"There was one big motherfucker, like twice the size of the others... That thing could really scream. I never heard anything like it."
―Cpl. Tequila, regarding a Praetorian (from Aliens vs. Predator)

The Praetorian, also known as the Royal Guard,[1] was one of the final stages in the traditional life cycle of the Xenomorph XX121 species. Praetorians were created when a hive population reached over 300 individuals, and served as Queen or Empress' Royal Guard and army commanders.[2] Unlike other Xenomorph types, Praetorians rarely operated outside their Hive grounds. Visually, Praetorians resembled a Queen, though they were smaller in size but still far larger than typical Xenomorphs, typically standing at least ten feet tall.


"Size of a goddamn truck!"
―Sergeant Alejandra Herrera assessing the motion tracker profile of an incoming Praetorian (from Aliens: Fireteam Elite)

A Praetorian's most distinguishing feature was its large head crest, similar to that of a Queen, which they would often employ to ram targets in a charging attack. Unlike Queens, however, Praetorians did not possess a second pair of arms on their chest, and their jaws, filled with metallic teeth, were comparable to lower Xenomorph castes. Like Queens, Praetorians typically possessed longer dorsal spines that ended in a sharp point when compared to other Xenomorphs that possessed these appendages. Praetorians were dark in color, typically black but sometimes black-blue and stood over 10 feet tall, towering over their fellow Xenomorphs on the battlefield.[3] Despite this size, they were almost as fast and agile as their smaller Xenomorph siblings, although Praetorians seemed to remain in a permanent bipedal position, and owing to their bulk, they were unable to scale walls or ceilings.

As was befitting of their size, Praetorians were incredibly strong and their thick skin, known to be bulletproof in some cases, enabled them to shrug off damage that would be terminal several times over to most other Xenomorph castes. They were capable of defeating entire squads of human Marines single-handedly and were even a match for Yautja in close-quarters combat. Praetorians could spit acid in far larger quantities than other Xenomorphs, and could also use their claws and long blade-tipped tails as slashing and stabbing weapons, making them deadly at any range.[3]


Praetorians were smarter and more cunning than typical Xenomorphs. However, owing to their size and strength, Praetorians simply had no need for stealth and tactical movement in most cases and would attack targets directly. Owing to their role in protecting the Queen herself, they would ferociously combat any threats without concern for their own safety or survival, making them dangerous opponents. Due to their role as army commanders, Praetorians were known to emit a deafening screech to summon additional Xenomorphs to their aid.[3] It was said that killing a Praetorian would temporarily disorient the Xenomorphs it coordinated.[2]


When a Hive grows over 300 individuals, the Queen chooses adult Xenomorphs from her brood to become Praetorians, the chosen are fed by Workers with Royal Jelly until the transformation take place.[2] During the transformation chosen Xenomorphs would begin to produce a pheromone that would cause the rest of the Hive to turn against and attack it.[4] This process would result in the deaths of most such individuals, but for those that survived and escaped, the ordeal would serve to strengthen the individual. Now away from the Hive, the pheromone would begin to initiate physical changes in the individual, causing them to grow into the Praetorian form.[4] Once the change was complete, the pheromone would cease to be produced and the new Praetorian would return to their Hive and take their place beside their Queen.

Royal Guard

Royal Guard[]

Some sources state that there is an intermediary stage between chosen Xenomorphs and full Praetorians, known as Royal Guards, a name which is also used to describe fully grown Praetorians. The Royal Guards are very similar to Praetorians but are smaller and weaker, have a less developed crest, and show more Warrior-like features in the shape of their carapace, tail, and overall mesoskeleton.[5] For this reason, it is possible that the Royal Guard merely represents a stage of molting for juvenile Praetorians as their bodies change from an adult Xenomorph to a fully grown hyperadult Praetorian and is not a separate caste or evolutionary stage.


It was debated whether a Praetorian will adopt genetic traits from its host as with most other Xenomorph castes, but this unlikely the case as only Drones can evolve into Praetorians.[2] The Crusher[6] is considered to be the "Praetorian form" of a Runner Xenomorph and the product of a Royal Jelly force-fed Xenomorph Sentry, the "middle stage" between a Runner and Crusher.[2]


Similar to how Praetorians are said to evolve from lower castes, if a Hive lose its Queen, a Praetorian would molt into a new one so the hive can be preserved and not claimed by another hive[2], however, if the transformation doesn't occur the hive is taken over and the former Queen's eggs and Praetorians are eliminated.[7]

Specimen 6 is an example of a presented transformation process, during its journey on BG-386, which it started as a Warrior; it absorbed a great quantity of Royal Jelly and molted into a Praetorian. Later in a Weyland-Yutani transport, it was seen molting into a Queen, as its Matriarch died at the hands of Rookie.[3]

Praetorians were also known to evolve into massive assault castes known as Ravagers or support castes designed to transport Facehuggers known as Carriers at the behest of their Queen.[8] Under certain circumstances, Praetorians could molt and evolve into Palatines, Queen-sized Xenomorphs and the personal protectors of the Queen Mother.[9] Only five Palatines ever existed at a given time.[10]

Behind the scenes[]

  • The name Praetorian is derived from the Latin word praetor, the title given to certain high-ranking officials. The Roman Praetorian Guard were the personal bodyguards of Roman emperors.
  • Praetorians constitute two of the seven "boss" characters in the video game Aliens vs. Predator (designated by an on-screen bar showing their health during the player's battle with them). The others are Wolf, the Matriarch, an unnamed Predator, Karl Bishop Weyland, and the Abomination. The Praetorians are notable in that they are the only boss character to be fought in more than one of the game's three campaigns — both Rookie and Dark fight a boss battle with a Praetorian. In fact, the Rookie fights a further two Praetorians near the end of the Marine campaign, after his initial boss battle with one, although these latter two are not considered bosses.
    • Specimen 6 herself was originally intended to be a Praetorian for at least some of the playable Alien campaign, although this was ultimately dropped; although 6 gains a Praetorian shadow and appearance beginning in the Jungle mission.
  • The Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is speculated to be a Praetorian, and is considered a "Young Queen" by the film's directors.[citation needed]
  • Although never outright stated as such in the actual comics, concept art of the Defiance Alien from Aliens: Defiance makes mention of the creature being a Praetorian.
  • The Praetorian's physical appearance in Aliens: Fireteam Elite arguably marks it as its first 'canonical' appearance within the Alien franchise, despite the caste existing many years prior.
  • Praetorians seemingly share several traits with the way real-life clownfish operate in terms of social structure. Clownfish live in groups led by the largest member (who is always female), the second-largest (always male) being the second in command, and all other members (always male) being of equal rank regardless of size. If the female dies, the male matures into a female, and the largest younger member matures into a male. It is unknown whether the writers were aware of this when the Xenomorph Praetorian was first conceived.



See also[]