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In medieval European folklore, dragons were often depicted as living incarnations of sin or calamity. At their worst, they were the ultimate hoarders, jealously guarding what wealth and territory they saw as theirs by right of strength. In modern times, the allegory of the dragon can be found not just in fairytales or fantasy stories, but serves as a fitting symbol for large commercial companies. It's the idea of a corporation as this monolithic beast, whose domain is only limited by the shadow made from atop its tower as it spreads wide its wings to blot out the sun. The effects of such an organisation can bring desolation to natural resources or small businesses just to add more treasured assets to a mountainous hoard. If the company is a war profiteer, there might not even be a difference between actual beast and business, with distant lands being made barren or marred by fire-scorched ruins.

Not all Corporate Dragons are tyrannical, however. Sometimes it's merely a businessman who seems nigh-untouchable compared to his peers, as a dragon is to a pack of wolves or screaming villagers... or perhaps they genuinely are a literal dragon.

In Urban Fantasy settings or medieval fantasy worlds undergoing their version of modernization, this may be included as traditional fantasy dragons' response to growing economies and emergent capitalism — after all, capitalist wealth aggregation and economic power are likely going to be very appealing to creatures motivated by greed and a desire for control.

Sometimes, this theme includes a Knight in Shining Armor — intent on slaying the dragon — appearing in the form of a Private Detective, a straight-arrow cop, a whistleblower, or similar protagonist.

For another Urban Fantasy stereotype, see Vampires Own Night Clubs. If you're looking for someone who acts as The Dragon for a corporation, see Corporate Samurai.

Potentially a Sister Trope of Dragon Hoard.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Little Witch Academia (2017): Luna Nova Academy once borrowed money from the dragon Fafnir, who runs his hoard like a venture capitalist and loan shark.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Elma is a high-ranking Harmony Dragon who is capable of facing Tohru on even footing and works at an IT company... as a low-level software engineer. It's eventually revealed that Tatsuzawa is also a dragon who was sent to take over for Elma after she was called back to the other world for her Arranged Marriage, though she remains even after the marriage falls through.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba, the president of Kaiba Corp, has a deck centralized around dragons, with the Blue-Eyes White Dragon being his signature Monster card. His company even worked as an Arms Dealer until he wrested control from his stepfather, Gozaburo Kaiba, at which point the business slowly shifted into the gaming industry, complete with theme parks and holographic projectors. Even his private jet is shaped like a Blue-Eyes.

    Fan Works 
  • Codex Equus: Urania is both a Dragon Lord and a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and quite likely the first businessdragon of the Fourth Age. She's ruthless and exploitative but also forward-thinking, and believes that dragons need to adapt to the changing shape of world culture to thrive.
  • The Palaververse: While most dragons are reclusive loners more interested in hoarding treasure in the wilderness than in joining civilization, one forward-thinking drake named Glint is noted to have started his own bank with his hoard as an asset base, overcoming traditional draconic aversion at letting others have your valuables through the promise of future profits.

    Literature 
  • Griffen Mc'Candles, the literal dragon protagonist of Dragons Wild by Robert Asprin, becomes the owner of a casino operation in modern-day New Orleans.
  • In The Heartstrikers, this trope is very common, as dragons are naturally drawn to positions of power, including running large corporations.
  • In InCryptid, the female members of the dragon species — known as dragon princesses — pursue wealth which they trade for gold. This gold is then used for their nests. To do this, they often act as vicious traders and executives who are extremely reluctant to part with any money that they get.
  • In The Masked City, despite the fact that the setting's dragons are based mainly on Eastern dragon tropes, Irene meets the King of the Northern Ocean in a cyberpunkish dimension where he and his court take the form of the CEO and executives of a MegaCorp.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Beast: The Primordial: Luca Rohner, the son of Swiss bankers, became an Apex Ugallu Ravager, as well as the head of his family's lucrative investment firm.
    • Changeling: The Lost has two draconic Gentry that control international corporations:
      • Baron Fairweather, aka the Free Market Dragon, is a creature of pure Greed who owns Max Mart as part of a centuries-long plan to lay claim to the entire mortal world. His current incarnation might actually have helped create modern capitalism.
      • Dorian Hargrave, aka Dzar├╗mazh the Deathless, aka the Conqueror Worm, owns Hargrave Imports, but is more interested in power and authority in all their forms, especially as tools in his centuries-long quest to master the magic of Cold Iron.
  • d20 Modern: In the Urban Arcana setting, where fantasy creatures have found themselves transported to the modern world, dragons often become CEOs of large companies — to quote an official tagline, "dragons rule the boardrooms".
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The 3rd edition Draconomicon describes Lothaenorixious, a great wyrm blue dragon who was almost killed by adventurers sent by the owners of a salt mine whose caravans he had been raiding. After he recovered, the enraged dragon attacked the mine and killed its owners, but then realized that it could serve as a source of a great deal of wealth. Consequently, instead of just razing it, he claimed the salt mine for himself, ruthlessly managing its workings in order to extract every drop of profit from it while minimizing expenses as much as possible. He's a draconian manager, providing his enslaved workers with the bare minimum of food and shelter needed to keep them alive, and making periodic "adjustments" to his workforce in response to the mine's productivity, which chiefly consist of killing workers to reanimate as zombies.
  • GURPS Technomancer: Leviathan Investment Group is the setting's biggest MegaCorp, with divisions in many branches of industrial magic. Its reclusive chairman, Joshua Rain, is a dragon, although this is not publicly known.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The city-plane of Ravnica has this trope in the Mad Scientist dragon Niv-Mizzet, parun and guild-master of the Izzet League. Said guild holds a monopoly on the civic works of the city, including water supply systems, sewers, heating systems, boilers, and roadways.
  • Shadowrun: Dragons from the Fourth World were already ancient, greedy, cunning, and extremely manipulative. During the turnover from the Fifth to the Sixth World, dragons found a very comfortable niche ready for them in the corporate ladder, so it's not unheard of for them to control the MegaCorps that rule much of the world's economy and resources:
    • The dragon Lofwyr controls Saeder-Krupp, one of the largest Mega Corporations in the world (the largest in some editions), and is the source of the proverb "Never, ever cut a deal with a dragon."
    • The Great Dragon Celedyr is fascinated with technology, and used his hoard of treasure to take over the Mega Corp Transys Neuronet. After it merged with the corporations Erika and Novatech, he became Director of Research and Development for the combined corporation Neo_NET. His human colleague Richard Villiers, a born businessman and much more charismatic being, actually runs the show at Neo_NET, and the pair have done well in at least tolerating one another so far.
    • The Red Dragon Association or Hung Lung Mun is a centuries-old Triad, which used to be known as the "Red Fists". The syndicate is based in Hong Kong with ties to the Great Dragon Lung and the AAA-rated megacorp, Wuxing, Inc.
    • The dragon Dunkelzahn was a bit of a weirdo amongst the dragons, especially in that he was much more humanist and fond of the mortals the dragons usually exploit. He was still filthy rich (and judging by the outcomes of his will, just as manipulative as his peers}, but his business concerns were hosting a talk show and a conspicuously profitable nonprofit that manages his estate. Dunkelzahn's biggest accomplishment (in recorded history, at least) was becoming President of the U.C.A.S. for all of 8 hours before being assassinated.
  • Starfinder: Multiple dragons rule entire countries and corporations on the planet of Triaxus. An ancient green dragon named Dretchnyliax, after getting beaten up for aggressive expansion efforts, settled down and started a family-run business centered on dragon-flesh augmentation. She is also now a Cyborg, being triple her original size and more mecha than flesh.

    Video Games 
  • Shadowrun Returns: The symbolism part of the trope is lampshaded in Dragonfall. Dietrich is a shaman of the Dragonslayer, who is trying to push Dieter into slaying bigger and bigger opponents until he gets into a fight he can't win. The protagonist can advise Dietrich to try and negotiate with the Dragonslayer that there are other entities — especially the Megas — who fulfill a "dragon" role that he can try fighting and "killing" instead, and are often led by actual dragons. The Dragonslayer will agree to this interpretation.

    Webcomics 
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Mammon is known (among others) as the Grand Dragon (his species are very dragon-like, though they are colloquially known as the Kind People), and is the founder, owner and head of the Infinite Bank of Yre, which is in itself a world power due to controlling Throne's coinage. Much of Mammon's Dragon Hoard is made up of coinage from his own bank. Mammon himself is actually quite the Benevolent Boss, mostly because he's gone too senile to do much but wander his inner vault and continually count its near-infinite wealth, coin by coin. The Bank mostly runs itself.
  • Oglaf: One strip has a halfing sneak into a dragon's cave to propose an association (well, real-estate scam): the dragon sets neighboring villages on fire, the halfling buys the land at a fraction of its value and develops it with gold from the Dragon Hoard, then splits the profits with the dragon. The dragon incinerates him, then realizes that was actually a good idea.
  • Dev from Part-Time Dragons is just a low-level programmer and indie game developer fighting depression, though his sister can be scary sometimes.

    Web Videos 
  • The Prince Division: Acidback is an ancient and mighty green dragon who runs an investment firm.

    Western Animation 
  • Fast & Furious: Spy Racers: Cleve is a greedy businessman who hoards his wealth, believes might is right, and feels entitled to territory he doesn't actually own, and makes use of extensive dragon and fire motifs in his clothing and corporate iconography.

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