Gene expression analyses of microglia, the tissue-resident macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS), led to the identification of homeostatic as well as neurological disease-specific gene signatures of microglial phenotypes. Upon alterations in the neural microenvironment, either caused by local insults from within the CNS (during neurodegenerative diseases) or by macroenvironmental incidents, such as social stress, microglia can switch phenotypes-generally referred to as "microglial activation." The interplay between the microenvironment and its influence on microglial phenotypes, regulated by (epi) genetic mechanisms, can be imagined as the different colorful crystal formations (microglial phenotypes) that change upon rotation (microenvironmental changes) of a kaleidoscope. In this review, we will discuss microglial phenotypes in relation to neurodevelopment, homeostasis, in vitro conditions, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases based on transcriptome studies. By overlaying these disease-specific microglial signatures, recent publications have identified a specific set of genes that is differentially expressed in all investigated diseases, called a microglial core gene signature with multiple diseases. We will conclude this review with a discussion about the complexity of this microglial core gene signature associated with multiple diseases.