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Note: Elder Scrolls lore is generally not clear-cut. Reasons for this range from biased in-universe sources intentionally only giving you only one side of a story, to sources lacking critical information or working from false information, to the implication that All Myths Are True, despite the contradictions, or that at least all myths are Metaphorically True. Out-of-game developer supplemental texts (frequently referred to as "Obscure Texts" by the lore community) are more trustworthy, but are frequently left unofficial and sometimes later contradicted. Because of this, it is entirely possible for two contradictory statements in the below examples to both be true. (And due to frequent events in-universe that alter the timeline, both may literally be true in-universe.)

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The Elder Scrolls - Tropes I to J

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    I 
  • I Am Who?: Unsurprisingly common for the Player Character throughout the series. In addition to often being the prophesied hero of the main quest (Nerevarine, Dovahkiin/Dragonborn), you are also often the prophesied hero in the expansions (Pelinal Reborn) and in some faction questlines (Listener of the Dark Brotherhood). These titles generally have no meaning outside of their context, so merely finding out that you are, for example, the Nerevarine, doesn't mean much unless you also found out what the Nerevarine is.
  • I Am X, Son of Y:
    • Traditional Orc names follow this structure with the prefixes "gro" and "gra" meaning "son of" and "daughter of", respectively; when referring to a parent, a male orc will use his father's name as his last name, and a female will use her mother's. So, for example, an Orc named Agron gro-Malog is "Agron, the son of Malog". It is also not uncommon for them to use their place of birth as a last name in place of a parent's in some cases.
    • Draconic Beast of the Apocalypse Alduin just loves to announce the fact that he is the "firstborn" of Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and Top God of the Nine Divines pantheon.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate:
    • The Underking, believed to be Zurin Arctus (possibly merged with Wulfharth Ash-King) who served as Imperial Battlemage to Tiber Septim, had this issue. He infused his heart/soul into the Mantella in order to power the Numidium. After Septim used the Numidium to complete his conquest of Tamriel, Arctus tried to take the Mantella back. When he did, it triggered an explosion which "killed" him and sent his heart in Aetherius. However, he persisted in an undead form as the Underking, unable to actually die until he was reunited with the Mantella. As a result of the Warp in the West, he was finally allowed to die.
    • At several points in the series, depending on the mode of resurrection, some ghosts and forms of reanimated dead are still conscious but have no control over their body. They will sometimes be Apologetic Attackers and will thank the person who kills them for freeing them as they die (again).
  • Iconic Item: Throughout the series, in-universe, the various Daedric artifacts are these for their associated Daedric Princes.
  • Iconic Outfit: In-universe with uniformed Blades in their Akaviri style armor with Akaviri katanas. Virtually all citizens of Tamriel are able to recognize a uniformed Blade.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: It's pretty easy to forget that, despite being an iconic part of the series, the Daedric Princes were first introduced in Daggerfall, the second game in the franchise. (And even then, there was plenty of Early Installment Weirdness with many of their appearances and personalities.)
  • Ideal Illness Immunity:
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: Starting with Morrowind, every installment of the series has featured Minimalistic Cover Art showing an emblem of some sort from the Elder Scrolls universe as though it were printed on the cover of a book. Collector's Editions and "Game of the Year" editions follow a similar trend, usually with some small change to the color or emblem from the standard edition of the game in question.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each entry of the series is a One-Word Title usually named after The Place where the game takes place. This also applies to expansions and spin-offs.
  • Idiot Hero: The Tang Mo are a race of "monkey-folk" hailing from the continent of Akavir, far to the east of Tamriel. They are described as kind and brave, but also very simple. Despite this, they are capable of raising armies and have successfully defended themselves time and again against their hostile neighbors, including the Kamal "snow demons" and the Tsaesci "snake vampires".
  • Idiot Savant: Demiprinces are a form of lesser Daedra born from the union of a Daedra and a mortal. Their dual nature gives them an odd perception of the world and time itself. In addition to their eccentricities, Demiprinces have an extremely difficult time maintaining knowledge which lies outside their spheres of influence. However, they are the undisputed masters of whatever lies within their spheres.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place:
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side:
    • Mazken (aka Dark Seducers), are an intelligent race of lesser Daedra in service to the Daedric Prince Sheogorath. Mazken are said to be a treacherous race that will quickly switch allegiances if it becomes beneficial to them. The group of Dark Seducers fought in Battlespire betrayed their former master (a lieutenant of Nocturnal) to side with Mehrunes Dagon when he promised them greater power. Because of this, it's difficult to tell if they've always been servants of Sheogorath or if he is simply their race's most recent master of convenience.
    • This is a staple of dragon culture, going hand in hand with their beliefs that Asskicking Equals Authority and their tendency toward Honor Before Reason. Dragons will only follow those who prove themselves to be the strongest. An interesting variation comes from the backstory - Paarthurnax betrayed Alduin and sided with Mankind during the last Dragon War, teaching the Ancient Nords the Thu'um, the draconic Language of Magic, which allowed them to turn the tide and defeat Alduin and his followers once and for all. Essentially, Paarthurnax chose to follow the strongest side as all Dragons do... he just happened to make them the strongest side first.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Until you've reached a relatively high level with correspondingly strong equipment, the various City Guards will be one of the biggest threats to you should you commit a crime in their presence. They tend to be quite numerous, quite strong, and, depending on the game, either spawn infinitely until you are brought to justice or respawn after a few days in the event you are able to kill them all.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten:
    • This is common in the initiation ritual to join the Dark Brotherhood. Typically, the initiate is required to murder an innocent. This shows that they are both willing to murder, and are willing to follow any order given.
    • This is a common requirement in order to serve some of the more outright malevolent Daedric Princes, including Boethia, Mehrunes Dagon, and Molag Bal. Given that they are, respectively, a chronic backstabber, an Omnicidal Maniac, and a damn-near full blown God of Evil, proving how "evil" you are before they'll allow you to serve them is pretty justified.
  • Ignored Expert:
    • In the backstory, the Psijic Order (a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel with some ability to predict the future which has, depending on the political climate of the time, advised the leaders of Tamriel) advised Emperor Uriel Septim V against his planned invasion of Akavir in the mid-3rd Era. Uriel V did not heed their warnings and invaded anyway, suffering from all manner of misfortune before eventually having his forces decimated and becoming a casualty himself. Later Septim emperors became distrustful of the Psijics, eventually banning their ambassadors from the Imperial City entirely.
    • The now-extinct Ayleids (Wild Elves) once ruled a mighty empire out of Cyrodiil, said to be the very first empire in Tamriel. At least some of their success is credited to worshiping the Daedra, including some of the traditionally "bad" Daedra. This led their mighty empire down some very dark paths, including the enslavement and vile torture of the Nedes, human ancestors to many of the modern races of Men. The "moth eyes", Moth Priests who study the Elder Scrolls, warned them that their hubris would "bear bitter fruit." The Ayleids ignored this, and their hubris would indeed lead to their downfall when their Nedic slaves rose up and overthrew their Ayleid masters, eventually driving them to extinction.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: With a few exceptions, this is generally the case throughout the series and in the backstory for a Vampire's friends and family.
  • I Have Many Names:
    • The series' various deities all have many names, often being called different ones depending on the culture and their religious traditions. One of the most prominent examples is Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god of Mundus, the mortal plane, who exists in some form in every culture's Creation Myth. He is Lorkhan for most Elven pantheons (which translates to "Doom Drum" in old Aldmeris), Shor for the Nords, Sheor for the Bretons, Sep for the Redguards, Shezarr for the Imperials, Lorkhaj for the Khajiit, LKHAN to the Dunmer... The list goes on... For a full list for each deity, see the Elder Scrolls: Divine Beings character page.
    • From the backstory, Tiber Septim was the Founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who ascended after his death as Talos, the Ninth Divine. He was known by many names, including Tiber Septim, Talos Stormcrownd, Hjalti Early-Beard, Ysmir Dragon of the North, Wulf, and others. There is even debate regarding which of these was his birth name, as Septim has a Multiple-Choice Past further complicated by Imperial propaganda and even a Cosmic Retcon which may have made his multiple conflicting pasts all true, regardless of the conflicts.
  • I Have Your Wife: The Dunmeri Great House Telvanni is practically a breeding ground for Evil Sorcerers and Mad Scientists thanks to its rather lax rules. Telvanni Mage-Lords have been known to kidnap the wives, daughters, and other family members of their rivals in order to influence them.
  • I Know You Know I Know: During the Alessian Revolt, this plays out in a bizarre, metaphysical way between Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Aedra, and Pelinal Whitestrake, the physical manifestation ("Shezarrine") of the spirit of the "dead" creator god, Lorkhan, who was sent to be Alessia's divine "champion" in her war against the (primarily) Daedra-worshiping Ayleids. Pelinal was aware that Akatosh knew just how insane he was and could always feel Akatosh's burning gaze upon him. Crosses over with Teeth-Clenched Teamwork for Akatosh and Rage Against the Heavens for Pelinal, as Pelinal, being a Shezarrine, is the physical incarnation of Lorkhan's soul. During the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane, Lorkhan convinced/tricked (depending on the storyteller) the et'Ada ("original spirits") who would become the Aedra (including Akatosh) into sacrificing large portions of their divine power to create Mundus. In revenge for this perceived treachery, the Aedra killed Lorkhan, tore out his "divine center" (heart), and cast it down into the world he created where his spirit would be forced to wander. Akatosh considered it a "moment of weakness" when he went with Lorkhan's plan to create Mundus and likely still harbors a grudge. When Pelinal went too far in one of his berserker fits of rage and damaged the lands themselves, Akatosh and the other divines nearly left Mundus in disgust until they were placated by Alessia. To quote The Song of Pelinal:
    Pelinal: "O Aka, for our shared madness I do this! I watch you watching me watching back!"
  • I Know Your True Name:
    • It it stated that all Daedra have both a neonymic and a protonymic. The neonymic is their name that they can change. It holds a certain amount of power, but is hard to use against them because they can change it at any time. However, the protonymic is their true name that they cannot change. It is heavily implied that through use of the protonymic mortals can do horrible things to even the most powerful of Daedric Princes. The Player Character in the Battlespire spinoff game manages to banish Mehrunes Dagon through using them both.
    • In a Downplayed version, shouting a dragon's name using the Thu'um is viewed as a challenge to that dragon; it will usually seek out whoever made the shout out of curiosity and honor, but is under no compulsion to do so.
  • I Lied: This is a trait of Molag Bal, Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption and the closest thing to a true God of Evil in the ES universe. He ultimately does not keep his word with his minions. "Rewards" are given solely for the purpose of creating a more useful or obedient minion, and remaining in his service will ultimately result in the servant only being rewarded with slavery and endless torment.
  • Illegal Religion:
    • During the reign of the Tribunal in Morrowind, all other religions were effectively illegal. While a term in the Armistice (which joined Morrowind to the Empire as a Voluntary Vassal) forced them to allow the Imperial Nine Divines religion to practice within Morrowind, other religions were still effectively banned. Some, like Daedra worship, were even punishable by death.
    • A major cause of the 4th Era Skyrim Civil War. As part of the White-Gold Concordat which ended the Great War between the vestigial Third Tamriellic Empire and the re-formed Aldmeri Dominion (it's third iteration, under Thalmor rule), the worship of Talos, the Ninth Divine, the God of War and Governance, and the Hero God of Mankind, was banned in the Empire. Talos is a Deity of Human Origin, and the ascended god-form of Tiber Septim (possibly among others), who established the Third Empire by conquering Tamriel and shattering the Second Aldmeri Dominion, which left many Mer (Elves) quite angry. To this day, many of them refuse to acknowledge the ascension of Talos as one of the Divines. The ban on Talos worship has driven a wedge between the Empire and Skyrim, Septim's (supposed) homeland, which is aggravated by the Empire permitting the Thalmor to travel freely throughout the Empire (especially Skyrim) to suppress Talos worship and arrest its practitioners (or worse). As it turns out, the ultimate goal of the Thalmor is to destroy Talos by depriving him of worship. The Thalmor follow the extremist Aldmeri religious belief that the creation of the mortal world was a cruel trick by a malevolent god which robbed their divine ancestors of their pre-creation divinity. By destroying Talos, they hope to undo creation, believing that it will allow them to return to that state of pre-creation divinity.
  • Immersive Sim: The series has started down this path without going into full Emergent Gameplay territory as of Oblivion, with the addition of Radiant AI.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: While not "immortal," this seems to be the case for the Long-Lived races of Mer. Mer children seem to age similarly to human children until they reach adulthood, at which point their aging slows down considerably. Queen Barenziah, a Dunmer (Dark Elf), is the most prominent example. Her biographical book series portray her as growing up as a precocious teen and being considered an adult once she was 18 years old. That was nearly 500 years before the events of Morrowind where she's still alive and well, if noticeably aged. One can also meet families of Mer throughout the series where the parents do not look all that much older than their adult children.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Namira is the Daedric Prince of the Ancient Darkness, associated with all things revolting, decay, and disfiguring diseases. She is also the patron of cannibalism, makes sense given her modus operandi, since cannibalism is typically a revolting and grotesque act which is frowned upon in most civilized societies.
    • The Bosmer are required by the Green Pact (a deal they made with the patron deity of their forest homeland) to consume fallen enemies, so that their bodies are not allowed to rot within Valenwood. Bosmer warriors are known to starve themselves for days before battle so that they can eat the remains of whatever enemies they kill (though, as with many other Green Pact rules, this is relaxed for Bosmer outside of Valenwood). Additionally, this practice is said to have faded during the 2nd and 3rd Eras, and is now rarely practiced outside of a few remote villages.
    • The Tsaesci, an Akaviri race of supposed Snake Vampires, are believed to practice this. Once upon a time, a race of Men similar to those in Tamriel lived in Akavir. However, they were "devoured" by the Tsaesci and are now extinct. (Other sources regarding the Tsaesci use "devour" and "enslave" interchangeably, so "devoured" may be a metaphor for enslavement and/or cultural absorption.)
    • This is rumored to be true of the Giants. There are reports of Giants eating members of the sapient races, though other sources dispute these reports, with one expert claiming to have "never seen a giant eat a Nord."
    • This is also rumored to be true of the Minotaur race. A common belief is that Minotaurs are man-eaters, but evidence for this belief is scant. However, in the other direction, Minotaur meat has been known to be consumed by other races and is a key ingredient in the dish slumgullion stew. (Minotaurs are believed to be a sapient beast race along the lines of the Argonians and Khajiit, which makes eating them akin to cannibalism.)
    • Ogres are also reported to eat people. They are known to then place decorative piles of humanoid bones around their lairs.
    • Human Flesh is an alchemical ingredient which appears in several games in the series. Eating raw ingredients is a recommended way in the series to learn their alchemical properties. There's also a Human Heart as well (and yes, it's an ingredient just like Human Flesh).
  • Immortality Immorality:
    • This is the case with the Tribunal's initial act of obtaining immortality. The Tribunal, a trio of Dunmeri Physical Gods who used Dwemeri tools to tap into the still-beating Heart of Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god of Mundus, the mortal plane. They (along with Big Bad Dagoth Ur) were instructed by their leader, Lord Indoril Nerevar, to never use the "profane" tools. Depending on the version of the story, they, at the very least betrayed Nerevar (and his Daedric patron Azura) by using the tools on the Heart to achieve godhood. (Vivec even admits directly to this part.) Other versions of the story make them seem even more immoral, with them outright killing Nerevar so that he could not stop them from tapping into the Heart.
    • The 4th Era iteration of the Aldmeri Dominion, now under the leadership of the extremist Thalmor, have this going on. The Thalmor play up the Altmeri religious belief that the creation of the mortal world was a cruel trick which robbed their ancestors of their pre-creation divinity and forced them to experience mortal loss and suffering. They've banned the worship of Talos, the ascended divine form of Tiber Septim (and possibly others), with the justification that they do not believe a human could become a god. The real reason is even deeper, though. They (perhaps rightly) believe that Talos is one of the last things keeping the mortal world extant. By depriving him of worship, they hope to "kill" him so that the world will be unmade, and they can return to their pre-creation divine forms. Their rhetoric, backstory, and imagery have a distinct Nazi-ish vibe, and their methods involve large-scale murder of humans and even other elves who disagree with them.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Mantella and the Heart of Lorkhan are both capable of bestowing immortality on those who tap into their power. They are, respectively, an immensely powerful soul gem containing the soul of a Shezarrine and the still-beating heart of a dead god, respectively. It is implied that those gaining immortality from these objects are essentially tapping into the immorality of the source god (Shezarr/Lorkhan).
  • Immortality Seeker:
    • According to old Aldmeri religious beliefs, the creation of Mundus was a cruel trick by the malevolent deity Lorkhan which forced limitation upon the other et'Ada ("original spirits"), robbing them of their Complete Immortality and trapping in the prison of mortal suffering that is Mundus. As the Aldmer (and through them, the Altmer) believe that they are they descendants of these spirits, they are constantly both suffering with dignity (as their Top God, Auri-El, taught them) while looking for a way to restore that which was taken from them. This is the motivation of the religious extremist Thalmor in the 4th Era, attempting undo creation to return their spirits to true immortality. (Understandably, the other inhabitants of creation, including other Altmer, see this as a bad thing.)
    • Mannimarco, the King of Worms and infamous Necromancer, is/was one. He became Tamriel's first Lich as a stepping stone toward this goal, and his actions during the Planemeld and Warp in the West were done with this goal in mind. (He succeeded during the Warp in the West...sort of...becoming the God of Worms but also a leaving being the "mortal" King of Worms who worships the God. The two seem to be treated as separate entities.)
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: It's never made clear exactly how long the races of Mer live, but they are evidently more Long-Lived than the races of Men. Thus, the races of Mer have a much lower birth rate, and the fertility of both males and females is greatly reduced, and children are very scarce. Interracial couples are more likely to produce offspring, though - i.e an Elven man would have a considerably higher chance of impregnating a human woman, and an Elven woman would be much more likely to become pregnant from a human man, rather than a man of her own race.
  • Immortals Fear Death:
    • Throughout the series, the lesser Daedra (and even the Daedric Princes to an extent) know they will reform in Oblivion thanks to their Complete Immortality if their physical form is slain. However, it's implied to be an inconvenience they try to avoid and is always described as a horrifying, torturous experience. They also cannot understand mortal minds because of this — the idea that a creature is living a finite life, is aware of this, and yet is not consumed with despair by the knowledge.
    • Dragons, being immortal Aedric entities, can essentially be Mind Raped by being forced to experience mortality. This was weaponized by early mankind during the ancient Dragon Wars in the form of the "Dragonrend" Thu'um Shout (Joor Zah Frul, which translates to Mortal, Finite, Temporary). Dragons hit by the shout grow confused and disoriented, and become unable to fly or attack for a time.
  • Immune to Fate: The series' lore has the concept of "heroes", individuals with a special fate and the ability to rule their own destiny, often being capable of growing far more powerful than other mortals. These heroes are tied to the prophecies of the Elder Scrolls themselves, but are not bound by them. Naturally, the Player Character in each game in the series is considered to be such a "hero", as are many of the Long Dead Badasses mentioned in the lengthy backstory.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
  • Imperfect Ritual: Pops up a few times in the series, typically in regards to objects of immense power and the methods/tools required to tap into them. Naturally, NPCs involved with these objects tend to end up dead (or worse...) A list of specific examples by game is available on the trope page.
  • Impossible Task: According to the developer-written obscure text The Seven Fights of the Aldudagga, this is the case for Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction who serves as either the Big Bad or Greater-Scope Villain for several games in the series. According to the Seven Fights, Dagon was once a kindly demon who attempted to protect parts of Mundus (the mortal world) from being eaten by Alduin at the end of every "kalpa" (cycle of time). Alduin found out and then cursed Dagon with such a task:
    Alduin: "You I curse right here and right now! I take away your ability to jump and jump and jump and doom you to [the void] where you will not be able to leave except for auspicious days long between one and another and even so only through hard, hard work. And it will be this way, my little corner cutter, until you have destroyed all that in the world which you have stolen from earlier kalpas, which is to say probably never at all!"
  • Impossible Theft:
    • Rajhin is the legendary Khajiit hero who became their God of Thievery. Among his accomplishments are stealing the Ring of Khajiit off the arm of the Daedric Prince Mephala, stealing the shadow from a merchant, stealing the tattoo clean off the neck of the Empress Kintyra as she slept, and stealing the entire city of Falenesti. He was said to have abilities like being able to hide in his own shadow as well as move invisibly, silently, and as fast as the wind.
    • The Gray Fox, the legendary leader of the Cyrodiil branch of the Thieves Guild, has many legends such surrounding him, which regard him as an impossible thief who can turn invisible and slip underneath locked doors. The Gray Fox stole his iconic Gray Cowl from the Daedric Prince Nocturnal, making these legends well deserved.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Improbable aiming skills feature heavily in the various archery "skill books" found in-game. These include:
      • One such story describes a revenge-driven archer firing an arrow from up on a hill, across a castle moat, through the keyhole in the castle's front door, and into a portrait of the owner. Repeatedly. Without missing. The notion that he could even see what he was aiming at takes this trope to a ridiculous new level. In another, an archer out for a shooting practise session with his friend fires a shot that goes wide of the target... and ends up hitting the archery trophy on display in the hall of his friend's house in the valley below.
      • Another features a slave who coaches his owner's son on how to hit his target by firing ridiculous wild shots, on the basis that one should get a feel for how arrows fly before bothering to try to hit anything in particular. The father is furious that the slave is not training his son the way he asked, so begins beating the slave. The slave, while being beaten, continues to coach the pupil on taking wild shots straight into the air. The son ultimately scores a perfect hit on the slave's intended target... which, to the pupil's dismay, is the father. In other words, this archer is so good he can line up a perfect shot, with someone else's bow, while being beaten with a stick. "Bullseye!"
      • Yet another features an archer who was famous for never missing a shot fire an arrow at a daedra, who teleports back to Oblivion before it hits, causing the arrow to miss and stick into a tree. Because he missed a shot, the archer loses his fame and dies alone and forgotten, never firing a shot again out of shame; while the daedra becomes somewhat of a celebrity for dodging the arrow, gains worshipers, and has shrines built for him. One year later, he goes inside one of these shrines and the door ends up slamming shut on him, striking him in the back. He feels a sharp pain and looks back to see a rusty arrowhead sticking out of the door. The door was made with wood from the same tree from before. Looks like the archer's shot didn't miss after all!
    • Topal the Pilot, the legendary Aldmeri Bold Explorer who was the first to discover and explore Tamriel, was said to be a "master of archery", and was skilled enough archer to strike the head of a "bat lizard" (believed to be an ancestor of the Cliff Racers) in the head from a distance.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: The Daggerfall intro dialogue reciting how "The unworthy heirs of the Septim Dynasty have allowed the bonds of the Empire to weaken and crack..." Part of it, as well, is the is the ten years that the usurper Jagar Tharn spent on the throne leading up to the events of Arena. Uriel VII is generally considered a very good emperor, but it's hard to keep your empire together when you've been imprisoned and replaced by an imposter.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Nord mythology holds that drinking the blood of a Giant results in "diminution".
  • Incredibly Inconvenient Deity: This is often the case for the Daedric Princes, and the generally unsavory effects that performing their tasks has is a major reason why they are seen as "evil" and "demonic", or, at the very least, as Jerkass Gods. The quests they give to their mortal follows are frequently either incredibly arduous or incredibly silly, with the Princes giving flimsy or no justification as to why they want the task accomplished. The tangible rewards they offer of legendary artifacts and greater power can still make these tasks worthwhile, however. This is most often played up by the Great Gazoo type Princes, predominantly Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. Examples of his quests include killing a giant bull netch with a cursed dinner fork and making it literally rain cats and dogs (which are on fire), for seemingly no other reason that for his amusement. Sheogorath has also been known to kill people for the abhorrent crime of...growing a beard.
  • Indo-European Alien Language:
    • "Dovahzuul", the language of the Dragons, is basically a relexification of English—except without tenses, since the dragons who speak it are timeless beings; what look like tense-constructions are usually either aspect or voice. Its script was invented from scratch — it's cuneiform-esque, based on scratches made with dragon-claws.
    • The Daedric language is simply English spelled with a unique script, though it has variously been written right to left, top to bottom, with the first letter much larger, and even with the characters superimposed on top of one another.
    • The languages of the series' Beast Races tend to sound quite alien and may have some unusual rules, but are actually not all that far off from an Indo-European language. To note:
      • Jel, the language of the Argonians. Unlike the other languages of Men and Mer, it does not descend from Ehlnofex (the language of the Ehlnofey), but rather comes from the Hist. It is unique in that it has no past tense or future tense verbs, only present tense. As such, Argonians tend to live "in the now", easily forgetting and forgiving past offenses while paying little mind to the future. (The possibly Omniscient Hist seem to do that for them, as seen with them foretelling and preparing the Argonians for the Oblivion Crisis and turmoils of the 4th Era.)
      • Ta'agra, the language of the Khajiit. It obviously makes heavy use of the Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër and it famously has no word for "rules," with the closest word, "Thjizzrini", meaning "foolish concepts". This helps to explain the race's difficulty in understanding what constitutes "personal property" and this, unsurprisingly, extends to their methods in battle. They have no qualms with deception, trickery, and even outright fleeing battle if things don't go their way. They are more than willing to abandon their allies (after all, a smart ally would do the same!) or flee a fight if it means that they can turn around and come back later to stab their enemies in the back.
      • The language of the Sload "Slug Men" of Thras. The in-game book "N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!" is a treatise on Necromancy written in the language of the Sload by the legendary Sload necromancer, N'Gasta. It looks downright alien, but is actually a cypher for Esperanto of all things. There is not currently a known in-universe translation, but its real-life translation can be found here.
      "So interreta Kvako (retletera kaj verjheauw) ahkstas unufsonke alternativaj kanasouw por distribui so enhavon so papera Kva! Kvak!"
  • Indy Ploy: This is a common trait for heroes of the Khajiit race, to the point that they even have a god for this concept, Baan Dar. He is commonly attributed with "the genius which lends itself to the creation of last-minute plans to foil the machinations of the Khajiit's foes".
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: You can find food, drinks, and potions in ancient crypts throughout the series, some of which have explicitly been sealed for years with nothing but withered (and occasionally ambulatory) corpses for company. Even those with no bandit presence to explain away the presence of food will still have consumables in them. Feel free to scarf down the half-dozen decades-old potatoes you find if you're low on health, your character won't know the difference. Though you might have sympathetic indigestion.
  • Infallible Babble: Generally played straight throughout the series. If you come upon some lunatic NPC babbling about something, there's a very good chance that he's involved with a quest. A few exceptions do exist, however, and are noted by game on the trope page.
  • Infectious Insanity: Emperor Pelagius the Mad. Infamous for his eccentricities, Pelagius was prone to severe mood swings and outbursts of Axe-Crazy violence. He did not show signs of madness as a child, being perfectly personable. However, his madness crept in when he moved to Castle Solitude, which was still said to be infected by the madness of his aunt, the Wolf Queen Potema.
  • Infinite Stock For Sale: Generally averted throughout the series. Merchants typically have a limited inventory (although, in a few instances, they may sell infinite amounts of some very basic items) and also have a limited amount of gold when selling, meaning you may need to visit several merchants and/or barter in order to unload all of your loot. Merchant inventories and gold typically reset after 24 in-game hours.
  • Infinite Supplies: "Orgnum's Coffer" is an almost weightless chest that produces gold from naught. When Orgnum himself (the King of the [[Maormer (Sea Elves)) possessed the Coffer, the gold it produced was unlimited. In the possession of others, it vanishes after creating a certain amount of gold.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: These exist throughout the series, typically acquired at the end of long, high-level quests. The Daedric artifacts (at least those that are weapons) are the most common, but others are available, and, depending on the game, you can even craft and enchant your own. A list by game is available on the trope page.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Numerous exist throughout the series, with each game typically have at least one for every weapon type. They are typically easier to acquire than their "+1" conterparts. A list by game is available on the trope page.
  • Info Dump: The series has an incredibly rich and complex backstory, so much of the information needed to understand the story of the game is thrown at you in one of these. The games have been getting better about it over time though, blending it in much more seamlessly as you go along. And that's without mentioning all of the side quests and in-game books which are full of even more information that is completely optional to read and learn.
  • In-Game Novel: The series is well known for having a robust background in books and scrolls. These books tend to range wildly in size from 2 page Fictional Documents to full blown mini-novels with over 30 pages, and range from personal journals to ballads to historical texts to short stories, to outright novels. Some of the longest are The Real Barenziah, King Edward, 2920: The Last Year of the First Era, and The 36 Lessons of Vivec. The books are so extensive as to have their own work page.
  • In Harmony with Nature: The Noble Savage Skaal people of the frozen, inhospitable island of Solstheim follow "The Path of the All-Maker." Whatever that is taken from the All-Maker must be repaid somehow. For example, their hunters only kill when absolutely necessary as part of the cycle of life, and never for sport. They only harvest firewood from fallen trees, never cutting down live trees for it.
  • In Mysterious Ways:
  • In Name Only:
    • The series provides an in-universe example in the Thalmor. The infamous "Nazi Elves" who rule the 4th Era Aldmeri Dominion and are hell bent on undoing creation in an attempt to return to a state of pre-creation divinity]] are nothing like the original Thalmor, who were founded to protect the culture, heritage, and history of the Altmeri people in the 1st Era.
    • Another in-universe example is the Cult of the Ancestor Moth. To note:
      • Originally, the Cult was a Cyro-Nordic group that exported ancestor-silks, simple but exotic shawls woven with the silks of the Ancestor Moth and inscribed with the genealogy of the buyer. During the silk-gathering ritual, the singing and hymnal spirits of one's forebears were recorded in the silk. The swishing of the silk material during movement reproduces the wonderful ancestral chorus contained in the silk. At a time lost to history, it was discovered that this same ritual granted the performer special protections which allowed for the (relatively) safe reading of an Elder Scroll. The Cult was co-opted by the various Cyrodiilic Empires to perform this task specifically in service to the Empire ever since. Retired Moth Priests, who have been blinded by repeated readings of the Scrolls, still perform the Order's original task of creating ancestor-silks.
      • The Ayleids also had a group known as the "moth-eyed" who read and interpreted the Elder Scrolls for them. They were a famously Ignored Expert, who warned the Ayleids that their hubris would eventually lead to their downfall. What relation these "moth-eyed" may have had with the Cult beyond their similar function is not known.
  • Innate Night Vision:
    • This is an inherent racial ability of the Khajiit throughout the series.
    • Most Vampire bloodlines are known to have inherent enhanced night vision abilities. If the Player Character in Oblivion or Skyrim becomes a vampire, he/she will also gain this ability. Both games combine this with different versions of Aura Vision that also detect living creatures nearby.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: The Kothringi were a silver-skinned race of Men native to the Black Marsh. They preferred to be naked at all times when in their homeland, even when fighting, but were known to wear clothes when traveling outside of their homeland. They are now presumed to be extinct after being wiped out by the 2nd Era Knahaten Flu.
  • Innocent Flower Girl: Subverted by Dibella, the Aedric Divine Goddess of Beauty. Dibella is associated with elements of innocence, including always being depicted holding a delicate white flower. However, she is also associated with the carnal aspects of sex and worshiping her takes the primary form of sexual acts. Additionally, her followers are known to mock the disfigured and use their sexual charms for means of manipulation.
  • Inn Security: In general throughout the series, renting a room in an inn and sleeping there is uneventful. However, inns associated with certain quests provide a handful of exceptions, as does sleeping in general at certain points during quests. These instances can be found broken down by game on the trope page.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Emperor Pelagius the Mad. Living up to his nickname, he was both utterly insane and, especially later in his life, prone to outbursts of Axe-Crazy violence due to his insanity. After his madness became too publicly apparent, he was institutionalized and died only a few years later.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • The Breton race is sometimes referred to as "Manmer" due to their Man and Mer mixed ancestry.
    • The Orcs are frequently derogatorily referred to as "pig men" or "pig children." Other than some of their facial features (including flat noses and sometimes tusks), they have no relation to pigs and are actually a sub-species of Mer.
    • The Nords are sometimes referred to derogatorily as "snow men" or "sons of snow," after their Grim Up North homeland of Skyrim.
    • Members of the Senche and Senche-raht Khajiit sub-species are referred to as "battlecats," as they are quadrupeds the size of large tigers who allow their kinsmen to use them as steeds in times of war.
    • The Argonians are on both the receiving and giving ends of this. The Argonians get several of these from the other races, most of them derogatory, such as Lizard Men and just plain "Lizards." The word "filthy" often precedes them. The Argonians themselves often refer to the other races as "landstriders" (more politely) or "prey" (in a more negative sense).
  • Insistent Terminology: Dremora are an intelligent race of lesser Daedra who are most commonly found in the service of Mehrunes Dagon as his Legions of Hell. Though they are commonly referred to as "Dremora", they prefer to identify themselves as "The Kyn", which translates to "The People" in the Daedric language. This is because they consider themselves superior and more intelligent than the other lesser Daedra, which they see as little more than mindless beasts.
  • Instant Armor: The "Bound Armor" spell is available throughout most of the series and has this effect. It is a Conjuration spell which temporarily summons a set of Daedric armor for the caster. Flavor text variously implies that the armor is either made out of pure Magicka or is summoned from Oblivion itself (much like summoning actual lesser Daedra). It can quickly de-squishify your Squishy Wizard.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!:
    • For a series that otherwise stays pretty well within the classic Medieval European Fantasy ball park (with a few twists), it may come as a surprise that dragons were not actually present in any game in the main series prior to Skyrimnote , with a single dragon appearing in the spin-off game, Redguard. They once existed within Tamriel, but it is stated that they were driven to extinction in a concerted effort by the Akaviri Dragonguard, and later, the Blades (spawned off of the Dragonguard), centuries prior to the timeline of the main series of games. (The dragon of Redguard, Nafaalilargus, was spared at the time because he was willing to aid mortals, and later came into the service of Tiber Septim.) Further details can be found on the trope page.
    • The series also has two draconic divine beings: the Aedric Top God and God of Time, Akatosh, and the Daedric Prince of Pestilence and Tasks, Peryite. Additional details about them can be found on the trope page.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: For a series that, while incredibly detailed and original in many aspects, generally stays within the ballpark of a Medieval European Fantasy, one would not expect to find a Reality Warping Humongous Mecha like the Numidium playing such a significant part in the backstory and Daggerfall's main quest. The Dwemer were also fond of creating other mechas, ranging from "humongous" to person-sized Mecha-Mooks.
  • Instant Expert:
    • Downplayed throughout the series in that you can generally equip any type of weapon or armor as soon as you find it, however, if you don't have the skills to use it properly, you'll find it difficult to actually hit/damage enemies with said weapons and you'll receive far less protection from said armor.
    • In-universe, anyone willing to devote themselves to a lifetime of training can learn to use the reality warping language of the Dragons, the Thu'um. What makes those who are Dragonborn special is that they have an instinctive knowledge of the Thu'um and can learn its shouts very easily. This is because the Dragonborn are mortals born with the immortal Aedric soul of a Dragon.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Generally averted throughout the series for actual keys. Most keys are unique (or there exist several copies of one key) and only open a single lock (or locks within the same location). However, this is played straight with lockpicks. Depending on the game, the lockpick can be used on nearly any lock, but will break after either a certain number of uses or if you fail during the Lockpicking Minigame.
  • Interface Spoiler: Throughout the series, if you find a NPC with unusual dialogue options, even if they don't cause anything to happen at that time, odds are they will be involved with a quest at some point in the future. The same is also true if the NPC simply lacks the usual dialogue options.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: Following the series' 3D Leap in Morrowind, it is possible for the player to place inventory items in houses (played owned or otherwise). However, the wonky physics system added in Oblivion made it outright impossible to place more than one item anywhere in a room without knocking everything else about. Thankfully, modders came to the rescue creating mods specifically to make decorating your house easier. Come Skyrim, Bethesda incorporated some of the ideas from the mods such as wall mounts, weapon racks, armor mannequins, and bookshelves, as well as outright hiring some of the Oblivion modders, making this process much easier.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The Morag Tong is a legal (at least within Morrowind) assassin's guild sanctioned by the Dunmeri government who operate in service to Mephala, the Daedric Prince associated with manipulation, murder, betrayal, and sex. As devout followers of Mephala, members of the Morag Tong are encouraged to mix sex, betrayal, and murder together. This makes them excellent Femme Fatale and Lady Killer assassins.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Each game starting with Morrowind features an in-game semi-pornographic play titled The Lusty Argonian Maid. In it, the main character, an Imperial (human) named "Crantus Colto", is looking to get his "spear polished" by the titular Argonian (Lizard Folk) maid. Skyrim introduces a sequel, as well as a Gender Flipped version for the ladies (The Sultry Argonian Bard).
    • The Real Barenziah, tells the story of the future queen of Morrowind and Wayrest, Barenziah. In it, she (a Dunmer) has sex with a Khajiit (Cat Folk) named Therris so that he will induct her into the Thieves' Guild. (As is the case with real life felines, Khajiit males have sharp spines on their penises, as Barenziah finds out the hard way.) Later, Barenziah has an affair with the human Emperor Tiber Septim, and becomes pregnant by him. (As a bastard child with a Dunmer mistress would be very inconvenient for the Emperor, he orders Barenziah to have a magical abortion.) The book The Last Scabbard of Akrash provides another Dunmer/Khajiit example, though it is less detailed about the actual act.
    • The in-game book Interspecies Phylogeny discusses this trope from a scholarly perspective. It is stated that each race of Men (Imperial, Breton, Redguard, Nord) and Mer ("Elves" - Altmer, Dunmer, Bosmer) can indeed interbreed, with the race of the offspring being virtually identical to the mother (averting All Genes Are Codominant) with a few of the father's traits potentially sprinkled in. For example, if an Altmer father and Nord mother produce a child, it wouldn't be a Magic Knight combination of each race. Instead, the child would be almost entirely Nord with the potential of having slight points to his ears or a slightly different skin tone. Over many generations, however, this can result in offspring closer to Half-Human Hybrids. This is in fact how the Bretons got their start as a race, with their (human) ancestors being Breeding Slaves to the Direnni Altmer of High Rock. Further, it notes that although there are tales of human or elf having children with the other races, there are no confirmed reports (Oblivion confirms via first-hand evidence that at least Orcs, who are the Orsimer, or "Changed Elves", can have children with humans (and presumably other elves). As can Cyrodiil-style vampires).
    • The Tsaesci, a race supposedly made up of "snake vampires" hailing from Akavir who once invaded Tamriel, supposedly left behind offspring with the Tamriellic races who are considered "beautiful, if frightening." (Other sources indicate that the Tsaesci are men little different from those in Tamriel, downplaying the trope if true.)
    • St. Alessia, the Slave Queen who overthrew the Ayleids ("Wild Elves") to found the first Cyrodiilic Empire of Men, was romantically involved with Morihaus, an et'Ada who took on the form of a great humanoid, winged bull. They eventually gave birth to what would become the Minotaur race.
    • In the religion of the Nine Divines, Mara, the Love Goddess of the Nine Divines (with a focus on on commitment, family, fertility, and matrimony compared to Dibella's (another Divine) focus on the carnal and sexual aspects of love) does not place any restrictions on marriage within the religion of the Nine Divines, thus all may marry, irrespective of gender and race, and unite their souls in the holy union.
  • In the Hood:
    • The Daedric Prince Boethiah (whether in male or female form) most often takes the appearance of a caped Black Knight. The statue depictions of Boethiah's female form in Skyrim and Online both have her wearing such a hood.
    • Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night who is also associated with Thieves and Luck, has been depicted with a hood in each appearance in the series to date.
    • Hoods and cowls are traditional attire for members of the Dark Brotherhood, an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The series has had an internal clock since Daggerfall. The time scale varies by game, ranging from one in-game hour equaling anywhere from 2 to 3.5 real-world minutes. (This causes in-game days to last anywhere from 48-84 real-life minutes.) The series also has Wait and Rest mechanics which allow you to fast forward the game time.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: The series in general has a very basic version with a character weight limit, known as "Encumbrance". Included toward this limit are any items you have equipped (weapons, armor, clothing, etc.) as well as any in your inventory. Each game has its own quirks (noted on the trope page) but in general, going over the limit means that you won't be able to carry anything more and/or may no longer even be able to move. This limit can be increased by boosting your Strength or by using certain spells, such as Feather, which decreases your current carry weight. In some games, certain perks apply which can decrease or outright negate the weight of your equipped items (particularly armor).
  • Invincible Hero:
    • This is said to be a trait of Zenithar, the Aedric Divine God of Work and Commerce. His followers specifically call him "the god who will always win", and he stands to gain from any action. He is also described as a "warrior god", though "one who is restrained and reserved in times of peace". He also has traits of being a Reasonable Authority Figure and preaches the benefits of being an Honest Corporate Executive.
    • The HoonDing is the Yokudan (Precursors of the Redguards) spirit of perseverance over infidels and the "Make Way" god. The HoonDing has historically manifested whenever it is needed to "make way" for the Yokudan/Redguard people. It usually manifests as a weapon that can destroy any enemy, but it can also manifest itself using mortal avatars. According to some interpretations, these avatars aren't necessarily the HoonDing itself, but the HoonDing taking over and/or working through the avatar. The key feature of the HoonDing is that no matter what, nothing will stop it from making way.
  • Invisibility:
    • The series generally has this available in two flavors: The Invisibility effect and the Chameleon effect. This Invisibility effect makes the player character completely invisible for a set duration, but the effect ends as soon as the player performs an action other than simply moving. (Interacting with an object, attacking, casting a spell, etc.) The Chameleon effect offers a percentage of partial invisibility, making it harder for NPCs to detect the PC. The effect also does not end if the PC performs an action. Unlike Invisibility, Chameleon can be made a permanent effect via enchantments, and getting permanent 100% Chameleon—which makes the player fully invisible—is considered a Game-Breaker. (Both in the sense that it makes the game ludicrously easy, and in the sense that, if the effect cannot be "turned off", it breaks the game by making impossible to advance since you won't be able to interact with NPCs.)
    • Invisibility is a spell commonly used by Tamriel's various vampire bloodlines. Whether it is an inherent ability or simply using the Vampire's enhanced abilities in the Illusion-school of magic varies. There are also vampire bloodlines who have the ability to see invisible enemies as an inherent trait.
    • The Ring of Khajiiti, a legendary Daedric artifact associated with the Daedric Prince Mephala, grants the wearer invisibility along with enhanced speed and silent movement. It is said that the Ring was stolen off the arm of Mephala by the legendary Khajiiti Impossible Thief, Rajhin, who used its powers to take his thievery skills Up to Eleven.
  • Invisibility Cloak: In several games, it is possible to enchant the Chameleon effect onto armor, clothing, and/or jewelry. The Chameleon effect makes it harder for NPCs to detect the player. The effect can range from 1%-100%, with the chance of NPC detection decreasing the higher the percentage. Enchanting multiple pieces of equipment with the effect can quickly reach Game Breaker levels, as enemy NPCs will be unable to interact with you in any way, allowing you steal from or assassinate whoever you want with total impunity. If certain exploits are used to make the effect permanent, it can also be a Game Breaker in another way, in that it breaks the game by making impossible to advance since you won't be able to interact with NPCs.
  • Invisibility with Drawbacks: The series traditionally has two types of Invisibility spell: Invisibility itself and Chameleon. To note:
    • Invisibility makes the player character completely invisible for a set duration, but the effect ends as soon as the player performs an action other than simply moving. (Interacting with an object, attacking, casting a spell, picking a lock, etc.)
    • Chameleon only turns you invisible by a percentage and has a higher Magicka cost, but will remain in effect for the spell's entire duration. This makes it particularly potent when combined with custom spells or enchanting.
  • Invisible to Normals: Glowing golden eyes are implied to be a trait of all Vampires. However, it's also implied that this is a trait which is Invisible To Normals, and can only be seen by certain other supernatural beings (such as the Dragonborn of Skyrim).
  • Involuntary Shapeshifter:
    • In every game starting with Daggerfall, the Player Character can catch one of the diseases which leads to vampirism and then undergo this to become a Vampire. After this happens, you risk damage (or at least weakness) from sunlight and, depending on the specific vampire bloodline, either magically drain health from NPCs or drink blood from sleeping NPCs. Ehile the transformation itself is still involuntary, starting with Oblivion it is possible to avert Glamour Failure and maintain The Masquerade by feeding regularly, which allows you to maintain a mortal appearance.
    • This is also true for becoming a werewolf in each game where it is possible, with the exception of Skyrim (as the particular type of lycanthropy there allows for voluntary transformations).
  • Iron Butt Monkey: The Orcs have long suffered as a Butt-Monkey race. Their bestial appearance and "barbaric" culture (as it is perceived by the other races of Tamriel) make them frequent victims of Fantastic Racism. Several times the Orcs have tried to unite and create their own city-state known as Orsinium, but each time, their neighboring nations (the Bretons of High Rock and Redguards of Hammerfell) have forced them to abandon it. By the 4th Era, the Orcs were forced at swordpoint by the Bretons to officially renounce the kingdom of Orsinium and assimilate into High Rock as slaves in all but name. Only a few Orc tribes still live independently in destitute, scattered "strongholds", scorned by all. Notably, their patron deity, the Daedric Prince Malacath, teaches them to take these trials in stride, as he preaches "strength through adversity."
  • Ironic Hell:
    • In the backstory, Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, grew powerful in a time before recorded history. The other Daedric Princes, fearful and jealous of his growing power, came together and cursed him into becoming his own antithesis: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. At the end of every Era, Jyggalag is able to return to his true form in an event known as the Greymarch. During this time, he retakes and destroys the Shivering Isles (his old realm, now Sheogorath's), only to return to the form of Sheogorath at the end. (In Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion, Jyggalag devises a plan to finally break this Vicious Cycle while passing the mantle of Sheogorath onto the Champion of Cyrodiil.
    • Similarly, this is the case for Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, along with And I Must Scream. Dagon exists to destroy, but is stuck in his realm of Oblivion where nothing can ever be killed or destroyed without eventually coming back, effectively negating his purpose for being. No wonder he wants so badly to take over and destroy Mundus; it would be stress relief for him. Even worse, in The Seven Fights of the Aldudagga, it is implied that Alduin originally cursed Dagon into this state in the first place as a punishment for hiding parts of earlier kalpas from him.
    Alduin: "You I curse right here and right now! I take away your ability to jump and jump and jump and doom you to [the void] where you will not be able to leave except for auspicious days long between one and another and even so only through hard, hard work. And it will be this way, my little corner cutter, until you have destroyed all that in the world which you have stolen from earlier kalpas, which is to say probably never at all!"
  • Irony:
    • Gaiden Shinji was a legendary hero of the Redguard people. He was also a Master Swordsman and leader of the Order of Diagna. His famous credo states that "the best techniques are passed on by the survivors". Ironically, he was not actually one of the "survivors", though he fell in battle not for his techniques failing, but due to treachery.
    • Topal the Pilot was an Aldmeri Bold Explorer and poet, and was the first to discover and explore Tamriel during the Merethic Era, encountering primitive versions of the Khajiit and Argonians, as well as a now extinct race of bird people. His story was compiled into an epic known as Father of the Niben, but most of it was lost over the centuries. Tamriel's Topal Bay and Cyrodiil's Niben River system bare his name and the name of his ship, but ironically, he only explored them by mistake. After existing Black Marsh, while trying to get back home to Firsthold, he mistook the "jutting peninsula" of Elsweyr as the mainland sailed north into the Bay and River. Had he known that was a peninsula and sailed around it, he would have gotten home much sooner and never would have explored central Cyrodiil, his most famous accomplishment.
  • Irrelevant Importance: With the addition of "Quest Items" starting with Oblivion, a bug sometimes causes quest-related items to retain that status after the quest is completed. This is both good and bad: On the one hand, quest items are weightless. On the other hand, you can't get rid of them, leaving them to permanently clutter your inventory.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Standard for the series. The vast majority of the Loads and Loads of Sidequests offered are completley irrelevent to the main quest. From the opposite perspective, this is also true for the main quest itself. As soon as the Sandbox is opened, you can move away from the main quest and spend hundreds of hours on everything else the game in question has to offer. Some of the series' faction questlines are nearly as expansive as the main quest itself and can keep you occupied for a while on their own. That said, the majority of the main quests in the series have in-universe reasons for why you shouldn't Take Your Time.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, utilizes this. Almost every sentence out of his mouth is a taunt to remind a person how insignificant they are compared to him. He is the Lord of Domination, after all, rather justifying it.
  • It Amused Me:
    • This seems to be the primary motivation for Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism. He seems to exist for the purpose of tempting mortals into sin through various vices, and his Myriad Realms of Revelry in Oblivion constantly reform to become the pleasure paradise of whoever is visiting.
    • While Sanguine is a prime example, this seems to be the modus operandi for quite a few of the Daedric Princes. Molag Bal does much of what he does simply For the Evulz, while Boethia is a card carrying backstabber who will start fights to the death between his follwers simply because he is bored. And if Sheogorath is involved, chances are this trope will be invoked. Or not, it depends on his mood, really. When he gives you the Wabbajack, it's probably just because he wants to see what you'll do with it.
  • It Can Think: In his "opus", series' recurring character St. Jiub the Eradicator recounts his quest to eradicate the much reviled Cliff Racers from Vvardenfell. As he was hunting a lone Cliff Racer, it led him into a trap where hundreds of Cliff Racers suddenly descended upon him. Two days of fighting and hundreds of dead Cliff Racers later, Jiub finally collapsed, exhausted and wounded. He would have died if not for the timely rescue of the Dunmeri Physical God Vivec, who was so impressed with Jiub's actions that Vivec declared him to be a saint.
  • Item Crafting: Enchanting items with magical spell effects has been part of the series since Daggerfall, as has the series Alchemy system. Skyrim adds, for the first time in the series, the ability to forge your own weapons and armor for the first time. By possessing the required raw ingredients, as well as the requisite skill level and perks, it is possible to forge (or improve upon) weapons and armor that are much stronger than what you'd be able to find or loot at your level.
  • It's All About Me: Throughout the series, this is a trait of Meridia, a Daedric Prince whose sphere is obscured to mortals, but is associated with Life Energy, Light, and Beauty. Meridia describes herself as compassionate and merciful, and her actions do (generally) benefit mortals, but she won't hesitate to use or sacrifice her own followers for what she perceives to be a greater end. If said followers lose faith or abandon her because of her actions, her compassion disappears entirely and she will allow or even cause them to meet a terrible end.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: Several games in the series force you up structures with large amounts of stairs at at least one point during the main quest, and often other times as well. Specific main series examples can be found on the trope page.
  • It's Always Spring: Happens due to Gameplay and Story Segregation starting with Morrowind. Officially, there are seasons (the names of the months are derived from agricultural practices and meteorological phenomenon, e.g. First Seed, Last Seed, Frost Fall, etc., and correspond to real world months), but in the games, the season is apparently keyed to the location rather than the time of year. (For example, Morrowind always has a late spring/early summer feel, Oblivion has more of a height-of-summer feel everywhere but the northernmost regions, Skyrim always has a late autumn/early winter feel.)
  • It's Personal: Pelinal Whitestrake was the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker. Believed to have been a Shezarrine, physical incarnations of the spirit of the "dead" creator god Lorkhan (known to the Imperials as "Shezarr"), Pelinal came to St. Alessia to serve as her divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. Pelinal would fly into fits of Unstoppable Rage (mostly directed at the Ayleids) during which he would be stained with their blood and left so much carnage in his wake that Kyne, one of the Divines, would have to send in her rain to cleanse Ayleid forts and village before they could be used by Alessia's forces. When Huna, a grain slave Pelinal had raised to hoplite, was killed by the arrow of an Ayleid king, Pelinal went so berserk that he not only slew the Ayleids in the kingdom responsible, but erased their lands from the world. The Divines were so disgusted with his actions that they nearly left the world if not for Alessia making sacrifices to regain their favor.
  • It's Probably Nothing :The series in general crosses this over with heaps of Artificial Stupidity when it comes to NPCs. As the AI has improved and gotten more sophisticated over the course the series, this trope in particular has started to become downplayed, but it still extant. It is possible, for example, to be sneaking, fire an arrow, strike an enemy NPC, have them fail to detect you, and then hear them dismiss the arrow stuck in their back as "the wind".
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Being The Chosen One in the ES universe, as the Player Characters of the various games usually are, comes with some awesome benefits but can also really suck at times. Typically, everyone around you wants to use you to their own ends, and that doesn't just include mortals. It's rare that a Chosen One isn't being actively manipulated by at least one, and usually several, of the universe's many deities. Finally, while the Chosen One may perform their duty, their actions almost always have Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! consequences by the next game in the series.
  • It's Up to You: Played straight in general throughout the series. In many, many cases, it's almost as if Quest Givers are simply waiting around for the Player Character to come along. Granted, this can be considered Justified by the fact that the player character is always the Hero of the Age, foretold by prophecy and "blessed" with the ability to rule their own fate (also the justification for the players involvement), so effectively superhuman.
  • I Want Them Alive: The series' mythology provides a non-outright-villainous example. In the old Nordic religious tradition, Stuhn (their aspect of Stendarr, the Aedric Divine God of Mercy and Justice), was a shield-thane to Shor (their aspect of Lorkhan), who was a "bloodthirsty warrior king". Stuhn was specifically the god of taking prisoners alive for ransom.

    J 
  • Jerkass: Plenty of examples throughout the series. This is particularly common among the Daedra, both the Daedric Princes (who are mostly Jerkass Gods) and sapient lesser Daedra (who mostly consider themselves to be a Superior Species to Puny Earthling mortals).
  • Jerkass Genie:
    • The series has Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes, who is this trope at his most malevolent. Crossing over with Deal with the Devil, Clavicus Vile loves making deals with mortals that they later come to regret. Vampires pray to him for a cure to their affliction? Vile has a hero come along and Mercy Kill them all. A man wants to cure his daughter of lycanthropy? Vile gives him an enchanted axe to put her out of her misery. Pray to him for the power to "crush your enemies"? Vile will turn you into a weapon. Clavicus Vile is usually accompanied an "external conscience" named Barbas, who typically takes the form of a Big, Friendly Dog. With Barbas, Vile tends to be a bit less malevolent, coming closer to a Literal Genie. However, following the events of Oblivion, in which his quest ends with him possessing an artifact weapon capable of splitting he and Barbas, he became much more malevolent. This is rectified in his Skyrim quest.
    • The Ideal Masters are immortal beings who were once powerful mortal sorcerers during the Merethic Era. After finding their mortal forms to be too weak and limiting, they entered Oblivion as beings of pure energy and settled an area of "chaotic creatia", forming the Soul Cairn. The Ideal Masters are most infamous for their trafficking in souls, especially "Black" sapient souls. All souls trapped in soul gems end up in the Soul Cairn and are considered property of the Ideal Masters. Individuals seeking power, especially mortal necromancers, have long contacted the Ideal Masters. The Ideal Masters grant it in exchange for souls, which often includes the soul of the necromancer themselves. (Though the necromancer may not be aware of this fact as the Ideal Masters are Manipulative Bastards who often get what they want through Exact Words and You Didn't Ask.)
  • Jack-of-All-Stats:
    • Throughout the series, as race/class merely makes certain skills start higher and level faster than the rest (rather than determine which skills are available), many Player Characters of all races wind up as this—if a warrior casts some spells or sneaks around a bit, he can get pretty good at the mage and/or thief type skills too. Can go into Master of All territory if the player employs efficient leveling.
    • Out of the playable races, the Dunmer (Dark Elves) and Imperials are the most balanced overall. To note:
      • The Dunmer are equally proficient in various Combat, Magic, and Stealth classes. They get bonuses to assorted skills in each class type which don't overlap or conflict. They are highly adaptable and make for good cross-class builds as well, especially offensively oriented ones.
      • Imperials are outclassed in just about every skill category by at least 2-3 other races each, however, they also lack the deficiencies of those races as well, making them a very diverse and accessible race to play as. Their bonuses make them good diplomat-style characters who can back that up with solid cross-class combat ability.
    • In terms of classes (prior to Skyrim at least), Spellswords are described as the Jack of All Stats among classes. Spellswords combine skills from the Combat, Magic, and Stealth categories in roughly equal number. Dunmer make the best Spellswords according to canonical lore, and game mechanics support it with a good balance of their skills, making them the best suited from the earliest levels.
    • In-universe, this is one of the strengths of the Imperial Legion, along with being Boring, but Practical. Specialists aside, the bulk of the Legion is made up of Imperial soldiers. They lack the magical prowess of the Altmer or Bretons, the physical strength of the Nords or Orcs, the propensity for stealth of the Khajiit, the propensity for marksmanship of the Bosmer, and the strength in guerilla warfare of the Argonians. However, the Legion also lacks the weaknesses of those other races as well. The only one that compares to the adaptability of the Legion are the Dunmer, who lack the unity and sheer numbers possessed by the Legion.
  • Jerkass Gods: Throughout the series, the Daedric Princes qualify (when they aren't crossing into full-on God of Evil territory). The Daedric Princes are the most powerful of the Daedric beings, immortal entities who existed prior to the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane, and who did not sacrifice any of their power to help create Mundus (as the Aedra did). While your average denizen of Tamriel (along with less knowledgeable fans of the series) may see them as being Demons, scholars in-universe and out are quick to point out that they are really beings Above Good and Evil who operate on a Blue and Orange Morality in line with their spheres of influence. Whether they are seen as "good" or "evil" by mortals really boils down to how benevolent or malevolent their actions toward mortals are. Some seem to genuinely care about their mortal followers (but may not always be "nice" toward them) while other see them as little more than disposable play things. To note a few specific examples:
    • Azura, Daedric Prince of Dusk and Dawn, is generally seen as one of the most benevolent of the Daedric Princes. She is known to watch over her loyal and obedient followers and acts largely as a Big Good in the main quest of Morrowind. However, she is known to have a petty streak and is a big fan of gaining Disproportionate Retribution. In the past, when the advisors of her champion, Nerevar, went against her wishes by using the profane Tools of Kagrenac on the Heart of Lorkhan to become the Physical Gods of the Tribunal, she cursed the entire race of the Chimer ("shining elves") by turning them into the red-eyed, ashen-skin Dunmer ("dark elves"). She also prophesied the reincarnation of Nerevar who would cast down the "false gods". In the plot of Morrowind, it's revealed that the Nerevarine may not actually be Nerevar's reincarnation, but simply a convenient Unwitting Pawn for Azura to get her revenge on the Tribunal. Due in no small part to the actions of the Nerevarine (as guided by Azura), a series of disasters strike Morrowind, rendering much of it uninhabitable with the rest taken over by the Dunmer's long time Slave Race, the Argonians. "Good" Is Not Nice with Azura, indeed. Further, there is evidence that Azura is more of a True Neutral, concerned with maintaining some sort of metaphysical balance. Her actions just happen to benefit mortals more often than not by stopping divine threats.
    • Meridia, the Daedric Prince associated with the "energy of living things," is another who is generally considered "good," but has some very jerkass qualities as well. She has a hatred of all things undead and seeks to rid them from the world, which is usually a good thing for living mortals. Additionally, she's a main opposer of Molag Bal, probably the closest to an actual God of Evil among the Daedric Princes, and his motives are never benevolent toward mortals. Despite this, she can be a bit of a Knight Templar in her actions, is a fan of Disproportionate Retribution for those who wrong her, backed the Obviously Evil Umaril the Unfeathered in the backstory and in the Knights Of The Nine expansion, and is a seething Narcissist about it all.
    • Sheogorath, Daedric Prince of Madness, is every bit as unpredictable as his title may imply. He may be the Daedric Prince most active in aiding his followers, and in every appearance is shown to care about them deeply. However, he is completely insane. Seemingly at random, he can fluctuate between being a Jerkass God, a Great Gazoo, an Incredibly Inconvenient Deity, and an Omnicidal Maniac. He's been known to hurl celestial bodies at those who've offended him, or simply make cheese rain from the sky on a whim.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, has been known to vacation in the minds of the insane. You get the opportunity to enter the minds of others at a couple of points in the series as well.
  • The Juggernaut: The HoonDing is the Yokudan (Precursors of the Redguards) spirit of perseverance over infidels and the "Make Way" god. The HoonDing has historically manifested whenever it is needed to "make way" for the Yokudan/Redguard people. It usually manifests as a weapon that can destroy any enemy, but it can also manifest itself using mortal avatars. According to some interpretations, these avatars aren't necessarily the HoonDing itself, but the HoonDing taking over and/or working through the avatar. The key feature of the HoonDing is that no matter what, nothing will stop it from making way. One such manifestation was as Cyrus the Restless, hero of Redguard.
  • Jumped at the Call: Near the end of the 2nd Era, the Greybeards summoned The Chosen One who would who would restore the Empire and conquer the elves to High Hrothgar, their monastery on the Throat of the World. Two heroes of mankind jumped at this call:
    • Wulfharth Ash-King, the legendary ancient King of the Nords, famous Shezarrine who had died and come back to life at least three times, and noted Elf-hater, jumped at the call and went to the Greybeards. Instead, Wulfharth is "blasted to ash" by the Greybeards, who say that he is not the one.
    • Tiber Septim was the Founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who ascended after his death as Talos, the Ninth Divine. When the Greybeards summoned him, he jumped at the chance. He went to them, accepted their title, studied with them to increase the power of his Thu'um, and ventured south to Cyrodiil to forge an empire on their word. While official Imperial orthodoxy records him as humble and pious, more heretical (and realistic) stories note Septim's extreme ambition playing a role.
  • Just Add Water: Downplayed in general throughout the series. Using the Alchemy Potion-Brewing Mechanic, a basic potion can be made with just two ingredients. (More complex potions can be made with as many as four ingredients.) Given that most of the alchemical ingredients are solid, one presumably needs to add water in order to make it into an actual "potion". Specific games also play with it in different ways, with examples listed on the trope page.
  • Just Before the End:
    • Several games in the series take place just before major, world-changing events. The end of the entire Dunmer way of life in Morrowind or the beginning of the end of the Septim Empire in Oblivion, for example.
    • Skyrim zig-zags this one, however. On the one hand, your revealing as the Last Dragonborn means that you mark the end of the Dragonborns, making your story a case of this trope. On the other hand, this game is set just after the end of the Great War between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, is smack dab in the middle of the Skyrim Civil War which was partially caused by that pervious conflict, and is purported to be just before the all-but-inevitable Second Great War against the Dominion, which may see the Empire completely collapse if they can't rally enough support before the Dominion decides to march again.
  • Justified Tutorial: Each game has one to varying degrees, typically as part of your character's escape or release from prison/custody. Specific details for each game are available on the trope page.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: A trait of the more benevolent Thieves' Guild leaders throughout the series. They're known to target the wealthy/corrupt, not just for practicality reasons (ie. they have more valuable stuff to steal) but also for Karmic Thievery purposes. A portion of the Guild's proceeds then go to help the less fortunate, such as beggars (who also help the Guild by acting as spies).


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