A person or monster The Hero
has to get past to get at the Big Bad
. Much of the time, but not necessarily, the Big Bad
's top enforcer. He, she or it embodies a narrative trope: the penultimate challenge that the hero must face before confronting the Big Bad. This challenge will test their worthiness in some fundamental way.
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. 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.
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.
The term dragon
for this role originates from analysis of folklore in which the hero fights dragons. These monsters serve as obstacles to be overcome in order to fulfill the hero's quest. The dragon's role is described as such in "The Hero with a Thousand Faces
", a non-fiction comparison of various fantasy heroes written by Joseph Campbell.
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
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
. Other Good Counterparts
are Number Two
, or The Hero
in a Big Good
vs Big Bad scenario. In the Five-Bad Band
, this is the Evil Counterpart
to The Lancer
related to The Dragon: