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10 Years Ago Today: Shacknews remembers Leeroy Jenkins

Before YouTube memes became all-too-commonplace, there was Leeroy Jenkins. Ten years ago today, his video hit the online world for the first time. Today, Shacknews remembers the phenomenon that was Leeroy.

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World of Warcraft has been a cultural phenomenon for most of the 21st century. It's spread across many facets of pop culture, including numerous references and parodies that span all the way to its own episode of South Park. It's defined an entire genre of video games, taking the torch from Everquest and never letting it go.

As such a major institution, World of Warcraft's fanbase has also helped contribute to its ongoing popularity, with artwork, fiction, and even videos. However, no video has become more recognizable and a greater part of World of Warcraft than one submitted by a man named Leeroy.

On this day ten years ago, Leeroy uploaded this video to the fan site WarCraft Movies. An entire party of WoW players, a guild called Pals For Life, were preparing to enter the Upper Blackrock Spire, an area of the game filled with dragonspawn. The entire party spent over a minute discussing their strategy through the game's voice chat.

"What we'll do, I'll run in, gather up the eggs, blast them all with AoE," it all began and went from there. There was a back and forth between the party members, since this raid was one of the most difficult of the game. Everything had to be planned to the second. They needed number crunches. They had to have their timing hashed out. Everyone needed to be ready. But as they were still in the planning phase, they heard one of their party members yell abrasively over the microphone.

"LEEEEEEEEERRRRRRROOOOOOYYYYYYYY JEEEEEEEEEEEENNKKKKIIIINNNNNNSSSSSS!!!"

The party suddenly realized that one of their members had stupidly rushed in without waiting, so they all went in after him and the rest is history.

The video spread like wildfire over the internet in the following days, months, and years. The original video was posted to YouTube years later, where it currently has over 43 million views. It left such a lasting impression that Blizzard immortalized the character by making Leeroy Jenkins a part of its storied lore. Leeroy was made a part of the Alliance in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, a Paladin with the tendency to rush in without thinking. The MMORPG itself also honored the character by adding the Jenkins achievement to Patch 3.0.2, which was awarded after killing 50 rookery whelps in 15 seconds.

And of course, Leeroy has found a home in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, as one of the game's strongest Legendary characters. In fact, Leeroy was so strong, he needed to be nerfed at one point.

Meanwhile, the real Leeroy Jenkins is known as Ben Schulz, a WoW user from Denver, Colorado. His legend quickly spread after the video was uploaded. He would stay a major part of the WoW scene for years, with Blizzard even inviting him to BlizzCon 2007 to work the commentary team for that year's WoW tournament. Shortly afterwards, Schulz retired from WoW and focused on his college career, where he focus on becoming an electrical engineer.

Even with Schulz stepping away from WoW and Leeroy, the man has left his mark on the world of video games for years to come. It isn't just the character's induction in Blizzard lore, the numerous parodies, or even the Jeopardy! question. Leeroy's legacy is also in helping launch YouTube as a viral marketing phenomenon for gaming. He was the voice everyone recognized before the word "meme" become common lexicon. Before the Borderlands Claptrap shorts, there was Leeroy. Before the many mod fail videos of Grand Theft Auto V, there was Leeroy. Before the Team Fortress 2 shorts, there was Leeroy. Leeroy Jenkins helped launch an entirely new way to enjoy video games, one that (ironically, enough) didn't involve playing them.

There's nothing more to say. Time's up! Let's do this!

Senior Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    May 11, 2015 1:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, 10 Years Ago Today: Shacknews remembers Leeroy Jenkins

    • reply
      May 11, 2015 1:02 PM

      ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yes. good times. :D also recall the onyxia 50DKP minus guy.

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        May 11, 2015 1:19 PM

        is that the "MORE DOTS" guy also?

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          May 11, 2015 5:56 PM

          I don't see enough DOTS! More DOTS! MORE DOTS! OK, stop DOTS.

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          May 11, 2015 6:20 PM

          I will take things I don't miss about MMOs and working on MMOs for $200, Alex.

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            May 12, 2015 6:35 AM

            Definitely. Any time someone waxes nostalgic about WoW's early raiding days I remind them of this and resistance gear. Those rose-tinted shades are powerful on the memory.

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              May 12, 2015 7:03 AM

              All I hear is tedium and drama.

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      May 11, 2015 6:21 PM

      That was 10 years ago?! :o

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      May 11, 2015 7:00 PM

      dang. made it to jeopardy only 7 months after the video was first uploaded? that's viral as fuck.

      ty ozzie. didn't know that.

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      May 11, 2015 7:12 PM

      That is the absolute most shit quality video of that you could have posted https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hooKVstzbz0

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        May 11, 2015 7:40 PM

        Looking at that years later it looks staged as all hell

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          May 11, 2015 10:42 PM

          I thought everyone knew it was a skit from the beginning?

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            May 12, 2015 12:51 AM

            Yes I always assumed it was a skit.

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              May 12, 2015 1:08 AM

              I think they admitted to it

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        May 11, 2015 7:50 PM

        Seriously... here's another good version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVZ50qAQrpc

        Mods, please fix the terrible terrible version in the story, you don't even hear the LEEROY JENKINS in the audio AT ALL, so it's totally pointless for the story.

        • reply
          May 11, 2015 8:13 PM

          That was the original YT upload from 2007, the referenced video with 43M+ views. Quality, in this case, is irrelevant. (I also linked to the original clip from ten years ago, so click on that one, if you're so inclined.)

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            May 11, 2015 8:23 PM

            Don't get defensive. Just read between the internet jerk wad lines. What he's really saying, "hey ozzie, wow you actually made an article out of leroy jenkins. I expected a shitty clickbait three line blurb and a video link like I see some other sites posting, but you awed me with some jenkins facts I didn't even know existed. Thanks for putting some effort into this. It really impresses me that you spent an extra 30 minutes or more into this little internet artifact instead of just posting the video and exclaiming LEEEEEROOOOOY JEEEENKINS! Oh, by the way, here's a a link to a high quality version, bud. Thanks for keeping our little vomit spewing shithole alive for another day so I can vomit more shit all over the internet tomorrow.

            TY. <3s & *s. love always."

            -paet

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            May 11, 2015 10:53 PM

            Hmmm, I guess that *is* the first version on youtube, but quality is sorta relevant when you can't hear the famous phrase in the video. :/

            I think Youtube/Google re-encoded old videos at some point and fucked up the audio, otherwise the number of likes on the video wouldn't make sense...

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        May 11, 2015 8:16 PM

        hey, at least he uplinked the original upload site. there are a ton of youtube uploads at 240p

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      May 11, 2015 8:19 PM

      I still fail to see how this went so viral. Is it the mild racism?

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        May 11, 2015 8:23 PM

        I think it was more about how it subverted and poked fun at super serious WoW guilds.

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          May 11, 2015 10:24 PM

          yup. the critical mass of SRS BIDNESS. I bet EQ trolling had this capacity in theory and events in practice, but the capture hardware wasn't there at the time, nor was the bandwidth/codecs for everyone to readily download/stream longer videos like this.

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      May 11, 2015 10:30 PM

      "At least I have chicken"

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      May 11, 2015 10:33 PM

      needs more raid videos from the old GCR days

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        May 11, 2015 10:43 PM

        earthbind highway. sweet fucking xenu how we pulled that off is a fucking miracle. in fact the entirety of BWL was a miracle. let us reflect on the folks that didn't bring their onyxia cloaks.

        it's weird I'm told there was a zone called "ZG" but I talked to blizzard and that in fact never existed and any memories from that zone are fabricated. WHEW.

        man we're gonna have to journal/chronicle/blog some of that shit.

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          May 11, 2015 10:52 PM

          i still have idols in my bank :(

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          May 11, 2015 11:56 PM

          I still have my cloak in the bank on my hunter. Thats the only character I have thats managed not be deleted and rerolled from way back then.

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        May 11, 2015 10:56 PM

        link em, fucker!

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          May 11, 2015 11:04 PM

          I know Gnowknayme has a few maybe Crimsonbeak?

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            May 12, 2015 12:19 AM

            I actually ran across all of them on my backup drive the other day. If there's really interest I could put them up.

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              May 12, 2015 1:35 AM

              DOOOOO EEEEEEEEEEET!!!!1

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      May 11, 2015 11:23 PM

      Jesus christ, its been 10 years? D:

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      May 12, 2015 1:13 AM

      Not being a WoW player I had no idea the person himself became such a fixture.

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      May 12, 2015 1:43 AM

      Leeroy + shadowstep + shadowstep you will be missed forever

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      May 12, 2015 4:36 AM

      if they didn't all rush in after him they may have salvaged the situation.

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        May 12, 2015 10:23 AM

        But then it wouldn't have been a very good parable!

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      May 12, 2015 6:13 AM

      It's still my second favorite WoW video, next to the funeral raid.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHJVolaC8pw