Welcome to the inaugural edition of World of Warcraft: What If?, where a couple of long-time World of Warcraft fiends (Pat and I) look back at key moments in Azerothian history and wonder what might have happened had things gone down a little differently. First up:

What if Vol’jin had killed Garrosh?

The setting: Orgrimmar Throne Room at the conclusion of the Siege of Orgrimmar raid. The Y’Shaarj infused Garrosh Hellscream has finally been defeated.

You are a disappointment, Garrosh. You are not worthy of your father’s legacy,” Thrall said. He lifted Doomhammer.

Thrall felt something pass his face, almost touch his cheek and he fell back, hands in the air as if he might fend it away. He was not the target, he realized.

Garrosh on all fours glared up at him. His right arm quivered, ink-dark filaments whorled about the great forearm veins — the last remnants of Y’Shaarj. Even in these final moments the Heart fed off the disdain. The hate. He had done so much for the Horde. Brought them from weakness to greatness; from cowardice to conquerors. And this was how they repaid him? No, he would not die like this; not at the hands of some relic whose time had long passed. When Thrall brought Doomhammer down it would be too late. The Heart of Y’Shaarj would make his hand a weapon and he would cut the self-righteous bastard’s throat where he stood.

A hissing sound. Thrall felt something pass his face, almost touch his cheek and he fell back, hands in the air as if he might fend it away. He was not the target, he realized. There was another hiss and Thrall saw from the corner of his eye an arrow enter Garrosh’s face and then reemerge in a great vomit of gore from the other side of his head, just above the one already lodged in his throat.

Thrall turned. A pair of bone-white tusks split the shadows on the far eastern wall, the painted face not far behind them. Vol’jin’s sinewy form slank into the torchlight silent, long legs spider-like, spindling like a dancer’s. His red mohawk like some legionaries’ crest. “Too dangerous to be lettin’ him live,” he said. “All you been knowin’ that. I’m the only one had the ‘eart to do it without ‘esitation.


Sylvanas’ eyes red as jewels. Smirking. As if she knew things would unfold like this all along. Thrall reached down, touched what was left of the fallen orc’s forehead. “Forgive us, brother. What other choice did you leave us?

This is how your Horde treats its own? Slaughtering them where they sit without a moment of counsel? Crazed animals. Unfit for assembly,” Varian said. He spat.

And… I’ll just stop myself there. Vol’jin wouldn’t have become Warchief if he did this, would he have? If he had executed Garrosh right then and there, Vol’jin likely would have been arrested on the spot?

Pat: Well, I don’t think Sylvanas would have been smirking. She can’t stand Garrosh, and is so vindictive she most likely would have wanted to be the one to end him herself (payback for calling her a bitch). Garrosh had a lot of enemies in the Horde, but possibly none greater than Sylvanas Windrunner. I mean, Garrosh even had the stones to say what SHE was doing was “against the laws of nature. Disgusting is the only word I would have to describe it.”

Sylvanas is hot-headed enough that Vol’jin getting the killing blow on Garrosh would have caused massive infighting amongst the Horde

Just for the record, this is coming from a guy who murdered Cairne Bloodhoof in cold blood, all but destroyed the most peaceful, welcoming landmass on Azeroth by exhuming the still beating heart of an Old God and wreaking the havoc of the Sha across all of Pandaria, and coerced a bronze dragon to alter timespace itself in an effort to create a pure, perfect Iron Horde. And Sylvanas wanting to perpetuate her race is disgusting?!

So yeah, Sylvanas is hot-headed enough that I’m relatively confident that Vol’jin getting the killing blow on Garrosh would have caused massive infighting amongst the Horde. And who knows, maybe the resulting ruckus would have been the perfect moment for Varian to take Jaina’s advice and put an end to what was left of the Horde once and for all.

I think a lot of respect for Vol’jin would be lost, as well. Varian didn’t even want Thrall to kill Garrosh on the spot like that, despite Thrall being probably the most level-headed guy in the room, with reason to feel especially betrayed by Garrosh’s actions. Alliance forces and Pandaren alike clamored for a fair trial, so any goodwill Vol’jin may have fostered during the Darkspear Revolution would likely be gone if he were to make a rash decision like that. And, again, would have probably resulted in more Alliance/Horde bickering and possibly even more violence and bloodshed right there in that throne room.


And let’s face it: The only reason the Horde is even still around today is because Varian had a strange, uncharacteristic change of heart upon seeing the Shadow Hunter taking the mantle of Warchief. Even Jaina wanted to just end it then and there! But amazingly, Varian’s cool head and rationality may just have saved the Horde. Never thought I’d say that sentence.

Really though, the decision to have a trial was the right one, especially in honor of the sacred land of Pandaria. If Garrosh were to die in that room—by anyone’s hand—it just may have resulted in the ultimate demise of the Horde altogether.

Would the execution of Garrosh Hellscream have led to the demise of the Horde right there in the Orgrimmar Throne Room following the events of the Siege of Orgrimmar? Sound off in the comments.

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  • Edgar Pinkerton

    While this is a really fun article, I completely disagree with it.

    Not only was the execution justified, but only moments before this “alternate reality” begins, the greatest Horde hero of all was about to do it himself. Thrall was, as he has done in the past I might add, and just like General Washington was during the Revolution, prepared to carry out capital punishment on those who committed treason. No Orc was more worthy of this sentence than Garrosh Hellscream.

    Each racial leader would have happily made Vol’Jin warchief, and any of those displeased with the turn of events, as you suggest Sylvanas might have been, would be too intrigued and intimidated by this “seemingly out of character” action to do anything but give their blessing while the other leaders looked on and tapped their feet.

    And as far as Varian Wrynn “saves” the Horde by not listening to the psychotic and bigoted advice of Jaina Proudmoore, do you really consider NOT killing someone to be saving their life? Cause if so, I saved like, 10 people’s lives today. Just kidding.

    The only thing “uncharacteristic” about Wrynn WAS his rationality, unlike Jaina whose willingness to embrace prejudice and ability to blame entire groups of people on the actions of only a few was shocking. Garrosh was the villain, Garrosh was to blame, Garrosh was defeated; and yet, Jaina Proudmoore was happy to lump the entire Horde at large in with his atrocities.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXKMHMQNo8I#t=01m41s “Ugh,” she spits with disgust on her lips, “look at them. Already they plot against us. Sieze this moment. Dismantle the Horde.” In a moment of complete projection and reversal, Lady Jaina is doing exactly what she believes the Horde to be doing, and using that hypocrisy to justify genocide! All while the Horde is simply electing a new warchief!

    The Lich King himself was the prince of the Alliance’s capital city; do you see The Horde blaming the Alliance for enabling him and demanding justice from them for all of his atrocities? Everyone remembers that quote at the end of Wrath when Varok Saurfang whispered to Thrall, “We can’t trust them; dismantle The Alliance.” No. The Horde can separate the man from the group. The Horde sees individuals – not just what shade of green their skin happens to be.

    And in spite of Wrynn’s “change of heart” in not wanting to plunge the realm into another immediate war, his first act of diplomacy with a Garrosh-less Horde was an ultimatum death-threat! “Cool heads” prevail, indeed! As king, he’s at least intelligent enough to understand that the entire realm is weaker without a strong Horde, and in spite of the cycle of hate and everything that’s transpired since the events of Wrath, both factions come together when necessary to save the realm. Maybe in “saving the Horde by not killing them,” and incidentally saving everyone, he was actually just saving himself.

    • Josh H.Dratyx

      This, a thousand times over. No offense to the writers but I just feel that the what if wouldn’t play out like that. Sure, Old Vol might get some flak and whatnot but the whole Horde wouldn’t just collapse. A bit alliance smeared and whatnot 😉

    • Patrick Ross

      Thank you for the feedback! I admit what I wrote is sort of a worst-case scenario, but those are always the most fun ones to think about, aren’t they?

      A quick answer about the Horde not blaming the Alliance for the Lich King–once Arthas picked up Frostmourne, he basically ceased to be as his soul was claimed by the sword. Also, Garrosh was Warchief, leader of the Horde, committing these atrocities. The Lich King had no ties to the Alliance whatsoever after Arthas’ soul had been claimed. So Jaina attributing Garrosh’s actions to the Horde at large is at least from some viewpoints accurate, as he was in a position to represent the entire Horde. And it isn’t like Jaina’s anger is completely misplaced–members of the Horde (players) went along with Garrosh’s plan to destroy her home of Theramore. That wasn’t Garrosh acting alone, that was him giving the orders to the Horde and the Horde following through. Has she no right to be angry about that?

      You’re right though, my scenario may not be the most likely, as the Horde leaders were just happy Garrosh’s reign of terror was over, and Vol’jin had such an instrumental role in his downfall.

      Again, appreciate the feedback!

      • ConcernedDaughter

        Arthas didn’t cease to be once he claimed Frostmourne. He often had fights with ‘himself’ and it’s been stated that because of that he kept the scourge from just annihilating everyone and everything. Also, don’t forget that many years down the line(when we are finally storming ICC) he cut out his own heart because of the internal conflicts.

  • Nicholas Chandler

    While I do not agree with Garrosh’s choices once he hit Pandaria, Garrosh wasn’t a total villain. As Drek’thar would say, he was thrust into the Gronn’s jaw. Thrall made him Warchief when there were other leaders willing to take the mantle. He even said himself there were better out there, but Thrall thought Garrosh was best. If you read War Crimes, you’ll see the trial wasn’t just meant for Garrosh but for everyone. The “murdering Cairne Bloodhoof in cold blood.” bit is incorrect. Cairne challenged Garrosh for the mantle of warchief through the rite of Mak’gora which a duel to the death. Unbeknownst to either party, Magda Grimtotem had poisoned Garrosh’s weapon which barely sliced into the chieftain. Garrosh was furious, joining the tauren in expelling the Grimtotem from Thunderbluff.

    In short, Garrosh was pushed into a position in which he did not believe he was fit for. He punished those who dared skirmish without honor. After the Horde was losing ground and accusations built on him from both sides, he gave in the accusations and doubts of others which lead him to be the monster he was. True, he could’ve held faith in traditional means however the other leaders of the Horde would see him as weak and unfit still because he’s not green jesus and lump him in with his father Grommash Hellscream. Kind of like when someone’s girlfriend says, “Why can’t you be more like that guy?” the dude finally gives in and goes completely in a destructive pattern, which is Garrosh’s character. All he knew was war, not politics. He knew which edge of the axe went where and that was what he was good at. He felt best when commanding troops into battle, not dealing with politicians in a war room. Once he finally lost it, everyone saw it as he was the villain, not that they were the ones that molded him the way. Garrosh didn’t have the strength to be a true warchief of the Horde.

    Pertaining to this article, If Vol’Jin had done this Thrall would’ve called him out. The Horde would’ve been divided and in civil war within a few months if not days. If Varian Wrynn would’ve slain all members of the Horde, the same thing would’ve happened to them. Factions in the Alliance would separate and leave Azeroth in turmoil. That is what the Old Gods want. They wanted chaos to ensue and claim Azeroth for their own. Also Varian Wrynn is only half himself. He was divided into two persons by Onyxia, one good who died, the other was all the hate and evil, which is why he was at odds with his son. Gradually Anduin brought his old self back and displayed that by not committing genocide.

    • Joshua Berry

      Very well said. I agree that Garrosh was completely out of his element. Pushed into scenarios he was not to happy about, except when it came to war. The dude grew up in the shadow of his deceased father, so already tons of high hopes from many people that he’ll do great things. Not much else to say that you didn’t cover already so I’m just going to leave one of my favorite quotes from Batman that I feel fits well to his situation.

      “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Harvey Dent/Two Face in The Dark Knight

      • Jeff

        I kinda feel an alliance preference here, there is also a consideration that you have the most powerfull what the horde has to offer right in that room o’ there. I think that there wont be alot left there.