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  • Ascended Fanon:
    • Before the new Alliance race was announced for The Burning Crusade, a supposed "leak" said it would be the people of Gilneas, transformed by the crazed wizard Arugal into bestial worgen. The new race was actually the draenei, but two expansions later we did get worgen... with a similar origin story as the faked leak. The leak may have also been real, as the draenei were a semi-hasty replacement for Alliance pandaren of all things (scrapped for having no reason to fight the Horde or go to Outland).
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    • Boss Mida, found in the Goblin Slums of Orgrimmar, is a Shout-Out to the "Trade Princess Movement", a thread from the old community site requesting a female faction leader for the goblin race. Official faction leader Trade Prince Gallywix doesn't appear ingame after the starting zone, and Mida explains that she's been running the whole show while he's off picking wallpaper for his pleasure palace in Azshara.
    • Every faction leader from Cataclysm had a short story written about them...with the exception of Lor'themar Theron, whose short story is actually the 2009 Writing Contest winner "In the Shadow of the Sun". The writer of that fanfic, Sarah Pine, was also hired to write the Garrosh short story.
    • Jed'hin - the lost form of eredun ritual combat you can partake in on Argus - was actually created by draenei roleplayers on the Wyrmrest Accord server, and made official lore in patch 7.3 with the inclusion of the world quests about it.
  • Demand Overload:
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    • The launch of new expansions like Cataclysm or Warlords of Draenor used to be plagued by unstable servers, latency issues and massive login queues. There were several causes for this, but the primary one was the huge numbers of people trying to log in at the same time and bottlenecking in the same zone. In the words of a Community Manager:
      We obviously expected an increase in logins, and prepared for well above what we were expecting. The actual amount is far above even that.
    • Classic servers faced immediate overload during the first days after release, reaching their population cap and leaving many in queues that were hours long. Blizzard opened new servers to meet the demand only to see them also filled within a day.
  • Descended Creator: Blizzard's VP of Creative Development Chris Metzen voices half the game, including Ragnaros, Thrall, Nefarian and Varian Wrynn. He's done many voices for Blizzard's other games as well.
  • Dueling Works: Thanks to its longevity and popularity, WoW, in some way, has been in competition with just about every MMO to come out afterwards, as they inevitably try to ape its success, often by directly copying it, usually with disastrous results. By the late 2010s, though, the only game to really step up as a worthy rival to it has been Final Fantasy XIV, which has some interesting history with this trope:
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    • Particularly, its infamous first release was, as far as anyone is aware, timed to beat the Cataclysm expansion to market, which resulted in FFXIV 1.0 being a rushed, unpolished mess. Its 2.0 A Realm Reborn relaunch ended up also happening on the same day as the final patch for Mists of Pandaria, which ended up setting something of a trend.
    • After Warlords of Draenor's launch in November 2014, the only major updates the game got for seven months were Twitter integration, a selfie contest, and the ability to buy tokens for more play-time, while FFXIV was leading up to the release of its first expansion Heavensward - only for WoW to drop patch 6.2, which added a new zone, a new raid, a new companion, and a major extension to Garrison Campaigns, on the same day as Heavensward.
    • Legion patch 7.0.3, which added the long-awaited Tomb of Sargeras raid, once again ended up launching only a single day before the launch of FFXIV's second expansion, Stormblood.
    • By 2019 and the lead-up to FFXIV's third expansion Shadowbringers, Blizzard had become acutely aware of the competition, as the reaction to changes brought with Battle of Azeroth had been surprisingly negative, and a good chunk of the playerbase was leaving the game to try out XIV as an alternative given the many positive-sounding changes it was promising. In response, Blizzard intentionally released patch 8.2 on June 25th of that year, three days ahead of the Early Access release for Shadowbringers and an entire week ahead of its full release.
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: Many enemies, especially humanoids, make a low dying moan that will be familiar to players of Doom; it's the death sound of a Pink Demon.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The gear you acquire is Color-Coded for Your Convenience, based on the color the name of the item appears when you hover your mouse over it; uncommon items are referred to as "greens", rare are "blues", epics are "purples", and Legendary items are "oranges". Good luck on getting an orange, and no one beyond level ten or fifteen would willingly use a common or "white" item (except maybe hats or shoulder pieces, which are hard to find until around level 30 or special cases such as Fishing Pole Duels).
    • Members of the Alliance and Horde are respectively called "Allys" note  and "Hordies" respectively.
    • Various classes have shorthand for them, most often used by Raiders and Pvp players as shorthand for strategies. While many classes have the same shorthand, or even name for their specializations, they're usually mentioned alongside the class.
      • Death Knights are shorthanded into "DK" while their specializations are just written out, except unholy, which is sometimes refered to has "UH".
      • Druids are either "Resto" "Cat" "Bear, Bare, Bere, or some other mangled half-recognizable form of "This guy is a bear" druids for Restoration, Feral, and Guardian, and in the case of balance "Boomkins", or more rarely, "laser chicken", due to the Moonkin form having the head of a bird and using the Moonfire spell, which resembles some kind of orbital energy weapon attack, as one of their primary attacks.
      • Hunters are MM for Marksmanship, BM for Beast Mastery, and SV or Surv for Survival.
      • Mages, having relatively short names for their specs, are just called that outright.
      • Monks are "BM" for Brewmasters, "MW" for Mistweavers, or "WW" for Windwalkers.
      • Paladins are shortened to "Pallys" with specializations being "Ret" for Retribution and "Prot" for Protection. Holy, already being a 4-letter word, is just left as is, although some people shorten it to "Hpal".
      • Priests are generally shortend to "First letter of specialization plus Priest" such as "Spriest" for Shadow, "Hpriest" for Holy, and Disc" for Discipline.
      • Rogues are either refered to as Rogues or Rouges. Subtlety ones are shortend to "Sub", Outlaw to "Out", and Assassin usually to "Sin" to avoid the other name of "Ass".
      • Shamans are "shammies". "Resto" is used for Restoration (same as Druids), "Ele" (pronounced as either "el-eh" or "elly") for Elemental, "Enh" for Enhancement. Enhancement is occasionally referred to as "Enchancement", sometimes as a typo (like "rouge" for rogues) and sometimes as a self-deprecating joke about the spec's survivability. The term "blueberry" was a derogatory term used in Burning Crusade for new draenei shamans, referring to their skin tone (which of course ignored that most Darkspear trolls, a valid race for shamans from vanilla, were also usually some shade of blue).
      • Warlocks are shortened to "Locks", and their specs are "Demo" for Demonology, "Destro" for Destruction, and "Aff" for affliction.
      • Warriors are shortened to "Wars" which is almost never used for Warlocks, despite them also starting with "War". The specs, besides "Prot" for protection, are relatively simply named and just refered to as such. Fury warriors are occasionally called "a rogue in plate", due to dual wielding and often being on par with rogues in the damage meters, rogues being a purely damage-oriented class in constrast to warriors which can either tank or DPS.
    • When the Death Knight class was released in Wrath of the Lich King, one of their spells was "Death Grip". What it basically did was yank an enemy player over to you so you could give him a face-full of your sword. In Cataclysm, priests got a new spell known as "Leap of Faith", which did the exact same thing (yanking a player towards you to get them away from a big sword or area damage), only on friendly players. People thought "Leap of Faith" was a stupid name, and so, unofficially renamed it "Life Grip". Even the devs use the nickname on occasion.
    • In Warlords of Draenor, the bosses Hans'gar and Franzok (a Dual Boss encounter) are popularly known as "Hans and Franz," not only because of the shortening of their names, but also because they are a clear reference to the recurring Saturday Night Live sketch, starring two Austrian bodybuilders, Hans and Franz (who were themselves pastiches of Arnold Schwarzenegger).
    • Illidan Stormrage is sometimes known as 'Illidindo Nuffin'. Or, "I didn't do anything wrong." He's earned this moniker for a few reasons. One, he always thinks he's doing the right thing, even when he's wrong. Two, fans go to extreme lengths to make him into a pure, do-no-wrong good guy. Three, people worry Blizzard may make him one just to appease those fans.
  • From Entertainment to Education: In 2005, a new raid dungeon was introduced. The end boss could place a powerful disease, Corrupted Blood, on the players that quickly killed them. Some enterprising "Petmaster" players realized that their pets could safely carry the disease out of the dungeon and into the cities to Troll other players. A player-made epidemic swept the game; the central hubs were filled with corpses, the disease spreading "harmlessly" to NPCs who infected other players, healers attempted to cure the infected, eventually resulting in people abandoning the cities altogether. The servers eventually were shut down to force a fix preventing the disease from leaving the dungeon. The event is now known as the Corrupted Blood Incident and has been used by universities as a study of how epidemics spread; how a disease from a remote region is brought to urban centers by asymptomatic carriers, how people respond to the threat- some deliberately seeking it out- and how the authorities react to such events. It has also received some attention as a study in terrorism, given that players deliberately infected cities and plotted how to cause as much damage as possible.
  • I Knew It!: In the End Time instance, it is revealed that Murozond is Nozdormu's future self.
  • Lying Creator
    • When asked about the presence of Old Gods during a Q&A leading up to release, Ion that Battle for Azeroth was about the faction war that there were no Old Gods in BFA. The vast majorty of the raid instances (Uldir, Crucible of Storms, Eternal Palace and Nyalotha) feature Old Gods in some form or another, and the final boss of the expansion is N'Zoth.
      • The "Faction War" also went off the rails to being about the Alliance and the Horde uniting against another corrupt Warchief as early as the first major content patch.
    • At the start of Battle for Azeroth, Blizzard repeatedly stated that Sylvanas would not become "Garrosh 2.0". She did. Technically, she became Arthas 2.0 as well.
  • Milestone Celebration:
    • Some old 40-player raids got revamped for the anniversaries of the first World of Warcraft such as Onyxia's Lair, which was remade for 10 and 25 players at level 80 in Wrath of the Lich King in 2009 (fifth anniversary) or Molten Core, which was (temporarily) remade for level 100 players in Warlords of Draenor for the 10th anniversary (the 40-player limit was kept, which caused much chaos as coordination is pretty difficult on LFR mode).
    • The 25-player raid Black Temple was added to the "Time Walkers" weekly event in 2017, for the tenth anniversary of The Burning Crusade. It was not adapted to level 110 (it happened in the Legion expansion) but instead lowers the players' level to 70.
    • World of Warcraft Classic was released on August 27th, 2019, the year of WoW's 15th anniversary. It topped one million viewers on Twitch during its launch, to say nothing of its player queues.
  • Name's the Same: Another MMORPG also had an expansion pack titled "Shadowlands".
  • Not So Cheap Imitation: World of Warcraft as a whole can be considered a more polished version of the older MMORPG EverQuest.
  • Orphaned Reference: The in-game map of Draenor has a second continent in the southwestern corner that is not named nor can it be highlighted (though it was referred to as an ogre continent in BlizzCon interviews). This continent scarcely appears on any map made later, not even in the Chronicles (where the closest thing to a reference is continent being pluralized in a couple of places). This is left over from an earlier draft of the story where the Gorian Empire was from another continent entirely instead of being based out of Highmaul in Nagrand. An article about the development of Nagrand reveals this to be a result of Blizzard wanting to offset the perception of "orc fatigue" by upping the presence of ogres in Nagrand (the official website for Warlords of Draenor still describes the original version of Nagrand sans Highmaul).
    • The Lords of War shorts were a victim of some of the same changes. While subtle, there are a couple of things that don't make much sense from the perspective of the final version of Warlords of Draenor. Most notably, Grommash appears to have been crucified in some desert, when the closest thing to such a location would be Gorgrond, nowhere near his home or the home of the ogres he was fighting. The other is that both the Kargath and Grommash shorts culminate in them killing an ogre who is implied to be the most important in the land. In the final version of the story, this would be the Imperator, but the timeline doesn't allow for them to have both taken down an Imperator. In hindsight, both of these are references to a draft of the expansion around the time of this early development map shown at BlizzCon. Nagrand is much larger vertically, with the southern half not being lush or green. Coupled with the description on the official website of Nagrand having seafaring ogres in the south, this is clearly where the ogres that Grommash was fighting were actually from. Also, instead of having the capital of the Gorian Empire, there are "ogre palaces" scattered across the world. The ogres that Grommash and Kargath killed were likely the leaders of their local palaces.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Arthas' first voice actor, Justin Gross, was replaced as Arthas for Wrath of the Lich King onward. His reason was that Blizzard offered him an "embarrassingly low" amount of money for his return. Patrick Seitz replaced him from then on, while Michael McConnohie played the Lich King.
    • Speaking of Michael McConnohie, he originally played Kel'Thuzad in III and Vanilla, but was replaced by an unknown voice actor for Wrath of the Lich King. It is believed that because he switched to playing the Lich King, having him voice Kel'Thuzad and the Lich King would cause issues so he was replaced. Notably he still plays him outside of Wrath of the Lich King however.
    • Jaina was originally voiced by Carrie Gordon Lowrey in III, but when Jaina became important and needed voice acting in time for Wrath of the Lich King, she was instead voiced by Laura Bailey.
    • Illidan was originally voiced by Matthew Yang King in III, and even did the now-infamous "You are not prepared!" line from the trailer/intro for The Burning Crusade, but within the game itself, was switched to Liam O'Brien.
    • Sylvanas had her voice actress switch from Piera Coppola to Patty Mattson. It is unknown when exactly this occurred however, as the differences were not clear at the time.
    • Tragically, Terenas Menethil's voice actor, Ted Whitney, passed away shortly after completing his voice work for Terenas in III. Terenas was then voiced by Earl Boen when time came for him to have speaking lines for Wrath of the Lich King.
    • A complicated example with Medivh. He was originally voiced by Michael Bell in III, but for the Burning Crusade, was instead voiced by Cam Clarke. When Medivh reappeared briefly in Legion, Bell returned to play him.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Several fans have been immortalized by Blizzard by making references to them, sometimes in the TCG as Alamo and Leeroy Jenkins, whose antics are legendary amongst the fans; and sometimes in the game itself like Maghia and Volde, who were two of the best cosplayers at BlizzCon '09, with items named after them. Notable Fansite creators as well — Breanni, the Pet Shop NPC in Dalaran, is based on the character of the go-to site for Minipet info.
    • Toskk, a player known for creating a calculator for min-maxing feral druid DPS, had a pair of melee leather wristguards named after him.
    • Besides Toskk, 3 other players got the same treatment. Rogue theorycrafter Aldriana, Warrior theorycrafter Landsoul, and creator of a program called "Rawr" that allows all classes to explore item options, Astrylian, all got drops named after them in the Icecrown Citadel 25 raid instance. Better yet, all of these except Landsoul's helm were the best items for their item slot for many classes up until the Cataclysm expansion.
    • 10-year-old boy Ezra "Ephoenix" Chatterton got quite a few references thanks to a Make-a-Wish foundation visit to Blizzard headquarters. He got an item named after him, and got to create a quest in the Tauren starting area. The quest even has you find a dog with the same name as his. The NPC has the rare honor of having unique voice acting, all clips done by Ezra, and surprisingly deep for a 10-year-old boy. The unexpected questioning of "Can you help me find my dog?" is known to frighten many a player. Thankfully, Blizzard had the foresight to make the NPC unkillable by Alliance players. Ezra passed away in October 2008.
      • The Lunar Festival NPC in Thunder Bluff has been renamed Elder Ezra Wheathoof, Wheathoof being the name of the above questgiver. He is accompanied by a Phoenix Hatchling.
    • Phaelia, who wrote a resto druid blog for a while before retiring to focus on the baby she was expecting, was also referenced with a leather healing chestpiece.
    • The BRK-1000, in honor of the once (and again!) king of hunter-guide movies.
    • We can also add in Skosiris, ex-site director of Wowhead now in-game as Loremaster Skosiris.
    • And now, joining the Pantheon, is The Red Shirt Guy, who has now been immortalized in-game as the Wildhammer Fact Checker.
      • The Fact Checker even gets a cameo in the Dwarven Faction Leader short story, Fire and Iron. The story is about Kudran Wildhammer stepping down from his position on the Council of Three Hammers and giving it to Falstad. Some people have theorized the story was written in lieu of Red Shirt Guy's pointing out of the mistake, and has thus made Kudran's accidental promotion during the beta, as well as his replacement with Falstad, canon.
  • Recycled Script:
    • The nightborne's storyline in Legion is a beat for beat retread of the blood elves' storyline in The Burning Crusade; both races resided in massive capital cities cut off from the rest of the world (Suramar/Silvermoon), both drew magic from a massive font of power (Nightwell/Sunwell), both were plagued by an addiction to magic that caused them to devolve into mindless beasts if unsated or overindulged (Withered/Wretched), both broke out into civil war when they banded against their leader (Elisande/Kael'thas) after said leader made a bargain with the Legion before they were killed in a raid encounter (Nighthold/Tempest Keep), and both were ultimately freed of their addiction following the defeat of one of the leaders of the Legion (Gul'dan/Kil'jaeden).
    • Battle for Azeroth recycles elements of Cataclysm's plot with the player allying with a former faction leader (Magni/Thrall) to mend Azeroth when the planet is critically damaged by a major antagonist (Sargeras/Deathwing) and Mists of Pandaria's plot with the Alliance-Horde war being reignited following the unprovoked destruction of an Alliance city (Teldrassil/Theramore) and the Horde's leaders banding against their current Warchief (Sylvanas/Garrosh) who resorts to using eldritch power. The latter similarity has received a lot of flak, especially after players were told that Sylvanas' story wouldn't fall to this trope.
      • Speaking of said expac, the ending also got much flak, partially due to N'Zoth's defeat copying the Cataclysm ending: a well-known mortal champion of Azeroth (Thrall/the player) destroys a super-powered entity who wishes to cause a Bad Future (Deathwing/N'Zoth), and they perform the deed by using a magic artifact (the Dragon Soul/the Heart of Azeroth) that's empowered by beams coming from a powerful source (the Dragon Aspects/the Titan forges). N'Zoth's way of death (explodes after all the above happens) is exactly the same as Deathwing.
  • Talking to Himself: Michael McConnohie as the Lich King and spirit of Uther in Halls of Reflection. Also Chris Metzen as both Thrall and Varian.
  • Trailer Delay: Early promotional materials for the game said that it would be released in 2003. It was not released until November of 2004.
  • Troubled Production: Warlords of Draenor is infamous for being the shortest expansion, only having one major patch that advanced the story in any way. This turned out to be the result of several major factors converging at the same time. Blizzard increased the size of the World of Warcraft team, but underestimated how much work it would take to train them and get them up to speed, slowing things down. The expansion also came with new models for (most) of the playable races (which tied up the art team), a completely reworked file structure, and a "stat squish" that required the entire game to be rebalanced (which had some major bugs which weren't solved until the expansion had been out for a little bit). The expansion launch also managed to bring back a good chunk of lapsed players, far exceeding expectations and causing further instability problems early on.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • The male Blood Elf /silly, "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" was added because of the song by the Pussy Cat Dolls was popular at the time of The Burning Crusade's release.
    • An Alliance NPC, Moi'bff Jill, was renamed that after a late 2007-early 2008 meme, idk My BFF Jill was also popular.
  • What Could Have Been: Fantasizing about discarded, heavily altered, or repeatedly promised content is practically Azeroth's national pastime.
    • There are several missing or incomplete "hidden" levels including a copy of Undercity with no citizens, a creepy dungeon with drowned victims near Karazhan, an early incarnation of Outland with a set of portals that do not work, and a three-zone Emerald Dream area.
    • From the vanilla World of Warcraft manual, there were supposed to be dishonor points. The stuff certain players do on a common basis today in the game would have given them severe punishment (including being attacked on sight by their own faction's NPCs and even being exiled from their own cities) with this system if it were implemented past the open beta. By refraining from doing these actions for a long enough time, the stigma will eventually go away.
      "Even among enemies as bitter as the Horde and Alliance, there is honor. If you flaunt this honor and engage in objectionable PvP play, such as killing new players vastly inferior to you in level, or killing essential non-combat NPC's such as flight masters or quest givers, you will earn dishonor. If you accumulate enough dishonor through your criminal actions, you will be branded an outlaw. As a consequence, you'll suffer experience penalties, lose access to your own faction cities, and become so hated even by your own kind that every faction NPC will attack you on sight."
      • Though the reason for this being taken out is, ironically, to prevent another form of griefing. When there were raids upon opposing cities low-level players would be able to purposely get themselves killed from AoE attacks causing AoE users to rack up dishonor points. Instead of removing it, one could argue dishonor should have only been given outside opposing cities. Players would get dishonor ganking in places like Stranglethorn Vale, but in city limits or within a radius of a major opposing city, anything goes.
    • In an attempt to foster more role-playing, taverns and bars were planned to function as they would in a traditional RPG, where one could rest in a bed for the night, sit and have a few drinks, and wait around to form a party.
    • The Undercity was going to be a lot bigger then what was given at game release; cutting out what would of been a balcony level above the bank in the large circular area of the Forsaken capital. The reason for the cut was because Blizzard thought that the Undercity was already complex enough, and that adding the balcony level would make it a little too complex for players. Even today after eight years, you can find and walk around the Undercity's incomplete second floor.
    • Azshara was a pretty but barren vanilla zone up until its Cataclysm revamp. Before then, Blizzard was planning to add a battleground called Azshara Crater at the southern edge of the zone to give players some reason to come to the area. The battleground was never implemented, but what would have been the entrances to it stayed in the game up until the Cataclysm revamp.
    • The Mage city of Dalaran was probably planned to play some eventual role in its original place that never manifested. Instead, there is now an empty crater where it used to be, with the city taking flight and acting as the central hub in Northrend and the Broken Isles.
    • The Duskwood zone was originally planned to have a light-radius effect on the player as you moved around in the world environment throughout this area; something you'd see out of the Diablo franchise, and torches were to be an item you could equip to increase the size of the light-radius. Even today, NPCs around Duskwood can be seen holding what would have been the player-held torches.
    • The ability for player characters to learn additional languages was planned early but was not developed, likely due to the tendency of cross-faction communication to be insulting and profane. It seems unlikely that this functionality will ever be added. The Forsaken were originally able to speak Common and thus communicate with Alliance players, but this was removed with the introduction of Gutterspeak due to, once again, the tendency of cross-faction communication to be insulting and profane. Mages can now temporally learn the languages of their own faction with the Glyph of Arcane Language and the buff Arcane Brilliance.
    • Hero classes were a feature mentioned before the game was released. Many years since the initial release, they have only created two (Death Knights and Demon Hunters). Paladins were at one point going to be one, but ultimately made a normal class.
      • The original plan for Death Knights was that you would convert a high-leveled character into one rather than rolling a fresh toon. This was scrapped due to concerns players would turn their character into a Death Knight and then decide that they liked their original class more. They then toyed with the idea of having a quest chain in Northrend where your higher level toons would interact with what would become the freed Death Knights. In the end, they compromised and let people roll a Death Knight once they hit the prerequisite level of 55, and gave them a starting zone all to themselves which explained their back story first-hand.
      • The original idea for Runeforging was that Death Knight players would be able to customize the runes on their resource bar -for example, a Frost Death Knight might choose to give up some of his Blood and Unholy runes in exchange for more Frost runes, or convert a less useful rune into more flexible Death runes. This was deemed too complicated, so all Death Knights were given a standard rune layout, and Runeforging was changed to just being a Death Knight-exclusive free weapon enchant.
      • Demon Hunters were planned to be playable as early as The Burning Crusade, but were ultimately pushed back several years until they were able to be introduced in Legion.
    • Protection Paladin in Vanilla was supposed to have more abilities to help them actually tank. For various reasons, Blizzard removed them during the Beta, but did not find a way to replace it. This meant the Protection spec had no aggro management system, making it effectively unusable for the release's history. It wasn't until Burning Crusade that the class was overhauled to actually be able to tank properly.
    • The original Burning Crusade launch was going to be an event like the Ahn'Qiraj event where Warlocks would work together to try and open the Dark Portal, while other classes protected them. The Troubled Production and Demand Overload for said event however quickly removed that idea.
    • Burning Crusade was never intended to be the first expansion. Originally, the idea was to do an expansion set in the ocean/islands between Kalindor and the Eastern Kingdoms, but limitations of the servers and maps prevented them from adding new locations to the original map. After the release of Burning Crusade, Blizzard managed to fix this issue, but by then, the South Seas idea wasn't able to be done until being re-branded as Battle for Azeroth.
    • The game's comic adaptation was supposed to spinoff into two ongoing titles, World of Warcraft: Alliance and World of Warcraft: Horde. Instead of focusing on established game characters like the first comic did, these new titles would have featured a cast of original characters. However, DC Comics announced that the comics were cancelled in favor of a series of ongoing graphic novels, starting with Bloodsworn and Dark Riders, claiming that the new format would let them put a greater focus on art and narrative. The released books both included what would have been the first few issues of the cancelled comics. The graphic novels have also apparently been cancelled as no new material has been produced since 2013.
    • Wrath of the Lich King was pretty bad in this regard overall.
      • It was intended that there be a Gundrak raid and a third wing of Utgarde Keep (there are items in the game files that hinted that a third Utgarde Keep wing and the Gundrak temple were supposed to have had raids at one point in development; quest text in these areas seem to support this, especially in Zul'Drak).
      • Crystalsong Forest was intended to be the home of the Argent Crusade tournament, as opposed to containing the floating city of Dalaran and nothing else (Crystalsong Forest would have been the site of the Argent Tournament, but Blizzard was worried about possible lag carrying over from the nearby Dalaran hub, and the area was left very barren of anything of interest).
      • The new Siege Engine UI allowed for a lot of interesting new mounted combat, but one thing they couldn't reliably get working in time was sieged aerial combat. Particularly bad because the physical box art for the expansion installation disk had a preview of the nonexistent plane siege vehicles, intended as a workshop machine in Wintergrasp, as part of their advertisement of said new UI/mounted combat.
      • By far most painful, it was initially intended that the Azjol-Nerub kingdoms be an entire underground zone, stretching across Northrend between the Dragonblight in the south and Icecrown Glacier in the north, in which players would have significant interaction with Anub'arak, Arthas' third in command, and presumably deal with the sinister and desperate spider-like Nerubians who used to rule most of Northrend. Unfortunately, constraints that could not be overcome in the given product schedule forced this idea to be shelved, with some of the already created geometry folded into a pair of instance dungeons. Anub'arak is the boss of the lower level one. He has no effect on the game apart from that, though he comes back as a boss under the tournament. And there are a grand total of four living Nerubians in the game, and only one of them even has a name (though more were added in Cataclysm). This is particularly odd given that they introduced tons of new races in Northrend, but gave no presence to the race that people had known was there since Warcraft III came out in 2002. In a BlizzCon interview, Blizzard even admits that not turning Azjol-Nerub into a world zone was their greatest failure for the Wrath of the Lich King era.
      • The village of Unu'pe in Borean Tundra is a fully functioning quest hub lacking only the quests.
    • Prior to that, The Burning Crusade was just as bad about this; several characters that were slated for return were left out completely, and it was originally supposed to include so-called "portal worlds"; portals that would lead to zones that would be on completely different planets. This idea would later see the light of day in Legion, in the form of Invasion Points on Argus.
      • Pandaren were originally planned to be the Alliance race during The Burning Crusade. Midway through development, presumably due to legal issues with China, the pandaren were hastily replaced with the draenei and wouldn't be added until three expansions later.
    • Cataclysm...oh boy, Cataclysm. Despite Blizzard's denials, it is commonly accepted that the Cataclysm development team suffered a cataclysm of their own; the end result: tons of cut features and storylines.
      • The biggest one done so far: Path of the Titans. Cataclysm was also supposed to implement a feature called Path of the Titans, that would've acted as an alternative to the normal talent system to give even more customization to your character, and would have combined the new archaeology profession with a redesigned glyph system. This was heavily advertised and showcased at Blizzcon before the open beta for Cataclysm to be a progression path past the level cap, but the system wasn't found to be effective at giving the customization they wanted, and instead, it was scrapped and they chose to expand upon the glyph system introduced in Wrath. To expand on this: it was scrapped because it would've just become another "If you're this class, pick this path for the best DPS/heals/tanking". Glyphs and talents had already become cookie-cutter, so this would have just been another set of bonuses that you had no choice in. In expanding the glyph system, they added more room for choice (sort of).
      • Most likely related to this system were the two factions related to archaeology: The Explorer's League and Reliquary. The latter faction was created as a Horde equivalent and both were planned to have a reputation, which means quests and NPCs. This never came to fruition and they remain as flavor factions instead. Without the aforementioned Path of the Titans, since it was tied so heavily into the Archaeology profession, end result: Archaeology was a boring and tedious grindfest dependent on RNG.
      • A proper 10-20 zone in Silverpine/Gilneas for Worgen players, with their district being in Stormwind instead of Darnassus. The quests after the battle to retake Gilneas City make little sense, and the Alliance version of Shadowfang Keep makes no sense.
      • The Abyssal Maw dungeon/raid, which despite developer comments that it never made it past the concept art stage, could still be found in the game files with some editing, as seen here. The cancellation of Abyssal Maw is a sore spot for players, especially since it caused a massive Aborted Arc the developers continue to sweep under the rug, and also because it was replaced with two troll raids converted into 5-mans. The Abyssal Maw was originally planned as either a dungeon or raid, with many players expecting it to come out with the Firelands raid tier. While the map was designed, the content never made it past early design phases and was dropped after Cataclysm ended.
      • A Silithus revamp, compete with quests that indicated that C'thun was active once again.
      • Boat races in Thousand Needles.
      • The War of the Ancients instance was originally supposed to be a raid, not a 5-man dungeon.
      • Foreshadowing for a questline involving the return of Danath Trollbane.
      • Gallywix is not in the game outside of the Goblin starting zone, despite having a voice set that would indicate that he is supposed to be residing in his titular Pleasure Palace.
      • Speaking of Goblins, the ending of their starting zone also ended up making little sense and may have originally had an alternate ending.
      • One small-yet-major change to the goblin starting zone was that, originally, the footbomb was supposed to fall into the volcano and destabilize it (in the final product, it was Deathwing that caused the issue, and the footbomb kick was instead an excuse to be looking in that direction). This would have given Gallywix's lines on the Lost Isles a completely different meaning; instead of him using you as a scapegoat (and becoming a Hate Sink as a result), he'd be reminding you of your part in the whole mess.
      • All references to Sylvanas mind controlling any newly-raised Forsaken were removed near the end of beta, but some of the quests in Silverpine Forest and Western Plaguelands still show mind controlled newly-raised Forsaken.
      • The Battle for Gilneas battleground was originally supposed to take place in Gilneas City, and the objectives were that each faction fought to see who could take the most districts of the city.
      • The Hour of Twilight dungeon was originally supposed to have faction specific storylines, with Varian fighting Benedictus, and Thrall fighting Grand Magister Rommath, both having been revealed as spies for the Twilight's Hammer. In the final release it's only Benedictus as not just a spy, but one of their leaders, confronted by Thrall (and his deception having been revealed offscreen in a book, leaving this as a rather out of nowhere twist if you didn't read it) while Rommath's involvement or potential tretchery was cut entirely. Many consider this a happy outcome however, as this let Rommath have a moment in the limelight as a protagonist in the next expansion's storyline.
    • Dance Studio
    • Warlords of Draenor, before even being released, had some scrapped ideas shared by the developers. It went through several changes in the planning stages.
      • The earliest idea has no Time Travel at all, instead Garrosh was meant to discover a magic horn and use it to resurrect the titular Warlords in an unexplored part of Outland. Then they decided that if they were going to bring back the Old Horde then they might as well bring back Old Draenor, so the Infinite Dragonflight got brought in to make that happen. Then they dialled down the amount of Time Travel- originally the players were meant to travel to AU Draenor with the help of the Bronze Dragonflight, and try and prevent Garrosh from ever opening a connection to Azeroth.
      • While Garrosh returning to make a new army had always been the plan, it was originally intended to be an army of all the NPC races players have been killing for years like kobolds, gnolls, centaur and troggs: there was a concept of him rallying a "Mongrel Horde" of kobolds, gnolls, murlocs and all the other quest fodder to be his army. After that they considered having Garrosh be banished to Outland where he'd find a "magic horn" that reforms it into old Draenor and resurrects the Warlords from the dead. The developers thought this was too confusing and settled on the time travel version we have now.
      • The moving of the capital cities from well-known lore locations (like the Black Temple) to generic outposts on the PvP hub. This particular change has not sat well with players, doubly so because it was casually revealed on Twitter after the previous BlizzCon made a big fuss about it.
      • Several other features (such as putting down your garrison in ANY zone rather than just your starting zone) are hinted at as being last-minute reworks, with cinematics referring to "campaigns all across Draenor" when you had barely set foot on the planet the morning before. Originally garrisons could be located in any of the zones but due to the difficulties of arranging this they were limited to the starting regions with limited outposts in other zones. Capital cities were planned for each faction as well and even largely constructed but after it was decided to merge those functions into Ashran they were left as nothing more than impressive-looking quest hubs.
      • There were also plans for a Shattrath raid, the zone of Gorgrond was completely different in Alpha, and there are various hints to expanded storylines (most notably the Pale Orcs/Cho'Gall/Void storyline) that ended up on the cutting room floor. And if the "Grommash will be the final boss" statement wasn't a lie, it seems that the post-100 patches were meant to shake out a whole lot different than they did. The Cho'gall and Void storyline being dropped is especially obvious when looking at World of Warcraft: Chronicle, published and written around the same time, which paints the Void as being the ultimate antagonist of the universe.
      • Two islands meant to be introduced in later patches were Farahlon, the entire landmass that would become Netherstorm and home of the Laughing Skull Orcs (referenced in a Garrison mission and could be seen in early beta before being removed), and Ashran, the home island of the Ogre Empire (which was purely Out of Focus after the Highmaul raid). Neither made it past early planning stages. Another item that would have made sense for a time shifted version of Outland to have but Draenor didn't get was Rock Flayers (which can be found on one super small Easter Egg island and nowhere else).
    • The Legion expansion had several major plot points change during Beta:
      • It's not clear if the character's ultimate fate was changed or not, but early builds indicated that Vol'jin was merely missing after the events of the Broken Shore, not necessarily dead (Varian Wrynn, on the other hand, was always straight up dead). In the final version, he dies onscreen in a very clear and unambiguous manner. Also, in the original version, it was implied Sylvanas had usurped control of the Horde in Vol'jin's absence. In the finished version, Vol'jin himself names Sylvanas his successor after she saves the Horde forces in Broken Shore, although Battle for Azeroth suggests he wasn't acting in his right mind when he did so.
      • Tirion Fordring was originally planned to be the Death Knight's Fourth Horseman instead of Darion Mograine. This one is pretty obvious, as the finished scenario still has them attack Light's Hope Chapel for Tirion's body. But a lot of players didn't like this idea, either because they preferred him as a Paladin, or they just thought it cheapened his death to bring him back so soon. Eventually, the developers relented and changed it to Darion, but the scenario was already made and they didn't have time to scrap it and start over, so they used it anyway and just changed the ending so that a literal Deus ex Machina stops the resurrection and kills Darion, leading to him being made the Horseman instead.
      • The black dragon known as Ebyssian was originally planned to be Wrathion. Originally in Highmountain, Wrathion would appear during a story arc, ending with him using a titan time portal to bring uncorrupted (and still fertile) dragon eggs from the distant past, not just creating a new Black Dragonflight but also potentially saving the others from becoming a Dying Race. However, due to the confusing plot device (and probably a bit of fatigue regarding time travel after Warlords), this story thread was dropped and replaced with Spiritwalker Ebonhorn and him testing Mayla of her worthiness as High Chieftain while also revealing he's an uncorrupted black dragon and the hammer of Khaz'goroth can cleanse black dragon eggs of their corruption. He ended up being changed to a new character due to a combination of the timeline not working out (Wrathion being only a few years old would make it hard for him to integrate himself into Highmountain's society to the extent 'Spiritwalker Ebonhorn' had) and concerns that, after what Wrathion did in his last appearance, players wouldn't want to work with him again that easily.
    • Battle For Azeroth
      • In the Beta, Jaina's hatred towards the Horde would've increased so much she would've been an advocator for the genocide of most of their races. She was completely rewritten at release.
      • The Alliance's 7th Legion forces in the Vulpera zone were known as "Purge Squads".
      • In the 8.1 PTR, "The Fate of Saurfang" quest where the Horde player decides where their loyalties lie had a datamined third option where the player says Screw This, I'm Outta Here! and go to enjoy a vacation at the hot springs on the Feralas/Silithus border while the conflict sorts itself out. This ending never made it live, and while the programming for it was in until the release of the patch it was never actually playable at any point. Since it was never implemented it might have also been a coy finger wag towards dataminers in the same way as "Kharazan 2: Electric Boogaloo" in Legion and never intended to be taken seriously to begin with. Either way the war campaign tying into the Saurfang/Sylvanas conflict later on meant this wasn't a feasable option for the player to take and have it make sense, which could be why it was canned.
      • Island Expeditions were originally supposed to be a second option to dungeons where the players would take their time exploring the islands, solving mini-quests and puzzles and generally being a very fleshed out experience. Due to not having enough time to properly test the features, the nuance and pace wasn't able to be realized and islands instead became a timed Zerg Rush to beat the enemy team to Azerite deposits and killing skull-marked mobs, with any "quests" being side objectives as simple as grabbing a nearby object and clicking on the quest giver. Especially unfortunate as, like Karabor and Bladespire citadel in Warlords, Islands as they were envisioned - rather than as they were implemented - were marketed and talked about as a major selling point for the expansion.
    • There was going to be a movie adaptation, directed by Sam Raimi.
  • The Wiki Rule: WoWWiki came online one day after the game launched. Since then there was a schism, and now there is the WoWWiki on Wikia and Wowpedia on Gamepedia.
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