Character Development – Is Jaina Doomed?

One of the things I like about World of Warcraft is the rich story and the wide variety of characters that I’ve come to care about.

These are characters that I’ve talked to, done favors for, fought beside and generally been a huge pain in the butt to over the years.

Any RPG is going to be like that, but there is something about the World of Warcraft story that has me actually wondering what those characters are doing during the parts of the game where the focus is on something else.

“What has Sylvanas been doing while we’ve been fighting Sha in Pandaria? What plots are bubbling just beneath the visible surface?”

“How has Kalecgos reacted to the changes in Jaina, and her actions in Dalaran? Is everything still all right with a girl and her dragon?”

“Why was Tyrande Whisperwind suddenly bloodthirsty and impulsive in the scenario ‘A Little Patience’? Was it simply poor writing for a priestess that has successfully led her people for thousands of years, and suddenly displays less wisdom then Varian? Or is there something unseen going on that may turn up later? What if she has lost part of her deep connection with Elune, and is feeling horrible pressure without that reassuring presence?” – just complete tinfoil hat speculation, by the way.

I like these characters, and I want to know more about them, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what the future holds in store for them. And of course, I want to know when I get to see them again and go on missions for them. Or attack them in their capital cities. 🙂

Of all the characters in World of Warcraft, it is the future of Jaina Proudmoore that is worrying me the most.

I’m just going to say it.

I don’t want a WoW version of Dark Willow.

If that’s what happens, if that is the direction the story is heading, well, that’s just the way it is. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

Jaina has been one of the strongest people we have worked alongside in Azeroth. And her greatest strength has been her displayed adherence to principles, touched with compassion.

I have seen her sometimes portrayed as the peacemaker, but it always seemed to me that she was less concerned about peace for the sake of peace, and was more focused on wanting to see to the truth of things, no matter who was speaking, no matter what form it took. She did not trust based on appearance, she did not lend the words of someone more weight simply because their tabard was blue rather than red.

She judged intent by actions, not words. She acted on her judgment with conviction of purpose, even when her judgment was that the Orc invaders of Azeroth were acting with honor and her own father was acting from hatred and prejudice.

Jaina wasn’t soft, and has never acted soft, she has instead always been driven to see a thing clearly as what it is, and to act on that vision. To try and convince others to see things as she did. And when they wouldn’t, when she saw them determined to act as fools, she tried to do what she could could to minimize the inevitable damage they were going to cause.


Oh yeah, and she’s the most powerful wielder of magic in the world.

Total badass.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the Dark Willow storyline as it played out in Buffy. As much as my heart ached for what happened to her and Tara, as pissed off as I was that Whedon felt the need to ruin the one perfect relationship in his show, even then I knew we were watching something that was going to become legendary.

Time softens the wounds, but leaves behind the memory of a truly epic transformation.

What I have a problem with, is that it feels Jaina is being groomed for that kind of descent.

You’d think we were past that. Tides of War saw Jaina faced with the tragedy and grief, and suffused with rage akin to Willow when her beloved Theramore and all the family she cherished, the people she took responsibility for were destroyed. Jaina had her moment where rage and grief overwhelmed compassion, and she had her dark transformation. She went all billy badass and wanted to wash Ogrimmar out to sea, let Garrosh have fun swimming with the fishies.

Frankly, I was rooting for Jaina. Except I would have liked to have seen her use one of those thingies Mages can do, wtf are they called, oh yeah, PORTALS, and open one of those bad bears inside Garrosh’s throne room. From inside a volcano. Lava bath for Mr Garrosh, will you accept the charges?

But yeah, we saw that side, but she didn’t go through with it. She had enough strength of character, of sheer will to still listen through her rage and hate when Thrall and Kalecgos tried to reach her.

I would have liked to see more Jaina beating Thralls ass, while I’m on the subject. You know, I blame Thrall for the entire Garrosh saga.

I can see why he would have been motivated to do it. I never forget that Thrall was standing beside Grommash against Mannoroth when Grommash sacrificed his life to take the demon down. I played through the Thrall and Garrosh questline in Outlands. I always keep in mind that Thrall feels guilt over Grommash dying for the Horde and Orc people instead of Thrall.

Was it a shit decision to give the leadership of the Horde to the hotheaded Outlander son of Grommash, a boy that never really LIVED through the aftermath of the Second War? Hell yes. Garrosh just didn’t have that shared experience of being defeated by the Alliance, of experiencing the containment camps and the misery, the despair. the apathy. That was something that happened to some other Orcs, and just like most youth, he seemed to feel that it would have all been different if he had been there during the Second War, if HE had been the one in charge.

Stupid decision. Of course I blame Thrall. And I blame him a second time after playing through the Thrall and Aggra questline in Cataclysm, and seeing the firelands version of Thrall raging against Garrosh, his true feelings exposed, because he rightfully blamed Garrosh for the death of his friend, Cairne.

Thrall felt rage in his heart against Garrosh for killing Cairne. It was exposed, and at Aggra’s direction we helped him to calm down and regain control.

That doesn’t change the fact of his feelings… and yet, unless something Horde side in the story is vastly different, he never acted on those feelings. He never confronted Garrosh. He never called him to account for his part in the massive disrespect he showed to Cairne.

I have heard the Garrosh apologists when the duel with Cairne happened. I read the book, I understand.

My problem from the beginning was the disrespect Garrosh showed Cairne, and the complete lack of honor given to him, the disregard for his words of advice, his council.

It was Cairne, Thrall and Jaina who combined their magics to purge Grom Hellscream of the demon blood. Remember that? Cairne, Jaina and Thrall. They worked together, wove their magics together, and it was only because they did that Grom was freed.

And Garrosh is going to face this wise old tauren chieftain who redeemed his father and gave him the opportunity to die a hero instead of a blood-drenched betrayer of the entire Orcish people, and blow him off? Talk down to him?

Oh, and now that you’ve killed one person that helped save your father, let’s go drop a mana bomb on the other.

FUCK Garrosh. And Thrall let that shit go? Yeah, I blame the entire Garrosh problem on Thrall from the get go.

Got off track, sorry about that.

We’ve seen Jaina have her transformation, face her dark night of the soul, and sure Thrall and Kalecgos talked to her but it was her own compassionate spirit and determination to see to the truth of things that saw her return. Changed, yes. Less willing to listen to the counsel of fools, yes. And why not? Action, not words.

Since the fall of Theramore, it just feels like she’s not done changing. She came back changed, but those changes aren’t done. We’re not seeing just a Jaina with a new attitude, a new view of what she will permit to exist around her unchallenged.

It feels like every time we see a new chapter in the story of Jaina, we’re seeing her less interested in the truth. She isn’t looking as close before taking action. She is making decisions based on her own prejudice instead of a thorough understanding of the facts.

And I hate it.

She isn’t her father, I thought that was the whole point.

I am truly afraid she is being groomed to follow in her father’s footsteps, to come to the decision that in the end her father was right to believe the Horde would never change, and to seek their total destruction regardless of the actions of a few.

I don’t want to see such a strong, principled character, someone who to me represented strength of character and clarity of vision, slide down the slope to become another bigoted, hate-filled genocidal tool.

I don’t really see where else her story is going, though. I was in hope that we were seeing a hard-won wisdom in our words with her at Anduin’s behest while we were seeing the beach landings. Then the purge of Dalaran happened, and that was a thing.

Then we had the whole thing with Jaina and Blood Elf ponytail on the Isle of Thunder. I thought, just for a moment, that maybe Taran Zhu got through to them both, what with the hole in his gut and all that.

But we see the ending cinematic for the Siege of Ogrimmar, and what strikes a foul note? Jaina urging Varian to slaughter the Horde leaders right then and there, “end it” once and for all.

End it? What, all of them?

And once you’ve ‘ended’ the threat, what do you do?

Concentration camps? Or do you learn from past mistakes made by your father, when he ‘let’ the Orcs be kept alive in the camps instead of exterminating them and ‘ending’ the threat?

I don’t like where that little snippet in the cinematic leads us, because that isn’t a Jaina that is true to who she was, someone who is stronger than blind hatred or prejudice.


We’ll see what we see, but I guess my real question from everything we’ve seen so far is, has anyone seen any sign that Jaina is overcoming her hatred? Have I missed a short story or a piece of lore or questline recently where we see that she is changed, yes, but still possessed of her wisdom, strength of character and principles?

Oh yeah, and can I get in one last fuck Garrosh?

War Crimes trial my butt, I want the ghost of Cairne to come back like Uther and shove the bloodhoof runespear right up his ass. RIGHT up. And Magatha too, of course.

I guess, best case, I’m hoping the War Crimes novel by Christie Golden (which I am very eager for) will bring those visions of the past to life, and by living through them a second time give Jaina a chance to grieve, and find some small sense of closure.

Damn, 1900 words. I am very sorry for rambling on that much.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, everyone.

3 thoughts on “Character Development – Is Jaina Doomed?

  1. jaina is super doomed. they changed her hair color so it was more evil. WoW’s big weakness is clear and consistent characterization of its big heroes and they are really fond of the corruption arc for its big heroines.

    i know garrosh’s change from someone worried about following in dad’s footsteps to someone diving into teh evil can be explained as can certainly jaina’s, but in both cases there was signs of something more to them…that never make it to the game itself, just the novels.


  2. Generally, I agree across the board. Additionally, I would add that I’m bothered by the timing of Jaina’s shift. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but just as we’re seeing Varian’s bloodlust being tempered (by wisdom of Jaina, among others), Jaina goes the other way. To me, it felt forced – like Varian’s development made those in charge of the story say “Well, the Alliance need some anti-Horde warmonger, and if he isn’t it… hey, let’s push Jaina to that!” whether it makes sense or not.

    Meanwhile, Sylvanas… wow… She’s long struck me as the major lore figure most likely to go full-on “big bad.” But (I say this as someone who hasn’t played much Forsaken/Horde, admittedly) from a game design standpoint it seems like it would be almost impossible to take her in that direction because she’s so integral to a player race. They can’t very well make the Forsaken a third faction, but is the race even viable without her? Even putting aside questions of raising new Forsaken, are there any figures who could lead in her absence since losing some major lieutenants back in Wrath?


  3. I haven’t seen anything yet to indicate Jaina isn’t going this route, but I am hoping that the lead in to Warlords does give some hope. I am tired of seeing characters that have sworn not to be like their parents transform into their parents, or worse. Garrosh showed a glimpse of potential, but that was quickly squashed so could become the big bad. They are starting to hint that Sylvannas is starting to become more like Arthas, and I don’t want to go through expansions taking out all of our leaders.
    I do hope that Jaina does not completely lose herself. She is one of the few Alliance leaders I respected. I don’t expect her to forgive what happened, but she was always a beacon of hope. I’m still concerned about the Purge of Dalaran. Why did she let Vereesa slaughter belfs without trial? If she wanted the belfs to leave, why cut off all escape routes? And are the remaining Sunreavers still in the Violet Hold? Too many unanswered questions, and right after she talks about trying to be neutral despite the difficulties.


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