|“The Skeleton Army? But why would they fight beside you? You betrayed them and Samukai long ago.”|
“Because everybody hates snakes!”
|— Pythor and Kruncha, "All of Nothing"|
The Skeleton Army is made up of skeleton minifigures with torso, leg, head, and arm pieces. They wear belts and armor that is colored red, blue, gray, or white (their elemental colors). Generals have much larger heads than regular Skulkin, with different details on their scalps; Nuckal has a row of spikes, Kruncha has a helmet, and Wyplash has a stud to attach headgear (although the straw hat fits best).
The Skulkin have torsos with bolts printed above the rib cage. These torsos are new pieces with a colored belt depending on the element (even though they aren't Elemental Masters themselves). The Skulkin have two types of arms: regular arms for holding weapons normally, and sideways arms for holding weapons out to the side for Spinner battles. Both types of arms are bent at the elbows. Unlike previous skeleton figures, Skulkin warriors have black shoes, mainly so they can stand on spinners. The Skulkin wear different types of armor depending on their rank.
The trooper armor has bolts on the top and has metal across the chest with a Skulkin symbol. The sides have spikes over the shoulders that are colored differently depending on the element. The Generals have armor that features the Skulkin symbol and bones connected by straps to the shoulder guards. The shoulder guards have colored spikes to represent elements (the only colors shown are gray and white because only Kruncha and Wyplash have them).
Due to Samukai's unique design and high rank among the Skulkin, he has special armor. In the pilot episodes, it is brown, but in "Wrong Place, Wrong Time" and in "An Underworldly Takeover" it is white.
At an unknown point in time, the Underworld came into existence as one of the Sixteen Realms, becoming intertwined with Ninjago, with fallen warriors who were unable to come to terms with their deaths arriving in the Underworld, becoming skeletal beings known as Skulkin. Over time the Underworld's population grew in size as battles continued to occur and warriors fall, with deceased animals becoming enlarged versions of their remains upon their arrival. At some point, Samukai arrived in the Underworld following his death and became the leader of the Skulkin. Later, Samukai and his warriors came into conflict with the Sons of the First Spinjitzu Master and were defeated.
An Underworldly Takeover (Flashback)
Several Skulkin accompanied Samukai as they surrounded a raging Garmadon. From there, they proceeded to watch their master be defeated, and fell under Garmadon's command as a result.
The Last Voyage (Flashback)
Samukai, Kruncha, and Nuckal resurrected Dr. Julien and imprisoned him in the Lighthouse Prison, with Samukai forcing him to create vehicles for the Skulkin. Likewise, he would also imprison the Leviathan there to keep Julien from escaping as a result.
Later on, Bonezai would go on to create the Skull Truck and Turbo Shredder, while Chopov invented the Skull Motorbike.
The Skulkin led an attack on Ignacia Village, under the command of Samukai. After engaging Kai in combat and being attacked by Master Wu, they managed to kidnap Nya and retrieve the Map of the Golden Weapons, calling in a retreat.
The Skulkin would go on to mine in the Caves of Despair in search of the Scythe of Quakes, only for Nuckal to disastrously read the map upside down, hindering their search enormously. After being alerted to the presence of the Ninja thanks to Jay, they clashed with the Ninja, only to be overwhelmed when the Ninja discovered how to perform Spinjitzu. They finally retreated, however, upon witnessing the Earth Dragon coming in to confront them. Later on, Garmadon would comfort their leader on their failure by gloating that it was according to plan.
The Skulkin would later go on to try to retrieve the Shurikens of Ice, only for several of their troops to be frozen by the Ice Dragon. A few of them also tried to ambush the Ninja aboard the Skull Truck, but failed and promptly fell into the icy waters of the Glacier Barrens.
Later on, they attempt to climb up the Floating Ruins to retrieve the Nunchucks of Lightning but are beaten there by the Ninja, only for Samukai to secretly chuckle at the fact events that are going according to Garmadon's plan. Later on, while Kai was being led away by a shadow disguised as Nya, the Skulkin attacked the remaining Ninja and tied them up, planning to proceed to the Fire Temple with the rest of the Golden Weapons in tow, only to be informed by Garmadon that the Sword of Fire was now in their home realm. While driving to a portal to the Underworld, the Skulkin were ambushed by Cole, Jay, and Zane, but ultimately succeeded in their mission.
The Skulkin would go on to keep a lookout for the Ninja while Garmadon and Samukai confronted Master Wu. Upon witnessing the Ninja drop in unexpectedly, the Skulkin attempted to defeat the Ninja but were soundly imprisoned thanks to the power of the Tornado of Creation, trapping them in a massive skeletal Ferris wheel. Later, upon Samukai's destruction, Kruncha was crowned the new King of the Underworld.
Seeking revenge, Wyplash, Krazi, Chopov, and Bonezai attacked Nya at the Four Weapons, only to fail miserably in their attempt.
Looking to reclaim the Golden Weapons, Kruncha and Nuckal would sneak into the Monastery of Spinjitzu, only for the weapons to reject them, forcing the two to leave them behind and head home.
Plotting a second invasion, the Skulkin gathered at the Fire Temple entrance to Ninjago from the Underworld, only for their plans to be disrupted when Flame arrived, sending them fleeing back into the Underworld and destroying the entrance.
Soundly defeated, the Skulkin would largely stay out of the affairs of living as they originally had, with their king Kruncha and his partner Nuckal mostly acting as regular citizens in Ninjago, doing no harm.
While in the Underworld, the Skulkin were confronted by Garmadon, who explained that the Serpentine intended to reawaken the Great Devourer. With a revulsion towards the snakes and their deity, the Skulkin temporarily let go of their grudge and sided with the Dark Lord once more, coming to the rescue of the Ninja at the Serpentine's Underground Fortress, where they fought off the tribes, allowing the Ninja to escape with the Fangblades in tow.
Traveling back in time to confront Garmadon, the Ninja witnessed the Skulkin in the past, committing their acts of villainy as normal, only for their actions to be altered after Garmadon sabotaged their attempts to kidnap Nya, forcing them to escape and averting Kai's destiny to become a ninja. Thankfully, the Ninja restored the timeline somewhat by giving a captured Nya to the skeletons, allowing their actions to continue on as they were supposed to, with a few select members noting strange phenomena that occurred as a result of the time travel, though ultimately making little of it. Later, while ambushing the Ninja at the Forest of Tranquility, they presumably came into conflict with the future Jay over the three Golden Weapons, losing against the experienced Ninja.
As a result of the destruction of the Mega Weapon, the actions of the Skulkin in the alternate timeline were erased, alongside any of their memories of it. Later, as events continued to transpire, the Skulkin largely stayed out of Ninjago's affairs, with only a few select members going out to interact with the living.
After Clouse was banished to the Underworld, several Skulkin converged on his position as he lamented his fate, ironically in the exact same location and situation as Garmadon had been in.
Wu and P.I.X.A.L. try to open a portal to the Never-Realm. But the Traveler's Tea wasn't strong enough. At one point, a portal to the Underworld was opened, revealing the Skulkin, their vehicles, and Lord Garmadon's Dark Fortress.
In LEGO Universe (Non-canon)
The Skulkin also appear in LEGO Universe, where they attack the Monastery of Spinjitzu and send it into space. The Monastery crashes on Crux Prime, where the Skulkin happen to be mining Maelstrom Ore for unknown purposes. Seeking to investigate the skeletons' activities, Master Wu sends the Imagination Ninja, Neido, to monitor the Skulkin and stop their plans.
Culture, Traits, Etc.
Generally dimwitted beings, the Skulkin highlighted obedience, anger, ruthlessness, and, bizarrely, stupidity as their main virtues. Described as mostly being made up of those who longed to conquer Ninjago and warriors unable to come to terms with their death, the Skulkin were rather chaotic, though not without some morals, as they opposed the mass destruction that would be caused by the Great Devourer. The Skulkin seemed to also take a great amount of interest in engineering, having created several vehicles and employing the positions of a Chief Mechanic and inventor.
As a result of their inability to come to terms with their own demise and likewise being barred from the Departed Realm, most Skulkin became highly resentful and jealous of the living, longing for their old lives, and likewise became incredibly wild and uncontrollable in their excitement upon returning to Ninjago for the first time in countless years, with their more serious commanders having to reel them in to keep them on track. Additionally, as a result of their undead status granting them a type of longevity, they had a strange perception of time, conceiving five thousand years to be a little experience.
Despite their grudge against Lord Garmadon, the Skulkin still had some honor, as they willingly swallowed their pride and anger over his betrayal in order to save countless lives by preventing the awakening of the Great Devourer. Likewise, following their alliance with the Ninja, their members became notably laxer and more mischievous instead of outright villainous, with most of their crimes stemming from petty mistakes rather than cruel intent.
Powers and Abilities
Due to their undead status, Skulkin gained a great amount of longevity and a form of indestructibility, due to technically being dead; However, the power of objects such as the Golden Weapons was sufficient enough to ultimately destroy their forms. Nevertheless, due to being undead, the Skulkin had no need to eat, sleep, etc., though some members still desired the luxuries that came as a result of these needs. Likewise, their undead status left several of them mute, although some were able to get past this disability, most notably the higher-ranking members.
Additionally, Skulkin had the ability to split their bones apart and have their parts act independently of each other, allowing them to attack unsuspecting opponents and giving them a key advantage in combat. Likewise, their origins as fallen warriors ensured every Skulkin at least some prowess and experience in combat, although the level of skill would vary. Following their alliance with Garmadon, several members were also taught Spinjitzu, though with varying skills and results. Consequently, they rarely used the power during combat due to their lack of skill.
- Samukai's appearance from the Ninjago.com website is incorrectly colored blue instead of red.
- In some images, Wyplash's armor has gray spikes instead of white ones.
- Chopov's armor spike color changes from time to time in the sets (sometimes gray and sometimes red).
- Skulkin appear many times after the pilots, though only as small cameos after Lord Garmadon breaks his ties with them in "Darkness Shall Rise," they appear only once more in "All of Nothing." It would appear that the Skulkin were mostly written out of the series after that, leaving only Kruncha and Nuckal left.
- The identity of the Skulkin and their role was left ambiguous until Tommy Andreasen commented on the significance of the Underworld in 2016.
- According to the 2011 edition of the Ninjago website, the Underworld is the fate of all living things, implying they make up all of Ninjago's deceased. In the Official Guide, though, the Underworld is said to be where those who long to conquer Ninjago are sent.
- However, in Possession, it's established that the Cursed Realm is where the wicked go, once again leaving their roles in question.
- Finally, in 2016, Tommy Andreasen confirmed the Underworld is only for warriors who were disgraced in battle, explaining why all Skulkin are generally adequate and good fighters.
- In the show, the Skulkin generals acted noticeably more comedic than in their depictions in other supplementary materials, presumably as both comedy and to highlight the roles of Samukai and Garmadon as antagonists.
- Both Krazi and Bonezai's character designs have been used to make generic Skulkin soldiers in Ninjago media, with the other regular Skulkin appearing more sporadically. Krazi's design being used to make generic soldiers in the TV show, while Bonezai's design was used to make generic soldiers in the LEGO Battles: Ninjago game.
- After Garmadon's betrayal, the Skulkin seem to have largely abandoned Garmadon's teachings about Spinjitzu and the Elemental Powers, as by the time that Samukai was revived, they had abandoned their elemental attire.
- Tommy Andreasen confirmed that Clouse took control of the Underworld following his banishment.
- Their appearances are similar to Calaca from Central American Culture.
- With the release of Ninjago Legacy sets, the Skulkin were released in LEGO sets for the first time since Day of the Departed.