There's no denying that Skyrim is still a hugely popular game. Sure, it's full of glitches. Yes, we're all desperately waiting for the release of The Elder Scrolls VI. Still, Skyrim is a pretty good game to fill our time with until the next game in the series drops. There are tons of character builds to try out, and plenty of quests to get stuck into. The game is pretty packed with content, especially if you've got the Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn expansion packs!
Even though Skyrim is full of things to do and places to explore, a lot of content was cut from the game's final version. Every game goes through changes during the development process - it's natural! However, Skyrim has a lot of dropped content hidden deep in its game files. We're talking dialogue, dungeons, quests, armor... Turns out we missed out on quite a lot thanks to Bethesda's savage editing! To be fair, the game has a lot of glitches already - if some of this cut content had been included in the final product, it could well have become unplayable. Skyrim's creators clearly had their reasons when deciding what to include and what to leave out of the game.
Here are just some of the last-minute changes that were made to Skyrim. Some of these tweaks arguably hurt the game; others were clearly for the best. It's time to take a look at what could have been!
30 HURT: Making The Civil War Quest Bigger
Skyrim's Civil War storyline was originally going to be radically different from the quest that appears in the game's final version.
For one, it was going to be much bigger!
There would have been huge battles in every hold, not just Whiterun and Windhelm, and plenty of extra side quests too. You would even have been able to attack, hold, and lose smaller settlements like farms and mills. While the actual Civil War quest is pretty fun, we would have loved for it to be a bit more fleshed-out.
29 HURT: Getting Rid Of Boethiah's Second Quest
Boethiah's Calling is one of Skyrim's Daedric quests. Since Boethiah is the Daedric Prince of deceit and loves to see people suffer, it's perhaps unsurprising that the quest is a slightly grim one. It involves leading one of your followers to be slain, all for the purposes of getting some cool armour. Originally, Skyrim was going to feature a second Boethiah quest, Boethiah's Bidding. The player would have been sent to "take out" Elisif the Fair, the Jarl of Haafingar. Honestly, we'd have loved to see how that played out!
28 SAVED: Removing Zombie Children
As any seasoned Skyrim player knows, it's impossible to injure or slay any of the game's child characters. They're all marked as essential, presumably to prevent any particularly immoral players from doing anything. It looks like this wasn't always going to be the case, though! Skyrim's code contains the unused sounds of children perishing. It also features hidden "zombie" children sounds! Presumably, the player would have been able to end and then bring back child characters. We're kinda glad that this element didn't make the game's final cut. It goes a bit too far, even for Skyrim.
27 HURT: Forcing You To Complete The Unbound Quest
If you've played Skyrim multiple times, you've probably got pretty irritated at having to do the initial Unbound quest again, and again, and again. Sometimes, you want to enter the world of Skyrim in a slightly different way, you know? While there is a mod for that, Skyrim actually has a hidden command that lets you bypass the events of Unbound. If only this was made an actual feature of the game! There's only so many times that you can escape Helgen before the whole process becomes tedious.
26 HURT: Recruiting A Giant To Fight In The War
You know how we said that the Civil War storyline was due to feature a lot more side quests? Well, one of these quests would have involved recruiting giants to fight in the war! Apparently, hidden code suggests that a particularly aggressive giant would keep on harassing you and your fellow troops. Rather than just "getting rid" of the giant, you'd be tasked with pacifying it and convincing it to join your side, whether that's the Stormcloaks or the Imperials! It would have made a pretty cool quest.
25 SAVED: Hrongar Was Supposed To Become A Jarl
In the Skyrim quest The Whispering Door, Jarl Balgruuf of Whiterun asks the player to investigate his own young son, Nelkir, who's seemed "troubled" as of late.
Originally, this quest was going to take a very dark turn.
All three of Balgruuf's sons would have been corrupted by the same evil that had consumed Nelkir. Eventually, they would have slain their own father. In the aftermath of Balgruuf's passing, his brother, Hrongar, would have become Jarl. Honestly, we're glad this quest was trimmed down. Patricide is a bit too dark, even for Skyrim!
24 HURT: Axing The Spirit Of The Ancient Traveler
The Spirit of the Ancient Traveler is an intriguing character who was originally going to appear in Skyrim. The player would have encountered this ghost somewhere in the wilds of Skyrim.
Interestingly, he doesn't have a head!
Game data suggests that the player would have been tasked with finding the spirit's skull, which would have been located at Wayward Pass. What would the reward have been for this quest? Why is the spirit left without his head? We would have loved to play this quest and find out!
23 HURT: Scrapping The Windhelm Pit
One of the best-known pieces of cut Skyrim content is the Windhelm Pit. Located in Windhelm - as you'd expect - the pit would have been a place where the player could literally fight their way out of prison. You could engage in duels with other convicts, and if you won, you'd be set free. This sounds like a pretty cool game mechanic, and we're sad that it was cut from the final version of Skyrim! You can actually access the entrance to the arena using in-game console commands; however, you can't actually fight anyone. Sad times.
22 SAVED: Cutting Nazeem's House
Nazeem is undeniably one of the most obnoxious characters in the entirety of Skyrim. He's arrogant, snobby, and utterly obsessed with his precious Cloud District. There's a reason why lots of Skyrim players choose to end Nazeem's life.
Interestingly, Nazeem doesn't actually have an in-game home.
He simply wanders around Whiterun, aggravating people along the way. Originally, he was supposed to live in a place called Wintersand Manor. However, the house doesn't exist in the final game. We're kinda glad; Nazeem arguably doesn't deserve to have nice things.
21 HURT: The Lost Quest To Find Phinis Gestor's Apprentices
In Skyrim, one of the College of Winterhold's mages - Phinis Gestor - mentions that four of his apprentices have gone missing. This information is basically useless to the player; there's nothing they can do to find the missing students. However, this wasn't always going to be the case. A cut quest would have seen the player track down the apprentices to find out what happened to them. Spoiler alert: none of them survived their experiences. Are we surprised? This is Skyrim, where everyone’s life expectancy is dangerously low!
20 HURT: You Could Have Learned The Poetic Edda
If you're the kind of Skyrim player who loves to join the Bard’s College, you'll be particularly upset that this next quest was cut from the game. Apparently, the player was going to get the chance to learn the entirety of Skyrim's Poetic Edda. After becoming a Bard, the player would track down Skyrim's other performers and learn snippets of the Edda along the way. Eventually, you'd be able to recite the entire thing. If only this quest was kept in the game! It would have been nice for the Bard’s College storyline to have a bit more substance.
19 SAVED: Stealing Faralda's Magical Research
There's a lot of petty drama bubbling behind the scenes in Skyrim; too much, some might say. Dealing with the squabbles of minor characters seems somewhat pointless when compared to the task of saving Skyrim from Alduin. For this reason, we're kinda glad that this next quest was cut from the game. Originally, the College of Winterhold quest was due to include a subplot following a conflict between two mages, Nirya and Faralda. Nirya would have asked you to steal Faralda's research; whether you complied would be up to you.
18 HURT: Snagging The Daedric Princes' Armour
Skyrim is full to the brim of awesome armor and outfits. You can equip intricate defensive pieces, blend in by wearing a bartender's outfit, and even craft your own armor.
There are some pieces of armor that are inaccessible, though.
For some reason, Bethesda decided to prevent players from being able to obtain certain items, such as the Daedric Princes' Armour. You can cheat these items into your game using console commands, but we kinda wish that they were included in the first place.
17 HURT: The Disbanded Windhelm Pit Society
We've already mentioned the epic Windhelm Pit that was sadly cut from the final version of Skyrim. Turns out the Pit was going to have its own mini-society, complete with friendships, rivalries, and intrigue. You'd have been able to interact with your fellow inmates and the pit's guards and cause some havoc in the process. As well as introducing new NPCs, the Pit would have featured some familiar faces - including the infamous Alain Dufont, who you have to "deal with" in the Dark Brotherhood quest.
16 SAVED: Getting Rid Of Fallout Features
We all know that the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series of games are somewhat linked - at least in the sense that they were created by the same company, Bethesda. Still, it's somewhat surprising that items and features from Fallout are present in the game files for Skyrim! Things such as hacking, the Pip-Boy, and the VATS system are all hidden deep in Skyrim's code. We're glad that these features didn't accidentally sneak into the final product! That would be incredibly confusing, to say the least...
15 HURT: Helping An Escaped Prisoner
As any Skyrim player knows, the game begins with the playable character narrowly avoiding execution. They're a prisoner for reasons that are never fully explained. However, they're able to free themselves after a handily-timed dragon attack on Helgen, the place where they're being held. Apparently, one cut Skyrim feature would have seen the player helping a character in a similar situation to their own - another escaped prisoner! This unnamed Nord would have come to the Dragonborn for assistance. Including this storyline would have been a nice nod to the playable character's past.
14 HURT: Hearing What It's Like To Be A Werewolf
If you take a close look at Skyrim's game files, you'll find lots of cut dialogue and scrapped conversations.
One example of this comes in the Companions questline.
For those not in the know, the Companions are werewolves - and the Dragonborn can become one too! For some reason, Bethesda cut lots of dialogue from this particular storyline. Originally, your fellow members of the Companions would have talked to you about what it's like to be a werewolf. It would have been a nice touch! However, these conversations weren't included in the final version of Skyrim.
13 SAVED: The Confusing Quest Inside Pelagius' Mind
Who can forget the bizarre quest involving Pelagius' hip bone, a trippy journey inside someone's mind, and the Wabbajack?
It's a wild ride, to say the least.
Originally, though, this quest was going to be even more confusing! The inside of Pelagius' mind was going to feature all sorts of hidden doors, strange pathways, and never-ending tunnels. It would basically have been a labyrinth from which you could never escape. We're kinda glad this part of the quest was cut; it sounds more irritating than fun!
12 HURT: Learning Runil's Backstory
One of the residents of the Skyrim town of Falkreath is Runil, a High Elf who's a priest of Arkay. You don't get to learn much about Runil's backstory, although you get the sense that he's a bit troubled. However, a cut Skyrim quest would have revealed all about Runil's dark past. Turns out he used to be a Thalmor wizard, and he's pretty ashamed about it. The player would have had two options after learning this information. You could have agreed to keep Runil's past a secret. Or, you could have told all of Runil's friends about his antics.
11 HURT: Hearing Villagers Mourning The Departed
It's fair to say that a lot of NPCs perish in Skyrim, whether it's at the hands of dragons, vampires, other magical creatures, or even the player. Thing is, all of this death doesn't seem to bother the rest of the game's characters too much. While some NPCs do react if their family members or friends end up passing away, others seem to go on as normal. This wasn't always going to be the case, though. Hidden dialogue reveals that Skyrim's NPCs were originally going to be able to mourn their late loved ones in a slightly more realistic way.
10 SAVED: Eliminating Winterhold's Twisted Student
Spoiler alert: a lot of drama goes down in Skyrim's College of Winterhold quest. The Arch-Mage ends up dead, one of his advisers turns out to be evil, and a whole lot of destructive magic is unleashed.
Originally, this storyline was going to be even more dramatic.
A College of Winterhold student would have gone rogue, and the player would have had to "eliminate" them to prevent too much damage from being done. Honestly, we're glad this sub-plot was cut. There's already enough sadness in this quest line! We don't need anymore.
9 HURT: Exploring Helgen Pre-Aldiun Attack
We've already mentioned that Skyrim's main quest begins with a dragon attacking the town of Helgen. Since Helgen gets totally destroyed pretty much immediately, you never get to see it as a happy, fully-functioning place. This wasn't always going to be the case, though! Deep in Skyrim's game data, you can find a version of Helgen that's functional - and not burnt to a crisp. The town even has its own inn called The Lost Man's Reprieve. If only we'd got to see it in all its glory. Poor Helgen...
8 HURT: Conjure Your Own Dragon Priest
If you choose to build the Conjuration skill in Skyrim, you gain the ability to summon some pretty powerful creatures to fight on your side. Flame Atronachs, Storm Atronachs, and Familiars are just some of the beasts that you can learn how to conjure. Originally, though, Conjurers would have been able to call upon an even cooler ally - a Dragon Priest! This Conjuration spell was sadly cut from the final game, and we're pretty mad about it. Imagine how cool it would be to summon a Dragon Priest!
7 SAVED: Getting Rid Of Extra Perks
Even the most inexperienced Skyrim players out there will probably know about the perks system. Each time you level up, you receive one perk "point". You can use this to unlock a range of extra abilities, all of which relate to one of the game's skills. To be honest, unlocking lots and lots of perks kinda break the game.
Your character becomes insanely powerful!
That's why it's potentially a good thing that Bethesda decided to scrap quite a few perks. The game would have become ridiculously easy if they'd been included.
6 HURT: Helping To Run Rundi and Borvir's Mead Business
Rundi and Borvir are pretty minor characters in Skyrim. These unlucky brothers are two of Phineas Gestor's apprentices. They've both perished by the time you find them. However, they were originally going to have a very different fate!
Rundi and Borvir were going to set up a mead business.
In a cut Skyrim quest, the player would have helped the brothers to deliver their mead to inns across the region. Unfortunately, Bethesda decided that Rundi and Borvir would be better off deceased.
5 HURT: Filling Soul Gems For Sergius
This cut College of Winterhold side-quest is a simple one, but one that could have been fun to complete nonetheless. One of the college's mages, Sergius, would have asked the player to fill up some soul gems for them. It's a fairly simple process; you just have to slay a creature or person, then cast the soul trap enchantment on them to fill a gem. Sergius would presumably have rewarded the player for bringing him a full gem. However, the quest was scrapped before the said reward was decided upon.
4 SAVED: Saving Grelod The Kind
Grelod the Kind is a pretty despicable Skyrim character. She's the cruel, heartless owner of Riften's Honorhall Orphanage. She also happens to be the woman you have to "take out" in order to trigger the Dark Brotherhood quest. This wasn't always going to be the way this storyline started, though! Originally, the player was going to have to slay one of their own friends in order to join this particular society. To be honest, it's way more satisfying to "get rid" of Grelod. We're glad this change was made.
3 HURT: Captain Lonely-Gale's Stormcloak Role
Captain Lonely-Gale, one of the residents of Windhelm, has a whole lot of backstory that was cut out of the final version of Skyrim.
Turns out he's a passionate Stormcloak!
Weirdly, though, cut dialogue from the game suggests that Lonely-Gale was originally going to become the Steward of Windhelm in the event of an Imperial victory in the war. Was Lonely-Gale going to claim loyalty to both sides as some kind of spy? We'll never know. In the actual game, he's merely a retired sea captain.
2 HURT: Lod's Alternate Life As A Farmer
Lod is another Skyrim character who was originally going to have a very different backstory. In the actual game, Lod is a blacksmith in Falkreath.
Originally, though, he was going to be a farmer.
He'd have lived at a farm called Gentle Repose, presumably on the outskirts of Falkreath. Lod was also going to be a bit of a social pariah! He'd have clashed with the other residents of Falkreath due to his engagement in some 'off' money-making schemes. It sounds like a pretty interesting storyline! If only it'd made the final game...
1 SAVED: The Invisible Chest In Dawnstar
Only the most observant of Skyrim players will have noticed the invisible chest in Dawnstar. It's pretty helpful - it contains a whole host of items that change according to the level of your character. Nobody's quite sure why the chest is there, but lots of players think that it's the remnant of a deleted merchant's stall. If this is the case, we're kinda glad that the merchant was cut from the game. It's way better to get free stuff from an invisible chest than to have to spend your hard-earned gold on some items!