Examples of Ensemble Darkhorse in The Elder Scrolls series.
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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Examples from Morrowind
- Jiub. His badass appearance, the fact that he is the first character players encounter, the fact that he is a fellow prison-ship prisoner along with the player, and his friendliness all make him very popular with fans, despite only having a few lines before being put... or rather, kept on a boat. There are more than a few mods that bring him back in various capacities, including as a companion, and add quests centered around him. Bethesda took notice and later, in Oblivion, there is a mention of him having been canonized as a Saint for ridding Vvardenfell of all Cliff Racers. Finally, in the Dawnguard expansion to Skyrim, he returns in person. The player can encounter Jiub while wandering the Soul Cairn, where soul trapped individuals eventually end up; as it turns out, Jiub was in Kvatch just in time for the Oblivion Crisis, and his soul was captured by an invading Dremora. Although initially somewhat oblivious to his true fate, he asks the player to collect pages from the first part of his epic twenty-six volume Opus, The Rise and Fall of Saint Jiub the Eradicator Hero of Morrowind and Savior of the Dunmer.
- Crassius Curio, an Imperial nobleman whose sponsorship you must gain to join House Hlaalu. He is memorable for his Dirty Old Man personality, for being the only house sponsor who actually takes a liking to you, and has the easiest task to get him to sponsor you (which is to strip naked, regardless of your gender). You can ask him for advice with house quests, which will lead you to find he actually has a firm moral code when it comes to political matters. This adds the option to a number of the quests to report corrupt officials from the very corrupt House Hlaalu to him. He also wrote the semi-pornographic play, The Lusty Argonian Maid, which has itself become popular among the fandom.
- Divayth Fyr has inspired a rabid fandom for a guy who has only a short (but vital) role in the game's main quest. Being a Cool Old Guy Dimensional Traveler who is Really 4000 Years Old, has made himself multiple Opposite-Sex Clone wife/daughters, has a large collection of legendary artifacts (which you can take... if you can find the keys...) and helps the Player Character become The Ageless tends to cause that.
- Neloth is also receiving a surge in popularity, if only for his epic reappearance in Skyrim's Dragonborn'' DLC where is a snarky Insufferable Genius Archmage.
- Vivec, the Tribunal deity, is also extremely popular. Probably has a lot to do with the 36 Lessons of Vivec, which detail some of his more wild and bizarre escapades, as well as all the innuendo surrounding MUATRA.
- Heddvild, the big blonde Nord woman in Balmora, is surprisingly used in a lot of fanfiction and some people have even "cast" her as the Player Character in Oblivion.
- Tarhiel, despite being a One-Scene Wonder who usually dies upon meeting him, because of said scene being very memorable and establishing how Magic works in this game. Like M'aiq, he received numerous shout-outs in the following games.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Examples from Oblivion
- The player's superior in the Dark Brotherhood, Lucien Lachance, is extremely popular, both with fangirls and otherwise. Somehow, the fact that he is a Card-Carrying Villain doesn't hurt his popularity in the slightest. That said, if they've been working for Lachance long enough, the player also qualifies as a Card-Carrying Villain.
- The Adoring Fan is quite a popular character among fans despite how much of annoying Butt-Monkey he is, or perhaps because of it. He's even got his own card in The Elder Scrolls: Legends.
- Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness is incredibly popular, due to the fact that being Crazy Awesome is his entire job as well as the runaway success of the Shivering Isles expansion, of which he is a central character. His popularity remains strong with his appearance in Skyrim due to the implication that the Sheogorath in Skyrim is actually the player character of Oblivion, showing a kinder but no less wacky side of himself.
- On a similar note (speaking of Crazy Awesome), there's a portion of the fanbase that really likes Pelinal Whitestrake for the same reason.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Examples from Skyrim
- Lydia quickly gained this status in the first few days of launch. One of the many companion characters who can be gained early in the campaign, she stands out for many reasons, among them the fact that she's well-armed, attractive, and sarcastic—as well as given to you as a housecarl as part of the main quest. 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.
- One of Oblivion's darkhorses, Lucien Lachance, returns as a spectral assassin the player can learn to summon.
- 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 (aka, Mario's voice actor) doesn't hurt either.
- Brynjolf of the Thieves' Guild. With his accent, friendliness, and tendency to affectionately call your PC "lass/lad", many players were disappointed to find he's not a marriage option.
- The Circle members of the Companions - Vilkas, Farkas, and Aela - are all very popular for their attractive designs, being met early in the game, and being very badass. Farkas in particular is well-liked, due to the fact that he's one of the only Companions to be friendly toward the Dragonborn from the start.
- Mjoll the Lioness, for being a badass Action Girl who is trying to single-handedly clean up Riften and bring the Black-Briars and Thieves' Guild to justice, and has the guts to verbally spit in Maven's face about it when they come across each other. Players who want to do the same will probably find themselves very attached to Mjoll.
- Knight-Paladin Gelebor from the same expansion is also immensely popular, due to being a Badass Pacifist and (apparently) the last of the Snow Elves, which makes his attractive design very unique.
- Jarl Balgruuf is very probably the most popular of the Jarls due to the fact that when you have to capture a live dragon, he decides to grab an axe and get stuck in personally. It also helps that he recognizes you as the legendary dragonslaying badass you are after the first Dragon fight and shows you the appropriate respect from that point onwards, unlike almost everyone else in Skyrim.
- Brunwulf Free-Winter, replacement Jarl of Windhelm and quite possibly the "Nicest Guy in Skyrim."
- One of the more surprising ones is Emperor Titus Mede II. Yes, he signed the White-Gold Concordat 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.
- 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 fan base that enjoys his cool voice, sheer amount of unique dialogue, snarky attitude, subtle badassery, mysterious tendency to refuse to take 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.
- Blaise, Lucia, and Sofie tend to be popular adoption choices. Blaise has a hellish life, tending horses and sleeping in a pile of hay. Lucia had a good life until her parents died, at which point her aunt and uncle threw her out for being "useless" and she was forced to live on the streets of Whiterun, where only the local beggar treats her kindly. Sofie's mother died long ago and her father never returned from the war, and she shivers on the snowy streets of Windhelm while trying to feed herself by selling flowers. Many players lament that they can only take in two of them, even though they all deserve a good home.
- J'zargo, due to his Awesome Ego, zany personality, and sheer competence in battle—he specializes in both Destruction and Heavy Armor and levels up to 81.
- Erandur for being a very interesting character who quite handily subverts the Squishy Wizard stereotype. His popularity reached the point that he got an entire forum thread on the Elder Scrolls Wiki complaining about players being unable to marry him and/or make him a Steward.
- 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, while 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, thats saying something. Ancano in particualr is extremely popular among the Pixiv community, to the point he's the only one featuring an article in Pixiv Dictionary.
- Legate Fasendil, the only Legion officer (apart from Tullius and Rikke) 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.
- Kharjo, the nice Khajiit companion, has become one mostly in the French community because of the French Let's Player Bob Lennon. He's also popular among the fans of another Let's Player, TheScatsbury, for... a different reason.
- Lisette, the bard who works at the Winking Skeever in Solitude, is popular for being an attractive NPC. To the disappointment of players, she can't be a follower or a marriage option.
- Sylgja, a miner in Shor's Stone, is surprisingly popular as far as marriage candidates go, due to being attractive and having a quest that paints her as a very sweet young woman and something of a Woobie.
- Marcurio, the mercenary mage in Riften, is one of the more popular follower options for his endlessly entertaining ego and snark, as well as being quite decent in a straight fight.