Poor Communication Kills: Having a Bene Gesserit for a lover isn't much use when you think she's a spy. The Harkonnens expertly manipulated everybody into not talking to the Duke. He in turn is trying to draw the enemy out, but it only makes matters worse.
Real Men Hate Affection: Adding to Leto's problems, Jessica is chafing under his frosty persona. Leto desperately wants to be affectionate with her, but it would be political suicide. She's not a Duchess, just a concubine.
Taking You with Me: He attempted to kill Baron Harkonnen using a poison gas in one of his molars that would take out everyone in the room, including himself. Unfortunately he doesn't quite get the clean sweep, and that's as bad as not trying.
Trap Is the Only Option: Though outwardly a gift to House Atreides, Leto fully realizes that Arrakis is a trap. The Emperor feels threatened by Leto's popularity, and conspires to crush him.
Abusive Parents: Reverend Mother Mohiam was a mother figure to Jessica during her childhood and was secretly her biological mother. However, Mohiam speaks cruelly to Jessica, and when Paul protests, Mohiam states that she used Jessica as her servant during childhood. It's implied that she's treated Jessica with a mixture of love and cruelty all her life.
Mama Bear: She is quite protective of Paul, and will do anything to protect him.
Mind Manipulation: Used rarely, primarily in self-defense or in a demonstration of her secret powers when such is necessary.
Minored in Asskicking: She may major in political manipulation, but she can take down any Fremen— who are the guys that easily beat up the Sardaukar. In fact she's so good that when he first meets her, Stilgar is worried that in the Fremen's Asskicking Equals Authority society, she may choose to become the leader.
Blessed with Suck: While at first, he seems like a near-perfect hero destined for great and noble deeds, his ultimate fate is as inglorious and miserable as it gets.
Break the Cutie: He's introduced as a precociously intelligent fifteen year old with loving parents and devoted mentors. He is then psychologically tortured, uprooted from his home, narrowly survives an assasaination attempt, sees everyone he knows massacred (except his mother) and is forced to fight a grown man to the death. This is the first half of the first book. Things do not get better.
Came Back Strong: He almost dies when he drinks the Water of Life, and when he wakes up he is the Kwisatz Haderach.
Generation Xerox: Paul ends up keeping Chani on as his "concubine", precisely as his father did.
Going Native: After the fall of the house of Atreides, he and Jessica find refuge among the Fremen and quickly assimilate into their culture.
Gone Horribly Right: The Bene Gesserit wanted a man with the perfect genes, so they could control the course of human history through him. Instead, they ended up unleashing a massive uncontrollable wave of religious hysteria across the galaxy, changing human civilization forever.
Stop Worshipping Me: Since the events portrayed in Dune Messiah, he laments that the strong and independent people he had come to love as his own have become swept up in the religious fervor of the Jihad.
You Can't Fight Fate: And he can sense it constantly. Paul makes several attempts to avert the Jihad; thanks to his efforts, he can say with satisfaction that the fremen 'only' killed sixty billion people.
Orwellian Editor: Being a Kwisatz Haderach, has full access to his masculine and feminine genetic memory which stretches from about the year 100,000 back the beginning of human awareness. What does he do with it? He has historians burned alive for misconstruing the facts that he has personal access to. Of course, this was partly mystique-building, as he secretly rendered them unconscious first.
Silent Scapegoat: Even the Bene Gesserit, thousands of years after Leto sacrifices himself, don't realize just what it was he was trying to accomplish.
Sorcerer King: See his father's entry. How "good" they are is debatable, considering how many billions died during the jihads of Paul's Fremen and how Leto played tyrant in order to get people to leave the stagnant core worlds and scatter throughout the universe. They have the ability of prescience and conscious control over their bodies to an improbable level. And of course Leto II merged with a sandworm and became the Trope Namer for God Emperor.
Love Makes You Crazy: He betrays a man he genuinely admires to one he utterly despises. And what's more, he knows that Baron Harkonnen has all but certainly murdered his wife. However, see The Power of Love below...
The Medic: In addition to the usual trappings of the trope, he has undergone conditioning designed to make it impossible for him to harm others.
The Mole: The in-universe equivalent to Judas Iscariot. He doesn't relish the prospect of being remembered as a notorious traitor.
The Power of Love: A very dark example. In the Duniverse, doctors of the Suk School undergo mental conditioning so they really can do no harm, but Yueh's feelings for his wife were so strong it allowed him to overcome it. It's left open whether this is really due to love or the fact that his wife was a Bene Gesserit and the whammy that they habitually put on everybody the come in contact with was just stronger than the one he got from the Suk School.
Taking You with Me: Yueh is unsure of whether his wife is alive, but plans to take out the Baron in either case.
"Ahhhh, Gurney! He could kill you while singing and never miss a note."
Another Atreides retainer, he serves as the House's swordmaster, responsible for managing the household's defenses. He dies in the first book, only to be reincarnated over and over again in later books.
Ascended Extra: He appears more than any of the main characters of the entire series.
Asshole Victim: He's an angry, domineering man who wants to kill Paul for being an outsider. When Paul kills him in ritual combat, his widow Harah is indifferent and his sons are delighted to have Paul as their new father, suggesting that he wasn't a kind father or husband.
Due to the Dead: Even though all evidence suggests that Jamis is a rotten human being, his fellow Fremen respectfully mourn his death.
Hair-Trigger Temper: He's an angry man who's enraged at the idea of Paul and Jessica joining his sietch. When Stilgar tries to reason with him, it just makes him angrier.
Karmic Death: Jamis has a history of killing men he didn't like. He challenges Paul to a duel, but dies at Paul's hands.
Years before, Jamis challenges a man to a duel specifically so that he could kill him and take his wife. Jamis himself is killed in a duel, and his wife and sons inherited by another man.
You Kill It, You Bought It: In duels between two Fremen men, the winner inherits the loser's family. Jamis exploits this tradition by killing Harah's first husband so that he can have Harah for himself. Paul later inherits responsibility for Harah and her sons when he kills Jamis.
Bad Boss: His subordinates survive just so long as they're useful to him and not a second longer. As well, he's a big fan of You Have Failed Me and He Knows Too Much. Even his own family isn't exempt, as Rabban might have discovered if thing had gone more to the Baron's intentions. Just about the only one who is relatively safe from him is his nephew Feyd-Rautha, who the Baron is grooming to succeed him and who he doesn't want to throw away unless absolutely necessary.
Big Screwed-Up Family: His raising Count Rabban and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen as his own led to them being severely dysfunctional.
Best Served Cold: Seeks to avenge House Harkonnen's uprooting from Arrakis. The real source of his animosity stems from a Hatfield-McCoy feud with House Atreides.
Big Bad Duumvirate: With Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, who supplies him with an entire legion of elite troops as well as warships.
Bigger Bad: During Children of Dune he's using and influencing Alia even though he's dead, thanks to her Genetic Memory.
Cain and Abel: Despised his brother Abulurd's "bleeding heart" nature. He also had him murdered and then took custody of his nephews.
Depraved Homosexual: He has slave boys delivered to his quarters, and the Dune Encyclopedia, though not canonical, hints that his attractions may extend to Feyd-Rautha. There are hints of it in the David Lynch film as well. He certainly had designs on Paul, but gave them up when he realized how lethally dangerous the boy was.
Even Evil Has Standards: Would have preferred to torture Leto in private, one nobleman to another. For one, it sets a bad precedent for the next ruler of Arrakis. Also, if word got back to the other Houses that the Imperium is involved, everyone would be terrified the Emperor's coming for them next. However, the Baron quickly loses his patience when Leto doesn't bend.
Evil Is Petty: The Baron prides himself on not "wasting" good men — but he'll murder you over a trifling offense.
Evil Uncle: Rabban and Feyd don't take after their dad, obviously.
Fat Bastard: Is so overweight he needs antigravity support to move.
Faux Affably Evil: He seems like a jolly man, with his mannerisms and constant use of endearments... but he's actually a diabolic power-hungry schemer.
Foe Yay:invoked Arranging for a Paul lookalike to be drugged up and sent to his bedchamber.
Genghis Gambit: Intends to use his nephew Rabban as the fall-guy in one of these, but it doesn't work out, due to the Fremen uniting behind Paul Atreides instead. In the film version, it only succeeds in drawing the attention of the Emperor who demands to know why the Baron has made such a hash of things on Arrakis, threatening the flow of spice to the entire known universe.
Large Ham: In every sense of the word. In the film, this includes flying around the room laughing maniacally after outlining his scheme to his nephews.
Luke, You Are My Father: One of his cast-off concubines (there are hints it's Reverend Mother Mohiam; this is hinted at in the David Lynch film and confirmed in the prequels) gave birth to Jessica, making him Paul's grandfather. Which he didn't know until right before his death at Alia's hands.
Obfuscating Stupidity / Stupid Evil: When Feyd-Rautha's assassination attempt fails, Vladimir orders the deaths of the slavemaster and two nearby guards for seemingly pointless reasons; the slavemaster just lost to Feyd at Chess, and the guards were not carrying a corpse with enough dignity. What he did not say out loud was that he was killing off Feyd's co-conspirators under the guise of Evil Is Petty.
The Social Darwinist: His soliloquy about rabbits, and how fear and power are the tools of statecraft, mark him as this.
The Sociopath: He's devoid of any moral compass and values no life. His cruelty and depravity demonstrate his lack of moral concern for others.
Villainous Incest: He actually ogles his nephew, Feyd. To say nothing of his attraction to Paul.
We Have Reserves: His reaction to Leto's final attack is to close the door on his own men, leaving them to die from poison gas. (In the miniseries, he simply flies away from the range of the gas.) His immediate reaction was joy that they had died and he survived. He also casually kills off Leto's troops rather than recruit them, but then again, they were hardly likely to serve him.
Piter de Vries
Ambiguously Gay: Very effete and Baron Harkonnen repeatedly insinuates that he's not really attracted to Jessica and only desires her as a status symbol.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: He intended to do this, but the Baron convinced him that raping Jessica was a really stupid idea (more exactly, he was offered Jessica and exile— in case she turned or killed him— or Arrakis, and his love of power won).
Badass Normal: Holds his own against the Kwisatz Haderach. Questionable how normal he is though. He's had the same intense level of combat training that Paul has, with added lessons in how to fight dirty in a nominally "clean" contest.
Bastard Understudy: The Baron is grooming him to be the next ruler of Arrakis, and perhaps even Emperor.
Count Fenring laments that Feyd was raised the way he was; if he hadn't, Feyd could have turned out like Paul. He is of course, Paul's first cousin
Feyd is also the remaining male from the Bene Gesserit genetic selection line (discounting the renegade Paul), making him their last hope (except for Feyd's bastard daughter). Furthermore, he was most likely supposed to be one of the parents of the Kwisatz Haderach, with Jessica and Leto's child being the other.
Let's Dance: The duel opens with Feyd complimenting Paul's "dancing."
Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: "On his seventeenth birthday, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen killed his one hundredth slave-gladiator." That's because each of those slaves was drugged or programmed to respond to Safe Words. And of course, his weapons are all poisoned. This time he faces one of Leto's elite troopers, and he very nearly winds up dead despite the deck being stacked in his favour.
The Sociopath: Much like his uncle. Feyd has no moral compass and no qualms about senseless killing.
Smart People Play Chess: The Baron gingerly broaches the topic of the latest attempt on his life (by Feyd) by pointing out the Pyramid Chess set in his room.
The Starscream: The Baron is aware of Feyd's continual attempts to kill him, and forces Feyd to kill his sex slaves one-by-one and by hand to curb his ambition (after filling his head with promises of the imperial throne).
Villain with Good Publicity: The Baron notes "He could walk unarmed and unshielded through the poorest quarters." Its another parallel with Paul.
The Cassandra: He warns his uncle that the Fremen deserve attention and encourages him to undertake a Fremen census on Arrakis, but the Baron refuses to listen.
Genghis Gambit: His uncle sets him up as the fall-guy in one of these, ordering him to squeeze Arrakis dry (well, metaphorically speaking) and crush all resistance, while intending to dispatch his other nephew Feyd to kill and replace him as a far more benevolent ruler.
Know When to Fold 'Em: In the miniseries, when he was attacking the Harkonnen city (presumably on the Baron's orders), he is encountered by the citizens who were present. When he realizes that he's not only outnumbered, but he's going to suffer immediate death as a result and not capture, his reaction is to drop his weapon and scream to the heavens, not doing even one thing to delay his death. His death is not described in the books.
The Baron is convinced that he's a dolt. However, Rabban was regent of Arrakis for years and learned a thing or two — namely, don't mess with the Fremen.
In the first novel, he suggested to the Baron that they perform a count of the Fremen on Arrakis, which the Baron immediately rejects. If the Baron had listened to his nephew, he might have been better prepared to fight the Fremen later.
And Rabban does get in a very astute question to the Baron regarding the Baron's subversion of Yueh, which causes the Baron to at least wonder how smart Rabban really is.
The Exile: After abdicating the throne to Paul, Shaddam is banished to the Sardaukar prison planet.
Friendly Enemy: In secret, Shaddam admires his cousin Leto, and had once mentioned to Irulan that he had wished the political climate that necessitated wiping out the Atreides did not exist. As it stands, the Emperor orders Leto's death simply for having a more powerful army than him.
Laser-Guided Karma: The Emperor boots Leto out of Caladan, only for his heir to return and unseat him from the throne.
Puppet King: Although Shaddam has some power he's ultimately at the mercy of The Guild. Meanwhile the Bene Gesserit has ensured all of his legitimate children are daughters and the Emeperor can't do anything about it.
Properly Paranoid: He suspects the Harkonnens of moving against him... which is actually the case. In fact, the Baron anticipated Corrino's wrath and planned to unify the Houses against him.
The Social Darwinist: The Emperor is known for his open contempt of "weakness". When the Sardaukar find Leto's body, the Baron flies into a panic— not because he killed Leto, but because he botched the job. Word of the poison gas will get back to the Emperor, who will make life difficult for him.
Count Hasimir Fenring
A counselor and friend of Emperor Shaddam; also an assassin. Was one of the Bene Gesserit's recent failures.
Badass: Implied. After the Emperor sees Paul fight he concludes that Fenring would be able to take him easily even if he wasn't exhausted.
Verbal Tic: "Hmmmm." It actually serves as a form of cipher which only him and his wife can understand.
One of the emperor's daughters and known to have had some Bene Gesserit training, though due to being of royal blood she never reached whatever potential she may have had due to some sense of entitlement and haughtiness she could never quite remove sufficiently. She's known to have 'literary aspirations' and provides many of the chapter quotes in the form of biographies written after the fact.
The Chewtoy: Her life after the end of the first book is essentially a constant chain of being abused, manipulated, insulted and discarded. Only one person ever shows any explicit concern for her as a person, and then only when she considers killing Irulan if she gets in her way.
Encyclopedia Exposita: Quotations from her commentaries are used as the headings for each chapter from Dune onwards.
Fallen Princess: She's beautiful, dutiful, intelligent and talented. She was being groomed to be the wife of the Bene Gesserit Totality, but when she finally achieves that Paul relegates her to a wife in name only role and almost completely ignores her whenever possible. Further, any power she has is token and only afforded to her because it would be politically impossible to strip her of all power.
Hazy Feel Turn: At the end of the second book she switches into the Atreides camp after Paul walks into the desert to die and she only then realizes she actually loved him.
Parental Substitute: She never has children of her own with her husband but after he "dies" she leaves the sisterhood in order to raise his children as though they were her own.
Sexless Marriage: At the end of the Dune Paul marries her to gain the throne, but tells Chani she will not have a hint of warmth from him. Chani remains his true wife in all but name and Jessica assures her that that is exactly how history books will record her.
Spoiled Brat: The fundamental reason that she remained a mere Bene Gesserit sister rather than a full Reverend Mother or even just a particularly talented pawn was that thanks to her upbringing as a princess she never learned to make full use of the training provided to her.
Stockholm Syndrome: She would be perfectly loyal to Paul is he would just grant her the right to bear his heir. After the second book ends she realizes she had fallen in love with him and betrays the Bene Gesserit to become the mother of the twins.
The private army of the Padishah Emperor.
Always Someone Better: The Sardaukar are so good because they are trained on the Death World of Salusa Secundus. Leto (and Paul) correctly figure out that Arrakis is an even worse Death World and so its inhabitants, the Fremen, will be able to beat the Sardaukar.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Shaddam Corrino IV sends two full legions of Sardaukar in the guise of Harkonnen soldiers to bolster their assault on the Atreides after Yueh's bertayal. The Atreides pick up on this almost immediately, recognizing the incredibly distinct and vicious fighting style of the Sardaukar. The Sardaukar even attempt disguising themselves as Atreides soldiers during the assault.
Weaponized Exhaust: The Sardaukar used this to barely eke out a victory/capture of some Fremen.
We Have Become Complacent: For many years, the Sardukar were able to coast on their reputation as being unbeatable in combat, and thus their skills atrophied, though they were still a force to be reckoned with by the time of the first book.
Worthy Opponent: To the Fremen, at least in comparison to Harkonnen soldiers.
Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Abusive Parents: She treats Jessica with a combination of love and cruelty, as she has done since Jessica was a child.
Compelling Voice: Like all Bene Gesserit, Mohiam is trained in the use of the Voice.
The leader of the Tleilaxu in Heretics of Dune, he seeks Tleilaxu hegemony and attempts to make allegiances with the Honored Matres and Bene Gesserit in pursuit of his goal.
Out-Gambitted: Every attempt by Waff to use the Bene Gesserit to his ends gets foiled, forcing him to join his cause to theirs in the end.
Introduced in Heretics of Dune, the Honored Matres are a militant group of women descended from the Fish Speakers, Leto II's elite cadre of all-female warriors. Using sexual and fighting techniques derived from the Bene Gesserit, they intend to unite humanity under their rule— even if they must smash a few heads in along the way.
Originally mentioned in passing in the original Dune novels, the Herbert/Anderson sequels and prequels expand on their origins. The Thinking Machines were artificial intelligences that once enslaved mankind, but they were overthrown by the humans in the Butlerian Jihad. However, the Thinking Machines were merely defeated and plan to rise up again.