Is Kel’Thuzad’s cat Mr. Bigglesworth an important lore figure, or the most important lore figure?
Blizzard loves pop culture references, whether it’s a character quoting a line from a movie, a song title as the name of a quest, or a character name as a play on obvious real name. Usually this is just a throw away reference. Perhaps that’s what Mr. Bigglesworth was meant to be, initially — a named critter at the start of a raid, a reference to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Instead, his cute fuzzy face became interlocked with the dastardly raid boss Kel’Thuzad. From his introduction in Naxxramas, he’s become Kel’thuzad’s sidekick.
What is the pop culture history that led to this cat appearing in World of Warcraft? Since his first appearance, where else has he shown up? And why is he so important to Kel’Thuzad?
The history of the villain stroking a cat
The history of this cat begins back in 1961. Ian Fleming released the James Bond novel, Thunderball. The head of the enemy organization known as Spectre was Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He would be an archetype for villains to come — sitting in the chair, taunting the hero while explaining his plan, calmly petting a white, blue-eyed Persian. And thus, the trope was born.
In 1997, Mike Meyers came out with Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, a comedy parody of James Bond. The main villain, Dr. Evil, was a spoof on Spectre’s Blofeld, complete with the cat. However to make fun of the cat, they started by giving it a silly name: Mr. Bigglesworth. Then, to take away the regal fluffiness of the fur, Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth are frozen in cryogenics together which causes the cat to lose all its fur, because of movie reasons. The cat was played by a purebred hairless Sphynx cat, named Ted NudeGent.
All of this may explain the inspiration for the addition of Mr. Bigglesworth, and why he is Kel’Thuzad’s pet. In vanilla World of Warcraft, K. T. — as he prefers to be called — was the ultimate end boss of the final raid. What better depiction for him than sitting there, with his cat on his lap, petting it, watching the heroes storm Naxxramas? The final rooms of Naxxramas have an ice theme, and could conjure up images of K. T. and his pet cat frozen in them together — even though this Mr. Bigglesworth has his fur. WoW came out in 2004, the Naxxramas raid released in 2006. The third Austin Powers movie, Goldmember, came out in 2002. It would still have been culturally relevant when they were making the raid. A nod to the movie and the franchise to give the cat — frozen with the big, bad boss — the same name.
So it started as a one time joke in the original World of Warcraft that only a handful of players would have a chance to see. Yet, that one joke — accompanied by a line of anguished dialogue if the critter was killed — became so integrated with the boss that Bigglesworth and Kel’Thuzad were now inextricably linked.
Mr. Bigglesworth in World of Warcraft
Mr. Bigglesworth first appeared in WoW with the release of patch 1.11.0, and the Naxxramas raid. When Naxxramas was repurposed for patch 3.0.3 in 2008, Bigglesworth came along for the ride. He was a level 5 House Cat critter wandering the entrance area of the raid, a neutral NPC that could be killed — but didn’t need to be. Killing him would cause Kel’Thuzad to yell: No!!! A curse upon you, interlopers! The armies of the Lich King will hunt you down. You will not escape your fate…
That’s all that killing the cat does. No loot, no changes to the way K. T. reacts to the raid at the end. Not even any extra dialogue.
The very first Raiding with Leashes achievement, added in patch 5.1.0 in 2012, rewarded the Mr. Bigglesworth battle pet for completing the achievement. The achievement focused on raids related to vanilla WoW — Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, and Naxxramas. The first day the achievement was out, Mr. Bigglesworth had a chance to drop off his bestie K. T. but that was quickly hotfixed. The Mr. Bigglesworth battle pet was a great pet at the time of its release, but is still used in strategies today. He’s an Undead with high Speed and Beast attacks, good when an Undead has to be used to fight Critters, such as achievements for using all of one kind of family. He also has Ice Barrier and Ice Tomb, used for great combination against certain foes. Originally, the first slot could have Prowl, which would then super-power Ice Tomb, but that was too powerful and was swapped out.
Like a curious cat, Mr. Bigglesworth made his way to Blizzard’s other games
In July of 2014, Hearthstone released their very first adventure, Curse of Naxxramas. This was a great addition for Hearthstone, bringing in solo content where players didn’t have to go up against other players. Clearing each wing of Naxxramas rewarded a card — something new adventures could stand to do again, Blizzard — and they were powerful legendaries, bosses from the Naxxramas raid. When a hunter used the spell Animal Companion against Kel’Thuzad during the final fight of that adventure, instead of summoning one of the usual three beasts, the spell would summon Mr. Bigglesworth instead. That card was originally planned to be released as a legendary in the game, but it was not. Completing the advenure presented one of the most memorable images in Hearthstone — a sad, broken K. T. holding Mr. Bigglesworth as his emotional support cat.
In 2017, Kel’Thuzad was added as a playable Hero in Heroes of the Storm. In one portrait and the matching spray, there is a chibi version of K. T. scratching a little kitty, plus another of Mr. Bigglesworth himself. He also shows up during K. T.’s dance animation. If you poke K. T. too much, he says, “Oh no, don’t you worry, Mr. Bigglesworth! I won’t let anyone harm you this time!” Apparently, Bigglesworth was supposed to play a bigger role in K. T.’s kit. He could be summoned, and the player would take control of the cat, scouting ahead, and if he was damaged, Kel’Thuzad would then enrage. However, the developers did not feel this played well with the rest of K. T.’s arsenal, and this ability was scrapped.
In 2020, Hearthstone is releasing the prequel to K. T.’s story, Scholomance Academy. This takes place back when K. T. was still a beloved mage with the Kirin Tor. In the opening song and dance, he is shown as a human, before he became a lich serving the Lich King. And what’s that in his arms? His beloved pet cat, Mr. Bigglesworth! To celebrate the upcoming expansion, Mr. Bigglesworth was added to the battlegrounds as a new hero. When another player is eliminated — his power actually says when a player dies, that’s terrifying! — the Mr. Bigglesworth player Discovers one of their minions, keeping all upgrades on that minion. Additionally, Mr. Bigglesworth is also a card in the upcoming Hearthstone expansion — sort of. He’s a 0-mana, 1/1 beast. His text just says, “This is Kel’Thuzad’s kitty.” Maybe he interacts with the Kel’Thuzad card in some way? Or comes back from the dead? Hopefully there’s more to him.
Why was this cat so important to Kel’Thuzad?
Other than a joke blown completely out of proportion, there is a lot here we don’t know. Originally, there was just a cat with a pop culture name, but in Wrath of the Lich King, there is just one extra reference to Mr. Bigglesworth. This reference makes everything a little bit stranger.
In Wintergarde Keep in Dragonblight, Eligor Dawnbringer is preparing players for Naxxramas, describing the different bosses.
“Mr. Bigglesworth. The last living creature in Naxxramas, this cat is said to be the last thread connecting Kel’thuzad to his mortal life. It is said that any who dare to harm a hair on his head doom themselves to… wait a second, what is he doing on there?” Commander Eligor Dawnbringer pounds on the display a few times. “Well, nevermind. I’m sure no one would be foolish enough to lay a hand on Kel’thuzad’s precious pet.”
This brings up a question — he specifically describes Mr. Bigglesworth as “the last living creature” in there. Meaning, he is not Undead like everything else. Yet, the battle pet is Undead. How could this be? Might be an oversight by Blizzard, of course. However, K. T. has a strong connection with the Lich King — both Ner’zhul and Arthas. When Arthas had the ability to raise the dead, Blizzard wanted to show he had a connection to his past by raising his favorite horse, Invincible — insert “never saw him” jokes below. When he was first studying necromancy, K. T. began by trying to resurrect rats. This comes from novels where most of his story is, but Mr. Bigglesworth doesn’t seem to show up there. To emulate the same Arthas story with him, Blizzard could retrofit that his first success was raising his favorite pet from the dead.
All of this is strangely intertwined — and such an important part of Kel’Thuzad — for something that started off as a single line in one raid. Before that raid, he had a lot of history in the Warcraft universe — the Plaguelands, the Lich King story, Sylvanas, he had involvement with Jaina — but no mention of this darn cat. At least, no mention in connection to K. T. He had separate fame in the Austin Powers movies. And, as everyone agrees, anyone or anything with a name like A. Powers is pretty great.
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