World of Warcraft has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and so have many of the game’s most popular characters. With every new expansion, developer Blizzard Entertainment has taken the game’s story in brand new directions, often introducing plot twists that have caused players to view some of their favorite characters in a whole new light. If you would have told any player back in 2004 that Bolvar Fordragon would one day replace Arthas Menethil as the Lich King, they would likely assume you had been reading some over-the-top fan fiction.
With the arrival of World of Warcraft Classic, we thought it would be a good time to get reacquainted with some of our favorite characters from the original version of the game. Here are 15 of our favorite characters in WoW Classic:
Green Jesus is back where he belongs, and Hallelujah for that. The OG Warchief of the Horde likely needs no introduction, but we’ll give him one anyway. Thrall is responsible for the founding of Durotar and Orgrimmar, the Horde’s capital city. In World of Warcraft Classic, Thrall can be found by his throne in the Valley of Wisdom within Orgrimmar, and is introduced to players early on in their leveling journey.
Thrall’s undergone many changes in the years since, most notably giving up his Warchief title to Garrosh Hellscream during the events of the Cataclysm expansion. Players who have followed the story since then know that the Horde has never really been the same since Thrall stepped down, so it will likely be quite refreshing for many Horde fans to see Thrall restored to his rightful place in Classic.
The current leader of the Horde in Battle for Azeroth is a polarizing figure who is responsible for the burning of Darnassus as well as a variety of other questionable decisions. She has a much lower profile in Classic, but is still an important lore character for any Forsaken player. The Dark Lady rules from within the Royal Quarter of the Undercity, with the dreadlord Varimathras at her side.
One of the most notable things about Sylvanas in Classic is how she looks. Blizzard originally used a Night Elf model to render the Queen of the Forsaken instead of an undead Blood Elf design. This means Sylvanas in Classic looks quite different from the version in Battle for Azeroth.
Classic not only restores certain characters to the beginning of their long-running plotlines, it brings some characters back from the dead. Cairne Bloodhoof was the original Chieftan of the Bloodhoof and the faction leader of the Tauren race. He ruled over the fields of Mulgore from his place of honor in Thunder Bluff.
Cairne died at the start of the Cataclysm expansion in a duel with new Horde Warchief Garrosh Hellscream. His son, Baine, took over as Chieftan, but in Classic, Cairne has been restored to power and Baine is once again just a level 10 quest giver in Bloodhoof Village. For Cairne fans, it is perhaps comforting to know that the Classic servers will never progress forward in time, leaving Cairne in charge and blissfully unaware of his fate in another dimension.
Bolvar has arguably one of the most epic long-term stories in WoW history. Bolvar died heroically at the Wrathgate, only to be raised from the dead and tortured by Arthas. After Menthil’s fall, Bolvar heroically dons the Helm of Domination because “there must always be a Lich King.” Since then, he’s had continued dealings with players despite supposedly being frozen at the top of Icecrown Citadel, and there are players who feel that Bolvar might soon be making a major return to the game after Battle for Azeroth is concluded.
In Classic, Bolvar returns to his original position in Stormwind Keep, where he serves as ward to Anduin Wrynn and essentially the default leader of the city while Anduin’s father, Varian, is away. Given everything we know about Bolvar’s future, your interactions with him in Classic are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Lady Katrana Prestor (Onyxia)
Lady Katrana Prestor at first appears to be ruling over Stormwind alongside Bolvar Fordragon, but players will soon find out that Lady Prestor is something else entirely. In what is arguably one of the greatest plot twists of Classic, Katarana is revealed to be the raid boss Onyxia in an epic event that takes place right within Stormwind Keep. The fight serves as an introduction to Onyxia at the end of a long quest chain that also serves as an attunement to the raid.
The Bronzebeard clan rules over the burning hot city of Ironforge, and Magni is the first among equals, serving as the faction leader for the dwarf race. Like Bolvar, Magni will go on to have an epic storyline spanning multiple expansions. In Battle for Azeroth, he is currently known as “The Speaker” and is able to commune directly with the world-soul of Azeroth itself.
Classic returns Magni to his roots, where his biggest concern is the safe return of his kidnapped daughter Moira, an objective that will send players into the sprawling Blackrock Depths dungeon.
Tyrande is high priestess of the goddess Elune and has led the Night Elves for many years alongside her partner Malfurion Stormrage. In Classic, Malfurion is stuck in the Emerald Dream and Tyrande rules alone from inside Darnassus. She interacts with players several times as the faction leader of the Night Elves.
She goes on to accomplish many great feats in subsequent expansions and is eventually reunited with Malfurion, but on Classic servers, she is content with maintaining order within Teldrassil, aiding the Alliance in any way she can.
By fire, we were purged. Ragnaros certainly needs no introduction, and yet any list of WoW characters would be incomplete without the most famous raid boss of all-time. Summoning Ragnaros for the first time was a very big deal for most guilds in the original game. Killing him was an even bigger feat, thanks to the fact that he would despawn in as little as one hour after being summoned. (This was later changed to two hours.)
Ragnaros was the key to obtaining Tier 2 legs, which meant that many guilds continued to run Molten Core for months even after they were done farming the rest of the instance. The Firelord also drops the Eye of Sulfuras, a legendary item that allows certain classes to make the legendary two-hander, Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros.
Lord Victor Nefarius
As far as raid bosses go, Lord Nefarius, aka Nefarian, has more personality than most. Players were first introduced to him while running the Upper Blackrock Spire dungeon, where he would urge his minions to kill the party’s healer: “Fools! Kill the one in the dress!”
Lord Victor would continue to interact with players during their run of the Blackwing Lair raid, culminating in a final fight where Lord Nefarius finally shows his true dragon form. “Let the games begin!”
Hakkar the Soulflayer
Hakkar is the final boss of the Zul’Gurub 20-man raid instance. But players were acquainted with him long before that, as Hakkar, or rather his Avatar, was also one of the final bosses in the Sunken Temple 5-man dungeon. While Hakkar is memorable enough on his own, he’s included on this list because of the notoriety of one of his abilities during the fight in ZG.
Corrupted Blood is a damage over time spell that can quickly spread throughout the raid if players are not careful. When Zul’Gurub was first released, it was actually possible for a player with this disease to take it out of the instance and into a major city. Corrupted Blood spread like wildfire, killing hundreds of low level players who didn’t know what hit them. The incident made headlines in the mainstream media, with sociologists and scientists studying it as an example of how humans might react to the spread of a deadly plague in real life.
Blizzard eventually patched the ability, but when Den of Geek talked to a Blizzard developer about Classic around the time of the beta’s release, it was implied to us that players might just get another opportunity to have some fun with Corrupted Blood…
Rivendare is arguably the most famous 5-man boss in Classic for a couple of different reasons. First, he drops the extremely rare item Deathcharger’s Reins which allows a player to summon his undead steed as a mount. Given that players have to compete with 9 others in their 10-man raid group on the off-chance that it actually dropped, the item has become one of the most coveted pieces of loot in the game.
Rivendare got another chance to shine when Blizzard announced an upgrade path for the Tier 0 dungeon set. In order to upgrade certain pieces, players had to complete a quest called “Dead Man’s Plea,” which required the undead side of Stratholme to be cleared within 45 minutes in order to stop Baron Rivendare from executing his prisoner. This became known as “Baron 45” or simply “The Baron Run” within the player base. The hard difficulty meant that only a small percentage of players actually made it all the way through successfully. Many players look back at “Baron 45” today as Blizzard’s first attempt at making something akin to a Challenge Mode or Mythic Plus dungeon, cementing Rivendare’s place in WoW history.
Mograine was the original wielder of the Ashbringer, one of the most iconic weapons in WoW history. Alexandros was murdered by his son Renault, who is better known to players as Scarlet Commander Mograine, one of the final bosses of the Scarlet Monastery Cathedral dungeon. After his death, Alexandros was raised by Kel’Thuzad and took his place as the leader of The Four Horsemen in the original Naxxramas, wielding his Corrupted Ashbringer into battle.
The Corrupted Ashbringer is a lootable item off of The Four Horsemen, and a player that equips it and takes it to Scarlet Monastery will see a unique event, including dialogue from Renault once he realizes that the player is carrying his father’s sword.
Hemet is perhaps one of the best known quest-givers in World of Warcraft history. In Classic, Hemet gives players of both factions the opportunity to hunt wild game in the jungle of Stranglethorn Vale. While leveling up, players will also find random pages from the famous hunter’s book, “The Green Hills of Stranglethorn” from mobs that they kill. These pages can be traded or sold on the Auction House, and a player that collects the full book will get a nice boost to their XP.
Hemet became so popular with players during Classic that Blizzard moved Hemet to various zones in all of the game’s expansions to allow players another opportunity to hunt massive beasts. And yes, “Hemet Nesingwary” is an anagram of Ernest Hemingway.
Molten Core was the first major raid zone to be released in World of Warcraft history, but the raid would have been impossible to complete without some help from this water elemental located off the coast of Azshara. Duke helps players obtain an Aqual Quintessence which is used to douse one of the seven runes in Molten Core. When all runes are doused, Majordomo Executus is summoned and players can proceed to defeat him and then summon Ragnaros, the Firelord.
Up to Patch 1.11, players were required to visit the Duke in Azshara every week in order to get another Quintessence. Blizzard eventually changed this item to an “Eternal” Quintessence for those who had reached Revered with the Hydraxian Waterlords. But the Duke still plays a large part in the first phase of Classic.
Anachronos the Ancient
This bronze dragon is the offspring of Nozdormu the Timeless One and is heavily involved in two major and iconic quest lines in Classic. Anachronos helps the player open the gates of Ahn’Qiraj by guiding them through a quest line that ends with the ringing of a gong. The first player to ring said gong is given the infamous Scarab Lord title and a special mount, an appropriate reward for one of the rarest and most legendary feats in Classic.
Speaking of legendaries, Anachronos again takes part in aiding the player during Classic‘s final raid tier of Naxxramas, assisting a caster class with the construction of the legendary staff Atiesh. Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian was removed from the game when Naxxramas was moved to Northrend with the release of Wrath of the Lich King making it one of the most widely sought after items in Classic.
World of Warcraft Classic is out now.
Jason M. Gallagher is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.