The arch-vile is an emaciated, yellowish-skinned humanoid with a grotesque appearance, including stigmata. It has no flesh around its abdomen, revealing some of its ribcage and spinal column. The arch-vile first makes an appearance in Doom II's MAP11: Circle of Death. Its description in the instruction manual is as follows:
Upon spotting the player, the arch-vile emits a high-pitched, distorted laugh. When killed, it utters an anguished cry as its body seems to fall apart, collapsing in on itself, leaving a bloody heap of dismembered body parts.
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 and summoning fire upon the targeted foe, regardless of range (though they will not use their attack from more than 896 map units away unless hurt). They then hunch over and clasp their hands together, causing the fire to erupt, usually sending 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 by the moment when the explosion happens, and can be avoided by staying out of the its line of sight at that moment, which is usually 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 spell. Moving out of the demon's sight does not cause the arch-vile to stop its attack; it always goes through the full sequence unless it flinches after being hit by a third party.
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 precious 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 the fastest monsters in the game except for charging lost souls, almost 50% quicker than even the cyberdemon, and meeting two or more of them at once without any cover spells doom for most players. They are also the most resistant monster to pain, which makes canceling their attacks difficult; a point-blank shot with the super shotgun only disrupts their spell 55% 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 immediately switch target when hit.
An arch-vile has the lowest pain chance in the game, so it is not possible to reliably prevent an arch-vile from attacking. This makes it essential to kill them very quickly or take cover. As arch-viles move quickly, the cover may become unavailable after being used once or twice. However, it is needed only for the very short periods when the arch-vile is about to damage the player. A timely BFG blast from a short distance is the only reliable method to kill an arch-vile before it can finish its attack. When using any other weapon, cover is necessary. The plasma rifle will often suppress them from using their attack thanks to its high rate of fire; the super shotgun is similarly useful due to its large number of hitscan shots in one blast. The rocket launcher is also useful at dispatching them, although the player runs a risk of being counterattacked, especially if there are more than one of them at a time. If using the super shotgun, the player can also take a potshot at the archvile just after it attacks, as the arch-vile is immobilized briefly after each flame attack.
It is inadvisable to attack an arch-vile while it is engaged in combat with other monsters. If an arch-vile switches its target while it is in the middle of performing an attack, its flames will instantly latch onto the new target without resetting their timer; therefore, if the player shoots an arch-vile while it is almost finished immolating another monster, the flames will move onto the player and explode almost instantly.
Inspiration and development
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." 
- The arch-vile is based on a model which is currently displayed in the id Software building.
- A lifesize cardboard cutout of the arch-vile produced by id Software exists. Photos of it are found here and here (archived 🏛).
- 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.
- 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 long casting time of the demon's spell usually gives the player enough time for two super shotgun shots. However, the arch-vile's negligible pain chance renders this method rather tricky, as the player would almost certainly suffer a blast by the time of his second shot.
- 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.
- The MARBFAC2 texture in Doom bears a scant resemblance to the design of the arch-vile, but John Romero has issued conflicting statements through the years as to whether or not the sketch that texture was based upon became part of the arch-vile's design influences, at one time stating that it was a different "alien demon" creature whose design was abandoned aside from surviving in the texture, but later claiming that it was indeed the arch-vile itself.
|Shots needed to kill1||Mean|| Standard
health, no armor)
health, security armor)
health, combat armor)
|Heavy weapon dude||1.00||0.00||1||1|
|Baron of Hell||12.00||0.00||12||12|
- Assumes that the victim never takes blast damage from an attack on a different target.
- Cannot be targeted because arch-viles attack other monsters only in retaliation, but may be accidentally hurt by blast damage.
- Arch-viles can never be arch-vile targets, but may suffer accidental blast damage.
The IWADs contain the following numbers of arch-viles per skill level:
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. 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.
- Arch-vile attack targets not preserved in saved games
- Arch-vile jump
- Ghost monster
- Monsters open locked doors
- Benjamin Turner (12 December 2003). "Creating DOOM: Romero Remembers." GameSpy (archived 🏛). Retrieved 13 June 2017.
|Monsters from Doom and Doom II|
| Doom: Baron of Hell | Cacodemon | Cyberdemon | Demon | Imp | Lost soul | Shotgun guy | Spectre | Spiderdemon | Zombieman|
Doom 2: Arachnotron | Arch-vile | Commander Keen | Heavy weapon dude | Hell knight | Mancubus | Pain elemental | Revenant | Wolfenstein SS | Final boss