|“||There is no place in this universe beyond my vision's reach.||”|
—Zarkon, in "Eye of the Storm"
Emperor Zarkon is the former ruler of Planet Daibazaal and the original Black Paladin who rules the Galra Empire that has conquered almost all of the known universe over the past ten thousand years. Corruption from massive amounts of Quintessence and the darkness of an Alternate Reality led Zarkon to violently turn against King Alfor and attempt to claim Voltron for himself. Long believing the Lions were destroyed, he seeks to reclaim Voltron from the new Paladins; he is ultimately killed by his own son, Prince Lotor.
Zarkon has the appearance of a tall Galran male with gray skin and glowing violet eyes that have no visible pupils or irises, although his eyes were originally comprised of red irises, visible pupils, and yellow sclerae prior to his corruption by Quintessence and darkness from an Alternate Reality. His skin was also once much less pale and more purple in color. Zarkon's face is angular and square, but thin, as his skin has receded to give him prominent cheekbones and a withered appearance befitting of a revived corpse.
He has pointed ears with elongated lower lobes, a dark gray plated scalp, thick eyebrows, and two dark growths on either side of his jawline - all of which are kept mostly hidden under his maroon and gray crown; this headpiece covers the front of his scalp, extending down the length of his flat nose much like his plated scalp, and frames the length of his jaws, leaving his face and chin exposed. He has a scar extending from under his left eye down across his mouth, which has noticeably jagged lips reminiscent of fangs - although Zarkon has a true set of pointed teeth underneath.
The emperor wears maroon armor accented with dark gray over a black space suit. On his cuirass, the armor has four glowing violet lines curving downward towards the center, and upward towards his shoulders. He has thrusters mounted on the back of his legs to assist in flight instead of a jetpack on his back. Along with his armor, Zarkon usually wears a black cape clasped at his shoulders that is long enough to reach his calves, with blue lining the inside.
Additionally, Zarkon tends to wear a royal robe over his armor and black cape. This attire is comprised of gray armor with large and high-set pauldrons, and a plated front resembling the symbol of the Galra Empire. It is accented with various glowing violet areas at his neck, shoulders, back, and chest. The robes contain a long maroon cape to cover his entire body and drag along the floor, with a darker maroon cloth hanging at the front, accented near the hem with more gray design.
Ruthless and obsessed, Zarkon is a tyrant whose cruelty is known across the universe. He has a single-minded goal of capturing Voltron, particularly the Black Lion he formerly piloted. Zarkon rules his empire with a calm confidence that nothing is out of his reach or sight. He believes weakness is an "infection" best cut off than to be allowed to spread, and it is this mindset that has him order a commander executed for choosing to save his own crew than complete his mission. His view of weakness extends to the belief that concern for other people's lives is an easily manipulated and exploited target. This cruel mentality is what he instills in his personally trained commanders, such as Sendak.
As time wears on, Zarkon's obsession with the Black Lion proves the emperor is not as stoic as he lets on; he becomes frustrated and prone to violence against his own subordinates, ignoring their advice to exercise caution or concern for his health. He believes in having absolute command over the Black Lion, which he sees as nothing but a weapon, and he has no respect for trust built between a Paladin and their Lion. His relentless pursuit of the Lion is a weakness of his own that Team Voltron uses against him to secure his defeat.
Before the war, Zarkon was a far more noble soul. While still quick to anger and rather stuck up, Zarkon had good intentions throughout much of his life. He cared deeply about the safety of his people and home world and fought tooth and nail to ensure the safety of the Galrans. Moreover, Zarkon loved his wife, Honerva more than anything else. So much so that he was willing to betray his allies and dear friends for her well being. After the Paladins expedition into the Rift, Zarkon was thought to have died. In actuality, Zarkon was reborn into immortal being after the ordeal and adopted his pure evil personality he would use to rule the Universe with an iron fist for over 10,000 years.
Perhaps as consequence of his rebirth into heartless tyrant and monster he unfortunately became, Zarkon lost his ability to be a kind and considerate person, let alone to be truly compassionate to others and understanding bonds between one and another. A testament of Zarkon's dark transformation are his eagerness to turn against his own allies if it suits his needs, not comprehending the fact that bond with Black Lion only stronger through mutual trust, and having no true attachment to his son, Lotor. Worse, Zarkon also no longer concern his people's well-being due to his pursuit of power, resulting some Galrans formed Blade of Marmora to oppose him in the first place. All in all, the young and idealistic king Zarkon used to be was dead in more than one way on the very instant he was overexposed to darkness of alternate reality and Quintessence, and replaced by ruthless, treacherous, manipulative, and unstable monster with superiority complex.
- Bayard: Takes various forms depending on Zarkon's will including an energy shield, an energy sword, a greatsword, a cannon, a mace, and a chain whip.
- Royal Armor: Armor that allowed for safe travel in space; it has no helmet and therefore does not appear to provide him with a breathable atmosphere. For brief sustained flight, Zarkon has thrusters mounted to the armor at his calves instead of a jetpack on his back. His second set of royal armor entails a face covering and a supply of Quintessence.
- Quintessence: He regularly absorbs the substance to amplify his strength and seemingly extend his lifespan. After nearly dying in a battle against Voltron, Zarkon is sustained in a coma by the substance and has canisters of Quintessence built into his new royal armor when he awakens.
Apart from close-combat and piloting prowess, Zarkon has these notable abilities:
- Battle Master: When not using weapons, Zarkon has shown outright brutal hand-to-hand combat prowess. His proficiency with his Bayard's multiple forms is uncontested.
- Leadership: His skill in leadership is proven by his status as emperor on Daibazaal in the past and his former status as the Black Paladin prior to his corruption.
- Lion Bond: Because of his former status, Zarkon retains a heavy connection to the Black Lion; with assistance from Haggar and her Druids, he can determine the Lion's location across vast distances and mentally take control of it to force Voltron to disband. This connection also allows Zarkon's essence to travel to mysterious realm where if he dies, his body in the physical realm will die as well, but while he feels all pain dealt to him, the sustained wounds do not appear on the his physical body. This bond is weakened once Shiro gains the Black Lion's favor.
- Longevity: His lifespan is seemingly amplified by Quintessence or attributed to his corruption, allowing him to exist for 10,000 years. He is able to survive in the vacuum of space without breathable air.
- Super Strength: Regular absorption of Quintessence amplifies his natural Galran strength. He is a highly skilled combatant and is powerful enough to take on the Red Lion without the need to pilot a machine of equal caliber, using only the Black Bayard. His official strength stats are maxed.
- When Allura awakens from her cryo-sleep, she refers to Zarkon as the "King of the Galra", implying Zarkon's empire was spawned from a kingdom in the past. Conversely, during flashbacks prior to his planet's destruction, Zarkon is referred to as "Emperor" and refers to his own domain as the "Galra Empire", suggesting he has only ruled an empire and not a kingdom.
- During flashbacks, Zarkon is voiced by Kevin Durand instead of Neil Kaplan. Executive staff explains that a different voice actor was chosen to represent how Zarkon is not the original person he once was.
- Zarkon is based on the character Zarkon of the previous Voltron franchises, who in turn was based on the character Daibazaal of Beast King GoLion.
|Royal Family||Zarkon ◆ Lotor|
|Covenant||Haggar ◆ Druids|
|Commanders||Branko ◆ Galra Commander ◆ Gnov ◆ Janka ◆ Ladnok ◆ Morvok ◆ Prorok ◆ Ranveig ◆ Sendak ◆ Sniv ◆ Throk ◆ Trugg|
|Generals||Acxa ◆ Ezor ◆ Narti ◆ Raht ◆ Zethrid|
|Officers||Beta Traz Warden ◆ Haxus|
|Robeasts||Drazil ◆ Galactic Gladiator ◆ Prorok|
|Team Voltron||Allura ◆ Coran ◆ Hunk ◆ Keith ◆ Lance ◆ Pidge ◆ Shiro|
|Galra Empire||Acxa ◆ Beta Traz Warden ◆ Branko ◆ Ezor ◆ Galra Commander ◆ Haggar ◆ Haxus ◆ Ladnok ◆ Lotor ◆ Morvok ◆ Narti ◆ Prorok ◆ Raht ◆ Sendak ◆ Throk ◆ Trugg ◆ Zarkon|
|Blade of Marmora||Antok ◆ Kolivan ◆ Regris ◆ Thace ◆ Ulaz|
|Galaxy Garrison||Iverson ◆ Matthew Holt ◆ Samuel Holt|
|Arusians||Arusian King ◆ Klaizap ◆ Moontow|
|Balmerans||Shay ◆ Rax|
|Mer||Blumfump ◆ Florona ◆ Luxia ◆ Plaxum ◆ Swirn|
|Olkari||La-Sai ◆ Lubos ◆ Ryner|
|Other Aliens||Alfor ◆ Baujal ◆ Myzax ◆ Nyma ◆ Olia ◆ Ozar ◆ Rolo ◆ Remdax ◆ Sal ◆ Slav ◆ Te-osh ◆ Vakala ◆ Varkon ◆ Xi|
|Other Humans||Colleen Holt ◆ Keith's Father|
|Robots||Beezer ◆ Rover|
|Aliens||Altean Scientist ◆ Hira ◆ Slav|