Seven years after release, Skyrim is still one of the most popular games in the world. Bethesda created a massive open-world game that gives even serious completionists a run for their money. Fans continue to develop incredible and hilarious mods, keeping players entertained and desirous for more.
One invaluable source for modders is all the epic content Bethesda deleted from the game. Even though Bethesda began and abandoned numerous projects, they left many of those unfinished projects in the game’s hidden files. Most can be accessed via PC console commands, while only expert programmers can locate the rest.
Most of the deleted content on this list is available through console commands. You can easily look up the command and see Bethesda’s unfinished work. However, most of this work has been completed by modders. If you like playing Skyrim with mods, I recommend checking out those mods for the most epic experience.
In some cases, Bethesda left traces of deleted content in the final game. On this list, those traces are usually pieces of a deleted quest. Bethesda removed the quest itself, but they left items, NPC bodies, or dialogue that relate to the quest. Even though a full, epic quest would have been fun, I enjoy and respect Bethesda’s method. These scattered pieces add to Skyrim’s world and reward players who would rather find something organically than follow quest markers.
With both minor quests and world-changing quests deleted from the game, Skyrim could have been significantly different. We still love the game, but here are 25 epic things Bethesda deleted that make the game even more fun.
25 A Headless Ghost Who Wants Yours
Only the most dedicated Skyrim explorers have found the “Ancient Traveler’s Skull.” This skull rests in Wayward Pass, without any body in sight.
The skull used to belong to a headless spirit!
Bethesda originally included the Spirit of the Ancient Traveler as an enemy. It’s unclear whether the spirit would have defended its skull or even been related to a quest. Regardless, the Ancient Traveler’s body was never programmed. I guess we’ll never know how the Ancient Traveler said goodbye or where its body went.
24 Skyrim’s Own Colosseum
As the oldest city in Skyrim, Windhelm boasts tradition and ancient architecture. In fact, Windhelm used to include a building reminiscent of ancient Rome: the Windhelm Pit. Bethesda originally intended to send Eastmarch criminals to the Windhelm Pit, a prison where inmates battle each other in a crowd-filled arena.
You’d have to fight your way to freedom!
The Windhelm Pit would have been absolutely incredible. Instead of wasting time in a regular prison, you’d battle in an epic arena for freedom and glory. Bethesda even developed a cast of incredible characters within the Pit.
23 The Missing Apprentices
In the magical College of Winterhold, Phinis Gestor informs you that the former class of students has completely disappeared. He tells you of the four apprentices and their magical ambitions before disappearing. Bethesda originally planned to turn this into a quest where you locate the four apprentices (all deceased) and inform Phinis of their fates.
Even though Bethesda deleted the quest, you can still find the apprentices!
The four apprentices’ bodies lie scattered around Skyrim due to magical mishaps—all of which connect to Phinis’ descriptions. This “easter egg” makes a nice, epic reward for determined players who seek the apprentices or luckily stumble across them.
22 Elsweyr, Home Of The Khajit
If you ever run into M’aiq the Liar while playing Skyrim, count yourself lucky. This lying Khajit has incredible dialogue with hilarious jokes, including meta jokes. When he isn’t wandering Skyrim, he lives in a room named after the Khajit’s homeland: Elsweyr.
So you see, this room is ironically epic. M’aiq tells outrageous stories, so of course, he gave his room an outrageous name. You can only enter this tiny room—which lacks windows, doors, or any form of entrance—using console commands.
21 Collecting The Edda
Even though you can technically become part of the Bards College, the College sadly doesn’t give you much. However, Bethesda originally planned a quest for members of the Bards College. Titled “Collecting the Edda,” the quest would require that you learn the entirety of the Poetic Edda from bards around Skyrim.
You can still hear pieces of the Poetic Edda, but it’s not the same.
This awesome quest would have turned you into a true bard. You would’ve learned the history of Skyrim from master bards, allowing you to carry on their legacy and preserve the wonderful art of oral history.
20 Awesome Weapons And Armor!
Skyrim contains a lot of incredible armor, clothing, tools, and weapons, but Bethesda deleted a lot of other outfits. You can use console commands to unlock and equip many deleted items—or even equip items in the game that are normally unattainable. For example, you normally can’t equip the clothes and armor worn by Daedric Princes, but console commands overcome this obstacle.
I personally love the Executioner’s Robes the most. I wish Bethesda had made these accessible in the regular game. Battling an Executioner would be amazing, and wearing their armor afterward would be so satisfying.
19 Rivals And Friends In The Colosseum
As if Windhelm Pit wasn’t already epic enough, Bethesda developed an epic “society” within Skyrim’s version of the Colosseum. Bethesda wrote bribery, rivalry, friendships (including friendships between inmates and guards), and more into this demented prison.
Even your own rivals might’ve made their way into the Pit.
If you hadn’t already ended Alain Dufont in the Dark Brotherhood questline, he would have appeared within the Pit as another inmate. Who knows who else might have showed up in the Pit if Bethesda had finished this incomplete, unused content?
18 Further Down The Rabbit Hole
I love the surreal, creepy world within the “Mind of Madness” quest. You literally battle Pelagius’s inner demons, all while Pelagius has a tea party (a wonderful allusion to Alice in Wonderland).
Bethesda cut even crazier content from the quest.
If you remove the invisible walls in Pelagius’s mind with console commands, you’ll discover a secret door. It stands in the middle of a field, seemingly leading to nowhere. But if you step inside the door, you’ll spawn inside a house with more doors leading to even stranger locations. With endless tunnels, shrinking houses, levitating chairs, and abnormal gravity, you might never find your way out of the madman’s mind.
17 The Shrinking House
All the unused content in Pelagius’s mind is amazing, but the shrinking house deserves its own page. When you step into the door in the middle of the field, you appear within this house. The doors in the house lead to other areas, but you can also step through one of the walls. If you do, you step outside the house—and the house shrinks. The further you step from the house, the further it shrinks. As you grow in size, you’ll notice that the house is actually a model. It rests on a table of “normal” size within a typical Skyrim dungeon. Talk about psychedelic.
16 The Mead That Never Came To Be
Bethesda originally planned to include a quest called “Supply Line.” Two twins, Rundi and Borvir, would have opened a meadery and asked you to deliver their mead around the world.
What makes this unused quest so epic is that it’s actually an alternate ending.
In the final game, Rundi and Borvir never opened a meadery. They instead were defeated in a magical accident. In fact, these twins are actually part of the unused “Missing Apprentices” quest. Their master explains that they were determined to make an excellent mead, and they were never seen again—although you can still discover their bodies.
15 Boethiah’s Bidding
After completing “Boethiah’s Calling,” you become Boethiah’s champion and never interact with the Daedric Prince again. However, Bethesda started development on another quest called “Boethiah’s Bidding.” This incomplete quest would have had you defeated Elisif, Jarl of Solitude, in Boethiah’s name. Elisif’s Thane, Erikur, would have become the new Jarl.
I’m curious if Bethesda would have explained Boethiah’s motives. Did she have a grudge against Elisif? Did she want to change the political world for her benefit? Or did she simply think adding more chaos to the world would be amusing?
14 Research Thief
Nirya carries an unending, unexplained grudge against Faralda throughout Skyrim. Despite this, the two students never cause a scene at the College of Winterhold.
At least, they don’t cause a scene in the released game.
Bethesda deleted a quest titled “Research Thief” in which Nirya asks you to steal Faralda’s research notes. You would’ve had the choice to either steal the notes or inform Faralda of Nirya’s plans. This epic quest would have determined your relationships with both characters. Sadly, Bethesda took the easy route by making you friends with all your fellow students.
13 The Secrets Of Ragnvald
Bethesda sadly removed a book titled “The Secrets of Ragnvald” that would have wonderfully added to Skyrim’s lore. In Ragnvald, you must defeat two Draugr Deathlords in order to reach Otar the Mad, a Dragon Priest. Each Deathlord carries a key (Torsten’s Skull Key and Saerek’s Skull Key) that unlocks Otar’s tomb.
The deleted book held a poem depicting the history of these characters. It tells the story of how King Otar went mad from voices in his head. He caused much destruction until Torsten and Saerek rebelled. Since the Nordic heroes couldn’t end Otar, they sealed him away.
Who knows how they turned into Deathlords. Regardless, they fought to keep Otar sealed away in both life and death.
12 A Much Bigger Civil War
Of all the deleted content fans and modders have found in Skyrim’s hidden code, this is the most significant. With soldiers across the land, the Civil War seems like it should significantly affect the world—yet the questline is surprisingly short. Fans discovered that the Civil War questline used to be far larger and less linear. The battles would have been bigger, the armies could seize and lose holds across Skyrim, and you could complete multiple radiant quests in order to turn the tide.
Of course, Bethesda could only do so much in their massive game. Nonetheless, we wish Bethesda had built the expansive, ambitious Civil War they initially dreamed of.
11 Wintersand Manor
Have you ever wondered why Nazeem—advisor to the Jarl of Whiterun, owner of the fruitful Chillfurrow Farm, arrogant nobleman who looks down on all others, notorious visitor of the Cloud District—sleeps in a common inn with the kind of people he despises? If you pickpocket him, you’ll notice he carries a key to Wintersand Manor. But no such place exists…right?
The manor was never finished, but the location still exists.
Using console commands, you’ll discover Bethesda programmed a location titled “Wintersand Manor.” So Nazeem used to have a home! I suspect Bethesda abandoned the manor but forgot to remove the key from Nazeem’s inventory.
10 The College Used To Be Even Darker
The College of Winterhold is a mysterious organization. Many people distrust the magical college. Some members practice dark arts like necromancy, and students at the College often get slain or disappear. Nonetheless, the College feels mostly benevolent, and they stay isolated from the rest of the world in order to avoid unnecessary disaster and conflict.
Originally, the College included a radiant quest called “Rogue Wizard” where you hunt down an “Insane College Wizard.” This might sound righteous, but I find it incredibly dark. Instead of trying to help the insane student, the College sends its own student to end the insane wizard and preserve the College’s reputation.
9 Ghosts That Haunt You
Skyrim already includes some mourning for deceased NPCs, particularly if the NPC is eliminated where other characters can see it. However, Bethesda originally planned to make death a more significant component of the game. The unused programming and voice clips of the game reveal that if you had defeated a generic NPC with a family, that NPC would resurrect as a ghost and follow that family member. The family would mourn the NPC’s death, and their ghost would forever haunt the family.
8 The Invisible Chest
If you run into an invisible chest in Dawnstar, don’t freak out. It’s not a bug—it’s a secret!
Since the chest nearly matches the inventories of merchants across Skyrim, fans theorize that a merchant used to be set up just outside Dawnstar. When Bethesda deleted the merchant, they either forgot to delete the chest or thought burying it five feet underground would be adequate. We appreciate that Bethesda overlooked this invisible chest—it makes a nice reward for players who stumble across it!
7 Ever Wonder Where The Bodies Go?
After a certain amount of time, bodies in Skyrim disappear. They seem to be forever deleted—but are they really? Bethesda actually programmed the game to teleport the bodies into a new location, thus keeping track of which NPCs are deceased and which are not.
All the bodies appear in a single room—and it’s absolutely terrifying.
The X-shaped room is way too small for the death count in Skyrim. If you end too many characters, they’ll pile on top of each other or even occupy the same space. You can access this room via console commands, but be warned: this room isn’t for the light of heart.
6 This Quest Almost Included Something Awful
“The Whispering Door” is already a dark quest. Balgruuf’s son, Nelkir, hears “secrets” from the Whispering Lady. For example, she tells Nelkir that he’s actually Balgruuf’s illegitimate son. Nelkir swears one day he’ll defeat Balgruuf, but Nelkir does nothing else in this quest. Instead, the Whispering Lady (Mephala) asks you to destroy your own friends.
Originally, Nelkir was going to end his own father!
Bethesda originally planned for Mephala to influence every one of Balgruuf’s children. Frothar would defeat his own horse, and Nelkir, Frothar, and Dagny would all eliminate their father.
5 The Invulnerable, Unstoppable Steed!
Karinda is actually the same horse Frothar would have ended in the original “Whispering Door” quest. Because much of that quest was cut from the final game, Karinda can only be accessed via PC console commands. Since she wasn’t completely developed and was intended solely as a quest “object,” she’s completely invincible! And when you ride her, she only sprints! Unlike other horses, Karinda never runs out of energy. If you need to get somewhere fast without fast travel, Karinda’s the horse for you!
4 Runil’s Dark Past
Runil seems like an insignificant minor character, despite his troubled past. He regrets fighting and destroying in the Great War, so he became a priest of Arkay. In his only quest, he asks you to retrieve his journal, which he calls his “collection of regrets.” The journal reveals that he mysteriously fears the Thalmor and actively avoids their radar.
In a deleted quest, you discover Runil used to be Thalmor!
At the end of the quest, a truly repentant Runil asks you to keep his secret safe. If you don’t make this promise, you can tell his friends of his dark past, and they no longer trust him.
3 Mysterious Letters About You
Bethesda deleted multiple letters, notes, and books from Skyrim—including two epic letters written about you! These two anonymous letters are almost exactly like, but one tries to convince the Stormcloaks to recruit you while the other tries to convince the Imperials. They state that you were involved in some sort of scandalous affair, and evidence of that affair can be used to persuade you to join the war.
Even though these letters wouldn’t have made sense in the final game, I love how epic they are! They add wonderful paranoia into the game. Who knows what mysterious figure or force is watching you?
2 Veterans Of The Great War
Skyrim used to have a location called Irontree Lumber Mill run by two Nordic brothers, Steirod and Trilf. These cool brothers were veterans of the Great War between the Thalmor and Nords.
Even though the brothers offered no quests, I’m really sad they weren’t around to build on Skyrim’s lore. There are Great War veterans scattered around Skyrim. These brothers would have been the perfect opportunity to build Skyrim’s world and fill in the missing gaps in Skyrim’s history.
1 Giants In The Civil War
We missed out on various quests and large battles in the deleted Civil War content, but I’m especially sad the giants didn’t make it into the Civil War. Bethesda originally planned quests that would allow you to recruit giants into your army. Can you imagine how epic that would be!? A single giant could probably defeat an army and seize a city all on its own.
I wonder if Bethesda planned to include any other species into the war. Regardless, the giants are the only species Bethesda removed from the questline.