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This article is about the realm of death. For the expansion, see World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.
NeutralThe Shadowlands
Level: 50 - 60
BlizzCon 2019 - Bastion 2.jpg
Bastion, one of the realms in the Shadowlands
The Shadowlands are infinite. Their terrors and beauty were never meant for mortal eyes. I wonder if they can bear to behold all that awaits them. The denizens of this realm are the key to restoring the balance between life and death... if their trust can be earned. Death comes. And the end of everything... is just the beginning.
Bolvar Fordragon[1]

The Shadowlands (see below for other names and denotations) are nightmarish realms of decay, labyrinthine spiritual planes teeming with the souls of the dead who have passed from the world of the living.[2] The Shadowlands exist on the edge of reality.[3]

The origins of the Shadowlands remain uncertain, but they have existed ever since mortal life first arose in the physical universe. They span all worlds,[4] including Azeroth, on which Icecrown serves as an anchor to the Shadowlands.[5] There are those who believe mortal souls are drawn into this dark place when they die, remaining there forever. Others hope their souls will go on to a brighter place rather than languish for eternity within the cold confines of the Shadowlands.[2]

Mortal souls who cross the veil between life and death are actually judged by the mysterious Arbiter, before being sent off to one of the infinite realms of the Shadowlands that suits them most, each ruled by a powerful Covenant with its own unique role in maintaining the ecosystem of the afterlife.[3][6]

The Shadowlands can be seen as a shadowy version of the physical world, and can be routinely visited as a spirit when player characters die. Governed by the Covenants, the four ruling realms of the Shadowlands are Bastion, Ardenweald, Revendreth and Maldraxxus (although countless others exist), which serve as the main setting of World of Warcraft's eighth expansion.[6]


The Shadowlands represented in Chronicle Volume 1.

Spirit healers decide when it's time for a mortal soul to pass into the Shadowlands.[6] When a mortal dies and their soul crosses the veil between life and death, it is shepherded by the kyrian to Oribos so that they can be judged by the impassive Arbiter.[7] All of the soul's contents—deeds, misdeeds, thoughts, accomplishments, and failures—are instantly laid bare before the Arbiter, who then judges in a mere instant and sends the soul off to one of the infinite realms of the Shadowlands, each of which is ruled over by a powerful Covenant.[3][6] The Covenants are ancient and powerful orders who have existed since the Shadowlands were shaped long ago, and who bear sacred duties to help maintain the afterlife's ecosystem. Not every soul is filtered into the main four Covenants.[6] Each soul brings with it a vital force known as anima, the product of all of the soul's experiences and actions in life. Anima is the lifeblood of the Shadowlands, making trees grow and rivers flow and is the source that's drawn upon to conduct the magic of death. Great souls—both good and evil—have a lot of anima, while those who have lived humbler lives have less.[3][6] Four of the realms—Ardenweald, Bastion, Maldraxxus, and Revendreth—are especially vital to the functioning of the Shadowlands. However, there could be infinite afterlives, some small and tailored to a single person while others are vast and full of either splendor or torment. Between each realm is a cloudy space which was once rich with streams of anima connecting the different domains, but the current anima drought has caused the realms to become cut off from one another, breeding fear and mistrust among the inhabitants.[8]

The Shadowlands are accessible upon death, where the player-character can roam, and can only be seen by other spirits.[9] The Spirit of Tony Two-Tusk describes the Shadowlands as all grey and dark, swirling clouds. While Uuna was in the Shadowlands,[10] she described it as dark and she was unable to see anything, though she could hear people interacting with her in the physical world. From within the Shadowlands, she could see the light of the naaru A'dal who was in the physical world, but it was so bright that it scared her. The moonlight at Lake Falathim allowed her to see a friend in the physical world.

When a soul is called from the afterlife, it is free to roam the material realm if it is not restrained within moments of its arrival.[11] While in the Shadowlands, visions of past events may be seen.[12][13][14]

Sometimes, the spirits roam the Shadowlands without resting. It can be because their resting place wasn't complete, because of a battle in their resting place[15] or because of the corruption of their resting place.[9] To bring eternal peace to the souls, it is needed to destroy the source of corruption[16] or by making a ceremony with items such as  [Tuskarr Ritual Object].[17] A spirit in the Shadowlands can, with enough power over other souls, tear a hole into the living world once they are strong enough. This is how Jin'do returned to Azeroth.[18]

Time may pass differently in the Shadowlands, as Salanar the Horseman (who was last seen in the Shadowlands, during N Death Knight [55] Into The Realm of Shadows) once said that the years since he last met the Deathlord were only days for him.[19]

During the Day of the Dead, the Shadowlands draw closer to Azeroth.[20]


Shadowlands This section concerns content related to Shadowlands.

Adventurers entering the Shadowlands will find the realm of the dead in disarray. In the natural order of things, souls are sorted and sent on to an afterlife realm appropriate to the lives they lived,[6] but starting around the time of the Burning Legion's third invasion of Azeroth,[21] all souls who have perished—including the innocents slain at Teldrassil—are being funneled directly into the Maw. The Shadowlands are starving for anima even as the Maw continues to grow from the glut of fresh souls. Sylvanas Windrunner has been seemingly perpetrating acts to bring about great amounts of death and destruction. In partnership with the Jailer, they have been working toward a common end for some time.[6]


Realms of the Shadowlands, shown at BlizzCon 2019.


Other areas


Main article: Instances by continent


World of Warcraft

WoW Icon update.png This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.

In World of Warcraft, the Shadowlands can be seen when a character dies. They can be resurrected by a Spirit Healer (or by finding the corpse of their physical body, though this may be just a game mechanic).

The Shadowlands can also be witnessed by other means, such as with some specific  [Reagent Pouch].[22] It can also be seen with some devices[23] and potions[24] while being alive. Many not-dead mortals who visit the Shadowlands do not return.[25]

The Shadowlands in Howling Fjord as seen by a dead adventurer.
Agmar's Hammer seen in the world of shadows in H [73] The Power to Destroy quest.

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich King This section concerns content related to Wrath of the Lich King.

The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm

WoW-novel-logo-16x62.png This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.
  • Thrall entered into the world of spirit during a vision quest.[30]


Cataclysm This section concerns content related to Cataclysm.

Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria This section concerns content related to Mists of Pandaria.

Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor This section concerns content related to Warlords of Draenor.


Legion This section concerns content related to Legion.
A dark forest in the Shadowlands.

Battle for Azeroth

Battle for Azeroth This section concerns content related to Battle for Azeroth.
  • Centuries ago, Summoner Mepjila cursed the followers of Kimbul to constantly relive their battle with her naga forces as spirits for eternity. Kimbul sends an adventurer into the Shadowlands to slay Mepjila's spirit and free his followers from her curse.[45]
  • Talanji, Rokhan, and Master Gadrin conducted a ritual to delve into the Shadowlands and locate Vol'jin's missing spirit.[46]
  • Vol'jin's spirit and a Horde adventurer traveled through Orgrimmar in the Shadowlands as Vol'jin relived the day of his death and realized it was not the loa who told him to make Sylvanas Windrunner warchief.[47]


Beings of death are ancient and powerful, and it is dangerous to meddle in their realm. When Odyn peered into the Shadowlands, he saw some of its inhabitants: souls in torment, the husks of the dead, ghostly wraiths with no face, and others with no form, all made of death itself. This was enough to frighten even him.[48] While several races in the Shadowlands are transformed mortal souls, other creatures—such as dredgers and stewards—are endemic to the Shadowlands and are naturally born from the magic of death to serve the different realms and help facilitate the process of the afterlife. If one such creature of death is killed, their energy is recycled back into the Shadowlands, and eventually, another member of the same race will manifest to take the place of the one that was killed.[49][50]





  • IconSmall Bwonsamdi.gif Bwonsamdi is a loa who watches over deceased trolls.
  • There was a "great spirit [...] billowing up from the ethereal mists, shapeless" that Odyn gave his eye to in payment in order to see into the Shadowlands.[48]

Associated quests

This is a list of quests associated to the Shadowlands before their actual introduction as a new leveling area.

Other names

Other afterlives

Icon-time.svg This section contains information that is out-of-date.

In some situations, souls may be taken to other places besides the Shadowlands:

In the RPG

Icon-RPG.png This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.


The final destination of the spirits of the deceased remains a mystery to the priests and philosophers of Azeroth. However, as spells such as [Resurrection] can reunite a dead body with its spirit, and a majority of living creatures from the tauren to the troll shadow hunters claim they can communicate with and call upon the power of the spirits, a widely held belief is that the spirits of the dead remain on the Material Plane — in an immaterial state that can only be altered or contacted through the use of magic.[67]

RPG notes

  • Shadow hunters deal with the darkest aspects of the Shadowlands. Their connections to powerful voodoo spirits give them the ability to curse and heal at a whim.[68]
  • The Inner and Outer Planes doesn't appear to exist in Warcraft universe, however, they are related to the Shadowlands.[67]
  • The spell called "spiritual projection" or "astral projection" brings the caster to the Twisting Nether instead of the Shadowlands;[69] and the Twisting Nether is also referred as "realm of ghosts".[70] However, both planes don't appear to be related, as Outland is floating on the Twisting Nether,[69] but the Shadowlands can be reached in Outland in The Burning Crusade.

Notes and trivia

  • The  [Headpiece of the Shadow Council] had a deep connection to the Shadowlands.
  • Spirits without a material manifestation are still able to send items from the Shadowlands to the living.[71]
  • Apparently, powerful death knights such as Lady Alistra, Salanar the Horseman, Koltira Deathweaver and the Lich King can teleport others (and probably themselves) to and from the Realm of Shadows.
  • Spirit healers wait within the Shadowlands for those unfortunate adventurers whose spirits will soon join them. These floating figures of death and rebirth return people to life where their spirit stands.[59]
  • In World of Warcraft, some quests require the player to die in order to visit the "Shadowlands" to complete objectives.
  • Though the Shadowlands and the Void are not the same,[72] the [Raise Ally] ability gives players the "Void-Touched" debuff which reads, "The touch of the spirit realm lingers..."
  • The Shadowlands were originally intended to be a fully playable zone in World of Warcraft, designed for high-level play. The idea was that as deceased characters made their way back to their corpses, they'd see high-level players battling creeps in the area, which would inspire lower level players to increase their character level so they could experience the zone for themselves.[73]


This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.

Realm of Shadows

Icon-search-48x48.png This section contains information that needs to be cleaned up. Reason: The death knight realm has already been confirmed to be the Shadowlands. Sylvanas committing suicide from ICC in EoN has already been connected to the Shadowlands. Reword still unclear things, move confirmed things to the main section of the page or remove them entirely if they are already incorporated there.

The Realm of Shadows may be the same World of Shadows as the one that becomes visible when a [Elixir of Shadows] is consumed. It may also have something to do with shadow magic and shades. Death knights, necromancers, and undead as a whole share a strong connection with the Realm of Shadows from many hints that can be seen in-game. In the death knight starting zone, death knights are given the task to enter the Realm of Shadows in order to gain their Deathcharger. Later on, death knights are eventually able to learn the ability [Raise Ally] which pulls their ally's spirit back from the Realm of the Dead and forces it back into their body. Upon doing so, a buff is applied to the player stating that: "A touch of the spirit realm still lingers..." This shows that death knights and necromancers both have a connection to the Realm of the Shadows/Dead to perform necromancy which furthers the idea that they actually are drawing their magical power from it.

Furthermore, upon the Lich King's death he even spoke of "Seeing only darkness before him" while Sylvanas Windrunner said the same in Silverpine Forest after being risen from the dead by the Val'kyr. This may hint that because undead, death knights, and necromancers are connected to the Realm of Shadows when they die (again) they actually become apart of the Realm of Shadows and are forced to wanders in its dark mists for the rest of eternity. If this is so, then it can also be implied that when a death knight is given his/her own personal runeblade, the runeblade is actually used to bind the individual to the Realm of Shadows in mind and body, making it impossible to ever be rid of the death knight curse. In Howling Fjord, players are even able to witness the Lich King himself standing within the Realm of Shadows with two Val'kyr. The idea that necromantic magic and death knight runes drawing power from the Realm of Shadows itself is not yet proven, but it is heavily supported by in-game quests and lore.


BlizzCon 2019
Concept art


  1. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Features Overview
  2. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 12
  3. ^ a b c d Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. BlizzCon 2019 - World of Warcraft: What's Next. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
  4. ^ a b c N [96] A Feast of Shadows
  5. ^ H [120] Jailor of the Damned
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. World of Warcraft: What’s Next Panel Recap. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
  7. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. Shadowlands Preview: Bastion and the Kyrian Covenant. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
  8. ^ MrGM 2019-11-02. Blizzcon Shadowlands Interview: Frank Kowalkowski & Steve Danuser - Titanforging/Tier Sets & More! (23:30 - 25:00). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
  9. ^ a b c d N [75] See You on the Other Side
  10. ^  [Uuna's Doll] pet description
  11. ^  [Soul Coffer]
  12. ^ a b c A [71] The Echo of Ymiron
  13. ^ A [71] Anguish of Nifflevar
  14. ^ a b A [15] A Vision of the Past
  15. ^ N [72] The Honored Ancestors
  16. ^ N [75] Jin'arrak's End
  17. ^ N [72] Picking Up the Pieces
  18. ^ N [85H] Break the Godbreaker
  19. ^ N Death knight [103 - 110D] Neltharion's Lair: Braid of the Underking
  20. ^ The Day of the Dead has Arrived: "Can you feel it? The spirit world draws close during the Day of the Dead."
  21. ^ Azeroth Radio 2019-11-03. John Hight & Johnny Cash SHADOWLANDS Interview! | BLIZZCON 2019! (06:57). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
  22. ^ a b A [71] Into the World of Spirits
  23. ^ a b  [Spectrecles],  [Evoker's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Druidic Helmet of Second Sight],  [Stealther's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Shamanistic Helmet of Second Sight],  [Stalker's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Overlord's Helmet of Second Sight]
  24. ^ N [67] Vision of the Dead
  25. ^ N [75] Jin'arrak's End
  26. ^ N [75] Chill Out, Mon
  27. ^ N [77] Seek the Wind Serpent Goddess
  28. ^ a b Quetz'lun's quotes
  29. ^ A [72] The Forgotten Tale
  30. ^ a b The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, chapter 25
  31. ^ N [86] Ritual Artifacts
  32. ^ a b c  [Elixir of Shadow Sight]
  33. ^ N [97] Rites of the Talonpriests
  34. ^ N [97] Terokk's Fall
  35. ^ a b N [96] Ishaal's Orb
  36. ^ a b c N [96] Behind the Veil
  37. ^ N [96] Blades in the Dark
  38. ^ a b N [96] Back from Beyond
  39. ^ H [100] Seeking the Truth
  40. ^ a b Ner'zhul (tactics)#Quotes
  41. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 48
  42. ^ N Death knight [110] Aggregates of Anguish
  43. ^ N Death knight [103 - 110D] Neltharion's Lair: Braid of the Underking
  44. ^ a b Spirit Healer dialogue
  45. ^ H [110 - 120] The Curse of Mepjila
  46. ^ H [120] The Lost Spirit
  47. ^ H [120] Where He Died
  48. ^ a b The Legend of Odyn
  49. ^ Azeroth Radio 2019-11-03. John Hight & Johnny Cash SHADOWLANDS Interview! | BLIZZCON 2019! (10:15 - 12:40). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
  50. ^ The Lost Codex 2019-11-05. BlizzCon 2019 Interview: Steve Danuser & Frank Kowalkowski - Story and Systems | The Lost Codex (18:00 - 19:58). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
  51. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 57
  52. ^ N Death Knight [55] Into The Realm of Shadows
  53. ^ H [73] The Power to Destroy
  54. ^ N Death knight [101 - 110] Salanar the Horseman and Salanar the Horseman (mission)
  55. ^ N [70] World of Shadows
  56. ^ Day of the Dead
  57. ^ Zarhym (NPC)
  58. ^ H Shaman [60D] The Darkreaver Menace
  59. ^ a b World of Warcraft Official Strategy Guide, pg. 28
  60. ^  [Shao-Tien Spirit Dagger]
  61. ^ Fuel for the Voodoo#Completion
  62. ^ H [110 - 120] The Will of the Loa
  63. ^ King Rastakhan (tactics)
  64. ^ World of Warcraft: Shadowlands#Features
  65. ^ Roughneck Logger#Quotes
  66. ^ Warbringers: Jaina
  67. ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 132
  68. ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 45
  69. ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 131
  70. ^ Shadows & Light, pg. 152
  71. ^ N [67D] Everything Will Be Alright
  72. ^ Jeremy Feasel on Twitter
  73. ^ Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy
  74. ^ Edge of Night
  75. ^ Unholy Attainment: Essence of Shadow
  76. ^ H [98] The Blessing of Samedi
  77. ^ H [98] I Help Ya Kill Dem