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Unggoy (Monachus frigus)
Biological information


Physical description

5'06" (168cm)[1]


260 lb. (118 kg)[2]

Skin color



Short, stocky, round head, smooth skin (Halo: CE and Halo 2), wrinkly skin (Halo 3), squeaky voice, and stubby limbs.

Military and Political information

Covenant, Heretics, Covenant Separatists/Covenant Loyalists

Notable Individuals
Other Nomenclature
  • Chimp
  • Crab
  • Grunt
  • Lobster
  • Pig
  • Punk
  • Runt
  • Gas Sucker
  • Four-Foot Nothing
  • Crybaby
"When in doubt, flee!"
—Unggoy philosophy[3]

The Unggoy[4] (Latin, Monachus frigus, meaning "cold monk" and also monkey in Tagalog) are a small species of servant warriors in the unified races of the Covenant. They are the lowest rank, and are usually used as cannon fodder or hard-labor workers. They are usually mistreated by their higher ranking Elites and Brutes. The Unggoy were one of the later species conquered and absorbed into the Covenant. In appearance, they have a combination of reptilian and mammalian features. They were the third Covenant species to be seen by Humans. They are called Grunts by humans because they are weaker than their superiors and they perform the majority of the labor required by the Covenant, such as slavery and use as "cannon fodder".



This section requires expansion.

Grunts were the sixth race to be integrated into the Covenant, (not including Prophets and Elites) about 411 years before the events of Halo 3, roughly coming to their indoctrination in 2142 on the Military Calendar. Before joining the Covenant, the Unggoy had attained Tier 6 technology on the Forerunner charts.

While they are mostly a slave race, the Unggoy have managed to retain their cultural identities, and have rebelled in the past more than once. Unggoy are the lowest-ranked species of the Covenant. They are bitter rivals with the Jackals, who are also one of the lesser species of the Covenant, and possibly a food source. The higher-ranking races of the Covenant often ignored this rivalry. The rising tensions with the Jackals and the general disinterest from the other Covenant races led to a Grunt Rebellion in 2152. During the Grunt Rebellion, the Grunts proved to the Prophets that they are surprisingly strong in numbers and can be deadly if they are motivated enough. Also, due to this rebellion, the Grunt homeworld was nearly glassed.

Grunts are considered to be little more than an inferior slave race which they obey the other Covenant races out of fear, not will, because they have no political power in Covenant society; the highest political rank available to an Unggoy is a Deacon. However, within the Grunt community there is a strong hatred of other species; especially Jackals. It has been indicated that at some-time in the Covenant's history, in the 39th Age of Conflict - The Age of Doubt - there was a Grunt Rebellion, where the conflict between the Grunts and Jackals escalated. Eventually, the conflict quelled, thanks in part to an unknown Arbiter, who was called upon during that period for that purpose. Even though losses were great for the Unggoy, this dissent meant that the Grunts remained at the lowest echelon of the Covenant. This fear, as well as the aforementioned war also led to a lack of political loyalty during the Covenant Civil War, as the Grunts did not ally with a particular side, and stayed with whoever commanded them, most likely out of subservient fear to their masters and inability to leave to join the Elites. However, many held support for the Elites and still revered The Arbiter, pointing out to their comrades in Halo 3 that they once served under the Arbiter.


Unggoy have small black and red, bead like eyes, although some have reddish orange eyes. Humans have termed such warriors Grunts, due to their size, and because of their speech patterns (as they often make odd squeaking and grunting noises). Grunts share several features with a number of Earth animals. Like simians, they walk on their hind legs, using their front legs to pull themselves along, as well as to grab and hold things. Like elephants, their skin hangs loosely over their skeletons, giving them baggy skin. Like lizards and fish, their skin is covered in thick scales and, like crocodiles, seems armored. In the Halo Encyclopedia, it is stated that the Unggoy are actually arthropods.

They are typically poor and cowardly warriors, are physically diminutive, wear inadequate armor making them very vulnerable to ballistic weaponry, and most of them are tactically inept. However, what they lack in ability they make up for with sheer numbers, as they breed relatively quickly and, if they are focused, are actually quite accurate with their weapon. In some cases, squads of Grunts have been known to overpower careless marines. The conflict on Harvest, and thus the Human-Covenant War, was in part started by an Unggoy named Yull tearing apart Private Osmo. Special Operations Grunts, who wear black armor, are far more tenacious than the lower tiered ones, and have even been known to carry Fuel Rod Guns, which makes them extremely dangerous foes.

They are unusual in the way that they breathe methane rather than oxygen. Their combat armor/harness has an integrated methane re-breather system, as Grunts appear to be unable to survive long without methane due to asphyxiation much like humans without oxygen, yet in Halo 3, knocking the methane tank off of them by forcefully assassinating will still cause them to linger around for a long period of time. It may be a hindrance to the Unggoy's natural ability.



While not overly intelligent or creative on the battlefield, they are one of the most cordial and sociable of the Covenant races as they possess a very strong pack mentality, often associating with each other in groups, instigating them to present danger when encountered in large numbers. This allows for their sense of cultural identity to remain, despite their extreme subservience to the other races of the Covenant. The Grunt pack mentality can be compared to the Brute pack mentality but less violent. Grunts are weak creatures and have the best chance of surviving in combat if they stick together. Brutes, however, possess a culture largely centered upon their united pack hierarchy and combat hardened predator instinct.

The intelligence of Grunts has often been hotly debated, as much of the source material contradict one another. In the Eric Nylund novels they have been described as dog-like and animals but at rare moments, intelligent, such as the Grunt that inadvertently activates the Nova Bomb. In Halo: The Flood, Grunts are shown to be much more intelligent, pulling off military maneuvers and other actions, such as their attempt to put a grenade into Master Chief's suit and Yayap who has a higher than normal intelligence for a Grunt (though he may have been one of many not mentioned in the novels or games). In game, their battlefield tactics are rather simplistic, but they are more than capable of using a variety of weapons and in Halo 2 and Halo 3 pilot vehicles such as the Ghost, as well as Shades. It is also worth considering that as a slave race, they are most likely left untrained and uneducated to make them easy to control. Grunts seem to outnumber the other races to a large degree and might offer impressive resistance if properly organized. Grunts have been called "cannon fodder" because their Elite or Brute leaders will often send them out to serve as a distraction, rather than actually having them effectively engage an enemy in combat. Therefore, it can be seen that Grunts are intelligent, but their low status does not allow them to fully utilize this intelligence.

Grunts generally follow a few short, simple guidelines given to them by the Elites; namely "When in doubt, shoot" or "Stay out of the way, live another day."

Despite being held in low stature in the Covenant, Grunts appear to be strong followers of their religion.

Anatomy and Physiology

Grunts bleed luminous blue blood when wounded.
The face of a minor Unggoy unmasked in Halo 3

Grunts are 3½ to 5½ feet tall and are relatively weak compared to other Covenant species. Although they can easily walk upright on two legs, they are often seen using their arms as legs and moving in a quadrupedal fashion. While carrying armaments, they are forced to walk upright so that they may support their weapons with their hands, but while trying to flee, or while patrolling without a weapon drawn, they use their oversized arms as forelegs to add speed or stability to their gait. Grunts also have average eyesight and hearing, but they seem to have a very well developed sense of smell, sometimes sniffing the air to detect traces of foes or hidden enemies.[5] This is facilitated through the olfactory membranes installed in their masks.

Grunts also have thick, bio-luminescent,[6] light-blue blood,[7] possibly a result of methane-based proteins in the blood to facilitate methane-based respiration. Horseshoe Crabs also have blood that is very similar in color, it may be that their blood, like the horseshoe crabs, is blue due to high copper content. They may also go as far as to contain a protein very similar to hemocyanin (copper based) which is the horseshoe crabs equivalent of hemoglobin (iron based).

Grunts' forearms are incredibly over-sized, as are their calves, while their upper arms and thighs are incredibly minute. This has allowed them to be quite excellent climbers, as discovered in Halo: Contact Harvest. The only way for them to even be able to move like this is if their biceps and triceps are in their forearms and calves, although why they would evolve like this is unknown. This may, however, have to do with the claws that protrude from some of their joints, as the extra mass would add to the force used when attacking with their claws, also they could be using their bicep and tricep muscle fibers for extra strength to increase the grip strength and dexterity of their hands. They also have very good finger reflexes, as they can fire a Plasma Pistol at the same rate an Elite can with a Plasma Rifle.

The standard methane re-breather apparatus.

Grunts have hooves on their three-toed feet, and their skin is leathery and purple-gray, although Contact Harvest describes them as having a tough exoskeleton. They have a single claw that protrudes from each elbow and knee, but its function is unknown, since there are no known instances where it was used in combat. While they are small, stocky, and are not agile; however, they are quite sturdy, and most may be weak, as they seem to be unable to carry a weapon heavier than a Plasma Pistol, although certain Grunts of higher ranks appear to be surprisingly strong, able to carry an undeployed Plasma Cannon or fire a Fuel Rod Gun with one hand and without toppling from the recoil. However, physical strength may not actually go along with rank; the types of weapons available to them may be a part of a "trust" issue with the other Covenant. As rank-and-file Grunts are clumsy and tactically inept, more powerful weapons are likely only issued to those who are more disciplined and experienced.

Grunts seem to be physically stronger than unaided Marines and are capable of carrying extremely heavy equipments such as the Plasma Cannon and the Fuel Rod Gun, where as UNSC Marines have trouble. In Halo 3, Grunts can be seen carrying Fuel Rod Guns with one arm, as well as Plasma Cannons, although they do not use the latter the way Spartans, Brutes and Elites do; instead, they try and find a place to mount these massive weapons.


Grunts have been described as breeding prodigiously[8] in many instances, with large egg clutches and short childhood periods.[9] This might explain why there are so many Grunts on the battlefield. This combined with the large number of young per clutch and rapid sensory motor integration development was one of the primary reasons why the species were given the role of disposable cannon fodder. Their unburdened neural pathway allows them to absorb knowledge more freely compared to their peers. As such, they are constantly monitoring the void for traces of human communication and have developed a clear understanding of two or even three human languages. This serves as a river of confidence in times of great stress for them. Overpopulation is a serious problem and in non-war times, strict laws are placed on Unggoy breeding.



Grunts often have names which reflect a language of very simple phonics. Common names, such as Yayap and Dadab, start with a reduplicated consonant and consist of two syllables. Other names consist of a single syllable with clusters of consonants, as in "Flim." Some exceptions have occurred wherein a name has more consonants than is usual while following the first method of naming, as in Kwassass.

Grunt names encountered so far consist of these phonemes:

  • The vowels short A and short I.
  • The consonants D, F, K , L , M , S, W, P, and Y.

As mentioned above, Grunts do not have family names. Instead they identify themselves by famous ancestors, their homeworld, and where on that planet they lived.

Due to their low status, Grunts are not permitted by the Elites to possess family names; their names instead consist of one or two syllables (e.g. Dadab), usually with a repeating group of letters. They do value their ties to their offspring, but are usually separated from their families at an early age, by the requirements of their military service to the Covenant. The Grunts resent this greatly, but due to their social status in the Covenant are unable to muster any response. It is also interesting to note that Grunts do appreciate many of the luxuries presented to them in their service to the Covenant, one of them being heat, as stated by the Grunt, Kwassass.


A Grunt, as depicted in the Bestiarum.
Main article: Balaho

The Grunt home world of Balaho is a temperate, swampy planet with a methane atmosphere and naturally occurring pillars of fire. The cold season of their planet makes them highly covet any source of warmth and light they can find, mainly due to the blue death.[10] Although not much has been revealed about it, the warm season is likely taken advantage of by Balaho's residents.

Since their natural environment has a methane atmosphere, Grunts need to carry methane tanks and breathing apparatus with them whenever they travel into areas without high levels of methane in the air. Since all the other races of the Covenant, and their Human enemies, breathe oxygen instead, the Unggoy find themselves wearing breathing masks more often than not.[11] They have also been seen inhabiting large environment domes that have airlocks and methane filters for them to breathe, while not in armor[12] or restocking their methane reserves at Battlefield Methane Tanks. Grunts also have high-pitched and squeaky voices, possibly due to acclimation to prolonged, methane gas exposure. Although this is the normal air for the Unggoy, so they themselves find nothing abnormal about their speech. The high-pitched voices are commonly regarded as humorous by most other races, since they tend to sound like frightened children trying to sound intimidating.



"Bad Cyborg!!"
—A Grunt, fleeing from John-117.

The Grunts are the lowliest beings for troops before battle, as well as other tasks, indicating there is a small amount of respect for the Unggoy from Prophets and higher ranks and that they are important in keeping Covenant religious views to other members strong. They are also known to be bitter rivals with Jackals as they are both on the bottom of the social hierarchy, and want to earn more respect within the Covenant.[notes 1] and from a political and military standpoint, are expected to obey the commands of Elites or Brutes without hesitation. This unwavering faithfulness is enforced by the threat of punishment, although on the battlefield, such social protocols are often ignored, where as the Grunt will run in fear as to seeing the Master Chief or the Arbiter or when their leader is killed.[13]

Grunts are subdivided into sub-rankings; lower-ranked Grunts are typically poor combatants, while higher-ranked Grunts may be formidable adversaries in combat and even show signs of leadership capability as well as bravery. A good way to see that low-ranked Grunts are poor fighters is that most Grunts who sleep on duty are Minors. In groups they can be deadly as well as tenacious (but it depends on the level of difficulty), especially if they have an Elite or Brute commander. The Unggoy are also considered to be somewhat humorous by other species, like Jiralhanae, Humans, and Sangheili for their small stature, squeaky voices, and somewhat cute personality.

Rank Structure

Grunts have five classes which are easily identifiable by the color of their armor:

Rank Image Description
Grunt Leaders
Grunt Ultra These Grunts appear to be field commanders for other Grunts, and wear distinctive white-lilac armor (reminiscent of the Ultra Elites). While they appear to have some authority over lesser-ranked Grunts (ignoring Special Operations Grunts who are of a different jurisdiction), they have no control whatsoever over the other Covenant races. Grunt Ultras are also stronger opponents than their subordinates, and are more accurate with firearms, throw Plasma Grenades often, and have heavier armor, making them able to sustain more damage than most other Grunts. They very rarely run, and when present, other Grunts do not run either. Grunt Ultras mostly sided with the Covenant Separatists. There are two on Halo 3 that can be seen wielding Brute Spikers. They also are rarely seen on easy and normal (except with the Thunderstorm Skull activated). Bungie apparently refers to these grunts as Halo 3 Spec-Ops grunts whose color theme changed because of the Brutes.
Grunt Specialists
Special Operations Grunt These grunts are experienced and specially-chosen, and are commanded by Special Operations Elites, and are given to wear distinctive jet-black armor. They are part of the Covenant Special Operations division of the Covenant Separatists Special Warfare Group. Like the special operations Elites, they also have Active Camouflage. Special Operations Grunts are extremely skilled in warfare compared to the Grunt species, and don't panic too often in combat situations, if they do at all. They are sometimes seen wielding Fuel Rod Guns, and they throw Plasma Grenades more often than lesser Grunt ranks, as well as throwing them more accurately. Most of the Special Operations Grunts sided with the Arbiter and Covenant Separatists during the Covenant Civil War. However, some did side with Covenant Loyalists now wearing white armor similar to Ultra Grunts. Some Loyalist Grunts were seen during the Battle of Installation 00. These Grunts will not flee when their commander is killed, but rather seek revenge, often utilizing excessive use of plasma grenades.
Heavy Grunt Being similar to the rank of UNSC Lance Corporal or Corporal, these specialized grunts wearing green armor are often deployed in defensive actions[14] whose primary purposes are to deploy Plasma Cannons and man them (but occasionally wield Fuel Rod Guns as well). Additionally, they also have been seen operating/driving Ghost vehicles and Shades. They can also rarely be seen wielding a Brute Spiker, such as on The Ark.
Grunt Infantry
Grunt Major Similar to a UNSC Private First Class or a Lance Corporal, Grunt Majors are more seasoned soldiers over grunt minors, and wear crimson armor. They sometimes command several Grunt Minors and are slightly more skilled in combat and courageous than Grunt Minors, though this difference is not always substantial. In Halo: Combat Evolved, they take two Sniper Rifle shots in the chest to die on Legendary, since although they have roughly the same health as a Spartan, although the multipliers should allow them to withstand a large caliber shot such as the sniper rifle's. Sometimes they will not run away but keep shooting at you if everyone around them is dead.
Grunt Minor The Covenant equivalent of a UNSC Private or Private First Class, these wear orange armor. They are often the least dangerous, most cowardly, and inaccurate marksmen. When their commanding officer (usually an Elite or Brute) is killed, they routinely break formation and flee, also they sometimes regroup and start firing at their target again. As is fitting for Brutes behaviour, Grunts under the command of Brutes are substantially more aggressive.

As with mostly every AI Enemy, they do not Swap or Switch weapons at any time.

Other Ranks

The only position open to the Grunts in the Ministry of Tranquility. This rank doesn't often involve combat or hard manual labor, though they have been known to carry around Plasma Pistols and Needlers, the former possibly meaning it is the lowest position on the Covenant hierarchy. But as seen in Halo: Contact Harvest the Deacon ordered around other Unggoy whenever it came to matter of religion. In Halo Wars, Deacons are available as the final upgrade for Grunts. They further bolster and strengthen the abilities of the Grunt squads. Interestingly, these Grunts wear elongated helmets not dissimilar of their Sanghieli counterparts.

Though it's never named a rank and only mentioned once, it was said in Contact Harvest, that well respected Grunts in the Hierarchy are merchants. When Truth was sworn into office the Drone Queen, Jackal Ship Masters, and Merchant Grunts were said to be there. It was said also, that their combat harness was adorned with large jewels.[15]

Suicide Grunts
The suicide grunt rank appear in Halo Wars. They serve as the Arbiter's unique units, coming in squads of four. They resemble standard grunts except for a large, transparent, cylinder-shaped methane tank replacing the standard, triangular tank. These grunts seem to be one of the lowest ranks considering the facts that they wield Plasma Pistols and that they commit suicide kamikaze-style. Their Y ability consists of lighting their methane tanks and charging the enemy in a similar fashion to some grunt minors. Once the grunts come in contact with the chosen enemy, they violently explode. They also seem to have a higher pitched voice compared to normal grunts.

Heretic Grunts
These Grunts have different methane tubes than their non-Heretic counterparts. They have just two round tubes, instead of the pointed-pyramid shape. Another feature of the Heretic Grunt armor is a small mouth-breather that exposes a Grunt's teeth. Unlike the armor of the Heretic Elites, there is only one uniform color for a Grunt's armor, which is a shining, golden-brown. Because of this, there is no hierarchy or ranking system, and Heretic Grunts are inferior only to Heretic Elites. Heretic Grunts are also superior to their Covenant counterparts by their equipment and usage thereof. They almost always use Needlers, or occasionally Fuel Rod Guns, but never the Plasma Pistol that is so often overused by their counterparts. They also try to set up turrets sometimes like Heavy Grunts. Judging by the fact they always wield Needlers or Fuel Rod Guns, it indicates that they are better treated than their Covenant counterparts, and are not used as cannon fodder.


Main article: Unggoy/Gameplay

Overall, Grunts are very weak in combat; often fleeing when their leader has been killed. However, on larger numbers, Grunts can be more of a threat, especially in higher difficulties. Some Grunts, when their leader has been killed, would activate two Plasma Grenades in their hands and rush the player in an effect to kill them by committing suicide.

In Halo Wars, the Grunt serves as the main infantry unit, serving as the Covenant equal to the Marine. They first start out with a Plasma Pistol and three in each squad, but they can be upgraded to wield Needlers, which cause more damage.


  • Grunts do have a melee animation, but it is almost never used. It is sometimes used to move debris out of the way. This can be easily seen in the beginning stages of the Halo 2 level Sacred Icon.
  • A "Grunt" is also a term used in real life military that is slang for infantrymen.[16]
  • In the beginning of the level Delta Halo, in the beginning cinematic there is a Grunt playing with various objects including Master Chief and Grunt action figures as well as fire. They all, however, disappear after the cinematic ends.
  • In all of the comics, Grunts with cylinders on their back can be seen among the common ones. In Halo: Uprising, when shot at by Myras Tyla with a plasma pistol, they explode, killing their teammates near them. In Halo Wars, it is shown that these Grunts are used for suicide bombings and kamikaze attacks.
  • It is hinted that when they disobey orders, they are fed to Jackals as punishment.
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, the Grunt's blood is used as a placeholder for all Covenant bodies, even Elites and Jackals.
  • Strangely, the symbol for the Peons research in Halo Wars shows '+2', but in the game it only gives each squad one extra grunt.
  • Grunts usually complain when they are ordered to move. This can be commonly heard in Halo Wars as you move a Grunt squad, they will usually say "Go here, go there," as in protest.
  • Grunts were recently ranked #5 in Game Informer's "The Top 10 Most Pathetic Enemies" list.[citation needed]
  • In the Halo: Combat Evolved manual, it says that Grunts are approximately 5 feet tall when actually they are only about more than half as tall as an average Marine. It also states that they can be seen wielding Plasma Rifles, even though in-game, they are never seen doing so.
  • On some occasions (Most likely only with the IWBYD skull on) in Halo 3, suicide grunts will say, "PLEASE ENJOY MY BRIGHT, BLUE BALLS!"
  • Strangely, Bungie actually made an AI tag for a Grunt wielding a Spiker, since these Grunts are extremely rare and rarely seen, and it may or may not be worth it to make a Grunt with a Spiker. The process is easy, however, since you just change their weapon specified and need not make an entirely new file.
  • Some Grunts in Halo: Reach will be using different suits than seen before. These suits have a helmet that fully encases the head, with slits for eyes, and a cylindrical methane tank similar to ones previously seen in the Halo Graphic Novel and Halo Wars. They have been nicknamed "Keg Grunts" by Bungie due to the shape of the methane containers. However, more traditional suits will also appear.[17]



  1. In the novels, the narrators emphasize this point and the game dialog in general also suggests this, but in Halo 2 a Jackal and Grunt are seen sharing a fire just prior to their noticing Master Chief and Orbital Drop Shock Troopers land.


  1. Halo Encyclopedia, page 142
  2. Halo Encyclopedia, page 142
  3. Halo Encyclopedia
  4. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 191 - "Unggoy: the Elite name for the Grunt race".
  5. Halo 2
  6. Halo: First Strike, page 59: Phosphorescent blood pooled beneath their prone forms.
  7. Halo: The Flood, page 27
  8. Halo: Contact Harvest
  9. Bestiarum
  10. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
  11. Halo: The Flood
  12. Halo: The Flood, page 60
  13. Halo: The Flood
  14. Halo 2, Gravemind (Level)
  15. Halo: Contact Harvest page 381
  16. Wikipedia's article on Grunt
  17. GameInformer: February Edition

See Also

This article uses material from the "Unggoy" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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