The release of Paramount Plus’ Halo TV show trailer has split the franchise's fanbase down the middle. On one side, fans are excited to see a new take on the Halo story in a live-action form. On the other hand, some are upset at the show's abandonment of 20 years of canon.
This isn't a new argument. For decades upon decades fandoms have argued about canon timelines and stories. Infamously, a certain group of Star Wars fans hated The Last Jedi so much that they demanded it be removed from canon. Instead, they got The Rise of Skywalker, a movie that horrendously tried to “fix” the “mistakes” of its predecessor, creating one of the worst Star Wars stories to date.
The Kelvin Timeline
One of the most famous instances of canon branching comes down to Star Trek, another franchise handled by Paramount. For the J.J. Abrams 2009 Star Trek movie, Paramount wanted to reboot the franchise without eradicating decades of beloved established media.
Enter: The Kelvin Timeline, an alternate universe where Star Trek is more bombastic, characters are younger and everything is hyperbole. William Shatner’s Captain Kirk may have the reputation of sleeping around, but Chris Pine’s version definitely sleeps around.
For almost a decade, the Star Trek fandom has been upset at The Kelvin Timeline. It’s not as good as The Prime Timeline, but it does have some interesting ideas and a pretty damn good cast. Maybe it'll even be continued with a proposed Star Trek 4.
The issue isn't the creation of other canons, and when new, secondary canons get complained about, only bad things happen. For example, Star Trek: Picard, a follow-up to The Next Generation that cares little for established lore. The Kelvin Timeline trilogy ruins nothing about original Trek, but newer Prime Timeline shows do.
Fandoms vs Paramount: The Halo Problem
While not as vast as Star Trek's 55-year history, the Halo franchise has a 20-year-long unbroken cannon spanning games, books, comics, audio dramas and mini-series. Halo’s canonical timeline branches from the start of the Precursors — a progenitor race to the Forerunners who wiped out the universe and started it again — to 500 years in the future.
It’s a long and winding timeline and loops around itself — thematically — and oftentimes leaves even Halo fans confused. Fandoms have even joked about the hilarity of the franchise having two “before races”: Precursors and Forerunners. And, for the most part, most Halo players have never even heard of the Precursors!
As someone who adores the established Halo timeline — Precursors, Prometheans, Mendicant Bias and all — Paramount’s Halo Silver Timeline is for the best. Yes, I would love to see Blue Team, YapYap and Master Chief scoffing down protein bars in The Library all on screen in their current canonical ways, but it's also not just a show for me.
Franchises need to grow outside their fandoms. The Halo TV show is made for a mainstream audience. While Halo fans will get to see Master Chief, Battle Rifles, Lekgolo worms and more, the vast majority of viewers will be seeing something completely new.
Change is fun, for the most part
I don't know about you, but I like change! I've played Halo, read Halo, listened to Halo for my entire life. And I'm more than down for a new take, a new canon, that doesn't alter any of the storylines I already love.
In fact, one of my favourite pieces of Halo media is non-canonical: Red vs Blue and, just like all fandoms will eventually have, even that series has reached its own schism. Red vs Blue: Zero, a new story that messes with established lore, “fixes” a disabled character after they and their friends accepted their disability, and consistently ruins past characters.
The RvB Community wishes that Zero was in its Silver Timeline or Kelvin Timeline branch. Instead, it's currently a stain on a franchise almost as long as Halo is. After Zero, I'm more than happy with real Halo having two canons. It's far, far better than the alternative.