Kel'Thuzad (pronounced /'kɛlθʔzɑːd/) was the founder of the Cult of the Damned and one of the principal agents of the Lich King responsible for the spreading of the plague of undeath across Lordaeron. Originally a human mage of the Kirin Tor, Kel'Thuzad was swayed under the influence of the Lich King. After bringing the plague to Lordaeron, he was slain by Arthas. Arthas (by then a death knight) resurrected him as a lich so he could summon Archimonde the Defiler into Azeroth. Following Arthas' departure for Northrend, Kel'Thuzad was left to command the Scourge of Lordaeron from his necropolis, Naxxramas. Following his first defeat, he and his necropolis moved to Northrend.
Kel'Thuzad appeared in Warcraft III as a Hero in the undead campaign. He appears in World of Warcraft as the final encounter of Naxxramas, implemented in patch 1.11 and re-tuned for level 80 in patch 3.0. He may additionally be found in Old Hillsbrad Foothills as his past, human self.
He was voiced by Michael McConnohie in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and his original appearance in World of Warcraft. He is voiced by a different unknown actor in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.
By the period shortly before the Second War, Kel'Thuzad was a member of the Council of Six, the high council of the Kirin Tor — the masters of Dalaran. Of the Kirin Tor's leaders, Kel'Thuzad was the most eager to gain access to the Guardian's Library — the depository of knowledge hoarded by Medivh in his tower of Karazhan — and thus was most upset when the library was lost. After Medivh's death, Kel'Thuzad and the other senior members of the Kirin Tor questioned Medivh's apprentice, Khadgar, about what happened; Kel'Thuzad seemed particularly interested in discovering more about the mysterious Order of Tirisfal, which — as he pointed out to Antonidas, the leader of the Kirin Tor — was relevant when discussing Medivh.
Call of the Lich King
A handful of powerful individuals, scattered across the world, heard the Lich King's mental summons from Northrend. Most notable of them was the Archmage Kel'Thuzad from the magical nation of Dalaran. Kel'Thuzad was one of the senior members of the Kirin Tor — Dalaran's ruling council — and had been considered a maverick for years due to his insistence on studying the forbidden arts of necromancy. Driven to learn all he could of the magical world and its shadowy wonders, he was frustrated by what he saw as his peers' outmoded and unimaginative precepts. Upon hearing the powerful summons from Northrend, the archmage bent all of his considerable will to communing with the mysterious voice. Convinced that the Kirin Tor was too squeamish to seize the power and knowledge inherent in the dark arts, he vowed to learn what he could from the immensely powerful being named the Lich King.
Forsaking his fortune and prestigious political standing, Kel'Thuzad abandoned the ways of the Kirin Tor and left Dalaran forever. Prodded by the Lich King's persistent voice in his mind, he sold his vast holdings and stored away his fortunes. Traveling alone over many leagues of both land and sea, he finally reached the frozen shores of Northrend. Intent on reaching Icecrown and offering his services to the Lich King, the archmage passed through the ravaged, war-torn ruins of Azjol-Nerub. Kel'Thuzad saw firsthand the scope and ferocity of Ner'zhul's power. He began to believe that allying himself with the mysterious Lich King would not only be wise, but potentially fruitful.
After long months of trekking through the harsh Arctic wastelands, Kel'Thuzad finally reached the dark glacier of Icecrown. He boldly approached Ner'zhul's dark citadel and was shocked when the silent undead guardsmen let him pass as though he was expected. Kel'Thuzad descended deep into the cold earth and found his way down to the bottom of the glacier. Within the endless cavern of ice and shadows, he prostrated himself before the Frozen Throne and offered his soul to the dark lord of the dead.
The full version of his flight from Dalaran and encounter in Icecrown, where he meets Anub'arak and realizes, too late, the full plans of the Lich King, is told in the short story, The Road to Damnation.
The Lich King was pleased with his latest conscript. He promised Kel'Thuzad immortality and great power in exchange for his loyalty and obedience. Kel'Thuzad, eager for dark knowledge and power, accepted his first great mission: to go into the world of men and found a new religion that would worship the Lich King as a god.
To help the Archmage accomplish his mission, Ner'zhul left Kel'Thuzad's humanity intact. The aged, yet still charismatic wizard, was charged with using his powers of illusion and persuasion to lull the downtrodden, disenfranchised masses of Lordaeron into his confidence. Once he had their attention, he would offer them a new vision of what society could be — and a new figurehead to call their king.
Cult of the Damned
Kel'Thuzad returned to Lordaeron in disguise, and over the span of three years, he used his fortune and intellect to gather a clandestine brotherhood of like-minded men and women. The brotherhood, which he called the Cult of the Damned, promised its acolytes social equality and eternal life on Azeroth in exchange for their service and obedience to Ner'zhul. As the months passed, Kel'Thuzad found many eager volunteers for his new cult amongst the tired, overburdened laborers of Lordaeron. Surprisingly, Kel'Thuzad's goal to pervert the citizens' faith in the Holy Light towards belief in Ner'zhul's dark shadow was easily attained. As the Cult of the Damned grew in size and influence, Kel'Thuzad made sure to keep its workings secret from the authorities of Lordaeron at every turn.
Compendium of the Fallen
With Kel'Thuzad's success in Lordaeron, the Lich King made the final preparations for his assault against human civilization. Placing his plague energies into a number of portable artifacts called Plague cauldrons, Ner'zhul ordered Kel'Thuzad to transport the cauldrons to Lordaeron where they would be hidden within various cult-controlled villages. The cauldrons, protected by the loyal cultists, would then act as plague generators by sending the plague seeping out across the unsuspecting farmlands and cities of northern Lordaeron.
The Lich King's plan worked perfectly. Many of Lordaeron's northern villages were contaminated almost immediately. Just as in Northrend, the citizens who contracted the plague died and arose as the Lich King's willing slaves. The cultists under Kel'Thuzad were eager to die and be raised again in their dark lord's service. They exulted in the prospect of immortality through undeath. As the plague spread, more and more feral zombies arose in the northlands. Kel'Thuzad looked upon the Lich King's growing army and named it the Scourge — for soon, it would march upon the gates of Lordaeron and scour humanity from the face of the world.
War of the Undead
Kel'Thuzad, upon the Lich King's instruction, oversaw the infection of the small town of Brill where he was discovered by Jaina Proudmoore and Prince Arthas. From there he quickly fled and they followed him back to Andorhal, where he told Arthas of Mal'ganis in Stratholme. Arthas, in a rage, hunted Kel'Thuzad down and killed him, but not before Kel'thuzad told him his death would mean little. But they were not finished yet.
After Arthas had traveled to Northrend, and slain Mal'ganis with Frostmourne, he returned to Lordaeron and betrayed his kingdom and became a servant of the Lich King. Kel'Thuzad began to appear to him as a ghostly apparition after his protector, Gavinrad the Dire, was slain by Arthas and Kel'thuzad's remains were reclaimed. He appeared only to Arthas, and told him that he was not to trust the dreadlords, explaining to Arthas that they were the Lich King's jailors, and promised to explain all of the Lich King's plans to Arthas once he walked the earth again in Quel'Thalas.
Kel'Thuzad watched over Arthas as he made the slow procession to the Sunwell in Silvermoon against the stratagems of Sylvanas Windrunner. Eventually, Arthas ravaged his way through the two Elfgates and finally laid siege to Silvermoon itself, breaching through to the fabled Sunwell. Arthas placed Kel'thuzad's remains within the well, and with the help of Tichondrius, Kel'Thuzad was reborn into the terrifying form of a lich.
As they traveled to Alterac, Kel'Thuzad explained that the Scourge was merely the harbinger of the Burning Legion, and that he would summon the first of the demons, the eredar warlock Archimonde to the mortal world. After slaying the orcs guarding the Demon Gate, Kel'Thuzad communed with the dark lord who told him that he must go to Dalaran and steal the Book of Medivh.
After Arthas led the attack on Dalaran and killed Antonidas, the book was retrieved and Kel'Thuzad began the lengthy summoning process, with Arthas defending him from the many attacks of Dalaran and the Kirin Tor. When all was complete, Archimonde stepped through the portal and was free to act according to his plans. His first act was to promote Tichondrius to leader of the Scourge, rendering Arthas and Kel'Thuzad of little use. However, Kel'Thuzad, confident in the Lich King's grand design, disappeared amidst the chaos of Dalaran's destruction. He had other plans...
After the War
Kel'Thuzad resurfaced as the Legion raked across the Plaguelands, and in the aftermath of the invasion, he remained in the Capital as one of the Lich King's lieutenants. Arthas had gone to Kalimdor on Ner'zhul's command to find the rogue demon hunter, Illidan, leaving only Kel'Thuzad and the banshee Sylvanas Windrunner remaining in his stead. However, both knew that the Legion was defeated long before the Dreadlords who remained in Lordaeron did.
Arthas returned in a fury and chased the dreadlords out of the Capital, and Kel'Thuzad was relieved to see him. With the Legion's generals gone, they turned to the human villages who were escaping to the mountain passes. Kel'Thuzad thought that perhaps they would be a fitting sacrifice to the Lich King. But as they cut a swath through the human forces, Arthas suffered some violent seizures, and Kel'Thuzad considered recalling their forces, but the King forbade it, and they continued on their macabre mission. In the aftermath, Arthas received a vision from Ner'zhul, who told him to return to Northrend. Kel'Thuzad immediately prepared for his departure, but they were abruptly ambushed by the dreadlords, and separated. The dreadlords unleashed their forces against Arthas, but Kel'Thuzad found his own way out of the city.
Kel'Thuzad later came upon Arthas in the clutches of Sylvanas and her wicked banshees. She was about to strike when Kel'Thuzad unleashed his forces against her and her sisters. With the banshees dead, Sylvanas was forced to retreat. Kel'Thuzad escorted Arthas to the shore, where he had prepared a fleet of ships for his departure. Arthas asked Kel'Thuzad, as his most loyal servant and twisted friend, to remain in Lordaeron and ensure that his legacy remain. Kel'Thuzad swore on what was left of his life to carry out that mission at any cost. In the battle that would follow between Sylvanas and the dreadlords, Kel'Thuzad took his forces into hiding, where he would plot his resurfacing into the new powers of the Plaguelands. He now resides in his necropolis Naxxramas.
In World of Warcraft
The Fall of NaxxramasThis section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.
Kel'Thuzad is the last encounter of the dungeon Naxxramas, implemented in the Patch 1.11, and is the end game boss of the original game of World of Warcraft. He is ultimately defeated by the players, but does not die. As a lich, he may reform using a part of his former self (the part of his "soul" kept in a magic item known as a phylactery). Should the phylactery be destroyed along with him, Kel'Thuzad would be defeated forever, but some things do not happen as they should.
The quest [60R] describes how the player, who likely wanted to destroy the phylactery, is manipulated by some mental force to give the phylactery to Father Inigo Montoy in Light's Hope Chapel. Something very unusual is going on here, and the Argent Dawn reports that the phylactery did not reach their hands.
Wrath of the Lich KingThis section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
Commander Eligor Dawnbringer: "The lich, Kel'Thuzad. He serves the Lich King without question, a necromancer of great prowess in life, turned into a master of necromancy after his death. It is said he is the most loyal of the Lich King's subjects. Kel'Thuzad has survived trials that would have long since shattered the souls of even the greatest of the Brotherhood. He readily gave his life at Arthas' hand, later to be brought back - reborn in the power of the Sunwell. In the Plaguelands, Kel'Thuzad was again defeated by the agents of the Argent Dawn. However, his phylactery was delivered to a false agent of the Brotherhood. We have yet to discover who stole his phylactery or why."
Kel'Thuzad once again returns as the final boss of the relocated Naxxramas — now floating above the Carrion Fields in the Dragonblight, besieging Wintergarde Keep. When the phylactery was given to Father Inigo Montoy, it was not delivered to the Argent Dawn; his hoarding of the artifact (instead of destroying it or giving it to the Argent Dawn) allowed Kel'Thuzad to regain corporeal form. (Montoy appears to have been rewarded for this effort as he is now a lich himself — known as Thel'zan the Duskbringer — and located within the Wintergarde Mausoleum below Wintergarde Keep, which is currently under siege by Naxxramas.)
In the quest  , Horde players are sent to the Plains of Nasam in a siege tank to destroy Scourge forces in the area and rescue injured Warsong Hold troops. They are also called on to identify the leader of the Scourge in the region — Kel'Thuzad himself, who stands upon a dais and is surrounded by Stitched Warsong Horrors, Plague Spreaders, and other Scourge Constructs.
In a manner very similar to how he was originally defeated, the champions of Azeroth again stormed the dread citadel Naxxramas and defeated the lich lord once again. The fate of Kel'Thuzad's phylactery - and by extension, that of Kel'Thuzad himself - remains unknown.
CataclysmThis section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
- Hello again, children. I am Kel'Thuzad, and I've come to deliver a warning: leave well enough alone. Your curiosity will be the death of you.
- We have been discovered, my brothers! Flee and continue with the Operations! (after Jaina and Arthas uncovered his operations in Brill.)
- Trust not the Dreadlords! They are the Lich King's jailors! (to Arthas, referring to Tichondrius.)
- I have returned as promised! The Lich King has granted me eternal life! (After using the Sunwell to reincarnate himself into a lich.)
- ... His knowledge of demons alone is staggering. I suspect he was far more powerful than anyone ever realized.
- I shall await my eternal reward.
- Who dares violate the sanctity of my domain? Be warned: All who trespass here are doomed!
- "Enjoy! ...or I will FREEZE THE BLOOD IN YOUR VEINS."
- "Minions, servants, soldiers of the cold dark... Obey the call of Kel'Thuzad!" 
- "Naive...fool. My death will make little difference in the long run...for now...the scourging of this land...begins."
Naxxramas preview monologue
I was cast out by my comrades. Exiled. Forced to wander the frozen wastes...but I was not alone. Not entirely. The voice, now my only companion, guided me to my destination. Strange, nightmarish creatures awaited me at the entrance. I felt my blood run cold, as cold as Icecrown itself.
Inside, I bore witness to horrific acts, demonstrations of power, power that could be mine for the asking. Terrified, I ran...but did not get far. All too soon, my choice was made. Too late did I realize that such power does not come...without a price.
Now, the world shall pay a far greater toll, for I have returned.
I am Kel'Thuzad...
Your curiosity will be the death of you.
Conversation with Helcular
Kel'Thuzad appears in human form along with Helcular in the Old Hillsbrad Foothills wing of the Caverns of Time. He patrols between the main road through Hillsbrad and Southshore. At some point he stops and converses with Helcular:
- Kel'Thuzad says: Keep your voice down, Helcular. Strangers abound...
- Helcular nods.
- Helcular says: So you can teach me this...this...
- Kel'Thuzad says: Necromancy. It is called necromancy. And yes, I have it within my power to bless you with this gift.
- Helcular says: And the Kirin Tor? What have they to say of necromancy?
- Kel'Thuzad says: That is none of your concern, Helcular, as you are neither Kirin Tor nor a necromancer.
- Kel'Thuzad says: But to be perfectly frank, I do not give a damn what the Kirin Tor think! They are fools, set in their archaic ways.
- Helcular says: Then teach me, Kel'Thuzad. Teach me everything you know...
- Kel'Thuzad nods.
- Kel'Thuzad says: In due time, Helcular... All in due time...
- If the pair encounter the captured critter that has been killed by the children Sally Whitemane and Renault Mograine then Kel'Thuzad continues
- Kel'Thuzad says: Come, Helcular, let me give you a small taste...
- Kel'Thuzad utters some unintelligible words.
- The critter is brought back to life
- Kel'Thuzad says: Now do you see, Helcular? Do you doubt the power? I control life!
- Kel'Thuzad says: And death...
- The critter dies again
- Kel'Thuzad says: I'm still working out some minor details...
He is still seen wearing the robes of the Kirin Tor, but due to the nature of the conversation, it is presumed that he has already joined the Lich King, or was in the process of doing so.
- Main article: Quotes of Warcraft III/Undead Scourge#Kel'Thuzad
- Kel'Thuzad was a wizard in the Warcraft RPG and a necromancer in the World of Warcraft RPG.
- Despite having a new (currently unknown) voice actor in Wrath of the Lich King, Kel'Thuzad still uses his original laugh. This can be sometimes heard when he kills a player during his encounter. Those wishing to avoid a repair bill can fly to his location at the Plains of Nasam in southwest Borean Tundra, where Kel'Thuzad will laugh every 30 seconds or so.
- Kel'Thuzad's Gold Coin is an in-game item. The description says, "Sometimes... I wish someone would come along and just give me a big, long hug."
- The Alliance warlock Tier 9 set is named after Kel'Thuzad. Though is he not normally classified as a warlock, Kel'Thuzad did learn a great deal about demons by studying the Book of Medivh (which allowed him to summon Archimonde).
- He has a pet based on him, Lil' K.T.. Kel'Thuzad himself will mail the player the pet and congratulate them on joining his fanclub.
- The Lich King drops Bloodsurge, Kel'Thuzad's Blade of Agony. The Blade, however, is never seen in World of Warcraft or any previous games.
- "Your curiosity will be the death of you" is an exact Zhar the mad (Diablo I) quote.
- Fan art
- ^ Manual of Monsters, pg. 182
- ^ Monster Guide, pg. 162
- ^ Lands of Conflict, pg. 91,109
- ^ Tides of Darkness, pg. 105-106
- ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos manual, pg. 97-98
- ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos manual, pg. 98
- ^ Lil' K.T. mail sent to player
- ^ TCG Scourgewar, pg. 21
- ^ World of Warcraft RPG Conversion Document, pg. 3
| Preceded by:|
Headmaster of the Scholomance
| Succeeded by:|
Araj the Summoner
| Preceded by:|
Ruler of Stratholme
| Succeeded by:|