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Spoilers ahoy, if you haven't yet cleared Act 1.

Midway through Act 1, we learn that Tyrael used to be an angel. Upon disagreeing with his fellow angelic brethren, he opted to fall to Sanctuary and aid the humans in fighting the demons that were poised to overrun it.

Tyrael appears human - so much so that Leah doesn't believe him to be anything more than a man, until he shares his fall from heaven with her in a vision. Later in the game, he mentions that he is mortal, so presumably the gesture was not just symbolic, and he's not angelic anymore. However, humans in the Diablo series are descendants of the Nephalem - the offspring of angels and demons.

It doesn't seem like Tyrael's tearing of his wings made him partially demon, so what is he exactly? Is there any precedent or explanation for this in the lore?

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I defence of those who have played the previous games, we already knew Tyrael was an angel. The surprise wasn't that Tyrael was an angel, but rather that he is now a man, and then how he fell. –  MBraedley May 25 '12 at 0:54
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@MBraedley, I was more talking about the spoiler that the fallen star/mysterious stranger guy was a fallen Tyrael –  agent86 May 25 '12 at 1:00
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Excellent question. I think it is even better considered that during one of the random conversations with your follows the Enchantress during Act II will state that the light of the Seraphim still shines through Tyrael, indicating that there is still some angelic power in him. –  Pants May 25 '12 at 9:26
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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Tyrael is a walking, talking Deus Ex Machina.

There is no precedent or explanation in lore other than 'Angels are powerful and they can turn one of their own into a mortal by ripping off his wings because that would be cool, OKAY?'

This is Blizzard we're talking about. There are tons of plot holes, and very few of them make sense. The best we can hope for is a retcon at some point in a piece of fiction or an expansion that makes a ham-handed attempt to explain things, introducing seven more complications in the process.

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+1, 'plot' in D3 is awful junk with so many plot holes it looks like swiss cheese :/ –  Alok May 25 '12 at 0:50
    
Things like this have happened before. It is well known that there are angels that have fallen from heaven; took human form OR became mortal. See my answer for the details. –  givanse Aug 26 '13 at 4:42
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LessPop's answer pretty much summed it up, but I'll also add a few further conundrums:

  1. As an Angel, Tyrael was a being composed of "vibrations of light" and only took on the appearance of a human, never actually becoming one. How then does he "rip off his wings"? Bad vibrations I guess...
  2. Tyrael can not be Nephalem or human, because he is part of a race that spawned the Nephalem the ancestors of humans. That would be like being his own grandfather.

So Tyrael being mortal, doesn't make him human - and it isn't clear if his appearance is still just an illusion, or a true representation of his actual form.

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As I've had a little more time to ponder, additional thoughts come to mind. It isn't even really clear that Tyrael is mortal. The dude fell from the sky like a meteor and survived, which doesn't make him like your average dude. There is also the somewhat similar case of Izual - who clearly is not mortal. If I find more definitive lore I'll update my answer, but it looks like the best description may just be "not an angel". –  EBongo May 27 '12 at 13:11
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At the beginning of D3, he rips his wings off and falls from heaven. After this we know that he has human appearance and that he is mortal. There isn't much discussion about his mortality, we know it can happen.

Is he still an angel?

  1. He didn´t become human, it is never stated like that. Is just appereance.

    Angels have taken human form in the past, such as Inarius and The Prophet. Tyrael just made the process permanent.1

    Tyrael makes this permanent by detaching his wings, see below.

  2. We know that Inarius's wings were tore off by Mephisto (he remains an angel and immortal). Also, he is condemned to be tortured for eternity. Part of the torture consists of removing his eyelids. Angels don't have eyelids, the removal of the wings triggers the transformation from light and sound to flesh and bones.

  3. The enchantress Eirena has this dialogue with the player:

    Well, I did not expect you to keep company with a seraph.

    Seraph is the collective name for archangels and angels.

  4. If he were Nephalem or human he would also have no "fate" as Ithereal says and would be free to kill Diablo himself.

TL;DR

He is a mortal angel.

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