Fair Warning: This is a post about Halo. It contains Halo 4 spoilers.
Master Chief Petty Officer John-117: He’s seven feet tall. He can easily jump over the heads of normal men. He wears a massive suit of green armor. He can flip a tank over. He’s survived fighting armies of alien creatures, zombies, and at least one space god intent on vaporizing humanity. He fell from space and lived… more than once.
But, his greatest challenge is relating to the people he is saving. He’s pretty antisocial; he rarely speaks more than one sentence at a time. Sure, in the games he’s had some close human allies (Sergeant Johnson comes to mind), but most of his closest friends died before Halo: Combat Evolved even started.
Those friends were, like him, part of the Spartan-II program. They were kidnapped from their parents at a young age and trained to fight. They were conditioned to be the perfect soldiers. And this was even before they were given their cocktail of chemical and cybernetic enhancements (which killed a bunch of them, leaving the remainder to have an even tighter bond).
His only friend (and love interest?) is an AI. She’s an attractive one, if you’re into computers, but not a person. And once she dies at the end, he’s left all alone. Though, I can see Captain Lasky and Sarah Palmer becoming important to him in the next couple of Halo games. We’ll have to wait and see.
Even weirder, during an important part of the story, the Master Chief gets genetically modified…again. He’s technically not even human anymore. An entire space station gets vaporized based on their genetic humanity, but not the Chief, leaving him even more of an outsider.
Couple this with all the talk of destiny, and that he is the culmination of the human race, and I’m guessing the guy probably doesn’t speak much because he is in a constant state of shock. Perhaps that’s where his combat training and muscle memory kicks in.
He’s not the first space savior to be a loner (Leto Atreides, Luke Skywalker, and many, many more did it before Master Chief), and he certainly won’t be the last, but what, exactly, is our obsession with the aloof space protagonist? Maybe it’s the universal idea that actions speak louder than words ever could?
In any event, we have at least two more games to see if the Master Chief is capable of making friends. If he does, though, I wouldn’t count on them living very long.