‘Halo’ TV Series Took More Than 265 Script Drafts to Get Right — Here’s Why

After years of development hell, a failed film project, and a production impacted by the global pandemic, Halo finally arrives on Paramount+ in March 2022. The adaptation will retell the Halo video games’ story of a war between humanity and aliens, but with a different timeline that branches off the canon. In a recent in-depth interview, the Halo creators detailed how the TV series’ story came to be after more than 265 script drafts.

'Halo' TV series stars Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief, Kate Kennedy as Kai, Bentley Kalu as Vannak, and Natasha Culzac as Riz
Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief, Kate Kennedy as Kai, Bentley Kalu as Vannak, and Natasha Culzac as Riz in ‘Halo’ Season 1 | Paramount+

The creators of the ‘Halo’ adaptation avoided an exact recreation of the video games

Halo began in 2001 with Halo: Combat Evolved on Xbox, a first-person shooter where players controlled a supersoldier named Master Chief. From there, Master Chief’s story continued across more than a dozen mainline and spinoff games. In addition to the games, the Halo franchise features novels, graphic novels, animated series, and more, expanding Halo’s canon even further. So, the Paramount+ series had plenty of source material to work with.

Speaking to Variety, Halo executive producer Kiki Wolfkill said the show started as something that would “tie very closely with the game.” However, there was much greater potential in expanding the broader canon. So, they focused instead on the world of Halo, its characters, and their backstories.

“We didn’t look at the game … didn’t talk about the game,” showrunner Steven Kane added. “We talked about the characters and the world. So I never felt limited by it being a game.”

Steven Kane says he drafted more than 265 scripts for ‘Halo’ Season 1

When it came to writing Halo Season 1’s nine episodes, Kane said he spent two years on the process. By the time he finalized the story, the Halo TV series had gone through hundreds and hundreds of script drafts. Steven Spielberg, who had worked on Halo since 2013, involved himself every step of the way. According to Kane, they had to find the right amount of “Halo mythology” to incorporate.

“There are characters that are mentioned once in a book that I was able to give a whole backstory to, and other characters that were already well written that I just had to drop in,” Kane said.

In the end, Halo became “a story about [Master Chief] discovering his own humanity.”

‘Halo’ follows a ‘Silver Timeline’ that breaks away from canon

Earlier this year, Halo developer 343 Industries teased the TV show’s “Silver Timeline,” which includes events that fans didn’t see in the video games. In a blog post, the studio said this will “protect the integrity, simplicity, and future of the core canon.” However, at the same time, it allows the adaptation to break away from the limits of the games.

Jen Taylor, who voiced the AI Cortana in the Halo games and will reprise her role in the series, assured the series will “still feel familiar” to longtime fans.

“It feels familiar and different at the same time,” she told Variety. “I hope people will be excited about that. Do you want it to be exactly the way you’ve already played it and already seen it? I’m not sure. It will be interesting to see how the fans respond to that.”

Halo premieres on Paramount+ on March 24.

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