Over the years, scientists have identified various synthetic "handles" while developing wet chemical protocols for achieving a high level of shape and compositional complexity in colloidal nanomaterials. Halide ions have emerged as one such handle which serve as important surface active species that regulate nanocrystal (NC) growth and concomitant physicochemical properties. Halide ions affect the NC growth kinetics through several means, including selective binding on crystal facets, complexation with the precursors, and oxidative etching. On the other hand, their presence on the surfaces of semiconducting NCs stimulates interesting changes in the intrinsic electronic structure and interparticle communication in the NC solids eventually assembled from them. Then again, halide ions also induce optoelectronic tunability in NCs where they form part of the core, through sheer composition variation. In this review, we describe these roles of halide ions in the growth of nanostructures and the physical changes introduced by them and thereafter demonstrate the commonality of these effects across different classes of nanomaterials.