Bethesda’s masterpiece of a single-player RPG game, Skyrim, has so much to do for players that, even years later, players who’ve played the game for hundreds of hours continue to discover new and exciting things.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the game remains just as alive nearly a decade since it was first released.
Despite being one of the best true open-world experiences ever, Skyrim can get a little bit boring at times, especially when you’re playing on your own.
That’s where Skyrim’s companions, or rather, followers, come in.
Skyrim has a variety of followers fit for every type of player, from those who are looking for a tank, to those who want someone else to be doing the dirty work for them.
But, despite the plethora of options, the fact remains that, not all followers in Skyrim were created equal, making it incredibly important to choose one properly, lest you risk walking out of a cave with little to no loot left as you carry all of the loot from your buddy’s decaying body.
Below, we rounded up 10 of the best followers that Skyrim has to offer, in no particular order.
1. Aela the Huntress
If you’re like every other player in Skyrim out there, then you probably always seem to revert back to a bow-wielding, sneaky archer / thief regardless of whatever kind of playstyle you were going for at the start.
If you’re looking for a follower that can keep up with whatever floats your mind, Aela, the ever-loyal Nord werewolf, is one of the most well-rounded followers around.
At level 50, Aela’s Sneak skill can reach up to 97 and she’s pretty good with both the bow and one-handed weapons, making her great upfront and as back-up from afar.
But, perhaps more importantly, she’s not the type to abandon you in case you spiral down the path of evil and start murdering everyone in your way.
Aela the Huntress will stick with you, through and through.
Her unwavering loyalty and willingness to turn a blind eye, plus the ability to give you lycanthropy, makes her a pretty good follower that you can access early on in the game.
The eccentric assassin’s descent into madness, born by isolation, is one of the more interesting stories to follow in Skyrim. His five journals, which are scattered all over the Falkreath Sanctuary, are all worth a read in case you’re up for it.
As a follower, Cicero isn’t half-bad either. In fact, he’s pretty good.
An assassin with high stats, Cicero’s unhinged mind is great to have on your side so long as you’re willing to let his betrayal of the Dark Brotherhood pass.
If in case you’re not the forgiving type, however, that’s okay. After killing Cicero, there will be two Dark Brotherhood Initiates with the same stats as Cicero at the Dawnstar Sanctuary once Nazir and Babette move in.
Sure, they won’t be as eccentric and entertainment as Cicero is, but who is? Besides, if you do kill Cicero, you can take the Cicero’s Outfit set, which is one of the best sets available in Skyrim for Assassins.
3. Mjoll the Lioness
Taking it upon herself to rid the thief-ridden Riften of those who so willingly corrupt it, getting Mjoll the Lioness to be your follower isn’t easy.
Not only do you have to get on her good graces, but you have to retrieve her sword as well. But, if you do that and she becomes your follower, then you’ve got one of the tankiest bruisers around.
Capable of maxing out both of her Heavy Armor and Two-Handed skills at level 40, Mjoll the Lionness can walk around with as much as 580 health max, making her one of the tankiest followers around.
Plus, she can’t be killed by friendly fire as well, because she is labelled as an essential character in the game.
It’s probably only a bonus that she’s quite the chatterbox who frequently tells stories of her past adventures.
Also, be warned. If you try to do mischief in Riften, you might want to prepare for Mjoll the Lioness to turn her sights onto you.
Arrogant, brash, and just raring to go on an adventure, J’zargo is one of the only two Khajiit followers available in the game and is easily one of the best followers all around.
Without a level cap in place, J’zargo can level up with players indefinitely, making him extremely powerful. He also maxes out both his Heavy Armor and One-Handed skills once he reaches level 50, which makes him quite the cannon fodder who, at the same time, can also dish out Destruction spells, as well as Restoration spells, when necessary.
Just make sure to equip J’zargo with higher level staves, otherwise he’ll keep on casting level-level Destruction spells, which is a huge waste of his stats.
5. Serana (Dawnguard DLC)
Coming as part of the Dawnguard DLC for Skyrim, this pure-blooded vampire is similar to Mjoll the Lioness in that she also cannot die. But, unlike, Mjoll the Lioness, she is also literally immortal, as she is also a vampire, one who pledged herself to Molag Bal in a terrifying ritual.
Featuring one of the more interesting character arcs in the game, Serana is a powerful necromancer that can raise the dead to help fight for you. Also, she’s quite adept at throwing out Destruction spells. She also seems to know her way around a melee weapon as well, with One-Handed being one of her primary skills.
Finally, Serana is unique in that she actually interacts with the environment.
For example, she’ll meditate with the Greybeards and try to keep herself occupied in case you find yourself doing something else, like, for example, low-balling another poor merchant.
Players can also ask Serana to bite them, effectively turning the Dragonborn to a Vampire Lord.
Farkas and Vilkas are both bruisers who likes to get up on their opponent’s faces while dishing out some pain of their own. But, between the two, Vilkas is the better companion or follower.
If you like staying from the far back and deal your damage from afar, Vilkas is definitely one of the better companions for you.
Just try not to expect too much from Vilkas, especially in terms of character development or even improvement, mostly because Vilkas doesn’t really improve a ton throughout the course of the game.
Still, as an early companion, there’s a lot of benefits to be had to have this bruiser fighting for you.
7. Teldryn Sero (Dragonborn DLC)
Just as capable of entertaining you with unique insights about the different cities of Skyrim and as he is carving up your opponents as if they were nothing, Teldryn Sero, who caps out at level 60, is one of the best companions around.
A literal sellsword who you can hire for 500 coins at The Retching Netch in Solstheim at Raven Rock, this Dunmer is an absolute force on the battlefield.
Teldryn Sero is great with melee weapons, and can cast spells from afar as well. Not to mention, he can summon himself a Flame Atronach to fight on your side, further adding to the amount of destruction that the two of you can do together.
Teldryn Sero is pretty much everything you could ask for in a companion.
8. Frea (Dragonborn DLC)
Another Dragonborn DLC exclusive, Frea can be found in the Skaal Village on Solstheim.
What sets Frea apart is that she is an essential NPC, making her unkillable. She also doesn’t have a level-cap, which means that she can get quite powerful the higher the player’s level goes.
With high levels on Alteration, Light Armor, Restoration, and One-Handed, Frea would’ve been a perfect companion as is. But, the fact that she can dual wield weapons and is smart enough not to let herself get caught on traps makes her a worthy companion that will definitely make life easier for you throughout your adventures.
A quest character who is also invisible — how can you get even better than that?
So long as you don’t complete Barbas’ quest, this shapeshifting Daedra is all yours for the keeping, and let me tell you, Barbas is deceptively strong.
Capable of taking out weaker enemies so you can focus on the bigger prey, Barbas also makes for an excellent meatshield, mostly because he can’t be killed. Plus, he’s a good boy and listens if you tell him to stay beforehand, unlike other followers whose life goal seems to be to make your life miserable.
Perhaps the best part about having Barbas with you is that he’s technically not a follower, so you can have another companion.
You know what they say, good things come in threes.
Lydia is the iconic Skyrim follower that even players who haven’t played the game yet know of, mostly because she’s been the subject of memes since pretty much the game first came out nearly a decade ago.
An effective all-around fighter who is literally sworn to carry your burdens as the Thane of Whiterun, the quintessential companion shines best, not in the battlefield, but at home as the Dovahkiin’s life companion.
If you marry Lydia, you’ll get a loyal housewife who’ll give you 100 Septims a day and prepare a home cooked meal for you every time you come home.
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and with Lydia, that’s certainly true.
Regardless of which companion you choose to have with you throughout your adventures, it’s important to keep in mind that they are only as good if you listen to what they have to tell you.
While not all followers in Skyrim have colorful personalities that help them give you a more unique perspective of the game’s world, they all have something to say that’s well worth listening to.
Invest in their personalities and let them shine.
Sure, not everyone can be as entertaining as Cicero is, but, remember, companions simply aren’t people who will follow you blindly into the darkest of dungeons and the bloodiest of battlefields — they are people with their own unique personalities and stories to tell.
This article reflects the opinion of the freelance writer.