Sarah Kerrigan

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Sarah Louise Kerrigan[1]
Queen of Blades
StarCraft series character
Kerrigan in a concept art.
Kerrigan's infested appearance
First gameStarCraft (1998)
Created byChris Metzen
James Phinney[2]
Designed byChris Metzen
Samwise Didier
Glen Ran
Voiced byGlynnis Talken Campbell (StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War)
Tricia Helfer (StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm)[3]
Fictional profile
SpeciesInfested Terran
AffiliationZerg Swarm
PositionLeader of the Zerg Swarm
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Sarah Louise Kerrigan[1]
Queen of Blades
StarCraft series character
Kerrigan in a concept art.
Kerrigan's infested appearance
First gameStarCraft (1998)
Created byChris Metzen
James Phinney[2]
Designed byChris Metzen
Samwise Didier
Glen Ran
Voiced byGlynnis Talken Campbell (StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War)
Tricia Helfer (StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm)[3]
Fictional profile
SpeciesInfested Terran
AffiliationZerg Swarm
PositionLeader of the Zerg Swarm

Sarah Louise Kerrigan, the self-styled Queen of Blades, is a fictional character in Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft series of video games and novels. The character was created by Chris Metzen and James Phinney, and her appearance was originally designed by Chris Metzen. Sarah Kerrigan was voiced by Glynnis Talken Campbell in the real-time strategy video games StarCraft and Brood War, and Tricia Helfer in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm.

Kerrigan originally appears in StarCraft as a twenty-six-year-old female Terran psychic, trained both physically and mentally as an expert espionage agent and assassin. Initially the second-in-command of Sons of Korhal, a revolutionary movement against an oppressive Confederacy of Man, she is captured by the insectoid Zerg and infested, turning her into a human/Zerg hybrid completely under the control of the Zerg Overmind. She becomes one of the Zerg's most powerful agents, but during the Brood Wars she replaces the Overmind, following the Overmind's destruction at the end of the great war, and gains control of the Zerg to seek dominance over the galaxy. Kerrigan's life before her infestation is further explored in the novels Uprising and Liberty's Crusade, while Queen of Blades elaborates on her infested character.

As one of the major characters of the series, Kerrigan has been critically praised for her believability and character depth; a survey by GameSpot in 2010 declared Kerrigan as the greatest villain in computer gaming.

Character design[edit]

The character of Kerrigan was created by Blizzard Entertainment's Chris Metzen and James Phinney,[4] with her physical appearance designed by Metzen, although other Blizzard artists, Samwise Didier[5] and Glen Rane,[6] have exhibited influence on her portrayal in later works. Kerrigan was not originally intended to be a major character, and was only meant to appear on a single level. Initially based around the character Tanya Adams in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series, Kerrigan was named after Nancy Kerrigan, who at the time was involved in a feud with Tonya Harding. However, Kerrigan's character grew on the developers, who decided to give a far greater role to the throw-away character.[7]

Many of the aspects of Kerrigan's infested character, especially her hair, are inspired by the Greek mythological creature Medusa. At one point in StarCraft, Kerrigan declares to the Protoss dark templar Zeratul that "her stare can reduce him to ashes"; one of the powers reputed to Medusa was that her gaze could turn men to stone. In addition, prior to its announcement StarCraft II was codenamed "Medusa".[8] Kerrigan's self-proclaimed title is the Queen of Blades, which is gradually introduced to other characters to the point where it is synonymous with her. Chris Metzen has explained that it was meant to be an honorific title; a blade is a weapon designed to rip enemies to pieces, making the title fitting for Kerrigan, who evolved to be the greatest agent of the Zerg Overmind.[9]

In an interview, Kerrigan's voice actor, the author and voice artist Glynnis Talken Campbell, described Kerrigan's change in personality during her infestation as "going from good girl to bad girl", and has said it was more of a change in personality than voice when providing her voice work. Kerrigan's voice also consisted of many grunts, growls and screams, and her unique infested voice was provided by doubling up Talken Campbell's voice. She has also claimed that, were she to pen a StarCraft film or novel, she would rather have Kerrigan's relationship with Jim Raynor—the series' primary male protagonist—portrayed as one of admiration, sacrifice and "them saving each other's butts" than actual romance due to StarCraft's action-oriented nature.[10] Whilst Talken Campbell had confirmed that she will return to voice the character in StarCraft II, and had voiced the character in several promotional trailers,[11] it was later reported that a new voice actor had been hired for Kerrigan and that Talken Campbell was no longer involved with the project. Tricia Helfer is now the new voice actor for Kerrigan in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.[12]


Having been conscripted into the Confederate Ghost program as a child due to her psychic potential, Kerrigan is described in the manual for StarCraft as never been given the chance for a normal life. Her rigorous training and the use of neural implants to control her mental abilities leave her a withdrawn and introverted woman.[4] Despite this, Kerrigan exhibits qualities of courage and daring, and is an effective tactician. She is also described as a moral character, exemplified in her opposition to Arcturus Mengsk using the Zerg against the Confederacy.[13] However, after her transformation by the Zerg, Kerrigan is freed from her inhibitions—as well as her neural conditioning—and indulges her darker traits. Her attitude, combined with her natural intelligence makes her extremely calculating and manipulative. A hint of her former moral sensitivity is to be noted when towards the end of the Zerg campaign of Brood War, she states how she feels weary of slaughter for the first time since her transformation. Kerrigan has also become far more physically aggressive, relishing close quarters combat so much that at one point in the novel Queen of Blades she begins absent-mindedly licking the blood of her victims from her fingers.[14] The personality that Kerrigan displayed in the Heart of the Swarm trailer seemed to be a combination of both attributes; during her conversation with Izsha the description of her crimes as "terrible" imply that to a degree she does feel genuine guilt for her crimes, and may seek to atone. On the other hand she is determined to crush opposition to her rule, and to exact her revenge on Arcturus Mengsk.

Prior to her infestation, Kerrigan is described as being a graceful and deadly woman, exceedingly agile and athletic,[15] possessing jade-green eyes and brilliant red hair usually worn as a ponytail.[16] The novel Queen of Blades describes her facial features as being too strong to be classified as beautiful, but instead as striking and completely fitting for her personality.[17] Kerrigan is rarely seen out of her armour, a form-fitting hostile environment suit specifically designed for Ghost operatives and equipped with a personal cloaking device,[17] but when off-duty she is described as wearing a soft work shirt, worn cotton pants with a dusty leather jacket and high leather boots. Even then, it is uncommon for Kerrigan to be unarmed: she is always equipped with at least a combat knife.[18]

Kerrigan's infestation by the Zerg signals a major overhaul for her appearance. Despite maintaining her stature, build and facial features, she is described in Queen of Blades as having mottled green skin, covered in a glossy protective carapace. Kerrigan's eyes are bright yellow as opposed to her natural green, and her hair has transformed into stalks, described as being segmented like an insect's legs.[19] Kerrigan's fingers are stated to now contain extendible claws.[20] A pair of skeletal wings has also grown from her back, consisting of elongated segmented spikes that reach down to the level of her knees.[21] Kerrigan is seen using these wings as a melee weapon, literally tearing opponents apart.[22]


In video games[edit]

Sarah Kerrigan while still human, wearing her Ghost armor.

The first appearance of Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft comes half way through the first chapter of the game, in which she and the Confederate officer Jim Raynor are tasked by Arcturus Mengsk, the leader of the militant rebel group Sons of Korhal, with starting a revolution on the fringe colony world of Antiga Prime by assassinating the presiding officers of the ruling Confederacy of Man.[23] In response, the Confederacy blockades the planet as the insectoid Zerg Swarm begin to invade the surface, and Mengsk orders a skeptical Kerrigan with planting a psi emitter—stolen Confederate technology that attracts Zerg to it—to lure the Zerg into breaking the blockade, allowing the Sons of Korhal to escape.[24] The Sons of Korhal then directly attack the Confederate capital world Tarsonis. During the attack, Mengsk, without consulting his officers, uses the psi emitters to ensure the complete destruction of the planet by the Zerg. The Zerg are subsequently attacked by the Protoss, a race of psionic aliens who attempt to stop further Zerg advancement and conquest. Kerrigan is sent with a detachment of troops to stop the Protoss from interfering with the Zerg rampage, but her position is overrun by the Zerg and she is abandoned by Mengsk.[25] As Raynor deserts Mengsk in disgust, Kerrigan is presumed dead.[26]

However, Kerrigan does not perish, and as the second chapter begins the player is charged by the Zerg hive mind, the Overmind, to protect a chrysalis it claims will be its greatest creation. The chrysalis eventually hatches on the Zerg world Char to reveal Kerrigan having been infested with Zerg DNA, making her a powerful hybrid of both Zerg and Terran genetics. Raynor, drawn to Char by psychic dreams cast by Kerrigan during her incubation, fails in an attempt to rescue her but is spared as Kerrigan does not see him as a threat, and possibly due to any lingering affection she had for him.[27] After breaking into a Terran science vessel and reversing the neural conditioning from her training as a psionic agent,[28] Kerrigan is able to sense the presence of the Protoss fleet commander Tassadar on Char. Tassadar diverts Kerrigan's attention long enough for his companion Zeratul to assassinate Zasz, one of the Zerg commanders, with psionic energies the Zerg are unfamiliar with.[29] This causes a temporary mental link between Zeratul and the Overmind, who uses this momentary contact with Zeratul's memories to locate the Protoss homeworld Aiur. The Overmind immediately launches the bulk of the Zerg Swarm in an invasion, although Kerrigan remains behind on Char to hunt down Tassadar and Zeratul.[30]

Kerrigan's character is more central to StarCraft: Brood War (1998), as in the wake of the Overmind's death at the hands of Tassadar in the conclusion of StarCraft, Kerrigan regains her independence from the Zerg hive mind and dedicates her efforts to becoming the sole leader of the Zerg Swarm.[31] She presents herself on the Protoss colony world Shakuras, where she informs Zeratul and the Protoss of a new Overmind growing on Char,[32] manipulating them into destroying Zerg forces running rival to her goals.[33] She also gains an ally in an apparently infested Samir Duran, who infiltrates the newly arrived forces of the United Earth Directorate and attempts to sabotage their mission to enslave the Zerg and seize control of the sector of the galaxy. However, the UED is successful in capturing the new Overmind, and Kerrigan exploits the threat of the UED to forge an alliance with Mengsk, Raynor and his new Protoss allies, turning around the war against the UED. However, Kerrigan quickly betrays this alliance and strikes at the armies of Raynor and Mengsk, heavily damaging both groups.[34] Accompanied by Duran, Kerrigan returns to Shakuras to abduct the Protoss leader Raszagal, using her to blackmail Zeratul into killing the new Overmind on Char, after which all Zerg fall under Kerrigan's control.[35] Zeratul attempts to rescue Raszagal, but kills her when he realizes her mind has been destroyed by Kerrigan's brainwashing. Kerrigan, surprised by his actions, allows him to live.[36] Soon after, Kerrigan's position on Char is attacked by a vengeful Protoss fleet, the remnants of the UED's invasion force and a mercenary fleet commanded by Mengsk. Despite being outnumbered, Kerrigan's forces prevail, crippling her enemies and eradicating the UED fleet, thereby securing a dominant position in the sector.[37]

Kerrigan returns in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (2010), where she appeared in several trailers as well as in concept art prior to the game's release. At BlizzCon 2007, Chris Metzen explained that in the years after Brood War, Kerrigan relocated to Char, pulling back most of the Zerg, and has since been quiet. She has the power to wipe out all her enemies but has not, creating a tense state of peace in the sector. Metzen also indicated an interest in exploring if there was any humanity left in Kerrigan or if she is beyond redemption in her current state.[9] He revealed that Kerrigan's withdrawal has little to do with any suspicion she has of Duran, who is revealed towards the end of Brood War to be conducting secret experiments on creating a Protoss/Zerg hybrid;[38] she does not know much about him, but in the time after Brood War she is beginning to piece together the puzzle surrounding his motives.[39] At Blizzcon 2008, Kerrigan made two brief appearances in cinematic trailers, one during an attack on a Terran city that was captured on video, and again in a series of caverns where Zeratul was studying ancient runes; in the latter, Kerrigan implies she has been waiting for his arrival.

Kerrigan in her human form again, in the arms of Jim Raynor

In StarCraft II, Kerrigan begins anew her attack on the Terran Dominion colonies. At first, her motives seem to be revenge - however, later it is discovered that she is pursuing various pieces of a Xel'naga artifact of great power. Coincidentally, these are the same artifacts that Jim Raynor is pursuing at the request of his recently freed friend Tychus Findlay and his benefactor, the Moebius Foundation. Raynor's forces and Kerrigan constantly bump heads throughout this pursuit, with Kerrigan displaying her now trademark character traits of arrogance and a hunger for power. Raynor soon learns from Valerian Mengsk, son of Arcturus Mengsk and the real face behind the Moebius Foundation, that the Xel'naga artifacts he has been pursuing, when pieced together, have the power to return Kerrigan to her human form. At one point, Zeratul suddenly appears onboard Raynor's ship and hands to him a crystal containing memories from his recent ventures. The memories on the crystal chronicle Zeratul's campaign to discover the truth behind an ancient Xel'naga prophecy, a quest which leads him to run into Kerrigan many times in the process. It is through these memories that Raynor learns just how important it is to ensure that Kerrigan does not perish, for she is the chosen person to help win the coming battle against the Protoss-Zerg hybrids, presumably of a similar kind seen being developed by Samir Duran. Through Zeratul's crystal, Raynor is also granted the vision of a possible future, one without Kerrigan: the Protoss are rendered extinct by the hybrids, all of their greatest warriors making a final stand and falling in battle, with the Terrans already having been annihilated. After seeing this vision, Raynor mounts the strike on Char in collaboration with Dominion forces to eliminate the Zerg forces on the planet once and for all. The Xel'naga artifact releases an energy blast that wipes the Zerg infection clean off the planet. When Raynor and Findlay seek Kerrigan in the ruins, she is found to have mostly returned to her human form, only her hair remaining Zerg-like. However, Raynor is forced to kill Findlay when he attempts to assassinate Kerrigan, under orders from his "benefactor", who is revealed to be Arcturus Mengsk. Raynor then carries the weakened Kerrigan over the ruined battlefield to safety.

Kerrigan is the central character of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, which tells the story of her further fate, and of the Zerg Swarm as well.[40][41] Once again a human, Kerrigan is brought by Raynor to a secret research facility run by Crown Prince Valerian Mengsk to determine how much of her skill at controlling Zerg remains from her time as the Queen of Blades. However, the facility is attacked by Dominion forces and while Kerrigan and Valerian manage to escape, Raynor ends up trapped there and after returning to look for him, Kerrigan hears Mengsk's announcement that he was captured and executed by the Dominion. To enact revenge against Mengsk, Kerrigan, while traveling through the sector to reunite the Zerg Swarm under her control is approached by Zeratul, who tells her to travel to Zerus, the original homeworld of the Zerg, where the primal Zerg are in a constantly evolving state. Kerrigan, initially reluctant, is convinced after Zeratul tells her there she can obtain enough power to move on with her vengeance plans. On Zerus, Kerrigan learns that a fallen xel'naga named Amon stole a large portion of the zerg from Zerus and bound them to a single overriding will, making them Amon's slaves as part of his plot to destroy both the zerg and protoss and remake life in his own image. Kerrigan enters a chrysalis in the first zerg spawning pool and emerges, transforming again into the primal Queen of Blades. Mengsk contacts Kerrigan and reveals that Raynor was not killed, but is held as a hostage instead, threatening to kill him should she wage war against the Dominion. With help from Valerian and Raynor's Raiders, Kerrigan manages to rescue Raynor, but is rejected by him for renouncing the human self that he worked so hard to restore. Now in full control of the Zerg Swarm once again, Kerrigan launches an attack on the Dominon's main world, Korhal to defeat Mengsk once and for all, assisted by Valerian, who convinces her to give an opening for the civilians to escape and later, by Raynor's forces as well. Confronting Mengsk face to face, Kerrigan is almost defeated when he uses the xel'naga artifact on her but Raynor stops him, allowing the Queen of Blades to kill Mengsk with her own hands. Reconciled with Raynor and with the Dominion defeated, Kerrigan bids farewell to him and leaves with the Swarm, to confront Amon and save the galaxy once and for all.

In other media[edit]

Kerrigan appears in several StarCraft novels that greatly expand her backstory before the first StarCraft game. The novel Uprising portrays Kerrigan's training as a Ghost assassin from an early age, where she is subjected to intense psychological abuse from her Confederate trainer, Lieutenant Rumm. When she was a young girl, an accident, most likely involving her powers, kills her mother and puts her father in a vegetative state. Consequently, Kerrigan is terrified to use her psionic abilities.[42] As a result, Kerrigan refuses Rumm's demands to show her power, even when he threatens to kill her father. Kerrigan is eventually subdued with mental implants and used as a top Confederate assassin until she is rescued by Arcturus Mengsk.[43] Kerrigan is also given a love interest in Somo Hung, one of the Sons of Korhal marines, but he is killed in the course of the novel.[44] Dwight Shrute dresses as Kerrigan on an episode of The Office season 8 The novels Liberty's Crusade and Queen of Blades provide novelisations for Kerrigan's actions in Episodes I and II of StarCraft respectively. Liberty's Crusade develops the implied relationship between Jim Raynor and Kerrigan,[45] while Queen of Blades serves to demonstrate Kerrigan's complete transformation by the Zerg, her removal of her inhibitions and morality and its effect on her former love, Raynor.[46]

In addition, Kerrigan briefly appears in Gabriel Mesta's Shadow of the Xel'Naga, set between StarCraft and Brood War, in which she attempts to secure a Xel'Naga artifact on the independent colony world Bhekar Ro, but fails when it eradicates her forces.[47] Kerrigan is also observed in Shadow Hunters, the second novel in The Dark Templar Saga, a trilogy that acts as a precursor to StarCraft II. After sensing a nexus of joined human minds caused by protagonist Jake Ramsey at the end of the first novel Kerrigan sends Zerg to its location, infesting the half-dead body of a Dominion-funded black marketeer, Ethan Stewart.[48] As the attack is the first Zerg activity for years, it inadvertently raises the suspicions of Arcturus Mengsk, who wonders what could have motivated it.[49]


Kerrigan was received positively by critics. IGN's review of StarCraft drew note to the evolution of Kerrigan's character through the story, labelling it as unforgettable and describing her transformation as "chilling".[50] In 2006, IGN ranked Kerrigan the fifth most memorable villain in gaming, listing the various exploits she committed after becoming infested, including conquering the Zerg race, infesting many worlds, and betraying her allies.[51] Kerrigan was included among the 50 greatest female characters in the history of video games by Tom's Games in 2007, which described her "sexy, sinister and sympathetic" personality as amounting to one of the "most fascinatingly complex and memorable characters of all time."[52] In 2012, she was ranked as 23rd "hottest" fictional woman of the year by UGO Entertainment,[53] and as the most evil woman in video gaming by Complex[54] (up from second place in 2011);[55] Complex also included her among "coolest" video game villains overall, where she placed 16th.[56] That same year, Cheat Code Central featured the relationship between Kerrigan and Raynor among the "kickass gaming couples" and noted as one of the rockiest in video games,[57] also including Kerrigan on the list of top ten "badass" women of video games.[58] GamesRadar similarly praised Kerrigan's role as an antagonist, putting her in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history at number 20 and noting: "She is every kind of badass."[59] In 2013, Liz Lanier of Game Informer included Kerrigan among top ten female villains in video games, stating that "Kerrigan is as brutal as she is misunderstood. While once a skilled psychic terran, her captures be Zerg leads to her transformation into the Queen of Blades. With the rare ability to be both merciless and sympathetic, the leader of the swarm is an unforgettable villian."[60]

The character has also gained a large fan following. First reader's poll by GameSpot put Kerrigan as the second best villain in video games, complimenting the character for Kerrigan's drastic transformation, her fierceness and her manipulative political abilities as well as giving commendations to Talken Campbell's voice acting.[61] A more recent GameSpot poll in 2010 ranked Kerrigan as the number one video game villain.[62]


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