One of the ships crashed, but the other three landed safely on different planets, and their inhabitants began the civilization called the Terrans. The Terrans founded their own governments and continued to develop their warfare tactics, fighting among themselves as much as against the Zerg and Protoss.
Provides examples of:
- Achievements in Ignorance: Raynor speculates that Terrans continue to survive against the worst odds (terrible planets for colonization, lots of in-fighting, being caught between Scary Dogmatic Aliens and The Swarm, etc.) because they're just too dumb to give up or realize that they should've died off a long time ago.
- A Commander Is You:
- Numbers: Balanced. Terrans have lesser numbers than Zerg but more than Protoss. To use base units as a key example, Marines cost 50 minerals apiece, take up one supply, and have 40 HP (compare with Zerglings and Zealots).
- Doctrine: Generalist/Ranger. Generalist since Terran units tend to be versatile but have less special abilities compared to the other factions. Ranger since every single combat unit is ranged since Firebats got phased out for Marauders.
- Action Survivor: Between the Horde of Alien Locusts and Scary Dogmatic Aliens come a group of humans with little more than their know-how, ingenuity and a handful of psionically-inclined assassins. They can still take on the armies of either race and come out on top.
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The way Terrans avert this is one of the main reasons that the Protoss continue to not trust them. While Zerg and Protoss infighting are not unheard of, the former is rare and requires very specific conditions due to the Zerg's Hive Mind, while the latter is something Protoss consider as intolerable and put great efforts in avoiding whenever they can. Terrans, meanwhile, not only fight each others on regular basis, but also tend to do it more often than facing the two alien races.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: A good portion of the Terran military are recruited convicts and many of the volunteers are ex-criminals like Private Military Contractors that were really good at their previous jobs.
- Badass Normal: They lack the Protoss' mastery of Psychic Powers and the Zerg's mutating abilities. They are the only playable race to have not been involved in the Xel'Naga's experiments. They can still go toe-to-toe with both the Zerg and the Protoss.
- Base on Wheels: A key advantage Terrans have over the Zerg and Protoss is they can lift off production facilities into the air and (very slowly) move them around, landing them anywhere and going right back to work. This allows players to backdoor enemies by sneaking unit producing facilities into a hidden corner of their base, and to save such structures from an enemy army if they can evacuate fast enough.
- Civil War: Terrans spend more time fighting each other than the Protoss or Zerg. This is reflected in gameplay.
- Death World: Many of the first Terrans ended up worlds wholly inhospitable to humans... and survived anyways. Nowadays the main reasons for voluntarily dwelling on such places are resources that worth a fortune off-world.
- Gone Horribly Right: They were part of a space colonization project that managed to establish themselves despite not being in their intended location.
- Humans Are Average: See A Commander Is You and Jack-of-All-Stats for more details.
- Humans Are Bastards: The Protoss hold this opinion of the Terrans; only a handful of humans have ever been able to forge significant alliances with the Protoss. Justified since all three major governments that have controlled them have been open about how they consider the Protoss their enemies just because they're aliens, and the number of major human characters to be genuinely good and non-hostile to Protoss in the whole franchise can be counted on one hand. In fact, until Starcraft II, Raynor was pretty much the only human to be unambiguously good.
- The terrans finally shed this image in Legacy of the Void, as Valerian is now emperor and eager to have the Dominion do good for the sector.
- Humans Are Special: A notable aversion; Terrans are the only one of the three species to not have been involved in the Xel'Naga's experiments, and usually have no real significance in the grand scheme of things. They do usually take part in major events, but compared to similar scifi franchises like Warhammer 40,000, their role tends to be surprisingly smaller than the two alien races. In the Bad Future shown in Wings of Liberty where Amon wins, the final showdown consists in a last stand of the Protoss against the Hybrids and their enslaved Zerg, while the Terrans have been exterminated off-screen.
- On the other hand, the fact that the Xel'Naga gave no thought to them whatsoever does enable the Terrans to consistently screw up their plans by doing things the Xel'Naga didn't account for. Amon's terrible habit of consistently underestimating them also plays a significant factor.
- Humans Are Warriors: According to Word of God, this is the reason they are capable of standing against both Zerg and Protoss; since they have been constantly fighting each others for years, they have got really good at war.
- Humans by Any Other Name: All humans in the game are referred as "Terran", even though the humans that the Starcraft universe concerns itself with are completely separate from the Terran empire based around planet Earth.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes:
- To the Protoss, Terrans are a (largely) psionic-less and relatively primitive race that wouldn't be worth their attention... except for the fact that our numbers and our war-like nature make us a threat. Notably, they resist attempts at co-operation due to great mistrust (and not without reason) though they are curious as to how much potential Terrans have, seeing how far they've come in a short period of time and whether Terrans have the capacity to evolve into a psionic race.
- To the Zerg, Terrans are a scrambling mess of a race note that are useful only as pawns to be used against the Protoss. As of Starcraft II they seem to regard Terrans as not even worth that, due to their sentience and psionic potential either not surviving infestation or being too weakened by the process to make them effective. By now, the only reasons the Zerg fight the Terrans is because Kerrigan is leading them and hates the Dominion.
- Irony: The Terrans are often noted at being the only playable race in the game that was not influenced by the Xel'Naga in any way. That is what the Xel'Naga are actually supposed to do with other species - nothing.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The Terrans are more expensive than the Zerg but less expensive than the Protoss, while their units are stronger than the Zerg but not as powerful as the Protoss. Between the Zerg Rush and the Protoss Elite Army, the Terrans take their strength from their versatility. This is exemplified by their linear tech tree; while the Zerg need to build numerous different structures to mutate their units and the Protoss tech tree splits into three off the Cybernetics Core, the Terran chain of production goes Barracks-Factory-Starport. Some build orders for them have the player tech to a Starport, and from there they can build anything they want, every unit is either available for construction or the building needed to make that unit is. The sequel further gives these three production facilities interchangeable add-ons, letting a Terran player switch up their build order in seconds by moving their buildings around.
- Magitek: While Terrans' understanding of Psychic Powers is lacking compared to that of the Protoss, they do have some technology that uses psy energy. The best known examples would be Hostile environment suits and other wargear used by ghosts.
- Meet the New Boss: Ownership of individual planets and the government controlling them changes all the time. In the space of five years, the Confederacy was overthrown by the Dominion, which was overthrown by the UED, which was then defeated by the Zerg and control of their assets taken back by a weakened Dominion, and as of Heart the capital world has been besieged and the emperor killed, to be replaced with his heir.
- More Dakka: They are the only faction to use conventional firearms, and the sound of their collective gunfire approaches this.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Compared to the two other races; Terrans have plenty of quirky, eccentric characters, and tend to have the most wacky antics and lines compared to the more disciplined, patriotic Protoss or the mostly non-individual, non-speaking Zerg. Their extermination by the Hybrids in the Bad Future is used as a sign of how desperate the situation is.
- Screw Destiny: Terrans in general prove themselves to be a cosmic wild card. One that the Xel'Naga prophecies never really saw coming.
- Stone Wall: While their combat style compared to the Zerg and Protoss is the balance between their extremes, when looked at on their own, Terrans are very defense oriented, and they're good at it. Between both games they keep their trademark trio of Bunkers, Missile Turrets, and Siege Tanks; in the first game they have Spider Mines, while in the sequel they get Widow Mines, and the option to upgrade building armor. The campaign further gives them Perdition Turrets and an assortment of building upgrades to make their Missile Turrets and Bunkers even better. However, as good as their static defenses are, they are indeed stasic: offensive Bunkers is generally considered a cheese strategy and slow to execute due to build times and the resource cost demanded.
The Protoss reformed into a great and glorious society that explored the stars and colonized the sector... until the Zerg and the Terrans came. The result of the three-way war between the species was many Protoss dead and their homeworld of Aiur abandoned. The Protoss, now known collectively as the Daelaam, endure and seek a way to take back their homeworld and rebuild their civilization.
Provides examples of:
- Achilles' Heel: While some units in the other races are crippled by Energy drain or an EMP, all Protoss units are potentially screwed over because their shields will be depleted.
- A Commander Is You:
- Numbers: Elitist. Protoss units are more powerful stats-wise but are more costly, limiting their numbers. To use base units as a key example, Zealots cost 100 minerals apiece, take up two supply, and have 100 HP in addition to 50 shield (compare with Marines and Zerglings).
- Doctrine: A weird mix of Brute and Technical factions. Brute because units-wise Protoss are not very versatile and have generally high stats, which lets them take on many types of units head-on and still win. Technical since Protoss require quite a bit of micro and use of abilities to be used optimally, necessitating foresight and sometimes subversive tactics.
- A House Divided: While the Nerazim and the Khalai live together come Starcraft 2, tensions between the two still linger. The major point of contention is Aiur; the Khalai of course want to drive out the Zerg and take back their home, while the Nerazim don't care because Aiur holds little meaning for most of them. The strip-mining of Shakuras to build the Golden Armada to lead the invasion of Aiur only heightened tensions just before the events depicted in Legacy of the Void.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: They possess three hearts and no digestive system. Instead of eating, they gain nourishment through sunlight and nutrients dissolved in ambient water vapor. Then, there are their psionic traits.
- Bling of War: Most Protoss warriors wear gorgeous suits of armor into battle. The purpose of the suits is usually to amplify their psionic powers and project their defensive shields: looking very cool is just because the Protoss make all of their war technology look good.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: Many of the new Protoss units in Starcraft 2 are technically mothballed weapons and technologies recomissioned to better take on the Zerg swarms. This also includes the massive space ark, Spear of Adun.
- Catchphrase: "My life for Aiur!". The sentence is best-known to be delivered by their Zealots, but some bigger characters get to say it as well.
- Cosmic Plaything: To Amon and his faction. They uplifted the protoss, while committing a great taboo in the eyes of the "good" Xel'Naga. When the suspicions of the ancient protoss were aroused, they fought off all Xel'Naga. Amon and his faction may or may not have a hand in the leadup to the Aeon of Strife, but Amon was clear that the protoss had to be exterminated for the "crime" of defying him. For that, the zerg Overmind was created. When Amon himself became able to venture beyond the Void, he "reclaimed" the protoss via the Khala, which was created by him for precisely such a purpose. Amon himself also had contempt for the Tal'darim protoss, who serve him and worship him as their god. In fact, defying this trope is the main thrust of the main campaign in Legacy of the Void.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: The Protoss are a race of warrior-philosophers who use special psychic Khaydarin crystals for most of their technology, and normal wear for most of them is a combination of ornate armor and robes.
- Deflector Shields: All Protoss units have personal shields that regenerate slowly and protect the unit from taking HP damage.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Played with from time to time. Of the Protoss in-game, most use some level of armor and footwear, but a few (such as dark templars like Zeratul) do not. Notably, one of their executors, Artanis (roughly a general), wore very little at all in his first appearance in Brood War, but he's got what may very well be the best armor in the game series by Starcraft II.
- Dull Surprise: Given that they have no mouths, it's hard to tell how they are feeling without context.
- Elite Army: In contrast to the Zerg Rush of lots of cheap, weak units, the Protoss generally rely on smaller numbers of expensive units that have superior power over the other two races. The most direct example is their base unit, the Zealot, compared to the Marine and Zergling; in a head-on fight, Zealots will usually win even if outnumbered 2-to-1.
- Fantastic Racism: Some of them can show this toward Terrans, though how much vary widely from one individual or group to another. Most of them believe Humans Are Bastards, but do have genuine respect for Jim Raynor.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: A trait of Protoss.
- Godzilla Threshold: It's revealed by Legacy of the Void that the struggle against the Zerg and ultimately, Amon prompted the Conclave to reverse-engineer the technology behind the original Purifiers to both develop new weapons and a create a new generation of them. Artanis seals the deal however by reawakening said original Purifiers and welcoming them equally as fellow Templar.
- Going Commando: Almost all of them wear loincloths with nothing underneath.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: The Protoss have a reputation for being a lategame faction for a reason- slow to start, but watch out once they have enough units to protect their casters and heavy-hitters.
- Magic from Technology: Their technology is so advanced and so deeply related to their psychic powers that it appears like magic to humans.
- Magic A Is Magic A: Normally averted, since the psionic matrix has nearly unlimited applications as long as the technology is there to back it up. However, the war with Terrans and Zerg has put a major strain on Protoss development and since the fall of Aiur, most research has halted, meaning that only Sentries can create illusions and only High Templars can call lightning storms until things get better.
- Magitek: Most of the Protoss' technology manipulates psychic energy in one way or another and uses it as a main power source.
- Meaningful Name: They are often called the "first born" of the Xel'Naga — "protos" is Greek for first.
- No Mouth: They communicate telepathically, and absorb light through their skin for nutrients. Brought up by a Terran Medic's Stop Poking Me! quote:"There's a Protoss here who needs mouth-to-mou - ooh... well... mouth to... something."
- No-Sell: Their DNA is so drastically opposed to Zerg's that the Swarm cannot possibly assimilate or infest them. This is likely an intentional design by Amon, who uplifted both the Zerg and the Protoss
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: StarCraft: Ghost development renders revealed that female Protoss have breasts, despite the fact that they are aliens unable to eat solid food, being purely photosynthetic. However, StarCraft: Ghost is not considered canon, and the Protoss females so far seen in the RTS wore chestpieces that weren't shaped in a way suggesting bulges underneath. The female Protoss seen in Starcraft II appear to be flat-chested, but again: their torsos are usually covered by armor.
- Not So Different: Ironically, with the Zerg; both were made into what they are by the Xel'Naga, both have their own form of a Psychic Link (The Zerg's being a Hive Mind), and both have two dissident factions representing the conflict between unity (the Swarm / the Khalai Protoss) and individuality (the Primal Zerg / the Dark Templar) that are eventually united into one race. Further, the Zerg operate in Broods and packs, while the Protoss never fully abandoned their tribal origins and developed a caste system on top of it.
- As it turns out, this was deliberate. Both races were uplifted by Amon and his faction for his great plan to end all life in the universe.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Many Protoss are proud of their victories in battle and love to fight. Aldaris remarks in the first game when Fenix dies that he died fighting as a Templar, the greatest glory a warrior could hope for.
- Psychic Link: The Khala, which connects a majority of the Protoss. Novels emphasize that when Protoss connect through the Khala, they almost become each other, their thoughts, memories and personalities become so closely intertwined for the duration.
- It was established that the Nerazim (dark templar) and the Tal'darim do not use the Khala.
- Power Echoes: All Protoss have a form of reverberation to their voice.
- Really 700 Years Old: All Protoss wear this as a hat. Their maximum lifespan is at least 1,000 years.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: All Protoss units are protected by a shield that regenerates over time, even if the shields are depleted, but unless they're lucky and find friendly medics and SCVs, they have no method to restore HP damage once those shields fall. The exact ratio of HP-to-Shield is a major balance factor in the race.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: An archetypical example. Both the Khalai and Tal'darim protoss are this trope, while the Nerazim are less scary and dogmatic.
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships: Protoss craft are universally sleek and beautiful, and are usually gold and silver in coloration.
- Space Elves: Protoss and their architecture are emphasized to be beautiful and graceful, their race is long-lived and wise, they originate from a jungle-based homeworld with a lot of vegetation on it and psionics are so prevalent in their lives that their technology is almost magic to some. Furthermore, the fall of Aiur and the disaster of the Zerg attacks have devastated their population size and damaged their culture, and elves being fewer than humans are a staple of elf stereotypes. For direct Tolkien comparisons, the Khalai are Space Noldor, and the Dark Templar are Space Sindar. The Tal'darim don't really fit any particular Tolkien category, but Legacy of the Void gives them a lot of a similarities with the Dark Eldars.
- Superior Species: How they see themselves compared to Terrans; they are more advanced both biologically and technologically, live longer and have a better mastery of psychic powers. They do however start to grow out of it later on.
- Teleporters and Transporters: One of the Protoss' signature abilities is that they make heavy use of teleportation in many variants; both their buildings and units are brought on the field through portails rather than created and both games have them use at least one caster with a mass teleportation spell. In Starcraft II, they even get an upgrade allowing them to instantly teleport fighters anywhere on the field by combining Warp Prisms, Pylons and Warp Gates.
- Tron Lines: Some of their units have them.
Under the Xel'Naga the Zerg grew and diversified. However, the Overmind turned on its creators and consumed the Xel'Naga. The Overmind and its zerg departed Zerus to explore the galaxy as the Zerg Swarm, while the Zerg not controlled by the Overmind's Hive Mind remained on Zerus and evolved into intelligent, independent beings with a pack mentality.
During the Second Great War, Sarah Kerrigan returned to Zerus, and the two halves of the race were made as one under her rule.
Provides examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Claws: Zerg DNA selects for maximum lethalness in its physiology, leading to things like claws or talons that can tear through Siege Tanks.
- A Commander Is You:
- Numbers: Spammer. Their units are extremely weak and fragile, but make up with a lot of mobility and numbers. Zerglings are incredibly weak and very expendable., but are fast, cheap, and spawn with another Zergling
- Doctrine: Guerrilla. With their ability to burrow and has a structure to allow units to be anywhere in the map, the Zerg can make up for their fragility with high mobility and abilities that preserves them.
- Arch-Enemy: To the Protoss. Word of God has even said that their DNA is antithetical to each other and the psionic powers of the Protoss reject the Zerg Hive Mind. Thus it is impossible for the Zerg to infest a Protoss, or for natural hybridization to occur between them. This is why Duran had to resort to genetic splicing to artificially create his hybrids. It finally gets subverted a bit in Legacy of the Void when Artanis and Kerrigan enter an Enemy Mine situation in the war against Amon; one mission even has the Protoss and Zerg forces fighting alongside each other.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies/Insectoid Aliens: With the exception of the Zergling, your average Zerg breed towers over Terrans, giving the terror of giant reptilian insects.
- Order vs. Chaos: To the Protoss. They also have an internal example, in the Hive Mind zerg versus the individualistic Primal Zerg.
- Divergent Character Evolution: In Heart of the Swarm's campaign, players can permanently upgrade a Zerg unit into one of two advanced forms in the single-player campaign, either form emphasizing different aspects of the base strain.
- Fangs Are Evil: A recurring physical trait of Zerg breeds is a fragmented mandible covered in fangs for a lower mouth, with a particularly large pair of fangs on the end. Among other units, the Queen, Hydralisk, Roach and Swarm Host all have this trait.
- Fast Tunnelling: Their Burrow skill, though the Lurker and Ultralisk take a second or two longer to get underground than others.
- Healing Factor: Even if you take them down to 1 HP, the Zerg will eventually restore themselves to full health, provided you give them enough time.
- Hive Mind: Played with. During the Overmind's rule the Zerg played this straight, all Zerg connected by a communal psionic link. Due to the complexity of overruling all the Swarm, it assigned autonomous agents called Cerebrates to assume direct control of their respective broods. the Cerebrates are still telepathically linked to the Overmind and can never disobey it. The Hive Mind aspect was subverted by Heart of the Swarm due to Kerrigan's invention of Brood Mothers, who themselves possess free will.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: Probably one of the most famous examples of the trope.
- It Can Think: The Zerg are much more intelligent and cunning than their appearances would have you believe, particularly due to their hive mind allowing Kerrigan or the Overmind to control individual Zerg directly if needed. In novelizations characters often remark at the glimmer of a higher intelligence in the eyes of what seems to be a feral beast.
- LEGO Genetics: Apparently, acquiring DNA or "essence" from other species allows the Zerg to pick out useful traits and modify the next generation as they see fit. This makes them dangerously strong at adapting genetically as well as growing stronger with each species they consume.
- Metamorphosis: This is how they produce their units and buildings.
- Might Makes Right: How Zerg generally operate: any challenger to the current broodmother has to subjugate her and take over.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The Zerg mostly resemble reptiles and/or insects, but many units combine aspects of both.
- Not So Different: With the Protoss; see the entry in the Protoss section.
- Organic Technology: Zerg have no concept of technology in the way Terrans and Protoss do; instead, they use evolution and mutation to create biological weaponry, down to mutating their own drones into organic buildings and using giant flying Zerg as spaceships.
- Regenerating Health: All Zerg units and buildings have Gradual Regeneration that slowly recovers their HP. The recovery is very slow though, usually only effective for hit-and-run units like the Mutalisk who can attack, then retreat to lick their wounds before striking again.
- The Unintelligible: With the exception of Infested Terrans and, in the sequel, some major characters, all Zerg units only speak in growls, snarls and grunts.
- The Virus: How they assimilate species; they can propagate a virus that will gradually mutate said species into Zerg-like hybrids under the control of the Swarm. The process is referred to as "infestation". While Protoss are immune to it, due to their genetical code being too drastically different than the Zerg's to be assimilated, Terrans aren't so lucky...
- Zerg Rush: They're the Trope Namers for a reason. As a whole the Zerg are not as durable as the Terran or Protoss units, but they have lower resource costs so they can produce more units. Their Hatcheries also function differently, creating larva that mutate into units at the same time, rather than having a training queue that trains units one at a time like the Terrans and Protoss, so with several Hatcheries stored with larvae, a Zerg player can mutate an army to serve them much quicker than the other two races.
- Zombie Apocalypse: The Zerg tend to do something like this to Terrans, as the ones who aren't immediately eaten or killed get infested and become zombie-like creatures. There's also the unsettling implication that despite being directed by the Hive Mind, said infested Terrans are still aware of what's going on.
- "The Xel'Naga created both the Protoss and the Zerg, Commander. They were the gods of their time."—Emil Narud
A race of near god-like beings, they travelled the stars cultivating the growth and evolution of species in the interest of creating a "perfect" lifeform. The Protoss and Zerg are their creations, as are any number of other beings not yet revealed. The Overmind is believed to have killed them all long before the start of the series — any surviving Xel'Naga, if there are any at all, have remained well-hidden.
This is eventually revealed to be partially false in Starcraft II; as a word of caution, however the details are spoilerific, so look at your own risk.
Provides examples of:
- Abusive Precursors: Averted for most of them but played straight by Amon and his Xel'Naga servants, as they were the ones who uplifted the Zerg and Protoss. His goal? To make a new hybrid race, slaughter the Xel'Naga that oppose him, and then destroy creation until only him and his hybrids were left. The benevolent Xel'Naga fought back against him, but were wiped out by the Zerg and Amon.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: A common MO of theirs, as it makes their targets more agreeable to what they want to say. Narud/Duran disguised himself as terran, while Ouros impersonated Tassadar.
- A God Am I: While it's unknown if the Xel'Naga specifically presented themselves as gods, it is implied they did, and the Protoss and Zerg see them as such and directly refer to them as gods several times. Amon, on the other hand, is definitely all over this trope, in the God of Evil manner.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: They are supposed to only observe the lesser races, and not intervene in their evolution. The fact that Amon did so with the protoss marked an ominous precedent.
- Always Lawful Good: Generally played straight; the Protoss and even the Zerg Overmind remember them as benevolent deities. Amon and his buddies? They're exceptions.
- Ancient Astronauts: They had advanced spacecraft millions of years before humans even had clubs to hit each other with, and their influence on the two races they uplifted is definitely visible in Protoss architecture, such as the Nexus physically resembling Xel'Naga temples.
- Benevolent Precursors: The non-interfering Xel'Naga seeded life across the universe and would simply watch from afar to await the day the next generation of Xel'Naga would emerge, bestowing their essence upon them. They also fought against Amon and his Xel'Naga after learning what they had done. Though they died in the end, they were still able to slay Amon and most of his servants.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Their attempt to create the ultimate lifeform by merging purity of form and purity of essence was reproduction. The Xel'Naga travelled between universes seeding life, and then went into slumber to let their creations evolve. When two races that possessed these qualities found the Xel'Naga homeworld of Ulnar by natural evolution, the Xel'Naga awoke and the two races would be made as one, and the Xel'Naga would pass their essence into them to turn them into a new generation of Xel'Naga. The new generation would find a new universe to populate with life, and the cycle would continue.
- Cthulhumanoid: It took until Legacy of the Void to actually see what they look like, but when we do, their standard form appear to be gigantic creatures with squid-like faces. They are shown to be capable of Voluntary Shapeshifting, however, and Ascended Kerrigan retained a humanoid form (albeit an Energy Being one). Justified by the fact that the Xel'Naga pass on their essence upon the next generation of Xel'Naga, not their form.
- Friend to All Living Things: With the exception of Amon and his servants, Xel'Naga apparently respected all life in the Universe with nor segregation whatsoever.
- Fusion Dance: The union of Protoss and Zerg was their intention all along, to allow their species to be reborn through the union.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The Xel'Naga as a whole are an inversion of this trope, but one of them, Amon, is the Greater Scope Villain of StarCraft II and, retroactively, StarCraft I as well.
- Not Quite Dead: This is how Amon and Narud survive — if Xel'Naga are killed, they are sent back to the void, and will stay there until they acquire a new form. How do you kill them permanently? On their own turf.
- Perfect Pacifist People: So it seems; the Xel'Naga greatly valued life and refused to kill anything. Even The Voice In The Darkness. Though they made an exception for Amon, since his goal was to Kill 'Em All.
- Precursors: To the Protoss and Zerg.
- Shrouded in Myth: Only the Overmind, Preservers, and Duran know more about them than the vague description given above, and even then they likely do not know everything.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Terrans are baffled by Protoss technology, considering some aspects of it so advanced it's like magic to human minds. The Protoss largely see Xel'Naga technology in the same manner.
- Time Abyss: They existed long before the first primate ever walked on Earth, millions of years before recorded history at least. Though, given their propensity for universe-hopping, it could be longer than we could ever comprehend.
- Touched by Vorlons: Subverted. Their modus operandi was to wait until two species developed purity of form and essence on their own in order to create the new Xel'Naga. Amon broke the rule by uplifting the Protoss and the Zerg.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The Protoss and Zerg both rebelled against them. It's since been implied that Amon had a hand in this.
- In Legacy, Rohana added that the ancient protoss grew more powerful than what Amon and his team had anticipated. It is implied that in order not to make the same mistake again, Amon created an Overmind when it came to the zerg and used them against the Xel'Naga who opposed him.
- "This creature is the completion of a cycle. Its role in the cosmic order was preordained when the stars were young."—Samir Duran
Hybrids are a combination of Protoss and Zerg DNA. Engineered by a variety of mysterious figures, most prominently Samir Duran, their coming is said to be the dawn of a new era, and not a good one. Their existence serves as The Stinger of Brood War, and they are pivotal to the plot of Starcraft II.
Provides examples of:
- Always Chaotic Evil: All Hybrids seen so far have been malefic and destructive, and there's no indication that they can be anything but that. Justified because they were clearly created with Amon's malign influence, so it's not like they really have a choice in the matter.
- Beyond the Impossible: One of the clearly established rules in the Starcraft Universe is that Zerg and Protoss DNA cannot be combined. Somehow, Duran found a way around the rule.
- The Dreaded: Everyone who learns about them is terrified of the very idea of them existing.
- Elite Mooks: The strongest race serving Amon and the centerpiece of his army. Most of his servants fought in Legacy of the Void are in fact just mind-controlled by the Hybrids.
- Evil Counterpart: Legacy of the Void reveals they are this to the Xel'Naga, being created as a corrupt equivalent of what a natural union between Protoss and Zerg should result in.
- Expy: Of the Burning Legion, especially since Amon's motive is revealed in Legacy of the Void. Led by a Physical God? Check. Said Physical God got dissatisfied by how life was developed? Check. Does he want to Kill 'Em All and remake the universe in his own image? Check. Is that Physical God The Dreaded to his enemies? Check. Has beings that are Not Quite Dead when their physical body is destroyed? Only two, but check anyways. Empowered two of the playable non-Human races? Check. Requires three playable races on bad terms with each other to ally in desperation to be defeated? Check.
- Humanoid Abomination: They don't look that outlandish, but their powers and nature put them squarely in this territory.
- Light Is Not Good/Bright Is Not Good: Most of them have at least parts of their bodies shining with a bright blue light, much like Archons. They are still the Always Chaotic Evil minions of a God of Evil trying to bring the end of the Universe.
- Lightning Bruiser: Hybrids move fast and hit hard, and take a lot of punishment to put down.
- Made of Iron: If a cutscene in Legacy of the Void is anything to go by. A Reaver killed by Kerrigan took getting stabbed through the head to kill it, a second only appeared to be enraged by getting limbs hacked off and getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice with a warp blade and only died when Kerrigan ripped it in half.
- Magic Knight: Hybrids have a variety of powerful abilities in addition to great attack power. Their exact abilities change between missions but include Blink, area-of-effect damage and stun, single-target damaging abilities, and more.
- Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: As mentioned above, they are part-Protoss and part-Zerg.
- Uneven Hybrid: Destroyers are more obviously Protoss-influenced, while other hybrid including Reavers and the Nemesis are Zerg-influenced.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Formed as a fusion of Protoss and Zerg genetics and psionics.
Provides examples of:
- Beary Friendly: Ursadons are based on polar bears and are easily the cuddliest and cutest critters in the game. They become aggressive in Starcraft II, but thanks to Art Evolution they barely qualify as bears by that point.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Scantid are based on large scorpions.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: While the other critters are vaguely recognizable as based on Earth animals, the ragnasaur is weird. It vaguely looks like a lobster, if instead of pincers the lobster had two large feet it used to drag itself around.
- Butt-Monkey: Critters only ever play an important role in missions when you need to kill them for some purpose, and in the single-player you're advised to still do that since they will often get in the way of your units and your buildings.
- Made of Explodium: As an Easter Egg in the series, clicking on a critter multiple times in succession causes them to explode like a nuke, though it does no damage.
- The Mole: One of the few uses of them in the series is to use the Queen's Parasite ability on them to see everything the critter sees; units left unsupervised don't attack critters, so they can wander around the enemy base spying for you until the opponent realizes what you're doing and manually has their units kill it. This is possibly why critters are usually not placed in multiplayer maps.
- Non-Action Guy: Most critters don't even have an attack.
- Panthera Awesome: The bengalaas are panther-themed critters.
- Ptero Soarer: The kakaru is obviously based on pterodactyls.
- Rhino Rampage: Rhynodons are based on rhinoceros.
- Took a Level in Badass: In Starcraft II you encounter critters that can fight back. Ursadons in particular go from harmless polar bears to large yeti-like beings that must be hunted down as a mission objective in Heart of the Swarm. Not that polar bears were ever harmless, mind you...
- "Serve the Directorate! Serve Humanity! All other priorities are secondary to victory!"—Gerard DuGalle
After western civilization began to collapse, the United Nations was succeeded by the United Powers League, who instituted brutal societal reforms to unite humanity, including the enforcement of English as the single world language and the abolishment of cultural ethnicity and religion. Believing that usage of cybernetics, drugs, and genetic augmentation were the cause of humanity's downward spiral, the UPL rounded up 400 million "undesirable" humans for extermination. 40,000 were selected by the scientist Doran Routhe to attempt colonization of distant stars, and were sent to the Koprulu Sector to found the Terran civilization. The UPL maintained observation on the Terrans as they expanded across the sector and came into conflict among themselves, not intervening due to the massive cost to take control of them versus the value of their colonies.
That changed when the Zerg and Protoss arrived. Mass panic ensued on Earth at the discovery of hostile alien civilizations, and citizens feared Earth might become a target. The UPL decided a military response was needed to protect Earth and her interests, and the crisis prompted most Earth governments and territories not part of the UPL to ally with them against the larger threat of alien invasion. The UPL reformed as the United Earth Directorate, and sent an expeditionary fleet to the Koprulu Sector to take command of the Terran colonies and eradicate or enslave the Zerg and Protoss. The fleet was destroyed and word of what happened never made it back to Earth. However, the distant human homeworld is barely a blip on the radar for those in the Koprulu Sector, and so the UED remains active back home, though they've stayed out of events in the sector since.
Provides examples of:
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Their rise to power heavily calls to mind Nazi Germany with their brutal enforced societal reformations and usurping and dissolving all rival powers to their government. The most obvious parallel is their purging of "undesirable" humans in the name of "saving" humanity with the genocide. Their logo even stylistically bears a resemblance to a three-armed swastika.
- Anti-Air: The main power of the UED comes from their superior aerial army and ground-to-air tactics. Brood War introduced numerous fixes to the Terran race, including the Goliath getting a stronger air attack with a range upgrade, and the Valkyrie frigate introduced as a powerful air-to-air bombardment craft. In-story the introduction of these changes is explained as the UED bringing them to the sector. In missions they also tend to favor aerial forces, their ground troops usually sticking to Marines, Medics, and Goliaths. In the eighth Zerg mission in Brood War, the UED will combine their aircraft with mind-controlled Zerg, and eventually build up a fleet of mixed forces that will annihilate any enemy air army, and without the Defiler's Dark Swarm for protection ground units face the same fate.
- Anti-Villain: Putting aside the ruthless dictatorship they established on Earth, the UED troops in Koprulu were despicted as genuinely patriotic people whose only goal was to ensure their home planet would never have to suffer Zerg invasions or Protoss Orbital Bombardments like the Terran did.
- Big-Bad Ensemble: Alongside Kerrigan, they are the main antagonists of Brood War. This results in Episode VI being Evil vs. Evil with Kerrigan leading a villainous version of The Alliance against them.
- Color-Coded Armies: Their ground forces are Atlas Wing, colored brown, and their air forces are Cronus Wing, colored white. The latter is used far more often than the former, the former mostly existing due to color limitations.note
- Enemy Mine: According to the lore, this is how the UED formed out of the UPL. Several countries were not part of them when the Zerg and Protoss arrived, and the fear of the aliens galvanized them into uniting against the bigger threat.
- The Medic: The UED canonically introduced the Medic unit to StarCraft multiplayer, and UED medics effectively serve as Support Party Members thanks to their Restore and Optic Flare abilities, whereas Raynor's Raiders and Dominion medics are basically healbots.
- Offstage Villainy: The main reason some fans were rooting for them in Brood War. Since the game focuses on the fleet sent to the Koprulu Sector and never shows how things are on Earth, their government being a ruthless, intolerant dictatorship and their objective to use their controlled Zerg to "pacify" the Protoss were only mentioned in support material, leaving them with very little Kick the Dog moments while their campaign focused exclusively on beating up the Dominion and the Zerg. As a result, they came out as heroic, especially considering their main opponent ended up being Kerrigan.
- Outside-Context Problem: No one in the Koprulu Sector expected an attack fleet from Earth to show up in their lifetime. When Stukov announces the name of the faction in Episode V, even the normally stoic and calm Edmund Duke stumbles over his reply, he's so stunned. All anyone really knows about the UED at first is that they're on the warpath, no one really has any idea what their objective is, which makes them all the more dangerous.
- The Remnant: A few pockets of UED troops remained stranded in the Koprulu Sector after the bulk of the fleet was destroyed. One such group, Spartan Company, appear in Starcraft II as a mercenary group; Word of God says there are surely others that may appear in the future.
- United Space of America: The cultural values and norms the UPL enforced on Earth to ensure peace and unity are essentially western values, such as making English the sole language and outlawing other languages.
- The War of Earthly Aggression: Sent a fleet to the sector to dissolve the Dominion and other factions and take control of the colonies.
- We Will Meet Again: Word of God is that, while the UED remains in power back on Earth, and probably isn't up to another war with the Koprulu sector inhabitants anytime soon, inevitably they'll probably return and try again someday.
- "The Confederacy is falling apart, Duke. Its colonies are in open revolt."—Arcturus Mengsk
The Confederacy was founded on Tarsonis by the refugees of the supercarrier Nagglfar, and was the first major government the Terrans knew in the sector. The Nagglfar computers remained operational when the supercarrier landed, allowing the settlers of Tarsonis to quickly colonize the planet and establish space travel to lay claim to other worlds as well. These worlds became united as the Terran Confederacy, also known as the Confederacy of Man. The Confederacy was corrupt, with all the real power in government in the hands of the "Old Families", societal elite descended from the Nagglfar commanders. The Confederates attempted aggressive expansion of the sector that was repelled by the Kel-Morian Combine in a conflict known as the Guild Wars, and their eventual victory over the Kel-Morians established them as the dominant Terran power in the sector.
The Confederacy's downfall began when Senator Angus Mengsk of Korhal began to protest Confederate corruption and called for Korhal to declare independence. In response to these growing tensions and terrorist attacks caused by them, the Confederacy deployed three Ghosts to assassinate Angus and his family. Angus's son Arcturus, a freelance prospector, was away from Korhal at the time and survived to take up his father's cause. The Confederacy sought to end the rebellion for good, and bombarded the planet from orbit with nuclear missiles, annihilating all life. However Arcturus endured and rallied the handful of survivors as the Sons of Korhal, leading a guerrilla war against the Confederacy that culminated with the destruction of Tarsonis. With their leadership fragmented or dead, the Confederacy as a government faded, most of its assets seized by Arcturus's Terran Dominion.
Provides examples of:
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Their leadership were mostly corrupt and self-serving; most of the others had no idea what they were doing.
- Big Bad: The main antagonists of Episode I in the first game. However, Mengsk usurps them in the role for the final mission.
- Color-Coded Armies: Not a universal color like the Dominion, but the Confederacy's squadrons each had their signature uniform color the player could recognize in-game. Alpha Squadron was white, Delta Squadron was orange, Omega Squadron was black (brown in-game for visibility), Nova Squadron is purple, and Epsilon Squadron is yellow. There was also Gamma Squadron as featured in some lore, but they don't appear in-game and have no assigned color as such.
- Create Your Own Villain: The Confederacy's violent silencing of Angus Mengsk and nuking of Korhal created an enemy far more dangerous in Arcturus Mengsk and the Sons of Korhal.
- Deep South: They have this flavor to them. Their leaders that we see are Southern stereotypes, most prominently General Duke, and their flag is the Confederate Battle Flag/Navy Jack, taken from Earth's historical archives.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: They tried to experiment on captured Zerg when they first began appearing in the sector. The research they found was turned against them by Arcturus and used to destroy Tarsonis.
- Fascist, but Inefficient: As noted above, the Confederacy was disorganized, corrupt, and pretty unpopular due to their policy of nuking planets whose populations questioned their authority. It's pretty obvious they were already starting to crumble before Arcturus unleashed Zerg on Tarsonis.
- The Federation: Typical example; ruled by a senate, composed of numerous worlds, corrupt and inefficient, unwilling to suffer unrest from its colonies.
- Make Way for the New Villains: They get completely obliterated by Mengsk at the end of the original Terran campaign, leading to the Dominion's uprising and the Swarm growing as the main threat.
- The Remnant: Groups of Confederate loyalists still exist years after their destruction. Some have become mercenaries for hire, others lead a more focused rebellion against the Dominion. None of the latter however are lore-significant.
- Starter Villain: They are introduced as the first clear-cut villains in the game (the Zerg technically appear more or less at the same time but aren't revealed to be led by a Hive Mind until their own campaign), but it's quickly made clear they are far from being the biggest threat, and it isn't long before they are exterminated to be replaced by Arcturus and the Swarm.
- "The time has come, my fellow Terrans, to rally to a new banner. In unity lies strength; already many of the dissident factions have joined us. Out of the many, we shall forge an indivisible whole, capitulating only to a single throne. And from that throne, I shall watch over you!"—Arcturus Mengsk
When the Confederacy destroyed Korhal, Arcturus Mengsk and the few survivors of the planet rallied other Confederate dissidents to their cause and formed the Sons of Korhal, a group dedicated to the destruction of the Confederacy. For years Arcturus waged guerrilla warfare on the Confederates, but slowly found powerful allies and built up his forces. The turning point was the defection of Mar Sara's colonists led by Marshal Jim Raynor. This gave Mengsk the numbers to aid other planets in open revolt, and also gave him access to Confederate technology he used to destroy Tarsonis — the psi emitter, which could lure Zerg to their signals from across the galaxy. Arcturus used the emitters to spark a Zerg invasion of Tarsonis, breaking the Confederacy's power with the loss of their core world.
Arcturus resettled Korhal and founded the Terran Dominion, using fear of the Zerg and Protoss to call for the Terrans to rally to his banner. Knowledge of Arcturus's hand in the Zerg invasion of Tarsonis was limited to a handful of his closest allies, thus most of the Terran planets fell for it and they, along with many Confederate worlds and assets, joined the Dominion. The Dominion was temporarily deposed by the United Earth Directorate, but with the aid of Kerrigan, Arcturus retook Korhal and the Dominion took back control of its colonies. After the Brood War when Kerrigan and the Zerg went quiet, Arcturus used the time to consolidate his power and continue to build his Dominion to grander heights. His son, Valerian, also took public stage as the Crown Prince and Arcturus's heir.
Provides examples of:
- Big-Bad Ensemble: First in Episode V of Brood War, when they and the Zerg act as the antagonists of the UED's campaign, then again with Kerrigan to Raynor in Wings of Liberty. Come Heart of the Swarm they're the primarily villains, alongside Amon's forces.
- Blue Is Heroic: With Valerian taking control of them in Legacy of the Void, the Dominion is represented in-game by shades of blue. In a case of Gameplay and Story Integration, most of the Dominion forces seen in the game are led by Raynor, and Raynor's Raiders also used blue. In cutscenes however, their color is still red.
- Butt-Monkey: The series as a whole basically has "How many catastrophic losses can the Dominion have without collapsing?" as a core concept. Brood War involves the UED conquering Korhal and Kerrigan pulling Cruel Mercy on Mengsk's forces twice. In Wings of Liberty, Raynor's Raiders initiate a revolt on fringe worlds and do serious damage to Arcturus Mengsk's image, and Valerian takes half the Dominion fleet with him to Char. Kerrigan delivers one Curb-Stomp Battle after another in Heart of the Swarm, ending with an invasion on Korhal and her killing Arcturus. In Legacy of the Void, their situation didn't improve, as the Moebius Corps invade Korhal while it's being rebuilt, causing serious damage despite their defeat, and Amon uses the Golden Armada to attack them during the time while the Daelaam are out of Aiur. Ever since it was formed, it has only won three times in-game, and they always needed help from another faction: Taking Korhal back from the UED (With Kerrigan's Swarm, Raynor's Raiders and Fenix's protoss forces), deinfesting Kerrigan (With Raynor's Raiders) and aiding in Amon's destruction (With Kerrigan and Zagara's Swarm, Raynor's Raiders having officially joined them after Mengsk's death, and the Daelaam). The Defenders of Man take advantage on this trope in Nova Covert Ops by trying to portray the Dominion as too weak to protect humanity of its own, thus presenting themselves as the alternative.
- Iron Butt Monkey: Despite the above, the Dominion is notable for having survived all games so far and being still around by the end of Legacy of the Void, something neither the Terran Confederacy nor the UED Fleet can boast about. They might have it rough, but they always get back on their feet.
- Color-Coded Armies: The Dominion soldiers wear red, though in a few missions in the original game and Brood War they were blue or white due to technological restraints. Both are justified however, as those are the respective colors of the Mar-Sara Militia and Alpha Squadron, which were compressed into the Dominion.
- HeelFace Turn: After Arcturus Mengsk's death and Valerian taking his place as Emperor at the end of Heart of the Swarm. They've taken in Raynor's Raiders and are now the Protoss's allies.
- Hegemonic Empire: The Dominion is just as bad as the Confederacy it overthrew, if not worse. However, Arcturus knows how to use the media and his natural charisma to mask the Dominion's and his own true nature. In the fall of the Confederacy, most of the Terran colonies in the sector joined the Dominion because someone has to protect them from the Protoss and Zerg, and the Dominion had the power and will to do so, and Arcturus was now famous as a rebel crusader who saved the planets the Confederacy abandoned. Come the time of Starcraft II, however, the Dominion's status has decayed into straight The Empire: the Dominion utilizes oppression and violence to keep its dissidents in-line and is primarily interested in securing and expanding Arcturus's own control of the sector than actually defending anyone from Zerg or Protoss.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Turns out, the Dominion ends up just as bad as the Confederacy.
- La Résistance: The Dominion started as the Sons of Korhal, a group that fought to overthrow the Confederacy.
- The Republic: Arcturus cultivates the public image of the Dominion as this, a united front of humanity that will guard its people on all worlds and keep them safe from any who would threaten them. Also fits the trope flavor of being formed out of the resistance. However, the truth is they're a Hegemonic Empire as described above. With Valerian Mengsk in power, they may actually qualify now, since he's trying to weed out Dominion corruption and actually wants to live up to that public image Arcturus faked.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Starcraft II sees black worked into their sigils and units as a secondary color to the traditional red, resulting in this trope. Averted after Heart of the Swarm's ending, where the Dominion pulls a HeelFace Turn.
- Red Is Heroic: When the player controls them as the protagonist faction in Episode I, the player's forces change color from blue for the Mar Sara Militia, to red for the Sons of Korhal. In the final mission when Arcturus has completed his FaceHeel Turn, the player switches back to blue with the red forces as enemies. Come Legacy of the Void and with the Dominion doing a HeelFace Turn, this trope is still averted, as the Dominion never uses red in the missions they appear in, using blue or light blue instead, just like Raynor's Raiders so as to distinguish them from Moebiua Corps, which use red. Played straight in cinematics, where the Dominion soldiers are all red.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Arcturus's goal in rebelling against the Confederacy was personal power and vengeance, not out of any sense to do good by overthrowing an oppressive and corrupt government, and the tactics he used to do it were no better than the Confederacy's.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Sons of Korhal were painted as upstart terrorists even as they attempted to help colonies the Confederacy had turned their back on.
- "Not all terrans have bowed down to Mengsk. Some of us still believe in freedom."—Jim Raynor
When Arcturus Mengsk used psi emitters to unleash the Zerg on Tarsonis and subsequently abandoned his lieutenant Sarah Kerrigan to them, another of his ranking officers, Jim Raynor, had enough with Arcturus' increasingly despotic methods. He and a handful of like-minded troops defected, stealing Mengsk's flashship Hyperion and using it as their mobile base of operations. The Raiders led a small rebellion against the Dominion, helping out people where they were needed and putting their limited manpower and technology to as much use as they could doing it. They are notable for being the only Terran faction to regularly ally with the Protoss.
Provides examples of:
- Badass Crew: Being that they are a very small band, the Raiders that have survived this long have become some of the most battle-hardened and experienced soldiers in the galaxy.
- Blue Is Heroic: They wear blue as their faction color, a remnant from the Mar Sara Militia that founded the group when they defected from the Sons of Korhal.
- Color-Coded Armies: The Raiders universally wear blue as their faction color.
- Cool Ship: They command the Hyperion, a battlecruiser that was once the flagship of the Sons of Korhal. She's many years old and has seen better days, but she hasn't let them down yet.
- HeelFace Turn: For a given value of "heel," but they fit in-universe. When Arcturus is killed and Valerian becomes Emperor of the Dominion, the Raiders are apparently absorbed into the Dominion as a military unit, and Matt Horner becomes an Admiral.
- The Hero: Along with Jim Raynor himself, the Raiders are the closest thing the series has to a central heroic faction.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Despite being heroic freedom fighters, most people believe they're upstart rebels led by a fanatical terrorist. Essentially the same treatment the Confederacy gave the Sons of Korhal. The Protoss, on the other hand see them as heroes. Come Starcraft II with the Dominion's increasingly fragile hold over its colonies and Raynor's increasingly prominent heroics in the Second Great War, this status is beginning to fade. In Legacy of the Void Raynor has fully shed his "outlaw" status and is a Dominion war hero now that Valerian is on the throne and the Dominion is shifting to a more heroic nature.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Being that they will help pretty much anyone in need, the Raiders have a variety of eccentric figures filling their ranks. Raynor lampshades this in Wings of Liberty and almost mentions the trope by name in the process.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Villified: Compared to the Sons of Korhal, Raynor and the gang are portrayed as heroic champions of the underdog with no ambiguities in their heroism.
- We Help the Helpless: It's practically their mission statement. When the Dominion turns its back on those in need, the Raiders will be there no matter how suicidal and dumb it is to intervene.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Just like Arcturus to the Confederacy, the Dominion paints Raynor as a terrorist madman, when really he's just trying to do good in a Crapsack Galaxy that does not favor good guys.
- "Here they were in the middle of one of humanity's darkest hours, with two alien menaces wreaking havoc on the Koprulu sector, and the Kel-Morians were busy threatening the Dominion's mining interests."—Walden Briggs
Of the three surviving supercarriers sent to the Koprulu Sector, one landed on the world of Moria. When contact with Tarsonis and Umoja was established, a mining boom took place that had families and companies scrambling to get their hands on anything they could. During this time of prosperity the Morian Mining Coalition and Kelanis Shipping Guild formed the Kel-Morian Combine, a political militia group that protected Morian businesses from Confederate influence. The Confederacy and The Combine came into continuous conflict over the Morian claims being staked, the Confederacy looking for any excuses they could (and in some cases making them up) to steal particularly prosperous sites from the Morians. This escalated into the Guild Wars, a period of open war between the two groups.
The Guild Wars ended with a Confederate victory, and Moria and the Combine had to turn over much of their assets to the Confederates, but they remained independent otherwise. They continued to operate through the rise of the Dominion and the UED, and are still in existence as of the time of Starcraft II. They take no active role in the conflicts of the sector, funneling resources and money to whoever happens to be in power to stay out of actual warfare.
Provides examples of:
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The only thing the Combine's members care about is lining their own pockets, and they'll ally with or betray anyone if it helps advance that goal.
- Color-Coded Armies: Played with. They did have a faction color in the first game, teal. The catch is that teal is used in the single-player campaign for Terran and Protoss heroes, and the only missions that use it as a proper faction color assign it to a Protoss force. Ironically this means that in the single mission in the original game where you fight the Kel-Morians, their faction color is player-controlled since you have a Protoss hero, and the six Kel-Morian forces are every color except teal (and purple). In Starcraft II they have no consistent faction color.
- Continuity Snarl: Different sources provide different dates for when the Combine was founded. While the official timeline has mostly been nailed down, this bit seems to keep jumping about.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Kel-Morian Combine is full of criminals and pirates and is a hotbed of corruption and bribery. But they're so damn rich they continue to prosper in spite of it.
- Greed: Their modus operandi is to find any planet rich with resources, take all it has to offer, and sell it to the highest bidder.Fenix: It is strange that this Kel-Morian Combine continues to operate while the UED grips the Dominion with an iron fist. I'll never underestimate the motivational effects of Terran greed again."
- Hufflepuff House: Their role in the lore for the Guild Wars has far more influence on the story than anything they've done in the games, where they've appeared in a small handful of missions and do nothing of significance in them. The famous fan campaign The Antioch Chronicles featured them prominently, but in official canon they don't get much to do.
- One Nation Under Copyright: The Combine is one part company, one part government, one part political activist group. Whatever they style themselves as, they control several worlds.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: This is how they stay independent and in operation despite the many civil wars plaguing the rest of Terran space. The Combine is so rich that whatever government is in power, they bribe them to leave them alone. The Combine is more useful as an ally to extort than an enemy to fight, and they know it and exploit it.
During the Second Great War, Valerian Mengsk and Raynor's Raiders found shelter with the Protectorate for a time, but were forced to flee when the Dominion fleet attacked them.
Provides examples of:
- Covert Group with Mundane Front: The Protectorate fronts as a militia defense group, but controls a powerful network of spies and informants that operate across the sector.
- Elite Army: Their forces are small, but are very well-trained and have access to highly advanced technology to give them an edge in battle.
- Heroic Neutral: They just want to be ruled by a peaceful and non-corrupt government. Too bad none of the major powers of the sector fit that description. By Heart of The Swarm, they're on Raynor's side.
- Hufflepuff House: The Protectorate has even less to do than the Kel-Morians. Until Heart of the Swarm, their sole contribution to the series is that the daughter of one of their ambassadors gave birth to Arcturus Mengsk's son Valerian. Heart of the Swarm gives them a minor role at the start of the game, where they provide Valerian with the installations and scientists to take care of a recovering Kerrigan.
- Meaningful Name: 'Umoja' means 'unity' in Swahili, and they're by far the most heroic of the extant human factions at the beginning of Wings of Liberty, other than Raynor's Raiders.
- The Republic: While never outright stated, Angus Mengsk, Arcturus' father, wanted to build a democratic/republican government which Umoja supported... Too bad Arcturus went off the deep end.
A research organization that studies the Protoss, Zerg, and Xel'Naga. Headed by Dr. Emil Narud, they are a respected and legitimate group. Like Narud, they are more than they initially appear: their research into the other races is a cover to find and secure relics of power that Narud wants for his plans in creating the Hybrid.
Provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Evil: It's unclear to what extent the group knew about Narud's true nature and motives. In Heart of the Swarm, the terrans under Narud's control are Dominion, not Moebius, but the latter works for the former so there may be overlap in their military arms. Then, in Legacy of the Void, they work for Amon, but it's stated the Hybrid are controlling their minds, so it's impossible to say how many of them are willing servants or not. The Covert Ops DLC implies that at least some of the Foundation remained loyal to the Dominion and are now aiding Nova and Valerian.
- Artifact Collection Agency: They seek out planets and relics of alien influence and secure them for study. However, it's just a cover for them to find samples of such that Narud needs for Amon.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: In Legacy of the Void, they're enthralled by the Hybrids to become a military force to serve Amon.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Experimenting on the Hybrids ended up seriously messing them up in the end.
- FaceHeel Turn: They go from allies of Raynor and the Dominion in Wings of Liberty to enemies of the Dominion and Protoss alike in Legacy of the Void.
- Psycho for Hire: Their forces include large numbers of Reapers and Spectres.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Their faction color is red, with black being the secondary color.
- Sanity Slippage: Their own Hybrid subjects ended up gradually taking over them, taking away their free will. By the time of Legacy of the Void, they have been reduced to fanatical psychopaths who happily commit suicide to serve Amon.
- "The zerg have always been a threat, and today the emperor's forces have proved they are too weak to protect the people of Borea. But the Defenders of Man are here for you. We will do all we can to safeguard your future."
A new anti-Dominion faction formed after the events of Legacy of the Void, they act to protect Dominion fringe worlds that have been attacked by rogue Zerg. They are also suspected by the Dominion to be behind the capture of several Ghost agents over the past several months. They serve as the main antagonists in the Nova missions.
Provide examples of:
- Evil Counterpart: To Raynor's Raiders; like them, they are a rebellion trying to overthrow the Dominion, and in the meantime are protecting Dominion colonists from the Protoss and Zerg when the Dominion military fails them. However, they're the ones responsible for the Zerg attacks in the first place via psi emitters, and are using them to discredit Valerian's rule.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: They present themselves as the heroic faction who can defend Terran colonies against Zerg when the Dominion is too weak to do so. They are, in truth, the ones responsible for the new Zerg attacks in the first place.
- History Repeats: They intend to discredit Valerian by using Psi-emitters to make Zerg attack civilian worlds, so they can prove that they are more fitted to defend humanity than he is. This is exactly the same plan both the Confederacy and Arcturus used in the first Starcraft.
- Hypocrite: Big time. The premise of their revolution is to make Valerian look as bad as his father, but they're doing the exact same thing Arcturus did when he overthrew the Confederacy. Moreover, they accuse Valerian of being a bad leader because, according to them, his diplomatic stance toward alien races put Humanity at threat. The only alien attacks Terrans have suffered since the End War are entirely their doing- they are the one attracting feral Zerg using psi-emitters, and the Taldarim attacked solely as retaliation for the Defenders destroying one of their bases.
- Names to Trust Immediately: Most likely invoked, as they are trying to present themselves as better fitted to defend humanity than the Dominion is.
- Red Herring: The first mission pack heavily hints they're Confederate loyalists — they make use of Ghosts to strike at the Dominion, they operate out of Tarsonis, they have advanced technology (some of which seems based on Confederate research seen in the "Deceptions" mission for the first game), and they use psi emitters to spark zerg invasions. Their name also echoes the Confederacy, which was sometimes called "The Confederacy of Man." The second mission pack instead reveals they're actually Dominion insurgents.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: They are just as bad as Arcturus and the Sons of Korhal, if not worse.
- Villain with Good Publicity: They're known to civilians as a peaceful group of Dominion dissenters protecting them when the Dominion doesn't come through.
- "If society is defined by how well its members comprehend one another's interests and culture, the Protoss manage to eclipse us merely by existing."—Jake Ramsay
The bulk of the Protoss race who live on Aiur follow the Khala, the teachings of the philosopher Khas that encourages unity and peace through their communal psionic link. The Khalai Protoss operate under a caste system, divided into the Templar, the warriors; the Judicators, the politicians; and the Khalai, the working class. Each caste in turn consists of different tribes, and are overseen by the Conclave, an elite group of elders mostly taken from the Judicators that act as the rulers of the race.
When Aiur was invaded by the Zerg, the Conclave's efforts to fight them fell short of success, and it was only through the intervention of Raynor's Raiders and allies of rogue Executor Tassadar that the Overmind was destroyed and the invasion thwarted. Yet the Conclave was destroyed in the war and the planet too heavily infested to be saved after the losses suffered, thus the Khalai Protoss fled to Shakuras to rebuild their civilization alongside the Dark Templar.
Provides examples of:
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Protoss once used lethal force to pacify a race locked in a civil war, and, ashamed of themselves, they made a law vowing to never interfere with the matters of other races unless they pose a threat. This is why the Terrans were left alone when they arrived until the Zerg arrived on the scene.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Khalai believe that the greatest of them can become one with the Khala upon death.
- Blue Is Heroic: The player's Protoss forces are usually blue, sometimes brown. The exact name of the faction varies between Protoss Warband and Fleet of the Executor. Played with in the lore — blue is the tribal color of the Sargas Tribe, which historically were of dubious loyalty to the Conclave, and more Dark Templar spawned from their ranks than any other tribe.
- Break the Haughty: Of all the Protoss factions, Khalai were by far the proudest and most self-righteous in the original game, treating the Dark Templars like heretics for refusing to follow the Khala and looking at the Terrans with disdain. By Brood War, their beloved homeworld has been taken over by the Swarm, their glorious civilization is destroyed, and they only managed to survive by accepting the hospitality of the very Dark Templars they banished from Aiur in the first place. Legacy of the Void pushes it even further by revealing A large part of their culture was a lie and the Khala they built their entire society on was a tool created by Amon to better control them. To their credit, they actually learn from this.
- Color-Coded Armies: Each Protoss tribe is colored differently in-game. The Judicators are the Ara Tribe and Shelak Tribe, red and white respectively. The Templar consists of the tribes Akilae (teal), Auriga (orange), Sargas (blue), Velari (yellow), and Venatir (brown). The only Khalai tribe seen is the Furinax, purple. Franchise-wide the Khalai Protoss are usually represented by yellow and blue, with the colors factoring prominently into most of their units and buildings, faction colors aside.
- Corrupt Church: Their main faith, the Khala was established as a way to unify the Protoss Race. Over time though, its leaders, the Conclave, became increasingly oppressive as they preached The Evils of Free Will, which led to further division such as the persecution of the Dark Templar, Protoss who wanted their individuality. If Tassadar's words were of any indication, the Judicators, a ruling caste within the Conclave, have long steered the Templar for their own ends.
- The Empire: They used to form an empire throughout the sector until the fall of Aiur.
- End of an Era: At the end of the main campaign in Legacy of the Void, the Khalai protoss abandoned the Khala by severing their nerve cords, after Amon corrupted it to mind-control them.
- Force and Finesse: They're the brute and straightforward Force to the stealthy and shady Finesse of the Dark Templar. This carries into gameplay; the Nerazim-influenced units (Stalker, Dark Templar, Oracle, Void Ray), are best used as precision strike forces that hit hard and then retreat, while the Khalai units (Colossus, Immortal, Archon, Carrier, etc) mostly have you send them straight at enemies wrecking anything in their path. Many characters, including some of the Khalai themselves, note this is a problem for them; they charge headfirst into any conflict knowing no fear, and are blind to the idea of it not working.Kerrigan: You protoss are all so headstrong and predictable. You're your own worst enemies.
- Irony: The Conclave believed in the evils of free will and believed the Khala was the best way to keep peace. The true purpose of the Khala is to enslave the Protoss to Amon's will, who created it with that specific purpose in mind. Then have them rampage across the galaxy and kill everything they can.
- Knight Templar: The Protoss have mostly good intentions, but they can be extreme with their beliefs. This mostly manifests in their zealous purging of anything that remotely Zerg-like, including potentially curable infested Terran colonists. There's a reason members of the warrior caste are called Templar, and their footsoldiers are named zealots.
- Light Is Good: The Khalai Protoss as a whole are associated with light (in contrast with the darkness and void theme of the Dark Templars), with bright blue psionic energy and golden armors or structures. Not all of them qualify as truly good, but even the worst of them are just well-intentioned bigots or Knight Templars. However, there's a horrible truth behind their "light"—their Psychic Link was created by Amon so he could enslave them later.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: From what we know of the Conclave, they were so wrapped up in tradition that what little they elected to do took a lot of deliberation and arguing to authorize, and ended up not being effective anyway. Tassadar repeatedly lampshades their incompetence and idiocy when they engage in a Civil War with him and his followers even as Aiur is in the midst of Zerg invasion.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Conclave is deeply steeped in tradition and are controlling to all three castes, paranoid that dissension could lead to a second Aeon of Strife. This means that any time someone steps out of line or acts contrary to their beliefs, they get suspicious and shut them down.
- Path of Inspiration: The Khala is known as "The Path of Ascension", established to unify the Protoss and end the Aeon of Strife, based on a psychic communal link formed between all adherents. However, the reason for the link was because Amon created the original link, as a means to control them later. In an interesting twist to the trope however, no one in the Khala knew about this; Khas only rediscovered it without knowing the true, nefarious purpose it held, and was genuinely trying to make things better for the Protoss by using it.
- Red Is Heroic: Not exactly heroic, but in charge and viewed as correct. The majority of the Conclave hail from the Ara Tribe, which use red as their faction color. Inverted, when Amon takes control of the Khala and turns them red.
- Took a Level in Kindness: At the beginning of the original game, they were Scary Dogmatic Aliens with Knight Templar tendencies who would bomb Terran planets to stop the Zerg with no real care for the human loss and no warning, as well as seriously racist toward the Dark Templars. The actions of Protoss like Tassadar and Artanis, as well as the fall of the Conclave, have eventually caused them to develop into a faction that can be considered unambiguously good.
- "They question the Khala. They maintain that the right of the individual takes priority over the good of the whole. Some have even resorted to the extreme measure of self-mutilation in order to sever their connection to the Khala."—Judicator Kortanul
Not all Protoss found peace and unity in embracing the Khala. Some Protoss sought to keep their individuality, fearing that the communical psionic link would lead to a loss of self. They thus refused to indulge in the Khala, and as a symbol of this rejection, severed their psionic nerve cords, cutting them off from the Khala permanently. The Conclave, paranoid of a second Aeon of Strife, sent the Templar Adun to arrest and execute the rogues in secret. Instead Adun took them under his wing, teaching them psionic skills to help them to hide from the Conclave, but without the guidance of the Khala they had trouble controlling their powers. Massive psionic storms broke out over Aiur, causing chaos. Unwilling to admit the existence of the rogues and the treason of their most decorated warrior, since that would just make everything much worse, the Conclave exiled the rogues from Aiur and concocted a cover story that Adun was responsible for this.
The exiles became known as the Dark Templar. Without the Khala, they found guidance and power in the void of space. They settled on Shakuras and built their own civilization. After the fall of Aiur, the Khalai Protoss fled to Shakuras and the splintered race was reunited, though tensions on both sides remained. The Dark Templar became properly known as the Nerazim Tribe, though there are many sub-tribes and other factions that are also of the Dark Templar.
Provides examples of:
- Anarchy Is Chaos: Subverted. The Conclave believes that since the Dark Templar rejects the Khala's teachings, they must want to subvert the peace it has granted the race and lead the Protoss back to the path of ruin. The reality is the Dark Templar just believe that peace doesn't mean sacrificing your individuality.
- Color-Coded Armies: In contrast to the Khalai Protoss usually using blue and yellow, the Dark Templar are blue/green and silver, shown through the Stalker, Void Ray, and Oracle. Their art has them with green and purple highlights, but in multiplayer, it makes them look too much like the zerg.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Conclave believes they are, but the Dark Templar prove themselves heroic and admirable figures in their own right. When Aiur is threatened by Zerg, they are more than willing to provide help.
- Divergent Character Evolution:
- Supplementary materials and expanded world building have established the Dark Templar as having their own tribes and character among them rather than being one single band of assassins. This is integrated into the game in Starcraft II, the two different Dark Templar models said to be from different tribes. The Dark Templar themselves are also known as the Nerazim now.
- Legacy of the Void introduces Nerazim skins of some units and buildings, to emphasize that the Dark Templar utilize different designs from the Khalai.
- The Evils of Free Will: The Conclave thought that their refusal to embrace the Khala meant they would lead to a second Aeon of Strife. In reality, most of the Dark Templar are benevolent and peaceful and welcome their brethren to Shakuras. There are individuals who protest it (like Ulrezaj), but mostly they subvert this trope.
- Strawman Has a Point: note Turns out that, in Legacy of the Void, that there was a better reason to reject the Khala, as it makes Protoss vulnerable to Amon's mind control.
- Force and Finesse: They're the stealthy and shady Finesse to the brute and straightforward Force of the Khalai. This carries into gameplay; the Nerazim-influenced units (Stalker, Dark Templar, Oracle, Void Ray), are best used as precision strike forces that hit hard and then retreat, while the Khalai units (Colossus, Immortal, Archon, Carrier, etc) mostly have you send them straight at enemies wrecking anything in their path.
- For Happiness: They believe in individuality and sever themselves from the Khala, but remain committed to making the galaxy a better place to live in.
- The Heretic: A more benevolent version, they rebelled against the Khala's teachings not out of malice, but because they disagreed with them and wanted to follow their own path.
- Hufflepuff House: There are three main tribes that make up the largely individualistic Nerazim: The cloth-wearing Lenassa (like Zeratul, the original Dark Templar units, and half of the StarCraft II Dark Templar units), the zerg bone-wearing Zer'atai (like Lassatar and the other half of the StarCraft II Dark Templar units)... and the Boros which apparently wear helmets and heavy armor. Unless the Boros tribe flies the void rays, they have never shown up. Meanwhile the zerg bones have become more iconic than the shrouds.
- Important Haircut: In a sense. While the Protoss do not have "hair", their psionic appendages are tentacle-like protrusions extending from the backs of their head in the same manner. The severing of these appendages cuts them off from the Khala forever, and is a symbol of the Dark Templar's rejection of it.
- Invisibility Cloak: Their most reputed ability is the power to bend light around themselves to turn invisible.
- Matriarchy: Their society is usually depicted as led by a female ruler, though as shown with Zeratul, lower rank leaders can be male. However, after Raszagal's death, Mohandar was their leader.
- No-Sell: Amon's possession does not work on them because they don't have nerve cords. When it happened, they were in the position to save corrupted Protoss and cut off their nerve cords.
- Power of the Void: Since they cannot access the Khala, the Dark Templar draw power and guidance from the void.
- Vindicated by History: In-universe example: in Legacy, the protoss eventually abandoned the Khala due to Amon's corruption, which allows him to mind control them en masse.
- "Experience has taught the protoss that when we do not fight together, we die alone. We shall not see defeat this day. For we stand as one. Our differences will not divide us, but make us stronger."—Hierarch Artanis
The Protoss faction founded after the fall of Aiur, by uniting the surviving Khalai and the Nerazim. They are led by Artanis, and serve as the protagonist faction in Legacy of the Void.
Provides examples of:
- The Alliance: The Protoss equivalent; they were founded by uniting the Khalai and Nerazim, and are later joined by the Purifiers and (temporarly) the Tal'darim. A major reason for creating this alliance was because Amon hijacked the Golden Armada, and Artanis' standing forces weren't enough to take them on.
- Badass Army: The Golden Armada, a gigantic fleet built by Artanis over the years between the two game in order to re-conquer Aiur. It's mostly taken over by Amon in Legacy of the Void, and early in the game Artanis makes it a point that without sufficient standing forces, fighting them is not an option. The armada however, is recovered by the end of the game.
- Cool Ship: In Legacy of the Void, they get the Spear of Adun, a gigantic Arkship large enough to contain a good chunk of their people, factories used to create machines and weaponry, and a large arsenal they can use to support their armies in battle.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Defied; Artanis strongly believes the Protoss' defeats in the past were caused by their constant infighting, and, when he founded the Daelaam, did his best to not repeat the mistakes and prejudices committed by the Conclave. As a result, they put an emphasis on cooperation between the various tribes and are willing to break multiple traditions to solidify their alliances.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: They were founded by uniting the Khalai and the Nerazim.
- "Before we became The Chosen, we were The Forged. And we can never be broken."—A Tal'darim Mothership pilot
A splinter group of Protoss, they are particularly fanatical in their worship of the Xel'Naga. They worship Amon, the fallen Xel'Naga, and champion him as the true god of the Protoss. They appear throughout Starcraft II in places of Xel'Naga influence and act as the Protoss antagonists of the trilogy.
There is a separate group calling themselves the Tal'darim on Aiur. However, they don't have any apparent connection to Amon.
Provides examples of:
- Apocalypse Cult: They worship Amon, who's planning to destroy the galaxy, and they're mostly aware of it too. The fact that they're loyal to the point of death made it all the more easy for Amon to manipulate them.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: They follow the "Chain of Ascension," a strict chain of command where every Tal'darim holds a rank. If they're able to kill a superior in ritual duel, everyone moves up in rank until the gaps are filled. The belief is that the continued practice of these methods will ensure the Tal'darim remain strong and any weakness in their numbers will eventually be filed down the ranks and killed.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Their tactics in several missions involving them in Wings of Liberty. As you begin to defeat them, they begin throwing units at you in ever-increasing numbers in a desperate attempt to deny you your hard-sought relic.
- Blood Knight/Proud Warrior Race Guy: While the Protoss as a whole are this, the Tal'darim take this even further than the other Protoss factions, having a much more martial, brutal and warlike culture.
- Dark Is Evil/Light Is Not Good: They have no problem employing Khalai and Nerazim units in equal measure (though we find out the Tal'darim have been stealing technology from them). Legacy of the Void and expanded world lore establish they split off from the Protoss long before the Nerazim came around and have developed an entirely separate belief system, so they don't care one way or the other about the divide between the two factions or the religious beliefs at play between them, although they do see both groups as heretics.
- The Day of Reckoning: They believe that on "The Day of Ascension," Amon will return to cleanse the galaxy of life, and the Tal'darim's loyalty to him through the centuries will finally be repaid by turning the strongest of them into Hybrid to serve him.
- Divergent Character Evolution: After they looked the same as normal Protoss in the first two games, Legacy of the Void gives them unique unit and structure models in addition to a distinct color scheme, that gives them a very different look from the Daelaam Protoss. Their units are generally bulkier, spikier, and more angular than the sleek, refined architecture of the Daelaam.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Killing subordinates makes none of them bat an eye, and they believe in a Might Makes Right philosophy where one increases their standing by killing a superior in ritual combat, Rak'Shir. However, superiors are only to be attacked and killed in Rak'Shir, after a formal challenge is issued and preparations by both parties have been made. Attacking a higher-ranked Tal'darim outside of Rak'Shir is one of their highest crimes and usually is punished by a public and drawn-out execution.
- They're violent, brutal, and are implied to have raided the Protoss fleets for years. However, when they find out their promised "ascension" into Hybrid by Amon is a lie and he's going to kill them along with everything else, they're outraged and perform a HeelFace Turn to help stop him.
- Fantastic Racism: While it's clear the Tal'darim hate terrans, their racism towards Khalai and Nerazim Protoss has quite a depth. They consider other Protoss inferior to themselves, priding themselves as being "The Chosen" by Amon, whereas other Protoss are weak and spineless. The Tal'darim even disparingly refer to other Protoss as "the Firstborn", as if they were seperate from them (which ironic because that term collectively describes all Protoss, even the Tal'darim). Furthermore, their response to any Khalai or Dark Templar they see is to capture them. Even towards their Terran allies, they have contempt for.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: How is it they use the same technology as the rest of the Protoss despite being separated from them centuries ago? Legacy of the Void includes a Hand Wave that throughout history, Protoss ships and colonies would be raided by mysterious enemies, or went missing without warning. Artanis speculates it's been the Tal'darim, stealing Protoss technology and learning to replicate it.
- Hate Sink: In Wings of Liberty, it's clear they're made to be a faction to root against, considering the Zerg have no characterization apart from their Queen, or being a Horde of Alien Locusts. They're a bunch of smug Jerkasses against terrans who want no quarrel with them, especially when the Terrans are just running a simple errand taking Terrazine gas that is plentiful. Such a behavior is the type that would make anyone want to punch them in the faces. It doesn't end there—they kidnap Protoss who want nothing to do with them, and steal their technology. In-universe, they're just so hated that Raynor wishes they could just go away, and the main Protoss rail on them for their treacherous actions, and even demand they die for their crimes against them. However, they grow out of this role in later installments, as we find out they aren't just some jerks who are trying to ruin your day, and that they serve Amon. By Legacy, the whole purpose is essentially to understand them, and it's revealed that they've been lied to ever since they began worship of Amon. Can't really blame them for that.
- HeelFaith Turn: Played with. They worship Amon under the belief that when he arrives to destroy the galaxy, the best of the Tal'darim will be raised to become Hybrids, his eternal servants. When they find out Amon lied to them and is going to kill them off along with everything else, the Tal'darim consider themselves betrayed and turn on him, allying with the Daelaam to destroy him. With Amon no longer controlling them, Artanis even encourages them to seek out who they are.
- The Heretic: The Khalai Protoss consider the Tal'darim heretics for betraying them and serving Amon. However, the Tal'darim consider the Khalai heretics as well.
- Hypocrite: The Tal'darim treat people stealing from as a serious offense, but the Tal'darim themselves are thieves, stealing from the main Protoss without a care.
- Klingon Promotion: The most common way to move up the "Chain of Ascensions" is to kill your superior in ritual combat. However, this can lead to Loophole Abuse: One can also "persuade" his superior to challenge his superior in ritual combat. As long as someone above your rank dies, you'll be promoted, even if you had no personal hand in it.
- Knight Templar: They're even more hostile and aggressive in this than the Daelaam Protoss. Their standard response to Terrans arriving on one of their worlds is to kill them, sometimes with a "leave now before we kill you" warning. They even capture Protoss who don't join their cause, or kill them for their "heresy" against Amon.
- In Name Only: The Tal'darim of The Dark Templar Saga have little in common with the Tal'darim seen in the games, aside from the fact that they are not Khala-adherents; any connection Ulrezaj has to Amon is left up in the air so far, so the reason he named his followers Tal'darim in the novels is unclear.
- Meaningful Name: Via Bilingual Bonus. Their name means "the Forged" in Khalani and refers to mythological servants of the Xel'Naga. The Tal'darim took it to symbolise their devotion.
- Obviously Evil: They get gradually less subtle each game. In Wings of Liberty, they had a standard Protoss design, possibly due to Gameplay and Story Segregation. In Heart of the Swarm, they started using a notably darker color scheme, albeit still staying identical to regular protoss otherwise. Comes Legacy of the Void, they get a full Red and Black and Evil All Over redesign, with Spikes of Villainy on some of their units to boot. Ironically, they end up making a HeelFace Turn in this opus.
- Obliviously Evil: In the novels. Most of those Tal'darim had no idea they were working for Ulrezaj, or that he was using a drug to slowly cut them off from the Khala.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: In Legacy of the Void, in contrast to the blue and gold of usual Protoss, the Tal'darim's armies are black and red.
- Religion of Evil/Scary Amoral Religion: The Tal'darim straddle these contradictory tropes thusly: although they worship Amon while knowing full well he's an Omnicidal Maniac, they consider themselves to be worshipping the true god by doing so, and they see all other Protoss as heretics with false beliefs.
- Remember the New Guy?: Legacy of the Void establishes the Tal'darim have existed since before the Aeon of Strife, when the Xel'Naga first left Aiur. This is despite no hint to their existence in pre-existing lore. The game includes a Hand Wave that they were an urban legend not widely believed, and have only recently come out into the open now that Amon's return is nearing.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: Turns out the Tal'darim led by Nyon were once part of the Amon-worshipping group, but they split off because according to Alarak, Nyon went insane and ended up pursuing his own devices.
- The Remnant: The Tal'darim airforce continue to use the Scout vessel that most Protoss haven't used since Brood War (it's not in multiplayer or buildable in the campaign).
- Replacement Flat Character: Initially were introduced as this in Wings of Liberty, replacing the Khalai's Conclave as the Hate Sink Knight Templar faction of Protoss. They grow out of it in Legacy of the Void to become their own thing.
- Separate, but Identical: Their units are identical to the rest of the Protoss in terms of stats, though their models vary. Zigzagged in the campaign for Legacy of the Void; the Protoss acquire Tal'darim variants of numerous units that do have different stats and abilities from the base unit, but only the player's forces employ them, enemy Tal'darim forces still use the base units with the Tal'darim model swapped in. When fighting as AI-controlled allies, they use their special units.
- Smug Snake: More or less all the Tal'darim are this, because they're "The Chosen". They are hostile towards Terrans, see Zerg as nothing more than animals, but have a "you're weak and we're better than you" attitude towards other Protoss as well.
- Spikes of Villainy: In Legacy of the Void, they tend to favor sharp spikes in their designs.
- The Social Darwinist: The Chain of Ascension ensures that the strong Tal'darim rule, while the weak perish.
- The Usual Adversaries: In Wings of Liberty, this is how Raynor sees them, since they start chasing him everywhere they can after he stole some of their artifact. When they try attacking him right as the planet is about to be consumed by its own sun, he admits he is fed up with them.
- "You would do well to remember, we will outlive you. And we do not forget."—A Purifier to a Templar.
A robot race built by the protoss to augment their military. Made from the minds of fallen Templar and then disrespected by the Conclave, they were sealed away on Cybros when they rebelled. With the war against Amon so dire, Artanis decides to release them for their aid.
Provides examples of:
- Brain Uploading: They were made from replicas of the minds of formerly-living Templars.
- Color-Coded Armies: They generally have a yellow, orange, and silver-white colorscheme.
- Cool Ship: Their space station, Cybros, comes with a powerful Death Ray they can use to devastating effects.
- Expendable Clone: They were seen as expendable copies by the Conclave. This is only acceptable for those with Basic AI and not a templar personality.
- They are basically the Protoss equivalent of the Geth, with them even uploading their minds to each other when a body dies through an artificial Khala. Cybros is an expy of the Death Star.
- They also have vibes of the reimagined Cylons, what with being originally based around the consciousness of the deceased and subsequently abused for being viewed as slaves only to violently revolt against their creators, but wind up helping them in the end to secure their freedom and to be treated as equals. Only difference is, they lost to the Protoss in their revolt compared to Cylons and the Colonials.
- Meaningful Name: "Purification" has been used as the name for when the protoss sterilize a planet. They have no reservations about doing this.
- Minor Major Character: Their Executor has a name and is not Fenix. He gets very little focus and dialogue and only appears in one mission.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Conclave treated them like machines and refused to acknowledge them as sentient beings and equals to the living Protoss, resulting in their rebellion. When Artanis releases them, they are initially distrustful, but eventually agree to join him in exchange of being treated better.
- Remember the New Guy?: Sidestepped. While the Purifiers were never mentioned before, the game mentions that various other Protoss robotics, including the Warp Prism, Sentry, and Colossus, are based on Purifier technology. Thus, while they weren't mentioned by name, the Purifiers have been around throughout the trilogy.
- Sealed Badass in a Can: When Artanis finds them, they've been sealed in stasis.
- Starfish Robots: The disruptors, at least. Most look like robotic protoss.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The Purifiers chose to rebel and killed their masters, leading to them being shut down and sealed away.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The key part of their lore is that they are super-advanced AI programs with free will and thought, and personalities and memories scanned from real life Templar warriors. But does this mean they're actually protoss in their own right, or just robots?
- In Legacy, Artanis settled the matter: the Purifiers are protoss.
- "You can't out-think the swarm, you can't out-maneuver the swarm, and you certainly can't break the morale of the swarm."—Ronald Jackson
The bulk of the Zerg, the Swarm is led by the Overmind in command of a Hive Mind. The Overmind commanded the Zerg through Cerebrates, implied to be aspects of the Overmind's consciousness given form and sentience. Each Cerebrate in turn commanded a Brood with a specific role in the Swarm. The mission of the Swarm is evolution itself — find new worlds and new species, conquer those worlds and assimilate those species to grow stronger, and continue on. The ultimate prize of this goal is the Protoss, the Overmind believing that the assimilation of their race to be the destiny of the Swarm.
When the Overmind located the Protoss homeworld Aiur it launched an invasion and manifested on the planet. Through the efforts of Raynor's Raiders and Tassadar's Warband the Overmind was killed, and the Swarm split into two between Kerrigan and the Cerebrates commanded by Daggoth. The two sides warred for total control of the Zerg, a conflict that became known as the Brood War. Eventually Kerrigan destroyed the Cerebrates and took full control of the Swarm, naming herself Queen of the Zerg. Kerrigan subsequently replaced the Cerebrates with Broodmothers, who similarly lead the Broods of the Swarm in her name.
Provides examples of:
- Alien Invasion: In their earliest days, they infiltrated the Terran fringe worlds with spores that birth Zerg on the surface to overwhelm the planet. They soon turned to simply unleashing millions and millions of Zerg on them from orbit instead.
- Big Bad: In the first game. They also shared the spot with the UED in Brood War and the Dominion in Wings of Liberty.
- Blood Knight: The Baelrog Brood, commanded by Gorn, is bred to be particularly ravenous and bloodthirsty, to the point of being cannibalistic both to themselves and other Broods.
- Blue and Orange Morality: With the exception of Brood War-Infested Kerrigan, the Zerg are not malicious or evil in their invasion and infestation of countless worlds, they just don't have any concept of morality beyond "everything that is not Zerg is a threat, and thus must be be assimilated or killed". They also genuinely believe assimilating species is doing them a favor. For example, Zagara in Heart of the Swarm muses that Terrans must live lonely, isolated lives with no hive mind to unite them and no higher purpose to guide them. She not only suggests assimilating the race into the Swarm will alleviate these problems for them, but does so in a completely innocuous manner.
- The Brute: The Jormungand Brood, led by Araq, used brute force and overwhelming numbers to crush enemies.
- Color-Coded Armies:
- Under the Overmind, Tiamat Brood was red, Garm Brood was orange, Jormungand Brood was purple, Baelrog Brood was white, Grendel Brood was brown, Leviathan Brood was yellow, Fenris Brood was teal, and Surtur Brood was blue. The color purple is most universally associated with the Swarm however, as it's the color of the playable Zerg in the original campaign.
- In Wings of Liberty, most of Kerrigan's Swarm Zerg are violet, with special or elite units being colored orange. Heart of the Swarm changes this up a bit, with Kerrigan's units being orange, then purple following her her re-infestation. Zagara's rogue brood is red, and feral zerg broods are pale yellow.
- In Legacy of the Void, the Swarm remains purple, while Amon's brood is red. In Covert Ops, the invading Zerg are orange, an early indicator that the Swarm isn't behind the latest Zerg attacks.
- Combat Pragmatist: The Garm Brood as commanded by Zasz specialized in Hit-and-Run Tactics, sneak attacks, and generally used any advantage they could get to subvert enemy defenses and weaken their position.
- The Corruption: The Primal Zerg see their Hive Mind as this, seeing how it was imposed to them by Amon and made them lose their individuality, something they consider unacceptable following their philosophy.
- The Dreaded: Everyone is terrified of and hates the Swarm. While the Protoss see them as abominations to be exterminated, the Terrans see them as monsters to flee from and do so.
- Elite Army: Daggoth's Tiamat Brood were the most highly evolved and potent of the Broods.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: Zerg in themselves aren't particularly fire-themed, but the Swarm's primary hive planet, Char, is a hostile volcanic world. It has been suggested in both games and promotional materials they have a preference for such planets, since their adaptability allows them to survive and get tougher in an environment otherwise hostile to Terrans and Protoss, giving them an Home Field Advantage.
- Godzilla Threshold: When the other Broods fail to break an enemy, the Overmind sends in the Surtur Brood, the most powerful of the Broods and so violent that even stray Zerg left behind are often killed in their onslaught.
- HeelRace Turn: Played with in Heart of the Swarm. They still are not in the best relationship with other species, but thanks to Kerrigan's HeelFace Turn, they have become at least somewhat more heroic than they used to be. They fought alongside Raynor's Raiders against Emperor Mengsk, and now recognize that there is a much bigger evil on the horizon. After Amon's death and Kerrigan's ascension as a Xel'Naga, Zagara seems satisfied with controlling Char and the systems around it while leaving the Terran and Protoss alone, though it's unknown how long that will last.
- Hive Drone: Most members of the Swarm, with the exception of Kerrigan, the Overmind, and the cerebrates, fit this trope's description. There is even an actual unit type called a drone whose only purposes are to harvest resources and morph into structures that let you make other types of Zerg.
- Hive Mind: First controlled by the Overmind, then by Kerrigan. The Zerg are further divided into Broods that can be controlled by intermediaries. The Overmind used Cerebrates, Kerrigan uses Broodmothers.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: They're on both ends of it with the Primal Zerg, the Swarm sniffing their focused evolutions and Hive Mind make them superior to the chaotic and directionless Primals.
- Not Me This Time: In Nova Covert Ops. Technically, the Zerg are causing trouble for the Dominion again, but it's not Zagara's doing—The Defenders of Man are using Psi-emitters to lure Zerg attacks on civilian worlds.
- Reformed, but Not Tamed: In Heart of the Swarm onward. They technically no longer are villains and actively help saving the Universe from Amon, but their methods still involve unleashing hordes of monstrous bugs on their opponents and assimilating other creatures.
- You Will Be Assimilated: Any species they find that could be of use to them are consumed by the Swarm. Some are recreated directly to be used as new Zerg breeds, others have choice genetic traits analyzed and integrated into existing breeds.
- "Those left behind are the Primal Zerg. They fight; they kill; they evolve."—Zeratul
While the Overmind left Zerus with a large force of Zerg under the control of the Swarm, some Zerg remained behind on Zerus separate from the Hive Mind, and became known as the Primal Zerg. Operating by a pack mentality, the Primals were driven by a similar but distinct philosophy to the Swarm — survival of the fittest. The Primals constantly wage war on each other for superiority, consuming the essence of their victims to grow stronger. In Heart of the Swarm, Kerrigan returns to Zerus to attempt to take control of the Primals.
Provides examples of:
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The packs are led by the strongest among them. As a result, they end up joining the Swarm when Kerrigan converts herself into a Primal Zerg and slays their Packleaders.
- Cannibalism Superpower: Primal Zerg eat those they kill, any genes they had worth keeping being assimilated and the victor evolving in seconds. Some have been so far in this that they have ended up becoming Eldritch Abominations.
- Divergent Character Evolution: Their very existence diversifies the Zerg race from the Swarm, demonstrating a very different side to the species from what was previously known.
- Fantastic Racism: Primal Zerg do not think highly of the Swarm Zerg, seeing them as corrupted and weak. This is the main reason Kerrigan has to become a Primal Zerg herself if she wants them to join her.
- Life Drinker: As long as a Primal Zerg keeps improving himself by consuming essence, it won't age. Since they are constantly doing it, they never die of old age; those who fail to devour others and evolve get devoured themselves, and those who succeed can survive for entire millenia.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: To the Swarm, posturing they are corrupted and weak while the Primals are pure and strong.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Compared to the Swarm Zerg. The Primal Zerg believe in the survival of the fittest, live in packs, frequently express pride in how strong they are and follow Asskicking Equals Authority to the letter.
- Really 700 Years Old: Since they are in constant evolution, Primal Zerg can prevent their aging by collecting essence on regular basis. As a result, some of them can be several centuries or even millenia.
- The Social Darwinist: Zerg fights Zerg, the victor consumes the loser's essence and assimilates any worthwhile biological traits they had to grow stronger. Rinse and repeat on a planet-wide scale for millennia; welcome to Zerus.