Follow TV Tropes


Franchise / StarCraft

Go To

"This is not Warcraft in space! I-it's much more sophisticated!"

A Real-Time Strategy video-game series by Blizzard Entertainment. It's composed of the games...

...and several tie-in works including:


  • StarCraft (2009-2010)
  • StarCraft: Frontline (2008-2009)
  • StarCraft: Ghost Academy (2010-2011)
  • Kerrigan - Hope and Vengeance (2013)
  • Artanis: Sacrifice (2015)
  • Nova - The Keep (2016)
  • Shadow Wars (2017)
  • Nature of the Beast (2022)


  • Uprising (2000)
  • Liberty's Crusade (2001)
  • Shadow of the Xel'Naga (2001)
  • Speed of Darkness (2002)
  • Queen of Blades (2006)
  • Ghost: Nova (2006)
  • The Dark Templar Saga
    • Firstborn (2007)
    • Shadow Hunters (2007)
    • Twilight (2009)
  • I, Mengsk (2008)
  • Heaven's Devils (2010)
  • Devils' Due (2011)
  • Ghost: Spectres (2011)
  • Flashpoint (2012)
  • War Stories (2014)
  • StarCraft Field Manual (2015)
  • StarCraft: Evolution (2016)
and then there are the short stories published in Amazing Stories and online:

Tabletop Games

  • Alternity Adventure Game: StarCraft Edition (2000)
  • StarCraft: The Board Game (2007)
  • Risk: StarCraft (2012)

Video Games

Set in the "Koprulu Sector" of space, tens of thousands of light years distant from Earth, the story unfolds between three playable races. The Terrans, human beings descended from outcasts, criminals and political dissidents who were exiled from the Sol system centuries earlier, boast a Used Future society with a military based around cybernetics, heavy artillery, and "Ghosts" — covert operatives with latent psychic abilities. While fighting each other, the Terran planets get invaded by the Zerg, an insectoid Horde of Alien Locusts with the ability to "infest" creatures of other species and assimilate their genetic properties for their own benefit. The majority of the Zerg are drones lacking free will, controlled by Hive Minds called Cerebrates which in turn are controlled by an entity called the Overmind, which sees its sole raison d'etre as the assimilation of all life into the zerg swarm. Soon after, another race enters the conflict — the Protoss, a race of highly fanatical warrior philosophers that are determined to stop the Zerg at all costs — including burning down entire Terran colonies that provide a lot of cannon fodder for the Zerg through infestation. The Protoss use advanced psionic capabilities are as important on the battlefield as their advanced weaponry or robots.

StarCraft was one of the first games to become popularly used in professional gaming competitions, particularly in South Korea, where StarCraft matches are played out in sports arenas (occasionally jumbo jet hangars), with giant televisions displaying the action and simulcast on nationwide networks! And let's not even talk about the two cable-television channels devoted to it. Yes, two.

As of March 27th, 2017, Blizzard has announced that they're remastering the original StarCraft and Brood War in 4K UHD and with fully-rerecorded high-definition audio. It was released in August 2017. In the meantime, over the coming weeks the original game was also released as free-to-play, as basically the Remastered engine with locked out HD graphics, in the guise of a major modernization patch 1.18, which brought about major improvements to the game. This version of the game officially became free-to-play on April 18th, 2017. The game can be launched offline and single-player campaigns are fully playable without an Internet connection, but the game has been upgraded to use the latest version of the Battle.Net Agent anti-cheat system to ensure fair multiplayer games online.

Tropes found across the series include:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes A to C 
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In penultimate mission of Terran campaign in original game, after Zerg were lured to Confederate capital world of Tarsonis via usage of psi emitters (courtesy of Sons of Korhal), the Protoss intervene and attack them. Fearing that this will drive the Zerg away from Confederates, Mengsk sends Kerrigan with a strike force against the Protoss vanguard. Fittingly, the battle takes place on orbital platform, where Kerrigan can intercept the Protoss before they can even reach the Zerg on Tarsonis. For reasons unknown (if there ever were any), this rather crucial detail was changed in StarCraft: Liberty's Crusade official novelization, which made Kerrigan and her forces fight the Protoss on the planet's surface... even though it makes zero sense, since the very nature of her task was to prevent the Protoss from even getting there. If they're on the surface of Tarsonis already, they are free to engage the Zerg wherever they want, and a single skirmish with Kerrigan does not change anything. What makes it more jarring is that this change was made canon and even in one of cinematics in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty we see Kerrigan fighting the Zerg on planet's surface... despite the fact that it would make her mission utterly, completely pointless.
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • The Protoss are telepaths, presumably the listener hears in whatever language they know. Note, however, that they do have an official language named Khalani, that can be both written and telepathically "vocalized".
    • The Zerg, being a hive-mind, have no need for language. Only the rare sentient Infested Terrans have been known to occasionally communicate with other species. The Primal Zerg in Heart of the Swarm have no problem communicating with their distant cousins (despite lacking a hive mind), but are never shown communicating with Terrans, so it's not quite clear what is happening there.
      • Justified in the "Queen Of Blades" novel. Jim Raynor can hear the Zerg speaking English because he's still mentally linked to Kerrigan, and Kerrigan hears them speaking English because that's the easiest way for her still mostly human mind to process Zerg telepathy.
  • All There in the Manual: A widespread problem with the series is that a lot of background information is only given in written materials like manuals, websites, novels, and comic books, of which there are dozens. This can make it difficult to properly contextualize what is happening in the games.
    • Perhaps the most pertinent instance of this is the romance between Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan. Raynor and Kerrigan don't get a lot of one-on-one interactions in the Terran campaign of the first game, and what interactions they did have implied friendship at the most. The expanded universe gives more time to build up their romance, establishing they were a Battle Couple during their time in the Sons of Korhal and fought together on missions for several months.
    • Many of the factions throughout the series only have their histories explained in the expanded universe. Even in the original StarCraft, the game clearly expects you to have actually read the manual so you understand what the Terran Confederacy is. This particularly problematic in the Protoss campaign, where Jurisdiction Friction and Religious Fundamentalism are significant motivators for characters, but you're not given any history on the race and its societal structure to understand why, leaving players to just infer what terms like "the Khala" and "the Dark Templar" mean.
    • With the sequel, many characters made their debut in the expanded universe before appearing in the games. If you want to know who Valerian Mengsk and Selendis are, better pick up StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga and I, Mengsk. The Ghost graphics novels will fill you in on Nova and Gabriel Tosh.
      • For that matter, the story between Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm is covered in the novel Flashpoint. Without reading that, you'll have no idea why the heroes are hiding out on Umoja experimenting on Kerrigan and will be wondering what happened to Valerian's army that he's entirely alone now. Heart of the Swarm has Emil Narud as an antagonist in a mission chain, and no one is surprised by his apparent Face–Heel Turn, because it happened in Flashpoint.
    • If you don't read the short story Ascension before playing Legacy of the Void, you'll be left wondering how Alarak found out Amon's true intentions about the future of the Tal'darim.
    • This was intended but averted for StarCraft II with StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga. The developers were open in saying that the novels would introduce plot elements that would be worked into the games. However, as the story of the video games kept shifting in subtle ways, this ended up not being the case — most of the things the novels touched on that are important to the games are either explained again in-game anyway, or are redefined to the point that anything you thought you knew about them from the novels can be disregarded.note 
    • It is actually inverted in a few cases — for instance, in the original Zerg and Protoss campaigns, there is nothing that hinted at the fact Raynor, Tassadar and Zeratul had forged an alliance on Char, until it is shown when Aldaris plans to arrest Tassadar. While Tassadar does explain in the second mission that he learned how to kill a Cerebrate from meeting with Zeratul, Raynor's presence is not explained (There was a hint about this on a Dummied Out mission, where Tassadar helps the Sons of Korhal destroy a Zerg base on Antiga Prime to let them escape before the Protoss purify the planet). Until StarCraft: Queen of Blades was released, Raynor's presence looked more like an Ass Pull than anything else.
    • There's also the Dominion Marine Corps Field Manual, which is this trope twice over. It's an update of the backstory parts of the first game's manual from an out-of-universe perspective. It's also effectively the in-universe manual for the titular marines, serving as an intelligence briefing on the factions.
  • American Accents:
  • Anyone Can Die: Several major characters bite the dust over the series.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • Protoss do Class 6 type to get rid of the zerg. The planet is covered with plasma and magma when they're done. Nothing gonna be living in that mess. Somehow, the Zerg still do.
      • The amount of damage is somewhat inconsistent in the sources. At least one comic shows Raynor visiting the quite recognizable ruins of his old house.
    • Terrans also demonstrated a capacity to do this, by launching numerous nukes from orbit and reducing the surface of the planet to a black glassy substance. This led to the outlawing the manufacturing of full-size nukes to prevent such an event occurring again, leading to the multiplayer usage of "mini-nukes" that inflict underwhelming damage at relatively cheap cost.
  • Armor Is Useless: Downplayed. Terran marines wear a high tech suit of armor in combat to protect them from small arms fire and radiological hazards and it is at least necessary to be worn to handle their gauss rifles, but in-game they still get pretty much shredded by anything bigger than them as well as other marines. As the second weakest unit in the entire game, marines' best bet for survival is sticking together in large numbers. This appears to be entirely canon for all intents and purposes since it matches marine armor's protectiveness in cutscenes as well as background text (as such Brood War's manual mentioning the Medics' Heal ability lengthening marines' expected lifespan on the over nine seconds).
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: About fifty percent of the Terran armed forces are criminals who have undergone biochemical resocialization (read: brainwashing). These criminals range from the usual suspects (murderers, thieves, rapists, etc.) to the occasional political prisoner.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • The Protoss believe that they ascend into the Khala when they die, which treated like some kind of a gestalt consciousness uniting the entire Protoss race. They believe that particularly powerful or influential individuals linger on long afterwards.
    • The Xel'Naga are "born" from the fusion of two races, one pure of essence, and one pure of form, which are then granted the essence of the Xel'Naga that created them. Therefore, every Xel'Naga is an ascended person from a race they once created. This happens to Kerrigan at the conclusion of StarCraft II.
  • As You Know:
    • During the Terran 7 mission briefing, Kerrigan explains the origin of Terran Ghosts to Raynor and Mengsk, even though both characters have had quite a bit of experience with them already (Raynor losing a son to the Ghost program, and Mengsk having Kerrigan, a Ghost herself, as his second-in-command and the one who killed his father).
    • Alexei also gives a brief history of the war between the Confederacy and Korhal in Brood War's Terran mission 4, which he himself said that the Captain may have already known from his research.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: It happens quite often in the StarCraft universe, mainly because they represent the vast majority of characters and because "the bad guy" is usually playable in that race's campaign, so the bad guy wins because the player wins.
  • Bag of Spilling: Almost universally, any army you built up in the previous mission is taken from you and you start the next mission from scratch, even if it's on the same planet as the last mission. Justified since obviously you could build up a massive army at the start of the campaign and let it carry you, but it can still be a nuisance. For a painful example, in Episode V, the UED hijacks eighteen Battlecruisers from the Dominion. Don't count on seeing them again no matter how much you'll wish you had a third that number. There is a single partial aversion in Episode VI. One mission has you gathering 10,000 minerals and infesting Command Centers, with the story justification it's needed for the next mission. In said mission, you keep the minerals and Command Centers, though you're on a new planet so your base is back to square one.
  • Base on Wheels: One of the major Terran advantages. Their command base and primary production facilities are all capable of being lifted up off the ground and moved to other locations, either if there's an imminent enemy attack or if they just need to move to an area with better resources. Technically they don't roll on the ground as per standard for this trope, but they're not able to be used as bases until they touch down, and their movement speed is pretty slow.
  • Betrayal by Inaction:
    • Part of Mengsk's Uriah Gambit, when he sends Kerrigan to keep a Protoss force from destroying a hive of Zerg, which he wishes to use for his own purpose. Once the Protoss are destroyed, he immediately orders all ships to retreat, leaving Kerrigan on the ground with the Zerg and not responding to her requests for evac. It didn't turn out too well for him in the long run.
    • The intro cinematic for Brood War has a huge battlecruiser sitting there without participating in the battle against the Zerg, finally leaving under the Death Glare of the Marine who's about to be overrun.
    • One level ends where Stukov and Duran are guarding your flanks as you try to capture Raynor and Mengsk. At the end of the level, the capture is interrupted by a massive Zerg swarm. Stukov tells Duran to move his troops in there immediately, but Duran claims he's not seeing anything, even suggesting Stukov's sensors are off, ending the call with the usual static and "you're breaking up" as Raynor and Mengsk escape. Stukov isn't fooled for a second, realizing Duran was a Zerg traitor all along.
  • Big Bad: At first it seems to be the Overmind, then Kerrigan. It's not. It's actually The Dark Voice aka Amon, a vengeful Xel'Naga who tried to destroy and recreate all life in the universe in a fit of pride and jealousy and was put down by the other Xel'Naga for it. Emperor Arcturus Mengsk is this for most the franchise.
  • Big Good: Zeratul and Jim Raynor. Tassadar too, before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • Protoss and Zerg can survive in hard vacuum unprotected, apparently.
    • Protoss are photosynthetic, and their skin color changes based on their mood. No mouths, noses, or visible ears and three hearts.
    • Zerg organ tissues randomly mutate (and, in certain cases, steal new DNA from a new prey creature), and their hyperpowered immune system hunts it down, invoking "survival of the fittest, nature red in tooth and claw" on the genetic level. This allows a piece of formerly dead and rotten Zerg tissue cultured in a laboratory to un-decompose, and evolve 1,000,000 times more than humans ever have in the space of a week. Their alpha amino acids have unique "R groups" that allow damaged cells to fuse with protein to repair themselves. It also allows them to ignore Biochemical Barriers by adapting to be compatible with host organisms. They can reproduce through parasitic fusion, or larvae produced from a building that eats mineral crystals, drinks liquid vespene gas, and is built around six wombs (complete with birth canals), a brain, and a stomach. Their buildings are really self-contained organisms that are based on the genetically programmed nest site architecture of their prey species, and one building is specifically designed to do that ultra-evolution thing at an accelerated rate. They don't need to breathe, and their flesh is dense enough to count as a spacesuit. Their metabolism is so fast that, on top of meat, they eat minerals and drink vespene (which is a mutagen, so that helps things along considerably). The downside to this is that they are very susceptible to radiation poisoning.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In most cases.
    • The original StarCraft ends with Tassadar heroically destroying the Zerg Overmind at the cost of his own life, but Aiur is still overrun with Zerg, Mengsk has won and become The Emperor, Raynor continues to fight the now leaderless Zerg alongside the Protoss and Kerrigan is still the Queen of Blades.
    • StarCraft II ultimately ends with Kerrigan becoming a god-like Xel'Naga, saving the universe and leaving the man she loves behind. Or does she?
    • Brood War on the other hand, is a Downer Ending.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points:
    • Protoss units and buildings have a blue bar over their HP bar which indicates the current strength of their shields. Once these are depleted, damage is applied directly to their HP, and a visual effect indicates whether a unit/building has shields.
    • In the Wings of Liberty campaign, Stetmann can research Vanadium Plating, which gives units +5% HP for each Armor upgrade.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: Stimpacks, used as an ability for some Terran infantry in the games, greatly improves their movement and fire-rate for its duration. Once described as "a powerful mix of synthetic adrenaline, endorphins, and a psychotropic aggression enhancer" on the second game's official website, it clearly can come with some horrific long-term side effects including "...insomnia, weight loss, mania/hypomania, seizures, paranoiac hallucinations, internal hemorrhaging, and cerebral deterioration" as well as "cellular degradation, addiction..." from the first game's manual...but frankly, Terran infantry units' odds of living long enough to suffer those side-effects are pretty bad anyway. That bad stuff may be why the usage of Stimpacks is Cast from Hit Points. Alternative appearances of non-standard Stimpacks outside of melee matches are implicitly less-consequently harmful than normal ones due to not being Cast from Hit Points to the same degree:
    • Improved Stimpacks last longer and have a lower health cost.
    • Super Stimpacks don't cost health, and indeed, instead heals the unit over the duration.
    • High-grade Stimpacks massively increase attack speed by a lot more without affecting movement and have no health cost.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Terran Marines are "Resocialized," colloquially known as "Resoc." It suppresses any Freudian Excuses and overlays Fake Memories of being a model citizen who joined the army for personal reasons. It also gives them a migraine if they try to access their real memories. Crooks who are immune to resoc are given suicide missions until the problem solves itself.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Zerg were forcibly changed from a race of peaceful worms low on their world's food chain to the Assimilation Plot driven Horde of Alien Locusts with Psychic Powers we all know and love by the Xel'Naga and the Dark Voice. Note that some strains of Zerg are actually derived from various species that the Swarm encountered and consumed throughout the Galaxy. The Hydralisks were once the herbivorous Slothien herd animals, the Mutalisks were Mantis Screamers, and the Behemoths (likely now Leviathans) used to be peaceful Space Whales.
    • Subverted by the Overlords whose host species willingly offered themselves up for infestation to avert their oncoming extinction through starvation.
  • Bug War: Any fight against the Zerg.
  • Captain Ersatz: The "Tarrasque" strain of Ultralisk is a direct copypaste of the monster from Dungeons & Dragons. Both are massive, highly destructive monsters with Resurrective Immortality.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Stim Packs allow Terran Infantry to move and fire 50% faster at the cost of 20-25% of their HP. The combined cost of recruiting infantry and using stim packs was considered detrimental in the long run which is one of the reasons why Field Medics debuted in the Brood War expansion.
  • Civil Warcraft: Whether the reason is overt warfare, civil war, or rebellions in which the player is on one side or the other, every single campaign in every game contains scenarios where you fight all three factions at least once - including whichever race you're playing at the time.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Magma tiles in the Ashworld tileset (e.g. Char) act exactly like water tiles on any other tileset, and no units take damage from being nearby. This may be justified though: the Terrans are all either in vehicles or wearing Powered Armor (which we know can survive hard vacuum, so being heat-resistant isn't much of a stretch), the Protoss have shields and probably other applicable phlebotinum, and the Zerg have Adaptive Ability.
  • Crapsack Universe: The individual factions all suck one way or the other, the only genuinely nice, trustworthy people are the individuals with no real power.
    • Terrans act somewhat like locusts, moving from world to world to drain the resources and most of their standing military consists of mind-controlled convicts. Of their governments, the Confederacy was corrupt to its core, the Dominion is slightly better but compensates with its Emperor's extreme narcissism, and the UED are Space Nazis. The lesser governments are the Kel-Morian Combine and the Umojan Protectorate. The Kel-Morian Combine has been compared to a massive criminal organization, and is said to practice slavery. The Umojan Protecorate is apparently the only good government, but it is generally weaker and less populous than either the Combine or the Confederacy/Dominion, but evens the odds with extremely potent technology and a huge spy network.
    • The Protoss are fairly nice, but they're Scary Dogmatic Aliens and have enough trouble keeping peace among their own tribes without involving the other races. And Lord help you if the Zerg have seeded your planet.
    • The Zerg want to achieve perfection... by absorbing every other being they encounter, until they're the only race left.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Units and buildings will be perfectly fine so long as they have any health, though Zerg and Protoss buildings will show damage. The only exceptions are Terran buildings: if their damage meter dips into the red range, they'll catch on fire and start taking damage even if they're no longer being attacked. But if SCVs repair them back into at least the yellow health range, they'll be perfectly fine and functional.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Protoss are a near-literal example. Khaydarin crystals are featured heavily in their architecture due to them acting as a conduit for psionic energy, and out of battle the Protoss wear simple cloth garments like loincloths, cloaks and capes.
  • Cryo-Prison: The colony ships that brought the Terrans to the Koprulu Sector were full of inmates from Earth's internment camps on ice. While Tychus Findlay was sentenced to cryo for some reason instead of being resocialized like most violent criminals.
  • Cutscene: Of the Blizzard cinematic variety. StarCraft II also uses the game engine for some pretty high-end cutscenes, that are only inches below the actual cinematics.

    Tropes D to G 
  • Damage Is Fire: Terran and Protoss buildings burn. Zerg buildings bleed. Terran buildings on fire take further damage from it until it's destroyed or sufficiently repaired. The heavier the damage, the more widespread the fire/blood.
  • Damage Typing: Normal (full damage no matter what; only reduced by armor value), Explosive (full damage to Large units, half to Small ones) and Concussive (full damage to Small units, half to Medium ones and a paltry quarter to Large ones). This is why, for example, Marines take half-damage from Sunken colonies (Explosive damage vs a Small unit, despite the sunkens doing enough damage on-paper to one-hit kill the marines). The sequel exchanges damage typing for armor typing; mechanical, light, biological, armored, massive and psionic, which all interact with damage, usually by giving certain units extra damage versus certain types of armor. It functions as a Keyword structure, with one unit having multiple types. Ultralisks, for example, are "Armored - Biological - Massive," meaning they can be Sniped (250 damage vs biological), take extra damage from armor piercing weapons, and is immune to most Status Effects.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Protoss High Templars/Dark Templars merging mind and body, sacrificing their physical forms to create the Archon and Dark Archon.
  • Data Crystal: The Protoss use these.
  • Defenseless Transports:
    • The Drop Ships used by all three races have no attacks. Neither do Protoss carriers. But between missions Terran dropships and other units are carried from system to system aboard Battlecruisers, and Carriers are supposed to have energy weapons capable of sterilizing planets.
    • The lack of weapons on dropships is lampshaded by one of the Hyperion's engineers in the novel Flashpoint, and she outfits one with guns just in time for a Gunship Rescue.
  • Deflector Shields: Personal type. Every protoss unit has them. In some of the games, some Terran units can create a Defensive Matrix for friendly units or create their own.
  • Dig Attack:
    • StarCraft has the Zerg's burrowing ability, which allows every ground unit (except the Ultralisk) to burrow, sacrificing movement for invisibility. Lurkers, an evolution of the Hydralisk, need to be burrowed to attack by sending rows of spines at enemies.
    • Ultralisks in StarCraft II have an optional campaign-only ability called Burrow Charge, where they burrow, tunnel towards the enemy and breach explosively, damaging the units.
    • Roaches and Infestors can move around while buried. They can't attack, but the Roach heals a lot faster, while the Infestor can still create Infested Marines while underground. Banelings had the ability to do so as well, but was removed.
    • The Widow Mine is a unit introduced in the Heart of the Swarm chapter. Mobile-mode can reversibly burrow, becoming immobile, impossible to target without use of detection, as well as gaining ability to attack any nearby enemies with high, Area of Effect damage. The drawbacks are lock-on activation lag and attack cooldown, but still it is available at low tech level and complements strategies heavy on mechanical units.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Confederacy fired 1000 Apocalypse-class Nuclear Missiles at Korhal IV for successfully rebelling against them and supposedly forming an alliance with Umoja.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The Protoss don't seem to get upset about anything. Not units under fire, not bases being attacked, not even a nuclear launch being detected.
  • Doomed by Canon: One of the novels "I, Mengsk," goes into the details of Arcturus Mengsk's past, including his homeworld of Korhal and his family. People who are familar with the story of the games know what happens to Korhal and the Mengsk clan.
  • During the War
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first game the Protoss had varied eye colors in no particular pattern; Tassadar has blue eyes, Zeratul has red, Aldaris has yellow eyes, and Fenix, Artanis, and Raszagal, have orange. The sequel would codify that the eye color of Protoss depends on the sources of their psionic powers; the Khalai are universally blue-eyed, the Nerazim are green, the Tal'darim are red, and the Purifiers having yellow/orange.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Protoss doctrine for dealing with a Zerg-infested world goes something like "burn it from orbit until everything on the surface is dead." This is how the Terrans first found out that aliens existed: a Protoss fleet appeared near the planet Chau Sara and blasted it without warning or explanation.
  • Easy Communication
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • If Zamara is right, Duran's hybrids are these.
    • Also, Ulrezaj in his archon form and their boss, The Dark Voice.
    • The Overmind might also count.
    • And the same goes to several of the pack leaders of the Primal Zerg, particularly Zurvan.
  • Eldritch Location: The Void serves as this.
  • Energy Ball: Numerous units can fire these out, most notably the Protoss phase disruptors, used by photon cannons and most of their vehicles.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Zerg were deliberately engineered by the Xel'Naga to be an opposite of the Protoss as part of their experiments. The Protoss have "purity of form" while the Zerg have "purity of essence." The Protoss use a telepathic link that connects all of them, the Zerg are a Hive Mind. The Protoss are graceful and intelligent, the Zerg are bestial and driven by instinct. Even in battle they use opposite techniques, the Protoss army consisting of singular elite soldiers who have spent years training for war, against the Zerg army consisting of lots and lots of expendable units evolved to be killing machines, and little else.

    Of course, this is only a superficial interpretation. The Dark Templar novels reveal that the "Turned Against Their Masters" gig is a Protoss fabrication. The Zerg and Protoss were created in order to unite with each other and create a new iteration of the Xel'Naga (it's just how those guys worked) as part of their life-cycle. The Zerg got corrupted by an Eldritch Abomination before that could happen, however, and were made to attack their makers and the Protoss.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: The Confederates tried to use the Zerg as a weapon, with the psionic emanations of Ghosts as the bait; Arcturus used the Confederates' own technology to turn the Zerg against the Confederacy; the UED tried to enslave the Overmind itself; and even Valerian tried some experiments on Kerrigan and the Zerg after she was "purged" of infestation. Needless to say, all of these attempts to control the Zerg ended disastrously, although in Arcturus' case the disaster from his attempt to use the Zerg didn't strike until much later.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Aspects of the Zerg that do not fit neatly into other tropes: the way that buildings pulsate when they are being constructed, their sound effects (especially if liquids are involved), the Overmind's influence is represented by a big eye. Then there's the growing tissue sample in StarCraft II...
  • Evil Versus Evil: Most of the conflicts that Arcturus Mengsk is evolved in — he starts in a kind of Black-and-Grey Morality situation against the Confederacy, and once he gains power falls into a neat Evil Overlord niche, but the fact that genocidal aliens and imperialistic Earthlings are a greater threat means he's constantly able to fight them and portray himself and the Dominion as heroes.
  • Expanded Universe: In the form of paperback novels and graphic novels.
  • Explosive Breeder: The Zerg seems to be this.
  • Faction Calculus: One of the most famous examples (as measured in "games that copy it"), providing a huge amount of depth to the game.
    • Terrans are Balanced. They have all the Long Range Fighters, with only one melee unit (the Firebat), and for a long time had the unit with the longest firing range (the Siege Tank; eventually its title as longest-range combatant was usurped by the Protoss Tempest), but their units tend to be Glass Cannons in compensation. They have the best standing defenses in the form of Bunkers, which you can hide infantry in, and some of their buildings can take off and fly to other locations, but at the cost of subverted Critical Existence Failure: Damage Is Fire, and if a Terran building's Life Meter is reduced far enough, it will burn down of their own accord unless repaired. Finally, the Terran military is less mobile as a whole; their units are Master of None, they need to rely on each other for support, and they have to either leave some units at home or leave their base undefended.
    • Zerg are Subversive, with lots of small, fast, weak units suitable for a Zerg Rush, all the Suicide Attackers, and lots of Body Horror, Hollywood Acid and Combat Tentacles. Their Worker Units don't so much build structures as mutate into them (consuming the Worker in the process), and many of their powerful units have to mutate out of a pre-existing lower-tier unit. Their structures must be built on "Creep," which is generated naturally from their central Hatcheries and blocks the other two races from placing buildings. Zerg have Regenerating Health and will heal From a Single Cell. Where a few Terran and Protoss units have Invisibility Cloaks, almost all Zerg ground units can "burrow" underground, allowing them to ambush, recon and heal. Finally, because of the way Zerg build unitsnote , they can generate new armies in an instant, in case there's been a Total Party Kill or you've found some Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors to exploit, but their Tech Tree is also markedly more vulnerable to destruction.
    • Protoss are Powerhouse. They have an Elite Army with impressive psionic powers, which they have combined with technology; the best Squishy Wizards; some cyborg units and others which are completely robotic; and the most late-game units out of everyone. They have Deflector Shields which regenerate over time, supplementing their already-high Hit Points, with the downside of Regenerating Shields, Static Health. All Protoss buildings must be built near a Pylon, and stop functioning if all nearby Pylons are destroyed. Pylons also raise your Arbitrary Headcount Limit. They are the Protoss' least-durable building. Having said that, the Protoss Worker Unit simply opens a portal (through which the building teleports) and then can wander off to do other things, instead of having to stay temporarily (Terran) or permanently (Zerg), so it's relatively easy to Construct Additional Pylons if things go south.
    • It's also interesting to compare each faction's basic units. Terrans have the Marine, who has has the lowest Hit Points of the lotnote , but carries a gun against the other units' melee attacks. The Zergling is a four-legged beast, with the fastest movespeed of the three units and an upgrade to make it faster, and is so cheap that Zerg players get two of them for the cost of one Marinenote . Finally, Protoss have the Zealot, who has the most HPnote  and does the most damage per attack, but costs twice the resources, twice the Supply points, and takes up twice the room aboard a dropship.
  • Fantastic Firearms:
  • Fantastic Rank System: The Protoss have a different rank structure, though only three ranks are ever mentioned in the original game:
    • Praetor: Probably close to an Army Captain, Fenix held this rank, as did Artanis in Brood War.
    • Executor: Probably close to a Brigadier (1-star) General; Tassadar, Artanis, and Selendis held this rank. The High Executor leads the caste.
    • Judicator: A high-ranking government official, Aldaris held this rank.
    • Prelate: The Dark Templar equivalent of Praetor. Zeratul was addressed as such in Brood War.
    • StarCraft II introduces cosmetic ranks for any standard unit based on number of kills. For Protoss, 0-4 kills is a Disciple, 5-9 is a Mentor, 10-14 an Instructor, 15-19 a Master, and 20+ an Executor. Zerg equivalents are Predator, Slayer, Ravager Assassin and Metamorph, and while hardly fantastic, for the sake of completion, Terran get Recruit, Corporal, Sergeant, Captain, Commander.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel:
    • The Protoss and Terrans have FTL Warp drives, while the Zerg Overmind can use its massive Psychic Powers to tear warp rifts in spacetime.
    • Protoss have near-instantaneous precision warps, to the point that their buildings, infantry and ships are not "built" but are warped in from their homeworld or automated factories. Protoss soldiers even have armor that teleports them out when they are gravely wounded in battle.
    • The arrival of the Terrans in Koprulu was actually a navigational accident. The flight computers on their sleeper FTL ships malfunctioned, and overshot their destination, travelling at FTL speeds for about 30 years (adding up to some 60,000 light-years from Earth). Over time, the Earth Directorate has managed to advance FTL technology to allow them to get to the Koprulu Sector from Earth in a matter of months.
  • Final Exchange: The franchise is full of these, especially in the sequel StarCraft II.
    • Kerrigan and Mengsk
      Mengsk: I made ya into a monster, Kerrigan!
      Kerrigan: You made us all into monsters. (uses psychic attack that blows up Mengsk and his entire office)
    • Malash and Alarak, when the latter is close to the Pit of Sacrifice.
      Malash: The master has already won, Alarak. You will lead our people to their doom...
      Alarak: You're right about one thing, Malash. I! will! lead them! (pushes Malash in the Pit)
    • Narud and Stukov
      Narud: came here to gloat, haven't you?
      Stukov: No, I came here to say "good night", you son of a bitch! (fires a Corrosive Blast that destroys Narud)
    • Amon and Kerrigan
      Amon: You are but a product of the flawed cycle. Manipulated for the entirety of your existence...
      Kerrigan: You know nothing about me! I care little for the Xel'Naga's Infinite Cycle or your twisted lies. No, I choose something different. I choose freedom... for all of us. (obliterates Amon)
  • Fog of War
  • Freudian Trio: Zerg are the Id, Terran are the Ego and Protoss are the Superego.
  • From A Single HP: All Zerg units and buildings will recover, if not killed, eventually.
  • From Bad to Worse: Repeatedly in the original. It never gets better in Brood War.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: From the Confederacy to the Dominion...
  • Future Slang: The novels introduce "fekk" as a curse word. Of course, 'feck' is contemporary British slang.
  • Gambit Pileup: The entire storyline. Every major character in this game, human or otherwise, seems to have some sort of hidden agenda and it's nigh-impossible to tell who's getting the upper hand. Mostly, it doesn't work out well for anybody.
  • Game Lobby: The series works this way. They're strategy games, so drop-in/drop-out would be disastrous. Fortunately, the games are very popular, and matches are relatively short.
  • Garrisonable Structures: Terran Bunkers.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Terrans in the Koprulu sector were descendants of unwanted people on Earth who were sent on hardly inhabitable places to test if they could survive. They can. It should be noted that the genocide might not have backfired if the sleeper ships hadn't missed their destinations.
  • Genre Roulette: "Space Opera" is always the base genre, but there are distinct flavors depending on which race is currently in the spotlight: Terran campaigns are typically Space Westerns in a Used Future, zerg campaigns are a Cosmic Horror Story where you're playing as the monsters, and protoss campaigns fall more into Science Fantasy with an emphasis on mysticism and prophecy and a Crystal Spires and Togas aesthetic.
  • Gideon Ploy: The High Templar's Hallucination skill creates an illusion of the target, which can be used to fool the enemy into attacking to protect the real unit.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: All Protoss and some Zerg have them.
  • Goo It Up: The Queen's Ensnare ability vomits up a big batch of slime across an area, which slows enemy units there and reveals invisible units.
  • Gratuitous Greek: The Confederacy (and later the Dominion) had several squadrons named after Greek letters: specifically Alpha, Delta, Epsilon, and Omega. Moreover, the "firstborn" of the Xel'Naga are called the "Protoss," which resembles the Greek word "Πρωτος" meaning "first".
  • Gunship Rescue: Subverted in the opening cinematic to Brood War, wherein the UED flagship is seen hovering overhead... and then leaves without firing a shot, abandoning the marines below to the fury of the Zerg Swarm.

    Tropes H to O 
  • Hammerspace: Terrans have building components appear and snap themselves together out of thin air.
  • Hive Mind: The zerg Swarm, obviously. The Khala of the protoss is also somewhat like this, only the protoss in the Khala retain their individuality and free will, and can choose not to share all of their thoughts and feelings with others. But it comes closer to the traditional Hive Mind in Legacy of the Void when Amon takes control of the Khalai through it; the only protoss free from his control afterward are the Nerazim who ritually sever their nerve chords to cut themselves off from the Khala, the Khalai who subsequently have their nerve chords severed by the free Nerazim, and the Tal'darim who follow Amon out of free choice.
  • Hollywood Acid: Often used as a weapon by the Zerg. And now there is a StarCraft II short story called "Acid Burns".
  • Homing Boulders: A common element due to the game's use of Always Accurate Attack for the sake of game balance disallowing attacks to miss unless the target is on a higer elevation (rules vary between I & II). Phase Disruptors and Photon Cannons are notable as unlike Terran homing missiles which would have guidance systems, these energy spheres will always hit their mark, despite the projectiles behaving similar to dumbfire missiles. The Zerg Roach is especially notable for this as the game engine will adjust the pathing of their acid spit to reach its target.
  • Hufflepuff House: Both the Kel-Morian Combine and the Umojan Protectorate get no screentime in the original game, beyond a blurb in the manual. The Combine was later elaborated on in Brood War, but Umoja only makes a small appearance in the prologue of Heart of the Swarm.
  • Humans Are Divided: Humans are the most divided of the three races by far, with every game having a war between two or more of their factions.
  • Humans Are Special: Deconstructed. The Terrans of the Koprulu Sector are only a few generations away from becoming a psionic species. Instead of indicating that humanity is on the verge of becoming something greater, this just means they drew the attention of the Zerg, who view their psionic potential as the key to fighting their real target, the Protoss, on equal grounds. Interestingly, Humans are the only major race that was not created/uplifted by the Xel'Naga.
    • Averted until Legacy of the Void, the final campaign of StarCraft II. The ultimate conflict of the series revolves around Zerg and Protoss struggling to integrate with each other—something the Zerg desperately want and Protoss desperately want to avoid. The second half of StarCraft II deals more and more heavily with such Protoss/Zerg hybrids. Humans just kind of stumbled into the arena of this conflict on accident because of a glitchy navigation system a few generations beforehand.
    • Ultimately played straight in the finale of Legacy of Void, when Kerrigan ascends to become a Xel'Naga, an achievement that few species in the galaxy ever reach.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: For all intents and purposes the term "Terran" is used as a substitute, both by humans and by non-humans, for the word human. This is particularly odd since Earth (except for in the expansion) is practically a non-factor and the word Protoss has nothing at all to do with the name of the protoss homeworld (Aiur). As for the Zerg, it's unclear if they're named after Zerus (given the unusual spelling) or whether Zerus is named after them.
  • Humans Need Aliens:
    • Humans in the series are considered flawed, weak, violent, and greedy by the Protoss and Zerg. Outside of Raynor's alliances with the Protoss, the humans are prone to civil wars and in-fighting even as they flee/fight the Zerg and Protoss. The climax of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, when Raynor and the Dominion invade Char and de-infest Kerrigan is pretty much the only heroic thing the race has done in the grand scheme of things.
    • Also in Wings of Liberty, Jim Raynor is shown a vision of a possible future where the Terrans and Protoss are driven to extinction by the zerg/protoss hybrids in a timeline where Kerrigan dies, and can't lead the Zerg swarm.
    • Then again, humans have been shown to at least be better at fighting the zerg than the Protoss in the games making this a possible subversion. Raynor played a major part in the defeat of the first overmind on Aiur, the United Earth Directorate seized control of the second in brood war, and humans took one of the zerg's best defended worlds, Char, twice. Let's also not forget that Sarah Kerrigan, the Zerg's current leader is a former human. Also, Terrans are the only one of the three races that were not uplifted by the local Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • Hybrid Power: The protoss and zerg were both uplifted by the Xel'Naga to have "purity of form" and "purity of essence", respectively. The program to hybridise them theoretically creates the Ultimate Life Form.
  • The Infested: Infested Terrans are, well, infested by the Zerg, who have altered their biochemistry to the point that they become violently explosive. The concept art shows them to be so chockfull of alien parasites that they're bursting out of their space-suits.
  • Instant-Win Condition: In the multiplayer; you win the game if you destroy every building the enemy player controls, even if your own base is in shambles and you're on your last unit. There is a reason for this: During the beta for the first game, a very common dirty trick was for a losing player to hide a very difficult to spot building such as a supply building in an obscure part of the map in hopes that the opponent would give up and cede the game in frustration.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: The whole Terran Navy.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: Protoss policy on planets that have become too infested with Zerg to be saved is to glass the entire planet from orbit. It's a last resort and its main use is to make sure that even if a planet is lost, the Zerg will at least not gain another foothold. Some of the problems in the first game come about because Tassadar decided to be merciful and let some of the Terrans escape, which let the Zerg do the same.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Protoss burn Zerg from orbit.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Woe to any who has no existing knowledge of the series, as Sarah Kerrigan becoming the Queen of Blades was a major spoiler in the middle of the original game's campaign, but it is now common knowledge since the game in question was released in 1998 and she has essentially become the face of the franchise since then.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In Wings of Liberty, just before the final mission if you click on Tychus he will comment that he is worried about the artifact they are using and that he fears it might shatter the entire space-time continuum. Raynor's response is to tell him that it's not science fiction.
    • Ten years passed between the release of the original StarCraft and the announcement of its sequel. What were the first word's spoken by a character and the only line in the trailer?
      Tychus Findlay: "Hell... it's about time."
    • In Heart of the Swarm, when breaking into a lab, Kerrigan notes how heavily fortified it is and comments, "Just getting inside will be an achievement." Sure enough, the achievement for completing the ensuing mission is named, "Just Getting Inside".
  • LEGO Genetics: The Hand Wave for how the Zerg can have unit upgrades.
  • Magitek: Protoss vehicles and structures, as well as Ghost cloaking devices, are powered by psychic energy.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: Psionics.
  • Mana Meter: Energy is used for technological, biological and psi abilities, and also for units with a limited lifespan such as Hallucinations and Broodlings.
  • Mascot Villain: Kerrigan is one of the most recognizable characters from the game, and is commonly the game's face in promotional materials, including the box art for Brood War and Heart of the Swarm. Played with when the events of Heart of the Swarm make her a lot less villainous.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Planet "Char" didn't earn its name by being a planet of rainforests and crystal blue oceans.
    • Protoss means "first born" in the language of the Xel'Naga, and is derived from the Greek word πρωτος, which is pronounced the same way and means "first".
  • Meat Moss: Zerg Creep.
  • Mental Fusion: The Khala, the basis of the Protoss religion and integral part of their identity, is a form of this. Protoss are universally psychic, and evolved a super-powerful collective consciousness that manifests as magic-like abilities. Communion with this "Khala" is actually touching all the minds, thoughts, and emotions of the Protoss race at large. Unlike some forms of fusion, however, the communion with the Khala is expected rather than completely voluntary, and opponents are seen as heretics: there is a small group of protoss who fear that this will, one day, completely subsume their personalities, and take steps to sever themselves from it permanently (they evolved their own culture).
  • Merger of Souls: The various "archons" created by the protoss.
    • The first game's high templars can perform a one-way fusion into an archon, a ghostly psionic entity that is very damaging and quite hard to kill*. Brood War allows two dark templar to fuse into a dark archon, a caster unit.
    • The Expanded Universe and Enslavers II add-on campaign have Ulrezaj, a rebel dark templar who eventually fuses with five others to form an Ax-Crazy super-archon of sorts. He's eventually defeated in StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga by having the Preserver sacrifice herself to seal him with her into a khaydarin crystal.
    • StarCraft II dispenses with the dark archon, allowing archons (initially called twilight archons, but this was dropped in early patches) to be created from any combination of two high templar or dark templar.
  • Messianic Archetype: Khas, Adun, and Tassadar for the protoss. The first was the originator of the Khala, which brought an end to their tribal warfare period and unified them as a single race. The second refused to exterminate the dark templar on orders of the Conclave and eventually sacrificed himself to protect them. The third sacrificed himself to kill the Overmind and save Aiur. Or did he?
  • Metagame:
    • To a terrifying degree. The metagame has gotten so intricate that good players can tell exactly where the other player's base is simply by how long it takes for an enemy scouting unit to find them. The presence or absence of gas production buildings at certain points in the game can reveal volumes about a player's strategy. And of course, feigning one tactic and going for another can have devastating consequences.

      To give a specific example, one common Terran strategy vs. Protoss was to put down two factories and produce lots of units to make an attack. Then the Terran metagame evolved to incorporate acting like you're putting down two Factories and making a little attack to put the opponent on the defensive but you're actually only making one Factory and saving for an expansion to gain an economic advantage - the fake double. This became so popular that it is normal and Protoss players anticipated it, so now Terrans can now also try to give the appearance that they are doing the fake double but meanwhile they actually really are putting down two Factories to make a serious attack. Which is known as the fake fake double. Mindbending.
      • Not the end of the story. If they're going for a fake double, they often show that they are mining their Vespene Gas at maximum efficiency in exchange for Mineral mining. This is a sign that they are going for a double. In fact, many players mine gas at maximum efficiency until their opponent's scout is gone, then stop, to make the opponent think they are going double. Most Protoss players have figured this out though, and now usually know it's an early expansion. In fact, the Terrans adapted to the Protoss, and actually do go for the double. Yes, the Protoss adapted again, and play safer, but then the Terrans just go for the expansion. Continuous metagame development.
    • This becomes much more prevalent in StarCraft II where scouts are crucial in knowing what you are dealing with. For Zerg it is fairly straightforward, early expansion or just go for the safer spawning pool? Do you produce a slew of Zerglings to prep yourself for Tier 2 or go for Roaches to buff up your defenses? Did your opponent research Burrow? Or did he go for the Ventral Sacs? The questions are never answered unless you know what your opponent is doing. Because of how fast the games get (due to the bases getting mined out earlier) it makes it all the more important to scout because everything moves quickly. Ironically it also makes the Terran much more difficult to predict because of the ease to build and swap attachments. Since buildings can swap, it means that when you thought he was going for Marauders when he built that Barracks for the Tech Lab, he can just fake you out and swap it for a Factory to build Siege Tanks and Thors.
  • Metamorphosis: This is how the Zerg race produce their units and buildings.
  • Mobile Factory: All Terran structures capable of producing units are mobile.
  • Mole Monster: Zerg Lurkers in Brood War can only attack when burrowed, sending out lines of skies from underground (and burrowed creatures are invisible).
  • Monster Protection Racket: The main reason the Confederacy was experimenting on the Zerg at least according to Mengsk. Granted, this is something the Confederacy would do, but we never get confirmation as to why they made the psi-emitters. On the other hand, Mengsk had every reason to spin the development of the new technology is the most diabolical way that he could. He ended up using the tech in a more evil way than the Confederates ever did.
  • Mordor: Char and so does The Void.
  • Moving Buildings: Most of the major Terran buildings can just pick up and move on whenever they wanted to.
  • Neglectful Precursor: Early on, it's revealed that the Xel'Naga were trying to create a perfect race: The Protoss were a failed experiment, but they succeeded with the Zerg, up until the point where they got eaten.

    In StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga novels, however, it's revealed that the Xel'Naga were done with the Protoss; they had completed their work and left to create the Zerg as a complementary species, which would have, in time, joined with the Protoss to create new Xel'Naga. Someone screwed that gig up, though.
    • Legacy of the Void revealed that the Xel'Naga's MO actually forbid them from interface with other races. Three guess about who uplifted the Protoss.
  • Neutrals, Critters, and Creeps: Alien wildlife, such as Scantids and Rhinodons. These can be parasitized by Zerg players for a free Animal Eye Spy, as the AI ignores them. They also (harmlessly) explode into a mushroom cloud if clicked too often.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Repeatedly. To their credit though, they are usually aware of it and are appropriately horrified.
    • Raynor, and the Player Character, help Mengsk defeat the Confederacy; only for Mengsk to prove himself to be just as bad as the Confederacy and proclaim himself Emperor.
    • In the end of the Protoss campaign in Brood War, the Protoss acknowledge that by using that Xel'Naga temple to destroy the Zerg on Shakuras they will greatly weaken Daggoth's forces, which in turn will help Kerrigan. They also state though that doing so is the only way that they will survive.
    • Zeratul's killing of Zasz was the first time a Cerebrate actually died, but it also linked his mind with the Overmind and revealed the location of Auir. Zeratul later killed the second Overmind ending the UED's control of the Zerg, which meant that Kerrigan then had complete control of all the Zerg.
    • The UED just made everything worse. Not that they can be considered any sort of heroic, of course.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: There are some decisions in the lore which ended up biting the people that made them.
    • The Confederacy had been secretly using Psi Emitters to lure the Zerg to the fringe worlds such as Mar Sara. Arcturus then starts using the Emitters against the Confederacy which ultimately destroys them.
    • Arcturus leaves Kerrigan to die on Tarsonis after foiling the Protoss Fleet. The Overmind then remakes her into a Zerg-Terran hybrid who proceeds to manipulate Arcturus into helping her and then castrates his Dominion Forces by killing his best available General, Edmund Duke. Years later, Kerrigan pushes the Dominion to the brink of defeat before being purified by the Xel'Naga artifact. Arcturus attacks the Umojan research facility where Kerrigan is being held in an attempt to capture her but she escapes, becomes the Queen of Blades again, and reunites the Zerg swarm before invading Korhal IV and ultimately killing Arcturus.
  • No Entrance: While most of their structures have entrances, Protoss warzone-deployed structures specifically lacks them, warping between them using their warp technology: It keeps the Khalai caste workers safe from internal sabotage and infiltration, meaning that the only two ways to disable the building is to destroy it, or cut the power. Not that there is any sort of infiltration play in the actual gameplay for any of the three races.
  • No Mouth: The Protoss.
  • No Product Safety Standards: StarCraft does this trope proud. Many of the Terrans' combat machines are out to passively or actively kill them. Most notable is the Viking, a versatile transforming fighter which claims so many of its pilots, that they are known as 'Cherries' until they survive one transformation.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: In-universe. One of the reasons for Project Purification that was carried out by the UPL.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: A retroactive Type 1 example: One complaint about the Hybrids in StarCraft II is that they aren't nearly as frightening in that game as they were in StarCraft I; and one reason why they were so scary in StarCraft I is that almost nothing was known about them.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources: The AI, on harder difficulty levels.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Happens during some cutscenes in space.
  • Optional Stealth: All three races offer a substantial variety of units, so you can employ a Zerg Rush, use stealthy tactics or More Dakka. For example, in the final mission in the original game, the nominal strategy is to wage a war of attrition using stealth as a secondary tactic, but a more spectacular and equally effective (though more costly) method is to simply build a massive force for an all-or-nothing battle.
  • Organic Technology: Zerg buildings are grown out of a certain kind of Zerg.
  • Orphaned Punchline:

    Tropes P to Z 
  • Parasitic Horror: Infested Terrans are stuffed so full of alien parasites they're pouring out of their spacesuits.
  • Permafusion: Two Protoss Templars can merge into an Archon, a powerful entity of pure psionic energy. It sacrifices the Templars' identities, so it's only done in times of great need.
  • Planet Terra: Humans are called Terrans, though their homeworld is still called Earth.
  • The Political Officer: Judicator Aldaris is this to the player-character Executor in the first game. The very first words he say are a reminder to be more loyal to the Conclave than your predecessor. However, the player ultimately defies him and gets away with it.
    • The Protoss Arbiters are one of the few spacecraft crewed purely by the Judicator Caste rather than Templar, and as their name implies, an overseer, function as such for the Templar fleets (it's pretty much the reason why you only get access to them in the second-to-last level, when Judicator Aldaris is willing to let Tassadar and Zeratul try killing the zerg their way).
  • Power Echoes: The Protoss units have this in varying degrees.
  • Power Glows: Anything, unit or building, built by the Protoss.
  • Precursor Killers: The Zerg
  • Precursors: The Xel'Naga.
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: The two campaigns for each race in the original StarCraft and its expansion Brood War had ten missions each, with the exception of the second Protoss and Terran campaigns, that had 8. The campaign of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is 29 missions long, eleven more missions than both Terran campaigns from vanilla and Brood War combined, while Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void have 20 missions each.
  • Psychic Powers: The protoss have them, and the potential for them is why the Zerg are interested in humanity.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Zerg.
  • Putting on the Reich:
    • The uniforms worn by United Earth Directorate officers resemble Nazi uniforms, right down to the grey overcoats and hats. Oddly, their bosses are a Frenchman and a Russian.
    • The UED gets bonus points for using the same interior decorators as Nazi Germany. Both have red flags with similar symbolism; the UED shows an eagle atop the Earth, echoing the Third Reich's eagle atop the swastika.
    • How about their predecessor, the United Powers League, who rounded up all cyborgs, mutants, punks and "undesirables" from Earth and either killed them or shot them off into space?
  • Rate-Limited Perpetual Resource:
    • Starcraft 1: Vespene geysers contain a large but finite amount of vespene gas (which is required for more advanced units and upgrades and then become depleted. Workers collect 8 units of vespene per trip from the original amount, but once depleted can only extract 2 units per trip.
    • Starcraft II: One mission has industrial scrappers regularly deposit money pickups throughout the level, though these are no replacement for having actual workers collecting minerals.
  • Recycled In Space: Many elements from the Warcraft games before it were recycled. This is lampshaded by Artanis's "annoyed" dialog in Brood War.
    Artanis: This is not Warcraft in space!
    Artanis: It is, much more sophisticated!
    Artanis: I KNOW it's not 3-d!
    Artanis: What do I look like, an orc?
  • Real Robot: Goliaths, Thors... you name em'.
  • Real-Time Strategy
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Khalai and Dark Templar Protoss respectively. Where the Khalai tend towards the Large Ham and boisterous (MY LIFE FOR AIUR!), the Dark Templar are much more subdued and sarcastic.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: The Protoss faction. In contrast the Zerg regenerate health slowly while the Terrans have units that can restore the health of others, and neither faction has shields.
  • The Remnant: The Confederacy just won't seem to go away after being defeated by Mengsk. The UED still has pockets of forces left behind in the sector. Groups of both go to work as mercenaries. The novels also mention other rebel groups that fought the Confederacy separately...and then went right on to fight the Dominion, since it wasn't any improvement.
  • The Republic: The Umojan Protectorate, which of all the major Terran states seems to be the only one that's consistently "good".
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction:
    • Justified for the Protoss, who warp in their structures and units already constructed from somewhere else.
    • Justified for the Terrans; all their buildings are prefabricated, and StarCraft II's better animations show that the SCV is operating an assembly armature that is included in the building kit, rather than welding the whole thing together by hand.
  • Running Gag: You are on a Hold the Line mission and Kerrigan is involved in it? It's a safe bet that she's what you are protecting.
  • Scarab Power: Scarabs are the Action Bombs created as the primary armament of Reavers, segmented robots similar in appearance to a pillbug. How the alien Protoss know what a scarab is is not explained.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: When the Terrans first arrived to the Koprulu sector, they only numbered approximately 32,000. According to Blizzard's website, there are at least twelve billion Terrans in the Koprulu sector at the beginning of StarCraft II, and Raynor mentions Kerrigan killing eight billion people during the first game. He might have been including the Protoss but that still means you're looking at more than twelve billion humans living in the sector. As mentioned here, to have this many people after only 240 years would require the population to at least double every decade, for 24 decades, not taking into account the deaths that occur from any number of natural and unnatural causes, because the Terrans have a history of civil wars.
    • The original supercarriers all had a large supply of cryogenicly frozen embryos and fertilized eggs as well as the technology for them to develop in (which would continue to work for 50 years until breaking down). Which could explain the initial population.
    • There's also the matter of the Dominion's military as a whole. The entire Dominion Fleet is stated in the Flashpoint novel to only be 50 ships, and over the course of both the finale of Wings of Liberty and the Flashpoint novel afterwards, nearly half of that is destroyed, yet the Dominion continues to be a major military power in the sector. The average lifespan of a Terran Marine when they're deployed is also six seconds, in spite of all of their armor and the technology that goes into creating them, yet they are able to constantly fight devastating wars and face enormous defeats with no sign of exhaustion until Heart of the Swarm when they're driven back to Korhal, which in itself is heavily defended. If a true faction with only 50 ships and that much of a Redshirt Army fought a war the Dominion would have been long dead by now, especially considering the large number of planets we see under Dominion control.
  • Sequel Hook: Dark Origin. Which is notable due to the level being a unlockable secret. Unless you finished the previous mission within a certain amount of time, and haven't cheated, the player would never learn about the plot.
  • Shapeshifting Heals Wounds: Subverted in StarCraft: Zerg structures are made by a Drone making a cocoon that morphs into the structure, so if the drone is damaged the structure will be as well. Similarly, Zerg creatures that undergo metamorphosis into other forms retain their partial HP.
    • This is reversed in StarCraft II, with any Zerg unit which undergoes a successful transformation healing to full.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story: By the end of Brood War, the Confederacy was replaced by the equally rotten Terran Dominion, which was then devastated by the UED and Kerrigan. The Zerg invaded Auir, were stopped, but killed virtually the whole population first. The Protoss evacuated to Shakuras, but were still devastated and lost their leaders. The UED conquered the sector, but were defeated and wiped out by Kerrigan. The Zerg created a second Overmind (virtually undoing Tassadar's sacrifice), which was then killed. In the end, Kerrigan is the ruler of the sector, and the heroes have been defeated in virtually every way.
  • Shout-Out: With its own page
  • Shows Damage: Type 2 example to buildings.
  • Sleeper Starship: The original Koprulu sector colonists were loaded onto a bunch of ships with experimental warp drives in cryo and spent thirty years in warp due to a computer error. The UED Expeditionary force used cryo as well though they made the trip in less than one year.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The first game is somewhere in the middle but leans more towards the idealistic side. Brood War abruptly veers to the cynical side and keeps going until it becomes downright depressing. StarCraft II turns things back towards the idealistic side of things.
  • The Sociopath: Arcturus Mengsk. Reviewing his key personality traits is like reading through a sociopath diagnostic checklist: superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self, pathological lying, a penchant for manipulating others to achieve his own ends, an absolutely astonishing lack of empathy or remorse for any of his actions, and an insatiable lust for power and dominance that drives his every move. He unleashed the Zerg on an entire planet populated by billions of people just to overthrow a few hundred individuals at most and establish himself as the preeminent political figure among the Terrans of the Koprulu sector. He has no qualms whatsoever about sacrificing those closest to him if it suits his purposes.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: The Protoss shields are invisible until struck forcibly.
  • Space Sector: The setting is the "Koprulu Sector" of space, tens of thousands of light years distant from Earth.
  • Space Western: The general feel of the story from the Terran point of view.
  • Status Quo Is God: After 12 years without an official release, Wings of Liberty ended on the huge plot point of Kerrigan being de-infested. Guess what happens within the first few missions of Heart of the Swarm?
    • Worth noting, however, that all of this changed her personality quite significantly, stripping away most of the Always Chaotic Evil tendencies that her initial infestation added, best described by Kerrigan herself in Brood War as "Queen Bitch of the Universe."
  • Stealthy Mook: Protoss Dark Templar and Observers are permanently invisible, while Terran Ghosts and Wraiths / Banshees use energy to do so. In the first game, the Protoss Arbiter turned all friendly units around it invisible, this role is taken over by the Mothership in the second. All Zerg units are invisible when burrowed, but only the Lurker can attack while burrowed, and only Roaches and Infestors can move while buried.
  • Strategic Asset Capture Mechanic:
    • In both games, Vespene geysers need to be claimed by building a faction-specific refinery structure on top of it. In 2, each campaign has an optional passive Support Power that makes refineries teleport vespene straight into your bank to free up Worker Units.
    • StarCraft IIs multiplayer adds Xel'Naga towers on most maps, which have a passive Defog of War ability as long as an allied unit is standing next to it.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Everything explodes. This is most obvious with the Zerg, in that killing their living buildings results in the building splattering spectacularly in a shower of blood.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Xel'Naga in the Back Story. Also, the Protoss appear to be this at first.
  • Super Cell Reception:
    • Whatever communications systems are used by Terrans work perfectly, no matter the terrain or distance. The closest it comes to Cell Phones Are Useless is in Brood War, where Duran claims Admiral Stukov's signal is breaking up, and that he can't see the Zerg swarms supposedly attacking the base, possibly due to a sensor malfunction. He is, of course, lying, as the player sees the Zerg attacking.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: The Zerg. 5 out of 13 unit types can invoke this at will.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: Rampant, in quite a few missions your enemies have very small armies, or at least small armies that you see. The later missions have larger bases with more troops, but you're still not going to be seeing enemy forces number in the thousands like you would expect from an actual army.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: The Terrans. To the point where a cover of said song appears in StarCraft II.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Exaggerated. In addition to some units only being able to hit airborne or ground-going enemies, the first game had damage types, which gained or lost effectiveness in percentages depending on the opposing unit's physical size (small vs large). The sequel added unit composition (biological vs armored) and replaced the percentages with specific, individual bonuses. And, always, lots of small cheap units can easily gang up on a large expensive one. The end result is a tangled web of counters, with each unit being specifically strong against one unit from each race, and being weak to one of each as well.
  • Teleportation Rescue: In both games, Protoss Zealots disappear when killed, since their armor contains an emergency teleporter that instantly warps them back to Aiur (or their home base) when destroyed. Other troops like Dragoons and Immortals aren't so lucky (being grievously wounded Zealots in a battlesuit) and suffer Permadeath.
  • Temporary Party Member to Villain: Two series-wide examples introduced in StarCraft:
    • Sarah Kerrigan joins halfway into the Terran campaign as a Ghost under Arcturus Mengsk's orders for a mission where she needs to infiltrate into an enemy base. This lasts until the previous-to-last mission where she's left behind by Mengsk, prompting campaign hero Jim Raynor to quit in protest. Kerrigan returns reborn as a villain in the fourth mission of the original Zerg campaign, a role she keeps until her de-infestation via Keystone in the climax of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
    • Arcturus Mengsk is initially the Big Good during most of the original Terran campaign after freeing Jim Raynor from the Mar Sara prison. Afterwards, he leads Raynor and Kerrigan until the Tarsonis mission, where he leaves Kerrigan to die. Afterwards, with the Confederacy gone, he proclaims himself Emperor of the Terran Dominion, making himself a terror for the Terran race until his eventual death at the hands of the aforementioned Kerrigan at the end of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
  • Themed Cursor: A sonar-like thing whose color changes depending on the alignment of whatever you're hovering it over. Green, yellow and red are friendly, neutral and enemies.
  • They Look Like Us Now
  • Token Minority: Prior to the Brood War Campaign, most of the Terran characters seen in StarCraft were either white or hispanic.
    • Samir Duran. Technically doesn't count due to being a shapeshifter.
    • Gabriel Tosh.
    • At least one character in a Zerg cutscene was black in the first game aboard the Amerigo.
  • Touched By Xel'Naga: The Protoss and Zerg have been this.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Terran soldiers are recruited from prison and "neurally resocialized".
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Both the Protoss and the Zerg, against the Xel'Naga; the Protoss merely shooed them away from their world, while the Zerg killed most of them. The Protoss rebellion was just as violent as the Zerg's was. The only difference is the Zerg were all working towards assimilation of the Xel'Naga, and the Protoss were just killing anything that moved, including themselves. A good number of Xel'Naga were killed during the Protoss uprising.
  • Unholy Ground: Not literally unholy, but Zerg Creep has a function analogous to Warcraft III 's Blight, though biological in nature. Unlike Blight, it slowly dies if there are no Zerg structures to maintain it but Terran and Protoss structures cannot be built on it. In StarCraft II, Zerg units get a speed bonus if moving on Creep, and it can be spread via Creep Tumors and stationary Overlords in addition to buildings.
  • Units Not to Scale: This has been a part of the franchise right from the start, due to the needs of making units visibly legible and easy to recognize. When SC2 players made a Game Mod that re-sized (and re-balanced) units to their canonical scale, the results were astonishing, with some units becoming Game Breakers by simple expedient of being so large, you couldn't see anything underneath them anymore.
  • Universal Universe Time: The UED uses "standard hours," implying that there are non-standard hours. Everyone else measures time in years, and Word of God is that Raynor's Raiders use Earth-years despite having no reason to do so.
  • Unobtainium: Neosteel, Khaydarin crystals and both Vespene Gas and "minerals".
  • Untranslated Catchphrase: The Protoss have the Khalani language, and the two phrases which have the most uses are "En Taro Adun/Tassadar/Zeratul/Artanis" and "Adun Toridas". The phrase basically means "In [name's] name," Adun is a historical messiah figure to the dark templar for preventing their genocide by the Conclave.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: The Frontline comics features a dogfight between a Viking, the Dominion's new experimental transforming gunship, and the Wyrm, the Viking's vastly inferior prototype.
  • Used Future
  • Vestigial Empire: The Protoss empire, apparently even before the invasion of Aiur. It's implied this is because they've been fighting the Zerg for many years and are losing.
  • A Villain Named "Z__rg": To quote that page, "What four tropers out of five thought when seeing the title."
  • Walk It Off: Any Zerg unit or building slowly regenerates health. Protoss also slowly recharge their shields over time, which can make up between half to about ninty percent of their total effective health.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Terran battlecruser has a rather powerful one, named after the trope namer itself.
  • Weak Turret Gun: Encountered frequently in installation missions.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Tends to happen to humans with high psi levels if not restrained quickly. The novels also provide this in device form, which blocks any attempts at mind reading at the cost of the user going slowly mental if it's used for more than a couple of hours. Which happens to both characters that had been using them for selfish reasons.
  • World of Badass: There are too many to count that even support units are this.
  • World of Ham: One way or the other, those who are not hams are easily numbered compared to those who are.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: In melee-mode gameplay, many units don't have their crucial features until you specifically "research" it. As an example, Siege Tanks use Siege Mode as a signature ability but until Heart of the Swarm they needed to "research" it or be stuck in their basic tank mode.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Besides the Arbitrary Headcount Limit, which starts at 15 but can be expanded to 200, StarCraft is a franchise with only two resource types: the Gold is "minerals," which are blue crystal clusters, and the Lumber is... "Vespene gas," a greenish substance which can be found in Vespene Geysers.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Star Craft


The Terran Siege Tank

The main cannon of the Terran Siege Tank necessitates the deployment of stabilisers before it is capable of being fired, but the firepower is well worth it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnchoredAttackStance

Media sources: