It's been more than two decades since Warcraft: Orcs and Humans hit the PC scene and introduced gamers to the world of Azeroth. What started out as a simple tale of orcs vs humans has grown into one of the most popular fantasy franchises of recent decades. Warcraft boasts multiple novels, 3 RTS games, the most popular MMORPG ever made and, soon, a Hollywood movie. Warcraft's lore is full of powerful mages, mind-shattering horrors and a demonic army determined to purge all life from the cosmos.
But which of these are the most powerful? It's a difficult question to answer, since a lot of absurdly powerful beings, such as the Naaru or Void Lords, haven't really done all that much in the lore. Even in the case of figures who have done things, the lore is still rather vague on just how powerful they are. That means this list is inherently subjective, but we've done our best to back up our choices with sound reasoning, though surely, you'll disagree with a few of our choices.
Here are the 13 Most Powerful Figures In Warcraft Lore.
13 Grom Hellscream
Leader of the powerful Warsong Clan, Grommash Hellscream was one of the greatest warriors of the Old Horde. During the war against the Draenei, he was tasked with the assault on Shattrath City, leading the Horde to victory over their foe. Despite this impressive feat, Grom’s greatest triumphs (and failures) would come years later on the continent of Kalimdor. Grom and his Warsong clan had ran afoul of the Night Elves and their demigod, Cenarius. After drinking the blood of the demon Mannoroth, Grom and his Warsong were able to slay the Night Elven deity, but, in doing so, enslaved themselves to the Burning Legion once again.
After being freed from the corruption by Thrall, Grom sought out Mannoroth, vowing revenge against the pit lord. Wielding the great axe Gorehowl, Grom was able to save his people from demonic corruption by sacrificing his life to slay the demon in single combat. In a world full of sorcerers, ancient gods and demons, Grom Hellscream proves that sometimes all you need is a really big axe.
12 Queen Azshara
The civilization of the modern Night Elves, with its veneration of nature and distrust of arcane magic, bears little resemblance to that of their ancient kin. Prior to the War of the Ancients, the Night Elves created a vast empire that ruled over large parts of Kalimdor. Their ruling class, known as the Highborne, were powerful spellcasters who drew upon the Well of Eternity to empower their spells. The greatest of the Highborne was Queen Azshara, who was one of the most powerful sorcerers to ever live.
Queen Azshara and her Highborne were eventually contacted by Sargeras who claimed he would grant them untold power in exchange for summoning the Burning Legion to Azeroth. The power hungry queen took Sargeras up on his offer, beginning the War of the Ancients. With the destruction of the Well, the Night Elven capital of Suramar sunk beneath the waves, but the Highborne endured, thanks to the intervention of the Old God N’zoth who transformed them into the Naga. As for Azshara herself, no one truly knows how powerful she has became over the past 10,000 years, though during the War of the Ancients, it was stated that she was more powerful than any of the Burning Legion’s forces, save for Sargeras and his two lieutenants, Kil'Jaeden and Archimonde.
Gul’dan might just be the most evil character in Warcraft lore. Most of the other villains are either corrupted by some outside influence or at least believe they are acting in the name of the greater good, but not this guy. The former apprentice to Ner’zhul cares about one thing: power. After betraying Ner’zhul to Kil'jaeden, Gul’dan became the demon’s apprentice and was taught the secrets of the Legion’s magic, allowing him to become the most powerful mortal Warlock who would ever live. After performing a ritual that cut the orc shaman off from the elements and their ancestors, Gul’dan trained other orcs in the ways of the warlocks and created the Shadow Council to control the Horde from behind the scenes. Gul’dan would play a pivotal role in the First and Second Wars and was responsible for creating the first-generation Death Knights, the souls of dead orc Warlocks inhabiting the bodies of Stormwind’s fallen knights.
Ultimately, Gul’dan’s lust for power proved to be his undoing. When he discovered the Tomb of Sargeras, after raising the islands from the ocean floor, he went in search of the power of Fallen Titan. Instead of the godhood he was promised, Gul’dan was torn apart maddened demons.
Gul'dan will be played by Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands) in the upcoming film adaptation.
Thrall started his life as a slave and gladiator to Aedelas Blackmoore, who planned on using him to take over the Alliance. Thrall eventually escaped Blackmore and aided the former warchief Orgrim Doomhammer (set to be played by Pacific Rim's Robert Kazinsky in the film) in freeing the the imprisoned orcs, eventually leading them across the sea to Kalimdor. Thrall’s training as a gladiator turned him into a fearsome warrior, but his true strength lies in his command of the elements. Thrall was one of the first of the orcs to reclaim their shamanistic heritage, and he remains the most powerful. During his war to liberate the orcs, he caused an earthquake that leveled Durnholde Keep, reducing the once mighty fortress to ruins.
Thrall’s command of the elements continue to grow over time. In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, he was granted the title of World Shaman, basically turning him into a conduit for the elemental powers of Azeroth, and he even took the place of the Deathwing as the Earth-Warder.
Despite Thrall’s impressive power, he does have one major weakness that all shaman share. Unlike druids, Shaman are gifted their power from various elemental spirits, meaning that if Thrall were to displease these spirits, he could lose his power — though he would still be a skilled warrior.
9 Malfurion Stormrage
With the power to call down the stars, transform into beasts and heal their allies, druids are among the most powerful beings on Azeroth and, as the personal student to the demigod Cenarius, Malfurion Stormrage is the mightiest of nature’s defenders.
Malfurion, along with his lover Tyrande and brother Illidan, was pivotal in leading the Night Elven forces to victory against the Burning Legion during the War of the Ancients. During the final assault on Queen Azshara's palace, Malfurion conjured a storm that destroyed the Burning Legion, along with the Well of Eternity. Despite being a guardian of nature, Malfurion has a bad habit of blowing things up — during the second Legion invasion, he blew up the World Tree Nordrassil, destroying the demon lord Archimonde but sacrificing the Night Elves’ immortality in the process.
8 Illidan Stormrage
Illidan Stormrage was born with golden eyes, supposedly a sign of greatness amongst his people. Perhaps it was the desire to live up to that greatness that led Illidan down the path to become one of the most powerful (and reviled) figures in Night Elven society.
During his attempt to infiltrate Queen Azshara's palace, Illidan was brought before Sargeras, who ripped out the demon hunter’s eyes and replace them with ones that allowed him to see the currents of magic around him. This would mark Illidan’s first encounter with demonic magic, but certainly not his last. Centuries later, Illidan would come across an even greater source of Fel Magic: the Skull of Gul’dan. The Skull transformed Illidan into a demon, granting him the power to destroy Archimonde’s lieutenant, Tichondrius.
After being pursued by the Warden, Maiev, Illidan would flee to the shattered world of Outland, where he would create a new army of demon hunters to strike at the Burning Legion, even going so far as to invade a Legion homeword and destroy it. Illidan’s current whereabouts are unknown, though he is expected to make an appearance in the upcoming Legion expansion.
7 Tyrande Whisperwind
Tyrande Whisperwind wanted nothing more than to serve her people and their goddess, Elune, but destiny had something very different in mind for the young priestess. During the War of the Ancients, Tyrande would find herself thrust into the role of High Priestess of Elune. After the War of the Ancients, the druids, including Tyrande's beloved Malfurion, slumbered in the Emerald Dream, assisting Ysera and her Green Dragon Flight. This left Tyrande alone to bear the responsibility of leading her people through times both peaceful and troubled.
Whether it's taking out her foes with a bow or calling down the wrath of her goddess, Tyrande remains one of the most powerful and skilled warriors on the face of Azeroth. Throughout her lifetime, she has faced down countless threats to her people, including Burning Legion, the undead Scourge, and, most recently, the New Horde. None but the goddess may forbid her anything.
6 The Lich King
The being known as the Lich King began his life as the orc shaman Ner’zhul, but was captured by his former master, Kil’Jaeden, when he was trying to feel the destruction of the orcs’ homeworld of Draenor. Kil’Jaeden destroyed Ner’zhul’s body and transformed the former shaman into the Lich King, a being with near limitless control over the dead. The Lich King’s spirit was imprisoned within a huge piece of crystal and send back to Azeroth, where it landed on the frozen continent of Northrend. From there, Ner’zhul created the plague of undeath, which he would use to create the undead army known as the Scourge. The Undead Scourge devastated the kingdoms of Lordaeron and Quel'thalas, and nearly brought Azeroth itself to ruin.
The Lich King’s first target was the human kingdom of Lordaeron. In an attempt to save his people, prince Arthas Menethil led an army to Northrend in an attempt to destroy the Scourge. Unfortunately, upon finding the sword Frostmourne, Arthas was corrupted by it’s power, becoming the Lich King’s champion and eventually merging with Ner’zhul. This new Lich King nearly succeeded in his goal of wiping out all life on Azeroth before eventually being defeated.
The Guardians of Tirisfal were an order of the most powerful mages of Azeroth, who were chosen to protect the world from the Burning Legion. Medivh's mother and predecessor, Aegwynn, was so powerful that she was able to defeat the Avatar of Sargeras in single combat. Unfortunately for her, Sargeras possessed her unborn son, slowly driving him to madness, despite Medivh's efforts to combat him. Medivh’s rapidly growing power eventually drew the eye of the Blue Dragonflight, the guardians of magic, who sent Arcanagos to deal with him, but Medivh proved too powerful, killing the dragon and trapping his spirit within Karazhan.
It was Medivh who contacted Gul’dan and gave him the plans for the Dark Portal which would bring the Orcish Horde to Azeroth. Despite his power, Medivh was eventually killed for his role in creating the Horde, but his death placed a curse on his tower of Karazhan, deadening the land around it. After his death, Medivh returned during the events of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos to unite the races against the Burning Legion.
The true extent of Medivh’s power is unknown, but considering that he held both his mother’s power and the vast power of the Avatar of Sargeras, it’s safe to see he was one, if not the most, powerful mage to ever live. In the upcoming film adaptation, Medivh will be played by Ben Foster.
4 The Dragon Aspects
Once the Titans had finished their work of forming Azeroth, they provided the planet with a number of defenses to keep it safe. First among these were the five dragon Aspects, which each had their own domain and were granted power by the Titan Pantheon.
Alexstrasza, the Life-Binder, and her Red Flight, were given stewardship of life. Over the course of World of Warcraft, we see the Red Flight use their powers to, in a limited capacity, counteract the effects of the plague of undeath. Malygos and his blue flight were granted power over magic and arcane lore. The Bronze flight led by Nozdormu were granted the power to control and travel through time, making them one of the most powerful, and potentially dangerous, flights. Ysera and the her Green Flight were made the guardians of nature and the Emerald Dream, a sort of blueprint for Azeroth in its natural state. Finally, there was Neltharion and his Black Flight, charged with protection of the earth. Unfortunately, he and his flight were corrupted by the whispering of the Old Gods, driving them to madness. Determined to destroy all life, Neltharion took the name of Deathwing (pictured above) and his reawakening in Cataclysm reshaped the face of Azeroth.
Kil'Jaeden, along with Archimonde and Velen, was one of the leaders of the Eredar, an advanced and powerful race that made their home on the planet Argus. One day, Kil'Jaeden and his allies were approached by the titan Sargeras, who offered them power and glory in exchange for serving him. Unlike Velen and his Draenei followers, Kil’Jaeden and Archimonde readily accepted Sargeras’ offer, and were made the leaders of his Burning Legion.
As the most powerful of the Eredar, Kil’Jaeden leads the Legion in the absence of Sargeras, and is considered to be the most powerful member of the Legion aside from the Fallen Titan. Kil'Jaeden's main strength doesn’t lie in his magic, but in his cunning mind. It was Kil'Jaeden who manipulated the orcs into slaughtering the Draenei and invading Azeroth, setting the stage for the events of the first two RTS games and the upcoming movie. When the orc invasion failed, it was Kil'Jaeden who turned Ner’zhul into the Lich King, setting in motion the events of Warcraft III and Word of Warcraft.
2 The Old Gods
These Lovecraftian entities ruled over primordial Azeroth for untold centuries before the Titans arrived to bring order to the planet and destroy the Old Gods’ Black Empire. Though the titans were more than capable of defeating them, these parasitic entities had embedded themselves deep within the planet, making it impossible for the Titans to remove them without destroying Azeroth. In the end, the Titans were forced to imprison the Old Gods deep beneath the surface. Despite being imprisoned, the Old Gods have had a profound impact on Azeroth's history, being responsible for the corruption of Deathwing, the Emerald Nightmare, and driving Malygos to madness. Apparently, the Old Gods aren’t fans of dragons for some reason.
The Dragon Aspects aren’t the only Titan defenses the Old Gods have corrupted, seeing as how several mortal races — most notably humans, dwarves, and gnomes — were created by the Curse of Flesh. These races were originally metallic beings created by the Titans, but the Old Gods felt that beings of flesh and blood would be easier to corrupt.
Once the greatest and most powerful of the Titans, Sargeras had been tasked with defending creation from the forces of chaos. He carried out his work for untold centuries, easily defeating any threats he came across, until one day he made a discovery that would shatter his faith in the Titans’ mission. He found evidence that the Void Lords, beings of unimaginable power that exist outside of the universe, had found a means to enter the physical universe. Sargeras become convinced that the only way to truly stop this threat was to destroy all life in the universe and rebuild it so that the Void couldn’t gain a foothold. To that end, Sargeras formed the Burning Legion, a vast demonic army, composed both of corrupted races and the various demons he had imprisoned during his time as the Pantheon’s champion.
The full extent of Sargeras' power has never been shown, though we do know that he was the most powerful of the Titans and is capable of destroying an entire planet in a single swing of his sword. The dragon Korialstrasz once stated that it would be better to face the entire might of the Burning Legion all at once than face Sargeras by himself.
What do you think of our rankings? Did we forget any all-powerful WoW characters? Let us know in the comments.