House Atreides and Supporters
The good guys. Mostly. Seem to be descendants of the Atreides and Agamemnon, and their ancestor's curse still seems to hold sway over them.
Duke Leto Atreides
Played by: Jürgen Prochnow (1984 film), William Hurt (2000 miniseries), Oscar Isaac (2020 film)
- 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, there is significant debate, both in-universe and among the fanbase, about how much of the Duke's attitude is genuine concern, a calculated ploy to win loyalty and the Duke trying to be calculating but Becoming the Mask.
- Gilded Cage: Arrakis, and on a smaller scale the Governor's mansion (which is encased with shields).
- Guile Hero: He's not really coldblooded enough to be The Chessmaster; that's Hawat's job. But he knows how to scheme and plot reasonably well.
- Like a Son to Me: The Emperor himself confided that he wished to have Leto for a son, and regrets that "political necessities" obliged him to screw him over.
- Papa Wolf: They have tried to take the life of my son!
- 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.
Played by: Francesca Annis (1984 film), Saskia Reeves (2000 miniseries), Alice Krige (2003 miniseries), Rebecca Ferguson (2020 film)
- Abusive Parents: Reverend Mother Mohiam was a mother figure to Jessica during her childhood and was secretly her biological mother. However, Mohiam speaks cruelly to Jessica, and when Paul protests, Mohiam states that she used Jessica as her servant during childhood. It's implied that she's treated Jessica with a mixture of love and cruelty all her life.
- Always Someone Better: Paul, who one-ups his mother's hyper-awareness. ("She's so slow.")
- Beneath the Mask: Type B: hidden powers.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Even if she is one of the kindest, most humane people among House Atreides, she is still a Bene Gesserit — with all the power and skill that implies.
- Compelling Voice: A Bene Gesserit power, which she also taught Paul.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Vamp: The Bene Gesserit specifically bred and trained her to be one. However, Jessica hasn'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.
Played by: Kyle MacLachlan (1984 film), Alec Newman (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Timothée Chalamet (2020 film)
- 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.
- 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.
- A God I Am Not: He willingly gave up the opportunity, as he had too much of a conscience to subject humanity to the monstrosity of a physical god; Leto II and Ghanima then have to pick up his slack. When he is found out to be alive, Gurney Halleck admonishes him for running away from what he started.
- The Atoner: By the end of Dune Messiah and in Children of Dune.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: He was good before he got to Arrakis. However once the spice kicked in, his analytical prowess Took A Level In God-like Prescience.
- 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 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" and "The teacher of boys."
- Galactic Conqueror: He conquered the Imperium and became its new ruler.
- Generation Xerox: Paul ends up keeping Chani on as his "concubine", precisely as his father did.
- Going Native: After the fall of the house of Atreides, he and Jessica find refuge among the Fremen and quickly assimilate into their culture.
- Gone Horribly Right: The Bene Gesserit wanted a man with the perfect genes, so they could control the course of human history through him. Instead, they ended up unleashing a massive uncontrollable wave of religious hysteria across the galaxy, changing human civilization forever.
- It's also heavily implied that the Bene Gesserit seed "messiah" myths among various primitive cultures on planets (like the Fremen of Arrakis) specifically so that, if a Bene Gesserit finds herself on the run in such a place with no other allies, they can conveniently make themselves out to be said messiah, so they at least have some people around to help them out. These legends are ultimately what control Paul's fate among the Fremen.
- I Have Many Names: Paul Atreides, Lisan-al-Gaib, Usul, Muad'dib, The Preacher.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: What he would like to be after becoming the all-purpose political and religious figurehead messiah of humanity.
- 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: 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.
- 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 surive 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Zen Survivor: A "living in secrecy version" in Children of Dune.
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.
- A God Am I: Strangely enough, it's devoid of the ego that usually accompanies this trope. Leto is simply invincible, or near it.
- And I Must Scream: His awareness supposedly exists in each of the sandtrout and sandworms produced from his body. In his words, he is a pearl of awareness locked in an endless dream.
- Anti-Hero: Leto wants to help humanity, but the way he does it is pretty brutal.
- 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.
- BrotherSister 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.
- Gambit Roulette: His entire plan for saving mankind.
- Genetic Memory: Like many of the Atreides line.
- 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.
- 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.
- Orwellian Editor: Being a Kwisatz Haderach, has full access to his masculine and feminine genetic memory which stretches from about the year 100,000 back to the beginning of human awareness. What does he do with it? He has historians burned alive for misconstruing the facts that he has personal access to. Of course, this was partly mystique-building, as he secretly rendered them unconscious first.
- Prescience Is Predictable: Leto makes a few statements towards this end.
- Psychic Powers: 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.
- 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.
Played by: Jessica Brooks (2003 miniseries)The daughter of Paul and Chani and twin sister of Leto II.
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. As she grows older and her family drifts apart, the tide of ancestral memories threatens to overwhelm her. She finds solace by uniting with the memory of her grandfather, the Baron Harkonnen, and becomes the Big Bad of Children of Dune.
- 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: Trains in the nude.
- Genetic Memory: Ends up getting the memories of her grandfather Baron Harkonnen.
- High Priest: Leads the Muab´Dib religion from the Temple of Alia.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: She has her moments in Dune Messiah.
- Little Miss Badass: As a child, she killed the Baron, and living in Arrakis combined with full Bene Gesserit combat training from her Other Memory probably meant that she could present a problem to the Sardaukar.
- Additionally, in Fremen culture the men fight in the battle, the women drag fatal casualties to the deathstills, and the children ensure all the casualties are fatal. Alia's enthusiastic participation in this tradition at the end of the first book earns her her epithet, "Of The Knife".
- Older Than They Look: Uses Bene Gesserit body controlling skills to not age. This means she is around mid twenties but looks fifteen or so.
- Red Baron: She is called "Saint Alia Of The Knife" by supporters.
- Regent for Life: Becomes this after Paul's disappearance.
- Sanity Slippage: In Children Of Dune as a result of her Genetic Memories being suppressed for too long.
- Ship Tease: With the revived Duncan Idaho in Dune Messiah. It develops into a full blown romance.
- Tragic Villain: In the end, she was driven mad by being exposed to Genetic Memory and becomes pitiable, rather than despicable.
- 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.
Played by: Freddie Jones (1984 film), Jan Vlasák (2000 miniseries), Stephen McKinley Henderson (2020 film)Leto's right hand man and chief adviser.
- Best Served Cold: Waits for years to take his revenge in motion without fail.
- The Chessmaster: Sets a plan to manipulate Feyd and kill the Harkonnens from the inside.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the 1984 film, he is required to milk a cat for the antidote to the poison he has been administered by the Harkonnens.
- The Consigliere: To the Atreides.
- Fake Defector: Pretends to work for the Harkonnens, but in reality he is just waiting for a chance to strike at them.
- 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 compeltely 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.
Dr. Wellington Yueh
Played by: Dean Stockwell (1984 film), Robert Russell (2000 miniseries), Chang Chen (2020 film)The personal physician to Duke Atreides.
- Beneath Suspicion: Due to his mental conditioning that should have made it impossible for him to harm others.
- 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.
- I Have Your Wife : What led to his agreement to betray the Atreides.
- Love Makes You Crazy: He betrays a man he genuinely admires to one he utterly despises. And what's more, he knows that Baron Harkonnen has all but certainly murdered his wife. However, see The Power of Love below...
- The Medic: In addition to the usual trappings of the trope, he has undergone conditioning designed to make it impossible for him to harm others.
- The Mole: The in-universe equivalent to Judas Iscariot. He doesn't relish the prospect of being remembered as a notorious traitor.
- The Power of Love: A very dark example. In the Duniverse, doctors of the Suk School undergo mental conditioning so they really can do no harm, but Yueh's feelings for his wife were so strong it allowed him to overcome it. It's left open whether this is really due to love or the fact that his wife was a Bene Gesserit and the whammy that they habitually put on everybody they come in contact with was just stronger than the one he got from the Suk School.
- Taking You with Me: Yueh is unsure of whether his wife is alive, but plans to take out the Baron in either case.
- 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.
Played by: Patrick Stewart (1984 film), P. H. Moriarty (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Josh Brolin (2020 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) but still not "ugly".
- Badass Normal: In a universe of super-powered lordlings and hardened desert fighters, Gurney stands out for being none of those.
- 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."
Played by: Richard Jordan (1984 film), James Watson (2000 miniseries), Edward Atterton (2003 miniseries), Jason Momoa (2020 film)Another Atreides retainer, he serves as the House's swordmaster, responsible for managing the household's defenses. He dies in the first book, only to be reincarnated over and over again in later books.
- Ambiguously Brown: He's described as having a dark, round face, with black curly hair like a goat's, and eyes with definite epicanthic folds.
- Ascended Extra: He appears more than any of the main characters of the entire series.
- 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.
- 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.
- Empowered Badass Normal: 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.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Why he dies in Dune.
"Two deaths for the Atreides. The second for no better reason than the first."
- Does it again in Children of Dune.
- Master Swordsman: Though by his own admission, not quite as good as Gurney ("Gurney could best me six times out of ten."). 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.
- They Killed Kenny Again: He returns and he's killed many times in the series because most of them are gholas.
Played by: Max von Sydow (1984 film), Karel Dobrý (2000 miniseries), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (2020 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.
- 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.
- Gender Flip: Is changed to a woman in the 2020 adaptation.
- Going Native: Kynes is treated this way by several characters; seen 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." The reality is more complicated as Kynes's father was a straighter example of the trope whilst Kynes himself was born on Arrakis and is 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 Sardaukar, 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 Sardaukar with little to no hope of rescue, and dies soon afterwards.
Played by: Sean Young (1984 film), Barbora Kodetová (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Zendaya (2020 film)
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
Played by: Everett McGill (1984 film), Uwe Ochsenknecht (2000 miniseries), Steven Berkoff (2003 miniseries), Javier Bardem (2020 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.
- Asskicking Equals Authority/Klingon Promotion : The method by which Fremen choose their chiefs, with Stilgar being no exception. Paul, however, spares him, reasoning that he does not want to waste a useful talent.
- Defeat Means Friendship: He's dismissive of Jessica when he first meets her, but takes her seriously after she subdues him in hand-to-hand combat. The two become friends and allies afterwards.
- Demoted to Dragon: After Paul refuses to go through with the Klingon Promotion rite.
- Best Friends-in-Law: With Pardot Kynes, who married his sister - Frieth.
- The Mentor: To Paul, and later to Leto.
- Noble Savage: A subversion, as with the Fremen in general. He's certainly among the most noble Fremen, but even he is not without shades of gray.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: He's a leader and distinguished warrior among the Fremen.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's both a friend and father figure to Paul throughout the series.
Played by: Judd Omen (1984 film), Christopher Lee Brown (2000 miniseries), Babs Olusanmokun (2020 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.
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.
- 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.
Harkonnens and Supporters
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Played by: Kenneth McMillan (1984 film), Ian McNeice (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Stellan Skarsgård (2020 film)
- Adaptational Ugliness: In the film, not only is he obese but physically dishevelled and his face is covered with suppurating sores which have been speculated by some to be a metaphor for AIDs.
- 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.
- 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.
- Depraved Homosexual: He has slave boys delivered to his quarters, and the Dune Encyclopedia, though not canonical, hints that his attractions may extend to Feyd-Rautha. There are hints of it in the David Lynch film as well. He certainly had designs on Paul, but gave them up when he realized how lethally dangerous the boy was.
- 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 cancelled 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: 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 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.
- Knightof 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.
- 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.
- 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.
"I will take it unkindly if ever again you suggest by word or action that I am so stupid."
- 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.
- 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
Played by: Brad Dourif (1984 film), Jan Unger (2000 miniseries), David Dastmalchian (2020 film)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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's prematurely bumped off. And of course, after he died, the Baron says multiple times that he wishes he still had Piter around.
Played by: Sting (1984 film), Matt Keeslar (2000 miniseries)
- 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.
- 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."
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: "On his seventeenth birthday, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen killed his one hundredth slave-gladiator." That's because each of those slaves was drugged or programmed to respond to Safe Words. And of course, his weapons are all poisoned. This time he faces one of Leto's elite troopers, and he very nearly winds up dead despite the deck being stacked in his favour.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He's killed in his duel with Paul when a poison flip-dart in his leotard gets caught in the floor during a grapple, pinning him in place long enough for Paul to inflict a death-blow. Paul also had a chance to stack the fight in his favor by using a Bene Gesserit paralysis command on Feyd, but decided against it in favor of beating him in a fair fight.
- The Sociopath: Feyd has no moral compass and enjoys killing. He's also intelligent, self-centres 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.
Count Glossu Rabban
Played by: Paul L. Smith (1984 film), László I. Kish (2000 miniseries), Dave Bautista (2020 film)
- Ascended Extra: He has only one brief appearance in the original book; he is a considerably more significant character in the film, miniseries, and prequels.
- The Brute: The Baron describes him as a "muscle-minded tank-brain". Played straight in the movie, but subverted in the first book, in which Rabban is insightful about the potential Fremen threat.
- The Cassandra: He warns his uncle that the Fremen deserve attention and encourages him to undertake a Fremen census on Arrakis, but the Baron refuses to listen.
- 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 eight 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 Herberts 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
Played by: Jack Nance (1984 film)
- 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.
- 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
Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV
Played by: José Ferrer (1984 film), Giancarlo Giannini (2000 miniseries)
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Here, have this planet-sized Death Trap with no way out except through the Guild which takes my bribes.
- Big Bad: Along with Baron Harkonnen, during the first book.
- Cool Helmet: With a lion design on it.
- Deadpan Snarker: Shows a fair degree of it during his talk with Vladimir Harkonnen, showing himself to be incredibly sarcastic as the Baron tries to explain his failures.
- The Emperor: His role.
- Evil Redhead: Messy red hair during his introduction, though it could be assumed to be blond-ish due to Irulan's previous descriptions of him.
- The Exile: After abdicating the throne to Paul, Shaddam is banished to the Sardaukar prison planet.
- Friendly Enemy: In secret, Shaddam admires his cousin Leto, and had once mentioned to Irulan that he had wished the political climate that necessitated wiping out the Atreides did not exist. As it stands, the Emperor orders Leto's death simply for having a more powerful army than him.
- King Bob the Nth: Shaddam IV.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Emperor boots Leto out of Caladan, only for his heir to return and unseat him from the throne.
- No Honor Among Thieves: His paranoia won't allow him to leave the Baron alive with what he knows.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: One of the quotes by Irulan recount the emperor receiving a beautiful sex slave from Hassimir as a gift and politely rejecting her. 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.
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.
- The Dragon: To Shaddam IV.
- Eunuchs Are Evil: Sort of. He is one of the most sympathetic of the villains and serves out of loyalty to the Emperor.
- Flawed Prototype: At the end of Dune, he is revealed to be a failed Kwisatz Haderach.
- Happily Married: Very much like Jessica and Leto. With one small exception...
- Immune to Fate: Although he falls short of being a true Kwisatz Haderach, he's close enough that Paul can't read him.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Acts like this, but stops after realizing what Paul is and doesn't kill him even when Shaddam gives a direct order.
- Not So Different: Paul realizes this at the end.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Seems little more than a harmless fop, but is actually much smarter and deadlier than he looks.
- Only Friend: To the Emperor, since childhood.
Played by: Virginia Madsen (1984 film), Julie Cox (2000 & 2003 miniseries)
One of the emperor's daughters and known to have had some Bene Gesserit training, though due to being of royal blood she never reached whatever potential she may have had due to some sense of entitlement and haughtiness she could never quite remove sufficiently. She's known to have 'literary aspirations' and provides many of the chapter quotes in the form of biographies written after the fact.
- 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 Deadly 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.
- 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.
Played by: Susan Sarandon (2003 miniseries)
- 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 Farah'n is so strained that towards the end of the story, the latter sends her into exile.
Played by: Jonathan Brüün (2003 miniseries)
- 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 private army of the Padishah Emperor.
- Always Someone Better: The Sardaukar are so good because they are trained on the Death World of Salusa Secundus. Leto (and Paul) correctly figure out that Arrakis is an even worse Death World and so its inhabitants, the Fremen, will be able to beat the Sardaukar.
- Asskicking Equals Authority
- Back-to-Back Badasses: In close combat and when outnumbered, Sardaukar are trained to fight in formations of three so they never show their backs to the enemy.
- Common Ranks: Their ranks are a combination of traditional Western ones and Arabic titles to go with Dune's cultural mix theme, such as "Colonel-Bashar".
- Crazy-Prepared: To the point of equipping themselves with fake toes (with stabbing implements!) and garrotes in their hair in the form of shigawire.
- Cultured Warrior: Tyekanik and the higher-ranked Sardaukar end up adapting some aspects of the Fremen faith, finding common ground there with their experiences.
- Death World: All the Sardies get a Training from Hell upbringing on Salusa Secundus, the devastated former seat of House Corrino (a wasteland planet similarly harsh and inhospitable as Arrakis).
- 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.
Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Played by: Siân Phillips (1984 film), Zuzana Geislerová (2000 & 2003 miniseries), Charlotte Rampling (2020 film)
- Abusive Parents: She treats Jessica with a combination of love and cruelty, as she has done since Jessica was a child.
- Bald of Evil: (only in the 1984 film) Bald because she's a Bene Gesserit, but she's a 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.
- 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!
- Evil Matriarch: She's the highest-ranked Bene Gesserit, an evil schemer, and an all-around jerkass.
- Jerkass: She's scathing to Jessica, Paul, and others.
- Killed Offscreen: Stilgar kills her offscreen near the end of Dune Messiah.
- Living Lie Detector: As the Emperor's Truthsayer.
- Happily Married: Despite everything, she and the Count do love one another.
- Sexless Marriage: Mostly because the Count is incapable of sexual intercourse.
- Your Cheating Heart: Averted. Margot obeys the orders of her Bene Gesserit superiors to conceive a daughter with Feyd-Rautha, but she has the Count's permission.
Played by: Martin McDougall (2003 miniseries)
- 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.
- 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. Is just that he has his own interests on board.
- Xanatos Gambit: His plan in Dune Messiah. The conspiracy against Paul succeeds? Then he and his co-conspirators have eliminated the single greatest threat to their factions. It fails? He finally figures out how to awaken a ghola to its original memories, a process the Tleilaxu have struggled to master for a very long time.
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.
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.
- 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 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.
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.
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.