One of the hallmarks of The Elder Scrolls series is that the player character is referred to with a title. In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the hero was the Nerevarine. In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the hero was the Hero of Kvatch or the Champion of Cyrodiil. In the latest mainline instalment, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the player character is known as the Last Dragonborn, the prophesied hero destined to defeat Alduin at the end of the world. Yet is the player character of Skyrim truly the last Dragonborn?
Dragonborn (or Dohvakiin) in the universe of The Elder Scrolls are individuals born with the soul of a dragon, granted to them by the Divine Akatosh. The entire Septim line, which dominated the Cyrodiilic Empire throughout the entirety of the Third Era consisted solely of Dragonborn. So reliant was the Septim Empire on the installation of a Dragonborn on the Ruby Throne that when this tradition was threatened, it was enough to begin the Oblivion Crisis. The first Dragonborn, Miraak, lived thousands of years before Tiber Septim, the first of the Septim dynasty, and the Last Dragonborn – the player character of Skyrim – lives two hundred years after the death of Martin Septim, the last. So while the Septim Empire was dominated by Dragonborn, it does not have monopoly on those blessed with the blood of dragons. Why, then, are we led to believe that the player character of Skyrim is the last Dragonborn?
The most definitive reference we have to the player character of Skyrim being the last Dragonborn is the prophecy which details their destiny in defeating Alduin. During the main quest, Esbern tells the PC that the Last Dragonborn is the one who will face off against Alduin at the end of the world. Yet when the PC faces off against Alduin during the quest Dragonslayer, the world does not end. If the PC returns to Arngeir after defeating Alduin, Arngeir will tell them that it is likely that Alduin isn’t dead, and will return at some point in the future to end the world. The PC, then, did not fulfil the prophecy. In this case, can the character who is known as the Last Dragonborn as described the prophecy, in fact be the Last Dragonborn, when they did not fulfil the prophecy which describes them as being so? In other words, is it possible that there will be another Dragonborn on Tamriel after the Dragonborn who is the PC in Skyrim?
As I have already mentioned, Dragonborn are made when they are blessed by Akatosh, yet the process is a mystery worthy of the Divines themselves. Prior Emeline Madrine, in Book of the Dragonborn, says: “being Dragonborn is not a simple matter of heredity – being the blessing of Akatosh Himself, it is beyond our understanding exactly how and why it is bestowed”. If the creation of a Dragonborn is such a mystery, then, it is entirely conceivable that there could be another Dragonborn after the protagonist of Skyrim.
The issue that arises if we accept the possibility of Akatosh blessing another after the protagonist of Skyrim is that of the prophecy. The prophecy is reproduced in Book of the Dragonborn, and reads thusly:
When misrule takes its place at the eight corners of the world When the Brass Tower walks and Time is reshaped When the thrice-blessed fail and the Red Tower trembles When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his throne, and the White Tower falls When the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn.
The events alluded to in the prophecy are the same as those which appear on Alduin’s Wall, which are the events of the five main titles in The Elder Scrolls series to date. Thus, it would seem that the ‘Wheel turning upon the Last Dragonborn’ has to happen in the third century of the Fourth Era, as this is the point in time when “the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding”, in the midst of Skyrim’s Civil War. I would argue that it is entirely possible that the prophecy is vague enough that there could indeed be another Dragonborn in the history of Tamriel. It is further possible that ‘Last Dragonborn’ is merely a title, and other Dragonborn will exist but they will never themselves face a reincarnated Alduin. Yet another possibility is that the protagonist of Skyrim will be the last Dragonborn to die, though there will be other Dragonborn before this happens, particularly if the PC ends up spending countless years in Apocrypha after the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn.
In either case, the Last Dragonborn is not the last Dragonborn who will appear. This, I believe, is the far more likely scenario than that Akatosh will never bestow the Dragonblood to anyone else ever again.