|“||You want to see my power? The strength of the Empire flows through my veins, and you will feel its wrath!||”|
Zarkon was the ruthless and overbearing ruler of the Galra Empire and had been ruling into the present day for 10,000 years. He was once the a Paladin of Voltron as The pilot of the Black Lion until he attempted to use Quintessence to save his wife Honerva which resulted in them both being corrupted by it, turning Zarkon into the heartless warlord he was known as. After a battle with the new Paladins of Voltron, he was gravely injured and his son Lotor took control of the empire, until he returned and retook command, naming his own son a traitor to the Empire and for him to be killed on sight. In a final battle, Zarkon fought his son, yet was overcome and finally killed by Lotor, his death splintering the Galra Empire.
Originating from the planet Daibazaal, Zarkon was originally a freedom fighter alongside King Alfor of Altea and three others from different planets, despite their planets' histories of fighting one another. One night a comet fell from the sky while they were having dinner together. The people of Altea studied the unknown substance from the comet itself while the people of Daibazaal studied the crater it left since it seemed to lead to another world. After many years of experimenting, during which Zarkon married an Altean alchemist named Honerva, an unknown life form escaped from the rift. Worried this might doom their universe, Alfor presented five ships that he made from the comet, The Five Lions of Voltron, and Zarkon became the Black Paladin. Together they formed Voltron and destroyed the creature.
After the fight, Alfor suggested to close the rift to prevent more creatures coming through but Zarkon refused, fearing he'd lose the new power source it provided. This created a slight rift between the two.
Despite this they used Voltron along with the other Paladins to bring peace to the Galaxy over many years. However he and his wife grew obsessed with the power of Quintessence, as well as the possibility of it giving them immortality. Honerva grew ill during her studies and Zarkon tricked the other Paladins into going into the rift in an attempt to cure her, but they were both exposed to an overdose of the substance and the creatures they once fought.
Presumed dead, Alfor evacuated the planet and gave orders to destroy it in order to close the rift forever. However the two woke up, corrupted by the Quintessence, and rallied their armies to take revenge for their planet by destroying Altea, killing his former friend and enslaving the Galaxy.
But King Alfor hid the Lions of Voltron from him, to prevent him from opening another rift. However, this also meant that Zarkon's campaign of terror ran unopposed for centuries. At some point during this Zarkon had a son named Lotor who was later exiled from the empire for unknown reasons.
Allura's surprise on learning that Zarkon still lives after so many millennia suggests that his lifespan is not natural to the Galra species; it is currently unknown how he has managed to survive for so long. It is hinted that his absorption and harvesting of Quintessence may be partially responsible due to its regenerative properties, as witnessed by Keith when a container of the substance ruptured and healed his horribly burned hand. It was discovered by Honerva before her and Zarkon's first deaths that Quintessence is indeed capable of extending the lifespans of several species seemingly indefinitely, though at the cost of one's apparent sanity and ability to feel empathy or any other sort of moral emotions. Once the paladins formed Voltron, Zarkon would send troops or have his troops attacked by Voltron and defeated on many occasions, until he found a way to track the Castle of Lions through space, allowing his fleet to easily launch attacks. He furiously searched for the Black Lion, which he believed was his and that it always would be. In a massive battle, he and the new black paladin, Shiro, fought mentally for the Black Lion, Zarkon believing power would tame it, while Shiro stood by his belief that the Lion could not be controlled or bossed around, no matter how much power the paladin had. The Black Lion then chose Shiro, shutting Zarkon out for good. Voltron then fought Zarkons own Mech, in after a long and gruelling fight, Voltron destroyed the Mech, and presumably Zarkon along with it. Shiro however, vanished, as in Season 6, he later revealed to be evaoprated by Zarkon at his last moments, forcing Black Lion to preserve Shiro's consciousness at the very last moment, leaving Zarkon destroyed a lifeless body in his place.
Zarkon survived his encounter, only due to the Quintessence in his body. Haggar watched over him as he slowly recovered, while his son Lotor took over as leader of the Galra. Eventully, Zarkon returned in a far more cybernetic body, kicking Lotor off the throne and declaring open season on his life. This led Lotor to hate his father and mother even more, and as Zarkon returned to fight Voltron, Lotor gave his offer to help them defeat him. Zarkon desired to get Lotor back and kill him, so he used the captive Samuel Holt as a bargaining chip, offering to return Sam in return for Lotor. The Paladins agreed, and they met on equal terms on a barren moon. They began the exchange, but once Zarkon had Lotor, he revealed that the Sam Holt he sent to them was a hologram— The bargain was implied to be the trap for Voltron team so he can destroy them along with Lotor while reclaiming the Lions at the same time. Fortunately, as Zarkon demanded Voltron for Sam Holt, Shiro had foreseen this act of double-crossing, smuggled his bayard to Lotor so Lotor can broke out from his chains before proceeds to keep Zarkon busy long enough for he, Matt, and Pidge to free Sam by force.
Though outsmarted, Zarkon nevertheless declared that the time had come to kill Lotor once and for all. As they fight, Zarkon told his son that he is always weak and nothing more than his greatest shame, only for Lotor rightfully responed by pointing out the irony of Zarkon's statements; All this time, Zarkon had been in severe denial from his loss of Voltron, believing himself to be nobody without both Voltron and Black Bayard. Pushed to the breaking point, Zarkon used vials of quintessence in his armor to increase his powers, only for Lotor briefly overpowered him and successfully damaged his armor. Even so, Zarkon soon turned the tide of their fight and finally defeated Lotor, and almost killed him, but the Lions intervened. Zarkon then turned on the lions, preparing to fire. With no other choice, Lotor grabbed a rod of metal from one of the Galra Ships and lunged a team his father, stabbing him in the chest with a piece from his own ship. Zarkon died, killed by his own son, finally ending his 10,000 year reign for good. .
The Death of Zarkon caused a splinter in the Empire, with a power vaccum created by his demise, which many high ranking galra tried to fill in the Kral Zera. Haggar became working Shiro , while without Zarkon, and later, even Lotor, due to the Prince being lost in the quintessanice feild, many galra commanders became warlords, controlling small parts of the empire each, often even fighting and killing each other.
A illusion of Zarkon appeared alongside illusions of Haggar, Lotor and Morvok in The Feud!, as opponents for the paladins. This Zarkon was much kinder, speaking politely to Bob throughout and displayed personality reminiscent to real Zarkon's pre-resurrected self. However, when their team lost, Zarkon and his family was dumped down a hole and they disappeared.
Haggar remained active after her husband's death although she later reunite with her family as part of her sacrifice to rebuild the lost realities.
Driven by a "might makes right" sense of entitlement, Zarkon was a firm believer in a survival of the fittest philosophy, espousing that if half a platoon or fleet were slaughtered that the survivors would have been stronger for it. He truly believes that weakness is an infection and must be eradicated and that only the strongest have a right to live and that the weak exist only for the strong to become stronger by stepping along them like a brick road built of their broken bodies.
Zarkon's knowledge and past history as a Black Paladin is repeatedly hinted at, as he repeatedly states he knows the power of Voltron better than anyone. This cryptic phrasing indicates that he has piloted the Black Lion in the past, and given how Zarkon is a calm and collected natural leader, these qualities would certain make him worthy of controlling the head of Voltron. During his battle with Shiro he even expresses a small degree of nostalgia upon seeing the Black Lion. All of these instances point towards a distinctly plausible past as a Paladin. This was explicitly revealed in the last episode of Season
Zarkon was an emotionless, bitter, uncaring and cruel being, conducting gladiatorial arena battles for his amusement. He forces weak and peaceful beings to battle against monstrous fighters, likely due to his hatred for weakness in general. Despite his ostentatious lifestyle and sizable military, he despises waste and inefficiency, opting to fund and sponsor Haggar's experiments in order to harvest Quintessence directly from planets without the cost of mining and colonizing them, so that his resources can be diverted to capturing Voltron instead.
His experiences, due to his unnaturally long lifespan, left him with a rather calm and confident disposition as there is very little thus far that is seen to fluster or agitate him. Zarkon did, however, detest those who seek greater ambition without the interests of the Galra Empire being in line with those plans. He considered grandstanding to be intolerable and indicative of an inferior leader and military officer.
He also possessed an iron-clad will as nothing deterred him from conquering the known universe in ten-thousand years. Such patience and fortitude is almost pathological as it indicates an extreme obsession that goes beyond mentally ill.
His obsession with regaining the Black Lion caused him to undergo a campaign that was repeatedly advised against by Haggar, showing how his possessive and one-track mind could cause him to ignore the wisdom of even his most trusted servants and supporters. This lead to several defeats at the hands of the Paladins and the Blade of Marmora agents within his organization. His fight against Voltron in his own Robeast armor is perhaps one of the most significant examples of Zarkon's obsession getting the better of him. Despite it having never been successfully tested, with all test pilots having died, he refused all attempts and suggestions not to use it. His condition after the battle could potentially be attributed as much to this as the damage he took from Voltron's final blow with the blazing sword.
Unlike Shiro, Zarkon believed that the bond with the Black Lion is based entirely upon one's power and will to dominate rather than a mutual trust between Paladin and Lion. This lead to him being defeated time and time again by Shiro in the metaphysical plane where their mental duels to control Black took place, as Zarkon completely ignored Black's nature as a sentient being, therefore Shiro was able to outmatch him with the lion's help.
Zarkon could be described as somewhat psychotic and remorseless, to the point of turning against his own allies if it suits his needs. His unhinged need to absorb more and more quintessence is marked with utter disregard to Haggar, who has been presumably the one to administer these treatments to Zarkon for quite some time, and has been a remarkably loyal servant.
While originally an idealistic and noble young man, Zarkon's fascination with the quintessence unleashed by the transdimensional comet and his willingness to support his wife's mutual curiosity of it began to blind him. His grief was further exacerbated by the stress of losing his wife, and so he tried to absorb quintessence directly, resulting in the deaths of both himself and Honerva. However, the unforeseen consequence of being brought back from the dead rendered Zarkon an unstable and heartless embodiment of pure evil, completely devoid of goodness he originally had that explained his utter ignorance to see Black Lion's sentience and lack of attachment towards his son Lotor (see below). The just and idealistic king was dead in more than one way.
Though he had tried to be a good and just ruler, Zarkon was also a staunch traditionalist, believing that fraternization with the serving class would lead to a loss of discipline. Also, based on Alfor's commentary regarding his disbelief in Zarkon's marriage - to an Altean of all beings no less - Zarkon was implied to have been a bachelor before his marriage due to his preoccupation with his duties.
Zarkon's deep obsession with Voltron and his sense of superiority made him suspicious of his followers and granted him a short temper. He could become blind to the machinations and stratagems of his opponents when hyper-focused on his own goals of capturing the Black Lion. Zarkon's numerous defeats are attributable to this deep-seated character flaw, as it prevents him from making sound decisions on the battlefield or heeding the warnings of his allies.
Though strict and somewhat harsh even before his corruption, Zarkon was an involved and loving husband to Honerva. He found her research fascinating and her beauty left him speechless. However, Zarkon was a profound enabler of his wife's obsession and became entranced by quintessence himself, unable to see what it was doing to both of them and their home, and so he continued to sponsor her research no matter the cost. In the end, Zarkon's emotionally unrestrained and passionate nature led him down the path that would make him both Emperor of the universe and a true monster.
Zarkon had no true attachment to his son, Lotor. This estrangement between them was so great that upon his return to the throne, Zarkon relieved Lotor of his position and later declared his son a fugitive of the Empire and enemy of the state and that his son was to be killed on sight when he discovered that Lotor had harvested a trans-reality comet. Zarkon considers his son a failure as a leader, regarding his reign as a black spot on the history of the Empire and his son an utterly disposable disgrace to their people. Despite this, Lotor overcame him and eventully killed him.
Zarkon was also a genius of unknown measurements. His abilities as a military tactician are beyond reproach, and his millennia-long reign left him with an unsurpassed ability as a leader.
As the former Black Paladin, he possessed the Black Bayard as his personal weapon. His skill with it goes beyond mastery. He is capable of using the Black Bayard to create massive guns, dense energy shields, axes, swords, and chain blades, fluidly changing its form repeatedly and without breaks or hesitation. Given his extremely long life, he had ample time to gain total control of the weapon and understand all there is to know about wielding it.
Zarkon was able to commune and connect with the Black Lion from distances that are utterly unheard of, and so was able to track it down repeatedly. He is also skilled at using these augmented mental abilities of his to psychically duel someone for control of the lion, which he has shown great proficiency in. However, after losing to Shiro (with the Black Lion's aid) in psychic combat his link to it was greatly diminished even with added power from Haggar and the Druids. Zarkon would only be able to temporarily reconnect with the Lion when Shiro reopened his link to draw the tyrant into a trap.
Zarkon's abilities with the Black Bayard extended to its usage within his giant mech-suit, able to use its standard sword form along with its chain blade mode. This shows not only his great combat skills, but also his capabilities as a pilot as well.
Interestingly, during his battle with Keith, Zarkon displayed the ability to survive in a vacuum. This indicates that Zarkon's Quintessence-enhancement treatments have left him not only with a lifespan that exponentially exceeds that of unaltered Galra biology, but also with the ability to withstand environments that would easily kill any other member of his species.
Zarkon's Quintessence-enhanced body was also capable of withstanding prolonged combat with the Red Lion, indicating a massive enhancement in strength as well, as even Galra ships have been destroyed by less than what Keith unleashed on Zarkon. The limits of the Emperor's augmented biology are unknown, but they are unmatched by any other humanoid in the series thus far. However, Zarkon was rendered comatose after his fight with Voltron using his life-threatening and unstable mech suit. So, while certainly strong, seemingly bordering on immortal, Zarkon can indeed be overwhelmed and defeated.
While a strategist of considerable skill, Zarkon's tendency towards single-focused aggressive, repetitive tactics and his obsessive nature over Voltron left him vulnerable on the battlefield and easily predictable.
- This is the first version of Zarkon to pilot a Voltron lion.
- The name of Zarkon’s home planet, Daibazaal, is an homage to the character’s original name in Golion.
- 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. 
|V • E Team Voltron in Voltron: Legendary Defender|
|Voltron (Black Lion • Red Lion • Green Lion • Blue Lion • Yellow Lion)|
|Former Paladins||Keith • Pidge • Hunk • Lance • Allura • Shiro • Shiro (clone) • Zarkon • Alfor • Trigel • Blaytz • Gyrgan|
|Additional Members||Coran • Space Mice • Rover|