Skeletons in the Coat Closet
note Someone who no doubt appreciates them as symbols of mortality and death. The wearer of such attire must surely lead a hardened lifestyle of murder, combat and death-bringing. Perhaps you could say that they're... bad to the bone? Alternatively, they could just be cavemen or other "uncivilized" people, making the most of the all-natural materials available. Might be constructed of Nothing but Skulls. See Genuine Human Hide for the skin equivalent and Human Resources for anything else anatomical equivalent. A staple of Obviously Evil design. Compare Creepy Souvenir, Spikes of Villainy and Chained by Fashion. See also Bad with the Bone and Ballistic Bone when bones are used as Improvised Weapons.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Berserk's Skull Knight invokes this trope through his distinctively skeletal armor. Unusually for the trope, he's one of the few unambiguous good guys of the saga, if a serious hardass.
- Nonon Jakuzure of Kill la Kill incorporates skull and bone designs◊ into her marching band outfits◊. Even her Nudist Beach outfit has a skull design on the hat. Fittingly enough, she is the nastiest member of the Elite Four.
- Castra of Death Parade wears a skull helmet. It may be related to her job - she's an organization clerk for the afterlife and her alternate title is the Queen Of The Dead.
- Two of the Shards of Alara, feature this trope. The goblins of Jund are eaten by basically everything on the shard, and wield bone weapons and armor, while the entirety of Grixis uses bone gear due to corpses lasting forever there and not much else.
- Almost fifteen real life years before those, Armor Thrulls were specifically bred for this purpose by the Order of the Ebon Hand (in Fallen Empires of all sets).
- Then there's the Skull Knight series of cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!
- Mystique from X-Men wears a belt of skulls.
- Deathmonger from Empowered wears the skull of a dead superhero as a mask.
- Taskmaster's costume always incorporates some sort of skull mask, which has ranged over the years from vaguely skull-like to what looks like actual bone to stylized ballistic armour.
- The faceplates worn by the Hunters and Omega Hunters in Extinctioners are stylized human skulls despite their targets being anthropomorphic animals which is the first hint to the Hunters being human.
- Used in Requiem Chevalier Vampire a lot, mostly by vampires, but not only. Most of the vampires' technology is also skull-shaped.
- Judge Dredd:
- Several of the Dark Judges, in addition to actually being undead, dress themselves in alternate Judge uniforms with human bones on them.
- Some dwellers in the Cursed Earth dress like this.
Films — Animation
- Subverted in the How to Train Your Dragon Film Short sequel, Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon where the heroes hunt down the apparently aggressive dragon and he looks like the stuff of nightmares. However, when he finally gets the last bone needed to complete his armor from Gobber, he turns out to be a friendly sort who freely volunteers to fly the shipwrecked bunch home.
- In Epic all Boggans wear skulls on their heads and skins on their coats. Professor Bomba found some Boggan apparel beforehand, which MK, Nod and Ronin steal to infiltrate the Boggan lair.
- 7 in 9, wears a bird skull (dubbed the 'Skullmet'), which functions as a Cool Helmet/Cool Mask.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facillier has a skull mask heavily implied to be made of real human bone. As his character and powers take heavy inspiration from Voodoun religion, this is a nod to that as well as a case of Shown Their Work.
Films — Live-Action
- The Kurgan in Highlander wears a skull as a helmet in medieval Scotland.
- General Kael, The Dragon to Queen Bavmorda in Willow wears a helm with a skull mask. An unusually realistic depiction, as while the metal parts were useful and saved him from a blow to the head, the bone shattered when it was hit.
- Mola Ram in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has a skull as part of his headdress, and various bones as part of his jewelry.
- In Serenity, the ship is disguised as a Reaver ship by covering it with bones, blood and corpses.
- Battle Butler Igor in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (he serves the former) wears an armour made of bones.
- Part of the killer's mask in Midnight Movie is a skull.
- One of the villains in Slashers wears a sash covered in small bones.
- Army of Darkness: After Ash's Enemy Without becomes necrotized and takes charge of the Deadite army, he starts wearing a skull-like helmet.
- Drizzt's arch-nemesis Artemis Entreri wields Charon's Claw, a sword with bones for a hilt.
- Subverted with another of Drizzt's main enemies, Obould Many-Arrows. He has a helmet crafted to look like a skull, but is in made of glass-steel, a super-hard, transparent material.
- Cohen The Barbarian from Discworld has dentures made out of troll teeth. Discworld trolls, being made of "metamorphorical" rock, have diamond teeth. Also, a troll mobster makes cufflinks out of his enemies' teeth. Other trolls like to wear belts of human and dwarf skulls, but in recent, more politically correct times, sheep skulls have become a substitute (after a short experiment with monkey skulls. Either there was too much similarity in size and approximate shape for most dwarfs to tell the difference or the Librarian took issue). The real tough troll criminals don't bother; they just beat you over the head with your own arm until you get the message rather than run the risk of inflaming dwarfs with no grounding in forensic anthropology unnecessarily.
- In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, Faction Paradox members wear ceremonial masks created from the skulls of creatures "that really shouldn't have existed in the first place anyway".
- Rattleshirt from A Song of Ice and Fire is the leader of a band of barbarian raiders who wears bones sewn together as armor, with a giant's skull as a helmet. His nickname comes from the way they clack together as he moves. He personally prefers the title "Lord o' Bones." Although Rattleshirt isn't diabolically evil, he doesn't have any redeeming qualities either. Notably, his appearance outside of his armor is singularly unimpressive.
- In later chapters of The Way of Kings, Kaladin wears the grown armor and bones of fallen Parshendi warriors to enrage them, drawing their attention toward himself and away from his fellow bridgemen.
- Relatively understated example in The Lies of Locke Lamora. Capa Vencarlo Barsavi has a wardrobe that replaces buttons with human teeth.
- Rattleshirt aka "the Lord of Bones" in Game of Thrones wears armor made up of bones sewn together.
- The villainous Kamen Rider Fifteen, the Big Bad of Heisei Rider Vs Showa Rider Kamen Rider Wars Featuring Super Sentai (itself the second film spinoff of Kamen Rider Gaim), has skeleton-themed armor. His transformation even has a giant skull and spine with ten spider leg-like limbs dropping down and wrapping around him before forming his full armor.
Mythology and Religion
- Hindu goddess Kali is often represented wearing a necklace of skulls and bones.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- There is actually a prestige class in the Eberron setting called the Bone Knight◊, who gets some bonuses for making and wearing bone armor and weapons.
- The Bonegrim and Skeletal Armors from 4th Edition's Adventurer's Vault are definitely quite bone-like, and grant necrotic resistance upon their wearers.
- The licensed 2nd Edition sourcebook for Diablo II had a special proficiency for necromancers to craft bone armor that only they could use.
- Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000
- Chaos, Dark Elves/Eldar, and Orc/Orks love wearing the heads and skulls of their worthiest opponents impaled on their Spikes of Villainy.
- Skulltaker, one of the Blood God's more dangerous servants, wears a cloak made of the skulls of his fallen opponents. His tabletop miniature has no fewer than 137 skulls modeled on it.
- The Imperium prefers tastefully sculpted depictions of skulls. On everything. (But they use plenty of real skulls too.)
- Eldar Harlequin Death Jesters make their macabre motley costumes from the bones of their predecessor(s) as a sign of respect and honour. They know full well that their own bones are probably destined for the same fate.
- Craftworld Eldar make much of their technology and some of their armour (especially Rune Armour for warlocks) from a psycho-plastic substance called Wraithbone, which has an eerily bone-like texture to it.
- Playing up their medieval christian inspiration, lots of Imperial Guard, Ecclesiarchy and Space Marine characters (and not a few Empire and Bretonnian characters from Warhammer either) wear holy relics prominently, many of which are the bones of saints and martyrs.
- Saurus Temple Guard wear helmets made from Stegadon skulls, and often much additional bone jewellery.
- Savage Orcs are very into the caveman version of this.
- Quite naturally the Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings of Khemri (Warhammer's two Undead factions) use bone armour and clothing a lot - sometimes just sculpted representations of bones, but just as often actual bones themselves.
- In the Rifts universe:
- Skulls are a major motif of Coalition forces, to include robotic infantry made to look like walking skeletons.
- Also the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death in particular, who ride upon giant steeds most of which are covered in bones. Necromancers in Rifts also gain power from using and handling bones.
- Exalted: This is amongst the Abyssals' macabre choice of grave fashion.
- Eon: Non-civilized tirak tribes often make armor out of bones, including making helmets out of skulls. It is common for old members of the largest sub-species to bequeath their heads to up-and-coming warriors of the smaller ones, so they will have materials for a good helmet.
- Dr. Wily of Mega Man fame outfits the vast majority of his bases and a good number of his machines with a skull motif. The man himself wears a skull-shaped belt clip in Mega Man 8, and a rather distinctive skeletal-patterned tie in the Megamix manga.
- The page image is Vordred from AQ Worlds, who takes this trope Up to Eleven. Word of God says that the artist asked the boss's opinion on the armor while drawing it. The reply was "Needs more skulls". And then this got repeated a few times as a joke, only the artist took it seriously.
- Justified then immediately parodied in the final battle against him; the skulls are apparently generated by his actual body constantly, and absorb energy from attacks to fuel this process. And then Vordred goes One-Winged Angel and becomes even bigger, with every single part of him except his head covered with millions of skulls.
- The Pokémon Cubone is a somewhat tragic example. The young take their mother's skull as a helmet and let their head grow into it. Which makes one wonder about what's going on when one hatches and its sprite already has the "helmet".
- The Pokédex entry was written for the first games. Players were not able to hatch Pokémon until the second games.
- Houndour and Houndoom are surely intended to come off this way.
- And now with generation five, we have Vullaby and Mandibuzz, the bone-clad vultures. Special mention goes to Vullaby since it uses a skull as a diaper of all things - mess with Mandibuzz's children and she'll make sure her children shit in your skull when she's done with you.
- In City of Heroes, the Skulls gang makes their masks out of real skulls looted from graveyards.
- Mr. Grimm of Twisted Metal: Black was forced to eat his friend by a sadistic Viet Cong officer, and now wears that friend's skull as a helmet as a memorial to him.
- Sif of Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song wears a massive horned skull on the back of her head. She's arguably the most Badass of the eight leads, having grown up in the harsh Shiverlands as the best warrior of her tiny village.
- Diablo II features bone helms, bone shields, and bone wands which all classes can use. There are also the Shrunken Heads which are unique shields for necromancers.
- In Terraria, players can craft Necro armor using cobwebs and bones. Wearing a full set once increased the players speed by about 20% and gives them a visual motion blur to emphasize that they're going fast. By combining Necro armor with the Anklet of the Wind and Hermes boots, you can become a speed demon. The 1.06 update changed Necro armor's full-set bonus to reduced ammo consumption from ranged weapon and increased ranged damage.
- This theme along with Bad with the Bone is rampant throughout the World of Warcraft expansion "Wrath of the Lich King". The Lich King has skulls in just about every location of his armor where they would fit.
"No, it's not okay, I have skulls... on... my... kneecaps!"
- Death Knights also have the ability to summon a protective Bone Shield, though in this case the bones hover around the player instead of being worn as armor.
- A number of armor pieces for players, as well as some for NPCs fall into this. Garrosh wears some massive multi-fanged skull for a Shoulder of Doom, and the player-wearable shoulders Failed Experiments #27 and 28 are large wolf skulls strapped to the shoulders. Several warlock tier sets included skulls, as well as death knight and even mages get in on the act with one tier set giving them flaming skulls in one of three different colors inside a hood.
- One of the fishing poles exists entirely because of this trope. A skull for a handguard and what appear to be large phalanges for the rod itself.
- In the Kingdom Hearts series, the pirate-themed Heartless have skull shoulder pads.
- In Team Fortress 2 there are a few hats and accessories that fit the theme. Most notable is the Pyro who is capable of wearing a skull-themed gas mask (The Last Breath), wear a skull ontop of that (The Skull Island Topper), three skulls across his chest (the Bonedelier), and wield a spinal column with skull attached as a melee weapon.
- The orcs of the Bonechewer clan in Warcraft II were known for their cannibalistic nature, and for ornamenting themselves with the bones (and organs) of their enemies.
- Chaos, the final boss of the original Final Fantasy, had skulls for kneecaps.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has Bonemold armor.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it is possible to craft armor out of the bones of dragons, creating one of the best plate armor sets in the game.
- Alduin will even comment on the Dragonborn wearing this armour, deriding his fallen comrades as weak.
- Kingdom of Loathing: "This is Zombo's 'comb! Welcome to Zombo's 'comb!"
This is no ordinary skullcap — it's a cap made from an actual skull! Isn't that as awesome as it is original? This is, without a doubt, the first time in any video game that the "skullcap made of an actual skull" thing has been done, and lemme tell you, we are proud of it.
- The "1000th Birthday Suit" is an outfit composed of bone articles: the bonedanna, the boneana hammock, and bone spurs.
- Shao Kahn's skull helmet.
- In the Monster Hunter series, armour is made of parts of monsters you've killed.
- In Blood, the Super Armor icon is a skeleton's torso.
- In Sanity Aikens Artifact, the Big Bad is revealed at the end to have de-evolved completely into nothing more than a giant psionic brain. In the final battle, he forms a body in the shape of a giant cow's skeleton from slaughterhouse bodyparts to fight the hero.
- The Orc chief Bloodfang from Drakensang wears a massive animal skull as helmet. In the sequel you can find and equip it, but it's not very powerful.
- In the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Kain could wear Bone Armor, which would trick less intelligent undead into thinking he was one of them, allowing him to pass by unnoticed.
- When Hades is halfway defeated in Titan Quest he'll wear an odd visor, turn his right arm into a bunch of tentacles and then magically materialize a suit of armor made of bones on his body.
- Inversion: Gravelord Nito of Dark Souls is a bundle of skeletons wearing a robe.
- In Pirate 101 there are a couple of helmets that are made from large skulls and some equipment that is only equippable by witchdoctors also have bones incorporated into the design. The strangest of these is a set of boots that have skulls attached by strings to the player's ankles.
- Dwarf Fortress dwarves can make armor out of bones. It's one of the worse materials for armor, but a starting fortress may have little else available to equip their dwarves. Additionally, a dwarf in a fell mood will murder other dwarves to make artifacts from them, including dwarf bone armor.
- Night trolls waste no part of the sentient beings they kill and cook, making accessories and jewelry. Adventurers can find bonecrafts up to artifact quality in both monster's troves and city jewelry shops, some of which is also made of the local civilizations' races.
- In Derelict, the Malevolent Masked Men wear cattle skulls.
- Belkar from The Order of the Stick once made a hat out of a kobold's skull.
- In Roza, the old woman in the prince's village.
- In Snow By Night, after developing a vendetta against all birds for stealing his youth, Old Man Winter starts wearing a necklace of their skulls.
- Lampshaded in Penny Arcade here.
- Axe Cop had a caveman ancestor named Club Cop whose club, armor, and mansion were made from the bones of his enemies.
- The Obviously Evil affiliation is subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender, where the only explicit skulls in the coat closet are the golden skulls on the Earth Kingdom army uniforms of generals. Low-ranking firebenders do wear a metal mask as part of their helmet which is somewhat skull-like, however.
- Ben 10: Omniverse: Khyber's torso armor is made of the bones of his previous hunting targets.
- In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, villain Ludo wears an unidentified creature's skull as a helmet.
- Assassin bug nymphs have been known to camouflage themselves in the husks of their prey.
- Decorator crabs sometimes incorporate bits of crustacean shells into their own disguises, alongside living algae and sea anemones.
- Some Native American tribes made breastplates out of bone.
- Warrior tribes lacking access or knowledge of metalworking have made armor coats made from bone as well as other materials (wood, leather, hide, etc).