Skeleton

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Skeletons are common undead 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. 80% of skeletons spawned directly under the sky spawn as strays in Snowy Tundra, Snowy Mountains, Ice Spikes, Frozen River, Frozen Ocean, and Deep Frozen Ocean biomes. 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.

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 damage immunity for 3 seconds after spawning, In Bedrock Edition they are only immune from lightning bolts.

Bedrock Edition

Skeletons spawn in groups of 1-2.

80% of skeletons spawned directly under the sky in Legacy Frozen Ocean, Snowy Tundra and Snowy Mountains spawn as strays instead. Only skeletons and strays can spawn naturally there.

Cave spiders have 1% chance to spawn with a skeleton riding them, creating a cave spider jockey.

Monster spawners[edit]

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

Drops[edit]

Skeletons drop:

  • 0–2 bones. The maximum drop is increased by 1 per level of Looting, for a maximum of 0-5 bones with Looting III.
  • 0–2 arrows. The maximum drop is increased by 1 per level of Looting, for a maximum of 0-5 arrows with Looting III.
  • Any picked-up equipment has a 100% chance of dropping, and 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 is usually badly damaged, and has a chance of being enchanted.
  • A skeleton drops 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 taller variant of skeletons that spawn in nether fortresses, as well as the general Nether[Legacy Console Edition only]. They hold a sword instead of a bow, and inflict the Wither status effect for several seconds when attacking.

Stray[edit]

A stray.

Strays are another variant of skeletons that spawn in certain cold biomes. 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, the pumpkin or jack o'lantern can drop with a chance equivalent to the level of Looting (up to 3% chance with Looting III).

Behavior[edit]

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

Skeletons chase any player or iron golem they see within 16 blocks. They can climb stairs, navigate mazes, and traverse other complex obstacles to get within shooting range. When they are within 15 blocks of the player with a clear line of sight, they stop chasing and start shooting with arrows, one arrow every 2 seconds (1 on hard difficulty). They can strafe at a player's walking speed in circular patterns to try to dodge attacks during the process, and retreat to safe range if the player comes too close (4 blocks or less) to them. The detection range of skeletons is reduced to half of their normal range (8 blocks) while the player wears a skeleton mob head.

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. To account for gravity, skeletons aim 0.2 blocks higher for every block horizontal they are from the target.

If a skeleton's arrow hits certain hostile mobs, that mob attacks the skeleton the same way it would attack the player, if 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.

Skeletons sink in water and are unable to swim, but do not drown. They will continue to shoot at the player while underwater, but the water will slow down their arrows.

If spawned with no weapon at all (which can be spawned with /summon skeleton ~ ~ ~ {HandItems:[{id:air,Count:1b}]}), 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 always shoot that type of arrow; these arrows are not consumed.

Bedrock Edition
Skeleton shooting
Skeleton shooting

When its target is closer, a skeleton shoots faster, but deals less damage. Skeletons make no attempt to avoid being hit. An underwater skeleton can use a melee attack only to attack its target and cannot use its bow.

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 always chase the player if they see one, skeletons do 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 flees 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 shoot at any nearby iron golems and snow golems. Skeletons also search for and attack baby turtles.

Mob type[edit]

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

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

Geared skeletons[edit]

A skeleton with a white-dyed leather full set.

Like zombies, some spawned skeletons have the ability to pick up dropped items from the ground. If a picked up item is armor, a carved pumpkin, a jack o'lantern, or a mob head, a skeleton equips itself with the item. If the picked up item is a weapon or tool, the skeleton uses the item 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 is never mismatched (i.e. all pieces are 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 drops the bow (with the same chance as if killed with Looting I) and starts using the sword. If a skeleton has a sword or bow in its hand, and one of a better type or with better enchantments is given, the skeleton drops the existing weapon (with the same chance as if killed with Looting I) in favor of the better one. Any skeleton that spawns with equipment (picked-up items don't count) gives 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 HunterHit something with a tridentminecraft: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

History[edit]

Java Edition Classic
August 14, 2009Teased skeletons.
0.24_SURVIVAL_TESTSkeletonSurvivalTest.png Skeletons are added.
Skeletons spawn randomly in new Survival maps and follow players when approached, much like zombies.
0.25 SURVIVAL TESTSkeletons 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 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 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.
Skeletons now drop 0–2 arrows upon death.
February 14, 2010, 1Skeletons 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 now burn only 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?SkeletonAlpha.png Skeletons 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?SkeletonHoldingArrow.png 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 now fire arrows slightly slower. Their arrows however, are shot with more force.
Java Edition
1.0.0?SkeletonWithOneHand.png Skeletons 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 rushes to the nearest shadow or body of water for safety.
12w06aThere is now a small chance that a skeleton drops a bow when killed. There is also a small chance of the bow being 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 wear it. If they pick up a weapon, they wield it. However, there is a bug that skeletons fire arrows when 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 now have a chance of spawning with a pumpkin or jack o'lantern.
12w38aSkeletons have now been given new sounds.
1.4.41.4.3-preSkeletons now rush toward the player, instead of shooting arrows, if they don't have a bow.
1.513w02aSkeletons now shoot from a range of 15 blocks instead of 10.
13w03aSkeletons 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.
1.814w10aSkeletons now run away from wolves, instead of fighting back.
14w11aSkeletons now run away from creepers that are about to explode.
14w30aSkeletons now drop their skulls when killed by a charged creeper.
1.8.1pre1Skeletons no longer run away from creepers that are about to explode.
1.915w31aSkeleton Revision 1.png Skeletons now lower their arms when idle.
Skeletons now animate their bow; they now pull it out when becoming hostile and draw it back to shoot arrows.
Skeletons now have a small chance of spawning with their bow in their left hand.
Skeletons now have the ability to dual wield.
SkeletonHoldingArrow.png Skeletons 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 now have a new AI that 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 now shoot that type of arrow.
Entity ID Skeleton is now skeleton, wither_skeleton and stray for those respective mobs.
1.1318w07aSkeletons now seek and attack baby turtles.
18w19aSkeletons can now sink underwater.
Skeletons can now no longer drown underwater.
1.1418w43aSkeleton.png The texture of the skeleton has now been changed.
Pocket Edition Alpha
0.3.3SkeletonHoldingArrow.png Added skeletons.
0.5.0Skeletons have new animations.
0.9.0build 8Skeletons now have new AI.
build 9Skeletons now use the old AI again because they weren't firing arrows correctly.
0.11.0build 1SkeletonWithOneHand.png Skeletons now no longer hold their bow with 2 arms.
Skeletons can now spawn as rider from spider jockey or cave spider jockey.
build 14Skeletons now have improved accuracy.
0.12.1build 1Skeletons now use the new AI again, thus improving accuracy and intelligence, so when the skeleton starts burning in the daylight, it hide to the nearest tree or a big shallow lake.
Skeletons can now spawn wearing armor.
Skeletons can now spawn with enchanted bows.
Skeletons now have the ability to pick up items.
build 12New sounds have now been added for dying skeletons.
0.13.0build 1Skeletons now run away from wolves.
Skeletons now shoot faster when players get closer, but their arrows deal less damage.
0.14.0build 1Skeletons are now slightly taller (1.99 blocks tall rather than 1.95).
0.15.0build 1Skeleton Revision 1.png Skeletons 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 shoot flaming arrows only 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 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 now sink while underwater.
Skeletons now breathe underwater. Prior to this, skeletons would die from drowning.
Skeletons now use melee attacks and stop using ranged attacks when underwater.
beta 1.5.0.4Skeletons now seek and attack baby turtles.
Legacy Console Edition
TU1CU11.0Patch 1SkeletonAlpha.png Added skeletons.
TU5SkeletonHoldingArrow.png The 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 now fire their arrows slightly slower. 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 rushes to the nearest shadow or body of water for safety.
There is now a small chance that skeletons drop a bow when killed. There is now also a small chance of the bow being enchanted (Power I).
TU19CU71.12Skeletons can now spawn wearing armor and weapons.
Once the player gets closer to a skeleton, the skeleton fires arrows more frequently.
TU31CU191.22Patch 3Skeletons now run away from wolves, instead of fighting back.
Skeletons now drop their skull when killed by a charged creeper.
TU46CU361.38Patch 15Skeletons may now spawn from skeleton trap horses.
Skeletons now have a new AI that allows them to strafe while attacking.
Skeletons 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, a skeleton 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 drops a music disc.
  • The artificial intelligence of skeletons in Bedrock Edition is equivalent of the skeletons from Java Edition between versions 1.5 and 1.8.9.

Gallery[edit]

Armor[edit]