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Skeletons in the Coat Closet

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The skulls belong to people who tried to give him fashion advice.

Peebee: What's with all the bones? Trying to be some kind of supervillain?
Drack: Yes.
Peebee: Cooooooool!

What sort of person would clothe themselves in bones and skulls?note  Someone who no doubt appreciates them as symbols of mortality and death. The wearer of such attire must surely lead a hardened lifestyle of murder, combat and death-bringing. Perhaps you could say that they're... bad to the bone?

Alternatively, they could just be cavemen or other "uncivilized" people, making the most of the all-natural materials available; in cases where helmets are fashioned out of skulls, this may likely overlap with Horns of Barbarism. Might be constructed of Nothing but Skulls.

See Genuine Human Hide for the skin equivalent and Human Resources for anything else anatomical equivalent.

A staple of Obviously Evil design. Compare Creepy Souvenir, Spikes of Villainy and Chained by Fashion. See also Bad with the Bone and Ballistic Bone when bones are used as Improvised Weapons.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk's Skull Knight invokes this trope through his distinctively skeletal armor. Unusually for the trope, he's one of the few unambiguous good guys of the saga, if a serious hardass.
  • Death Parade: Castra wears a skull helmet. It may be related to her job - she's an organization clerk for the afterlife and her alternate title is the Queen Of The Dead.
  • Kill la Kill: Nonon Jakuzure incorporates skull and bone designs into her marching band outfits. The shako has an actual skull on it which may or may not be from the pet monkey she owned as a child. Even her Nudist Beach outfit has a skull design on the hat. Fittingly enough, she is the nastiest member of the Elite Four.
  • Overlord (2012): Demiurge makes Ainz a throne worthy of so powerful and evil a lich, and so gets to work assembling bones and skulls into a chair. Ainz, whose wish to appear like an Evil Overlord to his minions doesn't extend to sitting on something made of humans, decides to use the opportunity to punish Shalltear for an earlier mistake and sits on her instead. Naturally, she gets off on it, to Ainz' horror.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Armor Thrulls were specifically bred for this purpose by the Order of the Ebon Hand, growing organic armor to be flayed from them at maturity.
    • Two of the Shards of Alara feature this trope. The goblins of Jund wield bone weapons and armor, while the people of Grixis uses bone gear due to the abundance of corpses and scarcity of anything else.
    • Marauding Boneslasher, a zombie minotaur, wears skulls as shoulder platers and jagged bones on its arms.
    • The Oracle of Bones wears humans skulls braided into his beard.

  • Empowered: Deathmonger wears the skull of a dead superhero as a mask.
  • Extinctioners: The faceplates worn by the Hunters and Omega Hunters are stylized human skulls despite their targets being anthropomorphic animals which is the first hint to the Hunters being human.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Several of the Dark Judges, in addition to actually being undead, dress themselves in alternate Judge uniforms with human bones on them.
    • Some dwellers in the Cursed Earth dress like this.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Taskmaster: Taskmaster's costume always incorporates some sort of skull mask, which has ranged over the years from vaguely skull-like to what looks like actual bone to stylized ballistic armour.
    • X-Men: Mystique wears a belt of skulls.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Used a lot, mostly but not only by vampires. Most of the vampires' technology is also skull-shaped.
  • Robin Series: Warlock's Daughter wears a belt of silver skulls.
  • The Sandman: Morpheus' "crown" is in fact a gas mask made from the skull and spinal cord of a dead god.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Red Fang is a Mongolian assassin whose work outfit has a skull motif, including one on his chest.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Eris' helmet has two stylized silver skulls wrought on either side of the opening for her face and she wears a child's skull on a necklace.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • 9: 7 wears a bird skull (dubbed the 'Skullmet'), which functions as a Cool Helmet/Cool Mask.
  • Epic: All Boggans wear skulls on their heads and skins on their coats. Professor Bomba found some Boggan apparel beforehand, which MK, Nod, and Ronin steal to infiltrate the Boggan lair.
  • In Home, the Gorg's shoulder spikes are adorned with several tiny skulls.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: In Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon, the titular beast is a rare breed of dragon that scavenges for dragon bones to wear as armor to protect its soft hide. The Boneknapper of the short has been chasing Gobbler for years for a specific dragon bone he keeps.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facillier has a skull mask heavily implied to be made of real human bone. As his character and powers take heavy inspiration from Voodoun religion, this is a nod to that as well as a case of Shown Their Work.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Army of Darkness: After Ash's Enemy Without becomes necrotized and takes charge of the Deadite army, he starts wearing a skull-like helmet.
  • The Dark Crystal: SkekTek the Scientist wears an animal's rib cage on his back as a carapace.
  • Godzilla: Final Wars: Monster X has a suit of armor resembling a dragon skeleton.
  • Human Lanterns: The film's main villain, a fallen martial artist turned Serial Killer, often goes on a killing spree while wearing a mask made from a human skull.
  • Highlander: The Kurgan wears a skull as a helmet in medieval Scotland.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Mola Ram wears bone jewelry and a Crown of Horns made from a cow's skull. The latter serves to hammer home the point that Mola Ram "betrayed Shiva," since cattle are sacred in Hinduism.
  • Midnight Movie: The killer's mask incorporates pieces of a human skull.
  • Revenge of the Sith: General Grievous' robotic head is fashioned to resemble an animal skull.
  • In Serenity, the ship is disguised as a Reaver ship by covering it with bones, blood, and corpses.
  • Slashers: One of the villains wears a sash covered in small bones.
  • Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl: The Battle Butler Igor wears armor made of bones.
  • Willow: General Kael, The Dragon to Queen Bavmorda, wears a helm with a skull mask. An unusually realistic depiction, as while the metal parts were useful and saved him from a blow to the head, the bone shattered when it was hit.

  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Rattleshirt is the leader of a band of barbarian raiders who wears bones sewn together as armor, with a giant's skull as a helmet. His nickname comes from the way they clack together as he moves. He personally prefers the title "Lord o' Bones". Although Rattleshirt isn't diabolically evil, he doesn't have any redeeming qualities either. Notably, his appearance outside of his armor is singularly unimpressive. Later, the quite heroic Mance Rayder wears this armor as part of his magical disguise.
  • Discworld‘s Cohen the Barbarian has dentures made out of troll teeth. Discworld trolls, being made of "metamorphorical" rock, have diamond teeth. Also, a troll mobster makes cufflinks out of his enemies' teeth. Other trolls like to wear belts of human and dwarf skulls, but in recent, more politically correct times, sheep skulls have become a substitute (after a short experiment with monkey skulls. Either there was too much similarity in size and approximate shape for most dwarfs to tell the difference or the Librarian took issue). The real tough troll criminals don't bother; they just beat you over the head with your own arm until you get the message rather than run the risk of inflaming dwarfs with no grounding in forensic anthropology unnecessarily.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: Faction Paradox members wear ceremonial masks created from the skulls of creatures "that really shouldn't have existed in the first place anyway" and full-body armor made from Yssgaroth-tainted Homeworld agents. It's a Faction Paradox thing — they embrace and celebrate death instead of fearing it.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Golgomath, the ruler of a giant colony, wears a necklace made of bones from humans and other species.
  • In The Legend of Drizzt, Drizzt's arch-nemesis Artemis Entreri wields Charon's Claw, a sword with bones for a hilt. However, the trope is also subverted with another of Drizzt's main enemies, Obould Many-Arrows. He has a helmet crafted to look like a skull but which is actually made of glass-steel, a super-hard, transparent material.
  • The Locked Tomb: Harrowhark the Necromancer wears plenty of human bone, including a full ribcage over her chest and numerous studs in her ears. It doubles as a Walking Armory, as she's a specialist in bone magic who can unfold a tiny chip into a skeletal monstrosity or a volley of spears.
  • Misadventures in the Interdimensional Black Market, a The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids short story, introduced the Queen of the Black Market, who wears form-fitting bone armor. Several characters in the story remark on what a just plain odd fashion choice it is.
  • In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Capa Vencarlo Barsavi has a wardrobe that replaces buttons with human teeth.
  • The Way of Kings (the first book of The Stormlight Archive) has Kaladin, in later chapters, wear the grown armor and bones of fallen Parshendi warriors to enrage them, drawing their attention toward himself and away from his fellow bridgemen.
  • In The World of Kong, a tie-in "natural history" book to the 2005 ''King Kong'' remake, one of Skull Island's less-dangerous native animals is a coconut-sized hermit crab that uses animal skulls for armor instead of shells.

    Live-Action TV 

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Hindu Mythology: The goddess Kali is often represented wearing a necklace of skulls and bones.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • There is actually a prestige class in the Eberron setting called the Bone Knight, who gets some bonuses for making and wearing bone armor and weapons.
    • The Bonegrim and Skeletal Armors from 4th Edition's Adventurer's Vault are definitely quite bone-like, and grant necrotic resistance upon their wearers.
    • The licensed 2nd Edition sourcebook for Diablo II had a special proficiency for necromancers to craft bone armor that only they could use.
  • Eon: Non-civilized tirak tribes often make armor out of bones, including making helmets out of skulls. It is common for old members of the largest sub-species to bequeath their heads to up-and-coming warriors of the smaller ones, so they will have materials for a good helmet.
  • Exalted: This is amongst the Abyssals' macabre choice of grave fashion.
  • Games Workshop:
    • Chaos, Dark Elves/Eldar, and Orcs/Orks love wearing the heads and skulls of their worthiest opponents impaled on their Spikes of Villainy.
    • Skulltaker, one of the Blood God's more dangerous servants, wears a cloak made of the skulls of his fallen opponents. His tabletop miniature has no fewer than 137 skulls modeled on it.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The Imperium prefers tastefully sculpted depictions of skulls. On everything. But they use plenty of real skulls too. Playing up their medieval Christian inspiration, lots of Imperial Guard, Ecclesiarchy and Space Marine characters (and not a few Empire and Bretonnian characters from Warhammer either) wear holy relics prominently, many of which are the bones of saints and martyrs.
      • Eldar Harlequin Death Jesters make their macabre motley costumes from the bones of their predecessor(s) as a sign of respect and honour. They know full well that their own bones are probably destined for the same fate.
      • Craftworld Eldar make much of their technology and some of their armour (especially Rune Armour for warlocks) from a psycho-plastic substance called Wraithbone, which has an eerily bone-like texture to it.
    • Warhammer:
      • Saurus Temple Guard wear helmets made from Stegadon skulls, and often much additional bone jewellery.
      • Savage Orcs are very into the caveman version of this.
      • Quite naturally, the Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings of Khemri (Warhammer's two Undead factions) use bone armour and clothing a lot - sometimes just sculpted representations of bones, but just as often actual bones themselves.
      • The Skaven of Clan Mortkin adorn themselves with the bones of their enemies in an attempt to emulate the fearsome appearance of the undead, in addition to painting their fur and armor black and white to make themselves resemble skeletons.
  • Rifts:
    • Skulls are a major motif of Coalition forces, to include robotic infantry made to look like walking skeletons.
    • Also the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death in particular, who ride upon giant steeds most of which are covered in bones. Necromancers in Rifts also gain power from using and handling bones.

  • The The Transformers toyline War For Cybertron: Kingdom toyline introduced a new type of toy, the Fossilizers, who all transform into the skeletons of different dinosaurs and prehistoric animals. They're also a form of Equippable Ally, who's body can be separated to form weapons and armor that can be attached to hardpoints on other figures in the War For Cybertron trilogy.

    Video Games 
  • AQ Worlds: Vordred takes this trope Up to Eleven. Word of God says that the artist asked the boss's opinion on the armor while drawing it. The reply was "Needs more skulls". And then this got repeated a few times as a joke, only the artist took it seriously. Justified and immediately parodied in the final battle against him; the skulls are apparently constantly generated by his actual body, and absorb energy from attacks to fuel this process. Vordred then goes One-Winged Angel and becomes even bigger, with every single part of him except his head covered with millions of skulls.
  • Battle Clash, and it's sequel Metal Combat. The main villains of the series Anubis and his true master Typhon love skulls. They add them as motifs for their mecha, their backgrounds and Typhon's mecha even fires skulls made of energy.
  • In Blood, the Super Armor icon is a skeleton's torso.
  • In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Kain can wear Bone Armor, which tricks less intelligent undead into thinking he's one of them, allowing him to pass by unnoticed.
  • City of Heroes:
    • The Skulls gang makes their masks out of real skulls looted from graveyards.
    • City of Villains adds a huge number of skull and bone themed costume items to go along with Spikes of Villainy, which were later ported over into City of Heroes as well for all your dark and edgy anti-hero needs.
  • Dark Souls:
    • In an inversion, Gravelord Nito is a bundle of skeletons wearing a robe.
    • Played straighter with Nashandra's boss form in Dark Souls II, which appears to be wearing a Pimped-Out Dress made from writhing skeletons.
  • Diablo II features bone helms, bone shields, and bone wands which all classes can use. There are also the Shrunken Heads which are unique shields for necromancers. Necromancers also have a unicorn skull as their left pauldron.
  • Drakensang: The Orc chief Bloodfang wears a massive animal skull as a helmet. You can find and equip it in the sequel, but it's not very powerful.
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Dwarves can make armor out of bones. It's one of the worse materials for armor, but a starting fortress may have little else available to equip their dwarves. Additionally, a dwarf in a fell mood will murder other dwarves to make artifacts from them, including dwarf bone armor. Similarly, immigrant dwarves might arrive with jewelry made from the bones of creatures they've killed.
    • There used to be a bug where vampires would make (and carry) a trophy out of a victim if the victim died from blood loss. This would result in migrant vampires showing up with dozens (or hundreds) of dwarf hair bracelets and dwarf teeth bracelets around each wrist, and similar numbers of dwarf hair/teeth necklaces around their neck.
    • Night trolls waste no part of the sentient beings they kill and cook, making accessories and jewelry. Adventurers can find bonecrafts up to artifact quality in both monster's troves and city jewelry shops, some of which is also made of the local civilizations' races.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind (as well as Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC), Bonemold and Chitin are each iconic armor types of the Dunmer (Dark Elves). Exactly what type of bones Bonemold is molded from is never made clear. Additionally, Chitin is a type of light armor crafted from the shells of Morrowind's giant insects and favored by the Ashlanders, though "civilized" Dunmer will use it as well. Morrowind also has Trollbone Armor, though it is a Nordic style armor. It is simply troll bones sewn over cloth under armor.
    • Skyrim:
      • It is possible to craft armor out of the bones of dragons, creating one of the best plate armor sets in the game. Alduin will even comment on the Dragonborn wearing this armor, deriding his fallen comrades as "weak".
      • Bone and antler are common components of Forsworn weapons and armor, along with fur and hide, as its true of their tribal "Reachmen" parent culture. Despite eschewing metal in their weapons and armor, they are able to fight evenly against better-equipped adversaries through use of guerilla tactics and their druidic "hedge magic."
      • Giants are known to wear bones as part of their clothing. While most Giants wear simple loincloths made of pelt or fur, there have been historical cases of Giants assembling armor. It is most commonly made of bones.
  • Far Cry Primal: The elite warriors of the Udam Barbarian Tribe wear skull masks and helmets, and they all tend to wear bones for armor.
  • Final Fantasy I: Chaos, the final boss, had skulls for kneecaps.
  • Gems of War: Ogres wear human skulls on their necklaces, which their card's text notes to be a pretty unsubtle way of conveying "Don't mess with me".
  • The Heart Pumps Clay: Thulak Khan, as seen in a screenshot, skulls as a mask and shoulder pads. And a ribcage over their chest.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Pirate-themed Heartless have skull shoulder pads.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • A skullcap is made from an actual skull, something its description milks at some length.
    • The "1000th Birthday Suit" is an outfit composed of bone articles: the bonedanna, the boneana hammock, and bone spurs.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Barbarian armor set includes a large piece of bone as its right vambrace and a beast's horned skull as a helmet.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Nakmor Drack's armor is covered in a variety of bones, and he's even introduced taking a tooth from a creature he'd just thrown through a wall. Later on in the game, he explains it's basically a warning to anyone stupid enough to pick a fight with an old krogan.
    Drack: Mess with me, I wear your spine for a hat.
  • Minecraft: A number of mobs will drop their heads if killed by a charged creeper's explosion, including skeletons and wither skeletons. These heads can then be picked up and worn as helmets. There isn't a significant defense benefit to wearing them, however, although they permit you to come closer to skeletons than normal before they spot you.
  • Mega Man: Dr. Wily outfits the vast majority of his bases and a good number of his machines with a skull motif. The man himself wears a skull-shaped belt clip in Mega Man 8, a skeletal-patterned tie in the Megamix manga, and a skull-patterned set of pajamas and nightcap in Mega Man 11.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Armor is made of parts of monsters you've killed. The Bone set is the most direct example of this.
    • Radobaan from Monster Hunter: World is a monster that secretes a tar-like substance from its body, and rolls around in the copious amounts of bones found in the Rotten Vale in order to serve as armor. It can also fling these bones at enemies.
  • Mortal Kombat Shao Kahn wears a skull helmet.
  • Open Sorcery: On the third day, Decker has a meeting in his apartment, and one of the members, presumably TimbaToothtaker, who is possibly a Shameless Fanservice Girl, is:
    A woman with wild white hair wears only teeth.
    Necklaces, bracelets and anklets of teeth.
  • Pirate 101: There are a couple of helmets that are made from large skulls and some equipment that is only equippable by witchdoctors also have bones incorporated into the design. The strangest of these is a set of boots that have skulls attached by strings to the player's ankles.
  • Pokémon:
    • Cubone is a somewhat tragic example. The young take their mother's skull as a helmet and let their head grow into it. Which makes one wonder about what's going on when one hatches and its sprite already has the "helmet".
    • Houndour and Houndoom are surely intended to come off this way.
    • Vullaby and Mandibuzz are bone-clad vultures. Special mention goes to Vullaby since it uses a skull as a diaper of all things — mess with Mandibuzz's children and she'll make sure her children shit in your skull when she's done with you.
  • Romancing SaGa: In Minstrel Song, Sif wears a massive horned skull on the back of her head. She's arguably the most badass of the eight leads, having grown up in the harsh Shiverlands as the best warrior of her tiny village.
  • Sanity: Aiken's Artifact: The Big Bad is revealed at the end to have de-evolved completely into nothing more than a giant psionic brain. In the final battle, he forms a body in the shape of a giant cow's skeleton from slaughterhouse bodyparts to fight the hero.
  • Team Fortress 2: There are a few hats and accessories that fit the theme. Most notable is the Pyro who is capable of wearing a skull-themed gas mask (The Last Breath), wear a skull on top of that (The Skull Island Topper), three skulls across his chest (the Bonedelier), and wield a spinal column with skull attached as a melee weapon.
  • Terraria: Players can craft Necro armor using cobwebs and bones. Wearing a full set once increased the players' speed by about 20% and gives them a visual motion blur to emphasize that they're going fast. By combining Necro armor with the Anklet of the Wind and Hermes boots, you can become a speed demon. The 1.06 update changed Necro armor's full-set bonus to reduced ammo consumption from ranged weapon and increased ranged damage.
  • Titan Quest: When Hades is halfway defeated, he'll wear an odd visor, turn his right arm into a bunch of tentacles and then magically materialize a suit of armor made of bones on his body.
  • Twisted Metal: Black: Mr. Grimm was forced to eat his friend by a sadistic Viet Cong officer, and now wears that friend's skull as a helmet as a memorial to him.
  • Warcraft:
    • In Warcraft II, the orcs of the Bonechewer clan are known for their cannibalistic nature, and for ornamenting themselves with the bones (and organs) of their enemies. Exemplified by their leader, Tagar Spinebreaker, who wore a belt made out of an orc's spine, and bracers made out of ogre vertebrae. Tagar later shows up in World of Warcraft, but due to graphical limitations, this isn't apparent.
    • World of Warcraft:
      • This theme and Bad with the Bone are rampant throughout Wrath of the Lich King. The Lich King has skulls in just about every location of his armor where they would fit.
        "No, it's not okay, I have skulls... on... my... kneecaps!"
      • Death Knights have the ability to summon a protective Bone Shield, though in this case the bones hover around the player instead of being worn as armor.
      • A number of armor pieces for players, as well as some for NPCs fall into this. Garrosh wears some massive multi-fanged skull for a Shoulder of Doom, and the player-wearable shoulders Failed Experiments #27 and 28 are large wolf skulls strapped to the shoulders. Several warlock tier sets included skulls, as well as death knight and even mages get in on the act with one tier set giving them flaming skulls in one of three different colors inside a hood.
      • One of the fishing poles exists entirely because of this trope. A skull for a handguard and what appear to be large phalanges for the rod itself. Even more so with the Underlight Angler artifact fishing rod in the Legion expansion, which appears to be an entire murloc skeleton with the spine yanked out of the top of its head.
      • One of the guardian druid artifact skins gives the bear form a skull helmet, ribcage torso armor and several other bones as defense.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Assassin bug nymphs have been known to camouflage themselves in the husks of their prey.
  • Decorator crabs sometimes incorporate bits of crustacean shells into their own disguises, alongside living algae and sea anemones. Likewise, hermit crabs are an entire superfamily of crustaceans that armor their vulnerable abdomens with vacant snail "skeletons".
  • Some Native American tribes made breastplates out of bone.
  • Warrior tribes lacking access or knowledge of metalworking have made armor coats made from bone as well as other materials (wood, leather, hide, etc).
  • Protecting vital internal organs is one of the signature functions of a living body's skeletal system. The cranium in particular is form-fitted to house the brain and shield it from impacts, like a crash helmet worn under the skin.


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