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Headscratchers / How to Train Your Dragon

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Fridge Logic from How to Train Your Dragon:

  • If dragons aren't fireproof inside, how do they breath fire? The one that ignites the gas after breathing it may have some excuse, but the one that sets itself on fire?
    • Hiccup confused "fireproof" with "explosionproof". Dragon-fire is normally shot off in a controlled burn. If it backfires and gets ignited all at once... it can wreak havoc on the dragon. A modern comparison would be burning gasoline in the spark plugs of an engine versus throwing a lit match into the engine's fuel tank.
    • Beware squick in this reply. Humans digest food with stomach acid, but the only part of us that is immune to said acid is the stomach. Throw up enough and your throat and teeth will decay and get raw. Dragons may operate on the opposite principle. They carry the fuel in their belly or a related organ and ignite it outside or in the mouth. Thus, their mouth and scales are fireproof, but their stomach isn't.
      • Gives a whole new meaning to the term 'heartburn' doesn't it?
      • Humans normally have stomach acid in their stomachs, not spraying through their throats. Dragons normally have it spraying through their throats.
    • Some of it is simply that certain dragons are vulnerable to backfiring. The Green Death has a Zippleback-like breath weapon; it breathes flammable gas, ignites it with its own version of a Thor's Thimble, and uses pure lung power to turn it into a blowtorch. Prematurely igniting it caused the blowout that caused the Green Death to, literally, go down in flames.
    • They don't: they spit it, their saliva is flammable. Really, "breath weapon" is a misconstrued concept.
    • The poster above is correct. Think of their fire-breathing system like a flamethrower - the fire isn't actually created until the gas is near the mouth, a more fireproof area.
      • Watch toothless' capture scene in the arena very closely. Before Hiccup stopped him, Toothless was going to kill Stoic by fireballing him at point blank range. When he takes a deep breath to summon the fire, you can see the gases building up in in his mouth.
      • I think it differs from dragons to dragons. Look at the fight scene in the beginning, the Monsterous Nightmare fireball acts more like a flamethrower, with the fire flowing like a stream (especially in the scene where the dragon ran out of fireballs). Then see the Zippleback training scene, the dragon breathes gas out and then light it causing an explosion (didn't happen in the training scene, but happened in the fight scene) Toothless' fireball appears to be a slightly dense gas cloud that expands very slowly (when Toothless wasn't amused with Hiccup for nearly crashing and killing both of them, and when Toothless made his "bed" (when they still weren't friends yet)
    • It also explains "a wet dragon head can't light it's fire" the trigger for igniting the gas is likey around the mouth or just inside of the mouth, where the water could reach it if the head was wet. If the fire was drawn from the stomach a wet head wouldn't do much to extinguish a strong flame.

  • Why do night furies have retracting teeth? How can that possibly come in handy?
    • Seeing as how their breath weapon is some kind of super-high-speed flaming sonic boom, the most powerful of any dragon, I suppose the less their teeth are in the way, the better.
    • Night furies shoot a flaming, explosive ball of plasma out of their mouths. Not exactly something you'd want getting stuck in your teeth at the wrong moment.
      • Not only could your teeth melt, but if they destabilize the plasma ball it could blow up in your face. At which point the radiant heat likely flash-fries your eyeballs...
      • As much as I like this explanation, the animators didn't think of it. I freeze framed through each time Toothless shoots his fireball and we can see his mouth, and in all instances his teeth are visible and unsheathed.
    • According to That Other Wiki, the retractable fangs are for catching fish.
    • Most creatures in Real Life either have a set of baby teeth replaced by permanent adult teeth, which can and do wear down over time but are generally quite strong so that they can last through the animal's lifespan, or have teeth that are continually replaced as needed. Retractable teeth would just be another way of protecting them from damage and wear, bringing them out only to eat, fight, and possibly play/when excited. Feline claws work on much the same principle - they're shielded from wear when not being used, which allows them to stay incredibly sharp.
    • Toothless demonstrates some rudimentary tool-use in the dirt-drawing scene. It's possible that Night Furys retract their teeth so they can handle objects using their mouths without damaging them.
    • Retractable teeth are also useful for plucking falling kids from the sky without biting their legs off...

  • In the short "The Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon", when they all go to the island to look for the titular dragon... Why did they take boats instead of riding their dragons? It would've been faster, there would've been less of a chance of them getting stranded, and they could've used the dragons for protection in case any other creature tried to attack them.
    • Fridge Brilliance: The entire village had just become friends with dragons. Would you want to take them on a hunting trip of one of their own (even if it's a "pure evil" one)?
      • This wouldn't work, seeing as how the dragons were very willing to assist the vikings in taking down the Red/Green Death.
      • That doesn't wash. It's one thing to help your former enemies take down a creature that's enslaved you for your entire life. But to help them go attack one that's never done anything to you?
    • Fridge Logic: Then why not just take Toothless? He can only properly fly when Hiccup is riding him and he's already shown to be very protective of him. It would only make sense for Toothless to tag along in order to protect his handicapped rider.
      • All the kids and Gobber would probably break Toothless' back.
    • They had to travel further over open water than their dragons could reasonably fly without rest, and it wasn't feasible to carry a bunch of large, heavy creatures AND enough food to keep said creatures fed with them in a boat. Alternately, the village elders were wary of becoming too reliant on these newfangled dragon-riders, and wanted to (subtly) make sure the younger generation didn't become too detached from the way of life that had served them well for hundreds of year - both using boats as a method of transportation and hunting dragons. Maybe Gobber was in on it, maybe everyone else just humored his desire to go on a wild goose chase because they figured it would do those whippersnappers some good to get back in touch with their roots.
      • Not true. The distance between the nest and Berk seems to be a rather large one and the dragons made that trip just fine (with humans and such no less). No only that, but Toothless flies nearly all day when they pick up Astrid with no real problems there either. Not only that, they had no provisions on the ship (unless you count the sheep) so taking provisions with them for a much shorter journey makes no sense whatsoever. Your alternate explanation is also complete BS. Their old ways were about hunting and killing dragons who they were now living peacefully with. There is no logical explanation for that. To top it all off, one of said Vikings was Hiccup. The first Rider? The one tried who had tried and failed to fit in with the standard Viking culture many times? Really, it's like taking a sailboat across the Atlantic instead of a jet airplane because the former is how out ancestors did it.
    • Gobber didn't have a dragon he could ride and none of the teens' dragons were strong enough to carry both their rider and a Gobber sized human. Gobber's the one who's leading them and the dragons fly faster then a ship can sail and the boat is to small to take them along.
    • Gobber's from a previous generation. He probably likes sailing more than he trusts dragons as steeds.

  • Why do all the adult Vikings have Scottish accents while their children sound Canadian?
    • It's how the kids are talkin' in the hood, yo.
    • The accent comes with puberty.
    • Helps to separate the two generations.
      • Not only that, but the Vikings weren't Scottish. They pushed the Celts all over Europe and the Celts do get their red hair from the Vikings, but the Vikings were from Norway, Sweden, etc...the other side of Europe. Why do any of the Vikings have Scottish accents at all?
      • The Vikings populated areas near Scotland and had trade going on with the Scots. Since Berk is about right off the coast of northwest Scotland it is entirely possible that they traded with the Scots a lot and maybe even had some living with them. As such, it isn't hard to believe that they had Scottish accents after about 300 years.
      • Yeah, Scandinavia is not "the other side of Europe" from Scotland. It's "slightly further north" from Scotland. The Vikings were firmly settled in Orkney and Shetland, and even as far south as Yorkshire. In the eleventh century, the Jarl of Orkney was was a vassal of both the King of Norway and of the King of Scotland, since parts of the islands belonged to both countries. The most famous Jarl was Thorfinn the Mighty, who was definitely a Viking, but was also the King of Scotland's son-in-law. We aren't told what his accent was like, but I'd bet he sounded Scottish when he spoke Norse, and Scandinavian when he spoke Gaelic.
      • Of course the real answer is very simple and more of a Real Life Writes the Plot sort of deal: Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson are Scottish, while Jay Baruchel is Canadian. Apparently it was more important to the filmmakers to have the actors give good performances rather than quibble about an accent. And anyone who's seen enough of Butler and Ferguson's work knows that neither of them can do other accents very well.
      • Given the Viking stereotype - red-haired, heavy drinking and violent - is also popularly associated with Scots as well, and Scottish is an accent for which there are plenty of big-name actors, it's a good stand-in. It immediately calls to mind all the common perceptions, you can put famous names on the movie poster, and no-one does a bad Scandinavian accent. As for the children having different accents - well, you don't want most of those stereotypes there.
      • I'm not an expert on Viking movements and migrations, but there have been a lot of movements from Norway/Scandinavia to Scotland over the centuries. Plenty of Scottish family have their roots in that area.

  • Toothless's little fingers are all nail, right? So how is he able to bend them?
    • Magic? Um... Maybe they aren't and he was not-nail part? I'll watch the movie again and pay closer attention to that scene but I don't there's a satisfactory explanation for this one.
    • I always assumed the claws were made of a strong cartilage-like substance. You know, it bends but doesn't break.
    • Yes, he does bend his claws. It's during the scene where he's trying to climb out of the sinkhole to save Hiccup, there's a quick closeup of his paw, and his claws definitely bend to grip the rock. There's no explanation for it beyond Rule of Perception, the animators wanted to show how determined he was, so they basically gave him the claw equivalent of feather fingers.

  • Seriously, what is with the Scottish accents? Vikings aren't from Scotland, they're from Scandinavia - and the movie is clearly set in Scandinavia, what with Hiccup's comments about the weather and the Northern Lights showing up in one scene. So why do all the Vikings talk with Scottish accents?
    • That's an easy one. According to the author of the books, Berk is located near Hebrides (which is a Scottish island). Given such, they probably have heavy trades going on with the Scots and it isn't impossible that their culture has mixed with that of the Scots. Given that Vikings have lived on Berk Island for ~300 years it isn't that much of a stretch to say that they have a Gaelic accent (this is especially true if some Scots settled in Berk which would further promote not only a mixture of culture but for the Vikings that lived there to shift from a Scandinavian accent to a Gaelic one).
    • The Vikings tended to adapt to the culture and language of the places they colonised very quickly - they were speaking Old Irish within less than a century of their first raids. The parts of Scotland that were invaded remained Gaelic-speaking, which would suggest that the Vikings adopted the native language. Possibly a case of Fridge Brilliance. (Also, the Hebrides is an archipelago, not just one island).
    • Especially likely if the first Viking settlers were mostly men, and married (or carried off) Scottish women when they decided to stay. Their children grew up sharing their mothers' accent, because their moms stayed home to raise them while their fathers were off raiding and dragon-hunting.

  • How does Hiccup use his prosthetic leg/foot (if his leg was amputated below the knee I guess it is technically a prosthetic foot) to maneuver Toothless' prosthetic tail-fin? I understand that he could use his body weight to simply have his foot push down the pedal by leaning but I don't understand how he could handle more intricate moves if he can't physically manipulate a fake foot. Couldn't he simply have the pedal on the right side with his still flesh and bone right leg?
    • The attachment locked in to the new harness. So it would act like a lever and adjust the tail's position. This would allow Hiccup to maintain the same type of control his old leg had before the accident. As for why not switch to the other side, I would consider two reasons. First his muscle-memory would need to be retaught. He learned over a period of weeks how to move that leg to fly without thinking about it. It would only take a short time to relearn with the new prosthetic. Second, moving it to the other side would require a new type of harness. Now Gobber is a good smithy, but it is very likely he did not create the second tail-fin from scratch as he never made anything that unique before and had access to Hiccup's designs to take from.
      • Oh, OK that makes sense. If I am assuming correctly then this means the foot can still pivot from side to side because the foot is inserted into the wooden base on the stump and not one singular thin metal piece. From there if it is locked in place on the harness then Hiccup can just move his leg and the foot will have no other choice but to move like a lever and still allow him to do more intricate moves. However it still would be important to learn how to use the right leg because it is still possible for his left prosthetic leg to fail. For example what is Hiccup going to do if the prosthetic leg ever falls off from all the high speed G Forces he would be exposed to riding Toothless or if the leg is locked in place and he needs to make an emergency jump off of Toothless? He would be out of luck.
      • I believe the foot wasn't just a peg-leg type of prosthetic. It had a bend on it, seen in this fan art. Then he inserts the bent part into a lock of some sort on the new harness, keeping himself locked in.
      • Indeed, as shown here (caps from the movie), the prosthetic does have a bend and does couple itself into the pedal.
      • After having watched the movie 10 times (yes the movie is that good, and yes I have kept count) I have noticed that Hiccup does in fact have a right pedal which if you pay attention during the final battle with the Green/Red Death emphasis is put on Hiccup using his right foot to manipulate the tail-fin. Beyond muscle memory you have to consider that Hiccup being left-handed would most likely have a dominant left foot as well and using his right foot on a consistent basis would be awkward for him to adjust to. Alternatively maybe he needs a pedal on both sides just in case one fails and that there really is no problem with him using either foot. Or perhaps Hiccup uses his left prosthetic foot as a symbolic gesture to show how him and Toothless now match and lean on each other as best friends to help each other out. Any of these interpretations seem valid.
      • Aside from controlling how far in or out the artificial tail fin is, he'd also have to control it's pitch in order to ascend and descend. His right foot probably controls that mechanism since it wouldn't be as complex as the other one. Also, I do believe Hiccup is left-handed so there's that and the fact that having the most complex part of the system be as close as possible to what it controls makes sense.
      • Also, (this from an engineer) The pedals appear to be linked underneath Toothless, and looks like a variant of the lever-shifter on a bike. One foot tightens it, the other foot loosens it.

  • How can you determine a dragon's gender by just taking a passing glance at them, wouldn't you need to put your hand into their slit to see if there is a penis in there similar to what you would do for reptiles in general? I am not saying that we should turn Toothless into a girl on such a basis, but it seems odd to me that Hiccup just assumed that his friend was a boy without making sure. Maybe it would be just too awkward to even bother trying?
    • It's often possible to determine sex by other physical characteristics - coloring, size, and things like horns/antlers/etc. But I do concede that we don't have much for reference in Toothless' case.
    • While the sexual organs are hidden inside, like real-world reptiles, it is possible there are other physical differences. In some species of animals, the males are the flashier ones to use in attracting mates and being distractions should a predator come. So maybe each species of dragon has something it considers hot and sexy on the other sex to justify mating. All this said, you still have a point that we don't know Toothless' sex as we don't have another Night Fury to judge by.
      • Also, it's fairly common for someone to assume an animal whose sex they can't readily identify is the same sex as they are. I know if I see a random dog on the street, I'm pretty much always going to automatically think of it as a male unless there's something extremely obvious, like it's wearing a big pink bow or something. If Astrid had found Toothless instead, she'd probably have assumed it was a girl.

        Alternatively, maybe the citizens of Berk have a kind of Female Feline, Male Mutt thing going with dragons and assume all the dragons they see are male by default.
    • Perhaps the Night Furies are an all-male species while there's an all-female species that they breed with. Or maybe they can breed with any female dragon to produce Night Fury eggs.
    • Though I think if Toothless was a girl, being called by male pronouns and such would drive her to correct Hiccup (like nipping him when he calls her 'him' or whatever).
      • That is if Toothless has enough of a grasp of human language that he/she can deduce the meaning of what Hiccup is saying throughout the movie rather than responding to his words based on what emotions Toothless senses from Hiccup. For example Toothless seemed to only listen to Hiccup's pleas to stop fighting the Vikings when Hiccup cried out in desperation to not kill his father Stoick. Besides regardless of whether Toothless is male or female (I personally lean towards male but that is aside the point) Toothless doesn't care about gender roles/labels as he/she simply views Hiccup as a friend, gender shouldn't change that unless you are one of those Toothless/Hiccup shippers.
      • Word of God should help. The director makes several references to Toothless being a male in the commentaries for the movie and the Toothless from the book was a male so the movie Toothless might as well follow suit. Though of course the movie itself never deals with questioning Toothless' gender so at the very least they have left it open enough that they could logically change their minds and make Toothless female in the sequel. Anyway Toothless' friendship with Hiccup should be the focus not whether it is male or female.
      • In the Gift of the Night Fury Christmas short, the dragons leave to lay and hatch their eggs. Toothless seems to be the only male dragon in Berk.
      • Not true. The movie doesn't actually state ALL of them are female, and a lot of dragons are seen in pairs next to single nests.

  • Is it possible that dragons are distantly related to dinosaurs? A few real-life creatures like certain birds and reptiles like crocodiles are viewed as being distantly related to the dinosaurs of old through millions of years of evolution, but dragons being rather large (with the exception of a few like the Terrible Terrors) flying reptiles should be more closely related than any of the real-life examples. The Green/Red Death in particular given its giant size looks pretty indistinguishable from a real dinosaur, almost like a T-Rex (among a mix-match of a few others if you use your imagination) with wings.
    • No clue. I highly doubt any of the creators thought about the evolution of dragons in their works (and that's assuming they believe in the theory of evolution in the first place).
    • As dragons in the film are hexapods, it's hard to imagine how they could be derived from dinosaurs, which were all four-limbed.
    • In addition, no known dinosaurs can spit fire from their jaws, so that also strains the idea. Th dragons probably are some kind of archosaur (the leg positioning indicates such), but I doubt they're dinosaurs. Maybe dragons are some kind of radical pterosaur branch?
  • What happened to the Red Death's body? The explosion that Toothless ignited by firing a blast inside its mouth may have been big but it shouldn't have totally disintegrated its body, a more realistic sight would have been charred pieces of its flesh and blood raining down on the Vikings. I mean if Toothless could survive the flames of that explosion at least a charred corpse of the Green Death should have remained.
    • Considering how this was meant to be for kids, thus permitting friendly violence towards others, familial issues, Aesops about looking beyond first impressions, seeing the remains of the Green Death falling on Stoic as he has that moving Character Development at the end would have been weird, if not Nightmare Fuel. And it is possible there was a huge body left over, we just never saw it as it could have been Nightmare Fuel added to the already nightmarish Green Death.
      • Your mileage may vary but personally I would be laughing my ass off if I saw chunks of flesh raining down on the Vikings. It could be made funny if one of the Vikings looked at each other and noted that they all needed a bath after all this.
      • True. Now I'm reminded of the end of Tremors 2.

  • I know that dragons being fire-breathing, flying reptiles are very unlike anything else in nature and would be hard to domesticate but I find it hard to believe that not a single human tried to bond with a dragon before Hiccup became friends with Toothless. For example in real life I am sure that wolves weren't easy for our ancestors to domesticate but through trial and error they became our companions and evolved into dogs. I find it hard to believe that in 300 years of being on the island of Berk not a single human conducted trial and error bonding with a dragon, the dragons that Hiccup faces in his training seem very curious and playful around humans only attacking once provoked, Hiccup should not have been the only one who noticed how docile they can be if you be nice to them. I liked the way the book handled things in that there are SOME domesticated dragons but others that are very wild and near-impossible to control, just like in real life we have domesticated dogs and wild dogs out in nature.
    • There is a difference between domestication and breaking the spirit of the animal. We have no clue what was done to make sure the training dragons stayed there. But also keep in mind, even if they weren't broken, their actions were always on the deadly side, it is just the trainees were watched by an experienced fighter who knew a lot of things about the dragons and how they behaved when met with violence. Look at Snotlout near the end, his first reaction when the Monstrous Nightmare was coming towards him was to grab a weapon. I would guess that no Viking ever considered approaching a dragon without some weapon on them for fear of their own safety, never realizing they were sabotaging any attempt to befriend the beast.
    • Another theory would be that the dragons outside the training were all under the subtle influence of the Green Death and couldn't fight it. It was only when Toothless was away from the island for a long time was he able to get the song out of his system, but the moment he got in range, he was hooked until his desire to protect Hiccup made him flee.
    • As well, the domestication of animals isn't necessarily universal. We've been partnered with dogs for a long LONG time, so it's pretty universal. But many cultures were ignorant of how to train horses, and just thought of them as big, potentially dangerous animals to be avoided and occasionally hunted.
    • Domestication (and even breaking) are hard things to do, especially for apex predatory species (like dragons); not only is it dangerous, but it also takes a lot of time to fully domesticate any animal. Domesticating dogs alone took thousands of years; domesticating fire-breathing volant apex predators like dragons would take even longer.

  • Right, so um... Why does Horrorcow speak Norse?
    • As opposed to what? Swahili?

  • Why do the Vikings have such pronounced beards and horned helmets? Those would be awful in melee combat. Longbeards give the enemy something to tug onto and the horns on the helmets are another thing they could yank at (unless the helmets are loose, which would defeat the purpose of having a helmet to begin with). Are we to assume that the Vikings are just that badass that they don't need to worry about an enemy ever getting the chance to do that?
    • As Horny Vikings explains it, "... and the horned helmets that they never actually wore except for ceremonial occasions." Stock Costume Traits and The Coconut Effect is in full effect.
    • Fridge Brilliance: These particular Vikings have spent the last seven generations fighting dragons, not other humans. They don't need to worry about their beards being grabbed, because dragons don't have hands; indeed, having a long beard would be a mark of battle-prowess, because a poor fighter's facial hair would soon get burned away. They do need to worry about having their heads bitten off, in which case wearing pointy horns that can jab in to an attacking dragon's palate is a sensible precaution.
    • Also, beards can help keep your face from getting frostbitten off, especially on those boat trips.
    • While the franchise is hardly intended to be historically accurate, full beards were common for men in Norse culture (and several other ancient cultures). Shaving with pre-modern technology is time-consuming.

  • Stoick gives Hiccup his helmet and tells him it came from his mother's breastplate. Yet in all the trailers for the second movie, we see his mother and she's far too small and thin to have worn armor that large.
    • Perhaps he meant it comes from the material that covered her breastplate rather than the cup itself? Like taking part of a car and making something out of it.
    • Hiccup's mom could well have had several sets of armor, two of which were later re-forged into helmets after her disappearance.
    • I imagine that there was a hilarious mix-up when they first made her breastplate, so it was made way too big. She never wore it, but it was still "hers".
      • I can just see it now, the smith talking to a besotted and starry-eyed Stoic who, in a fit of distraction, accidentally gives his measurements rather than his wife's.
    • Maybe Valka inherited the breastplate from her mom, who was buxom. If she and Stoic had produced a daughter, she'd have likewise passed it on in turn, but since Hiccup has no sisters Stoic had it reforged instead.

  • How is it that Hiccup spent years working for Gobber in the forge swinging a hammer and yet he never developed muscles?
    • Truth in Television. Genetics play a role regarding strength and muscles. Some people are naturally thin, others naturally bulky. Some would gain muscles with little training, others would stay thin with lots of training. Also, as mentioned on this page, Hiccup did manage to carry pretty heavy stuff. It could be that he is weak for viking standards and/or has more of an issue with balance than strength.

  • In the Christmas special, Fishlegs finds out that Meatlug is female because she laid eggs. But he initially assumes she "barfed up a pile of rocks". So dragons lay their eggs by barfing them up?!
    • I think he only saw the eggs, not the process of laying them too. Therefore, when he saw the eggs he assumed they were rocks and that Meatlug barfed them.

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