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This article is about the living dead in general. For the playable race of undead, see Undead (playable). For lore, see Forsaken. For other uses, see Undead (disambiguation).
For the Lich King's faction, see Scourge.
The undead are former mortals who have died and become trapped between life and death. These tragic beings derive power from the necromantic energies that pervade the universe. Most undead are driven by vengeance and hatred to destroy the one thing that they can never have again: life.

The undead were once-living creatures, now animated by spiritual or supernatural forces.[1] The term undead refers to all creatures or entities that function normally despite having terminated life functions. Most commonly known as zombies or ghosts, undead beings are most typically mindless, bloodthirsty fiends hostile toward any living thing that comes across their path.

The undead have appeared all throughout Azeroth, most commonly in nature as revenants or wraiths. They were used as a combat tool during the First War when the necrolytes of the Horde learned to animate corpses as skeleton warriors in their fight against the Alliance. Later, the studies of the necrolytes developed into necromancy, the form of magic used very heavily in the Third War when the Cult of the Damned spread the Plague of Undeath across Lordaeron.

In modern times, "undead" refers primarily to either the Scourge or the Forsaken, since nearly half of the human race have since become undead. However, Forsaken player characters and NPCs are for most intents and purposes considered to be "humanoids" in World of Warcraft due to gameplay reasons and do not share all the characteristics of other undead. This is not the case according to the lore in other sources where Forsaken share all the characteristics of standard Undead.

Characteristics in World of Warcraft

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

  • Cannot be skinned, except for certain undead animals that would otherwise be classified as beasts (i.e.: bears, boars, wolves, etc).
  • Generally are unaffected by mind affecting spells, like fear (They've seen it all before), sleep or mind control, however, priests can use Shackle Undead to temporarily imprison monsters and paladins can use Turn Undead which works just like a fearing spell. This does not apply to player characters of the undead race, which are technically classified as humanoid, for purposes of game-balance.
  • Can be tracked by Paladins and Hunters.
  • Death Knights under the effect of Lichborne are considered undead.
  • Cannot be healed by Death Coil (death knight ability) unless a death knight is under the effect of Lichborne.

Types of undead

See also


For game balance, the Forsaken are registered as humanoids because, in a PvP setting, they would be massacred with Exorcism, Holy Wrath, Turn Undead, and Shackle Undead, but they would also be immune to other CC such as Polymorph and Fear. Forsaken were classified as undead in Beta, but it proved to be too problematic with PvP balance. Many Forsaken NPCs are also considered humanoid.


  1. ^ Monster Guide, pg. 199

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