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The Games:

  • Alt Itis: Unsurprisingly common throughout the series with the sheer number of character creation options available. Fans have taken to calling it "Restartitus" on the official forums.
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  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: The Spell Absorption effect in Oblivion and Skyrim has an odd habit of absorbing spells that would logically help you more, such as causing your summoning spells to fail, or causing the divine blessing you prayed for to be converted into Magicka, which is pretty easy to regain in these games. In Skyrim, the effect applies to everything other than physical attacks, fall damage, and drowning.
  • Archive Panic: Five main series games, five spin-offs, two novels, countless more in-game books, dozens of developer-written supplementary items... getting into the series as a late-comer can be quite the challenge.
  • Broken Base:
    • As Bethesda has a tendency to rebuild each installment in the series from the ground up, fans of the series tend to judge each new game (as well as earlier installments) against whichever game they were introduced to the series with, sort of their own personal version of First Installment Wins. As such, this leads to serious Broken Base issues and claims of Contested Sequels. To them, any games newer than their favorite are dumbed down to appeal to casual gamers while using shiny graphics to cover up the lack of depth in the world/story. Meanwhile, any games older than their favorite are obtuse, not very player friendly, and look/sound poor due to using outdated graphics and technology.
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    • Playing on PC versus the console is another major fan divide. The series has a massive and industrious Game Modding community which, until Skyrim's "Special Edition", was only accessible to PC players. PC players tend to consider console players to automatically be more "casual" fans, while they actively harm the series because Bethesda tries so hard to cater to them. Console players meanwhile point out that each game in the series tends to push the boundaries of PC gaming technology of its time, and that they simply want to be able to enjoy the series without having to spend a fortune on computer upgrades.
    • The series is well known for its World Building, having some 4000+ years of backstory before any game in the series takes place as well as deep universal metaphysics. Known to the fandom as "Lore", any game (or part of a game) that conflicts with or alters previously established lore is certain to break the fanbase in any number of ways.
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    • Also relating to lore, the series' developers and a number of former developers contribute "Obscure Texts" which further flesh out parts of the series lore. Treated by the majority of fans as, at the very least, Loose Canon, bringing up these texts in a group of fans is certain to split them in various ways. Some consider them more Canon that what actually appears in-game, largely due to the (intentionally) Unreliable Canon nature of the series. Others dismiss them as little more than educated fan fiction. In particular, former series writer (through Oblivion) Michael Kirkbride is considered My Real Daddy by the former group. Kirkbride is credited in particular for establishing the series' famous lore, essentially taking the loose assembly of fantasy elements that existed as of Daggerfall and forming them into a unique Constructed World with a deep backstory, mythology, and cosmology. Kirkbride still does some freelance work on the series, and as of Skyrim, some of the concepts in his works have been officially referenced in-game (the idea of "kalpas", Ysgramor and his 500 companions, and some of the motivations of the Thalmor), moving them to Canon Immigrant status.
    • After some 20 years of the series being a single-player Western RPG/Wide Open Sandbox blend (with a few Gaiden Game style spin-offs), The Elder Scrolls Online brought the series into the MMORPG sphere. Main series fans seeking The Elder Scrolls VI were outraged. Complaints range from Online being a blatant cash-in, to radically changing the series' formula, to just plain not being a very good video game in general.
  • Contested Sequel:
    • Every time a new game in the main series comes out, expect claims of this from fans of the previous. Even further, past games often enter Sacred Cow status when a new one comes out depending on the forum in question, which can make this even more flagrant.
    • The series' various spin-off Gaiden Games often get hit with this. Battlespire and Redguard are old and obscure enough that many fans don't even realize they exist. This is much more prominent with Online, in large part due to changing the beloved structure of the main series (MMO vs. Open-World single player WRPG), and later Blades, due to coming out after the Fallout 76 debacle(s) when vitriol directed at Bethesda was at its hottest.
  • Creator Worship: Michael Kirkbride is perhaps the single most popular figure among the writers and developers of the series. He wrote for Redguard, Morrowind, and Oblivion, wrote many of the in-game lore texts, and still does some freelance work for the series. Going on the Imperial Library forum or the Lore subsection of the official Bethesda forum and saying anything even a little negative about any of his work will make you very unpopular there, very quickly.
  • Critical Backlash: The series has this happen with seemingly each new installment. Fans of the series tend to judge each new game against whichever game they were introduced to the series with, sort of their own personal version of First Installment Wins. Given Bethesda's tendency to build each installment from the ground up with wholesale changes from its predecessor, this leads to serious Broken Base issues and claims of Contested Sequels.
  • Cult Classic: To date, each new game in the series has eclipsed its predecessors in the popular consciousness. Previous games mostly wind up at Stage 6A in the Fandom Lifecycle, still played (and modded) by fiercely dedicated and very militant fandom cores. These games often experience a resurgence whenever a new game in the series is announced as fans replay them in anticipation.
  • Default Setting Syndrome: According to available statistics and player polls, the "default" race (the one that is pre-selected when you enter the character creation screen) in each game tends to be the most popular. It also happens to be the native race to each game's setting as well as the primary race used in marketing for each game (so it's Dunmer (Dark Elf) for Morrowind, Imperial for Oblivion, and Nord for Skyrim).
  • Deliberate Flaw Retcon: "It's not a bug, it's a feature," could practically be the catch phrase of Todd Howard when discussing the series.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Referring to the series based on a single game, and especially asking questions like "when is Skyrim II coming out?" is sure to draw ire from the fanbase.
  • Fandom Heresy: Going hand-in-hand with Creator Worship, saying anything negative about Michael Kirkbride, particularly in more lore-focused forums. An exception may be made if you say that you prefer the work of one of the other franchise writers (such as Julian LeFay), as long as you also make sure to acknowledge Kirkbride.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • The Dark Souls series. Both are High Fantasy RPG series. The debate usually boils down to JRPGS vs. WRPGS (despite Dark Souls being styled much like a WRPG) and old school challenge vs. open world fun. It doesn't help that various video game media sites and magazines keep fanning the flames of the "rivalry" between the two series, and that there are very vocal and very annoying haters of the opposing game on both sides of the spectrum. Dark Souls fans bash TES for being too "boring and cliché" while TES fans bash Dark Souls fans for being "too difficult and confusing". Fans who like both games are labelled "traitors" and are effectively stuck between a rock and a hard place.
    • The Dragon Age series, as part of the larger Bethesda vs. BioWare rivalry. Both are High Fantasy Western RPG series with tons of World Building. The main differences is that TES focuses more on open-world exploration while DA focuses on creating memorable characters and linear story-telling experiences. When one series borrows elements from the other, such as when Dragon Age: Inquisition opted for an ES-style Wide Open Sandbox world, expect the flames of the rivalry to be fanned.
    • The Legend of Zelda series. This one is at least less due to the similarity of the games and more because their production schedules have been such that their installments are often facing off for various Game of the Year and other awards. Skyrim vs. Skyward Sword was a particularly notable case, though it dates back even earlier (such as Morrowind vs. Wind Waker and Oblivion vs. Twilight Princess).
    • The first two installments of the Fable series. Both series are different takes on the Wide Open Sandbox Western RPG genre, leading to the rivalry. As Dueling Games, The Elder Scrolls won handily in each case (with Oblivion even including a blatant Take That! at Fable in M'aiq the Liar's dialogue). This rivalry has cooled significantly as Fable took on a different style direction as of Fable III, taking them out of direct competition.
  • Fandom-Specific Plot: A very common element in fanfics and roleplays is to have the Player Character of one game be a relative or descendent of the Player Character in the previous. A particularly popular example is having the Dragonborn of Skyrim be the descendant of Martin Septim and a female Champion of Cyrodiil from Oblivion. (This would make the Dragonborn the rightful heir of the Empire.)
  • Fanon Discontinuity: To say that The Elder Scrolls Online is rather divisive within The Elder Scrolls lore community is a polite understatement. It is far from uncommon to find members cherry picking elements of Online which support their already held beliefs while dismissing anything that goes against them. This is made all the easier by the fact Online was written and developed by a different team than the core series of games. One of the most prominent specific examples is Cyrodiil appearing as a temperate forest several centuries before Tiber Septim (upon his ascension as the god Talos) canonically converted it from a Mayincatec-style tropical rainforest. Lore sources in Online dismiss the idea that Cyrodiil was ever a tropical rainforest, blaming that idea on a "transcription error". The lore community acted quickly and came to settle on the idea that Talos' changes were retroactive, making it so that Cyrodiil had always been a temperate forest, to explain the discrepancy. (Zenimax later added a book to the game, Subtropical Cyrodiil, which both mocked the previous explanation and provided a much more reasonable one.)
  • First Installment Wins: The series has an interesting version of this trope at play. Fans of the series tend to judge each new game (as well as earlier installments) against whichever game they were introduced to the series with, sort of their own personal version of First Installment Wins. Given Bethesda's tendency to build each installment from the ground up with wholesale changes from its predecessor, this leads to serious Broken Base issues and claims of Contested Sequels.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Oblivion is sometimes blamed for changing the unique and sometimes bizarre Tamriel into a standard Medieval European Fantasy. Much of these complaints stem from the fact that previous descriptions of the elven provinces, as well as Cyrodiil, had quite a few non-European traits. While those complaints may be justified, some seem to think that all of Tamriel lacked traits from Medieval European Fantasy - anyone who played Arena and Daggerfall would know that this is not the case, but many people at the time of Morrowind's (easily the most alien and outright weird setting in the series) heyday didn't, leading to the assumption that there was not supposed to be any medieval elements in the setting at all. People have cited the fact that the game has horses in it as a reason for the series being ruined, despite the fact that they were in the series from the beginning (though they wouldn't be usable until Daggerfall).
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • Following Bethesda's acquisition of the Fallout franchise, a strong union has formed between fans of both series. One major reason is that Bethesda places a strong emphasis on World Building, which is one of the greatest strengths of each series. Another is the similar gameplay, with the Bethesda Fallout games adopting The Elder Scrolls trademark Wide Open Sandbox worlds and Western RPG elements. Heck, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas were made using the same engine Bethesda used for Oblivion, and Fallout 4 used a modified version of Skyrim's engine. This was made recursive when the Bethesda released the Skyrim Special Edition, which was updated with the Fallout 4 engine and graphics enhancements.
    • Ever since id Software was acquired by Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax Media, these fandoms have even overlapped with those of id's franchises, including Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein, and Rage, all of which Bethesda has since had some sort of involvement in. The same goes for Prey (2006) after Bethesda acquired it.
  • Gateway Series: The series pulls double duty as a gateway for both the Western RPG and Wide Open Sandbox genres.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • The series has obviously been a major critical and financial success across Europe and North America, but it is also one of the very few WRPG series to experience great success in Japan, where traditional WRPGs struggle. Morrowind seemed to start the trend, even though it was never even officially released in Japan. (One of the game's more popular Game Mods is an unofficial Japanese translation.) This trend continued through Oblivion (though without dub and published by Spike Chunsoft) to Skyrim (which was published in-house by Bethesda's Japanese branch, featuring Japanese dubbing), which holds the honor of being the first Western game to ever receive a perfect score in Famitsu. Skyrim is so popular in Japan that a significant percentage of the Game Mods created for it come from Japan.
    • Among fans in Poland there's a rather unhealthy obsession with Hist, a relatively obscure race of sentient trees. Reasons are unclear, probably for the best.
  • God Damned Bats: Water based enemies, especially Slaughterfish, tend to draw a lot of fan ire throughout the series. They aren't particularly challenging enemies, but they tend to swarm you as soon as you set foot in nearly any body of water. As being in water reduces your combat options significantly, you sometimes aren't able to kill them at all.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Prominent enough throughout the series that it has its own sub-folder on the trope RPG page. Bethesda executives even invoke it by stating that they intentionally leave "fun" bugs in the game as long as they aren't too Game Breaking.
  • Growing the Beard: Arena and Daggerfall were generally well received and both developed strong Cult Fanbases. However, they were mere drops in the bucket of the massive 1990s Western RPG market. Further, they were rather generic Medieval European Fantasies that retained a lot of elements from their D&D basis. Finally, Daggerfall was a prime example of an Obvious Beta, with the main quest being literally unwinnable upon release (though later patched). That all changed with the release of Morrowind, being the Breakthrough Hit for the series and for Bethesda itself while introducing a massive Newbie Boom. Morrowind was the first major Western RPG in a long time to receive a Multi-Platform release, adding to its popularity. It also marked the point where the series' setting became a truly unique Constructed World with highly memorable cultures, history, creatures, landscapes, mythopoeia, and characters. The series' "beard" kept right on growing with the massively successful releases of Oblivion and Skyrim, to the point where the series is now firmly established as one of the pillars of western gaming.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The Dremora are a grey-skinned, yellow-eyed, horned, shaggy-haired Proud Warrior Race with a complex multi-level Fantastic Caste System who come from Another Dimension and use the Daedric alphabet. They wouldn't be the last.
    • Quagmire, the realm of Vaermina, is described as a nightmare realm that constantly changes its appearance in a matter of minutes, each time becoming more horrifying than before. And then Bethesda published a video game with a setting that fits the same description.
    • At the time Skyrim was released, a nation/alliance called the Aldmeri Dominion had only two known incarnations; one that was conquered by Tiber Septim at the end of the Second Era, and the one that exists in Skyrim's timeframe, under the rule of the Thalmor. When The Elder Scrolls Online came out, it added a new one that existed earlier than the others, an alliance that consisted of the Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajiit nations. It retroactively made the Skyrim-era Dominion the third incarnation. What other known (quasi)-fascist state has existed that claimed to be the 'Third' version? Given that ESO was under development at the same time as Skyrim (by a different Zenimax subsidiary), this might not have been a coincidence.
  • Hype Aversion: Pops up frequently. The series is a critical dynamo with a large and very rabid fanbase, but people find reasons to avoid it. More casual gamers have been known to feel overwhelmed by the openness and depth of the series, where one can easily play for hundreds of hours.
  • Hype Backlash: Another frequent occurrence. Despite the popularity, critical success, and foaming-at-the-mouth rabid fandom, the series draws quite a bit of ire from the gaming community. Reasons range from the fact that the games tend to sweep awards despite critical bugs to the belief that the focus on an open-world detracts from the story and character development which other games do better. This can also happen to fans of different games within the series, as noted under Broken Base, Contested Sequel, and It's Popular, Now It Sucks!.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!:
    • The series has its own twist on the First Installment Wins trope that comes into play here, as well. Bethesda has a propensity for building each new game in the series from the ground up, so most players end up comparing every new game to whichever game in the series they played first, their own personal version of "first installment wins". And given that each new game in the series tends to exponentially increase in popularity (for better or worse) over previous games, it naturally matches up with this trope as well. Broken Base tends to ensue, with fans of the previous installments declaring the newest installment to be inferior.
    • The first two games in the series, Arena and Daggerfall, were solid games (despite Daggerfall's Obvious Beta issues), but were mere drops in the massive bucket that was the late-90s PC Western RPG scene. Still, they developed a fairly strong Cult Fanbase which kept the series alive and, after a six-year Sequel Gap, led to the release of Morrowind. Morrowind was a massive critical and commercial hit, being the Breakthrough Hit for both the series and for Bethesda in general. Owing to both the sequel gap and its Multi-Platform release (PC and X-Box), Morrowind introduced a massive Newbie Boom, contributing to its success. All of this added up to Morrowind's "Game of the Year" edition still being available in stores even eight years after its release. However, until about 2006, a small but vocal group of older, "hardcore" Elder Scrolls fans derided Morrowind as derivative and dumbed down compared to Daggerfall, which was "True Art" and was granted "Immunity to Criticism", and considered Morrowind to be the symbol of everything that was wrong with the gaming industry. What happened in 2006? Oblivion was released. Despite its own "Game of the Year" level successes and popularity, Oblivion was now the symbol of everything wrong with the gaming industry, while Morrowind became the Sacred Cow. In 2011, when Skyrim came out? Ditto. Rinse and repeat.
    • Another angle to the situation for the series is that there seems to be a loose "odd-even" configuration to the fandom. It's not uncommon to find fans of both Daggerfall (the 2nd ES game) and Oblivion (the 4th), who enjoy that those games are closer to classic High Fantasy while disliking Morrowind (the 3rd) and Skyrim (the 5th) for being too "alien". Meanwhile, fans of these odd-numbered titles favor them over the even-numbered titles for the exact same reason.
    • Yet another angle to the debate is the perception that the series has been getting "dumbed down" as it has grown more popular. Ask a fan, and they'll tell you that their favorite game was the one that struck the right balance of openness and accessibility. For example, Daggerfall has a gigantic world map, roughly 161,600 km in size (similar to the size of Great Britain), while every subsequent game has gone with a much, much smaller world map. However, these games use Space Compression and drop most of the random and procedural generation that Daggerfall used to fill out its huge world, instead greatly increasing content density and variety within the smaller worlds. Other changes of the course of the series include: armors and outfits becoming less and less modular and customizable, spells and enchantments dwindling in numbers and variety, abandonment of mechanics like birthsigns (which granted passive bonuses and railroaded the status growths into a class archetype).
  • Moral Event Horizon: If you summon Molag Bal at any point in the series, expect to do something horrific.
  • My Real Daddy: Former series writer Michael Kirkbride is considered this. Kirkbride wrote for both Morrowind and Oblivion, as well as for the Action-Adventure spin-off Redguard. In addition, Kirkbride wrote dozens of the series' in-universe books. Kirkbride is credited in particular for establishing the series' famous "lore", essentially taking the loose assembly of fantasy elements that existed as of Daggerfall and forming them into a unique Constructed World with a deep backstory, mythology, and cosmology. He still contributes "Obscure Texts" to the series, essentially supplementary items treated as canonical by most of the fanbase (or at least the equivalent of the series' famous in-universe Unreliable Canon). Kirkbride still does some freelance work on the series, and as of Skyrim, some of the concepts in his works have been officially referenced in-game (the idea of "kalpas", Ysgramor and his 500 companions, and some of the motivations of the Thalmor), moving them to Canon Immigrant status. Kirkbride's elevation to this status largely came at the expense of the lead developer for Arena and Daggerfall, Julian LeFay, who is now something of The Pete Best for the series.
  • Newer Than They Think: The Daedric Princes are a very popular and rather unique set of characters who have become synonymous with the series. It's easy to forget that they were first introduced in Daggerfall, and even then had copious amounts of Early Installment Weirdness with their depictions and personalities. Morrowind is where they started to become what they are recognized as today... but only for about 8 of the 16, as half were Put on a Bus following Daggerfall. All 16 (plus a 17th) finally became established as of Oblivion, four games into the main series.
  • Nostalgia Filter: A major factor in the Personal First Installment Wins. Any changes made in newer games are compared to the one a player entered the series with and often decried as "my first game did it better!"
  • Older Than They Think: Many fans would be forgiven for thinking that Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, was a new creation for Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion. However, he was first mentioned in an in-game book in Daggerfall.
  • Player Punch: The Dark Brotherhood questline in any game where they are joinable tends to deliver at least one of these. Don't become too attached to any of your fellow members, especially superiors...
  • Popular with Furries: The ability to play as beast races like the Argonians and the Khajiit, later installments introducing the potential to contract lycanthropy for no glaring downside, and Skyrim's near limitless modding ability is appealing to the furry fandom.
  • Quicksand Box: Common throughout the series, in large part because of how early the games Open The Sandbox for you. Typically, after a brief tutorial and a tip on where to go next for the main quest, you're free to go wherever you want and do whatever you want. There are Loads and Loads of Sidequests, as well as full blown Sidequest Sidestories (some of which are nearly as expansive as the main quest).
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Happens to a couple of entire races as the series goes on. To note:
    • Through Oblivion, the Bosmer (Wood Elves) comprise some of the most annoying characters in the series, drawing significant hatred from the fandom. Male Bosmer in particular are diminutive, ugly, and, from a gameplay perspective, are best used in Forest Ranger-type builds but are even outclassed there by much "cooler" races who can function just as well in that role, such as the Dunmer (Dark Elves) and Cat Folk Khajiit. Fargoth, Gaenor, Glarthir, Maglir, the Adoring Fan... the list of Scrappy Bosmer goes on. That changed significantly in Skyrim, where the entire race takes a level in badass and become a Woobie Species due to their genocidally racist Altmer cousins occupying their homeland (Valenwood), and Bosmer go from being hands-down the least popular race to one of the fandom's favorites.
    • While Skyrim did an admirable job at rescuing the Bosmer, it also made the Altmer (High Elves) into one. Between the events of Oblivion and Skyrim, under the fascistic and genocidally racist leadership of the Thalmor, the Altmer broke away from the Cyrodiilic Empire and re-formed the Aldmeri Dominion of old. As mentioned, they forcefully annexed Valenwood and got the Khajiit of Elsweyr to join as vassals using some Blatant Lies. They launched the Great War with the vestigial Empire and, though the Empire fended them off, were able to secure a peace treaty (the White-Gold Concordat) with exceptionally favorable terms to the Dominion. Throughout Skyrim, everyone comes to hate the Thalmor, even Altmer players, with "Screw You, Elves!" practically becoming a rallying cry for the fandom. The developers, perhaps realizing that players were associating all Altmer with the Thalmor, acted quickly to rescue them in The Elder Scrolls Online. The Altmer win back a great deal of their respect from many fans by credit of the sheer lengths they go to win the trust of their allies (including one quest where they pull a race-wide Big Damn Heroes on a besieged city) and counting a good number of likable and badass NPCs on their side.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Fans often clamor for a means to join the Big Bad. To date, it is only possible to do this in Daggerfall and even that comes with the caveat of there being no "true" big bad (simply siding with the darkest gray option of the Grey-and-Gray Morality main quest). Game Mods which make this an option are unsurprisingly popular.
  • Sacred Cow: Related to the It's Popular, Now It Sucks! above, Daggerfall as well as Morrowind are this in some areas.
  • Saved by the Fans: Jiub, a fellow prisoner of the Nerevarine aboard the prison ship at the beginning of Morrowind, delivers a few lines of dialogue before disappearing from the game. His friendliness combined with his badass appearance (a one-eyed Walking Shirtless Scene) made him quite the Ensemble Dark Horse. He became a popular character in fan fiction and was added back into the game as a companion by quite a few Game Mods. Bethesda took notice and gave him a shout out in Oblivion as having driven the much-reviled Cliff Racers to extinction. He then makes an on-screen appearance in Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC as a spirit in the Soul Cairn and gives you a notable side quest.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Looking back at earlier games in the series after playing the more recent games tends to cause this. Arena and Daggerfall seem to get the worst of it, with dated (even for the time they were released) graphics, unintuitive controls compared to more modern games, and boatloads of Early Installment Weirdness. Morrowind and Oblivion still get a bit of it though, both being revolutionary games at the time of their release but looking dated compared to Skyrim and the Bethesda-era Fallout games. (Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4) Essentially, each new game in the series tends to cause this phenomenon with its predecessor games.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The series is prime for these, particularly give its open-world nature and plentiful character creation options. To note some of the more popular:
    • An extremely common challenge for any of the games in the series is to role-play; writing a character and then playing as that character, flaws and all. For example, a noble paladin who cannot loot corpses and must leave them to rest in peace, or a warrior who refuses to use any form of magic, including enchanted items.
    • The "Live Off the Land" challenge. It requires leaving all possessions and gold in town, traveling on foot, and surviving missions only with what the player comes across. A monk/alchemist build has the most success at making the use of any possible scavenge and loot. It's only permissible to use alchemy equipment if left where it's found; looting it means that it has to be left in town, and inaccessible for future adventures. While this is possible in any of the games, Morrowind's barren setting lends to it quite well.
    • The "Chuck Norris Challenge". You play as a bare-fisted fighter with no weapons or armor throughout the whole game. Though not without its inconveniences, it can be a surprisingly strong Glass Cannon character build.
  • Sequel Displacement: Each new game does this to the previous games in the series. Arena and Daggerfall definitely have it worst. Most gamers still remember Morrowind and Oblivion, but the first two games are practically invisible now (even though they are ironically the easiest to find, having long since been released as Freeware, and can be easily downloaded from a number of websites, along with emulators to run them).
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: The ability to go wherever you want and do whatever you want is the main selling point of the series for most people. A few specific examples:
    • Reading the many, many, many in-game books. Many hours can be spent this way.
    • Decorating your home. You can spend hours setting up your questing treasures juuust right. Mods to make decorating your home even better and easier are always amongst the most popular of a given game in the series.
    • Loads and Loads of Sidequests plays into this as well. It is possible to spend countless hours just wandering around and stumbling into new sidequests without ever touching the main quest.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys:
    • Go into a popular series' forum and say that you play a pre-made class in any game prior to Skyrim. Count how many people jump on you and call you a noob, insult your intelligence, or criticize you for being "lazy".
    • The series' "Lore" is very serious business. If you go into lore-heavy forums with only a marginal understanding of it, you can expect to be attacked. Many of these forums have actually identified this is a serious issue to their forum's growth and have taken steps to remediate it.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Bethesda's tendency to build each new game from the ground up with wholesale changes from its predecessors tends to cause a pretty significant Broken Base. However, even much more minor changes between games can leave fans irked. To note:
    • The removal of polearms as a weapon type following Morrowind. Cries of "bring back spears!" have been prominent in each game since. This is, somewhat ironically, despite the fact that polearms were very much a Scrappy Weapon in Morrowind. They do damage akin to one-handed long blades of the same material, but are two-handed weapons, meaning that you cannot use a shield or light source in the off-hand.
    • The decline in the variety and power of magical spells in the series since its Daggerfall/Morrowind peak has irked fans of spell slingers. The sheer variety of spells combined with the customizations of Spellmaking services made for some extreme Exponential Potential. Oblivion cut down the number of available spells significantly while also placing skill level restrictions on them. Skyrim reduced the number of spells even further while removing the Spellmaking mechanic outright. The highest-level "Master" spells are Awesome, but Impractical due to long casting animations coupled with the fact that each requires both hands. Mages also hit a Parabolic Power Curve as spell damage is capped, but enemy health is not. Fans of magic in the series desperately hope to see this trend reversed with TES:VI.
  • Underused Game Mechanic: The series has long struggled to sate fan interest in Player Housing. First introduced in Daggerfall, player houses were simply a very expensive place where you could safely sleep for free and, due to a glitch, weren't even safe for storing loot. Nonetheless, they proved popular and were expanded upon in Morrowind, where you could build your own estate complete with a mansion, at least one shop, and a guard tower as part of the Great House sidequest lines. (Another was added for the Bloodmoon expansion.) Again, these proved extremely popular but fans demanded more options and more freedom with them, leading to countless Game Mods relating to player housing. Oblivion offered even more options, allowing the purchase of a home in each major city ranging from a one-room shack to a full-blown (albeit haunted) mansion. DLCs then added additional options for each of the Fighter, Mage, Thief molds. Again, it wasn't enough for the fanbase, who churned out countless more mods with additional places to live and more freedom in decorating them. For Skyrim, Bethesda hired the creator of one of the most popular Oblivion housing mods and gave the largest assortment of options to date including the Hearthfire DLC, which allows the player to build a new house from scratch with immense freedom in designing its layout, storage options, and more. This still wasn't enough, as one again, a plethora of housing mods exists to expand upon these options even further. Ironically, Bethesda may have found the answer in their Fallout sister-series, introducing a very popular, full-blown settlement building mechanic in Fallout 4. ES fans can only hope that something similar is added into The Elder Scrolls VI.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Since the jump to 3D, each game has put out some of the best graphics of its generation. This holds especially true for skies and landscapes.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The 36 Lessons of Vivec from Morrowind. They are a series of 36 books, supposedly penned by the man-god himself (the real life author is Michael Kirkbride). In them, he uses oodles of biblical imagery to make sure that, if you take it seriously, there is no way a person could see Vivec as anything less than the absolute god of The Elder Scrolls universe (which, of course, isn't necessarily true but is also exactly what Unreliable Narrator Vivec wants the reader to think). Doubles with Anvilicious. Also with Tropes Are Not Bad. Finally, there's a dose of In-Joke too, with glitches in the Redguard engine fictionalized as natural wonders. And it's meant to be a "How-to be the Nerevarine" guidebook, and a "How-to kill me" guidebook. Basically, the 36 Lessons of Vivec are a lot of things to a lot of people.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The parts of the lore written by Michael Kirkbridenote  are so weird that it's a common joke within the fanbase to say he was on drugs while writing it all. In an interesting way, this makes them read quite a bit more like real life ancient religious texts, most of which have been reinterpreted by various writers throughout history and have been translated multiple times leading to their unique styles.

The Novels:

  • Base-Breaking Character: Annaïg: a struggling heroine wannabe who tragically struggles against the shattering of her romantic delusions, or a meaningless empty shell designed solely to show us Umbriel while Glim, Attrebus, Sul and Colin all get real work done.
  • Ho Yay: In one scene Slyr mentions that "nobody is watching" and Annaig blushes. To which Slyr replies "don't flatter yourself."
  • I Knew It!: Yup, Lord Vivec is gone and the Ministry of Truth crashes into Vivec City at a thousands of miles per hour velocity.
  • Mis-blamed: People think that Keyes destroyed Vvardenfell in this book. In fact, it was Michael Kirkbride, who had been with the series since the nineties, who made the decision and heavily foreshadowed it in Morrowind.
  • Wangst: Subverted. Attebus starts to, but Sul injects some cold hard reason into the situation to set him straight by quite reasonably telling him that there are more important (and far more painful) things than his realizing he isn't as badass as he think he is, and that dwelling on it when the world is in danger is both selfish and stupid.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In The Infernal City, the island of Solstheim is spelled "Soulstheim," causing many Epileptic Trees to sprout up among the Elder Scrolls fandom. Word of God has it that this was just a typo.

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