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(Monachus frigus)



Avg. height:

168 centimetres (5 ft 6 in) (aprox. average)[1]

Avg. weight:

118 kilograms (260 lb) (aprox. average)[1]


Short, stocky, round head, exoskeleton with wrinkly skin, high-pitched voice, stubby limbs.

Technology level:

Native Tier 6/Adopted Tier 2[2]

Notable groups:

Notable individuals:

Also known as:

  • Grunt
  • Chimp
  • Crab
  • Monkey
  • Gas-sucker
  • Crybaby
"When in doubt, flee."
—Unggoy philosophy[3]

The Unggoy[4] (Latin, Monachus frigus, meaning "cold monk") are a species of squat bipedal vertebrates, (commonly misidentified as arthropods),[5] in the unified races of the Covenant. They are the lowest-ranking species in the hierarchy, and are frequently mistreated by almost every higher-ranking race (Sangheili, Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar). Unggoy are primarily used as laborers or, in combat situations, cannon fodder. They are one of the later races to be introduced into the Covenant, and were either the second or third Covenant species to be encountered by humans. They are referred to as Grunts by humans, mainly because they are considered weak compared to their superiors and also because they perform the majority of the labor required by the Covenant.


The Ark and reseeding[edit]

Ancient Unggoy being reseeded on Balaho by Forerunner machinery.

Prior to the activation of the Halo Array, the Unggoy had managed to achieve a Tier 4 society on their homeworld, Balaho. However, the planet and the Unggoy civilization was devastated by the collapse of its biosphere due to massive global overindustrialization.[2]

The Unggoy were one of many species indexed by the Librarian for preservation on Installation 00 from the firing of the Halo Array. They were subsequently returned to their homeworld Balaho, where they began re-building their culture.[6]

Induction into the Covenant[edit]

Unggoy join the Covenant.

Grunts were the sixth client race to be integrated into the Covenant, not including San 'Shyuum and Sangheili, about 411 years before the end of the Human-Covenant War, roughly coming to their indoctrination in 2142 on the military calendar. By the time of their discovery by the Covenant, the Unggoy homeworld was still recovering from its ecological collapse over a hundred millennia earlier, and the Unggoy civilization had yet to return to its former state.[2]

Unggoy rebel on High Charity.

While they are essentially a slave race, the Unggoy have managed to largely retain their cultural identities, and have rebelled in the past more than once. Being the lowest-ranked species of the Covenant, they are bitter rivals with the Kig-yar, who are also low-ranked. The higher-ranking races of the Covenant have often ignored this rivalry. The breaking point came when a junior staffer in the Ministry of Concert[7] discovered evidence of the Kig-yar planning to poison recreational narcotics the Unggoy enjoyed, which would have left them sterile, but the High Council refused to investigate the matter. The rising tensions with the Kig-yar and the general disinterest from the other Covenant races led to an Unggoy Rebellion in 2462. While the rebellion was ultimately put down thanks to an Arbiter and the near-glassing of the Unggoy homeworld, the Unggoy proved that they were not the cowards they had been long deemed, and could indeed be vicious fighters when provoked. After the uprising's conclusion, as was their tradition, the Sangheili forgave the surviving Unggoy and allowed them to enter the Covenant military as armed infantry units, rather than the unarmed cannon fodder as which they had previously served.[8]

Despite the low place they have in the Covenant Hierarchy, the true irony is that the Unggoy's entry into the Covenant has ensured their species' survival. Membership in the Covenant granted the Unggoy freedom from risk of extinction during Balaho's two winters, as they now have access to sufficient supplies of food. Infant mortality has decreased to below fifty percent, and geronticide is no longer a necessity for survival. The average life expectancy for non-combatant Unggoy has doubled.[9] Their incorporation into the Covenant likely also alleviated the threat of the Blue Death, which Unggoy typically fear.[10]

The Great Schism[edit]

The Unggoy obey other Covenant races out of fear more than religious faith.[11] They have next to no political power in the Covenant; the highest political rank available to an Unggoy is Deacon. Within the Unggoy community there is a strong resentment of other species, especially the Kig-Yar. The low rank of the Unggoy, as well as the aforementioned war, also led to a lack of political loyalty during the Great Schism, as the Unggoy did not ally with a particular side, and stayed with whoever commanded them, most likely out of subservient fear to their current masters. However, many of those serving under the Jiralhanae still held support for the Sangheili and revered the Arbiter, pointing out to their comrades that they once served under him.


After the Human-Covenant War, at least some of the Unggoy continued working for the Sangheili as farmers on Sanghelios, while others continued to work in the military under either their Sangheili or Jiralhanae commanders.[12] A number of Unggoy joined—or were drafted into—the various splinter groups that upheld the Covenant's religious beliefs after the war, most notably Jul 'Mdama's Covenant faction. ONI surveys record no off-planet transport from Balaho since "Solipsis" and seem to indicate that Buwan has been abandoned, though both remain under observation. Moderate Unggoy populations have been observed in Sangheili systems at various intervals.[13] The Office of Naval Intelligence speculates that several independent vessels and colonial facilities are under the control of Unggoy factions, yet no significant populations of unaffiliated Unggoy are known to exist among the human colonies.[14]


Unggoy are, in general, poor soldiers in terms of skill and combat ability. They are poor shots when not focused, are physically weak, and are tactically inept as a rule. If their commanders are eliminated during combat, they frequently panic and scatter in random directions. However, what Unggoy may lack in individual skill, they make up for with tenacity and sheer numbers. The Covenant used the high breeding rate of the Unggoy to their advantage in the Human-Covenant War, where squads of Unggoy frequently overpowered UNSC personnel through force of numbers. A group of renegade Kig-Yar on the moon Metisette also took advantage of the Unggoy's prodigious reproductive rate, breeding an army with which they hoped to invade Earth.

Unggoy are the only Covenant species to breathe methane rather than oxygen. Their combat armor/harness has an integrated methane re-breather system, as Unggoy are unable to survive for long periods of time without methane due to asphyxiation. Due to this, if the player manages to melee their methane tank off, they rapidly suffocate and die.

Psychology and behavior[edit]

A group of Unggoy.

While not overly intelligent or creative on the battlefield, Unggoy are one of the most gregarious and sociable of the Covenant races and possess a very strong pack mentality, often associating with each other in groups. This numerical superiority and pack mentality allows for their sense of cultural identity to remain, despite a number of hardships, including their extreme subservience to the other races of the Covenant, as well as the dark time following reintroduction after the activation of the Halo Array.[2]

Although they are quite capable of handling weaponry and operating vehicles and machinery such as Ghosts and Shades, Unggoy are generally rather simple-minded. There are exceptions to this rule, however: the Unggoy Deacon Dadab, for example, was noted as being quite intelligent for an Unggoy, as demonstrated by his ability to learn and communicate in Huragok sign language. An inherent psychological advantage possessed by the Unggoy are their unburdened neural pathways, which allows Unggoy to absorb knowledge more freely compared to the other Covenant species. As such, they are often tasked with monitoring space for traces of human communication. In addition, many Unggoy have developed a clear understanding of two or even three human languages. This advantage serves as a river of confidence in times of great stress for them.[2]

Unggoy generally follow a few short, simple guidelines given to them by the Sangheili; for example, "When in doubt, shoot" or "Stay out of the way, live another day." Despite being held in low regard by the Covenant, many Unggoy appear to be strong followers of the Great Journey. Their Deacons will often hold sermons onboard ships to boost the morale and teach the Unggoy onboard about the Covenant. For instance, a Deacon named Dadab gave sermons and taught the Unggoy on board a Jiralhanae cruiser about the Covenant and its religions. The Jiralhanae allowed Dadab these teachings because they believed that it would help the Unggoy become more competent and helpful.

Unggoy often gamble with each other and often play games; one in particular, hunting rock, involves two Unggoy competing to kill the most scrub grubs.

Unggoy were also known to take recreational narcotics called Infusions by adding them to their portable methane tanks.[15][16]

Anatomy and physiology[edit]

An Unggoy's luminous blue blood
The face of an Unggoy.

The taxonomic classification of the Unggoy has been a source of some confusion for the United Nations Space Command. Because they possess exoskeletons, they have been identified as being analogous to Earth arthropods; despite this, the Unggoy are actually a vertebrate species. The UNSC misclassified the species as arthropodal due to their physiological similarities to terrestrial arthropods; among other differences, the Unggoy circulatory system is apparently closed as opposed to the open systems characteristic of many arthropods.[5] More accurately, the species should be considered xeno-arthropodal vertebrates which possess substantial (albeit hypothetical) genetic influences from primate-like amphibians that once dwelt in Balaho's aphotic zones. This taxonomically incorrect nomenclature persists as late as 2557 as an ad hoc identifier, though the pressures of the Human-Covenant War and reconstruction have made such concerns trivial at best.[5]

Unggoy share a number of features with different animal species on Earth. Like primates, they walk both bipedally and with the aid of their oversized forearms. However, their bodies are armored with a hard exoskeleton as with crabs and insects. Their mouths have a set of small, pointed teeth, much like reptiles. Unggoy are on average about four to five feet tall and are relatively weak compared to other Covenant species. Although they can easily walk upright on two legs, they may often use their arms to move in a quadrupedal fashion. While carrying armaments, they are forced to walk upright so that they may support their weapons with their hands, but while trying to flee, or while patrolling without a weapon drawn, they use their over sized arms as forelegs to add speed or stability to their gait. Their eyesight[5] and hearing are average, and seem to have a very well developed sense of smell, sometimes sniffing the air to detect traces of foes or hidden enemies.[17] This is facilitated through the olfactory membranes installed in their masks.

Unggoy also have thick, bioluminescent,[18] light-blue blood,[19] possibly a result of methane-based proteins in the blood to facilitate methane-based respiration. Like Earth's Horseshoe Crabs, it is possible that their blood is blue due to high copper content.

Unggoy have over-sized forearms, while their upper arms and thighs are seemingly small. This has allowed them to be quite excellent climbers. Spiny protrusions on their elbows help them scale rocky surfaces and may also be used to add force to their melee attacks. They also have an astonishingly fast finger reflex speed, as they can fire a plasma pistol at almost the same rate a Sangheili can with a plasma rifle.

The standard methane rebreather apparatus

The Unggoy have flat, three-toed feet, with another toe on the back of their feet. While they are small, stocky, and lacking in agility, they are quite sturdy; most may be weak, as they seem to be unable to carry a weapon heavier than a plasma pistol, although certain Unggoy of higher ranks appear to be surprisingly strong, able to carry an undeployed plasma cannon or fire a fuel rod gun with one hand without toppling from the recoil. However, physical strength may not actually go along with rank; the types of weapons available to them may be a part of a "trust" issue with the other Covenant. As rank-and-file Unggoy are clumsy and tactically inept, more powerful weapons are likely only issued to those who are more disciplined and experienced.

Although they require an atmosphere to breathe, Unggoy are capable of surviving in the vacuum of space without sealed, full-body gear. Unggoy carapaces apparently can withstand the chilling cold and airless environment of EVA conditions, but they must employ sealed face masks in order to breathe, as well as presumably to protect their facial tissues. This tolerance of vacuum is apparently not shared by the less-armored Unggoy subtype encountered in the post-war years, as they require full-body gear to survive in a vacuum.


Some Unggoy, commonly seen among bands of Covenant remnant forces in the mid 2550s, have exoskeletons that cover only patches on their bodies, leaving most of their skin exposed; the paucity of chitin means that the elbow and knee spikes of these individuals are less pronounced.[5] Unlike other Unggoy, which have a chitinous protrusion that covers the groin and posterior, these Unggoy are unarmored in this area, exposing their primate-like buttocks.[20] Their necks are also several times longer than normal, (Unggoy typically have almost nonexistent necks), and their heads are set farther forward; folds of loose skin hang down from their necks and chins, likely due to the relative lack of chitin. Their eyes are reddish orange and feature black, cross-shaped pupils, unlike the solid red or yellow eyes of their kin. Their mouths are set farther inward and house larger, more pointed teeth. These specimens have much stouter legs and have longer and thinner fingernails than the rest of the species, and they possess claws meant for climbing and digging[21] on their feet instead of the more common hoof-like digits. What sets these Unggoy apart, (morphologically speaking) is that they are sourced from specific breeding zones. This indicates either prolonged genetic drift in refugia populations or induced selection.[22] In any case, such morphological variation can be likened to the differences among Earth's dog breeds.[5]


Unggoy breed prodigiously, with large egg clutches and short childhood periods.[2] This combined with the large number of young per clutch and rapid sensory-motor integration development was one of the primary reasons why the Covenant cleverly used the breeding habits of the Unggoy to their advantage in battle, deploying the Unggoy as cannon fodder (this would play a key-role in their war against humanity). Overpopulation is a serious problem and in non-war times, strict laws are placed on Unggoy breeding.

Unggoy do value their ties to their offspring, but are usually separated from their families at an early age by the requirements of military service to the Covenant. They resent this greatly, but because of their low social status in the Covenant, they are unable to muster any response.


The Unggoy culture has been largely wiped out as a result of constant indoctrination by the Covenant, they do retain a degree of their cultural identity as a result of their inherent tenacity. Of what is known, the Unggoy generally live in small, tribal societies which are typically defined as being matriarchal.[2]


Unggoy often have names which reflect a language of very simple phonics. Common names, such as Yayap and Dadab, begins with a reduplicated consonant and consist of two syllables. Other names typically consist of a single syllable with clusters of consonants, such as "Flim". Some exceptions have occurred of which a name has more consonants than is usual while following the first method of naming, as in Kwassass. Often, their names are palindromes, such as Zawaz.

Unggoy names encountered so far consist of these phonemes:

  • The vowels short A and short I.
  • The consonants D, F, K, L, M, S, W, P, Y and Z.

Unggoy do not have family names, possibly because the Sangheili did not allow it. Instead, they identify themselves by famous ancestors, their homeworld, and where on that planet they lived.


An Unggoy, as depicted in the Bestiarum.
Main article: Balaho

The Unggoy homeworld of Balaho is a temperate, swampy planet with a methane atmosphere and naturally occurring pillars of fire. The cold season of their planet makes them highly covet any source of warmth and light they can find, mainly due to the "Blue Death".[10] The planet is still in process of recovery from a global ecological collapse before the activation of the Halo Array due to overindustrialization caused by the Unggoy at the time.[2]

Since their natural environment has a methane atmosphere, they would need to carry methane tanks and breathing apparatus with them whenever they travel into areas without high levels of methane in the air. Since all the other races of the Covenant, and their human enemies, breathe oxygen, the Unggoy find themselves wearing breathing masks more often than not.[23] They have been revealed to be inhabiting large environment domes that have airlocks and methane filters for them to breathe, while not in armor[24] or restocking their methane reserves at battlefield methane tanks. They seem to have high-pitched and squeaky voices, possibly due to the different resonating properties of methane gas. The high-pitched voices are commonly regarded as humorous by most other races, since they tend to sound like frightened children trying to sound intimidating.


Rank structure[edit]

The Unggoy have five classes which are easily identified by the color of their armor and/or the type of armor.

Rank Image Description
Unggoy Leaders
Unggoy Imperial UnggoyImperial.png The Unggoy Imperial rank is a Covenant remnant rank that is mostly comprised of Unggoy that served in the Human-Covenant war.
Unggoy Ultra Halo Reach - Unggoy.png These Unggoy serve as field commanders to their comrades, and wear distinctive white-lilac armor (reminiscent of the Sangheili Ultras). While they appear to have some authority over lesser-ranked Unggoy, they have no control whatsoever over the other Covenant races. They are stronger opponents than their subordinates, and are more accurate with firearms, throw plasma grenades often, and wear heavier armor.
Grunt Specialists
Unggoy Ranger UnggoyRanger.png A specialized group of Unggoy fully trained and armored for extra-vehicular activity.
Special Operations Unggoy HReach - SpecOps Unggoy.png These Unggoy are experienced and specially-chosen, usually commanded by the special operations Sangheili, and are given distinctive jet-black armor. They are part of the Covenant Special Operations division of the Special Warfare Group. Just like the special operations Sangheili, they are able to use active camouflage. They are extremely skilled in warfare compared to their lower-ranked counterparts, and won't panic too often in combat situations, if they do at all. They usually can be seen wielding fuel rod guns, and throw plasma grenades with great accuracy. Many of them chose to side with Thel 'Vadam and his followers during the Great Schism. However, many remained within the Jiralhanae-led units loyal to the Prophets, wearing white armor similar to the Unggoy Ultra. Some loyalist Unggoy were seen during the Battle of Installation 00.
Unggoy Heavy H4-UnggoyHeavy.png Being similar to the rank of UNSC Corporal, these specialized Unggoy wear green colored armor and are often deployed for defensive actions [25]. Their primary purposes are to deploy plasma cannons and man them, although they are occasionally seen wielding fuel rod guns. They can be seen wielding a brute spiker on The Ark. Two or three are seen wielding plasma rifles during the attack on Sword Base on Reach.
Grunt Infantry
Unggoy Major HReach-GruntMajor.png Similar to a UNSC Lance Corporal, they are more experienced than Unggoy Minors, and wear crimson colored armor. They command several Unggoy Minors and are slightly more skilled in combat and courageous, though this difference is not always substantial. In Halo: Combat Evolved, two Sniper Rifle shots in the chest is required for one to die on Legendary (they have roughly the same health as the player in the game).
Unggoy Storm Halo4 Grunt.png Storm Grunts are the Covenant remnant's version of the Grunt Minor.
Unggoy Minor HReach - Unggoy.png The Covenant equivalent of a UNSC Private or Private First Class. They wear orange colored armor and are often the least dangerous, most cowardly, and inaccurate marksmen of all the Unggoy. When their commanding officer is killed, they routinely break formation and flee; however, they will regroup and start firing at their target again. As is fitting for Jiralhanae behavior, Unggoy under the command of the Jiralhanae are substantially more aggressive.

Other titles and roles[edit]

The Deacon is the only position open to the Grunts in the Ministry of Tranquility. Unlike many other roles available to the Unggoy, this rank does not often involve combat or hard manual labor, though they have been known to carry around plasma pistols and Needlers.

Some Unggoy are also known to serve as merchants and are well-respected in the Covenant hierarchy. During the Ascension ceremony of the Covenant's last triumvirate of Hierarchs, a Yanme'e queen, Kig-Yar Shipmasters, and Unggoy traders were present. It was also said that their harnesses were adorned with large jewels.[26]

While Unggoy infantry occasionally choose to employ suicide attacks out of desperation, the Covenant are also known to purposefully assign select fanatical Unggoy squads to use such attacks as their primary offensive tactic against the enemy.[27][28]

The Heretic Unggoy followed their Sangheili organizers in a rebellion against the Covenant's Prophets. They started as members of an artifact retrieval group led by the Sangheili Sesa 'Refumee.


Main article: Unggoy/Gameplay

Overall, the Unggoy in gameplay are very weak in combat; often fleeing when their leader has been killed. However, in larger numbers, they can be more of a threat, especially in higher difficulties. If their leader is killed, Unggoy may sometimes activate two plasma grenades and rush to the player in an attempt to suicide-bomb them.

In Halo Wars, the Unggoy serves as the main infantry unit, serving as the Covenant equivalent to the Marine. They start with a plasma pistol and three in each squad, but they can be upgraded to wield needlers.

A melee attack can kill a Grunt instantly, so when you face no more than 5 of them, don't waste your ammo and just punch them. For large groups use the Gravity Hammer, unless the catch skull is on meaning you have to stay outside their range, as even in close-range the Grunts will not hesitate to spam-grenades at the enemy.


Main-Legendary.png See our gameplay tips related to Unggoy on its gameplay tips page
Graphic Halo.png Check out our collection of quotes related to Unggoy on its quotes page.
  • In Tagalog, Unggoy means "monkey".
  • In real life, "Grunt" is a slang military term for infantrymen.[29]
  • Unggoy enjoy trading human communication files, such as soap operas and comedies, through the black market.[30]
  • The Unggoy were ranked #5 in Game Informer's "The Top 10 Most Pathetic Enemies" list.[31]
  • In Halo: Reach, Unggoy voices were changed. Instead of their original high-pitched and squeaky voices, they sound more deep and mechanical, possibly because of their breathing apparatus. However, they are still being voiced by Joseph Staten.[32]
  • In Halo: Reach, if an Unggoy's methane tank is shot or meleed it may fall off, causing the gas to launch said Unggoy into the air and eventually explode. Many players consider this a great hazard, especially on higher difficulties.
  • The redesigned Unggoy that appear in Halo 4 bear a great deal of resemblance to the wretches from the Gears of War series.


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia, page 142
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Bestiarum
  3. ^ Halo Encyclopedia: page 144
  4. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 191 - "Unggoy: the Elite name for the Grunt race."
  5. ^ a b c d e f The Halo Bulletin - 5.9.12
  6. ^ Halo Legends: Origins
  7. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 150
  8. ^ Halo Encyclopedia, pages 142, 153
  9. ^ Halo Encyclopedia, page 143
  10. ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 237
  11. ^ Halo 3, Sierra 117 - Arbiter: "The Grunts' newfound courage is but fear."
  12. ^ Halo: Glasslands page 90
  13. ^ Codename: SURGEON's post-war analysis
  14. ^ Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction - Page 14
  15. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 150-151
  16. ^ Halo: The Thursday War, pages 186 and 187
  17. ^ Halo 2, campaign level The Arbiter
  18. ^ Halo: First Strike, page 59: Phosphorescent blood pooled beneath their prone forms.
  19. ^ Halo: The Flood, page 27
  20. ^ McFarlane Toys - Halo 4 Storm Grunt
  21. ^ Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 39
  22. ^ Halo Waypoint Forums: Catalog Interaction (post 248247)
  23. ^ Halo: The Flood
  24. ^ Halo: The Flood, page 60
  25. ^ Halo 2, level Gravemind
  26. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 381
  27. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 350
  28. ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level Exodus
  29. ^ Grunt on Wikipedia
  30. ^ Halo Encyclopedia, page 143
  31. ^ GameInformer: Top five video game punching bags.
  32. ^ Bungie.net : Bungie Weekly Update 4.16.10

See also[edit]

Member and client races of the Covenant
San'ShyuumSangheiliJiralhanaeHuragokLekgolo (Dipholekgolo • Khantolekgolo • Mgalekgolo • Rhulolekgolo • Sbaolekgolo • Thanolekgolo)Yanme'eKig-Yar (T'vaoan)UnggoyYonhet