Illidan is NOT a hero or Antihero (Potential spoilers for Illidan Novel)
Illidan has been a character I have loved since Warcraft 3, yet I never had any disillusions of his motives or his character. When he secured the skull of Gul’dan, he considered destroying it, and had intended to do so until realizing its raw power. At which point he says “Yes, the power SHOULD be MINE!” As if he was entitled to it.
Going into the Frozen Throne, in the first mission, Maiev comes across a Kaldorei fishing Villiage slaughtered and burned to the ground, done so by Illidan and the Naga. Yes, Illidan did so in the attempt to halt Maiev’s pursuit of him. Yet, this is the first time we see Illidan willingly murder those he claims to be trying to save for his own personal gain, and it becomes a trend. For someone who openly talks about sacrifice, he is horrifically content with sacrificing the lives of innocent people.
Following him to the Tomb of Sargaras, Illidan intended to use the powerful artifact, The Eye of Sargaras, to destroy the Frozen Throne, and earn the favor of Kil’Jaden. While I understand he was merely trying to earn Kil’Jadens trust only to betray him later, there is something else to note about this. Malfurion sensed the world cry out in pain from Illidan’s tampering, to the point where Malfurion believed his brother threatened to tear the world apart. This is the very reason why Cenarius did not train Illidan as a druid, his lack of patience, foresight, and sheer recklessness, paying no heed to the cost of his actions. Only tunnel vison toward a set goal, which usually involve obtaining power for himself.
Now entering the Illidan Novel and TBC, Potential spoilers ahead, you have been warned. Illidan is not portrayed as a hero in this novel, he blatantly expresses the desire to murder his brother, he claims that the people of Outland are already as good as dead, and they serve no purpose other than to fuel to strike at the Legion. He enslaves fel orcs using the Blood of Magtheridon, manipulates the Ashtongue into following him using the Shade of Akama, and instructed Vashj and the Naga to seize the water supply of Outland in an effort to make all of Outland dependent on him, very much like the Villain in Mad Max, Immortan Joe.
Probably the most heinous act he has done, in further punishment of Akama’s duplicity, in a confrontation to Maiev and The Watchers, he essentially utilizes the Ashtongue as cannon fodder, and genocides them, harvesting their souls to open a portal, again to serve his goals he tunnel visions after. This was not a hard decision to Illidan, this wasn’t a hard moral struggle like what we saw him do at Blackrook Hold. This was a spiteful act toward Akama, and Illidan relished in the death and destruction of it, he was delighted.
Truthfully, the only people who can honestly believe that Illidan is a force for good are those who have also taken on the fel, and shares a soul with a demon. As the Demon Hunter Vandel said in the novel, “Yes, Illidan is a mad man, but he is the only one capable of defeating the Burning Legion, so that is why we follow him.”
That statement is a subjective one, but it reveals his understanding that Illidan is not a Good guy, he is not a hero, he is not an antihero, he is a Villain who shares an enemy with the Heroes. That is it.