I'm designing a world that takes place in life after death. This place is like a parallel to our world, a worse version of it. Everybody here is a skeleton, their consciousness are loaded in their heads and if their heads (eyes and mouths) crumble, they will fall into an infinite space. So I'm wondering is it possible to live as a skeleton normally? If it isn't, what would be the closest scientific explanation?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how you expect skeletons to live given that they are literally just support for life but really have no connect to living. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 18, 2020 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ You mention eyes but if they are a skeleton do they have any organs at all? Do they even have a brain and if not where is their consciousness being loaded? $\endgroup$
    – Geneworm
    Jan 18, 2020 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ @VLAZ: Bones are living organs while their possessor is alive. The skeleton only dies when the rest of organism dies. Bones are not inert non-living structures. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 18, 2020 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ If life after death is possible, why do you need a scientific explanation for why skeletons can live without organs? Some context about why there's life after death may help provide a framework that gets more specific about the magic - or science - of your world. $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Jan 19, 2020 at 0:09
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    $\begingroup$ You might want to consider giving some more details about your world, such as magic or superscience. Since you want for there to be living skeletons, you must be thinking of some ways they can exist. It would help others in answering your question if they know more about the world. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 19, 2020 at 3:33

4 Answers 4


So I'm wondering is it possible to live as a skeleton normally?

No, for a lot of reasons:

  1. bones alone won't hold together and the skeleton would crumble to pieces in the blink of an eye. Which based on your description is leads to the infinity.
  2. bones alone can't perform any metabolism: they can't exchange gases, they can't allow the flow of blood, they can't digest food...
  3. bones alone can't move
  4. bones alone can't process any information (kudos @Philipp)

You can only explain it with magic.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, bones don't have muscles, so they can not move on their own. And skulls don't have neurons, so they can't think. Yeah, you do gonna need a lot of magic for this to happen. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Jan 18, 2020 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ So there also aren't any way, like an action for it to happen? or like a machine to make it work? Then what could be the closest scientific explanation? $\endgroup$ Jan 18, 2020 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ @notworkingonit the closest scientific explanation is to build some artificial body that somehow houses the consciousness of the deceased. Let's say we have some tech to scan a brain and re-create it, so it continues thinking. You put that replica (be it flesh or metal) in some automaton that can move around (be it flesh or metal, again). Now take some duct tape and attach the bones of the deceased to the contraption. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 18, 2020 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ Bones do have some metabolism, they regulate blood pH by releasing or fixing calcium ions. They are also living tissues and regenerate if damaged. Finally AFAIK white blood cells are made in the marrows. Otherwise the answer is pretty solid. $\endgroup$ Jan 18, 2020 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ The biggest one is “no source of energy”. No digestive system, no food, no energy, no motion, just death. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Bron
    Jan 19, 2020 at 2:32

If it isn't, what would be the closest scientific explanation?

The skeletons are artificial, and actually are complex robots which have a human conscious (somehow) transferred into it / are piloting it remotely. That's the closest plausible explanation you can really get.

  • $\begingroup$ Terminator T-100 skeleton smoking cigarette and saying "Man, this living, this living is not living". $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2020 at 10:20

Yeah, skeletons, unless you mean something else by that word, are not going to be alive on their own.

Some alternatives (aside from magic and synthetic life):

  • They are some humanoid animal with no or little fat tissue, pale skin, no hair, and very fragile. They are no skeletons by any account (they have all their vital organs like any other animal), yet, they could give that impression to an ignorant observer. Fully black eyes and some teeth sticking out could help sell the impression. Without hair or fat, these animals are going to suffer a lot from temperature changes. Perhaps they have an exoskeleton?
  • The world is a simulation, and everybody appears as a skeleton because that is how the world is programmed, motivations unknown. There could be no way for these people to get out of the simulation, in fact they may not know they are in a simulation (which, I guess, would mean physiological understanding is a nonstarter in that universe). If you are going to use this argument, then it got to have some plot relevance, or it will come out as laziness (because you could just call it magic instead inventing a simulation plot that goes nowhere).

No it wouldn't be possible live normally as a skeleton. Not in the quotidian reality we inhabit.

The closest scientific explanation is this is the afterlife and supernatural forces are at work here. A fact confirmed by observation: a posthumous life as skeletons and all the falling through infinite space.

Much science is based on observation and the formulation of tentative hypotheses to explain those observations. A lack of academic and professional research institutions in the afterlife will not enable much in the way of further advancement of the scientific explanation proposed above.

I am assuming enough of the conscious skeletons will remember they have died.


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