General:Running Gags

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Running gags are amusing jokes or comical references that have appeared repeatedly throughout The Elder Scrolls series. They can begin with an instance of unintentional humor that is repeated in variations as the joke grows familiar and fans anticipate reappearances of the gag. The humor in a running gag may derive entirely from how often it is repeated, however the underlying statement or situation will always require some form of jocularity. Some of the most commonly recurring gags are Fishy Sticks and M'aiq the Liar. Certain gags have become so popular that they've appeared in other media.

Adoring Fan[edit]

"By Azura, by Azura, by Azura!"
  • The Adoring Fan first appeared in Oblivion.
  • In Skyrim:
    • Cicero mentions in his journal that he masqueraded as a "starstruck fan" to gain an audience with a Grand Champion.
    • There lies a dead Wood Elf "Arena Fan"CC. His note reveals that he came to Skyrim to meet a former participant in the Imperial City Arena.
  • In ESO:
    • The furnishing "An Adoring Fan" is named after him.
    • There is an NPC named "The Undying Fan", who, like the original, is a Bosmer that loves watching arena matches.
    • In Blackwood, you can encounter The Adoring Admirer, a Bosmer fascinated by your exploits. When he greets you, he may exclaim "By Azura! By Azura! By Azura!", or refer to you as "the champion". An achievement can be earned by meeting him four times.
    • The Adoring Stand is a hair style available from Grim Harlequin crates. Its name and description reference the Adoring Fan, and it is similar in appearance to the style of hair used by the Adoring Fan in Oblivion.
  • There is a card of the Adoring Fan in Legends, obtained by becoming an Arena champion. Like the original NPC from Oblivion, the card will eventually respawn after being killed.
  • In Skyrim Very Special Edition, there is an enemy called "Adoring Fan".
  • In Blades, townsfolk may say, "By Azura! I'd die to meet a Grand Champion!"

Arrow in the Knee[edit]

An arrow, in the knee
Whitreun Guard Funko Pop, complete with arrow in the knee
  • The line "I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee..." first appeared in Skyrim, said by city guards.
  • In the Game Jam video, Bethesda used a song parody titled "Arrow to the Knee" that used the dialogue as an audio sample.
  • In ESO:
  • In Legends:
    • Arrow in the Knee is a card. It deals a minor amount of damage to a creature and shackles it.
    • One of the loading screen tips is "I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee and got shackled."
  • In Blades, an Arrow emote can be purchased. It involves your character crouching down to inspect an arrow in their knee, and the description is, "You used to be an adventurer, then something bad happened. True story."
  • In merchandise:
    • The Whiterun Guard Funko Pop figurine has an arrow in his knee.
    • The noblechairs HERO Gaming Chair - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 10th Anniversary Edition has an arrow stitched on the right side of the seat, pointing toward the knee of the person sitting in it.

Fishy Stick[edit]

Have a fishy stick!

The fishy stick phenomenon began when Captain Eldrad joined the Official Forums on January 18, 2001. The graphic used is from an advertisement for Captain Morgan's rum, with a fish stick in place of the bottle of rum. In the beginning, fishy sticks were only given to those who truly deserved the honor, by Captain Eldrad himself. Later, his friend Soursha gave them away to new members. Eventually, it became customary to give fishy sticks to the newcomers of the forum. The Bethesda developers were very amused by all of this, and they added tributes to the fishy stick in several games.

Giant Club Launch[edit]

  • In Skyrim, when a giant hits a creature with its club, the target will be sent flying hundreds of feet into the air.
  • In Fall of the Space Core, Vol 1, the Space Core can be sent back to space via giant club launch.
  • In ESO:
    • Sigunn says, "That giant took me by surprise. Wrecked my wagon on the road and clubbed me so hard I swear I was swimming in the sky."
    • Herkgrig says, "[He] took a run at the first giant we came across. Never seen a body fly like that before."
    • The lorebook All About Giants mentions that giants "swing huge clubs and launch even a burly Nord over field and stream" - and then an addition at the end notes that the original author was found dead a full league from the nearest giant camp.
  • In the book Kyne's Challenge: A Hunter's Companion, there's a line that references this: "Unhappy in the extreme, it lifted its colossal club, then dropped it into the heather, hitting the ground with such force I half expected Fenrig to be launched tumbling upwards, through the low clouds to a distant doom."
  • In Legends, the background of the Belligerent Giant art has an unfortunate adventurer falling out of the sky.

Horse Armor[edit]

Horse Armor
  • The Horse Armor Pack was a DLC for Oblivion, infamous for being one of the earliest examples of purely cosmetic paid DLC.
  • The Dwarven Armored Mudcrab Creation for Skyrim is a reference to PC Gamer's satirical 2011 "Crab Armor DLC" advertisement, which itself was a reference to the Horse Armor Pack. It appears to use an updated model of the Mudcrab Armor mod previewed with the launch of Creation Kit in 2012.
  • The Pack itself returns as well in the separate Steel and Elven Horse Armor Creations.
  • Horse Armor is a card in Legends. It adds +1 to a creature's defense, and adds a cosmetic bonus of turning the card premium (animated).



The Scrolls of Icarian Flight, which may be obtained from Tarhiel in Morrowind, are named after Icarus, a character in Greek mythology who attempted to escape from Crete using wings created by his father by attaching feathers together using wax. Icarus flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax, causing him to plunge to his death. Tarhiel could not have chosen a more appropriate name for the scrolls.

This trope is referenced in Oblivion, where a certain issue of The Black Horse Courier mentions "the occasional wayward mage crashing to the earth." The trope is continued in Skyrim's Dragonborn expansion, which features a Wood Elf wizard who also falls to his death from his experimentation. ESO also features a Bosmer named Icarian, who researched similar spells with the same tragic result hundreds of years before Tarhiel. The next game to reference it is Legends, with the card Falling Wizard from the Houses of Morrowind expansion. ESO's Necrom chapter would later contain an NPC with the name Tarhiel Farano who also suffers the same fate, and states :"Keep laughing. My descendants will perfect my spell, but you won't be around to see them."

This is also referenced in other media, specifically with the dead NPC Tahreel found in the Azure Span zone in World of Warcraft's Dragonflight expansion.

Lusty Argonian Maid[edit]

M'aiq the Liar[edit]


M'aiq the Liar is a Khajiit character who has recurred in many Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind, making him one of the longest running gags (quite literally in Oblivion) of the series. While every rendition of M'aiq the Liar is technically a different character, they all break the fourth wall and make some reference to Dragons.

Mudcrab Merchant[edit]

Mudcrab merchant

Naked Nord[edit]

One such specimen

Riverwood Chicken[edit]

The Prized Chicken
  • In Skyrim, it was common for new players to impulsively kill a chicken in Riverwood (and other small towns) for the first time and find that most inhabitants of the settlement become hostile and attack them. For their willingness to fight to the death over the crime of murdering a chicken, the NPC behavior was widely satirized.
  • In the extended Minecraft Skyrim Mash-up trailer, the Dragonborn interrupts an otherwise cinematic entrance into Riverwood by killing a chicken.
  • In ESO, Riverwood White Hen is named for the town where first-time chicken murders often occurred and has the description "Owners grow extremely attached to them, and become outraged if they're harmed.", referencing the reaction of the NPCs.
  • In Legends, the Prized Chicken card has the ability "Last Gasp: Fill this lane with 1/1 Angry Villagers," the angry villagers referencing NPCs outraged at players who killed the town chicken.

Sweet Roll[edit]

  • The Sweet Roll initially originated in Arena where, at the beginning of the game, one of the class-determining questions is:
"While in town the baker gives you a sweetroll. Delighted you take it into an alleyway to enjoy, only to be intercepted by a gang of three kids your age. The leader demands the sweetroll, or else he and his friends will beat you and take it."
  • In Morrowind, the above question from Arena, along with several others, was reused in the class quiz at the beginning of the game.
  • In Oblivion:
    • Sweetroll is an available potion ingredient.
    • The original Arena question is referenced in a line of dialogue occasionally spoken by citizens of Skingrad: "I'll buy sweetrolls from Salmo the Baker any day. Once, I was carrying a sweetroll when three thugs attacked me. So, I took the sweetroll...."
  • In Skyrim:
    • Sweet Rolls are an available food.
    • The Pets of Skyrim Creation adds the trained fox Sweet Roll.
    • Sweet rolls are mentioned in one line of guard dialogue; "Let me guess... someone stole your sweetroll."
    • The Wabbajack is a staff that can transform the target and has a rare chance to turn most targets into a sweet roll, instantly killing them if you decide to pick up the sweet roll and eat them.
  • In ESO:
    • Sweetroll is one of the food recipes that can be obtained and crafted.
    • Several furnishing items involve sweetrolls. One of them, the Resplendent Sweetroll, is a glowing sweetroll available as an Apex-level reward in every Crown Crate and can be exchanged for 400 Crown gems, the amount it costs to buy an apex-level mount.
    • A quest in the Dark Brotherhood DLC, The Sweetroll Killer, involves a serial killer sending a sweetroll with a message hidden inside to each of their victims.
    • The default name for the Sorrel Horse mount is "Sweetroll".
    • The Greymoor Collector's Edition adds a Missing Sweetroll emote which causes your character to search for a potentially stolen sweetroll, then find it and eat it.
    • One of the daily login rewards in April 2024, for the game's 10th anniversary, was the Dibella's Sweetroll Stack memento, which conjures a plate of sweetrolls that multiple players can interact with.
  • In Legends, Sweet Roll is a card. Creatures can be transformed into one by Grisly Gourmet or Wabbajack, or one can be created in some other circumstances. Playing one even rewards you with the title "The Pastry Chef".
  • In Blades, sweetrolls can be found as a food during quests. They're also on display on the Sweet Rolls decoration.
  • The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook contains a recipe for Sweetrolls.