"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.


ID #64 (decimal), 40 (hex)
Hit points700
Speed15 map units per frame
(262.5 map units per second)
Reaction time8
Pain chance10 (3.91%)
Pain time10 tics
Bits list

1: Obstacle

2: Shootable

22: Affects Kill %

Sprites & sounds
Sprite nameVILE
Alert soundDSVILSIT
Action soundDSVILACT
Pain soundDSVIPAIN
Death soundDSVILDTH
Ranged attack
Damage20 (direct hit)
0-70 (blast radius)
Sprite nameFIRE
SoundDSVILATK (incantation)
DSFLAMST (fire column)
DSFLAME (fire column)
DSBAREXP (explosion)

Shots needed to kill1 Mean Standard
Min Max
Player (100%
health, no armor)
Player (100%
health, security armor)
Player (200%
health, combat armor)
Barrel2 1011
Shotgun guy1.000.0011
Wolfenstein SS1.000.0011
Heavy weapon dude1.000.0011
Lost soul2.000.0022
Commander Keen 2 2022
Romero's head2 4044
Pain elemental2 5055
Hell knight6.000.0066
Arch-vile3 8088
Baron of hell12.000.001212
  1. Assumes that the victim never takes blast damage from an attack on a different target.
  2. Cannot be targeted because Arch-viles attack other monsters only in retaliation, but may be accidentally hurt by blast damage.
  3. Arch-viles can never be Arch-vile targets, but may suffer accidental blast damage.

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
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