Riot’s animated series, Arcane, has taken the world by storm. The first act skyrocketed to the most viewed show on Netflix the day after its release, and it has peaked as the most-watched series in 38 different countries.
As fans discuss the wild events of the first act, clues that have been in plain sight for years are pointing towards a secret origin story for one of League of Legends’ earliest champions being revealed in Arcane’s first three episodes.
Warning, there are spoilers ahead for the first three episodes of Arcane and possible spoilers for acts two and three
Arcane’s Vander is a former revolutionary who now serves as a father figure for four orphans, including Vi and Powder, that may have gone on to become a champion in League of Legends.
Over the course of the first three episodes, fans are shown the childhoods of Vi and Powder, who goes on to become LoL champion Jinx, two young Zaunite orphans living in the undercity under the iron fist of Piltover. During the first act, Vander’s brutal past is revealed including his near-murder of fellow rebel Silco. So is the fact that he led the Zaunite rebels, including Vi and Jinx’s parents, to the slaughter on the bridge to Piltover.
Vander in Arcane’s present-day is an old man trying his best to forget or atone for his past, keeping Zaun’s internal peace on The Lanes to abate the watchful eye of Piltover’s Enforcers.
In the third episode of Arcane, Vander is kidnapped after trying to turn himself in for the theft of Hextech technology from a Kirraman family-funded laboratory in which Jayce Talis works. The kidnapper is his once-close friend Silco who has been employing a Zaunite chemist, Singed, to brew a substance known as Shimmer capable of giving humans superhuman strength at a horrifying cost. Silco seems to intend to experiment on Vander using Shimmer.
Vander is seemingly killed in the third episode of Arcane, but he’s likely to be brought back.
Trying to free Vander, Vi and her crew break into Silco’s headquarters and attempt to rescue him. The attempt goes horrifyingly wrong when Jinx sends a toy monkey armed with a Hextech crystal as an improvised grenade. The grenade kills Vi’s friends, collapses the roof on her and Vander, and lights the warehouse on fire. The flames are seen rushing downstairs and towards Singed in the laboratory beneath it.
In an attempt to save his adopted daughter, Vander uses his previous restraints as brass knuckles and fights his way past one of Silco’s Shimmer-infested goons before being thrown from the bridge into several crates of Shimmer after refusing to kill Silco for the second time.
As Silco sends his minion to find Vi, Vander ingests Shimmer, becoming an enormous monstrosity, killing Silco’s henchman, and fleeing the building with Vi. Outside the warehouse, the mutated Vander lies still in a pool of his own blood. Here, it seems that Vander is fully dead, and remains motionless for the rest of the episode as Vi and Jinx are separated.
This is where the hints from throughout Riot’s games come in, suggesting that Vander is actually a champion that fans know, love, and likely fear, Warwick.
There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that Vander ends up being transformed into Warwick.
Warwick’s past has long been mysterious, with most of his lore coming from his 2017 in-game rework, which turned the aged werewolf into a horrifying Chemtech beast. Throughout the series, specific language is used to relate Vander to canines through intentional wordplay. A Zaunite thug refers to him as “the Hound of the Underground”, Silco calls him a “lap dog” for associating with Piltover.
Warwick’s lore was updated in 2017 to give him a backstory very similar to that of Vander.
Vander was once a violent man, who hung up his cast iron gauntlets in an attempt to protect his adopted children and save the people of Zaun from more suffering. Warwick’s lore describes Warwick’s past as very similar, including taking up a new moniker to live a peaceful life.
“Though many think of Warwick as no more than a beast, buried beneath the fury lies the mind of a man, a gangster who put down his blade and took up a new name to live a better life. But no matter how hard he tried to move on, he could never escape the sins of his past.”
This hints that Warwick, the violent Zaunite revolutionary, left that name in his past and took up the name Vander to play peacekeeper between Zaun and Piltover. Warwick’s official lore says he doesn’t recall how he fell into Singed’s grasp, but he does remember one haunting memory in particular.
“Warwick struggled to recall a single memory from his past… All he could see was blood. But then he heard a little girl screaming. Screaming something he couldn’t understand. It sounded like a name.”
This description lines up perfectly with where Arcane leaves the mutated and wounded Vander at the end of episode three. As he bleeds out on the cobblestones of Zaun, he can hear Jinx screaming “Violet!” after Vi strikes her and leaves her for killing their friends with the Hextech grenade. Gravely injured and his bloodstream full of Shimmer, Vander can still hear his adopted daughter’s cries as he lies dying on the ground.
Singed is a member of Silco’s gang in Arcane.
While Vander lies wounded, his creator, Singed, is unaccounted for at the end of the third episode. Singed is not pictured with the rest of Silco’s gang in the final scene, leaving him missing in action.
If Singed were to emerge from the burning laboratory, quite literally singed, he would stumble across Vander’s mutilated corpse. With Silco having apparently abandoned him and the warehouse destroyed, Vander would be Singed’s last sample of Shimmer.
Throughout the first act, Silco makes regularly reference to showing Vander what he truly is. Warwick’s bio has very similar wording from Singed.
“Singed would reveal his subject’s true nature—the deadly beast hidden within a “good man.”
With Vi being abducted by a regretful Marcus, a bigoted Piltover Enforcer who turned Vander over to Silco, and Jinx in the care of Silco, the only two named characters unaccounted for after the warehouse disaster is the dying Vander and the well-cooked Singed.
In Warwick’s champion biography, even after Singed discards Warwick after extensive experimentation and leaves him for dead, Warwick managed to recover. As he hunts the streets of Zaun, a familiar dynamic plays out in reverse. Rather than the violent, caged beast within the peaceful man, Warwick has become his innermost demon and been left with only shreds of the peaceful man that raised Violet and Powder.
“He still wonders if he’d truly wanted this. He can’t remember details, but he remembers enough. Enough to know Singed had been right all along—the good man had been a lie, before disaster had burned it away, revealing the truth.
He is Warwick. He is a killer.
And there are so many killers to hunt.”
Even his interactions with Jinx and Vi make reference to the day he found them on the bridge and the disaster at Silco’s laboratory. With all of the loose ends following the first of Arcane’s conclusion, it seems incredibly likely that Vander’s cruel fate is not yet over. Thanks to clues laid in 2017, the last vestiges of Vander can be seen in Warwick. Should Warwick taunt an enemy Vi in League of Legends, he asks a peculiar question.
“Who taught you how to punch?”
With this many contextual clues, champion interactions put into the game four years ago, and Arcane’s loose plot threads, it seems like fans have finally figured out exactly who Warwick was before he became the beast that roams Summoner’s Rift which they’re familiar with.
No, Singed is shown to be a member of Silco’s gang and not Silco himself.
Though he isn’t explicitly named by the characters, those who watched Arcane with subtitles on will have seen a character named “Singed” talking with Silco. The character didn’t look like the champion LoL players are familiar with, but it’s highly likely that he’ll make his grand, bandaged reveal in the second act.