Save Scumming: Inverted, or played straight depending on your point of view. An exploit introduced in 4.3 allowed for you and your raid to get as much loot as you wanted using LFR, with the top guilds, like Paragon or Method, acquiring the 4-pc bonuses on all their raiders in a span of 48 hours. By comparison, it normally takes you between 2 weeks and several months to normally gear yourself that well.
This ended with several of the top guilds across the world banned for a whole week, setting them back in the race to world first. The Korean guild "Happy Raiders" eventually won the race over usual favorites Paragon, Method, Ensidia and Blood Legion.
Save the Princess: A quest charges you with rescuing the dwarven princess Moira Bronzebeard from the emperor of the Dark Iron dwarves. In a subversion, she's pregnant with said emperor's child, does not want to be saved, and is slated to replace her deceased husband as the new leader of the Dark Iron Dwarves in Cataclysm. On the other hand she seems to be representing them at the table in Ironforge on an equal footing with the Bronzebeard and Wildhammer dwarves signaling a possible shift in Dark Iron allegiance.
Another dwarf princess, Fanny Thundermar (the sister of her clan's leader so close enough) is captured by ogres; this is another subversion as when the player and Keegan Firebeard rescue her, they find she has already started her own rescue, killing three ogres with her bare hands.
Scare Campaign: The only race the Mogu couldn't enslave were the Mantid, a race as strong and fearsome as them; instead, the Mogu used the threat of the Mantid to scare its slaves into submission.
"It would take many generations to build. But Lei Shen knew how to motivate his subjects. Fear. Fear of the mantid moved mountains, raised armies, secured his empire, and built his wall."
Scary Impractical Armor: The Lich King — this is even lampshaded in the hilarious Scourge Vent Recordings; Arthas complains about his armor. "No, it's not okay, I have skulls...on....my....kneecaps!"
Can also apply to the shoulder armor for all classes starting from the first tier sets onwards. Especially obvious when said shoulders have spikes. For most races, if they sit down and they're wearing shoulders with giant spikes on them, they end up stabbing themselves through the brain. This is specially obvious with orcs, whose shoulders are always scaled at least twice as big compared to other races.
Scary Shiny Glasses: Lord Godfrey has a wonderful pair on, especially during the post infection worgen cutscene. Bonus points for the reflection of the worgen's eyes in the glasses.
Scenery Porn: Perhaps the best so far is found in Pandaria. There's also regions dedicated to Blood Elves, Night Elves, and Draenei in close competition. But if you're more inclined towards wild beauty, there's plenty of that around too, ranging from the wide farmland of the Arathi Highlands to the untamed savannah of Mulgore.
Schizo Tech: Troll, orc, and tauren civilization is mainly early Iron Age, and human civilization is stock Renaissancenote Reliable firearms and ocean-ready ships ? we're not in Middle Age anymore. Europe, dwarves have siege tanks, while gnomes have nuclear energy and cybernetics, and the draenei capital city is a crashed interdimensional spaceship...sort of. Goblins are very industrialized and have cars, rockets, oil wells, Mini-Mecha, high-grade explosives, and implied with "Goblin Gentleman's Magazine", the printing press.
Schmuck Bait: A quest for the Argent Dawn has the player sabotaging a death cult's plague cauldron by adding a very reactive counter-agent. The instructions say to only add a single drop; players can add a single drop, and complete the quest, or they could throw in a whole flask or 12.
The Scottish Trope: When the mage's Ice Lance spell was first introduced, it was incredibly powerful. On the mage forums an unwritten rule developed that you must never name the spell when gushing about it, lest the devs take notice and nerf it, instead homophones such as "Nice Pants" were used.
Grom Hellscream is the trope's current page image.
The Warrior ability "Battle Shout" acts as a rallying cry to temporarily boost his and his party members' strength and agility. There are also demoralizing attacks which intimidate enemies into lowering their attack power such as Demoralizing Shout, Demoralizing Roar and Demoralizing Mmmrrrggglll.
There are several spells that cause the user to let out an audible scream such as the Warrior's Heroic Fury and Inner Fury and the Hunter's Deterrence.
Warmaster Blackhorn gains a Disrupting Roar attack, which damages all players in the raid and interrupts spellcasting for a few seconds. Warriors gain a talent that enables them to interrupt all enemies' spells in Mists of Pandaria.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Two Twilight Dragons, Valiona in Grim Batol and Goriona in Dragon Soul will fly away, leaving their riders behind when they take enough damage. Valiona makes it clear she doesn't like Drahga Shadowburner at all, and won't die with him.
Sealed Cast in a Multipack: Much of the Klaxxi bug-guys storyline in the "Mists of Pandaria" expansion is locating and uncanning paragons, who were packed away sealed in amber for thousands of years as a defense / backup against an empress going insane.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Ragnaros, the Old Gods, and countless other examples. Bolvar's ultimate fate is to willingly become the "Can" for the Scourge.
There is also Nihil the Banished, a black dragon that you may accidentally release when questing in Blade's Edge. However, you can use the temporal modulator again on him, and he will be banished again with a Big "NO!".
The Sha were sealed beneath the temples of the August Celestials before the Alliance and Horde arrived in Pandaria at accidentally freed them with their war. Doubt was in the east, despair in the south, hatred, violence and anger in the north, and fear in the west.
It later emerges that an artifact called the Divine Bell has the ability to control the sha, and Horde Warchief Garrosh Hellscream orders it stolen in an attempt to make super-soldiers with it. It misfires when the sha ends up controlling its test subjects instead of the other way round, and have to be slaughtered by adventurers.
As of Siege of Orgrimar, the definition here is defined as not very, since they side with the Big Bad.
Second Hour Superpower: Both the Worgen and Goblins have racial abilities that have to be unlocked. Worgen players start human, and half way through the starting zone are infected and become worgen, gaining their Darkflight and Two Forms abilities. Goblins gain a hobgoblin servant when they join the Horde at the end of their starting experience.
Secret Police: Garrosh's Kor'kron are getting very close to being this. Deserters, draft dodgers, and anyone who's vocally against the war are taken off the street by Kor'kron enforcers for what Hellscream considers to be treason. The lucky ones are beaten until they've suffered enough that they swear loyalty, the unlucky ones are killed outright.
During a quest where you save Earthen Ring shaman from nightmares, one of them says that shaman healing is a fine art and that you can't just use Chain Heal all day, and another says that he dreamt he was trapped inside a fiery cave dropping totems, healing ungrateful warriors, and never seeing a single piece of shaman gear.
Master Cheng (the Pandaren one) at the Peaks of Serenity will say, "Yes, I'm a monk, but I always wanted to be a demon hunter." a subtle jab at the fans who have and continue to demand the demon hunter class, and particularly the ones angry monks were chosen over DH for the second new class.
Sequel Hook: Plenty of these are created with each expansion. One of the more recent and mysterious ones revolves around the Lich King's sword, Frostmourne. Though it was shattered when the Lich King was defeated, its final fate was rather unclear. Blizzard later had this to say:
Q: What happened to Frostmourne after it was shattered?
A: While this is a closely guarded secret, we'll trust you to be discreet: no one knows where the remnants of Frostmourne are now.
Ragnaros (at least in Molten Core) and Kil'jaeden aren't killed, merely banished.
And guess which fire lord Deathwing decides to resurrect in Cataclysm. (Hint: it's not Kil'jaeden.)
They've been building up Deathwing as a future Big Bad since classic.
The Infinite Dragonflight were introduced in Burning Crusade, but while you faced several infinite dragonkin and an infite dragon over that expansion and Wrath, you never realized who their leader was. In Cataclysm, it turned out to be Nozdormu's future self, and he was fought at the end of the End Time instance.
After defeating Kel'Thuzad in Classic WoW, players were tricked into giving his phylactery to someone implied (and later confirmed) to be allied with the Scourge. When Kel'Thuzad returned in Wrath of the Lich King and was defeated for the second time, his phylactery was nowhere to be found.
The Burning Legion is still out there on their crusade to unmake the universe, and Kil'jaedin isn't killed in the Sunwell Plateau raid, merely banished.
Harbinger Skyriss, a boss in the Arcatraz in Burning Crusade, makes a few ominous comments during his fight, saying that he bears "allegiance to powers untouched by time, unmoved by fate", that rival the Burning Legion in strength. Who could they be?
Especially strong, now that Blizzard mentioned that while the five Old Gods are the only ones trapped in Azeroth, they are not the only Old Gods in existence. Yep...
There are a lot of powerful artifacts and important people that have mysteriously gone missing over the years...
Queen Azshara appears in Cataclysm, but isn't a fightable boss or a major villain in that expansion, apart from her past self in Well of Eternity.
Serpent of Immortality: Monks that specialize in healing their allies have a heavy serpent motif — they fight in a specialized Serpent Stance, lay down Serpent Statues that duplicate healing, etc.
Set Bonus: Some armor sets award bonuses once wearers have a certain number of pieces equipped, usually at 2 and 4 of a 5 piece tier set.
Shaggy Dog Story: The quest to get a baby raptor you befriended out of Zul'Gurub. You get to control her and the adult raptors will tell you how to do things, and some parts of it are genuinely challenging. At the end? The Zul'Gurub boss shows up at the exit and captures you personally, ending the quest. The quest giver then tells you that you'll have to go into the dungeon and rescue her personally when you're stronger. Joke's on you, sucker — there is no Zul'Gurub dungeon any more!
Zul'Gurub is accessible again, which makes this foreshadowing of a most ominous sort. When the quest was first available, this was the only hint that the Gurubashi Trolls might be returning, and back they are — with a vengeance.
Shapeshifter Showdown: These can and will happen between druids of the opposing factions in PvP, and they can go on for a long time.
Shared Life Meter: Some bosses have this, typically with the added mechanic that only one of them is either more vulnerable than the rest or the only one vulnerable. Examples include:
The Blood Prince Council in Wrath of the Lich King's Icecrown Citadel.
Mogu'shan Vaults in Mists of Pandaria has two examples of this in its first and last bosses:
The Stone Guard at the beginning will occasionally become invulnerable, requiring players to change targets.
The two main bosses of the Will of the Emperor encounter are both vulnerable to damage throughout the fight. But the encounter throws so much cannon fodder at you it's only possible to really focus on them at a few particular points.
The Trial of the Yaungol in the Mists dungeon Temple of the Jade Serpent. Both start out vulnerable, but as they take more damage they eventually develop into a buff that makes them temporarily invulnerable, requiring the party to alternate targets.
Ship Sinking: Thrall and Jaina have been increasingly sunk as the storyline progresses, but the nail in the coffin comes with the quests surrounding the Firelands raid, in which Thrall and Aggra become life-mates, with Jaina present at the ceremony.
Ship Tease: "Thrall and Jaina sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G".
Among the Conclave of Wind, Siamat tends to specialize in electric attacks.
Shock Collar: Thok the Bloodthirsty has one, as part of the orcish beastmasters' attempts to tame him as a beast of war. Oddly enough, it ends up causing damage to the players in the encounter.
Shoe Slap: Are you an Overseer, or someone magically disguised as an Overseer to infiltrate the organization? Do you have peons who refuse to work, sleep on the job, or are just being more clueless than normal? Then you need the Booterang! A tough boot that flies through the air, smacks worthless peons in the head, and returns to sender; and you can stay mounted while using it so you can fly through the air meting out discipline as needed, or more than needed.
Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: For Alliance players going to meet Vol'jin during Escalation, Zen'tabra tells you to keep your hands where they can see them; an Alliance soldier in Durotar is suspicious enough, but everyone is really jumpy with the civil war and Vol'jin was almost assassinated, so any odd move could be misinterpreted as hostile. This comes after some Darkspear guards trap you when you get too close and Zen'tabra has to tell them to back down.
Shoot the Medic First: A basic tactic in both PvE and PvP combat. In PvP, healers are a primary target. In PvE, if a group of mobs has a healer, you'd better take it out or use crowd control on it first or your fight will be very long, if not impossible. This is hilariously lampshaded by one of the villains.
Lord Victor Nefarius: "Foolsss...Kill the one in the dress!"
This one is particurlarly amusing if you remember that due to itemization in those days, you had a lot of healing paladins wearing cloth robes.
A possible reference to this idea is in one achievement, in which you must go through the gauntlet of enemies before Echo of Tyrande in End Time without your healer taking damage. Interestingly enough, it's possible to achieve this through Loophole Abuse by having your healer change into a non-healing spec (e.g. a Holy or Discipline Priest changes to Shadow).
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The extensively long Myzrael questline is this if one thing happens: If you try to solo her before you're ready and die, you have no way to fight her again, because the item to summon her disappears after she's summoned and you specifically have no way to remake it. You would need to run it with somebody who hasn't already run it. At least, until they fixed the quest.
Signature Move: Each of the 10 classes has at least three "specializations" or specs. When you select a spec, the moves that are unique to that spec (or at least the ones you're gonna use most often) are listed. These can be considered that spec's Signature Moves.
Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer: There are weekly fishing tournaments, holidays, dailies, the monthly Darkmoon Faire, Archaeology, Pet Battles, farming, rare mob hunting...
Signed Up for the Dental: Tony Two-Tusk might offer the player a job on his pirate crew—it's just chatter, players cannot accept—pointing out his benefits package, which includes a dental plan.
Silly Reason for War: Or at least a silly reason for a murdering spree; one dwarf in the Explorer's League asks players to kill a bunch of Dark Iron Dwarves, not because they're stealing valuable artifacts, or plotting to take over the Badlands, but because he's thirsty and they have beer.
There's an even worse one than that in Searing Gorge, where a Dwarf sends you to kill several Dark Irons because....he's stuck in an outhouse with no toilet paper and wants you to rip off some shreds of their clothing so he can improvise...
In a Mists of Pandaria daily, a Pandaren sends you to kill a wolf named Cracklemaw in order to free up that name.
Sink the Lifeboats: Both the Horde and Alliance have done this. In both cases it's arguable they were doing it over fears their opponents (each other) were still a threat and needed to be finished off, there's also evidence that both were fueled purely by Revenge.
In the 2nd Goblin starting zone, players rescue Thrall from an SI:7 ship, and he calls down the elements to defeat his captors, who are in the water or in lifeboats.
In the Alliance intro quests to Pandaria, the destruction of a Horde base leaves several survivors in the water trying to reach shore. Admiral Rogers orders them killed.
Skeleton Key: Subverted; the key to open the Scholomance door is called the Skeleton Key and has a skull-shaped bow, but otherwise is apparently just a normal key that opens one particular door.
Skeletons in the Coat Closet: A recurring theme throughout Wrath of the Lich King. Look no further than the Wrath loading screen for a perfect example.
Played straight in a Forsaken quest in Silverpine, where you and an undead spy hide in a closet to find out the Worgen's plans.
Sliding Scale of Unavoidable vs. Unforgivable: The Huojin and Tushui philosophies the Pandaren follow are on opposite sides of the scale; Huojin followers believe that the ends can justify the means, while Tushui followers reject victory through immoral actions. This also provides the distinction that leads some Pandaren to joining the Horde or Alliance, as they believe the Horde and Alliance exemplify the Huojin and Tushui philosophies respectively.
This is even shown by the actions of the leaders of both philosophies at the end of the Pandaren starting zone storyline. The Huojin leader Ji Firepaw believes he did what he had to do, to remove the crashed airship from the giant turtle (with explosives) so that healers can patch up the wound. Meanwhile the Tushui leader Aysa Cloudsinger found that action to be totally unforgivable because it resulted in the turtle almost bleeding to death and that Ji should've looked for another way. While initially upset, Ji later criticized Aysa that her inaction would've eventually led to the turtle's death anyway. Needless to say, this event ended the peaceful co-existence of both philosophies.
Their teacher, Master Shang Xi calls them both out on this. When he tasks players with finding the elemental spirits, he says it will be up to the players to do it, as they have a balance that the single-minded Aysa and Ji lack. Unfortunately, his death precedes the aforementioned crisis, leaving no one to moderate the two. And so Aysa and Ji along with their followers end up on the opposite sides of the barricades thanks (as usual) to the fact that Poor Communication Kills.
Slippy-Slidey Ice World: A part of the Slave Pens dungeon becomes this during the seasonal boss fight with Ahune (of melting ice stone infamy). Many zones feature ice and snow motifs, but these do not hinder movement in any way.
The Social Darwinist: The Mantid. Their periodic swarm is not meant to invade or conquer, but to send out their young to test themselves in battle, against whomever is there; Mogu, Pandaren, Alliance, Horde, doesn't matter as long as they're tough enough to fight back. The overwhelming majority die, but the ones who survive and return to the Dread Wastes are the toughest of the lot, ensuring that the future generations of Mantid will be stronger than ever.
Commander Vo'Jak: (after you kill the adds before him) Those who failed deserved to die! You have merely culled the weak!
Many "rescue" quests involve rescuing a specific number of NPC's who are in cages, chained up, etc. Once that number is reached, the rest of the prisoners are usually ignored, despite their pleas for help. Sometimes enforced by the game engine, which will stop allowing you to interact with the locks or chains that are restraining the NPC's, enemies stop dropping keys, etc. One Northrend daily quest justifies this, as after you rescue some prisoners who are mining Saronite (who either run to freedom or are completely insane), the questgiver tells you to stay away for the rest of the day, not wanting you to end up like them.
Players often accept quests that they end up becoming bored with, and abandon them. Or the player levels beyond the point that the quest will give them any real experience reward. From an in-universe perspective, the potential savior has abandoned the damsel in distress just before getting to the dragon. This Flintlocke comic perfectly sums up what players must often seem like to the NPC's.
Solo-Character Run: Acknowledging that high level characters can curb stomp old content, Blizzard has tweaked the old raids to allow this. These tweaks are not Nerfs, they merely remove restrictions which require more than one person.
Solo Class: Several classes have gained and lost this designation due to Blizzard's constant rebalancing, though Hunters, Paladins and Death Knights have been especially persistent examples in players' eyes. Some classes, particularly purely DPS classes, have specs that are better suited to leveling, and others that are better suited for group and raid play. The discovery that any class can solo group content at its original recommended level is usually followed by calls for a Nerf.
The leveling up process, combined with the need for enemies to challenge higher level players, often results in such ridiculous juxtapositions as a Northrend bear cub being fifty-plus levels higher than the leader of the Defias Brotherhood (although the latter is far less of a challenge to a player of the appropriate level), or the minor bosses of Naxxramas being far stronger than the Lord of Elemental Fire's original Molten Core incarnation. Onyxia, a challenge for forty level 60 players when she first appeared, was soloed by level 70+ players before she was revamped and buffed to match current levels.
An interesting subversion with the Cataclysm expansion, as the infamous Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep instances are getting level 85 heroic versions, and Ragnaros is coming back as a 85 raid boss. Blizzard themselves have stated that a boss' level is a gameplay mechanic, and shouldn't be the sole measure of their strength in the greater scheme of the lore. However, the algorithm has also been specifically invoked with respect to the relative strength of Arthas and Deathwing. Essentially: "Arthas is Bad Ass, sure. But Deathwing is more powerful than all the other dragonflights combined. He deliberately bided his time until he was sure nothing in Azeroth could withstand him."
Sorting Algorithm Of Threatening Geography: The game plays with this with each expansion. Classic WoW generally plays this straight: Virtually all the starting zones are very friendly looking, whilst the high level plaguelands most certainly aren't.
The Burning Crusade plays with this. The demon-infested Hellfire Peninsula fits this trope as it continues on from the classic zones, however after that are the pleasant looking zones of Zangarmarsh, Nagrand and Terrokar Forest. However the highest level zones, Shadowmoon Valley and Netherstorm fit this trope to a T.
Wrath of the Lich King plays this completely straight, going from harshly beautiful fjords and tundra, to the zombified Icecrown Glacier.
Cataclysm averts it. The high level zones are all very esoteric and threatening, except for the highest level zone Twilight Highlands, which is mostly verdant hills and woodland.
Back to being played straight with Mists, you start in the verdant and beautiful jade Forest, move to the verdant field of the Valley of the Four Winds or the dark but full of life Krasarang Wilds, then you move to the very brown Kun-Lai Summit, to the rather dim Townlong Steppes, before ending up at the nigh-eternally dark, incredibly hostile, and sha-infested Dread Wastes.
Soul Jar: As the Lich King is a lich, Ner'Zhul/Arthas has one; part of becoming a lich is extracting your soul and putting it somewhere safe. In this case, it's the sword Frostmourne, which is what you're trying to destroy when you run through Icecrown Citadel. The problem is if you touch it unguarded, your soul is extracted/tortured/eaten by the blade, and your body becomes the Lich King's undead thrall.
So What Do We Do Now?: Maiev Shadowsong was Illidan Stormrage's jailer for millennia, and hunted him down when he escaped; when she finally kills him in the Black Temple raid, he points out that she is nothing without him.
Space Compression: Obviously this had to happen. As a result, the game only loads when entering and exiting instances, switching from one landmass to the next, and content from one expansion to the next (such as going from the Blood Elf and Draenei starting areas)
Players with way too much time on their hands have estimated that, if a player's standard running speed is roughly equivalent to a Real Life human's average running speed, and then using that as a baseline measurement, the main land masses of Azeroth are roughly 40 miles long (from North to South).
The Elemental Invasion has the player join the Twilight's Hammer cultists in Stormwind/Orgrimmar, work their way up to being entrusted with finishing the summoning rituals in Orgrimmar, and then... interrupt the summoning processes by saying the wrong words for the ritual.
This happens again when you infiltrate the Twilight's Hammer on Mt. Hyjal. Instead of a summoning ritual, you give a graduation speech to initiate cult members, whom you incite to riot.
While you quest in Zul'Drak, you'll loot an amulet that you take back to the Ebon Blade for examination because something doesn't seem right about it. It turns out that it was enchanted to compel the finder to put it on, (which, through a combination of luck and Genre Savvy, you did not), and that it would have turned you into a mindless ghoul. What's more, Drakuru, who'd played you for an Unwitting Pawn in Grizzly Hills, is behind it. The amulet is then modified to disguise you as a ghoul, and you proceed to infiltrate Drakuru's operation, sabotaging it from the inside repeatedly. This culminates in Drakuru's death at the Lich King's hand.
The sheer number of times Garrosh Hellscream has averted peace and understanding due to his own lack of tact and violent tendencies rivals Kaiser Wilhelm's.
The Spartan Way: Many Death Knight Initiates are found wanting, and do not live long enough to become real Death Knights. Those who do reach Death Knight status are not only allowed, but actively encouraged to fight each other and see who is stronger.
Spoiled by the Format: The names of quest rewards (which are visible as soon as you accept the quest) often give away what happens during the quest. If one of the quests involves a battle and one of the rewards is called "Cowl of the Grieving Friend," you can probably guess it doesn't turn out well for you.
Spooky Painting: In the second-last boss room in Scholomance, there are several paintings on the wall that have eyes that follow you (as in the players, not the player characters). This is completely expected for a Haunted Castle that is a necromancy school, except some of the paintings are bright and colorful, which makes it really easy to see the eyes looking right at you, and stands in stark contrast to Scholomance, one of the darkest, gloomiest locations in the whole game.
The statue busts in the previous boss room also turn to look at you.
Square Race, Round Class: Grimnur Stonebrand, the Ironforge fishing trainer. When he gives you a quest to seek out Nat Pagle, he points out the absurdity of a dwarf, who are traditionally miners and blacksmiths, are built like stone, and live in a cavernous city with lava pools, being a fisherman.
Tauren Rogues exist. Yes, Tauren (Males of which average 7 1/2 feet in height and 400lbs in weight) Rogues.
"Have you ever seen a Tauren stalk a python? Of course you haven't, that's cause they're adept at blending in with their surroundings." - Tauren male joke
There is now another way to simulate Tauren Rogues. As well as ogre and ettin Rogues.
While Tauren Rogues are still on the table, most ridiculously large Humanoids were re-classified as "Giants" before that glyph left beta, to prevent them from being copied -for obvious reasons.
Mishka, a draenei, is The Medic for SI:7, an Alliance organization of rogues and assassins, raising the question of whether she is also a rogue.
Stable Time Loop: The "Mysteries of the Infinite" and "Mysteries of the Infinite, Redux" quests involve this. The Caverns of Time instances have the Infinite Dragonflight trying to destabilize various time loops, so of course you have to stop them.
As well as his newer, Cloud Serpent counterpart - Elegon. With the bonus effect of each person in the raid turning into one as well while they're on the central platform.
Stationary Boss: Several, most of whom have a mechanic that deals extreme damage when their target is not in melee range:
Kil'jaeden in the Sunwell.
Kologarn in Ulduar.
Sinestra in Heroic Bastion of Twilight.
Ragnaros is fought three times, and is stationary in all three, except Heroic Firelands where he sprouts legs for the last phase of the fight.
Both Ultraxion (halfway through) and the Madness of Deathwing (at the end) in Dragon Soul. The former is hovering in mid-air off the edge of the Wyrmrest summit, while the latter is suspended above the Maelstrom by his tentacles and in the second phase, falls between Ysera and Nozdormu's platforms.
Wise Mari in the Temple of the Jade Serpent.
The Sha of Anger in the Kun-Lai Summit.
Elegon in Mogu'shan Vaults.
Megaera's heads and Durumu in Throne of Thunder.
Immerseus, the Amalgam of Corruption (the main enemy in Norushen's trial), the Sha of Pride, and the Iron Juggernaut in Siege Mode in Siege of Orgrimmar.
Hexos in the Brawler's Guild inverts this; he forces the player to remain stationary in the middle, and you have to turn him so that he doesn't collide with any of the pink walls that collapse on your location.
Status Quo Is God: Played straight for the first few years while each expansion starts to subvert it little by little. Cataclysm, however supposedly takes this trope and delivers it a swift kick in the crotch with a steel-toe boot.
I knew it! Looks like Yowler is behind this uprising - which is incredible, because we keep killing gnolls named Yowler. I don't know how many sons the original Yowler had, but it's got to be close to a hundred. Well, looks like we got ourselves another Yowler to kill.
Similarly, Fungalmancer Glop apparently had a son before his untimely death. He named his son Glop. Said son also had a son, named Glop. Who had a son, named- well, it should be obvious.
The "phasing" technology introduced in Wrath and utilized heavily in Cataclysm averts this, in certain areas and for individual characters. If a given portion of the game use this technology, then changes made to that portion of the game are, for the character in question, persistent.
Although the Firelands dailies subvert that as well. Once you have everything unlocked (which is done with persistent phasing effects as above) you get a choice between two portions of the dailies, which have temporary phasing effects.
Staying Alive: Muradin, Baelgun, Magtheridon, Mal'Ganis and Balnazzar were given on-screen "deaths" and still came back. Justified in the case of dreadlords like Mal'Ganis, who are repeatedly hinted to be immortal, or at least able to come back from the dead.
Justified in Muradin's case, too; we only saw him getting hit on the head with a blunt piece of ice (which could just as easily cause a concussion as death), only Arthas said that Muradin was dead, and Arthas had already proven himself to be an Unreliable Narrator.
Additionally, in the novel, Arthas, the titular character would've just healed Muradin if he wasn't tempted by the sword that was trapped in the ice. So he was still alive after being hit, he was just ditched afterwards. Probably a retcon to match with his survival though.
Stealth Pun: On the frost talent tree for Death Knights there's a talent that makes your mount move faster. The talent's name is, of course, On a Pale Horse.
An additional example comes from the goblin starting areas, where a quest sends you in search of "Intact Naga Hides." If you don't get it off the bat, say "naga hides" quickly.
There is a glyph of Righteous Retreat for Paladins that allows them to teleport away with their hearthstone faster while their divine shield is active, making fun of this tactic being used by players to escape certain death despite it being very cowardly for a Paladin.
The infamous Stitches questline is tied to an NPC called Abercrombie the Embalmer, giving you a pairing very close to Abercrombie and Stitch.
Steampunk: The engineering profession is essentially this, and it inspires most of the gnomish, dwarven and goblin technology.
Steel Ear Drums: Mishka, a Draenei SI:7 agent in Pandaria is a rare aversion of this. In the beta, her plane was shot down by the Horde and the explosion damaged her hearing, though it comes back later. In the live version, the quest line was changed and no mention of the explosion is made, but some of her spoken lines imply that she does suffer some hearing loss.
Sticks to the Back: Every two-handed melee weapon (and a few one-handed ones) do this. Most one-handed weapons are on your hips. Ranged weapons are visible on the character's back in Mists of Pandaria.
Stock Sound Effects: Not quite Doom Doors, but when you hit a deer mob, they make noises that any Doom player will recognize as the cries of human enemies and imps from that game.
Stop Being Stereotypical: The new (playable) Horde's view of the Old Horde. The fan's view of Garrosh Hellscream can also be summed up as this.
An NPC in Swamp of Sorrows yells at her succubus for this reason.
"Oh would you please stop checking your nails and spanking yourself for one moment? Really, no one cares!"
Stripperific: Alexstrasza◊ is the leader of the Red Dragonflight, who are responsible for maintaining all life on Azeroth. Her outfit makes sense in a certain way, if you know what I mean.
Ysera's humanoid form shares the same model with Alexstrasza, being the Aspect of Nature, the costume makes sense in a different way.
Sylvanas has a very similar outfit, but she has no excuse.
Stout Strength: Dwarves, despite being quite short and possessing a noticeable gut, are probably the strongest race relative to their size. Ogres are classically The Big Guy of the Horde for a reason, able to fight evenly with an armored, mounted human knight (they even have six-pack abs on top of their huge belly). Pandaren, especially the males, are perhaps the greatest example with no visible muscle definition to speak of, but having overthrown an empire with little more than their bare hands.
Strange Pond Woman: While several quest givers can be said to fill this trope, two are especially noteworthy:
Lampshaded, deconstructed and played with with the Argent Tournament. There is now an actual sword-distributing strange woman in EVERY lake of the northern continent.
Another noteworthy WoW example is the wise old ogre who crowns the character king or Queen of Ogri'La. Since the quest is a group quest and was quite popular back in its days, it rarely took long until a new batch of five new kings & queens was publicly announced by the same old ogre.
A third example from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion is the Battered Hilt quest chain, which leads to an actual sword as a reward and your name being announced across Dalaran. (If the player's class can't use a sword, it is conveniently traded in for an equivalent usable item.)
Burning Crusade: Illidan, Kael'thas, Zul'jin are transformed from complex characters into generic villains with no sympathetic qualities or motivations.
Wrath of the Lich King: Malygos decides to kill all magic users.
Cataclysm: The Zandalar go from Neutral scholars and history keepers of the troll race into The Empire, although it's indicated that they're Fighting for a Homeland.
Mists Of Pandaria: Garrosh becomes a generic villain likely as a result of his extreme unpopularity with the fanbase. Also the war against the Zandalar starts going into a Guilt-Free Extermination War territory.
Garrosh's change is lampshaded in Tides Of War, in which some observers on the Horde side notice how much Garrosh has changed since he summarily executed Overlord Krom'Gar for his war crimes in Cataclysm, and this is before he blows up Theramore. Christine Golden says Garrosh lacks "a strong core," and is easily influenced by people and situations, causing him to develop negatively when he surrounds himself with "bad and dangerous" advisors.
Suicide Mission: Thassarian, one of the Knights of the Ebon Blade, gets sent on one because the Alliance is unwilling to accept him as a Death Knight.
In Mt. Hyjal, players rescue Kristoff Manheim from Ogres; his superior thought it was a suicide mission and jokes that if he survived, then he failed.
Wrathion thinks that there is virtually no chance that the rogue on the legendary quest chain will return from killing Deathwing.
Summon Magic: Primarily Warlocks, who can summon a demon (out of several) to aid them in battle. Mages who specialize in Frost magic can also summon a permanent Water Elemental. Death Knights of the Unholy specialization can also summon a permanent ghoul. Several other classes can summon magical helpers but only for a short time.
Hunter pets must be found in the wild and tamed, but once the hunter has tamed a beast it is added to a roster of active pets they can select at will and summon. Where such hunter abilities lie on the game/story spectrum, however, is not fully explained.
Mounts and vanity pets follow this too: you can have over a hundred of each, but you never have more than one of each around at any given time. Where the rest go, and how they get back to you when you call them, is never really explained.
Supernormal Bindings: A quest line investigating Defias activity in Dustwallow Marsh yielded enchanted shackles from the wreckage of a ship, which indicated it had been transporting the king of Stormwind.
Supporting Protagonist: Both subverted and played straight, depending on the quest. While you've definitely done your fair share of heroics, most of the major story arcs will have another character who takes part in the story, and if the event is referenced again later in the game, will inevitably get all the credit. The most obvious example is Tirion Fordring in Wrath of the Lich King.
Then again, in Tides Of War, Thrall implies that the players helped out against Deathwing.
Thrall: It was all of us, working together- dragons and brave representatives of every race of this world. The credit for slaying the great monster goes to many.
Surplus Damage Bonus: Several healing classes have a feature where overhealing reduces damage taken by the healing target.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: While questing as an Alliance character in Twilight Highlands, one quest has an NPC instruct you to go into a hut in the ruins of his village, which has been razed and captured by the enemy, in search of ale. Inside the hut is a sign that says "Ale downstairs. Do not touch. Sincerely, not the bad guys." Definitely not a trap.
Symbol Swearing: How the chat filters work, though you can disable this if you choose to. NPCs avert this, as their swearing isn't censored.
Take a Number: The first encounter with Nexus-Prince Haramad has him telling you that "If you are here to kill me, please take a number and wait for your turn."
In "Heart of War", Garrosh, while pondering the Horde's problems, finds it unbelievable that the trolls would be unable to retake the Echo Isles from Zalazane, a witch doctor with a single-digit level, in a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation mixed with Actually a Doombot.
And the trolls. Garrosh could barely stand to think of it. Recruit after recruit had been sent to aid them in reclaiming their land to the south, and somehow all attempts had still failed. Apparently this had been going on for years. What kind of people could not even take down a single witch doctor? Was it really going to take a full-scale invasion—yet more diversion of Horde troops—to reclaim a few measly islandsnote This ends up happening; the Horde had a pre-Cataclysm event dedicated to invading the Echo Isles.?
The Sha of Pride from the new Siege of Orgrimmar raid has more than a few lines that could be seen as one to the "Elitist" crowd.
Take Your Time: Though some timed quests do exist, most will let you take as long as you need. With regards to dungeons, no matter what manner of world-threatening evil lurks beneath the surface, it will remain in exactly the same state whether you decide to tackle it at level 45 or at level 90. This trope is also lampshaded during a Mount Hyjal quest with a NPC that has been captured and left dangling from the ceiling.
Kristoff Manheim: Well? Are you going to help me down?
Player: <Um, no. Would you mind hanging out a little longer? I have some stuff I need to take care of first.>
Kristoff Manheim: You... WHAT? Come over here and say that! <Kristoff kicks and flails his limbs in a frothing rage, his head twisting around to glare at you.> So help me, I will - I am going to - I will knock your brains out! I will fill the empty cavity left behind with my boot! Come here! GET BACK HERE!
Taken for Granite: In Cataclysm, Magni Bronzebeard performs a ritual in Old Ironforge to protect the city against the titular event and uses himself as a sacrifice, which turns him to stone. As his heir and grandson, Fenran Dagran Thaurissan II, is currently only a toddler, the rule of Ironforge is now being taken up by Muradin Bronzebeard, Magni's brother, Falstad Wildhammer, the high thane of the Wildhammer clan, and Moira Thaurissan, Magni's daughter.
In the Stone Guard encounter, as well as in some of the trash pulls before and after the encounter, if your debuff stacks too high, you will be turned to jade and rendered unable to move or act.
In Mists of Pandaria, the jade statues in the Jade Witch's garden look incredibly realistic...
Taking You with Me: Blackwing Lair's first boss, Razorgore the Untamed, has a mechanic where if he is slain before a player can force him to destroy all of the black dragon eggs in the chamber, the remaining eggs will explode resulting in a wipe and he'll respawn. There's no way to circumvent this if it happens regardless of level, current health, or defensive abilities active.
Talking Is a Free Action: Nothing will stop a boss from talking, and in some cases, they cannot be attacked while talking. Keristraza can rant at you while using her breath weapon. Half-averted for the players — you have to, y'know, type to talk (unless you are using Ventrilo or another voice chat program, as is common for raids), meaning you're not firing off your abilities — but you can make a simple macro beforehand...
Taunt Button: You can use /rude on other players and NPCs as you see fit. The actual taunt, however, is a vital tool for tanks, enabling them to distract monsters from more vulnerable teammates, including tanks who have received a damaging or defense-lowering debuff from the boss.
Taxidermy Terror: There is a boss fight with one of these. It begins with two of four (on heroic difficulty, all four) random trophy monsters unfreezing, attacking you. Then Gortok Palehoof unfreezes from the other side of the room and charges your group, starting the actual boss fight.
The human kingdom Gilneas used to be this. After doing the minimum possible in the war against the orcs in Warcraft II, they claimed they didn't have to be bothered by "other people's wars", left the Alliance and cut all contacts with other kingdoms, walling themselves and doing nothing to help during the Zombie Apocalypse in Warcraft III. In World of Warcraft they still seem to be this trope at first, as they still don't support the Alliance nor the Horde, but it is revealed that the refusal to help the Alliance triggered a civil war, trying to defend themselves against the Zombie Apocalypse led to an invasion of werewolves, and their status as a neutral faction caused them to be attacked by the Horde as a way to egt to the Alliance indirectly (think Belgium in WWII). They end up rejoining the Alliance because some night elves happened to be there for a completely different reason, and only after much arguments.
Neutral faction like the Argent crusade, Cenarion Circle or Dalaran (another human kingdom gone neutral) were created by members of both Horde and Alliance who believed that they should put aside their differences and petty feuds to focus on the global Omnicidal Maniac threats. But when these threats are no more and the only conflict in the region is Alliance vs Horde, they can come up as this trope (especially the Argent Crusade and its refusal to act against the increasingly more dangerous Forsaken).
Tell Me About My Father: Arator the Redeemer (with Danath Trollbane) in Honor Hold. Garrosh Hellscream (with Thrall) in Garadar. Thrall also applies, with Drek'thar, Orgrim Doomhammer and Grom Hellscream before the events of the game, and with Greatmother Geyah in Garadar.
Tempting Fate: A Goblinrocket called the "Uncrashable", not surprising that it looks like it's on the verge of exploding, but the real shocker is that occasionally it lives up to its name, and reaches its destination safely.
Thank the Maker: Grizzle Gearslip, who ran the Goblin excavation that finds the Heart of Y'Shaarj, apparently prays to science instead of any deity.
Grizzle Gearslip: Thank the laws of physics you're here!
That Thing is Not My Child!: This is Alexstrazsa's response after finding out Deathwing has corrupted a large number of young red dragons into "mindless abominations" (and is using them to attack her and the players):
Alexstrazsa: They are...my clutch no longer. Bring them down.
Red dragons: names end with -strasz (males) or -strasza (females).
Blue dragons: names end with -gos (males) or -gosa (female); also Colourful Theme Naming with blue (Azuregos, Cyanigosa, Colbatann...) or sometimes a reference to magic (Manaclaw, Arcanagos, Spellmaw).
Green dragons: references to dreams (Somnus, Weaver, Morphaz, several begining with Dream- ), and some Colourful Theme Naming (Jade, Emeriss...).
Their evil counterpart, the Infinite Dragonflight, also have Temporal Theme Naming (Temporus, Aeonus, Epoch Hunter, Chrono Lord Deja)
Black dragons: Colourful Theme Naming with black (Rivendark, Blackscale, Sabellion/Sablemane...) and/or Rock Theme Naming (Ebonroc, Obsidia, Onyxia...), or reference to something bad (Nefarian, Smolderwing, Insidion, Nihil, Sinestra...oh yeah and DEATHWING), or something related to fire/heat (Flamegor, Searinox, Emberstrife, Firemaw, Singe ...), or ending in -ithria/-ia for females and -ithrian/-ian/-ion for males.
Nether dragons: names usually (not always) ends with -aku or -us, otherwise it is because someone already give them their names.
Twilight dragons, who use -ion for males and -iona for females.
Most elementals are named after something related to their respective elements.
Lordaeron soldiers name their beloved steeds after favorable qualities (Steadfast, Courage, Invincible).
Theme Song: "Power of the Horde" for (Horde) shamans, "Rogues Do It From Behind" is obviously for rogues. "I am Murloc" for...Murlocs. Both of these were done by TenthLevel607080 Elite Tauren Chieftain.
Nightfall for Death Knights.
Ten Thousand Years: Illidan Stormrage, the Big Bad of the Burning Crusade expansion, was imprisoned for ten thousand years in a lightless prison for his betrayal. He tells us this himself during the cinematic:
Thieves' Cant: Gutterspeak, the Forsaken race language, was originally the thieves' cant of Lordaeron before the kingdom fell to the Scourge. When the Forsaken regained their free will, reclaimed Lordaeron, and established the Undercity in the catacombs of the old capital, they designated Gutterspeak as their official language. As the Forsaken had been outcast, and, well, forsaken by their old allies, friends, and relatives, Gutterspeak, the language of the outcasts, seemed appropriate to them.
This Cannot Be!: Several bosses give some variation of this when they are defeated, or while the players are beating the stuffing out of them.
Nefarian in Blackwing Lair says this when he is killed: "This cannot be! I am the Master here! You mortals are nothing to my kind! DO YOU HEAR? NOTHING!"
When Tirion Fordring uses the Ashbringer to break Frostmourne, the Lich King declares it "impossible".
When Lei Shen enters phase three, he yells in disbelief how a bunch of mortals could bring him to 1/3 his health: "NO! You are UNWORTHY! I... AM... THE THUNDER KING!!"
As the third phase of the fight with Garrosh begins, he yells "I HAVE SEEN MOUNTAINS OF SKULLS AND RIVERS OF BLOOD. AND I WILL... HAVE... MY... WORLD!"
This Is Gonna Suck: In the worgen starting area, you have to throw barrels of gunpowder at HorridAbominations, leading to the amusing sight of a giant undead monster with its head stuck in a barrel; some of which give this one liner:
Horrid Abomination: Uh-oh... this gonna hurts me...
This Is My Side: Whenever the Horde and Alliance are forced to occupy the same space, without fighting each other (well, not massively fighting each other anyway...), they invariably divide the area into two separate camps.
At the Speedbarge, Goblins are on one half, Gnomes on the other.
On both ends of the Dark Portal, Alliance on one side, Horde on the other.
In Shattrath, the rival Aldor and Scryers have their own tiers. While the Aldor are draenei and the Scryers are blood elves, neither are affiliated with the Alliance or Horde, so there's nothing stopping a Horde Aldor, or an Alliance Scryer. However, draenei begin at Friendly with the Aldor and opposite with the Scryers, and the opposite is true for blood elves.
At the Wrathgate, the Alliance and Horde each had their own camps.
In Dalaran, each has their own section of the city where the other is not allowed to enter; any players who go where they're not allowed, are teleported out by the Kirin Tor, instead of attacked.
At the Argent Tournament, each had their own tent and training area.
At the Temple of Earth in Deepholm, a wing of the temple was reserved for each side. Interestingly enough, the Earthen Ring, a neutral group of shamans, has members from both the Alliance (dwarves, draenei) and the Horde (orcs, tauren, trolls and even goblins) who are able to get along and work together without difficulty.
This Loser Is You: Everything your 'Future You' says in the quest 'Mysteries of the Infinite' is a direct attack on the player. Never mind the fact that you're both wearing the same kind of equipment... and that the NPC comments on your "old gear." Of course, you can later get revenge of sorts 'when you get to repeat the quest at 80 and be the "Future You" for now "Past You." Past you also comments on how much better your gear has gotten.... despite visually wearing the same gear.
Especially if you go back in the future wearing equipment that your past self not only has not yet acquired, but cannot wear at his or her level.
In Xuen's Tournament of Strength, one of the opponents is a Wolf Pack Boss called "The P.U.G.", a trio of saurok fitting the Tank/Healer/DPS triangle. They are all incompetent, and constantly hurl insults at each other.
This Was His True Form: Druids revert to their caster form upon death, as do polymorphed players and mobs (notably, worgen stay in their worgen form, re-affirming that it's human form that's the shapeshift, and they're truly biologically worgen now).
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Lunk in the Searing Gorge is an Ogre who sought adventure, but was frustrated that a lot of quests involve killing things. He interrupts the player on two such quests to give an alternate non-lethal approach to completing the objective.
Throw The Mook At Them: Tortos, a giant turtle, uses a powerful breath attack every once in a while, which can only be interrupted by killing smaller turtles and then kicking their shells into the boss.
Cataclysm takes place several months after Deathwing has already torn Azeroth apart.
There is also one incorporated into the worgen starting zone. The first half shows the player getting infected and becoming a feral worgen; the second half takes place some weeks/months later, after the player is captured, and given an antidote to restore their human minds.
Title Drop: In Wrath of the Lich King you can quest for a faction of freed Death Knights, one of them does an in-dialog title drop, as seen here◊. There's another one in the name of a quest received in the Halls of Reflection dungeon.
Too Dumb to Live: Dumass. Rescuing him is an optional sidequest and, if you decide to help him, you get an Escort Mission where the predictable happens. Get him back to the quest giver, and you'll be berated for interfering with a fundamental law of nature: Survival of the Fittest.
Toilet Humour: The leader of the Hozen faction allied with the Horde is named "Kah-kah". There is at least one quest in each expansion that involves fecal matter.
Took a Level in Badass: After the Cataclysm, Mankrik quits moping about his missing wife and goes after the quilboars. As Blademaster!
Mankrik now also shows up in Mount Hyjal to assist players in killing lvl 85 elite mobs for part of a daily quest, along with several other NPCs who appear in lower-level zones.
Gamon used to be the Butt Monkey of Orgrimmar, slain by practically every Horde member over level 20 just for being there. Notanymore.
As of the latest Mists of Pandaria patch, with Garrosh's "true horde"'s actions, Gamon is surrounded and at a standoff with five Kor'kron elites. They just stand there while Gamon takes turns to look at each of them while holding his axe. Yes, five level 90 elites, who are supposed to be amongst Garrosh's highest level of warriors are too scared to take on this lone tauren. He's become that badass
In Siege of Orgrimmar itself, he's become a powerful NPC with millions of health, and while he doesn't do that much damage compared to the rest of the raid, he can hold his own relatively well. One of the only attacks that poses a significant danger of killing him is General Nazgrim's War Song, which does damage based on maximum health.
Baine Bloodhoof, current Chieftain of the tauren, gained levels at an even more alarming rate - prior to Cataclysm, he was a measly level 10. As of Cataclysm he's a level 88 elite, and a raid is required to take him down.
Shandris Feathermoon, a night elf warrior who was promoted to General of the Sentinels, was raised from level 62 to boss level and given upwards of 68 mil HP. Until a hotfix rendered it impossible, she was a popular target for players to kite to Orgrimmar for fun and mayhem, as many YouTube videos attest. Several show her taking out Garrosh Hellscream himself.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Fandral Staghelm (after the death of his son), Varian Wrynn (after his return to Stormwind and blaming the entire Horde for the actions of Varimathras and Putress' faction), Garrosh Hellscream (after believing that the Alliance is encroaching on the Horde and is a threat Thrall did not deal with appropriately) and Jaina Proudmoore (after Garrosh nuked Theramore she now takes the same view point as Varian and her father to the Horde).
Subverted with a Death Knight starting quest that gives you two red-hot metal rods and tells you to hit people with them. You can torture tens of people to death until they finally talk.
To Serve Man: As a Shout-Out, the name of a Vendor Trash item drop from pickpocketing midlevel mobs is "An Exotic Cookbook" with the very fitting flavor text, "How To Serve Man".
1. Get one or eight man
2. Hit man hard
3. Hit man more
4. Put man in fire
5. Eat man
Totally Eighteen: The spring festival Noble Garden includes an achievement where you are supposed to put bunny ears on one female character of each race, and it has to be a character that is at least level 18.
Tragic Monster: Deathbringer Saurfang, Keristrasza, and the entire Forsaken race, to name a few.
Training Montage: Players get a couple of these when they train with the old master in the Valley of the Four Winds, which culminate in a mini-game where the players break bricks.
Tranquil Fury: An ability inside the Arms talent tree for Warriors for the Cataclysm expansion seemed to be named for this - "Deadly Calm". It causes the warrior's abilities to temperorarily cost no rage while they continue to generate it. As a warrior who hits the maximum for rage will do extra damage while it would normally cost more rage, their calm will certainly prove to dangerous for their enemies.
Training Dummy: One actually is a trainer, for newbie goblin warriors.
Tribal Face Paint: Trolls have an option for different face paints, ranging from a few lines on their cheeks to covering the entire face.
Truce Zone: There are two kinds. The first are called Sanctuaries, where PVP combat is not allowed by the game mechanics. These are usually the neutral capital cities like Shattrath and Dalaran and include some areas like the Dark Portal. The other kind simply are filled with powerful guards who will kill anyone who attacks another player. They include the neutral Goblin cities, and Moonglade.
In Northrend, there are Blue Dragons at the Wyrmrest Temple (although some, such as Kalecgos, are opposed to Malygos), even though the Blue Dragonflight is warring with the other four flights right outside; even the Black Dragon representative points out how they are allowed there, despite their own schemes. Even when Wyrmrest Temple gets assaulted in the Dragon Soul raid, some of the dead Drakonid guardians are black dragons.
Zandalar is this for Trolls, despite the hostilities between the tribes, and every six years their leaders gather to discuss general Troll affairs. This is seen in one of the patch trailers, though they host it in Stranglethorn Vale, because (besides Zandalar not being in the game yet) the Zandalari might not be the force they they claim to be anymore.
The Temple of Earth in Cataclysm, which the Earthen Ring is using for its base of operations in Deepholm. Being neutral, the Earthen Ring will happily work with either the Alliance or the Horde in order to maintain the balance between the elements. Both factions have separate quarters in the Temple, with portals to Stormwind and Orgrimmar.
Mists of Pandaria has the Peak of Serenity, a training ground for monks.
Also from Mists of Pandaria, there's the Celestial Court on the Timeless Isle, guarded by peacekeepers from the August Celestials. On the rest of the isle, however, you're fair game if you're flagged for PVP, especially if you try to trespass on the opposing faction's camp on the shore.
Turbine Blender: Mor'norokk the Hateful is threatened with this if he doesn't reveal the Twilight's Hammer's plans in Deepholm. He gives up the information, but when he realizes that he said too much, he uses it to commit suicide.
After becoming as powerful as they did and enslaved almost every other race on Pandaria, they relegated almost every menial task to their slaves, eventually creating the saurok as enforcers so they don't even have to do the job of tending their own slaves. The saurok realized that they were living weapons and had no benefit in serving the Mogu, so they rebelled.
Then the Pandaren figured out that the Mogu had forgotten how to do all the menial stuff like building things and making food, and the slave labour made them far stronger than the Mogu had anticipated, so they (with the Hozen and Jinyu) rebelled. As powerful as the Mogu were, without the slave labour to prop them up, their empire folded.
The Grummles also betrayed the Mogu; though the exact motive is questionable. They were created to be a spy network for the Mogu, but they told the Mogu a series of Half Truths where they told the Mogu of the Pandaren, Hozen and Jinyu activities, but not that the seemingly benign actions were a plot to undermine the Mogu. Lorewalker Cho says this was deliberate; but whether they were part of the uprising, or were trying to keep the Mogu complacent so they would treat the Grummles well, they were clearly not working for the Mogu's best interest.
Turns Red: A few non-boss enemies enrage at low health (or when an ally falls), and many bosses power up as the fight goes on. A number of bosses also go "berserk" after a set time limit, promptly causing a Party Wipe. There are even a few occasions when the boss, after a certain amount of time, casts a spell that instantly wipes out the raid. It sometimes makes sense, such as Mimiron Hard Mode where you activate a self destruct mechanism.
Players can do it too with some buffs.
Turtle Island: Shen-zin Su, the Wandering Isle is the Pandaren starting zone.
The start of Zul'Aman has a gong which must be hit simultaneously by two people to open the door and start the instance; a subversion as one of the two is an NPC, Vol'Jin who just hits the gong every few seconds, and one player need to hit it in time with him.
The Spoils of Pandaria fight in Siege of Orgrimmar needs several different players to interact with it to start it up, originally it only needed one.
Tyrannosaurus rex: The Devilsaur mob. Originally confined to the Un'goro Crater zone, they are enormous (the largest standard mob in Vanilla, even), usually elite, very powerful, can have various fears and tough hides that reduce damage taken, and move with complete silence. One, King Mosh, was even a kind-of world boss who needed a group of max-level players to defeat. At least one new Devilsaur mob have been added in each expansion, and some are even instance and raid bosses. They were also one of the most popular beasts that Hunters wanted to tame, which came to fruition in Wrath of the Lich King and Beast Mastery's ability to tame "Exotic" beasts.
Überwald: Gilneas in Cataclysm is a dreary, menacing-looking city with constant rain. Which makes thematic sense, as its inhabitants are civilized Worgen.
Duskwood, Silverpine Forest and Tirisfal Glades are similar, minus the rain, and are inhabited by revenants.
Undeath Always Ends: Subverted to Hell and back with the Forsaken, who make it very clear that they're here to stay and that the world just has to deal with it. Some of them (like Sylvanas herself) are still trying to find a way to undo their curse, while the more fanatical ones seek to kill everyone else instead.
Unhand Them, Villain!: In Deepholm, a cultist is taken prisoner by a Dwarf on a gryphon, he demands to be released, until he looks down and realizes just how high off the ground they are.
Mor'norokk the Hateful: You! Let me go now! Wait... no! Don't let go!
The Unintelligible: The Leaper, a geist in the Shadow Vault talks in a series of muffled sounds. It turns out he can speak quite well but suffers from a phlegm problem.
Don't forget murlocs. (Unless you get the ability to speak a tribe's tongue.)
Units Not to Scale: Buildings and other interior environments are absurdly spacious compared to player models. Likely a part of both stylized looks and an attempt to prevent cramping and camera issues.
Also applies to actual creatures. While differences in size between, say, dragons are hardly surprising, even ordinary human or orc NPCs inexplicably are twice as large as players, if they happen to be a raid boss or the resident Big Good.
Unobtanium: Pretty much all the standard fantasy metals are accounted for, and new ones are introduced with each expansion. Probably the oddest addition was Cobalt, a metal with very important industrial uses... that also apparently trumps such exotic fare as Eternium, Arcanite and Khorium.
Unreliable Canon: * The background lore has grown quite complicated. Different races tend to tell conflicting stories about such details as their races origins or past history and Word of God says that they are suppose to be conflicting; every race has a biased/distorted view and so none one race's myths are completely accurate. Then there is the ambiguity of major plot events, such as rather a certain Naaru may have intentionally let itself be captured as a ploy to help blood elves find redemption. And all of this is before you count the numerous actual retcons.
Unsafe Haven: When the Golden Lotus retrieves the treasures of Lei Shen, they hide them in the same place the last one was found, and add a few guards. Considering it was the Mogu who hid them there in the first place, putting them together in a Mogu tomb was just asking for the Mogu to come by and take them.
Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: An epic mace named Unstoppable Force and an Epic shield named Immovable Object. When a Blizzard moderator was asked what would happen if they met, he postulated, "Chuck Norris dies." Parodied in later content with the poor quality items The Stoppable Force hammer and The Movable Object shield.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: It's reasonable that NPCs never think twice about people wearing spiky armour and wielding heavy weapons. It is a world of Warcraft after all. However, they never think twice about summoned demons, in spite of the Burning Legion and Scourge being one of the primary enemies of all life and the very existence of the world itself (the same for Death Knights and ghouls). It's been confirmed that this is just a game mechanic, but it's still odd. This is averted only in the Death Knight quest chain, in which the citizens of Stormwind or Orgrimmar will hurl vile epithets at new DKs until their respective faction leader declares them to be allies. Pandaren newcomers, in contrast, are simply subject to curiosity and disbelief by various NPCs (Of course, by then the capital cities had already had werewolves and minotaurs peacefully going about their lives for years...)
After the opposite faction invades a capital city, there are often bones and bodies around which no NPC bothers to pick up or clean up.
Unwilling Roboticisation: In the Borean Toundra, gnomes have been transformed into "mechagnomes" by Gearmaster Mechazod. Interestingly, since modern gnomes descend from mechagnomes, this is also a case of Devolution Device.
Unwitting Pawn: You. Between Abercrombie (Alliance only) in Duskwood, Myzrael in Arathi Highlands, Kalaran the Deceiver in Searing Gorge, Teron Gorefiend in Shadowmoon Valley, Drakuru in Grizzly Hills, and Loken in the Storm Peaks, there are plenty of examples of villains using the player to accomplish their evil goals. Since these quests are a part of zone progression, the Violation of Common Sense is enforced. It's worth noting that nearly all of these quest lines have you go back and defeat the guy afterwards, however.
Most of the Scarlet Crusade genuinely believes in their cause, wanting to expel the undead (Scourge and Forsaken) from Lordaeron, and hating non-humans. It turns out that Balnazzar is manipulating them in the guise of their leader for the Burning Legion's ends.
The Zandalari are implied to be this for the Mogu, who are using them in an attempt to take over Pandaria, despite the Zandalari's hopes to obtain a homeland. One Zandalari journal indicates suspicion of this.
Urban Legend of Zelda: Some of which were actually true; unfinished Ahn'Qiraj on the other side of the Scarab Wall when Silithus's map was much bigger and the map was cut off, it was possible to explore a beta version of this place called "The Crypt" in Deadwind Pass, Old Ironforge did exist, there was a way to get onto the gates of Ironforge... but there were all sorts of ways to obtain Ashbringer before it was possible to get into the game, and various rumors that went around, such as how Alliance would supposedly get worgen in The Burning Crusade and the Horde would get furbolgs.
"The Crypt" was opened in Patch 4.3 as part of the Fangs of the Father questline.
Useless Accessory: In an underwater area like Vashj'ir, a diving helmet and breathing apparatus would be a must, unless you're a shaman with a breathing buff, or receive a buff like the one you get in your first quest in the area. The "Great" Sambino adds a layer of stupid on top in that he deliberately didn't learn water breathing because he likes his custom made helmet instead, which bites him in the ass when his helmet gets a leak and you need to retrieve a replacement part and a fresh air supply for him.
The Great Sambino: If only those water breathing spells came with stylish helmets!
Use Your Head: When the Zandalari try to break into Mogu'shan Vaults, they employ large brutish trolls called skullchargers, who have helmets made of large skulls and try to ram the doors down by charging them. Naturally, they'll use the same tactic against players fighting them.
Vampiric Draining: The Blood Elves who drink your... magic to sate their mana addiction. The Darkfallen, corrupted elves in the service of the Lich King, take this further by actually consuming blood.
Vanishing Village: The Timeless Isle randomly disappears and reappears. This is not an in-game mechanic, it just explains how a mysterious island shows up in the middle of an expansion.
In Mists of Pandaria, creatures occasionally drop items that can be worth anywhere between a few to a few dozen gold, and have no purpose apart from being sold, but are significantly more valuable than most vendor trash, which is only worth much when sold in large amounts.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Due to the constantly updating nature of the game, there were probably never be an absolute end-all final dungeon. However, each expansion pack had their own version of this trope. Vanilla had Naxxramas, The Burning Crusade had Sunwell Plateau (although The Black Temple fits the trope better), Wrath of the Lich King had Icecrown Citadel and Cataclysm had Dragon Soul.
A Forsaken quest in the Sludge Fields lets you free human captives from their entrapment in the sludge. Never mind that they're going to get gassed and converted anyway.
In the Twilight Highlands, you have the option of finishing off injured Dragonmaw soldiers or helping them up. If you finish them off, you have to fight them, but if you help them, they run off and you still get credit for the quest.
In Mount Hyjal, you have the choice of letting Thisalee Crow kill a harpy or ordering her to spare the harpy. Neither choice has any impact, although Thisalee will comment that you're a better person than she is if you are merciful.
In one Tillers daily, you're hired to work as a debt collector and visit four NPCs to collect their debts. If they say they are unwilling or unable to pay, you can either choose to threaten them with violence, or make their payment for them, and the quest reward greatly exceeds what you would have to pay for all of them.
There's nothing more satisfying than a Battle Quest where you must mount an invincible flying dragon (or similar) to get about 200 kills. Often this mount has an obscenely powerful AoE attack. You must get those kills, but you can then remain on the mount and keep blasting the enemy army while they keep respawning for as long as you like.
Video Game Lives: Players can resurrect themselves whenever they die, but the Bloodlord Mandokir fight in Zul'Gurub is based on this. The arena where he fights has eight Troll Shaman spirits surrounding it, and whenever a player dies, one of them will sacrifice itself to raise the player to full health; Mandokir has a One-Hit KO attack, and an undead raptor that will eat said spirits, so the fight is a race to kill Mandokir before groups lose their eight extra lives, and the one each player came in with.
This is somewhat in effect in raids, in which, depending on the difficulty, you have a limited number of times you can resurrect in combat, known as a "brez" or "battle rezzes". Once you reach your quota, you cannot resurrect any more people, even if you have people in combat with battle rezzes that are not on cooldown.
Player Headquarters: While any sufficiently sized city must do, the capitals, Dalaran and Shattrath are very evidently this. The twin shrines in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms get a special mention as they are very evidently made for this purpose. Played straight with Garrisons on Draenor.
Under the Sea: Vashj'ir, Thousand Needles (post-Shattering), Zangar Sea.
Wutai: Jade Forest, Vale of Eternal Blossoms, Kun-Lai Summit, uh, most of Pandaria, really.
Villain Ball: Subverted with the Lich King, who appears to be acting stupidly all throughout Northrend in letting adventurers destroy all his minions and fight their way to his very throne. Of course, it's not quite as simple as that.
Villainous Breakdown: Arthas experiences this after his defeat, realizing that after all the evil he's done, he's going to die alone.
Of note, Kael'thas Sunstrider gives a textbook example after being defeated at the end of Magister's Terrace:
From a more minor villain, Balnazzar in Cataclysm. The dreadlord's main theme is subtlety and backstabbing, and throughout the original game Balnazzar was manipulating the Scarlet Crusade to kill his enemies for him. Come Cataclysm, Balnazzar decides that approach won't work anymore, slaughters the entire Crusade, and raises them as an undead army.
The Virus: The Plague of Undeath explicitly works this way. Demonic corruption has a way of transforming its victims as well, due to Evil Feels Good.
Of particular interest was a brief in-game plague of sorts. One of the bosses in the Zul'Gurub instance hit raiders with a debuff called "Corrupted Blood" that dealt damage over time...but the status effect could land on things like vanity pets. Players would stow these infected pets, then bring them out in major cities where the contagion would jump to any nearby players or NPCs. As Zul'Gurub was an endgame dungeon at the time of its release, the plague quickly cut through weaker characters, turning cities such as Orgrimmar and Ironforge into charnel houses.
This particular virus attracted serious academic attention, as researchers realized the WoW game environment had grown in size and population enough to serve as a legitimate model for plague and pandemic spread (though this was somewhat subverted by the fact that a number of players were deliberately helping the plague spread).
It's quite likely that the Corrupted Blood event inspired the undead plague from the Scourge Invasion just prior to the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, which turned both PCs and NPCs into members of an undead army. Many players considered this a fun departure from routine gameplay, but naturally, plenty of others complained because they were getting killed in normally safe areas, even on Player Versus Environment servers that are made specifically to avoid that.
Visual Pun: Cho'gall's weapon is called the Twilight's Hammer, named after the clan he is leader of or vice versa.
Before the requirement was removed from the game, you had to create a Skeleton Key to get access to the Scholomance instance. Not only did it give access to the whole (skeleton themed) dungeon, it also had a skull on its end.
Used in the transition to Phase 2 Yogg-Saron with Sara and Yogg-Saron.
"I am the lucid dream. The monster in your nightmares. The fiend of a thousand faces. Cower before my true form. BOW DOWN BEFORE THE GOD OF DEATH!"
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Druids transform into a number of animal forms, and properly talented warlocks can turn into a demon form for a short amount of time. Shamans can turn into ghost wolves, used as a traveling form before obtaining a mount.
There are many quests and items that temporarily transform or disguise the player, and players will sometimes deliberately game the system by not turning in the quest so they can keep the item (Dartol's Rod of Transformation being one of the biggest examples). These rarely have any direct impact on gameplay, except for the specific quest lines in which they appear.
Walking Shirtless Scene: Many male Night Elf NPCs spend the entire game like this. Demon Hunter NPCs as well in the Burning Crusade expansion (and in canon, even the females). Unfortunately the player can't feasibly do this, as not wearing a chest armor piece deprives you of essential stats and bonuses, but there are several cloth, leather, and mail chest armor pieces that are quite skimpy on both male and female characters, so you can get as close as possible. You can even transmog your end-game armors into them, so your max-level and -equipped character can still be the barely-clothed warrior you'd like it to be.
Warp Whistle: Hearthstones are the most ubiquitous example, but there are many others, including mage portals, warlock summons, a shaman spell, summoning stones, various items with teleport properties, and intra-dungeon portals designed to cut down on run-back time after a raid wipe.
War Memorial: In Dalaran, there's a memorial to all those who fell to the Scourge during the war against the Lich King.
Warrior Therapist: You. Yes, you, the player. Several dungeon and raid bosses have your party whaling on the boss until he comes to his or her senses, usually ending with the recipient of the assault thanking you. Examples include Algalon the Observer, who decides to stick around to watch the people of Azeroth and find out what makes them so special, and Keristrasza, who opts for Suicide by Cop after being mind-controlled and raped by Malygos as his mental domination over her means she can't kill herself.
We Buy Anything: Such as Troll sweat and boar toenails, but not quest items, keys, and items purchased with nonstandard currency, even when they would be things the merchants could actually re-sell, compared to Vendor Trash items that are not. Justified as preventing exploits, or the accidental selling of an item you just worked an hour to get, but still annoying to the player base.
On the other side of that, you can get gold selling your old equipment of epic quality to poor beggars in the street, who are tyring to get by selling cheap things.
Malygos, who's correct that the use of magic is harming Azeroth, but goes about solving the problem in a manner that's guaranteed to leave Azeroth defenseless if not completely destroy it, forcing the other Dragonflights to fight him.
The Zandalari are trying to reform the Troll Empire over concerns the infighting, and threats like the Scourge are leading them to extinction; however, this puts them on a collision course with the people who now occupy their old land, the Horde and the Alliance. Or at least that's the story Vol'jin heard before he left.
It's implied that the Cataclysm either destroyed Zandalar or made it uninhabitable, and they are cooperating with their ancient allies, the Mogu, for land in Pandaria, although some are aware that the Mogu are just using them.
Wham Episode: The "Wrathgate" in-game cutscene is one of these, killing off two canonical Bad Ass heroes and reigniting the war between Alliance and Horde. The Cataclysm expansion could also be seen as this, given the massive changes it made to old Azeroth.
The conclusion of the new Silverpine Forest quest chain in Cataclysm. Although we'd be loathe to ruin it, let's just say that you're not the only one who literally won't see it coming...
In one Hallow's End questline, you have the option of turning over the Creepy Crate to the original questgiver or the person who supposedly seems like a better person. Turn it in to the latter, and they will reveal that they made a deal with the original questgiver.
The last boss of Hour of Twilight reveals himself
Archbishop Benedictus: And now, Shaman, you will give the Dragon Soul to ME.
At the end of the Storm Peaks questline, Loken is clearly victorious, but he takes a moment to rub in his victory with the revelation that you were playing into his hands all along.
'Loken: As for your life, mortal. I will be generous. After all... why would I destroy my most useful servant? I waited for you for weeks inside that Hyldnir mine.
In Cataclysm's ending, Alexstrasza notes that a new age is dawning.
Alexstrasza: But now we must see it... with mortal eyes.
In Dagger in the Dark, Rak'gor Bloodrazor says "He knew you were a traitor!" before stabbing Vol'jin in the throat.
In "Path of the Last Emperor".
Seer Hao Pham Roo says: I was going to teach you a lesson but instead, it is you who have taught me. You see, when I was young... when I was young... when I was young...I was EMPEROR.
What an Idiot: When players kill the Scarshield Quartermaster in Blackrock, he drops his orders from Rend Blackhand with instructions on how to become attuned to Blackwing Lair. Rend expects the quartermaster to get killed, and orders him to destroy the letter so no one else can read it, but as Rend and the quest text point out: this is one stupid Orc.
"I once smelled a luckydo so powerful, I woke up with a hangover."
What Does This Button Do?: Used by Lorewalker Cho while investigating Mogu'Shan Vaults. The button summons manifestations of four Mogu Emperors, which become the next boss, and their guards as the trash leading up to them.
What Have I Done: Garrosh attempts to inflict one of these unsuccesfully on Warlord Krom'gar. He quickly realizes that Krom'gar felt no guilt or remorse for what he had done and quickly gets rid of him.
Garrosh: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
What Happened to the Mouse?: The Vashj'ir storyline involves a new island that formed during the Cataclysm just off Stormwind's coast; the Horde wants it because they could disrupt and/or attack Stormwind from that location, and the Alliance wants it to protect Stormwind from any such attack. When they get there, they are both attacked by naga who are trying to break into Neptulon's domain, and the island's strategic importance is forgotten (though it can be used as a flight path location).
After the battle of Andorhal, Thassarian says he's going to go rescue Koltira. The two haven't been brought up since - except when Thassarian shows up in Hyjal as part of a quest that may or may not be entirely canon.
There is a questline in the Draenei starting area that implies that one of the members of the Triumvarate of the Hand was turned into an abomination by the Big Bad of the area, with the implication that we would eventually encounter and possibly save him; at conclusion of the questline, he is nowhere to be found, nor is the matter mentioned again.
What Measure Is a Mook?: The Fangs of the Father questline involves assassinating two Black Dragons, as the quests are for Rogues, the point is to sneak past the minions and only kill the targets. Afterwards, Wrathion says that he wanted them killed this way because the mortals are being manipulated by the Black Dragons and shouldn't be punished for their masters' evil.
Justified with the Trolls and Worgen. The Darkspear Trolls are a fairly small tribe, so Vol'jin is a pretty hands-on leader. Meanwhile, Gilneas is under attack by feral Worgen and the Forsaken, so King Greymane himself leads his people to safety; by the time they escape, his haughty attitude is very much broken.
What the Hell, Hero?: One Alliance Hellfire Penninsula questgiver sends you to kill some (innocent) Mag'har orcs as part of a Cycle of Revenge, which gets you called out by a different NPC and sent on another quest to make amends.
Garrosh treats Krom'gar to one of these after he murders an entire school of innocent druids and burns down Cliffwalker Post because the High Chieftain dared to avenge his son's murder by his subordinate. In "Heart of War", he gives this to Korm Blackscar, for expressing approval of Horde forces attacking the Alliance forces attacking the Death Gate at the Broken Front, resulting in both forces getting wiped out by the Scourge.
You get the same after completing a quest for Zenn Foulhoof the satyr in Teldrassil, and are sent on a series of quests to both punishFoulhoof and eliminate his allies.
Horde players can ask Sunwalker Dezco, a tauren paladin, whether it would be a good idea to capture Anduin Wrynn while he is unguarded at the Temple of The White Tiger. Dezco scolds you for even suggesting such a thing, saying that Garrosh would approve, but he does not, because, 1)Anduin is an unarmed child, 2)They are in the presence of an August Celestial, and 3)Anduin has earned the respect of Baine Bloodhoof, chieftain of the tauren.
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 in A-H.
Andi: "That Fish Fellreed is kind of weird. First of all, her name's Fish. That's weird."
Who's Laughing Now?: Centuries ago, Goblins were not as smart as they are now, and used to be slaves to the Trolls on Kezan who used them to mine the kaja'mite ore they needed for their rituals. Exposure to said ore caused the Goblins' intelligence to increase dramatically, and they eventually overthrow and enslave the Trolls to work in the mines.
Who Wears Short Shorts?: The barmaid at the Speedbarge, and who used to be the flag girl at the Mirage Raceway before Thousand Needles was flooded, wears blue shorts. Her name is Daisy.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Said word for word, albeit replacing "snakes" with "(rock) troggs", by Brann Bronzebeard in the Halls of Origination dungeon.
Windmill Crusader: Players take on the Sancho Panza role to a Don Quixote expy, Maximillian of Northshire, with one quest rewarding a toy windmill.
Wisdom from the Gutter: At the end of the legendary questline, it's Tong, a waiter in the Tavern in the Mists, who tells Wrathion that the Alliance and the Horde need each other, telling him of how Emperor Shaohao had to include the pandaren's mantid enemies in the mists because they were as much a part of the land as they were, and they strengthened each other. Wrathion is no mood to hear it, though.
With Us or Against Us: Aside from the Alliance and Horde, there are also several independent factions that are hostile to each other, so befriending one will make you hated by the other:
Aldor vs. Scryers. They work together to fight the Burning Legion, but only by creating the Shattered Sun Offensive, the Aldor and Scryers outside the SSO are still opposed to each other.
Frenzyheart vs. Oracles. In one quest, you will have to choose which of them to save, which will give you the favor of one faction and make you the enemy of the other.
Booty Bay vs. Bloodsail Buccaneers. Because Booty Bay is also opposed to the Venture Company, it's possible to become friendly with both by attacking Booty Bay to befriend the Buccaneers, then attacking the Venture Company to befriend Booty Bay.
Wire Dilemma: In the Halls of Origination, Brann Bronzebeard tries to stop the Reorigination mechanism, by breaking into the main control panel, and finds two fuses, a red one, and a blue one. The one he breaks depends on the player's faction (Horde - red, Alliance - blue), and either one works to stop it.
Womb Level: In Cataclysm there is a gigantic sea creature called Nespirah, and you end up questing inside it. Turns out, it's sentient and the naga are trying to bend it to their will and use it as an engine of destruction.
In the Dragon Soul Raid, the second and third bosses, Yor'Sahj the Unsleeping and Warlord Zon'ozz, are found inside the stomachs of large creatures- Shu'ma and Go'rath, that are servants of the Old Gods. To reach them, you must defeat globs of the creature's blood and large tentacles, respectively, which will also assist the bosses in battle.
Word of God: Blizzard has had two 'Ask the Creative Development Team' threads, in which they answer questions regarding the game's lore. A number of answers have debunked speculation, cleared up ambiguous plot points and even offered new insights that weren't being sought after, but are interesting none the less. And then there are some which are met with a dismissive Shrug of God.
The Worf Effect: Various NPC battles with the Lich King seem to be for the sole purpose of showing off how strong he is in comparison, with the fight in the Halls of Reflection being just the latest.
The Tauren have been playing this role in Cataclysm—both the Earthen Ring and the Cenarion Circle have lost high-ranking tauren members to show the threats PC's must face.
The Chickified night elves play this role in the interfaction war in Cataclysm, used to show how much of a threat the orcs are, and to justify the presence of their allies in the worgen and Varian Wrynn.
Near the end of the Klaxxi quest chain, after you get Exalted with the faction, the Paragons, who are some of the greatest heroes in mantid history, go up against Imperial Vizier Zor'lok, the first boss in Heart of Fear. In the ensuing battle, one of the Paragons, Malik the Unscathed, who was famed for being almost invincible, is killed.
World of Ham: To the point that World of Hamcraft would not be an unfitting title. Nearly every voiced line in the game is so overblown you'd think the collective cast is starved on a regular basis.
World of Muscle Men: Has this in full effect. This brought some jokes over how beefy the eleven races became compared to their slender Warcraft III designs.
World's Smallest Violin: There is an Emote Command, /violin, which displays "You begin to play the world's smallest violin." If you have something targeted, it displays "You begin to play the world's smallest violin for [target]." The number of times you use this emote, along with a few others, is tracked in the statistics.
Worth It: Kingslayer Orkus (according to him) once met Varok Saurfang and asked the High Overlord to autograph his massive pectorals; instead, Saurfang backhanded him, and now Orkus has trouble remembering things. It was totally worth it.
Xanatos Gambit: The entire Wrath of the Lich King expansion is built on this, as players find out to their dismay during the Lich King encounter in Icecrown Citadel. Every challenge presented to you within Icecrown Citadel was just a test so that only the greatest champions of Azeroth would reach the Lich King. At 10%, he instantly kills your entire raid, announces this was his plan all along, then begins to harvest your soul and reanimate you as a champion of the Scourge. It doesn't work out for him.
You wouldn't think them capable of it, but the Hozen will at times engage in ravages, attacks on other communities, when they have more mouths than they can feed. The ravages will either secure greater food for the Hozen tribes, or get enough Hozen killed that the food they already have will sustain them.
You Bastard: A very subtle one: In Hillsbrad, you come across a group of humans who are buried neck-deep by the Forsaken and are at the mercy of the surrounding ghouls. Your character spots a shovel nearby and decides to "do the right thing". The quest that follows gives you the option to dig the humans out or bash their brains in with the shovel. Should you choose to do the latter, you get a debuff that tells you to "rethink your definition of "right"".
Hunter player characters are often avid collectors, and will search the game world for "rare spawn" beasts that appear periodically. As such, if you kill such a beast in a Cataclysm zone, your reward is the Crystalline Tear of Loyalty, which is described as "The desire to serve as a loyal companion, coalesced into a single priceless crystal". It doesn't do anything, but you can sell it for 25 gold. You bastard.
If you do a Human or Orc orphan's quests for Children's Week, you can choose from one of a few rewards, including pets and pet biscuits that make your pets larger. You can also choose an item that can be sold for a few gold, and is said to be for those who like telling children Greatfather Winter does not exist.
Every time you boot one of the NPCs off of the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth or its yak equivalent from Mists of Pandaria (or even when you dismount) you get to hear them complain.
Hakmud of Argus: I thought we were friend, buddy! How could you leave Hakmud stranded?
You Can See Me?: Players use mind control to help a raptor escape from Zul'Gurub, only to be caught at the very end by Jin'do the Hexxer. At first it seems like the trolls are just going to put the raptor in a cage, but Jin'do is a powerful Witch Doctor, and knows the player is mind controlling the raptor; he ends the quest by calling out to the player, and breaks the mind control.
Same thing happens in the Twilight Highlands, when Cho'gall notices the player spying on him with a magic scrying device.
You Have No Chance to Survive: C'thun spends the entire time you are inside his lair (Temple of Ahn'Qiraj) taunting you with this, before you even get to him.
You Killed My Sister: In Blackwing Descent, you fight Nefarian and Onyxia, the former having reanimated the latter. Subverted as when you kill Onyxia, again, Nefarian doesn't seem so hurt over losing his sister, instead berating you for "callous disregard for one's possessions".
Vanessa VanCleef is motivated by revenge for her father's death.
You Mean X Mas: Azeroth has several holidays that are based on real world holidays including: Noblegarden (Easter), Hallow's End (Halloween), and the Feast of Winter Veil (Christmas). They even have Pirate's Day (Talk Like A Pirate Day).
Your Mind Makes It Real: The Sha in Mists of Pandaria manifest because of strong negative emotions rising in mortals. Pandaren discipline largely came about to combat this, but the balance is upset by the alliance and horde appearing on Pandaria.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The Wrathgate event in Lich King. No, Bolvar Fordragon and Saurfang the Younger aren't going to defeat Arthas halfway through Dragonblight, so you just know this isn't going to end well.
The battle between Alexstrasza and Deathwing in the Twilight Highlands ends with a badly injured Alexstrasza and a dead Deathwing. He gets better real fast.
Yoyo Plot Point: WarCraft started with the Orc invasion of Azeroth, until Warcraft III revealed the Orcs were demonically possessed and not all bad, and had to join forces with the Alliance and the Night Elves to defeat the Burning Legion. Some years later, relations between the two have turned sour, sparking a renewed Alliance/Horde war. Burning Crusade sees the return of the Burning Legion, and the two having to work together to defeat the demons again. This continues into Wrath of the Lich King where a cooperative effort to fight the Lich King is ruined by a traitorous faction of Forsaken, which leads to infighting that widens the Alliance/Horde rift. Garrosh Hellscream takes over the Horde and declares open war on the Alliance, just as Deathwing emerges and threatens all of Azeroth; leaving guys like Thrall and Malfurion Stormrage trying to get the Alliance and Horde to focus their attention on the world ending threat instead of each other. This leads to Pandaria with the war in full swing, only for Garrosh Hellscream to cross the Moral Event Horizon and acquire the Heart of Y'Shaarj, forcing the Alliance and the rest of Horde to team up to stop him.
Another is whether the Forsaken should be seen as desperate outcasts who perform morally dubious acts in order to survive, or whether they are outcasts because they are immoral and untrustworthy.
Zerg Rush: A common tactic in PvP battlegrounds. Also the main reason for the Death Knight ability Army of the Dead, which summons eight ghouls that swarm anything in range, drawing the attention away from the Death Knight and their group.
Zombie Infectee: The player character is a werewolf version of this in the worgen starting zone. No, that worgen bite is not 'probably nothing'!
Zip Mode: You can pay to fly from city to city (as long as you've visited enough cities to unlock the "flight path"). It essentially replicates the effect of flying mounts (which were introduced long after the fast travel system) but automatically follows a set path. They are often ignored by high-level characters due to their circuitous paths that end up taking longer than flying yourself, especially if you're already in the field. Any distance less than 1/3 of a continent is usually best done manually. However, they move at the second fastest flying speed, and being automatic means you can take a bathroom break.
On another plus side, players also note that the journey gives you a great scenic view of the world when you're just starting out.