10. Skull Man – Mega Man 4
There are a lot of robot masters in the Mega Man series, but Skull Man is certainly one of the coolest looking. Not only does he have an awesome theme song and stage, but his ability to use giant skulls as a barrier only makes him more badass. Plus, the references to skeletons throughout his level really gives his world some flavor, to the point where one has to wonder who builds a stage out of bones? Even though he is not a terribly difficult boss to defeat, his overall design and fight is a great introduction for Mega Man 4.
9. Gravelord Nito – Dark Souls
The problem with skeletons is that they are incredibly flimsy and easy to kill on their own. Rarely does one skeleton pose much of a threat, even in tougher games like Dark Souls it’s rare that a single boney enemy will decimate you. Enter Gravelord Nito, a boss comprised of nothing but skeletons that can easily crush any wayward warrior who underestimates him. Not only is Nito able to output a ton of damage, but he is considered the god of death and disease. Alongside all of that he wields a massive scythe and will summon hordes of skeletons for you to deal with while fighting him. While he’s hardly the most challenging boss in this legendary series, Nito’s iconic design and ominous presence make him a fairly memorable fight.
8. Spinal – Killer Instinct
Spinal is one of many eclectic characters in the Killer Instinct universe, but this skeleton pirate is not one to be trifled with. His ability to beat opponents senseless with his cutlass sword, massive shield and energy projections make him a very dangerous foe. He has a great mix of up close and ranged combat, which gives Spinal a fairly balanced move set. Spinal also has one of the coolest stages in the entire game, as you fight right by his rotting ghost ship. Plus, Spinal has the best laugh in all of Killer Instinct, which is obviously worth something, right?
7. Stallord – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
There are a lot of skeletons in The Legend of Zelda series, but the best is by far Stallord. Not only is his boss fight the best in all of Twilight Princess, but perhaps one of the greatest in the entire series. This fight is one of the few chances you get to use the Spinner item, which allows you to give chase to his fireball spewing skull. It’s an intense fight that has a kinetic energy and speed many boss fights before it just didn’t seem to produce. Just try to forget about the Link’s Crossbow Training version of Stallord in favor of this one.
6. Dry Bones – Super Mario Bros. 3
When exploring the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Bros. 3 you come across a plethora of different enemies, but most can be killed with a simple jump attack. So, when you come across a skeletal version of the famed Koopa Troopas you just jump on their head only to realize that they can just reform and continue to chase Mario. The Dry Bones are enemies that force you to change your style of play and adapt to their movements. Unless you have a Star or Fire Flower then you will need to proceed with caution as these undead enemies are quite dangerous.
5. Mumbo Jumbo – Banjo-Kazooie
Mumbo Jumbo is the adorable shaman of the Banjo-Kazooie series that helps you on your quest to defeat the evil witch. While most skeletons are considered enemies, Mumbo is a welcoming face that is always willing to help you, provided you have enough of his tokens. He’s an adorable character that is full of witty remarks and sarcastic jabs. Plus, he can turn you into anything ranging from a T-Rex to a lowly ant which only begs the question as to why he needs our help.
4. Scorpion – Mortal Kombat Series
Scorpion has gone through a number of changes to his story since his inception back in 1995, but one of the most consistent aspects has been this ninja’s skeletal face. Sure, he doesn’t always have this look, but Scorpion’s iconic fatality alone is enough for him to land on our list, let alone the fact that he is one of the best fighters in the entire series. Bound to the Netherrealm, Scorpion is allowed to roam across the various realms in his skeletal form until he can slay the person who murdered his family. Despite the overly cartoony fireball spewing finisher, he is known for, Scorpion’s story is far more compelling than most other characters in fighting games. There’s a deep sense of loss and tragedy hanging around him, which makes his interactions with the infamous Sub-Zero only that more striking.
3. Sans – Undertale
perhaps one of the most iconic characters of the modern indie era, the skeletal pun machine known as Sans instantly captured the hearts of many. While the majority of his jokes are incredibly on the nose, it’s San’s personality that really shines through in this title. Depending on which road you take in terms of combat, San’s reactions to you are going to be vastly different. Going down the genocidal road will cause him to see you as a disappointment and a justification for why humans are a horrible species. This culminates in an incredibly intense boss fight that will put your reflexes to the test if you want any hope of defeating him in combat. Plus Sans has a hilarious brother named Papyrus that thinks he is a superhero and has a fondness for spaghetti.
2. Sir Daniel Fortesque – MediEvil
Daniel is the loveable, absent-minded knight of the hack and slash game Medievil for the original PlayStation. Before his death Daniel believed he was the hero of an epic battle, though in reality the poor lug was struck down by an arrow as soon as it began. His death was covered up by the king and he was made into a legend despite his complete ineffectiveness in battle. He was then revived, by accident, during a massive necromantic spell and is tasked with saving his kingdom from an undead army.
Daniel makes it to the number 2 spot thanks to his great physical humor, instantly iconic design, and fun backstory that was far different than any before it. He’s also missing his lower jaw, which made some of his attempts at dialogue pretty amusing since he had to grunt and groan his way through conversations. Fortesque also has one of the best-running animations of every video game and it would be fantastic to see a next gen version of this lost gem.
1. Manny Calavera – Grim Fandango
Could it really be any other? Manny is a Grim Reaper travel agent for lost souls looking to pass on to their final resting place. He is incredibly witty and competitive with anyone he meets, which makes many of his interactions highly entertaining. However, there’s a small semblance of desperation and tragedy to his character since he was forced into this line of work for his own sins. This adds more complexity to this character and moves him beyond just a wise-cracking grim reaper.
Plus, Manny has a great design that is a fusion of 1920s noir films and Day of the Dead iconography. This is one of the best adventure game characters to ever come into the medium and his story should be experienced by everyone at least once. Until someone or something better comes along, Manny Calavera is the best skeleton in gaming.