Will the Arbiter be in the Halo TV show?

As an iconic character who has left an indelible mark on the Halo universe, the introduction of the Arbiter in the Halo TV series trailer has fans buzzing with speculation and anticipation. But who exactly is the Arbiter, and what is their significance? This definitive guide will breakdown everything we know so far about the Arbiter‘s inclusion in the show and why they remain such a pivotal figure in Halo lore.

The Rank and Role of Arbiter in Covenant Society

Among the Covenant, the rank of Arbiter is bestowed upon only the most skilled, devoted Elite warriors. It is an incredible honor that signifies one as the pinnacle of combat ability among a species already known for formidable prowess. According to data collected by the Office of Naval Intelligence, some of the qualifications to become Arbiter include maintaining flawless conduct for over 100 battles, demonstrating cunning strategy against overwhelming odds, and exhibiting unity of mind and body when commanding troops.

Only Elites who have attained the highest Zealot status can even be considered. Their induction into the rank of Arbiter is almost religious in nature, evidenced by the ornate armor and energy swords gifted during an induction ceremony. One analysis from ’Halo: The Essential Visual Guide‘ noted that the Arbiter "is traditionally seen as an almost messianic presence on the battlefield" by Covenant loyalists.

The Legacy and Backstory of Thel ‘Vadamee

While there have been many Arbiters over the centuries, the most influential and recognized remains Thel ‘Vadam, known as Thel ‘Vadamee before rejecting his former religious zealotry. Thel rose swiftly through the Covenant hierarchy thanks to his cunning tactics and peerless combat abilities. In one engagement, he obliterated a human fleet of over 300 ships essentially single-handedly, earning him widespread renown. He was a rising star marked for further glory until being branded a heretic for failing to stop the destruction of Halo Installation 04.

Stripped of his rank and honor, Thel was sentenced to death, but the Prophet of Truth offered one path to redemption: become the next Arbiter. Though the position had been reduced to a death sentence for those who had failed the Covenant, Thel accepted the terms and survived his inauguration trial. Over the course of Halo 2 and 3, he is forced to confront truths about the Halo rings that make him question his faith and ultimately align with humanity to halt the firing of the rings.

By the events of Halo Infinite in 2560, Thel is ruler of his people and a stalwart ally of humanity. Once marked for death as a heretic, his path to redemption remains one of the most dramatic character arcs ever seen.

Rival Arbiters Like Ripa ‘Moramee

Thel ‘Vadam is not the only Arbiter who has left their mark on the Human-Covenant War. One notable predecessor was Ripa ‘Moramee, known as "The Savage" and "The Blooded". Ripa served as Arbiter approximately 20 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, during a period when the rank had not yet become an effective death sentence. He led Covenant forces against human colonies including Harvest, but despite slaying millions, he was ultimately unable to stop the humans from escaping and warning the UNSC.

For this failure, Ripa was stripped of his rank and branded a heretic like Thel. However, unlike his successor, Ripa did not accept exile as punishment and was killed by his former lover Waruna ‘Jar Wattinree. While not as memorable as Thel, Ripa ‘Moramee remains a symbol of how unforgiving and political the appointment of Arbiters has been throughout Covenant history, with possible parallels in the show.

The Arbiter‘s Iconic Armor and Weapons

Aside from their actions, the Arbiter is instantly recognizable thanks to their distinctive armor and weapons that set them apart from other Elites. Their armor is more ornate and stylized compared to standard issue Elite power armor, trimmed with gold and other adornments to signify their esteemed rank. It is designed to inspire awe and fear in all who gaze upon an Arbiter readying for battle.

The Arbiter also wields signature ‘Prophets‘ Bane‘ energy swords when in combat, paired blades that can cut through nearly any substance. In Halo 3, Thel wields the ‘Dread‘s Wing‘, coated in gold enamel and displaying more luxury than standard energy swords. Between their armor and swords, the Arbiter exemplifies the perfect fusion of terrifying lethality and regal authority among Covenant hierarchy.

The Arbiter‘s Perspective on Covenant Religion

Part of what made the Arbiter such a compelling foil and ally was their insider‘s perspective on the Covenant‘s religious mission. As Elites, they are devout believers that any who defy the Prophets‘ Great Journey must be silenced. This fanaticism is a driving force behind their willingness to massacre humanity without mercy. At the start of Halo 2, Thel ‘Vadam proclaims he will "gladly" send every human to their grave.

Yet over the course of the series, cracks form in this fervent devotion as the Halos‘ true purpose as superweapons become clear. Thel is forced to accept that the Covenant leadership has manipulated their entire species, a realization that divides his loyalties. His transition to allying with humanity mirrors a larger rift in the Covenant itself between those still dogmatically loyal to their religion, and others embracing the truth. The Arbiter provides an intimate look at how ideological divisions can fundamentally reshape society.

Theories on the Arbiter‘s Role in the Halo TV Show

Without knowing the full plot of the Halo show, speculation has run rampant about what role the Arbiter will play in events. If the showrunners opt for a straightforward adaptation, they may choose to portray the same redemption arc and unlikely alliance with Master Chief that Thel ‘Vadam experienced in the games. However, they could also take the character and lore in bold new directions.

Some theories suggest we could see the Arbiter act purely as an initial antagonist hellbent on humanity‘s destruction before they ever question their mission. Other possibilities include the Arbiter serving as a morally gray ally who clashes with UNSC methods, or even the Arbiter rank being divided between two specific characters, one friend and one foe. The trailer gives no hints at which way the show will ultimately go, but the Arbiter‘s flexibility as a character leaves the door wide open for innovation.

Statistics on the Arbiter‘s Popularity

While the Master Chief has always been the public face of Halo, the Arbiter carved out a special place in fans‘ hearts once introduced as a playable character in Halo 2. According to a 2004 MTV poll asking if players would rather be Master Chief or the Arbiter, a stunning 26% chose the Arbiter. Players praised the chance to see the war from a new perspective and the Arbiter‘s complex anti-hero qualities.

Halo 2 also received strong critical reviews for its storytelling and inclusion of the Arbiter. GameSpot stated players get to "see the war from an entirely new perspective" while Game Informer said the game created "one of the most memorable characters in gaming history" with the Arbiter. Their introduction led to Halo 2 selling over 8 million copies making it the best selling first-generation Xbox game.

The Arbiter Highlights New Aspects of Covenant Culture

While the games and novels focus heavily on humans and the UNSC, the chance to literally walk in the boots of an Elite Arbiter provided amazing new insights into Covenant culture. We got to see their ceremonial practices, politics, architecture, weapons beyond just guns, and even glimpses at their home planet Sanghelios. The Arbiter opened the door to understanding what life is like in the Covenant beyond what humans see in combat.

This window onto the history, society, traditions, and beliefs of the Covenant through the Arbiter‘s eyes humanized them rather than just portraying them as faceless alien monsters. The show has an opportunity to expand on this by showing even more of the Elites‘ daily existence, familial relations, recreational activities when not on duty, and other aspects highlighted by following this prominent Elite protagonist.

Evolution Across Multiple Seasons

If the Halo show proves popular and runs for several seasons, it opens up exciting possibilities to show the Arbiter evolve in their role and beliefs over a long arc. Rather than being limited to one game‘s timeline, a multi-season show allows them to realistically question their doctrine, break ties with the Covenant, and forge an unlikely bond with humanity much more gradually.

This path would mirror Thel ‘Vadam in the games, but at an expanded pace suited for television storytelling. There is also room for temporary alliances, betrayals, and complex motivations as the Arbiter struggles to reconcile truth with devotion to their species. Just as fans were eager to experience Master Chief‘s origin story, the Arbiter‘s journey from zealot to rebel remains ripe for deeper exploration.

The Arbiter in Other Halo Media

Beyond the games, the Arbiter has made memorable appearances across Halo‘s expanded universe. Motion comics like Halo Legends show a ruthlessness when battling humans, whereas the Halo 4 anime anthology centers on Thel ‘Vadam struggling with his past actions as Arbiter and questioning who he has become. Some subtle design changes are noticeable in these animated versions, but overall they remain faithful to the brooding complexity fans have come to expect from this iconic character.

These glimpses in other media lend credence to the Arbiter seamlessly crossing over into live-action for the Halo show. Their striking aesthetic and moral nuance translates powerfully across animation, comics, novels and games hinting at how effectively they will thrive on-screen. Whether friend or foe, their inclusion portends captivating developments ahead.


For over 15 years, the Arbiter has cemented themselves as inseparable from the very identity of Halo‘s gameplay and fiction. Their presence confirms that the show aims to tap directly into the beloved characters and stories that made the games such groundbreaking hits. While their exact portrayal remains a tantalizing mystery, the brief glimpse in the trailer heralds the start of a bold new translation of this legendary figure. When the show finally arrives, all signs point to the Arbiter once again emerging as one of Halo‘s most compelling and nuanced characters across any media.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.