Was Toothless really going to abandon Hiccup forever after finding the Light Fury? While he didn't immediately come back, he didn't hesitate saving Hiccup and Astrid from the other dragons in The Hidden World and at the end of the movie it was pretty clear he didn't want to leave Hiccup, meaning he could have been simply waiting for the Light Fury to be ready to go back to New Berk.
Similarly, whether or not Toothless was a good alpha. He never actually does anything for his flock, goes off to the Hidden World despite knowing Grimmel poses a threat to them, and orders them to submit to Grimmel rather than risk the Light Fury's safety. Was his decision to take the dragons away to the Hidden World Toothless finally finding his feet as a leader or one more self-serving decision?
Why did Valka believe that the riders relied too much on their dragons? Was she worried about the dragons' safety or she had come to regret her decision of abandoning her family (especially after the second movie proved it was All for Nothing) and she was now afraid that the riders were going down her same path?
When Hiccup sent the dragons away, was he protecting them or New Berk? Considering that in just a couple of years he has lost both his father and village at the hands of people wanting to hurt Toothless and the other dragons, it is possible that now he considers their presence a constant danger for himself and the other Vikings and has decided that the separation is the only way to prevent further attacks.
This deleted scene puts Astrid's actions during the movie in a new perspective, especially her attitude towards Toothless. Did she really believe that Toothless had abandoned Hiccup, or was she simply trying to get rid of what she considered a dangerous rival for Hiccup's affections?
Why did the Light Fury follow Toothless back to New Berk from the Hidden World? Was she acting out of love for him or was she simply afraid of staying in the Hidden World without his protection? Alternatively is it possible that she followed Toothless just to bring him back to the Hidden World and had no intention of staying in New Berk?
The script's emphasis on the fact that Toothless commands the dragons to leave for the Hidden World — an alpha's command being something that, generally speaking, dragons aren't capable of disobeying — has led some to outright compare him to Drago's Bewilderbeast.
The vikings don't seem particularly sad over the idea of abandoning their homes and leaving Berk forever to search for the Hidden World, including Hiccup who just saw his childhood home being burned down.
Tuffnut doesn't seem particularly upset at the idea of his sister being held prisoner and possibly tortured by Grimmel. Subverted in that he's proven right that she doesn't run any danger, and gets freed a little later.
The humans are appropriately saddened as they release their dragons. The dragons, apart from Toothless, don't seem to care either way . Barf and Belch actually smack Tuffnut in the head on the way out.
Anti-Climax Boss: Given that the first two films feature literal Kaiju battles, this reaction was perhaps expected.
Hiccup and his group take on Grimmels forces with relative ease, and release the entire village's dragons from their cages rather quickly to wreak mostly one-sided havoc.
Although Grimmel manages to drug and control the Light Fury and commands several of his own dragons, Toothless takes out the latter with one powerful attack and he and Hiccup rescue the Light Fury without much aerial struggle afterward.
As pointed out here, the movie reveals that apparently Night Furies are unable to stand cold temperatures, even if Toothless never showed any sign of this either in the first two movies or in the animated series.
The reveal that all the Night Furies, with the exception of Toothless, have been killed by Grimmel. Not only this was never hinted in the previous movies, but it contradicts the first movie where it was stated that nobody had ever seen a Night Fury before Hiccup. Mitigated in that Valka stated in the second movie that Toothless may be the last Night Fury and implied that she had seen them before and even worked closely with them.
The Deathgrippers' venom in general could be considered this. Not only it is revealed that the effects of its mind control cannot be undone by an Alpha dragon, but its other effects also constantly change according to Grimmel's needs at the moment.
Ultimately, the dragons leaving raises a number of issues.
The reason given is that they're not safe and that the world doesn't "deserve" them, but with Grimmel dead, a massive flock behind them, and hints that Hiccup's ideology is spreading offered by the warlords, they're the safest they've ever been in the series. Especially since the Berkians have arguably fought much more dangerous than him.
The reason why the Berkians cannot live in the Hidden World as originally planned which led to the above. The main reason is that the dragons of the Hidden World would not listen to Toothless. When the Light Fury is taken hostage, Toothless is able to effortlessly order his flight to surrender. Not only that, it's revealed in the epilogue that he is able to rule the Hidden World unchallenged.
Even after going into hiding, Toothless and his family hang around on the rocks outside of the Hidden World, exposed enough that Hiccup is able to find and reach them via a small boat.
The possibility of the dragons returning when the world "deserves" them is allowed, but given that the dragons of the Hidden World will attack a human on sight — and that Toothless, after a mere ten years of living there, has adopted this mindset — it isn't clear when, if ever, such an Utopia would even come.
The existence of the titular "Hidden World" also qualifies. Stoick supposedly told Hiccup stories about it when he was younger, but in the first film, his obsession was with finding the nest. If anything, the Vikings should have assumed that the nest WAS the Hidden World (albeit, Stoick does distinguish the nest he sought from the Hidden World. The nest is where the dragons raiding Berk were largely coming from, whereas the Hidden World is where ALL dragons the world over ancestrally originated).
There is very little middle ground when it comes to the Light Fury. Some think her design is cute, some can't stand it. Some think she's nothing more than a Satellite Love Interest for Toothless, some think they're a nice couple. She's intrinsically tied to the fact that the dragons leave, but no one, not even the movie itself, can seem to nail down exactly how much of it was because of her. And that's without getting into the meta stuff surrounding her.
Grimmel is very divisive. Some find him to be a compelling, competent psychological antagonist to round off the trilogy, especially with him being an Evil Counterpart to Hiccup. His detractors see him as a silly, non-threateningFlat Character, who despite being set up by the film as a genius hunter only seems to get ahead by chance due to other characters grabbing the Idiot Ball instead of his own methods or genius. The revelation that Grimmel is also responsible for the almost complete extinction of the Night Furies has divided the fans even further, with some believing that it further justifies him being the final villain, while others believe this revelation was too contrived and generic.
Broken Base: The dragons leaving. Is it a natural turn of events that establishes the message of "loving someone means letting go." or is it a blatant Ass Pull that flies in the face of the message of "co-existence" that was established in the previous films and media?
The movie itself, which is easily the most divisive of the franchise. There are neutral opinions out there, but generally speaking, people either love it or absolutely despise it.
Complete Monster: Grimmel the Grisly is a tenacious, ruthlessly pragmatic dragon hunter and the one responsible for the near-eradication of the Night Fury species. Described as a single-minded predator who adores getting under the skin of his prey and pulling their strings, Grimmel stops at nothing to finish off Toothless to complete his genocide, and threatens to kill everyone Hiccup loves and scourge his island of Berk should he resist him. Grimmel tries to cow Toothless to his control by luring him in with the female of his species, the Light Fury, then threatens the Light Fury's life to force Toothless to corral all of Berk's dragons so Grimmel can butcher them and sell them all off. Grimmel has no qualms torturing and drugging dragons to force them to his control, keeping his six Deathgrippers loyal by subjecting them to their own venom and feeding them baby dragons. Grimmel briefly allies with the would-be warlord Eir Stormheart, provided her dozens of dragons to experiment on and bind to armor that kept them in states of constant agony and insanity, before backstabbing her and absconding with her research to create dragon shock soldiers of his own.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Zephyr and Nuffink, Astrid and Hiccup's daughter and son, have been welcomed almost immediately by the fandom thanks to their Adorkable nature and them being the children of the main couple.
One image seen in the Dragon Eye in the series was a picture of what then appeared to be a Night Fury wreathed in a bright glow. With the reveal of the Light Fury, and the Hidden World where all the dragons live, many fans are now speculating that this was what the Dragon Hunters in Race to the Edge was really after, and that they were trying to hunt down a Light Fury to find the secret entrance to the home of all dragonkind.
Despite Dean DeBlois admitting that he did not consult the makers of the television series when making either Dragon 2 or The Hidden World, many fans have expressed hope and believe that certain characters from the series, such as Heather, Dagur or Mala, would still appear or be referenced in the film, even if only as background cameos with no dialogue.
After DeBlois confirmed that Drago Bludvist's originally intended return was removed in rewrites, many have speculated that Drago would still have a role in the film, even if much smaller than DeBlois' original intent note His army's insignia being on the flags of Grimmel's fleet have especially contributed to this. The most common assumption is that Grimmel killed him between movies and took over his fleet..
His Bewilderbeast, instantly recognizable by his missing tusk, appears in the background at the dragons' Hidden World, suggesting that he's been reformed and accepted by the other dragons and has found a new lease in life.
While the Dragons' disappearance is a Foregone Conclusion, fans have predictably been speculating exactly how or where they go and if they can or will ever come back.
Toothless has been saved from Grimmel and now has a family with the Light Fury, but this doesn't change the fact that he is still The Last of His Kind and that the Night Furies will go extinct after his death.
While the Berkians and the dragons going separate ways is presented as the best solution for both groups, the dragons are now hidden away permanently in what amounts to a safe, sparkly, gilded cage, away from the sun and the open skies, and any progress humankind has made towards understanding them effectively discarded while New Berk has lost their primary means of defense meaning that the next big villain showing up will have nothing to fear.
The fact that this is supposed to take place in the "real world" meant that dragons and humans will never coexist in time, making the sacrifices of Hiccup and the people of Berk a "Shaggy Dog" Story. The fact that dragons as a whole are gone from the world means that Hiccup also unknowingly did what Grimmel exactly wanted to do in the first place if not even more, just not in the way the latter intended.
The fact that ALL dragons have retreated to the Hidden World due to the lack of dragons in present day meant that the allies of Berk in the TV series just lost their own dragons as well. Should they ever go to Hiccup to ask why, they will not be happy about the answer.
Fanon Discontinuity: There are some fans who like to think that this movie never happened due to a variety of things that they view as contradictory to the previous movies. Many do not like how the dragons and humans separated, or comments made by the directors, such as how Hiccup and Toothless do not keep in touch after the latter leaves, going out of their way to destroy their friendship just so that they do not have to make another sequel and pretend that their words were never spoken. Complaints of Esoteric Happy Ending and Broken Aesop took up the bulk of the complaints by the film's detractors.
Genius Bonus: Toothless's goofy and flirtatious dancing is based off of the mating dances of Birds of Paradise, namely the Six-Plumed and Superb Birds of Paradise.
One of which was making a bomb threat which got him arrested. Ironically, Tuff and Ruff are known in-series for their fondness for blowing things up. Yikes.
The film also draws many parallels with Thor: Ragnarok. Toothless channeling lightning? Many jokes were made. Becomes also Harsher in Hindsight when the village of Berk has to be abandoned and both Thor and Hiccup state that Berk/Asgard is not about the land, but about the people.
Gobber, previously confirmed by Word of Gay, is rather attracted to Eret, praising his physique and acting somewhat touchy-feelie, while Eret is mostly confused. In the end Gobber accidentally throws his bouquet prosthetic (It Makes Sense in Context) at Hiccup's wedding, Eret catches it, looks confused for a second and then shrugs acceptingly. Yeah.
Tuffnut's eagerness to help Hiccup on his relationship with Astrid becomes rather suggestive. Tuffnut constantly pulls Hiccup's face into his "full, thick, and manly beard" against his will and is extremely touchy feely with him. He is also seen eagerly pulling Hiccup aside for some "boy talk" on two occasions and is upset when the moment is ruined by Grimmel's trap. He gives him the nickname "Hickey", slaps his butt without hesitation, and shows his support for Hiccup' decisions by shouting "I'M WITH HIM! WHO ELSE?!" and is upset when Ruffnut steals his line. Near the end of the film he pulls Hiccup into a hug saying "Now THAT'S marriage material!"
Though Snotlout is clearly more attracted to Valka that doesn't stop him from slapping Hiccup's butt.
The plot of dealing with a villain who Hiccup underestimates and gets outsmarted by but manages to beat with regaining his confidence and help of his teammates can feel somewhat repetitive to people who have watched the Netflix series and Cartoon Network run, which both had quite similar plot threads in few points.
The "Toothless gets captured, exploited, and then set free so he and Hiccup can save the day together" twist has also featured in the climax of all the three movies.
Fans of the animated series have also accused Grimmel of being simply an Expy of Viggo.
Given the Light Fury's color scheme, many Blue-Eyes White Dragon jokes have been made. It helps that, in the backstory of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the dragon is female, or at least was the protective spirit of a woman.
Fans joked that Toothless's offspring would look like pandas or cows, which ended up being Hilarious in Hindsight when it's revealed that their children are indeed a mix of black and white, though looking more like bicolor kittens.
lemme smash explanation A common joke that is brought up whenever the subject of dancing Birds of Paradise are brought up. With Toothless's mating dance resembling that of said birds, crossover jokes were inevitable.
Toothless Presents Himself Explanation A three-panel exploitable used as an object-labeling meme, originating from the scene where Toothless awkwardly attempts to introduce himself to a confused Light Fury, with Hiccup — playing the Romantic Wingman role — providing cues and silently cheering him on from afar. It is mainly used to represent similarly embarassing scenarios ocurring in real life, in particular those caused by following bad advice or committing a Fee Fi Faux Pas, as well as doing something that is supported by a minority party but weirds out the majority of people.
The younger Hiccup shown with Stoick in flashbacks is adorable.
Zephyr and Nuffink, Astrid and Hiccup's daughter and son, are very cute in an Adorkable way.
Like their parents, the babies of Toothless and the Light Fury are quite the adorable dragons.
Moral Event Horizon: Good luck guessing when Grimmel crosses it, though it was as late as when he tried to off Toothless himself, ignoring the other hunters who believed he would let them at the Night Fury.
It could have also been when he burned down Hiccup's house and an entire section of Berk, threatening to destroy everything Hiccup loved if he didn't surrender Toothless to him.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Toothless and the Light Fury meet, court, and fall in love within the space of several days. He not only chooses her over Hiccup, but orders the hundreds of dragons occupying Berk to submit to Grimmel rather than risk her life.
Strangled by the Red String: Fishlegs and Ruffnut end up together at the end of the movie, even if she never showed any interest in him during the second movie and they barely interact with each other in the third one.
Having Toothless suddenly go back to be a wild being, ignoring his Character Development, significantly downplaying his intelligence and changing his motivations for coming back to Berk at the end of the Gift of the Night Fury short from him not wanting to fly without Hiccup to him simply not finding a suitable mate.
Changing the relationship between Vikings and Dragons to one that is advantageous for both groups to one where the dragons are described as wild animals who need to be free (including Cloudjumper, even if he was the one who chose his rider and not the other way around) and the vikings are said to rely too much on their dragons, even if the movie doesn't show the audience any evidence of this.
Renouncing the series' message about how friendship and collaboration make us stronger and replacing it with a more generic one about finding your strength inside yourself.
The Night Furies. They were teased in all the other entries of the franchise but the movie reveals that with the exception of Toothless they all have been killed. We will never see Toothless interact with another Night Fury and we know almost nothing about the species.
Valka has even less screentime than the second movie, meaning we see almost nothing of her relationship with her son, her reintegration into human society, how she is dealing with Stoick's death or her reaction to the dragons leaving — even Cloudjumper, her companion of 20 years.
Grimmel's Deathgrippers. Drugged into compliance, they're both natural predators and the embodiment of everything ugly about humankind's treatment of dragons. They're given very little attention and Toothless unceremoniously electrocutes them in the climax, and they fall to the ocean never to be seen again.
Hiccup only has Gobber, Valka and the other riders helping him get the dragons back in the final battle, while the other Berkians simply stay behind and watch. Eret joins the fight once the dragons are freed, but appears in a single scene where he is decked in an armor and is recognizable more or less only by his mount.
The Warlords serve as Drago Bludvist's successors and are implied to have been in conflict with Hiccup and Berk for the past year. These characters could have been an intimidating threat even without Grimmel, and the fact that at least one of them is from outside the Barbaric Archipelago could have been used to show how the rest of the world views Berk and its peace with the dragons. Instead they are relegated to minor joke villains while Grimmel serves as the Big Bad, and they are sidelined during the climax with their final fates left ambiguous.
The Light Fury, despite being billed as a new main character, is only portrayed as a Satellite Love Interest for Toothless with all the baggage that it would carry. Her past and motivations, if she has any, could have gone a long way to explain and justify why she is hostile towards humans and wants Toothless to leave with her, but this is never fleshed out. Not surprisingly, this undeveloped portrayal winded up turning her into the single biggest Base-Breaking Character of the entire film franchise.
We see glimpses of Berk as a dragon-human utopia only for half an hour before the Berkians are forced to leave to search for the Hidden World.
Near the beginning of the film Gobber warns Hiccup that one day, he's going to pick a fight he can't win. While this intends to foreshadow the threat that Grimmel poses, said unwinnable fight never actually occurs, with the climactic victory against Grimmel and the warlords being accomplished with no casualties whatsoever.
Mixed with Malignant Plot Tumor, the fact that the movie doesn't seem capable of deciding why exactly the dragons need to leave: it not only introduces multiple and sometimes contradictory reasons, but it also never completely develops them, causing the final separation to come across as sudden rather than the logical conclusion of the events shown in the movie.
Instead of simply separating, Toothless could have attempted to make the Hidden World's dragons accept the humans, making it the perfect Hourglass Plot to cap off the trilogy.
The movie almost immediately skips to the reunion between Toothless and Hiccup, not showing us the consequences of the dragons' departure, or its emotional impact on Hiccup and the other riders. It also doesn't reveal what happened to the other characters after all those years.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: While the movie accuses Hiccup of being too selfish and dependent on his friendship with Toothless, quite a few fans have pointed out that Hiccup not only doesn't act differently from the previous entries of the franchise, but also that he openly encourages Toothless to go after the Light Fury and he almost immediately accepts that Toothless doesn't need him anymore and that he needs to let him go.
We're supposed to cheer for Toothless and his love life, but he abandons both Hiccup and his flock of dragons when they need him most over the Light Fury and condemns them to enslavement to save her once she's taken hostage. This made Toothless come off unwilling to sacrifice his own wants for the good of those he leads, which Hiccup was presented as in the wrong for and had to overcome.
What an Idiot!: A common criticism levelled against the film is that, despite intending to show Grimmel as a strategic genius who's always a step ahead of everyone else, most of his advantages come from the other characters making mistakes that he has no control or knowledge of.
The warlords' decision of trusting Grimmel in capturing Toothless alive, even if he has them in clear contempt, he is driven by Fantastic Racism against dragons and is responsible for the almost complete extinction of the Night Furies. He promptly betrays them the moment he decides to kill Toothless and they are unable to do anything about it.
When Valka returns from her scout mission to report on the enemy fleet, Hiccup decides to lead the riders to hostile territory to capture Grimmel, despite not knowing the place or if Grimmel is actually there. The mission ends in failure and also results in Ruffnut being captured.
For that matter, none of the riders notice Ruffnut missing until after they have already returned to New Berk. This includes her brother Tuffnut, even though the two of them share the same dragon.
Ruffnut revealing the position of New Berk to Grimmel by mistake, not being suspicious of the fact that he let her go and not making sure she hadn't been followed by him and the warlords, leading to Toothless' capture. It's rather irksome that she never gets any meaningful consequences for her moronic actions.
Toothless knows that Grimmel's weapons of choice are his Instant Sedation darts. He knows that his plasma blasts take a fair bit of time to charge. Upon seeing the Light Fury hit by one, his strategy is to run up and stand there slowly charging inches away from Grimmel, who shoots him easily.
During their first confrontation, Grimmel heavily implies that Hiccup's idea for peaceful coexistance with dragons could easily spread, which would spell disaster for people like himself who make a profit off capturing and killing them. Instead of actually trying to convince other cultures and people of his progressive ideals note If the TV series is canon, he was already able to do this with the Outcasts, Berserkers and Defenders Of The Wing, Hiccup and Toothless go out of their way to ensure that no one else can ever take them up.
WTH, Costuming Department?: The response to the Light Fury has been... mixed. Some love the bright white color scheme, streamlined appearance, and the fact that she resembles a beluga whale while others dislike the much smoother, subtly sparkly and overall less angular design, and have accused DreamWorks of designing her like that in an attempt to pander to little girls. That none of the other female dragons we've seen look anywhere near as overtly feminine doesn't help matters in this regard. Some would be fine with the design if not for Word of God saying that she looks like this for no other reason than to "convey the idea that she's female."