The origin of “Press F to Pay Respects”

Where does this phrase come from?

Screengrab via Activision

The internet is full of popular memes that have been created from iconic moments in television, movies, and live shows—and video games are no exception.

The Call of Duty franchise has generated a lot of memes in its long history. “Remember, No Russian” from Modern Warfare has been changed and shifted to create a host of popular memes, including “Remember, no pre-orders.” But that can’t hold a candle to the insanely-popular “Press F to Pay Respects” meme from Advanced Warfare.

The meme has been used in a multitude of ways in recent years. Some use it as sarcasm when a speedrunner or a streamer pulls off an epic fail. Others, however, use it in legitimate times of grief, such as during the recent Jacksonville shooting tribute stream.

But where exactly does this phrase come from in the game? And how can you find it? Well, that’s where we come in.

Origin

In 2014, Activision released Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The game provided fans with the usual array of features associated with Call of Duty games, including single-player campaign, multiplayer, and zombies.

In the game’s campaign (which begins in 2054), you play as United States Marine Corps Private First Class Jack Mitchell, fighting off North Korean invaders as well as terrorist organizations that are trying to take down everything in their sight.

Toward the end of the first mission, Mitchell’s best friend, Private Will Irons, is killed in action. He gets his arm stuck in a vehicle that’s being blown up, but Irons pushes Mitchell away before it detonates—Mitchell loses his left arm in the process.

After you complete the campaign’s first mission, you attend Irons’ funeral. During this cutscene, the game prompts you to press a button to pay your respects for your fallen comrade.

Screengrab via Activision

In the PC version of the game, the F key is the chosen button, so a “Press F to Pay Respects” notification appears on screen.

The scene was heavily criticized, but content creators still found a way to create parody videos, draw hilarious comics, and, of course, make memes. Whether it’s in a serious or joking manner, you can expect to see this phrase flooding Twitch chat for years to come.