in some kind of advisory role for the Covenant. From the conversation between Makee and Mercy, we learn that she can interact with Forerunner objects and also somehow knows where to find them. This makes her a valuable asset for the Covenant. Yet, in the Core Canon, humans have never been part of the Covenant in any way. It is interesting to see why Makee is part of the Covenant.

Miranda Keyes follows a different career path

In the TV Series, Miranda Keyes is depicted as a military scientst, leading a department on Reach that is specialized in xenoarchaeology. This line of works means she also must deal frequently with her mother, Dr. Catherine Halsey.

In the Halo Core Canon, Miranda is also the daughter of Jacob Keyes and Catherine Halsey, but hardly interacts with her mother as Halsey is too preoccupied with her work. She grows up living with her father (that’s why she took his last name instead of Halsey’s) on Luna, and rises through the military ranks of the UNSC swiftly. In 2552, she is on active duty as the commander of her ship, the In Amber Clad.

Master Chief goes rogue early

The way Master Chief goes AWOL reminds us of Halo 5; Guardians. In Halo 5, Master Chief is supported unconditionally by Blue Team, just like Silver Team backs him up in the TV Series. Also, Dr. Catherine Halsey suspects he has good reasons to go AWOL and should not be underestimated by the UNSC. Yet the motives for Master Chief to go AWOL are very different.

In Halo 5: Guardians, he breaks with the UNSC to pursue his long-time partner Cortana. In the Television Show, he turns his back on the UNSC after he starts to doubt the intentions of the UNSC, while he’s also getting visions or memories from the mysterious Forerunner object.

Master Chief wears Mjolnir VI armor

Master Chief explains he is wearing a Mjolnir Mark VI armor and bullets cannot even dent the outer layer. In Core Canon, the Mark VI armor was only introduced after the fall of Reach. Before the fall of Reach, Spartans wore the Mark V armor, which looks slightly different. It makes sense they chose the Mark VI armor for the Television show, as it is arguably the most recognizable armor Chief wears in the video games. It is roughly the same design Master Chief wears in Halo 2, 3 and Infinite.

Differences Halo TV Series Games

Master Chief shows his face

Well, what do you know: they show Master Chiefs face. Spoiler: It’s Pablo Schreiber! You can argue whether Master Chief showing his face is actually different from the Core Canon. Although we never saw Chiefs (complete) face in video games, fans have seen the face of John-117 multiple times in comics like Fall of Reach and Collateral Damage. His face was also clearly described in the books. It’s not like he swore a Mandalorian-like oath to never take off his helmet, so it’s certainly not out of character for him to take off his helmet.

In the Core Canon though, Master Chief is described as having pale blue eyes and reddish-brown hair, while Pablo Schreider has dark hair and eyes.

Episode 2: Unbound

Master Chief visits the Rubble

In an attempt to learn more about the mysterious Forerunner artifact, Master Chief and Kwan Ha visit The Rubble. Chief never visited The Rubble in the Core Canon, but The Rubble is an actual location in that universe as well. The book Halo: The Cole Protocol takes place on The Rubble.

Just like in the TV Series, The Rubble is described as a group of hollowed out asteroids linked together with flexible tubes. The people on The Rubble are mostly survivors from Madrigal and try to live off-grid, having no ties to the UNSC. They even trade with Kig-Yar pirates. The Rubble is eventually destroyed in 2535, after a Covenant attack. Thel ‘Vadam, who later would become the Arbiter we know from the games, was involved in the attack.

Soren-066 lives and fled to The Rubble

At the Rubble, Master Chief visits Soren-066. Soren defected from the Spartan-II program after being deformed by the augmentations. He successfully retreated to The Rubble, where he now lives with a wife and child. In the Series, he still wears a Mjolnir armor.

In the Core Canon, Soren-066 is a relatively minor character only featuring in one short-story in Halo: Evolutions, Pariah. Soren-066’s body is heavily disformed by the augmentations, making him unsuitable to become a Spartan. No armor would fit his disformed physique, either. He tries to defect, but is shot down when trying to leave Reach. As no body was found, Soren-066 is officially missing in action.

Halo The Series Soren-066

Spartan emotions are suppresed by a pellet

During a conversation between Soren-066 and John-117, it is explained that Spartan emotions are suppresed by an emotional suppressor pellet in the lower spine. The pellet also renders them infertile, but Soren explains that everything will come back over time after removing the pellet. It enabled Soren to become a father of a son. Later episodes reveal the pellet is quite easily removed, as it sits just below the skin.

In the Core Canon, the book Halo: The Fall of Reach explains the augmentations Spartans undergo as soon as they hit puberty. The list of augmentations also include one titanium pellet, but this one is inserted in the thyroid. The pellet contains a human growth hormone catalyst to boost growth of skeletal and muscle tissues. It also suppresses sexual drive. It is not mentioned that these pellets also suppress other emotions or feelings. In Core Canon, the machine-like behaviour of the Spartans is mainly due to training.

Reth is a human

Soren-066 leads Master Chief to Reth, a human who was once captured but the Covenant and visited a Covenant ship. He might know more about the mysterious Forerunner artifact. In the Core Canon, no human called Reth is ever mentioned. In Halo: The Cole Protocol, however, there is a Kig-Yar (or Jackal) called Reth living at The Rubble. The Kig-Yar Reth plays a pivotal role in the destruction of The Rubble.

Master Chief is called a ‘Blessed One’

Reth calls Master Chief a ‘Blessed One’: someone who can interact with Forerunner objects. It seems Master Chief’s ability is quite unique, as both Reth and Soren-066 (and later the other Spartans of Silver Team) cannot interact with the Forerunner object. Makee also has this ability.

In the video games, Master Chief can also interact with Forerunner objects. In Core Canon, people who can are often referred to as ‘Reclaimers’. Multiple characters in the Core Canon are Reclaimers, including Sgt. Johnson, Dr. Anders, Miranda Keyes and Dr. Catherine Halsey.

Episode 3: Emergence

Oban is colonized by humans

The flashback with young Makee at the beginning of episode 3 takes place at Oban, meaning Oban was colonized by the human race somewhere in the early 26th century. In the Core Canon, there is also a planet called Oban. This planet, however, was only discovered after the Human-Covenant War.

Cortana’s creation is very different

Cortana’s background in the Series is vastly different from that in the Core Canon, yet the character itself remains incredibly true to its roots in some aspects. In the TV Series, Cortana is created specifically to support a Spartan. She is created from just one flash clone that is very much sentient and looks mature. Dr. Catherine Halsey assigns her to the Master Chief and inserts her directly into his brain.

In the Core Canon, Cortana was actually created a little earlier. Halsey created multiple flash clones and excised their brains from their malformed bodies. The brains were kept in cryogenic units until Cortana was eventually created. Initially, she supported Dr. Catherine in research. When it became clear she could be a vital support for the Spartans, she chose John-117 as her Spartan. John was strong, swift, and brave, but according to Cortana had something the others didn’t: luck. In the Core Canon, Cortana resides in a chip that is inserted in the Mjolnir suit but can also be inserted into a ship, like the Pillar of Autumn and later Infinity. Cortana and Master Chief got along pretty well right from the start. Cortana also assisted in unraveling the mysteries of the Forerunner object found in Sigma Octanus IV.

Halo the Series Cortana

Regardless of these different background stories, Cortana is also one of the most faithful characters in the television show. She is, after all, portrayed by Jen Taylor, making her the only character in the show that is portrayed by the same actress as in the video games. Her first words, “When the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box” were also the first words she said in the Core Canon, albeit in Italian. This is a reference to something Halsey’s mother used to say when Halsey was just a child.

Master Chief removes his emotional suppressor pellet

Master Chief decides to remove his emotional suppresor pellet from his lower spine. This allows him to feel more and experience the world in a whole new way. His behaviour changes straight away and it sets him apart from the other, more machine-like Spartans.

The Master Chief we know from the games and books has never tinkered with his Augmentations. It seems that it is not even possible to undo the augmentations without dying or seriously injuring yourself.

Master Chief returns to Eridanus II

By the end of the third episode, Master Chief is heading for the planet where he was born: Eridanus II. His visions let him to believe there is another, essential, Forerunner object on the planet. According to the UNSC records, Eridanus II was only populated by a few settlers. At some point, the planet was hit by a virus wiping out the population, including Master Chief’s parents.

In the Core Canon, John also grew up on Eridanus II. This version of Eridanus II, however, was a full-blown human colony, with multiple cities, John being from Elysium City. Eridanus II took part in the Insurrection and fought numerous battles with the UNSC. Master Chief never returned to Eridanus II but visited the system Eridanus Secundus to take out an Insurrectionist leader in his first military mission. Eridanus II was glassed by the Covenant a few years later.

Episode 4: Homecoming

Master Chief visits the place where he grew up

As the title of the episode suggests, this episode is all about homecoming. For Master Chief, it means returning to Eridanus II, the planet where he lived until he was about six years old and was drafted into the Spartan-II program. The Eridanus II we see in the TV Series is very different from the one that we know from the Core Canon. This planet was inhabited by only a few settlers, and the settlement was led by John’s parents. They lived in a wood and experimented with growing plants. Little John also encountered a Forerunner object.

In the Core Canon, Eridanus II was only briefly featured in Halo: The Fall of Reach. The comic Halo: Fall of Reach – Bootcamp actually shows Eridanus II: it was a colony as any other, with large, modern cities. Chief grew up in one of those cities, called Elysium City. His parents are hardly mentioned, so there’s little we know about them. The game Halsey plays with a coin, however, comes straight from Halo: The Fall of Reach. The ‘luck’ Chief has that is often mentioned throughout the series started with that game.

Halo TV Series Games Eridanus II

The Mjolnir helmet does some HoloLens magic

Cortana can project entire augmented realities in Chiefs visor, similar to Microsoft’s own HoloLens in the real world. That’s not something that ever happened in the Halo video game universe, although Chief could see digital memories in Halo Infinite.

Ellie is the name of Master Chief’s dog

John’s pet dog is called Ellie. This might seem insignificant, but in Core Canon, Ellie was in fact the name of a childhood friend of John’s. She is seen in the Halo 3 commercial Halo 3: Starry Night, in which John and Ellie are stargazing together or Eridanus II.

The Needler is called a Qkhep’os by the Covenant

Spartan Kai-125 reveals the Needler is actually called Qkhep’os in Sangheili, the lingua franca of the Covenant. In the Core Universe, we rarely hear Sangheili words, as most dialogs are translated to English. Some words, like the native names of Covenant species (Sangheili, San’Shyuum, Unngoy, etc.) are often used throughout the Halo Core Canon, but we’ve never learned the names they used for their own weapons. Kai also suggests the word might mean ‘Shit, please don’t kill me’, so don’t pin us on this one.

Soren is using a Hand Cannon

Soren-066 is wielding a large revolver. Such weapons are often described as a ‘Hand Cannon’. Hand Cannons have never been available in any Halo game, nor where they mentioned in any book or other extended medium. The gun could, however, be a reference to Destiny, the game series Bungie developed after Halo. The hand cannon is common in Destiny and is even the main weapon of Cayde-6, one of the most popular characters in Destiny.

Episode 5: Reckoning

Master Chief and Keyes have history together

During Episode 5, it’s appears that Master Chief and Captain Keyes share a lot of history together. When Chief raises his concerns to Keyes about his memories including Halsey, Keyes mentioned that he and Chief fought together for many years. Chief also calls him ‘his captain’, both suggesting that Chief indeed falls under Keyes order for some time know. Keyes was also with Catherine Halsey when she first observed the young John-117 on Eridanus II.

In the Core Canon, Master Chief and Captain Keyes have only met on a few occasions. Keyes was with Halsey when they first observed young John on Eridanus II. Later, both fought in the battle of Sigma Octanus IV, but they didn’t actually meet. Later, their paths crossed each other when preparing for a special mission, which was ultimately interrupted by the Covenant assaulting planet Reach. They fought together during the Fall of Reach, and managed to escape the total annihilation of the planet in the Pillar of Autumn, ultimately leading the to the first Halo Ring.

Halo Differences TV Series Games

Master Chief tries to attack Dr. Halsey

Keeping the kidnaping of the Spartans a secret ultimately backfires when John interacts with the newfound Keystone on Eridanus II, triggering more memories of his past. When he uncovers Halsey abducted him as a child, something snaps in him, resulting to him trying to attack Dr. Halsey. His attempt is then thwarted by Cortana, by basically shutting Master Chiefs body down.

In the Core Canon, the abducting of the children was not kept a secret. The Spartans are aware of their own history, although they are too drilled and brainwashed to really care. They are just so loyal to the UNSC and Dr. Halsey. There are some exceptions, but most Spartans view Halsey as a mother figure, willing to do everything for her. In Core Canon, Cortana is alsno not able to directly control Chiefs entire body, but she wasn’t implanted directly in his brain to start with.

Jackals are now using Energy Swords

During the climatic battle in the fifth episode, we finally see Grunts, Jackals, and even a Brute. Surprisingly, we see Jackals not only wielding their signature energy shields, but also Energy Swords. In the video games and other Core Canon media, the Energy Sword is exclusively used by Elites (and some humans, of course). Jackals have been seen using a similar kind of energy weapon, called the Energy Cutlass. This weapon was seen in both Halo: Helljumper and Halo: Lone Wolf, but looks different from the weapon we see in the TV Series.

Master Chief encounters Atriox early on

Yes, the Brute Chieftain Master Chief encounters at the end of episode 5 is indeed Atriox. This is confirmed in a post by language creator David J. Peterson (which was then confirmed in a Halo Waypoint Silver Debrief), who created the language the Covenant speak in the Halo TV Series. The post includes all original dialog and the English translation. According to the post, Atriox mumbles “Muuri kkhaayeya pkha…” or “Hardly worth the sport…” at the end of the episode.

The (brief) encounter means Master Chief and Atriox cross paths way earlier in the Halo TV Series. In the video games, Atriox was first introduced in Halo Wars 2 and later featured in Halo Infinite. Although Master Chief did not encountered the Brute leader during any gameplay, Atriox kicks Chief’s ass in the intro of the game. By the time Atriox is introduced, he leads The Banished, a group of mercenaries that broke off from the Covenant. Most of his origin story is told in the comic Halo: Rise of Atriox. According to the Core Canon, Atriox split from the Covenant years before the Halo TV Series takes place. In episode 5, it seems he is still working for the Covenant.

Halo TV Series Atriox

Episode 6: Solace

The Covenant have a holy planet in Aspero

Makee mentioned that the Covenant took the keystone artifact from Eridanus II to a place called Raas Kkhotskha in the system known as Aspero. She describes it as a holy place for the Covenant. It’s unknown whether Makee actually speaks the truth, or is just trying to manipulate Master Chief and the UNSC with this information.

Raas Kkhotskha is never mentioned in the Core Canon, but Aspero is. The Aspero system is home to the planet of Hesduros, a Covenant planet colonized by Sangheili. It was once a Forerunner planet and has connections to the Dyson sphere Onyx, best known from the book Halo: Ghosts of Onyx.

Dr. Catherine Halsey gets exiled from Reach

After Dr. Catherine Halsey explains the origin of the Spartan program to John-117, both she and Parangosky fear that they might end up in prison. As a solution, Parangosky comes up with a plan to exile Dr. Catherine Halsey to Barrier Moons. This way John gets justice, the committee gets their scapegoat, and Halsey can continue her research.

Her exile might just save her from the inevitable fall of Reach, as she will probably be off-planet by the time the Covenant attacks the planet. In Core Canon, Dr. Halsey continues to work at planet Reach even until after the invasion and destruction of Reach. In the game Halo Reach, Noble Team plays a vital role in helping her complete her last research and rescuing her.

Miranda Keyes gains control over the entire Spartan program

After exiling Dr. Catherine Halsey from Reach, she transfers the stewardship of the Spartan program to Miranda Keyes, making her work together with Master Chief on deciphering the artifact from Madrigal.

As explained earlier, the Miranda Keyes from the Core Canon has a military career and spends most of her time off-planet on ships. She does work with Spartans, including John-117 during the attack on Earth, the battle on Delta Halo, and the ultimate battle on the Ark, but she never oversaw the entire Spartan program.

Being a ‘Blessed One’ in confirmed to be unique

According to Miranda Keyes, John and Makee are just “two in a billion”. It was already clear that Master Chief’s ability to interact with the artifact was clear, but now it is confirmed that it is a very unique ability that as far as we know, only John and Makee have.

In Core Canon, the ability to interact with Forerunner artifacts is not that rare. In fact, most major characters in the video game series interact with a Forerunner object at some point, including Miranda Keyes, Dr. Halsey, Sgt. Johnson, and Dr. Anders.

Halo TV Series Episode 6 Solace

Master Chief sees the Halo ring in a vision

At the end of episode 6, Master Chief interacts with the artifact once more. This time, it gives him not only vivid visions of his past, but one of the future as well. He sees both himself and Makee on a Halo ring. Was he blinded with its majesty? Paralyzed? Dumbstruck? We’ll only know in the coming episodes.

In the video games, the human race never encountered or even knew about the Halo rings before the events in Halo: Combat Evolved. Cortana knew there was something to be found at those coordinates (which is why she lead the Pillar of Autumn there, instead of doing random slipspace jumps as she says she did when the ship escaped the fall of Reach), but even she was not aware of the ring.  

Episode 7: Inheritance

Madrigal might be a Forerunner installation

As Kwan Ha is is a brand-new character created for the show, and Soren is vastly different from the Soren that only briefly appeared in the Core Canon, most of Episode 7 has no ties to any events that happen in the video games or expanded media. However, one interesting thing caught our attention. During Kwan’s vision with the mystics, she sees one of her ancestors interacting with a Monitor. It’s the first glimps of a monitor in the Silver Timeline, so we are yet to learn what that means.

In Core Canon however, Monitors are often tasked to servicing and maintaining important Forerunner installations, such as the Halo array. If that’s also true for the Silver Timeline, it might mean Madrigal is a Forerunner Installation, probably a shield world similar to Onyx and Requiem. Who knows what secrets Madrigal might house?

Halo TV Series Monitor Episode 7

Episode 8: Allegiance

Fleetcom HQ is based in Reach City

As John-117 and Makee stroll trough the park, we learn the city we’ve now seen multiple times is actually called ‘Reach City’. In Core Canon, there is no mention of a city called that on Reach. Most important events take place in or around a city called New Alexandria. This city is the home of Fleetcom HQ, and a playable level in Halo Reach. It was also an important military target for the Covenant during the Fall of Reach, and was ultimately glassed. We’re about to learn if Reach City will suffer the same faith.

Captain Keyes is quite high up in the chain of command

When the UNSC receives message that Agade, a city on the colony world Criterion, is glassed, Admiral Parangosky tells Captain Keyes to contact Admiral Whitcomb and send help to the planet. Keyes disagrees and refuses to do so, which seems strange as Parangosky outranks him. Apparently, this version of Captain Keyes is very much respected and can even argue with an admiral.

In Core Canon, Captain Keyes is also very much respected, but in the end he is a captain. During his career, he commanded several ships, most notably the Pillar of Autumn, but never commanded entire fleets or was in any position to argue with Fleetcom.

Halo TV Series Episode 8 Allegiance

Master Chief has a ‘girlfriend’

When Makee and John get intimate, Halsey remarks that ‘John has a girlfriend’ and finds this so ‘ordinary’ for him.

This i a big change from Core Canon, where Master Chief was always a stoic and solitary soldier. He shares a deep relation with Cortana and with some Spartans, most notably Blue Team, but was never romantically involved with anyone.

It kind of makes sense however, as the Master Chief from the video games never countered his augmentations or indoctrination, while the Master Chief from the TV Series physically removed the pellet that suppresses his emotions. Now that he is free of the pellet, he can feel emotions and live his life like any normal person. As we’ve seen with Soren-066, he should even be able to reproduce.

‘Emperor’ Halsey initiates Zed Protocol

In an attempt to regain control over her research, Dr. Halsey initiates Zed Protocol, an Order 66-esque override that enables her to take direct control of the Spartans, overruling any order from the UNSC.

Dr. Halsey never had such protocols at her disposal in the Core Canon. Halsey always seemed to be willing to do anything in order to achieve her goals, even going in against the UNSC command, but she never built in a backdoor to gain control of her Spartan soldiers. Spartans were ultimately loyal to the UNSC.

Halo TV Series Episode 8 Allegiance 2

Spartans are fighting amongst each other

This brings us to the following point: after initiating Zed Protocol, we see Riz and Vannak fighting John, who is later assisted by Kai. It is kind of strange to see Vannak fight John, as he clearly stated early that ‘if they go after Chief, they are not friendlies’. Now he himself is going after Chief.

It’s hard to imagine the Spartan-II’s from the Core Canon fighting amongst each other. They were extremely loyal to each other and forged deep bonds during their training. Especially Chief’s own fireteam, Blue Team, is extremely tight. However, it seems that once again the TV Series pulls a page from Halo 5: Guardians, where we see Spartan Locke fight the Master Chief head on after Chief goes AWOL.

Episode 9: Transcendence (Season Finale)

Halsey faked her own death

Halsey’s dark past finally catches up with her. After she is prosecuted for her for what she done during the Spartan project, she is sentenced to death by Article 72. Halsey however, smart as always, finds a way to escape this ill fate. She puts a flash clone in her place. The flash clone suffers a nosebleeding and seizure shortly after the sentencing, tricking bystanders in thinking Halsey died. Her daughter, Miranda Keyes, sees through this act and ensures there is still a bounty on Halseys head. Halsey is later seen fleeing planet Reach, with just her personal journal by her side.

Halsey did a lot of bad stuff in the Core Canon, but she never faked her own death. However, she was presumed dead right after the fall of Reach. After Jun-A266 evacuated Halsey during the events of Halo Reach, she was trapped beneath the surface of Reach for a long time. It was only after John-117 returned to Reach that she was saved. In the mean time, she and all the other survivors were presumed dead. There’s even a plaque on ONI HQ in Halo 3: ODST commemorating Halsey.

Halo TV Series Differences Explained Episode 9

Silver Team takes the fight to the Covenant

In a daring attempt to retrieve both keystones, Silver Team embarks on a mission straight to a holy planet of the Covenant. John, the other Spartans, and Fleetcom believe it is the only way to find Halo and win the war. Thus, the four Spartans reunite and take a Condor straight into an uncharted starsystem, hoping to find what they are looking for.

This endeavor reminds us of Operation Red Flag, a mission the UNSC had planned in 2552 right before the fall of Reach in the Core Canon timeline. The idea was to launch an attack at High Charity, the holy city of the Covenant, and take one of the Prophets hostage to give humanity some leverage in the war. The mission would have been carried out by all available Spartans, guided by Cortana. Operation Red Flag was never carried out because the Covenant struck first at Reach. All availabe Spartans had to partake in the defense of the planet and were scattered. Master Chief ended up alone at the Pillar of Autumn, the only ship that was able to flee the battle and ultimately find the first Halo.

Cortana takes over John’s body

In a desperate attempt to capture the keystones and save his team, John asks Cortana to take over his body. Combining Cortana and John will, according to Halsey, create the best of all of us. After John gives Cortana control, Master Chief fights with lethal precision, killing Grunts and Elites left and right. Cortana even remotely controls a Condor for extra firepower, defeating the Covenant army. Master Chief, now controlled by Cortana, is also able to retrieve the artifact without activating it, and saves Silver Team. At the end, it is unclear whether John is still in there, or not. Well, Spartans never die, do they?

Cortana never took over John’s complete body in the Core Canon, but she is able to interact with John’s brain directly. Thanks to the special Spartan neural interface, Cortana (or any other smart AI for that matter) has access to most of the Mjolnir suit’s internal systems, enabling her to improve a Spartan’s reaction speed. It’s supposed to be one of the reasons John is a greater soldier than any other Spartan, although gameplay doesn’t change when Master Chief and Cortana are separated.

Halo TV Series Differences Explained Season Finale

Atriox dies (presumably)

During the climatic fight, Atriox already took a shot straight to the face, but that only enrages him even more. A few moments later though, he takes a full salvo from a chain gun on board of the Condor that is remotely controlled by Cortana. Sure, we don’t actually see him die, but the way he flies off-screen and drops his signature Gravity Hammer does not bode well for him. Still, it is totally possible that he will return in Season 2, more enraged than ever, longing for revenge at the Demon.

The Atriox in Core Canon is alive and well even by the end of Halo Infinite, which takes place in 2560. But then again, the Atriox in the TV series is very different from the Atriox we know from the video games. In the game universe, after being sick and tired of the Prophet’s lies, Atriox turned his back on the Covenant years before 2552. He then started his own faction called The Banished, the main enemy in Halo Wars 2 and Halo Infinite.

There is no Fall of Reach (yet)

We kind of expected Season 1 to end with the fall of Reach. A big climatic battle on a human planet with the Spartans emerging as the heroes they are seemed to be a fitting end to the first season and would set up a second season revolving around the titular Halo. Instead, the Spartans take the fight to the Covenant and Reach remains unharmed. It might be possible, however, that Makee told the Covenant about the location of Reach. The Covenant will also want to try and get the keystones back, so it makes sense for Season 2 to feature the legendary battle for Reach.

In Core Canon, Reach falls by the end of 2552. The tragic battle is most notably featured in the book Halo: The Fall of Reach and the game Halo Reach. Humanity suffers great losses at Reach and the planet is glassed. Only one ship manages to escape the massacre: the Pillar of Autumn, with on board John-117, Cortana and Captain Keyes. At the start of Halo: Combat Evolved, they stumble upon the very first Halo ringworld.

Halo TV Series Season Finale Ending Explained

This article explaining notable differences between the Halo TV Series and video games was updated continuously during the first season of Halo The Series. The first season of the Halo TV Series is now finished.

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Lars Cornelis

Lars is a game journalist since 2005. He loves virtual adventures and appreciates a good story, whether told through environmental storytelling or deep lore. He has a large collection of books and comics based on his favorite games, like Halo, Assassin's Creed, and Metal Gear Solid.

4 Responses

  1. Thank you, amazing article. I watched the show thinking that the games and books are never existed, is too different. I enjoy the show but is not What I was expecting.

  2. Another difference. Jacob Keyes is Black. He also wears a gray uniform. Miranda is aware that Halsey is her mother. I don’t think she was aware of that in core canon.

    1. She is aware, she even lived with Halsey for a few years! She actually resents her mother because she never really took care for her. That’s also the reason she took her father’s name. Her career path in the TV Series is entirely different from that in the games.

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