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This page details Halopedia'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 Halo universe. "Official" Halo canon can only be created by developers of the Halo franchise. 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; originally Bungie and now 343 Industries. Simply 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, fans 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 changed appearance of the Master Chief's Mark VI Mjolnir armor in Halo 4 and say "Obviously Cortana redesigned the entire suit using nanomachines while the Chief was in cryo. We see the Spartan-IIs wearing similar armor in the Prologue, so there must have been a Mark IV variant that looked the same as the Chief's new armor. That variant is probably what Cortana modeled the Chief's suit after." 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 Master Chief's and the Halo 4 Prologue Spartans' appearance by saying "The Master Chief's armor looks different because 343 Industries' artists wanted to give the character a new design that suited the art direction they were going for. The Spartans in the Prologue look the same because the developers didn't have the resources to build the fictionally appropriate Mark IV assets and instead reused the Master Chief model for every Spartan in the sequence." 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.
Hierarchy of canon
In simple terms, Halopedia follows 343 Industries' official stance on canon; that is, all published material covering the Halo universe is equally canon unless expressly stated to be otherwise by the developers. This means that games, novels, film and animation works, reference books and official online sources (e.g. Canon Fodder), etc. are all regarded as being on an even footing when it comes to their canon status. The sole exception are marketing campaigns, which are nonetheless considered canon where they do not contradict with released material.
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. As such, the wiki often gets criticized for not able to present the information as the franchise developers intended it to be. Oftentimes, one source of canon may say something different than other sources; many of these inconsistencies are listed here. There are many reasons why this may be so; ranging from a typo or a line taken out of context to simple human error on the author's or editor's part.
While most of such conflicts are settled on a case-by-case basis, Halopedia additionally employs several unofficial policies of its own to help solve canonical conflicts. For example, adaptations are generally considered secondary to the original work. An example of this are the comic and animated adaptations of Halo: The Fall of Reach, in particular the animated series, which diverges from the source material quite drastically in several instances. Nonetheless, these adaptations are considered canonical where they do not conflict with the original work, but the version of the events, characters, etc. shown in the novel is considered "definitive". The same policy can, in a general sense, be extended to most conflicts between written and visual material. For example, slipspace is still canonically considered to be a pitch-black void, as it is described in the novels, despite several works of visual media depicting it with various visible effects similar to common depictions of faster-than-light travel in popular culture; the latter are simply regarded as artistic liberties for the sake of presentation. For similar reasons, gameplay mechanics are generally considered of secondary authority to statements found in canon regarding matters such as characters' strength or the stats of weapons or vehicles, for example.
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.
- 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.
- The Legends short film Odd One Out is a satirical interpretation of the Halo universe and has been confirmed as a non-canon entry by 343 Industries.
- Bungie.net: What is Canon in this Situation?
- Halo Waypoint Forums: Post by GrimbrotherOne ("Yes I would say that theoretically marketing campaigns are definitely the... "squishiest" of details that could be interpreted as canonical.")
- YouTube: Halo 4 Panel | RTX 2012 (39:30: Frank O'Connor: "[the books] are all canonical.")
- Halo Graphic Novel, Editor's Notes
Development of canon
Articles by Halopedians