Ha! They are indeed.
When I was running around earlier this year “closing out” all the Eriador zones, finishing off quest lines and completing deeds, I would occasionally need to visit some pretty remote NPCs and areas to get certain things completed. It dawned on me that with very few actual new players coming into the game, and most existing players using the instant level-up items to make their newly created characters high level, there are places in the game that I was visiting that might not have seen an actual player character in months or even longer.
It made me feel bad for the NPCs. Do they get lonely? When we’re not around do they have conversations?
“Hey, Nildor, remember that Champion guy that came through here last month, the one that ran all our quests?”
“Yeah. I still have the Bracers of Might and the 23 broken short bows he sold me. What the hells am I supposed to do with 23 broken short bows? Why did I even buy these?”
“He was a good guy. I wonder what happened to him? What do you think he’s doing right now?”
“Probably got eaten by a dragon. Now shut up, here comes Florii, by Durin’s beard she’s a looker!”
“Give it up Nildor! It’s been 10 years and you’ve gotten nowhere with her, she’s just not into you!”