StarCraft Wiki
StarCraft Wiki
Shakurus SC1 Art2.jpeg

You may be looking for:

"Awaken my child, and embrace the glory that is your birthright. Know that I am the Overmind; the eternal will of the Swarm, and that you have been created to serve me."

- The Overmind(src)

Cerebrates were zerg brood leaders. They were originally created by the Overmind as intermediate commanders but were removed from the Swarm's power structure by the Queen of Blades.


Role in the Swarm

"The Overmind controls its minions through agents called Cerebrates. Strike down the Cerebrates, and the Swarms will surely fall."

Cerebrates were descended from the original zerg parasites of Zerus that existed before the coming of the xel'naga, albeit being much larger and endowed with much greater intelligence. Upon their creation by the Overmind each cerebrate and the brood it led was given a specific role which in turn shaped the cerebrate's[1] rudimentary[2] personality. Cerebrates further expanded the zerg hierarchy and came to rely on queens to oversee hive activity and overlords to relay commands to and directly control the brood's minions.[1] While the rigid hierarchy ensured efficiency the permanent death of a cerebrate could induce a complete reversal. Broods that lost their cerebrate frequently became uncontrollably destructive.[3] Cerebrates also oversaw the evolution of the Swarm.[4][5]

Externally, cerebrates appeared as giant, bloated slug-larvae with numerous purple limbs protruding from the sides. This was merely their external form, and the true form of a cerebrate (a ball of yellow light with extruding tentacles) would only be revealed once the carapace had been destroyed. That being said, the flesh could be regenerated as long as the Overmind willed it, bar abilities that nullified such an ability.[6]

Not long before the Great War, the Overmind began to rely on its cerebrates to a greater extent than it had done previously. They were, at this point, distinct beings, within a unified hive species.[2]

StarCraft Ghost Logo2.jpg

This article or section contains information about StarCraft: Ghost, which has been declared non-canon. Elements may be taken as 'flavor lore' however.
The content may be significantly out of date. Please do not add speculation to this article, and remember to cite a published source for details.

Role of commanding smaller clusters of zerg was relegated to mini cerebrates. However, if these smaller cerebrates would be destroyed, that cluster of zerg would go into a frenzy.[7]

Psionic Powers

Cerebrates were often (perhaps always) powerful psychics, but these powers are usually limited to a specific area. For instance, one cerebrate may be able to create and reincarnate the powerful Torrasque,[8][9] while another may be able to fill its structures with vital energy.[10] Cerebrates possessed detection abilities similar to those of overlords.[11]

As with the rest of the zerg, cerebrates communicated telepathically, albeit in a manner quite different to terrans or protoss.[6]


"If ever your flesh should fail, that flesh shall be made anew. That is my covenant with all Cerebrates."

One trait that all cerebrates shared was that of reincarnation. While the Overmind was alive, it could reincarnate a cerebrate through the use of cosmic energy. Slaying a cerebrate with this type of energy prevented reincarnation.[3] Zasz, cerebrate of the Garm Brood, was permanently killed in this way by Dark Prelate Zeratul. This created a brief mental link between Zeratul and the Overmind; Zeratul learned of the Overmind's connection with the xel'naga and its plans for the protoss race,[12] while the Overmind learned the location of Aiur.[13] The Overmind went into silence following this, and did not recover until the zerg eradicated the Garm Brood.[14] Later, the protoss killed other cerebrates in deliberate attempts to "distract" the Overmind.[11]

The psi disrupter possibly inhibited reincarnation.[9]

Although their link with the Overmind granted them virtual invulnerability, it was not without its weaknesses. Cerebrates were not designed to exist without the Overmind, and were unable to sustain themselves for long after its death – a vulnerability which drove them to create a new one following the first Overmind's death.[15]

Fate of the Cerebrates

"You dare threaten a Cerebrate? You will be the doom of us all!"

Following the death of the Overmind at the end of the Great War, Daggoth orchestrated the creation of a new Overmind from the fusion of a number of cerebrates. The Renegade Swarm controlled most of the zerg[16] in opposition to Kerrigan.[17] This set the stage for the Brood War.[18]

In this conflict, Kerrigan emerged triumphant, albeit through manipulation of those capable of slaying cerebrates. Those on Shakuras were destroyed as the result of an alliance between her and the protoss settling on that world.[19] The UED Expeditionary Force, while utilizing a psi disrupter, slew some cerebrates during their conquest of Char, the cerebrates not being resurrected during the battle.[9] Later, during Kerrigan's reconquest of the planet, the new Overmind was slain by the Dark Templar allied with/manipulated by her.[20] Upon the creature's death, the remaining cerebrates were killed[21] by the Dark Templar.[22] The lack of a controlling force was a partial explanation for their deaths.[15]

Some cerebrates survived the Char holocaust, at least for a time. The New Swarm led by Kaloth was one such example, but its power base was destroyed by Raynor's Raiders and protoss forces.[23] Kerrigan also retained at least one cerebrate which aided her in her infested terran project.[4] Still, it wasn't to last. Following the Brood War, all the remaining cerebrates were hunted down and exterminated by Kerrigan's forces and to best knowledge, there are none left.[24] Kerrigan's vision for the Swarm was quite different from that of the Overmind[25] and she had no use or desire to use the cerebrates,[15] not to mention the risk that they might once again try to form a new Overmind.[25] Instead, she replaced them with other intelligent minions—an advanced infested terran, Ethan Stewart[26] (now deceased),[27] as well as broodmothers.[28]

Known Cerebrates

Some cerebrates were named, others weren't—only after extended service to the Swarm did cerebrates gain the right to a name. Possession of a name was seen as a sign of prestige.[6]


Unnamed/Name Unknown


Concept art for the cerebrates

  • During development, the name "simbriate" was considered for the cerebrates.[30]
  • "Cerebrate" was an older name for the evolution chamber in StarCraft I,[31] suggesting that the cerebrates served that role earlier in development. Coincidentally, the evolution chamber in StarCraft II more closely resembles a cerebrate.
  • The lack of cerebrates in StarCraft II was due to a creative directive from Blizzard, as per it "playing nice" with Games Workshop.[32] As of BlizzCon 2019, the mandate remains in effect, and it has been stated that it is unlikely that cerebrates will be seen anytime soon, if ever.[33]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Underwood, Peter, Bill Roper, Chris Metzen and Jeffrey Vaughn. StarCraft (Manual). Irvine, Calif.: Blizzard Entertainment, 1998.
  2. 2.0 2.1 StarCraft Remastered, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2017-03-31
  3. 3.0 3.1 Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Mission: The Culling (in English). 1998.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Neilson, Micky. "StarCraft: Hybrid." Amazing Stories 601 (Spring 2000): 70-75.
  5. Dayton, Cameron. "Broken Wide." (March 5, 2010). Blizzard Entertainment. Broken Wide Accessed 2010-03-05.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Rosenberg, Aaron (May 23, 2006). StarCraft: Queen of Blades. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 978-0-7434-7133-6.
  7. 2014-18-12, StarCraft: Ghost Demo Build., accessed on 2020-02-16
  8. 8.0 8.1 StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Mission: Enslavers bonus campaign, mission 3B: "The Final Blow" (in English). 1998.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft: Brood War. Vivendi Games. Mission: To Chain the Beast (in English). 1998.
  10. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named SC:BW E5 M8
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Mission: Shadow Hunters (in English). 1998.
  12. Zeratul: "When I slew the Cerebrate on Char, I touched briefly with the essence of the Overmind. In that instant, my mind was filled with its thoughts, and I tell you now our worst fears have come true. The Zerg were indeed created by the ancient Xel'Naga, the same beings that empowered us in our infancy. But the Overmind grew beyond their constraints, and has at last come to finish the experiments they began so long ago." StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Level/area: Shadow Hunters (in English). 1998.
  13. Overmind: "Yet shall their overweening pride be their downfall. For when the assassin Zeratul murdered Zasz, his mind touched with mine, and all his secrets were made known to me. I have taken from his mind the secret location of Aiur, the Protoss Homeworld." StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Level/area: Eye for an Eye (in English). 1998.
  14. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Mission: Eye for an Eye (in English). 1998.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Chris Metzen, StarCraft Legacy staff. 2009-04-03. SC:L Metzen Interview - Lore Exclusive. StarCraft Legacy. Accessed 2009-05-18
  16. Sarah Kerrigan: "Apparently, many of the renegade Cerebrates, commanded by Daggoth, have merged into a new Overmind. Fortunately, the creature is still in its infant stages. It can't control the Swarm yet, but Daggoth and the others still have control over most of the Broods." StarCraft: Brood War. Vivendi Games. Level/area: The Quest for Uraj (in English). 1998.
  17. Kerrigan: Queen of Blades. Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed 2007-10-13.
  18. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft: Brood War. (Blizzard Entertainment) (in English). November 30, 1998
  19. Kerrigan: "I've insured the destruction of the renegade Cerebrates, and I used you to do it." StarCraft: Brood War. Vivendi Games. Level/area: The Insurgent (in English). 1998.
  20. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft: Brood War. Vivendi Games. Mission: To Slay the Beast (in English). 1998.
  21. Samir Duran: "My Queen, with the Overmind and its cerebrates destroyed, all of the Zerg in this sector have reverted to your direct control." StarCraft: Brood War. Vivendi Games. Level/area: The Reckoning (in English). 1998.
  22. 2008-03-10. Zerg. Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed 2008-03-10.
  23. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft 64. Nintendo of America, Inc. Mission: Resurrection IV (in English). 2000-06-12.
  24. Metzen, Chris; Chambers, Andy; StarCraft Legacy staff. 2009-04-03. BlizzCon 2007 StarCraft Lore Panel Editorial. StarCraft Legacy. Accessed 2009-05-18.
  25. 25.0 25.1 2011-05-31, May 2011 HoTS Fansite Interview. StarCraft Legacy, accessed on 2011-05-31
  26. Golden, Christie (November 27, 2007). StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga #2: Shadow Hunters. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 978-0-7434-7126-8.
  27. Golden, Christie (June 30, 2009). StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga #3: Twilight. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 978-0-7434-7129-9.
  28. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mission: Heart of the Swarm, Rendezvous (in English). 2013-03-12.
  29. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft: Brood War. Vivendi Games. Mission: Legacy of the Xel'Naga (in English). 1998.
  30. Neilson, Mickey. Forging Worlds: Stories Behind the Art of Blizzard Entertainment (hardcover). Blizzard Entertainment, January, 2022.
  31. Hidden Pics, Angelfire. Accessed on 2019-08-28
  32. 2013, Zerg Queen Za Gara. Deviantart, accessed on 2013-12-25
  33. 2019-11-07, Followup on the 14 page BlizzCon lore packet: The (very few) questions that got answered. Reddit, accessed on 2019-11-20