World of Warcraft has been providing an immersive world since 2004, and many elements of the game have changed during this period. One change was the perceived status of the player character. In the ‘classic’ days of WoW, characters were just another member of their faction, either Alliance or Horde, and were assigned missions and tasks as just another face in the crowd. However, over recent expansions, player characters became recognized as the “Champion” of their faction. This promotion included increased interaction with leadership figures and faction rulers. Involving these figures in the player’s story provided opportunities to advance their lore and growth as well, including the occasional leadership change. When these events occurred in a novel instead of in-game, a player who did not read the extra material encountered a new leader assigning them quests without background or explanation. This situation was further complicated by the updated leveling system, which allowed players to freely switch between expansions.
This is the leadership status at the conclusion of each expansion with a few details about the individuals. Allied races are limited to those featured prominently in the main story.
World of Warcraft
Dwarves – Magni Bronzebeard. King of Khaz Modan. Lord and Thane of Ironforge. The oldest of the three Bronzebeard brothers, and father of Moira. Magni lead the defense of Ironforge during the Second War and pledged the dwarven nation’s support to the Alliance after the war.
Gnomes – Gelbin Mekkatorgue. King of the Gnomes. High Tinker of Gnomeregan. A master craftsman, Gelbin was responsible for designing the Deeprun Tram, the gnome’s mechanostrider mount, and participated in the design of the dwarven siege engines during the Second War.
Humans – Bolvar Fordragon. Regent of Stormwind. Highlord Fordragon was a highly decorated and respected paladin. Named Regent of Stormwind when the king went missing, and a very young Anduin was named in succession. During the Ahn’Qiraj War, Bolvar entered into agreement with Warchief Thrall, to create a joint Alliance and Horde army called the Might of Kalimdor. This was the first time the two factions fought together.
Night Elves – Tyrande Whisperwind. High Priestess of Elune. Ruler of Darnassus. Tyrande served as High Priestess of Elune, General of the Night Elf Sentinels, and leader of the night elves for 10,000 years. She fought the Burning Legion’s first invasion during the War of the Ancients and witnessed the Great Sundering of Azeroth.
Orcs – Thrall, Warchief of the Horde. Leader of the Orcs. Orphaned son of Durotan and Draka. Raised by the human Lord Blackmore as an enslaved gladiator. Thrall escaped, freed the imprisoned orcs from the Second War’s internment camps, and brought them across the sea to Kalimdor. Established the Horde along with Caine Bloodhoof of the Tauren and Vol’Jin of the Darkspear Trolls, and founded the orc capital city of Orgrimmar.
Forsaken – Sylvanas Windrunner, Queen of the Forsaken. As Ranger-General of Silvermoon, Sylvanas lead the defense of Quel’Thalas from the Scourge invasion, during which she was slain by the death knight Arthas Menethil. Arthas raised Sylvanas as an undead banshee and kept her body preserved to mock the defiant General. Sylvanas broke free of Arthas’ control and organized other freed undead into the Forsaken. Founded the capital of Undercity beneath the ruins of Lordaeron, and joined the Horde, swearing to defeat Arthas, the Lich King.
Tauren – Caine Bloodhoof, High Chieftain of the united Tauren tribes. Founded Thunder Bluff in Mulgore to defend his people from extermination by the centaur. Encountered Thrall shortly after his arrival on Kalimdor. A strong friendship formed between the two warriors after Thrall lead the orcs with Caine against a centaur attack. Caine helped the orcs settle in Durotan and joined Thrall as founding member of the Horde.
Trolls – Vol’Jin, Chieftain of the Darkspear Trolls. Son and student of witch doctor Sen’jin. Became leader of the tribe following his father’s death. Swore allegiance to the Horde after Thrall and the orcs saved the trolls from invasion by the Alliance forces lead by Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore.
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Draenei – Velen, Leader of the Draenei. Prophet of the Naaru. Led his followers from the Burning Legion invasion of their home world Argus 13,000 years ago. Their ship, and eventual capital city, the Exodar, crashed on the Azuremyst Isles off the northwest coast of Kalimdor. Joined the Alliance in recognition of their ability to repel the first Burning Legion invasion of Azeroth.
Blood Elves – Lor’Themar Theron, Regent Lord of Quel’Thalas and ruler of the Blood Elves. Survived the invasion of Quel’Thalas by Arthas and the Scourge. Was named Regent Lord by Prince Kael’Thas Sunstrider when Kael’Thas went to Outland. Following Kael’Thas’ death, Lor’Themar became the leader of the Blood Elves and maintained the title of Regent Lord, refusing the title of Prince. Lor’Themar was introduced to the Horde by his former childhood friend, Sylvanas Windrunner of the Forsaken.
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Humans – Varian Wrynn. King of Stormwind, High King of the Grand Alliance. Kidnapped by the Defias Brotherhood while traveling to Theramore, as relayed in the Classic Alliance quest line, The Missing Diplomat. Varian escaped but lost his memory in the process. Was captured by the Horde and enslaved as a gladiator, earning the name “Lo’Gosh” meaning “Ghost Wolf” for his fierce fighting style. He regained his memory and escaped once again. Varian returned to Stormwind where he revealed his advisor, Lady Katrana Prestor, as the black dragon broodmother Onyxia; responsible for his kidnapping and other crimes against the crown. Varian defeated Onyxia and returned to the throne as King.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Dwarves – Council of the Three Hammers. Magni Bronzebeard performed an ancient ritual in Old Ironforge to save Khaz Modan from destruction during the Cataclysm. However, the ritual transformed him into a statue of diamond. The Council of the Tree Hammers was formed to fill the power vacuum and prevent civil war. The Council members are Moira Thaurissan, Queen-Regent of the Dark Iron clan; Muradin Bronzebeard of the Bronzebeard clan, and Falstad Wildhammer, High Thane of the Wildhammer clan.
Worgen – Genn Greymane, King of Gilneas. Although a founding member of the Alliance of Lordaeron, King Greymane was a proud and stubborn man. After the Second War, he withdrew from the Alliance and constructed the Greymane Wall, isolating Gilneas from the rest of Azeroth. During the Third War, Greymane had Archmage Arugal summon feral worgen, to further protect Gilneas. Instead, the worgen curse swept through the population. King Greymane rejoined the Alliance after accepting Night Elf relocation assistance in the wake of the Forsaken’s invasion of Gilneas. His son was murdered by Sylvanas Windrunner during the attack.
Orcs – Garrosh Hellscream, Warchief of the Horde, Leader of the Orcs. Garrosh grew up in Outland, son of the legendary orc warrior, Grommash Hellscream. He was brought to Azeroth by Thrall and distinguished himself in Northrend against the Lich King. Thrall felt it necessary to return to Outland after the Cataclysm disrupted the elemental plans so he stepped down and named Garrosh the new Warchief of the Horde. Garrosh emulated the old Horde of his father; he attacked Alliance territory, elevated the orcs above the other Horde races, and persecuted all who spoke against him.
Goblins – Jastor Gallywix, Trade Prince of the Bilgewater Cartel. Gallywix forsake traditional goblin neutrality and joined the Horde when the Bilgewater Cartel’s island home of Kezan was destroyed by volcanic eruptions during the Cataclysm. Gallywix settled the goblins in Azshara, radically altering the landscape and building a “pleasure palace” to appeal to his tacky tastes.
Tauren – Baine Bloodhoof, High Chieftain. Son of Caine Bloodhoof. Baine ascended to Chieftain following his father’s death by Garrosh in a dubious duel for Horde leadership. His first action was to reclaim Thunder Bluff from a Grimtotem attack. Baine supported the Darkspear Rebellion against Garrosh’s tyrannical rule. During the chaos, Baine entered into a strong friendship with Prince Anduin Wrynn, son of King Varian Wrynn.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
No leadership changes
Trolls – Vol’Jin, Warchief of the Horde, Chieftain of the Darkspear Trolls. Named Warchief of the Horde after the Darkspear Rebellion and Garrosh’s imprisonment for war crimes.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
No leadership changes
World of Warcraft: Legion
Humans – Anduin Wrynn, High King of the Alliance, King of Stormwind. Prince Anduin Wrynn was crowned King in the wake of Varian’s death battling the Legion’s demonic invasion on the Broken Shore. His sudden transition to leadership was eased by the wisdom and friendship of King Genn Greymane.
Forsaken – Sylvanas Windrunner, Warchief of the Horde, Queen of the Forsaken. Sylvanas became Warchief at Vol’Jin’s bequest as he lay dying from a poisoned Legion blade wound. Her ascension fueled the animosity between the Horde and Alliance, as many in the Alliance, particularly King Greymane, held her responsible for Varian’s death. She would launch the devastating Fourth War against the Alliance.
Trolls – Rokhan, Chieftain Representative, Champion of the Darkspear Trolls. Rokhan was a veteran shadowhunter and skilled Horde scout. He became the Darkspear leader following Vol’Jin’s death.
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
Kul’Tiras – Jania Proudmoore, Grand Admiral of Kul’Tiras. Once reviled by the Kul’Tirans as a traitor, Jania was named Grand Admiral for revealing the true treason of Lady Priscilla Ashvane and bringing home the lost fleet during the events of the Fourth War.
Goblins – Monte Gazlowe, Trade Prince of the Bilgewater Cartel. Gallywix left the Bilgewater Cartel as the Fourth War came to a close and Sylvanas Windrunner abandoned the Horde. Gazlowe took over the role of Trade Prince. His new economic polices, including allowing unions and paid days off, improved goblin working conditions and lives.
Zandalar – Talanji, Queen and Horde Council Representative of the Zandalari Empire. Talanji ascended to the throne after her father, King Rastakhan, died during the Battle of Dazar’alor in the Fourth War. Unlike her father and his aged advisors, Talanji supported improved ties with the Horde and welcomed their help in exposing treachery at court and the Blood Troll threat. Following the war, she agreed to represent Zandalar on the Horde Council.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Humans – Turalyon, Lord Commander of the Alliance Forces, Regent of Stormwind. One of the first five paladins of the Knights of the Silver Hand, Turalyon’s fate was a mystery for decades when he and Alleria Windrunner were stranded in Outland following the destruction of the Dark Portal in the Second War. They were discovered alive during the Army of Legionfall’s attack on the Legion world of Argus, fighting on the Army of Light. He was promoted to Lord Commander after the Legion’s defeat and name Regent by King Anduin Wrynn during Anduin’s absence.
Forsaken – The New Desolate Council was formed after Sylvanas Windrunner left Azeroth for the Shadowlands. The Council includes Lilian Voss (pictured), Calia Menethil, Deathstalker Commander Belmont, Dark Ranger Velonara, and Master Apothecary Faranell. The decision to lead by committee was made to ensure equal representation of the Forsaken’s diverse voices and viewpoints.
Orcs – Thrall, Chieftain and Representative of the Orcs of Durator. Thrall returned to Orgrimmar after the events of Shadowlands but not as Warchief. Garrosh’s and Sylvanas’ abuse of power resulted in the creation of the Horde Council. The initial Council members were Thrall, Baine Bloodhoof, Rokhan, Lor’themar Theron, Lilian Voss, Monte Gazlowe, Thalyssra, Ji Firepaw, and Geya’rah. Caravan Leader Kiro and Chieftain Mayla Highmountain joined the Council later.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight
Game in progress