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For the character from an alternate universe, see Ner'zhul (alternate universe).
This article is about Ner'zhul's life as an orc. For his existence after being transformed, see Lich King.
For the US server, see Server:Ner'zhul US. For the European server, see Server:Ner'zhul Europe.
Image of Ner'zhul
Title Elder Shaman,[1]
Greatly Deceived One,[2]
Warchief of Draenor,[1]
Lich King,
He Who Would Be King[3]
Gender Male
Race Orc (Undead)
Character class Shaman, Necromancer (as the Lich King), Warlock[4][5]
Affiliation(s) Scourge
Former affiliation(s) Burning Legion, Horde of Draenor, Old Horde[6]
Occupation The Lich King, Warchief of Draenor, Elder Shaman and chieftain of the Shadowmoon clan (former)
Location Echo in the Blades of the Fallen Prince, Icecrown Citadel
Status Deceased[7]
Relative(s) Rulkan (mate), Neema (mother-in-law)
Student(s) Gul'dan
Companion(s) Skychaser (wolf mount)

The Elder Shaman Ner'zhul was the Warchief of Draenor, the clans that remained uncaptured after the Dark Portal was destroyed in Azeroth. He was tricked into making a Blood Pact with Kil'jaeden the Deceiver; one that bound the orcs into the service of the Burning Legion. Following the Second War, he opened several portals on Draenor in an attempt to seek out new lands to escape to and conquer, but was immediately captured by Kil'jaeden. His mortal form was destroyed and his spirit was transformed into the spectral Lich King, which was then encased in the mystical ice of the Frozen Throne atop the Icecrown glacier in distant Northrend.

Ner'zhul is the primary antagonist of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal and the supporting antagonist in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.


Rise of the Horde

WoW-novel-logo-16x62.png This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft novels or short stories.
Ner'zhul, the Elder Shaman.

During his youth, Ner'zhul would often venture near Auchindoun with his clan-mates. He was the only that was brave enough to enter its entryway.[8]

Ner'zhul grew up to become the chieftain and elder shaman of the Shadowmoon clan and one of the most popular figures in orcish society. He was admired, respected and venerated by all for his deep connection to the spirits, and was the closest thing the orcish race had to a single leader prior to the foundation of the Horde. However, deep within, Ner'zhul craved a power he did not have...

At some point, Ner'zhul was present at the Kosh'harg celebration in Nagrand.[9] One day, Ner'zhul was contacted by the spirit of his deceased mate, Rulkan (with whom he had a regular correspondence), who warned him about the menace of the draenei, who were plotting to destroy the orcs. After several moons, she introduced him to Kil'jaeden, the "Great One", who began to instruct him in the treachery of the draenei. Though Ner'zhul was elated that he was saving his people (and finally getting the power and respect he secretly desired), he was puzzled why the ancestors would no longer speak to him, and why the spirits grew more distant.

Ner'zhul managed to get the rest of the clans to begin attacks on draenei settlements, supposedly by order of the ancestors, but, as he saw more and more of the draenei, he gradually became puzzled; apart from his horns, clothes, and skin tone, Kil'jaeden bore an uncanny resemblance to the draenei and possessed a hatred of Velen unbecoming of a divine being. Seeking answers, he attempted to commune with the ancestors in Oshu'gun, the "Mountain of the Spirits." He was horrified when the ancestors greeted him as a monster, and the real Rulkan revealed the truth: Kil'jaeden had been manipulating him all along.

Ner'zhul resolved to defy his demon master, but Gul'dan, his apprentice, had followed him, and, greedy for his own power, informed Kil'jaeden of the betrayal of the shaman. Kil'jaeden, ever one to reward good service, elevated Gul'dan to Ner'zhul's position, and Ner'zhul was relegated to a decorative position, his powers stripped from him. Kil'jaeden forced Ner'zhul to watch helplessly as the orcs slid into bloodlust and warlock magic. He was powerless to stop the rise of the Shadow Council, privy to all their secrets but able to reveal none.

But Gul'dan grew careless. Thinking Ner'zhul completely powerless, he allowed his former teacher access to all of the Shadow Council's documents, and it was thus that Ner'zhul discovered that Kil'jaeden was planning to feed the Blood of Mannoroth to the orcs. Ner'zhul's wasted position and Gul'dan's baleful influence meant that none of the chieftains would listen to his warnings, with the exception of one.

As a result of Ner'zhul's anonymous advice, Durotan of the Frostwolf Clan refused to allow his clan to drink the blood of Mannoroth, and saved them from the worst of the corruption. Alas, Durotan and his mate Draka were the only people aware of Ner'zhul's actions- a secret that died with them years later. Today, no one has any idea that one of Azeroth's greatest enemies saved the orcs from complete and utter damnation.

Beyond the Dark Portal

Ner'zhul, Warcraft II cinematic.
Ner'zhul holding the Skull of Gul'dan.

Following the Old Horde's defeat in the Second War the Alliance pressed the Horde back to the Blasted Lands, ultimately destroying the portal. On the Draenor side Ner'zhul was caught in the blast and gravely wounded. For two years while he recovered the clans of Draenor fought amongst themselves until Teron Gorefiend devised a plan of opening new portals and finding fresh worlds for the Horde to conquer. Teron went to Ner'zhul and asked the old shaman to lead the Horde once again. Ner'zhul having since recovered, had isolated his clan in Shadowmoon Valley, where he began seeing visions of death (potentially a foreshadowing of his future fate). He painted his face with a white skull. When Gorefiend, a being of undeath, came to him, Ner'zhul was not surprised, and after some persuasion, agreed to Gorefiend's plan to open more portals. In order to fullfill the plan he sought out several artifacts from Azeroth: the Skull of Gul'dan, the Book of Medivh, the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras, and the Eye of Dalaran. Except for the Skull of Gul'dan these artifacts corresponded to three constellations on Draenor, and using them in conjunction with a celestial event involving those constellations gave Ner'zhul the power to open the portals.

The first item he acquired, the Skull of Gul'dan, soon began to influence the old shaman. His wayward apprentice was speaking to Ner'zhul through his last remains. Ner'zhul became more and more concerned with his own power and well being rather than that of the Horde. The ogre mage Dentarg became his enforcer, putting back in line through fear and brute force[10] the clans of Draenor when they opposed Ner'zhul's absolute rule.[11]

Ner'zhul uses the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras to open countless portals.

Upon retrieving all of these artifacts save the Skull, he attempted to open portals throughout Draenor. Feeling the surge of power that came with having control of Draenor's magic, Ner'zhul stopped caring about the welfare of the Horde, and thought only of harnessing his new powers. In his hubris, he ordered his followers through the portals, leaving behind the Horde. Obris, one of his servitors, protested at Ner'zhul's choice to abandon the rest of the Horde. In response, Ner'zhul blasted him aside; he no longer cared. Inundated with power he previously could only have dreamed of, Ner'zhul's greed overcame him, and whatever vestiges of honor and altruism still remained in him vanished as he and his followers went through the first portal, abandoning the rest of the Orcish Horde to its fate. The vast energies that the Spell of Conjuration created then tore the planet apart once Ner'zhul had fled, and the shattered realm of Outland was created.

Birth of the Lich King

Main article: Lich King

Upon entering one of the portals, Ner'zhul and his followers were immediately captured by Kil'jaeden. The Elder Shaman was torn apart, though his spirit was kept alive. Agreeing to enter into the service of the demon once more, Ner'zhul's spirit was bound to the Helm of Domination and trapped inside the Frozen Throne. His perception, mental powers, and magical abilities expanded tremendously. Thus the Lich King was born. As the Lich King, Ner'zhul would rule the Scourge alone until his merger with Arthas Menethil, who largely consumed his spirit to rule as the Lich King alone.[12][13][14][15] Vestiges or at least memories of Ner'zhul remained in the new Lich King, who once referred to himself as a former shaman.[16]This Lich King would be killed by adventurers some time later, ultimately ending the fallen shaman's legacy.


Legion This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.

When one of the Knights of the Ebon Blade enters the Blades of the Fallen Prince, reformed from Frostmourne's shards, echoes of Ner'zhul and Arthas can be found with Ner'zhul tempting Arthas to take up Frostmourne. Arthas is defeated and once more states that he sees only darkness, while Ner'zhul exclaims that his plans have been ruined.

In the RPG

The RPG Icon 16x36.png This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft RPG and is considered non-canon.

Ner'zhul was given Plate of the Damned and he gave Kel'Thuzad special chains[17] and was considered a lich.[18]

Visions of Ner'zhul

Ner'zhul had the gift of true visioning and all he had seen would indeed come to pass.[19] He had seen many events that take place in World of Warcraft, including:


Beyond the Dark Portal

  • I... have dreamed of you. I have had visions of death, and now you are here.[20]
  • Gul'dan and his twisted schemes — they reach out and destroy lives even from beyond the grave! You and your plans! And how much power would you gain from success? Power is all you Shadow Council bastards care about![20]
  • We did much harm, you and I. Deathbringers, doom callers, both of us. But now we can try to save them. And your skull, my old apprentice…your skull will be part of that. Dead you are better use to the orcs than you were alive. Back you have come, to your old master. Maybe together we can give them a new chance.[20]
  • The other orcs are lost. They have served their purpose. From this point on, all that we gain will be ours alone. I am the Horde, and I will survive. Choose me, or choose death![20]

Warcraft III: Frozen Throne

The Lich King, trapped within the Frozen Throne.
The runeblade, Frostmourne, was once locked inside the Throne as well. I thrust it from the ice so that it would find its way to you... and then lead you to me. And so it has. For now we face a grave danger. My creator, the demonlord Kil'jaeden, sent his agents here to destroy me. If they should reach the Frozen Throne before you, all will be lost. The Scourge will be undone. Now hurry! I will grant you all the power I can spare.[21]

Arthas: Rise of the Lich King

  • There is so much more. So much more, but only if you continue to walk this path fully.[19]
  • Yes! I knew you would make this choice. For so long you have wrestled with the last dregs of goodness, of humanity in you, but no longer. The boy held you back, and now you are free. We are one, Arthas. Together, we are the Lich King. No more Ner'zhul, no more Arthas—only this one glorious being. With my knowledge, we can—[22]

World of Warcraft

Legion This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
Main article: Quest:The Call of Icecrown#Notes
The Echo of Ner'zhul inside the Blades of the Fallen Prince.
Take up the blade, Arthas Menethil. Embrace your destiny!
Echo of Arthas Menethil aggro
How dare you interfere! His soul belongs to ME!
Summoning the undead
Let the darkness consume you! Feast upon the souls of the damned!
Defeating Arthas
Curse you, interloper! All my plans... ruined!



Notes & trivia

  • It was originally said that Ner'zhul once had his soul bound to Gul'dan, the elder shaman wanting to keep watch over his disciple.[23]
  • It was stated that Amnennar the Coldbringer had a direct telepathic link to Ner'zhul (when he and Arthas were the Lich King).[24]
  • Ner'zhul was described to have brown eye color.[25]
  • This piece of art "may" have inspired Ner'zhul's story.[26]
  • When asked about Ner'zhul at BlizzCon 2010, Chris Metzen said, "Yes. Yeah, Ner'zhul is done. He served us well in that capacity, but really the Lich King idea... really is the ultimate expression, you know, as Arthas or whatever. Ner'zhul's done."[27]
  • In Legion Ner'zhul is voiced by Vic Mignogna, who also voiced his alternate counterpart in Warlords of Draenor.

Patch changes

See also


  1. ^ a b Slayer of the Shadowmoon (WC2 Orc)
  2. ^ Rise of the Horde
  3. ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 42
  4. ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Alleria Windrunner: The Alliance of Lordaeron had destroyed the Azeroth end of the Dark Portal in order to cut off further orc reinforcements from Draenor. However, the orc Ner'zhul and other Horde spellcasters used magical artifacts on the Draenor end of the Dark Portal, which was still intact. In this manner the powerful warlocks reestablished the pathway between Draenor and Azeroth.
  5. ^ Tome of Blighted Implements Other than the Dark Titan, the Scepter of Sargeras has had few wielders. One of them was the orc warlock Ner'zhul.
  6. ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 42
  7. ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 42
  8. ^ Beyond the Dark Portal, chapter 19
  9. ^ Legends: A Warrior Made--Part 2
  10. ^ Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal manual, Clans of Draenor, Shadow Moon Clan
  11. ^ Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal manual, Legends of the Land, Dentarg
  12. ^ Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, epilogue. "Arthas, the Lich King, alone in his glory and power, slowly opened his eyes."
  13. ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 4 Fate. "Ner'zhul is no more. He is consumed. There is only Arthas now... Arthas, whom you shall serve for all eternity."
  14. ^ BlizzCon 2010 Lore Q&A Panel. "Yeah, Ner'zhul is done. He served us well in that capacity, but really the Lich King idea... really has the ultimate expression, you know, as Arthas or whatever. Ner'zhul's done."
  15. ^ Chris Metzen on Twitter (2012-11-18)
  16. ^ A [71] The Echo of Ymiron :The Lich King says: Shamanism has brought you here... Its scent permeates the air. *The Lich King laughs* I was once a shaman.
  17. ^ Manual of Monsters, pg. 174, 175
  18. ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 15
  19. ^ a b Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, 303-305
  20. ^ a b c d Beyond the Dark Portal
  21. ^ "Legacy of the Damned: Boiling Point", Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment.
  22. ^ Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, 306-307
  23. ^ The Tomb of Sargeras (WC2x Orc)
  24. ^ H [37D] Bring the End
  25. ^ Rise of the Horde, chapter 9
  26. ^ Warcraft: Orcs & Humans art - The Dead
  27. ^ BlizzCon 2010 Lore Q&A Panel

External links

Preceded by:
Latest known:
Mother Om'ra
Chieftain of the Shadowmoon clan
Succeeded by:
Earliest known:
Teron Gorefiend
Preceded by:
Orgrim Doomhammer
Warchief of the Horde
Succeeded by:
Orgrim Doomhammer
Preceded by:
(as Master of the Black Temple)
Lord of Shadowmoon Fortress
Succeeded by:
(as Master of the Black Temple)
Preceded by:
Ruler of Draenor
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Lich King of the Scourge (alone)
Succeeded by:
Arthas Menethil and Ner'zhul
(conjoined spirits)
Preceded by:
Ner'zhul (alone)
Lich King of the Scourge
(conjoined spirits with Arthas)
Succeeded by:
Arthas Menethil (alone)