Follow TV Tropes


Skeletal Tropes

Go To

"The skull is nature's sculpture."
David Bailey

Tropes about human and animal skeletons, and the bones that make them up. Subtrope of Dead Body Index.

Compare and contrast the Muscular Index. See also Artistic License – Biology, Death Tropes, Horror Tropes, and Undead Index.


  • Bad with the Bone: Bones are used as a weapon.
  • Beware the Skull Base: Villain lairs shaped like skulls.
  • Bones Do Not Belong There: Bones in soft organs, or animals that don't have them in real life.
  • Advertisement:
  • Calacas: Skeletons representing the dead in Mexican culture. Usually highly decorated with designs painted on their skulls.
  • Creepy Cemetery: An unusually scary cemetery with skeletons, and maybe other monsters, abound.
  • Crystal Skull: A supernatural skull made out of a gem or valuable metal.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons that move on their own.
  • Desert Skull: The stock "animal skull in the desert", typically a bovine.
  • Dinosaur Doggie Bone: Dogs love fossilized dinosaur bones as much as regular bones.
  • Elephant Graveyard: A place that large animals (not necessarily elephants) naturally go to when they die, often containing their skeletons.
  • Expressive Skull: Skulls that can perform facial movements as if they had flesh and muscle. Typical in Halloween productions.
  • Advertisement:
  • Flaming Skulls: Skulls on fire.
  • Friendly Skeleton: Sometimes instead of scary and mean, a skeleton will be depicted as kind and even comical.
  • Gashadokuro: Giant skeleton youkai, made from the bones of a mass of people who never had proper burials.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Animate skeletons with glowing eyes.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: A character's so thin that you can actually see their bones under their flesh. Typically used for zombies or starvation victims.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Skulls are the only bone present.
  • Ribcage Ridge: The skeleton of a gigantic creature is shown to distance the work's location/time from familiarity.
  • Ribcage Stomach: The ribcage is visible in the stomach, similar to Nothing but Skin and Bones.
  • Scary Skeleton: Malicious skeletons and skeleton-like creatures that are Played for Horror.
  • Advertisement:
  • SkeleBot 9000: Robots that resemble skeletons.
  • Skeletal Appendage: Part of a living character's skeleton is exposed, usually following a gruesome accident.
  • Skeleton Crew: The crew of a craft is made up of skeletons.
  • Skeleton Motif: Skeletons/skulls resemble death, danger, etc.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Bones used as clothing or armor.
  • Skull Cups: Skulls used as drinking cups.
  • Stock Femur Bone: When non-skull bones are automatically femur bones. Typically used in cartoons.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Only the skeleton is left behind.
  • This Way to Certain Death: The, usually skeletal, remains of those who traveled the route beforehand tell of danger.
  • Unbreakable Bones: A character's bones can't be destroyed. Common with superheroes or monsters.
  • Waiting Skeleton: A character waits so long that they've been reduced to a skeleton. Sometimes used for comedic effect.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Getting electrocuted makes your skeleton visible.
  • Xylophones for Walking Bones: Xylophones being involved with skeletons.

Thank Mr. Skeltal for this index.