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Our Dragons Are Different

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Some are your best friend, others can be a real drag.
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"Gronckle, Zippleback, the Skrill... Boneknapper... Whispering Death... burns its victims, buries its victims, chokes its victims, turns its victims inside-out... extremely dangerous, extremely dangerous... kill on sight, kill on sight, kill on sight..."
Hiccup (flipping through the Dragon Manual), How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Nearly every culture has myths about something called a "dragon", despite the fact none of them can agree on exactly what dragons are. How big are they? What do they look like? How many heads do they have? Do they breathe fire? Or ice? Do they fly (and if so, with or without wings)? How many legs do they have? Are they dumb as planks, or superintelligent? Are they low scaly pests, or ultra-rare Uber-serpents ancient and powerful as the Earth itself? Are they benevolent? Malevolent or even outright demonic? Are they divine entities or spirits, or just really cool animals? They could even be aliens in some works of fiction.

The answers to these questions generally fall within two traditions, "Western" and "Eastern". Even then, in addition to cultural differences, dragons fall into a very wide range of types even in one local mythology.

Eastern dragons, such as in the Eastern Zodiac, come from different traditions and as such aren't technically the same monster as their Western counterparts; Westerners who encountered stories and images of Chinese lóng and Japanese tatsu/ryuu sprung on the similarities to the European dragon and couldn't think of anything better to call them.

Western dragons or European dragons are derived from Greek and Roman mythology (the word "dragon" itself is rooted in the Greek word drákōn) and may have been influenced by the cultures of the Ancient Near East; though there are older myths with serpentine entities which would be called dragons by later generations. Eastern dragons or more specifically Chinese dragons, derive from ancient Chinese mythology dating back 7000 years ago and these depictions spread throughout Eastern Asia. The reason for Chinese dragon worship is likely because the region of Northern China where Chinese civilization first began was filled with dinosaur fossils which led to the development of dragon myths. Northern China is still considered a huge "dinosaur hot spot" in palaeontology today. There are many other dragons in the East such as Makara deriving from Indian mythology but the Chinese dragon and its variants spreading from Japan to Bhutan is by far the most well-known.

Even within these traditions, however, there is much variability. This has increased in modern times, as Western and Eastern authors have blurred the traditions by mixing and matching attributes from both (benign Western dragons are quite popular these days, for instance). Some authors invent completely new attributes to set their dragons apart from the crowd or just to make them cooler. And some authors put dragons in their stories just for the sole reason of making a story look cool.

Western DragonsEastern Dragons
Are scaly and reptilian (outwardly, anyway), and usually serpentine.Are Mix-and-Match Critters, though the exact components vary (generally, they can best be described as either "lion-snakes" or "wolf-snakes"). They sometimes evolve out of Seahorses or Legendary Carp.
Generally depicted with pointed and unbranched horns, or otherwise entirely hornless. Frills and fins are also common in modern depictions.Generally possess short, deer-like antlers.
Normally associated with fire, which they often breathe as an attack. In Greco-Roman, Germanic and Medieval stories, they lack breath attacks but may be highly venomous.Normally associated with water (and the sky, which was considered an ocean in classical Chinese thought), and are often considered bringers of rain. Furthermore, the Azure Dragon and the Yellow Dragon are associated with Wood and Earth, respectively. In some works, some Chinese dragons can breathe fire. In some legends, they are capable of this after being punished.
Usually live in mountains and caverns. Older examples often lurk in swamps or wells.Usually live in rivers or in the sea.
Are around the same size range as houses if not larger, at least when fully grown.Can be as small as a grasshopper or large enough to fill the space between heaven and earth.
Are usually antagonistic towards humans, if not outright Satanic Archetypes in older works. More intelligent versions are often manipulative, or, at the very least, love to screw with people; less intelligent versions are beasts and act the part. Due to the influence of works like Dragonriders of Pern, good dragons have become more popular in western media. Are benign, but capable of destructive force when provoked. They may be rivals with tigers, and/or a male counterpart to the female fenghuang. In Japanese folklore, dragons are sometimes portrayed as evil, such as the infamous eight headed Orochi.
Kidnap damsels (preferably princesses) and/or hoard treasure. Often greedy and/or insatiable, especially in the latter regard.Instead of hoarding magical treasures, they make them. The other thing they hoard is wisdom, which they rarely share with mortals.
Have a variable number of heads and legs, although one head and six limbs (four legs, and a pair of wings) and a tail is the most common configuration; medieval and older dragons were often just very big serpents. More divergent types (no legs, multiple heads, etc) seem more likely to be brainless bestial monsters than the "basic" form.Most often have one head and four legs. The longer a dragon, the more pairs of legs he has.
Either fly with bat-like wings, or they lack wings and don't fly. Some modern examples have bird-like wings, but this is rare.Can fly via magic even if they lack wings, which they usually do. When they do have wings, they are often birdlike.
Have varying levels of intelligence. Prior to Tolkien, they were typically ravening monsters and rarely spoke. After Tolkien, they are often portrayed as at least as clever as humans, and frequently (much) more. More traditionally bestial examples still usually have a predatory cunning.Not only are they intelligent, they are usually a Mentor Archetype.
Their scales (and armor made thereof) may be impervious to magic. In addition, they often have some form of innate magic if intelligent. Sometimes they may even disguise themselves as humanoid beings of much smaller size and interbreed with said species, creating half-dragons. In addition to assuming human form, they also often have the ability to transform into other animals.
Live for a very long time, if not actually immortal, but typically may be killed.Semi-Divine, if not an outright god.
Are incredibly strong and hard to kill but usually have one or two fatal weak spots. This is traditionally under the chin, but post-Tolkien, it's more likely to be on the chest or belly, and the eye is popular too.In relation to the above, pretty much invincible... not that people actively seek them out to kill them anyway. Have a single "reversed scale" under the chin, and go into a blind rage if it is touched/rubbed the wrong way.
Sometimes have poisonous blood, breath, saliva, or some such. Often, this will kill you after you kill it. If their blood isn't poisonous, it grants special powers such as invincibility.Since they live and breathe essence of life itself, they are the exact opposite of being poisonous.
Draco referred to pythons and other large snakes, while wyvere referred to vipers.Long, the original name, is used to describe saltwater crocodiles. (Smaller crocs have different names.) This explains their affinity to water.
Originated from proto-Indo-European legends of sky gods or heroes battling serpents or sea monsters representing chaos, which eventually developed into the early hero-versus-dragon myths.Amulets and devotional images of serpentine begins go back as far as Neolithic China, and appear to have already been objects of worship and reverence at that point.

It is interesting to note that the conflation of these two types of beings under a single term is in large part a Western trend. Eastern languages tend to refer to them using different names (Japanese, for instance, refers to Western dragons as doragon and to Eastern ones as ryu or tatsu) and they are generally less interchangeable.

The western dragon has a number of variants. Some appear in mythology and folklore, others are a more recent invention.

  • The most popular variation has been the wyvern, which resembles a bat, with clawed wings as forelimbs and two legs for hind limbs, this configuration generally being considered more "realistic" as something that could actually exist in a world similar to ours.note  It's also easier to animate with most methods.note  In some settings, this is the only type and will simply be called "dragons". In other settings, wyverns are not considered "true" dragons, but are a related and usually less powerful or intelligent species. Wyverns are less likely to breathe fire, and more likely to be venomous (even when dragons in the same setting are not venomous.)
    The term "wyvern" is less likely to be used if the creature in question breathes fire and walks quadrupedally (using the wings as forelimbs, like a bat or a pterosaur), such as Smaug from The Hobbit, Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer and the dragons from Reign of Fire or Game of Thrones.
  • Rivaling the wyvern is the Hydra from Greek Mythology, which is often depicted as a flightless dragon-like water or swamp beast with one or more heads; for each head you cut off, two rapidly grow to replace it. note  If they have a Breath Weapon, it's often a different one for each head. The original sprayed poison and had poison for blood.
    • As an alternative to hydra, the Zmey of Slavic mythology is catching on. They are similar creatures right down to the poison blood but there are a few salient differences. Zmey always have some limbs, almost always have wings and can fly, and more often than not have a bulky lizard-like body instead of the traditional hydra's snake-like body. The most major difference is that, while some modern hydras have a fixed number of heads, the zmey always does (and it's usually fixed at three). It can regenerate its fixed number of heads if they are removed without fire and their bodies are said to be either invulnerable or have a potent healing factor. On top of all that, they traditionally have fire breath and poison breath of western dragons. While nearly all named Zmeys are antagonist in the works they appear, many traditions point out they can be good.note  These have obviously always been popular in Slavic cultures, but the Cold War has stunted their spread to west until recently.
  • A drake is usually a creature related to dragons but smaller and less intelligent, equivalent to the relationship between humans and chimpanzees. More likely than dragons to come in multiple varieties adapted to different environments (e.g. the drakes that live around volcanos may be the only ones able to breathe fire). What they look like is variable, but most often they're differentiated from true dragons by having small or nonexistent wings; other examples might have a winged but two-legged body plan similar to wyverns. In some cases "drake" is simply an alternate name for dragons, or refers to young or male dragons in particular.
  • Very old (Greco-Roman, and a few medieval cultures such as Germanic-Nordic) dragons are presented as more serpentine than the more recent ones — if winged, the wings are usually their only limbs; and some were totally limbless, just enormous serpents. This type of dragon may be referred to as a wyrm (pronounced "worm"). Sometimes, however, "wyrm" will refer to a different type of dragon, or to particularly old and powerful ones, or may simply be a synonym for dragons in general.note 
    • Occasionally, winged but legless dragons may be referred to as amphipteres instead, a name derived from a kind of winged serpents traditionally used in French heraldry.
    • The drakons of Ancient Greece were a similar variant that had the body of a snake, the head of a dog (sometimes), and were absolutely gigantic.
    • Another variant from heraldry is the lindworm, a two-legged dragon with no other limbs. Variants include dragons that are Armless Bipeds or basically snakes with arms.
Naturally, all of these may be in play, making "Dragon" more of a higher Taxonomic rank like "Order" or "Class" than Species or Genus. By this reckoning, other reptilian or avian mixed mythological creatures, particularly the Sea Serpent, Basilisk, Cockatrice and Quetzalcoatl, may be considered types of dragons or similar creatures in some works. Furthermore it's not uncommon and unheard of to give draconic features to other mythical creatures as well; such as chimeras, manticores, gargoyles, centaurs, griffons and so on.

Some works opt to include several of these variants at the same time in Dragon Variety Pack, defining them as distinct in-universe species or breeds in order to explain their differences.

Further, it's also become fairly common for dragons to come in different flavors of Elemental Powers, especially in settings where Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors are enforced. This may simply manifest in their Breath Weapon, or it may affect all properties of the dragon. Elemental rainbows of dragons are most common in video games and tabletop games where diversity of creatures and gameplay balance are considerations. While fire remains the most common breath weapon among fictional dragons, ice or freezing air is a common alternate — ice dragons tend to show up as one-off variants, often in contrast to "regular" fire dragons, even when other types of elemental dragons do not. When multiple types of breath weapons are possible, poison, acid and lightning are common choices. Undead dragons are also not unheard of, usually breathing ice or poison.

As mentioned above, a recent trend has been to try and make dragons that could actually exist in the real world. Naturally, these tend to either use Science Fiction concepts or be very different from traditional dragons. Also common in later works is a tendency for dragons to form a life-long bond with any human or humanoid who is present when they hatch (probably inspired by the 'imprinting' which occurs with most birds in Real Life, which is why birds raised in captivity with the intent to be released must be cared for by puppets). This gives writers a way to give dragons unique psychology without having to come up with unique motivations for them. It also explains why humanoid Dragon Riders can boss them around. Yet another trend appearing here and there is for dragons to be depicted as looking similar to dinosaurs, usually the bigger theropods (like Tyrannosaurus rex), but occasionally sauropods (such as Brachiosaurus) as well. The two are often outright confused with each other. Another common trend in modern fantasy is the miniature pet dragon, suitable for perching on one's shoulder.

Compare Giant Flyer, Kirin and other Dragon Tropes. Supertrope to Catlike Dragons, Delightful Dragon, Dracolich, Draconic Abomination, Draconic Humanoid, Dragon Ancestry, Dinosaurs Are Dragons, Dragons Are Demonic, Dragons Are Divine, Elemental Dragon, Fairy Dragons, Feathered Dragons, Lazy Dragon, Seahorses Are Dragons, Shoulder-Sized Dragon and Weredragon.

Not to be confused with The Dragon, a position only sometimes held by a real dragon (while dragons themselves can just as easily be Big Bads).

Given that dragons are by definition fictional, No Real Life Examples, Please!


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  • Two oil paintings (1470, c. 1460) of St. George's fight with the Dragon by the Italian painter Paolo Uccello (1397—1475) depict a dragon with two legs and wings with eye spots, as are found on the wings of butterflies in real life.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: One of Calvin's many fantasies sees him imagine himself as a fierce, fire-breathing dragon that utterly destroys a knight foolish enough to challenge him in his lair.
    The knight is fried to a crunchy crisp... his armor fused into a solid piece! The dragon circles overhead, daring other fools to come after him!
  • Crabgrass: Discussed when Kevin wants Miles to draw a Dragon Tattoo on him, and Miles begins to list the many different kinds of dragons that Kevin could choose from.
  • The Far Side: Dragons — typically as big, wingless, lizardy beasts with many small horns — have featured in a few strips:
    • One depicts young dragons, when their parents aren't home, using matches to set their sneezes on fire.
    • A couple play off of the traditional enmity between knights and dragons, usually skewed in the dragons' favor: one strip, for instance, features a dragon handling the scalding hot armor of a freshly roasted knight and calling for his wife to hurry up with the hot pads; another features an irritated dragoness scolding her husband for eating in bed and leaving leftovers (i.e., knights' armor) all over the sheets.
  • On the Fastrack: The Moat Monster that lives in the moat around the Fastrack, Inc.'s headquarters is a talking, dragon-like creature that was spawned by Fastrack dumping excessive amounts of toxic waste there... and which is so acclimated to her environment that she regularly eats the stuff and was convinced not to accept a job somewhere else by Fastrack buying other companies' own waste products and dumping them in her moat. She can also shapeshift into an attractive human woman.
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn: Todd the Candy Dragon is a tiny dragon who says nothing but "Rar" and, true to his name, produces candy and ice cream from his mouth.
  • Prince Valiant: The fen dragons in early strips were basically gigantic crocodiles who dwelt in the swamps. A much more recent story arc pitted Val against a truly titanic lizard from a Lost World, which attacked Camelot seeking its stolen egg.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie: Growf the tiny purple dragon is a recurring character that induces Squees followed by third degree burns, and reproduces by "explosive parthenogenesis" when wet.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The Flower Queen's Daughter: The dragons have a stable and horses that the hero is set to watch. They also stage a dance. Which the hero and the captive princess attend.
  • "The Nine Peahens and the Golden Apples": The dragon holds the heroine captive and rides a horse.
  • How the Dragon Was Tricked: The dragon has a house, a stable, and a dragoness wife, and goes to church. He still commands his wife to murder the protagonist so they can eat him, however (and to prepare the meal while the dragon himself is at church, by the way).
  • "Prince Lindworm": The Lindworm is a giant talking serpent that was born from a human mother that botched a fertility cure and sheds its skin like a snake. In the end, the heroine tricks into shedding so many skins that the draconic body is shed entirely to reveal a human body beneath it.
  • German "The Swan Maiden" variant "The Three Swans" features three dragons which can transform into giant snakes or fire-breathing turtles.
  • An archetypal monster in many fairy tales from southern Italy (especially Sicily) is the so called "Babbo Drago" (Papa Dragon) and its female counterpart, the "Mamma Draga" (Mama Dragon): they tend to behave more or less like the classical Fairy Tale Ogre (eat people, own treasures and possess some limited magic), with one Mamma Draga in particular pretending to be an ill lady in need of a manservant while hiding a long, black, hair-covered tail under her bed.

    Fan Works 
Adventure Time
  • Half Past Adventure: The disturbances in the forest are revealed to be due to the Grass Dragon, a creature resembling a large clump of vegetation in draconic shape and possessing an acid Breath Weapon capable of destroying plants.

Ah! My Goddess

  • Ah! Archfall!: Two dragons appear, and both seem to be some sort of Draconic Abomination.
    • Lind's true form (at least the visible bits) resembles a huge, white, thousand-headed dragon covered in eyes and spines.
    • Gandamak is vaguely based a Western dragon but is nearly 100 foot long, has four 50 foot wings, ten legs, tusks and a single eye on the end of a stalk. Further, if you chop off one head two will grow from the stump.

The Black Cauldron

  • Hope for the Heartless: According to the Horned King, despite resembling them, gwythaints such as the two he kept aren't dragons. He did once encounter a true dragon, which was built like a gwythaint but had four legs and bronze-colored scales, and was as large as two peasant houses put together. It didn't breathe fire (but he has heard tales from people who have actually seen firebreathers), but spat lava instead, something some dragon types can do by eating rocks and digesting them into a lava-like substance.


  • The Bridge (MLP): Several varieties from two worlds show up:
    • Equestrian dragons are as they appear in the show. They can mature naturally as well as experience rapid growth caused by excessive greed, at the cost of becoming rabid. Greed-growth isn't reliant on just material greed and can be caused by craving anything from prey to revenge. Most aside from Spike are a bunch of jerks.
    • Grand King Ghidorah, Des Ghidorah and Kaizer Ghidorah are alien lifeforms that just happen to resemble dragons. They are some of the most powerful kaiju, and all have three heads, two tails, and two wings. Des Ghidorah and Kaizer Ghidorah are six-limbed quadrupeds whereas Grand King Ghidorah has only four limbs. Each can travel through space and manipulate gravity, in addition to having various unique powers.
    • While unseen, dragons are mentioned as having existed on Terra in the past, being animalistic versions of The Fair Folk. When magic largely was extinguished across the planet, they reverted into normal crocodiles and snakes.
  • The Chaotic Masters: Dojo, who is a classical Chinese dragon, refers to the members of the Dragon Council as a subspecies, though notes that they could arguably be considered a branch of humans instead.
  • Child of the Storm has three different kinds of dragon:
    • The canonical dragons from Harry Potter, which are very large, fire-breathing magical creatures, but basically just animals. They're mentioned as being mere shadows of the Elder Wyrms discussed below — which, as it happens, is a very, very good thing.
    • The Great Dragons of Avalon which are mentioned in passing as being classic Western Dragons, intelligent, magically powerful, neither inherently good or evil. They either remain in Avalon or are practically extinct. It isn't explained whether or not they're related to either of the other two varieties.
    • The Elder Wyrms, which were created by Surtur as shock troops for his campaign a million years ago, ranking only below Surtur's Great Captains and Surtur himself. They're very Tolkienian in both description and personality, being a) between "colossal" and "Kaiju" size-wise (as in, a large example 'could eat Godzilla like a bar-snack'), b) a mixture of winged and wingless, c) extremely intelligent Draconic Abominations, and d) exceptionally magically powerful, being capable of controlling armies of spirits while still technically asleep, and providing a challenging fight for Greater Gods, let alone mortal heroes.
  • A Dovahkiin Spreads His Wings: In-universe, there's a world of difference between the Tamrielic dragons (divine and sapient, capable of speech, huge but reasonably so) and the Valyrian dragons (animals incapable of speech, which never stop growing).
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Dragons are scaled, winged, sapient creatures that, even when very young, are still larger than a human, and breathe fire.
  • For the Love of the Gods: Dragons are ancient, magical creatures, having existed for as long as fairies and gods, and are some of the few things capable of harming a god. Because of this, gods generally avoid them.
  • Invasion of Falls: When confronted over the monster transformation amulet, Iggins uses it to turn himself into a dragon.
  • Kindred: Discussed when Bella compares Mulan's Eastern interpretation of dragons to her own Western versions.
  • Mines of Dragon Mountain: Dragons are intelligent and magical reptiles who consume jewels like candy and don't seem to have a very close-knit society. 500,000 years ago they where godlike beings (or at least perceived like this by other creatures) who fought against Tirac to save the world, which culminated in Calcipher, the dragon god, sacrificing his life to seal Tirac's soul in his body.
  • The Night Unfurls: Subverted. The word "dragon" is mentioned twice in the original version of the story — a quote from Beasley saying how he "could have spent less on a blasted dragon" rather than some guards to kill the Hunter, and Grace's narration on how Kyril isn't a fairy tale hero who "slays the evil dragon". In addition, dragons are a common ingredient in a Standard Fantasy Setting, like the Kuroinu 'verse in this fanfic. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect dragons or any Dragon Tropes to appear, and yet, they don't.
  • Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash: The sheep-girl Bahija's true form is that of a giant Western-style dragon. She is described as being as tall as a sports stadium and as long as an entire town, capable of spitting volleys of magic missiles at targets with pinpoint accuracy, is layered with transformative magic, and self-identifies as an ex-warlord. While in that form, she is also capable of assuming a human-like appearance—albeit one with massive clawed feet, tremendous physical power, and an array of fur, feathers and scales—whenever she wants to walk the streets of Muffinville. Four years before the story's events, those seemingly limited defenses allowed her to survive a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that culminated in a blast from a planet-destroying Kill Sat, if barely.


  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
    • Monster X is a two-headed Artificial Hybrid Titan (human and Ghidorah) with leathery skin and bony protrusions, created by San transforming and essentially merging with Vivienne Graham. Viv and San have no wings and are mainly quadrupedal like eastern dragons. They have Ghidorah's bio-electricity, but their specific powers differ somewhat and they generate orange-tinted lightning. They're also essentially the "offspring" of a Satanic Archetype Draconic Abomination, but they're highly benevolent and highly fierce.
    • Manda is the last survivor of an ancient, draconic Titan species which lived around Yonaguni and resemble eastern dragons quite closely in appearance and behavior. Manda (and his kind) have a very snake-like body shape with green or blue scales, crystalline-looking spines, horns and antlers, and cerata appendages vaguely resembling wings.

The Legend of Spyro

  • Dragons Unite: There's a couple hundred million of them living in the alternate Earth the story's set in, who are as intelligent as people, have opposable thumbs, stand about two meters tall and four long, live for hundreds of years, have wings (except for the Asian variety) and magical elements (again, except for the Asian variety), a varying amount of non-elemental magic, and make up the bulk of the character count in the average story.


  • Ice and Fire (Minecraft): Dragons of the two-legged and two-winged kind are among the most powerful of all monsters. Relatively small juveniles, which are still bigger than most other creatures, can be found roaming around on the surface, while huge adults brood in underground caverns filled with chests of loot and blocks of rare ores. They are very much endgame content, as each of their attacks can one-short an unprepared player — surface dragons are best tackled with diamond or netherite gear, and underground dragons with stuff made from the juveniles' own drops, as items made from dragon bones and scales are the strongest in the mod. They come in three kinds: fire dragons found in regular temperate biomes, ice dragons in frozen ones, and lightning dragons in jungles, savannahs, and badlands, each with an appropriate breath weapon. Adults drop eggs on dying, which if surrounded with their associated element (i.e., burning blocks, ice, or a rainstorm) will hatch into tamed dragons that can be ridden when old enough. Unlike other mobs, they have distinct males and females. A special dragon forge structure can be built, with one kind per dragon type, and used a crafting block by having a dragon stand next to it and breath fire, ice or lightning into it; this allows for the creation of ludicrously powerful dragonsteel gear, which includes the most efficient mining tools in the game and which will either set enemies on fire, freeze them solid, or call lightning on their heads.

My Little Pony

  • The Ambassador's Son: Dragons are ancient, long-lived, magical reptilian sapients. They're omnivores that eat both meat and minerals, and will happily consume things that would kill other beings — one drink is described as "a nice healthy mix of sulfur and arsenic". Their society is divided into a number of clans, and their ethical system often veers into Blue-and-Orange Morality — they're far more accustomed to violence than other societies, for instance, and a long-running issue between them and Equestria is that the highly dominance-focused draconic society still practices slavery.
  • Approaching Disaster: Draco is a living constellation in the shape of a dragon, resembling a colossal Chinese serpent larger than any flesh-and-blood dragon, composed of a translucent red mass of stars, with two red giants for eyes and flying without any need for wings. Because constellations are essentially living stories and are compelled to act according to their narrative roles when they physically manifest, he is also the living embodiment of the narrative concept of dragonhood, and performs the traditional behaviors of dragons in stories — hoarding treasure, razing towns, kidnapping princesses — because that's his role in the story of the world.
    "I am not merely a dragon, I am Dragon, trope and archetype. I terrorize villages because that's what dragons do. I hoard treasure because that's what dragons do."
  • Austraeoh: The dragons are rare, powerful and supremely unfriendly creatures, and are ruled by dragon matriarchs older than the alicorns.
  • Daylight Burning: Several types of dragons exist, differentiated by color. Reds and greens, such as those seen in the show, are winged firebreathers. Purple dragons, such as Spike, are wingless, but are very agile swimmers and can use the green fans at the base of their cheeks as gills.
  • Earth and Sky: Due to dragons being magic creatures, their physical forms change based on their desires. For instance, a dragon that lived by himself in the middle of nowhere grew a second head just so he'd have someone to talk to. This is also apparently why Spike has wings now when he didn't during his greed-induced growth spurt; he didn't want them back then, but has since learned to enjoy the concept of personal flight.
  • It Doesn't Work That Way: Dragon reproduction is rather odd. Once mature, they lay eggs automatically every few months, which are essentially just rocks; they only become viable eggs if they're fertilized by another dragon "quickening" them by infusing them with magic by breathing fire over them. All dragons can lay eggs, but most need another dragon to fertilize them — girl dragons, which are few, are the only ones able to fertilize their own eggs. Because Spike's egg was fertilized and hatched by Twilight's magic surge, he's technically half-dragon and half-pony.
  • It's A Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door:
    • Dragons come from the nation of Carcosa and have their own language, Draketongue, a tonal tongue (meaning that tone and pitch are as important as, if not more important than, the actual sound of words in conveying meaning) noted to be highly melodic and sung more than spoken.
    • The komagas, large reptilian creatures that rampage across Gildedale for a month every year, destroying anything in their way (they only do this in one direction and return the next year from the same way as before; no one knows where they go the rest of the time), were, according to Gildedale tradition, dragons who long ago committed some unknown sin and were punished by their gods with the loss of their wings and fire and being cursed to eternally roam the earth, and who over the aeons have degraded into mindless beasts.
    • Longs are also mentioned, and apparently live in the nation of Salamar. They are not true dragons, however, and apparently dislike being mistaken for such.
    • In addition, Besides the Will of Evil also introduces various dragon-like creatures among the monsters created by Reiziger during the Deer War, which become part of his forces again when he returns:
      • Wyverns resemble cobras with dragon wings and blue fire burning in their mouths, eyes, and a slit along their backs.
      • Fell beasts are bigger, almost the size of a small dragon. They have only four limbs — wings and taloned legs — and their long necks and tails give them an almost wormlike appearance. Their shrieks cause supernatural terror.
  • The Last Draconequus: According to Discord's inner monologue, eastern dragons exist alongside the western kind:
    • Eastern dragons are capable of interbreeding with ponies to create a chimeric species called the long-ma. The draconequi were long-ma who migrated west. The original long-ma followed a different evolutionary path and are still around today, and deny being draconequui at all, but Discord still considers them basically the same species.
    • Western dragons are an inherently chaotic species and as such, like the draconequi, can produce an Avatar of Chaos.
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return: Unlike canon, Spike looks hardly any different from an ordinary iguana, save for his coloring (which annoys him). He's too young to speak yet, and can only communicate with Twilight telepathically.
  • The Palaververse:
    • The dragons used to rule most of the world in the past, but their power began to slip as civilization grew, and was lost in a series of disastrous wars against the Diamond Dogs, the Capric Empire and Equestria, forcing most of them out of Ungula and to the archipelago of the Burning Mountains. They also have their own unique but poorly understood form of magic, hoard treasure as both a way to store food and as a mating display of sorts, and though mostly loners they have a loose society, ruled by the Fire Queen through Dragon Lords acting as intermediaries and viceroys.
    • Although most dragons dismiss religion as something for more mortal beings to bother with, particularly old and powerful dragons almost invariably develop beliefs centering on the size of one’s hoard determining the value and "brightness" of one's soul, and of a "Last Dark" to be met with as bright a soul as possible, refusing to elaborate on this even to their younger kin.
    • The caverns of the underworld are known to be home to blind, flightless dragons that breathe mind-clouding fumes and poison instead of fire.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: The dragons are the same as in the base canon (i.e., they're of the Western type, have nigh-invulnerable scaly hides, fire breath and six limbs (counting the wings), eat gemstones, and collect a Dragon Hoard because they grow larger the more stuff they possess). However, this is heavily Deconstructed. Because dragons are so individually powerful, and can find their food so easily, they never developed a civilization beyond the crudest level of "might makes right". Very few dragons can even read and write, and the handful of more civilized dragons have to learn other languages just because Draconic lacks the vocabulary to express many of the things they want to say. In addition, since the greatest threat to a mature dragon is another dragon, they never work together, and though they may spawn whelps, they would never take them into their own lairs, for they might steal something. As a result, there are only a few thousand dragons on the planet. As one abnormally wise dragon puts it:
    "We are dragons. We are mighty. We are the strongest of the mortal races. We have no equals. And because of that... we are dying."
  • Past Sins: Dragons eat gems for food, and as said in "A Secret Between Friends", their eyes look similar to beings usually antagonistic to ponies, such as "the changeling queen, and… well, Nightmare Moon". Spike atleast, also has "magical dragon fire" to send letters with, as used in the final chapter.
  • Sharing the Night: The Smaug-like dragons seen in the show are technically only young adults. As they mature, they gradually become creatures of earth and rock, grow increasingly large, lose their ability to fly, and begin to hibernate for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually, they become landform-sized and -shaped beings that spend the rest of their lives slumbering and dreaming. The majority of the world consists of incredibly ancient dragons sleeping atop and around one another. They are also lithovores, with a diet consisting chiefly of crystalline minerals and heavy metals. In the distant past, they ruled over vast empires of mortal beings, but the cataclysmic death of the old world and Discord's reign destroyed these and resulted in the deaths of most mature dragons, creating a generation gap between the oldest ones born since then, which have just about become the classic giant firebreathers by the story's time, and the truly ancient, fully quiescent elders.
  • Under the Northern Lights: Nidhoggs, whose name means "ill-that-gnaws" in Poatsi, are draconic beings, but not true dragons, resembling immense serpents that breathe icy wind and eat only frozen wood, preferring the worked timber of buildings over wild trees. They are spawned yearly from Karhu-Akka, a godlike being whose slumbering shape forms the great Everfrost Glacier, as part of the yearly onset of winter; most perish battling the reindeer, but some survive and grow stronger and larger with each passing year.

NieR: Automata

  • Nier: Automata (RE)Birth: Angelus's remains were collected and examined during the White Chlorination Pandemic in hopes of a cure, with some scientists in the Alps combining her DNA with reptiles in one process. Thousands of years after humanity's extinction, Pascal, Alex, and Blue find out that the dragons have formed an underground ecosystem in the abandoned lab, and only recently have they came up to the surface. A small dragon would follow Blue out of the cave and become her personal companion.

Negima! Magister Negi Magi

  • Still Waters Series: Dragons are separated into two main types: Common Dragons and True Dragons. Common Dragons (further subdivided into Greater and Lesser Dragons) are the sort found everywhere in Mundus Magicus and are not sapient, while True Dragons are extremely rare, highly intelligent, and capable of great magic. The ancient dragon riders are thought to have ridden True Dragons, although the modern ones ride purpose-bred dragons that are a pale imitation of the real things.

One Piece

  • and we can watch the stars on the water: The dragons in Flights of Fancy aren't quite gone into detail, but they're happy to have bonded humans fly on their backs, they've apparently got enough of a language that they can use sarcasm (even if they can't speak human languages), and can interbreed with humans.

Person of Interest

  • Catalyst Verse: Dragons are stand-ins for the artificial superintelligences of canon translated into the story's fantasy world. They are few in number but ancient and powerful; even their ashes can be used to fuel magic.


  • Pokémon Uranium has its own assortment of peculiar Dragon-types.
    • Terlard is a Ground/Dragon burrowing serpent with two heads and a forked tail.
    • Dunsparce's evolution, Dunseraph, is a Flying/Dragon Tsuchinoko with feathered wings and whisker-like barbels.
    • Barand, the only pure Dragon-type, resembles a draconic snake with a clawed hand on its tail.
    • Chicoalt's final evolution, Coatlith, is a Grass/Dragon Mesoamerican Feathered Serpent.
    • Tracton is a Steel/Dragon living excavator.
    • Fafurr and Fafninter are shaggy, leopard-spotted and antlered mammalian beings named after the legendary dragon Fafnir.
    • Lavent is a fire-breathing eel that lives in underwater geothermal vents.
    • Yatagaryu is a very avian Feathered Dragon based on the three-legged crow of Chinese myth.
  • Realistic Pokémon: Charizard is portrayed as a winged lizard, Dragonite as a giant salamander (since Dragonair and Dratini look like tadpoles), Reshiram as a feathered dinosaur, and Garchomp as an unholy shark/dragon hybrid.


  • SAPR: As in canon, the Wyvern makes an appearance during the Vytal Festival. Unlike in canon, this gigantic Grimm is never called by its name and is just called a dragon, and can shoot a powerful energy beam from its mouth along with producing a fear response whenever it roars.

A Song of Ice and Fire

  • Let the Galaxy Burn: Dragons can fly through space, and are colossal — Balerion the Black Dread is said to have been bigger than a ship of the line, making it several kilometers in length. An ice dragon is also encountered.

Tolkien's Legendarium

  • In the Dragon's Den: Dragons are actually shape-shifters that resemble Men or Elves — the reason people think they're large, scaly beasts is because that's the form they take on when they're in public.


  • The Roboutian Heresy: The Salamanders are themed after dragons, being proud, loot-obsessed conquerors who pillage and dominate largely to prove that they can. Their Daemon Primarch, Vulkan, has taken the form of a great black dragon after his ascension, and the Dragon Warriors take similar forms.

  • The protagonist of the "Dragonland Chronicles" album trilogy of the Swedish Heavy Metal band Dragonland is said to descend from dragons. In addition to that to cite an example "Dragondawn", the first song of their first album, is accompanied (it's instrumental) by these verses:
    As the dragons of the dawn spread their wings
    And in the first blazing rays of the flowing morning light
    Set flight over oceans of radiant azure blissful tides
    Over majestic mountains of old, mountains of gold (...)
  • Gloryhammer: The song "Magic Dragon" from the first album, Tales From The Kingdom of Fife is about a magic dragon who becomes Angus McFife's ally after a magic spell is cast.
    Demon attacked me, but then it was slain
    The dragon appeared and a battle was fought. [sic]
    I spoke from the words of a powerful scroll
    And magical dragon became now allied.
  • Tears for Fears: There's a small Asian-style dragon flying towards the band on the left side of The Seeds of Love cover art, possibly alluding to the Eastern Zodiac verse in "Rhythm of Life (Demo)" ("Lucy's sign is the Chinese dragon, oh") even though that song wasn't included in the group's discography until the 2020 super deluxe edition. This dragon has no legs and its wings are fan-like.
  • The song "Welcome to Dying" from Blind Guardian is about a dragon fighting its desires to burn down a town, even if it being a dragon and not a pyromaniac is somewhat ambiguous for most of it it ends with such creature spreading out its wings and flying away.


    Pro Wrestling 

  • While conventional Western Dragons have been summoned in Destroy the Godmodder, the main three dragons in the series are closer to Physical Gods than conventional dragons:
    • The Secret of the Void is a primordial being from the dawn of time who played a major role in creating reality as we know it. He is a major ally of the Narrative and serves as a Big Good for the series until his death at the hands of the Conflict.
    • The Red Dragon is the brother of the Secret of the Void and is a bona-fide Eldrich Abomination the size of an entire planet. He was imprisoned by Notch and the Secret of the Void in a dimension that became the Nether, but shards of him occasionally escape, and exist as powerful bosses in their own right. In addition, Herobrine himself was merely the champion of the Red Dragon, whose real name is "Brine."
    • The Ender Dragon initially appears to be a conventional dragon, albeit a particularly tyrannical one, until the players find out that she is actually a "shadow" created when the Red Dragon was imprisoned, and seeks to free her brother from the confines of the Nether.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Journey into Imagination attraction at EPCOT features Figment, a cheerful purple dragon who acts as the park's mascot. He doesn't seem to have any fire-breathing powers, and he's (for a dragon) not particularly big. He does have some powers, though — in the third incarnation (and the current one) of the attraction, he manages to literally turn his house upside-down.
  • La Tanière du Dragon (The Dragon's Lair), an attraction at Disneyland Paris, features an animatronic dragon in a cave. It does not speak or demonstrate any breath weapon, but it otherwise follows the traditional Western template—huge, four-legged, winged, rugged, and ferocious.
  • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland includes a dragon in the Hell section that closes out the ride. All we see of it is its head, with fins in the place of ears and a single unicorn-like horn, and its foreclaws grasping two stalagmites. It breathes "fire" in the form of fog backlit by an orange lightbulb, accompanied by a sound not unlike a smoker's cough, and may be a Call-Back to the Green Dragon Inn seen earlier in the ride.
  • Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley area incorporates a large model dragon, posed on the roof of the Gringotts Bank. It periodically breathes fire.

  • Throughout the years, The LEGO Group has produced a number of dragons:
    • In the 1990s, the Castle theme introduced 'big-fig' dragons figures built with only a handful of bricks; bright green bodies, frills, a head-piece shared with alligators, a separate wing pieces. The 2013 revival featured a significantly larger big-fig dragon.
    • In the Ninjago theme, the ninjas occasionally use dragons as transport and to assist in combat. They have wildly varying appearances, wyverns, quadrupedal dragons and drakes, and Chinese Lung dragons. Unlike Castle, the dragons are fully brick-built (like a vehicle), and are very posable thanks to ball-and-socket joints. In The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Llyod Garmadon uses a bright green dragon mech based on the Chinese lung dragons.
    • In the Elves theme derived from the girl-centered Friends, the elves ride magical winged two or four-legged dragons in all sorts of flashy colors that behave like giant overgrown dogs. As with Ninjago, they are brick-built, albeit with custom head pieces allowing for more expression.
    • The Creator theme has had a number of dragons that are 100% brick built and like Ninjago encompass all sorts of body types.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: In the spinoff Death Race, the second episode has a dragon from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that looks conspicuously like a blue tank engine with an oddly human face. This is alluding to an infamous Skyrim mod that turns all the dragons into Thomas. Boomstick even references it in his reaction to Thomas turning into a Skyrim dragon:
    Boomstick: Okay, who turned on the Skyrim mods?!
  • Dreamscape: Liz is a Moody Mount who has got a head like a pterodactyl and has wind powers instead of fire powers.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Vance, Bear's pet dragon, is very lanky and looks like something from Skyrim.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Trogdor the Burninator" may be a man, a dragon-man, or maybe just a dragon. The confusion probably arises from the "big beefy arm" he has coming out of his back.
    • There's also a dragon that makes its territory in the general area of the King of Town's castle (or, it did. It hasn't appeared since the Knight accidentally set it to "instant death" instead of "sanitize", so it might still be dead) that appears to be equal parts lizard and kangaroo, with a little bit of deer and bug mixed in for flavor.
  • Matt 'n' Dusty has a big pink wingless dragon that bakes cookies. She's also the most adorable thing on the show so far.
  • Medimoji by ZDoggMD: The EMT is a Mexican dragon. He is mostly benevolent (although he was apparently in prison before becoming an EMT, it was for a nonviolent drug-related offense), just don't call him when it's not an emergency (or use his ambulance as your personal cab), don't wait years for a problem to just go away and then decide it is an emergency at 3 AM, don't be racist, don't give a patient he brings you a UTI or other hospital-acquired infection, and don't have the misfortune of being a newbie EMT on his team.
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions has an entire trope talk dedicated to this subject. Red concludes that there is only one close-to universal trait that defines dragons; Power. A dragon can looks like the western design, a wyvern, the eastern type, a hydra, a giant snake or any other creature, reptilian or not. Even humanoids can be dragons. What they all have in common is that they are powerful. If something is described as a dragon, they are almost guaranteed to be extraordinarily powerful. While a few modern portrayals of dragons have subverted this, they are always meant to subvert the established trope.
  • RWBY:
    • The Sea Feilong is a huge serpentine dragon with four stubby limbs. It lives under the water in the open ocean, but it can sprout wings from its back and fly in the air when it has to. It is also capable of shooting a stream of electricity from its mouth as a Breath Weapon.
    • The Gods of Light and Darkness possess the ability to transform into dragons if they want to. Light transforms into a majestic eastern-style dragon with antlers while Darkness takes on the form of a monstrous western-style dragon with ram's horns and a Draco Lich skeletal face.


Grim Matchstick

Grim Matchstick is a dragon who fights the cups with a variety of fire-based attacks and later grows two extra heads as the battle goes on.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / OurDragonsAreDifferent

Media sources: