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Pick your poison. ...Wait, wrong type.
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Our Dragons Are Different, often very much so, and sometimes choosing a specific type from all the variety, or discarding all the others, is hard. Some works dodge this issue by including a greater variety of dragons, including many different dragon appearances, characterizations and dispositions within a single work, and define all the different varieties as being distinct and distinctive strains, breeds or species that coexist in the same setting.

There are many different ways to sort types of dragons, and no two works use all the same variants or define them in precisely the same way, but certain kinds tend to turn up more often than others. Many of these originate from the depictions of mythological dragons used in specific historical areas or from unrelated mythical beings, while others are taken from heraldic systems and others still were created more or less from whole cloth in modern fantasy fiction. Some works specifically root these distinctions in the number and kind of the creatures' appendages; this is not universal.

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  • True/Western/Common Dragons: The Western European kind, with four legs, two wings and (usually) fiery breath. Depending on how the work in question classifies things, these may be the only ones actually called "dragons". Otherwise, they're typically referred to as true, Western or European dragons.
  • Asian dragons: The kind from East Asian myth, with serpentine bodies, four or more legs, manes and whiskers, and usually no wings. In fantasy settings where Asia isn't a thing, they're usually called Eastern dragons, longs, lungs or loong. They're typically the most intelligent and benevolent kind.
  • Lindwurms/Lindworms/Lindorms/Linnorms: Very snakelike, with only two forelimbs. Usually depicted as more primitive and brutish than other kinds. These are largely a formalized version of medieval Germanic and Scandinavian dragons.
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  • Wyverns: Two legs, two wings, usually but not always some kind of stinger. They're weaker and stupider than other kinds, and usually considered a "lesser" form of dragon. Originally from British heraldry, they were later adopted as a species by fantasy games and percolated into the broader fantasy genre from there.
  • Drakes: Another kind of "lesser dragons", rarely brighter than an animal. They tend to have one of two general shapes, being either wyvern-like or resembling smaller Western dragons with no wings, but can otherwise vary significantly in shape and powers.
  • Basilisks and Cockatrices: While this isn't overwhelmingly common, some works treat these creatures as either lesser dragons or dragon-adjacent creatures. Their reptilian traits tend to be emphasized in these cases, such as by doubling down on basilisks' serpentine appearances.
  • Hydras: Like the above, hydras are not usually likened to dragons even when in the same work. When they are treated as a type of dragon, they're usually given legs and sometimes stubby wings to increase physical resemblance.
  • Draconic Humanoids: Humanoids with draconic features, typically some mixture of scales, tails, dragons heads, claws, and/or wings. Depending on the work in question, they may be humanoids altered to be more like dragons, dragon/humanoid hybrids and the descendants thereof, or just a variety of dragon that happens to look like that.

It's also common for more original variants to turn up. These include more or less divergent variants of the above types, less well-established versions of or takes on fantasy dragons, more obscure mythological beings, and simply piques of a creator's fantasy.

Note that this isn't a classification of every different interpretation of dragons — that's what Our Dragons Are Different is for. This refers specifically to when individual works include at least several interpretations of dragons as distinct in-universe breeds.

Subtrope of Our Dragons Are Different. For another type of very varied fantasy creatures sometimes used in this same manner, see Vampire Variety Pack.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Delicious in Dungeon: For the first part of the story, a four-legged, wingless red dragon represents the climactic opponent that the protagonists have to defeat. The existence of other varieties of other kinds of dragons are also alluded to, but this isn't shown in full until the confrontation with the Mad Magician, who summons many different kinds of dragons at once to take out the party. This includes a swarm of wyverns, a hydra, another red dragon, a green dragon (the classic winged with four legs variety), a wyrm (salamander-like and with poisonous gas breath), an Eastern dragon (capable of conjuring thunderstorms), a white dragon (furry and breathes ice), a leviathan (an orca-like sea monster that can generate sea water), and "shin" (a Lotus-Eater Machine clam which apparently count as a dragon species). An Imagine Spot also depicts dinosaurs, Komodo dragons, and the mušḫuššu as minor varieties of dragon.

    Film — Animated 
  • How to Train Your Dragon: There are dozens of varieties of dragons. Most of them follow the European body plan, but they come in all shapes and sizes and have behaviors based on different animals. In the setting, dragons are divided into a number of classes, each holding a large number of species: Strike (fast, powerful, and intelligent Lightning Bruisers), Stoker (particularly focused on the use of fire), Boulder (themed around rocks and the earth; many Boulder-class dragons are either adept diggers, rock-eaters or both), Tracker (distinguished by keen senses, such as smell or eyesight), Sharp (possessing a variety of bladed or piercing Natural Weapons), Tidal (marine dragons of various sorts) and Mystery (dragons that don't fit anywhere else).

    Literature 
  • Bitterwood: Dragons are genetically engineered creatures that come in multiple varieties: the ruling sun dragons, the academic and nimble sky dragons, and the industrious earth dragons.
  • Discworld:
    • Swamp dragons, Draco vulgaris, come in numerous varieties, many of which were bred as high society pets and require special care to prevent them from accidentally exploding. The Last Hero in particular gives a highly detailed, illustrated breakdown of Swamp Dragons and their quirks. The same book also features moon dragons, which are more aerodynamic, less explosive version of the typical swamp dragons and fly by jet propulsion by venting their flames from the other direction. Errol from Guards! Guards! is considered to possibly be an evolutionary throwback to these dragons.
    • The dragon featured in Guards! Guards! is a noble dragon, Draco nobilis, a more typical Western-style dragon to the point that people think they need to offer a suitable sacrifice to appease it. Smaller and somewhat more docile versions of Draco nobilis appear in The Colour of Magic, where they're a parody of Pern dragons.
  • Dracopedia divides dragons into thirteen groups, each containing several species.
    • The classic Western dragons are referred to as great dragons, with the iconic fire-breathing red dragon being the Welsh species. Similar to them are the dragonettes, which stand on their hind legs and are usually domesticated as mounts. There are also the bipedal wyverns, which unlike dragonettes lack forearms altogether, the serpentine wyrms, and the wingless drakes, which are another group of domesticated dragons.
    • Eastern dragons are divided into the scaly, serpentine Asian dragons and the furry, wingless arctic dragons. The latter are stated to have been historically confused with the former.
    • Amphipteres are serpentine dragons that possess wings but no limbs, while coatls are a feathered offshoot of the group originating from the Americas. There are also the tiny feydragons, which possess butterfly-like wings.
    • Rounding off the dragon types are the wingless, multi-limbed basilisks, the sea serpent-inspired sea orcsnote , and the multi-headed hydras.
    • Cockatrices are also mentioned as a crossbreed of a rooster and a dragonette, while salamanders are considered a species of basilisk. The Tarasque is in ''Dracopedia: The Bestiary", where it is depicted as a turtle-like beast that eats everything in its path and speculated to have possibly been a giant basilisk.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: Dragons are differentiated by their colors (one of five: Gold, Bronze, Brown, Blue, and Green), which indicate their rarity, their genders (Golds and Greens are female, the others male), and their rider's place in the weyr hierarchy. There are also watch-whers, which are less graceful and can't breathe fire, and fire lizards, the tiny fire-breathing, winged reptiloid that the colonists created dragons and watch-whers from.
  • Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate:
    • Amphipteres have two wings and no limbs.
    • Basilisks have more than two pairs of legs.
    • Drakes have four legs and no wings.
    • Fairy Dragons are of minuscule size and have insectoid features.
    • Hydras have more than one head.
    • Lindworms have two legs and no wings.
    • Ouroboroses always keep their tails in their mouths.
    • Pterodrakes have more than one pair of wings.
    • Wurms have no limbs whatsoever.
    • Wyverns have two legs and two wings.
  • A Memoir By Lady Trent is a series of Low Fantasy novels following Isabella Camherst's journey into becoming her world's foremost expert on dragons. As such, she comes across many different dragon types.
    • The true dragons' greatest defining features are the presence of six limbs (four legs and two wings), a crest or ruff around their heads, and "extraordinary breath", such as fire, ice or acid. Without these traits, a creature is merely dragon-like.
    • Drakes are smaller relatives of dragons with atrophied or absent wings.
    • Sea Serpents tend to live in the tropics, and young Keongan islanders challenge themselves to ride them amongst the waves and experienced ones can even steer them.
    • Sparklings and honeyseekers are Shoulder Sized Dragons and can easily be kept as pets. A preserved sparkling is what helps set into motion Isabella' dragon obsession in the first place.
    • Finally, the Draconeans turn out to be draconic people who have many dragon-like features but due to their bipedal form, cannot fly but glide instead.
  • Ology Series: Dragons are very diverse, but fall into a number of internally uniform groups:
    • Western dragons are split between three subspecies — the common European kind (which in artwork is shown as either the usual quadrupeds or as theropod-like bipeds), which live in mountain caves and hoard gold and gems; the smaller gargouilles, adapted for life as arboreal ambush predators but equally at home perching on high buildings; and the arctic dragons, always shown as quadrupeds, who migrate yearly between the North and South poles and breathe ice.
    • Knuckers are serpentine dragons with vestigial wings who inhabit wells and deep pools, are highly poisonous, cannot speak, and resemble dragons from medieval European folklore more than any other variety in the books.
    • Eastern dragons are split between the five-toed Chinese long and the four-toed Korean yong, Japanese ryu and an Indonesian subspecies. Tibetan dragons are a separate, but physically similar, species adapted for mountain life.
    • Amphitheres are serpentine dragons native to the Americas, with no limbs save their wings and divided into three breeds: North American amphitheres are bat-winged creatures that prey on buffalo and horses on the Great Plains, Mexican amphitheres are classical Feathered Serpents that were once worshipped by the local civilizations, and the South American amphitheres are highly theoretical natives of the Amazon rainforest that may or may not actually exist.
    • "Ungrouped" dragons include the colossal African wyverns; the two-limbed, steppe-dwelling linnorms of north-central Eurasia; and Australian dragons, marsupials strongly reminiscent of kangaroos. More unusual dragons include the three-headed hydras; the arboreal, koala-like Tasmanian dragons; the tiny and colonial dwarf dragons of Siberia; and the aquatic, finned and ink-spitting Sargasso dragons.
    • There are also pseudo-dragons, creatures similar to but distinct from true dragons, such as basilisks and cockatrices, phoenixes and Sea Serpents.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree:
    • Eastern-type dragons are native to Seiiki and the Empire of the Twelve Lakes and strongly associated with water. They fly by means of a magical organ on their heads called the crown, although some very old specimens grow wings.
    • Western-type dragons, called wyrms, are evil monsters associated with fire, and are further divided into a number of types:
      • High Westerns are Kaiju-sized, winged, four-legged, and sapient.
      • Wyverns are Mooks controlled by High Westerns, with two legs, two wings, and eyes resembling burning coals.
      • Cockatrices are human-sized chicken-dragon hybrids of low intelligence.
      • Basilisks are snake-dragon hybrids.
      • Jaculi are wolf-dragon hybrids bigger than horses.
      • Ophiotaurs are bovine-dragon hybrids.
  • Temeraire is an Alternate History series in which dragons are integrated into societies across the world at some level or another (with treatment varying between cultures). As such, it is to be expected that there are many different types:
    • Human breeding techniques across centuries and different countries have produced numerous breeds, some with special abilities such as being able to expel fire or poison and further crossbreeding takes place in the hopes of combining more valuable characteristics, almost always for the purpose of war. In Britain at least, dragons tend to be split across Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight groups with the bigger and heavier dragons often being more desirable. Breeds range from the very common Yellow Reaper to the exceedingly rare Celestials, very rare mutations of the already rare Imperial breed. Native to China, these are highly revered citizens of their country, and the title character just so happens to be one.
    • Whilst the vast majority of the world's dragons are scaled, Mesoamerican breeds have colourful, full-bodied plumage a la Quetzalcoatl. Unlike most dragons, these dragons value people far more than gold owing to European diseases like smallpox ravaging the native population.
    • Sea Serpents are related to the sapient dragons of the series, but they tend to be of a much greater size and possess traits suitable to their aquatic environment such as webbed limbs. They're considered untrainable monsters and a huge danger to ships although it's implied that they're more intelligent than given credit for, as seen when Temeraire has a conversation with one of them.
    • Bunyips are wolf-sized dragon relatives that live in Australia. They're flightless burrowers that lair around water sources and feed by ambushing creatures that approach their homes.
  • Wings of Fire: The dragon tribes of Pyrrhia all follow the "four legs, two bat-like wings" body plan, but that's where the similarities end because they're each adapted to different environments. For example, most of them can breathe fire, but the IceWings breathe ice instead, the RainWings are venomous, and the SeaWings don't have a breath weapon at all. The dragons of Plantala are even weirder, being based on insects.
  • The Year of Rogue Dragons features an impressive selection of the dragons present in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. The basic Always Chaotic Evil chromatic dragons and Always Lawful Good metallic dragons are present. The main character Dorn Graybrook's Love Interest Karasendrieth is a song dragon, a rare type of metallic dragon, while the supporting cast includes a Fairy Dragon and a smoke drake vampire. Their primary enemy is Sammaster's Cult of the Dragon, which creates dracoliches (the vampire smoke drake was a result of their previous effort) and engages the services of such creatures as a hidecarved dragon (a dragon who carved runes into his hide to aid in spellcasting), extraplanar Tarterian drakes, and a rust drake whose Breath Weapon ruins Dorn's Artificial Limbs during the finale.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the Dragon creature type applied to a variety of draconic creatures, further divided into subcategories:
    • "True" dragons fit the Western mold, being highly-intelligent, scaly creatures, usually with four legs and two wings (batlike or finned like fish), although some varieties lack the wings or some or all of the legs. They're known for their Breath Weapons and other magical abilities, a frightful presence that can send lesser creatures fleeing, and for growing through distinct age categories. True dragons are further divided into several families, such as the chromatic, metallic, gem and ferrous dragons, distinguished by scale color, moral proclivities and elemental affinities, though there's a fair number that don't fit into such families.
    • Asian dragons are represented by the lung dragon family, which can be considered a variety of true dragons with a unique life cycle — every lung dragon is born as a lowly carp dragon, but upon its 101st birthday transforms into one of several wildly-different adult lung dragon breeds.
    • Linnorms are a primeval offshoot of true dragons inspired by Norse dragons, specifically the Swedish lindworm. They tend to lack hind legs or wings, and thus slither their serpentine bodies while walking on their forelimbs. They are intelligent and dangerous, possessing breath weapons and other magic, but not a frightful presence like true dragons. They're also universally evil, and hopefully going extinct.
    • The term "drake" has been used to describe a variety of lesser dragons, from wyvern-like fliers to sea serpents to theropod-like bipeds, though from 4th Edition on it is most consistently used to describe quadrupedal dragons, sometimes winged, sometimes not, that are smaller, less intelligent, and less powerful than true dragons, lacking breath weapons or other magic.
    • Dragonets are a family of shoulder-sized dragons whose breath weapons and telepathic abilities make them valued as Familiars. Their most famous species are the pseudodragons and fairy dragons.
    • Landwyrms are a family of quadrupedal lesser dragons varying greatly in size and power, adapted for specific terrain. They're intelligent, and though they lack breath weapons, they're the only non-true dragons with a frightful presence, leading some to speculate they're the ancestors of true dragonkind.
    • Wyverns are considered lesser dragons, being bestial predators with scorpion tails and no forelegs. And while basilisks, cockatrices and hydras are all present in the Monster Manual, they don't have enough draconic traits to be given the Dragon type.
    • As mentioned, "Dragon" is a creature type shared by a variety of creatures, from the aforementioned linnorms and landwyrms to stranger creatures like dragon turtles and dracotaurs. Other creatures, like dragonkin and kobolds, have the "dragonblooded" subtype, lacking some traits of the Dragon creature type, but being considered dragons for the purposes of certain spells or abilities. And then there are a smattering of "drakken," creatures with clear Dragon Ancestry, but whose dragon blood has been diluted over the generations to the point that it's lost most of its magical properties, so that they're classified as animals without even the dragonblooded subtype.
  • Magic: The Gathering: There's a small number of dragon-like creatures in the game, all classified as distinct in-game creature types.
    • True dragons are of the Western kind — four-legged, two-winged and fire-breathing. Some also have additional wings, or feathered ones. When Asian dragons appear, they are part of this type.
    • Drakes are smaller, animalistic and have only two wings and two legs, and are much smaller than dragons. When wyverns appear, they are part of this type.
    • Wurms are immense, bestial creatures that lack limbs of any sort, usually resembling either giant snakes with dragon heads or colossal Sandworms.
  • Pathfinder has multiple kinds of Western dragons, alongside a variety of Asian types, linnorms, and wyvern-like drakes. Each has various elemental subtypes as well.
  • RuneQuest: True dragons are immensely ancient, powerful beings who spend most of their time sleeping and resemble part of the landscape when they aren't moving. In addition to them, there's a variety of related creatures ultimately descended from them in various ways.
    • Dream dragons are what most people in the setting think of when referring to dragons. They're serpentine versions of the four-legged, winged kind, and are born from the manifested dreams of sleeping true dragons.
    • Wyrms are legless, winged serpents who split off from other dragons in ancient times.
    • Wyverns are the animalistic offspring of Dream Dragons born from lustful dreams, are much smaller than other dragon kinds, and possess stinger-tipped tails, wings, and legs, but no forearms.
    • Dragonewts, a species of reptilian humanoids, are noetenic dragons and ultimately seek to mature into true dragons themselves.
  • Shadowrun:
    • True dragons come in four distinct types — Western dragons, with four legs and two wings; Eastern dragons, the classical Chinese type; Feathered Serpents, great feathered snakes with birdlike wings; and leviathans, giant finned sea monsters.
    • Dracoforms, a collection of lesser dragon relatives of animal-level intelligence, include the two-winged and -legged wyverns; drakes, who can shift from humanoid form to that of small dragons; drakas, referred to as drakes before 3rd edition, wingless quadrupeds used by dragons as guard dogs; hydras; and lake and Sea Serpents.

    Video Games 
  • Dragalia Lost: Dragons come in a variety of forms including humanoid beings, bears, a whale, serpentine, Lovecraftian monsters, and the regular winged variety. It's even established that faeries are closely related to dragons.
  • Dragon Cave: Each dragon breed is classified under one of eight "morphologies": Amphithere (wings, usually serpentine bodies), Eastern (serpentine bodies, four legs), Lindwyrm (arms, usually wings), Sea Serpent (serpentine bodies, fins, aquatic), Western (four legs, wings), Wingless (four legs, no wings), Wyrm (serpentine bodies, no limbs), and Wyvern (wings, two legs). (Eastern and Western are italicized by the Encyclopedia because they are not in-universe terms, since the setting is not Earth.) Pygmy dragons and two-headed dragons are in their own groups and themselves have a morphology attached: pygmy wyvern, two-headed sea serpent, etc. Within their group, dragons of different morphologies are all compatible with each other.
  • Dragon City: Seeing as it is a Breeding Sim, the game has lots of dragon species which come in different shapes. Included are Western dragons like the Flame Dragon, Basilisks like the Basilisk Dragon, hydras like the Hydra Dragon, serpentine Asian-style Dragons like the Jade Dragon, and other dragons which don't really tick the typical boxes (including the foxlike Slugabed Dragon and the Unicorn-like Unicorn Dragon).
  • Dragon Creek has seven kinds of dragons: the standard European look, wyverns, Chinese-style lungs, elongated cats, hydras, theropod dinosaurs with wings, and the stout nightmare dragons.
  • Dragonvale: Being a Breeding Sim, the game features dragon breeds in all shapes and sizes. Notably Western dragons include the Fire Dragon, Eastern ones include the Panlong and Rainbow dragons, and there are others as well that don't fit into easy boxes including a Hydra dragon and some creatures that are just plain different.
  • Flight Rising: The game features a number of dragon breeds based on a variety of mythical and animal sources, including and not limited to Guardians, which look like traditional Western dragons, the more Eastern-styled Imperials, serpentine Spirals, raptor-based Wildclaws, and Obelisks who are basically just Asian Lion Dogs.
  • Fate/Grand Order has several Dragon enemies, with the first and most common being Wyverns, with Drakes being encountered in later Singularities and Lostbelts. Western Dragons and Hydras serve as sub-bosses, with some specific variations such as Fafnir and Orochi being bosses in their own right.
  • Monster Sanctuary has a small category of dragon monsters, which includes the crocodile-like Ninki line, the firefly-like Glowdra, and Skorch, which looks like a cat made of molten wax. The Draconov line contains different kinds of "traditional" dragons; Draconov and Dracozul are wyverns, Dracogran is a bipedal European dragon, and Draconoir is a serpentine long. Also, it's implied that Dinosaurs Were Dragons in this setting.
  • Pokémon: The "Dragon" type includes creatures such as Western dragons (Salamence), Eastern dragons (Drampa), serpents (Dragonair and Rayquaza), general dinosaurs and reptiles (Tyrunt and Jangmo-o among others), insects (Flygon)note , and even birds (Altaria), mammals (Noibat) and fish (Kingdra). The Dragon breeding group expands it further to basically anything reptilian.
  • In the Puyo Puyo world, you have dragon girls modeled after western dragons (Draco Centauros), traditional western dragons (Dragon), cockatrices, dragons with humanoid anatomy (Dragorunes from Puyo Puyo!! Quest), and even eastern dragon people (also from Quest).
  • Shin Megami Tensei has three dragon races: Dragon (Ryuujin, or Dragon God), Drake (Jaryuu, or Evil Dragon), and Snake (Ryuuou, or Dragon King). Each race consists of Light, Dark, and Neutral-aligned dragons, and include not only Asian and Western dragons, but snakes like Quetzalcoatl.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The game adds several types of dragons (fire-breathing red, acid-breathing green and black, frost-breathing blue, and lightning-breathing bronze), retconning the Warcraft II versions (which were green with red hair) as having been enslaved Red Dragons and the Hero Unit Deathwing as being the leader of the Black Dragonflight. Whelps are the smallest, followed by Drakes, and then Dragons, which are immune to magic and can devour most units alive.
    • Frost Wyrms are the skeletons of dragons reanimated by the Undead, whose attacks slow units and freeze buildings.
    • Wyverns are a Biological Mashup that would usually be called a manticore (lion head, bat wings and scorpion tail, although the artstyle makes it hard to tell what it is) used by the Horde as their main flying unit mounted by a spear thrower.
    • The expansion adds several more:
      • Snap Dragons are a poison-spitting reptilian species used by the naga, although whether or not it's an actual dragon is unspecified.
      • Dragonspawn are wingless dragon-headed centaur-like creatures that use magic, unlike dragons.
      • Nether Dragons are shadowy creatures that throw bolts of darkness. The Nether Dragon can't eat units but can cast Cripple.
      • Faerie Dragons are the Night Elves' flying caster. They're tiny butterfly-winged lizards that are immune to magic, can phase out of existence to evade damage, and damage spellcasters whenever they cast.

    Webcomics 
  • Aurora: Dragons reproduce via parthenogenesis, and the eggs adapt to their environment by absorbing all the ambient elemental energy. For example, mostly fire energy yields a the western image of a dragon, eggs left in the sea usually hatch into sea serpents, and lots of life energy will usually birth a jungle drake resembling Quetzalcoatl.

    Web Original 
  • Pop Cross Studios: Christian Pearson turn pop-culture characters into different things or people. One playlist consist of various videos in which he turns characters into dragons, running the gamut of classical Western dragons, wyverns, wingless drakes, Eastern dragons, hydras, and amphitheres. Each design is referred to as a distinct species with a colloquial name, and the videos showing their design process are voiced over with a commentary in the form of a Mockumentary by a naturalist studying the creatures in the wild. Cumulatively, this results in a very diverse roster of dragon species.

    Western Animation 
  • Dragon Booster: The series has a variety of dragon types, each one correlating with a specific draconium color. For example, magma-class dragons are red draconium, energy-class dragons are blue draconiums and bull-class dragons are green draconium.


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