The Alliance: Stormwind (Humans) - Lordaeron (Humans) - Gilneas (Humans/Worgen) - Kul Tiras (Humans) - Other Human Kingdoms - Ironforge (Dwarven Clans) - Gnomeregan (Gnomes) - Quel'Thalas/Telogrus Rift (High Elves and Void Elves) - Darnassus (Night Elves) - The Exodar (Draenei) - Tushui (Pandaren) - Vindicaar (Lightforged Draenei) - Mechagon (Mechagnomes)
The Horde: Orgrimmar (Orcs) - The Darkspear Tribe (Trolls) - Thunder Bluff (Tauren} - The Forsaken (Undead) - Quel'Thalas (Blood Elves) - (Goblins) - Huojin (Pandaren) - Thunder Totem (Highmountain Tauren) - Suramar (Nightborne) - Zandalari Empire (Zandalar Trolls) - Voldunai (Vulpera) - Other (non-playable races)
Other factions: The Old Horde/Iron Horde | The Scourge | Sylvanas and his followers | Knights of the Ebon Blade | Illidan and his followers | Garrosh's Horde | Pandaria | Other mortals | The Void (The Old Gods) | Eternals | Shadowlands (Death) | The Titans (Arcane) | The Burning Legion (Fel) | The Dragonflights | Wild Gods | The Artifact Weapons
Individual media: Warcraft III Heroes | Film characters | Hearthstone characters | Warcraft characters in Heroes of the Storm (Assassins - Warriors - Support)
The Scourge is an army of undead created as a vanguard for the invasion planned by the Burning Legion, with the goal of succeeding where the Horde once failed. The Scourge's mission was to spread terror and destruction across the world in anticipation of the Legion's inevitable invasion. The Lich King, who ruled the icy realm of Northrend from his Frozen Throne, created the terrible Plague of Undeath, which he sent southward into human lands. As the plague encroached on the southlands, countless humans fell prey to Ner'zhul's mental control and life-draining sickness every day, swelling the ranks of the already-considerable Scourge.However, following the defeat of the Burning Legion and the decimation of their branch of the Scourge, Ner'zhul decided it was time to make his own power play, bringing Arthas north to free him from his icy prison, and declaring the Scourge a host unto itself apart from the Legion.
That said, their rule was not absolute, as the Horde, the Alliance, the Red Dragonflight, the Argent Crusade, and even traitors from within their own ranks (The Forsaken and Knights of the Ebon Blade) all rose to oppose the Lich King's will. Eventually, Arthas was defeated after the factions and their allies united to storm Northrend and lay siege to his fortress within Icecrown Citadel, battling their way through his most powerful minions in order to defeat him once and for all. However, as Arthas lay dying in the snow, the ghost of his father, Terenas Menethil, issued a dire warning:
"There must always be... a Lich King."
As fortune would have it, a voluntary candidate presented itself in the form of the horrifically burned and tortured Bolvar Fordragon, whose broken body had been taken by Arthas from the failed siege of the Wrathgate in order to shape into a death knight. Now, with the world of the living no longer able to comfort him, Bolvar serves as the incumbent Lich King: the eternal jailer of the damned. It's Bolvar's will alone that prevents the Scourge from rampaging across Azeroth, and as a result, they've mostly remained dormant to this day, content to remain within their territory on the unforgiving northern continent. In recent years, however, Bolvar has grown more active, even participating in the defense of Azeroth during the Third Invasion of the Burning Legion by entering into an alliance with the somewhat reluctant Knights of the Ebon Blade, helping them obtain their artifact weapons as well as form a new Four Horsemen. However, there are also worrying signs that Bolvar's noble heart may be succumbing to the dark powers of the Helm of Domination...
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The Lich King corrupts the minds of some powerful leaders, turning them into his servants, when he doesn't rise them from the dead to do so.
- Dem Bones: Necromancers and Death Knights can animate skeletons to serve as the Scourge's foot soldiers.
- Dracolich: Frost wyrms are risen from the bones of the blue dragons that traditionally made their home in Northrend.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: Their theme.
- Evil vs. Evil: Ner'zhul, Arthas and Kel'Thuzad turned against the Burning Legion in Warcraft III. Dreadlords unsuccessfully tried to get rid of Arthas in Frozen Throne, only to be either subdued or killed by Sylvanas, herself a sworn enemy of Arthas and the Token Evil Teammate of the Horde.
- Flesh Golem: Abominations, flesh giants, flesh beasts and flesh titans.
- Frankenstein's Monster: Flesh titans are animated with electricity.
- Hive Mind: All members of the Scourge hear the Lich King's voice in their minds and are compelled to obey. Without the Lich King's guiding presence, the Scourge would devolve into a mindless wave of death and destruction.
- Horny Vikings: The Vrykuls, who are possibly the strongest non-giant humanoids on Azeroth. Their most impressive warriors are raised as the Ymirjar; failures become Vargul.
- Non-Human Undead: Particularly the crypt fiends and crypt lords, which are undead nerubians, and frost wyrms.
- The Necrocracy: Ner'zhul, the original Lich King, was the soul of an orc shaman sealed within an enchanted helm, the Helm of Domination. His replacement, Arthas Menethil, was close to undead before he assumed the mantle. Even his replacement, Bolvar Fordragon, was undead before and after he assumed the mantle. And all the members/servants of the Scourge who aren't undead already aspire towards it.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Banshees, shades and wraiths.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The San'layn/Darkfallen, undead blood elves led by the Blood-Queen Lana'thel.
- The Plague: The way the Scourge spread through Lordaeron in the Third War, by infecting cereal grains, turning humans into zombies. The Scourge's plague could be seen as prepared in huge cauldrons in the Plaguelands, and later on being spread by small flying monoliths.
- Religion of Evil: The Cult of the Damned, founded by Kel'thuzad on the Lich King's orders to infiltrate Lordaeron.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Darkfallen for the Dreadlords, serving as a group of vampire entities that take on the role of assuming the roles of various leaders to subvert their allies.
- The Undead: Downplayed in that not all of its members are actually undead: Cultists of the Damned, gargoyles, vrykul as well as mind-controlled Ice trolls and Wendigo are still alive. Death Knights are for the most part undead but it doesn't seem to be strictly necessary.
- The Unfettered: According to Kel'thuzad, this is why the Scourge always wins.The so called 'heroes' of the land fall before us by resorting to a measure of our ideals to bring forth their envisioned victory. Their victory is a vehicle to the realization that without resorting to what they define as deplorability to achieve it, we would have overcome them instead. In both outcomes, win or lose, the Scourge invariably wins. When this is recognized, submission to our will is inevitable.
- Zombie Apocalypse: The Sourge's most basic way of conquering lands? Raising zombies and skeletons. Lordaeron fell to one such.
The Lich King
Class: Shaman/Dark Shaman (Original), Shadow Priest (Alternate)
Once the elder shaman of the orcs, Ner'zhul was the first among his kind to be contacted by Kil'jaeden of the Burning Legion. After being fooled for a while, he managed to see the truth and tried to undo the corruption he'd started. Unfortunately for him, his apprentice Gul'dan took over his position and role willingly. Years later, Ner'zhul led the nigh defeated orcs as warchief in the aftermath (expansion pack) of the Second War. After creating portals to other worlds, seeking to conquer them, he escaped the Alliance through one only to be caught by Kil'jaeden.
The demon lord ripped Ner'zhul to pieces, yet preventing him from dying. The orc eventually vowed to help the Legion create another army to attack Azeroth in exchange for the promise of a new, healthy body. Ner'zhul was turned into the Lich King, beginning the existence of the Scourge.
In Warlords of Draenor, the alternate timeline Ner'zhul manages to avoid his grisly fate and apparently return to shamanism. Forced to join the Iron Horde or risk his peoples' deaths, Ner'zhul has called on the ancient and forbidden powers of the Dark Star, an old deity to the Shadowmoon clan that suspiciously appeared at the same time as the draenei's crash landing centuries ago.
- 100% Adoration Rating: In Rise of the Horde, Durotan notes that Ner'zhul is probably the only orc on Draenor whom everyone respects.
- Affably Evil: He's not exactly a Smug Snake...
- In Rise of the Horde, he was manipulated by Kil'jaeden behind the scenes and made earnest efforts to undo his mistakes, which don't work. By the time of Warcraft II and III he discarded his nobility, though this might have something to do with the Skull of Gul'dan's corrupting nature and being tortured by Kil'jaeden.
- In Warlords of Draenor, he only joined the Iron Horde under threat of death, and called upon the Void because he was desperate to save his clan from the wrath of Hellscream.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He uses black magic and necromancy, but he's not an inherently bad person. He thinks of what's best for his people and most of the bad things he did were because he was manipulated. Even as the Lich King, what he wanted more than anything was freedom (and to throw a giant middle finger at Kil'jaeden for screwing him over so badly).
- Dark Is Evil: In Warlords, his use of the Dark Star has a profound influence on his mind, driving him straight into this trope.
- The Dragon: As the Lich King, he's a Dragon to Kil'jaeden.
- Dragon with an Agenda: What he actually was.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: After the opening of the Dark Portal, Ner'zhul started having having visions of death. When he first meets the undead Teron Gorefiend, he interprets it as a sign that he should follow the Death Knight's plan, unaware that it was probably a vision of what Kil'jaeden had in store for him...
- Elemental Powers: Comes with being a shaman. Even after he lost his connection to them for his evils, Beyond the Dark Portal demonstrated that Ner'zhul could still command the elementals through pure force of will.
- Et Tu, Brute?: He took his apprentice Gul'dan's betrayal badly.
- Fate Worse than Death: What Kil'jaeden did to him after he escaped through a portal was not pretty.
- Killed Off for Real: Arthas destroys his spirit at the end of the novel Rise of the Lich King. Though this leads to...
- Not Quite Dead: Despite this, Arthas later states that "[He] was once a shaman" which implies at least parts of Ner'zhul remains in him in WoTLK. Later still, in Legion a shade of Ner'zhul appears to be still trapped in Frostmourne still trying to tempt a shade of Arthas to take up the sword.
- The Lost Lenore: His longing for his dead mate Rulkan made him an easy target for manipulation.
- Manipulative Bastard: After being manipulated by the demons for years, Ner'zhul returns the favor in Reign of Chaos. First, he turns prince Arthas into his own champion (and future body) who would lead his armies to destroy the Alliance of Lordaeron from the inside, then has his jailors killed. By the end of the game, Ner'zhul is free for the Legion's control and has one, if not the strongest army in the world.
- My God, What Have I Done?: He was very upset to discover that Kil'jaeden had tricked him into slaughtering the draenei, not to mention that the ancestors hated him for it afterwards.
- Necromancer: Kil'jaeden granted him the power to raise the dead, and as the Lich King he became the most powerful necromancer in history.
- Obliviously Evil: Ner'zhul first had to be tricked by Kil'jaeden to start the Draenei genocide. When he realizes this, it's already too late to turn back as Gul'dan has stolen his position.
- Older Than They Look: For an ancient orc, he looked like he was in pretty good shape. To put it in perspective, Ner'zhul had always looked rather physically fit despite being very old. Meanwhile, his former apprentice, Gul'dan looks at least 500 years younger than Velen.
- Pet the Dog: He warned Durotan about Gul'dan's plans and the corruption of the Blood of Mannoroth, thus saving the Frostwolf Clan from enduring the same fate as the other clans. The only ones who knew of Ner'zhul's aid were Durotan and Draka, who later died and took the secret to their graves.
- Sadistic Choice: Given one by Grom Hellscream in Warlords of Draenor, unknowingly by the latter; If he didn't join the Iron Horde, his clan would be destroyed. If his clan wasn't strong enough to fight in the Iron Horde, they would still be destroyed by Grom even if they joined. With no other options left to save his people, Ner'zhul drew upon the power of the Dark Star, which had been forbidden in the past due to its mentally corrupting those who used it.
- Start of Darkness: In the novel Rise of the Horde.
- Unwitting Pawn: Manipulated by Kil'Jaeden, then betrayed by Gul'dan. Got his revenge in Warcraft III.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Just read the quote.
- In Reign of Chaos, once Arthas gets Frostmourne, he lets him kill Mal'ganis.
- After merging with Arthas in The Frozen Throne, Arthas pulls this trope on him by destroying (most of) his spirit.
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: In Beyond the Dark Portal (the game), he pointlessly causes many instances of Civil Warcraft that could have been easily been avoided. A good example being after finding out a Captain of the Bonechewer orc clan wears the skull of Gul'dan. Ner'zhul's response? Slaughter the entire clan.
Crown Prince of Lordaeron, the Lich King
Class: Death Knight (former Paladin)
Voiced by: Justin Gross (Warcraft III, Warcraft III Reforged), Patrick Seitz (World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm) (Arthas), Michael McConnohie (the Lich King)
The son of King Terenas Menethil, Arthas started out as The Wise Prince, an idealistic, chivalrous hero of Lordaeron, and was also Jaina's Proudmoore's lover. Unfortunately, the events of the Third War drove him to abandon his idealistic stance in favor of purging the Plague of Undeath sent by Ner'zhul (the original Lich King). Eventually, the trail set up by the Dreadlord Mal'ganis led him to Northrend and the sword Frostmourne, which consumed his soul and turned him into a Death Knight. He went on to slaughter his people and his father, the king and helped summon Archimonde in a failed attempt (influenced in part by Nerzhul's scheming) to claim the power of the World Tree. Shortly thereafter, Ner'zhul called him back to Northrend to defend against the assault of Illidan Stormrage. Arthas defeated Illidan, then rose to the weakened Frozen Throne, merging with Ner'zhul and becoming the Lich King. Arthas then consumed Ner'zhul's spirit and eradicated Ner'zhul's mind some time after their merge but before Wrath of the Lich King, establishing him as the sole leader of the Scourge.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: In the Halls of Reflection his boss "Battle" is just running from him as fast as possible while breaking down the walls of ice he creates.
- All for Nothing: As the Plague of Undeath continued to spread across Lordaeron and undead hordes continued to destroy more and more of his land, Arthas took increasingly desperate and morally questionable actions to fight the Scourge that alienated him from his closest companions and even people he swore to protect. He made a decision to cull plagued Stratholme, destroying the second largest city of Lordaeron, killing an untold number of people, some of whom may or may not have been infected by the undeath plague. Goaded by Mal'Ganis, he leads his soldiers on a mad quest to the frozen north, destroying his own ships and only means of returning home once he finds out Uther convinced his father to recall his expedition, and finally in his last attempt to stop the Scourge he claims the cursed sword Frostmourne, believing it to be the only means of killing Mal'Ganis — only for the sword to consume his soul and turn him into agent of the Lich King, undoing all the work and sacrifices he made, culminating in him personally destroying the kingdom he loved and almost completely eradicating the remaining population of Lordaeron.
- All-Loving Hero: Deconstructed. The fact that Arthas loved his people is what made it so easy for Ner'zhul to corrupt him into becoming the villain he was later known as. His love for his people drove him to try and save them when the Plague hit, but the fact that he couldn't save them drove him to becoming more desperate, even going so far as to kill his own people to spare them of the undead curse befallen them. In his desperation, he took up Frostmourne to defeat Mal'ganis, but this was the plan all along, and he lost his soul and became a Death Knight obsessed with power above all else, turning against his home and people.
- And I Must Scream: Consider how many ruined lives and captured souls he is responsible for through the entire timeline, and yet when Sylvanas sees him in the afterlife, he's broken down in tears from the unspeakable torture that's going on there. Suppose Uther's hope for there to be a special place in Hell for him came true. It's the same place where his Shadowy Tormentor Shades torture the souls of Death Knights when they aren't killing anything despite them still being alive. It would seem that his former Undead minions are still torturing any spirit that enters the Lich King's territory within the Troll God of the Afterlife Bwonsambi's Realm of Shadows and no longer recognize Arthas as the Lich King.
- Anti-Hero: A textbook showcase of a slow evolution throughout all the different types of anti-heroes in the course of human campaign in Warcraft III. To elaborate:
- He starts out as a classic, straight up hero in the beginning, but already in the first few missions, his characterization in dialogue is established as having elements of the Classical Antihero / the Byronic Hero, namely pride and, more importantly, both hidden self-doubt (it is clear that Arthas is not entirely convinced that he can keep his people safe and suffers because of this) and a lust for vengeance (such as vocally advocating slaughtering the demon-aligned orcs to the last after they murder villagers).
- Both his self-doubts and his vengeful nature are shown in slowly increasing detail for about the first half of the campaign, as he evolves into the Pragmatic Hero - still unquestionably devoted to the greater good of his people, with noble objectives, yet growing increasingly harsher, more abrasive, and willing to Shoot the Dog and to do what is necessary as he is confronted with the ravages of the Scourge.
- Then, the Wham Episode of the human campaign occurs, the Culling of Stratholme, which kicks Arthas right down into firm Unscrupulous Hero territory, with him having ordered the purge of an entire city full of civilians. The city was infected with the plague already, he had reason to assume (and was proven right) that the townsfolk would turn into zombies, who then would join the army of his arch-enemy, so that his actions were still, in a way, justifiable as a necessity, but ultimately, he — being a paladin — ordered the destruction of the second-biggest city of his own kingdom and personally slew unarmed civilians. This is also the point in the story where Arthas falls out with his former mentor figure and his former lover, who are appalled at the lengths he is willing to go to, and also the moment which breaks him for good, channeling nearly all of his drive away from protecting his people and towards vengeance upon Mal'Ganis.
- To claim said vengeance, he departs for Northrend and, there, grows even more obsessed with revenge, becoming more and more cold and abrasive and increasingly disregarding the safety of his men when he used to be a father to them before). When he receives an order from his father to return to Lordaeron, he has his boats burned so that the men cannot leave, blaming it on a band of mercenaries he himself hired and commanded in secret, and having them executed. At this point, Arthas has slipped into Nominal Hero mode, forsaking any care for his country or people or friends and any chivalric principles a paladin ought to have, driven by vengeance solely. And then he claims Frostmourne, which ends any and all remotely heroic phases of his life.
- An Ice Person: As a Death Knight.
- Arch-Enemy: To many, many people. Particularly Illidan, Kael'Thas, Sylvanas, Darion Morgraine and his Death Knights, and later Tirion Fordring in Wrath of the Lich King. Notably most of these are one-sided, except for Tirion.
- Badass Baritone: Michael McConnohie gives him a rather manly rasp.
- Badass Cape: Extra points for being black and tattered.
- Barbarian Long Hair: He's always had some pretty thick locks, though they grow slightly thinner after he becomes a Death Knight.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The Lich King believes that he can make Bolvar Fordragon become his servant if he breaks him long enough. Ironically, he ultimately ends up becoming the new Lich King...without actually turning evil.
- Berserk Button: Don't hurt his horse, Invincible. It's about the only thing that can make him somewhat human again, so that he can access his reserves of sheer fury.
- Big Bad: Of Wrath of the Lich King. (He is the eponymous character, after all.)
- Big Bad Slippage: Becomes so desperate to save Lordaeron from the Scourge that he becomes a Death Knight in their service and eventually their leader.
- Black Knight: After obtaining Frostmorne, Arthas falls from grace as a paladin and becomes a Death Knight.
- Bling of War: Minus the color scheme, his armor fits this to a T.
- Casting a Shadow: One of his MANY abilities.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: It's easy to forget that despite his status as Ner'zhul's champion and enforcer, Frostmourne claimed Arthas' soul and Ner'zhul's whispers drove him mad like any of his other victims. He had more freedom then most of the other agents of the Lich King, but he still was lead to his fate against his will.
- The Chains of Commanding: This is what drove him to seek out power when he was still good. The sheer horror of the Plague and The Scourge took its toll on the young prince's mind. Despite the loyalty of his soldiers up until he betrayed them, Arthas was struggling in how to handle the people not only of his army, but also the people he one day would lead. Eventually he realized the dead mindlessly obey, so that eliminated that problem.
- Characterization Marches On: His depiction in WCIII make him greatly at odds with what people know him as.
- As a Paladin, he was brash, rude, and quick to use violence, and he came across as a spoiled prince who got angry at the Scourge more for threatening his future kingdom. His novel and later depictions make him a more reasonable person and an All-Loving Hero whose inability to save his people drove him into madness, and he has closer ties to people like Uther and Jaina. Essentially, in III, he was a Hate Sink, while later depictions make him a Fallen Hero.
- As a Death Knight he was callous and detached (with a sense of humor going by his chuckling at Uther's reaction to hearing he came for Terenas' ashes), without any signs of disloyalty towards Ner'zhul or regret from/resentment at his position in the Scourge, outside of the possible exception of The Frozen Throne's final cinematic. In his novel, he's repeatedly shown as regretting or doubting his actions as a Death Knight (with the suggestion that his aforementioned attitude is really a facade) and resents having to follow Ner'zhul's orders or be a puppet for Kel'thuzad's manipulations.
- The Chosen One: A dark and villanous example. Arthas was more or less picked from the moment he was old enough to be Ner'zhul's Champion, and his body later. This suggests that Arthas never had a chance at being the good man he once was.Arthas: The Lich King knew that I would kill you?'Kel'Thuzad: Of course. He chose you to be his champion long before the Scourge even began.
- Complexity Addiction: His convoluted gambit to repeatedly let his plans be thwarted and minions killed to make the player stronger is totally unnecessary. The Halls of Reflection instance reveals that if Arthas were killed the Scourge would wipe out Azeroth in a Zerg Rush, even without Arthas' immense personal power or a guiding intelligence controlling them. It turns out that nearly every action Arthas takes in Wrath of the Lich King is a massive Batman Gambit to draw Azeroth's greatest heroes to his doorstep, let them think they have the upper hand, and kill them all to raise them as the greatest generals for his army. Had Tirion not succeeded with his Desperation Attack, the gambit would have been pulled off without a hitch.
- Cool Helmet: The Helm of Domination is the source of all his God-like power. Rather intimidating as well.
- Cool Horse: His beloved horse Invincible, which he later raised into undeath and rode into battle. He later gave him wings, but is never seen riding him as the Lich King, though he has a low chance to drop it on heroic difficultynote .
- Cool Sword: Frostmourne, which is the most iconic weapon of the franchise, with the Doomhammer close in second. It's so awesome that it's the current page image for this trope.
- Darth Vader Clone:
- In Warcraft III, his character arc shows numerous similarities with that of Anakin in the prequels. He starts out as the most promising young member of a holy Magic Knight order, whose mentor always warns him against becoming as vile as those he fights against. As he clashes with the forces of darkness, his apparent enemy, the dreadlord Mal'Ganis starts baiting him into giving into his rage and thirst for vengeance. Arthas loses his morals entirely when he sees slaughtering innocents as the only way to achieve his otherwise noble goals, which also drives away the woman he loves. Even as he defeats Mal'Ganis, he is urged by the Lich King to violently kill him. It turns out that Arthas' corruption at the hands of the evil mastermind was from the beginning a plot to get rid of his adversary and gain Arthas as a disciple. In the end, Arthas, originally with the intent of saving his kingdom, ends up destroying it in the service of the Lich King and becoming his chief enforcer. He also has a moment of confronting his old mentor and killing him, and later slaughters the entire order. Interestingly, since Warcraft III was released before Revenge of the Sith, Arthas' similarities to Anakin from the prequels make this case of Darth Vader Clone something of an Unbuilt Trope.
- World of Warcraft deals with the transformation into the Lich King proper, resulting into a more classical take on the Darth Vader Clone trope in terms of appearance. When he dons the helmet at the end of The Frozen Throne, Arthas completes the process of detaching from his former self and assuming command as a supreme leader of the Scourge. Until his death, he always is present as an armored caped warrior with a face-concealing helmet and an unnaturally reverberating voice, who wields a sword in concert with Black Magic. His ornate armor at all times that functions as the magical equivalent of a life support system as well, maintaining his undead status and he never appears anywhere without it. Later he dies in the presence of a loved one, revealing that some of his original self remained, complete with his helmet being removed to show his face. Unlike Vader, however, Arthas does not get redeemed.
- Deadpan Snarker: Possibly the single wittiest character in the franchise, really. Emphasis on Dead.
- Upon meeting with half-demon Illidan:Illidan: [angrily] Hello, Arthas.
Arthas: [mockingly] You look... different, Illidan. I suppose the Skull of Gul'dan didn't agree with you.
- Even before his Start of Darkness, he's already deadpan. For example when confronting an Abomination for the first time:Jaina Proudmoore: That creature looks like it was sewn together from different corpses.
Arthas: Let's study it after we kill it, okay?
- After he did the FaceHeel Turn and confronting Uther for last time:Uther the Lightbringer: "Your father ruled this land for seventy years, and you've ground it to dust in a matter of days.
Arthas: Very... dramatic, Uther. Give me the urn, and I'll make sure you die quickly.
- He avoided Snark-to-Snark Combat with Antonidas, though:Antonidas: Greetings, Prince Arthas. How fares your noble father?
Arthas: [sheepishly] Lord Antonidas. There's no need to be snide.
- The pure gold is when he confronts Sapphiron the enormous Blue Dragon, who later became a boss in Naxxramas:Sapphiron: You dare enter my lair? I am Sapphiron, ancient servant of Malygos the Spell-Weaver! Explain yourselves!
King Arthas: Sorry we don't have time to chat, great wyrm. We've come to murder you and steal whatever artifacts you've been hoarding over the centuries.
Sapphiron: Honesty. How... refreshing! None may challenge Sapphiron and live!
- Not to mention one of his annoyed quotes as a Death Knight:Arthas: Who is this "Darkness" anyway?.
- Upon meeting with half-demon Illidan:
- The Determinator: You gotta give the man credit. He did sail all the way to an unknown land, build a city there, fight through an unending tide of rotting flesh and take up an evil sword to kill a Dreadlord.
- Discard and Draw: When he claimed Frostmourne, he also discarded his paladin warhammer Light's Vengeance. This would soon be followed by giving up his Light-based powers entirely in favor of the Scourge's necromancy.
- The Dragon: Was previously one to Ner'Zhul.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Serves both as Ner'Zhul's agent in this towards the Burning Legion, and then later is this towards Ner'Zhul himself.
- Dragon Ascendant: Arthas destroyed Ner'zhul's spirit at the end of Rise of the Lich King, leaving him the only one in control of the Lich King body.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Due to Ner'zhul being stuck in his armor, Arthas was the one who led the Scourge in destroying Lordaeron.
- The Dreaded:
- He attained this reputation sometime after his face heel turn. Hell, in Frozen Throne, three top-ranking DREADLORDS would rather run away than face him in battle.
- In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, his appearance during a quest will cause every character in sight to shit themselves.
- Drop the Hammer: As a paladin, Arthas held the holy hammer Light's Vengeance.
- Dying as Yourself: Like all the others, Arthas's soul was released when Frostmourne was shattered. Sometime between that and his death scene, it returned to his body, and suddenly he was the young prince again once his Glowing Eyes of Doom faded away. Doesn't seem to have gotten him into a good afterlife, though...
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- An odd example but when Arthas was young, his horse Invincible was severely injured. Unable to heal him, Arthas killed him to end his pain. This event left a major impact on Arthas and inspired him to become a paladin. After losing his soul and killing his father, the first thing Arthas did was run to Invincible's grave and brought the horse back to life. When the Scourge attacked the Sunwell and Arthas did battle with Anasterian Sunstrider, Anasterian cut off Invincible's forelegs to dismount Arthas. Arthas was horrified at the sight of Invincible desperately trying to rise to his feet as it brought back memories of the wound that took Invincible from him the first time. This made Arthas go completely berserk. Even Sylvanas couldn't help but notice that it looked like that Arthas was human again for a brief moment. Even after becoming the Lich King, he kept Invincible by his side. Make zero mistake about it, even after killing his own flesh and blood, Arthas loved that horse.
- A straighter example in that he kept Tragic Keepsakes such as his old Training Sword, Silver Hand Badge, and Jaina's locket.
- Evil Feels Good: He agreed. However it wasn't so much that evil felt good, but more that evil felt good to a prince.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: He employs a lot of frost magic and lives on the Azeroth equivalent of the North Pole. Also the page image.
- Evil Overlord: Of the second most powerful villainous faction in the game besides the Burning Legion.
- Evil Plan: He allowed you and your fellow heroes to come all the way to his throne room so he could personally slaughter and resurrect you to have the greatest warriors of the world on his side.
- Evil Prince: Evil, prince, slew his father and took the throne for himself, then went on to destroy the kingdom.
- Evil Sounds Deep: The Lich King has a completely different voice actor from Arthas, and his voice becomes monstrously deep after he dons the Helm of Domination.
- Evil Weapon: Frostmourne is a soul stealing rune sword that was sealed away within Northrend with guardians meant to protect anyone from touching the cursed steel.
- Exact Words: When he was still human, told his men that the troll rabble destroyed their ships and stranded them in Northrend. He just didn't mention the part where he hired the mercenaries to do it in order to keep his men from returning home.
- He's clearly based on Elric and Sauron, with most of his iconic art referencing one or both. He's also one for the Witch-King of Angmar (from which the name Lich King was first derived), a former human king corrupted by evil and raises an undead army in the frozen wastes.
- With his revamped lore in Chronicles, his role as the loophole that would allow his master to escape servitude and free his people clearly invoked Kerrigan of Starcraft whose role was basically the same.
- FaceHeel Turn: The page image.
- Fallen Hero: One of gaming's most famous examples. Arthas was once a sweet and kind prince, who became the Lich King of the Scourge.
- Fatal Flaw: His self-doubt. His entire life he constantly worried about being able to protect his people and live up to the example of the great men around him. Sometimes he would take compliments as insults, and it was his self-doubt that drove the decisions he made while fighting the Scourge.
- A Father to His Men: He valued the men under his command, and would take the time to learn their names and talk to them about their day. It's a trait he kept as a death knight, as he values the Scourge the same way.
- It later gets averted when the Dreadlords and Sylvanas manage to take control of most of his warriors. Arthas then realizes that most of his new subjects would turn on him if given the chance and so starts treating them as pawns.
- Fighting from the Inside: Uther theorized that the reason Arthas held back the scourge was due to the last traces of his humanity influencing him.
- Final Boss: Of the Icecrown Citadel raid, as expected. However, he isn't actually the final boss of his own expansion; the title belongs to Halion, the herald of Deathwing.
- Four-Star Badass: You don't annihilate three of the most powerful kingdoms of a continent without being a superb tactician. You just can't. Three dragonflights, the Argent Crusade, The Knights of the Ebon Blade, The Horde and the Alliance as well as several minor factions had to gang up against this man and his endless armies. They won by the skin of their teeth.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: After putting on the Helm of Domination. Averted after the Helm shatters resulting in Arthas becoming himself again in his final moments.
- Guttural Growler: As voiced by Michael.
- Graceful Loser: When Frostmourne is shattered and he's left defenseless, Arthas doesn't scream in a rage or suffer a Villainous Breakdown. Instead he sounds more like he's lost his resolve and accepts his defeat.The Lich King: Now I stand, the lion before the lambs... and they do not fear. [beat] They cannot fear.
- A God Am I: Or damn near close to it. The background fluff calls him the 'god-like Lich King' or a 'demi-god' or even 'a being of incalculable power'. He also sees himself as a god-like being and is worshipped as such by his minions.
- The Good King:
- From the Scourge's point of view. Arthas comes across as an incredibly inspiring figure in the Frozen Throne undead campaign. Especially evident when he rescues loyalist pockets in the Capital city.Crypt Fiend: By Nerub! The rebels nearly had us, King Arthas...
Arthas: I would not leave my subjects to be slaughtered by this rabble.
Crypt Fiend: Then we will stand by you till the end!
- Overall, if you just took the time to remove the fact that everything's undead, he's a sticker for this trope. Acts as A Father to His Men (shown to mourn troops lost against the elves when they were too damaged to continue on), actually loyal followers with whom he shows a friendship towards (Kel'Thuzad and Anub'Arak).
- Possibly subverted. Anub'Arak is implied to resent him for destroying his kingdom and when you kill Anub, his death rattle is "I never thought I would be free of him." As such, he (or Ner'zul before Arthas becomes the Lich King) may be forcing his subjects to treat him as such so he can play the good, loved leader in a chilling mockery of the life he had in Lorderon. Those that are not forced are either mindless or care more about the power he grants them (such as Kel'thuzad and the other Liches). This is supported by his regular response quotes in Warcraft III - as a mortal human, he talked like a Humble Hero ("There's no need to bow"). After becoming evil, he started sounding like a Bad Boss, snapping at the player for pestering him.
- Rise of the Lich King has Arthas briefly try to style himself as a ruler like his father and treat his undead troops as his subjects. He gives up on this when he realizes that they're only shambling mockeries of life and so resolves to keep them at a distance.
- From the Scourge's point of view. Arthas comes across as an incredibly inspiring figure in the Frozen Throne undead campaign. Especially evident when he rescues loyalist pockets in the Capital city.
- Happily Married: In the Twilight of the Aspects novel, in an alternate future, Arthas is this with Jaina. They even have a son, who is ironically named Uther Menethil. In that timeline, although Arthas did not turn evil, Uther was still killed by somebody else. The child was named in Uther's honor, some time after his death.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: If the theory that he regained his humanity in his final moments is correct.
- Hero Killer: In Warcraft III, where he killed Uther, Sylvanas, Antonidas and many other distinguished personages rather handily. He regains the title in the final battle against him, where he pretty much freezes Tirion solid and kills the entire raid in one blow, before he begins raising them as his minions. It doesn't stick though, as Tirion is broken out by a Deus Ex Machina and breaks Frostmourne, which frees Terenas who resurrects the entire raid.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Inverted. Picking up a sword is the final step in this transformation from Anti-Hero to Villain Protagonist. As a good guy he wielded a hammer.
- Heroic Sacrifice: What he thought using Frostmourne would entail. He was wrong.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Arthas is the textbook example of this. In his attempt to stop the Scourge, he became what he was trying to stop.
- Holy Burns Evil: He used his Light-based spells when he fought the Scourge as a Paladin. Naturally after he became a Death Knight, he's hurt by the spells, instead. During the Battle for the Light's Hope Chapel, Tirion injured him with Light-imbued Ashbringer.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: In Halls of Reflection and in Icecrown Citadel. The only reason you win the second time is because Tirion gets an infusion of Light and shatters Frostmourne.
- Humanoid Abomination: Upon becoming the Lich King.
- Ignored Epiphany: While walking up to the Frozen Throne, Arthas has a vision of all the people close to him telling him what a mistake he's making. He still does it.
- I Let You Win: Yes, he let you all win throughout the entire expansion for his Evil Plan. He pretty much plays this also on Tirion in regards to their first meeting.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While the Culling of Stratholme is treated as an In-Universe Moral Event Horizon by many and is unquestionably extreme, Arthas' actions temporarily suppressed the Scourge and prevented one of the largest cities in Lordaeron from falling 100% to the undead. In doing so, Arthas' brought valuable time for the other factions to at least rally their troops for better defenses, even if later he would be the one to undo them. Wrath of the Lich King would also later show that once someone is infected with the plague of undeath, there is no way to remove it and that someone infected will die regardless of who attempts to heal the person. While Arthas' actions were cruel, ultimately he was right that is was the only option left to them, even if said action was the beginning of his spiral into villainy.
- Karmic Death: Held down by the souls of his victims while the heroes hack him to pieces. And after his death, his Shade minions are fulfilling their task of torturing everyone inside the Lich King's territory within the Troll God of the Afterlife Bwonsambi's Realm of Shadows but the Lich King, Ghouls & the Dark Riders of Acherus and since Arthas is none of those anymore they're now torturing him!
- Killed Off for Real: So far at least.
- The Kingslayer: Upon his return to Lordaeron after possessing Frostmourne he kills his father using that very blade.
- Light Is Not Good: As a paladin, his actions became more and more evil despite still wielding the Light. Of course, when he finally does his FaceHeel Turn, he abandons the Light entirely.
- Lightning Bruiser: In Warcraft III and its expansion — Arthas is incredibly fast and hits extremely hard even before taking into account the various Tomes of Strength and attack-power increasing items you'll find for him. Combined with his Death Coil, which is arguably the most damaging direct damage attack in the game; Arthas is adept at eliminating hero units and powerful infantry. In fact, he's so strong that he'll beat his counterpart — Illidan, roughly 90% of the time.
- Locked into Strangeness: He turned white-haired after becoming sort of undead. (Technically, Arthas never died until Icecrown Citadel of course.)
- Magic Knight: He's always been this. Turned into an evil and frankly, far more powerful one after his face heel turn.
- Master Swordsman: Once he trades his paladin hammer for Frostmorne. See Übermensch below. This guy accomplishes a lot with (unholy evil) cold steel.
- Merger of Souls: At the end of the undead campaign in Frozen Throne, he merges his soul with Ner'zhul and becomes the Lich King.
- More Than Mind Control: Zigzagged Depending on the Writer. Warcraft III establishes that Arthas lost his sanity and had his soul claimed by picking up Frostmourne, yet the Silver Hand paladins act as though he willingly betrayed his people. Rise of the Lich King clearly depicts Arthas in the moment his soul is claimed by Frostmourne, with Ner'zhul's whispers directing his action. Conversely, the same novel suggests that Arthas was capable of independent thought and rationalizing his actions as being his choice. The question of just how mind controlled Arthas was is left ambiguous, likely on purpose, but Ner'zhul seemed to deliberately give Arthas more autonomy to let him think he was in control, as opposed to the situation Sylvanas or other Forsaken were in. Wrath of the Lich King plays mind control more straight; it's theorized by Uther's spirit that what's left of Arthas' humanity kept the Scourge in check in the years between Warcraft III and the aforementioned expansion pack. When the Lich King is finally slain, Arthas visibly reverts to his original self, likely as a rest of Frostmourne shattering and releasing his soul.
- The Necrocracy: He founded one, or rather expanded it.
- The Necromancer: The most powerful and notable in the franchise. It's his power that allows for the creation of undead worgen, something that for a few reasons is all but impossible.
- Near-Villain Victory: Arthas really wasn't bluffing when he said he could kill the players at any given point. In the fight against him, he eventually gets tired of toying with your raid and kills everyone but Tirion who is trapped and forced to watch. Of course, Tirion has a Big "NO!" moment and manages to break free thanks to the power of the Light and destroy Frostmourne, which unleashes all the souls stored in it, not only reviving the raid, but also restraining Arthas so the raid can kill him.
- No Sympathy: After becoming a Death Knightnote , he retains his Deadpan Snarker side and tends to respond any What the Hell, Hero? speech with evil humor such as sarcastically commenting that Uther's being "dramatic" about Lordaeron's downfall; or unsympathetically telling Baelgun and Muradin's dwarves to get over with Muradin's death.
- Not So Different: In his many appearances throughout Northrend in Wrath of the Lich King, he points out that the adventurers sent to fight him are no so different than he was. This is especially true in the Shadowmourne quest line.
- Oh, Crap!:
Grand Apothecary Putress: Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven? Behold now, the terrible vengeance of the Forsaken!The Lich King: Sylvanas...
- At the Wrathgate when plague barrels start bombarding the battlefield, and Arthas realizes that Sylvanas had returned to claim vengeance.
The Lich King: (as he stares at the broken Frostmourne) Impossible...
- It does not take Arthas much time to realize he's in serious trouble when Tirion destroys Frostmourne.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Tirion is the older hero while Arthas is the younger villain; he also had this with Uther but Tirion succeeded in taking him down whereas Uther failed.
- One-Man Army:
- Even before he became the Lich King, when he was just a very powerful death knight. You know why none of his men came back with him? He killed and raised them all himself. Every soul that flies out of the destroyed Frostmourne is one that he is personally responsible for.
- The Icecrown Citadel encounter, despite his defeat, showcases it quite well. He's the Final Boss in Wrath of the Lich King so he can only be fought by the strongest adventurers in Northrend, and gives them one serious fight despite the fact Arthas was holding back. And when he decides it's enough, he kills the entire party in a single spell. Even with the help of the adventurers, the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade never stood a chance against the Lich King, and were it not for one unexpected event...
- The Paladin: Initially and as we all know, it did not last.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Uther said it best."Your father ruled this land for seventy years. And you've ground it to dust in a matter of days."
- Physical God: After becoming one with the Lich King, he's one of the most powerful characters in the entire series, rivaling that of minor deities. He is even called a Demigod by canon.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Illidan has mocked the Scourge for long enough. It is time we put the fear of death back in him." And what a glorious asskicking he unleashed.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: His story in Warcraft III.
- Rage Helm: The helm of the Lich King has a permanent glare.
- Reforged into a Minion: Essentially, what happened to Arthas in his ill-fated attempt to destroy the Scourge.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Towards Mal'Ganis after the Culling of Stratholme.
- Rousseau Was Right: Turned to evil because of circumstance, not birth.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: A royal who fights on the front, kills orc blademasters, tracks down demons to the uncharted north and kills them brutally.
- Sequel Hook:
- It has been confirmed by Blizzard that both Frostmourne and the body of Arthas are now missing. They also heavily implied the possibility that someone might be trying to reforge Frostmourne and bring back Arthas.
- The hook was swallowed in the upcoming Legion expansion: The one to reforge Frostmourne is the Frost Death Knight Player, as a pair of swords.
- Shoulders of Doom: With a nice big skull on the left one.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: He has skulls on his kneecaps. And his shoulders. And his gauntlets. And his chest. And his elbows. And his belt buckle.
- Slasher Smile: His default facial expression in the official art, apparently.
- Slouch of Villainy: Arthas loves to sit on his Frozen Throne like this, slouched slightly, and was once in this position for 5 years straight.
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Arthas doesn't become a true villain until Frostmourne takes his soul outright, but his actions in battling the Scourge definitely chip away at his sanity and alienate him from his peers. The Culling of Stratholme was because of his (correct) belief that they were all doomed to become zombies soon anyway, but Uther and Jaina can't stomach his decision, leaving him to bear its burden alone. Sinking the ships to entrap his men was classic Art of War strategy borne out of an understandable desperation to vanquish the Scourge and justify the sacrifices he'd already made, but it caused Arthas to sink to levels of ruthlessness and deceit that even he would've considered unthinkable earlier on. Finally, he takes Frostmourne, not because of lust for power, but because of desperation and a willingness to sacrifice himself to the sword in order to stop the scourge, but in the end, this very sacrifice undoes everything he'd been fighting for.
- Spikes of Villainy: Most notably his helmet, but the various pieces of armor he wears also has them.
- The Soulless: As a result of picking up Frostmourne.Tichondrius: The runeblade you carry was forged by the Lich King and empowered to steal souls. Yours was the first one it claimed.Arthas: Then I'll make do without one.
- The Starscream: First towards the Burning Legion, then, in the novel, Ner'zhul.
- Tin Tyrant: Oh, how he does nail the aesthetic.
- Took a Level in Badass: First when he claims Frostmourne for himself, then takes a million more when he became the Lich King, ascending to Physical God levels of power.
- Tragic Villain: For all the atrocities he wound up committing, Arthas was once a noble paladin that was corrupted in his foolhardy attempt to destroy the Scourge and save his people. He did what he could to save them, but he was unprepared for how truly horrific the Scourge was as a foe, and so he was pushed into villainy in the end.
- Übermensch: Arthas has accomplished more than any other native Azerothian. He carved a path of destruction across a continent, brought about the decimation of entire civilizations single handed, defeated god-like beings and did in fact ascend to godhood. By his actions, the very face of the world was irreversibly changed and radically so for all eternity even if Tirion did defeat him in the end. He even had a Last Man equivalent in Tirion.
- The Undead: Arthas is a very interesting take on this. There was never a point in his character arc before his final death where he was simply "dead". However, he has sustained injuries that would render a living being dead on the spot (most notably, when he cut out his own heart) and presumably his necromantic magic kept him animate. Basically Arthas was a very weird place where he managed to become undead, but never actually died in the first place, if that makes any sense.
- Ungrateful Bastard: He enlists mercenaries to help destroy the ships that his men are trying to escape to. How does he thank them? By accusing the mercenaries as the one who burnt down the ships and slaughtering them. Muradin called him out on this.
- Unwitting Pawn: Turns out he was one to the Jailer, although Arthas wasn't entirely aware of that fact at the time, since the Helm of Domination allows the Lich King to only glimpse into parts of the Shadowlands; he mostly used undead Val'kyr to enforce his own will in that realm. He also supplied the Jailer with his most powerful ally, Sylvanas, whom Arthas initially raised out of spite, only for her to break free later on, then deal heavy losses to his army, and then kick his successor's ass later on and finally destroy the Helm of Domination, while Arthas himself was cast out to the Maw to be tormented by Jailer's servants for all eternity after his demise. Yogg-Saron even lampshades this by saying that 'no king rules forever, only death is eternal'.
- Villainous Friendship: With Kel'thuzad. He even calls him a loyal friend at one point.
- Villainous Breakdown: A subtle one; before Tirion breaks out and shatters his blade he's laughing maniacally; afterwards he's more subdued first saying "Impossible" then calmly saying that they don't fear him despite how he threatened and to destroy them. It's subtle but there.
- Because one of Arthas's main tools as the Lich King was fear, once he realized that the player characters and Tirion don't fear him (indeed cannot fear him), even in the face of defeat, he realized he was screwed from the start.
- Villain Protagonist: Gets two whole campaigns centered around him in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, though the first one actually covers his Protagonist Journeyto Villain, and a third in the expansion The Frozen Throne.
- Voice of the Legion: After becoming the Lich King.
- Warrior Prince: Arthas tended to fight on the front lines with his troops far more often than any Prince rationally had the right to...
- Warrior Monk: This used to be his job. Up until he became the God of his own religion.
- We Have Reserves: As the Lich King, he's willing to sacrifice a lot of Death Knights of Acherus to draw out Tirion so he can kill the Paladin himself. It almost worked if not for Darion's HeelFace Turn.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: At first.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Uther and Jaina's reaction to his choice at Stratholme.
- White Hair, Black Heart: After becoming a Death Knight, Arthas' golden locks turned pure white, reflecting his dead heart.
- Worthy Opponent: Illidan regards him as one. When they first met, he is surprised to find Arthas is his match as a combatant and actually finds himself struggling to keep up with him; where Arthas has no such trouble. Then again Illidan had been imprisoned and probably hasn't had a chance to practice and maintain his fighting skills for thousands of years.Illidan: We could go on fighting like this forever... what is it you truly want?
- You Have Failed Me: Several times, such as to Drakuru.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Frostmourne eats at the soul of anyone it touches, mostly via killing them, but even wielding the blade is said to leave one with their soul trapped. At times the spirits appear from the blade to speak to the living or pester Arthas.
High Ranking Scourge
Archlich of Naxxramas
Class: Lich (former Necromancer)
Voiced by: Michael McConnohie
A powerful necromancer in life, Kel'Thuzad was resurrected in the energies of the Sunwell by Arthas shortly after the latter's FaceHeel Turn. With the help of the Scourge forces, he was able to summon Archimonde into Azeroth via portal magic; the Eredar's ensuing rampage destroyed the city of Dalaran and culminated in the loss of the World Tree. Despite the defeat of the Burning Legion (and by proxy, the Scourge), Kel'Thuzad was not killed; rather, he accompanied Arthas on his journey to Northrend, where the prince eventually became the Lich King and appointed Kel'Thuzad as his right hand lich. He ruled the necropolis of Naxxramas, which terrorized both the Plaguelands and Northrend, though he felt defeat at the hands of adventurers. Yet, his phylactery was never found during his fall, implying he may still be around...
- Actually Pretty Funny: Considers Kael'thas's crush on the much younger Jaina this.
- Affably Evil: He's surprisingly polite in all of his dealings, even with his enemies. Much more so after he is raised as a lich, and takes on a mentoring role to Arthas. He even waves off Arthas killing him.
- An Ice Person: Most of his arsenal is built around frost-based magic.
- The Archmage: He was one of the top mages in Dalaran in life.
- Badass Baritone: Yup, and echoes, too, after he becomes a lich.
- Back from the Dead: Twice. His resurrection as a lich was the first. Before the Burning Crusade, however, he was the final boss of the original Naxxramas instance; after being killed by the players, his phylactery was turned in to an Argent Dawn NPC. However, this NPC turned out to be a Smug Snake who sold the phylactery back to the Lich King in exchange for lichhood himself. One expansion later, Kel'Thuzad was back.
- Beard of Evil: While alive.
- Berserk Button: That adorable cat wandering around the Naxxramas foyer? Don't mess with it.
- Came Back Strong: Goes from an over glorified Necromancer Giant Mook to a Lich Hero, with the best base-razing power in the entire game.
- Camp Gay: In the Arthas novel, Kel'Thuzad is... prissy.
- Casting a Shadow: As would be expected.
- Cuteness Proximity: The deepest, darkest depths of Naxxramas are home to...his adorable pet kitten, Mr. Bigglesworth.
- Deadpan Snarker: This exchange, while observing Sylvanas who is still determined to stop Arthas.Sylvanas: [to Arthas] Did you forget about us, wretches!?
Kel'Thuzad: She is persistent. [amused] Reminds me of you, death knight.
Arthas: [annoyed] Shut up, you damned ghost.
- Dem Bones: Par for the course for a lich.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When you kill his Right-Hand Cat, he swears vengeance on you. Urban legend has it that this activates Naxxramas' hardmodes, but this has no effect on the instance. One interpretation of it is that if groups don't heed the advice to not kill the cat, they most likely won't follow strategies on the boss fights.
- The Dragon:
- One of two, along with Anub'arak, to Arthas' Big Bad. In World of Warcraft, Anub'arak is the significantly less powerful of the two, making Kel'Thuzad the clear Dragon. Like Kel'thuzad before him, Anub'arak has now been brought back from the dead again, as a harder end game boss than the second incarnation of Kel'thuzad, but easier than the first incarnation.
- He also has Sapphiron, an undead wyrm which is his dragon.
- Easily Forgiven: Arthas is actually surprised that Kel'Thuzad holds him no ill will for the fact that Arthas was the one who originally killed him. Justified in that Kel'Thuzad knew ahead of time that it would happen.
- Evil Genius: Back when Ner'Zhul was the Big Bad and Arthas was The Dragon, he had this role.
- Evil Old Folks: Was pretty up there in years before he died.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Courtesy of voice actor Michael McConnohie.
- The Exile: He was exiled from Dalaran after showing curiosity in necromancy.
- FaceHeel Turn: Before Warcraft III, he was a human mage of Kirin Tor.
- Final Boss: Of Naxxramas, and the last boss of pre-expansion World of Warcraft in the very same dungeon.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Among the Kirin Tor when he was human, as a result of his idea to study Necromancy to fight it crossing the Moral Event Horizon and being seen as a loner.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: At least gameplay-wise, as noted under Came Back Strong above, he was a Giant Mook until resurrected and transformed into a Lich Hero, with the best base-razing power in the entire game. Averted story-wise, as he was never a "nobody" per se.
- Fun Size: The Lil' Phylactery/Lil' K.T..
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Implied to be the case when Kel'Thuzad was just human, due to his coin and his social status.
- Inferred Survival: When Kel'Thuzad is defeated in Wrath of the Lich King, players don't find his phylactery like they did when he was defeated for the first time. Since liches can't be killed permanently unless their phylactery is destroyed (a point that was firmly established in the game), Kel'thuzad could potentially return again someday.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: A very unusual example in that Kel'Thuzad actually dies before he becomes Arthas' mentor - by his pupil's own hand! Once Arthas resurrects Kel'Thuzad into undeath he becomes The Mentor properly and waves off Arthas killing him.
- More Than Mind Control: After he becomes undead, a lich to be exact, you may argue that he, just like many other undeads, is under the Lich King's mind control. However, you can't forget that while he was still alive, he is the one who found Cult of The Damned and already worshiping the Lich King since then. He also follows Arthas completely even when he loses control over weaker minions like Slyvanas and the majority of the undead, implying genuine loyalty.
- Mundane Wish: You can find Kel'Thuzad's coin in Dalaran fountain, from when he used to be human. Rather tragically, all he wished for was a hug.Kel'Thuzad's Gold Coin: Sometimes... I wish someone would come along and just give me a big, long hug.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning:Kel'Thuzad: [towards Arthas] I told you my death would mean little.
- The Necromancer: His old job before he took it to even higher levels when he became a Lich.
- Ominous Floating Castle: Naxxramas.
- Power Echoes: How he speaks as a Lich.
- Power Floats: The only time he touches the ground is when he's dead.
- Put on a Bus: Word of God states that after his defeat in Wrath of the Lich King, Kel'Thuzad's soul was 'lost to the Shadowlands,' rendering him unable to reform, at least for now.
- Religion of Evil: Started the Cult of the Damned back when he was alive.
- Right-Hand Cat: Mr. Bigglesworth.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Evil vs. Evil example towards a Blackrock orc blademaster.Blackrock Orc Blademaster: We orcs are the true servants of the Burning Legion! These mindless undead are weak... impure!
Kel'Thuzad: Your people failed their task, savage. You, too, must be scourged from the world!
- Spirit Advisor: Before his resurrection, he made several appearances to Arthas as a ghost, instructing him on how best to proceed (which, naturally, included bringing him back).
- Undying Loyalty: A very literal case of this, but it's still just as true. Kel'Thuzad is one of Arthas' most powerful and independent minions, and there's definitely a reason Arthas trusts him with such power and agency. Kel'Thuzad is devoutly loyal to his king, to the point that the 3 dreadlord brothers instantly dismiss him as a potential ally for their coup because of this. He also refuses to join the Forsaken.
- Villainous Friendship: With Arthas. Arthas even calls him a loyal friend after Kel'Thuzad saves him from Sylvanas.
- Wizard Beard: While alive at least.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In Reign of Chaos' Undead Campaign, Kel'Thuzad believes this is Burning Legion's view on orcs. And it later gets funny when in Orc Campaign, we are shown that Archimonde along with his two Dragons, Tichondrius and especially Mannoroth, seriously considered to re-recruit the orcs.
- The Undead: Becomes undead when raised as a powerful Lich.
The Traitor King
Class: Crypt Lord
Voiced by: Steve Blum (Warcraft III), Frank Welker (World of Warcraft), Darin De Paul (Heroes of the Storm)
Anub'Arak is the former king of Azjol-Nerub, who was killed and raised by the Scourge. The big crypt lord is now called a "Traitor King" by the surviving Nerubians, who wish to see him destroyed. He met up with Arthas on Northrend, who, alone and severely weakened, gladly accepted Anub'Arak's help.
- Affably Evil: Arguably the least overtly evil character, in Frozen Throne.
- An Ice Person: In Trial of the Crusader.
- Badass Baritone / Evil Sounds Deep: In The Frozen Throne.
- Badass Boast: One of his standard lines in The Frozen Throne:Anub'Arak: My might cannot be matched!
- Brainwashed and Crazy:
- You can't see it in Frozen Throne because he seems entirely loyal to Arthas, but his Last Words in Wrath of the Lich King clearly show it.Anub'Arak: RAAAAAAGH! Never thought... I would be free of him...
- His third death quote however, is different, which shows either that he was faking disloyalty or that he was just a husk then.Anub'Arak: I have failed you, Master!
- You can't see it in Frozen Throne because he seems entirely loyal to Arthas, but his Last Words in Wrath of the Lich King clearly show it.
- The Big Guy: In the undead campaign of Frozen Throne.
- The Brute: Was this when while Ner'Zhul was Big Bad and Arthas was The Dragon. When Arthas got a promotion, so did he.
- Deal with the Devil: Subverted: Kel'Thuzad had guessed this was how he'd become a Crypt Lord, to which he replied "'Agreed' implies choice."
- Demoted to Extra:
- His first appearance in Wrath of the Lich King was as a level 74 dungeon boss, which outraged many players. Then the Argent Coliseum was completed, and he turned up again, just a wee bit harder.
- This has mostly to do with Blizzard scrapping the idea of Azjol-Nerub as an entire underground zone.
- Though Blizzard didn't completely forget him, as he is featured in Heroes of the Storm before other Scourge more influental members like Kel'Thuzad.
- The Dragon: Along with Kel'Thuzad he acts as this to Arthas. He used to be a much more important character, then Azjol-Nerub got scrapped and turned into a bunch of dungeons.
- Dying as Yourself: Possibly subverted. His second death happens with him saying "I thought I'd never be free of him". When he actually dies after that, he doesn't act as such.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In Frozen Throne, Anub'arak is horrified by the Faceless Ones and the Forgotten One.
- The Good King: Some surviving nerubians imply that he was this in life. At the very least we know that he led the nerubians in the War of the Spider until he was slain and raised into undeath as one of the Lich King's lieutenants.
- Killed Off for Real: He is killed by the Crusaders and the Lich King doesn´t bring him back.
- Mighty Glacier: His overall fighting style as far back as his first appearance in Warcraft III. He's huge, slow and lumbering but can take immense amounts of punishment in both Warcraft III and World of Warcraft.
- The Quisling: He isn't one, but the living Nerubians call him the Traitor King even though he didn't join the Scourge willingly.
- The Swarm: His ultimate attack.
- The Undead: Implied to be raised from death, instead of willingly joining as with Kel'thuzad, or being tricked into it, as with Arthas.
Once an esteemed magister, Dar'Khan Drathir would become one of Quel'Thalas' greatest traitors. His limitless ambition, combined with his egotistical mindset, made him an easy pawn for the forces of the Lich King. Empowered by the treacherous Prince Arthas himself, Dar'Khan opened the way for the Scourge to enter Quel'Thalas and ravage the land in their march to the Sunwell.
Though he was killed at some point after the fall of Quel'Thalas, Dar'Khan has been resurrected by the Lich King and now resides at the fortress of Deatholme in the southern Ghostlands, where he commands the Scourge in Quel'Thalas.
- Arch-Enemy: Lor'themar considers him one, but the feeling is not mutual.
- Asshole Victim: He is killed at least two times, and every time it was well-deserved. Even Sylvanas felt joy at seeing Arthas killing him.
- Back from the Dead: Multiple times. First he was killed by Arthas and brought back as an undead, and then he recovers from Anveena burning him to ashes and then Lor'themar causing him to crumble to dust without explanation. It's only when the player character kills him that he finally stays dead.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He sees himself as brilliant and powerful, but all he achieved was thanks to the powers provided by Arthas or the manipulation of others. Alone, without any support, he is pretty much defenseless.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: First he betrayed his homeland, then he tried to betray Arthas!
- Dirty Coward: His reason for betraying his homeland.
- Dragon Rider: Rides some dragon-like creature akin to the ones ridden by the Nazgûl in The Lord of the Rings.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Despite his contributions to the Sunwell, he was not rewarded for his efforts. As such, he sought to reward himself for what he considered to be good work. Given his self-absorbed and greedy nature, it could be more of he wasn't rewarded as much as he wanted.
- Fingore: In the novel Dragon Hunt, his index finger — with the ring on it — is removed from the rest of his hand. But it seems to have reappeared somehow when we next see him.
- Hate Sink: He is one of the most hated characters in Warcraft, even among the Scourge. For example: Arthas had his soul taken by Frostmourne and is still quite popular by the fans; Kel'Thuzad was exiled from Dalaran and possesses some Evil Virtues especially Loyalty; Anub'arak, Lana'thel and others are bound by the Lich King's will; Drakuru is quite affable towards the adventurers... Dar'Khan however lacks both redeeming traits and an excuse.
- Karmic Death: Killed twice thanks to the power of the Sunwell, which he sought to take for himself.
- Killed Off for Real: Quite unceremoniously, by the player.
- The Necromancer: He is capable of raising the dead.
- Nice Hat: A very nice hat indeed!
- Off with His Head!: The players must bring his head to the regent of Quel'Thalas in World of Warcraft The Burning Crusade.
- Power of the Void: His legacy returns in Legion where he turns out he was researching the void, discovering the rift that would later lead to the void elves.
- The Quisling: Greedy for power, Dar'Khan gladly doomed his entire race for what the Lich King promised him.
- Remember the New Guy?: A very significant one, essentially a flat-out Retcon; Dar'khan was never mentioned in Warcraft III. However, in The Sunwell Trilogy and The Burning Crusade, it's stated that not only was Dar'khan a loyal servant of Arthas' during the invasion of Quel'thalas, but was integral in helping him invade Silvermoon and reach the Sunwell.
- Ring of Power: Uses it to control the bands on Kalec and Anveena's necks.
- Sissy Villain: Look at him.
- Smug Snake: He has quite a huge ego and is quite arrogant and boastful.
- The Starscream: To Arthas, he doesn't get much further than boasting about it.
- Starter Villain: To Blood Elves PCs; as the leader of the Scourge in what remains of Quel'Thalas, he is the first major villain to face for them, and the last one to face before the Blood Elves officially join the Horde.
- Stripped to the Bone: Yup◊, although he's later reanimated as undead.
- The Undead: Eventually. Not that it does him much good in the long run.
- 0% Approval Rate: Nobody that knows who he is likes him. He is the single most hated individual among elves, forever remembered as the traitor that led to the destruction of Quel'thalas. It is also implied in Arthas Rise of the Lich King that Arthas himself feels disgusted at him.
Voiced by: Jessica Straus
Formerly a High Elf warrior who survived the battle of Silvermoon, now an undead Blood Elf and the leader of the San'layn. She was a warrior of Quel'thalas and part of Kael's forces that fought to destroy the Frozen Throne at Icecrown. After Illidan's defeat, she was one of the survivors hunted down personally by the Lich King. Despite her efforts, Lana'thel was defeated and raised as an undead. The Lich King made her Blood-Queen Lana'thel, leader of the San'layn and put her in charge of overseeing Scourge operations across Azeroth.
- Action Girl: In life and on into undeath.
- Action Mom: Revealed as this in Legion. In the Legion version of the Violet Hold dungeon, one of the prisoners is Blood Princess Thal'ena, who is Lana'thel's daughter. Thal'ena also uses the same in-game model as her mother.
- Affably Evil: The least overtly evil of the bosses in the Icecrown Raid; Lana'thel's dialogue implies she cares for those under her command (for instance, referring to her lieutenants as 'brothers' and converted player characters as '[her] precious one'). There's also how she talks with the forces around Quel'delar and lets them live when she's done.
- Bare Your Midriff: Her look as leader of the San'layn.
- The Baroness: Or more specifically, Blood Queen.
- Blood Magic: Several blood-based powers such as Vampiric Draining.
- Braids of Action: Wears these.
- Casting a Shadow: Part of her magic arsenal.
- Co-Dragons: With Anub'arak and Kel'thuzad.
- Cool Sword: She wielded Quel'Delar during the campaign in Northrend.
- Drop the Hammer: Wields a mace with a green crystal head in Icecrown.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Her skin became deathly pale after becoming undead.
- High Collar of Doom: How she keeps up that absurdly huge collar no one knows.
- Infinity -1 Sword: Quel'Delar was the best sword available outside of raiding or PvP during Wrath of the Lich King
- Kiss of the Vampire: One of her attacks, which she can use to take control of players by turning them.
- Lady in Red: Clad in crimson colors, check. Seductive towards the attacking players, check.
- Monster Progenitor: Implied to be the first of the San'Layn. At least she is the only one seen turning others into San'Layn.
- Morality Chain: Quel'delar was hers, which is why she shattered it and threw it away.
- My Greatest Failure: Though loyal to the Lich King, she once remembered her past life and regretted serving him.
- Offing the Offspring: The first Blood Elf that Lana'thel turned into a San'layn was her daughter, Thal'ena.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The closest this setting gets to vampires.
- Winged Humanoid: She has grown huge bat-like wings. How she got them is unknown, but she can use them to fly.
- The Vamp: Figuratively and literally.
Voiced by: Michael McConnohie (Wrath of the Lich King), David Shaughnessy (Legion)
Ymiron is the vrykul king of Northrend. When the vrykul children started being born as smaller and weaker, Ymiron saw it as a sign that they had been abandoned by the titans and their watchers, declaring that the vrykul would now worship him as a god. He also ordered all of the "deformed" children to be killed, but their parents instead helped them flee south, where they would eventually become humans. For unknown reasons, the vrykul later went into a state of deep slumber for thousands of years.
When the Lich King arrived to take over Northrend, he awakened Ymiron and his slumbering people, who turned towards worshipping him as their new Death God. Ymiron proved himself to the Lich King and was turned undead, but was killed by adventurers in Utgarde Pinnacle. As a result of denouncing the titan keepers and his dark pact with the Lich King, he was denied entry into the Halls of Valor and instead condemned to Helheim. In Legion he is fought once again by players in the Maw of Souls dungeon. Warrior players who beat him forcibly recruit him as an unwilling champion for their order hall.
- A God Am I: Ymiron denounced the gods of his people in favor of having them worship him as a god. However he abandons it after the Lich King strolls in and awakens him, instead turning towards worshipping his new Death God.
- Beard of Barbarism: Fitting the king of the vrykul, which are essentially vikings, Ymiron keeps his red beard in three long braids.
- BFS: In Utgarde he wields a large sword with two blades. In Maw of Souls he instead wields a sword seemingly made of bones.
- Big Fancy Castle: His seat of power is the absolutely massive and towering castle known as Utgarde Keep.
- Blow You Away: Blasts away players with the frozen winds of Northrend in the Maw of Souls dungeon.
- Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Witness his on-click quotes in the Warrior order hall, where he goes into a rant censored with bleeps. And yes it made it from beta to live.
- Cool Helmet: Wears a massive horned helmet.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: It is implied by the dungeon journal and a now removed quest that he actually loves his wife Queen Angerboda, as he seeks revenge for her death and keeps one of her lockets as a reminder of her. She in return refers to him as "my love".
- Horny Vikings: Ymiron is the king of the vrykul, which are essentially half-giant vikings, and he also has the biggest horned helmet of them all.
- Ironic Hell: Or Ironic Heaven. After serving the Lich King and later Helya, he is forced into eternal servitude as one of the Valajar, making him a slave in heaven instead of the ruler he was and in service to gods he had spurned.
- Jerkass: Ymiron is arrogant, seems to hate almost everybody he speaks to, and is probably the single most foul-mouthed character in the game.
- Magic Knight: As a result of his pact with the Lich King, Ymiron assaults players with both dark magic and brute force.
- Nay-Theist: Ymiron blamed the absent titans and/or Keepers for the Curse of Flesh, not knowing that it was actually the work of the Old Gods. As such, he outlawed their worship, on the grounds that they were negligent at best and undeserving of respect.
- Sir Swearsalot: Swearing in Warcraft tends to be relatively light, but Ymiron stands out by spitting curses whenever he gets the chance and even having an on-click quote that is CENSORED.
- Undeathly Pallor: Averted at first; being undead courtesy of the Lich King didn't seem to affect his appearance at all. When you encounter his damned spirit in the Maw of Souls however, it is played straight.
- Vocal Evolution: With his new voice in Legion, he gains a heavy faux-Scandinavian-ish accent that there wasn't a hint of back in Wrath.
Class: Death Knight
An ice troll encountered by the players, having been captured by the companions of Budd Nedreck. He makes a deal with the player that is supposed to ensure that Drak'tharon Keep remains unbreached and Zul'Drak safe from the Scourge. In reality, he tricks the player into lowering Drak'tharon Keep's defenses, allowing the Scourge to swarm over it. He is subsequently placed in charge of subjugating the rest of Zul'Drak for the Scourge and tries to forcibly convert the player to help in this. The player and the Knights of the Ebon Blade exploit this to infiltrate his forces and sabotage his plans, culminating in his death at the hands of the Lich King himself.
- Affably Evil: He is quite amiable and friendly with the player, even if he tricked them into lowering Zul'drak's outer defenses. He even offers the player to share in his reward and lets them go when they refuse. Even when he later tries to forcibly convert them to his cause, he still considers them a friend and only begins to rail against them angrily when they betray him.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: His promotion from the Lich King makes him far too strong for the players to defeat on their own, and lets him beat down his own super-weapons with relative ease.
- Blood Oath: His first interaction with the player is to declare a truce, with both drawing blood from their palms and shaking on it. Indeed, he never goes out of his way to harm the player, considering his use of the conversion choker to be like an invitation, until the trap is sprung on him.
- Casting a Shadow: Utilizes shadowbolts as part of his arsenal after the Lich King grants him his reward.
- The Chessmaster: He quite cleverly manipulates the player into aiding the Scourge's cause by lowering the outer defenses of Zul'drak, in the belief it'd help strengthen them instead.
- Et Tu, Brute?: He takes your betrayal very badly.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: When the player meets him, he's just another troll that's been rounded up by Budd's gang to be sold for his information. Some smooth talk later, and he is a powerful lieutenant of the Lich King who personally is responsible for the fall of the Drakkari civilization.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He had experimented on captured trolls, injecting them with blight essence until they swelled into hulking monstrosities, and planned to unleash them on the Drakkari resistance. The player ultimately brings him down using these behemoths against him.
- Killed Off for Real: The Lich King himself kills him and doesn't raise his remains.
- Large and in Charge: Turns quite huge after being granted his reward by the Lich King.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Blown up this way by the Lich King.
- Off with His Head!: The Lich King disposes of him this way.
- Poisonous Person: Acts alot like a Unholy Death Knight, focusing on summoning Undead, a Ghoul as a permanent indivual companion (That's you) and using plagues as his favored weapon.
- The Quisling: Betrayed his people to the Scourge and takes up a high position among them to subjugate the rest of his homeland.
- Villainous Breakdown: Takes the player's betrayal of him quite badly.
- Villainous Friendship: He thinks you and he have this going on. When the truth is revealed, he reacts badly.
- You Have Failed Me: The Lich King explicitly says this before he kills him.
Archmage Arugal is a former mage of Dalaran who lived within the ruins of Shadowfang Keep and was later raised from the dead. He is most notorious for having unleashed the worgen once more unto the world by freeing them from the Emerald Dream.
Originally a respected patriot of Gilneas and a royal archmage, Arugal eventually became a member of the Kirin Tor of Dalaran. However, after the Scourge destroyed Dalaran and most of its populace, he returned to Gilneas. When the Scourge reached the outskirts of Gilneas, Arugal was called by King Genn Greymane to help him find a way to protect his kingdom. Arugal told him about the worgen, a mysterious race he had learned about, which could be summoned to help them. He warned Genn about the worgen's strength and ferocity, but the king decided to enlist their help. Using Ur's research, Arugal summoned worgen to attack the undead that attempted to pass the wall. Though they were successful in killing the Scourge, they later turned their rage against the Gilnean soldiers, turning some of them into worgen. This started spreading the worgen curse all through Gilneas.
Some worgen later sieged the keep of the noble Baron Silverlaine. Situated above the tiny hamlet of Pyrewood Village, the keep quickly fell into shadow and ruin. Driven mad with guilt, Arugal adopted the worgen as his children and retreated to the newly dubbed 'Shadowfang Keep'. Although slain and beheaded, in Wrath of the Lich King he is resurrected as the Shade of Arugal by Darkfallen Princes, where he serves as the leader of a new Wolf Cult in Grizzly Hills.
- Arc Villain: He serves as the antagonist of Silverpine Forest/Shadowfang Keep as well as the final boss of Grizzly Hills.
- The Archmage: He was the Arch-mage of Gilneas, and is fairly powerful.
- Off with His Head!: The original quest to kill him results in his beheading.
- One Name Only: Arugal is his only known name.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: He returns in Wrath as the Shade of Arugal.
- Sanity Slippage: After he lost control of the worgen, he snapped and embraced them as his children.
- Villainous Legacy: Although a fairly minor character, the effects of his actions echo across Warcraft, being responsible for the Worgen and the curse of Gilneas, leading to his country's fall and countrymen rejoining the alliance.
A lich in the Scourge army. Unlike the rest of the liches, loyal to Ner'zhul, Winterchill is fanatically loyal to the Burning Legion and participates in the Battle of Mount Hyjal.
- Co-Dragons: To Archimonde, alongside the Pit Lord Azgalor and the Dreadlord Anetheron.
- Color Motifs: His model has a reddish tint in the final level of Warcraft III, which distinguishes him from other Lich units. He also has the Finger of Death One-Hit Kill power.
- Characterization Marches On: In World of Warcraft he has the same model as other Liches.
- Undying Loyalty: To the Burning Legion.