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Warhammer 40000: W40k Tropes Q To Z
aka: Tropes Q To Z
By the will of the Immortal God-Emperor, the great reliquary, or "page" as it is known, of tropes has grown to the point that it shall be broken up into three different pages. These pages are divided by the letter that starts the trope, and misplaced tropes shall be returned to their proper place. This page is for those tropes that start with the letter Q through the letter Z.

Venerate the God-Emperor. To deep-strike back to the main page, click here.


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    Q 
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: HQ characters' retinues, of all stripes.
  • The Quisling: Several human worlds near the Tau Empire have been assimilated into the Empire, some more willingly than others.

    R 
  • Rage Helm: For the Space Marines, their faith is their shield, their fury is their sword, and rage is their helmet.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Imperial penal legions, entire armies of convicts sentenced to death at the hands of the enemy; in death they may be forgiven for their crimes. The best known unit is Colonel Schaeffer's "Last Chancers", inspired by every war-movie Ragtag Bunch of Misfits ever.
  • Random Number God: A number of bizarre good-luck superstitions have arisen, such as never calling missile launchers by their proper name (it has the word "miss" in it), the idea that painted models are luckier than unpainted models, the usage of blue dice for important rolls and the practice of occasionally muttering prayers to the Emperor. Never taken seriously, but often endearing.
  • Random Transportation: Warp travel (a demon-infested alternate dimension that allows FTL travel, sped up or hampered by Warp currents). While ships have a Navigator that allows them to navigate the Warp currents, all too often they end up adrift, and when (if) they do return to realspace, it's only occasionally on target, when not in deep space. And then there's the fact that sometimes you don't even come back at the right time, as one ork Waaaagh found when they ran into their future selves (that one ended in considerable confusion, as the future!warboss killed past!warboss in order to have two sets of his favorite gun).
  • Rated M for Manly: In many fantasy games, the elves are effeminate, the humans are just like real life people, and the orcs are manly. In the grim darkness of the far future, the elves are manly, the humans are extremely manly, and the orcs make Chuck Norris look like a milk-swilling baby. Could you have ever expected anything else from a game where the Tagline is "There is only war..."? Examples:
    • Baby flies through a Negative Space Wedgie unharmed and lands on an icy hellhole, to subsequently get Raised by Wolves, wolves the size of horses. He challenges the most powerful man in existence to a drinking contest and wins, then gets punched in the face with a Power Fist that can wreck tanks, shrugs it off, and then joins said man in leading a vast army of superhuman space Vikings in a massive intergalactic crusade.
    • Ordinary men and women with nothing more than flak vests, laser guns and World War I-era tanks take on nigh-invincible metal zombies, all-devouring hordes of alien insects that outnumber the stars, psychotic hulking monstrosities who tear men apart with their bare hands and live and die to fight, psychic ancients who train thousands of years in deadly warrior arts, and mind-raping eldritch horrors from beyond space and time... and don't always lose.
    • Badass Grandpa defeats powerful daemon in single combat and takes its axe, and then makes the daemonic entity inside the axe bitch down to him. He likes the axe so much, he takes it back to the smiths to be re-forged, so he can use the axe in battles without it Mind Raping everyone else around him.
    • Commissar challenges a 7-foot-tall hulking Ork warboss to a duel. The monstrosity has a power-claw bigger than a man, and uses it to cut the commissar's right arm off. Rather than bleed out or die like a bitch, the commissar stays conscious long enough to cut the monster's head off then tear its claw off. When he recovers, he takes the Warboss' cyber-arm as a replacement and garners a reputation among Orks as an unkillable monster, causing them to flee in terror when they see him.
    • Tough survivalist man from a jungle planet so nasty that living to adulthood is a major accomplishment, wields a BFG that rapid-fires .75 calibre explosive shells. On a routine patrol, a giant snake-like creature bursts out of the ground from under him, and knocks his weapon out of his hands. Lacking a knife, said man then catches the creature in a headlock and crushes its neck with his biceps.
    • Scarred, bald and battle-hardened warrior women take up rapid-firing rocket launchers, flame-throwers, chainsaw swords and power armour, taking time between butchering the enemies of their God Emperor to make boisterous boasts about said God Emperor.
  • Reality Warper: C'tan, distinct from the setting's other gods in that they are literal Physical Gods, immensely powerful in the material world rather than being warp entities. The more powerful psykers can also break the setting's (already tenuous) grip on physics.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Most wealthy and/or super-important/famous (like Ciaphas Cain) Imperials, via juvenat technology.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Herman von Strab, the inept Overlord of Armageddon, banished Commissar Sebastian Yarrick to Hive Hades for countermanding his orders. The reason? He sent out a distress call to get help in defending Armageddon from an Ork Waaagh! led by Warlord Ghazghkull.
    • Reassignment Backfire: Needless to say, von Strab's arrogance and incompetence proved to be his own downfall which almost lost the Second War for Armageddon to the Orks had it not been for the brilliance of Commissar Yarrick and the power of the three Space Marine Chapters that answered his distress call.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Began as a Recycled IN SPACE! version of Warhammer, which predated it by four years, but has over time diverged from it. Now contains a Recycled IN SPACE! of nearly every fantasy and SF trope imaginable, turned Darker and Edgier to a ridiculous degree and armed to the teeth. And then the 6th edition literally makes the game rules-wise into Fantasy Warhammer in SPACE!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Things like bionic eyes and Space Marine helmets can also have red lenses.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Angron and Kharn, respectively. The fact that the Blue Oni is still a raving fanatical berserker should tell you something.
  • Redemption Equals Death: One of the fundamental concepts behind the Church Militant's idea of "penance."
  • Redshirt: Though not specifically called out as such, this tended to emerge from the 5th edition gameplay mechanics. The wound allocation rules (barring special exceptions) allowed the player who controlled the unit being hit to designate which models in the unit fell in combat when the unit was attacked. Inevitably, it was the models without special options, wargear, or abilities, who took the wound instead of the more important ones. This has been slightly averted in 6th edition in that aside from characters (who can be saved using the Look Out Sir! rule) the models that die are those closest to the attacker.
  • Redshirt Army: The Imperial Guardsmen are ordinary humans in a world filled with genetically engineered Super Soldiers in both religious-fanatic and daemon-corrupted flavours, unstoppable death robots, and aliens with horribly lethal weapons and/or terrifying Psychic Powers. They are surprisingly Genre Savvy about this, meaning that infantry have crap morale because they know exactly how expendable they are. Of course, Commissars are there to solve that little problem.
    • Typically, a world's Planetary Defense Force (PDF) has it even worse than the Guard, as their primary job in most stories is to die horribly at the hands of the invading forces until the Imperial Guard arrives, usually killed to a man. That's right, they're the Redshirt Army for the Redshirt Army. The PDF is so infamously useless in both canon and fanon that the letters 'PDF' have been joked to stand for "Please Don't Fight (Us)," and one webcomic called them "The Imperial Speedbump" for how useless they are compared to the Guard.
    • And then are the penal legions, who are just a bunch of convicts told to charge the enemy and die as a form of execution.
  • Reign of Terror: Began with the Emperor's unification of Terra and has since settled into a permanent state of affairs.
  • Religion is Magic: Used to its fullest by both the Imperium and Chaos, especially the Sisters of Battle, who can literally stop bullets with their faith.
  • Religion of Evil: Chaos cults, and the Word Bearers' claim to fame. Not that the "good" religions are much better.
  • Retcon: As you might imagine after thirty years and dozens of writers, quite a lot has changed. Most of the more dramatic changes are instances of Early-Installment Weirdness, although there's exceptions. The Squats, Zoats and the fifth Chaos God, Malal, were removed from the game background - the Squats because they weren't sure what to do with them, Malal because they weren't quite sure who owned the copyright. Other forces changed drastically, for example, the Tyranids turning from curiosity bugs into a galaxy-eating horror, and the C'tan changing from the Necrons' star gods to their former star gods who got betrayed.
    • There have also been a number of RetCons of technology, such as Terminator armour and plasma weapons being changed from utterly irreplaceable relics to simply very, very difficult to make.
    • The removal of the Squats is not a Retcon so much as a Dropped a Bridge on Him, as they officially existed, but were utterly eradicated by the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken. The Zoats get a quarter-page mention in the Tyranid book, as they were wiped out by the Imperium.
    • The general tone of the setting has shifted quite a bit over the years. In the original Rogue Trader rulebook, the Imperium had a ragtag, Scavenger World feel (still present but not to the same degree). In fact, the whole thing had kind of a Mad Max IN SPACE feel to it. The copious amounts of black humor and irony that marked Rogue Trader have also been downplayed over time.
    • Inquisitors were originally lone adventurers not unlike U.S. Marshals in Western fiction - our friend Obiwan Sherlock Clousseau would not fit in with the Inquisiton of modern 40K.
    • Daemons and Chaos were originally not part of the setting; the Warp was instead inhabited by a variety of dangerous but non-daemonic "Warp Creatures", such as Enslavers, Psychaneuein, and Vampires, though it was mentioned that some inspired legends of demons on especially superstitious planets, and they still were drawn to unprotected psykers.
    • The Tyranids at first were less bestial in appearance, and the Hive Mind concept wasn't as thoroughly fleshed out. The Genestealers were originally unconnected to them.
      • Genestealers were also described in the Rogue Trader book as intelligent creatures which weren't necessarily hostile, as opposed to the Alien-influenced monsters they became in the expansion that first introduced Genestealer cults.
    • There was a lot less romanticization/fetishization of the Space Marines in Rogue Trader - they were clearly Badass mofos, and the most dangerous fighting force in the setting, but they were also played as the most brutal and insane individuals in a brutal, insane universe. In fact, most were recruited from psychotic murderers on feral planets. Most of their transhuman elements (such as all those extra organs) were also added in later.
      • The Soul Drinkers novel Crimson Tears has a Guard general describing them pretty much exactly like that.
    • Ollanius Pious, in first edition, was an ordinary Guardsman who pulled a You Shall Not Pass on a DEMIGOD. Later editions retconned him out of existence. The fandom most definitely did NOT rejoice.
      • As of Know No Fear he's back, although the revelation as to his identity may leave distaste with some.
    • New models and characters are routinely retconned into previously discussed events. The Tyrannid Swarmlord character was recently retconned into leading most of their major battles back to first contact, and the new vehicles in the most recent IG Codex were now mixed into their armies all along.
    • The C'Tan were retconned again with the fifth edition Necron book, radically so. Instead of completely dominating the Necrons and using them to harvest the galaxy for life-energy, they were betrayed by the Necrons and shattered into shards that the Necrons use in the campaign to conquer the galaxy. How the rest of the canon will be altered to deal with this change remains to be seen.
    • The Imperial Guard used to field the same vehicles as Space Marines -down to dreadnoughts and land speeders- before the IG vehicle range was introduced in the mid-90s.
    • Primarchs were absent from the Rogue Trader rulebook. The Horus Heresy was initially introduced -in the background for the original Space Marine game- as just a huge civil war, and Warmaster Horus as a mere corrupted general. In this early version of the background, the Emperor had simply grown old and weak over the millenia until he had to be placed on life support.
    • Sixth Edition retconned the Squats back into existence in a list of sanctioned abhumans.
  • The Right Hand of Doom: All those Power Fists give this effect, often occurs in the mutations of daemon princes but special mention must go to the Crimson Fists who all paint just one of their hands so that it at least looks a little bit more prominent.
    • One member of the Soul Drinkers has an extremely large mutant hand, which he either uses to wield his power axe to great effect, or uses to splat people dead while using his normal hand to use the axe.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: Common in the Imperium, standard operating procedure in the Inquisition.
    • This is also common among the forces of Chaos, who routinely act at cross-purposes to one another even when they're ostensibly working towards the same goal: to say nothing of when they aren't.
      • It's often argued that the only reason that Chaos hasn't overrun the galaxy yet is because the forces of Chaos are all so insane, backstabbing and Stupid Evil, the full power of their force can't be consolidated and focused to any real degree. Take note of what happened the last time someone was able to fully unite Chaos.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Eldar Farseers, some Chaos sorcerers.
  • Robo Cam: The standard depiction of space marine battle helm readouts. Bonus points for directly scrolling across the retina.
  • Robot War: One of them was partly the reason for the end of the Dark Age of Technology. Nowadays, they happen wherever the Necrons show up.
  • Roboteching: Tau Smart Missile systems.
  • Rock Beats Laser: A setting of world-splitting superweapons, ludicrously powerful weaponry and interstellar empires, and the standard tactic of most factions is to charge screaming at their foes waving a sharp thing. And it works.
    • To be fair, if you're 8ft tall, largely immune to firepower and can flip tanks over, it is a lot more logical.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: They live in the underhives.
  • Room 101: Commorragh, the home of the Dark Eldar, is implied to be a City 101. 40k is this in general.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Psykers are prone to this.
    • Apparently Pariahs, people who are literally born without a soul and thus have no presence in the warp, can turn other people into this, as their innate lack of a soul drives normal people mad, or at least REALLY irritates other people for no apparent reason.
  • Royal Inbreeding: The Navigator Houses, or Navis Nobilite, have become so inbred over the millennia that most if not all of them have mutations other than their genetically engineered third eye (which is recessive, hence the inbreeding).
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Eldar resemble tall, thin humans with pointy ears. Also, Tau are just stocky grey humans with funny feet and faces. Justified and Lampshaded in Xenology.
  • Rule 34: Sexy Tyranids, loli Daemonettes, Cultist-chan, the Ronery Wych, Faptau... among others. Beware some of the stuff that comes out of /tg/.
    • In some ways Slaanesh is the in-universe personification of this.
  • Rule of Cool: Warhammer 40K was not carefully put together like Middle-Earth, but was cobbled by a whole bunch of authors adding elements from the favorite science fiction and horror movies. Lots of things make little sense, but it was meant to be Cool, not sensible.
  • Rule of Perception: According to 40k's What You See Is What You Get rules, if a particular upgrade or piece of wargear isn't somehow visible on a model, the model can't claim to have it. This encourages players to come up with interesting conversionsnote  to represent these upgrades, particularly in the case of things like veteran skills and other non-physical traits.
    • Okay that's a LITTLE unfair. While What You See is What You Get (Pronounced Wissiwig) is encouraged, there is a logical limit to it, even in tournament settings. Most people will accept that your Eldar Farseer has a Singing Spear, even if his model only has a Witchblade, so long as you put it down in the list. And trying to model for some things, such as Melta Bombs or Icons of Chaos (much less Marks or PSYCHIC ABILITIES) could get silly after a while. There are limits in the other direction to, especially in units, but usually people are forgiving enough to not make you model TOO heavily.

    S 
  • Sacred Scripture: The Lectitio Divinatatus penned by Lorgar, which later formed the basis of the Imperial faith, the Codex Astartes by Guilliman, and many more.
  • Same Character, But Different: The White Dwarf cut-out boardgame based on the fight on Horus' Battlebarge featured two Greater Daemons on Horus' side, named Doombreed and "Kraxnar." Years later when Codex: Chaos came out, this was referenced, but poor never-described-at-all Kraxnar had been ousted by the rather less goofily-named N'Kari.
  • Sand Worm: Raveners, the Red Terror, Trygons and Mawlocs, in that order from least to most matching.
  • Sapient Tank: Some armored vehicles are known to be capable of acting on their own. Whether the "machine spirit" is an Artificial Intelligence or an actual spirit is another question entirely.
    • Chaos Space Marines simply use demon-possessed vehicles.
  • Satanic Archetype: Horus was the favorite son of the God Emperor who rebelled against him and took somewhere between one third and one half of the space marines with him. Sound Familiar?
  • Scale of Scientific Sins: Unsurprisingly, pings on all 7 sins.
  • Scary Black Man: The Salamanders are an entire chapter of this, and they're one of the nicer chapters of Space Marines.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: All the factions, even the Imperium. Yep, we are Scary Dogmatic Humans:
    • The Imperium of Man and its subfactions: all xenocidal and imperialist, as happy to wipe out billions of its own people as it is to exterminate entire alien races.
    • Chaos: Extra-dimensional malevolent gods and daemons that are capable of crossing into the physical realm and corrupting the minds and bodies of sentient species. Four principal Chaos Gods and countless lesser deities and daemon princes, served by billions of cultists and thousands of ancient daemon-corrupted Super Soldiers who rebelled against the Imperium during a galaxy-splitting civil war ten thousand years before the setting. Unquestionably evil, delighting in murder and depravity. The four main gods are born from the emotions of hope, love, bravery and acceptance; this should tell you most of what you need to know about 40k's place on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
    • Craftworld Eldar: Dying elder race with massive superiority complex. Through their past depravity, they are responsible for creating the Chaos god Slaanesh. Not quite xenocidal, but consider the deaths of millions hundreds of billions of humans to safeguard a few hundred Eldar lives more than a fair trade, and have the psychic future-prediction and manipulative skills to make that sort of thing a reality rather than a dream. As an example, they tricked the Ork warlord Ghazghkull Thraka into attacking the human planet of Armageddon, setting off the Second and Third War for Armageddon, killing billions of humans, to prevent Ghazghkull from attacking one of their Craftworlds (world-ships that harbour the refugees of their lost empire).
      • Dark Eldar: You think the Craftworld Eldar are bad? Try their Dark Elf-esque Evil Counterpart. They still practice the same depravity that led to their race's fall. Sadistic in the extreme, need to feed on others' souls to avoid their own being devoured by the Chaos God Slaanesh. Worth noting that unlike the Craftworld Eldar, who could be considered Jerkass Woobies, the Dark Eldar have no excuse for their depravity. They actually choose to be evil.
      • Harlequins: A meta-faction with members drawn more or less equally from the other three factions, who form troupes of wandering bards, historians, performers, and high-speed close-combat specialists who are feared and respected by the elite troops of all sentient races, including their own. All of this is, of course, secondary to their "Great Work", which is the re-uniting of the other Eldar factions and hastening the creation of Ynnead, the Eldar god of death, who will destroy the Chaos gods and cause the Eldar race to be reborn as near-invicible demigods. They also have many weapons that can kill in extremely gory and unpleasant ways, including a monofilament wire that inserts into a man's body and flails about, tearing his insides apart. Why use these horrible weapons? For reasons your puny human mind cannot possibly comprehend.
    • Tau: Technologically advanced humanoids with a rigidly caste-based society. The Ethereal caste rule over the Earth, Air, Fire and Water castes, who are all utterly loyal and devoted (one theory has it the control is based on pheromones). They see themselves as benevolent imperialists fighting religiously for the 'Greater Good,' and are singled out for being the only faction that seriously engages in diplomacy or offers anything other than genocidal total war. Despite a thing for (allegedly) mass sterilisation, warmongering and concentration camps, they really are the nicest people you'll find in this galaxy. Imperialist, expansionist, slightly fanatical, ("slightly" in this setting meaning that only one mech per army can be upgraded to a suicide bomber), nothing will get in the way of their manifest destiny to conquer the galaxy in the name of the Greater Good.
    • Tyranids: Extra-galactic locusts in apparently limitless numbers. If they take over a planet, they devour all organic material, eat the soil, drain the geothermal heat from the planet's core, drink the oceans and suck up the atmosphere, leaving a cold airless rock. Hungry. Extremely psychic, with the psychic chatter that forms their Hive Mind being so powerful that their mere presence drives psychics insane and interferes with technology that uses psychics - including interstellar travel and communications. Bug Wars crop up wherever they go, with the suggestion that the three galaxy-eatingly-enormous, near-unstoppable Hive Fleets are just scouts for the real invasion.
    • Necrons: Ancient undead metal constructs powered by the souls of long-dead aliens that hate all living things. Ridiculously advanced technology, almost impossible to kill, and omnicidal down to the last bacterium.
      • Not "omnicidal" as of the new codex. Just your bog-standard ancient, hyper-advanced aliens who don't like the idea of nasty little upstarts walking around and being alive all over their old stomping grounds and want to conquer the galaxy again. Except for Trazyn, who doesn't like the whole "conquering and exterminating" business and just wants to build a museum.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Very much so.
    • The Dark Eldar warriors have armour suits are covered in blades and attach by hooking into their skin. Subverted, since the hooks are meant to produce a little bit of pain which enhances the senses. And given their proclivities, armour that can cut whilst in use is approved of. Parodied in a Turnsignals on a Land Raider strip here.
    • Surprisingly subverted by the standard Power Armour for the Space Marines. It looks kinda sinister, but that's just a design quirk of the helmets mostly. Apart from the massive pauldrons, which seem to also vary in size Depending on the Artist, it is actually quite practical in design. It is flexible enough to allow you a decent range of movement and covers you pretty much literally from head to toe, with none of the glaring issues of the other more impractical armours of the setting.
    • Chaos Space Marines Power Armour. Each suit is individually customized to be downright menacing, and invariably include an excess of horns, spikes, skulls, and arrows. Most of them are decorative or devotional, but more than a few of those horns coming out of their armor are actually parts of their bodies.
    • Again, subverted by the Tau. Their armours are very practical, if a bit lightly armoured.
  • Scenery Gorn: About half of the art. A fair proportion of the other half is just regular Gorn.
  • Schizo Tech: Planets in the Imperium of Man range from Stone Age-level Feral Worlds to hyper-tech Forge Worlds, and pretty much all technology levels in between. Even within a given world, examples of Schizo Tech often abound: it's not uncommon for an adept to ride a flying bus into work and then spend the day copying numbers onto rolls of parchment with a quill. And of course, "DRIVE ME CLOSER! I WANT TO HIT THEM WITH MY SWORD!!"
  • Science Fantasy: Well, technically, there's (pseudo)scientific explanations for all the magic found in the setting, but the fact remains that Warhammer 40,000 incorporates a lot of fantasy tropes. Unsurprising, considering that it started out as Warhammer IN SPACE!
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Has a love-hate relationship with this one. At times, distances, timescales and the number of soldiers needed to launch a sector-spanning crusade are handled "realistically", but just as often a few hundred Space Marines defend - or purge - an entire world. But then again, they are Space Marines...
    • The models also have some scale issues; for example, the Leman Russ tank, compared to a Guardsman figure, has a 16-inch main gun and two 3-inch repeating cannons.
    • Epic had this going on with weapon-related rules; all weapons of a given class had the same stats no matter what the model looked like. This got odd with "bolters" (any bolter, sometimes two only counting for one attack dice) and "battle cannon" (the Battle Cannon in a Stormblade's sponson is a quarter of the size of the one in a Baneblade's turret, yet both had the exact same stats). This results in some weirdness when trying to scale up a Superheavy tank to 40K; a Stormhammer, for example, might have anything from 12 bolt pistols in firing ports to 24 heavy bolters.
      • In addition, Epic models have a tendency to be too small directly proportional to the actual size of the model; a Leman Russ is slightly smaller in comparison to an infantry figure than the 40K equivalent, while vehicles supposedly as big as city blocks tend to only have a few times the footprint of a regular tank. Perhaps the biggest case is the Imperator Titan; the Imperator model is around four inches tall, and the head has just about enough room to contain one Epic-scale Terminator figure, despite being described in fluff as containing a whole battle bridge for the Princeps and Moderati. Most likely this is because a true-to-scale Epic Imperator would be two or three feet tall.
      • Then again, nobody seems able to decide how tall Titans are, with official figures for the Imperator varying from Graham McNeill's books (43m) to Dan Abnett (>140m). The cover of the graphic novel Titan showing a smaller Warlord Titan features access ladders and details on the gun implying the barrels are each the size of a house, making the whole Titan over half a kilometre tall.
    • Another time-related example: A fair amount of the Imperium's equipment, such as some of the older Marks of power armour that are still in use by the Space Marines, is still around and functional after at least ten thousand years of regular use. Even with maintenance, that's a bit of a stretch in most cases.
  • The Scottish Trope: Two of the original founding Space Marine Legions have had their names and their Primarchs stricken off of all Imperial records completely. Quite the feat in a society where putting the God Emperor himself in a ten thousand year coma doesn't even earn you that treatment.
  • Screaming Warrior: Eldar Howling Banshees, who - thanks to a psychosonic amplifier in their masks - can actually shut down someone's nervous system by screaming at him.
    • Likewise certain Noise Marines, who use a similar piece of technology known as "The Doom Siren".
    • One word: WWWAAAAAAAGGGHHH!!!
    • So common that the Necrons are notably intimidating for NOT doing this.
  • Screw You, Eldar
  • Scry vs. Scry: Primarily between Eldar farseers and Tzeentchian sorcerers; human and even Ork soothsayers sometimes try this as well, but are generally far less successful at it.
  • Sealed Army in a Can: Subverted with the Necrons, in that they can't be controlled. Overlaps with Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Many, many examples.
    • Just about everything can have a daemon sealed in it, turning an ordinary weapon - or monument, or tank, or planet - into an Artifact of Doom.
    • It's heavily implied that the Forge World of Mars imprisons the Void Dragon, a sleeping C'tan star-god. The Outsider, another C'tan, is currently trapped in a Dyson sphere (also batshit insane.)
    • Done both metaphorically and literally by the Necrontyr, a short-lived, life-hating race who had themselves sealed in undying living-metal battle shells, becoming the Necrons. "In a can" indeed.
  • Sense Freak: Followers of Slaanesh. Dark Eldar as well.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: There are many Heroic Sacrifices in 40K, "But the universe is a big place and, whatever happens, you will not be missed..."
    • On the other hand, there is another saying which goes "No man who died in His service died in vain", so make what you will of it. Imperial dogma is occasionally contradictory. Pointing this out is heresy.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force: The Warp is this.
  • Separate, But Identical: All races suffer really badly from this, although it's being gradually fixed with different Craftworlds, bio-augmentation, regimental doctrines, etc.
  • Serial Escalation: How much Dakka can the Ork Mekboys put together [Answer: never enuff]? How much more evil can we make the Dark Eldar? How loud can Kharn scream "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!"? How big of a Big Bad can Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!, defeat through a combination of dumb luck, skill and fast thinking? How much bigger can the Titans and various Planet Killing guns on Imperium ships get? Just how much worse can things get? How much more Trope Overdosed can this setting get? It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the setting pretty much runs on Serial Escalation.
  • Serious Business: Considering what this game costs, you can kinda see why.
  • Shadow Dictator: The God-Emperor of Mankind. The official story is that he was mortally wounded in a duel with Horus and has been hooked up to the Golden Throne and preserved in a state between life and death ever since, but sometimes it's alluded that he might be, in fact, long dead. Of course, those making said statements generally happen to be enemies of the Imperium, so it's impossible to know whether or not they're true. The Eldar believe that if the Emperor died, he would ascend to full-on Godhood upon fully transitioning to the Warp, which they're convinced would make another Eye of Terror. Also, it's heavily implied that if this happened, he'd utterly curbstomp the Chaos Gods, who were so terrified of the Emperor that they actually worked together to eliminate him.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Obliterators again, and their new close-combat flavoured counterparts, Mutilators.
  • Shared Universe: Particularly in the novels; most fans regard anything written by some authors, especially C.S. Goto, as automatically non-canon.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: Most combat blades have an edge one molecule thick. This includes combat knives, swords, some types of ammunition, etc.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: Eldar and Tau, mostly.
  • Shock and Awe: Necron ranged weapons typically fire bolts of green lightning that strip away the target's flesh one molecular layer at a time. A great many psychic powers also involve using bolts of lightning to fry people.
  • Shoot the Dog: Happens very, very often in the Imperium. One of a commissar's duties is to maintain unit cohesion and discipline— by execution, if necessary. Discovered psykers are usually killed to stop them getting daemon-possessed and destroying worlds, fed to the Astronomicon to preserve it and the Emperor, or put through brutal conditioning to serve the Imperium as "sanctioned" psykers. And, if that weren't bad enough, in extreme catastrophes planets are subjected to Exterminatus in order to prevent the taint from spreading and put the inhabitants out of their misery. To highlight how monumentally fucked up this galaxy is, people are actually awarded medals for such acts.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Shamelessly prevalent in the tabletop game, even the artillery (though keep in mind they don't exactly have a choice). The worst offender is the Imperial Guard Basilisk, whose range is both unnecessarily long for the tabletop game - twenty feet, several times the length of the average game table - while also far, far too short for an artillery piece of that size.
    • As of the 5th edition Imperial Guard codex, the Basilisk has passed its crown to the Deathstrike Missile, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 12" - 960". In other words, an ICBM with a maximum range of less than a mile, that can also be used to shoot at people standing sixty feet from the launch site. Short-Range Long-Range Weapon indeed. (As of the latest errata, the Deathstrike's maximum range is now officially unlimited, but it can still shoot people standing just off the launch pad.)
    • Apparently when asked why they changed this, the designers said "If you are playing on a table where this actually makes a difference, then good for you."
  • Shoulders of Doom: If you look at the Games Workshop site, "Shoulder Pads" is an entire category of modeling bits, along with scenery and weapons.
  • Shout-Out: Tons. Enough to get a separate page.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Space Marines are seen as legends by most of the Imperium. An average Imperial citizen will occasionally get to see how much of the legends are true; unfortunately, this is generally in a Marine-worthy combat situation, meaning the citizen's life expectancy can probably be measured in minutes at most.
    • One comic story describes an Ork invasion of a medieval-level Imperial world and a Black Templar counterattack, from the perspective of one of the world's peasants. At the end, after the Orks are driven off, the peasant hopes that they never come back again: not because he's scared of the Orks, but because he's scared of the Space Marines.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Necrons in general and gauss weapons in particular.
  • Sighted Guns Are Low Tech: One of the few science fiction works to avert this trope.
  • Sigil Spam: Every faction does this. The Imperium and Chaos are particularly prone to showing their sigils because they have multiple subfactions which have their own. And looking at the Chaos ones drive you insane.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Used and averted equally often.
  • Sinister Scythe: Trademark of Nurgle followers and the Nightbringer.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Take a wild guess. This is a universe where extreme prejudice and xenophobia against anyone remotely different: psykers, mutants, etc.: is truly the best option, since anything else will, in a best case secenario, get you possessed by demons. It's generally extremely cynical, to the point of being nihilistic, although every once in a full moon, you do get the odd sliver of idealism.
    • And this is only from the outside looking in. For example, an Imperial citizen's life could be anywhere on the sliding scale; a peasant on some agri-world could spend his entire life without being smashed by an Ork, slaughtered by a Chaos Space Marine, disintegrated by a Necron, or dragged kicking and screaming back to Commorragh, and in fact a citizen on a more developed, out-of-the-way world might live a rather cushy life not too different from some in the developed world, but that hardly makes good storytelling material, does it? Of course, the High Lords of Terra, the Inquisition and some of the Space Marines (but not all of them) have a more depressing and cynical outlook on life in the 41st Millenium. The Craftworld Eldar are generally a bit more cynical given the situation their species is in, and this extends to their willingness to sacrifice any number of the "lesser races" to preserve their own kind, but quite a few Eldar characters are self-sacrificing and dedicated to their goals and philosophies. The Tau are idealistic about their ideology and uniting the galaxy under it, but of course, they may be too idealistic for their own good, and several Tau characters who have experienced the full horror of the galaxy are much less optimistic but still believe that following the ideal is worth more than achieving it. Even Chaos followers vary; some turn to the Dark Gods for more obvious things like power and personal gain, others have turned to the Chaos gods because they really believe in them, and some are just poor schmucks who are denounced by the Imperium and figured that if they are always going to be seen as heretics, mutants and scum, they may as well just dive in and accept it.
      • And to quote Games Workshop writer Dan Abnett:
    "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is more than war; there are real people there too."
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Looked at from an out-of-universe perspective 40K has the tongue so firmly planted in cheek it's punching through: in-universe, it is so serious and depressing, it's rather surprising you have productive people at all, considering how depressing it must be to be in charge of anything in 40k.
    • This is often based on whichever perspective it's coming from. Read something written from the point of view of an Ork, and the descriptions and dialogue will take on an amusing and humorous tone. Take the point of view of a Guardsman seeing an Ork, and all he's going to see is a terrifying green monstrosity howling barbarically, waving either a monstrous cleaver or improbably sized gun around. Definitely not something to be taken lightly.
  • Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Turn by Turn.
  • The Slow Walk: Necrons are masters of this, as is any unit with the Slow and Purposeful rule (e.g. Obliterators, Meganobz, Thousand Sons). There is also a drawing in the 5th edition rule-book of several Imperial heroes performing a Slow Walk.
  • The Smurfette Principle: A dearth of female special characters usable in the game proper, although the fluff doesn't suffer from this so badly.
    • Turned on its head with Dawn of War II: Retribution, which has half of the playable Eldar characters being women and the Imperial Guard under the command of a female Inquisitor.
  • Some Call Me Tim:
    • Some call me Commander Farsight (Shas'O Vior'la Shovah Kais Mont'yr or O'Shovah for short) . Standard practice with Tau.
    • Somewhat averted by Ork players: most of them remember simple manageable names like Wazdakka Gutzmek or Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka.
  • Soul-Cutting Blade: Force weapons.
  • Soulsaving Crusader: The forces of the Imperium of Man are examples of this and also the other races that appears to be fighting for what seems right in this setting.
  • Sourcebook: By the bucketload.
  • Sound Off: Imperial battle hymns, Ork war chants.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: It begins with the Tau (for whom peace talks are - usually - the first resort), then the Eldar (who will not normally screw you over unless the lives of their own species are at stake), then the Imperium (which has to be that brutal so that mankind as a whole can survive), Orks (WAAAGH!), then Tyranids (driven by hunger rather than any genuine malice), then Necrons (who want to bring back their ancient empire and are willing to unleash the wrath of evil star-gods who want to farm every sentient species in the galaxy on their enemies), Chaos (let's convert the materium into more warp and fuck everyone else!), and Dark Eldar (pure, unrepentant evil, even by this setting's standards).
  • Soulsaving Crusader: Incorporated as official policy in the Imperium, where unrepentant and brutal policy often takes sway over more conventional practices. Specifically, while there are some worlds that are okay, even great to live on, the Imperium as a whole indoctrinates its people to accept hardship and stay loyal to a psychotic dystopia—no matter how hard their lives, how misplaced their loyalty, or how misused they are. All because failure to do so and to stay a coherent force in the galaxy will eventually lead to the extinction of the human species.
    • Used more specifically by the Ecclesiarchy, and by extension their Adeptus Sororitas, and by the somewhat more close-working Ordo Hereticus. They take anybody spiritually impure, or otherwise suspect, and use a wide range of punishment for their redemption, from burning them at the stake to being mounted onto a penitent engine.
  • Space Age Stasis: Most of the races in the 41st millennium have been in a state of technological stagnation for thousands of years. Many worlds are even Medieval.
    • The Imperium bans any technologically advancement, partly as part of their reverence for old tech in their religion, with beliefs of Status Quo Is God.
    • The Eldar are in a decline, with all their efforts focused on keeping their immortal race alive.
    • The Necrons are a machine race that are basically mindless outside of their Lords, and have been asleep for the past 65 million years.
    • Averted by the Tyranids and the Tau.
  • Space Amish: The Imperium actually has "medieval worlds" and "feral worlds." The Eldar have exodites, and the Orks have feral tribes and the deeply traditional Snakebite clan.
  • Space Fighter: Naturally.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Complete with starship-sized kraken and moon-sized leviathans. Also see the Battlefleet Gothic page.
  • Space Marine: Imperial Guard Stormtroopers, Tau Fire Warriors, Eldar Aspect Warriors, just about any Necron, but especially...
  • Space Navy: The Imperial Navy.
  • Space Opera: Emphasis on the epic heroes, villains, and battles - not so much on the love stories.
  • Space Plane: Notably, Thunderhawks and Valkyries are described in novels as behaving this way.
  • Space Pirates: Eldar, Dark Eldar and sometimes Orks, Chaos and Humans.
    • The Red Corsairs, yarr! Their leader even has only one eye (the other is bionic) and a sentient pet that allows him to slow down time.
  • Space Romans: The Imperium. Especially the Ultramarines.
  • Sparse List of Rules: Some storylines and fluff use the Codex Astartes like this, for example in an early mission of Dawn of War's single-player campaign where Captain Gabriel Angelos notes what the Codex's recommended course of action in response to the Orks' tactics is.
  • The Spartan Way: Taken to utterly ridiculous extremes by the Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. Just look at the page quote.
  • Sphere of Destruction: Eldar wraithcannons and D-cannons and Imperial vortex weapons work this way, neatly removing perfect spheres of matter and sending them straight to hell.
  • Spider Tank: Chaos, specifically Defilers and Brass Scorpions. Necron Tomb Stalkers may also qualify.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Chaos all the way. Dark Eldar go for more of a bladed look, while Orks will mix spikes with blades and add anything else brutal you can think of.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Space Marines in the game as a whole, and the Ultramarines amongst the Space Marines themselves.
  • Spy Catsuit: Several Eldar have one, but it's pretty much standard issue for the Officio Assassinorum agents of the Imperium. Some employ chameleon-like mimicry abilities, others have no special reason for this apart from being Fetish Fuel. In one of the Dark Heresy novels, this tendency is repeatedly lampshaded when several characters can't keep their eyes from the girl-assassin brought up by a rather puritanical sect who would most likely kill them if she had any idea why they looked at her like that.
    • A non-spy variant called a bodyglove is a fairly common type of clothing worn by high-ranking civilians or hired guns. It's typically worn under armor or with other clothes, like jackets or utility harnesses.
  • Squishy Wizard: Played straight by most races' psykers, but subverted by some being real hardcases, such as Tyranid Hive Tyrants (but not Zoanthropes), Space Marine Librarians, Grey Knights and Chaos Daemons. Eldar Farseers are actually tougher than most other Eldar, due to slowly turning into crystal.
  • Stab the Sky: Common pose of characters in artwork; not so much in actual tabletop models these days, unless you pose them that way yourself. Older models did tend to have their swords held high over their heads, due to pewter- and plastic-casting limitations of the time.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Army: Considering its focus on war, every single type of unit conceivable has been used in the games.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet
  • Standard Sci-Fi History: The Imperium and Eldar follow the trope closely. They explored, found aliens, built great empires, and are now falling.
  • Standard Sci Fi Setting: Only painted black and covered in skulls.
  • Standard Time Units: The Imperium officially runs on Terran years, and presumably Terran days onboard starships.
    • Sort of: the Imperial calendar is explicitly based on the Gregorian, but rather than having 365 days, it has 1000 "Days"/"Year Fractions"/"Chronosegments" of roughly 8hrs 45min apiece. If you think of each Chronosegment as a work shift, it makes it easier, especially if a "week" is 20 Chronosegments, and a "month" 100, as you wind up with roughly the same breakdown as the 7/30 you have now. The fluff explicitly has the "Year Fraction" part of the system used only by those who have to deal with lots of different local calendars.
  • Star Killing: The C'tan.
  • The Starscream: Look in any Chaos warband, Ork mob, or Dark Eldar Kabal, and you'll likely find one of these.
    • The Dark Eldar faction is almost made up entirely of these guys. They may work together to ensure the success of a raid, but Kabal members are all constantly trying to claw their way to the top of the pile, and if the guy above them gets killed in a raid, then that just saves them the trouble. There's only one exception: Asdrubael Vect himself, and that's only because he doesn't have a superior to backstab. Of course, many Dark Eldar try to backstab him, but this is Vect we're talking about, so they all fail horribly.
    • And this isn't just from the "evil" factions. This happens shockingly often on Imperial worlds, too.
  • State Sec: The Imperium's secret police are called the Inquisition. It suits them.
  • Status Quo Is God: The huge fate-of-the-galaxy-depends-on-the-outcome-of-this summer global campaigns never seem to change anything. However, 5th Edition advances the plot a couple of hundred years, and the Imperium, though it hasn't collapsed yet, is apparently more screwed than ever before.
  • Stealth Pun There are demonic beasts of the Chaos God of Bloodlust that resemble large canids. So that would make them... wait for it... Khorne dogs.
    • The Ultramarines are a chapter widely regarded as the paragon of devotion other Space Marines should live up to. They wear blue armor and originate from the Ultramar empire, and are NOT named for being objectively more skilled or competent than any other chapter.
  • Stepford Smiler: Nurgle is suspiciously too nice for a god of disease...You should probably turn down any gifts he offers you.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: The God Emperor of Mankind when he was alive.
  • Stout Strength: Generally anything associated with Nurgle gets this treatment. Especially the daemonic servants who the fatter they are, the more powerful they are.
  • Straight for the Commander: Tyranids use synapse creatures as commanders, who relay the Hive Mind's orders to each individual 'nid in range. Taking out a synapse creature (which can best be summed up as "shoot the big ones") causes momentary confusion amid the 'nids, until a synapse creature gets back in range.
    • Tau armies suffer severe morale penalties if their Ethereal leader is slain. A blurb in an Imperial Guard codex credits a Ratling sniper named Magogg with assuring one Imperial victory when he blew an Ethereal's head off.
  • Straw Hypocrite: The Ultramarines, most outspoken supporters of the Codex Astartes, rule over an entire sector despite the Codex explicitly prohibiting Space Marines from ruling more than one homeworld (barring short periods of emergency government). Mind you, they have a 100% Adoration Rating and their realm is unprecedentedly well organised, so they must be doing something right.
    • The whole mini-empire was a united alliance, ruled from Ultramar by Guilliman, before the Empire even got there. They only directly rule one world, it just happens to be the capitol.
      • And as Guilliman actually wrote the Codex, it probably is not against it.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Necrons make wide use of gauss-flayer weapons, which strip the target away layer by molecule-thick layer - although most have so much power that even a single shot usually ends up vaporising the victim whole.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Depending on the writer, the Guard can be filled with competent men and women able to pull their weight against the superhuman enemies of the Imperium or full of redshirts only good for cannon fodder and buying time for the tanks or Space Marines.
    • Note that Imperial regiments probably vary like this, due to varied enrollment/conscription and training methods over the big galaxy.
  • Stupid Evil: Too many examples to list, typically from the Imperium and the Chaos Space Marines. Much of how the Imperium survives seems to come down to the fact that Chaos Space Marines are even dumber, or at least crazier than they are. The Orkz would qualify here as well, if not for the fact that their latent psychic powers actually make being too dumb to realize how stupid and/or insane most of the things they do are an asset.
  • Subspace Ansible: Sending telepathic messages... through hell...
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: C'tan/Necrons, and to a lesser extent the Eldar.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology: High-ranking Eldar may be seen with decorative spears and ribbed body armour, and carry little runes that look like they're made of carved bone in a little pouch - the uselessly impractical looking spear actually projects a force-field that lets it cut through Powered Armor like butter, the mail-looking bodysuits rapidly harden when struck and repair any damage all by themselves, and the little runes are made from a form of reactive living plastic that also acts as a conduit for their immense psychic prowess. Necrons have access to thing like Resurrection Orbs (little glowing crystals that enhance the self-repair protocols of the robotic warriors), Sempiternal Weave (which is a force-field that looks like a scale-mail suit of armour) and various staves. Quite a few of the more esoteric Imperial pieces look deceptively primitive as well, retaining a sort of Renaissance or Victorian aesthetic but leaving modern technology well behind - the boxy Leman Russ looks like something that belongs in the muddy trenches of Northern France, but it handles like a European sports car and would thrash a top-of-the-line Abrams with little trouble.
  • Summon Magic: Summoning daemons.
    • The Eldar and Sisters of Battle get in on the act as well with their Avatars and Living Saints, respectively, though because of the way magic works in 40K the distinction is mostly semantic.
  • Superpower Meltdown: Happens to psykers. A lot.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: The Primarchs and the Space Marines. Also Orks.
  • Super Registration Act: An extremely euphemistic way of describing the treatment of psykers who aren't sacrificed to the Astronomican.
  • Superpowered Mooks: Psykers and those "blessed" by the Chaos gods.
  • Superweapon Surprise: Eldar Maiden worlds and Imperial medieval worlds - Do not touch without a force big enough to repel the reinforcements.
  • Survival Mantra: The many, many little prayers and litanies recited on a regular basis by the Imperials. Often have Chaotic counterparts.
  • Swallowed Whole: Stay away from Mawlocs, because you'll still be alive when you get digested.
  • Sword and Gun: Generally favoured by every somewhat-sentient race in the game for close-quarters combat troops.
  • Synchronisation: Titans and their Princeps, some ships and their captains.

    T 
  • Tactful Translation: This happened to White Dwarf's battle reports. At one point they were blow-by-blow accounts, until a farcical Titan Legions battle report where one side with a Mega-Gargant suffered a ridiculously one-sided defeat against a Space Marine army with no Imperator Titan. Presumably the worry was that they'd made the supplement look bad, so battle reports were changed to a story-like format, presumably for easier "equalising."
  • Tagline: "There is no time for peace. No respite. No forgiveness. There is only WAR!" "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war!"
    • Most of the armies have one as well, like Chaos' "Death to the False Emperor!"
  • Take Cover: Terrain on the table is not just for decoration, as hiding behind a bush can protect you from even anti-tank weaponry (though not flamethrowers).
    • This is because in practical terms cover also represents the firer missing the target due to obscuring, or simply not seeing the target and not firing at all.
  • Take Over the Freaking Galaxy: the Monodominant faction seriously believes that the Imperium should strive for this. Ironically, their inspiration is an ancient work which expounded this theory in order to highlight its impossibility.
  • Taking You with Me: Once again, taken to extremes; a good example would be the Eversor Assassin. When you kill him, his blood explodes with tank-destroying force. All vehicles in the game have a chance of exploding, to the misfortune of everyone around, when destroyed.
    • Lukas of the Space Wolves, in keeping with being an analog for the Norse god of trickery, has this as an actual battle plan. He has a specialized stasis bomb in place of his second heart, rigged to detonate if he dies. As a result, who ever finally slays him will be frozen forever in undying stasis with Lukas's laughing face to look at for eternity.
  • Talk to the Fist: Standard Imperium policy with talkative xenos filth.
  • Tannhäuser Gate
  • Tank Goodness: Naturally, taken Up to Eleven. Every race has its armoured death machines, but honestly the Imperial Guard Armoured Companies are the kings of this trope. TANKS FOR THE TANK GOD, TREADS FOR THE TREAD THRONE!
    • Before the 5e codex, the Iron Warriors were this. Is being able to play with an extra tank not enough for you? How about borrowing Basilisks from the Imperial Guard and Vindicators from the Space Marines?? (At least, now all the Chaos Space Marines can use Vindicators)
  • Tarot Motifs: The Emperor's Tarot. Used seriously for divinition: and it works: and as playing cards.
    • This troper recalls a card game (in-setting) called Hearts and Titans. No idea whether The Emperor's Tarot is used or not though...
  • Technology Marches On: While Schizo Tech has a lot to do with it, it's painfully obvious that none of the factions have equivalents to military tech and strategic advances since the 80s when the game was first made, and most the Vietnam War. Even Tau drones are limited to the same kind of ranges as remote-control planes. Artillery especially seems to be at a WW2 level at best.
  • Technopath: Eldar are and know it, Ork Meks are but don't, and the Adeptus Mechanicus think they are.
  • Techno Wizard: The Adeptus Mechanicus takes the "wizard" part seriously, to boot.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Imperial forces working together with xenos, which has happened in a variety of ways from Worthy Opponent to painfully bad. Indeed, several Imperial forces working with other Imperial forces, such as Space Wolves and Dark Angels, qualify.
      This is sometimes codified: the races are broken up into two super-factions, Order and Disorder (since the punchier antonym for "order" is already taken.) Disorder are everybody's enemies, all the time, especially each other; Order will team up in the face of an overwhelming threat from Disorder, and fight to the death any other time. This is officially codified by the sixth edition Allies chart, which has four settings (ranging from "battle-brothers" to "come the apocalypse, but not before"), with the middle two representing this trope. The main difference is that in the first the factions dislike each other a great deal but are willing to mostly cooperate, while the second is for those who are relentlessly paranoid and keeping an eye on each other in order to spot the coming betrayal so they can fire first.
    • Teeth Clenched Teamwork is the only way the Chaos Gods know how to work together.
  • Tele-Frag: Inverted with units that teleport into the battlefield; due to the Deep Strike rules, accidentally teleporting onto an enemy has a chance of killing you and does nothing to him.
  • Telepathic Spacemen: Imperial Astropaths.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The Imperium has a few of these, though they have the kind of reliability you'd expect when maintenance consists of a lot of chanting and application of sacred oil (and when the actual function involves firing people through hell).
    • A lot of factions, for instance Space Wolves, refuse to use teleporters because they don't trust them; they can't put units down accurately, if the unit even arrives at all.
  • Teleport Interdiction: There are teleport jammers that can disrupt, stop or relocate things that are teleporting down into combat.
  • Temple of Doom:
    • Necron tombs form the majority, although there are (probably) other cases.
    • Chaos and Dark Eldar leaders have been known to consecrate temples to themselves...where "consecrate" means "decorate with skins and spikes".
  • Tempting Apple: Leman Russ is looking for apples from the Tree of Life to get the Emperor back on his feet. He's been looking for ten damn millenia.
  • Ten Thousand Years: The more recent catastrophic events in Warhammer 40K happened around the thirtieth millenia, 10,000 years earlier (the Fall of the Eldar and the rise of Chaos). The people who were alive back then (Asdrubael Vect, Ezekyle Abaddon) are noted to be among the most dangerous people in the galaxy.
  • Terror Hero:
    • Several characters rely on this. Like Konrad Kurze, who as the Night Haunter was 40K's amalgamation of Batman and The Punisher.
    • Tyranid Lictors are infiltrators, turning invisible and leaving bloody dismembered corpses to demoralize enemies.
    • Sly Marbo is the Imperial Guard's version, a Catachan with major PTSD who fights in the jungle as well as Rambo.
  • That's No Moon: Necron tomb-complexes tend to look relatively small and innocuous at first...then they're revealed to be much, much bigger, and often occupied by their builders.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Why do things keep getting worse and the factions less sympathetic? Inertia and because the writers say so.
  • There Are No Therapists: Because those who need them are weak, and thereby not worth the resources and time to fix it. There are many to take their place, anyway.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Standard operating procedure for the Imperium. Justified in that there are some things you'll want to kill really quickly in this universe, and some things you want to stay very dead.
    • Generally the only way to permently kill a Necron. As Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) found out, the best way to stop a Necron Army is to pour 8 MILLION GALLONS OF PROMETHIUM on them and light the match.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: This is a mindset heavily encouraged by those in the Imperial power structure that actually do know those things—keeping the population ignorant of what's really out there is the safest bet. Also, deep knowledge of Chaos will corrupt and/or drive insane all but the most strong-willed of humans, and could even lead to daemonic incursions, so such knowledge is brutally repressed and censured.
  • This Is a Drill: Corvus assault pods for Titans, the bizarre-yet-cool mole mortar.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Chaos tends to have this effect on the mind - goes double for psykers. SANITY IS FOR THE WEAK!
  • Throwaway Galaxy: The Tyranids have literally eaten empty three entire galaxies and they apparently think the Milky Way will make an interesting dessert.
    • Everyday a planet is destroyed either by exterminatus, devoured by Tyranids, culled by Necrons...
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: The 5th edition Imperial Guard codex does this for Imperial Guard players.
    • I will see your Imperial Guard and raise you a Dark Eldar. After TWELVE. FUCKING. YEARS. They FINALLY got an update. And while it won't be outdoing Grey Knights any time soon, what an update it was.
    • Inverted for Chaos Space Marines. They spent most of third edition as an incredibly dangerous force, then got the fourth edition codex, which removed the legions as anything other than a paint job, removed most of their customisation and nerfed most of what remained.
    • And of course, played straight and inverted for Chaos Space Marines in the thirteenth Black Crusade. After thirteen tries, Chaos wins the campaign and takes Cadia. Then Games Workshop retcons it so they only have a foothold on the planet.
  • Tiered by Name: Tyranid units that are stronger than usual are usually referred to as "Unit's Name" Prime.
  • Time Abyss: Most Eldar, but a few ancient Marines and Chaos Marines cross into this trope as well. The Dreadnoughts are prominent even among the Marines: the oldest one of them has seen the Emperor and fought by his side in life, which is almost 11 000 years from current in-universe time. Truth be told, though, Necrons own this. The C'tan are outright stated to be the oldest living things in the universe, and the actual Necron race is ancient on par with the Old Ones themselves. The Necrons and C'Tan are actually old enough that they have to periodically wake up and move their tomb worlds when the stars they orbit die.
  • Tin Tyrant: Pretty much every commander wears a high tech suit of armor. Artwork of Khorne and the Emperor also has them fall under this.
  • Tiny-Headed Behemoth: Depending on the Artist, this will happen to the Space Marines (who are never seen outside their Power Armor), especially if they go overboard with the Shoulders of Doom.
    • Also, the biggest tau battlesuits like the Riptide have the same heads as battlesuits half their size. It's not the pilot's actual head anyway.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Imperial Guard went from the whipping boys of the entire setting to the utterly terrifying gods of mechanised combat in the space of one codex.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Black Library is an entire extradimensional stronghold full of these. See also the Book of Lorgar.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Not always a good thing...in fact, almost never a good thing. Partly because you're liable to get nailed to a stick and purged with flame if you get touched by any alien...or listen to them...or look at them...or live in the same general area as someone who looked at them...and Emperor help you if someone on your planet was engaged in a Chaos Cult.
  • Touch of Death: Mainly used by C'tan and daemons, but the odd high-power psyker has been known to do this.
  • Tournament Play: The kind of competition at a 40k Grand Tournament is enough to give the casual player horrible nightmares. Quite appropriate for the setting.
  • Training from Hell: Pretty much the only training there is. The only way they can top it is by having people trained ''inside'' the universe's hell.
  • Training The Gift Of Magic: The powers possessed by psykers aren't called "magic", but they might as well be. Psykers are randomly born, but they have a very strong tendency to get possessed by demons if not found and trained by the Imperium, a process that takes years and is extremely detrimental to the psyker's mental health (and since being a psyker involves hearing voices pretty much all the time, they aren't all that great to begin with).
  • Tranquil Fury: Usually this or an Unstoppable Rage.
    • Given what they know about Chaos (especially Khorne), Space Marines and Eldar try to fight in this state.
  • Translation Convention: "Low Gothic", the common language of the Imperium, is presented as English, while "High Gothic" is rendered in Pseudo-Latin. Ork language is generally shown as English with a Funetik Aksent, and is sometimes explicitly said to be pidgin Low Gothic. Depending on the context, nonhuman languages are either translated as English, or shown to need interpreters.
  • Treachery Cover Up: Most of the Imperium's citizenry don't know anything about the Horus Heresy, including the fact that fully half of the Space Marine Legions rebelled against the Emperor.
  • Trivial Title: Warhammer 40,000 was originally just Warhammer Recycled IN SPACE!, but now the franchises are noticeably different. Warhammers are still used, but just by certain characters of a faction or two, and the current present is the very beginning of the 42nd millennium (much as they retcon things back).
  • Troll: Tzeentch along with many of his high level servants mortal and daemon alike.
    • The Necron Lord Trazyn the Infinite once crushed an Imperial Guard invasion force and sent a letter to the Inquisitor who sent the force, thanking him for "gifting" the regiments to him.
  • Tron Lines: Necron technology.
  • Trope 2000: ...wait, why settle for two when you can have 40?
  • Troperrific: Ya think?
  • Tsundere: 1d4 chan's interpretation of Commander Shadowsun(dere), a female Tau general. Pretty much completely unsupported by canon, but funny nonetheless.
  • Tunnel King: The Tyranids have tunneling creatures with the size and power of tanks.
  • Turn-Based Strategy: The chaotic and frantic battles of the 40th millennium still need to be represented on the tabletop by one side using movement, shooting, then assault phase, followed by the other player's movement, shooting, then assault phase, and so on.

    U 
  • Übermensch: The Emperor himself.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Nurgle and Isha.
  • Ultimate Evil: The Emperor and the Chaos Gods all get this treatment to varying degrees.
  • Ungovernable Galaxy: The Imperium has minimal control over planets. Only the Tau really manage it with restricted range and powerful controls.
  • Unholy Nuke: The game is full of these. Any time Chaos is involved, expect Unholy Nukes to be flying thick and fast.
  • The Unmasqued World: The realisation that daemons actually existed was the death knell for Imperial Truth, and helped kick-start the Horus Heresy.
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: All Imperial ships. Also covered in religious iconography and kilometres-high skulls-and-eagles gold bling.
  • Unobtainium: Plenty of it; Wraithbone, Necrodermis and Adamantine are the widest used examples.
  • Unpredictable Results: Anything connected to the Warp or Ork technology. Represented ingame by psykers suffering "perils of the warp" attacks and more esoteric Orky wargear having its own tables of random effects. Ork psykers are beyond random, rolling just to see what completely-unpredictable power they get...every turn.
    • Weapons and effects that use scatter rules (typically big artillery pieces, and troops that deep strike to enter the battlefield) can impact well away from the intended targets, even on to their own troops or in dangerous terrain.
    • Plasma guns are powerful weapons that are able to fry even Space Marine Terminators. The problem is, they also tend to fry their operators rather a lot...
  • The Unpronounceable: Tau names can get hard to pronounce - but ask any Battlefleet Gothic player about Tau ship names...
  • Unreliable Canon: Both In-Universe and out, misinformation and plain lack of information is visible at all levels of classification. For example, in order to avoid lowering morale anymore than it already is, the Imperial Guardsman's Uplifting Primer states that orks are cowards who will flee at the first opportunity and whose teeth can be yanked out (orks are eight-foot-tall killing machines who embody Attack! Attack! Attack!) or that the Tau (the army dedicated to ranged firepower) have bad eyesight and can't see things that don't move. And as most of the information on other races comes from a xenophobic human point of view, what information is canon may not necessarily be true. Out of universe, you can create your own highly specific army with its own backstory and design (most popularly, Space Marines) precisely because of this Unreliable Canon.
  • Unusual User Interface: A lot of Eldar and Imperial gear.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Black Templars. Blood Angels. Khorne Berserkers. Even Eldar, when the Avatar is nearby.
  • Unwanted False Faith: The God Emperor didn't wish to be worshiped and banned any practice of it in the earlier days of the Imperium. There is also a small sect that worships Ciaphas Cain as the embodied will of the Emperor although Cain has never heard of it.
  • Up to Eleven: Everything. And often to twelve, thirteen and several over nine forty thousand.
  • Urban Segregation: Taken to utter extremes with hive cities.
  • Used Future: Again, taken to extremes. Almost all of the current technology and equipment being used by the Imperium is thousands of years old, and much of it they can't even make any more.
    • Human tech is so old and outdated that Orks can copy them. They can't do that with the Eldar or the Tau.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Blast weapons can sometimes fall into this. Many are extremely powerful (particularly the massive vehicle-mounted Ordnance weapons), but their tendency to scatter off-target makes them unreliable, particularly if your troops have low Ballistic Skill (which makes the blast scatter farther) or you just tend to roll poorly.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Orks (usually). But also... Chaos Space Marines, Dark Eldar, Necrons, Tyranids...
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: For the Greater Good!

    V 
  • Vader Breath: Because of the wildly differing techlevel of the setting, cybernetic lungs can work perfectly well and even better than the natural ones - or they may let the recipient do an unwilling Vader-impersonation, which is not practical when you're trying to be stealthy.
  • Villain by Default: Upon close inspection, everyone.
  • Violence is the Only Option: No comment necessary.
    • Sometimes Subverted when a more complex narrative, such as a campaign background or a novel, plays out and explores the relationships between the factions. More often than not becoming a Double Subversion, as politics and alliances usually break down, changing the question from "violence or not" to "how much violence" or "when the violence starts".

    W 
  • Walking Tank: Dreadnoughts, in all flavors except the Wraithlord (a.k.a. the Eldar Dreadnought), as well as Defilers. Soul Grinders, considering their esoteric nature, sit in a more gray area.
  • Warfare Regression: Melee comes back to dominance, though no single explanation is given. One is that Power Armor provides enhanced protection, allowing such close ranged combat. Another is that combat is often in cover rich or urban environments, in order to avoid naval bombardment.
  • War God: Khorne for Chaos and Khaine for the Eldar.
    • The God Emperor of Mankind probably counts as well.
    • And of course Gork and Mork.
  • The War Has Just Begun: Countering the Gotterdammerung of the Eldar and Imperium, increasingly heavy hints have been dropped that the Necrons are just beginning to wake up for their galaxy-wide omnicidal spree and the Tyranid Hive Fleets have barely started to turn their attention on our galaxy.
  • War Is Hell: For most races, most of the time. Occasionally, however...
  • Warrior Monk: Sisters of Battle are the most blatant example. Numerous but a relative few Ecclesiarchs may fit into this trope. Space Marines, including the more devout Chaos Marines, have shades of this; many Loyalist chapters are a militant and monastic order, but the Warrior part has far greater emphasis for obvious reasons.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Bombardment Guns, Nova Cannons, the appropriately-named Planet Killer, etc...
  • We Are as Mayflies: Eldar are immortal; so, biologically, are Space Marines and Orks, though their entire lives being devoted to war somewhat gets in the way of that. Nobody's found anything that can stop the Necrons getting back up.
    • It is worth mentioning that in at least one case in the novels the Necrons in question had been partially vaporized and the remainder was a little puddle of liquid metal on the ground. They still managed to teleport back to their base for repairs. It's also hinted at that, up until this point, not a single Necron has been truly "destroyed" (with the possible exception of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade). This is in contrast to everyone else, who usually suffer casualties in the 7 figures on an hourly basis.
    • Thie trope was the Necrontyr's motivation for becoming the Necrons in the first place. They would die very young due to the intense radiation from their sun.
    • Averted by the Tau. They're pretty short-lived, with fifty years being considered ancient to them. They're painfully aware of this.
    • Averted more so by the lesser Tyranid creatures, being grown during a 100-day invasion and digested back into biological gruel at the end of it. Most aren't even born with a digestive tract, as they weren't expected to live long enough to starve.
  • We Are Everywhere: The Inquisition.
  • We Are Team Cannon Fodder: Kroot for the Tau, Imperial Guard anytime they aren't the protagonists, Gretchin for the Orks, everyone else for the Eldar.
  • We Have Reserves: Basically the Catch Phrase of the Orks and Imperial Guard. Tyranids take this to such an extreme that their Mooks don't even have digestive systems - they are created, sent into battle for a few hours of frenzied combat, and then recycled.
    • Inverted with the Craftworld Eldar. They're a Dying Race, so they do everything they can to avoid this. Although, then again, that doesn't mean they can't manipulate someone else into being their reserves.
  • We Will All Fly in the Future: Numerous units have flight capabilities, usually either via a Jet Pack or by flying wings.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Health care for military veterans and Imperial nobles is so good that just about anything short of having one's brain destroyed is survivable. Spectacular advances in surgery and augmetic enhancements allow just about anyone to live for two hundred years or more, and that's assuming you don't splurge on a mechanical coffin that can preserve you for millennia. Of course, if you're not a veteran or noble, this trope is averted.
  • We Will Use Lasers in the Future:
    • The Imperial Guard uses lasguns primarily because they're cheap to manufacture, easy to maintain (having no moving parts), and the power packs are rechargeable virtually anywhere.note  They're also the weakest infantry weapon in the setting despite being more potent than a modern-day assault rifle. The more powerful hellguns are harder to come by and primarily issued to stormtrooper units. On the other end of the scale, lascannons are extremely powerful weapons typically mounted on main battle tanks and the like, used for destroying opposing armored vehicles.
    • The tau also arm their infantry with energy weapons, but thanks to the tau advantages in tech these are some of the deadliest man-portable weapons in the setting. Tau infantry weapons fire droplets of superheated plasma that expand as they travel, and are capable of destroying light vehicles.
    • The Eldar and Dark Eldar also use laser weapons, ranging from the Lasblaster (basically a Lasgun with a better firing rate) to the Void Lance or the Prism Cannon (basically Lascannons that make vehicles with AV higher than 12 counts as 12) and everything in between.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: As an example, gigantic anti-ship missiles with onboard reactors and homing AIs are loaded with the back-breaking labour of thousands of deckhands. Using ropes. While being whipped.
    • That's nothing. Orks use Gretchin as guidance systems in their giant missiles.
      • That's nothing. The imperials (and Chaos) use slaves to power their ships, by walking on giant stepped axles.
  • Weaponized Offspring: The Tyranid's Tervigon unit spawns Termagants.
  • Weapon of Choice
    • The Imperial Guard almost universally tote laser weapons and tanks. Lots and lots of tanks.
    • The Space Marines favour bolt weapons and chainsaws.
    • The Chaos Space Marines prefer spiky bolt weapons and chainsaws. Various specific cults have sonic weapons, chainsaw axes, and pus as their Weapons of Choice.
    • The Daemonhunters (Ordo Malleus) have a bit of a thing for hammers. (As a side note, "Ordo Malleus" means "Order of the Hammer")
    • The Eldar mainly use absurdly sharp shuriken weapons, though individual Aspect temples have their own ritualised Weapons of Choice.
    • The Witch Hunters Kill It With FIRE.
    • No Ork is happy without his choppa and his dakka. Except if they pass up one for more of the other.
    • The Necrons kill you with green lightning that literally flays you layer by layer. Except when they tear you apart with claws and wear sheets of your flesh for a hat.
    • The Tau stick to mere railguns and pulse rifles. Extremely powerful ones at that.
    • The Tyranids prefer the tactic of jumping on you and eating your face. When they're not doing that, they're shooting at you with the usual array of toxic, electrified, high-velocity crystals; angry, life-seeking beetles and brain-eating flesh-borer worms; biologically generated plasma; and, occasionally, dragging you screaming to your doom with lengths of flesh hooks.
  • Weird Science
  • Weird Sun: Given the liberal amounts of Eldritch Abominations that inhabit the galaxy, it's pretty much a given that some of them will mess with a planet's sun. Or sometimes be the sun. The Tyrant Star is a notable example.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Tau. The "well intentioned" bit is what sets them apart.
    • The Imperium, and the Emperor who created it, could be seen as this. They have committed many, many crimes and exist in several grey areas, but by their efforts, they have created an empire whose subjects can live a life free of Chaos, and even achieve a paradise in death. That's right: an Empire so big it loses entire worlds due to clerical errors, which practices genocide, torture, and murder on a daily basis, whose religion emphasizes hate for aliens and fanatical devotion for its figurehead and puts people to the stake for the slightest bit of doubt... is the best place to live in this galaxy. Think about that.
    • The Craftworld Eldar are trying to save their dwindling people from extinction. That's fine. What's not fine is they don't care how many of your people they have to kill or sacrifice to save theirs.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Several primarchs. Giving up on that was one motive to join the Horus Heresy.
  • Wetware CPU: Servitors, in all their various flavors.
  • We Will Wear Armour In The Future: Every army. Space Marines have the aforementioned Power Armor, Tau and Eldar have full body covering plate armour, and the Imperial Guard have flak jackets (though unfortunately for the Guard, nearly every faction in the game has basic weaponry that can punch straight through their personal armor, which earns Guard flak such unkind nicknames as "t-shirts" and "cardboard vests").
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Although, to be fair, pretty much every other race sees those not of its kind as worthless too.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: The Imperial Guard. When all you have is men and tanks...a lot of men and tanks... The Imperial Guard has been even referred to as 'The Hammer of the Emperor'.
  • Whip It Good:
    • Fetish Fuel examples: Dark Eldar Agonisers and Sisters of Battle "Mistresses"
    • Very non-fetishy: Arco-Flagellants.
    • Chaos has a psychic power called Lash of Submission. Guess which god it's associated with.
    • Ork runtherdz often carry grot prods and whips.
  • White Hair, Black Heart:
    • Pre-Heresy Fulgrim.
    • Lucius.
  • The White House: The Imperial Palace, which is said to cover most of Europe and to be visible from Mars.
  • White Magic: Sisters of Battle Acts of Faith...maybe.
  • White Mask of Doom: Chaplains and their skull helms.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Everyone else's thoughts about Guard players when the Guard finally got a good codex.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: The Sisters of Battle or the Inquisition, generally, including the Grey Knights and the Deathwatch. Calling might get you killed, but not calling will often have worse results.
  • With Catlike Tread: "Recite the Litany of Stealth to reduce your chances of being heard."
  • With My Hands Tied: Just about everyone, hence why more...exotic...measures are commonly employed.
  • Winged Humanoid: As well as troops in the Eldar, Dark Eldar and Chaos who use "jump packs" with mechanical wings, there are examples of humanoids with actual wings. The Primarch Sanguinius, known as "the Angel", had perfect white wings, and the Battle Sisters' Living Saint manifests them as part of being a saint. Of course, this being 40k, the Angel was a vampiric demigod who fought giant blood daemons.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: And with that insanity comes even more power!
  • With Us or Against Us: The Imperium, the Tau. The rest generally don't even bother to ask, and even the Imperium generally only bothers to ask if you're human.
  • A Wizard Did It: The Warp did it. Or the Eldar. Or the C'tan Deceiver. Or Tzeentch.
  • Wolverine Claws: Lightning Claws are this combined with Power Fist. Generally they are only distributed to Terminator Marines.
  • Womb Level: The interior of Tyranid hiveships.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • The Thousand Sons.
    • The Night Haunter.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Life on board Imperial Fleet ships is this trope Recycled IN SPACE!.
  • The Worf Effect: New races or factions are commonly introduced in the background completely dominating Space Marines. One particularly memorable example has a Necron destroyer firing straight through a near-invulnerable Land Raider tank, accompanied by an After Action Report of tech-priests talking about the obscene amount of power required to do such a thing.
    • The Worf Barrage: Often used as part of the above.
    • The Imperial Guard (or at least the infantry not driving their glorious tanks) are this incarnate. The standard Guardsman is equipped with a Flak Jacket/Helmet that are as close to impervious against civilian/low-level-military firearms as you can get without carrying a six foot tall steel plate around in front of you; they are also armed with lasguns which are every bit as accurate as you would expect a laser to be, and (realistically) function by superheating the air at the target point with microsecond oscillations that cause a small explosion, good enough to remove limbs or a head with one shot. And again, those are the STANDARD Guardsman, of whom there are billions. No "standard" army could hope to stand against them, really... But compared to the rest of the PLAYABLE armies in the game, these astounding bits of weaponry and armor are derided as flashlights and t-shirts.
    • I'll take your Imperial Guard and raise you the Eldar. Want to introduce a new character and present them as super-duper awesome? No problem! Make them beat up an Avatar of Khaine, lead forces against an Eldar warhost and CurbStomp them, or wipe out an entire Craftworld single-handedly! Games Workshop approved!
    • Practically every story involving the Sisters of Battle results in them getting slaughtered by something. It happens so often that some fans have accused Games Workshop of misogyny.
  • World Gone Mad: Creeps into this territory at times - the universe is a Crapsack World taken to such a ludicrous extent that one sometimes wonders if the setting hasn't well and truly lost its marbles.
  • World Half Empty: Played straight with the Imperium, which struggles to maintain its slowly slipping grasp on galactic supremacy and survival, and the Craftworld Eldar, who are struggling to survive the galaxy. The Tau appear to avert this trope, but there are hints that things aren't going so smoothly. Averted by everyone else, where the sky is the limit.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: "World" meaning the entire galaxy. Or just any world chosen at random.
  • World of Ham: INDEED!
    • It is a shame the Tag Line isn't as exclamatory as it is on the Laconic page. It'd be even more self-explanatory.
  • World of Badass: If there is indeed only war, it would make only the Badass survive. Well, it's generally 'survive for a bit longer...'
  • Wreathed in Flames: The Legion of the Damned Space Marines, who are like this in all depictions. How much is up to the artist ranging from just their greaves and shoulder-pads (as is on the models and some official artwork) to being completely wreathed in flames in many artworks.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • The "Underhive" in hive cities always qualifies - sometimes the entire arcology, with its population of billions.
    • Commorragh of the Dark Eldar would make Mos Eisley shudder in fear.

    X 

    Y 
  • You Are Not Ready: Common Eldar sentiment to humans. The most common reply is a bolt shell to the face.
  • You Have Failed Me: Regularly used by Chaos, Orks and Imperial Commissars.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
  • Your Head A Splode: When a psychic Mind Rape is a bit too subtle. Ork Weirdboyz even used to have a power called "'Eadbang", which is exactly what it sounds like. An 'Eadbang is also how the Orks refer to what happens when a Weirdboy suffers Perils of the Warp. Just guess what happens...
  • You Keep Using That Word: A lot of people, and even media for the game itself, refers to the Space Marines as being "genetically enhanced". Actual game-fluff makes it clear that this is inaccurate; "bio-augmented" would fit better. A Space Marine is created by surgically implanting artificially engineered organs into their body; though some of these do play havoc with the Marine's body-chemistry (the Ossmodula, for example, which causes the skeleton's dramatic mutation), no actual tinkering with the DNA occurs. This is intentional, since it allows the Space Marines to skirt around that religiously mandated "no tinkering with Man's Holy Genetic Code" law — from a genetic viewpoint, a Space Marine is still perfectly human.
    • The confusion is probably the result of the term "geneseed" being thrown around; this is apparently the clone cells needed to grow new copies of the various bio-implants needed to make new Marines, but it still implies an actual genetic modification.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The hierarchies of the Orks, Dark Eldar, and Chaos tend to work this way: if you succeed in killing the previous Warboss/Archon/Chaos Lord, the former officeholder clearly didn't deserve the job.

    Z 
  • Zeppelins from Another World: The Squats had ironclad airships.
  • Zerg Rush: Tyranids - unsurprisingly, as the Zerg themselves were based on them. A lot of "horde" armies, such as Orks and Imperial Guard, employ this one as well. The Imperial Guard is probably the single most emblematic example; as the largest fighting force around, numbering in the billions, you get so many of them.
    • Previously Tyranids were given a rule that allowed them to recycle their basic troopers, the Termagaunts, whenever the squad is wiped out. This has since been toned down and a less broken version was introduced in the form of the Tervigon, a mobile birthing sac which can run out of eggs as soon as the battle starts. It is again reintroduced in the Imperial Guard in the form of Special Character Commander Chenkov, where the rule is literally named "Send in the next wave!".
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • After occasionally menacing the depths of Necromunda, plague zombies cropped up in force during the 13th Black Crusade, courtesy of Nurgle. Dark Heresy introduces many more new and exciting ways for characters to find themselves up to their eyeballs in shambling dead.
    • And there's another kind in The Bleeding Chalice, where it's all the fault of a super-mutant produced by a Techpriest experiment on cleansing mutations, and who can psychically create viruses through ship hulls and hard vacuum that have this effect. His main battlecruiser is essentially intended as a massive drop assault ship that breaks apart and spews down a ridiculous number of zombies, making the first air drop Zombie Apocalypse.
    • In addition, under the new Chaos Space Marine Codex, you can turn Chaos Cultists into zombies if you take a certain special character, allowing you to turn the game into this.


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