James Cutter

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James Cutter
Biographical information




June 12, 2479[1][2]






185.4 centimetres (6 ft 1.0 in)[3]


88.5 kilograms (195 lb)[3]

Hair color:

Black, graying

Eye color:


Political and military information





Service number:


Notable info:

Commanded the first UNSC personnel to encounter the Flood

"Where you see half a crew, Isabel, I see family, courage. And a thousand heroes who swore to fight their way through hell before they'd ever... EVER turn their backs and run. And where you see one old ship, I see home. And that is always worth fighting for!"
—Captain Cutter to Isabel and the bridge crew of the Spirit of Fire.[4]

Captain James "Jim" Gregory Cutter (service number 01730-58392-JC)[3] was a senior officer in the UNSC Navy who served during the Insurrection and in the early years of the Human-Covenant War.[5] He commanded the UNSC Spirit of Fire, a Phoenix-class support vessel in Vice Admiral Preston Cole's Third Fleet.[2][6] Cutter had a wife, Mary, with whom he had a daughter on Reach;[7] he also had a mistress on Tribute, with whom he had a son, Daniel Clayton.[8]


Early life

James Gregory Cutter was born on Reach on June 12, 2479.[3] During sixth grade, he had a teacher called Mrs. Ash. During one of her sixth grade spelling tests Cutter got the word "rendezvous" right, leading to him liking the word ever since. After Cutter had left school, his father pushed him to get his degree, and was furious when Cutter became an ensign at the UN Colony Logistics Office and even more furious when he joined flight school, leaving him with the words "Nothing more than a trucker".[1]

Early career

James Cutter, captain of the UNSC Spirit of Fire.

Cutter entered the UNSC School of the North Star on September 15, 2500, where he studied astronavigation and political science. He was then sent to the Officer Candidate School on June 19, 2504 where he was taught in command and navigation. He entered the Naval service as a lieutenant and junior navigation officer aboard the Stick, a diplomatic attaché vessel assigned to UNSC Brilliant Shores, on November 16, 2507. He was later transferred to UNSC Final Summit on January 9, 2514, whereupon he was appointed the ship's chief navigation officer.[9]

He achieved the rank of commander upon his transfer to UNSC Glasgow on August 8, 2519. On May 22, 2524, he received a Bronze Star for his actions aboard UNSC Glasgow against terrorists in the Epsilon Indi system; this gave him the attention of UNSC command.[9] Cutter also served on two other ships during his career before he was given the rank of captain and command of an unidentified ship.[1]

Between 2524 and 2525, Cutter had an extramarital affair with a woman on Tribute. This liaison produced a son, Daniel Clayton.[8]

Shortly after the outbreak of war with the Covenant, Cutter was handpicked by Vice Admiral Preston Cole to command the Spirit of Fire in her new role as center of repair, supply, and forward deployment operations for Battlegroup D, Third Fleet. On August 8, 2525, Cutter arrived aboard Spirit of Fire.[9] As the commanding officer of the Spirit of Fire, he was known to have walked the ship at night to check on his crew. He was so well respected that Inner Colony coffee houses gave him free coffee beans to take with him on long deployments.[10] Cutter's father also toured the ship with his son not long after Cutter was made captain of the ship. His father was impressed and reconciled with James, saying "I guess you knew something, after all. Your mom would be proud".[1]

On January 30, 2528, Cutter was offered command of the Marathon-class heavy cruiser UNSC Prophecy, though he turned it down because he was happy with the Spirit of Fire and it being stationed near Reach. This, however, made it slim for Cutter to be offered something as prestigious as that again.[7][1]

In at least 2528, Terrence Hood was Cutter's executive officer. By November 2530, Cutter gave him command of the UNSC Roman Blue.[8]

Harvest campaign

Main article: Harvest campaign
"Five years, five long years. That's how long it took us to get Harvest back. At first it was going well. Then setback after setback... Loss after loss... Made what was going to be a quick and decisive win... Into five years of Hell. Of course, that's all Harvest really is today... It's Hell down there, but now it's ours again."
—Cpt. Cutter about Harvest campaign[11]
Cutter, Anders and Serina observing a holographic topographical map of Harvest.

On January 3, 2531, Cutter was handpicked by Preston Cole to command the Spirit of Fire to assist the UNSC Prophecy over Harvest. Around February 4, 2531, when the Spirit arrived, it was too late, and Cutter sent a team to initiate the Hypodermic-FXT-J in the Prophecy.[12][9]

By the time Professor Ellen Anders arrived, Cutter had developed a close working relationship with the ship's AI, Serina, and was initially suspicious of presence of Professor Ellen Anders, a civilian consultant forcibly recruited by the Office of Naval Intelligence; he suspected that there was more to her than met the eye.[13] After making a log on the "five years of hell" that led to the reclamation of the planet, Spirit of Fire remained in the Epsilon Indi system. Cutter believed that although Harvest had been reclaimed by the UNSC, it was unlikely that the Covenant would simply back down.

His belief was soon vindicated when Sergeant John Forge alerted Cutter that the Covenant had uncovered a Forerunner structure in the planet's northern polar region, with Professor Anders giving further proof of this claim. Cutter thus ordered that Alpha Base be brought back online[14] and the site be taken.[15] Upon the discovery of a Forerunner starmap inside the structure,[11] Anders determined that the map pointed to her homeworld, Arcadia, and advised Cutter to set course for the planet. His trust in Anders had been strengthened by the bravery she had displayed on Harvest,[13] so he came to agree with the professor's assessment; after informing Vice Admiral Cole of his intentions, Cutter ordered Serina to set a course for Arcadia.[16]

Battle of Arcadia

Main article: Battle of Arcadia
Cpt. Cutter, Sgt. Forge and Jerome-092 discuss how to proceed after Prof. Anders's abduction.

Upon arrival at Arcadia on February 9, 2531, Serina reported to Cutter that the colony had come under attack by the Covenant and was in the midst of a full invasion. Cutter ordered Marines to the planet to evacuate civilian population centers.[16] After the Marines and Spartan Red Team evacuated Pirth City, Cutter was informed of a Covenant energy dome on the surface of the planet near an ONI facility, protecting Covenant forces searching for Forerunner artifacts and concealing their activities. Cutter ordered Anders down to the surface in order to deactivate the energy dome using plasma-based Rhino artillery tanks.[17] After clearing out Covenant forces under the dome, Anders was captured by Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee and taken aboard a Covenant destroyer. Forge was in strong favor of rescuing Anders, though Spartan Jerome-092 referred to Anders' capture as a "significant security breach" and suggested that the Covenant ship be destroyed. Cutter gave the order to pursue the enemy vessel through slipspace on to an unknown destination.[18] Though a log buoy detailing Spirit of Fire's whereabouts had been left near Arcadia, Captain Terrence Hood's desire for vengeance against the Covenant caused the log buoy to become irretrievable; as such, Cutter and Spirit of Fire were lost to the UNSC.[8]

Etran Harborage

Main article: Battle of the Etran Harborage
"If the Covenant get their hands on these ships it will mean the end of the war. We'll take our chances here, to give humanity some hope."
—Cpt. Cutter's gamble[19]
Cutter, Anders and Serina planning the operation to destroy the shield world.

Spirit of Fire arrived at an uncharted, desert planet (in reality a Forerunner shield world) on February 23; Anders' transponder signal was detected emanating from the planet's surface. Cutter sent several Marine reconnaissance teams to the planet, where a parasitic lifeform the ship's medical team believed to be a virus[12] (actually the Flood) was soon found to have infested the biosphere.[18][20] Spirit of Fire was eventually drawn downward through a chasm beneath an artificial lake, though Cutter was adamant that all groundside personnel would be recovered rather than abandoned to the Flood.[21] Once inside the artificial planet's superstructure the vessel came under attack from both the Flood and local Forerunner Sentinels; Cutter ordered response teams to the dorsal surface to keep the ship's interior from being compromised.[22]

Spirit of Fire soon emerged within the shield world's interior and almost immediately collided with a CPV-class destroyer. Spirit's reactor was severely damaged and required repairs before the ship could escape. Cutter was thus forced to coordinate a delaying action at metaphorical point-blank range while Sergeant Forge's Marines conducted repairs.[23] Anders escaped and was soon found by Sergeant Forge. She had gained knowledge of a fleet of Forerunner dreadnoughts that the Covenant planned to use against humanity.[24] She quickly devised a plan to use the Spirit of Fire's FTL reactor to cause the artificial star inside the shield world to go supernova, thus destroying the ships before the Covenant could make use of them; Cutter understood that this would limit Spirit of Fire to sublight speed, though he considered the sacrifice necessary when weighed against the possible extinction of humanity.[19] Forge and Spartan Red Team killed the Arbiter and his guards when delivering the FTL drive to its destination, although the reactor core was damaged. Forge stayed behind to manually overload the reactor. With the shield world's utter destruction eminent, the captain ordered Red Team and numerous Marines to deactivate the hard light barrier that enclosed the exit portal. Cutter ordered Serina to make a dangerous slingshot maneuver around the expanding star and the ship escaped the ensuing explosion, after which Spirit of Fire began a long journey home.

On March 11, 2531, Cutter forced Anders into cryostasis, reassuring her that her plan had gotten everyone out of the shield world alive. As the pod closed, Anders reminded the captain that not everyone had survived. Cutter then paid his respects at the late Sergeant Forge's cryotube before making a round of the ship.[25] The following day, Cutter walked the ship to check on the crew still recovering. He assured Nurse Lulu Hershey that she would get to see her fiancé again, and then returned to his cabin to write five more commendations, fourteen family condolences letters and a note to his wife, as well as to finally sleep for the first time in two weeks.[12]


Cutter inside the Spirit of Fire's cryo room.

Spirit of Fire was declared "lost with all hands" on February 10, 2534, the ship having previously been classified as missing in action. The reason for this change was kept top secret. A memorial service was held for the vessel's crew, but many family members chose not to attend, holding out hope that their loved ones were still alive.[12][note 1]

After the Human-Covenant War's conclusion, Spirit of Fire and her crew were honored at the dedication of the living monument, along with numerous other ships that had been lost with all hands during the war.[26]

Daniel Clayton's revenge

Main article: Ambush at Oth Lodon

On March 11, 2558, the UNSC flagship Infinity recovered the civilian freighter Pilgrims Pride after intercepting a distress call from the Artesia-702 system. Several AC-220 Vultures and AV-22 Sparrowhawks emerged from the freighter and launched a short-lived Trojan horse attack inside Infinity. It was soon discovered that these craft had been previously assigned to Spirit of Fire.[27]

Despite the diplomatic risks, Lord Terrence Hood, who felt guilty over his role in the Spirit of Fire's disappearance and the loss of his former commanding officer, ordered Infinity to investigate. When they arrived at the specified coordinates near Oth Lodon, they found not the Spirit but a Covenant space station. Cutter's illegitimate son, Captain Daniel Clayton contacted Infinity, revealing himself to be aligned with the New Colonial Alliance, an Insurrectionist group. Believing Lord Hood to be responsible for his father's death, Clayton ordered his crew to attack Infinity with the station's energy projector.[8] Although Infinity was disabled by the attack, the Spartans were able to board the station and stop Clayton, delivering him and his underlings to UNSC captivity.[28]

Installation 00

Main article: Battle of Installation 00 (2559)
Cutter questioning Isabel about the events that had occurred on the Ark.
"If we don't stop Atriox now, we leave the galaxy at the mercy of a monster. So no, Isabel. We won't be running anywhere today."
—Cpt. Cutter calling his crew to action.[4]

In 2559, after 28 years of being in cryo sleep, James Cutter and the rest of the crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire were awakened in orbit above the Forerunner Installation 00. There Cutter and the crew encountered the Banished, led by the Jiralhanae Atriox.[29]

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Personality and traits

As the captain of the UNSC Spirit of Fire, Cutter was confident with those around him and was met with strong loyalty from the crew. His stance and voice identified him as an intelligent, unambiguous, and thoughtful leader who carried the weight of the Covenant conflict on his shoulders.[5] Though he looked old for his age, he put forth the energy and determination of men half his age. He was almost always at attention while listening to his advisors and crew. He was constantly on the move with no need for pomp and circumstance. This lack of flourish rallied many behind him and made him the perfect leader for the battles ahead.[1]

Cutter was an officer from the start, but his demeanor was never one of a do-nothing officer like many of his class. He was fed up of watching his men die from the bridge, leading to him seeking for ways for humanity to gain an advantage in the war.[5] Many officers of his class had political aspirations far beyond their potential, but Cutter found it more interesting to "talk shop" with the non-commissioned servicemen. He liked his fellow officers, but he believed in "get[ting] to know and respect your men, and they'll give you 200 percent when the time comes." This approach had good and bad sides. Though his record of service and bravery was well known within the fleet his lack of political ambition, his unwillingness to climb the ladder of the UNSC by stepping over others, kept him from far more. He could easily have been an admiral if he had ever cared to be.[note 2][1]

The amount of assignments with missions the UNSC Spirit of Fire undertook was something that made Cutter smile behind his morning coffee.[1] He sometimes refers to ships in archaic nautical terms, although he has never seen an actual waterborne military vessel.[5]

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Production notes

Main-Legendary.png See our gameplay information related to James Cutter in its gameplay page
Graphic Halo.png Check out our collection of quotes related to James Cutter in its quotes page.
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  • Cutter was voiced by Gregg Berger in Halo Wars. Coincidentally, Berger voiced G.I. Joe member Cutter in the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero animated series. Gideon Emery provides Cutter's voice, likeness, and motion capture performance in Halo Wars 2, albeit digitally aged to match Cutter's biological age. The recasting was due to changes in Blur Studio's animation technology; whereas the cinematics in Halo Wars used hand-sculpted and animated models, Blur has since come to adopt full performance capture technology, for which an actor bearing a closer resemblance to the character was deemed necessary.[30] Emery also portrays Cutter in the War of Wits live-action promotional shorts.
  • Early concept art for Captain Cutter bears an uncanny resemblance to Ian McDiarmid, the actor best known for portraying Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars film series.


List of appearances


  1. ^ Graeme Devine, the lead writer of Halo Wars, wrote several essays about Spirit of Fire to assist the game's production team; however, he admits they are "basically fanfiction" and some blatantly contradict canon. According to Devine's blog, various theories circulated throughout the UNSC as to the ship's fate, ranging from being lost during a covert mission for ONI, destroyed in orbit over Arcadia, defecting to Insurrectionist forces, or being stranded in space. When Captain Cutter's widow, Mary, was asked about the defection theory, she physically assaulted the reporter.
  2. ^ Halo Wars: Official Strategy Guide uses the term General instead of Admiral.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Halo Wars: Official Strategy Guide, page 20
  2. ^ a b Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 43
  3. ^ a b c d e Halo Waypoint - James Gregory Cutter
  4. ^ a b Halo Wars 2 campaign level A New Enemy
  5. ^ a b c d Halo Wars: Limited Edition, Cutter leader card
  6. ^ Halo Wars Official Community Site, Spirit of Fire Facts
  7. ^ a b Game Daily (defunct link)
  8. ^ a b c d e Halo: Escalation, Issue #5
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Halo Wars: Genesis
  10. ^ Game Daily (defunct link)
  11. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Relic Interior
  12. ^ a b c d Halo Wars Timeline Events
  13. ^ a b Game Daily (defunct link)
  14. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Alpha Base
  15. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Relic Approach
  16. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Arcadia City
  17. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Dome of Light
  18. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Anders' Signal
  19. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Reactor
  20. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level The Flood
  21. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Shield World
  22. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Cleansing
  23. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Repairs
  24. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Beachhead
  25. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Escape
  26. ^ Halo Living Monument
  27. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #4
  28. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #6
  29. ^ GameSpot: Halo Wars 2 New Story Details and Images Revealed
  30. ^ Halo Waypoint - Warzone Firefight Sneak Peek
  31. ^ Spartan Games: Halo Waypoint Update with Spartan - NEW SHIPS!