Blizzard has included many in-jokes and pop-culture references in various forms throughout WoW.
- A-Me 01, a robotic gorilla, is named after the gorilla (Amy) from the book Congo by Michael Crichton. A quest featuring the very same robotic gorilla ("Chasing A-Me 01") is named after a Kevin Smith movie, Chasing Amy by Miramax Films.
- A dwarf fisherman on the coast in Darkshore just outside of Auberdine, this is a reference to the film Forrest Gump and Forest's shrimping business "Bubba Gump Shrimping Corporation". A quest from Gubber Blump is entitled "The Fruit of The Sea" which is again a reference to Forrest Gump as Bubba refers to shrimp as the fruit of the sea and then lists a ridiculously long list of meals that can be made with shrimp.
- An elite elemental at the top of the mountain in the center of Un'Goro Crater, his name may likely be paying homage to the science fiction classic Blade Runner.
Captain Garran Vimes
- In Theramore Isle, Captain Garran Vimes, who gives quests regarding the mystery of Shady Rest Inn is a clear reference to Discworld character (Captain, in later books Commander) Samuel Vimes. Next to Captain Vimes, there's a Commander Samaul, whom you meet during the "Missing Diplomat" questline.
- On Azuremyst Isle, in the Alliance Camp of Odesyus' Landing, Admiral Odesyus will ask "Cookie" McWeaksauce what's for dinner. Cookie sarcastically goes on about a luxurious dinner, in which he mentions "Captain Sanders" and his secret sauce. This is a reference to Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC. Take note that a real "Captain Sanders" lives in Old Hillsbrad.
- Odysseus, from The Odyssey, also known as Ulysses. Known to have wandered 10 years lost in the Mediterranean Sea trying to return to his home at the island of Ithaca after the war at the city of Troy, escaping from the god Poseidon who vowed to prevent Ulysses from returning after he injured his son, the cyclops, Polyphemus by sticking out his eye. Odesyus is found on the southern shore of the Azuremyst Isles.
- Near the entrance to the Pools of Vision in Thunder Bluff is an NPC named Clarice Foster, an amalgamation of two names - Jodie Foster and Clarice Starling, the character she played in Silence of the Lambs.
Combat Master Szigeti
- A guard in Theramore Island. "Szigeti" means "islander" in Hungarian and it is also a common surname.
- Dadanga is a pack kodo at Marshal's Refuge in Un'Goro Crater. Her name is a reference to the saurian monster Dodongo from the Legend of Zelda series. This is indicated by what a nearby goblin, Spark Nilminer, says upon asking him about her. He says "Dadanga dislikes smoke", a play on a famous quote by the Old Man in The Legend of Zelda for the NES ("Dodongo dislikes smoke").
- A follow up reference is the recurring quest "Dadanga is Hungry", in which you feed her some fruit harvested from plants. For the gamers of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it is known that to defeat King Dodongo you must feed him Bomb Flowers.
Dran Droffers and Malton Droffers
- These two orcs who run a salvage shop in Orgrimmar are based on characters from the show Sanford and Son. They resemble Fred Sanford and his son Lamont (as much as a couple of orcs can, anyway), and Dran Droffers talks and acts like Fred Sanford, who ran a junk dealership similar to his. Finally, "Dran Droffers" is an anagram of "Fred Sanford" and "Malton" of "Lamont".
Freza and Zappetta
- The two zeppelin masters that connect Orgrimmar to Undercity. If you swap the first syllables of each of their names you get Zappa and Frazetta. Frank Zappa was an avante garde rock composer most notable for advising against eating yellow snow. Frank Frazetta is an artist most notable for painting the cover art for several Conan the Barbarian novels.
- An Elite turtle in Blackfathom Deeps. This is a reference to Gamera, the giant monstrous turtle from a Japanese giant monster franchise.
- The introductory NPC in Camp Narache, Hawkwind was an important and influential English psychedelic band who also essentially created space rock.
- Is in Camp Mojache in Feralas, a Tauren questgiver. Ha-Do-Ken is a phrase spoken during a special attack by Ryu and Ken in the Street Fighter games.
- Jhordy Lapforge is an Engineer in Gadgetzan, Tanaris. With his goggle/visor and yellow shirt, there are obviously some Star Trek: The Next Generation fans in the Blizzard dev camp - Geordi La Forge!
Johnathan the Revelator
- Located at the gates of Ahn'Qiraj, John the Revelator most likely references the Depeche Mode reinterpretation of a folk song, its origins an early 20th century folk song written by Mississippi Blue's artist, Eddie James “Son” House, Jr. The song itself is a reference to the author of the Book of Revelation, John.
- Klannoc Macleod, who is tagged <The Islander> is standing on a rather big island just a bit of the coast in Dustwallow Marsh refers to the four movies and the series called Highlander. The immortal brothers Duncan and Connor Macleod of the clan Macleod were the main characters in the stories. The weapons used by the immortals were swords, as the only way for them to kill each other was chopping off their enemies heads; the NPC on the island (Klannoc Macleod) is holding a katana.
- edit* Connor and Duncan were clansmen, cousins at best.
- The name of this Centaur leader is a play on the word Decepitcon from Transformers.
- The name of this centaur is likely a play on the name of the Star Trek film, Wrath of Khan.
- The name of this centaur is a play on the name of the annual Gen Con gaming convention.
- Khan Shaka, located in Desolace, Khan of the Gelkis name means "lord joke" in Turkish. This may be a coincidence.
- The name is likely a reference to singer Chaka Khan.
Larion and Muigin
- At Marshal's Refuge, there are two characters named Larion and Muigin, a reference to Mario and Luigi. One is short and dressed in red, and the other is tall and dressed in green.
- Muigin is constantly fighting Bloodpetal pests, which may be references to the Piranha plants which he fights in most (if not all) of his games, while Larion stays far away from the action. Also both brothers are holding their signature wooden hammers.
Lieutenant General Andorov
- When the Rajaxx event begins in the Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, Lieutenant General Andorov says "Remember, Rajaxx, when I said I'd kill you last? I lied..." This is a reference to a line from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Commando.
- Also at Marshal's Refuge is a gnome dressed in green named Linken. He's clearly a reference to Link from the Legend of Zelda series. As quest rewards, he gives you a boomerang plus the option for a sword, both signature weapons from the game.
- Marukai is a troll NPC quest-giver seen at the Zoram'gar outpost (Horde) in northwestern Ashenvale, seen standing next to Mitsuwa. The name is a reference to the Japanese supermarket, Marukai.
- Maws is a giant shark boss that players fight as part of the Ahn'Qiraj Scepter quest line. The name is a reference to the movie Jaws.
- Mitsuwa is a troll NPC seen at the Zoram'gar outpost (Horde) in northwestern Ashenvale, seen standing next to Marukai. The name is a reference to the Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa.
- In addition to the Goblin Auctioneers (Auctioneer O'reely and Yarly), there is also a white owl named O'Reily flying around Narain Soothfancy's hut in Northeastern Tanaris. As mentioned this is a reference to the O Rly owl. However, it is also a reference to the character of Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reily (from the television show M*A*S*H), who could sense things before they happen (the owl is in essence a sentry). Or perhaps to O'Reilly Media, the technical manual publisher whose book covers frequently feature owls.
Ossirian the Unscarred
- Ossirian the Unscarred sometimes speaks lines from the Terminator movies.
- The weapon trainer in Orgrimmar is named after real-life martial artist Tuhon Chris Sayoc of Sayoc Kali. .
Tauren ranged weapon
- The starting ranged weapon of the tauren is the gun and the Horde weapon trainer that teaches guns is a tauren on Thunder Bluff. This assignment against type seems to be a reference to Dana Lyons's Cows With Guns.
Torta and Tooga
- Torta and Tooga are turtles found in Tanaris. The names refer to Tortuga, which in Spanish means turtle or tortoise.
- Tortuga is also the name of a Pirate haven in the Caribbean during the mid 17th to the late 17th century. Popularized in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl". A reference to make light of the proximity to the pirates of the Coast south of Torta. A running joke across all three movies is "Sea turtles, mate," as the explanation for people and critters changing locations via remarkable means.
Williden and Hol'anyee Marshal
- Hol'anyee Marshal and Williden Marshal, two NPCs found in Marshal's Refuge, the main quest point of Un'Goro Crater, are references to Holly Marshall and Will Marshall, two main characters of the 1974 television series, Land of the Lost.
- Both the first world tree, Nordrassil, and the night-elves failed attempt to regain immortality, Teldrassil, refers to the world tree of Norse mythology Yggdrasil. Additionally, Vordrassil, the destroyed world tree in Northrend, also holds the -drassil suffix.
Yogg-Saron and the Old Gods
- These are references to the Cthulu mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft. Yog-Shothoth was a major player within the ranks of the "Old Ones." Cthulu's was a priest among the "Old Ones," and their influence is felt telepathically by humans of lesser intelligence. When Cthulu broke the surface briefly, his telepathic sendings drove people insane during that time.
- A parody of a Final Fantasy dungeon, named Hellfire Chasm.
- The entire zone contains many references to the tv show "Land of the Lost". The entire zone is filled with dinosaurs. Crystals and special Pylons can be found throughout the zone, another feature of the tv show. The name of the Un'Goro Crater is a reference to the real-life Ngorogoro Crater, a region formed by an ancient volcanic caldera in southern Africa, home to the greatest biodiversity on Earth outside of the South American rain forests. The region is ultimately a reference to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, a novel about Professor Challenger's second expedition into a mysterious land filled with dinosaurs. In addition, the gorillas in this zone sometimes drop empty barrels, a clear reference to donkey kong.
- Namesake of the snowbound "Overlook Hotel" in the novel and film The Shining. The only human in Everlook is Jack Sterling named after the story's protagonist Jack Torrence. There is also a NPC named Kilrem, a play upon the word "Redrum" which figures prominently in the story.