I have been looking through some pictures and I started to notice that in some pictures of the battles, some leaders won't be wearing any type of helmet. Is there any lore to this or do I have to think outside the universe and remember it's a game company and leaders should have some personality..

4 Answers 4


In the game parlance, it was designated that many of the "leader" figures were seen without helmets, giving them "personality" and making them easier to distinguish on the battlefield with hundreds of other miniatures.

enter image description here

  • And in the same tradition, many paintings are made with a single figure or leader types exposing their faces without helmets. The guy without the helmet is the "sergeant."

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • Is there any way to square the circle to explain why anyone on a Warhammer 40K battlefield might eschew a helmet and walk around with their head exposed? (Let's assume they still carry it to protect themselves against gasses and the like.)

  • Given the range of experience and battle savvy, it may come to pass that some of the more senior Space Marines may decide they won't wear a helmet all the time, partially as bravado and partially to help drive morale of their troops.

  • 3
    A thought: Helmets limit field of vision, but provide additional information (HUDs and whatnot). Assuming the latter can be compensated by decades of experience, one may want to eschew the confines of the helmet to get a better overview and better peripheral vision.
    – user36219
    Mar 13, 2015 at 12:19
  • 5
    The only in-universe explanation I can come up with is general badassery.
    – Omegacron
    Mar 13, 2015 at 14:10
  • 2
    +1 for increasing their own troops' morale, also if a Marine is especially feared by the enemy, seeing their face in battle could break the morale of the opposition.
    – Dan C
    Mar 13, 2015 at 15:45
  • I don't remember any Space Marine (except the Primarchs) not wearing a helmet during a battle in the Horus Heresy book series. They spend most of the time speaking to their battle brothers through radio. Maybe younger generations of Marines have gone careless?
    – Taladris
    Apr 15, 2021 at 15:03

A helmet, even advanced helmet such as that of space marines, can restrict your ability to see and hear clearly. Additionally, many leaders use Iron Halo or similar forcefields, reducing the need for helmets


Space Marines don't think like we do, not at all. They are not Soldiers as we would think of them, they are religious zealots. Fanatical devotees of the church genetically and surgically altered over millenia to become the ultimate killing machine in the name of the Emperor.

The empire is hierarchical, so the Captain is, to his marines at least, literally an extension of the Emperors will. Are you saying a helmet is more powerful than the will of the Emperor? No, it is not. The marines themselves are faceless. They represent the impersonal fist of the Emperor, they wear their chapter colours proudly and march into battle carrying enormous banners. They are not there just to win, they are there to impose religious order on any world they inhabit.

The Captain is more than just a soldier. He is a figurehead, a conduit to the emperor, a leader, a fearless warrior. The troops must see his rage and disgust at the filth which defiles the name of the Emperor.

What happens if he gets shot in the face? Well, a Space Marine is hard to kill, but maybe they get lucky and take him down. What is left of his brain is built into a Dreadnought, a holy walking tank, more deadly than ever. In death he can serve even better than in life.

  • 1
    Is this an attempt to answer the question or just your opinion of Space Marines in general?
    – Daft
    May 8, 2015 at 13:51
  • 2
    Every faction in Warhammer 40k does this, not just the Space Marines.
    – evilsoup
    May 8, 2015 at 14:02
  • It's an attempt to explain the fictional mindset of Space Marines, and thus why their leaders don't wear helmets. You have to think about it from their perspective.
    – DX101
    May 8, 2015 at 19:29
  • No it's not... It's just a rambling rant about Space Marines and the Imperium, not one word about WHY a commander doesn't wear a helmet.
    – Daft
    May 10, 2015 at 4:53
  • 1
    For the record, a bullet to the head is more powerful than the will of the Emperor.
    – Omegacron
    May 11, 2015 at 14:40

Most Chapters hand down the armor to successive generations. Officer armor tends to have more detail.

So one explanation can be that the knowledge to fix the artificer armor helmets has been lost.

Helmets are destroyed and never remade. That would "offend" the spirit of the original suit.

Some Chapters like Space Wolves actually prefer their own senses to the automated features of the helmet.

EDIT: Wanted to put this in a comment but it was too large so Daft here is it.

The answer is not explained nor will it ever be in canon. Plausible answer is some dont want to wear it (Like Space Wolves). The Space Wolves novels and novellas are filled to the brim with individual marines explaining the superiority of their own helix over the autosenses of the helmet. And speaking strictly from the Mechanicus perspective. Adding something new to a machine spirit is frowned upon as the "machine spirit" doesnt like it. So in case of somebodys helmet beeing completly destroyed they cant have another built. Lastly seeing as all the ornamental armor is hand-me-down the leader figures wont have helmets. (WHY you ask?)

What is the easiest way to kill an enemy officer? A high enough caliber to the head. What happens when you use a f.ex. a meltagun on somebodys head? the head and helmet gets blown off and that particular marine is dead.

So Daft, My answer is 2 fold. Some dont want it, some cant use it.

  • 1
    Even in the time of the Heresy, when the armour was being mass produced, commanders often went without helmets. Case in point: Gavriel Loken of the pre-Heresy Luna Wolves.
    – Daft
    May 8, 2015 at 10:00
  • Theahrics and badasery. Nothing else Daft, and thank you again. You do not have to not wear a helmet to be recognised in the W40k universe. They have HUD display with locator beacons for every member of a unit represented. So explaining not wearing a helmet with comes down to wither the stuff i wrote about or about the artists wanting us to relate more to a character. Somebody having an actual face is easier to relate to than somebody that looks like countles others.
    – Cherubel
    May 9, 2015 at 20:12
  • So what's your answer?? Because their armour is a hand-me-down or because they're trying to inspire their troops ?
    – Daft
    May 9, 2015 at 20:47
  • -1 from me. There is nothing in lore suggesting that replacing a helmet will upset the machine spirit of Power Armor. In fact, the TechMarines repair/replace armor components on a constant basis.
    – Omegacron
    May 11, 2015 at 14:54
  • 1
    repair yes. replace never. the armor is sacred and it can never be relpaced. specially not the artificer armor as the knowladge of how to craft is lost. otherwise all the marines would have the artificer armour and not the standard mk"whatever number" variants. Many Chapters dont even have the knowledge to even produce new armor for their marines. or dont have the resources and the infrastructure. Not every chapter has the resources of the Ultramarines or the space wolves etc.
    – Cherubel
    May 12, 2015 at 9:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.