Sylvanas Windrunner: Her Complete Story

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Miller
World of Warcraft's most controversial figure right now, Sylvanas Windrunner has been in Warcraft lore for a long time, and has a great backstory and a lot of history to unpack. So join MojoPlays for Sylvanas Windrunner's origin story.
Origins of Sylvanas Windrunner

Get ready to hear the tragic tale of the Banshee Queen. Welcome to MojoPlays, and today we’re exploring the origin story of the Warchief of the Horde, Sylvanas Windrunner.

Sylvanas Windrunner made her debut in “Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos,” where she comes face-to-face with newly-minted Death Knight Arthas Menethil, now leading the Scourge on behalf of the Lich King.

Sylvanas was raised in Quel'Thalas alongside her sisters Alleria and Vereesa. She showed great promise from a young age and rose through the ranks of the military before eventually becoming Ranger-General and leading the high elves through the Second War. A few short years later, the events of “Warcraft III” would become a key turning point in Sylvanas’ life, as she falls defending her home from Arthas. The cruel Death Knight raised Sylvanas as a Banshee, enslaving her to his will.

Under the control of Athras and the Lich King, The Banshee Queen would serve as a major general in his army, that is until the powers of the warlock Ner’Zhul began to weaken and Sylvanas was able to regain a degree of self control. Waiting until the time was right, she would strike Athras with a poison arrow, nearly killing the former Paladin until he was saved by the mage Kel’Thuzad. Because of these circumstances Syvanas was forced to retreat.

Sylvanas quickly realized she and her newly-undead brothers and sisters needed to organize or else they would be wiped out, so she began uniting the undead under the banner of the Forsaken, helping defeat the demons on Azeroth and staking the ruins of the former human city of Lordaeron as her new capital, the Undercity.

As the events of “World of Warcraft” begin, the Forsaken have officially joined the Horde, and Sylvanas continued to strengthen her legion of undead. When both the Alliance and Horde invaded Northrend to combat the powers of Arthas, now himself the Lich King, Sylvanas was one of the Horde’s greatest assets as a military leader. Though she wouldn’t be the one to do it, Arthas would eventually be defeated by a group of... let’s called them “unnamed” heroes.

After learning of Arthas’ fate, Sylvanas believed her work on Azeroth to be finished, and she attempted to end her time as a banshee by jumping off the top of the Frozen Throne. There, Sylvanas saw what was left of Arthas’ soul: that of a small, scared child. She also witnessed a vision of the terrible fate of her people should she remain in this realm of undeath. Visited by the leader of the Val’Kyr, Sylvanas made a pact with the Norse-like warriors to return to Azeroth and become the group’s new leader after their enslavement by the Lich King, along with resuming her rule over the Forsaken.

The Undead Queen continued to play a major role in the Horde over the following years, helping with the assault on Gilneas and revealing that the Val’Kyr are able to raise new undead, solving the issue of her race’s continued survival. The Dark Lady supported the opposition to Garrosh Hellscream’s tenure as Warchief, helping secure his arrest and seemingly supported the troll Vol’Jin during his time as the new leader of the Horde.

During the invasion of the Burning Legion and the battle on the Broken Shore, Sylvanas witnessed the mortal wounding of Vol’Jin, who commands her to keep the Horde alive. When their forces began getting overrun by demons, Sylvanas made the decision to abandon the Alliance forces and retreat, escalating hostilities between the two sides as both of their leaders are killed. Sylvanas was promptly made Warchief of the Horde by a dying Vol’Jin, and would soon play a major role in driving the demon onslaught from Azeroth and defeating the Legion once and for all.

Recently, as Sylvanas has fulfilled her duties as leader of the Horde, a group within the Forsaken called The Desolate Council has taken motions to move out from under her thumb. Incited by Athras’ sister Calia Manethil’s reveal at the Arathi Highlands, this organization attempted to defect to the Alliance before Sylvanas had them killed by her rangers. Sylvanas has shown a new brutality that culminated with her ordering the burning of the Night Elves’ World Tree, Teldrassil. Many fans are outraged at these arguably out-of-character actions, but we’re willing to bet that there’s something greater at play here.

Sylvanas is one of the most intriguing and dynamic characters throughout Warcraft’s extensive lore, and with her position at the forefront of the Horde set to come under opposition, we can’t wait to see where “Battle for Azeroth” takes the Banshee Queen.