Many of the expansion items were suggested by fans. Before the Huntsman was released, there had been a 40+ page thread discussing a bow and arrow for the Sniper on the official forums. The most requested ones were the Heavy's Sandvich and the Scout's Bonk! Atomic Punch. The Spy's Dead Ringer (cloak and leave behind a corpse) was actually programmed in on some fan-altered servers before Valve implemented the idea into the regular game.
And for those that weren't implemented into the game, they live on in the Advanced Weaponiser mod.
Several of the hats, such as the Scout's Bonk Helmet and the Pyro's Brigade Helmet, were originally created by a group of highly talented modelers whom Valve took interest in. Although Valve had already planned to include similar hats in future updates, they liked them so much that they based their versions off the custom models.
The King of the Hill gameplay mode was originally a custom mod done by the No Heroes TF2 community before Valve implemented a slightly modified version as an official gameplay mode.
Similarly, the Payload mode is based on the fan-made map Happycow.
Valve has also opened a submission site for custom avatars and items.
As of the Über update, the fan terms "Demoknight" and "Pocket Medic" have been accepted into canon.
The fan-speculation about the Pyro's actual gender has been lampshaded. Two issues later, it gets poked at again. The Pyro from Team Fortress Classic is a woman.
When fighting him as a boss, Merasmus will do a homage to the Prop Hunt mod and spawn random objects around the map while turning into one himself to hide amongst them at both 50% (one half) and 10% (one tenth) of his HP. Once he's discovered, he'll immediately turn back to normal and attack the player who revealed him.
The Horseless Headless Horsemann and the other Halloween bosses were directly inspired by the fan-made Versus Saxton Hale Mode. When it was first released, the HHH was even advertised as TF2's first boss monster.
Casting Gag: The voiced characters in the game's Halloween maps (Merasmus, The Bombinomicon, Redmond, Blutarch, and Zepheniah Mann) were all played by Nolan North, whose birthday falls on Halloween.
The Danza: The Administrator is named for her voice actress. ("Helen" and "Ellen" sound almost identical in most dialects of English).
Defictionalization: Archimedes, the Spycrab, and Balloonicorn exist as real-life merchandise. There's also a foam version of the Engineer's wrench and a plush sticky bomb (in both colors, no less).
Deleted Scene: In the "Blood in the Water" supplemental comic, there was this extended version of the scene with Sniper, Demoman, and Pauling.
The game itself took nine years to finish, having gone through multiple concepts and artstyles before settling on the final product's theme.
The second half of the Meet The Team videos (Sniper, Sandvich, Spy, Medic, and Pyro); the other five classes had been released relatively early on, but then it took a year to finish both Sniper and Sandvich, another year for Spy, another 2 just to do Medic's, and another year for Pyro.
The Jungle Inferno update ended up providing the longest content drought in the game's history. It was originally announced (to some degree) at July 2016 before going through more than a year of development, with it eventually being released on October 20th, 2017. The sheer length of Jungle Inferno's creation process resulted in the annual Scream Fortress and Smissmass updates being skipped over for 2016, as Valve was simply too busy to spend time towards them. This, in turn, led to fears that Valve had quietly abandoned any further big updates to the game in the wake of the popularity of Overwatch.
Doing It for the Art: The amount of detail put into the games' artwork is amazing, down to things you might not even notice, like how every class has a unique set of teeth. Most notable are Sniper's pointy canines and Scout's buck teeth.
Extremely Lengthy Creation: It took Valve nine years to make and were close to spending ten on it. The devs were working on Team Fortress 2 after they made Team Fortress Classic. Then they became part of Valve and started working on a Goldsource version, then constantly changed everything around until they released it in 2007.
Fake Nationality: None of the characters is of the same nationality and region as their voice actor, except maybe the Pyro.
Chet Falizek, writer: We wanted to make it sound like what Americans in the '60s would have imagined these people sounded like, not what they actually sounded like.
The original name for a Demo with the Targe and the Eyelander was called "The Close Combat Kit", but fans called them "Demoknights" since it sounded better. Then, with the Uber Update, a weapon set gets released for Demoman that focuses on melee only and was named "One Thousand and One Demoknights"
One of the Soldier's unlockable launchers, the Black Box, is often referred to as the Crutch Box or Bad Box due to it restoring up to 20 health points every time you deal damage with it.
Soldier's first launcher unlock, The Direct Hit, is also known as the Direct Miss and the Direct Shit because it has a nearly non-existent blast radius and requires more careful aim, and most of its users totally forget that and treat it as a hitscan weapon without leading their shots properly. That these players are usually only able to hit things with it at extremely close range means it has selectively been dubbed "The Best Melee Weapon In The Game" as well.
The Rocket Jumper, Mantreads, and Market Gardener loadout has been dubbed the "Trolldier" loadout, and using it is referred to as "trolldiering". While complicated to use, the Market Gardener can kill 7 of the 9 classes at full health with one hit if done correctly, often leading to rage from those who fall victim to it (hence the name).
Pyroes who do nothing but swim around in a body of water and hit people with the Neon Annihilator are dubbed Pyrosharks.
The Sniper's unlockable Huntsman is commonly called the Lucksman, as the arrow has a weirdly large hitbox that causes it to land hits more often than it should appear to. For these reasons, some also affectionately call it the Cuntsman.
'Shpee', often used as a derogative term to people who love playing Spy despite not having a remote clue how to Spy effectively. Similarly, 'Hoovy', used to denote friendly Heavies who don't fight and just give sandwiches to everyone.
Follow the Leader: In and around May of 2017, there had been a rash of TF2 videos on YouTube about extra-long maps such TuFort or Hightower, taking things such as Hightower's height and stretching it out to ridiculous degrees. While some think these maps are fun (and based on maps where people don't actually play for the objective) others see these as dumb gimmicks .
God Never Said That: It's commonly believed that every member of 1850's BLU team is a notable historical figure, but official artist makani clarifies that the Medic and Soldier are not intended to be Sigmund Freud and Stonewall Jackson.
I Knew It!: Some people saved up a lot of duplicate weapons, in case the Polycount weapons had specific blueprints. They did.
In Memoriam: The 28 March 2018 update adds an attribute to the Axtinguisher named "Sketchek's Bequest", named after legendary Pyro main Sketcheknote or, more fittingly, the final video on his channel. To this day, he is remembered in the TF2 community for his incredible Axtinguisher tricks.
Long-Runners: The game was released in 2007 and it is still getting constant updates every year with new content.
Meme Acknowledgement: Many players and forum posters pointed out at the first reveal of Saxton Hale that his name could be unintentionally rearranged into a very NSFW search term. This did not go unnoticed by the team — in the Mann-Conomy Update, new Internet user Hale mentions that "the perverts at AnagramYourName.com should be ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES", and implies that he's either sued them out of existence or had them killed.
Model Dissonance: When characters' heads explode or are removed, their heads actually simply shrink down to a size of 0, naking it appear as though their heads are gone... as long as you dont look at it after all the blood is done shooting out.
Official Fan-Submitted Content: Many maps, cosmetics, and weapons are community made. Contributors will receive a cut of the profits made from their item being sold on the Mann Co. storenote Since maps aren't purchasable, mapmakers instead have a map stamp put in the store; all proceeds from stamps go straight to the mapmakers, and contributors of weapons or hats will receive a one-of-a-kind Self Made quality item.
The Other Darrin: Due to Grant Goodeve being unavailable at the time, in Expiration Date the Engineer is voiced by Nolan North. Goodeve still puts in an appearance via archived audio
North also did the Soldier's memetic line "I TELEPORTED BREAD!", as it was too high for Rick May to do due to the latter's throat cancer.
Big Name Fan Makani posted her version of the (as of then unseen) Administrator, and the folks at Valve liked it enough to buy it off her and hire her for other official art and comics.
As of the fully community created Robot Boogaloo update Valve promises a lot more of this.
Tony Paloma (AKA Drunken F00l), creator of the immensely popular SourceOP plugin and the infamous idling program, as well as (unjust) crafter of a Golden Wrench. He ended up being VAC-banned. Fast-forward to present day: Tony is now working for the TF2 team, after being hired by Valve one summer.
The Minttu also counts, as she was asked to draw the "True Meaning" comic after several years of posting Team Fortress 2 fanart online.
The unofficial Team Fortress 2 wiki is now the officialTF2 wiki, as of June 30, 2010. It is now being hosted entirely on Valve's dime.
Noticeable in the interior of some maps are a pair of extension cords that go from one wall and plug into an adjacent wall. Playing PropHunt in different maps allows the player to notice familiar-looking props.
For Heavy's Table Tantrum taunt, the baguette appears to be reused, though the can of sardines uses the same model (but different textures) as the bread ration.
The trope is averted with promotional items (even items that appear in another Valve title such as Bill's Hat), as new models are created to fit the style of the game.
Most prop hunt maps plays a snippet of Chesney Hawke's The One and Only when there is only one prop left.
A snippet of Kohmi Hirose's Promise (aka geddan) plays at the start of many Balloon Race maps.
In an official version of the trope: The Lovin' Spoonful's Do You Believe in Magic was featured prominently in the Pyroland machinima.
Recycled Soundtrack: That bagpipe number that plays when the gate opens in DeGroot Keep? It was originally played as the victory tune of the British team in Day Of Defeat, an early and lesser known Valve game.
The theme for Kazotsky Kick? Well, that's actually a radio song in CSGO's de_train.
Notably, the 119th Update was supposed to be the 100th Update.
"It's been a busy afternoon here iterating, polishing and playtesting a blog post to commemorate Team Fortress' one hundredth update. As often happens, we emerged from thirty minutes of Valve Time, covered with bed sores and sporting full beards, to discover weeks had passed. While we were out, somebody here shipped 19 more updates originally scheduled for release in 2008."
The seven-issue Mann Co. No More comic series was initially advertised as Bi-Monthly, meaning the issues would be released over the course of one year. In about one year's time, there have only been three issues released. This was hilariously lampshaded in the second issue's blog post, where the Valve team claimed to have spent the extra time between issues debating what 'Bi-Monthly' actually meant. This is taken to the extreme when they claim that Issue #4 is a 6 months early annual comic. Issue #6 was right up there with Half Life 3 as Valve's most delayed product, taking a total of 17 months to finish.
In recent years, it's taking longer and longer for the TFTeam to push out major updates. There were about 7 months between the Tough Break update (December 2015) and the Meet Your Match update (July 2016), and 10 months between Jungle Inferno and the update that came before itnote The relatively small Smissmass 2016; if one discounts both holiday updates, that makes 15 months between Inferno and MYM. Furthermore, 2018 was the only year that contained one major content update, which was the annual Scream Fortress; even then, it only contained a small handful of community-made maps and enabled Holiday Mode on official Valve serversnote The only year that had less major updates was 2007, but TF2 was publicly released near the end of 2007, so it gets a pass.
Talking to Himself: The Heavy and the Demoman share the same voice actor, while the Spy and the Pyro share another. Merasmus and Bombnomicon also have the same voice actor too.
Another Halloween update dialed it up even further, with a three way argument between Blutarch, Redmond, and Zephian Mann all shouting at each other and all voiced by Nolan North.
Troubled Production: The Invasion update was plagued by issues with making the update page, vicious arguments over revenue, leaked emails that split the fan base in two and constant delays due to fixing a map.
The game itself underwent many, many, MANY different iterations before the development team settled on the current gameplay and visual design. (For example, it was originally pitched as a combination FPS/RTS with a realistic art style, with a class specializing in commanding the other units around somehow.)
There were a few items and weapons that were scrapped during development. There was a tranquilizer gun for the Spy and the Scout was originally given the Sniper's SMG. The Scout was also planned on getting a nail gun which would have behaved similarly to the Medic's syringe gun. There was an item for the Engineer called the "repair node" which was also scrapped.
Character design similarly had a lot of changes:
The Heavy once had a mullet.
The Medic, Engineer, and Spy wore their class badges on armbands.
The Scout's apparent age and toughness bounced all over the place.
The Demoman was just plain stereotypical Scottish (kilt and all).
The Soldier looked more like he actually fought in the army.
Another original idea was to have the game's art style looking similar to stop-motion animation or "claymation". This idea later led to the animation style the current game has.
There were a few more ideas for Meet the Medic which didn't make it in due to killing the pacing and/or it not really meshing with The Verse's general aesthetic (BLU Spy's still living severed head is a nod to one of the scrapped ideas). Finally, they settled on THE iconic image (a Medic ÜberCharging a Heavy) and built the story around that.
Meet the Sandvich had many scrapped lines. Some of which are:
Scout: Give me back my leg bone! *whack* Don't hit me with it!
Soldier: You cannot hurt me! Pain does not hurt! *crack* I stand corrected!
Scout: He's like a bear! He's like a big, shaved bear that hates people!
When thinking of what song in "Meet the Pyro" to play in Pyroland, one suggestion was Tiny Tim's "Living in the Sunlight, Loving in the Moonlight"—a song probably best known nowadays for its use in the Spongebob Squarepants pilot.
Grenades in the style of Team Fortress Classic were almost implemented in the final version of Team Fortress 2, but were taken out, due to the imbalance they posed. The only remnants are the cosmetic items on the Soldier's, Demoman's, and Pyro's sash and two concepts, the Bear Trap and the Frag Grenade, that appear on the back shelves of Upgrade Stations.
The Buffalo Steak Sandvich was originally going to be a cactus, specifically peyote. It was changed to steak due to being part of Hibernating Bear set (which includes the Big Chief, an Native American feathered war bonnet), since Valve sensed there would be Unfortunate Implications about the Heavy going on a killing spree while dressing as an Indian high on a hallucinogenic cactus.
Supposedly, Expiration Date was part of a scrapped plan with [adult swim] to create a TF2 cartoon (hence the various "Adult Swim" related promotional items before that). It was the second episode produced, with the first simply being a compilation of the "Meet the Team" videos to introduce the main characters to people unfamiliar with the game. The idea was canned due to Valve's infamous Schedule Slips.
Drew Wolf, a former artist at Valve, has revealed concept art of female variations on each of the nine classes (except Pyro), as part of "an internal pitch project aimed to bring female characters to the cast of Team Fortress 2". Of course, nothing came of it.
Badwater Basin and Borneo are real places that exist in real life. The former is a location in the Death Valley region of California, and the latter is an island in Southeast Asia.
Some classes are known smokers: the Spy and the Soldier. This increases to 6 with some hats (to be exact, the classes are the Demoman, the Sniper, the Spy, the Soldier, the Medic, and most recently the Heavy). The Pyro carries a lighter and matches, but for reallydifferentreasons.
When the Engineer is gibbed with the Gunslinger equipped, his right hand will still be the normal gloved hand.
Similarly, if a player wearing an unlockable hat is gibbed, the regular hat gib may still spawn.
Engineers can have both the Short Circuit, a replacement for the Engineer's arm equipped, and the Gunslinger, a replacement for the Engineer's arm equipped. Neither one fits into the other.
The Horseless Headless Horsemann's Head and the Saxton Hale Mask have an unspecified bonus. Specifically, they protect against the Horsemann's Scare taunt.
The Horseless Headless Horsemann doesn't do damage in the normal way. His attacks are treated as environmental kills, much like getting run-over by a train in other maps or falling down a pit. You can see this if you look at the console after he kills people. The coding for such a death, Horsemann's axe included, hits you for twice your current health; this prevents his attacks from being survivable in most normal ways.
According to his YouTube channel, Nathan Vetterlein (voice of the Scout) claims he's actually terrible at Scout, and prefers to play Heavy.
During one of his many Twitch streams, he mentioned that he reinacts a scene from DieHard to warm up for his Scout voice, basing the Boston-accent voice on John McClane.
The boolit the Heavy holds up near the end of "Meet the Heavy" is a 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge; the same kind of ammo used in the AK-47 family which, like the Heavy, also hails from the Soviet Union.
According to an IC Interview with John Patrick Lowrie, the Sniper's first three girlfriends were sheep. He likes sheep. He doesn't like people. So he switched from shooting sheep to shooting people. Also, you can wash your car with a sheep after the date, which builds a special kind of bond.
The Sniper also rather likes Bangkok prostitutes, because he can fit 57 cheap little Bangkok prostitutes in his mobile home.
Demo's Grenade Launcher has 6 barrels, but only holds 4 grenades. This is because Grenade launcher originally had 6 grenades per clip but it was reduced to 4 at some point before the game's release. The default Grenade Launcher weapon model has never been changed. Similarly, the Loch-and-Load has 2 barrels but can hold 3 grenades, due to the weapon's clip size receiving a buff.
It's actually the Engineer who is the shortest mercenary at 5'6". Pyro is only second-shortest at 5'9".