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Leeroy Jenkins or pulling a Leeroy

What does Leeroy Jenkins mean?

Leeroy Jenkins is a word used to describe a person or thing that causes everything to go wrong for everyone else, usually in some extraordinary fashion.

Where does Leeroy Jenkins come from?

The term originates from the online multiplayer video game World of Warcraft, where Leeroy Jenkins was the username of player Ben Schulz. In May 2005, the video “A Rough Go,” first appeared on the World of Warcraft fan site WarcraftMovies.com. In the clip, a team of Warcraft players are seen in a dungeon, working together to come up with a detailed strategy for taking on the baby dragons in the next room. Suddenly, Schulz’s character Leeroy Jenkins separates from the crowd. He ignores the careful planning of his teammates, and charges headfirst into the room screaming his own name as a battlecry: “Leeeroooooy Jeeeenkins!” The actions of Leeroy result in his entire team getting killed, much to their annoyance.

“A Rough Go” became a pop-culture phenomenon, with references in such TV shows as South Park, My Name is Earl, The Daily Show, and even Jeopardy. The idea of pulling a Leeroy quickly came to be synonymous with being the one person who, through their own impatience and impulsiveness, sabotages a carefully planned situation, and causes the colossal failure of whatever goal they were working to achieve. While there is some speculation that the video may have been staged, a theory that Schulz has neither confirmed nor denied, the concept is no less universal.

In the Warcraft expansion Warlords of Draenor, the developers finally answered popular demand by incorporating an official Leeroy Jenkins character into the game as a non-player character. He was also included as a card in the official World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, though playing that card is detrimental to a player’s team. Additionally Leeroy Jenkins appears on a card in another Warcraft universe spin-off game called Hearthstone, however, summoning him gives a player’s opponent two minions.

A few things to note…

As the original Leeroy Jenkins video depicted a scene from the video game World of Warcraft, references to Leeroy Jenkins are most common among gaming communities. Because many games depend upon teamwork between the players, Leeroy Jenkins-type actions are widely despised. While a Leeroy can mean pulling crazy stunts like the battle charge made by Ben Schulz, it can also be applied to something as mundane as going away from the computer without telling the other players.

In real life, a Leeroy Jenkins, more simply, screws up situations for everyone else. For example, if a group of friends are going to a concert and the one in charge of bringing the tickets forgets them at home, that person could be accused of “being a Leeroy Jenkins.”

The full term is often shortened to Leeroy, or expanded to pulling a Leeroy, or sometimes even throwing a Leeroy.

For example…

“The meme evolved from a video of a group of WoW players planning a raid when one player, known as Leeroy Jenkins, went rogue and spoiled the raid. The video, uploaded in May 2005, went viral before ‘going viral’ was really even a thing. It was alluded to on TV shows including My Name is Earl and in movies like Wreck-it-Ralph.”

Maya Rhodan, “The World of Warcraft Leeroy Jenkins Meme is 10 Years Old,” Time (May 12, 2015)

“Everyone everywhere has pulled a Leeroy. 'There's something more universal about this guy who screws things up for everybody than someone who is the best at something,' says Henry Lowood, curator for film and media collections at Stanford University.”

Joel Warner, “The Legend of Leeroy Jenkins,” Westword (March 8, 2007)

“Yeah it's all about getting your teammates on the same page so you don't end up pulling a Leeroy.”

Only1nDreams Reddit (September 10, 2014)

This is not a formal definition of Leeroy Jenkins like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Leeroy Jenkins that will help you expand your word mastery.