Thrall – What will happen to him?


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.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 4:35 am

I am honestly feeling the epic route. They stated that they do still have plans for him, and I dont think that plan is something silly like giving him a hut somewhere to relax and die of old age.

2 Justin W. March - 2012 at 5:19 am

I think his child will be his successor and ultimately force/fight Garrosh for the throne. It can give a lot of depth to the overall story of the Horde as the war between the Alliance and the Horde progresses. Internal conflict in the middle of a power struggle always makes for good story. I’m just curious if it will ever happen, and if it does when.

3 John March - 2012 at 7:33 am


4 a dude March - 2012 at 8:26 am

Basically Thrall has taken on a roll of world protector. He will most likely lead the charge against upcoming world enemies like Neptulon, Azshara, the Old Gods, and perhaps the burning legion. I see Thrall now being the poster child of azeroth, and his family more or less as what keeps him mortal, sane, and vulnerable.

5 J Williard March - 2012 at 8:28 am

Yes, you mean Metzen all but said Thrall is his favorite in that he actually said Malfurion was his favorite.

6 J Williard March - 2012 at 8:30 am

How does the alliance not have a character like Thrall to define it? The OP is very horde biased it would seem. Turalyon? Someone must be unfamiliar with the lore surrounding Variann Wrynn.

7 Cocles March - 2012 at 9:58 am

@JWilliard – My quote is from last year’s BlizzCon. Your quote is from 2009. Looks like Metzen changed his mind. It’s also pretty common knowledge that Thrall is Metzen’s Mary Sue.

As for the leaders, yes.

Doomhammer embodied the Horde. His successor is Thrall.
Lothar embodied the Alliance. His successor is Turalyon.

Variann Wrynn is the Alliance counter to Garrosh, not Thrall. I apologize if I seem biassed towards the Horde. Truthfully, I just wish Blizzard would give the Alliance its best characters. Most of the Horde’s faction leaders were playable in WarCraft 3. On the Alliance side, all we had was Tyrande and a handful of characters we’d barely heard of before WoW. Malfurion? Nowhere to be seen really until recently. Muradin? The same. Turalyon? Still missing. So yes, I do think the Horde has stronger lore, but that’s not bragging… it’s complaining.

@adude I think you’re on the right track.

@JustinW Are you sure Garrosh will stay in power for that long? Your idea would definitely be epic, but I think Baine and company (along with Rexxar & Nazgrel hopefully 😉 ) will have taken Garrosh out by then. In fact, I don’t see him outlasting Mists of Pandaria.

@Milan I hope you’re right!

8 cydereal March - 2012 at 5:46 pm

Garrosh is a mirror of Varian. They’re both headstrong and pining for war with the other. Thrall had less interest in war with the Alliance. Any war contrived for the story would have had to have been initiated by the Alliance or to have gone directly contrary to Thrall’s character. Thrall was seeking a homeland, not total conquest.

Thrall’s ascent makes sense, as does a future where Thrall does not return to power. Both the Horde and the Alliance have leaders in power that facilitate the factional war that’s supposed to make up the core of Mists of Pandaria. My guess is the status quo lasts at least through the end of Mists.

9 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 8:27 pm

What confuses me is if Thrall was all about peace why didn’t it occur to him that maybe if he was still on the throne there might be peace? I mean all Thrall has to do is say “Varian, you are being a dick. Stop it. If you don’t stop it you will just look like a little idiot, and eventually members of your faction will wonder why you are not striving for some peace.” It would make no sense if thrall didn’t continue to involve himself in the politics of the Horde vs Alliance conflict.

10 Stormcrow March - 2012 at 10:24 pm

I don’t see how Varian could define the alliance when it seems half the alliance doesn’t really support his style or methods when dealing with issues, at least the Lo’ Gash side of him. I have huge gaps in my lore knowledge so please correct me if i am wrong, but from what I have read people like Jaina Proudmore and even his own son don’t support his actions most the time. I’m not really sure about other alliance race leaders but if most the major contenders of his faction don’t support him then i don’t see how the alliance as a whole get behind him like the horde did with thrall? Secondly i felt (from the books) that Anduin was possibly being groomed to become the alliances equivelant to thrall, any thoughts on that and what blizzard has in mind for him? Seems to me he has a lot of the same ideals and desires that thrall has.

11 Gigi March - 2012 at 8:56 pm

For one I strongly suspect that Thrall will die an epic death, probably sacrificing himself against Sargeras or something similar. He will do something that will weaken them to where we can defeat him.

Perhaps when he dies he will be able to open up the communication from the ancestors to the orcs? He already brought the elements back to the orcs, he could be what brings back the ancestors – I think it would be fitting lorewise that the ancestors saw him as worthy for living a life of the ‘old ways’ before corruption. I believe his child (which will probably be a girl, to be honest) will eventually be leader of the Horde (probably WoW2). My money is on him bringing back the communication so he would still essentially be ‘in’ the game as a guide.

I think we are all missing the most IMPORTANT question…. what color will his baby be? lol

12 Gigi March - 2012 at 9:08 pm

Also I am beginning to suspect that Garrosh will not die anytime soon… I seriously thought by the end of this expansion he would be gone but no… So I will amend that and say it will be during MoP that he will die… or at least become his own orc faction for us to defeat…

But seriously… do you think he will eventually be corrupted by the Legion? I could see it happening, he is easily controlled by playing his ego – *ahem* Magatha Grimtotem…

13 King Craze March - 2012 at 6:20 am

I met Thrall in Warcraft3 & FT demo and i played my heart till i bought Wc1 Wc2 Wc3 including expansions (got them for B-Day) i have always had a love of the Orcs esspecially Thrall and Grom Hellscream they were amazing and like the death of Grom Thrall`s time will come but it will be in the final expansions no matter what happens I CAN GARANTEE THAT.

14 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 2:28 pm

With garrosh dying or just being put off of the throne… I wonder what role thrall will play.

15 Cocles March - 2012 at 2:40 pm

My guess is he’ll be involved with giving his blessing to the new Orc leader. I’m still hoping for Nazgrel, but Blizzard seems to have forgotten about everyone in Outland.

16 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 4:41 pm

I would just tweet it to every person on their lore team lol. They did say that the expansion will focus on Garrosh and Varian and Vol’jin will play a role. Now Vol’jin will be helping out with the Zandalari who are allied with the Mogu but he might also play a roll in dealing with Garrosh and maybe becoming the new warchief? I dont know if I will go that far but who knows.

17 Cocles March - 2012 at 4:57 pm

I have a feeling our fight with Garrosh will end with Vol’jin thrusting a knife into Garrosh’s back (just as Vol’jin said he would).

18 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 5:01 pm

It Will be very nice! Can’t wait to see what happens with Thrall in the long run. Honestly who knows… Maybe they will put him back on the throne.

19 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 2:11 pm

Gameplanet: Can you tell us a bit more about the upcoming raid on Orgrimmar?

Brack: Sure. We haven’t designed very much of it right now, we just know we do want to have the recognition from the Horde and Alliance that we have to depose Garrosh as the leader of the Horde and reinstate Thrall as Warchief. I’m really excited about it from a player perspective, because I think if you’re an Alliance player, the idea about doing a raid into the heart of your enemies capital is really satisfying, and deposing the enemy leader is super gratifying. On the Horde side, it’s going to be super cool to have a raid in your own home town, and who doesn’t want Thrall to be the leader of the Horde?

J allen brack works for blizzard.…s-of-Pandaria/

This is the source.

20 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 2:12 pm

That might not be 100%, but who knows!

21 Cocles March - 2012 at 9:51 pm

Anything’s possible, but wow… it’d be nuts if they just crammed Thrall back in as WarChief. Thrall is simply so powerful now. I don’t know if Alliance players would be happy with the idea of the Horde having a WarChief who could pwn any Alliance faction leader without breaking a sweat. I suppose he could “give up his power”, but that’d just create a new type of Blizzard cliche: the demi-god who gives up his or her powers. Plus… uhg, it’d hedge the hell out of his character development. It’d be like Malfurion giving up his power to go hang out with Cenarius all day. A step backwards. All that said… anything’s possible.

22 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 4:32 am

Honestly though a lot of his power at the end just came from the Dragon Soul and the dragons helping him out. You saw the type of stuff that happened in hour of twilight. He is a strong character, but he is still mortal. Besides I didnt get mad about the Alliance having Varian go Wolf god mode in Wolfheart. lol.

23 Cocles March - 2012 at 4:38 am

Perhaps my gauge is off, but Thrall has definitely been stomping around in Mary Sue land throughout Cata. Is he not now the most powerful Shaman on Azeroth (and in Outland)?

24 Milan Sovilj March - 2012 at 4:45 am

In some ways he is. What I was saying is that near the end of 4.3 most of that power was held in the Dragon Soul. Before that we see him using his power to hold the maelstrom from collapsing, but that was with the help of some other powerful shamans. He is good we the elements, but he really doesnt feel like a god to me. I am having trouble recalling a godlike event that was accomplished by him without the aid of the aspects.

Some could also argue that Varian is the strongest warrior around. (Spoilers if you didn’t read wolfheart) He fucked garrosh up in wolfheart, and he apparently has some strange powers. (Spoiler end)

I dont think it is a step back from anything considering that in many ways this is the right thing. This will unite the Horde, and it will in many ways lead to some sort of peace. This is what I dont understand. Blizzard wants the War in warcraft, but that might not happen if Thrall is on the throne.

25 Madruga April - 2012 at 6:46 am

Cocles, I love your page, every new post makes me shiver. I love your speculation and often come back here for more!

I never posted anything, but I saw something in an interview that bugged me and is related to this post… What do you make of this?

“Gameplanet: Can you tell us a bit more about the upcoming raid on Orgrimmar?

Brack: Sure. We haven’t designed very much of it right now, we just know we do want to have the recognition from the Horde and Alliance that we have to depose Garrosh as the leader of the Horde and reinstate Thrall as Warchief. I’m really excited about it from a player perspective, because I think if you’re an Alliance player, the idea about doing a raid into the heart of your enemies capital is really satisfying, and deposing the enemy leader is super gratifying. On the Horde side, it’s going to be super cool to have a raid in your own home town, and who doesn’t want Thrall to be the leader of the Horde?”


I really find that lame… Now, I prefer even the Thrall dying by Garrosh stuff…

26 Rory Evershed October - 2012 at 4:55 am

Imagen how much it would cost Thrall to repair if they killed him!!!

27 Jennings December - 2012 at 7:15 am

I really wish Thrall didn’t have to go.

28 LilTerra December - 2012 at 6:51 am


Or Vol’jin can shoot a poison arrow into his Garrosh’s heart.

29 Lich king January - 2013 at 11:04 am

killing thrall in this epic end will over all wow. warcraft and story mean warcraft that will be the end of wow or eventualy just 3milions or more players thrall must better return in an epic battle taking his throne from garrosh but a returning of The Lich King Bolvar making the things dificulty in an expansion and another to be how Bolvar resurect deathwings and ilidan and form a deadly aliance but hero unite and defeat him with help of pandaren defeating them forever

30 Konador May - 2013 at 7:38 am

Vol jin should be next leader of horde

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