The Importance of References and Thoughts on WoW’s True Narrative (Blog Post 3)


A certain quest in the Krasarang Wilds (part of the Mysts of Pandaria expansion) has you escort a group of pandas that are ambushed by a rain of arrows. The surviving panda asks you to help him up because he “took an arrow to the knee.”



World of Warcraft takes reference from many games, film, and text which has built helped to build the game into the mega popular behemoth that it is. It nods to the great works of the past, present, and most likely will do the same for the future. While searching for references that Blizzard uses in World of Warcraft, I found one that was interesting and a little humorous to me. From the list of WoW references on the website I saw one for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I personally love that game, and I can safely assume that millions of others did as well.

If you’re a fan of The Elder Scrolls series or video game memes as well, you most likely have heard this joke multiple times. You’ve possibly heard it enough to make you hate it, just like a handful of forum members whose posts I read saying how cringe worthy it is. If you haven’t heard of it, here is the back story:

In Skyrim, the cities and towns are filled with guards that you are able to speak with. Sometimes they will talk to you on their own as well; either way you talk to them they will still start this conversation eventually. The guard will confess to you saying “I used to be an adventure like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee.”


Without knowledge of Nordic/Scandinavian history, a person could easily pass the joke up as a silly little phrase. To Nordics/Scandinavians, the phrase “I took an arrow to the knee” meant “I got married.” The World of Warcraft reference obviously was used in a different way, but it was still a nod to one of the best RPGs of all time.

I searched on the to look and find anything about the reference to Skyrim but could not find a single thing. After that I googled anything that would prove its existence and I came across a picture of the scene (shown above).

I believe that the “narrative” of World of Warcraft isn’t necessarily what everyone else believes it to be, and the ever growing total of references to other mediums has furthered my opinion for me. From what I have been able to tell, the narrative of the game has been based off of what has happened within the previous Warcraft games. With every expansion that Blizzard adds, it creates a tail of quests that are just mixed in with the game. Yes, I do believe that each quest is a part of the narrative, but I don’t believe they are a part of everyone’s own individual narrative from the game. This point, added with the fact that there is no clear main storyline set of quests for everyone to participate in shows that everyone has their own experience and story. They only live in the World of Warcraft, and participate in quests that have some things to do with the main story of the Warcraft series before Wow. Some people don’t even care about the quests and only do dungeons and battlegrounds. A person could choose to interact with other players, or choose to mainly go along solo. By choosing what they want to do, the person creates their own narrative. What I mean by this is; the only defined narrative story is what is defined before you start playing. After you start, you make the decisions that create your narrative.

On top of that, the references are used to nod to other works of art, as Bogost would say. They are used to shed light on games or series of games, books, films, and much of popular culture that World of Warcraft was inspired by or that Blizzard and society enjoys. This is another reason I believe that the reference to Elder Scrolls is interesting. It is clear that Blizzard created WoW in the image of its Warcraft series beforehand, which it derived its narrative from, but it is also clear that they took elements from other genres of games and other forms of narrative. That is why I believe these references are important to WoW, its creators, and its players. Even though not everyone might realize they are there, because each person is creating their own narrative that lives on top of the Warcraft series main story; not getting a chance to see everything the game has to offer.

Works Cited

“List of Pop Culture References in Warcraft/MoP.” – Wowpedia.

“What “Arrow to the knee” Really Means” – Elderscrollswiki

“Lore” – Wowwiki

Picture of panda “Arrow to the knee” reference on top of post

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5 Responses to The Importance of References and Thoughts on WoW’s True Narrative (Blog Post 3)

  1. Steph Roman says:

    This whole time I really thought those guards in Skyrim took literal arrows in their knees.

    Wow. Thanks for the insight.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. exelsisxax says:

    That this isn’t listed as a reference/easter egg of some sort is a lot more interesting than its inclusion in the game. Blizzard has had so many people working on this game they probably have multiple introductory textbooks for everybody coming onto the team, for both writers/artists and so that programmers don’t blow the whole thing up. But to have none of the players go and write about it on a wiki, which generally contain virtual totality of knowledge about a game, is just odd. Bethesda games ALWAYS get wiki pages dedicated entirely to what is hidden behind what waterfalls.

    Maybe the game is just too overwhelmingly crammed with quests that people just stop reading? I wonder how many people in our class still read the quest dialogue – even when most of us have never played WoW before, and are not close to being “done” 5% of the game. Anyway, I was going to make a certain joke about why players stop reading, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. strikefacehwc says:

    I don’t have the book in front of me to give you a proper citation, but the “arrow to the knee” in Skyrim is ALSO a reference to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss(published in 2007). Knowing that it also serves as a cultural reference makes that so much more clever in hindsight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pittpanther8 says:

    I think you have done a great job of showing the role that narrative has in the WoW world. I agree that aside from the opening credits, we do not really have to follow the same path and storyline to excel or advance in the game. I like the subtlety with which Blizzard has used to add the “arrow to the knee” line and their willingness to incorporate other popular gaming references.

    Liked by 1 person

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