Serana from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looking into the camera with her hood up.

The 10 Best Skyrim Followers

If you're seeking a stalwart ally, look no further than these followers!

Alex is a games journalist and narrative designer. She's written for a variety of popular gaming websites and enjoys narrative-driven adventure games. When not writing, reading or exploring the wilds of an open-world RPG, you'll find her drawing, designing quests or learning the ropes of Unreal Engine.

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Reyadh is a writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction who loves to play video games full of monsters and magic. When he's not scribing unique and unrelenting speculative fiction or slaying demons in virtual worlds, he is writing strategy guides to help others reach their gaming goals.

Key Takeaway

Here are our picks (in no specific order) for the 10 best followers in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:

  • Serana
  • Mjoll the Lioness
  • Brelyna Maryon
  • Aela the Huntress
  • J’zargo
  • Vilkas
  • Cicero
  • Frea
  • Teldryn Sero
  • Erandur

With that said, your playstyle will determine which companion is the most useful to you.

If you’re a warrior, consider recruiting a mage or ranger-like follower for higher DPS. If you’re an archer or spellcaster, think about acquiring a tanky companion as a meat shield. Choose an ally to cover your weaknesses and you’ll never lose a fight.

Roaming the beautiful icy wilds of Skyrim is an adventure many of us continue to enjoy. However, you don’t have to go it alone out there. With such a variety of followers to choose from, it’s helpful to know which ones are the best for your journey across Skyrim.

Table Of Contents

    Skyrim’s Follower System

    Skyrim is one of the most-loved games in The Elder Scrolls franchise. Its huge player base remains dedicated to the frozen province and its inhabitants well over a decade after the game’s release.

    One of Skyrim’s most engaging and immersive features is the ability to bring followers on your adventures. Of course, it’s a wild experience bringing down a dragon or fighting your way through the restless undead by yourself. However, if you’d rather bring some company along for the ride, there are plenty of potential recruits to choose from in this game.

    Skyrim allows you to enlist the services of several unique followers during your gameplay. Some can be hired temporarily, whereas others can join you for your adventures as part of a more longstanding—often permanent—relationship.

    In addition to NPC followers, you can also recruit creatures in Skyrim. These include dogs, trolls, and other beasts, who’ll act as your pets. They can join you alongside one other NPC follower on your travels, which means you can effectively make use of two companions at once.

    How to Get a Follower in Skyrim

    You can get some of the best Skyrim followers by working through some of the game’s many unique quests. Different followers bring their own set of skills to the table. So, it’s worth taking the time to find out more about each of them before diving into a lengthy quest.

    Completing certain quest lines builds your relationship affinity with certain NPCs, who can then join you as followers. Various feats of strength or demonstrations of your commitment to the province’s nine holds can reward you with specific followers too.

    Achieving Thane status in a particular hold provides you with a new follower called a housecarl. Your housecarl follower will then act as your bodyguard and will carry out your wishes whilst in your service.

    Additionally, some followers are only available as part of the game’s DLC expansions. So, depending on your version of the game, you may or may not be able to recruit allies from the Hearthfire, Dawnguard, or Dragonborn add-ons. If you have the Creation Club for Skyrim Special Edition, you can purchase additional followers, including creatures—some of which can be downloaded for free.

    You can also hire a mercenary follower from most of Skyrim’s inns, although once you’ve dismissed them, you’ll need to hire them again for a fee. Mercenaries can help you take down tough enemies whilst you practice Block or Restoration skills, which will help you level up a lot faster in the process.

    The Best Skyrim Followers to Use

    While follower choices are largely a matter of preference, some followers bring better questing and combat perks than others. That said, the following companions are perhaps the best Skyrim followers to choose from.


    Serana from Skyrim standing inside the College of Winterhold

    Required DLC: Dawnguard
    Prerequisite quest: Prophet (main Dawnguard quest)
    Location: Dimhollow Cavern

    Serana is undoubtedly one of the best followers in Skyrim. Once you’ve completed the Dawnguard storyline, she’ll become available to you as a companion. Serana brings a unique combination of skills with her. These include Sneak, One-handed, Conjuration, and Light Armor.

    This makes her an ideal follower for stealth gameplay, as do her vampiric skills and necromancer’s ability to raise corpses to fight as allies alongside you. These perks, alongside her charismatic dialogue and inability to die, make Serana a popular choice as a Skyrim follower.

    Mjoll the Lioness

    Mjoll the Lioness from Skyrim warning the player to be careful during a conversation in Riften.

    Prerequisite quest: Grimsever’s Return
    Location: Riften

    You can recruit Mjoll after completing Grimsever’s Return. She’s a hardy Nord warrior with skills in Heavy Armor, Two-handed, Archery, and Block. She’s also quite a confident and chatty follower to have alongside you on adventures.

    Start her related quest by talking to her in Riften and offering to help locate her lost weapon.

    Mjoll has a close friendship with Aerin, who can also be found in Riften. Be careful not to kill him if you want to have Mjoll as a follower. Doing so will turn her against you and you won’t be able to recruit her anymore.

    Brelyna Maryon

    Brelyna Maryon from Skyrim reading a book inside the College of Winterhold

    Prerequisite quest: Brelyna’s Practice
    Location: College of Winterhold

    Brelyna is a Dunmer mage who can join you once you’ve completed her specific quest line. She’s a good option if you’re playing as a spellcaster, although her strong magical abilities complement any build. As a mystic, Brelyna is highly skilled in Alteration, Conjuration, and Illusion—as well as Sneak and Restoration.

    Brelyna is a solid choice for situations where defensive tactics are needed, as she can summon protective wards alongside various Atronachs to aid in combat.

    Aela the Huntress

    Aela the Huntress from Skyrim looking at the player behind Jorrvaskr in Whiterun

    Prerequisite quest: Companions questline
    Location: Jorrvaskr, Whiterun

    Aela the Huntress is one of the members of the Companions of Whiterun and can join you after you complete their faction’s campaign. She’s an ideal choice for ranged situations, thanks to her extremely high Archery skills. However, Aela also has strong stealth and charisma skills, including Sneak, Light Armor, One-handed, and Speech.

    She’s one of the few Skyrim followers that can offer training, and, as an Expert-level Archery instructor, she can upskill your ranged prowess considerably.


    J'zargo from Skyrim crouching mid-spell in the College of Winterhold

    Prerequisite quest: J’zargo’s Experiment
    Location: College of Winterhold

    If you love a follower with personality, J’zargo is an excellent choice. A Khajiit mage who can be found practicing his craft at the College of Winterhold, J’zargo is one of the few followers with no level cap. He’ll bring an arsenal of Destruction, Restoration, and Alteration skills along with him as your follower.

    J’zargo is rare in that he’s one of only two Khajiit followers available in Skyrim. He’s a great choice if you prefer a skilled magic dealer with entertaining dialogue at your side.


    Vilkas from Skyrim standing outside of Jorrvaskr in Whiterun

    Prerequisite quest: Companions questline
    Location: Jorrvaskr, Whiterun

    Vilkas is another of the core members of the Companions of Whiterun. He’s a strong Nord warrior and Master-level trainer in the Two-handed skill.

    Vilkas makes a more impactful follower choice than his brother Farkas due to his strengths in Two-handed, Heavy Armor, Archery, and Block. These skills make him a highly capable Tank-style follower who’s a solid option for high-damage melee situations.


    Cicero from Skyrim looking at the player whilst on the road

    Prerequisite quest: Dark Brotherhood questline (must be spared during The Cure for Madness)
    Location: North of Whiterun, near Loreius Farm

    You’ll need to join the Dark Brotherhood and play their questline to completion before you can recruit Cicero. However, if you spare his life at a certain point in the quest, he’ll be available to you as a follower with a unique set of perks.

    As an assassin, Cicero is naturally skilled in Sneak, One-handed, Archery, and Light Armor. His jester persona and eccentric behaviors can become a bit irritating—although his combat abilities are useful if you prefer stealth gameplay.


    Frea from Skyrim looking at the player from inside the Temple of Miraak

    Required DLC: Dragonborn
    Prerequisite quest: The Fate of the Skaal
    Location: Skaal Village, Solstheim

    As part of the Dragonborn expansion, the island of Solstheim offers you some choices for followers. One of these is Frea, a Nord living in the island’s Skaal Village. Once you’ve completed her questline, you can persuade her to become your follower if your Speech skill is 25 or higher. You’ll initially find her at the Temple of Miraak as part of the DLC’s Dragonborn quest line.

    Frea’s skilled in One-handed, Light Armor and uses Alteration and Restoration skills alongside dual-wielding axes and making use of her bow and arrow. She’s a great all-rounder and can heal herself easily in combat.

    Teldryn Sero

    Teldryn Sero sitting on a chair inside the inn on Solstheim in Skyrim

    Required DLC: Dragonborn
    Prerequisite quest: N/A (hire for 500 gold)
    Location: The Retching Netch, Solstheim

    Teldryn Sero is another potential follower who can be found on Solstheim—in the main settlement of Raven Rock. As a hired Spellsword, Teldryn brings some impressive combat abilities, including the ability to summon a Flame Atronach who’ll shoot fireballs at your enemies.

    Teldryn also uses his One-handed skills alongside a range of fiery Destruction spells, and is the highest-level character of all of Skyrim’s mercenaries, maxing out at level 60.


    Erandur asking the player what's wrong whilst inside an inn in Skyrim

    Prerequisite quest: Waking Nightmare (must be spared at the end of the quest)
    Location: Windpeak Inn, Dawnstar

    Erandur is a Dunmer priest who can be recruited after you complete his accompanying quest. This adventure requires investigating a Daedric curse and will require you to choose Erandur’s fate near the end. To have him as a follower, you’ll want to keep him alive.

    Erandur is a skilled Restoration healer who also makes use of Destruction and Conjuration magic in combat. Whilst a solid choice for magical support, you should give Erandur better protective gear than his original hooded robes provide.

    Can Followers Die in Skyrim?

    The majority of your permanent followers will recover once downed during a fight. However, they can die if they’re hit by an attack whilst regenerating health in their downed state. This is permanent. So, you’ll want to be careful not to accidentally strike or deal damage near them whilst they’re down and recovering.

    Some followers cannot be killed and are therefore the best option to help you in the hardest fights. These followers include Mjoll, and Cicero, the two Dark Brotherhood initiates, Derkeethus, Frea, and Serana.

    How Many Followers Can You Have In Skyrim?

    You can have one permanent follower and one creature follower at any one time during your adventures. Once you’ve unlocked a follower for recruitment, they’ll be available to you for the rest of the game.

    For even more battle buddies, you can potentially get spells to permanently summon an atronach (Flame Thrall, Storm Thrall, and Frost Thrall)—or eternally raise a dead enemy (Dead Thrall)—after you complete the Conjuration Ritual Spell questline at the College of Winterhold.

    Keep in mind that if you want a break from a follower, you’ll need to tell them where to wait for you if you want them to join you again later. You can also dismiss them entirely. Doing this will return them to their regular routine and original home base.

    Temporary followers, such as quest-based NPCs, can join you and your permanent companion as long as their quest remains active. Mercenaries will also accompany you alongside another permanent follower until you dismiss them.

    Benefits of Having Skyrim Followers

    Besides providing you with company on those chilly Nordic adventures, followers come with unique benefits and perks. If you’re a player who loves searching every nook and cranny in Skyrim, you’ll probably know the struggles of carrying way too much in your inventory. With the amount of valuable loot to discover, it’s hard to leave any of it behind!

    Luckily, with a follower alongside you, inventory management is a lot easier. You can trade gear and items with your chosen companion as you see fit. Giving them the heavy stuff to haul around makes a lot more sense if you don’t want to be weighed down on your travels.

    You’ll need to remember which follower you’ve given your loot to, in case you decide to change traveling partner later on. Also, don’t be surprised to see your followers wielding a weapon or wearing some armor you’ve given them for safekeeping. Once you’ve given them some of your gear, they’ll pick out some of the pieces they like best to use for themselves. Don’t worry though, you can retrieve your stashed items from them whenever you feel like it.

    Inventory aside, the main perk of having a follower at your side is their combat prowess. Each follower has their own specific set of skills that can greatly enhance your chance of success in battle. Depending on your preferred style of play, some followers will suit your needs better than others. So, be sure to experiment with different companions on your adventures.

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