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From a gameplay standpoint, hero skin themes are a group of Hero skins, which are cosmetic changes that change a Hero's appearance, that form part of a shared theme and can be of several types.

From the story standpoint, these shared themes represent different realms within the Nexus. These realms can be a new world in the Nexus such as those forming part of the lore of Luxoria and Raven Court, an entirely new unique realm with no related map, an alternative timeline to one of the main franchises, or merging characters from one franchise into another.

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Independent Realms

    The Burning Court 
A realm deep within the inferno, themed heavily after sports.
Characters: Azmodan, Kerrigan, Li-Ming

  • Ascended Meme: The Azmodunk meme being ascended as a legendary skin is the original basis for this realm.
  • Denser and Wackier: The Eternal conflict between the Nephalem, the High Heavens, and the Burning Hells still rages... in the arena of sports. Kerrigan is a CHEERLEADER.
  • Shout-Out: Azmodunk makes references to a number of generic basketball terms, but is overall a joke themed after Space Jam.

    Dark Nexus 
The Dark World Evil Counterpart to the Nexus.
Characters: Alarak, Gul'dan

  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Using the Dark Nexus is this. Why exactly is currently unexplained (aside from the Dark versions being hard to control, which the Raven Lord seemingly disproves), but its dangerous enough that armoured guards protect the entrance.
  • Evil Counterpart: To the Nexus itself. Rather than call on heroes, it creates monstrous versions of existing champions.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: The Dark versions seen so far are covered in Spikes of Villainy. They're also twisted in unique ways; Alarak has unearthly Floating Limbs and Gul'dan looks like a skeleton covered in felfire.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Dark Alarak is noted to seethe with contempt for pretty much all of existence, including his own.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: There also existed a Dark Dehaka together with Alarak and Gul'dan, but he was swiftly defeated and absorbed by the Raven Lord's Singularity to prove his superiority to the remaining twisted heroes.

    Gazlowe and Gallywix's Splendiferous Extravaganza 
The Denser and Wackier alternate timeline where Gazlowe runs a circus.
Characters: Gazlowe, Greymane

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    Luxoria 
A Ancient Egypt themed realm. The kingdom was nearly overrun by a viscous Silithid swarm, but the Pharaoh Ta-Sadar lifted the land into the Nexus to save it.
Characters: Brightwing, Chromie, Kharazim, Tassadar, Xul, Zagara

    MechaStorm 
Neo-Stormwind is a futuristic version of Earth that features an ongoing battle between the mecha and kaijo. The Mechas are sentient fighting machines developed by humanity to combat the Kaijos, as well the mysterious Xenotech. Kaijo are a race of creatures that apparently had their origin in Tristram Labs, as the city's government utilized nuclear power. These monsters currently plague the continent of Africa, but have some have been sighted at Neo-Stormwind.

The Caldeum Acropolis is a cybernetics-driven city in the same realm run by massive corporations instead of governments. The streets are ruled by the Azure Dragon, Vermillion Bird, Ivory Tiger and Onyx Turtle gangs, while the sinister Jigoku Cybernetics Corporation is planning something... evil down below.
Characters: Abathur, Anduin, Anub'arak, The Butcher, Chromie, Diablo, Dehaka, Kharazim, Lúcio, Malthael, Rehgar, Tassadar, Tyrael, Valla, Yrel, Zarya

  • Affectionate Parody: Of both the Kaiju and Super Robot genres.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The D3-H4K4 unit's AI reportedly has stopped following commands, to instead absorb essence from the fallen Kaijo it defeats.
  • Animesque: Easily the most Anime realm (at least the Neo-Stormwind parts).
  • Arc Welding: The Caldeum Complex skins seem at first like an entirely separate realm to that of Neo-Stormwwind, until the description for Cyber Oni Anub'arak confirms Jigoku Cybernetics based it off of the mech Cyb'arak, which was created by the Kaijoverse company Frozen Throne Technologies.
    • The reveal of the full story behind the company Jigoku also retroactively establishes Cyberdemon Zarya as being a part of this universe, as the name existed in that skin's flavor text ever since it launched.
  • Big Bad: Xenotech Abathur is setup as one. Jigoku Cybernetics is one specifically for the Caldeum Acropolis sub-theme of skins.
  • Cyber Punk: The Caldeum Acropolis is just reveling in it.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Lúcio was once another gang member, but was turned into the evil Speed Demon cyborg by Jigoku.
  • Enemy Mine: The Onyx Turtles and Azure Dragons join forces to combat Jigoku Corporation.
  • Foreshadowing: There exist several sprays for robotic versions of other characters: Azmodan, Chen, Kerrigan, Malthael (which became real), Ragnaros, Samuro, Zagara, Zeratul, and Zul'jin.
  • Humongous Mecha: Mecha Valla and Mecha Yrel are multistory robots being piloted. Of course, thanks to Units Not to Scale, the robots are normal sized and the pilots are about an inch tall.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Chromie's street art seems to predict events that come true, although many suspect her gang is responsible for forcing things to pass via hacking.
  • Mechanical Monster: The Butcher in this world is a perfect killing machine created by Jigoku Corporation, which is also styled after an Oni.
  • Playful Hacker: When this universe's Chromie isn't making prophetic street art, she's cracking computers.
  • Shout-Out: The Caldeum Acropolis is basically one big reference to Blade Runner, while the Mecha and Kaijo skins are ones to various Super Robot and Kaiju throughout the years.

    Midgard 
A futuristic realm with an aesthetic rooted in Norse Mythology, under constant threat from the Jotunheim Republic and their frost golem army. To this end, Midgard created the Thunder Guard to protect them.
Characters: Zarya

    Mistharbour 
A Pirate-themed Wretched Hive realm from the Nexus.
Characters: Cassia, Falstad, Stukov

  • Dressed to Plunder: The main aesthetic of the realm.
  • Ghost Pirate: Admiral Krakenov was a mutinied captain who returned as a skeleton with an octopus wrapped around him.

    Mystic Kingdoms 
A realm with a distinctly Eastern theme, based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Journey to the West.
Characters: Arthas, Samuro

  • Wuxia: The realm's general aesthetic.
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    Nexomania! 
A luchador-themed world and the greatest wrestling event in the multiverse!
Characters: Diablo, ETC, Garrosh, Kharazim, Lunara, Sonya

  • Excited Show Title!: The world has an exclamation mark in it!
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Most of the skin names (as well as the event's Announcer) are in Spanish.
  • Masked Luchador: All of the main competitors are this. Kharazim is instead a Boxing Battler while ETC is a mariachi player.
  • Planet of Hats: An entire universe built around Mexican wrestling.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: The main plot of the universe is the tag-team of Hell's Screamers as well as the final showdown between veteran La Pantera Sonya and newcomer La Parca Lunara.

    Raven Court 
A Dark Fantasy realms ruled over by the Raven Lord. Most Halloween event skins hail from this realm.
Characters: Alexstasza, Arthas, Greymane, Kerrigan, Maiev, Malthael, Nazeebo, Valeera, Valla, Whitemane, Zarya

  • Amazon Brigade: The Raven Lord's four generals are all female.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble:
    • Countess Sarah von Kerrigan and her vampire hordes, along with her suitor, the Crimson Count, aka Marquis Arthas du Menethil. On a wider scale, you have the warring Raven Lord and Grave Keeper, as well as the latter's minion, Grave Warden Malthael.
    • The Raven Lord's generals - Spectral Wyrm Alexstrasza, Spider Warden Maiev, Cursed Witch Whitemane, and Phantom Knight Zarya. They march alongside the Dark Nexus heroes and are leading the invasion of King's Crest.
  • Dark Fantasy: The realm is populated by vampires and classic monsters.
  • Enemy Civil War: One is ongoing between the forces of the Raven Lord and the undead armies of the Grave Keeper, the latter being led by Grave Warden Malthael. Neither of these groups have yet been linked to the ongoing conflict with the vampires.
  • Gothic Horror: Their main aesthetic.
  • La Résistance: One has formed to combat the vampire hordes, which includes Vampire Slayers Valla and V, as well as Greymane's counterpart Doctor Wolf.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Valeera's counterpart, the Vampire Slayer V, has turned on her own kind in order to wipe them out.
  • Shout-Out: A few.

    Raven Court High School 
An alternate version of Raven Court, set in a modern school.
Characters: Kerrigan, Leoric, Li-Ming, Orphea

  • Almighty Janitor: The mighty Skeleton King in all his power appears here... as the janitor.
  • Arc Welding: Kerrigan's cheerleader and Li-Ming's volleyball skins weren't originally part of a high school setting, instead being more general sports themed skins. They likely were added just to give this version of Orphea a Girl Posse to pose with at the end of her trailer.
  • High School A.U.: The world is one of these for the Nexus.

    Riskville 
A Lawless Western theme realm.
Characters: Raynor, Valla

    S.T.O.R.M. 
A realm themed after police dramas.
Characters: Greymane, Lt. Morales, Johanna

    Superheroes vs Eternal Empire 
Part Cyber Punk, part Space Opera, part Magical Girl themed realm.
Characters: Alexstrasza, Gazlowe, Kael'thas, Kel'Thuzad, Leoric, Li-Ming, Mal'Ganis, Medivh, Mephisto, Sonya, Tyrande, Whitemane

  • Adaptational Heroism: Mal'Ganis in this world is a millionaire superhero named Malcom Ganis wearing Powered Armor. However, it's implied that the alien heart powering the suit is slowly driving him insane.
  • Arc Welding: Originally, Earth vs Mars and Star Princess vs Eternal Empire were two separate themes. The release of Eagle Eye Tyrande welded them together.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Mad Martian Gazlowe, Dark Queen Alextrasza, Celestial Empress Whitemane and the Eternal Empire (Space Lord Leoric, Star Lich Kel'thuzad, and Star Wraith Mephisto) all have separate motivations and story.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Star Wraiths, represented in-game by Star Wraith Mephisto, are a horde of machines used by the Eternal Empire to subjugate worlds.
  • Shout-Out: Deserve special mentions for the sheer amount:
    • Super Sonya's origin, of a time-displaced warrior from an ancient time, brings Samurai Jack to mind. Her cybernetic enhancements also reference Cable, more overtly so in the "Techno" tint, where she shares his color scheme.
    • Star Princess Li-Ming is Sailor Moon in all but name. One of her alternate tints for it is "Thunder Star Princess" which gives her a similar color scheme to Sailor Jupiter. A second set of skins, Star Queen Li-Ming, is also a reference, being a reference to the various upgraded forms. It's alternate colors are Neo Star Queen and Eternal Star Queen, referanceing Sailor Moon's Neo-Queen Serenity and Eternal Sailor Moon forms.
    • Space Lord Leoric is a Darth Vader Clone while Star Lich Kel'thuzad is Expy of the Emperor.
    • Cyberhawk Kael'thas has a bird-themed, cutting edge Power Armor that brings many other billionaire superheroes to mind, mainly Iron Man and Batman.

    Viper Ascendant 
A realm crushed beneath the tyrannical grip of the technologically-advanced terrorist organization Viper. This criminal paramilitary outfit serves as the military arm and leadership for the united world government, using ruthless tactics and army of fiercely loyal soldiers to conquer the world in merely two decades. Now, their terrifying agents stamp out insurrections wherever they might take root. Despite this, a secret resistance formed in the shadows, and are fighting back for the United States.
Characters: Ana, Blaze, Deckard, Genji, Hanzo, Stukov

  • Alternate History: The realm takes place on an alternate Earth.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Major Deckard Pain.
  • Big Bad: Stukov, who rules the world as the Imperator.
  • Cold Sniper: Ana's counterpart, Sidewinder, in contrast to her normally warm, if disciplined self.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The preview for the original skin set ends with a mysterious, unidentified figure punching the screen with the three agents on it, knocking down a picture of a little girl. This turns out to have been Blaze, setting up the Sequel Hook for next year.
  • Expy: Motif wise, Viper resembles both Cobra and the Brotherhood of Nod. The new resistance set makes the GI Joe one far more blatant.
  • La Résistance: Hanzo, Deckard, and Blaze have formed one and are fighting for their own personal reasons: Deckard is an Old Soldier who watched the United States fall, Hanzo is a black op on a mission to kill his brother Deathfang, and Blaze is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after Viper killed his daughter.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Viper's default color scheme.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: The 'Veteran' tint for Delta Hanzo has an American flag painted over his chest. A bit odd, since his name is still Hanzo Shimada in this universe.

    Warchrome 
A Mad Max styled realm ruled over by Garrosh's Outriders.
Characters: Azmodan, Deckard, Garrosh, Nazeebo, Raynor

  • After the End: The world takes place after an unknown doomsday event.
  • The Apunkalypse: Its general aesthetic.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty.
    • Garrosh's title as the Warsong Outrider leader is Max Axe.
    • Azmodan's Dominus vile skin is derived heavily from Immortan Joe.
    • Raynor's skin is a blatant Expy of the GhostRider. The skin's backstory (of a lawman gone mad in a post-apocalyptic world) is also a reference to Max's backstory.

Diablo

    Standalone alternate history 
What If? scenarios that show a very different Diablo universe.
Characters: Auriel, Diablo, Imperius, Tyrael, Valla

  • Evil Counterpart: Demonic version of the Angels.
  • Good Counterpart: Angelic version of Diablo.
  • Swapped Roles: Diablo is one of the Archangels, while Tyrael is a Prime Evil and Imperius is a Sinlord. Auriel is exempt, since her version is her soul tortured and trapped in a demon's body.

StarCraft

    Shared alternate history - Protoss 
A Feudal Japan themed timeline (still set in the Video Game/Starcraft universe) with Protoss characters.
Characters: Artanis, Zeratul

  • Badass Normal: Zeratul and Artanis have no psionic powers in this version.
  • Ronin: Zeratul became this after failing to protect his master.

    Standalone alternate history 
What If? scenarios with an emphasis on For Want of a Nail situation.
Characters: Artanis, Kerrigan, Nova, Probius, Tychus, Zeratul

  • Adaptational Villainy: Purifier Artanis, when compared to his regular self and the canon Purifiers. His first act on re-activation was to purge Aiur of Protoss life, then set out to wipe all organic life from the sector.
  • For Want of a Nail: The theme spend considerable time exploring these scenarios:
    • High Templar/Executor Zeratul: What if Zeratul and Tassadar swapped roles in the story of StarCraft 1?
    • Infested Tychus: What if Tychus got infested after Raynor shot him and left him on Char?
    • Purifier Artanis: What if Artanis was brain-scanned instead of Fenix?
    • Queen of Ghosts Kerrigan: What if Kerrigan was fully cleansed at the beginning of Heart of the Swarm?
    • Spectre Nova: What if Nova become a Spectre with Tosh?
    • Terran Probius: What if Probius was built as part of a Terran research program?

Warcraft

    Alterac Pass 
The armies of the Stormpike and Frostwolves.
Characters: Auriel, Garrosh, Johanna, Junkrat, Muradin, Rehgar, Valeera, Varian

  • Adaptational Heroism: Unlike his canon version, High Warlord Garrosh remained loyal to Thrall and didn't go mad with power.
  • Blind Seer: Drek'thar, though instead of receiving his vision from the elements, the Raven Lord saw fit to give him a vision of the Alliance's imminent invasion.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The Alliance forces, led by Grand Marshal Varian and Vanndar Stormpike, were rallied together by the Lady of Thorns in response to the Raven Lord's impending invasion of the Alterac Pass realm.
  • Mini-Mecha: Junkrat's skin turns him into a goblin piloting a bot to essentially give him longer limbs.
  • Neutral No Longer: Auriel, being a Spirit Healer here, would usually be an impartial force, but the conflict against the Raven Lord's Horde inspires her to join with the Alliance instead.

    Call of Kel'Thuzad 
Twisted members of the Scourge, commanded by the Archlich of Naxxramas himself.
Characters: Jaina, Sonya, Zagara

  • Ascended Meme: For the longest time following the Cataclysm, a running joke in the Warcraft community was that Jaina, at one point following Theramore's destruction, had been replaced by a Dreadlord. It finally came full circle with Jaina receiving a Dreadlord skin.
  • Deal with the Devil: Effectively how this Sonya became Kel'Thuzad's Death Knight, selling her soul for power to avenge her people.
  • Nostalgia Level: The skins that came with this event are a wholesale reference to the heroic units of the Scourge in Warcraft III, with Jaina as the Dreadlord, Sonya as the Death Knight and Zagara as the Crypt Lord. Kel'Thuzad himself filled in the spot of the Lich.

    Shared alternate history - Night Elf 
What If? the Stormrage brothers swapped place?
Characters: Malfurion, Lunara, Illidan, Tyrande

  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tyrande takes the place of Maiev, forever on the hunt for the Betrayer, Malfurion.
  • Swapped Roles: Illidan and Malfurion switch places, and Tyrande takes over for Maiev. Presumably Maiev is now in Tyrande's place, although that skin hasn't been released yet. Lunara joins the the Sentinels before eventually joining Tyrande as a Warden.

    Shared alternate history - Orc 
What If? the Orcs were fully corrupted?
Characters: Samuro, Thrall

  • Arch-Enemy: Samuro considered Thrall one in this timeline.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: This version of Thrall is hunting down Gul'dan's Shadow Council one-by-one in revenge for Durotan.

    Shared alternate history - Pandaren 
What If? Li Li and Chen existed thousand of years earlier, during the reign of the Thunder King?
Characters: Chen, Li Li

  • Adaptational Villainy: Chen here is one of Lei Shen's Warmasters, in direct opposition to the shadowy rebellion Li Li is part of.

Merged Franchises

    Diablo 
Various characters from different franchises, made part of the Diablo universe.
Characters: Junkrat, Maiev, Murky, Nova, Sylvanas, Zeratul

  • Amazonian Beauty: Nova as an Amazon, appropriately named Novazon.
  • Expy: Sylvanas is one for the Rogue from Diablo 1, whose corruption by Andariel turned her into Blood Raven.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Both Junkrat and Zeratul take on demonic looks; Junkrat as a lesser demon who scrounges for resources along Pandemonium's ruined war-machines, and Zeratul as an Unraveler conjured by Mephisto.
  • The Squire: Effectively what Murky, or Sir Murkalot, serves as to Johanna.

    Overwatch 
Various characters from different franchises, made part of the Overwatch universe.
Characters: Auriel, Nova, Varian

  • Benevolent A.I.: Given that her primary focus is taking in the blooming cherry blossoms at the start of spring, the Omnic Auriel falls under this.
  • Expy: Nova as Widowmaker. Even the backstory has fun with the similarities.
    Once, she once led a normal life... But now, after intense neural reconditioning, she is one of the most effective assassins still alive. Oh, and this skin makes her look like Widowmaker.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Varian in this universe is a security officer working under Volskaya Industries, specifically for their operations in the Nexus.

    StarCraft 
Various characters from different franchises, made part of the Video Game/Starcraft universe.
Characters: Anub'arak, The Butcher, D.Va, E.T.C., Illidan, Li-Ming, Muradin, Murky, Rexxar, Tracer, Uther

  • Call-Back: The Anub'alisk hails from Cavir, the planet in Heart of the Swarm Kerrigan is sent to by Abathur to retrieve the sequences for Lurkers, the Zerg variant that inspired the skin. It's also stated to have been recovered by Abathur and Mukav's rogue brood, a reference to the events of the novel StarCraft Evolution.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Medic Uther's description quotes the law directly. His abilities heal via nanomachines, but function identically to the Light magic regular Uther uses.
  • Development Gag: Grunty Murky, Level 800 E.T.C., and Maraudin' Muradin are based on the original models for those characters back when the game was a StarCraft II mod. E.T.C.'s also doubles as a Mythology Gag to an April Fools' Day joke Blizzard made involving Tauren Marines.
  • Legacy Character: The Butcherlisk is a strain of Ultralisk that Abathur created after watching the actual Butcher fight in the Nexus, rather than being an alternate universe version of the Butcher himself.

    Warcraft 
Various characters from different franchises, made part of the Warcraft universe. This also includes some characters from Call of Kel'Thuzad and Alterac Pass.
Characters: Alarak, Azmodan, Blaze, Diablo, D.Va, Hanzo, Johanna, Junkrat, Kerrigan, Leoric, Lt. Morales, Sgt. Hammer

  • Demonic Possession: Somewhat implied from the AzGul'dan skin, where Gul'dan consumed Azmodan's blood following Mannoroth's blood, turning into a twisted hybrid of the Orc warlock and the demonic general.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Played straight with Alarak, acting as a herald of N'zoth. Parodied in Diablo's case, where he's a towering monstrosity of a Murloc dubbed Lurkablo by Stormwind fishermen.
  • Horny Demons: Kerrigan has two such skins; one as an ordinary succubus queen ruling over a brood, and the other as an agent of the Burning Legion.
  • Klingon Promotion: Leoric rising to become God-King of the Vrykul involved slaughtering everyone attempting to take his place as ruler.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: With D.Va as an Expy of Deathwing, her mech takes the form of the dragon's main body, while D.Va in her pilot form appears more akin to a Dragon Aspect's humanoid form. Totally unique to the skin is D.Va herself "piloting" the dragon, where she appears to be a fetal blob growing out of its front.
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