- For the episode, see Cortana (episode)
|Voice Actor||Microsoft Mary|
|Last Appearance|| Heat (alive)|
Game Over (post-mortem)
- "Can't you see that your behavior is completely unacceptable?! Arbiter and Greg might have given up, but I refuse to back down and make allowances for your horrible demeanor because you're too inept to acknowledge it!"
- — Cortana describing Chief's behavior in Reapers
Cortana was one of the main protagonists in the Arby 'n' the Chief series besides Master Chief and The Arbiter. She was a MacFarlane Toys action figure of the eponymous artificial intelligence construct which played a major role in the Halo franchise. Her introduction in "Girls" established her as Master Chief's love interest, which she never reciprocated. After his failed pursuits, their relations grew more and more bitter and antagonistic over time, something which eventually led to her death.
After being delivered to Jon's house in the mail, Cortana met Arbiter and Chief and asks them if she can join them playing; despite that, she has never been seen playing any game afterwards. Chief quickly gained a crush on her. However, when Cortana criticized his map, Chief insulted her with sexist remarks, prompting her to hit him with a frying pan.
When Todd and Travis were delivered to Jon's house, Cortana and Todd started a relationship. Chief made attempts to end their relationship, even going as far as attempting to murder Todd and Travis with a knife. Though Cortana stopped Chief with the help of Arbiter, Todd and Travis mysteriously disappeared a day later. Cortana suspected Chief was behind it.
Cortana continued to be on good terms with Arbiter and bicker with Chief, but shortly disappeared herself. Her disappearance wasn't acknowledeged, but it turned out that she was kidnapped by an alien named Zanthar, who was also responsible for the disappearance of Todd and Travis earlier. While Todd and Travis were raped and eaten by the alien, Cortana was thrown into an escape pod and fired at a sun, because the alien had no interest in females. Her actual fate remained ambiguous.
Some time later, Arbiter wakes up after hearing a supposed intruder. This intruder simply says "Arbiter?" and the scene ends. This voice is female, and sounds strangely like Cortana's, implying that she may not be dead. It turns out to be just Master Chief pulling a prank using the Microsoft Mary synthetic voice on Jon's laptop.
Not long after Arbiter and Chief stopped Chaos Theosis from shutting down the OMN, Cortana appeared along with Greg in a package that was delivered to Jon's house. Greg reveals that he travelled to Jon's old apartment and found Cortana there, who had been lost there for an unspecified amount of time since Jon had moved to a new house. She and Greg are reunited with Master Chief and Arbiter. However, the joy was short lived, since Chief and Cortana quickly started arguing and fighting again.
After having enough of Chief, Cortana ranted at him. Offended, Chief planned to trap her in the oven and threaten to incinerate her unless she took back what she said as a way of getting payback (though he actually unplugged the oven, not planning to actually turn it on). He was unable to go through with his plan while Arbiter was still awake.
Chief set his alarm to 3:43 AM in the morning, while Arbiter was still asleep. Unaware that he had unplugged the Xbox as well as the oven and Arbiter had plugged them both back in, he put Cortana in the oven.
As Chief turned the oven on, Cortana heard the sound of the gas and begged that he let her out. Chief, thinking that she was lying since he believed the oven was still unplugged, did not let her out. Moments later the fire inside the oven engulfed Cortana in flames. Chief panicked and quickly turned the oven off, but was too late.
Chief opened the oven and cursed repeatedly as he realised the situation as a whole. Moments later he scraped the burnt remains of Cortana apart with a spatula and flushed her down the toilet. He then hid the plate that she stood on in a box in the closet.
Following Cortana's death, Chief had a brief flash-back of the incident, and displayed several signs of regretting what he had done.
Greg, seeing what Chief had done, was going to tell Arbiter of her death but Chief convinced Greg to conceal the truth from Arbiter, telling him that she mailed herself to a children's charity. This eventually forced Greg to leave again after Arbiter started to neglect him and feeling guilty about hiding the truth from him about Cortana.
After her death, visions of Cortana would repeatedly appear to Chief that could not be seen by Arbiter. She would continue to condemn him. Initially, Chief tried to avoid these visions, but eventually he gave up. Chief and Cortana became closer over time.
After Chief's attitude and concious changed for the better, Cortana decided she was no longer needed around Chief. Chief begged her to stay, but Cortana had already disappeared.
Whether Cortana's post-death appearances were mere hallucinations or an actual spirit was never fully explained; in "Take A Seat", Chief claimed that she was a ghost, but the vision of Cortana herself suggested otherwise. Additionally in the same episode, while chastising Chief, Cortana stands right across from Arbiter while the latter is comforting Chief for being scared, while Arbiter himself never mentions nor acknowledges Cortana's presence, implying that Cortana could also be a manifestation of Chief's collective guilt for murdering her.
Cortana had a strong and rather cold personality. Like Arbiter, she was frank and did not mind the occasional curse word; however she was concerned about Arbiter's depression, and felt offended when he used the word "retard" as a slur. Cortana openly expressed her despisal of Chief. She never backed down in her criticism, even when he threatened to burn her in the oven. Cortana had a tendency to use very formal language, often using Latinate words.
Cortana received a lot of criticism from viewers who found her annoying during season 2 due to her frequent complaining about Chief (even when she wasn't anywhere near him) and accomplishing little else productive. She was written out of the series in season 3, but eventually returned in season 6, which was met with mixed reception. While her eventual death in "Heat" was intended as, and perceived by many viewers as a shocking moment, many responded positively to it, saying that she deserved it, and perceived "Heat" as a comedic episode for that reason.
However, in Act III of Season 7, things took a turn when viewers began to notice a gradual improvement in her character. In light of this, fans were then satisfied with and touched by her peaceful departure from the series in "Game Over".
- Main article: Cortana/Relationships