Alternative Character Interpretation: A big part of Morrowind's appeal. There's lots of debate (In-Universe and out) about how responsible Dagoth Ur was for his crimes, about the Tribunal gods, and about who of them murdered Nerevar. The debates rage on to this very day.
Alt Itis: Unsurprisingly common with all of the character creation and gameplay build options available. Creating one character capable of completing everything in the game is quite challenging, and, due to only being able to join one Great House, technically impossible. Expect to see players with multiple save files. This trend is usually called "Restartitus" on the official forums.
Crazy Awesome: Divayth Fyr is considered this by most Morrowind fans, due to him being a 4,000 year old wizard, collector of Dwemer artifacts, and slightly crazy genius who surrounds himself with opposite-sex clone wife/daughters, diseased zombie-esque maniacs and the last living dwarf. He would even become the unofficial mascot of the Elder Scrolls lore community for a time.
Daedroths have a ranged Poison-spell attack and dish out hard physical hits in close combat. They are one of the more dreaded Daedric foes to run into.
Dremora Lords have a ranged Fireball-spell attack and hit hard with Ebony or Daedric weapons. They also look identical to standard Dremora until they raise their hands to cast said Fireballs.
Greater Bonewalkers are an mid-tier Undead enemy, but aren't particularly difficult in a straight fight. What makes them "Demonic," however, is their That One Attack - a "Damage Strength" spell. Unlike a "Drained" attribute, a "Damaged" attribute won't heal on its own, forcing you to use a restorative item or find a Temple/Imperial Cult shrine. It is incredibly frustrating to encounter a Greater Bonewalker only to have him damage your Strength so much that you have to drop half your inventory (as Strength dictates your carrying capacity) and flee back to civilization to heal.
Top-tier Dark Brotherhood assassins. They come in pair and attack with Adamantium (a high tier Fantasy Metal added by Tribunal) swords enchanted with Poison and Paralyze spells "on strike." Even if you're resistant or immune to Poison (which depending on your race, is easy to accomplish), the Paralysis effect can leave you as a sitting duck in the middle of battle with two strong foes, with your only hope being that their blades run out of enchantment before you die.
Almalexia. Not particularly surprising with her being a red-headed, gold-skinned, Stripperificliteralgodess. Her appearance as a Quest Giver and one of the leaders of the Ebonheart Pact in Online has brought new growth for her in this regard.
Jiub. His badass appearance, the fact that he is the first character players encounter, the fact that he is a fellow prison-ship prisoner along with the player, and his friendliness all make him very popular with fans, despite only having a few lines before being put... or rather, kept on a boat. There are more than a few mods that bring him back and add quests centered around him. Later, in Oblivion, there is a mention of him having been canonized as a Saint for ridding Vvardenfell of all Cliff Racers. Finally, in the Dawnguard expansion to Skyrim, he returns in person. The player can encounter Jiub while wandering the Soul Cairn, where soul trapped individuals eventually end up; as it turns out, Jiub was in Kvatch just in time for the Oblivion Crisis, and his soul was captured by an invading dremora. Although initially somewhat oblivious to his true fate, he asks the player to collect pages from the first part of his epic twenty-six volume Opus, The Rise and Fall of Saint Jiub the Eradicator Hero of Morrowind and Savior of the Dunmer.
A loosely hinted-at in-game explanation for the lack of character schedules is that one of the early symptoms of the corpus disease is insomnia. This means that everyone on Vvardenfell is infected, and with Tribunal it's spread to the mainland (despite the travel ban) and with Bloodmoon it's already spread to Solstheim, so perhaps even Skyrim is endangered.
A bit of Fridge horror (but possibly satisfying considering he tried getting you killed) for King Helseth. Remember how all mention of him simply dropped off after Oblivion? In Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC, it was noted that House Hlaalu was purged after the Oblivion Crisis because their Imperial supporters had bailed on them to protect Cyrodil during said crisis. King Helseth was in House Hlaalu, meaning he was most likely Unpersoned from Morrowind history (most likely after being executed).
Players can brew potions. These potions are more effective depending on how high the player's Intelligence stat is. However it is possible to brew Intelligence-enhancing potions with dirt-common ingredients. The Intelligence buff you get from that can then be used to brew even more powerful Intelligence potions, which can be used to brew yet more powerful Intelligence-enhancing potions. This can go on as long as you have enough ingredients (and as noted, the ingredients are very common.) When your Intelligence stat has reached the desired level of godliness, go ahead and brew whatever over-powered mega-potions you want—from Restore Health 9999 Points on Self for 9999999 seconds to 100% Sanctuary on self for 999999 seconds to Immunity to Magicka/Frost/Fire/Shock/Poison/Normal Weapons on Self for 99999 seconds. Creating a potion of Fortify Agility will mean enemies will always miss and you will always hit, although you can still be hit by magic.
The Corprus Disease. The effects of the disease boost your strength and endurance, but drains a host of other attributes. Both gains and losses from this are cumulative over time, meaning that if you go to sleep for a year, you'll have 0 in the drained attributes, but a strength and endurance in the hundreds. When you finish the relevant quest, only the drain is removed.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While the game is generally well received in the Americas and Europe, it was very beloved in Japan. So much so that one of the most popular mods for the game is a Japanese translation. This is despite the game never getting an official release in Japan. Fortunately Bethesda paid attention and made a Japanese release of Oblivion.
Cliff Racers, perhaps the most annoying foes in video game history. They make an irritating sound, do little damage, make you flinch when they hit you, drop crappy loot, and come in flocks of three to ten. And once they see you, they won't stop following you unless they get stuck in a tree. They haven't figured out doorknobs, but if you go in a door with some following you, they'll be waiting for you when you come back out. And since they fly, they can swoop down to annoy you from any angle. And their hit detection leaves a lot to be desired. To make matters worse, they're also very capable of infecting the player with a disease. When Jiub shows up in later games, he's mentioned as having wiped out their entire population. Good riddance.
Slaughterfish are the watery equivalents: the player needs to barely dip their toe in the water, and it'll be snapped out by a ravenous hungry piranha. It is almost impossible to enter any river, lake, or sea, without the battle music starting and soon getting swarmed. Thankfully, much less of the game is spent in the waters, they die easier than cliff racers, and of course can't follow to the land, leading into them being rather overshadowed by their flying cousins - but in any other game, they would still be the worst enemy ever.
Thankfully, neither Cliff Racers nor Slaughterfish spawn anywhere near Solstheim (although a single cliff racer appears as a stuffed trophy in the Skaal village), making the Bloodmoon expansion a refreshing breather from the rest of the game. Of course, the expansion does have its own over-abundance of Wolves and Tusked Bristlebacks, but at least they're easier to pick off than the other two, if only because they neither fly nor swim.
Some of the Ash creatures have vigorous running animations, but the creatures actually move slowly. This leads to an effect that looks like slow-motion running, a la Baywatch.
Because potion effects stack, if you drink two sujammas, your Intelligence attribute will be drained entirely, but once the effect wears off, your magicka reserve will be restored entirely.
The Soultrap spell has a glitch that, if combined with another spell effect, will make the latter permanent. This can allow you to create entire armies of summoned creatures that never disappear, and can allow you to max out your stats to god-like levels. All without worrying about the effects running out.
Draining and/or damaging a skill's level before getting it trained will have the trainer treat that stat as is, allowing you to level a skill to 100 with any trainer and cheaply too. Of course this also means if you fortify a skill, it'll cost more to level for no reason.
Growing the Beard: While it traded away some of the size of the open world, Morrowind made it far more focused, giving it much greater content density, with defined geography and distinct towns/dungeons/villages (as opposed to the randomly-generated terrain and countless generic cities of Arena and Daggerfall) and characters that are fleshed out instead of being nameless masses like the first two titles. It also made the plot much more freeform compared to Arena and Daggerfall.
Between the sparsely populated environments, arid wastelands, limited transportation, massive insects, abandoned futuristic-looking facilities that are infested with centuries-old robots, and the many horribly mutated creatures encountered throughout the land, this game is practically a precursor to Bethesda's run on the Fallout series.
Hype Backlash: Not so much back when the game was first released, but later from fans of the series who started with Oblivion or Skyrim and then went back to try to play Morrowind. Most heard veterans of the series (particularly on the official forums) hyping the game up but were underwhelmed when they went back to play it in comparison to the newer games. Most of the complaints were toward the obtuse quests (Morrowind laughs at your desire for quest markers), dice-roll oriented combat system, and graphics which look rather outdated by the standards of later games. Luckily, at least for those who complain about the combat and graphics, there are Game Mod solutions. (most notably, the Morroblivion total conversion makes the combat more like Oblivion's and the Morrowind Graphics Overhaul, with over a quarter of million downloads, which significantly improves the quality of the graphics.)
Inferred Holocaust: The Ministry of Truth, formerly a rogue moon hurled at Vivec city by Sheogorath before it was hollowed out for use by the Tribunal Temple, is suspended over the city and only held in check by Vivec's divine power. As a result of the player's actions at the end of the main quest, Vivec's connection to his divine power source is severed. Confirmed in the later works The Infernal City and Skyrim, which reveal that the moon resumed its fall with its original momentum after Vivec disappears early in the 4th era, and other methods for keeping the moon in place fail. Much of Vvardenfell is destroyed and rendered inhospitable. Red Mountain then erupted, blanketing the rest of Morrowind in choking ash. Finally, sensing their long-time enemy's weakness, the Argonians invaded and drove the few remaining Dunmer out.
It's Popular, Now It Sucks: Prior to Oblivion coming out, it was Morrowind that was considered to be "the symbol of all the bad trends in the industry" by the Vocal Minority of "hardcore" fans. And mostly for the alleged reason of "dumbing down" for console players. Ironically since then, it is now considered the last goodElder Scrolls game by mostly the same crowd.
Azura. Simply put, the entire plot of the game happens according to her plan. Even if you take the "Backpath" method of completing the main quest, which can get you out of working with every other party including the Empire and Vivec, she will still benefit.
King Hlaalu Helseth. Fail to capture the throne of Wayrest during the events of Daggerfall? He returns to his mother's homeland and captures the throne there. The former King Llethan is old and weak? Helseth poisons him and usurps his throne, killing Llethan's chosen heir in the process. Some "Nerevarine" character is making news in Vvardenfell? He sends the Dark Brotherhood to kill the Nerevarine. When that fails, Helseth gets the Nerevarine to work for him. The in-game book A Game at Dinner also provides a great example, in which Helseth roots out a spy.
Memetic Molester: Crassius Curio. How he speaks, what he writes... Just everything about him screams this, really.
The Ordinators are watching you, scum, and until you join the Temple to improve their disposition to you, they will remind you of the fact whenever you're within earshot.
When you're escorting the Ahemmusa Wise Woman... "hey, wait for me. Hey, wait for me. Hey, wait for me. Hey, wait for me. Hey, wait for me. Hey, wait for me! Hey, wait for me!" This easily puts her on the same level as the guards shouting "HALT! HALT! HALT! HALT! HALT! HALT!" in Daggerfall...
Cliff. Racers. "Caw caw! <wing flap>! Caw caw! <wing flap>!" And they are everywhere.
Nightmare Retardant: After the parade of horrors that are the ash creatures (especially the Ascended Sleepers,) the Ash Vampires, Dagoth Ur's most powerful servants, look like very muscly guys with square ancient Persian beards wearing nothing but a tiny loincloth. Suffice to say, not very intimidating.
Nostalgia Filter: For much of the current Elder Scrolls fanbase, this was their first game in the series, and as such, it tends to be held up as the gold standard of the entire franchise. Roughly more than half of the criticisms leveled at Oblivion and Skyrim boil down to "it's not like Morrowind."
Padding: Unless you mod or cheat to get around more quickly, you'll spend a lot of time walking. It doesn't help that the default walking speed is slower than an arthritic senior with a walker.
Some fans see Dagoth Ur as a misunderstood good guy who just wants to free his people from the exploitative foreign Empire. It helps that a huge chunk of his backstory is about how he was betrayed by his supposedly-good best friend. Mind you, this was after Dagoth decided he wanted to use the artifacts of doom he and Nerevar initially set out to destroy for personal power.
Gaenor doesn't really have any fans, mainly because he'll end up hating you no matter how you deal with him, and because he'll later return with good gear and a high Luck attribute, making him extremely difficult to beat using regular combat methods.
Spell reflection if you're a magic-oriented character. Many enemies in the game will randomly throw your powerful destruction spell right back at you - which, considering the likely power of your spells combined with your own squishiness, is more than likely to kill you outright. Gets absolutely ridiculous, to the point of being unplayable, in the expansions. Further complicating matters is that any enemy with even a small percentage of spell reflection can cause this to happen due to how the mechanic works. For example, an enemy with 10% Reflect doesn't reflect 10% of your damage back at you, which would be more tolerable. It means that enemy has a 10% chance to reflect the entire force of your spell back at you. Even low to mid-tier enemies like Ash Ghouls and Atronachs have at least a 20% Reflect.
The Imperial Legion's fixation on uniforms. When you first join, you're given an Imperial Chain Cuirass as your uniform that you HAVE to wear if you want to talk to anyone in the Legion. As you advance through the ranks, you'll be given additional armor pieces and increasingly better cuirasses up to the mighty Lord's Mail, which is one of the best armor pieces in the game. Until then though, you're forced to carry around least one Imperial-type cuirass with you (as you'll most likely find much better armor rather quickly) and if you make the mistake of talking to anyone in the Legion without wearing it, you'll be curtly informed that you're out of uniform (which will cut off further communication) and suffer a small disposition loss with that person. Note that this will even extend to any fellow soldiers you're sent to rescue, who apparently care more about the Legion's dress policies than they do about being saved from murderous Daedra worshippers or bandits. The Legion is also the only faction in the game that has this mechanic, making it seem even more out of place.
Having to wait several days between quests for the East Empire Company in Bloodmoon. While it makes sense in-universe in that construction on the colony is ongoing between assignments becoming available (and those assignments are usually you removing issues that were holding up construction,) it unfortunately allows all of Solstheim's vicious and plentiful wildlife to respawn during that time. The lack of fast travel across much of the island means you'll be battling the same packs of wolves and hordes of Riekling Raiders every time you cross the same track of wilderness. While not overly challenging to a high-level character, they do wear out your equipment and greatly slow your traveling speed.
Stamina drains as you run and the more Stamina you lose, the more often tasks you perform fail. This leads to players having a hard time dealing with anything after running a short distance, including battle, unlocking things, and bartering.
The lack of the series standard fast travel. Instead of going to a waypoint when you're outside and safe, you pay for travel services from one city to another. This makes traveling into the countryside very tiresome, especially when you're trying to find the Ashlander camps or your House manor (which do not have fast travel services available).
The beast races (Khajiit and Argonians) not being able to wear boots or full helms. This cuts them off from using some of the best equipment in the game, like the Boots of the Apostle (legendary Light Armor boots with a Levitation enchantment) and Masque of Clavicus Vile (a legendary Heavy Armor full helm with a massive Fortify Personality enchantment). The game does Justify it as each race has non-humanoid feet and snouts too long to fit under helmets, but it is extremely unpopular nonetheless. (All future games in the series changed it to allow these races to wear any boots or helmets available.)
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: By modern standards, it's hard to believe that Morrowind, with its obtuse quests, cumbersome map, lack of NPC AI, and Nintendo 64-era graphics, was cutting-edge at its time.
The silt strider is a gigantic arthropod used as a means of public transport throughout Vvardenfell. A bit odd so far, but not too out of place for the setting. However, in order to allow for passengers, cargo, and of course the driver, parts of the creature's shell are hollowed out. The driver then controls the strider by DIRECTLY MANIPULATING THE CREATURE'S INTERNAL ORGANS. Fortunately the silt strider doesn't seem to mind.
Everything dear old Uncle Crassius says, sweetie.
The condition that people born under the sign of The Atronach suffer from that makes it impossible to regenerate Magicka is called... Wombburn.
That One Attack: Greater Bonewalkers have an infuriating "damage attribute" spell. Note that says "damage" and not "drain." "Drained" attributes will go back to normal once the spell wears off. "Damaged" attributes will stick with you until you heal them with a temple blessing or potion. It's incredibly frustrating to encounter a Greater Bonewalker halfway through a difficult dungeon only to have him damage your strength attribute so much that you are forced to dump half your inventory (strength determines how much you can carry) in order to flee back to civilization to heal.
Gaenor. He reflects almost all damage from magic spells and mundane weapons due to having an insanely high leveled Luck. And no, there is not a puzzle to get around it. You just have to have a hell of a lot of Hit Points while you pummel this heavily-armored highly-agile guy until he falls over and dies. He starts as an NPC, but if you speak to him for any reason, he'll eventually come back in ebony armor. Fortunately, he's easy to avoid if you know to do so.
Gedna Relvel from the Tribunal "Crimson Plague" side questline. What starts with killing some diseased rats and delivering a potion ends with you needing to defeat Gedna, a monstrously powerful lich. She's capable of flinging a very powerful area of effect spell, is immune or resistant to every from of Destruction magic, and quickly regenerates lost Health, Magicka, and Fatigue. Worse, she's supposed to have Health equal to 100x the player's current level, but due to a programming error, she has 800x that amount, making her virtually unkillable at higher levels. And what do you get for killing this notorious Damage-Sponge Boss? Her enchanted Robe of the Lich (which deals 600 damage to you as soon as you put it on) and a once-per-day spell that restores a small amount of Health, Fatigue, and cures Common Disease (which, if you've gotten far enough in the main game's main quest, you're immune to anyway.)
Finding all of the "Threads of the Webspinner," 26 items in all. Of them, 17 are either on NPCs you are assigned to kill / their guards (or in one case, given to you) by the same quest giver, but a few require you to kill random peaceful NPCs that have no indication that they even have one of the items or NPCs in out-of-the-way dungeons that have no quest at all related to them. Your reward? A mixed Chameleon/Fortify Attack spell that never fails and uses less magicka than a custom spell with the same effects would cost. Not terrible, but not really worth the time and effort this quest entails. The kicker? Before Tribunal, the spell had a different effect and was the only source of the Fortify Skill effect, which gave the quest some significance.
Acquiring Eltonbrand. First, it requires you to acquire Goldbrand as part of an obscure quest that you are extremely unlikely to find on your own. (The one person in the game who tells you about it isn't exactly trustworthy and even then, his directions are bad, leading you to swimming around in the ocean further south than you need to.) Then, you get directions from Boethiah to find a sculptor to rebuild the shrine. If you manage to do that, then wait the two in-game weeks required for the statue to be built, you can finally claim Goldbrand. To upgrade it into Eltonbrand, you need to become a vampire (something most players of the game may not even realize is in the game for many, many hours) and perform a specific quest with a specific amount of gold in your inventory. THEN you get Eltonbrand. Complicated and near impossible to find on your own, but very worth it.
The Mournhold Museum of Artifacts. While filling it up is quite enjoyable and well worth it, finding all of the artifacts can not only take most of your playthrough, but some of them can be missed, including a shield you can only get as a vampire. Plus once you donate something, you'll have to steal it back if you ever want it back again.
Ugly Cute: Scribs, which are baby kwama. They look like a mix between a pillbug and a chestburster from Alien, but they're still positively adorable. The fact that they're the most passive animals in the whole game, that they're no bigger than a Pomeranian, and they make the most innocent-sounding squeals when idle just makes you want to have one for a pet. And Bethesda must have been aware of this, since the Tribunal expansion actually lets you buy one while you're in Mournhold (even if you can't take it with you back to Vvardenfell), and they can also be purchased in The Elder Scrolls Online.
In audio form. In various Sixth House enclaves, shrines, and lairs there's a set of bells that the player can ring. There's only half a note difference — instead of the intuitive whole note — so something sounds wrong and unsettling about the noise they produce.
Argonians and Khajiits walk like they broke their ankles. Everyone else walks like they have a stick up their ass (a pretty blazin' stick, though). Their jaws flap in a really weird way when they talk...
The Bull Netch can be this, once you realize they have faces!