Characters / Warcraft The Old Gods

A character subpage for the WarCraft universe, including World of Warcraft. For the main character page, see here.

The Old Gods are the Warcraft universe's resident Eldritch Abominations. Their exact origins and purposes are unknown, but they have acted as a corrupting influence upon the works of the Titans since the birth of Azeroth. Titan history discovered in Storm Peaks and Ulduar reveal that the Old Gods apparently came to Azeroth not long after its creation and began altering the Titans' creatures with something called the Curse of Flesh. Upon discovering this, the Titans waged war on the Old Gods, eventually imprisoning several of them within Azeroth itself. To prevent the Old Gods from returning, they created the Dragon Aspects and charged them with protecting the world.

There were originally five Old Gods chained below Azeroth. At least one of them was killed in the backstory (Y'Shaarj), and another has been defeated in the current storyline of World of Warcraft. It is said that the reason the Titans did not utterly destroy them was that doing so would unmake Azeroth. How this relates to the players' ability to defeat them is uncertain (Yogg-Saron confirms his death and that the shadow of his corpse will choke Northrend for all eternity, and the Sha did that to Pandaria).

However, the influence of the Old Gods has been felt throughout Azeroth's history, manifesting itself originally in the assault of the Qiraji, an insectoid race living deep beneath the sands of Silithus, discovered to be caused by C'thun. Other influences of the Old Gods include the corruption of Neltharion, Dragon Aspect of the Black Dragonflight; the gradual corruption of the Emerald Dream by an entity known only as the Nightmare; the whispers of madness afflicting the lands of Northrend from a being known as Yogg-Saron, which is confined deep within Ulduar; and possibly the infiltration of the timeways by the Infinite Dragonflight. There is also a race of creatures called Faceless Ones, which seem to consider themselves prophets or harbingers of the Old Gods.

The Old Gods' efforts seem directed largely at the destruction of the Dragonflights, as those are their principal foes. Unlike the Burning Legion, they avoid direct confrontation, preferring the slow whispers of madness and the tempting of mortals and immortals alike into acts of self-destruction.

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    General Tropes 
  • Ascended Extra: These guys were initially just briefly mentioned in the Warcraft III manual, and have gradually been getting more and more spotlight and have more focus than the Burning Legion.
  • Black Speech: Yogg-Saron and most of the Faceless utilize one, known as "Shath'yar".
  • Body Motifs: C'Thun (eyes), Yogg-Saron (mouths), and Y'shaarj (faces). N'Zoth's appearance has yet to be revealed.
    • In addition, we see inside of each: C'Thun's stomach, Yogg-Saron's brain and Y'shaarj's heart.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The Titans killed Y'Shaarj, only for the Sha to appear. Since they assumed that C'Thun was dead rather than unconscious, they likely first assumed Y'Shaarj was alive until they reduced him to a heart upon which they came to the erroneous conclusion that Y'Shaarj and the other Old Gods had corrupted Azeroth to the point where killing them would cause "loss of host", thus destroying Azeroth.
    • Ironically, if they had been thorough with destroying C'Thun and Y'Shaarj's remains rather than hold them for research purposes, they would have been able to avert the Sha problem.
  • The Corrupter: By far their preferred tactic.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The concept of the Old Gods draws heavily on this genre, although Warcraft in general is too idealistic to fall entirely within it.
  • The Dark Side: They are great forces of corruption, and have corrupted many previously-good characters.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Old Gods typically take on these sorts of forms when they deign to become visible to mortals. It's implied that they are in fact physical beings, since it's possible for mortals to attack and even kill them (as was done in the case of Y'Shaarj by the Mogu, Yogg-Saron by the Raiders and possibly C'Thun also by the Raiders).
  • Eldritch Location: Many places under their influence become this. In addition, the city called Ny'alotha, mentioned by the Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron, seems to be associated with them. It has not appeared in game, but according to the box, it is hidden by a forest, might be sunken and was a scene of unnumbered crimes. Popular theory is that this city is Nazjatar.
  • End of the World as We Know It: Their ultimate goal, which according to prophecy will be realized with an event called the Hour of Twilight, in which all life on Azeroth (including Deathwing) is destroyed, except for the Twilight Dragonflight.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Tends to happen to anyone who spends too much time listening to the whispers of madness emanating from the Old Gods in their places of power.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: C'thun and Y'shaarj command the Silithid and the Mantid respectively.
    • The Nerubians built their civilization around the holding place of Yogg-Saron and are a confirmed offshoot of the Silithid, although they appear to be at odds with his followers in Ahn'kahet. Instead, Yogg-Saron and N'Zoth prefer to employ Faceless minions.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Old Gods are this. Three of the (allegedly) five are intact enough to try to break out.
  • Shout-Out: To the entire Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: To the Burning Legion. The Legion still exists and is definitely a threat, but the forces of the Old Gods are already on Azeroth and therefore are getting much more attention.

"You. Will. Die."

C'thun is the first Old God to be officially named within the Warcraft story. After the defeat of the Old Gods by the Titans, C'thun was imprisoned beneath Azeroth and left by the Titans for dead in one of their research facilities, in what would later become the continent of Kalimdor. Although greatly weakened, it embarked on a program to strengthen and empower the Qiraji, an insectoid race living beneath the southern desert sands.

A thousand years prior to the events of the Warcraft series, the Qiraji nearly overwhelmed the forces of Kalimdor in what became known as the War of the Shifting Sands, and were barely driven back by the combined might of the Bronze Dragonflight and the Night Elves under Archdruid Fandral Staghelm. In the present time, the Qiraji renewed their attack, but the heroes of Azeroth descended deep into the ancient Temple of Ahn'Qiraj to reveal their true master, the Old God itself. Still dramatically weakened since the confrontation with the Titans, C'thun's physical form was slain and the threat of the Qiraji was removed.

C'thun's initial physical form is that of an enormous eyeball. Destroying the eye reveals a gaping mouth walled by smaller eyes. It does battle with tentacles that emerge from the ground around it, some of which are capable of swallowing enemies whole. Its stomach is highly poisonous and contains additional tentacles that can be destroyed to render the main body vulnerable to attack.


Yogg-Saron, also known as the God of Death, is the second of the Old Gods to be officially named within the Warcraft story. It resides beneath the snows of Northrend and its malicious influence can be felt throughout the continent. The Titan fortress of Ulduar was constructed for the sole purpose of containing it.

Yogg-Saron is particularly noted for the whispers of madness that emanate from the deep places of Northrend. Any being that listens to these whispers for too long is invariably driven insane. This influence seems to be felt most strongly around the ore known as Saronite, which is mined exclusively in Northrend and is highly prized by the Scourge in the manufacture of weapons and armor.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Not Yogg-Saron himself, but a large number of his followers inside Ulduar. Many of them are Titan constructs sent to keep him under control, only to fall victim to his influence.
  • Combat Tentacles: Spawns a ton of these. In fact, you can go through Ulduar solo at level 100 (20 levels above the level the content was made for) and wipe the floor with every other boss, and have trouble with Yogg-Saron due to getting picked up and throttled by his tentacles.
  • Compelling Voice: There's a reason why it's so easy for him to brainwash everything.
  • Death Eater: He professes to feed on death in the boss encounter.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Justified by the assistance of the near-divine Watchers. The ultimate challenge is defeating him without their help, difficult even for raids well beyond the Ulduar content level.
  • Dying Curse: He proclaims that the shadow of his corpse will choke the land for all eternity.
  • Evil Is Hammy: See Large Ham below.
  • Evil Laugh: A particularly epic and hammy one.
  • Eyeless Face: His eyes are actually smaller, gaping mouths, complete with teeth.
  • Green Rocks: Saronite ore is not only used in making all kinds of powerful weapons and armor, but seems to be composed of about 20% pure insanity.
  • Large Ham: C'thun was content to deadpan out a "Death is close" and call it a day. Yogg's encounter one-ups him with grandiose threats, hissed Black Speech, and an absolutely fantastic Evil Laugh, which you can listen to here now!
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family
  • Necromancer: He has power over Death Magic which takes the form of green energy.
  • Only Sane Man: The only ingame Old God (counting minions) who acknowledges that Old Gods can die.
  • Re Vision: In the boss encounter, players are treated to visions of key elements from Warcraft's history, revealing that Yogg-Saron was behind them.
  • Shout-Out: To Yog-Sothoth of Lovecraftian lore, to the point of being described as "a thousand gibbering mouths".
  • Trick Boss: Throughout the Ulduar dungeon, players hear the voice of "Sara" screaming for help against the monsters plaguing her. The first part of the boss encounter is against said monsters, but defeating them near her (which damages anyone nearby) causes her to transform into the real deal.
  • Worf Had the Flu: When you fight Yogg-Saron, he is in the final stages of breaking free of the Power Limiters the Titans used on him. The timer running out and him wiping the raid represents Yogg breaking completely free of the Titan's restraints and turning his full power on the player characters.


N'zoth is the Old God that is responsible for corrupting Deathwing and for creating the Nightmare that infests the Emerald Dream. N'zoth rules the Nightmare from the depths of Azeroth's seas the beyond the Rift of Aln, a location in the Emerald Dream linked to the Twisting Nether that is probably a reflection of a similarly-named massive chasm in the seafloor beneath the Maelstrom. The Nightmare has entrapped such eminent personalities as the Green Aspect, Ysera, as well as the Archdruid Malfurion Stormrage.

He's also the only Old God on Azeroth that the Titans couldn't beat (no word on imprisonment, though it could go either way) though he still recieved aid from Yogg-Saron and 2 other imprisoned Old Gods in corrupting Deathwing provided they use Deathwing's Dragon Soul to escape Azeroth.
  • Bigger Bad: During the Cataclysm expansion. He was stated to be "the one signing Deathwing's checks" by the developers, but he doesn't actually make an appearance.
  • Evil Versus Evil: According to the lore, it seems that some of his lieutenants fought against C'thun and Yogg Saron's minions. Apparently he's not on good terms with his brethren, but why remains to be seen.
    • Sort of Justified in that the Old Gods, being parallel opposites to the Titans who revere Order, are all about Chaos. And what's more chaotic than constant, meaningless war?
  • Exact Words: When Deathwing and Thrall meet in Charge of the Aspects, he reveals that he serves the Old Gods because he hates the task the Titans charged him with, and the Old Gods promised to free him from his burden. By the end of Cataclysm, Deathwing was indeed "freed" from his burden...
  • The Man Behind the Man: To Deathwing, more or less. Also likely to Xavius during his time as the Nightmare Lord, considering that he's the one who created the Nightmare in the first place.
    • Implied to be one to Azshara, as the Naga were created in a deal with the Old Gods.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite being a driving force in Cataclysm and the master of Deathwing himself, he doesn't make an appearance in the game proper. Some speculated that he would appear as the main antagonist of the next expansion, but this has been proven false since Mists of Pandaria will focus on the Horde vs. Alliance conflict. He'll more than likely show up at some point, though, being such an important character(Blizzard has even stated that the Titans were unable to beat him).

"All that you have accomplished, all that you have won, yet still you lick the boots of kings."
Y'Shaarj (pronounced Yah-Sha-Raj) was an Old God located on the swath of land that would become Pandaria. Y'Shaarj possessed seven heads, and has been said to consume hope, beget despair, inhale courage and breathe fear. The mantid empire (or its predecessor) of primordial Azeroth worshipped each of his heads as their benefactors, and they remain loyal to him even after his death at the hands of the Titans countless ages ago.

He was killed in the war between the Titans and the Old Gods during the shaping of Azeroth(his soul was in denial over this until it got obliterated during the Garrosh fight), but his shadows have haunted the land ever since in the form of the Sha.
  • Casting a Shadow: His main power when alive and he resumes using this when his heart and mind are resurrected.
  • Compelling Voice
  • Dark Is Evil: As shown by his Casting a Shadow abilities.
  • Deader Than Dead: After his heart is used by Garrosh as a weapon and then destroyed, he's completely destroyed for good.
  • Demonic Possession: The Heart of Y'Shaarj possesses one of the goblins who discover it.
  • Dying Curse: Cursed Pandaria with the Sha forever with his final breath (specifically they are his final breath, according to Dave Kosak). It is implied that similar hypothetical consequences for the deaths of the other Old Gods on Azeroth are the reason that the others were imprisoned instead of killed.
  • Emotion Eater: As shown by his whispers which indicate that the Sha aren't actual negative emotions after all.
  • Foreshadowing: Subverted. Images that resembled the Sha appeared in Ulduar, Yogg-Saron's prison, but this was actually a happy coincidence.
  • Killed Off for Real: After the Heart is destroyed in the Garrosh fight, Y'Shaarj is Deader Than Dead once again. And this time, there's absolutely nothing left.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Being dead has done nothing to slow him down.
  • Predecessor Villain: To the Sha, the seven breeds of sapient, negative emotion inducing breath that feeds on said negative emotions that haunt Pandaria.
    • Seven is a bit of an Arc Number with Y'Shaarj's story, but it was hinted that the seventh Sha was cut in development, breaking the pattern. There really are seven Sha (hatred, violence, anger, despair, doubt, fear, and pride), though Shaohao never actually purged himself of his pride. Garrosh takes up the slack, and the newly-manifested Sha of Pride is a major boss in his raid.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: While Y'Shaarj is undeniably dead, the "Heart of Y'Shaarj" is found in a container within one of the Titans' research vaults beneath the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
  • Willing Channeler: Garrosh takes in Y'Shaarj's power during the final phase of his fight. Contrary to the goblin example above, it is not Demonic Possession and Garrosh is using Y'Shaarj as a weapon.