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Halo TV series' debut gets mixed reviews but retains 'fresh' status

Halo TV series
Halo TV series (Image credit: Paramount)

What you need to know

  • The Halo TV series launched this week, and early reviews for the show are a mixed bag.
  • The show has a 61% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 66% score from fans, but many comments about the series are negative.
  • Only one episode of the show has aired at this point, so things could improve by the time the season ends.

The first episode of the Halo TV series aired this week. Early reviews for the show aren't great, though people will need to see more episodes before they can judge the show in its entirety. The Halo TV series currently has a 61% critic score and a 66% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The Tomatometer isn't a perfect scoring system, but it takes feedback from a wide range of sources to create an aggregate score, which provides a general idea of how people feel about a show or movie.

"The video game Halo excelled at letting players become the hero — with the new Halo TV series, audiences are instead saddled with a series devoid of a soul," said Max Covill of RogerEbert.com.

"The goal shouldn't be about being everything to everyone, and while 'Halo' treats the source material with respect, it does so with a tentativeness, as if it is afraid to miss a key element," said the LA Times.

Reviews from standard audience members on Rotten Tomatoes don't appear to be drastically different than those of critics, at least generally speaking. "One and done for me. Master Chief looks bad ass the rest of the show looks like it some bad 90's B movie. Starship Troopers might have better effects," said Chad R (it appears he did not proofread his review).

Another audience member, Ty H, had similar thoughts, saying "the visuals are okay, but the acting is horrendous. The cast is very poor. Putting together the cutscenes from various Halo games would create a more moving story." Incidentally, this is an option for fans of the franchise. GameCin has a supercut of all Halo cutscenes that can be viewed like a movie (alternatively, you can just play the games firsthand on your Xbox Series X).

There were, however, fans of the first episode of the series. "I was ready to be disappointed based on all the reviews I've heard. But, I was surprised and wanted to watch more, after episode one was finished," said Johnathan C. Plenty of others commented on how they enjoyed the show carving its own narrative path so as to not be overly reliant on the games, and Pablo Schreiber (who plays Master Chief) got lots of love.

The show's first episode has a 7.7-star ranking on IMDb.

If you haven't watched the first episode yet, our guide on how to watch the Halo TV Series can help you out. The Halo TV series is on Paramount+, and you can get a free month of the streaming service if you're an Xbox Game Pass subscriber.

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Paramount+ (opens in new tab)

Paramount+ offers its subscribers access to countless TV shows and movies, including exclusive shows like the Halo TV series and Star Trek: Picard. It's available via the Paramount website, with apps also offered on iOS, Android, and popular TV app stores.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

17 Comments
  • I thought by master chief not eliminating the girl as he was ordered to do displayed the facr that he does indeed have a soul. I also l also liked the way the artifact when he touched it started displaying his journey back to having a soul was triggered. If people are giving it such harsh reviews after one episode, seems like maybe they didn't want the series at all!
  • I think it started off a little slow but I enjoyed it. I did however notice a few things. In one scene, a giant metal door "wiggles" as it closes and in another scene where a gun is dropped, the animation is completely unfinished and looks like the graphics from Halo 1 on the original XBOX.
  • I don't know the game at all, but loved the first episode. I wonder how the reactions vary from fans of the game compared to people going in blind.
  • Played all the games and wife hasn't and had to be forced to watch. We were both pleasantly surprised and liked it a lot. Very glad I don't know exactly what is going to happen in this story timeline.
  • I just watched it, and frankly, I liked it a lot.
    Good Special Effects, good pacing, good foreshadowing, good acting, lots of easter-eggs and world-building.
    For what is essentially a PILOT, it was very good.
    Don't believe me? go watch the very 1st episode of "The Mandalorian" for comparison. (which I also liked a lot.) The only people I have seen dissing it are known Disney-shills and paid-influencers whose job it is to knock down Parmount+'s numbers. I think, if they can keep the WRITING going good and don't cheap-out on the SFX (which Paramount usually does not do (see Discovery or any of the Star Trek shows) they have a hit on their hands (and since the 2nd season of Picard and the latest season of Discovery have face-planted, they need it until they get the new Star Trek Strange New Worlds up an running.) Looking forward to the next episode. One more thing: Paramount has ALREADY renewed Halo for a 2nd season, so, the money guys think it will succeed.
  • I liked HALO.
    But the fact is it doesn't need shills to drop its viewership numbers: Paramount already cut them by two thirds in moving it from Showtime, with global coverage via cable and streaming, to P+ which barely covers the continental US.
  • Yup. Doesn’t seem to be available to view in Europe.
  • Some parts were kinda meh, but overall I really enjoyed it! It was a good introduction to what the story is about. I know a some diehard fans of the game have criticisms because it's not 100% the same as the game, but they need to remember it's live action, so there will obviously have to be some differences for logistics and actor availability reasons. Can't wait to see where the show goes though and for the introduction of Cortana!
  • Diehards aren't the ones crying, it is sad fanboys. Rational diehards can accept that they are telling a slightly different story in this timeline. The fanboys/sad kids are the ones screaming about him taking off his helmet even though it is something Spartans did all the time in games because they are human soldiers, not some Mandalorian cult.
  • Not very intelligent are you?
  • Okay, FWIW: I liked it. It's early but if you never played a Halo game you'll be up to speed in half an hour. (THE EXPANSE only started to show itself after 4 episodes.) The best decisions:
    1- 343 involvement. The sets and gear and general design language looks exactly like the game.
    2- Starting out as a prequel. The story is pre-FALL OF REACH, pre-PILLAR OF AUTUMN, pre-Cortana (for now). HALO CE dropped you in the middle of the action whereas the TV show starts a few months earlier to let viewers meet the cast as people before engaging in the heavy (and CGI expensive) combat parts of the overall narrative.
    3- Bringing in John's special connection to Forerunner tech from the beginning. It makes you wonder if it might be due to whatever makes him deadlier than the rest of the team.
    4- The combat scene plays a lot like game. Kudos.
    5- They even provided a story-driven reason for the Chief to take off tbe helmet and let the actor show his chops. The bad one (tentatively): Cortana as presented in the trailer. I can understand cheaping out and presenting her human sized but not bothering to make her translucent or bluish was not wise. She is an AI and when we see her she's a hologram. Making it obvious wouldn't cost much considering she doesn't have to manifest often. (Think of the AI's in tbe Arrowverse shows.) Would be nice if they fix it by the time tbe actual episode runs. All in all it is a solid introduction to the halo universe for a *TV* show. If it were a movie, then yes, we coukd gripe about pacing and shifting the focus all over the place. But for a multi-year TV series this is not only acceptable but *mandatory*. They might blow it later but so far I want to see more. (BTW, pity those poor rebels trying to fight off Covenant and Spartans with AK-47's. It's a good rifle for the 20th and even early 21st, but the 26th? They might as well be using muskets. 😆)
  • We don't know what "size" Cortana is. We can't see that in the trailer but she is definitely a digital projection so she could be any size. As for AI, I'm not sure she is an AI in this timeline. I think she might be that woman in the pod that Halsey was told to shut down.
  • We don't know *exactly* how it plays out but until we know otherwise we have to assume they'll stay close to canon on the big stuff and Cortana-the-AI is as big as it gets. By canon she is developed using a clone of Halsey herself and that is what the girl in the pod is. As I said, the (potential) problem is how the trailer showed her. We'll know soon enough.
  • I am a die hard Halo fan and have been waiting for this show for the last 10 years. I enjoy all the other live action Halo films and shorts, as well as the animated films and shorts. I've played all the games. Read most the books. I don't understand how Microsoft has kept such great control over the story line in the games, books, graphic novels, etc., and then let this crap come out. I have never been more disappointed by a TV show. In my opinion, the show is beyond saving. Too much is different, too much is wrong. I could go on and on about how much is wrong. I just wish it would get canceled already before it taints the Halo franchise. Those in control of this series apparently are not fans of the game or books, have not put in the hours playing it to understand it, missed the connection with the fans who have been following the saga for the 20 years, and just totally missed the mark. They have made Halo commercials that have given me goosebumps and gave me more excitement then this garbage. Disappointed is not a strong enough word.
  • Your emotions must be frazled by the multiverse in Marvel and DC that doesn't keep the same continuity then.
    Sounds like this very good TV show that is based on another timeline isn't for you so you should go back to enjoying those instead of crying about what this is not.
  • It seams English speakers have an overall not-to-good perception of the Halo series. Contrary to Latin Americans who, on average, liked the show more. At least to what I've seen on Facebook. I do liked the first episode, yet there are some things I didn't, for example: Master Chief taking out his helmet and neither do I liked his voice. Thus whenever he spoke I changed it to Spanish language 😂.
  • I think people are way too picky. Was it perfect? No, but it was pretty good. It's a new show give them a chance. I'll continue watching.