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This article is about the Forerunner term. For articles of the same name, see Reclaimer (disambiguation).
The Forerunner glyph for "Reclaimer".

"The Oracle calls them "Reclaimers". But what do they reclaim? These machines? These cities? These worlds? Or, as I fear, are they to reclaim the Mantle we so terribly squandered?"
Minister of Discovery[1]

"Reclaimer" is a Forerunner term used to refer to a species (or a member of said species) chosen to be the inheritors of the Mantle,[2] the stewardship over all life originally held by the Precursors. Following the activation of the Halo Array and the ensuing Reintroduction, this refers to humans, whom the Forerunners (more pointedly those allied with the Librarian) regarded as their rightful successors. In particular the term is applied to humans who carry the requisite Lifeworker-created geas that allow them to activate Forerunner technology;[3] indeed, a great deal of the Forerunners' abandoned technology may be activated only when used by a Reclaimer. For most of their history, however, the Forerunners considered themselves the rightful inheritors of the Mantle from the Precursors, who had originally intended to pass the Mantle down to humanity.


Generally speaking, the term "Reclaimer" refers to humans (as a species or as individuals) retaking stewardship of the Mantle. However, technically the term denotes humans who are capable of activating Forerunner technology.[4] This is due to the presence of geas implanted by the Librarian,[3] which give at least some humans an instinctive familiarity (often a feeling of déjà vu) when encountering Forerunner technology. For example, Spartan John-117 simply "knew" how to activate a holographic control panel on Halo Installation 04, despite it being the first piece of Forerunner technology he had ever encountered.[5] This innate knowledge extends to Covenant technology as well, as Covenant technology is crudely reverse-engineered from Forerunner designs.[6] In the same vein, Forerunner technology responds to human presence much as it would have done in the presence of its creators, though it will not do so for other species. Though it is unclear how commonly the geas may be found among humans, it is known that at least some are incapable of properly interfacing with Forerunner technology.[4] An imprint of Birth-to-Light once told Rion Forge of the Librarian and the mark that she had left on the human race that "all of humanity carries remnants of her work from times past - passed along from generation to generation, becoming dormant but never gone. It is what propels our technology to recognize your status and allow interaction.[7]

Along with implanting the geas necessary to utilize Forerunner relics, the Librarian planted "seeds" that led to some of humanity's most important technological achievements. Specifically, this genesong led to the creation of the SPARTAN programs and their MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor, as well as Smart AI.[8] These developments enabled humanity - primarily through the efforts of John-117 and Cortana - to defeat the Ur-Didact during his renewed campaign to compose humanity into Promethean Knights.[9] Despite this tragedy, the Librarian originally hoped that the Didact would emerge from stasis after millennia of meditation to guide humanity; he was to give them the Janus Key, thereby providing the location of all Forerunner technology in the galaxy and securing the Reclaimers' ascendancy.[10]

The status of Reclaimer was conferred upon humanity as an emergency directive on the authority of the remains of the New Council (namely the Librarian and the IsoDidact) during the events surrounding the firing of the Halo Array. This overrode the Builder-controlled Old Council's previous ruling from ten thousand years earlier which involved humanity's biological and technological regression as punishment for their part in the human-Forerunner wars. However, following the enactment of this punitive measure, the Librarian had been secretly modifying humanity's geas for thousands of years to prepare them to take on the role of Reclaimers — against the direct orders of the Council.[3]

Strangely, 343 Guilty Spark, the monitor of Halo Installation 04, once insisted to John-117, "You are Forerunner."[11] This is presumably metaphorical, as Mendicant Bias likewise claimed the Reclaimers as its makers,[12] despite humanity being genetically and culturally distinct from the Forerunners. Alternately, this may be due to the onset of rampancy; Guilty Spark had previously treated the Master Chief as if the latter were the IsoDidact, responding to a question the IsoDidact had asked 100,000 years prior.[13][14]

Failures to recognize Reclaimer status[edit]

As the UNSC Spirit of Fire was pulled inside of Trove on February 23, 2531, the ship and her crew were scanned by the installation's decontamination network. In addition to detecting a high-order Flood infestation, the ancilla in charge of the network's cleansing rings failed to recognize the crew as Reclaimers. As the Spirit of Fire's crew and complement were regarded as an "unknown alien intrusion", they were forced to engage a bevy of Sentinels in addition to fighting the Flood on the surface of the ship.[15]

During the Onyx Conflict in October-November 2552, the SPARTAN-III Ash-G099 failed to provide the appropriate counter-response to a Sentinel after initially being recognized as a Reclaimer.[16] This caused the Sentinel to reclassify Ash as a "non-Reclaimer" and an "aboriginal subspecies" of humanity.[16]

During the Requiem Campaign, Jul 'Mdama's forces captured Hawk Squad and forced them to activate a Forerunner map of Requiem at "Lockup," but the structure failed to recognize them as Reclaimers.[17]

Humans identified as Reclaimers[edit]

Given that all known bestowals of the "Reclaimer" title have occurred during military engagements, all individuals identified as such have been either military personnel or civilian advisers.

As understood by the Covenant[edit]

The Reclaimer glyph was one of the holiest icons in the Covenant religion, as well as the source of one of its greatest flaws. For millennia, the Covenant's leadership misinterpreted the "Reclaimer" glyph (which they read upside down) as "Reclamation". The Prophets misconstrued this as the Covenant's divine mandate to procure "holy" Forerunner technology from areas of space known as reliquaries; the Ages of Reclamation were designated as periods of significant Forerunner discoveries. While incorrectly understood by the Covenant as their quest for Forerunner relics, the Reclamation is an actual concept pertaining to the Reclaimers' process of reattaining the Mantle.[53] Like the Forerunners, the Covenant (if only the Prophets) considered themselves the inheritors of the Mantle.[1] However, because the Covenant's member species are not recognized as Reclaimers (being referred to as "intruders" and "meddlers" by 343 Guilty Spark), they require human captives to activate certain Forerunner technology, most notably the Halo rings, the Ark, and shield worlds. One notable exception is Jul 'Mdama, who gained the allegiance of the Promethean Knights on the shield world Requiem following the Didact's apparent demise; he was able to set Requiem on a collision course with its star, though it seems he was given the Didact's override to accomplish this.[54] While the Banished War Chief Escharum scorned Castor for using humans to activate the Menachite portal complex in October 2559, the old Dokab was well-aware of the human affinity for Forerunner technology, having witnessed humans activate devices that Kig-Yar scavengers and Sangheili priests had proclaimed to be worthless.[55]


For many Ages, the Covenant used Luminaries (crude AIs based on Forerunner ancillas) to pinpoint concentrations of Forerunner artifacts. At the turn of 2524 - 2525, the Luminary aboard the vessel Minor Transgression led the ship's crew to the human colony world of Harvest. Ultimately, communications between the planet's government and the Covenant broke down, leading to the first major conflict between the two civilizations and the planet's eventual glassing. A trio of mid-level San'Shyuum ministers consulted the "Oracle" aboard the Forerunner Dreadnought on High Charity about the "Reclamation" glyphs encountered in such large numbers on Harvest; these San'Shyuum hoped to use the clout gained from this discovery to oust the current triumvirate of Hierarchs. The Oracle, which was actually the AI Mendicant Bias, informed the party that the luminations found on Harvest were actually the world's human population, and that the symbol the Covenant had long held to mean "Reclamation" actually meant "Reclaimer"; following this revelation, Mendicant Bias attempted to leave High Charity and make contact with its so-called "makers", though the ship was disabled and the AI quarantined before this could happen.[12]

The schemers interpreted the Oracle's words to mean that humans were actually the living remnants of Forerunner civilization; this would directly contradict the Covenant's dogma regarding the Great Journey, which held that the Forerunners used an artifact known as Halo to transcend to godhood. Accordingly, the newly ordained Prophet of Truth declared a war of extermination upon humanity, secretly hoping that genocide would prevent humanity's relation to the Forerunners from coming to light.[12] In the wake of commencing the Ninth Age of Reclamation, Truth also revealed that the Reclaimer glyph could help the Covenant scour the galaxy for any other human colonies.[56]

Non-canon and dubious canon appearances[edit]

HTV-SilverTeam logo.png
This article contains information about the Silver Timeline, and is not a part of the established Halo canon.

Silver Timeline[edit]

Main article: Silver Timeline

In the Silver Timeline, Reclaimers appeared to be much rarer, rather than just humanity as a whole. Neither Soren-066 nor Reth had Forerunner artifacts respond to them while Makee and John-117 did, making them "Blessed Ones" in the eyes of the Covenant. After seeing John activate the keystone, Reth stated that John was "different" than Makee and that he could see it in John's eyes. John was also immune to the harmful effects that the artifact had on the entire Rubble.[57] Silver Team was also unable to activate the keystone.[58]

After John activated the keystone and Cortana put him into stasis in order to access it herself through John, the artifact immediately shut itself down, indicating that the Reclaimer needed to be conscious for Forerunner technology to respond to them.[59]

John's altered hormonal state due to his emotional regulator appeared to affect his interactions with the keystone. Once he had removed the regulator, the memories that were unlocked by John touching it became clearer.[59]

At John's request, Miranda Keyes compared his and Makee's DNA after Makee revealed that she could also activate the keystones. In the uncoded intragenetic region of their DNA, Miranda found histone proteins that were unique to John and Makee. While Miranda couldn't say that it was the source of their connection to the artifacts, John and Makee's gene alignment in that area was remarkably similar. In addition, the anomaly that John and Makee shared belonged only to them. Statistically, they were two in a billion.[60]

Failures to recognize Reclaimer status[edit]

When Soren-066 touched the Madrigal keystone, it failed to respond to his touch. Reth also failed to activate the Forerunner artifacts that the Covenant had tried on him despite Reth being "sensitive" as a mystic.[57] When Silver Team tried touching the Keystone, it failed to respond to them as well.[58]

Humans identified as Reclaimers[edit]

  • John-117 - Had the Madrigal and Eridanus II keystones respond to his touch and activate for him, even as a child.[61][59][58] After seeing John activate the artifact, Reth stated that John was "different" than Makee and that he could see it in John's eyes.[57] It was suggested that the Madrigal keystone had an intelligence that either responded to John's needs or anticipated what he required each time he activated it.[58]
  • Makee - Mentioned by the Prophet of Mercy to have had Forerunner artifacts respond to her touch.[61] According to Reth, she is "different" than John-117.[57] Discovered by Sangheili after a Luminary responded to her presence. Claimed to still feel the "spirit" of the Madrigal keystone even after it was taken from the planet.[59]

As understood by the Covenant[edit]

For the Covenant, Reclaimers are "Blessed Ones" who have the ability to activate Forerunner artifacts. Makee, a human who they had discovered and taken into their custody as a child after she reacted to a Luminary,[59] is held and treated with a degree of reverence by the Hierarchs.[57]

Production notes[edit]

SVG version of the Marathon Logo and Bungie-era Reclaimer glyph
The Reclaimer symbol as seen in Bungie's games.
  • The original Reclaimer glyph is actually the logo of Bungie's Marathon trilogy. Due to the Marathon franchise remaining Bungie's intellectual property, the Reclaimer symbol in media by 343 Industries has the same basic design, though it is much more abstract. Curiously, the original symbol appears on holographic terminals in the Spartan Ops chapter The Hammer.
  • According to Bungie employee David Candland,[62] Bungie's original intention for the connection between humanity and Forerunners was that they were one and the same; this was hinted repeatedly throughout the Halo Trilogy[63] and potentially alluded to in Joseph Staten's novel Halo: Contact Harvest. In this regard the title of "Reclaimer" would indicate modern humans salvaging the relics of their ancestors, thus giving the term a literal meaning. During the development of Halo 3, this changed so that humans and Forerunners were distinct from one another, as is evident in material released as part of the game's marketing campaign and in the terminals found within the game itself. The books of The Forerunner Saga released by 343 Industries expanded greatly on the similarities and difference between both peoples, establishing that the two species were indeed related but distinct and that the actual connection goes far further back than the events in the books, to the time when both species had been created by the Precursors.


  • The Bestiarum associates the Latin "Homo sapiens augeous" with its "Reclaimer" entry. This is probably intended to mean "augmented intelligent man", though augeous is conjugated incorrectly. Given the context of the entry in the Bestiarum, it seems that this entry refers specifically to John-117 as opposed to all Reclaimers, and that "Homo sapiens augeous" refers only to Spartans. However, due to Halo 4's retcon that only certain humans are technically Reclaimers, this binomial nomenclature may refer to humans carrying the genesong planted by the Librarian.
  • "Reclaimer" is the second-highest rank in Halo: Reach and highest rank in Halo Wars 2.

List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia (2009 edition), page 299
  2. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 315
  3. ^ a b c Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction (post 2969311)
  4. ^ a b Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Key, level The Hammer: "Elites were here, trying to find Reclaimers: humans who can operate Forerunner technology."
  5. ^ Halo: The Flood, page 84
  6. ^ Halo: First Strike, page 142
  7. ^ Halo: Point of Light, chapter 39
  8. ^ a b Halo 4, campaign level Reclaimer
  9. ^ a b Halo 4, campaign level Midnight
  10. ^ a b Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Key
  11. ^ a b c Halo 3, campaign level Halo
  12. ^ a b c Halo: Contact Harvest, page 274-278
  13. ^ Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level 343 Guilty Spark
  14. ^ Halo: Silentium, page 314
  15. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Repairs
  16. ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 133
  17. ^ Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Key, level The Hammer
  18. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Relic Interior
  19. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Beachhead
  20. ^ Halo: Meridian Divide, chapter 11
  21. ^ Halo: Meridian Divide
  22. ^ a b c d e Halo: Meridian Divide, chapter 17
  23. ^ Halo: Helljumper, issue 5
  24. ^ Halo: The Flood
  25. ^ Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level The Maw
  26. ^ Halo 2, campaign level The Great Journey
  27. ^ a b Halo 3, campaign level The Covenant
  28. ^ Halo: The Thursday War
  29. ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 392
  30. ^ Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 277
  31. ^ Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 258
  32. ^ Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 327
  33. ^ Halo 4 - Spartan Ops
  34. ^ Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Artifact
  35. ^ Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Catherine
  36. ^ Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Scattered
  37. ^ a b Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Exodus
  38. ^ Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode Expendable
  39. ^ Halo 5: Guardians
  40. ^ Halo: Smoke and Shadow, page 123-126
  41. ^ Halo: Renegades
  42. ^ Halo: Point of Light, chapter 16
  43. ^ Halo: Point of Light, chapter 41
  44. ^ Halo: Smoke and Shadow
  45. ^ Halo: Point of Light, chapter 5
  46. ^ a b Halo: Point of Light, chapter 28
  47. ^ Halo: Divine Wind
  48. ^ Halo Infinite, UNSC Audio log: The Prisoner #03 - She was Smiling
  49. ^ Halo: The Rubicon Protocol, chapter 25
  50. ^ a b c d Halo: The Rubicon Protocol, chapter 30
  51. ^ Halo: The Rubicon Protocol, chapter 34
  52. ^ Halo: The Rubicon Protocol, chapter 35
  53. ^ Halo 4, campaign level Epilogue: "The Reclamation... has already begun. And we are hopeless to stop it."
  54. ^ Halo 4 - Spartan Ops, episode S1010 Exodus: This is evidenced by the appearance of the Ur-Didact's sigil when 'Mdama gives inputs the self-destruct order.
  55. ^ Halo: Shadows of Reach, chapter 21
  56. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 381-382
  57. ^ a b c d e Halo: The Television Series, episode Unbound
  58. ^ a b c d Halo: The Television Series, episode Homecoming
  59. ^ a b c d e Halo: The Television Series, episode Emergence
  60. ^ Halo: The Television Series, episode Solace
  61. ^ a b Halo: The Television Series, episode Contact
  62. ^ Re: Why retcons don't bother me anymore (Evil Otto: "One of the most striking retcons to me is the basic concept of whole role of humanity. Originally (back in Halo 1) the reason why humans weren't conquered and incorporated into the Covenant collective was because their presence defied Covenant religion. When the Covenant discovered humans, they knew they were forerunners, but their presence implied the "great journey" failed. They also weren't the all powerful gods they worshiped, so the Prophets wanted to "sweep them under the carpet," as it were.")
  63. ^ Re: Why retcons don't bother me anymore (Evil Otto: "The plot lines in our games imply this everywhere - the chief being called reclaimer, only humans being able to retrieve and insert the index, Spark telling the chief, "you are forerunner." etc.")