Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Warcraft The Horde

Go To

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

"We came to this world as exiles and outcasts, but together, we can be more. A weapon to break the chains of oppression. A bastion for the hunted and the lost. A family bound by blood and honor. And if our enemies do not give us peace, we will give them war. Victory or death - this I pledge as your Warchief. Until the end of days, I live and die, FOR THE HORDE!"
— The sentiment of Warchief Thrall
Banner of the Horde

The Horde is one of the two major political factions of the mortal races in Azeroth, its counterpart being the Alliance, centered on the western continent of Kalimdor. Driven by unity, the Horde consists of a coalition of disparate races and cultures loosely joined in an alliance of convenience against a hostile world that would see them destroyed. A faction led by off-worlders and composed of outsiders, the Horde has survived the obstacles of Azeroth by bonding together, fighting as family, comrades, or even uneasy allies. Focused, ferocious, and sometimes monstrous, the Horde values strength and honor and is relentlessly opposed to any who threaten the ideals of freedom and hope, but struggles to keep aggression in check.

Unlike the Alliance, which has remained somewhat consistent throughout the years, the identity of the Horde is always in flux, changing depending on circumstances, leadership, and plot convenience. Starting off as a war machine under the thrall of the Burning Legion, meant to weaken Azeroth before the coming of the demons, the Horde has since then thrown the shackles of oppression and rebuilt itself as an independent force, which now protects its new home from the likes of its former masters. However, not everyone considers its people redeemed, for even when freed from demon corruption, the Horde has nevertheless turned to its warmongering ways on numerous occasions, resulting in civil wars, revolutions, and subsequent reformations.

However, no matter its leader, whether good or evil, pragmatic or idealistic, the Horde still maintains certain values that keep it distinct. Above all, it is a faction of outcasts: whether abandoned by their loved ones for becoming monsters, ostracised for usage of forbidden magic, or hated for their dark past, all races of the Horde have experienced loss, and work together because they have nowhere else to go. As a result, the Horde is a much more tightly knit faction than the Alliance: Orgrimmar, the Horde's capital, is a vast multicultural metropolisnote , and the faction as a whole possesses a strong central leadership, whether a single Warchief or a small council, unlike the more loosely allied kingdoms of the Alliance. Whether it's heroic or villainous, the Horde is also always the warlike faction: its people, hardened by years of suffering, understand that at times, violence is the only solution to problems.

Currently, the Horde's primary playable races include orcs, trolls, tauren, Forsaken undead, blood elves, and Huojin pandaren. There are also numerous unplayable races such as ogres or unlockable allied races such as the vulpera within its ranks.

Due to length, this page has been split into the following subpages:

The Horde of Kalimdor

The heroic Horde, formed on the continent of Kalimdor under the leadership of Thrall after he led remnants of the Old Horde out of the Alliance's prisoner encampments in the Eastern Kingdoms. It later expanded to other races of Azeroth, opposes the Alliance and forms the playable Horde races in World of Warcraft.

Historical organizations and splinter groups.

Initially, the Horde was a villainous faction corrupted by demons. Later on, after the Horde's redemption, not all accepted the Horde as it is. The Horde has a painful history of infighting and betrayal, and those folk often form their own splinter groups.

  • The Old Horde/Iron Horde: The first Horde that was formed under the influence of the Burning Legion on Draenor. The "Iron Horde" is an Alternate Timeline version of that first Horde, led by Grommash Hellscream and using military knowledge given by Garrosh Hellscream.
    • The Fel Horde: Remains of the Old Horde who were corrupted even further by the Pit Lord Magtheridon. They later came to serve Illidan Stormrage.
    • Mag'har: The coalition of all the Orcs of Outland who refused to drink the blood of the Pit Lords. They too have an Alternate Timeline version on the alternate Draenor.
  • Garrosh's Horde: What a splinter group of orcs from the Horde of Kalimdor became under the leadership of Garrosh after the events of Cataclysm during the war in Pandaria.
  • Sylvanas and her followers: Sylvanas Windrunner betrayed the Horde of Kalimdor and left it at the end of the story in Battle for Azeroth. She joined the Jailer and became a prominent antagonist in Shadowlands.

    General Tropes 
  • Adaptational Self-Defense: A recurring trend best seen in Mists of Pandaria is for any conflict between the Horde and Alliance to be retconned to be entirely the Horde's fault. For example, Varian started the war in Cataclysm in the original lore, but it was later retconned so Garrosh and the Horde started it.
  • The Alliance: The Horde actually fits this just as well as, er, the Alliance, though there seems to be more infighting, and two races, the Forsaken and the blood elves, originally joined merely for survival and not for ideological reasons (although they remain for the brotherhood). Also, the Alliance is more of a confederation of different groups ruled by different kings, councils, or leaders, while all of the Horde's factions and cities are ruled exclusively by the Warchief, and only governed by their respective racial leaders.
    • As of Battle for Azeroth (after Saurfang's rebellion), the Horde has now fully embraced this trope, having removed the mantle of Warchief in favor of a council of racial leaders. (which is ironic when you consider that the Alliance is currently led by a High King, a role which some fans have come to criticize as being "the Alliance's blue Warchief.")
  • Angst? What Angst?: The writers of World of Warcraft since Mists of Pandaria, rarely allow the Horde to have grievances with the Alliance. Meaning while Alliance NPCs can mention the Horde doing stuff like destroying Southshore or massacring Hillsbrad, the Horde isn't allowed to mention things like Kul'tiras committing Van Helsing Hate Crimes against the Horde, the Alliance firebombing Camp Taurajo or the Explorer's league backed by Ironforge massacring tauren tribes.
  • Anyone Can Die: Due to being used as the villains from time to time, it is common for Horde heroes to either go evil and be killed, or be killed by said evil Horde characters to show how evil they are. As such, almost every expansion featured one or two major Horde characters dying. This is especially obvious when it comes to racial leaders: while all original Alliance races have at least one of their racial leaders alive and at the players' side, only one of the original Horde races do (as of the end of Battle for Azeroth).
  • Badass Army: The Kor'kron Guard, a multiracial army that protected the Warchief. The Kor'kron evolved from Thrall's personal bodyguards and led the Horde through Outland and Northrend. When Garrosh became Warchief, his Kor'kron were his underlings, and they underwent Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome and were mostly killed in the Siege of Orgrimmar. The organization has been left behind, leaving many Kor'kron characters not at the Siege unaccounted for. Battle for Azeroth has introduced a new Horde army called the Honourbound.
  • Battle Cry: LOK'TAR OGAR! Translation: Victory or death!. "For the Horde" is also very common, and each race tends to their own individual battlecries as well.
  • Barbarian Hero: Orcs, Trolls, and Tauren mostly, but the other races manage to do this sometimes.
  • Becoming the Mask: Both the Forsaken and the Blood Elves only joined the Horde out of necessity and convenience for allies in struggling times. Their contributions were token at best and both parties would take their leave when the time came. Instead, however, both the Forsaken and Blood Elves found the other races of the Horde to be True Companions who stuck with them no matter what, winning them over to truly embrace the Horde.
  • The Berserker: Every Horde race, in some shape or form, is susceptible to fits of Unstoppable Rage in combat. In the cases of Orcs and Trolls, it's actually a bit of Gameplay and Story Integration.
    • Orcs have a savage, Hulk-like fury in their blood that rises whenever they get too angry. This manifests in the Blood Fury racial for Orc players, and Orcs in lore have been known to use this same fury. When the fury is activated, their tusks seem to grow sharper and their eyes glow a faint red color. Veteran warriors and Blademasters are defined by their ability to master this rage and wield it as a weapon.
    • Trolls have access to the Berserking racial from the Berserker class in the RTS games. When wounded and cornered, the Troll is able to tap into a primal fight or flight response that causes them to go into a rapid flurry of desperate attacks. Nowadays, the racial merely increases the Troll's attack and casting speed when used. The original incarnation required the Troll have been hit by a critical strike for use, and the second changed the attack speed from 10% to a maximum of 30% depending on how wounded the player was.
    • Tauren are mostly Gentle Giants, but they are also Mighty Glaciers. Don't provoke one, or they will NEVER stop charging. Many Tauren even forgo fighting with weaponry, preferring instead to go berserk with hoof, fist, and horn.
    • Forsaken do not feel physical pain, and so they can push themselves beyond the limits of normal beings, and their faith to Sylvanas can cause them to enter zealous fits of rage. Also, Word of God states that, when a body is newly raised, it enters a shocked and frenzied state where it will lash out and attack anything around it, and Sylvanas manipulates this when she uses her Val'kyr.
    • Blood Elves are a little more subtle, but it's there. It's especially prevalent before the Sunwell's restoration - Blood Elves NEED magic to function. They're addicted to it. Without the Sunwell, they could resort to anything - including destructive fits of rage - to acquire it. Post Sunwell, Blood Elves often use Arcane magic to fuel rage, in an inverse of how they were pre-Sunwell restoration.
    • Goblins, especially sappers, are often suicide bombers, and even if they aren't, they can go absolutely crazy with explosives, all whilst cackling and grinning manically the entire time.
    • The Huojin Pandaren would be the only ones exempt from this trope, but their urge to do anything and everything in their power to defend home and family, no matter the cost, could cause them to enter a rage if the situation is so dire, especially when considering their Hot-Blooded nature.
  • Blood Knight: The Horde tends to this much more than the Alliance, partially because the new Horde's progenitor races (Orcs, Trolls, and Tauren) are quite susceptible to this. It ranges across the spectrum, to Worthy Opponent seeking Orcs, to Ax-Crazy Forsaken zealots, and generally spreads appropriately to each Horde race; a Blood Elf might not prescribe to the joy of crushing bones with a massive totem, like Tauren, but they do find pleasure in searing enemies with burning magics in combat.
  • Blood Oath: The Blood Oath of the Horde, in which the one saying the oath swears absolute loyalty to the Horde. "Lok'tar ogar! Victory or death - it is these words that bind me to the Horde. For they are the most sacred and fundamental of truths to any warrior of the Horde. I give my flesh and blood freely to the Warchief. I am the instrument of my Warchief's desire. I am a weapon of my Warchief's command. From this moment until the end of days I live and die - For the Horde!"
  • Color-Coded Armies: Consistently red, though there are exceptions:
    • The Warsong Clan under Grom Hellscream's leadership use purple.
    • The Forsaken, during the undead campaign of The Frozen Throne used blue. The Alliance forces of Lordaeron during those missions used white. In World of Warcraft the Forsaken's tabards are a shade of blue.
    • The Blood Elves already used red before they joined the Horde during their campaign of The Frozen Throne.
  • Cool Airship: The Horde's main mode of airborne transportation are Goblin Zeppelins. They also have massive warships like Orgrim's Hammer based on the zeppelin design that resemble a giant boat held aloft by large balloons. The balloons are actually made of metal (And yet float), so they won't get immediately destroyed in the middle of battle. The large warships also have a huge BFG on the bow in the shape of a wolf's head.
  • Duel to the Death: The Mak'gora originated from Orcish culture, and evolved into a global Horde practice.note  One challenges another, typically for a leadership position, and the two fight to the death. At one point, during Thrall's tenure, the Mak'gora was still employed but was instead ended in submission instead of death, but death is the current and traditional way of settling it. The Mak'gora has no rules, except one - the two fighters decide the rules. This can lead to Mak'gora with strict terms, or ones where anything goes. This in particular helps test the fighter's conviction to honor their own terms that they decided, and measure trust.
    • Of particular note was the Mak'gora between Garrosh Hellscream and Cairne Bloodhoof for the position of Warchief, that resulted in the latter's death. Treachery was involved, however; both fighters agreed to the term that a Shaman would bless their weapons before the battle. Garrosh's chosen Shaman was Magatha Grimtotem, and she 'blessed' his weapon with poison that led to a minor scandal when the poison chose the victor, not the fighter's skill.
  • Demoted to Extra: After Mists of Pandaria turned most orc NPCs heel, then killed them off, orcs rarely appear in important roles outside of redshirts and grunts, with Blood Elves and Forsaken doing most of the work.
  • Depending on the Writer: The post-Warcraft III Horde can go from a benevolent group of honorable warriors to a badly maintained legion of psychopaths, entirely reliant on who is the expansion's lead writer. Generally the former was more prevalent in Vanilla, Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, while the latter was present in Mists of Pandaria and Battle for Azeroth.
  • Easily Forgiven: Not as easily as one would think as they still face discrimination from the Alliance even if you had nothing to do with the atrocities that were committed, but when under bad leadership (i.e. Gul'dan, Garrosh, and Sylvanas) the Horde are ordered to commit atrocities against the Alliance but are somewhat left alone afterwards:
    • First and Second War: An (at the time thought to be) Always Chaotic Evil Giant Space Flea from Nowhere suddenly invades Azeroth, ravages and pillage the southern half of the Eastern Kingdoms, destroying nearly half of the human kingdoms, then nearly doing the same to the other human kingdoms a well as Quel'Thalas? They are imprisoned in order to understand where they're from, why they invaded, and why they are tainted by demons, with the ultimate goal (at least in Terenas's mind) to one day integrate them to the Alliance.
    • Garrosh: A warmongering leader is put in charge, which leads to Horde invasions of Alliance lands all over the world, the destruction of one of the very few human kingdoms left and of nearly all its inhabitants (Gilneas, which, admittedly, was already on the verge of collapsing from a Worgen problem), invading Night Elven lands, nuking an Alliance city, and so on, with the Horde openly rebelling only when Garrosh starts turning against them as well. The Alliance helps dethrone Garrosh who had gone mad with power, then let the Horde keep most of the territories they conquered, not asking for anything as reparations or guarantee they won't do this again.
    • Fourth War: Thanks to their leader, the Horde starts a war against the Alliance again, this committing what is explicitly called a genocide of the Night Elves, defiling their lands, desecrating their dead, with only Saurfang (one of the people partly responsible for the aforementioned genocide) having remorse about it at first, with the Horde as a whole once again fully supporting their leader until Saurfang forces her to admit she does not care for them at all. The Alliance helps Saurfang's rebellion, and, again, not asking anything from the Horde as reparations or assurance (at least the change in leadership style ensures that the Horde will have more difficulty going to war for flimsy reasons from then on).
  • Evil Counterpart. The expansions of World of Warcraft have introduced many: the Old Horde, the Dark Horde, the Fel Horde, the "True Horde", the Iron Horde and the Fel Iron Horde.
  • Fantastic Racism: Jokes aside from the Proud Warrior Race guys; the Horde is more the victim of this trope by the Alliance's Forces. Leaders like Lor'themar have even gone on record stating the Horde only exists because of Alliance bigotry.
    Lor'themar: When will they see that the Horde exists BECAUSE of the Alliance? Because of their prejudice and their bigotry!? They force us ever closer to Hellscream’s Horde!
  • Flanderization: Many of the Horde races have had their traits heavily exaggerated over the years of the game, with Orcish aggression, Tauren pacifism, Forsaken sour morality, and Goblin greed all being a bit too forefront. Mostly happened during Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria. Orcs in particular, even as far as Battle for Azeroth, have yet to recover from Mists Of Pandaria turning many orcs into racist Villains without much explanation.
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: Subverted, sort of. On the surface, it would appear the Blood Oath is often broken by Horde members leaving to join neutral organizations, and more prominently, the Darkspear Rebellion. But Word of God revealed it's not just an Oath to the Warchief, but an Oath to the Horde itself and the ideals it represents. For example, when the assassin struck Vol'jin, he no longer recognized Garrosh as his Warchief but still considered himself part of the family that is the Horde, so the Oath remained unbroken. Also subverted in that Horde and Alliance members who join neutral factions still align themselves with that home faction. Example, Thrall became the leader of the Earthen Ring but he is still a member of the Horde, and he joins in their campaign on the alternate Draenor in Warlords of Draenor.
  • Had to Be Sharp: You have to be, when you live in a harsh desert with harpies and quilboar/eternally rainswept jungle island while being hunted by rival tribes/endless grassy savannah teeming with wild predators and cannibalistic centaur/hated and reviled by every living human on the planet.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Due to constant change in leadership and the colossal differences in opinion of conflicting writers, the primary identity of the Horde changes almost every expansion, acting like heroes or villains as the plot demands.
  • Hidden Depths: A general Horde theme. The Horde's races, on the surface, seem like your typical villains, with monstrous features, a savage, tribal culture, and brutal mindsets. While they are more prone to violence than others, they also are deeply spiritual and very much intelligent, with a sense of honor, duty, and brotherhood.
  • The Horde: In Warcraft II. Averted since Warcraft III; since then the Horde has, ironically, become more of an Alliance.
  • History Repeats: The Horde Rebellion is written to mimic the long past Pandaren Revolution. Both involve an oppressed people (The Pandaren, Hozen, and Jinyu in the latter, and the non-Orcish races in the former), ruled over by tyrannical dictators (The Mogu, and Garrosh's Orcs) and kept down under fear of death, until the day one of them stands up (Kang the Fist of First Dawn, and Vol'jin), is no longer afraid of the oppressors, and works to overthrow them.
    • It's also a repeat of the orcish redemption arc from Warcraft III.
    • The Horde civil war arc from Mists is repeating in Battle for Azeroth to fan outrage.
  • Noble Savage: Orcs, Trolls, Tauren and Mag'har Orcs.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: One of the first problems the newly established Horde Council faces during Shadows Rising. Not everyone in the Horde is happy about the armistice with the Alliance, least of all the Zandalari who still want to make the Alliance and the Proudmoores pay for Rastakhan's death. This combined with the Widow's Bite's assassination attempt on Talanji, almost causes the Zandalari to leave the Horde. However, this gets mostly resolved by the end of the book after Talanji saves Bwonsamdi from Nathanos and the Widow's Bite, with the help of the Horde forces.
  • invokedOld Shame: The position of Warchief, once seen with great pride under the rule of Thrall, became this to the whole Horde after the leadership of Garrosh and later Sylvanas had led them to commit the same (if not worse) atrocities that the Old Horde did. Many, like Saurfang, came to believe that Warchief has always enabled tyrants to rise, with only two exceptions. After ousting Sylvanas, the remaining leaders of the Horde decide to form a council instead, believing that a Warchief has no place in times of peace and that the Alliance's government system would be better suited to their needs.
  • Poor Communication Kills: One of the Horde's main flaws is that they are openly dismissive of diplomacy and believe apologies are a sign of weakness. This has led to most of the Alliance believing that they are all unrepentant monsters even though many of its members are legitimately sorry for their more aggressive actions.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Because of the Horde's 'melting pot' nature and frequent overlap of the Horde race's cultures, all of the races tend to end up this way, since the progenitor races of the Horde (Orcs, Trolls, and Tauren) bore this as one of their main cultural features.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: They are a coalition of different races who band together militarily and economically for survival.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: When it's evil.
  • Red Is Heroic: When it's good. Notably, the only Horde race that doesn't regularly incorporate the color red is the Forsaken.
  • True Companions: A common theme in the Horde is that, despite being originally allies of necessity, its races eventually grow to care for each other, no matter how many civil wars and constant shifts in morality. The orcs, trolls and tauren are the closest between each other (this is best exemplified by the icon for Spirit Link ability in Warcraft III), but as expansions went on, goblins, blood elves, and the Forsaken of all people have started to share in this feeling of brotherhood.
    Vol'jin: I'll tell ya what de Horde is. De Horde that me an' Thrall built. It be a family. When de whole world try ta put us down, da family come an' pick us back up.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: With a hostile Alliance next door and a frequently changing leadership within the Horde, it is not surprising that some of the Horde's recent warchiefs have become tyrants. Most notable are Garrosh Hellscream of the Orcs and Lady Sylvanas Windrunner of the Forsaken.
    • The Horde Council was created to help ensure that this can't happen again.
  • War Is Glorious: A recurring theme, as most Horde races enjoy and take very naturally to war and combat. However, as per their redemption, the glory of war is less focused on the violence and brutality and more of the glory of bravery, skill, and particularly, the glory of defending those you love and surviving to fight another day, exemplified when Grom Hellscream sacrificed his life to slay Mannoroth and free his race from demonic slavery.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Most Orc characters who weren't killed off in Siege Of Orgrimmar simply disappeared off the map, leaving the race with no racial leader or even representation for the end of Mists of Pandaria and the entirely of Warlords of Draenor.
    • The Trolls didn't receive another racial leader after Vol'jin was unceremoniously killed off in Legion until the last patch of Battle of Azeroth.
    • Many noble and well liked Kor'kron NPCs from Burning Crusade to Cataclysm simply disappeared off the map after Mists of Pandaria turned the entire organization heel. Most assume they were Killed Offscreen.
    • The Garad'kra, Garrosh's secret police organization from Bloodsworn, is nowhere to be found outside of it's source comic.
    • Vol'jin's elite rank of Shadow hunters, the Siame-Quashi, are missing outside of the revamped Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman they were originally featured it. While Shadow Hunters were prominent in Draenor, the organization of Siame-Quashi was never mentioned.
    • About a quarter of the Grimtotem who choose to split their tribe, and denounce support for Magatha Grimtotem, while agreeing to swear loyalty to the United Tauren Tribes and the Horde, and reform under Jevan Grimtotem's leadership in The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, are also missing in later narratives.