Although my wife hasn't made shirts in a long while since re-rolling a Jewelcrafting Warlock, she's still sometimes surprised by strangers who greet her when she comes online or talks over Trade. Total strangers would say things like, "if you don't have a <my wife's toon> shirt you fail at life" or "I would rather be naked than not wear <my wife's toon>". One even creepily asked her how our 6-month old daughter was doing (apparently he had heard it through an old guildie). It's amusing to see that my wife has carved her own little niche on our server and I realized just how we can get a little fame in the game through the little things we do.
For certain, there are some personalities on each server, some more famous than others. On our server, the previously mentioned Scarab Lord was widely looked upon with awe as much as vilification, with supporters and haters chiming in whenever he spoke on the Trade channel (which he used to do a lot). Many other players get their fame by being vocal on the official realm and class forums. These days, some players are recognizable through their achievements in Arenas, strutting their Armored Nether Drakes through Shattrath City, while others still have made names for themselves by being extremely well-geared and progressing swiftly through the endgame. Although the latter are probably famous more as Guilds rather than individuals, there are some personalities that simply stand out.
Who are the famous people on your server? I think this is one of the things that make each server unique, with some players recognizable for their achievements (or notorious for their antics), or simply by being extremely vocal over the General and Trade channels. Despite the fact that some players now opt to transfer to greener pastures, there are those who have gained a modicum of fame on their servers. There are a few players -- such as top Arena players -- who transcend their servers and bring their fame and reputation to the servers they transfer to. Before his employment at Blizzard, Tigole was a Guild leader in Everquest whose Guild was responsible for many world-firsts, but also notably, he and his partner Furor (yeah, the ice cream guys) were very vocal on the EQ community boards.
Of course, those levels of fame are extraordinary. Some players even go to the extent of massive self-promotion with self-declarations of being the best <class> in the world. Here on WoW Insider, we pay homage to the average joe who's made his mark with 15 Minute of Fame, no self-promotion necessary. I enjoy this game because it allows even the humblest efforts, such as pride in one's profession, to pay off with the appreciation of our fellow players. That's one of the cool things about MMOs. In our own ways, I'm sure we've made an impact on those we've met along the way, and beyond being recognized by our friends, perhaps a few of us have even become almost famous.