The Life And Death Of Skyrim’s Lydia


Let me begin by saying this is not a spoiler. This is a random sandbox event caused entirely by something I did, and is in no way scripted into the game. Your Lydia could live forever. So…

There are few NPCs in games that have inspired me to write a song. Well, there’s one. And her name is Lydia. This is the story of her death.

I readily concede that there’s nothing specifically technical about Lydia that makes her any different from any of the other hirelings you can have accompany you as you play. Whether it’s the creepily long-hair-and-balding weirdo, or the guy who informs you that you’ve been a great friend to him after you beat him in a fist-fight, they’re all going to stand in doorways, walk into a rack of frying pans when you’re stealthing, or time things to ensure they step on every trap trigger just as you’re in the danger zone. It’s what they do.

But there’s something special about Lydia. It’s some combination of the fact that she’s officially appointed to you by the Jarl, and that she’s super-dooper pretty. And maybe it’s her passive-aggressive sarcasm. Whatever it is, despite her being a constant annoyance, I couldn’t go anywhere in Skyrim without her. In a large part because I kept getting killed. But also because it was fun to just have her around.

I mean, you can’t say moments like this don’t improve your game:

And so it was that Liddles and I came to emerge from the dungeons of Volskygge, near the Pineforest Tower. A Shout was written on the wall, and on absorbing it into my very being a nearby coffin burst open and revealed the very horrid Volsung.

This was a tough fight. I died very many times, very often thanks to Lydia’s determined efforts to stand betwixt me and the enemy. But with determination, potions, and some degree of skill, he was eventually defeated, somewhat impressively leaving both a pile of ashes at the top of the mountain, and his corpse at the bottom, each containing his properties like paired spun electrons.

“Lydia!” I probably actually said out loud. “We did it!”


Skyrim companions can’t die on their own. (Edit: I’m told that apparently they can, but enemies will ignore them when crouched.) If they get seriously injured in battle, they take on the Arnie-in-the-nude pose until they muster the scrap of health together to stagger back into action. That’s unless their final blow comes from you. You can kill them, whether deliberately or by brutal, terrible accident. And when they’re so fond of running in front of your attacks that’s not an unlikely event.

Lydia had died before. A lot. And despite her really adding little of use to the game, I always felt compelled to reload and attempt a fight again, this time with her seeing it to the end. I think it was because it was by my hand, and thus the injustice was too much for my conscience.

But then of course, companions disappear a lot too. They tend to fall off things, or get stuck behind a pebble, and will eventually show up again. And after a cursory look around for a body I figured that’s what had happened. And saved.

She’d turn up. I wandered about, looked in the area for exciting discoveries, waiting to hear that familiar clatter of things being knocked over and traps being sprung. But none came. So I turned to fast travel – the ingenious technique that sees horses and companions magically appear next to you. But there was no Lydia.

I went back to Whiterun, to my house and to her room, but there was no Lydia. I went back to Dragonsreach, to the dining hall, where she’d often have sat before I could afford a home. But there was no Lydia. An empty seat. It was looking bad.

I re-hired Jenassa, the strangely-faced Elf lady, because I was lonely, and still rubbish at fights. But it wasn’t the same. She wasn’t Lydia. I wanted Lydia! But maybe, just maybe, there was a chance she was still alive. Because, well, if she wasn’t, then I was going to have to face the fact that it was I who had killed her, and then carried on.

I returned to the site of the fight, a very steep mountain slope with a ruin at the top and bottom. The fight had started at the top, but it seemed likely Lydia would be somewhere near the base. Jenassa, in her actually-more-useless-than-Lydia status, couldn’t even figure out a path from the lower ruin to the slope, so left me alone for most of the search. And at this point I realised that I genuinely cared. Which was ridiculous.

Well, returning to the scene of a fight where a pointlessly unhelpful companion might have died to find her body was pretty bloody ridiculous. So I guess caring about it, even feeling a chill when I spotted a corpse, running up to it and realising it was a bandit, and then feeling relief – well, I’d already gone far too far down that road to be finding this especially troubling.


Mid-search I was attacked by a chancer group of punk-haired Bandits, who didn’t understand the solemnity of the occasion, and only added to the numbers of false corpses that made me gasp. I was gulping, running over, and feeling relief, each time the hope that maybe she was fine. Is that…? No, it’s okay. Is that…?

I saw yet another bandit body, went down to double-check, andohmygod.

There she was. Dead. At the bottom of the slope. I’d killed her.

So after taking all my valuable stuff I’d had her carry, and nicking her armour to give to Jenassa, I paused to grieve. And then decided, for a reason I’m not even going to try to understand as I can’t afford the therapy bills, I thought it necessary to “give her a proper burial”.

It seemed only appropriate that I take her back to the top of the hill, and lay her to rest in the empty coffin of her killer. (Yes, I’m going with Volsung as her killer – he did most of it, I just finished her off with some errant Spark magic. That would work in court.) Yes, it may seem weird to put her in the grave of her murderer, but at the same time, I’ve just spent ten minutes looking for a dead NPC whom I now believe needs to be moved, so weird is relative. And, well, Skyrim leaves bodies there permanently! She’d be there, awkwardly slumped against that rock, for the rest of the game. And I’d know.

So it’s at this point that I’m dragging a naked corpse up a hill. A hill that’s too steep to walk up normally.

If you’ve played games for any length of time, you’ll have learned the techniques for climbing slopes deemed too steep for your character to walk up. Essential for extended exploration of World Or Warcraft, and indeed in any number of other games, ascending mountains inevitably requires exploiting glitches and tricks that allow you to sort of slide up crevices, slide along sides, and whenever you catch a firm footing, jump to claim a few more feet. I use this all the time when exploring in Skyrim, but it hadn’t occurred to me how much harder this would be with a body in tow. The object holding in Skyrim is dodgy enough (Shift and Use, for those who haven’t discovered the unstated command), and when it’s a body you’re trying to lug around it’s difficult enough to walk in a straight line. Let alone scale a slope while attempting to exploit glitches.

You can’t jump when you’re holding a naked dead Lydia. And to get up there, jumping is pretty essential. Which meant developing a new technique that involved ‘throwing’ Lydia up the hill, then jumping, and trying to catch her again.

I was not successful first time. Nor the third.

At this point my wife, Laura, has walked in, and she’s watching me waving a dead body in its bra and knickers, legs hideously splayed, around a mountain. “Is that Lydia?” she asks. She knew the name because my disappearing to play some Skyrim had become known as, “I’m just off to see Lydia.” And she knew Lydia had died because I’d previously wailed down the stairs, “Lydia’s dead!” She told me to take a screenshot while she changed into something black. She is sarcastic, and doesn’t care about Lydia.

“Why is she in her bra and pants?”

“Because I needed her armour.”


And videogames are thus further condemned. And then I drop Lydia, and she slides all the way down the mountain to the very bottom, crashing nakedly into the rocks yet again. And Laura looks at the ground, and leaves the room.

I do get her there. Getting her into the coffin is an ugly, awful sight. Trying to arrange her arms and legs, so she doesn’t reach the Norse gods all twisted up, is complex and certainly disgusting. But I get there. And there she is, lying peacefully before the impressive Shout-containing wall, in the splendour of the snowy vista. She’d want that. Were she a person, and not some crappy AI.

And then I remember I have a spell for reanimating corpses.

Well, you would too.

I’m not sure what I was expecting. The spell causes a dead body to become a supporting zombie for 60 seconds. I could keep casting it on her, once a minute, and pretend she was still with me? That wouldn’t be strange. I could at least get her home, have her corpse in my house, like any normal person.

But it didn’t work. It wasn’t a powerful enough spell. Or Lydia was too powerful for it, as the game reported. And I was finally able to let her rest, to carry on.

Until I found a more powerful reanimate corpse spell for sale. One that reported it could bring more powerful dead types back. So maybe? I returned to where her body was still laid in its open casket, presumably preserved by the cold. And, well, I tried again.

She is gone. And I am coming to terms with that. I am moving on. I am learning to shout at Janessa instead, entirely unfairly claiming that “Lydia would never have done that,” knowing full well she would have. Laura is getting used to my talking out loud to a completely new imaginary person, where “getting used to” means “is increasingly worried by”.

“It would be fine if it were normal videogaming things, like ‘WOAH!’ or ‘I can’t believe it!’ But you’re having conversations. Serious conversations.”

Apparently that’s wrong.


  1. The Ninja Foodstuff formerly known as ASBO says:


    I haven’t gotten very far into this game yet. Probably I should stop reading all these articles.

  2. pakoito says:


    • Stijn says:

      How is this a spoiler? Whether Lydia dies or not completely depends on what situations you drag her into, it’s not a plot point or something.

      Or is it sarcasm? Oh, internet, the things you do to me.

    • pakoito says:

      I didn’t bother reading in case it was a spoiler. I ask someone or read the comments then EDIT OUT.

    • mondomau says:

      Don’t you mean: “I completely over-react and make an ass out of myself, before editing out to try and cover it up” ?

    • pakoito says:

      I sometimes wish I had better English so I could make such accurate phrases.

  3. Jarenth says:

    This is at once beautiful and very disturbing.

    Also, I feel I should point this out: when you reanimate a corpse, it turns into a pile of glowing blue ash after the spell ends or it gets killed. So it’s probably for the best that plan didn’t work.

    • adobewan says:

      Cremation is not the Nord way…

    • Rob Maguire says:

      My experiments with Necromancy in Skyrim ended when I accidentally clipped my zombie’s head with a greatsword, and as it died it moaned a guttural “thank you”. After that, I paused the game and stared at the wall for a while.

      So it’s maybe not the best fate to choose for Lydia.

  4. WMain00 says:

    Might be time to seek help John.

  5. John Walker says:

    Siiiiiiiigh – it’s not a spoiler! It’s an unscripted sandbox event caused by my killing Lydia during a fight! As if I’d post a spoiler that big on the top of the site, for goodness sake.

    • testman3 says:

      Why did you have to ruin the article for me by saying that it isn’t a spoiler right at the beginning? I wanted to find out for myself whether this would turn out to be a spoiler or not. :S

    • Arkanos says:

      The spell you need is thus; Dead Thrall

      From: link to

    • Burning Man says:

      That… may not be such a great idea either. Dead Thrall turns them into a zombie, which means they feel the need to go “Uhh…” every 20 seconds, which can get very annoying. Also, you can’t trade items with them or give them commands. So she would have fought everyone with her bare hands and no armour.

    • roethle says:

      John you can also go into the command console and type “Resurrect (000a2c94)” it will through some dark and unknown power summon Lydia back to the land of the living.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Sometimes when she is killed she can randomly appear dead in rooms when you buy a house and also randomly appear dead once you are in a wedding ceremony with another NPC, which will force the person you are about to marry to leave and dislike you. However, there is a way to fix this. Go to console, enter a2c94.resurrect and then you can marry anyone you want. She will return to Dragonsreach, and will be a hireable companion again.

      Now, THAT is creepy.

    • MarkN says:

      I had to use a console “resurrect” command in Morrowind. I was on a mission for one of the houses, and was asked to assassinate some chap. Trouble was I’d already killed him, and was in fact living in his house.

      So I resurrected him, and then killed him again. That felt quite odd…

    • Clash says:

      Perhaps you should pile some flowers around her? Pay your respects and all that.

    • Partialist says:

      Let me begin by saying this is not a spoiler. This is a random sandbox event…

      …I came to emerge from the dungeons of Volskygge, near the Pineforest Tower. A Shout was written on the wall …a nearby coffin burst open and revealed the very horrid Volsung.

      I’ve played for 23.8 hours and these locations aren’t on my map yet…

    • Carr0t says:

      @Partialist That doesn’t make it a spoiler. Listing the names of random locations and bad guys does not a spoiler make. If he’d said what quest the dude is a part of, and how he ties in to the greater story (if he does at all and is not, in fact, a random sidequest) then it would be a spoiler. I can guess that Dragon Shouts are going to turn up around the place despite not having Skyrim yet (need a better PC to run it on). I can also guess that things will happen that make me jump, and that there will be a lot of things I should kill.

      It’s akin to me saying. “There’s this really awesome bit in Half Life 2 where you go to a place called Ravenholm”. If you have played that bit already you can go “Yeah, that was brilliant!”. If not, all i’ve given you is a random place name. You have no idea how that fits into the context of the story, nor does it spoil what happens in that place or why. If you’re daft enough to go Googling what’s so awesome about Ravenholm before you’ve been there then you deserve everything you get :P

    • Partialist says:

      @Carr0t, I think you’re wrong for a couple of reasons:

      Firstly, it’s a sandbox game, and mentioning place names and telling you exactly what important things you find there is a spoiler precisely since searching for those things is part of the point of the game.

      Whether or not you’d assume that you’d find some important thing there or not is irrelevant: it’s a sandbox game and not all players will make the same assumptions, precisely by virtue of it being open for exploration and decision-making, for differing playing styles. Ravenholm from Half Life is a flawed comparision for that very reason: it’s linear and players have no choice but to pass through it at a given point in the progression.

      Also, I’m not meaning to disparage the article, which was great. I’m just pointing out that starting it with “this is not a spoiler” and then having a different kind of spoiler in there is disappointing.

  6. Keirley says:

    This is quite possibly The Best Thing, John.

    • McDan says:

      It is so very good, I never really use companions though. As I just get too attached to them and would end up frantically searching for them when they just can’t get up a cliff and reloading obsessively to keep them alive. I also just get too attached to the first one that I hire/get to follow me, like Cass in new Vegas being my permanent companion despite others being better.

    • JFS says:

      It’s a glorious article, that’s for sure.

    • wtf says:

      Made my day, thx for the awesome read!

    • Ezhar says:

      Thanks John. This is the Onionbog sort of writing we crave for.

    • nekkerbee says:

      That was lovely, Mr. Walker.

      I actually had a similar incident in New vegas. I had accepted Boone as a companion, needing his particular skills to save my inexperienced ass from trouble. While roving the hills we came across a location with the name Dead Wind Cavern and I couldn’t resist a peek inside… we fled immediately but four Deathclaws followed. Boone, that brave sweet idiot, stood and fought like a seasoned pro but the Deathclaws rapidly lived up to their name. Once Boone was down they turned their attention to me and I fell quickly.

      It was then I discovered that the last real save was over two hours earlier and the last autosave was exiting Dead Wind Cavern, multiple deathclaws in pursuit.

      I tried to save Boone three times and failed miserably, so I bid adieu to my murderous sniper buddy and ran away. The Deathclaws were faster and it took a few tries before I reached the safety of Harper’s shack where I holed up for four days, slowly starving and dehydrating and waiting for them to fuck off. After four days there were still two of those bastards sniffing outside so I used my last turbo and made dangerous leaps down the hills and eventually made it to Novac.

      After recuperating and restocking I trekked back to Dead Wind Cavern and found Boone’s body. I stripped it of all I could, though I couldn’t pry his rifle from his Second Amendment-lovin’ deathgrip. I dragged his denuded corpse to a rocky outcrop with a nice view of the Highway, far enough away that the Deathclaws wouldn’t chomp his husk. There I left him, and there (I assume) he remains.

      I felt so bad for leading him to an area outside our pay grade and getting him murdered by a post-apocalyptic daedroth that I had to go back and secure his remains from lizardly predation. I mean, I really wanted his gun too, but the grief, though small, was genuine.

  7. abigbat says:

    A heart wrenching tale.

    The thought of losing that idiotic, door-blocking, stealth-impaired, conversation-less, wonderful, beautiful companion tugs the old heart strings. That she selflessly carries my dragon bones, chases me across mountain ranges as I gaily leap around on my horse, and tirelessly waits outside the Dark Brotherhood club while I dick around inside says a lot about the girl behind the cheap helmet I lumped her with.

    I pray this doesn’t happen to me. But when it does you can guarantee I’ll be dragging her lovely ragdoll up the nearest mountain to put her to rest just as you did.

    That or I’ll leave her in my house as a pretty ornament.

    • Unambiguous Morphology says:

      I lost my Lydia in a mage ambush in some lonely side quest cave in western Skryim. Being of the rogueish persuasion, I usually use the ol’ bow and arrow, but there were just too many of them, and I was low on food and pots. Unfortunately we were ambushed on some stairs at an elbow, with mages above and below, jostling to hit us with frost and flame.

      So I broke out the Fire Breath shout and Flames.

      After the fracas I looked for my trusty companion, only to find her charred corpse had slid to the bottom of the stairs in an awkward position. My moment of silence was then interrupted by a roving Necromancer who reanimated the bodies of my foes!

      I have since recruited Mjoll from Riften, but it just isn’t the same. And I carry the burden of guilt, knowing that it was MY reckless spewing of fire which killed her, which always leaves me on the edge of over-encumberment.

    • dipique says:

      Selflessly carried my dragon bone. Giggity.

  8. lonesock says:

    I quicksaved before I realized Lydia was dead, and I thought she could be revived somehow, so I fast travelled back to Whiterun, which overwrote all my autosaves…

    I also didn’t know about carrying bodies then, so I used Unrelenting Force to roll her onto a patch of greenery, in a dignified pose.

    Then I got Aela to come mule her armor away, married her, and haven’t looked back.

    She swore to carry my burdens. But some burdens…you just have to bear yourself. :-|

  9. Schadenfreude says:

    To assuage some of your guilt, you may not have killed her. When companion’s go into Arnie-pose at low health they don’t become invulnerable, they just lose all aggro; they can still be hurt (and killed) by enemy attacks if they’re caught in the crossfire and the way those Dragon Priests throw around fireballs and force lightning it’s highly likely that’s what happened.

    I’m not going to tell you the console command to bring her back however, because I’m a meany.

    • danimalkingdom says:

      This is indeed the case.

      Also, if you get into a fight, your companion is wounded and you creep off, the enemies will return and finish off your companion. Presumably they prioritise threats, and when you disappear your hobbling companion receives their full ire.

    • Bedeage says:

      I can confirm this, having seen my Lydia killed by an errant fireball from a mage.

    • Ed123 says:

      It’s “resurrect”. :smug: just remember to save and exit to desktop before continuing, so as to not disable steam achievements.

      edit: Speaking from experience. I, too, was unable to handle the loss of dear Lydia.

    • President Weasel says:

      This is true. You may very well not be the murderer; I am pretty sure the Volsung had a hurty aura around it that may have finished her off all on its own. It also had a very nice mask, the light-armoury-ness of which made me quite annoyed as I’ve got quite a lot of points in heavy armour specialisations.

      My Lydia is busy guarding my house in Skyrim, because I found her sarcasm when I asked her to carry stuff for me irksomely repetetive, but I rather enjoy it when she seems genuinely pleased to see me when I come back to my house to get ore and pelts out of my Big Chest O’ Ore and Pelts.

      I’ve also started saying “thanks very much” out loud when she says it’s nice to see me, and when other people in Whiterun say nice things about me, and I’ve started saying variations of “I doubt it” when bandits claim they’re about to kill me… this behaviour worries me.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      “Skyrim companions can’t die on their own” – incorrect indeed. My own faithful steward was grievously wounded by a fire trap and then fell to her death via a second “push” trap off a catwalk. Her fall from grace was quite literal. I’m sure falling in ebony heavy armor didn’t help either. The burns plus internal injuries would have been catastrophic had she lingered, so perhaps it’s for the best.

      Still. I miss her, and would have married her if she wasn’t the only available NPC that the marriage option is bugged with.

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      @Ed123 console commands don’t disable steam achievements for Skyrim. I found this out the hard (easy?) way when I wanted to do a bit of messing around one night. Gave myself a ton of money to start with and triggered the 100,000 gold achievement.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I’m somewhat worried by this. Not the article’s main subject matter; that’s great. Mad props to Skyrim for making NPCs people can really care about. No, what’s worrying to me is this suggestion that it’s bad and peculiar to have one-sided conversations with games, or do stuff like address characters and respond to generic enemy taunts out loud. I’ve done it for years. I respond, I ask questions, I shout. Everyone I know who games does it too. I’d be worried if people I was with didn’t do it, really.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Schadenfreude, I’m so glad you confirmed this! I was reading this thinking “Shit, so it was ME who killed Meeko the dog in that massive fight with another one of those hiding-in-a-coffin-next-to-a-dragon-shout-wall-bastards!?”. It was bad enough forcing myself not to reload and try and save him, let alone if I’d have known it was a wayward arrow of mine that finished him off!

    • gwathdring says:


      I’ve said this before, but most of the dialog in my play of Mass Effect 1 took place in the Mako. What else are the three of us going to do on a long APC trek across a massive survey-sized square of planet?

  10. vyyye says:

    This is possibly the best thing I’ve read on RPS since I started reading RPS about a year ago. My guilty secret is that I could relate, recently lost Lydia as well. For being braindead and useless as anything but a door blocker and sword stopper it was stupidly hard not to reload to my last save.

    • Mephisto says:

      I’d like to level the Lydia skill and perk tree, maybe in some DLC.

      100 Door Blocking
      100 Springing Traps Clumsily
      100 Shielding Enemy From Arrows

  11. Colthor says:

    Even if you had managed to re-animate her, she would have just stood around for a minute going “Uuur” before crumbling to dust.

    So, really, be glad it didn’t work. It’s better this way.

    • Paul B says:

      Shame, I was hoping for a Shaun of the Dead style ending where Lydia would be chained up back at the base, eating brains, while John was off adventuring.

    • Nashk says:

      Actually the highest level necromancy spell allows you to raise a permanent zombie companion, that even if s/he dies they won’t turn to dust and thus allowing you to resurrect them again.

      But still yeah the spell he was using would indeed have turned lydia to dust after a minute.

  12. fishmitten says:

    My Lydia got crushed to death beneath a mammoth during an epic battle with a dragon, some giants and said mammoth: link to

    • Saldek says:

      If only she could have died at the more stylish end of the mammoth :/

    • atticus says:

      That screenshot is actually from the beginning of “The Hangover 3”.

    • caddyB says:

      Why is she always naked?

    • gwathdring says:

      Probably two parts to that. A) Some gamers enjoy that sort of thing and B) TES games turn you into a loot-grabbing sociopath. Mostly B, I would guess. There are many, many times I have solemnly positioned a corpse in Oblivion, making it look more serene and restful … only to then decide that armor is too expensive to leave in a makeshift barrow and nick it.

      Personally, though, I probably would have dragged the corpse uphill first before stealing the armor. I would have felt awkward wrangling a mostly-naked corpse up hill. But that’s just me … not saying it makes me better or anything.

      In fact, I probably would have left the armor on out of reverence. That DOES make me a better person. ;)

  13. doubledope says:

    I threw her body from a very high waterfall cliff in the deep below. Had a little ceremony there. I didn’t take here armor though, she needed that in the afterlife. Funny I am not the only one dragging a virtual corpse for hours to give it peace.

    • lasikbear says:

      I gave a similar burial to a bunch of bandits on a really cool bridge fort thing. Tossed all their bodies into the river below to be carried to sea. The unfortunately the rocks in the middle of the river meant they only got carried a few feet, but I felt it was at least a nice gesture.

  14. Faceless says:

    I’ve tried to adventure with Lydia only once, and her presence drastically upped the number of reloads due to the fact she kept making battles more difficult instead of easier.

    Eventually, amidst a blizzard in the icy plains of Winterhold, I told her I no longer needed her. She said she’d come back home, but she never did. Guess she got lost in the blizzard.

    At least she will no longer noisily eat bread whenever I try to sleep.

    • mangrove says:

      I’ve just bumped into a Mage follower who seems to be a lot less retarded than Lydia. Mostly because she has the sense to hang well back and use lightning, and summon (you can have a summon active at the same time too). Haven’t seen her do the Leeroy Jenkins thing as yet, though I’ve only cleared the one dungeon with her.

      You can find her…

      By doing the Azura’s Star quest (on the mountain south of Winterhold), and giving the star to Azura.

    • formivore says:

      The problem with mage companions is you can’t use them as storehouses, or else they will ridiculously equip the dwarven plate and battleaxes you give them and become ersatz Lydias themselves.

    • mangrove says:

      Ah, I haven’t tried dumping armour on her as yet. That is a bit silly. Not really a problem at my level, though; I’m pretty flush with gold and don’t need to pick up too much. Also have The Steed signs +100 carry weight which acts as a decent buffer.

      Earlier on in the game it would’ve been a pain though.

  15. WingNutZA says:

    Hahahaha, excellent article!

    Protip: target dead companion with cursor, bring down console with ~, type in “resurrect”… and voila!

    • John Walker says:

      Somehow that would be wrong.

    • Bhazor says:

      Yeah. Giving a computer character a funeral by dragging her half naked body up a mountain is perfectly healthy but using a console command to bring her back to life. Thats just wierd.

    • Burning Man says:

      It breaks immersion. When you want to treat the character like an actual person, immersion is important. Is that so hard to understand?

    • Ed123 says:

      Yes, re-loading your save is so much more immersive.

    • Magnetude says:

      But re-loading is just going back in time – you got a glimpse into an alternate future and you decided you didn’t like it. Using console commands to bring her back would cause you to stop caring about her wellbeing at all, now that you have imbued yourself with the power to resurrect her after every time you carelessly blast her off a mountain with a dual fireball – it’s like when Superman flew really fast round the world and turned back time, and every crisis after that was ruined because you knew that if Lois did die, he could just undo it!

    • Jesse L says:

      Or maybe the console ‘resurrect’ is a more powerful raise dead spell, ala D&D? That’s how I’m using it. Breaking immersion, poo. There’s ‘pretending the game is actually a real place and everything that happens in it is real’ and then there’s ‘game real’, where I punch dragons in the face, regenerate health, carry five full suits of steel armor with me everywhere, and am the chosen one in every single currently-unfulfilled prophecy in Skyrim. Oh yeah, and I have the power to bring my friends back from the dead. ‘That was a close one, Lydia!’

    • Gvaz says:

      The player already has the powers of god in terms of the lore (google “dragon break”) so using the console to resurrect is nothing.

    • Kektain says:

      I have adopted the E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy approach to reconciling quickloads with trying to stay in character. In every game I now pretend I am a mild psychic, and events in which I die or the outcome is so ghastly I’m forced to load are actually psychic visions of the future, whose knowledge I use in the next attempt (“reality”) to overcome my foes. It nicely explains how one wibbly Argonian mage can scour an entire fortress of life–I’m like a Jedi, I can see the future before it happens! I know mistakes before I make them!

    • Olivaw says:

      Yeah, I could post the Metaphysics of Morrowind article which argues that using console commands and the construction set and saving and reloading are all thoroughly valid within the fiction…

      But at the same time, I don’t like using console commands much either.

  16. Jams O'Donnell says:

    There’s always the dark ways of the console commands, Mr. John.

  17. bobbobob says:

    I was unable to scroll my screen in such a way that i DIDN’T have a screenshot of a (almost)naked videogame lady being broadcast through the office. Can anyone tell me what happened at the end?

    • shitflap says:

      Take the risk, it’s a lovely article.

    • Magnetude says:

      Resize your window and fill the space above it with work looking stuff so it’s not too obvious. Worked for me!

    • n0s says:

      Half the office gathered round my screen to read the article with me, unless you work in “half dead grey people-R-US”, you’ll be fine :)

    • Skabooga says:

      Haha! Both my office mates were out, so I was able to read the article without fear of appearing a lech. “I swear! I only read it for the articles!”

  18. Mike says:

    “And, well, Skyrim leaves bodies there permanently! She’d be there, awkwardly slumped against that rock, for the rest of the game. And I’d know.”

    Is this the case? A beggar died trying to save my life in Riften, so I laid her to rest in the cemetery. She was gone a couple of days later.

    • danimalkingdom says:

      In my game the streets of Riften are strewn with corpses of would-be thieves killed by the local constabulary. The market sellers step awkwardly around them and the guards stand, alarmed, and say “What happened here?”

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:


      I put my faith in modders to make the guards say “What’s all this then?” instead.
      -in the voice of Terry Jones, naturally.

    • n0s says:


      Or “And now to something completely different” in a John Cleese voice as you exit the game.

  19. danimalkingdom says:

    Oh dear I’ve clocked in a good 30 hours in Skyrim still haven’t met Lydia. Although if it’s a Jarl that makes her your housecarl (or whatever), then that’s probably why. I’m a Thane of Solitude, and for that I got a boxum blonde viking lady. Forget her name. Drinks a lot. Looks a bit like my girlfrie- OK STOP RIGHT THERE.

  20. HermitUK says:

    Probably for the best Reanimate Corpse didn’t work. The body dissolves into blue ash when the spell runs out (to prevent you repeatedly raising the same corpse). Which probably would have made you feel worse.

    Closest I came to a companion was a pilgrim who wanted escorting to a shrine. Within minutes of leaving town he picked a fight with two mudcrabs, died (Because he wasn’t an essential NPC like the companions), and his body fell in the river and was carried off by the current. At the point I decided going solo was definitely the way to go.

  21. ffordesoon says:

    I am vaguely disturbed by how much I identified with this.

    • Bhazor says:

      I think anyone whose played Fire Emblem or Baldurs Gate in Hard mode will understand only too well. Oh Viconia, I couldn’t go on without you babe.

      Literally. Her death seemed to crash a major quest and I was trapped.

    • pepper says:

      I had a similar experience in Oblivion yesterday(playing through oblivion, yes im 5 years behind) when I was told I had to murder the whole dark Brotherhood. Oddly enough I have no problem killing anyone im tasked with, but killing my buddies I could associate with(being a psychopath) was something quite different. The deaddrops afterwards just arent the same.

  22. Giggity says:

    John, John! A friend just told me that there is a spell that reanimates corpses forever. Corpses of any power. So there is a way!

    • Dom_01 says:

      If you REALLY wish to bring Lydia back, there is a console command to resurrect any NPC.

  23. Davee says:

    I managed to keep Lydia alive for a whole 4 minutes. She did her job as a bodyguard rather well, getting killed by bandits instead of me dying to them, as we ran into an ambush just outside the gates of Whiterun.
    Or so my character will claim any time anyone asks. He might have had a hand in ending her suffering. The guards were very understanding for some reason and just looked the other way…

  24. quaunaut says:


    I seriously had to load up Skyrim to take a look at her again. I love you, Lydia.

  25. Bharg says:

    Isn’t looting her and burrying her in her undies a big undignified?

  26. blorg.beard says:

    I must admit, I murdered Lydia in cold blood because I was sick of her hanging around Breezehome getting in my way. Then I felt a tiny bit guilty when I received her inheritance money..

    • Jarenth says:

      Wait, killing Lydia gets you money?

    • lonesock says:

      I want to start a new game now where I give Lydia a chef’s hat, kill her and drape her over the cooking pot in my house to make it look like an accident while collecting the inheritance

      Can you remarry? That would be a hell of a way to get the 100000gold achievement.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      More importantly: how much XP is she worth?

      I’m having AD&D1 flashbacks now.

      EDIT: And also that one time in Warhammer Quest, despite the fact that friendly townsfolk don’t technically exist as characters in a strict rules sense according to the Roleplay Rulebook. (You can visit towns and shop around, but there aren’t any combat stats for villagers. I soon found out why.)

    • HermitUK says:

      Oh god, inheritance money. I cleared out a mine for some villagers, and one of them thanked me as they all trudged off back to digging. Not five minutes later, a courier came up with about 100gold which he’d apparently left to me in his will. I can only assume he was killed by local wildlife between his house and the mine, briefly correcting his final testament before expiring.

      Given I only spoke to him once, I must have left quite the impression. I’m just glad the guards didn’t arrest me for some sort of inheritance scam.

    • Starky says:

      RE: AD&D Flashbacks.

      Once in a game a DM set the scene for my character as “You start your day like almost every other day for the past several years as a working man, on a large sheep farm owned by your uncle – an abusive man who treats you badly and you despise, if it wasn’t for your mother you’d have ran away years ago.”

      Clearly he was setting up the murder of my characters mother and (probably the blame for it on my character, when it was the uncle who did it).

      I asked how many sheep were at the farm, he answered 2000.

      Sweet I replied, and then informed him I was going to murder every single one.

      Astounded he asked me why.

      I then explained “they’re worth 65 XP each” and showed him the page in the monster manual.

      So instead of starting that game on the run for the murder of my mother, I was on the run for the wholesale slaughter of 1000 odd sheep (never got them all), a mother who died of shock and heartbreak.
      But I did not care.
      I had 4000 xp. (should have been more like 10k, but he punished me with diminishing returns), which if I recall for a rogue was 3rd level. the rest of the party were still 1st.

      Great days.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      No, we choose not to go into The Fortress of Ultimate Pain and instead choose tostay at the pub and have a few more ales.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I don’t have a companion, but I chose to not complete that quest in the ghost house in Markath, because it ends with you having to beat a helpless man to death. I even loaded a previous savegame, so that the guy is not locked in a cage for all eternity. Isn’t that similar? Feeling uncomfortable with a game situation, just because it contains a very specific instance of cruelty?

    I don’t see why caring a little is bad. I mean, if you don’t care, why even play? The entire world of Skyrim is not real, and if you don’t care what is behind the pretend-mountain or what happens to the pretend-people, playing the game just means watching some flashing colors that change as you press buttons. Some games work like this, but not a game like Skyrim.

    Now, if you start getting seriously depressed, because you killed Lydia, then you probably care to much. But caring a little is essential, I think.

  28. shaydeeadi says:

    The 1 time Lydia died I reloaded, she annoys me incredibly and I would get rid of her in a heartbeat, if it weren’t for the amount of extra stuff she enables me to carry around.

    I had a similar, but shorter burial experience yesterday; an Old Ork asked me to fight him for an honourable death. We fought, I killed him, and then I dragged his corpse to the top of a waterfall and dropped him in. I thought it was pretty respectful.

  29. thegooseking says:

    My Aela died the other night. I don’t know when or where. I posted a screenshot on the forums at 12:17, and I know she was alive then (because I had to tell her to get out of the way and stop ruining my shot). Apparently I have a savegame from 12:55 where she is missing, presumed dead. I totally didn’t notice.

    However, Lydia is alive and… alive. I always neglect to feed or walk her, so I’m sure she isn’t well.

    When bandits killed my horse, I tried to give it a proper Norse funeral. Well, it was already, as luck would have it, floating away in the current of the river. I tried to set it on fire using the beginner Flames spell, but apparently setting fire to corpses in water doesn’t do much. And in the game.

  30. woodsey says:

    I accidentally killed her ages ago, but at least it was a noble death. Being shot in the arse with an arrow as you’re doing the Arnie is noble, right…?

  31. bleeters says:

    I’m always far too concerned that instructing Lydia to return home when we’re anywhere but inside our house will cause her to get lost forever. So I fast travel back to Whiterun and escort her home first, like a gentleman.

    If only she’d stop unequipping the exquisite steel armour plate set I made for her every time she returned home. Seriously. Just stop it now. It has over twice the armour of your starter gear.

  32. Greg Wild says:

    I lol’d pretty damn hard at “Lydia is too powerful to be reanimated”

  33. Jumwa says:

    I worried that this might happen to my precious Janessa personally. After an absurd number of hours carting her around the mountains and valleys of Skyrim, I married Janessa, then sent her to our new home in Solitude to run a shop and be safe. I could no longer bear the thought of losing her.

    She seems happy there. Always greeting me affectionately when I return home, telling me of how the shop is doing. Things are good.

    I would attribute my attachment to my character and his companion to my own penchant for letting my imagination run wild, creating story elements around things that clearly had no greater context in my Elder Scrolls romps. But truthfully, perhaps a great deal of it is just the same sort of feeling that causes so many of us to grow exceptionally attached to animals which have no real personality or depth beyond getting more food out of us.

  34. Adanos says:

    My poor Lydia died under the continuous slashes of countless scimitars. She fought herself against four warriors while I was in a tough fight with their leader -and, well, maybe she was caught beetween a double-fire spell, but the point is when she fell, my character went berserk and killed all of the assassins with such fearful hate. Even to this day I got shivers thinking about that moment.
    The corpse of Lydia now lies underwater in a cave. But her memories shall not be forgotten.

  35. Archonsod says:

    Put the Lydia versus Gate video through the Benny Hillifier. Couldn’t help it …

  36. Nemrod says:

    same happened with my horse…. thus I leave Lydia at home in Whiterun

    I can’t loose here ><

  37. Zeewolf says:

    I had a kinda similar moment when my dog died. Damn stupid dog, running off to fight a dragon. And I couldn’t even reanimate it using the console, because despite searching and searching I NEVER FOUND THE BODY. Not knowing is the worst.

    I will take better care of my dear Meeko.

    • magnus says:

      I reanimated a dead bunny once, just I could hear it squeek when I killed it again! :O OK OK technically it was a zombie bunny but you know what I mean!

  38. Surgeon says:

    I left her slow ass behind the other day, and happily galloped off on my horsie, calling her names for being so damned useless.

    It took me a few seconds to realise I’d wandered into a bandit camp.
    I jumped off my horse and ran for the nearest bandit.
    As I was trying to finish him off I saw three of the basts attacking my horse at the edge of the camp.
    And just then Lydia materialised out of the mist and killed all three of them.
    Since then she’s been able to do no wrongs.

  39. DeanLearner says:

    I understand, I truly understand…

    the following is an accurate (yet longer than necessary) depiction of what Lydia meant to me.

    link to

    I’ll miss you Lydia.

  40. fastcar83 says:

    I love this site so much. Excelent writing.

  41. Inigo says:

    FUS ROH DAH’d her off a mountain.

    Nothing of value was lost.

  42. skull0n3 says:

    I know this feeling, used to talk to Veronica in fallout new vegas all the time, would have gone to the end of the earth for her, heck i did just that, all for a dress to make her smile. Her and Ed-e are like my bestest best friends, i only regret that i couldn’t tell her that i loved her and even though she was into women i would always be there for her no matter what.

    There was also Charon in fallout3, coolest dude around, i remember after a pretty heavy fire fight, we were crouching in a room and i looked over to him to say “dude, that was a bloody bad idea coming in here” only to see him pick up a pair of sunglasses like that dude from CSI Miami. Was waiting on a decent one liner from him, but it never came. :(

    I really do hope i can find a companion like Veronica in Skyrim, Lydia seems cool and all but she just doesn’t have that spark that Veronica had.

    Anyway back to Skyrim for more sneaky lizard action.

  43. WolVenom says:

    I am sorry for your loss.

  44. magnus says:

    My Lydia was killed by Vampire thralls. Still, Aranea saved my neck a few times and she’s been with me 50 hours or so, with her duel wielding staffs (staves?) .

  45. Gwynor says:

    Great article.

    Now I understand how people manage to play Elder Scroll games for hundreds of hours, without getting bored of ‘kill this’ or ‘bring that’ -like quests.

  46. Lambchops says:

    After this article i’m filing Skyrim with Eve in the “game’s I have little desire to play but enjoy reading about” folder.

  47. The Pink Ninja says:

    I found the companions in New Vegas very useful, even the meele ones. Are they just more poorly programmed in Skyrim?

    • Christian O. says:

      A lot worse, sadly. I actually liked my companions in Fallout: New Vegas, but the friendly A.I. in Skyrim is awful.

    • Jumwa says:

      Exactly the same, really. It’s just that in Fallout most companions use guns, and therefore don’t go charging into your LOS on enemies very often. In Skyrim most companions are melee (at least some of the times) and therefore have a real urge to go blundering into your way.

      I had no less trouble with my melee-centric companions in New Vegas.

    • Grygus says:

      They’re easily the best companions in the Elder Scrolls series. I will admit that that is a pretty low bar, though.

      It is partly about weapon loadout; they tend to use their best option, so give your Skyrim companion a bow that is significantly better than their melee weapon, and they will mostly stand back and shoot things. Mostly. The command system makes it possible to get around their propensity for setting off traps and being terrible at sneaking as well, but it’s slightly cumbersome and I think most players do not bother.

      For a relatively successful melee companion: equip them with a two-handed weapon and try to keep the enemies between you.

  48. thekeats1999 says:

    My Lydia died last night. I was trying a new shout i had just received after quite a large dungeon. The shout is Storm Call, a somewhat powerful shout that rains lightning down over a large area. Unfortunately in my experimentation it took poor old Lydia out. Not that i noticed. So i diligently completed the quest and promptly went of to sell my loot. It was only at this point i noticed she was gone, especially as she was carrying half of the swag.

    It took me half an hour searching the dungeon to see if she was trapped behind a cart (not the first time) and it only then sawned onme what had actually happened. So i decided to do the only reasonable thing. Loot her corpse and pretend the whole thing never happened.

  49. Mr Spykes says:

    John, I totally get it, man.


    Before I picked up an Amulet of Mara and went sharking around the taverns of Skyrim, I’d spotted Susannah the Wicked and thought “Wooft! I’m marrying her later!”

    I was genuinely gutted when The Butcher got hold of her :(

  50. Jimmy says:

    I love that, when you had so eloquently laid out her corpse in the coffin, with nought but her underwear to protect her in the afterlife, you have the screen option “Search Lydia”.