In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', the prehistory of the Imperium of Man is best noted by the following figures.


[[folder:The God-Emperor of Mankind]]
[[caption-width-right:315:The Emperor sees all... [[ScaryImpracticalArmor except]] [[NoPeripheralVision what's on either side of him]].]]

->'''[[BadassCreed The Emperor protects.]]'''

At the center of the Imperium of Man is a being known only as the Emperor of Mankind. The mysterious ruler of the Imperium, and a seemingly immortal being of incredible scientific knowledge, psychic powers, and charisma, the Emperor emerged from out of nowhere at the end of humanity's Age of Strife. Gathering a massive army of {{Super Soldier}}s, the precursors to the future SpaceMarine legions, he reunited an Earth that had fallen into pointless civil war, then led humanity back out into the galaxy once more, seeking to reclaim all of the worlds that humanity had settled before the Age of Strife. With the aid of twenty Primarchs, SuperPrototype versions of the Space Marines, he conquered untold thousands of worlds for mankind, and it looked as if humanity would, indeed, claim the entire galaxy for themselves. Then, ten thousand years ago, came the [[CivilWar Horus Heresy]], in which half of his Primarchs, under the leadership of Horus, his most trusted son, went rogue and swore themselves to the Dark Gods of Chaos. The Emperor killed Horus, [[PyrrhicVictory but was mortally wounded and placed on his Golden Throne, and has been suspended at the brink of death ever since]].

!!Notable tropes:

* AgeWithoutYouth: The Golden Throne has kept the Emperor alive for ten thousand years, but he's gone from a mortally wounded man to a shriveled, mummified husk.
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: [[invoked]] As the most mysterious and enigmatic, and yet vitally important figure, to the setting, he invites a lot of this. Was he a PhysicalGod? An emissary from the future intended to lead humanity to a golden age? A unique mutant who further obscured the truth through his incredible psychic powers and mastery of lost technology? A gestalt embodiment of every human psyker to have existed before the birth of the Chaos Gods?[[note]]That last one was canon in the earliest editions.[[/note]]
** Even after the Emperor's entombment in the Golden Throne, these questions still persist. Is he still watching over the Imperium to this day, casting his mind into the warp to defend human souls from damnation as the mainline Ecclesiarchy dogma claims? Or did he "die" centuries ago and the Golden Throne is only maintaining the appearance that he has some semblance of life? Does the Golden Throne empower him in ways he could not be while he walked among men? Or is it limiting his potential by keeping him shackled to his mortal shell instead of [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence ascending to true godhood]]?
** On a more terrestrial level, it is conversed whether or not the Emperor was truly the messianic figure he claimed to be, or was rather a deranged dictator with delusions of grandeur and desired power for its own sake. Angron, before his fall to Chaos, reflected it was probably the latter due to the fact the 'choice' the Emperor gave (join me, accept my beliefs and serve me unreservedly or DIE) wasn't much of a choice at all, and also of how the Emperor just as often ordered the deaths of those who didn't agree with them as much as he did the deaths of actual tyrants who deserved what they got.
* AndIMustScream: The Emperor is trapped mere inches from death, and has been that way for ten thousand years, his once-glorious physique withering into nothing more then a skeletal carcass intricately intermeshed in a mountainous machine-throne, his psyche locked within his skull and unable to communicate with the outside world. If fate was merciful, he would be oblivious to everything going on in the outer world. As this is ''Warhammer 40000'', he's more likely perfectly aware that the Imperium has descended into a nightmarish techno-barbaric theocracy... and all of its madness and evil is done in ''his'' name.
** He is said to be shedding microscopic tears for each man who dies in his service. The Custodes collect them in tiny vials.
* AndItWorked: It's true that during his life he killed a ton of people, and made highly objectionable decisions, exterminated entire intelligent races (something that would become a habit for the Imperium later on) but the Imperium he left behind is the only place Chaos can't completely defile[[note]]even though many of those who live under it are at risk of being corrupted[[/note]], allows trillions to live unmolested, and even allows for something resembling a heaven of sorts. So yes, the Imperium worked. However, without the Emperor to oversee the Imperium, it worked in the absolute worst way possible.
* AntiHero: What point on the scale depends on the individual, but the Emperor was equal parts wonderfully heroic and terribly flawed.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: The Emperor became Emperor because he had the mightiest armies, and he acquired many of those armies ''because'' of his own incredible physical and psychic strength.
* {{Badass}}: Say what you will about the Emperor, but he was Badass.
** BadassBoast: Many, but the creation of the Space Marines deserves a mention.
-->''They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest gun shall they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines such that no foe will best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the terror. They are the defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines... and they shall know no fear.''
** BadassBookworm: Almost 50 thousand years will make one this.
** BadassCape: A long red one.
** BadassGrandpa: Around 38 thousand years old by the time of the Horus Heresy.
** BadassInCharge: "Emperor of Mankind" kind of says it all.
** CulturedBadass: The Emperor wasn't just out to save the human race, but also its historical and technological achievements. The Imperial Palace had a massive museum dedicated to housing various bits of historically important machinery, ranging from ancient pottery to parts of the first Warp-capable engine.
** FourStarBadass: He didn't just win his battles by overwhelming force.
* BeliefMakesYouStupid: The Emperor believed this, in part because he knew that all gods were ultimately tied to Chaos, and ruthlessly pushed a secular worldview on the budding Imperium in hopes that it would starve the Chaos Gods. This might have worked in the long run if anything hadn't gone to hell. Or it might have failed epically, since the Chaos Gods are empowered by emotions as well as belief, and humanity isn't the only game in town. We don't know for sure.
* BigGood: The Imperium viewed him as this, and still views him as this. At best, though, he's a case of GoodIsNotNice; tough to be a good guy when you order whole intelligent races be [[WouldBeRudeToSayGenocide made extinct]].
* BlingOfWar: His armor during the Great Crusade was golden Terminator armor.
* BodyguardingABadass: He is far more powerful than his guards. Though they're not so much bodyguards as companions (similar to Alexander the Great's companion cavalry), an elite cadre that can be committed at a critical time and place.
* CanonDiscontinuity: The original Chaos sourcebooks for Warhammer and 40K, "Slaves to Darkness" and "The Lost And The Damned", gave the Emperor an origin as the gestalt embodiment of a thousand powerful human psykers who had existed before the coming of the Chaos Gods, who realised that the dawning gods were consuming or corrupting all of their fellow Shamans and so ritually sacrificed themselves to create a single mighty Warp entity in human flesh that would be able to protect against and eventually defeat the Chaos Gods. This has been subtly {{Retcon}}ned out with the passing of the editions, most notably the recent emphasis that Chaos came into existence during the war between the C'tan and the Slann, making all of the Gods (bar Slaanesh) older by far than the human race. Presumably the intention is to make the Emperor even more enigmatic, unknowable and alien.
** The same sourcebooks also introduced the concept of the Star Child -- in essence a nascent God created when the Emperor was struck down by Horus and comprised of his positive attributes; compassion, love, tolerance, understanding, etcetera. Closely interlinked with this were the Illuminati, a secret cabal of daemonhosts who had been freed from their possession but retained incredible psychic powers and an immunity to all subsequent daemonic possession, and the Sensei, mutant offspring fathered unknowingly by the Emperor during his years amongst humanity, who were immortal, sterile, untouchable by Chaos and invisible to their father. The Illuminati were gathering the Sensei together, planning to sacrifice them in order to fuel the birth of the Star Child into a fully-fledged God to lead humanity to safety and glory once again. In the third edition corebook, the Star Child and its attendent Illuminati and Sensei was stricken from the setting, in universe, by noting that the "Star Child Cult" was a minor Tzeentchian cult that was hunted down and destroyed utterly by the Inquisition.
*** The concept of the Sensei as ultra-pure anti-Chaos warriors with a bond to the Emperor even stronger then that possessed by the Space Marines may, however, have eventually inspired the creation of the Grey Knights.
*** However, the Inquisition has fair cause to think that they're just being manipulated by Tzeentch.
* CreateYourOwnVillain: The Emperor's cruel and arrogant treatment of several of the Primarchs (especially Lorgar and Magnus) is what pushed them to turn to Chaos.
* CrystalDragonJesus: May have been the historical Jesus, so definitely. He even looks a little like a combination of a roid-raging Jesus and a Native American, though he was allegedly born in central Anatolia around 8000 BC, so he's probably a member of one of the extremely ancient ethnic groups from that area (one of which built [[ Çatalhöyük]], an incredibly advanced society for its time).
* DaddyHadAGoodReasonForAbandoningYou: The first time was because the Chaos Gods had the Primarchs scattered to the stars. The second time was when he left the Great Crusade to begin working on an Imperial Webway. If he had bothered to ''tell'' the Primarchs this, he might have avoided (or at least delayed) the HorusHeresy.
* DarkLordOnLifeSupport: Though he's [[BlackAndGreyMorality theoretically]] a force for good, he's stuck in the Golden Throne, a life support machine that is [[PoweredByAForsakenChild fed the souls of a thousand psykers every day]], so that he may never truly die.
* DarkMessiah: For all his good intentions, even during the Great Crusade, the Emperor racked up a greater bodycount then every one of Earth's dictators combined and multiplied by several thousand, at the very least.
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: A possible interpretation for some of his more questionable actions, no matter how many good intentions were behind them.
* TheDreaded: The Chaos Gods themselves refer to him as "The Anathema".
* {{Expy}}: He's more or less a Jerkass-y rehash of [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} Sigmar]].
** Also a rehash of [[Literature/{{Dune}} Leto II Atreides]].
* TheEmperor: Obviously.
* EmperorScientist: Was a genius, as the Astronomicon, the Primarchs' creation, the Webway project, and a whole bunch of stuff can attest. The Adeptus Mechanicus doesn't worship him, but they do revere and venerate him for reasons besides not being purged by the Imperium for heresy.
* FanNickname: "The Emprah", as a reference to some characters' pronunciation in ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'', "Emps", or "The Big E".
* FantasticRacism: While somewhat justified in that many alien species did oppose or literally prey upon humanity when it encountered them, the Emperor and his armies did encounter numerous civilisations where humans and aliens were peacefully coexisting... and promptly slaughtered them all.
* FatalFlaw: Mainly arrogance. He was the pinnacle of humanity and he knew it. This caused him to never feel the need to explain himself, and assume that no one would betray or disobey him regardless of what he did. Consequently, he's a pretty lousy father, even after finding his scattered sons. This parental failure is almost entirely responsible for causing the [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Horus Heresy]].
** He was a being of impossible power. Almost divine in nature. As more divine a man becomes, just as well his humanity fades. It is not unfeasible to believe that he was disconnected from humanity in such a way that he did not expect certain things anymore, like his sons' disloyalty. Furthermore, being right about almost everything left him with an outright [[TautologicalTemplar inability to consider that his personal opinions might be mistaken]].
*** The Priest in The Last Church realized this to be the Emperor's fatal flaw; that the Emperor simply could not comprehend lesser beings' (i.e. everyone else) needs, whether to believe in something greater than themselves, or just to have their own opinions.
* AFatherToHisMen:
** Subverted with the Thunder Warriors, the forebears of the later Adeptus Astartes Legions and the very soldiers the Emperor created in order to aid him in his 'unification' of Earth, despite their genuine and often fanatical loyalty to him, the Emperor decided that their violent tendencies and short life-spans made them a liability to his later plans of galactic conquest. And thus had all of them slaughtered to a man, aside from a few survivors who have managed to work around the quick expiration date.
*** One theory holds that he was planning to do the same thing to most of the Primarchs...
** More or less played straight with the rest of the humanity. As long as they aren't corrupted by Chaos, that is...
* FlamingSword: Shown as having one in the HorusHeresy artwork he appears in, though it may be a force sword he's powering with his psychic powers.
* GodEmperor: Tried to deny this during the Great Crusade, but cults deifying him were constantly springing up during that time, after the Horus Heresy, the Imperium became a theocracy dedicated to him as its god-figure.
* GodIsGood: To an extent. While he was still alive, his goal was to keep humanity from destroying itself in the same way that the Eldar empire did. His methods were what was morally questionable. He's still at least much more benevolent than the Chaos Gods, though generally weaker in most ways.
* GoodIsNotNice: The Emperor was[=/=]is probably the closest thing to a BigGood in the setting from a human perspective, considering his lofty goals. However, he sought to create a utopia entirely on his own terms and would not hesitate to crush anyone who stood in the way of his plans, even if they weren't necessarily directly opposing him (though ''especially'' if they were).
* HeroicSacrifice: According to ''[[HorusHeresy The Outcast Dead]]'', the Emperor went into the duel with Horus well aware that he was going to die.
* HeroicWillpower: The Emperor's body is all but dead, and he's more than ready to die. The only thing keeping him alive? His own determination and love of humanity...and being fed one thousand psykers a day from his life support chair. Mostly the thousand psykers and chair, but the willpower helps.
* HorribleJudgeOfCharacter: While the Emperor sometimes provided most of a push towards it, ultimately, he was perfectly willing to recruit and fight alongside many individuals who not only went on to sell themselves to Chaos, but were such utter psychopaths that the Dark Gods made them immortal in reward for being so insane.
* HumanoidAbomination[=/=] PhysicalGod: The Emperor is/was definitely one of these, depending on how you look at it. John Grammaticus once made psychic contact with the Emperor and had a panic attack just thinking about the experience two centuries later.
* HumansAreWhite: Averted, artwork shows him as noticeably tan. He was born in Ancient Turkey, in fact.
* {{Hypocrite}}: In ''The Last Church'', he claims that religion is evil because deeply held beliefs lead to violence, citing certain historical examples such as the Crusades to argue the point. He has no qualms with leading a genocidal campaign of destruction based on the belief that HumanityIsSuperior, though and called said campaign [[NotSoDifferent 'the Great Crusade']]. Bonus points in that he was called out on it in the same story.
-->'''Uriah''': Didn't you just tell me about the bloodshed perpetrated by the crusades? Doesn't ''that'' you make you no better than the holy men you were telling me about?\\
'''The Emperor''': [[TautologicalTemplar The difference is that I am right.]]\\
'''Uriah''': [[KirkSummation Spoken like a true autocrat.]]
* IHaveManyNames: While his birth name is unknown, he is variously known as the Master of Mankind, the Outlander to the Salamanders and people of Nocturne, and the [[NorseMythology Allfather]] to the [[SpaceWolf people of Fenris]]. Followers of Chaos refer to him as the False Emperor and the Corpse-God, while Daemons call him the Anathema. In addition it's implied that he was several notable historical figures from our time, including possibly Jesus and [[SaintGeorgeAndTheDragon St. George]], though his 'dragon' was the [[EldritchAbomination Void Dragon]].
* JerkAss: The Emperor was not always the nicest of people. To be blunt, many of the Primarchs who turned to Chaos did so because the Emperor had done considerable wrongs to them in the first place, which is hinted at in the game canon and usually shown in a more detailed fashion in the HorusHeresy novels.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Admittedly, for all of the shit that he pulled, the Emperor did everything for the good of mankind. Trying to act diplomatically to some of the xeno races helps too, though never to the point of outright tolerance.
* KickTheSonOfABitch: Regardless of his intentions, due to the sheer volume of the atrocities he had committed and his ''titanic'' arrogance, it is hard to resist the feeling that he sort of had it coming as Horus beats him within an inch of his life.
* KingOnHisDeathbed: The state of the Emperor for the last ten thousand years is basically in a state mere seconds (maybe microseconds) away from death, only "surviving" (in a liberal use of the term) by the Golden Throne. Since 5th edition it has been established that the Golden Throne is developing problems that the Adeptus Mechanicus has no knowledge of how to fix, so the Emperor could fully die sometime in the 42nd millennium. [[ArcFatigue But since that would require moving the story along]], he looks safe for the time being.
* LargeAndInCharge: In his heyday, the Emperor was about two or three times the size of a human being, and almost as broad across the shoulders as he was tall. Bear in mind, we've usually only seen him in Terminator armor.
** A picture exists of him without it. [[ He looks to be rather standard in height]].
* LightIsGood: He single-handedly saved Mankind, united them, developed a lasting empire, and rediscovered many of Humanity's lost sciences!
** LightIsNotGood: ...but he killed billions (if not trillions) of mostly-innocent people (humans and aliens) in the process, among other terrible crimes. His reign saw the deaths of more human beings than every earthly despot combined, and ultimately plunged the world into a new dark age.
* ManifestDestiny: His credo was that humanity had one to rule the galaxy.
* ManInTheMachine: The Emperor was entombed in an incredibly elaborate life-support system known as the Golden Throne after he became mortally wounded slaying Horus. He has remained there ever since, existing in a vegetable-like state, unresponsive and uncommunicative, throughout the Imperium's history. His frame has atrophied to the point that he is almost skeletal, a wrecked shell of the man he once was.
** IAmAHumanitarian[=/=]PoweredByAForsakenChild: In order to keep the Emperor alive, exactly one thousand psykers (those deemed unfit to be trained to resist DemonicPossession and made otherwise useful) are fed to the Golden Throne daily, being sacrificed so that their souls can power its psychic connection with the Astronomican, the warp-beacon that allows Imperial ships to navigate galaxy-spanning distances through the otherwise shrouded and swirling empyran. Should this connection ever go down, long-range interstellar travel would become impossible for humanity and the Imperium would fall apart.
* MergerOfSouls: He is sometimes said to be the reincarnation of thousands of prehistoric shamans' souls, merged into a singular being.
* MultipleChoicePast: There are several possible stories of the Emperor's origin; none have been confirmed as canon, although at least one has been decisively stamped out in the fluff.
* NecessarilyEvil: [[IDidWhatIHadToDo He claimed that a number of his more]] [[WhatTheHellHero morally ambiguous actions]] were these. Which ones were and how necessary they were is up to the reader/player to decide.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero:
** Several Traitor Primarchs got their StartOfDarkness because the Emperor was such a JerkAss. One of the more significant examples; the Word Bearers became the first Legion to turn to Chaos, and thus were significantly involved in corrupting the rest, because the Emperor, after having let it go by for a hundred years, obliterated an Imperial Faith World that the Word Bearers had taken great pride in and cherished for their success there. Then he summoned the Word Bearers to the smoldering ashes of the world they viewed as the jewel of their achievements and humiliatingly dressed them down for their 'failures' to himself and the Great Crusade, while [[KneelBeforeZod using his immense power to force them all to kneel before him]]. The result? Lorgar ends up in a CrisisOfFaith and then eagerly turns to gods that accept they are gods and expect worship -- the Dark Gods of Chaos.
** For that matter, his idea of handling Chaos in the first place was a pretty stupid idea in hindsight. The Emperor strove to keep his followers as ignorant of the realities of Warp-space as possible, including that there really are beings out there that feed on human worship but have no benevolent intentions for humanity; even those who did know they existed were given a considerably naive view of just how powerful, dangerous, and intelligent they were. Result? Half of the Primarchs are corrupted, many of them unwillingly, and they took their Legions with them. The first HorusHeresy novel implicitly contrasts this to an empire called the Interex, who are open about the existence and dangers of Chaos (though they spell it Kaos) and strive to educate their populace about its dangers, making them staunch enemies of Chaos and highly resistant to its attempts to corrupt them, because they know ''exactly'' what Chaos is, will do, why it does so, and how it operates.
* NoNameGiven: The Emperor's true name has been lost to time. It's said that the only people who knew were Malcador the Sigilite and Eldrad Ulthran.
* NotQuiteDead:...but not quite alive, either.
* OmniscientMoralityLicense: Sure acted like he had one.
* OurFounder
* [[OurGodsAreGreater Our God Is On Life Support, Insisted That He Was Never A God, And May In Fact Be Dead But He's STILL Greater]]
* ParentalFavoritism: After Horus, the Emperor's favorite Primarchs were (in no particular order) Sanguinius, Roboute Guilliman, Rogal Dorn, and Fulgrim.
* ParentsAsPeople: To paraphrase a famous quote by Roboute Gulliman: For all his achievements the Emperor was a deeply flawed human being and his flaws made him a terrible, terrible father.
* ThePatriarch: The Imperium portrays the Emperor as the spiritual father of humanity, as he rather invoked this image during the Great Crusade.
* PoorCommunicationKills: One of the Emperor's greatest failings. He wanted to starve the Chaos Gods of worshipers, so he tried to push everyone to a secular worldview of "there are no gods"; instead of saying "what we think of as gods and demons are actually psychic-energy-creatures that want to eat your soul so DON'T DEAL WITH THEM", so people dealt with them anyway because (sometimes at least) they didn't know better. He wanted to return to Terra to finish work on establishing a permanent link to the Webway, and thus free humanity from terribly dangerous Warp travel; he said nothing of this to ''any'' of his Primarch sons, he simply left the Crusade, and the feelings of betrayal, suspicion and jealousy combined into the Horus Heresy. The list really could go on for quite a long while.
* ProHumanTransHuman: Equal parts trans and pro.
* PsychicPowers: The most powerful psyker in human history, to the extent that even the Eldar and the Daemons of Chaos were afraid of what he might do if he got... motivated.
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: During the Horus Heresy, he was [[MultipleChoicePast between 400 and 40,000 years old]], depending on your interpretation of his SelfProclaimedLiar status[[note]]the Emperor made a lot of lies in an attempt to kill the very concept of religion, and later admitted to lying, but it's impossible to tell if his recount of his own backstory was among those lies[[/note]], but merely looked as if he was in his mid- to late forties. His modern incarnation [[AgeWithoutYouth definitely looks 50,000 years old, though.]]
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: Personally lead the Great Crusade for centuries. His departure and retirement to the Imperial Palace actually caused a great deal of discontent.
* ShadowDictator: The forces of Chaos insist that the Emperor is long dead, that the various functions he fulfills are purely mechanical, and that he can do nothing to help the people of the Imperium, say, enjoy an afterlife. On the other hand, they're [[UnreliableNarrator not very reliable]]. Then again, [[FalseReassurance the Imperium is about as reliable, so...]]
* SorcererKing: Very much, though in the Imperium's present he gets called a god instead, [[AGodIAmNot much to his chagrin]]. He, among other things, was considered the greatest psyker (the franchise's term for psychics and sorcerers) of all time, capable of bending the fabric of reality and destroying much. His power was considered godlike, [[AGodIAmNot despite his insistence otherwise]]. As usual we have to note here that in any other setting he'd be a SorcerousOverlord, as billions lie dead from his direct actions, never mind those of his followers. [[RunningGag Did we mention that 40k is GRIMDARK yet?]]
* StopWorshippingMe: And he enforced that decree, with extreme prejudice. This is indirectly the cause of the HorusHeresy, also.
-->'''Bjorn the Fell-Handed:''' ''God-Emperor?'' Calling him a god was how all this mess started.
* SuperIntelligence: Which makes a lot of his decisions in the Horus Heresy really hard to believe that someone that intelligent could make so ''many'' bad decisions. Well, let's make it clear - the Emperor had a very high IQ, he just had a terrible EQ. Most of his decisions make sense within an intellectual perimeter; he just never understood how they would affect the emotional well-being of his Primarchs, as well as his subjects.
* TautologicalTemplar: His thinking, by the end. It led to many terrible problems. See {{Hypocrite}} above.
* TimeAbyss: Sources indicate that the Emperor was born in 8,000 B.C., making him nearly fifty thousand years by the time of the game's setting.
* TrulySingleParent: The Primarchs were partially created using the Emperor's own DNA.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Oh yes. In a setting where the "[[BlackAndGreyMorality good guys]]" are almost always [=WIEs=], the Emperor goes UpToEleven for both values of "well-intentioned" and "extremist", taking both far beyond any scale of those measures that had come before or has come since. Though others in his time believed that he was after lordship of the galaxy, the HorusHeresy books have shown that the what the Emperor does, he is doing because he genuinely believes it is for the betterment of the human race and the Galaxy as a whole.
* WhatAnIdiot: [[invoked]] Honestly, many of the Emperor's decisions were so obviously wrong it's hard to imagine how a sensible human being could have made them, never mind a supposedly perfect being. Take, as a perfect example, the situation with the rescue of Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters Legion. The Emperor discovers Angron in the final stages of a Film/{{Spartacus}} scenario, poised to be wiped out by a vastly superior number of forces. Having approached Angron in secret, Angron refuses to abandon his comrades and is willing to die with them. The Emperor's options include summoning his own forces to reinforce Angron's, whisking all of Angron's army aboard his massive spaceships, or unleashing an orbital barrage to at least devastate the enemy army so that Angron's force can win. Instead, he chooses to whisk Angron away from the battlefield at the last moment and leave Angron's friends and followers to be utterly wiped out, leaving Angron bitter, resentful, hating the Emperor, and full of rage -- in other words, a perfect candidate to swear allegiance to Khorne in order to take revenge.

[[folder:The Primarchs]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:From the left (click for full size): Sanguinius, Mortarion, Magnus the Red, Angron, Jaghatai Khan, Lorgar Aurelian, Rogal Dorn, Horus Lupercal, and Fulgrim.]]-]

->''Each of us carries part of our father within us, whether it is his hunger for battle, his psychic talent or his determination to succeed.''

The children of the Emperor, created from his very own DNA, scattered across the galaxy by the Chaos Gods in their infancies, and each eventually recovered by the Emperor. Each of the Primarchs was the pinnacle of humanity, a posthuman demigod who commanded the full might of a [[SuperSoldier Space]] [[SpaceMarines Marine]] [[BadassArmy Legion]]. However, half their number fell to Chaos, and the repercussions of this [[HorusHeresy betrayal]] led to Warhammer 40K becoming the Hell-universe we know and love.

!!Notable tropes:

* TheAce: All the Primarchs are fast learners and can master anything with ease.
* AntiVillain
** Magnus the Red is revealed to be one in an exceptionally tragic way.
** Possibly also Alpharius/Omegon. Or not. It's confusing.
** Lorgar, far more so than any enthusiastic Chaos follower in the setting has a right to be.
* AscendedToAHigherPlaneOfExistence: The surviving Traitor Primarchs have ascended to Daemon Prince status.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: They kicked ass before they became Legion Masters.
* {{Badass}}: Every. Last. One.
** BadassBaritone: When speaking in the ''Horus Heresy'' books the Primarch are frequently described as "rumbling".
** BadassBeard: Rogal Dorn. Notably averted with Leman Russ (despite the Wolves' fondness for beards).
** BadassBookworm: Lion El'Jonson, Roboute Guilliman, Lorgar, and Magnus the Red.
** BadassCape: Rogal Dorn, Fulgrim, Lion El'Jonnson, and Leman Russ.
** BadassFamily: Oh, yes.
** BadassInCharge: Many were leaders in one form or another prior to being found by the Emperor, and each led a Space Marine Legion.
** CulturedBadass: Fulgrim, Magnus, and Sanguinius.
** FourStarBadass: What they were designed to be.
** SealedBadassInACan: Lion El'Jonnson and Roboute Guilliman.
* BaldOfAwesome: Vulkan. Horus, Mortarion, and Perturabo as well, before they became [[BaldOfEvil the other variety]].
* BattleTrophy: Most had some sort of collection of various trophies during the Great Crusade. Fulgrim presented Ferrus Manus' head to Horus during the Heresy and it is implied that Trazyn the Infinite has a primarch in stasis as part of his collection, likely Vulkan.
* BewareTheNiceOnes:
** Sanguinius was perhaps the noblest of the Primarchs, firmly believing that humanity should be ruled by its hopes and dreams. He sliced through Greater Daemons of Chaos like they were nothing.
** Vulkan's compassion for civilians lead him to placing his own Salamanders in more risk to protect the humans. He could send Predators and Land Raiders flying through the air with a single swing of his Thunder Hammer.
** Corax strongly believed in the Space Marines being the liberators of humankind, not enslavers. During the Drop Site Massacre he tore through Daemon-possessed Space Marines like they were paper.
** Roboute Guilliman set up the most functional government of the post-Heresy Imperium due to his beliefs in the Astartes serving humanity. During the Battle of Calth he decapitated fully-armed Word Bearers by punching their heads off.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: Subverted by Fulgrim, played straight by Sanguinius.
* {{Bishonen}}: Sanguinius and Fulgrim.
* TheBlackSmith: Vulkan. Ferrus Manus to a lesser extent.
* BlingOfWar: Standard battle dress for the Primarchs was solid gold power armour, ranging from Artificer to Terminator armour. Mortarion was actually notable for ''not'' have excessive bling.
* BlingBlingBang: The Primarchs' standard arms were master-crafted power and chain weapons. Ferrus Manus was notable for ''not'' having blinged-out weaponry.
* BigDamnHeroes: With regards to the Siege of Terra: Roboute Guilliman and the Ultramarines (the largest Legion, also ''seriously'' pissed off) were hours away; hot on their heels were the Dark Angels and Space Wolves. Unfortunately, the Emperor didn't know this. If he had, he wouldn't have needed to directly attack Horus, and could instead have waited for relief. And the rest is history...
* BigScrewedUpFamily: Lets just say it ended in tears.
* BodyguardingABadass: They had bodyguards of mere Space Marines. Lampshaded by Corax after he dissolves his honour guard during the Drop Site Massacre:
-->"That was for appearance. Do you think I actually ''need'' a bodyguard?"
* BrokenAce: The Primarchs were humanity's greatest heroes and leaders, but they had some issues. The Traitor Primarchs take it UpToEleven.
** None more so than Angron thanks to the Butcher's Nails.
* CainAndAbel: The Traitor Primarchs versus those who stayed loyal to the Emperor. Literally in several cases; Horus killed Sanguinius, Fulgrim killed Ferrus Manus and mortally wounded Roboute Guilliman. Guilliman may have killed Alpharius.
* CallingTheOldManOut: And ''how''!
* CaptainErsatz: Prior to their first meeting with the Emperor, you had Konrad Curze as a DarkerAndEdgier version of Franchise/{{Batman}}, Angron as a cyber-augmented Spartacus, and Jaghatai Khan as GenghisKhan.
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: All of the Primarchs found themselves on worlds where their skills allowed them to improve the lives of the fellows. Konrad Curze went insane from it.
* DeadGuyOnDisplay: Roboute Guilliman and Rogal Dorn.
* DealWithTheDevil:
** Mortarion.
** Also how Chaos claims they were made. [[VillainsNeverLie Not that Chaos is reliable.]]
** This is how Magnus essentially escaped the wrath of the Wolves.
* TheDutifulSon: Horus (pre-heresy), Rogal Dorn, Sangiunius, and Roboute Guilliman.
* EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette: Corvus Corax and Konrad Curze.
* EvilCounterpart: Horus to both Jaghatai Khan (both supremely talented but chafes at authority) and Sanguinius (the only other primarch who could have been Warmaster).
* EvilFormerFriend: Horus for Sanguinius, Fulgrim for Ferrus Manus.
* FangsAreEvil: Subverted with Sanguinius and Leman Russ. Possibly played straight with Konrad Curze.
* FatalFlaw:
** For the Traitor Primarchs:
*** Lorgar's need to be devoted to a higher power.
*** Night Haunter's need to enforce justice whatever means necessary.
*** Perturabo's obsession with getting glory for himself and his legion.
*** Alpharius' tendency to break the rules.
*** Angron's obsession with avenging his comrades.
*** Mortarion's lack of self-confidence which leads him to seek guidance from the wrong people.
*** Fulgrim's mistrust of the other primarchs.
*** Magnus' reckless use of Chaos magic resulting from arrogance.
*** Horus' pride.
** For the loyal Primarchs:
*** Leman Russ's need to be in service to another.
*** Roboute Guiliman's obsessive need for orthodoxy.
*** Lion El'Jonson's inability to read or relate to others.
* FieryRedHead: Leman Russ, Magnus the Red, and Angron.
* FiveBadBand: The traitor Primarchs.
** TheBigBad: Horus
** TheDragon: Fulgrim and Night Haunter seemed to share this role.
** TheBrute: Angron, Mortarion, Perturabo
** TheEvilGenius: Magnus the Red
** TheDarkChick: Lorgar
** TheSixthRanger: Alpharius
* FiveManBand: The loyalist Primarchs.
** TheHero: Evenly split between Sanguinius and Roboute Guilliman.
** TheLancer: Rogal Dorn.
** TheSmartGuy: Corvus Corax and Lion El'Jonson.
** TheBigGuy: Leman Russ, Ferrus Manus, and Jaghatai Khan.
** TheChick: Vulkan.
* HeroicBSOD:
** The downfall of Corvus Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard. After his chapter suffered terrible losses in the HorusHeresy, he turned to highly dangerous growth acceleration techniques to boost its numbers. This resulted in a nightmarish horde of misshapen monsters, most of which couldn't even hold a boltgun, and who had to be herded into battle. When the Heresy was over, Corax locked himself in his tower for a year and a day, finally emerging to personally give each one of his creations "[[MercyKill the Emperor's peace]]" before leaving for parts unknown, his last word being "[[EdgarAllanPoe Nevermore]]."
** Rogal Dorn after the Emperor died. He went from being the beloved son to an avenging angel dressed in black.
** Horus's BSOD was so epic, it ended up destroying the galaxy-wide empire he'd fought so hard to build in the first place.
* HumanoidAbomination: Not on the level of the Emperor, but the HorusHeresy shows unaugmented humans suffering {{Brown Note}}s upon seeing the Primarchs. It's described as sensory overload.
* {{Hypocrite}}:
** When Roboute Guilliman denounced Alpharius' tactics, he pointed to his legion's admittedly illustrious record to prove that he was right, essentially telling Alpharius that he would never be able to top that. Never mind the fact that this massive, illustrious record came, not from any kind of tactical doctrine, but rather from having a ''200 year headstart'' over Alpharius. Averted somewhat with Guilliman's point of view, he was [[PoorCommunicationKills trying]] to show Alpharuis the record ''after'' the battle; while Alpharius tactics were effective during battles they resulted in mass unrest compare to Guilliman's swift recovery and integration into the Imperuim.
** Angron loves to talk about how the Butcher's Nails ruined him only to use them on his own legion.
* InTheBlood: The ''Literature/HorusHeresy'' has established that each of the Primarchs represented an aspect of the Emperor's personality:
** Horus Lupercal represented his ambition.
** Roboute Guilliman represented his strategic genius and statesmanship.
** Rogal Dorn represented his determination.
** Vulkan represented his compassion for humanity.
** Angron represented his wrath.
** Lion El'Jonson represented his secretive nature.
** Lorgar Aurelian represented his ability to inspire.
** Magnus represented his psychic powers.
** Leman Russ represented his ruthlessness.
** Alpharius and Omegon represented his mysteriousness
** Corvus Corax represented his cleverness and tactical insight.
** Perturabo represented his scientific and technological brilliance.
** Mortarion represented his resilience.
** Fulgrim represented his drive for perfection.
** Konrad Curze represented his terrifying nature.
** Ferrus Manus represented his desire to make himself stronger.
** Jaghatai Khan represented his love of battle.
** Sanguinius represented all of him.
* TheJuggernaut: Angron and Leman Russ. You could not beat them, [[YouAreAlreadyDead nor could you outrun them]].
* KingInTheMountain:
** The Ultramarines have the poisoned body of Roboute Guilliman in stasis, and some members of the chapter insist that he is slowly healing himself and will someday reawaken.
** Some Dark Angels similarly believe that Lion El'Jonson is somewhere deep within their traveling asteroid base, The Rock. [[spoiler:He is, on life support.]]
** The Salamanders, Space Wolves, White Scars, Raven Guard ''and'' Imperial Fists' (according to some accounts) Primarchs left their chapters behind and disappeared into myth, many saying they would return for the final battle. [[spoiler:Someone who could be Leman Russ was spotted in unconfirmed reports during the thirteenth Black Crusade, leading the long lost Thirteenth Company.]]
** The Iron Hands have stories about Ferrus Manus returning, although his head was cut off and presented to Horus.
** The only one who is explicitly stated to not have any legends of returning is Sanguinius, but there are some theories about who exactly the Sanguinor is, and several Blood Angels have claimed to be Sanguinius reborn, which got ugly quickly.
* LargeAndInCharge: The Primarchs were quite large. Fulgrim wearing nothing but a robe is remarked to be a head taller than his own First Captain in Terminator Armour. Even Alpharius and Omegon, the smallest of the Primarchs, were a head taller than the average Space Marine. Magnus was an absolute ''giant''.
** To give a sense of scale, the average Space Marine stands a little above 2.1 meters (7 feet) tall. Lion El'Jonson, unarmored, is said to be a little over three meters tall. Magnus? Stands a full 5 meters, almost two meters taller than the Lion, and three taller than a Space Marine!
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Magnus the Red uses sorcery to try to warn the Emperor of Horus' rebellion. The Emperor, angry at Magnus both for using sorcery and for making such an accusation at his favorite Primarch, orders Leman Russ to go arrest him. Cue an entire Space Marine legion turning to Chaos.
* OrcusOnHisThrone - Of the surviving Traitor Primarchs, only Angron of the World Eaters has actually left his Daemon World to wage war on the Imperium. Magnus joined the Thousand Sons on Fenris for a full-scale assault on the Space Wolves, but that ended with the Sons being routed and Magnus defeated in hand-to-hand combat.
* ParentalIssues: A possible [[FreudianExcuse explanation]] for some of the Primarch's falls from grace. All were [[ParentalAbandonment scattered by the Chaos gods across the galaxy as infants]], leaving some of them to [[RaisedByWolves effectively raise themselves]]. Horus was the first Primarch recovered and always [[ParentalFavoritism his favorite]], and some of the later Primarchs barely spent any time with their father at all, especially the last one to be found, [[TheUnfavorite Alpharius of the Alpha Legion]].
* ThePatriarch: Many Space Marines see their Primarchs this way, and the Emperor as that to their Primarchs. Given that all Space Marines are implanted with geneseeds descended from their Primarchs, and the Primarchs themselves were engineered with genes from the Emperor, this is almost ''literally'' the case. They have many rituals revering both Primarch and Emperor, resembling almost a form of filial piety and ancestor-worship, compared to the more distant and divine worship common to the rest of the Imperium.
* ThePerfectionist: Ferrus Manus and Fulgrim. They became friends in what was basically a perfectionism fight - who could craft the best weapon. Manus made a sword, Fulgrim made a hammer. They both inspected each other's works; neither could find a flaw, and they traded. Cue bifflehood. During a duel aboard Ferrus Manus's ship when he refused Fulgrim's offer of joining Chaos, the weapons were traded back (the sword was broken and discarded, and Fulgrim stole the hammer). At the battle of Istvaan, where Fulgrim is on the verge of accepting his new demonic nature, he and Manus go down in a duel to the death using the weapons they made.
* PsychicPowers:
** Magnus was the second most powerful psyker in human history, surpassed only by the Emperor.
** Sanguinius, Leman Russ, Konrad Curze, Lorgar, Lion el'Jonson, and most if not all of the rest of the Primarchs had at least rudimentary psychic abilities, mostly manifesting in prophetic visions of the future.
* PunnyName: [[ Lion El'Jonson]], [[{{Wrath}} Angron]], [[AltumVidetur Ferrus Manus]].
* PutOnABus: Many of the loyalist Primarchs are either dead, disappeared, or in a KingInTheMountain situation.
* RaisedByNatives: Most of the Primarchs.
* RaisedByWolves: Lion El'Jonnson, Konrad Cruze, and Leman Russ (quite literally). Well, after he crawled out of the volcano he made planetfall in...
* RebelLeader: Angron, Corvus Corax, and Mortarion.
* ReligiousBruiser: Lorgar, with terrible consequences. Also, in a shamanistic variant, Leman Russ.
* TheResenter:
** Perturabo towards Rogal Dorn.
** Horus suspected that Roboute Guilliman and Lion El'Jonnson resented not being chosen as Warmaster.
* RousingSpeech:
** Upon being introduced to his Legion and seeing that there were only two hundred Marines who had survived the augmentations, Fulgrim gave such a rousing speech that the Emperor was so moved that he renamed them the Emperor's Children.
** Lorgar was able to give such inspiring speeches that he could turn whole worlds to the Imperial cause.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: Since they're considered the Emperor's sons, they're technically royalty. Ultimately subverted however, in that he never intended them to rule the Imperium, fearing that such a trend would lead to humanity instead being ruled by a genetically enhanced ruling class (ironic, considering that the Emperor was barely human himself) instead of by its own. Forcing them to be beholden to their inferiors who did nothing to help establish the Imperium also helped contribute to the HorusHeresy.
* SiblingRivalry: Present and accounted for.
* TheStrategist: Horus, Roboute Guilliman, Rogal Dorn, and Perturabo. Some lore has stated that Corax was a better tactician than ''Horus'', and that many of Horus' most acclaimed victories were actually Horus taking credit for Corax's work.
* SuperPrototype: To the Space Marines.
* TrainingThePeacefulVillagers: Mortarion and Vulkan.
** Perturabo.
* VitriolicBestBuds: Leman Russ and Lion El'Jonson.
* WarriorPoet: Magnus the Red and Lorgar. Lorgar in particular leaned so heavily on the side of the poet that he detested being a warrior, and many of his brothers did not consider him one. Magnus on the other hand was proud to consider himself a warrior, and thought it was his duty as a general to acquire the knowledge of annexed or destroyed civilizations, in the hopes of bringing enlightenment to humanity, mostly in the form of mastery of the Warp.
* WarriorPrince: By the time the Emperor found the Primarchs, most of them had united their homeworlds or overthrown its corrupt rulers.
* WeaponOfChoice: All of the Primarchs had unique and powerful weapons. Notable ones include:
** AnAxeToGrind: Angron had a matched pair, Gorefather and Gorechild. Magnus is also frequently depicted with one despite canonically preferring sorcery.
** BladeOnAStick: Sanguinius' Spear of Telesto. Leman Russ was known to use one, simply called the Spear of Russ. The Soul Drinkers believe Rogal Dorn used one called the Soulspear.
** CarryABigStick: Lorgar's Illuminarium, described as a badge of office more than a weapon but still very lethal.
** DropTheHammer: Thunder Hammers were popular. Ferrus Manus's was called Forgebreaker. Vulkan, being a master smith and craftsman, had several, one called Thunderhead and another called Dawnbreaker. Perturabo also had one. Horus also had a Power Maul called Worldbreaker.
** HeroesPreferSwords: Lion El'Jonson had one called the Lion Sword, Leman Russ named his Mjalnar, Rogal Dorn had a Chainsword which he shattered after the Siege of Terra; part of it was used to make the Sword of the High Marshals, and his second sword was the Sword of Sebastus. Fulgrim had one called Fireblade. Alpharius, Sanguinius, and Jaghatai Khan were also known to use swords.
** WolverineClaws: Corax favored a pair of lightning claws called the Raven's Talons. Konrad Curze also had a set, and Horus used a single one called the Talon of Horus.
* WindowsOfTheSoul: No one could hold the gaze of a Primarch for long except for the Emperor, another Primarch, the Eldar, or [[EldritchAbomination daemons]], as the intensity in their eyes was so great that even ''Space Marines'' looked away.

!!Lion El'Johnson, Primarch of The Dark Angels.
* TheRival: To Leman Russ.

!!Fulgrim, Primarch of The Emperor's Children.
* ArtifactOfDoom: One of these is what did Fulgrim in.
* {{Bishonen}}
* EvilIsSexy
* EvilMakesYouMonstrous: Let's just say that he lost a couple of fangirls after becomming a Daemon Prince.
* LongHairedPrettyBoy
* SnakePeople: Became a rather hideous one after becomming a Daemon Prince
* UnwittingPawn: Poor Fulgrim had no idea what Slaanesh had planned for him in the end.
* WhiteHairBlackHeart: Fulgrim ended up falling to Chaos.

!!Perturabo, Primarch of The Iron Warriors.
* TheEngineer

!!Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of The White Scars.
* BadassBiker
* BadassMoustache: Of epic Mongol proprtions.

!!Leman Russ, Primarch of The Space Wolves. [[quoteright:237:]]

* BladeOnAStick: The Spear of Russ
* BoisterousBruiser
* CanisMajor: He was raised by these as a child. His army later started to use these in battle.
* CurbStompBattle: Leman Russ earned such a brutal reputation during the Great Crusade that the Space Wolves were nicknamed "the Rout".
** Leman himself was on the receiving end of one at the hands of Angron in a duel.
* DeathWorld: His home of Fenris.
* HeroesPreferSwords: Mjalnar.
* HornyVikings: Leads an entire army of these guys.
* MyMasterRightOrWrong: He doesn't care if he is ordered to kill an entire chapter of Space Marines, even if they are led by his own brothers. If the Emperor says it, he will do it without question.
* UndyingLoyalty: Even after ten thousand years of the Emperor being stuck on the Golden Throne, he still travels the galaxy in an attempt to find anything that can cure his father.
* WildChild: He was one of these when the people of Fenris found him.

!!Rogal Dorn, Primarch of The Imperial Fists.
* BadassMustache: Maybe. [[FlipFlopOfGod GW can't seem to make up their minds if he has one or not.]]
* CannotTellALie: Rogal Dorn would not lie under any circumstances, even if it helped his cause. This really pissed off Perturabo.

!!Konrad Kurze, aka The Night Haunter, Primarch of The Night Lords.
* TheCape: He's pretty much an evil Batman in space.
* [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone By The Emperor, What Have I Done?]]: Once he realized that he had gone a bit too far off the deep end, he allowed an assassin from the Inquisition to kill him.
* FangsAreEvil
* HeWhoFightsMonsters
* VigilanteMan: Taken to its logical and horrific extreme.

!!Sanguinius, Primarch of The Blood Angels. [[quoteright:250:]]
[[caption-width-right:250:Just another day for The Pure One.]]
* AngelicBeauty: He is said to be rather attarctive.
* {{Badass}}: Don't let his looks fool you. He was awesome enough to fight Horus evenly, even when his heretical brother had been blessed by the Gods of Chaos themselves.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness
* {{Bishonen}}
* CainAndAbel: It's hammered in pretty well that Horus was the Cain to his Abel.
* HairOfGoldHeartOfGold
* HeroicSacrifice: Though he died in battle against Horus during the [[HorusHeresy Heresy]], he managed to damage his armor enough for the Emperor to exploit this weakness during the final battle.
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: He's called The Pure One for a reason.
* MessianicArchetype: played surprisingly straight.
* OurAngelsAreDifferent: Well, for starters, he's probably the most badass one out there.
* RedBaron: [[CaptainObvious The Great Angel]], Lord of angels, The Pure One and All-Beloved.
* WingedHumanoid

!!Ferrus Mannus, Primarch of The Iron Hands.
* BareFistedMonk: Ferrus Manus was known to use his titular iron hands as lethal weapons in their own right. He preferred his hammer, though.
* FleshVersusSteel: Ironically, Ferrus Manus is on the former's side, reasoning that while the cybernetics do make the marines stronger, it also weakens their willpower. He planned to abolish the practice of cybernization after the Great Crusade was finished, but then Fulgrim cut his head off.
* OffWithHisHead: Suffered this fate at the hands of Fulgrim.

!!Angron, Primarch of The World Eaters. [[quoteright:250:]]
[[caption-width-right:250:And this was BEFORE he got his power armor and demonic powers!]]
* TheBerserker: One of the many reasons how he became the Daemon Primarch of Khorne.
* BigRedDevil: Became one of these after falling to Chaos.
* BrilliantButLazy: While he was possibly the greatest warrior amongst the company of the Primarchs, Angron also showed himself in ''Betrayer'' to be a gifted philosopher and debater when arguing the Emperor's immorality. Unfortunately, due to the Butcher's Nails essentially ripping his brain apart with killing urges and preventing him from even ''sleeping'', he can't really capitalize on any of his talents not directly related to killing. The fact that he ''is'', however, easily one of the best warriors out of a group of actual gods does speak for itself of his power.
* TheDreaded: Even Leman Russ knew not to get on his bad side. And he only got worse after falling to Chaos.
* GladiatorRevolt - Angron's backstory has him leading one, and he was found by the Emperor the day they were going to make their LastStand. Instead of joining his father, Angron decided to fight and die with his comrades. The Emperor departed... then teleported Angron away right as they were about to be slaughtered. [[{{Understatement}} Angron had issues with that.]]
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: The man destroyed entire planetary sectors when he left the Warp in order to kick the crap out of the Imperium of Man, still wanting his revenge against them.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: Besides Magnus, he's one of the few traitor Primarchs who actually goes outside of the Warp in order to kick some major ass. In the words of 1d4chan: "He Gets Shit Done!"
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Gave a brutal one to Guiliman:
--> "What would you know of struggle, Perfect Son? When have you fought against the mutilation of your mind? When have you had to do anything more than tally compliances and polish your armour?" [...] "The people of your world named you Great One. The people of mine called me Slave. Which one of us landed on a paradise of civilization to be raised by a foster father, Roboute? Which one of us was given armies to lead after training in the halls of the Macraggian high-riders? Which one of us inherited a strong, cultured kingdom? And which one of us had to rise up against a kingdom with nothing but a horde of starving slaves? Which one of us was a child enslaved on a world of monsters, with his brain cut up by carving knives? Listen to your blue-clad wretches yelling of courage and honour, courage and honour, courage and honour. Do you even know the meaning of those words? Courage is fighting the kingdom which enslaves you, no matter that their armies outnumber yours by ten-thousand to one. You know nothing of courage. Honour is resisting a tyrant when all others suckle and grow fat on the hypocrisy he feeds them. You know nothing of honour."
* UnstoppableRage: To give you an idea of how batshit furious this guy was, put this into perspective: Kharn The Betrayer, aka the guy who single-handedly destroyed two entire legions of chaos marines by himself just because they refused to fight for a few hours, was considered to be his [[RedOniBlueOni Blue Oni]] in comparision.

!!Roboute Guiliman, Primarch of The Ultramarines.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Roboute Guilliman was an ass but he actually cared about the people and believed that anyone can rise to greatness through merit regardless of class. His efforts led the Ultramarines' mini-empire to becoming one of the least corrupt (and nicest) places to live in the Imperium.
* PowerFist: The Gauntlets of Ultramar.

!!Mortarion, Primarch of The Death Guard.
* TheGrimReaper: He sure loves this look.
* SinisterScythe: Mortarion's weapon of choice, a Manreaper called Silence.

!!Magnus The Red, Primarch of The Thousand Sons.
* TheCassandra: Magnus' visions were almost never wrong, and almost never believed. If the HorusHeresy books are anything to go by, the galaxy could have avoided a great deal of trouble if the Emperor and other Primarchs had heeded Magnus' advice more often.
* TheRival: To Leman Russ.

!!Horus, Primarch of The Black Legion
* BigBad: Of the traitor Primarchs.
* KilledOffForReal: Horus is dead in every way possible. When the Emperor finally stopped holding back (and perhaps by exploiting a small crack in Horus' armour as a result of Sanguinius' HeroicSacrifice depending on which rendition you read) Horus started to hold back to savour his victory, he didn't just kill Horus; he destroyed his mind and soul, preventing the Chaos Gods from ever resurrecting him. The Emperor's Children reclaimed his body and Fabius Bile tried to clone him, but Abaddon destroyed the clone and Horus's body.
* TheParagon: Horus was held to be the Paragon by the other Primarchs, but Horus actually believed that the real Paragon was Sanguinius.
** TheParagonAlwaysRebels
* SatanicArchetype: Horus was the favorite son of the God Emperor who rebelled against him and took one third of the space marines with him. Sound Familiar?
* SelfFulfillingProphecy -- Horus rebelled against the Emperor because he had a vision of a dystopic future where the Emperor is venerated as a god. His rebellion resulted exactly in that.

!!Lorgar, Primarch of The World Bearers.
* BadassPreacher
* CarryABigStick: Lorgar's crozius.
* CrisisOfFaith: Lorgar has such a massive one following the Emperor's rebuke of his worship that he started worshiping the Chaos Gods. It should be noted that he was ''not'' the first Astartes to worship the Chaos Gods. That was Kor Phaeron and Erebus, who actually convinced ''him'' after suffering the same Crisis themselves.
* PsychoticManchild: As another Primarch explains:
-->'''Roboute Guilliman''': He is so... changeable. He is so prone to extremes. Eager to please, so quick to take offence. He's so keen to be your best friend, and then, at the slightest hint of an insult, he's angry with you. Furious. Offended. Like a child.

!!Vulkan, Primarch of The Salamanders.
* GentleGiant: He's probably the nicest guy out of all the Primarchs.
* ScaryBlackMan: At least when Dark Eldar are involved.
* [[ScrewYouElves Screw You, Dark Eldar!]]: He fought back an entire planetary invasion army of these guys with nothing but a pair of blacksmith hammers. And this was BEFORE he even knew that he was a Primarch!
* UltimateBlacksmith: The weapons/relics that he created are amongst the most powerful and sought after that the Imperium has ever had.

!!Corvus Corax, Primarch of The Raven Guard.
* DarkIsNotEvil
* ExtremityExtremist: Corax one-upped the usual version of this trope and bladed the feathery wings attached to his jetpack to lethal effect.
* TheQuietOne: Yeah, he doesn't say much.
* WeaponizedExhaust: Corax was known to use his jetpack's exhaust this way.

!!Alpharious/Omegon, Primarch(s?) of The Alpha Legion.
* TheUnfavorite: Alpharius, not that it actually bothered him any; especially when personally trained under Horus' wing.

!!Primarchs II and XI, The erased Primarchs.
* UnPerson: The primarchs of the II and XI legions were at some point completely expunged from Imperium record, and the reasons why are completely unknown. They are alluded to a couple of times in the HorusHeresy books, but whenever they are the person who brought them up is very quickly reminded not to talk about it.

See the [[Characters/BlackLegion Black Legion character page]] for Horus, the [[Characters/BloodAngels Blood Angels character page]] for Sanguinius, the [[Characters/DarkAngels Dark Angels character page]] for Lion El'Jonson, the [[Characters/ImperialFists Imperial Fists character page]] for Rogal Dorn, the [[Characters/IronWarriors Iron Warriors character page]] for Perturabo, the [[Characters/NightLords Night Lords character page]] for Konrad Curze, the [[Characters/{{Salamanders}} Salamanders character page]] for Vulkan, the [[Characters/SpaceWolf Space Wolf character page]] for Leman Russ, the [[Characters/{{Ultramarines}} Ultramarines character page]] for Roboute Guilliman, and the [[Characters/WordBearers Word Bearers character page]] for Lorgar.

[[folder:Malcador the Sigillite]]
[[caption-width-right:300: Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown]]

Serving the Emperor at the civilian level was Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra and first Master of the Adminstratum, Grand Master of Assassins, and First Lord of the Council of Terra. Affecting the simple robes of a regular Terran Administrator, Malcador was the Emperor's right hand man. While the Emperor managed the military and technological innovation that made the Imperium, Malcador crafted the bureaucracy that would one day be the Adeptus Terra. A powerful psyker, Malcador was also the founder of the Inquisition and the Grey Knights. During the Siege of Terra, Malcador took the Emperor's place on the Golden Throne, but the strain of the effort wore him out, causing him to turn to dust as soon as he was disconnected.

Malcador was first mentioned in early background materials, but has become a major character in the HorusHeresy series, appearing across multiple books.

!!Notable tropes:

* AlmightyJanitor: Even after becoming the Emperor's right-hand confidant, he still wears the simple robes of a Terran Administrator.
* BadassBureaucrat: He may be the founder of the Administratum, but he himself worked to get things moving along well enough.
* TheChessmaster: Malcador plots on a level that would make [[Literature/{{Discworld}} Lord Vetinari]] jealous.
* CoolOldGuy
* CollectorOfTheStrange: His most treasured possessions are the ''Mona Lisa'' and ''Sunflowers''.
* FirstNameBasis: With the Primarchs. Both Space Marines and regular Adepts are somewhat surprised by the informality between them.
* TheGoodChancellor: Read the Horus Heresy books and you learn that he had his shit down.
* HeroicSacrifice: Taking up the reins of the Golden Throne, which allowed the Emperor to go and confront Horus, but ultimately killed him. Even then, he still kept a small sliver of psychic strength and gave it to the Emperor, allowing him to speak again before permanently falling silent.
* InTheHood: A non-villainous example.
* TheMagnificent: The Sigillite ("bearer of the seal"), and after taking on the Golden Throne, the Emperor decreed he would be known as Malcador the Hero.
* NoBodyLeftBehind: Turned to dust after being disconnected from the Golden Throne.
* NumberTwo: To the Emperor.
* OldRetainer: He had been the Emperor's chief assistant and only confidant for centuries when the Great Crusade began.
* OurFounder: To the Administratum, the Officio Assassinorum, and the Inquisition. Considering that these three organizations have been keeping humanity in a repressive hell hole for ten thousand years, it may be an example of NiceJobBreakingItHero.
* PsychicPowers: One of the most powerful psykers of his time, but nowhere near the level of the Emperor or Magnus.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: He did a pretty fine keeping the Imperium in working order.
* StaffOfAuthority: And it's [[IncendiaryExponent on fire]]. Why? [[RuleOfCool It looks cool]].