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Only Blizzard could reinvent the RTS.
Ubisoft's (StarCraft 's distributor in France) Tagline for the game.
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Warcraft... IN SPACE!note 

Initially released in 1998, StarCraft took the Warcraft style of gameplay that had made Blizzard famous and adapted it to a 26th century setting. It is perhaps most notable for being one of the best-selling and most widely-played computer games to be played competitively.

As the story opens, Terran civilization is embroiled in a civil war between the ruling Terran Confederacy and the rebel Sons of Korhal when Zerg infestations begin appearing on several worlds. As the Zerg quickly overtake the unprepared Terran outposts, Protoss battle fleets begin attacking the infected worlds as well, destroying all life on them to prevent the infestation from spreading. Arcturus Mengsk, leader of the Sons of Korhal, learns that the Zerg are attracted to psychic energy, and begins deploying "Psi Emitters" into Confederacy bases to bring down Zerg attacks upon them. By doing so, he ultimately destroys the Confederate capital of Tarsonis and takes control of the Terran government, declaring himself Emperor, but his lieutenant — former Confederate Ghost Sarah Kerrigan — is lost in battle and becomes infested by the Zerg. In her new form, she lends her psychic powers to the Zerg's already impressive numerical strength and turns it against the Protoss, managing almost to conquer the Protoss homeworld of Aiur before two warring Protoss factions, the Khalai and the Dark Templar, join forces with a group of Terran exiles to destroy the Overmind.

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Three Expansion Packs, Brood War, Insurrection, and Retribution were released in 1998. Brood War added new units and a continuation of the campaign, wherein the Protoss have to escape their Zerg-overrun homeworld, a new Terran faction invades the sector and the remaining Cerebrates attempt to resurrect the Overmind. Amidst all of the action, Kerrigan swoops in time after time to ally herself with everyone in turns, pitting them against each other and eventually making herself the Queen Bitch of the Universe by beating her weakened enemies in battle. Insurrection and Retribution were not made by Blizzard, not widely available, and generally regarded as Canon Discontinuity. Considering they don't really affect the canon and just focus on minor characters doing random stuff, it doesn't matter.

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StarCraft shipped with a map editor that was extremely versatile for its time, giving the user control over almost all of the game's mechanics. Members of the community have produced maps easily on par with those included in the official campaign, even including voice-overs in some examples. StarCraft was also one of the first games to utilize Battle.net, Blizzard's proprietary multiplayer matchmaking system, which streamlined a process that previously had required using third-party clients, and created a climate that has kept StarCraft popular to this day.

On March 26, Blizzard announced an Updated Re-release under the name Starcraft Remastered, which was released on August 14, 2017. In July 2019, Blizzard released Starcraft Cartooned, an optional reskin of Remastered that makes the game into a cartoonish version of itself, visually inspired by Starcrafts, but with identical gameplay.

As of April 21, 2017, Starcraft 1 is now free.

A Game Mod Fan Remake of the game for Starcraft II called Starcraft Mass Recall was made that has its own page.

This series also has its own Shout-Out page here. For more information on professional teams and their members of Starcraft 1 and 2, look under real time strategy folder in Professional Gaming.


You Require More Tropene Gas. Construct Additional Examples:

  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Most of the Goliath's Stop Poking Me! quotes.
  • Activation Sequence: At the end of the Protoss campaign for Brood War, Artanis and Zeratul are activating the Xel'Naga temple, which is comprised of them placing the Uraj and Khalis crystals in some kind of power stream, giant arms emerging from the ground around the temple before they emit a wave of energy that wipes out all the Zerg on the planet.
  • Aerith and Bob: Main characters from StarCraft included Jim and Arcturus.
  • The Alliance:
    • Raynor's Raiders and the Protoss. Literally used in the RPG that hardly anyone knows about.
    • For a while, Kerrigan, the Dominion and Raynor formed an alliance to fight the UED. Then Kerrigan betrayed them when she got strong enough to go it alone.
  • All There in the Manual: Literally; the story assumes you already know the histories and social organizations of the factions from the huge lore section in the manual and so doesn't explain any of the background in the game itself.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Zerg invasion of Aiur, and the UED appropriation of Char in "Brood War". It was short, though.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Terran Ghosts are left-handed while Terran Marines are right-handed. This is not true when they face left.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: this is how Fenix dies in a cutscene. He's attacked by a Hydralisk, but powers up his Psi-blades to fight back. His blades suddenly flicker out, and the scene cuts out with a clear Oh, Crap! expression on Fenix's face.
  • Anyone Can Die: Brood War in a nutshell. In the original game, only three named characters die, and two of them died during the ending. Brood War on the other hand has Aldaris and Stukov die in the first two episodes, then in Episode VI we deal with the deaths of Fenix, Duke, Raszagal, and DuGalle, and Word of God is that Daggoth and all the other Cerebrates were killed off over the course of Brood War too. By the end of the expansion, almost half the major characters of the series were dead.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: In addition to having to build supply depot/pylons/overlords to increase your unit cap, the cap itself is capped at 200. Notably, each unit takes up a different amount of that cap — Zerglings take up only half a point of control, while arming a nuclear silo consumes eight points of supply. Additionally, each of the three caps is tracked separately; if (through Protoss mind-control or custom map shenanigans) one is able to build units of multiple races, they'll have their own 200-point cap to work with.
  • Arm Cannon: Firebats have wrist-mounted flamethrowers.
  • Ascended Meme: Official Russian dub of the game has a Ghost calling the Overmind "Nadmozg" (roughly "Abovebrain") in the final Terran mission in Brood War, referencing the infamous "Blind Idiot" Translation from one of the early bootleg localisations, which became a well-known meme, even outside of the game's community.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Individually, Battlecruisers are these because they only fire a single shot with low rate of fire (despite being supposedly armed with laser batteries), unless you mass a fleet of them and hotkey-Yamato-Cannon everything. They were primarily used against other Terran players in the 1v1 tournament scene, but saw occasional use against Zerg players as the professional Meta Game evolved (they were mainly vulnerable to Plague and Dark Swarm though). They saw the least use against Protoss opponents because Protoss spell casters were especially suited to efficiently neutralizing a fleet.
    • Nukes were at the same level of tech as Battlecruisers, but by the time you actually get the required tech to build Nuclear Silos, build the Nuke itself, train a Ghost and upgrade it to the point it can sneak into the opponent's base undetected to launch said Nuke, your opponent will have detector units to spot your ghost and kill it before the Nuke finishes targeting. Also, good luck getting that sort of tech without your opponent scouting and seeing it.
    • The Dark Archon's Mind Control ability. First you need to research it at the Templar Archives. Then you need to get a Dark Archon up and running by training two Dark Templar and merging them. THEN you need to wait until said Dark Archon gains at least 150 energy of its 200 cap (it starts with 50 upon creation). Your reward is an ability that permanently transfers a single unit to your control, albeit at the cost of 75% of the Dark Archon's energy AND, uniquely, ALL of its shields (it only has 25 HP, meaning it will die to a stiff breeze at this point). It's not impossible to make this work - you can mind control a big unit (robbing an opponent of a carrier/ultralisk/battleship AND adding it to your own forces is a significant boon), nab a transport (which also gets you any units inside), or, for the truly insane, try and nick a worker unit (which allows you to start building a base/army of that race, complete with separate headcount limit) - but it takes a lot of effort to apply correctly and is generally more trouble than it's worth. That being said, at the professional level, some players have occasionally stolen a Terran SCV and worked Siege Tanks into their build, pairing them with Arbiters' Recall to create a potent strike force, and wowing the audience watching the game. However it's still anyone's game.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Played with. The original Terran campaign and the very ending of Brood War end with a new leader coming to power and giving a speech...except in both cases, it's a villain who is taking over, not a hero.
  • Back from the Brink: Brood War, Terran Mission 5, is subtitled "Ground Zero". They give you a huge army a few seconds before Mengsk's entire nuclear arsenal lands on it. If you don't try Sequence Breaking, you'll end up with a few marines, some workers, and a burning command center. You'll then proceed to rebuild your base and pound Mengsk's base, spanning most of the map, back to the stone age.
    • From a story perspective, the first two or three scenarios of the Zerg campaign of Brood War are this, as the UED has taken control of most of the Zerg in the Koprulu Sector, and their Psi Disrupter has nearly annihilated the last of Kerrigan's forces on Tarsonis.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • The Protoss campaign sees the player start back at the start of the tech tree with only basic units. While this is justified for the first two missions, since you're refugees who just fled Aiur, once the Khalani have connected with the Dark Templar, there's no reason why the tech tree shouldn't be fully unlocked again. The campaign repeatedly Hand Waves this — Technobabble is the reason air units aren't allowed in the fourth mission, and the final new unit for the Protoss was outlawed until the seventh mission, and in that mission a Civil War is why some other tech options are disabled. No explanation is given for the third mission, though.
    • The UED hijacks a large fleet of Dominion Battlecruisers in their second mission. You'll never see them again except in cinematics.
    • A notable aversion occurs in the Zerg campaign. In the third mission, Kerrigan asks her allies to go on a "fuel raid" for her, and the objective is to gather 10,000 minerals, with the optional objective to infest enemy Command Centers for use in the invasion of Korhal. In the next mission, you start off with those 10,000 minerals, and any Command Centers you infested will be located in your base.
  • Being Evil Sucks: "For the first time since my transfiguration, I am weary of the slaughter."
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The end of the base game's campaign, leaning into bitter. The Overmind and most of its cerebrates have been successfully defeated, however, Tassadar performs a Heroic Sacrifice to do so, Aiur has been devastated, and the remaining zerg forces avert No Ontological Inertia, continuing to be a huge problem into the expansion pack.
    • Kerrigan's victory at the end of Brood War. The only things that keep this from being an outright Downer Ending are (a) that the UED was established as the main Big Bad in Brood War until several story twists shortly before the end, (b) that enough Protoss and Terran forces may be still around to eventually rebuild and become a match for Kerrigan's forces again, and (c), Kerrigan is no longer working directly with the villain, Samir Duran.
  • The Black Dude Dies First: Downplayed in the Battle of the Amerigo cinematic, where the black Malkovitch instead dies second.
  • Black Humor: Lots. The best comes from Raynor during the final battle against the Overmind.
  • Bleak Border Base: The game begins on the "fringe worlds" of human space, explicitly considered backwater dumps by inhabitants and core worlders alike (and have the strongest Deep South IN SPACE! vibe).
  • Boring, but Practical: Contrasting with the above, while each race has a variety of expensive, micro-intensive late-game units with unusual special abilities that can change the rules of the game in any number of ways, a lot of multiplayer games will be decided (and practically entire single player campaigns can be quite easily won) by using mass amounts of very basic units. There's almost nothing a Terran player can't accomplish with a big enough blob of Marines and Medics, a Zerg player can't with almost a hundred Hydralisks, or a Protoss player can't with enough Dragoons. In the single player campaign, this also applies at the other end of the scale (on levels that allow the player to turtle at their leisure) if you just mass up a couple dozen of top-tier fliers (Battlecruisers, Carriers, or, for the Zerg, a Guardian/Devourer combo) then attack-move in the general direction of the enemy base and go get a cup of coffee only to return to the victory screen. This is extremely unlikely to work in a skirmish game, though.
  • Boxed Crook: About three-quarters of the Confederate military and virtually all of the Dominion military are 'resocialized' criminals who were sent from the penal system straight to the front line. Raynor's Raiders, however, is an all-volunteer force, and the UED military simply conscripts from their civilian population, although both regimes have proven that criminal is a stretchable term and often includes harmless people that didn't agree with the government enough.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: If you manage to beat "The Reckoning" mission in under 25 minutes (without typing in "there is no cow level" cheat), you are rewarded with "Dark Origin" hidden level, which cannot be accessed otherwise and which is hardly a walk in the park. It is a no-base-building mission and you get pretty modest starting force, so you have to micro-manage it very carefully, keeping your units alive and making good use of their special abilities (mainly Mind Control) in order to beat obstacles on your way and gradually increase your attack force in order to break through increasingly tough defences of your opponent on the way. However, your efforts are rewarded with The Stinger, giving a hint to Duran's true identity and revealing his real motivations.
  • Cap: If you use the "Staying Alive" Cheat Code (which allows you to continue playing after victory or defeat flags are triggered) in the ninth Terran mission of the original game, you'll face an endless rush of infinitely-spawning Zerglings. If you allow them to live, eventually some limit will be reached, and the game will crash.
  • Choose a Handicap: In Brood War, the Terran mission before the assault on Korhal tasks you with destroying either Mengsk's Nuclear Silos or Physics Labs to cripple his nuclear arsenal or Battlecruiser fleet instead. However, the player isn't given time to destroy both, so they're more or less being asked whether they'd rather let Mengsk start the next mission with a massive nuclear arsenal or a fleet of late-game ships.
  • Civil War v. Armageddon:
    • In the Terran campaign, the Sons of Korhal are battling the Confederacy of Man due to preexisting enmities (the Confederacy glassed Korhal in retaliation for a prior rebellion) as the Koprulu Sector is being overrun by the Zerg, who are themselves being targeted by the Protoss heedless of the Terran lives they snuff out. Of course, then Arcturus Mengsk starts using stolen Confederate tech to pit the Zerg against the Confederates and things get really messy.
    • During the Protoss campaign, Tassadar is under attack from the Conclave for allying with the heretical Dark Templar, even though the Zerg are a considerably bigger threat. In the final level (the destruction of the Overmind), they finally approve of Tassadar's actions (although as Raynor dryly notes, they don't send any actual help).
  • Colour Coded Armies:
    • In the minimap your forces are always bright green (since dark green is a possible team color), and your enemies are in the color they wear. You can change this so that you = green and enemy = red, either just on the minimap or on both the minimap and the game screen.
    • In multiplayer, each color for the three races is said to be part of a different militia, though it's just for flavor.
    • In the campaigns, different factions can be told apart by their colors.
      • Among the Terrans, the Mar Sara Militia that later becomes Raynor's Raiders is blue, the Sons of Korhal that become the Terran Dominion are red, and the UED are also white. Third-party Terran factions are purple, Terran heroes are teal, and important enemy Terran units and structures are yellow, though they're occasionally teal as well. While they're not seen often, the Confederacy's army branches all have their own colors — Alpha Squadron is white (fortunately, Alpha Squadron and the UED never appear in missions together), Delta Squadron is orange, and Omega Squadron is brown.note 
      • For the Zerg, each Brood has its own color — Leviathan Brood is blue, Garm Brood is orange, Tiamat Brood is red, Jormungand Brood is purple, Baelrog Brood is white, and Grendel Brood is brown. Since Jormungand was the Brood Kerrigan was reborn into, purple is adopted as the color of her Zerg in Brood War. Unique Zerg units and structures are often red, as Tiamat Brood is said to be the Swarm's Elite Army with specialized Zerg breeds.
      • With the Protoss, the Khalai Protoss use yellow as their primary color and occasionally blue, Tassadar's forces and the Dark Templar are blue, and Protoss hero units are teal. The Judicators, the leaders of the Protoss race, use red as their primary color and orange as a secondary color. In Brood War, the Khalai refugees are brown and others survivors they find as they flee Aiur are yellow, and once they reach Shakuras and join with the Dark Templar, the Protoss the player commands are the Protoss Warband, colored blue. Then some of the Khalai instigate a Civil War and use brown while the leader of the rebellion is yellow.
  • Combat Tentacles: Sunken Colonies and Lurkers.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the first game's campaigns, the computer gets free resources. Also, the AI has full map knowledge of what is going on, with no need to scout. Justified because the AI is mostly a stimulus-response program, although a Zealot Rush from it is infuriating.
  • Continuity Nod: The force title "Fleet of the Executor" is used for the Player's side all throughout the Protoss Campaign of the original game. The title gets used again in Brood War only during the final Zerg mission, as the name of the Protoss force Artanis is leading; because Artanis is the Executor from the original game.
  • The Corps Is Mother: Implied for the Confederation/Dominion Ghost Program. Said program enforces it by mind-wiping its trainees. Sometimes twice, although the memories may still be present but locked away. Regardless, the results are usually insanely loyal, or just insane.
  • Crosshair Aware: A tiny blinking red dot means someone's about to drop a nuke there, though it helps that they give a "Nuclear Launch Detected". Justified in that it's caused by a Ghost using a laser targeting pointer to direct the missile to its target.
  • Cryo Sickness: The Terran campaign for Brood War opens with your Non-Entity General being offered a dose of "Cryostimm" to combat hibernation sickness.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The Zerg are far more fragile in cutscenes than in-game, often getting killed with only a few barrages of gunfire that would hurt but not kill them. In-game cutscenes (that is, scenes on the maps that aren't pre-rendered) often boost the attack strength of units so they can destroy enemies in a single shot for dramatic effect, like Kerrigan have her strength boosted to 500 damage so she can kill Aldaris. The Battle of the Amerigo cinematic also depicts Marines making use of additional weaponry that could be expected of modern soldiers (such as an underslung grenade launcher, or a pistol) while in-game they are only capable of firing their gauss rifles or injecting a stim pack to fire their rifles faster.
  • Custom Uniform: The Marines in cutscenes tend to have writing or drawings on their armor. For example, Malkovitch in the Amerigo ending cinematic clearly has a woman's breast drawn on his armor.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: The acidic attack from Zerg Devourers.
  • Danger Deadpan: The Wraith and Dropship pilots.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Dark Templars, outcasts of the Protoss race. The Khalai Protoss consider them The Heretics who nearly destroyed the protoss way of life, but its all been blown out of proportion by horror stories passed down through the generations for the last thousand years. In reality the Dark Templar are actually nicer than the Khalai Protoss, seemingly not as dogmatic, and most (but not all) genuinely want to help their Khalai brethren.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Protoss Carrier uses four Interceptors to attack enemies which can be doubled to Eight for increased damage output.
  • Deep South: The Confederacy is clearly a look-alike of the Confederacy from the Civil War complete with the "Rebel Flag" displayed in cutscenes, and the only named Confederate general from the game speaks with a strong Dixie accent, as do many of the Terran units.
  • Desert Skull: There are all sorts of bones and skulls in the randomly-generated desert terrain tiles.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The 6th mission in Episode V. The UED's enemies are fleeing to a warp gate from the ruins of their base, the UED is ready to intercept them, all is going according to plan. And then cue the Zerg sweeping in as Duran quite obviously betrays the UED. The enemies escape, the UED retreats, and Stukov goes missing.
  • The Dissenter Is Always Right: Zasz is an obnoxious lieutenant in the ranks of the alien race. He spends the first half of the campaign being obviously jealous because The Overmind has chosen Kerrigan as his ultimate creation. When Zasz protests that the Protoss are setting up an obvious trap and Kerrigan is falling right into it, nobody else listens, but he turns out to be right—though he also dies in the process.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Duran. Just when you thought you know his duplicity after he is revealed as The Mole in UED ranks and agent of Kerrigan, he suddenly abandons her out of nowhere near end of the game. In "Dark Origin" hidden mission, it turns out that he only pretended to be Kerrigan's servant while actually pursuing his own sinister goal, claiming to be serving "far greater power".
  • Driven to Suicide: DuGalle.
    "Dearest Helena, by now the news of our defeat has reached the Earth. The creatures we were sent here to tame are untameable, and the colonies we were sent to reclaim have proven to be stronger than we anticipated. Whatever you may hear about what has happened out here, know this: Alexei did not die gloriously, in battle. I killed him. My pride killed him. And now my pride has consumed me as well. You will never see me again, Helena. Tell our children that I love them, and that their father died in defense of their future. Au revoir."
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • You. That's right YOU. It's All There in the Manual, but the Player-Cerebrate from the original Zerg Campaign is killed by Tassadar shortly after that campaign ends, when he basically catches Kerrigan in the exact same trap that got Zasz killed midway through the same campaign. All the other Zerg Cerebrates, unable to live without the Overmind, die between Brood War and the sequel as well, which includes the second Cerebrate you play as.
    • Similarly, the UED captain you play as is presumably killed when the fleet was destroyed. However Wings of Liberty showed that a few UED soldiers survived the onslaught, notably the Spartan Company who became Goliath mercenaries after the defeat of the UED, but no word on whether or not the player character did.
  • Dying Candle: The scene where Lester and Sarge are ambushed ends with their flashlight flickering out.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Played for humor in the cutscene with Lester and Sarge, when they're swarmed by a group of Zerg:
    —Lester: I love you, Sarge!
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Assuming you play the Brood War missions in order, you can use a Dark Archon to Mind Control a Zerg Drone which is able to build anything in the eighth Protoss mission, including Lurkers and Devourers (which won't be introduced until the fifth and sixth missions of the Zerg campaign).
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • This game has unlimited Vespene Geysers technically, as depleted geysers still allow two Vespene units to be harvested per trip. This mechanic was dropped for Starcraft II where depleted refineries turn red and don't allow any further harvesting.
    • This is the only game with the very restrictive Concussive damage type that deals 100/50/25% to light, medium, and large targets respectively. This was dropped in the sequel in favor of all units dealing a baseline damage and having a possible "+# bonus damage to (armor type)" system, prevening anti-personelle units from being excessively weak against the wrong types.
    • You may select a maximum of 12 units and only 1 structure at a time. II did away with unit selection limits and adjusted the game balance around this. Many of these improvements were first implemented in Warcraft III with the exception of the unit selection cap removal.
  • Easy Level Trick: Several missions can be beaten fairly easily within the first couple minutes.
    • Original Terran 7, "The Trump Card," is where the player is first given the Science Vessel. The mission requires the player to bring an SCV carrying a Psi Emitter to a beacon in the middle of the Terran Confederate base. However, the mission can be beaten in about a minute using your starting Science Vessel to cast Defensive Matrix upon the SCV holding the Emitter, and rush to the beacon.
    • Original Zerg 2, "Eggression," has a similar objective to Terran 7 where the player has to bring a Drone carrying a Chrysalis to a beacon that's behind enemy Protoss lines. However, the level provides the player with a large enough starting army (3 Hydralisks, 2 Mutalisks, and 6 Hunter Killers) to just blitz through the Protoss defenders along the path to the beacon to clear the way for the Drone and finish the mission in about a minute.
    • Original Protoss 5, "Choosing Sides," requires the player to bring Tassadar and 2 Zealots to a beacon that's deep within a Zerg base. By utilizing the starting Shuttle you're given along with using Tassadar's Hallucination skill to make 4 Shuttle illusions, the player can board Tassadar and 2 Zealots into the starting Shuttle, and make a quick beeline to the beacon. The 4 Shuttle illusions soak up the damage from the Zerg anti-air in order for the real Shuttle to drop Tassadar and the 2 Zealots onto the beacon. Thus, beating the mission in about a minute.
    • Original Protoss 7, "Homeland," requires the player to destroy the 'Heart of the Conclave,' which is basically to destroy all the Nexuses of either the Red or Orange enemies. There's only one Orange Nexus on the map deep in their base, which thanks to their permanent invisibility, the player can use Zeratul and the 4 Dark Templar to sneak along the bottom of the map to destroy Orange's Nexus right away before an enemy Observer can reach Zeratul and the Dark Templar in time to reveal them. Thus, beating the mission in under a minute.
    • Brood War Protoss 4, "The Quest for Uraj," requires Kerrigan to reach the Uraj crystal beacon that's deep within Terran Dominion territory. However, thanks to Kerrigan's cloaking skill, and a decent amount of health to soak up damage, a crafty enough player can work an invisible Kerrigan along the path to the beacon to complete the mission in about a minute.
    • Brood War Protoss 7, "The Insurgent," requires the player to kill the real Aldaris that sits on a high-ground platform deep within one of his bases. This is the level where the player first receives Dark Archons, which they start with 2. A player quick enough can race to mind control an enemy Shuttle that's always seen transporting a unit across the map at the start of the level. With the Shuttle mind-controlled by the first Dark Archon, the player will then use it to drop the second Archon onto the high-ground of the enemy base, and then quickly head to Aldaris' location to mind control him, which technically completes the mission as mind controlling Aldaris counts as killing him. Performing this entire sequence finishes the mission in about a minute.
    • Brood War Terran 1, "First Strike," is based around the player using a safer backdoor path suggested by Duran to bypass the frontal Dominion base defenses in order to destroy the enemy Command Center. However, the most that you actually need to quickly finish the mission is Duran, your two starting tanks, and your starting marines. The player rushes to Duran's base at the start for the gas geyser, gathers up enough gas to research Siege Mode, and then rushes along the backdoor path towards the objective with Duran and the two tanks. What makes the strategy work is that the enemy base's mineral line blocks the backdoor path out of their base other than one tiny gap, which a cloaked Duran can be put within the gap to block the enemies from bypassing. Set up your two tanks behind Duran with the marines protecting them, and you can easily siege down the Command Center from a safe distance due to the Duran wall keeping the enemy units stuck in their base. At most, this whole sequence takes about 3 minutes to complete.
    • Brood War Terran 5, "Emperor's Fall," has this with the ground version. The level requires the player to destroy Mengsk's Command Center deep within his base. An event at the beginning of the level occurs where many Dominion Ghosts come in and nuke the UED's starting base; including a large group of reinforcements that the UED brings in. However, players quick enough can research Spider Mines and build up at least 2 Vultures to place mines around the base to kill a majority of the ghosts. Several mines in the right spots will result in a majority of the UED reinforcements being saved, which the player can then use said reinforcements to beeline for the Command Center objective along the most open flight path of the map, and destroy it within the first couple minutes of the level.
    • Brood War Terran 6, "Emperor's Flight," requires the player to destroy a Terran Command Center deep within a Protoss base. This mission brings back the Science Vessel rush where the player can load up all the starting forces within the beginning Dropships, which said Dropships are then all provided Defensive Matrix from the starting Science Vessels in order to rush into the Protoss base and drop all the forces upon the Command Center to destroy it. Thus, completing the mission in about a minute.
    • Brood War Zerg 2, "Reign of Fire," requires the player to destroy the Psi Disruptor structure that's deep within a UED Terran base. However, the mission has a unique little side-objective going on where the player can use an SCV carrying a Psi Emitter to gather up some unique Zerg to fight for ya (3 Devouring Ones, 6 Hunter Killers, and even TORRASQUE). Gathering up these starting elite units are more than enough to easily break into the Terran base and destroy the Psi Disruptor within the first 5 minutes of the level.
  • The Empire: The Terran Dominion, and the United Earth Directorate. Also, the Protoss before the fall of Aiur.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: The Dark Archon's Mind Control let's you instantly take any unit hit by this ability. Notoriously devastating against the expensive, high-end units such as the Terran Battlecruiser.
  • Enemy Mine: Rampant, especially in Brood War.
  • Evil All Along: Mengsk at the end of the first campaign in the base game, and the "free of the Overmind's control" Kerrigan after just a few levels in Brood War.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Terran Dominion vs. the UED vs. Zerg Swarm, Kerrigan vs. renegade Cerebrates, Sons of Korhal vs. the Confederacy.
  • Exact Words:
    • Stukov used this with regards to the Psi Disrupter. First he sent Ghosts to relieve Duran of his duty and to "facilitate the Disrupter's disassembly," and later he told Admiral Dugalle that the Psi Disrupter "has been accounted for." Which was true, but what Stukov didn't mention was that after "disassembling" the Psi Disrupter, he had the pieces shipped to Braxis and rebuilt.
    • Later invoked by Kerrigan, when she abducts Raszagal in order to blackmail Zeratul and Dark Templars into killing the second Overmind. She promises that she would "allow" the matriarch to return to her people once Zeratul has done the job and actually fulfills that promise... What she did not mention, however, is that she had corrupted Raszagal much earlier, and the latter, although allowed to do so, does not actually want to rejoin her people, preferring to stay with her "queen" instead.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Sarge does this while telling Lester about Zerglings and their pack-hunting tactics.
    Sarge: It's a Zergling, Lester. Smaller type of Zerg. But one of them wouldn't be out this far unless... Oh shit.
  • The Federation: The Confederacy is essentially an evil version of this, being at least nominally a federal, democratic republic, especially in contrast to the openly Imperial Terran Dominion.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Protoss ground units include the zealot (basic melee attacker), high templar (Glass Cannon spellcaster) and dark templar (Glass Cannon ninja).
  • Floating Head Syndrome: They just used a Protoss head, then Kerrigan's head in the expansion, up front on the cover. The Protoss head was clustered with other less visible heads, one for each species, no less. Originally there was three different floating head covers, but apparently the Terran and Zerg faces were soon discontinued in favor of Protoss.
  • Foreshadowing:
    "So the Zerg are here for you, darlin'?"
    • And not too long after that, even more ironically:
      "I don't need to be rescued. I know what I'm doing."
    • Then in the expansion:
      "He will always be a traitor in my eyes, and you know I cannot abide a traitor."
    • When Duran chastises DuGalle, his voice at one point sounds distinctly inhuman.
    • If you listen very closely at the very end of the original game's opening cinematic, you can hear Zerg squealing in pain as the Protoss incinerate Chau Sara.
    • Kerrigan's mind-reading ability. At one point when Raynor is particularly angry at her, she says "Tough talk, Jimmy, but I don't think you have what it takes to be a killer." She is right.
  • Forgot About the Mind Reader: Kerrigan, a psychic, ripping into Raynor.
    Kerrigan: Captain Raynor, I've finished scouting out the area, and… you pig!
    Raynor: What? I haven't even said anything to you yet!
    Kerrigan: Yeah, but you were thinking it.
    Raynor: Oh yeah, you're a telepath. Look, let's just get on with this, OK?
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe:
    "I think the female ghosts have nicer equipment."
  • Full-Circle Revolution: The Terran Dominion, formed from the Sons of Korhal after their victory over the Confederacy, is far more brutal, oppressive and corrupt than their predecessors. The fact that the Sons' faction color is red (and the Confederates' Alpha Squadron was white) further underscores this, recalling a certain incident in Russia...
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • "New Gettysburg" ends with Kerrigan radioing for evac as a massive wave of Zerg crushes the Sons of Korhal. Even if she's in a Dropship fleeing well away from the fight, and your forces are successfully holding off the Zerg just fine.
    • Also, the opening cinematic of Brood War. Because of the cliff, the soldiers' trench defenses should have been well-protected from the Zerg. Provided there were no ramps....
    • Also, the Xel'Naga Temple is supposed to wipe out ALL of the Zerg from Shakuras ... unless if they're your Zerg (Dark Archons can mind control Zerg units and you're capable of building the entire Tech tree in this mission, unlike Mission 6).
    • Fenix is killed in a cut scene when his light sabre weapon malfunctions or runs out of battery or something. However this is not possible in game. Then a Terran marine runs out of ammunition in the Brood War intro, but in game marines have unlimited ammo.
    • After the final Protoss mission, Tassadar sets his Carrier on a collision course for the Overmind, believing this to be the last, best chance to destroy it once and for all. There is a dramatic cinematic scene showing the ship surrounded by Zerg units as it flies into its target. This happens even if you wipe out every last Zerg on the gameplay map, and should be able to destroy the Overmind at your leisure.
    • Kerrigan at one point says that Raynor doesn't have it in him to be a killer. However, unless the player has been deliberately holding him back to conform to this statement, Raynor has likely already killed quite a few people.
  • A God Am I: Kerrigan during an assault on Char.
  • Gonk: Even for the standards of the time, Lester and Sarge are remarkably ugly.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: At the end of Brood War, Admiral DuGalle writes a farewell letter to his wife detailing what lead to the UED's defeat and what really happened to Stukov, and ends the letter by asking her to tell their children that he loves them and that he died in defense of their future before wishing "Au Revoir". He then loads a gun and points it to his head with the screen fading to black as he finally pulls the trigger.
  • Gambit Pile Up: In an attempt to model what happens in Brood War, you'll use half the alphabet as placeholders for names only to discover that "E betrays every letter in the alphabet and kills all the consonants" is an accurate description of the events in the game. Then Y turns out to have been playing E from the start, E being Kerrigan and Y being Duran.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Quite an Averted Trope in the game's cutscenes - plenty of Terran extras' faces can be clearly seen, which doesn't help their chances of survival in the narrative at all. Even Marines, who can wear their visors down which will conceal their face, get shown with their visors up before dying horribly in cutscenes.
  • Heroic BSoD: The unnamed Marine in the Brood War intro cinematic goes through one of these as the Aleksander abandons the battlefield, shortly before his trench is completely and utterly Zerg Rushed.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the final mission of the Brood War Protoss campaign, the player must defend against waves of Zerg for a time limit. This becomes much easier with the help of a Dark Archon, who can Mind Control a Zerg Drone and let the player mutate their own Zerg to control. Turns out the Zerg are really good at fighting themselves; Lurkers chew up Zerglings and Hydralisks, and Devourers with the help of Corsairs and Mutalisks can shred even the mightiest fleets in moments.
  • Hold the Line: The third Terran mission.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: Kerrigan, with regard to Arcturus in Brood War: "We can't afford to let petty hatreds jeopardize our plans for the UED." True. Kerrigan's "plans for the UED" were specifically to destroy the Psi Disrupter on Braxis and the UED base on Korhal, and she couldn't afford to let a grudge against Arcturus get in the way of that. Then: "The only thing I can assure you of, Arcturus, is that without my help, you'll be the Emperor of your own little eight by eight cell for the rest of your life."
  • Hufflepuff House: Both the Kel-Morian Combine and the Umojan Protectorate get no screen time in the original game, beyond a blurb in the manual. The Combine was later elaborated on in Brood War, but Umoja doesn't make an appearance until Heart of the Swarm.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Subverted. Mengsk invokes this when he states that he and his followers will take anything is necessary in order to save humanity, even to the point of luring billions of Zerg against Confederate forces, regardless of the civilian caught in the middle. However, it turns out in the end that he is just a power-hungry dictator who wants to rule the sector or see it burnt to ashes.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Everyone gets a turn to hold it throughout Brood War when it comes to Kerrigan. Too many people that are her enemies — those people being everyone, really — trust her and believe she's reformed, or don't consider her a serious threat, and it allows her to come to power by manipulating everyone else against each other while growing her own power. Kerrigan herself lampshades that everyone underestimated her capabilities and are going to suffer for it.
    • Picked up by the commander in Brood War, Terran mission 5a (Emperor's Fall: Ground Zero). You're told well in advance that Mengsk will use his nuclear arsenal to destroy you, since you didn't eliminate it in the previous mission. Ghosts are needed to deliver nuclear strikes. Do you have any detectors, such as missile turrets, in your base? No. Do your scripted reinforcements include any science vessels? No. Mengsk takes advantage of this to nuke every square inch of your base and all your reinforcements. However, you the player can avert it by lifting off your base to dodge the nukes, or researching Spider Mines and placing them before the Ghosts come to save a bit of your reinforcements that are scripted to be nuked.
  • I Have Many Names: Samir Duran in his conversation with Zeratul.
    Samir Duran: I've had many names throughout the millennia, young prodigal. You would know me best as Samir Duran.
  • I Lied: Spoken verbatim by Kerrigan in response to Mengsk's furious protest upon her suddenly breaking their alliance and turning on him without a warning.
    Mengsk: Kerrigan, you murdering bitch! We had a deal!
    Kerrigan: Oh, come on, Arcturus. Did you really think that I'd allow you to come into power again? You practically fed me to the Zerg on Tarsonis! You're directly responsible for the hell I've been through! Did you honestly think I'd let you get away with that?
    Mengsk: But you said revenge was secondary to defeating the UED!
    Kerrigan: I lied. I liberated this planet because it was the UED's primary staging point, not because I was under any obligation to you. I used you to destroy the Psi Disrupter, and now that I've got my Broods back, you're no longer necessary for my plans.
  • Instant-Win Condition: The single-player campaign ends the missions in your victory when you fulfill the objectives, anything else is trivial. If your objective is to destroy a key enemy structure, no matter what you do you won't win until you destroy that structure. In a timed survival mission, as long as you have at least one building left when the timer is up you win, even if your base has been overrun by this point. Also, with the exception of two or three missions that have optional objectives, your performance in a mission has absolutely no bearing on the next, for better or worse.
  • Ironic Echo: In the original game Tassadar uses Kerrigan's ego against her to distract her while Zeratul assassinates Zasz. At the end of the mission he tells her that "she is her own worst enemy". Echoed by Kerrigan herself in Brood War when she betrays the Dominion and the Protoss after defeating the UED on Korhal.
    Kerrigan: You Protoss are so headstrong and predictable. You are your own worst enemies.
    Fenix: That's ironic. I remember Tassadar teaching you a very similar lesson back on Char.
    Kerrigan: I took that lesson to heart, Praetor. Are you ready to die a second time?
  • Isometric Projection
  • I Will Show You X!: In one of the missions in the original Terran campaign:
    General Duke: You're the last folks I've expected here. What's your angle, Mengsk?
    Jim Raynor: Our angle? I'll give you an angle, you slimy Confederate piece of sh-
    Arcturus Mengsk: Jim! Enough! I'll take care of this.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: When the UED first encounters Samir Duran, he claims to be The Remnant of old Confederate forces still fighting the Dominion. Admiral DuGalle immediately sees through this and calls him out for the far more plausible explanation that Duran has simply turned traitor against the Dominion to save his own hide. Duran is a traitor, but rather than betraying the Dominion for survival he instead betrayed the UED for Kerrigan, Kerrigan for Amon, and ultimately the Xel'Naga for Amon.
  • Kill It with Fire: The point of the Firebat.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A frequent source of comedy in annoyed dialogue...and even some cutscenes.
  • La Résistance: Raynor's Raiders, the Sons of Korhal before Mengsk forms the Dominion, Tassadar and the Dark Templar.
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: In the terran campaign, Mengsk uses the Zerg invasion to help himself gain power.
  • Magitek: Protoss units and structures are powered by their psionics.
    • The Ghost's cloak also utilizes psychic energy. No word on how the entirely mundane Wraith fighter manages it, though.
  • Man in the Machine: Protoss Dragoons.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The Terrans are the only faction whose melee fighter and ranged fighter switched tech tiers. Zerg and Protoss start with melee and gain a ranger later. Furthermore, Terrans are also the only faction without a "build radius" mechanic. Lastly, the Terran ground spellcaster (the Ghost) is the only "mage" to have a basic attack.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Quite a few examples occur throughout the campaign. All in all, the entire game is this, featuring three races which are further divided in-universe into various political factions, usually hostile to each other.
    • Story-wise, the entire Sons of Korhal's rebellion against Terran Confederacy is one, being a four-way struggle between the rebels, Confederacy, Zerg Swarm and Protoss fleet, multiple sides fighting on the same battlefield simultaneously more than once — most notably, during the fall of Tarsonis. Later, there is a war on Char between Zerg Swarm settling there, invading Terran Dominion force, Protoss pursuing their own goals and — briefly — Raynor's Raiders. In Brood War, you've got Terran Dominion versus Protoss expedition versus UED three-way battle on Braxis and Kerrigan fighting against renegade Zerg Cerebrates while also facing the UED Expeditionary Fleet, which is also engaging said renegade Zerg in order to claim the new Overmind. They eventually succeed, effectively merging two opposing factions and forcing Kerrigan to battle them both while also fighting her former Protoss and Terran allies.
    • Gameplay-wise, penultimate mission of Terran campaign in original game pits you against Zerg and the Protoss at the same time, said two factions being canonically antagonistic to each other as well (though they never actually fight, preferring to focus on you instead).
    • The "Emperor's Flight" mission in Episode Five, where you play as the UED commander against Renegade Zerg and Protoss remnants on Aiur, who will attack both you and each other. When you meet your mission objective, the battle is suddenly joined by fourth party — namely, intervening Kerrigan's forces.
    • And "The Reckoning" mission, which concerns Kerrigan attempting to destroy the Protoss expedition before they manage to flee from Char, as well as fighting what remained of local UED garrison (though again, two computer players will focus on you and not fight each other in practice).
  • Metagame: At the professional level, Starcraft's Metagame is very evolved.
  • Mobile Factory: Most of the Terran buildings. Some Protoss units (the Reaver and the Carrier) attack with smaller units that they produce.
  • Monster Munch: Lester and Sarge. They're a pair of luckless Confederate troops who appear in a single cutscene that ends with them being killed offscreen by a pack of Zerglings and Hydralisks.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Battle of the Amerigo cinematic sees the demolition team slowly entering the poorly-lit ship while forboding music and ambient noises play through out, and then reveals their nuclear charge after they drop its container and opens its lid by slowly panning over it...also revealing they've stored beer cans and ice in the container as well after which one marines quips "Thank God for cold fusion." The quipping marine gets a hydralisk spike through his face and a Vertical Kidnapping thirty seconds later and the demolition team is quickly overwhelmed by hydralisks mobbing them and forced to set off their nuclear charge to explode the ship, the zerg, and themselves.
  • Multiplayer Difficulty Spike: The AI is fairly predictable in the campaign, but custom game computer players can be anywhere from "really dumb" to "scary effective and stupid fast".
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Even when they should be focused on defending their home planet from a full-blown alien invasion, The Protoss Conclave decides that the trial and execution of Tassadar, who has been deemed a heretic to their Khalai traditions, is a high-priority.
    Tassadar: Arrest me!? Aiur burns at the touch of the Zerg... and you've come all this way... to arrest me?!
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Sarah Kerrigan starts calling herself the Queen of Blades after being infested by the Zerg.
    • It's also not particularly hard to deduce that an organization calling itself "the Confederacy" might not place much emphasis on freedom and human rights. Ditto for the Dominion.
  • News Reel: The UED victory report, heavily inspired by the propaganda videos from the Starship Troopers movie.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In chronological order:
    • In the original Terran campaign, your actions end up putting a new power-hungry madman into power and getting Kerrigan infested by the zerg. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, as the Confederacy was just as corrupt and not only caused the whole Zerg invasion in the first place, but was unable to do anything about it.
    • Zeratul who kills a Cerebrate with his psychic powers, which briefly links his mind to the Overmind, revealing the location of Aiur and causing the downfall of the Protoss homeworld. According to the novels, four years later he's still in solitude feeling guilty for that and being forced to kill Raszagal. And really, who can blame him?
    • Defeating Aldaris' rebellion in the Protoss campaign. Another case of damned if you do, damned if you don't, since even though Aldaris had good reason for this insurrection, if it had went on, it would probably have crippled the Protoss forces to the point of no return and caused a long and bloody High Templar/Dark Templar war, which would have left the whole Protoss species easy prey for Kerrigan or the UED.
    • Helping Duran get to Stukov during the UED campaign.
    • Killing the second Overmind allows Kerrigan to become the unchallenged Zerg Hive Queen. On the other hand, if the Overmind had been allowed to mature, it would have reassumed complete control over the Swarm, only this time under the control of the UED. And then comes Wings Of Liberty, and it turns out the Overmind was just trying to prepare a defense against the Xel'Naga's ancient enemy. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, times three.
  • Non-Entity General: Mostly played straight, though supplemental materials eventually reveal that the Protoss executors for the original and Brood War were Artanis and Selendis, respectively. The UED commander especially is something of a mystery if he's meant to be an in-universe character, since at one point he seemingly double-crosses himself in favor of Duran.
  • Noodle Incident: From "The Dark Templar," the sixth mission of Episode II: Overmind, it is clear that Tassadar and Kerrigan had already been acquainted prior to her infestation, though not exactly from when.note  Also, Raynor somehow managed to hijack the Sons of Korhal flagship Hyperion before getting stranded on Char, and that event wasn't described in the game either.note 
  • Novelization:
    • The novel Liberty's Crusade chronicles the original Terran campaign from the point of view of investigative journalist Michael Daniel Liberty, who is embedded with General Duke's Alpha Squadron but breaks away with Jim Raynor to join the Sons of Korhal.
    • The novel Queen of Blades tells parts of the Zerg and Protoss campaigns from Jim Raynor's point of view, as he and Tassadar join forces to fight the Zerg on Char.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Aldaris. He gets better before he rebels and gets killed — by Kerrigan, no less.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Stacking air units was not originally intended to be such a huge part of the game, it was an unintended glitch that made air units, especially Mutalisks, much deadlier than intended. To deal with this, in Brood War all three races got a new anti-air unit that dealt splash damage, making them ideal for rapidly tearing up clumps of enemy air units.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Both UED leaders, Stukov and DuGalle. Sort of subverted by the fact that the UED itself appears to be a bunch of genocidal lunatics.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When Raynor decided to part ways with Mengsk, did he just run off to some other planet to sulk? No, he stole Mengsk's freaking flagship, the Hyperion, and somehow got away with it, apparently leaving General Duke tied up when he failed to defend the ship from Raynor. Unfortunately, this is only mentioned in the novelizations who only describe it in a brief flashback.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In the first cinematic of the Terran Campaign, two rank-and-file soldiers are out in a buggy when they run down a Zergling. They get out to survey the damage and realize it was a trap.
      Lester: You just mashed up some poor fella's dog, Sarge.
      Sarge: It's a Zergling, Lester. Smaller type oF Zerg. They wouldn't be out this far unless... Oh, Shit. * Both turn around to see a pack of Zerg bearing down on them*
      Lester: I love you, Sarge.
    • Fenix when his psionic blades fail him.
    • In "Dark Origin", Zeratul discovers a Protoss-Zerg hybrid.
  • One-Man Army:
    • The Torrasque, a hero Ultralisk unit. Since Ultralisk are extremely powerful units, and since heroic units are beefed up compared to normal units, it's a given that a Torrasque is a force to be reckoned with on even ground.
    • Fenix in True Colors is given such a ridiculous buff to his stats that he could shrug off even ultralisks. In fact he has twice the effective hitpoints as the aforementioned Torrasque and deals 20% more damage than it (and Fenix can attack air units). The reason he's so beefed up? He's one of the two bosses for this level. This is unique for that mission, as in all prior missions where you get to control him he has much more reasonable stats.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Terrans never expected Earth to come crashing into their corner of the galaxy.
  • Precision Crash: Averted in the Terran campaign, where General Duke's battlecruiser crashes in the middle of nowhere but is quickly surrounded by Zerg bases.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: StarCraft started as Warcraft II IN SPACE!, until the devs saw a much more advanced RTS being showcased at a convention. They immediately rebuilt the game from the ground up to become the version known today, and only learned later that the "game" they'd been inspired by was actually pre-recorded footage, with an employee only moving his mouse around as though he were playing.
  • Profane Last Words: Subverted in Brood War. What Vadm. Alexei Stukov meant as his last words to his killer Samir Duran, "To Hell with you!" ended up not being such: he lingered on for about a minute, long enough to reveal to the UED that Duran had been working with the Zerg the whole time.
  • Propaganda Piece: In-Universe — the United Earth Network warns us about ZERG! but we can all rest easy as their homeworld has been occupied.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The Terran and Protoss campaigns dabble in this by virtue of denying the player knowledge that may make them question if the characters are doing the right thing, and not allowing the player the choice to decide if they agree. Whatever your character and their allies do, the narrative usually presents them as doing the right thing.
    • The Terran campaign has a painful instance of this. In the sixth mission, the Norad II crashes in the middle of Zerg territory and General Duke radios for help, asking anyone who can hear to come to his aid. Raynor snorts that it's about time he knows what it's like to be getting his hands dirty fighting the Zerg, and he and Kerrigan are indignant when Arcturus orders them to save Duke. In the very next mission, Arcturus plans to use a Psi Emitter to lure Zerg to a Confederate base and overwhelm them so their forces can escape, and Kerrigan is disgusted by the idea. Her protest "I don't think anyone deserves to have the Zerg unleashed on them" rings hollow when, last mission, she was willing to leave Duke to die to them.
    • The Protoss campaign, the Dark Templar are seen as untrustworthy heretics who were banished from Aiur centuries ago, but why is a case of All There in the Manual. On the other hand, Tassadar trusts them and says they want to help, so the Executor sides with them no matter what the player thinks. The Conclave attempts to arrest Tassadar and the Dark Templar for treason and heresy when he brings the Dark Templar to Aiur, so Tassadar, Fenix and the Executor go to war with the Conclave. In a storyline that hinges on Protoss politics and Jurisdiction Friction between the Templar Caste and Conclave, the player is just along for the ride regardless of what they think of things, and not much time is given in-game to explain how Protoss society is structures and why this war is such a big deal.
  • Puny Humans: Artanis voices this sentiment when flabbergasted that Zeratul has concerns over attacking some Terrans. Zeratul is very quick to put him in his place.
    Artanis: Have faith, Zeratul! You speak as if you fear these humans! What are they to such as we? Was it not we who defeated the dreaded Overmind?
    Zeratul: Yes, Artanis, we did vanquish the Overmind. But we did so with the help of humans. Do not be so quick to underestimate them.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Overmind is dead, hurrah! But the greatest Protoss hero is dead, Aiur is ravaged and lost, the Zerg are still rampaging, Kerrigan is taking over, and the UED has arrived and they hate everyone.
  • Ramming Always Works: Tassadar kills the (first) Overmind by infusing the Gantrithor with dark energy and crashing it into the Overmind.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: In one of his custom taunts, Artanis denies that Starcraft is just "WarCraft in Space", saying "It's much more sophisticated!". Despite StarCraft being the single greatest aversion to that criticism. This is actually derived from an early review of the beta game.
    • Indeed, as one of the developers recounts on his blog Starcraft was initially little more than a reskin of WarCraft II, to be bashed out to plug a gap in Blizzard's revenue stream, and was derisively referred to as "Orcs In Space". After being shut down for a while, it was reactivated when when Real-Time Strategy became the big thing. Displaying the demo at the E3 conference, the developers thought it looked like a sad joke besides Ion Storm's Dominion: Storm over Gift 3, so they scrapped what they had, rebuilt it from the ground up, drove themselves like crazy for two years to make StarCraft good enough to compete and released a game lauded as the standard others would be compared against (ironically enough, said demo turned out to have been a fake).
  • Red Shirt: Appearing in a cinematic is usually quickly lethal for any Terran extras.
  • Resource-Gathering Mission: The Kel-Morian Combine mission in Brood War tasks you to obtain 10,000 minerals and a bonus objective to infest command centers, both of which are given to you in the next mission (and infesting a command center gets you extra resources).
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Played straight with Tassadar and the Dark Templar, but so very, very subverted by the Sons of Korhal.
    • Also played straight with the recently formed Raynor's Raiders, who appear in Brood War.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin
    • Mengsk: The seeds of a new Empire have been sewn...
    • Kerrigan: I've insured the destruction of the renegade Cerebrates, and I used you to do it.
  • Separate, but Identical: Played with, actually. During the battle with Aldaris' rebel troops, he has exclusive access to the Khalai Archon, Arbiter and High Templar units while you get exclusive access to Corsairs, Dark Templar and Dark Archons. The UED has exclusive access to Valkyries and Medics, any time you fight the Dominion in Brood War, you'll never face these units. The two also show distinct preferences in their troop formations when fought as AI opponents, DuGalle relying more on air units and Mengsk preferring ground units.
  • Sequel Hook: The "Dark Origin" bonus mission — which takes place before the ultimate mission "Omega" and which is accessible only if you destroy Protoss base in "The Reckoning" in under 25 minutes — follows Zeratul investigating sinister experiments conducted by an unknown Terran group on a dark moon. Eventually, he discovers that those efforts are led by none other than Duran — who reveals himself as a servant of far greater power, only pretending to be Kerrigan's pawn — and geared towards creation of Protoss/Zerg Hybrids. According to Duran, those Hybrids were already seeded on many planets and will be awakening soon, bringing upon the The End of the Universe as We Know It.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • As told above, Terran 7 in the original campaign involves you having an SCV bring a psi emitter to an enemy's base. Provided you know the map well enough to send it the right way, and have a science vessel cast defense matrix on it, you can do this right at the start of the map and win within 30 seconds.
    • In Protoss 7, your stated mission objective is to destroy "the heart of the Conclave". In reality, taking out all Nexi of any hostile Protoss player (red or orange) is an Instant-Win Condition in this scenario. At the far southern edge of orange base, you can find a route past all their defenses with no detectors, allowing your cloaked Dark Templar to slip in and destroy the Nexus easily. Alternatively, you can just launch open attack on both red (outer) bases and destroy their Nexi, without even getting close to the Conclave. Given the story going on, however (to clarify: the battle canonically ends not with either side's victory, but with Tassadar deliberately surrendering himself to the Conclave in desperate attempt to stop the violence), this may have been made possible by design.
    • In the Brood War Terran 5A (Ground Zero) Mission, you're giving a fairly advanced base and a flood of reinforcements, including Battlecruisers, right from the start, only to have it all destroyed by a Nuke Barrage. Against the design team's expectations, you do actually have enough time to research Spider Mines (which detect and blow up on cloaked units, like Ghosts) and lay a few to lessen the damage from the nuclear barrage or lift your buldings up and out of the way, allowing you to keep at least most of your considerable starting assets.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: There's an In-Universe example, with an Earth Propaganda video showing the alien Zerg forces taking planet after planet, indicated by red arrows in space.
  • Stock Scream: The Howie Long scream when you click on the Terran Academy.
  • Story Branching:
    • Brood War's Terran campaign branches briefly during the invasion of Korhal based on whether in the previous mission you destroyed Mengsk's Nuclear Silos or his Physics Labs. This has the effect of accordingly denying Mengsk use of either Nukes or Battlecruisers in the next mission, though he'll use the remaining option in an Alpha Strike against your base.
    • The two Enslavers bonus campaigns fork based on choices made halfway through.
  • Stylistic Suck: Several for the Remastered release.
    • Many AI shortcomings of the original game, including the terrible unit pathing, were not improved, so as to preserve the gameplay of the original as much as possible.
    • Unit portraits use Mouth Flaps when talking in mission briefings instead of matching the dialogue, just like the original game.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: The Zerg just take this trope and run with it. The cutscene of the Battle of the Amerigo has a squad of Terran special forces tasked with destroying a Science Vessel, and the Terrans laugh off the possibility of a Zerg attack to the point they're drinking beer stored in their nuclear charge's container. Until one of them dies, courtesy of a Hydralisk scythe to the head. And let's not forget that almost every single Zerg unit can burrow and invoke this trope at will. The Infested Terrans, in particular, explode, dealing massive damage, at least in the campaign.
  • Taking You with Me: The bomb technician in The Amerigo's ending cinematic gets convinced from the urging of one of the other currently surviving members of the demolition team to blow up their nuclear charge while they're still on the science vessel due to the amount of Hydralisks bearing down on them making them all quite doomed anyway, and so he hits the charge's detonation button with a fearful yell.
  • Tempting Fate: Way back in the second campaign of the original game, Zasz declared Kerrigan "would be the doom of us all." From a number of certain perspectives, he was right.
    • The cinematic at the end of "The Amerigo" has two marines that did this. One quips "I got yer Zerg right here" (Jacobs) before he drinks a beer and subsequently gets his skull impaled from behind by a Hydralisk. Another has "Bite me" written on his armor and helmet (Malkovitch) before a Hydralisk approaches from above to, well, bite him.
  • Theme Naming: The campaign titles for each race in the vanilla game and in Brood War are contrasted against each other.
    • Terran: "Rebel Yell" (vanilla) versus "The Iron Fist" (Brood War)
    • Zerg: "Overmind" (vanilla) versus "The Queen of Blades" (Brood War)
    • Protoss: "The Fall" (vanilla) versus "The Stand" (Brood War)
  • Too Dumb to Live: Really, UED, you leave two Marines and a bunch of unarmed civilians to protect the power generators powering the one thing keeping Zerg from overrunning the sector? That's despite the fact that your second-in-command died over it? Also, who with the right mind would think that it is a remotely good idea to place such generators far away from the main base in the first place? And with no backup power of any kind?
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: In the 6th Zerg mission of Brood War, it's possible with enough units and micromanagement to save at least one of the outposts getting overrun by the Renegade Swarm. However, doing this could possibly break the scripting for the level to the point of not triggering the player receiving the new objective to win the mission, which is to kill the UED Scientists.
  • Units Not to Scale / Your Size May Vary: The Dropships, Shuttles and Overlords don't look anywhere near big enough to carry the units they do. Also, the Terran and Protoss capital ships (Battlecruisers and Carriers) are much larger and much, much more powerful in cutscenes than in-game — Science Vessels are implied to be about as big as the Death Star in cutscenes.
    • A Dragoon is about the size of four Marines onscreen and takes the same space in a transport as those four Marines.
    • In a cutscene, it appears that those four marines, standing close together, could probably be squashed by one of the Dragoon's feet.
    • And then there's the hundreds of crew and passengers in a low orbit Battlecruiser...the size of two Dragoons.
    • Also, it seems like the mission where you hijack the battle cruisers with a single pilot each shows that it can at least operate with a one man crew.
    • The mind boggles at the few levels that take place inside a Science Vessel, a unit visibly the same size as a tank. It's a large map. In the boardgame version, the Science Vessel is the smallest piece in the game, even when compared to Marines and Zerglings. That had to have been intentional.
    • In actuality, the mind should boggle on why the Science Vessel and Battlecruisers are the size of a tank or two — in the cutscene about the Terrans blowing up a Science Vessel shows it to be the size of a mountain. The news report cutscene in Brood War shows a whole fleet of Battlecruisers dwarfed by a single Science Vessel.
  • Unscientific Science: Brood War plays fast and loose with how Zerg psionics work to the extent they work the way each individual mission says they do.
    • In the original game, it was well-established that Cerebrates can only be killed by Dark Templar energies. Originally it was presumed this was because the Overmind would reincarnate them otherwise, but in Brood War the Overmind is dead, yet the player is still required to use Dark Templar to kill Cerebrates in the third Protoss mission. You could Hand Wave it as reincarnation actually just being innate to Cerebrates, until the last Terran mission where the UED kills several Cerebrates without the help of Dark Templar. They may have been able to do it because of the Psi Disruptor, but...
    • The way the Psi Disruptor works varies between missions. The final Terran mission, the Zerg broods over Char are said to be in disarray, but the surface broods are just fine until their Cerebrate is killed, at which point they go completely innert. Then in the first mission of the Zerg campaign, the Disruptor's signals hit Tarsonis and send Kerrigan's broods into a violent frenzy, but she can still exert some control over her Zerg to fight back with a handful of them.
    • Using Medics to drug it and Ghosts to do... something, the UED is somehow able to enslave the Overmind and control the Zerg through it. But their control isn't solid, and in one mission, UED scientists are on-site to help maintain their control of the Zerg.
    • As a one-off oddity, in one mission the player is able to pacify Zerg broods on Tarsonis by destroying their central Hives.
    • In the second Zerg mission, the player has to use an SCV carrying a Psi Emitter to scout out feral Zerg so Kerrigan can take control of them, even though Psi Emitters are supposed to lure Zerg to them. But then, its implied the reason they worked is by replicating the psionic patterns of Terran Ghosts, and the Zerg homed in on those kinds of signals because the Overmind wanted to infest a Ghost. Also, once the Psi Disruptor is destroyed, Kerrigan should be able to just sense and control the Zerg herself without help.
  • Vertical Kidnapping: During the Battle of the Amerigo cutscene, one of the marines assigned to destroy a science vessel is killed by a Hydralisk scythe. His body is then dragged to the ceiling by the Zerg.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Confederacy in the original Terran campaign might also count. Also, ''everyone'' except Kerrigan at the end of Brood War.
  • Weaponized Offspring: The Zerg's Queen units could spawn Broodlings.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Protoss Dragoons. These guys won't let even death get in the way of them fighting for Aiur. Although when Fenix gets killed a second time, in Dragoon form, there's no talk of bringing him back to life.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The UED wanted to "pacify" the Protoss, enslave and directly control the Zerg, and destroy the Dominion to rein in the Terran colonies under their banner. Except for the Protoss being destroyed or enslaved, even that is justified considering from the human point of view that Protoss had glassed numerous human worlds.
    • Enslaving the colonists of the Koprulu sector aren't so swell either, especially since it's heavily implied the UED is a totalitarian dictatorship. At best, the UED is no worse than either the Confederacy or the Dominion, who are villains.
    • The Protoss themselves, and specially the Conclave, given their (early) "treatment" of infested terran worlds.
    • Subverted by Mengsk, who looks like this after he decides to use psi-emitters to lure the zerg against confederate forces, claiming that he will do whatever is necessary to save humanity, only to later reveal himself as a villain after all who just wants to take his revenge and rule the sector or see it burnt to ashes around him.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The part of the Zerg campaign where Kerrigan hatches from the chrysalis. Yes, it's now pretty well-known, but that doesn't diminish the initial impact.
    • Episode Six, Mission 5: True Colors. Anyone Can Die is in full effect, with two of the most known characters Fenix and Duke killed by the player.
    • "Dark Origin" hidden mission, which reveals that Duran is a Greater-Scope Villain, who only pretended to be Kerrigan's ally while pursuing his own sinister agenda... the creation of Protoss/Zerg Hybrids, which he had already seeded on many, many planets and which will change the universe upon awakening.
  • Wham Line:
    • The cutscene after "The New Dominion" shows the thing inside the mysterious Chrysalis, which speaks one word at the very end: "Jim?"
    • If you missed that, the Overmind will make things clear when it hatches midway through the next mission, "Agent of the Swarm".
      Zerg Overmind: Arise, my daughter... Arise... Kerrigan.
    • After Zeratul was successfully coerced into killing the second Overmind in "To Slay the Beast" by Kerrigan taking Raszagal hostage, during the mission ending cutscene he demands that Queen of the Blades holds up her end of the bargain. True to her word (she said she would allow Raszagal to return to him if Zeratul killed the Overmind), Kerrigan asks her prisoner whether she wishes to return to her tribe. Raszagal's response?
      Raszagal: No, my queen. I wish only to serve you and remain at your side.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: In one mission of Brood War, a Civilian wakes up with a mutter of "Hey, how'd I get here?" while in the middle of a cluster of supply depots just as they're about to get nuked.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The Xel'Naga temple on Shakuras, with emphasis on the "bomb" part. It is powered by a dark crystal and a light crystal. Once the temple finished charging up, anything zerg was in for a bad day.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens to most of Kerrigan's allies in Brood War: First the Dominion and Protoss forces who helped Kerrigan destroy the UED base on Korhal, and then the player's Cerebrate some time after the Dominion, UED, and Protoss forces are defeated above Char at the end of Brood War.
  • Your Head Asplode: In the opening cutscene of the original game, a Protoss warship fries a ship belonging to a small group of Terran space salvagers, causing the pilot's head to pop like a zit in gory (but mercifully brief) close-up.
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive:
    Kerrigan: And not all of your little soldiers or spaceships will stand in my way again.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Starcraft Brood War

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Coronation of Arcturus Mengsk

In the closing cinematic of the original terran campaign, having decapitated the Confederacy of Man by luring the zerg and protoss to destroy its capital world Tarsonis, Arcturus Mengsk crowns himself Emperor of the Terran Dominion and makes a dramatic speech about the coming new era for mankind in the Koprulu Sector.

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