Blizzard Entertainment has a long history of giving us in-depth lore, inspirational characters and heartbreaking cinematics across many of its properties. One property, in particular, is their MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game), World of Warcraft. Among the hundreds of NPCs (non-playable characters), they have given us some of the most inspirational and badass female characters within video games. For International Women’s Day, we are taking a look at 10 of our favorite ladies within the world of Azeroth and all its other worlds. If you don’t find your favorite on this list, check out last year’s!
DISCLAIMER: The following posts may contain spoilers for World of Warcraft. Haven’t played? Learn more about the game here!
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After her father’s death, Vanessa VanCleef rose to lead the Defias Brotherhood. But leading the bandits wasn’t enough revenge for her. She bided her time after being adopted by a family in Westfall. She used her new identity to slowly rebuild the Brotherhood before staging an all-out revolt against the Alliance and Stormwind. Heroes thought they saw the last of Vanessa after fighting her in Deadmines, but to their surprise, she pops back up in Legion, where she helps rogues take on the Burning Legion. While she may lack her father’s close hand-to-hand combat skills, Vanessa is a wiz with poisons and someone you want on your side rather than sneaking in behind your back.
Arguably one of the most badass female characters within World of Warcraft is the Banshee Queen herself – Sylvanas. The Ranger General was an essential character dating back to Warcraft 3 who finds herself on the wrong side of Arthas’ blade. Risen into undeath, Sylvanas has served as the leader of the Forsaken and the leader of the Horde. Over the last few expansions, Sylvanas has been heading down a dark path, but it seems like things are starting to look up again. With her upcoming novel, we are sure we are going to get an even closer look at what is going on in her head.
Some of the most influential characters in World of Warcraft didn’t start off as heroes or even become heroes in the end. In fact, Baroness Vashj is one of my favorite anti-heroes. We first see her join forces with Illidan during The Burning Crusade and we even head off the bring an end to her terror. But like everyone in this world, death isn’t the end. We learn in Shadowlands that Vashj has become a Baroness in Maldraxxus for the House of Eyes. Now heroes help her and Draka restore the glory of Maldraxxus and save the rest of the Shadowlands from the corruption of the Jailer.
First Arcanist Thalyssra
Another recent addition to the World of Warcraft lore is First Arcanist Thalyssra. She was first introduced in Legion when players answered a plea for help from Suramar. After staging an attack on Elisande and freeing her people and the city, she becomes the leader of the Nightfallen and aligns herself and her people with the Horde. While she may be new in-game, Thalyssra’s lore dates back to before the War of the Ancients when she spent her time underneath the protective barrier in Suramar. She is a strong mage and an even stronger strategist who helped during the Nightfallen Rebellion and Fourth War.
One of my favorite badass female characters within World of Warcraft lore is also one I find to be very underused. Lady Liandrin, the Blood Elf paladin matriarch of the Blood Knights, has been a quiet but strong force over the years. Her lore dates back to the time of war between the Elves and the Amani trolls all the way up to the game’s current events. Much of her story is told throughout additional novellas and novels within the universe. Still, we get to see her take up arms within the game, most notably during The Burning Crusade and Legion.
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There are more than a handful of moments within World of Warcraft that will pull at your heartstrings. And one particular story is the death and rebirth of Lillian Voss. Those players who have leveled Forsaken characters will have interacted with the poor soul from the start of her depressing tale. But Lillian doesn’t wallow in self-pity for long. She goes on a long path of revenge before finally finding a sense of peace in her new life. Recently she has taken her place as a pseudo leader of the Foresaken alongside Calia Menethil.
One of World of Warcraft‘s longest lore secrets has been the fate of Alleria Windrunner and Turalyon. After heading off to Outland, the two became separated from the others and we were left wondering what happened. We finally got our answer during Legion when the two returned alongside the Army of Light. During her time away, Alleria made a connection with the Void, granting her power. But at what cost? Over the last few years, we have gotten a closer look at Alleria and I hope she doesn’t go down the same path as her sister.
Moira has been a Dwarven household name since the beginning of World of Warcraft. As the daughter of King Magni and leader of the Dark Iron Dwarves, she has solidified her spot in the game’s lore. But Moira hasn’t always been on the good side of her Dwarven brethren. It took years after the death of her husband for her to rejoin the others in Iron Forge, but Moira has proven that she is an asset to their people. Moira’s fiery personality is perfect for keeping the others in line and her sharp wit is second to no one.
Another recent addition to the badass women in World of Warcraft is Mayla Highmountain, the High Chieftain of the Highmountain Tauren that were introduced during Legion. Players helped save her people and in return, Mayla and the Highmoutain Tauren aided the Alliance and Horde against the Burning Legion. In the time since Mayla has reconnected with Baine and the other Tauren tribes and joined the Horde Council as the speaker for her people.
There have been more than a handful of moments within World of Warcraft that have had me had me in tears. But none worse than the death of Ysera during Legion. And then again during her rebirth in Shadowlands. Just imagine me at 4 am in the morning just a few hours after the game’s release balling my eyes out. Ysera has been a part of the lore since the beginning and as a Druid main, she holds a special place in my heart. But that isn’t the only reason! Ysera has played a significant role across multiple storylines and I feel her story isn’t done yet.
This article was originally published in 3/2022.
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