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The Dragon

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"What is thy bidding, my master?"

"This world and everything in it now belong to darkness! They belong to my master!"

A person or monster The Hero has to get past to get at the Big Bad. Much of the time, but not necessarily, the Big Bad's top enforcer. He, she or it embodies a narrative trope: the penultimate challenge that the hero must face before confronting the Big Bad. This challenge will test their worthiness in some fundamental way.

Some Dragons are ferocious fighters who leave the heavy thinking to the boss. Others are smart, detail-oriented administrators who oversee the day-to-day running of the evil organization. A common but by no means universal theme is to have the Dragon pose a physical challenge to the hero, while the Big Bad poses a mental or moral challenge.

This role is somebody the Big Bad can rely on (or thinks they can rely on) in a time of trouble to step up and beat the living heck out of The Hero, or maybe just take charge for a while, should the Big Bad not be around to do the job.


The term dragon for this role originates from analysis of folklore in which the hero fights dragons or other monsters. As described in "The Hero with a Thousand Faces", a non-fiction comparison of various fantasy heroes written by Joseph Campbell, monsters serve as obstacles to be overcome in order to fulfill the hero's quest. Note, however, that in folklore they are villains or obstacles in their own right (see the tale of Saint George The Dragonslayer) whereas in accordance with this trope (which mostly applies to modern media) they are often subordinate to other villains.

For literal dragons and their permutations, see Our Dragons Are Different. Not to be confused with Dragon Lady, who is more likely to be a Big Bad than the Dragon, or Dragon, which was a magazine. Definitely not to be confused with The Savage Dragon.


The Champion may be The Dragon if they follow the Big Bad, or may play a similar role to a straight Dragon for a nonvillainous character. See also: The Man Behind the Man, Hypercompetent Sidekick, Psycho for Hire, The Consigliere.

Tropes related to The Dragon:

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    Board Games 
  • In chess, the queen is arguably the Dragon of the king, and quite clearly the most powerful piece on the board. Just look at any themed chess set: the Big Bad will be the king, and the Dragon will be the queen.
  • In Betrayal at House on the Hill, there were several Dragons, ranging from a literal example to a slasher killer, a witch, and even man eating plants. One of the players could even be the Dragon to the scenario's Big Bad... or turn out to be Big Bad, and get furnished with a Dragon. The game has "betrayal" in its name for a reason.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Volrath has Greven.
    • ... As Greven has his Vhati il-Dal.
    • And Volrath himself was Dragon to Yawgmoth, until he was replaced by Crovax (and, later still, Tsabo Tavoc).
      • Technically (at least according to the novels) Tsabo and Crovax were active at the same time, not to mention a Phyrexian-augmented Ertai, running about causing havoc. So it's more like a case of triple Dragons, no? Also, in that same block the 5 Dragons were awakened, each of whom had their own Golem Attendant, that could be considered their own Dragons.
      • Ertai has more shades of Evil Genius; Yawgmoth would too, except that he's the Big Bad. The five dragons are more a case of Good Is Not Nice, though.
    • In Kamigawa, Lady Masako the Humorless serves Emperor Konda as administrator, and she's a rather harsh mistress. Oh, and despite the trappings, she's not Konda's wife.
      Konda's servants dared not neglect their duties for a moment under Masako's icy gaze, knowing that what she saw, Lord Konda would hear.
    • In Conflux, Nicol Bolas (the Big Bad despite being a literal dragon) has Gwafa Hazid, Malfegor, and Rakka Mar as minions, but had to go for something extra special to lead them - Sarkhan Vol, a psychopathic, dragon-worshipping (and perhaps Brainwashed and Crazy) planeswalker. He also has Tezzeret, a planeswalker he has rebuilt after said planeswalker was Mind Raped and left for dead by Jace Beleren. Bolas has saved Tezzeret from death twice, so the latter owes the former a significant debt, albeit grudgingly.

    Films — Animation 
  • Chakal from The Book of Life, has one in a bearded bandit named Chato who informs him of his medal's whereabouts.
  • Care Bears
  • In The Flight of Dragons, the evil red wizard Ommadon's Dragon is a literal dragon, Bryaugh, who is defeated by the Hero's literal Lancer, Sir Orin. Sir Orin is a knight who allows Bryaugh to engulf him in flames, then casts his fiery sword into Bryaugh's chest. They both die, though Orin gets better.
  • In Disney's Hercules, the Hydra is a large serpentlike creature, a literal dragon sent by Hades to kill Hercules. After the Hydra's defeat, Hades sends more monsters, only to have Hercules defeat them all.
  • In The Invincible Iron Man, the leader of the four elemental mini-bosses and The Dragon to the mystically powered Mandarin is an actual dragon, the physically dominating Fin Fang Foom, who gives Iron-man his toughest battle, where the magically powered Mandarin is defeated by reaching out to the Mandarin's host and convincing her to cut the Mandarin's power at its source, the magic rings.
  • The Prophet: The Commandant is in charge, but its the Sergeant who enacts his will; be that leading the soldiers, retrieving Mustafa, or destroying Mustafa's work to ensure his legacy will be gone.
  • Roadside Romeo has Chhainu, Charlie Anna's bumbling top enforcer.
  • In The Snow Queen (2012), the Snow Queen controls the powerful North Wind.
  • In the obscure movie Twice Upon a Time, The Big Bad Synonamess Botch has a dragon in the form of Ibor, a giant mechanical gorilla with a television for a face. (Neatly, one of the clips that turns up on said face is of Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes BackGeorge Lucas executive produced this film.)

  • In Rhapsody (of Fire)'s musically told-fantasy-epic, the Algalord Saga, Akron the Black King, prone to ravaging every proverbial puppy in the story is served loyally by The Dragon Dargor, a fearless and honourable half-demon warrior prince, who is apparently so awesome as to warrant an entire song of his own (with two variations!). All of this is a fairly transparent foreshadowing of Dargor's Heel–Face Turn at the climax of the story. And HOW!
  • Cyborg Noodle acts as one to Murdoc in the Gorillaz canon.
  • Nikki acts as this for Doctor X in Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime.
  • In the Evillious Chronicles, Lemy Abelard and Gear serve as these for Pere Noël and the awakened vessels, respectively.



    Pro Wrestling 


  • In Survival of the Fittest, the main Dragon to Danya (although he has a number of prominent henchmen) is Steve Wilson, who was effectively in charge of orchestrating a whole slew of the kidnappings which comprised Version 2 of SOTF. However, the three other members of the so-called "Big Four" — Jim Greynolds, Melvin Carter and Sonia Nguyen — could each be considered a dragon in their own right; it's up to interpretation who is the official right-hand man.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is literally the scenario in the Age of Worms campaign where the Big Bad's second in command is a dracolich.
  • Various The World of Darkness games give vampires and mages the ability to create what effectively is their own Dragon. Vampires in both Vampire: The Requiem and Vampire: The Masquerade have ghouls, human slaves who are addicted to vampire blood, inherit a share of the vampire's powers, and generally acts as a vampire's bodyguard and enforcer wherever the vampire him or herself isn't required. Mage: The Awakening gives mages have their own version of this, called Sleepwalkers. These are humans immune to paradox, that allow mages to do all sorts of nifty, reality bending tricks without a nasty abyssal horror eating their faces off.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the cosmology, Dagon serves as The Dragon for Demogorgon, he closest thing the Demons have to a leader. It's hinted, though, that Dagon does this because it's a convenient cover for his own plans, and that he gets quite a bit more out of the bargain than Demogorgon (for one, Demogorgon is on pretty much everyone else's hitlist, be they rival demon lords, archdevils, celestial paragons or even some deities and mortals. Dagon? Not so much). He may even be the Obyrith behind the Tanar'ri.
    • Also in the Dungeons & Dragons cosmology, Tiamat (the evil Dragon Goddess of the chromatic dragons) has five dragons (one of each chromatic type) as her Dragons.
    • Within the Greyhawk setting, Kas was the right hand man, enforcer, and assassin of the archlich Vecna until he betrayed his master.
    • Typically averted with actual dragons: if the players meet an evil dragon it is usually the Big Bad of the adventure.
  • The Herald from the Cthulhu Mythos board game, Arkham Horror. Giving the Ancient One a Herald greatly increases the difficulty of the game and every expansion adds a new Herald to the pool.
  • Quite a few in Legend of the Five Rings, as the Big Bad Fu Leng spends almost all of the story as Sealed Evil in a Can. During the Clan War, the undead Scorpion shugenja Yogo Junzo opened the first of the Black Scrolls that kept Fu Leng imprisoned, and led armies of Shadowlands monsters and undead to find the others. Junzo has his own dragon, Moto Tsume.
  • The James Bond RPG refers to this character type as the "Privileged Henchman".

  • In noh theater, this archetype is called the wakizure, second to the waki who is the Big Bad.

    Web Animation 

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Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Second Biggest Bad, Penultimate Villain, Trusted Lieutenant, Board Games, Card Games, Music, Pinball, Radio, Tabletop Games, Web Animation


Bianca the Rabbit

Bianca is the apprentice to the Sorceress and acts on her behalf.

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