Skyrim: 15 Most Unforgettable Characters

Skyrim is filled with new and unforgettable characters that have woven themselves into the lore of The Elder Scrolls. The characters that populate Skyrim are vast and varied. Some are important to the story, while others simply add variety to the land. Many harken back to previous Elder Scroll games, while others offer a completely new experience.

These characters range from ancient dragon priests to nobles who talk way too much. Some offer new experiences to players, such as the companion system, while others simply offer help when it's needed. A few made their mark on the world, while others will probably fade with history, but will always remain in the hearts of players.

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Updated on October 29, 2021, by Anastasia Maillot: The year 2021 marks the 10th-year anniversary of Skyrim, a game that truly defined the industry in the last decade. It's incredibly unusual to see a game life the tests of time as Skyrim has, but Bethesda has managed to create something near-immortal despite the game's many flaws.

Great characters are one of the reasons why people return to the game even years after. Simply by hearing the name 'Skyrim', fans will immediately think back to certain characters that shaped their experience when adventuring through the snowy province as the Dragonborn. These five additional characters deserve their ranks among the most memorable Skyrim characters.

15 Ralof, The First Person To Speak

Like any extremely popular game, Skyrim has been the subject of countless memes. The famous opening sequence is so well-known by now in popular culture that even those who have never played the game are likely to recognize it. The line, "Hey, you're finally awake" is one anyone will understand.

And that's exactly why Ralof is such an iconic character to the game, despite his status as a side character. He's the first person to speak in the game, the first lines of dialogue the Dragonborn hears as they awaken, realizing they're once again a prisoner with no name and past in an Elder Scrolls game.

14 Aela The Huntress, The Master Of Archery

The Companions are likely the first faction the Dragonborn will join, as they're based in Whiterun where the players are guided through the main quest. While most of the members of the Companions are somewhat forgettable, Aela is certainly not. She's headstrong and straightforward, as well as incredibly loyal to the faction's cause.

What also makes her special is the fact that unlike most of the Companions, she doesn't want to give up her werewolf form. Rather, she prefers to embrace it. Aela's also available as a spouse, and pairs great with more traditional character builds that rely on close-quarter combat, while she pelts the enemy with arrows from the back.

13 M'aiq The Liar, The Teller Of Truths

Skyrim's characters aren't just limited to random NPCs that walk around all day doing nothing or quest-related characters that serve a specific purpose. Bethesda made sure to add in a fair bit of randomness and humor into an otherwise quite serious and fantastical game.

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M'aiq, the resident source of misinformation and lies, is one great example of this and is also just one of the several characters that return throughout The Elder Scrolls game, from Morrowind to Oblivion and finally to Skyrim. These little references are really what makes the series so enjoyable to play, and the world so believable to adventure through.

12 Maven Black-Briar, The Lady Pulling The Strings

An unforgettable character doesn't necessarily have to be a well-liked one. Maven Black-Briar, for example, is deeply hated by the community. At the same time, it's quite impressive for Bethesda to have created such a deeply unlikable character. It's truly an achievement of its own.

Maven is an important political and financial figure in Skyrim. Although much of the politics is handled by the Jarls of Skyrim, Maven has her hands mixed in all of it, one way or another. Her influence runs deep, all the way from the halls of the Blue Palace into the secret dens of the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild.

11 Cicero, The Murderous Jester Who Lost His Mind

Speaking of controversial and unlikeable characters, Cicero from the Dark Brotherhood is one that often has fans divided. On one hand, he's so different from all other characters in the game that just for that reason alone he deserves a spotlight, but at the same time, he's incredibly irritating and creepy.

No matter what fans think of Cicero, there's no denying he's one of the most unique and iconic characters in the game. A jester working as an assassin, with an obsession for the Night Mother. It doesn't get more special and crazier than that.

10 Nazeem, Whom Players Love To Hate

Nazeem stands out as the NPC that is probably the most often murdered by players in the whole of Skyrim. He's a resident of Whiterun and is apparently a noble resident of the Cloud District — a fact he'll tell the Dragonborn unprompted every time they have the misfortune of running into him.

Even worse, he does this even if the player is renowned as the Dragonborn, slayer of Alduin, savior of Tamriel. His smug and condescending tone just seals the deal.

9 Lydia, The Dragonborn's Loyal Companion

Lydia isn't all that remarkable, but she is often the first experience players have with Skyrim's companion system. When the Dragonborn becomes Thane of Whiterun, Lydia is assigned to them as their Housecarl.

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Unfortunately, unlike some other followers, Lydia is not invulnerable and often meets a gruesome death, much to the horror of first-time players. Still, she's a memorable character and a loyal friend.

8 Jarl Balgruuf, Leader Of Whiterun

Balgruuf the Greater is the Jarl of Whiterun, which serves as a home base for the Dragonborn for the first portion of the main questline. He provides support to the Dragonborn and makes the player Thane of his hold. This gives the Dragonborn the opportunity to buy a house in Whiterun, a move that makes life easier.

Balgruuf also goes along with some crazy plans, including capturing a dragon alive in his keep. He's a strong leader, standing by his people in a time of crisis.

7 Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak, Leader Of The Rebellion

Jarl Ulfric is the leader of the Stormcloaks, the Nord rebels who are waging war against the Empire in an attempt to gain their independence. He is a charismatic leader and appears to have a just cause; however, he believes Skyrim should be only for the Nords, which leaves other races living in Skyrim in an uncomfortable position.

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Ulfric can be supported or fought against. If the Dragonborn kills him before the main questline is complete, he appears in Sovngarde. Ulfric might not be the most pleasant character, but his mark on Skyrim is unmistakable.

6 Delphine, Last Of The Blades

Delphine serves as the owner of the small and humble inn in Riverrun. She eventually reveals herself as the last of the Blades, a group of devout warriors whose only role is to protect and serve those of the dragon blood.

She assists the Dragonborn and helps guide them on their quest to take down Alduin. Delphine, like Esbern, represents the side of the Blades that the Dragonborn can choose, as opposed to choosing the side of the Greybeards.

5 Arngeir, The Greybeard Monk

Arngier is the leader of the Greybeards, an order of monks whose only purpose is to study the Way of the Voice. When the player's Dragonborn identity is discovered, they call them to High Hrothgar, the Throat of the World. Arngeir is the only one of the Greybeards who is able to speak to the Dragonborn, and he provides valuable insight and history.

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Arngeir advocates for letting Paarthurnax live, much to the disdain of the Blades. He's also able to tell the Dragonborn where they can find Words of Power across Skyrim.

4 Serana, The Ancient Vampire

Serana appears in the Dawnguard expansion and becomes an ally to the player. She's one of the original vampires created by Molag Bal, known as the Daughters of Coldharbour. Serana is incredibly old and predates even the Empire. She tells the Dragonborn interesting stories about her life and the nature of vampires.

Many fans recognize Serana as one of the most complex, well-written characters in Skyrim. She stands out as one of the few characters whose path is influenced by the Dragonborn, as she can choose to continue as a vampire or choose to be cured.

3 Esbern, The Blades' Historian

Esbern is the oldest member of the Blades. As their loremaster, he knows much about the history of their order, as well as the history of the old Septim bloodline who were once the emperors of Tamriel.

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Esbern leads the Dragonborn to the temple where the prophecy of the last Dragonborn is told in the form of a bas-relief. He interprets the prophecy, laying out the path of the story. Esbern is essential to how Skyrim's main quest plays out, leaving a lasting impression in players' minds.

2 Miraak, The Power-Hungry Dragonborn

Miraak is the primary antagonist of the Dragonborn expansion. A former dragon priest, he betrayed his dragon overlords on his search for power. Miraak is the opposite of the last Dragonborn and leads the player to question their role in Tamriel.

He also offers an unsettling picture of what the last Dragonborn could become if they became as power-hungry as Miraak. He stands as a worthy opponent with complex motives and offers some expansion of the lore of the Dragonborn.

1 Paarthurnax, The Reformed Dragon

While dragons are a dime a dozen in Skyrim, very few of them are willing to have a conversation. While dragons like Odahviing and the Soul Cairn-dwelling Durnehviir are willing to exchange a few words, Paarthurnax has rejected his evil past entirely and sits in isolation on the Throat of the World.

Having a conversation with a dragon, especially one as old as Paarthurnax, is a memorable experience. Despite his isolation, he craves conversation and is happy to have long talks discussing philosophy. He has a special relationship with the Dragonborn and is an example of overcoming even the darkest aspects of one's nature.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011, and is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and as of November 2021, on PlayStation and Xbox Series X/S.

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About The Author
Shayna Josi (33 Articles Published)

Shayna is an avid gamer and writer whose passions lie in storytelling. Her undergrad is in film production, and she's currently doing her graduate studies in English. When not writing, Shayna enjoys reading and practicing Japanese and the violin.

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