YMMV / Dragons: Riders of Berk

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Hiccup a Badass Pacifist because of the trauma that resulted from him and Toothless killing the Red Death? Or is it simply him trying to impose an unrealistic ideal on an imperfect world?
    • Alvin explains that he got banished from Berk for causing casualties by disobeying orders (probably unintentional) and is now quite willing to let Berkians like Hiccup get eaten by dragons (unambiguously intentional). Did he become more hard-hearted over time, or did Stoick see the ugly side of him?
    • Mala provides an in-universe in regards to Berk—she questions whether Hiccup and his riders fly WITH the dragons or have in a way subjugated them via a softer hand.
    • It's quite hard to tell exactly how much of Viggo's actions in "Shell Shocked" were part of his plan or just taking advantage of circumstances. At the least, it seems quite unlikely that he'd deliberately risk getting locked in a burning building.
    • Throk's constant protectiveness of and concern for Mala — a typical soldier's devotion to his queen, or is he in love with her? Jossed in Season 7 as he instead falls in love with Ruffnut, which Snotlout even calls a "shipwreck."
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • Averted with Hiccup. He still has some lingering self-esteem and image problems that he had in the movie. Seeing as he was ostracized by his entire community up until recently, this is very understandable. Played straight, however, with Hiccup seemingly having no issues whatsoever with his prosthetic foot. Any comment he makes about it is incredibly snarky, but with no trace of angst.
    • Considering that most of the adult men of Berk have at least one prosthetic, this isn't all that surprising. Losing a limb seems more like a mark of pride than anything else in their culture.
    • Averted with Heather for the longest time — for good reason, as she had a lot of baggage especially after Dagur killed her parents, then she later found out he's actually her brother — until the sixth season when she happily sets off to find Oswald with Dagur after only one episode to reconcile, all her previous issues instantly wiped away.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • After the second film was directed by someone who had no involvement with the series and openly stated he made no effort to keep it canon, Race to the Edge goes to some lengths to reconcile the differences so people aren't forced to choose which canon they prefer.
    • Ruffnut in the first season got less screentime and dialogue because her voice actress couldn't keep up with TJ Miller's improv, much to a lot of fans' ire. Come season four, she has about several episodes focusing on her relationships with the other riders.
    • Likewise, the viewers noticed that Hiccup had little to no leg problems given his amputation and it sometimes doubles as a Disability Superpower. In season four, one episode has a Running Gag of Hiccup getting his prosthetics damaged.
    • The hints that Dagur killed his father at first seemed to be a case of "you know what we mean, but the censors won't allow us to say it outright", particularly after Dagur mentions 'disposing' his father so he could rule in Defenders of Berk. So the revelation in Season 5 that Dagur did not kill his father seems like a Retcon as to make his character more sympathetic and his deep respect for blood ties regarding Heather not seem blatantly out of character. While this and the subsequent character arcs has been accepted by some, others are not so forgiving.
  • Awesome Animation: The animation is at times on par with the original movie, which is quite impressive for a weekly animated series.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Most of the leitmotifs from the original film show up in series, with several new arrangements of each appearing.
    • "Tone Death" lets the cast show off their singing skills, with special mention to Heather's lullaby and Hiccup's ballad about the first film's events.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Heather. Her introduction immediately triggered Die for Our Ship from the Hiccstrid shippers, more so when she predictably turned out to be The Mole for Alvin, only to redeem herself on saving the riders to rescue her parents. Quite a few fans appreciated her having layers of character depth, and a willingness to play dirty. In Race to the Edge, while she is cooler with her axe and improved combat skills, as well as taming a dragon whose spines can kill men in one shot, part of the fanbase points out that, like most Mary Sue characters, she makes a lot of mistakes in her initial episodes, does things the way she wants, and manipulates the riders, but they tend to treat her well.
    • Stoick. The. Vast. To a good portion of the fanbase, he counts as an Abusive Parent due to his tough words to Hiccup in the movie, and occasionally in the show. To another portion, he represents Parents as People who has to balance his job as chief and father.
    • Mala and the Defenders of the Wing were not very well received for their Animal Wrongs Group response to the Dragon Riders. Although this was rectified in the next episode and they are steadfast allies afterwards, the season long gap did little to dull the first impression.
  • Broken Base:
    • Dagur's new look as of "Race to the Edge". While most admit the shorter-hair-after-being-a-prisoner is pretty accurate, a lot of people do not like the beard. And even those who don't mind the idea of Dagur growing a beard don't like how patchy his is. And people apparently really miss his Loki-helmet.
    • Heather and Fishleg's getting Ship Tease in season three of Race to the Edge, on the one hand both are popular characters that could use the focus, on the other given that the show makes strides to stay in the canon of the movies this means that no matter what the relationship will ultimately go nowhere since in the second movie Fishlegs and Snotlout are competing over Ruffnut.
    • The Reveal about Trader Johann has split people between those liking the twist because of how unexpected it was, and those despising it because of it introducing many Plot Holes such as Trader Johann apparently befriending Berkians only as a means to get to King of Dragons, while it was Heather who was in possession of the lens while Johann was on friendly terms with Berk before Heather even appeared in-story.
  • Counterpart Comparison: More than once has the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom theorized that several citizens of Berk and its surrounding islands are descended from characters of that series.
    • Hiccup, like Aang, not only is a pacifist who prefers peacemaking to violence, not only has a boy just a few years older than him obsessively stalking him, but has an inseparable bond with and rides a flying creature who, by all appearances, is the Last of His Kind. Add in the flight suit he likes using, and it's been unanimously decided that, in another world, Hiccup would definitely be an Airbender.
    • Even if they didn't have the same voice actress, Heather undergoes almost the same journey in "Have Dragon, Will Travel" that Katara does in "The Southern Raiders" — tracking down the murderer of her parent(s), despite the protests of the hero, only to find when the time comes that she can't kill him. Both also have no problem stealing from/looting pirates.
    • Dagur is basically a Gender Flipped version of Princess Azula, both being The Caligula with a preference for lightning. His interaction with Alvin in "A View to a Skrill" mirrors Azula's with Long Feng in "Crossroads of Destiny" (the younger villain forms an alliance with the more experienced, older villain, only to successfully double-cross them and take over their army).
    • Berk and the Earth Kingdom even both have a cabbage merchant who's constantly getting annoyed by the heroes' antics.
  • Crazy Awesome: Dagur the Deranged. In his second appearance, he takes down Toothless in a sneak attack, and later on weaponizes a Skrill against the Outcasts.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Heather received hate before she even debuted. When it was said that she might "threaten Hiccup's love for Astrid", the shippers went nuts. This became Hilarious in Hindsight once she actually showed up — see Ho Yay for why...
    • Some shippers are also like this with DagCup, the Dagur and Hiccup ship. Poor Astrid usually loses her Character Development so that the Berserker and Hooligan's relationship can exist.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Dagur gets this treatment in fanfiction, usually to justify why he is psychotic and to make him appealing. The fact that he's the youngest villain, not to mention the most competent, wins the crowd quite a bit.
    • The show writers get into it as of the second half of Race to the Edge.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Heather proved to be pretty popular after her first two-parter, enough so to get another one in season three that also begins a character arc, promoting her from Girl of the Week to Honorary True Companion.
    • Fans quickly became attached to the chicken Tuffnut bonds with in Race to the Edge.
    • Throk has garnered quite a following of fans as well.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With fans of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice after the DC Nation block was put on hiatus for nearly three months with reruns for this show.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Astrid's zeal in being a dragon slayer in the movie. Just her being a typical Berk Viking and actually being competent at it, right? Now consider how her uncle died and the effect it had on her family's honor and suddenly it takes on a chilling tone. She is unlikely to be the only case like that.
    • The villagers' excited chanting of "Viking Funeral" since Stoick's in the sequel.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The writing system used in both the movies and series is a real alphabet known as the FUTHARK, commonly referred to as "Runes". The ancient Vikings used it both as a written language and considered each letter to be a powerful magic, which is still used in many occult practices.
    • In season three, we see what look like strange triangles all over ''The Reaper" and in the projections of the Dragon Eye, this is a writing system known as Cuneiform, considered by many historians to be the oldest form of written language in the world, predating even ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
  • Growing the Beard: While most people agree that season 1 and 2 are far better than any recent series based on an animated movie, Race to the Edge has blown all expectations out of the water with just its first thirteen episodes, with much better writing, CGI effects, and character designs. All in all it seems Netflix has managed to make a decent show into a great show.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Every episode that features Stoick after HTTYD 2, "Crushing It" deserves special mention, when he starts suffering Empty Nest Syndrome.
    • Everything about Heather when she returns in season three. The biggest probably has to be what she told the Berkians initially about pirates attacking her village and leaving her an orphan, which was a lie. Three years later, her words come back to haunt her when Dagur destroys her village and kills her foster parents.
    • "A Grim Retreat" becomes even more distressing since the scene with a mind-controlled Toothless about to kill Hiccup happened in HHTYD 2, which led to Stoick's death.
    • "Stryke Out" has a scene showing the matches from Toothless' point of view, that point of view? Exactly the same as when he was being mind-controlled by the Bewilderbeast to attack Hiccup.
    • In the light of The Reveal about Trader Johann, every episode where his appearance is central. Special mention goes to Edge of Disaster two-parter in Season 4, because this revelation means that attack on the Edge while Hiccup, Fishlegs and Snotlout were away wasn't simple coincidence.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Stoick going to consult an unintelligible oracle in "Animal House", after his original voice actor Gerard Butler was known for doing the same thing in 300.
    • The Foe Yay between Hiccup and Dagur, after David Faustino's other big show of the time ended with a canon gay couple, which his own character started out standing in the middle of.
  • Idiot Plot: Tuffnut spend an entire episode trapped in a net with Barf and Belch nearby all because nobody could think of the most obvious solution to get him out: have one head simply bite or burn the net while the other head is placed under him for him to sit on.
    • Though to be fair, it was only the Twins themselves (besides their dragon) who were in the situation so...
  • Informed Flaw:
    • In Season 5, the dragon riders repeatedly mention how "obsessed" Hiccup has become with beating Viggo. The way they talk, you'd think he was turning into Robin after the latter met Slade or Harry Potter in Book 6. Outside of easily falling for a relatively obvious trap of Viggo's, however, Hiccup never acts darker, out of character, or any more "obsessed" with this villain than he has with any others; there's nothing out of character, excessive, or unjustifiable about the level of determination he shows or effort he puts into fighting him.
    • Ryker is treated like the Dumb Muscle brawn to his Badass Bookworm brother's brains, yet he manages to outsmart Hiccup in both "Night of the Hunters" and "Snow Way Out," both of which also feature him getting the upper hand at some point due to his significant knowledge of dragons. He's actually such an intelligent adversary, it's no wonder Hiccup originally concluded he was the leader of the dragon hunters.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Face it, at least a fourth of this show's audience is just watching to see the new dragons.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • As of "We Are A Family", Alvin has attained this status after performing a plan that would involve Mildew being betrayed and forced to work with Hiccup, knowing full well Hiccup's overly trusting nature would end up teaching Mildew the training techniques while trying to escape. They think Mildew performed a Heel–Face Turn and Heroic Sacrifice without realizing that he was acting so Alvin can learn the art of dragon taming.
    • Season 3 also has Viggo, whose first appearance was a two parter that ended in The Bad Guy Wins, pulling a Xanatos Gambit against Hiccup, even when Hiccup began to outwit him.
    • The very last scene of Season 7 reveals that the entire time the true biggest one of the show was Trader Johann, who spent years building trust with the vikings and putting on a Lovable Coward act to keep beneath suspicion, all to get his hands on the Dragon Eye lens that Oswald the Agreeable had hidden with Heather.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Mildew crossed it in "Alvin and the Outcasts". Getting the dragons exiled was bad enough, but then he intends to sell Hiccup out to the outcasts. And just to make sure the viewer knows this isn't a "needs of the many" kind of choice, he gloats about it to Astrid.
    • Alvin himself crosses it by threatening to kill Heather's parents to force her to be The Mole.
    • It's heavily implied Dagur crossed this a while back by killing his own father. With an axe, no less. And if that doesn't do it for you, the reveal that he killed Heather's foster parents and most of her village certainly will.
    • Heather herself nearly crosses it by attempting to murder Dagur after saying that they would only capture, but Hiccup revealing that Dagur is her brother stops her. Though it's implied that during the time skip she is willing to use lethal force on Innocent Bystander Vikings while raiding their ships.
    • If he didn't cross it by having one of his mooks killed off, even after making him think he was forgiven for bartering off some dragon skin, Viggo cements it when he attempted to begin an outbreak of the Scourge of Odin just so he could get rich off the cure (even starting the spread by infecting his own men).
    • Viggo gets a second and in universe one as of "Dire Straits" - both Hiccup and Stoick see his efforts to starve Berk as unforgivable and a sign of his cowardice that he would attack through harming innocent women and children rather than face them in battle.
    • Season 7's new Big Bad Krogan wastes absolutely no time. Before we even meet him, Hiccup and Astrid discover Garff having been badly wounded by him and left to a slow, painful death. And then we get about as explicit a death shot as you'll see in a show like this when one of his men questions their methods, resulting in Krogan throwing an ax into his head.
  • Narm:
    • Hiccup delivering a line foreshadowing the second film's wing suit directly to the camera in "Gone Gustav Gone," like something out the pre-Growing the Beard Dreamworks films.
    • "This changes everything." Besides being uttered every time in the opening, when Hiccup first uses the line he had just discovered the dragon eye's projections and couldn't even read the symbols it displayed, making the line feel somewhat nonsensical.
    • Hiccup shouting at Dagur, "I HATE YOU, YOU HEAR ME?! I HATE YOU!" in "Enemy of my Enemy" like a 5-year-old yelling at their parents.
    • Heather suddenly screaming like a Berserker after 'reconciling' with Dagur in "Gold Rush" - it sounds entirely out of character. Dagur's own screaming as well, but it's at least part of his persona.
  • One True Threesome: Hiccup and Astrid are the canon Official Couple as well as easily the biggest Fan-Preferred Couple, so its easy to see that no one is getting in the way of that. So when Heather formed a deep bond with both of them, fans were quick to just ship all three together rather than split Hiccstrid.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Mildew has one after suffering a My God, What Have I Done? moment. Subverted when it is revealed he was working with Alvin the whole time.
    • Heather seems like this after its revealed she only joined Dagur to serve as the mole for the Dragon Riders in Race to the Edge.
    • Spitelout gets a bit in "Turn and Burn," which explores his insecurity about Stoick's natural leadership abilities and constantly trying to prove himself, and he gets enough development to Know When to Fold 'Em and have enough confidence to start over when his first choice to build an offshore storeroom has to be abandoned. It continues in "The Wings of War Part 2" as he saves Hiccup from a Singetail, then reveals he's become an expert on how to deal with the breed, and finally plays a key role in the battle to take back the Edge.
  • Rewatch Bonus: While it's questionable just how far ahead the twist was planned, the reveal at the end of Season 7 that Trader Johann is actually a bad guy who's been using Obfuscating Stupidity with the vikings puts a lot of stuff in a different light.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Astrid and Heather are usually subject to these, often on opposing sides.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Though the animation is pretty good, the series tends to stumble in action sequences, particularly dragon breath. By watching episodes like "The Terrible Twos", it's obvious they put extra effort into the fight scene near the end of "Alvin and the Outcasts".
    • The physics of the show are quite schizophrenic; some episodes use full-on motion capture for the human characters, while others use stiff-looking manual rigging for all motion. Watch an episode such as "Portrait of Hiccup as a Buff Man" with this in mind, and it becomes difficult to take your mind off the blocky and robotic motions of the characters.
    • An especially jarring thing about the animation is the hair. Hiccup's hair almost always gets a lot of detail, while the other's don't. So you go from a closeup of Hiccup riding Toothless and his hair is moving just like it would in real life, and then you go to a close up of the twins and their hair (which is much longer than Hiccup's) is separated into three chunky blocks that move very unrealistically.
    • There's a definite upgrade once the show moves onto Netflix, with realistically-moving hair, and more accurate CGI.
  • Stoic Woobie:
    • Stoick, especially when he chooses to let Thornado go to rescue baby Thunderdrums and take care of them. It takes him another season to admit that he misses Thornado.
    • Gothi is revealed to be this, given she survived an attack from a Snow Wraith that killed her companions while on a quest to find healing glacial water.
    • Heather is generally pretty well adjusted given her life, but when subjects like Dagur come up, it's clear the toll that reality has had on her.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The Season 6 finale teases the return of the Outcasts, not seen since Season 2, but they still don't actually appear. Luckily, this is rectified in the next season.
    • During the Skrill's second appearance, it's rescued from Dagur and set free. Its never mentioned or heard from again afterwards. Given that Dagur undergoes a Heel–Face Turn, and later requests a dragon of his own, one would think that him succeeding in taming the formerly volatile Skrill would be a better indicator of his redemption. Nope, he instead gets a Gronckle, a comparably more common dragon. Though in Season 7, it's Sleuther who becomes his mount, who is, like Skrill, rather unique and hard to tame..
  • Ugly Cute: Dragons, as usual. Particular mention goes to Meatlug the Gronckle, Fishlegs's placid and spectacularly ugly Gentle Giant of a mount.
    • Toothless, unlike other dragons, is just cute. And Atrid's Stormfly is beautiful. They share these traits with their riders.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Many viewers keep confusing who is named Ruffnut and who is Tuffnut. For the record, Ruffnut is the female (higher pitched voice and thinner helmet horns), and Tuffnut is the male (deeper voice and thicker helmet horns).
  • The Woobie:
    • Hiccup, every time Toothless is in danger like in "When Lightning Strikes," and in "Portrait of a Hiccup as a Buff Young Man."
    • Heather, in Race to the Edge, almost becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.

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