The Dragons Come Back
A (sub)plot revolving around dragons returning from extinction/exile.


(permanent link) added: 2012-08-29 00:32:10 sponsor: Koveras (last reply: 2012-10-26 14:14:06)

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Here There Were Dragons... and now they are coming back, for better or for worse. As the natural apex predator species, their return inevitably upsets the status quo of the setting, kicking off a variety of conflicts, such as:

  • The dragons are here and proceed to carve out a place for themselves in the setting, waging war on the other species.
  • The dragons' return is imminent and one camp aims to assist it, while the other prepares to fight them and their supporters.
  • The returning dragons are non-sentient and one faction tries to control them and conquer all the others.
  • The dragons are benevolent and return because a conflict is afoot that requires their near-divine intervention.
  • The dragons' return is just the first, symbolic portent of other calamities that are about to befall the world.

Also included are mythical species that occupy similar position in their respective settings' supernatural food chain (e.g. some types of gryphons). If they are present, a conspicuous absence of actual dragons in the setting may be expected.

Contrast Last of His Kind (a single specimen is more of an oddity than an existential threat to other species). Subtrope of The Magic Comes Back and Not So Extinct. May or may not involve Fossil Revival.

Examples:

Film
  • In Reign of Fire, dragons come back from extinction in the modern day and begin causing all kinds of chaos and havoc.
  • In Dragonheart: A New Beginning, the dragons are extinct since the last movie but then some monks find a dragon egg that hatches.

Literature
  • A Song of Ice and Fire sees the supposedly extinct dragons reemerge at the end of book one and are used as a banner to gather The Horde.
  • In Guards! Guards!, the draco noblis is believed to be extinct... until someone summons one right into Ankh Morpork. It then proceeds to take over the city by fear and fire breathing.
  • In Wrong Time For The Dragons by Sergey Lukyanenko and Nick Perumov, the last dragons (who also double as Royal Blood) of a parallel universe have been exterminated a few decades ago, but now several factions are trying to bring them back.
  • Dragons in The Elric Saga tend to spend almost all of their time sleeping (they have to, so as to recharge their energies, as in 1 day requires something like 10 years of sleep), only coming out of their caves during extreme crises.
  • Almost happened in Dragonriders of Pern: the dragon population shrunk to a (probably unsustainable) size where they couldn't protect humanity from the Thread, so the protagonists have to find a way to bring back hundreds more.
  • Not dragons but in the Heralds of Valdemar series, no one living has ever seen a gryphon, although most cultures have legends or accounts of them being a friendly species. A mated pair showing up as advance scouts/diplomats, then, is a great shock to everyone.
  • At the beginning of The Inheritance Cycle, it's generally thought that dragons are extinct, but the protagonist happens to accidentally steal and hatch the one dragon egg left. Then later it turns out that the evil emperor also has a dragon, and the king had two eggs left over, and both eventually hatched. In the final book, it was revealed that there was a whole cache of secret dragon eggs, which were re-claimed once Galbatorix was defeated.
  • Inverted in Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series: all sorts of magical species come back from exile in the Divine Realms where they had been locked by human mages long ago... except the dragons who choose not to return. Needless to say, the impact of the return is comparable with if not bigger than in other examples.
  • In The Dragons Of Noor by Janet Lee Carey, this is pretty much the main plot.
  • In the Deltora Quest series, the plot of the third set of books revolves around awakening the last of Deltora's questions who went to slumber because their kind was getting killed of by the Shadow Lord to destroy the Four Sisters which were planted by the Shadow Lord.

Tabletop Games
  • The Dragon Lance setting of Dungeons & Dragons. The events of the War of the Lance include the return of both Good and Evil dragons.
  • It's a part of the background of Shadowrun, one of the first sign that the sixth world has arrived and magic has returned is when the dragons return. The first is the Great Dragon Ryumyo, seen by 250 people aboard a Japanese bullet train.

Video Games
  • Drakan: The Ancients' Gates sees Rynn and Arokh bringing back the dragons Trapped in Another World in order to re-establish the ancient Order of the Flame, pushing back the forces of evil that have almost subjugated humanity in the meanwhile.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim revolves around the dragons, thought to have been defeated and driven out for good long ago, invading Tamriel in force, bringing chaos to the land.
  • The Dragon Age series takes it name from the current in-universe age, named thus because dragons, believed extinct for centuries in the setting, suddenly began appearing sporadically. Their return is taken as an omen of violence and upheaval in the new age--and, indeed, the first few decades of it were marked by a Blight (unseen in centuries) and the collapse of centuries-old Circle of Magi system, leading to a civil war.
    • Furthermore, the supplemental comic The Silent Grove hints at an underground refuge for dragons, waiting to come back.
  • Guild Wars 2 has the dragons coming back in the 250 year gap from the first game and spawning an entire Fantasy Axis of Evil with their mere presence. In the response, the five major races have banded together and defeating them is the overarching plot of the game.
  • Dragon's Dogma begins your village being attacked by a dragon. The return of the dragon symbolizes a period of strife after the long peace that the world has enjoyed for generations.
  • The backstory of Fire Emblem Elibe is that dragons and men used to live in peace, but then a war broke out 1000 years ago, and mankind sealed dragons away. In Eliwood's game, the plot eventually grows to the point where they have to stop Nergal from bringing dragons back into the world, because that would bring about another war between species that humanity isn't prepared for and, thus, the extinction of mankind.

Will go under Dragon Tropes and Plots.
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