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"A walking skeleton, the basic frame of the human body, can inspire more fear in the common man than an excessively armed soldier or knight."
Jacob Deegan, Dominic Deegan
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Animate beings constructed from ossific material in their entirety are a very common form of The Undead in video games, but much rarer in other media, to the point where, as an object of fear, they have become slightly camp. They're a cousin to the Zombie in spirit, but remain explicitly separated in the public consciousness by the lack of muscles and other juicy bits. A likely explanation for their ability to see and hear and indeed their status as Perpetual Motion Monsters is a necromancer used Functional Magic to raise and operate them. Thus, this creature is firmly an inhabitant of Fantasy works. You might know them as skeletons. We call 'em "Dem Bones".

There are human, non-human, and weirder variants, and in 99% of their appearances, they're enemy Mooks. Their prevalence in RPGs is owed to Dungeons & Dragons, which established them as the slaves of necromancers. When they aren't Mooks, they're usually liches, which are much nastier, because they tend to be powerful mages. Skeletal spellcasters who are not liches are rare, but not nonexistent.

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Often enough, Dem Bones are reused in the same game à la Underground Monkey. Expect, in the spirit of a Zombie Minotaur, to find double-category monsters, like a skeletal mammoth or dragon. Many games have even tougher skeletons that are colored red. This could be because the red ones are a little more skilled and covered in the blood of hapless adventurers who couldn't best them.

A prominent variation is a being composed of just a skull without a body. In this case, their ability to attack may be a simple bite, or through magic spells. They may or may not also have the power to defy gravity to compensate for the lack of legs. As trope examples indicate, there are a noticeably greater number of friendly talking skulls compared to the rare friendly skeleton.

In video games, skeletal foes will often attack by throwing bones. One cannot help but wonder where they get dem bones from. Some versions are difficult to harm with ordinary swords or arrows, but can be dealt with using blunt weapons or magic. But be warned: many have the ability to pull themselves back together after you knock them apart.

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In Mexico, Dem Bones are called Calacas and are associated with the Day of the Dead holiday much the same way bunnies are associated with Easter, making them less common as stock spooky elements (they tend to be more comedic). It helps that said calacas are made of sugar and chocolate.

See also Skull for a Head, Calacas, and Stripped to the Bone. May or may not be prone to dancing. A unique example is The Grim Reaper, so ubiquitous it's its own trope.

Not to be confused with Bones McCoy, who has his own trope too. Also not to be confused with the Alice in Chains song "Them Bones", the rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, the Batman: Arkham Asylum Gamestop Preorder map or Bones—the series or its eponymously nicknamed protagonist. See also Bad with the Bone if bones are used as Improvised Weapons, and Ballistic Bone if they're used as Abnormal Ammo.

If the skeleton is really a robot, see Skele Bot 9000.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Horrorman and Horako from Anpanman. Horrorman's a pretty nice guy (at least, when he's on the heroes' side) and Horako's a sweet little girl...even though her imagination has a tendency to go over the top and she's actually a sea princess.
  • Berserk: In episode 2 of the Black Swordsman Arc, "The Brand", the evil spirits attracted to Guts' Brand Of Sacrifice possess the skeletal corpses of warriors who died at an old battlefield and use them to attack. The Skull Knight also appears to be an armor-wearing undead skeleton, although since he is the most powerful known being opposing the Godhand, he is actually the closest thing the series has to a Big Good.
  • Bleach: Barragan Luisenbarn turns into a skeleton dressed in a crown and robes upon releasing his zanpakuto. This is to symbolize his power over old age and decay, which lets him rot other people into skeletons. The dead kind.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, walking skeletons are a type of monster that can be found in the titular dungeon. They occur when a dead body is possessed by a wandering spirit and, because the ghost inhabiting it isn't the right one, the flesh rots off.
  • Digimon Adventure: Skullgreymon is giant, freakily shaped dinosaur's skeleton that launches fish-looking rockets from its back. Skullgreymon is one of Greymon's evolutions and it returns in Digimon Adventure 02.
  • Horohoro from Galaxy Express 999 episode "The Skeleton's Song"; after having his heart broken by the woman he was in love with, he slowly lost one part of his body every time she betrayed him until he was reduced to a living skeleton with a hole in place of his ribcage.
  • Morborgran of Mahou Sensei Negima!, the massive, Multi-Armed and Dangerous, skeletal demon member of the Canis Niger bounty hunters in the Magic World. He's actually a pretty friendly guy, though with a bit of a complex about his appearance.
  • One Piece: In the Thriller Bark arc, the Straw Hats meet Brook, who's eaten a Devil Fruit that lets him come back to life once. But due to the fog in the area he was in, he got lost on his way back to his mortal body. By the time he found it, it was nothing but bones. Although initially freaked out by his own appearance, he eventually adapted and grew a habit of making puns about it. Constantly. He also came to discover that being a skeleton has surprising advantages over being made of flesh, such as making him a lot faster and lighter. He eventually joins the crew as their musician and second swordsman.
  • In Overlord, our main character is a skeleton - a Lich, to be more exact. Well, to be even more exact, he is a regular guy permanently stuck in the body and world of his video game character, but that's beside the point.
  • Shiro from Shakugan no Shana. His true form, though, is a bishonen.
  • Used by a Faust VII in Shaman King, quite drastically - in his fight against the main character, he insisted it be held on a Western (Christian) graveyard, where the dead were not cremated, so he could use their skeletons to launch a mass attack at our protagonist. On top of it, he carried his deceased wife's skeleton under his clothes and used it as a secret weapon.
  • The title character from Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san is a skeleton. Who works at a bookstore. Nobody finds this unusual. Despite the title, more than just his face is skeletal.
  • Dokuro Skull of The World God Only Knows is this after having cast away her flesh to create New Hell.
  • Admiral Perry, the Big Bad of Space Dandy. He first appears as a flaming skull with a body composed of stars, though later episodes show that he has bony arms as well.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Ryuji Otogi used a few skeletal monsters in his Dungeon Dice Monsters game, including The 13th Grave and Dark Assailant. (Unfortunately, the card game equivalents of these cards are pretty bad.)

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Fairly common in pre-Comics Code horror, to the point where David Hajdu's The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You to Read! contains an entire essay on their usage and associated tropes. Hajdu's observation is that they typically appear to avenge their own deaths with as much poetic justice as possible.
    Unlike the zombie, skeletons are neither "natural" (staggering like a living person) nor "unnatural" (staggering despite mortal wounds), but are abstractions from a body. They are, in fact, traditional allegorical images — from the medieval memento mori. They are symbols sprung to life and strangely able to manipulate the material world. The uncanniness of the skeleton in this regard is not to be underestimated.
  • In DC's Blackest Night event, black power rings re-animate dead characters, typically making them look like slightly-decayed versions of their former selves. The body of Boston Brand, aka Deadman, however, had been dead so long that his Black Lantern version is little more than a skeleton with a black version of his costume stretched over it.
    • In some stories (most notably, Kingdom Come), Deadman's ghostly form also appears significantly more skeletal than usual.
  • Mr. Bones, a man whose body is invisible except for his skeleton, has been a recurring Infinity, Inc. villain, before his Heel–Face Turn, at which time he briefly joined Infinity Inc. Currently he's the morally grey Director of the Department of Extranormal Operations.
  • In the Alternate History of The Manhattan Projects, the Freak Lab Accident that killed physicist Harry Daghlian in our timeline instead turned him into an irradiated skeleton stuck in a radiation suit. It also wasn't an accident.
  • Mr. Crypt is a comedic example. He is a sentient skeleton who gets into various mishaps from dealing with vampires to running away from angry villagers to facing island natives.
  • Pierre Tombal: In this Black Comedy comic book about a gravedigger at his local cemetery all dead bodies are living skeletons who spent their afterlife on the cemetery and are treated as residents. Usually they spent their activities underground.
  • In Pretty Deadly, the entire story is being narrated by Bones Bunny, a skeletal bunny. In addition, Death is a skeleton (not with a human skull, but rather an animal one).
  • In Seconds, the Seconds restaurant employs some walking, talking skeletons when reality starts to break apart.
  • In one crossover, Savage Dragon and Hellboy fought the undead skeletons of pirates while inside of a giant sea monster.
  • Similarly to Mr. Bones, Tom Strong had a minor villain named Charlie Bones, a gangster with invisible flesh who was supposedly the first villain Tom fought after coming to the USA.

    Fan Works 
  • Crowns of the Kingdom has the skeletons on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which come to life and attack the heroes.
  • The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurphony Of The Night" has Empath and Smurfette dealing with an army of Smurf skeletons brought to life in order to stop them from escaping Castle Smurfenstein.
  • Key antagonists in the battle on the Plains of Death in With Strings Attached. Paul loves them because destroying them doesn't compromise his Actual Pacifism.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Cauldron Born in The Black Cauldron. In the book, they were more like zombie bodybuilders.
  • In The Book of Life, both La Muerte and the Spirits of the Dead are based on calacas, skeleton figures which are decorated on The Day of the Dead, specifically the ones made out of candy. In particular, La Muerte’s overall design in particular is inspired by the iconic La Calavera Catrina of Mexican culture.
  • Similarly, in Coco, the inhabitants of the Land of the Dead are walking, talking, clothed skeletons with colorful facial markings like those found on sugar skulls. They can detach their bones from their bodies with no ill effects and their body parts can move independently even when not attached to their bodies.
    • Lampshaded when one of the skeletons is allergic to the protagonist's Mexican Hairless Dog:
    Miguel: But he doesn't have any hair!
    Skeleton: And I don't have a nose, and yet here we are. *sneezes*
  • Corpse Bride. The inhabitants of the Underworld are either zombie-like or skeletal. Not that that makes them any less fun to hang around.
  • A Gashadokuro appears in Kubo and the Two Strings. It guards the Sword Unbreakable, which is embedded in his skull, along with dozens of regular swords. Removing it causes the Gashadokuro to fall apart.
  • The Last Unicorn: A talking, wise-cracking skeleton appears.
  • Jack Skellington, of The Nightmare Before Christmas is, well, a skeleton. He's the hero, so that's OK.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Fine Art 
  • Medieval and early Renaissance artwork often featured images of skeletons dancing with the living, known as a danse macabre or "the triumph of death". Belgian painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted a landscape with an army of skeletons attacking a country village.
  • José Guadalupe Posadas is the man who started the "calavera" trend in Mexico. What is often confused by people as Dia de los Muertos symbolism is actually a harsh social critique against the higher social classes that seem to not realize that they're going to die. Eventually this art form evolved and merged with Dia de los Muertos itself, portraying more than just rich skulls but also every Mexican out there.

    Jokes 
  • A skeleton walks into a bar and says "Give me a beer — and a mop."

    Literature 
  • A Mage's Power: There are many skeletons in the sewers beneath Roalt and they are animated by a combination of ambient mana and lingering spiritual power. Dengel suggests that they are the remains of past adventurers, and stupid people on dares. Eric has to blow them up to stop them.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy has Honorius, a powerful and murderously insane Afrit. Instead of manifesting himself in a physical form like most magical creatures, Honorius' essence is instead infused into the skeleton of the long-dead magician president Gladstone. He basically acts as a "living" security system against people trying to pilfer the mage's tomb, who open it up only to see the skeleton spring up and brutally obliterate them.
  • The hermit's ghost in "The Castle of Otranto".
  • The Osteomechs from Dark World Detective. They use advanced computers stored in their skulls and micro tractor/pressor beams as muscles. Strong as hell, but very light.
  • There's a "very old zombie" in Terry Pratchett's Discworld book The Last Hero who is basically a skeleton. Additionally, Death uses a living horse because he hates having to keep wiring the skeletal one together.
    • Not to mention, Death (and by extension, the Death of Rats) is a skeleton. Thankfully, he's a pretty nice chap.
    • And now there's Charlie, the Department of Necr- Post-Mortem Communications' resident skeleton, who's been there "forever".
    • In Reaper Man, the New Death rides a skeletal horse. After Bill Door defeats this upstart and reclaims his position as Death, Miss Flitworth decides to keep it, because any hay it "eats" just falls through its ribs to the stable floor, making it cheap to feed.
  • The Dresden Files is borderline - there's Bob the Skull, a spirit who lives inside a skull, but it is merely a casing, and Bob leaves it when he needs mobility. When a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton was reanimated in book 7 "Dead Beat"; the higher quality a reanimated being, the more life-like they appear. (broadly)
  • Sid is a walking, talking skeleton in Family Skeleton Mysteries.
  • Inverted in the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories: "Lankhmar Ghouls" are perfectly normal, living, breathing humanoids who just happen to have invisible body tissues—except for their bones.
  • One of the most infamous monsters encountered by Sun Wukong and company in Journey to the West was the White Bone Demon, a living skeleton creature who impersonates innocent humans. Wukong sees through each disguise easily thanks to his powers, but Xuanzang is fooled and eventually banishes Wukong after one too many "innocents" are killed.
  • In the first Kingdom Keepers book, one of Maleficent's tricks is bringing the fake T-Rex fossil at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to life in an attempt to do away with Finn and Philby.
  • A number of animated skeletons, including a skeletal dragon, appear in Pillars Of Pentagarn, the first D&D-based Choose Your Own Adventure book.
  • The Andre Norton novel Quag Keep, which was based on Dungeons & Dragons.
  • The Rifter: The walls at the convent of Umbhra’ibaye are strung with bones who are issusha’im: women who’ve been stripped of their flesh but kept alive, with charms carved on the bones. This somehow gives them the power to see through time, seeing multiple possible futures as well as (maddeningly) the lives that they might have lived if they hadn’t been turned into issusha’im. The Payshmura use the issusha’im’s soothsaying to avert future events that they don’t want. It’s a Fate Worse than Death, but at least it’s possible for them to take on flesh again, which is a considerable improvement, if they escape Umbhra’ibaye. Ji, a talking dog, is an issusha who took the body of a dog and is now a leader of the Fai’daum. She’s centuries old and has very powerful magic as well as soothsaying abilities. Laurie was taken partway through the issusha-making process and they used the blood of her own baby to create the enchantment. She’s now part-flesh, part-walking skeleton. Understandably mentally unstable, she’s been using those enchantments herself, but only managing to create "hungry bones", monstrosities patched together from human and animal bones which thirst for blood.
  • In the first instalment of Samhain Island it is revealed that Vanessa Vargas is a skeleton, more specifically the esteemed Santa Muerte.
  • The titular character of the Skulduggery Pleasant books is a centuries old living skeleton. The secondary protagonist, when being introduced to the supernatural for the first time, actually points out that he has no muscles to move with or lungs to speak with and asks how he works. He is rather disgruntled and gives the simple answer "it's magic". Later on, she wonders if he can whistle without lungs (he can).
  • The eponymous character of Bruce Coville's "Young Adult" novel The Skull of Truth is completely immobile, but telepathic. He's also Yorick from Hamlet. For real, yo.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel The Killing Ground, Togandais has an animated skull — with glowing eyes — bringing him books in the library.
  • The Boneys in Warm Bodies are zombie skeletons.
  • There are living skeletons in Xanth. Some are the spirits of people who starved to death while their minds were trapped in the Gourd Realm. Others are their descendants. All of them need to acquire a part of a soul to spend much time in Xanth proper.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All That had Dead Spice in the "Spice Boys" skits. He was literally just a skeleton in clothing that never did or said anything, although he does move his arms a few times and it's implied he really is alive. At one point the fans are happy when they manage to steal one of his arms.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Tabula Rasa". A spell causes the Scooby Gang to lose their memories. Anya begins to try various spells in the hopes of reversing it, at one point conjuring up a skeletal swordsman which Giles fences with, all while shouting at Anya to 'try another book'.
    • In "Gone" after Buffy reveals to her friends that she's been turned invisible, she picks up a skull and works the jaw to mimic what she's saying.
  • Pierce hallucinates these during a Mushroom Samba in the Community episode "Introduction to Statistics".
    Pierce: "Those floating Mexican skeletons are right! My life is over!"
    Jeff: "Well, when we go to floating skeletons with our problems, we get what we pay for, don't we?"
  • In the fourth season finale of Game of Thrones, The Children, the Wights that attack Bran & his party beyond the Wall have only their bones left.
  • The Goodies. In one episode the Goodies are operating their own hospital. Graham gets a patient to step behind an X-Ray screen, which naturally displays his skeleton. The skeleton then walks out from the other side of the screen, causing Graham to flee in terror (this scene is included in Title Sequence).
  • In Living Color!. Jim Carrey riffs how the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series are getting too old for the movies. Captain Kirk calls for Bones to come to the bridge, only to find he really lives up to his name this time.
    Skeleton in a wheelchair: Dammit Jim, I'm a corpse not a doctor!
  • One of Jeff Dunham's more popular characters is Achmed the Dead Terrorist, an incompetent terrorist who was blown up by his own bomb. This reduced him to little more than a cranky, complaining skeleton, with his only surviving human features being angry yellow eyes, Big Ol' Eyebrows, a scraggly goatee, and a disheveled turban.
  • For Halloween in 2006, Late Night with Conan O'Brien broadcast an already-aired episode in 'skelevision', with Conan, the band, the guests and the audience all appearing as skeletons operated by puppeteers.
  • In the Merlin episode "The Tears of Uther Pendragon", Morgana raises skeleton warriors to fight Arthur and the Knights of Camelot, who are already in battle against (human) invading forces.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Season 1 gives us Bones, who was the first monster the Rangers fought. Season 3 gives us Rita Repulsa's halfwit brother Rito Revoltonote , who's based on Gasha Dokuro from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, who's in turn based on an actual creature in Japanese folklore described in the Mythology and Religion folder.
  • Bonapart the skeleton from Owl/TV.
  • In the episode "Hollywood Babylon" of Supernatural, the monster for the horror movie being filmed is a skeleton in a suit holding a fraternity paddle surrounded by a chainsaw blade.
  • Zelda from the original Svengoolie and Zalman T. Tombstone in Son of Svengoolie. Both are floating skulls. Zelda had '80s Hair (despite being from the early 1970s).
  • One episode of Ultraman had a Monster of the Week named Seabozu, a skeletal dinosaur-like creature that accidentally ended up on Earth when a rocket passing through the Monster Graveyard brought it back. Unlike most, it was completely harmless as it only sought to return to its grave and eternal rest, so Science Patrol had to help it get back into space.
    • Return of Ultraman had Stegon, the animated skeleton of a sauropod-like kaiju from the Mesozoic that went on a rampage after its grave was disturbed by construction workers.
    • Mudon from Ultraman Cosmos was an animated dinosaur skeleton that sought to reunite with its lost child after millions of years of separation.

    Music 
  • Alice in Chains's song "Them Bones".
  • The song "Spooky Scary Skeletons" by Andrew Gold, best known for its association with the "2spooky" meme, is about how the eponymous skeletons will torment you. The song is a very good example of the erosion of the skeleton as a source of horror.
  • Camille Saint Saens' well-known Danse Macabre (1874), a symphonic poem describing skeletons rising from their tomb to dance. Notable for having introduced the xylophone in European Music, to imitate the rattling of the bones.
  • The children's song "Ghost of John" describes the titular ghost as a skeleton: "Long white bones with the skin all gone."
  • Chiodos' Bone Palace Ballet (and the subsequent re-release The Grand Coda) features two of these on the cover.
  • The Trope Namer is the spiritual song "Dem Bones."
  • Let's not forget Creature Feature's song in American Gothic called 'Dem Bones' - no, it is not a joke.
  • "Bones" by The Killers.
  • Megadeth's mascot Vic Rattlehead is a skeleton who sees no evil (blindfolded), hears no evil (ears are closed with metal caps) and speaks no evil (mouth clamped shut).
  • Pet Sematary by The Ramones mentions dancing skeletons and rattling bones as some of the many graveyard horrors the singer wishes to avoid becoming.
  • One interpretation of "Where Your Eyes Don't Go" by They Might Be Giants is that it refers to your skeleton.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible had the story of Ezekiel and the Valley of the Dry Bones that came to life and inspired the Trope Namer "Dry Bones"/"Dem Bones" song. The trope-naming song is based on a Biblical incident involving Ezekiel, who was told by God to create an army of these things with a prophecy. The Bible is surprisingly metal, in places. It should be noted that the bones are immediately given flesh and souls during their resurrections, instead of being a literal skeleton army like those created by Ray Harryhausen.
  • The Gashadokuro from Japanese Mythology is a super sized version of this. This monster is created from collecting the skeletons of people who have died en masse without getting a proper burial (usually from famine, disease, or warfare). It is known to bite the heads off humans it encounters and to be forewarned of by a ringing in the ears. They often grow up to 15 times larger than a man.
    • The Hone-onnanote  creates a look of a beautiful woman, based on how she looked when she was alive, to get close to her chosen lover and drain him of life so they can be together forever. The problem is it only works on him and everyone else sees a man flirting and caressing a rotting corpse.
    • Another skeleton youkai is the Kyokotsu, a spectral skeleton formed from the spirits of those whose remains were simply thrown into wells instead of receiving a proper burial or committed suicide by throwing themselves into a well. They like to leap out of wells to scare people or place curses on them.
    • The Bakekujira is the animated skeleton of a whale feared as a harbinger of disaster for coastal villages, forever seeking vengeance against the humans that killed it.
  • The Pakahk from Cree mythology, similar to the Gashadokuro, are the animate bones of people who died from starvation. They have a chilling cackle, but sometimes they will help people with healing or hunting.
  • The Pauguk from Ojibway mythology, is a phantom with a skeletal appearance and eye sockets filled with balls of fire. It hunts people, often warriors, with invisible arrows or clubs.

    Operas and Musicals 
  • In The Black Parade, the eponymous parade contains some of these among their number.

    Pinball 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: A variety of skeletons exist, displaying different levels of power and intelligence. They're usually the result of spellcasters using necromancy, but a few have been known to spontaneously awaken in places of evil. Usually. Of course, there are also liches and their variants (archlich, baelnorn, banelich, master lich).
    • Taken Up to Eleven by the dracolich (also being the Trope Namer of Dracolich), an undead evil dragon that has combines the powers of a dragon and a lich. While their description does not specifically say they have to be skeletal, most are depicted as such.
    • While most Dungeons & Dragons settings are full of undead, Forgotten Realms are especially fond of this theme and has the remarkable collection of unusual bones. For example, there lived—until she tried to raid a big temple of the god of wizardry, that is—Tashara of the Seven Skulls who seduced and tricked into becoming spellcasting flying skulls (under her control) 7 archmages, one after another. There's even one city openly ruled by floating skulls (no, not Tashara's seven). Realms also are the origin of both baelnorn and banelich.
    • The Eberron setting's "evil, schmevil" attitude (the setting subverts the Always Chaotic Evil trope hard) means that a nation like Karrnath can have a significant portion of their army composed entirely of skeletons, and nobody thinks any differently about them because of it.
    • Apart from the lich, D&D featured many other skeletal sentient undead, like the Death Knight (skeletal warrior), the Huecuva (skeletal divine spellcaster), or skeletal Ancient Dead (variant of the Mummy from the Ravenloft setting).
    • It should also be noted that, in 3rd edition anyway, just about anything with bones that isn't already dead can be turned into Dem Bones through application of the Skeleton template. This includes everything from normal humanoids, to dragons, to bizarre aberrations with bone structures such have never been seen by mortal eyes.
  • Kings of War uses skeletons in much the same role, in much the same army, alongside the slightly less expendable, slightly better-dressed skeletons known as Revenants.
  • Mage: The Awakening has these as a variation on the standard Animate Dead spell. The corpse's connective tissue and some of its flesh is transmuted into razor-edged metal plated around the bones (giving it damage resistance and a better attack) and it rips its way out of the rest of the flesh. It was invented by a member of a Black Metal band whose bandmates promptly declared the spell to be metal as hell.
    • The Planescape setting has "mimirs"; recording devices shaped like metallic skulls. The inspiration for Morte, below.
  • Rattle Me Bones, a game where you must remove accessories from a pirate's skeleton in a way that doesn't move its limbs too much, otherwise he'll RATTLE AND SHAKE!
    • The original Ravenloft products had a number of variants of this trope, such as archer skeletons whose ammo turns into more skeletons, or giant skeletons (enlarged human bones) that toss fireballs from the green flames ablaze inside their ribcages. Arthaus's Van Richten's Guide to the Walking Dead has guidelines for customizing the Obedient Dead with all sorts of creepy abilities.
    • The Demilich is a lich who had decided to leave his/her phylactery and use astral projection to learn from other realms. All that's left is a weathered skull or skeletal hand that skill can dish out a world of hurt by sucking the souls of anyone who bothers them or summoning Demiliches, six inch tall/long magic roaches with Skull for a Head. By the thousands.
  • Skeletons are the basic grunt troops of the undead armies in the wargame/Tabletop RPG Warhammer; serving the factions of Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings.
    • To specify. The Vampire Counts use Dem Bones as expendable meat(bone?)shields, and that would be about it. The Tomb Kings are an army of nothing but skeletons, with some mummies, animated statues and ancient, immortal priests to taste.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Floating servo-skulls — although they're robotic rather than undead.
    • Not to mention the Necrons. No really, don't mention them, they aren't this trope. They are robots shaped like skeletons that function as Soul Jars for an ancient alien race.
  • In Dragon Dice, skeletons are one of the basic undead troop types - they move faster than zombies, but do less damage and are less capable of absorbing damage.
  • Skeletons serve as mooks in Mazes And Minotaurs.

    Theme Parks 
  • These are seen in several of these at attractions in Disney Theme Parks, including in Phantom Manor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones Adventure, and The Great Movie Ride. More cheerful versions are in the Mexico pavilion at EPCOT.
    • The skeletons in the original Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland were real (arguably adding to their creepiness if you knew this), as replica skeletons at the time were not advanced enough to look realistic and old. They were obtained from a medical center and later received burials, with replicas taking their place in the ride.

    Toys 
  • LEGO features skeleton minifigures in various series, primarily in LEGO Castle, LEGO The Lord of the Rings and Ninjago.
  • Pose Skeleton created by Re-Ment is a series of miniature skeletons along with various accessories, they're far smaller than Revolectech Skeletons, however they're as flexible as the latter, capable of wielding LEGO weapons and they're so lightweighted that they can be lifted by Figma at ease.
  • Revoltech once made the action figures of Skeleton Warrior from Jason and the Argonauts, the Revoltect joints on them are perfect for making stop motion movie, exactly what Ray Harryhausen made. It Makes Sense in Context, certainly.
    • Speaking of Revoltech, the Takeya series also has Japanese skeleton and its brother, Skeleton Samurai.
  • Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. note  series created by Boss Fight Studio features several skeletons warrior figures with Greek motif.

    Video Games 
  • In freeware A Blurred Line, choosing a career as an Actor in Paradise will result in you facing some Undead enemies in the abandoned theatre near it, which includes a Risen Dead skeleton with a sword and a shield and a Skeletal Warrior with two scimitars.
    • Then, there are the traditional skeletons in the dungeons within Eisen’s simulation.
  • In Abyss Odyssey, skeletons and zombies are some of the most numerous manifestations of the Warlock's dreams that are invading reality from the Abyss. The playable Ghost Monk is a manifestation of all the Chilean soldiers that have died in the Abyss, and takes on the form of a jumble of glowing red bones surrounded by shadow and a hooded cloak.
  • ADOM's Necromancy skill lets you raise humanoid corpses as skeletons. Only Necromancers will have high enough skill/stats to make the more powerful skeleton kings. Otherwise, skeletons are common mooks.
  • Most undead in AdventureQuest, AdventureQuest Worlds and DragonFable are of this kind.
  • In The Adventures of Lomax, haunted ship levels have skeletons as enemies.
  • Age of Wonders has these as the bulk troops of the Undead faction, including the subtypes like skeleton archers.
  • In A Hint Of A Tint, it turns that Jezebel's Knights are this. They were the human males who would have died from thirst in that world, but were turned by Jezebel into fellow Vampires, preventing them from dying outright, but still subjecting them to dessication, which they hide underneath their suits of armor.
  • These are a unit type in Ancient Empires. They wield maces and have the same stats as a normal soldier. They can't be bought like other units: instead, they're raised from a gravestone by a Wizard (Sorceress in the sequel) - gravestones are structures that are left by dead units and are consumed once a skeleton is raised from them. They take extra damage from the attacks of Wisps. Though not particularly powerful, they can be produced in large numbers and are useful for missions where you don't have a castle to buy units from.
  • Both A Nightmare on Elm Street (PC) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (NES) feature living skeletons as minor enemies.
  • A rare heroic example: the Guitar Guy from The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is just a skeleton, a nod to his death in the original series.
  • Arena.Xlsm, made in Microsoft Excel, has several types of these. For instance, Skeleton Warrior is just a boring level 10-12 melee-only enemy: while it deals doubled melee damage, shooting it before it ever gets there is not too difficult. The Skeleton Archer is far more powerful, with about 345 health and the attack range of 5 squares, only somewhat compensated by its vulnerability to melee attacks. The Skeleton Mages are one of the worst enemies in the game, attacking both in melee and at range, while being invulnerable to all ranged attacks and melee''' attacks.
  • Sword-wielding skeletons are all over the place in Astyanax. One even shows up as a mini-boss to end a level.
  • Baldur's Gate had enemy skeletons, but you could also summon your own with the proper spell, much like the aforementioned Diablo II.
    • The sequel, Baldur's Gate II, especially with Throne of Bhaal, features several floating skulls, which are infinitely more nasty than their full-bodied counterparts.
    • Even in the original, common skeletons cease to be a serious threat after level 3 or so. But near the end, the game starts throwing the much nastier skeleton warriors at you, and one of the bonus bosses in the expansion is a death knight.
  • The Limbos in Banjo-Kazooie. They'll get right back up after a few seconds, and the only way to kill them for good is with Wonderwing.
    • Gruntilda in Banjo-Tooie is one, due to spending two years trapped under a rock after the end of the first game.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum, of all games, features these during bouts with Scarecrow while under the influence of his fear toxin, though they're actually regular Mooks. There's also a Challenge Map named this, featuring exclusively this type of enemy.
  • Battle Brothers has the Ancient Dead, which are the dead legions of the Roman Empire Expy that used to rule most of the known world, before it expanded too far and its nobles discovered the necromantic traditions of the southern cults, and preferred to preserve themselves as vampires in charge of skeleton legions over preserving the empire itself. All of these skeletons might have low actual health, but they also suffer no bleed damage, no bonus damage from head strikes, only 20% ranged damage and 50% piercing damage (since arrows rely on bleeding and organ damage to kill, which is irrelevant to them.) Like with real-life Legions, their weakest variety are lightly armed and armored Ancient Auxiliaries, most fighting is done by the proper legionaries, while Honor Guard are rare, but highly skilled and fully encased in the toughest armor.
    • There are also the Ancient Priests, who can break the Morale of your mercenaries with "Horrify" spell, and cast area-of-effect Miasma.
  • Two of the major Undead faction unit types in Battle for Wesnoth are skeletons, one with an axe and the other with a bow. They have very high resists to Pierce, Cold, and Blade damage types, but are very vulnerable to Impact, Fire, and Arcane damage. They can also move through and hide in deep water, and being Undead, are immune to poison and plague attacks. Combat with the Undead typically requires a lopsided unit selection to combat these. They usually serve as basic troops and as bodyguards to Glass Cannon Dark Adepts in multiplayer, and are typically spammed by the AI in campaigns. Also, the high-level Lich unit, one of the levelled-up forms of the aforementioned Dark Adept, is skeletal and loses its old human characteristics in exchange for skeleton characteristics.
  • In The Binding of Isaac, Bonies are skeletons that fire a bone projectile when you get in line with them. Since their projectiles move so fast and you have to get in line with them to attack them, they're pretty bad Demonic Spiders even for this game. They also have a blackvariant which fires three shots and explodes on death
  • Bloodborne features Darkbeast Paarl, who is an electric wolf skeleton the size of a bus.
  • In Breath of Death VII, the main character is a skeleton named Dem.
  • The Castlevania series is an obligatory mention here - there are dozens of varieties in each game, including a lot of simple Underground Monkey recolors. The red ones keep getting back up.
    • Don't forget the laser-firing skeletons, the armor-wearing blade Masters, and the amusing skeletons called Yoricks in Aria of Sorrow that kick their skulls at you. There's even a medal-wearing champion runner Skeleton in Circle of the Moon, the Skeleton Bartender who tosses drinks at you in Protrait of Ruin, the Farmer Skeleton, the Waiter Skeleton, the Rider Kicking Skeleton, and the Ape skeleton introduced in Rondo of Blood that throws barrels at you.
    • Castlevania 64 has Biker Skeletons (in 1800). There's also a giant skeleton as a boss.
    • The multiplayer mode in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair has a feature that activates when a player character's HP goes to zero: they turn into a standard bone-flinging skeleton, and they must be given a specific item for them to be able to turn back to normal. A death as a skeleton causes penalties on the level's time limit.
  • Non-human: Cave Story has hopping sandcroc skulls, sandcroc skulls with feet, sandcroc skulls carried by birds, and full sandcroc skeletons.
  • Chantelise: There are sword wielding skeletons that can only be defeated by magical attacks.
  • Various skeletons are a frequent enemy in Chasm. There's even a skeleton boss, King Trell, whose lack of lungs doesn't stop him from blowing into a horn to raise skeleton archers out of the ground.
  • In Chrono Cross, one of the early Loads and Loads of Characters you can meet is the disembodied skull of a clown looking for the rest of his body parts. Naturally, he asks you to help him find them all. He appears to have been getting around until then by hopping with his jaw. Later, you get to meet his family, who has been wondering what happened to him.
  • Clash of Clans has a few skeletal troopers.
    • Wall Breakers are bomb-toting skeletons that blow up walls (and themselves) to make an opening for troops. They have low health, so it's best to lay down sturdier troops to cover them.
    • Balloons are bomb-toting skeletons in hot air balloons that drop bombs on defenses. They're slow at attacking, but only anti-air defenses can hit them.
    • Witches can create an army of skeleton warriors to raid forts.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island had the fearsome Murray, the demonic animated skeleton with plans to conquer the world, who would have been significantly more fearsome if he wasn't just a skull and unable to move around by himself. Still, with lines like this, it's no wonder "Murray the Mighty Demonic Skull" is so popular:
    Murray: I'm a powerful demonic force! I'm the harbinger of your doom! And the forces of darkness will applaud me as I stride through the gates of hell carrying your head on a pike!
    Guybrush: Stride?
    Murray: All right then, roll! Roll through the gates of hell. Must you take the fun out of everything?
  • in Darkest Dungeon, the Ancestor's early experiments with the forbidden knowledge involved resurrecting some old skeletons in the Manor himself. Soon, however, he invited the best Necromancers in the world to the Manor, learned everything he could from them, and then slit their throats at night, before resurrecting them as conscious and capable slaves to his will, who would raise and re-raise all the other skeletons for him, forming the so-called Bone Army populating the Ruins by the time the game proper begins.
    • Since Ruins is the first area you get access to, members of the Bone Army are typically the least challenging to fight. They are the only faction whose melee damage dealer archetype, Bone Soldier/Veteran/Sergeant, has a weaker version occasionally mixed in, called Bone Rabble/Conscript/Militia. Similarly, both Bone Soldiers and their ranged counterpart Arbalists focus entirely on straight-up damage. While Bone Defenders and Bone Captain can at least stun your party members, the entire faction has no-one able to inflict Damage Over Time status effects. Though, they themselves are immune to bleed, for obvious reasons, but are the most vulnerable to blight, which easily degrades their bones.
    • The Bone Courtier is especially popular with fandom, due to being able to inflict stress damage by throwing old wine on your heroes. It's implied that seeing what was once an incredibly wealthy and prominent man reduced to this mockery of his past revelries confronts the party members with their own mortality, while the Scratch Damage from the attack is due to the wine having long ago devolved into acidic vinegar.
  • Dark Souls I features several regular human skeletons wielding swords and shields, as well as skeletons that are intertwined with spiked carriage wheels that will run you down at any opportunity. The Tomb of the Giants also features massive quadruped but vaguely humanoid skeletons, and Gravelord Nito is a skeleton made of other skeletons and wielding a sword made from them. There's also the Darkwraiths, whose armor bears a skeletal motif, they also comes with a skull mask, which its item description implies that it's fused with their skins.
    • Dark Souls II sees the return of the sword-and-board and Bonewheel skeletons, as well as a trio of bosses called the Skeleton Lords. True to their title, they sit on thrones made of bones and wield weapons made of them, and upon death they summon a bunch of skeletons of various types. There's also a variety of skeleton that won't die until you kill the necromancer that is reviving them.
    • Dark Souls III brings back the bones one last time and manages to one-up every skeleton in the series to this point by giving us High Lord Wolnir, a skeleton king roughly five stories tall with a skull the size of a modest apartment and the ability to summon smaller skeletons to distract you (although he's just as likely to wipe them out with his massive swings as you are with a sword).
  • In the TurboGrafx-16 Shoot 'em Up Dead Moon, many of the bosses resemble giant skeletal animals, and the Final Boss is the head, torso and Floating Limbs of a giant humanoid skeleton.
  • Devil May Cry has floating skulls as enemies.
  • Diablo II, of course, with both enemy and summonable skeletons.
    • The original and sequel both have skellies as foes, but you couldn't summon any in the original. The original also have an unique enemy called Leoric the Skeleton King, basically a skeleton with a hugeass sword and a crown in his head, which can be encountered in the game or skipped out depending on how the game started. He proves popular enough that Blizzard expanded and fleshed out his backstory from merely 'king fallen into madness' into some sort of tragic figure (while still a mad king) linked with one of the original heroes. He also becomes the model of a hero in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars until he changed into Wraith King (see below for more), and he also returns for a first stage mandatory boss fight for the third game, switching his huge sword to a huge mace, and then he carried his last appearance in Heroes of the Storm
      • The summonables are quite strange, in that you can assemble a (human) Skeleton from the corpse of any monster, up to and including giant spiders, pygmies, ghosts, small rat-like creatures, swarms of locusts and other skeletons. The latter wouldn't be so bad if the process did not involve Ludicrous Gibs.
    • The Diablo III information states that the undead are not from a single corpse. Instead, they essentially turn a corpse into bone powder and reconfigure it into a skeleton. When you raise any skeleton, it's really like you're raising a thousand tenths of a percent of a thousand different skeletons and sticking them together.
  • Distorted Travesty 3 offers these in their RPG segment.
  • Divine Divinity: while there are several kinds of skeletons around, the trope is lampshaded early in the game: two philosophic skeletons are having a debate about their existence. They notice that they think without a brain, move without muscles... and that they don't have any joints to keep them together. Then they fall apart.
  • Doom has the Lost Souls, which are floating flaming skulls.
    • Doom II adds the Revenants, which are giant skeletons wearing metal chest armor and shoulder-mounted missile launchers, and the Arch-Viles, which clearly have a layer of skin but are otherwise very reminiscent of a walking skeleton.
    • The Doom 3 Expansion Pack Resurrection of Evil has the Forgotten Ones, which are floating flaming skulls similar to the aforementioned Lost Souls.
    • DOOM again features Lost Souls, as well as the new Revenants, which now possess jet packs in addition to their shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.
  • In Dota 2, before reviving as the Wraith King due to pressing ceremonial reasons, Ostarion (previously Leoric) was once the Skeleton King, the manliest hero in the game who does not have testicles, and a hard-to kill hero with a penchant for dreadful puns. There's also Clinkz the Bone Fletcher, a master archer who was accidentally cursed to become a perpetually burning (and thus perpetually in pain) skeleton, and Pugna, a psychopathic skeletal mage who preys on other mages.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins they are an enemy type encountered in places where the Veil is thin, be it the ancient elven burial grounds, or the revisited Ostagar battlefield in the DLC. Like the other undead in the game, they are corpses possessed by minor demons who have mistaken them for a living human. This is a terrible mistake, because dead bodies lack any living energy to sustain them, and demons cannot leave the body they have already possessed on their own. It's even implied that a demon dies for good once the undead does, whereas demons who possessed living abominations (including animals or trees, forming creatures like werewolves and sylvans) can still use the remainder of host's lifeforce to eject themselves back to the Fade. Thus, demons possessing skeletons are driven insane, spending their time in slumber to conserve their energy, until someone living comes up and they try to kill it.
    • Unlike the zombies, which are always recently possessed, and so the demon inside still has enough power to cast basic buffs (rage demon)/ debuffs (hunger/sloth demon), the skeletons lack the magical power to do anything but attack in melee or at range with whichever weapons their hosts used to have in life. However, they compensate for that through using that weapon's class abilities - whether learning them on their own, or somehow assessing that from the host's (muscle?) memory.
      • The one exception are Arcane Horrors and Revenants, which is what happens when the elite desire and pride demons still manage to make the terrible mistake of possessing a dead body. The former have possessed dead mages, and can deploy the most powerful spells in the game. The latter possessed sword-and-shield warriors, and their only power is the ability to instantly pull their attackers to them from great distances...and the extreme health and damage output.
  • Dragon's Wake has numerous skeletal enemies, including the final boss.
  • Also a nice supplemental unit in Dungeon Keeper II, acquired by letting your POWs rot in jail. The cutscenes featuring skeletons reveal them to have retained their ligments so as not to fall apart, as well as a single eye. They also tend to have dreadlocks.
    • Found in the first Dungeon Keeper too, acquired in the same way. No eyes or ligaments were visible on those skeletons, but then again, the graphics of the nineties didn't allow for such levels of detail.
  • Dem Bones appear as mooks in Dungeon Siege.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has skeletons as common low-level enemies in pretty much every game. They can use weapons, probably as an homage to Harryhausen. Plenty of variants exist:
    • Morrowind:
      • Bonelords are tall, four-armed, humanoid skeletons draped in brown robes who 75% resistant to all forms of magic other than fire. They also tend to cast a barrier spell as soon as they've been aggro'd which makes them resistant to melee damage as well.
      • Tribunal adds Liches, who are powerful spell-slinging skeletons in dark brown robes. They're complete resistant to frost and poison damage, and 50% resistant to shock damage. Like Bonelords, fire can still ruin their day.
      • Bloodmoon brings Bonewolves, who are partially decayed undead wolves who Downplay it by still being rather fleshy.
    • Besides the leveled Skeleton variants, Oblivion also has Dark Guardians, which serve the Dark Brotherhood. They're tougher than normal skeletons, but their main distinguishing feature is the hoods they wear. Shivering Isles has Shambles, which are made of the bones of a bunch of different creatures held together by leather straps.
    • Skyrim's skeletons appear in various necromancer hideouts and Draugr crypts, though they're pretty pathetic overall, save for the really tough ones.
      • A skeletal dragon appears as an encounter during the College of Winterhold questline during the quest "The Staff of Magnus." It's stupidly weak to magic (100% weakness) and flightless, so using flame spells should get rid of it easily.
      • Dawnguard has a few tougher skeleton variants, such as ones dressed in Ancient Nordic armor or others that resemble the Dark Guardians from Oblivion called Corrupted Shades. The main quest of the expansion also involves a trip to the Soul Cairn, home of the Bonemen, Mistmen and Wrathmen. You can learn to summon all three if you find the spell tomes lying around.
      • In the quest "The Break of Dawn" for the Daedric Prince of Life Meridia, the Dragonborn must clear her temple of Corrupted Shades, the ghostly skeletons of Stormcloaks and Imperial soldiers, commanded by the evil necromancer Malkoran (who himself turns into one after he dies). Being skeletons, the Unrelenting Force shout merely stuns them and they pack a serious punch, especially to the unprepared.
  • Fernando from the Source Engine mod Elevator: Source who stands at the back of the elevator until he gets dragged off by a giant hand and later returns as an Asian man.
  • In EverQuest they are everywhere - crawling out of the woodwork, wandering around in the woods, hanging out under the water waiting to grab your ankles as you swim by. Necromancers can even have them as pets. Heck, there's even a skeletal band in Paineel.
  • Evil Islands: The skeletons from the Dead City.
  • Exit Fate has Derek, a 200-year old skeleton knight who joins your army after you've aided a (friendly) necromancer in raising him. He's pretty jovial about it. He's also australian for some reason.
  • The DLC "Old World Blues" of Fallout: New Vegas provides us with the Trauma Override Harness automated suits, which were designed to evacuate wounded soldiers from the battlefield by taking over their motor functions; however due to several malfunctions, they end up wrecking havoc and killing anything on sight while still carrying inside the long-dead skeletons of their previous users, which were trapped in them.
  • The second and eighth Fire Emblem games are unusual among their franchise in that they have monsters for enemies, including weapon-wielding skeletons.
  • The Final Fantasy Legend/SaGa'' games feature families of skeletal monsters, which all dress as pirates for some reason. They mostly appear as enemies, but can also be recruited into your party, or existing monsters in your party can transform into them.
  • In Fran Bow, you get to meet a suave, top hat-wearing skeleton called Itward who has befriended many of the children from Oswald Asylum, has demonstrated he can easily travel around the Ultrareality, and is implied to be powerful enough to kick Remor's ass out of the Third Reality when the demon was trying to prevent Fran from leaving the asylum. Itward is a lovable guy who becomes a Big Damn Hero to Fran twice over the course of the game.
  • Some of the Bonus content in God of War talked about how they wanted to put Dem Bones in the first game, in direct homage to Ray Harryhausen. Naturally, they appeared in the sequel, and first show up when you catch up to Jason and the Argonauts.
  • The original Golden Axe has an army of skeleton swordsmen. The first one appears as the boss of the second stage and the rest are elite mooks. Golden Axe II also had skeleton warriors, while Golden Axe III has the Dead Frames, which are the reanimated skeletons of reptilian humanoids.
  • Gothic has skeleton enemies wielding various weapons. Unlike many other games, these skeletons aren't pushovers—they're really dangerous swordfighters. There are also legless, floating skeleton mages. Gothic 2 adds weak goblin skeletons (who are nevertheless more dangerous than living goblins), skeleton shadowbeasts (the ordinary shadowbeast is already a very dangerous predator; these necromantic versions are even more threatening) and armor-wearing shadow warriors, who are pretty much mini-bosses.
  • The most common enemy from Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
  • Graveyard Shift 2: Skelly's Revenge has you playing as a milk-chugging, child-flinging, bugle-dooting skeleton. Yes, really. It is very much "Skeleton Memes: The Game."
  • In keeping with its El Día de los Muertos theme, nearly all of the characters in Grim Fandango are skeletons. The rest are demons native to the Land of the Dead.
    • Technically they're calacas (see above), which accounts for their stylization.
    • The question of motor skills is lampshaded in Manny's conversation with a short-tempered clown:
      Manny: Some festival, huh?
      Balloon Guy: Yeah, my carpal tunnel syndrome's really acting up...
      Manny: But you don't have any tendons!
      Balloon Guy: Well you don't have a tongue, but that doesn't seem to shut you up, now does it?
  • Skeletal undead are seen in both the original Guild Wars campaign and the third campaign, Nightfall. However, they are still garbed in the armor or clothes they wore in life, which can add or subtract from their horror.
  • Skeletons show up throughout the Heroes of Might and Magic series as the standard melee grunt for The Undead Necropolis faction, in normal and armored varieties. Heroes of Might and Magic III had a unique death animation for them, whereas they collapse on the ground, while their sword sticks in the ground with its handle straight up, just like a cross on a normal grave.
    • Meanwhile, the traditional top tier Necropolis unit is a skeleton dragon. Like most undeads, they tend to be weaker than their live version but come in greater numbers.
    • And of course, many of the Necropolis battlefield commanders are skeletons themselves.
  • Skeletons appear among the enemies in Hype The Time Quest. Similarly to the Dry Bones from the Mario franchise, they collapse into a pile of bones when defeated, only to get back up a little while later.
  • In Insaniquarium, Bilaterus is a skeletal alien consisting of two heads connected by four spines. There is also Vert the Skeleton, a pet that drops golden coins for the player to collect.
  • The Bonefish and Skelterwild dream eaters in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance are skeletal variants of the Fin Fatale and Tyrant Rex dream eaters. The latter can be very troublesome to deal with due to the fact that its head detaches after it receives a solid hit and start attacking independently of its body.
  • In Killer Instinct, a animated skeleton named Spinal who has a quirk: to perform certain moves, he must gather energy—represented by tokens shaped like skulls under his life bar (SNES version) or skulls floating around him (arcade and gold versions)—by absorbing opponents' projectile-energy attacks (with his shield in absorbing position) or performing combo breakers. Despite requiring these tokens, his special moves are no stronger than normal special attacks. Spinal can store up to five skull tokens, overloading if he tries to absorb energy for the sixth time. On the sixth attempt he will not block the projectile, and it will cause normal damage and knockdown; he will then be left with one remaining skull. Spinal has two No Mercy moves: one where he repeatedly stabs the enemy with a spike on his shield and another where he summons ghostly, skeletal hands to drag his opponent underground (in the SNES version, the latter became his summoning a bolt of lightning to strike his opponent).
    • Spinal was originally notable for being perhaps the only animate skeleton in fiction that is the product of science, not magic. However, it seems that the creators later figured out that movement without muscles is scientifically ridiculous and retconned his backstory to involve magic.
    • Spinal is also one of the Trope Codifiers for the high-pitched cackle a lot of skeleton characters are given when they are voiced, alongside the likes of Skeletor.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has pet skeletons, misspelled skleletons, Spooky Pirate Skeletons, Misshapen Animal Skeletons... The list goes on. The introduction of the Angry Jung Man familiar and his psychoanalytic jars introduced a whole tower full of procedurally-generated skeletons which apparently exists in the mind of KoL creator Jick.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: The skeleton guards in the Dimension of Death.
  • La-Mulana is littered with the skeletons of many an Adventurer Archaeologist who failed to solve the puzzle of the ruins. Some hold helpful notes and items. Others get up and beat the crap out of you.
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain: Animated skeletons are encountered. Some of them walk in a fixed route and explode on contact with you. Others can pull themselves together and need to be destroyed more thoroughly.
  • The Legend of Zelda series has both the floating skulls - Bubbles - and skeleton swordsmen - Stalfos - as common monsters. The dungeon boss Stallord from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a gigantic, non-human example.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time had endlessly spawning Stalchildren that appeared in Hyrule Field at night, which grew larger the more of them you defeated.
    • Played with in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, which featured skeleton pirates who were good guys.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks had the boss Skeldrich, which was basically a giant humanoid skull with an absurdly long neck.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword gives us Staldra - three-headed reptilian monstrosities from a bygone age whose heads must be destroyed simultaneously - and the Stalmaster - a four-armed and fully equipped Stalfos - in addition to regular Stalfos. The latter two do not screw around.
    • Interestingly, Stalfos show up in practically every Zelda game, except for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, although you do fight skeleton solider mini-bosses that are practically Stalfos in all but name.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, skeletal versions of Bokoblins, Moblins, and Lizalfos can pop out of the ground at random much like the Stalchildren from Ocarina of Time, while the Stalnox, a skeletal Hinox, can be found as a boss monster. There's also the Stalhorse, which you can ride at night but which disintegrates like the other Stal creatures at sunrise.
  • In Light Crusader, the only way you can kill this type of enemy is the "Turn Undead" spell or kill the wizard controlling them.
  • Mabinogi features no less than 39 variants of the humanoid variety throughout Rabbie, Rundal, and Albey Dungeons, with 6 varieties of Skeleton Wolves for good measure.
  • The Magicka series features loose enough magic that a combination of lightning, death, cold, and rock will produce six humanoid skeletons wielding swords and ready to kill on your behalf. They're even healed by arcane death beams!
  • Magic Rampage: Skeletons makes an appearance. Later in the game, they wield magic.
  • One of the customers of the Alice Shop in The Maid Of Fairewell Heights is a Skeleton Soldier.
  • In the 1990s PC fantasy kingdom sim Majesty, your Priestesses of the Death Goddess Krypta had the ability to re-animate skeletons for use as partners in combat; walking skeletons were sometimes also used as enemy monsters.
  • Freeware game Master of the Wind has skeletons wandering around the setting due to necromancers. Unusually some of these skeletons are sapient and just want to live in peace, something made rather difficult by overzealous clerics trying to grant them eternal rest. Shroud's partner Stoic is one of these.
  • MediEvil gives us Sir Daniel Fortesque. A cowardly knight who died in the first hail of arrows, he's now been reanimated to take on Zarok. And he's the good guy! Although he got hit in the eye and killed, and is effectively a cyclops and has had his jaw decompose so he can't communicate without subtitles, he's still one tough cookie.
  • Floating skulls are also in some of the Might and Magic games.
  • Skeletons appear among the many, many enemies in Miitopia. Thieves can also by a skeleton suit, which invokes this trope.
  • Minecraft: Skeletons were one of the first mobs added to the game alongside zombies, and come in a number of variants. The basic skeleton comes equipped with a bow and can fire arrows, and is in fact programmed to move away from you when you get too close (instead of rushing you like other monsters do) to make best use of its ranged attacks. Like zombies, they can spawn wearing armor, which will improve their defense and can drop for you to use when they die, and catch fire and burn to death in the sunlight unless they’re wearing a helmet. Specific variants include:
    • Spider jockeys are a rare variant that spawns riding a giant spider. They can be quite dangerous, combining the skeleton’s ranged attacks with the spider’s melee and high speed.
    • Skeleton traps are another rare variant that spawns when a seemingly regular (but in fact specifically spawned for this trap) horse is struck by lightning, turning it into four skeletal horses mounted by skeletons wearing helmets. As the horses will not burn in sunlight or despawn and are spawned tamed, once you kill the skeletons you can ride them to net yourself a skeletal steed of your own.
    • Wither skeletons are taller, ash-grey skeletons that spawn in the Nether. They wield stone swords instead of bows and inflict you with the Wither status condition, which will steadily sap away at your health. Like all Nether mobs they’re immune to fire damage, and will thus not burn to death in the sun. They can also spawn as spider jockeys.
    • The Wither is a flying, three-headed skeletal monstrosity you can summon using three wither skeleton heads. It’s very powerful, it shoots explosive skulls, and it will try to kill every mob it sees that isn’t undead.
    • Strays are a variant of skeletons with glowing eyes and clad in tattered rags that only spawns in snowy biomes, whose arrows inflict you with the Slowness status effect. They, too, can spawn as spider jockeys.
  • Apogee's Monster Bash has skeletons as one of the common enemies. They throw what look like arms at you and break into two when you kill them.
  • Monster Rancher 2. Dragon + Joker = Death Dragon.
  • Montezuma's Revenge had rolling skulls as enemies.
  • Revenge Before Reason undead ninja Scorpion from Mortal Kombat technically counts as this due to him being a burning skeleton undneath his ninja garb and flesh.
  • Moshi Monsters has a Moshling species called "Creepy Crooners", who are singing skeletons.
  • Mystery Case Files:
    • In the bonus gameplay from 13th Skull, the Master Detective finds the skullless skeletal remains of Captain Crown's crew. Placing their skulls atop of their head againt will animate them, and they will get revenge on their captain after that.
    • The skeleton of the evaded prisoner in Shadow Lake will briefly wake up and attack the Master Detective before collapsing again right before hitting her.
  • Mr Bones: Another skeleton protagonist is the aptly-named title character in this Sega Saturn game.
  • Skeletons, usually armed with a sword, are the most common enemy in Spirits And Spells.
  • In NetHack zombies can be encountered from the very start, in the form of pathetically weak kobold zombie. Somewhat stronger kobold mummies appear a little later on, and there are a lot of zombie and mummy varieties in total, going up to giant zombies/mummies. In contrast, there's only one type of a skeleton, and it is stronger than even the giant mummy, being encountered in the late-game Orcus Town level, with the unique ability to steal speed from the player. However, a player strong enough to have reached Orcus Town in the first place is likely to find them little more than a nuisance anyway.
    • Liches are another, far more dangerous play on the trope. They can be rarely encountered from the mid-game onwards, which is one of the worst encounters a player can run into. Even a regular Lich can drain strength from the player, randomly curse their items (making it impossible to unequip worn weapons/armor, and severely worsening other items, to the point of making their use completely counterproductive) and worst of all, destroy armor outright, even if it's a very rare equipment. Luckily, they can only do these attacks in melee combat...which they compensate for through turning themselves invisible, and then casting haste on themselves, to make ranged combat without telepathy basically impossible. Oh, and they can heal themselves as well.
    • Moreover, there are three more Lich varieties. A Demilich is simply stronger and faster than the regular one, though it also knows how to draw all the other enemies on the level to your location. Master Lich is even stronger, and does this spell too, but also knows how to summon some of the strongest enemies in the game outright, and can teleport to the player, then teleport away when they are wounded to heal. An Arch-Lich knows all of this, and can insta-kill in close combat those who lack magic resistance. Even the game itself considers them the highest-difficulty monster one can randomly encounter.
      • All the properties Liches possess mean that most players choose to deal with them in another way entirely, and target them with a blessed Scroll of Genocide, completely removing all four Lich types from the game world, forever. The only tricky thing is in finding and properly identifying such a scroll in the first place: even if you know/suspect that they would cost a fortune when bought/sold, you may well end up with a poison cloud exploding in your face (not scary with poison resistance/game-ending without one), or even get punished with a ball and chain crippling your movement, at least until your god decides to help you after a well-timed prayer. Oh, and using a scroll of genocide to exterminate Liches (or nearly any other creature, really) without testing to see if it's cursed can end up with 4 Liches teleported to your location instead.
  • The Lich class in Nexus War can raise skeletons as pets, or combine five skeletons into a fossil monster (essentially a bone golem). The Necrotic Tower, which was the home of the first Lich, is built entirely out of bone.
  • NieR includes No. 6 and No. 7, the former of which is a rather distressing boss battle and the latter of which becomes a party member. Or more accurately, a party member becomes the latter...
  • Nitemare 3D had the skeletons that throw, um... flaming bones? ...at you. Which somehow hit their target instantaneously, unlike the blasts from your plasma gun.
  • Persona 5: Party member Ryuji Sakamoto's eponymous Persona Guardian Entity is a skeletal pirate standing atop a miniature pirate ship. Despite being nothing but bones and clothing, said Persona specializes in pure physical strength.
  • In Pillars of Eternity, Skeletons are the end state of all corporeal undead, having degraded to a completely mindless state as they decay
    • Liches in the same series are spellcasters who have avoided the mental degradation of the undead but not the physical, eventually ending up as this.
  • Morte, your first ally in Planescape: Torment, is a wise-cracking, floating skull. Inexplicably, he has unrotted eyes in his sockets, no doubt preserved through his sheer will to roll them at every opportunity.
    • Being based on a Dungeons & Dragons setting with a heavy emphasis on death and unlife, the standard Dem Bones from the source material also exist in the game. As the necromantic Dustmen repair the bodies of decaying zombie slaves, eventually they are reduced to Dem Bones, held together with iron and leather.
    • Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Dranoor features a skeletal dragon as the Big Bad.
  • The Free-to-Play TCG/tactics game Pox Nora features skeletons as one of the main race types in the Forsaken Wastes faction. Fully skeleton-themed decks are viable and typically play as a horde of expendable lesser skeletons backed by powerful mages, tomb lords and the occasional skeletal ice dragon.
  • One of the varieties of Fryhtans in the Seven Kingdoms series are skeletal warriors called "Deezboans".
  • Like Dry Bones, skeletons in Prince of Persia don't tend to stay down for the count.
  • Puyo Puyo features two playable characters, Oshare Bones and Skeleton T, who happen to be animated skeletons. Neither of them are terribly threatening.
  • Quake III: Arena has AI opponent and player model Bones. The manual idly wonders where the blood comes from when you shoot him.
  • Raskulls.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, hostile skeletons absolutely infest the Citadel of Ror-Dan.
  • Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale: There are sword wielding skeletons which come in white and yellow and drop Poison and Paralysis Crystals, respectively.
  • A somewhat famous game of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 had a top hatted skeleton as the mascot of "Mr. Bones' Wild Ride", a Video Game Cruelty Potential-driven roller coaster so long it became a thing of horror. Naturally, it has become associated with the "Spooky Scary Skeletons" song and the "2spooky" meme.
  • RuneScape has the expected basic human skeletons as enemies, as well as giant ones, a skeletal hellhound, skeletal wyverns (dragon-creatures), disembodied giant skeletal hands and an eldritch skeletal horror made of the bones of multiple creatures.
  • The Castlevania-inspired side-scroller, Rusty, features Skeletons as soldiers, pikemans, and magicians.
  • One of the most common enemies in Serious Sam series is a skeleton of the Kleer alien species (which was rendered extinct by the Big Bad Mental, then revived in its entirety as the mainstay of his army) - a horse-sized four-legged creature that charges at you while also somehow finding the time to roll two steel balls on a chain straight ahead of itself. II also has bone snakes.
  • Shadow Hearts Covenant features an enemy called Agony that appears in the Gallery of the Dead. Its bestiary says it is an skeleton built and animated by a ghost of a child. Abandoned when the child's soul passed on, it now despises all humans with an anger born of deep sadness.
  • The Fiend tribe of demons in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, including the Four Horsemen (Red, Black, White, and Pale Riders,) Mother Harlot, Matador, David the Violinist, the Trumpeter of the Apocalypse, Daisoujou the Monk, and the Hell Biker, among others. They're usually among the most difficult foes you will ever encounter in each game. Shin Megami Tensei being what it is, you can also enlist them as allies against greater foes.
  • The first two Sinjid games featured skeletons as fairly uncommon enemies.
    • Battle Arena has the lowly Gel Skeleton and its stronger variants, the Skeleton, the Golden Skeleton, and the Titanium Skeleton, and their main method of combat is beating the player to a pulp. Their attack patterns are fairly simplistic, but they make up for it with fast attacks that can easily shut down approaches if the player isn't quick on the draw.
    • Shadow of the Warrior has Skeletons who use weaponry and shields in combat as opposed to their predecessors' bare-handed fighting style, and Skeleton Mages, who had low health and physical power but made up for it with their magic abilities and durable cloaks. The former are fairly weak on their own, but are always found assisting other monsters in battle, making it easier for their allies to take you out, and the latter are fairly menacing when cloaked, but drop quickly once uncloaked.
  • In Skate 3, Dem Bones is the name of a playable character model in free-skate mode. He is unlocked after completing half of the Hall Of Meat challenges in the career.
  • Skylanders Giants features the Undead elf called Rider and his skeletal ostrich Fright. Together they're known as Fright Rider.
  • The cave complex in Spelunky often has piles of bones scattered around; some of them can re-animate as skeletons as you approach them. Luckily, a single Goomba Stomp or even a whip strike is enough to put them down again.
  • Hiante from Star Stealing Prince is a more friendly example than most; a skeletal soldier formerly of the Original King's army raised from the dead to protect Astra.
  • The main character of Sunset Overdrive hallucinates being attacked by skeletons (among other things) after being covered in leeches and taking an entire bottle of medicine.
  • The Super Mario Bros. series has multiple skeletal enemies.
    • Dry Bones from Super Mario Bros.. are skeletal Koopa Troopas. Using the Goomba Stomp on them makes them collapse for a few seconds, and then they reassemble. Usually, you have to either make the head roll into lava or a pit, smash them some other way or make sure all of the enemies on screen are dead to beat them, depending on the game/series in question. Variations of this enemy included Dull Bones and Red Bones (both not as strong as regular Dry Bones) and Dark Bones (which are stronger than Dry Bones). They are also named for a line from the trope-naming song.
    • Bony Beetles are to Buzzy Beetles what Dry Bones are to Koopa Troopas. They can reassemble after being stomped, and can also collapse their skeleton exposing their sharp rib bones to defend against being stomped.
    • Fishbones are skeletal fishes and immune to everything except invincibility.
    • And there's a part where Bowser gets Stripped to the Bone and reanimated as a Skeleton. Mario Kart Wii calls this "Dry Bowser".
    • There's also Kingfin in Super Mario Galaxy, a skeletal shark (Yeah, we know) with Glowing Eyelights of Undeath. That apparently summons robotic piranha fish.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii introduces the Spine Coaster, which takes you through the entire level by bone, complete with screeching.
    • Super Mario Odyssey introduces the Tostarenans, who are beings based on the calacas of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Tostarena and The Sand Kingdom is itself a Super Mario Bros counterpart to Mexico.
  • Skeleton enemies appear sometimes in the Wario Land series, with the skeletal ghosts in Wario Land 4 and the aptly named Recapitators in Wario Land: Shake It. The former shoot some kind of ectoplasm that turns Wario into a zombie, the latter actually use their head as a boomerang, and reassemble if destroyed with the head intact.
  • The Tales Series has it's fair share of your standard skeleton mooks, but also has a recurring Bonus Boss in the form of the Sword Dancer, a large, often Multi-Armed and Dangerous skeletal swordsman who lives to fight strong opponents.
  • Cataclysm features skeletons as mildly strong enemies. Cutting weapons do little damage and ranged weapons will miss most of the time, but blunt weapons are very effective against them.
  • Team Fortress 2's love of adding more thematic holiday content to the game, especially on Halloween, means that the presence of NPC skeletons was probably inevitable. While they are internally called zombies (due to previously using the various zombie skins of playable classes), they're really nothing but (surprisingly realistically depicted) bones. They usually appear with a Sickly Green Glow, but occasionally skeleton swarms can be summoned by using magic spells, and will have a team-colored glow in that case.
  • One of the first enemies in Epyx's Temple of Apshai is an animated skeleton.
  • Many, many skeletal enemies are featured in Terraria.
  • In Threads of Fate, one of Rue's monster forms that he can transform to is a skeleton warrior. It has a standard slashing attack while its special attack, is to... break down into a pile of bones (of course, pressing Triangle again makes Rue reattach himself). It does form a useful function in solving puzzles where he encounters it, as well as defense; the broken form is invincible against certain enemies.
  • In Titan Quest, the color of the various skeleton enemies indicates their power, starting from the white ones in Greece and ending with the Gilded Skeletons in China.
  • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation features skeletons armed with swords. Many weapons are completely ineffective against them. A shotgun blast will knock them over temporarily, but, if you want to permanently destroy them, you'd better have the grenade launcher or the explosive arrows at the ready, or make them drop from a cliff. They can also follow Lara almost anywhere and have a tendency of sneaking up on her from the sides or behind, making for some great Jump Scares.
  • Trine features skeletons as the primary enemies.
  • Skeletons are a common foe in the Ultima series, but only gained the ability to revive continuously in Ultima VIII if the player did not kill them with the Grant Peace spell. Taken to ridiculous heights in the horribly broken Ultima IX, where a defeated skeleton would break into its component parts and could reform again if there were enough parts for a whole skeleton. Cue frantic body-part looting mid-battle in a game where inventory space was already at a premium, and the skeletons kept respawning whenever you returned to the area.
  • Two of the first major NPCs you meet in Undertale are Papyrus and Sans, a pair of comedic skeleton brothers. In spite of being skeletons, they wear clothes, eat food, and don't seem to be the least bit inconvenienced by the whole 'lack of flesh' thing. Doctor W.D. Gaster may also be one, he's named after two fonts (Wingdings and Aster), and seemingly uses one of them in his dialog, not unlike the skeleton brothers. However, it's hard to tell since he's been Dummied Out and apparently stuck in the Void Between the Worlds as fragmented bits of data. There's also the "Gaster Blasters", which are draconic-looking skulls that shoot lasers, which Sans uses against the player in the Genocide Route.
  • A great example is the Mysterious Lady from Uninvited. In the first floor hallway, if you try a door a mysterious woman appears with her back to you, "dressed like Scarlett O'Hara," and she seems completely harmless - if you're playing the NES version there's even a chipper "hey, a cute lady!" tune in the background. But if you do something to get her attention (trying the door again, hitting her, trying to open her) she turns around and reveals her face: A bleached white skull, "devoid of any flesh"! The only way to get rid of her is to find a bottle labelled "no-ghost" in the upstairs closet, and even then you have to make sure to have the bottle open before even meeting her. Otherwise, nothing happens and she kills you. With this, and the fact that she's the first thing that can kill you in the game (unless you lingered too long in the wrecked car) and thus, your first death, she's pretty much become the game's mascot, even appearing on the NES version's cover art.
  • Unworthy features the Frozen Giant - a very tough skeleton about twice as tall as the Player Character, and who attacks by creating two kinds of ice shockwaves and can also stand still and electrify himself for a while, making it hazardous to attack him. Luckily, he's a singular miniboss.
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft 3 has several variants: a melee skeleton, an archer, a mage (without any spells, just a magic attack) and an orcish version (used in the campaign only). Frostwyrms are also basically skeleton dragons, and ghouls are half-way between skeleton and zombie. The Lich hero is also a skeleton, albeit much more powerful and with a free will (the above examples are mindless undead slaves). Death knights also use skeletal horses. Similar to the Diablo example above, a Necromancer using the Raise Dead skill creates two humanoid skeletons from any sort of corpse. Even something like a Crypt Fiend (half-spider) or a wolf. In the Frozen Throne expansion, the Scourge shop sells staves that allow any Hero Unit to raise skeletons as well.
    • Obviously, these types (minus the orc version) made it into World of Warcraft as common monsters, as well as NPC necromancers which can summon them. No such class skill exists, although the first Hero Class, the Deathknight, comes close with summoning Ghouls. Unlike the RTS, these can only be raised from humanoid corpses or using Corpse Dust which can be bought from vendors. Better not to think about that one too much.
    • World of Warcraft has a large amount and diversity of Dem Bones, from typical meleeing mooks, to spellcasting mooks (often referred to as Bonecasters), to more elaborate skeleton mooks such as Bone Golems with their scythe hands, as well as many unique skeletons (including one rare mob who can return from the dead if not killed fast enough and is therefore rather hard to kill), and some Skeleton bosses, as well as Liches of course. The newly introduced Lord Marrowgar tops most of them, being a 10 to 25-man boss in the hardest raid so far (though an early one), and is basically a floating mass of bones with 4 heads armed with a massive bone axe.
    • World of Warcraft also features some Dem Bones noncombat pets. To wit, the collector's edition pet Frosty, a baby Frostwyrm, and the Ghostly Skull. A skeletal steed is the racial mount for the Forsaken, and archaeologists can assemble both a full sized fossilized raptor to ride and a small noncombat pet version.
    • With some Noggenfogger Elixir and a bit of luck, you can become one too! note 
  • In the arcade game Warzaid the objective is to stop these from taking over the world.
  • In Where The Water Tastes Like Wine, the Dire Wolf turns the player character into an animate skeleton, so that they can complete their task no matter how long it takes. Regular people don't seem to perceive this change, though some can sense a dark aura in you.
  • Will Rock: Living skeletons from both roman legionnaires and centaurs are met.
  • One species of goo in World of Goo confuses the Sign Painter as to whether they're "alive... or dead. Probably polite to pretend we don't notice." These skull-shaped goo are the only species invulnerable to the ubiquitous Spikes of Doom.

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 
  • Baines in The Back o' Beyond is a lich (he seems to take offense at being called a skeleton) and a pirate.
  • In Beyond the Canopy, skeletons are The Baron's standard mooks. They're intelligent, and seem to have individual personalities.
  • Part of the cast of Carnies.
  • When K'ale gets arrested and imprisoned by King Samrick in Charby the Vampirate his cellmate is a talking skeleton.
  • Jacques is a side character in the Beetlejuice comic Cobweb and Stripes. Unlike his animated appearance, however, he's not a bodybuilder; he's the ghost of a circus performer.
  • In Endstone, Grave Robbing rouses one.
  • Girl Genius: A group of Martellus' knights are stripped to the bone by an attack which animates their remains to be loyal servants to the user.
  • Helvetica's entire cast is this, although none of them are sure why.
  • The Underlings in Homestuck's dead planets (the ones of the Alpha Kids) are this. After they're killed, the bones just reassemble, making them almost impossible to permanently kill.
  • Another protagonist example would be P from Kay And P.
  • In Looking for Group, Richard summons up some skeletons to aid in battle. What makes this really stand out is that the skeletons were ''borrowed'' from a few enemy soldiers, while they were still alive.
  • Nedroid has a skeleton whose name is unpronounceable by above worlders, but you can call him Ethan. (His ex does.)
  • The Big Bad of The Order of the Stick is a lich, Xykon. At one point, decoys of him are created by making three other Dem Bones forms of undead and sticking them in his clothes. None of them are mooks though, being intelligent and quite powerful.
  • Our Little Adventure is set in an RPG-Mechanics Verse and has both regular mindless skeleton minions and the Bone, skeletal undead who retain the minds and skills they had in life. Some of them are extremely unhappy about this.
  • Spoofed in this Princess Planet strip.
  • Codename Montezuma's Skeleton from Shortpacked!.
  • Skeletons! The name kind of implies this.
  • Lore Sjoberg's "Talk with Monsters" comic, based on D&D, features a hero that scoffs at having to fight skeletons, maintaining that skeletons are not dangerous—they're what you get when you take a normal guy and remove things. In the dungeon, however, he sees the error of his ways: "Gaah! Super-pointy elbows!"
  • Unsounded's Duane Adelier is a rare heroic example: a former rector and family man who died six years before the story begins and continues to inhabit his body via unknown means, which he hides with heavy clothing and glamours. His mind and his formidable magical skill are intact but his body decomposes at the normal rate; his tongue and eyes are magical prostheses and he scavenges pieces from cadavers to replace limbs that get too damaged. He strips the meat off those pieces for his own comfort: feeling them rot is really unpleasant for him.

    Web Original 
  • Exploited in Nan Quest. The Pilgrim looks like an example of this, but is actually just a squishy human wearing a costume — precisely because it makes people assume they're an invincible skeleton. It works, too — players occasionally made suggestions that would have actually worked, such as strangling him with his own noose, only to be shot down by other players saying something to the effect of "He's a skeleton, are you crazy?"
  • On the virtual pets game Neopets, the old Pirate Kiko was one of these.
  • Youtube Pooper Ricesnot specializes in making videos about skeletons, especially the skeleton from the advertisement for the '80s board game "Rattle Me Bones".
  • The Tumblr ‘Skeleton War’.
  • Skull Trumpet. Doot doot!

    Western Animation 
  • Skeletons were a common sight in old cartoons, usually dancing and living it up like undead party animals. Disney's Silly Symphony The Skeleton Dance (1929) is the most obvious example, but Disney also made The Haunted House (also 1929) and The Mad Doctor (1933) with the same dancing skeleton characters.
    • Fleischer had skeleton characters in numerous Betty Boop and Bimbo shorts...
    • And Van Beuren Studios had them in Tom and Jerry's Wot a Night (1931) and Plane Dumb (1932) among others.
    • The early Merrie Melodie Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land (1931) features dancing skeletons too.
    • Columbia Cartoons had the Ub Iwerks-directed remake of The Skeleton Dance, called "Skeleton Frolic" (1937).
    • Two skeletons appear in Who Killed Who?, one regular and another with red bones (a Shout-Out to Red Skelton). There's also a skeletal cuckoo in a clock.
  • In The Adventures of Puss in Boots, a magic ring allows its wielder to animate and control an army of skeletons. The ring passes through several hands before Puss in Boots decides the Skeletons are nice, and Frees the Genie, in a sense, by giving the ring to the skeletons and inviting them to live in San Lorenzo.
  • One episode of Aladdin: The Series featured a big bad with skeleton minions. Aladdin and crew pulled off the standard "knock the minions together" knockout, only for the skeletons to pull themselves back together into new shapes. Two got smashed together to form a centaur with four arms and two heads.
  • In Animaniacs there was Mr. Skullhead; usually he appeared in the "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segments, but sometimes appeared in others, including a musical skit which was a Homage to the song that's the Trope Namer.
    • Before that he was born doing skits for Tiny Toons, the skull is inspired by Elmyra's skull on her headband.
  • A recurring character in Beetlejuice is Jacques, a skeleton with a French accent who wears a beret and is mildly obsessed with building his muscles... of which he of course has none.
  • One of Youngblood's minions in the Danny Phantom episode "Pirate Radio". Also, one of the ghosts Vlad sent after Danny in "Kindred Spirits" looked like a Bedsheet Ghost?8364; in reality, the bedsheet was covering one of these, albeit with black bones. Not to mention Pariah Dark's army which is composed of skeleton warriors.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons animated series, when the children confront Venger in the Dragons' Graveyard, he summons draconian skeletons to attack them.
    • There's also Dekion, the skeletal Celestial Knight cursed due to his cowardice.
  • El Tigre: The Big Bad, Sartana of the Dead and her undead army. Her ethnicity makes her a genuine calaca.
  • In Family Guy, The Grim Reaper is this underneath his robes. In one episode we see him in normal person clothes.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters villain Scared Stiff is an odd robotic version of this.
  • Ben Bones, the protagonist of the Canadian animated series Freaktown. He's also able to disassemble himself if needed.
    • The Real Ghostbusters: several of the ghosts they face are walking skeletons including; the Scotish soldiers in "Bustman's Holiday", the Pirates in "Sea Fright", the train passengers in "Knock, Knock" and some dancing and singing skeletons in "The Haunting of Heck House".
  • In the G.I. Joe episode "The Phantom Brigade" a skeleton rises up from the floor to threaten Cobra Commander into giving up control of three spirits. The Commander is reasonably freaked out and even the Joes who walk in on the scene can't believe what they're seeing.
  • Grim is like this under his robes in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (which leads to a lot of humorous situations). More than once, the other two protagonists have been known to take him apart in order to carry him in a backpack or other small container.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): The ever-cheesy, ever-ineffectual Big Bad Skeletor — although he had a human body with a skull head. Wherever there's actual muscles under his suit or just a Paper-Thin Disguise (a la Earthworm Jim) is never addressed.
    • In the reboot, his face was dissolved by acid in the first episode; later it was revealed via Flashback that his life was saved by an evil spell cast by his mentor, Hordak, resulting in his head becoming a floating skull, hovering over his torso. (Given his maniacal laugh after it happened, this may have caused his sanity to degenerate further.)
  • Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil: Becky, Satan's administrative assistant.
  • The Back from the Dead version of Auntie in Not Without My Handbag is a skeleton with a dress and hairdo.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes has a character named A Real Magic Skeleton, who is... well, [[Exactly What It Says on the Tin you can probably guess]
  • The residents of Pottsfield in Over the Garden Wall once they make The Reveal.
  • Skull Boy of Ruby Gloom. He's also the main characters's love interest.
    • There's also a band called the Skeletunes, which Skullboy sometimes hangs out with.
  • Skeleton Warriors. In this one, the "curse" of becoming a skeleton could be reversed by removing a ruby in their chest, as they were immortal otherwise.
  • The Spider-Man Unlimited version of Carnage has a very skeletal appearance.].
  • One of the baddies in SuperTed is a skeleton accidentally awakened by Texas Pete who comes along for the ride.
  • SWAT Kats had a recurring villain, The Pastmaster (an ancient sorcerer who keeps trying to bring back the Dark Ages). One of his shticks was reanimating skeletons, as he demonstrated in his first appearance. It wasn't very effective, as an Enforcer helicopter sees them, asks them to stand down, and then delivers a parody on the Miranda Rights right before shredding them to bits with the on-board Gatling (well, laser, but it looks like a Gatling):
    "You have the right to remain buried!"
  • The Venture Bros. - Dean is aware of the trope - when he investigates a plane crash and sees the charred skeletal remains of the crew he cries out "Brock! I think I figured out why the plane crashed - there were SKELETONS driving it!"
  • Lord Hater of Wander over Yonder is skeletal being, though he may just be alien rather than undead.
    • Its been later implied that Lord Hater was once an astronaut monkey working in NASA, and some accident transformed him.

     Multiple Media 

     Real Life 
  • Insects have exoskeletons, so technically they are this trope.
  • Nearly ever living vertebrate is essentially this, actually. The only ones who don't are sharks (their "bones" are made of cartilage) and other more primitive fish like Hagfish.
    • Every extinct vertebrate had a skeleton as well. In fact, their skeletons are worth a lot to science and people go to great lengths to find, obtain and study them.
  • There's a skeleton inside you right now!


AND THEN A SKELETON POPPED OUT!

Alternative Title(s): Skeletons, Our Skeletons Are Different

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