An overbearingly arrogant Altmer, the other mages of the college both dislike and are highly suspicious of him; he, in turn, is highly suspicious of others (including the Dragonborn and Quaranir) and openly voices his belief that the mages of the college are inferior to those of the Thalmor. He also blames the Dragonborn's presence on the incompetence of the Arch-Mage. In conversation, Ancano will reveal that he is annoyed that he has not been called upon by the Arch-Mage for "council". If asked, he also voices that the Thalmor are present in Skyrim to help with peace efforts, and this "time of transition" for the Nords. If asked about his discussion with Mirabelle, Ancano reveals that he is angered by his "level of access" in the college.
Ancano knows the following spells:
During the College of Winterhold quest line, Ancano attempts to harness the energy of the Eye of Magnus, erecting a barrier between himself and other mages of the College. Savos Aren is killed in the process.
If the Dragonborn has not been given the Staff of Magnus quest and completed a few side quests, Ancano's barrier will become small. Ancano will also not harness the energy of the Eye of Magnus but walking around the Eye of Magnus and going through his barrier. The Dragonborn can interact with Ancano, but not when he is within the barrier.
Mirabelle has explained that members of the Synod recently visited the College, mentioning the Staff of Magnus. They were last known to be heading towards Mzulft; they may know more about where to find the staff.
The Dragonborn needs to retrieve the Staff of Magnus from within Labyrinthian and return with it to the College of Winterhold.
The Staff of Magnus has been recovered, and so it's time to assault the College of Winterhold and strike down Ancano.
- "I have many important things on my mind. Your concerns are not among them."
- "Are you quite sure we need to be speaking?"
- "I'm disappointed to say I've learned little during my time here."
- "I had hoped your scholars would be on a level comparable with my own colleagues. They are not."
- "Another new Apprentice, I see. Are you here because you believe you can change the world? Or are you only in it for yourself? I assure you I will be watching you - all of you - very closely."
Mirabelle: "I believe I made myself rather clear."
Ancano: "Yes, of course. I'm simply trying to understand the reasoning behind the decision."
Mirabelle: "You may be used to the Empire bowing to your every whim, but you will find the Thalmor find no such treatment here. You are here at the pleasure of the Arch-Mage. I hope you appreciate the opportunity."
Ancano: "Yes, of course. The Arch-Mage has my thanks."
Mirabelle: "Very good. Then we're done here."
Mirabelle: "I've had yet another complaint. Please stop barging in on experiments in progress."
Ancano: "My dear, I am merely observing the proceedings."
Mirabelle: "Well then 'observe' from a greater distance. You're making people uncomfortable."
Ancano: "Well, what is the meaning of this?"
Quaranir: "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't understand."
Ancano: "Don't play coy. You asked to see a specific member of the College. Here he/she is. Now what is it that you want?"
Quaranir: "There's been a misunderstanding. Clearly I should not be here. I shall simply take my leave."
Ancano: "What? What trickery is this? You're not going anywhere until I find out what you're up to."
Quaranir: "I'm not 'up to' anything. I apologize if I have offended you in any way."
Ancano: "We shall see about this..."
Ancano: "I'm afraid I must intrude. I need to speak to your associate immediately."
Tolfdir: "This is most inappropriate! We are involved in serious research here!"
Ancano: "Yes, I've no doubt of its gravity. This, however, is a matter that cannot wait."
Tolfdir: "Well, I'm quite sure I've never been interrupted like this before...the audacity!...[to player] I suppose we'll have to continue this at some later time, when we can avoid interruptions."
- Ancano is flagged as an essential character until the "Eye of Magnus".
- Ancano's corpse can be controlled by using Dead Thrall or The Ritual Stone.
- If Ancano is revived with Dead Thrall or the Ritual Stone power, he is one of the few characters that still speaks as if he were still alive. He will say things like "Who's there?" upon entering combat, and "That will teach you to cross me." when exiting it.
- Although she dislikes him, Nirya says she finds him "rather handsome".
- He and Elenwen are known to be the only Thalmor that wear/possess the non-hooded Thalmor Robes.
- Despite the fact that Ancano is an essential character, he can be attacked and "killed" without any bounty or hostility from any surrounding people.
- Ancano may not become hostile when attacked by the Dragonborn, even when they are in their werewolf form.
- If Lydia is dismissed while Ancano is near, she may attack him and most likely be killed. This may also apply to other followers.
- When Ancano is using sparks on the Eye of Magnus, it will deal no damage when in front of it, and Wards will have no effect on it.
- Ancano is voiced by Alexander Brandon, who voices only one other character in Skyrim, Amaund Motierre.
- If Ancano is spoken to after conversing with Quaranir during "Good Intentions," he will confess his fears that the Psijic Order "wants the Eye for themselves", and demands that the Dragonborn informs him if the Psijic Order attempts to contact them again, though it is not possible to do so.
- If asked where the Augur of Dunlain is located during "Good Intentions", Ancano will look worried and stutter that he has no idea what the Dragonborn is talking about, before telling them to go about whatever tasks that they normally do. It is revealed by the Augur that Ancano had been there before the Dragonborn, but asked questions of a different angle.
- When conversing with Ancano, there is an option to ask "Who are the Thalmor?" However, if one has already spoken to other agents—random Thalmor Justiciars, Ondolemar in the Understone Keep, etc.—about the Thalmor, Ancano's dialogue option changes to "I'd like to know more about the Thalmor."
- If one leaves the College before speaking to Urag gro-Shub during the beginning of Hitting the Books (searching for the staff for Onmund's Request, etc.), Faralda will approach the Dragonborn when they return and state that Ancano was looking for them, and she will mention that there are rumors circulating the College that Ancano is not an advisor but a spy for the Thalmor. He can be asked about this after meeting with Quaranir, where he will get extremely angry and reiterate that he is "only an advisor", and firmly stating that the Dragonborn should not continue to spread this rumor about him around the College.