Oh, Skyrim. How I love your rolling hills, gorgeous vistas, majestic mountains, and idyllic brooks. How I enjoy your dank dungeons, your depressing hovels, and your terrifying crypts. You keep bringing me back, year after year, first with expansions, then with mods, and now once again with a special edition that merely combines all of them into one seamless package. And yet I enjoy it now just as much as I did the first time. Truly, ours is a match made in Sovngarde.
But my god you can be silly sometimes.
And I don’t mean just regular ol’ haha silly, I mean flat out, “my gosh, this actually makes no bloody sense” dumb.
This doesn’t mean I don’t still love you, Skyrim. It just means you’ve got character. It sets you apart from other games that worry about things like consistency and plot, and focuses more on the action and the scenery. After all, isn’t a plot just scenery for the story?
Here are a few of Skyrim’s more choice plot holes. Or maybe plot landslides. You decide. Also, there’s gonna be a ton of spoilers if you haven’t played yet, which by the way, you should.
15 Daedric Quests - All Of Them
There are a lot of demons in Skyrim, or Daedra in Elder Scrolls parlance, and they all want you to do something for them with the ultimate reward being they get your eternal soul when you die. I don’t think they quite know how “rewards” work, but they’re demons so we’ll give them a pass on that.
The only problem is you can do these quests for basically every demon in the land, and by the time you’re done your soul is owed to a dozen Daedric princes and princesses.
I can only imagine the kerfuffle after you finally bite the dust and every demon lord fights over who gets dibs on your tasty, tasty Dovahkiin soul.
14 The Elder Scrolls Are A Dime A Dozen
You may have already figured this out, what with the name of the franchise being The Elder Scrolls and all, but the Scrolls are kind of a big deal. They’re ancient scrolls from the time the world was created that possess awesome power.
They also make you go blind after reading them, but we’re gonna skip that part.
My problem is that they’re supposed to be priceless, all-powerful artifacts that nobody is ever supposed to see, and you wind up with three of them. And then when you’re done with them their only use is to sell them for a mere 2000 gold each.
Priceless my Khajiit hiney.
13 The Greybeards — Great Voices, Kinda Forgetful, Actually Plants?
I’ve got a problem with the Greybeards. Ok, a few problems.
First off, apparently Ulfric, the Stormcloak leader of the rebellion against the Empire, knows how to Dragon Shout. He was taught by the Greybeards for years (since anybody not Dragonborn can’t just learn it by looking at a wall), and yet despite the fact he’s an awfully important political figure, they never mention him during your time on the mountain.
Also, apparently the Greybeards are provided food and supplied from the townspeople down below, but it’s 7000 steps to their monastery, and they only get resupplied twice a year. How do they survive without food? Are they plants? Do they photosynthesize? So many unanswered questions.
12 No One Escapes Cidhna Mine... OK, Except This One Guy…
So, during the Markarth quest line between the Forsworn and the Silver-Bloods you get captured and put into Cidhna mine. There, you meet Madanach, The King In Rags, and formulate an escape plan. After that you have a choice: you can betray Madanach and kill him, or you can follow him and join the Forsworn.
Except if you decide to ally with the Forsworn, they’ll still try to kill you upon leaving the mine. Despite the fact you are literally bringing their deposed king home, and he is showering you with accolades. Still, as you leave they’re still stabbing you.
Dragonborn get no respect.
11 A Chance Arrangement — Beggar Thieves Can’t Be Chooser Thieves
To start your life of crime (if you haven’t started it already - I know I become a kleptomaniac as soon as I set foot in Skyrim) talk to Brynjolf in Riften, and he’ll ask you to do a job for him. While he distracts the locals you basically go around pilfering things.
He’s pretty long winded and continues his rousing speech/distraction for some time, but he doesn’t last forever and if you decide to wait until he’s done, the crowd doesn’t disperse afterward. They just stand there, doe-eyed, until you’re done stealing all you need to steal.
And even if you screw up and get caught (a difficult feat given how sheep-like the crowd remains even after the distraction is over) Brynjolf still says he sees potential in you and asks you to join the guild anyway.
I guess times really are tough for the Thieves Guild.
10 Contract: Kill Narfi — Skyrim Is An Awful Place
Narfi is a crazy beggar who lives in the ruins of his family home. I should say, former family, as they’re all dead - mom and dad died in a fire and little sister Reyda has been missing for a year, and you eventually find her corpse. He basically just wanders around town begging and screaming weirdness.
And then someone contracts the Dark Brotherhood to kill him.
Why? How? Narfi is such a loveable, although mad, guy! He wouldn’t hurt a fly, and somebody wants to kill him!
Skyrim is an awful place sometimes.
9 The Silver Hand — Free Werewolf Murder Spree
One of the more enjoyable quest lines is the Companion quests. Becoming a werewolf is fun! You get to turn into a great, big, furry murderball and devour corpses while also becoming completely immune to all diseases!
Benefits aside, your path to lycanthropy is a bit of a weird one. During the events of the Silver Hand quest, as you undergo your first transformation, you go on a rampage throughout Whiterun, killing anyone and everyone you meet. The next morning you wake up and discover that despite the fact there was a naked wolf-man tearing around town (and people), nobody seems all that concerned about it.
8 I’ve Got An Axe To Grind
Let’s start small and simultaneously get something off my chest. There are grindstones literally everywhere in Skyrim. That’s not a bad thing - I like to take smithing perks and it means I can always improve my weapons no matter where I am. But despite the fact that the damned things are more common than a skeever’s leavings, I never loot an improved weapon off a single bandit’s corpse. Not. Once.
What’s worse, you get unique quest reward weapons all the time, and despite the fact they’re supposed to be legendary weapons of awesome power, they’re all as dull as butter knives. You think somebody would have gone to one of the many grindstones and sharpened it up a bit first?
7 Innocence Lost — Dangerously Unverified Assassinations
During the events of the Dark Brotherhood quest line, it’s revealed that the Brotherhood usually gets their assassination targets from a figure known as The Listener. The Listener listens (surprise) to The Night Mother, a sort of daedric undead oracle that tells the Brotherhood who is performing the Black Sacrament (depicted above) and what their assassination targets are.
But apparently the Brotherhood hasn’t had a Listener for some time, and they’ve just been killing people based on rumours the whole time. Eventually, people talk, and word gets to them that someone has some weird weekend hobbies, and they should head up to do some murdering for money.
I can imagine there were a few awkward conversations when an assassin shows up at a biology class performing dissections asking who to kill.
6 The Draugr — Tasty Crypt Tomatoes
Did you ever find it a little odd that you’d be spelunking down a crypt that hasn’t seen a living person in over a thousand years, and yet there are lit torches everywhere? And papyrus scrolls that haven’t rotted to nothing? And fresh produce, like tomatoes and apples in baskets?
I think that’s a little weird.
Apparently, the Draugr wake up and spruce up the place every once in awhile, according to one of the many books you can read during your time in Skyrim, but this doesn’t really explain where the Draugr get their vegetables from.
Also, they really could do a better job getting rid of the cobwebs.
5 Revealing The Unseen — The Best Way To Learn Is By Doing
I admit I tend to learn best on the job, but the College of Winterhold takes that concept a bit too far.
You show up, they immediately assess you as worthy of becoming a student, and then you’re sent off on a field trip with Professor Tolfdir into some scary crypt filled with dangerous traps. And all without a signed release form from your parents.
Then, in Revealing the Unseen, the Arch-Mage himself decides to send you, a student, into a dangerous Dwemer ruin to retrieve an even more dangerous magical artifact.
What is WITH this place? Do the janitors have licenses to operate nuclear weapons? Are the TAs periodically sent to Hell to retrieve toilet paper?
Madness. Utter madness.
4 Speaking With Silence — Being Loudly Inconsistent
Big spoilers here, but during the events of the Thieves Guild quests you’re eventually betrayed by the guild head, and he stabs you with a poison dagger. He leaves you to die, you black out, and that’s where you’d think the game ends and you go back to the loading screen.
Except you don’t, because Karliah saves you. And then she says she’s been watching you the whole time. Even as you were doing petty odd-jobs for the guild. So why didn’t she, I dunno, stop Mercer from stabbing you?
And while we’re at it, why did Mercer stab you at all? I mean, it was a helluva twist I didn’t see coming (the first time), but the fact is I wouldn’t have suspected him at all until he buried a knife in my gut. Why not continue the ruse?
3 Hail Sithis! — This Couldn’t Possibly End Well!
Near the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline, you kill the emperor. Cool.
I dunno about you, but when I kill the leader of an entire empire, I expect some sort of upheaval. Empires don’t typically outlive their emperors, especially when they’re murdered suddenly and there’s no clear line of succession. And yet, following his death, nobody seems to really care. There’s no effect on the massive civil war happening in Skyrim, and people just carry on their business like nothing happened.
It really makes you think.
2 The Eye Of Magnus — I’m Sure Everything Will Be Fine
After the College of Winterhold sends you on enough dangerous learning expeditions to be satisfied with your performance, a rebellious Altmer mage decides he’d like to take control of the most powerful magical artifact in Skyrim, The Eye of Magnus (that you helped find, by the way). He kills the Arch-Mage and then locks himself in a magical barrier to better commune with the Eye. You eventually break through, kill him, and save the day.
And then the Psyijic Order shows up, says they were watching the whole time, takes the Eye away and pats you on the head for a job well done.
The Eye was powerful enough to destroy the world, but the Order sat by and said, “Nah, Dragonborn’s got this.”
And then the College decides to make you Arch-Mage, going from student to head of the College in a week.
1 Reunification Of Skyrim — I’m A Mother-Bleeping Dragonborn!
I sort of expected not to have to worry about my actions affecting the outcome of the Stormcloak rebellion, what with killing an emperor being a meaningless exercise, but if you pick sides in the conflict you suddenly take a central role, murdering hundreds of soldiers and eventually deciding the outcome of the rebellion.
Except no one person has ever decided the outcome of a civil war. Ever. Not even Lincoln himself managed it, and he killed thousands of Confederate soldiers with his dual katanas.
I may be misremembering history a bit, but the point stands. Civil wars are decided when one side just eventually runs out of manpower and gives up, not when some Dragon Shouting wino appears.
Ah well. I still love you, Skyrim.