Skyrim prioritizes freedom above almost everything else. As soon as players get out of Helgen they are free to become whoever they want, ranging from an assassin to an archmage. While some RPGs have a small number of companions woven into the story, The Elder Scrolls 5 has a huge breadth of characters from all walks of life that can complement the player's unique journey through one of Bethesda's best open worlds.
There are over forty followers that can be recruited across Skyrim. In this sea of companions, a handful stand out with their unique personalities, dialogue, and sometimes entire questlines of their own. Here are Skyrim's most memorable followers and the reasoning behind them being so special.
Vampire companion Serana is undoubtedly one of the best-written followers in Skyrim, with a depth of character and breadth of dialogue rarely found in Bethesda games until her introduction. The only real downside is that once players have finished the Dawnguard questline she can feel comparatively flat, but even still she has a great range of dialogue commenting on many of the places players can visit throughout the province. Giving a follower a full story of their own might seem like a no-brainer, but Serana set a standard for Bethesda followers that was picked up via the far more fleshed-out followers of Fallout 4.
Cicero is, to put it lightly, one creepy clown. Players who somehow find it in themselves to trust a murderous jester with their lives, however, will find him one of Skyrim's most memorable companions. Like Serana, he has a key role in a major questline as one of the main characters in the Dark Brotherhood storyline. With a totally distinct voice, a unique outfit, and a personality somewhere between the Joker and Psycho's Norman Bates, it's hard to forget Cicero, no matter how hard some players try.
Mjoll the Lioness
Some followers in Skyrim risk feeling like they don't have lives and motivations of their own. This is not the case with Mjoll the Lioness. She can join the Dragonborn on their journey after they retrieve her sword Grimsever from a Dwemer dungeon, Mjoll having lost it when she was nearly killed by a Dwarven Centurion. Saved by an Imperial man named Aerin and brought to Riften, whenever she isn't following the Dragonborn she's trying to fight against the city's corruption.
Every since Oblivion, Bethesda games have been known for populating their worlds with only a handful of voice actors. This puts the unique, haughty voice of Dunmer mercenary Teldryn Sero and all the great dialogue that comes with him amongst the Dragonborn DLC's most memorable additions. Found in the Raven Rock inn, he'll quickly offer his services to the player, and can feel like something of a journeyed guide on the mysterious island. Snarky and more than a little arrogant, Teldryn Sero's personality shines through, and his shameless self-promotion and stories about his past employer give him a depth rarely found in Skyrim's hired followers.
The Khajiit may be one of The Elder Scrolls' most memorable races, but so far they've gotten the short end of the stick in terms of followers. There are just two Khajiit followers in Skyrim, Kharjo and J'zargo. What makes J'zargo particularly memorable, however, is that while most Khajiit found across Skyrim are merchants or thieves living up to their poor reputation, J'zaro's true quest is for magical knowledge. Granted, he wants to further that particular pursuit by finding "small things" in the College of Winterhold that "will not be noticed if they are missing," but that's all part of his feline charm.
Lydia is arguably Skyrim's most iconic companion. Every player who makes it through the Skyrim main quest likely had her as a follower at some point, as she's made the Dragonborn's housecarl in Whiterun. What sticks out to most players, however, is that she doesn't exactly seem overjoyed to carry the player's excess dragon bones, Dwemer scraps, and cheese wheels. Nonetheless, the hero with a reluctant but ultimately brave and competent servant is a classic dynamic. Her sarcasm is understandable, too - one of the first quests many players embark on with Lydia is marching up the seven-thousand steps with her in tow, sworn to carry their burdens.
Erik The Slayer
If players want a true zero to hero story, there's no better squire for the Dragonborn than Erik the Slayer. He has such hometown hero vibes that Nord players can use Skyrim's popular Alternate Start mod to choose him as their childhood friend. Found in Rorikstead, by his own admission he's a little green, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in courage. Interestingly, Erik is also ever so slightly scaled down for a Nord, at 98% of a Nord male's normal height, adding just a little more to his personality.
If players exit the cave after the attack on Helgen and go up the path to the left instead of following Ralof to Riverwood, they can encounter a stray dog fighting for its life. The dog may also appear as a random encounter on the road, also fighting with anything from bandits to a wolf-pack to a dragon. If they help save the dog, it will become one of the Dragonborn's most loyal companions. Not only will the dog stay with the player even when they have another follower, but it won't hesitate to run headfirst into battle against draugr and dragons alike. The dog will even show up to the player's wedding, though it may bark through the ceremony. Whether the player is a valiant warrior, a powerful mage, or a murderous thief, the dog remains a very, very good boy.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is available now on PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
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