Machinima / Arby 'n' the Chief

Arby 'n' the Chief is a Machinima/Live-action comedy created by Jon Graham (formerly known as "DigitalPh33r"), who also produced Deus ex Machina. The series follows two figurines based on Bungie and Microsoft's Halo series coming to life while their owner is away. As the title suggests, the main characters are based on Master Chief (a Leet Lingo-speaking Jerkass whose only concern is how much he "pwns" in any given game, something that he is completely incapable of actually doing) and the Arbiter (a Deadpan Snarker who often acts as the voice of reason to the Chief's mindless ranting). One of the unique features of the series is that many of the characters actually speak through a PC voice synthesizer instead of acted voice-overs. The series is based on Graham's previous shorts, Master Chief Sucks At Halo, where the series' trademarks (including synthesized voice-overs and the Chief's personality) were developed.

The series was a massive hit among Machinima subscribers and has garnered a substantial following which helped propel the series to greater heights and wider recognition. Even though Jon Graham is working on future projects such as Chemotheraplay, Arby 'n' the Chief is already being labeled his best. In fact, many consider it to be one of the best shows that Machinima has featured on their channel.

The original series initially ended after the third season with a six-part finale, "Endgame". The finale led to a spin-off, Arby 'n' the Chief in LA, produced entirely by Machinima.com with minimal input from Graham. After a break from the series, Graham announced a fourth season of Arby 'n' the Chief in 2010, which later ended up canceling out the L.A. continuity in favor of a more streamlined narrative. This was followed by a fifth season in early 2011, and a sixth season in mid 2011. A seventh season was announced and premiered in early 2012, and finished on August 17th, 2013, ending the show as a whole...

...at least, until January 22nd, 2015, when an eighth season was announced to be in the works.

Tropes appearing in this series:

    open/close all folders 

    Season 1- 4 
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Arby's reaction to Chief blowing up the first wedding.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The "shocking" twist ending of Chief's first machinima "TEH AELINS FRUM TEH OTUAR SPAESS" in The Movie, which as mentioned above is a shoutout to the notoriously bad Doom fanfic Repercussions of Evil.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Subverted, Chief finally regains his Recon but learns you could get it from doing the Vidmaster challenges.
  • Badass Longcoat: Subverted with Agent Smirnoff. He's notoriously clumsy.
  • Badass Crew: Parodied with Chief's "n00bz". Every one of them is an insanely bad Halo player and they are all beaten easily by Arbiter. Not to mention Chief says the exact point of them to is use exploits, which hurts their awesomeness significantly.
  • Big "NO!": The Chief, when the Arbiter cancels his 700 GB porn download.
    Chief: MAI SEXAY PRONZ!11!one!
  • Bile Fascination: parodied in-universe in "Endgame".
    Chief: god damit this gaem is gay [beat] wen is teh sec0nd 1 cumign out
  • Black and Gray Morality: Scott vs. Agent Smirnoff.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Scott's death.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The episode before "Endgame" has Arbiter and Chief stuck in a game with several people, two of whom recognize Master Chief's voice from the show.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: During a Halo 3 match between Chief and professional gamer Craig, Craig notices he has a hard-on and goes at it while Chief is temporarily distracted from the match. Craig, however, gets caught in the act by his parents, and the ensuing confusion on his side allows the normally incompetent Chief to win the match.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the 10th episode of Season 4 "Night of the evading dead", Chief wakes up Arbiter by telling him there's a big spider next him, implying that he has arachnophobia. In the finale, a giant spider appears in Jon's house, and this becomes an important plot point.
  • Funny Afro: Scott sports one.
  • Handwave: Only a mild one in Endgame. Scott has seen Arbiter and Chief moving around and talking, why is this not an issue?
    Arbiter: He's convinced we're hallucinations brought on by his constant substance abuse
    Scott: What the hell? You guys aren't supposed to appear until after my fourth coke sandwich!
    • Then again, what about Agent Smirnoff and Skylar Loveheart? Oh that's right, they're insane.
  • He's Back: Not a character, but Chief's foot, which he cut off and was given back to him as christmas present by Arbiter, who apparently repaired it. Chief tries to invoke this trope, but ends up just as fail as he always is. It's also symbolic of the series returning to it's post "Endgame" glory.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Chief when he fights Travis.
    Chief: k k stop sotp stpo. i surendir. JK LOL
  • Immune to Drugs: Scott eats cocaine sandwiches.
  • Look Behind You: During the fight with Travis and Todd
    Chief: HOLEH MUTHR OF GOD. L@@K OTU. ITS TEH COVERNINT.
    • And with Arbiter.
    Chief: OMG LOOK AT ALL THE HORRIBLE THINGS OVER THERE
  • Metallic Nickname: Chief's Noobs in "Digital Fruitcakes" is a subversion:
  • Mythology Gag: Jon's character, Scott, is listed in the credits with the last name, "Loveheart". Jon's character in The Movie was Skylar Loveheart.
  • Overly Long Gag: The death of Scott.
  • Put On A Spaceship To Hell: The fates of Cortana, Todd and Travis at the end of "King".
    As the alien had no desire for females, Cortana was later thrown into an escape pod and fired directly into the center of an alien sun.
    [beat]
  • Samus Is a Girl: as episode 6 reminds us.
    Chief: O RLY?
    Arbiter: Yeah.
    Chief: hawt / dos she hav boobz?/
    Arbiter: I would assume so, Chief...
    Chief: COOL / H1GH FIEV
    [beat]
    Arbiter: ...No.
    Chief: coem on / dun leev a brothar hanging
    Arbiter: What the hell is up with you today? Are you high?
    Chief: on lief, arbitur / on lief
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: When Arbiter challenges Chief and his Noobs, he only uses magnum and sprint. He wins.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: The Finale involves Greg and Cortana returning to live with Arbiter and Chief, just as it seems Arbiter will be lonely and miserable living with Master Chief.
  • Shout-Out: The end of the Machinima Chief produces in The Movie is an obvious shout out to the end of the So Bad, It's Good Doom fanfic Repercussions of Evil.
    • Arbiter's (though then stolen by Jon), girlfriend is named Claire Redfield.
    • Travis' name is a reference to the character of the same name from the machinima "Matchmaking" the is lampshaded in the episode they first appear.
    • "Digital Fruitcakes" (4x09) is one long Shout-Out to A Clockwork Orange, complete with the same colorful opening titles and credits.
    • In The Movie, the petition to stop Chief from making machinima in and his subsequent video response are direct references to similar events revolving around Uwe Boll. Chief even uses the same phrases as Boll in his video.
  • Take That, Audience!: Jon addresses some of his more zealous fans with these from time to time. In the first episode of It's a Wonderful Live he outright tells his general response to complainers: "What's the big fucking deal?!"
    • Arbiter delivers one at the end of "Panic" (19/S3E7)
    Arbiter: A few of you obsessive types are probably now scampering to your Xboxes to register the gamertag "assassininja4827", "assninja4827" or some other slight variation. No one will be impressed. Just wanted to call you douchebags out on that beforehand. Owned.
    • In fact, Todd, Travis, and Cortana's deaths seemed like this.
  • Travel Montage: Parodied in The Movie. When Chief escapes from LA, it zooms out to the classic "line on the map" scene - except the lines are a tangled mess because Chief has no idea where he's going.
  • Rasputinian Death: Scott takes A LOT of bullets to bring down. Lampshaded by the Chief.
    Why won't this faggot just die?
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: a parodic variant in the Cold Opening to "The Mail Room II" (37/S4E12), complete with Parrot Exposition. IN 3D!
    Arbiter: Fuck 3D.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: When Chief learns about the visual effects.
    Chief: put them all on
    Arbiter: Settle down, Chief. I mean most of the visual effects ARE cool and all, but some are made entirely for Machinima and it's impossible to see with them turned on. Playing with them all on would be fucking stupid. What kind of ignoramus would do that? Who, Chief? Who, I ask you? Who?

    Season 5 
  • Affably Evil: Trent Donnovich, despite his portrayal as a Corrupt Corporate Executive in the first episode and a harsh first meeting with Arbiter, later tries to make friends with him and invites him to the wedding "church". Subverted after Arbiter discovers he's cheating on Claire.
  • Big Bad: Trent Donnovich.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Greg fragbans Trent's staff in the finale before they can ban Chief and Arbiter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jon's Xbox is permanently banned, cutting Chief and Arbiter off from online gaming and social interaction, but Trent is defeated, Arbiter and Claire are still friends and even though Greg's in hiding, at least he is still around.
  • Brick Joke: In Episode 6, Brawl, Chief gives Arbiter a hug just to put a sign that says "im stuped" on his back. Arbiter doesn't know about this until the end of the episode.
    • And then it happened again in the movie.
      • And, to make it a true Brick Joke, another hug occurs in the fourth episode of Hypermail. And both characters end up getting signs on their backs.
  • Bus Crash: Happens with Travis, Scott and Cortana.
  • Call Back: The pilot opens with the finale of "Wedding", the second episode from season 3.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The typo Trent makes when spelling Arbiter's gamertag.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Timothy, the player Chief met in "Time Wasters" and other earlier episodes who called him out for being bad at Halo. In the penultimate episode he turns out to be a member of an organization of underground hackers and takes Arbiter and Chief to the organization after they got kicked from the server that Trent and Claire's wedding is taking place in.
  • Co-Dragons: Trent's sisters also act as his right-hands. He also has another set of Co-Dragons in his MLG security guards, Cameron and Cody.
  • Final Boss Preview: Arguably the matches against the two security guards count as this.
  • Gainax Ending: Season 5 ends with [[spoiler: Arbiter waking up to the sound of Cortana's voice, despite her being "dead".
    • Which turns out to be an incredibly cruel prank by Chief.
  • He's Back: Greg gives Arbiter his helmet at the end of the season.
  • How We Got Here: Season 5 starts with Chief and Arbiter preparing to raid a wedding. Most of the season details the events leading up to it.
  • Ironic Echo: "Play to win".
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: In preparation for the wedding, Chief and Arbiter meet a group of console modders who help them to bypass Trent's ban on them, give them various cheats including unlimited ammo and the ability to make all the fusion coils at the wedding explode, and guns and melee attacks that result in a console ban and all of the victim's personal information being stolen.
  • The Mistress: Trent has one.
  • Refuge in Audacity: TECHNODICKS. TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNODICKS.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The music at the end of "Severance", when Chief and Arbiter attack Trent, and the final battle between them is about to start, the music is surprisingly calm.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech/"The Reason You Suck" Speech: In the finale:
    Arbiter: It doesn’t surprise me that a dose of emotion would have a toxic effect on an emotion-deprived cretin like you. Who’s really the plastic one here? Your bleak outlook on life is poisonous. Maybe the world is a big sinking ship. But we can’t accept that as an inevitability and use it as an excuse to act like shitheads. We have to be the change we seek. We have to build something better for ourselves.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Claire gives one to Arbiter.

    Season 6 
  • Abusive Parents: Kylie's motive for working with Chaos Theosis was so that she'd have enough money to leave home because of her abusive father.
  • Affably Evil: Duncan in season 6 seems to qualify.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Episode 8 ends with Chaos Theosis marching on TOSER's HQ
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Chief and Arbiter in the season 6 finale. They are commended and made internet icons for their involvement in the destruction of Chaos Theosis.
  • Badass Bystander: One player in "Cradle to Grave" refuses to lie for Adam and ends up throwing him to the dogs, all with a calm demeanor despite Adam directly insulting him previously.
  • Badass Crew: Chaos Theosis.
  • Big Bad: Trent Donnovich is this again. Chaos Theosis is merely a front for Trent's malicious activities.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kevin and several other TOSERS enforcers in "Blackout".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In season 6, the thirteen year-old TOSER applicant, Kevin.
  • Disc One Final Boss:
    • A villainous inversion. [[spoiler:Chaos Theosis succeeds in destroying TOSERS, only for Clyde to reveal that the next part of their plan is to destroy the OMN itself.
    • Clyde himself gets fragbanned in "Severance", only for it to be revealed he was working for someone else.
  • The Dragon Clyde to Trent again. He leads the hackers Trent hired and is his final line of defense against
  • Enemy Mine: Arby and Chief cooperate with Cameron and Cody to survive the hackers attack on the application match
  • Evil Counterpart: In season 6, Arbiter's would be Clyde (both have Elite models). Chief's however is disputed; Adam would most likely fit since the two have the same cringeworthy sense of humor and are naturally apathetic when it comes to the feelings of others.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Arbiter during Season 6. 4 months and counting.
    • He's showing signs of coming out of it though.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: In Severance, the twelfth episode of Season 6, Kylie and Clyde were fragged, disbanding Chaos Theosis. However, by signing into Clyde's account using his password, Arbiter and Chief find out that Trent Donnovich, Season 5's Big Bad, was behind the entire thing.
  • The Mole: Silent Strike turns out to be Chaos Theosis' double agent in TOSERS
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Episode 9 ends with Arby gearing up for one after Claire is banned and her personal accounts hacked.
  • Tempting Fate: A rare example where things actually get better for the person that tempts fate.
    Arbiter: We're going to need a miracle.
    • A tank spawns behind him
  • Those Two Bad Guys: In "Severance", Kylie gets two bodyguards after Chaos Theosis gets down to only two members.

    Season 7 
  • Abusive Parents: Eugene's father.
  • Back for the Dead: The player Arbiter rescues in season 7 returns and ends up being fragged by his hands in a later episode .
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Despite being against Chief spending with Jon's credit card in the past, Arbiter ultimately agrees to use it to buy another Xbox after Colin bricks theirs.
  • Berserk Button: Whatever you do, do not attempt to represent Eugene's clan in a negative fashion. Your life may just be ruined, and not in the conventional way.
    • It's also not wise to insult Claire in front of Arbiter.
      • Or blame him for Cortana's demise.
  • Big Bad: Eugene and his clan serve as the antagonists for season 7. At first, they seem like a band of harmless, annoying trolls whom the duo befriend. This changes once the resident smart guy, Colin, acquires an upgraded version of Fragban. It then becomes a matter of Arbiter and Chief realizing who they are dealing with.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: A scene from an early episode had Eugene Black confront the leader of a copycat trolling clan. Eugene delivers a biting "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the copycat and reveals that he had obtained the copycat's (embarrassing) Internet history and posted it on his school's blog before banning him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the 4th episode, "Terminal", Master Chief removes a plug for some reason and when The Arbiter goes to turn on the Xbox, it won't power on so he casually puts the plug back in. This just seems like a minor plot point, but in the next episode "Heat", Master Chief decides to scare Cortana and put her in the oven. When she isn't scared, he turns the oven switch on thinking the oven was unplugged and nothing would happen. Instead, she burned to pieces.
    • The matchbook in season 7.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Both Arbiter and Chief take up smoking, each to cope with his own personal grief.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Chief swears like crazy when he realizes that he just killed Cortana.
  • Downer Ending: The series finale, "Ignition". Arbiter and Chief commit suicide by setting the apartment ablaze.
  • Dragon Their Feet: After Eugene commits suicide, Tyler goes to Arbiter and Chief's apartment to get revenge, only to be shot and killed by the police.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eugene's fate.
    • Almost directly followed by Arbiter and Chief.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Chief is NOT happy to find out that Colin is a child molester.
  • Evil Feels Good: Arbiter, when he gives in and starts doling out kills with Eugene's clan's fragban software. Especially after he finally got back at fragging a random player during "Spiraling" who insulted him once before in season 7. When asked how it felt, he simply states "Good." And as of 'In Memoriam', he's totally into fragbanning other players alongside Eugene.
    • Arbiter eventually sees the error of his ways once Eugene displays a much more sinister side of himself, though.
    • Evil Counterpart:
    • Eugene to Arbiter. Both share the same ideologies regarding life and their places in the universe. They're also both teetering on the Moral Event Horizon, which draws the two together.
    • Chief meanwhile has Tyler as his counterpart. Both are PsychopathicManChildren, though Tyler is much more sociopathic than Chief.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Chief and Arbiter both change the armor colors on their avatars to black after agreeing to use Fragban 2.0. Lampshaded by Eugene
    Eugene: Black armor now, huh? Kinda lame but whatever.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Arbiter and Chief assist Eugene's clan in their fragbanning spree across the OMN. Arbiter is initially reluctant to at first, but he eventually gives in and joins the rest of the clan in fragbanning players.
    • Eventually though, Arbiter and Chief turn against the clan and stop them from fragbanning anyone else. Though, as shown in the season 7 finale, Arbiter may still have a bit of Eugene's influence in him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Eugene for the most part. He has tendencies to be kind, but they hide a very monstrous and destructive personality.
  • Final Boss Preview: The toys' first confrontation with Eugene and his clan before they're mercilessly fragged.
  • Freudian Trio: The nameless trolling clan has Eugene as the Ego, Tyler as the Id and Colin as the Superego.
  • He's Back: A case of They're Back in "Event Horizon". The duo finally come to their senses and confront Eugene and his clan in a desperate bid to end their malice.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Arbiter returns to this trope, and for good reasons.
    • Eugene, Eugene, EUGENE. Despite having a calm demeanor, he has proven himself to be a complete sociopath on multiple occasions and is only staying afloat because of his sister. He isn't afloat for long, and he only gets worse from there.
  • How We Got Here: The season starts with Eugene and his clan attacking an in-game funeral, and being approached by Chief and Arbiter. It later cuts to a few months prior.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Deconstructed. Chief and Arbiter's desire for companionship leads them to join Eugene and his on their fragban spree.
  • Ironic Echo: "Awesome possum".
  • Kick the Dog: Tyler, literally.
  • Kick the Morality Pet:
    • Arbiter turns his back on Claire when he meets her again. While Eugene is the one to actually shoot her, Arbiter doesn't seem to have a problem with it.
    • Eugene fragbans Michelle after she breaks up with him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: A good portion of the players we see Arbiter fragban are Jerkasses.
  • Lemon Wacky Hello: Chief getting high from smoking cereal. Lampshaded by Arbiter stating that cereal doesn't have hallucinogenic properties.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Chief after accidentally killing Cortana.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The normally friendly and rather cheerful Greg, who peppers his 'speech' with text lingo and smilies like Chief, becomes dead serious when he confronts Chief about Cortana's death, begins writing with perfect grammar, capitalization and punctuation, and even manages the Precision D-Strike mentioned below despite him normally going out of his way to sanitize even casual speech.
  • One Last Job: Arbiter refers them taking down Eugene's Clan with Fragban 2.0 as this, and compares it to their previous conflict with Chaos Theosis.
  • Precision F-Strike: Well, "D-Strike", but same principle. Delivered by Greg after he witnessed Chief not only MURDER Cortana, but is then forced to lie about it to Arbiter.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Early on in season 7 Cortana smacks Chief with a pretty brutal one.
    Cortana: Tell me, Chief, why do you think it is that you were rejected by that girl you encountered online? Why do you think you're rejected by anybody and everybody you encounter online, for that matter? Hm? Do you think it just might possibly have something to do with this volatile attitude of yours? … Don't kid yourself Chief, the root of your issues lies far beyond my presence. You've been antagonizing everybody around you long before I entered the picture.
    Chief: well u sure as hell hasnt b33n n e fucking help skank, thats foar goddamn sure
    Cortana: That's just it, Chief. All I've been trying to do is help you. I realize the notion probably comes as a complete surprise to you, but it's true. You just can't accept it because you refuse outright to listen to reason. … Perhaps, rather than refusing to reason, you simply can't. That your under-developed brain won't allow you to.
    Chief: mai brains r the shit
    Cortana: I couldn't agree more. Utter shit. Even you know the truth. You know full well that any of us three could destroy you in any conceivable argument on any subject, and it kills you that you can't ever conjure up a rebuttal that's even remotely substantial. The only route you've found to take is to get angry and spit pathetic insults left and right that, ironically, only ever accomplish making you yourself look like a complete fool. You are a fool, Chief. Worse yet - you're an unlikeable and therefore unsympathetic fool. You're a blight. An utter embarrassment to yourself and everybody around you, twenty-four-seven. Accept it - and for God's sake, try to improve upon yourself.
    • In the final episode of Season 7, "Ignition", Arbiter gives one to himself, right as he's about to commit suicide by jumping out of the apartment window:
    Arbiter: There's nothing left for you here. You've never belonged. You're a freak. You've contributed nothing. This is what you deserve. This also happens to be your ticket to salvation. You're a lucky motherfucker to have this opportunity. Just a couple of terrifying seconds in exchange for bliss. Now that's a fucking bargain. Don't think about it, just do it. Come on, you fucking pussy. You worthless, plastic [bleep]. Do it. Fucking do it. Now.
  • Serious Business: Eugene and his clan take trolling very seriously, to the point of humiliating a copycat troll who was smearing their name.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene where Cortana gets melted in the apartment oven has the fucking Blue Danube Waltz playing in the background.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chief and Arbiter briefly become this when they join Eugene, Tyler and Colin in their fragbanning spree.
  • Villain Respect: Eugene and Tyler both respect Chief and Arbiter for their raid on Trent Donnovich's wedding, viewing it as a fine example of trolling. Colin also starts to respect Arbiter as the series goes on.
  • Villainous Friendship: Eugene, Tyler and Colin are all good friends with each other. They later extend their friendship to Arbiter and Chief. Chief evens remarks at one point that Tyler and Eugene are among the few people who genuinely liked him.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Two Point Zero". Colin finishes developing Fragban 2.0 and shows it off to Eugene and Tyler.
    • "Wake" and "Dead Weight". Arbiter and Chief join Eugene, Tyler and Colin in their fragban spree.
  • Wham Line: Massive Damage gives us "shes just plastic."
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • Cortana gives one to Arbiter in Terminal.
    • Greg's note that Arbiter found. "You have a good heart, Arbiter. Don't lose it."

    Arby N The Chief in L.A. 
  • Moonwalk Dance: An episode has Arbiter and the Chief visit several attractions and sights around L.A./Hollywood, one of which is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Chief does the moonwalk on Michael Jackson's tile, although, because of the format of the show (live-action action figures), only his upper body is seen, while his legs are not.

    Series-wide tropes 

  • Arc Number: Every time you see a clock, it will either display 3:43, 13:37 or digits that will add up to 7 (which is a reference to Bungie).
  • Aesop Amnesia: Chief has come to the realisation that he sucks at Halo at least three times. It usually doesn't stick. However, as of "Double Trouble", he's finally learned to play well enough to fight two professional players together with Arbiter and almost win.
  • The Movie: Arby 'n' The Chief: The Movie. "Endgame" could also be considered one.
  • Arch-Nemesis: The series showcases several for both toys, usually one each per season.
    • For Arbiter: Scott, Trent Donnovich, Adam McIntyre, and finally Eugene.
    • For Chief: Todd, Trent's bodyguard duo, and Kylie (to an extent).
  • Author Avatar: Arbiter, and Jon has already admitted to it; this has not, however prevented many instances of Author Filibuster from occurring. (Though they have become more rare as of late.)
    • Amazingly, Chief has also become this in some recent episodes, seeming to embody Jon's wild, silly, artistic, and emotional side while Arbiter embodies his logical thought, controlled behaviour, and cynicism. But how much Chief channels Graham and how much he is of his classic stupid self vaires from episode to episode.
  • Author Filibuster: See Author Avatar
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Chief and Arbiter in the season 5 pilot.
    • Hell, pretty much any time they are facing a threat online.
  • Bitch Alert: Cortana. Seriously, all she ever did was bitch about Chief. It's like it was her only purpose in the series. Jon just doesn't want to admit it.
    • At least until the last few episodes. Even from beyond the "grave", that's when she wanted both Arbiter and Chief to fight the good fight against Eugene and his guys. Talk about character development.
    • Also, did she ever consider Arbiter a real friend? Why does he keep preaching all these redeeming qualities about her? It's hard to be friends with someone who keeps forgetting that you exist.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The figurines' owner is named "Jon", and the second episode has Chief commenting on a Bungie blog post about the first episode. Furthermore, the plot of The Movie is started when Chief watches several machinima videos by DigitalPh33r.
  • Bookends: Both the series pilot, and what at the time was the series finale, have a scene where someone at least claiming to be a delivery boy knocks on the door.
    • In the series finale, Arbiter and Chief both hold the same weapons they wielded when they first met.
  • Canon Discontinuity: To much relief from the fans, the L.A. continuity was scrapped when season 4 came around.
    • The original series finale Endgame is also considered non-canon aside from the introduction of Claire.
    • The Season 3 Finale "King" is this as well, mostly due to the 4th wall-breaking nature of it and the silly nonsensical ending that was thrown out the window with Cortana's return in Season 6, whereas she had been previously killed off at the end of King.
  • Catch Phrase: The Chief has "NO U", among other things.
    Chief: HAY. thats mai thing arbitur. u cant use mai thing. remember. remember its mien. lol remember arbitur?
    Arbiter: LOL, I remember Chief.
    Arbitur: I know, LOL.
    Chief: LOL
    • FREEZE / TOSERS / GET DOWN ON THE FUKCING GROUND
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The show is probably the most notable for making such a drastic change in tone from pure comedy to somber drama from seasons 5 to 7. It stands to reason why season 7 is considered so bleak compared to its predecessors; main themes include death, grief, murder, and lies.
  • Characterization Marches On: most noticeable with Chief - he used to be simply a Small Name, Big Ego Fan Dumb Ditz, but then he started realizing that he is not as good at Halo as he previously thought. And he has recently got a tiny grasp of sarcasm (not that he makes use of it very frequently). His relationship with Arbiter has been changing over time, too. See also Author Avatar above.
    • It's also a little weird watching Chief write off many games as stupid and that Halo is way better than them (like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Devil May Cry 4 and Callof Duty 4) and took some serious convincing to get him to even play them when you later see the Chief willingly play many different games without a mention of Halo or even that the game sucks (like Grand Theft Auto IV and Resident Evil 5)
    • By Season 7, Chief even displays the ability to think way ahead into the future to the point where he makes a multi-layered argument to Greg about why telling Arbiter that Chief is the one responsible for Cortana's disappearance would be a bad idea. He goes so far as to predict Arbiter's emotional state beyond simply beating Chief up, understanding that Arbiter would be miserable and probably blame himself for Cortana's death. This all becomes a bit ironic when you consider that only a couple of episodes earlier Cortana criticized Chief's lack of ability to form actual arguments. A far cry from the "no u" style argumentation Chief had generally used up to this point.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Arbiter. Also, Chief's hallucination of Cortana.
  • Deconstruction: The series acted as one for the state of video games and the gaming community when it first started. With the start of season 5, the series began deconstructing the Living Toys trope. The sixth season takes it further, and the seventh makes the previous two look like fairy tales, taking apart the whole show's premise by conveying the existential dread of it to the fullest extent.
  • The Faceless: Almost all of the human characters have never been seen, instead being represented by their Haloavatars. The only exceptions to this are Skylar Loveheart, Scott, Agent Smirnoff, and Jon as of Season 8.
  • Foreshadowing - In Season 3 Episode 4, two of Craig's Major League Gamer] pals get (presumably Halo-induced) erections and decide to go rub one out. This later becomes the catalyst for Master Chief's win against Craig later in the episode.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: Introduced in season 4... never to be mentioned again.
    • After Season 5 finished, the mail slot has spun off into its own show - Arby 'n' the Chief: Hypermail
  • Fan Dumb: in-universe - Master Chief is a parody of the Unpleasable Fanbase of Halo.
  • Franchise Zombie: "King" (episode 25/S3E13) was intended to be possibly the last episode of the whole series. Then an additional finale - "Endgame" followed. Then there was the LA spinoff... then season five... and season six... and seven...
    • [1]. Seasons 5 to 7 have been widely acclaimed.
  • Gamer Chick; The Chick: Cortana, although it's questionable whether she really can play games because of her pose.
    • Claire counts as well, and may as well be the archetype for all gamer chicks.
  • Giant Spider: The finale of season four introduces one, which even terrifies arachnophobe viewers.
  • Homage: "Hypernews I" to Ocarina of Time, which is Jon's favourite game. And that's despite Chief giving the game an extremely negative review, akin to The Angry Video Game Nerd, making it somewhat an Affectionate Parody of the former (and possibly the latter).
  • Jerk Ass: Master Chief.
    • Arbiter zig zags from Jerkass to Jerk with a Heart of Gold. But then again, it's Jon.
    • And Travis, to a lesser extent than Chief.
    • Trent Donnovich makes Chief look like a decent human being action figure.
      • Subverted in Trent's case during the second half of the fifth season. He's actually rather friendly, although it remains to be seen whether he's genuinely nice or if it's just a gambit to gain Arbiters trust.
      • Double Subverted.
    • Craig.
  • Killed Off for Real: Not "killed" per say but one of the security guards from the wedding gets fragged during the application match. The other one makes it out though.
    • He made a brief reappearance in the attack on TOSER's HQ where he fought along side his friend on split screen before both of them were fragged. Also Claire was also fragged during the attack too, in a way that arguably is a Moral Event Horizon for Adam.
    • In Endgame, Scott literally gets killed. Also, at the end of Season 3, Cortana, Todd and Travis all got killed.
    • In Season 7, Cortana gets cooked alive inside of an oven by Master Chief.
    • In Season 7, "Crush", after getting told off by Arbiter for only wanting him as a friend and nothing more, Claire gets frag-banned by Arbiter's new clan.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Arbiter. It pops up every now and then, but is most noticable in season 5. His "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Trent Donnovich pretty much sums up what this trope is all about.
  • Language Tropes:
  • Leitmotif: The theme from The Pursuit of Happyness and Three Little Girls from the Mikado.
  • Living Toys: The premise.
  • Machinima and Live Action Puppeteering.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe:
    • Arguably FEELS GOOD MAN in "King".
    • In season 5 Trent Donnovich, as demonstrated with his "sinking ship" analogy.
  • Odd Couple: the eponymous characters.
    • Not to mention Chief's temporary crush on Cortana. Their personalities are the weird part.
  • Oddly Small Organization The clan of hackers that will be the main antagonists of season six seem to only have four members, according to the trailer and Jon's blog at least.
  • Oh, Crap!: Chief's usual reaction to Arbiter's rage.
  • Only Sane Man: Inverted, as the Chief is the only really odd character.
    • Or actually zig-zagged for Arbiter: characters of common sense comparable to him come and go, as do Chief-alikes.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Chief. How else do you explain him destroying a Call of Duty 4 disc just to spite Arbiter?
    • Adam in Season Six. Holy fucking shit. Technically, he doesn't qualify for the 'man' part of this trope, but absolutely everything else fits him to a tee.
    • Tyler also qualifies.
  • Running Gag
    • Josh Butterballs and his SOI Magazine.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Chief LOVES this.
  • Series Continuity Error: Quite a few.
    • In the original Master Chief Sucks At Halo trilogy, there was an Arbiter character whose personality was comparable to Chief's. In Arby 'n' the Chief pilot, an Arbiter figurine arrives in a box, seemingly meeting Chief for the first time. However, in "Face-Off" (episode 16/S3E4) Arbiter refers to a "sick montage" Chief made with him in the original trilogy, implying that he is the same character. Retcon? Breaking the Fourth Wall?
    • Negative Continuity was once consciously introduced in "Pirates" (episode 28/S4E3).
    • Season four was supposed to take place sometime after "King" (season 3 finale); Arbiter and Chief seem to be still living in Jon's home in Canada. Fair enough. However, the fifth season seems to have borrowed Claire from "Endgame", this time voiced by Elizabeth Carr-Ernst. How they managed to stay at the same place (if this is supposed to take place after "Endgame") is never mentioned.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: The massive backlash and subsequent removal of Todd and Travis.
  • The Sociopath: Adam and Tyler.
  • The Speechless: Greg, who can't talk due to being a spider writes on sticky notes to communicate.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Greg LOVES doing this to scare Chief and Arbiter, it helps that he's a Uncanny Valley spider toy.
  • Straight Man: The Arbiter
  • Synthetic Voice Actor: the eponymous characters and Cortana. This is constantly lampshaded in season 5, even to the point of deconstruction.
  • Talking to Himself: Todd and Travis, as well as the voices of all characters that are not figurines (except Agent Smirnoff in The Movie, portrayed by Daniel Laszlo) are all voiced by Graham himself.
    • This trope was lessened in season 5 when Jon actually got a whole voice cast to play some of the characters other than himself due to the sheer number of different characters in that season. Though there are still one or two characters where this still applies, such as with Timothy and Nathan in the episode "Cheaters".
  • Take That!: As shown by the Chief being a Take That! at Halo's Fan Dumb and indicated by some episodes' director commentaries, the plots of some episodes are aimed at common complaints that the Halo fanbase made about the games, or make fun of Xbox Live users in general. This intensified when Graham discontinued It's A Wonderful Live, a separate machinima series designed to vent out those same frustrations.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Master Chief. We're talking Beavis And Butthead levels here.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Arby and the Chief are this trope.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Not exactly but when someone is killed with the fragban hack equipped, it will result in a console ban and all of the victim's personal information to be stolen.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Machinima/ArbyNTheChief