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YMMV / The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The Empire of Tamriel. Is it the last bastion of goodness against the Aldmeri Dominion? Is it an oppressive foreign power that doesn't belong in Skyrim? Or is it just a fractured shell that deserves to collapse until someone worthy can reunite the continent?
    • Is the Emperor a craven appeaser, who doesn't care what happens to his people as long as he can hold some power for himself? Is he a good man and a political realist, who signed the White-Gold Concordat to buy time for the Legion to recover? Is he simply an unremarkable person in an age that demands heroes? His behavior during the final mission of the Dark Brotherhood plotline shows that, whatever else he may be, he's definitely not a coward.
    • Is Ulfric Stormcloak a revolutionary hero who wants to restore Skyrim to its former glory, a power-hungry tyrant interested only in taking the throne, or a Stupid Good rebel who doesn't realize the long-term consequences of his actions? Just how controlled was he by the Dominion? Is he the kind of guy who thinks that, for anyone who died fighting the Thalmor, it was their own fault for being too weak and un-Nord-like to survive?
    • The Dunmer:
      • Do they live in such conditions because they are being mistreated and forcibly segregated, or because the Nords have no pity to spare for them and they have been sitting on their hands since they came from Morrowind waiting for someone to take pity on them instead of trying to improve their conditions?
      • According to Faryl Atheron, the Dunmer who complain about the way they're treated in Windhelm effectively ostracize and condemn those Dark Elves who try to make their way in Skyrim by working for Nords, despite the fact that that's the only way for the majority to make ends meet. While he himself admits that a Dunmer in Windhelm doesn't have many good opportunities, he also expresses a great deal of exasperation over what he considers his brothers continually harping on "injustices" as he puts it, and being ashamed of him and his sister for working for the Nords. So there's also that to add fuel to the debate.
      • All of the Dunmer the player character meets in Windhelm have jobs and contribute meaningfully to Windhelm's economy and society: one Dunmer woman works as a secretary for the Shatter-Shields, one is a Nord child's nanny, one Dunmer man is a shopkeeper and another a market stall trader, several Dunmer work at the New Gnisis Cornerclub, the minstrel working at the local inn is a Dunmer, and several Dunmer work crappy minimum-wage jobs for the Nords even if their kin ridicule them for it. Also, there is a rich Dunmer who owns and works one of the local farms.
      • This is exacerbated by the books The Dunmer of Skyrim and The Scourge of the Grey Quarter. The former is almost a Bastardly Speech of ridiculous Master Race ideology, proclaiming the Nords to be dumb animals and threatening to kill all of them in their sleep, even considering the Grey Quarter itself a conquest of Dunmer superiority, and the latter explains the Grey Quarter was a perfectly fine place to live until the Dark Elves went and squatted there, doing nothing as it fell into squalor.
    • Connected to the Dunmer example, it's possible to make this case for Brunwulf Free-Winter. Is he an overly soft-hearted old fool who's trying too hard to uplift the new minorities in Windhelm by affording them special status in spite of few of them barely doing anything to truly uplift themselves and contribute meaningfully to Windhelm? Or is he simply a reasonable, good man trying to afford basic dignity to every resident of his city?
    • Are the Argonians being left at the docks of Windhelm because of pure Fantastic Racism, or because Ulfric is trying to keep peace by not letting the once enslaved race into Windhelm, where they could come face to face with their former slavers?
    • Amaund Motierre. Is he, as Astrid suggests, trying to get the Emperor assassinated to better his own position within the Elder Council or could it be a more collective feeling calling for desperate measures in desperate times? The Emperor seems to be aware of harsh opposition among his political elite. Is he really ruling that badly? Not to mention how, after the deed is done, Motierre seems to genuinely believe that the Emperor's death has "saved" the Empire.
    • Paarthurnax. Is he a genuine atoner who will (attempt to) lead the dragons to a peaceful future, or a very patient and manipulative Starscream with a Meaningful Name? (Paarthurnax means Ambition Overlord Cruelty in the dragon language.) Is this a case of Blue and Orange Morality, or perhaps of a forsaken namesake?
    • This trope also counts for Paarthurnax's arch-enemies, the Blades. Are they indeed the heroic order they used to be, or are they just an embittered remnant of an age long gone? Is their hate for Paarthurnax reasonable, or are they just too narrow-minded to see beings can change?
    • For that matter, Arngeir raises the question as to whether or not the Blades serve the Dragonborn, or if the Blades direct the Dragonborn toward their own ends under the pretense of support. Delphine and Esbern's comments, actions and tone make the matter even more difficult to discern.
    • The Greybeards. Indecisive wishy-washies who sit out every conflict, or overly cautious guardians of a power that is too dangerous to let be abused, but too useful to not use at all? Jurgen Windcaller, the founder of the Greybeards, implies arguing for the second point if the Dragonborn talks to him in Sovngarde.
      Jurgen Windcaller: My disciples still follow the difficult path - the Way of the Voice is neither wide nor easy. But if you stray from wisdom, then to Sovngarde, you will not return.
    • The Psijic Order. Are they a collective of wise ancient keepers who safeguard magical artifacts because The World Is Not Ready? Or are they a bunch of manipulative bastards who used the Dragonborn to retrieve the Eye of Magnus for them, all the while never really bothering to explain exactly what the Eye is, what it does, or what they actually want from it? Though the latter has died down following the events of The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset
    • Ralis Sendarys in Dragonborn, at the end of his questline. Was he genuinely Brainwashed and Crazy? Not Brainwashed? Genuinely brainwashed but playing Jekyll?
    • The Dragonborn:
      • Are you a heroic figure who protects the land from threats and rose to the top of several guilds due to your inherent skill and badassery? Or are you essentially nothing more than a reckless demigod who abuses the power of the Thu'um for your own ends and to help you gain influence throughout Skyrim?
      • If you choose to play Dragonborn last, you've slain multiple Dragons, amassed an army of loyal followers and have, on several occasions, proven that you're not afraid to screw over a Daedric Prince. Besides him being openly malevolent (and you can choose to be that too), what exactly makes you any different from Miraak?
    • Miraak himself is prone to a lot of different interpretations by the fanbase, due to how much is unknown about him. Is he a Fallen Hero who was corrupted and seduced by Mora into becoming his champion? Or is he simply a monster, whose fall was caused by his own hubris? The game only gives hints.
    • As proposed here, are mammoths the giants' livestock, or are the giants actually 'controlled' and used by the mammoths to defend their herds?
    • Is Aela the Huntress really just a proud warrior who wants to maintain the traditions of the Circle? Or, is she a daedric cultist first and honorable Companion second, who places very little value on human life? While she does care about the people close to her, regardless of how many innocent townspeople the Dragonborn kills, if they kill any, during their initial transformation, she merely describes the event as "difficult" and expresses no remorse for any deaths for which she is indirectly responsible.
    • Is Ondolemar simply a Smug Snake who uses his standing with the Thalmor to throw his weight around? Or is he an unwilling participant in their schemes? Keep in mind that he won't arrest Ogmund if you prove the latter's Talos worship, can be persuaded to help you sneak through the Thalmor embassy, and may even show up at your wedding if you complete his quest.
    • Estormo. Even though it's clearly a bug, You can yield to him and he will accept it. Does he really want to work with Ancano? Did his fear of Elenwen exceed Ancano- considering that what would Elenwen would've done to Estormo if she knew the Eye of Magnus incident? Did he know how screwed he was if he fought the dragonborn? Did he realize what the destruction The Eye of Magnus would've done?
    • Sibbi Black-Briar in "Promises to Keep". He sold a horse to Louis Letrush then got sent to jail before delivering said horse, and answered Letrush that his imprisonment cancelled the deal; turns out the horse he "sold" didn't belong to Sibbi himself but to his mother Maven. When visited in jail, Sibbi tells he actually didn't want to cross Letrush and explain how to steal the horse, Frost, to deliver it to Letrush yourself. Since Sibbi is largely considered as the worst member of an already infamous family, did he really tell the truth? On one hand, him explaining how to steal Frost may indicate he actually planned to do it himself and only got stopped by his imprisonment. On the other hand, his apparent remorse may not be sincere and his deal may just had been a scam, then explaining to the Dragonborn where to find the horse didn't cost him anything.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Serana was turned into a vampire lord (it's implied that this was accomplished through her being raped by Molag Bal), caught up in a family war between her parents, and sealed away for centuries with an Elder Scroll, and when she wakes up her parents are more concerned with their respective plots against the other than with her safety or her wishes. All things considered, she takes it pretty well outside the handful of moments she calls out the relevant parties for their behavior.
  • Annoying Video Game Helper:
    • Barbas can be a potential companion, and makes for a reasonably effective tank, especially as he can't be killed. However, he stays extremely close to you, often pushing you around, and as long as he's in your party you can't do anything stealthy, and he reports crimes you commit. Seeing as how he's Clavicus Vile's conscience and wants to be reunited with him, this makes sense.
    • Almost every follower is this to a stealth-based character.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Bethesda Boss Syndrome hits twice in during the main quest. The only plot relevant Dragon Priest (extremely powerful undead sorcerer) is easily the weakest of them all and Alduin only appears to differ from the elite Ancient Dragons by having a few more hitpoints. It's even worse during the final battle in the afterlife, since you are assisted by the souls of three legendary Nord warriors
    • At the end of the Thieves' Guild questline, a big deal is made about how powerful Mercer Frey is and why you won't be able to fight him alone. But the final battle ironically ends up as a one-on-one fight against someone who's no different than any regular old mook, aside from the ability to briefly turn invisible. Then again, he did waste the Agent of Subterfuge power on Brynjolf, so he couldn't use it on you. And all of that's before factoring in that, much like Vyrthur as mentioned below, the design of the room he's fought in makes it ludicrously easy to administer Mercer a healthy dose of instant-death fall damage via Unrelenting Force just by climbing the stairs on either side of the statue.
    • True to form, it happens again in Dawnguard: The fight with Vyrthur in the penultimate quest (during which he's sending dozens of Falmer at you and tearing the building apart around you) makes the final confrontation with Harkon seem less cool by comparison, no matter how many of his Vampire Lord abilities he tries to use on you.
    • Again with Vyrthur, who can be defeated without as much as readying for battle: He stands atop a balcony. With proper positioning and Unrelenting Force, he can be tossed off. This ends exactly as expected, and his remains can be gathered below after defeating Naaslarum and Voslarum.
    • Also in Dawnguard, the fight with Durnehviir. Despite him being a Dracolich, the battle plays out like just another dragon encounter, the only difference being the waves of minor undead spawning, which are a mere nuisance.
    • There's also the Dragon Priest Morokei. He holds the Staff of Magnus, which has a very interesting spell tied to it that he casts through the battle. It's pretty much all he casts through the battle. The spell? Well, it drains all your magicka. This is really only a nuisance to mages - but then, when the magicka is completely drained, it starts sucking away at your health. Normally, this would be formidable, as a mage wouldn't be able to cast, and a warrior or rogue wouldn't have enough magicka to act as a shield from the health drain. However, if you are a mage, there is an easy solution. Equip high level robes or enchantments which regenerate magicka at over 75% or so, have a high total magicka (which you should, since this encounter is part of the questline for the College of Winterhold), and equip a melee weapon. Then just run up and whack at the guy who keeps plucking away at a stat that won't stay down. It's basically a Curb-Stomp Battle, which is a shame because it was built up pretty heavily. Even worse, equip a good bow and have a decent archery skill, and you can bring Morokei down with a few arrows before he ever even reaches the platform where you confront him.
    • The Final Boss of the Companions questline, Kodlak's Wolf Spirit, is simply a wolf (one of the very first, and also one of the most common, enemies you face throughout the game) with beefed-up stats. If you think that alone makes the fight a joke, you also happen to be assisted by an essential NPC.
    • Ulfric and Galmar, should you decide to follow the Imperial Legion quest line. Ulfric has a large chunk of HP, but wears almost no armor and he is armed only with a steel war axe with an awful enchantment that has absolutely no effect if your character is level 8 or higher. Granted, he has the Thu'um, which can be annoying, but it does almost no damage by itself, so you'll only have to endure a lengthy sequence, where your character gets up back on his feet before you can control them again. Galmar at least wears a full suit of armor, but he is armed with only an iron battle axe and his weapon and armor skills are completely mismatched (he prefers one-handed weapons and heavy armor, when he wields a two-handed weapon and wears light armor), so with a little luck even a Squishy Wizard can tank his hits. The generic unnamed Stormcloak soldiers and Windhelm guards who have very good offensive stats and can be carrying around steel battle axes and war hammers are significantly more challenging than either one of them. On the other hand, if you decide to pursue the Stormcloak forces' quest line, you'll also discover that General Tullius is significantly less challenging than his subordinate, Legate Rikke (who has great stats, a very large HP pool and a Perfect-Play A.I.).
  • Awesome Ego:
    • J'Zargo. He's arrogant, but also one of the most competent companions.
    • Master Neloth in the Dragonborn DLC fits. The hilarity of his arrogance is sure to amuse, but he really is willing to get his own hands dirty (as demonstrated by his sojourn with you into the nearby Dwemer ruin Nchardak), and is no slouch in a fight.
    • Arguably, Miraak from Dragonborn as well; despite being arrogant and prideful, he's one of the most powerful enemies encountered, and can back up his claims.
    • Marcurio is an arrogant Insufferable Genius whose dialogue consists of nothing but snide remarks. At the same time, his arrogance is so over-the-top that it goes back to being funny, and he's also a powerful mage and one of the stronger followers available.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • The Civil War campaign is the catalyst for a few of these. Jump in any forum topic about it (or this very wiki, where Ulfric Stormcloak has been compared to both George Washington and Hitler) and expect to see a Flame War. Is the Empire the last, best hope for ensuring humanity's prosperity and survival against the genocidal Thalmor, or are they brutal oppressors holding on to a shadow of their former glory who crossed the line trying to appease the Thalmor? Are the Stormcloaks a bunch of heroic freedom fighters pushing a now-impotent empire out of their land and the Only Sane Men who know the only real way to deal with the Thalmor, or are they a bunch of bull-headed, racist idiots that are unwittingly giving the Thalmor exactly what they want and ultimately are just as bad as the Thalmor? Were they all developed enough or no?
    • Cicero has many fans for his hilarity and sad backstory. However, there are just as many who find his antics extremely annoying instead, and refer to him as "the marmite of Skyrim". Very rarely will you find someone who is truly neutral about him.
    • In a similar vein, Heimskr. At least half the playerbase finds his preaching so annoying that they're willing to kill him just to shut him up, but some players find his preaching entertaining and/or consider it part of what makes Whiterun unique in the first place. Indeed, a number of players that killed him off in their game admit to finding Whiterun too quiet in his absence. It should be noted that a patch has caused his speeches to be removed.
    • Elisif, the Jarl of Solitude. She is either liked for being Nice Girl Reasonable Authority Figure whose inexperience can be justified due to having lost her husband as a result of an usurpation attempt or is hated for being useless Puppet King who couldn't do anything without her steward or Tulius's help whose Freudian Excuse does not justify this and she might as well step down from the throne and nobody would bat an eye.
    • While Delphine's reception is overwhelmingly negative, Esbern has divided a lot of fans regarding his character of whether or not he should be held just as accountable for ordering the Dragonborn around including slaying Paarthurnax or he is only doing what Delphine told him to, on account of him being far more civil and polite to the Dragonborn than she ever did.
  • Best Boss Ever:
    • The base game has Ancano, the Final Boss of the College of Winterhold questline. He is a powerful magic user, and for most of the fight is invulnerable, requiring you to use the Staff of Magnus to make him vulnerable. He also disables any followers you try to take into the fray, and summons Magic Anomalies to aid in the fight. He himself is quite a Glass Cannon when not invulnerable, preventing this fight from being too difficult. Between being a Puzzle Boss and a Flunky Boss with a unique invulnerability mechanic, he is one of Bethesda’s best and most memorable bosses.
    • The Dawnguard DLC has Lord Harkon. The atmosphere leading into the fight is epic in and of itself, as you face him in a partially ruined gothic cathedral. Harkon himself is an entirely unique enemy, darting around the battlefield throwing Gargoyles and health draining spells at you, and tearing into you with his claws if you get too close. You also get the satisfaction (if you kept Auriel’s Bow) of preventing him from healing himself.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • Blackreach. An absolutely huge underground cavern (approx. four square miles) home to an abandoned Dwarven city and some of the most unique and breathtaking environmental design in the entire game. It even comes with its own Bonus Boss! You'd have to spend several hours exploring the vast compound to find everything, but you'll love every bit of it.
    • Dwemer ruins in general are pretty fun. They're full of unique badass construct enemies, you can stock up on good loot like soul gems and other crafting agents, and the general Magitek Steampunk aesthetic makes them considerably more memorable than the caves and tombs where you'll spend the rest of your time. This continues into the DLCs, where the developers come up with increasingly creative puzzles involving Dwemer technology, and each ruin in turn begins to feel more unique.
    • The Black Book levels in Dragonborn. They're just so... so... alien.
    • The Soul Cairn, for pretty much the same reason as the Black Books. It's easy to get lost in there, but there's so much stuff to explore, you don't care.
    • The Forgotten Vale of Dawnguard is almost as massive as Blackreach, has some of the most beautiful visuals in the game, and even has two bonus bosses that are actually quite challenging and fun to fight. It also has unique side quests involving Frost Giants and Falmer books.
    • Bound Until Death, the Dark Brotherhood quest to assassinate Vittoria Vici. As it turns out, it's a lot of fun to murder a woman at her own wedding in front of half of Solitude, followed by most likely fighting your way out of the city with a couple dozen guards on your tail.
    • As far as Game Mods go, The Forgotten City mod (with tropes page here) is generally considered one of the best modded questlines due to its combination of lore-friendliness, deep mystery and investigation, interesting characters, and exploration, along with multiple endings which make the "Groundhog Day" Loop storyline fun, challenging, and engaging.
    • For another example of an almost universally-praised Game Mod, the Vigilant series, along with its voiced English translation, is praised by many players due to its gigantic size, challenging boss fights, deep exploration of Elder Scrolls lore, horrifying atmosphere (after all, it is a Dark Souls-inspired mod that deals heavily with Molag Bal), and epic scope.
  • Catharsis Factor: At the end of "Season Unending", the major Civil War leaders as well as the Blades are leaving High Hrothgar: Tullius, Ulfric, Balgruuf, Elisif, potentially Elenwen, Delphine, and Esbern. These are the major players in the main storyline and, taking into account for the player's political alignments and the personalities of the characters, there are probably least two members in their number you don't care for... all walking down the mountainside. You know what to do — be sure to have a quicksave ready so you can repeat it until satisfaction is had. Bonus fun because if you attack any of them normally, they're all essential so it's a puny 40 septim bounty, and any of the others who turn hostile will keep walking if you sheathe your weapon.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Stealth archers. It's a Running Gag that has reached Memetic Mutation levels in some Skyrim fan circles that no matter what a player starts as, they will always accidentally create a stealthy archer. Skyrim overhauled the Stealth system which has been in place since the series' inception, taking it from near Useless Useful Stealth levels and buffing it to damn near Game-Breaker levels. At high skill levels and with the right perks, it becomes difficult for NPCs to detect you at all, which added to the stealth combat enhancements the game brings, makes it a devastating Critical Hit Class. Additionally, for many encounters, it is damn near suicidal to charge into a group of enemies using melee or blasting spells without first clearing out some of the enemy mooks, which stealth shots allow you to do easily without aggroing the others. And hey, since you've already cleared out some of the mooks with stealth shots, you might as well clear out the rest too, right?
    • Applies to other skills as well: Alchemy and Enchanting are skills that almost every experienced player will level on almost every character, because they have Game-Breaker status at higher levels (especially if used in tandem), any character build can make use of them and, even if not directly beneficial, are always a good source of money. Conjuration is another very widely exercised skill, because Soul Trap, the spell to fill soul gems, is a conjuration spell, and Summon Magic in this game is actually both practical and highly potent at higher levels, and works with both physical and magical builds. Lockpicking is the game's Dump Stat and almost nobody will fill out any perks in the skill tree, unless they have already maxed out most of the others, because lockpicks are both common loot and weightless, and with the lock picking minigame, even Expert- or Master-level locks will only take so many attempts to open.
  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Neloth in Dragonborn may be mad, dangerous, and perhaps a bit unstable; but the spells he creates and teaches you are some of the best in the game. His own ego is practically the reason he's the only non-Skaal character who is unaffected by Miraak.
    • Festus Krex, a Mage in the Dark Brotherhood, is an offscreen variant of this. His favorite assassination technique is, in his own words, to "Walk up to them, introduce yourself, melt their skin off, then run like the wind. Works every time."
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Cicero. His jester outfit, dances, and giggling are all very unnerving, but he's arguably one of the best followers in the game.
    • Miraak. The Madness Mantra — in addition to his mask — spoken by his brainwashed slaves building shrines to him give him more than a few Cthulhu vibes. Adding to this, he is so immensely powerful that it takes Hermaeus Mora to finally put an end to him.
    Here in his shrine
    That they have forgotten
    Here do we toil
    That we might remember
    By night we reclaim
    What by day was stolen
    Far from ourselves
    He grows ever near to us
    Our eyes once were blinded
    Now through him do we see
    Our hands once were idle
    Now through them does he speak
    And when the world shall listen
    And when the world shall see
    And when the world remembers
    That world shall cease to be
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The tone of Skyrim in general is rather bleak and filled with a notion of fateful doom, once you get past the beautiful scenery. Almost every character you meet seems resigned to the fact that the world is not in a good state, that there is not terribly much to be happy about and that things are only going to get worse as things progress. Most side quests only reinforce this feeling that happiness and bliss are only temporal joys that will surely pass.
    • By far the worst is the Forsworn quest line in Markarth. The only way to finish it is to align yourself with either a bunch of genocidal terrorists or an exploitative and oppressive Corrupt Corporate Executive who previously used said terrorists as his private assassination squad. Do the latter and you perpetuate the hold of the Silver-Hands on the city, and nothing changes. Do the former, and you prove once and for all that nobody who goes to Cidhna Mine can stay innocent.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Chaurus. They're extremely tough, do a lot of damage in melee, and use a health draining-poison which they can also spit at you. It certainly doesn't help that the Falmer are often in the area and gang up on you. Oh, and some of them can look quite similar to Falmer chests.
    • Speaking of which, Falmer. Thanks to the company they keep, all their weapons are poisoned, when they're armored it's with heavy armor, their spellcasters use both ice and lightning, they attack in swarms, and all the equipment is ridiculously heavy so looting them weighs you down really fast. If something so much as looks like it was influenced by the Dwemer, expect to find these guys around. And if you're playing on higher difficulties, expect to be one-shotted several times by their poisoned weapons.
    • With Dawnguard, we now have a lovely new addition to the Chaurus family: Hunters. Take a Chaurus Reaper, put it on steroids, and give it wings. Or rather, they pulled out the much hated Cazadores from Fallout: New Vegas and gave them a nice Palette Swap.note  It doesn't help that these things start out hiding in cocoons that can easily blend in with the dark surroundings of Falmer lairs or even be mistaken for a chest, letting them easily ambush you at melee range.
    • Giant Sabrecats. 900 pounds of pure muscle and feline fury coupled with a nasty disposition and a tendency for creeping up on you from behind, and even later in the game they can do tremendous amounts of damage (early on they pretty much kill you in a couple swipes). And they are insanely fast for something the size of a bear, too. Given how they are basically saber-toothed tigers, it makes sense, but it gets a little ridiculous when Sabrecats are scarier than dragons.
    • Dwemer robots. The spiders are very strong for their size, with some types able to shoot lighting and even explode after "death". The sphere guardians are extremely fast and hit like a brick (but tend to telegraph their attacks). Finally, the centurions are the same size as giants, every bit as strong and tough, and have a steam blast attack that causes more damage than dragon flame. All of them are also heavily resistant to most forms of damage, in particular packing immunities to poison and frost and having decent shock resistance and armor.
    • Bears. These things camp on or near roads, have a huge aggro radius that's hard to avoid, can nearly keep pace with a sprinting horse, and take as much hurt as it can dole out (which is a lot). Unlike wolves, which howl pretty much as soon as they're aware of you, the bear drowsily gets up from its nap in silence, by which time you've probably already wandered into its aggro radius. And they're freakin' everywhere. After Unrelenting Force, your most used shout will be Kyne's Peace or Animal Allegiance because of them.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the werebears. These guys are much stronger, faster and deadly than you (even when normal bears, spriggans and sabrecats prove no problem,) will one shot kill you, get to where you think you can avoid them with a bow (if they truly cannot attack then they will run off) and have Spiteful A.I. in that even with two or more followers killing it they will focus entirely on you, and can one or two hit even the strongest companions.
    • If you are a warrior type, mages fall into this category. At least half can use Ice Storm, which damages your health and stamina, robbing your ability to do Power Attacks. It also slows you down, turning you into a sitting duck. To make it worse, the spell has a huge area of effect, increasing your chance to get hit by it. The lightning ones are even worse, because they cannot miss. This extends to higher level mages as well, because magic does fixed damage; unless you been you've raising your health or bolstering your magic/elemental resistance, higher level spellcasters will tear you to shreds in seconds. Even the racial resistance given to Nords, Dunmer, and Bretons won't save you most of the time. In other words, get that Alteration skill up quick, or else prepare to die a lot. This is probably why Alteration is literally the easiest skill in the game to train up.
    • Elder and Ancient dragons. Just when you're powerful enough to be convinced that Blood and Frost dragons aren't any more of a threat, these bastards show up and start two-shotting you. Dawnguard introduces the Revered and Legendary dragons which have a lot more health, do more damage, and have their own version of Drain Vitality (it drains health, magicka, and stamina), with which they hit you ALL THE TIME. So much for Dragons being a Degraded Boss.
    • Spriggans. They crawl out of trees so you don't know they're coming; then they hit like a truck, heal themselves back to near-full health when they're in trouble, and have a health-draining bee spell they love to use on you. Oh, and they also summon bears. Nothing quite like a Demonic Spider that can summon more Demonic Spiders. Plus, Dawnguard introduces Spriggan Earth Mothers - they're bigger, stronger, and have a cloud of poisonous insects around them.
    • Forsworn, especially the Briarhearts. Their encampments include mages who will blast you with ice and lightning to deplete your magic and stamina, archers who can stagger you, and their melee warriors often dual-wield and can deal insane damage even with capped armor. The Briarhearts can be any of these but are usually the melee warriors, and they're plain stronger than the rank and file Forsworn.
      • Also keep in mind that almost every Forsworn camp has at least one Hagraven, and when they're not blasting devastating fireballs at you, they're tearing you apart with their claws for massive damage.
    • Dragonborn brings in a couple of nasty enemies, namely Lurkers and Seekers. Lurkers are tall lumbering fish-things whose physical attacks can stagger you; they have a ton of health; can cause tentacle explosions when you attack them, further damaging you, and have a projectile attack. The Seekers are also annoying, floating wizard-like creatures that love spamming draining spells, are unaffected by some of your shouts (that means no Fus Ro Dah), can turn invisible, and the worst part, they can create a copy of themselves which can also attack you. Thankfully, killing the original eliminates its clones. Oh yeah, and in Apocrypha, the things are everywhere!
    • Pretty much any enemy who can use finishing moves on you. Did you ever laugh when you first saw a guard being bitten and tossed by a dragon? You won't be laughing when it happens to you. The worst part is that the system that governs when it happens takes no regard for resistances: Armor rating, shield up, behind cover... When it wants to kill-cam you, it will kill-cam you.
    • With Dawnguard installed, vampires become this. If it's night, they can show up pretty much anywhere, can be relatively dangerous, and in early levels are very hard to kill as they drain the life from you. This isn't the worst part, though. Boss-level hostile vampires and some mooks alongside them get dropped into cities filled with the brim with perishable, low-level, unique NPCs with no self-preservation instinct. It can potentially reduce even the five major cities to ghost towns, forcing you to be proactive and deal with the main quest quickly; the spawn rates in cities drop massively once it is finished, but this is small comfort. There's a reason why the "When Vampires Attack" and "Dawnguard Sentries" Game Mods are so popular.
    • In the snowy areas, you'll encounter Ice Wraiths. They hit hard and often, but the worst thing about them is their sheer agility. You're likely to spend lots of stamina and magicka not hitting them since they're so freaking fast. One more reason to invest in good area of effect fire spells and the corresponding perks.
    • Any humanoid enemy wielding a two-handed weapon. Even lowly bandits can do tremendous damage if they're packing a battleaxe or warhammer. If you see a Bandit Chief in full platemail or Nordic Carved Armor charging you while toting a warhammer made of a shiny metal, brace yourself.
    • Draugr Deathlords. They can use both Unrelenting Force and Disarm, will often be wielding powerful Ebony weapons, and their arrows pack a deadly punch even if you have the Deflect Arrows perk. To make matters worse, the Dragon Priest Rahgot will summon at least five Deathlords when you confront him. At higher levels, they become extremely commonplace; when you hit level 40, expect nine out of ten Draugr you encounter to be Deathlords.
    • Rieklings. While a single Riekling is little more than cannon fodder, they can deal a surprising amount of damage and attack in packs, allowing them to chip away at your health deceptively quickly. On top of this, a group will almost always contain a mounted Riekling that can sponge quite a bit of damage, keeping you occupied while the rest stand back and pelt you with spears. Luckily, one of the Riekling tribes can be befriended by siding with them in their sidequest. Once you have become the chieftain of the tribe, you can recruit the tribesmen as your follower and turn the table on the rest of the hostile Rieklings.
    • Wispmothers, mostly due to their ridiculously high minimum level. Even if you're a lowly level 1 fresh out of Helgen, any Wispmother you meet will be level 28. For reference, the much-maligned bears have a minimum level of "only" 12, and giants start out at level 32, only four levels higher than Wispmothers. Even if you're high enough level to fight one without instantly getting killed, their speed, high defense, and powerful ice spells can make taking them down tricky. Their one saving grace is that they're fairly rare and easy to spot from a distance: while they themselves start out invisible, their territory is marked by a pack of Wisps, bright white balls of energy that are easy to spot and avoid if so desired... although they're also very likely to lure a player seeing them for the first time to investigate them, incurring the wrath of their Wispmother.
  • Disappointing Last Level:
    • While the actual location where the Final Boss is fought, Sovngarde, is very atmospheric and impressive, the final dungeon to get there is this trope. It's a Nordic tomb full of Draugr and a handful of Frostbite Spiders, with a Word Wall, some of the spinning block puzzles, and a claw puzzle door. In other words, there's nothing that makes the final level any different from the many other Nordic tombs in the game you've raided by that point other than the boss waiting at the end.
    • The final level of the Dawnguard DLC. For the Volkihar side, there isn't even a level; you just return to Castle Volkihar and fight the final boss. For the Dawnguard side, you besiege Castle Volkihar; but that amounts to just fighting a lot of vampires at once, and they're the same vampire-type enemies you've fought throughout the DLC, plus you have the entire Dawnguard helping you. If the attack happens at night, you don't even get to use the MacGuffin around which the questline is centered, because its powers can only be used when the sun is out. You can even run past the vampires and head straight to the final boss room; once the final boss is killed, all the other vampires will be found dead anyway.
  • Discredited Meme:
    • Virtually everyone got absolutely sick of the "Arrow in the Knee" jokes as early as a month after the game came out. It got so bad that the developers of Borderlands 2 actually apologized for including a reference.
    • Readers on the Skyrim board at GameFAQs have also become sick of the Toeh meme spawned there.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Despite all that the quest/story designers did to make you want to hate the Thalmor (see A Nazi by Any Other Name)... some people still inexplicably like them, and not in a "love to hate" way. Take a look at this soft mood-lighting and Unfortunate Implications riddled bit.
    • Speaking of the Thalmor, Ancano is often depicted as a gentleman scholar with a cold demeanor in Pixiv community rather than an ambitious fanatic in-game, and he's often shipped with J'Zargo for some reason.
    • Many players feel that the Forsworn are misunderstood freedom fighters working for a just cause to overthrow a government that demonizes them, and wish that they could join them in the Civil War. Hmm... perhaps it's the raiding, genocide, cannibalism, hagraven worship, and Cruelty-Rich Leather they practice that explain why it's not an option. It doesn't help that you can actually join the Forsworn by helping Madanach to escape from Cidhna Mine. And when you talk to Madanach, he stated that all he wanted is the peace before Ulfric sieging his homeland, making him relatively sympathetic compared to Thonar Silver-Blood, a corrupt businessman who manipulated the Forsworn for his own cause and framed you up for investigating the incidents in Markarth.
    • Speaking of the Civil War, expect around half of the player base to do this for the side they support while invoking Ron the Death Eater on the other. Ulfric in particular gets hit with this trope, since he's a much more interesting and developed character than his Imperial counterpart, Tullius. Expect many official Bethesda Games forum users who are pro-Imperial to facepalm upon remembering the popular "Official Ulfric Fangirl Thread."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Lydia, again. Most were very disappointed when a minor (and fixable) bug prevented players from marrying her. (Fixed in the 1.5 patch, or by mods on the PC before that.) Ascended, as Lydia has received more specific dialogue with each DLC. Hearthfire gave Lydia character development to eventually lose her snarky attitude to the Dragonborn... and in Dragonborn she gets it back, making snide comments about everything else.
    • The Spectral Assassin; in other words, Lucien Lachance rides again.
    • Paarthurnax, due to him being The Mentor and one of the three friendly dragons. Several players have tried to slaughter the Blades for even suggesting killing him. The fact that he's voiced by Charles Martinet doesn't hurt either.
    • Brynjolf of the Thieves' Guild. With his accent, friendliness, and tendency to affectionately call your PC "lass/lad", many players were disappointed to find he's not a marriage option.
    • The Circle members of the Companions - Vilkas, Farkas, and Aela - are all very popular for their attractive designs, being met early in the game, and being very badass. Farkas in particular is well-liked, due to the fact that he's one of the only Companions to be friendly toward the Dragonborn from the start.
    • Mjoll the Lionness, for being a badass Action Girl who is trying to single-handedly clean up Riften and bring the Black-Briars and Thieves' Guild to justice, and has the guts to verbally spit in Maven's face about it when they come across each other. Players who want to do the same will probably find themselves very attached to Mjoll.
    • Serana and Knight-Paladin Gelebor from Dawnguard. Serana is frequently praised for her well-developed character and the depth given to her relationship with the Dragonborn, leading many in the fanbase to ship the two despite her not being a marriage option. Being voiced by Laura Bailey only adds to her popularity. Gelebor is also immensely popular, due to being a Badass Pacifist and (apparently) the last of the Snow Elves, which makes his attractive design very unique.
    • One of the more surprising ones is Emperor Titus Mede II. Yes, he signed the White-Gold Concordat that outlawed the worship of Talos and set in motion the Civil War storyline. Yes, his policies since the war have seen high taxation on the people of Skyrim. Yes, he may even be a Daedra worshiper. But once you arrive to assassinate him, he accepts his fate, faces his death with grace, and simply asks you, rather kindly, to kill whoever put a contract on him.
    • Brunwulf Free-Winter, replacement Jarl of Windhelm and quite possibly the "Nicest Guy in Skyrim."
    • Miraak from the Dragonborn DLC is quite popular, despite having most of his backstory lost in legend and ambiguity.
    • Also from the Dragonborn DLC is Teldryn Sero, an unassuming faceless Dunmer spellsword hireling sitting in the corner of the Retching Netch cornerclub, who has nonetheless gained a fan base that enjoys his cool voice, sheer amount of unique dialogue, snarky attitude, subtle badassery, mysterious tendency to refuse to take off his helmet, and ability to defend himself competently. Finding out that he doesn't look half bad when players were finally able to take off his helmet only added to his appeal.
    • Among the adoptable children, Sissel has become quite popular. This is notable because, unlike the four orphans roaming the streets of the major Holds or the orphans from Honorhall, she wasn't specifically designed to invoke your sympathy and get you to adopt her. Her father, Lemkil, is also still alive, meaning you have to kill him first. Because the guy is such an abusive bastard and because poor Sissel also gets bullied by her twin sister all day long, many players find themselves traveling to Rorikstead just to kill Lemkil and adopt Sissel.
    • J'zargo, due to his Awesome Ego, zany personality, and sheer competence in battle—he specializes in both Destruction and Heavy Armor and levels up to 81.
    • Erandur for being a very interesting character who quite handily subverts the Squishy Wizard stereotype. His popularity reached the point that he got an entire forum thread on the Elder Scrolls Wiki complaining about players being unable to marry him and/or make him a Steward.
    • Jarl Balgruuf the Greater is one as well, being almost certainly the first Jarl you meet and the one with whom you'll have the most interaction in the whole game. It also helps that he trusts the Dragonborn after the first time they save his city (as opposed to everyone else who promptly forgets).
    • Blaise, Lucia, and Sofie tend to be popular adoption choices. Blaise has a hellish life, tending horses and sleeping in a pile of hay. Lucia had a good life until her parents died, at which point her aunt and uncle threw her out for being "useless" and she was forced to live on the streets of Whiterun, where only the local beggar treats her kindly. Sofie's mother died long ago and her father never returned from the war, and she shivers on the snowy streets of Windhelm while trying to feed herself by selling flowers. Many players lament that they can only take in two of them, even though they all deserve a good home.
    • Karita, the Giftedly Bad bard in Dawnstar.
    • As far as the Thalmor go, Ancano and Ondolemar seem to be the only ones with remote popularity, due to Ancano being very competent compared to his comrades, while Ondolemar, despite being a massive Smug Snake, is implied to be a Punch-Clock Villain and is affable enough to treat you with respect. Coming from a Thalmor, that’s saying something. If the Kink Memes are anything to go by, almost any named male High Elf has some popularity, likely because of their height, attractiveness, and fashion sense. Ancano specifically is extremely popular among the Pixiv community, to the point he's the only one featuring an article in Pixiv Dictionary.
    • Legate Fasendil, the only Legion officer (apart from Tullius and Rikke) who has anything to say beyond the stock Imperial soldier lines. Some combination of his interesting backstory, down-to-earth personality, and open hatred of the Thalmor have caused a significant number of players to cite him as a big reason they chose to side with the Empire.
    • Kharjo, the nice Khajiit companion, has become one mostly in the French community because of the French Let's Player Bob Lennon. He's also popular among the fans of another Let's Player, TheScatsbury, for... a different reason.
    • Sheogorath was always popular, but his Skyrim incarnation is especially well-liked, given that it's all but outright stated he's the Champion of Cyrodiil.
    • Lisette, the bard who works at the Winking Skeever in Solitude, is popular for being an attractive NPC. To the disappointment of players, she can't be a follower or a marriage option.
    • Sylgja, a miner in Shor's Stone, is surprisingly popular as far as marriage candidates go, due to being attractive and having a quest that paints her as a very sweet young woman and something of a Woobie.
    • Marcurio, the mercenary mage in Riften, is one of the more popular follower options for his endlessly entertaining ego and snark, as well as being quite decent in a straight fight.
  • Epileptic Trees: A few players who joined the Imperial side erroneously believed Legate Rikke and the Imperial Captain at Helgen were the same person.note 
  • Escapist Character: A master archmage, master craftsman, and master swordsman/archer; you fight dragons for a day job; you're probably unspeakably rich; you likely have high political standing in at least one hold, potentially all holds; and you can either be a Nice Guy beloved by all for your heroism, or a Sociopathic Hero who steals from and kills anyone because you're so strong and influential that no one can stop you. Being the Dragonborn kicks ass.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Being such a controversial character, Ulfric Stormcloak has been compared to practically everyone from George Washington and Robert the Bruce to Adolf Hitler and in some cases even Donald Trump.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Alduin. He's a douche, but there's no denying that he's badass. Being a spiky black dragon will do that.
    • Miraak is also quite the evil badass.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Astrid, "Matron" of the Dark Brotherhood.
    • Alva, scantily-clad vampiric seductress extraordinaire.
    • Strangely enough, Miraak of all people gets this treatment, largely because of his voice.
  • Fanon:
    • One common interpretation is that the Vigilants of Stendarr are a collection of ruthless, blindly-zealous Knight Templars, though the only real support for this in-game comes from their dialogue about showing no mercy to werewolves, vampires, and Daedra worshippers. In-game, the most they do is investigate vampire and Daedric cult activity and confiscate Daedric artifacts if you're carrying them, with nothing else to support the fanatical zealots that kill anyone and anything even vaguely related to the Daedra that the fandom makes them out to be.
    • Another commonly expressed belief among the fans is that the Dragonborn has claim to the Imperial throne. This is generally due to a misunderstanding of how the Dragonborn Emperors operated; just because one is Dragonborn does not mean that they have any claim to the Ruby Throne. The player Dragonborn isn't clearly defined as being a member of the Septim bloodline, thus not having a claim via lineage. In fact, if anyone in the game has a proper claim to the Throne, it would be Karliah, due to her possible descent from a Septim. Further, the ritual by which each Emperor took the Ruby Throne, lit the Dragonfires, and maintained the Covenant of Akatosh no longer exists after the events of Oblivion, so the traditional mechanism by which a Dragonborn Emperor is named no longer is valid. Because of this, the player Dragonborn's claim to the throne is no stronger than any other mortal's. This hasn't stopped the fandom from coming up with countless scenarios as to how the Dragonborn can "legally" claim the throne of the Empire.
    • In fanfiction, it is occasionally parrotted that Lydia is Hrongar's daughter, which would make her Jarl Balgruuf's niece. The only evidence for this is that, reportedly, stealing from or killing Lydia will cause Hrongar to send hired thugs after you.
    • Many fans equate the Vigilants of Stendarr with a real-life Inquisition who oppress, murder, and torture daedra worshippers. In-game, all they do is patrol the countryside, occasionally fight vampires and werewolves and wild atronachs, and in one case investigate a house with a dangerous shrine to Molag Bal, and don't really express the extreme fanatical views and violent behavior that many fans ascribe to them.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • The Dragonborn and Serana is a minor one, due to the loads of Ship Tease between the two despite the fact that she's not a romance option. The Dragonborn can actually propose marriage to her, but she turns you down, stating that though she does care very much for the Dragonborn, she believes she doesn't deserve that kind of blessing.
    • Teldryn Sero gets almost no Ship Tease with the Dragonborn, but is still shipped with them simply for being cool and likable. The same can be said for Brynjolf.
    • Ulfric and Miraak both have quite the fan followings as potential spouses for the Dragonborn, even though not only are they not followers, they're (potentially for Ulfric) enemies! It probably has something to do with their badassery and faceted characters.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Interestingly for a while after its release, the Skyrim fandom was rivals with the Dark Souls fandom, with arguments as to which game was better setting off some impressive arguments across the internet (despite the fact that the games were very different in most respects). As time passed, however, both fandoms mellowed, with many Dark Souls fans even admitting that they like the Elder Scrolls games, and "Dark Souls-style" mods for Skyrim have practically become their own category among the modding community.

    G to N 
  • Game-Breaker: See its entry on The Elder Scrolls.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • See if you can find a copy of the book Palla lying around somewhere - the opening lines are a reworking of Nabokov's Lolita.
    • A book called "N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!" often confuses players by being complete gibberish. If you know Esperanto, it's a simple cipher with certain letter sequences swapped for others. Once deciphered, the text either breaks the fourth wall, or it's an ancient Sload necromage magazine article that highlights some of the issues between print and Internet-based magazine versions, like image copyrights. In fact the topics and mannerisms are written in a way very familiar for those who lived during the internet era of Bulletin Boards. Say whatever criticism you may have about the Sloads, but for them, the Eternal September never came.
    • Frostbite Spiders: One wonders why they deal regular poison damage, instead of frost damage. Well, you know what happens when you get a severe enough case of frostbite? Necrosis. You know what else causes necrosis? Brown recluse venom.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Apart from getting a 40/40 from Weekly Famitsu (the very first western game to get it), Skyrim seems to be growing in popularity in Japan.
    • Conversely, quite a number of western gamers like the Japanese dubbed voices of the game (which for the PC can easily be had by a simple language change), particularly that of Paarthurnax.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Necromancers. It isn't that they toss frost spells or summon skeletons, that's easy. It isn't that they come in packs, though that is more worrisome. No, the frustrating thing about necromancers is that they can revive each other. And you always seem to miss one.
    • Lesser draugr in general (the Scourge and Deathlord variants are Demonic Spiders). They're more annoying than hard, since many dungeons have a lot of them. They also drop very few valuables and their rusty weapons are heavy and aren't worth much when sold.
    • Wolves are fairly weak, even at the start, and even if they ambush you (which happens a lot) they don't do much damage. What puts them in this category, however, is that they transmit Rockjoint, which will cut down your melee damage by 25%. And it's almost impossible to stop them from getting at least one hit in, so you'll be traveling back to town a lot to get it cured. This can somewhat be remedied with Cure Disease potions but they are fairly expensive early game and all but one the ingredients to make your own are very uncommon. Hearthfire remedies this, sort of, by letting the player bake garlic bread which has Cure Disease as an effect. You have to build a house and then build a house with a garden, a kitchen, and a butter churn first and building all those things will cost you back quite a bit of gold for having the meal on hand for cheap. Fortunately, you can become a vampire or a werewolf fairly early in the game and then you don't have to worry about diseases anymore.
    • Skeevers can be problematic for similar reasons. And on rare occasions, there is a glitch where you have become a werewolf yet nevertheless get the disease anyway, even though logically you shouldn't physically be able to do so.
    • Nothing is more comically annoying than a mudcrab with zero self-preservation instincts that scuttles up behind you while you're fighting a dragon and starts stabbing away. Sure, you can turn around and one-hit kill the thing, but you have to take your eyes off the dragon to do it. By the same tokens, dragons can get distracted by the little pests and fly off from your battle to deal with them, which forces you to chase the dragon.
    • Frostbite Spiders. Only the biggest version is dangerous, but like wolves these things just show up when you aren't expecting anything. Worse, while the wolves warn you, the spiders announce themselves by poisoning you when you aren't paying attention.
    • Falmer are weak, but they are pretty common in the game and tend to fight in packs. The fact that they're replacement goblins fits this trope to a T. Stronger variations can be Demonic Spiders to an extent, as they can be surprisingly tough, use virulent poisons and many cast ice spells.
    • The Magic Anomalies from the College of Winterhold questline. They're tiny little wisp-like creatures that fly around randomly and are a nightmare to hit. Offensively, they're kind of a joke — they don't hit really hard, and the worst they can really do to the Dragonborn is an ice bite. However, what they lack in power they make up for in resilience. Anomalies are the only enemy in the entire game to level up with the Dragonborn indefinitely; specifically, their level will always be 75% higher than yours (for reference, Miraak will only be 10% higher leveled than you, and he caps out at 150). This means they get harder to kill as you level up due to the level disparity. Oh, and when you're fighting them, you're either fighting a whole horde of them running rampant, or they're spawning to pester you during a boss fight where it's quite hard to damage the boss in the first place (thankfully, they pester the boss, too). Luckily, once you're done with that quest chain you're pretty much done with them forever; just don't ask Tolfdir if there's anything you can do to help the college, and he won't send you to find any more of them. There is one upside to them, though; you can Soul Trap them for Grand souls, making them one of the two farmable sources in the game. They also drop filled soul gems, all the way up to black.
    • The slaughterfish are considered this for a number of reasons. They are zero threat to anyone since they can't leave the water and they do absolutely no damage even if you're in the water, but they count as enemies so you can't fast travel with them alive. Unless you have the Detect Life shout, you won't be shooting them from a distance since they're almost impossible to see in the water. And since you can't fight in the water, you have to lure them to shore to kill them or blindly Shout into the water until you hit them.
    • Once you've been playing long enough, Dragons degrade from being Mini-bosses to a mix between this and an Boss in Mook Clothing. They can appear out of nowhere, are tedious to fight at best with high level equipment and after a while there's literally nothing you can use their souls for (Dragonborn, at least, lets you use them to shuffle your perks around to experiment with different builds). On top of that, the most valuable loot they give you, their bones and scales, are stupidly heavy requiring you to travel lightly if you want to actually get anything out of the fight, and you can't actually do anything with the stuff other than selling them until your Smithing is maxed out. What was once a terrifying fight for your life gives way to an irritating dragon shaped speed bump.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Wouldn't be a Bethesda game without them. From ragdoll hilarity to physics gaffes to invisible hats that you can wear with other hats, the game has it all!
    • The Saber Cats seem to be the defining example next to Giants.
    • Who stole the courier's clothes?
    • Enemy NPCs continuing their yell "YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME HERE!" after you've cut their heads off in mid-sentence.
      • It is possible to kill enemies so quickly that they'll react like a friendly NPC you accidentally punched instead of a hostile NPC that just got an axe to the skull.
    • At several points in the main questline, you'll be granted a Word of Power and will then be granted the understanding of the word from someone else, unlocking the Word in the Shout without needing a dragon soul. However, if you open a menu before that granting of understanding occurs and expend a dragon soul to unlock the new Word, the game will grant you a second new Word for the Shout and automatically unlock it. This not only allows you to skip searching for one of the Word Walls for that Shout, but if used with Unrelenting Force specifically (provided you can find another dragon soul before visiting the Greybeards, which is perfectly possible if you know how), you get the full version of the Shout without having to do the Tomb of Jurgen Windcaller. Now go forth into the world and let the Thu'ums fly!
    • Derkeethus' follower quest is so buggy that it frequently never properly starts; you usually have to find him yourself in Darkwater Pass. The upside, though, is that his essential status never gets removed after the quest is complete, meaning he can't be killed under any circumstances. Even if his stats are only average at best, this fact alone makes him one of the most useful followers in the game.
    • Crossed with Gender Bender: Male Dunmer Dovahkiins' grunts sound like those of female Dunmer in Oblivion.
    • Normally, killing a chicken (with a conventional weapon) will earn you a bounty. Doing the same by running it over with a cart will not (as seen in this video at around 5:30).
    • A case of Artificial Stupidity will make a normally rather difficult quest much easier. The "Man Who Cried Wolf" quest near Solitude involves a cave full of Necromancers and Draugr, often leveled to be quite difficult to deal with mainly due to their large numbers, and those at the top of the highest structure in the cave are the most powerful. However, if you shoot an arrow into that tower while sneaking, the NPCs there and nearby will be alerted, but for some reason the Necromancers and the Draugr become hostile towards each other and subsequently fight, and the Necromancers, being rather weak physically, end up getting killed first. Among those is the lead Necromancer, whose death will result in the quest being completed, and all you'll need to do at this point is mop up the easier enemies and just leave the place.
    • A player with their bow drawn walks slower than normal, but an overencumbered player doing the same walks faster. Not much faster, but enough that the difference is noticeable.
    • There are two possible Daedric artifacts you can receive from Hircine; the one you get depends on the actions you took during his quest. However, there is a bug that allows you to obtain both, meaning that you can pass up one of the other artifacts (such as the one you have to kill Erandur to get) and still obtain the Oblivion Walker achievement.
    • Naturally, the Ebony Blade requires 10 kills of the people who trusted you in order to restore its power. However, killing a Dead Thrall also counts. And one of the candidates, Narfi, happens to be a target for the Dark Brotherhood contracts.
    • It used to be possible to assassinate the emperor in the final Dark Brotherhood quest without being noticed, despite being noticed being a scripted event.
    • Any Dark Brotherhood quest where a scripted conversation happens after the assassination can get put off until days, if not weeks, by a guard catching you first and choosing to go to prison. No matter when you get released (or just break out), they'll still be there waiting for you.
    • With Dawnguard installed, city guards will frequently complain about a vampire attack before the spawned vampire aggroes anyone in town, alerting you to their presence and potentially letting you deal with them before they can kill any of the town NPCs.
    • Buckets, of all things, have two amusing (and somewhat useful) glitches associated with them:
      • You can clip through walls by sprinting into them while holding up a bucket, allowing you to get into places where you're not supposed to be.
      • Picking up a bucket (as in, using the in-game "grab" system) while standing on top of it allows you to fly. Not always practical since you need a way to safely land, but there's something to be said about riding a flying bucket up to High Hrothgar.
    • A late main quest plot event may potentially force Ysolda to perform a stupid action. During the battle of Whiterun, she will run to her house and lock herself inside until the danger is over, which makes sense. Problem is, the events doesn't check her status before firing: if Ysolda is the Dragonborn's wife and their house is elsewhere, she'll go back to Whiterun anyway...
  • Harsher in Hindsight: North of Riften you can find a bandit camp which includes a wolf imprisoned in a cage. Naturally, it is hostile, so the player's best course of action is to kill it while it's caged so it can't fight back. Come 2013, try telling this to a Game of Thrones fan; especially if you're using a crossbow, you've just re-enacted Grey Wind's murder at the Red Wedding.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Charles Martinet's role as the wise dragon Paarthurnax has been very well received, especially by fans of his most well-known role in which he's little more than a cheerful everyman.
    • Most characters with Keith Silverstein's "Male Condescending" voice like Nazeem and Siddgeir live up to the label, but quite a couple others (particularly Savos Aren) can actually sound quite sympathetic. Contrast with April Stewart's "Female Condescending" voice, which far fewer characters use and almost always just sounds hateful.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • An in-game book describing the events of Oblivion takes special care to mention that it was the Mythic Dawn, and not the Dark Brotherhood, who assassinated Uriel Septim. The author even points out that it would have been suicidal for the Brotherhood to have taken out a contract on the Emperor, since it would have brought the whole of the Empire's forces down on them and destroyed them. Guess what you get to do after joining the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim? Also possibly Harsher in Hindsight, because merely attempting to assassinate the current Emperor does indeed bring the Empire's forces down on them and almost destroys them.
    • Imperial-aligned characters often claim that Ulfric shouted High King Torygg to pieces - something that Ulfric constantly denies, since Unrelenting Force can only ragdoll people. In the Dragonborn DLC, you can actually use Unrelenting Force to disintegrate enemies thanks to an upgrade you can get from Hermaeus Mora.
    • One of the alchemy ingredients in the game are "Large Antlers" which can be found on deer and elk and which restore stamina in potions. In 2013, NFL superstar Ray Lewis was the subject of a bizarre rumor accusing him of using a performance enhancing snake oil made from ground-up deer antlers to give him energy to rehab from an injury.
    • One of M'aiq the Liar's lines in this game is a Take That! against MMOs. Then Zenimax announced The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO. Whoops...
      • M'aiq knows what he speaks of. Note that Elder Scrolls Online is not made by Bethesda Game Studios (the actual game studio that makes Elder Scrolls and Fallout RPGs).
    • Dragonborn adds the ability to enchant weapons with Chaos damage. Yes, Dark Souls fans, that means you can finally make your own Bass Cannon with a Skyforged Greatsword (the closest thing Skyrim has to a Zweihander). Throw on some dwarven armor and a dragon priest mask, and you now have a very convincing Giantdad-lookalike.
    • Upon completion of the Dark Brotherhood questline, guards may occasionally greet you with "Psst! I know who you are! Hail Sithis!" Following the release of a certain film in which there is a similar reveal and meme, this can quickly become gut-bustingly hilarious.
    • There's a hotel in Turkey named Azura Deluxe. And yes, they have a statue similar to TES Azura's. According to information gleaned from this reddit, the building was finished in 2015, and it is Allen Azura's Delux. The current theory is that either the designer or the person who commissioned it were TES fans.
    • In Dawnguard, the mission in which you meet and possibly recruit Serana is named "Awakening." Which other game with that title prominently features another character voiced by Laura Bailey?
    • Paarthurnax is probably Charles Martinet's most famous role that isn't from a Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey has a dragon boss, which ordinarily wouldn't be anything special if not for the fact that the dragon's design clashes heavily with the rest of the game and looks more like something the Dragonborn would slay. And then things would come full circle with Skyrim itself joining Odyssey on the Switch less than a month after the latter's release as the first Elder Scrolls game on a Nintendo system.
    • When the game was released in 2011, it became a rival to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the best game of the year. Come 2017, not only has Skyrim has been ported to the Nintendo Switch but it also has Link's Master Sword, the Hylian Shield, and Champion's Tunic.
    • The game predates Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on the transparent blue ghost archer elves department.
    • There exists an in-game book titled "The Lusty Argonian Maid". And now we have a manga about a lusty dragon maid...
    • If you ask Clavicus Vile if he could end the Skyrim Civil War, he will say: "I'd simply snap my fingers, and everyone in Skyrim would die."
  • Hype Aversion; Due to its insane popularity, some hardcore gamers vilify Skyrim, feeling it is too casual.
  • Hype Backlash: Since its release, Skyrim is regarded as one of the best RPGs ever created. While it's true, commercially, gamers point out the game's various flaws and shortcomings, especially when it comes to story and characters. Some are irritated that Skyrim is treated like second coming of lightsaber-wielding mecha Jesus, mostly by casual gamers who found Skyrim far more accessible than Oblivion or Morrowind. And don't even try discussing Skyrim on /v/.
  • Idiot Plot: The Thieves' Guild questline, as discussed here, involves numerous instances of poor planning and bad decisions by the involved characters. Examples include: Bryjolf recruits a random stranger into the Guild off the streets for no reason, and lets you join the Guild even if you botch what was an easy frame-up job; Karliah's plan to undermine the Guild making no sense due to multiple bouts of Fridge Logic, though she's apparently spent twenty-five years plotting it; Karliah wastes her one poisoned arrow on you instead of on the man she's waited years to confront; the Guild believes Karliah at face value when she presents them with Gallus' journal though it could easily be faked; and the player is forced to sell their soul to Nocturnal to end the quest, even though the perks for doing so are of little help in fighting the questline's Final Boss, But Thou Must! do it.
  • Iron Woobie: Knight-Paladin Gelebor. His entire race was destroyed save for his brother, who is Brainwashed and Crazy, and he's spent thousands of years resolutely guarding the ruins of their temple. Nevertheless, he's a Nice Guy and remains dedicated to his god.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!:
    • Some of the games' major subplots could be finished in an afternoon, and the main quest will take about 20-30 hours. Given that only one or two of these hours is Disappointing Last Level compared to others in the series... it's probably a bit better that they didn't decide to lengthen the story. Once you finish, however, there are a ton of sidequests available, ranging from questlines like the College and Companions to just retrieving an item for someone, and there's also finding all the Words of Power. Even if you don't have a quest to do, the game world is just so deep that you can pick a compass direction and head off into the unknown, where you're bound to come across a new tomb or cave you haven't explored yet. Thus, if you're planning to plumb the game for all it has to offer outside the two main story quests, you're going to be spending a lot of time in Skyrim.
    • Because of the new random quest system, there are fewer scripted storyline quests for all the questlines compared to previous Elder Scrolls games, so it can feel a bit jarring to be proclaimed a trusted and veteran member of your guild and their Chosen One just shortly after joining. This is particularly obvious with the Companions questline, where one gets to join their Circle of most trusted veteran warriors literally after the initiation and then doing one more quest (however, there is an in-game justification for this one - your swift progress is helped along by support from the Harbinger, Kodlak, because he recognizes you from a prophetic dream). You're also getting help from Aela and Skjorr, because of the debate in the Circle about the matter of being werewolves, and Skjorr and Aela made you one basically to try and weigh Circle opinion in their favor, or have another who could keep their traditions in the Companions alive.
    • Many reviewers feel the main questline of Dragonborn was too short, at least compared to Dawnguard; they usually say the amount of other quests make up for it, though.
  • It Was His Sled: Alduin has returned, and the dragons are returning because he's reviving them.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Ulfric Stormcloak. Yeah, he might be indifferent to non-Nords and slightly frosty, but his torture at the hands of the Thalmor was completely undeserved and he honestly feels that Skyrim's plight cannot be resolved in any other way apart from Civil War.
    • Delphine and Esbern may be rude and impolite, and few fans condone their attitude towards Paarthurnax, but the fact of the matter is that they've been hunted for decades, with most of their friends murdered in cold blood.
    • Braith in Whiterun earned the playerbase's ire for being a rude, aggressive bully to pretty much everyone. Talk to her and listen to her conversations with her parents, and you learn that she bullies a boy her age because she has a crush on him and can't figure out how to express it, and isn't getting any help from her mother (who pretty much ignores her) or her father (who tries to help but is pretty clueless about how). Suddenly she seems less like an archery target and more like an ordinary confused kid.
    • Tobjorn Shatter-Shield in Windhelm. He may be a Corrupt Corporate Executive that treats his Argonian workers like dirt and hires pirates to attack his competitors, but the man's also depressed from the murder of his daughter, has to support a grieving wife who took said murder even harder, and to top it off, his family's Ancestral Weapon was stolen by a family friend who pinned the blame on another family friend. It gets even worse if you choose to kill his remaining daughter, who is an optional target for the Dark Brotherhood questline; his wife will be Driven to Suicide, leaving him all alone. The man cannot seem to catch a break.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: The Dragonborn, obviously. It helps that there's canonically over 50 characters in Skyrim they can marry regardless of race or gender, but to list everybody who has been shipped with them would take up way too much space.
  • Love to Hate: Not any of the villains, but Nazeem. The guy's smarminess makes him one of the more memorable characters in the game, and hatred for him is so universal it almost loops around to making him popular.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Hermaeus Mora. He's the only Daedric Prince you actually have to deal with to get through the main story, since he sets up a meeting with you when you go looking for an Elder Scroll to help you against Alduin so that you can run an errand for him while you're at it. What's more, the Dragonborn DLC has him manipulating the hell out of you, while making it incredibly difficult to say no due to all the nice things he gives you to play around with and the fact that you pretty much have to play by his rules if you want to be able to defeat Miraak. Not to mention that he gets away with it.
      • That said, it's tough to really put a finger on exactly what he "gets away with". Throughout the entire game (base and DLC) he kills a total of three people - One who actively attempted to screw him over, one who was the leader of a tribe that willfully kept "secrets" from him, and then there's poor Septimus Signus. The most "evil" thing he has you do is to tell Storn that Hermaeus Mora will only give you the means to defeat Miraak if Storn reveals the secrets of the Skaal. Which is true, and Mora lives up to his end of the bargain.
    • Ancano. While his true intentions didn't come off as a surprise, he made a valiant attempt in hiding it. He almost succeeded in achieving the Thalmor's main plan on his own in a short amount of time by using the Eye of Magnus to create the apocalypse.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Lydia quickly became one. Though housecarls in general are pretty tough, Lydia is the one almost every player has. She can survive being hurled off a mountain.
    • Horses can scale any mountain, no matter how steep the climb. Physics? What's that?
    • Giants, too, due to a Good Bad Bug that lets them knock players into the sky with their clubs.
    • Ysgramor, in-universe. He could eat soup with a fork.
    • For most people, slaying a dragon is the most awesome thing you can do in your life. For the Dovahkiin, it's all in a day's work.
    • While they're more well-known for their annoying lines, the hold guards actually scale with the player up to level 50. It's amusing when the battle music blares up in a town because a wild dragon decided to attack and the guards then proceed to annihilate the poor bastard before the Dragonborn can show up.
    • Many fans have declared Neloth the only NPC who has earned the right to brag about himself.
    • Jarl Balgruuf has also become one of those, thanks to his extreme competence as a ruler and warrior while remaining entirely polite and benevolent towards his subjects. Quite a few players were surprised and disappointed to discover that they couldn't support him as High King of Skyrim over the two canonical candidates by beating both sides into submission. This has led to claims such as that the reason he can't become High King would be because he's destined to be Emperor.
  • Memetic Molester:
    • Unsurprisingly, Hermaeus Mora, due to his tendency to get rather... physical with his tentacles. The voice doesn't help.
    • There's also Belethor, the General goods store owner in Whiterun, for his creepy jokes (or are they?) about buying and selling relatives; and Aerin, better known as the guy who stalks Mjoll the Lioness everywhere she goes and stands next to her bed watching her while she sleeps.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own section on the Elder Scrolls page, but for a quick run-down...
    • This piece of concept art was mistaken by many people to be depicting the player facing a bear with tentacles coming out of its lower half (due to mammoths having four tusks in-universe). Tentacle bears are bound to come up in any discussion about the game. It's a bear eating a mammoth, in case you're wondering.
    • "FUS RO DAH!!" It's the first dragon shout you learn and one of the most consistently useful, and it sounds awesome. In particular, the first glimpse of "FUS RO DAH!" from the trailer, always preceded by the "But there's one they fear..." narration and followed by the game's theme song, quickly became a YouTube Poop trend.
    • Weightless Carrots. This has become the rallying cry of those who decry the constant "ruined" mentality over the most inane things... because someone actually did complain about them at one point on the Bethesda forums.
    • Attacking Lydia, Dragon Shouting Lydia, siccing Lydia on a dragon, watching a giant launch Lydia into the air. And then watching Lydia get back on her feet.
    • "Then I stripped the corpse naked and threw it in the river" has rapidly become the standard ending to any story involving bandits, Thalmor agents, or anyone else a player fights. In some cases, it's actually become custom for dealing with dead NPC characters who don't disappear after being murdered, as for many it essentially becomes a funeral.
    • "I used to be a [insert occupation] like you... then I took an arrow in the knee." Every town guard ever says this, due to the recycled script of the generic guards. This phrase is then used to a tongue-in-cheek version of the trope I Coulda Been a Contender!, and the Skyrim guards is a popular subject of fanarts, usually with TONS of arrows at his knee. Now an Ascended Meme on XBox versions, as "Arrow in the Knee" is an official Avatar accessory, but the overuse of this makes it veer to Discredited Meme. One article actually analyzed it, concluding that the reason that line in particular went memetic is a combination of Amusing Injuries and because it's flatly absurd that every single guard stopped adventuring because they all got shot in the knee.
    • "Unfortunately, I am the High King of Skyrim." Came about after a Game Mod was released that let the player actually become the High King of Skyrim, giving them the power to order anyone killed, make anyone a follower, enslave or imprison anyone, etc, with the aforementioned gallery focusing on the various Scrappies of the game (and the Ebony Warrior).
    • "You cannot fast travel when enemies are nearby." Usually accompanied by a picture of someone looking around them frantically for whatever's stopping them from escaping.
    • After the announcement of Skyrim Special Edition and Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch, many fans joke about Todd Howard being a seedy businessman who will do nothing but rerelease Skyrim for the rest of Bethesda's life. Tends to be accompanied by photoshops of Todd Howard's face to vaguely resemble someone else to hype up the Skyrim rerelease. Has become somewhat of an Ascended Meme with the joke reveal trailer for Skyrim: Very Special Edition at E3 2018, which promised the game would be coming to Alexa, an Electronic Refrigerator, and the Etch A Sketch. This meme has been extended to the point of Bethesda sneaking Skyrim into completely unrelated properties, usually in the form of other games unexpectedly transitioning into the Skyrim intro (the "Hey you, you're finally awake" meme below).
    • "Stealth Archers" became a meme due to the combination of Sneak and Archery being a colossal Game-Breaker, to the point where it's joked that every Skyrim character ends up as a stealth archer simply because it outclasses everything else.
    • [Insert Skill] 100. A screenshot of a real life (or possibly fake) story accompanied by the appropriate skill underneath. For example, Man talks entire lesbian bar into orgy: Speech 100.
    • The Chicken of Doom. Riverwood is the first town most players visit after escaping the Noob Cave. A chicken scratches around near the front gate, which many players casually attack. They then find out that attacking a chicken is treated the same as attacking a person: everyone in town will suddenly attempt to slaughter you.
    • "A NEW HAND TOUCHES DA BEACON!" uttered by Meridia upon grabbing her Beacon. This is almost always the title of any reddit post depicting a dodecahedron encountered in real life. The rest of the comments are usually more Meridia quotes.
    • "Rorikroll" Explanation 
  • Mondegreen: The lyrics in the trailer were initially thought by some to be English, but are actually in the language of dragons:
    Dovahkiin, Dovahkiinnote 
    Naal ok zin los vahriinnote 
    Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaalnote 
    Ahrk fin norok paal graannote 
    Fod nust hon zindro zaannote 
    Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draalnote 
    • Hilariously, as one YouTube commenter pointed out, it's also possible to mishear it as a spot-on Stormcloak anthem!
      For the king! For the king!
      For the sons of Skyrim!
      For our land! For our home! For the Empire's blood!
      For the Nords! For the gods! For the sole single note  son!
      Our king, our king who'll dawn with victory!
    • Also, this bit of misheard lyrics, by many a YouTuber, from the trailer (starts just after the Fus Ro Dah) and they couldn't be more true:
      • Or alternately:
      Dovahkiin! Dovahkiin! Not a single sardine!
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Get used to hearing enemy NPCs tell you that you NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME HERE!
    • Heimskr, who might be considered something of an expy of Cromwell, the preacher from Megaton in Fallout 3. Even the wiki has a list of ways to stealth kill him to shut him up.
    • Nazeem's remark of "Do you get to the Cloud District very often? Oh, what am I saying? Of course you don't." At least he wanders near the front gate for handy vampire death.
    • If you install Dawnguard and don't bother starting it for a while, you'll get very tired of hearing "Heard they're reforming the Dawnguard..." For that matter, anything the guards say can get very tiresome after a while, since they only have so many lines to choose from.
    • Speaking of Dawnguard, potential follower Serana is a fountain of annoying phrases. If she's accompanying you, you'd better get used to hearing "Where did you come from?" and "Done and done" every single time you enter and leave combat. To make matters worse, due to a bug, Serana also loves to say "Yes? What did you need?" every few seconds between the quests "Prophet" and "Chasing Echoes". Especially grating when you're forging, enchanting or brewing potions and she decides to stand right beside you and repeat it over and over again.
    • Shopkeepers in general have the same problem, especially if you're borrowing their facilities (alchemy, enchanting, smithing). They only have around three stock sayings every single time you want to buy or sell something, which will be often. Hearing them say "Trinkets, odds and ends, that sort of thing" for the 500th time can get pretty grating.
    • Most of the in-game spouses decide to become shopkeepers to keep themselves amused while you're not home. Ask them what they have for sale, and they offer the same phrases. "Some may call this junk; me, I call them treasures" is not made any more endearing by coming out of the Dragonborn's beloved's mouth.
    • The children of Skyrim have this down to an art. "Another wanderer, here to lick my father's boots. Good job." "I thought adventurers were supposed to look tough." "I bet my papa could beat you up." The list goes on.
    • For some fans, Cicero is this in general, with his constant yelling and cheering in his screechy voice.
    • Mjoll the Lioness as a follower is basically an embodiment of this. You'll be nursing a nice headache after hearing about her hunting trips to Morrowind, and her love of the cold about every 5 minutes.
    • The Spectral Assassin also counts, for similar reasons as Mjoll.
    • The Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary contains a friendly Frostbite Spider right next to the alchemy/enchanting stations. If you plan on using your trade skills in the Sanctuary, the sound of the spider walking around in its enclosure may prompt you to stealth-kill it just to get it to shut up.
    • During the Civil War questline when you go looking for the Jagged Crown, you'll end up in a part of the dungeon where you'll have to find a well-hidden lever in order to open a gate. If you can't find the lever right away, get used to Legate Rikke or Galmar Stone-Fist (depending on faction chosen) asking you every ten seconds if you've seen a lever anywhere.
    • If you choose not to do Jaree-Ra's quest, be prepared to constantly hear him say "You should see me when you get bored, stranger," whenever you're in Solitude. Some good-aligned players have agreed to do the quest just so he'll shut up.
    • While the Dead Thrall spell can be handy (it effectively gives you an extra follower with unlimited carry weight, for starters), it also causes just about every NPC to start greeting you with some variant of "That spell looks dangerous... Keep your distance." This will get on your nerves very quickly.
    • Depending on one's ability to pick up higher pitched sounds, Nirnroot can be this. Some people find its chime actually pretty soothing, while others equate the higher pitched tones as the equivalent of nails on chalkboard.
  • Narm:
    • The marriage dialogue.
      Player: Interested in me, are you?
      NPC: Well, yes. Why wouldn't I be? Are you... interested in me?
      Player: Yes. Yes, I am.
    • Gormlaith shouting "Skyrim WILL! BE! FREE!" Or anything she says, really, due to her excessive hamminess.
    • All NPCs have combat lines that relate to their position and race. Normally this isn't a problem, but hearing Lydia yelling "Skyrim belongs to the Nords!" while fighting mudcrabs is a bit narmy.
    • There is a lot of overlap between helping out an NPC via a favor or miscellaneous quest, and possibly going against them in another sidequest. For example, after completing both "Taking Care of Business" and his miscellaneous quest, the waiter at the Riften inn will be admonishing you for defeating in a brawl/intimidating the innkeeper one moment, and singing your praises for helping him make his wedding ring the next.
    • The overly dramatic tone in Karliah's voice when, near the end of the Thieves' Guild questline, she warns you that once you've chosen your Nightingale power, you can't change it for at least a day.
    • The cutscene of the three Nord heroes defeating Alduin in the past comes off as funny rather than epic, watching these actors swing their weapons around clumsily while screaming fearsome battle cries.
    • The female Argonians in the game have voices that make them sound much older than they actually are. Because of this, it's really hard to take a heartwarming moment like marriage seriously.
    • When assassinating Vittoria Vici in the Dark Brotherhood questline, one of the guests' responses is, "Oh no no no this is so wrong." It would be appropriate for the situation if the line wasn't delivered in a complete deadpan.
    • The daedra-hunting Vigilants of Stendarr are played up as a kind of badass cadre of Knight Templars, but it can be hard to take them seriously when one of them tries to sound badass while shpeaking a very notishable lishp.
    "The Mershy of Shtendarr doesh not ekshtend to daedra worshippersh."
    • When you're about to land a killing shot with a bow and the camera cinematically shows the arrow about to land its target... before promptly failing to do so, whizzing past their head. Or, better yet, landing the shot and getting to see a close-up of the arrow as someone gets shot in the butt and flung over a hill.
    • The Dragon Aspect Shout does not give you spectral wings or a tail, like you would expect. It instead gives you spikes, which run down your body to your crotch. It looks as silly as it sounds. As if that wasn't enough, Miraak uses this Shout too, which might make you snicker when you're supposed to be intimidated.
  • Narm Charm:
    • There is something about Neloth's idiosyncrasies that makes him seem both so over the top and a complete badass.
    • Bandits in general are this:
      "Die already so I can take your stuff!"
      "You are so much easier to rob when you're dead!"
      "Use your smarts, they said... go to the college... how am I supposed to figure out which college he meant..."
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • Peryite's quest, "The Only Cure". You can meet a passive Afflicted early on, which indicates to you that The Virus in this example rots your skin somewhat. In the quest itself, you encounter aggressive Afflicted who can attack you Linda Blair-style with streams of vomit. Oh, and the condition is a "blessing," according to Peryite.
    • Namira's Daedric quest, where you slaughter a man in cold blood on a rather disturbing-looking altar and then shovel gobs of his raw flesh into your mouth with your bare hands. Then Namira speaks to you and congratulates you for your actions. Notable in that, if you want 100% Completion, doing this is mandatory. The fact that the cannibal eating animations were amount to tickling alleviates it somewhat though.
    • A tamer one comes at the very beginning of the game, after the guy before you has his head chopped off. You are placed on the chopping block next, with a perfect few seconds before Alduin shows up in which you can clearly view his severed head right below you.
    • The Frostflow Lighthouse mini-quest ends with you killing a Chaurus Reaper and then looting it for a man's remains, leading to the pleasant mental image of you cutting the beast open and extracting a mostly-digested corpse from its belly.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The Revered dragons are a little too goofy looking to take seriously.
    O to Z 
  • One-Scene Wonder: Roggvir only gets a few minutes in one scene to chew the scenery, and he makes a meal of it.
  • Pandering to the Base:
    • Probably the main reason the Spectral Assassin, aka Lucien Lachance was added to the game, because he was an extremely popular character in Oblivion, and players sorely missed him after he was killed at the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline.
    • The return to Solstheim in Dragonborn, getting a check-in on the Dunmer, and the return of some of the best musics of Morrowind was a huge bone to throw to Morrowind fans peeved about the off-screen destruction of Vvardenfell during the Time Skip since Oblivion.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • Dragons can attack you anywhere as long as the sky is visible, even inside cities. Half the time your only warning that a dragon is about to attack is when it suddenly roars and drops down on you. The other half of the time, they don't even do that. Even in the courtyard of the mage college, in the middle of a thick snow storm. And sometimes, they don't attack, but just keep flying by, buzzing you over and over without making any hostile moves.
    • Wondering why you can't fast travel when you have no enemies in sight? Keep your eyes open and checking the skies and your ears expecting a loud roar, a dragon might come down breathing fire/ice on your head soon enough.
    • Hired thugs are even worse; they can show up inside dungeons, and have tendency to attack you in towns while you're doing things like using a smelter or arcane enchanter.
    • A specific plot instance is Alduin's soul-snaring mist in Sovngarde. You can't see him, and it is quite possible to come up to a random anonymous soldier who barely has time to tell you to run before he gets snatched away and his very soul devoured.
    • When you kill Grelod the Kind, Aventus gives you the reward, all's well and good, right? Wrong. A courier shows up with a message from someone. Whoever sent it was pretty eager to get it to you, apparently. So you read the note. Wanna know what it says? "We know" below a black handprint. Sleep tight. ...on second thought, don't! That's how they get you!
    • In barrows, the mummified corpses that rise up to attack you and the ones that just sit in their tombs and sarcophagi look very similar. In an early playthrough, it's almost impossible to be sure which ones are undead and which aren't. It gets better as you become more savvy and level up, but then you run into the problem of enemies and sarcophagi that don't "trigger" because your Sneak is too high, and suddenly find yourself surrounded because you made just a tiny bit of noise...
    • During the quest "A Cornered Rat," you might notice an oddity in Riften; there's a Khajiit named Shavari wandering around the city proper, something you won't find anywhere else. Other than that, she doesn't seem very noteworthy, doesn't have much to say, and isn't particularly friendly. But if you pay special attention to her, you'll notice she's both watching and following you from a safe distance. When you escape the Ratways with Esbern, you'll find out she's working with the Thalmor. You can also pickpocket her and find a note that basically says she's there to assassinate you... although it's made somewhat less impressive by her attempting to murder you with an iron dagger while wearing plain clothes.
    • Spriggans appear literally out of nowhere, right next to you, and hit hard when they do. As a result, you'll never feel safe in wooded grottoes.
    • The fact that players can be killed by the kill-camera mechanic makes combat into a tense affair for all the wrong reasons. It doesn't matter if the player has made themselves into an unstoppable juggernaut clad in the best armor in Skyrim; the game causes the kill-cam if the enemy's attack could reduce the player's health to zero in one strike without taking armor, blocking, or resistances into the equation. The only defenses against this are to pump health up, immediately chug health potions as quickly as possible, or download mods specifically meant to prevent this mechanic from affecting the player.
    • Have Dragonborn installed? Finished your initial business at High Hrothgar? Keep an eye out for some oddly-dressed fellas wandering around. They've been sent by Miraak, and they're looking for you. You'll have to talk to and fight them to begin the DLC quest, but if you spot them in any of the cities, run, because otherwise half the town could end up dead.
    • With Dawnguard, vampires will randomly attack people on the streets in cities at night (unless you're playing with mods or on the Nintendo Switch). You'll also encounter a "mysterious traveler" who is actually a roaming vampire who will attack people at night. You can stop them from killing someone, but you have to spot them first. Better keep those detection spells handy...
    • Also in Dawnguard, you can also encounter Vampires pretending to be Vigilants of Stendarr. There are also Bandits dressed as Imperials, who attempt to shake the Dragonborn down for money.
    • Frostbite Spiders can drop down off of the ceiling to attack the player. While most of the time you can anticipate it and see the enemy icon before they drop, if you're sprinting under the spot they drop... ergh.
  • Player Punch:
    • If you decide to kill Paarthurnax, you'll find that he doesn't try to fight back until you chip off 50% of his health. He constantly says "Su'um ahrk morah" in what may be an attempt to plead with you, as he's trying to remind you to follow the Way of the Voice. Perhaps worst of all, he's only level 10, no stronger than the early-game dragons, so he hardly seems like the threat the Blades make him out to be. It really feels more like a murder than a battle... especially when you absorb his soul. And to make matters worse, he clearly is throwing the fight. He's strong enough to hold his own against Alduin, so the only reason he's such an easy opponent is that he doesn't want to kill you.
    • For Imperial-aligned players who nonetheless have a degree of sympathy for the Stormcloak point of view, killing Ulfric can be one of these. The contrast between Rikke and Tullius's attitudes is especially jarring: Rikke clearly finds the whole thing tragic, while Tullius simply mentions that they'll put his head on a pike.
      • The end of the Stormcloak quest line is very similar. Tullius, completely defeated, admits that what the Empire did in the past may not always have been right, and basically begs you to at least respect that he fought for his cause as valiantly as you did, while Ulfric and Galmar unmagnanimously mock him as a loser and asserting that because Might Makes Right he deserves nothing, before killing him. Also even if you are of the opinion that Tullius had it coming, poor Rikke certainly didn't deserve to die, but you have to cut her down to get to him, and she gets no such fanfare as Ulfric does.
    • Narfi's side quest leaves you with one hell of a Sadistic Choice. You can either tell him the truth about his sister's death and crush his spirit, or feed him false hope by telling him she'll be back soon, which is likely to just crush him even worse in the future. It gets even worse if you continue through the Dark Brotherhood questline, as you eventually have to kill him (albeit with some evidence that his contract is meant to be a Mercy Kill). And all but one of the responses is talking down to the poor man. The only respectable reply you can give him is silence before you do the deed. To add insult to his injury, if you killed him with the Ebony Blade, it actually counts as a charge. In other words, he genuinely treated you as his Only Friend, and you kill him in cold blood and (potentially) reanimate him with Dead Thrall 18 times for the sake of feeding your Artifact of Doom? What the Hell, Hero?
    • In Hearthfire, there are four orphans living on the streets in addition to whoever's on or falls on hard times in the base game. You can only adopt two of the whole lot.
    • Visiting the Soul Cairn. All those poor bastards whose souls you stole to make that awesome enchanted armor you're wearing (or whatever you chose to do with them)? This is where you sent them. Of course if you only trapped evil people like, say, Grelod the Kind, then you might not feel as bad knowing they're most certainly suffering.
  • Polished Port: As long as you don't mind the lack of mods, longer loading times, and don't mind that the visuals are somewhere between the regular & Special Editions, the Switch port is the full game, portable, at a pretty consistently stable, and playable, 30 FPS. There is also how Bethesda disabled the much-hated vampire attacks in the Switch version.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • While the Xbox and PC versions were relatively stable for a Bethesda game, the PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim was plagued with massive slow-downs on release, almost to the point of being unplayable. This was especially frustrating for gamers who utilized larger saving files, since they had to wait months for Bethesda to finally release a patch.
    • While the PC version does not suffer many technical problems (well, no more than the Xbox version — this is an Elder Scrolls game, after all), the UI is very console-adapted, to the point that it has caused problems with using a mouse for many users (as in, the game doesn't properly register that you clicked on something). Bethesda has said they have no intention of modifying the UI themselves, but luckily this is one porting problem that can be (and already has been) fixed by modders. Meet SkyUI.
  • Reformulated Game: While it starts from a joke, Skyrim for the smart home assistant Alexa is a real thing, and it instead plays like an Interactive Fiction game.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Bosmer in general seem to have gotten out of the scrappy heap for people have more or less accepted the current look of the male Bosmers over the previous game's comical, dwarflike appearances, and a few characters (such as Enthir and Faendal) are well-liked among the fandom. If anything, people are upset that you can't marry a Bosmer in the game. Having them as Woobie Species by forcefully becoming indentured servants to the Thalmor probably gives them sympathy points.
    • Originally known as "the guy who just gives you 10 gold for giving him a powerful item in Morrowind", fans have been much more receptive to Neloth for his mad and rude, yet humorous personality. Having him give you much better rewards such as useful spells and the ability to create staves as well as helping out the player in Dragonborn's main quest with no strings attached has helped him as well.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • It's mind-numbingly common to see either side in the Civil War storyline demonize the other whenever it's brought up. For example, go to any popular YouTube video that is about the Imperial Legion and count how many "Hail Stormcloaks!" comments there are. And while some Stormcloaks certainly have a xenophobia issue, you'd think the entire army was one step away from outright genocide if you listened to some Imperial fans.
    • The Blades, especially Delphine. They're allies for a good portion of the main quest, provide you with a lot of information and aid critical to stopping Alduin, and later will go hunting dragons with you. However, once their role in the main quest is over, they order you to kill Paarthurnax, and will refuse any further aid to you unless you do. Given how popular he is, the mere suggestion caused many players on turn on them. You can thus expect many to label the Blades Jerkasses subject to Fantastic Racism that order the player around like a servant.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Delphine. A rude Jerkass who orders the player around, hates dragons (even benevolent ones) and has no interest in them beyond killing them, considers the Greybeards untrustworthy cowards and has no respect for them or High Hrothgar, and she'll coldly refuse to aid the player if they don't kill Paarthurnax, accusing them of going soft. Little wonder there are mods out there to let the player put the Blades in their place either verbally (remind them you're the Dragonborn; the Blades serve you, not the other way around) or physically (make them killable).
    • Both Nazeem and Bassianus Axius, which despite being different races both share the same voice actor (Keith Silverstein, neatly labelled "Male Condescending" by the game). The former brags about empty, false accomplishments while the latter greets you with "You don't look like a traveller. Why bother visiting Ivarstead?" while you're obviously answering the summons or going to a pilgrimage.
    • Out of the children NPCs, Braith. She's both Small Name, Big Ego and The Bully put into one, and is the only child that many players actually hate. Jarl Balgruuf's children aren't much better, which is rather jarring given that the Jarl himself is a Reasonable Authority Figure. Nelkir will mock you for allegedly coming to "lick my father's boots" (though to be fair, his demeanor can be at least partially blamed on the influence of Mephala), while Dagny is just a horrific Spoiled Brat. It's not hard to imagine that the creation of many "make children killable" mods were spurred by seething players eager to give Braith and Dagny a lesson.
    • Endarie, the owner of Radiant Raiment. She hates pretty much everyone and thinks of her customers as uncultured pigs who should spend money and get out, and has no problems treating them this way because she thinks her shop's wares are so high-quality that they'll buy from her regardless of how she treats them. Even her own sister doesn't like her and isn't spared from her attitude.
    • Taarie, her own sister isn't any better. You could be kited in with the most terrifying or noble armor (or clothing) ever, yet she'll call your outfit "open wound" after saying that "you might want to rethink that outfit" if you met her in the streets of Solitude. Even when you're walking around in Emperor's robes. The only way to shut her up is to accept her "quest" in shilling the outfit (which is no different than the other fine clothes except for the name) to the Blue Palace.
    • Lemkil from Rorikstead due to being an abusive father and a Jerkass whose dialogue is comprised of nothing but badmouthing his daughters. In fact, he will pay you to assault them to "teach a lesson". Its not uncommon for players to kill him and adopt at least one of the children with the Hearthfire add-on.
    • Rolff Stone-Fist due to being a racist bully who harasses a female dark elf as being a "Imperial spy" in his very first scene (his threat to "pay (her) a visit tonight" and make her talk is hard not to read as a threat of rape). He can turn friendly towards the player should they beat him up in a brawl, but he will continue throwing slurs towards anyone that isn't a non-Nord to hear. And to make things worse, he is an essential character (meaning he can't be killed).
    • Eltrys, for (passive-aggressively) roping you into a quest that ends you up into a Frame-Up, despite you might not want to be interested with the regional conflict.
    • Maurice Jondrelle. Being arguably the only straight case of an Escort Mission in the game (all other temporary followers in the game either can't die (f.e. Brother Verulus) or can be left behind with no ill consequences (f.e. Enmon)) annoy most players enough, but his annoying voice, entitled attitude and Too Dumb to Live behavior irritate people greatly.
    • The Thieves Guild as a whole has drawn considerable ire among fans. Reasons for this include rude or unsympathetic characters (Brynjolf and Delvin are the only ones who make an effort to be friendly), a lack of Anti-Villain traits that would make them likable or cool, an illogical ending where, just to fight a guy, you have to sell your soul to Nocturnal, and the lack of any way to bring them to justice (there was going to be a quest involving Mjoll the Lioness where this would have happened, in the vein of "Destroy the Dark Brotherhood!", but it was cut out due to time contraints).
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The broken-as-hell yielding system. In Oblivion, all you needed to do to yield was block and press a button, which the enemy would recognize and guards always accepted. In Skyrim, you need to put your weapon away and just stand there. Most of the time it doesn't work, meaning guards will keep trying to kill you for a forty-gold bounty, no matter how many times you try to surrender.
    • Marriage. Despite being an interesting new aspect of the game with great potential, many people have taken issue with it. Courtship is easy and short. The dialogue with your spouse is rather boring and often buggy, and you can't have any meaningful interaction with them apart from setting them as a follower, talking about various banal topics, or buying items. The only benefits it offers are certain status buffs, a source of income, and a free follower. It's become enough of a problem that there are numerous mods to improve marriage, including ones that allow you to marry more characters.
    • As of Dawnguard, every town has a chance to be attacked at night by a Vampire Master and two or three Vampire Thralls. Many players have noted that this wreaks havoc with nonessential quest givers and merchants. PC users can get around this with mod (look for Dawnguard Delayed) that postpone Dawnguard call out events (unless you go to the fort by yourself) or a mod that makes every non-guard and non-combatant storm in when vampires attack. Console versions have no such luck until Special Edition, which support mods, and the Nintendo Switch version, which disables the vampire attack altogether.
    • In a similar vein, Dragonborn adds cultists who will wander around any town until you kill them. The good news is that, unlike random dragon/vampire attacks, the cultists will only turn hostile when you speak to them. The bad news is that their high-level magic can easily wreck most of the town's population.
    • If you travel to Solstheim and start the main quest of Dragonborn, Miraak will appear and steal the soul of some of the dragons you kill until you finally defeat him at the end of the main quest, even if you travel back to Skyrim. The only saving grace is that when you do kill him, you get all the souls he stole from you earlier.
    • Enemies level with you. While it is not a problem if you fight all the time, the mechanic will pit you against enemies that are much more powerful than you if you focus on other aspects of the game, such as alchemy, pickpocketing or lockpicking. On the flip side, the enemies will drop slightly better loot, and shops will sell much better equipment,with appropiate prices.
    • The Grab system (picking items up) is notorious for being immensely annoying and broken, you can't rotate items and decorate your house properly without accidentally knocking other items over. Thought that was bad? Sometimes when you enter your home, you'll find that all the items you took so much time and effort to place where you want them are all knocked over on the floor!
    • Kill cams, both how they interfere with certain play styles and how it can instantly kill players without warning. They have a nasty habit of missing with projectile kill cams, they interrupt player control, and there's mounting evidence that they disregard all damage-mitigating factors: damage resist, magic/elemental resist, blocking, cover, not being anywhere near close enough to be kill-cam'd... Not much of a problem when you inflict it on people, but when that dragon bite-thrash-toss kill-cams you when you were nowhere near, had capped armor, your shield raised, had over half your health left, and were beyond their bite range. The worst part is that the game checks for the kill cam at the beginning of the attack animation, so a bandit could be swinging a slow warhammer at you and you'll be immediately killed before you have the chance to drink any potions, dodge out of the way, or use a shout. There are mods that exist just to protect the player from kill cams.
    • The radiant quests specific to Dawnguard. Rather than just let you complete a specific quest series, you have to bounce back and forth between multiple quest givers who force you into dungeon raids (on dungeons you may or may not have already slaughtered your way through) or pointless assassinations, trying to get them to lead you back to the quest givers who actually give out meaningful rewards, and even they sometimes just send you on a pointless quest instead. It serves no practical purpose except to waste your time on meaningless nonsense, and the worst part is that it can even put the quest in Dragonborn-specific locations, even if you haven't even touched that questline. Even Save Scumming doesn't help that much.
    • Pickpocketing. Not the skill itself, but the fact that it caps at a 90% success rate, making taking multiple things a hassle.
    • Destruction magic in general. While frying your opponent with lightning bolts or freezing scores of enemies with sweeping blizzards might be cool, it's diminished when one notices that spells don't scale and there's no real method to reliably boost their damage other than wear a bunch of enchanted equipment to reduce their cost and spam the hell out of them. On top of all this the master level destruction spells cost far too much to use without enchanted equipment, and require a four second pose to charge that, while cool, makes the player a sitting duck. And to make it worse, there are plenty of shouts that cost nothing to use and give similar if not better results, making destruction magic even more redundant!
    • Radiant quests are a hassle: while it's easier for the programmers and writers to have them, it becomes an exercise in boredom as the quests are very limited ("steal this", "clear out this dungeon", "find something for me") and players are forced to trek back and forth in exchange for chump change.
  • Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer:
    • As before with Elder Scrolls games, you can spend so long reading books.
    • And as with a lot of freeform exploration games, it is absurdly easy to get sidetracked while en route to a quest. Something as simple as stopping to investigate a curious landmark while en route to another quest site can result in the player ending up on the far side of Skyrim engaging in another questline entirely unrelated to the first one. Note that Skyrim has about 400 locations to visit.
    • The Hearthfire DLC will make you spend time building your houses and forget everything else.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The cart ride as your character wakes up at the very beginning of the game. The Memetic Mutation of the scene has only popularized it further.
    • The Greybeards shouting "DOVAHKHIN" to call you to High Hrothgar after your first dragon fight. All of Skyrim hears it.
  • Spoiled by the Format: Delphine. Her importance to the plot is supposed to be hidden until a good bit into the main quest, but observant players may notice before then that she's one of the rare characters with a unique voice, which would be an oddity for an unimportant innkeeper.
  • Squick:
    • Awesome, yet totally horrifying for some, is a werewolf's double-swipe power finisher; they grab their foe, lift them off the ground, and pop their head off like they're crushing a grapefruit.
    • Wear the Ring of Namira, and guards will comment on how rotten your breath smells and ask what you've been eating. The answer, if you have the ring, is, of course, human flesh.
    • Cicero talking about oiling the Night Mother "... get all the hard to reach places..."
    • Eating alchemy ingredients to learn their properties. Find a sardine in a burlap sack in the bottom of a thousand year old tomb? Gulp it down to figure what kind of potion you can make with the next one you find! Insects, giant's toes, human and inhuman hearts, the list goes on...
    • As noted above, the Linda Blair-style mode of attack employed by some of the Afflicted in Peryite's quest. That whole questline in general has made some people want to take multiple showers to feel clean again.
    • If one hangs around the orc stronghold of Narzulbur and listens for long enough, it becomes clear that the elderly orc sisters Yatul and Bolar, aunts of the current chief, are responsible for poisoning his wives. The squicky part comes from the uncomfortable ambiguity of why they did it. It's unclear whether they did it solely to preserve their own power and influence or because their interest in their nephew is more... carnal. The chief's daughter even tells you that her brother (implicitly) suspects the aunts of sleeping with their own nephew.
  • Special Effect Failure: There are several mods that exist solely to address the fact that the water troughs used by the blacksmiths have no animation whatsoever, looking more like they hold blue-colored gelatin instead.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Nazeem's own wife snarks to anyone within earshot about him stuffing himself up the Jarl's backside.
      • One of the targets of the "Hired Muscle" quest is Nazeem, and it’s pretty satisfying to give the smug Redguard a good beating.
    • If you go into Maven's house and into her basement you'll find a locked room where she's attempted to perform the ritual to contact the Dark Brotherhood, and a letter angrily ranting about how they've repeatedly ignored her summons. It's a bit cathartic to see her futile and pathetic rage... not much, mind you, but probably the best one can expect a borderline-Creator's Pet like her to get.
      • A Fridge Logic extension to the above: once you're the Listener and the Night Mother starts handing out contracts, at no point does she ever tell you to visit her. Either Maven didn't perform the Sacrament at the right time, or the bride of Sithis doesn't think any more highly of her than you do. And given that the Brotherhood learned of Black Sacraments through word-of-mouth before getting another Listener, it's entirely possible that they heard about it but didn't care enough to deal with her.
    • Grelod the Kind, who bullies and tortures orphans. She absolutely cannot be reasoned with no matter how strong and intimidating the Dovahkiin may be, and goes down in one hit. The nice, actually kind Constance is the only one who is upset; for everyone else, there was much rejoicing.
      Runa Fair-Child: Kill one person and you can solve so many problems.
    • If the Imperials win the battle for Whiterun, Heimskr, the annoying preacher, will no longer be rambling in the streets, he will instead be serving time in jail.
  • That One Attack:
    • ZUN HAL VIIK, the Disarm Shout used by Draugr Deathlords. Not only is it frustrating to hunt down the weapon that was taken from your grasp while you're fighting an already annoying-to-kill enemy, but due to the buggy nature of the game, more often than not, the weapon will simply clip through the ground and will be unobtainable. This is especially frustrating when this happens to weapons with superb enchantments.
    • The giants' attack where they smash their clubs into the ground, which deals a metric ton of damage and has a tendency to punt victims into the sky if it hits. Which, while admittedly pretty funny, also makes them extremely dangerous at low levels.
    • Magic users for a character not specifically geared toward thwarting it. Magic does a lot of damage to an unprotected player, and it's especially bad with the lightning-throwing mages that cannot miss so long as they're in range. They make the early game hell in certain places. There's a reason why the ingredients for magic-resistance potions are extremely abundant in the areas you start in, and a number of quests offer gear or permanent perks to give you magic resistance.
    • Ice Storm, when used by enemy cryomancers and magic traps, because it deals continuous damage and moves very slowly, and enemy mages get damage boosts as they level up, meaning that you'll likely be annihilated unless you act quickly. Not to mention it slows you for a few seconds. The one bit of good news is that frost-resistance potions are very easy to make with abundant materials around Skyrim, so if you know you're about to face frost-wielding mages you can prepare ahead of time. For extra fun, the Dragon Priest Dukaan from Dragonborn has an even more powerful version.
    • FUS RO DAH is both useful and a barrel of fun, especially when cliffs are involved. Not so much when it gets used against you by Draugr, since it'll at best stagger you and make you briefly vulnerable and at worst send you flying across the room, leaving you completely exposed for several seconds as you get back up. Thankfully, fatal drops are rare in the tombs that Draugr tend to inhabit, but when it's used on you by a Deathlord with an Ebony Bow, you still won't be getting up.
  • That One Boss:
    • The Ghost of Sigdis Gauldurson, during the "Forbidden Legend" quest. He's a Doppelganger boss where you have to play Whack-a-Draugr to find the real deal, they're all archers (and hurt a lot when they hit), and each one, doppelgangers and all, pack an Unrelenting Force shout powerful enough to send you flying. Even if you whack a few of the doppelgangers, the remainder will shout you onto your ass, and you take forever to get back up, meaning he resets his doppelgangers all over and you probably didn't land a single hit. By that time you'll be frantically restoring whatever health was lost when you were a sitting duck getting pincushioned by arrows after being shouted over. Of course, you can always just hide behind a pillar and take pot-shots. You even have to fight Sigdis twice during the quest. And the second time he is part of a Boss Rush along with his brothers.
    • The Dragon Priests. In particular, Krosis, one of the masked Dragon Priests that is entombed at the summit of Shearpoint... with a dragon! Hope you killed the dragon before getting to the word wall, because it's a nasty surprise for players that don't know better. There's also Zahkriisos and his Lightning Storm spell, which he can cast while moving and with only one hand. And his mask boosts the damage of lightning spells even further. If you've been neglecting your magic resistance (or even if you haven't), you will die very quickly.
    • The battle against Rahgot is another one of the hardest in the game. It's not because he himself is particularly powerful (though he is, like any Dragon Priest). It's because four Draugr spawn along with him, and at decently high levels they will all be Deathlords. If fighting against two or three Deathlords at once is a challenge, try taking on four in addition to a Dragon Priest.
    • Malyn Varen can be pretty nasty. He sics three Daedra enemies on you before fleeing to his chamber, they're fond of powerful fire spells, and you have very few places to hide. If you're unlucky, all three of them will gang up on you at once. Hope you brought some fire resistance and healing potions.
    • Malkoran is considered this not because of his shades, but because of his extremely powerful dual-casted Ice Storm that can potentially kill in one hit even in the lowest difficulty.
    • Movarth has several vampire servants that can cast powerful ice spells and heal themselves as well. Combined with Movath's own powerful spells and tendency to decapitate in melee, many players will be seeing the same loading screen over and over again.
    • Captain Hargar of Broken Oar Grotto. Sure, he's easy enough to stealth and his men are very weak, and you don't even have to kill him to finish the "Lights Out!" quest, but if you try to face him head on, expect to see what it's like on the wrong end of a two-handed finishing move.
    • Hamelyn can be a big surprise if you proceed through the Thieves Guild questline for the first time. While most of the quests involve just stealing and doing hits on targets, the last thing that a new player expects is fighting a fireball-happy madman who can kill you in a few hits and pretty much automatically knows you're there because his skeever buddies will almost certainly spot you on the way in, thus warning him. You can even confront the quest giver about this afterwards.
    • Potema can be hard, but is even more confusing than anything. Once you enter her room, she will be invulnerable in spectral form and will continually toss lighting spells at you while at the same time making you fight various Draugr (and there should be at least one Deathlord among them). Once you kill them once, she will resurrect them and make you fight them again (so loot them as you kill them to weaken them). Once you wipe the room clean, you will then finally fight her physical form which is much easier, but still capable of killing you, especially if you have been weakened from the earlier fight.
    • The Boneyard Keepers in the Soul Cairn all wield Dragonbone weapons and armor, which is the strongest material in the game. The one redeeming factor is that, if your level is high enough, you get to loot their weapons after defeating them.
    • Falx Carius is very tough, as his weapon "The Champion's Cudgel" does massive damage that can likely 2-3 hit KO the player; also, the weapon randomly shocks, freezes or burns you. Adding to that he has three Ash Spawn in the battle that are also quite tough.
    • Vals Veran in Hillgrund's Tomb, especially if your level is high enough. Before he can be killed, you must deal with waves of Draugr he summons, which, on higher levels, will include several Draugr Deathlords. You also have to contend with Vals himself throwing the occasional frost spell at you and, if you want a good sum of gold for your efforts, you have to keep the NPC tagging along you alive. The good news is that he can't be killed by enemies, but the bad news is that you can kill him if he's close to death, and the fight can understandably get so hectic that it's perfectly possible to accidentally murder him.
  • That One Level:
    • The penultimate dungeon consists of the same Draugr enemies you've seen in every ruin and tomb up to that point; the only catch is this time you have no follower and the dungeon is a lot longer. Depending on how much you've leveled, this can mean either a swarm of standard Draugr, or Scourges who may have shouts (and will destroy your stamina with frost spells) and Deathlords who do have shoutsnote  and, on top of that, take lots of abuse before going down, plus one Dragon Priest who's surprisingly fragile. Given that dungeons aren't even that long, it's an improvement. The game also throws a couple of dragons at you there... but they don't level-scale, so they'll probably end up as the easiest to kill for you.
    • The Corridor Cubbyhole Run in Labyrinthian. Have fun getting pelted to death by magical traps in a hallway too narrow to dodge effectively, with safe spots placed far enough that you may not get to them without getting hit. And may the Nine help you if you brought a follower, because they're not smart enough to take cover and will cause you to take a boatload of splash damage as a result.
    • Darkfall Passage in Dawnguard. Unlike most caves in the game, this one is pitch-dark, to the point where night vision or some form of lighting is basically required to see three feet in front of you. It's also crawling with Falmer and Chaurus, which are much more comfortable in the dark and often go unseen until they're right on top of you. It's also in the running for one of the longest dungeons in the game, and even after you manage to get through, you still have to brave the Forgotten Vale, which is even longer. By the time you're done with the DLC storyline, you'll probably never want to see a Falmer again.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • The Thieves Guild questline, for numerous reasons of both story and gameplay. Story-wise, many feel the questline is an Idiot Plot, find the members of the Guild except Brynjolf boring Jerkasses, dislike that the player spends most of the questline as an errand boy for Maven and then Karliah, and don't like the But Thou Must! of the third act where the player has to sell their soul to Nocturnal to proceed with the questline. In terms of gameplay, the main questline doesn't actually involve stealing anything, more infiltrating places to question people or beat them up, and while the sidequests revolve around stealing, the player has to complete dozens of them to actually restore the Guild to power and gain tangible benefits for their membership. Finally, there is no option to remove Maven Black-briar from power, nor any option to bring the Guild to justice (even just killing them all won't work, most of them are marked as Essential), so a player who wants to roleplay as a good character has to skip out on the entire questline and just let the Guild keep operating. Oh, and one Word of Power in the game is only accessible during the questline, so if you're not willing to put up with them you'll have to live with never getting all the words for Disarm.
    • Getting Azura's Star, a reusable soul gem. No matter which side you take in the quest, you're ultimately sent inside the gem to take out the wizard who trapped his soul in there. Said wizard is Malyn Varen, who sics three Dremora mages on you before fleeing to his chamber, and they're fond of powerful fire spells. If you're unlucky, all three of them will gang up on you at once. Hope you brought some fire resistance and healing potions.
    • Taking on Lost Tongue Overlook, a dragon lair south of Riften. Why? There's a spell trap on the narrow mountain path that casts Ice Storm, which, for some bizarre reason, does much more damage than you could ever hope to cause with it. So, of course, you'd try Cutting the Knot by knocking the soul gem out of it, right? Sometimes, that might not be enough to turn the damn thing off. Not even picking it up and putting it away may help, meaning you better be fast as hell.
    • Autumnwatch Tower, another dragon lair near Riften, due to its tendency to spawn two dragons at once. Better call Odahviing or Durnehviir to even the odds.
    • "No Stone Unturned," because there is absolutely nothing telling you where the 24 stones are. Starting this quest is very easy (a few stones are in plot-important locations). Finishing it without a guide or mod to tell you where the other stones are? It will take so long that the reward (a crown that gives you increased chances of finding gems in containers) is not worth it by the time you finish it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most popular mods on the Steam Workshop for the game is one that simply adds quest markers to all 24 stones. In addition, the only person in all of Skyrim capable of "appraising" the gems is Vex of the Thieves' Guild, meaning you must be a member yourself in order to complete the quest, although you can simply do the very first quest in their questline to gain entry and subsequently ignore them from then on. You also must join the College of Winterhold and either join or destroy the Dark Brotherhood to get the entire set. And if that wasn't enough, the final part of the quest after obtaining all the stones requires you to retrieve the crown itself from Tolvald's Cave, one of the most expansive Falmer dens in the game.
    • "Impatience of a Saint" is basically the Dawnguard version of "No Stone Unturned". Have fun looking for ten unremarkable scraps of paper in a wide-open space where everything looks the same with no quest markers.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • To some, the Civil War plotline was underutilized. The in-game story clues and documentation reveal a long and complex backstory involving war and political intrigue between many nations and factions leading to the start of the civil war. The war itself has distinctive factions with heaps of Gray and Grey Morality associated with them, many ways to interpret all sides, and an overarching conflict with the Thalmor. However, the civil war itself takes a backseat to the main quest centering around Alduin, and while the civil war questline is one of the largest in the game, it generally involves similar missions across Skyrim, just in different locations depending on faction. You can actually discuss this with the head of the Bard's College in Solitude, who comments that the war in Skyrim is just another war in history, and that kings and empires rise and fall regularly, but that the conflict between the Dragonborn and Alduin is something much more unique and noteworthy.
    • Some also bemoan that the Dragonborn DLC leaves you with no choice but to fight Miraak. Given his Mysterious Past, similarities to you, and different interpretations, the option to team up with him would have opened up much more possibilities, both in terms of questlines and characterization. Instead, the only thing you can do is play into Hermaeus Mora's tentacles and become Miraak's "replacement". The fact that Miraak has cut dialogue saying he's glad the Last Dragonborn is here indicates this actually would have been possible, which only adds fuel to the fire.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Your adopted daughters may try to take on rabbits or foxes as pets, which is ordinary cute. A son, on the other hand, might opt for a mudcrab or a skeever or even a frostbite spider, which falls into this trope since they're tiny and more adorable than their bigger, annoying cousins.
    • The Rieklings from the Dragonborn expansion, particularly those you can befriend in the Thirsk mead hall.
  • The Un-Twist: While he does a valiant job of hiding it, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Ancano is every bit of the bad guy the rest of Winterhold suspects him to be.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The new characters also attempt to carry on their daily duties while glancing at the player if you speak to them. While this is normally fine, sometimes it can break in crowded areas such as a tavern when multiple NPCs think the character is about to start a conversation; as a result, everyone stares at the player every time they look up from what they're doing.
    • Adults have very distinct appearances. Children, clothing and hairstyles aside, look like clones. Worse, many of the animations for children weren't properly rigged. When a child NPC does something like sit down on a chair, or uses an Alchemy station, their dimensions will stretch out and make them the same size as the adults.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Skyrim looks amazing, especially the landscape, which is very rugged and treacherous, and full of forests, mountains, snow and seas to behold. This screenshot contains some amazing Scenery Porn, and is really in-game effects. And for the rest of the game, the characters, weapons and locations are finely detailed.
  • The Woobie:
    • Any of the orphans, but particularly the ones added in Hearthfire, who don't live at the orphanage and are variously required to sleep on the streets, in a stable, in the nearby mine, etc. Even sadder is that you can only adopt two orphans. No Orphanage of Love for you!
    • Karliah. She lost Gallus, the love of her life, to Mercer Frey and has had to go on the run for twenty-five lonely years, with very few people she could trust, after Mercer slandered her name to the rest of the Thieves' Guild and led them to believe that she was the one who murdered the Guildmaster. Not only that, but she has had to live with not only her failure to protect Gallus from Mercer, but her failure to protect the Twilight Sepulcher, her responsibility as a Nightingale, and prevent its defilement by that same bastard, which greatly displeased her goddess Nocturnal. Let's just say Karliah has every reason to despise Mercer, and by the time you finally meet her and have been betrayed by Mercer as well, you will have plenty of reason to share her feelings, even before you find out what Mercer has done to the Guild he was supposed to lead.
    • Knight-Paladin Gelebor. He's the last untainted Snow Elf, with little hope of any others being in Skyrim or the rest of Tamriel. The only other untainted Snow Elf is technically a vampire, and his brother, whom he feels is now too dangerous to be kept alive. May also be a case of Iron Woobie, owing to the fact that he's reasonably composed about the whole thing and somehow manages to remain a Nice Guy.
    • Malborn. His family were killed by the Thalmor, he winds up working at their embassy for years in an attempt to slow them down, and in the end he accomplishes nothing against them, and unless you have lightning reflexes, they kill him, too. If you save him, however, he'll be rather coarse towards you, making him more of a Jerkass Woobie, though he does lampshade it by pointing out that he's just scared out of his wits that the Thalmor are out to get him. He'll be much more polite if you kill the assassin on his trail, allowing him to safely flee to Morrowind and out of the Thalmor's grasp.
    • Laila Law-Giver. She's fully aware that Riften is a Wretched Hive and wants to clean up the city and protect her people, but she's so incompetent and naive that she has no idea how deep the corruption truly runs, trusting her advisers when they're all in Maven's pocket; and if you side with the Imperials, Maven takes her seat and exiles her from Riften. As foolish as Laila is, she's pitiable for it.
    • Paarthurnax. He did the best he could to atone for his misdeeds by helping the Nords to rise up against the dragons, but in spite of this he's aware that he could give in to his primal instincts and has to isolate himself away from most people. And after that, the Blades still want him dead.
    • Durnehviir made the mistake of conducting a deal with the Ideal Masters for power, dooming himself to an eternity in the Soul Cairn. His greatest desire is to return to the skies of Tamriel, except he's been sealed away for so long that departing the Soul Cairn would kill him. In fact, he teaches you to summon him in the hopes that you can allow him to fly the skies once more, however briefly.
  • Woobie Species:
    • The Falmer, once you learn about how they became who they are now. The last untainted Snow Elf reveals that the race was mainly a peaceful race who just simply wanted to pray to their gods before the Nords came and claimed Skyrim as their ancestral land, simultaneously causing population problems and forcing them out. Most of the Snow Elves allied with the Dwemer out of desperation to avoid extinction, only to be turned into the Falmer (or the Betrayed, as he calls them). The only reason Arch-Curate Vyrthur wasn't turned into a Betrayed is because his chantry was isolated from the rest of the Snow Elves' community underground.
    • Although not to the extent of the Falmer, since the time skip, a lot of the races in Tamriel have it pretty rough. The Nord way of life is under attack by the Thalmor-directed Empire leading to a bloody war, and the Imperials have been whittled down to a Vestigial Empire under the Thalmor's thumb and are being forced to wage a war they didn't want. The Dunmer have lost half of Morrowind to the Argonians, and the other half was pretty much destroyed by Red Mountain after the Oblivion Crisis; they have only recently begun to rebuild Morrowind. Orsinium has been destroyed yet again and the Orcs are now scattered across Skyrim and Hammerfell while building another Orsinium. Valenwood has been forcefully annexed into the Aldmeri Dominion and Bosmer are being treated as indentured servants. The Khajiit were tricked into joining the Aldmeri Dominion, are barred from entering most cities outside the Dominion, and there are plenty of Khajiit who are unhappy that Elsweyr’s pretty much slaves to the Thalmor. The Redguards are currently the only race who are openly defying the Thalmor yet with Hammerfell declaring themselves independent, they have practically no allies to help them and it’s clear they can’t handle another invasion of any kind. Even Altmer who are openly against the Thalmor are being hunted down by them, and those who aren't so open are scared of them. The only races who haven’t been any worse are the Argonians and the Bretons and even then, they aren’t any better overall either.


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