Blizzard Entertainment recently launched the Harbingers short-animated series starting with Gul’dan. In this story, Gul’dan is exiled by his orcish tribe because of his physical deformity which makes him weak before the eye of his chieftain. The tribe’s shaman suggested Gul’dan to visit the Throne of the Elements in search for his destiny. However, the elements abandon Gul’dan in his lowest moment of desperation. Hungry, hopeless, lonely.

However, the Burning Legion listened to Gul’dan’s plea, and empowered him with fel magic. Gul’dan then killed the tribe that exiled him. No one will know what tribe spawned him.


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It is hard to tell whether this is a retcon, or if there is room to expand upon the lore we already knew from the old Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness game manual, and subsequent novels.

In World of World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde by Christie Golden

Ner’zhul’s apprentice, however, Durotan did not like. Orgrim was sitting next to his boyhood friend, and, seeing where Durotan’s gaze led, leaned over and whispered, “I think that Gul’dan would better serve his people if he were set out as bait.” Durotan looked away so that no one else would see him smile. He did not know how experienced Gul’dan was as a shaman; surely he must have some ability or else Ner’zhul would not have taken him on to succeed him. But he was not a very prepossessing orc. Shorter than many, softer than most, with a short, bushy beard, he did not exemplify the orc as a warrior.

Source: World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde (p. 88). Pocket Books. Kindle Edition.


Gul’dan had been Ner’zhul’s shaman apprentice for many years. Additionally, from the pages of “Rise of the Horde,” more evidence revealed that it was Ner’zhul who first heard the whispers of Kil’jaeden.

The ancestors had never appeared to him at all. It had all been a trick concocted by Kil’jaeden, whoever— whatever— he was. They were right not to trust Ner’zhul now. Any shaman who would be so easily deceived could never be trusted to put things right again. All was an elaborate web of lies and deceit and manipulation. And he, Ner’zhul, had been the first foolish insect to become inextricably trapped in it.

Source: World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde (pp. 189-190). Pocket Books. Kindle Edition.


In Harbingers: The Story of Gul’dan, we see Gul’dan exiled from his tribe, and once the elements abandon him, Kil’jaeden whispered to him granting him domain over fel magic. This is a contradiction on what we know from the Warcraft lore. However, is this necessarily a retcon?

The answer is no. Not really.

There is one particular event that justifies this new Gul’dan origin.

Harbingers: The Story of Gul'dan


In the pages of World of Warcraft: War Crimes — by Christie Golden — the bronze dragon Kairoz and Garrosh Hellscream timetraveled 20 years into the past of Draenor. However, this was not the past of the Draenor we know. Not at all.

Kairozdormu had advised him to expect a few strange discoveries. I’ve spent my life studying the timeways. If you try to count and compare blades of grass, you’ll drive yourself mad, he had said. My plans require a few… favorable conditions, and we’ll find them here. This is the perfect timeway for us. Not a perfect mirror image, but perfect nonetheless.

Source: The Characters of Warcraft (Short Stories) — Hellscream by Robert Brooks


Kairoz chose that particular Draenor from a myriad of alternate timelines. A Draenor where Grom Hellscream’s mate was dead, and she did never give birth to Garrosh.

So from the moment Garrosh set foot in this alternate Draenor, whatever his actions were somehow changed the events that would normally take place, in addition to a world that no longer has Garrosh’s mother in it, which changed Grom as well and any decisions he may have taken in the known Draenor.

It’s unknown at the moment if Garrosh’s actions in the past are somehow responsible or tied in any way to Gul’dan being exiled from his unknown tribe, or if this alternate Draenor was going to eventually lead to Gul’dan’s fate as the first to be contacted by Kil’jaeden.

In the Draenor we know, it was Ner’zhul who Kil’jaeden first whispered to. So there is definitely some background story we do not know about the Warlords of Draenor timeline.

For that matter, Harbingers: The Story of Gul’dan is not necessarily a retcon, but the new path of events specific to the WoD timeline.


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