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Halo Villains Ranked Worst To Best

OP Fos Kuvol

This is just a fun idea I came up with while I was explaining to a friend what I thought of Halo 4's campaign. One of my the things I said was a positive being that I loved the Didact as the villain. So it got me thinking, across all of the games how would I rank the main antagonists of the franchise? And how would other Halo fans rate them? I'll be excluding the books, as the books have so many great villains and would make this post far too long. I will also be ignoring expanded context given to these villains through non-game media (such as the Didact's reappearance in the comics, or how the events of Contact Harvest added depth to Truth). So starting from the bottom:

10: The Warden Eternal - I didn't like Halo 5's campaign. I know a lot of people didn't either, at least as far as the story goes. But if there's one complaint I would make more than any other it's this guy. The Warden Eternal felt completely unnecessary, he tried to fill the shoes left behind by the Didact in Halo 4 and did not live up to them at all. Aside from being Cortana's jobber, and acting as a very uninteresting boss fight repeated over, and over throughout the campaign I have almost nothing more to say about him.

9: Jul 'Mdama - Jul would be higher on this list if I was considering the books. Since I'm not, he falls down here. Jul's presentation in the Halo games was severely lacking. He has unclear motivations, dies unceremoniously in his first appearance outside of Spartan Ops, and deserved so much better. He is the Snoke of the Halo universe. But seeing too little of him, is still better than wanting him off my screen so he edges out the Warden.

8: Cortana - Now, I'm not going to jump on the "They ruined Cortana by making her the villain" bandwagon because, unlike other villains Cortana hasn't actually had her time in the sun yet. We don't know the whole story, and until we do I don't feel comfortable saying one way or the other. Meaning in the future she could easily rise up this list for me. For now though, she's sitting here. This, and my next picks are my "5/10" rating position, Cortana only being lower because she needs time to actually be a villain for me to form a solid opinion. Halo has awesome villains considering 5/10 is this low on the list.

7: Tartarus, Ripa 'Moramee - Tartarus is the quintessential Brute. But, what more can I really say about him? He spends all of Halo 2 trying to assert dominance over the Arbiter, as one would expect the alpha of an apex predator species to do. He has a small amount of character depth, being his blind devotion to the Covenant religion. This is more to display Truth's manipulative indoctrination of the Brute species than anything though. He's cool, he's just kind of a jobber is all. Ripa 'Moramee (Halo Wars' Arbiter) is tied here, because he is the exact same. He is an Elite version of Tartarus, following Regret blindly through Halo Wars' campaign. Everything I said about Tartarus applies directly to him, with the exception of being quintessential. Ripa is an Elite without honor which is a cool idea, I just wish we got more of both of these characters in the games.

6: Regret - If it wasn't for Halo Wars, Regret would be even lower on this list, if not absent entirely... In Halo 2 he wasn't really a main villain, hardly even a sub-boss. He just kind of shows up at earth, panics when he realizes it's the human homeworld, and jumps ship as soon as he discovers coordinates to Delta Halo. His purpose in Halo 2 is to teach the humans, and by extension us the player, that the Covenant believes activating Halo will propel them to godhood. While I admit Halo Wars doesn't do much to progress his character, it does expand on his role in the Covenant. He is the war prophet, often travelling with their fleets to hostile locations and directly contributing to the effort to locate Forerunner technology. He's got solid motivations, and is less evil than he is faithful.

5: Atriox - I am mostly putting Atriox here because I keep hearing how great a villain he is. I didn't finish Halo Wars 2, or play the DLC so I can't speak from personal experience, but what I've seen and hear about him makes me think he would be in the upper-echelon of villains. This is the start of that section, the truly great Halo villains. I do plan on eventually going back and finishing HW2, and when I do I'm sure I'll find his actual spot on this list. For now, he's here instead of next to Cortana out of respect for the opinions of others.

4: Gravemind - I'm going to preface this by saying I am considering the Gravemind separately from the Flood here. The Flood as a whole are an awesome example of cosmic horror in the Halo universe. I am a HUGE sucker for Lovecraftian elements but I wanted to look at the Gravemind through the lens of its personality and motivations instead. I've got nothing bad to say about it, I think it's awesome. Gravemind has some of the best quotes in the Halo franchise for a reason, and I love the way it toys with prey it finds particularly interesting. I do have to put it lower on the list than my big 3 for one reason though. Gravemind is presented in the games as evil for evil's sake. It is an entity of insatiable hunger that desires nothing more than to consume. Bonus points for manipulating and even briefly allying with others when it knows it must to survive.

3: 343 Guilty Spark - I love this loveable ball of rampancy so much. Another great character that spews out quotable line after quotable line, Guilty Spark is so deliciously manipulative from his first moments on screen, to his last. The best part is, despite being the antagonist to Master Chief, and despite taking strides to wipe out all life in the galaxy he's not evil! Some of the best villains are those that actually have justifiable, even paragonal motivations. Guilty Spark wants nothing more than to save the galaxy from the Flood, and he's willing to lie, cheat, murder, and steal to do it. All the while smiling, laughing, and being all around friendly in the process. Just follow containment protocols and don't do anything to threaten the wellbeing of his installtion, and he will be there to assist you in all your endeavors. He may be one of my favorite AI characters in any fictional universe, competing mainly with Data from TNG. Love this guy.

2: The Didact - Where Spark is the most loveable villain in the Halo franchise, the Didact is the most intimidating. Keith Szarabajka brought so much weight and gravitas to the Didact. He has been the closest any villain has come to being Master Chief's true nemesis, a truly superior foe. His evil motivations are, in his mind, just. He sees humanity as the greatest threat to the galaxy, still bitter from the wars he fought 100,000 years ago. He has all the bad--Yoink-, thought provoking, and quotable lines of the Gravemind combined with depth of character that actually gets explored in the game instead of ancillary material. I really, really wish the Didact wasn't dealt with off-screen and had carried over into Halo 5. Easily my pick for second favorite villain.

(I ran out of space, so number 1 will be in the first reply)
1: Truth - Here he is, the man the myth the legend. Truth hasn't spoken an honest word in his entire life. This guy is the puppet-master behind literally everything that goes wrong in the original Halo trilogy and, by extension, the games that followed his death. He manipulated the Arbiter into silencing Sesa 'Rufumee the "heretic" leader. He oversaw the replacement of the Elites by the Brutes, something he'd been planning a long time as Elites required peer-treatment to remain loyal while Brutes obeyed as dogs. He located the Ark, loosed the Flood on the Galaxy, intended to wipe the galaxy clean of life believing only he would ascend because he drank his own cool-aid. And, almost poetically, he was undone by every decision he ever made. Every enemy his lies made was present for his death, Humans, Elites, even the Flood. They came together to bring him down. To tangent for a second, I wish Guilty Spark had been present for that cutscene. He had a stake in Truth's death just as much as everyone else after he was tortur-ehm- I mean questioned with "appropriate humility". But anyway back on point. Truth IS the villain of the Halo franchise more than any other, and he gets my top spot. If I was considering the books he would be even higher if he could be! Higher than 1, he is THAT well written. Joe Staten nailed it out of the park with Truth on every level. I feel like every time I go back and replay Halo 2, and 3, I pick up on how even more of his dialogue than I thought was pure manipulation. The tiniest little details and least important sounding words always have an ulterior motive behind them, pushing another pawn into place.

Anyway, I want to know what others think as well! Please feel free to post your list, this is just my opinion after all and its entirely possible some of you either see things I don't, or want to take the books into account and add characters like Parangosky to the list. If anyone's wondering where Mercy is... He didn't make the cut. He's never treated like the villain to any of the main characters in the games. And while he's an interesting character, I'd consider him "supporting" more than anything. I also excluded the Field Marshall from Reach for the opposite reason, he is Noble Team's villain but he is not a character so much as a recurring threat. And that does it!
I agree with some things, not others but think it's mostly too games-focussed. My top 5 - but including the extended lore - too would be:

  1. Boru'a'Neem Minister of Preparation - he's straight up evil wanting to eradicate the Sangheili - he's not even deranged in the same way as the Hierarchs in that he's not doing that for the Great Journey: he just straight up wants revenge.
  2. The Primordial - the level of evil here, turning Mendicant Bias against the Forerunners, the Palace of Pain, all round absolute evil.
  3. Master Builder Faber - entirely twisted the Mantle and literally willing to commit genocide to test and hide his crimes.
  4. Intrepid Eye - extremely dangerous!
  5. Mendicant Bias - despite his wish to atone cannot be denied how his actions doomed the entire galaxy.
I agree with most of your list with one large exception, considering non-game lore is being excluded I was surprised to see the Didact so high as I thought he was extremely underutilized in halo 4, and while his lines well written they weren't really delivered with the impact I think they were supposed to have. Not to mention that QTE boss fight should lower his rank 5 spots by itself imo
While I agree with most the rankings, I'd honestly treat Truth lower. His plan to dispose the elites doesn't make a whole lot of sense, at least, not at the time he executed it.

If tartatus had successfuly activated halo, the galaxy would have been wiped clean before he even got to earth (if halos don't impact slipspace which is murky in-universe even). Taking out the elites when he did did nothing but cripple his entire empire and ultimately cost him everything. Assuming Tartatus still failed (even though wouldn't have if not for the schism) and Truth made it to the Ark with the elites, I don't think being the only surviving things in the galaxy being him and the Elites would have gone any better than him and the Brutes.

Ultimately it was a dumb plan that backfires no matter what he does.
Didact sucks m8
I like the military commander in 4 who is mad at Master Chief for going missing after saving the world, and wants to destroy Cortana. I forget his name.
I like the military commander in 4 who is mad at Master Chief for going missing after saving the world, and wants to destroy Cortana. I forget his name.
Del Rio? He's actual trash yo.
Didact sucks m8
I only liked his armor. Everything else was meh
Didact sucks m8
I only liked his armor. Everything else was meh
Armor was also meh though
Fos Kuvol wrote:
1: Truth - Here he is, the man the myth the legend. Truth hasn't spoken an honest word in his entire life. This guy is the puppet-master behind literally everything that goes wrong in the original Halo trilogy and, by extension, the games that followed his death. He manipulated the Arbiter into silencing Sesa 'Rufumee the "heretic" leader. He oversaw the replacement of the Elites by the Brutes, something he'd been planning a long time as Elites required peer-treatment to remain loyal while Brutes obeyed as dogs. He located the Ark, loosed the Flood on the Galaxy, intended to wipe the galaxy clean of life believing only he would ascend because he drank his own cool-aid. And, almost poetically, he was undone by every decision he ever made. Every enemy his lies made was present for his death, Humans, Elites, even the Flood. They came together to bring him down. To tangent for a second, I wish Guilty Spark had been present for that cutscene. He had a stake in Truth's death just as much as everyone else after he was tortur-ehm- I mean questioned with "appropriate humility". But anyway back on point. Truth IS the villain of the Halo franchise more than any other, and he gets my top spot. If I was considering the books he would be even higher if he could be! Higher than 1, he is THAT well written. Joe Staten nailed it out of the park with Truth on every level. I feel like every time I go back and replay Halo 2, and 3, I pick up on how even more of his dialogue than I thought was pure manipulation. The tiniest little details and least important sounding words always have an ulterior motive behind them, pushing another pawn into place.

Anyway, I want to know what others think as well! Please feel free to post your list, this is just my opinion after all and its entirely possible some of you either see things I don't, or want to take the books into account and add characters like Parangosky to the list. If anyone's wondering where Mercy is... He didn't make the cut. He's never treated like the villain to any of the main characters in the games. And while he's an interesting character, I'd consider him "supporting" more than anything. I also excluded the Field Marshall from Reach for the opposite reason, he is Noble Team's villain but he is not a character so much as a recurring threat. And that does it!
I'd argue (and I have!) that the perception of Truth you present doesn't really square with his character. Admittedly, we mostly see him in his scheming stage, but Contact Harvest offers a pretty sympathetic portrayal of him. He wasn't always lying, it was the Big Lie he took as a burden that led to everything else and corrupted him.

As you say, though, I think what makes him compelling is his schemes all end up blowing up in his face. In trying so hard to protect his people and the Covenant and attain transcendence, he ended up decimating the Prophets and sundering the Covenant.
I don't really understand why people think Truth is such a great character: his actions fundamentally make no sense. "The brutes are more easily controllable" always feels like a cop-out, because it never really seems to be particularly true. The elites were always portrayed as more fanatical while the Brutes were more hedonistic and pragmatic. Why did he want to activate the rings when he knew it would kill everyone? Including himself, at the end of Halo 2?

TBH I really like his character in Contact Harvest; it's a chilling depiction of the banality of evil, and makes a genuinely nuanced point about authoritarianism and theocracy. The genocide of humanity didn't happen because of malice, it happened because the system of the Covenant was designed in such a way that genocide was simply the easiest thing to do.

In Halo 2 he's portrayed as this machiavellian manipulator who has some grand larger plan, but it dissipates into nothing by Halo 3 and he just wants to fire the rings because "he's crazy!", the least interesting antagonist motivation of all time. He's a promise that the writing team couldn't fufil.

Which is why Atroix is a thousand times better: both in and out of universe, he's absolutely devoid of -Yoink-. He's tough, pragmatic,charasmatic, and wants power. I think that's enough, really.
i thought that one of the worst villain's was the warden but the flood sucked too
I don't really understand why people think Truth is such a great character: his actions fundamentally make no sense. "The brutes are more easily controllable" always feels like a cop-out, because it never really seems to be particularly true. The elites were always portrayed as more fanatical while the Brutes were more hedonistic and pragmatic. Why did he want to activate the rings when he knew it would kill everyone? Including himself, at the end of Halo 2?

TBH I really like his character in Contact Harvest; it's a chilling depiction of the banality of evil, and makes a genuinely nuanced point about authoritarianism and theocracy. The genocide of humanity didn't happen because of malice, it happened because the system of the Covenant was designed in such a way that genocide was simply the easiest thing to do.

In Halo 2 he's portrayed as this machiavellian manipulator who has some grand larger plan, but it dissipates into nothing by Halo 3 and he just wants to fire the rings because "he's crazy!", the least interesting antagonist motivation of all time. He's a promise that the writing team couldn't fufil.

Which is why Atroix is a thousand times better: both in and out of universe, he's absolutely devoid of -Yoink-. He's tough, pragmatic,charasmatic, and wants power. I think that's enough, really.
Yeah, I mentally ignore the idea that Truth knew what the rings do, it ruins the fanatic religious devotion of the Covenant by having their leader's motivations make no sense. If he truly believed the rings would bring about the Great Journey, then it makes sense for him to want to fire them, but if he already knew the truth, why would he want to kill everyone in the galaxy? There's no justification other than him being totally crazy for no reason.
Flood all the way