How to Fix the “Wotlk Error Retrieving Character List” in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

How to Fix the “Wotlk Error Retrieving Character List” in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.


Wotlk error retrieving character list in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) is the second expansion for the hugely popular MMORPG World of Warcraft. Released in 2008, it drew millions of excited fans back to Azeroth with its new continent, Northrend, increased level cap, and the iconic villain Arthas.

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However, some players have encountered frustrating errors when trying to play WotLK, specifically the “Error retrieving character list” message preventing them from accessing their characters. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the most common fixes and solutions for this error, so you can get back to enjoying the frozen wastes of Northrend.

What Causes the “Wotlk Error Retrieving Character List”?

This error typically occurs due to one of the following reasons:

  • Corrupted game files or cache
  • Issues with internet connectivity
  • Problems on private servers related to the instance_reset table
  • General technical issues on Blizzard’s side

Luckily, there are steps you can take on your own end to resolve many instances of this error appearing.

5 Ways to Fix the “Error Retrieving Character List”

1. Clear the Game Cache

Clearing your game cache is the most common and effective solution for this error. Here’s how to do it:

  • Close World of Warcraft completely
  • Open the WoW directory location on your computer
  • Find the “Cache” folder and delete it
  • Restart WoW and try accessing your characters again

Deleting the cache forces WoW to rebuild necessary game files, which will correct any errors that may have accumulated over time. This simple fix solves the character list issue for most players.

2. Check Your Internet Connection

An unstable internet connection can also prevent WoW from retrieving character data. Try these internet troubleshooting steps:

  • Reset your router and modem by unplugging them for one minute
  • Connect your computer directly to the modem with an ethernet cable
  • Run an internet speed test to confirm your bandwidth is sufficient
  • Restart any other devices using your home network
  • Contact your ISP if you still see connection problems

A clean reboot of your network devices flushes out any glitches, while direct ethernet provides a more reliable wired connection. Checking your speeds and minimizing network congestion can also help WoW communicate properly.

3. Contact Blizzard Support

For persistent or recurring errors, you may need to reach out to Blizzard’s customer support team. Here are some tips for getting help from them:

  • Check BlizzardCS on Twitter for server status updates
  • Visit Blizzard’s support site and search for the error
  • Submit a ticket describing your issue in detail
  • Provide diagnostic files from WoW if requested by a GM
  • Request elevated troubleshooting if basic fixes are unsuccessful

Blizzard admins have additional tools to investigate connection problems or corrupted installs on their end. Provide as much detail as possible and be responsive to requests to help them resolve your issue faster.

4. Truncate the instance_reset Table (Private Servers)

If you play on a private WotLK server, this error is often caused by instance IDs accumulating in the database’s instance_reset table. Clearing it can fix the problem:

  • Gain access to your server’s database
  • Find the instance_reset table
  • Empty the table using the SQL query TRUNCATE instance_reset
  • Restart the server

Truncating clears out outdated instance IDs without harming your actual character data. Just be careful modifying live databases if you are not familiar with SQL management.

5. Repair or Reinstall the Game

If you have tried all other troubleshooting, repairing or reinstalling the game itself may be needed:

  • Run the Blizzard repair tool from the Blizzard app
  • Backup and delete the WTF folder (do NOT delete WDB folder)
  • Completely uninstall and reinstall the game
  • Ensure all drivers, frameworks, and prerequisites are up to date

Repairing catches any corrupted files the cache clear did not get, while a fresh install ensures no remnants of the issue remain. Just be sure not to delete the WDB folder containing critical game data.

FAQs About the Error Retrieving Character List

Should I delete the WTF folder?

No, do not delete the WTF (World of Warcraft Technical Files) folder as it contains important account settings and addons. Deleting it can cause further issues.

Does restarting the computer help?

Restarting your computer will not directly fix this error, but it can help rule out any processes interfering with WoW connecting to its servers properly.

Can addons cause this issue?

While addons are not a direct cause, removing all addons and testing with a clean interface can help diagnose any potential conflicts.

Will a VPN fix connection problems?

Using a VPN will generally not resolve this specific error, as it is related to local game files and Blizzard services rather than your own network.

How can I backup my WTF folder safely?

Make a copy of the entire World of Warcraft > WTF folder before troubleshooting. Store it somewhere like your Desktop or Documents folder so you can restore if needed.

Is reinstalling WoW safe for my characters?

Yes, your characters and progression are stored server-side, so reinstalling the game client does not affect them. Just be sure not to delete the WDB data folder.


The “Error retrieving character list” can be frustrating, but resolving it is often just a matter of refreshing the game cache, addressing any connectivity problems, or forcing a reinstallation to correct underlying issues. Players can enact most solutions themselves with just a bit of time and patience.

Follow the step-by-step guide outlined here to cover the major causes of this error. Double check your work to avoid deleting important game files or data. If all else fails, Blizzard’s customer support has additional tools to diagnose and fix stubborn cases. With the passion of the Warcraft community, any obstacles between players and returning to Northrend will be vanquished.

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