Skyrim adds an awesome feature, that lets you know if you have cleared a dungeon or not. This saves a lot of time and effort, because you do not have to revisit every dungeon you have been through like in Oblivion. Now I was wondering, how does the game determine if you have completed/finished/cleared the dungeon. I figured there are some options, including:

  1. You have killed every enemy
  2. You have obtained every 'important' treasure
  3. A combination of the above

There might be even more options that I have not thought of. Can anyone shed some light on how the system works out if you have finished a dungeon?

  • Fully mapped, perhaps? Once I get home, I'll be clearing the golden dragon claw dungeon, so I should have an answer by tonight. – Arkive Nov 11 '11 at 16:57
  • Just defeated the boss in the golden dragon claw dungeon, and got the 'important' treasure. Haven't looted the final chest by the boss, and I haven't fully explored the local dungeon map. Dungeon is marked "Cleared". Still uncertain if you need one, or both of: defeating the boss/getting the 'important' treasure – Arkive Nov 12 '11 at 0:29
  • So that doesn't make the system real accurate.. Thanks for the research. – Wimpey Nov 12 '11 at 9:07

Most dungeons are cleared when you have killed all important inhabitants, and as a result of doing that, you have seen the whole dungeon. The game doesn't force you to loot stuff (e.g., Werewolf form can't loot) so it comes down to just killing; you don't have to do your quest.

A victorious sound will play once you clear the dungeon, and the ambient sound will stop.

If you don't kill all important inhabitants, inhabitants might respawn and the dungeon will not be seen as cleared. Another occasion where inhabitants respawn in a dungeon is when you start a new quest that involves that dungeon; however, it won't change the cleared state of a dungeon.

There are reports that some dungeons don't get cleared, or are cleared a different way. Some report that whatever they try to do, the dungeon doesn't get cleared; this might be because they still have a quest to do in the dungeon. Other report that a dungeon gets cleared after looting a chest or learning a new dragon shout word. Please note that not every dungeon has a word wall.


The other answer is actually incorrect.

With the Dungeon bounty given from WhiteRun (Valheim Towers), I went to the mountain top adjacent to the Keep, and from there was able to kill the chief bandit in that keep (I have mad archery skills). Once I did that, the dungeon showed as 'cleared' on my screen, and I was able to collect the bounty.

However, I didn't kill all the inhabitants. I killed 3 of them (there are six inhabitants to that keep, plus the outdoors guard on the road if you approach the keep from the road like you're supposed to).

The dungeon is considered cleared once you kill the 'boss' for that dungeon, whether or not you kill all the inhabitants.

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    If this is true, the other answer may not be wholly incorrect. It may be that some dungeons 'clear' under different conditions. – AndyPerfect Nov 15 '11 at 17:04
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    Hmm! More research required. – SevenSidedDie Nov 15 '11 at 17:10
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    @AndyPerfect I took the 'bolded part' of the answer to be his answer (that it's cleared when you kill all of its inhabitants). That's false, since killing the Chief Bandit marked it cleared for me. The difference is, most keeps/caves/dungeons you go into, you can't make your way through them without killing most/all of the inhabitants, so it seems like that's what causes it to clear. But it just so happens that for that particular bounty, you can kill the chieftain without engaging anyone else. – George Stocker Nov 15 '11 at 17:24
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    @George To test this, it might be interesting to find of of these dungeons that takes you past all monsters, storm through it quickly without killing any enemies to the boss, kill it, and see whether or not the dungeon has been declared 'cleared'. – AndyPerfect Nov 15 '11 at 17:33
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    Invis potions and sneek! Be like the fart, wafting through peoples legs, ready to strike! – David Yell Nov 16 '11 at 15:23

I believe a dungeon being cleared may also have something to do with it's quest status. If you have an important piece of loot, and there's a retrieval quest related to that dungeon or a 'go kill XXX' quest - even one that you've not yet activated, then the dungeon will not mark itself as cleared.

For example, I've had a dungeon where I completed it and grabbed some fancy loot. Later, I get a quest that is 'go retrieve XXX'. You then say, "Oh, this old thing?" You immediately finish the quest, and then the dungeon gets marked as cleared.

So I think 'cleared' means that there's nothing else important there - where important may be something in the future that hasn't happened yet.


I'm pretty sure that at least one thing is neccesary... killing all IMPORTANT targets... usually there would be one boss but some other times there are many.

I'm pretty sure as well that in some cases mapping IS neccesary whilst in others it isn't... I have had more than one examples of both of the above... In some cases I just killed the boss(es) and then gained the cleared exclamation and in others I killed the bosses and only after completing more mapping got the cleared map.

I am also certain taht when one dungeon has future missions that involve killing new enemies it will not say "cleared"


It definitely varies from dungeon to dungeon. For example, I got "cleared" on Labyrinthian before entering Shalidor's Maze or progressing the mage guild quest-line far enough to enter the main section of the dungeon.

I've noticed giants' camps clearing after checking a particular chest for loot, and I have a short list of about 20 locations that I felt should be marked clear but have not been.

I think some of those are not marked "cleared" because of the way I chose to finish the associated quest (e.g., I choose to clear the Eldergleam sanctuary in such a way that the possible monster spawn was avoided, so I probably was unable to meet the linked-to-cleared "boss").

In other cases I have no idea why a location is not marked cleared. For example, Witchmist Grove is a tiny location with a quest associated with it, and I completed the quest, looted everything I could find and all the stuff located on the UESP wiki and killed every creature that spawned remotely nearby, and it still didn't clear, leading me to believe that there are a few locations that don't have a "cleared" trigger.


There was a dungeon (shimmermist cave i think) where to access the final fight, all you needed to do was use Whirlwind Sprint thru a nearby waterfall that's at the very start of the dungeon. So for this particular case, shimmermist cave was counted as 'cleared' when the final boss was dead and i had killed less than 1% of the dungeon's regular enemies.


Not all dungeons can be marked as cleared. Some dungeons will have the 'item,' some may have the boss in them, and some may have both or neither.

The only way to be entirely sure is to run through it twice, make sure everything is dead and/or looted, and possibly, wait for missions that pop up with the designated location.

I had on last night that I killed everything and looted everything, but wasn't marked as cleared until I finished the mission that went with it.

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    Perhaps the answer, is that there is none. We all know Bethesda has a reputation for releasing less-than-perfect games (as far as mechanics go, anyways). So, would it be safe to assume that this great idea was poorly excecuted? Perhaps the developers never got the system down well, but never saw it as a big enough issue, as to create a patch. This being the case, there would be no consitent rule. – John Jul 7 '12 at 3:51

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