The Skeksis are a fictional species which act as the main villains in the 1982 fantasy film "The Dark Crystal", its companion book "The World of The Dark Crystal" and the TokyoPop prequel "Legends of the Dark Crystal". The word "Skeksis" serves as both singular and plural form for this species, with the singular being pronounced /IPA|skɛk.sɪs/ and the plural pronounced /IPA|skɛk.siz/. They are described by concept artist Brian Froud as, "... part reptile, part predatory bird, part dragon." In the film, the Skeksis are represented by puppets engineered under the direction of Jim Henson. Jim Henson said that in the development of the Skeksis, the creators drew inspiration from the Seven Deadly Sins. [ [ The Book of Habidabad - Of the Nature of Skeksis ] ]

Concept and creation

Jim Henson was inspired to design the Skeksis by an illustrated edition of a Lewis Carrol poem showing two elegantly dressed crocodiles in a bathroom. He became intrigued with the idea of a reptilian race assuming control over a formerly splendid past society. [ [ The Book of Habidabad - Production Notes ] ] Numerous names were proposed for the species, including Skekses, Reptus, Karackt and Skek-sis. [ [ The Book of Habidabad - Interesting Facts ] ]

Henson himself commented on the difficulty of performing as a skeksis;



The skeksis are tall bipeds combining both avian and reptilian physical features. They all wear elaborate robes of lace, velvet, and brocade which apparently keep the skeksis constantly decomposing bodies intact.cite book | author= Smith, A.C.H & Odell, David| title=The Dark Crystal| year=1982 | pages= 186 | id= ISBN 0030624363 ] Their heads are beaked like a vulture's, while simultaneously sporting curved fangs. They have bloated bellies and long reptilian tails, as well as curved quills on their backs. Like their UrRu counterparts, they have two pairs of arms, yet in the skeksis, only one pair is functional, the other being atrophied. [As shown by the Chamberlain SkekSil when he was stripped]


The skeksis are the corrupt rulers of the planet Thra, having inherited it from their benevolent UrSkek predecessors. They are the embodiments of the knowledgeable, yet unrestrained parts of the UrSkeks souls. The Skeksis culture favors repetitive flamboyance, emotional pettiness, and a wasteful attitude toward life. Though they are capable of forming alliances, they are by nature extremely paranoid toward each other.

Due to the accelerated decomposition of their bodies, the Skeksis constantly search for ways to prolong their lives at all costs. Their primary method is to expose themselves to sunlight channelled directly through the Dark Crystal, though the amount of energy replenished to them is greatly dependent on the conjunction of Thra's three suns. Another method is a form of planetary accupuncture, in which power lines laid on their castle channels the planet's energy to them, then feeds back noxious pulses, resulting in their kingdom's wasteland appearance.cite book | author= Froud, Brian | title=The World of the Dark Crystal| year=1982 | pages= PP. 132 | id= ISBN 0810945797 ] Another method is to directly drain the lifeforce from other life-forms by exposing them to reflected beams of the Dark Crystal. The life-force is collected in a liquid form and drunk only by the Emperor, who regains his youthful appearance. This has the effect of turning the drained victims into near-mindless husks which the Skeksis use as slaves. Originally, Gelflings were most ideal in essence extraction until they were exterminated and Podlings were used in their place, their lifeforce having a temporary effect on the drinker.

They have created creatures such as the huge, crab-like Garthim to be their enforcers and the Crystal Bats to act as their eyes and ears throughout Thra.


Originally, Jim Henson thought of having the Skeksis communicate through noises, though he later shot the film showing the skeksis speaking a constructed language based on ancient Greek and Egyptian specially devised by linguist Alan Garner. The dialogue was later redubbed in English, as the original version proved unsuccessful in impressing test audiences. [ [ The Book of Habidabad - The Director's Cut ] ] The original language is however present in "The World of the Dark Crystal" and "The Dark Crystal" novelization. The Skeksis' language is ill-suited to descriptions of long, complex processes as it is restricted to nouns, adjectives, and expletives. [ [ The Book of Habidabad - The Language of the Skeksis ] ] The skeksis language is shown to have an Object Verb Subject word order.


The products of a botched attempt by UrSkeks to purify their souls by using trapped sunlight from the Crystal of Truth, the skeskis entered the world of Thra hating their UrRu counterparts and each other. Not long after the division, a fight broke out between the two races, resulting in a shard of the crystal being chipped loose from the main rock and being lost. The UrRu then left the castle to the skeksis, who began to modify the UrSkek architecture with their own grotesque designs. The Skeksis apparently considered the division a great triumph, and attempted to create a crystal of their own. The blackened rocks they created though proved ineffectual, and were reused as targets for the Haakskeekah ritual, translated as "Trial by Stone", which the loser is stripped of his position.

According to "The World of The Dark Crystal", the Skeksis were originally a vibrant and jovial race that possessed the wisdom and knowledge of the UrSkeks, yet lacking any form of restraint or contemplation. They ruled Thra for over a 1000 years and apparently had good relations with the Gelfling people, inviting them to their castle and reveling with them in festivity and song. As time passed and the Skeksis morality decayed along with their bodies, they began to keep Gelflings as slaves. Desperate, the Gelflings sought counsel in prophecy, which revealed that a Gelfling would end the rule of the Skeksis by healing the Dark Crystal with the shard it once lost. When the Skeksis learned of this, their first reaction was to create multiple crystal shards in order to confuse the Gelfling's search. Later, they had the Garthim carry out the genocide of the entire Gelfling race.

By the start of the movie, only ten Skeksis surived, with skekSo's death leading to skekUng succeeding him. However, skekUng's reign was short lived as Jen and Kira survived the massacre of their people, eventually finding each other and fulfilling the prophecy that destroyed the Skeksis and reintegrated them into the urRu to recreate the urSkeks.cite video|people=David Odell (writer), Frank Oz and Jim Henson (directors)|title=The Dark Crystal|medium=DVD|publisher=Tristar|year=1983]

List of Skeksis

In film

The Emperor skekSo

The first skeksis emperor, skekSo is described in "The World of The Dark Crystal" as having originally been an energetic ruler who enjoyed lavish festivity and sporting events which he invariably won. As he aged however, he became increasingly paranoid and spiteful, even toward his fellow skeksis, elevating individuals to high positions only for the pleasure of seeing them fall later.. Once he died, skekUng succeeded him as emperor. Prior to the actual succession, in the film's deleted scenes, skekSo's decayed remains are gathered and cremated as part of Skeksis funerary tradition.

The Ritual Master skekZok

An arrogant high priest, skekZok fancied himself as skekSo's closest advisor, and sought to control the other skeksis through false prophecies and apparitions, only to bitterly discover they distrusted his divinations and practised their own. skekZok spearheads the various rituals the Skeksis practice such as the "Ceremony of the Sun", and sees their laws as absolute, thus he is the most eager to kill off the Gelfing race quickly. Though a contender of the throne after skekSo's death, skekZok sides himself with skekUng, who becomes the next emperor. Though he assists in the search for the surviving gelflings with his crystal bats, he is nonetheless distrusted and feared by skekUng. When skekSil arrived with Kira, he was annoyed at skekUng's commands to drain Kira of essence before actually killing her. Ironically, it was skekZok's killing of Kira that marked the Skeksis' downfall.

The Garthim Master skekUng

Formerly the commander of the brutish garthim soldiers, skekUng was physically the strongest of the skeksis after skekSo. He had a bitter rivalry with the chamberlain skekSil, which culminated in a successful duel for supremacy after the death of skekSo, becoming the new emperor of the Skeksis. Though the other Skeksis admire his ferocity, his constant blundering in the capture of the surviving gelflings fails to evoke the desired respect of his subjects. He is suspicious of skekZok's loyalty, and is constantly fearing a challenge to his authority.

The Chamberlain skekSil

As Chamberlain, skekSil is second in line to the Skeksis throne, though the confronation with SkekUng in Haakskeekah not only cost him his position, but also led to his exile as a result of SkekUng's first decree. As evidenced before the Emperor's death, SkekSil and SkekUng depised each other, with SkekSil's trademark whimper always vexing SkekUng.

The Scientist skekTek

The creator of the Garthim soldiers, the other skeksis fear him, as they understand nothing of his work. His fascination with anatomy was so great he went as far as amputating one of his arms and legs, replacing them with mechanical constructs. He also replaced his jugular vein with a transparent external tube, in order to monitor his own circulation. He is a personal nemesis of Aughra, who was once a colleague of his back when he was an UrSkek. Whilst attempting to drain the gelfling Kira of her essence, she managed to rally all the laboratory animals tortured by skekTek to break loose and attack him, resulting with him losing his footing and falling down the crystal shaft towards the magma below.

The Gourmand skekAyuk

The court gourmet expert, skekAyuk creates a different menu for each feast. His personal favorites are hot spices, sweet liqueurs, and rich cream sauces. Yet in spite of all this, the Skeksis' spiritual disjointment makes them leave each banquet still raging with hunger.

The Slave Master skekNa

The supervisor and disciplinarian of the pod slaves, he is described in "The World of the Dark Crystal" as "purely and openly evil from the beginning" and in "The Dark Crystal" novelization as having "no imagination and no nobility at all". He has an eyepatch and a hook for one hand. He dubiously claims to have an ear for music, and takes it upon himself to select specific slaves for skekTek to experiment upon. Along with skekTek, he is a strong supporter of skekUng, and at one point was considered for promotion to the rank of patriarch for his loyalty.

The Treasurer skekShod

Administratively skekSil's subordinate, skekShod is incapable of acknowledging anyone's presence unless offered some gift. Due to his limited vocabulary and excessive material desires, bribery is the only way he knows to gain what he wants. He frequently bribes the other skeksis into temporarily loaning him their personal possessions. Along with skekOk, he is a supporter of skekZok.

The Scroll Keeper skekOk

The Scroll Keeper not only is the finest featured and smallest of the Skeksis, but also the most dishonest as he constantly rewrites the Skeksis' history to suit his allegiances and propaganda needs. His loyalty is to skekZok.

The Ornamentalist skekEkt

Despite possessing a genuine gift as a designer, skekEkt is nonetheless described in "The World of the Dark Crystal" as an extremely vain and callous character who would gladly cause the death of countless animals for the sake of fabricating one cloak. According to skekSil's thoughts in "The Dark Crystal" novelization, skekEkt's uncharismatic depravity was considered excessive, even by the standards of the skeksis, to the point where it would never command their obedience. He has the responsibility of giving the final say in the selection of experimental Pod slaves modified by skekTek for ritual choruses. Along with skekAyuk, he is a supporter of skekSil.

Expanded universe

The General skekVar

A loyal military leader, skekVar is nonetheless distrusted by skekSo, who under the influence of skekLach, believes the general is seeking to appropriate the throne.

The Collector skekLach

A collector of trophies of war, skekLach secretly tries to undermine skekSo's authority by withholding gelfling essence for himself, whilst convincing the emperor that the shortage is due to skekVar. He blackmails skekTek into remaining silent. He has a mechanised arm and a scarred face.cite book | author= Kessel, Barbara Randall & Arnohld, Heidi| title=Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars | year=2007 | pages= 192 | id= ISBN 1598167014 ]


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