The Thargoids are an intelligent, highly advanced insectoid species that have existed for millions of years. They are the only known extant spacefaring species in the Milky Way galaxy other than humanity. Thargoids are highly territorial and seemingly rebuff all diplomatic overtures with unmitigated hostility, but are also known to be extremely slow to adapt.
At some point in the distant past, the Thargoids instigated a war with another intelligent species called the Guardians over territory. Although the Guardians eventually prevailed, the Thargoids only opted to retreat because they were unprepared for a protracted campaign against a rival civilization. Thargoids and humanity have been embroiled in two wars. The first conflict occurred between 3125 and 3151, and is believed to have ended in a human victory with the Intergalactic Naval Reserve Arm's successful deployment of the mycoid bio-weapon. The second, ongoing conflict began in 3303 and has been rapidly escalating with no resolution in sight, disrupting dozens of systems across the Pleiades Nebula, Witch Head Nebula, Coalsack Nebula, and the Core Systems.
The Thargoids are an ancient, sapient, insectoid species of enigmatic origin. Data obtained from Ancient Obelisks built by the Guardians indicates that the Thargoids are several millions of years old, and likely a far older species than the Guardians. Professor Cora Shaw of the Palin Institute concluded that they were an established spacefaring species long before they encountered the Guardians. They have an affinity for ammonia-based worlds. This suggests they may have evolved in a harsh, low-temperature environment, which might explain their overdeveloped survival instincts and aggressive nature. The Thargoids are experts in bioengineering, so they may have augmented their own biology to a point where natural evolutionary processes are meaningless.
The location of the Thargoid homeworld, if such a place exists, is unknown. Professor Shaw continued to speculate that it might be somewhere beyond known space or on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy. Alternatively, the Thargoids may have become a nomadic species, existing entirely in space or within fabricated hives. It is possible they journeyed across millions of light years, from Andromeda or beyond, like a swarm of locusts seeking fresh crops to consume. Since Thargoid vessels can hover in hyperspace, it suggests that they could originate from there, or that they may use hyperspace as a conduit from a dimensional plane entirely separate from real space. Thus, the Thargoids may not just be extragalactic in origin, but extra-universal.
The Thargoids seeded a number of planets with barnacles in what eventually became Guardian space 1 to 2 million years ago. Several thousand years later, the Thargoids returned and discovered that the planets they had seeded were occupied by the Guardians. The Thargoids immediately launched an assault, making no effort to communicate with the Guardians. This tallies with the Thargoids' behaviour in human space.
After the beginning of the war with the Thargoids, the Guardians were forced to make a partial retreat. They were reluctant to take up arms with the Thargoids and kept communicating with them. Eventually, they gained enough understanding of the Thargoid language to communicate. It didn't benefit the Guardians much, because the Thargoids were determined to continue hostilities. The Guardians were forced to employ more aggressive methods to address the Thargoid threat. The Guardians used drones, autonomous war machines that could target anything that utilised Thargoid engineering. Remarkably, Thargoid bio-mechanical technology was engineered to recognise anything of Guardian origin.
It appears the Thargoids entered Guardian space unprepared for a protracted military campaign, and after facing a relentless onslaught from the Guardians' war machines they were forced to retreat.
Contact with humanity
Officially, the first encounters between humans and Thargoids occurred around an ammonia-based world in 3125, but unverified incidents involving similar ships were reported as early as the 2810s.
Between the 2810s and 2840s, the Galactic Cooperative documented a significant number of ship disappearances in its space and near the Pleiades Nebula. Investigations found no evidence of foul-play, but the disappearances and hyperdrive malfunctions continued intermittently, stoking anxiety among pilots. In 2849, the first footage surfaced of one of these "encounters", with one blurry image appearing to show an alien ship with the word "THARG" on its hull. The media immediately coined the term "Thargoid" as a name for the aliens. However, no conclusive proof of the Thargoids' existence was obtained, and they faded into folklore.
In 3111, a planetary survey team led by Professor Penelope Carver and contracted by Azimuth Biochemicals of Chukchan discovered Thargoid Barnacles and a crashed Thargoid Interceptor on the surface of the third planet of the Musca Dark Region PJ-P b6-1 system, near the Coalsack Nebula. Azimuth diverted a megaship, the Adamastor, to retrieve Carver's team and the alien samples, but the vessel was forced to depart prematurely when the survey team's base, Geological Survey 23B, apparently came under attack. However, Azimuth's personnel were unprepared for one object which was recovered from the crashed Interceptor and speculated to be the pilot or control system; the object emitted a deluge of signals that interfered with human technology, causing malfunctions in the Adamastor's hyperdrive despite attempts to contain it. As the ship passed through HIP 69200, its hyperdrive failed and more fighting broke out, and any survivors evacuated. The Adamastor consequently never reached its original destination, an undisclosed secure facility operated by Azimuth, and its autopilot steered it on an emergency return course to Chukchan at sublight speed, a journey that was not completed until 3306.
First Thargoid War
- Main article: First Thargoid War
Centuries later in the early 3120s, new reports emerged of octagonal starships of unknown design and origin, as well as hyperdrive malfunctions. In 3123, GalCop discovered the wreckage of two ships in its space that had been destroyed by more powerful laser weapons than were known to exist at the time. In 3125, independent pilots claimed that they were being pulled out of hyperspace and attacked by octagonal ships. Those who survived the experience were convinced they had encountered an alien species, and named the aliens "Thargoids" after the 29th century incidents. As the news spread, leaked Federal intelligence reports indicated that the Thargoid attacks were likely provoked by human hostility; colonists in the Veliaze system had apparently come into contact with a Thargoid deputation and assaulted it out of ignorance shortly before the attacks began. Some years later, the Thargoids disappeared as mysteriously as they had arrived.
The events surrounding the first contact with the Thargoids were mostly suppressed and forgotten, and by the 3300s the Thargoids themselves were generally regarded as fiction. According to Alliance Prime Minister Edmund Mahon, who is one of the few individuals with access to surviving records, the Intergalactic Naval Reserve Arm, or INRA, fought a war against the Thargoids and eventually secured victory by deploying a bioweapon against the aliens. The Thargoids retreated, and for many years it was believed they had been driven to extinction or even never truly existed at all.
According to the logs of the Megaship GCS Sarasvati, the First Thargoid War ended in 3151. In the aftermath, the Galactic Cooperative set up a series of deep space monitoring stations, one of which was the GCS Sarasvati, to watch for a resurgent Thargoid threat. This initiative was called Project Equinox. However, by December 27, 3155, no Thargoid presence had been detected whatsoever and members of the project questioned its usefulness. By August 16, 3172, GalCop had become weakened and fractured, and Project Equinox was shut down. Unfortunately, this occurred just as project lead Dr. Cassandra Lockhart discovered that the Thargoids had been sowing the seeds for their future return all along, and her warnings were ignored.
In the course of the war, a number of Thargoid ships were captured by the Galactic Cooperative, and later fell into the possession of the Alliance in the years after GalCop collapsed. By the 3270s, the Alliance was able to reverse-engineer Thargoid technology to produce the single most consequential hyperdrive innovation in centuries: the Frame Shift Drive. FSDs reduced travel times in Hyperspace from hours to mere seconds, opening the floodgates for human exploration and expansion. Due to the machinations of The Club, however, the Alliance did not leverage FSD technology to gain superiority over the Federation and Empire; instead, the tech fell into the hands of Sirius Corporation, which monopolized it and distributed it to all the powers and factions, ensuring no one gained an advantage. Afterwards, The Club suppressed information about the Thargoids so that it became a myth among the public.
Second Thargoid War
- Main article: Second Thargoid War
Humans began encountering signs of the Thargoids once again in early 3301 with the discovery of "Unknown Artefacts", strange devices of unknown origin found among the cargoes of secret Federation convoys. Their discovery marked the first indication that Thargoids yet existed in the depths of space, though the Artefacts, as well as the similar Unknown Probes that would be found orbiting ammonia worlds in 3302, would not be conclusively linked to the Thargoids until later. Some CMDRs believed that the Artefacts and Probes originated from an entirely unknown alien race, while others asserted that they were examples of experimental human technology. Disputes and speculation over the objects continued for months. Barnacles were also discovered in 3302 in the vicinity of the Pleiades Nebula, but their even more pronounced organic appearance also stymied analysis.
On January 5, 3303, Commander DP Sayre reported the first known encounter with an Unknown Ship, which was later confirmed to be a type of Thargoid vessel and officially reclassified as a Thargoid Interceptor. The Unknown Ship interdicted the CMDR from hyperspace and apparently scanned him before departing to an untraceable destination. The acts of interdicting a target while in hyperspace and leaving an untraceable wake signature were both well beyond the capabilities of human technology. Previously, only the wreckage of these ships had been documented.
Beginning in April, reports surfaced of Unknown Ships apparently attacking Federal Navy convoys in the Pleiades, although the mysterious vessels remained passive towards independent pilots. On June 12, 3303, Professor Ishmael Palin issued a request for scan and wake signature data from Unknown Ships, which he compared to older Thargoid samples. Palin confirmed that Unknown Ships were Thargoid in origin. A Federal fleet seized Palin's research from Orcus Crag in Pleiades Sector OI-T c3-7, but was later found to have been destroyed by the Thargoids in the HIP 17044 system.
On September 15, 3303, Chief of Federal Security Admiral Aden Tanner announced that another Thargoid attack had recently occurred in Pleiades Sector IR-W d1-55 which resulted in the destruction of another Federal fleet, including one Farragut Battle Cruiser. While the motives for this attack were unknown, Admiral Tanner confirmed that the Thargoids were now officially considered enemies of the Federation, marking the formal start of mutual hostilities between humans and Thargoids. President Hudson gave Tanner full authority over the Federal Navy to deal with the Thargoid threat. Amid speculation that Federal forces had provoked the attack, the Federation insisted that black box data from the wreckage indicated no provocation on their part; this was confirmed by the multinational xenological research group Aegis, which had also analyzed data from the attack.
The Second Thargoid War entered a new phase on September 26, 3303, when independent pilots reported being attacked unprovoked by Thargoid Interceptors at Non-Human Signal Sources. Aegis began producing various experimental AX modules to fight the Thargoids on an even footing, as conventional human weapons proved useless. The Thargoids responded by deploying more powerful variants of the Interceptor over the following weeks. The arrival of Medusae Interceptors on December 14, 3303 was accompanied by crippling attacks on three Starports in the Pleiades: Titan's Daughter in Taygeta, The Oracle in Pleiades Sector IR-W d1-55, and Liman Legacy in HIP 16753.
Over the course of 3304, the Thargoids continued to attack stations in a weekly cycle and also picked off remote Settlements, resulting in tens of thousands of human casualties. Initially, only stations in and around the Pleiades Nebula, the Thargoids' beachhead, that were hosting Aegis research labs were targeted; at the time, the labs were analyzing Thargoid Sensors and Probes in an effort to decrypt Thargoid territorial data. The attacks steadily moved towards the Core Systems, however, and on February 15, 3304, Gaiman Dock in 49 Arietis and Weyn Dock in 64 Arietis were hit, marking the Thargoids' arrival in the outer fringe of the heart of human civilization. Sightings and encounters with hostile Thargoid Scouts followed, as well as attacks on stations with no association with Aegis. In response to this crisis, Aegis unveiled a new initiative on March 9 called Eagle Eye which used an array of six Installations to intercept and analyze Thargoid transmissions to determine their next probable targets. Independent pilots were able to concentrate their efforts in defence of the targeted systems and prevent many attacks from occurring.
As of September 3304, the Second Thargoid War continued to rage in the Core Systems with no end in sight. While human pilots were able to hold their own against the Thargoids thanks to Guardian-human hybrid weapons and technologies developed by the Engineer Ram Tah, Thargoids ships still managed to overwhelm defence forces and strike stations. It was believed that the Thargoids viewed humanity's colonization of the Pleiades as an encroachment on their territory, and their hyper-aggressive nature compelled them to respond with unceasing hostility, but this, as well as the Thargoids' ultimate goal, remained unconfirmed.
Thargoids are an insectoid species. Little is known about their physical appearance and biology, and descriptions based on encounters centuries ago have yet to be verified. Their chemistry is carbon-based, but with ammonia as the solvent rather than water. If the rumours are true that they come from Ammonia-based planets then their physiology is drastically different from humans. For example, ammonia boils at -33 degrees C. Thargoids may well be acclimatised to temperatures far lower than humans. They are presumed to be highly intelligent, more than the average human due to their superior technological capabilities.
This indicates they may have evolved in a harsh, low-temperature environment, which might explain their overdeveloped survival instincts and aggressive nature. Since the Thargoids are experts in bioengineering, they could have augmented their own biology and superseded natural evolutionary processes.
According to The Club, what humans consider to be a singular Thargoid species actually consists of two distinct "dynasties": the Oresrians and the Klaxians. How Oresrians and Klaxians differ biologically, if at all, is unknown.
Not much information has been obtained about Thargoid society or culture. The only known fact is that the society is hive based, with no sense of close family. It is thought that the society is divided into colonies, possibly along the lines of ant colonies. The Oresrian and Klaxian dynasties may be two such colonies.
Thargoids are thought to have a natural affinity with space, and with Hyperspace in particular. This is due to the fact that Thargoid warriors seem to spend a large amount of time in space. Naval pilots and crews report that the warships in the war zones are encountered on repeated occasions over a period of months often without respite.
At some point, the Oresrian and Klaxian dynasties became embroiled in a civil war. Prior to 3303, the Klaxians gained the upper hand in this conflict and forced the Oresrians into a slow, continuous retreat across the galaxy, a retreat which will take them directly through human space. The Club has learned that the Oresrians planned to use human civilization as a "bullet shield" to occupy the Klaxians' attention while they escape deeper into space. This poses a potentially apocalyptic threat to humanity's survival.
Nothing is known about internal Thargoid politics or government, or why the Oresrians and Klaxians have come into conflict.
Thargoid relations with other species, as far as what is currently known, was frighteningly simple: war. The Thargoid invasions usually seemed to be prompted by the need for either agricultural or mineral resources, rather than a sociological or anthropological need to expand or colonise. In fact, the animal life on an invaded world was largely ignored unless it poses a threat to Thargoids.
Thargoid technology is extremely advanced and predicated on a unique melding of organic and inorganic components. INRA chief scientist Bexley Prince asserted that Thargoid technology is far ahead of humans. Understanding it could open up all kinds of possibilities. The applications are potentially limitless. His logs were found at the INRA base Hollis Gateway.
It is unclear whether Thargoids are a Type II or Type III civilization based on the Kardashev scale. Their lack of control over the Milky Way galaxy indicates they are Type II. However, since Thargoids may originate from another galaxy, parallel universe, or spatial dimension they could be Type III.
The decoded Guardian logs reveal that Thargoids engineered their bio-mechanical technology to recognise anything of Guardian origin during the Guardian-Thargoid conflict. Millions of years after the conflict, Thargoid devices and ships still react aggressively to the presence of Guardian technology.
The Thargoids construct most of their structures and ships using Meta-Alloys, Thargoid Resin, and Thargoid Biological Matter. The Meta-Alloys serve as a base that provides structural integrity and counters the caustic effects of the versatile Resin, which is utilized in both solid and liquid forms. Destroyed Thargoid ships vent a cloud of the vaporized form of the Resin, which is highly corrosive. The Biological Matter's purpose in Thargoid structures is unknown, but it might be used as an analogue to wiring and electronic systems in human ships and serve as the "nerves" of a Thargoid vessel.
Thargoids possess the ability to interdict human ships that are travelling through hyperspace, a feat previously believed to be impossible, as well as the ability to make untraceable hyperspace jumps and stymie any pursuers. Despite their advanced hyperspace capabilities, there is no evidence of Thargoid ships moving in Supercruise, perhaps suggesting they do not have short-range FTL capabilities.
Thargoid ships can create stable wormholes to hyperspace (witch-space). This is used to travel astronomical distances in seconds and interdict vessels. Their vessels can hover in hyperspace so they may be comfortable with residing in this higher dimensional region.
The Thargoid Interceptor has intricate technological and biological elements such as Thargoid Hearts which can repair hull damage. Thargoid Scouts lack these Hearts and are vulnerable to conventional human weapons, but the Regenerator variant of the Scout can remotely repair damage to other Thargoid ships.
Thargoid ship-based weaponry has proven to be very powerful, resulting in numerous destroyed Federal and Imperial vessels, including capital ships. CMDRs who reported being attacked by Thargoid Interceptors have noted they lost their ships very quickly under an onslaught of powerful missiles and Thargon drone swarms.
Thargoid Surface Sites
Thargoid Surface Sites demonstrate the Thargoids construct vast surface installations. The purpose of these sites is unknown, but the interiors of several have been found to contain machines classified as Unknown Devices in a centralized chamber. Thargoid Eggs can be found around and inside these sites. It is unknown what produces these eggs or what gestates inside them.
Passive drone-like devices called Scavengers were first encountered at these locations. Analyses of Scavengers showed that they contain organic and mechanical elements such as Thargoid Organic Circuitry. This discovery led many to question whether the Scavengers were sentient creatures or simple mechanical drones created by the Thargoids as workers.
Thargoid Sensors and Thargoid Probes were confirmed to be related to Thargoids after it was discovered that carrying them allowed doors at Thargoid Surface Sites to open. Inserting a Thargoid Sensor, a Thargoid Probe, and a Thargoid Link into an Unknown Device caused it to activate and display a holographic star map, perhaps a visual representation of how Thargoids catalogued geographical data. The other functions of these objects remain an enigma, however. Thargoid Interceptors have been witnessed retrieving them after September 26, 3303.
The Thargoids seed planets with organic structures called Barnacles, which extract resources from a planet and transform them into Meta-Alloys. This is an essential ingredient in the creation of Thargoid ships and technologies. The seeding of a region with Barnacles is a precursor to a future Thargoid invasion and occupation.
After September 26, 3303, CMDRs reported sightings of larger fields of so-called "Barnacle forests" in a shape reminiscent of Thargoid Surface Sites. Some of these clusters were patrolled by Scavengers.
- The Thargoids first appeared in the original Elite video game in 1984.
- Frontier Developments staff commented on the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter that all Thargoids are female. However, this is not yet confirmed in the lore of Elite Dangerous.
- The name "Thargoid" is believed to have come from the regular skit Captain Kremmen performed by radio and TV personality Kenny Everett on both his radio shows and, in animated form, on TV. The animated skits show the Thargoids as a species of tall, transparent creatures who are part of a highly-wealthy monarchical society. It is assumed that their main source of income is profiting from the sale of natural resources taken from planets they have colonised stretching thousands of light years.
- David Braben commented on the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter that should peace have ever been found with Thargoids, it would be a temporary measure, hinting at the Thargoids' eventual return in the game.
- Guardian Codex 3 Decrypted. Thargoid Log - Unsuccessful Truce
- GalNet: Thargoid Revelations
- GalNet: Genesis of the Thargoids?
- Guardian 1/28 : Thargoid Log – Barnacle Seeding
- 2/28 : Thargoid Log – The War Begins
- Guardian Codex 3 Decrypted. Thargoid Log - Unsuccessful Truce
- 4/28 : Thargoid Log – The War Machine
- 5/28 : Thargoid Log – Victory
- Galactic News: The Thargoids
- Canonn Research - Drew Wagar's Lore: The Thargoids
- The Return 2.4 Announcement - Elite Dangerous
- Elite Encounters RPG
- Data taken from Tourist Spot Beacon 0184, Lave system
- First Thargoid Contact - 2.2 Beacon
- Frontier Forums: "The Stones", post #24
- r/EliteDangerous: Crashed Sidewinder in system HIP 69200. Logs linked to the "Ghost ship"
- GalNet: 'Ghost Ship' Arrives in Chukchan System
- r/EliteDangerous: Secrets of the Adamastor (Chukchan local news article)
- Frontier Forums: "The Stones", post #36
- Elite Dangerous: Premonition
- Frontier Forums: GCS Sarasvati - early Thargoid lookout megaship
- Galactic News: The Thargoids have Returned
- Galactic News: Federal Capital Ship Destroyed by Thargoids
- Galactic News: Federation Addresses Rumours
- r/EliteDangerous: So I just got killed by a Thargoid
- Galactic News: Further Thargoid Attacks
- Galactic News: Starports Attacked by Thargoids
- YouTube: Commander Chronicles: Devastation - Elite Dangerous
- /r/EliteDangerous: So the Thargoids(?) Attacked a Station. Images Courtesy of CMDR Bad_Player
- /r/EliteDangerous: Elite: Dangerous: Another INRA Base Found, Linked To Hyperdrive Research
- Thargoid Medusa Tissue Sample
- Elite: Dangerous: INRA Base Attacked By Thargoids
- Thargoid Organic Circuitry in-game description
- Guardian Codex 1/28 : Thargoid Log – Barnacle Seeding