Machinima: Arby 'n' the Chief
Arby 'n' the Chief
is a Machinima
series 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
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
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 Magnum Opus
. 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.
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 digits that will add up to 7 (which is a reference to Bungie).
- Black and Gray Morality: Scott vs. Agent Smirnoff.
- Bloody Hilarious: Scott's death.
- 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.
- 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 opens with the finale of "Wedding", the second episode from season 3.
- Also in the the same episode, Chief tells the security guys, "We r guyz, WHO GON TEACH U LESSON!" a variation on one of his first lines from the very first episode.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- How We Got Here: Season 5 starts with this premise.
- Season 7 for the most part has this premise if you count the "Descent" flash-forward.
- Metallic Nickname: Chief's Noobs in "Digital Fruitcakes" is a subversion:
- Leitmotif: The theme from The Pursuit of Happyness and Three Little Girls from the Mikado.
- Machinima and Live Action Puppeteering.
- 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.
- Real Trailer, Fake Movie: a parodic variant in the Cold Opening to "The Mail Room II" (37/S4E12), complete with Parrot Exposition. IN 3D!
- Refuge in Audacity: TECHNODICKS. TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNODICKS.
- Running Gag
- Josh Butterballs and his SOI Magazine.
- Serious Business - Parodied hard in the two-part episode "Glitch"/"Panic"
- 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: 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.
- 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.
Plot and events
- Actually Pretty Funny: Arby's reaction to Chief blowing up the first wedding.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us, S6 E8 ends with Chaos Theosis marching on TOSER's HQ
- 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.
- Chief and Arbiter in the season 6 finale. They are commended and made internet icons for their involvement in the destruction of Chaos Theosis.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Chief and Arbiter in the xeason 5 pilot.
- Hell, pretty much any time they are facing a threat online.
- Big Damn Heroes: Greg in the finale of season 5.
- Kevin and several other TOSERS enforcers in "Blackout".
- 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".
: 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 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.
- 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: The typo Trent makes in season 5.
- 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
- Even Evil Has Standards: Chief is NOT happy to find out that Colin is a child molester.
- Final Boss Preview: Arguably the matches against the two security guards count as this.
- 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.
- Cortana. Or not.
- And Arbiter's helmet at the end of season 5.
- 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.
- Ironic Echo: "Play to win".
- 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.
- Lemon Wacky Hello: Chief getting high from smoking cereal. Lampshaded by Arbiter stating that cereal doesn't have hallucinogenic properties.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Chief when he fights Travis.
Chief: k k stop sotp stpo. i surendir. JK LOL
- 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.
- The Mistress: Trent has one.
- Look Behind You: During the fight with Travis and Todd
Chief: HOLEH MUTHR OF GOD. L@@K OTU. ITS TEH COVERNINT.
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.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Chief after accidentally killing Cortana.
- OOC 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.
- 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.
- Rasputinian Death: Scott takes A LOT of bullets to bring down. Lampshaded by the Chief.
Why won't this faggot just die?
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Arbiter delivers several to Chief over the course of the entire series. He delivers it once to the audience (see Take That, Audience!) and once to Trent Donnovich in the season 5 finale.
- 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.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: S6 E9 ends with Arby gearing up for one after Claire is banned and her personal accounts hacked.
- Samus is a Girl: as episode 6 reminds us.
Chief: O RLY?
Chief: hawt / dos she hav boobz?/
Arbiter: I would assume so, Chief...
Chief: COOL / H1GH FIEV
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.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene where Cortana gets melted in the apartment oven has the fucking Blue Danube Waltz playing in the background.
- Surprisingly Happy Ending: The Season 6 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.
- Tear Jerker: Most of Greenlit, particularly Chief's speech at the beginning.
- Tempting Fate: A rare example where things actually get better for the person that tempts fate.
Arbiter: We're going to need a miracle.
- Wham Episode: Heat.
- Wham Line: Massive Damage gives us "shes just plastic."
- 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?
- "World of Cardboard" Speech/"The Reason You Suck" Speech: In the season 5 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.
- Cortana also gives one to Arbiter in Terminal.
- 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.
- 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.
- Author Filibuster: See Author Avatar (characters folder)
- 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.
- 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...
- . Seasons 5 to 7 have been widely acclaimed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".