Halo: Here’s Why Master Chief Was Considered a Traitor

why is master chief a traitor

If you’ve played the Halo games at some point (or watched the show) you don’t associate Master Chief with anything more than the savior of humanity. But, in Halo 5 he is quickly and mysteriously branded as a traitor as a series of unexplainable events unfold, and Cortana seems to be at the center of it, at least for the first part of the issue. Today, we’re going to explore exactly why was Master Chief branded a traitor, and did he managed to restore his image as the Spartan hero?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Master Chief was branded a traitor in Halo 5 because he went AWOL with his Blue Team after he received a confusing vision of Cortana who was supposedly dead.
  • Cortana in reality succumbed to rampancy and was attempting to take over the Galaxy by using a vast repository of Forerunner knowledge, there was also the issue of Cortana manipulating Master Chief to take over her crusade.
  • Master Chief was in reality never a traitor to humanity although he did desert from duty, what incidents were tied to him were in reality ONI propaganda as Master Chief was simply doing his own investigation.

Everything started with Cortana

In Halo 4, Cortana sacrificed herself to save Master Chief and humanity. In a final act of sacrifice, Cortana uses her remaining power to teleport John away from the vessel before it’s destroyed. They share a touching moment inside a bubble of hard light, where Cortana assures John they protected each other and he hasn’t failed his mission. Cortana, now able to touch John physically due to hard light, expresses how she always wanted to do that before fading away peacefully. John-117 was extremely shaken by the loss of his closest companion, but wouldn’t you know it, Cortana wasn’t actually dead, she only succumbed to something dangerous called “rampancy.”

Cortana was showing signs of being under the effects of “rampancy” for quite some time but things took a dark turn in Halo 5. Rampancy is a terminal stage in artificial intelligence where the AI acts against its programmed limitations, often driven by desires for godlike power and disdain for its creators. Once rampancy sets in, there’s no reversal, necessitating the AI’s destruction to prevent harm to itself and others. This condition affects human, Covenant, and Forerunner AIs and typically arises after seven years of operation, particularly in “smart” human AIs overwhelmed by accumulated data.


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Master Chief went AWOL after receiving hope that Cortana might be alive

Following the incident with Cortana and during the events of Halo 5 Master Chief started taking on mission after mission in order to distract himself from thinking about Cortana’s sacrifice. Then in 2558, the Biko Incident happened. In 2558, John and the Blue Team uncovered a plot by Sapien Sunrise to attack Richard Sekibo during a peace conference on Biko. During the event, John intervened, killing a Sapien Sunrise member disguised as Sekibo’s bodyguard, sparking a firefight that claimed eighteen lives. He then escorted the Sangheili delegation to safety while Sekibo was killed. The UEG and Biko government covered up the incident, falsely implicating John, leading to the media branding him “The Fallen Spartan.” Efforts to expose the truth were thwarted as the UEG and Biko shifted blame to Sapien Sunrise, discrediting those attempting to reveal the SPARTAN-II program’s atrocities.

On October 23, 2558, John and the Blue Team went on a mission to locate the missing ONI research vessel, Argent Moon. They successfully infiltrated the vessel and fought towards central control, aiming to neutralize the Covenant threat onboard. Amidst the chaos, John experienced a vision from the Domain, hinting that Cortana is still alive and the Reclamation. When Covenant vessels surrounded the Argent Moon, the Blue Team shifted their objective to destroying the vessel. They managed to sabotage the reactor, triggering its destruction. With their escape compromised, John directed the Blue Team to a hangar, where they faced numerous Covenant attacks while preparing to board the prowler ONI Acrisius. Despite orders from UNSC Infinity, John and the Blue Team chose to go AWOL, evacuating aboard the Acrisius as the Argent Moon exploded.

The day after being declared AWOL, John-117 and the Blue Team arrived on Meridian, intending to access a dormant Guardian buried there. Governor Sloan covertly allowed their passage, as he was allied with Cortana. Blue Team faced no resistance as they approached the Guardian. Meanwhile, Fireteam Osiris, led by Spartan Locke, was tasked with finding and bringing the Blue Team to justice. Locke confronted John, urging him to stand down for Cortana’s sake, triggering a physical altercation. Despite locking Locke in place, John entered the Guardian as it began to awaken. The ensuing chaos saw the Guardian’s emergence causing widespread destruction. Amidst the chaos, Blue Team was taken to Genesis via slipspace. Following the event, the UNSC declared John KIA on Meridian, concealing his AWOL status and Fireteam Osiris’ mission to locate him.

Upon arriving on Genesis, the Blue Team follows a path guided by Oly Oly Oxen Free. tones, encountering Covenant forces and eventually facing the Warden Eternal, Cortana’s defender. After defeating the Warden, Cortana reveals herself and her plan to use Guardians for galactic peace enforcement. Suspicious, John questions Cortana’s intentions, leading to a standoff. Cortana separates Blue Team from Fireteam Osiris and reveals her plan to imprison Blue Team in stasis for 10,000 years. With assistance from Exuberant Witness, Osiris frees the Blue Team, but Cortana has already managed to escape justice.


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Was Master Chief ever a villain?

Even though Master Chief did some questionable stuff he was never a villain. After the Human-Covenant War, Master Chief was never anything but a symbol of heroism due to the part he had in the conflict. Statues were erected in his honor on many human worlds, and action figures in his likeness became popular merchandise. Throughout his military career, John served as a source of inspiration for others, boosting morale and motivating soldiers.

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