What If Master Chief Is Black?

by / Monday, 30 April 2012 / Published in Gaming
Halo's Master Cheif (close up)

The whole ship is collapsing and Master Chief is napping on the job… Not saying that’s what a black man does, but he was awfully calm when he woke up to find his ship in ruins. He quickly picks up his digital girlfriend and rolls out like a boss. Cocks his gun (no pun intended) one time to let you know it just got real. True Story.

Just got back from the video store (Yeah, I know right… who still uses them? LOL). A long time acquaintance (who works there) and I was talking shop, we got into a conversation about black protagonists in recent video games.

After acknowledging our favorites in recent times…

  • Prototype 2’s James Heller
    Prototype 2 James Heller
  • Starhawk’s Emmett Graves
    Starhawk's Emmett Graves
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’s Carl Johnson
    San Andreas: Carl Johnson
(In my opinion) These 3 men are the most interesting and satisfying to see portrayed as protagonist in major game titles.

…he asked “What if Master Chief is a black man?” (I’m stunned so I paused) What an intriguing idea I thought. No one expects him to be a black, including me.

Before I go on… Let me say this, I love and appreciate Halo and I absolutely respect gamers who make it look so easy; because I suck more than a goldfish at Halo. That’s why I say…

The simple thought of Master Chief being a black  made me say “I might actually consider trying harder to play Halo” LOL. Why? Because I’m a campaign guy and therefore I play to learn all I can about how the protagonist is portrayed. For instance… Is he mean, does he have heart, can you trust him, is he tough, does he have family, how does his family feel about him, does he have kids, etc.?

It’s not often that you’ll see a black protagonist in a major game title but when it happens, the game seems to have an extra flair because of a shift to the unexpected, accompanied with the anticipation of the unknown (like what I mentioned a second ago).

Entertainment Publishers are undoubtedly taking a chance when going with an non-caucasian protagonist; no matter the race or genre. It’s probably because opinions are fickle and change with the wind. Fortunately, the gaming community is a more liberal and have embraced black protagonists as you’ve seen in recent times.

That being said, back to the question…

“What if Master Chief was a black man?”. The answer is… We don’t know, but we do know it would be 2 enormous reveals:

  1. OMG, Master Chief removed his helmet
  2. OMG, Master Chief is black

The day this happens I think the internet will break… for at least a day. What do you think?

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  • Jack

    Hi guy. Just came across this thread. Just completed halo 4 on legendary and it shows (a small amount of the chief’s face) as white. I’m pretty disappointed that 343 actually showed him at all.

    • Erskin Hansen

      Hi Jack, thanks for sharing. I agree, the mystery of Master Chief was more intriguing. Maybe they saw the reaction to this post on N4G and wanted to fan the flames of the debate.

  • JakeyMB

    It makes sense for him to be fair skinned with brown hair and freckles. Those are pretty much the typical traits of a white boy, albeit racist, it’s probably the description of the majority of people who purchased Halo book lore.

    Then again I like this N4G comment better:
    “I always thought he was either chocolate vanilla swirl or the darth vader type.”
    That deep voice had to come from somewhere.

    • Erskin Hansen

      LOL, good point JakeyMB.

  • Zjet

    also to add

    Spartans come from all racial backgrounds,

    the books also quite clearly say they have hispanic, african american, indian, native american, soldiers in their ranks.

    which makes them awesome.

  • Zjet

    Ok i saw this article on N4G and joined up to just reply,

    as much as i love other amazing black protagonists.

    Master Chief John 117 is WHITE


    If you read the extended universe of the HALO universe

    it quite clearly explains he has pale white skin, and has freckles and brown hair, this is explained in THE FALL OF REACH by Eric Nyland


    the fall of reach has been made into a graphic novel,

    QUITE CLEARLY showing that master chief is indeed a fair skinned boy with frekcles,

    these are entirely 100% accurate and are CONSIDERED HALO CANON,

    The Halo universe goes far beyond just the games, people who havent read these fantasticly written books are missing out,

    i’d highly reccommend that you read them. especially consdiering halo 4 will be referencing a lot of these. you wil see the games in a different light after you read them, the covenant are humanised also

    IN SHORT John 117 is fair skinned WHITE MALE.

    • Erskin Hansen

      Thanks for your input Zjet. I really want to believe you because you’re speaking with passion and conviction, but I’ll have to read the novel for myself or get confirmation for others who’ve actually read what you’re saying; and can verify it “word for word”. I never professed to have read Halo novels, I just never heard anyone confirm Master Chief’s identity or his race. You’d think that information would be easy to find with a simple Google search, but its not. Hence the speculation that made this post possible.

      But to your credit… I went looking for your “John 117″ and found this Halo wiki site with HALO CANON cred on it. It describes Master Chief and even shows a picture of him as a young boy. … Touche.

      The illustration makes the boy to appear white, so I’ll agree with you to a point. But as I start looking for other confirming data, I can’t find any. More specifically, the charted description of Master Chief has the following: Spartan Tag, Homeworld, Birthdate, Gender, Height, Weight, Cybernetics, Affiliation, Rank, Speciality, Battles, and Class. Everything except his race. We might have to find Donald Trump to request his “long form” birth certificate LOL.

      All that leaves me to believe is Master Chief can take on any race Microsoft wants to because that picture doesn’t prove he’s white. It proves he’s light skinned and “could” be white; having hair too short to make a plausible claim in either direction.

      btw, its “Eric Nylund”

      • Zjet

        I am aware of the authors surname, was a typo as i didn’t know the spelling off by heart, but considering i have read them all i think thats ok.

        Indeed, i agree it would be neat to see a black protagonist, i personally love Johnson hes my favourite character of the entire series, Contact Harvest is all about him and is a great read.

        The arbiter is Voiced by the amazing Kieth David, also a black voice actor,

        he also voices anderson in Mass Effect, and Julius in Saints row, both amazing roles.

        I for one hope they don’t show master chiefs face, i think after you have been playing a game series and involving yourself in something so much

        whether you are a casual player, or someone like myself who likes to sink oneself into the canon, a part of you takes ownership of it, and if 343 or whoever reveals the proper adult face of the chief you will ruin it for some people,

        i think the legend behind the helmet is far too great to be given a face. The scale of master cheifs legacy should be kept that way. If you reveal it, no matter how good you will do it, what race, what features it will ruin it for some fans unforunately.

        This is my opinion however.

        • Erskin Hansen

          Master Chief has been an phantom silhouette for so long that I can see how people might be distraught over a reveal; especially when (internally) creating their own mental image of him. That being the case, maybe his identity is his “mask and suit”, without it he may no longer be Master Chief.

  • colbyrules8

    Is this even a legit website?

    Master Chief is 100% white, get over it. If you actually knew how to read you would of already known by now that he is , in fact, white. It is clearly stated a few times throughout the books and I’ve never met a black guy with red hair and pale white skin…..

    • Erskin Hansen

      I’m not sure what you need to see to verify our legitimacy, but I’m sure you’ll let us know…

      1) Can you show us any official record where Master Chief is described as “White”?
      2) Sorry you’ve never seen a black person resembling that description, but here in the U.S. Virgin Islands you’re sure to come across Red Haired, Freckle-Faced Black men any day of the week. (A simple Google search will prove this fact)
      3) Being Pale doesn’t mean “White”, it means weak-pigment; which can be because he’s always in a suit… like someone who spends their life indoors.

      The long held descriptions of Master Chief creates an assumption that Master Chief is white, but at the same time leaves just enough room for him to be black, or any other race.