Arby 'n' The Chief is a comedic Live Action Puppeteering/Machinima series created by Jon Graham (formerly known as "DigitalPh33r"), who also produced Deus ex Machina. The focus of the series is based around figurines based on Bungie and Microsoft's Halo series coming to life when their owner is out. 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. This is the show that has made Graham a internet wide phenomenon, rivaling Rooster Teeth in popularity.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 takes place before "Endgame" and the LA spinoff. 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.
Tropes appearing in this series:
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Arc Number: Every time you see a clock, it will either display 3:43, 13:37 or the digits will add up to 7 (which is a reference to Bungie).
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. Further, the plot of The Movie is started when Chief watches machinima by DigitalPh33r.
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.
Call Back: The season 5 pilot, to "Wedding" (episode 14/S3E2)
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: 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.
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.
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: 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".
The hacker Duncan in season 6 seems to qualify so far.
Arch-Nemesis: The closest thing to an antagonist the series has is obnoxious video game players, but if anyone could be called the Arch Nemesis it would be Scott from 'Endgame' story.
Trent Donnovich appears to be fulfilling the role in season 5.
He's pretty much Arbiter's absolute arch nemesis now. Aside from what he did in season 5, he put Arbiter into a depression for 4 months, and turned out to be the Big Bad of Season 6 as well. He's also the only human character aside from love interest Claire, and the Scott and Boris Smirnoff characters from Endgame that know that Arbiter is a toy.
Adam appears to be Arbiter's arch nemesis now, especially considering that he fragged Claire.
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.
Badass Bystander: One player in Cradle to Grave maintains a calm personality despite being threatened by Adam, and later refuses to obey him.
Badass Longcoat: subverted for Agent Smirnoff, who is actually a quite clumsy person.
Badass Crew: Parodied with Chief's "n00bz". Everyone of them is an insanely bad Halo player and they all are beaten easily by Arbiter in the last part of the episode. Not to mention Chief says the exact point of them to is use exploits, which hurts their awesomeness significantly.
Word of God confirms that the antagonists of season 6 are this.
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: Trent Donnovich is this for both season 5 and season 6. Chaos Theosis is merely a front for Trent's malicious activities in season 6.
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.
Characterization Marches On: most noticeable with Chief - he used to be simply a Small Name, Big EgoFan DumbDitz, 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.
An example in season 5 is 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.
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.
With season 7, Arbiter's counterpart is clearly Eugene. 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.
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.
The Faceless: "Jon", the owner of all the action figures. Onscreen only twice, and even then, we never saw his face. Also Skylar Loveheart (also played by Graham).
Chaos Theosis count as well as Eugene, Colin and Tyler.
Until Endgame when he played Scott, but even then his face was covered by a large afro and sunglasses (though he takes them off at the end)
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.
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.
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.
Chief: god damit this gaem is gay [beat] wen is teh sec0nd 1 cumign out
Bittersweet Ending: Season 5. 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 trueBrick 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.
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.
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.
In the 4th episode of Season 7 "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.
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..
Enemy Mine: It appears that Arby and Chief are cooperating with Cameron and Cody to survive the hackers attack on the application match
The toys' first confrontation with Eugene and his clan before they're mercilessly fragged.
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.
Heroic BSOD: Arbiter during Season 6. 4 months and counting.
He's showing signs of coming out of it though.
Season 7 has him returning to this trope, and for good reasons.
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.
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.
Chief: HOLEH MUTHR OF GOD. L@@K OTU. ITS TEH COVERNINT.
And with Arbiter.
Chief: OMG LOOK AT ALL THE HORRIBLE THINGS OVER THERE
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.
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 same episode, she later gives another one to Arbiter.
Arbiter: Sigh. Really hoping this leads to a point where Chief's behaviour is significantly less retarded. If only for his own sake.
Cortana: Must you use terms like that, Arbiter?
Cortana: Come on, you've proven that you have a wide vocabulary. Surely you can dig around for alternatives that express your feelings more tastefully.
Arbiter: Seriously? Chill out. I don't see anybody around here likely to take offense. I don't see any cameras on me either, do you? It's just us in here.
Cortana: Yes. And I find it offensive.
Arbiter: Why? You must know that my intention isn't to be derogatory
Cortana: Of course your intention is to be derogatory. You're associating something that you don't like and look down upon with mental retardation. You're almost as bad as Chief sometimes.
Arbiter: That's a mighty big leap, Cortana. I think you really ought to lighten up.
Cortana: I think you need to shake off some of that low-brow attitude that has obviously rubbed off on you from Chief throughout the past few years.
Arbiter: Fundamentally, I don't associate the word "retard" with the mentally handicapped. I use it and others like it because they're popular slang that pack a slight punch and inject a tiny bit of amusement into my empty existence.
Cortana: Really? You're that unimaginative that you consider speaking crudely as the only method of enriching your life?
Arbiter: What the fuck is your problem? Great work making an otherwise fine day awkward, Cortana. Having a nice time is so overrated.
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?
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.
Greg's note that Arbiter found. "You have a good heart, Arbiter. Don't lose it."
Your Mind Makes It Real: Not exactly but Arby and Chief have been outfitted with weapons that when they kill someone with them, it will result in a console ban and all of the victim's personal information to be stolen.
Now that season six has rolled around, the clan of hackers are using these to more or less launch a terrorist campaign.
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.
Long Runner: For a web series, and compared to Jon's other work, hell yeah. Since at least 2007 there have been 70+ regular episodes split into 7 seasons, a movie, six-part "Endgame", and the LA spinoff that was never made.
The Movie: Arby 'n' The Chief: The Movie. "Endgame" could also be considered one.
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?
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.
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".