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I have just finished the main quest line, and now every few hours I will fast-travel somewhere and a dragon corpse will drop out of the sky in front of me. It's always dead, the corpse is always empty, and it never decays to a skeleton or performs the Absorb Soul animation. So far I have been rained on by an ancient dragon in Whiterun, two elder ones in Riften and Sky Haven Temple, and other dragons at random times.

What has not happened yet, since I finished the main quest, is a random encounter with a living dragon. I don't know if this is related, but it seems odd. I don't remember this happening on my previous play-throughs. I have Dawnguard and Hearthfire installed, but otherwise the mods I am running are the same as I have been running for months.

Has anyone else encountered this particular problem and/or know how to stop it?

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@OrigamiRobot I don't think so. This question seems to be talking about a different thing. In this question, OP seems to have encountered a bug with dragon random encounters when fast traveling. – galacticninja Jan 4 '13 at 4:52
I'm curious if nearby NPCs also go near the dragon corpse and show amazement about you being a Dragonborn (happens when you actually kill a dragon while nearby NPCs). Do they also do that with the dragon corpse you encounter? – galacticninja Jan 4 '13 at 4:57
@galacticninja Fast traveling, exiting a cave, same thing. The question is about dragon corpses suddenly appearing when loading a zone. – user9983 Jan 4 '13 at 12:29
@OrigamiRobot I see. I first thought that other question had a different scope and was asking about NPCs fighting/killing dragons while the player character is on a different zone, what happens to a dragon's soul if it is killed by an NPC, and if the player can still collect the soul of a dragon killed by an NPC, rather than a bug with dragon random encounters on fast traveling. – galacticninja Jan 4 '13 at 13:56
I wasn't sure this was a duplicate because: 1. i'm not seeing skeletons, I'm seeing non-decomposing corpses, 2. I'm seeing them in places I've only recently discovered so I know I've never killed one there, and 3. I have the USP installed and it's still broken... – KutuluMike Jan 4 '13 at 15:41
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Base Skyrim game has a bug in that the random encounter dragons respawn but they do not reset. This means that the corpse gets moved to the random encounter position without being resurrected, and you either get a live dragon with no loot / dragon soul, or a dead dragon corpse instead of an actual, you know, dragon.

While there's no way to handle this in the base game, this is one of the many things fixed by the Unofficial Skyrim Patch, which you can download and apply through Steam.

Fixed some encounter dragons not burning up nor giving the player a soul when slain (respawned dragons were not being properly reset)

If you're playing on the xbox or ps3, however, you're out of luck.

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"this is one of the many things fixed by the Unofficial Skyrim Patch" Source? Could you add in the appropriate fix entry from the complete changelog of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch? – galacticninja Jan 4 '13 at 4:39
@galacticninja Second bullet under "NPC/Creature Fixes", or just search the page for "reset". Did a quick edit to add the note's text to this answer. – SevenSidedDie Jan 4 '13 at 7:41
I have the USP installed, it isn't fixing the problem. – KutuluMike Jan 4 '13 at 15:40
no idea what did it, possibly an updated USP but this just isn't happening to me anymore. – KutuluMike Sep 12 '13 at 1:14

This has happened to me a few times as well.

Try targeting (i.e., opening the console and then clicking on) the dragon and entering MarkForDelete or disable. Either should get rid of the targeted dragon. Do it every time a dragon corpse appears.

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