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  • Acting for Two: Many voice actors (both original and abroad) voiced several characters in the game, sometimes withing the same expansion. This page might help spotting them.
  • Ascended Fanon:
    • Before the new Alliance race was announced for The Burning Crusade, a supposed "leak" said it would be the people of Gilneas, transformed by the crazed wizard Arugal into bestial worgen. The new race was actually the draenei, but two expansions later we did get worgen... with a similar origin story as the faked leak. The leak may have also been real, as the draenei were a semi-hasty replacement for Alliance pandaren of all things (scrapped for having no reason to fight the Horde or go to Outland).
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    • Boss Mida, found in the Goblin Slums of Orgrimmar, is a Shout-Out to the "Trade Princess Movement", a thread from the old community site requesting a female faction leader for the goblin race. Official faction leader Trade Prince Gallywix doesn't appear ingame after the starting zone, and Mida explains that she's been running the whole show while he's off picking wallpaper for his pleasure palace in Azshara.
    • Every faction leader from Cataclysm had a short story written about them...with the exception of Lor'themar Theron, whose short story is actually the 2009 Writing Contest winner "In the Shadow of the Sun". The writer of that fanfic, Sarah Pine, was also hired to write the Garrosh short story.
    • Jed'hin - the lost form of eredun ritual combat you can partake in on Argus - was actually created by draenei roleplayers on the Wyrmrest Accord server, and made official lore in patch 7.3 with the inclusion of the world quests about it.
  • Demand Overload:
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    • The launch of new expansions like Cataclysm or Warlords of Draenor used to be plagued by unstable servers, latency issues and massive login queues. There were several causes for this, but the primary one was the huge numbers of people trying to log in at the same time and bottlenecking in the same zone. In the words of a Community Manager:
      We obviously expected an increase in logins, and prepared for well above what we were expecting. The actual amount is far above even that.
    • Classic servers faced immediate overload during the first days after release, reaching their population cap and leaving many in queues that were hours long. Blizzard opened new servers to meet the demand only to see them also filled within a day.
  • Descended Creator: Blizzard's VP of Creative Development Chris Metzen voices half the game, including Ragnaros, Thrall, Nefarian and Varian Wrynn. He's done many voices for Blizzard's other games as well.
  • Dueling Works: Thanks to its longevity and popularity, WoW, in some way, has been in competition with just about every MMO to come out afterwards, as they inevitably try to ape its success, often by directly copying it, usually with disastrous results. By the late 2010s, though, the only game to really step up as a worthy rival to it has been Final Fantasy XIV, which has some interesting history with this trope:
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    • Particularly, its infamous first release was, as far as anyone is aware, timed to beat the Cataclysm expansion to market, which resulted in FFXIV 1.0 being a rushed, unpolished mess. Its 2.0 A Realm Reborn relaunch ended up also happening on the same day as the final patch for Mists of Pandaria, which ended up setting something of a trend.
    • After Warlords of Draenor's launch in November 2014, the only major updates the game got for seven months were Twitter integration, a selfie contest, and the ability to buy tokens for more play-time, while FFXIV was leading up to the release of its first expansion Heavensward - only for WoW to drop patch 6.2, which added a new zone, a new raid, a new companion, and a major extension to Garrison Campaigns, on the same day as Heavensward.
    • Legion patch 7.0.3, which added the long-awaited Tomb of Sargeras raid, once again ended up launching only a single day before the launch of FFXIV's second expansion, Stormblood.
    • By 2019 and the lead-up to FFXIV's third expansion Shadowbringers, Blizzard had become acutely aware of the competition, as the reaction to changes brought with Battle of Azeroth had been surprisingly negative, and a good chunk of the playerbase was leaving the game to try out XIV as an alternative given the many positive-sounding changes it was promising. In response, Blizzard intentionally released patch 8.2 on June 25th of that year, three days ahead of the Early Access release for Shadowbringers and an entire week ahead of its full release.
  • Fandom Nod: Besides the countless Ascended Memes, the massive fan game/forum post "You Awaken in Razor Hill" became so well-known that Blizzard actually added the main character Tednuget (changed to Tednug for legal reasons) as an NPC.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The gear you acquire is Color-Coded for Your Convenience, based on the color the name of the item appears when you hover your mouse over it; uncommon items are referred to as "greens", rare are "blues", epics are "purples", and Legendary items are "oranges". Good luck on getting an orange, and no one beyond level ten or fifteen would willingly use a common or "white" item (except maybe hats or shoulder pieces, which are hard to find until around level 30 or special cases such as Fishing Pole Duels).
    • Members of the Alliance and Horde are respectively called "Allys" note  and "Hordies" respectively.
    • Various classes have shorthand for them, most often used by Raiders and Pvp players as shorthand for strategies. While many classes have the same shorthand, or even name for their specializations, they're usually mentioned alongside the class.
      • Death Knights are shorthanded into "DK" while their specializations are just written out, except unholy, which is sometimes refered to has "UH".
      • Druids are either "Resto" "Cat" "Bear, Bare, Bere, or some other mangled half-recognizable form of "This guy is a bear" druids for Restoration, Feral, and Guardian, and in the case of balance "Boomkins", or more rarely, "laser chicken", due to the Moonkin form having the head of a bird and using the Moonfire spell, which resembles some kind of orbital energy weapon attack, as one of their primary attacks.
      • Hunters are MM for Marksmanship, BM for Beast Mastery, and SV or Surv for Survival.
      • Mages, having relatively short names for their specs, are just called that outright.
      • Monks are "BM" or "BWM" for Brewmasters, "MW" for Mistweavers, or "WW" for Windwalkers.
      • Paladins are shortened to "Pallys" with specializations being "Ret" for Retribution and "Prot" for Protection. Holy, already being a 4-letter word, is just left as is, although some people shorten it to "Hpal".
      • Priests are generally shortend to "First letter of specialization plus Priest" such as "Spriest" for Shadow, "Hpriest" for Holy, and Disc" for Discipline.
      • Rogues are either refered to as Rogues or Rouges. Subtlety ones are shortend to "Sub", Outlaw to "Out", and Assassin usually to "Sin" to avoid the other name of "Ass".
      • Shamans are "shammies". "Resto" is used for Restoration (same as Druids), "Ele" (pronounced as either "el-eh" or "elly") for Elemental, "Enh" for Enhancement. Enhancement is occasionally referred to as "Enchancement", sometimes as a typo (like "rouge" for rogues) and sometimes as a self-deprecating joke about the spec's survivability. The term "blueberry" was a derogatory term used in Burning Crusade for new draenei shamans, referring to their skin tone (which of course ignored that most Darkspear trolls, a valid race for shamans from vanilla, were also usually some shade of blue).
      • Warlocks are shortened to "Locks", and their specs are "Demo" for Demonology, "Destro" for Destruction, and "Aff" for affliction. Their Felhunter pets are often referred to as "Felpuppies."
      • Warriors are shortened to "Wars" which is almost never used for Warlocks, despite them also starting with "War". The specs, besides "Prot" for protection, are relatively simply named and just refered to as such. Fury warriors are occasionally called "a rogue in plate", due to dual wielding and often being on par with rogues in the damage meters, rogues being a purely damage-oriented class in constrast to warriors which can either tank or DPS.
    • When the Death Knight class was released in Wrath of the Lich King, one of their spells was "Death Grip". What it basically did was yank an enemy player over to you so you could give him a face-full of your sword. In Cataclysm, priests got a new spell known as "Leap of Faith", which did the exact same thing (yanking a player towards you to get them away from a big sword or area damage), only on friendly players. People thought "Leap of Faith" was a stupid name, and so, unofficially renamed it "Life Grip". Even the devs use the nickname on occasion.
    • In Warlords of Draenor, the bosses Hans'gar and Franzok (a Dual Boss encounter) are popularly known as "Hans and Franz," not only because of the shortening of their names, but also because they are a clear reference to the recurring Saturday Night Live sketch, starring two Austrian bodybuilders, Hans and Franz (who were themselves pastiches of Arnold Schwarzenegger).
    • Illidan Stormrage is sometimes known as 'Illidindo Nuffin'. Or, "I didn't do anything wrong." He's earned this moniker for a few reasons. One, he always thinks he's doing the right thing, even when he's wrong. Two, fans go to extreme lengths to make him into a pure, do-no-wrong good guy. Three, people worry Blizzard may make him one just to appease those fans.
    • Xal'atath, the Shadow Priest Artifact Weapon, has received the nickname "Knaifu". A Portmanteau of "Knife" and "Waifu", or a fictional character you would want to date or marry. Presumably fans who use this nickname are Aroused by Their Voice.
    • A troll shaman named Zekhan from the Battle for Azeroth cinematic gained notoriety for his distinctive look and impressive lightning spells, earning him Ensemble Dark Horse status and the nickname "Zappyboi."
  • From Entertainment to Education: In 2005, the Zul Gurub raid dungeon was introduced. The end boss, Hakkar, could place a powerful disease, Corrupted Blood, on the players, which quickly killed them. Some enterprising "Petmaster" players realized that their pets could safely carry the disease out of the dungeon and into the cities to troll other players. A player-made epidemic swept the game; the central hubs were filled with corpses, the disease spreading "harmlessly" to NPCs who infected other players, healers attempted to cure the infected, eventually resulting in people abandoning the cities altogether. The servers eventually were shut down to force a fix preventing the disease from leaving the dungeon. The event is now known as the Corrupted Blood Incident and has been used by universities as a study of how epidemics spread (including COVID-19); how a disease from a remote region is brought to urban centers by asymptomatic carriers, how people respond to the threat- some deliberately seeking it out- and how the authorities react to such events. It has also received some attention as a study in terrorism, given that players deliberately infected cities and plotted how to cause as much damage as possible.
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: Many enemies, especially humanoids, make a low dying moan that will be familiar to players of Doom; it's the death sound of a Pink Demon.
  • I Knew It!: In the End Time instance, it is revealed that Murozond is Nozdormu's future self.
  • Lying Creator
    • When asked about the presence of Old Gods during a Q&A leading up to release, Ion said that Battle for Azeroth was about the faction war and that there were no Old Gods in BfA. Out of the five raids in BFA (Uldir, Crucible of Storms, Battle for Dazar'alor, Eternal Palace and Ny'alotha), only ONE (Battle for Dazar'alor) does not feature Old Gods in some form or another, and the final boss of the expansion is N'Zoth. In fact, patch 8.3 is almost entirely focused on combating N'Zoth and thwarting his visions of a corrupted and twisted Azeroth.
      • The "Faction War" also went off the rails to being about the Alliance and the Horde uniting against another corrupt Warchief as early as the first major content patch.
    • At the start of Battle for Azeroth, Blizzard repeatedly stated that Sylvanas would not become "Garrosh 2.0". She did. Technically, she became Arthas 2.0 as well.
    • During the PTR testing of patch 9.0, Ion said that prepatch stat and level squish would not decrease character power solo (not counting corruption) and players could otherwise still solo what was doable at 120 just fine. However, on the actual patch release, this was notthe caseat all, and this claim quickly grew infamous due to its inaccuracy.
    • Updates to customization for playable races were toted as a selling point of Shadowlands and were claimed to be an ongoing project for that expansion, only for a Q&A following the 9.1 announcement to say that Blizzard had nothing planned beyond the overhaul in 9.0 but players should give their feedback on what they want to see added, which they had already been doing for years. This came off as both deceptive and willfully ignorant and drew a lot of ire from players whose favorite races got stiffed with the updates in 9.0, especially nightborne, who have the absolute least amount of customization of any race by a wide margin.
  • Milestone Celebration:
    • Some old 40-player raids got revamped for anniversaries, such as Onyxia's Lair, which was remade for 10 and 25 players at level 80 in Wrath of the Lich King for the game's fifth anniversary in 2009, or Molten Core, which was (temporarily) remade for level 100 players in Warlords of Draenor for the 10th anniversary in 2014 (the 40-player limit was kept, which caused much chaos as coordination is pretty difficult to pull off on LFR mode).
    • The game's fifteenth anniversary allowed the players to play Alterac Valley battleground as it was when it was originally released (complete with downscaling characters to level 60 if they were higher).
    • The 25-player raid Black Temple was added as LFR to the "Timewalking" weekly event of the Outland dungeons in 2017, for the tenth anniversary of The Burning Crusade. It lowers the players' level to 70 and allows Demon Hunters who have Illidan's legendary Warglaives of Azzinoth to transmog them after Illidan is defeated.
    • World of Warcraft: Classic was released on August 27th, 2019, the year of WoW's 15th anniversary. It topped one million viewers on Twitch during its launch, to say nothing of its player queues.
    • The December 2019-January 2020 event for the tenth anniversary of Cataclysm allowed players to get Deathwing as flying mount.
  • Name's the Same: Another MMORPG also had an expansion pack titled "Shadowlands".
    • The Primus is unrelated to Primus, the One and Prime of Planescape fame.
  • Orphaned Reference: The in-game map of Draenor has a second continent in the southwestern corner that is not named nor can it be highlighted (though it was referred to as an ogre continent in BlizzCon interviews). This continent scarcely appears on any map made later, not even in the Chronicles (where the closest thing to a reference is continent being pluralized in a couple of places). This is left over from an earlier draft of the story where the Gorian Empire was from another continent entirely instead of being based out of Highmaul in Nagrand. An article about the development of Nagrand reveals this to be a result of Blizzard wanting to offset the perception of "orc fatigue" by upping the presence of ogres in Nagrand (the official website for Warlords of Draenor still describes the original version of Nagrand sans Highmaul).
    • The Lords of War shorts were a victim of some of the same changes. While subtle, there are a couple of things that don't make much sense from the perspective of the final version of Warlords of Draenor. Most notably, Grommash appears to have been crucified in some desert, when the closest thing to such a location would be Gorgrond, nowhere near his home or the home of the ogres he was fighting. The other is that both the Kargath and Grommash shorts culminate in them killing an ogre who is implied to be the most important in the land. In the final version of the story, this would be the Imperator, but the timeline doesn't allow for them to have both taken down an Imperator. In hindsight, both of these are references to a draft of the expansion around the time of this early development map shown at BlizzCon. Nagrand is much larger vertically, with the southern half not being lush or green. Coupled with the description on the official website of Nagrand having seafaring ogres in the south, this is clearly where the ogres that Grommash was fighting were actually from. Also, instead of having the capital of the Gorian Empire, there are "ogre palaces" scattered across the world. The ogres that Grommash and Kargath killed were likely the leaders of their local palaces.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Arthas' first voice actor, Justin Gross, was replaced as Arthas for Wrath of the Lich King onward. His reason was that Blizzard offered him an "embarrassingly low" amount of money for his return. Patrick Seitz replaced him from then on, while Michael McConnohie played the Lich King.
    • Speaking of Michael McConnohie, he originally played Kel'Thuzad in Warcraft III and Vanilla, but was replaced by an unknown voice actor for Wrath of the Lich King. It is believed that because he switched to playing the Lich King, having him voice Kel'Thuzad and the Lich King would cause issues so he was replaced. Notably he still plays him outside of Wrath of the Lich King.
    • Jaina was originally voiced by Carrie Gordon Lowrey in Warcraft III, but when Jaina became important and needed voice acting in time for Wrath of the Lich King, she was instead voiced by Laura Bailey.
    • Illidan was originally voiced by Matthew Yang King in Warcraft III, and even did the now-infamous "You are not prepared!" line from the trailer/intro for The Burning Crusade, but within the game itself, was switched to Liam O'Brien.
    • Sylvanas had her voice actress switch from Piera Coppola to Patty Mattson. It is unknown when exactly this occurred however, as the differences were not clear at the time.
    • Tragically, Terenas Menethil's voice actor, Ted Whitney, passed away shortly after completing his voice work for Terenas in Warcraft III. Terenas was then voiced by Earl Boen when time came for him to have speaking lines for Wrath of the Lich King.
    • A complicated example with Medivh. He was originally voiced by Michael Bell in Warcraft III, but for the Burning Crusade, was instead voiced by Cam Clarke. When Medivh reappeared briefly in Legion, Bell returned to play him.
    • Sylvanas also got a new voice actress in French starting with Legion, Laurence Bréheret (who had already voiced several characters, including many female human NPCs since the beginnings of the game)
  • Promoted Fanboy: Several fans have been immortalized by Blizzard by making references to them, sometimes in the TCG as Alamo and Leeroy Jenkins, whose antics are legendary amongst the fans; and sometimes in the game itself like Maghia and Volde, who were two of the best cosplayers at BlizzCon '09, with items named after them. Notable Fansite creators as well — Breanni, the Pet Shop NPC in Dalaran, is based on the character of the go-to site for Minipet info.
    • Toskk, a player known for creating a calculator for min-maxing feral druid DPS, had a pair of melee leather wristguards named after him.
    • Besides Toskk, 3 other players got the same treatment. Rogue theorycrafter Aldriana, Warrior theorycrafter Landsoul, and creator of a program called "Rawr" that allows all classes to explore item options, Astrylian, all got drops named after them in the Icecrown Citadel 25 raid instance. Better yet, all of these except Landsoul's helm were the best items for their item slot for many classes up until the Cataclysm expansion.
    • 10-year-old boy Ezra "Ephoenix" Chatterton got quite a few references thanks to a Make-a-Wish foundation visit to Blizzard headquarters. He got an item named after him, and got to create a quest in the Tauren starting area. The quest even has you find a dog with the same name as his. The NPC has the rare honor of having unique voice acting, all clips done by Ezra, and surprisingly deep for a 10-year-old boy. The unexpected questioning of "Can you help me find my dog?" is known to frighten many a player. Thankfully, Blizzard had the foresight to make the NPC unkillable by Alliance players. Ezra passed away in October 2008.
      • The Lunar Festival NPC in Thunder Bluff has been renamed Elder Ezra Wheathoof, Wheathoof being the name of the above questgiver. He is accompanied by a Phoenix Hatchling.
    • Phaelia, who wrote a resto druid blog for a while before retiring to focus on the baby she was expecting, was also referenced with a leather healing chestpiece.
    • The BRK-1000, in honor of the once (and again!) king of hunter-guide movies.
    • We can also add in Skosiris, ex-site director of Wowhead now in-game as Loremaster Skosiris.
    • And now, joining the Pantheon, is The Red Shirt Guy, who has now been immortalized in-game as the Wildhammer Fact Checker.
      • The Fact Checker even gets a cameo in the Dwarven Faction Leader short story, Fire and Iron. The story is about Kurdran Wildhammer stepping down from his position on the Council of Three Hammers and giving it to Falstad. Some people have theorized the story was written in lieu of Red Shirt Guy's pointing out of the mistake, and has thus made Kurdran's accidental promotion during the beta, as well as his replacement with Falstad, canon.
  • Recycled Script:
    • The nightborne storyline in Legion is a beat for beat retread of the blood elves' storyline in The Burning Crusade; both races resided in massive capital cities cut off from the rest of the world (Suramar/Silvermoon); both drew magic from a massive font of power (Nightwell/Sunwell); both were plagued by an addiction to magic that caused them to devolve into mindless beasts if unsated or overindulged (Withered/Wretched); both broke out into civil war when they banded against their leader (Elisande/Kael'thas) after said leader made a bargain with the Legion before they were killed in a raid encounter (Nighthold/Tempest Keep); and both were ultimately freed of their addiction following the defeat of one of the leaders of the Legion (Gul'dan/Kil'jaeden). There's no wonder the two races and their leaders bond so well, outside of both being elvish races.
    • Also similar to the blood elves are the venthyr, who were betrayed by Denathrius when he sided with the Jailer and turn into feral ash ghouls when exposed to concentrated light.
    • Battle for Azeroth recycles elements of Cataclysm's plot with the player allying with a former faction leader (Magni/Thrall) to stabilize Azeroth when the planet is critically damaged by a major antagonist (Sargeras/Deathwing) and Mists of Pandaria's plot with the Alliance-Horde war being reignited following the unprovoked destruction of an Alliance city (Teldrassil/Theramore) and the Horde's leaders banding against their current Warchief (Sylvanas/Garrosh) who resorts to using eldritch power. The last similarity has received some flak after players were told that Sylvanas' story wouldn't fall to this trope.
      • Speaking of said expac, the ending also got much flak, partially due to N'Zoth's defeat copying the Cataclysm ending: a well-known mortal champion of Azeroth (the player/Thrall) destroys a super-powered entity who wishes to cause a Bad Future (N'Zoth/Deathwing), and they perform the deed by using a magic artifact (the Heart of Azeroth/the Dragon Soul) that's empowered by beams coming from a powerful source (the Titan forges/the Dragon Aspects). N'Zoth's way of death (explodes after all the above happens) is exactly the same as Deathwing.
    • The story of Mechagon, which involves a crazed (formerly organic but converted himself) mechagnome forcibly converting other (partially converted but still mostly organic) mechagnomes into full machines, plays out like a greatly expanded version of a questline from the Borean Tundra where a crazed (already fully-robotic) mechagnome was converting gnomes from a nearby Alliance encampment into more mechagnomes, although in that case, it was reversible.
    • The Chains of Domination patch involves the Covenants banding together to directly take the fight to the Jailer's forces, which is essentially what happened in the Tomb of Sargeras patch with the class orders uniting to battle the Legion on the Broken Shore.
  • Release Date Change: Shadowlands is the first expansion to have its release date changed from what was originally announced (from October 27 to November 24, 2020).
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Quinton Flynn, who had voiced Kael'thas Sunstrider since Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, was replaced in April 2021 due to allegations of sexual misconduct, despite a judge ruling the allegations came from an obsessive stalker.
  • Talking to Himself: Michael McConnohie as the Lich King and spirit of Uther in Halls of Reflection. Also Chris Metzen as both Thrall and Varian.
  • Trailer Delay: Early promotional materials for the game said that it would be released in 2003. It was not released until November of 2004.
  • Troubled Production:
    • Warlords of Draenor is infamous for being the shortest expansion, only having one major patch that advanced the story in any way. This turned out to be the result of several major factors converging at the same time. Blizzard increased the size of the World of Warcraft team, but underestimated how much work it would take to train them and get them up to speed, slowing things down. The expansion also came with new models for (most) of the playable races (which tied up the art team), a completely reworked file structure, and a "stat squish" that required the entire game to be rebalanced (which had some major bugs which weren't solved until the expansion had been out for a little bit). The expansion launch also managed to bring back a good chunk of lapsed players, far exceeding expectations and causing further instability problems early on.
    • The COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown of 2020 has impacted the making of Shadowlands with Blizzard's teams having to work from home on it. Game director Ion Hazzikostas has called the thing "challenging". It's probably what caused the release date change (before that, neither the original game nor any of its expansions had ever been delayed).
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • The male Blood Elf /silly, "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" was added because of the song by the Pussy Cat Dolls was popular at the time of The Burning Crusade's release.
    • An Alliance NPC, Moi'bff Jill, was renamed that after a late 2007-early 2008 meme, idk My BFF Jill was also popular.
  • What Could Have Been: Fantasizing about discarded, heavily altered, or repeatedly promised content is practically Azeroth's national pastime, so much it has its own page.
  • The Wiki Rule: WoWWiki came online one day after the game launched. Since then there was a schism, and now there is the WoWWiki on Wikia and Wowpedia on Gamepedia.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: In regards to writing for Garrosh, Blizzard's writers were essentially not given a clear idea of what seemed to be his end goal, with the only idea that somewhat seemed planned being that Garrosh would become the Big Bad of one of the expansions. The writers for the Stonetalon Mountain questline in Cataclysm for example wrote an entire questline about him disciplining an orc general who kills a bunch of innocent druids by throwing him to his death before speaking about honor, only to later find out later that Garrosh was apparently supposed to develop into the Big Bad of the next expansion.
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