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This article is about Arthas's life as a human. For his existence after he was transformed, see Lich King.
"Arthas" redirects here. For the novel with the same name, see Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.

I would gladly bear any curse to save my homeland.
- Arthas

Arthas Menethil, Crown Prince of Lordaeron and Knight of the Silver Hand, was the son of King Terenas Menethil II and heir to the kingdom's throne. He was trained as a paladin by Uther the Lightbringer and became inducted into the Knights of the Silver Hand. Arthas also had a romantic relationship with the sorceress Jaina Proudmoore. Committed to the protection of his people, Arthas was determined to stop the plague of undeath from infecting Lordaeron.

Despite his promising beginnings, Arthas became one of the most dark and powerful beings Azeroth would ever know. Although he killed the necromancer Kel'Thuzad, he was unable to stop the plague's spread and resorted to increasingly desperate methods, such as purging the city of Stratholme from its infected. Taking up the cursed runeblade called Frostmourne, Arthas was finally able to defeat the undead leader Mal'Ganis, but in so doing he lost his soul. Becoming a death knight of the Scourge, he led the undead forces in destroying Lordaeron, Quel'Thalas and Dalaran. Arthas afterwards made his way to the Frozen Throne of Icecrown, and merged with the Lich King.

Ruling as the dominant personality of the Lich King for years, Arthas was defeated in combat by adventurers of the Alliance and the Horde. Cradled by the spirit of his father, King Terenas, Arthas Menethil died, leaving the mantle of the Lich King to be taken by a noble soul who would forever more keep the Scourge at bay.

Arthas was voiced by Justin Gross in Warcraft III, and by Patrick Seitz in World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm. As the Lich King, he was voiced by Michael McConnohie.

In Legion

World of Warcraft: Legion This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.

When one of the Knights of the Ebon Blade enters the Blades of the Fallen Prince, reformed from Frostmourne's shards, Ner'zhul can be found tempting Arthas to take up Frostmourne. Arthas is defeated and once more states that he sees only darkness, while Ner'zhul exclaims that his plans have been ruined. It is unclear if these are their actual spirits or merely echoes reliving their pasts.[citation needed]


Arthas: Rise of the Lich King

Novels This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft novels or short stories.

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Prince Arthas Menethil was born to King Terenas Menethil II and Queen Lianne Menethil, four years before the start of the First War.[2] The young prince grew up in a time when the lands of Azeroth were ravaged by war, the Alliance was crumbling, and darker clouds still loomed on the horizon.

As a young child, he became best-friends with Varian Wrynn and often sparred with him though Arthas was less experienced. He also watched as his future steed, Invincible, grew up. As a youth, Arthas was trained in combat by Muradin Bronzebeard, the brother of the dwarven king Magni Bronzebeard, and became an adept swordsman, while at the same time learned the ways of the Light under the tutelage of Uther the Lightbringer. He also developed a love interest with Jaina Proudmoore when she was staying in Lordaeron on her way to Dalaran where she would be studying, which Arthas offered to escort her to. Some time later, Terenas had arranged a political wedding for Arthas' sister Calia with lord Daval Prestor. Calia was distraught by the decision and when Arthas tried to calm her, she wished that Arthas would chose his wife and the future queen of Lordaeron out of love, rather than politics.

Arthas was inducted into the Knights of the Silver Hand at the young age of 19. The ceremony was held in the Cathedral of Light in Stormwind City, and was attended by many prominent figures such as Genn Greymane, Thoras Trollbane, Daelin Proudmoore and his daughter Jaina, whom Arthas had not seen since childhood. Archbishop Alonsus Faol led the initiation process before four of the five original paladins: Uther, Tirion Fordring, Saidan Dathrohan, and Gavinrad the Dire (Turalyon had been lost on the Alliance Expedition), during which Arthas was presented the holy warhammer called Light's Vengeance by Gavinrad and had the ceremonial silver plates placed upon his shoulders by Uther. While in Stormwind, Arthas visited the newly crowned King of Stormwind Varian Wrynn and sparred with him while recounting old memories, as well as the recently-born Anduin Wrynn who gripped his finger.

Arthas once visited Durnholde Keep where he saw the famous orc gladiator Thrall. He stayed in the Keep during the night and Aedelas sent Taretha to Arthas' chamber to please him. However, Arthas had only a talk with her and he noticed that Taretha reminded him of Jaina Proudmoore whom he had begun to fall in love with. Later on, he rode on Invincible only to have an accident which caused Invincible to be dealt a mortal wound. Arthas had no other option than to kill his beloved steed in order to stop its suffering, an act which would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Arthas met the only daughter of Admiral Proudmoore, the sorceress Jaina during his youth. Their relationship grew close as friends first, and then romantically years later. They were very much in love with one another. Arthas once stayed in Dalaran only to be with Jaina. During his visit, Antonidas organized a banquet for Arthas and Kael'thas who also happened to be there at the same time as Arthas. At the banquet, Arthas and Antonidas spoke of the situation regarding the orcs' strange lethargy, Terenas' health, as well as about Stormwind, the young Anduin Wrynn and Arthas' relationship status. Kael'thas whom was also fond of Jaina, once caught Arthas and Jaina together under an arch as they were kissing which angered him out of jealousy. Arthas paid the jealous elf prince no mind.

Having grown into a strong, confident young man, Arthas was headstrong and somewhat arrogant, though none could dispute his bravery and tenacity. Arthas came to be considered one of the finest swordsmen in Lordaeron and was famed for counterattacking and defeating the forest troll warbands of Zul'Aman when they began raiding the settlements along the Quel'Thalassian border.[3]

Later on, Arthas invited Jaina to Lordaeron to celebrate the two festivals of Noblegarden and Hallow's End, during this time Arthas revealed that he was courting Jaina to the public. Eventually, however, Arthas began to question whether the two of them were ready to be together. Arthas abruptly ended the relationship so Jaina could focus on her magical studies in Dalaran and Arthas could focus on his commitments to Lordaeron. Shortly after, they would agree to rekindle their romance, but this was during the beginning of the Scourge invasion, an event that would change both of their lives forever.

He held the position as one of the four jurors during the court of Tirion Fordring in Stratholme.

Pre-Corruption, Knight of the Silver Hand

The Plague of Undeath

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Troubles began to stir in Lordaeron. Orcs broke free of their internment camps, and there was distressing news of a plague that had gripped the northlands. Arthas and Uther were sent to Strahnbrad to defend the town from orcish raids. The young prince defeated the black drake Searinox to retrieve its heart for the dwarf Feranor Steeltoe to forge into an orb of fire. Arthas used this magical item to help defeat the orcs and kill the Blackrock Clan's blademaster leading the raids.

However, weeks later a more vile threat arose in the form of the plague of undeath. Jaina and Captain Falric were sent to join Arthas, now 24 years old, in order to investigate the strange plague. They fought an undead army at a plague-infested granary. They encountered the necromancer Kel'Thuzad in the town of Brill and pursued him to Andorhal.

Kel'Thuzad had already infected the stored grain in Andorhal and shipped it out to outlying villages. Before Arthas killed him, Kel'Thuzad spoke of Mal'Ganis, a Nathrezim demon who led the Scourge. Jaina and Arthas traveled north to confront him in Stratholme.

Along the way, Arthas and Jaina stopped at Hearthglen Village where they hoped to rest. Instead, they were warned of an approaching army of undead. Arthas ordered Jaina to find Uther and seek his aid while he remained behind to defend the town. To his horror, Arthas discovered that the plague was not merely a means of mass murder, but rather, the means of turning innocent townsfolk into undead creatures. Arthas' forces barely held out and were on the verge of defeat when Uther arrived with reinforcements and saved the village.

Arthas, as seen in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

While traveling to Stratholme, Arthas was met by the enigmatic prophet Medivh. He gave him the same advice he gave Terenas — to travel west to Kalimdor. Arthas argued that his place was with his people, and vowed that he would not abandon them. Jaina suggested that the prophet might be right, but Arthas paid her no heed and continued to Stratholme.

Culling of Stratholme

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When he arrived, Arthas found that the grain had already been distributed, and knew that the villagers would soon become minions of the scourge. He ordered Uther and his knights to purge the entire city. Horrified, Uther rebuked him by saying that he would not follow such an order even if Arthas were already king. Proclaiming that Uther had committed treason, Arthas disbanded the Knights of the Silver Hand. Several of his soldiers left with Uther — as did Jaina — while those that remained loyal to Arthas joined him in slaughtering the corrupted townsfolk.

As Arthas began to butcher the citizens of Stratholme, he was met by Mal'Ganis himself, who was working to claim the souls of the townsfolk. Arthas worked to destroy them before Mal'Ganis could reach them. Finally, Arthas demanded a final showdown with the dreadlord. Mal'Ganis slipped away, however, vowing to meet him in Northrend. Arthas then set fire to Stratholme. Something snapped in Arthas that day, his inability to stop the plague sent him down the cold lonely road he would soon follow. The fires burn to this day.


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Arthas claims Frostmourne.

Arthas followed Mal'Ganis with a detachment of his troops. They arrived a month later in Daggercap Bay. As they searched for a proper place to set up camp, Arthas' men came under gunfire before being recognized by the dwarven explorers guild. Arthas was shocked to have come upon his good friend and former mentor, Muradin Bronzebeard. At first, Muradin thought that Arthas was leading a rescue party sent to save his men, who had been besieged by the undead as they searched for the runeblade Frostmourne. Arthas admitted it was mere coincidence. Together they destroyed the nearby undead camp, but there was still no sign of Mal'Ganis.

As Muradin and Arthas continued their search for Frostmourne, an emissary from Lordaeron arrived in a zeppelin and spoke to Captain Luc Valonforth. He bore orders from Uther and Terenas, instructing Arthas and his men to return home. When Arthas returned to his base, the men had abandoned their posts, and were making their way through the forest towards their boats. Arthas had no intention of leaving before Mal'Ganis was destroyed. With the help of some indigenous mercenaries, he managed to reach and burn his boats before his men got to them. When his men arrived, Arthas betrayed his mercenaries, accusing them of destroying the ships, and the Captain had them killed, much to the disgust of Muradin. Arthas told his men that they had no means of going home, and the only way they were leaving Northrend was through victory.

The Runeblade Frostmourne

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Arthas and his troops continued to press on to Drak'Tharon Keep in search of Frostmourne. As he arrived, Mal'Ganis appeared to him, and foretold his death. Arthas went to search for Frostmourne with Muradin, leaving his captain to defend the camp.

Using an ancient waygate, Arthas, Muradin, and a small group of men traveled to the vicinity of the fabled runeblade. Arthas was soon confronted by the Guardian, who tried to keep him from Frostmourne, apparently for his own protection. The Guardian fell, and Arthas and Muradin went forward to their prize. Muradin, reading an inscription, reported that the blade was cursed and pleaded "Oh, leave it be, Arthas! Forget this business and lead your men home!", but Arthas was adamant. Arthas asked the spirits of the cavern for the sword to be released from its icy prison, proclaiming that he would "give anything or pay any price, if only you will let me save my people." When the weapon broke free, Muradin was struck by a rogue shard of ice. Arthas moved to help Muradin, but was dissuaded by the call of Frostmourne in his mind. Arthas discarded his holy warhammer, Light's Vengeance, then picked Frostmourne up and returned to his base, leaving Muradin for dead. With Frostmourne in hand, Arthas defeated Mal'Ganis' army, destroyed his base, and finally confronted the demon.

Mal'Ganis told him that the voice he was now hearing was that of the Lich King. However, Arthas replied that voice was instructing him to destroy Mal'Ganis, much to the dreadlord's surprise. Slaying the dreadlord, Arthas fled into the frozen north, leaving his troops to fend for themselves. Arthas soon lost the last remnants of sanity.

Corruption, Champion of the Lich King


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Prince Arthas returns home.

Arthas moments before killing his father.

Arthas returned to Lordaeron months later, and the kingdom rejoiced at the return of its champion. Flanked by Falric and Marwyn, Arthas entered the Imperial chamber and knelt before the throne. Heeding the voice of Frostmourne that he no longer needed to bear the weight of his crown, Arthas walked up to Terenas and ran the blade through his father's heart.[4] The king's bloodied, broken crown remains lost to this day. As he drew Frostmourne, Arthas remembered the words of his old friend Varian describing his own father and king Llane being stabbed in the heart.

Arthas fled the scene and traveled to the Balnir Farmstead. There he used his necromantic powers to raise his faithful steed Invincible into undeath, allowing it to serve as his mount once again.

Weeks later, Arthas reappeared in Vandermar village at the bidding of his new master, the Lich King. There he met Tichondrius the Darkener, a dreadlord like Mal'Ganis. Thinking that the dreadlord was Mal'Ganis out for revenge, Arthas immediately threatened him, only to discover that this dreadlord had come to congratulate Arthas for his efforts. When spoken to, Arthas said he no longer felt remorse for any of his actions, though deep in his heart he knew this was a lie.[5] Tichondrius explained that the sword was designed to steal souls, and that Arthas' own soul was the first one it had claimed.

Arthas assembled the members of the vile Cult of the Damned that were hiding in Vandermar, and was aided by their magical abilities as he traveled to Andorhal where he was to recover Kel'Thuzad's corpse. He confronted the paladin guarding the crypt, Gavinrad the Dire, who had given Arthas his holy warhammer at his induction ceremony into the Silver Hand. After killing Gavinrad, he recovered the remains of the necromancer. This brought Kel'Thuzad's ghost into being, and he secretly instructed Arthas not to trust the dreadlords. Arthas quietly contemplated this.

Kel'Thuzad's remains were badly decomposed and needed to be taken to the mystical Sunwell in Quel'Thalas to be revived. Tichondrius sent Arthas to recover a mystical urn, which could be used to transport Kel'Thuzad's remains. However, the urn was in the keeping of the Knights of the Silver Hand. Arthas killed two paladins, Ballador the Bright (who survived) and Sage Truthbearer, who both condemned Arthas' betrayal. He then faced Uther the Lightbringer, who explained that the urn held the ashes of his father, King Terenas. The two engaged in a duel with Uther initially having the upper hand, knocking Arthas down and sending Frostmourne flying from his hands. As Arthas awaited the killing blow, the sword seemed to find its own way into his hands and he was granted more power by the Lich King. The battle had began to turn in Arthas' favor and Uther, covered in blood from his wounds, fell to his knees telling Arthas he hoped there was a special place in hell waiting for him. Arthas replied he intended to live forever before delivering the killing blow. He seized the urn and abandoned his father's remains, which swarmed on him with the wind and caused him to choke and burn his eyes. Arthas then replaced them with those of Kel'Thuzad, then began the long journey to Quel'Thalas.[6]

Arthas in his Death Knight form, as seen in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

Fall of Quel'Thalas

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Arthas met heavy resistance from the elves, rallied by Ranger-General Sylvanas Windrunner. Driving their forces before his undead army, he steadily pushed her people back in a swath of destruction towards Silvermoon. Sylvanas tried to warn the vast elven capital of the coming of the Scourge, but Arthas destroyed her camps and killed the Ranger-General. To make her pay for her perceived insolence towards him, Arthas corrupted her elven spirit, transforming it into a horrendous twisted form (a banshee) and enslaving her to the will of the Lich King, forcing her to slay her own people.

Arthas, along with the marching armies of the Scourge annihilated Silvermoon, leaving it in ruins. On the road to the Sunwell, he faced Anasterian Sunstrider, the aged High King of Quel'Thalas, and killed him with minimal struggle. Arthas then used the Sunwell to bring Kel'Thuzad back to life, reborn as an undead lich.

Destruction of Dalaran

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As the pair traveled to Alterac, Kel'Thuzad explained the full extent of the "Second Invasion" and the plans of the Lich King and the Scourge.[7] Arthas and Kel'Thuzad went to the Alterac Mountains to destroy encampments of Blackrock Clan orcs who had taken control of a demon gate, which the lich would use to speak to the demon lord Archimonde. The Scourge destroyed the orcs, and after Kel'Thuzad received orders from Archimonde, they set out for the powerful seat of the world's mages, the city of Dalaran. Archimonde instructed them to acquire the spellbook of Medivh, which would allow Kel'Thuzad to summon Archimonde into Azeroth.[8]

Despite the Kirin Tor's valiant efforts to repel the invasion, the Scourge fought through their magical defenses and fortifications, killed the Archmage Antonidas and claimed the Book of Medivh.

Arthas and his troops repelled the mages' vast counterattack as Kel'Thuzad began the lengthy summoning of the demon lord. Once Archimonde arrived, he proclaimed that the Lich King was of no further use to the Legion, and Tichondrius was placed in command of the Scourge. Arthas was left to wonder what would become of him and Kel'Thuzad, but the lich replied that all was going as the Lich King foresaw. The pair disappeared as Archimonde took his revenge on the city, destroying Dalaran with a single powerful ritual.

Arthas was next seen several months later in Kalimdor, where Tichondrius was employing the fel power of the Skull of Gul'dan. Arthas told the recently freed demon hunter Illidan how to claim the skull's powers as his own, whereupon he could destroy Tichondrius. Illidan agreed to his plan, and Arthas disappeared again.

Return to Lordaeron

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Arthas confronts the dreadlords.

Archimonde left a trio of dreadlords behind in the ruined palace gardens of Lordaeron to ensure that the nation remained under control, and to watch over the cunning servitors of Ner'zhul. When the demon lord was defeated, however, they were not originally aware of it. This changed several months later, when Arthas returned to reclaim his throne. He threatened the dreadlords, who immediately fled, and then called Sylvanas and Kel'Thuzad to his side. Together they crushed the remaining human refugees in the area, who were led by the paladins Halahk the Lifebringer, Magroth the Defender, and Dagren the Orcslayer. However, during the climax of the battle, Arthas had a painful seizure, and felt the Lich King calling out to him. Despite his diminished powers, Arthas fought on until all the remaining humans were killed.[9]

Little did Arthas know that the Lich King's power had dwindled to the point that Sylvanas was no longer under his control. In secret, she attended a meeting with the three dreadlords, who told her that the Lich King's power was waning, and so the time had come to claim her vengeance.

Arthas was ambushed in the capital city, and was forced to collect what loyalists he could find and fight his way through the dreadlords' forces, which included the powerful abomination Bloodfeast. As he arrived on the city's limits, he was saved by a cadre of banshees, who told him that Sylvanas had sent them to see him safely away. However, as they neared an empty spot in the forest, Arthas received another vision from the Lich King, who told him he'd been betrayed. Sylvanas then appeared and shot him with a paralyzing arrow. Kel'Thuzad stepped in and chased her off at the last moment.

But the Lich King's mental cries pierced Arthas' mind - he was told to return to Northrend, for demonic forces (later revealed to be Illidan and the naga) were working to destroy the Frozen Throne and end the self-proclaimed king's reign. Immediately, Arthas prepared his fleet and set sail for Northrend, leaving Kel'Thuzad behind to watch over Lordaeron.

Escape to Northrend

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Arthas holding Frostmourne.

Arthas activates the obelisks.

Three weeks later, Arthas landed upon the familiar coast of Northrend, and unexpectedly found himself being attacked by blood elves led by Kael'thas, hungry for vengeance at their kingdom's destruction. Arthas was unexpectedly saved by a large crypt lord who introduced himself as Anub'arak, the former king of Azjol-Nerub. Kael'thas warned that though the preliminary scouting force may have fallen, their main army would not be so easily defeated, before teleporting away to safety.

Arthas worried that he may be right, and that they would never reach Icecrown Citadel before Illidan, but Anub'arak thought differently. He suggested that they delve into the shattered kingdom of Azjol-Nerub, using the underground passageways to beat Illidan to the Glacier. Seeing little other choice, Arthas agreed.

Anub'arak suggested raiding the hoard of Sapphiron, an ancient blue dragon and servant of Malygos, and equipping themselves with the dragon's treasures. Not only did they slay the dragon, but Arthas used what power he had left to raise Sapphiron into a powerful frost wyrm.

Race to the Frozen Throne

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When he came to the doors of Azjol-Nerub, Arthas found himself being fired upon by dwarves, who revealed themselves to be followers of Muradin who had remained there when their leader appeared to die. Now, they were led by Muradin's second in command, Baelgun Flamebeard. Leaving Sapphiron outside, Arthas battled through not only Baelgun's dwarves, but also the Nerubian survivors, as he delved into the broken Spider Kingdom. Anub'arak's aid was invaluable, as he circumvented many traps which would have cut Arthas' stay fatally short.

As Arthas faced Baelgun, the dwarf warned that the shifting earth had released an ancient evil from below the kingdom. As Arthas and Anub'arak delved deeper into the kingdom, that evil became apparent - the Faceless Ones, a powerful, vicious race thought only to exist in legend. Arthas and Anub'arak even managed to defeat the incredibly powerful Forgotten One.

As they made their way to the Upper Kingdom, an earthquake collapsed part of the passage they were in, separating Anub'arak from Arthas. The young king had to rely upon his wits to see himself through several daunting booby traps before Anub'arak dug his way to Arthas. Once reunited, the crypt lord complimented the young death knight, saying he now understood why Ner'zhul had chosen him as his champion. As they climbed out of Azjol-Nerub, the Lich King contacted Arthas once again, and explained that he was losing his power, because the Frozen Throne had been cracked, and energy was seeping from it. Ner'zhul replenished Arthas' powers, knowing he would need them in the coming battle.

When they finally reached the surface, they immediately had to contend with Illidan's forces. Vashj's naga and Kael's blood elves were there to contest Arthas' minions at every turn. Arthas, with Anub'arak's help, battled his way through their forces and magically activated the four Icecrown Obelisks around the glacier, opening the doors to the Frozen Throne. However, Illidan was waiting for him.

The Lich King triumphant

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Arthas fighting Illidan at the base of Icecrown Glacier.

The Lich King on his throne.

Arthas warned Illidan to leave Azeroth and never return. Refusal from Illidan initiated a short but intense duel, with Illidan inadvertently leaving himself open. Arthas pressed the advantage, slicing open the demon hunter's chest with Frostmourne. Illidan collapsed in the snow, as Arthas turned towards the gates of Icecrown triumphant.

Arthas entered the hollow glacier and beheld a winding pinnacle chained to the ice. As he strode up the stairs towards his destiny, the voices of those he had forsaken flooded through his mind. He heard Muradin Bronzebeard, Uther, and Jaina calling out to him, yet he ignored them, continuing his ascent. Finally, he reached the pinnacle and before him he saw an icy cask. Inside was a suit of armor, arranged as if seated on a massive throne. Now only one voice spoke to him - the rasping whisper of Ner’zhul:

"Return the blade...complete the circle...release me from this prison!"

With a great cry of strength, Arthas brought Frostmourne to bear against the Lich King's icy prison and with a haunting scream, the Frozen Throne exploded, and shards of the crystal scattered on the ground. With Ner’zhul’s thorny helm at his feet, Arthas leaned forward, picked it up, and placed the unimaginably powerful artifact on his head.

"Now," Ner'zhul's voice echoed within his mind, "we are one!"

In that moment, Ner'zhul and Arthas' spirits fused into a single mighty being, just as the Lich King had always planned. Arthas as a single being ceased to exist, now one half of one of the most powerful entities Azeroth had ever known, the new Lich King.

Lich King of the Scourge

Main article: Lich King
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Arthas dies in the arms of his father's spirit as Tirion Fordring looks on.

While he dreamed, Arthas banished his humanity and suppressed Ner'zhul's spirit, allowing him to become the dominant personality of the Lich King.[10]

As the Lich King, Arthas instigated another Scourge invasion of Azeroth, provoking a counteroffensive in Northrend by the Horde, Alliance, Argent Crusade, and Knights of the Ebon Blade. In doing so, he lured powerful heroes to Northrend and placed many challenges before them, seeking to weed out the weak and make the strong question their own morality. He planned to raise the world's greatest fighters as his new champions, and use them to spearhead attacks on their homelands, in a reflection of his own journey.[11][12]


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His plan nearly succeeded when a group of adventurers led by Tirion Fordring finally ascended to the Frozen Throne and did battle with him after Horde, Alliance and Ashen Verdict forces assaulted Icecrown Citadel. The Lich King froze Tirion in a block of ice, and in the middle of the battle, he suddenly killed the adventurers in a single mighty blow. Ultimately, the Lich King's plans were foiled when just as he was about to raise the would-be heroes into undeath, Tirion called upon the Light and freed himself from the ice, shattering Frostmourne with the Ashbringer, releasing all of the souls inside, including Arthas' soul. The Lich King was severely weakened, and Terenas resurrected the adventurers who defeated him alongside Tirion. After striking a mortal blow against the Lich King, the Helm of Domination was knocked off of Arthas' head as he reached for it in desperation before collapsing on the ground. As he lay dying, the spirit of his father appeared before him as the glow brought on by his fusion with Ner'zhul faded from his eyes. With his soul freed and his connection with the Lich King severed, Arthas was returned to his former self, albeit in his dying moments. Arthas asked his father if it was over, to which Terenas placed a comforting hand over Arthas' and replied "At long last. No king rules forever, my son." Arthas said that he saw only darkness before him, with his eyes rolling back and his hand falling lifelessly to the ground - ending the life of Arthas Menethil once and for all.


Questionmark-medium.png This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials.*

There is no official information, but a new, large tomb inside the new Stormwind graveyard is believed to be Arthas' tomb, since it has the Lordaeron crest on it, and most major characters from Lordaeron have set resting places and/or monuments already. 


Novels This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft novels or short stories.

Arthas was a man of action - brave, impulsive and straightforward. He was an inspiring leader, leading his men by example. In conversations with other characters, he appeared witty and easy-going, yet able to hold true to his decisions and make others accept them. Arthas also has a strong sense of loyalty to his men and his kingdom.

On the other hand, Arthas was vindictive, occasionally lost control (as described in the letter below), and never took well to losing. He always sought the approval of others (such as his father) and often felt underappreciated. He could not stand the thought of others betraying his trust, going as far as making Jaina promise never to deny him anything.[13] His intentions were good, but the Lich King exploited those faults and desires as soon as he took up Frostmourne. Though he took up the blade in an effort to defend his people, this was all for naught, as he became the destroyer of that which he sought to protect.

After the death of his father, Arthas claims he no longer feels remorse, shame, or pity, which is explained by him losing his soul to Frostmourne.[14] Here was born a new Arthas, a ruthless and cynical person with a grim sense of humor. As a death knight, Arthas was not above mocking his enemies and gloating over their defeats.

Despite this, somewhere deep inside him a portion of him still existed that fought against the darkness. The Lich King later destroyed this small remnant of who he was, and only at the end, when Frostmourne was broken and the Lich King was defeated, was his soul finally released.


Novels This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft novels or short stories.

Arthas was friends with Jarim Balnir, despite their differences in station.[15] Arthas met Varian when the Prince of Stormwind came to Lordaeron in the company of Lothar and Khadgar[16], and the pair would occasionally spar together. Arthas also became good friends with his mentors, Uther and Muradin. Jaina and Arthas were close friends for many years and eventually became lovers. Though Arthas abruptly ended their relationship when he decided he wasn't ready to marry yet, he was determined to remain friends with the sorceress.[17]

As a death knight, Arthas seemed to enjoy conversations with his new allies, Kel'Thuzad and Anub'arak. He was not above expressing gratitude to Kel'Thuzad, and one of his final phrases before departing to Northrend was "You have been a loyal friend"[18], something rarely heard from a dark lord addressing his minion.

After his death his old friends, Muradin, Uther, and Jaina forgive him. Jaina is still in love with him, surprised that he kept her [locket]​ all these years, yet too grief-stricken to keep it when it is presented to her. Muradin gives Arthas a touching eulogy, defining him as his brother, and ruing the day he had ever mentioned the sword to the prince. Uther says that he will choose to forever remember him as the hero who always defended his people, no matter the cost.


Novels This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft novels or short stories.

Arthas cared deeply for his people and sought their approval in return. He rarely let his title stand in the way and often treated commoners as near-equals. It was Arthas's empathy that would ultimately lead to his downfall, as he was driven to the edge by the sight of his people falling before the Scourge. Once Arthas was convinced the only way to save his homeland was to destroy Mal'Ganis, he became determined to accomplish that at any cost.

After learning Frostmourne had stolen his soul, one of the first things Arthas reflects on is whether he truly saved his people by taking it up.[19] With his mind twisted by Frostmourne's curse, Arthas comes to look upon the undead soldiers of the Scourge with affection[20], viewing them as his new subjects. He is described as feeling a form of sadness as he releases some badly damaged minions from his grip during the battles of Quel'Thalas, and he was outraged when Anasterian damaged his steed, Invincible[21]. Even as the Death Knight, Arthas remains somewhat naive; he treated Sylvanas as a trusted general despite the fact they clashed when Sylvanas was alive, the fact he destroyed her homeland, and the fact the only reason Sylvanas aided him was because the Lich King's mental powers essentially made her a slave.

Even as the Lich King, Arthas seems proud of his ability to "stir the hearts" of his "people."[22]

Letters concerning Arthas

Uther Lightbringer to Mimblis Evermorne

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Arthas concept art

Mimblis Evermorne was a fellow paladin of Uther Lightbringer. This letter was sent in the year 24.

Mimblis, Greetings, my friend. I hope the Light finds you well.

The young Arthas fills me with hope. He recently became a full paladin, and is nearly all I could hope for in a Knight of the Silver Hand. He is strong and powerful, with a devotion to his people that borders on zealousness. He’s a fine paladin and will make a fine king when our beloved Terenas leaves us. Arthas has some growing to do, so I hope King Terenas will remain here for some time.

The only thing that bothers me about Arthas is that he has a disturbing quality in him. Sometimes, in training, I have seen him go a little far while sparring. He is so dedicating to winning the match that he forgets that it is only for training. He lacks control; I suppose it's a sense of ruthlessness that lies under his honorable exterior. I have full confidence that he will use this dedication to battle for his people, and I look forward to testing him. Once he really wets his sword, I can begin to teach him control. I don’t want to rein his power just yet, until I can see what he’s capable of.

Arthas loves his people very much. We recently visited some of the poorer villages outside of Lordaeron, giving healing to those in need. I wanted to test his healing powers, as well as see how he interacted with his people beyond the wealthy nobles in the city. He was full of pity for these people, weeping for a woman who had lost her leg in a wolf attack. After healing her pain, he set out on horseback, searching for the wolf. He slew three, bringing the pelts back to the woman to serve as her blankets. I was touched, but again, a little alarmed at his singlemindedness. She was grateful, and as we were there to serve the wounded and sick, our work was completed.

His relationship with Jaina Proudmoore is one I must watch. Lordaeron has never had a mage as a queen, but if she and Arthas wed, that’s what we will be faced with. Perhaps it will be a good union of magic and politics, or at least bring the mages and paladins closer together. I will watch them carefully. A good thing about Jaina is that she will soften his hard edges. While she attacks her obstacles with a firm and unyielding mind, she is more diplomatic and cerebral in her approach, while Arthas may simply hammer on something until it disintegrates. They will make a strong union: He is the naked steel of a sword, and she is a fist in a velvet glove. I have confidence that they will receive public support, and I will lend them my support as well. I watch Arthas training on the field, and feel he can take on anything. He attacks with a single-mindedness that I know he will apply toward anything in life, be it physical confrontations or political. King Terenas has a good son. I have total confidence in Arthas. Yes, he has more to learn, but don’t we all? He’ll overcome his weaknesses and become a wise king, in time.

Looking forward to our trip to Stratholme,

— Uther

Arthas to Magni Bronzebeard

Arthas from the Ghostlands book.

To King Magni Bronzebeard, Lord of Ironforge,

It is my sad duty to bring you very grim news. I am certain you know of Muradin’s mission here in Northrend to strike at the Scourge and discover useful artifacts. We fought together against the Scourge, and although I survived, Muradin fell to the undead and demons. I grieve for my brave friend and your valiant brother. Yet know that his heroic death was not in vain, for his life ensured my victory against the Lich King’s minions — and my recovery of the ancient sword known as Frostmourne. I shall be returning to Lordaeron soon. With Frostmourne in hand, I come to reestablish order and bring forth a shining new age. Muradin’s remaining clansmen here will take his body back to Ironforge. You cannot know how deep are my sympathies. I know that this letter offers small consolation, but I felt you should learn of Muradin’s death as soon as possible. You have lost a brother, and I have lost a valued friend.

May the Light preserve our peoples,

— Prince Arthas Menethil[23]

In World of Warcraft

Arthas in Old Stratholme.

Arthas in his death knight armor.

World of Warcraft This section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.

A purple flowering plant is named after the dark Prince, "Arthas's Tears". A potent alchemical concoction made from these flowers is also named after him, the "Gift of Arthas".

As you stand in the throne room of Lordaeron [if you turn your volume up], you can hear the voices of Terenas Menethil II arguing with his council, also you can hear him outraged at what Arthas was about to do...

In Wrath of the Lich King

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.

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The (as yet) uncorrupted Prince Arthas appears in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King within the Culling of Stratholme wing of the Caverns of Time. The player accompanies him through the town as he kills its plagued population (and agents of the infinite dragonflight attempting to kill him).

The player can also see him in flashbacks on the Forgotten Shore, when the Alliance Emissary arrives to order the troops home (in the quest A [72] The Truth Shall Set Us Free) and in Frostmourne Cavern, where he claims the cursed runeblade Frostmourne. The flashback itself is essentially the cutscene from Warcraft III where he claims Frostmourne — with an ending revealing that after Arthas left the cavern with Muradin supposedly dead, Muradin awakened with amnesia and wandered outside the cavern.

In a quest chain given by Matthias Lehner (an anagram of "Arthas Menethil") in Icecrown, the player can actually take on the role of Arthas in two critical moments in his history: When he turned on his own men and raised them as the undead (N [80] Army of the Damned) and his epic duel with Illidan (N [80] The Hunter and the Prince).

In Cataclysm

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.

Arthas also appears in the new quest in Felwood, A Destiny of Flame and Sorrow, as a flashback given by Feronas Sindweller, where players help Illidan defeat him. The quest depicts their first conversation in Felwood. At some point the model in Felwood was given the Helm of Domination, though he didn't wear it at that point.

Arthas seen in a flashback

In Mists of Pandaria

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.

Images of Arthas and his father King Terenas briefly appeared during the quest N [90] Gods and Monsters.


World of Warcraft: Legion This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.

When one of the Knights of the Ebon Blade enters the Blades of the Fallen Prince, reformed from Frostmourne's shards, Ner'zhul can be found tempting Arthas to take up Frostmourne. Arthas is defeated and once more states that he sees only darkness, while Ner'zhul exclaims that his plans have been ruined. It is unclear if these are their actual spirits or merely echoes reliving their pasts.

In Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm This section concerns content exclusive to Heroes of the Storm.

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Arthas is a warrior hero in Heroes of the Storm.

Memorable Quotes

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Arthas in Lament of the Highborne.

  • Arthas: Father.. forgive me for what I have to do... (in Stratholme while purging the city upon entering the Altar in Terenas's honor, where Mal'Ganis is summoned the first time)
  • Ner'zhul: You no longer have to sacrifice for your people. You no longer have to bear the weight of your crown. I've taken care of everything.
    Terenas: What is this? What are you doing, my son?
    Arthas: Succeeding you, father...
  • This kingdom shall fall, and from the ashes shall arise a new order that will shake the very foundations of the world. (after impaling Terenas)
  • Uther: The urn holds your father's ashes, Arthas! What, were you hoping to piss on them one last time before you left his kingdom to rot?
    Arthas: I didn't know what it held. Nor does it matter. I'll take what I came for one way or another.
    Uther (dying): I dearly hope that there's a special place in hell waiting for you, Arthas.
    Arthas: We may never know, Uther. I intend to live forever.
  • Rifleman: We did, ye rotting bastards!
    Arthas: Muradin's dwarves? Doesn't anyone stay dead anymore? (to Muradin's dwarves when discovering the survivors)
  • Baelgun: I remember you, evil prince. You're the one that killed poor Muradin!
    Arthas: Get over it already. (when meeting Baelgun when he was going to Azjol-Nerub)
  • A Nerubian: Look, brothers! The traitor king!
    Arthas: Who? Me?
    Anub'arak: He is referring to me, death knight.
  • Kel'Thuzad: She is persistent. Reminds me of you, death knight.
    Arthas: Shut up you damned ghost.
  • So, you're not upset about me killing you that one time? (to the reborn Kel'Thuzad)
  • Greetings, dreadlords. I should thank you for looking after my kingdom during my absence. However, I won't be requiring your services any longer.
  • It's time to end the game. Once, and for all.
  • Illidan has mocked the Scourge long enough. It's time we put the fear of death back in him.
  • Nothing shall prevent me from having my revenge, old friend. Not even you!
  • Yes, I've damned everyone and everything I've ever loved in his name, and I still feel no remorse. No shame. No pity.
  • After all you've put me through, woman, the last thing I'll give you is the peace of death.
  • No we. No one tells me what to do. I've got everything I need from you—now the power is mine and mine alone. Now there is only I. I am the Lich King. And I am ready. (After consuming Ner'zhul and banishing his humanity)

Fall of the Lich King Outro

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Arthas lies supine, the shattered remnants of Frostmourne beside him. He starts as the ghost of Terenas Menethil materializes over him, and the characteristic blue glow dissipates from his eyes. As Terenas kneels next to him, Arthas places a hand on his father's chest.
Arthas Menethil: Father! Is it... over?
Terenas lays a comforting hand on Arthas's gauntlet.
Terenas Menethil II: At long last. No king rules forever, my son.
Arthas Menethil: I see... only darkness... before... me...
Arthas's eyes roll back into his head and he dies, his hand falling to the ground. Terenas closes his son's eyes and gently lays him on the ground as Tirion walks in.
Terenas Menethil II: Without its master's command, the restless Scourge will become an even greater threat to this world.
Terenas stands, facing Tirion.
Terenas Menethil II: Control must be maintained. There must always be a Lich King.
Terenas' ghost disappears.

In-game quotes

Questionmark-medium.png This section's content needs citations, references, or sources. Reason: Are these WC3 and WoW quotes mixed up together?


  • Justice has come!
  • Foul knave!
  • You are past redemption!
  • Light, guide my path.
  • Light, give me strength.
  • I should be in command.
  • I know what I'm doing.
  • There's no need to bow.
  • For my father the king.
  • The Light is my strength.

Death Knight:

  • Frostmourne hungers.
  • You shall know endless torment!
  • Your pain shall be legendary!
  • I was a fool to trust in the Light.
  • The Lich King has given me true power.
  • I'll be twice the king my father ever was.
  • Lordaeron will be reborn.
  • Who is this "Darkness" anyway?
  • Speak fool.
  • What is it now?



Official images
Fan art




  • In a PC World article, Arthas was voted #19 of the top 47 "most diabolical game villains of all time".
  • Arthas's fall from Paladin to Death Knight and eventually Lich King is similar in many respects to the fall of Anakin Skywalker from Jedi Knight to Dark Lord of the Sith. This can be seen in the motivations of both Arthas and Anakin to protect their loved ones, their aspirations to greater power, the betrayal and slaughter of their former allies, and eventual showdown with their former mentors. One could also draw comparisons between Uther the Lightbringer and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • In addition, Arthas's return to Lordaeron is similar to the newly christened Darth Vader's march on the Jedi Temple with the 501st Legion during Operation: Knightfall. The scenes share similar camera angles, Vader and Arthas are both cloaked, and both menacingly draw their weapons in preparation to attack their former allies.
  • Another comparison could be drawn between Darth Vader and Arthas concerning their deaths. The Lich King appears to be redeemed as he lay dying in his father's spectral arms, as Vader redeemed himself moments before his death, and died not as Darth Vader but as Anakin Skywalker.
  • The plight of the Lich King is similar to that of the legendary spirit Davy Jones as seen in Pirates of the Caribbean, because when the current Lich King is destroyed, another must rise to take his place. There must always be a Lich King. Arthas (as the Lich King) abandoned his humanity entirely by silencing his heart, just as Davy Jones had. Additionally, the Lich King commands an a massive army of undead soldiers and creatures, while Davy Jones' duty is to ferry the souls of those lost at sea to the afterlife. As a villain, Jones commands a crew of undead pirates.
  • Many of Arthas's acts regarding his journey to Northrend seem to have been inspired by Hernan Cortes, a Spanish Conquistador during the Spanish invasion of the new world. Cortes was ordered to take some ships and some soldiers on an expedition, it was called off shortly before its start, but he got ships of his own, took the force and went rogue. When he arrived he then destroyed his own ships so there would be no going back, similar to Arthas. Cortes's forces were too small against the Aztecs but he recruited Native American tribes who hated them and with their help defeated and conquered them, like how Arthas's forces were too small against the Scourge and he had to find Frostmourne and use it against Mal'Ganis.
  • There is a reference to him in Adventurequest, where there is an enemy named Lord Arrgthas, wears armor resembling an ice knight and has, "Hes not a lich king just yet" in his description, referencing his time as a death knight.
  • In Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, both Arthas (as the Lich King) and Frostmourne (his guitar) are unlockable after earning 1600 stars and reaching level 71.[25]
  • Orochi, the main antagonist in Koei's Warriors Orochi game series is possibly a reference to the undead Arthas, especially his character and facial design. Even Orochi become very similiar with him in his secondary form as Orochi X, though his armor in both forms are slightly lighter rather than Arthas's Lich King armor, and Orochi is prefer to use a giant scythe as his weapon.
  • Arthas also offers many similarities with Michael Moorcock's "Elric of Melniboné" character and his rune sword Stormbringer. Both are rulers who betray their own land, and both are cursed by their runic blades.
  • The story of Warhammer 40,000 is in juxtaposition to the opposite equivalent of Warcraft III, as Lion El'Jonson following the Great Crusade which was much similar as the respective one of Arthas Menethil in terms of purges like the one in Stratholme, reaching the far ends of known territories and fighting against demonic forces as well as Orks, abandoned his adoptive father Luther just like Arthas abandoned Uther whose name as well as experience and opposite perspectives, talents and personalities compared to the students bear a striking resemblance in terms of their complicated relationships, but it was Luther and not Lion El'Jonson who was considered insane and a traitor and slayed his pupil instead of other way around.


  • Arthas could be seen as a "reverse" version of King Arthur, up to the name similarity. Like Arthur, Arthas's fate as the king began with pulling a sword out of the stone - Frostmourne is comparable to the Sword in the Stone/Excalibur. Ner'zhul may be seen as roughly equivalent to Merlin, the wizard figure behind the king, while Uther, Arthas's trainer, shares his name with King Arthur's father. In contrast to Arthur, Arthas destroys a Camelot-styled kingdom and builds its opposite.
    • Note: Arthas is a variant of the name Arthur common to Brittany, France. However, due to the popularity of Arthurian legends, this name is rarely seen outside of the Brittany region.
  • Hernan Cortes, a Spanish conquistador, made a very similar decision to Arthas in Warcraft III. When Uther had convinced King Terenas II to send Arthas and his expedition back to Lordaeron, Arthas decided to burn the ships to achieve victory against Mal'Ganis. Due to half of his men protesting and wanting to go back to the mainland, Cortes decided to burn his ships until victory was achieved against the Aztecs so he could claim their land.
    • The decision made above was also believed to have been done before Cortes by Umayyad commander Tariq bin Ziyad in order to conquer Hispania (modern-day Spain) and make it Al-Andalus. Cortes is believed to have been inspired by Tariq bin Ziyad's strategic movement of conquering Cortes's own hometown.


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.

Still "Undead"?

Though his body was undone, his evil side might linger on, continuing to advise and corrupt Bolvar Fordragon as Ner'zhul did to him.This might classify his status as either "eternal" or "ghost", but however, this hasn't been clarified by Blizzard, seeing as they haven't brought the new Lich King into play.

It might also be possible, seeing that many evil characters who were thought gone for good have returned (i.e. Deathwing was thought dead at least twice, Ner'zhul returned as the original Lich King, Kael'thas came back in a deformed appearance, etc.).

The moments before the Culling of Stratholme

After Arthas made his case and explained why the citizens of Stratholme needed to be purged both Uther and Jaina abandoned him. This decision by Uther and Jaina is undoubtably the cause of Arthas's eventual path to become the Lich King. Had they stood by him and thought about the situation rationally like one would expect from a master Paladin and a Mage of the Kirin Tor, then Arthas would not have faced one of the most horrific moments in his life without his closest friends. With the weight of abandonment by his partner and his mentor on his heart Arthas dedicated his life to chasing down Mal'Ganis believing he had nothing left to lose.

Hence, if Jaina and Uther had listened to his plight and sided with Arthas. Arthas would have never chased down Frostmourne. Muradin would've encountered it in Frostmourne's cave and left it alone as he suggested Arthas to do leaving the blade there, unlikely to be found soon. This in turn would prevent the scourge from ever entering Quel'Thalas and Silvermoon. Leaving the Sunwell intact and the High Elves uncorrupted. Kael'thas and Illidan would never have met and thus the Blood Elves would never have reinforced Illidan's crusade against Ner'zhul. How Illidan's march on Icecrown would have ended without the Blood Elves is hard to predict. However, this turn of events would have shifted the power balance heavily in favor to the Alliance as the Forsaken and Blood Elves would never exist. Aside from that, Jaina most likely would've never met Thrall. Dooming the new Horde before it could even get started.

Another piece of this hypothetical puzzle would be that Arthas was the one that pointed Illidan in the direction of Tichondrius and the Skull of Gul'dan. Without those directions Illidan may have never absorbed the fell powers of Gul'dan and remained a Night Elf. Then again, with Kel'Thuzad dead and the Scourge invasion of Lordaeron failed it could be that Illidan and his Naga would've just steamrolled the now championless Nerzhul. Illidan wouldn't have had to hide his failure from Kil'Jaeden.

This alternate universe must have some flaws though, most likely the lack of strife after the troll wars and the wars against the Horde would've made the Alliance soft enough to either fall against C'tun or the united Zandalari Empire. Not to mention Deathwing's return.

The implications of this change to the history would've caused an immense ripple in the timeways and the Bronze flight is probably preventing that as you're reading this.


See also

External links

Prince Arthas (Dragonblight) Arthas (Caverns of Time: Stratholme)

Preceded by:
Terenas Menethil II
Ruler of Lordaeron
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Undead member of Level 10 Tauren Chieftain
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Ner'zhul (alone)
Lich King of the Scourge (conjoined spirits with Ner'zhul)
Succeeded by:
Arthas Menethil (dominant)
Preceded by:
Arthas Menethil and Ner'zhul (conjoined spirits)
Lich King of the Scourge (dominant)
Succeeded by:
Bolvar Fordragon