Confirmed in Canon: Most Space Marines are Asexual

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By Joshua Waddles

Warhammer 40K has never been very graphic in terms of sexual scenes. Even so, sexuality is a part of characters and 40K often includes scenes in which one character has lewd feelings for another.

But very rarely with space marines, except in the case of The Emperor’s Children, who follow the chaos god of pleasure. Space marines (most) do not feel the emotion of fear, and many fans have speculated that they do not feel sexual desire either.

This theory has been confirmed in canon in the novel Soul Hunter by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. The prologue of the novel describes the transition of the Night Lord, Talos, into a space marine. One quick scene describes his early stages of genetic alteration as he stood naked in a room with many other initiates.

“He barely notices them. Sexuality is a forgotten concept, alien to his mind, merely one of ten thousand humanities his consciousness has discarded.”


Bowden may not have specifically thought of the asexual orientation, or even been aware of it, or else he likely wouldn’t have chosen to associate the lack of sexual desire with a lack of humanity. But the brief scene confirms what many fans have theorized for years: most space marines are asexual.
The exception, again, would be The Emperor’s Children, which other fans have used as an example to argue that space marines are not asexual. Rule books described the Siege of Terra and The Emperor’s Children committing rape. One counter point to that argument would be that rape is a crime of cruelty and a desire to harm rather than of sexual desire.

But the novel Farseer by William King goes a little more in depth with the hedonism of at least one of The Emperor’s Children. Exiled for killing another member’s “pleasure slaves,” the chaos marine in this novel traveled on board a ship with several different Slaaneshi sex cults who had daily orgies. While the novel doesn’t directly mention the chaos marine himself getting involved, he did make an obscene proposition to an eldar warrior.

Fans take The Emperor’s Children as proof of concept that space marines can be sexual beings, but other fans have pointed out that The Emperor’s Children are not like any other space marines or chaos marines. For one thing, chaos gods often alter the biologies of their worshippers or victims. Tzeentch, The Lord of Change, delights in mutating humans and chaos marines with extra eyes, limbs and psychic abilities. It stands to reason that Slaanesh, The Prince(ss) of Pleasure, would alter the biologies of Slaanesh worshippers to make them feel sexual desire.

In addition to that, The Emperor’s Children have had their genetics manipulated by Fabius Bile, former apothecary of The Emperor’s Children. The specific point of these genetic manipulations where to enhance their feelings of pleasure.

It’s also worth noting that not all space marines respond the same to the genetic engineering. It’s been well documented that the genetic engineering and augmentation process removes the ability for most space marines to feel fear, but some do. In A Thousand Sons: All Is Dust by Gram McNeil, several of the pre-Horus Heresy Thousand Sons are shown to feel fear. This continues in Ahriman: Exile by John French, which shows that many of the chaos space marines faction The Harrowing also feel fear. For a non-corrupted example, Ragnar Blackmane, of The Space Wolves, is shown to feel a sense of unease when entering small spaces in Ragnar’s Claw by William King. Although not at the level of fear, this sense of unease points to a case of claustrophobia in the character.

But the fact that not all space marines turn out the same could also be used to argue that Talos, in Soul Hunter, is a special case. Although the context implies his lack of sexual desire is due to his ascension to an Astartes, it didn’t say that all of the other initiates turned out the same way. But still, considering the lack of even a hint that non-Slaaneshi worshipping space marines feel sexual desire, the evidence seems pretty conclusive.

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  1. Most marines are forced to be asexual, but there may be marines that were ace even before they transitioned and if they did not, they’d be asexual humans today. Marines sure can get homoromantic between them though


  2. yeah so uh

    Astartes are genetically engineered superhumans. Part of the process is, depending on the chapter, either physically removing or conditioning the mind and body’s capability for arousal.

    The fact that a Marine doesn’t feel these impulses doesn’t make him part of the funny alphabet crowd, it just means the man’s more focused on bolters and praying than the next time he’s gonna have a nice evening at home with someone who isn’t a 7’5″ demigod.


    1. Nobody is trying to turn our favorite emotionless murder machines into LGBTQ+ activists. That just wouldn’t make sense. They effectively have little to no empathy, why would they care about anyone’s rights? Furthermore the idea that the fascist AF Imperium would let any kind of group that offers people a sense of identity apart from the state to exist is downright laughable based on what we know about them. Asexual is just a word that means not-sexual. And honestly it makes a ton of sense that the higher ups in the famously-cruel imperium would, chemically, surgically, or through conditioning, castrate their super soldiers. In real earth history horny soldiers have fucked up countless things. Sex education in the US exists because horny WW1 troops kept getting diseases from fucking random people when on campaign. You can’t have your perfect super-soldier running off to an alien brothel or something so yeah you either replace his junk with another spare combat knife (or bolt mag, krak grenade, neutron laser, whatever) or you make him focus on his bolter drills by indoctrinating the libido out of him as part of the standard space marine brain-washing. Either way I think we’re all talking about the same thing here. Space marine doesn’t want to find holes, he wants to make new ones in the aliens and heretics he meets, violently, and more importantly for this conversation: platonically.


  3. “Artificially nutering a human when they become a space marine is not the same as them being born with no sex drive and/or growing into puberty and realising they have no sexual desire. Get bent alphabets”. – Ahriman


  4. I would also point out that most initiates are aged 8 to 10 years old at the start of the process. Not many boys that young even think about sex after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This doesn’t make it conclusive as many writers will alter the lore in ways of noncannon. Also, examples given as evidance are all anecdotal,so hardly conclusive, moreso circumstantially heavy or likly due to lack of countering evidance. In this case all it would take is a positive and burden of proof to prove a negative is much harder.


  6. Fucking DUH!!!

    Don’t even make this into a 300+ genders article. They’re bio-engineered superhumans, not whiny brats on Tumblr.


  7. Ragnar Blackmanes mate Hegir has tender feelings for the female head navigator of House Belisarius, Ragnar gets worried about potential impropriety. Alas! I forget the title of book and the name of the woman!


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