In the 20th century, skulls made of crystal were showing up, with people claiming to have discovered them, and that they had Mayan or Aztec origins, and were said to have supernatural powers. Well, it's likely these were hoaxes. Not only were no skulls examined found in a documented excavation, all were dated from no earlier than the 19th century, and there are no authentic Native American or early modern colonial sources that describe anything analogous.
But fiction follows Rule of Cool
, and the supernatural powers attributed to these skulls are plenty for shows.
Also, despite the skulls actually being made of crystal, works of fiction often depict them as skulls that are simply Gem-Encrusted
of Public Domain Artifact
. Compare Ring of Power
, Mask of Power
, Flaming Skulls
, Crystal Ball
, Silver Has Mystic Powers
. Not to be confused with By the Power of Grayskull!
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had them as the skulls of extra-dimensional aliens with whole skeletons made of crystal.
- The Phantom revolved around gathering three mystic skulls carved entirely from precious materials, respectively silver, gold, and jade.
- In the second of The Librarian films, Flynn recovers a crystal skull early on as a prelude to show the kind of things he does.
- The plot of House II: The Second Story revolves around one of these skulls, which can (supposedly) grant immortality to its owner.
- A crystal skull was found in a giant alien pyramid in Stargate SG-1. It matched one found in an ancient Mayan temple back on Earth. Apparently, Quetzalcoatl was actually a giant alien - no surprise there - and the skulls are a way of contacting him.
- Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World used a crystal skull in its opening titles.
- The Goodies. A parody of Mysterious World had the crystal skull wishing everyone "Nighty night!"
- In an episode of Peep Show, Mark meets a woman whom he actually likes. Too bad for him she fervently believes in the magical powers of crystal skulls. This is a bit much for him.
- In an epic example of What Could Have Been, a planned but never filmed episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation would have featured an archaeologist studying the ruins of an ancient civilization (the "Faran Empire," of which the Ferengi homeworld was said to be a former colony). She finds a Crystal Skull that is said to have belonged to a line of ancient rulers. The Skull influences Riker's behavior and he becomes increasingly aggressive and egotistical while leading an away mission that is competing with the Ferengi to obtain the skull (it's the Ferengi equivalent of the Holy Grail) and learn the secrets of the Faran Empire. The episode would have ended with the destruction of the skull and the end of its influencing powers.
- Doctor Steel had a song called "Curse of the Crystal Skull", about greed for such an object that dooms a pirate.
- Indiana Jones (Stern) has a gimmick for each of the four Indiana Jones films. Naturally, a crystal skull is featured in the section for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
- The GURPS 3E supplement Warehouse 23 has an entry on a Crystal Skull. It's a Famously Mundane, Fictionally Magical version of a crystal skull that was found in Real Life in British Honduras in the 1920s. It allows its owner to cast the Divination spell, and it can use all Telepathic powers on its own.
- Their rather humorous site related to said sourcebook also has a number of related artifacts submitted by fans. Such as a headless Crystal Skeleton.
- The Mayan-themed board game Tzolkin features crystal skulls as a resource. They're used to take actions on the Chichen Itza section of the board, which scores big points and allows you to advance up one of the three temple tracks (which can net you even more points).
- Scion: Dr. Aaron Tigrillo, Scion of Tezcatlipoca, has a Crystal Skull to act as his guide, and source of magic.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG: Chronomaly Crystal Skull is based on "Crystal skulls".
- The Nancy Drew video game, Legend of the Crystal Skull
- Zork has a crystal skull treasure to collect.
- Parodied in Kingdom of Loathing with the crystal skull, which is used to scare away monsters and turns out to consist of worthless glass.
- In La-Mulana, the Crystal Skull is a late-game Plot Coupon that grants access to the Dimensional Corridor. Show it to Xelpud in the remake, and he'll comment that they made a terrible movie based on it.
- A crystal skull appears in Spelunky as a treasure in jungle levels. Trying to take one automatically summons a ghost, but bringing it to the exit is worth a lot of money.
- Fortune Summoners has an item called the crystal skull which increases max MP
- Atlantis III: The New World revolves around a crystal skull that contains the secret to humanity's evolution.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has a data file about crystal skulls that you can obtain by hacking a computer at Abstergo Entertainment in the modern-day section. Later, in Edward Kenway's story, a crystal skull turns out to be the Macguffin, as in, the object that makes the Observatory so sought after by the Templars.
- One shows up as one of the treasures in Wario Land Shake It. Complete with an amusing description:
- " ...From a crystal...man?"
- A late-game section of Flight of the Amazon Queen takes place in a temple where you must find a crystal skull.
- Parasite Eve 2 has a crystal skull as an item you can collect. Putting it in a slot in your armor would boost your attack and defense while using the item itself boosts your fire elemental powers by one level.
- Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time features the Turquoise Skull Zombie in the Lost City, who uses his Turquoise Skull to absorb sun and fire it out as a One-Hit Kill beam forward. His almanac even references that unlike crystal skulls, turquoise skulls are non-mysterious and common as dirt.
- A crystal skull is one of the artifacts you can find in Mii Trek in StreetPass Mii Plaza. Of course, it is linked to extraterrestrial involvement in the area. Your guide Beaksley is one such alien, though he isn't aware of it until later.
- A crystal skull was a powerful item sought in the first episode of Goldie Gold and Action Jack.
- The second season of American Dragon: Jake Long had a continuing plot of collecting the 13 crystal skulls. When they are brought together, one wish is granted to the bearer.
- All of the real crystal skulls, including the most notorious, the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, that have been subjected to scientific examination, have been determined to have been constructed using twentieth-century tools and machinery. Naturally those who believe (or want to believe) the story of the crystal skulls find ways to explain this away, such as saying the tool marks on the skulls aren't because they're modern hoaxes, they're because the ancient Maya had power tools.
- The British Museum now describes its crystal skull as "most-likely produced in the nineteenth century in Europe". A scientific examination of this skull and one owned by the Smithsonian Institution suggested that they had been shaped using lathe-mounted jewellers' wheels.
- Dan Aykroyd co-founded Crystal Head Vodka, arguably the Bunny-Ears Lawyer of spirits: a super-premium vodka ($100 for a fifth, and from the reviews worth every penny) which comes in a bottle shaped like a crystal-clear skull. He's very interested in the legend of the 13 Crystal Skulls.
- A company has actually made and put on retail a 3-dimensional puzzle made of "crystalline" plastic that can be assembled to form a miniature skull.
- On extremely rare occasions, bones can become gemstone rather than common stone; the process is called opalization and has been known to occur to skulls.