Tyrael’s Humanity and Angelic Motivations: Diablo III Reaper of Souls Lore

Big thread with multiple replies from a Blue talking lore and story stuff for Reaper of Souls. How did Tyrael turn from an angel into a human anyway? And is he a real human? Etc….

If Tyrael is not human, then why does he look like a human?
Nevalistis: When Tyrael became mortal, his body began to form in his fall. He had a measure of control over this process, and as his goals were to ultimately benefit humanity, taking the form of a human was most ideal. After all, he would need to walk among humans and nephalem and fit in. It made sense to blend in.

tyrael-zombieIt’s important to note, however, that Tyrael is not a shape-shifter. This is how he looks now.

It’s 100% fine that he doesn’t identify with heaven, but I don’t understand what good he thinks he could do for sanctuary as a mortal. He very well could just be an angel/immortal who doesn’t follow the other angels
Nevalistis: The issue with this is that the Angiris Council (and indeed, all angels) adhere to their laws so vehemently that there was no room for Tyrael to act outside of them without cutting his ties. The Book of Tyrael touches on this a bit, particularly on how while they have great power in this devotion, it also consistently limits their ability to act.

Also remember that there was once a truce struck between the High Heavens and Hells that neither side would interfere with the matters of mortals. While the Prime Evils have had no qualms about breaking this agreement (as you might expect), the Angiris Council has continued to uphold their end. Heaven’s complete and utter devotion to order is both a strength and a flaw. Tyrael realized this, and decided it was best he would no longer be governed by this nature.

There’s much more to this thread with arguments over whether Tyrael should be tougher or wimpier, whether Tyrael’s motivations are pure, and even a Star Wars analogy. I feel geekier just mentioning it!

They have been battling the TOUGHEST demons for thousands (or more, I don’t keep up with the time) of years. He has several millenia of knowledge and is, if nothing else, a formidable foe. Him stripping himself of immortality drastically reduces the overall power of heaven and sanctuary in defense of hell.
Nevalistis: Tyrael’s strength was, indeed, formidable. But as has been proven in the past, even at his most powerful, he could not take on Diablo himself. There are plenty of powerful beings in Sanctuary (the nephalem heroes being some of them), and the power Tyrael had wasn’t serving his purpose. By losing it, he instead gained the ability to help the nephalem directly as an adviser and guide – something he simply couldn’t have done by staying in the heavens as an angel.

Think of it a bit like the relationship between Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker. On the surface, Obi-Wan’s death might have seemed meaningless. However, it allowed him to guide Luke in a way he wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. There’s a parallel there (even if it’s not exactly the same).

I’m calling shenanigans. Tyrael acted outside the truce before taking on mortal form, which was actually why he and Imperius had it out in the second cinematic of Diablo III.
Nevalistis: Tyrael’s disobedience is certainly why he and Imperius butted heads. And if Tyrael continued that path up in the High Heavens, it’s unlikely that Imperius would have continued to allow Tyrael to continue his shenanigans.

Tyrael avoided one conflict so he could fully focus on another. The rest of the Angiris Council wasn’t willing to intervene, but Tyrael was and is. Not only does he not need to be an angel to do so, but staying an angel would have continued to inhibit his goals. It was certainly a risk, but one he felt was worth taking.

Only Nephalem have the power of choice and Angels/Demons are guided by Fate/their aspect/good or evil etc?
Nevalistis: This gets into a very philosophical discussion that leaps outside the realm of Diablo lore, really. Angels and demons both have the ability to make choice, and we’ve seen plenty of examples in the past of those that have (most notably Inarius and Lilith). Tyrael’s observation is on the sheer amount of devotion his brethren have and how much it blinds them to what may seem, at least to him, the obvious “right” thing to do.

We can actually draw a reasonable comparison here to Kormac. He was following blind faith that had been drilled into him by a corrupt order, and he knew nothing else. To really grow as an individual and pursue his own goals, he had to break away from that order. Staying a Templar and following the beliefs and tenets he was taught simply stopped fitting into his life. One could say the same happened to Tyrael, albeit on a much grander scale.

If you’re interested in the story and lore of Diablo 3, check out The Diablo 3 Podcast #119, which briefly covers all the story and lore (and DiabloWikiMetcons) from Diablo I up to Reaper of Souls. We formated it to contain good info and speculation for fans of all levels of lore/story knowledge and interest while, 1) remaining accessible and informative to players who don’t know much/anything about the game world lore, and 2) contain no spoilers about Reaper of Souls plot twists. (Which can be seen via datamining of NPC dialogues, etc.)


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  1. This whole part of D3 has never felt right to me. The other day I re-watched all the D2 cinematics and indulged in some nostalgia for how cool Tyrael once was. It’s night and day. There’s nothing cool or interesting about him in D3. Plus, this thing where his falling caused the undead to rise still makes no sense. It would’ve been easy to say that the forces of Hell are gaining strength again and that’s why the dead are rising, but instead it’s this bizarre explanation about the fall of Justice or whatever.

    On top of that, what was gained by his direct help and guidance? He doesn’t drive the plot or make any decisions; Adria actually does more of that, Azmodan tells you where to go for A3, or you’re chasing Magdha, etc. Tyrael actually doesn’t do anything important in D3 other than provide Cain-like infodumps, join you in inconsequential battles a couple times, and open a couple of doors with his sword. Kulle does more for you by at least leading you to the black soulstone and activating it for you.

    I guess I’m saying Chris Metzen or somebody didn’t think this through very well and it shows every time blues post about it. They thought, everybody loves Tyrael we should have more of him, and wouldn’t it be cool if he was a fallen angel this time around? Well it didn’t quite turn out that way…

    • Tyrael barely did shit in D2, as well. We had to save his sorry butt from the tomb of Tal Rasha, and then he charges cash money to resurrect our goons in Pandemonium. He shows up and blows up the Worldstone, and that’s about it. All of his bad-assery happens out of game, when he sets up the Horadrim. I’m w/ Zoltun Kulle; screw demons and angels, humans should run the show.

      • Less can be more, you know. Tyrael was somehow way cooler in D2, maybe because everything wasn’t over-explained and shoved down your throat like in D3. D3 ruined him and everything else in the “story”…

        • Exactly. It is funny that he charged you money to resurrect your hirelings when gold meant nothing to him. But less was definitely more with Tyrael. He worked better as a mysterious player in the background, not so much now that he’s just another swinging D you have to chat with every 5 minutes.

    • That’s because whoever wrote the story isn’t particularly good. Like comparing Kevin J Anderson (wrote the “prequel” books to Dune) to Frank Herbert. One of them writes stories with the intellectual content & complexity of a potato.

  2. “If Tyrael is not human, then why does he look like a human?”

    Because the story dept is bad at their job of making the story better instead of worse.

  3. I’m sorry, I’m not racist and shouldn’t say it but if Tyrael came had some control over his transformation process, why’s he black, too long in the Meteroar? Don’t get me wrong, I love Tyrael, but when I found he was Tyrael for the first time, I was like WTF?

    • Well, he began to fall when he became mortal, didn’t he? Maybe he started to burn up on re-entry of the atmosphere, thus darkening his skin complexion.

    • White people can’t have a voice that smooth, come on man.

    • “I’m sorry, I’m not racist…”

      One of the easiest ways to identify racism….

      PS – Whiteness is not the default race of all humanity.

      • I know theres a lot of QQ on the web at times, so I started like that before I made my good/bad humoured question which has nothing to do with the way I treat others on the web or in RL ^v^. Lastly, we’re talking about a fantasy game character so I’m sorry if you’re getting upset over that.

        “PS – Whiteness is not the default race of all humanity.” Obviously, but do we really know where the first life or eveolution started? Africa? China? Several places at once?

    • Wait, what? What race is Tyrael is supposed to be then? I’m asian myself and when I realized who he was, I was “whoa, nice, Tyrael himself!” instead of “WTF, Tyrael is black.” Man. Better check that “I’m not racist” part.

  4. QUOTE

    "If Tyrael is not human, then why does he look like a human?"
    Because the story dept is bad at their job of making the story better instead of worse.

    Lots of non-humans look like humans. Just watch Doctor Who once or twice.

  5. When I first played D3 I thought they were going to go for some ham-handed Jesus allusion by having Tyrael sacrifice himself as a human for the greater good of mankind. Especially since he first sided with humans after watching Uldyssian sacrifice himself.

  6. Worst. Lore. Ever.

  7. “Oh, forgive me, Tyrael, please. It… wasn’t my fault.”
    “Not your fault? Tell me Chris, how was it ‘not your fault'”

  8. Thumbs up for the excellent illustration!

  9. not to sound like a noob, but didn’t Tyrael already defy the heavens once by aiding the Humans in capturing the Three and meddling in the affairs of Humans, without ripping of his wings and becoming human. What makes this ordeal so much different that it required Him to actually throw away his divinity to act. Why is it that at one side Blizzard is implying that Angels do not have free will, that they are bound by their laws, but on the other hand has Tyrael do all sorts of crazy stuff like actually ripping of his wings just to escape from bondage? Like someone already said, this D3 Tyrael is a weak, pathetic joke and makes no sense at all. D2 Tryael was Cool. also not being racist seriously….. but is Tyrael the only black Brother to come out from Diabloverse? Lut-Gholien had people of some what Arab Persian ethnicity, and Caldeum is full of Turkish hierarchy. 😀 XD

  10. What is supposed to make Tyrael’s recent activities so bad is that he destroyed the Worldstone, potentially upsetting the balance of the universe by allowing the humans to become Nephalem and exposing Sanctuary to a full-blown invasion from Hell. Why did he have to rip off his wings and armor over it? That seems a little forced.

    As for the brothers in the Diablo universe, the D1 Sorcerer and the D2 Paladin were both black, but I can’t think of another single black NPC beside D3 Tyrael. :p

  11. QUOTE

    As for the brothers in the Diablo universe, the D1 Sorcerer and the D2 Paladin were both black, but I can't think of another single black NPC beside D3 Tyrael. :p

    Paladin was Black????? 0_o…. I always thought he was some middle eastern, or was that just my monitor brightness at play 😀 :jig:

    I hope they do something in RoS to return Tyrael to his true form. Maybe they can shift the story that in order to withstand and defeat death, Tyrael has to become immortal again. :scratchchin:

  12. Yeah, the Paladin was black. That’s why everyone played them like “tele tele tele tele, STOP! Hammertime!” :rolf:

    My understanding is this:
    – Paladin was african
    – Sorceress was middle eastern
    – Amazon was mediterranean european (Greek Amazons!)
    – Barbarian was central/northern european
    – Necromancer was… I dunno, pasty white guy? eastern european?
    – Assassin, no idea, something white-ish (I always thought of her as Russian ;))
    – Druid was same as Barbarian, maybe more Celtic

    In Diablo 3, the Wizard finally represented eastern asia, and the Witch Doctor covers the pre-Colombian Americas.

    I’ve always liked how the Diablo universe really spans the range of humanity. They can’t cover everything equally all the time (like there’s no act in an African or east Asian environment/population), but it’s one of the most diverse game settings I can think of. They even break out of the classic european-style settings after D1.

    Back to Tyrael, I’m not sure if he even is mortal. I mean, he fell out of the freaking sky and blew a hole through probably half a mile of earth and buildings! He looks like a mortal, but I don’t think he really is. Heck, he may never even age, we don’t know. If he did die or get killed though, his energy would return through the Crystal Arch and he would be reborn as an angel. That might be exactly what happens!

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