- "Hail to the king, Baby!"
- —Duke Nukem's catchphrase[src]
Duke Nukem is a legendary American hero who has defended Earth from various evildoers over a dozen times, emerging triumphant over every threat. He is the flagship character for an entire franchise named after him.
Though little is known of Duke's early life other than his birth date, it is known that he later joined the US Army and served under General Graves as part of the US peacekeeping force in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. He later became friends with Dylan, with Dylan mentioning that they took part in an undisclosed mission on Beirut.
Duke later left the Army, but little is known of the time between this and the events of the first Duke Nukem game, where he is hired by the CIA to save Earth from the evil machinations of Dr. Proton.
After defeating Dr. Proton and putting an end to his schemes, Duke becomes the hero of Earth. While presenting a book of his during a talk show, Duke is kidnapped by alien race known as Rigelatins. These aliens planned to eventually take over Earth, but discovered that Duke may be a threat, so they decided to deal with him on their own planet. This ordeal ended with Duke crushing Rigelatin leaders and escaping their planet.
Duke returns to Earth only to encounter another race of alien invaders, which came to capture the women of our planet. Duke defeats this threat by destroying a large portion of their invasion force, killing their Cycloid Emperor and Queen. He is hailed as a hero for this superheroic feat, and goes on to become known worldwide as a true hero of Earth.
In the peaceful years after the first alien invasion, Duke used his hard-won fame to its fullest, becoming a successful businessman and celebrity multimillionaire. He took up residence in Las Vegas, Nevada, managing franchises like Duke Burger, a successful restaurant chain; and the Lady Killer Casino. He has also appeared to be the man most desired by many beautiful women across Las Vegas and possibly the world. It is not entirely certain, but possibly it was during this time that Duke encountered many other enemies, such as Mech Morphix, Zorgonites, and, using time travel, battled other alien forces in both past and future.
Duke's time has come again many years later, when aliens returned, seemingly peacefully. However, they quickly showed their true colors, and started to kidnap women, also launching a full-scale attack on Duke with their mothership. Fighting his way through war-torn Nevada, where the aliens started their new invasion, Duke killed the new alien queen in Las Vegas, greatly helping the allied Earth Defense Forces in securing Vegas from the aliens. He also helped the EDF to destroy the Hoover Dam, which was providing power to a massive portal used to warp in alien troops for their invasion. This resulted in an infuriated US President calling down a nuclear strike on Duke's position. However, the President was killed by the new Cycloid Emperor who was in turn killed by Duke. Fortunately, Duke managed to escape the nuclear strike just in time, being rescued by an EDF dropship with his old commanding officer General Graves on board.
With the President dead, Duke announced he was going to run for office. Unfortunately, he was kidnapped by a resurgent Dr. Proton and taken to Area 51. Proton, who had been brought back to life by heavy cybernetic augmentation, told Duke he was going to use clones of Duke Nukem to destroy the aliens once and for all on the moon, where they were staging their invasion, and ruin Duke's vaunted reputation. Proton told Duke that though the alien invasion had been stopped in Nevada, they were free to regroup and begin an even larger invasion of Earth if their main base on the moon was not destroyed.
Though Dr. Proton tried multiple times to kill Duke, Duke killed Dr. Proton himself by ripping his head off, killing Proton for good. Duke also encountered his friend Dylan, who he thought had died in an alien ambush in the Hoover Dam; he also encountered General Graves. The three escaped Area 51 when it was destroyed, with Proton's entire army of cyborgs and Duke clones perishing in the flames. After escaping Area 51, Duke and Dylan found an old teleporter that would take them to the moon, where they would stop the second alien invasion. With Dylan maintaining the portal, Duke stepped through.
Braving the lunar surface, Duke found the true leader of the invasion: a massive alien empress. Duke killed the empress and ended the alien invasion once and for all, while also rescuing many beautiful kidnapped women in the process.
Personality and Traits
Befitting an All-American hero, Duke is supremely physically fit and completely confident in himself and his abilities, accomplishing sometimes superhuman feats through sheer aggression and ruthless combat skills. He is quick to a wisecrack and frequently speaks his mind, but cares little for his detractors, as he knows his heroic physical accomplishments speak for themselves.
Duke is 6"4" and is able to bench press at least 600 lbs. He is strong enough to easily overpower many inhuman enemies at melee combat, including cyborg Dukeinators and raging alien Pig Cops; his Mighty Boot attack in Duke Nukem Forever has been shown to decapitate enemies; and he has also been shown to rip a head completely off its body using brute strength alone. He is tough enough to trek unprotected through the hostile surface of the moon, as seen in the new Duke Nukem Forever DLC. Duke is also highly skilled in using various types of firearms and explosives, able to wield nearly everything from contemporary weapons like pistols, assault rifles and pipe bombs all the way to experimental human or outright alien weapons like the Shrink Ray or alien Enforcer Gun.
Duke is never seen without his signature sunglasses, red tank top, and blue jeans; he is also outfitted with a black combat harness that contains many utility pouches for extra ammo or explosives. His hairstyle is the constant platinum blond, military-style haircut seen since his debut. Finally, he is rarely seen without his favorite sidearm, the gold-plated M1911, marked with Duke's symbol, the Nuke Logo.
In the very first Duke Nukem game, Duke has a muscular build and sports a blond crew-cut hairdo, a pink vest with a white t-shirt underneath, dark blue jeans and a light blue belt with a gold belt buckle.
Duke Nukem II
Duke's appearance in Duke Nukem II is similar to his previous one except that his pink tank top is now red and he has two metal clamps on his biceps.
Duke Nukem 3D
In Duke Nukem 3D, Duke has undergone significant aesthetic changes, including black sunglasses, blue jeans, a gold Nuke Logo belt buckle, his red tanktop, Size 13 steel-tipped leather boots, his signature jet pack and a Bandolier which holds Duke's pipe bombs, ammo, key cards and tripbombs. This is Duke Nukem's most iconic attire.
Duke Nukem Forever
In Duke Nukem Forever, Duke's appearance is mostly the same as his Duke 3D attire but with a few changes, like a silver circular Nuke Logo belt buckle and black/red fingerless gloves with the Nuke Logo stitched into them.
- Duke Nukem has been voiced by Jon St. John in all games since Duke Nukem 3D. The one exception is Duke Nukem II, where he was voiced by Joe Siegler.
- Duke Nukem is an homage to the 80s/90s action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Bruce Campbell, Kurt Russell, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Roddy Piper and many other iconic heroes from that time.
- Most of Duke Nukem's quotes are taken from iconic movies of the 80s/90s, most notably in Army of Darkness is Bruce Campbell's "Come Get Some!" and "Hail to the King baby" and from Roddy Piper's They Live came the line "It's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum and I'm all outta gum!".
- Duke Nukem was crowned the undisputed king of PC gaming in 1996 for his groundbreaking game Duke Nukem 3D.
- Duke Nukem was the subject of an episode of the online series Game Theory, which shows the sources of inspitation for the character.
- Duke Nukem has also been listed on many "Best Characters of all time" lists and even managed to be ranked at number one on a majority of them.