There are far more MMORPG tv shows and MMO movies than you’d expect. Here are the best of them...
The 10 Best MMORPG Shows and Movies About MMO Games
It's testament to the cultural impact of MMO games that they're featured so far and wide in other media. And while some MMORPG tv shows and MMO movies certainly wouldn't win any Oscars, there's a handful that are actually pretty great.
Note that this MMO movie list is not exploring films which are MMO adjacent like Westworld, the Truman Show, or the Matrix. Instead, it's a rundown of the best movies about MMO games specifically. If you're interested in which hit tv shows would theoretically make the best MMO games, then you're going to want to read this instead.
We'll have a separate list of anime series about MMO Games coming out next month so stay tuned for that too. In the meantime, here's 10 shows, episodes, web series, and movies about MMO Games:
10. Mythic Quest (2020)
A relatively recent entry in the world of MMO tv shows, Mythic Quest is brought to you by Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney, two of the devilish minds behind It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. While it lacks the edge and punch of Sunny, it's a well put-together comedy set in the game studio of the imaginary MMORPG, Mythic Quest, as it attempts to retain its position as the go-to MMORPG.
Mythic Quest the game is a fantasy MMORPG clearly based off World of Warcraft and it's struggles to stay #1 amid a changing market. Fun fact: the game footage they use in the show is actually produced by Ubisoft alongside Lionsgate and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Over hundreds of years, the game world deteriorates into a great war as some Mortys wish to escape the Platonic Cave of their virtual existence whereas others fight to stay
9. Dead Pixels (2019-2021)
British TV shows always tend to be more grounded than US ones. And unlike Mythic Quest, Dead Pixels isn't about high-flying game developers fighting the crunch, but a trio of British nobodies (Meg, Nicky, and Usman) avoiding the mundanity of normal life by escaping inside their favourite MMO, Kingdom Scrolls.
Dead Pixels strikes us as one of those shows that came out just a bit too late to make it big. Had it arrived ten years earlier, we really suspect it would have been a smash hit. Clearly written by gamers with a nostalgia for MMORPGs' golden years, yet with comedy aimed at a younger audience than those who yearn those days, it was never particularly clear who Dead Pixels was aimed at. Still, it has a growing following on both sides of the pond -- thanks to the many, many relatable gaming moments.
8. The Guild (2006-2013)
The Guild was a much timelier release. Coming out in 2006, it was first released as a YouTube web and, while never picked up by Fox or HBO, it did make it onto Netflix. As well as winning awards (including 6 Streamy Awards, 4 IAWTV Awards, and "Best Web Series" from the Producers' Guild of America), The Guild developed a cult following that remains to this day.
You can still watch it for free online, and you'll be pleased to see that it's mostly withstood the tests of time. 70 episodes and over 300 million views are testaments to the show's appeal, but if you're looking for some Hollywood geek credibility, how about the fact that Stan Lee guest starred as well as Brent Spiner and Nathan Fillion. That's the sort of goodness you get rewarded with when you have a show about gaming that's the brainchild of someone who really games (Felicia Day).
7. Kiss Me First (2018)
Take the alienated British youth of Dead Pixels and throw in a cultish virtual-reality dystopia with real-life consequences. The result? The gripping and underrated "cyber-thriller" Kiss Me First. While escaping life via an intriguing VR MMORPG utopia named Azana, protagonist Leila is simultaneously led on thrilling out-of-game adventures by mysterious individuals she met in-game.
With a central plot of hidden identities and dark mystery, it's a unique concept which felt in many ways ahead of its time. It's written by Bryan Elsley who made arguably the most iconic show about disaffected British youth -- Skins. And while it doesn't live up to his magnus opus, Kiss Me First is a tantalising, creative and intriguing story exploring the darker elements of gaming communities.
6. The Office US -- Local Ad -- S4E9 (2007)
Whether you prefer the British or the US version of The Office, there's no denying that Dwight is a glorious character whose quirks you can't help but love. One of those oddities, as we discover in the episode Local Ad, is his love for the notorious game, Second Life.
The majority of the episode revolves around the office's employees creating a commercial, but Dwight, depressed from his breakup with Angela, does his own thing and dives deep into Second Life -- a game notorious for letting players live out their wildest fantasies.
The wildest perfect fantasies of paper-salesman Dwight Schrute, however, are that of paper-salesman Dwight Shelford whose life is identical to Schrute's other than the fact his relationship didn't end. This Dwight then creates a virtual second life named Second Second Life. Jim later enters Second Life too to spy on Dwight #2... hijinks ensue.
5. Free Guy (2021)
Ah the simple life of the NPC! Free Guy is arguably the biggest budget movie indubitably about an MMORPG. Clearly inspired by games like GTA Online and Saints Row, Guy is just a measly city-dwelling bank teller NPC with aspirations above his station. Directed by Shawn Levy, Free Guy has an all-star cast including Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, and Taika Waititi.
It's a chaotic, fun-filled action-comedy with some brilliant action sequences. Sure, it's stupid and it's predictable but if you're a gamer looking for a great Sunday evening watch, you can't do much better. The ending is a heart-warming and ridiculous climax as gamers and NPCs rally together against the greed of game studios willing to wipe their beloved game world to create a more profitable sequel. Sound familiar?
4. Ready Player One (2018)
Another big-budget blockbuster is Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One which explores a metaverse-esque futuristic MMORPG. The game is one of few remaining bastions of enjoyment amid a real world that has descended into dystopia as wealth inequality reaches its inevitable extremes.
Expect an against-all-odds, David vs Goliath adventure movie with high-octane action scenes, budding romances, and well-timed quips. It's your usual blockbuster stuff but it features an amazing soundtrack, stunning visual effects, and well... it's a sci-fi movie about MMO games, so we freakin' love it.
3. South Park -- Make Love, Not Warcraft -- S10E8
No list of MMO tv shows and MMORPG movies would be complete without mention of the funniest South Park episode ever -- Make Love, Not Warcraft. As a game-breaking villain ("How do you kill that which has no life?") overtakes Azeroth, the gang and Randy have to rally together to defeat him before their favourite game (World of Warcraft) is ruined forever.
The episode comes complete with a Rocky Balboa-style training montage, only rather than getting muscly in the snow it features carpal tunnel, toilet buckets, Mountain Dew, and a descent into the depths of a gamer pit. While yes, the show is absolutely targeting us MMO gamers with its jokes, any South Park fan knows that you need a thick skin. And it is, inarguably, hilarious.
2. Rick & Morty -- Five Billion Mortys -- S6E2 (2022)
One of the most recent episodes of Rick & Morty presents two parallel storylines. While Summer is "doing a Die Hard" in an alien amusement arcade, Rick enters a video game "Roy -- A Life Well Lived" which is inhabited entirely by NPC Mortys (each of whom is one 5 billionth of the real Morty).
Some of these Morty fractions realise they're in an MMO, Free Guy style, so capitalise on their situation to become president. Others, like Martha, are trapped in a conundrum between truth outside-the-game and happiness inside-the-game. Thanks to time dilation, over hundreds of years, the game world deteriorates into a great war as some Mortys wish to escape the Platonic Cave of their virtual existence whereas others fight to stay. What else should we expect from the mind of Dan Harmon?
1. eXistenZ (1999)
So here's one you might not have heard of. eXistenZ is a weird and disturbing sci-fi horror movie by David Cronenberg that we certainly wouldn't recommend for young audience. It was shunned at time of its release but since then has become a film of considerable critical acclaim.
Set in the near-future, bionic implants have replaced electronic headsets increasing the immersion in a new VR game. Or at least, that's how things seem. It's a difficult film to describe without giving out spoilers, so we suggest you discover the twists and turns of the movie yourself.
Whether this is truly a movie about an MMORPG is hard to say, not least because MMORPGs barely existed in the way we know them today at the time of its production. Sure, Neverwinter Nights was around, but EverQuest, after all, wasn't even released until 1999.
We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of MMORPG themed TV shows and MMO movies. Stay tuned for next month's article where we'll run through the best MMORPG anime shows (of which there's now an entire genre). In the meantime, why not dream what hit TV shows like TWD, Vikings, Stranger Things, and Doctor Who would be like as MMO games?
Alex Sinclair-Lack is MMO Games' Head of Content; after having to delete his Twitter before a trip to Iran, he now has a grand total of 14 followers. Be a star and help make it 15.