No matter how good an adventurer you are, eventually you will know the sting of death. Thankfully, death in the World of Warcraft isn't permanent.[1]

Death is a cosmic force that holds sway over every living thing in the Great Dark Beyond. Acting as a counterbalance to life, it is an unavoidable force that breeds despair in mortal hearts and pushes everything towards a state of entropic decay and eventual oblivion. It manifests in the form of necromantic magic[2] and is represented by the Shadowlands, the realm of the dead.[3]

When a living being dies, their spirit linger in the Veil before being shepherded by kyrian into the Shadowlands. There, spirits face the Arbiter in Oribos, who judges their soul and places them in one of the realms of the Shadowlands, where they will spend their afterlife. The five main realms are Bastion, Ardenweald, Revendreth, Maldraxxus and the Maw, though countless others exist.[4]

When a mortal life expires, an echo of it remains behind. The most powerful mortals leave the most resonant echoes.[5]

On some occasions, a living being may go to a different place than the Shadowlands. For example, the spirits of the Wild Gods are bound to the Emerald Dream,[6] where they go following a period of hibernation in Ardenweald upon their death.[7] Liches return to their phylactery,[8] and less fortunate souls may be raised into a necromancer's service. Elementals killed outside their planes simply reform over time in the Elemental Plane. Most Stormheim vrykul are brought to the Halls of Valor by Odyn's Val'kyr.[9] Some vrykul may end up in Helheim, death realm for the vrykul. There they turn into kvaldir who work for Helya.[10] Sylvanas Windrunner raised new members to the Forsaken[11] including undead adventurers[12] with the aid of the Val'kyr, even having Kyra bring back Derek Proudmoore against his will despite the fact that he died decades ago in the Second War.[13]

Demons, when killed in mortal planes, are sent back to the Twisting Nether to reform.[3]

The Light as wielded by paladins and priests can be used to bring back to life the recently deceased,[14][15][16][17] or undeath as was the case with Calia Menethil.[18] Some souls appear to travel to a Light-based afterlife after dying, such as Uuna's parents, with Blademaster Telaamon apparently believing that all paths ultimately led back to the Light,[19] and the naaru are also able to bring mortal souls to the Light like A'dal did with Bridenbrad in order to save him from undeath.[20] The draenei were also able to house the souls of their departed within Auchindoun for centuries. Similarly, the Shadowmoon clan kept their ancestors in the Shadowmoon Burial Grounds traditionally.

If a being of Death is killed on the mortal plane, their essence returns to the Shadowlands to be reformed, similar to how demons reform in the Twisting Nether.[21] However, if such a being—either the soul of a former mortal or a member of an endemic Shadowlands race—is destroyed in the Shadowlands, they die permanently. Their energy then disperses and joins the greater whole of the magic of Death. This is the case both for souls of former mortals and for endemic Shadowlands races.[22][23][24] If a "workforce" creature like a dredger or steward dies, another member of the same race will eventually manifest to take the place of the one that was killed.[25][26] Should a soul fall in the Shadowlands, while not even a necromancer of the Maldraxxi could bring them back, necromancy could animate their fallen body as a mindless servant.[27]

Most servants of death on Azeroth are undead with a few major characters listed below.

Major characters related to death

Death culture within races

Night elf

When a night elf dies, they are typically buried within the earth.[citation needed]  They believe that when the valiant die, Elune sends them riding across the sky as stars.[29] Upon death they turn into wisps.


Before the destruction of Draenor, the draenei dead were entombed within Auchindoun and watched over by the Auchenai order. Since as far back as when they lived on Argus, souls of great eredar and draenei heroes have been installed in mechanical guardians called vigilants to aid their people after death.


Orcs hold great reverence for their ancestors, who their shaman regularly commune with for advice. On Draenor/Outland, the souls of dead orcs gather at Oshu'gun, the Mountain of Spirits. Orc heroes are burned at pyres for their funerals.

The Shadowmoon clan has a history of necromancy using the power of the Void, but it has long since been outlawed. Even so, the Shadowmoon chieftain Ner'zhul was chosen to be the first Lich King. The Shadowmoon Burial Grounds on Draenor contained many of their clan's dead.


The trolls believe that Bwonsamdi brings the spirits of any who worship him into his realm; the Other Side.[30] Bwonsamdi grows more powerful, the more souls are in his care.[31] When a troll of the Darkspear tribe die they get cremated on a ritual pyre and their ashes are stored within an urn. A notable case can be seen during Vol'jin's funeral.[32] The Zandalari trolls also cremate the dead. This tradition started after the Plague of corrupted blood broke out and the bodies were too polluted for proper burial. In time this practice turned to tradition among the majority of the Zandalari.[33] Not all are cremated, however. The royalties and most respected trolls are taken to Kings' Rest where some of them are kept as mummies. Unlike the Zandalari and the Darkspear tribes, the Sandfury trolls don't worship Bwonsamdi but another loa of death by the name Mueh'zala.[34]


The tauren consider death to merely be the shadow of life and hold that the ending of things is as natural as the birth of them.[35] In addition, they believe the dead who have been honored may pass to the spirit world[36] and can communicate with them at locations blessed by An'she.[37]


As the Forsaken are already dead and turn into undead because they have free will so the experience when a Forsaken accepts his or her death willingly is their last death.[38] This should not be confused with True death which is a punishment in the form of an "execution". This method turns Forsaken into mindless undead, and can be used against those who threaten their way of life.[39][40] This punishment is also used against those who commit high treason against the Forsaken's leadership.[18]

In World of Warcraft (gameplay)

WoW Icon update.png This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.

A typical out of body experience in Azeroth.

A player in ghost form in the Shadowlands.

Death is the state a character is in when their health reaches zero (or less). When a player dies, they are unable to take further actions until they release their spirit or are resurrected. Dead players leave a corpse at the location where they died.

Upon dying, the player is presented with two options: Release Spirit and Recap. The Death Recap Screen provides a short list of the most recent sources of damage, allowing the player to review their cause of death. Repeated deaths within a short time will cause a "resurrection timer" to appear, which temporarily grays out the Release Spirit button (likely to prevent zerging). After 6 minutes the player's spirit will automatically be released.

When the player's spirit is released, they will turn into a spirit form (a ghost or, in the case of night elves, a wisp), which spawns at the nearest graveyard. A player in ghost form appears as a blueish-gray, transparent version of their normal model (with the exception of Shadowlands zones, where all players instead appear as featureless humanoid souls). As a ghost, you will only have 1 point of health. Death will automatically remove all Buffs and Debuffs from the character, except for the "ghost" debuff, which is applied, and certain Flask effects that persist through death.

A character will stay dead until they are resurrected. This can be achieved through returning to their corpse as a spirit; by the spirit healer at a graveyard; by a player character near the corpse; or by using an item such as  [Darkmoon Card: Twisting Nether].

While you are dead, there are some interesting graphical effects. The sky looks like a whirlpool, and everything you see gets a little more grey. This is called the Veil and is lore-wise one of the many "planes" in the Warcraft-universe.

If you die in an inaccessible area, such as falling off Outland or far past the Fatigue limit in the ocean, your ghost may not be able to get close enough to your corpse to rejoin it. In this case, you will have to resurrect at a graveyard (when falling off of Outland, the corpse of the player usually is placed at a reachable area on the edge somewhere. It may, however, place the corpse in an unpleasant location).

If you die in an instance and release your spirit, you will be teleported to the nearest graveyard. From there, you must run back to the instance and reenter it to be able to recover your corpse. Upon reentering, you will instantly be revived without having to fetch your corpse, no matter where you died in the instance. Naturally, you will also be returned to the place where players begin the instance - this makes it impossible to corpse run past mobs in instances. Some instances have portals at the start which can teleport players to locations within the instance to save time. Something else to note is that when you are dead, you can pass through any gates, barriers, and instance doors (if any).

The term "corpse running", aka "ghost running", originally described an exploit to travel to certain areas while dead (thus being immune to damage) but now refers to the distance a player would have to cross from the graveyard to their corpse. This may even have an effect on how willing players are to reattempt entering dangerous areas. For example, dying in Blackrock Mountain-instances previously sent the player to the graveyard at Thorium Point, which is located on nearly the other side of the zone. As a result, many players were hesitant to play in that location with inexperienced players because it could cause repeated deaths and the time-consuming run back. Later, (possibly in Cataclysm) the location was placed at Forgewright's Tomb which made the distance much shorter.

Durability as a ghost

When your ghost is killed, you suffer another 10% durability loss on equipped items. For example, if you are killed in combat and you get your ghost killed trying to rejoin your corpse (now having died twice), then give up and use the spirit healer, you would suffer a 3x10+25 = 55% durability loss on all equipped items and 25% on inventory items.

From Death section of the New Player Guide:

Upon dying in World of Warcraft, all of your equipped items immediately take a 10% durability reduction (this applies only to items equipped when you died, not to items in your inventory). You have a few minutes in which to be resurrected by a player, or you may release yourself to the nearest graveyard as a spirit. While in spirit form, you can run back to your corpse and rejoin it for no additional penalty by selecting the "Resurrect Now" button when you come within range; you come back to life with half health and half mana. Run speed is increased to 125% of normal while you are a spirit (night elves have a special racial ability called [Wisp Spirit] that gives them even more speed) and you are able to walk on water.

Your ghost can breathe underwater in lakes, rivers, coastal waters, and even lava, but if you swim into the deep ocean your ghost can still, ironically, die of Fatigue. Dying while already being dead will return you to the graveyard.

Exceptions to the rules on durability loss

If you are killed by another player in PvP combat, you do not take the initial 10% durability hit. However, you will still take a 25% hit and suffer from resurrection sickness if you are resurrected by a spirit healer. Also, during the Second Scourge Invasion event, there was a glitch, when you stayed long enough as a zombie, you would NOT take durability damage.

If you are killed by self-inflicted death — such as a Warlock's [Hellfire], using a life-draining item like a  [Demonic Rune] — then you will not suffer any durability damage to your armor or items unless you are resurrected by a spirit healer.

Spirit healers

The spirit healers present in each graveyard can bring you back to life immediately, saving you a trip to your corpse. However, doing this will cause all of your equipable items to take an additional 25% durability hit; this applies both to equipped items, and to items in your inventory. In addition, you will suffer from [Resurrection Sickness]. This sickness decreases all of your attributes and damage dealt by 75%, and has a duration that varies depending on your level:

  • Characters from level 1-10 are not affected (however, they still take the additional durability decrease).
  • Characters from level 11-19 will suffer from one minute of sickness for every level they are above 10. For example, a level 12 character would be sick for two minutes, because they are 2 levels above level 10. while a level 18 character would be sick for eight minutes.
  • Characters level 20 and up suffer from ten minutes of sickness with no exceptions.

Since patch 2.4, players that have the resurrection sickness-debuff will be worth no [Honor] when killed by a player of the opposite faction.

In some zones, spirit healers are replaced by other NPCs who offer the same functionality, such as Prime Naaru on Argus or Spirit Obelisks in the Shadowlands.

Quests accessed while dead

There are a few quests that can only be accessed while the player is dead. Those quests start by talking to an NPC (non-player character) who is only visible and accessible while in ghost/wisp form. On a side note, if one levels due to turning in one such quest, they shall regain all their life and mana but will not resurrect (which is a bit weird).

Known quests

Notes and trivia

Without shader support, the death experience is a little less gray

  • The death effect depends on graphics settings; lower-end systems may not properly gray out the world while dead.
    • Typing /console ffxDeath 0 will turn off the death effect.
  • In Wrath of the Lich King, when dying in Icecrown or Storm Peaks and other places players will have access to a spectral gryphon upon death to retrieve their corpse because you cannot always climb the mountainous regions. However, since Night Elves are wisps they don't have the gryphon, they can simply fly.
    • No such system exists in Outland if one dies in a location inaccessible without flying then the player is resurrected at the nearest graveyard without the usual penalty for doing so.
  • Although a player can easily get back into the instance if they died within it, if a player dies outside an instance they cannot get into one this way.
  • A player can die from fatigue while already dead.
  • In lore, it is possible for magic users to perform resurrection, which can be accomplished with different sources of magic.


This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.

Argus may be the Titan of Death as Eonar is the titan of life as some of Argus' spells in the database are labeled "deathtitan". His Grasp of the Unmaker ability was also originally called Grasp of the Death Titan.[41] Additionally in Star Lake Amphitheater in Ardenweald, the play with Mi'kai as Argus opens with Argus being described as a Death Titan. Dapperdew also described Argus as a Death Titan, noting that the Legion sought to create one, despite knowing that Death fell under the purview of the Shadowlands and the Winter Queen.

While the Shadowlands and Death for most of World of Warcraft's history have been associated with the most cryptic and mysterious of the cosmic powers, it has been hinted that some powers within its realms, such as the nathrezim and Sire Denathrius, have nevertheless been secretly responsible for many of the major events that have occurred in the universe of the living, including the Burning Crusade and the fracturing and eventual destruction of the Pantheon, as well as the eventual creation of the Scourge and the Lich King which helped pave the way for the Third War.[42] The Pantheon of Death and their realms also seem to be at least indirectly involved in the cosmic war, with servants of the Light and Void having assaulted Revendreth and Bastion respectively in the past, Draka being dispatched to a Legion world to spy on their activities, references to Pantheon members such as Eonar and Norgannon existing in the Covenants of Ardenweald and Revendreth, and the very purpose of the Primus and Maldraxxus being essentially to create an unstoppable and infinite army capable of holding its own against outside threats to the Shadowlands.[43]

Patch changes

  • Warlords of Draenor Patch 6.1.0 (2015-02-24): If you die, there is a Recap button. If you click on that button you will see a list of mobs in a Death recap screen, their abilities and the amount of damage that caused you to die. In the Chat frame the text [You die.] is added on which you can click. Doing so will give the recap information of that moment you died.
  • WoW Icon update.png Patch 1.6.0 (2005-07-12): Health leech effects no longer give you health while you are a ghost.
  • Test-inline.png Patch 0.6 (2004-04-13):
    • Bodies will decompose after a player is resurrected or revived.
    • The corpse retrieval area has increased to 40 yards.
    • Players that revive will now have 50% health and mana.
    • Players can no longer use ghost form as a means to travel to far off locations. Having a spirit healer resurrect you in a graveyard other than the one you appeared at when you died, will always teleport you back to that initial graveyard.
    • Players can now use all of the UI in ghost form (i.e. move things around in your backpack, read your quest log, interact with your spellbook etc.)

See also


  1. ^ World of Warcraft: Game Manual
  2. ^ TweetSteve Danuser says: Remember that in the Shadowlands, "necromany" simply refers to the magic of Death. The necrolords are the experts at wielding it, but even they have limitations.
  3. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1
  4. ^ BlizzCon 2019
  5. ^ N [50-60] The Eternal Traveler
  6. ^ N [30-35] Return to Nordrassil
  7. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment 2020-06-03. Shadowlands Preview: Ardenweald and the Night Fae Covenant. Archived from the original on 2020-06-03.
  8. ^ Nyorloth on the official forums (dead link)
  9. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 57 - 58
  10. ^ N [10-45] Scavenging the Shallows
  11. ^ H [5-30] The Warchief Cometh
  12. ^ H IconSmall Undead Male.gifIconSmall Undead Female.gif [1-10] Fresh out of the Grave
  13. ^ H [50] The Return of Derek Proudmoore
  14. ^ A IconSmall Human Male.gifIconSmall Human Female.gif Paladin [12] The Tome of Divinity
  15. ^ B Priest [1-10] Resurrecting the Recruits
  16. ^ N Paladin [45] Fates Blessing
  17. ^ H Paladin [12] Redeeming the Dead
  18. ^ a b Before the Storm
  19. ^ A [50] He Who Walks in the Light
  20. ^ N [25-30] The Boon of A'dal
  21. ^ Ezgi Pajecki 2020-09-26. Maldraxxus, Shadowlands and Beyond - Interview with Steve Danuser. Lorekeeper. Archived from the original on 2020-09-27.
  22. ^ Wam 2020-09-24. Maldraxxus Deep Dive With Steve Danuser. GamerBraves. Archived from the original on 2020-09-25.
  23. ^ Cass Marshall 2020-09-24. World of Warcraft’s Maldraxxus is the grittiest zone in the Shadowlands. Polygon. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.
  24. ^ Sybia 2020-09-24. WoW Shadowlands : Interview exclusive de Steve Danuser à propos de Maldraxxus (in French). Millenium. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.
  25. ^ Warcraft Radio 2019-11-03. John Hight & Johnny Cash SHADOWLANDS Interview! | BLIZZCON 2019! (10:15 - 12:40). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
  26. ^ The Lost Codex 2019-11-05. BlizzCon 2019 Interview: Steve Danuser & Frank Kowalkowski - Story and Systems | The Lost Codex (18:00 - 19:58). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
  27. ^ TweetSteve Danuser says: "Necromancer" has a different meaning in Maldraxxus. They can take a fallen body and infuse it with energy to make a mindless servant, or move a soul from one body to another. But if say Draka was killed, they could not raise her from the dead. Her soul would be gone.
  28. ^ Fear
  29. ^  [Necklace with Elune Pendant]
  30. ^  [Bwonsamdi Voodoo Mask]
  31. ^ H [20-50] We'll Meet Again
  32. ^ -Vol'jin Funeral
  33. ^  [Urn of Passage]
  34. ^ Traveler: The Spiral Path
  35. ^ War Crimes, chapter 3
  36. ^ H IconSmall Tauren Male.gifIconSmall Tauren Female.gif [50] Answer the Call
  37. ^ H IconSmall Tauren Male.gifIconSmall Tauren Female.gif [50] A Small Retreat
  38. ^ Before the Storm, chapter 19
  39. ^ H [7-30] Freedom for Lydon
  40. ^ H [7-30] A Blight Upon the Land
  41. ^ Grasp of the Unmaker changelog on Wowhead
  42. ^  [Enemy Infiltration - Preface]
  43. ^ Garth Holden 2020-09-24. A deep dive into Maldraxxus, the defenders of Death. SA Gamer. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.