Does Duncan Idaho die in Dune?

Does Duncan Idaho die in Dune?

As is the case with most epic sci-fi movies and re-iterated by Dune, not everyone makes it out of alive. Duncan Idaho (played by Jason Momoa) is one such character whom we had to say goodbye to in Dune part one.

But, not all goodbyes are real in science fiction. Though there is no time travel involved in Dune, there are still some grey areas that make it possible for favorites to return.

In the film, we do see Duncan Idaho die a heroic death. But there’s a twist in the tale.

Duncan Idaho does die in both the books and the movie. But as per the books, he returns from the dead as a Ghola through a process of cloning carried out by the Bene Tleilaxu. So, the original Idaho is dead but a clone of him returns.

To understand the nitty gritties, you’ve got to dig into the book. It seems like Duncan Idaho may just be back for part two. Wondering how that’s possible? Here’s how this is supposed to work and everything we know.

Does Duncan Idaho die in Dune?

In the film, Duncan dies while fighting against the Harkonnen for House Atreides. His death was one of the film’s most memorable moments.

Dune: Duncan Idaho

In an epic battle scene, Idaho stands up again and pulls out the sword from his chest after we all considered him to be dead after being stabbed. So, it was quite heroic even though his death was devastating.

According to the books, Duncan does die in the same battle. Paul had last spotted him fighting before running away with Lady Jessica, and that was the last time anyone saw the original Duncan Idaho.

In other words, the OG Duncan Idaho is dead. But in book 2 of the Dune series, Duncan is described to have returned from the dead as a Ghola.

Gholas are basically clones which are created through cells taken from a dead person. The original person from whom the cells can be taken has to be dead so that the genetic memory can be transferred as per the books.

These gholas were created by a clan or group of genetically modified humans called the Bene Tleilaxu. (This is different from the Bene Gesserict, btw)

In Dune Messiah, the second book in the series, the Tleilaxu gives Paul a ghola or clone of Duncan Idaho as a gift. Herbert described Idaho’s Tleilaxu ghola in the books as “a being reconstructed from the dead flesh of the original.”

To make things more clear, the OG Duncan Idaho is still dead and the one who returns is a clone of Idaho created from his cells after his death.

Does Duncan Idaho die in Dune?
Duncan Idaho | Source: IMDb

But mostly, the ghola of Duncan is able to retain the OG Duncan’s memories and also behaves like him, because the cells he was created with was from the original Duncan. So it is more like a xerox copy of him which functions similarly.

But he is still not the real Duncan, who died in battle fighting for House Atreides.

Does Duncan Idaho Return?

The original Duncan does not return, but his gholas return and not once but several times as per the books.

Yes, you read right. The ghola of Duncan who the Tleilaxu gift Paul is just the beginning of multiple gholas of Duncan that we will meet throughout the series, atleast in the books.

The first ghola of Duncan was called Hayt. Also BTW, other gholas (those which are not Duncan’s gholas) are not always able to retain the memory of the OG person. This is a privilege that is specific to Duncan gholas.

In the six novels written by Herbert, there is a ghola of Duncan in each of these six books. The first book obviously features the real and original Duncan, while in the others we meet multiple gholas of him. These are also known as serial gholas.

Dune part one is based on first half of the first book only, so if the produces do have some long term plans, then you can expect Duncan to return in the next movies.

Does Duncan Idaho die in Dune?
Duncan Idaho | Source: IMDb

Whether Duncan will return in the part two itself or not depends on how much of the story the makers are taking up for each film. Since the first film did not cover the first book completely, I am guessing part two will be about the next half of book one.

In that case, we might have to wait till part 3 or 4 to see Duncan Idaho’s ghola return. Going by the books, his return is certain.

Considering Duncan’s gholas look no different from OG Duncan, Jason Momoa should be expected to return to play the role (or roles).

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About Dune

Dune (also known as Dune: Part One) is an American sci-fi film based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, directed by Denis Villeneuve.

Part One introduced the planet of Dune/Arrakis, the only place where the enhancer drug “Melange” is found and sought out by many. The Atreides House is sent to the planet as the ruling Duke, as part of their adversaries’ trap. However, the Atreides are aware of the same and aim to defend Dune and their house.

The ensemble cast is made up of Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.