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Wyverns are a specific type of draconic monster, usually depicted as creatures similar to typical western dragons without forelegs, leaving their wings and legs as their only limbs. Depending on the work, they may either be a specific type of dragon or creatures related to but distinct from true dragons.

Wyverns originate from the heraldry and folklore of the British Isles, where since the sixteenth century a distinction was drawn between dragons with two legs and dragons with four (unlike in continental Europe, where this distinction was not typically made). Folkloric wyverns were often referred to as "dragon" and "wyvern" fairly interchangeably, although not every dragon was also referred to as a wyvern, resulting in wyverns being generally treated as a specific type of dragon.

In modern fiction, wyverns are usually distinguished from other types of dragon by a number of traits in addition to their limb count:

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  • They are usually bipeds in the same manner as birds and other bipedal dinosaurs, although they may also be show walking on all fours like bats or pterosaurs.
  • They are typically venomous in some form; they're most often given a venomous, scorpion-like stinger at the end of their tails, but a venomous bite or poisoned breath may also appear instead of or alongside stinging tails. Note here that "wyvern" comes from the same linguistic root as "viper".
  • They tend to be less intelligent and more animalistic than other types of dragon, rarely being capable of speech even when "true dragons" speak fluently, and being smaller and less powerful to boot. Even when capable of speech, they tend to be portrayed as fairly stupid.
  • They rarely if ever possess a Breath Weapon outside of the aforementioned poisonous breath, and are rarely depicted with Dragon Hoards.
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Game settings home to both typically have wyverns as common Mooks or wandering monsters, while Western and Eastern dragons tend to show up as powerful, unique bosses and campaign-ending villains.

Note that it is not uncommon in modern fiction for dragons to have this body plan but still be described as dragons and not really fit most of the other criteria such as low intelligence, birdlike postures and so on — Smaug in the last two Hobbit movies, the dragons in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and Reign of Fire, Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer and King Ghidorah are all examples of this. As a rule of thumb, if the work itself calls them dragons and not wyverns, then they're probably not wyverns for the purposes of this trope.

Compare other recurring types of dragons or draconic creatures, such as drakes (typically quadrupeds with weak or non-existent wings) and amphipteres (serpentine, winged and legless), which may sometimes be classified alongside wyverns as part of a category of "lesser dragons".

Subtrope of Our Dragons Are Different, and consequently of Our Monsters Are Different. For less fantastic creatures with similar depictions, compare Kidnapping Bird of Prey and Ptero Soarer.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bakugan: Wyvern (or Wavern in the English dub) is a White One, an attributeless and mutated Bakugan, along with her Evil Twin brother Naga. Both Wyvern and Naga are bipedal dragons with bat-like arm-wings, so they fit the description of typical wyverns.
  • High School D×D:
    • "Dividing Wyvern Fairy" is a technique which Issei develops in volume 16, summoning wyvern-like spirits that can wield the shard of the white dragon Albion's "Divide" power embedded in his armour (which is normally too incompatible with his own red dragon "Boost" powers to use safely). Later he learns how to have the wyverns switch between white and red forms, and to combine into a duplicate of his armour which can be worn by his allies.
    • In volume 21 it's revealed that Albion was once a poisonous dragon named Gwiber (a Welsh figure cognate with "wyvern"), but became disgusted by his abilities and sealed them away. When he comes to accept his old name he unlocks the original version of Dividing Wyvern Fairy, equipped with a poison which can kill even gods.
  • Knight's & Magic: The Vyver is a colossal wyvern-shaped battleship which serves as the secret weapon of the Zaloudek Kingdom. In addition to the levitation technology common to Zaloudek airships, its designer also managed to reverse-engineer Ernesti's rocket thruster designs, allowing it to travel at incredible speed and blast enemy bases apart before they know what's happening.
  • Record of Lodoss War: Wyverns are relatively small (read: elephant-sized), unintelligent, non-fiery, two-legged dragons that are domesticated and flown by knights.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Wyverns appear rarely under the drake creature type, which contains animalistic, two-winged and two-legged creatures related to true dragons. Wyverns in particular are distinguished by their bipedal gaits, whereas most other drakes used their wings as a second pair of walking limbs like bats do. Specific wyverns in the game include sabertoothed wyverns and thunder-making ones. Most are aligned with Blue or, more rarely, White mana.
    • Though not dragons or drakes the "pterosaurs" of Ixalan resemble feathered wyverns or really ugly birds.

    Fan Works 
  • Besides the Will of Evil: Wyverns were among the monsters created by Reiziger during the Deer War and which become part of his forces again when he returns. They resemble cobras with dragon wings and blue fire burning in their mouths, eyes, and a slit along their backs.

    Films — Animation 
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Deadly Nadders share several characteristics with classical wyverns, being very birdlike, four-limbed bipedal dragons with tails bristling with (non-poisonous) blades.

    Literature 
  • Council Wars: Wyverns were genetically engineered alongside their Greater Dragon relatives in the 21st Century by Disney Genegeneers, and like them are only able to fly at all because of muscles and bones made from incredibly strong and light "bioextruded carbon-nanotube". While Greater Dragons are sapient, wyverns are about as smart as a horse.
  • In Imagine Someday, "true" dragons died out a long time ago, but wyverns appear in the story. They don't like being mistaken for their four-legged cousins and unlike many of the other examples here have no magic powers to speak of.
  • Ology Series: Wyverns appear as a dragon species in Dragonology, where in something of a break from tradition they're the single largest species of dragon in the world and mainly live in Africa, where they hunt elephants and rhinoceri in much the same manner as eagles hunting marmots.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Wyverns, mentioned and described in supplemental material, resemble dragons but cannot breathe fire, and inhabit the swamps and jungles of Sothoryos. There is speculation in-universe that the Valyrians may have bred the first dragons from wyvern stock.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle: Wyverns are slightly smaller than a barn, two-legged and two-winged, and somewhat sapient, though most aren't terribly bright. True dragons also exist, and are much bigger and much more powerful.
  • Trash of the Count's Family: Wyverns are related to dragons, but are much less intelligent and don't seem to be able to use magic. They're used as mounts by the Wyvern Riders of the Paerun Kingdom.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Merlin: Wyverns appear in "Eye of the Phoenix". They're a lot smaller than dragons and act more like a pack of intelligent, but not sapient, animals. Gwaine mentions that they are distant cousins of the dragons, but it seems wyverns are at least closely related enough that a dragonlord may command them.

    Myths & Folklore 
  • Biblical seraphim (as well as predecessors in other mythologies such as the egyptian goddess Wajdet and the dragons that carried Medea's chariot) can be considered the Ur-Example: they're dragons that are nothing but wings and no legs. Have some pictures
  • Wyverns feature fairly often in English folk tales, where the term is often used fairly interchangeably with "dragon".
    • The Mordiford Wyvern was killed by a convict named Carston in exchange for his freedom. Carston hid inside a barrel coated with spikes, and when the dragon tried to eat him it ended up impaling itself. However, its blood trickled in and poisoned Carston to death.
    • In a similar story, the Sockburn Wyvern was slain by John Conyers, who wore a set of spiky armor so that the wyvern impaled itself while it was trying to crush him to death, and Conyers then hacked it to pieces with his falchion.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Wyverns are mid-level monsters under the dragon creature type, although not true dragons and lacking a Breath Weapon. They have scorpion-like stingers that inject a deadly venom and are much smaller than true dragons, although considering the sizes dragons reach on adulthood wyverns are still large enough to comfortably fly off with a cow in their talons. They are also much less intelligent and much more bestial than true dragons, although they are smart enough to occasionally serve their more powerful relatives as minions.
    • Tiamat, god of the chromatic dragons (evil-aligned true dragons) appears as an enormous dragon with five heads, one for each of the species she rules over. Interestingly, she also has a wyvern's poisonous tail, despite wyverns being neither true dragons nor exactly evil. Some settings explain this as Tiamat being an Anthropomorphic Personification of dragons' potential for savagery, with her wyvern traits making her the dragon equivalent of a Beast Man.
  • GURPS: GURPS Dragons and GURPS Fantasy Bestiary include four-limbed wyverns as one of the several subtypes of dragons they describe.
    • They have no breath weapons but possess poisonous barbs at the end of their long tails. They are clumsy walkers but frighteningly fast fliers, and thus prefer to attack targets from the air. They're largely animals, although smart ones, and the book notes that all-dragon campaigns might use them as pets or attack dogs for dragon characters; GURPS Fantasy Bestiary further describes them as dragon-like, but as not actually being dragons. Variations include one able to shoot quills from its tail.
    • GURPS Dragons notes their origins in medieval heraldry, and speculates that, since explicit wyverns appear almost always in heraldry, modern fantasy wyverns likely originated from people noticing them in crests and coats of arms and deciding they looked interesting enough to include as in-game creatures.
  • Pathfinder uses effectively the same kind of wyvern that D&D does — stupid, aggressive and evil relations of true dragons with no breath weapons but with deadly stingers at the end of their tails.
    • They can interbreed with true dragons just fine, although true dragons can in practice breed with just about anything; dragon/wyvern interbreeding in the ancient past is thought to have resulted in the creation of the drakes, another type of dragons resembling large wyverns without stingers but with their draconic progenitors' elemental breaths.
    • They are also related to amphipteres, similarly animalistic lesser dragons who go one further than wyverns and have no limbs whatsoever save for their wings. They have piercing tails like wyverns do, although they do not possess poison and instead use their tail blades as slashing, whiplike weapons.
  • Warhammer: Wyverns are often raised by Orcs as war mounts. They are about as smart as horses and are smaller and much less powerful than true dragons, from which they're also distinguished by their smaller size, poisonous sting and vicious temperament. Notable specimens include Skullmuncha, the steed of the legendary Orc warlord Azhag the Slaughterer, and the Beast, a seemingly immortal wyvern fought and slain several times by the Bretonnian knight Calard of Garamont.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Wonders:
    • Wyvern riders appear as a mounted units in the goblin roster in the first two games. They do not have the dragons descriptor, unlike true dragons and hydras, and have poisonous attacks while being immune to poison themselves.
    • In Age of Wonders 3, wyverns are reclassified as true dragons and serve as minions to their greater kin, with one type of wyvern existing as a mirror of each of the five types of dragons — fire, ice, gold, obsidian and bone. Unusually, these wyverns do have six limbs — their forelegs are simply minuscule, atrophied things with no practical use.
  • Ancient Empires: The first game features wyverns as flying fire-breathing units. The sequel has dragons instead. They are virtually identical in function, being the most powerful and most expensive unit. Due to their flight, they are not slowed down by any terrain (but still benefit from its defensive bonuses).
  • Ark Survival Evolved: Wyverns are monsters introduced in the Scorched Earth map and also present in the Ragnarok and Extinction maps. They are smaller and weaker relatives of the dragon boss monster, and can be tamed and ridden as mounts if raised from the egg. They come in several variants:
    • Common wyverns come in fire, poison, lightning and ice variants, distinguished by their scale colors and associated Breath Weapons.
    • Forest Wyverns are a specific kind that only spawns during the Forest Titan fight, does not attack and largely serves as a source of convenient mounts during the fight.
    • Alpha wyverns are larger, stronger and rarer variants of common fire wyverns.
    • Zombie wyverns are undead wyverns that spawned during the 2016 Halloween event. Dodo wyverns, which spawned during the same event, had birdlike beaks and could use the breath weapons of the regular fire, poison and lightning variants.
  • Dark Souls: While the true dragons are long gone by the time of the franchise, various four-limbed dragons collectively referred to as wyverns show up at various points in the franchise. While still very large and powerful creatures by human standards, these wyverns are still of much lesser power and intellect than their mighty progenitors that used to rule the world.
  • In Dota 2, the Winter Wyvern is one of the many playable heroes. She fits the body type of a two-legged dragon with wings, but unlike the common depiction of wyverns, she is rather intelligent (leading to her being described as a "Bookwurm") and polite, and has an ice-elemental Breath Weapon. She is also occasionally referred to as a dragon by other characters, which suggests that wyverns are considered a type of dragon in this universe.
  • Dragon Age: Wyverns are "cousins" of sorts to the series' true dragons. They can't fly or breath fire — they're more like wingless hulking, Komodo dragon-esque beasts than anything else — but they're just as vicious and they spit deadly poison (which particularly adventurous nobles use to brew a Fantastic Drug). They will often attack in small packs, indicating a degree of high animal intelligence.
  • Dragon Quest originally had wyverns — creatures that had the head and wings of a condor and the body of a snake. Later, however, these were renamed to chimeras.
  • EverQuest: Wyverns are bipedal dragonoids whose wings extend from their shoulders to their claws at the end of their arms. They stand about 8 feet tall, and are usually more intelligent than drakes and wurms. Among dragon society, Wyverns usually rank below Dragons themselves.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Wyverns are common Demonic Spiders in the game, being depicted as bipedal dragonic beings who either attack with their claws or with wind attacks. They have a rather high chance of Critical Hits and often appear in swarms. Most of them are Rider-class enemies, so are weak to Assassin-class Servants. While wyverns do have the Dragon trait, they are much smaller and less dangerous than actual dragons in the game.
  • Fire Emblem: Both two-legged and four-legged wyvern varieties have been depicted in the series — usually the four-legged kind is tame and can be used as a mount, while the two-legged kind is wilder and has the ability to breathe fire (though this isn't always depicted). The Japanese term hiryuunote  is sometimes translated as "wyverns" and sometimes as "dragons", though they are clearly distinct from the sapient dragons that tend to play a major role in Fire Emblem plots.
    • Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, features feral wyverns as enemies, which have both a high Speed stat and the highest movement speed of any unit in the series (12 squares where the normal maximum is 8). It's also revealed that these wyverns once were sapient dragons, being one of the tribes who failed to escape degeneration; there's even a hidden shop which sells a wyvern Dragonstone, allowing a playable manakete to transform into a wyvern. In Japan, this is one of the only times that the english word wyvern is actually used, being mentioned as the proper name for the species of dragon. With this in mind, the translation of Dragon Knight as Wyvern Rider was a Lucky Translation.
    • The usual promotion path for mounted characters (Japanese names first, English in brackets if available) is Dragon Rider -> Dragon Knight (Wyvern Rider) -> Dragon Master (Wyvern Lord). Sometimes the Dragon Knight is also available as a promotion for the Pegasus Knight class.
    • The Sacred Stones notably allows a Dragon Knight to promote into either Dragon Master or "Wyvern Knight". The latter has that name in both English and Japanese, and is the only class in that game to ride a two-legged mount rather than a four-legged one. Conversely the Dragon Rider class, which appears in only two games, starts with a two-legged mount and switches it for a four-legged one on promotion.
  • In Guild Wars 2, wyverns look like tiny (1-3x the size of a human) dragons that breathe fire or electricity; some adults have goat horns. While actual dragons exist and are quite important to the plot of the game, wyverns are unrelated to them and instead are a flying relative of drakes, a common environmental enemy that resemble alligators.
  • Hexen has the Death Wyvern, which appears as the Boss of the second hub, bombarding you with streams of explosive fireballs. It's also undead, meaning it doubles as a Dracolich.
  • In Magic Carpet, in an inversion of how things usually work, dragons are fairly low-level enemies that look like flying caterpillars and shoot fireballs, while the wyverns that you encounter much later look like traditional dragons.
  • Minecraft: The third-party mod Mo' Creatures includes Wyverns, two-legged dragons with birdlike bipedal stances. They live in a separate dimension, the Wyvern Lair, accessed through use of a special staff. When killed, they can drop an egg that can be hatched into a tame wyvern. They come in different Palette Swaps depending on what biome they spawn in, in addition to extra-large mother wyverns, which can be turned into light, dark and undead wyverns with the right essence.
  • Monster Hunter: Most of the monsters one fights are wyverns of some sort, typically four-limbed, winged reptiles with a long tail and claws on both wings. They are extremely diverse, and nearly every main monster in the series that isn't an arthropod, mammal or amphibian or one of the immensely powerful Elder Dragons is classified as a wyvern of some kind.
    • "Bird Wyverns" are either small wyverns with bird-like features (like beaks and feathers) or dromaeosaurs the size of small cars.
    • "Flying Wyverns" are larger, more dragon-like wyverns. They vary greatly in design and size, including such creatures as the wormlike Khezu, the batlike Paolumu, the fire-breathing reptilian Rathalos and the colossal stony Gravios. Not all of them can fly.
    • "Pseudo-Wyverns" tend to use their wings as forelegs, and often resemble real-life animals like panthers and tyrannosaurs. The exceptions are Akantor and Ukanlos, who lack wings but still have the Pseudo-Wyvern body structure.
    • "Piscine Wyverns" are amphibious monsters found in either water, lava or sand, and often resemble fish.
    • "Brute Wyverns" are more tyrannosaur-like theropods, always wingless (their forelimbs are typically stubby arms) and built for brute strength.
    • "Fanged Wyverns" are quadrupedal, terrestrial monsters with no wings and can be either reptilian (Great Jagras, Tobi-Kadachi) or mammalian (Zinogre, Odogaron).
    • "Snake Wyverns" are serpentine creatures with long bodies and forked tongues.
  • Pokémon:
    • The original wyvern-like (albeit not Dragon-type) Pokémon is the resurrected fossil Aerodactyl, which also has traits in common with pterosaurs.
    • Noivern is a batlike Flying/Dragon-type based off of wyverns both in appearance and name. It has no particular connection to poison, however, and mostly focuses on sonic damage.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon have Naganadel, a dual Poison/Dragon-type with two wings, two arms and an enormous syringe-like stinger at the end of its abdomen.
  • Terraria:
    • The Wyvern is a long, slender white dragon that roams the higher parts of the map in Hardmode.
    • Betsy is an actual wyvern (a dragon-like creature with a pair of wings and no other front limbs) and appears at the end of the Old One's Army event.
  • Total War: Warhammer: Wyverns, four-limbed winged dragons that move on the ground like bats, appear as high-tier mounts for Orc Hero Units. The Legendary Lord Azhag can get a unique wyvern called Skullmuncha. Wyverns also appear in the campaign map as decorative flyers over the Badlands the Orcs hold at the beginning of the game, replacing the birds, pegasi and griffins that fly over the human and dwarven homelands.
  • Warcraft:
    • Wyverns don't appear to be related to dragons in any way. They look like lions with batlike wings and a scorpion-like tail (your encyclopedia of mythology would identify these as traits more befitting a manticore). They are apparently quite intelligent and used by the Horde as flying mounts.
    • Creatures with the usual body shape of wyverns were introduced in Wrath of the Lich King and named proto-dragons. They are the original Azerothian lifeform that the Titans modified to create the Dragon Aspects. Unlike Dragons, they are generally unintelligent beasts.

    Web Comics 
  • Dark Wings: Wyverns are sapient, bipedal dragon relatives the size of horses with dexterous claws on their wings and venomous barbs on their tails. Most of them are either in hidden colonies or joined with The Empire.
  • Skin Deep: Wyverns were one of the various types of western dragons once present in the setting. Like all other variants, they were driven into extinction during a vicious war of mutual annihilation between the dragons and sphinxes during the middle ages.
  • Slightly Damned: Wyverns are small snake-like reptiles with bird wings and come in a variety of colors and subspecies. They possess magic that allows them to control wind and lightning, and are also the only living relatives to the now extinct wind dragons.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Last Crusade", Scootaloo mentions wyverns among the dangerous beasts her parents study — specifically mentioning how her mother had to "wing-wrestle" one once — but how they may or may not differ from the setting's other dragons is not explained.

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