The Paladins are an order of warriors who serve as the pilots of Voltron. In ages past, the Paladins were of other alien races, like Alteans and Galrans, who lived in the Castle of Lions. Ten thousand years after Alfor hid the lions on planets all across the universe, the lions chose new Paladins: five humans from planet Earth.
The motif of the five Paladins is that they embody the five classical elements: water (ice), earth, fire, air, and plant life or "forest." Each has a specific trait that the lion looks for in a pilot.
Each Paladin wears uniform armor and wields a weapon device known as a Bayard, and pilots a Lion whose Quintessence mirrors their own. The Black Paladin acts as the leader of the other four Paladins. The most recent leader was Keith, who has since retired from Voltron to lead the Blade of Marmora.
In order to be a Paladin of Voltron, one must be chosen by one of the Lions as a compatible partner. The lions choose their pilots by seeking warriors that embody their spirit.
- The Black Lion requires someone charismatic and heroic. A natural leader whom other will follow without hesitation.
- The Red Lion requires someone hot headed and stubborn, but who still accepts the Black Lions Paladin as leader, prioritizing the good of the team over their own glory.
- The Green Lion requires someone intelligent and curious.
- The Blue Lion requires someone free spirited and empty minded.
- The Yellow Lion requires someone earnest and strong willed.
Furthermore, in order to form Voltron, the five Paladins must by in sync with one another. To this end, it is preferable that Paladins are selected from among warriors who have fought side by side with one another through multiple battles.
The Paladins are equipped with high tech armor that responds to thoughts like an extension of their wearer's body. They allow the Paladins instant access to their Bayards, has a built-in oxygen mask that can be activated mentally, a jet pack, and gauntlet-mounted energy shields. It is heavily protected against radiation, temperature extremes, and impact forces, as well as the degradation of bodily functions due to extensive time in zero gravity environments. This is likely by simulating gravity to a degree within the armor.
The armor's communication systems also protects the Paladins from harmful noises that could damage or cripple their hearing, as they have no trouble with hearing quiet sounds, but are simultaneously unaffected by the loud roars of the lions and blaster. The armor seems to be capable of channeling energy from within its protective layers, as Shiro is able to use his prosthetic hand's energy projection capabilities without rupturing the armor, as well as still being able to plug into Galra technology without needing to uncover the paneling to it.
The helmets also include multiple scanners that can be fed input straight from the Castle's sensors, and communications systems that allow the team direct contact with one another whether piloting their lions or mobile on foot. The visors can be completely blacked out to blind the wearers as a training tool or for protection. Though tough, the armor has been penetrated before, as Haggar and her Druids' magic seems to be particularly effective at rupturing the armor's defenses.
The armor's boots seem to be magnetic, allowing the Paladins to adhere to metal surfaces, which they often use to gain traction in zero gravity environments. Whether or not the adherence mechanism is magnetic in nature is still subject to speculation as the technology produced by Alteans is very advanced, and may instead be based in gravitational manipulation.
The jetpacks used by the Paladins appear to have limits to how long they can be run in standard gravity, as while stranded on a hostile planet after escaping the destabilized wormhole, Keith required an alternate means of leaping over a vast canyon on his own.
The armor also comes equipped with small wrist-mounted blasters, grappling devices that can operate in space, multi-spectrum search lights, and even a 3D camera capable of taking scans so detailed that a three-dimensional rendering can fool facial recognition-based security systems. The armor is also equipped with holographic displays for hacking systems as well as projecting images both two and three dimensional.
The armor also appears to adjust to the size of the wearer (being able to shrink down to fit Pidge's small size or expand to accommodate Hunk's sheer girth).
The armor's design consists primarily of a dark grey/light black full-body undersuit, and is topped by stiffer segments of white armor, accented in places with the Paladins' respective signature color. The body suit provides a strong, flexible base for the armor, while the white armor segments provide a sturdier defensive layer, similar to the design sensibilities in chain mail armor being covered by steel plate armor worn by medieval knights.
A Bayard is a Paladin's multi-function weapon, capable of taking on a unique form suited to the specific Paladin who wields it. When integrated with the cockpit control system of a lion, the Bayard can also be used to deploy a colossal variant of the Paladin's personal weapon as an armament for Voltron.
Each Lion comes equipped with a small transportation vehicle unique in design for its Paladin to traverse environments; the speeder drops from the Lion's chest, and is stored in the Castle of Lions when the Lion is not in use, transporting the Paladin to the Lion when needed. The speeders are hover vehicles that appear to either have the same seat used for piloting a Lion or a similar design, though the exact workings between the speeder and cockpit is unknown.
- The Paladins, sometimes known as the Twelve Peers, were the foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court, according to the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. They first appear in the early chansons de geste such as The Song of Roland (named for the foremost/leader of the Paladins), where they represent Christian valour against the Saracen hordes inside Europe.
- The armor variant worn by the original Paladins bears a marked resemblance to the armor worn in the original Voltron: Defenders of the Universe series, including the polygonal symbol right above the Paladin's foreheads on their helmets.
- The current Paladins have the power to summon their lions all the way from a moon of Saturn and can fly them without being in them in Season 7, Legendary Defender.
- The training grounds of the original Paladins was the Karthulian System.
- The Paladin Code states that a Paladin must put their team member's safety above their own.
- The Paladin Code also states that one must help all those in need.
- The Bayards are a reference to the legend of Bayard, a horse that would adjust to the size of its riders.