"I have no desire to march through the streets with an axe or a hammer, meeting my foes in the flesh...I shall meet them in spirit and crush them from afar, devouring them by the hundreds and the thousands...and I shall...wipe this world clean, to remake it in my own image!"
—Gul'Dan to Cho'Gall, Tides of Darkness
Whether in the original games, World of Warcraft (WoW), or the Warcraft Expanded Universe, Azeroth has played host to many characters. Here are the most vile.
All spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
- Across three different timelines, Gul'dan has proved that he will always be a heartless, ambitious, and power-hungry monster.
- The first Big Bad, Gul'dan is a power-hungry orc who voluntarily corrupted his people into a bloodthirsty horde which he secretly controls, planned the Draenei Genocide and brought the orcs into Azeroth so they could trigger two wars. He also created Garona as a "breeding experiment" between an orc soldier and a female Draenei prisoner, after which she was magically aged, tortured and mind controlled into becoming his personal assassin. Finally, he betrayed the Horde to follow his own goals, which caused the defeat of the orcs. Even after his death his evil lingered around his skull, corrupting everything around it.
- Gul'dan from the alternate universe Draenor matches his main timeline counterpart for wickedness. While he initially fails to get his fellow orcs to drink the demon blood, Gul'dan quickly makes up for failure by serving as the Burning Legion's vanguard. He sends Cho'gall to Oshu'gun to subjugate the Naaru there, sends Teron'gor to Auchindoun to empower the Shadow Council by devouring the souls of dead Draenei, and tries himself to cause a volcano to erupt in Shadowmoon Valley. As the Iron Horde falls apart, he takes advantage by finally corrupting his people like his prime counterpart. Victorious at last, Gul'dan tries to deliver the deathblow to Draenor by destroying its elements with the Cipher of Damnation and siphons the world's ley lines—like power lines, only with magical energy instead of electricity—to power a new portal to allow the Legion to arrive in all its might. After the Legion's invasion of Draenor fails, Gul'dan is forcibly sent to Azeroth, whereupon he opens a portal in the tomb of Sargeras and causes a massive invasion by the Legion which claims the lives of many innocent people, some of whom die directly at Gul'dan's hands. Finally, after blackmailing the Nightborne into joining the Legion, Gul'dan tries to summon Sargeras into the world using the combined powers of the Nightwell and Illidan Stormrage's body before finally dying at the hands of a revived Illidan. Regardless of the circumstances provided by a new timeline, Gul'dan proves that he will always be a heartless monster willing to sacrifice everything to gain power.
- In the 2016 live-action film, Gul'dan is a ruthless orc warlock who reigns over the Horde with an iron fist. Addicted to dark fel magic, Gul'dan seeks to expand the Horde into the world of Azeroth to conquer. Opening a portal by draining the lives of hundreds of innocent Draenei prisoners, he sends the Horde out to conquer and destroy all in its path. Eventually it is revealed that Draenor was rendered a dying world by Gul'dan's own abuse of the fel, and Gul'dan has zero compunction about doing the same to Azeroth. Rounding up human captives to empower his magic, Gul'dan tortures one by slowly draining his life, plotting to use the rest to open up the portal for the rest of the Horde. When the honorable chieftain Durotan tries to stand against Gul'dan, Gul'dan orders his clan slaughtered, including Durotan's baby son. When Durotan challenges Gul'dan to a duel, Gul'dan cheats to win by using his magic to drain Durotan's life after he finds himself without the advantage and promptly murders several orcs when they turn from him in disgust. Even at the end, Gul'dan demonstrates he has no loyalty to his people or their traditions when he orders the heroic Anduin Lothar killed after Lothar defeats Gul'dan right-hand orc Blackhand in fair combat. Greedy, power-hungry, and insatiable in his desires, Gul'dan will happily condemn any world to destruction as long as he can fuel his addiction to the fel.
- Archimonde the Defiler is the supreme commander of the Burning Legion and the right hand of the Dark Titan Sargeras. Archimonde began his rise to power by betraying his master and torturously imprisoning his soul in his skull for millennia, and later rose to become one of the masters of the Eredar alongside Kil'jaeden and Velen. Behind his comrade's backs, he sold out his people and forged a pact with Sargeras to turn them into the Man'ari, the overlords of the Legion. As their commander, Archimonde masterminded the destruction of countless worlds and the genocide of billions before setting his sights on the world of Azeroth. His first invasion during the War of the Ancients led to the deaths of most of the wild gods and the near-extinction of the night elven race, and his second attempt sparked the Third War and the destruction of Dalaran and the remaining human kingdoms in Lordaeron. He ultimately sought to devour the power of World Tree of Azeroth to overthrow Sargeras and become the Legion's new master. Never shown to have his master's intentions or Kil'jaeden's regrets, Archimonde was the greatest monster in all the Legion.
- Azshara, the Light of Lights, is the former ancient queen of the Night Elves who, in her endless goal to obtain power and perfection, nearly led all of Azeroth to total ruin. 10,000 years ago, Azshara used her magic to enthrall her people to love her without question while also seeking to purify the world of any she deemed imperfect, who included all but herself and her Highborne servants. While attempting to enact this purification with the power of the Well of Eternity, she caught the attention of Sargeras, creator of the omnicidal Burning Legion. When he offered to aid in her goal in exchange for allowing his armies to rampage over Azeroth, Azshara agreed without question. Her actions to satisfy her own limitless vanity led to the War of the Ancients, the deaths of countless innocents, and the breaking of the entire world. Azshara then makes a deal with the Old Gods, who turn her and her servants into the first naga. As their Empress, Azshara can be held directly responsible for every atrocity committed by the naga throughout the franchise.
- Blackhand, former chieftain of the Blackrock Clan and the first Warchief of the Horde, is an ambitious brute well known for his tactical brilliance and conquest of numerous enemies. Allying with Gul'dan, the warlock stroking Blackhand's ego and hunger for power, the Warchief magically ages his children to make them weapons for his new horde and stamps out all dissent with violence. Leading the genocide of the Draeni people of Draenor, Blackhand happily allows Gul'dan's twisted rape and breeding experiments with captive Draeni women. Upon discovering Azeroth, Blackhand initiates a mass slaughter of human villages with intent to butcher and enslave every human on Azeroth. Caring nothing for his own race and family, Blackhand has the orcs drink the blood of Mannoroth to make them the servants of demons and even orders his own daughter Griselda murdered when she flees the Horde.
- Cho'gall, the mad prophet of the Twilight's Hammer cult, serves the Old Gods to bring the Void's apocalyptic designs to fruition. Born in the ogre capitol of Highmaul, Cho'gall's ambition led to his exile where he learned fel magic from Gul'dan and void magic from the pale orcs. Learning of the Hour of Twilight, Cho'gall made fulfilling this apocalyptic prophecy his life's work, and formed the Twilight's Hammer clan to make it a reality. He would go on to raze Highmaul and slaughter its people and aid the Horde in their genocidal conquest in the First and Second Wars. Many years later, he attempted to resurrect the Old God C'thun by sacrificing the young half-orc Med'an, and enslaved his mother Garona and used her to reignite full scale war between the Horde and Alliance. His final attempts at fulfilling the Hour of Twilight involved healing a wounded Deathwing and using the fallen Aspect to ignite the Cataclysm, and ultimately put Azeroth within a inch of annihilation.
- Deathwing the Destroyer was once the noble Neltharion until he swore allegiance to the Old Gods and developed a genocidal hatred towards all life. One of Azeroth's most ancient villains, Deathwing would taint his own descendants in his Black Dragonflight and felt no pity or remorse as he began to replace his dying kin with his own twisted Twilight Dragonflight. In ancient days, Deathwing masterminded the near-extinction of the other Dragonflights and all but annihilated the Blues when he tricked their Aspects into sealing their power into the Dragon Soul before turning that power against them. Using his monstrous molten body, Deathwing painfully raped all but one of his consorts to death, and later had his enemy Alexstrasza raped to produce children he would corrupt and enslave. In modern times, Deathwing plotted to usher in his dark masters by igniting the Cataclysm to cause untold devastation to the world's mortal civilizations until he was ultimately defeated by his fellow Dragon Aspects. In a last suicidal charge, Deathwing traveled to the Maelstrom to usher in a final apocalypse to bring all of Azeroth with him into oblivion.
- Kargath Bladefist is the founder and leader of the Shattered Hand clan whose insatiable love of pain created one of the cruelest orcs in existence. Kargath led his clan to torture new recruits either to death or until they began to enjoy the suffering, and he would gleefully torture victims by flaying, burning, or having them eaten alive, all the while injecting them with poisons that kept them conscious and aware for as long as possible. Caring nothing for the orcs, Kargath became the only non-warlock to join Gul'dan's Shadow Council and sell out his race into enslavement to the Burning Legion. Reveling in the Old Horde's cruelties, Kargath successfully led the genocide of the arakkoa save for a handful of outcasts, and stayed behind on Draenor to keep the more savage clans in line. Betraying master after master over the following decades, Kargath ultimately settled on following Illidan Stormrage in exchange for ruling over the Fel Horde and further corrupting the last of his race to satiate his never-ending sadism.
- Nekros Skullcrusher is a bitter warlock and the second-in-command of the Dragonmaw clan. Entrusted with the Demon Soul, Nekros led the capture of Dragon Queen Alexstrasza, torturing her physically and psychologically with the artifact. Enslaving her and her last consort, Nekros forces them to mate and breed countless eggs. Aging the baby dragons into weapons, Nekros uses them as mounts for the orcs and ultimately Cannon Fodder, having them slaughtered when injured. Forcing Alexstrasza's compliance by destroying her eggs if she refuses, Nekros plans to use her to breed a new force so the Dragonmaw clan might fight to the absolute last.
- N'Zoth, lord of Ny'alotha, is the weakest of the four Old Gods who arrived on Azeroth in ages past. The craftiest and most wicked of his kin, N'Zoth ruled part of the Black Empire with numerous atrocities until the arrival of the Titans. Sealed away at the bottom of the seas, N'Zoth found a way to whisper in the mind of the Dragon Aspect Neltharion. Steadily swaying Neltharion to become the evil Deathwing and helping to facilitate the genocide of the Blue Dragonflight, N'Zoth also transformed queen Azshara and her followers into the Naga with intent to overwhelm the surface one day. In modern day, N'Zoth twists the Emerald Dream with the Emerald Nightmare to corrupt and destroy the dreaming through his agent Xavius. Empowering Deathwing to cause the Cataclysm and wipe out the face of Azeroth, N'Zoth secretly plans to dispose of the dragon when he is free. Finally unleashing the Naga after arranging a new war between Horde and Alliance, N'Zoth intends to restore the Black Empire to glory in endless atrocity and return creation to the Void.
- Uuetay no Mueh'zala, Loa of Death, is a cruel and ancient being that was worshipped as the god of death by the trolls at the dawn of their civilization. Bloodthirsty to the extreme, the savage rituals and Monstrous Cannibalism that define the trolls can all be traced back to Mueh'zala's never-ending demand for sacrifices. Usurped as the Loa of Death and made to be forgotten by his former follower Bwonsamdi, Mueh'zala would turn to Zovaal the Jailer to restore his power and prominence. Mueh'zala corrupted the once heroic Helya into a dark goddess to command the Jailer's armies and tricked the troll Vol'jin into naming Sylvanas Windrunner as the Horde Warchief. This led to the genocide of the night elves and the beginning of a devastating world war that fed countless innocent souls into the Maw to be twisted into the Jailer's minions. As a last gift to Zovaal, Mueh'zala corrupted the dead wild gods of Ardenweald and tried to consume all the troll souls Bwonsamdi had saved from the Maw.
- Xavius, once the high councilor to Queen Azshara, is best known for the evils he committed as the first satyr and the Nightmare Lord. Xavius can be considered the mastermind behind the Burning Legion's first invasion, when he convinced Azshara and the Highborne that Sargeras was a deity and would lead them to godhood. After his first death, he became the first satyr and corrupted many of his brethren into that form while also seeking eternal vengeance on Malfurion Stormrage, who was responsible for his first and second defeats. Changing his allegiance to the Old Gods, Xavius would go on to become the creator and master of the Emerald Nightmare. As the Nightmare Lord, he corrupted much of the Green Dragonflight and entrapped many druids, including Malfurion. Now his prisoner and plaything, Xavius upheld his end of the bargain and began destroying Azeroth. He swallowed much of the world into the Emerald Nightmare causing countless people to become eternal victims of their own worst nightmares. Eventually defeated again by Malfurion, Xavius would later pledge the Nightmare to the Burning Legion to deliver his wrath to both Malfurion and all of Azeroth.
- Zul is a troll and prophet of the Zandalari empire. Initially driven by a desire to salvage his empire, he steadily succumbs to greed and ambition. Zul leads his forces to massacre innocents all across Pandarian lands, pushing further inland while calling on other trolls to join his forces and wipe out all before them. Zul deems his own gods, the Loa, weak and murders them when he takes over the Zandalari empire. Deciding to create the Empire of Zul, Zul causes greater conflicts and attempts to free the Old God G'huun to practically wipe out the world so he can rule over what remains.
- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft: Tamsin Roame is the Mercenary representing the Warlock playable class and an undead who seeks to destroy her family and the Alliance as Misplaced Retribution for her death. Allying with the Horde out of convenience, Tamsin uses them to collect the powerful Demon Seed artifact that can summon demons and to lead a surprise attack on Stormwind to free an ally. When the Horde turn against her for wanting to destroy the entire city, Tamsin casts them aside before slaughtering her way to the castle and summoning a host of demons to raze Stormwind to the ground. Devising a particularly terrible fate for her family, Tamsin destroys her father's mind before turning him into a constantly suffering abomination and trying to use him to murder her Paladin sister Cariel. Slain by her sister and raised as a lich by the dragon Onyxia, Tamsin creates a distraction by leading a host a demons to massacre the forces of Alterac Valley before dying a final time.