This article should start by quoting Tolkien

"I wanted to create a collection more or less interrelated legends. These would include the most epic, cosmogonic tales [...]and the most romantic tales. Some of the great tales would I write in their entirety, while others I would barely sketch with only a plan. These cycles should be combined to create a magnificent whole. This would leave room for other minds and hands who can interpret music, painting, and drama. It was absurd."

Humphrey Carpenter - "J.R.R. Tolkien Biography"

I believe Tolkien would be thrilled that other "minds" and hands are still using his work if he were alive today.
Blizzard is one of the developers who is definitely inspired by his legacy. The Warcraft universe draws a lot of inspiration from Middle-earth.

I chose to list the most important, and here they are:

1. 1.

The Lord of the Rings is a story about Nazgul people who were once noble, law-abiding citizens and came from good families. Their greatest desire as men was LORDship. They accepted the rings, which eventually deceived them and defiled their hearts. They went from flawless kings to ghastly horsesmen. Later, this archetype of the fallen hero was exemplified by many books, games, and movies.


In Warcraft III: Reing of Chaos there is a character that initially adhered to noble values but then turned to the dark side after acquiring an artifact. Arthas was the Prince of Lordaeron, and a member of the Order of the Silver Hand. This is an organization that consists of paladins who are followers of the Light. After taking the Blade of the Sea upon Northrend, he lost all his soul and decided that he would serve King Lish, whom he eventually merged into The Frozen Throne.

Arthas - Art depicting his face

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King also features a playable class DEATHKNIGHT (Death Knight). This group of reanimated knights and paladins have been subjugated by the Lich King. They eventually regain their will and decide to support the Horde and Alliance in the fight against Lich. They don't abandon necromancy, or any other magic art we could call black.

2. 2.

Middle-earth was the first universe to have a race of "living tree" beings. They were to protect the trees from any creatures that would harm them (everything that is grown from the ground and has roots). Dwarves and Humans, for example, who needed wood as a source of energy. They were friends with the Elves who shared a special love of nature.

Kard from the Lord of the Rings

This race or several varieties of them is encountered in the Warcraft games. The Ancient Half-Divine Trees are the most important, as they were the first living beings to inhabit Azeroth. They protect the forests and live in them, just like Tolkien's world. In this case, they work closely with the Night Elves. It should be noted, however, that their bond in Warcraft is stronger.


The Lord of the Rings was the first to use the term Orc. Tolkien called these creatures Goblins in The Hobbit, and later works on the trilogy, while the stronger and larger individuals were called Hobgoblins. Latin for Orc, the word demon or underworld dweller. Tolkien's Orcs were part Sauron's army, and in later fantasy worlds Orcs tended to be antagonists.

The orcs currently on Azeroth bear no resemblance with those from Middle-earth. They do ride enormous wolves and are often portrayed as silly. There are still a few clans, e.g. Blackrock is one of the most evil clans. They were generally closer to Lord of the Rings in Warcraft Orcs & Humans. They have gone through a lot of changes since then. Today, we see them as honorable, well-seasoned in warcraft, but still respectful of other races. The Burning Legion's manipulations were responsible for their "bloodlust" momentarily.


There are many amazing creatures in the bestiary of Middle-earth, including the Great Spiders. The Dark Forest is home to intelligent but not very smart creatures. Shelobah, the man who captured Frodo in The Return of the King belonged to this race. However, Sam with the Sting eventually killed him. Tolkien knew how many people have arachnophobia so he decided that a meeting between the heroes with a giant spider would be a thrilling experience.

Large spiders are also common in the Warcraft universe. The Nerubian race is the most important of all the large arachnids we can find on Azeroth. This race established an underground empire that spanned almost half of Northrend's frigid continent. They were defeated by the Lichking in the so-called Spider War. Most of the representatives of this race were killed and resurrected to join his army.

5. 5.

The archetype of a Dwarf, i.e. The one with a bushy hair, who mines, smiths, and is very tough. His favorite weapon is an axe. This was also developed by Tolkien.

Dwarves during filming of The Hobbit

The Warcraft universe's dwarves resemble the Middle-earth dwarves. Despite not having any reason to dislike the Elves, and they aren't as greedy or arrogant as the ones from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit respectively, the similarities are still significant. Ironforge, the dwarven capital, is completely carved in rock. It was inspired by the dwarven cities of Middle-earth such as Erebor or Moria.

Interesting fact: Marie Skibniewska invented the Polish translation of Dwarf To Dwarf. She was the translator of the first edition of The Hobbit's 60-year-old edition. Although "dwarf" was already a term in Poland, Marie Skibniewska felt it wasn't appropriate for Tolkien's creations. This is how the Dwarf was born. Jerzy Lozinski used the term Krzat in his translation of The Lord of the Rings in the 90s. Lozinski's translation of The Lord of the Rings received a lot of criticism. We prefer Skibniewska's translation to this day.

6. 6.

Tolkien did not invent the Elf, as they were already present in pagan beliefs (e.g. Germanic, art and folklore. However, earlier depictions of Elves were very different. They resembled mischievous goblins who loved to play tricks on people.

Tolkien created the archetype for the Elf we know today. It has characteristics like:

  • Longevity and immortality
  • Tall stature
  • Beautiful appearance
  • beautiful voice,
  • Pointed ears
  • Connection with nature
  • Magical talents
  • High archery skills.

They were however not perfect creatures. They knew deep down their superiority over other races. This led them to be conceited, sometimes expressing pride or jealousy. They were also divided into three tribes: Telerich, Noldor, and Vanyar.

Elves are an important part of the Warcraft universe today. They are similar to Tolkien's Elves, but their division is more distinct. They are different in skin color, height, and culture. The Night Elves forbid magic, but the Blood Elves have a strong addiction to it. They suffer from a "superiority complex", just like their Middle-earth counterparts, and some members of the species can betray their race.

Tolkien is the pioneer of modern fantasy. His works have influenced subsequent generations of fantasy writers. It is not possible to say that many of today's authors "copy" Tolkien's works. It is important to see it as Tolkien's legacy has paved the way for others. He is a fantasy legend in his own right. It established standards that are still being used today, whether they are conscious or not.