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"The holy dragonmen, trailblazers of a new age
Riding the universe to force the evil to its cage."
Running Wild, "Dragonmen"

Let's face it: you can't get much more badass than a Dragon. They're huge. They fly. They breathe fire. They have weapons sticking out of nearly every part of their body. They're really, really smart. They're brutal and merciless in battle. They live for eternity, or at least a few thousand years, during which they only get stronger. They wield magic. Their tough scales make them both pretty and pretty Immune to Bullets. (Well, it really depends.)

As the most well-known mythological beast, dragons have always been treated like nuclear bombs in times of swords and wooden shields — a quintessential incarnation of prestige, as well as terror.

Somewhere along the line (1967, to be exact), somebody got the idea that maybe these vicious, bloodthirsty beasts don't have to be so evil after all. Maybe underneath all those fangs and claws, they're just gentle, misunderstood creatures who might just be willing to fight on the side of the good guys if you're lucky. In fact, maybe they're just looking for a friend.

Thenceforth, there came the idea of a Dragon Rider, a human (or humanoid) who is so mightily goddamn badass he can ride on the back of these beasts, often as a steed into battle. The concept exploded and gained popularity among fantasy authors, and now can be seen just about everywhere in modern fantasy literature and games.

Dragon riders are usually characterized by a bond with the beast they ride which results in a synchronous relationship between the two, a telepathic link, and no possibility that the two could ever be separated from each other without drastic consequences. They'd better get used to each other's company — they're stuck together for life!

The plausibility of this trope depends on how intelligent the dragons are in this setting as well as what exactly the rider brings to the table. In some cases, the human might fill some gap in the dragon's own abilities. If the dragon is just a particularly awesome, non-sapient animal, then the relationship is more comparable to that of a horse and rider. If the dragon lacks access to powerful or diverse magic, it might benefit from having a wizard on its back. However, most dragons are so all-around awesome that the human comes across as redundant. That legendary magic sword of yours isn't going to do much good up there either unless it's really really big, in which case the dragon himself might use it. In the case of a sapient dragon, it might be letting the human ride on its back not so much because it needs their help in combat, but just because the dragon and human are friends.

Much to the chagrin of some fans of old fashioned dragon lore, even the more intelligent dragons are usually subservient to their riders (or at least seem to be/are treated as though they are).

This trope will keep coming back because dragons are cool and a dragon you can fly on is cooler.

May sometimes be called wyverns, a different dragon-like mythical creature. Most stories that have both depict wyverns as being smaller and less intelligent (often non-sapient) compared to "true dragons", explaining why they're able to be tamed and ridden by humans.

Compare Dragon Knight, Giant Flyer, Beast of Battle, and Horse of a Different Color. Contrast Shoulder-Sized Dragon, a dragon that rides you! Not to be confused with the former name of the manned version of the SpaceX Dragon capsule (now called Dragon 2), or with Interspecies Romance. Dragon Riders are often also Dragon Tamers since their line of work often involves training their mounts.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Blue Ramun: The Northern land of Seldia uses tamed dragons as a means of swift aerial transport for small groups of soldiers and diplomats. Highly trained soldiers called Dragon Tamers are the ones who pilot the creatures. Idee Pomero is the only named Dragon Tamer in the series, and he only appears in a handful of chapters (working with the protagonist's love interest's brother as combination chauffeur/ bodyguard). Seldia's Dragon Tamers also put in an appearance as flying cavalry during the final battle against the antagonists.
  • Digimon Adventure: Tai is often seen riding MetalGreymon and WarGreymon (the latter is specifically a dragon). This could also apply to Davis and Ken, Takato, and Marcus Damon. (Takuya doesn't ride a dragon, he becomes one!)
  • Dragonar Academy: Nearly every single character is a Dragon Rider, since it's a school for raising and riding Dragons.
  • Dragonaut: The Resonance: The ISDA Dragonauts ride shapechanging dragons. Though theirs have conformal cockpit modules to cope with things like breathing in deep space.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The second opening depicts Gohan, Goten, and Trunks riding on top of Shenron's head.
  • Dragon Knights: Each knight comes with a dragon matching their element and a sword to keep them in.
  • Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan: The D-Pilots are an interesting variant; the dragons themselves have to wear armor to disguise them as fighter planes in order to keep up the Masquerade, and their pilots "ride" them from inside their stomachs, wearing special suits that protect them from stomach acid and using holograms to be able to see outside of their dragons.
  • There're some (albeit few) dragon riders in the hentai anime Dragon Rider, who fight demonic invaders. Also, their dragons can turn into beautiful girls. So, now you have dragons, ahem, "riding" their dragon riders.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • After summoning seven dragons from the past, Future Rogue commands them while on the back of the heavily armored Motherglare. Natsu, after convincing the Wreathed in Flames Atlas Flame to help the humans, goes after Rogue while on the dragon's back.
    • Parodied in Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, where Touka thought that Happy the Exceed was riding on Natsu (the Fire Dragon Slayer) instead of Happy carrying Natsu like usual. This mix-up also leads to Touka thinking that Happy's name was Natsu and that the real Natsu was his steed.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: Caro, once she's able to control Friedrich's fully grown form. Friedrich allows Erio to ride him as well.
  • Mashin Hero Wataru Series: Deformed mecha (not so humongous, 4~5 metres at most) is a standard weapon of choice in that world, the hero's mecha is a clay model he made for an art lesson which one of the 7 dragons of the second world took to fight other mecha. The cockpit is in hyperspace where the hero stands on a metal dragon statue and held on the two horns, where other mecha got more common cockpit controls with their own style(like bamboo sticks).
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid:
    • Kobayashi has ridden Tohru on several occasions, but she doesn't like doing so that often because riding on the back of a massive scaled creature flying at high speeds is really uncomfortable.
    • Kanna inverts it then plays it straight in the anime, first riding on Saikawa's back during the Christmas Party, and then giving Kobayashi a ride to get to Tohru when she's fighting her father in the finale.
    • Shouta rides Lucoa later on in the manga. Of course, Lucoa's dragon form is so massive that he barely appears as a speck on her forehead.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Trainers with Dragon-type Pokémon can sometimes be seen riding them.
    • Ash has his Dragon-in-everything-but-official-type Charizard, most iconically ridden in the third movie during his pivotal battle against Entei. Later, as the party tries to escape the collapsing crystal fortress created by the Unown, Ash places Molly Hale on Charizard’s back to help get her out quickly and safely. Later on, Ash acquired his own Dragonite and flies on it as well.
      • Alain, Liza and Kiawe also ride on their Charizard.
    • Lance has his Dragonite, which he rides in a couple of the games as well.
    • Pokémon: The First Movie: While not a Dragon-type pokemon, Gyarados can give any sea serpent a run for its money. Aside from our protagonists, Fergus is one of only three trainers to cross the raging sea to New Island, and he does so by riding Gyarados.
    • Pokemon Hunter J had a Salamence, as did the magician Butler. Carlita had a Hydreigon in the 'Victini and Reshiram/Zekrom' movies.
    • In Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon series, aside from Kiawe's aforementioned Charizard, and Sophocles riding a Metang, each member of the Ultra Guardians rides a Dragon-type; Ash rides a Garchomp, Lillie rides an Altaria, Mallow rides a Flygon, Lana rides a Dragonair, and Gladion rides a Noivern.
  • Record of Lodoss War: The kingdom of Moss has Dragon Riders as its chief defining characteristic. After she leaves the party, one of the heroes, Shiris, marries their prince and becomes their leader.
  • Saiyuki has a variation; Cho Hakkai does have a pet dragon, but he's too small to ride—instead he shapeshifts into a jeep, and they travel on him that way.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: The Humongous Mecha Escaflowne can transform into a dragon, which is controlled in Dragon Rider fashion as opposed to the standard internal cockpit.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: During the Legendary Heroes arc, Yugi, Jonouchi, and Mai mount Winged Dragon, Guardian of the Fortress #1 to escape a collapasing airship.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Action Duels allow the duelist to ride the monsters that they summon. Considering the franchise's fascination with dragons, this trope is to be expected. In fact, Yuya ace monster is a dragon (Odd-Eyes Pendulum dragon, to be precise), and is seen riding it during the opening.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Whenever Jack and Yusei summon their respective Majestic Red/Star Dragon they go inside of its body. So we have Yusei, riding his Duel Runner inside of a dragon.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters: All of the main characters except Yugi get dragons to ride on.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Kargan Dragonlord uses the level-up mechanic to start out as some random guy, who then gets a small dragon, then either upgrades or raises it to be a giant firebreathing one.
    • Battlebond, a small set thematically centered around partner pairs whose members come from philosophically opposed colors, includes the dragon Khorvath Brightflame and his rider, the human knight Sylvia Brightspear.
  • Munchkin: One expansion packs adds a number of mounts. The Dragon is the most powerful mount, but cannot be upgraded, because "It already flies, breathes fire, etc...", making it more powerful than most mounts but less powerful than a fire-breathing flying tiger.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Several monsters are depicted this way. Additionally, some Fusion Monsters are deliberate combinations of dragons and humanoid warriors:
    • Alligator's Sword Dragon - Alligator’s Sword + Baby Dragon
    • Dark Blade the Dragon Knight - Dark Blade + Pitch-Dark Dragon
    • Dark Magician Girl The Dragon Knight - Dark Magician Girl + any Dragon-type Monster card
    • Gaia the Dragon Champion - Gaia the Fierce Knight + ''Curse of Dragon
    • Master of Dragon Soldier - Black Luster Soldier + Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon
    • Michael, Lightsworn Lord rides Judgment Dragon in his card art, indicating that he is the true leader of the Lightsworn, as he has tamed their mightiest beast. Paladin of White Dragon is also depicted this way. Dragon Manipulator is seen riding a dragon on his card's art and has the ability to take control of a dragon on the opponent's side of the field.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Dragon riders show up as mercenary forces on occasion. At the end of the series, the dragons wake up, recall that the pact was to last until the end of the world... which is due in a few weeks, so they torch the riders and cut in line through the portals to the new world Wis is running. The Emperor also has a huge dragon, but it's never seen to talk.
  • Dragonlords: The Morg use dragons as mounts.
  • Hawkman has a Nazi villain called "White Dragon" who has this as his only superpower.
  • Lands of Arran: Elfes: Some of the series' protagonist manage to bond with a dragon and ride them in combat. For instance Fall, protagonist of Volume 3, rides a great white dragon. Meanwhile in Volume 20, Gaw'Yn the Dark Elf has bonded and asserted his dominance over a whole flock of dragons.
  • Magic Trixie: In "Magic Trixie And The Dragon", when Trixie, Scratches, and her aunt go to the circus, they see dragon riders performing them. One of them, Wyatt, is dating Magic Trixie's older sister, Tansy. Seeing them in action makes Trixie want a pet dragon.
  • Starlight: Duke is seen riding a dragon in a flashback.
  • Supergirl: In Supergirl (2011) #10: Rescuer'', Supergirl rides a Kryptonian black Flamedragon when facing the Black Banshee in a Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • X-Men:
    • Colossus once pulled this off, in order to provide Cyclops and Wolverine with a flying rescue. How did he obtain a dragon? Well, he waited until it attacked him... but he's literally Made of Iron, so it's okay.
    • Kitty Pryde also has a pet alien dragon named Lockheed that occasionally has the ability to grow large enough to carry her and the other X-men.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "The Nine Peahens and the Golden Apples": Inverted; the dragon rides a horse.
  • "Heart of Ice (Andrew Lang)": Fairy Gorgonzola, who travels on dragonback, is perhaps one of the earliest examples.
  • "Solomonari": Solomonar or Șolomonar are wizards from Romanian Mythology believed to not only ride dragons, but control the weather; originally just another branch of mystics, over time Christianity demonized them into hail-and-lightning-summoning hell-beast-riders and invented a counterpart, the Master Stonemasons, former Solomonar who gave up the life of a magician in order to live amongst normal people.

    Fan Works 
  • Anonymoose's Monster Girl Saga has the dragoons of Domdracveria, who ride wyverns. Wyverns, like all other monsters in the setting, have been transformed into Cute Monster Girls, so the dragoons also marry their mounts. The wyverns can temporarily revert to their original monstrous forms to allow dragoons to ride them.
  • Between My Brother and Me: Mors Omnibus, a crossover between Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, has a high chance of Action Duels with duelists riding dragons taking effect.
    • Ash rides on top of Wattaildragon in his duel against Mieru.
    • In their tag team clash — Yuya vs Zarc and Yvonne vs Yusho — both Yuya and Yvonne ride dragons (Nightmare Mirror Pendulum Dragon for the former and the dragon half of El Shaddoll Windanote  for the latter).
  • The Chaotic Masters: When Mulan was corrupted by the Masters, she brought Mushu along with her, and the Masters altered him to give him the ability to alter his size like Dojo, allowing him to act as transportation for them and their brides.
  • Crimson and Noire: After Jagged Stone gets Akumatize to Molten Rock and his crocodile Fang gets turned into his dragon, Lady Noir manages to get through to Fang to keep him from attacking her and Crimson Beetle. And with Crimson’s Lucky Charm giving them a harness, the two ride on Fang toward Molten to take him down.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Arlo picks up Spark for their first date on his Salamence, which they ride to and from the restaurant.
  • Harry Potter fanfiction occasionally makes Harry himself a dragon-rider (most notably The Queen Who Fell To Earth and its sequels). Like a Red-Headed Stepchild has the entire Weasley clan ride dragons against the Death Eaters, and The Parselmouth of Gryffindor features a dragon-rider Giant Spider.
  • Ice and Fire (Minecraft): Players can ride tamed dragons hatched from eggs dropped by wild ones. Tame dragons can be equipped with armor and made to attack and breathe fire, frost or lightning on command.
  • This Bites!: Bartolomeo helps Luffy in their fight against Shiki by flying on the back of his dragon crewmate Lindy.
  • With Strings Attached: George twice turns into a red dragon so he can fly several people to some inconvenient place. The problem is that he's too big to straddle, so whomever's riding him has to hang on as best he can — not a problem for the extremely strong Paul or even the Hunter, but a total impossibility for Ringo unless someone hangs onto him as well.
  • You'll Get No Answers from the Blue Sea Star: It's wyverns, wyverns everywhere. Jo's wyvern friend, Dessie, plays a key role at several points in the story, and both Jo and Seteth are shown to be experienced riders, which becomes a way for them to bond.

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie & The Diamond Castle: Lydia, the villain, has a loyal dragon as her main minion, and she occasionally rides on his back, especially when making her Not Quite Dead Entrance.
  • Heavy Metal: Taarna is a variant — she rides on the back of a loyal, draconic bird throughout her segment in the film, but it's not clear if the thing is supposed to be a dragon, an alien or what.
  • How to Train Your Dragon follows a young boy who finds an injured dragon and befriends it. There's quite a bit of dragon-riding in the process.
    • Toothless needs a rider to operate the stabilizer prosthetic which lets him fly. He's something like a draconic version of a proto-human: he demonstrates extremely high levels of "people smarts", eventually comes to understand Hiccup's speech to a great extent, and is capable of abstract reasoning and problem-solving — when the other dragons are battling the Vikings, Toothless is attacking the catapults. By the third film, he's reached the point where he can recognize and eventually create artistic depictions of himself and others.
    • The other named dragons, Stormfly, Meatlug, Hookfang, and Barf and Belch, are ridden by Hiccup's first students.
  • Shrek: Donkey accidentally romances a female dragon, then she escapes from the castle and provides him and Shrek speedy transportation to Duloc.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar: Four-winged pterosaur-things are powerful hunting mounts, and may bond to a single Na'vi for life, after you fight them. The common flying mounts in Avatar are the ikran, or banshees. Bonding with one is seen as a rite of passage, and we see many Na'vi ride them (there are implications that most, if not all, Na'vi have a banshee partner). The grand-daddy of all of Avatar's winged beasts in named the Great Leonopteryx to humans, and Toruk by the Na'vi, which translates to "Last Shadow". Riding this creature (who looks even more dragon-like than the banshees) requires such badassery that Na'vi history records only five examples of someone doing it, and the previous Toruk Makto united the disparate Na'vi tribes at a time of great need. This becomes a main plot point towards the end of the movie, where the main character becomes the sixth person in history to bond to Toruk.
  • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: Mecha-King Ghidorah is an interesting variation in that one of the characters rides INSIDE of him. Of course, he is a giant, three-headed, mutated, cyborg dragon.
  • Hellboy (2019): Hellboy has a vision of himself riding a chained dragon.
  • The Neverending Story: Both protagonists, Atreyu and Bastian, get their share of flying the luckdragon Falkor.
  • The Railway Dragon: Emily occasionally sits on the dragon's tail when he is standing or walking. It is not until leaving the Dragon's celebrations that she convinces him to let her ride on his back, which she loves and indeed the dragon (who hasn't flown in 100 years) enjoys it as well. In the 1992 sequel The Birthday Dragon, Emily rides on the dragon's back twice; first to the zoo to return all the animals the dragon brought her as a birthday present, and the second time for fun on the way back to the Dragon's home in the railway tunnel, as she and the dragon are now good friends (which is proved when the dragon catches her after she falls off his back during the flight).
  • Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith: Obi-Wan rides Boga, a varactyl — an alien animal resembling a four-legged, wingless, feathered dragon — while deployed to Utapau. She falls with Obi-Wan when Order 66 occurs, but according to the expanded material she survives the fall.

  • In Romanian Folklore, a group of wizards aligned with the devil, called the Solomonari ride dragons causing lightning and hail. In some versions the type if dragon is called a balaur, which typically live in deep lakes and are brought out with golden reins.

  • Age of Fire: Two separate examples appear in the series:
    • In the first novel, dragons are being subjugated to be used as mounts, treated more like giant, firebreathing horses, complete with selective breeding. The later half of the book details their defeat.
    • The second type is used by an actual dragon civilization. Humans bond with their dragons and get to ride on a saddle, but it's obvious that the dragon is in charge of that relationship.
  • All The Skills - A Deckbuilding LitRPG: Dragons are sapient, and each is born with a card at their heart that can bond with someone whose heart deck holds a compatible card, resulting in a third card power formed from their synergy. Dragon riders are an important strategic asset in fighting back scourge infestations.
  • Bazil Broketail: Mostly averted in the series. The named character is a dragon, with no wings but bipedal (and can't breathe fire either), but he has (like all war-dragons of his culture) a squire (called a "dragonboy" here) named Relkin, who is depicted on the cover of the first book as riding him. Dragonboys are not however dedicated riders, but attend the dragons (used to counter the bad guy's trolls and ogres) by doing things like camp chores, cooking and keeping their dragon's weapons and armor in fighting trim, as well as occasional fighting by standing behind their dragons under the tail and engaging any infantry who try to flank the dragon to hamstring them.
  • The Book Of Wonder: This 1912 collection of short stories features two dragon riders. One, a knight who threatens a dragon into becoming his steed (the dragon well knows how knights fare against dragons in tales). The other, a story about a teenage girl who is captured by a dragon who puts her under an enchantment. She rides him into the fabled lands of romance with pirates and elves, where she never ages.
  • Cerberon: Robert and Agnes at one point on the back of Prince Aeronweyir, who's a dragon. They're only playing, since the Prince is fond of children. The dragons are only about the size of a human, and are the ultimate masters of the world. They can magically enlarge themselves to carry others (one is large enough to carry two people and the carriage they're riding in). There is no such thing as Dragon Riders in this world.
  • Chronicles of the Emerged World features Dragon Knights, elite troops able to ride dragons in battle. When a dragon and a rider pair up their bond is forever, and Nihal is the only person who managed to tame a dragon who lost his rider.
    • Most dragon riders in the series belong to a specific order of Dragon Knights based in the Land of the Sun. Both Nihal and Ido are part of this order and have partnered dragons, Oarf for Nihal and Vesa for Ido.
    • A secondary order of Dragon Knights, technically a subset of the first but in practice a largely independent group, is based in the Land of the Sea and rides the smaller species of serpentine blue dragons found there.
    • The Tyrant has at least four Black Dragon Knights serving him, including Dola, Deinoforo and the Creepy Twins Dameion and Sameion.
  • The Colour of Magic: The Wyrmberg sequence parodies this trope and its users, most especially Pern. Noble Dragons on the Disc are a semi-imaginary species who can only exist in strong magical fields, such as the one surrounding the Wyrmberg. The deceased leader of the dragonriders says that the wimpy dragons summoned by his children are due to their lack of imagination, and congratulates Twoflower on creating a dragon almost as impressive as his own. Unfortunately, Twoflower then rides it away from the Wyrmberg, whereupon it disappears again.
  • Companions Codex: In the climax of Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf, the final book, Drizzt rides the copper dragon Ilnezhara in a dogfight against Tiago on Arauthator, an ancient white dragon. In the background of this confrontation there is also Tos'un Armgo who rides Arauthator's son Aurbangras.
  • Council Wars: The Emerald Sea: There's one sapient dragon that reluctantly allows herself to be ridden by the main protagonist, who leads a squadron of nonsapient wyverns carrying human riders that are used along the lines of real life horses, with the obvious addition of being able to fly. The beasts fly from a specially designed sailing ship, in an obvious fantasy analog to modern aircraft carriers.
  • The Crocodile God: The Filipino-based Mythopoeia strongly references this, though as the Philippines are descended from seafaring Austronesians and the dragons in question are Asian-type Sea Monsters, it has a much different flavor than the usual trope.
    Haik: The old days were when the dragons still lived, the crocodile's ancestors. They carried us across the water, so we did not need ships.
  • Darkness Series: Dragons are commonly used for aerial combat, but are nasty, foul-tempered, violent, and stupid creatures who have to be cruelly treated from birth in order to discourage them from killing their riders.
  • A Day of Fallen Night: Dumai bonds with the royal dragon of Seiiki, Furtia Stormcaller. The royals of Seiiki traditionally defended the realm on dragonback, so they dig a saddle out of storage for Dumai and a good chunk of her story is flying here and there around the East trying to understand the threat of the wyrms and gain support from other Eastern nations. The end of the book shows Nikeya laying the foundations for the dragonriders we see in Priory, stipulating that they should be drawn from all corners of society.
  • Deverry: Rhodry in the second series. As this dragon is not exactly a willing ally, he's needed to keep her under control. Also played with a bit as Rhodry tries unsuccessfully to find a way to fight from dragonback. He ends up simply using the dragon to frighten the horses of the enemy, something that is valuable in itself as the enemy are horse nomads. (And a powerful magician makes the horses on Rhodry's side immune to the fear effect.)
  • Dinotopia: The Skybax riders fly on giant pterosaurs of the Quetzalcoatlus genus. Riders have no way to control their mounts, though they can lean in the saddle — which is shaped so they must lie on their stomachs — or speak to ask the skybax to move in one way or another.
  • Dracopedia: Dragonettes are small herbivorous dragons that look sort of like flying Gallimimus and were trained to be used as steeds during many battles, including the American Civil War and World War I. Riding them is still commonplace even today, but only for recreational purposes, as the use of dragonettes in war was slowly replaced by aircraft. Additionally, there's a shoulder-sized variant called the "messenger" or "courier" dragonette, which is depicted as the draconic equivalent to an Instant Messenger Pigeon.
  • Dragon and Damsel: Later in the book, Azrael does allow Bernadette to ride on his back. Bernadette is for the most part just a passenger: Azrael is the one who flies, and ultimately decides where they go, but she does help him come up with plans and possible routes.
  • Dragonback: Turned on its head, as the alien K'da, who look very like wingless dragons, go from three-dimensional to two-dimensional and ride on humanoid hosts like Animated Tattoos. They have a lot of abilities superior to human ones, which one host, Jack, notes with some discomfort — they're very strong and fast, can leap far, see differently, and have strong retractile claws that let them cut through metal — but they need to rest against a host's skin every six hours or they die. One of them notes that his kind make for good companions, servants, and friends to humanoids, they cannot be the masters. Also, if they've been with a human long enough, then they have telepathy with said human while riding him or her. K'da are also on the small side, explicitly unable to carry their human partners on their backs, though Draycos is able to climb trees and cliffs while Jack clings to his tail and is dragged up.
  • Dragon Companion: Thomas Whitehead is just a humble librarian, until he stumbles into a fantasy world, befriends a dragon, and learns that librarians and Dragon Companions are among the highest-ranked individuals in his new world.
  • Dragon Jousters features two warring countries each fielding jousters mounted on, you guessed it, dragons. The dragons in this series are small(ish), do not breathe fire, and are about as intelligent as the average apex predator. Dragons raised from the egg, so that they imprint on their riders, are capable of impressive feats at the direction of their humans, but raising a dragon this way requires time and extreme dedication. The wild-caught dragons are kept passive by being continuously drugged and live a rather miserable existence. Thus, the protagonists are the ones who go through the effort of raising their own dragons.
  • Dragonlance: The world of Krynn teems with intelligent flying dragons. Because the setting was developed during the 1980s to be a campaign world for Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game, the dragons were Color-Coded for Your Convenience into metallic dragons (good) and chromatic dragons (evil). Both sides, the Knights of Solamnia (followers of the good god Paladine, called the Platinum Dragon) and the Knights of Takhisis (followers of the evil Dragon Queen Takhisis) rode dragons into battle. Initially outnumbered, the side of good gained the upper hand once a famous smith, blessed by the gods, forged magical weapons called dragonlances for them. Dragonlances and dragon riders featured most notable in The Dragonlance Chronicles and the novel The Legend of Huma. There's also a series of "Practical Guide" books set in the Dragonlance universe, starting with A Practical Guide To Dragons and later including A Practical Guide to Dragon Riding. The number one lesson about dragon riding? Treat your dragon with respect because it knows it doesn't need you.
  • The Dragon Masters: Played with. The humans of Aerlith are at war with the basics, a reptilian race from Coralyne, and both sides have subjected their prisoners of war to genetic engineering and use them as beasts of battle. The human armies ride into battle atop monstrous lizards, while the lizard armies use mutant apes.
  • Dragon Rider is not as focused on this trope as one would expect. Although the main human character does in fact ride on the dragon's back, it's simply because this is the only way to transport him. Said dragon (Firedrake) is Walking the Earth, looking for a valley for the dragons to move to, and acquires the main human character as a Tagalong Kid, as he's a Heartwarming Orphan who Firedrake decides to help. However, it is stated that humans who bond with dragons and ride them do get some special powers, such as extended life and healing abilities, as they find out in a Pakistani village. Overall, though, this isn't too important to the plot. We learn more about why dragons sometimes need riders (whether humans or brownies) in the sequel, The Griffin's Feather. Although the silver dragons are usually gentle, they can go berserk if they see anyone mistreating someone they care about, and need a rider calming them down in order to behave rationally. Also, the silver dragons can usually only fly by moonlight, but in an emergency where they have to fly day and night, riders can feed them moonflowers to give them the strength to keep going.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: The Trope Codifier. Dragons form a personal, psychic bond with their riders (whom they choose) when they hatch and commit suicide without exception when their riders die (although a nesting Queen will remain alive until the day her eggs hatch). This goes the other way to a slightly lesser extent — it's considered a rare exception when a rider survives losing his dragon, and most of the ones that do end up committing suicide anyway. Those that don't end up an Empty Shell, even if they do find something else to live for. In the backstory, the dragons were genetically engineered specifically for the purpose of serving as mounts. The colonists needed something to incinerate the Thread before it reached the ground and ate everything organic, and it so happened that Pern had a native species of small flying lizards whose caustic breath could destroy the Thread — once modified to be larger, these made very useful mounts.
  • Dragon School by Sarah K.L. Wilson features sixteen-year-old Amel, who has a crushed hip and leg and decides to become a Dragon Rider to provide for herself. Dragon riding is a very dangerous profession where many don't survive the first year of training, so they can't afford to turn her away, but most expect her to falter easy. Raolcan, a very ornery purple dragon, decides he likes her spirit and chooses her as rider.
  • Dragonskin Slippers: The dragons are more than happy to allow their human friends to ride... if they ask first, and only friends. In later books, some of the dragons object, thinking it below them to carry humans.
  • Earthsea: Ged earns the title of Dragon Lord simply because he's one of the few humans the dragons will deign to speak with. So when the most ancient dragon gives him a lift home, it's a significant mark of honor.
  • The Elric Saga: The dragons of Melnibone and their riders are pretty much the island's military trump card... although limited by the fact that, by the time the stories are set at least, the dragons need a lot of sleep for every brief period of activity. Arguably an Ur-Example, as "The Dreaming City" predated Dragonriders of Pern by ~6 years.
  • Fablehaven: Mostly averted. Dragons are proud creatures who view humans as mice and would die of shame if they were ridden by one. Raxtus would let his human allies ride him if he could, but his back is far too spiky to carry a rider. He carries humans in his claws. He also lampshades the trope, saying that, if dragons relied solely on physics rather than using magic as support, they wouldn't get off the ground with or without a rider. It's eventually played straight in the final book, when Agad rides Camarat. According to Raxtus, this is only because the two are brothersnote , and it's just this once.
  • The Halfblood Chronicles:
    • Parodied. One of the heroic Dragons gives a ride to a character who has just joined with the heroes. They both come away from the experience saying that it had to be the most uncomfortable way to travel imaginable.
    • Shana, the half-elf protagonist of The Elvenbane, was Raised By Dragons and occasionally rides her brother Keman. However, it's very uncomfortable.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The night before the biggest Quidditch match of his life, Harry has a number of anxiety-induced dreams, including one where the opposing team arrives at the match riding dragons, which scares him so much it jolts him awake.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Deconstructed when it turns out that trying to ride a dragon is a bad idea, and potentially hazardous to your health. They do ride one at one point, mostly by setting it free from where it was trapped and desperately hanging on as it flies off, but it was very old and blind and in very poor health, meaning that the possibility of crashing and dying was a greater worry for the would-be riders than that of being eaten.
  • Havemercy features dragon riders pretty heavily, although the dragons are Clock Punk Magitek rather than biological creatures.
  • Heart of Dread: It turns out at the end of Frozen that Natasha is a drakonrydder, and summons a dragon from the ocean.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: In the original books, Hiccup is also a dragonrider. However, book-Toothless is far too small to ride, and Hiccup's riding dragon is an unnamed Windwalker.
  • The Immortals: Daine does this once, but the dragons who allow her to ride them are looked down upon by the Dragonmeet. (They have a debt to repay her). In general, the dragons are far more educated and powerful than humans, and are happy to show it off.
  • Inheritance Cycle: Dragon riders were very important in the backstory, serving as an international peacekeeping force of sorts, but were almost entirely destroyed when one of the own decided to make himself king. Humans who become riders tend to look slightly elvish (perhaps because the spell that allows humans and elves to bond with dragons was cast by elves) after a while, and gain stronger-than-average magic power, making them decidedly less useless (especially since dragons in the cycle can't reliably use magic themselves, other than their innately magical abilities like breathing fire). Additionally, there is a lot of subtext that implies that, while dragons in the wild are incredibly intelligent, it is only the ones that bond with riders who have mastery over language and all the "civilized" attributes that entails, while the bonded riders gain a ferocity and battle prowess of the dragon's natural killer instincts. Originally, only elves could become riders; this ability was extended to humans as part of an ancient peace treaty. At the end of the series, this is further amended to include dwarves and urgals.
  • The Invisible Library: Kai normally appears to be a human, but if there's enough space for him to take his true draconic form, and doing so will not cause a panic or the situation is dire enough that he doesn't care if it does, he will let Irene ride on his back.
  • The Iron Dragon's Daughter: Dragons are mechanical beasts that are used as that 'verse's equivalent of fighter jets, complete with missiles. They are sapient, but their subservience is justified in that they cannot move, let alone fly or fight, without a pilot.
  • Jackelian Series: Aerial guardsmen in service to the Caliph Eternal of Cassarabia ride huge, non-fire-breathing winged reptiles called draks that share an unique, lifelong bond with their riders. An unusually grim variant, as the draks in question are the product of Magitek genetic engineering, gestated in the wombs of unwilling slave women, and brewed up by blending their intended rider's DNA with animal genes.
  • Journey to the West: Xuanzang's horse gets eaten by a hungry dragon early in the pilgrimage to India. As penance, the dragon gets turned into a horse and is obliged to fill in for the horse it ate. Xuanzang never gets to ride the dragon in its natural dragon form, though.
  • Kindling Ashes: There were a lot of them about twenty years pre-story. They were the best defense Auland had against the Ikjorians and the Firesouls want to become the next generation of them.
  • Magic: The Gathering: In the novel Time Streams, Urza Planeswalker and his ally Mage Master Barrin ride into the final battle astride the dragons Gheridarigaaz and Rhammidarigaaz, respectively.
  • A Memory of Flames is basically a huge deconstruction of this trope. People do ride dragons, in much the same way that knights rode horses, and the dragons themselves are similar to modern fantasy — they speak telepathically, can form bonds with humans, immortal, etc. The downside? The dragons hate their slavery, and are regularly drugged to keep them docile. The series kicks off just before a dragon manages to break free of its bonds... and the total carnage that follows this.
  • The Neverending Story features a "luckdragon" as a mount. (He's described much like an Eastern dragon with the face of a lion, but has more of a dog's face in The Film of the Book.)
  • The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory features dragon riders, most notably the elf Jermayan in the later books. Bonus points because apparently if a dragon lacks a rider they can't mate, and they can only properly bond with one person in their lifetime (and when one dies, the other dies with them), but they're ageless before that (claw?), so that's all right. A rather funny note is that that the dragon Ancaladar has no problem with his link Jermayan riding him, but repeatedly states "I am not a horse" if others try. He still agrees to ferry children though after being guilt-tripped into it.
  • Ology Series: Dragonology dedicates a short chapter to techniques for riding dragons, something preferably done with the dragon's permission.
  • Pit Dragon Chronicles: Subverted. The protagonist bonds with a baby dragon and excitedly wonders if he can ride it when it gets big enough, but another character informs him that a dragon might be able to bear him, but the scales would tear his skin. She also makes a cringe-inducing comment about treating men who'd tried riding even walking dragons. In a later book it's said that a dragon would probably cramp. At one point in the second book, the dragon does carry the boy... by flying while clutching a cloth under herself that the boy precariously hangs from. One of her claws is wrenched out of her toe by this exertion, though.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree: Tané's story begins with her goal to become a dragon rider in Seiiki and making a disastrous decision to protect this desire. The dragon riders all become part of Clan Miduchi regardless of their origins, and many are outcasts or orphans who were taken in by the House of Learning. Their duties consist of patrolling the skies and seas around Seiiki, and the whole corps is marshalled for the Final Battle against the Nameless One and his wyrm army.
  • Realm of the Elderlings: Attempted but subverted in the backstory. It's possible to make a dragon by carving it out of a special stone and then placing your essence into it, basically becoming the dragon. One dragon-maker tried to dodge this by making her carving that of a girl on a dragon and putting herself only into the girl. It didn't work, and the result is a chimera with the girl as just another part of the whole dragon.
  • The Reluctant King: In an extremely mundane example, Paaluan cannibals use howdah-like platforms mounted on their Paaluan Dragons (essentially, oversized monitor lizards) when going to waon culinary expeditions.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: The Valheru are a Proud Warrior Race. They are more commonly known as Dragon Lords for taming and riding dragons, across space, to wage war and plunder empires of other worlds.
  • Secret Series: In Bad News, a book in a Sequel Series, the main character Clay becomes this, sort of. The book makes it clear that it's really more of a case of Dragon Rides You. As it turns out, this is one case where the dragon is definitely not subservient to the master. In fact, the dragon would be deeply offended at the idea of any human "rider" being a master.
  • Shatter the Sky: The Empire of Zefed has them, called Talons, the dragon guard. Earning the right to ride a dragon however is difficult. Only the Zefedi are given them. The Verran people had them originally before the Zefedi conquered them. However, they are still in the dragon mountains as dragons will die if taken away too far. Verrans are barred from work in the fortress housing the dragons and riders. All the Verrans despise it. Long ago, the Verrans had ridden dragons as well and even breathed fire too it's said. They were only defeated after a Zefedi emperor stole them, which explains their animus for this. The bond between a rider and dragon is reputedly unbreakable when raised up from a hatchling. Maren infiltrates where the dragons are raised to get one so she can become a dragon rider and go rescue her girlfriend, who has been taken captive by the emperor's servants. Different oils are used to control and train the dragons it's revealed, which Maren learns about. She eventually rides a dragon herself, through winning her trust instead of control with the oils. It turns out that the emperor is himself a dragon rider, riding the biggest one, named Vix the Ruiner. The Senatese, a people who he wants to conquer, also have (free) dragons whom they ride it's revealed, and defeated his own dragon riders through using them. Control over dragons is what makes the empire so powerful since no human soldiers can beat them. The dragon riders (called Talons) are thus the most elite soldiers the empire has.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Valyrians tamed and rode dragons; after Valyria's cataclysmic destruction, the only surviving dragonriders and dragons became the Targaryens and their mounts, who survived the Doom by having lived on a distant outpost. Dragons are immensely powerful beasts, especially at their huge adult sizes, but aren't sapient and need a very forceful riders to give them direction. A dragon and its rider form a strong bond, and dragons will not accept any rider but their current one, although they will be open to new riders once their old one dies. Forming this bond is potentially very dangerous, since if it doesn't take the dragon is likely to eat its would-be rider. The combination was potent enough that Valyria was able to spread unchallenged over most of of Essos, and Aegon the Conqueror took over most of the continent of Westeros simply because he had three of them at his disposal while his opponents had never even seen a dragon before. However, in the present-day time frame of the books (some 300 years after Aegon's landing), the dragons are extinct. At least until Danaerys Targaryen resurrects three seemingly-fossilized dragon eggs and begins planning an invasion of similar scope to her ancestors. However because the art of training a dragon has been lost, she has no idea how to do so. At the end of A Dance With Dragons she's finally managed to ride a dragon, although she hasn't yet mastered it.
    • It should be noted that while having Valyrian ancestry is often touted as a prerequisite to become a dragon rider, the exact rules are unknown. Many bastard Targaryen/Velaryon candidates Rhaenyra Targaryen picked during the Dance of the Dragons ended up getting mortally injured or straight up roasted to death attempting to ride previously-claimed dragons. Conversely, Nettles, a lowborn woman with no Valyrian ancestry to speak of, tamed the wild dragon Sheepstealer with the Mundane Solution of feeding him his favorite food every day until he got used to her.
  • Star Wars Legends: Ancient Mandalorian warriors often rode into battle on the backs of four-legged, winged draconic aliens. In a darker take on this trope, these dragons weren't willing mounts, but a sapient species, the Basiliskans, that the Mandalorians defeated and enslaved; eventually, the brutality of their subjugation caused them to degenerate into simple beasts.
  • Sword of Truth: Several people end up riding dragons in the series. It's established early on that red dragons, the most intelligent, devious ones, would never stoop to letting a human ride them, so the eventual riders have to pull some tricks to do it. In the first book, Darken Rahl blackmails a red dragon named Scarlet into serving as his mount by stealing its egg. Later on, Richard, in exchange for saving that egg, is allowed to ride Scarlet for the rest of the book, and once more as a favor in the next book. Much later on, the villainous Six uses Scarlet's hatchling as a mount, by taking Scarlet hostage.
  • Tales of Kolmar: Subverted in Song in the Silence. The humans are initially forbidden to cross into the dragon's territory, and killed on sight if they disobey. When a handful of humans eventually befriend the dragons, the dragons agree to be ridden for the sake of covering distance faster when emergencies come up. However, while it seems to work okay when the dragon is walking or running with a human just behind his or her head, flying like this makes for a very sore neck. The dragons have an easier time carrying humans in their hands while flying, but they have to keep the humans close to their scales to keep them from freezing, and landing while their forelegs are full is extremely difficult.
  • Temeraire features dragon riders in an Alternate History version of the Napoleonic Wars. In contrast to the usual single-rider form that this trope takes, the dragons are used as living military airplanes or airships, with crews of up to thirty men led by a captain. Extremely maneuverable and self-aware airships, with flamethrowers, water cannons, acid bombs or sonic generators (different dragon breeds have different military uses), in addition to whatever ordnance and rifles the crew is carrying — specialized sections of a dragon's crew include bombers for attacking targets on the ground and riflemen for strafing enemy dragons and crews.
    • Of course, the fact that the dragons are treated as living weapons rather than actual people becomes a major issue from the second book onward. For instance, the dragons start demanding payment, work opportunities outside of the military, proper shelter, and the right to not take a captain. This also happens to be the European mindset toward dragons (although this may be limited to Britain's citizens and non-aerial military divisions). Later books in the series point out that dragons are well-respected and active members of society in China, and that many African tribes view dragons as the reincarnated spirits of their ancestors.
    • As with many depictions of dragon riders in fiction, most dragons do have a strong bond with their captain, which wavers between a close friendship, a parent to their captain, and also their captain's child, a bond strong enough that the threat of harming a dragon's captain is commonly used against dragons to blackmail them into behaving. It's noted that dragon-captains rarely get married because it's hard dividing attention between a jealous dragon and a spouse. Unlike many fictional dragon-rider bonds, it's more like an animal imprint than anything magical or mystical, and some dragons have rejected their captains.
  • To Shape a Dragon's Breath: Dragons are born small, but eventually become large enough to be ridden by those they've bonded with. In Anglish society this means being trained from young ages to accept tack the same way horses would be.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • Lord of the Rings: Downplayed by the Nazgûl, who ride pterosaur-like creatures.
    • The Silmarillion: Morgoth uses Balrogs mounted on dragons in several battles. However, prior to the War of Wrath, these were non-flying dragons.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: Dragons are usually willing to give the female heroes a lift, whom they appear closer with than male ones.
  • The Wheel of Time: Downplayed with the raken and to'raken, large flying lizards used by the Seanchan Empire. They're mundane animals with a maximum load of 1000 pounds, so the fliers hold respected positions in the military, but are primarily used as scouts, messengers, and high-speed transports.
  • A Wizard in Rhyme: The protagonist befriends a crippled dragon early on in the first novel (he accidentally summoned it while practicing magic looking for a light) and ends up riding it around and eventually magically repairs its wings and ends up riding it often throughout the rest of the novels due to their friendship.
  • Wiz Biz: Dragons are used as an aerial assault force by both the heroic and villainous wizards. Dragons in question are non-intelligent... but because of youth; when they get too old (and too smart) they're released. And, as one minor character found out the hard way, while a flight of them may look beautiful in the sky, you do not want to be in the stables if you're not one of the riders.
  • Wraith Knight: The Shadowguard, Annessian Empire, and armies of the King Below breed clutches of dragons that they proceed to ride into battle as the settings version of WMDs. The lesser dragons can be domesticated normally but greater dragons are intelligent so have to be dealt with on an individual level.
  • Zog: Zog the dragon becomes a flying ambulance for a princess turned doctor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Valyrians were an ancient civilization who built a massive empire by training dragons and riding them as living weapons of war.
    • Following Valyria's downfall, Aegon "the Conqueror" Targaryen and his sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys invaded and unified six of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. By cleverly using their dragons they were able to melt the castle of Harrenhal, burn 4,000 men at the Field of Fire, and offer little King Ronnel Arryn a dragonback ride. As descendants of the former Valyrian Freehold, they were the only family of dragonlords (those Valyrians who could actually tame and ride dragons) who survived, the beasts giving them a distinct edge in the conquest.
      • Aegon's dragon was Balerion, "the Black Dread", and the biggest dragon ever known. He forged the Iron Throne by using Balerion's fire breath to melt and fuse the swords of his defeated enemies. In the books, Balerion's wingspan is said to have been so wide that entire towns fell under his shadow when he passed over. Aegon's son King Maegor Targaryen also rode his father's dragon after Aegon's death
      • Queen Visenya rode Vhagar, the smallest of the original three Targaryen dragons. Yet according to a history read by Davos Seaworth centuries later, Vhagar was still large enough to swallow a horse whole.
      • Queen Rhaenys' dragon was Meraxes, who died relatively early into the Targaryens' rule during an attempt to conquer Dorne (the only kingdom not conquered in the initial wave of invasion)
    • Nearly 300 years later, Daenerys Targaryen aspires to live up to her ancestors' glory once her dragons are grown. Like Aegon and his queens, she does have three dragons - Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal - but at first lacks the two other riders she needs to use them to their full potential. This becomes more problematic than she anticipated, as the larger her dragons grow, the more difficult they are to keep under control. In the episode The Dance Of Dragons, she finally takes flight upon Drogon and becomes the first dragon rider in over a century. After being reunited with Drogon in Season 6, she's taken to using him as her primary mount, even riding him into combat to destroy the Masters' fleet besieging Meereen.
    • In Season 7, The Night King becomes a rider after he kills Viserion and resurrects him as a wight.
    • In Season 8, Jon Snow bonds with and is able to ride Rheagal. This is due to his at-the-time unknown Valyrian heritage- Daenerys' deceased brother Rhaegar is in fact Jon's biological father.
  • House of the Dragon: This prequel to Game of Thrones is set 170 years earlier, in an age when House Targaryen was at the peak of its power and possessed many dragons. As of the end of Season 1, the Targaryens and their allies are firmly split into two rival camps - the Blacks and the Greens - and civil war looms on the horizon. The dragons and their riders are as follows:
    • Blacks
      • Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen rides Syrax.
      • Prince Daemon Targaryen rides Caraxes, and also tries to tame Vermithor so someone else can ride him.
      • Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (nee Targaryen) rides Meleys.
      • Laenor Velaryon - Rhaenyra's former husband - rode Seasmoke before his disappearance, leaving the dragon for someone else to claim.
      • Prince Jacaerys Velaryon rides Vermax.
      • Prince Lucerys Velaryon rides Arrax, but both were killed in the first real conflict between the two sides.
      • Prince Joffrey Velaryon has bonded with Tyraxes, but is not shown riding him (possibly too young).
      • Baela Targaryen rides Moondancer.
    • Greens
      • Prince Aemond Targaryen rides Vhagar, the only remaining dragon from Aegon's Conquest a century earlier, and the most gigantic living dragon at that.
      • King Aegon II rides Sunfyre.
      • Queen Helaena Targaryen rides Dreamfyre.
  • Kamen Rider:
  • Mahou Sentai Magiranger / Power Rangers Mystic Force: Four of the team's mecha can combine into a dragon that the Red Ranger's mecha can ride.
    • Gosei Sentai Dairanger and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 2, though, invert it by having the Red Ranger's dragon mecha doing the riding (though after it changes into a humanoid Warrior Mode). Its mounts are an assault platform made by the other four Rangers' mecha and the Sixth Ranger's white tiger mecha.
    • In the first season of Mighty Morphin (and therefore Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger), Tommy/Burai seemed more inclined to ride on the Dragonzord's head or control it remotely than use its actual cockpit.
  • Merlin (2008): Merlin learns that he's a Dragon Lord at the end of Season 2 and thus can command the Great Dragon. Morgana can also command the dragons, though Aithusa's condition by the time she's large enough to ride means there's no riding her.
  • The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg: After taming the legendary dragon Pyre, Rohan flies in on his back to rescue the other knights from an attack by the evil Sentinels.
  • Space Sheriff Gavan: Has a dragon mecha, Denshi Seijuu Dol, which he rides on the head. In the crossover movie with Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the Gokaigers' mecha Kanzen GokaiOh rides on Dol's back, while Gavan and Gokai Red stood on the dragon's head.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has a few of these. Some infantrymen, particularly in the Free Worlds League, are trained to ride Branth, alien creatures that just happen to look exactly like Dragons, and even have a poisonous Breath Weapon.
  • Dragons, one of the old Role Aides Writing Around Trademarks D&D supplements from the 80s, used this trope while subverting many of its assumptions: in it, it was the dragons who hit upon the idea of carrying an (unwilling and terrified) human rider around, in mocking imitation of human knights. What started out as a joke among dragons who kept human servants (those opposable thumbs can be useful) eventually grew into something closer to a partnership, but with the human still very much the junior partner in the relationship. The humans got to pretend to other humans that they were badass dragon-tamers, a charade the dragons tolerate because it keeps their human serfs content to think the rider is the boss; the dragons found it handy, because having a human there to position a big pointy stick upright on their backs in aerial combat discourages other dragons from dive-bombing their rider-bearing opponents.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • There have been rules in various edition for riding dragons — the cover of the old Basic D&D's Master Player's Book from 1985 shows a majestic king, bearing a sword while riding a gold dragon into battle — but there's a number of complications involved. First is that dragons are sapient, intelligent, and proud beings that detest servitude, and raising one from a wyrmling until it grows large enough for a medium-sized character to ride can take decades, if not over a century. It's much easier, then, to form an alliance or partnership with a dragon of a compatible alignment, who will expect to be treated with respect and supplied with both a suitable lair and a treasure hoard. The second major issue is the mechanics involved, as not only does a would-be dragon rider have to be skilled enough to stay in the saddle during aerial maneuvers and combat, they have to find a way to actually fight from dragonback, which can be difficult while on top of a dragon of Huge size or larger. On the other hand, spellcasters can find that a dragon mount takes away much of the danger from being a Squishy Wizard in close combat, while support spellcasters like The Paladin can ride into battle and use their curative magic to keep their dragon ally in fighting form. This last point helps avoid the "redundancy" issue involving dragon riders, as while dragons are both physical and magical powerhouses, they can't always use their magic in the same turn they're making physical attacks, and tend to lack White Magic to heal themselves.
    • Dragonlance justifies dragon-riding by making most dragonriders warlords, who on top of the obvious benefits enjoy an aerial view of the battlefield, the ability to rapidly redeploy to where they're needed, and a mount that can simultaneously impress friendly soldiers and terrify the enemy. Plus, the Greater Dragonlances can be used only on dragonback, and are the only weapons that can instantly kill a dragon. They won the Dragon Wars all by themselves.
    • The piratical githyanki are noted to have an old pact with red dragons, who will occasionally deign to take them on as riders. How could one possibly augment the red dragon's general badassitude already? By adding Psychic Powers, that's how.
    • The Draconomicon, a sourcebook dedicated entirely to dragons and associated subjects, has a number of options for characters who want to do this:
      • The Dragonrider prestige class, though it doesn't treat dragons as particularly different from other mounts, does grant immunity to a dragon's frightful presence. Most of its abilities revolve around various tricks in aerial combat. Unfortunately, there's nothing about the class that helps a character actually get a dragon to ride and the suggestions earlier in the book are either the time-intensive sort that would have to be worked into the character's background or ridiculously expensive.
      • Dragonnels are dragon relatives with ungulate legs, and about the same size as a large horse. They're fairly simpleminded as dragons go, and are very popular steeds for paladins and knights. Training one requires a fair amount of time, care and expertise, but a properly bonded one is a fierce, strong, flying mount that becomes intensely loyal to its master.
      • Spiked felldrakes, a species of wingless, quadrupedal dragon-kin about the size of a horse, are sometimes ridden as mounts by high-level paladins and knights of good alignment.
    • The Dragon Samurai prestige class also gets a special ability that makes them better at riding dragons, and another that makes them better at convincing a dragon to let them ride him.
    • The 4th Edition Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons describes drakkensteeds, lesser relatives of true dragons that can tamed as mounts by strong-willed riders. Consequently, their eggs and young are worth more than their weight in gold.
    • Drakewarden rangers, a subclass described in Fifth Edition's Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, take on a drake as their companion. This creature starts out as simply a small ally for combat, but at 7th level it grows wings and becomes large enough to ride. However, it's still too small to fly while carrying a humanoid on its back; that has to wait until a second growth spurt at 15th level.
    • One particularly tongue-in-cheek build involves a (Small-sized) halfling paladin riding a Medium-sized baby dragon paladin riding a older Large dragon paladin riding an even older Huge dragon paladin all the way till you hit Colossal (the largest size class), resulting in a charge attack that involves insane amounts of damage.
    • Drakes are roughly horse-sized draconic creatures that are fairly easy to domesticate if raised from a hatchling. In settings where drakes are common, so are drake riders.
    • Subverted with wyverns, as flavor text details how attempts to raise them as mounts face one enormous obstacle: the wyvern's poisonous stinger, which is perfectly positioned to remove any annoyances that might try to hop on its back.
    • Dragon Magazine #146 describes a miniature example of this trope in its entry on demon drakes, a particularly malicious branch of the faerie dragon family tree. They often ally with quicklings, which then ride their drake allies into battle; the twist is that quicklings are only a few inches high, and demon drakes around the size of a large hawk.
  • Exalted: Dragons are typically treated with caution. They range from magical beasts to high-level gods. However, the Sidereal Exalted's final Ride charm allows them to turn an Ally, Acquaintance, or Familiar into a Lesser Elemental Dragon and ride them like a mount. Afterward, the target either turns back and goes into a persistent vegetative state or continues as a dragon from then on, per the Sidereal's decision.
  • Numenera: The Angulan Knights ride xi-drakes, winged dragon-like reptiles. Xi-drakes are themselves intelligent creatures, and willingly serve the knights as steeds as part of a pact between the two groups.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Dragonkin are truck-sized dragons that come in the full range of chromatic and metallic colors (complete with breath weapon, but unlike true dragons no alignment restrictions) and can form a Psychic Link with a humanoid that can then ride them. They also have opposable thumbs, meaning they can wield giant-sized weapons in battle. Of course, they're only found on the planet of Triaxus, so players hoping to get one for themselves will have some hurdles to jump. The time period of Starfinder presents some new challenges to the dragonkin of Triaxus. Dragon riding isn't really an option in outer space, but their bond works just fine and makes bonded dragonkin/triaxan pairs excellent Star Fighter copilots.
    • While true dragons rarely — or ever, in most cases — lower themselves to carrying humanoids on their backs, they can be forced to act as steeds under extraordinary circumstances such as the use an Orb of Dragonkind, which can magically dominate dragons. The Big Bad of the Giantslayer adventure path, the storm giant tyrant Volstus, is fought at the end of the adventure while riding on the back of a red dragon he has enslaved with one such Orb.
    • Drakes, smaller and weaker cousins of true dragons who lack front legs, very rarely consent to bearing humanoid riders in flight. As drakes are normally proud, surly and foul-tempered creatures, such a bond is typically the end result of years spent winning the trust and cooperation of the drake in question. Paladins and cavaliers (a class focused on mounted combat) are both given archetypes focusing on riding drake companions.
  • Rocket Age: There are the storm riders, warrior women Venusians who ride on the backs of Mountain Demons, basically dragon sized pterosaurs.
  • Warhammer:
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • Exodite Eldar Dragon Knights are space elves who ride space dinosaurs and wield laser lances. Although they haven't had any rules since the 2nd Edition of the game, they do still appear in the background material every now and again.
      • The mjordhainn, a species of alien raiders native to Thusel Prime before their extermination by the White Scars, rode flying dragon-like creatures called tchorlau.
      • Only War: The Orks assaulting Cuyavale have been attempting to tame the aggressive, predatory Drakons native to the planet. At least some have seen some success, and have been spotted riding one of the flying beasts as a form of aerial transport.
    • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar:
      • The Stormcast Eternals have a strong association with dragons due to the alliance between their god, Sigmar, and Dracothion, the ancestor of the Realms' dragons. Stormcast cavalry rides on wingless draconic beasts such as Dracoths and Dracolines, while the greatest of the ride the mighty, winged and intelligent Stardrakes into battle. In 3rd Edition, they form an alliance with the Draconith, a nearly-extinct species of intelligent dragons, who agree to serve as their mounts in exchange for help in rebuilding their civilization.
      • It is considered a great test of an Ironjawz strength and bravery for them to defeat and "tame" a Maw-krusha, great wyvern-like creatures that are even more destructive and have a worse temperament than the Orruks themselves.
      • The Champion of Khorne Vorgaroth rides on a daemonic dragon Skalok the Skull Host.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Battle:
      • Many high-level characters have the option of riding dragons into battle, with each race getting their own type of dragon mount. There is only one dragon available to the Empire, so only the Emperor gets to ride it. Undead generals can ride zombified or skeletal dragons, while Chaos lords sometimes take to the skies on horribly mutated two-headed dragons or, as in the case of Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord, squat and wingless toad dragons. Orcs have access to wyverns, which are more vicious but stupider and ignoble dragon offshoots, and Lizardmen generals instead get to ride T-Rexpies.
      • In the game's background material, it is said that in past ages High Elf Dragon Princes used to regularly ride dragons into battle. In the time period that the game takes place in, however, those dragons that remain have entered a deep hibernation that takes exceptional effort to wake them from, forcing the Dragon Princes to ride purebred elven steeds clad in armor shaped to resemble draconic wings and spines. The kingdom of Caledor has a particularly close connection to the dragons, as the bulk of their population slumbers in the Dragonspine Mountains on its lands; ancient Caledorian songs are the only reliable means of rousing them, and the majority of modern dragonriders are Caledorians.

    Video Games 
  • Absinthia: During the final boss fight, Lilith rides the undead Typhus as a Call-Back to the True Final Boss of the first game, Knight Bewitched.
  • Age of Wonders: One goblin unit is mounted on a wyvern, while a frostling unit rides a frost drake.
  • Aground: A dragon is the first mount available in the game. You can ride it to an island full of magical creatures and items, raise more dragons from their larval stage (Wyrms), and transform Wyrms and dragons into high-powered tools, weapons, and armor.
  • Alundra 2: After you finish Draconia Bomb Factory, riding a dragon becomes your main method of transportation.
  • Anbennar: The Duchy of Verne traces back to the kingdom founded in ancient times by Armoc Vernid, the first of many wyvern riders. While they eventually went extinct, wyverns remain as Verne's national animal. And it's possible to bring them back.
  • Bahamut Lagoon: You can only field as many squads as you have dragons to ride. Those squads ride in on the dragons, but after that the dragon is an independent unit in combat.
  • Century: Age Of Ashes is a Multiplayer Game whose core premise is different classes of Dragoneer taking their chosen breeds of dragon into a 6v6 Old-School Dogfight, attempting to shoot each other down with their Dragon's flame breath - either in the form of long-range fireballs or a short-ranged sustained stream of flames.
  • Chrono Cross: The Acacia Dragoons ride dragons, but said dragons are rather small and silly-looking.
  • A Dance with Rogues: One portion concludes with a very long-range flight on a white dragon. Unfortunately, the developers couldn't mess with the base Neverwinter Nights graphics enough to allow the character to ride a dragon onscreen. Although the Dreamcatcher campaign lets you do so, but that one was a far more scripting-intensive and not quite as well written story.
  • Danger Forever have you playing as the rider of a Cyborg dragon, blasting away at enemies on the landscape of an alien world.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Dark Souls II: The Dragonriders, massive armored knights with incredible strength who served as King Vendrick's royal guard, were said to ride wyrms into battle. But the time of the game proper, though, there are no wyrms to be found, though the knights still serve their absent king.
    • Dark Souls III has the Nameless King, who rides into battle atop a massive wyvern called The King of the Storm. Although the Nameless King is much more dangerous after you slay his mount.
  • Dawn of the Dragons: The player character hatches, befriends, and eventually rides a newborn dragon into battle. The player character eventually gains a reputation as "the dragon rider".
  • The Ancient Gods - Part Two DLC for "Doom Eternal" reveals that the Doom Slayer has his own dragon mount (called "wintherin" in-universe).
  • Dragon Blaze 2000 is a fantasy-themed Vertical Scrolling Shooter game which replaces the usual fighter planes or spaceships common in this genre with dragons. The player assumes one of three heroes who ride their draconic steeds and blasts enemies from a distance.
  • Dragon Breed has an interesting play on the trope. You play as Kayus, riding the dragon Bahamoot. Bahamoot is invincible, but Kayus is a One-Hit-Point Wonder. Thus you must fly the dragon in a specific way so that its body can protect the rider against enemy shots.
  • DragonFable features (as part of their main plot) the Player Character acquiring the legendary egg of one of two dragons of prophecy, hatching it, and under certain conditions making the dragon grow to its adult size to do battle with gigantic fantasy monsters. The main villain has the other one... adventure Quest itself has the Guardian Blade, Dragon Slayer, and Dracomancer class, all of which can be used to summon dragons as an attack.
  • Dragon Quest has a lot of enemies that ride dragons, mostly as mid to late game enemies. They are extremely susceptible to anti-dragon techniques, implying that if the dragon dies, so does the rider.
  • Dragon's Wake allows you to look at the trope from a different perspective. The player character is a young dragon and may choose to carry some of the other characters in certain situations.
  • Drakengard:
    • Dragons hate humans as foolish weaklings. However, the dragon is dying and you need its help, so she makes a deal where she binds herself to you (with unfortunate side effects) to heal her. When on her back you serve no purpose as she's bad enough to take everything on. Your role is to hop off of her to take out ranged units (if they hit her while you're in the air, she throws you off after a couple hits).
    • Drakengard 2: Legna is on much better terms with his rider, Nowe (having partially raised him); he accepts Nowe riding on his back because they get around faster that way.
    • Drakengard 3: Zero's original dragon Michael is killed in the prologue and is reincarnated into the adolescent dragon Mikhail, who she's something of an abusive (but ultimately loving) mother figure towards.
  • Drakerider, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It's deconstructed, since the dragon is a vicious and powerful monster who hates the arrangement. You don't control the dragon so much as keep a tight hold on its chains and make it face things you want to kill while praying it doesn't throw you off and eat you.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Cacame Awemedinade is occasionally depicted in artwork riding his pet zombie wyvern into battle.
  • Elan Doree is an old Fighting Game where all the characters are dragon riders, who fights each other while seated on assorted draconic mounts of varying sizes and speeds.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The player character briefly gets to ride of the back of Odahviing toward the end of the game's main questline after defeating and trapping him (the game fades out just before you set off, so you as a player don't get to see the actual riding). In the Dragonborn DLC, both the player and Miraak ride dragons into battle.
    • The Bend Will shout at full power gives you the ability to do this to any normal dragon encountered in the game. The fact that you can't actually control the dragon that much means it's nowhere near as useful as it sounds. In fact, all it really does is let you sit on the dragon while it attacks your enemies, so it's really no different than just having it as an ally.
  • The Fairyland Story: Ptolemy can be seen riding atop the neck of the dragon Rodmeynote  after every seventh round.
  • Fate Series:
    • Fate/stay night: Subverted. You'd think that the Servant Rider would be able to ride dragons, but even at a Rank A+ of the Riding ability (allowing her to "ride" almost anything with expert skill, from ordinary horses to modern motor vehicles to most mythical beasts), she is unable to ride dragons.
    • Fate/Grand Order:
      • It clarifies that normally, a high rank in Riding alone is not enough to ride a dragon. It requires either additional skills or special link to a specific dragon. Thus, while dragon riding is beyond most Rider-class Servants, there are a handful who can be summoned that do have the ability. Saint Martha is able to ride the non-sapient dragon Tarasque, because her taming it was part of the legend that allowed her to become a Heroic Spirit. Quetzalcoatl can ride dragons because she's a dragon god herself. And Sakamoto Ryōma is able to ride the dragon spirit Oryō because in life he formed a contract with her (and also married her). Not every Heroic Spirit with the Dragon Riding skill is automatically a Rider-class Servant (most have more than one class that they can qualify for), but it'll probably be their most suitable class.
      • Jeanne Alter is an Avenger and has no Riding skill, but her Rank EX skill Dragon Witch allows her to control all dragons, allowing her to use Fafnir as a mount.
  • Final Fantasy: Some games make the Dragoon class fully-fledged Dragon Riders, although you rarely play as one. The most notable examples are...
    • Final Fantasy II where dragoons got their names from riding specially raised dragons called Wyverns, which The Emperor saw as a threat to his flagship and poisoned them leaving the party to find the Last of His Kind. The dragon can even be called to use its Breath Weapon in battle by using it as an item.
    • Final Fantasy V, had the Wind Drakes, one owned by Lenna called Hiryu that serves as aerial transport and a large part of her backstory and Character Development as well as and another one owned by Krile.
    • Final Fantasy IX has Kuja who rides a pretty badass silver dragon. Ironic, considering that he himself is The Dragon to Garland and appropriately that particular dragon belongs to Garland and his dragon riding privileges do get revoked.
    • Final Fantasy XIII: Bahamut transforms into a flying dragon when in Gestalt Mode, which Fang (a dragoon) can ride. In one scene Vanille and Fang use their weapons (a fishing rod and a spear, respectively) to basically lasso an dragon-like enemy monster to hitch a ride to the Big Bad.
    • Final Fantasy XIV:
      • There are two separate dragons obtainable as mounts, both a flying dragon and non-flying drake.
      • It's implied that, in the distant past, man and dragon built a great civilization together. It implies the existence of this trope then, before the betrayal that shattered the civilization and started the war. It sees a revival at the end of the Heavensward storyline; with Ser Aymeric of Ishgard riding upon the back of a dragon he'd befriended prior to the final battle in the epilogue.
  • Fire Emblem: Dragon Riders are a recurring class. They're soldiers who ride non-fire-breathing dragons (referred to in Japanese as hiryuunote ), usually only coming from a single country on the continent in question, and unlike most examples of this trope, they're generally very common in the enemy ranks. In most canons it's not specified where these dragons come from; the Archanea canon is the exception, stating that they're degenerated descendants of the Manakete tribes. Their appearance and build is inconsistent throughout the series: they had only two legs in the first three games, became quadrupeds through the SNES and GBA eras, became vaguely bipedal (with the front legs not touching the ground) in Path of Radiance, returned to full quadruped status for Radiant Dawn and the DS titles, and then returned to their original two-legged status in Fire Emblem: Awakening and onwards.
    • The naming for the class and creatures is quite the convoluted headache outside of Japan.
      • For Blazing Sword, the first English release, they were renamed "Wyvern Riders" to distinguish them from the proper dragons which figured heavily into the plot of the game; Sacred Stones and Path of Radiance stuck to this.
      • The Japanese version of The Sacred Stones introduced the "Wyvern Knight" class, whose wyverns were ostensibly separate from the hiryuu of the Dragon Rider class and looked more like a traditional wyvern; they were still called "Wyvern Knights" in the English version and the matter of their physical difference wasn't addressed.
      • Radiant Dawn's translation discarded the "wyvern" name for the classes themselves, going with variations of "Dracoknight"; however, in dialogue the species are still called wyverns, again to differentiate from the game's fairly important actual dragons. This remained the case for Shadow Dragon, the next release translated on the DS for the series.
      • Fire Emblem Awakening reverted to the "wyvern" terminology entirely (as, once again, "actual" dragons feature prominently and are a very different sort of creature than the mounts).
    • Ashnard from Path of Radiance should get special mention as, unlike the other examples in the series, he rides an actual intelligent dragon albeit heavily drugged and forcibly enslaved.
    • Throughout the series, dragon riders have had a consistent presence, but aren't the most common playable class; indeed, most of them can only be obtained through recruiting them from the enemy. These are the playable or otherwise notable dragon rider characters from across the franchise:
      • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, and their remakes: Minerva and Michalis (New Mystery of the Emblem only) start as one. Caeda, Est, Palla, and Catria can promote to this, because somehow pegasi become dragons (Macedon).
      • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War: Altena, Areone and Travant (Thracia).
      • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade: Zeiss, Melady, Gale and Narcian (Bern).
      • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: Heath (pictured above) and Vaida (Bern again).
      • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Valter, Glen and Cormag (Grado) are this by default. Tana and Vanessa can become this if promoted to the Wyvern Knight class (because again, somehow pegasi become dragons).
      • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: Jill and Haar (Daein) are playable in both games. In Path of Radiance, Shiharam and Ashnard can be unlocked to use on the bonus Trial Maps.
      • Fire Emblem: Awakening: Cherche and her son Gerome primarily (who thanks to Time Travel actually ride the same dragon), but thanks to the class change and marriage systems, there can potentially be well over a dozen characters capable of using this class. Also notable for the fact that Manaketes Nowi and Tiki are capable of using it, which would make them dragons (in human form) riding dragons.
      • Fire Emblem Fates: Camilla and her retainer Beruka, as well as Arthur's son Percy (Nohr). Uniquely for the franchise, one possible promotion for the Wyvern Rider class gets to ride undead dragons.
      • TearRing Saga: Similar to the Archanea games before, Pegasi become Wyverns with Sasha, Mahter, Frau and Verna promoting to them and Raffin, a horseback character, being able to do do as well. The nation of Canaan also uses Dragon Riders, an alternate 1st-tier class with Prince Julius being a commander of them.
      • Berwick Saga: Wyvern Riders represent the air units in this game in which they use spears, swords and shields. In this game however, they can move past enemy land units who can do the reverse as well. Additionally, they cannot be initiated upon by land unit melee attacks, limiting their enemy phase potential somewhat while highlighting their movement utility.
      • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Anyone who receives the necessary training can class into the Wyvern Rider class, but of those who do so in the story itself that goes to Claude, Cyril and Seteth, who ironically enough is actually a Child of the Goddess stuck in his human form, making him a dragon riding dragons. Characters that the game indicates can canonically do so due to retaining their unique clothing choices include Petra. The nation of Almyra noticeably employs Wyvern Riders into their armies, most notably the general Nader, which makes it fitting that Cyril and Claude do so themselves since they have Almyran ancestry.
    • It's also worth noting that despite appearing to be fearsome and dangerous creatures, the dragons themselves never actually attack, leaving everything to their rider (the one exception being the Malig Knight's "Deadly Breath" skill, which inflicts Area of Effect damage after each attack). Compared to their 'sister' flying mount class, the Pegasus Knights, dragon riders have different stat distribution, providing greater HP, Attack and Defense compared to the Speed, Skill and Resistance afforded by pegasus knights, probably because they're bulkier creatures with more weight to throw around. Having mounts able to attack on their own would probably screw up the game balance.
  • Freedom Planet: In the Unexpected Shmup Level between Pangu Lagoon and Battle Glacier, Lilac — who, notably, is herself a (half-)dragon — rides on the Holodragon's head while it blasts lasers and fireballs at Brevon's robots.
  • Golden Axe: The Beat 'em Up formula is given the addition of ridable beasts. These include Blue and Red Dragons that breathe fire.
  • Granblue Fantasy: The Primal Beast Zooey/Grand Order is this, oftentimes riding atop a dragon called the Peacemaker's Wings. In an unusual example of this trope, her idea of riding it actually involves her fusing with the dragon itself, creating a sort-of dragon-centaur thing.
  • Grandia III: The people of the Dragon Valley, protectors of the Guardian Drak (who's himself a giant dragon), ride small, horse-sized dragons to navigate rough terrain of their homeland. They use throwing spears to ward off invaders before they enter the Valley, but do not fight alongside their dragons on foot. It's explained that the rider and the dragon are brought up alongside each other since childhood, and if one dies, the other will not attempt to find themselves another partner. One of your party members, Ulf, hails from the Dragon Valley, and is shown to ride his dragon, Shiba, whenever the party flies somewhere on their airplane.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: Mei as the Herrscher of Thunder can summon a dragon and ride on it to stomp around the battlefield with as part of her ultimate. It's exactly as broken as it sounds.
  • Hype: The Time Quest: There are a number of sequences involving dragon riding. You have to persuade the dragon to let you, though.
  • Hyrule Warriors: One of Lana's moves with the Summoning Gate is to summon Argorok and jump on its back as it torches anything unfortunate enough to be caught in its path.
  • Keio Flying Squadron: Rami flies into battle on her dragon, which is named Spot (Pochi in the original Japanese).
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts: Inverted. When summoned into battle, the dragon Mushu rides on the human Sora. (Specifically, on his head.)
    • Kingdom Hearts II: Sora and the party fight a Heartless that used to be a wise dragon and through Reaction Commands they can get on its back, although it's not so much riding as attacking from a better position.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity has a Crystal Dragon you can ride if you find the Crystal Sceptre that controls it.
  • Kirbys Return To Dreamland: The finale has Kirby and company take wing on the four dragons collectively known as Landia for an Unexpected Shmup Level.
  • Knight Bewitched:
    • If the player defeats Lilith before fighting Typhus's second form, the former will mount the latter so that they can fight as a single unit.
    • In the ending, Halonia reforges their alliances with the dragons, and Stray rides Strasza to become the kingdom's first Dragon Knight since the previous alliance.
  • Lair: Dragons aren't extremely intelligent, and probably could be safely used by humans, but main character Roan says that dragons choose their riders, and at points the dragons he rides are implied to understand what he is saying.
  • Little Dragons Café: Once the dragon reaches adolescence, the player can ride it. The dragon runs faster and can fly to reach high-up cliffs.
  • Master of Magic:
    • Draconian Doom Drake riders. Yes, that means dragons riding dragons. There's also a hero, Fang the Draconian, who rides on one.
    • Orcs have wyvern riders.
  • Miitopia: The Miis can ride a dragon named Dominic to travel fastly through the Island of Miitopia. They need to defeat it in the Dark Lord's castle first, though as it was Brainwashed and Crazy before that.
  • Monster Hunter: Stories: The Riders are this should they choose any dragon-like monsters as companions and steeds. Riders tame and befriend monsters they raise from eggs through the use of mystical items called Kinship Stones. Normally they simply battle side by side, but their strongest abilities involve the Rider leaping on the monster's back and manifesting their bond into a Kinship Skill, an attack with power that eclipses what the Rider and monster can accomplish on their own.
  • Mortal Kombat X: Sub-Zero manages to capture and tame a horde of ice dragons in his arcade ending. He ends up giving each of the Lin Kuei one, and they become a clan of dragon riders so fearsome that just the mention of their reputation keeps enemies of the Earthrealm far away.
  • Panzer Dragoon: The dragon needing a rider to activate its weapon systems is justified as the Ancients' attempt to keep the dragon units from going nuts and killing everyone. Most of the games are rail shooters, with you on your dragon flying into a storm of enemy creatures and aircraft. The one non-SHMUP, an RPG, still had dragonriding as a central concept, with the dragon serving as your Global Airship, and all random battles taking place in mid-air with you strafing around your enemy to dodge attacks.
  • Pokémon:
    • Lance of the Elite Four in Pokémon Red and Blue (and the champion of Pokémon Gold and Silver and their remakes). Also, any player character who teaches a Dragon-type (or a Pokemon that resembles a dragon without having the type like Charizard, Aerodactyl, or Gyarados) the moves Fly or Surf is doing this too.
    • N in Pokémon Black and White and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 flies off/touches down riding on either Reshiram or Zekrom depending on your version at least once during each game.
    • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire: The player can fly over the Hoenn region while on the backs of either Mega Latias or Mega Latios. They can do tricks, land anywhere in Hoenn, and even encounter Pokemon in the sky. In addition, at one point they have to ride the legendary dragon Rayquaza into space to battle Deoxys.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon: The various HMs (special moves which you can use out of battle to pass obstacles or move more quickly) are replaced by the Ride Pager, which allows you to call up a number of rideable Pokémon. Fly is replaced by the ability for you to call a Charizard that flies you between various areas of Alola.
  • Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords allows you to recruit the high elf dragon rider Elistara as a party member. Not to mention the young gold dragon Flicker. After a few optional quests, the two can agree to be rider and steed, and a conversation with another dragon implies that such an arrangement, usually lifelong for the rider, can be seen by the dragons as the equivalent of going outside to play. Players can also capture a wyvern to use as a mount, though they tend to make weak mounts (Despite being a pain to fight against).
  • RuneScape: The Dragon Riders are totally or mostly extinct. They were a lizard-like race called the Ilujanka, who left their world, Iaia, after being promised a cure for the infertility that plagued them, and were subsequently wiped out in the wars of Gielinor. The dragons of Gielinor were a replacement for the mounts they left on Iaia, the gurh. There is one pair of them as a boss in the Heart of Gielinor: Gorvek (dragon) and Vindicta (rider). Their battle theme is simply titled "Dragon Rider".
  • Shantae (2002): A knight astride a wyvern-like dragon serves as the boss of the Twilight Palace. You can't damage him while he's in the air, so you'll need to ground him first by stomping on his head in Harpy form.
  • Space Harrier: You get to ride the good dragon Uriah during the bonus stages and the ending.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has an entire brigade of dragon riders as one of the enemy nation Airyglyph's armies.
  • Suikoden: The Dragon Knights have an interesting interpretation of the "empathic link" variant. In order for the dragons to exist, someone must use the Dragon True Rune. This rune does not grant absolute control over dragons, but does allow the wielder to favorably command some of them, hence the dragon riders. If the wielder of the True Rune dies, then so do all the dragons, unless someone else takes the rune.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Judith rides around on a dragon that she befriended as a child.
  • Thanatos, a game for ZX Spectrum: rather unusual example, because here we control the situation from the side of the dragon, not the rider. The dragon Thanatos must deliver the sorceress Eros (yes, eros and thanatos, thank you, Dr. Freud) to a certain place of power. In combat, Eros is useless, and during sharp turns, she falls off the dragon's neck. So, we have to make sure that Eros does not fall from a dangerous height, and gently drop her off from Thanatos' neck before important battles.
  • Total War: Warhammer: Dragons show up as high-tier mounts for certain factions' Lord units: the Warriors of Chaos get mutated, two-headed Chaos Dragons, the Vampire Counts raise zombie dragons to serve as steeds, and the Wood Elves get Forest Dragons, with deer-like antlers draped with moss. The High Elves have the widest selection of dragon mounts, as Princes, Archmages, and common Mages of the Lore of Fire can all ride different dragon variants. The Orcs also get Wyverns, which have two less legs and aren't as large or powerful. These are some of the best mounts in the game, being able to bypass terrain obstacles or enemy units by flying and granting powerful combat bonuses to boot.
  • Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness has orc dragon-riders. As explained in the novels, they used an Artifact of Doom to control Alexstrasza, the dragon queen, and use her children as mounts.
  • War Dragons lets the player equip riders to dragons to give a stat boost. Adding rider armor boosts things further. Riders are bonded to dragons, which takes about an hour unless you speed up with timers or rubies, and must be unbonded before they can switch dragons. New riders are usually available in the quarterly event prize lines.
  • Wild ARMs: The dragons you convince to help you save the world serve as your airship. The variation comes from the fact that they're Mechanical Lifeforms that transform into jet fighters, so the heroes ride inside of them instead of on top of them. You have dogfights against similar dragons, as well as some Flying Saucers in a side quest you get from a paranormal investigator named Roswell. In Wild ARMs 3 at least.
  • World of Warcraft features several types of dragon that can be acquired as mounts. Normally they can't do anything that would make a dragon preferable to any other flying creature (although it does look cool to fly around on a dragon). Some expansions offers short quests in which players can commandeer a more badass dragon — raining down fireballs and even swallowing enemies whole in some cases.
    • There's also Rend Blackhand, a dragon-riding boss.
    • In all their incarnations and regardless of whom they work for, training and riding dragons is the Dragonmaw Clan's orcish hat. They use a different category of dragon in each incarnation.
      • During the Second War (Warcraft II), as part of the Old Horde they bent red dragons to their service by imprisoning their matriarch Alexstrasza the Dragon Queen. She eventually broke free (as sealed objects in cans are wont to do) and crippled the clan during a vengeful rampage.
      • As fel orcs of Kargath Bladefist's Fel Horde, they try the same trick with the Netherwing dragons of Outland, and their activities have encouraged a deep distrust of mortals among the Netherwing as a result. The Netherwing faction storyline involves ingratiating yourself with the Dragonmaw while releasing the Netherwing broodmother and sabotating their other operations. By the end you've all but disgraced the Dragonmaw in Illidan's eyes, but that's not the end of the Dragonmaw...
      • In Cataclysm, the Dragonmaw are shown to be under the unwanted rule of Mor'ghor, a fel orc who ran the nether dragon-breeding operation back on Outland and now lords over the untainted Azerothian clan with an iron fist. Before and after his insurrection the Dragonmaw used and still use the same Artifact of Doom, the Demon Soul, that they enslaved the red dragons with. This time, however, they enslave black dragons, who are considered more punchibg bags, and catch their drakes in the wild to not repeat the mistake of the groups who came before them.
      • By the end of Mists of Pandaria, the Dragonmaw have turned to the use of black proto-dragons, the dragon equivalent of cavemen, as the black dragons have been all but eliminated from the face of Azeroth. With Garrosh's defeat, they appear to have stopped this policy.
      • In the Warcraft novel War Crimes, the Dragonmaw form an alliance with the Infinite dragons, and use them as voluntary mounts rather than enslaving them.
    • The Order of the Cloud Serpent (Mists of Pandaria) is an entire organization of Pandaren who ride on Cloud Serpents, Pandaria's equivalent of Asian dragons. Reaching Exalted reputation with them is necessary for you to be able to do the same, even if you have maximum flying skill. The intelligence of Cloud Serpents in comparison to other dragons is variable, as only supernatural ones like Tsulong or Yu-Lon are shown talking, but they're at least implied to be as intelligent as humans even if they can't speak.
    • A special item made by the alchemy profession since Cataclysm can be used to turn the player character into a rideable dragon.
    • The Dragonflight expansion added the new Dragonriding mechanic, allowing players to choose from several customisable dragons to navigate the Dragon Isles. It has a bit more of a physics engine than a typical flying mount, requiring players to account for things like momentum, winds and how tired their dragon is before they can get to a particular spot, but can reach much higher speeds with the right technique and winds hopping. The more the player achieves in the game (through raiding, Mythic+ dungeons and so on) the more appearance customisations become available for the rideable dragons.

  • Champions of Far'aus: Galemore’s military has the Sky Force, a division consisting of Wyvern riders, who mainly ride serpent-like Wyverns, and take part in holiday festivities with wyvern petting zoos to educate and entertain the public, as well as putting on "Wyvern Shows" where they fly around at night, creating images in the sky with the wyvern’s fire breath, like something of a cross between an air show and a fireworks display. Dragons also exist, but the lack of dragon riders among the Sky Force seems to imply that Wyverns are easier to handle.
  • The Color of the Crystal: Wallas, the Big Bad, tends to ride a dragon into battle. It's even his Establishing Character Moment.
  • Drowtales: The Vel'Sharen clan uses these as both their clan symbol and their mounts, with the interesting twist that the dragons are technically other elves who generations ago were transformed into dragons. Earlier generations were often more humanoid and were able to fly, but life underground has made their wings vestigial and led to a decrease in their intelligence. Despite that they're still a fearsome mount and quite capable in combat.
  • Erfworld: In the turn-based-strategy universe of the setting, Dwagons [sic] are Stanley's most powerful units. They can operate solo, or warlords can ride them (granting leadership bonuses and the ability to selectively engage targets instead of simply attacking every enemy they encounter). Dwagon-mounted warlords could also contribute quite a bit of power directly. Some of them can take out one or more dwagons single-handedly.
  • The Far Side of Utopia: Kallisto Summers' dragon might just be an ethereal construct, but maybe don't mention that in earshot it or just might bite you. Doesn't stop her from using it as a means of transportation.
  • Girl Genius: After the Time Skip, Gil rides down from an airship to where he's heard Agatha is on one of the "last great sky wyrms", having taken and tamed it after one of the Polar Ice Lords challenged him. Notably, it's completely capable of directing itself in a fight: when fighting Martellus he sets it on the mooks to concentrate on the serious opposition on foot.
  • El Goonish Shive: In a filler story, Dan rents a dragon on his 24th birthday so he can ride it.
  • Homestuck: Redglare travelled around by riding on her enormous dragon lusus, Pyralspite. Pyralspite also was actively used for offence when pursuing criminals, best seen when it tore apart Mindfang's fleet with considerable ease. Redglare's descendant Terezi never got to do this with her own dragon lusus, which was killed by a meteor shortly after hatching.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Princess Voluptua will sometimes ride Hibachi the Dragon as a steed. Justified, because she is heir to the throne of the local space empire, and the dragons number among her subjects. She rides Hibachi mainly when she wants to look impressive or intimidate someone, as shown here. He may take other passengers for her, as here.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: In "Breaker of Infinities 1-25", after Mottom convinces Mammon to stand and fight against Jagganoth, she rides into battle on her fellow demiurge's head, hanging on with a magically-conjured bridle while standing on the Grand Dragon's head.
  • Looking for Group: Inverted and played straight. According to legend, the earliest humans were raised by dragons who used them as steeds and hoped evolution would force them to grow wings. In the modern day, Legara utilizes dragon cavalry in its war on the North.
  • The Order of the Stick: Xykon rides a zombie dragon into the Battle of Azure City. It's mentioned to basically just be for show (and for its bite attack) — after it's destroyed he just keeps flying on his own anyway.
  • The Story of a Gardevoir That Became a Trainer: The Pokémon Nurse at Oldale has a Charizard as big as Ash's. They were friends back when the Nurse was a Chansey.
  • Unsounded: Vliegeng are essentially dragons with creepy humanoid hands, and being a Vliegeng rider is an illustrious carerr in Alderode's military and civilians spheres.

    Web Original 
  • Dreamscape: Dylan is one when he summons his dragon partner Liz. Just to drive the point home, Liz even has reins!
  • Last of the Dragonriders, which notably averts the Medieval Stasis trope. Turns out dragon riding knights are a little past their prime in a WWI-style setting.
  • "My life as a Dragon Rider" subverts this — it's a story about a farm boy who becomes a dragon rider after he passes a challenge of worth, which is basically just staying on top of a dragon for a couple of minutes. Was he The Chosen One, or a story of going From Zero to Hero? Nope, he entered a pub and got into a fistfight with a guard, which was somehow taken to a cliff where the farmboy was kicked over the edge, landed on a dragon, and got stuck between two of its back spikes.
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions: In Trope Talk: Dragons, Red describes how this trope is a very recent invetion, and was by and large invented by Anne McCaffrey for her Dragonriders of Pern novels. Dragons-as-mounts are usually portrayed as noble steeds, sometimes intelligent and sometimes not, and have become popular on the basis that dragons are awesome and, ergo, riding one makes you awesome as well. A telepathic link between rider and dragon isn't obligatory, per se, but it's common. Dragons as steeds for villains, however, go back a bit further, at least as far as Tolkien having the Nazgûl riding dragon-like fell beasts.
  • The Salvation War: Wyverns are used as mounts by the leaders of Hell even being able to fly at several hundred kilometers per hour among other things, they are not very useful against fighter jets.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Lindsay, codenamed Dragonrider, can do this on her dragon Pern.
    • Pern's normal form is the size of a housecat, but he can grow really big when he needs to. Like if someone is being mean to Lindsay.
  • Fire Emblem on Forums: Any character in the Wyvern Rider class and its promotions, as per the original series, due to them riding the draconic wyverns.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin rode dragons before the latter started the custom of systematic dragon-slaying.
  • The Backyardigans episode "Dragon Express" was about a team of dragon-riders that worked as deliverymen.
  • Dragon Booster is basically about the dragon horseracing circuit. Though these are all various types of wingless dragons with magnetic powers that allow them to equip racing gear. The protagonist's is considered special in that it can grow flaps of skin and glide when powered up.
  • Dragon Flyz, the basic premise of the the entire cartoon. The intelligent of the protagonists' dragons varied as the plot demanded, with the enemy dragons always being stupid.
  • In Dragons: The Nine Realms: both the heroes as well as the Big Bad Buzzsaw and his two henchmen ride on dragons. Though while the heroes have befriended their dragons treating them as equals, Buzzsaw and his men enslave them and treat them as tools.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk. Naturally, seeing how it takes place after How to Train Your Dragon''.
  • Dragon Tales: Emmy and Max, usually with Cassie and Ord respectvely, during their visit to Dragon Land, a society of generally very friendly dragons. Enrique in the third season as well, finally giving the Siamese twin dragons Zak and Wheezie a regular rider. Played for laughs in that when Enrique first mounts Zak and Wheezie, he thinks he's going to ride them like a horse, not realizing that they can fly. This is not entirely unreasonable on Enrique's part, however, as the wings of dragons in Dragon Land are quite small, and they clearly rely on magic to power their flight as well.
  • Jane and the Dragon is, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Dragon is Jane's best friend and he allows her to ride him.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Korra herself becomes this briefly when the Dragonbird she helped reunite saves her from Unalaq.
    • Zuko gained a dragon companion in his later years, named Druk. He serves as both a loyal pet and his main mode of transportation, much like Aang and Korra's Non Human Sidekicks.
  • The Little Mermaid (1992): In one episode, Ariel and Flounder go on an adventure with Apollo, a celebrated hero that helped King Triton during a battle years ago. Turns out that he's actually a cowardly Fake Ultimate Hero who had saved the day by accident. However, when Ariel and Flounder are threatened by a sea dragon, Apollo becomes a real hero when he saves them by taming the dragon and turning it into his mount.
  • My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle: Scorpan makes his debut by appearing in Dream Castle's skies riding a stratadon, one of Tirac's dragon servants, and leading a group of the creatures on their raid.
  • Ninjago: In the third pilot episode, the Ninja befriend the dragons guarding the Golden Weapons and ride them to the Underworld. The dragons are later shown as having become their pets, with Cole being particularly attached to "Rocky" despite his initial fear of dragons.
  • PAW Patrol: The Rescue Knights saga features a doberman pup named Claw, who used a magical tooth to command a dragon he dubbed as "Sparks". It's worth mentioning that this previously led to him being stripped of his knighthood for breaking Barkingburg's number 1 rule: never disturb a dragon. The six main pups also become dragon riders with a group a baby dragons.
  • Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders: Kale and her dragon Grimm (carrying in a "dragon wagon" that she's sitting in).
  • The Pirates of Dark Water: There are dagrons, non-sentient dragons that are tamed and used as flying mounts.
  • Xiaolin Showdown has Dojo, a Chinese dragon with the ability to sense the MacGuffins of the series and change size to anything from lizard-size to aircraft-size, and this usually serves as an international transportation method for the main characters. He's not much of a fighter though. Not much of a fighter until his one episode Face–Heel Turn, that is.


Video Example(s):


The Watcher of Todd's Laptop

When a coffee patron asks Beef to watch his laptop while he uses the restroom, Beef treats it very seriously and acts like a guard towards his laptop. The end credit song is about Beef imagining himself as a knight guarding his laptop against orcs.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / SeriousBusiness

Media sources: