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CLASSIFICATION: TVTROPES
SUBJECT: SPARTAN-II PROGRAM - JOHN-117

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Master Chief Petty Officer John-117

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/master_chief_in_halo_5_3.png

Homeworld: Eridanus II (Elysium City)

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Birthdate: March 7, 2511

Debuted in: Halo: The Fall of Reach

Voiced and portrayed in English by: Steve Downes (games, Halo: The Fall of Reach as adult John), David Wald (Halo Legends), Alex Puccinelli / Daniel Cudmore (Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn), Cole Jensen (Halo: The Fall of Reach as child John), Damien C. Haas (Halo: The Fall of Reach as teenage John)

Voiced in Latin-American Spanish by: Eduardo Bulnes (Halo 2), Jesús Hernández (Halo Legends), Jorge Riveros (Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn), Raúl Anaya (Halo 3-present)

Voiced in Japanese by: Atsuki Tani (original trilogy), Rikiya Koyama (Halo 4-present)

"Thought I'd try shooting my way out. Mix things up a little."

You probably know him better as the Master Chief.

As You Know, John-117, more commonly known as Sierra-117 or, as stated above, the Master Chief, is the main player character and a central figure in the story's mythology. A Silent Protagonist outside of cutscenes (until Halo 4), the Chief is the leader of the SPARTAN-IIs, a group of One-Man Army Space Marines serving in the United Nations Space Command. The SPARTANs, equipped with Bio-Augmentation, Deflector Shields and Powered Armor, were created to fight human rebels making trouble for the UNSC, but once the Covenant showed up they took to that fight without complaint. As of Halo 5: Guardians, he is one of the few surviving members of the SPARTAN-II program.

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  • The Ace: Subverted. He may seem like The Ace, given his skills and accomplishments, but it's explictly stated by Cortana that he was never the best Spartan in any field of his training, and his physical and mental capabilities are not extraordinary by SPARTAN-II standards. What makes him special is his unnaturally high luck, which translates into the ability to survive and accomplish the impossible by sheer chance, making him look like The Ace in action. One thing he does seem possessed of, besides luck, is a practically unstoppable determination even by Spartan standards; if he makes a promise, he will do everything in his power to keep that promise, Covenant, Flood, and even ONI itself be damned.
  • Ace Custom: Subverted. Compared to many of the other Spartans encountered throughout the series, who take varying levels of advantage of the myriad different variants of the MJOLNIR armor and their modular components, and wear all sorts of different colors, Master Chief's armor is a bog-standard army green variant with no mods.
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  • Ace Pilot: All Spartans are cleared on all UNSC vehicles including air and spacecraft. In Halo 4 the Chief flies a Broadsword fighter though Didact's ship while it's flying through Slipspace. Given his augmented reflexes, this is probably justified.
  • Action Hero: He's a soldier, this is a given.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: By the time of Halo 4 and 5, the Chief is showing some signs of PTSD from losing people he cares about during his very long military career.
  • The Anti-Christ: Overall, the Covenant view Spartans as "Demons", but the Master Chief is another whole level of scary for them, often being referred to as The Demon.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The highest-ranking Spartan-II (except for Lieutenant-Commander Kurt-051, eventual Lieutenant Junior Grade Fred-104, and Chief Warrant Officer Grade 5 Jorge-052) and arguably the best.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: With the Arbiter in Halo 3.
  • Badass Baritone: Courtesy of Steve Downes.
  • Badass Boast: Several, such as "To give the Covenant back their bomb" and "Finishing this fight".
  • Badass in Charge: As a Master Chief Petty Officer he was the ranking Spartan-II.
  • Born Lucky: According to Cortana, this is the reason she picked him over the other Spartan-IIs. It's also strongly implied that this is the big difference between John and the equally skilled Spartan-III Noble Six.
  • Break the Badass: The end of Halo 4 shows the strain of a long war and the loss of many people who were close to him (especially Cortana) has had a detrimental effect on the Chief. The opening cutscene even has Halsey's interrogator pointing that Spartans are so psychologically damaged they can't interact very well with ordinary people, inferring that John had to be broken to become the badass he became. The signs were visible even before that, as there are several moments in the game where the Chief just sounds... Tired.
    • In Halo 5, his hands are shaking. However, even though Blue Team is worried about him, John actually maintains his cool throughout the story.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: In Palace Hotel, the Chief encounters Parisa, a girl he had known on Eridanus II, who is now a marine. She tells him the story of how she and her friend John had promised to marry each other after he saved her from drowning, but that he died as a child and she still would have held John to that promise. The Chief is unable to bring himself to tell her that it's him, and that the child who had died had been a flash clone created specifically for the purpose of dying "naturally" to cover up ONI kidnapping him for the SPARTAN-II program.
  • Child Soldier: All SPARTAN-IIs started at age six, receiving their augmentations and armor at 14.
  • Consummate Professional: Though by the time of Halo 4, he has trouble keeping this up over time.
  • Crazy Awesome: In-Universe, Cortana at least seems to think so.
    Cortana: I know what you're thinking, and it's crazy.
    John-117: So, stay here.
    Cortana: Unfortunately for us both, I like crazy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has a dry "been-there, done-that" kind of wit, especially in the novels. As for the games, it's best seen in Halo 3, in this quote.
  • Determinator: Besides his uncanny luck, one personal quality of his is that he will not give up on something if he promised to do it. To quote a conversation from Halo 2:
    Cortana: Just one question: what if you miss?
    John-117: I won't.
  • The Dreaded: To the Covenant, who call him "the Demon" when against him. The Separatists of the Covenant also acknowledge his prowess, but instead call him the "human champion".
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Notable because as of Halo 4, he's even more so than most other Spartans after being genetically modified to have immunity to Composing.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Most people he associates with, especially in the games, only call him "Master Chief", or "Chief" for short, to the point that many players do not even know his actual name.
    • To the point that, when Hood notes that he could easily be made an admiral, John notes that "The Admiral" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
  • The Faceless: It's been a series-long running gag to never show his face; the closest we've gotten are some glimpses of him as a child (in Halo 3's "Starry Night" trailer, Halo 4's "Scanned" trailer and prologue, and the visual adaptations of The Fall of Reach), and a brief shot of the area around his shadowed-out eyes in the Legendary ending of Halo 4.
    • The novels give a few vague descriptions of his physical appearance, but even the animated adaptation of The Fall of Reach only fully shows his face from ages six to fourteen.
  • Famed in Story: His legend spreads from the ODSTs that knew about him beating four of their own in a gym without breaking a sweat, to his tales throughout the UNSC about him and his men defeating the Covenant, and even to the Covenant hating him with (grudgingly respectful) passion for the destruction of the first Halo ring.
    • Subverted in Halo 3's "Believe" ad campaign. While he is honored as the savior of the human race, the battle depicted there is non-canon. Wild Mass Guessing and fanon consider it a massive ONI cover-up campaign to hide the truth about, y'know, all life in the entire galaxy nearly ending and all that. It's hinted the true story is known, however, by the "117" scratched in the monument.
  • A Father to His Men: The Chief cares a lot about not just his fellow Spartans, but also any soldier that follows him into battle. Combat Evolved features him comforting a Marine fearful of death in his lifepod, and is later clearly saddened after watching Jenkins' Apocalyptic Log. The Collateral Damage comic shows that this even extends to a group of Insurrectionists who decide to put their differences aside and fight alongside the UNSC; he displays Tranquil Fury over being forced to pointlessly leave them behind to die.
  • First-Name Basis: With Blue Team, Dr. Halsey, and Cortana by the end of Halo 3. Locke only calls him "117".
  • Genius Bruiser: He didn't reach Master Chief Petty Officer by brawn alone.
  • Happily Adopted: Abducted, actually, but he seems pretty content with how the military raised him.
  • The Hero: He is humanity's hero.
  • Heroic Mime: Aside from cutscenes in the games (and averted in the novels and other Expanded Universe). Averted from Halo 4 onward.
  • Hope Bringer: The moment he shows up, pretty much all UNSC personnel fall in behind him and know their chances of survival just shot up by 1000%.
  • Humble Hero: He tries to stay out of the spotlight, seeming uncomfortable with attention. In the words of Bungie artist Eddie Smith:
    He's pretty much the consummate professional. He does his job, walks off, doesn't even get the girl, he's that cool he doesn't need her.
  • Hurting Hero: He doesn't let it show much, but losing so many of his fellow Spartan-IIs, friends like Johnson, and finally Cortana has taken a toll on him. John just has no idea how to really express his pain.
  • I Gave My Word: In Halo 2, he promises he'll bring Cortana back from High Charity when he can. He fulfills that promise in Halo 3.
    John-117: You know me. When I make a promise...
    Cortana: You... keep it... I do know how to pick 'em.
    John-117: Lucky me.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Blames himself for not getting Cortana to safety after promising to do so.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: He feels that one should never be honored or considered a hero for doing their duty. You're only a hero if you go above and beyond your duty. Everything he does, he merely considers his duty.
  • The Immune: In Mission 5 of Halo 4, the memories of the Librarian give John immunity to Composing.
  • It's Raining Men: It's almost a running gag that the Chief takes ridiculous plunges without a parachute or jetpack, to the point that Johnson lampshades it in the prologue to 3.
    Johnson: Crazy fool. Why do you always jump? One of these days you're going to land on something just as stubborn as you are.
    • Taken even further in 4 when he has to get to the Didact's ship.
    John: Track those Liches. We can go across them to get to the Didact's ship.
    Cortana: Wait. Across them?!
    John-117: Yes.
    • He then jumps off the tower and lands on a Lich, stabbing it to stay on.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Noted as being great at everything, but not the best at anything compared to the other Spartan-IIs, except for leadership, courage, and luck.
  • The Juggernaut: From the point of view of the Covenant, (and anybody else who goes up against him, for that matter) John is a quiet, faceless, hyper-lethal, industrially efficient murder machine that destroys anyone and anything that gets between him and his objective. This is especially apparent when John is transported to High Charity, the Covenant capital city, and with almost no backup manages to annihilate every single threat he encounters as he makes a beeline for Truth.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At times, he seems well-aware that he's in a first-person shooter, and this continues even in expanded universe material.
    Cortana: Now all we have to do is find the Silent Cartographer and the map to the Control Room.
    John-117: Right. That, and avoid capture in unknown territory, already held by the enemy, with no air support or backup.
    Cortana: Do you have a plan?
    John-117: Yes. When we get there, I'm going to kill every single Covenant soldier I find.
    • As seen below, in Halo: First Strike:
    Cortana: Can I assume that you have some brutally straightforward yet elegant plan to get us out of this?
    John-117: Yes.
    • And in Halo 3: he presents his entire MO in a nutshell:
    Cortana: Got an escape plan?
    John-117: Thought I'd try shooting my way out. Mix things up a little.
  • The Leader: Of the SPARTAN-IIs, not to mention Master Chief Petty Officer of the UNSC Navy as of the end of Halo 3, the highest Enlisted rank in the Navy.
  • Leitmotif: "The Last Spartan " for the Bungie era and "117" for the 343 era.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Like all Spartans, he's damned fast and hits like a truck.
  • Like Brother and Sister: He and Kelly have been best friends since he was six and she was seven, and this relationship has continued on well into adulthood.
  • Living Legend
  • Made of Iron: The books make it clear that he's kept fighting despite heavy injuries on many occasions.
    • That's not even getting into the one time he dropped into Earth from space while protected only by his armor and a piece of metal, and not only survived, but was already at 100% mere hours after landing.
  • My Greatest Failure: See "I Let Gwen Stacy Die" above.
  • One-Man Army: The main Halo games make it clear he is the reason humanity still breathing after all those alien invasions. His combat prowess is ranked at "Hyper Lethal". The only other Spartan known to achieve this is Noble Six making it clear that even among the other Spartans who were bred to achieve this status, Chief and Six are exceptional cases.
  • The Paragon: As outlined in the Believe Campaign:
    "He's received the highest commendations for bravery. Countless decorations for honor and selflessness. But Master Chief's greatest achievement reaches far beyond what any medal could ever hope to commemorate. For the men and women of the 26th Century, he is a human embodiment of possibility, the last Spartan standing against an angry tide. This strength of spirit is forged through his legend. Jericho VII. The Battle of Reach. High Charity. Tales rife with sacrifice and courage. Tales that grow, flourish, and inspire. And while he shapes his own history, he in turn shapes the history of all who follow. For no matter what horrors are released upon the day, they cannot match the reply of soldiers emboldened with his spirit, an army of Master Chiefs unto themselves."
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Cortana. They care deeply for each other, almost like a mother and a son-which makes sense, considering Cortana's origins.
    • Just Friends: John wants to maintain this with Cortana in Halo 5. Unfortunately, Cortana wants more.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: In Halo 5: Guardians, The Chief has a small fight with Locke when Osiris encounters Blue Team.
    Chief: I have a job to do.
    Locke: Cortana's our concern now, sir.
    Chief: Like hell she is.
  • The Promise: See I Gave My Word above.
  • The Quiet One: Even compared to most of the other Spartans.
  • Red Baron: "The Demon", to the Covenant.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: How he starts Halo: Combat Evolved, in cryostasis. And how he ends Halo 3, being released again in Halo 4.
  • Sergeant Rock: Just for reference, the rank of MCPO is equivalent to that of Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps, the second-highest Enlisted rank.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: It's taken a very long time to surface thanks to both Chief's mental training and his sheer force of will, but by the time of Halo 5, some cracks are beginning to break through. The Chief has been pushing himself non-stop instead of taking some time off, and in Blue Team's intro cutscene, he can't stop his hands from shaking as he pilots his Pelican; both are telling signs of PTSD. It's telling that he contemplates his helmet far longer than necessary. There's been psychological analysis on this.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: One that really shows Chief is a Hurting Hero by 5:
    Cortana: I'm offering Humanity to be more than they are naturally.
    Chief: Like Dr. Halsey did to me.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Though all the Spartans are very apt at tactical planning, the Chief tends to prefer simple plans that play to the strengths of himself and his Spartans. This exchange from Halo: First Strike sums it up:
    Cortana: Can I assume that you have some brutally straightforward yet elegant plan to get us out of this?
    John-117: Yes.
    • Perhaps the best example is in Halo 5, when Blue Team has a very simple way of dealing with a group of sword-wielding Elites when hurtling towards an Alliance ship they're occupying: shoot the reinforced window with a hurricane of gunfire to burst through it, then allow Explosive Decompression to handle the rest as they remain stationary with jetpacks and gravity boots.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Humanity's greatest hero, John.
  • The Stoic: Though Halo 4 shows cracks in that as Cortana's condition worsens.
    • He also displays signs of being Not So Stoic in Halo 3 following the deaths of Miranda Keyes and Sergeant Johnson.
  • Super Soldier: Like all his brethren, John has been biologically augmented into the ultimate badass.
  • Supporting Leader: To the Arbiter near the end of Halo 2. While the Chief attacks the Covenant's capital city (mostly) singlehandedly, the Arbiter is the one who defeats Tartarus and saves the day (for the moment).
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was closest with fellow Spartans Sam and Kelly.
  • Tragic Bromance: With Samuel-034, who John admits is the closest thing to an actual brother he ever got to have. Sam dies Taking the Bullet for John, and at fourteen years of age is the first SPARTAN-II killed-in-action. His death devastates John, and it ends up having a very strong effect on the solemn and focused manner John approaches his duty with.
  • Tranquil Fury: After Cortana tries to explain her actions post Face–Heel Turn in Halo 5 John tells her that he doesn't simply want to hear any of it at every opportunity, and judging by the sound of his voice, actually sounds pissed at what Cortana is doing.
    • A moment in Halo 4 occurs when Captain Del Rio dismisses the threat of the Didact to humanity and demands that John surrender the clearly-going-rampant Cortana. John, all seven feet, 1500 pounds of him, simply stares Rio down and utters a simple "No, sir," and its quite obvious John is mentally holding himself back. In that moment Del Rio would probably have been safer shouting down the barrel of a fully armed and loaded SuperMAC.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The first teaser for Halo 5 shows him keeping Cortana's data crystal chip on him after her death during the Didact's assault on Earth. Considering that Cortana's chip was destroyed before the final fight with the Ur-Didact in Halo 4, it's more a symbolic representation of what he lost.
  • Weapon of Choice: With the exception of Halo 2, John is usually seen carrying an Assault Rifle, and almost always has it in his opening loadout for missions.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Master Chief may seem at times like a Blood Knight, but it's more this — he seldom is in any situation where he has any tools to deal with a problem aside from shooting his way out.
    Pelican Pilot: We need to run!
    Master Chief: No, we need to fight.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Covenant are more or less forced to acknowledge he is essentially unstoppable. John has helped to eradicate several fleets and exterminated entire divisions of their troops almost single-handedly.
    Locke: May I ask you something? Your people used to call him "Demon." Was that an insult or a compliment?
    Thel 'Vadam: ...An insult, to be sure. But one with a modicum of respect.
  • Younger Than He Looks: When we do get to see glimpses of his face, John has visibly aged quickly thanks to both his augmentations and the stress of fighting in a decades-long war. This is most apparent in the Collateral Damage comic, in which this is a 14-year old John.

Alternative Title(s): Halo Spartan II Program Master Chief

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