It’s been seven years since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released for the Xbox 360, the PS3 (thought that particular port was a bug-riddled mess), and PC. It was as janky as any other Bethesda-led title upon release. Yet, for all its faults, Skyrim is still enjoyed by millions over half a decade after it first hit store shelves. Part of that can be attributed to Bethesda’s relentless onslaught of special editions and re-releases over the years, but a huge aspect of the aging game’s recurring player count can be attributed to just how well fleshed-out the title actually is.
While games like Fallout 4 and the critically lambasted Fallout 76 seem to signify that Bethesda has grown less and less enthused with the prospect of in-house game development, Skyrim remains a reminder of what they can achieve when they aren’t busy simplifying RPG mechanics and shoehorning micro transactions into their games.
Skyrim isn’t really known for it’s bosses: there are a few high-level enemy encounters which stand out, particularly in the DLC, but, on the whole, the game is more about the joy of exploration than it is the thrill of combat. That said, there are still a fair few memorable boss encounters present in this section of Tamriel that ought to give even the most skilled players a run for their money… and a few worthless ones that everyone forgot.
Here are The 10 Most Powerful (And 10 Completely Worthless) Skyrim Bosses, Officially Ranked.
20 Powerful: Frost Giant Karstaag
Technically first encountered in The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon, the second expansion pack for 2003’s Morrowind, Frost Giant Karstaag can be encountered in spirit form in Skyrim’s unmarked "Summoning Karstaag" quest.
First, the player must uncover Karstaag's skull, which can be found in Glacial Cave, a cavern just north of Saering’s Watch. From there, the skull must be taken to the ruins of Castle Karstaag and placed on the Frost Giant ruler’s old throne. At that point, he will be summoned in ethereal form and attack the player on sight. He is an incredibly formidable opponent, and players need to be prepared. Once defeated, Karstaag can be summoned to aid the player in combat.
19 Worthless: The Caller
The primary antagonist of a quest commissioned by the College of Winterhold titled "Hitting the Books", The Caller, is an Altmer mage who leads a faction of mages residing in Fellglow keep, a ruined fort near Whiterun. She stole some ancient books the College of Whiterun wants for… well, who really knows. Regardless, it’s up to the Dragonborn to defeat her and retrieve them.
Though the boss is moderately difficult if the player plans on facing her head-on, her fight can easily be circumvented with an appropriately-leveled persuasion or sneak skill. Players can quite literally either talk her into relinquishing the books without a fight, or simply sneak around to her backside and one-shot her, looting the quest items from her body.
18 Powerful: The Ebony Warrior
The Ebony Warrior is a mysterious Redguard warrior who is only made accessible to the player in the Dragonborn DLC. Once the player reaches level 80 and enters any of a select few principalities, they will be able to interact with this enigmatic figure. He will announce that he has conquered every quest available to him, and that his final goal is to fall in battle against a worthy combatant so that he may enter the Nordic realm of Sovngarde in the afterlife.
The player may then find him at a campsite known as the Last Vigil in the Velothi Mountains. In combat, he is notorious for his ebony armor, which grants him a huge defensive boost, as well as his numerous health-recovering abilities and ebony boy, which causes paralysis.
17 Worthless: Krev the Skinner
Krev the Skinner is the leader of a band of werewolf hunters known as The Silver Hand and is encountered by the Dragonborn during a quest of the same name. Though some players have expressed their frustrations with the fight, this boss is a total pushover in certain circumstances. Given that this quest, as with many of the quests leading up to it, involves lycanthropy, it can be used here to provide a serious advantage over Kreb.
When in beast form, spam the Howl of Terror ability, and he’ll flee, leaving him open to attacks. This boss becomes significantly more difficult at higher levels, so this questline should be tackled as soon as possible for those interested in lycanthropic transformations in Skyrim.
16 Powerful: Harkon
Found in the Dawnguard DLC, Vampire Lord Harkon is one of the most interesting characters encountered at any point in the game. As the leader of a brood of vampires known as the Volkihar Clan, he claims to have been turned into a vampire after pledging himself to Molag Bal in exchange for eternal life. His master plan is to invoke a prophecy known as Tyranny of the Sun, which is said to have the power to extinguish the sun and allow vampires to rule in eternal night.
Regardless of allegiances, the Dragonborn will eventually have to stop him. Though extremely powerful, he is memorable more for his backstory than for the actual boss encounter.
15 Worthless: Jaree-Ra
Found in Solitude by approaching an Argonian marauder named Jaree-Ra, "Lights Out" is perhaps one of the most memorable non-essential quests in Skyrim. The basic premise involves the aforementioned rogue and his sister, Deeja, who lead a gang of bandits known as the Blackblood Marauders. They plan on running an Imperial icerunner aground and looting it with the help of the Dragonborn.
Once that’s done, the player is forced to dispatch a traitorous Deeja and must then hunt down her brother in the nearby Broken Oar Grotto. Though the premise is interesting, Jaree-Ra doesn’t put up much of a fight and should easily be eliminated by any sufficiently stealthy player.
14 Powerful: Arch-Curate Vyrthur
For those interested in Vampirism in Skyrim, Arch-Curate Vyrthur is, alongside Lord Harkon, one of the most important villains in the Elder Scrolls series. Vyrthur and his brother are said to be the last two living Snow Elves in the land of Tamriel. Infected at some point during the Merethic Era, Arch-Curate Vyrthur blames his condition on the deity Auri-El and created the aforementioned Tyranny of the Sun prophecy to spite him.
In combat, Arch-Curate Vyrthur is known for his unique Vampiric Drain ability, which drains the players stamina alongside his or her health. Arch-Curate Vyrthur serves as the final boss of "Touching the Sky", the penultimate quest in Skyrim’s Dawnguard DLC.
13 Worthless: Hagraven Petra
Hagraven Petra is the primary antagonist of a small ancillary quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim known as "The Affairs of Hagravens". This quest is started upon encountering a conflicting pair of hagravens just outside of Blind Cliff Cave.
Once inside, the player will discover a caged hagraven named Melka begging for release. Once freed, she’ll attack Petra, her sister, and ultimately defeat her. The player can join in the fight against Petra should he or she choose to do so, though it isn’t totally necessary. Once the battle is over, Melka will reward the Dragonborn with the Eye of Melka weapon.
12 Powerful: Vulthuryol
Those obsessed with Skyrim’s dragons will want to thoroughly explore the city of Blackreach, as the hidden Ancient Dragon Vulthuryol can be found there. To bait him into revealing himself, gain access to the large yellow orb found hovering over the Hall of Rumination relatively close to the Great Lift of Mzinchaleft.
From there, use Unrelenting Force on the orb, which will prompt this mysterious dragon to appear. Vulthuryol will be much more difficult to take down than just about any other dragon in the game, and he can only ever be summoned once, so some quicksave trickery may be necessary.
11 Worthless: Drelas
Drelas is perhaps the most useless unique enemy in the entirety of the Elder Scrolls series. As a necromancer who resides in a small, unremarkable cottage near Whiterun Hold, he attacks the player on site as soon as they enter his dwelling. He is easily dispatched regardless of level, and there isn’t much worth taking in his home once he has been dealt with.
He does possess a non-unique staff and robes of extreme restoration, which can be somewhat useful. Not much is known about this strange, secluded sorcerer, and plenty of players have likely gone through the entire game without knowing that this NPC even existed.
10 Powerful: Krosis
The Dragon Priest Krosis can be found at Shearpoint, an area just west of Windhelm, and is an incredibly difficult fight for those looking to obtain the masks from all eight named Dragon Priests in Skyrim. Though Krosis would be relatively challenging on his own, his fight is made all the more difficult by the fact that he must be fought in tandem with a dragon.
Focusing down to powerful enemies will be a daring task for all but the most over-leveled players. Those looking for easy ways to skip the fight may be able to launch Krosis over a nearby cliff with the Unrelenting Force shout, but a majority of Dragonborn will have to repeat this fight several times before obtaining Krosis’ mask.
9 Worthless: Morokei
Though he certainly isn’t worthless in the same sense as some of the lesser-bosses in Skyrim, Morokei doesn’t really live up to his title. Another of the eight named Dragon Priests in the game, Morokei can be found deep within the Labyrinthian and is encountered as part of the College of Winterhold’s questline.
This zombie priest's primary attack features the Staff of Magnus, which simply drains the Dragonborn’s magic without actually impacting the player’s total health. Assuming the player isn’t overly-reliant on certain abilities that require magic, Morokei is more or less a breeze depending on what level the player is when they fight him.
8 Powerful: The Forgemaster
"Lost to the Ages" is a long and epic quest found within Skyrim’s Dawnguard DLC. It can be started by either speaking with Katria at Arkngthamz or reading a copy of the in-game book The Aetherium Wars. What follows is a drawn-out journey to capture four aetherium shards, which are said to allow entrance to a concealed aetherium forge.
Getting there and defeating all of the forge’s enemies is no small task, though, and it’s made even more difficult by The Forgemaster, a powerful Dwarven Centurion Master. He’s the last line of defense standing between the player and the aetherium forge, though he’s the most powerful enemy of his type present in the game. Defeating him will grant the Dragonborn access to one of three pieces of aetherium equipment.
7 Worthless: Emperor Titus Mede II
Emperor Titus Mede II is far from worthless, especially when it comes to Elder Scrolls lore However, as an actual boss encounter, he isn’t even close to difficult and, in some cases, seems relatively resigned to his fate. Emperor Titus Mede II has long been a target of the Dark Brotherhood, and the Dragonborn is tasked with finally bringing about his end by means of poisoning in a quest called "To Kill an Empire".
If all goes according to plan, the Dragonborn infiltrates his targets kitchen by posing as a chef and adds a bit of Jerrin Root to his food. Failing this, the player must resort to other cloak-and-dagger means, though nobody with a high enough sneak skill should have a problem with this mission
6 Powerful: Ahzidal
Ahzidal is one of the eight named Dragon Priests found in Skyrim and is popularly considered to be the most formidable of all. An extremely skilled magic user, he serves as the final boss of the "Unearthed" quest. Residing in Kolbjorn barrow following his resurrection of sorts at the hands of a corrupted Ralis Sedarys, he is a fire-based Dragon Priest who also seemed to be an incredibly skilled necromancer.
During combat, Ahzidal will frequently use his Fire Stream spell, which is notorious thanks to its non-existent cast time and unreal damage output. He can also resurrect the bodies of nearby Draugr to aid him during the fight, which makes him a real challenge to bring down.
5 Worthless: Telrav
The primary antagonist of the incredibly brief side quest titled "Telrav’s Request", Telrav is only counted as a boss because he’s a unique quest-specific NPC. Commonly encountered en route to Ivarstead, Telvar will pretend to be a wounded bandit in need of rescue.
After the Dragonborn escorts him back to his camp, he or she will promptly be attacked by Telrav’s bandit gang. The entire fight can be completed in all of ten seconds depending on the player’s level, and, aside from looting the gang’s encampment, there isn’t much of a reason to battle Telrav or take on the quest at all.
4 Powerful: Voslaarum and Naaslaarum
The twin dragons Voslaarum and Naaslaarum are about as challenging to fight as their names are to spell. Encountered on an icy lake in the Forgotten Vale in Skyrim’s Dawnguard expansion, these two are formidable opponents which serve as bosses near the end of "Touching the Sky" quest.
This quest is the second to last in the main questline for the DLC, and, as such, should not be underestimated. That said, if the player embarks on this quest before completing the Dragon Rising quest, Voslaarum and Naaslaarum will be replaced by a pair of ice wraiths and the player will have to return later to encounter these unique enemies.
3 Worthless: Alduin
This may sound ridiculous from a lore perspective, but Alduin — named “Word Eater” in Dovahzul — is likely the most underwhelming boss in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Apparently an incredibly powerful dragon, Alduin serves as the main questline’s final boss encounter. He certainly doesn’t live up to his lofty status, though, and most players should find themselves dispatching him without breaking a sweat.
In a way, this highlights one of Skyrim’s most glaring issues: while Alduin is a vastly intimidating and interesting creature based on what the player sees leading up to his fight, the final encounter ends up as little more than another simple dragon duel.
2 Powerful: Miraak, the First Dragonborn
Hailing from an era during which dragons ruled over mortals, Miraak was the first known human to master the Bend Will Dragon Shout, which allowed him to overthrow his masters and gain an immense amount of power. As the final boss of the Dragonborn DLC, he confronts the player at the Summit of Apocrypha with the intent of consuming the Soul of the last Dragonborn and re-entering Solstheim.
He is a particularly difficult boss because, in addition to being extremely powerful, he can replenish his health three times during the fight by consuming the soul of a dragon. The tension and epic setting make for one incredible final boss, and Miraak definitely makes up for the mediocre finale of the base game.
1 Worthless: Skeletal Dragon
The guardian of the Labyrinthian commonly encountered in the College of Winterhold’s "The Staff of Magnus" quest, the Skeletal Dragon is a necromantic dragon grounded thanks to its apparent lack of any sort of muscular structure.
Not only is this boss ridiculously easy, but it hardly counts as a dragon encounter due to the fact that the player can’t mount it with the Bend Will shout and won’t be able to collect a dragon soul once it is defeated. In fact, some Dragonborn take pity on this poor, flightless beast. With similar stats to the notoriously weak brown dragon, this so-called boss encounter will probably be over before it ever really gets going.
Are there any other powerful (or worthless) Skyrim bosses that we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments!