It’s been awhile since Deathwing was announced as the final bad guy of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm but is he the absolute best? We’ve all had time to play through the entire game now, including the part where Deathwing and the red dragon queen Alexstrasza duel ending with Deathwing’s defeat and immediate creepy resurrection. He is a bright contrast to Arthas, the Lich King, who spent the entire expansion meandering about making vague threats and buffing incompetent lieutenants to try and vet players for his master plan. Let’s take a look at the previous antagonists of each expansion and look at what some great alternatives would have been.

Vanilla WoW

Kel'thuzad, round one, go.

In vanilla WoW you had pretty much no “evil bad guy” that you were fighting. The world itself was plunged into a serene chaos where you walked around, found someone who was slightly evil, and began bashing them in the head with your sword and non-matching attire. The raid instances had final bosses, all of whom were up to something, but there wasn’t an ultimate boss per se. Ragnaros, a play on Ragnarok, sat within the Molten Core thinking of how awesome and amazing he was and how cool it is to purge things with fire. Nefarian, the second in command of the black dragonflight, made two appearances. The first was with the false warchief Rend Blackhand and the second was inside Blackwing Lair where he sets up a really strange encounter: his Drakonids swarm you and then fights you just like Onyxia did (and failed).

There were two additional bosses of course. C’Thun chilled in AQ40 with one of the game’s most advanced and awesome encounters, but his purpose there was somewhat of a mystery. He was an old god who had created the Qiraji in the likeness of the Silithid and set up shop in the titan research facility of the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. During The War of the Shifting Sands the Qiraji assaulted Kalimdor and the Night Elves and dragons fought back, shoving them behind a barrier in Silithus. The barrier is reopened when C’Thun reawakens; you walk in there, and kill him. His reign of terror ended until the comics came out.

Then, finally, a good friend Kel’thuzad rides Naxxramas into the Eastern Plaguelands and sits within it waiting for you to pay the Argent Crusade money to take a ride into his floating castle. Much like Dracula in Castlevania, Kel’thuzad sits on his throne awaiting you to make it through all of the enemies and minibosses before facing you. You defeat him, his phylactery drops, and you hand it over to a guy named after the Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride.

The Burning Crusade

In TBC you have one major enemy: Illidan. See, you’re not prepared to fight him which is why he didn’t show up at the game’s launch. Instead you had Gruul the Dragonkiller who was actually from the book Beyond the Dark Portal. There Deathwing rides in and drops his eggs all over Outland and Gruul gets pretty ticked off by it. So he and the Alliance Expedition have a go at Deathwing who shows up when his eggs are being turned into scrambled dragonkin and his allies being speared in Blade’s Edge Mountains. Gruul and Deathwing fight and almost lose when Khadger rides in and knocks a few of those massive plates off his body and Deathwing retreats (I assume those are the plates being put back on in the Cataclysm opening cinematic). You go in there, for little to no reason other then he might decide to attack you, and kill him.

Illidan, prepared for battle.

Joke’s on you though, apparently. The guy who literally walked around skewering black dragons day in and day out would be a great ally now, right?

Then you had a whole host of other villains waiting to take you on. Magtheridon, the former lord of Outland, was defeated and imprisoned by Illidan. You walk into his lair, kill the people imprisoning him, then kill him yourself. Pretty cool huh?

Then you had the clown brigade that was Illidan’s posse. Kael’thas sat in Tempest Keep until you defeat him (in hopes of getting a really pretty rare mount) and then shouts from the graveyard after a quick spirit rez that you have yet to defeat him. Then you find him again in Magisters’ Terrace where he has a huge crystal shoved in his chest and is a lot weaker. Shame that’s how he went. Then there is Lady Vashj, who is number one on Captain Planet’s “I hate you, die” list. She drains Zangermarsh of water so she can have a cool underwater paradise to play in and you quickly walk in there and take her head.

That left the two final bosses of the expansion: Illidan, who you were not prepared for, and Kil'jaeden who, strangely enough, was not prepared for you. Illidan sits in The Black Temple with the Skull of Gul’dan resting until Maiev and Akama walk in there and kill him, rather uneventfully I might add, since you were not very prepared yourselves to kill him. Kil'jaeden, on the other hand, gets summoned and summarily defeated by you and a blue dragon in love with the Well of Eternity energy turned human and has a huge penchant for screaming everything.

Wrath of the Lich King

Players got to see Arthas about 100 times in media and cameo apperances before fighting him in Icecrown Citadel.


This expansion is very easy to explain because the entire storyline is very hilarious if you think about it. Basically the endboss is Arthas, aka the Lich King. Imaging World of Warcraft as Pokemon you can surmise the story as follows. Arthas is the leader of Team Rocket along with Kel’thuzad and he arrives to sour your day at every step of the way. When he arrives, he lay down some ingenious trap, and then you are forced to deal with it by essentially AoEing and blowing everything away blasting him away once again. He appears over, and over, and over again and each time with some buff on some boss or some plan that never works.

Arthas, Kel'thuzad, and Anub'arak before blasting off again.

Finally, after defeating an old god (Yogg-Saron), Kel’Thuzad (for the second time), Anub'arak (twice), and watching him walk very slowly towards you while you escape at a very slow pace, you walk into his house to kill him. There, you find out that everything has gone just to plan like Light Yagami from Death Note where all of this time he has just been vetting you to become destroyers of the world for him. Since he could have just done it himself, he needed a bit more entertainment in his evil plans, and would just have you walk into his house and he’d enslave you.

Great, until you AoE him down like everything else you did the entire expansion and he dies losing his helmet in the process (the same helmet he used to design all of his architecture). Ouch.


Deathwing so far is pretty fierce.

That brings us to Cataclysm. Deathwing is a pretty cool guy, basically showing up here and there for the last 10,000 years upsetting everyone and failing to do a single thing right. First he gets corrupted by the Old Gods. Then, at their command, he crafts something called the Dragon Soul with the help of the Goblins (who were probably much smarter back then when there was more Kaja’mite). Then, during the First War, he empowers his Dragon Soul with the energy of every single dragon alive except his own. Then, using it first against demons, he turned it against his dragon allies and decimated a large portion of their forces.

Well, he losses the Dragon Soul at some point (after it’s made unusable by him), but after that first defeat it started a long and crazy line of defeat. He then sits quietly until the First War when he gets someone go out and retrieve the Dragon Soul and use it to capture the red dragon queen. He gets defeated once in Outland by Khadger, then again by a group of Dalaran mages, and then finally the Dragon Soul gets smashed up and the dragons return to full power which forces him into hiding again.

Then he appears again in Cataclysm with a host of returning characters to wreak havoc in the world. Nefarion returns to continue his experiments (and gets defeated). Cho’gall, who in the comics brought C’Thun back to life (this is such a reused theme at this point eh?) returns from that and gets defeated. Oh, and you fight Al'Akir who is working for the Old Gods and Deathwing like Ragnaros is now. As a matter of a fact, he is on the same level as Raganros is, but is pretty weak and is easily defeated like everyone else.

So I ask, knowing the previous bosses and what Deathwing has currently done, was he the right choice for Cataclysm? Stay tuned to Ten Ton Hammer for when we bring this exciting saga to its conclusion with the Top 5 Alternatives to Deathwing.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Xerin 1
Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.