This is one of the older tropes. Everyone knows how the typical Dragon myth goes. A dragon either steals a princess or a princess is given to that dragon as an offering. Where the story goes from there is not always so clear, but the beginning is where the trope lies.
For some reason, dragons just have an attraction to princesses. Maybe royal blood tastes better. Maybe they want someone to talk to. Maybe it's just a status symbol. Whatever the reason, they tend to show up in each other's company.
Related to Save the Princess
and Damsel in Distress
- In The Brothers Grimm's "The Two Brothers", one brother wins a princess by rescuing her from the dragon. (She is the last of a long line of maidens sacrificed, a common element in this story.)
- In The Three Dogs, the hero also fights a dragon and saves a princess.
- In The Three Princes and their Beasts, the oldest prince kills the dragon and saves a princess.
- In The Nine Pea-Hens and the Golden Apples, the prince rescues a princess from a dragon. When it chases after them, their horses talk, and the dragon's horse is persuaded to throw and kill it.
- In The Merchant, a merchant's son saves the princess.
- In The Little Bull-Calf, a boy runs away from his wicked stepfather with the calf, because his father gave it to him, and with its advice succeeds in killing the dragon.
- Dragonslayer (1981). A kingdom chooses which virginal young woman will be sacrificed to a dragon by drawing lots. When Princess Elspeth learns that the King has made sure her name is never included in the lottery, she rigs it so that her name is chosen, and voluntarily goes to the dragon. Unfortunately she pays the price for her honesty and is eaten by the dragon's babies.
- Shrek has the major quest involve Princess Fiona locked up in a tower that is guarded by a dragon. Donkey falls in love with said dragon and has children. Similarly, Shrek and Fiona become a couple.
- Played with in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. While dragons do traditionally kidnap princesses, Cimorene fled to the dragons in Dealing with Dragons to escape traditional life as a princess and forge her own path. Most of the princesses are in fact captives and rather silly.
- As The 500 Kingdoms books are based on Traditional myths and fairy tales, most evil dragons find themselves forced to capture a maiden, preferably a princess, at some point. Forms a major plotpoint in the second book, One Good Knight, which is 1/3 the myth of Andromeda, 1/3 George and the Dragon, although the dragon didn't actually have much choice in the matter, being under a compulsion at the time. and 1/3 trying very hard NOT to have the endings of either of those legends happen.
- The Dragon Hoard has a Story Within a Story about a princess who is kidnapped by a dragon. She inadvertantly wins her freedom when she tries to mollify it by spinning straw into gold; it turns out the dragon is allergic to gold, and it lets her go before she can do any more damage.
- Inverted in The Paper Bag Princess. A dragon carries off Prince Ronald, and Princess Elizabeth sets out to rescue him.
- In Guards, Guards, it's mentioned that noble dragons prefer to eat females of noble blood because they taste better.
- In John Moore's Slay and Rescue, dragons capturing princesses is such a common problem that Prince Charming has rescues down to a fine art, even though he's still too young (and too polite) to ask any of the princesses for the reward he'd really like.
Myths and Legends
- There's a Brodignabian Bards song that asks the question of why dragons kidnap maidens..it turns out yes, they do taste better.
- In Greek myth Andromeda was nearly fed to the sea dragon Cetus to punish her mother. Luckily Perseus happened to be passing by.
- In the popular medieval legend of Saint George and the Dragon, there is a town the inhabitants of which appease a dragon living in a nearby lake by giving it their sons and daughters as food. Saint George, a soldier/knight, comes by just in time to rescue the king's daughter by defeating the dragon.
- In The Dark Eye, the more powerful dragons occasionally do this. However, they're typically after entertainment, not food, and prefer nobility because they tend to be better conversationalists.
- There's at least one Dungeons & Dragons supplement that mentions a dragon who, using her natural shapeshifting, would disguise herself as a maiden. Either as a trap or to be "rescued" by a knight.
- The pinball machine Medieval Madness has a ramp devoted to saving various damsels from dragons. The quality of the princesses vary. For example, one is a Jewish princess, and another is a pastiche of Eliza Doolittle.
- Played with in the video game Choice of the Dragon. One of the choices offered to the player character is whether to be the kind of dragon that kidnaps princesses. Options include "Yes, because it's Traditional" and "In the interests of gender equality, half the time I kidnap princes instead".
- Super Mario Bros. deserves a honorable mention, even though Bowser isn't really a dragon.
- The hero's first mission in Dragon Quest I is to rescue the princess from the evil dragon that captured her. This is only half the game, though, as you still need to defeat the Dragonlord.
- In King's Bounty The Legend, Princess Amelie fears that she may be kidnapped by a dragon, as she's a princess, but is sure that the main character will save her. At the very end, she is kidnapped and taken hostage by Haas, the Big Bad dragon.
- Dragons Lair, of course, has princess Daphne kidnapped by the evil Dragon Singe. You play as Dick on his way to rescue her.
- In Potatoes and Dragons, the King keeps calling for knights to kill the dragon that lives near the palace, for fear it might kidnap his daughter; unbeknownst to him, the princess has befriended the dragon and is actively thwarting each attempt on its life.
- Gender Flip in Jane and the Dragon, in which the Dragon kidnapped Prince Cuthbert because he believed the prince could translate the runes on his cave wall.