Dragons by themselves are generally considered to be pretty cool. What can be equally if not more cool?
Raising, training, and/or just getting a dragon to listen to you yourself.
The Dragon Tamer trope describes people who raise, befriend, command, and/or train dragons for whatever reason, including but not limited to combat or competition, environmental purposes, or even just for fun. The methods used to get said dragons to obey them can include but are not limited to:
- Some sort of magical tool or ability.
- An affinity to dragons that makes them more amenable to training or partnership than they might be otherwise.
- Earning their loyalty in some way, such as through befriending them or besting them through battle or some other type of challenge.
- Raising them from birth/hatching or from a very young age.
- Mundane training techniques like you would use for any other pet or tamed wild animal, whether through positive or negative reinforcement. (This is most often seen with dragons leaning more towards non-sapience)
This trope mostly deals with non-dragons that work with dragons, whether they're no different from a regular animal, or basically on par with a human. While the "tamer" portion of the trope name may imply only "master-servant" or "pet and owner" type relationships can count, it can also include partnerships between equals, though regardless of the nature of the relationship, generally it is the human (Or other non-dragon species) who initiates the partnership. While Dragon Tamers may happen to specialize in working with dragons, it isn't strictly necessary for them to solely work with dragons to count as an example of the trope.
In cases where both subjects are in some way draconic, they only count as an example if there is a clear difference between the dragons in question, whether in shape, species, or intelligence. One such example would be a Draconic Humanoid who uses more bestial dragons. If they're the same type of dragon, it doesn't count as an example of the trope.
A subtrope of The Beastmaster and Fluffy Tamer, if dragons have a reputation for being dangerous in general or in the wrong hands. Dragon Tamers are most often also Dragon Riders, since the dragons will often allow their partner to ride on their back, but this isn't strictly necessary to count as an example, particularly when the dragons are trainable or otherwise willing to work with humans, but are too small for the average person to ride. Compare and contrast The Dragonslayer, whose main job is to slay dragons instead of raise or train them, though there's nothing stopping someone from being both.
- Iris in Pokémon the Series: Black & White strives to become a master Dragon-type trainer. Her Signature Mon is the child-like Axew, and most of her troubles with her Pokémon stems from trying to train the rebellious Excadrill, who isn't even a Dragon-type. She later catches a Dragonite, who proves to be her strongest Pokémon and the hardest test of her resolve. By the time of Pokémon Journeys, Iris has managed to become Champion of the Unova region and has the ability to empathically connect with Dragon-types such as Ash's Dragonite, but still considers herself far from being a true Dragon-type master.
- X-Men: Kitty Pryde has a cat-sized pet alien dragon named Lockheed that is smart enough to understand human speech and is a surprisingly formidable combatant for his size. When we see things from Lockheed's perspective, we discover that he's actually extremely intelligent and considers Kitty to be his pet.
- The How to Train Your Dragon franchise centers around the people of Berk bonding with and training dragons of all kinds, with notable examples including:
- Hiccup, who bonds with the Night Fury Toothless after nursing him back to health from the tail injury he caused in their battle, and starts the whole process upon realizing dragons aren't horrible monsters like Berk believed up to this time.
- Hiccup's mother Valka, introduced in How to Train Your Dragon 2, has worked with dragons for over 20 years after deciding to leave Berk with Cloudjumper, her personal bonded dragon. She and Cloudjumper are so bonded that she doesn't even need to give him direct commands, as he'll just instinctively do what she wants.
- Also introduced in How To Train Your Dragon 2, Drago Bludvist is an abusive version of this trope. He enslaves dragons and forces them to submit to his will by screaming at them, hitting them with a bullhook, pinning them to the floor under his boot, and directly controlling their minds with his own captive Bewilderbeast, an Alpha dragon. Drago's approach is deconstructed, however, since his dragons only follow him out of fear, and as soon as Toothless challenges Drago's Bewilderbeast for the right to command the dragons, Drago's entire army abandons him and sides with Hiccup.
- Cadderly from The Cleric Quintet at one point manages to use a spell to brainwash a dragon into his service.
- Discworld: Lady Sybil is the leading authority on dragon care and breeding, the founder of a sanctuary for sick dragons, and herself a devoted owner of a full pen of dragons. Cat-sized swamp dragons, to be precise, who need special care to mitigate their vulnerability to illness and/or spontaneous explosion.
- Dragonar Academy:
- At the titular Academy, people train to ride and tame dragons, making most characters Dragon Tamers by default.
- Ash's relationship with Eco (his dragon) is inverted as she's the dominant partner rather than him, treating him as her servant most of the time.
- Dragonriders of Pern is a series that revolves around an alien planet where the humans who crashed there centuries ago use psychic powers to establish empathic bonds with the native dragons in order to fight the alien Thread that falls from the sky and devours all organic matter it touches every time the planet's sister world comes close.
- In Harry Potter, dragons are classified as a "non-tamable" magical creature, which means they cannot be domesticated. However, a few characters have tried, with varying results:
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Hagrid attempts to raise Norbert, a dragon whose egg he bought at Hog's Head. Emphasis on "attempts"; it's unclear if she ever truly bonded with Hagrid before being released into the wild.
- Ron's older brother, Charlie, despite his association with dragons, is actually not one of these. He's a biologist who studies dragons in their natural habitats, and he does not try to tame them. The closest he comes to this trope is in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when he helps handle the dragons used in the first Triwizard Tournament task. Even then, they're still treated as dangerous wild animals and are explicitly not tamed, making him technically more of a dragon wrangler.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon is kept by Gringotts to guard its vaults, in the only known instance in the series of an adult dragon being directly "tamed". It was, however, trained in an abusive manner, being conditioned to expect pain whenever it heard the sound of a bell.
- The How to Train Your Dragon book series centers around Hiccup's struggles keeping control of his dragon and becoming a respected member of the Hairy Hooligan tribe.
- Nevermoor: Hawthorne's knack is dragonriding, but when he gets into the Wundrous Society, his classes and sponsor aim to expand his skillset to encompass far more; he also has to take lessons in dragons' culture and their language. As his mentor Nan points out, being able to train a dragon to let you ride it is all well and good, but being able to actually talk with one can be infinitely more useful in some situations.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Daenerys Targaryen is known by the title "Mother of Dragons" for raising the last living dragons from eggs, and her noble house, House Targaryen, was known for being closer to dragons than other men as they used them in their conquests.
- Star Wars Legends: After the draconic Basiliskans were defeated by the Mandalorians following a last-ditch effort in which they poisoned their planet to deny them victory, the Mandalorians turned them into war mounts alongside their war droids. Eventually, they lost their sentience, and became little more than beasts for the Mandalorians to use in their future wars.
- Vainqueur The Dragon: While ostensibly their servant, Victor learns how to get the titular dragon to fit into society.
- Whateley Universe: Dragonrider has a normally Shoulder-Sized Dragon named Pern that she can command that she brought into existence using her powers.
- Game of Thrones: just like in the books, Daenerys Targaryen is known by the title "Mother of Dragons" for raising the last living dragons from magically revived eggs. Her noble house, House Targaryen, was known for being closer to dragons than other men as they used them in their conquests. The latter point is brought up in House of the Dragon.
- In Pathfinder the Horny Vikings of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings are ruled by said kings, who traditionally claim the title by slaying a linnorm. The latest king, White Estrid, claimed her title not by slaying a linnorm, but by defeating it in combat, then agreeing to spare it in return for its service. Some of her fellow kings consider this cheating, but having such a formidable ally on her side means such grumblings usually occur well out of White Estrid's earshot.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Lord/Lady/King of Dragon cards depict spellcasters who use Magic Music to attract or resurrect dragons that help them in battle.
- In Dragon Cave, flavor text from the Dragon Encyclopedia says of humans, "Many brave (or perhaps foolish) souls venture out from the safety of towns in order to hunt or collect eggs from dragons." The point of the game is to steal, hatch, and raise eggs to adulthood and build lineages by breeding, so you, the player, are one of those brave souls. No matter how dangerous, irascible, or flighty your dragons are, they'll always listen to you.
- In Dwarf Fortress, dragons can be captured and tamed for use as warbeasts, hunting animals, and as a source of dragon eggs, which can be hatched to get more dragons.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
- After being tricked into being captured by the Dragonborn, Odahviing pledges himself to their service in exchange for his freedom, and from then on works as an ally in combat whenever they Shout his name.
- After defeating him in combat, the Dracolich Durnehviir from the Dawnguard DLC allows the Dragonborn to summon him by Shouting his name to serve as a combat summon so that he can be freed from his duty in the Soul Cairn for brief moments.
- The full Bend Will Shout introduced in the Dragonborn DLC allows the Dragonborn to bend even dragons to their will in a more direct application of the trope, which they mainly use to ride them around. Miraak himself does much the same to bind dragons to his service.
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: In a particularly twisted application of this trope, after forcing the captured Prince Rajaion of the Dragon Laguz tribe to drink Izuka's feral drug, driving him insane and leaving him trapped in his dragon form, King Ashnard of Daein trained him into being his personal mount.
- How to Raise a Dragon: The dragon gets captured at birth, and is kept as a pet for a master. At this second stage of the game, the dragon is too powerful and breaks out of the cage - with regular escape being considered generally a merciful result for the master. Other options for dealing with the master vary based on the obtained breath effect.
- Pokémon: Apart from the Player Characters possibly using one or more Dragon-types making them one by default, along with random NPCs with Dragon-types in their teams:
- The Dragon Tamer Trainer class specializes in training exclusively Dragon-type Pokémon, or Pokémon in the Dragon egg group like Gyarados.
- Certain Gym Leaders and Elite Four members such as Clair and Drasna specialize in Dragon-types.
- Blackthorn City is particularly famous for the amount of Dragon-type specialists that come from there due to it having a Dragon-type Gym and being home to the Dragon's Den shrine.
- Champion Cynthia's ace and strongest Pokémon is the Dragon/Ground-type Garchomp.
- Pokémon Black and White:
- Rival Cheren acquires the Dragon-type Haxorus for his postgame team.
- N Harmonia, pictured above, has a Dragon-type Olympus Mon as his ace—specifically, he gets the one that isn't on the boxart of the game you chose (in White he gets Reshiram, the dragon shown in the picture above, and in Black he gets Zekrom).
- Team Plasma's leader Ghetsis, the main villain of the Unova duology, has as his ace and strongest Pokémon the Dark/Dragon-type Hydreigon, who he is implied to have also abused since in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 it can use a max powered Frustration, a move that gets stronger the more the Pokémon hates its trainer.
- Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire:
- Aarune has as his one and only Pokémon the Ground/Dragon-type Flygon.
- Zinnia specializes in Dragon-types and has Mega Salamence as her ace.
- Realm Grinder: The Dragon assistant is a cute little critter that also appears near your advisor's feet as a sign of the "Dragon Tamer" upgrade.
- In Super Mario Odyssey, Bowser manages to somehow command the Ruined Dragon, a massive, lightning-breathing dragon who serves as the main boss of the Ruined Kingdom.
- Abigayle from Symphony Of War, in addition to having a unique personal skill that improves the stats of any dragon in her squad, can potentially find and tame a wild young dragon as early as the first mission where she can be deployed.
- Touhou Project: Amongst Kasen Ibaraki's numerous pets is her baby dragon Koutei, who she uses for some of her attacks in Urban Legend in Limbo
- Commissioner O of The God Of Highschool is the strongest of the commissioners, and his contract is with an enormous red dragon the size of an apartment building. And he won her loyalty by beating her in a fight, without the assistance of a dragon. He tames another dragon in the buildup to Ragnarok, and after the time-skip has a whole family of child dragons.
- Dragon Booster: Artha Penn's father Connor is a dragon breeder. He bred and raised Beau, the first golden dragon in years. He also bred and raised Chute's dragon Turbulence.
- Sintel: The protagonist is a young woman who befriends a baby dragon and tries to teach him how to fly. When he is snatched away by an adult dragon, she sets out on a quest to rescue him.