Why is Cortana naked? Halo franchise director Frank O'Connor has an answer

The Halo universe is full of strange mysteries. Perhaps none so strange, however, as why Cortana appears lacking clothes while other AIs choose to render themselves in a wide variety of garments (including ancient robes, WWII pilot gear, and more). Okay, so maybe I'm being a little hyperbolic about it being the strangest mystery in all of Halo, but the question remains: why is Cortana nude? Well, we had to ask franchise director Frank O'Connor:

O'Connor said during a recent GamesRadar+ How It's Done livestream (about 40 seconds in) that, while Cortana's designs weren't originally intended to be explained the way 343 does, the devs have "backed into" the fiction to address her choice in clothing (or lack thereof). The first thing to understand is that, unlike purely artificial intelligences, Cortana was created from cloning a human brain. This makes her "a bit different" from other AIs. So while other constructs are donning fake clothes to represent their personalities, Cortana approaches social situations from a different angle.

"She's not really nude … but that's what it makes you think of," O'Connor explained. "So one of the reasons she [chooses to appear without clothes] is to attract and demand attention. And she does it to put people off so that they're on their guard when talking to her and she has the upper hand in those conversations."

"It's kind of almost like the opposite of that nightmare you have where you go to school in the nude," O'Connor said. "You're terrified and embarrassed and she's kind of projecting that back out to her audience and winning intellectual points as a result."

So there you have it: if you've ever looked at Cortana and thought, "I'm uncomfortable with how attractive this fake person is," it's because that's what she wants you to think, because you're distracted, anxious, and more vulnerable that way. Or maybe it's because she was created way back in 2001 to be the sexy sidekick to the macho Master Chief. However you want to look at it.

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Sam Prell

Sam is a former News Editor here at GamesRadar. His expert words have appeared on many of the web's well-known gaming sites, including Joystiq, Penny Arcade, Destructoid, and G4 Media, among others. Sam has a serious soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.