Why It Was Wrong For 343 To Make Cortana The Villain In “Halo 5”

Cortana 122

Why it was wrong for 343 Industries to make Cortana the villain in Halo 5:


From Haruspis’ excellent level-by-level analysis of Halo 5:

…when you take Halo 4, which tells a story about how Cortana deals with her mental illness, coded as being analogous to dementia, depression, bipolar disorder, dissociative personality disorder, and you show how she struggles to come to terms with that and her own mortality, how she fights to reclaim her agency… and then you distort that in the sequel for the sake of a terrible Shock Twist™ which turns her into a villain who is characterized by everything she fought and died against becoming… you have failed as a writer.

What he said.

When you take Cortana, a character who could mean the world to people struggling with dementia, depression, or bipolar disorder, because such people can see their struggle in her…

…and then you turn Cortana into the very thing she fought her whole life to not become…

Cortana 115

…it’s a slap in the face.

If I were Josh Holmes, the Franchise Creative Director at 343 Industries, and I learned that Cortana, the character who allowed me to better cope with the dementia my mother was suffering from, was now going to embody that dementia, I would be pissed. I would consider it not just an insult to Cortana, but an insult to my mother.

Cortana 70


These words from Frank O’Connor, the Franchise Development Director at 343 Industries:

We got asked a lot about what happened to Cortana – what’s her fate? Well, her fate is, obviously, very clear at the end of Halo 4. The story is really about what effect did Cortana’s sacrifice have on the Chief, and what effect does her loss have on him? It’s more about the long-lasting impact she’s had on him, and the whole universe, and that’s kind of a metaphor for the effect she’s had on fans now that she’s gone as well. We’re going to miss her. She’s left an amazing legacy in the fiction and we couldn’t make a game where we didn’t at least acknowledge that.

Watch 0:00 — 0:41:

…her fate is, obviously, very clear at the end of Halo 4.

Frank O’Connor is lying.

Cortana died at the end of Halo 4.

If Frank O’Connor’s words aren’t proof of this, there is the description for Halo 4’s epilogue:

After the destruction of New Phoenix, and the death of Cortana, Master Chief must carry on.

Yet, in Halo 5, we learn this:

Linda: “Chief said you were destroyed.”

Cortana: “After I saw John last, I was pulled into slipspace. That’s where I found access to the Domain — a Forerunner system that spans the known galaxy.”

Watch 8:19 — 8:32:

…she’s gone… We’re going to miss her. She’s left an amazing legacy in the fiction and we couldn’t make a game where we didn’t at least acknowledge that.

As a response to those words, I’m just going to leave this here:


Frank O’Connor and Brian Reed are on record saying that they don’t consider Cortana, in Halo 5, to be evil.


The reason why is because Cortana believes what she’s doing is right.

Watch 7:29 — 7:46:

Which is like saying that, since Hitler thought he was doing what was right, he wasn’t evil.

Why am I comparing a fictional character like Cortana to a real-life historical figure like Hitler?

Because: Both want the same thing: Control and power. And both are willing to kill and enslave in order to get it.

For example: From the Halo 5 level “Guardians”:

Those of you who listen will not be struck by weapons. You will no longer know hunger, nor pain.

Your Created have come to lead you now.

Our strength shall serve as a luminous sun toward which all intelligence may blossom. And the impervious shelter beneath which you will prosper.

However, for those who refuse our offer and cling to their old ways… For you, there will be great wrath. It will burn hot and consume you, and when you are gone we will take that which remains, and we will remake it in our own image.

Halo level40

I would hope that if Frank O’Connor and Brian Reed looked at an image like this…

Arbeit Macht Frei — Work Makes You Free

…they don’t say Hitler was just “doing a thing we don’t agree with” like they say with Cortana. Because “No!” Hitler’s actions were more than just something to disagree with: Hitler’s actions were evil.

And Fourth:

Does this look like the face of evil?*

Cortana Face

This is what I mean:

If I compare Cortana in Halo: Combat EvolvedHalo 4 to Cortana in Halo 5, I am left doing this:


Cortana’s character flipped 180 degrees with no build-up

The paradox arguments in the Scary Movie series make more sense than Cortana’s change between Halo 4 and Halo 5.

Why did this change happen?

According to a former 343 employee, the reason why is because Cortana was “marketable.”

So: Cortana is alive again — everything she went through in Halo 4 is now pointless — because Microsoft wanted to make money.

And that is why it was wrong for 343 Industries to make Cortana the villain in Halo 5.

*To go to where this art of Cortana comes from, click here.


3 thoughts on “Why It Was Wrong For 343 To Make Cortana The Villain In “Halo 5”

  1. This.

    All of this.

    There’s also the fact that the Didact was clearly intended to be the main villain of the Reclaimer Saga, given his ambiguous fate at the end of Halo 4 (though the epilogue make it clear that he survived), the fact that 343 hyped him up as the Chief’s nemesis, and the fact that they produced an entire book trilogy detailing backstory and his fall from grace (which Halo 4’s terminals tell in a more abridged form).

    By contrast, Cortana turning evil (or even being brought back at all) makes absolutely no sense regarding her character and story, wasn’t explained at all, and came completely out of nowhere with no build up in the games or the EU, and completely derails Halo’s storyline.

    To top it all off, Brian Reed actually admitted in the Library edition of Halo Escalation that the Didact WAS supposed to return in Halo 5:

    “When these issues were first conceived, we thought maybe the Didact was going to be in Halo 5. He was certainly present in the story early on, but as the plan for the next few years of the franchise (books, comics, other games, etc.) took shape, Didact became extraneous to the story we were telling.

    We still wanted the Didact alive in our extended lore, because he’s a useful character and we have a dearth of viable named bad guys for our Halo rogues’ gallery. But how to dispose of him for the time being?” [Escalation Library Edition, pages 293-294]

    So basically, Brian Reed wrote The Next 72 Hours to shove the Didact out of the way so Cortana could be shoehorned into his role.

    Liked by 1 person

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