Leeroy Jenkins is a name known the world over among World of Warcraft players. The joke is now 15 years old, which says something about the people who know it.
In the original video uploaded on Warcraft Movies, Leeroy Jenkins and his WoW guild prepared to take on a boss encounter. Leeroy, who was away from keyboard for chicken, moved in without notice. This move pressured the entire guild to a wipeout.
This pervasive joke is so legendary that it’s still alive in today’s internet culture.
Leeroy became a viral legend before it was cool
Jenkins became a famous part of the World of Warcraft subculture. His group’s wipe in the Black Rock Spire was a crazy event. Such bluster has become one of the internet’s first viral videos ever.
The entire joke became an overnight sensation that there are references to it on TV, movies, and every internet forum. Blizzard even saw its popularity among its players that they immortalized it with an NPC. Watching it back, it’s still as funny as it ever was.
Human-paladin Leeroy Jenkins was AFK while his guild, Pals for Life, were discussing how to take on the dungeon. Everyone was serious, with earnest number crunching and role assignments. Once he returned, Leeroy went on to attack the dungeon without ahead.
Leeroy jumped up and said his iconic line: “Let’s do this! LEEEEEEROOOOOYY JEEEEEENNKINS!” As the guild scrambled, everyone died in the process. As he received annoyed comments, Jenkins ended with “At least I have chicken.”
This video was hilarious. Sure, it was meant to be a joke, but the WoW community took it to heart. Leeroy was an instant-celebrity, with every line becoming a type of early meme.
How a World of Warcraft joke permeated internet culture
It’s only after 12 years when Ben Schultz, the man behind the legend, admitted the entire thing is a skit. Even with its now fake status, the legendary figure is still out on the internet.
Blizzard turned the Leeroy name into an achievement. He became a Hearthstone card that is all offense and summons the whelps that killed his guild. He even starred on World of Warcraft’s 15th-anniversary commercial.
Why did the Leeroy character become so famous? He echoed every casual WoW player’s vision of themselves. His team was taking themselves too seriously, where Leeroy had fun.
Whatever made the Leeroy Jenkins legend what it is today, he’s still an essential part of early gaming history. Whether you were there in his prime or heard the myth after the man, it’s hard to deny the fun people got from his joke.
Feature image courtesy of Hearthstone/WoWpedia Public Entry