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 four 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 n'raqi or 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 
  • Always a Bigger Fish: They're a gang of Eldritch Abomination, but the Titans are a step above them that they get curbstomped when the Titans take direct action. Then we learn they're just agents of The Void, who may be more powerful than the Titans...
  • Arc Welding: The Old Gods and the Void were originally independent forces, with the implication (what with warlocks being able to summon voidwalkers and all) that the creatures of the Void were just particularily odd demonic entities. However, the more the game developed, the more evident was the connection between the two. In Burning Crusade, the Void was shown to be a force independent of the Legion, with leaders of their own and acting on their own accord (with Word of God later confirming that they are not demons at all). Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm showed them manipulating unique shadow magic of their own, twilight magic - quite similar to the Void in terms of appearance. In Mists of Pandaria, we were introduced to the Sha, with a very voidwalker-like appearance yet clearly connected to the Old Gods, while Warlords of Draenor showed void magic as blatantly independent from demons (used by the Iron Horde) as well as being quite Old God-like, tentacles and all. Finally, Legion and Chronicles confirmed the connection between the two, with the Old Gods placed at the very top of the Void's hierarchy, with the exception of the Void Lords, who seem to be set to become Warcraft's new primary antagonists.
  • 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: The Old Gods and most of the Faceless utilize one, known as "Shath'yar", which literally means "Old God". It borrows several loanwords from the Cthulhu Mythos that inspired the Old Gods, such as "fhtagn".
  • Body Motifs: C'Thun (eyes), Yogg-Saron (mouths), Y'Shaarj (faces), and N'Zoth (teeth and tentacles). 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 — so it seems — 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 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. By Legion, we learned that Titans are literally planet-size creatures and the method they killed Y'Shaarj with was physically reaching down to the planet's surface and ripping it out of the ground, but because the Old God's tendrils have reached very deep into the planet itself, when they are pulled out they left behind such a giant crater that the planet's life-blood bled out—-creating the Well of Eternity.
  • 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.
  • The Dragons: To the Void, the eternal nothingness beyond the universe that has existed since before time began. The Void Lords created the Old Gods and scattered them throughout the Great Dark Beyond with the goal of corrupting a Titan in order to bring about the end of existence, and a return to the nothingness they crave.
  • 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: There's four confirmed Old Gods as of Mists of Pandaria. C'Thun is Phlegmatic, Y'Shaarj is Choleric, N'Zoth is Melancholic, and Yogg-Saron is Sanguine.
    • Note that N'Zoth's only direct appearance has been in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (borrowing lines and voice from Y'Shaarj), and while a voice named "The Old Gods" makes an appearance in Blackfathom Deeps that many fans presume must be N'Zoth through process of elimination, this may be subject to change in a future expansion. The Blackfathom Deeps voice is likely all of them speaking in unison before they are killed (though the voice is new, Blackfathom is a low-level instance, and stuck between vanilla and the modern content).
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: One of the bigger reasons for the Arc Welding of the Void and the Old Gods (see above) was probably the priest class, especially its Shadow specialisation, which from its very inception possessed both Void-like (dark magic, summoning shadowfiends, turning into a shadow, et cetera) and Old God-like (mind control, diseases, mutations) spells. Come Legion, they are explicitly tied to the Old Gods and wield the sacred dagger once used by their worshippers as their artifact weapon.
  • 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: The aqir, an ancient sentient insectoid race which arose from the organic matter that seeped from the Old Gods.
  • Resurrective Immortality: It's implied that even when "killed", the Old Gods can resurrect themselves if given enough time. Y'Shaarj still survived in the form of its heart despite thousands of years passing after its destruction by the Titans' hands and imprisonment, C'Thun was nearly revived by Cho'gall at one point, and Yogg-Saron threatened that its "shadow" would forever haunt the land as its body died.
  • Retcon: Older parts of Warcraft information - quest text, game manuals - mentioned there being five Old Gods on Azeroth, but World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 officially established that there only four.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Old Gods are this. Three of the four 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.
  • Villain Decay: The Old Gods went from the very strongly implied Bigger Bads, who may be (at their full strength) much stronger than even the Titans(with it being implied that many Titans being needed to subdue one Old God), and considered Sargeras easy to defeat once they are all fully released, to after the Retcon in World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 the strongest Old God being hilariously easily killed by Aman'Thul, and the Old Gods being retconned as the Void Lords' "tools", or at best their avatars.

"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.
  • Back from the Dead: In Cataclysm, its minions are trying to resurrect it.
  • Creepy Monotone: Compared to his bretheren, C'Thun's voice rarely goes above a droning whisper.
  • Combat Tentacles: He possesses a multitude of voracious stalks that happen to have eyes at their tips.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Justified in that C'thun is at a fraction of its original power when players fight it.
  • Eye Beams: C'Thun can fire two different lasers from his eye: a smaller one that bounces from player to player, and a much larger laser that will certainly kill anybody hit by it.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: C'Thun's particular motif that stands out from the other Old Gods. Aside from the large eyeball that comprises the upper half of his body (as well as several smaller eyes on the bottom half), most of the Combat Tentacles also have eyes on them.
  • Final Boss: Of the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj raid dungeon.
  • Giant Eye of Doom: His most notable feature is a titanic cannon of an eyeball, and he's plenty evil on top of it.
  • Green Thumb: His eye beams use Nature Energy.
  • Shout-Out: To Cthulhu itself, as well as Sauron, visually. His name is a portmanteau of the two.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Dark Glare 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 last of the Old Gods to be imprisoned during the final days of the Black Empire, 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.
  • Abstract Eater: He professes to feed on death in the boss encounter.
  • 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.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Justified by the assistance of the near-divine Watchers, but it is the adventurers that ultimately destroy his body. 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.
    • Hilarious in Hindsight because his laugh in Ulduar sounds like Hearthstone developer Ben Brode's laugh, which has reached Memetic Mutation levels amongst the players when random effects backfire on the player casting them. Yogg-Saron's card is one of the most RNG-based cards in the game.
  • Eyeless Face: His eyes are actually smaller, gaping mouths, complete with teeth.
  • Greater Scope Villain: It's the druids' attempt to contain the corruption of saronite deposits across the world that gave the Old Gods a link to the Emerald Dream, something that N'Zoth would exploit to birth the Emerald Nightmare. It's later revealed he was the one who brought forth the Curse of Flesh that transformed many of the Titan's creations into the present-day races and corrupted the Titan Watcher Loken, which lead to him eventually destroying the Watcher's unity.
  • 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. And he himself was no exception.
  • 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".
  • Too Many Mouths: His design gimmick is mouths, so many mouths, ALL the mouths, all over his body.
  • 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 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 was the first Old God imprisoned by the Titans after the death of Y'Shaarj when they realized that killing the Old Gods could destroy Azeroth as well, sealed beneath the oceans. It's implied that he's actually broken his bonds, though he still received aid from Yogg-Saron and C'Thun in corrupting Deathwing provided they use Deathwing's Dragon Soul to escape Azeroth.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: He makes his debut in the Hearthstone expansion Whispers of the Old Gods before making a proper appearance in World of Warcraft itself.
  • 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.
  • 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 and in the Hour of Twilight, Deathwing was indeed "freed" from his burden...
  • Greater Scope Villain: 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.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Is apparently imprisoned under the sea, and resembles his minion Ozumat, the patriarch of all krakens.
  • Last of His Kind: As of Mists of Pandaria, N'zoth is the only Old God still left alive. Though where and what he's up to is in the air.
  • 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. He'll more than likely show up at some point, though, being such an important character (Blizzard has even stated that the Titans were unwilling to beat him). As of the Legion expansion, even more hints throughout the game are provided hinting at his inevitable debut.

"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 center of the supercontinent that would be dubbed Kalmdor. The most wicked and powerful of all the Old Gods, Y'Shaarj possessed seven heads, and has been said to consume hope, beget despair, inhale courage and breathe fear. He was the only Old God that the titan-forged armies were unable to defeat on their own, forcing the intervention of the Titans themselves to slay him. His remains were captured and quarantined in the south, the regions that would become Pandaria, and there his essence would grip the land for thousands of years in the form of the Sha.

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.
  • Casting a Shadow: His main power when alive and he resumes using this when his heart and mind are resurrected.
  • 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 gone for good. Not even C'thun and Yogg-Saron have been destroyed on the level he has.
  • Demonic Possession: The Heart of Y'Shaarj possesses one of the goblins who discover it.
  • Dying Curse: His death plagues Pandaria with the Sha, a dark, living miasma that encourages and feeds on negativity the same way Y'Shaarj once did.
  • 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.
    • Yogg-Saron's Puzzle Box has a specific whisper that asks if the wielder can see a seven-eyed goat that watches from afar. Later sources and specifically Hearthstone show that this is exactly what Y'Shaarj looks like.
  • Godzilla Threshold: With their armies fighting a losing battle against Y'Shaarj and no other option left, Aman'thul was prompted to directly intervene, something the Titans had avoided doing out of fear of damaging the planet with their might. With one arm, Aman'thul reached down from the cosmos, ripped Y'Shaarj from the earth, and crushed him to gibs.
  • Informed Attribute: Despite legends stating that Y'Shaarj boasts seven heads, none of his appearances on murals and on Hearthstone's official artwork show him with more than one. That said, Hearthstone's art fits the rest of his described profile just fine, so it's possible that Y'Shaarj is so massive that he outright can't be portrayed with more than one head.
  • 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, shadowy negative energy that haunt Pandaria.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: What little remains of Y'Shaarj, his heart, was buried in a Titan vault beneath the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, until Garrosh's Horde unsealed the can.
  • Villainous Legacy: The Sha, obviously, but further than that, he is the reason the other Old Gods were subdued and sealed instead of removed—when he was pulled from the earth, the Titans realized his body had grown too deep, and the act left an enormous gaping wound in the planet that bled out the world's magic lifeblood. They quickly worked to stabilize the wound, and the remaining blood on the surface was dubbed the Well of Eternity.
  • 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.