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Main Character Index > Heroic Organizations > Guardians of the Galaxy > Star-Lord | Gamora | Rocket Raccoon | Drax the Destroyer | Yondu Udonta | Nebula

Spoilers for all works set prior to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are unmarked.

Nebula

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nebulaendgame.png
"You were the one who wanted to win. And I just wanted a sister!"

Species: Enhanced Luphomoid

Affiliation(s): Children of Thanos, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers

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Portrayed by: Karen Gillan

Voiced by: María E. Sandoval (Latin-American Spanish dub), Cecilia Santiago (European Spanish dub), Natsuki Mori (Japanese dub), Laëtitia Lefebvre (French dub), Kim Jalabert (Canadian French dub), Gabriela Medeiros (Brazilian Portuguese dub)

Appearances: Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Infinity War | Avengers: Endgame | What If...? | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

"I will hunt my father like a dog and I will tear him apart slowly, piece by piece, until he knows some semblance of the profound and unceasing pain I know every single day."

The Luphomoid daughter of Thanos, she has been cybernetically enhanced to become a savage killer.


     # to H 
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In the comics, Nebula is a straight-up villain. This version of Nebula ends up reforming and goes on her own quest to defeat Thanos.
    • In Endgame, she joins The Avengers for five years, and officially joins the Guardians at the end of the film.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the original Infinity Gauntlet saga, Nebula actually steals the completed Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos and usurps Thanos as the Big Bad, becoming the True Final Boss of the miniseries. Nebula never comes close to doing anything like this in the movies.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Tony Stark refers to her as Blue Meanie when recording his message to Pepper while stranded on the Benetar, although the level of affection is up for debate as he also calls her "only a little bit sadistic."
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Her 2014 self is killed by her present self in Endgame after pulling a Redemption Rejection. However considering how said Redemption Rejection seemed to be more motivated out of fear than anything else, and her present self seems genuinely conflicted before killing her, it's hard not to feel some sympathy for her.
  • All There in the Manual: The first issue of the the prelude comic focuses a lot on her; the first line of its synopsis is "Who is Nebula."
  • Aloof Ally: Nebula becomes something of an ally to the Guardians in Vol. 2 after she was finally able to let her resentment she held towards Gamora go. It's not until the end of Avengers Endgame that Nebula officially joins the crew.
  • Always Someone Better: Revealed in Vol. 2 that she got her cybernetic implants because Gamora and herself would duel for Thanos, with the loser getting a body part replaced with a cybernetic implant. The fact that she's mostly a cyborg and Gamora isn't shows who was the better fighter, which Nebula resented.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • In the prelude comic for the first movie, it's revealed how she gained most of her cybernetics. The first time was when she and Gamora were made to fight in a training exercise and Gamora threw her off a cliff. The second time was when she rushed ahead during a mission and got caught in a trap, Thanos demanded Gamora leave her behind, but before she did, Gamora gave Nebula a knife which she used to cut her flesh out of the trap, which includes her entire left arm.
    • Vol. 2 further elaborates that Thanos made Nebula and Gamora spar against each other not just once, but many times, and Gamora always won; something that Nebula resents deeply.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: By Vol. 2, she only has hatred for Thanos and is willing to team up with Gamora and the Guardians if it means his destruction.
  • Anti-Villain: Nebula is a ruthless killer, but it's all but outright stated that she never wanted to become Thanos' living weapon, making her a victim of the Mad Titan. She also has some affection for Gamora despite the bad blood between them, and became Ronan's lieutenant not out of malice, but simply because Ronan was The Starscream against Thanos and shared her goals of toppling him. This is expanded upon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with the explanation for her hatred of Gamora.
  • Ascended Extra: She started out as a relatively minor antagonist for Gamora and the Guardians, by extension. However, following her character development in Vol. 2 and Infinity War, she has a large character arc in Endgame, larger than any of the other Guardians, helped by the fact that everyone else aside from Rocket is dead. Her unreformed past self is also the catalyst for the entire final battle of said film. In fact, only the main three Avengers have more screentime than Nebula in Endgame.
  • Badass in Distress:
    • She starts Vol. 2 as a captive of the Sovereigns, with Gamora and the Guardians making a deal to at least stop the Soverigns from executing her by transferring her to imprisonment under the Nova Corps instead.
    • When she turns up in Infinity War, she's been captured and tortured by Thanos after nearly managing to kill him. She does manage to break herself out, but only after Thanos tortures her to coerce Gamora into revealing the Soul Stone's location.
    • It happens to her again in Endgame, and once again it's Gamora who saves her. One can see how she might start to acquire a complex about her sister at this point.
  • Bad Liar: Thanos intentionally never taught his adopted children to lie, and much like Gamora, Nebula is terrible at it. Baby Groot is the only one she's able to successfully lie to, and even he took some convincing.
  • Bald of Evil: Not a hair on this professional assassin's head.
  • Bald Woman: As mentioned above, Nebula lacks any visible hair. This continuity's bonus material states it as a racial trait of Luphomoids.note 
  • Big Damn Heroes: In Infinity War, she arrives on Titan just in time to slow down Thanos as he's about to overpower the other heroes, though Star-Lord's Tragic Mistake ultimately undoes her efforts.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Though she's ostensibly the younger sister, this trope is very much in play towards Gamora after they reconcile towards the end of Vol. 2, and carries over into Infinity War. When confronting Thanos on Titan in the latter film after he's absconded with her sister, Nebula's first words aren't a death threat like one might expect but an absolutely furious "Where is Gamora!?"
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Her eyes appear to be completely black, though in bonus material it is stated as a racial trait of Luphomoids to have no pupils.
  • Body Horror:
    • She is not in good shape after being struck with a missile, but her mangled body just pops all the broken bones and dislocated joints back into place. The prelude comics reveal this is unusual for her.
    • Vol. 2 reveals that her cybernetic parts came from Thanos hacking away at her body to make her a better killer. According to Nebula, this including ripping out one of her eyes and removing and replacing part of her brain.
    • In Infinity War, we see just how extensive Nebula's cybernetics are when he places her in a prison/torture device that uses magnetic fields to literally pull her to pieces.
    • Endgame has her reach out and take the Power Stone by her mechanical hand, which still burns in a way that horrifies War Machine; her past self is also placed inside the torture device to extract information when her present self arrive in 2014.
  • Broken Bird: Like Gamora, torn from her homeworld and enslaved to Thanos as his living weapon, with the added twist that Thanos' forced competition between her and Gamora would see her become progressively cybernetically augmented against her will whenever she lost. She is ruthlessly effective but with an unyielding desire to kill Thanos as slowly and brutally as possible.
  • But Now I Must Go: After succeeding in taking down Ego, Nebula leaves the Guardians to continue her crusade against Thanos.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • With Gamora, although Nebula claims that out of all their adopted siblings, she hated Gamora the least (then again, with bloodthirsty monsters like Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight also being related to her and Gamora that's not really saying much), right before blasting her ship and nearly killing her, though Nebula obviously takes no pleasure from it. Instead of continuing her later fight with Gamora, after hijacking a fighter, a heavy advantage, she just leaves.
    • Vol. 2 goes on to reveal that back when they were children, Gamora was very much the Cain in their relationship. However, they resolve their issues with each other by the end of the film.
  • Character Development: She goes from secondary villain in Guardians to one of the heroes who appears the most in Endgame while rediscovering her humanity and her empathy. It's very noticeable once the Avenger Nebula meets the original Nebula from 2014.
  • Co-Dragons: With Korath, to Ronan. Of the two, she gets more screentime, although she's not quite as loyal as Korath is.
  • The Comically Serious: Nebula is hilariously stoic and intense, even when saying or doing things that are crazy and ridiculous. This comes with the gag that while Nebula thinks she's Surrounded by Idiots, her unrelenting intensity often makes her as silly as the rest of them. It mostly shows up in Vol 2 (as she's forced to interact with the Ravagers and then the Guardians) and Endgame (where for being paired with regular Earthlings, starting with Tony Stark, her demeanor gets even more contrasting). Endgame shows this early on when she very earnestly plays paper football with Tony.
  • Contralto of Danger: She has a very low, growly voice, and speaks in an almost constantly threatening tone. It's inspired by Marilyn Monroe.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Of the two adoptive daughters of Thanos shown in GOTG, the heavily augmented Nebula is shown to be far more ruthless and bloodthirsty than the more calm and professional Gamora. Vol. 2 reveals that it wasn't the cybernetics, but the way she got them — being forced to compete with her beloved sister and then having parts of her body ripped off and replaced with cybernetics every time she lost — that ate away at Nebula.
  • Cyborg: She's been heavily augmented by Thanos, with her most obvious enhancements being a cybernetic arm and eye. In fact, she's been altered so much that her entire body can put itself (painfully) back together even if she's been directly struck by a rocket or caught in the middle of an explosion.
  • Daddy Issues: She is a pretty angry woman, with some daddy issues.
  • Dark Action Girl: She is the daughter of an evil overlord loaned out to an Ax-Crazy terrorist, after all.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Implied; Nebula states that Thanos made her into a monster, but doesn't elaborate in the movie. The prelude comics show that its much the same as Gamora's but without the favoritism. Vol. 2 expands on this by explaining that Gamora and Nebula would fight for Thanos' favor and Gamora would always try to win. Thanos would then force a cybernetic augmentation upon Nebula for losing and then they would start the cycle over again. Gamora constantly winning meant that Nebula was forcibly turned into a cyborg because Gamora simply couldn't see that her desire for victory was robbing Nebula of her biology.
  • Darth Vader Clone: A rare female example: Nebula is bald, a cyborg, acts as The Dragon, has a prosthetic limb and a deep voice, initially serves a villain who turned her into what she is, and has a familial connection to one of the heroes. She also executes a Villain: Exit, Stage Left in her first appearance.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • She's quite glib about Thanos's very violent threat to Ronan.
      Nebula: Thanks, Dad. Sounds fair.
    • In Endgame, she tells Rhodey to be careful landing at the Avengers compound; as Nebula puts it, "there's an idiot (Scott Lang) in the landing zone".
  • Death Glare: Her default expression.
  • Determinator: The prelude comics reveal that no matter how hard she is hit she will get back up stronger than before because "She is Nebula."
  • Distaff Counterpart: Coincidentally serves as one to Loki. Both are unloved by their fatherly figures (Nebula to Thanos; Loki to Odin), all the while growing jealously and hatred towards their older adopted siblings — although, they eventually make up for it (Nebula to Gamora; Loki to Thor). Coincidentally, the inverse happens in Infinity War; Loki sacrifices himself for the Space Stone for Thor, while Gamora (unexpectedly) sacrifices herself for the Soul Stone for Nebula. In fact, Nebula's shifted much closer to Thor in general in terms of this trope by the end of the movie. After having lost basically everything to Thanos, including their beloved adopted siblings that they finally completed their reconcilliations with in their previous appearances, the two end the movie even more broken than before, on the same planet as at least one character they didn't even know before Infinity War (Thor has Rocket, Nebula has Tony Stark).
  • The Dragon:
    • She acts as Ronan's highest rated and toughest minion, especially after he turns on Thanos - which is her main desire, both as a villain and as a hero.
    • Her 2014 self serves as this to Thanos in Endgame.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Ultimately she only cares about killing Thanos and will do anything to make sure it happens.
  • The Dreaded: While not the same extent as Gamora, when around the Ravagers they tread lightly on account of her being Thanos' daughter.
  • Dual Wielding: She fights with two blades.
  • Due to the Dead: Looks to be a firm believer of this, likely due to the sheer number of deaths she's responsible for:
    • Early in Endgame she moves a collapsed Tony Stark to a more dignified position at the helm of the Benatar, clearly believing that it's over for them both (though it wasn't).
    • After the death of present day Thanos, she closes his eyes for him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: By the end of Endgame, Thanos and his Children are dead and her sister — the one she doesn't hate — is alive. Although the living Gamora comes from a past where their rivalry was most tense, Nebula, as a new member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, is determined to find and help her.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: For all her viciousness, Nebula does have genuine affection for her sister Gamora, and can't bring herself to kill her in Vol. 2, even reconciling with Gamora by the film's end.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Even Nebula is horrified when she sees the remains of Ego's victims.
    • We see her express extreme alarm when she realizes Thanos is ready to begin his ultimate plan, even though this is (presumably) before turning on him and becoming something resembling an Anti-Hero in Vol. 2.
  • Evil Counterpart: To her adopted sister, Gamora. Like Gamora, Nebula lost her family to Thanos and was subsequently "adopted" by him, being transformed into a killing machine. Unlike Gamora, however, Nebula never pulls a Heel–Face Turn, despite her hatred for her adoptive father, and continues to serve Ronan's genocidal agenda.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The female version of this trope.
  • Evil Wears Black: Well, a dark purple, though by Vol. 2 it's so battered and worn out that looks black.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Considering she is The Unfavorite to Thanos, sparing her from the snap was an act of Cruel Mercy. She's forced to watch her new comrades die before her eyes, is now stranded on Titan with only Iron Man to keep her company.
  • Feel No Pain:
    • She doesn't visibly react to being blasted into a twisted wreck, or to severing her own hand. The latter is a Justified Trope, in that it's clearly cybernetic, but the former is less so. Averted in Infinity War, she is in great pain due to Thanos' torture of him telekinetically dissembling her, stretching out her parts.
    • In Endgame, she also shows no discernable reaction to putting her left arm through the force field protecting the Power Stone on Morag, frying the outer portion and exposing the frame underneath. Makes sense, given that arm is completely mechanical.
  • Foil: To Mantis. Both are socially inept alien women who are introduced under the clutches of horrid, callous adoptive father figures (Thanos and Ego respectively) who openly care (for better or worse) more about their other adopted children (Gamora and Peter Quill respectively), while leaving their less-favored adoptive daughters emotionally and socially stunted, albeit with Mantis acting much more outwardly kind to strangers than Nebula. Both also team up with the Guardians to fight against not just their own adoptive fathers but eachother's. But while Mantis ends Vol. 2 staying with the Guardians after Ego is vanquished, Nebula leaves to find a way to kill Thanos, who's still out there. And while Nebula survives the Snap in Infinity War and is forced to live with the knowledge of her adopted sister's death well beforehand, Mantis, knowing something is wrong but not quite realizing what exactly the uncomfortable feeling is, perishes with her adopted brother following shortly after.
  • Future Me Scares Me: When 2014 Nebula meets her future heroic self while still loyal to Thanos, she is extremely confused and angry at how she could have gone out of her father's shadow.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Blue, specifically. Her outfit isn't as fanservice-y as is usual for this trope, but it is still very tight regardless.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: During the Time Skip in Endgame she replaces some of the face-plates in her head and face with shiny gold ones. They don't appear to contain any circuitry so presumably she did so for purely aesthetic reasons - which would make it a hilarious callback to Kraglin's encouragement in GOTG 2 to get herself a nice hat. Her 2014 self steals them and uses them to impersonate her back in 2023.
  • Handicapped Badass: As a former Dragon she spends part of the second film with only one natural hand and a crude mechanical claw, as she cut off her much more sophisticated cybernetic hand in the climax of the first movie. Until the Ravagers give her a better prosthetic hand, the one she's wearing hardly works.
  • Hates Being Touched: Notable through Vol. 2, Nebula really doesn't like being touched. She brushes at her shoulder after Kraglin touches it, and flinches when Gamora tries hugging her. Which is quite common for survivors of child abuse, like Nebula suffered at the hands of Thanos.
  • Healing Factor: She got shot point-blank by a rocket launcher and was up and raring to go a few scenes later. We see and hear her bones resetting themselves.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: In Vol. 2, she struggles with joining the Guardians. She ends the film on their side, but leaves to continue her crusade against Thanos. She's fully on the heroes' side by Infinity War, even going as far as to find the Guardians and tell them what happened, then joins the Avengers in Endgame.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: After helping Taserface take over the Ravagers, Nebula receives one of their red leather outfits.
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     I to W 
  • Irony: Nebula is consistently treated as The Unfavorite amongst the Children of Thanos, being seen as nothing more than a living weapon to further the Mad Titan's goals. She's also spared from the Badass Fingersnap in Infinity War, and is thus the only Child of Thanos who's still alive at the end of the film.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Nebula has burnt orange head plate by 2023. When she time traveled to 2014 and got stuck there, she had a face to face with her past self who still has her original Cobalt blue plate. This actually becomes a plot point when her past self takes her plate and pretends to be her in order to be The Mole.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Her final appearance in the first movie is Screw This, I'm Outta Here! in a stolen aircraft. No jail time for this villain. Subverted in Vol. 2 — she's been held prisoner by the Sovereign for an unknown amount of time. Played straight again at the end, where she heads back off on her mission to kill Thanos. It could be argued that helping to kill Ego counts for a lot of community service, though.
    • Given that Yondu later pretty much singlehandedly wipes his mutinous crew, the mutiny itself clearly only succeeded because Nebula shot out Yondu's fin. Despite this, she gets no real hostility from Yondu or Kraglin after the mutiny, with Kraglin even being fairly friendly towards her and wishing her well.
  • Killing Your Alternate Self: Nebula kills her past self in order to protect Past Gamora in Endgame. Due to how time travel works, she is unaffected and actually rather proud over this.
  • Last of His Kind: At the end of Infinity War, she is the only Child of the original timeline's Thanos who is still alive.
  • Nice Girl: By Endgame, despite her stoicism, she took many levels in kindness, thus she ends up befriending Tony Stark when they are both stuck in space, comforting Rocket over the loss of the other Guardians, bonds with James Rhodes during the Time Heist over their mutual Handicapped Badass status, becomes the one to redeem 2014!Gamora just by telling her that they become friends and sisters in the future, and finally tries to redeem her past counterpart not out of wanting her to take revenge on Thanos, but that she can change for the better.
  • No Social Skills: Having been raised as weapon all her life, Nebula is emotionally stunted and has no idea of what normal people do with each other. In Endgame, Stark and her play games to pass the time, but while she recognizes there's some fun in it, she can only say it matter-of-factly.
  • Not So Above It All: At the end of Endgame, she agrees with the others' suggestion that Peter and Thor should fight one another for the honor of leading the Guardians of the Galaxy.
    Drax: You [Thor and Quill] should fight one another for the honor of leadership.
    Nebula: Sounds fair.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • During the final battle of GOTG, she becomes a bit more unsettled than her usual monotone indifference while dealing with the heroes tactics and Ronan's egotistical indifference, at one point yelling at random mooks and shoving them out of her way offscreen. After Gamora defeats her, she angrily steals a Ravager's ship with a very pissed off "GET OUT!"
    • Likewise, from Vol. 2, her reaction to nearly getting sucked out of a hull breach in the Milano, caused by Quill and Rocket's reckless piloting while being pursued by the Sovereign fleet.
    Nebula: IDIOTS!!
    • Endgame features Nebula outright panicking once she realizes that the 2014 Thanos knows about the time heist plan and she can't escape to the future, desperately trying to inform the Avengers to no avail.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Granted, it's due to the fact that they're both stuck in space, but Nebula manages to bond with Tony Stark of all people, in spite of their vastly different personalities. She also forms one with James Rhodes, calling him by his nickname and being partnered up with him during the Time Heist, when they are sent to Morag in 2014 to retrieve the Power Stone; they bond over their mutual Handicapped Badass status and shared stoicism with regards to making the most of what they've been given.
    • Interestingly, if you look at her friendships with Tony, Rhodey, and even somewhat Rocket, it appears Nebula has bonded specifically with all the other cyborg members of the Avengers.
    • This is also in place with her relationship with Gamora: Thanos specifically tried to invoke Cain and Abel with them by pitting them against each other, and seemed to have succeeded in making them view each other as The Rival... yet some combination of Gamora's Big Sister Instinct whenever Thanos wasn't enforcing their rivalry and their simple proximity resulted in them becoming more tolerable and grudgingly caring for each other, even becoming confidantes. Thus Nebula specifically told Gamora that she was the sibling she hated least, and eventually they came to genuinely feel a loving kinship with each other.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In Infinity War, Thanos claims that Nebula managed to infiltrate his ship and very nearly kill him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Nebula subtly panics when Ronan kills the Other, clearly fearful of how Thanos might respond.
    • Nebula very much panics in Endgame when she inadvertently mind-links with her past self, tipping Thanos off to what the Avengers are up to.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: After defecting to Ronan from Thanos, she says that she would help Ronan destroy a thousand planets if he'd also kill Thanos.
  • Only One Me Allowed Right Now: Nebula's mind is stored on a network only she and Thanos's special equipment can access. However, the network could theoretically be picked up by other Nebulas (Nebulii?), if more than one ever existed at the same time. In Endgame, 2014 Thanos learns that he managed to complete his plan in another timeline and that the Avengers of said timeline are using time travel to try to reverse it when 2023 Nebula's memories suddenly leak over to 2014 Nebula.
  • Only One Name: She goes by a single name without any other identifiers.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • You know that something isn't right with Ego when someone like Nebula gets cold feet upon discovering countless bodies hidden beneath the planet.
    • Her reaction to deducing that Thanos murdered Gamora has her very visibly fight back tearing up, freezing her up, preventing her from stopping Quill from ruining the plan, showing how much she really cared about Gamora and how badly her death affects her.
  • Opt Out: After being thrown off the Dark Aster, she cuts off her own hand, hijacks a Ravager ships, and hightails it outta there.
  • Pet the Dog: In Endgame, she offers Tony food as both of them are left stranded in deep space.
  • Red Is Heroic: In Vol. 2 she changes into red Ravager leathers and shortly after that, reconciles with her sister. She's still wearing red in Infinity War, firmly on the side of the heroes.
  • Redemption Earns Life: She makes a Heel–Face Turn and ultimately outlives her father and most, if not all, of his followers.
  • Redemption Rejection:
    • Gamora twice attempts to convince Nebula to turn on Ronan. The first time, Nebula just tries to kill her, while after the second, she just decides to skip town while she can.
    • Subverted in Vol. 2. It's shown that she's driven by anger and resentment at Gamora always besting her and failing Nebula as a sister. Once they reconcile, Nebula joins up with the Guardians, albeit temporarily.
    • Played Straight in Endgame by her past self. Though past Nebula is conflicted, she is still in the end too indoctrinated by Thanos to turn on him even as present Nebula implores her that she can be a better person, forcing present Nebula to kill her to save past Gamora.
  • Revenge: Her main motive in Vol. 2. She wants payback against Gamora for the conflicts from their youth, and especially against Thanos for his cruel treatment of her.
  • The Rival: Serves as the Loki to Gamora's Thor, i.e. she's not the favorite daughter.
  • Sadist: When she was still with Thanos, she gained a reputation for being one. Not so much after she's gone off on her own. (Tony even comments that the "Blue Meanie" is "just a tiny bit sadistic")
    Taserface: I thought you were the biggest sadist in the galaxy.
    Nebula: That was when daddy was paying my bills.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Decides to bail before the climax in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Self-Serving Memory: During Vol. 2, she claims Gamora "left her to die" on Ronan's ship — Gamora tried to save Nebula, who sliced off her own hand to get away and fled in a stolen Ravager ship.
  • Serial Prostheses: Every time she failed to best Gamora, Thanos removed part of her body and replaced it with mechanical implants.
  • Sexy Walk: Whenever she's not running or fighting, she's apparently incapable of walking without swinging her hips back and forth like a pendulum. She seems to drop this habit in Infinity War and Endgame.
  • Shipper on Deck: In a strange twist, Nebula supports Gamora being with Peter Quill, as in Avengers: Endgame she’s the one who reunites them across time, space and death.
    Nebula: Your choices were either him...or a tree.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Her climactic speech to Gamora is abruptly cut short by Drax opening fire after a sentence or two.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: While the Ravager red leather outfit is received through twisted means (helping Taserface take over the gang), following the makeover she becomes a better person, stopping short of killing Gamora, and thus it also serves to distinguish from the fully evil, purple-wearing Nebula.
  • Sole Survivor: By the end of Infinity War, Nebula is the only one of Thanos' adopted "children" left alive. She's also one of the two remaining Guardians, the other being Rocket, even if she never really traveled with the group.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Vol. 2 reveals that under her rage and harsh exterior, Nebula is deeply hurting from all the trauma Thanos put her through, and that she feels Gamora failed to protect her from.
    Nebula: You were the one who wanted to win, and I just wanted a sister!
  • The Starscream: Offers to aid Ronan in his schemes if he promises to kill Thanos.
  • The Stoic: She raises her voice maybe once or twice in the first film, and her expression almost never changes. Taken to an extreme at the ending of Infinity War where her only reaction to Thanos's victory in wiping out half the universe and almost all the Guardians along with their Earthern allies is bluntly stating the obvious (though there is a trace of pain/anger in her voice).
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Nebula shows genuine sympathy towards Tony Stark, who's emotionally devastated after Thanos's plan succeeds and everyone around them perishes, including Peter Parker, speaking uncharacteristically soft to him while they despair.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: This exchange:
    Yondu: This is gonna hurt.
    Nebula: Promises, promises.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: She starts Vol. 2 off as the same violent backstabber she was in the first movie. However, she tries to kill Gamora one last time, and simply throws down her sword when Gamora was at her mercy. The two talk out their differences with Nebula's anger at Gamora given a much more sympathetic portrayal. She joins up with the Guardians after that and manages to be a team player, even attending Yondu's funeral. It's telling that when she departs from the film she and Gamora end on much more friendly terms than in the first film. She takes a further level in Avengers: Endgame, forming genuine friendships with the Avengers, especially Stark and Rhodey, and even trying to convince her own past self to turn on Thanos, not out of hatred for her adoptive father, but by telling her that she can be a better person.
  • Tragic Villain: Nebula is a loyal enforcer of Thanos, but only because of a lifetime of abuse and torture. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Nebula laments that she hates Gamora because she only wanted a sister to share her pain with. In Endgame, the future Nebula, who has had time to adjust to a life without Thanos, tries to convince her past self to turn over a new leaf, to which past Nebula can only shed a tear and reply "He won't let me." Nebula is then forced to kill her past self.
  • The Un-Favourite: Thanos openly favors Gamora over her. In the prelude comics, Thanos openly states that he should just kill her since she's a failed experiment, while also giving her a speech about how "Flesh" is weak and should be gotten rid of. In Infinity War proper, Thanos refuses to kill her while torturing her because that "would have been a waste of parts". Considering Thanos's other adoptive children, the Black Order, don't seem to have cybernetics (which suggests they're strong enough that Thanos doesn't feel the need to cybernetize them), that says a lot about her status as The Un-Favourite. Subverted in Avengers: Endgame, where Thanos states that he may have been a bit too harsh on her the instant before he dies.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Gamora pulls her out a burning wreck only for Nebula to resume trying to kill her, prompting a You Have Got to Be Kidding Me! reaction from her sister.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: Thanos would replace parts of Nebula's body with cybernetics whenever Gamora bested her in sparring matches, the process of which was excruciating and engendered a long-lasting resentment for her sister.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Her attempt to kill Thanos allows him to learn Gamora knows where the Soul Stone is, which helps lead to Gamora's death.
    • And once she time travels to get the Power Stone in the past, her past self ends up connected to Nebula in a Hive Mind way. This leads to Thanos discovering both about the future and how the Avengers intend to undo his endgame.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • During the Battle of Xandar, she becomes a bit more unsettled than her usual monotone indifference.
    • Her alternate 2014 counterpart visibly shows conflict when both Gamora and her future self offer her a chance to break free from Thanos. She rejects that chance out of fear and tries to kill Gamora, only for her future self to kill her in self-defense. A single tear drips from her eye as she collapses against the wall.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl:
    • Despite Thanos's cruelty, Nebula's hatred for her father was mixed in with a need to earn his approval, which Thanos never granted.
    • This trait ends up being the defining one for Nebula's 2014 counterpart, as her entire motivation boils down to wanting approval from her abusive adoptive father. Amazingly enough, Thanos finally gives her a compliment right before the Avengers execute him in his farmhouse, thanking her for saying he's not a liar, and ends by admitting he may have been too hard on her over the years. Despite all he ever put her through, she still closes his eyes after Thor lops his head off.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When she finally has Gamora at her mercy in Vol. 2, Nebula can't bring herself to actually kill her.
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