Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Dune

Go To

Character page for the Dune franchise.

Separate character pages:

    open/close all folders 

House Atreides and Supporters

The good guys. Mostly.

    Leto Atreides 

Duke Leto Atreides

Played by: Jürgen Prochnow (1984 film), William Hurt (2000 miniseries), Oscar Isaac (2021 film)

The head of House Atreides at the start of the first book. A popular and compassionate leader, Leto is reassigned from his lush homeworld and dukedom, Caladan, to the desert planet of Arrakis. Through his concubine Lady Jessica, he is father to Paul Atreides.

  • Ambiguously Brown: He's said to have a dark olive complexion, and so Paul is implied to be as well due to their Strong Family Resemblance. Plus he (and Paul) has black hair and hawkish features, which coupled with his name brings the Mediterranean to mind.
  • 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.
  • Big Good: Often presented this way. He had his flaws and blinkers, but mostly lived up to the hype.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Why he can't marry Jessica. Staying eligible for an alliance by marriage is the one reason the other Houses show him goodwill.
  • Dead Man Walking: From the moment he had his ancestral seat taken from him and then was given the "promotion" of Arrakis, a timer started ticking. It was clear his cousin, the Emperor, wanted him dead. And everybody knew it.
  • 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. However, characters in-universe speculate on how much of the Duke's attitude is genuine concern, a calculated ploy to win loyalty or the Duke trying to be calculating but Becoming the Mask.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Like his surname, 'Leto' is Greek in origin, and best known from the goddess Leto, mother of Artemis and Apollo.
  • Gilded Cage: Arrakis, and on a smaller scale the Governor's mansion (which is encased with shields).
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Revered as one of the empire's more righteous leaders even by the emperor himself. Long after he's passed many look to follow his example. Even as house Atreidies becomes more morally compromised he's looked back on as the symbol of a more noble time for the house. In Children of Dune Leto II notes that his ancestors fight within him and that one of the loudest is Leto who continues to combat Baron Harkonnen.
  • 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!
  • The Patriarch: Of the chunk of the Atreides that, well, we primarily follow.
  • 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: He's a caring man under the stern surface, a decent administrator, quite balanced, decisive when needed, a fine field commander... And, therefore, seen as a direct threat to the ruling House Corrino.
  • 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.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Foreshadowed in a very lampshaded way, even, with that lion trophy that takes ages to hang properly. He did not go down easy.
  • 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.


Lady Jessica

Played by: Francesca Annis (1984 film), Saskia Reeves (2000 miniseries), Alice Krige (2003 miniseries), Rebecca Ferguson (2021 film)

Leto's beloved concubine and Paul's mother. The cunning and observant Jessica is a member of the Bene Gesserit, an order of women with mysterious powers who pull strings behind the scenes to further their agenda.

  • Abusive Parents: Reverend Mother Mohiam was a mother figure to Jessica during her childhood and was secretly her biological mother as revealed in the prequels. 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: Her powers are carefully hidden.
  • 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.
  • Fallen Princess: Mixed with a lot of scapegoating. The Bene Gesserit hierarchy were not pleased when she chose to have a Paul instead of a Pauline. From that point on, they have a habit of blaming her for anything related to that snowball. It takes centuries for them to admit in just how many ways the Order failed both her and itself.
  • Happily Married: Sort of; both she and Leto consider themselves married in all but name. 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.
  • Lady of War: Bene Gesserit — training Athenas is what they do. Worse, a "wild" Reverend Mother. Even worse: a tailored genetic blend of Harkonnen-Atreides meeting Spice.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Paul's vision reveals Jessica to be the daughter of the Baron Harkonnen. Neither she herself nor the Baron knew of it.
  • 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 Ass-Kicking: 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. And considering that they (the Bene Gesserit) have bounced back 5,000 years later and - despite their history of political machinations and backstabbing - are basically the Big Good faction that stands between humanity and oblivion towards the end of the series, it's indeed a good question whether it would have been better had they had their way instead of the Atreides'..
  • Out Living Ones Offspring: It causes her no small amount of pain when Paul and Alia die. She even outlived her first grandson as well.
  • Rebellious Princess: Rebelling against the Bene Gesserit, that is. It takes the Order centuries to admit that she kind of, might have, maybe... had a point.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Unbeknownst to Leto at the time of his death, Jessica was pregnant with his daughter.
  • Spanner in the Works: Her decision to have a son instead of a daughter ends throwing a catastrophic wrench in the Bene Gesserit's plans — Paul, as a male child of the Harkonnen and Atreides bloodlines, becomes the Kwisatz Haderach a generation early and launches a campaign that drastically alters the galaxy.
  • The Vamp: The Bene Gesserit specifically bred and trained her to be one. However, Jessica didn't used her wiles on Leto as she could have. Thing is... breeding empathic vamps to suit your designs means that they're likely to be highly empathic. And, react in response.

    Paul Atreides 

Paul Atreides

Played by: Kyle MacLachlan (1984 film), Alec Newman (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Timothée Chalamet (2021 film)

Leto's son and heir, who is fifteen at the beginning of Dune. Already a young man with massive genetic potential, Paul has been trained in weaponry, the ways of the mentats, and the Bene Gesserits. As a result, he displays intelligence and prescience beyond his years, which makes several people wonder if he may be a prophesied Chosen One.

  • The Ace: Partly by nature, with a very large slice of nurture. He's been trained both as a mentat and also in the Bene Gesserit's methods, such as weirding way, and his natural talent surprises every expert he comes into contact with.
  • Abdicate the Throne: After being overwhelmed with the death of Chani and the harrowing future that he feared, he leaves the throne after his twins were born and as per Fremen tradition, he walks toward the desert alone after he was blinded by a stone-burner during a failed assassination attempt. His sister, Alia, becomes regent for his children.
  • Anti-Hero: Deconstruction of The Chosen One aside, he becomes more cold and calculating after his Kwisatz Haderach powers starts emerging and he treats Irulan with contempt just because she is the daughter of Emperor Corrino. And he starts a jihad to save mankind from stagnation, although he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment when the Fremen go too far and begin decimating planets that resist his rule.
  • 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.
  • Back from the Dead: In Hunters of Dune.
  • Badass Preacher: As "the Preacher."
  • Blessed with Suck: While at first he seems like a near-perfect hero destined for great and noble deeds, he's tormented by the visions of the future that he can't prevent, he deeply regrets the massacres caused by his rise to power, and 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 assassination attempt, sees everyone he knows massacred (except his mother) and is forced to fight a grown man to the death. This happens in 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.
  • Character Death: He dies in Children of Dune, stabbed to death by one of the priests who worship him as a god.
  • The Chosen One: Deconstructed Character Archetype to the point of It Sucks to Be the Chosen One. While Paul does have phenomenal abilities thanks to his genes and does fulfil all the prophecies the Fremen had about him, those prophecies were put in place by other hands and Paul hijacks them in order to survive and get his revenge, and the Fremen's religious zeal becomes a power into itself that Paul cannot control. As a result, the Fremen start a jihad in Paul's name across the galaxy.
  • 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, by relying on his visions of the future.
  • Fallen Princess: Male example in the latter half of Dune. At the beginning, he's the well-off and educated heir to his father's dukedom. By the halfway point, his father has been unseated and killed, and he and his mother are on the run in the desert with only meagre supplies and their wits to keep them alive. Once they fall in with the Fremen, however, he unlocks his psychic potential and is able to rally his way to the highest status in the galaxy.
  • 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, since they don't bother to learn the language. To the Fremen his name means "Wise in the ways of the desert"note  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.
  • 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.
  • 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, an unlimited prescientist, 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.
  • Heir-In-Law: Becomes the new Padishah Emperor by marrying the current one's eldest daughter.
  • 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.
  • Irony: The Fremen believed in his infallibility and committed jihad in his name. After taking the anonymous name of The Preacher and railing against his own divinity, he is stabbed to death by one of the very priests who proclaim his ascendance.
  • Lonely at the Top: After Paul's rise to power, his mother, sister and Chani are probably the only three people who know the man, instead of the semi-divine messiah.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Defied. Paul's official biographer points out that a lot of people assume Paul was this. Said biographer points out that while Paul had no friends of the same age because of the security risks involved, he had close and warm relationships with his tutors Thufir Hawat, Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck, and while Leto and Jessica were not as present as they could have been (which is understandable, they were the ruling couple of a planet, after all), they were very much loving and supportive parents.
  • Magnetic Hero: Why the Fremen decide to follow him.
  • Meaningful Name: Muad'dib comes from the Arabic word for "teacher"
  • Mighty Whitey: Justified in-universe in that the legends which assure his ascendancy were deliberately planted in the local culture, ages ago, and Paul and his mother hijack them in order to survive the downfall of their House.
  • 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.
  • Omniscient Hero: As with all other heroic tropes associated with him, Paul is questionable on the "hero" part. But once he awakens his enormous prescience he is virtually a Trope Codifier.
  • Omniscient Morality License: In Dune and Dune Messiah, Paul pretty heavily leans on his prescience as a justification for his actions, even when his actual motives are personal. He eventually comes to regret this bitterly and, as the Preacher, denounces what he himself built.
  • Papa Wolf: The death of his first son extinguishes any thoughts of mercy he had towards the Harkonnens.
  • Psychic Powers: Being the Kwisatz Haderach grants him prescience, an unlimited version of the spice trance. His eventually grows so powerful that he doesn't even need his eyes to see the world. He also seems to be able to perform the Bene Gesserit mental link, doing it once to meld his mind with Jessica's.
  • 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 into 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; he regrests that Stilgar, who was once his friend, has become his worshipper.
  • 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.
  • Turbulent Priest: In Children of Dune, he appears as the Preacher, thundering against the corruption of the Empire and he is ultimately killed for it.
  • The Usurper: By the end of the first book, he takes the throne of the Imperium by marrying the eldest daughter, Princess Irulan Corrino, while sending her father into exile. Though there are some legitimate claims where his father, Duke Leto, is a distant cousin of the emperor. In the sequel, his ascension earned him many enemies who conspired to get rid of him with a justified reason: his fanatical followers started a galactic-wide Jihad in his name which caused a lot of death and destruction.
  • 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).
  • Young Conqueror: Defeats House Harkonnen and becomes emperor when he is still a teenager.
  • Younger Than He Looks: While as a teenager he looked quite young for his age by Children of Dune years of living in the desert as The Preacher has aged him considerably. It's part of why his friends and family have trouble figuring out if Paul really is the Preacher and when he finally meets Gurney the narration notes that Paul looks even older than him.
  • Zen Survivor: A "living in secrecy version" in Children of Dune.

    Leto Atreides II 

God-Emperor Leto Atreides II

Played by: James McAvoy (2003 miniseries)

The son and heir of Paul. Perhaps an even more powerful psychic than his father.
  • Achilles' Heel: Water, in large amounts.
  • 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. Though it's not entirely clear whether that's as terrible as other applications of this trope.
  • Anti-Hero: Leto wants to help humanity, but the way he does it is pretty brutal.
  • Anti-Villain: What he sees himself as, and what he becomes in the end.
  • Arc Words: "The Golden Path."
  • Big Bad: Despite being the main protagonist of God Emperor of Dune, he himself is the source of the novel's conflict.
  • Bodyguard Babes: He created the Fish Speakers to be his bodyguards and enforcers; after the Scattering, they became the Honored Matres.
  • Body Horror: He transforms himself into a sandworm/human hybrid.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When he becomes the God Emperor, decades may pass without him noticing.
  • Brother–Sister Team: With Ghanima.
  • The Chessmaster: Due to his prescience and intelligence, he is able to craft a millennia-long plan designed to spur mankind into a ceaseless wave of expansion and innovation.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: His prescience is so heightened that any attack against him is doomed to fail from the start.
  • Creepy Twin: Especially as a child alongside 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.
  • The Emperor: He becomes God-Emperor of the entire Imperium, and sets himself up as the ultimate tyrant in order to help formulate a desire in humanity to expand.
  • Emperor Scientist: Downplayed, but still present. Under his rule Arrakis was terraformed away from a desert planet and into a garden world, and he is knowledgeable of the spice.
  • 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, though he's wearing the biological equivalent to Powered Armor at the time.
  • Gambit Roulette: His entire plan for saving mankind.
  • Genetic Memory: Like many of the Atreides line.
  • A God Am I: Strangely enough, it's devoid of the ego that usually accompanies this trope. Leto is simply invincible, or near it.
  • 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.
  • I Am a Monster: He believes himself to be the most despicable thing creation ever threw into the universe.
  • Immortal Ruler: His thousand-generation reign only ends by his own will.
  • Internal Retcon: 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.
  • 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.
  • Living Lie Detector: Due to his prescience and powers of observation, which are themselves heightened by his merger with the sandworms, it's nearly impossible to deceive him.
  • Lonely at the Top: After his metamorphosis, Leto begins to grow apart from the very humans he is trying to save.
  • Long Game: His millennia-long tyrannical regime, which ends in his death, is merely the first step of the "Golden Path" he outlined for humanity.
  • 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.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: His plan in a nutshell: Repress humanity for thousands of years, so that when he dies, the freedom they had lost for so long drives them to greater heights than ever before.
  • Necessarily Evil: He is acting to end the stagnation of human society and stop the endless House bickering and petty wars of the Imperium, but the way he does it is... hardcore, to say the least.
  • No Place for Me There: By nature, the ideal universe he creates would not contain any godlike beings such as him in it. Even ignoring his powers, near the end he comes to decide that the atrocities he committed to get there leave him unworthy of the world he wished to create.
  • Not Quite Dead: Even after his "death," so-called pearls of his awareness remain in the sandworms he spawned, "endlessly dreaming."
  • Omniscient Morality License: Deconstructed. Leto thinks he has this at first, but after his plan continues, he begins to worry that he could be wrong, or that the results don't justify his methods. In the end, he accepts that while he did what he felt was personally necessary, humanity will likely forever judge him as a monster.
  • Prescience Is Predictable: Leto makes a few statements towards this end.
  • Psychic Powers: Like his father, and some of the most powerful in the setting.
  • Really 700 Years Old: 3,500, in his case.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: A God-Emperor who single-handedly reshapes the entire Imperium.
  • Silent Scapegoat: Even the Bene Gesserit, thousands of years after Leto sacrificed 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: His own death is the turning point of his plan.
  • Two Beings, One Body: With multiple sandtrout.
  • Übermensch: Deconstructed. Despite acting for what he believed to be the greater good and going farther than any human had in pursuit of that path, in the end he is left unsure of whether he truly outgrew morality, and was never certain of whether his plan would turn out the way he hoped.
  • Villain Protagonist: For a certain level of "villain," but as a Necessarily Evil tyrant, he himself is the closest thing to a villain in God Emperor, the book where he receives focus.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: All of Leto's tyrannical reign was meant to ensure the long-term survival and prosperity of humanity. It weighs heavily on him, earns the fear and hatred of billions, and condemns Leto himself to thousands of years of loneliness and inhumanity, and culminating in his own death, after which he is remembered as "the Tyrant".
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: As a child, he had access to Genetic Memory stretching back thousands of years, and thus was far more mature than other children.

    Ghanima Atreides 

Ghanima Atreides

Played by: Jessica Brooks (2003 miniseries)

The daughter of Paul and Chani and twin sister of Leto II.

    Alia Atreides 

Alia Atreides

Played by: Alicia Witt (1984 film), Laura Burton (2000 miniseries), Daniela Amavia (2003 miniseries)

Paul's younger sister. Due to Jessica taking the Water of Life while pregnant with her, Alia is born with the memories of her ancestors. A certain one furthers the wedge that grows between her and the rest of her family.
  • Big Bad: For Children of Dune.
  • Creepy Child: Alia is seen as such by the Bene Gesserit (indeed, she is outright called an "abomination") due to having the skills of a Reverend Mother and all the memories of ancestors who came before her, as well as having the intelligence and speech skills of an adult at the age of two, making her decidedly unchildlike.
  • The Dreaded: By the Bene Gesserit, for her condition. Mother Gaius is one step from fainting just for seeing her and begs Shaddam IV to kill her.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dies by falling off her tower while fighting her own possession.
  • Enfant Terrible: Was this for the Bene Gesserit when born.
  • Evil Redhead: In 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: Once 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.
  • Psychic Powers: Hers are unique, because she has an ability resembling Telepathy which allows her to enter the minds of other Bene Gesserit. It is implied to be just a variation of the mental touch they use to pass their ego/memories among them, however, and not literal telepathy (which is known as T-P in the Dune universe), as she explains to the Emperor that she can only do it to those "born" like her, like Reverend Mother Mohiam.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Villain: In the end, she was driven mad by being exposed to Genetic Memory and becomes pitiable, rather than despicable.
  • The Vamp: Under the influence of the Baron, she starts using sexual seduction to secure the loyalty of Javid, Buer and others.
  • 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.

    Thufir Hawat 

Thufir Hawat

Played by: Freddie Jones (1984 film), Jan Vlasák (2000 miniseries), Stephen McKinley Henderson (2021 film)

A famed mentat who has served House Atreides for three generations. Thufir is Leto's chief adviser, spymaster, and one of his right-hand men.
  • Aggressive Categorism: He assumes Jessica is the traitor in House Atreides because she's a Bene Gesserit, which he (not inaccurately) views as an arrogant group that assumes they know people better than anyone. Jessica's attempts to correct him on this only further prove his resentment of the Gesserit and ignore the danger he's putting the family in.
  • 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.
  • Informed Ability: His mentat abilities and skill as House Astreides' Master of Assassins are apparently reknown throughout the Landsraad. None of that is on display in the book, where he falls for the Harkonnen's schemes hook, line and sinker. He fails to anticipate the attempt on Paul's life, continues to mistrust Lady Jessica even after Leto correctly deduced the evidence which implicated her as a traitor was planted, and he badly miscalculates the true scope of the Harkonnen attack. In addition, he comes off as incredibly ignorant: he completely fails to pick up on how badly the move to Arrakis has impacted the morale of his men, doesn't seem to be aware that Yueh's wife had been kidnapped by the Harkonnens, and was ignorant of Jessica's ability to use The Voice, even though she had been training Paul to use it and had taught people like Gurney and Duncan to resist it. This is somewhat handwaved away with the implication that Thufir's advanced age has greatly diminished his ability, and he does at several points offer his resignation over his failures to adequately predict what the Harkonnens are planning, all of which are refused by Leto.
  • 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.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Though he's completely outwitted in the first half of Dune, Hawat bounces back in the second half as a devious schemer with nothing left to lose. Baron Harkonnen presses him into service and Hawat happily helps both the Baron and Feyd-Rautha in their schemes against each other as the death of either is a victory for him. His plan to have the Baron turn Arrakis into another Salusa Secundus is a major example. If it succeeds then Harkonnen will be able to raise an army to challenge the Sardaukar and defeat the Emperor; if it fails then the Emperor will see the Baron's treachery and crush him. In either scenerio, a man whom Hawat holds responsible for the death of his Duke will die.

    Wellington Yueh 

Dr. Wellington Yueh

Played by: Dean Stockwell (1984 film), Robert Russell (2000 miniseries), Chang Chen (2021 film)

The personal physician to Duke Atreides.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Or rather Ambiguously Yellow. He is described as having a "butter complexion" and "almond eyes" and has a real life Chinese surname, so he is likely meant to have at least some Asian genetics, but the novel takes place in a setting where races have given out complicated mixes and his own ascendance is ultimately unknown. He has been traditionally played by white actors until the 2021 film, where he's played by the Taiwanese Chang Chen.
  • Anti-Villain: He betrays the Atreides to the Harkonnens, but only because they promised him his wife. He is deeply regretful about the whole affair and takes steps to undermine the Harkonnens while their coup is ongoing, such as giving Leto a Cyanide Pill that should also take out the Baron (this fails) and helps Paul and Jessica escape (this works).
  • Asian and Nerdy: A seemingly Asian man with an impressive knowledge.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Due to his mental conditioning that should have made it impossible for him to harm others.
  • Exact Words: He has to pull this a lot to get around Jessica's Living Lie Detector abilities. It helps that he is genuinely fond of the Atreides and grieving his wife.
  • Facial Markings: The diamond tattoo on Yueh's forehead is a sign of the Suk School Imperial conditioning.
  • Determinator: Yueh manages to stay alive long enough to give Baron Harkonnen a few last words before falling.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: A poor man who was forced to betray those he loved and regretted it all the way, while doing everything in his power to protect them from his own betrayel, is vilified as a Judas figure with songs sung lamenting his death wasn't worse.
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: Though he manipulates the Atreides house to divert suspicion from him, Yueh is appalled to hear Jessica's worry of the Duke not loving her. Yueh, firmly believing in The Power of Love, reassures her that Leto does indeed care for her. Even though he's doing it to make himself appear more loyal to the family, the narration notes that he's speaking honestly and does not want Jessica to feel insecure over what she and Leto have.
  • 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.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: He betrays the Atreides family to their Arch-Enemy, who promptly kills him. Yueh saw that coming and was pretty confident the Baron would get what was coming to him.
  • Taking You with Me: Yueh is unsure of whether his wife is alive, but plans to take out the Baron in either case.
  • Tragic Villain: Being blackmailed into betraying the man you deeply respect and then being unfairly depicted as the Judas Iscariot equivalent of the new religion certainly qualifies.
  • Yellow Peril: Has some traits associated to this archetype, like being Asian, scheming and an expert in medicine, poisons and traps.

    Gurney Halleck 

Gurney Halleck

Played by: Patrick Stewart (1984 film), P. H. Moriarty (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Josh Brolin (2021 film)

An Atreides retainer and one of Paul's teachers.
  • Achey Scars: Gurney Halleck sports a long, red scar along his face that chronically delivers residual pain due to abuse suffered from the poisonous plant inkvine during his time as a Harkonnen slave.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Well, not exactly ignorance, but in Children of Dune he gets to a sietch by riding a sandworm and, while the Fremen there promptly go slackjawed at an off-worlder pulling off such a feat, he comments that it's not a big deal for a well-trained fighting man.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Patrick Stewart's Gilbert and Sullivanish bearing and countenance is most definitely the opposite of the book's description of Gurney. P.H. Moriarty's Gurney, while not the "ugly lump of a man" the book describes, does at least look average. Josh Brolin's Gurney looks more rugged than both (with a greying beard and some fairly gnarly facial scars) but still not "ugly".
  • Badass Normal: In a universe of super-powered lordlings, trained-since-before-birth martial artists and hardened desert fighters, Gurney stands out for being none of those, but still being able to take all three categories in a straight fight.
  • Field Promotion: To a noble rank, no less. Paul, upon becoming Emperor Mua'Dib, appoints Gurney an Earl of Caladan.
  • 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.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Halleck hates all of the Harkonnens but it is Glossu Rabban, the man that the Baron placed in charge of Arrakis directly under him, that Gurney hates the most. It was under Rabban that Halleck lost his family and was given the scar on his face that leaves him in chronic pain.
  • 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.
  • Secret Relationship: In Children of Dune, there is evidence that Gurney and Jessica are lovers. Quite appropriate as going back to their Caladan days, excluding family of course, Gurney was probably her closest friend.
  • 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 Idaho 

Duncan Idaho

Played by: Richard Jordan (1984 film), James Watson (2000 miniseries), Edward Atterton (2003 miniseries), Jason Momoa (2021 film)

Another Atreides retainer, he serves as the House's swordmaster, responsible for managing the household's defenses.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: God-Emperor of Dune heavily implies that Duncan harboured feelings for Lady Jessica, who only had eyes for Duke Leto.
  • Ambadassador: Leto appoints him ambassador to the Fremen in the first book. Not that the appointment, to say nothing of Leto and Duncan themselves, lasts long.
  • Ambiguously Brown: He's described as having dark skin, a round face, black curly hair like a goat's, and eyes with definite epicanthic folds, implying a racial mix with both Mediterranean (like Leto) and Asian (like Yueh) genetics.
  • Ascended Extra: He appears more than any of the main characters of the entire series, itonically given that he barely appeared in the original novel at all.
  • Back from the Dead: Repeatedly in the later installments.
  • Breakout Character: Just a retainer to the Atreides at first, becomes the most important character across the Dune saga.
  • 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.
  • Came Back Strong: Duncan is trained as a Mentat in his second life and a Benne Gesserit in his latest life. All this in addition to being genetically enhanced into a Super Soldier.
  • 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 Dune to be the final and true Kwisatz Haderach, becoming the bridge for humanity and the Thinking Machines.
  • Electronic Eyes: Hayt, his first ghola, has metal eyes created by the Tleilaxu.
  • Genius Bruiser: Idaho was no idiot in his original life, but his first ghola (and several subsequent gholas) was a Mentat, giving him a computer-like analytical mind in addition to his retained Master Swordsman qualities.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    "Two deaths for the Atreides. The second for no better reason than the first."
  • Master Swordsman: Though by his own admission, not quite as good as Gurney ("Gurney could best me six times out of ten."). In Dune Messiah, it's revealed that while he did indeed die, the surviving Sardaukar were so impressed with his skills as a Master Swordsman that they preserved his body, later having it resurrected as a "Ghola"... and that, as it turns out, has some extremely far-reaching effects on the Dune universe.
  • Old Retainer: Via the gholas.
  • One-Man Army: Duncan is an extremely skilled fighter, often seen as one of the best in the universe. Children of Dune reveals that in his final moments he slew 19 Sardaukar before going down.
  • Really 700 Years Old: After regaining the memories of all his past ghola selves in Heretics of Dune, Duncan carries memories that span more than 5000 years, accumulating them into one consciousness, creating a Duncan Idaho that is mentally even older than the God-Emperor lived to be.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: He returns and he's killed many times in the series because most of them are gholas.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: He sacrifices himself holding off Sardaukar forces so Paul and Jessica can make a break for it.





Played by: Max von Sydow (1984 film), Karel Dobrý (2000 miniseries), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (2021 film)

The current Planetologist (planetary ecologist) assigned to study Arrakis; son of Dr. Pardot Kynes, the first to take this role, and a Fremen woman. He has continued his father's work of transforming Arrakis into a more hospitable world. Temporarily appointed Judge of the Change (overseeing the government transition from Harkonnen to Atreides).
  • Badass Bookworm: The Imperial Planetologist is also the leader of the Fremen, a culture tough enough to survive on Arrakis.
  • Badass Family: In both directions. Tales of his father are legendary in their own right, and his daughter Chani eventually develops a fierce reputation of her own.
  • 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.
  • Going Native: Played With. The Atreides and their affiliates see Kynes as a man who has settled down on the planet, adopted the ways of the Fremen, and integrated into their culture. Leto explicitly states that "Kynes had gone native." However, the actual example of this trope is Kynes's father, who was assigned to the planet and married into the Fremen; Kynes himself is a native of Arrakis and a Fremen like his mother.
  • Heroic Vow: Bringing back water to Arrakis and terraforming it into a lush world.
  • His Name Is...: Felled by sunstroke and about to be killed by a spice blow, 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 the desert by the Harkonnens, only Kynes bites it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: By choosing to help Paul and Jessica escape, Kynes ends up beaten and abandoned in the desert by the Harkonnens with little to no hope of rescue, and dies soon afterwards.



Played by: Sean Young (1984 film), Barbora Kodetová (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Zendaya (2021 film)

Liet-Kynes's Fremen daughter. Stilgar puts her in charge of Paul after he and Jessica wind up in his sietch; the two later become lovers.

  • Action Girl: It's kind of a requirement for Fremen women.
  • Badass Family: She is Liet's daughter, after all.
  • Battle Couple: With Paul, as each of them teach the other their own fighting techniques and hone their abilities.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Paul had visions of her before even arriving on Arrakis. They later fall in love.
  • Happily Married: With Paul, just like Jessica with Leto, and for the same reasons.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Implied to be a redhead in Dune Messiah because her daughter Ghanima has "tawny red hair", while Paul's hair is black. Confirmed to be one herself in Children of Dune. Because this isn't mentioned anywhere in Dune and in fact only posthumously, she's become a brunette in live-action thrice and counting. Since Fremen in general have olive skin similar to the Atreides, this makes her an implied Dark-Skinned Redhead (or at least Ambiguously Brown Redhead). The only adaptation so far to follow this is the 1992 video game.
  • Hot Consort: When she and Paul are living among the Fremen, by the reckonings of her culture she is actually his wife. When Paul becomes Emperor, Chani is 'only' his concubine while Irulan is the Imperial Consort, but it's very clear Chani is his real wife in everything but name.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: While Chani passionately loves Paul, she knows full well that she'll never be a suitable wife for a Duke — or, as it turns out, an Emperor — in the eyes of the universe outside Arrakis. She's willing to do what's best for her beloved and step aside so he can make a dynastically useful marriage, but Paul loves her too much to let her go.
  • Love Interest: To Paul. He's dreamt of her for years before they actually meet in person, and not long after that he accidentally proposes to her via a Fremen courtship ritual he was unaware of. They very soon become lovers, and end up as close to being married without making it official as it's possible to be.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: She's a fierce warrior, like all Fremen.
  • Top Wife: While Paul officially marries Irulan to secure his position as the Emperor of the Imperium, he still regards Chani as his only true love and the only one who would eventually bear his heirs.



Played by: Everett McGill (1984 film), Uwe Ochsenknecht (2000 miniseries), Steven Berkoff (2003 miniseries), Javier Bardem (2021 film)

Fremen 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.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: With Pardot Kynes, who married his sister - Frieth.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In Children of Dune Leto II states that one future he envisions has himself and Ghanima marrying. Stil is completely against it as incest is a major taboo amongst Fremen and often carries a death sentence.
  • 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.



Played by: Judd Omen (1984 film), Christopher Lee Brown (2000 miniseries), Babs Olusanmokun (2021 film)

A Fremen man who challenges Paul to a duel.

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Stilgar noted that Jamis's temper made him a major liability to a tribe that needed unity and his reaction to insult, demean, and then try to kill Paul were all unjustified. However, the loss of life is still a tragic affair and many of his friends and family members recount his kindness at the funeral. Even Paul is moved to tears at it and feels the toll of having killed another human being.
    "I wish I'd known Jamis better."
  • 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."
  • Everyone Has Standards: One of the criticisms he brings up about Paul and Jessica is that they have extra containers of water on them and he accuses them of hoarding it at the expense of everyone else. Water being such a necessity on Arrakis as well as the Fremen's focus on community lead to an accidental offense on the part of the pair. At Jamis's funeral Paul learns that during water shortages, Jamis shared what he had with others.
  • 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.



Played by: Molly Wryn (1984 film, extended cut)

The former wife of Jamis who becomes Paul's after Paul bests him in a duel. Her first husband was a Fremen named Geoff who Jamis had bested previously. Instead of taking her as a wife, Paul has her as a servant. In spite of this Harah ends up joining the family.

  • Adapted Out: Cut from the miniseries. Harah had a small role in the David Lynch film but it was cut from the theatrical version. The Extended Cut adds her back in.
  • Hidden Depths: She admits to Jessica that she has reasoning ability and could have become a Sayyadina, an acolyte in the Fremen Religion. It allows her a level of understanding for Alia's strange ways and leads to them bonding.
  • Parental Substitute: She becomes another mother to Alia, especially when Jessica's duties lead them to spend less time together. Alia's demeanor often disturbs the other Fremen but Harah offers sympathy and understanding. Alia's first words were telling Harah that she loved her.
    It was obvious that she loved Alia as though this were her own child.



Played by: Karel Dobrý (2003 miniseries)

A member of the Fedaykin, Paul's elite death commandos.

  • Badass Beard: He had a fearsome beard during his time as a Fedaykin trooper. In Dune Messiah Alia laments its loss with Korba's ascension to a poltical role; calling him an immaculately dressed fop with none of the ferocity and intimidation he had as a soldier.
  • Bald of Evil: He is stated to be bald in Dune Messiah, Alia compares him to a gnome when he's angry.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Near the end of Dune Messiah he is outed as one of the many traitors amongst the Fremen ranks. Korba assisted the Guild in smuggling out a worm for them to start spice production elsewhere, free of Paul's control. He also smuggled in the Stone Burner that killed Otheym and Dhuri and blinded Paul and dozens of others.
  • The Fundamentalist: Korba is a devout Qizara and often puts a voice to the religious fanaticism on Dune. As Paul despairs about the lives lost to the Jihad, Korba says they were unbelievers and deserved their deaths.
  • Praetorian Guard: He is a Fedaykin, an elite unit that guards Paul. When Paul transitions many of his advisors to more government roles, Korba leaves the group to become a Qizara religious leader.



A Fremen who served as a Fedaykin during Paul's rise to power. In the twilight of Paul's rule as emperor, he has retired.

  • Cruel and Unusual Death: He caught a painful and debilitating disease during the war and is killed when a stone burner detonates. The burner emitted a powerful light that burnt away the eye tissue of anyone nearby, and he and his wife were at ground zero of its explosion.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Though he doesn't know it, his daughter Lichna has been killed and replaced by a face dancer.
  • Two-Faced: After a victory at Tarahell he caught the splitting disease. The left side of his face is filled with crisis cross scars and his eye seems useless.
  • Undying Loyalty: In Dune Messiah a number of seemingly loyal Fedaykin end up betraying Paul. Unlike Farok and Korba, Otheym remains a firm ally of Paul even trying to get him the names of the conspirators at the cost of his own life.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The splitting disease is killing him and he's since bankrupted himself with the medical expenses.



One of Paul's security officers.

  • Mixed Ancestry: He's noted to be partly descended from off-world smugglers as well as Fremen. The narration notes that it was rare for a Fremen of off-world ancestry to have risen so far in the ranks.
  • Properly Paranoid: As one of Paul's bodyguards he's always suspicious of any who meet him. When "Lichna" meets Paul, Paul sees through her disguise and realizes that it's Scytale assuming her form. Bannerjee doesn't but still regards everything "Lichna" says with suspicion and is prepared to attack her at a moment's notice even if she's the daughter of one of Paul's advisors.
  • Stout Strength: He is described as "a solid figure, almost fat" and is one of Paul's skilled and trusted guards.

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.

    Vladimir Harkonnen 

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Played by: Kenneth McMillan (1984 film), Ian McNeice (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Stellan Skarsgård (2021 film)

The former ruler of Arrakis, who has put into motion a plan to eliminate his replacement and archnemesis Leto.

  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the film, not only is he obese but physically disheveled and his face is covered with suppurating sores which have been speculated by some to be a metaphor for AIDs. He is much less obese than in the book, though.
  • Adipose Rex: Head of his house, and grotesquely fat.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Leto learns the hard way that the governor's mansion was just on loan.
  • Ambiguously Bi: He's greatly attracted to young boys, but the rest of his interests are less clear. His background in the original books, namely that of being Jessica's father, is phrased in a way that might imply he also had sex with women in the past and just found them less interesting than males, but this is never clarified. For their part, The Dune Encyclopedia claims he had incestuous sex with his mother and the rest of his stuff comes from the resultant mental screwup, and Brian Herbert's Prelude to Dune has him raping Reverend Mother Mohiam after being deceived by her.
  • 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.
  • The Caligula: He's the flamboyant and sociopathic ruler ("Siridar-Baron") of Giedi Prime.
  • The Chessmaster: His revenge against the Atreides, intricately plotted for decades, should be proof enough of this.
  • Creepy Uncle: Whether he ever acted on it is left ambiguous, but he definitely lusts after his own nephew, Feyd.
  • Depraved Homosexual: He has slave boys delivered to his quarters, and it is implied that his attractions extend to Feyd-Rautha. He certainly had designs on Paul, but gave them up when he realized how lethally dangerous the boy was.
  • Ephebophile: As if he wasn't creepy enough, he likes to have teenage slaves being sent to his bed chambers, sometimes drugged up. The movie version of the Baron instead likes to tear off their heart plugs and use their gushing blood to water his flowers.
  • Egopolis: In the canceled Alejandro Jodorowsky film adaptation, he would have lived inside a giant palace shaped like himself.
  • Embodiment of Vice / Seven Deadly Sins: Baron Harkonnen is meant to represent the depths of humanity's decadence and societal stagnation, and as such, his vices are many and obscene, and he represents in full of all the Deadly Sins:
    • Sloth / Gluttony: He's grotesquely fat to the point he needs an anti-gravity harness to even be able to move around. He is also addicted to Spice to the point it makes him paranoid.
    • Lust: He's a pederast who loves abusing young men and teenage boys, and has an unhealthy incestuous obsession with his nephew, Feyd Rautha.
    • Greed: He's willing to go to any lengths to secure stewardship of Arrakis and the harvesting of Spice, both for his own personal use and for the lucrative economy it provides.
    • Pride: He considers himself vastly superior to everyone else. Duke Leto being chosen over him to steward Arrakis is seen by him as a slap in the face and an affront to his superiority.
    • Envy: He resents Duke Leto for the love his people have for him and for being chosen by Emperor Corrino to steward Arrakis in his stead.
    • Wrath: Prone to fits of anger and all about taking revenge WAY too far. His vendetta against House Atreides is chock full of instances highlighting his deep and undying hatred of Duke Leto and his people.
  • 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 Genius: His scheme comes together perfectly, and he only fails later on due to events on Arrakis which were completely outside his knowledge.
  • 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.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Is stated in the books to have a basso voice, which is the lowest vocal range possible for a person. In past adaptations, however, the Baron was typically given a medium range but robust speaking voice, typically to caricaturize the character either as a raving lunatic (1984 film) or emphasize the camp gay aspects (miniseries).
  • Fat Bastard: Is so overweight he needs antigravity support to move and he's quite the bastard.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He seems like a jolly man, with his mannerisms and constant use of endearments... but he's actually a diabolic power-hungry schemer.
  • Foe Yay:invoked Arranging for a Paul lookalike to be drugged up and sent to his bedchamber.
  • Genghis Gambit: Intends to use his nephew Rabban as the fall-guy in one of these, but it doesn't work out, due to the Fremen uniting behind Paul Atreides instead. In the film version, it only succeeds in drawing the attention of the Emperor who demands to know why the Baron has made such a hash of things on Arrakis, threatening the flow of spice to the entire known universe.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: During Children of Dune he's using and influencing Alia even though he's dead, thanks to her Genetic Memory.
  • Gruesome Grandparent: Turns out to be Jessica's father and thus by extension Paul and Alia's grandfather, which surprises him.
  • Hate Sink: Sadistic, remorseless, vindictive, petty and sexually perverted, he's as repulsive inside as out and seems deliberately designed to inspire revulsion in the audience.
  • The Heavy: He may answer to Emperor Shaddam (kind of), but the Baron and his noble house remain the most active villains on the scene.
  • Karmic Death: Poisoned by the daughter of his enemy.
  • Knight of Cerebus: An interesting example because his many moments of Black Comedy also cause him to veer into Plucky Comic Relief but whenever he turns up, things start going to hell in a hand basket for the Atreides and nobody in the story finds him funny but him.
  • Laughably Evil: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is arguably both the Big Bad of the first book and the comic relief.
  • 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.
    • Though in the first book, the Baron considered himself to have been 'violated' in that particular experience, and even forbade his nephew to ever bring it up in his presence.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Rabban was his puppet ruler, with Feyd-Rautha planned to succeed him.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He plays Rabban and Feyd-Rautha against each other, partially to keep their ambitions away from the Baron himself and partially because it amuses him.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Evil, fat, floating, gay baron.
  • 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.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Baron Harkonnen orders death left and right but seldom carries it out himself. His physical ability is diminished significantly due to his weight and he relies on either his nephews or his minions to do his bidding, even Piter gets his hands dirty when he kills Yueh. The Baron's only major physical action against the heroes is to restrain a little girl an act that kills him.
  • 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.
  • Parental Favoritism: Not only cearly prefers the cunning and intelligent Feyd-Rautha over his brutish brother Glossu Rabban (though this doesn't prevent him from meting out sadistic punishments), but actually plans to sacrifice the latter to facilitate the former's ascent.
  • Posthumous Character: In Children of Dune, he possesses Alia from beyond the grave thanks to Genetic Memory.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Zig-Zagged. Baron Harkonnen's excesses are one of the major points of his character and he often indulges in cruelty for the sake of it. However, when his goals are loftier he has shown to be able to reign himself in and approach situations with more tact.
    • Subverted during the mop-up operation of the Atreides troops. As he watches Leto's soldiers being exterminated he admits that it's a pity that so many decent fighting men are to be killed off. Almost immediately he crushes those thoughts and laughs at their plight; feeling it proves the strength of his own men and the weakness of House Atreides.
    • He gets angry at Rabban's comment that he killed Piter, an action actually done by Duke Leto. The idea that he would so carelessly kill a valuable aide offends him.
    "I will take it unkindly if ever again you suggest by word or action that I am so stupid."
    • Baron Harkonnen's ambitions go beyond himself and he wants his house to go down in history even if he himself isn't at its head. As such he refrains from killing family members... unless there's a lot to gain from it. His plan to have Feyd-Rautha, his nephew, become Arrakis's ruler involves the deposing and death of his other nephew Rabban.
  • Rhymesona Dime: Tends to speak this way as an affectation in the miniseries.
  • Sadist: An emotional, physical and sexual example. He orders his nephew Feyd-Rautha to kill all of his concubines, partly to teach him a lesson, partly just for kicks.
  • Sissy Villain: As Camp Gay Depraved Homosexual, this is inevitable.
  • Smug Snake: Hell to the yeah!
  • 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, values no life, and sees his nephews as means to an end. His cruelty and depravity demonstrate his lack of moral concern for others.
  • Villainous Glutton: A sensation-hedonist, he purposefully eats as much as he can both because he enjoys the taste and sensation of eating and because it amuses him that his grotesquely fat body disgusts 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 

Piter de Vries

Played by: Brad Dourif (1984 film), Jan Unger (2000 miniseries), David Dastmalchian (2021 film)

Baron Harkonnen's twisted mentat.

  • 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: Pretty much required for a Harkonnen mentat, especially one for Baron Vladimir.
  • Berserk Button: He loathes having the Baron call him inferior to the thinking machines of the past.
  • The Evil Genius: Being a mentat working for the cruel and decadent Harkonnen and being a bit of a power hungry pervert himself makes him one.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Piter is whimsical, excitable, and cruel. He can come across as almost sychophantic towards the Baron but it's all a thin layer of mockery that gets under Harkonnen's skin.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: His intentions toward Jessica are portrayed this way in the Lynch film and the Syfy miniseries. In the novel, this trope is subverted: he proves to be more interested in power than in killing Jessica, and quickly opts for the duchy on Arrakis instead.
  • Mirror Character: We never see them interact, but he contrasts Thufir Hawat in several ways. While both are mentats in service to the two primary Great Houses of the first book, Thufir is elderly and proper, Piter is younger but has become more amoral and sadistic.
  • Only Sane Man: Comes across this way in the 1984 film, where his more eccentric aspects are toned down, while the Harkkonens' similar aspects are turned Up to Eleven.
  • Psycho for Hire: He's an evil and eccentric mentat.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": His name is given as 'Piter de Vried in some editions of the first book.
  • Torture Technician: It's a hobby of his. Harkonnen notes that Piter utilized pain amplifiers on Yueh's wife Wanna and he intended to have Piter torture Leto for information on the missing Paul and Jessica.
  • Volatile Second Tier Position: Because the Baron abides by a strict policy of offing any of his minions who've outlived their usefulness, Piter has to work hard to make himself too useful to eliminate - and even then the Baron likes to keep him on his toes with threats and the occasional headgame.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Baron continually makes note to kill him, but Piter ends up prematurely bumped off. And of course, after he died, the Baron says multiple times that he wishes he still had Piter around.

    Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen 

Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

Played by: Sting (1984 film), Matt Keeslar (2000 miniseries)

Baron Harkonnen's nephew and intended heir.

  • Badass Normal: Holds his own against the Kwisatz Haderach. Questionable how normal he is, though. Feyd was the Bene Gesserit's originally planned father of the Kwisatz Haderach, meaning that he would carry most of the required genes. 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. However, he does not have the advantage of Paul's Bene Gesserit training.
  • Bastard Understudy: The Baron is grooming him to be the next ruler of Arrakis, and perhaps even Emperor.
  • Camp Straight: Is quite foppish and described as being "effeminate of face" but only shows interest in females, unlike his uncle.
  • 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 intended daughter being the other.
  • Evil Nephew: Tries to have his uncle the Baron assassinated so he can inherit early. The Baron placates him by revealing the plans he has for him.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Is an amazing fighter with a graceful fighting style, loves to show off by fighting in the arena whilst dressed in a flashy, flamboyant style, is effeminate, smug, calculating and looks down on others, arrogantly taunting his opponents in the arena. This vibe is really conveyed in the illustrations of him for Jodorowky's failed Dune adaptation.
  • 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.
  • Kick the Dog: Promises to rape Chani to Paul's face, or at least make her his bride.
  • Let's Dance: The duel opens with Feyd complimenting Paul's "dancing."
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: He's described as this, with some extra effeminacy thrown in.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: "On his seventeenth birthday, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen killed his one hundredth slave-gladiator." That's because each of those slaves was drugged or programmed to respond to Safe Words. And of course, his weapons are all poisoned. This time he faces one of Leto's elite troopers, and he very nearly winds up dead despite the deck being stacked in his favour.
  • The Sociopath: Feyd has no moral compass and enjoys killing. He's also intelligent, self-centred and with a sense of charisma about him. Much like his uncle, he's a high-functioning example unlike his low-functioning brother. All in all, the Harkonnens are a wonderful depiction of the antisocial personality disorder in its full spectrum but you wouldn't like to see it up close!
  • 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 Fight Like a Cow: He taunts Paul in both the book and the film, asking him why he prolongs the inevitable when Feyd will kill him.
  • You Killed My Father: Well, his uncle, really, but he attempts to avenge the Baron. However, as he was not above trying to kill his uncle himself; it's likely that he's just angry that the person got the chance to kill the Baron whereas he didn't.

    Glossu Rabban 

Count Glossu Rabban

Played by: Paul L. Smith (1984 film), László I. Kish (2000 miniseries), Dave Bautista (2021 film)

Another of Baron Harkonnen's nephews.

  • Ascended Extra: He has only one brief appearance in the original book; he is a considerably more significant character in the 1984 film, miniseries, and prequels.
  • A Beast in Name and Nature: Popularly known as "Beast Rabban" by his subjects for his cruelty.
  • 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.
  • Fat Bastard: In the books, Rabban is described as overweight with the Baron believing that he'll eventually be in need of suspensors to keep his weight supported. The adaptations tend to downplay this making him more bulky or stocky, but his villainy is consistent throughout all of them.
  • Flanderization: The adaptations and Brian Herbert’s prequels portray him as much less intelligent than the original book.
  • 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.
  • Killed Offscreen: In contrast with the other major Harkonnens who die onscreen, Rabban's death in the original book happens off in the background. After the Emperor's forces are routed his body is identified amongst the dead.
  • 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, he smiles at Stilgar in the hopes of receiving a quick death. When Stilgar turns away, Rabban's 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.
  • Last-Name Basis: Nobody calls him by his first name, Glossu. It's only revealed in the appendix. As a result, the adaptations give the impression that his name is "Rabban Harkonnen" when this was legally denied him.
  • Minor Major Character: Rabban is only in a single scene in the first book; meeting the Baron in his bed chambers to take on the role as Arrakis's leader. However, his presence is significant: he's the reason for Gurney's scar and Rabban's men killed Gurney's family, he's the dictator of Arrakis after the Baron leaves and is effectively the Dragon-in-Chief for several years, and he's a crucial part of the Baron's gambit to push Feyd-Rautha into power. However, Rabban's role as a major antagonist is during the timeskip and most of his actions and rule is conveyed to the audience through the conversations of other characters while Rabban commits his actions offscreen. The prequels and adaptations end up beefing up his role into a more significant secondary antagonist as a result.
  • 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.
    • Long story short, it's not hard to become convinced that during his private talk with the Baron he is in fact the smartest guy in the room.
  • Stupid Evil: In the miniseries, where he is constantly belittled by the Baron.
  • The Unfavorite: The Baron chose Feyd as his heir ("na-Baron") over Rabban, the older brother. The Baron planned to have Rabban rule Arrakis again, then have Feyd kill him to make him loved and praised. This is also why Feyd bears the Harkonnen surname while Rabban's remains Rabban, even though they are brothers. (Their father, the Baron's half-brother, was a Harkonnen by birth but had relinquished the surname when he became Count. "Rabban" was a surname of the distaff or female side of the line.)

    Iakin Nefud 

Iakin Nefud

Played by: Jack Nance (1984 film)

Captain of the House Harkonnen Guard.

  • Field Promotion: When Umman Kudu, the Baron's Captain of the Guards, is killed by Leto's poison gas, Nefud was the one who was able to control the chaotic situation and had the room locked down and ventilated. Harkonnen, impressed with Nefud's efficiency and now having a vacant position, promoted Iakin from Guard Corporal to Captain on the spot.
  • Functional Addict: The Baron keeps tabs on the vices of many of his officers to better control him. He notes that Nefud is addicted to Semuta, a drug-music combination that played itself in deepest consciousness. Nefud's promotion allows him to access much more of it.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Nefud is the leader of the Baron's guard.
  • The Watson: Nefud is introduced following Piter and Kudu's deaths and as such he's the that the Baron exposits his plans too.

House Corrino and Supporters

    Shaddam Corrino IV 

Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV

Played by: José Ferrer (1984 film), Giancarlo Giannini (2000 miniseries)

The Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe.

  • 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 Duumvirate: Along with Baron Harkonnen, during the first book.
  • Bus Crash: With his defeat at the end of the original Dune he is exiled to Salusa Secundus. Paul expresses concern over the former emperor's remaining Sardaukar legion that he maintains on Secundus in Dune Messiah, thinking he is planning something. However, by Children of Dune he has passed away in the time skip between books and Wensicia takes over their forces.
  • 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, though it could be assumed to be blond-ish due to Irulan's previous descriptions of him.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: In the books, Baron Harkonnen describes him as having a deep commanding voice. In the 1984 film, Jose Ferrer is not especially deep, but he does have a gruff, commanding voice tinged with sarcasm.
    The voice was baritone and with exquisite control. It managed to dismiss him while greeting 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. This attitude left the Bene Gesserit scared out of their wits since it showed much more self-control than they would like their puppet to have.
  • Older Than They Look: In 10191 AG, he is 72 but looks no older than 35, 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 correctly suspects the Harkonnens of moving against him. In fact, the Baron anticipated Corrino's wrath and planned to unify the Houses against him.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Irulan's 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.
  • Underestimating Badassery: When he sets up base on Arakkis, he scoffs at Baron Harkonnen's talk about setting up a perimeter and caution of the Fremen. He is confident that five legions of Sardaukar are more than a match for his enemies, this overconfidence is his undoing.

    Hasimir Fenring 

Count Hasimir Fenring

Played by: Miroslav Táborský (2000 miniseries)

A 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.
  • Ambiguous Situation: He refuses to challenge Paul when it's known by all sides that Fenring could have killed him. His pretext to the Emperor is that he did it Shaddam's favor, as it was implied the Fremen would butcher the entire court in revenge in the instant they didn't have Paul to control them, but it's unknown if this reason, while valid by itself, was the only factor in play. Given that the Count and Paul recognized each other as Kwisatz Haderach candidates, it's possible that Hasimir spared Paul out of sympathy, maybe even secretly agreeing with Paul in his rebellion against the Bene Gesserit.
  • The Chessmaster: After the Atreides massacre, he manages to exonerate the Emperor from any suspicions by using copious amounts of spice bribes, women and favors.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Downplayed. He admits to his wife that he's not happy with her executing the fleshly part of their plan, but by this point he has got over it.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Doesn't look anything other than a pompous, goofy aristocrat, but the Baron senses there is more behind this, internally labelling Fenring as "deadly" and feeling that Feyd-Rautha of all people is taking a big risk by punking around Lady Fenring. With good reason, as it turns out the Count is a failed Kwisatz Haderach.
  • The Dragon: To Shaddam IV.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: Sort of. He is a genetic eunuch, whatever that means, and serves out of loyalty to the Emperor, but is also one of the most sympathetic villains.
  • The Exile: The Appendix reveals that he followed his master Shaddam into exile on Secundus.
  • 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 doesn't kill him even when Shaddam gives a direct order.
  • 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.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Seems to be the least actively malevolent of the Emperor's cronies, instead looking like his manipulations are just a job for him.
  • Sexless Marriage: He and Margot are fairly happy together, but his condition of being a genetic eunuch implies he is physically incapable of sex.
  • Speech Impediment: He speaks with a bizarre lot of "mmm-mmm-mm", "aaah-hh" and the like between his words, which reminds of techniques used by explosive stutterers in real life to get words out. Subverted later when it is revealed that he can speak just fine; those sounds are just a form of secret language he keeps with his wife, which also does it very occasionally to talk back.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Children of Dune spells his first name as "Hassimar".
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Not exaggeratedly, but his wife is an alluring beauty, while the Count himself is a small, weak-looking man with a weasel face and creepy eyes.
  • Verbal Tic: "Hmmmm" and similar sounds It actually serves as a form of cipher which only he and his wife can understand.


Princess Irulan

Played by: Virginia Madsen (1984 film), Julie Cox (2000 & 2003 miniseries)

The eldest daughter of the Emperor 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.

  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Paul marries her to secure his position as Emperor of the Imperium.
  • The Baby Trap: The main reason Paul never has a child with her is fear of how she'll manipulate the situation. Having grown up in a literal Decadent Court, such manipulation is part of her upbringing.
  • 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.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Always described as a lovely blonde with a very classical, patrician type of beauty.
  • 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.
  • Proper Lady: The very first time she appears in the series, she's described as a cool and calm princess royal who doesn't let her dangerous surroundings unnerve her.
  • 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.

    Wensicia Corrino 

Wensicia Corrino

Played by: Susan Sarandon (2003 miniseries)

The Emperor's third daughter and mother of Farad'n Corrino.

After Shaddam's defeat by Muad'Dib and the Fremen, she followed her family into exile on Salusa Secundus.
  • Age Lift: Evidently in the 2003 miniseries due to the casting of Susan Sarandon who was significantly older than Irulan's actress, Julie Cox. This creates an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole. Irulan, in the book, was the eldest Corrino daughter, hence being the one to marry Paul. However, in the miniseries, if Wensicia is older than Irulan, then she should have been the one to marry Paul.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: She kicks off the conflict in Children of Dune with her scheme to assassinate the Atreidies twins and put House Corrino back in power. She aims to put her son on the throne but when Farad'n takes over the faction he ends up sinking her plans. Farad'n exiles her partly out disgust for all of the death she's caused but also because for all of her schemes to take power over the tumultuous empire she has no real plans to fix the galaxy spanning problems it faces.
  • Mother Makes You King: It's her actions that propell House Corrino back into the fight for control of the empire. She aims to destroy House Atreidies and put Farad'n on the throne and eventually makes her apathetic son take interest.
    Jessica: "The lioness schemes for her cub."
  • My Beloved Smother: She tries to push her son to reclaim the throne from the Atreides twins to the point of ordering an assassination attempt behind his back. Her relationship with Farad'n is so strained that towards the end of the story, the latter sends her into exile.
  • Remember the New Guy?: She becomes one of the third book's antagonists, a powerful member of the Corrino clan seeking to recover the throne, despite not having been even not mentioned among the Corrino entourage in of the two previous.

    Farad'n Corrino 

Farad'n Corrino

Played by: Jonathan Brüün (2003 miniseries)

Grandson of the deposed Emperor.

  • Anti-Villain: Farad'n had no knowledge of the plot to kill the Atreidies twins and is shocked when he finds out all of the gruesome details. He toys with the ambitions to rule the Imperium but ultimately finds himself more interested in history and art instead of the political game of thrones. Upon taking charge of House Corrino one of his first actions is to quell the hostilities between them and House Atreidies.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Wensicia kept the plot to kill the Atreides twins from him. Farad'n figures it out on his own and finds the methods of training the tigers (feeding them twin children dressed like Leto and Ghanima) especially disturbing.
  • Generation Xerox: Like his aunt Irulan, he's interested in history and eventually becomes the official scribe for Emperor Leto II. His penname is Harq al-Ada which was given by Leto II himself.

    The Sardaukar 

The Sardaukar

The private army of the Padishah Emperor.

  • 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).
  • Elite Army: Not as elite as they once were, but they are still the most prominent example when the first book starts (the primary reason their skills have atrophied is success — they've had so many thorough, ruthless, vicious victories behind them that their reputation as unbeatable in combat does a lot of their work for them). It is only when Paul turns the Fremen into an army that a true rival emerges.
  • 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 betrayal. 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.
  • Space Marine: Sort of. They are often depicted with Power Armor in artwork and videogames.
  • The Spartan Way: Their lifestyle in a nutshell. But subverted at the same time. The lowest ranking Sardaukar is still said to live better than the average subject of the Imperium.
  • The Stoic: Captain Otto Aramsham, who refuses to submit under capture by Paul and the Fremen until he uses the Voice.
  • The Worf Effect: They are hyped up to be the ultimate soldiers of the known universe and they are eventually defeated by the Fremen and later replaced by an Amazon Brigade.
  • 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 Sardaukar 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.



A ranking Sardaukar officer and aide to Princess Wensicia Corrino.

  • Beleaguered Assistant: While the Corrino's hold him in high esteem and he's genuinely loyal to them, Tyekanik is frequently frustrated by their bickering and eccentricities.
  • Brutal Honesty: Teykanik doesn't hesitate to speak his mind or express annoyance at Wensicia. He frequently questions the necessities of some of her crueler actions and responds to deadly innuendo with a need for clarification. The behavior annoys the princess but she does see him as an Honest Advisor.
  • The Dragon: With Wensicia taking control of the Corrino faction, Tyekanik is her second in command and the one carrying out her dirty work. When Farad'n takes over he becomes second in command for the prince.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He follows his princess's commands but is not above questioning them. When she turns the Laza Tigers against their Sardaukar trainer he isn't happy, saying that the soldier was a good man.
  • Mirror Character: To Stilgar, especially since the Sardaukar and Fremen are alike. The two men are both military leaders of the galaxy's most notorious factions and both are aging men trying to make sense of a galaxy that's changing. Their warrior way of life may be at an end but Leto II's plans end up bringing them back into importance. Tyekanik admits a fondness for Fremen religion when ordered to study it and both men share a nonverbal moment of understanding when they meet.
  • Undying Loyalty: Though a Servile Snarker who's not afraid to be blunt with his princess, Tyekanik is loyal to her and her house.
    Tyekanik: "Shall I, then, fall on my knife, or will you take care of that, ahhh, detail?"
    Wensicia: "Tyekanik, were I not absolutely convinced that you would fall on your knife at my command, you would not be standing here beside me armed."

Bene Gesserit

    Gaius Helen Mohaim 

Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

Played by: Siân Phillips (1984 film), Zuzana Geislerová (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Charlotte Rampling (2021 film)

The Bene Gesserit Reverand Mother who trained Lady Jessica and takes interest in her son.

  • Abusive Parents: She treats Jessica with a combination of love and cruelty, as she has done since Jessica was a child.
  • Anti-Villain: While manipulative, callous and petty, Mohiam makes clear to Jessica that she's just following an agenda whose steps don't necessarily please her either, and states she would save Jessica from her fate if she could.
  • Bald of Evil: (only in the 1984 film) Bald because she's a Bene Gesserit, but she's an awful harpy on the side.
  • Compelling Voice: Like all Bene Gesserit, Mohiam is trained in the use of the Voice.
  • The Consigliere: To the Emperor.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has her moments of firing back while talking with the brash Paul.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Despite the Bene Gesserit supposedly being masters of psychology and sociology, she utterly fails to even consider that antagonizing Paul, a candidate for the Kwisatz Haderach even if he was one generation early, could go badly for the entire Bene Gesserit Sisterhood in the long-term. A 3,500 year long-term as it turns out!
  • Dragon Ascendant: One of the Emperor's chief advisors in Dune, she does not follow him into exile like Count Fenring and becomes one of the central schemers in Dune Messiah.
  • Evil Matriarch: She's the highest-ranked Bene Gesserit, an evil schemer, and an all-around jerkass.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After being captured in the second book, she realizes she will never leave Arrakis alive, so he uses Prajna meditation to accept her fate.
  • Fantastic Racism: In Dune Messiah, it's revealed that she has a distaste for mentats. Scytale muses that it's part of an old hatred for Thinking Machines that she carries on to the Human Computers.
  • Hidden Depths: Perhaps surprisingly given her outward demeanor, Mohiam admits to Jessica that she understands why the latter disobeyed, and even says that she would have probably done the same had she been on Jessica's shoes.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: She's scathing to Jessica, Paul, and others, though she does have a few brief moments of closeness with the first, stating that she would take Jessica's place if she could, and actually shedding tears for it.
  • Killed Offscreen: Stilgar kills her offscreen near the end of Dune Messiah.
  • Living Lie Detector: As the Emperor's Truthsayer.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: She's obsessed with eugenics and degrades Chani as a pollution to the gene pool the Bene Gesserit have so ardently cultivated.
  • Skull for a Head: Dune Messiah describes her aged face as one akin to a skull-mask.

    Margot Fenring 

Margot Fenring

The Bene Gesserit wife of the Mentat Count Hasimir Fenring.

  • Happily Married: Despite everything, she and the Count do love one another.
  • Sexless Marriage: Mostly because the Count is incapable of sexual intercourse.
  • The Vamp: She is particularly trained in neuro-seduction and is sent to lure Feyd-Rautha.

    Miles Teg 

Miles Teg

A highly regarded Mentat Bene Gesserit military commander who held the rank of Supreme Bashar.

  • Back from the Dead: Killed at the end of Heretics of Dune and brought back as a ghola by his daughter in Chapterhouse: Dune.
  • Big Eater: He needs to consume huge amounts of carbohydrates to use his powers.
  • Cast from Calories: His accelerated speed comes at the cost of incredible energy expenditure; he has to consume huge amounts of carbohydrates to regain his energy.
  • Generation Xerox: Bears striking resemblance to his distant ancestor, Leto Atreides.
  • Heroic RRoD: In Sandworms of Dune he uses his accelerated metabolism to repair the Ithaca in mere moments — a period of weeks for Teg's body, in his accelerated time — and launches countermeasures against the attacking thinking machines, consuming vast quantities of melange and carbohydrates to sustain himself. He succeeds but his efforts result in massive cellular exhaustion causing him to collapse dead immediately afterwards.
  • Old Master: A 296-year-old military genius and weapon master brought out of retirement to train the latest Duncan ghola.
  • One-Man Army: Was already a formidable fighter, but when he is elevated to a higher state of being he becomes this, able to wipe out entire rooms full of Honores Matres in a literal matter of seconds.
  • Retired Badass: Has long since retired as a military commander by the time of his first appearance but is quickly drawn back into the larger conflicts.
  • Spider-Sense: His mild prescience grants him the ability to sense incoming danger moments before it happens.
  • Super Speed: Gains this ability following a botched interrogation by the Honores Matres.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Leads such a brutal and vast slaughter of the Honores Matres that his enemies use an Obliterator to make certain he's dead.
  • Time Stands Still: His perception when using his accelerated speed.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Resisting torture by the Honores Matres with the T-Probe cause his mentat abilities and Atreides genes to elevate him to a higher level of being, letting him move faster than the eye can see and granting him mild prescience.
    • Happens again in Dune: Chapterhouse when the Bene Gesserit attempt to imprint his ghola. Having been trained to resist such manipulations, this causes huge amount of stress on Teg, reawakening both his full memories and powers.

The Spacing Guild

    Guild in General 

One of the most powerful organizations in the Dune Universe. The Spacing Guild holds a monopoly on Interstellar Travel and as such all houses must deal with them. Navigators in the Guild consume excessive amounts of spice to allow short-term future sight enabling them to safely navigate their crafts.

  • Adaptational Badass: In the books, the Guild Navigators consume spice so when the Holtzman Drive activates and folds space, their limited precognition allows them to steer. In the Lynch film, the spice consumption allows them to fold space itself without the need for the Holtzman Drive.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Lynch film casts them all in black outfits with varying degrees of body alterations and incomprehensible voices.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Guild is an NGO Super Power who manipulate events to suit themselves. As such they're usually playing an indirect hand in whatever conflict is happening at the moment. This is more apparent in the Lynch film where it's they who demand the Emperor crush the Atreidies and Paul specifically, setting the plot in motion. They're also the one who facilitates the invasion of the Duke's base and the fight over Spice is in part because it's a key to controlling the Guild.
  • Red Right Hand: Two Guild Representatives are present during the climax of the original Dune to oversee things. They at first seem to be a pair of ordinary overweight men in grey suits until one loses a contact lens during the Fremen's attack. His eye is blue as are most who consume Spice, but it's such a strikingly dark shade that his eyes almost look black.
  • NGO Super Power: The necessity of Space Travel and the Guild's monopoly over it makes them a near-permanent fixture in the political landscape. They seldom hold direct power over any house but each house needs them for transport and travel.
    Duncan: "The Guild will live up to its basic rule: Never Govern. They're a parasitic growth, and they know it. They won't do anything to kill the organism which keeps them alive."



A Guild Steersman who debuts in Dune Messiah. He is part of a plot to overthrow Paul.

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: He appears at the beginning of the David Lynch film which adapts Dune whereas his book counterpart didn't appear until Dune Messiah.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: He is described as an elongated Fishman in the books, with webbed hands and feet who is contained within a Spice filled Tank. In the Lynch film, he's an only vaguely humanoid monstrosity many times larger than a person with atrophied arms and legs.
  • Anti-Magic: A sci-fi variation. When plotting against Paul, Mohiam has the conspirators converge around Edric. She and Edric believe that Paul's ability to see into the future is blocked by a Navigator's field of influence and allows them to plan without prying eyes. Edric also notes that, by the same token, Paul's future and movements are masked from him as well. Edric can only see where Paul has been and not where he is currently.
  • Body Horror: In movie, book, and miniseries Edric is used to show the body alterations from excess Spice consumption. Edric has since transformed into a creature bound inside of a tank that cannot ambulate on his own. The Lynch film goes even further with how alien he looks.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Scytale notes his surface-level civility masks a barely hidden condescension.
    Edric, the Guild Steersman, replied to the Reverend Mother now with a vocal curtsy contained in a sneer - a lovely touch of disdainful politeness.
  • Power Perversion Potential: He points out that Irulan has never shared a bed with Paul and as such cannot be the mother of a new dynasty. Irulan calls him a voyeur in response.

Bene Tleilax

    In General 
Mentioned in passing in the first Dune novel, then their agents prominently appearing in the second novel, Dune Messiah. They were only truly rounded out as a culture, however, in the fifth novel, Heretics of Dune - partially because, in-universe, they are very secretive about themselves. The Tleilaxu are an entire culture of Mad Scientists, barely tolerated by the rest of the Imperium, due to their skills at cloning and shape-shifting. Genetic manipulation is treated with revulsion by the Imperium, arguably more than the advanced technology of Ix, both of which frequently cross the lines set by the Butlerian Jihad against immoral technologies that pervert the human condition. While other factions such as the Bene Gesserit, Spacing Guild, and Great Houses can barely stand them, they tolerate their existence due to the occasional need for their illicit services.
  • Cloning Blues: Cloning is one of their most valued commodities. A Tleilaxu "Ghola" is a clone specifically made from cells taken from a dead individual.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: An entire race of them.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Every other faction treats them with primordial revulsion, due to their genetic manipulation toying with the stuff of life. At times they do side with the Bene Gesserit, Spacing Guild, or Great Houses against a shared enemy - but they are purely allies of convenience.
  • Genetic Memory: One of their major goals was figuring out how to get their "ghola" clones to regain their original memories, based purely on genetic memory. This was already known to exist within the Dune universe, but was previously only achieved by Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers undergoing the Spice Agony (unlocking all of their ancestral memories).
  • Human Resources
  • One-Gender Race: All Tleilaxu are male. Well, the Face Dancers are genetic constructs designed to be shapeshifters, but they are "sterile hermaphrodites" and usually default to male personas. The Tleilaxu are so secretive about society on their homeworld that thousands of years pass without outsiders learning how this works, assuming the Tleilaxu reproduce through cloning. They do reproduce through cloning, which is done using "axlotl tanks" - but their dark secret is that "axlotl tanks" are Tleilaxu females, altered to be unconscious, horrifically distorted biological cloning vats and nothing more.
  • Uterine Replicator: The Tleilaxu "axlotl tanks" used to grow their clones and genetic constructs. Except it turns out they didn't "replace" the uterus, they learned how to modify female humans - even captured ones - into just a big oversized womb with a body attached, left braindead and hooked up to life-support technology.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Their "Face Dancers" are genetic constructs who can voluntarily change their appearance to look like anyone, even changing their sex. They are still confined to shapeshifting within a roughly humanoid form.



Played by: Martin McDougall (2003 miniseries)

A Tleilaxu Face Dancer who participates in the conspiracy against the rule of Paul Atreides.

  • Ambiguous Gender: Farok inquires about his sex when they meet. Scytale responds that he is a Jadacha hermaphrodite and that he can be either sex at will but identifies as male at the moment.
  • 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 sietch to get near to him. Paul being Paul, he realizes the truth on first sight.
  • Eye Scream: Paul throws a crysknife into Scytale's right eye, killing him.
  • Gender Bender: Comes with being able of changing your appearance.
  • Killed Off for Real: Paul throws a well placed knife at him.
    • Subverted in the later books: given that his race are master cloners who have now figured out how to give a clone genetic memory of their previous life, they keep resurrecting new Scytale clones.
  • 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 Irulan's beauty firsthand, 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. It's 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.



Played by: Gee Williams (2003 miniseries)

A dwarf servant given to Paul by one of his former Fedaykin commandos. Actually a Tleilaxu, assigned to plant a hypnotic command to kill Paul within Hayt's mind.

    Tylwtyh Waff 

Tylwtyh Waff

The leader of the Tleilaxu in Heretics of Dune, he seeks Tleilaxu hegemony and attempts to make allegiances with the Honored Matres and Bene Gesserit in pursuit of his goal.

  • Out-Gambitted: Every attempt by Waff to use the Bene Gesserit to his ends gets foiled, forcing him to join his cause to theirs in the end.

Honored Matres

    In General 
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: They're a militarized melange of various all-female groups, including the much-abused Tleilaxu females and rogue Bene Gesserit, with the Fish Speakers as their core.
  • Big Bad: They are the main antagonists of Heretics and Chapterhouse.
  • Evil Counterpart: To the Bene Gesserit, who were Ambiguously Evil to begin with.
  • In-Series Nickname: The Bene Gesserit scornfully call them "the whores", due to their practices of using sexual enslavement to gain political power. This actually did originate from Bene Gesserit tactics, but they only used it for subterfuge when necessary - the Honored Matres cranked it Up to Eleven.
  • Invading Refugees: They were driven back into the Old Empire by the Thinking Machines.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A splinter group of Honored Matres accidentally stumbled on a Thinking Machine outpost, which alerts Ominus of the humans' location. The Matres then retreat to the Old Imperium which the Machines then follow.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: They're an off-shoot of rogue Bene Gesserit who spread out beyond the known space of the Imperium during the Scattering, who mixed with Fish Speaker all-female soldiers who also fled out there. Even their very name, "Honored Matres", is a corruption of the Bene Gesserit title "Reverend Mother". They refined some of the Bene Gesserit abilities to greater degrees, while other atrophied. They're much better at combat, and unlike the Bene Gesserit strategy of ruling from the shadows through intrigue, the Honored Matres seize power directly, and have carved out vast swaths of territory for themselves in Scattering space beyond the Old Imperium. At the same time, they lost most of the Bene Gesserit abilities to control their own chemical metabolism, making them vulnerable to biological warfare. They also stopped relying on the Spice to unlock their (non-prescient) abilities, so they switched to an artificial substitute...literally derived from pain (harvesting and refining the pain endorphines produced in torture victims). It doesn't give them prescience but unlocks their combat abilities. While the Spice makes Bene Gesserit eyes turn blue, this artificial substitute makes Honored Matres eyes blaze with a fiery orange color.
  • The Vamp: An entire group of them.



A promising young Honored Matre who was captured by the Bene Gesserit and trained in the ways of the Sisterhood.



The Great Honored Matre.

  • The Dreaded: Called the "Spider Queen" among Bene Gesserit sisters.

Thinking Machines

    In General 

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.



The Evermind, ruler of the Thinking Machines.

  • Greater-Scope Villain: 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.
  • Kill All Humans: The first machine to command all other Thinking Machines to do so.



A 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.



An enhanced Face Dancer, created by Erasmus to infiltrate the humans.

  • The Mole: The leader of the an entire army of infiltrators.
  • The Starscream: He plans to wait out the war till the humans and the machines exhaust themselves before he and his Face Dancers take over.

Alternative Title(s): Dune 1984


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: