Mixed Canonicity
This article or section refers to elements from both Original Dune and Expanded Dune.

Bene Tleilax, or the Tleilaxu as they were more commonly called, were a group of secretive, genetically altered humans who inhabited Tleilax, the sole planet of the star Thalim.

The customs and ethics of the Bene Tleilax led to widespread revulsion by the other cultures of the Known Universe, a reaction that did little to quench the Tleilaxu's hunger to subjugate their rivals.


During the Butlerian Jihad

The Corrino Empire

The Atreides Empire


Scyltale, the Face Dancer

The Tleilaxu directly participated in the plot to destroy the royal family with the gift to Paul Atreides of Hayt, the ghola of Duncan Idaho. When Chani died giving birth to the twins Leto II and Ghanima Atreides the Face Dancer Scytale was killed by the Emperor with the help of his new-born son.

Leto II and The Famine Times

Under Leto II, the Tleilaxu chafed just as all of the old power brokers struggled against his complete authortarian rule. Near the end of his reign, the Tleilaxu participated in a direct assassination attempt against him in the festival city of On, formerly Arrakeen. They also engineered his eventual fiancee' and love, Hwi Noree; from the cells of his old friend, Malky; before the God Emperor's death on Dune. When Leto died, and the Famine Timesbegan, the Tleilaxu, just as the rest of humanity, spread throughout the cosmos in The Scattering, in an attempt to find hospitable worlds.

Formation of the Honored Matres

The Return

During the Return of the Honored Matres to the Old Imperium, the Honored Matres, seeking revenge against all Tleilaxu males, attacked and decimated Tleilax; and the only known Tleilaxu Master survivor was the most junior Master Scytale. However, his possession of numerous individuals' genetic material (including that of many Tleilaxu) made it possible for him to recreate his culture. Additionally, the successful spread of the Tleilaxu that were sent out during The Scattering, made it possible that others survived in uncharted space, undiscovered by the Honored Matres. When some these returned to the Old Imperium, they were known as the Lost Ones, especially the Lost Tleilaxu.

The Matres also killed the elder Tleilaxu Master, Tylwyth Waff, as he was on Rakis when they attacked the planet with ultra-destructive Obliterator weapons. This caused wide-spread revulsion amongst the surviving Tleilaxu, as they considered the sandworms of Dune to contain an essence of the God Emperor, their Prophet.

Erasmus, Khrone, and the Enhanced Face Dancers

Burah and the Enhanced Face Dancers

1st & 2nd Decade Aboard the Ithaca

3rd Decade Aboard the Ithaca

Uxtal and Waff

Seaworms and Return to Dune

Changelings in the Imperium

The Day of Kralizec

The great day at the end of the age occurred, Kralizec. Above the skies of Chapterhouse and Junction, human-kind made a last ditch stand against the advancing Machine fleet. Enhanced Face Dancers ensured that none of human-kind's weapons, and many of the ships malfunctioned, when the first wave of Thinking Machine ships entered the fray. It was only the intervention of the Oracle of Time which destroyed the first Machine wave.

As the Ithaca crew was lead to the heart of Synchrony, the Cathedral, the Dancers acted as bodyguards and sentinels for the Thinking Machine leaders. Scytale remained behind on the ship with Sheeana and Leto II, and released nerve gas into Synchrony, and killed many of the Machine-led Enhanced Dancers.

As the day went on, Paul and Paolo dueled and the battle proved to be inconclusive. When Paul self-healed himself after the near-fatal duel, he proclaimed that Duncan Idaho was the long-awaited super-being, or Ultimate Kwisatz Haderach. The Oracle then appeared, declared that what Paul had said was true, and then summarily banished Omnius to an alternate universe.

Khrone then spoke that the time of Face Dancer hegemony had arrived. He declared that since machines and humans had battled themselves to near-destruction; and that Face Dancers now occupied most of the positions of authority in the Old Imperium, that Face Dancers would now take their rightful place.

Erasmus then activated the Tachyon net, and in a scope of a few minutes, activated the "kill switch" in each and every Enhanced Face Dancer in the galaxies. Hundreds of millions of Enhanced Dancers died instantly throughout the cosmos, ending their threat forever.

The new proclaimed Evermind/super-being, Duncan Idaho, caused peace to happen between humanity and machine. Erasmus bonded with Idaho, died, and went into Idaho's Other Memory. Duncan then gave Synchrony to the Thinking Machines, to the Bene Gesserit, and to the Tleilaxu; for the three jointly administer in the new age.

Waff on the planet Arrakis was at first saddened as the sandworms that he had placed on the surface of Rakis, ended up dead, and could not adapt to the new conditions of the planet. This quickly turned to joy as rumblings from deep with in the surface quickly showed to be worms that had survived the over 40 years since the Matre attack. Waff gave his degenerating body to the worms as food, as he declared the return of his Prophet.


The Tleilaxu were an inherently isolationist culture that was dominated by a strict hierarchy and an overriding religious zeal. They had long focused their efforts on genetics, and the pursuit of spiritual elevation through physical refinement.

Originally trade also formed an important part of their culture. However, following revelations of their organ harvesting methods during the Butlerian Jihad they became collectively scorned and despised. This, coupled with active persecution against them, caused their trading connections to be dramatically reduced, and led to a significant change in their overall attitude to the wider universe. ==References and notes==

Tleilaxu merchants grew a long braid; the braid symbolizes prosperity -- a merchant must cut his braid if he were to experience an unsuccessful year. Tleilaxu also sharpened their teeth.


The Tleilaxu were separated into several different classes, each of which had a distinct physical appearance and role within their society. The main groups were:

  • Tleilaxu Masters: Physically they looked similar to small humans, most often with small close-set eyes and a set of small pointed teeth.
  • Face Dancers: The warrior and worker class, who were capable of adapting their physical appearance to a specific task at hand. Their doppelganger ability was also used to perform espionage against other groups. This group also included Enhanced Face Dancers created by Hidar Fen Ajidica and improved upon by Erasmus.
  • Axlotl Tanks: Little more than incubation vessels, this class bred all Tleilaxu, as well as other beings (such as gholas). It is believed these were what remain of the female sex of the Tleilaxu.


The Tleilaxu followed a strict and fervent spiritual ideology that derived itself from both the Zensunni and the Zensufi theologies. As with most cultures within the Known Universe, their faith was monotheistic. While they did not place significant importance on the Giant Sandworm, they did credit great importance to Leto Atreides II, who they saw as "God's Messenger".

The details of their religion remained largely hidden until the arrival of the Honored Matres, at which point the leadership of the Bene Gesserit, one of their great rivals, discovered some key posits of their faith.

List of Known Tleilaxu by Class

Tleilaxu Masters

Ambassadors and Envoys

Face Dancers

Elders, Traders, Scientists, and Scribes


Tleilaxu Ranks

In addition to their biological classes, Tleilaxu society and structure was strictly organized by rank.

  • Mahai or Abdl: the Master of Masters, leader of the Tleilaxu
  • Masheikh: rulers chosen from the Master class
  • Khasadar: guards and combat-ready personnel
  • Domel: domestic servants and low-level personnel

Behind the Scenes

The true reason for the revulsion of the Bene Tleilax was not cataloged by Frank Herbert. The organ harvesting plot was outlined by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson in their Legends of Dune prequel novels.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.