List of pop culture references in the Halo series
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- With the IWHBYD skull activated, Marines in Halo 3 will sometimes shout "THIS IS SPARTA," a reference to a line in the movie and a popular internet meme.
- In Origins, ancient Greek Spartans are depicted in a scene strongly evocative of a particular shot from 300 in color palette and composition, though in Origins the Spartans' armor is portrayed more authentically than in 300 apart from the erroneous depiction of the emblems on their shields.
- The story of Soren-066 in Pariah is reminiscent of Ephialtes of Trachis as he is portrayed in 300. Both are deformed and as a result unfit for battle, and betray the Spartans after they refuse to let them serve. In particular, a scene where Chief Mendez explains Soren why he cannot serve in battle with the other Spartans mirrors a similar scene in 300 between Spartan king Leonidas and Ephialtes.
2001: A Space Odyssey
In Halo: The Thursday War, Evan Phillips requests the Black-Box fragment to "drop the sorry-Dave-I-can't-do-that crap" in response to the latter's malfunctioning while stranded in the Temple of the Abiding Truth. This is referring to the famous line by the AI HAL 9000.
- Main article: List of references to Aliens in the Halo series
The Halo universe, particularly Halo: Combat Evolved, has been heavily influenced by the film Aliens in terms of story, characters, designs, and technology. In addition, a number of direct references are made to the Alien franchise throughout the Halo series.
- The four mandibles of the Sangheili are similar to those of the Predator.
- The cloaking device of the Predator is similar to active camouflage.
- The energy sword, the signature melee weapon of the Sangheili, is the counterpart of the Predator's wrist blades.
- The opening of Predator could resemble the cutscene from the level, "The Flood" introducing Fire Team Charlie. Both teams are being dropped off into jungle-like terrain by helicopter. In this case, a Pelican.
- The Elites' honor system in battle resembles the Predators'.
- Both the Elites and the Predators have worked with humanity to eliminate a greater threat. The Sangheili worked with humanity against the Flood and Truth's loyalists, and the Predators worked with humans against the xenomorphs.
When picking up a Spartan Laser, Dutch will occasionally shout "Don't nobody cross my stream!". This is a reference to the proton beams in the Ghostbusters films, which would theoretically annihilate the entire universe if crossed with one another.
- A pair of vehicle skins for Halo: CE in Halo: The Master Chief Collection are references to Jurassic Park:
- The "Park Ranger" skin for the Warthog is designed to resemble the tour vehicles seen in the film, and has the description "Spared no expense" - a direct reference to a quote from John Hammond in the first film.
- The "Clever Girl" skin for the Rocket Warthog instead resembles the jeeps used by the staff of Jurassic Park in the film, its name is a reference to Robert Muldoon's famous final words as he is outsmarted and killed by a Velociraptor, and its description "Objects in this mirror are closer than they appear" is taken from an earlier scene where Ian Malcolm, Ellie Sattler, and Muldoon are chased by a Tyrannosaurus.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
- References to the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise have been included in three Halo Infinite multiplayer maps. Each of these instances were the work of Sperasoft artist Ivan Yakushev.
- On the multiplayer map Streets, there is pixel art of a pigeon with the head of Evangelion Unit-02 from the anime film series Rebuild of Evangelion.
- On the multiplayer map Cliffhanger, cave art of two pigeons in the style of the Nazca Lines can be found. The left pigeon features the logo of the mysterious organization from Neon Genesis Evangelion known as SEELE. It is possible that the intent behind this logo's inclusion was to draw connections between SEELE and the Office of Naval Intelligence, the latter of which is a major theme of the map Cliffhanger.
- On the multiplayer map Forest, the previous cave art showing a pigeon in the style of the Nazca Lines with the SEELE logo can also be found, this time within a group of several other pigeons, each with different styling.
- The "Jacknife" armor coating released in Season 04: Infection bears the color scheme of Evangelion Unit-01, and the name of the coating may be a reference to the Progressive Knife, a weapon wielded by Unit-01 on several occasions.
- The "Cyclopean" emblem and nameplate released during the Spirit of Fire operation features a HRUNTING Mark III (S) Cyclops and a description reading: "Get in the mechsuit, Shinji!" The description is a reference to the popular internet meme: "Get in the fucking robot, Shinji!" This quote never actually appears in the series and was instead created by Neon Genesis Evangelion fans to mock the character Shinji Ikari's regular refusal to pilot Evangelion Unit-01, which is often likened to a mech.
- The Zurdo-pattern Wraith heavily resembles the Armored Assault Tank (AAT) from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
- The scene in Halo: Combat Evolved where the Halo is shown and when the camera pans out to show the Pillar of Autumn looks quite similar like the opening scenes of each Star Wars episode.
- Sometimes, with the IWHBYD skull activated, a Marine can be heard saying "They remind me of Wookiees from Star Wars," after they kill a Brute. When fighting Brutes, Sergeant Stacker occasionally says, "Hey, Chewie. You're about to be turned into a foot rest!", in reference to Chewbacca.
- The Elephant bears a great resemblance to the Jawa Sandcrawlers.
- Edwards Buck's line "Look at the size of that thing!" in regard to the assault carrier over New Mombasa is a quote from Wedge Antilles, commenting on the size of the Death Star.
- With the IWHBYD skull active on the level New Alexandria, one of the gunners on the Falcon the player pilot sometimes says, "It's like shooting swamp-rats back home". This is a reference to a line by Luke Skywalker, who claims starfighter combat is "Just like bullseyeing womp rats back home!"
- Noble Six's line "The last transport is away," is likely a reference to Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. A similar line, "The first transport is away," is said when an orbiting Star Destroyer is disabled by a land-based ion cannon, allowing a transport vessel to evacuate Echo Base; In Halo: Reach, SPARTAN-B312's line is said when an overhead Covenant corvette is damaged by a land-based missile battery, allowing a civilian transport vessel to escape.
- The game stats description for the BOBs in Halo: Reach is "Wipe them out..." In addition to referencing the tendency of players to kill the similarly-named non-player characters in Bungie's Marathon series, this could be a reference to Palpatine's line "Wipe them out... all of them" from The Phantom Menace, given that Bungie had previously referenced dialog from that film in their Halo: Reach updates (namely, "A communications disruption can mean only one thing..." in relation to the Invasion gametype).
- In the Halo Reach level, Lone Wolf, the checkpoint's name is "There'll be another time", a reference to a line spoken by Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
- In Halo Infinite's loading screens, several Star Wars references are made:
- The "A fine addition to my collection" quote of General Grievous' habit to collect lightsabers.
- Another Grievous reference it's the "You must realize you are doomed" quote, said before his final duel against Obi Wan Kenobi.
- "You're a bold one" is another Grievous reference, said when Obi Wan Kenobi appears on the droid base.
- Anakin's "This is where fun begins" at the start of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
- The last part of Padme's quote ("So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.") when Palpatine restructures the Republic into the Galactic Empire.
- "Death Sticks" are a highly addictive illegal drug. In Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, a Death Stick dealer wants to sell the drug to Obi Wan Kenobi. In Halo Infinite, the Death Stick is used as a nickname for the Gravity Hammer.
The Halo 3 multiplayer level The Pit was referred to as "Cyberdyne" during its production. The name references Cyberdyne Systems of the Terminator series.
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
In Halo Wars, Marines will occasionally shout "We don't need no stinking Spartans!", a reference to famous misquote "We don't need no stinking badges!" In reality, the line is a combination of "We don't need no badges" and "I ain't got to show you no stinking badges!"
The frequently-used movie stock sound effect known as the "Wilhelm Scream" appears several times in the Halo series:
- In Halo: Last One Standing, the scream can be heard moments after T. Rymann is killed, when the Marines take cover from a Banshee's fuel rod. It is barely audible through the noise of the explosion.
- In Halo Wars, the scream appears in the opening cinematic of the level Alpha Base, when a Marine is hit in the back by a plasma blast.
- The scream is heard in Halo: Reach, in the opening cutscene of the level Tip of the Spear, as a Warthog falls off a bridge, accompanied by another trooper screaming. However, the Wilhelm Scream is not heard on all difficulties as the scream varies according to difficulty.
- In Part 9 the motion comic adaptation of The Mona Lisa, when Commander Tobias Foucault is watching a recording of the events of Installation 04, the scream is heard when a Marine is overwhelmed by the Flood.
- In Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn the scream is heard in the classified video Michael Sullivan shows to his fellow cadets, as an Insurrectionist is thrown against a wall, just after the Spartan announces an unknown hostile.
- The scream is heard in the fourth Halo 4 terminal when the Flood are seen bursting through a door to attack a group of Forerunners.
- In the introductory cinematic to the Flood missions in Halo: Spartan Assault, the scream is heard when the fireball from the Fleet of Retribution's glassing strike overwhelms an African city.
Marines can be heard saying 'Frak', the trademark expletive of the show. The novel Halo: Cryptum also shows several parallels to the reimagined version of the show, such as a highly-advanced human civilization forced after warfare to live without technology on Earth, further enhanced by both taking place 150,000 years before the present day.
The Dukes of Hazzard
- With the IWHBYD skull on, Marines or Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck, will yell out the horn from the General Lee should the player do something insane in the Warthog.
- Sometimes Gunnery Sergeant Stacker will say: "Drive her like she's got a trunk-full-of-moonshine!" when ordered out of the drivers seat of a Warthog, a reference to the Dukes' family moonshine smuggling business.
Firefly and Serenity
- Nathan Fillion (Malcolm Reynolds), Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb), and Alan Tudyk (Hoban "Wash" Washburne) provided the voices of Marine NPCs for Halo 3. All three actors returned to voice main characters in Halo 3: ODST: Buck, Dutch, and Mickey, respectively. Their in-game dialogue contains multiple references to Firefly. Commonly heard references include "Gorram", "Gorramit" and, in Halo 3, "Shiny, the Chief is here."
- Marines voiced by Adam Baldwin can be heard saying, "Say 'hi' to Vera!" and "Gee, it'd be nice if we brought some grenades, wouldn't it?!" The former is a reference to Jayne Cobb's favorite weapon, while the latter is a direct quote from Jayne.
- Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds, (who is voiced by Nathan Fillion), is named in reference to Malcolm Reynolds, Fillion's character from Firefly and Serenity. Fillion returned in Halo 3: ODST as Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck, who boasts a very similar personality to Reynolds and is based on Fillion's likeness.
- Mickey in Halo 3: ODST has previously served as a pilot and serves as an impromptu pilot for the squad during the events of the game. Alan Tudyk's character in Firefly and Serenity, Hoban "Wash" Washburn, is the pilot of the eponymous vessel.
- The Charon-class light frigate has an enlarged cargo bay that greatly resembles that of the eponymous 03 Firefly class, the class to which Serenity belongs.
- The name of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection achievement It Was Inevitable is a reference to the a scene from the episode "Serenity", in which Wash is playing with two dinosaur models when the Tyrannosaurus turns on the Stegosaurus who then exclaims, "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!". The quote was referenced again on Halo 5: Guardians, with the second chapter of the fifth level named "Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal".
- In the Second Battle of Harvest, the presence of 40 UNSC ships-of-the-line against one overwhelmingly powerful enemy ship strikes a remarkable resemblance to the Star Trek-Universe's Battle of Wolf 359. At Wolf-359 the Federation's (or Humanity's) numerically superior fleet of 40 starships took on a single Borg Cube. The results, however, were completely opposite to those of the Halo Universe. The Federation lost 39 of its 40 vessels, and the Borg Cube left the battle without so much as a scratch on its hull and moved on towards Earth.
- Spock is a cat seen in Halo Wars that may take its name from Mr. Spock from the Original Series.
- In Conversations from the Universe, 343 Guilty Spark calls the Covenant a "primitive, hegemonizing swarm"; in the Adjunct section of the re-release of Halo: The Flood, Spark again refers to them as a "Tier 2 Hegemonizing/Religio-political Swarm". In the Culture series, the titular Culture uses the classification "aggressive hegemonizing swarm" to refer to self-replicating entities which assimilate other life forms.
- The Halo rings are very similar in concept to Orbitals from the Culture series, although the Halos are significantly smaller.
- Many human ships in the Halo universe, particularly in the works of Joseph Staten, have whimsical, unconventional names such as UNSC Say My Name, UNSC Tokyo Rules or UNSC Bum Rush. A similar nonstandard ship naming convention is a well-known staple of the Culture series.
- In Halo: Mortal Dictata, when told about Kilo-Five's new Pelican Bogof ("Buy One, Get One Free"), Evan Phillips jokingly comments on the "gravitas" of the dropship's name. This is likely a nod to a running joke involving the incorporation of the word "gravitas" into the fanciful ship names of the Culture series.
- The Portal at Voi is also referred to as "the Excession at Voi" or simply "the Excession". This echoes the Culture's designation of the titular object in the novel Excession. Although different in scale and technology level, the term is also applied in a similar manner as in Banks' novel: an atypically high-technological object that presents what is referred to as an "Outside Context Problem" and may become a contested prize for multiple parties due to the potential technology it may contain.
- Neural interfaces are also referred to as "neural laces", which is also a term used for the neurally-integrated data terminals used by Culture citizens.
- In the data pads in Halo: Reach, members of the Assembly refer to themselves as "Minds", referencing the title given to the machine intellects which comprise the de facto leadership of the Culture.
- Banks' 1993 non-Culture novel Against a Dark Background makes a passing reference to a vast, sentient space habitat called "Halo".
- John Keats' poem Ode on a Grecian Urn is referenced in one of the Mayday Texts. The quote "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" is paraphrased in the statement "survive evade reveal escape. That is all you know, or need to know."
- While held in the clutches of the Gravemind, Cortana criticizes her captor's poetry, saying he is no Keats.
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel written by William Golding in 1954. It discusses how culture created by man fails and how man shall always turn to barbarism, using parallels of a group of school-boys stuck on a deserted island who unsuccessfully try to govern themselves and consequently have disastrous results, leading to many acts of horrible barbarism and deaths. CPO Mendez and Kurt-051 had both read the book some time before beginning the training of the first generation of SPARTAN-III soldiers in 2531. Mendez fears that the results of training hundreds of child soldiers would be similarly disastrous, but Kurt disagrees, believing he would provide the leadership to make the SPARTAN-IIIs successful.
The Lord of the Rings
Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask is a novel written by Alexander Dumas in 1850. Catherine Halsey has read the novel. Remembering the terror she had felt as the noble prisoner had been encased in a metal shell, Halsey wondered how the Master Chief coped with the constant enclosure of his suit.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is referenced in the quote displayed in the header of I Love Bees (Blog): "One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."
- In the fourteenth of the Mayday Texts, the Operator says "If they're all dead and I alone am left to tell the tale", which bears similarity to "And I only am escaped alone to tell thee" from Job 1:17, included in the epilogue of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick, in the similar context of the main character having just survived a shipwreck.
- The achievements From Hell's Heart and I Thrust at Thee in Halo: Reach and Halo 4, respectively, are named in reference to Captain Ahab's last words from the novel ("...from hell's heart, I stab at thee!").
In Dr. Halsey's personal journal, Halsey mentions her father recited every "adventurous tale of L. Frank Baum's Oz" to her when she was a child.
Run Silent, Run Deep
The nineteenth of the Mayday Texts includes the quote "got to run silent. got to run deep", which alludes to Edward L. Beach's Run Silent, Run Deep, a World War II submarine story based on Moby-Dick.
Skylark of Valeron
The word "Needler" came from Skylark of Valeron by E. E. "Doc" Smith, a pioneer in science fiction.
- The SOEIV pods used by the ODSTs were inspired by the concept of orbital drop pods popularized by the novel.
- Starship Troopers was one of the first science fiction stories to depict powered exoskeletons, which are commonplace in the Halo universe.
- The achievement Alas, Poor Yorick references a line from Hamlet.
- In the third Mayday Text, the Operator says, "Those are pearls that were her eyes: / Nothing of her that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange". This is nearly a direct quote from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, but with "her" substituted for "his".
- She goes on to say "Eight legs (I feel them walking on me) and how many voices-three? Five? Eight? - I am become a most delicate monster indeed.", another reference to The Tempest. The original quote is "Four legs and two voices: a most delicate monster!"
- Directly after, she makes another reference to The Tempest with "What a brave new world-sand and darkness, sand and loneliness, sand and emptiness, sand and the spider-what a brave new world, that hath such monsters in it." The original quote is "O brave new world / That has such people in't."
- In the fifth Mayday Text, she makes one more The Tempest reference with "All lost! To prayers, to prayers! All lost!" and "What, must our mouths be cold?" from the first scene of the play, during a shipwreck.
- Mack's misquoting of Shakespeare is a running motif throughout Halo: Contact Harvest.
- The name of the UNSC Unto the Breach, a post-war Autumn-class heavy cruiser, references a line from Henry V, "Once more unto the breach". This is also referenced with the opening of the Halo: Reach level Pillar of Autumn which is labelled as "Once more unto the breach".
In Halo 5: Guardians, if the player selects Yabda as the announcer, plays a Warzone match, and has their teammates die to Promethean Knight bosses (e.g. Knight Headsman), Yabda may say "That Knight's knee-deep in dead human! What?", which is a reference to "Knee-Deep in the Dead", the first episode in Doom.
Prince of Persia
In the axon shipwrecked, Kamal Zaman says "People think time is a river that flows in one direction, but time is an ocean." This is a reference to "Some say time is like a river that flows swift and sure in one direction, but I have seen the face of time and I can tell you they are wrong. Time is an ocean in a storm." said by the Prince in Prince of Persia. Both characters are voiced by Yuri Lowenthal.
Guns N' Roses
Rarely in Halo: Combat Evolved, or while having the IWHBYD skull on in Halo 3, some Grunts will say "We are the champions," which is the name of a song by Queen. In 2014, 343 Industries released a trailer setting gameplay footage from the Master Chief Collection to We Will Rock You, using sound effects from the games to recreate the song.
- Halo: The Thursday War, page 102
- Twitter, Jeff Simpson (@jeffsimpsonkh): "...of course I got the EVA01 skin." (Retrieved on Jul 16, 2023) [archive]
-  Memory-Alpha: Battle of Wolf 359
- Marathon Story Page (Original source: PC Gamer (US) August 2000 issue)
- Halo: Mortal Dictata, pages 292-293
- Halo: Evolutions — From the Office of Dr. William Arthur Iqbal
- Dr. Halsey's personal journal
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - Human Weakness
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 70
- Halo: Outcasts, chapter 11
- Halo: First Strike, page 244
- I Love Bees (blog)