The Scourge is an army of undead created as a vanguard for the invasion planned by the Burning Legion, with the goal of succeeding where the Horde once failed. The Scourge's mission was to spread terror and destruction across the world in anticipation of the Legion's inevitable invasion. The Lich King, who ruled the icy realm of Northrend from his Frozen Throne, created the terrible Plague of Undeath, which he sent southward into human lands. As the plague encroached on the southlands, countless humans fell prey to Ner'zhul's mental control and life-draining sickness every day, swelling the ranks of the already-considerable Scourge.
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- Dracolich: Frost wyrms are the most common, risen from the bones of the blue dragons that traditionally make their home in Northrend.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: Their theme.
- Flesh Golem: Abominations, flesh giants, flesh beasts.
- Frankenstein's Monster: Flesh titans.
- Hive Mind: All members of the Scourge hear the Lich King's voice in their minds and are compelled to obey. Without the Lich King's guiding presence, the Scourge would devolve into a mindless wave of death and destruction.
- Horny Vikings: The Vrykul, who are possibly the strongest non-giant humanoids on Azeroth. Their most impressive warriors are raised as the Ymirjar; failures become Vargul.
- Non-Human Undead: Particularly the crypt fiends and crypt lords, undead nerubians.
- The Necrocracy: Ner'zhul, the original Lich King, was the soul of an orc shaman sealed within an enchanted helm, the Helm of Domination. His replacement, Arthas Menethil, was undead before he assumed the mantle and after. Even his replacement, Bolvar Fordragon, was undead before and after he assumed the mantle. And all the members/servants of the Scourge who aren't undead already aspire towards it.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Banshees, shades and wraiths.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The San'layn/Darkfallen, undead blood elves led by Blood-Queen Lana'thel.
- Religion of Evil: The Cult of the Damned, founded by Kel'thuzad on the Lich King's orders to infiltrate Lordaeron.
- The Undead: Somewhat averted in that not all of its members are actually undead: Cultists of the Damned, gargoyles, vrykul as well as mind-controlled Ice trolls and Wendigo are still alive. Death Knights are for the most part undead but it doesn't seem to be strictly necessary.
Arthas Menethil (The Lich King)
Class: Death KnightThe son of King Terenas Menethil, Arthas started out as The Wise Prince, an idealistic, chivalrous hero of Lordaeron, and was also Jaina's Proudmoore's lover. Unfortunately, the events of the Third War drove him to abandon his idealistic stance in favor of purging the plague of undeath sent by Ner'zhul (the original Lich King). Eventually, the trail set up by the Dreadlord Mal'ganis led him to Northrend and the sword Frostmourne, which consumed his soul and turned him into a Death Knight. He went on to slaughter his people and his father, the king and helped summon Archimonde in a failed attempt (influenced in part by Nerzhul's scheming) to claim the power of the World Tree. Shortly thereafter, Ner'zhul called him back to Northrend to defend against the assault of Illidan Stormrage. Arthas defeated Illidan, then rose to the weakened Frozen Throne, merging with Ner'zhul and becoming the Lich King. Arthas then consumed Ner'zhul's spirit and eradicated Ner'zhul's mind some time after their merge but before Wrath of the Lich King, establishing him as the sole leader of the Scourge.
- A Father to His Men: He valued the men under his command, and would take the time to learn their names and talk to them about their day. It's a trait he kept as a death knight, as he values the Scourge the same way.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: In the Halls of Reflection his boss "Battle" is just running from him as fast as possible while breaking down the walls of ice he creates.
- A God Am I: Or damn near close to it. The background fluff calls him the 'god-like Lich King' or a 'demi-god' or even 'a being of incalculable power'. He also sees himself as a god-like being and is worshiped as such by his minions.
- All-Loving Hero: Deconstructed. The fact that Arthas loved his people is what made him so easy to fall into Ner'zhul's hands once the plague was unleashed. His love for his people drove him to try and save them when the Plague hit, but the fact that he couldn't did not take it's toll lightly on him. Eventually he realized that in undeath he wouldn't need to worry.
- And I Must Scream: Consider how many ruined lives and captured souls this guy is responsible for through the entire timeline, and yet when Sylvanas sees him in the afterlife he's broken down in tears from the unspeakable torture that's going on there. Suppose Uther's hope for there to be a special place in Hell for him came true. It's the same place where his Shadowy Tormentor Shades torture the souls of Death Knights when they aren't killing anything despite them still being alive. It would seem that his former Undead minions are still torturing any spirit that enters the Lich King's territory within the Troll God of the Afterlife Bwonsambi's Realm of Shadows and no longer recognize Arthas as the Lich King.
- Anti-Hero: A textbook showcase of a slow evolution throughout all the different types of anti-heroes in the course of human campaign in Warcraft III. To elaborate:
- He starts out as a classic, straight up hero in the beginning, but already in the first few missions, his characterization in dialogue is established as having elements of the Classical Antihero / the Byronic Hero, namely pride and, more importantly, both hidden self-doubt (it is clear that Arthas is not entirely convinced that he can keep his people safe and suffers because of this) and a lust for vengeance (such as vocally advocating slaughtering the demon-aligned orcs to the last after they murder villagers).
- Both his self-doubts and his vengeful nature are shown in slowly increasing detail for about the first half of the campaign, as he evolves into the Pragmatic Hero - still unquestionably devoted to the greater good of his people, with noble objectives, yet growing increasingly harsher, more abrasive, and willing to Shoot the Dog and to do what is necessary as he is confronted with the ravages of the Scourge.
- Then, the Wham Episode of the human campaign occurs, the Culling of Stratholme, which kicks Arthas right down into firm Unscrupulous Hero territory, with him having ordered the purge of an entire city full of civilians. The city was infected with the plague already, he had reason to assume (and was proven right) that the townsfolk would turn into zombies, who then would join the army of his arch-enemy, so that his actions were still, in a way, justifiable as a necessity, but ultimately, he -being a paladin- ordered the destruction of the second-biggest city of his own kingdom and personally slew unarmed civilians. This is also the point in the story where Arthas falls out with his former mentor figure and his former lover, who are appalled at the lengths he is willing to go to, and also the moment which breaks him for good, channeling nearly all of his drive away from protecting his people and towards vengeance upon Mal'Ganis.
- To claim said vengeance, he departs for Northrend and, there, grows even more obsessed with revenge, becoming more and more cold and abrasive and disregarding the safety of his men increasingly (although he used to be A Father to His Men before). By the time he ignores an order from his father to return to Lordaeron and has his boats burned down so that the men cannot leave, blaming it on a band of mercenaries he himself hired and commanded (leaving this part out) and having them executed, Arthas slips into Nominal Hero mode, forsaking any care for his country or people or friends and any chivalric principles a paladin ought to have, driven by vengeance solely. And then he claims Frostmourne, which ends any and all remotely heroic phases of his life.
- An Ice Person
- Arch-Enemy: To many, many people. Particularly Illidan, Kael'Thas, Sylvanas, Darion Morgraine and his Death Knights, and later Tirion Fordring in Wrath of the Lich King. Notably most of these are one-sided, except for Tirion.
- Badass Baritone: Michael McConnohie gives him a rather manly rasp.
- Badass Cape: Extra points for being black and tattered.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The Lich King believes that he can make Bolvar Fordragon become his servant if he breaks him long enough. Ironically, he ultimately ends up becoming the new Lich King.
- Big Bad: Of Wrath of the Lich King. (He is the eponymous character, after all.)
- Big Bad Slippage: Becomes so desperate to save Lordaeron from the Scourge that he becomes a death knight in their service and eventually their leader.
- Black Knight: After obtaining Frostmorne, Arthas fell from grace as a paladin and became a death knight.
- Bling of War: Minus the color scheme, his armor fits this to a T.
- The Chains of Commanding: This is what drove him to seek out power when he was still good. The sheer horror of the Plague and The Scourge took its toll on the young princes mind. Despite the loyalty of his soldiers up until he betrayed them, Arthas was struggling in how to handle the people not only of his army, but also the people he one day would lead. Eventually he realized the dead mindlessly obey, so that eliminated that problem.
- The Chosen One: A dark and villanous example. Arthas was more or less picked from the moment he was old enough to be Ner'zhul's Champion, and his body later. This suggests that Arthas never had a chance at being the good man he once was.
- Complexity Addiction: His convoluted gambit to repeatedly let his plans be thwarted and minions killed to make the player stronger is totally unnecessary. The Halls of Reflection instance reveals that if Arthas were killed the Scourge would wipe out Azeroth in a Zerg Rush, even without Arthas' immense personal power or a guiding intelligence controlling them. It turns out that nearly every action Arthas takes in Wrath of the Lich King is a massive Batman Gambit to draw Azeroth's greatest heroes to his doorstep, let them think they have the upper hand, and kill them all to raise them as the greatest generals for his army. Had Tirion not succeeded with his Desperation Attack, the gambit would have been pulled off without a hitch.
- Cool Helmet: The Helm of Domination is the source of all his God-like power. Rather intimidating as well.
- Cool Horse: His beloved horse Invincible, which he later raised into undeath and rode into battle. He later gave him wings, but is never seen riding him as the Lich King, though he has a low chance to drop it on heroic difficultynote .
- Cool Sword: Frostmourne, which is the most iconic weapon of the franchise, with the Doomhammer close in second. It's so awesome that it's the current page image for this trope.
- Darth Vader Clone: Arthas fits many traits of this trope when he was still a death knight. He used to be a Paladin and fell to the dark side trying to protect the kingdom he loves. He is also a magic knight and his character model in Warcraft III also wore a cape. Arthas also served the Lich King Ner'Zhul, which fits the trait of the physically superior warrior serving a more magically powerful Big Bad. Later on, Arthas fuses with Ner'Zhul, playing the mask, armor and voice traits of this trope straight. The Lich King wears ornate armor at all times that functions as the magical equivalent of a life support system as well, maintaining his undead status. As putting the armor on literally made Arthas into the Lich King (by merging him with the soul of Ner'zhul, who was made into the original Lich King). In World of Warcraft, he never appears in the actual game or cut scenes without the full armor until his death, where his helmet is removed and he's held in the arms of a loved one before passing, once again the man he used to be.
- Discard and Draw: When he claimed Frostmourne, he also discarded his paladin warhammer Light's Vengeance. This would soon be followed by giving up his Light-based powers entirely in favor of the Scourge's necromancy.
- The Dragon: Was previously one to Ner'Zhul.
- Dragon Ascendant: Arthas destroyed Ner'zhul's spirit at the end of Rise of the Lich King, leaving him the only one in control of the Lich King body.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Due to Ner'zhul being stuck in his armor, Arthas was the one who led the Scourge in destroying Lordaeron.
- Deadpan Snarker: Possibly the single wittiest character in the franchise, really. Emphasis on Dead.
- Upon meeting with half-demon Illidan:Illidan: [angrily] Hello, Arthas.
Arthas: [mockingly] You look... different, Illidan. I suppose the Skull of Gul'dan didn't agree with you.
- Even before his Start of Darkness, he's already deadpan. For example when confronting an Abomination for the first time:Jaina Proudmoore: That creature looks like it was sewn together from different corpses.
Arthas: Let's study it after we kill it, okay?
- After he did the Face–Heel Turn and confronting Uther for last time:Uther the Lightbringer: "Your father ruled this land for seventy years, and you've ground it to dust in a matter of days.
Arthas: Very... dramatic, Uther. Give me the urn, and I'll make sure you die quickly.
- He avoided Snark-to-Snark Combat with Antonidas, though:Antonidas: Greetings, Prince Arthas. How fares your noble father?
Arthas: [sheepishly] Lord Antonidas. There's no need to be snide.
- The pure gold is when he confronts Sapphiron the enormous Blue Dragon, who later became a boss in Naxxramas:Sapphiron: You dare enter my lair? I am Sapphiron, ancient servant of Malygos the Spell-Weaver! Explain yourselves!
King Arthas: Sorry we don't have time to chat, great wyrm. We've come to murder you and steal whatever artifacts you've been hoarding over the centuries.
Sapphiron: Honesty. How... refreshing! None may challenge Sapphiron and live!
- Not to mention one of his annoyed quotes as a Death Knight:Arthas: Who is this "Darkness" anyway?.
- Upon meeting with half-demon Illidan:
- The Dreaded:
- He attained this reputation sometime after his face heel turn. Hell, in Frozen Throne, three top-ranking DREADLORDS would rather run away than face him in battle.
- In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, his appearance during a quest will cause every character in sight to shit themselves.
- The Determinator: You gotta give the man credit. He did sail all the way to an unknown land, build a city there, fight through an unending tide of rotting flesh and take up an evil sword to kill a Dreadlord.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? and Sarcastic Confession: He did this to Sapphiron as mentioned above.
- Dying as Yourself: Like all the others, Arthas's soul was released when Frostmourne was shattered. Sometime between that and his death scene, it returned to his body, and suddenly he was the young prince again. Doesn't seem to have gotten him into a good afterlife, though...
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- An odd example but when Arthas was young his horse Invincible was severely injured. Unable to heal him Arthas killed him to end his pain. This event left a major impact on Arthas and inspired him to become a paladin. After losing his soul and killing his father, the first thing Arthas did was run to Invincible's grave and brought the horse back to life. When the Scourge attacked the Sunwell and Arthas did battle with Anasterian Sunstrider, Anasterian cut off Invincible's forelegs to dismount Arthas. Arthas was horrified at the sight of Invincible desperately trying to rise to his feet as it brought back memories of the wound that took Invincible from him the first time. This made Arthas go completely berserk. Even Sylvanas couldn't help but notice that it looked like that Arthas was human again for a brief moment. Even after becoming the Lich King he kept Invincible by his side. Make zero mistake about it, even after killing his own flesh and blood Arthas loved that horse.
- A straighter example in that he kept Tragic Keepsakes such as his old Training Sword, Silver Hand Badge, and Jaina's locket.
- Evil Feels Good: He agreed. However it wasn't so much that evil felt good, but more that evil felt good to a prince.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: He employs a lot of frost magic and lives on the Azeroth equivalent of the North Pole. Also the page image.
- Evil Overlord: Of the second most powerful villainous faction in the game besides the Burning Legion.
- Evil Plan: He allowed you and your fellow heroes to come all the way to his throne room so he could personally slaughter and resurrect you to have the greatest warriors of the world on his side.
- Evil Prince: Evil, prince, slew his father and took the throne for himself, then went on to destroy the kingdom.
- Evil Sounds Deep: The Lich King has a completely different voice actor from Arthas, and his voice becomes monstrously deep after he dons the Helm of Domination.
- Evil Weapon: Frostmourne is a soul stealing rune sword that was sealed away within Northrend with guardians meant to protect anyone from touching the cursed steel.
- Exact Words: When he was still human, told his men that the troll rabble destroyed their ships and stranded them in Northrend. He just didn't mention the part where he hired the mercenaries to do it in order to keep his men from returning home.
- Expy: He's clearly based on Elric and Sauron, with most of his iconic art referencing one or both.
- Not so much Sauron, but his right-hand lieutenant, the Witch-King of Angmar (from which the name Lich King was first derived), a former human king corrupted by evil and raises an undead army in the frozen wastes.
- Face–Heel Turn: The page image. And god of the trope.
- Fallen Hero: One of gamings most famous examples. Arthas was once a sweet and kind prince, who became the Lich King of the Scourge.
- Fatal Flaw: His self-doubt. His entire life he constantly worried about being able to protect his people and live up to the example of the great men around him. Sometimes he would take compliments as insults, and it was his self-doubt that drove the decisions he made while fighting the Scourge.
- Fighting from the Inside: Uther theorized that the reason Arthas held back the scourge was due to the last traces of his humanity influencing him.
- Final Boss: Of Wrath of The Lich King; it is in the title after all.
- Four-Star Badass: You don't annihilate three of the most powerful kingdoms of a continent without being a superb tactician. You just can't. Three dragonflights, the Argent Crusade, The Knights of the Ebon Blade, The Horde and the Alliance as well as several minor factions had to gang up against this man and his endless armies. They won by the skin of their teeth.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: After putting on the Helm of Domination.
- Guttural Growler: As voiced by Michael.
- Graceful Loser: When Frostmourne is shattered and he's left defenseless, Arthas doesn't scream in a rage or suffer a villainous breakdown. Instead he sounds more like he's lost his resolve and accepts his defeat.The Lich King: Now I stand, the lion before the lambs... and they do not fear. [beat] They cannot fear.
- The Good King:
- From the Scourge's point of view. Arthas comes across as an incredibly inspiring figure in the Frozen Throne undead campaign. Especially evident when he rescues loyalist pockets in the Capital city.Crypt Fiend: By Nerub! The rebels nearly had us, King Arthas...
Arthas: I would not leave my subjects to be slaughtered by this rabble.
Crypt Fiend: Then we will stand by you till the end!
- Overall, if you just took the time to remove the fact that everything's undead, he's a sticker for this trope. Acts as A Father to His Men (shown to mourn troops lost against the elves when they were too damaged to continue on), actually loyal followers with whom he shows a friendship towards (Kel'Thuzad and Anub'Arak).
- Possibly subverted. Anub'Arak is implied to resent him for destroying his kingdom and when you kill Anub his death rattle is "I never thought I would be free of him." As such, he (or Ner'zul before Arthas becomes the Lich King) may be forcing his subjects to treat him as such so he can play the good, loved leader in a chilling mockery of the life he had in Lorderon. Those that are not forced are either mindless or care moreabout the power he grants them (such as Kel'thuzad and the other Liches).
- From the Scourge's point of view. Arthas comes across as an incredibly inspiring figure in the Frozen Throne undead campaign. Especially evident when he rescues loyalist pockets in the Capital city.
- Happily Married: In the Twilight of the Aspects novel, in an alternate future, Arthas is this with Jaina. They even have a son, who is ironically named Uther Menethil. In that timeline, although Arthas did not turn evil, Uther was still killed by somebody else. The child was named in Uther's honor, some time after his death.
- Heel–Face Door-Slam: If the theory that he regained his humanity in his final moments is correct.
- Hero Killer: In Warcraft III, where he killed Uther, Sylvanas, Antonidas and many other distinguished personages rather handily. He regains the title in the final battle against him, where he pretty much freezes Tirion solid and kills the entire raid in one blow, before he begins raising them as his minions. It doesn't stick though, as Tirion is broken out by a Deus Ex Machina and breaks Frostmourne, which frees Terenas who resurrects the entire raid.
- Heroic Sacrifice: What he thought using Frostmourne would entail. He was wrong.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Arthas is the textbook example of this. In his attempt to stop the Scourge, he became what he was trying to stop.
- Humanoid Abomination: Upon becoming the Lich King.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: In Halls of Reflection and in Icecrown Citadel. The only reason you win the second time is because Tirion gets an infusion of Light and shatters Frostmourne.
- Ignored Epiphany: While walking up to the Frozen Throne, Arthas has a vision of all the people close to him telling him what a mistake he's making. He still does it.
- I Let You Win: Yes, he let you all win throughout the entire expansion for his Evil Plan. He pretty much plays this also on Tirion in regards to their first meeting.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Subverted in the end, he doesn't do anything truly evil until Frostmourne takes his soul outright. The Culling of Stratholme was because they were all doomed to become zombies soon anyway, sinking the ships was classic Art of War strategy, and he takes Frostmourne, not because of lust for power, but because of desperation and a willingness to sacrifice himself to the sword in order to stop the scourge.
- Karmic Death: Held down by the souls of his victims while the heroes hack him to pieces. And after his death his Shade minions are fulfilling their task of torturing everyone inside the Lich King's territory within the Troll God of the Afterlife Bwonsambi's Realm of Shadows but the Lich King, Ghouls & the Dark Riders of Acherus and since Arthas is none of those anymore they're now torturing him!
- Killed Off for Real: So far at least.
- The Kingslayer: Upon his return to Lordaeron after possessing Frostmourne he kills his father using that very blade.
- Light Is Not Good: As a paladin, his actions became more and more evil despite still wielding the Light. Of course, when he finally does his Face–Heel Turn, he abandons the Light entirely.
- Lightning Bruiser: In Warcraft III and its expansion — Arthas is incredibly fast and hits extremely hard even before taking into account the various Tomes of Strength and attack-power increasing items you'll find for him. Combined with his Death Coil, which is arguably the most damaging direct damage attack in the game; Arthas is adept at eliminating hero units and powerful infantry. In fact, he's so strong that he'll beat his counterpart — Illidan, roughly 90% of the time.
- Locked into Strangeness: He turned white-haired after becoming (debatably) undead. (Technically, Arthas never died until Icecrown Citadel of course.)
- Master Swordsman: Once he trades his paladin hammer for Frostmorne. See Übermensch below. This guy accomplishes a lot with (unholy evil) cold steel.
- Merger of Souls: At the end of the undead campaign in Frozen Throne, he merges his soul with Ner'zhul and becomes the Lich King.
- More Than Mind Control:
- Despite what Jaina Proudmoore believes, Arthas was always a fundamentally weak man who feared responsibility. Ironically, being the Lich King frees him from all responsibility whatsoever.
- Depending on how you read it, exactly the opposite could be true in that his morals are overly strong and he attempts to take on more responsibility than any man could handle, driving him over the edge. Ironically, either way the fear of said responsibility and a fear of commitment is still present.
- Magic Knight: He's always been this. Turned into an evil and frankly, far more powerful one after his face heel turn.
- The Necrocracy: He founded one, or rather expanded it.
- The Necromancer: The most powerful and notable in the franchise. It's his power that allows for the creation of undead worgen, something that for a few reasons is all but impossible.
- Near Villain Victory: Arthas really wasn't bluffing when he said he could kill the players at any given point. In the fight against him, he eventually gets tired of toying with your raid and kills everyone but Tirion who is trapped and forced to watch. Of course, Tirion has a Big "NO!" moment and manages to break free thanks to the power of the Light and destroy Frostmourne, which unleashes all the souls stored in it, not only reviving the raid, but also restraining Arthas so the raid can kill him.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While he did not have any evil intentions back then, by picking up Frostmourne you know what he ends up as.
- Not So Different: In his many appearances throughout Northrend in Wrath of the Lich King, he points out that the adventurers sent to fight him are no so different than he was. This is especially true in the Shadowmourne quest line.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Tirion is the older hero while Arthas is the younger villain; he also had this with Uther but Tirion succeeded in taking him down whereas Uther failed.
- One-Man Army: Even before he became the Lich King, when he was just a very powerful death knight. You know why none of his men came back with him? He killed and raised them all himself. Every soul that flies out of the destroyed Frostmourne is one that he is personally responsible for.
- The Paladin: Initially and as we all know, it did not last.
- Physical God: After becoming one with the Lich King, he's one of the most powerful characters in the entire series, rivaling that of minor deities. He is even called a Demigod by canon.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Illidan has mocked the Scourge for long enough. It is time we put the fear of death back in him." And what a glorious asskicking he unleashed.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: His story in Warcraft III.
- Rage Helm: The helm of the Lich King has a permanent glare.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Towards Mal'Ganis after the Culling of Stratholme.
- Rousseau Was Right: Turned to evil because of circumstance, not birth.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: A royal who fights on the front, kills orc blademasters, tracks down demons to the uncharted north and kills them brutally.
- Sequel Hook:
- It has been confirmed by Blizzard that both Frostmourne and the body of Arthas are now missing. They also heavily implied the possibility that someone might be trying to reforge Frostmourne and bring back Arthas.
- The hook was swallowed in the upcoming Legion expansion: The one to reforge Frostmourne is the Frost Death Knight Player, as a pair of swords.
- Shoulders of Doom: With a nice big skull on the left one.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: He has skulls on his kneecaps. And his shoulders. And his gauntlets. And his chest. And his elbows. And his belt buckle.
- Slasher Smile: His default facial expression in the official art, apparently.
- Slouch of Villainy: Arthas loves to sit on his Frozen Throne like this, slouched slightly, and was once in this position for 5 years straight.
- Spikes of Villainy: Most notably his helmet, but the various pieces of armor he wears also has them.
- Soulless Shell: As a result of picking up Frostmourne.Tichondrius: The runeblade you carry was forged by the Lich King and empowered to steal souls. Yours was the first one it claimed.Arthas: Then I'll make do without one.
- The Starscream: First towards the Burning Legion, then, in the novel, Ner'zhul.
- Tin Tyrant: Oh, how he does nail the aesthetic.
- Took a Level in Badass: First when he claims Frostmourne for himself, then takes a million more when he became the Lich King, ascending to Physical God levels of power.
- Übermensch: Arthas has accomplished more than any other native Azerothian. He carved a path of destruction across a continent, brought about the decimation of entire civilizations single handed, defeated god-like beings and did in fact ascend to godhood. By his actions the very face of the world was irreversibly changed and radically so for all eternity even if Tirion did defeat him in the end. He even had a Last Man equivalent in Tirion.
- The Undead: Arthas is a very interesting take on this. There was never a point in his character arc before his final death where he was simply "dead". However, he has sustained injuries that would render a living being dead on the spot (most notably, when he cut out his own heart) and presumably his necromantic magic kept him animate. Basically Arthas was a very weird place where he managed to become undead, but never actually died in the first place, if that makes any sense.
- Ungrateful Bastard: He enlists mercenaries to help destroy the ships that his men are trying to escape to. How does he thank them? By accusing the mercenaries as the one who burnt down the ships and slaughtering them. Muradin called him out on this.
- Villainous Friendship: With Kel'thuzad. He even calls him a loyal friend at one point.
- Villainous Breakdown: A subtle one; before Tirion breaks out and shatters his blade he's laughing maniacally; after wards he's more subdued first saying "Impossible" then calmly saying that they don't fear him despite how he threatened and to destroy them. It's subtle but there.
- Because one of Arthas's main tools as the Lich King was fear, once he realized that the player characters and Tirion don't fear him (indeed cannot fear him), even in the face of defeat, he realized he was screwed from the start.
- Villain Protagonist: Gets two whole campaigns centered around him in Warcraft III, and a third in the expansion.
- Voice of the Legion: After becoming the Lich King.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: At first.
- Worthy Opponent: Illidan regards him as one. When they first met, he is surprised to find Arthas is his match as a combatant and actually finds himself struggling to keep up with him; where Arthas has no such trouble. Then again Illidan had been imprisoned and probably hasn't had a chance to practice and maintain his fighting skills for thousands of years.Illidan: We could go on fighting like this forever... what is it you truly want?
- What the Hell, Hero?: Uther and Jaina's reaction to his choice at Stratholme.
- And later Muradin when he told his men that the mercenaries destroyed their ships, even though that was his orders.
- Warrior Prince: Arthas tended to fight on the front lines with his troops far more often than any Prince rationally had the right to...
- Warrior Monk: This used to be his job. Up until he became the God of his own religion.
- You Have Failed Me: Several times, such as to Drakuru.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Frostmourne eats at the soul of anyone it touches, mostly via killing them, but even wielding the blade is said to leave one with their soul trapped. At times the spirits appear from the blade to speak to the living or pester Arthas.
"I am Kel'Thuzad, and I've come to deliver a warning. Leave well enough alone. Your curiosity will be the death of you."
Class: LichA powerful necromancer in life, Kel'Thuzad was resurrected in the energies of the Sunwell by Arthas shortly after the latter's Face–Heel Turn. With the help of the Scourge forces, he was able to summon Archimonde into Azeroth via portal magic; the Eredar's ensuing rampage destroyed the city of Dalaran and culminated in the loss of the World Tree. Despite the defeat of the Burning Legion (and by proxy, the Scourge), Kel'Thuzad was not killed; rather, he accompanied Arthas on his journey to Northrend, where the prince eventually became the Lich King and appointed Kel'Thuzad as his right hand lich. Currently, he rules the necropolis of Naxxramas, always eager for a raid group to fight.
- Affably Evil: Much more so after he is raised as a lich, and takes on a mentoring role to Arthas. He even waves off Arthas killing him.
- An Ice Person: Most of his arsenal is built around frost-based magic.
- Badass Baritone: Yup, and echoes, too, after he becomes a lich.
- Back from the Dead: Twice. His resurrection as a lich was the first. Before the Burning Crusade, however, he was the final boss of the original Naxxramas instance; after being killed by the players, his phylactery was turned in to an Argent Dawn NPC. However, this NPC turned out to be a Smug Snake who sold the phylactery back to the Lich King in exchange for lichhood himself. One expansion later, Kel'Thuzad was back.
- Boring Yet Practical: Sure he works great as a siege engine to bulldozer towers with Death and Decay, and he can be pointed at enemy heroes to take big chunks out of them with Frost Blast but mostly you'll just have him sit back and Frost Armor your front lines.
- Came Back Strong: Goes from an over glorified Necromancer Giant Mook to a Lich Hero, with the best base-razing power in the entire game.
- Camp Gay: In the Arthas novel, Kel'Thuzad is... prissy.
- Cuteness Proximity: The deepest, darkest depths of Naxxramas are home to...his adorable pet kitten, Mr. Bigglesworth.
- Deadpan Snarker: This exchange, while observing Sylvanas who is still determined to stop Arthas.Sylvanas: [to Arthas] Did you forget about us, wretches!?
Kel'Thuzad: She is persistent. [amused] Reminds me of you, death knight.
Arthas: [annoyed] Shut up, you damned ghost.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When you kill his Right-Hand Cat, he swears vengeance on you. Urban legend has it that this activates Naxxramas' hardmodes, but this has no effect on the instance. One interpretation of it is that if groups don't heed the advice to not kill the cat, they most likely won't follow strategies on the boss fights.
- The Dragon:
- One of two, along with Anub'arak, to Arthas' Big Bad. In World of Warcraft, Anub'arak is the significantly less powerful of the two, making Kel'Thuzad the clear Dragon. Like Kel'thuzad before him, Anub'arak has now been brought back from the dead again, as a harder end game boss than the second incarnation of Kel'thuzad, but easier than the first incarnation.
- He also has Sapphiron, an undead wyrm which is his dragon.
- Easily Forgiven: Arthas is actually surprised that Kel'Thuzad holds him no ill will for the fact that Arthas was the one who originally killed him. Justified in that Kel'Thuzad knew ahead of time that it would happen.
- Elemental Armor: One of his skills in Warcraft III, and the one you'll probably be casting the most.
- Evil Genius: Back when Ner'Zhul was the Big Bad and Arthas was The Dragon, he had this role.
- Face–Heel Turn: Before Warcraft III, he was a human mage of Kirin Tor.
- Final Boss: Of Naxxramas, and the last boss of pre-expansion World of Warcraft in the very same dungeon.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Among the Kirin Tor when he was human, as a result of his idea to study Necromancy to fight it crossing the Moral Event Horizon and being seen as a loner.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: At least gameplay-wise, as noted under Came Back Strong above, he was a Giant Mook until resurrected and transformed into a Lich Hero, with the best base-razing power in the entire game. Averted story-wise, as he was never a "nobody" per se.
- Fun Size: The Lil' Phylactery/Lil' K.T..
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Implied to be the case when Kel'Thuzad was just human, due to his coin and his social status.
- Inferred Survival: When Kel'Thuzad is defeated in Wrath of the Lich King, players don't find his phylactery like they did when he was defeated for the first time. Since liches can't be killed permanently unless their phylactery is destroyed (a point that was firmly established in the game), Kel'thuzad could potentially return again someday.
- More Than Mind Control: After he becomes undead, a lich to be exact, you may argue that he, just like many other undeads, is under the Lich King's mind control. However, you can't forget that while he was still alive, he is the one who found Cult of The Damned and already worshiping the Lich King since then. He also follows Arthas completely even when he loses control over weaker minions like Slyvanas and the majority of the undead, implying genuine loyalty.
- Mundane Wish: You can find Kel'Thuzad's coin in Dalaran fountain, from when he used to be human. Rather tragically, all he wished for was a hug.Kel'Thuzad's Gold Coin: Sometimes... I wish someone would come along and just give me a big, long hug.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning:Kel'Thuzad: [towards Arthas] I told you my death would mean little.
- The Necromancer: Kel'thuzad is the God of this trope.
- Power Echoes: How he speaks as a Lich.
- Power Floats: The only time he touches the ground is when he's dead.
- Religion of Evil: Started the Cult of the Damned back when he was alive.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Evil Versus Evil example towards a Blackrock orc blademaster.Blackrock Orc Blademaster: We orcs are the true servants of the Burning Legion! These mindless undead are weak... impure!
Kel'Thuzad: Your people failed their task, savage. You, too, must be scourged from the world!
- Single-Target Sexuality: Implied this is how Kel'Thuzad feels towards Arthas. After his transformation to an undead Lich. Squick.
- Spirit Advisor: Before his resurrection, he made several appearances to Arthas as a ghost, instructing him on how best to proceed (which, naturally, included bringing him back).
- Villainous Friendship: With Arthas. Arthas even calls him a loyal friend after Kel'Thuzad saves him from Sylvanas.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In Reign of Chaos' Undead Campaign, Kel'Thuzad believes this is Burning Legion's view on orcs. And it later gets funny when in Orc Campaign, we are shown that Archimonde along with his two Dragons, Tichondrius and especially Mannoroth, seriously considered to re-recruit the orcs.
- The Undead: Becomes undead when raised as a powerful Lich.
"The Scourge will devour all!"
Class: Crypt LordAnub'Arak is the former king of Azjol-Nerub, who was killed and raised by the Scourge. The big crypt lord is now called a "Traitor King" by the surviving Nerubians, who wish to see him destroyed. He met up with Arthas on Northrend, who, alone and severely weakened, gladly accepted Anub'Arak's help.
- Affably Evil: Arguably the least overtly evil character, in Frozen Throne.
- An Ice Person: In Trial of the Crusader.
- Attack Reflector: One of his abilities in The Frozen Throne sends part of Melee attacks back at the attacker.
- Badass Baritone / Evil Sounds Deep: In The Frozen Throne.
- Badass Boast: One of his standard lines in The Frozen Throne:Anub'Arak: My might cannot be matched!
- Brainwashed and Crazy:
- You can't see it in Frozen Throne because he seems entirely loyal to Arthas, but his Last Words in Wrath of the Lich King clearly show it.Anub'Arak: RAAAAAAGH! Never thought... I would be free of him...
- In actuality, as he's shown to have faked it, his actual death quote however, is different.Anub'Arak: I have failed you, Master!
- You can't see it in Frozen Throne because he seems entirely loyal to Arthas, but his Last Words in Wrath of the Lich King clearly show it.
- The Big Guy: In the undead campaign of Frozen Throne.
- The Brute: Was this when while Ner'Zhul was Big Bad and Arthas was The Dragon. When Arthas got a promotion, so did he.
- Deal with the Devil: Subverted: Kel'Thuzad had guessed this was how he'd become a Crypt Lord, to which he replied "'Agreed' implies choice."
- Demoted to Extra:
- His first appearance in Wrath of the Lich King was as a level 74 dungeon boss, which outraged many players. Then the Argent Coliseum was completed, and he turned up again, just a wee bit harder.
- This has mostly to do with Blizzard scrapping the idea of Azjol-Nerub as an entire underground zone.
- Though Blizzard didn't completely forget him, as he is featured in Heroes of the Storm before other Scourge more influental members like Kel'Thuzad.
- The Dragon: Along with Kel'Thuzad he acts as this to Arthas. He used to be a much more important character, then Azjol-Nerub got scrapped and turned into a bunch of dungeons.
- Dying as Yourself: Subverted. He fakes his death claiming "I thought I'd never be free of him". When he actually dies however, he doesn't act as such.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In Frozen Throne, Anub'arak is horrified by the Faceless Ones and the Forgotten One.
- Genre Savvy: Gives the people who "killed" him the first time a very sterotypical "Dying as Yourself" quote when faking his death. It works and nobody expects him to come back in the Argent Coliseum, having tunneled under it.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of his attacks and part of his defense.
- The Quisling: He isn't one, but the living Nerubians call him the Traitor King even though he didn't join the Scourge willingly.
- Spikes of Villainy: One of his abilities causes him to grow spikes on his carapace, granting bonus armor and partially sending attacks back at the sender.
- The Swarm: His ultimate attack.
- The Undead: Implied to be raised from death, instead of willingly joining as with Kel'thuzad, or being tricked into it, as with Arthas.
Class: NecromancerOnce an esteemed magister, Dar'Khan Drathir would become one of Quel'Thalas' greatest traitors. His limitless ambition, combined with his egotistical mindset, made him an easy pawn for the forces of the Lich King. Empowered by the treacherous Prince Arthas himself, Dar'Khan opened the way for the Scourge to enter Quel'Thalas and ravage the land in their march to the Sunwell.Though he was killed at some point after the fall of Quel'Thalas, Dar'Khan has been resurrected by the Lich King and now resides at the fortress of Deatholme in the southern Ghostlands, where he commands the Scourge in Quel'Thalas.
- Arch-Enemy: Lor'themar considers him one, but the feeling is not mutual.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: First he betrayed his homeland, then he tried to betray Arthas!
- Dragon Rider: Rides some dragon-like creature akin to the ones ridden by the Nazgûl in Lord of the Rings.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Despite his contributions to the Sunwell, he was not rewarded for his efforts. As such, he sought to reward himself for what he considered to be good work.
- Fingore: In the novel Dragon Hunt, his index finger — with the ring on it — is removed from the rest of his hand. But it seems to have reappeared somehow when we next see him.
- Karmic Death: Killed twice thanks to the power of the Sunwell, which he sought to take for himself.
- Off with His Head!: The players must bring his head to the regent of Quel'Thalas in World of Warcraft The Burning Crusade.
- Remember the New Guy: A very significant one, essentially a flat-out Retcon; Dar'khan was never mentioned in Warcraft III. However, in The Sunwell Trilogy and The Burning Crusade, it's stated that not only was Dar'khan a loyal servant of Arthas' during the invasion of Quel'thalas, but was integral in helping him invade Silvermoon and reach the Sunwell.
- Ring of Power: Uses it to control the bands on Kalec and Anveena's necks.
- The Starscream: To Arthas, he doesn't get much further than boasting about it.
- Starter Villain: To Blood Elves PCs; as the leader of the Scourge in what remains of Quel'Thalas, he is the first major villain to face for them, and the last one to face before the Blood Elves officially join the Horde.
- Stripped to the Bone: Yup◊, although he's later reanimated as undead.
Formerly a High Elf warrior who survived the battle of Silvermoon, now an undead Blood Elf and the leader of the San'layn. She was a warrior of Quel'thalas and part of Kael's forces that fought to destroy the Frozen Throne at Icecrown. After Illidan's defeat, she was one of the survivors hunted down personally by the Lich King. Despite her efforts, Lana'thel was defeated and raised as an undead. The Lich King made her Blood-Queen Lana'thel, leader of the San'layn and put her in charge of overseeing Scourge operations across Azeroth.
- Affably Evil: The least overtly evil of the bosses in the Icecrown Raid; Lana'thel's dialogue implies she cares for those under her command (for instance, referring to her lieutenants as 'brothers' and converted player characters as '[her] precious one'). There's also how she talks with the forces around Quel'delar and lets them live when she's done.
- Bare Your Midriff: Her look as leader of the San'layn.
- Co-Dragons: With Anub'arak and Kel'thuzad.
- Cool Sword: She wielded Quel'Delar during the campaign in Northrend.
- Drop the Hammer: Wields a mace with a green crystal head in Icecrown.
- High Collar of Doom: How she keeps up that absurdly huge collar no one knows.
- Infinity–1 Sword: Quel'Delar was the best sword available outside of raiding or PvP during Wrath of the Lich King
- Kiss of the Vampire: One of her attacks, which she can use to take control of players by turning them.
- Lady in Red: Clad in crimson colors, check. Seductive towards the attacking players, check.
- Monster Progenitor: Implied to be the first of the San'Layn. At least she is the only one seen turning others into San'Layn.
- Morality Chain: Quel'delar was hers, which is why she shattered it and threw it away.
- My Greatest Failure: Though loyal to the Lich King, she once remembered her past life and regretted serving him.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The closest this setting gets to vampires.
- Winged Humanoid: She has grown huge bat-like wings. How she got them is unknown.
An ice troll encountered by the players, having been captured by the companions of Budd Nedreck. He makes a deal with the player that is supposed to ensure that Drak'tharon Keep remains unbreached and Zul'Drak safe from the Scourge. In reality, he tricks the player into lowering Drak'tharon Keep's defenses, allowing the Scourge to swarm over it. He is subsequently placed in charge of subjugating the rest of Zul'Drak for the Scourge and tries to forcibly convert the player to help in this. The player and the Knights of the Ebon Blade exploit this to infiltrate his forces and sabotage his plans, culminating in his death at the hands of the Lich King himself.
- Affably Evil: He is quite amiable and friendly with the player, even if he tricked them into lowering Zul'drak's outer defenses. He even offers the player to share in his reward and lets them go when they refuse. Even when he later tries to forcibly convert them to his cause, he still considers them a friend and only begins to rail against them angrily when they betray him.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: His promotion from the Lich King makes him far too strong for the players to defeat on their own, and lets him beat down his own super-weapons with relative ease.
- Blood Oath: His first interaction with the player is to declare a truce, with both drawing blood from their palms and shaking on it. Indeed, he never goes out of his way to harm the player, considering his use of the conversion choker to be like an invitation, until the trap is sprung on him.
- Casting a Shadow: Utilizes shadowbolts as part of his arsenal after the Lich King grants him his reward.
- The Chessmaster: He quite cleverly manipulates the player into aiding the Scourge's cause by lowering the outer defenses of Zul'drak, in the belief it'd help strengthen them instead.
- Et Tu, Brute?: He takes your betrayal very badly.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: When the player meets him, he's just another troll that's been rounded up by Budd's gang to be sold for his information. Some smooth talk later, and he is a powerful lieutenant of the Lich King who personally is responsible for the fall of the Drakkari civilization.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He had experimented on captured trolls, injecting them with blight essence until they swelled into hulking monstrosities, and planned to unleash them on the Drakkari resistance. The player ultimately brings him down using these behemoths against him.
- Killed Off for Real: The Lich King himself kills him and doesn't raise his remains.
- Large and in Charge: Turns quite huge after being granted his reward by the Lich King.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Blown up this way by the Lich King.
- Off with His Head!: The Lich King disposes of him this way.
- Poisonous Person: Acts alot like a Unholy Death Knight, focusing on summoning Undead, a Ghoul as a permanent indivual companion (That's you) and using plagues as his favored weapon.
- The Quisling: Betrayed his people to the Scourge and takes up a high position among them to subjugate the rest of his homeland.
- Villainous Breakdown: Takes the player's betrayal of him quite badly.
- Villainous Friendship: He thinks you and he have this going on. When the truth is revealed, he reacts badly.
- You Have Failed Me: The Lich King explicitly says this before he kills him.