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Bugs/Arachnids as they appear in the board game
Bugs/Arachnids as they appear in the anime
Bugs/Arachnids as they appear in the film
Bugs/Arachnids as they appear in the animated series
An insectoid species originating on the planet Klendathu.
  • Acid Attack: The Tanker Bugs, which take the place of human mechanized armor in the Arachnids' Hive Caste System, are able to secrete highly corrosive acid from their mouths that melts enemies within seconds.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the original novel, the Bugs are an extremely advanced species who fight with advanced technology. In the film, they have no technology at all.
  • Alien Blood: Most of them bleed green, but some castes, such as the Tankers, have orange blood.
  • Alien Invasion: They are on the receiving end of this. The Federation has been expanding on to planets that were claimed by the Bugs, provoking massacres that eventually spiral into an interstellar war.
  • Ambiguously Evil: It's not clear whether they actually started the war. While later movies give them more of a voice, they are well into the war at this point, so their hostility is to be expected.
    • Subverted in the animated series where the Bugs expressed full desires in attacking and conquering worlds, especially those populated by sentient races.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Early in the first movie, a soldier establishes that the warriors can be one-shotted with a proper hit to the nerve stem(He was promptly ignored).
  • Big Bad: The Brain Bug which leads the other Bugs - and later Behemecoatyl, who leads the brains.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: They're alien insects, sure, but they're still massive. Arachnid warriors are easily the size of a car, while the Plasma Bugs are considerably more massive.
  • Dirty Coward: The Brain Bug is intelligent enough to fear death. When Rico presents him with an explosive device, the Brain quickly scatters away behind the Arachnid mooks.
  • Eat Brain for Memories: The Brain Bugs, who use a rather straw-like proboscis to stab through the skull and suck out the juicy brainmeats within.
  • Elite Mooks: The tanker and hopper bugs. An encroaching tanker especially just means the soldiers are better off retreating since they have few means to counter them effectively.
  • Feel No Pain: The Arachnid soldiers will keep coming even as their limbs are being shot off.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Tanker Bugs are essentially organic flame tanks. They're huge bugs with a thick exoskeleton and the ability to spray flaming, corrosive liquid similar to napalm.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Behemecoatyl is retroactively the Bigger Bad of the first two films. It is the absolute leader of the Bugs, but is never seen in the previous ones, in which the humans only fought its minions.
  • Hive Caste System: In addition to the Bug castes in the novel, the movie and its direct-to-DVD sequels added Plasma Bugs, who shot blue death from their butts clear up to orbit; Tanker Bugs, giant bombardier beetles who spat red death at close range; Chariot Bugs, who carried around the bloated Brain Bugs; Hoppers, which could fly but were otherwise similar to Warriors; and in the later films Control Bugs, who were much smaller and could mind-control people similar to Puppeteer Parasites, and the God-Bug or Brain-Of-Brains Behemecoatyl, a top-level caste with a hyperintelligent and telepathic Bug that overgrows most of a planet. Even so, in the original, they used tools instead of Organic Technology.
  • Hive Drone: Subverted. The United Citizen Federation, believing that the entire race were mindless insects, send thousands of troops to invade their home world. The invasion cost the Mobile infantry 100,000 lives in the first hour because one or more super-intelligent Brain Bugs had coordinated a defensive strategy.
  • Hive Mind: The series expanded on them having a caste system, with each subspecies filling a specific role. The Brain Bugs and Behemacoatyl (from the third film, Marauder; the largest Bug seen so far - its body engulfed almost a planet) have extreme psychic abilities that can be used to control all bugs in the colony.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The Arachnids come in various shapes and sizes too - the common "infantry", so to speak, consists of pretty large (taller than humans, but not by much), four-legged, shrieking horrors, but there are also giant fire-breathing beetles, dragonfly-wasp-fly-like flyers big enough to grab and lift a man from the ground and, best of all, enormous brain-eaters that resemble bloated larvae. They seem to have a hive mind system.
  • It Can Think: The humans just quickly assume that the Bugs are dumb, mindless animals, and just the idea of them being capable of intelligent thought is incredibly offensive. However, the humans learn their lesson once the Bugs spring a massive trap and repel the initial human invasion force. It's later revealed that they are being led by extremely intelligent "Brain Bugs", a leadership caste.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Despite being officially known as "The Arachnids", their designs seem far more insect-like than arachnid - though ultimately, they're aliens with no relation to either.
  • Pheromones: When the replacement soldiers arrive at the outpost, they find everyone dead, the corpses ripped to shreds. The commanding officer, however, is intact except for a hole in his skull where his brains were sucked out. One soldier remarks about the dead officer's odor, and is told that the enemy "bugs" use that scent to mark the man as "important", so that the mooks don't destroy useful intelligence.
  • Plasma Cannon: Plasma bugs can discharge bolts of energy that can reach well outside the atmosphere without apparent loss of power. The second movie adds the Scorpion bug, which fires more controlled, ground-based plasma streams.
  • Too Important to Walk: The Brain Bugs, who make up a leadership caste for the Bugs, are carried around by much smaller, cockroach-like Chariot Bugs. This is probably less due to their important and more because they don't have to expend energy towards walking that could be used for storing brain matter.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Heinlein intended them to stand-in for communists.
  • Zerg Rush: The attack style of the soldier bugs. Their entire caste is designed to be mass-produced, rapid-growth, expendable, and with no free will or self-preservation, basically just making them the equivalent of robotic attack drones.


Skinnies as they appear in the animated television series
Skinnies as they appear in the tabletop role-playing game
A tall bipedal species who are allied with the Bugs, helping them fight the humans.
  • Adapted Out: The Skinnies are missing from many adaptations of Starship Troopers. They only appear in the novel, animated television series, and both board games.
  • Ascended Extra: The two board games greatly expand upon their backstory, and reveals that they originate from the planet of Ptolemy. They also have a greater role in the animated television series.
  • Curbstomp Battle: They were easily obliterated by the Mobile Infantry at the beginning of the novel.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: They were originally allies of the Bugs, but they switched allegiance to the humans after being defeated by the Mobile Infantry.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The two board games depict them as living in a technologically advanced tribal society.
  • Meaningful Name: They have their name because they are extremely skinny.

    Mobile Infantry 

Mobile Infantry
Mobile Infantry as they appear on the cover of the novel
Mobile Infantry as they appear in the board game
Mobile Infantry as they appear in the anime
Mobile Infantry as they appear in the film
Mobile Infantry as they appear in the animated television series
The elite fighting force of the human-ruled Terran Federation, famed for their exoskeleton-like Powered Armor that greatly enhances their offensive and defensive capabilities in battle.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: The 1997 film portrays the Mobile Infantry as being incredibly incompetent. However, in the original novel (and all other adaptations), they are highly disciplined and skilled soldiers.
  • Adaptational Wimp: The 1997 film adaptation removes the Powered Armor worn by the Mobile Infantry in the original novel. This explains why the Mobile Infantry in this film seems incompetent, as mentioned earlier.
  • Badass Army: Exaggerated. The Mobile Infantry is an entire army of overpowered One-Man Armies who also have the ability to function as their own air support. In the novel, Johnny states that a single Mobile Infantry private in Powered Armor could defeat a whole squadron of tanks, if anyone were stupid enough to send tanks against them. He also states the only way aircraft can possibly fight against a single Mobile Infantry man wearing powered armor is by saturation bombing his area (and he compares this to burning down a house to kill one flea).
  • Elite Army: In the novel, they are so powerful and efficient that they only need to be relatively few in number.
  • Technologically Advanced Foe: Their superior powered armor allowed them to deliver an easy Curbstomp Battle to the Skinnies in the novel. The film and other adaptations portray the Bugs as primitive and mindless creatures in contrast to their technologically sophisticated portrayal in the novel, so the Mobile Infantry is technologically superior to the Bugs in these versions as well.
  • Training from Hell: Mobile Infantry training is extremely tough, with a few dying before completion. Johnny states that out of all of the 2000 men in his training unit, only 200 made it through.
  • Trope Codifier: The Mobile Infantry popularized Space Marines and Powered Armor in the original novel, and they inspired future works of science fiction that imitate elements from Starship Troopers.
  • Walking Armory: Their Powered Armor allows them to carry all types of different weapons and ammunition, including portable miniature nuclear bombs.
  • Warrior Poet: Mobile Infantry members who wish to become officers are required to attend Officer Candidate School, where they are trained in multiple different academic subjects such as mathematics. A class called "History and Moral Philosophy" is one of the most important classes.
  • Zerg Rush: Attempted this to disastrous effect in the infamous Battle of Klendathu. Instead of employing any proper strategy or deploying proper air support, the Mobile Infantry just funneled hundreds of thousands of troopers onto the surface, thinking that would be enough. Unfortunately for them, not only are the Bugs smarter than the Federation bothered to conceive, they're also far more numerous and tough. The invasion quickly turns into a full-blown route with over a 100,000 casualties in the first hour alone.

Characters who debuted in the novel

    Johnny Rico 

Juan "Johnny" Rico

Played By: Casper Van Dien
Rico in the anime
Rico in the film
Rico in the animated television series
  • 10-Minute Retirement: In the novel, he was planning to quit until he received a letter from Colonel DuBois. In the film, he tries to quit after he is demoted (due to getting a fellow trainee killed because of his desire to win), but just as he is walking out of the base, the bugs Colony Drop his hometown and he promptly forces his way back into the Infantry.
  • The Ace: Rico is damn near good at everything he does. The guy has some serious talent as a soldier and not only that he's really smart in combat strategy as shown when he's able to beat an opposing team and take up leadership when he needs to. (This is arguably subverted, as one of his first acts as a squad leader is to tell one of his men to remove his helmet in the middle of a live-fire exercise, with predictable results, and he never displays any great knowledge of tactics or strategy, only getting promoted because everyone above him keeps dying.)
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: His hair is always perfect. Always. Even when he just took off his helmet after marching around a hot desert planet.
  • Big Eater: Johnnie, and by extension the rest of the M.I. troopers in the novel. The physical conditioning they undergo to remain in shape for drops means they need to eat many more calories than sedentary civilians. For instance, breakfast in the barracks while on leave on Sanctuary:
    (Ace and I) hit the chow line for a half dozen shell eggs and sundries such as potatoes and ham and hot cakes and so forth and then we hit dirt (off-base) to get something to eat.
  • Blood Knight: It's not that he is actively seeking battle, he's just more eager to kill the bugs than anyone.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Buenos Aires.
  • Character Development: At the start of the movie he's a dashing, lovable high school jock that is lovestruck with his girlfriend and is quite confident in his abilities, but later on he falls into a leadership position and his personality shifts into a more serious role and he starts to act more like his former lieutenant/teacher.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: It's heavily implied this is Rico's reason for enlisting.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: During his training and his service, Juan is often deprived of the presence of women, to the point that he waxes longingly whenever he sees one from that point on.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: With Carmen. Less ambiguous in the film as Carmen pointedly invites him over to her house after their graduation dance, saying her father is out of town..
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Rico and Ace, with Ace initially starting out as The Rival, but he is eventually humbled and becomes Rico's friend.
  • Generation Xerox: It's implied that his father wanted this of him. Inverted in the book where the father survives, enlists and gets transferred to his son's ship.
  • Heroic BSoD: In the novel, Rico ends up seriously depressed and almost resigns while in boot camp. The triggering event isn't the nonstop hazing or the difficulty of the tasks set to them, but rather realizing that those setting the tasks are mere mortals after all, and that everything he thinks he knows about the military is all wrong. Goes through another one when he learns his parents are dead. It is revealed that his father survived and they later reunite.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gets an arachnid pincer in the leg in the botched Klendathu invasion in the movie; it's indicated he was killed by the cut to black and the fort database identifying him as KIA, but it's later revealed he survived and has been assigned to an off-the-books platoon.
  • The Leader: Type IV(Charismatic) and adds dashes of type II(Levelheaded) later on. The moment he arrives at camp, all the other recruits—except Ace—look to Rico as their leader. He is appointed as the first team leader, and even after he gets Breckinridge killed, Zim arranges for him to get publicly whipped rather than expelled because he sees Rico’s leadership potential. On Klendathu, when Ace freezes as team leader, Rico immediately takes over and is consistently promoted from then on out.
  • Only Mostly Dead: He gets better.
  • Overranked Soldier: He rockets up the ranks because his superior officers keep dying. "Fresh meat for the grinder" indeed.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: He's supposed to be Argentinian in the film, but all of the actors who have played him so far just use their normal (American) accents while playing him.
  • Race Lift: Johnny's actual name is Juan and he's Filipino in the book, with Johnnie as his nickname, but in the movie, cartoon and CGI movies he's a Caucasian Argentinian. (though none of the actors who played him even bother to make him sound remotely Argentinian.)
  • Rank Up: To absurd extremes after joining the Roughnecks. He's quickly given the rank of Corporal and, very soon afterwards, Acting Sergeant during his first mission with the unit. Almost immediately after the mission, he is given command of the Roughnecks due to Rasczak's death prior to extraction along with a promotion to Lieutenant. Later films have him as a Colonel and Invasion has him as a general.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He is the stubborn and headstrong red Oni to Carmen and Carl's tactical and more intelligent blue Oni. When it comes to Dizzy and Ace he is more stoic and serious as the other two are energetic and more lively.
  • Real Men Don't Cry: Averted. When Johnny reunites with his father in the book. The two cry tears of joy, hug and kiss.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: In the book, Johnnie is especially proud of a pair of earrings that he wore on dates and inherited from his mother's grandfather. Earrings for men isn't limited to civilians; part of the uniform for his first regiment is a small gold skull earring with a string of bones under, one for each drop. He eventually ditches the jewelry after he's assigned to the Roughnecks and sees that the platoon simply doesn't care about if a trooper has prior experience but whether or not he's made a drop with them.
  • Revenge: When his home is destroyed along with his parents he immediately cancels his resignation from the Mobile Infantry to avenge their deaths but is less successful after he almost dies. But then after the death of his friend/lover Dizzy and his once favorite teacher Rasczak he becomes more serious and wants no more than to kill the bugs and is more successful in this attempt.
  • A Taste of the Lash:
    • In the book, he's court-martialed and whipped after making a careless error during training that could have resulted in friendly casualties in combat. The fact that he's whipped and allowed to return to training actually means that the instructors think that he's worth the effort to teach and want to keep him around.
    • Gets this in the film when he orders another trainee to take off his helmet while live bullets are flying around him. That trainee gets one of those bullets and it blows half of his face off.
  • Tragic Bigot: Against the Bugs in the film.
    Rico: I'm from Buenos Aires and I say kill 'em all!
  • Two First Names: Rico is a common given name in countries preciously colonized by Spain.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When Rico gets angry he will go on a warpath until he slaughters any bug in his way.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Over the course of the film, he goes from a young man on the fence about the morals of his society to a hardened soldier who vehemently supports genocide against the Arachnids.
  • Working with the Ex: Rico and Carmen.
  • You Are in Command Now: After Rasczak dies, he ends up as the officer in command of the Roughnecks.
  • You Killed My Father: Johnny's mother is killed when Buenos Aires is destroyed. His father survives in the book but dies with the mother in the film.

    Carmen Ibanez 

Carmencita "Carmen" Ibanez

Played By: Denise Richards
Ibanez in the anime
Ibanez in the film
Ibanez in the animated television series
  • Ace Pilot: Carmen, overlapping with Drives Like Crazy.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Carmen and Zander in the film just before the asteroid appears.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: She sustains a massive explosion to the face when the bridge takes a hit over Klendathu. While Rico is recovering in the bacta tank, Carmen has a tiny cut through her eyebrow which actually serves to enhance her looks.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Flies this way. She doesn't suffer any serious repercussions for her recklessness and it's even treated as a positive trait. She takes chances, but she's also a damn good pilot who is able to take such risks because she can pull them off (barring the part early on where she knocks the ship's entire communication tower off on an asteroid, but since the asteroid was spun as an alien attack she was probably commended for that). Kind of like Maverick.
  • Dull Surprise: Carmen pulls a few of these throughout the film.
    Carmen: (spoken in a dull, emotionless monotone, while surrounded by literally hundreds of wounded MI) It's strange, there's so few wounded.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gets a pincer through her shoulder in the climax; unlike Flores, she survives despite losing a lot of blood and is rescued.
  • Important Haircut: In the novel, she shaves off all her hair because it will only be in the way during zero-G maneuvers, thus marking her transition from civilian to military. Rico is startled to see this at first, but quickly decides that it suits her.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: It's implied that she had to have them to land her shuttle in the middle of a besieged Mobile Infantry outpost during a fierce battle. Of course, she had already been established as the Ace Pilot.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: She gets impaled in the shoulder with a giant bug pincer. But aside from some minor discomfort and pain, a wound that should have killed her quickly through heavy blood loss or hydrostatic shock is ignored, even retaining full use of the arm and walk around like she barely received a scratch. She's even seen firing an assault rifle with (more or less) proper grip. Though at least she didn't have it braced on her "wounded" shoulder.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Like Casper Van Dien and the rest of cast (with the exception of Neil Patrick Harris's character, who is American), Denise Richards uses her American accent while playing the Argentinian Carmen.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: She gets impaled through the shoulder by a bug talon the diameter of a soda can, picked up and thrown around by it, and yet minutes later is firing a high caliber machinegun, outruns a nuke, and then throws her arms around her friends and skips away smiling. What brave new world is this, that has such painkillers in it?
  • Promoted to Love Interest: To Johnny in the film. In the book, Carmen and Johnny have a mild interest in each other in high school, and later go on one date and share a kiss when they chance to meet up in training, but never exactly have a romance.
  • Race Lift: Possibly. While Carmen is clearly Argentinian, it's never specified if she is a white Argentinian or a mestizo Argentinian. Given the majority of people living in Argentinia are either white or mestizo, Carmen could be either. Denise Richards is neither of those things.
  • Sex for Solace: In a deleted scene, Carmen sleeps with Zander for the first time right after she learns (wrongly) that Johnny is killed in battle.
  • Stress Vomit: When dissecting an arachnid worker bug in class, she ends up throwing up. (Probably at least part of the reason she joined up with the fleet instead of the Mobile Infantry is that she can't stand blood or violence.)

    Dizzy Flores 

Dizzy Flores
Played By: Dina Meyer
  • Adapted Out: Doesn't appear in the anime.
  • Action Girl: In the film, that is. Dizzy is a man in the novel.
  • Ascended Extra: In the book, Dizzy was a male and he essentially served a Sacrificial Lamb for the first scene. In the film Dizzy's gender is changed to female, becomes a love interest for Johnnie, and has a much more important role in the film.
  • Communications Officer: She gets handed the role at Whiskey Outpost, for no obvious reason other than The Main Characters Do Everything. She is also seen carrying communications equipment during the Battle of Klendathu, where she informs Rico of the general retreat.
  • Fiery Redhead: In the film.
  • First Girl Wins: In a manner of speaking. She and Johnnie were childhood friends; she was in love with him, but he became romantically interested in Carmen, dating and losing his virginity to her. After Carmen dumps him, Johnny eventually decides to pursue a relationship with Dizzy, and they get together after a tough battle. She later dies, though.
  • Gender Flip: Dizzy is male in the book and not a love interest for Juan, while Dizzy is portrayed as a female in the film.
  • Hesitant Sacrifice: Dizzy, in her final words, screams for Johnny to not let her go.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gets four pincer stabs by a stray arachnid on Planet P after blowing up a Tanker, and she dies from the blood loss.
  • The Lad-ette: The toughest female character in the movie. She can beat most men in armed combat and arm wrestling, loves playing rough sports and enjoys drinking with her male friends.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Like the rest of the cast, Dina Meyer uses her American accent while playing a Argentinian character.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: She's on Johnny's football team in high school, and yells at him when he's not focused.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: To Johnny in the film as part of a Love Triangle with Carmen.
  • Race Lift: Like Carmen, She's Argentinian but her exact race wasn't disclosed in the novel, but she could be either a white Argentinian or a mestizo Argentinian. In the film, she's played by the white Jewish American Dina Meyer.
  • The Squadette: There are a couple of others, but she's the one who lasts the longest.

    Carl Jenkins 

Carl Jenkins
Carl in the anime
Carl in the film
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, he basically seems to be a decent person and dies a noble death. In the film, he's particularly bigoted and performs cruel experiments, and he even gets some Nazi imagery.
  • Ascended Extra: He had a small role in the original novel as Johnny's best friend, but he plays a much bigger role in the anime and film adaptations.
  • Pet the Dog: In the movie, he becomes increasingly corrupt over the course of the war, but he has enough decency remaining to disobey his orders to rescue Rico and Carmen.
  • Psychic Powers: Has telepathy in the film.
  • Putting on the Reich: Just check out his uniform. The cap and black longcoat haven't been seen on an officer since 1945.
  • Rank Up: He ascends the military chain even faster than Rico, starting in military intelligence and ending up as the head of the Ministry of Paranormal Warfare. He is a colonel before Rico's even a lieutenant.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: He gets an anticlimactic off-screen death in the book when the research base he's stationed on is destroyed. In the film, he survives.

    Charles Zim 

Sergeant Charles Zim
Zim in the anime
Zim in the film
Zim in the CGI series
Played By: Clancy Brown
  • Author Filibuster: His views on war are likely a reflection of Robert A. Heinlein's own views.
  • Badass Teacher: Played Straight in the novel and anime, Exaggerated in the film.
  • Blade Enthusiast: He seems to like his knives in the movie and anime, but the book makes it explicit.
    Rico: [Zim] was sudden death with anything but he loved knives, and made and balanced his own.
  • Composite Character: In the anime, his role is expanded to replace Lieutenant Rasczak.
  • Cultured Warrior: He is more intellectually minded in the novel and anime, while the film Averts this and portrays him as a dumb brute.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: He establishes his dominance by challenging all trainees who dare think they can kick his ass, and he then proceeds to beat them up in a massive fight.
  • Authority Grants Asskicking: He can easily beat up his trainees.
  • Back in the Saddle: He's so eager to get back on the front lines that he deliberately gets himself demoted to private to do so.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: To the point of exaggeration. His routine is so over the top that Kitten can't help laughing at him. Zim casually breaks recruits' arms and throws knives into their hands as part of their training.
  • Impaled Palm: Used to great, if heavy-handed, effect against Ace in the film.
    Zim: The enemy can not push a button... if you disable his hand. Medic!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gives Johnny a bit before he is scourged.
  • Large Ham: As the main page says, Clancy Brown would have had to look down to see where "over the top" stood.
  • Race Lift: The anime version portrays him as a black man, while the 1997 film portrays him as a white man. The original novel doesn't specifically mention his ethnic origins, but it states that he is not a native English speaker.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: He's the one who captures the brain bug alive.
  • Scary Black Man: His anime counterpart. Justified in that he's a drill sergeant.
  • Sergeant Rock: When he becomes a sergeant and starts leading assaults.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: His seemingly pointless knife-throwing exercise is Discussed to great philosophical detail in the novel and anime. While debating a trainee who argues they should be training with more dangerous weapons, Zim explains that he is training men to effectively use any weapon in any situation, and he argues "there are no such thing as dangerous weapons, only dangerous men". He also argues that more powerful weapons such as hydrogen bombs aren't appropriate for every situation. In the film, this discussion is omitted and he merely throws a knife at the trainee's hand.

    Lieutenant Rasczak 

Lieutenant Rasczak
Played By: Michael Ironside
  • Adapted Out: His role is replaced by Charles Zim in the anime.
  • Artificial Limbs: His mechanical left hand.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: His entire History & Moral Philosophy lecture about why only veterans have the right to vote.
  • Back in the Saddle: He returns to duty as lieutenant in the Mobile Infantry.
  • Badass Teacher: Even before Rasczak shows up as the leader of the Roughnecks, it's already clear the man has been through some stuff.
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: He has a reputation for being a "real nutbuster" among troops outside his unit, but Razscak's Roughnecks are fiercely loyal to their commander. He comes across as stern and demanding, not hesitant to shoot one of his own troopers to save the poor ape from being eaten alive by a nest of bugs, and says he'd expect anyone in his unit to do the same for him. But then we see that he understands the importance of soldier morale by ordering his troops have a party while they're in a safe zone, and even allowing Rico and Dizzy to finish up their "R&R" in the tent. He even shares a sincere moment with Rico during the party, telling him not to let his chance with Diz pass him by.
  • Composite Character: The film version is a combination of both the book's Rasczak and Rico's teacher Colonel DuBois.
  • Father to His Men: Rasczak is adored by the Roughnecks, having saved most of their lives. When Ace says he heard Rasczak was a "nut buster," Birdie punches him in the face for what she views as disrespect.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: A big bug chews off his legs and virtually left him for dead. Rico is forced to shoot him.
  • Hand Signals: He uses them while approaching the outpost on Planet P.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: He informs all of his new recruits "I've only got one rule: everybody fights, no one quits. You don't do your job, I'll shoot you myself." Later, during a battle he is being consumed from the waist down in a pit he's been sucked into. He tosses his rifle to Rico and screams for him to "Do it!" which prompts Rico to empty the magazine into Rasczak. Not that bad as a rule, considering the alternative to being shot in the head by the teammate is getting slowly devoured and/or brain-sucked by aliens...
  • In the Back: Killed this way while rescuing two of his men.
  • Mercy Kill: His policy when soldiers get captured by bugs and can't be saved is to simply kill them quick and spare them an agonizing death, even telling his soldiers that he expects them to do the same for him if necessary. He's no hypocrite either. When he is captured in the same way, he orders Rico to kill him quick which Rico does.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: In the book; his soldiers either died or returned. Only one under him went MIA.
  • Pre-War Civilian Career: Rico tells one of his comrades that he knew Rasczak from before the war when he was his teacher.

    Yvette Deladier 

Captain Yvette Deladier
Played By: Brenda Strong
  • Undignified Death: Seriously... in a movie that depicts a War Is Glorious society, imagine training for years and making it to become the captain of a major star cruiser of the Federation, and instead of at least dying while bravely squaring off against a Warrior Bug or some sort of Heroic Sacrifice or going down with your ship... you get fucking death from door.

    Jean Du Bois 

Lieutenant Colonel Jean DuBois

  • Adapted Out: He doesn't appear in the anime, and he is combined with Lieutenant Rasczak in the film.
  • Author Avatar: The character who speaks most directly for Robert Heinlein's personal politics and philosophies.
  • Colonel Badass: As it turns out, he was one of these in his military days, to the point where Zim is shown to be impressed by the fact that Johnnie had him as a teacher.
  • Might Makes Right: The entire point of DuBois' Federal History class. He argues that voting is exercising authority, and authority is violence, the supreme directive from which all other authority is derived. When a student protests that violence doesn't always solve everything, he points to how violence was successfully used against Carthage, and that it has "solved" more problems in history than any other factor.
    DuBois:"Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and thoroughly immoral — doctrine that 'violence never settles anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoléon Bonaparte and of The Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee..."
  • So Proud of You: He writes a letter to Johnnie telling him that he was delighted and proud to learn that Johnnie had chosen to enlist in the Mobile Infantry.

    Kitten Smith 

Kitten Smith
Kitten in the anime
Kitten in the film
Played By: Matt Levin
  • Mauve Shirt: He is one of Rico's fellow trainees. Of everyone who dies onscreen at Klendathu, he survives the longest.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: He gets ripped in half and his upper torso thrown at Rico in the film.

Played By: Anthony Ruivivar
  • Adapted Out: He doesn't appear in the anime.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: In the novel, he was able to defeat Sergeant Zim in hand to hand combat.
  • Blood Knight: He's the most restless during the drop on Klendathu, ready to begin fighting.
  • Devoured by the Horde: He is swarmed and torn apart by a horde of bugs.
  • Foreshadowing: In the film, he mentions that he was accepted into Harvard and joined the Mobile Infantry because otherwise it would "cost an arm and a leg." He loses his leg to the bugs on Klendathu, shortly before getting entirely ripped apart.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: He charges straight into a horde of bugs firing at them. They promptly tear him apart.


Played By: Eric Broskotter
  • Dumb Muscle: He's the largest of the recruits, but not quite smart. The others call him "big and dumb."
  • Farm Boy: He grew up on one of the Federation's agricultural planets. He didn't like farming and says the Mobile Infantry is "pure picnic" by comparison.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: On the receiving end of this. He reports problems with his helmet during a live-fire exercise. He is then shot by Djana'D while Rico is trying to fix it.

    Ted Hendrick 

Ted Hendrick

  • Adapted Out: He doesn't appear in the film.
  • Composite Character: In the anime version, he is a combination of various different trainees that appeared in the novel version.

Characters who debuted in the film

    Ace Levy 

Private Ace Levy
Played By: Jake Busey (1997 film)
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When everyone's going over why they picked Mobile Infantry, Ace says he wants to go career and become an officer. After Rico is demoted following the training accident, he's assigned squad leader. But during the Klendathu invasion, their lieutenant is killed within seconds and Ace freezes up, forcing Rico to take over again.
  • Best Friend: He decides he's going to be Rico's best friend after he stands up to Ace cutting in line.
  • Butt-Monkey: He goes through a lot of this, especially during boot camp.
  • Clint Squint: He has a characteristic squint. It's especially noticeable once he becomes Rico's Number Two.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Smart-mouthed and a wise-cracker.
  • Declining Promotion: Ace turns down a promotion to corporal after he froze at Klendathu. Now he’s just here to fight. Even in the ending propaganda video, he's still a Private, when he could potentially have been promoted given how Mobile Infantrymen tend to advance.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Rico.
  • Hidden Depths: He's a talented violin player.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: In the novel, Ace says this to Johnnie after he beats Johnnie in a fight. They shake hands afterwards and Ace accepts his authority.
  • Impaled Palm: On the receiving end of this from Zim in the film when he asks a question about why knives are necessary.


Lieutenant Willy
Played By: Steven Ford
Rico's first CO in the movie, who leads their platoon in the assault on Klendathu.
  • False Reassurance: "Remember your training, and you will make it back alive!" Considering what we've seen of MI training in the movie, that's hardly a reassuring statement. Sure enough, the troopers fold almost immediately and disintegrate into a panicked mob.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: He dies almost immediately after setting foot on Klendathu.

    Katrina Mc Intire 

Played By: Blake Lindsey
One of Rico's bootcamp squadmates.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Enlisted so she would have an easier time to get a pregnancy license.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Implied by the Warrior Bug dragging her into a bug tunnel instead of killing her, likely getting her brains sucked out by the Brain Bugs on Klendathu.
  • Death by Pragmatism: Runs away while everyone is shooting, leading her to fall into a bug tunnel and taken by a Warrior Bug.


Played By: Tami-Adrian George
  • Dramatic Irony: Getting kicked out of basic training saved her from being massacred during the initial invasion of Klendathu.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: She accidentally kills Breckinridge.
  • It's All My Fault: She quits after accidentally shooting Breckinridge, meaning she can never become a Citizen.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: She signs up for Mobile Infantry because she wants to go into politics.

    Sugar Watkins 

Sugar Watkins
Played By: Seth Gilliam
  • Black Dude Dies First: Inverted. He’s the final human to die in the film, and he goes out taking a horde of bugs with him.
  • Defiant to the End: Watkins dies while emptying his weapon into an oncoming horde of bugs, all while taunting them with his final breaths.
  • Friendly Sniper: Carries a Morita Hawkeye, the designated marksman variant of the standard Morita rifle, and is quite chummy with Rico and his friends after they prove themselves during the raid on Tango Urilla.
  • Taking You with Me: After being fatally wounded, he remains behind in the bugs’ tunnels to detonate a bomb and kill them all.


General Owen
Played By: Marshall Bell
  • Death Seeker: He drops to his knees and pleads to be killed.
  • Deer in the Headlights: He's too traumatized and hysterical to have a focused survival instinct, ending up helplessly screaming at the fallen Hopper Bug hurling right at him instead of moving out.
  • Dies Different In Adaptation: In the Comic-Book Adaptation of the film, he gets decapitated by a Hopper Bug.
  • Dirty Coward: The Roughnecks clearly view him this way.
  • Doomed Defeatist: He doesn't contribute much to the story other than being scared shitless and crying about how they're all going to die before biting the dust.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: He is clearly traumatized from watching an entire base get wiped out by Bugs, and implicitly realizing the war effort is screwed. Tellingly, the rest of the cast dismiss him as a Dirty Coward for having hidden from the Bugs rather than die horribly in a stupid attempt to fight them.
  • Undignified Death: He gets crushed by a falling Hopper Bug that Rico shot down. Ace can't help but sneer about it.

    Zander Barcalow 

Zander Barcalow
Played By: Patrick Muldoon
  • Betty and Veronica: He is the Veronica to Rico's Betty.
  • Canon Foreigner: He doesn't exist in the novel, having been added purely for Love Triangle purposes.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Before meeting his end by the Brain Bug's proboscides: "One day, someone like me is gonna kill you and your whole fucking race!"
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Seeing this trope a lot? Twice at the end of the movie. First gets a pincer in the leg that immobilizes him, and then gets the suction claw of the Brain Bug in his head and gets his brains sucked out.
  • Jerkass: He openly hits on Carmen in front of her boyfriend, picks a fight with Rico solely to show off in front of her, and generally spends most of the movie being an unlikable dick.
  • Pet the Dog: When he sees that Rico's alive, he doesn't hesitate to tell Carmen in spite of his past rivalry with Johnny.
  • Spiteful Spit: Just before the Brain Bug kills him, he defiantly spits at it.