Now that Halo has arrived on Paramount Plus, fans are as divided on the series as the UNSC battling the Covenant. Many fans have been waiting for a TV or movie adaptation since the first video game, Halo: Combat Evolved, debuted in 2001. And these hardcore gamers are expecting that the TV series will strictly follow the parameters laid out in the games.
However, as any fan of the James Bond films or Harry Potter series can attest, TV and film adaptations are rarely 100 percent true to their source material. Movies and TV shows are different mediums, and changes are made all the time for a number of reasons, whether it's not being able to make something work production-wise or just wanting to add something different to the universe.
After all, a TV series has to offer something viewers haven't seen before. It also has to appeal to people who may not know anything about the games. So is the Halo show true to the games, or is it a completely different entity like the disastrous Street Fighter movies that you tried to forget?
Does the 'Halo' TV show follow the games?
The Halo TV series stays true to the fundamentals of the game's setting, plot, and characters. However, it also makes a few significant changes, and introduces two characters who are unique to the show. Kwan Ha (played by Yerin Ha), the teenage rebel who crosses paths with Master Chief, and Covenant member Makee (Charlie Murphy) do not appear in the games.
Game characters who do appear in the series include Dr. Catherine Halsey, Captain Jacob Keyes, their daughter Miranda Keyes, Admiral Margaret Parangosky, and of course Master Chief's loyal AI companion Cortana. Cortana is voiced by Jen Taylor, the same actress who has provided her voice for all the Halo video games, although the character has been redesigned.
Details in the Halo pilot also suggest the show's plot will follow game canon. The series takes place in the year 2252, which in the games is the penultimate year of the Human-Covenant War. By setting the show during this time, Season 1 can potentially incorporate several critical events in game canon like the fall of Reach.
But there's one massive difference that everyone's been talking about — Master Chief removing his helmet in the show. The games never showed the character's face clearly, although Master Chief did take off his helmet in the Halo 4 epilogue. However, there was only black underneath unless the player finished the campaign in Legendary mode, and even then, fans only got a partial view.
Some Halo purists are upset about Master Chief's unmasking; however, it makes much better sense for the TV show. The show is a third-person experience as opposed to the game's first-person view, meaning that viewers aren't supposed to be seeing through the character's eyes. Instead, looking into his eyes creates the visual (and emotional) connection that a TV series needs to captivate its audience.
Is the 'Halo' TV show canon?
Okay, so Halo doesn't exactly follow along with the games. But is it considered part of Halo canon? Microsoft executive Kiki Wolfkill, who serves as an executive producer on the franchise, explained that video game fans don't have to follow along with the show — yet. There's a chance that some of the TV characters like Kwan Ha could find their way into future Halo games.
"If it makes sense for them to go into the game space or vice versa, all of that is open," Wolfkill said during an interview at SXSW. "We have a little bit of a chronology difference [between the two]. So, with that in mind, there's definitely room for that to happen in the future, if it's additive to the game or vice versa."
Paramount Plus' Halo series officially takes place in the "Halo Silver Timeline," which means that it's in a separate continuity from the video games. Again, it sounds wrong but is actually a great idea, because the TV show can tell stories without worrying about spoiling or affecting the games, and the games don't have to wait for the show. Think of it like the Marvel Cinematic Universe versus Marvel comic canon.
So, while the Halo show is a separate entity, it's doing everything reasonably possible to stay true to the game. The aspects it has changed are to make it a new adventure for die-hard fans and first-time viewers alike.
Halo streams Thursdays on Paramount Plus.