The Dragon

"What is thy bidding, my master?"

"Lanius is savage. Savagely loyal, too, but only to me - he has no love for the Legion. But this has its uses. He has no attachment to his men, no compunction about battlefield losses. All he cares about is destroying the enemy. When another Legatus or Centurion fails to achieve results, I send Lanius to make things right. His first step is to beat the failed commander to death in front of his assembled troops."
Caesar on his second-in-command Legate Lanius, Fallout: New Vegas

The Big Bad's top enforcer, or the Evil Counterpart of The Lancer in the Five-Bad Band. Some Dragons are ferocious fighters who leave the heavy thinking to the boss. Others are smart, detail-oriented administrators who oversee the day-to-day running of the evil organization. Either way, defeating the Big Bad almost always requires The Hero to overcome the Dragon first. A common but by no means universal theme is to have the Dragon pose a physical challenge to the hero, while the Big Bad poses a mental or moral challenge.

The Dragon will occasionally commit a Heel-Face Turn when confronted by the heroes. If he does so, chances are very good that he will end up killing the Big Bad when the heroes cannot bring themselves to do so; often by joining the villain in death as a final act of redemption. If, instead, his Heel-Face Turn comes earlier in the series, he may redeem himself and join The Team.

The Dragon is an integral part of the Five-Bad Band dynamic. If there's a Quirky Miniboss Squad, the Dragon is often the unofficial leader. And he is almost always physically stronger than The Brute.

Please note that effectively being the Big Bad's secretary, or constantly hanging around them is not enough to be a Dragon. This role is somebody the Big Bad can rely on (or thinks they can rely on) in a time of trouble to step up and beat the living heck out of The Hero, or maybe just take charge for a while, should the Big Bad not be around to do the job.

Tropes related to Dragons:

The term "dragon" originates from folklore where the hero fights dragons or more often other kinds of monsters, described as such in "The Hero with a Thousand Faces", a non-fiction comparison of various fantasy heroes written by Joseph Campbell. These monsters are obstacles to be overcome in order to fulfill the hero's quest. Note, however, that in folklore they are not necessarily (and hardly ever are) in the service of the true villain, whereas in accordance with this trope, they necessarily are.

For literal dragons and their permutations, see Our Dragons Are Different. Not to be confused with Dragon Lady, who is more likely to be a Big Bad than the Dragon, or Dragon, which was a magazine. Definitely not to be confused with The Savage Dragon.

Other Good Counterparts are Number Two, or The Hero in a Big Good vs Big Bad scenario. The Champion may be The Dragon if they follow the Big Bad, or may play a similar role to a straight Dragon for a nonvillainous character. See also: The Man Behind the Man, Hypercompetent Sidekick, Psycho for Hire, The Consigliere.


Alternative Title(s):

Second Biggest Bad, Penultimate Villain, Trusted Lieutenant