This article is about the original Doom games monster Arch-vile. For the monster in Doom 3, see Arch-vile (Doom 3).

"One of the worst of a bad lot. You can't think of enough rotten things to say about him. He's fast, hard to kill, casts spells, and resurrects dead monsters! At least these suckers are rare."
― Doom II Manual description

Arch-viles are very tall, emaciated-looking, peach-skinned humanoid figures with a grotesque appearance, including stigmata. They also have no flesh around their abdomens, revealing some of their ribcage and spinal column. The Arch-viles first make their appearance in Doom II in MAP11: Circle of Death.

Combat characteristics

Upon spotting the player, the Arch-vile emits a high-pitched sound similar to that of an Arachnotron. When killed, it utters an anguished, gurgling laugh as its body falls apart - his mid-section and left leg broken in half, right hand disintegrated into a bloody stump, collapsing in on itself into a bloody heap.

These monsters can take a considerably high amount of damage (700 hit points, the fourth highest in the game), and their attack consists of a unique ability to immolate their enemies in flames by raising their arms up, summoning fire upon the targeted foe, regardless of range (though they will not use their attack from more than 1024 map units away unless hurt). They then hunch over and clap their hands together, causing the fire to erupt, usually send the enemy flying into the air, while causing up to 90 points in damage. This attack will always hit the enemy as long as there is a line of sight between the Arch-vile and the target, and can be avoided by getting out of the Arch-vile's line of sight, which should usually be relatively easy since it takes the Arch-vile about three full seconds to do one attack, from when it first calls the fire to when it actually sends out the blast. The blast occurs near the end of the attack. The demon will continue to finish its attack even after the blast, however it is safe to come out of cover at this time. If the player moves out of the sight of Arch-vile and comes back at the moment of the blast, he will get hurt. In fact, the only time the player needs cover is at the moment of blast. This can be useful in speed-running.

The Arch-vile has the power to resurrect other, lower-level monsters that they come across. They can resurrect all monsters that leave corpses except Cyberdemons, Spiderdemons, Commander Keens, and other Arch-viles. They also cannot resurrect corpses that were placed on map by the level designer. This resurrecting power makes them top priority to kill in battle, to stop them from reviving defeated monsters and forcing the player to spend extra ammunition. However, the player does get credit for killing resurrected monsters, so in levels containing an Arch-vile the KILLS percentage displayed at the end may exceed 100%.

Arch-viles are one of the fastest monsters in the game, almost twice as fast as a lost soul that isn't charging and only 1 speed unit slower than a cyberdemon, and meeting two or more of them at once without any cover will likely result in death for most players. They are also the most resistant monster to pain, which makes canceling their attacks difficult; a point-blank blast from a super shotgun only disrupts their attack 78% of the time.

Arch-viles can be hurt by the blast damage of their own flame attack, so it is possible for an attacking Arch-vile to hurt itself or any Arch-vile close to its target. However, monsters (including other Arch-viles) damaged by an Arch-vile's attack will never retaliate because there is an exception in the source code that prevents other monsters from targeting them. This does not stop Arch-viles themselves from targeting and damaging other monsters, though. Arch-viles are easy to distract because of their lack of targeting threshold; which means they will always switch target when hit.

When facing Arch-viles, it's strongly recommended that players should use the most powerful weapons at their disposal against them -- the BFG 9000 will kill them in one hit most of the time, while the plasma rifle will usually suppress them from using their attack due to its high rate of fire. The super shotgun also works well if there is proper cover for the player to hide behind, due to the Arch-vile's high running speed which enables it to close in on the player quickly, but which also gives the player a better opportunity to hit it with point-blank blasts. The rocket launcher can be useful at dispatching them under certain circumstances, but (as with the revenant) it can be difficult to hit the monster due to its running around.

There are some interesting engine quirks associated with the Arch-vile's attack and abilities, such as their assisting players with jumps and creating non-clipping ghost monsters.

Inspiration and development

The idea and name for the Arch-vile came from Sandy Petersen.[1]

Bobby Prince said: "The Archvile is an evil healer. Anyone getting in his way is blasted with fire and disintegrated. This includes other demons. But, after he has wrought his destruction, he then goes around and reanimates all of the demons. Because of this interesting dual personality, I decided to give him a very evil laugh as an active sound. For his death sound, I recorded a young girl saying 'why,' pitch shifted it down and mixed it with other sounds. The Archvile just doesn't understand why anyone would want to kill him as he sees himself as only doing good for his fellow demon." [2]


  • The Arch-vile is based on a model which is currently displayed in the id Software building.
  • The Arch-vile's name is most likely based on the prefix arch- (meaning ruler or supreme) + the word vile (meaning bad or disgusting).
  • A lifesize cardboard cutout of the Arch-vile produced by id Software exists. Photos of it are found here and here.
  • MAP11 of The Plutonia Experiment, Hunted, is a maze where Arch-viles are the only enemies. The same is true for MAP11 of Plutonia 2 (the sequel to The Plutonia Experiment), Arch-Violence. For this reason, and because of MAP11: Circle of Death's status as the first place where an Arch-vile is encountered, MAP11 (of any WAD) and Arch-viles are invariably seen among fans as going hand-in-hand.
  • The Arch-vile's attack inflicts a base 20 points of damage, plus up to 70 additional points of blast damage. The blast damage against immobile targets is often around 63 or 67 points, as the center of the attack is not normally placed at the center of the target.
  • The Arch-vile, along with the mancubus and the pain elementals, are the only monsters who has it's own unique pain sound slips; in this case, the Arch-vile makes a sharp high-pitched groan if it's in pain.
  • Considering that the player only needs cover at the moment of blast, he can continuously fire at an Arch-vile, using the moment of blast to reload his super-shotgun. After the blast, the demon is still finishing its attack so it's a good time for a shot. The long attack time of the demon usually gives the player enough time for two shots. But the player better be strafing toward a cover while making his second shot. The Arch-vile in MAP03: Power Control (TNT: Evilution) provides a perfect situation to practice this.
  • The cyberdemon and the spider mastermind are immune to blast damage, so it takes an Arch-vile much longer to kill one of these enemies than one might expect.
  • Similar to the Baron of Hell, the Arch-vile's face is displayed periodically in The Ultimate Doom and Doom II, through the MARBFAC2 wall texture.
  • In a ZDoom-based source port, if the player is killed by an Arch-vile (monster is credited with delivering the blow that reduces player's health to 0%), an obituary message is displayed at the top of the screen: "[player name] was incinerated by an Arch-vile".

Appearance statistics

In the Doom games, the Arch-vile is first encountered on these levels:

Doom IIMAP11: Circle of DeathMAP11: Circle of DeathMAP11: Circle of Death
TNT: EvilutionMAP12: CraterMAP03: Power ControlMAP03: Power Control
PlutoniaMAP03: AztecMAP01: CongoMAP01: Congo

The IWADs contain the following numbers of Arch-viles per skill level:

Doom II81517
TNT: Evilution102738

Doom RPG

In Doom RPG, the Arch-vile appears as a class of monster. There are three variations, identified by color:

  • Infernis (blue)
  • Archvile [sic] (gold)
  • Apollyon (red)

The Arch-vile class of monsters are particularly susceptible to axe attacks and also appear to share a similar weakness to the fire extinguisher that lost soul-class monsters do, much the same as in the novelisation of Hell on Earth. They also possess the ability to revive dead monsters, though this will fail if the player is standing on its target's corpse at the time. Something that should be noted is that when attacking, no matter if the Arch-vile is an Infernis or Apollyon or just plain Arch-vile, it always uses the unmodified costume of the regular arch-vile raising its arms and catching fire.

See also

External links

Monsters from classic Doom games

Doom & Doom II Monsters

ArachnotronArch-Vile*Baron of HellCacodemonCommander Keen*CyberdemonDemonHeavy Weapon DudeHell KnightImpLost SoulMancubusPain ElementalRevenantShotgun GuySpectre | Spider MastermindZombiemanWolfenstein SS*Final Boss (Romero's head)*

Sony PlayStation exclusives

Caco-SpectreNightmare Spectre

Italics = Introduced in Doom II
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