Arthas Menethil in Heroes of the Storm
|First appearance||A Trial of Will, Chapter 5 of Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor|
|First game||Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos|
|Created by||Blizzard Entertainment|
Arthas Menethil is a fictional character who appears in the Warcraft series of video games by Blizzard Entertainment. In the games, he was once an apprentice paladin with promising potential and the crown prince of Lordaeron, but later became one of the most powerful and evil beings in the history of Azeroth, as well as one of the most prominent and well-known antagonists in Warcraft lore, then known as the Lich King. The character has received mostly positive critical reception. In Warcraft III, Committed to the protection of his people, Arthas was determined to stop the plague of undeath from infecting Lordaeron. Arthas is voiced by Justin Gross. In subsequent appearances, he is voiced by Patrick Seitz (paladin/death knight Arthas) and Michael McConnohie (Lich King Arthas).
According to Warcraft game designers Scott Mercer and Greg Street, "early on in the development of Warcraft III, we knew the game would be about heroes leading their armies into battle. We initially created Arthas as one of those leaders, so we knew from the beginning he would be central to the storyline", and that he "is the bridge connecting the human and the undead campaigns."
When one of the Knights of the Ebon Blade enters the Blade 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.
Regarding the development of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Mercer stated that "when development began on Wrath of the Lich King, we knew we wanted the players to have a more personal connection with the Lich King ... so we started designing quests and instances in which we could show the Lich King to the players." Developers also designed the game so that "players can see the wrecks of the Alliance ships that Arthas set ablaze ... they can also find the altar upon which Arthas first discovered Frostmourne ... We deliberately built these aspects into Wrath of the Lich King to help remind players who Arthas is and where he came from, which we hope makes his character that much more vivid in players' minds."
Role in Warcraft
Arthas Menethil was the prince of Lordaeron and the only son of Terenas Menethil. Arthas was an idealistic, yet somewhat rash, young man who dreamed of one day succeeding his father as king of Lordaeron. Arthas became an apprentice paladin at nineteen and served as a favorite pupil of Uther the Lightbringer. Though Arthas loved the kindly Uther like an uncle, he longed to take command of his own destiny and become a hero like the brave veterans who fought the orcs during the Second War. Despite the heartache he felt when his brief affair with the sorceress Jaina Proudmoore came to an end, Arthas remained remarkably committed to his roles as both the prince of Lordaeron and as a holy paladin. He had a deep reverence for the Light and wanted nothing more than to safeguard his beloved people from harm.
Arthas was inducted into 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 prominent figures such as Genn Greymane, Thoras Trollbane, Daelin Proudmoore, and Jaina Proudmoore, whom Arthas had not seen since childhood. Archbishop Alonsus Faol led the initiation process, which included four of the five original paladins: Uther, Tirion Fordring, Saidan Dathrohan, and Gavinrad the Dire. Arthas was presented with 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, Varian Wrynn, and sparred with him while recounting old memories. He also met the recently born prince, Anduin Wrynn, who gripped his finger
When Arthas took up the fight against the Scourge, he became increasingly frustrated and stymied by the seemingly unstoppable enemy. Arthas took increasingly extreme steps to conquer them, and his comrades warned him that he was losing his hold on his humanity. Arthas's fear and resolve proved to be his ultimate undoing. He tracked the plague's source to Northrend, intending to end its threat forever. Instead, the prince eventually fell prey to the Lich King's tremendous power when he took up the cursed runeblade, Frostmourne, believing that it would save his people. Though the sword did grant him unfathomable power, it also stole his soul and transformed him into the greatest of the Lich King's death knights. With his soul cast aside and his sanity shattered, Arthas led the Scourge against his own kingdom. He murdered his father, King Terenas, and crushed the realms of Lordaeron, Quel'Thalas and Dalaran under the Lich King's iron heel.
When the Lich King was threatened by the forces of Illidan Stormrage, Arthas traveled to the Frozen Throne of Northrend. He broke the ice surrounding his master so he could don the Lich King's Helm of Domination and merge with him. After taking control of the Scourge as the new Lich King, Arthas challenged the Alliance and the Horde by initiating attacks on their cities. They responded by sending forces to Northrend to wage war against him. In World of Warcraft, Arthas is a raid boss and the primary antagonist of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. He was mortally wounded after a band of adventurers led by Tirion Fordring stormed his fortress, Icecrown Citadel, and defeated him in battle. He was succeeded as the Lich King by Bolvar Fordragon.
Arthas appears as a playable character in the crossover game Heroes of the Storm. In the game, Arthas is a warrior hero who performs a tanking role on the battlefield. His aim is to attract the attention of enemy players, as he can withstand a large amount of incoming damage thanks to his necromantic self-healing powers, meanwhile disrupting the enemy team with crowd control abilities. His playstyle is somewhat limited and predictable due to his lack of mobility, yet he is extremely strong in almost any scenario involving teamwork.
The character has received mostly positive reception, and is often included on lists involving the most popular Warcraft characters and video game characters as a whole. Empire listed Arthas #25 on their list of "the 50 greatest video game characters", writing "Of all the characters in Warcraft lore, Arthas Menethil is the most tragic. The heir to the throne of Lordaeron, Arthas set out to save his father's kingdom from The Scourge of undead, only to be tricked into joining their ranks by taking up the cursed sword Frostmourne and ultimately becoming their lord and master, The Lich King. Talk about doing a one-eighty." He was also included on "The 10 best video-game characters" list by The Guardian, who claimed that "initially the valiant model of a medieval knight, everything changes when Arthas picks up a cursed sword and begins to perpetrate a steadily more sinister series of atrocities (think dead peasants), culminating in killing his own father. The character really came into his own in the mighty World of Warcraft, over which his twisted spirit presided for five years. Top-class schlock."
Matthew Rossi of Engadget listed the Lich King #4 on his list of the "Top 10 magnificent bastards of Warcraft", since he "successfully molded Arthas into the perfect death knight ... Arthas went from an earnest young prince and paladin trying desperately to save his people to a cackling villain who betrayed them, and it was more Arthas' doing than the Lich King's that Illidan was defeated." He also wrote that "Arthas was useful because he started as a basically good, if somewhat arrogant, young paladin who slowly grew obsessed over time as he witnessed the actions of the Scourge, making mistakes ... and then justifying each mistake as a necessity. By the time he took up Frostmourne and lost his soul, he'd long since eroded it away with expedient choices that were, in fact, monstrous ... Arthas as a death knight and later Arthas as the Lich King showed this tendency to want to justify or prove his actions were the right ones, that anyone would have done what he did." Rossi also claimed that "what did Arthas, the part of Arthas still alive inside the Lich King, want to teach us? Ultimately, that power corrupts. Power corrupted him, and it will corrupt you, too. That it is inescapable, and thus, Arthas couldn't have escaped it - that becoming the Lich King was inevitable, that all kings and princes and people of power ultimately end up slaves to themselves."
Arthas was listed on Complex's list of "25 dead video game characters we wish were still here", as "in the same way that Boromir was corrupted in Lord of the Rings, Arthas represents the folly of man, and how easily power can be corrupted. Because of this, we almost want him to survive just to serve as an example that redemption is possible in anyone. If the Lich King had been able to turn around his ways, then there would've been hope for us all." IGN found Arthas to be one of "gaming's most notorious anti-heroes", since "Arthas Menethil began as something of a Disney prince, upholding the Light wherever he saw the need. But with the arrival of the plague of undeath, the Light in Arthas began to waver ... but as is often the case, he wasn't a simple prince-turned-insane-villain. The newly formed Lich King may have been evil, but he was keeping the undead Scourge in check, holding back the flood of the decrepit and the mindless." Arthas also features in Warcraft-related merchandise, such as Halloween costumes.
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