open/close all folders
House Atreides and Supporters
The good guys. Mostly. Seem to be descendants of the Atreides and Agamemmnon, and their ancestor's curse still seems to hold sway over them.
Duke Leto Atreides
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Only bites the poison capsule in his mouth once he sees there's no getting out of this one.
- The Chains of Commanding: Why he can't marry Jessica. Staying eligible is the one reason the other Houses show him goodwill.
- Dead Man Walking
- Defiant to the End: With Yueh and the Baron.
- A Father to His Men: He abandons a full load of spice and a valuable harvesting machine in the interest of saving every last worker.
- Gilded Cage: Arrakis, and on a smaller scale the Governor's mansion (which is encased with shields).
- Guile Hero: He's not really coldblooded enough to be The Chessmaster; that's Hawat's job. But he knows how to scheme and plot reasonably well.
- Like a Son to Me: The Emperor himself confided that he wished to have Leto for a son, and regrets that "political necessities" obliged him to screw him over.
- Papa Wolf: They have tried to take the life of my son!
- 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.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Almost immediately after arriving on Arrakis, he takes an active role in building up the spice mining industry and organizing the management of Dune. More generally, this attitude is a major reason why the Atreides can command such loyalty.
- 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.
- Unwitting Pawn: Being lured into taking the title to Arrakis instead of going into exile. Alternatively, his seeming mistake was a success.
Lady Jessica Atreides
- 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.
- Always Someone Better: Paul, who one-ups his mother's hyper-awareness. ("She's so slow.")
- Beneath the Mask: Type B: hidden powers.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Even if she is one of the kindest, most humane people among House Atreides, she is still a Bene Gesserit— with all the power and skill that implies.
- Compelling Voice: A Bene Gesserit power, which she also taught Paul.
- Happily Married: Sort of. Both she and Leto consider themselves married. The only reason they don't formalize it is to keep the possibility of an alliance with other Houses open.
- Hot Consort: Jessica is officially a concubine for the purpose of diplomatic convenience, but in practice she is running the whole show.
- 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.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Jessica unwittingly messed with millennia-long genetic planning by the Bene Gesserit to breed the Kwisatz Haderach by having a son to please Leto instead of a daughter as it was planned, as it was one generation too soon; this led to Paul's Jihad and later to the eons-long rule of the God Emperor Leto Atreides. Jessica's actions are a cautionary lesson to the Bene Gesserit and they are referred to as "Jessica's Crime"; that is, never fall in love if you're a Bene Gesserit.
- Rebellious Princess: Rebelling against the Bene Gesserit, that is.
- The Vamp: The Bene Gesserit specifically bred her to be one. However, Jessica hasn't used her wiles on Leto as she could have.
- The Ace: partly by nature, with a very large slice of nurture.
- A God I Am Not: He willingly gave up the opportunity, as he had too much of a conscience to subject humanity to the monstrosity of a physical god; Leto II and Ghanima then have to pick up his slack. When he is found out to be alive, Gurney Halleck admonishes him for running away from what he started.
- The Atoner: By the end of Dune Messiah and in Children of Dune.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: He was good before he got to Arrakis. However once the spice kicked in, his analytical prowess Took A Level In God-like Prescience.
- Badass Preacher: As "the Preacher."
- 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.
- The Chosen One: Unfortunately, It Sucks to Be the Chosen One.
- Compelling Voice: Like the Bene Gesserit.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: All his combat training has been centered on penetrating personal shields, which stop anything moving over a certain speed, so his reflexes are trained to be "fast on defense, slow on attack." Shields drive the sand worms of Dune into a killing frenzy, so aren't used in the open desert where the Fremen live. The first fight Paul gets into, his finely-honed-against-shields training reflexes won't let him finish Jamis off cleanly, and some of the other Fremen berate Paul for toying with him.
- Dark Messiah: He wasn't really a Messianic Archetype to begin with, but kept being persuaded about it by people full of wishful thinking to the point where he started believing in being the embodiment of an idea he previously scoffed at.
- Eye Scream: He gets blinded by an atomic weapon. He can continue to see, sort of.
- Fallen Hero: By the time of Dune Messiah. And he's fully aware of it.
- Fluffy the Terrible: His Fremen name means "The Mouse." The Harkonnens weren't exactly quaking in their boots at first.
- Only because they don't bother to learn the language. To the Fremen his name means "Wise in the ways of the desert" and "The teacher of boys."
- Galactic Conqueror: He conquered the Imperium and became its new ruler.
- 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.
- It's also heavily implied that the Bene Gesserit seed "messiah" myths among various primitive cultures on planets (like the Fremen of Arrakis) specifically so that, if a Bene Gesserit finds herself on the run in such a place with no other allies, they can conveniently make themselves out to be said messiah, so they at least have some people around to help them out. These legends are ultimately what control Paul's fate among the Fremen.
- I Have Many Names: Paul Atreides, Lisan-al-Gaib, Usul, Muad'dib, The Preacher.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: What he would like to be after becoming the all-purpose political and religious figurehead messiah of humanity.
- Killed Off for Real: He dies in Children of Dune, stabbed to death by one of the priests who worship him as a god.
- Lonely at the Top: His mother, sister and Chani are probably the only three people who know the man, instead of the semi-divine messiah.
- Magnetic Hero: Why the Fremen decide to follow him.
- Mighty Whitey: Justified in-universe in that the legends which assure his ascendancy were deliberately planted in the local culture, ages ago.
- Older Than They Look: He's described in the books as looking very childlike as a teenager, which works to his advantage as it often causes his enemies to fatally underestimate him.
- Papa Wolf: The death of his first son extinguishes any thoughts of mercy he had towards the Harkonnens.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Harkonnens, with the Emperor's backing, nearly exterminated his entire House. Who wouldn't be angry after that?
- Refused The Call: Ultimately he rejects the Golden Path.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: He is able to reject the Golden Path because of the births of Leto and Ghanima. He proceeds to walk to the desert and never look back.
- Sorcerer King: Though he might be a Sorcerous Overlord instead.
- 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.
- Warrior Prince: He's the heir of the house of Atreides in addition to being a formidable warrior.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Because Destiny Says So.
- 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.
- Played with. Paul could, indeed, have prevented the Jihad. . . by never leading the Fremen against the Harkonnen's in the first place, thus allowing them and the Emperor continued domination over Arrakis and giving up on revenge for his entire House being murdered. He actually seriously considered turning away from his desire for revenge a few times, but ultimately decided that it was more-or-less worth the price (the Jihad).
God-Emperor Leto Atreides IIThe son and heir of Paul. Perhaps an even more powerful psychic than his father.
- And I Must Scream: His awareness supposedly exists in each of the sandtrout and sandworms produced from his body. In his words, he is a pearl of awareness locked in an endless dream.
- Anti-Hero: Leto wants to help humanity but the way he does it is pretty brutal.
- Arc Words: "The Golden Path."
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The truth is actually much more complicated that that.
- Bodyguard Babes: He created the Fish Speakers to be his bodyguards and enforcers, after the scattering they became the Honored Matres.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When he becomes the God Emperor, decades may pass without him noticing.
- Brother-Sister Team: With Ghanima.
- Dark Messiah: He intends to save mankind from the "Typhoon Conflict" by imposing a 3000-year rule of despotism, followed by a sundering of mankind.
- Dead Guy Junior: The second one, no less.
- Death Seeker: When he becomes the God Emperor, Leto is so bored with the passage of millennia that Duncan Idaho's attempts on his life are about the only thing that rouses him; this, in fact, is one of the reasons he keeps reviving Idaho apart from nostalgia.
- Dreaming of Things to Come
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He's devoted to his twin sister and loves Hwi.
- Foe-Tossing Charge: At the climax of Children of Dune, Leto becomes strong enough to knock aside fully-armed combat troopers.
- Gambit Roulette: His entire plan for saving mankind.
- God-Emperor: The first of the two standard Trope Codifiers. Also possibly the Ur-Example of the construct-title of "God-Emperor", at least in the English language.
- Kill Him Already!: He has given Duncan Idaho uncountable opportunities to kill him and he always manages to disappoint. The last and definitive time, Leto has to clue in Siona on how to kill him, sets up a scenario and even gives Siona and Idaho help by giving them Nayla, Leto's Fish Speaker.
- Last of His Kind: By the time of Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune, his consciousness lives on in the last of the sandworms.
- Lonely at the Top: After his metamorphosis, Leto begins to grow apart from the very humans he is trying to save.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: He becomes a human-sandworm combination. One cover for God-Emperor of Dune depicts him as a sandworm with a human face nestled in its mouth.
- 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 to 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.
- Prescience Is Predictable: Leto makes a few statements towards this end.
- Really 700 Years Old: 3,500, in his case.
- Self-Deprecation: He is well aware of being the most despicable thing creation ever threw into the universe.
- 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.
- Tragic Hero / Tragic Villain: A mixture of both. He hates what he has to do to save humankind, but he must be a millenia-reigning tyrant to do that.
- * Thanatos Gambit
- Two Beings, One Body: With multiple sandtrout.
Ghanima AtreidesThe daughter of Paul and Chani and twin sister of Leto II.
- Brother-Sister Team: With Leto II.
- Creepy Child: She and her brother have the demeanor, skills, and memories of adults, making them very unsettling.
- Genetic Memory: She can access the memories of her female ancestors.
Alia AtreidesPaul's younger sister. Due to Jessica taking the Water of Life while pregnant with her, Alia is born with the memories of all her female line ancestors.
- Big Bad: For Children of Dune.
- Creepy Child: She has the skills of a Reverend Mother and all the memories of ancestors who came before her, making her decidedly unchildlike.
- The Dreaded: By the Bene Gesserit, for her condition. Mother Caius is one step from fainting just for seeing her and begs Shaddam IV to kill her.
- Driven to Suicide: Dies by falling of her tower while fighting her own possession.
- Enfant Terrible: Was this for the Bene Gesserit when born.
- Evil Redhead: On Children Of Dune, thanks to the Baron.
- Evil Uncle: Female version for Leto II and Ghanima during Children Of Dune.
- Fighting from the Inside: Attempts to do this over her possession.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Trains in the nude.
- Genetic Memory: Ends up getting the memories of her grandfather Baron Harkonnen.
- High Priest: Leads the Muab´Dib religion from the Temple of Alia.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: She has her moments in Dune Messiah.
- Little Miss Badass: As a child, she killed the Baron and living in Arrakis combined with full Bene Gesserit combat training from her Other Memory probably meant that she could present a problem to the Sardaukar.
- Additionally, in Fremen culture the men fight in the battle, the women drag fatal casualties to the deathstills, and the children ensure all the casualties are fatal. Alia's enthusiastic participation in this tradition at the end of the first book earns her her epithet, "Of The Knife".
- Older Than They Look: Uses Bene Gesserit body controlling skills to not age. This means she is around mid twenties but looks fifteen or so.
- Red Baron: She is called "Saint Alia Of The Knife" by supporters.
- Regent for Life: Becomes this after Paul's disappearance.
- Sanity Slippage: In Children Of Dune as a result of her Genetic Memories being suppressed for too long.
- Ship Tease: With the revived Duncan Idaho in Dune Messiah. It develops into a full blown romance.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: It seems like this is going on, but it's actually worse. The Baron memory is just using her for vengeance and mindless destruction.
- Workout Fanservice: In Dune Messiah she fights the training robot while completely nude to blow off steam. Both Paul and Stilgar walk into her just at that moment.
- You Need to Get Laid: Stilgar opinion of her after watching the aforementioned training.
Thufir HawatLeto's right hand man and chief adviser.
- Best Served Cold: Waits for years to take his revenge in motion without fail.
- The Chessmaster: Sets a plan to manipulate Feyd and kill the Harkonnens from the inside.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the 1984 film, he is required to milk a cat for the antidote to the poison he has been administered by the Harkonnens.
- The Consigliere: To the Atreides.
- Fake Defector: Pretends to work for the Harkonnens, but in reality he is just waiting for a chance to strike at them.
- Killed Off for Real: He dies while refusing to kill Paul.
- Old Retainer: Leto Atreides' most trusted subordinate.
- The Spock: A Mentat of no small skill.
- The Spymaster: As Master of Assassins to House Atreides.
- The Stoic: Usually calm and composed.
Dr. Wellington YuehThe personal physician to Duke Atreides.
- Beneath Suspicion: Due to his mental conditioning that should have made it impossible for him to harm others.
- Determinator: Yueh manages to stay alive long enough to give Baron Harkonnen a few last words before falling.
- I Have Your Wife : What led to his agreement to betray the Atreides.
- 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 they 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.
Gurney HalleckAn Atreides retainer and one of Paul's teachers.
- Badass Normal: In a universe of super-powered lordlings and hardened desert fighters, Gurney stands out for being none of those.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars : His scar was made by an inkvine whip used by Harkonnen slavers. He's not evil at all, the scar is just a reminder of how much he hates the Harkonnens.
- I Owe You My Life: The Atreides rescued him from a Harkonnen slave pit.
- Master Swordsman: By implication. Duncan Idaho is explicitly identified as a master swordsman, but notes that Gurney Halleck beats him in sparring six times out of ten.
- Undying Loyalty: He serves the Atreides with all his heart.
- Warrior Poet: As Duncan Idaho describes him in Heretics:"Ahhhh, Gurney! He could kill you while singing and never miss a note."
Duncan IdahoAnother 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.
- Back from the Dead: Repeatedly in the later installments.
- Butt Monkey: He is reincarnated as a ghola. Again. And again. And again. And again. And killed (rather than dying of old age) only a slightly smaller number of times.
- The Casanova
- Chick Magnet: Hinted at in the first book, outright stated in Heretics when he counter-seduces the Honored Matre Murbella.
- The Chosen One: Revealed in Sandworms of Dunes to be the final and true Kwisatz Haderach, becoming the bridge for humanity and the Thinking Machines.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Why he dies in Dune.
"Two deaths for the Atreides. The second for no better reason than the first."
- Does it again in Children of Dune.
- Master Swordsman: Though by his own admission, not quite as good as Gurney ("Gurney could best me six times out of ten.").
- Old Retainer: Via the gholas.
Liet-KynesA half-fremen Planetologist continuing his hope of bringing water to Arrakis. Temporarily appointed Judge of the Change.
- Badass Family: Tales of his father are legendary in their own right.
- Death by Irony: A planetologist killed by his own planet; even more poetically, by a spice bed! Kynes realizes the folly of his 'science' as he dies.
- Heroic Vow: Bringing back water to Arrakis and terraforming it into a lush world.
- His Name Is...: Felled by sunstroke and about to be sucked underground, Kynes has a breakthrough over how to fertilize Arrakis.
- Hope Spot: There's hope that some Fremen will spot the carrion birds overhead and come investigate. Kynes is killed by a whirlpool before this can happen.
- I Have Many Names: "I am accepted in both sietch and village."
- Mauve Shirt: Of the captives stranded in desert by Sardaukar, only Kynes bites it.
- Badass Family: She is Liet's daughter, after all.
- Battle Couple: With Paul.
- Happily Married: With Paul, just like Jessica with Leto, and for the same reasons.
- Love Interest: To Paul.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: She's a fierce warrior, like all Fremen.
StilgarFremen Naib (chief) who mentored Paul in the ways of the Fremen. After Paul's ascension to Emperor, he becomes one of Paul's generals and the guardian of his children.
- Asskicking Equals Authority/Klingon Promotion : The method by which Fremen choose their chiefs, with Stilgar being no exception. Paul, however, spares him, reasoning that he does not want to waste a useful talent.
- Defeat Means Friendship: He's dismissive of Jessica when he first meets her, but takes her seriously after she subdues him in hand-to-hand combat. The two become friends and allies afterwards.
- Demoted to Dragon: After Paul refuses to go through with the Klingon Promotion rite.
- Best Friends In Law: With Pardot Kynes, who married his sister - Frieth.
- The Mentor: To Paul, and later to Leto.
- Noble Savage: A subversion, as with the Fremen in general. He's certainly among the most noble Fremen, but even he is not without shades of gray.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: He's a leader and distinguished warrior among the Fremen.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's both a friend and father figure to Paul throughout the series.
JamisA Fremen man who challenges Paul to a duel.
- Asshole Victim: He's an angry, domineering man who wants to kill Paul for being an outsider.
- Due to the Dead: His fellow Fremen respectfully mourn his death and bring up his good points.
- Even Paul counts him a friend and notes that he taught him a valuable lesson "When you kill, you pay for it."
- 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.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: After his death, Harah notes that he loved both his sons equally despite only one of them being his biological son. At the funeral, a few accounts of his kindness and bravery were brought up.
- 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.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: In duels between two Fremen men, the winner inherits the loser's family. Jamis bested another Fremen and won his wife and son. Paul later inherits responsibility for Harah and her sons when he kills Jamis.
Harkonnens and Supporters
The Harkonnens are House Atreides's Arch-Enemy, and are evil to a fault, with possibly one exception. But then again, things are not so simple as that.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Leto learns the hard way that the governor's mansion was just on loan.
- Archnemesis Dad: Turns out to be Jessica's father.
- 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 things 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.
- 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: 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.
- Karmic Death: Poisoned by the daughter of his enemy.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
- 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.
- The Man Behind the Man: Rabban was his puppet ruler, with Feyd-Rautha planned to succeed him.
- Manipulative Bastard
- No, Mister Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Propping up Leto's paralyzed body in a dining room chair, then proceeding to negotiate with him over lunch.
- 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.
- Sissy Villain: Somewhat. Not outwardly visible, though.
- 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.
- Anyone Can Die: He's taken out by Leto's attempted Taking You with Me, whose real target was the Baron.
- Awesome by Analysis
- Contest Winner Cameo: Possibly named for the American novelist Peter de Vries.
- 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).
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name is given as 'Piter de Vried in some editions of the first book.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Baron continually makes note to kill him, but Piter's prematurely bumped off.
- 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.
- Climax Boss: For Dune.
- The Dragon: To his uncle.
- Duel Boss: Engages in a final duel against Paul to stop him from dethroning Shaddam.
- Evil Counterpart:
- 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.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He's killed in his duel with Paul when a poison flip-dart in his leotard gets caught in the floor during a grapple, pinning him in place long enough for Paul to inflict a death-blow. Paul also had a chance to stack the fight in his favor by using a Bene Gesserit paralysis command on Feyd, but decided against it in favor of beating him in a fair fight.
- 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." It's another parallel with Paul.
- You Killed My Father: Well, his uncle, really, but he attempts to avenge the Baron. However, as he was not above trying to kill the uncle himself, it's likely that he's just angry that the person got the chance to kill Harkonnen whereas he didn't.
Count Glossu Rabban
- Ascended Extra: He has only one brief appearance in the original book, he is a considerably more significant character in the film, miniseries, and prequels.
- The Brute: The Baron describes him as a "muscle-minded tank-brain". Played straight in the movie, but subverted in the first book, in which Rabban is insightful about the potential Fremen threat.
- 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.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Known by a plethora of titles on Arrakis, including "Mudir Nahya" (Demon Ruler), King Cobra, and Beast Rabban.
- Off with His Head!: His ultimate fate in the miniseries, and in the David Lynch film (albeit at a different set of hands).
- Smarter Than You Look:
- 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.
- Stupid Evil: In the miniseries, where he is constantly belittled by the Baron.
- The Unfavorite: The Baron planned to have Rabban rule Arrakis again, then have Feyd kill him to make him loved and praised.
Lady Jessica Atreides
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Interestingly, her paternity is revealed to her by Paul, as neither she herself nor the Baron know.
- See above for other tropes regarding this character.
House Corrino and Supporters
Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Here, have this planet-sized Death Trap with no way out except through the Guild which takes my bribes.
- Big Bad: Along with Baron Harkonnen, during the first book.
- Cool Helmet: With a lion design on it.
- Deadpan Snarker: Shows a fair degree of it during his talk with Vladimir Harkonnen, showing himself to be incredibly sarcastic as the Baron tries to explain his failures.
- The Emperor: His role.
- Evil Redhead: Messy red hair during his introduction, through it could be assumed to be blond-ish due to previous Irulan descriptions of him.
- 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.
- King Bob the Nth: Shaddam IV.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Emperor boots Leto out of Caladan, only for his heir to return and unseat him from the throne.
- No Honor Among Thieves: His paranoia won't allow him to leave the Baron alive with what he knows.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: One of the quotes by Irulan recount the emperor receiving a beautiful sex slave from Hassimir as a gift and politely rejecting her. Such attitude made the Bene Gesserit scared out their wits since it showed too much more self-control than they would like their puppet to have.
- Older Than They Look: Is 70 but looks 30, most likely thanks to some degree of spice consumption.
- Only Friend: Due to his personality, Fenring seems to be his only friend and the only one capable of rejecting his orders.
- 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 Emperor 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.
- Sympathy for the Hero: Irulan word is that Shaddam actually appreciated Leto as a son and went into a fit of rage when he discovered how he died, blaming all the Bene Gesserit.
- 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 FenringA counselor and friend of Emperor Shaddam; also an assassin. Was one of the Bene Gesserit's recent failures.
- Affably Evil: Baron describes him as this, calling him the most dangerous kind of man.
- The Dragon: To Shaddam IV.
- Eunuchs Are Evil: Sort of. He is one of the most sympathetic of the villains and serves out of loyalty to the Emperor.
- Flawed Prototype: At the end of Dune, he is revealed to be a failed Kwisatz Haderach.
- Happily Married: Very much like Jessica and Leto. With one small exception...
- Immune to Fate: Although he falls short of being a true Kwisatz Haderach, he's close enough that Paul can't read him.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Acts like this, but stops after realizing what Paul is and doesnt kill him even while Shaddam gives a direct order.
- Not So Different: Paul realizes this at the end.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Seems little more than a harmless fop, but is actually much smarter and deadlier than he looks.
- Only Friend: To the Emperor, since childhood.
- Sexless Marriage: He and Margot are fairly happy together, but he is physically incapable of sex.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Children of Dune spells his first name as "Hassimar".
- Verbal Tic: "Hmmmm." It actually serves as a form of cipher which only him and his wife can understand.
Princess IrulanOne 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 Chew Toy: 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.
- Daddy's Girl: She seems to have had some affection for her father The Emperor.
- 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 if 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 SardaukarThe 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.
- Asskicking Equals Authority
- Back-to-Back Badasses: In close combat and when outnumbered, Sardaukar are trained to fight in formations of three so they never show their backs to the enemy.
- Common Ranks: Their ranks are a combination of traditional Western ones and Arabic titles to go with Dune's cultural mix theme, such as "Colonel-Bashar".
- Crazy-Prepared: To the point of equipping themselves with fake toes (with stabbing implements!) and garrotes in their hair in the form of shigawire.
- Cultured Warrior: Tyekanik and the higher-ranked Sardaukar end up adapting some aspects of the Fremen faith, finding common ground there with their experiences.
- Death World: All the Sardies get a Training from Hell upbringing on Salusa Secundus, the devastated former seat of House Corrino (a wasteland planet similarly harsh and inhospitable as Arrakis).
- Evil Army: At least from the Atreides and Fremen point of view. But make no mistake - they can be cruel and thorough.
- False Flag Operation: See Paper-Thin Disguise below.
- 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.
- Penal Colony: Salusa Secundus, where they are trained.
- Praetorian Guard: To the Padishah Emperor.
- The Stoic: Captain Otto Aramsham, who refuses to submit under capture by Paul and the Fremen until he uses the Voice.
- Training from Hell: How they become as skilled as they are.
- 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 Consigliere: To the Emperor.
- Evil Matriarch: She's the highest-ranked Bene Gesserit, an evil schemer, and an all-around jerkass.
- Jerkass: She's scathing to Jessica, Paul, and others.
- Killed Offscreen: Stilgar kills her offscreen near the end of Dune Messiah.
- Living Lie Detector: As the Emperor's Truthsayer.
- Happily Married: Despite everything, she and the Count do love one another.
- Sexless Marriage: Mostly because the Count is incapable of sexual intercourse.
- Your Cheating Heart: Averted. Margot obeys the orders of her Bene Gesserit superiors to conceive a daughter with Feyd-Rautha, but she has the Count's permission.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Tries to pull this on Paul, by giving him the chance to resurrect Chani as a ghola.
- Big Bad: He is the leader of the conspiracy against Paul in Dune Messiah.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Impersonates a dead girl from Paul´s sitch to get near to him. Paul being Paul, he realizes the truth on first sight.
- Gender Bender: Comes with being able of changing your appearance.
- Killed Off for Real: Paul throws a well placed knife at him.
- Manipulative Bastard: Scytale is capable of playing on other people's emotions in order to attain what he wants.
- The Nondescript: His first appearance is this on purpose.
- Power Perversion Potential: On his first appearance, after seeing Irulans beauty first hand, he takes note on remembering her form to use it on men later.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: As a Face Dancer, Scytale can change his features to resemble another's.
- Wild Card: For the conspiration. He isnt as interested as the rest in taking down the emperor and even realizes some of the things that Paul fears are important. Is just that he has his own interests on board.
- Xanatos Gambit: His plan in Dune: Messiah. The conspiracy against Paul succeeds? Then he and his co-conspirators have eliminated the single greatest threat to their factions. It fails? He finally figures out how to awaken a ghola to its original memories, a process the Tleilaxu have struggled to master for a very long time.
- Flawed Prototype: He was a ghola grown from Duncan's cells.
Tylwtyh WaffThe 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 as the main antagonists (sort of), 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.
- Amazon Brigade
- Evil Counterpart: To the Bene Gesserit, who were Ambiguously Evil to begin with.
- Invading Refugees: They were driven back into the Old Empire by the Thinking Machines.
- The Vamp: An entire group of them.
- Defector from Decadence: She falls in love with Duncan and runs away with him.
- The Leader: She ends up becoming leader of the united Bene Gesserit-Honored Matres army near the end of Chapterhouse: Dune.
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.
OmniusThe Evermind, ruler of the Thinking Machines.
- Bigger Bad: His onslaught drove the Honored Matres back into the Old Empire, and forces the Tleilax, Bene Gesserit and Matres to work together against the Thinking Machines.
ErasmusA Thinking Machine who survived alongside Omnius. He is fascinated with the human race.
- Crazy-Prepared: He has a kill-switch implanted in Khrone and his enhanced Face Dancers in case they turn against him.
- Mad Doctor: His curiosity towards humans leads him to perform all sorts of terrible experiments on them.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He killed Serena Butler's child, which caused her to go full Mama Bear and kickstart the Butlerian Jihad.