Blizzard Entertainment's famous Real Time Strategy trilogy (yes, the franchise did exist beforeWorld of Warcraft).Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (1994) tells the story of the kingdom of Azeroth, which is attacked by a Horde of green-skinned marauders that are hell-bent on exterminating the human population. The player is either a valiant human lord who beats back the orcs and gets crowned the monarch of Azeroth after King Llane dies, or an orc general who crushes the noble capital of Stormwind and betrays his warchief, becoming the new leader of the orcs.In Warcraft II: the Tides of Darkness (1995), we discover that while elements of both campaigns happened, the orc campaign victory was canon. The new orc warchief (Orgrim Doomhammer, who slew Big BadBlackhand after the conclusion of the previous game) is creating a Horde more dangerous than ever by enlisting creatures such as trolls, ogres, dragons, and goblins into its ranks, while the surviving humans of Azeroth (led by the human commander from the previous game, Lord Anduin Lothar) have fled across the seas to the countries of Lordaeron and created an Alliance consisting of humans, elves, dwarves and gnomes. Soon, the two juggernauts face each other over global domination. Again, while missions from both sides occur, the Alliance victory is canonical, but Lothar, their greatest hero, falls; Doomhammer flees into exile. In the Expansion PackWarcraft II: Beyond The Dark Portal, the Alliance pursues the beaten Orcs to their dying homeworld of Draenor to stop them from gathering reinforcements... and discover a far darker plot. Ner'zhul, a powerful Orc warlock, decides to use several ancient artifacts to open doorways from Draenor to other worlds for the Orcs to conquer. The foiling of his plot finally seems to spell an end to the red planet. The Orcs remaining on Azeroth are rounded up and placed in internment camps. The other creatures of the Horde go their own ways.An Adventure Game was planned, called Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, which would detail the Horde shaking loose their demonic influences and make a Heel Face Turn under the leadership of a human-raised Orc named Thrall, but the game was cancelled supposedly due to low quality (It was animated by Animation Magic, the same studio behind the first two Zelda CD-i games and other, more obscure productions). The key elements of its story were then used for one of the tie-in novels, Lord Of The Clans.Lord of the Clans' plot was worked into the backstory of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002), which added the Night Elves and Undead as playable factions. In the game, the Horde, now under Thrall, flees Lordaeron on advice from Medivh, a human prophet. Shortly after, the Scourge—an undead army created by the demons who had corrupted the orcs in the first place, and led by Ner'zhul, trapped in an almost formless existence—assaults the Alliance, which was already beginning to fracture politically. The Elves of Lordaeron are decimated; Lordaeron's prince, Arthas, becomes the Scourge's most powerful minion due to his lust for vengeance; and his former lover and princess of the nation of Kul Tiras, Jaina Proudmoore, takes any survivors she can over the sea—again, on advice from the prophet. Across the sea, on Kalimdor, the Horde has allied with a native race, the Tauren, and found a new tribe of Trolls that can join them. The Alliance arrives soon after, and again following the words of the Prophet, unite against their greater foe - the Burning Legion. But their settlement does not go unnoticed - the Night Elves, led by Tyrande Whisperwind, see the outlanders as despoiling Kalimdor...until faced again with the Burning Legion after ten thousand years. The truce between the Horde and Alliance expands to include the Night Elves, and their combined forces are enough to break the Burning Legion's advance and slay its leader, Archimonde. Despite the victory, Lordaeron is left ravaged, the High Elves have lost 90% of their numbers and the Scourge is feasting on the bones.The expansion pack, Warcraft III: the Frozen Throne, focuses on the secondary night elf Anti-MageAnti-Hero Illidan Stormrage, who is hired by the Burning Legion's new lord to kill the Lich King, the ruler of the Scourge, who through his machinations and indeed his dealings with Illdan had ensured the demons' loss, despite ostensibly serving the Legion. Illidan hires the serpentine Naga, night elves corrupted by ancient magic, to help himself achieve the task, but is stopped by his people, who think he was trying something more villainous. Desperate now, he flees in search of new allies and a place to hide. In Lordaeron, the Blood Elves (the scraps of of the Elven civilization the Scourge had destroyed) are cast aside by Alliance's bigoted commander...and are aided by Illidan and his Naga, who go into hiding in the shattered remnant of Draenor. Illidan cannot hide from his master, however, and turns his focus back to the Scourge, settling on all-out assault with his new allies. Arthas, now calling himself King of Lordaeron, finds himself dealing with a rebellion led by minor lords of the Legion and some of the enemies he had killed and brought back as undead allies, who have regained their minds with the Lich King so harried. One of them, an Elven general named Sylvanas Windrunner, takes command of the rebellious undead and carves out a new nation for them. Arthas has no time to deal with her, however, and hurries to save his Master. He and Illidan battle in Northrend, and the death knight defeats Illidan, sending him and his allies packing. Arthas then goes to his master and enacts the Lich King's masterstroke—their bodies and minds fusing permanently into one of the most powerful beings on the face of Azeroth.Meanwhile, Thrall and the Horde settle down and the orcs begin work on their new capital city, Orgrimmar. The traveling beast master Rexxar becomes involved in the orcs' work to forge a new homeland, but trouble rears its ugly head when Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, Jaina Proudmoore's father and an Alliance hero from Warcraft II: the Tides of Darkness shows up. Jaina has built a city for her refugees called Theramore Isle, and has been able to maintain peace with the nearby Horde. However, her father still hates the orcs for their demon-fueled war crimes, and, unwilling to see that they have changed, takes control of Theramore from his daughter and begins to attack the Horde. After helping the trolls evacuate to Orgrimmar, saving the tauren leader Cairne Bloodhoof's son, and taking over a clan of ogres, Rexxar is declared the Champion of the Horde and the Horde attacks Theramore. In return for Jaina's aid in stopping her father, Thrall agrees to spare her soldiers, so Rexxar and his posse of Cairne, the troll scout Rokhan and the pandaren brewmaster Chen Stormstout go and kill Daelin while the forces of the Horde and the Admiral fight. Daelin is slain, Jaina is sad, and the Horde leaves the city of Theramore to rebuild.Warcraft's success eventually gave birth to the MMORPG monster World of Warcraft, which retconned some of the backstory developed by the previous games. It also created the Warcraft Expanded Universe.
Tyrande Whisperwind, Jaina Proudmoore, Sylvanas Windrunner, Maiev Shadowsong... and there's even Mook style action girls: the Night Elf Archers and Huntresses, and High Elf Sorceresses.
Aleria Windrunner from the WC2 expansion, who also happens to be Sylvanas' older sister.
A Day in the Limelight: Every novel and comic released is technically there to provide the backstory of the side characters. Though since every campaign have a different set of main characters, each campaign is probably one itself, since there is no single 'main character' in the story.
Funnily enough, many of the races a player would expect to be Always Chaotic Evil from other works are anything but, whereas a lot of races that are portrayed as good elsewhere are actually pretty nasty in the Warcraft universe. Tauren are basically minotaurs, but most of them are good and honourable. As detailed in the description, the orcs made a Heel Face Turn. Meanwhile, centaurs are brutal savages and satyrs are demon-worshippers. As for goblins, see Our Goblins Are Different below.
Highly visible in WC2, where melee units will happily stand still and get killed by a ranged attacker two spaces away.
Visible as well in WC3, where sometimes a computer opponent will just stop evolving at the second tier. Worse, if you choose to start with a random hero they sometimes ignore it completely and build up to second tier before starting to explore and level their new hero.
Taken to absurd heights by some Night Elf AIs, who will promptly box themselves in with various buildings. It gets worse: quite a few of those buildings they're trapped by? They can move.
Ascended Extra: Some of the major characters were initially just mentioned briefly in the early games. For example, Sargeras was nothing but a throw-away name for a demon whose sceptre Gul'dan was trying to steal.
Ogres in Warcraft I were just random dungeon monsters, but took on a prominent role in Warcraft II.
Asteroids Monster: Hydras. As there's no way to represent one hydra's head being replaced by more, a dying hydra will be replaced by two smaller and weaker hydras.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: While attacking hero units with a horde of weak units is an effective tactic, you need enough Mooks to overwhelm the heroes. This is not the case with the small bandit gangs at the beginning of the Human Alliance campaign...but they insist on making a beeline for paladin Arthas and his high defense stats and enormous smite-mallet anyway. It's common for him to one-shot *thock* them (for honour). Very entertaining, but the labour turnover for bandits has to be ridiculous.
Author Appeal: Character Designer Samwise Didier's love of pandas led to the creation of the Pandaren, though it was the fan's affection for the notion that finally made them canon. You have to squint to see it, but Illidan also has tiny pictures of panda faces on the hilts of his weapons (which also appear on certain gates). And there's somebody in the Blizzard staff (probably several) who really, really likes Monty Python.
Awesome McCoolname: A lot. Most characters from all the races, right down to the generic hero units in multiplayer, get surnames that are just two cool-sounding words squashed together.
The Backwards R: In Warcraft II, the book in the human campaign briefings is written in plain English, but with Cyrillic letters substituted for the Latin ones. One example of such substitution is "Лордаерон", or "Lordaeron."
Badass Mustache: Footmen, Archers and Knights in I. Knights in ''WC III' and units with similar models (Bandit Lords, Garithos).
Bag of Spilling: Happens to Arthas between the Human and Undead campaigns of Warcraft III, but the game goes to some effort to avert this within the campaigns themselves, as a Hero unit that departs for story reasons leaves all their items behind.
Sorceress' "Polymorph" and Shadow Hunter's "Hex" spells can turn opponents into critters for a short while. Quite a few mobs and bosses have access to these spells as well.
In WC2, the wizard's polymorph is a permanent instakill move, which simply turns any hostile unit into the tileset-appropriate critter. There's a reason it's one the most expensive ability to both research and cast.
Archmage: You'd better watch your tone with me, or I'll turn you into a mindless sheep.
In the first game, the human side has the rescue of Sir Lothar and an expedition to kill Medivh. A mission at Sunnyglade was for all effects baseless due to a bug with the rescue of the peasants, a Berserk Button for the entire enemy orc camp. The orc campaign has the the death of Griselda at The Dead Mines and the rescue of Garona from Northshire Abbey.
Nine missions in Warcraft II and its expansions, including escort missions for Cho'gall and Uther Lightbringer. Some missions have peasants who can't build any new structures.
Frequent in Warcraft III where you usually get to play as a main hero of the current campaign, aided by a handful of units. In Frozen Throne the whole Orc campaign is RPG-style (though one mission gives you a base).
In WC1 each side's high-end caster could summon weaker mooks and a single powerful summon, the orcs having the warlock summoning spiders and Daemons, and the human Conjurer creating scorpions and water elementals.
The Bechdel Test: In Warcraft III, Tyrande and Jaina have a conversation about the defense of Mount Hyjal against Archimonde; Sylvanas also has a conversation with one of her banshees about their newfound freedom. Warcraft I and II, however, fail the test.
Lady Vashj also has an extended conversation with Maiev about the origin of the Naga early on, too, and Maiev and Tyrande have a few (admittedly hostile) conversations during the course of the Night Elf campaign.
Best Served Cold: Ner'zhul thinks this way. His brilliant plan to destroy the Legion and install the Scourge (with himself as head) as the dominant power in Azeroth is one of the finest examples of this trope. Also given his powers, it works as a good pun.
Big Bad: Blackhand and Gul'dan in Warcraft I, Orgrim Doomhammer in Warcraft II, Ner'zhul in the expansion Beyond the Dark Portal, Archimonde in Warcraft III. Frozen Throne didn't have a single Big Bad, but the main campaign sequence was driven by the Evil Versus Evil conflict between Kil'Jaeden and the Lich King, while Admiral Proudmoore was Big Bad for the Orc bonus campaign. Sargeras for the whole series.
Big Badass Wolf: Orcish Raiders (AKA wolf riders) in part 1 and 3. Also the ones the Far Seer ride.
Bigger Bad: Sargeras is the ultimate evil in the setting, but as he's usually on his throne and/or out of commission, this is the role he takes in most of the games and novels, rather than direct Big Bad.
Black Magic: According to Canon, most types of magic in the Warcraft universe are this. Although Shadow magic (used by Shadow Priests, Death Knights and the Undead) and Fel magic (used by Demons and Warlocks) are explicitly derived from The Dark Side, even Arcane magic (used by Mages) has the twin drawbacks of being extremely addictive and acting as a beacon to attract demons to Azeroth — as the High Elves found out long ago. Also see White Magic, below.
Kathuulon, Ra'Adoom, Xaxion Drak'eem from "Warchasers" are explicit bosses.
Beyond the Dark Portal has some, most notably Deathwing in the human campaign. In the final orc mission you also have to kill all human hero units bunched together. But they still die like everything else to a catapult or death and decay.
Butt Monkey: Alterac, during the Second War and before the Syndicate. Lore keeps reminding us that they were "the weakest of the Human nations" and "only a minor contributor of troops and equipment to the Alliance" before their betrayal. The Orc campaign in Beyond the Dark Portal has a mission in which you aid the survivors of Alterac and one of their mages. Its mission briefing reminds you how weak the nation is, and an accompanying cutscene in the Playstation version shows Orcs killing the Alterac mage's bodyguards, just because they can, while the Alterac mage helplessly dips his head (skip to 3:09).
Between his undead pallor in lieu of albinism, his soul-drinking runeblade, and his being monarch of a kingdom he eventually turns against and destroys, Arthas has a lot in common with Elric of Melniboné. Even the naming and art of the swords is similar.
Combat Medic: Druids of the Claw are the rare melee-oriented spellcaster, capable of turning into a rampaging bear as well as being able to heal their allies. They're even pretty beefy when not in bear form. Paladins in Warcraft 2 and 3 are also melee-oriented healing spellcasters.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: It sees the full map, needs no resources, and can control more units at once than you can. And prioritizes players over other AI opponents.
Construct Additional Pylons: Farms for both sides in the first two games. The orcs switched from farms to burrows in III, while the two new factions had similar buildings of their own: moonwells for the night elves and ziggurats for the undead.
In the first two games, the two factions were identical, save for the range of their archers/spearmen, their spellcasters and some upgrades. The Human nations/Orcish clans are only different in game by their color.
Critical Hit Class: The Glass Cannon Blademaster from Warcraft III. His three non-ultimate abilities are a Critical Hit for double, triple and quadruple damage depending on level; a sneak attack that makes him move faster, turn invisible, and deal extra damage on his next attack; and creating illusions of himself to take damage. Inverted with the Mountain King, a Mighty Glacier whose Critical Hit has a chance of stunning the target and doing a little extra damage, but his attack speed is much lower (he has active abilities to stun and slow units, however).
Just about any unit with a passive ability (such as heroes with certain orbs or items) turns into this if their attack speed is high enough.
The Berserk status allows to user to attack much faster, but it takes a lot more damage (in %).
Faerie Fire, an autocast move, removes some armor from the target and allows the user to see that unit until the effect fades.
One armor-boosting magic aura is often modified in custom maps to decrease nearby enemies' armor.
Using Banish on a unit makes it immune to physical attacks, but greatly reduces its resistance to Magic-type attacks and spells. As it also slows the target considerably, it's risky to use it on your own units.
Let's not forget Warcraft 2's own Bloodlust, which doubled both the normal damage and the armor-ignoring damage of the target. In some cases this can mean triple damage or even more.
Degraded Boss: The Elite Guard in the orc bonus campaign. In "Old Hatreds" the elite guard plays the role of boss, but in "A Blaze of Glory" they're degraded to Elite Mooks.
Demoted to Extra: Ogres had a major role in Warcraft II but were neutral creeps and mercenaries in Warcraft III.
Ditto for Goblins (mostly as merchants.)
Gnomes seem to have got cut from WC3 entirely.
The human campaign in the Frozen Throne expansion focused largely on the plight of Kael'thas and his Blood Elf remnants... for about two and a half missions. Then they became more or less Out of Focus as the story importance shifted to Illidan and his Naga (made worse by the Blood Elf forces being completely irrelevant alongside the much stronger Naga). By the middle of the Undead campaign, the Blood Elves were out-and-out Mooks with the exception of Kael'thas himself.
Enemy Civil War: The Forsaken against the Dreadlords' enslaved undead forces (starts out as a three way war with Undead still loyal to Arthas, but he took off to Northrend); Thrall's orcs against fallen orcs under a corrupted Grom.
The Horde team up the remnants of The Alliance to defeat Mannoroth. They then both team up with the Night Elves at the Battle of Mount Hyjal.
The Night Elves and Naga team up to rescue Tyrande from the Undead. Later, the Naga help Kael'thas out, but unfortunately Garithos considers it treason and has the Blood Elves imprisoned.
The Forsaken strike an unholy alliance with Alliance forces to defeat the Undead force holding Lordaeron.
In one mission in the human campaign of Beyond the Dark Portal, you command an orc tribe that wants you to crush their enemies. They give you the book of Medivh for your trouble.
Entropy and Chaos Magic: The burning legion, and associated warlocks, demons, and mages, often use a highly destructive form of magic, including many spells with "chaos" in the name, and Chaos damage being a strong damage type in Warcraft 3.
Escort Mission / Badass in Distress Nearly every Hero Unit who appears before Beyond the Dark Portal. Lothar, Garona, Zul'jin, Cho'gall, and Uther Lightbringer are all either escorted or rescued-then-escorted. Of those, only Cho'gall is of any special use in the mission.
There were also some of escort missions with normal units. The Alterac PoW's spring to mind.
Evil Counterpart: Warcraft III plays this perfectly straight in the form of Death Knights and Paladins (the Death Knight's description even reads "evil counterpart to the Paladin"). Paladins have a spell that heals the living and hurts the dead, Death Knights have a spell that does exactly the opposite. Paladins can improve their lifespan with a spell that makes them invulnerable, Death Knights can improve their lifespan by sacrificing minions for hitpoints. Paladins have a defensive aura that improves armor, and Death Knights have an offensive aura that boosts hitpoint regeneration and movespeed for hit-and-run attacks. Paladins have a spell that resurrects the six strongest dead friendly units near him permanently, while the Death Knight can animate the corpses of the six strongest units of any sort near him to fight for 40 seconds before exploding in a shower of gore.
Evil Plan: HOLY CRAP, Ner'zhul the Lich King. Everything he does leads up to the end result he gets (although it does fall apart on him very very slightly at the final stages, as he didn't count on his host being such a stubborn punkass). Actually kind of terrifying when you stop to think on it. Even Illidan playing roflstomp-the-glacier ultimately works to his benefit...
Face Heel Turn: Arthas, (sort of) Sylvanas in the expansion, Sargeras in the backstory.
The Nation of Alterac turns against the Alliance in Warcraft II.
Faction Calculus: Humans (Balanced) vs. Orcs (Powerhouse) vs. Undead (Subversive) vs. Night Elves (Glass Cannons) in Warcraft III.
In Warcraft II, it's Humans (Subversive - they rely on Mages) vs. Orcs (Powerhouse - Rely on Ogres and Bloodlust)
Faction Specific Endings: In Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the Orcish Horde and the kingdom of Azeroth both have an ending where they defeat the other one. Same thing in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and its expansion Beyond the Dark Portal for the Alliance of Lordaeron and the Horde.
Fallen Hero: Arthas, Illidan, Kael'Thas Sunstrider and Grom Hellscream. A few others might be considered this as well.
Fantasy Axis of Evil: Almost literally in Warcraft II. The Horde consists of Orcs, Ogres, Trolls, Goblins, the Undead, Daemons, and Dragons (children of the enslaved Dragon Queen in the first, willing allies in the expansion). Pretty egalitarian, too. If they weren't The Horde, they'd be The Alliance.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Lordaeron is quite obviously European. The Jungle Trolls are Jamaican-like. The Taurens seem to be the native peoples of America's Great Plains, but with their cultural ties to buffalo herds brought to extremes - they actually areBuffalo Men.
The Tauren are Cow-men; their cousins, the Taunka, are the actual Buffalo-men, but they're Inuit.
The Pandaren are a race of anthropromorphised pandas. Nevermind being the mascot of Chinese culture, the Pandarens also believe in a religion similar to Daoism, practise similar style martial arts, wear stereotypical Asian clothing and have an equally stereotypical accent.
Fantastic Racism: A lot of races in Warcraft really don't like each other. The most prominent example is the Humans and Night Elves viewing Orcs as murderous war-like savages (while having some basis in fact,this isn't completely true). Then there's Grand Marshal Garithos, who hates other Alliance races. The trolls of the Eastern continent also hate the elves of Quel'thalas, and joined the orcs in the second war mostly so they could fight their ancient enemies. Warcraft loves this trope.
Fauns and Satyrs: Satyrs in the Warcraft universe are half-demonic corrupted night elves, and Fauns are half-daughters of the Demigod Cenarius.
Firewood Resources: though the Lumber Mills show them as actual planks, worker units carry them as fireplace-sized logs.
For Want of a Nail: One of the tie-in manga brought up an interesting question: What if Jaina didn't leave Arthas at Stratholme? Well, Arthas wouldn't have become the Lich King. There'd be a Lich Queen, though.
From Bad to Worse: The Human Alliance Scourge of Lordaeron campaign is just a perfect example of this. What starts out as a few isolated cases of mysterious, scary illness quickly escalates into a full-blown disaster, and as all hell breaks loose Arthas starts to gradually lose it. This is, of course, all part of the Lich King's colossal bloody Evil Plan.
Fungus Humongous: Giant mushrooms that can be substituted for lumber first appear in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, on the orcish homeworld of Draenor. Similar mushrooms appear in Warcraft III in underground levels, where they can also be used for healing Ancients or summoning Treants, and as we revisit Draenor (now Outland) in The Frozen Throne, we see the same giant mushrooms there once again, filling the same role.
Funny Background Event: In Jaina's first appearance. Two sorceresses duel and one of them gets turned into a sheep.
General Ripper: The bigoted Garithos, who planned to get Kael and the Blood Elves killed by the Undead. And Jaina's father Daelin Proudmoore who wants to continue fighting the orcs, despite their peace treaty with Jaina's forces.
Gladiator Revolt: Thrall, the warchief of the Horde, was raised as a gladiator by humans.
The comic photocopied this (however narmily): After the king of Stormwind washed up on the shores of Durotar after escaping his imprisonment, some orc found him and made him fight as a gladiator.
God Save Us from the Queen: The only Queen known by name in the series is Aszhara, a narcissistic egomaniacal Nightelf Highborne largely responsible for bringing the Burning Legion to Azeroth the first time. After the plan was foiled and the Well of Eternity consumed itself, she was lost in the deep sea along with her servants... only to remerge as the Naga.
The speculative Lich Queen Jaina nightmare in one of the manga sure fits this too.
It really kills the mood when Illidan, in the middle of a dramatic speech, starts flipping out and going through his idle poses. How exactly does standing on one foot and throwing your hands in the air help your case, great demon hunter?
The Blood Mage has one where he puts his hands on his hips, thrusts his chest out, and laughs. It pops up during Kael'thas' story at some very unfortunately timed moments.
Warcraft III indulges in the voice equivalent, if such a thing exists - unit or hero quotes are sometimes inserted into cutscenes, especially in Frozen Throne.
The portraits can be guilty of this. It ruins the drama when after his serious dialog, Thrall turns to the camera and does this weird half-smile.
Hate Sink: Garithos was basically a minor lord who only became relevant because of his ability to rally the living survivors of Lordaeron and is forever known as "the racist who exiled the High Elves" and maybe the one who helped the freed undead take back part of Lordaeron but rarely is it remembered how Sylvanas quickly pulled a You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness. This only really accomplishes the exile of High Elves, the Face Heel Turn of some and for Sylvanas' murder of him to look less like a Kick the Dog moment.
<Hero> Must Survive: Present whenever a hero is involved in Warcraft II (Beyond the Dark Portal is the Trope Namer, where plot-important heroes first started to appear in non-escort missions, and this exact line is displayed in the mission objectives). In III it's a condition in the limited-forces campaign levels and it's averted in the base-building campaign levels, in which an altar can be built to resurrect fallen heroes.
Warcraft 2 started the prototype "Blizzard hero", almost identical to other units of the same kind (with greater hit points and the exception of Zul'Jin's slightly higher range) at first, these type of units grew more unique over the course of subsequent Blizzard games.
A core concept in Warcraft 3. Heroes level up, collect equipment and can be resurrected for a fee if they die.
Heroes actually go all the way back to Warcraft 1. They included Lothar (roughly as strong as a knight, but he appeared before you got to build them in the campaign), Medivh (far more powerful than any normal unit - and you had to kill him) and Garona and Griselda (both defenseless units with Peon stats).
Hook Hand: The Shattered Hand Clan and its leader Korgath Bladefist.
The Horde: The titular example, though only in the first two games. The Scourge and the Legion take over in the third.
Horned Humanoid: Illidan, Dreadlords, Kil'jaeden, and - well, Malfurion is more antlered, but still.
Ignored Epiphany: Before becoming the Lich King, Arthas remembers the voices of his friends and teachers telling him what a bad idea all the other things were that he's done to get this far. This doesn't stop him.
Ignored Expert: The Dalaran Ambassador from "The Warning" counts as this; when he warns the council that "The orcs are not our primary concern here... this plague that has gripped the northlands could have dire ramifications", another ambassador laughs him down: "Plague? You wizards are just being paranoid!"
Instant Gravestone: Units with the Reincarnation ability leave a large cross/ankh-shaped marker on death. Played With, as the unit comes back to life a few seconds later.
Instant-Win Condition: Destroy all buildings, it doesn't matter if your opponent has an unstoppable army compared to yours, if you trash all of your opponent's buildings before he trashes yours, you win. Several parts of the campaign do this as well.
Item Amplifier: III hero units can carry items that improve the damage dealt by their weaponry, such as Orbs of Fire and Claws of Attack.
Just Eat Him: Kodo Beasts and Dragons have an ability that does this. Dryads have a spell immunity, that somehow results in them being indigestible.
In the story, Alexstrasza also did this to Nekros Skullcrusher.
Loads and Loads of Races: There are only 4 playable species in the RTS series, but there are tons of sapient races in existence: orcs, humans, demons, draenei, dwarves, high elves, night elves, gnolls, gnomes, goblins, naga, ogres, tauren, trolls, etc..
Love Triangle: We have the old Malfurion-Tyrande-Illidan triangle in Reign of Chaos. In Frozen Throne, we get hints that there was a triangle between Arthas-Jaina-Kael, which is confirmed in Rise of the Lich King.
Grom Hellscream, at least in his first appearance. He had a remarkably high and screamish voice in Beyond the Dark Portal, and one of his responses when selecting him was simply screaming "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHH!!!"
Mighty Glacier: Dragons/Gryphon Riders in Warcraft 2 are a variation. They're extremely powerful and actually move pretty fast, but they react very slowly to commands.
Misplaced Wildlife: In an underground cave in Kalimdor, Thrall runs into a bunch of sheep, remarking he'd never seen them on that continent. Which is the signal for the Baleful Polymorph to wear off and leave you facing a bunch of footmen.
Mistaken For Granite: At one point in the third game there's a hallway with statues of armored men on either side. Further down the hallway are robotic golems which activate when you reach them (complete with "The statues are coming to life!" in case you missed the point). The golems and the statues look nothing like each other, but that might be Gameplay and Story Segregation.
In the same game certain treasures are seemingly out in the open, only for the nearby rocks to crumble and turn into golems. This is done better than the statue example, as the game script actually destroys said rocks (which are normal, destroyable doodads that would otherwise yield additional loot) and spawns golems almost instantly after the rocks are "destroyed". The animation of the rocks crumbling and the golems being summoned (which they are formed from rocks coming out of the ground) blend together well. A variant of this happens with a pile of bones and flesh turning into skeletons.
Praetorian Guard: Admiral's Elite Guard, the Chief Petty officer and the Chief of chaplains.
Money Multiplier: In II, you can get up to 25% more oil and wood with each load, and 20% more gold, but in III it works the opposite way with upkeep, and you bring in less and less if you have over a certain food load.
Multiplayer Difficulty Spike: The campaign AI is quite blatantly railroaded into the same attack patterns over and over again and protected only by cheating. Online AI, on the other hand, is intended to emulate how human players will act.
Multiple Head Case: Ogres. At least the Ogre magi varieties are more focused, and don't argue with themselves.
Hydras are three-headed, and when killed split into two smaller three-headed hydras (and one animation actually has the heads snapping at each other).
In Warcraft I and II, the Orcish Horde had no healing spells. In the expansion for 2, the Orc heroes (whose deaths meant mission failure) had way more HP then their human counterparts to make up for this. Even after their Heel Face Turn in Warcraft III, the orcish Horde only had healing ward till the expansion added the Shadow Hunter.
Averted with the Scourge in Warcraft III who had several effective skills to heal their units like Deathcoil and Vampiric aura.
Non-Entity General: Sometimes given a name and face in the sequels, such as Doomhammer for the Horde and Turalyon for the Alliance.
Non-Human Undead: The Scourge in Warcraft III includes undead spider-men called Crypt Fiends, undead elves called banshees, and a super flying undead dragon with ice breath. Plus, generic human skeletons can be made with the corpses of any species.
Nonindicative Name: "Infernal" literally means "from below." Given that, you'd expect Infernals to erupt from the ground rather than rain down from the sky. Though of course, if you interpret it as "from hell", a giant golem made of hatred and fire is pretty appropriate...
The Obi-Wan: Grom to Thrall, Uther to Arthas. Later, Grom to Garrosh, and deceased loved ones of death knights in Battle of Light's Hope Chapel, at least to Darion and Thassarian.
One Steve Limit: For the most part it is very unlikely to have more heroes than there are names for them. If it does happen, the game just slaps a roman numeral after the name (Samuro III, Destromath II, etc.)
Our Centaurs Are Different: Pretty much the same as the Greek version (barbaric and violent), except they have a Mongol-inspired society. Said to be the cursed offspring of Cenarius (a night elf/stag god), whose daughters are the much nicer Dryads (night elf/doe).
There are also Magnataurs, a much larger polar creature that are a mix of human and mammoth.
Dragonspawn are draconian versions, following the same body layout as a centaur.
Nerubians, Crypt fiends (undead Nerubians), and Crypt Lords are centauroid versions of spiders and beetles respectively: a large abdomen supported by four legs, a vertical humanoid torso (head, arms and shoulders) and the thorax joining the two together.
Apparently a pre-release version of the Crypt Fiend was a drider-like unit, rather than the mutated spider it is now.
Our Dragons Are Different: The Dragons of Azeroth take a lot of cues from other fantasy stories, though there are some differences. There are 5 main "Dragonflights", each headed by an "Aspect" of a particular part of Azeroth.
Red: Life. Led by Alexstraza the Life-Binder, who also happens to be the queen of all the dragons. (Except for Black, and more recently Blue). They were enslaved by the orcs during Warcraft II to be used as mounts, a feat only possible with the Dragon/Demon Soul.
Blue: Magic, led by Malygos the Spellweaver. Nearly wiped out in the past which threw Malygos into a Heroic BSOD for a several millenia. When he snapped out of it, he decided that Magic was being over used, and that he should get rid of it... by killing all Mortal Magic users and their allies, i.e. pretty much everyone, and trying to redirect the planet's ley lines to a central point, and direct the energy into space, which could result in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
Green: Nature/Dream, led by Ysera the Dreamer. This Flight mostly resides in the Emerald Dream, protecting nature. They're also responsible for the introduction of Druidism to the mortal races, through Cenarius. Recently, the Emerald Dream has been corrupted by a strange force called the Nightmare, and there are rumors of powerful Green Dragons being corrupted by it, including (possibly) Ysera herself.
Bronze: Time, led by Nozdormu The Timeless One. These dragons have the power to travel through time, ensuring history isn't altered. Recently, a strange flight known as the Infinite Dragonflight has been attempting to derail history, keeping the Bronze Dragons very busy. There are rumors that the Infinite Dragonflight is actually a future version of the Bronze Flight, as indicated by quests in Dragonblight and a timed event in the Caverns of Time)
Black: Earth. This Flight is led by Neltharion the Earth-Warder, now known as Deathwing. Once charged with shaping the earth, this Dragonflight now seeks to subvert all of Azeroth to it's masters will.
There are also some other dragonflights that seem to have mutated from these five, such as the Infinite, Chromatic, and Twilight Dragonflights. You can also find the ancestors of the Dragons, known as Proto-Drakes, throughout Northrend.
Our Goblins Are Different: Warcraft goblins are smaller than orcs, but also have some knowledge of technology, particularly that which explodes. They first showed up in WarCraft II as the inventors of the Horde. They were characterized by their suicidal insanity and seem to be fighting for kicks. In WarCraft III goblins left the Horde, becoming a neutral force, but they still aren't exactly good. They've become a bunch of greedy industrialists with a Screw the Rules, I Have Money! attitude, a taste in clothes that would shock Paris Hilton, a deep belief that people from other cultures are inferior to them, and a mercantile ruthlessness that would be horrible if it wasn't Played for Laughs. Sound familiar?
The Pennyfarthing Effect: Warcraft 1 is pretty bad with this, being one of the first RTS games ever made. You can't drag a box around a group of units without holding Ctrl down. For no readily apparent reason.
Plaguemaster: The Lich King spends much of Warcraft III spreading his Plague of Undeath across Lordaeron, and the Scourge's units have a few disease-related abilities on the battlefield.
Planetary Parasite: The Old Gods are planetary parasites that merge themselves to a planet and slowly corrupt it. Whether this would eventually destroy the planet is unknown, as the Old Gods on Azeroth were sealed away by the Titans (they could not be killed, having already corrupted the planet to such a degree that removing them would've required the destruction of Azeroth).
Uther the Lightbringer: This urn contains the ashes of your father, Arthas! What, were you hoping to piss on them one last time before leaving this kingdom to rot?
Sylvanas Windrunner: Give my regards to hell, you son of a bitch.
Kael'thas Sunstrider: Insolent son of a... let's get this over with.
Dwarf Rifleman: (Of Garithos) They don't pay us enough to put up with that asshole.
Oddly enough, the dwarf units seem to get a pass on this: "Take this, you bastard!" for both the Mortar Team and Muradin, though with different word emphasis.
Mortar Team: Move yer arse!
Prophecy Twist: "Your young prince will find only death in the cold north." Which he does, in the form of a sword which turns him into an (undead) Death Knight—and a lot more death besides (an entire undead army). But Arthas doesn't find what he was looking for, a way to save his kingdom; instead, he's turned into his kingdom's destroyer.
Proud Merchant Race: Kul Tiras was known for its merchant fleet before the Second War. The Goblins are a more violent example.
The human nation of Stromgarde, led by a family named Trollbane. Guess how they became famous.
Psycho Rangers; Illidan's Blood Elf, Naga and Draenei forces are similar to Alliance, Orcs and Night Elves.
Put on a Bus: Gnomes disappeared entirely in Warcraft III, their role having been taken over by the dwarves. They were eventually brought back for World of Warcraft. Also the Beyond the Dark Portal heroes excluding Grom Hellscream. Probably justified by them being trapped on Draenor when it blew up.
Red Herring: The Warcraft 2 manual has a few. Gilneas thinks its army is powerful enough to face the Horde alone? Well, no need to find out. The Black Tooth Grin Clan is led by the sons of Blackhand, who was killed by the current Horde leader Doomhammer, and now they're secretly plotting revenge? And the Dragonmaw Clan has close ties to them? Well, no worries; you won't hear anything about them, ever.
Justified with units that have Roar or Howl of Terror, as it increases/decreases your allies'/enemies' damage.
Running Gag: The Demon Hunter, the Dreadlord, Tichondrius, and Arthas have a running gag based on the line "Darkness called." Darkness attempts to call them but can't because of his mediocre phone service.
Save The World Climax: It starts with Thrall leaving the continent to find another one where his people can find a place to leave in peace, while Arthas investigates an epidemic. He then fights against a growing army of undead that threatens his kingdom. The climax has every faction of the world making a Last Stand against The Legions of Hell who want to destroy all life in the universe.
Schmuck Bait: Frostmourne. "Just as the blade rends flesh, so must power scar the spirit." Arthas falls for it.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The original games and early lore described the Second War as a conflict of attrition, lasting several years. However, current lore implies that the Second War lasted only about one year, or perhaps just a few months. *
For those of you keeping track, that's a year for the formation of the Alliance with seven human nations and four nonhuman nations, the uniting of the Horde with three native species (one of them being enslaved), the very conception of the death knights and paladins and ogre-magi, the invasion of Khaz Modan and building of the Horde fleet, then the campaigns through southern Lordaeron and Aerie Peak, then the burning of Quel'thalas, then the march west through Alterac's mountains and the siege of Capital City, then the sending of troops across the sea to the Tomb of Sargeras to punish the traitorous Gul'dan, then the destruction of the Horde fleet, then the march from Capital City first south then east across the continent then south again across Khaz Modan, then the lifting of the siege at Ironforge, then the Battle of Blackrock Spire and destruction of the Dark Portal.
Busiest. Year. Ever.
Selective Obliviousness: Warcraft 2. Level 8: There's been a peasant revolt by guys wearing Alterac colors - how strange. Level 9: Uther Lightbringer was almost killed by Alliance ships sailing with Alterac colors - how strange. Level 10: Let's interrogate these traitors who were wearing Alterac colors when they were caught. Level 11: Alterac has betrayed us! So that's why their national banner has a Horde emblem on it.
Staged Populist Uprising: During a mission in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, a peasant revolt erupts in the township of Tyr's Hand while the Alliance is still fighting the Horde. It's later revealed that it was started by spies from Alterac, whose king had been working with the Horde the whole time. And in that game, peasant attacks were almost as strong as that of a footman!
Summon Magic: Many heros or magic caster units can temporarily create other units to fight in your army. Hero-summoned units are usually pretty tough, however, dispelling effects damage or destroy the summoned creature (a Tauren spirit walker can wipe out a squadron of skeletons).
In Warcraft: Orcs and Humans the summoning spell was the most powerful and expensive for each side, summoning for a limited time ranged water elementals and huge blade-wielding daemons for the humans and orcs respectively.
Spike Shooter: Warcraft 3 has quillboars, a race of Pig Men who can throw their quills at enemies. The quilbeast, a warthog-like creature summoned by the Beastmaster, does the same.
Harpies are said to shoot razor-sharp pinfeathers.
Standard Fantasy Setting: Averted as most races, including humans, have 20th century technology but have for the most part been blown back into the dark ages by infrastructure loss resulting from cataclysm and war.
The Starscream: The Horde has had several. Orgrim Doomhammer (read as: you) in the original game. Gul'dan in the second game. Ner'zhul himself.
The Blood Elf/Naga/Lost One Draenei coalition storming the Black Citadel Temple.
The final missions of both sides in the original. The siege of Dalaran for a notable one from the second.
Story And Gameplay Segregation: Combined with Cutscene Power to the Max in the last level of Warcraft 3, when Thrall defiantly tells Archimonde that the orcs are now free, hitting him with a lightning spell before teleporting away. In-game, Archimonde is immune to magic, meaning not only would the spell do no damage, you wouldn't even be able to target him with it.
There's a beautiful subversion of this in The Frozen Throne - Arthas LOSES LEVELS as the Lich King loses power.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: In general, melee units beat artillery, artillery beats towers, and towers beat melee units. In Warcraft II, destroyers beat gryphons, gryphons beat battleships and submarines, and battleships and submarines beat destroyers.
Technicolor Toxin: Mainly green, seen with the Orb of Venom, the Scourge's Plague cloud and the attacks of Dryads, Chimeras and Assassins. There's also a purple Orb which "slows enemies down" which could fit as toxin.
The Computer Shall Taunt You: In a cutscene preceding one mission in Warcraft III where you are controlling the undead Scourge, the orc leading a charge against you opines that killing a bunch of weak, mindless undead like you guys should be no problem.
Tornado Move: In Warcraft III, the Cyclone spell creates a tornado under a unit that propels it into the air, unable to move, attack or be attacked. The Tornado spell channels a large, slow moving tornado that does large amounts of damage to buildings it passes over, and randomly casts the aforementioned Cyclone on units that get too close.
Units Not To Scale: Very obvious. The Tauren Chieftain in Warcraft III is as tall as the barracks!
Unwinnable Joke Game: Warcraft II includes a joke custom map in which the player only controls a single peasant surrounded by dozens of AI enemy controlled units. Predictedly, it ends with a defeat after a couple of seconds. The unwinnable status of the mission is even lampshaded in its file name ("Suicide") and ingame description ("If you win, you're Warcraft god" or something like that).
It is possible to win it if you can enter the invincibility cheat quickly enough.
Updated Rerelease: Warcraft II: Battle.net edition, released three years after Tides of Darkness, upgraded the game to support the eponymous Battle.net online service and added several improvements such as hotkeys for groups and full Windows 9X compatibility.
Vengeance Feels Empty: Maiev Shadowsong of Warcraft III 's expansion pack The Frozen Throne and World of Warcraft; she pursued Illidan Stormrage for a long time, and realised this after she / adventurers (can't remember who) killed Illidan.
Also, Illidan devours the Skull of Guldan which the Legion was using to spread corruption throughout the Night Elves' forests. This transforms him into a half-demon, and gives him the ability to defeat the demon Tichondrius.
White Magic: Consists of Holy magic (used by Paladins and Priests) and Nature magic (used by Druids and Shamans). In lore, these are the only pure sources of power; all other types are either corrupt to begin with or inevitably lead there. See Black Magic, above.
You Have Failed Me: Reign of Chaos. At the start of the 2nd Night Elf mission, Archimonde and two doomguards corner Tyrande but she uses her invisibility to make them think she got away. Archimonde was so pissed, he killed one of the doomguards.
This is one of Archimonde's favorite lines, and preferred method of dealing with minions.
Kil'jaeden drops this on Illidan, but gives him another chance.