A series of four Ru(II) complexes of the form [Ru(bpy)2(C(^)N)](2+) (where C(^)N is a bidentate pyridine-functionalized imidazolylidene- or benzimidazolylidene-based N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligand and bpy is 2,2'-bipyridine) have been synthesized using a Ag(I) transmetalation protocol from the Ru(II) precursor compound, Ru(bpy)2Cl2. The synthesized azolium salts and Ru(II) complexes were characterized by elemental analysis, (1)H and (13)C NMR spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry, and electronic absorption and emission spectroscopy. The molecular structures for two benzimidazolium salts and three Ru(II) complexes were determined by single crystal X-ray diffraction. The complexes display photoluminescence within the range 611-629 nm, with the emission wavelength of the benzimidazolylidene containing structures, slightly blue-shifted relative to the imidazolylidene containing complexes. All complexes exhibited a reversible, one-electron oxidation, which is assigned to the Ru(2+/3+) redox couple. When compared to [Ru(bpy)3](2+), complexes of imidazolylidene containing ligands were oxidized at more negative potentials, while those of the benzimidazolylidene containing ligands were oxidized at more positive potentials. All four complexes exhibited moderately intense electrochemiluminescence (ECL) with the obtained ECL spectra closely resembling the photoluminescence spectra. The ability to predictably fine-tune the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) level of the Ru(II) complexes via the flexible synthetic strategy offered by NHCs is valuable for the design of ECL-based multiplexed detection strategies.