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What sort of person would clothe themselves in bones and skulls?[1] Someone who no doubt appreciates them as symbols of mortality and death. The wearer of such attire must surely lead a hardened lifestyle of murder, combat and death-bringing. Perhaps you could say that they're... bad to the bone?

Alternatively, they could just be Cavemen or other "uncivilized" people, making the most of the all-natural materials available.

A staple of Obviously Evil design. Compare Spikes of Villainy and Chained by Fashion. See also Bad with the Bone when bones are used as Improvised Weapons.

Examples of Skeletons in the Coat Closet include:


Card Games

  • Two of the Shards of Alara, feature this trope. The goblins of Jund are eaten by basically everything on the shard, and wield bone weapons and armor, while the entirety of Grixis uses bone gear due to corpses lasting forever there and not much else.
    • Almost fifteen real life years before those, Armor Thrulls were specifically bred for this purpose by the Order of the Ebon Hand (in Fallen Empires of all sets).

Comic Books

  • Mystique from X-Men wears a belt of skulls.
  • Deathmonger from Empowered wears the skull of a dead superhero as a mask.
  • Taskmaster's costume always incorporates some sort of skull mask, which has ranged over the years from vaguely skull-like to what looks like actual bone to stylized ballistic armour.
  • The faceplates worn by the Hunters and Omega Hunters in Extinctioners are stylized human skulls despite their targets being anthropomorphic animals which is the first hint to the Hunters being human.

Film

  • The Kurgan in Highlander wears a skull as a helmet at one point.
  • General Kael, The Dragon to Queen Bavmorda in Willow wears a helm with a skull mask. An unusually realistic depiction, as while the metal parts were useful and saved him from a blow to the head, the bone shattered when it was hit.
  • Mola Ram in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has a skull as part of his headdress, and various bones as part of his jewelry.
  • In Serenity, the ship is disguised as a Reaver ship by covering it with bones, blood and corpses.
  • 7 in Nine, wears a bird skull (dubbed the 'Skullmet'), which functions as a Cool Mask.
  • Battle Butler Igor in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (he serves the former) wears an armour made of bones.
  • Part of the killer's mask in Midnight Movie is a skull.
  • One of the villains in Slashers wears a sash covered in small bones.

Literature

  • Drizzt's arch-nemesis Artemis Entreri wields Charon's Claw, a sword with bones for a hilt.
    • Subverted with another of Drizzt's main enemies, Obould Many-Arrows. He has a helmet crafted to look like a skull, but is in made of glass-steel, a super-hard, transparent material.
  • Cohen The Barbarian from Discworld has dentures made out of troll teeth. Discworld trolls, being made of metamorphic rock, have diamond teeth. Also, a troll mobster makes cufflinks out of his enemies' teeth. Other trolls like to wear belts of human and dwarf skulls, but in recent, more politically correct times, sheep skulls have become a substitute (after a short experiment with monkey skulls. Either there was too much similarity in size and approximate shape for most dwarfs to tell the difference or the Librarian took issue). The real tough troll criminals don't bother; they just beat you over the head with your own arm until you get the message rather than run the risk of inflaming dwarfs with no grounding in forensic anthropology unnecessarily.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, Faction Paradox members wear ceremonial masks created from the skulls of creatures "that really shouldn't have existed in the first place anyway".
  • Rattleshirt from A Song of Ice and Fire is the leader of a band of barbarian raiders who wears bones sewn together as armor. (His nickname comes from the way they clack together as he moves, he personally prefers the title "Lord o' the bones"). Although the novel deliberately takes pains to show that the barbarians and raiders are NOT Always Chaotic Evil, just the result of a different cultural morality and doing what they need to survive, Rattleshirt does not come off well, usually being a self-important Jerkass and constantly trying to make himself seem more important and powerful that he really is. (Notably, when Rattleshirt takes off his armor, it reveals a short, homely man who looks anything but intimidating).
  • Averted by Sangamon Taylor, the environmental-crusader from Neal Stephenson's Zodiac, who found a more modern way to dress himself in death: he wraps his feet in protective plastic and dons tennis shoes soaked in toxic waste. Very colorful, keeps the cops at a distance, and it's a hell of a media statement if any Corrupt Corporate Executive he opposes has to call in a Hazmat team to divest him of footwear stained by their own companies' deadly byproducts.

Mythology

  • Hindu goddess Kali is often represented wearing a necklace of skulls and bones.

Tabletop Games

  • There is actually a prestige class in the Dungeons and Dragons Eberron setting called the Bone Knight, who gets some bonuses for making and wearing bone armor and weapons.
    • The Bonegrim and Skeletal Armors from 4th Edition's Adventurer's Vault are definitely quite bone-like, and grant necrotic resistance upon their wearers.
  • Chaos, Dark Elves/Eldar, and Orc/Orks in Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 love wearing the heads and skulls of their worthiest opponents impaled on their Spikes of Villainy. The Imperium prefers tastefully sculpted depictions of skulls. On everything. (But they use plenty of real skulls too.)
    • Skulltaker, one of the Blood God's more dangerous servants, wears a cloak made of the skulls of his fallen opponents. His table top miniature has no less than 137 skulls modeled on it.
  • In the Rifts universe, skulls are a major motif of Coalition forces, to include robotic infantry made to look like walking skeletons.
  • Exalted: This is amongst the Abyssals' macabre choice of grave fashion.

Video Games

  • The Pokémon Cubone is a somewhat tragic example. The young take their mother's skull as a helmet and let their head grow into it. Which makes one wonder about what's going on when one hatches and its sprite already has the "helmet".
    • Houndour and Houndoom are surely intended to come off this way.
    • And now with generation five, we have Vullaby and Mandibuzz, the bone-clad vultures. Special mention goes to Vullaby since it uses a skull as a diaper of all things - mess with Mandibuzz's children and she'll make sure her children shit in your skull when she's done with you.
  • In City of Heroes, the Skulls gang makes their masks out of real skulls looted from graveyards.
  • Mr. Grimm of Twisted Metal: Black was forced to eat his friend by a sadistic Viet Cong officer, and now wears that friend's skull as a helmet as a memorial to him.
  • Sif, the Hot Amazon of Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song wears a massive horned skull on the back of her head. She's arguably the most Badass of the eight leads, having grown up in the harsh Shiverlands as the best warrior of her tiny village.
  • Diablo 2 features bone helms, bone shields, and bone wands which all classes can use. There are also the shrunken heads which are unique shields for necromancers.
  • In Terraria, players can craft necro armor using cobwebs and bones. Wearing a full set increases the players speed by about 20% and gives them a visual motion blur to emphasize that there going fast, combining with the anklet of the wind and Hermes boots, you can become a speed demon.
    • By the 1.06 update, the necro armors boost is a chance not to use ammo when firing a ranged weapon and increased ranged damage, suffice to say, it may NOT please people
  • This theme along with Bad with the Bone is rampant throughout the World of Warcraft expansion "Wrath of the Lich King". The titular King has skulls in just about every location of his armor where they would fit.

  "No, it's not okay, I have skulls...on....my....kneecaps!"

    • Death Knights also have the ability to summon a protective Bone Shield, though in this case the bones hover around the player instead of being worn as armor.
  • In the "Kingdom Hearts" series the pirate-themed heartless have skull shoulder pads.
  • The orcs of the Bonechewer clan in Warcraft II were known for their cannibalistic nature, and for ornamenting themselves with the bones (and organs) of their enemies.
    • Exemplified by their leader, Tagar Spinebreaker, who wore a belt made out of an orc's spine, and bracers made out of ogre vertebra. Tagar later shows up in World of Warcraft, but due to graphical limitations, this isn't apparent.
  • Chaos, the final boss of the original Final Fantasy, had skulls for kneecaps.
  • Morrowind has Bonemold armor.
  • "This is Zombo's 'comb! Welcome to Zombo's 'comb!"
  • Shao Kahn's skull helmet.
  • In the Monster Hunter series, armour is made of parts of monsters you've killed.
  • In Blood, the Super Armor icon is a skeleton's torso.
  • In Monolith's Diablo-esque early game, Sanity Aikens Artifact, the Big Bad is revealed at the end to have de-evolved completely into nothing more than a giant psionic brain. In the final battle, he forms a body in the shape of a giant cow's skeleton from slaughterhouse bodyparts to fight the hero.
  • The Orc chief Bloodfang from Drakensang wears a massive animal skull as helmet. In the sequel you can find and equip it, but it's not very powerful.
  • In the original Blod Omen: Legacy of Kain, Kain could wear Bone Armor, which would trick less intelligent undead into thinking he was one of them, allowing him to pass by unnoticed.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, it is possible to craft armor out of the bones of dragons, creating one of the best plate armor sets in the game.

Webcomics

Western Animation

  • The Obviously Evil affiliation is subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender, where the only explicit skulls in the coat closet are the golden skulls on the Earth Kingdom army uniforms of generals. Low-ranking firebenders do wear a metal mask as part of their helmet which is somewhat skull-like, however.
  • Also subverted in the How to Train Your Dragon Film Short sequel, Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon where the heroes hunt down the apparently aggressive dragon and he looks like the stuff of nightmares. However, when he finally gets the last bone needed to complete his armor from Gobber, he turns out to be a friendly sort who freely volunteers to fly the shipwrecked bunch home.
  • In Invasion of Paradise Island, the Big Bad Shock Tron has two mirrors on his shoulder who Does Not Know His Own Strength at first. He is afraid of them at first because his mirrors are deep. The Dragon Aleph tells him not to be afraid, because he who combines Light and Dark into one will be stronger and that he forged his men through friendship. Eventually, he tricks Wonder Woman into breaking his Mirrors, which then unleashes his Jinx powers on her and thanks Aleph for it. In the Season 1 finale, he becomes a force to be reckoned with as he uses his powers to seize control of Paradise Island and make it into a haven where everyone can be treated equally.

Real Life

  • Assassin bug nymphs have been known to camouflage themselves in the husks of their prey.
    • Decorator crabs sometimes incorporate bits of crustacean shells into their own disguises, alongside living algae and sea anemones.
  • Some Native American tribes made breastplates out of bone.
  • Skull helmets are impractical in real life, as skulls become very brittle when they're dead and dry.
  • Nazi SS officer caps have a skull on them.
    • Not really an example of wearing actual, literal "bones." More like pirates using skulls-and-crossbones as their symbol. Incidentally, skull-and-crossbones emblem (along with black uniforms) had been used by Prussian cavalry since 18th century and both the SS and the Panzerwaffe were just using an old, well-known military symbol.
  • And as long as we're collecting metaphorical bones, go to any shop with a good selection of Fun T Shirts and you will find at least one skull motif.

Notes

  1. Apart from the fact that skeletons are indestructible
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