7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is by far the largest and most popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game in the world. Developed and published by Blizzard Activision, World of Warcraft has dominated the MMORPG genre from when it was released over a decade ago.

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I have had the pleasure of playing the game for several years now and the game has remained my top favorite for quite some time. 

Not only does the game feel like a massive adventure, but it also has some things that I can relate to outside of the game. There are a lot of these modern-day pop culture references that the game alludes to and we’re about to find out which ones are the best and most popular.

  • Star Wars Reference on May 4th
  • Donkey Kong and Barrels
  • The Genie in Southern Nagrand
  • The Outcast in Stormsong Valley
  • Isle of Giants and its Inhabitants
  • Animal Friends
  • A Strong Heart
7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft
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Star Wars Reference on May 4th

Star Wars has always been one of the most popular sci-fi action-adventure series. It should come as no surprise that fans of World of Warcraft are also fans of the famous galactic saga. 

Both share the same fanbase and are likely to have the same passion when it comes to the games and movies that they support. 

However, it was a great surprise for me while playing World of Warcraft on the day Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released that the game also celebrated the movie by having Stormwind and Orgrimmar guards wield lightsabers in honor of the Jedi knights of Star Wars. 

This once again happened when Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released.

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May the 4th Be With You

People were raving about how the game was able to give a salute to the long-running franchise. I dug deeper into this phenomenon and recently discovered that the game also celebrates Star Wars on May 4th every year as a wordplay from the famous quote “May the Force be with you.” 

This just solidified my love for the game as it was willing to celebrate other genres within the fantasy realm without truly exploiting the fanbase.

Donkey Kong and Barrels

There are a lot of pop culture references scattered all over the world of World of Warcraft. Some might be very popular while others can be quite obscure depending on your knowledge of pop culture

7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft
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One pop culture reference that a lot of new players might not be able to get can be found in the jungles of Un’Goro Crater. On this side of the world, dinosaurs and other reptilian creatures run freely but there is a certain part of the jungle where gorillas reside. 

In this section of the jungle, these gorillas drop a unique item called Empty Barrel. For those uninitiated, this would just be some random drop that would barely have any impact in the game.

Roll the Barrel

However, those who are familiar with the game called Donkey Kong will surely nod in agreement with me that this is one of the best nods to such an iconic game. 

In Donkey Kong, Mario, another popular video game character, was tasked to save Peach and to do so must dodge barrels from Kong himself. Donkey Kong and barrels have always been synonymous with each other as many other Donkey Kong games have barrels as part of their gameplay as well.

The Genie in Southern Nagrand

Draenor is a vast land filled with mystical creatures. The terrain is known to be very dangerous. However, there are some parts of the continent that remain to be discovered. 

7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft
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There is one hidden gem within this beautiful landscape that many Disney fans will surely love. Off the coast of southern Nagrand, I got to meet one of my favorite Disney characters – well, kind of. 

It was here that I met the genie called Robin. If you don’t already know about a genie and the name Robin, you might want to take a look at the original Disney animated movie called Alladin where the late Robin Williams voiced the genie character.

An Iconic Actor

Robin Williams breathed life into the genie character and made it his own. Robin was a great actor who is known for his zany role as Mrs. Doubtfire and a knack for improvisation in his comedy films. 

In Aladdin, the genie was such a fan-favorite character and in honor of the actor that voiced the genie, World of Warcraft cemented itself as a game that honored one of the greatest human beings to have ever lived on this planet.

The Outcast in Stormsong Valley

Stormsong Valley has some of the most interesting characters out of World of Warcraft. I’ve come to notice several characters that have very familiar names in the past but none of them have truly gotten my attention apart from when I encountered Severus the Outcast

7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft
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Many might not be able to recognize this disheveled stranger because of the first name used in the game but if you look outside of the game, you would immediately notice that World of Warcraft had just referenced the popular outcast in the Harry Potter series – Professor Severus Snape.

An Outcast and a Hero

Fans of the Harry Potter series will immediately notice the resemblance of Severus the Outcast to that of Professor Snape. Both are quite the outcast and both share almost the same physical features. 

It is known that Professor Snape has always been an outcast even from early in his life and has remained to be quite the antagonistic figure in the Harry Potter series. 

However, it was later discovered that Snape has always been on the good side playing double agent and has saved Harry’s life countless times.

Isle of Giants and its Inhabitants

The islands surrounding Pandaria are filled with mystery. Some of them remain uncharted but there is one island that fans will immediately notice due to its striking landscape. 

7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft
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The Isle of Giants is inhabited by dangerous dinosaurs and the landscape is filled with large bones. One would think it has a very similar resemblance to a famous setting of a classic and beloved dinosaur series – Jurassic Park.

Dinosaurs and an Island – Coincidence?

I don’t think this is just a coincidence that the devs of World of Warcraft made Isle of Giants off the coast of Pandaria without thinking about Isla Sorna or Isla Nublar from the popular Jurassic Park movies. 

Both islands inhabited large and dangerous dinosaurs and have been the primary setting for many movies. 

Animal Friends

We’ve traveled far and wide from the dangerous isles surrounding Pandaria but something always leads me back to Stormsong Valley. 

7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft
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During one of my expeditions in this popular valley, I’ve come across a very familiar group of animals surrounding a campfire alongside one human named Hunter Robin. 

The animals were called Tiger, Honey Bear, Pig, and Melancholy Mule. If that still does not ring a bell to you, I don’t know what will.

A Heartwarming Sight

If you guessed that these groups are the main characters of Winnie the Pooh, then you guessed it right. All four animals represent the main characters of the animated cartoon series together with their human pal, Christopher Robin. 

The tiger is obviously Tiggr with the Melancholy Mule as Eeyore. Meanwhile, Honey Bear is definitely Winnie with his affinity for honey and, of course, Piglet as the small pig near the bear. 

All of them sit beside the campfire enjoying their company much like in the show where they sat and played with each other.

A Strong Heart

By level 120, players will get to encounter a quest called A Strong Heart. 

7 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft
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In this quest, I get to resuscitate Gelbin Mekkatorque using the Spark Reactor and save his life. Many fans of the game might think this is just a simple quest but hardcore Marvel fans might beg to differ. 

The quest resembles the challenges of the early days of Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man.

Hero with a Heart

In the origin story of Iron Man, Tony Stark needed to keep shrapnel from his chest by using the Arc Reactor. This would soon become an iconic symbol for Iron Man himself as it is also used to power his armor suit so he can become the hero that he is known as. 

The same also happens for Gelbin Mekkatorque in World of Warcraft as he survives the ordeal with the help of the Spark Reactor. While he doesn’t become a superhero like Iron Man, he does have the glowing artifact on his chest much like Iron Man.

Conclusion

For many years now, it has been a joy to seek out many pop culture references while playing World of Warcraft especially when new territory is unveiled. 

Activision-Blizzard’s popular MMORPG is a cultural phenomenon in itself but having these hints and Easter Eggs make the game more fun to play. There’s still a lot more of these pop culture references waiting to be discovered in the game so check them out.