"I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee," is probably one of the most recognizable quotes from any video game, despite only being a throwaway bark in Skyrim. In fact, the line is so popular on the internet, it even reached a medieval expert who decided to seriously break down the mechanics of such an injury in historical context.
"We’re going back to medieval times but I’ve been inspired by my own viewers," explains Kevin Hicks on his YouTube channel thehistorysquad. Hicks explains that anytime the channel published videos about medieval wounds, viewers would flock to the comments to parrot the evergreen Skyrim meme, which left a history buff like him very confused.
Hicks thankfully learned the ways of The Elder Scrolls this year thanks to his son, prompting him to finally make a video about the wound and take the usually-silly line very seriously. "Well, in medieval times, if you took an arrow to the knee, did you survive? Could you soldier on again? What actually happened to you?" Hicks points out that Skyrim is obviously influenced by the Dark Ages and the medieval period, so historical context can also give us insight into the injury.
The video below does get into some gory details, which the squeamish among us might want to avoid. Though Hicks only demonstrates the arrow-to-the-knee injury on a plastic model that replicates the kneecap and the ligaments that hold it all together.
My favorite part of the video shows actual drawings from the period, demonstrating the makeshift contraptions that people with injuries and disabilities used to move. Hicks himself actually recreated one such brace, a strap made from copper strips and leather, which he says wouldn’t make an injured soldier battle ready again, though it would make guard duty bearable. So, Skyrim? Historically accurate.