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Only Blizzard could reinvent the RTS.
Ubisoft's (StarCraft 's distributor in France) Tagline for the game.

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 game 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.


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.


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, 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 comprises 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 facing left.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: this is how Fenix dies in a cutscene. He's attacked by a Hyrdalisk, 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: Per race, which means Protoss can potentially triple it by mindcontrolling enemy workers. You can also hit all three caps by playing the "Team" multiplayer modes.
  • Arm Cannon: Firebats have wrist-mounted flamethrowers.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Individually, Battlecruisers are these because they only fired 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 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 several 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: 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 vs. Evil: Terran Dominion vs the UED vs the Zerg, Kerrigan vs. the Overmind, 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.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Sarge does this while telling Lester about Zerglings. "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 Du Galle, 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 are your own worst enemy.
    Fenix: That's ironic. I remember Tassadar teaching you a very similar lesson back on Char.
    Kerrigan: I took that lesson to heart.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, you're told to destroy "the heart of the Conclave," which means destroying their Nexus is an Instant-Win Condition. At the far southern edge of their 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. Given the story going on, however, 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Really, UED, you leave two Siege Tanks 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?
    • To be fair, they had to occupy Braxis, Char, and Korhal to protect the Disruptor, Overmind, and Dominion capital, respectfully. Considering they first had to conquer all those places, its possible they just didn't have the manpower.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Starcraft Brood War


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