Lightning Bolt!

Lightning Bolt!

Part of a series on Viral Videos. [View Related Entries]

Updated Nov 18, 2011 at 03:30PM EST by James.

Added Nov 03, 2009 at 09:24PM EST by Tomberry.

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Lightning Bolt! (a.k.a Ogre Battle LARP) is a video clip of a live action role-playing (LARP) group engaged in a medieval skirmish reminiscent of Dungeons & Dragons. Among those playing on the side of humans was a guy dressed in a kilt, who kept yelling “Lightning Bolt” while pelting tiny beanbags at another guy dressed as an Ogre. Since gaining popularity across LARP communities in early 2000s, the video went viral and introduced the obscure hobby of live-action role playing to the general public.


Ogre: Aargh!
Wizard #1: Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!
Wizard #2: Sleep!
Wizard #1: Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!
Wizard #2: Sleep!
Wizard #1: Lightning Bolt!
Ogre: Death!
Wizard #1: Death!
Ogre: Urgh! (Dies)

In 2003, a video called “Ogre Battle” began circulating within LARP communities. That video started to get attention from non-LARPers, mainly laughing at it because it showed a man dressed in bizarre clothing yelling “Lightning Bolt!”, “Sleep!” and “Death!” while throwing what seemed to be pieces of paper to another man disguised as the ogre.

Because flash-based video players didn’t become common until around 2004, some people hosted the video directly on their websites, but most links are now dead.
One of the first website to host a streaming version of the video was MilkAndCookies in September 2003.

As one can see in the comment section of that website, the reactions were mostly negative. But, at the same time, this Lightning Bolt guy became instantly famous.

According to Brandon Boucher, the real name behind the Lightning Bolt guy, the video was shot during the summer of 2003 as an ad for a website called Legends Role Playing.

I’m actually the guy in the video and it was made by as advertisement for their game in central Mass.

Live Action Role-Playing

LARP is a simulation hobby that involves a group of people role-playing in their characters set in a fictional universe. There are tons of theatrical elements in live action role-playing, including weapon props, authentic costumes, manner of speech and dialogue. There are several sub-genres in LARP, ranging from science fiction to video games to medieval age. Also see: Alternate Universe.

Youtube Derivatives

The legend of Lightning Bolt was frequently referenced in forums, aggregator services and blogs. According to this thread from 2004

Those guys are a part of some role player group called The Knight Realms (that link is now dead) and they have some more videos on the site. I don’t think any of them are as funny as the ogre battle though.

Acording to another website, also from 2004

dear god… people at amtgard f*****g record that shit… now I am worried

Amtguard were believed to be the ones who recorded that video, which can also be found in mpeg format here. It has been denied by the aforementioned Brandon Boucher’s claim.

Here is also an Ebaumsworld archived thread from 2005 talking about the people behind that video.

The Urban Dictionary entry for Lightning Bolt was created in 2007. The video was also picked up by Digg. The meme quickly spread to YouTube with this video (+1.5 million views) uploaded in December 2005:

Once on Youtube, a number of derivatives followed.

Special Effects version

Lightning Bolt: The game

The Adventure of Lightning Bolt

Quiet Lightning Bolt (w/ Special Effect)

Dear Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt: “Attack of the Nerds”

free video hosting
Free Video Hosting
LARPing with Russ: Lightning bolt!

Someone made an iPhone app called iLightning!

The meme got an appearance in a Web-series called “Hero Envy”

It was also featured in a video called Internet People, among other Youtube celebrities

Star wars Universe – Lightning Bolt
(Got some problems with the embedding code, so here is the link to the video)

YTMND derivatives

Starting in the first months of 2004, YTMNDs have been made:

Use on Forums

Frequently, when the subject of LARP is first brought into conversation, it is often met with others writing “Lightning Bolt!” or posting a link to the infamous Lightning bolt video. It seems the Lightning Bolt video has become synonymous with LARP to non-LARPers.

Cultural References

  • Cartoonist Alina Pete referenced the quote in her blog Weregeek:

  • On Encyclopedia Dramatica, searching for “Lightning Bolt” redirects to the Role Playing entry.
  • Attractive Eighties Women, the American “comedy core” band (fronted by Adult Swim’s Mack Williams) wrote a tribute song to the meme, which was later featured on

Excerpt from their myspace page:

AEW were also featured on the Adult Swim ratings-smash Frisky Dingo. Their ode to LARPing, “Lightning Bolt”, was prominently featured in the show and on, winning them critical acclaim, college radio airplay and many new fans both in the U.S. and overseas.

Fame followup

Comedy Central featured the Lightning Bolt guy for their upcoming Tosh.O episode called The “LARPer’s Web Redemption”, the 2nd of June 2010.
Apreview from it can be found there
At the same time, that latter is also hosting his own website, called, in order to do a video blog about who he his and the fame he gained.
(Thanks to Brandon Boucher for the hint)

Here is the Tosh.O episode itself (with a quick joke toward furries) :

Extended interview available here :

Web Redemption – The LARPer’s Extended Interview
Web Redemption 2 Girls, 1 Cup Reaction Demi Moore Picture

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