Follow TV Tropes


Series / Frank Herbert's Dune
aka: Dune

Go To
"And so it begins. The trap is set. The prey approaches. A glorious winter is about to descend on House Atreides and all its heirs, and very soon, the years of humiliation visited upon my family will finally be avenged."
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

The Dune miniseries, billed as Frank Herbert's Dune, is a three-part television adaptation of the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. A co-production between the United States, Germany, Italy and Canada, the miniseries aired in December 2000 on the Sci-Fi Channel.

In the galaxy-spanning Galactic Empire of the far future, the Atreides family are ordered by the Emperor to move from their traditional homeworld of Caladan to Arrakis, also known by the sobriquet 'Dune'. Arrakis is a desert world that is the only source of spice, the single most valuable resource in the galaxy. This transfer is officially a promotion and reward for the exemplary service and loyalty of Duke Leto Atreides, but everybody can see that it is part of some plot by the Harkonnens, the ancestral enemy of the Atreides and the former rulers of Arrakis. With no choice but to walk into the trap in the hope of avoiding its pitfalls, the Atreides move to Arrakis and try to forge an alliance with the native Fremen and survive the scheming of their enemies.

William Hurt stars as Duke Leto, who despite top-billing is only in about the first third of the story. Newcomer Alec Newman stars as Leto's son, Paul 'Muad'Dib' Atreides, with Ian McNeice as Baron Harkonnen and an international cast of supporting actors.

Its $20 million budget was small for a sci-fi blockbuster, but was almost unprecedented for a series intended for an initial TV release. It received a significant marketing push (including full theatrical trailers) as the Sci-Fi Channel tried to break into serious made-for-TV production. After the success of this project, the Sci-Fi Channel began producing high-budget miniseries on an annual basis.

While it was made on a much smaller budget and scale than the 1984 film version, the miniseries is generally praised for taking fewer liberties with the story and staying truer to the original book. This adaptation is sometimes referred to as "the one with the hats" because of its use of flamboyant costume design to distinguish between the different factions within the story.

The miniseries itself spawned a sequel, Frank Herbert's Children of Dune which adapted both Dune Messiah and Children of Dune into a single story.

Widescreen Games developed a Video Game Adaptation — also titled Frank Herbert's Dune — in 2001, published by Cryo Interactive, the developers of the original Dune game based on the 1984 film.

For the other live-action adaptations of Dune, see Dune (1984) and Dune (2021)-Dune: Part Two.

Frank Herbert's Dune contains examples of:

  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The novel goes into extensive worldbuilding to justify the presence of knife fighting as the primary means of combat throughout the galaxy, including the Imperial and noble forces on other planets. Since the Fremen are the best knife-fighters, they can easily overwhelm the Harkonnen and Sardaukar troops. The miniseries, however, gives the Harkonnen and Sardaukar soldiers guns and simply has the Fremen knife-fight them anyway.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the novel, Paul receives two names from the Fremen when he is adopted into their culture: "Usul", a name to be used only by his close friends and family within his sietch, and "Paul-Muad'dib", a name to be used by other Fremen and outsiders which symbolically combined his old and new lives. Here he is only granted the new name "Muad'dib", without a private name or the combination with his original name.
  • Adapted Out:
  • Adaptational Curves: The Fremen are noted as being thin/tight-skinned in the novel due to the harsh conditions of living on Arrakis, particularly the ever-scarce water. In this adaptation, Chani in particular is much more voluptuous than the character described as slender and devoid of body fat in the books.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Princess Irulan is a minor character with only one appearance in the original novel, but receives significant screentime to set up her marriage to Paul at the end. Some of this includes portions of Lady Fenring's character from the book.
  • Aerial Canyon Chase: Paul flies through a canyon in an attempt to evade the Harkonnens. The pursuing pilots manage to stay with him, but their missiles collide with the canyon walls.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Gurney frequently refers to Paul as "young pup", and in turn Paul calls him "Gurney-man".
  • Age Lift: In the novel, Paul is introduced as 15 years old and ages approximately three years over the course of the story. This is increased to 18 in the adaptation, to be closer to Alec Newman's 26 at the time of filming.
  • All-Encompassing Mantle: The Spacing Guild representatives wear purple velvet-ish capes. However, these just keep going up and up into giant purple-velvetish cones.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Arranged marriages are standard between noble houses.
    • Lady Jessica is Duke Leto's only companion, but he never officially took her as a wife so that other noble houses would always have the hope of him marrying one of their daughters and forming an alliance.
    • The Bene Gesserit are furious with Jessica for having a son instead of a daughter because they planned to wed the Atreides daughter to the Harkonnen heir to end their feud and save both families.
    • When plotting the downfall of the Atreides, the emperor laments that he won't be able to marry Irulan to Paul if their plan is successful. Paul does wind up marrying Irulan at the end to claim the throne, but everybody recognizes this is a pro forma relationship and Chani is his true wife.
  • Always Night: Giedi Prime. Presumably following the book's explanation that the planet is fouled with pollution.
  • And Starring: The opening cast roll ends "with Matt Keeslar as Feyd and Saskia Reeves as Jessica".
  • Animal Motif: The Atreides symbol is a hawk and the Corrino symbol is a golden lion. At the dinner party scene in part one Paul mockingly mentions that the Harkonnen symbol is a griffin, and that they should really be 'House Hog'. These representations are all from the novel series, although the Harkonnen griffin symbol was only established retroactively in the fifth novel in the series.
  • Aside Comment: After the Baron survives Leto's attempt on his life, he crows his victory looking straight at the camera, seemingly talking to the audience.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Despite his general contemptible qualities, the Baron Harkonnen is actually very clever. When Feyd attempts to poison him, the Baron not only avoids the poison but apparently kills the assassin — one of his servants — with his own hands.
  • At Least I Admit It: A variation when the Baron is briefing his nephews on The Plan. Feyd-Rautha rightly points out that the other Great Houses will protest the destruction of House Atreides. However, the Baron counterargues that as a very popular man, Duke Leto's consequently and correspondingly accrued the same level of resentment and jealousy. The other Great Houses, like the Baron, will thus actually be glad to be rid of Leto – though unlike the Baron, they’ll never publicly admit it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When the emperor tells Irulan that she will one day need to grow up and stop being so naïve, she warns him that he may not be happy when she does.
  • Black Comedy: When a dying Dr. Yueh says "You think you've defeated me?", Baron Harkonnen just nods while silently mouthing, "Oh yes."
  • Blasphemous Boast: When the Baron survives Leto's attempt to poison him, he crows that this is proof that god has favored him over the Atreides.
  • Bleed 'Em and Weep: Downplayed after Paul's duel with Jamis. He manages to keep himself together until the funeral, but starts to cry when he has to speak about what he 'learned' from Jamis. This has a great impact on the Fremen, as it is noted that he 'gives water to the dead', something with great significance in their culture.
  • Body Double: Very briefly, when some Fremen from another tribe show up and ask to see Muad'dib, Stilgar steps forward as though it is him to see what their intentions are. When they say they want to learn from him, Stilgar steps aside and Paul comes forward.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Irulan viewed the party she attended on Arrakis as the start of a potential relationship with Paul, and was haunted when she learned of his fathers death and how her father used her to help bring it about. She was even spurred to begin her own investigation into the plot and lay her own political machinations. Paul, however, apparently never gave Irulan another thought after that night, and when they meet again at the climax he gives no indication that he even remembers her.
  • Cain and Abel: The Baron Harkonnen deliberately fosters a rivalry between his nephews, forcing Rabban into the role of brutal oppressor on Arrakis so that he can replace him with Feyd as a 'benevolent' ruler afterwards.
  • Challenging the Chief: Fremen culture requires a leader to prove their worth by killing the previous leader to take the role. When Paul has put off challenging Stilgar for official leadership of their tribe, since everybody knows Paul will win and he doesn't want to kill his most loyal and capable subordinate, Stilgar himself says that Paul has to do it in order to be fully accepted by the people.
    No man recognizes leadership without the challenge of combat.
  • Character Tics: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen has a distinctive habit of rubbing his right temple when he is frustrated. Later on, Paul Atreides does this himself, demonstrating the family connection between the two.
  • Child of Two Worlds:
    • Dr. Kynes explains to Paul and Leto that he is accepted in both sietch and village, since he is a Fremen in service to the emperor. Among the Fremen it is even something of a proverb, since it is noted that "Liet serves two masters".
    • Jessica and Chani argue over how to raise Leto, Chani and Paul's son. Chani wants him to be raised in the customs of the Fremen, while Jessica wants him prepared to entire noble society.
    • Much of Paul's identity is tied to the Atreides name and family, but he learns that he is also a Harkonnen. Jessica is the unknown daughter of the Baron himself, so Paul and Alia are his grandchildren.
  • The Chosen One: There are two distinct prophecies surrounding Paul. By some measure they both come true, and are simultaneously also both false.
    • The Bene Gesserit are engaged in a centuries-long breeding program to create the Kwisatz Haderach, a being who can access areas of the human genetic memory which even they cannot reach, and will have more powers besides.
    • The Fremen believe in the coming of the Mahdi (Messiah), the son of an offworlder and a Bene gesserit who will lead them to "true freedom".
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Harkonnens wear red, the Imperial Corrinos are purple and gold (likely a reference to the purple togas worn by Roman emperors), the Atreides primarily dress tan and white, Fremen wear brown and dark orange, and Spacing Guild members are always in black.
  • Combat Breakdown: Paul and Feyd's knife fight has them throwing punches and kicks after one, then the other, is disarmed. Though they pick up their knives again to finish it.
  • Commonality Connection:
    • Princess Irulan tries to connect with Paul by describing how similar their lives are as isolated children of nobility who are bound by the system.
    • Paul and Chani do not begin to grow close until after Chani learns of Liet's death, and Paul hears Stilgar say how much she loved her father.
  • Compelling Voice: The Voice is a technique of the Bene Gesserit to compel obedience. It is heard as the Voice of the Legion, although only to its target.
  • Composite Character: Name-wise at least. In the book, the name of Imperial ecologist and Fremen leader Dr. Kynes is Liet Kynes, son of Pardot Kynes. In the miniseries, his name is Pardot Kynes, and "Liet" is his Fremen name the same way that "Muad'Dib" is Paul's.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Sections of the novel had to be removed during the adaptation. CHOAM is completely absent, and Thufir Hawat is killed during the Harkonnen invasion of Arrakis. This removes a lot of the economic conflicts, and the entire plotline of Thufir on Giedi Prime manipulating (And being manipulated by) the Baron and Feyd-Rautha.
  • Conspicuous Consumption:
    • Paul's room in the opening scene is festooned with water, including multiple filled pitchers and a bowl with rose petals for fragrance/washing. On Caladan, where they are leaving, water is commonplace and affordable and this display would just be comfortable. On Arrakis, where they are going, it is as valuable as spice and this casual presentation is unbelievably ostentatious.
    • The palace on Arrakis has large fountains set up at the entrance for visitors to wash their hands when they arrive. It was a custom of the Harkonnens for those same visitors to splash water on the floor, which would then be mopped up and sold. Jessica specifically notes that this is a custom meant to demean the natives, and she orders it stopped.
    • There is a section of the palace on Arrakis filled with offworld plants, which require so much water to survive that they could keep many inhabitants alive for years. This room is kept as-is, unlike the water-selling custom, but Jessica has it announced that it officially belongs to the people of Arrakis and the Atreides are now only its custodians.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: The Atreides have trouble comprehending just how precious water is on Arrakis. When Stilgar spits on Duke Leto's desk, Paul steps forward and thanks him for the 'gift of water' when the other Atreides personnel are infuriated at the apparent insult.
  • Creepy Uncle: The Baron rapturously watches a naked Feyd-Rautha emerging from a swimming pool, and makes several comments about Feyd and other young men.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Paul and Chani's son is named "Leto", after Paul's father.
  • Deadly Euphemism:
    • The Fremen frequently talk about the water within a human body, since water is so scarce that they reclaim it even from dead bodies. The phrase "take their water" and variants therefore means to kill somebody.
    • The Baron has to walk a very careful tightrope when it comes to having the Atreides killed, since he has to be able to honestly say that he didn't order their deaths in the event that he is ever questioned by a truthsayer. He has to give a series of oblique orders to his personnel so that they get the obvious instruction, but he doesn't actually say it.
  • Dead Star Walking: William Hurt gets top billing as Duke Leto Atreides, despite his character getting killed at the end of part one (of three).
  • Decapitation Presentation: A child boastfully holds aloft Rabban's head after he has been hacked to pieces.
  • Deflector Shields: Personal shields exist in the setting, but they are only seen once at the beginning when Paul and Gurney are sparring, and once at the end when the emperor raises one around his palace. They are mentioned occasionally, but are not used on Arrakis because they attract sandworms and stir them into a frenzy.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Baron Harkonnen, though considerably toned down in comparison to the book and the 1984 film. Feyd even tries to exploit this to have him assassinated by sending a young man to seduce him and stick him with a poisoned needle... hidden underneath the skin of the boy's inner thigh.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: When Liet-Kynes is left in the desert to die, a spice-blow erupts just as he realizes that he's right on top of it and begins screaming, "I am a desert creat-". We cut to other characters seeing the eruption from a long ways away.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • Thufir Hawat is killed off much earlier than in the novel, dying from an explosion during the fall of the palace.
    • Duncan Idaho is killed by a 'thopter-launched missile, instead of falling in a knife/sword fight buying time for Paul and Jessica to escape. He stays behind with the same intent, but is killed pretty much immediately after they part ways. So while they do get away, his death was pretty much a Senseless Sacrifice because he barely slowed down their pursuers.
    • Rabban's death is depicted onscreen, while in the novel it is only vaguely described afterwards.
  • Divide and Conquer: The Harkonnen plot involves getting the top personnel among the Atreides to suspect each other of being the traitor working from the inside.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The series opens with Paul having a prophetic dream, composed of both fantastic imagery and also direct clips from later in the series. He has additional dreams throughout the series, each containing different elements of the future.
  • Duel to the Death:
    • Paul is challenged to a fight by Jamis, one of the Fremen, who feels shamed by how easily Paul disarmed him when they struggled and blames it on witchcraft. Paul initially thinks the fight is only to first blood, and even asks Jamis to yield after the first cut, and is shocked to be informed that it is to the death.
    • The Fremen expect and demand Paul to challenge Stilgar, as Fremen culture requires combat to prove the worthiness of a leader. Paul refuses because it would be stupid and self-defeating to kill his most loyal and competent subordinate.
    • The miniseries climaxes with a duel between Paul and Feyd-Rautha.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • The Fremen ritual of reclaiming water from a body is accompanied by the friends of the deceased speaking of how the deceased helped them and their tribe.
    • When Paul retrieves his father's cremated remains, he reverently places the skull in a stone recess and orders all Fremen who pass by to honor him.
  • Elite Mooks: The Sardaukar are the troops of the emperor, and are regarded with such fear that their presence is viewed as a threat.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV wears very elaborate outfits even when he's just working in his study or meeting with his advisers. This is different from the book, where Shaddam IV wore an ordinary Sardaukar officer's uniform with no decoration other than a black helmet even at official state functions.
  • Evil Gloating: When his Mentat wants to Kill Him Already!, the Baron argues that rubbing Duke Leto's face in his own defeat is the entire point!
    Piter deVries: Perhaps we should get on with it then?
    Baron Harkonnen: Get on with it? THIS-IS-KANLY, Piter! Vendetta! And I am going to savor every minute of it. My family has hated the Atreides for generations. They have been the sand in our eyes, the stink at our meals. These arrogant Atreides, always standing in our way. I want Leto to appreciate the beauty, of what I have done to him. I want him to know that I, BARON VLADIMIR HARKONNEN, am the instrument of his family's demise, the extinction of House Atreides, and the ascendance (Milking the Giant Cow) of House Harkonnen.
  • Exact Words: The Baron needs to be able to honestly say that he did not order the death of Paul and Jessica, and that he doesn't know what ultimately happened to them. So, he has his people strand them in the desert instead.
  • Faceless Goons: Harkonnen troops sometimes wear black masks as part of their uniform. In one scene, when the Fremen have captured several of them and are considering whether to kill them or not, Paul lifts one of the masks to show the sobbing face beneath it.
  • False Flag Operation: To conceal the emperor's involvement, his Sardaukar are disguised as Harkonnen troops when they invade Arrakis.
  • Fantastic Drug: Spice, the most valuable resource in the universe. Its benefits are numerous, including granting perfect health (And an extended lifespan), euphoria, and even precognition. The precognition is what makes space travel possible, as the Spacing Guild uses it to navigate the ships.
  • Fat Bastard: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is gluttonous, sadistic and perverted. He is so overweight that he needs an antigravity harness to move.
  • Flash Step: The "weirding way" is portrayed this way in combat, moving faster than the eye can see to dodge attacks and maneuver around opponents.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: The series is titled Dune - Il destino dell'universonote  in the Italian release.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Paul sees Chani in his prophetic dreams before he sets eyes on her in reality.
  • Gladiator Games: Feyd forces captives to fight him in single-combat to keep himself in training and put on public shows. He easily wins the fight we see and executes the slave at the end. Later in the series, the Baron mentions that Feyd has had 100 gladiator arena fights.
  • Glowing Eyes: Excessive spice consumption causes a person's eyes to turn blue, and they are also portrayed as glowing in the dark.
  • Group-Identifying Feature: Sardaukar have a triangular raised mark on the skin on the back of their neck. This is used to identify them even when disguised in another House's livery.
  • Guilt-Induced Nightmare: Baron Harkonnen is haunted by images of Paul in his dreams after the initial takeover on Arrakis.
  • Guns vs. Swords: The Fremen are primarily a knife-fight culture, and are so skilled that they overwhelm the gun-toting Harkonnens with ease. This is a legacy from the novel where knife-fighting is the primary means of combat galaxy-wide.
  • Honey Trap: Irulan sends one of her handmaids to Giedi Prime to seduce Feyd and pump him for information. When she herself attends Feyd's birthday celebration she seduces him as well, but after she gets the information she was looking for she passes him off to her handmaid and sneaks out of the room.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Fremen ride sandworms as a standard mode of transportation. Catching one for the first time is a Rite of Passage before they become teenagers.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Compared to the previous adaptation. Jessica and Leto and later Chani and Paul are shown naked in bed together, while the 1984 film had them clothed in equivalent scenes. Paul sees the Fremen, including Chani, strip off their stillsuits without regard for gender or modesty by offworlders' standards. The sietch's "spice orgy" is depicted as both communal religious ecstasy and a literal orgy. Feyd-Rautha is shown naked from behind and ministered to by topless, near-naked slaves.
  • Human Resources: On Arrakis, water is reclaimed from all dead bodies, both friend and enemy. The Fremen believe that a man's flesh is his, but his water belongs to the tribe.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: When the Baron survives Feyd's attempt on his life, Feyd is worried that he is going to be killed immediately. The Baron reassures him that he would already be dead if that was the case.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: There is no cannibalism in the series, but offworlders do discuss the Fremen custom of retrieving the water from their dead. Offworlders liken it to drinking blood, while the Fremen see it as reclaiming a resource for the tribe that the dead person no longer has any need for. It is their custom that a man's flesh is his, but his water belongs to the tribe.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Frank Herbert's Dune.
  • It's Personal:
    • Most of the time Leto discusses the plots and schemes around his family and Arrakis in a calm, almost dispassionate tone. He only loses control after the assassination attempt on Paul, where he is furious that the Harkonnens almost took the life of his son.
    • Baron Harkonnen is emphatic that his vendetta with the Atreides is not simply motivated by politics or economics, but a burning hatred that has simmered between their families for centuries.
  • I Want Them Alive!: After the assassination attempt on Paul, Thufir orders that the assassin be captured alive for questioning. When Gurney finds and kills him instead (he was elsewhere when Thufir gave the order), Leto notes that this could mean that he is the traitor and is trying to cover his tracks.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Dr. Kynes is killed by a spice blow in the middle of his rant "I am a desert creature!"
  • Kill Him Already!: Piter tries to get the Baron to kill Leto as soon as he is in their custody, but the Baron instead rants that this is pointless if Leto doesn't realize the full scope of the Harkonnen victory.
  • Klingon Promotion: Fremen culture stresses victory through combat, and the victor in a Duel to the Death receives the position and titles of the loser. This includes leadership of the tribe.
  • Left for Dead: Paul and Jessica are stranded in the desert by the Harkonnens to die because the Baron needs to be able to honestly say that he did not order their deaths.
  • Living Lie Detector:
    • The Bene Gesserit can detect when somebody is lying based on body language and tone that are indistinguishable to normal people. Paul, who has received Bene Gesserit training, spends his first scene deducing his mother's mental state from her tone and other miniscule clues.
    • Powerful nobles often have Bene Gesserit "Turthsayers" in their court. This has lead to a very practiced style of giving orders obliquely so that, if questioned, people can honestly deny having given a specific order.
  • Living Motion Detector: The hunter-seeker used by assassins has very poor 'vision', so it has to track its target by movement. When Paul and a servant are trapped by a hunter-seeker, Paul commands the servant to remain perfectly still. The Shadout Mapes distracts the seeker when she unknowingly enters the room, and Paul grabs and destroys it when it focuses on her movement.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Unlike in the book, the Baron doesn't reveal the identity of the House Atreides traitor while briefing Feyd on The Plan. On a Meta level, this is meant to not spoil the reveal that it's actually Wellington Yueh (since readers of the book find out who The Mole is early on and the literary dramatic tension thus plays differently). In universe, it can probably be justified by the Baron exulting in his own cleverness and for operational security reasons. Given Rabban's presence at the briefing in this version, it's probably not a bad idea to withold such crucial information from someone as stupid and impulsive as the Baron's other nephew (a precaution that's vindicated after Rabban goes Leeroy Jenkins trying to assassinate Paul).
  • Lonely at the Top: When Princess Irulan tries to connect with Paul by pointing out their similarities, Paul angrily lashes out that after the party is over she will return to her lavish palace. She in turn retorts with all the problems that come from such a lavish life and being a pawn of the emperor.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: The timespan of part two is not made explicit, but it is long enough for the Harkonnens to solidify control over Arrakis, for Paul and the Fremen to begin a campaign of guerilla warfare against them, and for Paul to begin training the Fedaykin in the weirding way for the coming greater war. However, Jessica's pregnancy never comes to term, and never even advances enough for it to be visible to those around her.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Jessica's parentage is unknown to her, as it is to most Bene Gesserit, but after gaining access to their ancestral memories Paul learns that she is the daughter of Baron Harkonnen himself.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Yueh is visible very faintly as a reflection in the window Leto is staring out of moments before Yueh tranquilizes him and is revealed as the traitor.
  • Meaningful Funeral: After the duel between Jamis and Paul, the Fremen go through the ceremony to reclaim his water. During the ceremony, everybody who knew Jamis has to stand and speak about how he helped them and the tribe. They expect Paul to speak as well, and despite his only contact with the man being killing him, Paul speaks about how Jamis taught him what it means to kill someone.
  • Meaningful Rename: The Fremen give Paul a new name after he is adopted into their culture. He chooses "Muad'dib", which is the Fremen name for the mouse he saw in the desert.
  • Mercy Kill: When Rabban is surrounded by a horde of Fremen, he sees Stilgar there with a gun and manages a twitchy, bare-bones smile at the thought of such a quick death instead of being hacked to pieces. Instead, Stilgar turns his back and walks away.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Baron Harkonnen makes the arms-raised hand gesture several times when in the midst of a grand speech.
  • Mini Series: This adaptation presented the story in three parts instead of as a single film. This was the first of the Sci-Fi Channel's big-budget miniseries events, which became an annual event on the channel after the success of this release. It received a sequel, Children of Dune, which adapted that titular novel combined with Dune Messiah.
  • Money Is Not Power: The trope is discussed and debated throughout the series. The Harkonnens are wealthy from their previous stewardship of Arrakis, but the Atreides note that this cannot buy them respect or the type of influence that Leto has amongst the other noble houses. However, Leto's own popularity breeds resentment, so those noble houses which respect him are silent — or even assisting — when the Harkonnen move against him. Ultimately, money does bring power, but not enough to counter everything else.
  • Mundane Luxury: Water is the most valuable commodity on Arrakis.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the novel, "Soo-soo sook!" is identified as the call of water-sellers on Arrakis. This is never explained in the series, but it is heard in the distance just before Jessica puts a stop to the custom of selling water leavings at the palace door.
    • The Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles are completely absent from the adaptation, but it is mentioned once as "CHOAM" when the representative of the Spacing Guild lists all the treaties and decrees which protects him.
  • Never Found the Body: After Paul and Jessica fly into a sandstorm, Feyd reports to the Baron that they are dead. The Baron presses the issue and asks if Feyd has seen the bodies, but Feyd just reiterates that no one survives a sandstorm. When Feyd later tells the story to Irulan she also asks if he saw the bodies, only for him to again insist that they must be dead.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Paul and Jessica fly into a sandstorm when escaping the Harkonnen forces, and their pursuit breaks off and reports them as dead because everybody knows it is impossible to survive an Arrakis sandstorm. Needless to say, they survive.
  • Not Worth Killing: The story has an unusual variation, where they're not worth being killed by Paul. Chani begins intercepting and killing the Fremen who came to challenge Paul because she thinks they do not merit a death at his hands. She also hopes that if they think they'll be killed by 'Paul's woman' and not Paul himself there will be fewer challengers coming to seek glory.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The emperor is confident of victory over the Fremen when he first comes to Arrakis, and believes that holding Alia hostage gives him leverage over Muad'dib. When the Fremen launch their assault on Arrakeen — destroying the Shield Wall to let in a sandstorm, riding through the opening on sandworms, and launching an air invasion as well — it cuts back to the emperor successively losing control.
    • When Rabban sees that he is surrounded by Fremen, he manages a bare-bones twitchy smile when he sees Stilgar there with a gun. When Stilgar turns away and leaves him to the horde, Rabban's small smile disappears and he screams to the heavens.
  • Proverbial Wisdom: Paul tries to quote an ancient aphorism at his father that "Danger and opportunity [are] often the same thing", but Leto tells him that this isn't a philosophy test and he can't just quote old sayings.
  • Quick Nip: By the third part, Paul is fully addicted to the spice and needs ever-increasing amounts to maintain his prescience. He is frequently shown partaking from a small case that he carries with him, often taking spice even in the middle of conversations.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Baron Harkonnen has Dr. Yueh killed after he betrayed the Atreides. He points out that you can never trust a traitor, not even one you created yourself.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: In this adaptation, Baron Harkonnen has this as a coda to his scenes.
    "By the time the traitor is fully revealed, the fate of Atreides will already be sealed."
    "So let the emperor mock House Harkonnen, call us swine. Because in the end his throne will be mine."
  • Rite of Passage: Fremen children ride their own sandworms by the age of twelve. It is the last Fremen custom for Paul to master, and afterwards everybody expects him to call out Stilgar.
  • Scenery Porn: Whatever the budget might have been, the interior sets of the palaces look gorgeous (well, except for the Harkonnen's Stylistic Suck, but that was intentional).
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Leto orders a spice harvester abandoned to save the crew when the carryall is late for the pickup. When the crew themselves protest because they almost have a full load, Leto dismisses this out of hand because they can always get more spice later, but not replace the lives lost.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Feyd-Rautha has a sequence emerging from water on Giedi Prime, which is made creepy as he is ogled by his uncle.
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • At the start of the series there are stories of "Liet" as a leader among the Fremen, but it is not clear if he is one man, a group of men, or even purely legendary.
    • Muad'dib's story is vague and filled with rumors when it reaches the emperor's palace. Irulan presses a spy for concrete information, including any sort of description, but he cannot even confirm that he is a real person.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Arrakis is a desert world, with no naturally occurring surface water outside of its small polar ice caps.
  • Skyward Scream: Rabban lets out a throat-tearing scream as he is being hacked to death by the Fremen.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Much of the conflict is framed as the effete, arrogant nobility of the Galactic Empire versus the savage, desperate Fremen.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Jessica is pregnant with Leto's child when he is killed by the Harkonnens. She gives birth to Alia while living with the Fremen.
  • Space Clothes: Costumes were extravagant throughout the series to establish allegiance and clearly divide the separate cliques. This included giant hats for the Bene Gesserit and Spacing Guild.
  • Take a Third Option: The Fremen expect Paul to challenge Stilgar in combat to take leadership of their tribe. Paul doesn't want to kill his most loyal and capable subordinate, but refusing to follow the traditions will undermine his position. Instead of either going through with the challenge or letting his authority be undermined, Paul claims that he is in charge not because he is a Fremen chieftain, but because he is the Duke of Arrakis regardless.
  • Taking You with Me: Dr. Yueh gives Duke Leto a poison capsule hidden inside a false tooth so that he can at least take Baron Harkonnen with him when he dies. Unfortunately the Baron survives.
  • Taunting the Unconscious: During the confrontation between Leto, Baron Harkonnen, and Piter de Vries, Leto is awake and sitting upright but paralyzed, and can only watch as Dr. Yueh is disposed of by the Baron's men. Piter tries to get the Baron to go ahead and just kill Leto, but the Baron instead gloats about how he will bring about the destruction of House Atreides. Leto releases the poison gas in his fake tooth, killing himself, Piter, and the Sardukar surrounding them, but the Baron is able to float away before the gas can reach him.
    Piter: Perhaps we should get on with it then?
    Baron Harkonnen: Get on with it? THIS-IS-KANLY, Piter! Vendetta! And I am going to savor every minute of it. My family has hated the Atreides for generations. They have been the sand in our eyes, the stink at our meals. These arrogant Atreides, always standing in our way. I want Leto to appreciate the beauty, of what I have done to him. I want him to know that I, BARON VLADIMIR HARKONNEN, am the instrument of his family's demise, the extinction of House Atreides, and the ascendance of House Harkonnen.
  • Technicolor Eyes: A result of high-level Spice addiction, when enough ingestion saturates the bloodstream and stains the eyes blue.
  • Test of Pain: The gom jabbar test requires Paul to place his hand inside a box which causes excruciating pain, keeing with the book's description of Paul thinking that the flesh is burning off his hand. As he does this, Reverend Mother Mohiam holds the gom jabbar (a needed coated with a lethal poison) to his neck, with the test being to overcome his instinct to remove his hand and escape the pain. He succeeds, but storms out of the room once Jessica re-enters, furious with her and the Reverend Mother for not being told what would happen.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Paul is shocked and horrified after he kills Jamis in their duel. At the ceremony to reclaim Jamis' water, when the Fremen speak about the ways that Jamis helped them and their tribe, Paul speaks about how Jamis taught him what it means to kill somebody.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Everybody can see that moving the Atreides to Arrakis is part of a plot by the Harkonnens, but Duke Leto goes along with it in the hopes that in realizing it is a trap he can avoid the danger.
  • Truer to the Text: The miniseries takes some liberties with Frank Herbert's book, but compared to the 1984 David Lynch movie and the 2021-24 Denis Villeneuve duology, its fidelity is nigh-slavish.
  • Try and Follow: Paul and Jessica escape Harkonne pursuit by flying into a sandstorm, because everybody knows it is impossible to survive an Arrakis sandstorm. Their pursuers pull away and report them as dead.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The emperor sent Irulan to Arrakis as a gesture of goodwill to trick the Atreides into believing that he wasn't actively working against them. Irulan had no idea, and even thought this might be the beginning of a relationship between her and Paul.
  • Victory by First Blood: Paul thinks that his duel with Jamis is only to the first blood, and asks Jamis to yield after the first cut. He is shocked when informed that it is to the death.
  • Voice of the Legion: How The Voice is portrayed.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Sardaukar murder Paul and Chani's child when they invade their sietch.
  • With Due Respect: When Leto orders a spice harvester abandoned to save the crew, the crew themselves argue 'with all due respect' that they have almost a full load of spice that would be lost. Leto orders them to forget the spice and save their own lives.
  • Wronski Feint: Paul manages to dodge Harkonnen missiles by flying into a canyon where the missiles collide with the canyon walls.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Dr. Yueh betrayed the Atreides to the Harkonnens because the Baron had his wife hostage, and promised to free her if he cooperated. When the Baron shows Yueh her body, he says that he is a man of his word: She is free of her life.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Frank Herberts Dune, Dune


Gurney almost kills Jessica

Gurney Halleck, thinking the Lady Jessica was the traitor, tried to kill her. He is horrified and over come by guilt to find out she wasn't.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / MyGodWhatHaveIDone

Media sources: