“A Necromancer! I hoped I’d never have to lay my eyes on one of your kind again” – Gheed.
Yes, the Necromancer is a powerful spellcaster who is capable of bringing the dead back to life. With a penchant for the macabre, these dark magicians are able to manipulate bone, flesh and even go so far as to cause disease and further. Typically though, we’re going for those who bring the dead back to life. As such, we’re not focusing on disease or any of those aspects of this dark art.
So buckle up and get ready, for it’s time that we count down our Top 10 Necromancers.
10) Ash Williams – The Evil Dead
Most of the necromancers on our list are responsible for world-ending hordes of undead through means of terrible incantations that they dredged up from ancient manuscripts. Only one did it accidentally. Hail to the king baby!
The dreaded book of the dead, the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis has the power to conjure demonic forces that use the dead like puppets to wreak havoc. So potent is this book that if a tape recorder played by the unwitting Ash is played too close then it may cast the spells therein, and the same if you’re fool enough to misread the words while drunk in the back of a trailer. Ash may not be your typical necromancer, or even an intentional one, but having been possessed and released by demons repeatedly, hurled through time, and invoked the Book of the Dead to raise deadites on multiple occasions, he’s certainly earned the chops to make the list.
9) Sauron – Lord of the Rings
In the official lore, Sauron is known as Sauron the Necromancer. As such, we are to believe that whilst he was alive, he was a powerful summoner of the undead. One thing we as a collective of Top 10 writers thought, was that he didn’t spring to mind when we thought about necromancy, but the more we read into it, the more we realised that the fantasy genre may have been altered due to the perception of what a Necromancer is, partly due to Tolkien’s work.
Sauron may not strike you as a master of the dead, but the Dark Lord was known as the Necromancer for Dol Guldur during the third age. With his seemingly endless power and the exceptional back story, he may be one of the more powerful Necromancers on this list, but he’s certainly known for a lot more than just summoning the undead to do his bidding.
What are the first things you think about when you hear the name Bowser? Mario; King Koopa; Bridges over lava with a convenient axe by the rope of the bridge, you know, the usual things. But does the class of Necromancy typically apply to Bowser? Well, hold on tight folks, as he certainly is a Necromancer – a relatively powerful one at that. Who’d have thought that giant monster turtle could be such a dark, evil creature?
Typically speaking, Bowser is the one who raised Dry Bones. He’s also in charge of the other undead minions of the franchise, with Boo’s being the only exception (Although they typically side with Bowser, as they love causing trouble). It’s hard to imagine Bowser chanting dark words and generally getting his hands dirty, so I bet he just roars and they come back to life.
7) Nekron – DC
The Black Lantern, the Lord of the Unliving, bringer of the Blackest Night. Sounds necromantic to me. Nekron is in fact the Grim Reaper himself, an entity that has never lived and is therefore un-killable, but pitched against DCs roster of all-powerful heroes, you need to have an immovable object to face down their unstoppable force, and what’s more inevitable than Death itself?
With the power of the Black Lantern, Nekron turns the cast of DC against one another, living vs dead. In so doing he manages to unite the other lantern corps – even the unpleasant ones – against the common, ultimate nemesis. Yet another instance of DC characters defeating death itself.
6) Night King – Game of Thrones
So winter finally got here. And with it came an unliving king whose very presence is powerful enough that the dead rise en-masse within moments of their demise. The blue-eyed wights, the dead men walking from beyond the wall to destroy the world of the living, and after seeing them from the first ten minutes of episode one of series one, we’ve been waiting long enough!
The White Walkers ride dead horses, lead armies of corpses, and now (spoilers) their leader, Night King, has the corpse of a dragon to ride, that spits gouts of blue flame. Theories abound about the source of the Night King, from the official story of the sacrifice of the First Men, to fan-ideas about Bran’s time hopping causing a circular story. Even his fate cannot be certain, because a happy ending with Game of Thrones is never guaranteed.
5) Kel-Thuzad vs The Lich King – World of Warcraft
Kel’Thuzad is well known for being the ultimate Necromancer in Warcraft, as well as being a powerful lich. He’s able to summon the undead scourge and in fact, in the original World of Warcraft, pre-The Burning Crusade, he is the final boss. Originally a senior member of the Kirin Tor, he studied the forbidden magic of necromancy, much to the chagrin of his peers. Eventually, he led the Cult of the Damned… but there’s one more Warcraft Necromancer we really must talk about.
The spirit of the vile orc shaman, Ner’zhul lives on as the Lich King – The leader of the undead scourge. When Ner’zhul was raised as the Lich King, the intention was to create an undead army for the Burning Legion. Whilst the Lich King has taken plenty of forms, he’s most notably been in control of the powerful paladin, Arthas Menethil. But, why would we even put the Lich King in with Kel’Thuzad? Simply put, even though we all know the Lich King is indeed a Necromancer… he also commanded Arthas to raise Kel’Thuzad as the lich we all know.
4) Liliana Vess – Magic the Gathering
Hey, opponent of Liliana, do you like to see things come out of graveyards? Namely the creatures you put in there? You don’t?! That’s a real shame, as this is Liliana’s whole mission statement. You kill something, or she’ll kill it, then she’ll summon it from the grave, often turning it into a zombie in the process too. Put a whole bunch of 1/1’s in there? Watch them reappear as 2/2 zombies. This is why you can’t have nice things around Liliana Vess.
As many of her cards suggest, she’s a bit of a sweet talker. She’s been known for trying to corrupt Chandra Nalor, the fiery planeswalker. She’s been known to not really care about her allies much, just so long as she’s able to summon powerful undead minions to her side. Anyone running a Liliana will often be running a zombie deck, so keep your graveyard clean and whittle down those health points!
3) Faust VIII – Shaman King
This early 00’s anime followed Yoh Asakura and friends, as they strive to defeat other shamans in a tournament to decide on the Shaman King. As part of this, all shaman must have a powerful spirit at their side, allowing the shaman and spirit to effectively act as one. The spirits come in all shapes and sizes, although one of them stood out completely, even in the name of spirits and shamanism. That one spirit wasn’t really a spirit, but a reanimated skeleton – The lovely Eliza.
Faust VIII was a very deranged man, who needed to suffer a loss in order to see the error of his ways. But his skeleton companion could be turned into a literal gargantuan, his big attack is called Boneyard Crush – and everything he’s worked towards is bringing the dead to life. If I were you, go read the fight against Faust VIII in the manga – It gets rather grim quick.
2) Vecna – Dungeons & Dragons
Behold! The god of necromancers! And he can’t even get to the number 1 slot.
Vecna seized immortality through necromancy, obtaining lichdom by shattering his soul into more pieces than even Voldemort managed, which bought him enough time to shoot for apotheosis. It’s a position that puts him at odds with the demon prince of undeath, Orcus, but you can’t ascend without stepping on a few cloven hooves along the way.
Ghouls, vampires, and wraiths stand amongst his vassals. Those who want to achieve immortality, or seek to animate corpses to do their bidding, or to breach the boundaries of the afterlife to find wisdom, knowledge, or comfort from beyond have their choice of patrons to beseech, none of which are particularly pleasant. Still, none of the others invite you to gouge your own eye out to gain vast magical power.
1) The Necromancer – Diablo
Call to mind an image of a necromancer. Sallow skin, pale hair, shadowed eyes, garbed in armour and robes bedecked in assorted bones; perhaps their withered and bony hands are ensconced in spectral flame, or their eyes blaze with ethereal light. In effect you’d be painting the image of the necromancer from Diablo 2 and 3.
Blizzard fairly get two bites at the apple in this Top 10 because they really have the concept down to a tee, and perhaps they paint a caricatured basement-dwelling, grave-robbing, formaldehyde-sniffing puppeteer of the dead, but one look is enough to know who you’re looking at and what they’ve come to do. They come with a battery of skills that call up minions, steal life, and generally make your opponent’s life not worth living. More fool them, you have better use for their corpses than they do.
This was a grave matter, and Tim and Joel raised some interesting points throughout the discussion, and though we dismissed so much we are not completely cold to their plight. Take the time to appreciate our honourable mentions before we put them back to rest.
Richard – Looking For Group
Weird pick here, but hear me out. Richard, from Looking For Group, is an undead warlock. He’s also got a lot of abilities that don’t fit warlocks, such as frost bolts and fireballs… and other mage-like abilities. He’s got a lot of destructive tendencies, an appetite for the same. He’s a rather chaotic evil, representing mass death and chaos from within a mind that’s far too hard to predict.
Now, don’t worry, we’ve not gone completely mental. Richard rarely displays his necromancy skills, but he does actually command a village made up of entirely undead characters. In true Richard style, with his signature “For Pony!” war cry, the name of his village? “Pretty, Pretty Unicorn”. Now, it’s confirmed that he’s the “mayor” of the village, which means he commands the undead… But did he raise them? We may never know.
A necromancer of weird science, weird enough to basically be magic because no one should be able to use science to play Build-a-Bear with body parts, stuff it full of lightning, and watch it spring to hideous unlife. Victor Frankenstein sought to create life and defeat death, and in so doing he robbed graves, stitched together pieces from various sources, and utilised the power of a lightning storm as a super-powered defibrillator to animate his jigsaw puzzle.
He may not fit the fundamental law of necromancy – that is that they wield death magic – no doubt his behaviours would make him fit right in. We could never put him on the list, but how could we dismiss the most famous fictional character to raise the dead?
We’d like to give a special thanks to Timlah’s fiancee, Jake, for helping to decide this week’s list, as well as helping us come up for another entry in the below vote. So as ever, if you enjoyed this week’s list, why not be part of the decision making process and select your favorite list from the groups below. After all, next week will be our last Halloween themed Top 10 until next year.
Urghhh. No, I’m not a zombie, just tired of all of these resurrection mantras and death as far as the eye can see. But it’s as ever up to you to decide if we’ve done good, or if we’ve not conjured up the right Necromancers. Did you think our order was right? Do you feel like we forgot any major addition? As always, share your thoughts below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.