Who Are Spartans and How Do They Differ From the Video Games?

The new Halo series has already begun breaking records for the franchise and is on pace to become Paramount+’s biggest success yet. Most longtime fans of the franchise know Master Chief and his adventures from him from the video games that began in 2001, along with several comics and books centered around the series protagonist. Even if people aren’t fans of the Halo franchise, there’s still a good chance that a person has at least heard of Master Chief and knows that he’s one of the most famous characters in video game history. That being said, Spartan 117 might be the most notorious of the elite warriors, but he’s nowhere near the only Spartan in the franchise.


With the majority of the Halo video games (and virtually all other media) centering around Master Chief’s plight to stop the Covenant from destroying humanity, it makes sense that other Spartans would get lost in the fold. Nevertheless, many Spartans had to come before Master Chief (played by Pablo Schreiber in the show) to make him the top-notch soldier he was. Many Spartans came after Master Chief with his advancements from him as a recruit allowing the Spartan program to progress faster than ever before. But even with all of that in mind, the question needs to be addressed — who exactly are the Spartans?


halo who are spartans history Cropped

The history of the Spartans is a long and complicated one, even for a fictional story. In short, Spartans are super-soldiers in highly-advanced armor (think Captain America in an Iron Man suit that can’t fly). Essentially, the Spartan program has been around and tinkered with for several hundred years in Halo-lore, beginning with the ORION project in the year 2164, which aimed to create stronger and more effective soldiers than ever before. After several failed attempts, the ORION project was shut down until 2491, when it was secretly relaunched. This is when the first Spartans truly came to fruition. Spartan-I’s were volunteers from the UNSC (Sergeant Major Avery Johnson was actually a Spartan-I), but the soldiers fell short of expectations, and the program was shut down again.

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Finally, scientist Dr. Catherine Halsey led the Spartan-II program in 2506 and created the first-ever super-soldiers Spartans that audiences know and love (Master Chief is a Spartan-II). Unfortunately, the methods of creating these Spartans were much more horrific and morally questionable than any prior attempts, like abducting orphaned children and subjecting them to medical tests that physically altered them. The program was met with plenty of backlash and scrutiny and would have been immediately shut down if it weren’t for how effective the Spartans became. Since the Spartan-II program’s creation, a Spartan-III and Spartan-IV programs have been completed with the means for picking Spartans reverting to a voluntary system.

MjĂžlnir Armor

Xbox Game Studios

While Spartans’ actual bodies are physically altered to become stronger, faster, and more intelligent, their real claim to fame is their tell-tale MJOLNIR Armor. The battle-suits cover the Spartans from head to toe in bullet/blast-proof casings, giving them even more physical enhancements to jump higher, run faster, etc. The suits themselves are also massive, allowing Spartans to go into combat against Elites and other Covenant members that stand well above the average human being.

While the armor does protect Spartans from most injury, the suits do have limits, and their shields can wear down, forcing the Spartans to become more vulnerable if they take a lot of shots or hits in a row. Luckily, the shield recharges to full strength once a Spartan takes cover, but it is worth noting that the armor isn’t infallible. All that being said, regardless of how awesome the Spartan soldiers are on their own, the MJOLNIR Armor really allows them to become the deadliest killers in the universe.

How the Game Spartans Differ from the TV Spartans


One of the main differences between the TV Spartans and the game Spartans is that the television show humanizes the Spartans more — as it should. In the video game, Master Chief has a hint of mystery to him simply because the player is supposed to feel like the main character (ie, there’s a reason Master Chief seems so distant in the video games). However, for a show, the audience has to relate to a character and feel like they understand how/why the protagonist is making decisions. If Master Chief was an emotionless, killing machine in the television show, that he would get old quickly.

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So, the show has demonstrated that they’re exploring a different side of the Spartans — the human side. Master Chief’s character has already shown tremendous emotional depth. Audiences get flashbacks to his training days from him to illustrate how he was bred just to be a killer, making the audience sympathize with him even more. While the physical attributes and abilities of the Spartans in the tv show appear to be the same as the Spartans in the game, it’s clear that the television show is going to focus more on the people inside the armor rather than what they can do with it .

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