The Meaning of “Press F to Pay Respects” And Its Origin


“Press F to pay respects” is used in not just gaming culture but also by social media users across the globe. The meme might not make sense to you if you have not played Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but if you haven’t played the title, here is a quick look at the meaning of “Press F to pay respects”. The meme is used both ironically during fun times and legitimately during sad moments. “Press F to pay respects” is still used years after the release of Advanced Warfare. But what is the story behind this incredibly popular meme that we have been using since 2014? Let’s find out.

The Meaning of “Press F to Pay Respects”

Press F to Pay Respects OriginalImage via Activision

The phrase “Press F to Pay Respects” originated in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The game had the standard Call of Duty campaign which was short but memorable thanks to the presence of a high-profile cast featuring Hollywood actors. In one of the opening segments of the game after you complete your prologue mission, you visit the grave of your best friend. This is where the game asks you to “Press F to Pay Respects” as a quick-time event.

The meme makes sense only if you are a PC player as the F key is replaced with “X” on the PS4/Xbox controller. It’s a short quick-time event that spawned countless memes throughout the years. The image that is often used shows protagonist Private Jack Mitchell at a funeral scene with his best friend Will Irons.

[Spoiler Warning]: When you play the campaign, you start off as Mitchell who is on a mission with Irons. As you proceed through the first mission, you notice that the protagonist gets his arm stuck in a vehicle that is being blown up. Irons saves your life by pushing you out of the way before the vehicle detonates but Mitchell ends up losing his left arm. After the end of the first mission, you enter the funeral scene where you get to the “Press F to Pay Respects” scene.

The Spread of “Press F to Pay Respects” in Online Culture

On November 2nd 2014, Youtuber doku uploaded the scene where you have to press F to pay respects in the game and it triggers a scene where you touch a casket. The original video gained over 500,000 views over the years. A day after the video was uploaded, Conan O’Brien reviewed the game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare as part of his Clueless Gamer series which made the meme even more popular. Over the years, the meme has been used even outside of gaming culture and is one of the most recognizable memes the Call of Duty community has produced.

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