Darkness Incarnate, Destroyer of Dreams, Betrayer of the Orcs, Great Betrayer
Take over Azeroth and remake it in his own image, achieve godhood
Torn apart by demons after entering the Tomb of Sargeras
|“||I am Gul'dan... I am darkness incarnate. I will not be denied.||„|
Gul'dan is a major antagonist in the Warcraft universe.
He was a former orc shaman from Draenor, the homeworld of the orcish race, and an apprentice to Ner'zhu. Abandoning shamanism and betraying his people to the demon lord Kil'jaeden, Gul'dan instigated the enslavement of the orcs and the invasion of Azeroth. He is the founder of the Orcish Hord, the master of the Shadow Council, and the creator of the death knights.
Gul'dan was once a member of the Shadowmoon council, and showed great talent in shamanism. His talent resulted in him being chosen as the apprentice of the elder shaman Ner'zhul, the Shadowman's chief. At some point, Gul'dan met a two-headed ogre named Cho'gall, and trained him. During the orc war against the draenei on orders from Kil'jaeden, Gul'dan supported Ner'zhul as he rallied the orcs for battle. However, Gul'dan betrayed the orcs in favor of serving Kil'jaeden, who offered him a warlock's magic. Gul'dan accepted the demon's offer, and worked to bring the orcs under demon control.
Gul'dan went to work reshaping the orcs into a bloodthirsty horde, founding the Shadow Council, comprised of a number of orcs trained by Gul'dan. The Council enforced Gul'dan and Kil'jaeden's rule over the orcish people. Gul'dan educated shamans in the dark arts, including necromancy, and founded his own clan, the Stormreavers. As part of his bargain with Kil'jaeden, Gul'dan offered the orcish chieftains the Blood of Mannoroth, resulting in the creation of a horde of savage orcs. Gul'dan utilized this Horde to orchestrate the near-extermination of the draenei.
As part of a breeding experiment, Gul'dan bred one of his warriors with a draenai female, resulting in the bird of Garona, half-orc, half-draenei female. Gul'dan had her magically aged and tortured her, and made her his personal assassin.
The First War
Gul'dan was convinced by the sorcerer Medivh to wage war of Azeroth in exchange for godhood, locked away within the Tomb of Sargeras. Aiding Medivh in opening a portal between Azeroth and Draenor, Gul'dan sent his Horde to wreck havoc on the world. This conflict would later be known as the First War.
For years, the war waged on, and the Horde began to overwhelm the Kingdom of Azeroth. Prior to the final siege on Stormwind, Gul'dan became aware of a raiding party attacking Medivh's tower of Karazhan. In desperation, Gul'dan magically infiltrated the sorcerer's mind to unlock the location of the Tomb of Sargeras. When Medivh was killed by Lothar and Khadgar, Gul'dan was put in a coma, having still been in the sorcerer's mind when he was killed.
The Second War
Gul'dan eventually awoke from his coma, but by this point, his power had been almost totally destroyed; only a handful of his former minions were still loyal to him. Gul'dan was spared by Orgrim Doomhammer, who allowed him to run Balor and the remains of Stormwind Castle in exchange for information regarding Blackhand's followers. Gul'dan claimed that the raiders had aligned themselves with the sons of Blackhand to stage a coup against Doomhammer. Regardless of the validity of Gul'dan's statement, Doomhammer disbanded the raiders and placed them among the grunt regiments.
Gul'dan, to prove his loyalty to Doomhammer, promised to create an army of undead warriors to serve him. Gul'dan made numerous failed attempts to place the souls of the warlocks into the bodies of the Stormwind knights, with aid from his necrolytes. Eventually, Gul'dan resolved to sacrifice his necrolytes in a ritual and transform their hearts into mystical gems containing their magical power and souls. Placing the gems in truncheons, Gul'dan was finally able to use them to amass an army of undead soldiers called death knights. A satisfied Doomhammer used the death knights as soldiers in the war, unaware that they're true loyalty was with Gul'dan.
On the eve of Doomhammer's attack on the Lordaeron's capital, Gul'dan took the Stormweaver and Twilight's Hammer clans to locate the Tomb of Sargeras, leaving Doomhammer with half his forces gone. Locating the tomb, Gul'dan entered it and searched for the Eye of Sargeras. However, upon entering it, he was torn apart by a swarm of demons trapped in the tomb, while his clans were killed by Doomhammer's forces. In his dying moments, Gul'dan realized that he had been deceived by Sargeras.
Despite his death, Gul'dan was still dangerous. His skull was used as a channeling totem for demonic energy. Gul'dan's spirit remained in his skull, and whispered to whoever held it. Ner'zhul used Gul'dan's skull to open portals to other worlds, and was later used by Khadgar to destroy the Dark Portal before being abandoned on Draenor.
Gul'dan's skull was later used by the Burning Legion to corrupt the forests of Felwood. The skull's power was later absorbed by Illidan Stormrage, using it's power to become half-demon. He also absorbed Gul'dan's memories, which allowed him to locate the Tomb of Sargeras.
Warcraft: The Beginning
Gul'dan serves as the main antagonist of the film adaptation.
Draenor, the homeworld of the orcs, is being torn apart by a mysterious force known as fel magic. Gul'dan unites the orc clans and forms the Horde, and creates a portal to the world of Azeroth. The orcs begin to use fel magic to drain the life out of captive draenei in order to sustain the portal. Once it is operational, Gul'dan leads a small warband to capture prisoners on Azeroth and sacrifice them to bring the rest of the Horde through the portal. Despite their doubts, Durotan, the chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan, his pregnant mate Draka, and his friend Orgrim Doomhammer join this initial warband. While crossing through the portal, Draka goes into labor. When the orcs arrive on Azeroth, Gul'dan assists Draka with giving birth, but the baby is stillborn. Gul'dan then drains the life out of a nearby deer to revive and infuse fel magic into the baby, which Durotan later names Go'el. The orcs raid several settlements throughout Azeroth. Anduin Lothar, the military commander of the human forces in the Stormwind Kingdom, looks over some of the men that were killed, and finds a trespassing mage named Khadgar, who explains that he was investigating the dead bodies because they contained traces of fel magic. Khadgar persuades Stormwind's king, Llane Wrynn, to consult Medivh, the fabled Guardian of Tirisfal, and Llane sends Anduin and Khadgar to Medivh's stronghold, Karazhan, to inform him of the fel magic's presence on Azeroth. In the Karazhan library, a ghostly shadow leads Khadgar to a mysterious book, which he takes.
Anduin, Khadgar and Medivh join a scouting team following traces of fel magic, but are ambushed by orcs. Medivh uses a spell to kill most of the orcs, and the Horde's warchief, Blackhand, flees, along with Durotan and Orgrim. Khadgar restrains the half-orc known as Garona, and the soldiers take her prisoner. King Llane frees Garona in exchange for loyalty to Stormwind, and she leads the humans to spy on the orc camp, where they learn of Gul'dan's plan to bring the Horde to Azeroth. Meanwhile, Durotan realizes that the fel magic is responsible for the destruction of Draenor, and if Gul'dan is not thwarted, Azeroth will suffer the same fate. Despite Orgrim's objections, Durotan invites Llane to a secret meeting so that the Frostwolf Clan and the humans can unite to defeat Gul'dan. While studying the book he took from Karazhan, Khadgar learns that Gul'dan could not have opened the portal on his own; he had help from someone on Azeroth. He is confronted by Medivh, who burns Khadgar's research when Khadgar offers to help him with his work.
The Frostwolf Clan meets with the humans to negotiate an alliance, but the group is ambushed by Blackhand. As the humans retreat, Medivh forms a magical barrier to protect them, but Lothar's son Callan is separated from the rest of the group and killed by Blackhand. Medivh is severely weakened, and Garona and Khadgar take him back to Karazhan to recover. After noticing Medivh's eyes shine green, showing that he is infected by fel magic, Khadgar returns to his former home, Dalaran, to seek help from a group of human magi called the Kirin Tor. Alodi, a legendary mage and the true identity of the shadow who led Khadgar to the book, reveals that Medivh has indeed been corrupted by fel magic and possessed by an unknown demon. At the orc camp, Blackhand purges the Frostwolf Clan. Orgrim helps Draka to escape, and she sends Go'el down a river in a basket, but is then found and killed by another orc. Durotan challenges Gul'dan to Mak'gora, a traditional orcish duel to the death for leadership of a clan – in this case, all of the orcs. During the fight, Gul'dan violates the honorable combat rules by draining the life out of Durotan with his magic, killing him and earning the disapproval of the orcs watching, and he empowers Blackhand with the same magic. Medivh, now in a half-demonic state, starts to open the portal to Draenor, and Gul'dan sacrifices the captured human villagers to allow the rest of the Horde to enter Azeroth.
Llane leads the human army in an assault on the orc camp, while Anduin and Khadgar fight Medivh and destroy the demon that had begun to manifest on the outside. Medivh is left mortally wounded, and uses the last of his strength to close the portal to Draenor and instead open a portal to Stormwind, allowing Llane to evacuate most of the freed prisoners. When Medivh eventually dies, the portal closes, leaving Llane, Garona and a small number of human soldiers to fight the orcs. Llane secretly orders Garona to kill him, bringing her honor among the orcs and putting her in a position of power to bring peace between the two races. Garona reluctantly does so, and is welcomed into the Horde by Gul'dan. As the orcs celebrate, Anduin arrives to retrieve King Llane's body and discovers Garona's knife in the body, realizing that it was she who had killed their king. Blackhand challenges Anduin to Mak'gora, and Anduin quickly disposes of him. Against Gul'dan's demands, the orcs, bound by tradition, allow Anduin to depart with Llane's body. At Llane's funeral in Stormwind, the leaders of the other human nations, along with the high elves and dwarves, proclaim an alliance against the orcs and rally behind Anduin as the leader of the Alliance forces. Elsewhere, Orgrim takes one of Durotan's tusks to one day give to Go'el, and the basket containing Go'el is found by a human.
Powers and abilities
Gul'dan was one of the most powerful mortal warlocks in history. He was a master at necromancy and demonic sorcery, and Medivh acknowleged him to be the most powerful warlock among the orcish people.