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This page details the wiki's stance on the issue of canon in the Halo franchise.
What is canon?
Canon is defined as characters, locations, and details that are considered to be genuine (or "official"), and those events, characters, settings, etc. that are considered to have inarguable existence within the fictional universe. "Official" Halo canon can only be created by developers of the Halo universe. Therefore, any material added to Halopedia, which seeks to document the Halo universe, must be official sanctioned canon that can be cited from a work created or sanctioned by Halo's creators, Bungie and 343 Industries. Better put, Halopedia is not a site for fanfiction.
Halopedia seeks to operate strictly as a collection of Halo canon information. The general rule of its canon policy is fairly simple, as explored in the case of i love bees, that "the content should be considered canonical unless contradicted by more authoritative sources". For weighing each source's authority, there is the hierarchy of canon, which is covered below. But it is only one tool in discerning the canon from the non-canon, and oftentimes the relationships of authority may overlap or not be clear. In vague cases like those, determining which contradicting fact should be posted on Halopedia may come down to the editors' interpretation. For this, one must know how to interpret that canon.
How do we interpret the canon?
- "When a painter starts, they have an idea. They sketch, they doodle, they make strokes on canvas and paper with pencil, pen, brush, charcoal, whatever... Until the painting is finished, any previous stroke of the brush can be covered by a later one, altering the position of a tree, the color of the sky, a reflection in the water, the placement of a person, the existence of anything.... until the artist says "fin", it is not up to others to determine what is "so" and what is an "alteration"."
- —Recon Number 54
There are various ways of interpreting canon but in most cases, they will typically refer to two modes of interpretation: Watsonian and Doylist. The most common approach in most fanbase would be from a Watsonian perspective, that is to interpret the information from the standpoint of the text. This is sometimes called an in-universe perspective. The Doylist approach refers to the real world perspective. As Fanlore puts it, "[t]hings that happen in canon happen because of decisions made by the author or TPTB; inconsistencies are probably authorial error. These explanations will sometimes be written right into the canon."
A Watsonian perspective seeks to amend canonical inconsistencies by presenting an in-universe plausible explanation. To do this, they will examine the available canonical information about the subject, look at other similar cases in the canon, and put themselves in the minds of any characters involved to guess their decisions. For instance, a Watsonian would look at the varying appearances of the MJOLNIR Mark IV and say "My theory is that the varying appearances are different armor plating variants. We see from armor permutations that the Mark V and Mark VI were highly modular, therefore it's likely the Mark IV could also have its appearance changed, even dramatically, while the underlying hardware remained the same." A Watsonian perspective is very helpful to solve inconsistencies, but can risk veering into fanfiction, and without an official source behind it cannot be considered to be on the same authority as canon.
But a Doylist perspective handles canonical inconsistencies by an explanation of what the creators were likely thinking. They will examine from an authorial point-of-view, read up on behind-the-scenes information, seek for story meaning, try to put themselves into the minds of the authors, and keep in mind that human creators are often fallible. A Doylist would address the same issue of the MJOLNIR Mark IV's appearances with "Likely the authors just wanted the suit to look cool. The Mark VI appearance of the Chief in Halo 3 sold really well and looks iconic, so they made it look similar in Halo Wars so it'd sell more. They don't intend it to be realistic, and The Cole Protocol version of the suit looks more realistic and was drawn by a Bungie employee, so that's probably what the Mark IV actually looks like." Doylist perspectives ground the work in the real world and let us see what the authors may have been thinking, but it too can often involve just as much guesswork as Watsonian theories and sometimes is misused as a platform for complaining about the story direction.
As such, editors can use these perspectives to determine which elements remain part of the canon framework and which elements could be discarded to accommodate it. But the path to the outcome is rarely simple, and there is no guarantee that the inconsistency will be amended by the creators at a later date. Only with the community's participation can each theory be weighed, so as to ensure Halopedia continues displaying the most accurate and consistent of Halo information, and not a fan's platform.
Hierarchy of canon
Here in Halopedia, the editors work tirelessly to present information in the best possible light: these Halopedians strive by interpreting canon in a way that makes the most sense in the context and causes the least problems and allowing readers to thrive with the interpreted information. As such, the wiki often gets criticized for not able to present the information as the officials intended it to be.
Often times, one source of canon may say something different than other sources. There are many reasons why this may be so; ranging from a typo to a line taken out of context. Therefore, a policy of "superior canon" is in act to make sure that the content of Halopedia reflects the most accurate canon of the Halo universe. Thus, a "ladder" of canon sources exists, with the sources higher on the ladder having "superior canon" which is considered more "official" than the sources below them. The hierarchy of canon can be presented as such: the games would be superior, followed by the novels, other literature, the marketing campaigns and other promotional items, in that exact order. Because Halo is essentially a game franchise, game titles would be the superior source of canon in each category.
|Print and film works|
What are sources of canon?
As the Halo franchise is ever expanding, it is impossible to list out all of the sources of canon. The easiest way of knowing what would identify whether the content was released by an official party of the franchise. Thus, for example, any content released by Bungie throughout their contribution to the franchise from 1999 to 2010 will be considered as sources of canon.
The following is a simple list of sources that are sources of Halo canon, and thus any material from these sources is content that can and should be added to Halopedia. Do note that this list does not present the entirety of sources of canon, but simply a general overview of sources of canon.
- ^ The literature project was under Microsoft Game Studios Franchise Development Group (FDG) with some creative control/supervision under Bungie Studios. The literature project was designed for wider audience apart from the general fanbase, and to establish an expanded universe for future content. For more, see "MGS Development Group Expands" (Archived)
- ^ Halo Graphic Novel was a stand-alone project led by the Art Team of Bungie Studios with the approval of Microsoft and publishing support of Marvel. With the success of HGN, Microsoft soon took charge over Bungie's creative control and played an active role in the literature project.
- ^ The Legends short film Odd One Out is a satirical interpretation of the Halo universe and has been confirmed as a non-canon entity by 343 Industries.
Development of canon
- List of inconsistencies in the Halo series
- Halopedia's Letters of Canon
- List of canon debates on Halopedia (closed)