Stealth Archer image example depicting a screenshot from Skyrim.

Stealth Archer

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Updated Apr 05, 2024 at 02:24PM EDT by Zach.

Added Apr 04, 2024 at 05:56PM EDT by Philipp.

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Stealth Archer or Sneak Archer refers to a series of memes that parody The Elder Scrolls players to degrade into a stealth archer build no matter what build they were initially planning for their playthrough of the video game series. The cliché has been a running joke in the The Elder Scrolls community since as early as 2015.


In the 2011 video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Sneak is one of the available skills. Archer builds in the game benefit from the skill particularly well as upon reaching level 40 in Sneak, Deadly Aim ability is unlocked, tripling damage from stealth attacks with bows.[1]

On June 2nd, 2015, Imgur[2] user JohnnyTheBlade posted a meme that described each playable race in Skyrim, with a tidbit for each race mentioning that they make great stealth archers. The post (shown below) received over 220 upvotes and 317,000 views on the site in nine years.

BRETONS IMPERIALS OR CS Bretons are from the country of High Rock, which is a lot like England. Many of them are known for being good mages. However, a lot of Bretons are also known for being excellent stealth archers. They are part of the Empire but there's a lot of them in all the provinces everywhere else also. ARGONIANS NORDS Imperials hail from the province of Oblivion, home of the evil Empire. Though natives of the Empire, not all Imperials are actually evil and side with the Empire, and some are actually extremely talented at the art of stealth archery. Even though orcs from most stuff are usually evil, orcs in the Skyrim games are not always. They hail from the province of Orsimerium, and are many of the best fighters on the entire planet of Tamriel. They live in orc strongholds which are sort of like tribes, but some of them choose to leave the stronghold and become wandering stealth archer assassins. Argonians are lizards, which is pretty cool. They are from the province of Black Marsh, which is notable for being black, being a marsh, and having a lot of lizards. I heard something about talking trees which is also cool. They all wear daedric armor and f----- up the Dumner in a war, but are also noteworthy for being highly deadly stealth archers. Nords hail from the province of Skyrim and were the first humans to live on Tamriel. All other humans including Redguards are descended from Nords. Nords do not favor magic and instead prefer to focus on melee combat with two-handed weapons as well as stealth archery. Some noteworthy Nords include Ysgramor, Ulfric Stormcloak, and Lydia. DUMNER KAHJIITS BOSMER REDGUARDS Dumner are from the island of Morrowind, which was an earlier game in the Skyrim series. Not much is known about them, but they worship the daedra like Azura and Sheogorath. While many consider them to be evil because of this, many Dumner are actually perfectly respectable stealth archers who get along fine with other races except Nords as they mysteriously wander Skyrim. Khajits are the most popular of the Skyrim races. You probably already know a lot about them already like the fact that they are cats, but they also party way harder than any of the other races from Skyrim. Kajiits can do way more moon sugar and skooma than the other races, and once got so f----- up that they collectively believed their entire country had traveled to the moon. In addition to partying, khajiitts are also naturally skilled at stealth archery and make for very cool stealth archer assassins. The greatest and most powerful stealth archers on the entire planet of Tamriel, their unrivaled prowess at stealth archery has made Bosmer the most well-respected and popular of all races. Hailing from the country of Valenwood, Bosmer live in graceful harmony with the trees, almost identically to wood elves from Lord of the Rings, and repel any invaders of their land with their superior stealth archery abilities. Also they can all transform into the Wild Hunt whenever they feel like it. Redguards are Nords who became black after moving to the desert province of Hammerfell. As no surprise to anyone, Redguards quickly resorted to piracy as a way of providing for their families. In addition to being pirates and killing Thalmor, Redguards also make fairly decent stealth archers and have a natural advantage when assassinating targets at nighttime. Also they are black. THALMOR Thalmor are ASSHOLES who think they're better than everyone else just because they're the oldest race on Tamriel. They are by far the worst stealth archers of any of the races and literally no one likes them or chooses to play as them ever. If you play as a Thalmor, you are probably gay. F--- THE THALMOR!!!!!!!!!!!!


The image saw viral spread in the gaming community after being shared in mid-2015 and being reposted on Facebook, Twitter and multiple subreddits in the following years.

In the second half of the 2010s, each Skyrim playthrough degrading into the sneak archer build became a running joke in the The Elder Scrolls community.

For instance, on September 24th, 2016, Redditor Toxicitor posted a humorous graph that received over 930 upvotes in /r/skyrim[3] in eight years (shown below, left). On March 27th, 2017, Redditor RelentlessNick10 made a post inquiring about the popularity of the meme, which received 17 upvotes in a similar timeframe on the same subreddit[4] (shown below, right).

Stealth Archer I should learn some illusion spells to keep me hidden and confuse enemies I should get a pair of swords to help me in close range. I should get some armour to help get me out of a tight spot. It would be a shame to let my extra mana go to waste. Why not learn some destruction spells? ✓ Mage Sneaking around is boring anyway. I'll just get their attention with the bow, then use my swords. Ranger I don't really need to sneak anymore. I'll just charge in with my warhammer. Warrior ← r/skyrim ⚫7 yr. ago Relentless Nick10 The Stealth Archer Meme Am I missing something? It's common on this sub to see people joke about how they "stumble into becoming a stealth Archer", as if it's some sort of accident, and I just don't get it. I've played stealth Archer before, and it was fun, a bit easy, but fun. I know it's the best for damage output, and is low risk, but I just don't get how people accidentally become one. Each time I make a character, and I assume this is the same with the average player, I have a general idea of how I'm going to play. Never do I just "end up" being something else. It's not like stealth Archer is definitively better than other playstyles. A spellsword or tank if done right are as good, if not better than a stealth Archer. The point is I don't see a reason for people to shift into becoming a stealth Archer. I also kind of want the meme to die, since it's so overused.

In the late 2010s, the joke saw further spread outside of Reddit and Facebook. For example, on February 20th, 2019, X[5] / Twitter account @TheElderMemes posted a Bad Acronym meme that received over 130 reposts and 690 likes in five years (shown below, left). On April 3rd, 2020, Redditor A_Stylish_Man posted a Money Printer Go Brrr meme originally posted by Instagram user @clavicus_mora. The post (shown below, right) received over 24,000 upvotes in the /r/gaming[6] subreddit in four years.

ELDER MEMES The Elder Memes @TheElderMemes yes, i'm a warrior: WARR А - O sneak archer ○ R 6:58 AM • Feb 20, 2019 NOOOOOOOO!!! YOU CANT JUST PLAY AS STEALTH ARCHER ALL THE TIME!!! ITS BORING AND OVERPOWERED YOU HAVE TO USE MAGIC AND OTHER WEAPONS EXCEPT BOW!!!!!!!!!! haha bandit go "must have been wind" oclavicus mora

The meme maintained popularity through the early 2020s, with multiple examples posted across all major social media platforms.

Various Examples

The Vrgin stealth archer probably downloaded 85349854 t---- mods for assholes that just wanna sit in the corner and left click every once in a while "hey guys,can someone explain to me whats combat?" idk what kind of overpowered bs bow they can pull out of their assholes, so i just put a hunting bow Spams "haha i cant stop choosing stealth archer" memes The illusion... stealth archer build i'm gonna do a stealth archer build! i'm not gonna do a stealth archer build! ...of free choice. ELDER MEMES The Elder Memes @TheElderMemes my two handed orc warrior being forced to become a stealth archer GALLY OF GALLY GR 8:19 AM May 30, 2022
ELDER MEMES The Elder Memes @TheElderMemes i am definitely not playing sneak archer this playthrough 7:32 AM Mar 8, 2021 This playthrough will be different. I'll use heavy armor and two handed weapons. No bows and no sneaking! I could use a crossbow for some range tho. I might aswell invest some points into sneaking. Might be useful. Hahaha sniping people with a bow is so much fun Every playthru Heavy armor, Two handed 2 Light armor, One handed UR 3 Stealth archer

Search Interest

External References

[1] The Elder Scrolls Wiki – Sneak

[2] Imgur – Races of Skyrim

[3] Reddit – My experience with stealth archers

[4] Reddit – The Stealth Archer Meme

[5] X – @TheElderMemes

[6] Reddit – Stealth Archer OP

Recent Videos 1 total

Recent Images 20 total

Top Comments

𝓢𝖎𝖓𝖆𝖊𝖑 𝓲𝓼 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓒𝓔𝓞 𝓸𝓯 𝓗𝓸𝓻𝓷𝔂
𝓢𝖎𝖓𝖆𝖊𝖑 𝓲𝓼 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓒𝓔𝓞 𝓸𝓯 𝓗𝓸𝓻𝓷𝔂

There's never a reason to NOT open a combat encounter with a distant sneak attack – it's basically free damage.
As you perform enough such sneak attacks, you will become better and better at both sneakig and archery, enough to one shot most enemies, so there's never a reason to use anything else. you become a stealth archer.

You only need 9 perk points to become a competent steath archer.
You need about 14 perk points to become a competent Warrior.
You need about 20+ perk points with all perks put into magic to be a barely adequate mage.

Stealth archery is a global game balance problem and is the answer to "why single player games need balance" argument.

The solution is to make Stealth Archers MUCH more detecteable after one or two shots and for enemies to start taking potshots or swarming their positions thus eliminating their bonus stealth damage while keeping its niche as a great encounter opener, maybe adding a stealth-magic alternative.


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