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Carmencita "Carmen" Ibanez
- 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's 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: Denise Richards pulls a few of these throughout.
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 through 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 either 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.)
- Action Girl
- Ascended Extra: In the book, her equivalent was a Sacrificial Lamb for the first scene. She 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.
- Death by Sex: After spending over half of the movie pining following Rico's breakup with Carmen, the day after Dizzy and Rico have sex, she dies.
- 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 in the film is female. See Unlucky Childhood Friend below.
- 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.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: For Johnny in the film at first. Averted after Carmen breaks up with him, Johnny and Dizzy briefly hook up and stay together until she dies.
- Psychic Powers: Telepathy to be precise.
- 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.
- 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.
Private Ace Levy
- 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.
- 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.
- Communications Officer
- Deadpan Snarker: Smart-mouthed and a wise-cracker.
- Declining Promotion: Ace turns down a promotion to corporal after he froze at Klendathu. Now hes just here to fight.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Rico.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: In the novel, Ace says this to Johnnie after he beats Johnnie in a fight. Afterwards they shake hands 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.
Sergeant Charles Zim
- 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.
- Knife Nut: He seems to like his knives in the movie, but the book makes it explicit.
Rico: [Zim] was sudden death with anything but he loved knives, and made and balanced his own.
- Large Ham: As the main page says, Clancy Brown would have had to look down to see where "over the top" stood.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: He's the one who captures the brain bug alive.
- Sergeant Rock: When he becomes a sergeant and starts leading assaults.
- Artificial Limbs: His mechanical left hand.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: 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 MI.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Played By: Patrick Muldoon
- Betty and Veronica: He's the Veronica to Rico's Betty.
- Canon Foreigner: He doesn't exist in the novel, having been added purely for Love Triangle purposes.
- Famous Last Words: "One day, someone like me is gonna kill you and your whole fuckin' 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.
Captain Yvette Deladier
Played By: Brenda Strong
Played By: Marshall Bell
- Dirty Coward: The Roughnecks clearly view him this way.
- 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.
- Bald of Awesome: Hes completely bald, and kills the most bugs out of the entire cast.
- Black Dude Dies First: Inverted. Hes the final human to die in the film, and he goes out taking a horde of bugs with him.
- Taking You with Me: After being fatally wounded, he remains behind in the bugs tunnels to detonate a bomb and kill them all.
Jean Du Bois
Lieutenant Colonel Jean DuBois
- 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 thr fact that Johnnie had him as a teacher.
- Composite Character: Combined with Lieutenant Rasczak in the film.
- 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.
"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
- 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 join the Mobile Infantry.
Played By: Matt Levin
- Mauve Shirt: He's one of Rico's fellow trainees. Of everyone who dies onscreen at Klendathu, he survives the longest.
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's then shot by Djana'D while Rico is trying to fix it.
Played By: Tami-Adrian George
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.
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 a highly corrosive acid from their mouths that melts enemies within seconds.
- Alien Invasion: 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.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Although it's deliberately left unclear whether the Bugs started the war or if the humans did, they are absolutely merciless in battle and kill the humans without restraint.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fountain of Expies: The Arachnids from the book became the major inspiration for every swarm of man-eating Insectoid Aliens that infest the Science Fiction and Space Opera genres. From the Xenomorphs from Alien, to the Tyranids from Warhammer 40,000, to the Zerg from StarCraft, to the Brood and the Annihilation Wave from Marvel Comics.
- 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 a super-intelligent Brain Bug 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.
- 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.