The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite pop culture reference in an MMO?

I will never be completely sure of it, but I like to think that the “Deep-Toads” of Lord of the Rings Online’s Moria are a sly reference to the awesome Hypnotoad of Futurama (ALL HAIL THE HYPNOTOAD). I mean, c’mon: They’re huge frogs that toss mesmerizing spirals at you in a way that is unlike how normal amphibians operate.

I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was a reference, because mischievous and sometimes-bored developers are forever tossing in such pop culture nuggets into characters, mobs, and especially quest titles into their games (as a side note: have you ever considered how many quest title names have been created for your MMO? It boggles the mind.).

Assuming that you don’t have a sour puckered reflex against such instances, what’s your favorite pop culture reference in an MMORPG? Bonus question: Did you ever fully realize the truth of one of these references only after a long time of being exposed to it?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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38 Comments on "The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite pop culture reference in an MMO?"

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Drevar93 .

In June of 2001 Asheron’s Call added a muddy towel which would drop from mud golems, and could be exchanged for a small amount of XP and coin or a Clean dry towel, which could be worn. The muddy towel had the incription:

“Greetings, traveler! If you’ve found this towel, no doubt something unfortunate has happened to me, because we all know that only the most dire circumstances could part a traveler from his trusty towel. It wouldn’t be the first time, certainly, that something unacceptably rude has happened to me since I started traveling with F.P.”

“In any case, please return this towel to an Explorer’s Society agent. They can be located in Shoushi, Yanshi, Nanto, Yaraq, al-Arqas, Samsur, Lytelthorpe, Rithwic, and Holtburg. I’m sure those fine chaps will come up with a nice and useful keepsake for you.
In gratitude,
A.D.”

It was in homage to Douglas Adams who passed away in May, the month before.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Secret World everywhere.

boredlol
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boredlol

Mists of Pandaria has a sub-zone called “The Deep” where a panda npc named Adele is rolling around. I still laugh when I think about it :P

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Hirku

TSW is full of them, but my favorites were the Kingsmouth Town businesses like Jack & Wendy’s Bed & Breakfast or Flagg’s Pharmacy.

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Jay Madison

FFXIV does pop culture right, in a way that doesn’t necessarily pull you out of the story being told.

pid
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pid

If diablo 3 is an mmo (and I mean IF), then the “Up all night to get lucky” achievement sounds pretty daft.

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Robert Mann

My reaction is puckered up face. At least, if I’m seriously into a gaming setting that should have nothing to do with our pop culture.

I can appreciate it when relevant, but when not… it’s one more thing that turns me off from games. It doesn’t mean I won’t play based on a few instances of the action, but it counts as a negative for me.

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Cory Enns

The Universal Greeting from Transformers The Animated Movie used in Eldevin

Yangers
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Yangers

The “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” references in Guild Wars 1 for the “Kind of a Big Deal” title track.

https://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Kind_of_a_Big_Deal

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Jeff

I think WoW beat any positive feeling for pop culture references out of me. These days the game with the least to none gets more favor.

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Castagere Shaikura

Yeah back when Wow first came out it was kind of fun. But now its cliche to me. The last one had me kicking a boss mob at the end of fight down a round hole 300 this is Sparta style in Star Trek online.

hurbster
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hurbster

It’s one of the reasons I quit, turning two Alliance zones into pop culture fests did not sit well with me. And turning half a zone into an Indiana Jones on top of that…

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thirtymil

I don’t mind pop culture references in general provided they’re subtle enough for me not to notice if I don’t get the pop culture being referenced. But having Redridge turned entirely into a Rambo plotline grated.

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Schmidt.Capela

My favorite used to be the Indiana Jones references in WoW, both with Harrison Jones and with Brann Bronzebeard.

Until Cataclysm brought us a whole frikkin’ zone chock-full of Indiana Jones jokes and spoofs. Way to spoil the joke, Blizzard.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

This, i never watched the movies, still you can’t avoid knowing some of the details, the web is full of them, so this cool zone with a huge role in the lore turned into a long joke.

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Legend Of Vinny T

Most of Champions Online’s pop culture references were obvious and lame. Before they reworked itemization, though, they had a little gem of a gear drop: the Spork of Horripiliation, based on Sheogorath’s favorite piece of tableware.

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Rees Racer

Right.
I know Borderlands 2 is not (nor ever has been) a proper MMO. But to hear a good portion of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 2) uttered my one of the Psycho mobs was both magnificent and macabre.

“O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d His canon against self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, Seem to me all the uses of this world!”

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Matthew Yetter

I’ve got two favorites. One is Goldilocks and the Three Bears, tucked away in LotRO. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bae0JR5KGUA)

Far older than that are The Lost Vikings in WoW. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW_lEfuXxIg) That was actually one of Blizzard’s earliest games, so it was hilarious to find them in WoW as well.

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Pandalulz

I just opened the Destiny 2 app on my phone and was clicking the tabs. Clicked on Community and the top option is All Topics with the subtitle, “Drink from the Firehose.” We have a winner!

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Dividion

Most kids these days don’t even know what UHF and VHF are. (Although VHF was referenced in Star Trek Beyond.) I wonder how many don’t even know who Weird Al is.

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Pandalulz

I have to say, he really smartly did a strong Youtube push for that last album he did. It was a great move to keep himself relevant to young viewers. Not to mention, he actually does a great job guesting on kid shows (he’s the lead voice on Milo Murphy on Disney). But UHF, that would be quite the deep dive even for a lot of people of relevant age.

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Phubarrh

My favorite simply because I suspect I may be the one person in the game’s whole damn playerbase who caught it: in The Secret World’s Orochi Tower, on the Plethron alpha level, are references to one of Michael Moorcock’s most obscure novels, THE CHINESE AGENT, a spy spoof with a few Eternal Champion hooks that’s been out of print for most of its half-century of existence. The book is a fun little farce though, and the game’s homages (the name of one Orochi team lead signing off on emails, and the level’s final boss) both threw me for a loop when I stumbled across them.

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zoward

Cool! I read what I thought was the entire Eternal Champion series of Moorcock books back in the day, and never even came across reference to The Chinese Agent.

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Phubarrh

It’s not easy to find, but a lot of fun, particularly where it spoofs Jerry Cornelius. Worth getting a copy if you can.

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Dividion

I’d say it was the Sword of a Thousand Riddles in Moria, which is a play on the Sword of a Thousand Truths from the Make Love, Not Warcraft episode of Southpark. The sword was good enough to be used too.

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thirtymil

Presumably neither is, regrettably, any reference to Tenpole Tudor’s Swords Of A Thousand Men…

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Jeff Mauney

The parrot-head creatures on Buffet Isle in Everquest.

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Bryan Correll

I loved all the Land of the Lost references in WoW’s Un’goro crater.

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zoward

I liked the Link homage in Un’Goro as well (I think it was called “It’s a Secret to Everybody”).

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Pandalulz

There’s an NPC somewhere in FFXIV:ARR’s beginning zones (I can’t remember exactly where) named Ermagard just standing off to a side somewhere. That made me guffaw pretty good.

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A Dad Supreme

For a game that I only played for a total of about a year and a half (off and on), the title of King goes to WoW for pop culture, and it’s not even close to being my favorite MMO.

There were so many gags, jokes and references in WoW from the names of people, music, television, art, history, etc that covered not just the current timeframe (for me back in 2010 the first time) but the past as well. They also did a great job at staying current through the decades with the culture as it grew which no other game could touch.

It’s too difficult to remember which is my favorite because there were so many, but I will say it was one of the things that made WoW a pleasure to level up where most games today are a chore because they are “too serious” or just un-funny when they try those references.

Bobuliss
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Bobuliss

This one’s a little obscure, but it made me laugh pretty hard. There’s a quest in TERA called “Are You a Fan of Delicious Flavor?” which is a reference to an amazing line in the Psych episode “Psy vs. Psy.” Psych is one of my all-time favorite shows, so I was quite pleased when I started that quest. I seriously cannot wait for the Psych movie coming later this year.

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N Camico

FFXIV Quest and FATE names are amazing, and cut really deep sometimes.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to explain the source for “The Diabolical Bismarck”

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Jay Madison

Notorious Biggs was one of my favorite quest names too.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i used to be fond of the star trek references in wow tbc. mostly i’ve grown sick of pop culture references in this genre and in games in general. usually they don’t age well at all and end up dating a game pretty quickly. i mean look at wow cata content – it’s like walking through a graveyard of 2010 memes. ><

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Dagget Burmese

FFXIV quest titles and FATES are littered with film and movie references, as well as some NPC’s conversations.

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starbuck1771

Other then all the celebrity and movie character references in WoW & Rift I would have to say the fat Stormtrooper in SWG.

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Armsbend

Blizzard is the best at it. GTL – Gamblin’, Tinkerin’, Laundry.

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