I’ve heard the “arrow in the knee” joke pop up in a few discussions around here and elsewhere, mostly related to Skyrim. I’m aware that this is probably in reference to a generic quote said by many NPCs (mostly guards) in the game.
However, I’m wondering if there’s an older reference I might be missing by not having played any of the previous Elder Scrolls games – like the sweet rolls?
For that kind of Meme, you can find every information you need on knowyourmeme.com:
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the town guard non-player characters
(NPCs) have several stock lines they will repeat when the player walks
near them, including a bewildered statement about “curved swords”, a
patronizing statement about “sweetroll” theft, and the melancholy
confession “I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow
in the knee.” The restating of such a specific story over and over
again by so many different guards caused it to be noticed by players,
who then proceeded to post about it in gaming forums and image boards.
Along with the game itself, the video below helps give the idea that
almost every guard in Skyrim became a guard due to the life altering
results of receiving an arrow to the knee.
So you were right: that’s a NPC quote (and it doesn’t come from older versions).