He’s arguably the most famous character in WoW’s lore, but in Cataclysm, he was given a complete overhaul. Chris Metzen has all but admitted Thrall is his favorite character, “It’s not that I’m an Alliance or Horde fan; I’m a Thrall fan.” So, why all the recent changes?
From a writer’s perspective, it’s obvious Metzen was having trouble being unbiassed when it came to “Horde versus the Alliance”, since his baby was the leader of one. By lifting Thrall out of the Horde, it’s definitely easier to keep things balanced. Now though, Thrall is the World Shaman… a strange place for him to be for those of us who still think of him as Warchief. Will Thrall be Warchief again? I doubt it. So, what then does Metzen and company have in store for the former Warchief of the Horde?As it stands, Thrall and Aggra, his wife, are currently expecting their first child. So, we know there will be a bloodline. Thrall’s story could eventually simply move on to his progeny. But that’s his legacy, what about Thrall himself? For that, here’s the question we should be asking: Does Metzen have the balls to kill his favorite character?
Epic heroes grow old and die. It’s part of what defines them. Beowulf, King Arthur, Hercules, and Robin Hood all grew old and died. This is what Frank Miller sought to do for Batman in “Dark Knight Returns”. Ideally, I think Metzen eventually needs to kill Thrall… but I just don’t see him doing that. Why? Let’s take a look at how Thrall has been treated so far.
Thrall now harnesses the power of a demi-god; he even stood in for a missing Dragon Aspect. This is the other reason, I don’t see Blizzard ever making Thrall Warchief again. It just no longer works. It’d be a step backwards for the character. Plus, as the World Shaman, Thrall would be a bit overpowered as WarChief. It’s the same reason why Malfurion is now held “above it all”.
Frankly, I think this was a mistake. Thrall has been the poster-child of what it means to be “Horde”. The Horde itself is a better defined faction, because it has this ideal, an in game character to compare itself against. (The Alliance has this character, Turalyon, but he isn’t in game.) Without Thrall, the Horde will become less defined. I’d rather have seen the Alliance strengthened. Lifting Thrall out of the Horde was the easy way out. Don’t get me wrong; story needs conflict and Garrosh has been brilliant for that. I just wish Thrall’s absence wasn’t permanent. Sure, it’s tough to not be biassed, but that’s the burden of being a good storyteller.
So how has Thrall been treated? Instead of risking bias against Thrall, Metzen chose to Mary Sue the heck out of him, while gimping what it means to be “Horde” in the process. With Metzen and the rest of Blizzard treating Thrall with such kid gloves, can we really see them killing him?
With all this in mind, here’s what I think: Thrall will have kids, grow old into a Ben Kenobi mentor figure, and ultimately be granted Malfurion Stormrage style immortality. But whereas Malfurion achieved his immortality through his connection to the World Tree, Thrall will acquire his through his ties to the elements. What will Thrall become? The Shaman version of Malfurion Stormrage.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. I just think it’d be more epic if say… Thrall grew old and died defeating some great evil. (And I mean *died*, not become some elemental spirit the writers could bring back anytime they wished.) But who knows? Perhaps Metzen and Blizzard will change course and decide to go the epic route. We’ll just have to wait and see.