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YMMV: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The Empire of Tamriel ranges from the last bastion of goodness against the Aldmeri Dominion, to an oppressive foreign power that doesn't belong in Skyrim, to a fractured shell that deserves to collapse until someone worthy can reunite the continent.
    • Is the Emperor a craven appeaser, who doesn't care what happens to his people as long as he can hold some power for himself? Is he a good man and a political realist, who signed the White-Gold Concordat to buy time for the Legion to recover? Is he simply an unremarkable person in an age that demands heroes? His behavior during the final mission of the Dark Brotherhood plotline shows that, whatever else he may be, he's definitely not a coward.
    • Is Ulfric Stormcloak a revolutionary hero who wants to restore Skyrim to its former glory, a power-hungry tyrant interested only in taking the throne and exterminating the Mer and Beast races of Skyrim, or a Stupid Good rebel who doesn't realize the long-term consequences of his actions? Just how controlled was he by the Dominion? Is he the kind of guy who thinks that, for anyone who died fighting the Thalmor, it was their own fault for being too weak and un-Nord-like to survive?
    • The Dunmer:
      • Do they live in such conditions because they are being mistreated and forcibly segregated, or because the Nords have no pity to spare for them and they have been sitting on their hands since they came from Morrowind waiting for someone to take pity on them instead of trying to improve their conditions?
      • According to Faryl Atheron, the Dunmer who complain about the way they're treated in Windhelm effectively ostracize and condemn those Dark Elves who try to make their way in Skyrim by working for Nords, despite the fact that that's the only way for the majority to make ends meet. While he himself admits that a Dunmer in Windhelm doesn't have many good opportunities, he also expresses a great deal of exasperation over what he considers his brothers continually harping on "injustices" as he puts it, and being ashamed of him and his sister for working for the Nords. So there's that to add fuel to the debate also.
      • All of the Dunmer the player character meets in Windhelm have jobs and contribute meaningfully to Windhelm's economy and society: one Dunmer woman works as a secretary for the Shatter-Shields, one is a nord child's nanny, one Dunmer man is a shopkeeper and another a market stall trader, several Dunmer work at the New Gnisis Cornerclub, the minstrel working at the local inn is a Dunmer, several Dunmer work crappy minimum-wage jobs for the nords even if their kin ridicule them for it: also there is a rich Dunmer who owns and works one of the local farms. Therefore, one possible interpretation is that the Dunmer are treated badly because they are a relatively numerous, successful and extremely prominent minority group and therefore the nordic majority are frightened of them "coming over here and taking our jobs", just like how in real life minority groups have to deal with prejudice and racism for exactly the same reasons.
    • Connected to the Dunmer example, it's possible to make this case for Brunwulf Free-Winter. Is he an overly-soft hearted old fool who's trying to hard to uplift the new minorities in Windhelm by affording them special status in spite of few of them barely doing anything to truly uplift themselves and contribute meaningfully to Windhelm? Or is he simply a reasonable, good man trying to afford basic dignity to every resident of his city? Again, this has comparisons to real life, with Brunwulf being akin to a left-wing politician campaigning for immigrant rights.
    • Are the Argonians being left at the docks of Windhelm because of pure Fantastic Racism, or because Ulfric is trying to keep peace by not letting the once enslaved race into Windhelm, where they could come face to face with their former slavers?
    • Amaund Motierre. Is he, as Astrid suggests, trying to get the Emperor assassinated to better his own position within the Elder Council or could it be a more collective feeling calling for desperate measures in desperate times? The Emperor seems to be aware of harsh opposition amongst his political elite. Is he really ruling that badly? Not to mention how, after the deed is done, Motierre seems to genuinely believe that the Emperor's death has "saved" the Empire.
    • Paarthurnax. Is he a genuine atoner who will (attempt to) lead the dragons to a peaceful future, or a very patient and manipulative Starscream with a Meaningful Name? Is this a case of Blue and Orange Morality, or perhaps of a forsaken namesake?
    • This trope also counts for Paarthurnax' arch enemies, the Blades. Are they indeed the heroic order they used to be, or are they just an embittered remnant of an age long gone? Is their hate for Paarthurnax reasonable or are they just too narrow minded to see beings can change?
    • For that matter, Arngeir raises the question as to whether or not the Blades formed to serve the Dragonborn, or if the Blades directed the Dragonborn toward their own ends under the pretense of support. Delphine and Esbern's comments, actions and tone make the matter even more difficult to discern.
    • The Greybeards. Indecisive wishy-washys who sit out every conflict, or guardians of a power that's too dangerous to let be abused? Or overly cautious guardians of a power that is too dangerous to let be abused but too useful to not use at all? Jurgen Windcaller, the founder of the Greybeards, implies arguing for the second point if the Dragonborn talks to him in Sovngarde.
      Jurgen Windcaller: My disciples still follow the difficult path - the Way of the Voice is neither wide, nor easy. But if you stray from wisdom then to Sovngarde, you will not return.
    • The Snow-Elves. A bunch of religious zealots who launched a genocidal campaign on the Ancient Nords at Saarthal, which Ysgramor responded to by raising an army and driving them underground, where they suffered their own karmic genocide at the hands of the Dwemer? Or a race of peaceful and religious Elves that the Ancient Nords painted as the aggressors, hunted to the verge of extinction, who were then betrayed by the Dwemer, the very people they turned to for help? Or something in between (none of the sources for what actually happened at Saarthal are even remotely unbiased, considering they consist of a) Ancient Nord records, b) a Snow Elf). Likewise, was the attack on Saarthal simply because the Ancient Nords had uncovered the Eye of Magnus, an artefact that potentially could cause The End of the World as We Know It if misused?
    • The Psijic Order. Are they a collective of wise ancient keepers who safeguard magical artifacts because The World Is Not Ready? Or are they a bunch of manipulative bastards who used the Dragonborn to retrieve the Eye of Magnus for them, all the while never really bothering to explain exactly what the Eye is, what it does and what they actually want from it?
    • Ralis Sendarys in 'Dragonborn at the end of his questline. Was he genuinely Brainwashed and Crazy? Not Brainwashed? Genuinely brainwashed but playing Jekyll?.
    • The Dragonborn.
      • Are you a heroic figure who protects the land from threats and rose to the top of several guilds due to your inherent skill and badassery? Or are you essentially nothing more than a reckless demigod who abuses the power of the Thu'um for your own ends and to help you gain influence throughout Skyrim?
      • If you choose to play Dragonborn last, you've slain multiple Dragons, amassed an army of loyal followers and have, on several occasions, proven that you're not afraid to screw over a Daedric Prince. Aside from him being openly malevolent, what exactly makes you any different than Miraak?
      • For some Dragonborns, they don't even have "not openly malevolent." You can, if you choose, massacre entire populations.
    • Miraak himself is prone to alot of interruption by the fanbase, due to how much is unknown about him. Is he a Fallen Hero , that was corrupted and seduced by Mora into becoming his champion? Or simply a monster, whose fall was caused by his own hubris. The game only gives hints.
    • As proposed here, are mammoths the giants' livestock, or are the giants actually 'controlled' and used by the mammoths to defend their herds?
  • Angst? What Angst?: Serana was turned into a vampire lord (implied to have been done by being raped by Morag Bal), caught between a family war between her parents, and sealed away for centuries or even millennia with an Elder Scroll, and when she wakes up her parents are more concerned with their respective plots against the other rather than her safety and her wishes. All things considered, she takes it pretty well outside the handful of moments she call out the relevant parties for their behavior.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Bethesda Boss Syndrome hits twice in during the main quest. The only plot relevant Dragon Priest (extremely powerful undead sorcerer) is easily the weakest of them all and Alduin only appears to differ from the elite Ancient Dragons by having a few more hitpoints. Its even worse during the final battle in the afterlife, since you are assisted by the souls of three legendary Nord warriors
    • At the end of the Thieves' Guild questline, a big deal is made about how powerful Mercer Frey is and why you won't be able to fight him alone. But the final battle ironically ends up as a one-on-one fight against someone who's no different than any regular old mook aside from the ability to briefly turn invisible. Then again, he did waste the Agent of Subterfuge power on Brynjolf, so he couldn't use it on you.
    • True to form, it happens again in Dawnguard: The fight with Vyrthur in the penultimate quest (during which he's sending dozens of Falmer at you and tearing the building apart around you) makes the final confrontation with Harkon seem less cool by comparison, no matter how many of his Vampire Lord abilities he tries to use on you.
    • Also in Dawnguard, the fight with Durnehviir. Despite being a Dracolich the battle plays out like just another dragon encounter, the only difference being the waves of minor undead spawning, which are a mere nuisance.
  • Awesome Ego:
    • J'Zargo. He's arrogant, but also one of the most competent companions.
    • Master Neloth in the Dragonborn DLC fits. The hilarity of his arrogance is sure to amuse, but he really is willing to get his own hands dirty as demonstrated with the sojourn with you into the nearby dwemer ruin Nchardak, and is no slouch in a fight.
    • Arguably, Miraak from Dragonborn as well, despite being arrogant and prideful, is one of the most powerful enemies encountered, and can back up his claims.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Base Breaker:
  • Best Level Ever:
    • Blackreach. An absolutely huge underground cavern (approx. four square miles) home to an abandoned Dwarven city and some of the most unique and breathtaking environmental design in the entire game. It even comes with its own Bonus Boss! You'd have to spend several hours exploring the vast compound to find everything, but you'll love every bit of it.
    • Dwemer ruins in general are pretty fun. They're full of the unique and badass construct enemies, you can stock up on good loot like soul gems and other crafting agents, and the general Magitek Steampunk aesthetic makes them very memorable over the caves and tombs you'll spend the rest of your time in.
    • The Black Book levels in Dragonborn. They're just so... so... alien.
    • The Soul Cairn, for pretty much the same reason as the Black Books. It's easy to get lost in there, but there's enough stuff to look for you don't care.
    • The Forgotten Vale of Dawnguard is almost as massive as Blackreach, has some of the most beautiful visuals in the game, and even has two bonus bosses that are actually quite challenging and fun to fight.
  • Broken Base:
    • Winning the Game & Developer of The Year awards at the Spike VGAs - You either thought they were deserved, or absolutely dumbfounded that the team which released a game that was borderline unplayable on one of the formats it was released on won these awards over other deserving titles & developers.
    • The Microsoft exclusivity rights for the Dawnguard DLC; It had been planned since the game came out, but a lot of fans didn't really pay attention to this until it was stated at E3. Cue hordes of PC and PS3 gamers getting righteously pissed.
    • An announcement on August 2012 by Bethesda implied that PS3 fans either will have to wait even longer for Dawnguard or not be getting it at all.
    • All three contents are now in the process of being released for the PS3.
    • And now that the next DLC has been announced and released for Xbox 360 and PC, PS3 users are now even madder since Dawnguard wasn't released at the time.
    • Renewed when it (less than a day before Dragonborn's Xbox release) became apparent that an exclusivity agreement applies to Dragonborn despite the fact that Bethesda repeatedly stated that the first two DLCs fell under a Microsoft timed exlusivity agreement (while Bethesda later clarified that Dragonborn was labelled as the second DLC, that instead opened the question of why Hearthfire was delayed for a month for PC users if it didn't count as a DLC under the Microsoft timed exlusivity agreement). Bethseda however did later clarify that Dragonborn is labelled in the gamefiles as the second DLC, while Hearthfire was created as merely additional content. Cue the base breaking as some fell on the side that accepted this as a simple miscommunication to the fandom, to those who felt this was a major cop-out on their part.
    • A minor crack has shown up between console gamers and some PC Gamers due to Hearthfire's release. PC gamers argue that all of Hearthfire's content can be done with existing Game Mods, while console gamers note that they don't have access to mods without hacking their systems, and that Bethesda can release whatever optional content they want.
    • Yet another crack starting to emerge is related to the above mentioned Dawnguard-PS3 controversy. Fans are beginning to divide on the "screwing over" of PS3 gamers by Bethesda. People either think they're a good company trying their damned hardest, see them as an incompetent group of idiots who either hate any and all PS3 users or don't even care about them, or blame the PS3 for not being a "developer friendly console". Xbox, PC, AND PS3 Fan Dumb only makes the argument more heated.
    • And now that the "Dragonborn" DLC has been announced, PS3 hatred for Bethesda has reached nuclear levels.
    • The latest patch for PS3 has caused some glitches that make files created prior to the patch completely unplayable. Not all the fixes work. PS3 Bethesda hatred is reaching critical mass.
    • Ever since the announcement and subsequent release of the DLC onto the PS3, there has been a small but fairly vocal minority of PS3 players claiming PS3 users are being/have been further ripped off by being offered half price on the DLC on their respective weeks of release.
    • And since then they've announced there'll be no more DLC for Skyrim. You either think it's because "Dragonborn" would have caused a Tough Act to Follow incident with the next DLC and understand, or you're pissed off because the game only got three DLC packs, especially since Fallout 3 got 5 and New Vegas got 4, and Oblivion, while only having two important DLCs, had the various mission packs (Vile Lair, Fighter's Stronghold, etc).
  • Catharsis Factor: The end of "Season Unending", the major Civil War leaders are leaving High Hrothgar, Tullius, Ulfric, Balgruuf, Elisif, potentially Elenwen, and the Blades Delphine and Esbern. The major players in the main storyline, who taking into account for alignment and their personalities have at least two members in their number you can't stand, walking down the mountain. You know what to do — be sure to have a quicksave ready so you can repeat it until satisfaction is had. Bonus fun because if you attack any of them normally, they're all essential so it's a puny 40 septim bounty, and any of the others who turn hostile will keep walking if you sheath your weapon.
  • Crazy Awesome: Neloth in Dragonborn may be mad, dangerous, and perhaps a bit unstable but the spells he teaches you are some of the best in the game.
  • Creepy Awesome: Cicero.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Chaurus. They're extremely tough, do a lot of damage in melee, and use a health draining-poison which they can also spit at you. It certainly doesn't help that the Falmer are often in the area and gang up on you.
    • Speaking of which, Falmer. Thanks to the company they keep, all their weapons are poisoned, when armored it's heavy armor, their spellcasters use both ice and lightning, and all the equipment is ridiculously heavy so looting them weighs you down really fast. If something so much as looks like it was influenced by the Dwemer, expect to find these guys around.
    • With Dawnguard, we now have a lovely new addition to the Chaurus family: Hunters. Take a Chaurus Reaper, put it on steroids, and give it wings. Or rather, they pulled out the much hated Cazadores from Fallout: New Vegas and give them a nice Palette Swap.note 
    • Giant Sabrecats. 900 pounds of pure muscle and feline fury coupled with a nasty disposition and a tendency for creeping up on you from behind, and even later in the game they can do tremendous amounts of damage (early on they pretty much kill you in a couple swipes). And they are insanely fast for something the size of a bear, too. Given how they are basically sabertooth tigers, it makes sense, but it gets a little ridiculous when Sabrecats are scarier than dragons.
    • Dwemer robots. The spiders are very strong for their size, with some types able to shoot lighting and even explode after "death". The sphere guardians are extremely fast and hit like a brick (but tend to telegraph their attacks). Finally, the centurions are the same size as giants, every bit as strong and tough, and have a steam blast attack that causes more damage than dragon flame.
    • Bears. These things camp on or near roads, have a huge aggro radius that's hard to avoid, can nearly keep pace with a sprinting horse, and takes as much hurt as it can dole out (IE: a lot). Unlike wolves, which howl pretty much as soon as they're aware of you, the bear slothly gets up from its nap silently, by which time you've probably already wandered into its aggro radius. And they're freakin' everywhere. After Unrelenting Force, your most used shout will be Kyne's Peace or Animal Allegiance because of them.
    • If you are a warrior type, mages fall into this category. At least half can use Ice Storm, which damages your health and stamina, robbing your ability to do Power Attacks. It also slows you down, turning you into a sitting duck. To make it worse, the spell has a huge area of effect, increasing your chance to get hit by it. The lightning ones are even worse, because they cannot miss. This extends to higher level mages as well, because magic does fixed damage; unless you been you've raising your health or bolstering your magic/elemental resistance, higher level spellcasters will tear you to shreds in seconds. Even the racial resistance given to Nords, Dunmer, and Bretons won't save you most of the time. In other words, get that Alteration skill up quick, otherwise prepare to die a lot. This is probably why Alteration is literally the easiest skill in the game to train up.
    • Elder and Ancient dragons. Just when you're powerful enough to be convinced that Blood and Frost dragons aren't any more of a threat, these bastards show up and start two-shotting you. Dawnguard introduces the Revered and Legendary dragons who have a lot more health, does more damage, and have their own version of Drain Vitality which drains health, magicka, and stamina which hit you ALL THE TIME. So much for Dragons being a Degraded Boss.
    • Spriggans. They crawl out of trees so you don't know they're coming, hit like a truck, heal themselves back to near-full health when they're in trouble, and have a health-draining bee spell they love to use on you. Oh, and they also summon bears. Nothing quite like a Demonic Spider that can summon more Demonic Spiders. Oh, and now there are Spriggan Earth Mothers thanks to Dawnguard. They're bigger, stronger, and have a cloud of poisonous insects around them.
    • Forsworn, especially the Briarhearts. Their encampments include mages who will blast you with ice and lightning to deplete your magic and stamina, archers who can stagger you, and their melee warriors often dual-wield and can deal insane damage even with capped armor. The Briarhearts can be any of these but are usually the melee warriors, and they're plain stronger than the rank and file Forsworn.
      • Also keep in mind that almost EVERY Forsworn camp has at least one Hagraven, whom when they're not blasting devastating fireballs at you they're tearing you apart with their claws for massive damage.
    • Dragonborn brings in a couple of nasty enemies, namely Lurkers and Seekers. Lurkers are tall lumbering fish-things that they're physical attacks can stagger you, they have a ton of health, can cause tentacle explosions when you attack them, further damaging you, and a projectile attack. The Seekers are also annoying, floating wizard-like creatures that love spamming draining spells, are unaffected by some of your shouts (that means no Fus Ro Dah), can turn invisible, and the worst part, they can create a copy of themselves which can also attack you. Thankfully killing the original eliminates its clones. Oh yeah, and in Apocrypha, the things are everywhere!
    • Pretty much any enemy who can use finishing moves on you. Did you ever laugh when you first saw a guard being bitten and tossed by a dragon? You won't be laughing when it happens to you. The worst part is that the system that governs when it happens takes no regard for resistances: Armor rating, shield up, behind cover... When it wants to kill-cam you, it will kill cam you.
    • With Dawnguard installed, vampires become this. If it's night, they can show up pretty much anywhere, can be relatively dangerous, and in early levels are very hard to kill as they drain the life from you. This isn't the worst part, though. Boss-level hostile vampires and some mooks alongside them get dropped into cities filled with the brim with perishable low-level unique NPCs with no self-preservation instinct. It can potentially reduce even the five major cities to ghost towns, forcing you to be proactive and deal with the main quest quickly- the spawn rates in cities drop massively once it is finished, but this is small comfort.
    • In the snowy areas, you'll encounter Ice Wraiths. They hit hard and often, but the worst thing about them is their sheer agility. You're likely to spend lots of stamina and magicka not hitting them since they're so freaking fast. One more reason to invest in good area of effect fire spells and the corresponding perks.
    • Any humanoid enemy wielding a two-handed weapon. Even lowly bandits can do tremendous damage is they're packing a battleaxe or warhammer. If you see a Bandit Chief in full platemail or Nordic Carved Armor charging you toting a warhammer made of a shiny metal, brace yourself.
    • Draugr Deathlords. They can use both Unrelenting Force and Disarm, will often be wielding powerful Ebony weapons, and their arrows pack a deadly punch even if you have the Deflect Arrows perk. To make matters worse, the Dragon Priest Rahgot will summon at least five Deathlords when you confront him.
  • Disappointing Last Level: While the actual final area where the Final Boss is fought, Sovngarde, is very atmospheric and impressive, the final dungeon to get there is this trope. It's a Nordic tomb full of Draugr, a handful of Frostbite Spiders, with a Word Wall, some of the spinning block puzzels, and a claw puzzle door. In other words, there's nothing that makes the final level any different from the many other Nordic tombs in the game you've raided by that point other than the boss waiting at the end.
  • Discredited Meme:
    • Virtually everyone got absolutely sick of the "Arrow in the Knee" jokes as early as a month after the game came out. Its reference in Borderlands 2 was apologized for.
    • Readers on the Skyrim board at GameFAQs have also become sick of the Toeh meme spawned there.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Despite all that the quest/story designers did to make you want to hate the Thalmor (see A Nazi by Any Other Name)... some people still inexplicably like them, and not in a "love to hate" way. Take a look at this soft mood-lighting and Unfortunate Implications riddled bit.
    • Many players feel that the Forsworn are misunderstood freedom fighters working for a just cause to overthrow a government that demonizes them, and wish that they could join them in the Civil War. Hmm...perhaps it's the raiding, genocide, cannibalism, hagraven worship and Cruelty Rich Leather they practice that explains why it's not an option.
    • Speaking of the Civil War, expect around half of the player base to do this for the side they support while invoking Ron the Death Eater on the other.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Lydia, again. Most were very disappointed when a minor (and fixable) bug prevented players from marrying her. (Fixed in the 1.5 patch, or by mods on the PC before that.) Ascended, as Lydia has received more specific dialogue with each DLC. Hearthfire gave Lydia character development to eventually lose her snarky attitude to the Dragonborn... and in Dragonborn she gets it back making snide comments about everything else.
    • The Spectral Assassin, in other words, Lucien Lachance rides again.
    • Paarthurnax, due to him being The Mentor and one of the three friendly dragons. Several players have tried to slaughter the Blades for even suggesting killing him. The fact that he's voiced by Charles Martinet doesn't hurt either.
    • Brynjolf of the Thieves' Guild. With his accent, friendliness, and tendency to affectionately call your PC lass/lad, so many players were disappointed to find him unmarriable.
    • Vilkas and Farkas, of the Companions. Happily, you can marry them. Aela is also pretty popular.
    • If the Kink Memes are anything to go by, Ondolemar, Ancano, Nelacar—really, almost any named male High Elf, likely because of their height, attractiveness, and fashion sense.
    • Cicero is also one of the most loved characters in the game, due to his hilarious dialogue and his sheer hamminess.
    • Serana and Knight-Paladin Gelebor from Dawnguard. Serana is frequently praised for her well developed character and the depth given to her relationship with the Dragonborn, leading many in the fanbase to ship the two despite her not being a marriage option. Knight-Paladin Gelebor is also immensely popular, due to being a Badass Pacifist and (apparently) the last of the Snow Elves.
    • One of the more surprising ones is Emperor Titus Mede II. Yes, he signed the White-Gold Concordant that outlawed the worship of Talos and set in motion the Civil War storyline. Yes, his policies since the war have seen high taxation on the people of Skyrim. Yes, he may even be a Daedra worshiper. But once you arrive to assassinate him, he accepts his fate, faces his death with grace, and simply asks you, rather kindly, to kill whoever put a contract on him.
    • Brunwulf Free-Winter, replacement Jarl of Windhelm and quite possibly the "Nicest Guy in Skyrim".
    • Miraak from the Dragonborn DLC is quite popular, despite having most of his backstory lost in legend and ambiguity.
    • Also from the Dragonborn DLC is Teldryn Sero, an unassuming faceless Dunmer spellsword hireling sitting in the corner of the Retching Netch cornerclub, who has nonetheless gained a fanbase that enjoys his cool voice, sheer number of unique dialogue, snarky attitude, subtle badassery, mysterious tendency to refuse taking off his helmet and ability to defend himself competently. Finding out that he doesn't look half bad when players were finally able to take off his helmet only added to his appeal.
    • Among the adoptable children, Sissel has become quite popular. This is notable, because unlike the four orphans roaming the streets of the major Holds or the orphans from Honorhall, she wasn't specifically designed to invoke your sympathy and get you to adopt her. Her father, Lemkil, is also still alive, meaning you have to kill him first. Because the guy is such an abusive bastard and because poor Sissel also gets bullied by her twin sister all day long, many players find themselves traveling to Rorikstead just to kill Lemkil and adopt Sissel.
    • Among the various followers in the game, Mjoll the Lioness, Erandur and J'zargo are among the most well-liked ones due to being very interesting characters who are also very competent in battle (Mjoll is unkillable as she is an essential, and while Erandur isn't essential, he quite handily subverts the Squishy Wizard stereotype and Jízargo can master both Destruction and Heavy Armor and level up to 81).
      • To the point that Erandur got an entire forum thread on the Elder Scrolls Wiki complaining about players being unable to marry him and/or make him a Steward.
    • Jarl Balgruuf the Greater is one as well, being the first Jarl you meet and the one you'll have the most interaction with in the whole game. It also helps that he's a Genre Savvy Royal Who Actually Does Something who trusts the Dragonborn after the first time he saves his city (as opposed to everyone else who promptly forget).
    • Blaise and Lucia tend to be the more popular adoption choices. Lucia due to being found in Whiterun, the first Hold Capital most players visit. Blaise due to his hellish life of tending to horses and sleeping in a pile of hay.
    • Karita, the Giftedly Bad bard in Dawnstar.
    • As far as the Thalmor go, Ancano and Ondolemar seem to be the only ones with remote popularity, due to Ancano being very competent compared to his comrades, and Ondolemar, despite being a massive Smug Snake, is implied to be a Punch Clock Villain and is affable enough to treat you with respect. Coming from a Thalmor, thatís saying something.
    • Legate Fasendil, the only Legion officer who has anything to say beyond the stock Imperial soldier lines. Some combination of his interesting backstory, down-to-earth personality, and open hatred of the Thalmor have caused a significant number of players to cite him as a big reason they chose to side with the Empire.
  • Escapist Character: Being the Dragonborn kicks ass.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Alduin. He's a douche, but there's no denying that he's badass.
    • Miraak is also quite the evil badass.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: The Dragonborn and Serena is a minor one, due to the loads of Ship Tease between the two despite the fact that she's not romancable.
  • Fountain of Memes: The entire game.
  • Game Breaker: Provided you know the exploits, this game is very easy.
    • The Windshear, a unique sword found aboard The Katariah, causes unfailing stagger to EVERY enemy. Even Alduin. This effectively makes melee fighting anyone or anything with one on one combat a guaranteed win.
    • Dawnbreaker, Meridia's Daedric Artifact, does fire damage on each hit and has a chance to create an explosion when killing an undead enemy with it, the chance increasing exponentially with each strike landed before the kill, and will either kill nearby undead or make them flee. Draugr (one of the most common enemy types in the entire game) are laughably easy up until the strongest types become common, and even then it's a powerful weapon because it has a ridiculously high number of charges.
    • With the right perks, you can craft Armor that surpasses the damage cap (in case of penalties), enchant equipment to grant you almost total immunity to elemental damage, double your damage output with choice weapon types, reduce the magicka cost of magic to nothing, and more. There's also perks to allow you to summon two Dremora Lords at once, and to revive almost any NPC as a permanent thrall, while also equipping whatever equipment you put on their corpse before raising them, effectively giving you multiple followers.
    • Due to a glitch, Fortify Restoration potions increase the benefit of enchanted equipment by taking it off and putting it back on, letting you get numbers so high you can actually crash the game. A non-glitch version exists in the form of the enchantment/alchemy cycle. First enchant a set of alchemy-enhancing armor. Then use that to brew enhanced Fortify Enchanting potions, which you then loop back into creating even better alchemy enhancers and so forth, which tops off at three loops. Add in the enchantment-boosting armor from Dragonborn and the Vampire/Necromage perk interaction and you bonuses that range between 30 to 50% improvement, when the best loot in the game will offer 20% if you're very lucky. This can also be used to create smithing equipment and potions that stack on each other, letting you upgrade your armor and weapons to such extremes that Draugr Deathlords go down in three hits.
    • The Skeleton Key makes Lockpicking a tedious delay. It's an unbreakable lockpick, rendering it impossible to not pick a lock. You just need to be patient with it. Eventually you have to give it up, but until you complete that quest it's all yours. Plus, if you keep it long enough to get your skill to 100 you can get the Unbreakable perk to make your own lockpicks last forever.
    • Due to another glitch, you can read the Oghma Infinium over and over. It gives you 5 levels in one of the three skill trees (Thief, Warrior, Mage), and it only supposed to be used once. That one use will net you one or two levels on top of the skill increase, and with infinite uses of it via the glitch, you can max out your character in about an hour.
    • The Shadow Warrior perk has the effect of allowing you to sneak any time, even in the middle of combat. Even if the enemy is right in your face, the perk forces them to lose track of you. Combine this with damage-boosting perks for sneak attacks to do stupidly high damage. Daggers in particular, with the right equipment, can hit for 30x damage on a sneak attack, which will kill nearly anything. Even without Shadow Warrior, enemies are very bad at finding a Sneaking player as long as you don't move much. With some distance and a good bow, you can wipe out entire forts without so much as being seen.
    • Max Illusion perks and vampirism. Vampires gain an extra 25% effectiveness to Illusion (even if the stat is already maxed) and the Vampire Seduction ability (with Stage 3 vampirism). With this combination, your character can offset every Illusion resistance in the game, and according to the UESP wiki, there is no character capable of defending against it.
    • The Impact perk, which allows you to stun any opponent if you double cast a projectile spell, effectively nullifies all possibility of you taking damage, should you stock up on enough mana potions because of the length of the stun. The only exception is other mages with tough wards.
    • Slow Time. At full power it lasts 16 seconds, acting as Bullet Time for you and letting you run around the room attacking while enemies watch unable to move properly. The only downside is that the third word only shows up in the penultimate quest of a long questline and requires you to clear a huge dungeon and kill large number of enemies (including a Dragon Priest) to get to it.
    • Enhanced crossbows. They ignore almost as much armor as a fully perked warhammer, they have higher damage than Dragonbone or Daedric Bows, they can be double-enchanted, they can stagger enemies, and they can use explosive bolts like normal crossbows.
    • The Ebony Blade at full power will heal you 30 points a hit. Combined with the fact its the fastest two-handed weapon in the game and never needs to be recharged, and you'll never need healing again.
    • Chaos Damage enchantments in Dragonborn. 50% chance to do either Fire, Frost or Lightning damage might sounds a little iffy. However, the enchantment is boosted by all of the elemental enchantment perks as well as the Destruction perks that boost an element's damage. Specing in those perk trees will lead to the Chaos Damage enchantment doing around 6 times more damage that regular elemental damage enchantments. Soon, the 50% effect rate barely becomes an issue.
    • Legendary Skills allow you to reset a skill back to 15 from 100, getting back all the perks you spent in that tree. As mentioned above, armor can be enchanted to reduce the cost of spellcasting to nothing. This can be used to craft 0 cost Alteration equipment, which you can level up to 100 astonishingly fast using Telekinesis. Legendary can be taken over and over again, so once you have Enchanting to 100 with the right perks, you have a limitless experience fountain that has absolutely no risk. Worry no more about where to spend perks, because you can earn enough to cover everything just by holding down a button.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • See if you can find a copy of the book Palla lying around somewhere - the opening lines are a reworking of Nabokov's Lolita.
    • A book called "N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!" often confuses players by being complete gibberish. If you know Esperanto, it's a simple cipher with certain letter sequences swapped for others. Once deciphered, the text either breaks the fourth wall, or it's ancient Sload necromage magazine article that highlights some of the issues between print and Internet-based magazine versions, like image copyrights.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Apart from getting a 40/40 from Weekly Famitsu (the very first western game to get it), Skyrim seems to be growing in popularity in Japan.
    • Conversely, quite a number of western gamers like the Japanese dubbed voices of the game (which for the PC can easily be had by a simple language change), particularly that of Paarthurnax.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Necromancers. It isn't that they toss frost spells or summon skeletons, that's easy. It isn't that they come in packs, though that is more worrisome. No, the frustrating thing about necromancers is that they can revive each other. And you always seem to miss one.
    • Lesser draugr in general (The Scourge and Deathlord are Demonic Spiders). They're more annoying than hard, since many dungeons have a lot of them. They also drop very little valuables and their rusty weapons are heavy and aren't worth much when sold.
    • Wolves are fairly weak, even at the start, and even if they ambush you (which happens a lot) they don't do much damage. What puts them in this category, however, is that they transmit Rockjoint, which will cut down your melee damage by 25%. And it's almost impossible to stop them from getting at least one hit in, so you'll be traveling back to town a lot to get it cured. This can somewhat be remedied with Cure Disease potions but they are fairly expensive early game and all but one the ingredients to make your own are very uncommon.
    • Skeevers can be problematic for similar reasons. And on rare occasions, there is a glitch where you have become a werewolf yet nevertheless get the disease anyway, even though logically you shouldn't physically be able to.
    • Nothing is more comically annoying than a mudcrab with zero self-preservation instincts that scuttles up behind you while you're fighting a dragon and starts stabbing away. Sure, you can turn around and one-hit kill the thing, but you have to take your eyes off the dragon to do it. By the same tokens, dragons can get distracted by the little pests and fly off from your battle to deal with them, which forces you to chase the dragon down.
    • Frostbite Spiders. Only the biggest version is dangerous, but like wolves these things just show up when you aren't expecting anything. Worse, while the wolves warn you, the spiders announce themselves by poisoning you when you aren't paying attention.
    • Falmer are weak, but they are pretty common in the game and tend to fight in packs. The fact they're replacement goblins fits this trope to a T.
  • Good Bad Bug: Wouldn't be a Bethesda game without them. From ragdoll hilarity to physics gaffes to invisible hats that you can wear with other hats, the game has it all!
    • The Saber Cats seem to be the defining example next to Giants.
    • Who stole the courier's clothes?
    • Enemy NPCs continuing their yell "YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME HERE!" after you've cut their heads off in mid-sentence.
      • It is possible to kill enemies so quickly that they'll react like a friendly NPC you accidentally punched instead of a hostile NPC that just got an axe to the skull.
    • At several points in the main questline, you'll be granted a Word of Power and will then be granted the understanding of the word from someone else, unlocking the Word in the Shout without needing a dragon soul. However, if you open a menu before that granting of understanding occurs and expend a dragon soul to unlock the new Word, the game will grant you a second new Word for the Shout and automatically unlock it. This now only allows you to skip searching for one of the Word Walls for that Shout, but if used with Fus Roh Dah specifically (provided you can find another dragon soul before visiting the Greybeards, which is perfectly possible if you know how), you get the full version of the Shout without having to do the Tomb of Jurgen Windcaller. Now go forth into the world and let the Thu'ums fly!
    • Derkeethus' follower quest is so buggy that it frequently never properly starts; you usually have to find him yourself in Darkwater Pass. The upside, though, is that his essential status never gets removed after the quest is complete, meaning he can't be killed under any circumstances. Even if his stats are only average at best, this fact alone makes him one of the most useful followers in the game.
    • Crossed with Gender Bender: Male Dunmer Dovahkiins' grunts sound like those of female Dunmer in Oblivion.
    • Normally, killing a chicken (with a conventional weapon) will earn you a bounty. Doing the same by running it over with a cart will not (as seen in this video at around 5:30).
    • A case of Artificial Stupidity will make a normally rather difficult quest much easier. The Man who cried Wolf quest near Solitude involves a cave full of Necromancers and Draugr, often levelled to be quite difficult to deal with mainly due to their large numbers, and those at the top of the highest structure in the cave are the most powerful. However, if you shoot an arrow into that tower while sneaking, the NPC's there and nearby will be alerted, but for some reason the Necromancers and the Draugr become hostile towards each other and subsequently fight, and the Necromancers being rather weak physically end up getting killed first. Among those is the lead Necromancer, who once killed will result in the quest being completed, and all you'll need to do at this point is mop up the easier enemies and just leave the place.
    • A player with their bow drawn walks slower than normal, but an overencumbered player doing the same walks faster. Not much faster, but enough that the difference is noticeable.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: North of Riften you can find a bandit camp which includes a wolf imprisoned in a cage. Naturally it is hostile, so the player's best course of action is to kill it while it's caged so it can't fight back. Come 2013, try telling this to a Game of Thrones fan; especially if you're using a crossbow, you've just re-enacted Grey Wind's murder at the Red Wedding.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • Wait... that sounded like wind... rushing past a giant pair of wings? By Akatosh, that's a dragon!
    • Was that a roar? BY AZURA, TO ARMS! A DRAGON!
    • Are those bees? SWEET TALOS, THOSE ARE BEES!
    • Did I hear a clicking sound?- CHAURUS! BY MARA, THAT'S A CHAURUS! GET IT AWAY!
    • Hmm, was that another clicking sou—BLESSED KYNARETH, IT'S A FROSTBITE SPIDER! KILL IT, KILL IT!
    • Hmm... Was that a growl we just heard o—BY YSMIR, IT'S A DRAUGR!
    • Was that a "whoosh" soun—*BOOM*—SWEET STENDARR, IT WAS! FIREBALL!
    • What was that clattering noi—GREAT BOETHIAH, A FALMER ARCHER! RUN!
    • Is that... those aren't grunts and chuffs, are th—ARKAY HAVE MERCY, BEARS!
    • What in the blue Oblivion is that rumbling noise? *ROAR* HOLY MERIDIA!!! A FROST TROLL!!
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • An in-game book describing the events of Oblivion takes special care to mention that it was the Mythic Dawn, and not the Dark Brotherhood, who assassinated Uriel Septim. The author even points out that it would have been suicidal for the Brotherhood to have taken out a contract on the Emperor, since it would have brought the whole of the Empire's forces down on them and destroyed them. Guess what you get to do after joining the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim? Also possibly Harsher in Hindsight.
    • Imperial-aligned characters often claim that Ulfric shouted High King Torygg to pieces - something that Ulfric constantly denies, since Unrelenting Force can only ragdoll people. In the Dragonborn DLC, you can actually use Unrelenting Force to disintegrate enemies thanks to an upgrade you can get from Hermaeus Mora.
    • One of the alchemy ingredients in the game are "Large Antlers" which can be found on deer and elk and which restore stamina in potions. In 2013, NFL superstar Ray Lewis was the subject of a bizarre rumor accusing him of using a performance enhancing snake oil made from ground-up deer antlers to give him energy to rehab from an injury.
    • One of M'aiq the Liar's lines in this game is a Take That against MMOs. Then Zenimax announced The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO. Whoops...
  • Hype Aversion; Due to its insane popularity, some hardcore gamers vilify Skyrim, feeling that a proper RPG wouldn't be as popular as Call of Duty or Minecraft.
  • Hype Backlash: Since its release Skyrim is regarded as one of the best RPGs ever created. While its true, commercially, gamers point out Skyrim's various flaws and shortcomings, especially when it comes to story and characters. Some are irritated that Skyrim is treated like second coming of lightsaber-wielding mecha Jesus, mostly by casual gamers who found Skyrim far more accessible than Oblivion or Morrowind. And don't even try discussing Skyrim on /v/.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • The Civil War storyline. Debates regarding how and why one side is better than the other can quickly get rather flame-hot and passionate. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that this is how people often react with one another when discussing similarly broad Real Life disputes.
    • Bethesda received some heavy flack due to the entire DLC debacle, mostly stemming from the delayed releases of the DLC for various platforms, particularly Dawnguard, then the announcement that there wouldn't be any more. And it's best to just leave it at that.
  • It's Short, so It Sucks :
    • Some of the games' major subplots could be finished in an afternoon, and the main quest will take about 20-30 hours. Given that only one or two of these hours is Disappointing Last Level compared to others in the's probably a bit better that they didn't decide to lengthen the story. Once you finish however, there's a ton of sidequests quests, ranging from questlines like the College and Companions to just retrieving an item for someone, and there's also finding all the Words of Power. Even if you don't have a quest to do, the game world is just so deep that you can pick a compass direction and head off into the unknown, you're bound to come across a new tomb or cave you haven't explored yet. Thus, if you're planning to plumb the game for all it has to offer outside the two main story quests, you're going to be spending a lot of time in Skyrim.
    • Because of the new random quest system, there are fewer scripted storyline quests for all the questlines compared to previous Elder Scrolls games, thus it can feel a bit jarring to be proclaimed a trusted and veteran member of your guild and their Chosen One just shortly after joining. These sorts of Pacing Problems are particularly obvious with the Companions questline, where one gets to join their Circle of most trusted veteran warriors literally after the initiation and then doing one more quest. (Though it's helped along by support from the Harbinger Kodlak, because he recognizes you from a prophetic dream.
    • Many reviewers are stating that they feel the main quest-line of Dragonborn was too short, at least compared to Dawnguard they usually say the amount of other quests make up for it though.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Knight-Paladin Gelebor. His entire species, besides him and his vampiric brother, has seemingly been wiped out, and he needs to have his brother killed, yet he remains a Nice Guy.
  • It Was His Sled: Alduin has returned, and the dragons are returning because he's reviving them.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Ulfric Stormcloak. Yeah, he might be indifferent to non-Nords and slightly frosty, but his torture at the hands of the Thalmor was completely undeserved and he honestly feels that Skyrim's plight cannot be resolved in any other way apart from Civil War.
    • Delphine and Esbern may be rude and impolite, and few fans condone their attitude towards Paarthurnax, but the fact of the matter is that they've been hunted for decades, with most of their friends murdered in cold blood.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Lydia quickly became one. Though housecarls in general are pretty tough, Lydia is the one almost every player has. She can survive being hurled off a mountain.
    • Giants, too, due to a Good Bad Bug that lets them knock players into the sky with their clubs.
    • Ysgramor, in-universe. He can eat soup with a fork.
    • Horses.
    • For most people, slaying a dragon is the most awesome thing you can do in your life. For the Dovahkiin, it's all in a day's work.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Mondegreen: The lyrics in the trailer were initially thought by some to be English, but are actually in the language of dragons:
    Dovahkiin, Dovahkiinnote 
    Naal ok zin los vahriinnote 
    Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaalnote 
    Ahrk fin norok paal graannote 
    Fod nust hon zindro zaannote 
    Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draalnote 
    • Hilariously, as one YouTube commentor pointed out, it's also possible to mishear it as a spot-on Stormcloak anthem!
      For the king! For the king!
      For the sons of Skyrim!
      For our land! For our home! For the Empire's blood!
      For the Nords! For the gods! For the sole single note  son!
      Our king, our king who'll dawn with victory!
    • Also, this bit of misheard lyrics, by many a Youtuber, from the trailer (starts just after the fus ro dah) and they couldn't be more true:
    Praise the Lord
    Go to school
    Oh my God
    Me gusta
    It's not fair
    Fat laaaard
    Watch my tie rectal staple my heart to the floor.
    • Or alternately:
    Dovahkiin! Dovahkiin! Not a single sardine!
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • The Thalmor crossed it on the 30th of Frostfall, 4E 171. That day, the Emperor's birthday according to lore, the Thalmor entered the Imperial palace and delivered the heads of every Blade in Thalmor territory. If they didn't cross it then, their torture of Ulfric Stormcloak certainly counts.
    • One of the Dragon Priests, Rahgot, forced his entire cult to commit mass suicide... even the children.
    • In the eyes of many players, the refusal of the Blades to help you should you refuse to kill Paarthurnax counts, to the point that it's not uncommon for players to just ditch them. This in fact spawned many mods to rectify it, ranging from forcing the Blades into line to making a quest where you had to kill them.
    • Depending on what actions you take to cause a distraction at the Thalmor Embassy, Erikur will end up getting a Bosmer slave girl sent to the Embassy's torture chamber simply because she turned down his advances. Luckily you can rescue her later.
    • If Alduin didn't cross it when he indirectly caused the events of ''Battlespire'' and ''Oblivion'' through his corruption of Mehrunes Dagon, he definitely crosses it either when he razes Helgen to the ground or when he starts eating the souls of the dead in Sovngarde.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Get used to hearing enemy NPCs tell you that YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME HERE!
    • Heimskr, who might be considered something of an expy of Cromwell, the preacher from Megaton in Fallout 3. Even the wiki has a list of ways to stealth kill him to shut him up.
    • Nazeem's remark of "Do you get to the Cloud District very often? Oh, what am I saying? Of course you don't." At least he wanders near the front gate for handy vampire death.
    • If you install Dawnguard and don't bother starting it for a while, you'll get very tired of hearing "Heard they're reforming the Dawnguard..."
    • Speaking of Dawnguard, potential follower Serana is a fountain of annoying phrases. If she's accompanying you, you'd better get used to hearing "Where did you come from?" and "Done and done." every single time you enter and leave combat. To make matters worse, due to a bug, Serana also loves to say "Yes? What did you need?" every few seconds between the quests "Prophet" and "Chasing Echoes". Especially grating when you're forging, enchanting or brewing potions and she decides to stand right beside you and repeat it over and over again.
    • Shopkeepers in general have the same problem, especially if you're borrowing their facilities (alchemy, enchanting, smithing). They only have around three stock sayings every single time you want to buy or sell something. Which will be often. Hearing them say "Odds and ends, and that sort of thing" for the 500th time can get pretty grating.
    • The children of Skyrim have this down to an art. "Another wanderer, here to lick my father's boots. Good job." "I thought adventurers were supposed to look tough." "I bet my papa could beat you up." The list goes on, inspiring modders to defy Infant Immortality.
    • For some fans, Cicero is this in general, with his constant yelling and cheering in his screechy voice.
    • Mjoll the Lioness as a follower is basically an embodiment of this. You'll be nursing a nice headache after hearing about her hunting trips to Morrowind, and her love of the cold about every 5 minutes.
    • The Spectral Assassin also counts for similar reasons as Mjoll.
    • The Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary contains a friendly Frostbite Spider right next to the alchemy/enchanting stations. If you plan on using your tradeskills in the Sanctuary, the sound of the spider walking around in its enclosure may prompt you to stealth-kill it just to get it to shut up.
    • If you side with the Legion and go looking for the Jagged Crown, you'll end up in a part of the dungeon where you'll have to find a well-hidden lever in order to open a gate. If you can't find the lever right away, get used to Legate Rikke asking you every ten seconds if you've seen a lever anywhere.
    • If yu choose not to do Jaree-Ra's quest, be prepared to constantly hear, "You sould see me when you get bored, stranger," whenever you're in Solitude. Some good-aligned players have agreed to do the quest just so he'll shut up.
  • Narm:
    • The marriage dialogue.
    Player: "Interested in me, are you?"
    NPC: "Well, yes. Why wouldn't I be? Are you... interested in me?"
    Player: "Yes. Yes, I am."
    • Gormlaith shouting "Skyrim WILL! BE! FREE!"
    • All NPCs have combat lines that relate to their position and race. Normally this isn't a problem, but hearing Lydia yelling "Skyrim belongs to the Nords!" while fighting mud crabs is a bit narmy.
    • There is a lot of overlap between helping out an NPC via a favor or misc quest, and possibly going against them in another sidequest. For example, after completing both Taking Care of Business and his misc quest, the waiter at the Riften inn will be admonishing you for defeating in a brawl/intimidating the innkeeper one moment, and singing your praises for helping him make his wedding ring the next.
    • The overly dramatic tone in Karliah's voice when, near the end of the Thieves Guild questline, she warns you that once you've chosen your Nightingale power, you can't change it for at least a day.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • Peryite's quest, "The Only Cure". You can meet a passive Afflicted early on, which indicates to you that The Virus in this example rots your skin somewhat. In the quest itself, you encounter aggressive Afflicted who can attack you Linda Blair-style with streams of vomit. Oh, and the condition is a "blessing" according to Peryite.
    • Namira's Daedric quest, where you slaughter a man in cold blood on a rather disturbing-looking altar and then shovel gobs of his raw flesh into your mouth with your bare hands. Then Namira speaks to you and congratulates you for your actions. Notable in that, if you want 100% Completion, doing this is mandatory.
    • For a tamer one, the very beginning of the game, after the guy before you has his head chopped off. You are placed on the chopping block next, with a perfect few second clear view of his severed head right below you.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The revered dragons are a little too goofy looking to take seriously.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Roggvir only gets a few minutes in one scene to Chew The Scenery and he makes a meal of it.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • Dragons can attack you anywhere where the sky is visible. Even inside cities. Half the time your only warning that a dragon is about to attack is when it suddenly roars and drops down on you. The other half of the time, they don't even do that. Even in the courtyard of the mage college, in the middle of a thick snowstorm.
    • Wondering why you can't fast travel when you have no enemies in sight? Keep your eyes open and checking the skies and your ears expecting a loud roar, a dragon might come down breathing fire/ice on your head soon enough.
    • Hired thugs are even worse they can show up inside dungeons and have tendency to attack you in towns while you're doing things like using a smelter or arcane enchanter.
    • A specific plot instance is Alduin's soul-snaring mist in Sovngarde. You can't see him, and it is quite possible to come up to a random anonymous soldier who barely has time to tell you to run before he gets snatched away and his very soul devoured.
    • When you kill Grelod the Kind, Aventus gives you the reward, all's well and good, right? Wrong. A courier shows up with a message from someone. Whoever sent it was pretty eager to get it to you, apparently. So you read the note. Wanna know what it says? "We know" below a black handprint. Sleep tight.
      • Better yet, don't. That's how they kidnap you.
    • In barrows, the mummified corpses that rise up to attack you and the ones that just sit in their tombs and sarcophagi look very similar. In an early playthrough, it's almost impossible to be sure which ones are undead and which aren't. It gets better as become more savvy and level up, but then you run into the problem of enemies and sarcophagi that don't "trigger" because your Sneak is too high, and suddenly find yourself surrounded because you made just a tiny bit of noise...
    • During the quest "A Cornered Rat," you might notice an oddity in Riften; there's a Khajiit named Shavari wandering around the city proper, something you won't find anywhere else. Other than that, she doesn't seem very noteworthy, doesn't have much to say, and isn't particularly friendly. But if you pay special attention to her, you'll notice she's both watching and following you from a safe distance. When you escape the Ratways with Esbern, you'll find out she's working with the Thalmor. You can also pickpocket her and find a note that specifically says that the Thalmor are tracking you and that you'll lead them to Esbern.
    • Spriggans appear literally out of nowhere, right next to you, and hit hard when they do. As a result, you'll never feel safe in wooded grottoes.
    • With Dawnguard, vampires will randomly attack people on the streets in cities at night. You'll also encounter a "mysterious traveler" who is actually a roaming vampire who will attack people at night. You can stop him/her from killing someone, but you have to spot him/her first. Better keep those detection spells handy....
    • Also in Dawnguard, you can also encounter Vampires pretending to be Vigilants of Stendarr. There are also Bandits dressed as Imperials, who attempt to shake the Dragonborn down for money.
  • Player Punch:
    • If you decide to kill Paarthurnax, you'll find that he doesn't fly off to attack you until you chip off 50% of his health, he constantly says "Su'um ahrk morah" in what may be an attempt to plead with you, and he's only Level 10, no stronger than the early-game dragons, so he hardly seems like the threat the Blades make him out to be. It really feels more like murder than a battle - especially when you absorb his soul.
      • And to make matters worse, he clearly is throwing the fight. He's strong enough to hold his own against Alduin, so the only reason he's such an easy opponent is that he doesn't want to kill you.
    • For Imperial-aligned players who nonetheless have a degree of sympathy for the Stormcloak point of view, killing Ulfric can be one of these. The contrast between Rikke and Tullius's attitudes is especially jarring: Rikke clearly finds the whole thing tragic, while Tullius simply mentions that they'll put his head on a pike.
    • Narfi's side quest leaves you with one hell of a Sadistic Choice. You can either tell him the truth about his sister's death and crush his spirit, or feed him false hope by telling him she'll be back soon, which is likely to just crush him even worse in the future. It gets even worse if you continue through the Dark Brotherhood questline, eventually having to kill him. And all but one of the responses is talking down to the poor man. The only respectable reply you can give him is silence before you do the deed.
    • For Hearthfire, there are four orphans living in the streets. You can only adopt two.
    • Visiting the Soul Cairn. All those poor bastards whose souls you stole to make that awesome enchanted armor you're wearing (or whatever you chose to do with them)? This is where you sent them.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • While the Xbox and PC versions are relatively stable for a Bethesda game, the PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim is plagued with massive slow-downs, almost to the point of being unplayable. This is especially frustrating for gamers who utilize larger saving files, since they will have to wait for Bethesda to release a patch, although it is unclear how effective the patch will be.
    • While the PC version does not suffer many technical problems (well, no more than the Xbox version — this is an Elder Scrolls game, after all), the UI is very console-adapted, to the point that it has caused problems with using a mouse for many users (as in, the game doesn't properly register that you clicked on something). Bethesda has said they have no intention of modifying the UI themselves, but luckily this is one porting problem that can be (and already has been) fixed by modders.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Bosmers in general seem to have gotten out of the scrappy heap for people have more or less accepted the current look of the male Bosmers over the previous game's dwarf, comical like appearances and a few characters such as Enthir and Faendal are well liked among the fandom. If anything, people are upset that you can't marry a Bosmer in the game. Having them as Woobie Species by forcefully becoming indentured servants to the Thalmor probably gives them sympathy points.
    • Originally known as the guy who just gives you 10 gold for giving him a powerful item in Morrowind, fans have been much more receptive to Neloth for his mad and rude, yet humorous personality. Having him give you much better rewards such as useful spells and the ability to create staves as well as helping out the player in Dragonborn's main quest with no strings attached has helped him as well.
  • Ron the Death Eater: It's mind-numbingly common to see either side in the Civil War storyline demonize the other whenever it's brought up. For example, go to any popular Youtube video that is about the Imperial Legion and count how many "Hail Stormcloaks!" comments there are.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Heimskr due to his endless preaching about Talos. Makes it even worse when he loses his house and thus preaches more. He's one of the two things both Imperial and Stormcloak sympathizers agree to hate.
    • The Thalmor. They're generally hated by everyone. As one fan put it, people hate the Nazi elves more than the world-eating dragon. If the general NPC attitude towards them is any indication, this was likely intentional. Many will even go out of their way to kill them when it's not beneficial, and even if they're Imperial-aligned. Ancano and Ondolemar seem to be the only ones with remote popularity, as the former is a Badass and actually doing something, while the latter is polite enough to at least give you respect and Dummied Out content gives him a Defiant to the End moment.
    • Delphine and Esbern. Forcing the player character to serve as their errand boy as well as ordering him/her to kill Paarthurnax did not win them love from the fans. There is even a player-made mod to force them to see things your way and continue to support you if you don't kill him, or simply one that gives you an option of killing them as a legitimate means to end the quest.
    • Nazeem. He's what happens when you take Upper-Class Twit Up to Eleven. His dialogue consists entirely of arrogant and condescending remarks, not just with you but in his ambient conversations as well, and since he spends most of his day right in the middle of town, chances are you're going to pass him three or four times every time you're in Whiterun. He's right up there with Heimskr as far as highly murderable NPCs go.
    • One of Skyrim's most loathed characters is easily Maven Black-Briar. Most players hate her for her untouchability, as she has the city guard in her pocket, goes out of her way to talk condescendingly to everyone, uses her Thieves' Guild associations to harass other businessmen, and is the sole reason why Riften is a Wretched Hive. To make it worse, she is essential, and becomes Jarl of Riften if you side with the Empire during the Civil War.. Anytime someone asks which Skyrim character they hate the most, you can always expect her name to come up quite a bit.
      • If you've become the Master of the Thieves' Guild and/or the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, her smug, arrogant threats take on a humorous (or grating) edge: she's basically threatening you with yourself.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The broken-as-hell yielding system. In Oblivion, all you needed to do to yield was block and press a button, which the enemy would recognize and guards always accepted. In Skyrim, you need to put your weapon away and just stand there. Most of the time it doesn't work, meaning guards will keep trying to kill you for a forty-gold bounty, no matter how many times you try to surrender.
    • Marriage. Despite being an interesting new aspect of the game with great potential, many people have taken issue with it. Courtship is easy and short. The dialogue with your spouse is rather boring and often buggy, and you can't have any meaningful interaction with them apart from setting them as a follower, talking about various banal topics, or buying items. The only benefits it offers are certain status buffs, a source of income, and a free follower. It's become enough of a problem that there are numerous mods to improve marriage, including ones that allow you to marry more characters.
    • As of Dawnguard, every town has a chance to be attacked at night by a Vampire Master and two or three Vampire Thralls. Many players have noted that this wreaks havoc with nonessential quest givers and merchants.
    • If you travel to Soltheim and start the main quest of Dragonborn, Miraak will appear and steal the soul of some of the dragons you kill until you finally defeat him at the end of the main quest, even if you travel back to Skyrim.
    • Kill cams. They have a nasty habit of missing with projectile kill cams, they interrupt player control, and there's mounting evidence that they disregard all damage-mitigating factors: damage resist, magic/elemental resist, blocking, cover, not being anywhere near close enough to be killcam'd... Not much of a problem when you inflict it on people, but when that dragon bite-thrash-toss killcam's you when you were nowhere near, had capped armor, your shield raised, had over half your health left, and were beyond their bite range.
    • The radiant quests specific to Dawnguard. Rather than just let you complete a specific quest series, you have to bounce back and forth between other quest givers who force you into dungeon raids (on dungeons you may or may not have already slaughtered your way through) or pointless assassinations, trying to get them to lead you back to the quest givers who actually give out meaningful rewards, and even they sometimes just send you on a pointless quest instead. It serves no practical purpose except to waste your time on meaningless nonsense, and the worst part is that it can even put the quest in Dragonborn-specific locations, even if you haven't even touched that questline. Even Save Scumming doesn't help that much.
  • Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer:
    • As before with Elder Scrolls games, you can spend so long reading books.
    • And as with a lot of freeform exploration games, it is absurdly easy to get sidetracked while en route to a quest. Something as simple as stopping to investigate a curious landmark while en route to another quest site can result in the player ending up on the far side of Skyrim engaging in another quest-line entirely unrelated to the first one. Note that Skyrim has about 400 locations to visit.
    • Hearthfire DLC will make you spend time to build your house and forget everything else.
  • Squick:
    • Awesome yet totally horrid is a werewolf's double-swipe power finisher, where they grab their foe, lift them off the ground and pop their head off like they're crushing a grapefruit.
    • Wear the Ring of Namira around and guards will comment on how rotten your breath smells and ask what you've been eating. The answer, if you have the ring, is of course human flesh.
    • Cicero talking about oiling the Night Mother "...get all the hard to reach places...".
  • Special Effect Failure: There are several mods that exist solely to address the fact that the water troughs used by the blacksmiths' have no animation whatsoever.
    • If you (for some reason) strip a character naked, you'll notice their feet look like mittens with lines engraved for their toes.
    • Children only seem to have one outfit, based on their gender. Even Babette, who you think would look more like she belongs in the Dark Brotherhood.
  • Stop Helping Me!:
    • Barbas can be a potential companion, and makes for a reasonably effective tank, especially as he can't be killed. However, he stays extremely close to you, often pushing you around, and as long as he's in your party you can't do anything stealthy, and he reports crimes you commit. Seeing as how he's Clavicus Vile's conscience and wants to be reunited with him, this makes sense.
    • Almost every follower is this to a stealth-based character.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Nazeem is so despised that many Youtubers have made montages and "sent him to the cloud district."
    • As well as a mod that literally deletes him from the game.
    • In game, Nazeem's own wife snarks to anyone within earshot about him stuffing himself up the Jarl's backside.
  • That One Attack:
    • ZUN HAL VIIK, the Disarm Shout used by Draugr Deathlords. Not only is it frustrating to hunt down the weapon that was taken from your grasp while you're fighting an already annoying-to-kill enemy, but due to the buggy nature of the game, more often than not, the weapon will simply clip through the ground and will be unobtainable. This is especially frustrating when this happens to weapons with superb enchantments.
    • The Giants also definitely qualify as this when they run up to you and smash the ground, sending you to the skies.
    • Magic users for a character not specifically geared toward thwarting it. Magic does a lot of damage to an unprotected player, and it's especially bad with the lightning-throwing mages that cannot miss so long as they're in range. They make the early game hell in certain places.
  • That One Boss:
    • The Ghost of Sigdis Gauldurson at the end of the Forbidden Legend quest. He's a Doppelganger boss where you have to play whack-a-draugr to find the real deal, they're all archers (and hurt a lot when they hit), and each one, doppelgangers and all, pack an Unrelenting Force shout powerful enough to send you flying. Even if you whack a few of the doppelgangers, the remainder will shout you onto your ass and you take forever to get back up, meaning he resets his doppelgangers all over and you probably didn't land a single hit. By which time you'll be frantically restoring whatever health was lost when you were a sitting duck getting pincushioned by arrows after being shouted over. Of course, you can always just hide behind a pillar and take pot-shots. You even have to fight Sigdis twice during the quest. And the second time he is part of a Boss Rush along with his brothers.
    • The Dragon Priests. In particular, one is entombed at the summit of Spearpoint... with a dragon! Hope you killed the dragon before getting to the word wall, because it's a nasty surprise for players that don't know better.
    • Malyn Varen can be pretty nasty. He sics three Daedra enemies on you before fleeing to his chamber, and they're fond of powerful fire spells. If you're unlucky, all three of them will gang up on you at once. Hope you brought some fire resistance and healing potions.
    • Malkoran is considered this not because of his shades, but because of his extremely powerful frost spell that can potentially kill in one hit even in the lowest difficulty.
    • Morvarth has several vampire servants that can cast powerful ice spells and heal themselves as well. Combined with Morvath's own powerful spells and tendecy to decapitate in melee, many players will be seeing the same loading screen over and over again.
    • Captain Hargar of Broken Oar Grotto. Sure he's easy enough to stealth and his men are very weak, and you don't even have to kill him to finish the quest "Lights Out!", but if you try to face him head on expect to see what it's like on the opposite end of a two-handed finishing move.
    • Hamelyn can be a big surprise if you proceed through the Thieves' Guild questline for the first time. While most of the quests involve just stealing and doing hits on targets, the last thing that a new player expects is fighting a fireball-happy madman who can kill you in a few hits and pretty much automatically knows you're there because his skeever buddies will almost certainly spot you on the way in, thus warning him. You can even confront the quest giver about this afterwards.
    • Potema can be hard, but is even more confusing than anything. Once you enter her room, she will be invulnerable in spectral form and will continually toss lighting spells at you while at the same time making you fight various draugr (and there should be at least one deathlord among them). Once you kill them once, she will resurrect them and make you fight them again (so loot them as you kill them to weaken them). Once you wipe the room clean, you will then finally fight her physical form which is much easier, but still capable of killing you, especially if you have been weakened from the earlier fight.
    • The Boneyard Keepers in the Soul Cairn. Two Words: Dragonbone Weapons.
    • The Ebony Warrior is without a doubt the hardest enemy in the entire Elder Scrolls Series, even harder than Umbra. It is very unlikely you'll kill him even if you're a level 80 he can still obliterate the living crap out of you. It may be slightly easier if you bring Odahviing and a companion along, but he'll still annihilate them like they're little bits of paper.
    • Falx Carius is very tough, as his weapon "The Champion's Cudgel" does massive damage that can likely 2-3 hit KO the player. as well as the weapon randomly shocks, freezes or burns you. Adding to that he has three Ash Spawn in the battle that are also quite tough.
  • That One Level: The penultimate dungeon consists of the same Draugr enemies you've seen in every ruin and tomb up to that point, the only catch is this time you have no follower and the dungeon is a lot longer. Depending on how much you've leveled, this can mean either a swarm of standard Draugr, or Scourges who may have shouts (and will destroy your stamina with frost spells) and Deathlords who do have shoutsnote  and, on top of that, take lots of abuse before going down, plus one Dragon Priest who's surprisingly fragile. Given that dungeons aren't even that long, and the Disappointing Last Level of Morrowind... it's an improvement. The game also throws a couple of dragons at you there... but they don't level-scale, so they'll probably end up as the easiest to kill for you.
  • That One Sidequest: Many could qualify, but one in particular is Azura's Star, a reusable soul gem. No matter which side you take in the quest, you're ultimately sent inside the gem to take out the wizard who trapped his soul in there. See the entry for Malyn Varen above.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The Thalmor's actions give them a ton of potential as villains, with the signs of their actions being far more visible than Alduin's along with the notes them crossing the Moral Event Horizon more than once, and the player barely gets to interact with them.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • To some, the Civil War plotline was underutilized. The in-game story clues and documentation reveal a long and complex backstory involving war and political intrigue between many nations and factions leading to the start of the civil war. The war itself has distinctive factions with heaps of Gray and Grey Morality associated with them, many ways to interpret all sides, and an overarching conflict with the Thalmor. However, the civil war itself takes a backseat to the main quest centering around Alduin, and while the civil war questline is one of the largest in the game, it generally involves similar missions across Skyrim, just in different locations depending on faction. You can actually discuss this with the head of the Bard's College in Solitude, who comments that the war in Skyrim is just another war in history, and that kings and empires rise and fall regularly, but that the conflict between the Dragonborn and Alduin is something much more unique and noteworthy.
    • Remember how Ondolemar is nowhere to be found in Markarth after the Stormcloaks take it, and you find his coffin in the mausoleum? In the cut-out sieges for the other two major cities (Riften, Markarth), there is a special scene for the new jarl kicking out the old. And for Thongvor kicking out Igmund? The aftermath involves Galmar doing a "Not so fast!" to Ondolemar, who is forced to his knees, says some last pithy comments... and then Galmar axes him dead. We never get to see this, alas, because it's cut.
    • The College of Winterhold starts out with the player as a new apprentice to a Wizarding School, being introduced to their fellow apprentices and their new teachers and their first quest involves a pratical magic lesson and a class trip to an ancient magical excavation side. Instead of a story involving study in a magical college, however, the main College questline involves saving the world, with studying at the College itself serving as a number of sidequests involving the various master-level mage trainers.
    • The Thalmor plotline is never resolved, as you don't get to take them down once and for all, nor does there seem to be a sequel that will resolve this anytime soon, as Bethesda seems more interested in Elder Scrolls Online. This seems to be purposely unresolved solely for ambiguity.
  • Ugly Cute: Your adopted kids may try to take on rabbits or foxes as pets, which is ordinary cute. They might also opt for a mudcrab or a skeever or even a frostbite spider, which falls into this trope since they're tiny and more adorable than their bigger, annoying cousins.
    • The Rieklings from the Dragonborn expansion, particularly those you can befriend in the Thirsk mead hall.
  • The Untwist: While he does an valiant job in hiding it, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Ancano is every bit of the bad guy the rest in Winterhold suspects him to be.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The new engine attempts to solve this issue, with the faces be a vast improvement over previous games although animations are still a bit awkward.
    • The new characters also attempt to carry on their daily duties while glancing at the player if you speak to them, while this is normally fine sometimes it can break in crowded areas such as a tavern when multiple NPCs think the character is about to start a conversation, as a result, everyone stares at the player every time they look up from what they're doing.
    • Someone made a mod that makes the horses in-game look like they came from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The results look like someone tried to render a pony realistically.
      • Another attempt to combine the two series, which uses pre-existing 3D models of the characters, also falls into the valley.
    • Adults have very distinct appearances. Children, clothing aside, look like clones. Worse, many of the animations for children weren't properly rigged. When a child NPC does something like sit down on a chair, or uses an Alchemy station, their dimensions will stretch out and make them the same size as the adults.
    • Lack of facial expressions lead to this. Sometimes you get a close up view of an enemy's face making a blank stare while having the crap beat out of them.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Skyrim looks amazing, especially the landscape, which is very rugged and treacherous, and full of forests, mountains, snow and seas to behold. This screenshot contains some amazing Scenery Porn, and is really in-game effects. And for the rest of the game, the characters, weapons and locations are finely detailed.
  • The Woobie:
    • Any of the orphans, but particularly the ones added in Hearthfire, who don't live at the orphanage and are variously required to sleep on the streets, in a stable, in the nearby mine, etc. Even sadder is that you can only adopt two orphans. No Orphanage of Love for you!
    • Karliah. She lost Gallus, the love of her life, to Mercer Frey and has had to go on the run for twenty-five lonely years, with very few people she could trust, after Mercer slandered her name to the rest of the Thieves' Guild and led them to believe that she was the one who murdered the Guildmaster. Not only that, but she has had to live with not only her failure to protect Gallus from Mercer, but her failure to protect the Twilight Sepulcher, her responsibility as a Nightingale, and prevent its defilement by that same bastard, which greatly displeased her goddess Nocturnal. Let's just say Karliah has every reason to despise Mercer, and by the time you finally meet her and have been betrayed by Mercer as well, you will have plenty of reason to hate him as well, even before you find out what Mercer has done to the Guild he was supposed to lead.
    • Knight-Paladin Gelebor. He's the last untainted Snow Elf, with little hope of any others being in Skyrim or the rest of Tamriel. The only other untainted Snow Elf is technically a vampire, and his brother, whom he feels is now too dangerous to be kept alive. May also be a case of Iron Woobie, owing to the fact that he's reasonably composed about the whole thing and somehow manages to remain a Nice Guy.
    • Malborn. His family were killed by the Thalmor, he winds up working at their embassy for years in an attempt to slow them down, and in the end he accomplishes nothing against them, and unless you have lightning reflexes, they kill him, too.
    • Paarthurnax. He did the best he could to atone for his misdeeds by helping the Nords to rise up against the dragons, but in spite of this he's aware that he could give in to his primal instincts and has to isolate himself away from most people. And after that, the Blades still want him dead.
  • Woobie Species:
    • The Falmer once you learn about how they became who they are now. The last untainted Snow Elf reveals that the race was mainly a peaceful race who just simply want to pray to their gods before the Nords came and claimed Skyrim as their ancestral land, simultaneously causing population problems and forcing them out. Most of the Snow Elves allied with the Dwemer out of desperation of avoiding a extinction, only to be turned into the Falmer or the Betrayed as they call them. The only reason Arch-Curate Vyrthur wasn't turned into a Betrayed is because his chantry was isolated from the rest of the Snow Elves' community underground.
    • Although not to the extent of the Falmer, every other Mer race in this game have it pretty rough. The Dunmer have lost half of Morrowind to the Argonians and the other half was pretty much destroyed by Red Mountain after the Oblivion Crisis and they have only recently begun to rebuild Morrowind. Orsinium has been destroyed yet again and the Orcs are now scattered across Skyrim and Hammerfell while building another Orsinium. Valenwood has been forcefully annexed into the Aldmeri Dominion and Bosmer are being treated as indentured servants. Even Altmer who are openly against the Thalmor are being hunted down by them and those who aren't so open are scared of them.
    • Even a few of the human races get into this a bit, thanks to the Thalmor. The Nord way of life is under attack by the Thalmor-directed Empire leading to a bloody war, the Bretons are becoming slaves in all but name to the Thalmor, and the Imperials have been whittled down to a Vestigial Empire under the Thalmor's thumb and are being forced to wage a war they didn't want.
      • One race of men who managed to avert it somewhat are the Redguards. After rejecting the White-Gold Concordant, which would have ceded large parts of Hammerfell to the Thalmor, they fought a war against the Thalmor independent of the empire and managed to win, forcing the Thalmor into a separate treaty. Hammerfell, though now independent, was devastated and exhausted from the fighting.

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