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The Biggest Concerns Fans Have About The Upcoming Halo TV Series

Tossed around for years from Peter Jackson to Steven Spielberg, from Showtime to Paramount Plus, the long-awaited big-budget "Halo" adaptation is finally here. The latest trailer (via YouTube) gives us the biggest look at the series yet and announced a drop date of March 24 on Paramount+. As the premiere date draws near, many gamers can't wait, but the number of concerned "Halo" fans voicing their worry about the show's direction is increasing. 

The upcoming show won't be the first time fans get to see an official live-action take on "Halo" — "Forward Unto Dawn" was a 2012 web series that coincided with the release and promotion of "Halo 4." But Paramount's "Halo" series is the conclusion to years of production woes and rumors, finally putting a large budget behind bringing Master Chief to the screen. With such a troubled history, fans are starting to wonder if this will be the dream project they've waited for or a cheap cash-in on brand recognition. It might seem like hand-wringing, but these are some of the most legitimate concerns we've heard about the upcoming "Halo" TV series.

The show will exist in a separate canon

Set in the early years of the war between humans and the Covenant, the upcoming Paramount+ show is technically a prequel to the "Halo" games. However, it was recently revealed that the show exists in a separate timeline and canon from the video games (via Collider). This means that while the show is a prequel to "Halo: Combat Evolved" and "Halo: Reach," events will potentially diverge from the timeline fans know.

This splinter of the timeline is called the "Halo Silver Timeline," and it differs from the main canon, according to Kiki Wolfkill, the studio head for transmedia at 343 Industries. Wolfkill said (via Twitter) they are doing this as "a way of differentiating it from core canon and both protecting core canon and protecting the television story... to give ourselves the chance to evolve both and for both to be what they need to be for their mediums without colliding with each other."

Paramount Plus doesn't have a good track record of original programming

In the competitive streaming space, we have to admit that Paramount+ has yet to make a name for itself. The service doesn't have an especially large selection of original programming yet, and the original content it has produced has yet to set the entertainment world on fire.

The important thing to remember about Paramount's "new" streaming service is that it is effectively a rebranding of CBS All Access, the company's subscription service that was around from 2014 until 2021. A majority of the exclusive content on Paramount+ is still from the All Access era, and the best shows are reboots of popular CBS shows, like "Star Trek: Discovery" and Jordan Peele's remake of "The Twilight Zone." The CBS All Access remake of Stephen King's "The Stand" is one of the more interesting offerings and was still met with pretty poor reception (via Rotten Tomatoes.) If sci-fi is your thing, but you've been let down by the latest "Star Trek" offerings, Paramount is hoping that "Halo" can bring you back in. But based on the company's track record, its chances of success are uncertain at best.

The show has a troubled production history

"Halo" has taken a long time to come about. And not just in its current iteration — the ideas for a "Halo" movie go back to a canceled Peter Jackson project that began in 2006. Since then, "Halo" has been passed from creative to creative, network to network, and has only now found a home. That unfortunate production history set the stage for a troubled production at Paramount. In addition to COVID-19 related delays, both of the series showrunners left at different points during the creation of the 1st season (via IGN). Showrunner Kyle Killen left in 2020 before the season went into production, and while the remaining showrunner Steven Kane stayed for the season, he has since announced he is leaving after the 1st season is finished.

The process to turn the "Halo" IP into a prestige streaming show began in 2013. With Steven Spielberg's name attached, this "Halo" project was set to premiere on Showtime in 2015. And then it didn't. As recently as 2018, the show was still set to air at Showtime, and Spielberg was still reportedly involved (via VG247). So when the show was announced for release on the newer Viacom streaming platform, Paramount+, the skepticism was rightly deserved.

The first look at Master Chief is getting mixed responses

The first teaser for the upcoming "Halo" show gave fans a taste of what is to come (via YouTube), and it saved its most striking image for last — actor Pablo Schreiber in Master Chief's iconic Mjolnir armor. But though his helmet and suit are reminiscent of Bungie's classic "Halo" design, some fans aren't convinced it looks like the real thing.

While some fans on the Halo subreddit had positive things to say about the suit and overall production design of the show, others weren't as happy. A sentiment echoed by a couple of fans (per Reddit) is that the suit "looks like plastic." That's definitely not the response a majority are having, but these fans have a right to be concerned. Even in an era of prestige TV, budgets on a series like "Halo" are still lower than they would be as a Hollywood production. Gamers used to Marvel-level productions and the shiny new graphics of "Halo Infinite" may end up being disappointed that this show won't be on the same level visually.

The most recent trailer that dropped during the AFC Championship game showed more of Chief in action, and for the first time, we got to hear his voice. Still, fans don't seem entirely on board with that part, either.

Steve Downes will not be voicing Master Chief

While the armor reveal was met with a tempered response from the "Halo" fanbase, it's at the very least faithful to the original design. Given Master Chief's stoicism, there is really only one other major defining characteristic fans have come to know him by. That, of course, is his low masculine rumble of a voice, always speaking in stolid witticisms and one-line affirmations.

The voice of Chief has been one man since the beginning. In an interview with Tomorrow Comes Movies, voice actor Steve Downes said he was discovered by "Halo" composer Marty O'Donnell and chosen to be the voice of Master Chief after O'Donnell heard him in his only other video game performance, a 1999 game called "Septerra Core." Since then, Downes has been the voice of Chief in all the games in which the character appears, and fans on the "Halo" subreddit are concerned that he will not be voicing Chief in the upcoming Paramount+ show. Surely, this iconic element of the character being absent will make it harder for fans to transition to the new portrayal of the legendary video game character.

After hearing actor Pablo Schreiber do his take on Cheif's iconic timbre, plenty of vocal fans aren't buying it. One Reddit user said, "As soon as it wasn't Steve Downes iconic voice coming out of that helmet, it just ripped me right out of it." Another mostly positive fan goes as far as to say their "only real issue is Chief's voice."

Fans already hate the decision to include a human character raised by the Covenant

The biggest liberty the show's new canonical timeline is taking is in the character of Makee. This new addition is already loathed by fans online, even from just the description of the character alone. Makee is a human girl who was orphaned at an extremely young age and raised by the Covenant. She has been raised to be resentful of her own people, humans, which is definitely a different perspective than anything we've seen in the games. "Peaky Blinders" actress Charlie Murphy is playing this new character in the show, and we got a glimpse of her in the most recent trailer. The trailer spends short moments introducing Makee by showing her and playing voice-over that confirms her allegiance to the Covenant. This possibly sets her up as a primary or side antagonist for Master Chief in the show. 

Fans on the "Halo" subreddit are wholly opposed to this character, even just as a concept. User TheeConnieB said (via Reddit), "The covenant raising a human is hilariously stupid." After watching the most recent trailer, Reddit user Brooksthebrook posted a comment related to the character, saying, "I really do not like the idea of humans being included in the classical covenant. It makes more sense in something like the Banished, but not here." (The Banished is the new faction of aliens introduced in 343's most recent game, "Halo Infinite.")

Fans are concerned about how Cortana looks

One concern that was brought to light following the reveal of most of the main characters is centered around Cortana. While the show brings back the series Cortana voice actress Jen Taylor to voice Chief's AI companion in the show, fans are not pleased with how she looks. 

The internet is freaking out over Cortana's new, more human look. Gone are the pixelated blues and purples "Halo" gamers are used to seeing. Instead, Cortana looks more like a regular human, only airbrushed beyond all recognition, giving her design the slightly artificial glean that defines her as an AI. Fans of the subreddit are not pleased and even devoted an entire thread to bashing Cortana's new look. The top comment simply reads, "Make her blue, you cowards." Another hilarious comment in the replies says, "I'd settle for her not looking like she's fresh outta Whoville." It seems like this will be yet another jarring visual element that prevents hardcore "Halo" fans from getting on board with Paramount's upcoming show. 

Fans worry that the CGI Covenant won't be believable

The amount of money spent on this show now is estimated to border on $200 million (via PC Gamer). Even compared to some of the most expensive scenes in TV production history, this budget is no slouch. Still, it's no Marvel or DC movie, so perhaps fans are setting their expectations a bit high, and some have suspicions that the effects in the Paramount+ show won't be up to snuff.

Regardless of budget, though, this concern makes sense given the streaming platform's track record. Reddit user BOB_Ross03 has the top comment in a thread full of fans voicing their concerns, saying, "My biggest concern is how good the CGI covenant will look." It appears hundreds of "Halo" diehards have the same worry.

After the first full trailer, some fans are still unhappy with the production values they are seeing. The two-minute trailer showed off Elites and Jackals but kept most of the footage to quick-moving action sequences, so we only got a good look at a Covenant face. After seeing it, one fan said (per Reddit), "If this is the standard for the CGI and production value for this show, then count me out."

Grunts might be lacking the personality they are known for

Considering the fandom's initial response to the Elites, concerns about Covenant CGI are pretty well-founded. This next one, too, is slightly suspicious: We haven't seen any Grunts, even though the series is going to be heavily focused on the Covenant war. Despite being the lowest warrior on the Covenant totem pole, the personality of the Grunt is an iconic part of the "Halo" vibe. They are as essential to "Halo" as Master Chief, the MA5B Assault rifle, and Warthogs.

In all the "Halo" games, the Grunts are known for their high-pitched battle cries and screams of terror as they ambush and then run away from Master Chief. The Grunts add humor to the firefights — they are cocky one second and frantic the next and are known for calling Chief "the demon." If the Grunts lack these distinctive personality traits, then the depiction of the Covenant in the upcoming show will fall flat for a lot of "Halo" fans. 

Some fans say making a show about Chief is a mistake

It is unsurprising that Master Chief is the focus of the first big "Halo" adaptation. The Spartan is the face (or more accurately, helmet) of the franchise, and from a marketing perspective, putting him front and center is the best way to get the most eyeballs on the Paramount+ series. But the fact that it will give the show the broadest appeal doesn't necessarily mean it is the best creative decision. In fact, some fans agree that Chief may not be the best choice for the protagonist of a TV show.

For starters, the character of Master Chief is fairly one-dimensional in the games. He is more of a vessel for the player to inhabit and is cool in order to make the player feel cool. One Reddit user says, "If you see his face and see him interact like a regular character, it kind [of] defeats who/what M[a]ster chief is."

Another fan in the thread gives the example of "Star Wars" to illustrate why it's important to expand your universe beyond a handful of characters. Master Chief has been explored to great depth in the games, and more so the books, so there isn't a whole lot of potential to tell fans a story they haven't heard before.