N'zoth shows Azshara the Black Empire she could rule in Warbringers
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft Retail: Strongest Characters Ranked by Lore

These WoW characters don't get to show off their power to its fullest, but their lore tells us what they're capable of!

With how game mechanics work, a character’s strength given their lore doesn’t always match the strength we see when they fight. Particularly in MMOs, where the player takes on enemies that NPCs shouldn’t have an issue defeating. These are the strongest characters in World of Warcraft Retail ranked by lore.

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The 10 Strongest Characters in WoW Retail Ranked by Lore

10. Khadgar

Khadgar was the apprentice of Medivh, who was corrupted when he was still in the womb during one of his mother’s fights as the Guardian of Tirisfal. When Medivh’s corruption started to show, Khadgar was the one who defeated him, and he sealed away Sargeras as well.

When playing WoW Retail, you see Khadgar more often in recent expansions. He’s generally given a leadership role, but he shows off his magical prowess often enough that he can’t be doubted.

Additionally, Khadgar recognizes the importance of supporting his allies. For example, when he empowers the other faction commanders against Gul’dan instead of trying to join the fight directly. Khadgar has a lot of strength. But he has the wisdom to know when to fight and when to gather allies for help.

9. The Lich King

Key art of the Lich King in front of Icecrown Citadel
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Perhaps one of the most iconic bosses in World of Warcraft history, The Lich King is also among the strongest NPCs according to his lore. I remember first seeing Northrend when Wrath of the Lich King was released and feeling his grip on the continent. And that’s amplified by the quests building up his power as you work towards facing him in Icecrown Citadel.

The Lich King wasn’t Arthas originally. It was actually Ner’zhul. However, Ner’zhul betrayed Kil’jaeden, merging with Arthas to create the version of The Lich King that we see in Wrath. His strength only grew as Arthas was already powerful before he was joined by Ner’zhul as The Lich King.

He decimated the High Elf population, killed their general and made her into a banshee, destroyed Lordaeron, resurrected Kel’Thuzad, and summoned Archimonde. And those are far from his only feats.

8. Aegwynn

The only female Guardian of Tirisfal, Aegwynn is recognized as the most powerful Guardian. She’s also considered among the greatest sorcerers ever. Leading up to her becoming a Guardian, her predecessors were being manipulated by the Council more and more. However, Aegwynn refused to be a puppet, and she focused on the Guardian’s original role of eliminating demonic threats.

Aegwynn read the works of Meitre at a young age. Much younger than even High Elven mages were allowed to attempt reading them. Then, she’d find another set of his works that were lost. This let her summon Aluneth and bind it to a greatstaff, where she’d learn to harness its power fully over the following years.

She held the position of Guardian for over 1,000 years. During her time as Guardian, she helped defeat the Avatar of Sargeras and sealed him in the Tomb of Sargeras. We face this threat at Aegwynn’s request in the form of the Fallen Avatar, one of the hardest retail boss fights.

7. Old Gods

C'thun in Retail WoW Temple of Ahn'Qiraj
Screenshot by GameSkinny

The most iconic of the Old Gods are likely C’thun and Yogg-saron, but N’Zoth and Y’Shaarj complete the group of four Azerothian Old Gods. They were created by Void Lords to find the sleeping Titan World Souls — then corrupt them. These Gods are one of the most common and powerful threats seen in WoW as a franchise.

However, they might be second to the strength of the Burning Legion. They’ve persisted since the primordial age of Azeroth. Only two of them are officially deceased — Y’shaarj and G’huun, a fifth God who was created when the Pantheon was trying to research the Old Gods.

The Old Gods are strong enough that the Titans themselves had to intervene to destroy Y’Shaarj. They were responsible for the creation of the Emerald Nightmare, the corruption of Azshara and her people into Naga, as well as the corruption that created Deathwing.

C’thun and Yogg-saron were defeated in-game in Ahn’Qiraj and Ulduar, respectively. And N’zoth was destroyed by the Forge of Origination. However, there are more Old Gods in existence. Even though Magni declared Azeroth free of them, their corruption still lingers. Additionally, three of the Azerothian Old Gods were defeated, but not officially listed as dead.

6. Queen Azshara

Queen Azshara tries to protect her city during the Sundering
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Queen Azshara is considered one of the greatest magic users who ever lived. Before the Well of Eternity was destroyed, she was the most beloved queen of the Night Elves. As she practiced her control of the Well’s magic, she infused it into her scepter.

This gave her control over bodies of water and the creatures within them. She was strong enough that Mannoroth believed that only Sargeras, Kil’Jaeden, and Archimonde would’ve been able to face her with a chance of winning.

Azshara wasn’t a benevolent ruler, and she was convinced by Sargeras to open a portal for the Burning Legion to enter Azeroth under the belief that it would result in the creation of a world built to her idea of perfection. And, of course, she would be the ruler of this world.

She opened the portal, letting many of her people die. Then, when the Sundering happened, she single-handedly tried to shield Zin-Azshari, but her power wasn’t enough. That’s when she made the choice to join with N’zoth, creating the Naga empire, which she ruled over. 

5. Archimonde

Archimonde was a leader of the Eredar on Argus, but he’d end up joining Sargeras out of a desire for power. No one is strong enough to be Sargeras’ right hand, but Archimonde took that position and became a leader of the Burning Legion. He headed the invasion of Lordaeron after destroying Dalaran on his own. It took the power of thousands of ancestral wisp guardians and Nature itself to defeat Archimonde, stopping him from corrupting Nordrassil.

4. Kil’Jaeden

Like Archimonde, Kil’Jaeden was an Eredar leader on Argus who joined Sargeras. He’s also the final boss of one of my favorite raids: the Sunwell. When Sargeras was sealed by Khadgar, Kil’Jaeden stepped into the role of leader for the Burning Legion. He sent invasions to Azeroth and worked to assimilate races into the ranks of the Burning Legion. However, when he was finally about to arrive in person through the Sunwell, he was banished back to the Nether by Anveena, the embodiment of the Sunwell.

3. Void Lords

The Void Lords are the rulers of Void energies, and they created the Old Gods. The details of the Void Lords aren’t known, and we have yet to see them World of Warcraft. However, since they created the Old Gods, who are among the strongest NPCs, they must be stronger by quite a margin.

In fact, after witnessing their power, Sargeras left the Pantheon and created the Burning Legion to eradicate life in the universe. What he saw was enough to convince him that an empty universe was better than one ruled by the Void Lords.

2. Sargeras

Fallen Avatar in WoW Tomb of Sargeras
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Even when a world was almost completely corrupted by the Void Lords, Sargeras was able to destroy it with one strike. As a Titan, Sargaras was once part of the Titan Pantheon. And he was strong enough to defeat them. Between slicing a planet in half and being stronger than Aman’thul, who removed Y’shaarj alone and destroyed him, Sargeras is easily a contender for the position of strongest NPC in WoW.

1. First Ones

So, it’s hard to not put the First Ones at the top of my strongest characters in WoW list because they created everything. They crafted all of reality, but I doubt that we’ll meaningfully see them in WoW at any point in the near future.

At most, we get to see some of their direct creations in Shadowlands, such as Oribos and Zovaal the Jailer. However, it’s difficult to imagine that any creature they created would be able to face them in combat without being overwhelmed, given that they are basically gods of a different caliber.

And that wraps up the 10 strongest characters ranked by lore in World of Warcraft Retail. There are plenty of other NPCs who could get honorable mentions here, like Jaina, Sylvanas, or Thrall, but even they can’t match up alone to most of the ones listed. From here, head to our WoW guide hub for topics like how to look up your WoW character.

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Melissa Sarnowski
Melissa Sarnowski has been working as a gaming writer professionally for two years, having been at GameSkinny for over a year now as a horror beat writer. She has an English degree from University of Wisconsin - Madison. While she focuses on all things horror, she also enjoys cozy games, MMOs like FFXIV and WoW, and any and everything in between.