Created By: DrakeClawfang on October 2, 2013 Last Edited By: Guilen on October 12, 2013
Nuked

Black Dragons Rule

Among dragons, Black Dragons are the most powerful and usually lead them

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Trope
When Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons and Evil Is Cool meet.

When your work of fiction has several dragons running about, how do you give the viewer a way to quickly tell which is the most dangerous? Color it black. Black dragons reign over their lesser, more diversely colored brethren. They likely command them, or are the most powerful and ferocious, and are more than likely evil.

This can occur for a multitude of reasons. As always, Dark Is Evil, the black color showing the dragon as a force of evil, and historically in Europe dragons were seen as a destructive and malicious force, and in many legends as well as modern culture, dragons are considered the most powerful and dangerous of foes. Thus, villainous dragons will often be shown as black in color and as the controlling force of some lesser group of villains, who may also be dragons.

Subtrope of Color-Coded for Your Convenience and Law of Chromatic Superiority.

Examples

Anime and Manga

  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! the Red-Eyes Black Dragon plays with this trope. It's Jounouchi's trump card and one of his best, but is weaker than the Light-attribute Blue-Eyes White Dragon. However, the Red-Eyes boasts numerous alternate powered-up forms that surpass Blue-Eyes, and in the real card game the Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon is one of the most powerful Dragon cards. Its evil status is similarly zig-zagged, used by the antagonist Dinosaur Ryuzaki before he lost it to Jounouchi, and in the spinoff Yu-Gi-Oh! GX it's the deck archetype of the antagonist Nightshroud.
  • Voltron: The Third Dimension, Voltron was given an Evil Counterpart in Dracotron, formed from five robot dragons. The leader and the one that formed the torso of Dracotron was the black dragon Draco.
  • Acnologia, The Black Dragon of the Apocalypse from Fairy Tail is regarded to be the strongest dragon in the verse, that even Dragon Slayer mages fear it. It is later revealed that Acnologia was originally a human who defeated so many dragons that he eventually became one. As said by the Jade Dragon, no dragons have wings the color black.

Literature

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Drogon, the largest and fiercest of Daenarys's three dragons, is black, while his two siblings are green and gold. Further up the family tree, while it's unknown what colors the dragons of Aegon Targaryen were, the most powerful was Balerion, called "Black Dread".
  • Ancalagon the Black was the largest and most powerful winged dragon bred by Morgoth in The Silmarillion (though wingless Glaurung was older), and strongly implied to be the most powerful dragon ever, as referenced by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. He led other dragons in the Last Stand of Angband, Morgoth's stronghold, and his defeat by Earendil pretty much spelled the end of the War of Wrath.
  • In Temeraire the all-black Chinese Celestials (of whom Temeraire is one) are among the most powerful of all dragon breeds, in both armament and intellect. In a subversion of the villainous part of the trope, only one known Celestial was evil, and she was the one that wasn't black.

Live-Action TV

  • Daijinryuu in Gosei Sentai Dairanger is a Chinese Dragon God that created the universe and first appears to destroy humans to bring balance to the world. Power Rangers used the footage of Daijinryuu to "create" Serpenterra, Lord Zedd's massive personal Zord.

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, the Big Bad of Seasons, Onox, is revealed to be a Dark Dragon.
  • Pokémon, numerous Dragon-type Legendary Pokemon exist, two of which, Zekrom and Rayquaza's alternate coloration, are black, the others have various colors. Aside from them, the two strongest Dragon-types are Garchomp and Hydreigon, the former is dark blue and the latter is blue and black. Charizard receives two Mega Evolutions in X and Y versions, and its Y evolution which grants it the Dragon-typing is black.
    • Pokémon Conquest, the Big Bad Nobunaga uses Zekrom and Black Rayquaza, the latter particularly standing out for the only instance of an alt-colored Pokemon in the game. He also uses the Garchomp line.
  • Final Fantasy, Bahamut is referred to by many titles, including the King of Dragons, or even king of all monsters, and is considered the most powerful of summons. His coloration varies, but is usually dark grey or blue, and sometimes plain black.
  • Alduin the World-Eater from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the only black dragon in the base game. The Dragonborn expansion adds extremely powerful black Serpentine Dragons.
  • This trope is Played With in the second Spyro the Dragon trilogy. Both Spyro and villain are purple dragons, but the villain is significantly darker in colour. Cynder- a cynical Child Soldier who eventually betrays the villain- is dark indigo to Spyro's violet.
  • In World of Warcraft, the black dragonflight is supremely evil and rules over the other evil dragonflights. Averted in Warcraft III, when black dragons have the same stats as their differently-colored counterparts.
  • In NetHack, black dragons are the most dangerous, breathing a disintegration blast that can kill the player instantly.
  • Disgaea, the strongest of the Dragon class is Bahamut, and the strongest of the Great Wyrm class is Kagutsuchi. Bahamut is black and Kagutsuchi is dark grey-blue with a black mane.
  • In Breath of Fire IV, the ultimate dragon form of the God Emperor Fou-Lu is the gigantic, black Tyrant.
  • In Chrono Cross, there's a group of six dragons, each one of a different colour. Although the white dragon is the leader of the dragons, the black dragon is actually the hardest to defeat.

Web Original

Community Feedback Replies: 59
  • October 2, 2013
    KTera
  • October 2, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    Is it always black or just a designated color? Is this necessarily a trope about dragons or is it about any metamorphorical species (the inborn appearance determines/represents the power of a each individual of a particular magical species)?
  • October 2, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    Huh?
  • October 2, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^? Those are serious questions. I mean, the current description is kind of narrow and Tropes Are Not Narrow. So this archetype you have in mind, does it function the same in a story if the example is not black or not dragons, but is still about the appearance of a magical creature displaying that creature's relative power? You mention Dark Is Evil as why this might be specific to black but then the examples don't all work with that so... does it have to be black to still function the same way in the story?
  • October 2, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    The trope is focused on black dragons, but dark-colored dragons and/or dragon-like creatures would be viable too.

    A general trope for color-coding to show a creature's power or societal standing, I'd wager something like that would be impossible to make sense of giving how hard it would be to pin down a consistent depiction for that, save for color-coding relating to elemental powers. And that would be a fair YKTTW itself, if it doesn't exist, but it's not this trope.
  • October 3, 2013
    aurora369
    Red dragons are commonly the second strongest, a la The Dragon (pun intended).
  • October 3, 2013
    Koveras
    Possible Trope Codifier:

    • Ancalagon the Black was the largest and most powerful winged dragon bred by Morgoth in The Silmarillion (though wingless Glaurung was older), and strongly implied to be the most powerful dragon ever, as referenced by Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings. He led other dragons in the Last Stand of Angband, Morgoth's stronghold, and his defeat by Earendil pretty much spelled the end of the War of Wrath.

    Also from A Song of Ice and Fire:

    • While it's uncertain which colors Aegon Targaryen and his sisters' dragons were, the most powerful of the three was Aegon's own Balerion, nicknamed "Black Dread".
  • October 3, 2013
    JonnyB
    In World Of Warcraft, the black dragonflight is supremely evil and rules over the other evil dragonflights.
  • October 3, 2013
    kjnoren
    See no reason for this trope. I can see a trope Black Is Powerful, about that more powerful beings or objects being black, but this is simply two things mashed together with no real relation between them.
  • October 3, 2013
    Argon2
    Suggested entry:

    • This trope is Played With in the second Spyro The Dragon trilogy. Both Spyro and villain are purple dragons, but the villain is significantly darker in colour. Cynder- a cynical Child Soldier who eventually betrays the villain- is dark indigo to Spyro's violet.
  • October 3, 2013
    Chabal2
    Averted in Warcraft III, where black dragons have the exact same stats and abilities as their different-colored counterparts.
  • October 3, 2013
    robinjohnson
    • In Nethack, black dragons are the most dangerous, breathing a disintegration blast that can kill the player instantly.
  • October 3, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    ^^^^ - The problem I think with restricting this to Black Is Powerful is that we already have Dark Is Evil, Purple Is Powerful, Purple Is The New Black and Evil Wears Black, so I think that there's a lot of overlap between those tropes and that hypothetical trope. That is to say I am not opposed to the idea if others see a place for it among those tropes, I'm just of the opinion that those tropes all cover it.

    The key points of the trope I'm suggesting are — in dragon hierarchy, black dragons are the leaders and/or the most powerful. These black dragons are likely to be evil. I am open to alternative suggestions on how to expand these concepts to be more versatile in the trope.
  • October 3, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Does this have a real life/historical/mythological basis?

    BTW

  • October 3, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    I'm unaware, I can check though.
  • October 3, 2013
    Paradisesnake
  • October 3, 2013
    HououinKyouma
    Hatted. Great concept. I would add a sub to Acnologia.

    • Technically, Acnologia was originally a human who defeated so many dragons that he eventually became one. As said by the Jade Dragon, no dragons have wings the color black.

    Also, I suggest thinking of a cooler name, this one seems blunt and not very creative. Acnologia would be a great trope name, "The Black Dragon of the Apocalypse".
  • October 3, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    Disagree with that suggestion for a rename, black dragon of the apocalypse suggests a black dragon heralding the apocalypse itself.
  • October 3, 2013
    henke37
  • October 3, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ Subverted in that Toothless isn't actually the most powerful type of dragon, just the one with the scariest reputation. Many other dragon breeds in the same Verse are stronger, and the strongest of all is one the Vikings don't even know is out there.
  • October 3, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    This has quickly become a list of the colors of the most powerful dragons in each work and that is not a trope. That's why I think the actual trope here is that sometimes authors make a magical species have a system like the Law Of Chromatic Superiority except using innate, physical traits where the way an individual looks bodily reflects their power. With dragons, its not uncommon to have a certain scale color indicate the greatest power. With werewolves, you sometimes find eye color reflects the individual's power. In Discworld, there are trolls who are made of "metamorphorical rock" and what type of rock they are born as reflects their intelligence, personality traits and their power in society. Mr. Shine in particular is an example because the fact that he is made of diamond means he is automatically the king of the trolls.
  • October 3, 2013
    TonyG
    ^^^The Night Fury, which is Toothless' species, is feared because its black skin makes it almost impossible to detect at night. It also means that since it's never been captured, little is known about it, so fear of the unknown becomes a factor.
  • October 3, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    "This has quickly become a list of the colors of the most powerful dragons in each work and that is not a trope." - no it hasn't. It is a list of works feature dragons that depict the black or dark-colored dragons as the leaders and/or the most powerful of them.

    For the rest of your post, I have no idea what you're trying to suggest. A trope that lists every work of fiction where color is an indicator of power among species? Because as you say, that's covered by Law Of Chromatic Superiority. Or do you want a list of every work of fiction's way of using color to represent power level as your handful of ideas, because in that case this trope would be horribly bloated and demand splitting for it.
  • October 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Averted in Dungeons And Dragons, black dragons are the second weakest species of dragon (after whites). Red dragons are the strongest chromatic species while golds are the strongest metallic.
  • October 3, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    Not sure aversions need to be listed for this one
  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^ That is inverted instead of averted.
  • October 4, 2013
    hbi2k
    I'm struggling to think of an entry in the Final Fantasy series where Bahamut was black. Usually he's a fairly neutral shade of gray.
  • October 4, 2013
    dalek955
    • In Temeraire the all-black Chinese Celestials (of whom Temeraire is one) are among the most powerful of all dragon breeds, in both armament and intellect. In a subversion, only one known Celestial was evil, and she was the one that wasn't black.
  • October 4, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    ^^ FF 3, FF 4 DS, FF 5, FF 6, FF 7, Crisis Core. Given that in the sprite-based games black is used as the border of a sprite, you could chalk him being grey up to technical limitations.
  • October 4, 2013
    hbi2k
    This is black now?
  • October 4, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    No, but these are.
  • October 5, 2013
    Arutema
  • October 8, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    We have plenty of examples and two hats, unless someone brings forth good objections to hold off, I'm gonna launch this tomorrow.
  • October 8, 2013
    acrobox
    Two hats is enough of an objection to hold off.

    At least get four or preferably five before you jump the gun
  • October 8, 2013
    RedBuster
  • October 8, 2013
    EdnaWalker
    @Drake Claw Fang: I made up a basic AnimalColorStereotypes YKTTW. It is supposed to catalog the animal stereotypes based on fur, feather, scale, or skin color.
  • October 8, 2013
    pawsplay
    Completely averted in Dungeons & Dragons, (Western Animation) Flight of Dragons, Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon, (Video Games) Final Fantasy I, Dragon Warrior
  • October 9, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    To repeat, not sure aversions need to be listed.

    Imperialdramon is also blue, gold, white and red. I think he's a bitch of a stretch. The Charizard example, please clean up the grammar because I have no idea what is being said.

    ^^ Um, okay?
  • October 9, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    D&D uses Red dragons as the most powerful force of evil. Black are somewhere in the middle. But Gold are the most powerful. I'm not sure black dragons is a trope.
  • October 9, 2013
    RedBuster
    In The Movie exclusive character from Kamen Rider Ryuki: Kamen Rider Ryuga an Evil Twin from the main character, he have a contract monster black chinese dragon Dragblacker, in the Movie beat two powerful riders, Kamen Rider Femme and the Combined Monster Genocider from the Kamen Rider Ouja.

    Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho is one powerful character from Team Urameshi, and his power is based on Black Dragon.
  • October 9, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    ^^ "I'm not sure black dragons is a trope." - fortunately this is obviously not about just dragons that happen to be colored black so your concerns are unfounded :)

    ^ Could you provide more detail on those two entries? I can't tell if they qualify or not.
  • October 9, 2013
    RedBuster
    ^The main character from Kamen Rider Ryuki is based on Dragon, and his have a contract monster, Ryuga have one too and his contract monster is and black chinese dragon: Dragblacker. In the Movie his destroy an Movie Exclusive Character and Kamen Rider Ouja, the psychopath from the series.

    Hiei have black dragons as a main power and two attacks based on this: Jao-Ensatsu Kokuryu-ha (Dragon of the Darkness Flame) and Jao-Ensatsu-Ken (Black Dragon Wave).
  • October 9, 2013
    pawsplay
    I'm not listing aversions because I want them listed. I'm listing them because I think the description of the trope is inadequate. It is written as thought it were ubiquitous, when in fact it is not present in many major media. So I think it's worth talking when and why the trope is used, and something in the description should mention that it averted more often than not in Western fantasy.
  • October 10, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    fortunately this is obviously not about just dragons that happen to be colored black so your concerns are unfounded :)
    Um... not obvious. What is it, then?
  • October 10, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    ^^^ The Kamen Rider example seems inapt, I frankly have trouble understanding what you're trying to explain, but a look at the series wiki shows the main character to be wearing red and using a red dragon, not blakc. Hiei doesn't seem so, he isn't the leader of the group nor is he evil or the most powerful, his attacks just have a theme of black dragons in them.

    ^^ "I'm listing them because I think the description of the trope is inadequate. It is written as thought it were ubiquitous, when in fact it is not present in many major media." - well first, just come out and say so then plz, I dislike being around the bush. I understand your concern and agree this is not universally apt, but many tropes just like this are not ubiquitous either. Purple Is Powerful, Evil Wears Black, Gold And White Are Divine, and many other such "color coded" tropes often do not apply. Not all villains wear black, not all divine beings are white and yellow, etc - not all high-powered dragons are black.

    ^ Try reading the description and some examples, which clearly illustrate the trope is about a three-way connection that black dragons tend to be more powerful than more misc. colored dragons, are authority figures of some sort, and are evil.
  • October 10, 2013
    morenohijazo
    • In Chrono Cross, there's a group of six dragons, each one of a different colour. Although the white dragon is the leader of the dragons, the black dragon is actually the hardest to defeat.
  • October 10, 2013
    pawsplay
    It just feels like fishing for a trope here. Fine, you don't like beating around the bush. I don't see a shred of evidence that it's tropeworthy. To me it just look like a list of archdragons that happen to be black. I don't see any indication that this is culturally relevant, genre-coded, or particularly symbolic.
  • October 10, 2013
    RedBuster
    ^^ Kamen Rider Ryuga is not Kamen Rider Ryuki, he is the shadow from Ryuki, and most strongest character from this series in the movie.
  • October 10, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    ^^ If you'd like more context then I'll expand the description. Constructive criticism is better than just criticism :) I've always been open to adjusting the trope to be better.
  • October 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Like I said: Do you think this has some historical/real life/mythological basis?
  • October 11, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    The examples don't always include "most powerful" or "leader". Heck, for Final Fantasy, the only qualification it has is colour palette. The name Bahamut comes from the mythical platinum dragon. A colour very difficult to represent on computers. The various shades of blue/black/grey are attempts to imitate platinum.
  • October 11, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    ^^I'm unsure, I don't know real life mythology much.

    ^Bahamut in Final Fantasy is referred to as the King of Summons or even of all monsters, and is usually the most powerful summon
  • October 11, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    But not Dragons. Your definition requires other dragons. The example for Final Fantasy doesn't have them. It only shows that Bahamut is made with dark colours, but itiisn't black. The attack powers for Bahamut are non-elemental, light-themed attacks. It's the most powerful, but also clearly on the hero's side.

    So..
    • there's only one dragon
    • the colours come from platinum, and has themes of light
    • it is a powerful good creature

    The only two things it has in common with your description is black and dragon. So that's all I see.
  • October 11, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    again, constructive criticism is more valuable to me than just criticism. Explain to me politely how you feel the example is invalid and I will clarify it as I will now.

    The only point I would offer here not in the example is that while Bahamut is definitely taken from D&D, that was merely a jumping-on point, in Final Fantasy Bahamut is now obviously an entity unto himself and not just a shout-out. Ergo, his coloration may have begun as a nod to D&D!Bahamut's platinum, and in FF Bahamut is just black at times. His Light-based attacks are just as often based on fire or pure energy. And while Bahamut is a good creature, that he is still considered the most powerful of dragons and their king fulfills two points of the trope.
  • October 11, 2013
    TheTitan99
    • In the Heroes Of Might And Magic franchise, Black Dragons are frequently the most powerful units recruitable in the playable factions, though other neutral units may be more powerful.
  • October 11, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    I added an up for grabs tag, I'm tired of the debate now, people are just arguing instead of offering suggestions to try and make this workable. Anyone who wants to work on it is free to do so.
  • October 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Maybe you're just starting to see an entirely new pattern, sir Drake. Which isn't wrong for this wiki, but we just tend to prioritize something with a basis. :P
  • October 12, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Exactly what Dan said; we're challenging you to improve the trope. If an example doesn't match every aspect of the trope, then either you have excess information in the description, or you have a wrong example.

    For instance, before I looked up Bahamut for FF, I didn't know there were two. Have you considered that the other Bahamut fits your trope better?
  • October 12, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ I simply think Bahamut is subverted, then.

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