Halo's protagonist, The Master Chief (also known as John-117), has been the face of strength and bravery in gaming for years. He was the product of a military operation called SPARTAN-II that kidnapped children from their families and trained them to become the ultimate soldiers. The mask from his armour has become so iconic that it's practically a second logo for Xbox.

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Doctor Catherine Halsey was in charge of the SPARTAN programs and had big dreams for her super soldiers. Unfortunately, her ambition was their undoing. The medical procedures, physical augmentations, psychological hardships, and constant pressure proved to be too much for many SPARTAN-II soldiers.

Even those who live on to keep fighting for humanity like the Chief are not as perfect as Doctor Halsey intended. What are Master Chief's greatest weaknesses?

10 His Neural Interface

The back of a man's head, showing his neural interface embedded there.

Neural interfaces are computer chips embedded into the back of the head. For a Halo player, it appears as the game hud with a radar to show friends and foes, a targeting reticle for guns, and other convenient features. However, fans can walk away from the screen when they get sick of the blue lights whereas military officers and SPARTANs embedded with this technology aren't so lucky. Removing it from a person almost always ends in that person's death.

This nifty (if problematic) device is also what allows AI like Cortana to communicate with SPARTANs and ship commanders. SPARTANs even have a unique feature in their neural interface: it allows artificial intelligence (A.I.) to directly interface with the SPARTAN brain. While this provides some advantages, like improving reaction time, it also allows AI a lot of control over their subject. That's not exactly ideal when A.I. like Cortana go crazy

(in a state known as rampancy) after seven years in operation.


9 His Connection With Parisa

A split image of a drawing of the Master Chief and Lieutenant Parisa.

Parisa was a young woman who grew up on the planet Eridanus II as a childhood friend of John-117. When the pair were young, John had saved Parisa from drowning in a lake and subsequently promised to marry and always protect her. When John was kidnapped and replaced by a clone, Parisa was none the wiser. Like all of John's other friends and family members, Parisa believed that he had died at a young age.

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When she served as a lieutenant during the Human-Covenant war, she carried around a picture of John and herself at the beach as a lucky charm. Meanwhile, John became a soldier with little to strive for but grand ideals drilled into his head by years of military training about "serving humanity" and "doing what's right". A threat to this childhood friend would be the last straw to break an otherwise reserved man.

8 That Darn Plasma

The Needler being dual wielded in Halo
Via: Sith Venator/Halopedia

Master Chief was upgraded with the new Mjolnir Powered Assault Armour, the Mark VI, just before the start of Halo: 2. It came equipped with tons of new features to coo over including improved energy shields, automatic biofoam (medical gel) injectors, and a whole new BIOS. Not even the internet could figure out why it was covered up in the Halo:5 trailer. Unfortunately, there was still a crucial flaw in the design: plasma weapons.

Plasma is a substance used in Covenant military weapons from pistols to warships. It's all that humanity can do to use technology to disperse the heat from these Covenant weapons. A few direct hits from any plasma gun would compromise the Chief's armour plating. When comparing him to first-person shooter protagonists like Samus, the weapons may be the deciding factor.

7 The Immobility Of The Lock-Down System

master chief

The Mark VI armour's flaws don't stop there. The new armour also introduced a so-called "lock-down" system. The military had paid good money to get the precious muscles and bones which the SPARTANs use to crush their enemies; they weren't about to let someone destroy their investment.

The lock-down system was designed with this ROI protection in mind. When the SPARTAN faces a high-impact hit, the armour seizes into an immovable posture. The theory behind this design choice seems reasonable: protect the muscles and bones from breaking by simply not letting them move in an abnormal position. However, the moment someone is hit by something that strong is probably the same moment that they need to get away quickly. That's not so easy if someone has to fight their own suit.

6 The Antigravity Plate

Any armour's most well-meaning features always come with a price. The Mark IV suit is entirely airtight, so it can adjust the environment inside however it deems necessary. Unfortunately, a group of human rebels was able to use this to their advantage.

In an elaborate attempt to kidnap a group of SPARTANs, the rebels used an antigravity plate on them. These plates were invented by the UNSC to generate antigravity, but they were never widespread. When the rebels used them on the SPARTANs, their suits thought that they were in a 10-G environment and increased their internal pressure. This rendered the SPARTANs unconscious, easy prey.

5 The Ceaseless Life of a Soldier

The soldier's life of service and duty is all that the Master Chief has ever really known. He was only six when Doctor Catherine Halsey, the woman behind the SPARTAN-II program, kidnapped him and 74 others to train in secret. Military training, augmentation, and confrontation were all he knew after that.

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Though there's something to be said for dedication to a cause, time to recharge and relax has its proven benefits, too. Few people can simply keep going with no thought but their next goal and no ambition except to do what they're told. John-117, though, is one of these few. One can only imagine the exhaustion of a man with no hobbies and no vacations.

4 His Sheer Enormity And Weight

Halo 2's Master Chief cropped from the cover art

During the course of their augmentation, SPARTAN-II children were fed hormone growth supplements. Growth hormone is something that human bodies naturally produce, but having too much or too little of it can drastically affect health. For SPARTAN-IIs like John-117, it was necessary both to keep them alive through excruciating medical procedures and to help them build the unrecognizable bodies of supersoldiers.

The unintended side effect was their height and weight; most of the SPARTAN-IIs were over 2 metres tall and over 200 pounds. Without his armour, John-117 clocks in at 286.6 pounds. It doesn't even account for all the weapons players carry in the games. This makes SPARTANs not the best choice for a stealth mission.

3 His Hubris And Pride

Pride is considered by theologians and philosophers alike to be the deadliest sin. According to some, it is the root of all evil. When we say pride in the 21st century, it's usually synonymous with high-self esteem or a sense of self-accomplishment. Historically, on the other hand, it referred to a feeling of arrogance, a "holier-than-thou" mindset, and having undue faith in one's own abilities to the point of death.

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The Master Chief takes great pride in his own abilities. When he was first paired up with Cortana, their partnership was tested by a military leader named Colonel Ackerson attempting to get rid of John-117. The test was practically suicidal, but the Chief refused to cheat. He and Cortana escaped by a hair, but they nearly died in the process. It would just take a tiny miscalculation of his abilities to result in disaster. But this also leads him to make bold decisions such as firing a ring or killing some ODSTs by accident.

2 His Probably Untreated PTSD

It's not huge news that the SPARTANs were affected mentally by their experiences. It's noted canonically that the SPARTAN-IIs had mild sociopathic tendencies and difficulties socializing with other people. In augmented, super-human soldiers who have fought wars their whole lives, it would be more surprising to find no evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some SPARTANs have openly experienced PTSD with a few of the SPARTAN-IIs taking their own lives after meeting the clones who had taken over their lives with the families they were stolen away from. As the unofficial leader of the SPARTAN-IIs, John is no exception. The horrors of war have left psychological damage on Halsey's otherwise "perfect" soldiers.

1 His Rampant AI: Cortana

Cortana Halo

No list of the Master Chief's weaknesses is complete without Cortana. She was a near-constant presence in his life for years and became his only true friend. Cortana is an A.I. created by scanning and copying the consciousness of Doctor Halsey. She existed in John's neural interface from the time they were partnered up and the two became immeasurably close.

In Halo: 4, Cortana began to descend into rampancy (akin to death for an A.I.).  John-117 insists - beyond reason - that Doctor Halsey will be able to fix her condition. When Cortana begins to run out of control, he says that she can be reasoned with. And when she offers to sacrifice herself to save him, he is devastated and argues that it was his job to look out for her.

Cortana became someone he doesn't recognize and fans are digging into her past. Will her hold over John-117 come into play in Halo Infinite?

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