Praetorian Xenomorphs are a part of evolutionary step before transition to become Queen in the life cycle of the Xenomorph species, and are the most widely acknowledged form of Xenomorph to emerge from expanded universe AVP franchise. Praetorians function as guards to their Hive's Queen or Empress and unlike other Xenomorph types, Praetorians rarely operate outside of or leave their Hive grounds. They are among the largest and most powerful Xenomorph strains, aside from Queen/Empress/Matriarch classes. In general (most of time, not always), Praetorians' heads resemble that of Queens'.
With a possible exception of the Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (stated by the movie makers as the young queen), Praetorians have not been seen on films but have regularly starred in the expanded universe instead, first appearing in the 1999 video game Aliens versus Predator. They have gone on to be a staple feature of the various video games based on the AVP universe.
Majority (there are always exceptions to the rule in all organisms) of Praetorians' most noticeable feature is their large head crests, similar to that of a Queen, which they will often utilize to ram their preys/targets/intruders in a charging attack. But unlike Queens, Praetorians do not possess a second pair of arms on their chest. Like Queens, Praetorians typically possess longer and bigger dorsal back tubes that may or may not end in a sharp point. The feature all Praetorians share is their titanic sizes: though a 'bit smaller' in size, they are still far larger than typical Xenomorphs, typically standing at least 10 feet tall, towering over lesser Xenomorphs around them. To match their big size, Praetorians are inhumanly strong and their thicker exoskeletons, known to be bulletproof in some cases, enables them to shrug off damages that would be critical several times over to most other Xenomorph cousins. They are capable of crushing entire squads of human marines single-handedly and are more than a match for Predator in close combat. Despite their gargantuan size, they are almost as fast and agile as their smaller Xenomorph siblings. But the big size comes with a massive body weight: Praetorians are always seen in a permanent bipedal position, and they cannot scale walls or ceilings because of their heavy body bulk and weight, essentially dexterity is being sacrificed.
Praetorians can spit acid in far larger quantities than other Xenomorph spitters, as well as using their claws and long blade-tipped tails as slashing and stabbing weapons, making them deadly at any range. Most Praetorian types are dark in color, typically black but sometimes blackish-blue, very rarely other colors.
As seen in AVP (2010), a Warrior Xenomorph can molt into a Praetorian if exposed to Royal Jelly.
During the molting process of transition from a Warrior to a Praetorian, the initiate creature emits pheromones that enrage other strains, making the hives by default extremely hostile to the creature-in-transition; this process would result in the deaths of most such individuals. However, for those that survived and escaped (only the strongest and most resilient live long enough to escape, of course), the pheromone would begin to initiate physical changes/alteration in the individual, causing them to grow into the Praetorian form. Once the change is complete, the pheromone would cease to be produced and the new Praetorian would return to their Hive and take their place beside their Queen.
Cunning and surprisingly high intelligence are traits of all Xenomorphs, but Praetorians are smarter and even more cunning than typical Xenomorphs. However, due to their size and strength, Praetorians simply have no need for stealth and tactical movement in most cases and will just attack targets directly. Owing to their role in protecting the Queen herself, they will ferociously and aggressively combat any threats without concern for their own safety or survival, making them tough opponents to deal with. Some Praetorians have been known to emit a screech that can summon additional lesser Xenomorphs to their aid; the Praetorian itself will then hold back to recuperate while the lesser caste members engage the target.
Similar to how Praetorians are said to evolve from Warriors, Praetorians themselves are often said to evolve into Queens. In the video game Aliens vs. Predator (2010), Specimen 6/Number 6 ultimately evolved into a Queen from the Praetorian stage. 6 molted into the Praetorian at an unknown point; after being captured by Weyland-Yutani Combat Androids and Dr. Groves when it was in unconsciousness caused by the death of The Former Queen (The Matriarch). Then after consuming lots of royal jellies throughout the gameplay, The Specimen 6 escaped molted/evolved into the Praetorian and slaughtered the Combat Androids. 6 captured Dr. Groves alive and after that, 6 molted/evolved into the Queen.
In the game Extinction, Praetorians could molt into Ravager Xenomorph and Carrier Xenomorph.
- Aliens versus Predator
- Aliens versus Predator 2/Primal Hunt
- Aliens versus Predator: Extinction
- Aliens vs. Predator (2010) - 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.
- AVP: Evolution
- The word praetorian is derived from the Latin "praetor", a prestigious title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men occupying in one of two official positions: the commander of an army or an elected magistrate. The Roman Praetorian Guards were the personal bodyguards of Roman emperors.
- Due to a Praetorian's head crest resembling that of a Queen, they are occasionally mistaken by people who are not AVP aficionados for Queens.
- The Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is speculated to be a Praetorian, and is considered a "Young Queen" by the film's directors.
- The Crusher may be a possible variation of the Praetorian, spawned from a Runner evolutionary line instead of a Warrior.