Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a massive game. The northern country’s sprawling map covers nine major cities in the base game alone, with even more towns, dungeons, towers, and ruins begging to be explored in its expansions. It’s a lot to take on by yourself, which is why we decided to put together a list of Skyrim followers ranked.
That’s right! This Skyrim followers list will include NPCs from both the Dawnguard and Dragonborn expansions in addition to all the best characters from the vanilla version of the game.
We like Skyrim a lot here at HGG. Not only did we rank it number one on our list of the best Elder Scrolls games, it also took first place on our list of the best Bethesda games ranked! So, who better than us to list the top-ranked Skyrim followers?
25 Best Skyrim Followers Ranked Worst to Best
Skyrim has over fifty humanoid followers, not to mention creatures and those summoned via conjuration magic. Some followers are only available for certain quests and cannot rejoin your party once the quest is complete. This list will exclusively feature allies who can join your party permanently. (Sadly, that means no Barbas or Karliah.)
Ready to find out who’s going to stand by your side when you take out Alduin? It’s time for Skyrim’s best followers ranked!
We’re going to start our list of Skyrim best followers ranked with kind of a strange one. You can find Eola in the Hall of the Dead in Markarth. You must complete “The Taste of Death” quest to get her as a permanent follower. She’s a solid choice for those seeking a mage who can sneak. You just have to be willing to engage in some minor cannibalism.
24. Borgakh the Steel Heart
Borgakh is a female orc who can be recruited in the orc stronghold Mor Khazgur. You can get her to follow you either by passing a persuasion check or offering to pay off her dowery. She’s a competent early to mid-game sneaky-tank and one of only two female orc followers in the whole game.
Erandur, AKA Casimir, is a priest of Mara who can be encountered during the “Waking Nightmare” quest. His speech, alchemy, and smithing proficiencies are all-but-useless, but he can cast Lesser Ward, Firebolt, and Flames. He has a high level threshold (capping at 50), though he’s probably the weakest follower capable of reaching this level.
Illia is one of the better companions that you encounter while dungeon diving out in the world. You’ll find her in the Darklight Tower, standing over a couple of other mages she’s just killed. You can recruit her by agreeing to help her kill her mother, who is trying to become a hagraven. Illia has some powerful frost spells, including Ice Spike, which she uses liberally. Her health could be better, but her damage output is fantastic.
Want a grumpy werewolf in your party? Farkas is a member of the Companions and can be recruited by completing their questline. He’s a decent tank for the early game, but his smithing, speech, and pickpocketing skills don’t add much to his usefulness. He can train you in heavy armor, though. Fun fact: the name Farkas actually means “wolf” in Hungarian, and his twin brother Vilkas’s name means “wolf” in Lithuanian!
20. Argis the Bulwark
Now we’ve reached the Housecarl section of the list! Housecarls are special followers gifted to you by the Jarl of each region when you are granted the title of Thane. Most Housecarls have similar health and abilities, and all of them have a level cap of 50. They’re relatively interchangeable, which is why most of them are grouped on this list. Argis the Bulwark is appointed to you once you’ve become the Thane of the Reach. He’s a pretty good tank, though he’s the only Housecarl who can’t become a steward as part of the Hearthfire DLC.
19. Jordis the Sword-Maiden
Jordis the Sword-Maiden will become your Housecarl after you are named Thane of Solitude by completing five miscellaneous quests in the region, fulfilling a personal request from Jarl Elisif, and buying the very expensive Proudspire Manor. For all that work (and money), you might expect her to be better than other Housecarls, but she’s more or less the same. It is possible to turn her into a vampire as part of the Dawnguard expansion, though, so that’s neat!
Calder is another Housecarl. He is gifted to you after you’ve been named Thane of Eastmarch and have purchased a home there. Like most Housecarls, he comes with steel gear and is best suited to a tank role.
Become Thane of the Pale, and you get Gregor! (Another tank, big surprise.) Argis, Jordis, Calder, and Gregor all have about the same stats, health, and gear. Odds are you’ll end up using whichever one happens to be in the region where you become Thane first.
Iona is the next Housecarl on the block. You get her when you become the Thane of the Rift. She’s also built to be a tank, but she has some decent bow skills too. It’s possible to receive a quest from Florentius Baenius as part of the Dawnguard DLC to rescue Iona from a group of vampires that took her prisoner.
I hope you haven’t burnt out on Housecarls because Rayya is actually kind of interesting. Not only is Rayya the only Housecarl who isn’t a Nord, but she’s also the only one who can dual-wield one-handed weapons. You can give her a shield and set her up as a tank like the others if you want, but she’s easily the best Housecarl follower for DPS. You can recruit her after becoming Thane of Falkreath.
If you’ve played Skyrim at all, then there’s a good chance that Lydia was your first follower. You get her as part of the main storyline, shortly after becoming Thane of the Hold in Whiterun by helping Jarl Balgruuf’s men kill a dragon. She’s been known to block the occasional doorway, and many players could do without the snarky commentary when asking her to trade items. Still, she’s a versatile early-game follower who’s powerful enough to be the only follower you ever need.
13. Mjoll the Lioness
Mjoll is an extremely powerful two-handed warrior who is best used in the early to mid-game. She caps out at level 40, but don’t let that fool you. She has a tremendous amount of health, and her DPS is nothing to sniff at either. She also has one of the more well-defined personalities out of the companions on this list. She’s vocally opposed to the Thieves’ Guild and the Black-Briar family. She’s about as close to lawful-good as anyone in Skyrim can be.
Vilkas is a werewolf, a member of the Companions, and Farkas’ twin brother. He specializes in two-handed weapons (which he can also train you in) and heavy armor. He comes with a set of wolf armor, which is a bit of a half-step up from steel. Vilkas is basically an improved version of Farkas and an excellent follower to have early on.
Thought we were done with Housecarls? Well, there’s one left. Valdimar is a sorcerer who is sworn to your service after you have earned the title, Thane of Hjaalmarch. He likes to use a steel mace, but what makes him especially useful are his alteration, destruction, and restoration spells. He can cast Oakflesh, Stoneflesh, Ice Spike, Close Wounds, Healing, Lesser Ward, and Turn Undead.
10. Ralis Sedarys
Ralis Sedaris is the first character on our list to be added in DLC, but he certainly won’t be the last. He’s part of the Dragonborn expansion, and you can find him at Kolbjorn Barrow in Solstheim. Sedarys is useful as a rogue. He has proficiencies in one-handed weapons, light armor, block, and (most importantly) sneak. He only becomes available as a follower if you spare his life at the end of the Unearthed quest.
9. Teldryn Sero
There are many mercenary followers in Skyrim, but there’s only one who made it on our list. You can hire Teldryn Sero at a tavern in Raven Rock called the Retching Netch. Sero outranks all the others because of his high level cap (60), but he’s also the best spell-sword in the game. If hired, he will regularly conjure a flame atronach, meaning you get two followers for the price of one!
The clown prince of the Dark Hand is one of the most controversial followers in the game. Cicero’s… eccentric personality isn’t for everyone. That said, if you enjoy random spells of dancing and psychotic mutterings, then this is the jester for you! Jokes aside, Cicero is the best assassin-class companion in the game and somehow has one of the best sneak stats despite his outfit.
Durak is a ranger and a member of the Dawnguard. He the first character from the DLC to approach you and tries to recruit you as part of the Vampire hunting organization. He’s one of only five followers in Skyrim that have no level cap, though he is probably the least useful.
6. Aela the Huntress
Aela the Huntress is a fan favorite, and for good reason. She has good dialogue and an iconic design, and she’s one of the best thief-class characters in the game. Aela is a member of the Companions. You unlock her pretty early on by completing their questline in Whiterun. She’s also an archery trainer, just in case you’re an aspiring hunter yourself.
Ingjard is another Dawnguard member you can recruit once you’ve completed their questline. She is a two-handed warrior who also specializes in heavy armor. Like Durak, she has no level-cap, so she’s good to have if you want a bruiser in the very late stages of the game.
Our last Dawnguard member is a two-handed warrior by the name of Calann. He has high health and no level cap, and he specializes in heavy armor, one-handed weapons, archery, and block. This effectively makes him the best tank in the game. Get Calann if you like characters like Lydia and Gregor in the early levels.
Now onto our top three! J’zargo is the only follower in vanilla Skyrim not to have a level cap, meaning he can be attained very early on in the game. You get him by joining the College at Winterhold and completing the quest “J’zargo’s Experiment.” J’zargo is one of the rare mage followers who specializes in heavy armor. He has a slew of destructive spells, including Firebolt, Lightning Bolt, and Ice Spike, as well as some decent illusion and restoration spells. There is also a certain charm to the Kajit’s unbridled confidence.
Coming in at number two on our list of Skyrim followers ranked is Frea! She is the daughter of the Skaal Village shaman and a pivotal character in the main questline of the Dragonborn DLC. She has no level cap and a unique combination of proficiencies. She combines one-handed weapons with alteration and restoration magic. Like Rayya, Frea is one of the few followers who can dual-wield. You have to have your speech over level 25 to recruit her, but it’s worth it.
And now for our number one pick — Serana!
There are a whole host of reasons why this ancient vampire is one of the best Skyrim followers ranked, but the main one is that she can’t die! Followers are supposed to only be killable by players, but we’ve all accidentally gone a little wild with dual blades or else accidentally had some fallout from a Firestorm spell. Serana is the only character in the game who maintains her immortality even after an associated major questline is finished.
But how good is she in a fight? Serana has some top-tier conjuring and elemental destruction magic. She regularly reanimates the corpses of dead foes and makes them fight on her behalf.
She also interacts with the world more than any other follower, adding to the game’s overall ambiance. She wears a hood in the daytime, complains about the weather, uses crafting tables, swings a pickaxe in the mines, and comments on conversations with other NPCs.
The Greybeards Are Calling