For the SC1 and Brood War subjective tropes, go here. The SC2 subjectives are here.
The series as a whole
- Abridged Arena Array: There are certain maps online that are only played by Battle.net people. "Big Game Hunters" comes to mind.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Fans disagree on if Arcturus Mengsk started out as a genuinely well-meaning rebel who fell victim to He Who Fights Monsters, or if he was always just interested in personal power and used his rebellion to acquire it. For those that think he started off well-meaning, by the time of his downfall it's obvious he's cast off the pretenses of good intentions behind his evil acts, at which point it's up for discussion when He Who Fights Monsters kicked in. Fans also argue if he's actually Affably Evil or just Faux Affably Evil. Helping to feed the discussion is the fact that the writers who have worked on the game scripts and novels for the franchise can't seem to agree on such things themselves.
- Base-Breaking Character: Sarah Kerrigan — the fandom is divided on if she became an irredeemable monster as the Queen of Blades, or if she was a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who was Driven to Villainy. Her redemption arc in Starcraft II further divided the fandom between fans who preferred her as a villain versus those who liked seeing her redeemed, those who thought her redemption was well-handled versus through who didn't, and those who thought new revelations about her actions as a villain help make her redemption easier to swallow versus those who saw it as a sloppy way to retcon her actions as not being her fault.
- Broken Base:
- Examples include elitist "progamers" vs "casual gamer noobs".
- On one camp, Nova is an Ensemble Dark Horse, a character with interesting personal story arc and Character Development... which was mostly chronicled in printed works thanks to StarCraft: Ghost's cancellation. The other camp, especially those who didn't bother reading her story consider her a wasted space, a tool of Arcturus Mengsk's dictatorial Dominion tyranny, a second rate Ghost compared to Kerrigan and/or 'only there for fanservice on horny gamers'. Debates about Nova's worth in the story can get ugly, and we haven't even getting started on her performance in Heroes of the Storm...
- Cliché Storm: The series has always been accused of being this. It pays homage to tons of sci-fi tropes and stories and purposefully invokes and copies them in some places.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Apparently the tactics to playing the game in Multiplayer are set in stone. Trying anything new would result in the game quickly ending for you and/or your allies shunning you. Also, some of the seasoned players do not take too well to being teamed up with new players, even going as far as to verbally abuse the newbie and even bullying the newbie into leaving the game, by means of attacking the newbie's base, despite the newbie being an ally.
- Complete Monster:
- Amon, The Dark Voice/The Fallen One, is the Greater-Scope Villain of the franchise as a whole and the Big Bad of Legacy of the Void.. A fallen Xel'Naga who broke the noninterference policy towards other races, Amon sought to shatter the eternal cycle all races were bound to by genetically altering the young Protoss to suit his needs. Finding and enforcing a Hive Mind slavery on the Zerg, Amon unleashed the ravenous swarm on the other Xel'Naga when they attempted to stop him from creating Protoss-Zerg hybrids that would be used to annihilate all other forms of life. The Xel'Naga were destroyed, but Amon was imprisoned within the Void. Retaining some influence over the Zerg, Amon was responsible in part for their rampages over the galaxy that claimed countless lives. When freed, Amon had his agents murder the rest of his sleeping enemy Xel'Naga, while also marshaling his forces in the heretic Tal'Darim; Protoss who worshiped him in hopes of "ascension," that was only, as Amon knew, horrible death in the end. Amon corrupted the telepathic network of the Protoss, the Khala, possessing multiple Protoss and forcing them to fight their own brethren and then directed his forces to cleanse the galaxy of all other life he could not control. Even while claiming good intentions in ending the cycle races are bound to, a protoss who touches Amon's mind revealed the truth: Amon is filled with nothing but intense loathing towards all the other races and wishes them to suffer and die for the sake of his twisted megalomania.
- Amon's follower, the unnamed Xel'Naga best known as Samir Duran or Emil Narud, disguised himself as a Terran soldier, allowing the Zerg to overrun the Earth forces in several battles, killing many. When the officer Alexei Stukov realized what Duran had done, Duran framed Stukov as a traitor and had him murdered. Allying with the Zerg, Duran helped the Swarm overrun entire worlds, all while experimenting on captives to create the Protoss-Zerg hybrids Amon sought in order to help free his master from the Void. Devoted to Amon's nihilistic ambitions and seeing all other beings as pawns in his grand game, Duran achieved a level of damage in the galaxy few could match in order to free his master and bring about the end of all other species.
- Emperor Arcturus I Mengsk is initially portrayed as a well-meaning freedom fighter against a corrupt government that murdered his entire family before nuking his world, and willing to take morally dubious methods to defeat them such as taking their Psychic Beacons and using them against the Confederacy to lure the Zerg to their bases. But when he leads the assault on Tarsonis and uses these same beacons to lure the Zerg to a heavily populated world, he shows that he's more fixated with revenge and personal power, sending Kerrigan down to stop the Protoss from distracting the Zerg from wiping out all of the old families and then abandoning her when the Zerg overwhelm her position, resulting in her transformation into the Queen of Blades. Afterwards, he uses the power he has gained as Emperor of the newly established Terran Dominion to oppress any political protesters, continue the Confederacy's experiments on civilians and ordering the death of the last of the old families, a group of teenagers who weren't even aware of what had happened. After Kerrigan is transformed back, Mengsk makes a concerted effort to kill her, even going so far as attempting to kill his own son Valerian for helping her; when Kerrigan finally comes for his head, Mengsk resorts to nuking his own capital in order to slow her down, despite the fact that it was the nuking of Korhal that caused his rebellion against the confederacy. Selfish, hypocritical and cruel, Mengsk showed that humans can sometimes be the biggest monsters of all.
- "StarCraft: Hybrid" and StarCraft: Uprising: In this short story and eBook respectively, Sarah Kerrigan's hated instructor, Lieutenant Rumm, forced the young girl to use her exceptional psionic powers by injecting a kitten with a tumor-causing chemical, and gave her the option of destroying the kitten's tumor or euthanizing it. When she wasn't willing to fall to his demands, Rumm threatened to shoot the kitten himself. When this didn't work, Rumm decided not to shoot and left the kitten to die slowly and painfully. Taking more drastic measures, he brought in her father, who had become brain-damaged as a result of Kerrigan's accidentally unleashing her psionic powers, in an adjacent cell to hers and threatened to inject him with the same chemical if she didn't use her psionic powers. When she still refused, threatening to use the power to kill herself and her father, Rumm forced her to be neural resocialized—a form of brainwashing technology used to enforce obedience and shape new memories—turning her into a loyal puppet of the Terran Confederacy. Even after the Mind Rape, he continued to mentally torture her for over a year.
- StarCraft II: Devils' Due: In this novel, Ezekiel Daun, while a relatively minor character, is utterly monstrous. Daun is a Bounty Hunter and mercenary who, unless his clients specify otherwise, will torture his victims to draw out their death, and makes it theatrical by terrifying them and using psychological warfare before he moves in for the kill. He also records all his deaths as holograms, both to watch in his spare time for the memories and to show his future victims to terrify them even more.
- StarCraft: Frontline: In this four-part comic series, Dr. Stanley Burgess is a sadistic Terran Dominion scientist who personally oversaw the neural resocialization of Jin-ho Lim, a terran of Asian ethnicity who opposed the Terran Dominion but was conscripted into the Dominion Marine Corps. After the operation, Stanley ordered the now-docile Lim to kill his wife and fellow Terran Dominion opposer, Anna, and he complied by shooting her in the face without a moment's hesitation. He also was responsible for the creation of the terran/Protoss Gestalts by implanting the organs of captured Protoss into terrans controlled by neural conditioning and neural inhibitors. His project came to an end after one of his subjects, Gestalt Zero, was freed from his neural inhibitors by a dying Protoss and stabbed him to death, ironically echoing one his previous comments: "I should warn you...this is probably going to hurt."
- Fandom Rivalry: With Warhammer 40,000. A sane man simply doesn't bring up the two together on the majority of forums. Seriously. It is a huge can of worms.
- Fandom-Specific Plot: Rather than Cerebrates or Broodmothers, it's very common to see rogue Zerg broods being led by psionically gifted infested Terrans, like Kerrigan (albeit these are rarely as powerful as her), in fanfics and fan campaigns, mostly since Most Writers Are Human.
- Fanon: All Zerg can be reincarnated, not just Cerebrates and Tarrasques. This comes up way more than you'd think.
- Zerglings don't just kill terrans and protoss, they eat their stuff too. Canonically, the zerg eat mineral crystals because they require the, well, minerals to grow healthy bones and teeth. The other races make their plating from those same crystals.
- Fetish Retardant: As much as Blizzard tries to make Kerrigan into Ms. Fanservice as a Cute Monster Girl, she has Barbie Doll Anatomy with no visible nipples or sex organs, spiked protrusions of bone covering her body, infested tendrils for hair, and overall looks a bit too monstrous to actually be sexually appealing.
- Franchise Original Sin:
- The sequel's story has been criticized by a faction of the fanbase for problems such as retcons, plot holes, and cheesy and cliched dialogue. The original game had the same problems in smaller doses (especially when it comes to the Brood War expansion), but fans don't get as upset about it as the sequel's instances.
- The franchise can be classified as Science Fantasy, with the Terrans more fitting in the "science" part of the trope, the "fantasy" elements were for the Xel'naga, and the Zerg and Protoss straddled the two in their own ways. The sequel made the Xel'naga the central focus of the trilogy and made the Terrans' storyline more directly connect to them, making things more fantasy-oriented and earning the ire of many fans.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Competitive StarCraft is absolutely dominated by South Koreans. Of the ten most successful tournament players in the world (as measured in dollars earned via tournament play), only one of them is a "foreigner"—that is, a player who grew up outside Korea. It's something of a Rite of Passage now for a foreign player to defeat a Korean in tournament play.
- Goddamned Bats: Early worker units become this, especially Probes, who can warp in buildings anywhere instantly and move on to keep running. Terrans can use ranged Marines to shoot them down, zerg and protoss have melee units, so no such luck with them.
"I'm in ur base, scouting ur tech, disrupting ur mineral line with pylons, stealing ur gas, delaying ur hatchery!"
- Just Here for Godzilla: Some players themselves think No Plot? No Problem!. You do not have to play through the single player campaigns to enjoy the multiplayer aspect of the game. Blizzard eventually acknowledged this by making StarCraft II's multiplayer free-to-play while keeping all campaigns bar Wings of Liberty as paid content.
- Memetic Mutation:
- Refering to all Protoss as Brotoss.
- Moral Event Horizon:
- Kerrigan crosses it when she kills Duke and Fenix, particularly the latter. They, along with Raynor and Mengsk, helped her secure control of her Broods and significantly push back the UED's occupation of the sector, and then she turned on them, killed Duke and Fenix, and decimated their armies, while they were still recovering from the siege of Korhal. Kerrigan's rationale is a weak concern that they might become a threat to her in the future, even though they had no intent to betray her and just didn't trust her, a fear that Kerrigan completely validates with her treachery. This is a major reason Kerrigan became a Base-Breaking Character when Heart of the Swarm gave her Character Development from a Villain Protagonist to a Noble Demon — after her Kick the Dog betrayal of her allies and showing no remorse for doing it, some fans felt that she had no hope of earning redemption.
- In-story, Raynor and Kerrigan saw Mengsk using psi emitters to launch a Zerg invasion of Tarsonis as this. If players disagree, then Mengsk definitely crosses it when he sends Kerrigan to intercept the Protoss fleet to stop them from halting the invasion before the Confederacy is totally destroyed, and then when the job is done leaving Kerrigan and his remaining forces to be overrun by the Zerg. The novels reveal that Mengsk knew Kerrigan was the Confederate assassin who killed his family and thus implies his future abandonment of her was a delayed revenge, but Kerrigan was under neuro-resocialization when she killed the Mengsk family, on her own she was fully loyal to Arcturus and his cause, just expressing some hesitation at his increasingly brutal methods of fighting the Confederacy.
- Arguably, DuGalle when he sent Duran to kill Stukov. Note that the arguable portion stems from how he was pretty much duped into doing it, and the Alternate Character Interpretation that Duran was subtly influencing his mind.
- Most Annoying Sound: Minerals.
- Most Wonderful Sound:
"Carrier has arrived"
"Nuclear Launch Detected" (at least, when it's yours)
- Play the Game, Skip the Story: While the series does have a good sized fandom interested in the plot and characters, that isn't nearly what the games are famous for, that being the multiplayer aspects. The fans interested in the story and the ones that play the games for the multiplayer are worlds apart.
- Porting Disaster: The Nintendo 64 is the only console that Starcraft I has been ported to. Although the effort to put both the original game and the expansion into a cartridge had been respectable, a LOT of concessions were made in order to make it possible.
- Remember the Mutalisk portrait? Look at the concept arts, and their appearance in SC2. That is not their face. Also take a moment to read about their method of attack. Yup. They are shitting parasites at the enemy.
- Upon finding Kerrigan after she's been infested, Raynor is disgusted with himself, as on some level he finds her new form just as alluring as her human form, and maybe more.
- Strangled by the Red String: A lot of fans see the love story between Raynor and Kerrigan as this. To be fair, the game focused more on the battles and the strategy, so we have no idea of what happened between them offscreen. StarCraft II makes a much better job at fleshing out their relationship.
- Too Cool to Live: Tassadar, Fenix, Duke, General Warfield and Zeratul.
- The Woobie:
- As Mike Liberty points out in one of the novels, Raynor is one of very few good and honorable human beings in the sector. And he keeps watching his friends die or betray him, and he gets to live with the knowledge that the evil overlords of two of the factions got there with his help.
- There's also the story of his wife and son. Johnny got drafted into and (supposedly) died in the Ghost Program and Liddy died of grief not long after.
- Also Kerrigan and her fate in general. She certainly didn't originally plan for infestation. Heart of the Swarm confirms this big time.
- Zeratul is put into basically a living hell in the first game, where almost every single choice he did led to doom for what he cared for the most. His first in-game action was killing Zasz on Char, which while definetly badass as no one thought cerebrates could be permanently slain, it gave the Overmind information on where Aiur was, leading the vast majority of the Zerg Swarm there, while Zeratul was stranded on Char with Tassadar and Raynor due to Kerrigan's presence. He finally arrives on Aiur... only to find out the Conclave wants to arrest Tassadar. After this problem is solved, Zeratul lends a hand in killing some cerebrates and aiding on the Overmind's destruction to send the zerg in disarray... which ends up dooming Aiur, and forcing the survivors to take Zeratul's idea of using Aiur's warp gate and going to Shakuras, the then-safe Dark Templar homeworld... which gets invaded by the zerg due to that plan. After activating the Xel'naga temple, Zeratul does not appear until Kerrigan kidnaps Raszagal to have Zeratul kill the new Overmind in exchange of letting the matriarch go, which he does... only to find out Raszagal was Brainwashed long before he met with her back in Shakuras. As a result, Zeratul decides he would rather see Raszagal dead than brainwashed, takes her back and kills her - something he could not forgive himself for (Even though Raszagal did so). With a remnant of the Protoss fleet that was alongside him, Zeratul finds a dark moon, believing Artanis's forces are there... but Samir Duran and his hybrids-in-development were what his fleet detected. It's as if there had been a Cosmic Plaything on Zeratul in the first game. While the second game is much nicer to him, Legacy of the Void reveals he had a very poor reputation among most Protoss for what he did in the first game - letting the zerg invade Aiur and killing Raszagal - and it's not until his researching of the prophecy turning out to be right that he got some respect. Shame he had to die to an Amon-controlled Artanis beforehand.
- Vindicated by History: When StarCraft was first released, there were reviewers that saw it as just another formulaic RTS game (during a time when the market was already overcrowded with such games), one that could not offer complex gameplay, did not have state-of-the-art graphics, and had poor AI - that all it could do was appease the old Warcraft fans. Yet 20 years later, it has a massively popular esports culture centered around it, and its story is remembered very fondly - not to mention that since its release, StarCraft had a custom map and campaign community that few other games could match, thanks to its Campaign Editor.