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The greatest dragons from motion pictures, TV, and anime

This weekend sees the premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones spinoff sequence, House of the Dragon. What higher time to rejoice one in every of fiction’s nice legendary beasts?

The Polygon workers has put our heads (and wings) collectively to deliver you our favourite dragons from motion pictures and TV past the world of Westeros. Included are fearsome dragons, foolish dragons, and just about every thing in between.

Who are your favourite dragons in fiction? We restricted our choices to motion pictures and TV, however that doesn’t imply it’s a must to! Let us know within the feedback.


From: Sleeping Beauty

Maleficent in her dragon form in Sleeping Beauty

Image: Disney

Fun truth about me: Long earlier than her look within the Kingdom Hearts online game sequence or Angelina Jolie’s portrayal in Robert Stromberg’s 2014 darkish fantasy film, Maleficent was my favourite Disney villain as a child. I principally attribute this to steer animator Marc Davis’ impeccable idea design and Eleanor Audley’s grandiose vocal efficiency, which mixed elevated an in any other case one-note antagonist right into a scene-stealing villainess for the ages. Needless to say, I can’t let you know what number of occasions I rewound my VHS copy of Sleeping Beauty throughout Prince Phillip’s climactic battle towards Maleficent, now reworked right into a terrifying fire-breathing dragon. Is it a bit tousled that part of me was rooting for her to win ultimately? Possibly, however I remorse nothing. —Toussaint Egan


From: How to Train Your Dragon

Toothless the dragon flashes a gummy grin in How to Train Your Dragon

Image: twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Toothless is the king of dragons as a result of he’s really simply the proper mixture of cat and canine — from his antsy and chaotic vitality to his playfulness and diehard loyalty. He’s goofy and loves good head scratchies, however he additionally jumps into battle to defend Hiccup, his human good friend who constructed a mobility gadget to assist him fly after a disabling damage. And that’s simply within the first film! The complete trilogy is unbelievable, and Toothless is an absolute champion — good friend to human and dragon alike. I’d die for that good boy. I’m not crying, you’re crying. —Nicole Clark


From: Spirited Away

Haku the dragon stands bloodied in Spirited Away

Image: Studio Ghibli

At first, Haku from Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 masterpiece is only a boy, sober and competent, with a fully fierce pageboy haircut. Then, he’s a dragon, each serpentine and wolflike, each beautiful and frighteningly wild. He corkscrews by way of the sky, not as if he had been flying however as if he was the wind itself — probably the most thrilling expressions of flight from a director who had a career-long obsession with depicting it. But even this isn’t Haku’s full, elemental self. Haku is in truth a river, an precise power of nature, and it’s his soul — and extra to the purpose, his polluted physique — that our younger heroine Sen should save.

Miyazaki makes his environmental level, however Spirited Away is rarely about only one interpretation, or one viewpoint. This magical movie exists within the area between worlds, and no character higher demonstrates that than Haku. —Oli Welsh


From: The NeverEnding Story

Atreyu and the dragon Falkor in The NeverEnding Story

Image: Warner Bros.

Even when you solely dimly bear in mind this 1984 fantasy movie, two issues about it will likely be scored indelibly into your mind: the theme tune written by Giorgio Moroder and sung by Limahl, and the picture of a boy using a large, fluffy, white, stoned-looking dragon-dog-thing by way of the clouds.

That’s Falkor the luckdragon, who kindly assists each Atreyu, hero of Fantasia, and Bastian, the boy studying a guide about Atreyu’s adventures. His weird, shaggy, dopey look was conceived by director Wolfgang Petersen; particular results director Brian Johnson wasn’t too pleased about it. But Petersen’s imaginative and prescient has been borne out. This is kind of a wierd and haunting movie and Falkor is its signature picture, beloved of a era of children. —OW

The attractive dragon from Shrek

From: Shrek

The dragon in Shrek has flowers in her mouth and nuzzles Donkey, who makes simp eyes back at her

Image: Universal Pictures

Dragon, the attractive dragon from Shrek, is a popular culture icon. Because Shrek has was a cultural juggernaut and limitless supply of memes, the large plot twist that the dragon was a lonely, scorching girl dragon who simply wished just a little loving obtained a bit misplaced. But it was revolutionary when it occurred — and in addition revolutionary that Dragon and Donkey had a bunch of mutant kids.

Dragon is an authorized baddie and the one unhealthy factor about her is that she undoubtedly ought to’ve been featured in additional motion pictures. I paid homage to Dragon with a Halloween costume final yr and I hope I did her justice.

Also — do you know that the dragon in Shrek is definitely named Elizabeth? I positive didn’t. Technically, this might simply be a bit, however at one level, Donkey shouts, “I’m coming, Elizabeth!” whereas fainting. —Petrana Radulovic


From: The unique The Hobbit

Smaug flies with his mouth open in the animated The Hobbit

Image: Warner Home Video

Forget Peter Jackson’s CGI Smaug within the ridiculously overstretched live-action model of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit; actual ones know that the OG model within the 1977 Rankin-Bass film is without doubt one of the all-time nice film dragons. Have Gun – Will Travel star Richard Boone gave him a gravelly, wealthy, aristocratic purr of a voice, however the animators made him a uniquely visceral monster. This isn’t some upsized model of a well-recognized reptilian creature, or a modern fantasy wish-fulfillment pet; Smaug is illustrated with intimidatingly high quality particulars, with irregular enamel, coarse hair sprouting from his face and again, and a bulk that means a predator sufficiently big to eat every time and wherever he needs. The Rankin-Bass model picks up what Tolkien was laying down in drawing his dragon from traditional heroic epics: This is a beast of an older, extra primal age, one thing fearsome in measurement and energy that’s additionally fearsome in its craft and crafty, even when he’s finally useless sufficient to be tricked into courting his personal dying. —Tasha Robinson

Puff the Magic Dragon

From: The Seventies animated particular

Puff the Magic Dragon

Image: Paramount Home Entertainment

The pleasant dragon of Peter, Paul and Mary’s traditional tune obtained a trio of gently absurdist animated TV outings within the Seventies and ’80s, courtesy of CBS. Burgess Meredith voiced the dragon, a form of ersatz grownup able to each providing knowledge and of seeing the world with the identical outsized imaginations as the children he helps. Written by Romeo Muller, who additionally scripted the Seventies adaptation of The Hobbit and wrote lots of Rankin-Bass’ stop-motion vacation specials, Puff the Magic Dragon and its follow-up specials positioned the genial dragon as a form of mixture fantasy BFF and insightful little one psychologist, main his children by way of bizarre fantasy lands that assist them course of childhood traumas and get previous their very own dysfunctional defensive mechanisms. Where the unique tune has him sadly retiring into oblivion when his unique little one companion grows up and forgets about him, these specials instructed that Puff is a form of everlasting method station for troubled children — and that imaginary buddies are a useful software on the trail to rising up. —TR


From: Raya and the Last Dragon

The dragon Sisu preens in Raya and the Last Dragon

Image: Disney

We’re so used to TV and film dragons representing some type of energy, hazard, or power that it’s enjoyable to see the behavior upended in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, a fable constructed round a dragon who’s initially loads lower than she appears to be. Voiced by Awkwafina, the dragon Sisu — the final dragon within the fantasy land of Kumandra — is a typical Awkwafina character, chatty and energetic however not significantly masterful or assured. The hero of the story, Raya, has to take Sisu on a journey to reclaim her dragon household’s energy, which initially places them on a footing the place the human warrior is the assured, succesful, skilled one, and the dragon companion is the hapless, goofy tagalong — a dynamic that slowly reverses as Sisu rediscovers her heritage and historical past. It’s a type of mismatched-buddy dynamic complemented by Sisu’s ebullient cheer and joie de vivre, additionally uncommon traits for a display screen dragon. —TR

Sol Regem

From: The Dragon Prince

Sol Regem stands on a mountain in The Dragon Prince

Image: Netflix

There are plenty of distinguished dragons in Netflix’s terrific fantasy sequence The Dragon Prince, and the clear meant fan favourite is the newborn dragon Zym, who’s gone from early McGuffin to slowly growing character over the course of the present’s current seasons. But whereas Zym is cute and permits quite a lot of plot, the Sun Dragon Sol Regem is a way more dominant character, regardless of being a relatively small a part of the sequence. An historical dragon blinded by a scheming human mage, Sol Regem turns into a major antagonist within the present’s third season, and an necessary consultant of the old-guard pondering that retains the younger protagonists from realizing their idealistic notions of peace between nations and species. He’s a formidable power, the equal of a pure catastrophe with a grudge and an agenda, and the episode the place the heroes face off towards him makes for a very spectacular visible and verbal battle. —TR


From: Pete’s Dragon

Elliott the dragon in Pete’s Dragon carries a tree like a stick

Image: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

David Lowery’s 2016 remake of the 1977 hybrid live-action/animated musical asks an necessary query: What is a dragon, if not a canine with wings? —Pete Volk


From: Dragonheart

Draco the dragon in Dragonheart

Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Look, Dragonheart is… I’m not pleased with what Dragonheart does to me. It’s a film a few knight (Dennis Quaid) making buddies with a dragon (Sean Connery) and years in the past that dragon gave half his precise coronary heart (DRAGONHEART, DO YOU GET IT?) to avoid wasting just a little boy after which that little boy grew as much as be a tyrant who can’t be killed until the dragon can also be killed however now he’s the knight’s large grumpy CGI good friend and he’s additionally the final dragon ever as a result of the knight killed all the remainder of them.

At least that’s my recollection from seeing Dragonheart precisely as soon as when it got here out in 1996. The story of Dragonheart isn’t necessary, although, neither is the 1996-era particular results that introduced Connery’s Draco to life. What’s necessary is Randy Edelman’s orchestral rating, which has made me totally tear up in the course of the blocky CGI dragon’s dying scene even when coming throughout it whereas channel browsing as a completely grown grownup.

Like I mentioned, I’m not proud. —Susana Polo

Reign of Fire’s dragons

From: Reign of Fire

The bull dragon in Reign of Fire faces off against Christian Bale.

Image: Touchstone Home Entertainment

What Reign of Fire lacks in any singularly notable dragon, it makes up for with its completely b-a-n-a-n-a-s idea: dragon-based postapocalypse.

You see, in Reign of Fire, dragons simply got here out of the bottom someday and destroyed fashionable human civilization. It was later found that this was a part of a cyclical sample and that dragons killed the dinosaurs. I’ll say that once more: In Reign of Fire, dragons killed the dinosaurs.

Christian Bale and Gerard Butler are greatest buddies and the leaders of a band of people who’ve managed to outlive in a rural English citadel — i.e., a constructing product of fireproof stone. Life is difficult — from the dragon assaults — however secure, till, what else: The Americans present up. In the type of Matthew McConaughey because the tatted-up chief of a dragon-killing helicopter assault squad. McConaughey convinces Bale to go on one loopy mission that may change all of their lives: Travel throughout dragon-infested England to kill the one feminine dragon, who has been nesting within the coronary heart of London all this time.

Reign of Fire will not be a great film. But it is an expertise that I like to recommend wholeheartedly. —SP

The dragons of Pokémon

From: Pokémon

Charizard giving a thumbs up with a pikachu on its shoulder

Image: The Pokémon Company

Dragon is a sort of Pokémon. Charizard will not be one in every of them (observe: Mega Charizard X is), however he’s clearly a dragon! Look at these wings!

This one goes out to the precise Dragon-type Pokémon (shoutout to Dratini, Dragonair, and Dragonite), but additionally those which are clearly dragons however don’t rely as Dragon-type (Charizard and Gyarados, for example). —PV


From: Transformers: The Last Knight

Dragonstorm flies over green mountains in Transformers: The Last Knight

Image: Paramount Home Entertainment

Dragonstorm destroys a vehicle in Transformers: The Last Knight

Image: Paramount Home Entertainment

People who understandably dismissed the Transformers motion pictures earlier than the fifth entry missed one of many oddest Hollywood blockbusters in current reminiscence. The Last Knight opens with a face-melting medieval battle sequence that culminates within the first look of Dragonstorm, a three-headed dragon robotic. Yes, you learn that accurately. —PV

King Ghidorah

From: The Godzilla franchise

King Ghidorah roars in Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster

Image: The Criterion Collection

His title says all of it: Ghidorah is King, bow to him. He’s obtained three heads, can shoot lightning out of his mouth(s), and is without doubt one of the solely monsters harmful sufficient to actually take it to Godzilla. Also, his first film (Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster) completely guidelines and is one in every of my favorites of the early Showa-era Godzilla movies. —PV

King Ghidorah (meme variant)

From: The web

The “Three Headed Dragon” meme, showing a three-headed dragon with one very goofy looking head

Image: MichaelJLarson/DeviantArt

This meme spawned after 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters (maybe the one good factor to return from that film), taking part in off director Michael Dougherty’s joke that one in every of Ghidorah’s three heads is a doofus named Kevin. I like Kevin very a lot. —PV


From: Monster Hunter

Rathalos, a roaring dragon-type beast, surrounded by flames in Monster Hunter

Image: Screen Gems

Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation of the online game franchise is an efficient old school large display screen popcorn blockbuster, and one of many important points of interest is the enormous dragon Rathalos. Look at him roar! —PV

Jake Long

From: American Dragon: Jake Long

Jake Long gives a sparkling smile in dragon form in American Dragon: Jake Long

Image: Disney

As a child, it was actually cool to me that Jake Long got here from a biracial household, with a Chinese mother and a white dad. Jake transforms right into a dragon and he’s in command of serving to save magical beings throughout New York City (and sometimes saving common folks from magical beings). The artwork type randomly modified from season 1 to season 2, turning Jake from a buff dragon right into a extra serpentine slender one, however he nonetheless has my complete dang coronary heart. The world-building within the present is tremendous cool and there’s a complete order of dragon-shifting people, with dragons designated for every nation. There are quite a lot of cool dragons on this present, however Jake Long is the best — simply hearken to that theme tune! Also, he’s voiced by Dante Basco aka Prince Zuko, so what’s to not love? —Petrana Radulovic

Ran and Shaw

From: Avatar: The Last Airbender

The dragons Ran and Shaw dance in Avatar: the Last Airbender

Image: Nickelodeon Animation Studios

These two historical dragons had been showcased in a really memorable Last Airbender episode — their one and solely look on the present. I’ll keep away from spoiling the rationale why for any who nonetheless haven’t seen the present, nevertheless it’s a hypnotic and shifting sequence. —PV


From: Mulan

mushu shrugging

Image: Disney

No dragon record could be full with Mushu, the scene-stealing comedic power in Disney’s greatest film (don’t attempt to battle me on this). Mushu is fantastic for therefore many causes — he, like Mulan herself, is an underdog determined to show his value. But it’s Eddie Murphy’s improbable efficiency that pushes this lizard — I imply dragon — into greatness, with a mix of tender earnestness and hysterical supply that makes him a stand out. And when you disagree with me — dishonor in your complete household, dishonor on you, dishonor in your cow. —NC


From: Dragon Ball

Shenron is summoned in Dragon Ball

Image: Fuji TV

It wouldn’t be a listing of dragons with out Shenron. Dragon Ball followers, contemplate your want granted (and have a blast in Fortnite). —PV


From: One Piece

Momonosuke in dragon form is ridden by Luffy in One Piece

Image: Crunchyroll

When Momonosuke was launched within the Punk Hazard arc, I hated him. He was a cowardly little child who did nothing however cry. To be truthful, he went by way of some traumatic stuff, however he was a brat who was in fixed want of saving. Yuck. However, after the Wano arc… sheeeesh. Minor spoilers, however his mastery of his Artificial Mythical fruit that enables him to show right into a dragon, and his character growth locations him on this record as the most effective dragons of all time. (Note that Kaido will not be on this record. Me and my homies hate Kaido.) —Julia Lee


From: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Tohru in dragon form in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Image: Crunchyroll

Tohru is the ride-or-die dragon girlfriend that I want I had. Not solely is she a robust dragon that isn’t to be messed with, however her loyalty and love for Kobayashi is unmatched (although some may say it will get obsessive, which I get). She’s additionally a housemaid, so, you understand, she does all of the cooking and cleansing, which is certainly one thing I can get on board with. —JL

Penelope and Hugo

From: Barbie as Rapunzel

Penelope and Hugo, the dragons, look at each other in Barbie as Rapunzel

Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Is this a deep lower? Depends on how acquainted you might be with direct-to-VHS masterpiece Barbie as Rapunzel (2002). For those that didn’t develop up continually rewinding this VHS, Barbie as Rapunzel is mainly the fairy story of Rapunzel, however with some Barbie-fied twists. For occasion, this Rapunzel is a gifted artist who finally makes use of a magic paintbrush to create portals.

Can I simply say how a lot I like how the Barbie fairy-tale motion pictures make the heroines robust and succesful, with motivations and wishes past discovering a prince? Anyway, on this model of the fairy story, Mother Gothel (performed by none aside from Anjelica Huston, y’all!) retains two dragons: the formidable Hugo (David Kaye) and his plucky daughter Penelope (the one and solely Cree Summer). While Hugo is the picture-perfect massive dragon henchman, Penelope would fairly goof round with Rapunzel than guard something. The two conflict, particularly since Penelope sucks at doing fundamental dragon issues like flying, however finally Hugo grows to admire his daughter’s loyalty to her good friend and the way she stands up for the precise factor. I simply assume they’re neat, OK. —PR



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