Skeleton

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Skeletons are common undead humanoid hostile mobs equipped with bows.

Spawning[edit]

Skeletons can spawn almost anywhere in the Overworld at a light level of 7 or less, in groups of up to 4 in Java and Legacy Console editions or to 2 in Bedrock Edition. 80% of skeletons spawned directly under the sky in Snowy Tundra, Snowy Mountains, Ice Spikes, Frozen River, Frozen Ocean, and Deep Frozen Ocean biomes will spawn as strays instead. In the Nether, they can also spawn in nether fortresses at a light level of 7 or less in place of a wither skeleton.

Spiders have a 1% chance to spawn with a skeleton riding them, creating a spider jockey. In Bedrock Edition, cave spiders have 1% chance to spawn with a skeleton riding them, creating a cave spider jockey.

Skeleton horsemen spawn when a skeleton trap is triggered by a player. The skeletons ride on skeleton horses and are equipped with enchanted bows and iron helmets, and have the Resistance effect for 3 seconds after spawning.

Skeletons are 1.99 blocks tall.

Monster spawners[edit]

Skeletons can spawn from naturally-generated spawners found in dungeons.

Drops[edit]

Skeletons drop:

  • 0–2 bones (additional 1 bone drop for every Looting level, with a maximum of 0-5 bones for Looting III)
  • 0–2 arrows (additional 1 arrow for every Looting level)
  • Any picked-up equipment has a 100% chance of dropping and will drop with the same damage level it had when picked up.
  • Any naturally spawned equipment (including the bow) has 8.5% chance of dropping if killed by the player (9.5% with Looting I, 10.5% with Looting II and 11.5% with Looting III). It will usually be badly damaged, and has a chance of being enchanted.
  • A skeleton will drop its head if killed by a charged creeper's explosion.
  • Skeletons drop 5 experience when killed by a player or tamed wolf, and 1–3 extra experience if the skeleton has equipment.

Variants[edit]

Wither Skeleton[edit]

A wither skeleton in the nether.

Wither Skeletons are a variant of skeletons, but taller, darker and arguably more dangerous than regular skeletons. They have a sword instead of a bow, and spawn in nether fortresses, and also in the general Nether[Legacy Console Edition only]. They inflict the Wither status effect when attacking. See here for more information of the mob.

Stray[edit]

A stray.

Strays are another variant of skeleton. 80% of skeletons that spawn in icy biomes will be strays instead. They attack like normal skeletons, but shoot and drop tipped arrows of slowness instead.

Halloween[edit]

During Halloween (October 31), skeletons have a 22.5% chance of spawning wearing a carved pumpkin and a 2.5% chance of spawning wearing a jack o'lantern. If these skeletons are killed using a tool enchanted with Looting, there will be a chance equivalent to the level of Looting used to drop the carved pumpkin or jack o'lantern, up to a maximum of a 3% chance of a drop.

Behavior[edit]

Dueling skeletons. Note that the skeleton on the left has turned red due to taking damage from the other skeleton.

Attacking the player[edit]

Skeletons will chase any player they see within 16 blocks, and will climb stairs, navigate mazes, and traverse other complex obstacles in order to get within shooting range. When they are within about 16 blocks of the player with a clear line of sight, they will stop chasing and start shooting the player with arrows, one arrow on each 2 seconds (1 in hard difficulty). They will strafe at player's walking speed in circle patterns to try to dodge attacks during the process, and will retreat to safe range if the player comes too close (4 blocks or less) to them ‌[Java and PlayStation 4 editions only]. If the player moves more than 16 blocks away from the skeleton, it will not see the player. The detection range of skeletons is reduced to half of their normal range (8 blocks) when the player is wearing a skeleton mob head[Java Edition only]. If a player shoots a skeleton outside its detection range, then it will temporarily hold up its bow in a shooting position‌[Bedrock Edition only].

The skeleton's accuracy is based on the difficulty. Skeletons have an "error" of 10 on easy, 6 on normal, and 2 on hard. This is compared to the player's "error" of 1. When their target is closer, skeletons shoot faster, but do less damage‌[Bedrock Edition only]. To account for gravity, skeletons aim 0.2 blocks higher for every block horizontal they are from the target.

Skeleton shooting
Skeleton shooting

If a skeleton's arrow hits certain hostile mobs, that mob will then attack the skeleton the same way it would attack the player, given it was not hit by the player first. If a skeleton is attacked by another mob (usually another skeleton), it may attack that mob, reorienting on the player once that mob is dead.

If spawned with no weapon at all (which can be spawned with /summon skeleton ~ ~ ~ {HandItems:[{id:air,Count:1b}]}),‌[Java Edition only] a skeleton acts like a zombie (though faster), coming at the player with arms outstretched and damaging the player by touching them.

Skeletons are also able to climb ladders, but only when forced to, as their AI does not handle ladders in a special way.

Skeletons holding tipped arrows in their offhand will shoot that type of arrow; these arrows are not consumed.‌[Java Edition only]

Skeletons sink in water and are unable to swim, but they do not drown. Underwater skeletons can only use a melee attack to attack the player and cannot use their bow[Bedrock Edition only].

Burning in sunlight[edit]

Skeleton on fire

Like zombies, skeleton burning occurs at dawn when the sun is 15 degrees or greater above the ground (that is, when the moon can no longer be seen), unless the skeleton is:

If not wearing a helmet, they may make some attempt to seek out shade during the day, or enter bodies of water to protect themselves from burning up. Unlike zombies, which will always chase the player if they see one, skeletons will not exit the shade area even if attacking a player. Burning skeletons have a 50% chance of shooting flaming arrows if the regional difficulty is 3 or greater.

Wolves attacking skeleton
A pack of wolves attacking a skeleton. Note the red angry eyes on the wolves.

Wolves[edit]

Skeletons run from wolves chasing them. A skeleton will flee from a chasing wolf until the wolf deals damage, after which the skeleton turns to shoot at the wolf that successfully attacked it.

Attacking other mobs[edit]

Skeletons will shoot at any nearby iron golems. Skeletons also search for and attack baby turtles.

Mob type[edit]

Skeletons are undead mobs, causing them to be damaged by the status effect Instant Health, healed by the status effect Instant Damage, and unaffected by the status effects Regeneration and Poison.

Skeletons are also ignored by the wither and are affected by the Smite enchantment.

Armed and armored skeletons[edit]

A skeleton in full gold armor.

Also, like zombies, some spawned skeletons can pick up dropped items from the ground, and if those items happen to be armor, carved pumpkins, jack o'lanterns or mob heads they will equip them, and if weapons or tools, the skeleton will use them as a melee weapon.

Skeletons spawn already-armed with bows, which may also be enchanted. The chances of that event are listed below and are taken from the game's code. If a skeleton spawns wearing multiple pieces of armor, the armor will never be mismatched (i.e. all pieces will be made of the same material).

Easy Normal Hard
Armor 0% 0%–15%[note 1] 1.875%–15%[note 1]
Weapon[note 2] 100% 100% 100%
Pick up 0% 0%–55%[note 1] 6.875%–55%[note 1]
Weapon enchantment[note 3] 0% 0%–25%[note 1] 3.125%–25%[note 1]
Armor enchantment[note 3] 0% 0%–50%[note 1] 6.25%–50%[note 1]
  1. a b c d e f g h i Value is based on the regional difficulty.
  2. 100% chance of a bow
  3. a b Enchantment is the same as on an enchantment table at level 5–22.[note 1]

If a skeleton does spawn with armor, the chances of specific armor are as follows:

Armor Easy & Normal Hard
Boots 100% 100%
Boots & Leggings 75% 90%
Boots & Chestplate & Leggings 56.25% 81%
Full set 42.19% 72.9%

The chances of it being of a particular material are:

Armor Type Chance
Leather 37.06%
Gold 48.73%
Chain 12.90%
Iron 1.27%
Diamond 0.04%

Skeleton armor is not damaged from most damage sources, which means it cannot "wear out" the way player armor does. Helmets (not blocks like carved pumpkins) on skeletons can wear away and break if the skeleton is exposed to daylight or has an anvil or other falling block dropped on its head.

If a skeleton has a bow and a sword is given, it will drop the bow (with the same chance as if killed with Looting I) and start using the sword. If a skeleton has a sword or bow in their hand, and one of a better type or with better enchantments is given, they will drop the existing weapon (with the same chance as if killed with Looting I) and start using the better one. Any skeleton that spawns with equipment (picked-up items don't count) will give 1–3 extra experience points per item.

Data values[edit]

Skeletons have entity data associated with them that contain various properties of the mob.

Achievements[edit]

Icon Achievement In-game description Actual requirements (if different) Availability Xbox points earned Trophy type (PS)
Xbox PS Bedrock Nintendo
Sniper DuelKill a skeleton with an arrow from more than 50 metersUse a launched arrow to kill a skeleton, wither skeleton, or a stray from 50 or more blocks away, horizontally.YesPS3YesYes30GSilver
PS4, PSVitaBronze

Advancements[edit]

Icon Advancement In-game description Parent Actual requirements (if different) Internal ID
Advancement-plain-raw.png Not Today, Thank YouDeflect an arrow with a shieldSuit UpDeflect any projectile with a shield.minecraft:story/deflect_arrow
Advancement-plain-raw.png AdventureAdventure, exploration, and combatKill any entity, or be killed by any entity.minecraft:adventure/root
Advancement-plain-raw.png Monster HunterKill any hostile monsterAdventureKill one of these 25 mobs. Other mobs are ignored for this advancement.minecraft:adventure/kill_a_mob
Advancement-plain-raw.png A Throwaway JokeThrow a trident at something.
Note: Throwing away your only weapon is not a good idea.
Monster Hunterminecraft:adventure/throw_trident
Advancement-plain-raw.png Take AimShoot something with a bow and arrowMonster Hunterminecraft:adventure/shoot_arrow
Advancement-fancy-raw.png Monsters HuntedKill one of every hostile monsterMonster HunterKill each of these 25 mobs. Other mobs may be killed, but are ignored for the advancement.minecraft:adventure/kill_all_mobs
Advancement-fancy-raw.png Sniper DuelKill a Skeleton from more than 50 meters awayTake AimKill a skeleton with a projectile while being at least 50 blocks away horizontally.minecraft:adventure/sniper_duel

Video[edit]

History[edit]

Java Edition Classic
August 14, 2009Teased skeletons.
0.24_SURVIVAL_TESTSkeletons are added. They spawned randomly in new Survival maps and followed players when approached, much like zombies.
0.25 SURVIVAL TESTSkeletons will now fire arrows with a purple/magenta colored shaft, appear to fire arrows at a faster and more random rate, and shoot 6 arrows outward a short range in all directions when dying. Arrows fired by skeletons can be picked up and used by players.
Skeletons will now drop 0–2 arrows upon death.
Skeletons will now take five hits to kill and can appear wearing NPC armor (that gave them no additional protection) and gave 120 points when killed.
Java Edition Indev
0.31?Skeletons will now no longer wear armor.
The skeleton's attacking animation has now been removed.
The Purple arrows that skeletons throw have now been removed and have been replaced by brown arrows.
February 14, 2010, 1Skeletons will now catch on fire when exposed to sunlight.
February 18, 2010The chances of catching on fire in sunlight have now been tweaked for skeletons.
Skeletons will now only burn when the sunlight level is greater than 7, and not due to torches at night[verify].
February 19, 2010Skeletons now drop arrows.
Java Edition Alpha
v1.2.0?Skeletons will now hold a bow in their right hand, however they were held as an item just like a player would hold it at this period.
Java Edition Beta
1.2Skeletons can now drop 0 - 2 bones in addition to arrows.
1.8?Skeleton's bow is now larger and held more realistically (full-sized bows, two-handed, and pulling the arrow back) than in previous versions (in one hand).
Skeletons will now fire arrows slightly slower (probably because bows now needs charging). Their arrows however, are shot with more force.
Java Edition
1.0.0?Skeletons will now hold their bow with one hand again, but they still have the larger and held realistically bow.
1.2.112w04aThe skeleton's AI has now been updated, so they are "smarter", i.e. if a skeleton catches fire in daylight, it will rush to the nearest shadow or body of water for safety.
12w06aThere is now a small chance that skeletons will drop a bow when killed. There is also a small chance that the bow will be enchanted.
1.4.212w32aSkeletons, zombies and zombie pigmen can now pick up dropped items. They also have the ability to wear armor and wield a weapon, so if they pick up armor, they will wear it. If they pick up a weapon, they wield it. However, there is a bug that skeletons will fire arrows, even if they are wielding a sword.
Skeletons, zombies, and zombie pigmen can now spawn wearing any type of armor (including chain); both armor and weapons may be enchanted.
12w36aSkeletons can now be found in nether fortresses along with wither skeletons, their Nether equivalent.
?On Halloween, skeletons, wither skeletons, zombies and zombie pigmen will now have a chance of spawning with a pumpkin or jack o'lantern.
12w38aSkeletons will now have been given new sounds.
1.4.41.4.3-preSkeletons will now rush to the player, instead of shooting arrows, if they don't have a bow.
1.513w02aSkeletons will now shoot from a range of 15 blocks instead of 10.
13w03aSkeletons will now begin to fire rapidly at players, who come within close range, in an attempt to knock them back. This makes melee combat in water hard, if not impossible.
1.814w10aSkeletons will now run away from wolves, instead of fighting back.
14w11aSkeletons will now run away from creepers that are about to explode.
14w30aSkeletons will now drop their skulls when killed by a charged creeper.
1.8.1pre1Skeletons will now no longer run away from creepers that are about to explode.
1.915w31aSkeletons will now animate their bow; they will now pull it out when becoming hostile and draw it back to shoot arrows.
Skeletons will now have a small chance of spawning with their bow in their left hand.
Skeletons will now have the ability to dual wield.
Skeletons will now hold their bow with two hands again.
15w32aThe detection range of skeletons is now halved when the player is wearing a skeleton mob head.
15w33cThe detection range for players wearing the skeleton mob head has now been adjusted, it is now 37.5% of the normal range.
15w36aThe detection range for players wearing the skeleton mob head is now again 50% of the normal range.
15w38aSkeletons have a new AI which allows them to strafe while shooting the target.
Skeletons may now spawn from skeleton trap horses.
15w39aSkeletons are now slightly taller (1.99 blocks tall rather than 1.95).
pre1Skeletons can now shoot flaming arrows when burning and regional difficulty is 3 or greater.
Skeletons holding tipped arrows in their off hand will now shoot that type of arrow.
Entity ID Skeleton is now skeleton, wither_skeleton and stray for those respective mobs.
1.1318w07aSkeletons will now seek and attack baby turtles.
18w19aSkeletons will now sink underwater.
Skeletons will now no longer drown underwater.
Pocket Edition Alpha
0.3.3Added skeletons.
0.5.0Skeletons will now have new animations.
0.9.0build 8Skeletons will now have new AI.
build 9Skeletons will now use the old AI again because they weren't firing arrows correctly.
0.11.0build 1Skeletons will now no longer hold their bow with 2 arms.
Skeletons can now spawn as rider from spider jockey or cave spider jockey.
build 14Skeletons will now have improved accuracy.
0.12.1build 1Skeletons will now use the new AI again, thus improving accuracy and intelligence, so when the skeleton starts burning in the daylight, it will hide to the nearest tree or a big shallow lake.
Skeletons can now spawn wearing armor.
Skeletons can now spawn with enchanted bows.
Skeletons will now have the ability to pick up items.
build 12New sounds have now been added for dying skeletons.
0.13.0build 1Skeletons will now run away from wolves.
Skeletons will now shoot faster when players get closer, but their arrows will deal less damage.
0.14.0build 1Skeletons are now slightly taller (1.99 blocks tall rather than 1.95).
0.15.0build 1Skeletons will now animate their bow, they pull it out when becoming hostile and draw it back to shoot arrows.
Skeletons may now spawn from skeleton trap horses.
?Burning skeletons can now only shoot flaming arrows if the regional difficulty is 3 or greater. Prior to this, burning skeletons would always shoot flaming arrows regardless of regional difficulty.
Bedrock Edition
1.2.0Skeletons will now have a 8.5% chance of dropping their equipment. Prior to this, skeletons would never drop their bow and would always drop their armor.
1.5.0beta 1.5.0.0Skeletons will now sink while underwater.
Skeletons will now breathe underwater. Prior to this, skeletons would die from drowning.
Skeletons will now use melee attacks and stop using ranged attacks when underwater.
beta 1.5.0.4Skeletons will now seek and attack baby turtles.
Legacy Console Edition
TU1CU11.0Patch 1Added skeletons.
TU5The skeleton's bow is now larger and held more realistically (full-sized bows, two-handed, and pulling the arrow back) than in previous versions (in one hand).
Skeletons will now fire their arrows slightly slower (probably because bows had now needed "charging"). Their arrows, however, are shot with more force.
TU12The skeleton's AI has now been updated, so they are "smarter", i.e. if a skeleton catches fire in daylight, it will rush to the nearest shadow or body of water for safety.
There is now a small chance that skeletons will drop a bow when killed. There is now also a small chance that the bow will be enchanted (Power I).
TU19CU71.12Skeletons can now spawn wearing armor and weapons.
Once the player gets closer to a skeleton, the skeleton will now fire arrows more frequently.
TU31CU191.22Patch 3Skeletons will now run away from wolves, instead of fighting back.
Skeletons will now drop their skull when killed by a charged creeper.
TU46CU361.38Patch 15Skeletons may now spawn from skeleton trap horses.
Skeletons will now have a new AI, which allows them to strafe while attacking.
Skeletons will now animate their bow.

Issues[edit]

Issues relating to "Skeleton" are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.

Trivia[edit]

  • If alerted to a player's presence, skeletons can fire arrows backwards, occasionally hitting themselves.
  • Skeletons cannot see the player through glass, fences, or other transparent blocks.
  • If a skeleton kills a creeper, the creeper will drop a music disc.
  • The artificial intelligence of skeletons in Bedrock Edition is equivalent of the skeletons from Java Edition between 1.5-1.8.9 versions.
  • Strays can spawn in snowy beaches.‌[BE only]

Gallery[edit]