Press ‘F’ to Pay Respects – Meaning and Origin
Press ‘F’ to Pay Respects: It’s one of the most well-known video-game-based meme moments we’ve seen – and it found its origin in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Over five years ago, the game premiered one of the most… bizarre scenes in video game history. But, what does Press F to Pay Respect mean?
The original scene
It starts well enough. It starts out well enough. The game sets up a somber, emotional scene. A funeral is going on, for one of the soldiers who died in South Korea, the best friend of our protagonist Jack Mitchell. Set in 2054, the game features a new conflict, a new war the player has to fight through. The scene is quite serious, with delicate music playing as each of the previous soldiers walks past and touches the coffin of their fallen friend and comrade.
Then, it’s the protagonist’s turn. We walk up to the coffin, and a prompt appears on the screen. “Press ‘F’ to pay respects”. It tears up the moment, destroying all the emotional charge the game managed to build up. Once the player follows the prompt, their character touches the coffin… and off we go.
It mocks the otherwise well-crafted scene and rather ruins the immersion. There are plenty of moments like that in gaming – character choices that let us either hug the crying widow or pickpocket her purse, for example. What aims to be a moral choice just as easily can make a serious moment into an absolute parody.
That’s exactly what made press F such a perfect choice – a simple prompt entirely inappropriate for the moment it is happening in. It didn’t take long to cross from ‘gaming fail’ over to this popular Call of Duty meme.
Press F to Pay Respects Meaning
Even when it may seem obvious, the F meme is just a way to pay respects to the fallen. It is now used to either show sympathy for someone in disgrace or to mock them as they fail. So, you may see a lot of F on the internet right now, there are even friends using F in the chat when they get killed in their games (Fun fact, this is not limited to the CoD or even the FPS communities, there are tons of F in LoL chats as well).
See also: Call of Duty vs Fortnite
What game does Press F to Pay Respects come from? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released in 2014. One of a long series of CoD titles, it features most of the same elements that players are used to. Single-player, multi-player, zombies, and so on. The player takes on the role of a US Marine Corps Private First Class and fights in a conflict between the US and Korea, as well as some terrorists for good measure.
At the end of the first mission, the player’s best friend is killed in an explosion, saving our player’s life. Outside of the coffin scene, the story was praised by critics and fans alike – the scene itself faced heavy criticism though, despite the success of the game.
The Meme “Press ‘F’ to Pay Respects“
It now finds its use in just about any situation – usually as a mockery. A joking way to show ‘sympathy’ in the face of a ‘tragedy’, like someone dropping a pen. The less impactful, the better suited the meme is to the situation.
In some, fairly rare cases, it’s used as a sincere way of showing empathy – for example on the stream of the Jacksonville shooting a few years ago. This is definitely the less common use though; Press ‘F’ tends to be used more in joking situations. There are even countless parody videos featuring it – and even unprompted, gamers all around the world have taken to commenting ‘F’ under things. From embarrassing public moments to failed attempts to qualify for an esports tournament, ‘F’ has managed to permeate every possible space – it’s one of the Internet’s favorite reactions!
There are meme templates of the particular moment of the Call of Duty title.
How did F become popular?
The thing is that the meme had to come from somewhere, right? And this is no exception. In the case of “Press F to Pay Respects” it was the popular streaming that made it go as far as today kids using F to comfort (or mock) a friend in disgrace.
So, as the game became public a YouTuber nicknamed Doku launched a nice video with the title “Hold X to pay respects” (Which refers to the command requested on the console version). But the next day is what boomed the meme, the host of the Late Night Show, Conan O´Brien opened his “clueless gamer” episode in which he actually reviewed CoD: Advanced Warfare’s playability.
Internet then made its job when the community received yet another parody of the game entitled COD Advanced Weedfare: Intense Respect Paying. With this, it was just a matter of time as the internet even gave us a Press F to Pay Respects song.