Blizzard has included many in-jokes and references tied to pop-culture in various forms throughout WoW.
- Chef in Lower City area of Shattrath City. Reference to the character Jack Tripper who was played by John Ritter in the 1970s sitcom "Three's Company". Jack Tripper was a chef living with 2 women.
- Action Jaxon, otherwise known as Action Jackson, can be found in the Ecosphere.
- The Arathi Basin Battlemaster in Shattrath City is called Adam Eternum as of the October 19 patch to the Burning Crusade beta version. Before that, he was called Adam Heman, an even more obvious reference to Prince Adam of Eternia who becomes He-Man in the Masters of the Universe show. Adam is dressed in the trademark cross-chestpiece, fur loin-cloth, and boots outfit and carries a sword. With him is a Gnome in red called Oric Coe (a reference to Orko) and a Zulian elite tiger mount (a reference to Battle Cat).
- Bessy (also see Bessie) is the cow that is used in general in many philosophic texts or the like to give examples of certain ethics like the ethic of Kant.
- The B.O.O.M. fire marshal in Area 52. This is probably a reference to Fire Marshal Bill played by Jim Carrey on the show In Living Color.
- In Netherstorm, Dr. Boom attacks with swarms of bombs who are a reference to Dr. Doom's incredibly conceited "Doom Bots", robotic sentries with his image.
- In Netherstorm, Bot-Specialist Alley is a reference to the film Short Circuit, starring Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg. Her quest Mark V is Alive! refers to catch phrase used by the robot in the film; "Number five is alive!".
- Bot-Specialist Alley's robots, Maxx A. Million Mk. I, Maxx A. Million Mk. II, and Maxx A. Million Mk. V are a collective reference to the film The Black Hole in which Dr. Hans Reinhardt created an army of robots, led by his masterpiece: Maximilian. Dr. Hans Reinhardt was portrayed by actor Maximilian Schell.
- The innkeeper of The Temple of Telhamat is a clear reference to the charitable host of the TV show Oprah, Oprah Winfrey.
Chief Engineer Trep, B.O.O.M. Engineering
- Another reference to a Star Trek engineer, this time to Charles "Trip" Tucker, who was Chief Engineer of the Enterprise NX-01 on Star Trek: Enterprise.
- This overgrown Nether Ray resident of Zangarmarsh had abandoned its carrion diet for living flesh, something which eventually caused it to grow to immense size. This is an obvious reference to the famous fiction and novel character Count Dracula, "King of the Vampires", who is known for his thirst for human blood. Possibly a reference to 80s cartoon series Count Duckula about a vegetarian vampire duck who would not drink blood.
- A boss in Sethekk Halls with a possible reference to the Sith Lords in the Star Wars Saga.
The NPC rumored to craft the Ashbringer, his name is composed of David and Wayne Palmer from the TV show 24. It is also possible that it is an obscure Batman/Hulk reference. Bruce Banner, the Hulk, was "David Bruce Banner" in his TV series and Batman is Bruce Wayne thus making it an amalgamation of their names.
Dealer Sadaqat, Potent Potables
- In Outland, A Specialty Vendor in Stormspire, Netherstorm. This is a reference to the television game show Jeopardy. Potent Potables is often a category contestants can choose from.
"Dirty" Larry is a Shattrath City NPC, a reference to Dirty Harry.
- In Netherstorm, there is a quest NPC named Dr. Boom who is an obvious reference to the Marvel character and Fantastic Four villain "Dr. Doom".
- In Nagrand, one of the Arena Battlemasters is an ogre NPC named "Ear-Biter" with dark skin and a gnome voice. This is a reference to celebrity boxer Mike Tyson and his infamous bout with Evander Holyfield. Tyson was disqualified in their rematch for biting off a piece of Holyfield's ear.
- The bag vendor in Allerian Stronghold is a reference to a famous model, Fabio Lanzoni.
- The innkeeper of Toshley's Station is possibly a reference to a fictional super villain in the Spider-man series, Doctor Otto Octavius, who is otherwise known as "Doctor Octopus" or simply "Doc Ock".
- The innkeeper of Thrallmar which is an obvious reference to Pink Floyd.
A undead rogue NPC in Nagrand near the Nesingwary Safari that will "gank" a passing gnome questgiver whom you subsequently have to rescue. His name, of course, is a reference to the popular term "gank" when a rogue (or anyone else, for that matter) attacks you by surprise.
- Haris Pilton, is an NPC standing in the Lower City's World End Tavern in Shattrath, with her little pet Tinkerbell is a reference to the infamous socialite Paris Hilton.
- Found within the Temple of Zul'Aman, a cross between Harrison Ford and his character, the famous Indiana Jones.
- This pair of dwarves near Honor Hold appear to be a reference to the children's nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty".
- The name of the innkeeper in Area 52 in Netherstorm is a reference to the 5 notes tunes (2, 3, 1, 1, 5) in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". The tune is also the password used to enter a research laboratory owned by Hugo Drax in the James Bond movie "Moonraker".
K. Lee Smallfry, Grand Master Engineer
- In Outland, the Alliance Grand Master Engineer's name is a reference to Kaywinnit Lee "Kaylee" Frye, the engineer aboard Serenity in the show Firefly and the film of the same name. She shares her counterpart's love of strawberries.
- Mack Diver, the "Master Engineer" in Zabra'jin, is a reference to MacGyver.
- A quest in Hellfire Peninsula asks you to free 3 peons. The names, Manni, Moh, and Jakk are the same as the famous Pep Boys.
- There is also a reference to Clive Cussler's novel Cyclops. In it, 3 agents by the name of Manny, Moe, and Jack help the main character Dirk Pitt to separate deadly cargo ships from Havana Harbor before a fanatical Soviet General detonates it.
- Negatron the Fel Reaver in Netherstorm is a reference to Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons in the Transformers series.
- A boss in Mana Tombs with a possible reference to Jaffar from Aladdin.
Seymour, Grand Master Skinner
- An NPC in Lower City. Reference to Principal Seymour Skinner from the popular animated show The Simpsons.
A Toshley Station sentinel robot that lies near the station. This is a reference to the Star Wars characters C3P0 and R2D2
- A possible reference to General Grievous in Star Wars, Shadowmaster Grieve is located in Grangol'var Village. Also in Grangol'var are mobs who speak of their "uncle" preventing them from going to a certain "academy" until next "season", referring to one of Luke Skywalker's conversations with his Uncle Owen.
- Shauly Pore, a reference to the actor Pauly Shore who starred in the movie Biodome, is found in the Eco-Dome Midrealm in Netherstorm. A nearby Ethereal NPC comments on his unorthodox word use.
"Slim", Shady Dealer
- A vendor NPC in Auchindoun, obvious reference rapper Eminem, also known as Slim Shady.
The Rokk, Chef
- Daily cooking quest giver in Lower City, Shattrath. A possible reference to The Rock a popular wrestler in the WWE. One of "The Rock"'s quote was "If you can smell what The Rock is cooking."
- The NPC in the Alliance town of Telaar in Nagrand was called Warden Iolol; considering the way a capital "i" looks when written with the in-game font, it is an obvious reference to the popular exclamation of "LOL" which has many forms including "LOLZ" and "LOLOL". After Patch 2.3.0, he was renamed "Warden Moi'bff Jill" ("my BFF Jill", referring to the Cingular commercials featuring a girl speaking SMS shorthand out loud).
- A NPC inside Cenarion Thicket in Terokkar Forest is a crazed druid who, if talked to repeatedly, says "There are FOUR lights!" which is a refrence to Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command" in which Picard is forced to say there are five lights while there are in fact four. Upon his rescue he turns to his captor once more and yells 'There are FOUR LIGHTS!'
- NPC druid you have to find in the Slave Pens quest, a reference to the Cypress Hill Dr. Greenthumb song.
In the Tempest Keep instances, Arcatraz may be a reference to the real life prison Alcatraz. For the last event of the instance, the group must fight the "most dangerous" creatures of Azeroth. In real life, Alcatraz was a prison for the most dangerous criminals. In addition, the questline to obtain the key to Arcatraz is titled 'How to Break Into the Arcatraz'. In real life, many people tried to break out of Alcatraz, with the general consensus being that no one was successful.
The area which in itself is named after Area 51, the American military base which serves as a top secret U.S. Air Force testing facility.
Upon entering Area 52, you are hit with a ray of light which gives a buff: "The beam of light you did not see did not erase your memories." This is a Men in Black reference. The goblins in tuxedos standing to the sides of the gates also refer to this movie.
The NPCs in Gold tops and black pants are probably a nod to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Gold top (or shoulders in DS9/Voyager) denotes Engineering.
Area 52 is also another name for the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in "Stargate: SG-1".
Snakes on a plane!
In Nagrand, at Nesingwary's expedition camp, there are 2 snakes on top of the crashed airplane.
One of the Druids near Cenarion Thicket has gossip telling us that 'there are FOUR LIGHTS!', clearly a reference to Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command" in which Picard is forced to say there are five lights while there are in fact four. Upon his rescue he turns to his captor once more and yells 'There are FOUR LIGHTS!'
In Blade's Edge Mountains, the Gnome outpost Toshley's Station is a reference to Tosche Station in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker was planning to pick up some power converters. One of the quests available also consists of picking up power converters. Other Star Wars references also seen. The activity around the station is also a reference to the movie Starship Troopers. The constant bug invasions, the gnomes being called Roughriders, and one of the gnomes occasionally quoting lines from the movie.
In Shattrath, there's the World's End Tavern which may be a reference to the novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams. The tavern could also be referencing the "World's End Inn" from "The Sandman" comic series written by Neil Gaiman.