What is Canon and Why Does it Matter?[edit source]

Media described as canon is media which is considered to contribute to the fictional universe of the Halo franchise. In order to be considered canon, a piece of media must meet two requirements. The first is that it must be official, in the sense that it must have been created by or licensed by one of the two caretakers of the Halo franchise, during the time when said studio was a caretaker: 343 Industries (2007 to present) and Bungie LLC (up until 2010). As such, fan-made content such as A Fistful of Arrows would not be considered canon. Secondly, the piece of media must not be satirical or posed as a joking, light-hearted interpretation of the Halo universe. One example of official media which is considered non-canon by this second rule would be Odd One Out.

Halo Alpha maintains a strict policy on how media should be documented, entirely based on whether the media is canon or not. Only cited information from canon sources should be added to articles on in-universe (i.e. canonical) subjects. Official media that is considered non-canon is still afforded pages documenting it and its content, but these must be marked with the {{Not Canon}} banner at the top of every such page. Non-canon media not created or licensed by 343 Industries or Bungie are, in most cases, not documented at all. Those that are are allowed no more than a page about the piece of media itself, and cannot be mentioned in any other pages.

In short, Halo Alpha exists only to document official, canon Halo media, and as such only information from canon sources should be added to articles. Non-canon media should not be mentioned at all except in a few special circumstances, described above.

The Canon Hierarchy[edit source]

In a fictional universe as vast as Halo's, which is contributed to by a multitude of different writers, inconsistencies and errors are almost inevitable and indeed, some have already emerged. In such cases, it is important to distinguish which of the conflicting sources is considered to be correct and which source is mistaken. For this purpose, Halo Alpha's 'Canon Hierarchy' has been devised. Canonical media which is higher up in the hierarchy takes precedent over media lower than it if a conflict arises. It is important to note that the position of a piece of media on the hierarchy does not make it 'superior' or 'inferior' canon; all pieces of canonical media are just that - canon - but some simply overrule others in the rare case that inconsistencies occur.

From highest to lowest priority, the Canon Hierarchy is as follows:

  1. Statements issued by 343 Industries writers: The writers of the Halo games have access to the Halo Story Bible, and are the ones who make important decisions about the fictional world of Halo. As such, they have the most up-to-date and reliable information. All public communications, such as posts on forums or social media, count as canon as long as they relate to the Halo universe. The blog series Canon Fodder, Halo Waypoint forum user Catalog and the Halo Waypoint Universe section all also fall under this category. Note that offhand comments from the writers should be verified first, as they could simply be jokes.

  2. Non-gameplay elements of the Halo games: Halo is, first and foremost, a video game franchise, and as such its video games are considered the most reliable source of canon after the writers themselves. Cutscenes, dialogue, collectibles (excluding gameplay-related ones such as Skulls) and lore-related aesthetic details in the levels are all included in this category. Most things which aren't player-determinate are including this category. However, the majority of easter eggs are not, besides those which are clearly an established part of the universe.

  3. Halo extended universe media: EU media is often written by external writers who are less familiar with the universe than the games' writers. Hence, EU media is slightly more likely to contain errors than the games, and so is below games in the hierarchy. That said, such media is created under the direct oversight of the writers, and so is still considered an excellent source of canon information. This category includes any officially-licensed media that is set in or based around the universe such as the novels, comics, animated films, live-action movies and encyclopedic works based on the fiction.

  4. Supplementary Halo media: Supplementary media is anything that is created to provide insight on the franchise, or an entry in the franchise, rather than be a standalone addition to it. This includes game manuals, game guide books, art books and behind-the-scenes documentaries. Such media rarely contains anything pertinent to the fictional universe, but where it does, it is considered canon.

  5. Official Halo merchandise: Over the years, several lines of officially-licensed Halo toys and action figures have been released. These rarely contain any information relevant to the Halo universe, but where they do, it is considered canonical. Note that in some cases, such as with the Quad Walker, Kestrel and Seige Bike, what the toys depict is considered canon but artistic liberties were taken with their visual design, and so that particular aspect of is not canonical.

  6. Marketing material: Marketing material is canonical, but also is often created during the development of the games, and so is based off of content that is not finalised. Hence, marketing materials are liable to be inaccurate lore-wise, and so are very low in the hierarchy. It is important to note that some events depicted in marketing materials are given in-universe explanations, such as A Hero Falls, which was confirmed in Hunt the Truth to have been an ONI cover-up to hide the fact he'd gone AWOL from the general public.

  7. Gameplay elements of the Halo games: Gameplay in the Halo games is often not representative of the universe, as the goal of the developers was to create an enjoyable game, not a create an experience true-to-lore. Many things, such as weapon balancing and gameplay mechanics, are not representative of canon as they were instead designed to be fun and fair. For instance, the fact that a SPARTAN-II can flip an overturned Elephant in Halo 3 does not mean they have the strength to do so canonically. Note that Halo Alpha also documents gameplay information, albeit separately from information about the universe.

  8. Statements issued by former contributors to the franchise, on their own work: In regards to in-universe subjects related to their own work, the statements of authors of any Halo media are considered canon, due to the fact he/she knows what the intention of each detail was. However, it is low in the hierarchy because anything not implicitly stated in the piece of media is subject to change at the whim of the current writers in charge of the franchise.

  9. Real-world information: The fictional Halo universe is an extension of our own, set 500 years in our future. Hence, all real-world events that have happened are also canon to the Halo universe, but are usually so far removed from the events depicted in the franchise that they are irrelevant and not worthy of a page. Such information is the least reliable source of canon, since Halo universe is fictional, and could take liberaties with historical facts.

Also of pertinence are the following notes:

  • In cases where the above hierarchy does not resolve an issue (such as if the inconsistency is between two games), then newer pieces of media are considered more reliable than older ones. For example, the Halo 2: Anniversary rendition of the Gravemind is considered canon, rather than its Halo 2 appearance.
  • One piece of media not featuring or mentioning an event, object or person that another includes (for example Alpha Base from Halo: The Flood not featuring in Halo: CE) is not a contradiction, unless the piece implies that said event, object or person could not have happened/been present.
  • If a single piece of media contradicts several other pieces of media which it takes precedence over, it may be a mistake rather than a deliberate retcon. Ideally, such cases would be resolved by seeking clarification from a 343 Industries writer, although this is usually not possible, and so you should take the matter to the administration, who will discuss it and decide on the best course of action.
  • Deleted material from the Halo games is not considered canon, as it does not feature in the canonical, released version. The only exception to this rule is when such deleted content is referenced by canonical media, as is the case with Sharquoi in Halo 2's Conversations from the Universe booklet and in Halo: Envoy. Deleted material is classed as anything cut during development, which is not accessible in-game without using mods.
  • Concept art is not considered canonical, however illustrations such as those in Halo Mythos or the Blitz artwork from Halo Wars 2 are canonical.

The Halo Alpha Canon Hierarchy was decided on by the Halo Alpha administration, in order to deal with any inconsistencies that might present themselves. Although it is based on official sources on the subject, it is not an official resource itself and so should not be considered as such.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.